Sunday, October 25, 2009

Me and Krishna Consciousness

10 reasons why I am so happy and so grateful to be a part of the Krishna conscious movement:

1)The devotees(other ISKCON members)- They really love you, they are so concerned about you, nobody wants to compete with you or bring you down in anyway. They are so amazing!

2)The prasad- Most of the time we are only feasting. Puris, Kacchoris, rice, dal, 2-3 types of vegetables, 2-3 sweets is actually standard fare in any ISKCON program. More importantly it is prepared with so much love and since it is offered to Krishna it tastes nectarean.

3)The festivals- Life is one big celebration for us. A typical year begins with flower festival, gaur poornima and nityanand trayodashi, continues with the sandalwood festival,ram navami, narsimha chaturdashi, jhulan yatra, janmashtami,nandotsav, balram jayanti, radhashtami, kojagiri and ends with govardhan pooja and damodar month. Festivals are all about fasting, decorating the deities and the temple, discussing pastimes of the Lord and then of course the feasting!

4)The kirtans- When the holy names of the Lord are sung with the accompanying of the Mridang and the kartal(cymbals), the harmonium and the jambo and everyone dances together its an out-of-this-world experience.

5)The social life- Between festivals, we are attending someones engagement, another's wedding, somebody's baby's naming ceremony, someone's deity welcoming and another's house warming. I am pretty sure any ISKCON member attends at least 2 social functions a month. Its crazy but its fun!

6) The logic- Everything is so logical. I mean all the 'big mysteries' are explained so sensibly. Everything makes sense when seen from the eyes of the scriptures.

7)The personality development- I think we end up doing everything. We participate in dramas, sing, dance, play musical instruments, cook, make flower garlands, jewelery, deity dresses, make presentations and public speaking, learn Sanskrit and Bengali songs and shlokas, learn proper rituals for deity worship, tend tulasi and grow flowers, develop marketing skills during book distribution and fund collection and develop people skills. Its gonna be hard to believe but trust me every ISKCON member is doing 90% of above list on regular basis.

8)The sense of purpose it gives to life- The whole feeling of being a part of Srila Prabhupada's mission, a global movement that is bringing about a revolution in the world cannot really be expressed.

9)Home is everywhere- No matter where you go- any other country, state, city, town or village- you can go to an ISKCON center and meet devotees who'll help you settle down and make you feel at home. Everyone is so like-minded- even if you dont really know them- you still know them. Everything you are used to is being done. You are at home.

10)The equality- There is no division whatsoever. Nobody is bothered about how much you earn, which caste/community/religion/nation you belong to, where you live, what you have studied, which car you drive or which mobile you possess. Everyone appreciates everybody. You get to interact with people from all strata of society and it really changes the way you look at the world.

All this, along with peace of mind and as much happiness as it is possible to get in the material world and a great chance to go back to Krishna at the end-WOW!
My thinking is as follows- assuming there is no next life, no hell, no God, nothing then I have led a very happy and fruitful life and not missed out on anything in this life.
And if everything the scriptures say is true..... then I have been saved!!!
Thank-you Srila Prabhupada, Thank-you gurudev, Thank-you devotees.
I so dont deserve any of this.

"Vancha kalpa taru bhyashcha
kripasindhu bahevacha.
Patitanam pavanabhyo
vaishnavabhyo namo namah."

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Leftovers

Here are some tasty dishes you can make with left-overs:

1) If a little bit of 2-3 vegetable curries are left over from last evening's party just mix them all, add shev and farsan (umm salty Indian snacks), a little chopped cabbage and make misal. Have it with bread.

2)If the vegetables left are dry ones then just put them between bread slices and cook the sandwich in butter on a pan.

3)Left over idlis, can be dried, sliced and fried.(till reddish brown) Have them with leftover chutney or ketchup. Shallow frying them on a pan is healthier than in kadhai as they absorb lot of oil.

4) Make 'pappu dal' from leftover dal. (This is my grandma's recipe- she gave it the name too) Add tamarind water (obtained by soaking tamarind in water for 20 min), red chilly powder, a little salt and a little jaggery and boil it. Have with rice.

5)Convert curdled milk into paneer. Strain away the liquid and put the solid part in a muslin cloth and compress. You can also make kalakand(sort of) by cooking the solid part with sugar.

6)If there is excess milk and fruit make custard with the milk, add fruits and make fruit salad.

7)If there is leftover dosa batter- generally dosas don't come out that good next day. So add chopped cabbage, tomatoes, and coriander and make thick uttapas.

8)Excess left over rice, make fried rice.( This is standard recipe done in most Indian homes I think). Just fry ground nut, grated ginger, chopped chilly, sesame, jeera, turmeric, sambhar masala, salt, a sprinkling of sugar and chopped corriander and add the rice to this)

9)Excess chapattis leftover- make laddus. Break the chapatis into little pieces and grind them with chopped jaggery(3 times the chapatti quantity), roasted groundnut, khobra(or dry coconut) and little ghee. Make ladoos from the resulting mixture and enjoy!

10)Excess meat- give it to the dog.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Why am I here?

Well, till now I have always been talking about how the soul is trapped in the cycle of birth and death, in karma etc etc.
I am sure the question must have arisen- How did we get here in the first place?

Let us begin this discussion with the word 'dharma'. Dharma does not mean religion- a literal translation is nature or essential characteristic. For eg: The dharma of sugar is to be sweet. If its not sweet- it cannot be sugar. Similarly, the dharma of fire is to give heat and that of water is to flow.

What is our dharma? The dharma of the soul is to serve.....
Seems strange? Not really...... Think about it.... What are we always doing? Serving others. This is the only thing that gives us satisfaction. Either we serve our parents, or our friends, or our children and siblings. It gets extended when we serve our communities or our country. Even the loneliest person gets a pet and serves it.
This is our nature.

So there we were in the spiritual world, serving God and having meaningful relationships with each other. And then sadly we became envious and desired to enjoy separately from God. We wondered why only God should be getting service not realizing that our happiness lay in serving Him.

And so He sent us to the material world. And this is what we have been trying to do here- life after life. Trying to enjoy separately from Him. And according to our desires and our karma we keep getting different bodies, different facilities to satisfy us. But we will never find happiness away from Him.

If we want to really be happy forever and find true love we should just turn to God and focus on serving Him and returning back to our eternal position.

[This may seem totally crazy but its not -really. I know many, many really intelligent and talented people who believe in this and have transformed their lives. I feel that everyone should take up this path and change for the better. All it needs is a little bit of your time and an open heart]

[Reference: Bhagvad Gita As it is- Srila Prabhupada]

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Supreme Contradiction

The Supreme Contradiction

O Giridhar, mountain lifter,
Yet tottering while carrying Nandababa's slipper

O Damodar, personification of fear,
Yet You cried in fear of Your mother.

O Madhusudan, killer of demons,
In wrestling You, Your brother won.

O Eshwar, Supreme Controller,
Yet also Arjuna's charioteer.

O Govind, truth personified,
For Bhishma's sake, your vow you defied.

O Bhaktavatsal, Gopal, Nandlal
Your activities, a puzzle to us all.

P.S. Happy Diwali! May the light of love and knowledge shine in your life!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Funny things people say

Here are 5 of the funniest things I have heard people say......

1)"I am a descent boy....I dont pile on girls...."(in an online chat OMG!)
2)"There is no fire in me....."(in an email. This person was defending against the accusation that 'they did something wrong as there can be no smoke without fire')
3)"Send me your networking ass asap"(In a text message. How much effort does it take to type out that all important n?)
4)"It's in Pashan only"(On being asked where is Pashan lake located....)
5)"I hope they don't ask us to play table tennis! I am really bad at that....."(before an HR interview?!?!?)

P:S: If you find yourself here- no offense intended! :-P

Thursday, October 8, 2009

When Krishna played His flute....


When Krishna played the first note on His flute- autumn season appeared in Vrindavan.

When He played the second note, demigods like Brahma and Shiva stopped all activity and start listening attentively.

When He played the third note- the sun and the moon stopped revolving and froze in their orbits.

When Krishna played the fourth note- the Yamuna river changed direction and started flowing backwards out of sheer ecstasy.

When He played the fifth note- the cows of Vrindavan became still with their ears raised.

When He played the sixth note- the Yamuna river froze. Birds with their beaks dipped in the water got trapped in the ice.

When He played the seventh note- The unimaginable and the illogical occurred-all 5 seasons-spring, summer, rain, fall and winter appeared simultaneously in Vrindavan.

And then Krishna played the 8th note - beyond the seven notes known to us- and thus captured the heart of Srimati Radharani...........

[I heard this in a lecture by H.G Gaurgopal prabhu in Mumbai. I do not know the book it is in]

Monday, October 5, 2009

Comfort zone

Sometimes we get trapped in a comfort zone. A comfort zone is a place we are familiar with. It is a state of the mind.
"I can study for three hours only"
"I cant run faster than this!"
"I cant dance(or draw, or sing)"
Classic comfort zone statements....
But for how long are we going to remain in this zone? Sometimes situations force us to get out.... but mostly only an inner drive can push us through. I once succeeded in breaking out of one such zone. When I started doing crunches- I could barely do 5. But I worked on it, pushing myself daily, increasing the number by 2, until I touched 40- and it wasnt even so difficult anymore.

When Nauman completed his final roadies task, when Sudha Chandran danced with a wooden leg, when my brother changed his handwriting or when a friend finally succeeded in doing a headstand- it was all about gaining freedom- freedom from that zone.

So dont become complacent. Are you getting too comfortable? Then stretch the limits some more, hurt yourself , break free!