Sunday, February 27, 2011

Vyasa Puja Offering 2010

Dear Radhanath Swami,

Please accept my respects, and please offer my humble respects to Srila Prabhupad.

A couple years ago, there was a fad here in America where thousands, even millions, of people decided to wear bracelets embroidered with the letters: “WWJD?”

What Would Jesus Do?

I guess it was a reminder to Christians to be compassionate and loving, and to act in such a way to exemplify the life of Christ every moment of their lives. But I have come to believe that we can apply this principle to anyone that we admire as a beacon of love and compassion. So for the past year, something rather spontaneous has happened: more and more I ask myself a similar question: “WWRNSD?”

What Would Radhanath Swami Do?

Every day, I apply this question to the decisions I make in my life, from school and career choices, down to how I interact with the cashier at Wal-Mart. It has been a revolutionary experience for my heart.

I feel inspired by your example because I can’t help but feel that that every moment of your life you are living by the principles taught by Srila Prabhupad. And for you to stay in touch with those principles, and to apply them practically into your life, maybe every day you ask yourself, “WWSPD?”

What Would Srila Prabhupad Do?  

Isn’t that the most beautiful question?


Bhakti lata dasi

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Welcome to Mayapur

So. For the past several days I have been editing my first video blog post, "Welcome to Mayapur," which is a kind of sequel to "Welcome to Vrindavan." I'm rather new to video editing, so I've had a huge learning curve. This means I have been swimming in the sounds and images and memories and realizations of Mayapur




My mind is 100% absorbed in Mayapur. All I can think about is Gaura Nitai's mercy, Their unconditional love, and how much I want to go back. 

I have truly felt that even if this video only gets like, 7 hits, that actually doesn't matter. What matters is how I have been so immersed in the mood of Mayapur.

So now I feel honored to share this humble video with all of you.

(E-mail subscribers will need to click through to this link:

Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Honey Jar

This is a copy of a map that Radhanath Swami drew in 2008 for some guests that were staying at the Chowpatty Temple in Mumbai. The little arrow points to a very special temple with very special deities who are close to Radhanath Swami's heart.

And so one cool Vrindavan morning, with map in hand, a group of us boarded rickshaws and made our way through the twisting back alleys towards Moti Kund. We deboarded at the vast and empty Moti Kund, and while the others sped ahead, I walked as slowly as I could. I breathed and soaked in the moment. Here I was, at last.

We walked around to the open metal gates, and entered a vast and quiet yard with a giant tree that loomed over the temple. Two boys greeted us - one was older (maybe 12), in his traditional clothes of kurta and lunghi, and the younger one (maybe 9) wore Western garb. The older boy seemed to be the pujari of the temple, because he ushered us inside, then circled around and opened the deity doors.

A picture of Ghanashyam Baba was on the altar, and the deities of Radha Gopijana Vallabha smiled upon us. I felt like I needed to sit and stay awhile, though, to reach any of the honey in this jar. So I asked if we could sing Jaya Radha Madhava, since one of the lines calls out "jaya gopi jana vallabha..."

After about five minutes, to our surprise, the two boys carried in an old, beat-up dholak drum and 3 pairs of kartals on tattered strings. The pujari boy asked me, "Harmonium?" Stunned, I bashfully said no. I continued to sing, this time playing the dholak. After quite some, everyone in the group moved on to visit the temple of Banke Bihari. Still, I was searching for the honey in the jar of this temple. So I stayed. I remained on the floor to chant japa.

From a nearby temple, blasted-out speakers played old recorded bhajans which spindled their way into the templeroom. The melody was beautiful. I kept glancing at the dholak. At last, I put aside my chanting beads and picked up the drum. I sang the the same tune that filled the air.

I got swept away. I sang and sang, and the walls of the vast, empty templeroom echoed back. I kept meaning to stop, because I had to meet up with the others again soon, but I didn't stop. I couldn't stop.

And then... the two boys entered the templeroom again.  The pujari boy unlocked the Deity gates and went right up to the altar and right up to the deities to do something. Then he stepped off the altar, locked the gates again, and walked right up to me.

He held a kanti mala, a pair of sacred neckbeads, in his hand. The other boy looked on with a wide smile.

I stopped singing and the templeroom fell quiet. "I... uh..." I placed my hand on my chest. "For me?"

The pujari boy nodded.

I reached out a hand, and into it he dropped the mala. The string seemed so delicate, each bead handmade. Right then and there, I slipped it over my head. The wood was scratchy against my neck. I folded my palms to both boys and smiled, and they folded their palms and grinned in return. They they dashed off.

I continued to sing, stunned.

In reflection, I feel like what the pujari boy did was something Ghanashyam Baba himself would have done. Ghanashyam would have been so overjoyed that someone - anyone - would come to see His beloved Radha Gopijana Vallabha that he would want to reciprocate in any soulful, humble way he could.

Thank you, Radhanath Swami, for guiding me to that cool and quiet morning in Vrindavan. Thank you for opening the jar.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

My Dharma

My Education professor gave the class homework one evening, which was to answer the following question.

Why do you want to be a teacher?

In my culture and religion, the word "dharma" means "duty." But dharma also connotes a more subtle concept. If one has a certain nature, it is also one's duty to act within that nature.

My dharma is to teach. When I teach, I lose track of time. When I teach, nothing else matters but sharing knowledge. When I teach, I am the best I can be. No other profession compares to how I feel when I teach.

Actually, it's to an extreme - if I try to do any other kind of work, I struggle to wake up in the morning. Life drags. I look for excuses to escape.

But I have wanted to be a high school English teacher since I was twelve, in 7th grade. Sometimes I wish I had more flexibility for a possible profession, and I have even been berated before on my stubbornness to stick with teaching. After all, teachers don't get paid much. So one perspective is that I'm inflexible in career choice.

The other perspective is that I have discovered my irrefutable dharma, and I shall hold to that dharma through beauty and through pain.

I guess teachers get all poetic when we're asked this question - Why do you want to be a teacher? - because I think that teaching is one of the most natural dharmas of the soul. It is timeless. Regardless of whether one is a teacher by profession, I have come to this conclusion: learning is the nature of the soul, teaching is the duty of the soul, education is the dharma of every soul.

This is my life's devotion.

And that is why I want to be a teacher.

To write is to dare the soul. So write.