Kripalu Days
June 30, 2008, 2:23 am
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I am at Kripalu now. If you don’t know about Kripalu check it out www.kripalu.org. I arrived last Thursday.

After the Bhakti Tirtha Swami festival, HH Radhanath Swami went to Chicago and I went to Kripalu. Actually I hung out in Gita Nagari for a number of hours and ate pancakes at Mother Tarunis house then went to Spruce hill Lunch with the New Vrindavan crew for sandwhiches and soft serve ice cream cones. Then I played with Venu Madhava and Madhumati for an hour or more as Deva Deva looked on in amazement that her children could come so close to getting really hurt.

When I was fully disqualified for a safe afternoon drive I hit the road. I was going to drive the full distance to Massachusetts but opted for an evening with VBD and Krishnagi in Clifton New Jersey. There we did our usual, shopping, eating, and talking about sharing Krishna Consciousness in the Universities. I love them very much as they have become such close family.

On Thursday after a full morning of japa, and shopping I drove up to Kripalu. I headed over to Derek’s house for dinner, America’s Funniest Home Videos, and a great night of sleep.

Friday Morning I chanted my japa at his estate, shaved my head, and ate almighty left overs after my primary series yoga session. I lazily made it over to Kripalu by 3 to check in. I am in hill house this time. It is a very nice place. It is a building about 1/4 mile from the main center so it is quiet. It is also newly remodeled for the semester intensive program they have here. University students can come and live here and study for a semester for full University credit. So this is where they live. Fortunately I brought my fixy so I can ride from my room to the main building in 1 and a 1/2 minutes. I am very glad I brought it. On Friday I also walked down to the lake to read before the sun set and chant Gayatri. I returned to my room around 9:30 or so and very soon my roommate Toshiro arrived. He is a senior yoga teacher in Tokyo. So humble and very appreciative. I couldnt ask for a better roommate.

On Saturday I had my first meeting with the teacher training directors and assistants. We organized our individual teaching schedules and overall plan of action for the next month. We met once more after lunch the I drove over to Steyvasant Falls New York to play Mridanga for a Kirtan Program at Karuna Shakti Yoga Studio with Keli Lalita Devi and Raghunath Prabhu. Check their site here at www.karunashakti.com. I stayed the night with Raghunath, Bridgette, Saci, and Rocco then in the morning went to a vinyasa class with Bridgette at Sadhana Yoga Center in Hudson New York http://sadhanayogahudson.com/. Today is Ekadasi so Bridgette made an amazing blueberry shake for me to take as I got lost driving back to Kripalu for my 2pm meeting. Our teacher Training stared this evening so Ill fill you in on that soon enough. That will be my world for the next month. Wish me luck!


vegan food spot check.
June 29, 2008, 2:26 am
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Vegan Food Spot Check

I love doing food “research”. You know, checking out what is on the market out there. We have to know how to present our “kitchen religion” in the most modern ways. In order to do that, we have to get out there and check those vegan restaurants out(before they close down).

A few weeks ago I was introduced to Kaya’s Kitchen. It is a Vegan Restaurant in Belmar, NJ. My brothers wife Kerri is vegan so we often talk about food and Morrissey among other more meaningful discussions. We visited this fine establishment on the night before her wedding. OMG! I ate so much I felt sick. Really I ate more and more and more I could not stop. I was a true glutton. My tongue was devouring, my mind was devouring, my pocket book was devoured. I felt sick. Actually I over did it in protest of Bhima Ekadsasi the following day. It’s just one of those things which I learned to do. If its Ekadasi the following day then that evening you eat way too much and especially you fill up on grains as if you may be tied over for the next 24 hours during your fast. It makes no sense but it is within our ISKCON culture to do so. So we ordered, veggie burgers, perogies, fake chicken wings, fake bbq ribs, philly cheese steaks, lemon drinks, french fries, onion rings(not me), banana cakes, bluberry pies etc…. the list goes on. Some how everything fit in my stomach. Well I totally recommend that you go there if you are a restaurant person or need to have a business luncheon or take the family out to eat.

My brother needed a wedding cake for his wedding so they asked around about vegan cakes. A friend of theirs mentioned a straight edge lady in Philly who makes amazing cakes. So they checked out her site and contacted her. Her company is called Lotus cakes Studio. They arranged a cake testing meeting and upon meeting her they found out she was a devotee. It was Vedika! This is a perfect example of someoen utilizing their talents to both serve Krishna and maintain themselves minimally to continue their Krishna Conscious practice. She is the queen of cake making in Iskcon and well known beyond. Is there anyone who can compete? If you are getting married with a a few hundred miles of Philadelphia or need some amazing cake for some other reason. There is only one option-Vedika. The whole wedding was well worth it simply because I was able to distribute prasadam to every guest in attendance! Actually there were many wonderful parts of the wedding but Ill post that soon.

a whole day of singing to God.
June 28, 2008, 2:29 am
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This last weekend was the 24 hour kirtan festival in New Vrindaban. I can honestly say it was the best festival of the year. Flat out. If anyone would like say differently I would appreciate hearing your reasoning although I wont agree.

The festival was direct and to the point. It provided opportunities for 1. Developing taste for chanting the holy name(Nam Ruci) 2. Service to the Vaishanvas(Vaisnava Seva) and 3. Sharing the essence of Krishna Consciousness with others(Jiva Daya).

More devotees were in attendance than Festival of Inspiration and the energy was beyond the limits of all expectations. The lodging was very inexpensive, $25 for two nights, and the prasadam was free. There were tshirts and other merchandise for sell which sold old rather quickly.

The kirtan line up was extraordinary; HH Sivaram Swami, HH Radhanath Swami, HH Niranjana Swami, HG Badahari Prabhu, HG Madhava Prabhu and countless other exemplary musicians.

Devotees showed up on Friday night for an amazing kirtan with HH Sivarama Swami and most went to bed early to prepare for a the next day’s devotional madness.

Every melody was eloquently chosen and perfectly accompanied by hundreds of sincerely dancing, crying, and singing participants. Literally all day and all night every kirtan was impressive. Sri Sri Radha Vrindaban Chandra seemed to be ingesting the devotion being offered and infusing the audience with the remnants. The kirtan was enhanced by every moment of dedicated participation.

The lights went out! This made the festival only sweeter. What else does one need than the holy name? The water still worked and the stoves still lit. I personally did not hear one complaint.

Just a week before the kirtan festival my heart had grown some what distant from New Vrindaban. There are many reasons for this. Primarily a lack of vision. I am young and enthusiastic to serve. But eager to serve a mission, a vision of something which is fulfilling and where my skills, talents, knowledge and contacts can be utilized fully. I could no longer see myself letting days, weeks, months and years go by without accomplishing much for New Vrindaban. Basically I felt useless in my connection to New Vrindaban. Meaning I felt that either (whether this is a reality or not) anything I do is not appreciated, any of my ideas are not respected, or that the way things move anything i do will not be supported, and any ideas I have will not be implemented or given room to develop. So I came to a conclusion that better i just not affiliate with the project of New Vrindaban and that would open up new doors by clearing up a lot of guilt of not serving Sri Sri Radha Vrindaban Chandra and Srila Prabhupada effectively.

Then the festival happened… and I reconnected with the potency of New Vrindaban. When I returned from New York to New Vrindaban I was truck by the shear beauty and tranquility of the environment. First thing that pops into my mind when I am in New York is, “this is hell”. First thing that pops into mind everytime I walk around New V is, ” wow look at the potential, this is heaven!” My mind floods with ideas as to how to develop and utilise each aspect of New Vrindaban.

Then my Gurumaharaja arrived. This is the greatest enjoyment/satisfaction in the world for me when I get to serve HH Radhanath Maharaja. Any environment becomes Vaikuntha when I am engaged is his service.

Anyone who knows me closely understands my life is desirous of this service eternally. In his service I feel complete. I am learning slowly to see all I do as his service, but it is a slow process.

The Vaishnavas started to show up in masses. The devotees truly decorate and beautify any situation. Other than serving HH Radhanath Maharaja I am often blessed with the opportunity to serve HH Romapada Swami when he comes to New Vrindaban. In between their services(i have a great story about cutting someone’shair), I got to lead up the lunch prasadam cooking with HG Dayal Gauranga Prabhu, HG Jagadisha Chaitanya and HG Janaka Rishi(JR). It was so much fun cooking for 500 people. We got to break out the 55 gallon pots!!! I was ready to stoke up a fire pit but we recently bought new candy stoves in the kitchen that

did the job. The meal reminded me of the good ole Rainbow gathering days yet also put a seed of doubt in my mind about this years Burning Man festival.

So everything worked out, the festival was a huge success and everyone left. I was chanting in the temple room on Sunday late afternoon when HG Malati devi approached me and decided to share a few words with me. She has always been a big supported of my endeavors to serve. She truly respects me as a person and eagerly attempts to engage me according to my abilities. She always respects my opinions and needs in regards to everything. She also equally give words of wisdom and caution when she sees I may be moving upon a dangerous path. So she came up to me and began to speak to me. I could understand that she sensed my recent disconnect and cared for me anough to try to talk to me about it. That is what she did. Primarily

she began to share her experience of the recent festival and how much faith she developed in the Youth as capable servants of Srila Prabhupada and holders of the legacy of New Vrindaban. She pleaded with me in the nicest and kindest of ways to stay connected with New Vrindaban and Srila Prabhupada’s ISKCON. We have lots of work to do and we musn’t push away our calling to serve that mission. Talking with her confirmed my connection renewed confirmation that I msut remain connected with New Vrindaban. I love New Vrindaban and appreciate the community as a whole but recently I re-read Sita Pati’s article about community and felt

horrible not being at New Vrindaban right now and doing my own thing. But really I am not….. I am trying to learn how to develop and assit NEw Vrindaban. I am trying to develop a vision as to how to in one way eneable New Vrindaban to attract and care for Americans.

Ill share more on this topic later.

Right now I plead with you, do not miss next years 24 hour kirtan festival! The kirtans will remain forever documented but dont miss our chance to experience a  kirtan as performed by Sri Chaitany Maharpabhu for one full year.

somethings i do on time others i do not.
June 27, 2008, 12:57 pm
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I am sitting in a large house in the Berkshire mountains right now thinking, “should I do my yoga practice or not? I’ve finished my japa and I can either eat something for breakfast or do my practice. I can take the noon vinyasa class at Kripalu or even wait until the 4 oclock one…. Hmmm….. what to do? I can read Chaitanya Caritamrita or finish up Matsya Avatar Prabhus book on Yoga and health or I can finish up the letter which i was supposed to have done a few weeks ago, I can order checks to pay the bills or write a blog post. it seems as I sit here and think about what I should do I am ending up writing this post. I have not written much since Hridayanada Gosvami spent two months with us in Athens. It was a busy end of the year and I preferred riding my bike, hiking, reading his book or listening to him speak during my free time rather than write in this journal. I guess I can reflect on the past two months a bit now… Ill be here at Kripalu teaching for all of June and July before I head out to Burning Man and then back to Athens for our college year. At least that is the plan. One thing for sure is Ill have a little more time to write, maybe…. if i can fit it in with the rest of my plans……..

Notable activities from the past month(which I will write about more):

School finished and Acharyadeva left, spent a few days in dc and learned some life lessons, my brother got married in Jersey, helped finish Bhakti Tirtha Swami’s Samadhi, served Radhanath Maharaja at New Vrindaban, cooked for the 24 hour kirtan festival, attended a small festival in Gita Nagari, and now I am in Massachusetts.

“his laughter was oceanic.”
June 13, 2008, 1:28 pm
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In the memories of Sally Aggarwal she states that when Srila Prabhupada would laugh “his laughter was oceanic”.  I always remember that description.

This morning I woke up in Point Pleasant New Jersey. I hopped on my bike and rode the mile or two to greet the rising sun as I reached the beach off of Bridge avenue. In these parts of the world you have to pay to use the beach. There are signs everywhere which state you must always carry your badge to prove you are a paying customer. I guess because I was there so early no one bothered me. Actually there were only a few people at all on the beach. There were a few unsuccessful fisher men and my friend Ken who is the general manager of the Fatburger Franchise in Souther California. I didn’t bother to tell him I was a vegetarian. Interestingly his old girlfriend used to go to school at Ohio University.

I walked for an hour North chanting  japa. There was as short stop for offering respects to the sun and entering other asanas. Harmony can be found very easily in the presence of such powerful entities as the ocean and the early morning Sun. When you connect to the holy name in such an environment even better.

At one point while walking I found an overturned horseshoe crab. He looked prehistoric and had many other entitites living underneath his shell. I curiously touched him and noticed he was still living. He was about 30 feet from the tata rekha so I flipped him over and carefully placed him back into the ocean.

After reaching the boardwalk I turned around to chant the second half of my japa. I wanted to go swimming immediately when I got to the beach but I was a bit scared because no one else was around, I never went there before, and I was a bit under confident of my abilities to save myself etc… after a couple of hours of being near the ocean I decided it was time to enter the sacred waters of the Atlantic. I removed my pants and hoodie and walked closely to the water. With folded hands I requested, “Dear Ocean, You are great while I am not. I only ask for a short immersion into your waters. Please take care of me because I have to be at my brothers wedding tomorrow.” Sprinkling three drops of water on my head and with folded hands I walked into the water. It was so refreshing! I always forget the delight of an ocean swim. Lucky me I get two more mornings of beach japa, yoga, swimming and bike rides!