Categories
Reflections

VI: LORD CAITANYA’S WEAPON

In the battle to bring about a better society, victory will not be possible until the hearts and minds of the people are transformed.

As Śrīla Prabhupāda explains in his Purport to Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 1.13.47, “The kingdom of God, or Rāma-rājya, is impossible without the awakening of God consciousness in the mass mind of the people of the world.”

And for bringing about such an awakening, the most powerful weapon in our arsenal is hari-nāma saṅkīrtana, or the congregational chanting of the Lord’s names.

Categories
Reflections

V: APPEARANCE DAY

Today is the 20th of February, which happens to be the anniversary of my appearance in the Gohil family.

Birthdays are a time to celebrate the fact that a person is another year older, but is that fact alone worthy of celebration? I’m another year closer to the end of my life, but have I lived a life worth living? My honest answer is, “Not yet.”

The importance of human life cannot be overstated. Only as a human do we have the priceless opportunity to re-establish our eternal relationship with the Lord and ultimately return to Him. That is the true purpose of human life.

As Śrīla Prabhupāda explains in his Purport to Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 2.10.4, “One’s aim of life should be to go back home, back to Godhead, and not be subjected to repeated births and deaths in the material world by getting good or bad bodies for temporary existence. Herein lies the intelligence of human life, and one should desire the activities of life in that way.”

Categories
Reflections

IV: THE CASTLE OF BHAKTI

After attending a talk entitled “Castles in the Sand”, I did some thinking, and this was the result:

Like children building sandcastles on the beach, we make so many plans in the pursuit of material happiness and prosperity, ignoring the fact that everything we’re working so hard to build will soon be brought to an end by the inevitable march of time. This material world is temporary by its very nature.

We cannot control time any more than we can control the tides. Just as the movement of the tides is directed by the Moon, material nature is ultimately under the direction of the Supreme Lord, Śrī Kṛṣṇacandra, and only by turning to Him can we overcome it.

Categories
Reflections

III: THE MIND IS LIKE A PARACHUTE

There will always be times in life when we fail, or when things don’t go according to our plan. And during these times, our mentality can either be like a faulty parachute that refuses to open and allows us to fall rapidly into depression, or a working parachute that cushions the fall and allows us to get back on our feet.

Categories
Reflections

II: KṚṢṆA IS CALLING

After doing kīrtana on a bridge over the River Thames, the following went through my mind:

Only a bridge constructed by devotional service, the holy name and the Lord’s pure devotees can take us across the treacherous river of material existence, which threatens to carry us away to the ocean of self-destruction.

Kṛṣṇa is waiting on the other side, but the roaring of the river is so loud that I am unable to hear Him calling to me. My heart yearns for the day when I will be able to silence the noise, for how then could I possibly refuse His call?

[Originally written on 19th September 2016.]

1474270524558

Categories
Reflections

I: SPIRITUAL HUNGER

The bodily hunger we feel when fasting on Ekādaśī and other special days should serve as a reminder that we must develop spiritual hunger to serve Kṛṣṇa.

[Originally written on 29th August 2016.]

1498748437670

Categories
Saṅkīrtana Stories

18/03/17 – King’s Cross

We set up outside the station, which is as busy as an airport, so there were guaranteed to be many people passing by who had never heard kīrtana before. We met a group of friends from Barcelona, who loved the kīrtana. They enquired about the meaning of the mantra and Rishi explained it using the pictures in Avatar Art. Although they couldn’t read English very well, they loved the artwork and took a copy of the book.

At one point, a mother literally had to drag her young son away because he desperately wanted to stay and listen to the kīrtana. Another boy got excited and started doing random dance moves, almost falling over as he gleefully jumped in the air. And another stared at us, as if mesmerised, as he sat in his pram.

One man from Hawaii dropped a 50 Euro note in the tray and walked off without looking back. Rishi ran after him and expressed his gratitude, and the man took a copy of Avatar Art and said that we were doing a great job.

One guy from Brazil that we met last week said he was searching for something spiritual and was eager to know more, so he came again this week with two friends and they stuck around and asked lots of questions. Blown away by the philosophy, they filmed Rishi’s answers and each took home a Bhagavad-gītā and Avatar Art, all sponsored by the generous donation from the Hawaiian. They were very grateful and said that they would join us again next week.

We were positioned beside a busy road, and there were a few occasions where Gaura Nārāyaṇa Prabhu distributed books to people in cars that were waiting at the traffic lights. And Rishi convinced the passengers of a bus to open the window so that he could pass them the last handful of sweets!

During the last hour, a homeless man approached and angrily exclaimed that we should sing in English, not some foreign language. He also said some unfavourable words that I won’t repeat. As he walked away, I prayed to Kṛṣṇa to help the man in some way, and I feel that my prayer was answered because he didn’t say another word after this, and simply stood nearby and listened to the holy name.

We ended the day with some characteristically fired-up kīrtana from Maneesh. Forming a train and dancing around, we gave the public a glimpse of the joy of devotion. The mercy of the holy name is most visible out on the streets, and this was a day where that mercy was flowing in abundance!

Categories
Saṅkīrtana Stories

04/03/17 – Uxbridge

As it was the weekend, a market was being held in Uxbridge, and we were positioned right in front of the market. As people exited the nearby tube station, their ears were immediately greeted by the sound of the mṛdaṅga and karatālas.

On a few occasions, we were approached by spiritual seekers who were very hungry for knowledge. One lady had been attempting to read Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, despite English not being her first language, and left with three small books and a Bhagavad-gītā. Another lady had been exploring Hinduism and was overjoyed upon receiving a Bhagavad-gītā. She also expressed interest in meeting us again in the future.

At one point, a blind man walked past with his carer, and he was smiling broadly due to hearing the kīrtana, despite not knowing the context of the sounds he was hearing. As Śrīla Prabhupāda explains in his Purport to Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 3.1.6, “The physical lack of sight does not bar one from spiritual progress. But when one is blind spiritually, even though physically fit, that blindness is dangerously detrimental to the progressive path of human life.”

By distributing his books and spreading the holy name, we can all assist Prabhupāda in his mission to reopen the spiritual eyes of souls who have been stumbling in the dark for far too long.

Categories
Saṅkīrtana Stories

18/02/17 – Harrow

On several occasions, very young children passed by and immediately began to smile and dance upon hearing the kīrtana. They appeared to be completely captivated, which baffled their parents! Being so young, their natural attraction to the holy name was not buried deep under the dirt of material life.

This is proof that what we are offering people is not something artificial. Every soul is naturally attracted to Kṛṣṇa, but sometimes that attraction is dormant and needs to be reawakened. Therefore, as Śrīla Prabhupāda explained in a 1975 speech, our mission is “to make people prepared for being attracted by Kṛṣṇa.”

Prabhupāda also once explained that the benefit to the public of taking our books and hearing the chanting of the holy name is that it creates a spiritual environment that can awaken souls, regardless of their background. So the importance of this mission cannot be overstated!

Categories
Saṅkīrtana Stories

13/12/16 – Harrow

Kṛṣṇa says in Bhagavad-gītā 5.18, “The humble sages, by virtue of true knowledge, see with equal vision a learned and gentle brāhmaṇa, a cow, an elephant, a dog and a dog-eater [outcaste].”

In his Purport to this verse, Śrīla Prabhupāda explains that “differences of body are meaningless from the viewpoint of a learned transcendentalist. This is due to their relationship to the Supreme, for the Supreme Lord, by His plenary portion as Paramātmā, is present in everyone’s heart.”

But how do we develop this equal vision? This evening, Rishi R. gave us a practical example.

Before the two Rishis, Chirag and I went out on door-to-door book distribution, Rishi R. told us that since Śrīla Prabhupāda is non-different from the teachings in his books, we are not just giving people books. We are giving them Prabhupāda himself, and by doing so we are giving them access to Kṛṣṇa, which is the most special thing we can give to someone.

We then attempted to distribute books on a couple of streets near the Harrow Bhakti Centre. At 9:00pm, we began heading back. I have to admit that because our allotted time was over, my mind was telling me that the job was done, and my book distribution mindset was therefore “switched off”. Without a second thought, I simply walked past a man who was smoking a cigarette outside one of the houses. But Rishi, on the other hand, was still switched on. He saw the man (who turned out to be a Portuguese man named Bruno) as another soul in desperate need of Kṛṣṇa consciousness, and immediately started up a conversation.

When Rishi presented the Bhagavad-gītā to him, Bruno was a little reluctant to take the book, but he took an interest in the smaller books. When he saw the cover of Chant and Be Happy, Bruno recognised the photo of George Harrison as the man who donated the Manor to ISKCON, and recognised Śrīla Prabhupāda as well. He had been to the Manor before. Chirag and I looked at each other with amazement when we heard all of this. Rishi asked him how he knew so much, and Bruno explained that his ex-girlfriend was a devotee. An even greater look of amazement passed between Chirag and I.