The passing of Bhadaranga Das Prabhu

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It was with great sadness i heard about the passing away of a wonderful devotee Bhadaranga Das Prabhu most would know him as Bhakta Ben who spent some time at Bhaktivadanta Manor.

His enthusiasm was indeed infectious and always took time out to talk, sit and share prasadam and whenever he gave class it was always personal and from the heart. With a great thirst for knowledge, leaving to enhance his qualifications so scholar’s would be more willing to hear about Krishna.

It was upon his return home to New Zealand catching up with family went for a short cycle ride and was hit by a truck instantly leaving his body at what many would see a very young age of 30.

He was indeed a unique soul like me not always conformist but with a love of chanting and reading Srila Prabhupada books, and always a joke or two to lighten the mood and put any difficulties faced into a positive perspective.

As always I pray to Sri Krishna for his onwards journey back home

And for many another great soul whose association we will miss

Hare Krishna

Camden Town, Hippest New Centre

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Camden Town is London’s hippest part of London, attracting thousands of tourists daily. We have been preaching here since 17 years and now we managed to open a nice centre. A four story building just off the high street.

We have daily prasad distribution, yoga classes, plans to open a juice bar but the main thing is we have an oasis for devotees to live and hold the Friday Feast , a chance to give Krishna to the conditioned souls, requesting the devotees blessings.
Your servant
Parasuram das

St. Patrick’s Day Parade; Central London

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Saint Patrick’s Day Parade Central London

There is a major newspaper in London called the Metro, of the top ten things to do in London over the weekend they recommended at number one, was to go on Harinam with these guys. (Photo attached)
900,000 people attend this festival in London. A great opportunity to distribute the Holy Name, Prasad, free booklets” On chanting Hare Krishna”, engaging the gurukula, and allowing the public to get darshan of the Lord of the Universe, Lord Jagannath.

Food For All at St Patrick's parade London 2017 from ardas on Vimeo.

Should we be taking part in the celebration of an Irish Saint?
Decide for yourself:

Srimad Bhagavatam
4.8.54
Purport (Excerpt)

Sometimes our Indian friends, puffed up with concocted notions, criticize, “This has not been done. That has not been done.” But they forget this instruction of Nārada Muni to one of the greatest Vaiṣṇavas, Dhruva Mahārāja. One has to consider the particular time, country and conveniences.

Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: They say, “Well, then, you can wear your Santa Claus
suit, but you’ll have to wear a Hare Kṛṣṇa button.”
Prabhupāda: That we can do. Never mind. But that is not under your
dictation. If I like.
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: They actually made us in New York, the court.
Prabhupāda: No, then there is no objection. But you cannot dictate…
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: What dress.
Prabhupāda: Yes. I may dress myself to your liking; I may not. Rather,
you like the Santa Claus dress. You are Christian. I am pleasing you
by dressing myself like this. Why you are not pleased? I am trying to
please you.

Your servant
Parasuram das

Answering an interesting question for those disillusioned with iskcon but want to attend iskcon events

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So I was asked a very interesting question the other day, it had a recurring theme that I’ve heard put in many different ways and also one that for me has the basic answer of reciprocation

The question is:

Why do we keep going back to iskcon events. Even though we know there is deep rooted sexism abuse and cover up?

Yes sadly not an uncommon experience the combination of corporate ISKCON and a few individuals who take advantage of a spiritual movement and abuse positions of power, some also question the whole paid courses stating mission drift.

So when such feelings are their and justified individually leaving a bitter taste their remains a need of association or just a need to feel a part of a significant event celebration (although the last event i personally attended was somewhat ruined by the constant bombardment for laxmi, it is not attractive); wholesome reciprocation is all that is needed.

For me it is time to enjoy talking to very sincere devotees about the particular pastime and exchange ideas and thoughts on reaching out to those we meet, simple discrimination means we choose those who enliven us and inspire us in increasing our love of devotion.

But their is something more significant, the presiding deities the special connection we make and actually how Sri Krishna demonstrates the most perfect form of reciprocation, he heard us chant Hare Krishna and that simply reignited our love; no matter what happens because of this purity of love we return simple to take darshan and by doing so this purity of love is simply increased no matter what else we experience.

And I’ve met over the years individuals and families who only come once or twice a year just to see the deities and in a loving exchange give a little something just because of the purity of love felt.

So that for me is the reason why we keep on coming back, it’s not ISKCON but the deities and a simple need of the soul to see them.

Who you whilst their choose to associate with well that comes down to discrimination, choose wisely

Hare Krishna

Rugby, ISKCON and the pursuit of money a thought

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The other day i sat and watched a small unassuming game of rugby RCG and Merthyr it wasn’t​ a high profile Welsh regions game or international, indeed it was a small crowd in a small club rugby pitch.
So why mention it, especially here in my blog?
It reminded me of old school rugby before the pursuit of money in my humble opinion ruined it, the rugby was indeed its purest but for me it was the crowd especially the RCG supporters with the beautiful Welsh hymns ringing out, and even when it looked like they had lost the songs continued (RGC won in a last gasp few seconds on the clock try).
Over the past few weeks I’ve been pondering and reminiscing about those early sweet few years when first meeting the devotees and what it taught me compared to what I’ve seen over the past few years
Money and the pursuit of money corrupts
The other day someone said a small sentence that rang more than a few Bell’s with me and clarity came in it went like this: how come we come and are told we have to do devotional service, but when we want to make progress and move to initiation you charge, where is the loving reciprocation?
And that was it LOVING RECIPROCATION
Over them early years their was never ever a request for laxmi, the devotees had time to answer any questions and initiation didn’t involve paid for course’s; indeed the devotees made sure you felt special and because of this you simply wanted to reciprocate.
The most shocking and hurtful thing happened when this pursuit of laxmi meant i was charged to see my own Guru Maharaja, and i was trying to work out what was more hurtful charging me as a disciple to see him or charging others to see him.
Why charge?
There is NO excuse or Need to Charge
To share love of Krishna and especially if you have a facility to do it is service, if your charging then service attitude is lost
Again in those early days the devotees had very little but they simply wanted everyone to come here their Guru Maharaja no charging but if you wanted to make a donation to help towards costs then this was seen as beautiful devotional seva.
Seva is king
Reciprocation between devotees is king
Making business and charging pollutes both of these
And so this is why i use the term ISKCON, it’s the original ISKCON i was first introduced to, no charging but simple beautiful reciprocation
And Corporate ISKCON, the one that has stripped out beautiful reciprocation and says well if you want initiation you pay for these courses, fill out these forms and our committee will decide your eligibility
Money and it’s pursuit corrupts
It has ruined the​ game of rugby, and for me it has ruined the purity of Srila Prabhupada ISKCON and loving exchanges
But I’m guessing most who will read this will miss the simple point I’m trying to make and continue to claim I’m anti ISKCON
Hare Krishna

Nothing

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Nothing
It has been a sobering few weeks as i finally started to sort through and clear out my basement from the things a devotee stored many years ago and sadly passed away.
Out of respect I’ve gone through every box and it gave me an opportunity to also sort out the recycling a requirement before the many trips to the skip, with each trip the basement returned to an empty state and all that is left is a few boxes and a couple of photo albums.
Réalisation
As i entered my home after a number of trips to the skip i compared the emptiness of the basement to the fullness of my home, slowly over the years I’ve accumulated so much and get somehow I’ve not noticed time for my own clear out of things no longer needed.
It also occurred to me one day i don’t know when someone will be going through my home or if I’ve moved on my belongings and like me off it goes to the skip.
Deep down I knew that somehow what the devotee stood for in the material body he had for such a short time had disappeared hopefully to be periodically remembered but as i leave my own material body not even a footnote of his existence will remain
And this will be the case for me also in what will be a short period of time
Thoughts
Best make sure that the short time of life is productive in as much as one gets to escape the material world and in this lifetime return to the spiritual world, at least it means this life has had real meaning
Yes
Simple living high thinking
The only way

Personal Wealth in devotional service

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Personal wealth
It’s an interesting concept that value of individuals is sometimes based on bank balances the size of the wallet
We judge depending on our own view of wealth, however it is easy to become envious of another’s personal wealth when it outstrips our own especially if that individual is in the renounced order of life, after all why should they have any personal wealth?
The reality is living in a society where money is king it’s impossible to survive without any financial income, the difficulty is how much does one actually need?
No matter what ashram one finds themselves in their is no getting away with it a certain amount of finance is needed, the question is when does the gaining of personal wealth becomes of concern
Sadly I’m hearing more and more saying they want paid devotee job, or opening centres based on the vast income it provides, and when those we see as leaders appear to have a personal wealth which matches that of big business men one could say “who can blame them”
There’s a difference
Understanding
A devotee understand that there​ is no such thing as personal wealth no matter what ashram
And that personal wealth is like our intelligence and material body only temporary, effort based on its accumulation including admiration and status is a futile effort.
The reality is the intelligence and personal wealth is temporary
How it is used makes a difference
Srila Prabhupada wanted books published, when we have books we need a place for those who read them to go, we then need self realised individuals to manage them and to help the individual’s progress and in time open their own centre’s
It’s impossible to have a saying in every city, town, village if their is no master plan and to make it happen the use of personal wealth is needed, even those with little personal wealth can do simple small prasadam distribution and kirtan; remember Srila Prabhupada started with a few rupees and as the movement increased he used the laxmi not to make personal wealth but to make facilities to make devotees and warned us not to be sidetracked by things, rooms, temples, position and wealth
Personal wealth is only personal wealth if we see it as mine
Personal wealth isn’t if we see it as a gift from Krishna so it is being used​ it to make devotees
Ultimately we remain accountable for our own actions and motivations
If we go to Sri Krishna with business plan to make personal wealth there may be success indeed millions could be made however Srila Prabhupada points out that being business Sri Krishna owes you nothing and one will not return home, if however one’s only motivation is not self gain but to make devotees then Sri Krishna remains in debt to his devotee and going home is assured
It’s a thought to ponder
And the motivation in gaining any personal wealth is one only each individual can answer and be accountable for, so use it wisely

Surviving the material ocean

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So earlier on in the week i had the opportunity to do a sea survival course which included a two hour practical session covering all that one needs to know in the case of abandoning the vessel.

It was for me exhausting and i found muscles i didn’t know existed, but did impress upon me how difficult and determined you have to be in order to survive; indeed the instructor made an interesting statement of fact “one is only a survivor only when you are back home” and the most vital point “the safest place is normally the boat, stay in it and only abandoned when their is no other option”

It did however focus my mind on how we chose to leave the safety of the spiritual world and being born into this material world are swept along by our senses and with each moment that passes were moving further away from Sri Krishna

Fortunately I have been offered the opportunity to get into the lifeboat in the form of the holy name’s of Sri Krishna, Srila Prabhupada books and the association of devotees; but don’t be fooled into thinking now i am safe, i am still under the influence of material nature and it only takes one moment a second of inattentiveness​ and again find myself being swept out of the lifeboat back into the material ocean and suffering.

One of the main things learnt was how to maintain once inside of the liferaft, routine and making sure that we clean out any sea water that may enter and most importantly a positive mental attitude that will be the difference between survival or not.

The only way to escape the material ocean is to maintain my own daily routine of chanting, reading and basking in the association of other devotees when the opportunity allows

And remember I’m only safe once i awaken in the spiritual world and be aware that even though we are in the spiritual life raft every second one needs to remain alert

I would however recommend a sea survival course and whilst doing it ponder how what is being learnt can be applied to our survival in finally escaping the clutches of this material ocean and how even when in the lifeboat difficulties will remain, yes spiritual life has its ups and downs but is well worth remaining with.

Don’t let the mind or others or the difficulties faced sweep one away from the lifeboat of spiritual life

Hare Krishna

Congratulations or Commiserations upon initiation (a thought)

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So meeting a wonderful devotee after his initiation i asked him a simple question “is it congratulations or commiserations?”

He looked a little confused, indeed it is a transforming moment in anyone’s life; and the beginning of a life most extraordinary so in many ways congratulations is in order.

But for those observing outside it can be a moment of commiseration as the focus goes from the pursuit of material gains and as society in general puts emphasis on possessions and financial wealth; and for those who have gained real knowledge understand really​ no value in this which goes against society norms.

So our dormant love of Krishna is woken and initiation is the outward sign of this and seeing others take this step indeed reminds me of this step, but it reminded me of one what i feel is one point to ponder.

The need to remain attentive

Not to let standards slip and to increase our love of Krishna and devotional service

As our spiritual selves emerge and increase from the dormant stage to an active stage, thus being in the material world our old material pursuing self goes from an active to a dormant stage.

The moment one feels well I’m most senior, I’ve been around for so long, or believe that one can become a little less strict in reading and chanting them instantly we can return to the point where we rejoin society in material pursuit

Initiation is a truly wonderful and remarkable the start of real living an opportunity few have and one best shared with everyone, and how best to show our gratitude for such an opportunity. Keep to our initiation vows and make devotees

Hare Krishna

What does anti-ISKCON mean?

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When we label someone what is our intention?
Is it to elevate, chastise or keep a individual in their place
One of the most interesting labels I’ve been given and used effectively to sway a committee against myself was that my blog; and thus by default me as an individual is anti-ISKCON. What is most disturbing is that the word of one individual was enough to seal my fate and no one spoke checked or asked, indeed I’m not anti-ISKCON but anti individuals leaving ISKCON due to the corporate we have rules management style.
The thing is we can read, listen and watch Srila Prabhupada and one thing I’ve observed is his compassion and understanding of individuals he knew his disciples would have their own battles and difficulties along the way. He dealt fairly and most importantly didn’t want anyone to leave ISKCON admit is to be a home for everyone, not an elite or those who have no problems following rules.
It’s interesting that when one becomes so wrapped up in “we have rules Prabhu” we forget this is Sri Chaitanya Sankirtan Movement and in this age of Kali there is no other way than the chanting of the holy name’s, it’s the power of the Mahamantra not enforcement of rules.
Srila Prabhupada started the whole movement based on this chanting, indeed the three greatest gifts, harinama, books, prasadam with the simple instruction we distribute them.
And their is no greater joy than these three things.
Upon initiation Srila Prabhupada then introduced then four regulative principles, I like to call them the four protections as it saves those who follow them from great hardship and suffering. It takes time to progress to the point when following is second nature, fall down is and should be expected but this does not reduce the person’s sincerity or determination and the mantra we have rules seriously doesn’t help.
When I look at life long followers many have had problems, fall down and difficulties but it is not rules that have kept them but friendship a personal relationship with a devotee who like Srila Prabhupada is full of compassion for the fallen soul. Friendship and the getting together to chant and share prasadam is more powerful than rule following, and for some this is where they are at and happy and so my question is why push them and make the person unhappy?
It appears that being wrapped up in rules and courses we forgot Srila Prabhupada wanted personal relationship.
For me that’s the key, and by our honesty with each other great strength can be drawn and great progress on a spiritual path of self realisation can be achieved.
Friendship not rules is the key
And that was Srila Prabhupada success he was friend and ever well wisher to all introspective of rules following or not as long as they wanted to chant Hare Krishna and render some service, so even today we see the different flavours of disciples of Srila Prabhupada and that for me says it all from the rule followers to those who just enjoy chanting.
Each perfect in their own way, this for me is ISKCON able to accommodate and be a home for everyone.
And I am reminded and end on a comment Srila Prabhupada said “please try to get on with each other” for he knew we would be all individual and different, let’s celebrate this.

But that makes me anti-ISKCON I believe