Thursday, July 31, 2008

KuliMela LIVE - Day 1

This is a festival to cross borders. Picture this: 350 gurukulis from 25 different countries, all drawn to the lush hills of Belgium with sometimes nothing more in common than a passion to connect and to inspire one another.

As I write this on the evening of the first day of the KuliMela in Radhadesh Belgium, I realize with a depth I've never known how much Krishna crosses borders. No matter our language, our country, our body, our culture - Krishna reaches past all of those walls to touch our heart. Many don't speak English here, but when bhajans began to fill the castle grounds this afternoon, we all became in sync.

From my personal realization, I feel infused with a desire to serve. And the spirit is infectious.

Stay tuned for the next four days and I shall attempt to write every evening updates and realizations (hopefully a little longer than this one) on this mind-blowing festival.

If you are not personally here in Radhadesh, don't worry, Krishna knows no boundaries.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Rathayatra... in spirit.

I began my very short whirlwind tour of America in the fabulous community of LA. And after breakfast with the equally fabulous brother-sister duo of Shakuntala and Kuva, Sha invited me to dress her Jagannath deities. How could I refuse?

So thus I began my travels, dressing Lord Jagannath in Sha's quiet, sunlit living room. As I untangled beads and folded cloth, I realized that I had not attended a single Rathayatra this entire year, and nor would I. This thought startled me - a Bus Tour veteran, for the past several summers I have lived and breathed the Rathayatra festival. And now suddenly, none.

Sha told me that how I dress Lord Jagannath will be what They will wear for the LA Gurukuli Reunion as well as the Rathayatra. I will be far, far away by then... but my heart will be with Lord Jagannath.

So. I shall attend a Rathayatra this year after all.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Moonwashed Journey - Guru Purnima

Travel in Hawaii is dramatic. There are fourteen different climate zones on the Big Island; the towns are very unique, the people different in each one. So when I proposed to my mom to cross the island to attend Guru Purnima in Hilo, believe me, it was a big deal. Considering gas is 4.69, we decided to do the eco-friendly thing and hop on a bus. And so our day began with the sunrise.
We walked everywhere (4 miles, according to my pedometer). And when we were relaxing in the cafe I used to work at when I attended University of Hawaii, I saw branches of this fruit (lychee) lying on the sidewalk. Hawaii's a bit like that. The exotic is normal.

This path to the river is so deep I found the sign comical.

Approaching the temple at Godruma Gardens...

Above, Bodhayan Maharaj speaks on the occasion of Guru Purnima. Below, the melodious Chandra Kantha leads us in kirtan.
My first kirtan in two months, I could not resist dancing... in my limping way, I still encouraged all the other women to join in. Meanwhile, everyone offered overflowing flowers to the acaryas in our line. I meditated on my own spiritual master, Radhanath Swami, and offered him my respects.

I remember dressing the deities on the left, Sri Radhika Raman, many years ago with Mulaprakriti. Her enthusiasm and sincerity was contagious. I came away in stitches with laughter and also a sweeter appreciation for deities of Radha and Krishna.

Srila Prabhupad's vision was so powerful, so immense, that it has even touched this little town of Hilo. With profound gratitude, I offer my deep, humble respects to this beautiful personality.
Sri Mahotsava Guru Purnima ki, Jai!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Vyasa Puja Offering 2007

“[For the devotees who were listening to Chaitanya Mahaprabhu glorify Sanatan Goswami], the perfection of their life was simply to see another devotee getting the Lord’s mercy. When the spiritual master sees that this is our consciousness in the inner most recess of our heart, it is in that place where we become so dear to Him.”

- Radhanath Swami, Nectarean Mellows Series

To Radhanath Swami on his Vyasa Puja, 2007

Please accept my deep respects, Radhanath Swami. Please offer respects to Srila Prabhupad on my behalf as well and all of the divinely inspired acaryas in our line, for this is a day I have been reflecting on association and, most importantly, guru.

When you spoke on this pastime of Mahaprabhu glorifying Sanatan Goswami (the above excerpt), I felt moved in my realization of being a disciple. One word sums up the excerpt for me: humility. It is the humility to appreciate and glorify the Vaishnavas, even in the midst of my own hardships.

And the more I ponder this excerpt, I’m realizing how I strive for this consciousness because you possess it to such an astounding extent. It doesn’t matter the tribulations you yourself are undergoing or who you’re surrounded by, words of the most sincere appreciation seem to flow from your mouth, melting even the coldest of hearts. Surely Srila Prabhupad holds you very dear to see how you exult in the Vaishnavas in the inner most recess of your heart. And those dear to Srila Prabhupad are surely dear to the Lord Himself.

Thank you for your example. I pray that I may follow in your footsteps by reaching out to give glories to the Vaishnavas. And when I am a bystander, I pray that I may rejoice in their progress and triumphs on this path to the Lord.

Your servant,

Bhakti lata bij dasi

Friday, July 11, 2008

The Gift

Hafiz, a 13th century Sufi Muslim, captures my heart with his poetry. I firmly believe that anyone who reads him with an open mind, their heart will soon join mine in beautiful captivity.

I present to you several of my captors.

How Do I Listen?

Do I
Listen to Others?
As if everyone were my Master
Speaking to me


Have the strength
To be a real
Hero -
That rare
Man or woman
Who always keeps
Even an angel needs rest.
Integrity creates a body so vast
A thousand winged ones will
"May I lay my cheek

Dropping Keys

The small man
Builds cages for everyone
While the sage,
Who has to duck his head
When the moon is low,
Keeps dropping keys all night long
For the

Chain You To My Body

These words
Are just a front.
What I would really like to do is
Chain you to my body,
Then sing for days
And days and

Two Giant Fat People

And I have become
Like two giant fat people
Living in a
Tiny boat.
Bumping into each other and

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

An Interview on Marriage With My Parents

35 years later....

Seeing that this year will be the 35th wedding anniversary of my parents, I figured they must have gotten something right. They were married at 18 and 20 (my mom the older) with my father fresh off the boat from Spain and very little English. They became devotees of Krishna together, raised three children, and pioneered several business ventures together, among other things. I think they've been put through the mill a thousand times... and are stronger for it.

So I decided to interview them on their experience.

I introduce to you Maheshvara Dasa and Brihan Naradiya Purana Dasi.

1. What does being married for 35 years mean to you?
Mom: It means to have a personal evolution with someone. Both of us have changed; we are not the same person we were 35 years ago: physically, spiritually, emotionally... we have evolved together. The emphasis is that we're not different - we have evolved.

Also, children are Krishna's way of making you humble [laughs]. It's an opportunity to realize how dependent you are on Him.

Dad: It means commitment to be together for the sake of a family and a loving relationship.

2. What keeps your relationship inspiring?
Mom: How we work together and support each other. With music, his business, my business, we communicate.
Dad: Music is integral to our life together. Kirtans and our spiritual experiences.

3. How does Krishna impact your marriage?
Mom: Krishna aligns us.
Dad: We feel most inspired when we play music for Krishna.

4. What gets you through the hard times?
Dad: Don't take things personally. Physiologically, men and women are just different. We both come with our own backgrounds. So take things in stride.
Mom: I agree. Be detached and just CHILL OUT.

5. What is advice you can give to anyone who wants to get married?
Mom: Check astrology - Chinese and Vedic.
Dad: Don't check astrology! [laughs]

Last words of wisdom?
Dad: PURE LUCK. We are the luckiest people in the world because we found each other.
Mom: I agree.
note: these pictures were taken in 07, not 02.

My three favorite quotes on this matter:
"Whenever you give your time, you are making a sacrifice, and sacrifice is the essence of love." Unknown

"If you love somebody, let them go, for if they return, they were always yours. And if they don't, they never were." Kahlil Gibran

"To love is not to look at one another, but to look together in the same direction." Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

changing bodies

This is my father. This photos series speaks for itself, I believe.

To write is to dare the soul. So write.