Tattva-viveka

The Audarya Daily

Guru-nistha Das - January 11, 2005 12:59 am

Guru Maharaja thought it was a good idea that I would write my personal experiences and thoughts on being here at Audarya. He said that he had wanted for a longer time to get somebody to chronicle the devotees' life and to give a better picture to the community of what is going on. I will be writing from a personal point of view because I have learned that people can relate to that a lot better and it gives a better picture of what it's really like to live here. Hope you like it.

 

 

On Friday 7.1. we flew from Poland to Finland. It was nice to see Krsangi and Kamalaksa again. Krsangi gave us a really comfortable scooter ride back to Porvoo. I used to live right next to K&K with 4 friends just before I left to Poland and I went there for this night. It was heavy. My good friend's mother called be and was really emotional and then I called to my parents and they were all emotional too. I saw few friends who said their goodbyes. It's hard to change your life. Especially since my life in Finland was materially and psychologically speaking a very fulfilling one. But we all know we we are going to die and we have to do something for our diseased condition. I stayed up late doing the final packing and talking with my good friend who used to be my partner for ten years. It was really hard to leave her there and my attachments were hitting me like hammers.

But off we went. The flight left at 9:40 Finnish time. We flew to Frankfurt and waited the flight to the USA for a few hours. When we were qeueing with GM to exchange some money a guy in front of us turned around and said to GM "Nice saffron". I thought the he was trying to make trouble but GM started talking to him in a relaxed way and the guy, who turned out to be american, was nice. They had a very natural and easy-going conversation, seemed like they knew eachother. When the guy left GM said "That's how people interact in America" and grinned. That would have never happened in Finland. Do I have to learn to Small-talk too? Scary.

When we were sitting at the airport chairs and eating veggieburgers that K&K had made for us, GM said "Did you know that burgers are cowherders' food?" I was a bit confused. They had burgers in Vraja? "It's because you eat them with you both hands. The civilized brahmins would never do that but Krsna eats with his left hand and stuffs food to his friends' mouths".

 

At 2:00 we were finally in the United Airlines jet. 12 hours to San Francisco. GM had the window seat and I was next to him. I was so tired, I felt like I had just risen from the grave. I fell asleep quite fast. After half an hour I woke up and to my surprise GM was gone. He came back a little later and explained that he had tried to wake me up but I was in so deep sleep that he couldn't make we wake although he shook me and everything. So he had to hop over me.

At some point the started serving refreshments. This Italian looking guy with a really fast tongue served our isle. He was talking fast and with humor and when he stopped next to our seats he folded his hands and said "Jay Haribol!" He gave a can of Ginger Ale and said " It tastes like straight from Vaikuntha" and then he gave the prezzels and said "It's not prasadam but good noetheless". It was funny and I wasn't really expecting this kind of service on a United Airlines flight. GM told that he had met the guy on another flight too and later the stuert brought GM his address on a post-it. Let's see if GM gets a new disciple.

 

After many bad movies and unsuccessful attempts to sleep we arrived on the San Francisco airport. I was surprised how easy it was to get through the Border control after hearing horror stories of deportation and fascistic border guards.

Vrindaranya was waiting for us and it was nice to see her. She took us to the car and we began our trip to Audarya. During the drive I was rolling my head like an owl. Everything was big and interesting. It turned dark quite fast and it started getting late so GM decided that we would stay over night in Santa Rosa. We went to the Govinda's restaurant and met Agnideva there. The restaurant was very nicely decorated and it turned out that it was designed by GM. Impressive.

We went to sleep at Agnideva's and GM had caught a cold.

 

I rested well but unfortunately GM didn't because of his sickness. We left quite early. Finally I would see Audarya. The landscape was very scenic on the way. Grape fields and forrests and hills all around. And pick-up trucks.

We drove narrow roads up the hill and I was really looking forward to be there already. Finally we came to the Audarya property and it was like from a postcard. What a perfect place for a monastery. We walked towards the house and the cows paced to greet GM. The main house looked great. I saw Mohan and he was a lot bigger than in the videos Vrindaranya had put online. Cute guys! GM gave me a tour around Audarya. We went to see the bath house and I was impressed. Then we went to check out my yurt and I was surpised of how nice they look on the inside. Then we went to see the garden and Dayal Govinda's and Citta Hari's yurts. As we were rising the hill back to the main house and everybody were catching their breath, GM put is hand on his chest and said "it's good for the heart". Obviously he meant the exercise but I thought that yeah, this place is definately good for the heart in many ways.

Then we went to meet Sri Sri Gaura-Nitai. The altar and the Deities were beautiful.

I was very impressed with everything I saw. This is how a monastery should look like. And on the background of all of this are the pinetreehills with fog splitting the hills like in old Japanese paintings. Breath-taking. For a city kid like me, it looked almost unreal.

Towards the evening I started to feel restless. People have hard time adjusting to changes. I have read articles where people who have served long time in prison tell how utterly scared they were when they were released. And this is the kind of fear Iwas feeling. Freedom is a dreadful thing. Conformity follows no reason. It is to be seen wether I will correct my ways and live my life right or succumb to my criminal nature and go back to prison.

 

I was unpacking my stuff and thinking about my life in Finland. In times of uncertainty this is what seems to happen. But at the same time, I was feeling so much joy for being able to fight my fears and conformity and come here. I have escaped the Alcatraz!

I went to hang out to Citta Hari's yurt for few hours. He's the only one I hadn't met before so we had some catching up to do. Now I was confident that all the people living at Audarya are really down-to-earth, stable people with high ideals. We talked about many things like yoga, Motley Crue, Finnish pronounciation, pipe bombs, body building and constuction work but mostly we talked about spirituality. Citta Hari spoke really nicely about Guru Maharaja and it's good to be around GM's senior disciples because it helps me to understand so many things in new ways.

At 7:00 was the evening arati. The lights were out and only the altar lights were on. I was very happy to be there. This is what I've been planning for six months. This is it. I'm finally here.

Nanda-tanuja Dasa - January 11, 2005 1:43 am

Dear Guru-nistha, I would like to congratulate you with your move to Audarya. I'm sure the time spent in the monastery will be the best time of your life, you are in good hands. Very nice post, please continue.

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Madangopal - January 11, 2005 3:03 am

Yes Guru Nistha, please continue to post. For myself, never having been to Audarya or having much personal association with Swami, it is nice to live through your writing. Thank you also for being so personal with us all and sharing your thoughts.

Karnamrita Das - January 11, 2005 3:18 am

It will be great to have regular postings about Audarya. Its something I have wanted to see ever since the site began. This has occationally gone on, but its never lasted. I hope Maharaja will let this be one of your services. Hearing about life at Audarya and Swami's daily activities is sweet and enlivening. I am sure everyone here will greatly relish this as it helps us feel close to Swami and his activities, which I always am interested in. This is a really important service, and Guru-nistha Prabhu, may I say you are very good at it.

 

Yours in service,

 

Dasanudas,

 

Karnamrta

Shyam Gopal Das - January 11, 2005 9:04 am

I really liked reading this, Gurunistha. I hope many more reports will follow. It also brought back many memories of my stay in Arizona; the small talk (this is something I really love about the US), the cars, the roads, the scenic landscape...

I can't wait to visit Audarya, but alas I'll have to wait a few months for vacations.

Syamasundara - January 11, 2005 2:44 pm

It's been so heartwarming to read your report during this grey rainy morning. I could totally identify with the landscape, I had the same impression about the japanese mountains, etc. I just couldn't relate to the Govinda's part as it's after my time, i'd like to see it for sure.

As a matter of fact Gm has always wanted his congregation to have a constant glimpse of Audarya through the internet. One feature I remember of one website he envisioned once, was a window that would open its curtains on being clicked upon, and would show the deities with their daily outfit.

I wonder if for the time being we could have something like this on TV along with the daily quote: just a topic where the postings are one picture of the altar every day. I'd love to take charge of that if I lived there, but for now I belong to those who'd love to see it happen from here.

Guru-nistha Das - January 11, 2005 6:29 pm

Thank you all for giving good feedback. I'll keep them coming on a regular basis.

Syamasundara, I could definately start posting a picture of the Deities every day. It's a nice idea.

Nanda-tanuja Dasa - January 11, 2005 7:49 pm

Speaking the Deities, Syamasundara, don’t be a lazy bum and write something to "The Deities in Audarya" thread. I’m sure you have a lot of memories to share!

Syamasundara - January 11, 2005 8:49 pm

I promise myself everyday to write something offline and post it the day after, but now that you cornered me in public I must comply....

Who knows maybe tomorrow you will already find something.

Guru-nistha Das - January 11, 2005 10:40 pm

The first night at Audarya was pretty nice. It was quite chilly but luckily I got my Haglofs sleepingbag (those Swedes know what they are doing) that can take up to -10 C. It was amazing how quiet it was. All I could hear was the little river that flows past and few frogs croaking in the bushes. I had wished for many years that i could live some time in a Krsna Conscious rural community. When I mentioned this to GM at the Warsaw airport few days ago, he just replied "Nama cintamani". You get everything by chanting. I wish I had enough faith to really understand and believe it.

 

The first morning was interesting too. I woke up in total darkness and when I got out of the sleeping bag (which I had zipped so tight that it looked more like a swedish sarcofagi) I thought I was in Siberia. I put on my headlight and proceeded towards the bathhouse, still messed up from waking up, walking like a lifetime delirict looking for a hidden bottle. God.

The bath tub was really cool. There is a pit in the ground below the shower and you go there and let the water pour. Getting warm water from the shower can be difficult at first because the system is quite different from what I've gotten used to. It looks kind of like a safe lock and I heard that some people thought you can't get any warm water.

After the shower I rushed back to the yurt to put the tilakas and dhoti on. My skin was goosebumping so badly that when the skin got warm again, my tilak was full of little dots. There is a heater in every yurt that works on gas, but it would take a lot of propane to heat the room for the whole night and little austerity does good in my opinion (but don't make me take cold showers. I'd rater stand on my head for the rest of my life).

The Mangala aratik was beautiful. All the lights were out again and there were little candles on the altar and Sri Sri Gaura-Nitai were dressed nicely. Dayal Govinda led the kirtan (where did he get that amazing singing voice? Brittish people are supposed to just bark out football chants). It was a bit embarrassing that I didn't know about half of the lyrics but I'll learn fast in this company.

 

It's been raining for few days and I've had these weird Blairwitch project connotations when I've been running up and down the little paths to my yurt and the video yurt and to the main house and back again. In total darkness, rain running down your wet face and only the small spotlight as your guide but still you're feeling good. And it's good that you have to make a little effort to get to different places here. I can use some exercise, maybe my chicken legs will finally get into shape. Anyway, today it has been really beautiful, not much clouds and the sun is shining. After the Mangal arati I helped Vrindaranya in the kitchen. GM decided that I have to learn to cook and I'm happy about that. No more tofu splash or skull! We made vegetable upma that turned out very good.

 

Vrindaranya said that I could start training Mohan because he's getting a bit too wild. So I borrowed some cow books from her and studied them. When I was sitting in my yurt and going through instructions on milking a cow, I had to stop and think. Just few months ago I was at smoky clubs, shouting to the mic at the top of my lungs and the audience of misfit youth would go crazy and bottles and chairs would fly and fights would break out. And now I'm in the middle of a forrest 6000 miles from home studying cows and learning how to cook? Awesome!

 

At 10:40 I met GM in the kitchen. "There's my assistant" he said and we started working on mungdahl, rice and wet cauliflower potato subji. I heard that GM always cooks the lunch for Gaura-Nitai and I will be helping him every day. Wouldn't want to be anywhere else. In fact I have decided that when I go back to Finalnd the next time I will challenge Kamalaksa in public cooking battle and will defeat him. ( when I told about my plot to Citta Hari, he said "Revenge, that's a really Vaishnava thing to do")

It was really nice to work in the kitchen with GM. He told me how in the beginning when he joined they had a sheet of wax paper as a plate and they would each get few slices of orange, little oatmeal, eight chick peas and raisins to eat. And when he moved to the Los Angeles temple someone had an idea that the maha plate would be given to the one who distributes the most books. GM said that he thought he'd give it a try and after that he kept winning the plate every day. At first he thought that the maha prasad gave him the power to distribute the most, but a bit later he started giving out the prasadam to other devotees and realised that this was the real reason of his success, service to the devotees. " Prasadam made me understand that", he said with a smile on his face.

GM also talked about how diksa opens a whole new door to Krsna consciousness and he explained how everything in the temple revolves around the Deities. He told how it's possible, if you just really want to progress, to totally absorb in Krishna in trance. "You've got a lot to look forward to", GM said to me and laughed. I'm actually starting to believe that and it's the best feeling, to start having faith that we really can rise from the quicksand of thousands of lifetimes of doubt.

Bhrigu - January 12, 2005 5:36 pm

Thank you so much for your reports, Gurunistha! I am sure that I am not the only one envious of you for the opportunity you have been given. Please keep writing about your experiences and thoughts! And I hereby declare myself as a volunteer for the task of judging that cooking competion sometime in the future!

 

On a side note, I am also right now staying in a devotee community, Radhadesh in Southern Belgium. I was asked to give a one-week course on the World Religions at the Bhaktivedanta College here. It has been very nice; everyone has treated me very kindly, and there has been none of the secterianism I have encountered in Finland. Tattvavit Prabhu, a senior brahmacari disciple of Prabhupada asked me to give class this morning. He knows who my Guru Maharaja is (I warned him, be he already knew), and has no problem with it. I tried to speak as a service to Guru Maharaja, and apparently I was successful, since they asked me to speak again on Saturday before I leave. I had been quite pessimistic regarding our relationship with ISKCON, but this experience has certainly proved that there is hope.

Eija - January 12, 2005 6:19 pm

"just few months ago I was at smoky clubs, shouting to the mic at the top of my lungs and the audience of misfit youth would go crazy and bottles and chairs would fly and fights would break out. And now I'm in the middle of a forrest 6000 miles from home studying cows and learning how to cook?"

tume aka guru-nistha remember that with you screaming your lungs out ina band you gave hope to so many people. including myself. so don't ever regret that.

ain't mohan a boy...Male cows tend to be very wild...at least when tey are little. I remember that from my aunts farm....hmm. give all my love to mohan.

Guru-nistha Das - January 13, 2005 10:54 pm

Alright Bhrigu, you'll be the official judge! haha.

 

Last few days have been balanced and good. The jet lag and fear of changes are settling down and I'm starting to get into the daily routine. Mangal arati is at 5 AM, evening arati at 7 PM. Breakfast at about 8 AM, and lunch at 12. This is very different from my previous life. I didn't have much schedules before, except when to go to school, and even that is quite flexible since I am in an art school. Also, having spiritual practice as the sole center of my life feels very good. It's intense as anything, but at the same time it gives a good feeling that I'm not wasting my time. It gives a feeling of purpose in basically anything I do.

 

Today when we were preparing pasta sauce and sallad, GM talked a lot about the monastic lifestyle and how important it is for the whole congregation that there are people who are lifetime monks and that there is a place like Audarya. I couldn't but agree. I mean, that was one big reason why this group attracted me in the first place, that the high ideals were put into practice in a way I had never seen before. The power of a good example is simply huge. At least in my own experince, it gives so much faith if you actually see a person or a community that really exemplifies the high ideals that are taught in the scriptures.

I' ve been thinking a lot about what it takes to be a lifetime monk and we've been talking about it with Guru Maharaja in many instances too. And no, I'm not making any bloodoaths on my first week here! It's just interesting to think what kind of a person it takes to pull it all the way. One thing that GM has said many times to be important is that one is psychologically balanced. Some people may come to a monastery with seemingly high ideals, but the real motiavation is to run away from something in the material world. GM said that those normally last who have a good understanding of the goal where the whole lifestyle is aiming at and their motivation is not to run away from life but to reject the things that get in the way of reaching the desired goal. Then GM made a point that was quite radical for me when I heard it for the first time; "monastic life is not about running away from life, but about fully embracing it". Hmm... don't the four regs. kind of hinder you from doing a lot of things that normal people consider the culmination of life. GM has given a good example: If something is too close to you, you don't really see it for what it is, but if you step back for a while, you understand what it is and then you can embrace it in the right kind of and more meaningful way. That makes sense, doesn't it?

 

Another thing that GM talked about was enthusiasm and false enthusiasm. This was super interesting for me, because obviously I've been very enthusiastic for the last few weeks and I keep questioning myself if this enthusiasm is real and healthy or is it just beginner's fanaticism.

GM said that a symptom of false enthusiasm is that a person thinks he's rally advanced and is especially interested in very high topics. And that kind of enthusiasm dies out easily because if the person thinks he's already close to the goal and then realises that there is a lot to go, he gets discouraged. Then again, if person is genuinely enthusiastic, he sees that he's got a long way to go, but he's not discouraged by that because he knows that it's worth it to go the distance.

After talking for a good while GM said "That was today's lesson on enthusiasm", grinned and disappeared out the door. I continued washing the dishes and felt happy. I don't know if I'm able to ever do it for life, but that's not important. Important is to be situated in the best possible way for my psychology so that I can most effectively practice Krsna Consciousness. If it means wearing kaupinas for the rest of my life, so be it. Or if it means having a job as a streetsweeper and having 12 children, so be it (did I really say that? I'm losing it...)

Panchatattva - January 15, 2005 2:34 am

Guru-nistha, thank you for your texts about being with Swami and being at Audarya. Hearing about your intimate exchanges with Swami have given me such a wonderful model of what a guru/disciple relationship is. I've been listening to the lecture CD's and reading Swami's Bhagavad-gita, but reading your posts gives me a window into Swami's personality more. It is a super valuable service you are doing for all of us non-Audarya residents. It's nice to go through my day, knowing a bit about Audarya's day. I would also really love to see daily photos of the Deities. The ISKCON temple I live near posts photos of the Deities daily, and it's a great way to have darshan. I don't know if it would be possible, but some temples also have the oppurtunity to hear the morning program on the internet. It would be great to be able to join the programs there at Audarya via internet. I don't really know what it would take, but it's just something I've thought of.

 

Thanks again.

Pancha Tattva dasi

Guru-nistha Das - January 16, 2005 12:23 am

Thanks Panchatattva!

I'm glad to hear that I can be a sort of a cablewire between you and Guru Maharaja.

I give all credit to GM if I'm doing anything right (oooh, mr. Blade of Grass speaking here). It's really all about his ability to engage me just in the right way. In some other Vaishnava circles my sarcastic way of writing would've probably been taken as offensive. But he just said "Some of your writings just crack me up" and advised me to continue. Hehe.

 

I have to ask the others if it would be possible to record (at least parts of) the morning program and put it in the net. I was supposed to start to post a picture of the Audarya Deities every week (clothes are changed once a week) but I've been so busy and light-headed that I've forgotten it. I'll start tomorrow, I promise.

Bhrigu - January 18, 2005 2:32 pm

Gurunistha, I am already missing your daily reports! Have you been really busy or did you forget about us already? :) Please keep posting! Your texts are always interesting and enjoyable to read.

Guru-nistha Das - January 18, 2005 9:33 pm

Sorry for not writing for a while! I'm now also in a hurry so I'll put same pictures on and promise to write a real report soon.

 

 

I have been given the honorific post of training up Mohan to be a well-behaving bull and one of the things I have to do is to tie Mohan to the fence every day, from 15 to 30 minutes. That's why he's wearing the rope and a halter nowadays. Kishor came to cheer up his mate when Mohan was serving time.

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Guru-nistha Das - January 18, 2005 9:36 pm

Here's Nadia enjoying her life in the sun after it had rained. The weather has been quite nice, compared to the arctic climate I have been used to. Today it was as warm as it's in the summertime in Finland.

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Guru-nistha Das - January 18, 2005 9:42 pm

Here's a picture of Vrindaranya milking for one of the first times in her life. Guru Maharaja and Vrndaranya have been milking raga three times a day now. First it was really hard to get anything, she seemed to be dry. Mohan was separated from her so that he wouldn't drink all the milk. At some point though, Mohan went to Raga when GM and Vrindaranya were trying to milk her and immedeately when Mohan felt for Raga's udder, milk started to sprout. I had no idea that cows can actually hold their milk, although someone's milking them. So, now GM and Vrindaranya always let Mohan take the first sip and then it's a lot easier to get milk.

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Bhrigu - January 19, 2005 9:44 am

Thanks for the texts and the pictures, Gurunistha! It is so nice to be able to get a glimpse into the daily life at Audarya. Here in Finland the weather is not exactly arctic right now, but grey, rainy and terribly boring. Maybe we will have to start the Finvasion earlier than planned...

Forrest - January 19, 2005 7:19 pm
Here's a picture of Vrindaranya milking for one of the first times in her life. Guru Maharaja and Vrndaranya have been milking raga three times a day now. First it was really hard to get anything, she seemed to be dry. Mohan was separated from her so that he wouldn't drink all the milk. At some point though, Mohan went to Raga when GM and Vrindaranya were trying to milk her and immedeately when Mohan felt for Raga's udder, milk started to sprout. I had no idea that cows can actually hold their milk, although someone's milking them. So, now GM and Vrindaranya always let Mohan take the first sip and then it's a lot easier to get milk.

Very nice details about milking. It is amazing to see how much affection between cow and calf plays a part. It really makes me see milk in a different way, as a symptom of affection - rather than just a food commodity that is simply "harvested."

Guru-nistha Das - January 21, 2005 12:20 am

I'm back.

There has been so much going on at Audarya that I haven't had any time to write my reports, sorry for that.

I realized that my writing is beginning to sound like I'm some kind of a Bridget Jones of the devotional world, so I try to make this post a bit more serious. Here's a little update.

 

Guru Maharaja asked me to come up to his room in the monday morning. He started by saying that he's happy to have me here, and I knew some big news were about to be unfolded. GM explained the situation that has been in process for two months and said that he had made a decision with Dayal Govinda that it would be better for him to not continue monastic life. I had sensed that something was going on and this was one of my guesses, although Dayal was not acting weird in any way (any more than he normally is, haha). GM explained how it would affect life at Audarya and the amount of things we could produce. I wasn't at all shocked or displeased to hear about Dayal's decision. I'm just happy if he can find the most suitable situation for himself. I heard later that GM and the brahmacaris had been a bit worried of how I would react on it, but this whole incident only made my appreciation for Audarya increase, because the whole situation was handled in such a mature and natural way. It's so typical for so-called religious groups to look down on and put pressure on somebody who decides to move out but there was nothing like that in the air at Audarya. It also gave me a more realistic picture of how hard and rare it really is that a person can live his/her whole life as a monastic. I have maybe had a bit of this naive idea that you can just sell your record collection and reject your relatives and run to the monastery while shouting "Jay Haribol!" and then all your worries are all gone and your life is perfect. Don't get me wrong, I have an utmost respect for the monastic system (if it's on a healthy basis) and it definately is the optimum atmosphere to practice spiritual life. But my mind and false ego will follow me anywhere I go, there's no easy fix for purifying myself. Better just grab the bull by the horns (I wouldn't do that to Dharma, though).

After telling the big news GM said that he wanted to give me diksa and I of course agreed. He said that he will pick an auspicious day for my initiation. I'm really looking forward to learning all the diksa mantras and learning the Deity worship and going deeper into this. I've always wanted to blow to that conch. ha.

 

I'm happy to tell you that we have opened the gardening season. Vrindaranya and Citta Hari have been working hard in the garden, planting and... doing all the stuff people do in gardens (?). One day when I was cooking the breakfast with Vrindaranya, she was sitting on the chair next to the kitchen door and making these long long lists of things she's going to grow. She looked up from her papers and said "I just LOVE to organize things!" with a big smile on her face. She's a real powerhouse. People who know me personally are painfully aware that i'm one of the most impractical persons on the planet, and I have decided that Vrindaranya will be my get-your-act-together personal trainer. The other day she explained to me how she manages to cook the feasts on the festival days (the Audarya kitchen is quite small) and I was impressed. She thinks of every single detail beforehand and then just pushes through in a totally Spartan style!

 

On Tuesday, when we were cooking the lunch again with GM, he said "Do you know who this room belongs to?" My brain was klicking an empty beat again. "Radharani. It's her personal service to cook for Krishna, so this is a very high service we are doing. Even serving prasadam to the devotees is very high, what to speak of cooking." GM explained how the beauty of the bhakti path is in how it turns the basic necessities of life into yoga. "Everybody likes to eat and dance and sing, but we just do it all for Krishna. Even a child or a vegetable can practice bhakti yoga. But try to make them do hatha yoga!"

 

Yesterday we turned the templeroom into a studio. The congregation has bought really nice equipment to Audarya. Dayal was engineering all the stuff and it gave me a warm feeling, I have always loved to be in the studio when playing in bands. We recorded the morning program but there were slight problems with the computer program. We got the Tulasi Kirtan recorded and Dayal made a quick mixing. I almost dropped my jaw when I heard it from the headphones. This is real quality stuff! In the evening we set up everything again and GM sang in the little booth under the steps to his room, because the vocal mic is so sensitive that it picked up all the other instruments. Everybody's singing had a lot more feeling now than in the morning and after a quick mixdown, the recording sounded really, really good. Honestly, if I was in Finland now and heard this stuff, I would curse myself for not being present. But I was here!

 

Today GM said that he's still working on the 7th verse of Siksastakam. He told how in this verse Mahaprabhu's feeling turns from bhava to prema. He was obviously very happy with the text he had produced and he said it's quite deep. It's great to hear a little inside information on the book and how it's progressing. I wish I could get my hands on the book already.

Babhru Das - January 21, 2005 6:32 pm
Today GM said that he's still working on the 7th verse of Siksastakam. He told how in this verse Mahaprabhu's feeling turns from bhava to prema. He was obviously very happy with the text he had produced and he said it's quite deep. It's great to hear a little inside information on the book and how it's progressing. I wish I could get my hands on the book already.

Well, you're not alone in that. Oh, to be a fly on the wall. . . .

Mayapurcandra Das - January 22, 2005 11:50 am

After telling the big news GM said that he wanted to give me diksa and I of course agreed. He said that he will pick an auspicious day for my initiation. I'm really looking forward to learning all the diksa mantras and learning the Deity worship and going deeper into this. I've always wanted to blow to that conch. ha.

 


Dear Guru-nistha!

Please accept congratulations from your Polish friends :) We are very happy to hear that Guru Maharaja gave to you diksa mantra!!

hari bol!

with affection: mayapurcandra das :ph34r:

Guru-nistha Das - January 22, 2005 6:51 pm

I didn't get diksa yet Mayapurcandra Prabhu, but thanks anyway :) It's exciting.

Guru-nistha Das - January 22, 2005 7:45 pm

The last few days have been interesting. I've had these very stong and short home-sickness fits. Suddenly I remember some nice moment from last summer very clearly and I think of everything I had in Finland. Then I become slightly sad because I know that I can't have it back. Even though I would go back to Finland, I would know what it is like to live at Audarya and I couldn't probably be happy anymore living like I used to. I'm sometimes afraid that I get stuck in the middle, that I don't find peace of mind in anywhere anymore.

It's weird how the mind works. I've had good discussions with all of the Audarya residents about this, and it's interesting to hear from people who have gone through this how they managed the situation and what was important for doing it in a right way. One thing that Vrindaranya talked a lot about was to find the balance between not challenging yourself at all and pushing too hard. I really haven't figured out the middleground for myself yet. Citta Hari and Vrindaranya said that you have to know yourself very well to be able to find the balance, so I'm prepared to miss a step and fall down. I remember GM saying "If you fall seven times, how many times do you rise up? Eight."

I'm starting to realize more why GM stresses that we have to have good understanding of the philosophy, because when the mind throws bigger and bigger buckets of water into the mill of desire, I guess that only understanding of the bigger picture can keep us on track. And only when we get real feeling for Krishna are we safe.

 

But it's weird how my moods change really fast. I feel like I'm becoming schitsophrenic. Yesterday, when I tied Mohan to the fence again and sat down next to him and the evening sun was warming my back, every part of my being felt calm. It was so easy to breathe. The other calves were running around and their bells were ringing and everything was like it is supposed to be. For a while I felt different kind of happiness than what I had used to. I felt that I was in the exactly right place at the right time. That there's absolutely no better place for me to be, anywhere.

 

 

 

Then the more light subjects. The milking of Raga is going really well. GM and Vrindaranya milk her three times every day, after mangal arati, in the midday and after the evening arati. They get two cups of milk every time, so it's six cups per day (It's about 1 and half litres?). Pretty good for a miniature cow! In the beginning she was kicking and being retless while milking, because she hasn't been milked before, but now it almost seems like she'd prefer GM and Vrindaranya pulling her teat instead of Mohan.

 

Pancha Tattva Dasi inquired earlier if it could be possible that we put the morning and evening programs live to the net, but since GM is not giving any lectures in the morning, it would be the same songs and conch blows every morning, so I guess it's not very smart. We recorded the whole mangal aratis and evening aratis, so when the CDs are out (I have no idea when) they serve the same purpose. Maybe we can think of the live program thing again when GM has finished his book and starts to give classes again?

 

 

Here's a picture of GM listening to the evening's recordings.

post-5-1106423118.jpg

Swami - January 23, 2005 2:55 pm
The milking of Raga is going really well. GM and Vrindaranya milk her three times every day, after mangal arati, in the midday and after the evening arati. They get two cups of milk every time, so it's six cups per day (It's about 1 and half litres?). Pretty good for a miniature cow!

Yes, we have been getting six cups a day, but from only two teats, becasue while we milk on one side we let Mohana milk on the other side. This morning we got three cups from the same two teats! In two weeks we will be weaning Mohana altogehter. That should leave us with anywhere from 12 to 18 cups daily!

Madangopal - January 23, 2005 7:48 pm

dUdha ki jaya!!! What nectar service it would be to be a dUdha dude (milk man)...

 

:):ph34r::lol:

Mayapurcandra Das - January 24, 2005 12:23 pm
I didn't get diksa yet Mayapurcandra Prabhu, but thanks anyway  :)  It's exciting.

yes now I see :unsure: I didn't read your post precisely B) sorry :rolleyes:

By the way, in the near future GM will give you diksa mantra!

hari bol! :ph34r:

Mathura-natha Das - January 25, 2005 9:28 am

Thank you Guru Nistha for you postings! For the tme beeing i´m on the road with both of my bands and this is the first time i have had the opportunity to accsess internet and read about the life in Audarya. Despite the lack of sleep and food (welcome to the tour life...) I get some extra nourishment from reading this. You are doing a very important work here! Thank you!!

Guru-nistha Das - January 27, 2005 6:41 pm

Hello everybody.

My name is Gurunistha. I'm a materialist.

 

The other night when I was hanging out in the kitchen with Citta Hari after the evening program (that's what I seem to be doing every evening, greedily munching on the leftovers) and talking about lifetime brahmacarya(once again) he told me the motto of the Alcoholics Anonymous:

 

ONE DAY AT A TIME. STAY FOCUSED. STAY CENTERED.

 

He said that it's quite helpful when it feels hard being a monk too. "Today I'm going to be a monk, one day at a time. That's how alcoholics stay sober for decades". He made a fine point that sadhakas are in a very similar position than the people who are fighting with their alcoholism. But our addiction, material attachment, is a lot stronger intoxicant than booze.

I liked the analogy. It's funny, you really start to understand your attachments only when you are separated from them. When I was in Finland, I really thought that I wasn't that attached to my surroundings, but being at Audarya has taught me a lot in that regard. It's easy to put up a fake show of detachment if you're in contact with your attachments... We are keeping Mohan separated from Raga for the most part and it too has made me think of attachment. It may seem to him like we are really cruel for separating him from his mother and it's natural for him to long for her, but we know that in the long run, it's crucial for his well-being to start getting by on his own.

 

Let's rewind few days back. On Sunday Guru Maharaja held a Gita Darshan in Santa Rosa, in Agnideva's Govinda's restaurant. The turnout was pretty good, about thirty people showed up although the fliers were put up only four days before the program. It's going to be a weekly thing and I think there certainly is possibility for it to grow nicely.

It was interesting to listen how GM introduced such a lengthy subject. It's quite a stunt to explain Gaudiya Vaishnavism in 70 minutes. :rolleyes:

GM did a great job and the audience appreciated it. One thing I've noticed about GM's preaching is that he's expert in picking the right kind of approach according to the type of audience. On Sunday his approach was very broadminded and easy to understand for people who were not familiar with the philosophy. Also, now that I've seen a little how GM preaches in different places, I have realized that he has a certain approach in Finalnd too, a very fitting for our mentality.

At one point this drunk guy came in and started interrupting the lecture with some stupid remarks.

When Agni was escorting the guy out he shouted "The people you are talking to, they are all weak!". When the drunk was out, GM said "it's a common argument for atheists to say that people who bellieve in God are weak. And it's true, we are weak. But so are they, we are all weak. The difference between us and them is that they can't see it".

After the lecture we had Agni's halva and a hot drink. I met devotees who I had only heard the name of. It was also Dayal Govinda's last night, he went to San Francisco to stay at Vamsidhari's before flying back to England. It was sad to see him go, but sadhaka's gotta do what sadhaka's gotta do.

Anyway, the evening was nice and it's going to be fun going there again this week and meet up with people.

 

There would be so much to write about, but i have to stop for now. Stay tuned. (that is definately my favorite phrase)

 

 

Guru Maharaja brushing the little guys:

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Syamasundara - January 28, 2005 4:04 pm
Hello everybody.

My name is Gurunistha. I'm a materialist....

 

...It was sad to see him go, but sadhaka's gotta do what sadhaka's gotta do.


Guru Nistha Prabhu, you are definitely one of the most brilliant persons, or at least writers, I've ever come across. I look forward to meeting you, reading your posts is endearing and therapeutical for me who at present is living in this clueless, mediocre country that in ten years will probably know what "edge" means.

Jagannatha - January 28, 2005 4:29 pm

Guru-nistha, thank you so much for your posts. I very much appreciate reading about Audarya, and feeling a part of the community. I also admire your honest revelations about life as a monk. It's very inspiring to read.

Guru-nistha Das - January 29, 2005 6:25 pm

Thank you guys. Syamasundara, don't hold your expectations too high, I'm in fact quite a boring person in real life :)

 

 

Just remembered one story I thought of sharing with you. Last weekend Gopakumar and Vamsidhari were staying over weekend at Audarya. It was nice to get to know them, they definately are fun to be around. Anyway, after the lunch GM and Vrindaranya went to milk the cow, accompanied with Gopakumar. When I got out of the kitchen a bit later, I heard this storm of screaming and laughter from the barn. When I went to see what was up, I saw Gopakumar laughing hysterically, with milk running down his face. GM had played a smooth trick on him. While milking, he had asked "Gopa, have you ever seen the lotus flower at the end of a cow's teat?".

 

Yesterday Guru Maharaja and Vrindaranya both said to me that one could easily get the feeling from my Audarya Daily reports that I'm having a lot of doubts and hard time controlling my mind. It's funny, I hadn't even thought about coming off like that. But now that I checked my older entries, I noticed it's true.

What makes it even funnier is the fact that I've never felt as sure about wanting to live in a monastery as I do now. I feel great that I can do something concrete for GM and Audarya and I can't (don't even want to) picture myself in any other situation right now. Never before have I been this enthusiastic and determined to live a spiritual life. I hope I can always hold on to this feeling.

I'm pretty sure almost every new monastic goes through the same kinds of thoughts of contradiction I have gone through and it could be very counterproductive to suppress them. When I was driving GM to Santa Rosa last Sunday we were talking about honesty and GM said that being honest can take the edge away from a bothering thought and prevent it from growing into a monster.

Makes sense to me.

Nanda-tanuja Dasa - January 30, 2005 3:05 am
one could easily get the feeling from my Audarya Daily reports that I'm having a lot of doubts and hard time controlling my mind

Which makes you human like the rest of us. Your reports are honest that's why it's such a pleasure to read them. Your posts are superb, please don't start censoring yourself, keep it real.

Vrindaranya Dasi - February 1, 2005 1:49 pm
one could easily get the feeling from my  Audarya Daily reports that I'm having a lot of doubts and hard time controlling my mind

Which makes you human like the rest of us. Your reports are honest that's why it's such a pleasure to read them. Your posts are superb, please don't start censoring yourself, keep it real.

In case it sounded like Guru Maharaja and I were pressuring Gurunistha to change his posts, I wanted to say this is not accurate. When I was asked about the posts, I said that I thought they were a good portrayal of the things one thinks about when one joins the monastery.

 

Ys,

Vrindaranya

Nanda-tanuja Dasa - February 1, 2005 11:43 pm

I was talking about self-censorship. There's a good story you can tell, but it'll upset a friend. Or it's embarassing enough that you feel uncomfortable telling it. Or for whatever reason, you wonder if you should say something that might make for an interesting post. In this particular case "I hadn't even thought about coming off like that. But now that I checked my older entries, I noticed it's true", so logical conclusion is "Next time I will think twice about what I write and what impression it might make". Sorry if my comment was inappropriate. Being ISFJ personality and all, I have a tendency to stick my nose in wrong places.

Guru-nistha Das - February 2, 2005 12:01 am

To tell you the truth, Vrindaranya gives me every morning a list of subjects that I can and can't write about. And if I disobey, she hits me fifteen times with a bamboo stick :ph34r:

 

Life's been great (they made me say that). Last sunday we drove to Santa Rosa again to hold the weekly Gita darshan. I was a bit disappointed at first, because when GM came to Govinda's there were only about five persons in the audience. Agnideva started the kirtan. I like his way of playing and singing a lot, it's very slow and serene. When the kirtan ended I turned around to see if any more people had showed up and to my surprise there were about 30 people there.

Guru Maharaja's talk was pure fire and brimstone for the materialistic worldview. But the amazing thing was that he could do it in such a compassionate way. Nobody was cursed to hell and Satan didn't invent women's rights but it was so straight to the point and powerful. It was great to just watch him be so thoroughly into it and even if you didn't know anything about the philosophy, you could see he was completely filled with emotion. I said to GM after the lecture that if that would've been the first lecture I heard, I would've been devastated because it showed so clearly the futility of living for our material attachments.

 

One thing I've forgotten to write about is the Prasadam at Audarya. Man! It's not that we eat twenty different dishes every day, but the preparations are so sweet. Normally we have dahl or subji, rise and chapatis (chapatis are on my responsibility) and a sweet for the Deities. And sometimes, like today, we had sallad. GM is a top notch cook, no doubt. Especially his dahls are just so much better than the ones I have had before. And the subjis... Oh boy. Yesterday Vrindaranya made Gulab Jamuns and they were one of the best sweets I've ever had. Citta Hari's laddu is also great. It's quite an improvement in my daily nutrition. Also, we are getting so much milk from Raga that there's a lot of dairy products; burfi, curd, Vrindaranya's maple yoghurt(super), hot chocolate.. Seeing the whole process of producing dairy products has made me think a lot about how alienated people are from such basic things. I had never thought of how long it takes to make yoghurt for example. Today's society is such a weird place. We want all the basic needs fast and cheap so that we can have more time for ourselves. But what do people normally do with the time? Get bored.

Back to the prasadam. We take our lunch together every day in the temple room and discuss about different subjects. Today Gm told that he has been reading a book that consists of such persons' memories of Prabhupada who knew him before he came to the West. GM said that it's refreshing to see a book that describes Prabhupada's humane side, because the way he is mostly seen in the west is quite one-sided.

 

Today was time for physical labor. I cleaned up the cow barn with Citta Hari. I can tell you, there was a lot of dung to shovel. The smell was so intense. The smell of ammonia that's in cow's urine was so strong that it made me dizzy, but certain things just have to be taken care of. I felt rather manly, though. Pitchforks and dung was flying and sweat was running. At one point I considered that in the next weekly meeting i would suggest a liquid diet for the cows. :)

GM has instructed me that everything we do at Audarya should be seen in connection to the Deity. We are living on His land as His servants.

If I can do this job some day with my mind fixed, then I know that I have realized something.

Guru-nistha Das - February 2, 2005 12:11 am

Oh, I forgot to attach this.

post-5-1107303063.jpg

Bhrigu - February 2, 2005 10:30 am
Especially his dahls are just so much better than the ones I have had before. And the subjis...

 

Just warning you, Gurunistha, Kamalaksa is also reading this, and he might think that you are disrespecting his dahls... :ph34r:

Guru-nistha Das - February 2, 2005 5:11 pm

Hehee... He will probably send me a check now for all those countless times that I ate at his place.

Audarya-lila Dasa - February 2, 2005 6:48 pm

I want to give a very heart-felt thank you to you Guru-nistha. I have always wished that we who are so unfortunate to only visit Audarya on a irregular basis, if at all, would be able to have a window on Audarya by getting posts like those you are now providing. Your posts are absolutely wonderful! It is such an important seva to Guru Maharaja and the community of devotees. It is a delight to read your posts and the pictures add a very important element as well.

 

You have a very nice method of presentation that really makes your posts resonate with your audience - it is a very personal and humorous style and serves to help us all be transported in heart and mind to the spritual abode of Audarya.

 

I just wanted to thank you and give you some encouragement and feedback.

 

I look forward to meeting you in person when I am fortunate enough to come for a visit.

Gauravani Dasa - February 3, 2005 1:37 am

I would also like to add my personal appreciation for your writing Guru-nista Prabhu. I find it all very inspiring, and much of it I can relate to. I hope to one day be able to write as honestly as you. Please keep it up! :ph34r:

Nanda-tanuja Dasa - February 10, 2005 10:29 pm

So, what happened to "The Audarya Daily"? :ph34r: Please keep us up-to-date!

Jason - February 11, 2005 1:35 am

Guru-nistha,

 

I've never visited Audarya, I just stumbled across the thread and I'm loving every minute. You really are a great writer. Please keep them coming.

 

The photos are really nice too. I didn't realize all the interesting things that are involved in caring for cows. It's really nice that you're getting the chance to document your experiences this way.

 

YS,

 

Jason

Guru-nistha Das - February 11, 2005 5:50 pm

Hehe, you're right Nanda-tanuja, maybe I should change the subject to Audarya Weekly...

 

Thanks again everybody for the nice comments. I know I should be more active with this thread because people like to hear so much what's going on at Audarya, but it has been pretty hectic this week, I have been travelling to San Francisco and Santa Rosa and in few hours we should leave to Ukiah (an hour drive one way) to go get some cow feed and other important stuff (like fruit for me... ha).

But like Guru Maharaja said the other day, it's good to live an active life.

 

The big news first, GM has finished his Siksastakam manuscript! Now Vrindaranya starts to edit it and after editing comes proofreading and Vrindaranya designs the cover, then it goes to the print and finally it's out. It will still take some months, but I'm sure it's really going to be worth the wait! Few days ago we were sitting around in the kitchen and GM boiled some milk and served us hot chocolate. I really like those evenings, first the arati and then a little bit of chatting in the kitchen. GM talked about his commentary and said that he found it interesting that Bhaktivinoda Thakur was the first person to write a commentary on Siksastakam, although it's such a crucial Gaudiya text. GM was really happy with the conclusion, or the last pages of his commentary, he said it ends in a quite dynamic way. I asked him if he had the ending in mind in advance and he said "No, it just comes to me at the time I'm writing. That's how it always happens."

 

 

It's an interesting task to try to head back to your yurt from the bath house in the evening, when it's totally dark and you realize you have forgotten your flashlight. My yurt is in the end of a small path about 500-600 feet from the bathhouse and it's easy to get paranoid when you're in the middle of the forrest and you could as well have your eyes shut. You start to think that what if I get lost and can never find back again and in the morning the neighbor's dog finds my wretched, frozen body from their frontyard lawn..

and just when I'm in the darkest spot, taking babysteps and repeating my mother's name, I hear an owl. It may sound like it's no big deal, but everybody who was a kid in the nineties and saw the series Twin Peaks knows what I'm talking about. For the last few hundred feet my panic grows and I'm saying to myself "I swear to God I'll stop swearing and eating chocolate if Bob spares my life".

And as always, I get to the yurt alive and my fear and promises are forgotten.

 

Few days ago we made a trip to San Francisco to take care of things. I was behind the wheel and it was quite intense, although the traffic in SF seems rather mellow for such a big city.

We parked to Market, one of the biggest streets in SF, and the scene was rough. At least half of the people I saw were either addicts or mentally ill (or both). It made me really sad to see that, and gave a sharp reminder how lucky I was. It's easy to forget that I have come in contact with Krsna Consciousness purely through mercy and not by my own effort. When I remember it in these kind of situations I can't but feel thankful. It's crazy to see so concretely where our falsely directed desire can take us. And God knows I have most probably been in the same situation in my previous lives..

It felt like a glass of cold water in Sahara to come back to Audarya after the SF trip. It was so quiet and the city lights weren't there to blind us from seeing the thousands of stars in the sky.

Nanda-tanuja Dasa - February 11, 2005 10:54 pm
GM has finished his Siksastakam manuscript!

Great news! How's that book cover from Enaksi Devi coming along, does anybody know?

Citta Hari Dasa - February 12, 2005 4:41 am

The composition is being worked out. Enaksi devi sent an initial pencil sketch. Guru Maharaja sent her his comments/desired changes and now we are waiting for the next sketch.

Vamsidhari Dasa - February 12, 2005 11:01 pm

LOL

and it's easy to get paranoid when you're in the middle of the forrest and you could as well have your eyes shut. You start to think that what if I get lost and can never find back again and in the morning the neighbor's dog finds my wretched, frozen body from their frontyard lawn..

 

This happened to me once and I even have trouble walking in the daylight. It was like walking through nothingness and I was at Audarya alone with Their Lorships but still I trebmed. Im glad that Bob did not get you because we get to enjoy your wonderful posts.

 

We parked to Market, one of the biggest streets in SF, and the scene was rough. At least half of the people I saw were either addicts or mentally ill (or both).

 

Hey! Stop thrashing my hood!

 

V. :ph34r:

Nanda-tanuja Dasa - February 12, 2005 11:10 pm

Hey Vamsi, good to hear from you! Where did you disappear all of a sudden?

Swami - February 13, 2005 5:17 pm
The big news first, GM has finished his Siksastakam manuscript!

This is a bit deceiving. I did say that I finished it, but to me that means I finished writing the commentary to all the verses, but I still need to go over the entire text now that it has been written and make sure it all makes sense! I need, that is, to edit and refine my inspiration in terms of readability. I also need to poeticize all of the Siksastakam verses. So it will be some time before it is pased on to Vrindaranya.

Vamsidhari Dasa - February 13, 2005 7:10 pm
Hey Vamsi, good to hear from you! Where did you disappear all of a sudden?

Thanks for remembering me. I am always here lurking in the shadows. I do not have much time to write on T-V as my inspiration is rather mondane these days, but it is nice to know I was missed.

HARI BOL!

Vamsidhari :ph34r:

Syamasundara - February 14, 2005 2:04 pm
It's an interesting task to try to head back to your yurt from the bath house in the evening, when it's totally dark and you realize you have forgotten your flashlight

Oh boy, been there, done that. I'd walk veeeeeeeery carefully, arms stretched forward, with my chin up to protect my nose and eyes, and moving my eyes everywhere looking for any contrast in zero luminosity. And don't forget the muddy soil and that you may have no clean dhoti the following morning if u fall...

 

Bob means bobcat right? One of the most intense experiences I had was in the summer. We used to spend time in some guest house at the neighbor's. We had been talking of mountain lions for half an hour, how they attack at sunset and everything, and there I was, having to go back to Audarya to put Gn to rest.

It was dusk and I was walking on the beaten path but alone and with woods everywhere.

At one point I heard a noise in the bush, and I swear I felt the hairs on my neck and back stand on end. It felt so scriptural! The city boy that I am. I had never experienced such intense fear, but Gaura Nitai wanted to go to bed, so nothing happened to me that day. It was probably a tiny bird anyway... right?

Bhrigu - February 14, 2005 2:38 pm

I am used to embarrassing myself by not having a clue about things people speak about, but I think that Bob isn't a Bobcat. I think he could be the guy below. While Laura and I were staying at Audarya, she read a book about the Zodiac killer in North California, and sure enough she heard him trashing around outside our yurt in the night...

untitled.jpg

Guru-nistha Das - February 17, 2005 4:46 am

Few days ago we had a really nice evening again. First was the arati, I played mrdanga because Guru Maharaja's shoulders get stuck from playing, and he also wants me to learn to play the drum as soon as possible. So I played, very tentatively and it was hard to sing at the same time. It's a humbling experience for me to perform music "publically" and suck at it because I have been playing in bands for almost fifteen years and performing live for maybe eight years, but it was a good meditation on the fact that in arati, it's the concetration on the Deity and your devotion that counts. Although it would've been nice to offer some top notch drumming to Sri Sri Gaura-Nitai, but maybe in the furure...

 

After the singing and chanting the diksa mantras GM read few pages of Jiva Goswami's Gopala Champu, which he does every morning and evening. It's such a sweet book. We sat in a circle and Citta Hari was rolling ghee lamps for the next morning's arati.

After the reading I assisted GM in milking Raga. I got Mohan from the other pen with a help of a flashlight and brought him to her mother. It's interesting that although Raga has started to feel uncomfortable about Mohan milking her, she still lets out a lot more milk for us if Mohan is around. We have started to wean the little guy, he's only getting milk two times out of the three milkings. That means that we are getting more. One night GM got more than five cups at one time, so there's no scarcity of dairy products at the Audarya dham right now!

 

When the milking was done we sat in the kitchen and had decaf chai latte. GM was telling stories about how he created and expanded his magazine Clarion call in the eighties and how the biggest print was 10000 copies. His determination and ability to spread Krsna Consciousness is so inspiring. We also talked about different strategies to get GM's books and CD talks to spread more. I feel bad that not more people are taking advantage of them and I have been trying to figure out some ways to expand his outreach. It's funny, when we were driving down from SF with Citta Hari a week ago, we stopped by a bookstore in Santa Rosa. I wanted to find books about marketing and advertising. I hadn't even thought before that the would be a section of its own for that stuff. I have always frowned upon everything that has to do with advertising or marketing, being the anti-corporate type of guy that I am. But now I spent almost two hours going through all these business books. It's funny how things get a different meaning when they are connected with the right cause. I couldn't care less about "making my business boom" etc. but expanding GM's preaching sounds like a cool challenge.

It's quite hard, though. I'm so not into the in-your-face kind of approach and GM has said many times that that's not how his group works. But the problem is, that if we don't let people know about us, how could anybody find out about it? And if we let people know about us too much, they'll get irritated. It's an art in itself to "market" your thing in a tactful and pleasant way.

GM also said that many missions define their success by the number of people and the amount of money involved, but he is interested in the quality of the devotees over quantity.

So I have to keep my neophyte's world- conquering schemes in check.

 

After going through a dozen books that all said that i have to make myself a strong brand and I have to be aggressive, provocative and over-confident, I felt like it was totally non-relevant for my purposes. Afterall, we are not trying to collect money or put other's businesses out of the market! Then I came across this book that combined spiritual values and marketing. Few points made alot of sense: Instead of seeing marketing as a conquering and manipulating of people, we should see it as a service. I know it's an obvious point but the business world seems to have forgotten it. The author also said that the more we want to serve, the more successful our effort will become.

 

When I was walking back to my yurt with the chai latte in my stomach, I was thinking about when Citta Hari once told me that success on the bhakti path boils down to having a strong will to serve.

Where could i get more of that serving attitude? Do they sell it on eBay? ...Ooh, this is what the business books do to you.

Vrindavandas - February 18, 2005 4:03 am

Haribol Guru nistha Prabhu,

 

I very much appreciate reading about your sincerity to expand Guru Maharaja's mission. Being a life long businessman, and sales trainer/consultant, I too have had the motivation to take Guru Maharaja to the next level of popularity. Although there are many techniques we can all employ in expanding the mission, I have most deeply drawn on Guru Maharaja's personal stories of spreading Prabhupada's movement in the early days.

 

I think the bottom line is sincerity. The more I talk to people the more hypocrisy and false pretenses I find around me. I don't want to point fingers at anyone in particular in the Los Angeles area, however, there are many who initially appeared to be well wishers, who actually turned out to be in Prabhupada's language "envious" and "poisonous snakes".

 

It seems to me now that the more seriously we adhere to Guru Maharaja's instructions for us, the better off we will be. In turn, we will become the examples for the next generation of devotees. Because Guru Maharaja is in a class by himself, all we have to do is follow and serve sincerely and the rest will come. Much like Prabhupada's revolution around the world, we are on the verge of a tremendous revolution/explosion under the guidance of Guru Maharaja. The word is out already and believe me when I say that both the sincere and insincere are whispering about it.

 

Aside from that, when you come down to Los Angeles with Guru Maharaja, I think you will get a better idea of how the "marketing" of the mission is going in certain areas.

Thank you so much for giving us the Audarya Daily. Keep up the great work!

 

your god brother,

Vrindavan das

Jason - February 18, 2005 9:51 pm

Hare Krsna!

 

In regards to spreading the teachings of Tripurari Swami, I'd like to help. I have been writing to many inmates over the last 2 years, and some of them would be very interested in Maharaja's books. Actually, I just finished reading "RASA" and would love to have some extra copies to give out. Also, living in the city, I have access to dozens of yoga studios who often sell different types of books on yoga, philosophy, etc. I would be willing to try my hand at distributing them? There are probably 10 yoga studios withing walking distance to my apartment. Perhaps I could purchase some of the books at a discounted rate and get them into various places here????

 

Would/could this help?

 

Or....if I were to be able to arrange for Maharaja to give a lecture at a local yoga center here, maybe even do some bhajans and prasadam, would that be feasible? I know it's quite a drive down though....

 

Let me know. It probably wouldn't be too hard to arrange something?

 

YS,

 

Jason

Guru-nistha Das - February 19, 2005 12:29 am

Haribol Vrindavan das and Jason!

Thanks for your thoughts, your posts made my heart beat faster. This stuff gets me excited easily.

 

"It seems to me now that the more seriously we adhere to Guru Maharaja's instructions for us, the better off we will be. In turn, we will become the examples for the next generation of devotees."

 

I totally agree. The power of example is so powerful.

 

I remember when Guru Maharaja came to Finland for the first time and on one of the lectures he told how he was once asked to give a class on how to distribute books. His instruction to the distributors was "read the book". That statement made a huge impression on me when I heard it for the first time. It's a good reminder that it's not a superficial, managerial thing to try to spread Guru Maharaja's mission. I really have to keep that in mind in my bursts of neophyte enthusiasm...

 

One thing that I find important and also the marketing research shows is that it's important to be seen. People have to know what's available. So even if an add would bring about zero subscriptions, it's still good because in advertising the indirect effects are quite big.. People become familiar with a "product" they have never even seen.

 

So if anybody reading this thread knows any good vaishnava or spiritually minded websites/magazines that we could advertise on (i guess BTG is out of the question ;) ), write me an email and let me know. Vina and Krishna culture are taken into consideration already.

 

 

Jason, it would be great to actually do something! And the bookselling sounds like a good idea too. I'll talk with GM and get back to you through mail.

Krsangi Dasi - February 21, 2005 12:03 pm

This might sound like a really selfish thing to say, but in a way I feel that the strength of Guru Maharaja's movement is that it's so small. We all can get personal guidance from him and feel deeply connected with him and I fear that this feeling of unity might suffer if the movement suddenly grew substantially larger.

 

I'm not saying that we shouldn't try to spread Guru Maharaja's books and teachings, but I feel that it should happen in a natural, organic way, not by aggressive marketing. (But you probably weren't thinking about TV ads either. ;) )

 

I also have a tendency to dream about conquering the world, about thousands of new devotees, great big temples and so on. But I remember Guru Maharaja talking at a lecture about a godbrother who was planning to build a huge temple, and how Guru Maharaja told him he had an even bigger plan: to build a temple in his own heart.

Shyam Gopal Das - February 21, 2005 9:36 pm

TV ads? Sounds great! ;)

 

On His glorious appearance day, we are reminded that even Nityananda Prabhu teaches us marketing techniques:

 

"And what of those who don't want this divine gift? For them, Sri

Caitanya Mahaprabhu distributed special mercy through His most

magnanimous canvassing agent, Sripada Nityananda Prabhu. Nityananda

Prabhu won't allow even those who want to avoid Krsna consciousness

to escape. If someone says, "I don't want it," Nityananda Prabhu

won't allow it He will say, "No! You must want it I request you

earnestly-take it! Use it and you will be able to feel the value of

Krsna consciousness."

 

To capture the market, a clever merchant may distribute free samples of

his product to his customers, saying, "Take one free! There is no question

of paying any price now I am giving this away Use it, and if you feel the

value, the utility of my product-buy it". And then afterwards everyone

will purchase.

 

In a similar way, Nityananda Prabhu traveled throughout Bengal

making His humble appeal. Nityananda Prabhu would knock at the door

and fall at the feet of His customers, crying, "Please accept this!

Don't dismiss Me, don't drive Me away. Please do what I say. Give

all your attention to Gauranga and you will be benefited beyond

expectation. This is My request to you." He would shed tears, roll

at their door, and say, "You are reluctant to accept this, but have

no doubts. I implore you-take it! Believe Me Please accept

Gauranga!" In this way, Nityananda Prabhu used to wander down both

sides of the Ganges, roaming here and there and preaching about Sri

Caitanya Mahaprabhu.

 

Nityananda Prabhu knows only Gauranga. He is represented in

krsnalila as Baladeva. Baladeva apparently performed the rasalila,

but at heart was only arranging rasalila for Krsna: His nature shows the

experts of devotion that He is always dedicated to Krsna. Otherwise He

would not be Baladeva. He has no individual thoughts for His own

enjoyment; every atom of His body is always eager to make arrangements for

the enjoyment of Krsna. In a similar way, every atom of the body of

Nityananda Prabhu is conscious transcendental substance. And every atom of

His body is meant only for the service and satisfaction of Sri Caitanya

Mahaprabhu."

 

Golden Volcano of Divine Love

Guru-nistha Das - February 23, 2005 10:53 pm

Back on track.

 

Eyesterday was a real eye opener for me in regard of my thoughts of spreading Guru Maharaja's preaching. We talked about all of this almost three hours while cooking and eating yesterday. I spoke with every body; Vrindaranya, Citta Hari and Guru Maharaja and understood many things more clearly.

 

Vrindaranya told me that they had made a thorough research on popular yoga and spiritual groups and tried to see what made them popular. Then they caame up with a model of how to make GMs preaching successful. Vrindaranya said that it would have not been too hard, but to become popular it would mean that GM should preach on a very very basic level. The Audarya crew decided to forget about the whole thing, because it would not be worth it to compromise GM's level of preaching.

 

This made me laugh at myself. It's a real neophyte thing to think that the senior devotees wouldn't have thought of the things that go in the head of a new guy. Like I was the first one to ever think of spreading GMs preaching. It also made me think that the level of preaching and realization that our Guru Maharaja has is very rare. It wouldn't be wise to compromise that. It's mindless to measure our success in the number of initiated disciples or temples and that's not how I think either.

Another realization I had yesterday was that not every spiritual master needs to have the same approach in preaching. It serves the purpose a lot better if there are different approaches. GM is kind of like a contemporary version of Bhaktivinoda Thakur (I admit, I stole this analogy from Citta Hari. Damn, I should've taken the credit myself..:)). Bhaktivinoda had only few disciples but his vision and books made it possible for Bhaktisidhanta to spread krsna Consciousness throughout India and Prabhupada throughout the world.

 

Guru Maharaja is a visionary and I'm very, very happy with that. It's hard for me to relate to mass movements and yesterday's discussions were really a relief for me in a way. I'm completely sure that the Vaishnava world will regard GM highly at some point. not maybe in five or fifty years but in some point. And even if they wouldn't I'd still know how much he has inspired me and how much he has to give.

 

I could go on forever about this, but I'll save you for now.

 

 

On a lighter note, we had a nice little festival for Nityananda Prabhu on Monday. Vamsidhari came around for the weekend and it was again a pleasure to spend time with him. Guru Maharaja gave a really nice lecture and I was absorbing as much as I could, since this was the first lecture he gave while I have been here. I'm not going to tell too much about the lecture because it will be on one of the CD talks. After the talk we cooked a great feast for Nityananda; Mata paneer (peace cheese :)), yoghurt soup, vamsi's special fruit balls, Baclava, plum chutney, halva... Vamsi has a Ph.D in psychiatry and while we were cooking and he heard that I'm allergic to many things, he made an analysis that it's because of my mental problems! It's interesting to be around shrinks. Got to be careful what to say.

After the feast I had to do the dishes. It took me one and half hours to finish them so that alone proves that the feast was a success.

Guru Maharaja wanted to hear Vamsi's opinion on the bhajans we recorded some time ago. We still have to add kartals to most of the songs and mix them, but one song was basically ready and Vamsi listened to it. He really liked it and that of course increased my determination to finish the whole project. It's just been hard to record the extra tracks because it's been raining a lot and the recording equipment is in my yurt. Raindrops hitting on the roof make a surprisingly loud sound. That would bring maybe a too ambient sound to the bhajans..

 

We got some entertainment from the lay community too to ease our discipline-filled days. It was so hilarious when Vamsi was lying on my bed, (off)beating a Mrdanga and making devotional versions of The Smiths' songs. A tattooed serbian shrink from the Castro area singing "And if a ten ton truck would kill the both of us..." with a discant voice. How could you not laugh?

Babhru Das - February 24, 2005 1:04 am

I was reflecting on the discussion of marketing from last week, but I've been too distracted by my work to get into it. I remember a private conversation I had with Srila Prabhupada in which he said, "Devotees and devotional service cannot be stereotyped. There is nothing that cannot be used in Krishna's service. Simply we require guidance from the expert spiritual master how to engage everything. That is the only catch." On another occasion (Swami knows about this one), he told my friend Gopavrindapal, "Preaching depends on circumstances, and every man must be his own genious."

 

So we could certainly use martketing techniques to broaden our outreach, but, as Guru-nistha discovered, it may be done at the cost of the integrity of Swami's approach. His "basic" preaching is certainly there. Think of books such as Rasa and Joy of Self, or even the early parts of Aesthtic Vedanta. They're so good! Yesterday I was talking with Gopavrindapal, and Swami's name came up (as it often does in any conversation about preaching when I'm around). We got a laugh out of some of the reactions years back to the marketing blurbs for Rasa and Aesthetic Vedanta. Some folks were almost apoplectic in their responses, never having read the books themselves. If they had read them, they could only appreciate how carefully and painstakingly Maharaja moves the reader from the base to the pinnacle.

 

We need to keep discussing how to spread, but the real key is, as Swami says so often, is to become Krishna conscious. It will be our character that brings others into our circle.

 

I've also been reflecting on what an extraordinary (and fun!) group of devotees this small circle (we few, we happy few) is. I'm more than just fortunate; I'm clearly blessed.

Mikko - February 24, 2005 10:28 am
This made me laugh at myself. It's a real neophyte thing to think that the senior devotees wouldn't have thought of the things that go in the head of a new guy. Like I was the first one to ever think of spreading GMs preaching.

 

Guru-nistha, remember we talked about starting a new band before you left to Audarya? we HAVE TO start it! :)

There´s a way for you to spread GM´s preaching. I start working on the songs. US tour in summer 2006. Deal?

 

Greetings from our Russian tour. Visited the Jagannath restaurant in Moscow - thanks to Krsangi for giving me the instructions how to get there. Pure awesomeness.

 

Your humble dog,

Mikko.

Jason - February 24, 2005 7:52 pm

What I find interesting about Tripurari Maharaja's teachings is that he speaks about the concept of "love" so much. He puts it in perspective. I finished reading "Rasa" and loved it. The whole discussion of rasas is very much ignored in ISKCON preaching. Unfortunately, everyone in the entire universe is seeking it and very few people (in spiritual circles) talk about it properly.

 

You mentioned that it was best not to compromise Maharaja's teachings by speaking very, very basically. I agree but also realized that so many people involved with the different yoga centers in the city, have huge misconceptions about how eastern philosophy/the Vedic perspective, views love. I think that actually, since they are all interested in it anyway, Maharaja would be presenting the teachings with even more relevence.

 

In Chicago, when the devotees would give a class at a yoga center, or be talking with persons from that scene, they would often dodge the subject and dwell on chanting, reading, aham brahmasmi, etc. Lots of these yoga practitioners are missing the mark when it comes to what the Vedas are REALLY trying to advocate.

 

I think that Maharaja would go over VERY, VERY well in that sort of teaching atmosphere....I hope you agree?!

 

Lots of times, in order for the yoga centers that act as teaching/training centers for other instructor to certify their students, they MUST satisfy certain requirements of actual philosophy in addition to breathwork, poses, etc. What about arranging for their philosophical requirements to be completed by arranging for Maharaja to hold classes at the centers, or maybe they could come to Santa Rosa???? Again, in Chicago, the soon to be instructors from Global Yoga Studio came for several classes at the temple where Kalki prabhu gave nice introductory lectures on the basics of Krsna consciousness. After class, they joined the Sunday night kirtan and took prasadam! They loved it!

 

YS,

 

Jason

Shyam Gopal Das - February 24, 2005 8:09 pm

I agree with Jason that there is a lot of potential for such classes. However, at the same time, in light with what Gurunistha wrote, I think we shouldn't just think about sending Guru Maharaj everywhere. Rather, we should live our lives in such a way that we will be able to convey the teachings to others in the same enlivening and compelling way as Guru Maharaj does. There is a lot of room for us as his disciples to do this.

Nanda-tanuja Dasa - February 25, 2005 2:47 am
This might sound like a really selfish thing to say, but in a way I feel that the strength of Guru Maharaja's movement is that it's so small.

 

I remember Guru Maharaja talking at a lecture about a godbrother who was planning to build a huge temple, and how Guru Maharaja told him he had an even bigger plan: to build a temple in his own heart.

Maybe so... But having a nice temple doesn’t hurt either! I personally feel deeply ashamed that my contributions to Swami’s mission are so small. I know that he wants to build a Temple, I know he wants to build Samadhi, and I know he is 1000% better of anybody in ISCKON, alas, they have money and we do not. I’m not proposing to recruit more people just to have sound finances, but I think you get my point. Unfortunately none of us has resources of Parikshit Maharaj to make Guru Maharajas projects manifest in reasonable amount of time and it pains me very much. So, a little marketing and business skill can go a long way. I don’t know how much Audarya Store brings in, but I’m sure it’s not nearly enough. Yes he is a mystic residing in a forest and not a TV evangelist, yes we don’t want to dilute our community, yes we don’t want to start "popularizing" the teaching, but we should find some healthy way of promoting the wealth Audarya has to offer.

Jason - February 25, 2005 5:27 pm

I noticed that in the back of the magazine SF Yogi Times, there are ads for tons and tons of centers and organizations related to yoga, ayurvedic diets, medicines, treatments and especially retreats! Have you ever thought of submitting an ad inviting persons to come to Audarya as a retreat to learn about bhakti yoga? "....nessled perfectly in the heart of the Mendocino mountains....with traditional yurts for individuals or couples....vegetarian meals....intimate discourses on Inida's transcendental literatures....guided kirtan and meditation...cow protection....a monestary in seclusion, yet only a 2 hour drive from the city...." Something like that????

 

I think all the new-age, ex-hippies, corporate ladder climbers turned pseudo yogis would find a trip very enlivening and interesting. I would venture to guess that in the ocean or yoga centers and practitioners here in the city, there are at least a few who are feeling a lack of something still....that's how Audarya and Maharaja fit into the picture.

 

The teachings don't have to be "dumbed down" for anyone, however, it's got to be put out there for people to even know about it....right?

 

What would it hurt to try?

 

YS,

 

Jason

Nanda-tanuja Dasa - February 28, 2005 4:45 am

It's a good idea and was discussed at Audarya, but I'm not sure how feasible it is to make it happen in the near future. The Audarya's resources are already stretched very much. Acting as a retreat involves a lot of planning and money, but most importantly time and people power. For example DVD production was indefinitely postponed because of the luck of human resources. So the funds should come from the outside, not generated by Audarya inhabitants. It’s not monks' business to generate revenue. We as householders should provide material sustenance to monks and monks should provide spiritual sustenance to householders.

Babhru Das - February 28, 2005 5:13 pm

Well said, Nanda-tanuja prabhu. And when it comes to providing that material sustenance, I know the degree to which I'm lacking.

 

Another thing about advertized retreats is that it may require permitting from the county or local government. This is an extra expense, not only in terms of the fees Audarya would need to pay, but also in meeting certain standards and getting things cleared by neighors. I believe that here on the Big Island, the Hamakua Ecology Center, run by devotees at the Temple of the Golden Volcano of Divine Love (mostly disciples of Srila B.P. Puri Maharaja and Sripad B.B. Bodahayan Maharaja), has had a lot of trouble the last year or two and has had to suspend its programs. So I think that it may be some time before Audarya will be able to pull such a thing off. The staff, besides Swami, consists of Citta-Hari, Vrindaranya, and Guru-nistha, who are all already fully engaged.

Guru-nistha Das - February 28, 2005 6:32 pm

I apologize that i haven't commented on the retreat issue. We have been really busy for the last week or so. As I mentioned before, Citta Hari strained his ankle and that slowed us down a bit. It's interesting how in the country side you are more dependent of each other. In the city nobody would've even noticed if somebody strained his leg..

 

Anyway, at this point it would be totally impossible to host retreats with the resources we have, unfortunately. Every task takes more time here than in the city. In fact, I haven't had spare time hardly at all in the two months I've been here. And I'm certainly not complaning because I love to do this, but it's just to make the point that we can't do much extra at the time.

We'll see how the situation evolves.

Shyam Gopal Das - February 28, 2005 7:07 pm

I wish Audarya would be closer by so I could come over and help you while I am waiting for a project.

Guru-nistha Das - March 3, 2005 4:25 am

People may think that ashram life is all about levitating in a lotus position and strutting around in your Birkenstock fliflops with a suspiciously gracious smile on your face. But our last weekend was as working class as it gets. We had to empty Audarya's locker that was in a town 20 miles from here called Boonville. We were driving up and down to the valley and back, taking many truckloads of stuff that was mostly from Guru Maharaja's Eugene days. Citta Hari's ankle was strained but he just kept going like a real man although I tried to calm him down. That's the spirit! Then we emptied the stuff into one of the yurts (oh, we had to empty the yurt first!), carried stuff down the narrow pathways up and down the hill. There were some fine items in the storage. There was the original painting of the six Goswamis, the one that probably every ISKCON devotee has on his/her altar. Then there was original tapes of Sridhar Maharaja's lectures and Prabhupada's silver cup. Nice.

At the end of the day we were totally exhausted and we both thought that we couldn't make it to the Sundara arati, but against all odds we did and what an arati it was! Super sweet.

 

For a past week or so I have been milking Raga with Guru Maharaja, it's been really nice. I take a bucket of grains and GM takes two buckets for the milk and a wet piece of cloth to clean Ragas teats. Then we head to the barn. In the pen there's a system that holds Raga's head still so she can't run away from us. I take the left side and GM takes the right side. The teats need a little persuation before they let the milk down but after few squeezes and "c'mon"s the white gold starts to flow. It was quite hard to first learn the technique but I'm getting better all the time. GM is of course quite a pro already but it's new for him too since Raga is their first milking cow. The mornings are always the best. we get 4-5 cups from the two front teats and we normally let Mohan finnish off the back ones. It's crazy how physically demanding milking is. It really gets to your hand. A word of warning: when you meet me the next time, think twice before shaking hands with me. I'm developing a grip of steel here!

Radhanama Dasa - March 3, 2005 5:09 am
People may think that ashram life is all about levitating in a lotus position and strutting around in your Birkenstock fliflops with a suspiciously gracious smile on your face.

 

:);):lol::lol:

 

Guru-nistha, that is funny!!!! Thanks for writing these updates about Audarya, I really love reading them.

 

Chris

Bhrigu - March 3, 2005 5:43 pm

I also want to thank you for your postings, Gurunistha Ayohasta, ironhand. Please keep them coming!

 

Anyway, at this point it would be totally impossible to host retreats with the resources we have, unfortunately.

 

So apparently you need more brahmacaris then. We have already sent one from Finland. How many have you sent, Gaura Shakti & co? :)

Babhru Das - March 3, 2005 6:41 pm

I thank you for the updates, too, Guru-nistha. Your writing is very vital; the tone and style make them a lot of fun to read.

Guru-nistha Das - March 10, 2005 12:33 am

In some ways ashrams are like mental institutions.

 

Poeple go to both to get cured from a disease. The daily rhythm supports learning a new approach to life. We take our medication in the morning and in the evening and go to bed early.

Recovering is slow and we are afraid to get cured because we identify with the disease. But if we stick to the program, we start feeling better all the time and finally the disease is gone.

 

It's crazy(a fitting word, huh?) how the monastic environment helps you to observe your mind and see the ugliness of it. I'm constantly being shocked of how my mind reacts to different things, how it interprets thoughts and situations and how it's boundlessly selfish. And when I think of it more, I realize that it's always been like that, but when there's not too much possibilities for numbing your mind with indulging your senses in some form of entertainment etc. you are almost forced to listen to your mind. And it's pretty demanding to look in the mirror 24/7 but how could we ever think of getting cured if we don't understand what's wrong with us? Same with mental patients, their recovery can start only when they admit that they are sick.

It's not surprising that so many people leave the ashram, because if crazy people could choose wether they stayed in a mental institution or not, the doctors and nurses would be unemployed pretty fast.

It's so clear to me now why Guru Maharaja stresses so much of knowing the philosophy and developing your intellect. The mind is certainly not reasonable. It doesn't navigate by knowledge, it goes by pleasure and conformity.

 

One of my friends was diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic and was taken to a mental institution. I went to visit him there and it was shocking and interesting at the same time. It seems that many mentally ill people are overtly egoistic. Their mental sickness causes them to think that they are in control of everything (My firend for example thought that he was Jesus) So that's not too far from what the scriptures say about the materialistic view of life. Another thing that really struck me was that everyone of the patients were living completely in their own reality. That's what our reality is like too. We can't relate to others appropriately because our mind keeps us fenced.

 

In many ways ashrams are nothing like mental institutions. I mean, who would want to stay living in a soul asylum after he's been cured? And who would experience the best days of his life in a mental institution?

Nanda-tanuja Dasa - March 10, 2005 3:56 am

Very nice realization. Looks like you’ve been taking your meds. :)

But seriously, I’ve been working in a mental institution for a while, so I know exactly what you mean. Looking into the mirror is a very good point too. How many people are afraid to look even once in a life time? How many people cannot be alone even for a short period of time, because they are too afraid to hear their inner voice? It’s very painful and very scary process. Fortunately we found a company of well-wishers in our life who can put us in straightjackets and force-feed us medication.

Gauravani Dasa - March 10, 2005 8:07 am

Thanks for your post Guru-nista Prabhu.

 

I also have so much trouble with my mind, especially in relation to others. I always try to find a peaceful place alone, but my mind still follows me there!

 

I have gradualy understood the importance of having "professional" guidance. All glories to Sri Guru and Sri Gauranga!

Arcanasiddhi Devi Dasi - March 12, 2005 11:00 pm

Guru-nishta- I haven't been on the site for sometime but just read all your posts. I so much appreciate your ability for introspection and then to honestly share your process with others. It brings back a lot of my own memories when I left the material world to live in an ashrama. The first 6 months were so hard, but I knew I couldn't turn back and gradually it became easier and easier. It is also wonderful to get an inside look at life at Audarya. We are really looking forward to your visit next month. :(

Guru-nistha Das - March 14, 2005 5:32 pm

Thanks for the feedback, Archanasiddhi! I'm really looking forward to getting on the road with Guru Maharaja again and hitting East Coast. See you then!

Guru-nistha Das - March 24, 2005 12:44 am

It's time for an update.

 

Things have been going smoothly at Audarya. I'm starting to settle down and find my place in the dynamics of the monastery and the more I am able to do that, the better things go. I'm still kind of stabbing in the dark and finding out what kind of services I'm good at and how I can use my time most efficiently. We decided that I'm going to be the one doing the correspondence and that's great because I like to be in contact with people.

 

Guru Maharaja is fine tuning the Siksastakam commentary and sometimes he tells us a little where he's at. He told that he wants to lecture about Siksastakam before he finishes the book because that way he gets more insights and ideas to write down. He said that with his Gita commentary he didn't do that and when he started lecturing after it had come out, he found himself thinking constantly that he should've included many things that came up when he gave his talks.

 

Vrindaranya is working on a book that is a summary of GMs Sanga answers that deal with Guru tattva. Kind of like Guru Maharaja's version of Sri Guru and His Grace? It's going to take some time before it's out but I'm sure it's going to be great.

 

Citta Hari and myself have spent days intensely recording and mixing the record of the daily program of Audarya. We recorded the songs already two months ago but were so busy that we finished the project just recently. We didn't know basically anything about mixing or recording what to speak of the program we were using, so a lot of time was spent on getting aquinted with the tools. But we learned a lot during the process and got really absorbed in the whole thing. In the mornings when taking showers and putting on tilaks etc. we would go on and on about how to use the EQ, what mics are best for backing vocals, and brainstorming in the vain of "wouldn't it be great to record the mridanga in the bath tub, what a great reverb we would get!". Citta Hari told me that Guru Maharaja has been wanting to release bhajan CDs for a long time and now we have finally finished the first one! And this is only the beginning.

 

Mohan is completely weaned now. He moos loudly in the morning when he can hear that Raga is being milked but he's a happy camper when he gets his extra grains and grass. He's grown a lot in few months and is starting to look like a real bull.

The other day GM and Vrindaranya got nine cups of milk. GM entusiastically announced the new record to me and added "she's a happy cow".

 

Vyasa Puja and Gaura Purnima are right around the corner and I'm excited. I'll meet a lot of people that before were just names on Tattvaviveka, and I'm getting my second initiation, so expectations are high. More about it later!

Swami - March 24, 2005 4:59 am
.

The other day GM and Vrindaranya got nine cups of milk. GM entusiastically announced the new record to me and added "she's a happy cow".

 


That's nine cups in one milking only, not the amount for the entire day. We are getting (when I milk, which is most of the time) 12-16 cups daily.

NrsinghaDas - March 24, 2005 7:08 pm
Mohan is completely weaned now. He moos loudly in the morning when he can hear that Raga is being milked but he's a happy camper when he gets his extra grains and grass. He's grown a lot in few months and is starting to look like a real bull.

 

Is it possible for us to see an updated picture him?

Bhrigu - March 24, 2005 7:34 pm
We are getting (when I milk, which is most of the time) 12-16 cups daily.

 

Wow, that's a lot. What do you do with all of it? Sweetrice, sandesha and barfi? ;)

Vrindaranya Dasi - March 27, 2005 5:32 pm

A lot of the milk is made into curd and yogurt. :lol:

Karnamrita Das - March 28, 2005 10:53 pm

Dear devotees and Guru-nistha Prabhu, here are a few pictures of Swami's last visit to wet your spiritual whistle. I hope it is alright to put it here, but as I read Guru-nistha's post about his coming here, I thought it in order to include these pictures here. Back in Baltimore we toyed with the idea of "Audarya East", which I would like to think of at least within myself, if not our home.

 

I guess I can only do one picture on each post so I will have to break this up. Hopefully it will work. The first of Swami lecturing at our first program in Baltimore at Sumati devi's home.

s_visit_04_Sumati_class_03.JPG

Karnamrita Das - March 28, 2005 10:56 pm

This was at the home of Madhavacharya's home which is also Bhakti-tirtha Swami's center.

s_visit_04_Madhavacharya_class_06.JPG

Karnamrita Das - March 28, 2005 10:58 pm

A close up of Swami speaking nectar.

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Karnamrita Das - March 28, 2005 11:03 pm

Guru Maharaja giving our tattva-viveki, Nrisimha Chaitanya the straight truth.

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Karnamrita Das - March 28, 2005 11:06 pm

One of the many evening lectures at our home in Prabhupada Village NC.

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Karnamrita Das - March 28, 2005 11:37 pm

There are a whole lot of pictures of GM's 2004 peaching on the East Coast on the previous page that you might have missed if you just came here.

 

This is the latest incarnation of our altar with 5 sets of visiting (?) Deities.

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Jason - March 29, 2005 8:28 pm

Hare Krsna!

 

WOW. Baltimore is really beautiful! What a sweet center you have there. I remember Nrsimha Caitanya prabhu from Chicago. He used to travel with the Ratha Yatra Festival of India devotees. That's really cool that he's hearing from Tripurari Maharaja!

 

Any more photos?

 

YS,

 

Jason

Karnamrita Das - March 29, 2005 10:34 pm

Actually Jason, this last picture is from our home in North Carolina. On Swamis last visit here we also traveled to the Baltimore/DC area, where we did programs first in Baltimore and then in a suburb of DC which was Bhakti tirtha Swamis place, and then we came back to NC where we did 3 days of programs both morning and evening.

 

I do have more photos but I think I gave the best of what I have by my relative perspective. I will be taking lots of pictures on this visit, and either myself or Guru-nistha (I think) wil give the play by play action.

 

This time we will be staying in NC for the whole time, and going out to do a few preaching lectures.

 

Karnam

Vrindaranya Dasi - March 30, 2005 10:47 pm

Sri Sri Gaura-Nitai on Gaura-Purnima.

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Vrindaranya Dasi - March 30, 2005 10:51 pm

Close-up of Sri Sri Krsna-Balarama.

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Vrindaranya Dasi - March 30, 2005 10:54 pm

Mohanji Lal

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Vrindaranya Dasi - March 30, 2005 10:57 pm

Mohan (aka Ji Lal) is weaned, but he still sometimes steals a sip.

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Guru-nistha Das - April 24, 2005 10:09 pm

Nandatanuja wrote:

"Speaking of Guru-nistha, he's been quite silent for a while as well. What’s new in Audarya?"

 

I apologize for being mute for so long. I've had so much to think and process that I've felt like going more inwards instead of bringing things out. But I try not to become too introvert so that you'll be able to hear what's going on in here!

 

For the couple last weeks we have been working hard on the gardens, since we have to plant all the plants soon and the small greenhouse is beginning to be so stuffed that I hardly can fit inside anymore when I go there every morning to get some curry leaves for the breakfast.

We have been tilling, putting up deer fences and gates, line trimming, shoveling, weeding and taking wheelbarrow loads of dung to the gardens. It has been quite warm in here too, so that has added to the physicality of labor too. It's great to really work hard for about four hours, then go to the kitchen and munch the leftover prasadam with the devotees and discuss about various subjects. After a day of physically demanding work, even raisins taste like straight out of the hevenly planets. We've been having really good conversations, too. It's refreshing to be in an environment where spiritual life is constant, and not something that happens every sunday in a church, if even then. Of course that means that I have to struggle to come up to that same standard in order to stay on board, but that's what good association is all about, right?

Anyway, we already had cauliflower from our own garden the other day. I can't remember everything that Vrindaranya has been planning to grow, but at least tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, eggplant, roses and other flowers, many kinds of herbs and strawberries. Now that we got the new deerfence (thanks, Bijaya Kumar!) the fruittrees are safe too. We have figs, peaches, apples and something else which I can't remember right now. The trees are still quite small and won't be giving too much fruits, but next year should be much better already.

 

It's been rainy for the last few days and since we haven't been able to work in the gardens, Guru Maharaja and Vrindaranya have had a editing and revising marathon with the Siksastakam commentary. During the lunch yesterday Guru Maharaja said that the book is going to be really good. He said that they are polishing a jewel, then he went on to say "Vrindaranya is as good a polisher as I'm a miner". It really isn't a coincidence that Guru Maharaja's books are so condensed and tight. Guru Maharaja and Vrindaranya put a lot of work into them. And their co-operation is quite inspiring.

 

What else... Oh, Fred is coming here for three months in the summer! We all are excited about that, and what's best, I' won't be "the new guy" anymore!

Guru-nistha Das - May 1, 2005 3:51 am

This week the work in the gardens has intensified, we normally start to work at 9 or 10 in the morning and continue to 5-6 PM. we got the tomato plants on the ground already and it felt quite satisfying. We also did a little experiment, for most of the plants we dug a foot deep and foot wide holes, but for three tomato plants we dug three feet deep and two wide. Vrindaranya and Citta Hari were enthusiastically talking about this Guinness World record breaking guy who can grow 30 feet tall tomatoplants (!). I don't think we'll be getting there, but it would be great if we had to use a step ladder to harvest..

 

Today, while shoveling dirt, we had an interesting discussion about women in Gaudiya Vaishnavism, and thought about what things have had an effect on how women are percieved in our tradition nowadays. Vrindaranya made an interesting point that in a way women's position has gone worse, because there are examples of woman acharyas in our line, but nowadays almost all Gaudiya Vaishnava lineages say that women can't be gurus. She said that maybe the English occupation and the Victorian values had an effect on it.

We also talked how the Muslim occupation in India had a big effect on women's position and how sad it is that many devotees can't admit that these kinds of things have formed (and keep forming)our tradition in some ways.

The discussion made me think about how nice it is that we are encouraged to look our tradition critically and try to learn what things are relative and what things are truely relevant. As it's stated on Tattvaviveka so many times before, so many people have the tendency to make absolute priciples out of relative circumstances, and it's hard for people to accept that time and place actually change the way some things are seen within Gaudiya Vaishnavism.

 

Tomorrow is a new day for shoveling, planting, chanting, singing and reading. Life is good!

Vrindaranya Dasi - May 1, 2005 1:41 pm

Preparing the ground.

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Vrindaranya Dasi - May 1, 2005 1:44 pm

The jumbo tomato holes.post-5-1114954953_thumb.jpg

Vrindaranya Dasi - May 1, 2005 1:49 pm

Sevaji, although only a third the size of Nandu-lali and thus much too short, gives the task of increasing Audarya's herd the old college try.

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Jason - May 1, 2005 4:29 pm

Just exactly how many cows/bulls are at Audarya? The photo's are so nice. I can't wait to be able to visit! 9am-5pm working the land, no city noise/traffic, chanting, Krsna katha, hanging out with the cows, darshan with Maharaja, literally tasting the results....I have to admit, sometimes I wonder what the heck it is I'm doing here?!

 

Jason

Madangopal - May 1, 2005 6:23 pm
the old college try.

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Ahh, monks with a sense of humor. Krsna Consciousness really does have everything! :(

Vrindaranya Dasi - May 1, 2005 7:12 pm

I'm glad you liked it. I was afraid I might be accused of cow pornography. :(

Guru-nistha Das - May 12, 2005 3:07 am

Last weekend we had Audarya-lila, his two kids and their two friends here. It was interesting, the two friends didn't probably know much about Krsna Consciousness but they were appreciative.

The other friend, a 25-year-old skater hippie guy called Erich was really into the way we live. He had gone through it all: from a metalhead to a youth pastor student to a dumpster-diving anarchist to a new age hippie. It was almost creepy how much he reminded me of myself when I was 16. He attended the mangala aratis with us although he had slept only few hours a night for the past week and he bowed down with us and circumbulated tulasi maharani although he didn't know what was going on. Nice kid.

 

Guru Maharaja gave a great talk one night. Audarya-lila asked if Guru Maharaja could explain more about the archa-vigraha and Deity worship, and Guru Maharaja started explaining how the altar is a meetingplace between the spiritual and material worlds, how it's in the realm of ritual , and the things that go on don't make sense to us from a material perspective, but it's all training for the spiritual reality. That seemed to really make sense for the kids, and it was a great way of explaining what's going on to a person who doesn't have faith in the Deity form.

Of course it's a freaky idea to a person who's not aquinted with our philosophy that we consider the Deity as a real person, and if they are allowed to think that it's in the realm of ritual and that it's symbolic, they'll probably be more respectful towards the whole thing.

 

Guru Maharaja's Godbrother Satananda has been here with us for few weeks and he's been a huge help. He cooks lunch and offers most of the aratis. I've started offering the aratis too since I got the thread, and I have to say I really like it! Deity worship is definately absorbing and it's easier to get into the mood of giving when you are actually offering something concrete. The only problem is the conch. I'm somehow able to get the weirdest sounds out of it (or no sound whatsoever) and it's kind of embarrassing. it's certainly one of those things that the harder you try to do it right, the worse the outcome. But practice makes perfect. Soon my conchblowing will sound like Gandharva's crying! no more of those dying elephant- toots.

Bhrigu - May 12, 2005 3:08 pm
it's certainly one of those things that the harder you try to do it right, the worse the outcome.

 

I know exactly what you mean! I blow the conch daily here at home without any problems, but if there is an audience (especially Guru Maharaja!) it suddenly becomes so hard. Pfffyitz, pffiii, pffyyii... and then you just knock on it with your hand instead, cheeks burning. :D

Guru-nistha Das - May 12, 2005 4:37 pm

Haha! That's comforting to hear, Bhrigu.

After this morning's arati I considered getting a pocket recorder and play Citta Hari's blowing from it and just fake that I'm actually doing it.. :D

Forrest - May 15, 2005 12:00 am

When I first tried to blow the conch I had a lot of trouble with it also. After a few of the awkward sounds in front of an assembly of devotees I decided to take a long walk with the conch in the forest. I sat and practiced over and over. After a long list of awkward and bizarre sounds I got a sense for it and have not had any problems with the conch since then. Perhaps if you have the time you could try that Guru-nistha.

Syamasundara - May 15, 2005 12:30 am

You should use your lips as with a trumpet: make a mosquito sound out of your lips filled with air. Also, you need to rotate the conch until you can hit the spiral with your mosquito air. If the Audarya conch hasn't changed (but most conches are like that) it works the best with the opening of the conch upward, but after you get the hang of it, it really works any way. And don't forget to moisten your lips!

Gauravani Dasa - June 3, 2005 3:11 am

Nanda-tanuja suggested that I write about some of my experiences in Audarya. I am keeping a journal and here is today's entry:

 

I woke us this morning with an oppressive mind, largley due to a lack of sleep. I always worry about not making it to mangala-arati on time.

 

My mind was satisfied as Guru Maharaja chanted in the temple room. Citta-hari has expressed to me before what a unique situation is present here in Audarya, and I am begining to see it. The atmosphere is perfect for sadhana and the ability to serve Guru Maharaja is invaluable.

 

After breakfast, Vrndaranya and I cleaned out the cow barns. It was dirty work, but I appreciated the chance to do some service for the cows. It is such a peaceful way to be engaged, taking care of the cows that supply Gaura Nityananda with fresh milk.

 

We then began to help Citta-hari and Guru-nistha put up the deer fences. This is hard work also, in the sun as well. But these fruits, flowers and vegetables are being grown for the Lord. I was thinking deeply about it today, and it really blows my mind how expertly Guru Maharaja has designed Audarya. The service and association is so absorbing. Citta-hari and I had a conversation yesterday morning about the significance of Bhaktivinode Thakur's preaching, and I couldn't help but make a mental comparison to Guru Maharaja. He is really making Gaudiya Vaisnavism relevant for the west. This is all obvious in Audarya.

 

We worked hard for several hours and then Guru Maharaja rang the bell for lunch. I must say that I have never tasted prasadam as good as Guru Maharaja cooks it. He really cares for us and mentioned today how pleased he was to see us taking prasadam. The compassion that Guru Maharaja displays is endearing.

 

After lunch we were all pretty tired, but we continued to work for the rest of the day. We got a lot done and hopefully the deer will not be able to get to the strawberries (or the roses) any more.

 

The day ended with the evening arati. The sound of bhakti is Guru Maharaja's heartfelt singing. After Gaura-arati, Tulasi-kirtana and Sri Sacinandana-vandana, Guru Maharaja reads from Brhad-bhagavatamrta (he also does so in the morning). Its such an intimate and lovely way to end a day of working hard for Guru and Gauranga.

 

sevi gaura nityananda sri-guru-carana

Radhanama Dasa - June 3, 2005 8:56 am

Fred,

 

I hope you'll keep posting some entries while you're there, i for one love reading about what is going on at Audarya. Will you still be there in Sept? if so, it'll be great to see you again!!!! :)

Malati Dasi - June 3, 2005 10:53 am

Ki jay!!!

please go on reporting!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Jason - June 3, 2005 5:12 pm

Dear Fred:

 

Haribol! Thanks for the nice entry! I really appreciated the part about your discussion about the significance of Bhaktivinode Thakur (and how Maharaja is preaching and making Krsna Consciousness relevant to everyone). He too shared his realizations with me and Vamsidhari about the Thakur's personality and significance to Gaudiya Vaisnavism. I was completing a paper on Vaisnava personalities, and the way Maharaja spoke with so much enthusiasm about him, I realized that he should have been included in my papaer.

 

I loved reading your post!

 

YS,

 

Jason

Gauravani Dasa - June 3, 2005 11:42 pm
Will you still be there in Sept? if so, it'll be great to see you again!!!!  :)

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I have an August 31st plane ticket back to NC so I probably won't be here. I'm sure we'll have a chance to hang out again sometime.

Gauravani Dasa - June 4, 2005 12:51 am

After an Ekadasi breakfast, Vrndaranya and I began to look at the design of the new website for Audarya. She has made a very appealing design but more work needs to be done before I can begin to post it to the web. We also discussed the steps needed to begin Guru Maharaja's Folio.

 

GM also had me take a look at a problem he was having on his computer. I was unable to find a solution while working on it in his room. When I went back to my yurt, I experienced some anxiety, feeling a little overhwhelmed with the work I had to do. I will have to pay close attention to see how this is arising. I got everything done by the end of the day, so no worries.

 

During a lunch of tapioca kitri and tomato raita we discussed the relative merits of Windows versus Mac. Everyone here is in favor of the Mac which is quite opposite to what I am used to. I don't mind working on the Mac at all--both Mac and PC have their uses. I failed to mention that the superior operating system is, of course, Linux. I'll save that for another day.

 

Vrndaranya and I then did some go-seva, cleaning up the cow's pens. She is also continuing to enage me in studying the Caitanya-caritamrta which I am enjoying immensely. I never realized how much I love to study, and under the guidance of Guru Maharaja, it is even more relishable.

Radhanama Dasa - June 4, 2005 1:40 am
Vrndaranya and I began to look at the design of the new website for Audarya. She has made a very appealing design but more work needs to be done before I can begin to post it to the web. We also discussed the steps needed to begin Guru Maharaja's Folio.

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I remember seeing a preview of the site when i was there, it looked REALLY nice, can't wait to see it live. Is GM's computer problem Hardware or Software related? I know there is probably a few Mac nerds other than myself on here, but if it's something i could help with via email let me know and i'd be glad to.

Gauravani Dasa - June 4, 2005 2:04 am
Is GM's computer problem Hardware or Software related? I know there is probably a few Mac nerds other than myself on here, but if it's something i could help with via email let me know and i'd be glad to.

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Its related to some software and Virtual PC. I got it working on my machine, I'll see if I can get it working on GM's tomorrow.

Guru-nistha Das - June 4, 2005 2:51 am
I have an August 31st plane ticket back to NC so I probably won't be here. I'm sure we'll have a chance to hang out again sometime.

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Hm... some night there might be a burglary in your yurt and mysteriously the plane ticket disappears and we will lock you in your yurt and never let you go!

 

In other words, it's great to have Fred here.

 

His writing made me have bad conscience for not writing my entries, because I found that I really like reading his diary, although I'm here myself! I can't even imagine how nice it's for people outside..

 

So let the NEW GUY (haha) keep you updated and I'll throw in couple of lines every once in awhile.

 

As Fred mentioned, the deer got in to the rosegarden and ate everything. We were batheing in roses before that, there were more flowers coming than what we could fit on the altar. The deer broke into the lower garden too where the strawberry patches and fruit trees are, but for some reason they didn't eat much anything.

I was schemeing with Citta-Hari that we should get a shotgun and rock salt, but Vrindaranya wasn't too excited about the idea. :)

Bhrigu - June 4, 2005 9:52 am
I was schemeing with Citta-Hari that we should get a shotgun and rock salt, but Vrindaranya wasn't too excited about the idea.

 

My brothers and I used to shoot each other with airguns and small pellets of artificial fertilizer as kids. It burnt like hell if you hit exposed flesh. But perhaps Vrindaranya wouldn't like airguns any more than shotguns. Girls! :)

Gauravani Dasa - June 4, 2005 5:02 pm
Hm... some night there might be a burglary in your yurt and mysteriously the plane ticket disappears and we will lock you in your yurt and never let you go!

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That would make it so much easier for me to stay! Shhh... keep it on the downlow...

Gauravani Dasa - June 5, 2005 3:00 am

Over a breakfast of pancakes and strawberry syrup (made from the strawberries in our garden by Citta-hari), we discussed a few topics including the structure of the classes on Caitanya-caritamrta given by Vrndaranya. Since coming to Audarya, she has been getting me caught up to the third chapter, and soon we will all be on the same page. The usual schedule is that every day, between 2:00 and 4:00 PM, we all get together and work on an outdoor project. It is during this time that Vrndaranya goes over the framework of the Cc and quizzes us periodically. All of this backed up by some independent reading. A great program in my opinion. It’s called the “Work Party.”

 

After breakfast I did some initial conversion and testing with Guru Maharaja’s Folio. Everything is working ok so far. More testing tomorrow.

 

Guru Maharaja made matar panir (“peas and cheese”), rice and chapatis for lunch. Since we are in the process of creating a Folio for Guru Maharaja’s writings, the subject of transcribing his lectures came up. From what I’ve heard, GM has lots of ideas for turning transcriptions into books--similar to what has been done with Srila Sridhar Maharaja’s transcriptions. We just need some transcribers.

 

In the context of that discussion, we also talked about how to provide opportunities for those living outside of Audarya to feel connected to GM and the monastery. We thought that transcribing service would be a good way for those who are interested and capable of making a commitment. Especially since the Folio is actively being worked on. Vrndaranya said, “Audarya is sadhana and seva.” I don’t think it could have been put any better. So we all agreed, if some one would like to feel connected, its sadhana and seva!

 

During the work party Citta-hari made a gate for the rose garden and we will be ready to fence it in tomorrow. Vrndaranya and I did some go-seva by cleaning up the cow’s pens all while discussing the Cc.

 

Since Guru-nistha’s yurt and mine are in the same neighborhood, I occasionally get to hear him practice mrdunga. I grew up playing percussion and Guru-nistha is a good drum player so it’s a nice accompaniment to the environment. There is also a pigeon (?) nest right outside my yurt; it makes interesting sounds some times.

 

The sound of bells that hang on the necks of our cows, a breeze that blows through the redwood trees and a peaceful panoramic skyline that satisfies the mind--this is only the beginning of Audarya-dham.

Radhanama Dasa - June 5, 2005 3:33 am
We just need some transcribers.

 

In the context of that discussion, we also talked about how to provide opportunities for those living outside of Audarya to feel connected to GM and the monastery.  We thought that transcribing service would be a good way for those who are interested and capable of making a commitment.  Especially since the Folio is actively being worked on.  Vrndaranya said, “Audarya is sadhana and seva.”  I don’t think it could have been put any better.  So we all agreed, if some one would like to feel connected, its sadhana and seva!


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I would love to transcribe some lectures. Admittedly, I'm not the swiftest typer but maybe i could try a couple and see how it works out...

Shyam Gopal Das - June 5, 2005 7:12 am

maybe we can start a new thread and you let us know which lectures need to be transcribed so we can divide those among ourselves?

Mathura-natha Das - June 5, 2005 7:25 am

I´m also interrested in transcribing and I think that the polish lectures from last year (The MP3 cd) is a good start for me because in those GM is little more laid back on backing himself up with a lot of sastra, which for uneducated me is a good thing, since it would take a good portion of time trying to figure out where every sutra comes from :blink: . Guru Maharaj, what do you think about this?

Syamasundara - June 5, 2005 12:39 pm

Wow... transcribing, that's a thought... last time I tried it was on tape and not that enlivening, but now there are plenty of applications for that, plus I always wanted to learn how to touch type and this would be a nice incentive.

I don't know if I should learn first or learn while transcribing. I'm touch typing right now, it's only taken me 10 min to type these lines!! :blink:

Gauravani Dasa - June 5, 2005 2:56 pm

There is a piece of software called Express Scribe that allows you to play audio files and slow them down by hand or with an optional USB foot pedal. I have used the software a little and it does a good job of slowing down the audio without altering the pitch.

 

There are lots of other software packages out there, but this one happens to be a freebie :blink:

Radhanama Dasa - June 5, 2005 7:29 pm
There is a piece of software called Express Scribe that allows you to play audio files and slow them down by hand or with an optional USB foot pedal. I have used the software a little and it does a good job of slowing down the audio without altering the pitch.

 

There are lots of other software packages out there, but this one happens to be a freebie :blink:


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Well, I think i need to look into a program of some short. I did the Bhaagavda-Gita Chapter 11 Verse 1 last night and i must say it was tough. It's about a 39 minute talk and took me almost 5 hours to transcribe. and then to go back and listen to make sure i did a good job. phew it was tougher than i thought

 

but, it was very enliving and good excercise to hear the talk over and again and to try and find the verses that Guru Maharaja used... uh by the way does anyone know what verse in SB says that if there are any literary faults in this book they are to be over looked ;):) ? I looked for it in the first canto first chapter online but my PC laptop w/ vedabase and SB set are packed up right now from my move.

 

Anyway I would like to start the MP3 set from Guru Maharaja's Sept 04 visit next. But i must say with work starting back up for me tonight, i will probably only get one a week or so.

 

Thanks for the oppurtunity to serve in some way from so far away.

Madangopal - June 5, 2005 9:41 pm
uh by the way does anyone know what verse in SB says that if there are any literary faults in this book they are to be over looked  :)  :blink: ?

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Great verse, SB 1.5.11:

 

tad-vāg-visargo janatāgha-viplavo

yasmin prati-ślokam abaddhavaty api

nāmāny anantasya yaśo 'ńkitāni yat

śṛṇvanti gāyanti gṛṇanti sādhavaḥ

 

On the other hand, that literature which is full of descriptions of the transcendental glories of the name, fame, forms, pastimes, etc., of the unlimited Supreme Lord is a different creation, full of transcendental words directed toward bringing about a revolution in the impious lives of this world's misdirected civilization. Such transcendental literatures, even though imperfectly composed, are heard, sung and accepted by purified men who are thoroughly honest.

Gauravani Dasa - June 5, 2005 11:46 pm
Well, I think i need to look into a program of some short.

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According to the Express Scribe site:

"Works with speech recognition software such as Dragon Naturally Speaking to automatically convert speech to text."

 

So I guess this Dragon Naturally Speaking software is a good one to use. I have never used it myself but I keep hearing about it in different places.

Gauravani Dasa - June 6, 2005 2:33 am

Nanda-tanuja came for a visit today. He arrived in time for mangala-arati, surprising Guru-nistha.

 

Over breakfast Guru Maharaja elaborated on the “broken” guru parampara thread. He pointed out that there are currently cases involving a diksa line being maintained without much spiritual consideration--similar to the conditions that confronted Srila Bhaktvinode Thakura. He drew a comparison to the caste system and the contaminated conception of varnasrama. He also mentioned that many of the same arguments used against our “broken” guru parampara could be used against those making the “broken” claim. He stated that for those of use with faith and who feel connected, there is no problem, but for preaching purposes, all of these details are necessary.

 

After breakfast we unloaded some supplies Nanda-tanuja brought including rice, oil and a PC for testing Guru Maharaja’s Folio. I was quite impressed with the tools he brought for testing. This will make some of the work extremely easy.

 

After lunch I cleaned up the bathhouse and the guest yurt while Citta-hari, Guru-nistha and Nanda-tanuja finished putting up the deer fence around the rose garden. Our gardens are now officially deer-proof!

 

If he has the time, I think it would be nice if Nanda-tanuja could write about his day here.

Radhanama Dasa - June 6, 2005 5:57 am

Thanks for the links Fred and the verse.

Syamasundara - June 6, 2005 9:55 am

We want pictures tooooo!

Panchatattva - June 6, 2005 4:27 pm

Thanks, Fred, for sharing the nectar there in Audarya. We all love reading about being there. I would love to do some transcribing service. I'm pretty fast at typing, so even though I don't have much time, I think I'd be able to contribute something. Please let me know.

Gauravani Dasa - June 6, 2005 5:24 pm
We want pictures tooooo!

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I don't have a camera, but pictures were taken of all of us yesterday. I'll see if I can get a hold of it and post it.

 

I would love to do some transcribing service.  I'm pretty fast at typing, so even though I don't have much time, I think I'd be able to contribute something.  Please let me know.

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I'll talk to Vrndaranya about a plan for distributing the seva.

 

Thanks to everyone who has expressed some interest!

Jason - June 6, 2005 6:55 pm

When I visited Audarya, Vrindaranya and Citta Hari sent me home with a transcribing machine. I've done this type of service in the past, and I'm ready to do some for Maharaja. Just send the tapes and I'm on it!

 

Jason Pearson

880 Oak St. #2

SF, CA. 94117

 

Should I get a diacritic program for transcribing? I'd like to talk details with someone.

 

Eager to start,

 

Jason

Gauravani Dasa - June 6, 2005 11:04 pm
Should I get a diacritic program for transcribing?  I'd like to talk details with someone.

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I think Vrndaranya may be the person to contact. As far as a program for diacritics goes, the only thing I can suggest is this character map for the PC:

 

ansi.gif

 

Hold down the ALT key and type the four-digit code to produce the diacritic character. Make sure you are using the Balaram or any Sca font that comes with the VedaBase. I can supply those as well.

Citta Hari Dasa - June 7, 2005 2:38 pm

Jason:

 

It's not the transcriber's job to put in diacritics, so you don't need to be concerned with diacritics when transcribing (tedious! boring! slows you down!). The Sanskrit editor takes care of that. Mainly all you need to do WRT Sanskrit terms is try to get them right, which gets easier as you become more familiar with the multitude of terms Guru Maharaja uses in his lectures. If you really can't figure out a word, even a misspelled guess is better than nothing. We can (usually) quite easily figure it out from the context.

 

Chris:

 

Verse references need not be included (unless you happen to know them off the top o' your head); the editorial staff deals with looking them up and so forth.

Jason - June 7, 2005 3:02 pm

Sounds great! I'm ready when you are. You've got my address and I will wait for some tapes!

 

Excited,

 

Jason

Radhanama Dasa - June 7, 2005 7:41 pm

OK thanks Citta Hari. What about prayers to the spiritual masters and such, should that be included? or should i just start where the talk starts?

Vrindaranya Dasi - June 8, 2005 10:37 pm

No need to include the prayers in the beginning.

 

 

Ys,

Vrindaranya

Audarya-lila Dasa - June 9, 2005 3:15 am

If this is the right place to sign up for the seva - then I would like to try transcribing as well.

 

Audarya-lila dasa

Gauravani Dasa - June 9, 2005 2:42 pm

Sorry for the lack of updates, but I have decided to post less regularly because of time constraints.

 

Yesterday it rained all day long so we didn't do any outside work. I worked on Guru Maharaja's Folio--now named Audarya Folio--and made good progress.

 

Having found out that I grew up playing music, GM requested that I learn to play kartals and mrdunga. He stated that it would help me become more emotionally expressive and involved in kirtan. Citta-hari has been teaching me, and although I'm a slow learner, I definitely do feel more involved.

 

Guru Maharaja has also helped me address a few mental issues that are popping up, as is to be expected in monastic life. He is very accomodating and I feel myself becoming more attached to him.

 

As a side note, Vrndaranya made some cherry and strawberry cobbler yesterday. It was officially deemed "da' bomb!"

Vrindaranya Dasi - June 9, 2005 4:39 pm

Thank you to everyone who has come forward to do transcribing. With seven people volunteering, it looks like we will make good progress on the backlog of lectures. I'll be sending you an email soon with more information.

 

Audarya seva ki jaya!

Nanda-tanuja Dasa - June 9, 2005 7:49 pm

I think we should explore a High-Tec approach as well. Dragon NaturallySpeaking 8 Professional can automatically transcribe recorded dictations. I had previous experience with this program some years ago. Currently they are market leaders in speech recognition, so I think we should try. I will send a copy of it to Audarya to create Guru Maharaja’s voice profile (you can train software to recognize your voice and style of pronunciation that results of recognition are better) then this profile can be distributed to interested transcribers. I can send them copy of NaturallySpeaking 8 as well. It will help tremendously in my opinion. At list it will help to create a draft which then can be corrected by transcriber, because I’m sure it will not recognize Sanskrit or Bengali for you. The software runs on PC. This is the link if you'd like to learn more about it. I'm sure you can feed it wav files which you can rip from CDs.

Jason - June 9, 2005 9:25 pm

I think it's really cool to see how so many people can be engaged in transcribing service for Maharaja. Just think how much more he could make accessible to people with everyone chipping in from different parts of the country. The transcriptions become books, leaflets, pamphlets, newsletters, etc. More items to distribute and bring people closer to Swami and wet their appetites for spiritual topics. Drop them off at universities, health food stores, yoga centers... I think it's great. I loved, "Ancient Wisdom..." and wish that short essays like that were available to distribute individually as "one sheets". Often time people don't have time to read entire books, and I think that transcribing and distributing individual lectures could prove effective.....at least for me here on Haight St.!

 

Jason

Guru-nistha Das - June 19, 2005 10:44 pm

I'm happy to report that the boys survived the observance of nirjala ekadasi.

 

When I woke up yesterday I was immedeately thirsty, just because I knew I couldn't drink during the whole day. The morning went ok, but by lunch time I was grumpy as an old man and I just felt like crawling under a blanket while eating a big plate of cherry halva. The mind thinks of all kinds of stupid stuff and I decided not to listen to it but just force myself to stay awake and focused. Luckily Citta Hari was on a good mood and he cheered me up while we were cooking for the Deities. I made a sweet potato-bellpepper-curd subji and chapatis and Citta Hari made saffron cardamom halva, rice spiced with panca puran and a cherry butternilk drink.

 

I went to my yurt after cooking and I was bummed out because I had been anticipating this day because of the possibility to read and chant the whole day, but now that I had the possibility to do it, I was just thinking of eating and sleeping and had no inspiration whatsoever. Nonetheless I grabbed the Bhagavatam and just forced myself to read and concentrate and after an hour I realized that it was working! I read about how Bhisma died, how Krsna left hastinapura and how he entered Dvaraka and I was loving it. This whole incident reminded me of the allegory that the sun is always shining. It's just a matter of you being either under the clouds or above them.

 

I was able to stay focused for the rest of the day and felt like I had won a round in a boxing ring with my laziness. The evening arati was nice, but it's always different of course when Guru Maharaja is not present. (He's giving his Siksastakam commentary a final touch on the Bay area)

After the program Citta Hari and I hung out in the kitchen. He had a sudden inspiration to start sharpening the kitchen knives. That kind of practicality blows my mind. That would probably been the last thing that would've popped into my mind at 7 PM, after not being eating or drinking anything the whole day.

So, Citta Hari sharpened his knives and I was checked out new recipes from Yamuna's book. So ended another night in eternity.

 

This morning, when I was walking towards the bathhouse, my feet were not quite cooperating with me. I made it to the mangala arati somehow and the other boys weren't too vigorous either. It was quite funny, the arati was like from the noon program from devotees' retirement home. I never thought singing and fanning of different worship articles could be so exhausting. Batteries were running low.

We broke the fast with cashew burfi and pancakes with cherry syrup on top.

 

 

The fasting and voluntary weakening of the body made me think of the whole discussion about cancer and self-preservation that's going on on tattvaviveka.

I definately had to make a lot bigger effort to be able to concentrate on chanting and reading because my body was distracting me all the time, but at the same time it made me think more profoundly about how our very nature is to be dependent, be it water and sleep on a physical level or God in the ultimate sense. It's just a matter of choosing what you are dependent of.

Gauravani Dasa - June 21, 2005 3:05 am

Today I learned how to make sooji, a kind of cereal made from semolina. Guru-nistha showed me how to roast some coconut and mix it with the grains along with some brown sugar and vanilla extract.

 

While in the kitchen I noticed how little my mind is fixed on preparing the meal for the Gaura Nitai. Perhaps when I am making offerings this will change. I hope so anyway.

 

Today Guru Maharaja and Vrndaranya came back from an editing intensive. It was so nice to have GM back after several days of his absence. During lunch his discussed his ideas for the Audarya website and his vision in general for our monestary. He really keeps the focus and his vision is such that one cannot help but desire to follow it.

 

We also discussed the importance of being under the guidance of a guru/sadhu. I can say from personal experience that being in a situation in which one must interact with his/her guru in a monastic environment is such a purifying experience. On many occasions I am begging Gaura Nitayanada to help me keep my mind controlled or help me see my conditioning for what it is so that I can interact with the other monks and my Gurudeva properly.

 

Guru Maharaja mentioned one morning after I inquired about the nature of the self (jiva), that the jiva is fundamentally dependent on God. Everything in existence being His energy, in both material and spiritual situations we are dependent on Him. Our illusion is that we are independent. This simple fact had never been so apparent to me until GM emphasized it.

 

It recent days it has been difficult to come to grips with the great opportunity I have been given to practice and serve in Audarya under GM. It is very humbling and I pray to be able to continue.

Gauravani Dasa - June 22, 2005 3:09 am

This morning during mangala arati, I could not help but wonder, "Where am I?!?" Guru Maharaja's presence really turns everything into Vraja. Guru-nistha and I were agreeing on this point while pulling weeds and picking stawberries.

 

Guru-nistha and I cooked lunch together today. I was pretty anxious most of the time. As much as I would like to be a nice cook, I am just a goof in the kitchen. I had some trouble mixing the chapati dough and overcooked the chaunce for the dhal and some chapatis. I did manage to cut some potatoes properly and my chapatis are rounder. I just hope I don't get kicked out of the kitchen before I get enough practice. At the same time, I would hate to dissapoint everyone with a poorly made meal.

 

In addition to the discussion mentioned above, Guru-nistha and I had a nice long conversation while working in the garden today. We talked about lots of things including the prevalance of misconceptions in Iskcon, monastic life and our appreciation for Guru Maharaja. Gn and I really have a lot in common. It's nice to hang out with him and there have been a few occasions, including this evening, when we are the only two in the temple room with Gaura Nityananda for the arati (GM, V, and Ch all working on Siksastikam). We are both self-proclaimed "self-doubting nerds" who try our best at cooking and singing, usually ending up embarassed with the result. I appreciate having some one to feel foolish with, and I think Gaura Nitai have a purpose behind putting us together.

 

Otherwise, all is well in Audarya.

Radhanama Dasa - June 22, 2005 3:28 am
GM, V, and Ch all working on Siksastikam

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Any chance of hearing a little more about this? I, for one, am very excited about it. :P

Citta Hari Dasa - June 22, 2005 4:02 am

My little part is the Sanskrit editing, proofreading, and creating a glossary. Publishing a book is quite a process: Guru Maharaja writes, Vrindaranya then does substiantive editing (about seven passes, with lots of back and forth between she and GM), then V. copyedits, then it comes to me for Sanskrit. I pass it back to V. who checks it over, then it's back to me for proofreading. I send it back and V decides which of my suggested changes to accept, then sends it to others for further proofreading. Chapters bounce all over the place. Things are written and revised. And re-revised. It's really amazing how much work it takes to make a really concise and readable book, especially when one considers the fact that Guru Maharaja is an excellent writer with an extraordinarily clear idea of what he wants to say. But a good writer needs an equally good editor, and I can say without a doubt that Vrindaranya is one of the best in the biz.

 

So where are we in this? Speaking from my limited perspective, I finished proofreading chapter 5 this evening and will send it to V. in the morning. She will send me chaps 6 and 7 which will probably take me all day to finish (by finish I mean both Sanskrit edits and proofing), if I do finish them. I'm about half done with the first draft of the glossary.

 

Serving Guru Maharaja's vani in this way is deeply purifying, satisfying, and enthusing. It humbles me to be allowed to take part in it. When I think ahead to the devotees reading this book and how they will be blown away by it (like I am) I grin from ear to ear and wish it were done and printed. There is still a fair bit to be done before that, though, so try to be patient, everyone! I assure you that the final product will be well worth the wait.

Radhanama Dasa - June 23, 2005 1:02 am

Thanks for the details Citta Hari, although it certainly leaves me wanting to see it manifest asap, ill get my patience in check :D:D . Is it all layed out and designed there also? Using InDesign or Quark or something like that?

Guru-nistha Das - August 1, 2005 10:11 pm

I got an email today:

 

Gurunistha,

Help those falling souls in the desert and quench their thirst with some nectarian

Audarya stories.

YS,

Syama Gopala dasa

 

 

How could one let down a dear godbrother's petition?

 

I came back from Finland a week ago, after successfully applying for religious worker's visa (five years!). It was easier to get the visa than I thought. I went to the embassy and this short american guy interviewed me who looked like a crossbreed between Diego Maradona and Kirk Hammett. He had been to India and knew about hinduism and it was a quite nice encounter. He dismissed a young girl's visa application who was interviewed just before me and it made me nervous, but luckily I had no problems.

 

When I came back to Audarya, Krsangi and Kamalaksha came here too, the alot-talked-about Finnvasion that shrunk down to the two of them. But it was great nonetheless. They are definately fun to be around, constant picking and trying to be wittier that the others.

One day we went to swim to this extremely beautiful waterfall that had two ponds. When Kamalaksha saw the place, he said "Incredible. This is so unreal that it looks like a cheesy airbrush painting!" We started with jumping from cliffs to the smaller pond. Guru Maharaja exhibited a quite flashy cannonball!

After that we moved on to the bigger pond that wasn't as deep. The waterfall had carried big logs into a pile and we dragged one of the big ones to the pond and surfed with it. We also had a contest of who can do the hardest trick on the raft. Gauravani almost landed 360 degrees and Vrindaranya tried a handstand. After few hours of watersports we sat down and ate super good pasta that Guru Maharaja had prepared. It was such a great day. The guests were loving it and it felt good to be able to offer them something unforgettable. In the afternoon Guru Maharaja said it's time to go. He said "Just like with eating and sleeping, you have to have moderation with recreation too" .

I'm sure Kamalaksha and Krsangi will send some pictures when they get back home from LA.

Madangopal - August 2, 2005 12:14 am
Help those falling souls in the desert and quench their thirst with some nectarian Audarya stories.

 

Yes, thank you for the post. I was dying of thirst and wondering what lila is going on in far-off Audarya. Devotees cannot live on philosophy alone! How about you Gauravani? You must have some stories tucked away somewhere...

Gauravani Dasa - August 2, 2005 2:57 am
How about you Gauravani? You must have some stories tucked away somewhere...

 

Well, I have been staying very busy with the Audarya Audio subscriptions and indexing. Having Kamalasksa and Krsangi here was really nice though. I have yet to meet a disciple of Guru Maharaja who isn't a wonderfully kind-hearted devotee.

 

On the day we took the trip to the waterfall, one of the most memorable moments for me was just how naturally beaufiful the setting was. Whenever we go out into nature with Guru Maharaja, I can't help but think of how much fun Krsna and the cowherds have. GM and Vrndaranya are good at coming up with simple, yet competitve games to play, and somehow, Guru Maharaja always seems to win!

 

GM also took Kamalaksa, Krsangi and I on a tour of Audarya. I got to hear some interesting things about GM's ideas for Audarya. I thought Audarya was amazing already, but through GM's eyes, you haven't seen anything yet!

 

"When you're the king of the log, you're the king of the log!" :)

Syamasundara - August 2, 2005 8:35 am

King of the loooooooog!!

 

But are you all talking about that freezing cold fall and pond at the end of the property down the slope with a big bush of bay at the entrance of the path that leads to the fall??

 

My heart almost stopped when I dived in there, but then it was fun...... :)

Shyam Gopal Das - August 2, 2005 2:49 pm

haha thanks Gurunistha! :)

Guru-nistha Das - August 7, 2005 4:53 pm

This week we've had the pleasure of hosting Bhrigupada. It's been fun having all these Finns around.

On thursday we had Srila Bhakti Raksaka Sridhara Maharaja's disappearance day festival, which was really nice. Guru Maharaja gave a good talk and after that we had about an hour left to cook the feast. There were Bhrigu, Gauravani, Citta and myself in the kitchen and boy were we fast: dahl, subji, laddus, rice, chapatis, pakoras, salad and lassi in about an hour. Not bad.

 

Yesterday Nanda-Tanuja came (4 AM) and got his second initiation. We had a really, really nice fire sacrifice performed expertly by who else than Bhrigu. before the yajna Nanda-Tanuja took a ritulaistic bath with Bhrigu at the waterfalls I wrote about earlier. But I'm sure Nanda-Tanuja will want to tell about the day himself.

 

Citta Hari finished the cob oven about a week ago and when he was heating it up to make the thing dry up, Vrindaranya made a cookie dough and they baked butter pecan shortbread (with jam on top) in the doorway of the oven. Guru Maharaja offered the first ones to Gaura-Nitai. Great stuff. A year ago I could've not understood what's so great about having your own cookies from a homemade oven, but I have started to appreciate basic things like that so much more after living here for a while. Doing simple things with the Deity in the center, it's such a dignified lifestyle.

 

Today is Bhrigu's last day at Audarya and I'm going to make pizza with him in the cob oven. We'll see how it turns out, it's the first thing that we try to bake inside the oven, in the traditional way, so some burnt edges are expected, but we'll see.

Babhru Das - August 7, 2005 6:45 pm

First, I congratulate Nanda-tanuja on his good fortune.

 

Then I want to ask about the "cob oven." Can you explain more about that, please?

Syamasundara - August 7, 2005 8:39 pm

WE WANT PICTURES!!!!!!!!!

 

We need some photography buff among us, why are so few pictures taken?

Guru-nistha Das - August 8, 2005 2:53 am

We'll send pictures, Syama. Ma sucah :D

Guru-nistha Das - August 10, 2005 3:33 am

Well, we tested the cob oven with bhrigu and managed to make good pizzas. We didn' t have any idea how long to pre-heat the oven and how long to keep the pizzas in, so the first went to the cows, but the second one turned a lot better and the third was great. We had to bake the two last pizzas in the oven, though, because we ran out of heat. The pizza baking was a real group effort: Bhrigu did the sauce and dough, I cut and fried veggies, Gauravani dilevered the pizzas down (the oven is about 300 feet from the kitchen) and Citta Hari baked.

It was a good send off for Bhrigu, home oven -baked pizza.

 

The next day we tried it again because we have to learn to really make good pizzas for one special occasion. Anyway, this time Citta started to heat the oven about 7 AM already and by 11:30 it was over 600 farenheit hot. This time we brought the ingredients down and put the pizzas together next to the fire. Three minutes in the oven and the first pizza was ready. And let me tell you, it looked like straight out of Pizza Hut million dollar budget commercial. I always thought they made those pizzas in commercials out of rubber and oilcolors, but now I know, that they make them in cob ovens. Gaura-Nitai got some first-class pizza.

 

Today, when I staggered to the bathhouse, a huge tent and a big truck had appeared next to one of the gardens. After a few seconds of my brain rolling empty reels, I figured that Vraja-lila, Prahlad and their extended family had arrived. Gauravani baked them his specialty pancakes (they are so big that if you wanted to kill someone, you could just slap one of them in your victim's face and suffocate him) and they seemed to like them. I liked how the indian family unit worked; it was obvious from the beginning that their idea of family is much more organic than the western model.

 

Guru Maharaja has been giving short Bhagavatam classes afer the evening arati, since I came back couple of weeks ago, and need I say, they have been great. He started from the first verse of first canto, and so many things came out. He talked about it during five lectures, then explained the second verse a bit and then we jumped into Brahma Vimohan lila, to the 14th chapter of the tenth canto. If you feel like you are missing out, well, you are(ha), but no reason to lament, I'm going to make an MP3 CD out of those talks when the lecture series is finished.

 

Here's one funny picture from the waterfalls. It's kind of hard to say wether Guru Maharaja or Kamalaksha is the king of the log in this one...

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Citta Hari Dasa - August 10, 2005 4:43 pm

Regarding the oven, we did take pics at each stage of the construction and I plan to make a comprehensive post explaining it soon. But the basic idea is that of thermal mass used to capture heat and then cook food with. The mud oven wall are about 10" thick, and when fired sufficiently retain heat for a very long time. More later on the oven itself.

 

A note about the pizzas on our second trial: they were, I think, the best pizzas I have ever had. Far better than Pizza Hut, with the added satisfaction of making them ourselves. They are baked directly on the firebrick bottom of the oven, which is like a huge pizza stone, which makes use of conductive heat. The intense radiant and convective heat finish the tops off in very short order; as Guru Nistha mentioned, three minutes to perfection.

 

We have not tried bread yet, and most likely will not have an opportunity to do so until after the Ratha-yatra festival. We will certainly do reportage of the event when it does occur, though, so keep your eyes peeled for that. Vrindaranya has mentioned that she wants to get into making artisan-style old fashioned sourdough (no yeast) bread. Life is good at Audarya!

Nanda-tanuja Dasa - August 10, 2005 6:23 pm
they were, I think, the best pizzas I have ever had.

Looks like next time I should bring some good fresh mozzarella and basil :blink:

Syamasundara - August 10, 2005 6:43 pm
A note about the pizzas on our second trial: they were, I think, the best pizzas I have ever had. Far better than Pizza Hut, with the added satisfaction of making them ourselves.

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I know!!! What was up with that? Pizza Hut... somebody has never had a real pizza.

So you got yourselves a mud oven at Audarya, one of my dreams come true (of course in my dream I was the pizzaiolo, darn it. Oh well, as long as Gaura Nitai have pizzas and bread).

 

I have a hard time picturing where so many cows and an oven fit in the property. Could someone make a sketch of where everything is (pond included) and post it? It would be charming. Maybe put future buildings too.

Bijaya Kumara Das - August 18, 2005 4:31 pm

Congradulations Nanda

Syamasundara - September 7, 2005 10:57 pm

Any Audarya daily? Weekly? Picture of the altar? Something? Anybody?

Nanda-tanuja Dasa - September 8, 2005 12:15 am

Exactly.... :)

Swami - September 8, 2005 2:47 am

I am afraid that I have everyone here so busily engaged that they have no time at the moment to read tattva-viveka. So I am planning to write some notes myself. Suffice to say for the moment that these are momentous times for Audarya's development. More later.

Babhru Das - September 8, 2005 5:14 am

Perhaps, in the meantime, Margaret could share her impressions of Audarya from her visit. I know that it was a short visit, and her first; nevertheless, she may be able to give us an idea of what's going on there.

Margaret Dale - September 8, 2005 6:26 am

Ahh, Audarya.

I feel utterly inadequate in my ability to describe the glories of Audarya, but I will try.

I arrived at about 11am on Sunday. It was a clear sunny day, and the temperature was about 80F. I got out of my car, paid my obeisances to Swami and the holy place, and brought some bhoga up to the first building I came upon. Gurunishta was busily engaged in cooking for GauraNitai's lunch. I think it was Citta Hari came around the corner and asked if I had seen Maharaja yet. I said I hadn't, as I was bringing things from the car. When I finished unloading, I walked around the corner of the main house (which I later learned has the kitchen, temple room, and Maharaja's study in it) and found Maharaja sitting chanting japa on the deck, with Tulasi devi on a chair next to him. I hadn't actually expected to be able to see him; I was just visiting for some quiet time with good association. He was so sweet, so peaceful, so kind. He invited me to sit and began speaking to me about so many wonderful topics of devotion and Krsna's sakti. I could have sat there just listening to him speak for hours, but out of kindness he inquired as to what my personal questions were. As he was speaking, the young hand-raised bull wandered over and began to eat my sari repeatedly. Eventually Maharaja got up and shooed him away, but that didn't deter the bull for very long.

Vrndaranya came over and had me meet the cows. I'm terrible with names, so I don't remember any of them, but I do remember that one of the original larger Zebu girls had gotten too fat and is currently in a pen by herself so she can't steal more food.

Suddenly it was time for lunch prasadam. Guru nistha had mad a wonderful subji from fresh eggplant, tomatoes and peppers from the garden, along with paneer from fresh milk. He also made a nice yellow dahl, rice and chapatis. Everything was delicious. I got to speak with him, Citta Hari, and Vrndaranya. I'm sure you all know how kind and intelligent all of them are. They made me feel comfortable immediately. Guru nistha was eating quickly because he was leaving soon to pick Syama gopal up from Santa Rosa in the afternoon.

After lunch, Maharaja, Vrndaranya, and Guru nistha went down to level out an area for a new cabin. I was not dressed appropriately for the outing (and I'm terribly allergic to poison oak) so I stayed up at the main house. Maharaja made sure I took darshan of the Deities. I didn't know that Balarama Krishna were there!

I chanted outside in the amazing peacefulness that you only get away from the city. I could just hear a river running in the distance. The wind rattled the leaves in the trees from time to time, and sometimes a bird would sing. Other than that the only sound was that of the Holy Name. Even when I couldn't concentrate so well on the name, I would look out and from the deck everything I could see reminded me of Krsna. In the distance were trees covering the next ridge over, reminding me of Maharaja telling me that in the scriptures Krsna states that "of the trees, I am the redwood," and that really, one can see Krsna in any manifestation of nature. Just below me was the garden where the devotees grow fresh vegetbles for Gaura Nitai. They have so many kinds of tomatoes, eggplants, peppers and beans. Vrndaranya and Guru nistha told me how they can or dehydrate extra vegetables for use in the winter. Around the corner from me was the chair where Maharaja sat. It was wonderful.

I wandered down past the bathhouse and found the rose garden where flowers for the Deities are grown. I was amazed at how healthy the plants looked in comparison to the ones in my yard. In the same garden, there was also corn and lettuce. Later Vrndaranya told me that the open space just in front of the rose garden is where Maharaja is planning on building the temple.

One thing that really impressed me about Audarya, in addition of course to the wonderful people and spiritual atmosphere, was the beauty of the architecture and the attention to detail. Everything was clean, everything had a purpose, every small or large detail contributed to the overall mood of the place. The mood to me was simple and functional, beautiful yet completely consistent with the land surrounding the buildings. It reminded me of how Maharaja likes to speak of the Vedic literature as an organic whole, how everything works together towards a single overlying theme. The buildings of Audarya seem to be a physical representation of that idea.

After everyone came back from leveling the new site, Citta Hari made peach smoothies. Maharaja rang the bell on the deck outside the temple room so that Vrndaranya would know there was food. We sat quietly enjoying the prasadam. Neighbors from down the street drove up in something resembling a golf cart. A middle aged gentleman lived down the street and he brought two of his younger relatives up to meet the cows. Swami was very kind and spent quite a while speaking with them and inquiring as to their well being. The older gentleman came over to me and said "It's great having Swami as a neighbor." The visitors were delighted with the friendly cows.

At first I was sitting apart chanting, but then I started listening to the conversation.

-A little detour now - I'm visiting San Diego in October for 2 weeks at a veterinary hospital as an extern (I'm currently a senior in vet school). I have been trying to decide what will be the best approach for me to be able to have at the least ease of practicing my sadhana and at the most good association while I'm there without having to spend $85/night for a hotel. I contacted the temple, and they wanted a letter of recommendation, which gets complicated because you all know how ISKCON feels about Audarya.....Anyway, I overhear that the young couple that is visiting is from San Diego and that she loves dogs. When I mention that I'm visitng, she immediately offers accomadations for me. She's not outwardly a devotee herself, but she is obviously favorably disposed towards Krsna.

As soon as they left, I turned to Maharaja and exclaimed "How did you do that! It's like magic!" because of course Maharaja had known of my predicament before hand. OK, end of detour

Maharaja talked to me some about his plans to breed more miniature Zebu cattle, how he had spoken to many breeders before finally settling for one that genuinely cared about the breed and the animals. He told me how the new bull is already almost mature at 18 months, and that the bull just has to grow a little to overcome his height deficit that prevents him from breeding.

Vrndaranya showed me around the yurts, which are like big round tents made of a wooden frame inside and covered with a tough vinyl, with clear plastic windows and a stiff plastic sunroof in the middle. They look quite nice, although I hear the rain can hit the sunroof and make it difficult to sleep. I also hear they can be a little chilly in the summer. Vrndaranya also told me that they are planning on having real cabins for each of the monks and using the yurts as accomadations for guests. We walk up and down and all around the paths looking at the yurts and gardens, and then we head back to feed the cows. Actually, we headed back for another reason, but one cow started lowing and then all rest joined in and wouldn't be quiet until we fed them. The usual hay delivery hadn't happened for some reason, so a small number of bales had been brought up in a cow trailer. The hard part was trying to get the hay out of the trailer while keeping the cows from climbing into the trailer to eat. Between the two of us we managed it. You'd think the cows had never been fed before, but I personally saw them getting prasadam from the devotees at every meal.

Maharaja came over to milk the big red cow. He called her by name into the milking parlor - a small room with a feeding trough and head catch at one end and just enough room for the cow and a person at the other - and she ran right in. So it seems that Maharaja has the same effect on people and animals :)

Just after that, Guru nistha returen with Syama Gopal in tow. Sadly, it was time for me to leave. I needed to leave before it got dark because the road back down the mountain is very curvy and I'm not at all familiar with it. I had gained a lot in my few hours. Prabhupada always spoke of good association. Audarya is overflowing in good association. Even better than the beauty of the surroundings, the quiet inherent in the wilderness, is the presence of Maharaja. Just having a few hours of his mercy and association is priceless.

Babhru Das - September 8, 2005 6:26 pm

Wow! Margaret, that was wonderful--more than I could have hoped for. It sounds as though you had a wonderful day.

 

I even liked your detour. What a great story! It's too bad the San Diego devotees wouldn't be interested in hearing about you from the Audarya devotees, but I know the scene quite well, having lived there for many years. I even have a story about Swami's visit to the SD temple in 1999, but I've already told it too often, and it wouldn't surprise you.

 

My younger daughter still lives in SD. She shares her apartment with three friends, though, and they can't have pets there. One of the girls has to keep her dog at her parents' apartment across town. It might be nice for her to meet someone who is pursuing Krishna consciousness and attracted to Swami's presentation. My other daughter, Krishnamayi, has some affinity for hearing Maharaja's talks, but Lali hasn't shown any interest yet. Maybe she'll be able to connect with one of the two or three ISKCON preachers who do inspire her, but I don't know if that will ever really happen.

 

Anyway, thank you so much for sharing your wonderful day at Audarya with us.

SashidharaDasa - September 8, 2005 8:10 pm

Haribol Maragaret ji,

 

Thank you so much for that blissful post.

 

ys

-Sashidhar

Swami - September 9, 2005 3:36 am

The news here is that, while were practically going into negative numbers financially a month ago, many devotees rallied to our support in answer to my prayers with monthly pledges, and we are now peeking into the black. As Pujyapada Sridhara Maharaja used to say, spirituality is measured in terms of negativity, or necessity. We have plenty of necessity here, and this has attracted the black beauty Syamasundara, who is maintaining us through his devotees—your good selves.

 

But Vaisnavas are concerned more with expansion than maintenence. And as we continued to make plans to expand Sriman Mahaprabhu's facilities here, our plans were substantially facilitated when Vrindaranya secured an early portion of her inheritance from her mother on the condition that we get her daughter out of a yurt and into a cabin. A portion was allotted toward the cabin and the rest to be used as Vrindaranya saw fit, which meant that she could give it to Swami if she wanted to. Gun is a nice Swedish lady, who seems to think the world of me while apparently having no interest in Gaudiya Vaisnavism.

 

So now I am troubled with spending wisely—lowering our overhead and expanding in essential ways first. At first I thought we would begin the temple construction, but after further consideration I realized that we have some important infrastructure work that needs to be done before the samadhi, temple, and lastly a cottage for myself are built. So along with Vrindaranya's cabin 400 feet down the slope, we have begun some of this work. I was still hoping to be able to build the samadhi after all of this but I was not sure we would have enough.

 

Then our neighbors across the valley, who are followers of Satsvarupa Maharaja, invited us over. I met with Maharaja at his request and we had a very nice conversation. He very much appreciated my answers to all of his questions and three times told his medical assistant to leave us be when he tried to end the discussion in consideration of Maharaja's health.

 

It so happens that on their property there are several structures made out of old growth redwood. This is very valuable wood when reclaimed and remilled. We could never have afforded to buy this quality of wood for the timeberframe samadhi construction with exposed beams and posts that we have planned for the samadhi. It is the finest quality redwood available, except that it is not really available anymore. In Japan it would be considered temple grade wood used for sacred construction. Well, without our asking, Satsvarupa Maharaja's followers donated it to us. We begin reclaiming it tomorrow. Thus Prabhupada's puspa samadhi is under way, as is the samarana samadhi of Pujyapada Sridhara Maharaja.

 

Then the Bhaktivednata Archives hired Gauravani to upgrade the VedaBase while living at Audarya. I took it that Prabhupada has decided to personally maintain us. We must be doing something right. Imagine, Audarya is creating a state of the art VedaBase Folio (not sure what to call it) for Prabhupada's vani. I was already sure we were serving his vani, but now there can be no doubt in anyone's mind.

 

Meanwhile, Giriraja Maharaja visited. He asked several philosophical questions, and I thought of all of you CD subscribers as the answers flowed out. Unfortunately it was private discussion so nothing was recorded, but Maharaja made it known to his assistants and my staff here that he was very satisfied with the answers. After the discussion he asked for a short tour of Audarya. In the midst of the tour Maharaja turned to me as I explained our vision for Audarya and said, "This is the future of monasticism in the West." I replied, "Why only monasticism," and he readily agreed, as I explained my understanding of the relationship between moanstics and the greater congregation. As Maharaja left he said, "Both verbally and phisically you have overwhelmed me with what you are doing here. I will not be able to refrain from speaking about this to others." I must say it was satisfying to hear him say that.

 

There is still much to be done and more funds will be needed, but all of this coming at once in answer to my prayers at a time when it looked like we would not even be able to make the next mortgage payment, is a large step down the road homeward in terms of completing Audarya.

Nanda-tanuja Dasa - September 9, 2005 4:03 am

What wonderful news!

ye yatha mam prapadyante tams tathaiva bhajamy aham

Guru Maharaja Ki Jaya!

Babhru Das - September 9, 2005 5:17 am

Thank you, Maharaja, for taking the time to share this with us. This is all wonderful, even mystical, news, which gives us all hope. And it was well worth waiting for.

Syamasundara - September 9, 2005 8:22 am

I am just speechless and happy beyond limit, and that was after the first paragraph.

I am just so happy.

Syamasundara - September 9, 2005 8:36 am

OK I gained my loquacity back (what did you expect).

When you were talking of spending wisely, one humble suggestion that came to my mind was to spend some money on sowing grass over the top of the property.

It's something that will never look like a priority, but it's a little initial pain that will be taken over by nature right away.

Those slopes are really dangerous when muddy and there is no hospital in the vicinity.

I guess that's part of the infrastructure work you mentioned: grassing, illuminated stepways, etc.

 

So much money is required.

I will be living in Madrid from Saturday night. My idea was to go to the temple on Sunday and beg for this good salary job I've been striving for for months. Then I realized it is Radhastami and I lost all desire to go and beg for anything, even if it's ultimately for you. Or maybe I should ask her just because it's for you. I'm thinking, she's parama-karuna devi, maybe she's kinder than Jagannatha.

Anyway I'll try to get back on the CDs from october at least.

 

How's the siksastakam doing?

Swami - September 9, 2005 2:15 pm

Regarding Siksastakam, we should have the final layout finsished today except for the index. We are waiting for Kamalaksa to send the file and then Gauravani will input the index, which has already been done. Then we will have a page count that we can send to the printer for a quote. then he will send us a dummy book to use for excecuting the final cover design (which is also finished). We are tryng to get the book to the printer by the end of this month.

Bijaya Kumara Das - September 9, 2005 10:43 pm

Gurudeva:

 

How wonderful the news.

 

It is great news that Your Godbrothers are now turning the tide and helping as we all should.

 

Backward pushing as His Grace Sridara would say.

 

You are now being pushed into the forefront by Your steadfastness devotion to His Divine Graces' principles of Bhakti and doing what is right for rights sake and to ____ with the politics.

 

Your wise sanga threads are turning the world of devotees toward You and they have all been telling me they can not get enough of Your spiritual wisdom for years now especially all the ISKCON devotees I talk with.

 

We even got Sura das to agree to help You in LA. You may want to talk to Vrndavan das as to what we 3 talked about with him in August.

Margaret Dale - September 12, 2005 5:49 am

Hare Krsna!

I just returned from a blissful weekend at Audarya. The only way I seem to be able to think about it is with a series of obeisances.....

First, I offer my meager obeisances to Radharani, whose appearance day we celebrated. I haven't the capacity to understand the intricacies of Her lila with Krsna, Her eternal service to Him, and Her munificence in acting as our best friend and guru.

Next, I offer my humble obeisances to Swami Maharaja, without whose nectarean lectures I would never be able to grasp what little I do regarding the glories of Radha. His descriptions of the lilas are so vivid that you would swear he was hiding in the bushes watching them all and that's how he knew that Krsna went into the bushes to pout when Radha sent him away.

I offer my obeisances to Vrndaranya, Guru-nistha, and Citta Hari for their tireless labor in preparing so much wonderful prasadam, for their excellent care of the Deities, and for all the work I know they do constantly to make Audarya a transcendental place to visit.

I offer my obeisances to Agni devi for leading such wonderful kirtans and making the entire house shake with kirtan.

I offer my obeisances to Agni devi's wife (I apologize for my horrible memory with names) for her delicious sweets and pakoras.

I offer my obeisances to Nanda-tanuja for his delicious baklava and his eagerness to perform seva.

I offer my obeisances to Caitanya-daya for her association, her work on Guru Maharaja's books, and her efforts to make everyone feel special.

I offer my obeisances to Radhanama for attaching himself to the lotus feet of Guru Maharaja. Congratulations!

I offer my obeisances to all of the other devotees who attended Radahstami at Audarya. I was so happy to have the association of such nice people who were all very friendly and offered wonderful association.

I took some pictures, which I will post as soon as they are developed, and I saw a few other cameras out, so hopefully there will be photos soon!

Syamasundara - September 12, 2005 9:55 am
I took some pictures, which I will post as soon as they are developed, and I saw a few other cameras out, so hopefully there will be photos soon!

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Way to go! I like you already, and, though corny as it sounds, I offer my obeisances to you for starting out in such an exemplary, endearing and sincere way.

 

On an unrelated note for future reference, devi is the feminine of deva, the correct name is Agnideva (whose wife is Ratnacintamani by the way).

Nanda-tanuja Dasa - September 12, 2005 6:05 pm
I offer my obeisances to Nanda-tanuja for his delicious baklava

 

Well... I actually have nothing to do with baklava accept eating most of it :D Yam-yam-yammy!

Babhru Das - September 12, 2005 8:57 pm

Somehow I missed this the first time I read Maragaret's Radhastami report, but apparently one of the things that happened at Audarya was Radha-nama's initiation. Congratulations on your good fortune prabhu, and thank you for showing us our family is vital.

Radhanama Dasa - September 18, 2005 4:37 am

It was an amazing week for me, to say the least.

 

Working with the vasi's to dig up and level the area for Vrindaranya's cabin, and helping to start tear down one of the old growth red wood house's that Guru Maharaja mentioned, although extremely physical (to a desk job guy :D ), was 1000 times more rewarding than anything I could have been doing at home.

 

Pizza in the brick oven... WOW.

 

I have a couple pics (I'm sure others have a bunch) on my camera so as soon as I upload them I'll post them. Really there is not enough I could say about my time at Audarya, to be there and see GM's vision manifesting was something that will stay with me for quite some time.

 

Heck, I'm already trying to plan my next trip... here's hoping it is sooner than later.

Madangopal - September 18, 2005 5:22 pm

Congratulations Radha-nama prabhu! It took me a while to realize who the new initiate was. All glory to your good fortune. Hope to see you soon sometime, somewhere - maybe N.C. this winter.

 

p.s. When you get to them I'll be happy to see the pic's.

Radhanama Dasa - September 18, 2005 5:39 pm
maybe N.C. this winter.

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I hope so!!!

Shyam Gopal Das - September 18, 2005 6:55 pm

To join Radhanama here, my nine days at Audarya were amazing too. It was great meeting everybody, too bad I didn't get to talk to everybody at Radhastami, but I'm sure more instances will come. I'll post more about it later when all the pics are scanned. I will also write a short booklet about my visit that will be printed sometime...

Margaret Dale - September 22, 2005 1:03 am

Haribol! I got some of the pictures back from Radhastami. These pictures were taken the day before Radhastami. There were too many to put here, so you can see them at http://briefcase.yahoo.com/catenin.

Babhru Das - September 22, 2005 2:21 am

Sweet! Thanks, Margaret. Does anyone have pix of kirtans or other festival doings?

Radhanama Dasa - September 22, 2005 3:23 am
Sweet! Thanks, Margaret. Does anyone have pix of kirtans or other festival doings?

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These aren't kirtan or technically a festival, although serving the devotee's is always a festival :) . Here is 3 photo's that Vrindaranya took of us clearing the land for her cabin.

 

I have a couple more that I will try and post later.

 

Guru Maharaja and myself leveling the area:

 

meGM.jpg

 

Gurunistha, Syama Gopal, and me axeing, shoveling, rakeing:

 

RSG.jpg

 

Guru Maharaja and Syama Gopal:

 

SyamaShovel.jpg

Shyam Gopal Das - September 22, 2005 8:11 pm

Where's the smart guy remarking why is Syama Gopala wearing a fleece sweater while everybody else is in tshirts?

Krsangi Dasi - September 23, 2005 5:02 pm

There's an old Finnish saying "The lazy man sweats when he's eating, and freezes when he's working". :)

 

(And yes, I know it doesn't make any sense...)

Bhrigu - September 24, 2005 5:12 pm
"The lazy man sweats when he's eating, and freezes when he's working".

 

Purport by Srila M.B. Bhaktivihina Bhrigupada: The lazy man is said to sweat when he is eating, for moving the spoon to his mouth, chewing and swallowing is such intensive activity for him that his pulse rises and he starts to sweat. On the other hand, when he is supposed to work, he just stands around and watches the work of the rest. Because of this, he feels cold. This is going on. Still, the lazy man may find some pleasure in work. As it is stated in "Three Men and a Boat" by Sri Jerome K. Jerome: "I love work. I could watch it for hours".

Syamasundara - September 24, 2005 5:25 pm

Bhaktivihina.... UAHAHAHAHAHAH :)

Shyam Gopal Das - September 26, 2005 6:02 pm

I finally managed to get near a scanner and took the opportunity to scan some of my photos of my visit to SF and Audarya. Enjoy: http://www.flickr.com/photos/63267737@N00/

Margaret Dale - September 27, 2005 3:18 am

Thank you! Great pictures.

Guru-nistha Das - October 8, 2005 4:10 am

Yesterday was one of those days I will remember for the rest of my life.

The morning started very nicely. We had a sweet mangala arati, and after that I offered puja to the small Gaura-Nitai Deities. I was feeling great after the puja, sober and calm. I grabbed my bead bag and suddenly saw Nandu storming past the house. And then Bhumi, the little guys. And Dharma!

Guru Maharaja had let all the cows out at the same time and I went outside to chant and hang out with them. They were really animated and joyful to be outside, since we have been forced to keep them penned up because they have started to come up on the deck and eat all the plants.

This was the first time that I saw all of them together like that and it was a great sight. So idyllic, watching a nice herd of cows roaming around and eating grass while the morning sun was rising.

 

After a while I went back inside and then all hell started breaking loose. i heard loud mooing and hasty hoof sounds from the outside. I ran outside and Dharma and Bhumi were having a severe fight right next to the mainhouse. Guru Maharaja and Vrindaranya were out already, trying to separate them by giving them food. But nothing could stop them. Fir some reason Dharma and Bhumi start fighting almost immedeately if they are put together in a pen and we have kept them separate fpor several months, but this was the first time they fought outside the pen. And it looked pretty bad. When big animals like that fight, you don't want to go too close. Bhumi has really long horns and her horn got stuck in Dharma's collar. They couldn't separate from each other, and it seemed like Dharma was choking. I threw a bucket of water at them but they didn't even notice it. The scene was pretty chaotic. The other cows were mooing and running around, the fight-buddies were raising dust in the air and we were running here and there, trying to come up with different ways of separating them. They moved down the hill next to the bathhouse and Bhumi still had Dharma's collar on her horn. Guru Maharaja went closer to distract them with food, dharma turned around and Bhumi pushed him. Guru Maharaja got bumped by Dharma, took few steps down the hill and fell down quite bad. My heart skipped a beat. luckily he got up fast and limped on the bathhouse porch. As if this wasn't enough, Bhumi was in heat and so when Bhumi and Dharma were stuck on eachother, Seva and Kishor took their chances and started mounting Bhumi. We tried to get them out of there, but it was risky to go that close, because cows are surprisingly fast in their movements, plus Dharma and Bhumi weight about 600 pounds each. After a while we caught all the little cows and penned them up, but the big ones were fighting hard. They were covered in dust and dirt, exhausted and bleeding. I brought a hose down, but was so nervous that couldn't get it working. Vrindaranya grabbed it and showered they cows and they actually got separated, but just kept fighting even harder. It looked like they were going to kill each other. They moved on the other side of the bathhouse. We were keeping our distance. Vrindaranya sprayed them with the hose again. Dharma turned and started running towards Guru Maharaja. GM was about 10-12 feet away from him and started running as fast as he could but Dharma was blinded by fury. He rushed forward like a steam-train, going unbelievably fast. He ran straight at GM and hit him in the back. It was one of those moments when time stops. I couldn't believe it actually happened. It couldn't be true. GM rolled over Dharma's head, hit the ground and hit his head. Bhumi was right after Dharma and she was running towards GM who was lying on the ground. We were screaming. Then Gauravani jumped in between Bhumi and GM, and very determinatedly stopped her from trampling GM. We ran to GM. He was lying on his back, half-conscious and wailing silently. I was throughly in shock. It would take ages for an ambulance to come here. And the cows were pretty close, fighting hard. They could come back and trample him. We started lifting GM up from the ground and he was in great pain. I was afraid that his spine was injured because of Dharma's push. The truck was right next to us and Vrindaranya said that I should drive GM up to the main house in the truck. I was relived to see that GM could walk to the car. We drove to where the cows were clanging their horns together and I pushed the car horn to get them sparated. Dharma did another one of those fast turns, run straight into the forest with Bhumi at his back, disappeared. I drove GM back to the mainhouse. And he started to regain his strength. Luckily the incident looked way more serious than what it was. GM was obviously hurt, but we didn't need to go to the hospital.

 

GM took a warm bath and we went down to the kitchen and just collapsed on the bench and the floor. How were we supposed to start our day after a morning like this? Vrindaranya said that she almost passed out when Dharma hit GM. I started fgeeling nauseous. What if GM would've been hurt really bad? What if we would've been left alone?

It was such a powerful lesson: don't take your spiritual master's company for granted. Don't get used to it. Life is unpredictable, so we better take all the advantage we can from our Guru's company.

 

Dharma and Bhumi eventually came back from the forest. We got them penned up and things calmed down, but I felt this weird twist in my stomach the whole day. I pray not to ever take for granted my fortune of living at Audarya with my Gurudeva and the Audarya-vasis.

Babhru Das - October 8, 2005 5:23 am

Holy cow! (sorry) What a harrowing story! I didn't see anything about the caws going after any of you kids--just Swami. Yikes! And he gave no hint yesterday that he had been beaten up by the cows.

 

And if I remember correctly, this is not the first time! Wasn't he gored by Dharma a few years ago?

 

Thanks for the report, Guru-nistha (I guess). I hope everyone is recovering. When these things happen, I feel a hightened sense of urgency.

 

Oh, boy--time for a little kirtan.

Forrest - October 8, 2005 5:27 am

Thank you so much for telling us all about this. I was very moved by it. When I first started to read I was not at all expecting such events to happen. I am very happy to hear that Swami was not too badly injured. I sincerely don't know what I would have done if I was in the position of the Audaryavasis that were there.

 

It was such a powerful lesson: don't take your spiritual master's company for granted. Don't get used to it. Life is unpredictable, so we better take all the advantage we can from our Guru's company.

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Indeed, such an important lesson. This news comes to me at a time where I am trying to more seriously surrender to Guru-Gauranga. Indeed I have been planning to make various vratas during the coming Damodara-masa. I will now perform those vratas with the mood of seriously developing my relationship with Guru-Gauranga.

Shyam Gopal Das - October 8, 2005 7:32 am

I'm in shock...

Nanda-tanuja Dasa - October 8, 2005 2:00 pm

I had no idea that cows can be pretty violent animals, from their appearance they look so friendly and serene. Everything is in Krsna’s hands and I’m sure there is a lesion to be learned, but I just don't know what. How serious are Guru Maharaja’s injuries? You have to take him to the hospital -- there might be some small fractures or a head trauma which might not be visible. The whole story is just horribly disturbing... I love Dharma, but if he becomes a problem like that maybe it’s time for him to go. Please keep us posted about GM's situation.

Gauravani Dasa - October 8, 2005 4:04 pm

Guru Maharaja has no serious injuries, but is very sore. He took the rest of the day easy and got plenty of rest.

 

I would like to add that the event also made me think very deeply about how lost I would be without Guru Maharaja here. He is everything. We should all definietly be thankful that we have he association.

 

As far as the cows, they are all very friendly, but in certain situations you have to be careful. It is just just with any other animal, or even a human, you don't want to get on their bad side. In normal circumstances the cows here are not a threat. But cows are sensitive so you have to pay attention to their subtle reactions to you and don't make them feel threatened.

 

We plan to build a large pen for Dharmaji and you can still pet him through the fence. I did just yesterday.

Madangopal - October 8, 2005 4:19 pm

I just read the news. :( I hope you're feeling better Guru Maharaj... Thank you Gauravani and all the other vasis for averting more serious injuries.

Karnamrita Das - October 9, 2005 3:35 pm

Reading this account was really shocking and very chilling.....totally unexpected. My mouth was just wide open and I couldn't believe what I was reading. It is very easy for me to give council after the fact, but it would have been helpful to start with a statement that the injury was not serious , because when I first began reading I became more and more shocked, and was stuck on envisioned the discriptions and naturally it was very grim seeing the cows buck or trample Swami. Woooo! Sigh!!!!! That was guite an emotional ride! (though it might have been good reading from a purely discriptive perspective, we are just to close to the story here!!!!!!!!) I have already lost two Gurus and am not ready to loose another any time soon. Personally I am more emotionally involved with our GM. My identity is very tied up with him, so Swami's loss would be especially devastating. Death can come at any moment in totally unexpected ways, so we have to become fully surrendered souls and develop our relationship internaly with our Guru........easy to talk about, difficult to practice, yet essential to aspire and pray for. What is truly certain in this world? Whatever our consciousness is absorded in and to the degree we are in KC or not, that will bear fruit!!!! Bulls are something like an uncontrolled mind from my limited experience, so I am glad that Dharma will be kept seperate. I am sure Balabhadra of ISCOWP would have a few suggestions, if he is favorable.

 

dasanudas,

 

Karnam

Guru-nistha Das - October 9, 2005 4:28 pm

I'm sorry if my writing was too dramatic. Maybe my approach was wrong. I wanted to write from my own perspective, the way I experienced the situation, but it would've been wiser to make it more of an announcement type of post...

 

There's nothing to be worried about, though. Guru Maharaja is a bit sore, but everything's alright. And you can be sure, if somehow the cows end up fighting again (which won't be happening, unless they break through their pens), we will surely not be trying to stop them.

 

 

I had no idea that cows can be pretty violent animals, from their appearance they look so friendly and serene.

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Well, they are friendly, like Gauravani said, but they are still animals. Dogs are friendly too, but you don't want to go in between if they start fighting.

Some people might think that it's unnecessary and too dangerous for us to have cows here, but it's a matter of perspective; it's still a lot more dangerous to live in a city, but people jsut don't think about it anymore because they are used to it.

 

After the incident GM said though, that "this is exactly why we want to have SMALL cows" :(

Nanda-tanuja Dasa - October 9, 2005 6:04 pm

Hopefully Guru Maharaja will have enough strength to put his thoughts abouth the whole thing on Tattva-viveka as well. I was very happy to hear that his injuries are not serious. Couple of days ago in the morning I found a picture of Guru Maharaja laying on the altar facedown and thought to myself that it must be a bad omen of some kind. Guru-nistha’s post was good enough to physically put me at the place of the accident to see this very chilling recollection through his eyes. Although I felt like my heart was squeezed by cold hand I think that what a good reporter should do. Please keep us posted.

SashidharaDasa - October 10, 2005 6:47 pm

Oh God so shocking...I am glad Maharaja is doing allright..thanks for keeping us posted..

 

All glories to Guru and Gauranga..

Syamasundara - October 11, 2005 10:06 am

Gee... I stay offline a few days and all sorts of things happen....

Good thing Forrest had already warned me or I could have passed out, still after reading I was sick all afternoon.

At the same time I was glad many reacted philosophically and positively.

Swami - October 13, 2005 4:08 pm

I am fine, although briused up a bit. Need to buiild the Audarya hot tubs.

 

I remember that Srila Prabhupada was gored by a cow or bull once in Vrindavana, but the details escape me.

Karnamrita Das - October 14, 2005 2:48 pm

Here is the "cow" pastime along with Prabhupada's passing out from heat stroke while distributing BTS's (From Srila Prabhupada Lilamrta Vol 1)

 

One time, while he was walking on a secluded street, pursuing his Back to Godhead duties, a stray cow-the kind commonly seen wandering the streets of any Indian town or city-suddenly charged him, goring his side with her horn, and knocked him down. At first he couldn't get up, and no one came to help him. As he lay there, he wondered why it had happened.

 

Summer came, and the 110-degree heat made it almost intolerable to spend time out of doors. Hot, dust-laden winds blew in the city streets. Streetside hawkers closed their businesses during the day. In early May, during 112-degree heat, a man collapsed in the street and died of heatstroke. But Abhay ignored the heat and the ordinary limitations of the body.

 

One day while delivering Back to Godhead to various addresses in the city, Abhay suddenly began reeling, half unconscious, overcome by the heat. At that very moment, an acquaintance of his, a man he had approached during his preaching, happened to be passing by in his car, and he took Abhay to a doctor. The doctor diagnosed him as a victim of heatstroke and ordered him to rest.

Syamasundara - October 15, 2005 10:45 pm
I'm sorry if my writing was too dramatic. Maybe my approach was wrong. I wanted to write from my own perspective, the way I experienced the situation, but it would've been wiser to make it more of an announcement type of post...

 


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You can always counterbalance that with another posting about something positive and in your style as you are greatly missed. ;)

Guru-nistha Das - October 16, 2005 4:42 pm

Haha... Flattering is a good way to make people do what you want. ;) Ok I will write, but right now I don't have time. Jagadishvara and Diralalita came here for the weekend and I'm going to cook something for the whole crew. Citta Hari is working with Jagadish on the wiring of Vrinda's cabin (Jagadishvara is a electrician).

 

More later.

Guru-nistha Das - October 24, 2005 2:43 am

Well, it's the last day to write a new entry if i don't want to break my Kartika vrata, so here we go.

 

We weren't able to go back to the normal schedule after all, because the roof has to be done before the rainy season starts. So that means I'm even busier, since I got my vratas on top off everything! Aah, monk's life... Luckily we've had a polish devotee Rohini Nandana here helping us, carrying stuff with me, doing the dishes and processing veggies. And in two days Hanna is coming here for a month, so that's definately going to help. We are going through harvest season and it seems to be a small task to process tomatoes, eggplants and such, but it's quite time consuming. We are making sun-dried tomatoes in the greenhouse for the winter. I remember when I had just arrived to Audarya about 10 months ago and Guru Maharaja taught me to cook, and we'd use those little dried tomatoes all the time...

 

Living this kind of rural life just makes me think about it constantly, how incredibly high standard of living we have in today's society. Small things like honey in a store-bought container makes me almost gasp my breath. It's such a valuable and amazing thing, so much time was consumed to produce it, first by the bees and than humans, and we just go to a store and buy it and not think about it for a second. It's not surprising that so many western people don't have any appreciation for anything. The society seems to be built around the illusion, that we are not dependent. Everything's available, at any time, anywhere. Want a cup of cappucino at 3 AM on Sunday? Sure! An underpaid mexican delivery guy will even bring it at your door. It just magically is there, without any effort or mercy.

Another thing that has made me meditate on being dependent is our power situation. We run on solar and for the past week or so it has been cloudy at times, so the power shuts of in the morning when there's no light but we're using electricity. Without electicity there's no water. And without water there's no cooking or drinking. Without electicity there's no phones or fridgerator. We restricted our showering times to 5 minutes max. because the water pump is the single biggest electricity consumer in our household. I remember how I used to be irritated by people who were always immedeately putting the light off if I had left it on and wasn't in the room. Or how if I let the water run for longer than needed, somebody would be closing it immedeately and letting me hear about it. But now I'm exactly like that myself. I'm irritated by wasteful people. I've become an uptight nagger!

 

But this all really is a good meditation on how utterly dependent we are. And when I think about how brutal and merciless material nature is, it's easy to want to be dependent on the spiritual nature rather than the material.

 

 

One more story. Guru Maharaja and Gauravani went to Santa Rosa to take care of business, and while they were at Agni's house, the cleaning lady came. She was in her early thirties, a typical american gal, and was very interested in what GM and Gauravani were all about. When Gauravani said that they live in a monastery on the hilltops of Philo, the poor lady asked, "Monastery, is that some kind of a religion?" When Gauravani explained the concept of a monastery, she asked if people can leave from there if they want to or are you there for life once you get in. While Gauravani was explaining that people can leave if it doesn't work out, GM turned around and said, "You know, people can leave from a monastery any time they want, but if you have a mortgage and kids, how are you going to leave them?" That really struck her and she said "Yeah, that's true... Oh my God, I'm in a cult!"

Guru-nistha Das - October 24, 2005 2:48 am

here's Vrinda's cabin/office!

Guru-nistha Das - October 24, 2005 2:51 am

aww... here?

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Guru-nistha Das - October 24, 2005 3:00 am

Oh, and here's our new cow. Her name is Gauri, she's four years old, and the previous owner said she's pregnant. She just won a grand champion price in a zebu show. GM and Vrindaranya have been talking about starting a zebu business as a source of income for Audarya. It's pretty fitting, hindu monks selling cows. Many Zebu people say that miniature cows will be the next big thing, noe that llamas, pigs and pygmi goats are out of fashion. We'll see what happens.

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Guru-nistha Das - October 24, 2005 3:02 am

Here's a picture form inside Vrinda's cabin. There's obviously still a lot to do.

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Guru-nistha Das - October 24, 2005 3:04 am

Our Polish reinforcements, Rohini-Nandana.

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Syamasundara - October 24, 2005 2:14 pm
I remember how I used to be irritated by people who were always immedeately putting the light off if I had left it on and wasn't in the room. Or how if I let the water run for longer than needed,  somebody would be closing it immedeately and letting me hear about it. But now I'm exactly like that myself. I'm irritated by wasteful people. I've become an uptight nagger!

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I've also become like that thanks to my dad, although I can't believe I'm saying it. When I was in Ireland I would freak out on a regular basis because I realized there are so many people who treat a refrigerator like a cupboard and they leave it open for as long as they need to fix a sandwich. I am still disturbed at the thought, not to speak of when I would go after people to turn off the lights.

Our place in Eugene was a two-story house and when we did away with the bathroom on the main floor to extend the pujari room the only bathroom was upstairs in the brahmacari asrama.

During the winter one of us used to always switch the light on to climb those 15 steps that he should know by heart. I used to get mad and think: "But why on earth? Like if there were toddlers in the house leaving toys around."

However, since this person happened to be our Guru Maharaja I tried to harmonize and think it made sense that wherever he goes darkness disappears.

 

ajnana timirandhasya

jnananjana salakaya

caksur unmilitam yena

tasmai sri gurave namah

 

I remember sometimes GM would get into our room and turn all possible lights on; it made me feel as if we were those little dark creatures called humanity that Kalki comes to destroy at the end of Kali Yuga.

Other than that waste/energy consciousness is a very laudable and natural quality in a Vaisnava; to me composting is one of the best activities. By the way, how is the old tumbler doing?

Oh, and thanks to Citta hari and Sevananda for teaching me how to do the dishes efficiently.

 

Welcome Rohininandana! Well... wellgone, I keep speaking as if I still lived there.

Nanda-tanuja Dasa - October 24, 2005 5:41 pm
I keep speaking as if I still lived there.

Maybe instead of relishing old memories better start making new once? When are you coming back home?

Syamasundara - October 24, 2005 6:50 pm

Not so soon at this pace. I thought I had a job and a house and last monday everything fell apart for some reason, so here I am starting all over again.

I even stopped asking Gaura Nitai for a nice job to be able to help GM. Of course they know it's not entirely for that, but 50% and it's a sincere 50%, still it's been 8 months of almost getting a good job and then...

Anyway whatever they like.

 

yatha tatha va vidadhatu lampato

mat-prananathas tu sa eva naparah

 

Last Monday I was really depressed when it happened, but before my friend who is hosting me could notice it I caught myself, so that she wouldn't preach to me.

It had already happened once when I was in Ireland getting seasonal affective disorder a friend of mine told me she was surprised that someone so spiritual like me (to her standards) could get depressed and not know that the sun you have to have it within.

What a shame, so many years of tat savitur varenyam...

So in order not to give a bad impression to my friend last week and for the sake of good preaching, I actually started preaching to my own mind first (imagine that :( ), and I started thinking of the Indians and their attitude to things. Getting gloomy would just be a lack of faith in Gaura Nitai. Of course they're taking care of me, and whatever happens will be for my good, however obscure it looks for now.

The environment is friendly.

Bijaya Kumara Das - October 25, 2005 6:58 am

:( Nice updates on the progress Gaura nistha das. Life is good there. It reminds me of when I would be at the farm in my very early years - 1960's. We did not even have and inside toilet, pumped water from a well when the eletricity worked or from a manuel original pump when it failed, milking cows twice a day, cooked on a wood stove up until the late 70's, harvesting what we would eat for the next year, cut an bail the hay, build the barns etcetra.

 

Just remember just last year the last city in America had just recieved hard wired phone service in the Appilachian mountains.

 

We are the only country in the world where every thing is so oppulent in material sense for the majority of the population.

 

His Divine Grace AC Bhaktivedanta want us to blend this with the ancient traditions of India, we are the legs and strength and they are the intelligence and leader, which it sure looks like Guru Maharaja is making this a reallity.

 

Nice to be in the loop and keep the nectar coming.

Guru-nistha Das - October 31, 2005 4:53 am

Nice stories, Bijaya! We are definitely pampered compared to how you guys lived...

 

It's been busy, to say the least. That's why the update is put together on the last minute again. It's 8:50 PM and my eyelids are heavy. It feels actually unbelievable that a week has gone already from my previous entry. Time flies when you're having fun.

Last monday I took Rohini-nandana to Santa Rosa (he went back to Chicago) and picked up Hanna for her month's stay at Audarya. It was weird talking Finnish again, and being able to communicate effectively again.

I've been thinking, though, that it has probably been an advantage for me to come to a foreign culture to live in the ashram, because the culture differences throw me materially out of my "normal" surroundings and everything that defines my material identity, so it's easier to realize how easily the false sense of identity can be shaken. And since it's already in a shaky state, it's easier to start tearing it down. On the other hand, though, when people are not in an immediate contact with their attachments, family and so on, they seem to have a tendency to start over-magnifying and becoming nostalgic of how "good" things used to be (and of course they'll do the same after 10 years with the time they are living now)..

 

Anyway, before picking up Hanna, I had to take care of some business in Santa Rosa. I went looking for shoes to go with my dhoti when I go assist Guru Maharaja on peraching tours (my trekking boots are a bit too Schwarzerneggerisque for that) and I was rudely reminded of how much I hate shopping. I went to the Santa Rosa mall, and it was quite over-whelming, after spending almost two months straight in the forest. In one store this trendy lady clerk wanted to know for what kind of occasions I was planning the shoes for. I was dressed in a hoodie and jeans, so the expression on her face was worth at least the price of the shoes when I told her, "actually, i'm a Hindu monk and I need something simple to go with my white robes". She looked like she wasn't sure if I was making fun of her, and said "well, that's the first time anybody's given me that answer".

 

 

Hanna has been doing really good here, she's been doing the same kind of days as we and is surely keeping up.

Yesterday we started a siding marathon for Vrinda's cabin. It was definately a super-charged day. First Citta Hari was using the skillsaw and we were putting up the siding, but during the day Vrindaranya, Hanna and I started using the skillsaw too, making all kinds of cuts and boards. We started working right after breakfast and stopped when it was so dark that fingers would've started dropping when using the saw. Everybody seemed to be enlivened by it. In the dark we walked up the hill and gathered in the small kitchen, ate the leftover prasadam Guru Maharaja had cooked for us (the cauliflower-paneer- pea-subji was otherworldly) and talked about buildings. Hanna had hardly even used a hammer before, but now she had just climbed up a 15 feet shaky ladder and banged down those boards. And she's even afraid of heights! That's the spirit.

And that's also what's so cool about Audarya. If you want to stick around, you have to get off you butt and do something. And if you can't, you better learn. I've had so many empowering moments, when I've realized that things I thought I just couldn't do because I'm a "right-brainer" or something excuse-reeking like that, are not that hard at all, once I just set my mind to it and have some will-power.

It's a nice challenge to try to win my weakness of mind and complacency in the service of Guru Maharaja and Gaura-Nitai.

Hari-priya Dasi - November 4, 2005 12:41 am

Some miscellaneous thoughts while visiting Audarya...

 

One of the first things, which really made an impression on me was the architecture. There is a great beauty hidden inside of simplicity, but it was not only that. In a way the buildings seem to merge into the landscape without breaking its harmony... Walking the hill up in the first morning made me breathe heavier. Still I felt more free and balanced than for a long time. It was like coming home after a long journey.

 

As Swami was speaking little about the meaning of the name "Audarya", he told about Caitanya Mahaprabhu; how he dived deeply into Krishna-lila and then distributed the beauty of it widely. In a same way Audarya can be a place where one can look inside of oneself (at many levels and in different depht) and perhaps also find something that can be given somewhere to someone.

 

I have noticed that the peacefulness of Audarya not only allows but also gently forces you to look inside of yourself. And it is not always so pleasant what comes up from there. For instance i have found some old sorrows which i thought i had dealt with already long ago. Now they are suddenly there again waving at me saying "Hey, don't forget us! We are part of you and will always be there." It is interesting though that somehow the spiritual atmosphere seems to ease the pain which once was so centrally part of those experiences. They seem suddenly less dramatic and i can (up to some degree) wink at them and say "Hi guys, see you around. I've learned a lot from you." :)

 

Flora and fauna are interestingly different here. I have been torturing people by asking the names of trees, flowers and animals. By the way, if anyone happens to know how a bright green snake is called i appreciate it a lot. The one which i saw was about 30 centimetres (a foot and a couple of inches) long... :)

 

I have to admit i was a bit scared to come here, because i am very shy and rather reserved person. Of course i had met Guru-Nistha and Vrindaranya before but i didn't know them all that well... And i wasn't quite sure how i can handle the intensity of co-existence. Anyway it has been great to find out that devotees here are not only devoted but also nice people, who are easy to be around and work with. Every now and then i get a funny feeling... In a way it feels like they are seeing something good in me. Something that i am not able to see myself. That's really a strange feeling, but actually quite a good one... :)

 

I would also like to write something about Swami and what it means to me to be able to see him every day somewhere around here. Today i don't have words for that. But i guess i'll get back to it sometimes later during the coming three weeks i am still staying here.

Syamasundara - November 4, 2005 7:36 am

Did anything happen for Govatdhana Puja?

Gauravani Dasa - November 4, 2005 9:54 pm
Did anything happen for Govatdhana Puja?

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Not yet... the festivities begin tomorrow!

Hari-priya Dasi - November 8, 2005 4:02 am

I guess i let someone else do the objective reporting about the festivities. Here is my story which i want to share with anyone who is interested. :)

 

Saturday morning was a bit chilly but the sun was rising and it seemed like another beautiful autumnday was on its way. After Mangala Arati i helped to carry some groceries and other things, which Nanda-tanuja had brought with him. I wasn't quite sure about his identity though. It was kind of like Santa Claus would have come for a visit. So many things appeared miraculously out of his car.

 

Later in the morning I was walking outside, talking with cows (They are such talented creatures... quite fluent in Finnish and i bet in Polish too...) and chanting. Suddenly Guru Maharaja knocked on the window and asked me to come up. As i went he told that he would give me the initiation right after the morning lecture. I was astonished and happy, but i also felt panic growing in myself. I had asked Swami a couple of days earlier whether he could consider me as his disciple in a future. He said that he would be happy to help me and promised to initiate me before i leave back to Finland.

 

Anyhow i had imagined that i would have at least two more weeks time to think about this coming event from all possible points of view. To read Sri Guru and His Grace one more time and ask Bhrigu for some advise how one can prepare herself for an initiation. And of course panic at least million times...

 

Around ten o'clock we had the bathing ceremony. Cittahari gave the Deity a good bath with ghee, joghurt, honey, milk and sugar-water. Agnideva was singing beautifully. Guru Maharaja and Vrindaranya brought one of the bulls, Seva, into the temple-room to take part in ceremony and to give his share for the bathing. Afterwards we sat outside and Swami gave a talk about Govardhan-lila. When i was hearing Swami talking about Krishna, Radha, Mother Yasoda, gopis and Krishna's friends, i got once again the feeling which Krishangi expressed during the last summer retreat. It's like Swami is living in that reality and has now come for a visit to tell how everyone is doing there.

 

Then it was the time. I sat close to Swami's feet and he begun to talk. I am a bit ashamed to say that my conscentration wasn't at its best. I can't even remember the exact meaning of Haripriya, which became my new name. I do remember though how Guru Maharaja asked me to pick a number of rounds and make a commitment to it. He also advised me to live good life, and reminded that even though i can talk with him about some issues most of the details in arranging my life i just have to figure out myself. I kind of felt that i was trusted there and that awakened in me a wish to grow someday worthy of that trust and these ideals to which i have now officially commited myself.

 

I can't say much about the rest of the day. In Arati devotees were singing and dancing so that the whole house was swinging. Food had been carried in front of he altar in kettles and pans. We ate outside... What a wonderful feast that was. (I have to admit that i was beforehand a bit sceptical of how Audarya-devotees are able to finish all preparations which were planned for the feast. After all the kitchen is not very big... Luckily i was all wrong in my suspicions.) In the afternoon there were also another talk about Srila Prabhupada.

 

It is sometimes a bit hard when you are bursting out of pure joy, but your character, upbringing and cultural background don't really allow you sing and dance and hug anyone you meet... :) That was my feeling during that afternoon. Now, after couple of days i feel more serious and i am kind of absorbed in my thoughts. Somehow i have never really thought about the life after initiation. In a way initiation felt kind of a final point of the spiritual search. The happy end. Now i am starting to realize that actually the journey is just about to begin. There's a path which is spreading out before the traveller. There are new adventures waiting just around the corner. And i am quite curious to explore them.

Shyam Gopal Das - November 8, 2005 5:43 am

it's stories like this that make my heart go faster. very wonderful news!

Babhru Das - November 8, 2005 6:30 am

This is wonderful news, indeed. Congratulations on your good fortune, Haripriya. You make us all fortunate and give us hope. Thank you for the report.

Syamasundara - November 8, 2005 5:06 pm

Congratulations! And make sure u put a picture in your profile!

 

If you haven't found out yet, your name means dear to Hari; it's the last name that appears in the most famous pranama mantra to Radharani.

Guru-nistha Das - November 8, 2005 5:32 pm

I wrote this a couple of days ago, but due to internet problems and a problem with the forum last night, I only post it now. Some of it is repetition of what Haripriya wrote already.

 

 

November Rain

 

The rainy season is definitely here. It rained before the Govardhana Puja, stopped for a couple of days during the festival and started again yesterday.( I remember Guru Maharaja saying once, that it has never rained during a festival in Audarya, and again we were spared of it. Demigods are on our side, haha. I bet it always rains in Motley Crue shows.) And when it rains in here, it really rains, throughout the day and night. I'm writing this in my yurt and the raindrops make an endless sound resembling a distant sound of firecrackers. The hills get really muddy here, and this morning I made the mistake of going to the mangala arati in my sandals. A very bad idea. It felt like walking on frogs.

Vrindaranya and Citta Hari finished the exterior work on the building just before the rains started. Now they are putting up insulation, an interior wall and so on. The next thing we have to build immediately when Indra takes a break from his duties, is a shed for Dharma and Nandu. We got some redwood from Satsvarupa Maharaja's place that we are going to use for it.

 

Then the festival. We were supposed to keep low profile with it, not advertise too much, because it was going to be cold and the indoor space is quite limited. But we ended up having over 20 guests. Everything went very smoothly. I'm always a bit nervous before the festivals, because we have a small staff and there are a lot of things to do and to remember, and since I'm not the most organized person in the world, I tend to forget a lot of things. So I didn't sleep too well before the festival, but there was no reason to worry.

 

The first class was at ten in the morning. There were Taruna Krsna and his mother from Portland, Angi deva, Ratna-cintamani and their daughters Nimai and Nadia, Brahma and Lila, Diralalita, Jagadishvara and their daughter Jahnavi, Vamsidhari, Paramatma who owns a Yoga studio in Santa Rosa, a devotee family from Santa Rosa with a middle-aged Indian gentleman, Rip from Santa Rosa (Prabhupada disciple) and Navadvipa dasa and Tilaka dasi (GM's Godsiblings as well. Navadvipa is going to oversee the printing of the Siksastakam), and of course our Finnish guest! Nanda-Tanuja showed up to the mangala arati and brought a whole bunch of bhoga but couldn't stay for the whole day.

 

The lecture was great again, as was expected. One of the main points in GM's talk was that we shouldn't take up meaningless or whimsical worship for non-permanent goals, but rather direct our attention to the root-cause. That will protect us from the worst torrential rains of the material modes of nature.

We were also celebrating Srila Prabhupada's disappearance day and GM drew a nice parallel between the two; the same way that Govardhana expanded from Krsna's touch and was able to give shelter to the whole town of Vraja, the same way Prabhupada expanded himself by Nityananda's mercy and offered shelter in the form of "a house where the whole world could live in".

I was so absorbed in cooking that I couldn't concentrate too well, but I have to say, it seemed like this time the cooking as whole was tighter than on previous festivals. Gauravani and I are starting to catch up. The menu was as follows: Rice, subji that had sour cream, cocnut, cauliflower, snap peas and carrots. Excellent! (By Vrindaranya), Gauranga potatoes (by Ratna), Khadi sauce; a yogurt sauce with curds in it (by Gauravani), Eggplant pakoras (by Vrindaranya), tomato chutney (by me), lemonade, apple-coconut-cinnamon-vanilla halva (by me), Pooris and an incredible cheese cake (by Vrindaranya). Everything was on time for the offering, we gather all the bhoga in front of Giriraja and held an arati. GM got Seva from the cow pen to participate. At first the little guy was a bit reluctant, he hit the brakes in the kitchen and in a protestful manner peed on the floor. When that didn't seem to work he pooed too. But when GM showed him the grains, he went wherever we wanted.

 

In the evening GM talked a little about Prabhupada, stressing the point how separation from your Guru is a good opportunity to grow and advance spiritually, and he was making a parallel how separation is the means to get into the Krsna-lila. When GM was making a point how most of his disciples live far away from him, he then said, "except for the few foolish ones, the weak ones", looked at us and grinned.

Then we watched a DVD that had old footage of Prabhupada. It was interesting to see footage from the old days. GM was also on the film and that of course made the whole thing sweeter for us.

After the class Agni led an incredible kirtana once again. I wish he came up more often, I'd love to just sit with him and GM and get into bhajans.

 

After the arati we had some apple cobler done by Vrindaranya and Citta Hari, with home-made whipped cream on top. I had been over-eating already, but I couldn't resist the cobler. We sat on the kitchen floor with the boys on a happy mood and spooned down the dessert. A memorable night.

Syamasundara - November 9, 2005 9:39 am

That's the way I like it, with menus! Like in the Caritamrta.

 

As far as the separation, it got me wondering if I am making advancement at least. I'd better, since I am missing Finland for the third time. The good news is that it's because I got a job in travel insurance, so holidays is when we get the most calls.

 

Somebody could have sneaked a pic of the deities right after the offering though... :)

 

Aniyor aniyooor!

Rama-priya - November 11, 2005 11:49 am

It is so wonderful to hear such great news dear Hari-priya! Please accept my congratulations. And of course thank You for your relation from initiation. It is so inspiring.

Y.s.

Ramapriya

Margaret Dale - November 14, 2005 12:02 am

I finally got pics of GM from Ratha Yatra off my cell phone so now I can share them!

gm1.bmp

Margaret Dale - November 14, 2005 12:04 am

Another one

gm2.bmp

Syamasundara - November 14, 2005 6:50 pm

Couldn't see either :)

Guru-nistha Das - November 22, 2005 1:05 am

Back online...

We had some internet problems, because about a week ago, Haripriya and myself were digging a trench from the bathhouse to the mainhouse, and suddenly I saw a really interesting root in the ground: it had a black rubber bark and... I had just snapped the ethernet cable.

The internet connection was cut off from all the yurts. We got it working yesterday again, after looking for a long enough wire around from Ukiah to Santa Rosa and San Rafael.

 

The news are, that there are two new buildings coming along. We (mostly Citta Hari) built a nice little shed for Dharma and Nandu. We bought a small planer and used that old-growth redwood that we got from Aghari dasa and Chamdramukhi dasi (who host Satsvarupa Maharaja), and the siding looks great, to be honest with you. Then Citta Hari started working on a milking shed, a nice little building next to Guru Mahraja's quarters on the side of the cow pens. It's still "just now coming", we have to get few siding boards and the roof shakes up. Also, Haripriya, Vrindaranya and I have been working on the gradens We've been digging a 3 feet wide, 1.5 feet deep and maybe 40 feet long rows, because we want to make the beds ready in the fall already, so that they are ready for planting in the spring. We won't have time to do it for all of the gardens, though, but at least for 3 rows. It's been a really nice weather here for the past week or so, around 80 F so it's been fun working outside (and talking Finnish).

 

A funny incident happened few weeks ago. We were at Aghari's place taking down this one old building that had great boards in it. We knew that there was a bee hive in the building, so we were pretty cautious, and every time we worked too close to the hole in the ceiling where the hive was, few bees came out and flew around angrily. After awhile, when we had gotten a big bunch of the boards out, we decided that we wanted to bring the building down, to get the bees out and to claim the wood more easily. Citta Hari, Haripriya and I pushed hard and the house made these really loud cracking sounds. Finally it started to fall and came down really hard. I would've not wanted to be inside at that time. Anyway, we ran away from the house immediately when it started to fall because we knew that the bees wouldn't be too happy about these human terrorists attacking their twin towers and when we got far enough and looked back, we were pretty amazed; there were hundreds of bees in the air! The sound they made was so loud that you could hear it from several dozen feet away. When the bees calmed down a little, Citta Hari and I picked up some stones and tiptoed as close to the end of the house where we assumed the nest to be. I've never seen such a huge bee nest. It was between two roofrafters that were 2 or 3 feet apart and it went inside the roof for about 3 feet. There were definately over 1000 bees. It kind of gave me the creeps to think that I had just been right under the hive, banging my hammer! We went to get some hornet spray form Jack's (a local mini market/hardware store) and went back with Citta Hari. I had this long stick and Citta was covering for me. He started spraying straight into the hive and the bees got loud. I poked it few times and we went away for awhile again. Then we stareted thinking, could there be honey in the hive? It was already too late, though, because we had sprayed the deterrent, but we went closer and this time I poked at the hive several times while Citta was spraying. The hive was quite hard and it took me tens of pokes to get through it. And then we saw a tragic sight: the hive was filled with honey! It was dripping all over, the whole hive and the end of my stick was wet of that stuff. There must have been several pounds of organic, wildflower honey...

 

It was a bummer to destroy their hive and it was a major bummer to lose all the honey, but at least those little creatures were sacrificed for a good cause. That wood might be used in the samadhi.

 

On thursday I'm going to take Haripriya to Santa Rosa and she's going to take a shuttle to SFO and fly back to Finland. I have to say she has been doing extremely well in here. You can definately tell that she's not a spoiled suburban kid like me. I have to shovel like crazy to keep up with her and she's not even breaking a sweat, and she just has this practical side to her that some of us were never blessed with...

 

I'm going to post some pictures soon of the new buildings and such.

Nanda-tanuja Dasa - November 22, 2005 4:30 pm

Any news about Siksastakam?

Dhiralalita - November 22, 2005 4:45 pm
:D Guru-Nistha you are the story teller par exellence. Keep it up.
Babhru Das - November 22, 2005 6:20 pm

Ditto to what Dhira-lalita said. That was great! I loved the intersting root with the black rubber bark. I was laughing so loudly that my wife came in to see what was so funny. She cracked up, too.

 

Gotta love those Finns!

Guru-nistha Das - November 23, 2005 5:07 pm

Thank you, Dhira and Babhru.

 

Nanda-Tanujaji, the Siksastakam is very close to being ready to be sent out in the print. The final proofreading is done and everything else is ready but a little work on the index must be done.

My estimation is that it will be ready in one or two days!

Shyam Gopal Das - November 23, 2005 8:48 pm

I remember you announcing that the Siksastakam was done in one of your first dailies, so should we make it a month or really a few days? :D

 

I'm really excited about the Siksastakam, can't wait to read it.

Bijaya Kumara Das - November 24, 2005 6:00 am

:D he would give me the initiation right after the morning lecture. I was astonished and happy, but i also felt panic growing in myself.

 

congradulations and hello and wellcome aboard.

Bijaya Kumara Das - November 24, 2005 6:09 am

It was a bummer to destroy their hive and it was a major bummer to lose all the honey, but at least those little creatures were sacrificed for a good cause. That wood might be used in the samadhi.

 

Yes but you did not have too.

 

Smoke is the easy way to have them leave and next time save the bees for you could have started and apari by smoking them out and then transfering the hive to a box and they would have returned and then begin having free honey for as long as you wanted to take the time to manage it.

Bijaya Kumara Das - November 24, 2005 6:19 am

Nice stories, Bijaya! We are definitely pampered compared to how you guys lived...

 

It has only been 40 years or so that rural electrification took place.

 

I did not have it so ruff because I grew up in the city and only spent the summers and harvest at the farm. A few of my cousins had to do it year around.

Guru-nistha Das - November 29, 2005 12:01 am
I remember you announcing that the Siksastakam was done in one of your first dailies, so should we make it a month or really a few days? :D

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I admit, I was wrong again, but in these circumstances it's really hard to estimate how long big projects take, because new urgent things come up constantly.

Let's say that it will come soon, how's that?

 

Another thing, people have been asking for pictures, but we've had problems with the new digi camera, so I was wondering if anybody would happen to have an abandoned old digi camera they are not using anymore, and would like to donate it to me so that I could start posting up pictures?

There is this really old digi camera here, but it doesn't have a USB connection and it works with batteries, so it's really inconvenient..

Guru-nistha Das - December 10, 2005 12:38 am

Nobody sent me their old digi camera, but I got a memorycard reader so problem solved. That's why I'm able to start posting pictures! Here comes the first set:

 

 

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Syamasundara asked a while ago how the Audarya cat Nadia is doing. Here's the answer. Obviously good.

 

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Here's one of the new buildings we did, Dharma's and Nandu's abode. If you look really closely through the feeding hatch you can see Dharma's hump. We did this building out of the redwood that aghari donated to us. If you have problems picturing where the building is, the mainhouse and the big barn are to the right.

 

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On the righthand side is the new milking shed. It's also made of the same redwood. Citta Hari did a nice job with that one.

 

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The milking shed from the other side.

 

 

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Here's a bonus picture for Radhanama. He wrote me and asked to post pictures because he was home sick.

Nanda-tanuja Dasa - December 10, 2005 10:58 pm

How is new Vrindaranya's place moving along and where are the pictures?

Guru-nistha Das - December 11, 2005 10:07 pm

New pictures of Vrinda's cabin are coming shortly, but first few older ones from Nanda-Tanuja's diksa initiation.

 

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Guru-nistha Das - December 12, 2005 5:48 pm

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Ok, here's a recent picture of the cabin!

See the smoke in the chimney? The little wood stove that's going to be the only source of heat is installed now, and it's quite traditional.

We'vwev had so many other things going on that needed to be done before the heavy rains (like the cow sheds and the garden) that it's been a bit quiet on the cabin front, but soon the cabin project will continue with full force.

 

 

I'll post a pic from the inside soon.

Shyam Gopal Das - December 12, 2005 6:20 pm

it's quite unbelievable to see the cabin, all I remember is trenches and trials.

Babhru Das - December 12, 2005 6:40 pm

Vrinda's cabin looks great! When I had a boys' gurukula ashram at Bhaktivedanta Village, all our places were heated by airtight wood stoves, and they're actually quite nice. Lately I've discovered soapstone wood-burning stoves, which look even better. My wife and I talk about getting one every winter. (I know, I know--we're sissies! But it would be nice to have something to add a couple of degrees and dry the air out just a little on those cold [down into the 60s] winter mornings.)

Guru-nistha Das - December 12, 2005 7:43 pm
it's quite unbelievable to see the cabin, all I remember is trenches and trials.

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I know! Big thank you for all of you who have helped us out with it:

 

Syamu, Jagadishvara, Haripriya, Rohini-nandana, Radhanama, Sridama...

Syamasundara - December 13, 2005 12:46 am

Well, sure... any time... but how did I help? By proofreading?

 

The cabin looks really nice and classy; I really hope you have taken everything into account as far as the soil and everything, because it sure looks like it's hanging over the slope. Maybe it's me, after my episode of labyrinthitis I get dizzy at just hanging my laundry at the 4th floor, so after appreciating the style of the cabin, my second thought went naturally to the cliff and how relaxed I'd feel in there... it reminds me of that Charlie Chaplin movie.

Syamasundara - December 13, 2005 1:11 am

By the way, thanks for remembering my request about Nadia.

I had asked about Tulasi devi, too, so I'm confident she'll come soon...

Guru-nistha Das - December 16, 2005 5:33 pm

Oh, I meant Syamu Jr.

 

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It was a beautiful morning in Audarya today. The morning sun was shining through a foggy mist and it was completely silent.

Syamasundara - December 16, 2005 10:10 pm

Oh God, I have a son??

 

Who is Syamu Jr?

 

The Syamasundaras around the world seem destined to be mixed up with one another.

Shyam Gopal Das - December 17, 2005 8:36 am

yeah who is syamu jr???

Guru-nistha Das - December 17, 2005 5:26 pm

Well, it's you! The yonger godbrother of Syamu senior.

You worked on the construction, remember? :)

 

 

It started to rain today, so we had to take all the sheetrock down in a hurry, since the sheets shouldn't get wet and the slope down to the cabin started to get really muddy and slippery.. Luckily Gaura Krsna is staying here for a week, so we had him helping us out.

Syamasundara - December 17, 2005 8:37 pm

Oh... but he spells his name with an H...

 

The tattvavivekis I know personally are becoming fewer and fewer. Somebody brought it up in an other thread, and I second the idea that we should try and gather as much as possible.

Finland is nice and all but so far away and uneasy to reach unless you live in Poland.

We should meet somewhere between Poland and Hawaii, say... in the Canary Islands!

Or maybe in North Carolina. A coast-to-coast flight is about the same price as a transatlantic one... again, unless you live in Poland or Hawaii.

 

I wish we could recreate what I usually see in Vrndavana, where devotees from all over the world meet again, after serving together in who knows what circumstances and places.

I used to see the same at the Florence Ratha Yatra, where I'd see devotees from all over Italy.

It feels so weird, right now there are times in which I feel separation from or at least friendship with some of you who I have never even met yet.

Madangopal - December 18, 2005 12:05 am

YES! I definitely vote North Carolina as the meeting place. Great idea Syama! We'll have plenty of prasad. Send me your flight info! :):P;)

Panchatattva - December 19, 2005 2:03 am
I wish we could recreate what I usually see in Vrndavana, where devotees from all over the world meet again, after serving together in who knows what circumstances and places. I used to see the same at the Florence Ratha Yatra, where I'd see devotees from all over Italy. It feels so weird, right now there are times in which I feel separation from or at least friendship with some of you who I have never even met yet.

 

 

We really do need to think about this. It's nice to be developing online relationships, but meeting in person would be so nice. North Carolina would be wonderful, but I still think that to get that festival-meeting-after-a-long-year-of-service feeling Audarya would be the spot. Just my idea. But in the mean time we can start with North Carolina. Guru Maharaj may be coming back sometime in spring '06.

Swami - December 19, 2005 2:11 am
We really do need to think about this.  It's nice to be developing online relationships, but meeting in person would be so nice.  North Carolina would be wonderful, but I still think that to get that festival-meeting-after-a-long-year-of-service feeling Audarya would be the spot.  Just my idea.  But in the mean time we can start with North Carolina.  Guru Maharaj may be coming back sometime in spring '06.

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It looks like I will be there the first week of May. We have a fair amount of momentum there. Keep the fire going until I return.

Bhakta Ivar - January 17, 2006 4:09 pm
It looks like I will be there the first week of May.

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Jupiter trine natal Venus, Uranus conjunct natal Venus, it might indeed be a jolly gathering! And something will be different, quite different. 2006 will be an interesting year for the tattva-viveka community. Early May and early September, mark my words... :lol:

 

Ivar

Guru-nistha Das - January 17, 2006 5:57 pm

Finally back online. Our internet connection has been down for about two weeks (as long as I've been back from Finalnd) so that's why you haven't been hearing anything from me. We did have a dial-up connection, but the hours were limited so I didn't use it.

Then some news:

 

A message came from the print that said that the printing of Siksastakam will be done on the third week of January, which is next week! The first box of books should be in Audarya on the first week of February, and the rest of the print probably in two to three weeks after that (?).

 

Vrinda's cabin is coming along. We are mudding the drywalls, painted the kitchen and right now Citta Hari is working on the trims. I'll go take some pictures later today and post them.

 

Gauravani is working on the new version of the Vedabase every day. It's going to be a huge upgrade, judging by what I've heard about it.

 

So things are going really nicely at the moment. I had my one year Audarya anniversary as well, but more later, now I have to start editing the next month's lecture CDs. I'll be back.

Bijaya Kumara Das - January 24, 2006 4:43 am

sorry to here that is wildblue not working ?

Finally back online. Our internet connection has been down for about two weeks

 

 

 

This is great news.

A message came from the print that said that the printing of Siksastakam will be done on the third week of January, which is next week! The first box of books should be in Audarya on the first week of February, and the rest of the print probably in two to three weeks after that (?).

Guru-nistha Das - February 5, 2006 1:15 am

Normally when I cook I listen to Guru Maharaja's lectures. Yesterday I put another CD in again when I was starting my dosa batter and to my delight it was one of the talks that GM gave when I met him the first time, at K&K's house. It was one of those lectures that have already formed to become legendary among the Euro Sanga, the ones that Syama Gopal would start by saying, "Maharaja, I've been reading Subjective Evolution of Consciousness, and..."

It brought back good memories, but the thing that really struck me was how all those people who were in that room have come a long way since then. I remember the talk and how I was blown away by it, but now that I heard it again after almost two years, I realized that I didn't really understand that much of it back then (and in two years I'll realize that I didn't understand much of it now. And in four years...).

It's quite powerful how a real sadhu has big enough lungs to blow on our sails and get us going.

 

It also made me think about something that I heard when editing one of the monthly CDs;

 

"The very things by which our sraddha comes to us we have to embrace those things, cultivate those things, develop a tendency for those things. That is how then our faith will become strong, like those whose faith is strong. And that's how we will live in the shastra, like those who live there."

 

It's so simple, makes so much sense yet it's not always so easy. The only way to increase our sraddha is to embrace those things that we got our sraddha from in the first place. How simple is that? It's ridiculously simple!

But our "separate interests" make it the most complicated thing in the world...

 

When I was offering my cookings to Gaura-Nitai, I thought of how life becomes unpredictable and also unsettling in a way, when you decide to make the increasing of sraddha your priority in life. I remember GM saying last summer in Finland how he would've never thought 35 years ago that he would be sitting in the Finnish archipelago now. And I guess that's what we are afraid of in giving up our material ambitions and just diving into the current of sraddha and seeing where it takes us: we lose control. But the funny thing is that we never had it anyway.

 

 

 

 

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The cats are loving it when there's a lot of fresh straw for them to sleep on. They get along with the cows quite well, too.

Syamasundara - March 6, 2006 12:21 am

The time when I would post my audarya memories is over, because.... I AM BACK!! (Well, for the time being.)

The proof is that it took me 3 days to be able to post this.

I arrived at San Francisco on the 1st and stayed at a friend's. GM picked me up on the way to the airport to get Gita. Everything was so not how I was expecting it. GM got off the pickup to open the back, while I was struggling with my baggage. No obeisances nor anything. My friend's boyfriend was an overly friendly Mexican who insisted in going back upstairs for his jacket and wait with me in the cold, but GM arrived right after, so there I was, waiting for him to open the door as i was locked out, with the bags on the other side of the gate. GM's face seemed to say: "Let's get this over with, I wanna see my calf" and sensitive as I am to every movement of his face, I became even more clumsy. However, once I sat down and we left, I had a darsan of GM's profile, surrounded by that invisible smiling light.

We finally arrived at Audarya at 1am, took care of Gita and I tried to haul my baggage down the trail. The first news is that I was going to stay in a yurt I had never seen. Which wouldn't have been a big deal if I hadn't had a half dead torchlight and there was mud everywhere.

Since I left Audarya I have always lived in world capitals and my actual attire is not exactly suitable for this place. I must say I haven't come here like Gurunistha and Gauravani, with the intention to live at Audarya since the beginning and to experience ashram life. In my case GM expressed so much enthusiasm in wanting me for Gaura Purnima that I couldn't say no. I already had to decline years back when he wanted me here for the Ratha Yatra, and that left me almost lifeless for one day. I may not listen to him as I should, but I don't think I ever said no to him apart from that occasion.

 

Anyway in Madrid I had no job or any other tie, so here I am, even more penniless and clueless about my future, but full of faith in Nityananda Prabhu, who by a fraction of his power maintains countless universes.

 

I found my yurt. I tried to turn the heater on, but there was no way, so I went to bed and shivered until 7am when I finally reached a decent temperature. Considering that trauma and that the night before I had slept 3 hours due to the jet lag, I had to skip Mangala Arati. I wanted to see Gaura Nitai so badly after 5 years, but I saw them at 9, since there was too much light to sleep anyway.

In the temple I met old and new god brothers. I caught up with Citta Hari on the last couple of years and after prasada I finished the tour and chanted japa until Gaura Arati. Speaking of Prasada, it was really nice. When the first spoonful touched my tongue at breakfast I started to giggle and feel happy. In particular it was a sundried tomato that did it, maybe it was Audarya-grown. Something similar had happened to me when I tasted the prasada of Jagannatha in Simantadvipa, the one with a nose, who is now in care of Iskcon Mayapur. Or maybe I started to cry. It's usually either one. Like when you come across a Tulasi leaf in your mouth and you stop chewing, pervaded by that sense of great fortune and happiness.

Most of the time I just pig out, but sri bhagavat prasada is never to disrespect. Prasada and the Vaisnavas are what makes this world tolerable until we leave it.

Lunch was a surprise. I kept thinking: "Ah, the Audarya taste. Unmistakable. So intrinsecally sweet. The surprise is that Gurunistha was the cook, the same who was being made fun of months ago for his bad cooking. So that was really nice, to see a Vaishnava progress in any devotional art. He wants to progress so much that he asked me to teach him all my secrets, but I guess all he learned from me is that you can put grated yam and cranberries in a halava.

After breakfast I was given some rubber boots, maybe the one I left here 5 years ago, and my day changed.

All in all I am glad I already lived here. Otherwise I would be freaking out right now, with rain hammering on the roof of the yurt, all this mud the place where I sleep being so far apart from where I eat or bathe.

I just couldn't care less. I am under the shelter of the most beautiful Gaura Nitai deities. I'll post pictures as soon as I take them. Oh I am going to take so many pictures, all those I always wished someone would post. Anyway the boots. I kept marvelling at how they changed my perception. Now I could function in this place that says guru seva wherever you look. Stepping on Audarya with wellies is like entering Vrndavana with no shoes. Say what you like, but I feel sort of indebted to my boots; and if a place makes me feel grateful to a pair of wellies for allowing me to function in the land of seva, maybe I am in Vrndavana after all.

After the evening arati we read from Follow the Angels by Sridhara Maharaja. He is the best author to read at night, with his sweet, amber words and compelling dialectic.

After the reading I asked whose idea it was to read if there was no class. Guru Maharaja's. Now I can see how he wants to retire and goes on strikes. In all these years we didn't think of such a simple thing by ourselves.

 

This morning I made it for Mangala arati. I tried to learn GM's song's lyrics, but I couldn't do it completely, so I had to read it. It was such an honor to be there. The program has changed since my days. I guess I'll describe all that struck me, as there are people who also haven't been here in a long time, and some never have and they would love to know about Audarya's daily life.

Speaking of daily, one of the changes was that after the mangala arati song, tulasi arati, and gurvastaka, we sang a song about Mahaprabhu's asta kaliya lila. I only understood half of it, but it's so sweet and powerful. I understand the translation is somewhere in these threads (?).

Another new thing is the pranama to Guru Maharaja that I am yet to learn. I know my mind is going to give me such a hard time on that one, as everybody here chants it with a meter that barely fits, and I am a freak for these things, but I guess I'll adapt. Sometimes the proper thing to do is not proper, and Yudhisthira/Dharmaraja has to tell a lie. There are more important things in life.

 

Tulasi Devi is doing well in the green house, with big healthy leaves. Vrndaranya has devised a technique to avoid stress to the roots while transplanting. I haven't talked to her much, but from what I have heard on her re: gardening and the new kitchen design it seems that in spite of all this distance and time now she and I are on the same wavelength, which is good because to her they pay attention. Not like we were ever at odds in the past. It's more that I am and was a clumsy person, who speaks unclearly and without confidence, without counting my collection of mistakes that dont make me too reliable.

Wow the rain is neverending today, but the forecast seems good for Gaura Purnima.

 

I guess it's enough for today, I just had three days to recuperate. Tomorrow I'll try to take pictures of the deities. There is a lot to say about our beautiful altar.

 

Sri Audarya dhama ki jaya!

Bhrigu - March 6, 2006 7:56 am
Another new thing is the pranama to Guru Maharaja that I am yet to learn. I know my mind is going to give me such a hard time on that one, as everybody here chants it with a meter that barely fits,

 

I'm curious about this. I'm sure you mean melody, not metre, but what melody would you suggest?

Syamasundara - March 6, 2006 5:09 pm

I'm curious about this. I'm sure you mean melody, not metre, but what melody would you suggest?


 

You are right, I didn't mean the meter, but I think it's more the cadence than the melody I am referring to. The melody goes up and down and back and forth in every line, but the voice should rest on anusvaras and long or heavy vowels, sometimes the words are tied by sandhi into a kilometric word that follows into the next pada and people tend to chant according to where the line in the transcription ends.

Anyway, I haven't looked at it thoroughly, and discussing this in written is tough. The important thing for me now is to learn the mantra and the meaning.

Syamasundara - March 6, 2006 5:26 pm

About the morning program, I forgot to mention that after the songs, GM reads from the Caritamrta.

Yesterday we read about Mahaprabhu's pauganda lila, as a young boy, when he asked his mother to observe Ekadasi vrata. We read about Visvarupa taking sannyasa and Nimai having a dream that made him decide to do the same, but he changed his mind for the sake of his parents.

What we read today, and are left to remember for the whole day, is when Jagannatha misra died of separation from his elder son, Nimai performed the funeral, and decided to get married and take care of his mother. Laksmidevi is the most fortunate girl who will marry Nimai of Nadiya.

Yesterday Vrndaranya's father came to see her, and I guess the cabin, too. He brought some huge pieces of squash. Since Gaura Purnima is approaching, my mind went immediately to Kolaveca Sridhara dasa. Mahaprabhu used to tease this old devotee all the time as a young man. In Loving Search for the Lost Servant, I believe, Sridhara maharaja tells the story of the two of them and a condensed milk with pumpkin that Sridhara made and Mahaprabhu appreciated a lot.

 

My camera has very low batteries and I dont think my european charger is of any use here, but ill try to take pictures of the deities before tonight. Yesterday I couldn't as the humidity blew a fuse in the generator, and Audarya remained candle-lit until we got new fuses in Ukiah.

Syamasundara - March 8, 2006 12:22 am

Here are the pics of the altar at last. However, today the deities got changed. I was chanting japa. At first I noticed some irreguarities and I gave a suggestion, but for the most part I just kept quiet in order not to inhibit the bhava seva. It made me think of Jagannatha in Puri a lot, how he excuses his priests in so many ways, even if they sometimes have the most unorthodoxed behavior.

Other than that, it was so special to see Nimai and Nitai being bathed and dressed each by one servant. Now they are wearing the purple outfit. For now, here is yesterday's one.

The two sons of Vasudeva look so princely, but if you look closer you can see the ropes for tying the cows, the horn (courtesy of Nandini and Citta Hari), and the flute.

 

more

 

....

 

uff, the pictures didn't post in the order i wanted. Plus I see they are blurred if I don't use the flash, but with it they look unnatural

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Syamasundara - March 8, 2006 12:47 am

Another thing I didn't mention is that during the lunch offering we sing the bhoga arati. We sing it up to the stanza 11, where the description of the meal ends. then the pujari continues the offering to the parampara and we pick up from verse 12 where Krsna washes his hands and mouth after the meal and the lila goes on.

GM's attention to detail is very endearing, like when we sing sankha baje ghantha baje and he likes us to blow conches and ring bells. They seem small things, but they are so not, especially in comparison with other gaudiya realities where everything is so zombie-like.

Knowing the meaning of the songs is another thing that should not be underrated. It is very humbling. Sometimes I'll be distracted by how well I am carrying a certain tune, but then certain words and their meaning hit me and I feel very ashamed. Ashamed for singing those very words as if I had the same feelings, but also very fortunate to somehow associate with that devotee who wrote that song. Wow here I am praying Tulasi devi: "O hear my prayer and make me a servant of Gauranga, a vrajavasi." And she may very well grant that desire. How lucky am I?

 

Yesterday Gaura Nitai had kadhi sauce, capatis, brussel sprouts and cashew burfi. I remembered GM liked that burfi a lot and yesterday he said we should have it more often. He hadn't had it for a while. I am including the recipe on the other thread.

 

Today the deities had saffron rice with cashews, squash sabji, samosas and catni.

 

This morning we read from Follow the Angels. GM will be busy for a couple of days discussing the temple project with architect and landscaper.

Syamasundara - March 9, 2006 6:33 pm

This is what the altar looks like at present, plus a bunch of friendly and curious cows, and some rare Audarya deer.

 

Yesterday quiet day, the deities had pancakes for breakfast and lunch was rice, dal, spinach parathas and catni. I finally took a complete tour and was delighted to see some blooming wild flowers between the terraces. I picked them and washed them. I also saw the first rose of the rose garden, but I left it there. I hope more will come in time for the festival. The weather is getting better.

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Syamasundara - March 9, 2006 7:44 pm

forgot the deer

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Syamasundara - March 10, 2006 10:20 pm

This was supposed to be yesterday's posting, but then the snow covered the satellite dish over and we remained offline until a while ago...

 

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Ok, as to weather getting better, never mind. Before it was raining, now it's snowing AND raining. So much opulence. But the pic of Raga and Gauri in the sun is from this morning.

I was all geared up to turn the compost... I guess I'll work on the VP offering instead.

 

Breakfast was yellow rice with sundried toms and cashews among other things. For lunch Gaura Nitai had pasta and rice soup, with apple squares for dessert. Vrndaranya's father brought so many apples, too.

We also discussed the menus for the Vyasa Puja and Gaura Purnima. This morning I realized there is only one thing better than cooking for the Vyasa Puja: doing it twice.

At lunch some of us were accused of hogging all the service for themselves. I found it endearing. I am sure the guests will have their share of seva, but personally I prefer not to count on them. It avoids a lot of stress. It really felt like living in the Caritamrita, with all those descriptions of feasts being organized and prepared.

Now it's snowing, and it's not kidding about it either.

I like doing this. It reminds me of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta when he said there should be a news paper about the happenings of the spiritual world at every second. After all, the spiritual world is three times the size of the material.

I like the idea of the Tattva Vivekis breathing in unison with the Audaryavasis, tuned into the good and bad things that happen here, sharing the same emotions.

The green point going up the path is Citta Hari.

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Syamasundara - March 10, 2006 10:48 pm

Ekadasi vrata ki jay!

 

This morning we read on and Mahaprabhu entered kaisora lila, he opened a school and he told Tapana Misra to go to Varanasi to study.

 

Gaura Nitai had a yam and squash sabji for breakfast and lunch was tapioca kitchri, panir sak and mixed nut burfi.

The weather forecast for Gaura Purnima keeps changing. Here is what the weather and Audarya were like this morning. The photos are self explanatory, especially the last ones.

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Guru-nistha Das - March 11, 2006 2:16 am

If you are interested to know who won the snowball fight, check the second-to-last picture and the white LIGHTNING next to Citta Hari's head! Yes, it's a snowball and yes, it broke the soundbarrier before hitting the senior monk.

Babhru Das - March 11, 2006 4:36 am

Snow!?! oh . . .

Syamasundara - March 11, 2006 11:42 pm

Quiet day today, at least on the surface.

 

Mahaprabhu traveled to East Bengal. Laksmi devi's separation took the shape of a poisonous snake that bit her. Nimai got married again to Visnupriya. Meanwhile he defeated Kesava Kashmiri, the Dig Vijayi Pandita.

 

The deities had a veggie stir-fried rice, but WE also had the mahaprasada of Jagannatha in Puri, sent by Caitanya daya. Thank you! Lunch was rice, corn chowder and bread beaids.

 

The cows have been out all day, as it was sunny. Now it's raining and snowing again. I wonder if I am still online...

 

We are shopping for the first wave of festivals right now...

Syamasundara - March 12, 2006 10:44 pm

Last night Gaura Nitai had a snack of gaja and fruit.

Gajas can be defined as holeless, diamond-shaped, fennel-glazed donuts. They were a success. We asked Guru Maharaja if he was interested and he had some. He said he had them in Mayapur for breakfast for the first time. A bunch of Bengali women making them, he was served those gajas still warm and syrupy.

When I came down from GM's room we started a whole dissertation on Indian sweets while leafing through Yamuna's huge book. At one point I started to feel uneasy and guilty of gluttony, as it wasn't that clear that we all had in mind making them for Gaura Nitai, but the part of me that wasn't guilty started to think of palms and dates and jaggery. Gaudadesa (Bengal) means the land of guda, or jaggery. The gaudiyas are called like that because their brand of Vaisnavism stems from Bengala. GM is fond of saying (I don't know if he is quoting or not) that it is because it is a sweet Vaisnavism. I always found it a bit far-fetched, but it's a nice idea after all.

So there we were, absorbed in what sweets we'd like to make for the Lord.

I used to say that our Guru Maharaja is and behaves like only the Vaishnavas of the past did, he seems to come right out of a book, but now these qualities have expanded to his immediate entourage to some extent. I am really proud of them. They apologize, they volunteer, they help each other, and they don't even think a thing about it, it's not like they think they're supposed to behave in a certain way. So much unlike when I first joined in Eugene...

GM asked me two nights ago what I thought of the new crew, and before I realized t, I said they were all special, me who sometimes has a real hard time finding good in others.

 

Today the deities had upma for breakfast, lunch was lasagne, salad, baguettes, broccoli mush with chickpea sauce, and apple samosas. A sort of birthday lunch for GM. And tomorrow the informal Vyasa Puja. And then the formal one.

So, life is grand.

 

The weather... I give up. Just imagine all fours seasons in one day. So not good for my S.A.D.

 

Gaurakrsna has just arrived! Well, a while ago. He brought the ananta sesa deity for the ceremony and a new mrdanga that sounds really good. I hope GM wants to have it tried out for Gaura Arati. It's so busy around here that not everybody can make it to the arati... well basically just the pujari. Oh but yesterday we did have a kirtan, right after the sweets katha. That was sweet for real.

 

Everybody is organizing something for the festival. As a matter of fact, I should go make a shopping list.

 

Guru Gauranga ki jay!

Syamasundara - March 14, 2006 5:49 am

What can I say, a perfect day.

 

We started the day reading from my favorite book, Caitanya Bhagavata. Mahaprabhu met Isvara Puri, first in Mayapur and then in Gaya.

Guru Maharaja had fruit and yogurt for breakfast and then we had kirtan all morning until lunch. My godbrothers are like a well oiled engine, what GM had been wanting for quite sometime. It was nice to not see them stress, but sing along with the kirtan in the templeroom. We sang the bhoga arati song during the offering, then we went to GM's room where he was reading a book in bengali, Vrndaranya offered arati and I was asked to sing the guru vandana.

The prasada was great, but there was no doubt on that.

 

At 5 we were supposed to meet again, GM would read the offerings and comment, then we'd read more Caitanya Bhagavata and sundara arati. However, due to an important call tha GM was waiting for, we had a mellow evening kirtan until arati, and then we read from Caitanya Bhagavata about the intricate relationship between Sri Nimai Pandita and Sri Isvara Puri.

Mahaprabhu cooked for his guru and the highlight of the reading was when Isvara Puri remarked that he hadn't given Nimai a ten-syllable mantra, but his whole life, so GM made us think of the fact that the guru gives his life to the disciple as much as the disciple, maybe even more so, because he commits to taking us to Krsna and he will, whereas we say we have given our life to him, but then we hold back in so many ways and occasions.

Nimai said that the birthplace of Isvara Puri is worshipable. I asked GM which his birthplace was. He said the Holy Name Hospital in Teaneck, NJ. And here it is, a little treat for all my godbrothers. I am so proud of and indebted to you all, a necklace of beautiful gems around my guru's neck. Nice offerings, it was hard to hold the tears.

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Syamasundara - March 15, 2006 5:09 am

Perfect day No 2

 

The temple got decorated last night and the deities dressed this morning, but I don't have any pictures yet.

We read from the Caitanya Bhagavata again, this morning the situation in Navadvipa before the advent of the Lord. A lot of scholars, people spending money on their kids' wedding, worhiping all kinds of minor gods. The Vaisnavas were distressed and Advaita acarya invoked the Lord. Mahaprabhu became in no time the best pandita ever, and then he dismissed all that and started to preach the glories of bhakti.

 

Gaura Krsna cooked breakfast for the deities, but since we were fasting, I am not sure what they had. Then I got to cook lunch only for Nimai and Nitai. Never been so happy. I don't remember having done it in the past, but I must have. One thing is when you cook only for the deities because there are so many leftovers, but today it was cooking for them and not even eating it. Anyway it was rice, dal, zucchini in cashew tomato sauce and yam kachoris.

 

As usual we chanted the bhoga arati song during the offering. I wonder if the others know what they are singing. It feels so good inside while reading all those preparations that Krsna is eating with delight and then they bring the remnants to Radhika. Today we also had a noon arati. GM was very emotional all day, during the kirtan we danced back and forth. Gaura and Nitai were going bigger and smaller and they seemed to be dancing with us.

Narottama dasa thakura is the first one who celebrated Gaura Purnima and he gathered all the devotees of Mahaprabhu's generation who were still alive, like Jahnava devi, and at the end they performed a huge circular kirtana, and those who had a transcendental vision saw that the Panca Tattva was dancing in their midst.

After the kirtan we went on reading. GM's eyes were smiling all the time and they seemed to say I love you to whomever they rested on.

After the reading we finished cooking, then the brahmacaris shaved up, the cows got milked and fed under torrential rain, and then we gathered again to read how Gauracandra appeared in Navadvipa during a lunar eclipse, while everybody was chanting the name of Hari, and after a gestation of 13 months.

Before we knew it was arati time. We were just 7 but all tuned in together. I was just disturbed at the idea that my consciousness had been so high these days, and today of all days I was so much on the bodily platform because of the fast, but I appreciate the value of austerity in theory.

Sri Gauranga had tapioca kitchri, panir sak, coconut catni, tapioca patties, carrot halava, salad and cashew burfi shaped like roses.

The sky looks incredible. A beautiful full moon and not a cloud.

 

Jaya Jaya Gauracandra!

Syamasundara - March 16, 2006 4:38 am

Here are the deities and the cows. Today we read how Nimai Pandita met with Kesava Kashmiri. We were just about to read what fault the Lord had found in his opponent's poetry and Guru Maharaja stopped reading. At first I thought I'd read it by myself, but then I got carried away by the seva; big sprucing up day today. Anyway here are some pics.

 

Check out Seva striking up a pose like a top model.

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Syamasundara - March 23, 2006 3:00 am

Wow, last time I wrote here it was the 16th... I guess this thread is back to Audarya Sometimely.

 

I obviously couldn't be very punctual as the guests had started to arrive.

 

Let see I'll summon my prodigious mnemonic powers and try to keep up the evangelic report.

 

On the 16th Madana Gopala and Pancatattva were expected to come from NC, as well as with Guruseva from Portland. We had a nice sundara arati and then with GM's blessings we all took banana-ginger milk with whipped cream.

While waiting for the milk we did some kirtana. Gurudeva really likes to hear kirtanas from his room above (I always feel sort of rude when I write GM, maybe I'll switch gradually to Gurudeva).

It's so hard to lead a kirtana if the singer is not playing either mrdanga or harmonium, so I chose a famous Iskcon evening melody, that Lokanatha goswami sings in a tape. It turns out that Madana Gopala (at the harmonium) used to be his disciple; yet the kirtana wasn't flowing. The dovotees and the harmonium had a hard time pinning down the melody, and as it is often the case with the iskcon style, the melody changes three or four times, which goes at the expense of focussing on the names. I was so tense and guilty for that, but anyway, Citta Hari and Gurunistha like that melody and I decide I'd pamper the devotees in all possible ways when I went to Audarya.

The following morning during japa time I kept thinking over the previous night. One does not just sit down and do nama kirtana. Without association and sadhana it's very difficult, we just get music out of it at most.

 

Anyway, on the 17th many devotees arrived, most stayed at the inn. Citta Hari and I went to pick up Forrest in Ukiah, so I don't know what happened at Audarya.

 

On the Vyasapuja day at mangala arati there were quite a few devotees in the tiny templeroom. It was nice to put faces and names together. I met: Nandatanuja, Vamsidhari and Caitanya daya. Vijaya kumara was also there with his wife Ksirodakasayi Visnu and daughter, as well as Audarya lila, Madana Gopala, Pancatattva, Gaura Krsna, Forrest, and the Audaryavasis of course (boy, it does sound like those lists of devotees in the Cc, I love it).

It was nice to hear so many voices in the kirtana. Right now I can't really recollect the object of the morning reading, but it was about guru tattva. Oh! It was about the story of Madhavendra puri and Ramacandra puri. At one point GM said that the desciple must be a servant to the guru, not a burden. The air was a little tense, as if everyone was thinking and wondering, Am I a burden? I know I was.

After the reading we started cooking. Pancatattva made garlands for the deities and Gurudeva. It was so nice to be surrounded by expert devotees. Whatever may please Krsna, they know how to do it. I am at a Starbucks now that is about to close, so here are some pictures for now.

 

These are Gaura Nitai dressed by GM on the actual gaura purnima, with fresh garlands.

 

The menu was: rice, cauliflower, pea, potato sabji with sour cream, capatis, plum catni, cauliflower pakoras, halava and cashew burfi, and lassi... as far as I remember.

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Syamasundara - March 23, 2006 3:36 am

On Gaura Purnima Agni was also there for Mangala arati. The whole family arrived just before the VP on saturday, as did Dhira Lalita and Jagadisvara.

Guru Maharaja played the drum with him for Tulasi arati. He always gets very euphoric during festivals. Too bad these pictures don't do any justice to the intensity of these moments.

After the program I entered the kitchen and didn't leave it until we were done serving prasada. Guru nistha and others had the same experience.

Regarding the feast, everything was planned, but then it took the course it wanted. We were supposed to have Srikand, but the yogurt Nandatanuja made didn't come out compact and it would have taken too long to drain. On the other side, Guruseva brought a whole bunch of strawberries that weren't on the kitchen, so we made strawberry malpura instead, or the closest version to it; it's hard to cook for a lot of people sometimes.

Matar panir was on the list, and it happens to be GM's favorite dish, or one of them, so I prayed Nityananda Prabhu really hard to make the most perfect and exceptional matar panir.

Note to self: do not pray an avadhuta for perfect things, unless it's Gauranga's lotus feet...

I decided to go by the book for once and follow the recipe scrupolously, but I don't know if in the haze of the fasting I multiplied incorrectly (we were following the recipes times 6) or if a little bit of extra whey for 6 people becomes a whole lot of extra whey for 36 people, but the matar panir came out a soup.

I was so dejected.

I am sure there is more to say, but now I need to go, so here are the pics for now.

 

These are the cows after lunch, Caitanya daya, Vamsi and Gaura Krsna, and me with the last bit of energy.

 

.

 

...

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Guru-nistha Das - March 23, 2006 9:35 pm

Note to self: do not pray an avadhuta for perfect things, unless it's Gauranga's lotus feet...


 

Oh, you're blaming Nityananda Prabhu for blowing that Matar Panir? :D

Syamasundara - March 24, 2006 2:43 am

By the way, there is a new red-haired beauty at Audarya, by the name Sukhi. She came between Sunday and Monday and she is beauuuuuuutiful, with a long, tapered face. She is almost 6 and pregnant with her second calf that she should deliver in four months.

She wasn't really used to being harnessed and around people, so she put up quite a fight between the trailer and the barn. Here she is. The funny thing is how curious and excited all the other buddies were, they kept mooing and following her from the other side of the fence to even just smell her. I wish I knew what they were telling her; maybe that she had nothing to fear there and meals are at 8am and 4pm.

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Guru-nistha Das - April 2, 2006 3:33 am

Last week's program at the Evolution Yoga center was incredible, at least in my not-so-humble opinion (you don't have to be humble if you're right :D ).

We had a big kirtan band: Citta Hari was playing Mrdanga, Jahnavi (Dhiralalita's and Jagadishvara's daughter) showed up with her mrdanga and her boyfriend who took his cello with him. Then this guy with mustache and a toothpick in his mouth showed up with a loud indian drum (sorry, don't know the name) and Sundara Gopal (a disciple of Bhaktipromode Puri Maharaja) brought his Djembe (an african drum). I played the harmonium and Agni of course led and played the kartals. A really wholesome sound.

 

About 40 people showed up and we did kirtan over an hour. Then Guru Maharaja took the seat. The topic of the talk was "Sacred Aesthetic Rapture". A pretty tough one for a yoga crowd that is mostly into the impersonal cocnception, or a pick-and-choose mix of their own. Before GM started I tried to guess how he would talk about lila and what kind of background information he would give. Needless to say, he totally blew me away with his talk. I couldn't believe how he could keep the audience captive like that and explain such a high thing in so complelling way. The mustach-and a- toothpick guy was having a good old time and after the talk, he started spontaneously applauding and the rest of the audience followed.

 

I'd love to see all of our Godsiblings who live within a reasonable range from SR on the next talk. This stuff is just too good to be missed :D

Sridama Dasa - April 12, 2006 5:45 pm

Last week's program at the Evolution Yoga center was incredible, at least in my not-so-humble opinion (you don't have to be humble if you're right :) ).

 

I just want to add how much I love these yoga center talks. I look forward to getting them in the mail each month and listen to them over and over. Guru Maharaja is so good at taking these high, high topics and making them understandable to people who aren't really acquainted with Gaudiya Vaishnavism. These talks really speak to his ability to reach far and wide and touch so many hearts. I'd love to come along to one of them next time I'm at Audarya. :D

Guru-nistha Das - May 24, 2006 10:58 pm

It's about time I write something new here...

Well, Archana's and Karnam's son Narayan stayed here for a couple of weeks. It's great to have a Gurukuli around, since he could play some incredible beats and sing and play harmonium really well. Too bad we didn't really have time to take full advantage of his skills..

Here's a picture of Narayan singing backups for one of Agni's tapes we are working on.

 

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Got to go again. More later.

Swami - July 1, 2006 3:13 am

Sukhi is extremely pregnant! Maybe twins. She is a beautiful cow and the most motherly of our herd. It is possible that she will calf while I am in Finnland, but more likely soon after I return. We are expecting at least four calves this year—from Sukhi, Gauri, Goloka, and Raga in that order. One of my hopes is that we will be able to develop a mini dairy and, among other things, produce our own raw milk cheese.

 

Temple cows are very special. They help to keep the monastics softhearted in the midst of so much philosophy and austerity.

Syamasundara - July 1, 2006 9:44 am

Uh, this is a great cue for my cow posting!

Gaurangi-priya Devi - July 21, 2006 7:20 pm

Sukhi is extremely pregnant! Maybe twins. She is a beautiful cow and the most motherly of our herd. It is possible that she will calf while I am in Finnland, but more likely soon after I return. We are expecting at least four calves this year—from Sukhi, Gauri, Goloka, and Raga in that order. One of my hopes is that we will be able to develop a mini dairy and, among other things, produce our own raw milk cheese.

 

Temple cows are very special. They help to keep the monastics softhearted in the midst of so much philosophy and austerity.


 

Any way we could get some photos of the pregnant mamas? I'm looking forward everyday to hearing of Sukhi's birth. It must be very exciting for all of you, expecting the birth of a new member.

Swami - July 21, 2006 8:02 pm

Any way we could get some photos of the pregnant mamas? I'm looking forward everyday to hearing of Sukhi's birth. It must be very exciting for all of you, expecting the birth of a new member.


 

I am checking Sukhi throughout the day, day by day. Her birth is the mystery becasue we don't know the date her pregnancy began, as we do with everyone else. Today I have noticed some further developments so I am wathching even more closely. My only experience is with Raga. She started pacing the fence line and I had heard this was a symptom of a cow going into labor. The next thing I knew she was donwn on the ground and stretched out. I called the other devotees only to return and see Mohana's head coming out. Wow!

 

But Sukhi, although half the size of Raga, is twice as bloated as Raga was at the time she calved. I will try to post a picture tonight. By the way, Sukhi is about 80% more tame then when she arrived, but she reacts poorly to being roped. Milking her may still be a challenge.

Swami - July 23, 2006 3:15 am

The camera melted. We hit 113 today--hottest ever! I will try again tomorrow, camera willing.

Babhru Das - July 23, 2006 4:35 am

The camera melted. We hit 113 today--hottest ever!

 

Oh, my God! I spent the day with Jagadbandhu, who said it was 108 in Orange County, where he lives.

Vrindaranya Dasi - July 30, 2006 11:04 pm

Here are pictures of two of our pregnant ladies, Sukhi and Gauri.

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Vrindaranya Dasi - July 31, 2006 2:42 am

Dandavat pranams, everyone!

 

Our garden is doing great this year. We've been getting lots of vegetables the whole month, which is quite early. We have tomatoes, bell peppers, hot peppers, zuchinni, corn, carrots, lettuce, spinach, beets, potatoes, sweet potatoes, cucumbers, green beans, chard, winter squash, melons, herbs, flowers, and even a few mung bean plants.

 

Here are some pictures of Guru Maharaja in the garden.

 

Tomato plants on the left, hot peppers on the right:

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Corn and tomatoes:

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Eggplants and tomatoes:

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Green beans:

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Winter squash (acorn, butternut, delicata, etc.) and melons (honeydew, cantaloupe, and watermelon):

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Vamsidhari Dasa - July 31, 2006 6:50 am

Very Yummy Veggies. :D and when are the little cows going to arrive ? they sohlud be comig any day now, right?

Ys,

Vamsi :lol:

Madangopal - August 1, 2006 1:05 am

Abundance in all aspects of life! Cows giving birth (hopefully before GM comes eastward next week), temple coming up, your very own produce market. What wealth don't the monks of Audarya dhama have?

 

The temple manifesting is very exciting. What a glorious day when Gaura Nityananda receive their first maha kirtan in that wonderful building. I pray I'm there!

 

p.s. Guru Nistha must be almost all muscle by now with all that hard work. I better think twice before challenging him to a wrestling match next time I'm there. :lol:

Guru-nistha Das - August 12, 2006 4:22 pm

I haven't written my personal ramblings here in a long time and I think it's time to break the ice again.

 

With the temple construction and a lot of service going on lately, I've been thinking a lot about the beauty of an idealistic lifestyle and sacrificing one's own comforts over a higher cause.

 

When I was a teenager I was really into this band called Rage Against the Machine. They were radical, outspoken left-wingers. I remember reading an interview where it said that the singer actually went to a guerilla camp of the zapatistas in rural Mexico to plough the fields and get his hands dirty in order to do something practical for a cause he believed in. That made a big impression on my 15-year-old mind. This guy, who was a frontman of one of the biggest rock bands of the nineties was ready to turn off his mic and turn his back on thousands of screaming fans and go to some god-forbidden guerilla camp to live according to his ideals.

It gives me a warm feeling when I hear someone sacrificing their comfortable lives for something they know is more valuable and worth fighting for. When Robert Newman was here, he told that Soren Kierkegaard, a danish philosopher left his fiancee which he loved madly, because he knew that he had a mission in life and marriage would compromise that. He stayed single for the rest of his life and suffered severy because of that, but I found the story really inspiring and noble.

 

I think sacrificing for your ideals in context of bhakti is different, though. A few months ago Guru Maharaja said, that the ones who are not that advanced feel like there is sacrifice involved, but the more advanced don't think like that anymore. It made me think about it a lot, and this is what I thought: For me living in Audarya is idealism but for an advanced devotee it must be just simple common sense. They have no pull towards any other direction, no interest in anything else than bhakti. THey want it at least as bad as some avarage Joe wants his wide screen TV and a Hummer.

So idealism in vraja- bhakti is directed to going back to everyday life, spontaneous carefree loitering without any need for idealism. Their everyday life just happens to be on a totally different platform than the material experience we are wrapped up in...

 

p.s. Madangopal, I'm still just a big wuss. :)

Vrindaranya Dasi - August 20, 2006 9:29 pm

Here are pictures from Janmastami and putting up the first wall of the temple!!!

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Shyam Gopal Das - August 21, 2006 3:31 pm

it's unbelievable how quickly the construction is going in my eyes.

Nanda-tanuja Dasa - August 21, 2006 4:08 pm

Any news about cows? Do we have any recent additions? :D

Citta Hari Dasa - August 21, 2006 9:00 pm

No new additons yet, but we're getting close.

 

More walls up in the temple. Look for pics from Guru Nistha shortly.

Vamsidhari Dasa - August 22, 2006 5:22 am

I wanted to post a few pictures from Janmastami. Had a great fortune to stay at Audarya for a few days. It always feels fantastic to be imersed in service, hear Guru Maharaja everyday, and of course enjoy the wonderful company of dear Audarya Vasis. Thank you.

Ys,

Vamsidhari d. :(

 

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Few more for your pleasure

 

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and just a couple more

 

 

 

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Jaya Gopalji lal

 

BTW Gurunistha, does having a small car instead of a Hummer justify having a wide scren TV? :D:)

Guru-nistha Das - August 25, 2006 2:48 am

BTW Gurunistha, does having a small car instead of a Hummer justify having a wide scren TV? :(:lol:


 

 

Haha... No, you karmi demon. You'll pay for your wide screen in the afterlife.

Vamsidhari Dasa - August 25, 2006 3:05 am

Haha... No, you karmi demon. You'll pay for your wide screen in the afterlife.


 

AND IF YOU PUT THE WIDE SCREEN TV AT THE FEET OF A DEMI-GOD, WHAT THEN????? :(:lol::lol::lol:

 

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Nanda-tanuja Dasa - August 25, 2006 5:17 pm

This reminds me -- this Sunday is a Ganesh Chaturthi. This is the email I've got from one of my Indian colleagues:

 

The elephant head indicates fidelity, intelligence and discriminative power

 

The single tusk (the other being broken off) indicates Ganesha’s ability to overcome all forms of dualism;

 

The wide ears denote wisdom, ability to listen to people who seek help and to reflect on spiritual truths. They signify the importance of listening in order to assimilate ideas. Ears are used to gain knowledge. The large ears indicate that when God is known, all knowledge is known;

 

The curved trunk indicates the intellectual potentialities which manifest themselves in the faculty of discrimination between real and unreal;

on the forehead, the Trishula (weapon of Shiva, similar to Trident) is depicted, symbolising time (past, present and future) and Ganesha's mastery over it;

Ganesha’s pot belly contains infinite universes. It signifies the bounty of nature and equanimity, the ability of Ganesha to swallow the sorrows of the Universe and protect the world;

the position of his legs (one resting on the ground and one raised) indicate the importance of living and participating in the material world as well as in the spiritual world, the ability to live in the world without being of the world.

The four arms of Ganesha represent the four inner attributes of the subtle body, that is: mind (Manas), intellect (Buddhi), ego (Ahamkara), and conditioned conscience (Chitta). Lord Ganesha represents the pure consciousness - the Atman - which enables these four attributes to function in us;

The hand waving an axe, is a symbol of the retrenchment of all desires, bearers of pain and suffering. With this axe Ganesha can both strike and repel obstacles. The axe is also to prod man to the path of righteousness and truth;

The second hand holds a whip, symbol of the force that ties the devout person to the eternal beatitude of God. The whip conveys that worldly attachments and desires should be rid of;

The third hand, turned towards the devotee, is in a pose of blessing, refuge and protection (abhaya);

the fourth hand holds a lotus flower (padma), and it symbolizes the highest goal of human evolution, the sweetness of the realised inner self.

Ganesha is also defined as Omkara or Aumkara, that is "having the form of Om (or Aum) (see the section The names of Ganesha). In fact, the shape of his body is a copy of the outline of the Devanagari letter which indicates the celebrated Bija Mantra. For this reason, Ganesha is considered the bodily incarnation of the entire Cosmos, He who is at the base of all of the phenomenal world (Vishvadhara, Jagadoddhara). Moreover, in the Tamil language, the sacred syllable is indicated precisely by a character which recalls the shape of the elephant's head of Ganesha.

Gaurangi-priya Devi - August 26, 2006 1:02 am

AND IF YOU PUT THE WIDE SCREEN TV AT THE FEET OF A DEMI-GOD, WHAT THEN????? :lol::lol::lol::lol:

 

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You have made me laugh so hard!!! I know it must be an inside joke about wide screen TV's, but you still crack me up. :(:lol:

 

And Nanda-tanuja thanks for that nice description of Ganesh. I know a few dances about him. And of course we worship him as yat pada pallava yugam vinidhaya kumbha....

 

"I adore the primeval Lord Govinda, whose lotus feet are always held by Ganesa upon the pair of tumuli protruding from his elephant head in order to obtain power for his function of destroying all the obstacles on the path of progress of the three worlds." Brahmasamhita

Guru-nistha Das - September 14, 2006 3:01 am

Late as usual, but here are some thoughts of entering into brahmacarya.

 

A day before Radhastami I was walking to my yurt from the mainhouse when Guru Maharaja asked me to wait for him and come check the temple construction with him. While we were putting short pieces of wood on the deck and trying to envision how big the altar room will be, Guru Maharaja asked if I knew if we still had cloth dye. I said I didn't know and asked if he wanted to dye something. He replied, "Yes, your clothes".

I was surprised and happy. I had suspected that I might get the saffron just before the India trip, but I didn't expect it this soon.

 

Citta Hari helped me set up the dying bath and there I was, sitting in the bathhouse with a lump of white cloth in my hand. In a sense it really doesn't matter to me what color my clothes are, but it was a great moment when I threw my whites into the bath and watched them slowly turn color. I felt confidence and security. I was going for it. I used to be really cautious when it came to vows and renunciation and so forth, but this time I just knew that I'll try my best, no matter what comes and what the end result will be. There's nothing to lose, really. This is the best thing I know and I'm sick of always doubting myself.

 

While I was stirring the wet lump of clothes, I thought about Hegel's phrase "DYING to Live" and it got a whole new meaning. I chuckled at the thought of selling it to some dye company as a slogan and funding the rest of the temple project with corporate dollars.

 

After the morning talk on Radhastami Guru Maharaja said some things about Audarya's monastic program and explained some background for giving me the saffron. I was really happy to receive the cloth from him and to formally state that I'll try my best to serve him and his mission as one of his brahmacaris.

I got warm congratulations from a lot of the guests and that felt reassuring as well.

 

p.s. Sridama, I'm sorry i dyed those white boxers of yours as well, just couldn't resist the temptation :Party:

Tadiya Dasi - September 14, 2006 12:38 pm

Congratulations, Gurunistha! :Party:

Dhiralalita - September 14, 2006 2:05 pm

:( While I was stirring the wet lump of clothes, I thought about Hegel's phrase "DYING to Live" and it got a whole new meaning.


:D:D:D Very cute Guru-Nishta! You evidently have a very European sense of humor. Yes, all that is neccessary in life is to please guru and krishna, not the color of ones cloth. Evidently saffron is a beautiful color and it will help you to become more serious and realize your position. congratulations again! :Party:

Sridama Dasa - September 25, 2006 3:24 am

p.s. Sridama, I'm sorry i dyed those white boxers of yours as well, just couldn't resist the temptation :Cow:


Not a problem. James will surely think of some sort of revenge by his next trip to Audarya :Devil:

Bijaya Kumara Das - September 29, 2006 8:52 pm

hey what is the latest on temple progress ?

Guru-nistha Das - October 27, 2006 2:37 am

Kamalaksa wrote me today and got me inspired to write here again.

Well, I guess the fact that we finally got the temple ready for the rains makes this possible in the first place.

 

Kamalaksa wrote among other things that it would be nice to actually hear what we are feeling and thinking while the temple is going up, insted of just making posts like "the wall is up" or "the tarpaper is on".

 

This whole project has been very significant for me personally, and I'm sure so much more so for the other Audaryavasis, since they have been in the mission so much longer and waiting for this to happen.

It has been quite an amazing experience to push myself continuously for four weeks and go beyond the limits I had confined my identity within in my little mind. Do service for service's sake, trying to stay focused on guruseva and the fact that I'm just working as an instrument under Guru Maharaja's directions. but nonetheless feeling great gratification to see the results of the work of my two hands. Whatever you do for 12 hours every day will become absorbing, and that's why I actually like marathons like this, because it facilitates getting into your service so nicely. You just don't have time for disorientation. I still have to strive hard to keep in mind what we are doing this for and have the right kind of service attitude about this whole project, but it gives me solace to know, that no matter what my consciousness is, if I just stick to this, the service itself will be purifying and in time I'll see everything in the right way.

 

It definitely hasn't been easy all the time. It might seem through Tattvaviveka that the temple is almost like some mystical selfmanifesting thing and we just snap pictures every once in awhile, but every single detail has taken blood, sweat and tears (I guess you could say those are just sattvika-bhavas :Applause: ).

There were mornings when I just didn't want to get out of bed when it felt like every muscle of my body was aching and it was cold, dark and foggy outside, and even a thought of a skilsaw or my toolbelt made me sick But all of us pulled our weight and that made getting the roof done even more gratifying.

 

One thing we all keep repeating over and over again when we walk around inside the temple and plan on the future phases, is "This place is going to be sooooo cool". Today GM and Citta were in the temple when I happen to walk by and we had a talk about the woodstoves and doors ( I was more of a listening student, to be honest). The temple is certainly going to have emphasis on sweetness and simplicity instead of opulence and pomp. Personally, I don't even think modern people are attracted by overt opulence anymore. Our standard of living is so high, that it's almost a luxury, a breath of fresh air, to have something simple and small instead. Forget about the golden toilet flushes if you want to attract intelligent people.

Guru-nistha Das - October 29, 2006 5:35 pm

A couple of weeks ago, when I was doing some house painting, I started thinking abuot the 80's movie Karate Kid. Now, I hear you thinking, "The prabhu is in Maya" but let me explain.

 

Daniel got his butt kicked by the tuffguy Karate bikers Cobra Kai and he wanted to learn Karate to be able to defend hiself and impress the Cobra Kai leader's ex-girlfirend.

Daniel tried to learn Karate from a book on his own at first, but then he met Mr. Miyagi, a small-figured, very unassuming old Japanese gardener. Mr. Miyagi agreed to teach Daniel Karate if Daniel would work in his Japanese garden in exchange. First Daniel had to paint a wall. Mr. Miyagi worked him hard and was pedantic about how to go about painting. The next day Daniel had to sand Miyagi's whole deck with two pads. Daniel wasn't really into the service at hand, but he was willing to work long days because he was waiting for the fruits of his work, the Karate lessons. The next day Daniel appeared at Mr. Miyagi's house again and again asked if they'd start practicing Karate but Mr. Miyagi made Daniel wax his dozen big cars, again insisting on going about it with a very precise and particular style, and after that he had to drive nails with a hammer a whole day. Finally Daniel got so fruststrated that he started shouting at his guru and said that he's just wasting his time and he'll never learn Karate in time for the big tournament where he was supposesed to beat up Kobra Kai. Then Mr. Miyagi said: "Do the waxing of the car" and Mr. Miyagi tried to punch Daniel. Daniel did the movement he had repeated thousands of times while waxing the car with a round movement, and the movement turned out to be a Karate defense. Miyagi went through all the different tasks and they all turned to be defense movements or kicks.

 

The reason why this came to my mind while doing service was because that's what service is about as well. We do things that seem completely ordinary, like painting houses, gardening, maintenance, cooking etc. but if we do it under right guideance with a right goal in mind, we will automatically advance. And if the motive and ideal aren't in place, we won't learn. It's not like all farmers will become Krsna-consicious or all gardeners Karate masters just because they repeat certain things.

It's easy to think like Daniel-san, that "what does pot-washing have to do with loving Radha-Krsna?" but as the domestic tasks taught LaRusso Karate, service is rehearsal, repetition in order to develop a right kind of attitude that will attract the absolute. And as the work itself became Karate, the same way service itself is bhakti, athough in the beginning we do it just to get a result from it.

 

And if we stick to the instructions of our Mr. Miyagi and push through, when our final match comes at the time of death, we will be able to kick the butts of the Cobra Kai of Yamaraja.

 

 

"wax on, wax off"

 

 

 

 

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Vamsidhari Dasa - October 31, 2006 4:35 am

A sure sign of growth can be seen in incorporating new knowledge into the pre existing one. An adaptation to the new can be percieved in re interpretation of the old expreriences according to the new knwledge. It is so inspiring to read and witness this growth. Thank you. :Applause:

Jason - October 31, 2006 4:50 am

The best thing I've heard all week. Great analogy. Thanks for that!

 

Maharaja recently said, "At least we should endeavor to exemplify a contemporary form of Gaudiya Vaisnavism that has intellectual and personal inegrity driven by a heart that beats only for the inner ideal of Mahaprabhu's precepts."

 

This fits right in with that....

Syamasundara - October 31, 2006 5:14 pm

A couple of weeks ago, when I was doing some house painting, I started thinking abuot the 80's movie Karate Kid. Now, I hear you thinking, "The prabhu is in Maya" but let me explain.

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Maya? Daniel san even chants the maha mantra when he grabs the tools for sanding the deck that look like hand drums!

Guru-nistha Das - November 14, 2006 2:29 am

Maya? Daniel san even chants the maha mantra when he grabs the tools for sanding the deck that look like hand drums!


 

See? I told you Karate-Kid was a devotional movie!

 

 

It's raining hard in Audarya and since it's impossible to build anything or edit lectures because the rain's too loud, I deciced to chant and read. Among other things, I read the old Audarya Dailies and it was quite interesting...

 

Reading the old entries made me realise that I have changed so much in these two years. I've simply started to see the world differently, see myself and everybody else in a different light as well. And it gets harder all the time for me to write these posts, since the more I practice and live this lifestyle, the more intimate and personal my experience and thoughts become, the more embarrassed I feel to talk about them. I guess that's part of going within, a thing that will inevitably happen if you stick around. In other words, I have become a boring, reserved brahmacari... and I'm loving it!

 

One interesting feeling I've had is how the world seems to be leaving me behind (or I'm leaving the world behind, whichever way you want to look at it). I don't know anymore where Cro-Mags are touring right now, which teenage-celebrity Tom Cruise has married this time, what are the latest books out there, what movies are a must-see.

And I don't care either. Bhakti is timeless, that's what this experience has made me realize. After I've started seriously practicing in a monastic setting, the feeling of the futility of today's world and all of its gossips and inside stories just grows stronger.

 

Even though I used to consider myself countercultural, I still had the mindset that if you don't know what's going on, you are lame and weird, just like your grandma or something. But taking distance can be such a refreshing experience. Your sense of self is naturally going to expand, since you start to practically feel how your awareness and identity is more than just the product of your surroundings, the western world of the 21th century in my case. I've had the weirdest feeling a couple of times driving on the streets of Santa Rosa when I've suddenly realized how the year 2006 is just another point in the beginningless time. It's not "my" time, it's not my only reality anymore, like it used to be. When you get to the basics of life, it doesn't really matter anymore what decade or even century it is, for that matter. You stop having the subconscious need that I must keep up with the world in order to be fully alive and that our culture must be progressing into some unknown and exciting future where our needs are met better.

 

Life is fascinating.

Vamsidhari Dasa - November 14, 2006 6:22 am

Well, Gurunistha you certainly became boring and out of touch :)

I mean you don't know where Cro-Mags are touring! (who are they?) and who Tom Cruise married! :Loser:

You went so far beyond countercultural and beyond straight-edge that you just remain plainly straight and traditional. :)

 

But how wonderful all that is to hear, because you are going in the direction that is so wonderful :Praying:

 

(and just for the record... there is no subconscious just the unconscious, ok?)

Gaurangi-priya Devi - November 14, 2006 4:42 pm

 

Reading the old entries made me realise that I have changed so much in these two years. I've simply started to see the world differently, see myself and everybody else in a different light as well. And it gets harder all the time for me to write these posts, since the more I practice and live this lifestyle, the more intimate and personal my experience and thoughts become, the more embarrassed I feel to talk about them. I guess that's part of going within, a thing that will inevitably happen if you stick around. In other words, I have become a boring, reserved brahmacari... and I'm loving it!


 

 

Thanks for writing about your realizations. It's really nice for us practicing sadhakas in the "real" world, to get a glimpse into the timelessness of monastic life, and attempt to transport that mindset into our own daily lives. Monastic life cultivates such a peaceful, spiritual, mode of goodness, a mode that seems to be quickly slipping away in our modern times. I endeavor to cultivate that mode of goodness and the inner life that it gives rise to, while bombarded by the demands of the "real" world. It's not always easy, so it's nice to hear the monastic point of view and gain inspiration. :):Praying:

Bijaya Kumara Das - November 14, 2006 5:36 pm

saw the temple pictures on madangopals east goes west and they look great.

 

keep up the great work it is so awe inspiring.

Nanda-tanuja Dasa - November 15, 2006 12:36 am

it gets harder all the time for me to write these posts, since the more I practice and live this lifestyle, the more intimate and personal my experience and thoughts become, the more embarrassed I feel to talk about them

I always have been a big fan of your posts just because of this reason -- they are real. Real person lives real life and facing real problems on The Path. I can relate to that. It’s very easy to think about monks as superhumans, no emotions, just high thoughts, overly sober, appearing very hard, harsh and unapproachable, almost walking on water. Your posts give a human perspective to the whole affair -- pain, joy, doubt, realization. Real Sadhaka In Real World, hehe great idea for Reality TV show :Hypnotized: But seriously, please, don’t stop writing!

Vamsidhari Dasa - November 15, 2006 4:59 pm

For those who do not watch television I wanted to mention that there is a reality TV show about monks in a Franciscan monestary on The Learning Chanel and it shows at 10 PM on Sundays. Well beyond "monk sleepy time," but I just wanted to keep Gurunistha posted of the current events :Hypnotized:

Guru-nistha Das - November 15, 2006 5:20 pm

Hahaa... I knew my post was gonna push your buttons, Vamsi! :Hypnotized:

Vamsidhari Dasa - November 16, 2006 6:47 am

It is only out of affection that I respond in this way. No buttons what so ever I am very glad to hear those tings about your progress and growth. see you soon.

:Hypnotized:

Jananivasdas - November 20, 2006 5:50 pm

haha...yo,GNU hopefully you are not soon out in the streets selling "birdfoodbags" as proper brahmacaris should be!!!! :Silly:

mosh hard my milk stealing monk brother!!! :)

 

 

grhe thako, vane thako, sada 'hari' bole' dako,

sukhe duhkhe bhulo na'ko, vadane hari-nam koro re

Whether you are a householder or a sannyasi, constantly chant "Hari! Hari!" Do not forget this chanting, whether you are in a happy condition or a distressful one. Just fill your lips with the hari-nama.

Guru-nistha Das - January 9, 2007 6:27 pm

Christmas in the ashram

 

Last Christmas was my first one that I didn't spend. At least in Europe it's easily the most important holiday/family get-together and you are certainly considered weird or unfortunate if you don't celebrate it.

 

Our Christmas started at 8:30 AM when Dave pulled up his truck with 60 bails of straw and hay in the truckbed. It took us more than two hours to get it in the barn. I guess at this point the straw could have acted as an uddipana for my meditation on the barn where Jesus was born, surrounded by the cattle and sages, but what I was meditating on was getting the bails in before the rain that was just about to start, and keeping an eye on Bhumi who was determined to block our way and get to the hay.

 

My mom called in the evening Finnish time (=mid-day in California) after they had eaten and opened their presents (in Europe you do all that on the 24th). I talked to my whole family and they were in the midst of playing boardgames and getting drunk. I admittedly felt like worlds (or should I say continents) apart.

 

My Christmas eve ended with a real yogi-feast: Nama-srestam cooked popcorn for the two of us.

 

 

Again I had that feeling of how interesting it is to see your "own" culture and attachments from a distance. To see it for what it is. I used to somehow assume that the whole world would stop from rotating around the sun on Christmas, but there are plenty of people for who Christmas is just another Weekend, and I have become one of those aliens.

Syamasundara - January 9, 2007 6:44 pm

I usually notice the contrast between us, who on holy days become even more theocentric, making gifts to God and crying jaya Krsna, jaya Radhe, jaya Gauranga to one another, and the Westerners who give presents to one another and wish each other to be enjoyers of those days, Merry Christmas, etc.

 

Then again, our societly is very priestly in nature (even those of us who are married and have a job), not exactly Vedic. In Vedic society it was also customary to make gifts to brahmanas or do charity on festivities, like Nanda maharaja did.

Jason - January 12, 2007 8:17 pm
Christmas in the ashramI guess at this point the straw could have acted as an uddipana for my meditation on the barn where Jesus was born, surrounded by the cattle and sages...

 

This is a really nice meditation Gurunistha, much appreciated. I agree, that for many (my wife and myslef included), it's just another weekend. I welcome the time off work, for sure. BTW...I love your writing.

Madhavendra Puri Dasa - January 12, 2007 11:08 pm

Maybe I am litlle bit sentimental, or in Poland it looks somhow different, but I really apreciate Christmas day. When I was younger, living with my parents and rest of my family this day meant for us religius event. It was only time we prayed together, my mother used to lead different prayers, then we sang christmas songs, which in Poland basicly means songs about Jesus, and devotion to him. Then when I became devotee, I of course cut myself off completely, thinking to be above all that, being brahmacari, finally free from all this ilusion , but after some years I realised that for my family and for me as well it was one of the very few God councieuss days in their (and mine) daily life. And therefore I stared to celebrate this with them again, and even when I am apart from them I still do it with my wife. Just to catch this special flavor :D

Still I understand and remember how nice it was to spend this time with devotees, in the temple, thinking about Krsna and being greatfull for bringing me step closer to Him.

Guru-nistha Das - January 14, 2007 6:41 pm
Maybe I am litlle bit sentimental, or in Poland it looks somhow different, but I really apreciate Christmas day. When I was younger, living with my parents and rest of my family this day meant for us religius event. It was only time we prayed together, my mother used to lead different prayers, then we sang christmas songs, which in Poland basicly means songs about Jesus, and devotion to him. Then when I became devotee, I of course cut myself off completely, thinking to be above all that, being brahmacari, finally free from all this ilusion , but after some years I realised that for my family and for me as well it was one of the very few God councieuss days in their (and mine) daily life. And therefore I stared to celebrate this with them again, and even when I am apart from them I still do it with my wife. Just to catch this special flavor :D

Still I understand and remember how nice it was to spend this time with devotees, in the temple, thinking about Krsna and being greatfull for bringing me step closer to Him.

 

 

My intetion was not to lay any Holier than Thou-trips on people who celebrate Christmas and indeed in the western world it is probably one of the most pious days of the year. I was making the point in connection to my own attachements and a material sense of self that I'm trying to learn out of. All the sentiments that I have for Christmas are based on material considerations, so it's natural that I'm distancing myself from that.

 

If you think I'm being fanatical or unbalanced, well, that's okay because I like my life like this. :Applause:

Babhru Das - January 14, 2007 9:41 pm

I think that monks and householders will have different responses to things such as Christmas holidays. I remember that when I was a brahmachari (and, yes, I can remember back that far!), Christmas was simply another day for service. However, when I had kids, it seemed inappropriate to ignore it altogether, especially since it became an opportunity for my kids and my other family members to get to know each other. Christmas became a big family occasion, and while we lived in California, going to my mom's house for Christmas became a tradition. And my daughters got to know my aunts, uncles, and cousins pretty well. And they all got to know the four of us pretty well, both as people and as devotees.

 

If I hadn't married, though, I would never have made a big thing of Christmas and would have simply visited my family whenever it was convenient, or maybe when there was a special occasion. And I'm happy to see that we have both of these attitudes among us. I think both the householders and monks enrich their own lives, and each others', by associating the way we do here and sharing the different perspectives.

Madhavendra Puri Dasa - January 14, 2007 9:48 pm
If you think I'm being fanatical or unbalanced, well, that's okay because I like my life like this. :D

For God sake NO! Sorry that you got it like this. I dont think that you are fanatical at all, rather from what I see from your post you are deep and open person. I just thought I will share here my view on Christmas day, without any personal pointings. Maybe it wasn´t good idea idea, because now I clearly see why you could take it personally. My fault _______O_

Guru-nistha Das - January 16, 2007 12:31 am

No hard feelings Madhavendra Prabhu :D

 

Here's a picture of our new guy tending to a scrap wood fire.

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Syamasundara - January 16, 2007 12:56 am

Uuuuuuuh those ashes are gonna be so good for that acidic soil there.... (hey, where is the drooling smiley?)

Vamsidhari Dasa - January 16, 2007 1:11 am
Here's a picture of our new guy tending to a scrap wood fire.

 

Still burning that wood :D

Its been going on since the New Year. Wow, I hope you got some chesnuts and stuff to roast.

 

By the way, Gurunistha, you are not holier then thou, you are just holier then most of us :Applause: just keep it going. :Shocked:

Eija - January 27, 2007 9:19 pm

hmmm. it was really interesting reading thin since this was very different christmas for me too. it was the first chritmas for me in 13 years without gurunistha.

i didn't take it badly that he decided not to come to finland, since i really really think that he is chosen the right path. i was funny how i had to explain to people why he isn't coming. for many people it was the weirdest thing..."but it's christmas!" i was only sad that i couln't get to make something wonderful to eat with him and not to able to talk to him about things that i wanna ask. it didn't matter that he didn't come for christmas.

and after all i realised this chrtismas that it is just a play that goes on same way every year. and i choose to play it as long as my parents live. they mean a lot to me and if being with them at christmas means a world to them, who am i to take it away from them. and by saying that, i don't mean to say between the lines that gurunistha doesn't care for his biological family! and all the meat eating and spending money on nothing really makes me sick! i hope i could spent my christmases at audarya too. or any other days.

but i'm only taking my first steps on that road. slowly.

Citta Hari Dasa - February 1, 2007 6:41 pm
but i'm only taking my first steps on that road. slowly.

 

:Ying Yang: "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." :Ying Yang:

 

To just keep on the road, even slowly, is a great thing!

Guru-nistha Das - March 8, 2007 6:03 pm

Just a quickie,

things are taking giant leaps again at Audarya.

The Gaura Purnima weekend was so special, that Guru Maharaja wanted us to start a marathon on the temple again. So we started putting up house wrap, plywood on the innerwalls and cutting out windows.

Guru Maharja said one morning after the festival that Gaura-Nitai are ready to move to the new temple. So our job is to get it done as soon as possible.

 

We have a devotee called Rasika Shekar from Australia here for a few months. He's a sculpturor and is going to help us out with pavers and a lot of other things that would be very expensive to buy.

 

Syama Gopal (our freelance brahmacari, as he calls himself) is doing good too. I'm teaching him how to cook and make offerings and he's a really fast learner. The call him "the Sponge" at work because he absorbs knowledge so easily.

 

In the beginning of the next month we will have Ian from Canada come spend some time here and take a peak into monks' life and see if he might become one.

 

Another devotee from Europe is trying to get his visa as soon as possible and come and try to live here.

 

We'll need a monk waiting list soon! So if you're interested, start sending your applications :blush:

 

So things are really happening right now. The prospect of getting Audarya established the way Guru Maharaja wants it is so enthusing.

Competent and dedicated people are essential for our mission to blossom and since more people are coming forward, now is the time to put all of our effort into this.

 

Over and out. Pics later.

Jananivasdas - March 9, 2007 12:04 pm

"Syama Gopal (our freelance brahmacari, as he calls himself)" HAHAHAHA!!! :blush:

Syamasundara - March 10, 2007 12:14 am
Another devotee from Europe is trying to get his visa as soon as possible and come and try to live here.

 

I see, you are already thinking and talking like an American... :Big Grin: I know it's ultimately irrelevant as long as he arrives at Audarya, but Europe contains quite a few countries, languages, cultures and subcultures. :Peace:

Where is he from? Poland or Portugal? Iceland or Greece?

Shyam Gopal Das - March 10, 2007 12:48 am

I think that is the case. Gurunistha didn't want to reveal this devotee;s name yet unless the devotee him or herself chooses so.

Syamasundara - March 10, 2007 10:08 am

You mean origin? He must be from Liechtenstein then :Big Grin:

Shyam Gopal Das - March 12, 2007 10:48 pm

To help you visualize the construction going on here, I present to you a few pictures.

 

419300733_7781989af0_m.jpg419300640_7906b8f0ed_m.jpg

 

419300845_24f9b29599_m.jpg419301375_eeb5806b72_m.jpg

 

For more, have a look at my photostream at flickr.com

Syamasundara - March 13, 2007 2:33 am

Yesss, that's the kind of exhaustiveness I like. Nice pictures, when is the temple expected to be ready? Say late may so I'll be there. For a moment I thought Citta Hari got his workshop but it's more like a tool and storage shed, now that there are more devotees in the yurts and more cows in the shed.

Rama-Govinda Dasa - March 13, 2007 4:39 pm

lool great pictures .I hope so that i will be there soon.Everything looks emazing. :Big Grin:

Bijaya Kumara Das - March 16, 2007 5:21 am

For more, have a look at my photostream at flickr.com


ah some pics

 

keep them coming

Shyam Gopal Das - March 27, 2007 12:13 am

After all the written entries on daily life at Audarya, we also wanted to give a visual experience of it.

Even though the quality is not superb, we do hope that the following video will be pleasing to the eye.

 

Gaurangi-priya Devi - March 27, 2007 12:35 am
After all the written entries on daily life at Audarya, we also wanted to give a visual experience of it.

Even though the quality is not superb, we do hope that the following video will be pleasing to the eye.

 

 

 

Wow, thank you, thank you, thank you.....for posting that and for all of you building. What special service!

Babhru Das - March 27, 2007 12:48 am

I logged on just to call attention to your latest blog entry, but I see you've already done so. It's really wonderful, and I hope everyone will take a look at this video clip.

Madangopal - March 27, 2007 1:11 am

Oh I miss you all so much! In my mind I'm asking Citta hari what I should do next, or sawz-alling with Guru Nistha. I'd love to meet you Shyam Gopal and bond over nail gunning! :Big Grin: Then those kirtans at the end of the day of hard work. What a life... Thanks for that video.

Prema-bhakti Marga - March 27, 2007 3:07 am

Sweeeet! Thanks Shyam Gopala. Can't wait to see you all again.

Vamsidhari Dasa - March 28, 2007 11:40 pm

THANKS FOR POSTING THESE IMAGES THAT WARM THE HEART AS MUCH AS THEY FILL ME WITH SEPARATION. HOPE TO BE THERE SOON.

Sridama Dasa - March 30, 2007 8:23 pm

That video is wonderful!

It reminds me how badly I want to go back to Audarya...and makes me wonder what in the world I'm doing sitting at this desk in this office :Sigh:

Rama-Govinda Dasa - March 31, 2007 2:11 pm

For me this is emazing that those boys(devotes) can know a lot of about build the building and all this staff.I have no idea about painting correctly and they do so many things. They have really talent!!! :Sigh:

Jananivasdas - April 12, 2007 12:54 pm

shyam-gopal and nail gun?!?! :Confused:

Syamasundara - April 27, 2007 11:37 pm

I managed to arrive safe and sound at Audarya. I still don't know if I have low or high blood pressure, but I am definitely much better than the past days, only my heart gets pounding so easily (any doctor in the house?).

 

Gaura Nitai are very beautiful with the parrot outfit, I've already bathed the cows with GM, Vrndaranya and Gaurangi priya (no pics, they caught me by surprise).

We are also cleaning up the new temple to have the program in it, which is starting tomorrow night with the deities already in place.

I got to know Damodara, Prasada, Sridhama among the calves, and also Ian Laycock, Namasrestha, and Syama-gopala.

Audarya-lila is coming one day before. It's so nice to hear of so many devotees coming, I can't but remember the bengali party headed by Nityananda Prabhu every year to meet Mahaprabhu for the Ratha Yatra, and the anticipation on both sides.

This year I'll try to be ready for the shock of them leaving, hoping they won't all at once like last year.

The weather is just fine, and this morning we read the story of Haridas Thakura's beating in Caitanya Bhagavata, as a parallel to Prahlada's life.

And the day is not even over yet.

Syamasundara - April 28, 2007 4:32 am

Gaura arati is the best, because it comes after a day of service, and the holy names come out on their own with the help of a bit of music. Then again, mangala arati is also very nice, because everything is imbued with sattva at that time, but the mind may not care about the guna of brahma muhurta and may prefer tamas some mornings, whereas nobody could be sleeping in during gaura arati.

As always, I'm so proud of my godbrothers and sisters; it's a miracle that we can gather all here for the sole purpose of glorifying the Lord, when everything in this world pushes and pulls us in the opposite direction.

Then GM came down and read from Caitanya Bhagavatam some more, it was more of a talk than a reading, with many nice points touched upon, like the passing away of Haridasa Thakura, and many other stories. He said that now thirst for revenge is so rampant among the devotees, they want to take others to court, and he wondered if any of them are reading our scripture. Even if they do read about Narasimha lila, they take it as an impetus to go out and kill all those demons out there, whereas what we should make treasure of is the life and character of Prahlada, who bore with all those tortures, asked for no revenge, and upon being offered a boon, he wished for the well being of his father.

Another point was about tolerance, that naturally gives rise to compassion and other qualities, and he of course talked about the tree as mentioned in Siksastaka 3. The interesting thing is that today they were actually logging nearby, and GM said it pained his heart to hear the crack of the trees falling. Apart from his main point, that comforted me, because now I feel like less of a freak when I feel sorry for eating my soy sprouts that I have grown for days.

 

OK it's way too late for today.

Bijaya Kumara Das - April 28, 2007 4:53 am
feel sorry for eating my soy sprouts that I have grown for days.

 

sprouts are vegetables until the leaf out, no need for feeling sorry.

Syamasundara - April 30, 2007 4:52 pm

Wow, time has flied.

Life is so intense here that every detail would be worth reporting...

Gaurangi and I are struggling to get to hammer even so much as one nail into the new temple building, but the chance hasn't arisen, the works stopped temporarily to clean out and decorate the temple room for the festival.

GM wanted a South Indian feast, both because Narasimha appeared in the South, and because prior to the festival they were reading the Caitanya Bhagavata, where Mahaprabhu visited a Narasimha temple while touring the south.

Gaurangi-priya, CH and I were decorating the temple when Gaurangi had the idea of using those strung mango leaves that are seen everywhere there, only, we had tan oak leaves, and I decided to make rangavallis on the floor, since for now it's plywood.

Meanwhile all kinds of devotees kept coming: Hari Bhakti and Scott, Vamsi and Omar, Guruseva. Audarya lila got out of the car and jumped into the bath house to clean it; I felt a little bad, because when I arrived here it was so late all I could do was sleep.

 

The quality of the talks was like condensing milk. GM started to talk about the importance of Haridas Thakur, with parallels with Prahlada, and his catalytic position in the whole lila. Then we had one on Sunday morning at mangala arati, one at ten, when we took Gaura Nitai and Narahari down to the new altar, and one after the abhisekha that was at 3:30p.

Vamsi's friend Omar has a past with Buddhism and Ramakrsna. After the second talk, that ended with the noon arati, since there was no prasada, the talk practically went on informally on the deck, where Omar functioned as the Pariksit of the situation and caused GM to talk until one hour before the evening talk!

That talk was about buddhism, jñana, and bhagavata philosophy. I had never realized how selfish the jñana marga is.

The last talk was finally about the lila of Narasimha, but taken from Jaya and Vijaya. All the talks were just superlative. Even while speaking generically he seemed to be talking to each and everyone about them and for them. At least I feel that way.

GM was commenting on how much Narayana sleeps; he practically only eats, receives all the offerings of his devotees, purusa sukta and everything and then he goes to sleep. And he does because his devotees want nothing from him, but they are just content with what he does. God wants to eat, let's feed him, he wants to sleep, let him rest and nobody disturb him. But that kind of automatism is exactly what makes Narayana so lethargic and uninterested, no one will ever ask him there, Why do you want to sleep so much?

This was the best moment of all talks to me, becase then GM said: "But Krsna never sleeps!" and he went on to say what happens when Yasoda kisses him good night. The constrast was so strong with the rest of the previous talks. Agni was listening and smiling maliciously, Gaurangi was smiling in anticipation of what he was about to narrate, so was Dhiralalita, my heart felt like a little rabbit and I couldn't stop moving. He was talking about our Krsna! It felt like all those present in the temple were Krsna's accomplices in something his own mother was not aware of, and something he is so fond of.

Anyway, you had to be there.

Then we had gaura arati and feast.

A big praise to all those who cooked and organized everything so nicely.

 

This morning Sri Krsna Caitanya met with Ramananda Raya, and they embraced to the amazement of the brahmanas who saw the scene.

During the breakfast offering we were all in the temple room finishing our rounds and Vamsi's friend was sitting right there, watching the whole thing. I felt a little awkward for the deities. It was then that Gurunistha asked me to chant arunodaya kirtana. I thought it was a customary thing, but it turned out to be an extemporaneous kirtan, and everybody was so into it. Gotta love it. Too bad I wasn't expecting it, I was parched as usual and my voice was kranky. Also, I was distracted thinking, "Am I making it too long? What should come next? How do they usually sing it before breakfast?" If there is something I can't stand it's when a kirtana has to stop because the arati is over, prasadam is next or just because it will be too late. Kirtans should only begin.

Anyway, it was nice. People are so spontaneously doing the right thing here, it's amazing. People fighting over service, it's like Vrndavana, and we're still full of anarthas and attachments. Just imagine our prospect. Good guidance is everything.

 

By the way. Gotta go stain the fence.

Guru-nistha Das - May 1, 2007 12:22 am
Kirtans should only begin.

 

 

:Applause: :Applause: :Applause:

Prema-bhakti Marga - May 1, 2007 10:25 pm

Thank you to Guru Nistha aka TC for organizing such a wonderful Narasingha Caturdasi celebration in service to our beloved Gurudeva.

 

:Applause::Applause::Applause::Applause:

Syamasundara - May 2, 2007 4:41 am

Wow, quite a day today.

This morning we read about the meeting of Sri Caitanya and Ramananda Raya, but from the Cc.

Then Gaura Nitai changed into another outfit that enchants the whole world (bhuvana mohana vesa). I took advantage of that to take some measurements of their Lordships as far as clothes and jewels.

I was a little hesitant to do such a thing, because the Lord is aprameya (unmeasurable), but you know, for service the gopis were ready to step on Krsna's head and go to hell.

Boy, it was everything but offensive, I felt like the personal taylor of two very important persons, and everybody participated. Then the deities got dressed, but I kept thinking of measurements I forgot to take, so I kept getting up, measuring, and updating, until I realized why the Lord is unmeasurable... it never ended!

After breakfast GM had us all go to the new temple room, as during the last festival he noticed how bad the acoustics were, so we tried to see where the problem was, and correct it before it's all built, with the result that we had a lot of kirtans, with instruments, without, with 3 people, with the doors closed, in the center, off the center, on the altar, so much kirtana, which was a good way, albeit indirect, to celebrate the appearance day of Sri Radharamana. And that wasn't even the end of it. GM didn't come down tonight, so we had more bhajans.

The rest of the breath was engaged in talking. At lunch we talked about veganism, aspartame, multiple sclerosis, Purudas, Prabhupada's kartalas, and varnashrama dharma. The last point went on while working in the temple, whereas a few minutes ago we had a Gita discussion, where Gurunistha would read and everybody would chime in if needed. GM has been giving clear signs for quite sometime that we should do as if he was already gone, and see how much we can stand on our little devotional legs, so I was very pleased to see that we could all participate and nobody said anything that fell short. Again, I'm so proud of everybody here.

 

Pics of these days should be coming soon.

Jason - May 2, 2007 1:12 pm
during the last festival he noticed how bad the acoustics were, so we tried to see where the problem was, and correct it before it's all built

 

On Sunday, I noticed GM standing to the back of the new temple room and looking up curiously during the kirtan before prasadam? I thought that's what he may have been concerned with. I noticed it too. Any ideas why the acoustics were not so good? Having spent some time in recording studios and practice spaces over the years, I'd be curious to know what the outcome was.

Nitai Joseph - May 2, 2007 11:38 pm

Well. I've made it to Audarya. I got here on saturday, the first of two day festival of Nrsimha Caturdasi as Shyamasundar described above^. I was in quite a daze, maybe still am. It felt like an alternate reality, maybe still does :Applause: . It's been quite intense, but nice. On my way up the windy mountain road I was having flashbacks to last summer when I survived only 3 days on a farm I wanted to intern at. When I arrived with Nanda-Tanuja, it was so surreal, 24 hours ago I had been looking at pictures and now I was walking there, I felt like I jumped through the computer screen. I got here at the end of Sundara-arati. Then there was a talk, which Im embarrased to say I don't think I remember, because I was kind of emotional on the inside. The next day was the main part of the festival, I didn't do too much that day just kind of wandered around in my reality warp, helping a little here and there; made fasting easy. Then on monday I put up dry-wall and helped dig a trench, which I am still sore from, but today I can at least bend over to serve prasad. Yesterday I did dishes and helped cook with Gaurangi-priya, then more drywall. Today I did dishes after breakfast, helped cook with Guru-nishta, and did lunch dishes, then I picked strawberries. Now I am trying to describe a lecture but experiencing some difficulty with the link and waiting for Nanda Tanuja to get back to me. Before I came when I was corresponding with Swami, he said at one point that my lifestyle leaves me with to much time on my hands...I didn't exactly know how much time he was planning on relieving me from, :Applause: but I know it's for my benefit. :Applause: Everyone is so kind, I'm not the most physically fit body around, and already they are engaging me according to my abilities and doing everything to ensure I dont burn out. I think the plan is for me to stat cooking alone eventually, which is extremely exciting and nerve-racking :Applause: . I've never cooked for people who I want to please so much. I'm sure it will test and expand my abilities. Well that's all for now. I feel like almost everyone who reads this was here on the weekend anyway, but for those that werent.

 

P.S. Definitely still surreal

 

P.P.S.S I just re-read all this^ it seems like I'm on speed, If I was speaking that I don't know if I would have taken a breath.

Madan Gopal Das - May 3, 2007 12:35 am

Congrats Nitai! You are in good hands. Take it easy, and make sure to spend some time with the cows. They will bring you down to earth, ground you if you need it.

Nanda-tanuja Dasa - May 3, 2007 6:11 am
Now I am trying to describe a lecture but experiencing some difficulty with the link and waiting for Nanda Tanuja to get back to me.

Did you get my email?

Guru-nistha Das - May 3, 2007 10:47 pm

An update from the woods:

 

Things seem to really be going forward. We have eight people living here now (although Shyamgopal won't unfortunately stay for good), and that is actually the maximum amount of residents Guru Maharaja wants to have here. Probably in this month, another person is coming from beyond the Atlantic to check out Audarya and maybe pursue monasticism, and a couple of Polish devotees have plans to move close by as well. In addition, Agnideva is going to retire within two years and move to Audarya! Things seem to be getting on a new level. For the two first years I lived here, Gauravani and myself were the only ones who came here and now all of a sudden we have to start putting people on a waiting list.

 

Things get done a lot faster now and we can do a lot more as well. Vrinda is doing a great job with the gardens, she's been planting and getting the beds ready for the summer; Citta Hari and Ian are working in the temple, all the drywall is up and now Citta Hari is building pockets for the sliding doors and Ian is mudding the seems and holes in the sheet rock; Nama-shrestam is editing all the four CDs, duplicating them, stomping them and sending them out; Nitai is getting used to the Audarya kitchen and since he loves cooking and has experience of it, he will start cooking for Gaura-Nityananda at least three times a week; Shyam Gopal is working long hours with the webstore, the last unfinished part of the new website; I'm running around, cracking the whip and keeping people engaged, since Guru Maharaja assigned me to be the temple manager a couple of months ago.

 

I'm already excited to think how Audarya will be when we get all of our people trained up, have Agni here and have the temple open. Watch out, world!

Nanda-tanuja Dasa - May 4, 2007 1:47 am

Time to build some more yurts! :Applause:

Prema-bhakti - May 4, 2007 2:23 pm
Time to build some more yurts! :Applause:

 

I think it will be time to build cabins for CH and GN. :Applause:

Prema-bhakti - May 4, 2007 5:53 pm
Nitai is getting used to the Audarya kitchen and since he loves cooking and has experience of it, he will start cooking for Gaura-Nityananda at least three times a week;

 

This Narasimha Caturdasi festival was particularly sweet for me as it was the anniversary of my coming to Audarya last year and connecting with GM personally. I also had a reunion with Gaurangi Priya and Nitai. The last time I saw them was at a Gita Nagari Institute for Higher Education that I was managing and Nitai was about two years old and Gaurangi was about eleven or twelve running around babysitting him for a few dollars so his mother could take a class. Not only did I feel terribly old :Applause: but warm and fuzzy inside that we were all back together under GM's shelter. :Applause:

Syamasundara - May 4, 2007 10:31 pm
On Sunday, I noticed GM standing to the back of the new temple room and looking up curiously during the kirtan before prasadam?

 

You were there?

Nitai Joseph - May 5, 2007 3:58 am
Nitai was about two years old and Gaurangi was about eleven or twelve running around babysitting him for a few dollars so his mother could take a class.

 

I was just informed of this today :Applause: ...sounds like my mom, and me for that matter

Bijaya Kumara Das - May 5, 2007 6:18 am
I think it will be time to build cabins for CH and GN. :Applause:

 

we also need a place for Prabhupada samadhi

Bijaya Kumara Das - May 5, 2007 6:19 am
I think it will be time to build cabins for CH and GN. :Applause:

 

we also need a place for Prabhupada samadhi

Bijaya Kumara Das - May 5, 2007 6:19 am
I think it will be time to build cabins for CH and GN. :Applause:

 

we also need a place for Prabhupada samadhi

Prema-bhakti - May 5, 2007 6:08 pm
I think it will be time to build cabins for CH and GN. :)

 

 

I was just saying that if we eventually have cabins for permanent residents then we will have more guest yurts. :)

Jason - May 6, 2007 1:28 am
You were there?

 

My wife and I were there just for the evening class, kirtans and prasadam. I really wanted to chat more, but....well, anyway. I saw you. I'm not a big "crowd" sort of person. I tend to hide out in the back.

Nitai Joseph - May 6, 2007 3:39 am

Wow, it just gets better and better around here. Every night Swami has been giving talks on the Ramananda Samvad, I think it's going to be a series out on the Cds eventually. I've heard he doesnt usually give a talk everyday so this is some special mercy. I feel like so much of what he says is directed directly at me, like he's giving these talks just for me. I know I don't have the faith and sincerity to draw him to give a talk, so it must be some more undeserved mercy, but still feels like they are for me. Now putting into practice, we'll see about that.... Today he also spoke to me by myself for a while, it was such condensed nectar that I walk away in a haze wanting to remember every nuanced point he made. Even though I'm not even situated here yet I feel like I'm taking it all for granted, I don't grasp the magnitude of the opportunity for progress that is now available to me. I was previously in an environment that didn't foster fault-finding, but certainly provided enough opportunities for it. So now it seems like intellectual-analysis-fault-finding-aparadhi mind has followed me here, but I can see it will be purified with time and effort. Thats all for now.

Audarya ki-jaya!

Nitai Joseph - May 10, 2007 12:49 am

Today was nice (and I haven't even heard the talk on Ramananda Samvada, that will be later.) I cooked lunch by myself for the first time, but I didn't have so much to make because we had some delicious bread Vrindaranya had made. After breakfast while I was cleaning the temple room Swami gave me some powerful insights, not that I have them, but I see the huge potential. He told me how cooking for Mahaprabhu is such an important service. He said how everyone wanted to get to feed Mahaprabhu, so many people inviting him for lunch. He said how people really want to be fed. First thing I realized is how his vision of deity Mahaprabhu is non-different then the Mahaprabhu who was invited to eat so many places. Then secondly how in the world am I being given the opportunity to cook for the most magnanimous Lord?, it can only be Swami's mercy. This helped me to think a little more about whom i was cooking for while I cooked.

Swami - May 10, 2007 2:16 pm
He told me how cooking for Mahaprabhu is such an important service. He said how everyone wanted to get to feed Mahaprabhu, so many people inviting him for lunch. He said how people really want to be fed. First thing I realized is how his vision of deity Mahaprabhu is non-different then the Mahaprabhu who was invited to eat so many places. Then secondly how in the world am I being given the opportunity to cook for the most magnanimous Lord?, it can only be Swami's mercy. This helped me to think a little more about whom i was cooking for while I cooked.

 

 

Indeed, the cook book is the highest sastra of all. When I see my students studying a cook book I know they have realized something.

Guru-nistha Das - May 10, 2007 3:46 pm
Indeed, the cook book is the highest sastra of all. When I see my students studying a cook book I know they have realized something.

 

Hehe.. I'm convinced that Nitai will become a shastra sunipuna in this regard.

Guru-nistha Das - May 19, 2007 10:15 pm

This morning after Mangala arati when Ian and I were milking Raga, Guru Maharaja came out with an edition of Krsna das Kaviraja's Govinda Lilamrta in his hand. He leaned on the side of the milking shed and started reading to us about Krsna's morning, how Purnamasi and Yasoda wake him up, tie his hair, wash his eyes, and how Krsna goes out to the courtyard where all the sakhas are waiting for him. Madhumangala makes allegorical jokes about how the night is turning into a day while he walks hand in hand with Krsna towards the barns. Krsna looks like a black bumblebee surrounded by white lotuses when the bright cows gather around him with their necks stretched up, and Krsna milks a couple of surabis by holding the milk bucket between his knees, and lets the sakhas milk the rest of the cows. Guru Maharaja ended the reading by saying, "that's what Krsna does this time of the day" and walked away.

 

It's great to be reminded that a sadhakas life is not only getting rid of things, or anartha-nivritti, but positive attainment, artha pravritti, as well. :Shocked:

Madan Gopal Das - May 19, 2007 10:35 pm
Guru Maharaja came out with an edition of Krsna das Kaviraja's Govinda Lilamrta in his hand. He leaned on the side of the milking shed and started reading to us about Krsna's morning

My god, I'm burning with envy. Can life get any better than this??? I'll answer that - NO!, it really doesn't. We're talking summum bonum here. Thanks for sharing, so I can be there in spirit.

 

How's Nitai's cookbook sastra caksus going?

Syamasundara - May 19, 2007 11:36 pm

WOW... I surprised myself reading... every... word... very... slowly... and with dreamy eyes. Who needs drugs when reality is so beautiful?

Bijaya Kumara Das - May 20, 2007 6:25 am
This morning after Mangala arati when Ian and I were milking Raga, Guru Maharaja came out with an edition of Krsna das Kaviraja's Govinda Lilamrta in his hand. He leaned on the side of the milking shed and started reading to us about Krsna's morning, how Purnamasi and Yasoda wake him up, tie his hair, wash his eyes, and how Krsna goes out to the courtyard where all the sakhas are waiting for him. Madhumangala makes allegorical jokes about how the night is turning into a day while he walks hand in hand with Krsna towards the barns. Krsna looks like a black bumblebee surrounded by white lotuses when the bright cows gather around him with their necks stretched up, and Krsna milks a couple of surabis by holding the milk bucket between his knees, and lets the sakhas milk the rest of the cows. Guru Maharaja ended the reading by saying, "that's what Krsna does this time of the day" and walked away.

 

It's great to be reminded that a sadhakas life is not only getting rid of things, or anartha-nivritti, but positive attainment, artha pravritti, as well. :Shocked:

 

Oh how nice to have the days of milking for you. I am jealous and continue to hope for the day when I can again have what you have discribed here.

Guru-nistha Das - May 22, 2007 3:13 am
My god, I'm burning with envy. Can life get any better than this??? I'll answer that - NO!, it really doesn't. We're talking summum bonum here. Thanks for sharing, so I can be there in spirit.

 

How's Nitai's cookbook sastra caksus going?

 

We'll make you milk Raga when you come here this fall, Madan!

 

Nitai is studying. He made a carrot cake the other day and Guru Maharaja's judgment was that it was the best carrot cake he had ever had.

An interesting point came out the other day. Guru Maharaja had mentioned about cooking personally to Gauranga and then Nitai asked on one lunch about how to think about the fact that we cook more than for one person, that we count the devotees and it seems like we are cooking for them, and Guru Mahraja said that we should think about it as if Gauranga had invited guests. That was nice, I'd never thought about it like that.

 

We have a ton of strawberries in our garden, so if anybody has any good strawberry dish recipes, feel free to post them up.

 

As Nitai briefly mentioned, Guru Maharaja has been giving these incredible talks on Ramananda Samvada and they are all on tape (except for the first talk...) and will be released as a MP3 series(possibly two discs... a lot of talks). That's definitely something to look forward to if you want to have a clear conception of the spiritual hierarchy from karma-marga to the highest reach of Vraja-bhakti and gain more appreciation what incredible path we are involved in. Guru Maharaja has been considering writing a new book about the subject as well, but there's a lot going on so I doubt it's going to be something to be waiting for in the near future.

Shyam Gopal Das - May 22, 2007 3:24 am

Gurunistha, INSERT plug for new webstore: "Of course the lectures will also be available in the new webstore."

Syamasundara - May 22, 2007 3:33 am
We have a ton of strawberries in our garden, so if anybody has any good strawberry dish recipes, feel free to post them up.

 

GM once liked a lot Gloria's Glorious Raspberry (or Lemon Raspberry?) muffins that I had made with strawberries.

 

Luckily, strawberries are already delicious marinated with sugar and lemon juice, with whipped cream, mmmmm.

Gaurangi-priya Devi - May 27, 2007 6:57 pm
We have a ton of strawberries in our garden, so if anybody has any good strawberry dish recipes, feel free to post them up.

 

I recently made a really simple strawberry syrup/jam and canned it. It's a nice way to have strawberries later on.

Syamasundara - May 27, 2007 7:58 pm

And dried in granola? Mmmmmm......

Guru-nistha Das - May 28, 2007 10:53 pm

It is interesting how inspiration to do something comes to a sadhu. About a week ago Guru Maharaja told us that he's been looking for land and reading about Costa Rica from the internet. He thought it would be a great place for a monastery/retreat center for our mission. Vrindaranya and Shyam Gopal started doing some research as well and the more info they got, the better it sounded: great climate, one of the top places to invest in the world right now, cheap, easy to fly to from the US, not much corruption compared to other central/south american countries, ecologically very aware, beautiful nature... Guru Maharaja also contacted Ragunatha, a Danurdhar Swami disciple who's a yoga instructor and had a retreat center in Costa Rica once and he wanted to help out and bring his students to CR if we had a place there.

 

One idea was that we'd buy subdividable land and sell devotees acre-size plots where they could build their own huts and come for a vacation when GM comes to town (or otherwise too, of course) and then we'd have a separate temple building and monks' dwellings.

 

So last Saturday Guru Maharaja, Vrindaranya and Shyam Gopal flew to Costa Rica to go see properties. There seem to be more and more people wanting to come to Audarya, so CR could be another base for GM's disciples who want to live monastic life. Guru Maharaja is really excited about the prospect and was saying that he would like to spend a few months there every year if it happens. Let's see how it manifests!

Guru-nistha Das - May 28, 2007 10:58 pm

p.s. check shyam Gopal's flickr page for pics of the metal roof going up!

 

http://www.flickr.com/photos/syamagopaladas

Nanda-tanuja Dasa - May 28, 2007 11:04 pm

Speaking of properties, how is Vrindavan project moving?

Syamasundara - May 29, 2007 2:42 am

Hehe people in Eugene would think that having cows was an out there idea, but this Costa Rica one is by far even more so. Sure I'll get a plot in Costa Rica, I already speak.... costarican :rolleyes: :Big Grin: :D

Just not in the immediate future, but it might be nice. GM, need a simultaneous translator?

 

Men, gorgeous pictures, this forum is becoming a treasure chest. What's funny is that those who haven't been to Audarya may think that all those redwood shots are from there. I particularly loved the pics of the videocamera and the books in Russian. Who are the two people with the Beagles? Oh, I loooove the shingles in the central part of the roof.

Babhru Das - May 29, 2007 5:19 am

Boy, I'm really excited about this, too. But not a can't-sleep-at-night excitement. More of a sleeping-better-at-night excitement because I see a future. This is so cool!

Bhrigu - May 29, 2007 9:20 am

This sounds interesting, but I'm also curious to know how the Vrindavan plans are progressing. Has Guru Maharaja already bought the property?

Guru-nistha Das - May 29, 2007 8:30 pm

I haven't talked about the Vrindavan project with Guru Maharaja in a while, but the last I heard a foundation was being established in India, through which we could make the payment and the Radha-Damodhara goswamis are happy with the way things are progressing.

 

No need to be worried that the Costa Rica project would interfere with the Vrindavana project. Guru Maharaja may be spontaneous but obviously he's not dumb :D

Vamsidhari Dasa - May 30, 2007 12:07 am

We sohlud all definitelly move to Costa Rica. I already have a staw plantation hat nad packing my bags as we speak. Looking forward to GM's return and stories. I m very excited about it.

Babhru Das - May 30, 2007 12:19 am

When I spoke with Maharaja about the Costa Rica project last week, he made it clear that it would not hamper the Vrindavan project at all, in any way. This will grow our sanga and enhance everyone's service. In its own way, this is as big (at least to me) as the Vrindavan project.

Swami - May 30, 2007 9:04 pm

hola. todo esta bein aqui. esta mui bonita! mas alrato.

 

PS The Vrindavana project is proceeding as planned. As GN mentioned, we are waiting for government approval to transfer foreign funds. JHowever, we only have $500/month pledged to make the monthly payments once the down payment is made and the contract singed. So it's good that some of you brought this project up. We need about $250/month more for the next five years.

Swami - May 30, 2007 9:05 pm

hola. todo esta bein aqui. esta mui bonita! mas alrato.

 

PS The Vrindavana project is proceeding as planned. As GN mentioned, we are waiting for government approval to transfer foreign funds. JHowever, we only have $500/month pledged to make the monthly payments once the down payment is made and the contract singed. So it's good that some of you brought this project up. We need about $250/month more for the next five years.

Prema-bhakti - May 30, 2007 10:39 pm
hola. todo esta bein aqui. esta mui bonita! mas alrato.

 

Hola Guru Maharaja. Bueno oir. Esto esta excitando noticias.

 

I hope this makes sense. My spanish is muy rusty. :D

Babhru Das - May 31, 2007 2:46 am

Como se dice alrato en ingles? (Se ha vendido mi diccionario de Velasquez!)

 

Esta es de hecho buenas noticias.

 

Como utilitariamos caracteres espanoles aqui?

Prema-bhakti - May 31, 2007 4:15 am
Como se dice alrato en ingles? (Se ha vendido mi diccionario de Velasquez!)

 

It's al rato, I believe meaning later or in a while. I interpreted it as "more later". Mas al rato. I think it is more like a slang word.

Babhru Das - May 31, 2007 4:52 am

Oh--okay. Anyway, I'll stay tuned for sure.

Syamasundara - May 31, 2007 4:58 am

Oh my God you are all so cute!! :Raised Eyebrow:

 

Yes, más al rato literally means more later, not that I have ever heard any Spanish-speaking person use it, though it makes sense.

Prema-bhakti - May 31, 2007 2:28 pm
Oh my God you are all so cute!! :Raised Eyebrow:

 

Yes, más al rato literally means more later, not that I have ever heard any Spanish-speaking person use it, though it makes sense.

 

I am glad we could add some humor to your homeless plight.

Babhru Das - May 31, 2007 5:44 pm

Y yo tambien. Always happy to amuse, and happier still to add a little levity to your day.

Shyam Gopal Das - May 31, 2007 7:37 pm

these are exiting times in CR! more later :Raised Eyebrow:

Syamasundara - May 31, 2007 8:36 pm

Les agradezco mucho, but I really never lose the ability to smile or laugh. I am still up in the air here, though, checking out in the morning... Oh Lordy, give me a sign!

 

Syama Gopala, what is with these teases? We want real news, pics, souvenirs!

Syamasundara - May 31, 2007 9:31 pm

Ok I finally downloaded the pictures from my camera to my Mac, but I don't feel like resizing and uploading each one onto here. How do you make thos pages of pictures?

 

Caitanya daya? Syama gopala?

Bhrigu - June 10, 2007 2:31 pm

Any news from Costa Rica? Has Guru Maharaja and the other already returned to Audarya?

Babhru Das - June 12, 2007 6:46 am

Syamagopala has some pictures here. The first page is mostly pix of the temple with siding going up, but there are CR pix on the following pages.

Bhrigu - June 12, 2007 7:15 am

Beautiful pictures, but kind of hard to understand what went on without any text. Did they buy anything? Many of those places looked quite paradisical.

Babhru Das - June 12, 2007 7:32 am

They found a property that's selling at a ridiculously low price for the area. Maybe we'll get a report soon. We have a month to come up with the financing. I agree that some captions would be helpful, but perhaps the service doesn't provide for that.

Shyam Gopal Das - June 12, 2007 10:04 pm

The service provides for that, but currently my service doesn't. But ok a promise, I'll write smth here or on my weblog about the visit to CR soon.

Babhru Das - June 13, 2007 12:35 am

Whenever you have time. Those of us who got to participate in the conference call on Sunday got a good idea, but others are probably a little anxious to find out more.

Shyam Gopal Das - June 14, 2007 2:16 pm

here is a

with some impressions of Costa Rica.

 

I put it together in half an hour, so don't expect any fancy video editing. Credit goes to Vrindaranya who took most of the videos.

Syamasundara - June 15, 2007 5:33 pm

Swami on a horse!!

 

I just saw the pics and the vid. For some reason I was imagining it to be on the coast and sunny, maybe influenced by the name of the country. I guess there isn't much land on the coast that's not crowdy and touristy.

How tropical is it there? Did any guide tell you? Didn't GM run away from Hawaii due to the frequent rain? My mind is already thinking.... homegrown ginger to candy and ship to GN at Audarya.......

The cows in the woods look so much more like Vrndavana, as opposed to a pasture land.

Babhru Das - June 15, 2007 6:46 pm

If Maharaja was not interested in East Hawaii (meaning the eastern, or windward, side of the island of Hawaii) because of much rainfall, the area of Costa Rica he explored doesn't really compare. From what he said the other day on the conference call, that are of CR gets about 67 inches of rain annually. Here in East Hawaii we get about 130-140 inches annually. Also, when he was here, the economy was terribly depressed due to the recent death of the sugar industry. Things have picked up, but that's due to a lot of development that is hard on the environment. We have more than twice as many houses on our road as we did when we moved here six years ago.

Shyam Gopal Das - June 16, 2007 3:49 am

the area we are looking into is called Guanacaste. It is pretty dry there in the summer. One website compared the summer there to the landscape of Marin and Sonoma county, which are next door to Audarya. Golden hills... We were there in the rainy season so had ample opportunity to test the weather. The rain wasn't bad at all. The rain is not cold. And it doesn't rain all day. The clip in the video of the pouring rain misrepresents our experience quite a bit, because all the other rain we had wasn't torrential at all. :Thinking:

Costa Rica's climate is kind of reverse of California's climate. Summer here means rainy season there. and winter here means summer there.

Though july can have an indian summer and no rain.

Nitai Joseph - June 22, 2007 5:09 pm

This will be the first of hopefully more updates on the current North Carolina tour. We left on wednesday and our second flight ran a little late causing us not to get in until 2 am eastern time. Thursday morning we did'nt have a talk because of the late night, it was a little wierd for me, and more for Guru-Nishta to sit around and read and chant for a few hours, seeing as the mood in Audarya is more active seva. Lunch was nice, Guru Maharaja ate with everyone (Arcana-siddhi, Karnamrita, Gauravani, Vrindaranya, Guru-nishta, and myself) and gave a comprehensive idea of the different prospects for Costa Rica. He also spoke about Ramananda Samvada and different points of consideration for writing the book on it that Guru Maharaja has been talking about.

 

Thurs. night we had a program at Archi and Dulals house in winston. This is the fourth time they hosted Guru Maharaja and there was quite a crowd. Archi and Dulal own a store and have lots of connections with the new age scene; they also have a beautiful house great for holding lectures. The title that was chosen in advance was "Unity and Diversity". I rode there in a different car but I heard Guru Maharaja had said on the way that he was going to keep it short and simple. He spoke for 1 1/2 hours and started with "sense objects" and ended with "jaya Radhe, jaya Radhe, jaya Radhe" :LMAO:

He made alot of points that I think the crowd could relate to, like speaking about love as the only way to have simultaneous unity and diversity, but clarifying what love really is so everyone didn't just leave more infatuated with their partner. He explained how movement(lila) is the goal to orient ones practice around in such a compelling way. Throughout the talk he was speaking about reasons limitations while adressing the inherent mental question of the audience, "why are you explaining the limitations of res\asoning, WITH REASONING" During talks to new people I am always so amazed that I think "wow after this the whole room is going to like line up for initiation or something".......maybe im a little biased

 

I think people enjoyed, some bought books and gave donations. There was nice prasad and it seemed like quite a success! Aside from devotees houses we still have a talk in ashville at the yoga center and i think another one somewhere else(maybe someones house, or community center).

 

This is an interesting experience for me personally. I have lived here in NC with Karnam and arcana for a month at one point, but my purpose and mood were somewhat different then. So being here now since I havent been at audarya long enough to be fixed up in "monkhood" I kind of see this other identity appearing again. Its a little hard to explain, all I know is I wouldnt want to leave Audarya alone yet.

 

Hopefully more later.

Nitai Joseph - June 24, 2007 12:22 pm

The NC tour is going nicely. On thurs. night Guru Maharaja gave the first talk at Madan and Gaurangi's house. He was asked to speak something about the role of rules in bhakti, but instead he chose to speak about "brain-dead bhakti". There was a good crowd, probably around 30 people, some people who have been coming even live in the local ISKCON temple and even the temple president. It's been nice that so many people come and it dosen't even seem like an issue. If it weren't for the nature of the questions, one might even forget that this is "ISKCON territory".

 

Fri. morning there was a question and answer session with some mixed questions, some were clearly coming from a bad experience in another group and others were trying to understand the role of a group in spiritual life. Regardless, everything was answered expertly and the topic broadened when necessary.

 

In the afternoon Guru Maharja rested and at Guru-nishta and I's request the rest of us watched "Burnt Ladhu" It's a movie of a musical play about the Gurukuli experience. It was really well done and so intense; quite powerful.

 

We had an evening program 45 min from Madan's at a devotee named Drsta's house. Again there was a nice turnout; a few new people and devotees from different groups. Guru Maharaja was asked to speak about the Holy Name. It was a really nice talk followed by some nice questions. In the course of the questions Guru Maharaja addressed what Srila Prabhupada's bhava is and I didn't know if someone would like throw tomatoes from the back or something but I didn't hear anyone have an issue with it. The ride back was awesome to me; Guru Maharaja spoke heavily about different things and answered a few of my questions. Then when we got back everyone sat in Guru Maharaja's room and there was just informal discussion for 30 mins or so, that was nice too. Another late night.

 

Today(Sat) we probably wont have a talk in the morning and then we are planning on going on a picnic which I am excited about. Guru maharaja is planning on talking with my mother and the devotee she came with which is also exciting as I hope my mom becomes more and more involved. In the late afternoon we have a program at a crystal healing new agey house.......should be interesting. The devotee who arranged it offered Guru Maharaja a crystal necklace he could wear :LMAO: , I don't think he's planning on it.

Madan Gopal Das - June 26, 2007 1:41 am

Some pic's of Hillsborough (I set the res. on my camera too low, sorry for the fuzz):

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Taking a stroll:

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Guru Maharaj's holy hosts:

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Enthusiastic nectar collectors:

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Nitai Joseph - June 30, 2007 12:01 am

The last leg of our trip took an interesting turn. We had the program at the healing lady's house, and that went nicely, people seemed receptive. Then that night we headed back to Prabhupada Village and stayed there for the night. Mon. afternoon we headed to Asheville (a three hour drive). Our hosts in Asheville last time and this time are a couple, the man is a somewhat bitter devotee, suffering the effects of His guru's not being able to fulfill his position, and the woman is not initiated and not bitter. The man was not very welcoming at all, in fact he didn't even plan on letting Guru Maharaja have the guest room, as now they have a live-in nanny, but the wife did set GM up in the guest room after all. It was quite awkward dealing with the man, who made a few disrespectful comments here and there. Then when we all went to the yoga studio, it turns out they had been promoting the talk as TUESDAY THE 25TH. The 25th is Monday and thats the day we were there, but apparantly people pay more attention to the day then the date because there wasn't a soul there. Two women who were there for something else decided to come, but that type of crowd wasn't quite worth it. Gauravani, Karnam and I began to set up and when Guru Maharaja got there and we told him what going on he decided just to leave right away which gives us enough time to drive back to PV the same night and not have to stay with our resentful host. So back in the van we go, 3 more hours. We did get to pick upa pamphlet for a womens yoga retreat in none other then Costa Rica, reminding us of the possibilities.

 

Also noteworthy, I might have mentioned already, one devotee who has been around for a while, and has never liked any preachers but comes to hear GM in NC is inheriting land in Ashville! Long story short, GM could possibly be donated 60 acres of land right near Asheville!! look-out world.......

 

Tuesday night there was the last talk of the trip in PV. Gaurangi did a great dance to one part of the esoteric Gita-Govinda of Jayadeva Goswami. GM spoke about that for a "short" time and then fielded questions. There was a good turn-out especially considering all the politics of PV.

 

Wed., our scheduled departure day we headed to the airport to find our first flight was delayed and our second flight was cancelled, and Guru-nishtas flight to finland was scheduled only four hours after our scheduled arrival to CA. First we got him a flight that would give him one hour to get to his Finland flight after arrival in SFO. Enough time? NO. his second flight boarded on time and sat on the runway for 2 hours=missed flight to the homeland. Meanwhile we were rebooked to another airline scheduled to get in a little later the same night in SFO but when I checked a few hours before departure if I could arrange the seats so that we could sit together they said that only my ticket actually had a seat on the second leg of the flight and GM and Vrindaranya didn't, they had overbooked the flight by 16 people!!. Back to square one for us. So the next best flight was Thurs at noon. So we had Karnamrita pick us bakc up (1 hour drive each way). That night was awesome though, we watched a video of GM visiting and asking questions to Srila Sridhar Maharaja, with the occasional pause and commentary/explanation of GM, it was really sweet. So the next morning after visiting some local PV cows we went back to the airport. They almost didn't let me on because my only ID was expired, yet completely official. Luckily the manager was less of a stickler then the counter man. So after we all got frisked for our funny garb we were on our way. Meanwhile GN still didn't know his fate, the word was that he would have to buy the first half of his ticket again, which would be really expensive. He spent about 24 hours in SFO, and was there to greet us. By then he met a nice woman who told him she could rebook him and it wouldnt cost so he was on standby waiting to see what would happen. She went out of her way to help him (and find his luggage) and got him to be first on the stand-by list. When all was said and done it turns out that she's a devotee!! she had lived in a temple for 10 years. So hes safely on his way to Finland now. Meanwhile Chaitanya-daya picked us up and drove us t Vamsi's where the car was. The problem now was the key to Vamsi's was in the car, the key to the car was in Vamsi's, and Vamsi was at Audarya!haha So we called triple A they got into the car and then we got into Vamsi's and stayed the night. We got back to Audarya this afternoon.

 

The trip was great for me, it was the most intimate time I have spent with GM and the programs were nice too.

 

It's good to be back!

 

Thus ends the Nitai Gauranga dasa narration of the 2007 NC tour.

Syamasundara - June 30, 2007 7:53 am

Oh MY!

Syamasundara - July 9, 2007 6:23 am

So... who is in Finland, who is in America, and who in Costa Rica right now? We need to keep the absorption going...

Guru-nistha Das - August 5, 2007 1:08 am

So, back from the East Coast, Finland and Costa Rica, we had a couple of days to refocus before the guest would come.

 

Dhanurdhara Maharaja arrived to Audarya on this week's Tuesday with his personal assistant Rathi Krishna, Prema Bhakti and the kids and Prema's best friend Gandiva who came from Hong Kong with her daughter.

We would have a four day mini festival of lectures, prasadam and kirtans. The scene was set for a focused and very enjoyable four-day party. Guru Maharaja was reading in the evenings from the 9th chapter of CC's Madhya-lila, where Mahaprabhu begins his preaching in South India. He was explaining how Mahaprabhu came to save people from a variety of different philosophical conclusions by giving them Vrajaprema. He said that what to speak of changing people's materialistic hearts, he even changed one Rama-devotee's heart who actually had real feeling for his istadeva. Material attachment is a very superficial easily changeable thing compared to bhava, that is grounded in consciousness, and merely by his presence Mahaprabhu made the Rama-bhakta, who had been dedicated to chanting Rama nama his whole life, to constantly chant Krsna nama. Guru Maharaja was working hard to make us understand Mahaprabhu's Shakti, and how Mahaprabhu is Svayam Bhagavan, the source of all other incarnations.

My observation was, that it's really easy to just pick up these slogans like "Mahaprabhu is Svayam Bhagavan, Radha and Krishna combined etc., but how much do we really have faith in it? How much do we really think what it means, and what a great thing it is that the fountainhead of everything happened to pop above the surface of the material covering practically just before we appeared, as opposed to practically an eternity that he's not in sight? Mahaprabhu ki JAY, and then after the class I go straight to the kitchen to prey on the leftovers. Oh boy.

 

Maharaja was giving a class from the third volume of Sri Bhakti Sandarbha in the mornings while the sun was starting to hit the treetops on the opposing hillside and the atmosphere was still. Maharaja was saying that he could sit there forever, just looking at the view and appreciating the place. When Guru Maharaja joked earlier that Dhanurdhara Maharaja should stay for a month, he said that he's actually staying for the whole caturmasya. That would've been great! He is a very personable, laidback and a genuine sadhu and I very much liked his classes. He was talking about the power of kirtan and the fact that it was his favorite part of the whole Bhakti Sandarbha probably made him even more enlivened.

He was explaining how Bhakti Sandarbha deals mostly with the abhideya tattva, or the means to attain our goal and how sankirtan is the main practice in our sadhana. He also touched on Sambandha and Prayojana and showed how all of them are interconnected and dependent on each other. He also read some of his journal entries and letter he had received from his disciples. I liked how he could talk in such a light-hearted way about these grave philosophical topics. He also referred to himself as a "spirtual stand-up comedian" and the presence of prema and gandiva, who have known him for a long time, seemed to bring out that side of him even more.

Entertaining and profound.

 

I'll continue possibly tomorrow, now I've got a sundara arati to catch.

Rathi Krishna Dasa - August 6, 2007 8:01 pm

To add to Guru-nistha's post, here are some pictures of my time at Audarya dhama.

 

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Dhanurdhara Maharaja giving a morning class on Bhakti Sandarbha.

 

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Citta Hari, Namasrestha and Vrindaranya listen to Dhanurdhara Maharaja.

 

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Gandiva, Ian and Nitai in the background listen in.

 

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Citta Hari listens intently.

 

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If you have ever met my Guru Maharaja before, you know he speaks with his hands.

 

 

I found mangala arati to be a very special time at Audarya. My GM even commented that it's the mangala arati that you want to be absorbed in, not just get through.

 

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Gaura-Nitai just before mangala arati.

 

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Blurry photo of Nityananda Prabhu.

 

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Blurry photo of Mahaprabhu.

 

 

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Gaura-Nitai. I cannot tell you how much I am in love with Nityananda Prabhu.

Rathi Krishna Dasa - August 6, 2007 8:07 pm

As you can see, I am not much of a photographer, but you can get the flavor.

 

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Dhanurdhara Maharaja speaking with Vrindaranya.

 

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Tripurari Maharaja giving an evening class on the Caitanya-caritamrta.

 

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Tripurari Maharaja making a point.

 

 

I really enjoyed my time at Audarya and hope that I did not put anyone out too much. I hope that someday I will be allowed back.

Swami - August 6, 2007 8:39 pm
Gaura-Nitai. I cannot tell you how much I am in love with Nityananda Prabhu.

 

 

You mean our Deity here. Yes, he is so beautiful with both hands outstretched.

 

And you want to know if you can come back? Had you told me this when you were here you would still be here!

 

Actually you should consider monastic life. You seem suited for it and Audarya is a very favorable environment for monastics. It enables devotees who would otherwise have to wait another life to take up renunciation to do it happily in this life. Your Guru Maharaja told me that if you showed any inclination he would sen you here in a minute. Think about it. It's time to do something—to make a difference.

 

Swami

Jason - August 7, 2007 3:27 pm

Rathi Krsna---your pictures are great--thanks. Seems I'm destined to miss all the good times.

Guru-nistha Das - August 15, 2007 12:43 am

Seems like a lot is going on all the time.

Last week's friday we had this guy, a follower of Adi Da (or whatever the heck his name is this month) who runs a site called www.dharmacafe.com to come here and interview Guru Maharaja. He told us that he's working on a video about bhakti, and wanted Guru Maharaja be in it too. He and his partner set up their cameras, mics and lights to the temple room, we dimmed the windows and they did a 2 and a half hour interview. The questions varied from kali-yuga to spirtual bodies and of course the differences between jnana and bhakti. Guru Maharaja said he didn't really preach to the guy that much, although he had asked him:

Does mukti give bhakti? No. Does bhakti give mukti? Yes. So what is the position of bhakti then?"

I asked the interviewer if we could get a copy of it and sell it in our store, and he was a bit ambiguous, but I'm sure we'll at least get one copy, and can have a public showing or something.

 

The harvest season is at its peak. The summer has been pretty cold so the gardens are not producing as much as last summer (at least yet) but it still keeps a couple of us busy. We get a couple of buckets of tomatoes every day, zuchinis, green beans, cucumbers, eggplants, okra, jalopenos, bellpeppers and cabbages. In a while we'll start having melons. lima beans and squash too.

 

Prema Bhakti is here with her best friend Gandiva and we are getting ready for the Ratha yatra, while the temple construction is going on. The things we have to do to organize a festival is to make a list of everyone who's coming, figure ouyt who's staying in where, distribute the services, like who's waking up the deities, who's offerig the feast etc., making lists of all the bhoga we need to feed the devotees, figuring out who's going to bring what, then before the festival we clean up the main areas, put away the tools and get the temple site ready for a festival, get the yurts ready and so on. And during the festival it's all-out seva day in and day out. It's intense and absorbing.

Syamasundara - August 18, 2007 4:39 am

Greetings from the land of seva.

This is my first Ratha Yatra retreat after 6 years of hearing about them. I was a little concerned at the idea of a retreat, and a short one, too, if felt like between prasada and taks there wasn't going to be room for seva for us visitors. Luckily and obviously I was wrong.

I arrived yesterday with Audarya lila and his kids. I was a little sad as I thought we were too late for the kirtana, but we got the last part of it. I got to know a bunch of Polish devotees I didn't even know about, also I didn't know Prahlada and (extended) family were coming, so the two things got me over the shock of realizing Madan Gopala wasn't coming.

This morning after mangala arati GM read from the Golden Volcano about the Ratha Yatra, the inner and outer message in the exchange between the gopis and Krsna at Kuruksetra.

During japa I couldn't resist checking out the gardens. This time I did that mindlessly, or rather, more absorbed in the japa, but as soon as I entered I saw a bunch of tomatoes lined up and hanging from the vines and I had the neat impression of being in the presence of devotees; when I asked myself why, I realized: they really give their life in service. Everyone and everything is teaching us here, by their own example of seva. All of a sudden I was surrounded: Rohini-nandana was serving by cleaning the cow pen, Gnu and Nitai were milking, Raga was serving by giving milk, the sun came out to heat the tomatoes, and there I was, chanting japa, not even in a service attitude. I started to wonder if I should invent some service for me, and I started to wonder what is better, accepting service only when it comes from a Vaisnava, asking for it, or taking the initiative and show some eagerness.

I am such a Vaikuntha bhakta sometimes, I know the importance of eagerness in our path, but still I choose a more "proper" approach. It's good to be cautious, though. By the way, the best thing is to ask for service, this way we won't miss out on life, waiting for the mercy to come on us, nor will we make weird things bordering disservice by "taking the initiative." What Vaisnava can resist a request to be engaged?

So eventually I got my share: I taught Ian how to roll capatis "like an Indian woman", I helped prepare the temple for the deities tomorrow, I washed the camara and Giriraja's throne. Some seva came from above and some was my initiative. Oh, I even got a direct instruction from GM (bring me lemon water).

So, it is non-different from Vrndavana. I even found some Audarya yellow clay pebble in the temple room at dinner; tomorrow I'll proudly use it to put tilaka on my forehead.

Oh, and Ian and Nitai are taking Hari Nama tomorrow! I was elated to find that out. I started to bet with the Polish devotees about what the names are going to be.

At breakfast Vrndaranya filled us in on Costa Rica, it was so nice to see people's enthusiasm in their eyes. It was also nice to know that each resident here has a favorite calf. By the way, the buddies are all doing great.

Seva was listening to the talk on the deck this morning, quiet and staring at GM. This afternoon it was Mohan. The real retreat isn't starting until tomorrow, but most people are here, so GM gave a few talks on the deck. The point he was hammering on is that renunciation for its own sake makes the heart hard. In the process of watering the bhakti lata bija with hearing and chanting the roots will come out, initial renunciation, but that is just the first stage of love: since now I love you, I won't exploit you. Then prema proper comes, which is like the fruits of the tree, and nobody cares about the roots that are even under the ground, still they are there to sustain the whole tree.

 

Ops, time to go to bed already.

Gaurangi-priya Devi - August 20, 2007 2:04 pm

Thanks for writing about the festival, Syamu! It's so nice to hear your point of view, and the descriptions of the different sevas and the devotees performing them are wonderful. I'm waiting in eager anticipation to hear about the rest of the festival, the initiations, and the Ratha-yatra. :Big Grin:

Syamasundara - August 21, 2007 5:39 am

Well here it goes. I am glad I am typing, because I have absolutely no more voice after yesterday.

 

Let's see what I remember....

 

Saturday morning: big preparations for the festival and a bit of stress. Agni came with the flowers, but we couldn't find any vases almost up until the deities were ready to go to the new temple.

I love to see Gaura Nitai off the altar and among us, the pujaris hugging them so tight. I used to secretly hug Nitai's legs a lot in moments of despair caused by my troubled mind in Eugene, now that intimacy is no more possible as the altar is an open space, but another kind of intimacy is there. We chant japa right while the deities are taking their meal, and none of us would possibly think of lusting over the offering; what to speak of that, we can see them taking a bath every morning. But nothing surpasses seeing them off the altar, out of the temple.

GM took Sridama along for auspiciousness. He wasn't quite sure what we wanted from him, but eventually he even purified the floor of the temple with his dung.

We ended the kirtana, we settled down, and as GM started the talk, it dawned on me, although not for the first time, that two more souls were going to come aboard the guru ship very soon. It's just a miracle every single time. They were stranded in the middle of the ocean of separate interest.

 

tava nija jana, kono mahajane

pathaila dile tumi

 

Hard to keep my eyes dry.

And then it happened. Not the usual scene, where the aspiring disciple is in the yajna sala, ready for the fire sacrifice, with no stitched cloth on him, shaved head and face, and radiant. The two sadhakas were fully dressed and quite unshaved, because of the load of service that keeps them busy and even more radiant.

Thus all of us were naturally led into seeking the substance beyond the form.

The two sadhakas weren't asked to parrot rules and regulations and state how many rounds they chant, but they were still given all kinds of beads (neck, chanting and counting beads) and told how to use them in a ritualistic way, as if they had never chanted before. Well, in a sense it's true.

Gaurasundara is my well-wished (can you say that?) for some reason, but it's hard not to like Nitaisundara, especially with the new name. One funny thing that happened is that just before Nitai received the name, GM told him: "I've known you for a long, loooong time, now you're back. Stay with me." I thought GM must have seen him as a baby, but Nitai said he hasn't known him for more than two years... :ph34r:

Another interesting thing is that Nitai is losing weight and with the support of the whole ashram. That's sweet for a community of spiritualists, who at the same time are not out of touch with less transcendental things. Still, the kanthi mala couldn't make it around Nitai's neck three times, maybe in 6 months GM said.

So, here we are, the three Sundaras. :Hug:

I couldn't make a mental note of what the deities ate or what each talk was about, but when I close my eyes I still see the enthusiasm and the glitter in the eyes of Vraja lila and Anuradha every time they were asked to do some seva. Everybody was saying yes with a smile, no lack of harmony. The retreat is such a protected format. Who would spoil the atmosphere for only two or three days? No, everyone gives only their 200% and everyone benefits from it. My godbrothers and sisters feel like demigods sometimes, so qualified and perfect in their devotional attitude; nothing else really counts. I keep thinking all these people could be anywhere else, doing anything else, but that's where their heart is at. I am so indebted to everyone. I feel like I haven't done any service at all, or that I could have done 3 times as much.

My camera is a piece of junk by now, keeps saying I can only take 15 pics even if the card is empty, but how I wish I had had it with me when I turned the corner and saw Prema and Gandiva (I hope, so many new names...) shaking a tall pot back and forth over the camp burner to make pop corn for dinner. I swear I had a glimpse of the gopis making butter or grinding grains. So sweet.

 

 

Sunday:

 

So, the D-day. To me it started in a funny way, with GM asking me to lead the mangala arati song on the day I was the hoarsest. I had never led that song, so I didn't refuse, but it was painful. However, short of my voice, I could only sing with my heart.

Later on, before we set off for San Francisco GM gave me his blessings to become a good kirtan leader and always stay around the devotees :dance: , although on the surface it looked like something totally different went on ( :Big Grin: ), and it did, but when Sri Guru speaks, he or she teaches on many levels, and the onus is on the disciple to understand how many there are, based on his or her heart, knowledge and desire to be tuned into Sri Guru for seva. For example, he asked me who I was going with, and I just replied to the surface of the question and said "Audarya lila" instead of saying "with you, if there is room." Maybe next time, if I grow up. Talk about marriage, the guru-disciple relationship is the most intense, sophisticated and rewarding. Sri Guru is both a person and a tattva, both man and God, and what are we? GM speaks so subtly, sometimes I wonder if he wonders how many of those layers each of us can grasp, without inventing anything. Should we give him some feedback? Or should we just understand the lesson(s), and then the caitya guru will take care of everything? One day I was cooking at Audarya, and reasoning about something weird that happened between GM and me; eventually I reached the most favorable conclusion and attitude about the matter that a good disciple should have reached, and GM had no way to know that, but a while later he came down from his room and before getting out through the kitchen he blessed me with a wide smile.

 

After gayatri I sped to the garden to pluck roses. By the way, sorry if I didn't really prune the plants, but just cut below the roses, but I was short of time. We were going to have an early breakfast and leave. I wanted Agni to have a garland for auspiciousness, as he was going to chant at the Yatra, and GM to have a big, fat rose garland, A because he deserves it, and B, because the Iskcon devotees have been behaving in a weird way every year, inviting him, but then treating him like a second class devotee. So I wanted them to think: "Maybe we shouldn't treat him like that, did you see how big that garland is?" You've got to get to their level, you know... :):Loser:

However, nothing went as planned. GM arrived and started to talk with Radhanatha Swami. Neither were wearing garlands. I was really uncouth, eager to garland my Gurudeva at the first occasion, without any other consideration, but GM is a living etiquette manual, so my pompous garland never fell around his neck, as he grabbed it and garlanded Radhanatha Swami who mercifully hugged me.

Another funny thing is that after Rati finished Agni's garland, there were still so many marigolds left, and we didn't know who to give the third garland we made with them, and that we brought along nevertheless.

So, there was my chance: Radhanatha Swami gave his rose garland to Ratna, and I approached them again with a marigold garland for each of them and put them around their necks saying: "I am not going to desist."

The parade started, Agni began to chant, Baladeva's cart started to move. Oh! Another image that I see when I close my eyes is one that GM gave us during the initiation talk. Maharaja Prataparudra on the roof of the Jagannatha temple with his guru Sarvabhauma, palm tops and roof tops all around and this sound of cymbals, drums, hari nama chanted tirelessly, wild dancing, Nitai, Advaita, Srivasa and others, dancing with their garlands swinging, the hot Puri sun above them, the sound of kirtana resounding all over the universe. The Vaisnavas from Gaudadesa have arrived for the Ratha Yatra, but once in Puri, they don't pay obeisances to Jagannatha, but go straight to Mahaprabhu. Raja Prataparudra is bewildered.

In SF the dancing wasn't quite as mad, if there was any. I felt very much the bother of being constricted between the ropes of the cart, the microphone cord being so short that Agni and GM kept risking their safety, but nothing as disturbing as what happened at the end.

I didn't really want to mention this and disturb the minds of the Tattva-Vivekis, but if it wasn't for the extremely sad reality it hides, this would be the biggest Vaishnava joke. I couldn't stop giggling every time GM would bring it up.

Basically this year they had told Agni he could be the only one leading, and for only three quarters of the way. Agni didn't quite care about their purusa bhava, he would sometimes split the maha mantra in two halves, and he had brought his megaphone type thing, but he couldn't handle both microphones, so he told GM to sing along with him. At the end of the parade we kept singing, while Jagannatha on the first cart was getting ready to descend. A brahmacari approaches a security guard, the security guard approaches Agni and drags him out of the kirtana. I get nervous, then they confiscated the second megaphone as it wasn't allowed, as not belonging to the society that organized the festival, nor was GM.

I look incredulous as Agni is now singing in the "authorized" microphone only. Next thing I know, GM is speeding out of the kirtan, followed by other disciples, and without thinking once about it, I leave the dharu brahman, Baladeva in a wooden form, to follow the walking Baladeva.

To put it in GM's words: "The Vaisnavas called the police on him for singing Jaya Jagannatha at the Ratha Yatra." :Silly:

Unbelievable. Needless to say, Agni also left whatever that was and disappeared while hugging Radhanatha Swami from the side.

At that moment I began to receive a lot of mercy. GM sat down on a chair that Vijaya Kumara had set up for him, together with other chairs and a tarp for us, drinks, etc.

I didn't know that as it was my first Ratha Yatra after six years, so I offered GM one of my water bottles as he was thirsty. Vamsi came almost immediately with plates of prasada: matar panir, pakoras, and pizza. Vijaya turned GM's water into a lemonade, I was right by him, washing his hand after his meal. Then Jagannatha maha prasada came in a big bowl and I distributed to all my godbrothers and sisters, but all kinds of people approached me as well, it was so sweet.

I sat down again by GM's side and he had left a lot of leftovers, which I also distributed, but there were still enough left to constitute my meal, which later on intoxicated me (in the good sense). As I understand, Vijaya also provides a big umbrella, but this time it wasn't there, and to my great fortune, since, as I had nothing to do, I started to shade GM with my body, then with my cadar, then Gaura Sakti grabbed the other end of the cadar and we turned into human parasols. It's a great service, guru seva with mind and body. I got to do some service at Kuruksetra in a moment of need!! :dance: :dance: :dance: Then Gaurasundara came for some mercy, then Rohini-nandana, then Nama-srestha, everybody wanted to be a human parasol! At one point GM asked me for some pizza, and I ran to get some. On the way back I saw him there with two brahmacaris shading him with their bodies and a cadar, like a beauiful king. Finally I managed to give him that acarya look. B)

Shortly after, though, Audarya said it was time to leave. I gave a hug to all my godbrothers, said good-bye to all and to some SP disciples. The best thing was to tell them: "I'll see you soon, we'll be neighbors in Costa Rica."

So I had to willingly leave the assembled Vaisnavas. Well, not that willingly. I felt like Nanda going back to Vraja empty-handed. Why was that happening? At least Audarya-lila was still with me, and we were talking about how we met GM through the mercy of Narasimha Maharaja. Then we changed into civilian clothes and picked up Audarya's kids who had gone to visit Haight Street. We went to Whole Foods for munchies, and I was still in shock, telling Audarya lila I want my godsiblings, who were all these people around me? :Worried:<_<:Hiro::Chicken::Bug::Billy::April::Party: I was wandering in the produce isle with a distraught face, nothing made sense. I don't know how to explain it, it felt very much like when someone dear to you dies and you are at work, talking and even joking with your coworkers, but there is this sense of loss and goallessness in the back of your heart.

That's pretty much the way I am feeling right now, now that even Audarya-lila is gone, and I am here back in San Diego, hoping that this post is going to take me forever, or at least until the next time I can associate with my guru-varga.

 

'duḥkha-madhye kona duḥkha haya gurutara?'

 

'kṛṣṇa-bhakta-viraha vinā duḥkha nāhi dekhi para'

 

 

 

TRANSLATION

 

Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu asked, "Of all kinds of distress, what is the most painful?"

 

Śrī Rāmānanda Rāya replied, "Apart from separation from the devotee of Kṛṣṇa, I know of no unbearable unhappiness."

Vivek - August 21, 2007 6:42 am

so rath yatra had to be left in between because of this ridiculous policing behaviour? that is sad.

Syamasundara - August 21, 2007 6:50 am

Ridiculous is the most used word so far. We had a great time. The problem is theirs. So, yes, it is sad in terms of para-duhkha duhkhi. They did that in front of the deity of Baladeva. How blind can they be?

Tadiya Dasi - August 21, 2007 4:57 pm

Thanks for the "report", Syamasundara. :)

 

I enjoyed reading your thoughts, observations and, of course, both the good - and bad! (I can't believe they would call the police :Big Grin: ) - news.

 

Nitai-sundara & Gaura-sundara - if you have the time, it would be nice to read your thoughts about your initiation, ratha yatra, etc.!

Vrindaranya Dasi - August 21, 2007 5:03 pm
A brahmacari approaches a security guard, the security guard approaches Agni and drags him out of the kirtana.

The security guard actually took Rohini-nandana, who was holding the microphone for Guru Maharaja, out of the kirtana. Agnideva then talked to the guard and was able to pacify him by unplugging the microphone. The guard had been reluctant to do this in the first place and only did so on the insistence of the brahmacari. After this happened, Agnidevi gave the microphone to someone in the party--a siksa disciple of Narayana Maharaja--and the microphone was snatched away before he could finish one mantra. This all happened at the very end of the parade.

Gandiva Dasi - August 22, 2007 12:16 am

I felt heartbroken when I saw Maharaj walk away from the kirtana after the rent a cop took away the microphone. It was like someone burst my bubble . I needed to see it though, coming from ISKCON, I was embarrassed, and ashamed.

 

I have had such a warm experience at Audarya the past few weeks, I don't think I have ever felt quite so genuinely welcome anywhere. Maharaj, his classes, the devotees, bhajan, cows and seva were all so ecsatatic. . It is hard to leave.

 

The thought that I would not be able to reciprocate to Maharaj and his disciples through any Iskcon temple is tragic and really unacceptable to me.

 

I felt very grateful to be with the Audarya-vasis at the festival, it felt like the pinnacle of the festival (the place to be). You are all magnanimous devotees and I have so much to learn from each of you. Thank you for letting me join the sanga!

Babhru Das - August 22, 2007 1:08 am

This just makes me sick at heart. It's hard to understand the mentality behind such behavior. And now, while I'm living, even if temporarily, in an ISKCON community, this really turns my stomach. This community prides itself in being a tolerant, healing community. We'll see how much there is to that once my own plans become more widely known.

Gaura-sakti Dasa - August 22, 2007 3:29 am
Nitaisundara Das - August 22, 2007 3:49 am

Well I've been wanting to post an Audarya daily for some time but always seems to get bumped from my list.

Things have been great here. As Shyamasundara eluded to, I have been on the "Citta Hari Weight Loss Program". Its been quite successful but the last week I couldnt get any exercise in because of the festival but in the first 5 weeks I lost 11 and a half pounds.

Even more exciting: maybe a month ago ish I was made Guru Maharaja's personal servant! My happiness knows no bounds. As more people arrive to Audarya(we got Babhru's books today, which can only mean he is following) my schedule will become more and more arranged to directly serve Guru Maharaja. It's really exciting. I feel like the new Srutakirti, :Big Grin: he was pretty young like I am.

I've been in the process of getting a passport, license, and a bank account for some trust fund money from my grandparents. These kind of legal things are hellish but it's good to learn early, especially since I will do similar things for GM in the future. I have a learners permit now and I went out driving with CH for the first time in a few years. I think I'm pretty good...

The festival was nice, I got to meet alot of devotees that I had heard of before, and some who were here for the last festival which I arrived during and was still in shock and awe and probably not to social. I like getting to associate with all the devotees, but operating in stress mode for a few days isn't my style, but it wasn't as bad as I was anticipating.

I was elected(as shown in the ratha yatra thread) to carry Nityananda Prabhu down to the temple on account of my new muscles from working out. Wow he is heavy. It was awesome though, he holds all the universes on his head, yet because I am involved with his devotee he allows me to hold him, but he's heavy enough to remind me I couldnt do his job.

Then the initiation. I'm embarrassed to say I don't remember too much of the talk :Party: as I was nervous anxious excited etc. etc. I knew the neck beads would be an issue but I didn't try to do anything ahead(like get longer ones). So I was not surprised when Gm started making jokes about how maybe in 6 more months of exercise they would fit. I've never enjoyed being made fun of so much in my life. :Worried: GM had worn the japa beads around his neck and the mic was attached above them.so when I went up he gave me the bead bag, counter beads, neck beads, then to get the japa mala I had to unhook the mic and in my daze I put my bead bag on the ground, but I picked it back up quickly, then somehow my counter beads fell and GM told me to pick them up, by then my head was spinning. Then GM started say he's known me for a long time and I think I went into some sort of sattvika bhava abhasa :) or something cause I somewhat zoned everything out, including what he continued to say. Then he gave the japa beads and my name and I offered obeisances and I skirted back t my spot. I wish I had a more spiritual tale to tell but maybe in the future with practice I look back and understand what took place. Afterwards Rasaraja(PRema's husband) gave Gaurasundara and I both some money for dakshina which was great because I had written a poem for my dakshina that I wasn't too sure about, so something a little more useful was a good addition. It was an overwhelming experience, I am so thankful. I just hope I can become serious and sincere, GM is rooting for me, and everyone else, so I want to become a worthwile place, and capable of accomplishing what he wants from me. he has already invested so much energy and continues to, all for the service of his Lords.

 

Maybe tommorwo I can wirte about SF but I got to go for now.

Bhrigu - August 22, 2007 6:35 am

Congratulations, Nitai- and Gaursundara Prabhus! :Big Grin: Terrible to hear about the bad experience at Ratha-yatra, but what can you expect, after all? The fundamentalits have such power in ISKCON all over. I guess they were thinking that they are terribly merciful to let Agni Prabhu sing for part of the yatra even though he isn't "in ISKCON", and when he just goes on, they feel he broke their magnanimous deal. :) The whole idea of Ratha-yatra is unity in diversity, and I have a really hard time imagining that there wouldn't have been space enough for more bona-fide ISKCON kirtaniyas because of Agni. Disappointing, but not surprising.

Syamasundara - August 22, 2007 7:14 am
It's hard to understand the mentality behind such behavior.

 

How about something like: "These devotees are some kind of herpes; by now we can only tolerate them and keep them in check, and by all means prevent them from taking over, otherwise what will be of Iskcon, which is SP's body?"

Prema-bhakti - August 22, 2007 2:09 pm
How about something like: "These devotees are some kind of herpes; by now we can only tolerate them and keep them in check, and by all means prevent them from taking over, otherwise what will be of Iskcon, which is SP's body?"

 

 

How about "the dogs will bark but the caravan moves on".

Syamasundara - August 22, 2007 3:37 pm

That'd be our mentality, not theirs.

Guru-nistha Das - August 22, 2007 3:46 pm

My heartfelt congratlations to the new initiates. I'm really happy for them and I see a lot of potential (I'm talking like an old man here). Keep pushing.

 

My Ratha yatra highlights:

 

*Seeing Gaura and Nityananda come out of the temple with Guru Maharaja leading Sridama in the front

*Guru Maharaja's Q&A talk on the first day. Amazing (I didn't have time to hear the two other ones...)

*Saturday Mangala arati. Out of this world.

*Taking prasad and joking with a smaller group of devotees during the saturday feast

*Singing in the procession with Guru Maharaja

*Seeing the joy in Prema's face when she entered the Ratha yatra procession and realized Guru Maharaja was leading the kirtan (she came late because we'd been told that GM is forbidden to sing)

Prema-bhakti - August 22, 2007 3:57 pm
That'd be our mentality, not theirs.

 

Yes, exactly that's what I meant. Who really cares what they think. I don't.

Syamasundara - August 22, 2007 4:28 pm

To me what was priceless was to see Nagapatni's face when she was crouching by GM after the parade and said "I am really happy to see you" and she kept staring at him with a smile. It reminded me of Dhruva Maharaja "drinking" the beauty of the Paramatma when he appeared in front of him. Anyway you had to be there.

 

In reply to Prema, I was just replying to Babhru wondering what the mentality of the Iskcon devotees was for doing such a thing.

Gaurasundara Das - August 22, 2007 4:42 pm

Thanks for all the kind words everyone. Im really happy and grateful to be in GM's family and to have all of your association. It was a really nice festival, a bit of a whirlwind and overwhelming but ill try to remember some of the highlights. It started off on a good foot because Prema and Gandiva came up early which is cool. It was also really great to see all the devotees that I met at the festival in april and all the devotees that I had not yet met. The question and answers with Guru Maharaj on the deck was really nice. I missed a bit of it because Prem and I had to sneek out and milk Raga. All the kirtans were great. After one of the evening aratis instead of having a class Guru Maharaj and Gurunistha lead us in bhajans. That was really nice. Saturday is still a bit of a blurr. I spent most of the morning in the kitchen. It was cool to see Vrindaranya work her magic. I remember deep frying eggplant till the last minute and thinking I would smell like a french fry when Guru Maharaj called me up. The most handsomest bull Sridam lead Gaura-Nitai to their temple with Agni leading kirtan. Sridam came into the temple room and we circumambulated him, finished kirtan and sat down for the lecture. And the rest is history I guess. Im really grateful that Guru Maharaj gave me harinam, especially since there where so many vaishnavas present. With your help ill do my best to serve Guru Maharaj and his mission. Ill try to write more about Ratha Yatra a bit later. It was really amazing to be in such a beautiful park and see GM chanting in front of Lord Balaram's cart. A sight I will not soon forget. It was a really nice day but it was even nicer to return home to Audarya at the end. Even with tilak sunburned into my forehead :)

Prema-bhakti - August 22, 2007 4:42 pm
In reply to Prema, I was just replying to Babhru wondering what the mentality of the Iskcon devotees was for doing such a thing.

 

Yes, I understood that. Thanks. :)

Babhru Das - August 22, 2007 7:43 pm

Oh, I understand what they must be thinking; I just don't see how it's possible that such thinking persists in ISKCON. I'm not new to this sort of nonsense. As I've noted before, I became a devotee in Hawaii, and we were always branded as something other than mainstream around ISKCON. This was even more the case after Siddhasvarupananda joined ISKCON. I think I've mentioned before that, as far back as 1973, a temple president told me I was "not one of us, not ISKCON," simply because I was from Hawaii.

 

There's a smaller sense in which this incident discourages me a little (that's only with regard to my relationship with ISKCON in general). The bigger picture, though, is that it strengthens my resolve to pursue my plan, and as soon as possible. I mua! (That's Hawaiian for "foward.")

Prema-bhakti - August 22, 2007 8:37 pm
The bigger picture, though, is that it strengthens my resolve to pursue my plan, and as soon as possible. I mua! (That's Hawaiian for "foward.")

 

Jaya :).

Audarya-lila Dasa - August 22, 2007 10:30 pm

Something good comes of such a foolish incident - just see how Krsna is working to motivate us through positive and negitive impetus. :)

Babhru Das - August 22, 2007 10:57 pm

There was no weakness in my resolve; this was just icing on the cake. I have a progressively difficult time identifying with much of what goes on in ISKCON.

Gaurasundara Das - August 28, 2007 2:41 pm

Yesterday we had a small celebration for Lord Balarama's appearance day ( Guru Maharaj, Vrindaranya and Gurunistha are away in L.A.). In the morning we read a few slokas from the begining of Caitanya Bhagavat about the ontological posistion of Baladev. For breakfast Gaura-Nitai were served lemon ginger muffins and apple sauce. For lunch Nitaisundara cooked a nice feast of rice with peas and cashews, potato-cabbage subji, karhi with curd and chickpeas, puris, assorted pakoras, tamarind chutney, coconut and mint chutney, pink lemonade, halava and sweet rice. We ended sundara arati with a reading from th CB about Lord Balaram's rasa dance.

Syamasundara - August 31, 2007 12:17 am

Philip and I were wondering if the last two initiations' video (just the name-giving part of course) could be put on youtube... :Party:;)

Bijaya Kumara Das - August 31, 2007 5:19 am
Philip and I were wondering if the last two initiations' video (just the name-giving part of course) could be put on youtube... :rolleyes::Praying:

 

what for ?

Syamasundara - August 31, 2007 6:40 am

Same reason why we could see the ones in Finland and Vrndavana.

Margaret Dale - September 5, 2007 9:48 pm

Update on the Ratha Yatra incident -

I went to Janmastami at the Berkeley temple last night and ran into an old friend. She lives in Ukiah, and I said I went to Philo all the time because my guru lives up there. She said, "Oh Tripurari Maharaja?" I said yes, but asked her to keep it to herself due to temple politics. She acted as if it was no big deal, and I mentioned Ratha Yatra. She told me that the people who talked to the police were not authorized, that the actual temple authorities had been considering asking GM to sing (or something, it was very noisy), and that they were planning on writing a letter of apology to GM.

This is all third hand, but does sound promising.

Syamasundara - September 5, 2007 11:15 pm
:rolleyes: Who the heck could take such a sick initiative? Sounds fishy, though. Nothing happens without authorization there, and GM remained there the whole afternoon and in plain sight. Not enough to find him and rectify? Your friend's version sounds like the most convenient thing to say afterwards. I am not saying she's in bad faith, though.
Guru-nistha Das - October 2, 2007 4:11 pm

I've recommitted to writing the Audarya Dailys again by incorporating it into my weekly seva list. So on tuesdays and fridays you'll be hearing from me.

 

We started a new marathon a couple of weeks ago. Guru Maharaja wants to have the temple done before they leave to Costa Rica, and it's looking really good. Citta Hari is building cabinets for the kitchen, deity room and pantry right now and we are saving a big amount of money because he's doing it by himself. Anybody who has built his/her own home knows how rediculous prices cabinets have. Mayapurcandra and I have been building retaining walls in the garden. Three of them are done, and we ran into some small problems with the last ones, but we'll resume it probably today. Guru Maharaja also came up with an idea to make our own Japanese plaster and save a bunch of money, and still have a very good quality end result. When Citta Hari was mixing the sand and theother ingredients for test batches, Guru Maharaja said: MacIntosh started in a garage, okay? He was joking that we'll start a multimillion business with the japanese plaster.

Mayapurcandra and I have primed most of the temple and Nitaisundara has been mudding and taping the sheetrock.

 

Vrindaranya is steering and brainstorming the marathon with Guru Maharaja, Nama-shrestam is doing maintenanca and CD processing and Vrajasundari is doing most of the Deity seva and other garden and cleanup services.

The mood is quite focussed right now, we have a clear goal with the temple and everyone's putting their effort into making Guru Maharaja's wishes come true.

 

Guru Mahraja will leave to Costa rica in October the 23th with Vrindaranya, Citta Hari and Nitaisundara and the rest of the devotees will stay back to hold up the fort. It's going to be a challenge to run Audarya without the main motors, but it's good practice in resposible seva. I'm sure things will slow down considerable as well, because the main focus of the past one and a half years, the temple, will be finsihed.

Vivek - October 2, 2007 10:00 pm

i thought GM is going to vrindavana not costa rica in october. This is a change of plan then, or maybe you meant noveember 23rd not october 23rd.

Guru-nistha Das - October 3, 2007 12:20 am

I'm sorry, you're right, Guru Maharaja, Vrindaranya and Nitaisundara are going to India for two weeks on the 23th of October, come back on the 7th, then we'll have Govardhana Puja on the 10th and then The Costa Rica party will leave shortly after the festival.

 

We just put a test coat of the Japanese plaster on the temple room wall and it looks incredible! We've been waiting for this moment for a long time. It's going to be amazing.

Prema-bhakti - October 3, 2007 12:42 am
We just put a test coat of the Japanese plaster on the temple room wall and it looks incredible! We've been waiting for this moment for a long time. It's going to be amazing.

 

Hurray!! :Shocked:

Syamasundara - October 3, 2007 2:26 am

What's the home-made formula of the plaster?

Guru-nistha Das - October 3, 2007 3:57 pm

Do you think they give out the formula for Coca-Cola as well??? :Shocked:

Syamasundara - October 3, 2007 5:02 pm

I asked because Japanese plaster sounds a lot like all the adobe and similar natural plasters and finishes I've been researching on. Is there real cement in Japanese plaster?

Nanda-tanuja Dasa - October 3, 2007 5:58 pm

Shikkui 漆喰 -- Lime plaster used to coat walls, ceilings and earth floors *doma 土間. The word 'shikkui' is said to be derived from the Tang Chinese word for lime. Shikkui is made by combining lime with glutinous matter like funori 布海苔 and red algae tsunomata 角叉, and fibres such as hemp thread; pounding, and mixing in water. Sand and clay are also sometimes added. In wall construction, the plaster is applied to a mesh attached to and stretched between posts or pillars. Traditionally the coarsest type was the first layer to cover the mesh. Each layer was more and more refined , until the final coat had a very smooth surface. Many walls inside stone tomb chmbers *kofun 古墳 are coated with shikkui; Takamatsuzuka 高松塚 (7-8c) in Nara is particularly famous example.

Bhrigu - October 3, 2007 7:13 pm

Great news, Gurunistha! I'm looking forward to the new installments of the Audarya Daily! Go Karate Kid! :Shocked:

Syamasundara - October 5, 2007 3:48 pm

All right, it's Friday! I hope I'll find pictures when I come home tonight.

 

By the way, when are Gaura Nitai moving? Still on Gaura Purnima after the rains or before Nov 23rd? Shouldn't people be alerted and mobilitated on a comfortably long notice? I for one need to know, so I can save enough money to come up and help, can't miss that. In Costa Rica there won't be Gaura Nitai.

I'm not really tripping out about the inauguration, expecting it to be a super pompous thing, and that I'll be so involved, I just think it would be lovely if the most people attended even from various parts of the world, and each and everybody did or brought something, like in the Annakuta ceremony, no sitting/eating guests, we are all Mahaprabhu people.

 

sevi' gaura nityananda sri guru-carana

bhaktivinoda parivara sampiya jivana

Guru-nistha Das - October 5, 2007 4:27 pm

I'll ask Mayapur to post some pics in the afternoon.

 

The grand opening of the temple will be next summer, most probably on Ratha yatra, which is the first summer festival.

Guru Maharaja wanted to be sure that the weather will be good.

But the Deities will definitely move in before that. The goal is to have them living in the temple this year.

 

The temple room is close to having the first coat of plaster on and it looks fantastic. The color works just perfectly with the redwood trim and the green bamboo strips that run at the top of the walls.

 

I've been working with Mayapurcandra a lot and getting to know him better. He is a good candidate for being a monk in Audarya. It's funny, every time new people come, I feel really happy and sorry for them at the same time. Obviously happiness comes from the fact that they've taken such a bold step towards surrender and that they are going for the only permanent wealth in life. And I feel sorry for them because I know how hard it can be in the beginning to completely change your life and start killing your false identity.

 

What I've been saying to Mayapur though is that it's so worth it. All the obstacles and problems that feel insurmountable right now on our path seem completely insignificant after we've pushed through and overcome them. Our attachments make us identify with a very contracted and limited sense of identity. We are attached to keeping ourselves in a box because it's cozy there and we can touch all the walls and be in control. Once we go through the pain of admitting the falsity of such a view of life and making a commitment to accept reality, we grow. Growing means changing, and change means that our identity will automatically expand. Some people say that committing to a "religion" makes you view everything from a very stagnant, narrow point of view and you have to fit everything that you perceive inside the parameters of your dogma, but if someone is a true practitioner and as a natural sideproduct some detachment comes, one's so-called religion works just the opposite. It enables one to see things in a much more objective and broader light and eventully have the kind of subjectivity that's free from selfishness and material needs.

Syamasundara - October 6, 2007 7:45 am

OK, that's interesting. It almost feels like "Well, what's there to inaugurate at this point?" So, basically you are saying GM wants the temple to be not finished but usable before Nov 23rd, so that the deities can already move and the cooking and puja can be going on in there, but everything will be finished and pristine some time before RY and the formal inauguration will be on the next RY retreat?

Gee, now I hope I won't already be in CR by that time, or I'll have to spend $1,000 just to fly over and back. :Batting Eyelashes:

 

By the way, I hope Mayapurcandra is posting a pic of himself, because in my mind he and Madhavendra Puri are the same person. So many new people (to me).

Nanda-tanuja Dasa - October 7, 2007 12:31 am

This is Mayapurcandra, we've been living in same room in Vrindavan, he is very sweet and sober devotee.

m.jpg

Citta Hari Dasa - October 8, 2007 3:42 pm

To answer Syamu's question about the plaster: no, there is no cement in it. The traditional stuff that Nanda-tanuja wrote about I have not seen or uesd. The product we had imported from Japan has been adapted to modernity; it uses a liquid acrylic a a binder. The mix we're using for our plaster is sand, acrylic binder, 90 minute joint compound, water, straw, and color. We can't divulge the exact proportions, because then we'd have to kill you. :Batting Eyelashes:

Syamasundara - October 8, 2007 4:33 pm

That's OK, a close-up would be nice, though.

Guru-nistha Das - October 10, 2007 2:26 am

The rains have begun.

 

We started putting down straw for the cows again. We covered the firewood, took all the tools and machines in. I guess it's here. The rainy season moved to Audarya. The raindrops are drumming the yurt roof, I'm covered in a blanket and waiting for the heater to kick in.

 

Yesterday was another marathon day. This is the normal schedule: we have a mangala arati, a reading from Jaiva-Dharma and after breakfast we start working at 9 AM. We work until 7 PM with a lunch break in between, go up to the main house to take some prasad, chat for a while, go to our yurts and crash. Sometimes Guru Maharaja comes down to the office to have some evening snack with us. Yesterday was one of those days.

 

In the morning we had read from the section of Jaiva-Dharma where Bhaktivionde explains acintya-bhedabheda and Guru Maharaja got inspired to talk about that in the context of Srila Prabhupada's powerful propagation of a form of vedanta in the western world that's not impersonal. Guru Maharaja explained how before Prabhupada vedanta was squarely identified with advaita-vada and how because of Prabhupada even dictionaries are changing their defintions and his groundwork has opened up the doors for many other non-advaitan vedantists. In this connection Guru Maharaja tied in Prabhupada's emphasis on Krsna as the "supreme Personality of Godhead" and the value of Bhagavatam for the vedantists, just to show that we have to completely rid ourselves of Mayavada to fully understand acintya-bhedabheda tattva, and thus Bhagavatam and Srila Prabhupada. So many nice points were brought out. When he talked about the Bhagavatam and its uniqueness in the world of philosophy and theology, he said "Nityam Bhagavata sevaya. When that temple is built, that's all we will be doing. Studying Bhagavatam."

 

We have a lot to look forward to!

 

Guru Maharaja also mentioned that anybody who wants to get a good grip on acinta-bhedabheda should read the chapter of O.B.L Kapoor's book "The Religion and Philosophy of Sri Caitanya" that covers the subject. I started reading it yesterday and highly recommend to everyone who has some philosphical inclination.

Nitaisundara Das - October 10, 2007 3:24 am

Just to confirm to any non=believers, the rain is definitely hear(pun intended). I almost fell a few times coming up the hill with GM's clean laundry, and then just a few minutes ago coming down in the dark in tennis shoes with caked on mud already on the bottom.....For those who havent been here, it is a steep hill, I tried diffeent methods, just balancing my weight so I could safely slide seemed good but next thing I knew I was running full speed down the side of hill with no depth perception on account of my headlight and I made it but then to come to a gradual stop I almost ended up falling down a short, but to steep to even walk, hill behind the bath house. Tommorow morning should be interesting...... I see alot of muddy doties in the forecast

Rathi Krishna Dasa - October 10, 2007 3:50 am

Nitaisundara prabhu, I recommend a zig-zag approach up and down the hill. :Batting Eyelashes:

Syamasundara - October 10, 2007 4:34 am

Yep, and a stick or at least good mountain boots, or any shoes with a tall and deep sole.

Prema-bhakti - October 10, 2007 7:52 am
Just to confirm to any non=believers, the rain is definitely hear(pun intended). I almost fell a few times coming up the hill with GM's clean laundry, and then just a few minutes ago coming down in the dark in tennis shoes with caked on mud already on the bottom.....For those who havent been here, it is a steep hill, I tried diffeent methods, just balancing my weight so I could safely slide seemed good but next thing I knew I was running full speed down the side of hill with no depth perception on account of my headlight and I made it but then to come to a gradual stop I almost ended up falling down a short, but to steep to even walk, hill behind the bath house. Tommorow morning should be interesting...... I see alot of muddy doties in the forecast

 

Thanks for the heads up. I am going to be needing some serious gear when I come in a few weeks. :Batting Eyelashes: No rain in Stockton yet.

Madan Gopal Das - October 10, 2007 2:54 pm
Nitaisundara prabhu, I recommend a zig-zag approach up and down the hill. ;)

I recommend a sled for the way down, with a jump built at the bottom of the hill. The picture in my mind of nitaisundara catching air with a wake of audarya mud behind him - priceless. :Just Kidding: Brown laundry makes you look more austere and authentic. ;)

Vamsidhari Dasa - October 10, 2007 3:19 pm

"Here comes the rain little darlings, here comes the rain, its all right..." :Just Kidding: ;) ;) :Whistle: :Whistle: :Whistle:

Its the survival of the wettest! :Cry:

Nitaisundara Das - October 10, 2007 3:35 pm
I recommend a sled for the way down, with a jump built at the bottom of the hill. The picture in my mind of nitaisundara catching air with a wake of audarya mud behind him - priceless. :Just Kidding: Brown laundry makes you look more austere and authentic. ;)

 

Madan Gopal definitely wins with the best, yet seemingly unlikely, suggestion, maybe I should just roll down for the super renounced look.

Audarya-lila Dasa - October 10, 2007 6:28 pm

Stay close to the trees where there are some rocks, it's less slippery there. I always thought that some steps would be in order for that hill, especially after experiencing it in the rain.

 

This may be something to tackle sooner rather than later since Guru Maharaja will be venturing down the hill often once Gaura Nitai take up residence in the new temple.

Syamasundara - October 10, 2007 8:34 pm

I know, it's one of my constant dreams, to come up with the money to grass the whole hilltop and gravel the trails and put steps where needed and say: "Here, do not spend it on ANYTHING ELSE. If there are other priorities let others take care of them."

Guru-nistha Das - October 13, 2007 2:43 am

Today was a special day because we had a new member in Audarya, little Rati.

I went up to the mangala arati this morning and I saw light in the barn and Vrindaranya brushing Sukhi. I thought the calf had been born already, but when I went in to the barn from the sidedoor where the feed is kept, Guru Maharaja was sitting on a stack of straw bails, partially wrapped up in hi sleeping bag, with his head light on and japa mala on his hand. From that time it took about three and a half hours to get the little girl into the open air. Lifetime monks will never experience a birth of their own child but this is pretty great too!

 

Citta Hari and Mayapurchandra installed the first set of cabinets to the pujari room and they look beautiful. We also had an another session of trying to decide on the colors of the temple interiorrs. It's actually a lot of fun. We debate, put down other's opinions in a joking way and sometimes even agree on things! Nitai was acting as the color mixer man and trying to find good tones with mostly Guru Maharaja and Vrindaranya. We did come to a conclusion on certains colors and it was really worth it to keep testing things out, the new color palette is a lot better than the previous one.

 

It's getting late, I ate too much leftovers from the Rati-feast and I have another early morning tomorrow so I'll wrap this short writing now, but before that a picture of Mayapurchandra:

post-79-1192243387_thumb.jpg

Guru-nistha Das - October 18, 2007 3:05 am

I'm a day behind with my Daily since I went to Santa Rosa yesterday with Guru Maharaja and Vrindaranya. I was supposed to become a signer for the business checks and the bank account since I'm staying back when all the other more senior devotees go to Costa Rica, but we weren't able to so it because I need an american Social security number.

Anyway, we spent a long time in Home Depot going through different options for the kitchen countertops. It's amazing how bhakti can seems so ordinary and even mundane, but it's all yoga and spiritual when it's done in the right consciousness. If Sridhara Maharaja's newspaper reading is like he was reading the vedas, Guru Mahraja's home improvement is a whole meditation in itself as well. All the decisions, options, investments and research requires a huge amount of mental and physical effort, and it's not some snobbish, eccentric home-owner's hobby,but a practical continuation from Gaudiya siddhanta and feeling for the object of love. Bhakti is so easy to misunderstand. And easy to misapply and think you're doing the real thing. You can't have any attachment to material things in order to be a real devotee , but the interesting thing is that you can't be too averse to material things either. That's real detachment.

We spent the night at Agni's and this morning Guru Maharaja and Vrindaranya spent the whole morning researching different options for the counter tops and calling around California to track down products, availability and prices. It's actually quite humbling to be around and I wish I can some day become focused in the same way. I hope it'll rub on me if I just hold on.

Syamasundara - October 18, 2007 5:06 am

Funny, I was "meditating" on cabinets, too, the other day. I wonder how affordable the kind I fell in love with is. It had tiny lights that would go on upon opening the doors, and it had the same lights hidden underneath it to shed light on the countertops. I guess that can be applied to any cabinet, though. Lighting in the kitchen is as important as the choice of knives, but both things tend to get underestimated.

 

Do you have to go all the way to SF to get a SSN now?

Citta Hari Dasa - October 18, 2007 4:10 pm

Don't worry Syamu, we have under cabinet lighting planned for the kitchen.

Guru-nistha Das - October 20, 2007 1:31 am

Unfortunately the weather is not in our favor and it looks like we won't be able to have the temple ready for the Deities to move in this year... :)

We will celebrate Govardhana Pujain any case, though.

 

Citta Hari is training Mayapurchandra in the secrets of cabinet making. It's pretty impressive what Cittsteri is able to come up with in his workshop! The cabinets look great. And Mayapur seems to be a fast learner.

Nitai and myself have been working on the structure of the deck and it's going pretty good, but the weather is really against us. We tried workingin the rain for a couple of times, but it's so ineffective and I guess kind of dangerous too.

Tomorrow should be the beginning of good weather and also Gaurasundara comes back from Canada, so we'll get things really going, I hope.

 

Vrindaranya planted the winter crops, we have at least lettuce, cabbage and cauliflowers coming!

 

Rati is doing great, she's a real speed demon. When ever she gets out of the pen it's quite entertaining to watch her. So much enthusiasm and curiosity.

Vrindaranya Dasi - October 20, 2007 3:01 pm

plus carrots, beets, broccoli, collards, and cilantro.

Guru-nistha Das - October 24, 2007 4:53 pm

I took Guru Maharaja, Vrindaranya and Nitai to the airport yesterday. I wished so bad I could've gone with them to Vrindavana, but at the same time I knew that I have to put my full effort into Audarya right now. We want to have the deck done by the time Guru Maharaja comes back, the cabinets are supposed to be ready for the countertop company to come and take the measurements for it, plus just maintenance takes a good chunk of our time too. Also, since three important members are gone, we have to fill in on their allotted services.

 

Gaurangi sent us some granola for the evenings so that we'll have something to eat if there are no leftovers. A couple of weeks ago Krsangi sent woolen socks that she had knitted to Vrindaranya. Nanda-Tanuja sent a huge box of bhoga with Caitanya-daya and had included all kinds of extra items in it. Prema-bhakti sent jams and soups for the Deities.Caitanya-daya brought tahini and fruit for the Deities. Manohari is sending work gloves and night pants for Mayapurchandra and chocolate for the Deities. Vivek practically risked his economy to help fund the outreah. Several people are sending donations for the projects that we are working on.

It really feels nice to get support from people, it creates a warm feeling of a joint-effort in establishing Guru Maharaja's vision. We are indebted to all of you.

Syamasundara - October 24, 2007 5:46 pm

Yes, it's wonderful, where is the emoticon that rolls on the ground? :Party:

 

I liked the night pants the most. Bringing gifts for the deities and the acarya is easy, so to speak. When I am in the position to have extra money, I will always cater to the brahmacaris and brahmacarinis, and take the 5th position.

 

It must be tough for the brahmacaris. When I was living in the ashram and had a need, it was so uncomfortable, the idea of using GM's money for me, or ask a member of the community for something. Even when they were asking, it wasn't easy.

Guru-nistha Das - October 27, 2007 3:04 am

Guru Maharaja is gone to India and we are keeping the marathon going. He called yesterday in the evening when we were having evening prasad in the office, and he told that they had bought the cows for the altar! Two 15 inch long bronze and bronze-brass ones. Vrinda said they look really elegant.

Today they are heading to Vrindavana and thinking about that has brought back memories from last winter how we drove to the dhama in the night, the smells, the horns, the language, the dirty roads and finally Vrindavana. I'm waiting to go back.

 

I started putting up joists on the west side deck today while my partner in crime Gaurasundara was cooking and it felt great seeing the progress so fast, since laying out and setting the foundational piers is really slow and sometimes frustrating because it feels like nothing's happening (anartha nivritti). But today was a turning point, I guess we reached nistha in our construction practice and the free fall began. Gaura also stained some of those hardwood decking boards and man do they look good! It's going to be a sweeet feature.

 

Kartika started today and we sang damodarastakam in the morning, but I can't even dream of having time for vows.

 

It was interesting what Syamasundara wrote about brahmacaris and money. I'm to tired to write anything about it today but will get back to the subject maybe next time.

 

Nama is picking up Prema Bhakti right now and she'll be here for a few days, cooking for us and being a den mom.

Until next time!

Syamasundara - October 27, 2007 8:53 am
she'll be here for a few days, cooking for us and being a den mom.

 

That's so endearing. Thank you!

Mayapurcandra Das - October 27, 2007 4:06 pm

So, after reading now is time for watching :Cow:

 

seva.JPG

Guru-nistha and Gaurasundar setting the foundational piers

 

deck.JPG

the deck construction

 

hw.JPG

the hardwood pile

 

cab.JPG

cabinets in Deity's room/pujari room

Syama Gopala Dasa - October 29, 2007 7:43 pm

it looks like some more trees were cut down close to the strawberry patch and towards the trail down to CH, true?

Citta Hari Dasa - October 30, 2007 7:39 am

Syama Gopala, we took down two firs and two madrones directly below the fruit trees, and a bunch of small scrub oaks below the strawberry beds.

Guru-nistha Das - October 31, 2007 2:54 pm

We haven't heard anything from Guru Maharaja after he called about a week ago. I'm getting anxious to hear what's going on with the Radha-Damodhara land negotiations. I was listening to the talks Guru Maharaja gave in Vrindavana this year while I was driving back from getting lumber from Ukiah and taking Prema back to the bus station, and that really got me more excited about getting the land.

 

This might not seem like anything worth reporting to you guys, but I got milk out of Sukhi! Anybody who knows how wild she used to go when he was caught knows that this is a real victory. To be honest with you, still a month ago I was sure this would never happen but Guru Maharaja was optimistic so I kept feeding her in the head catch and little by little proceeded to try to milk her. And yesterday I was actually able to get something out (only about a tablespoon though :Big Grin: )

 

The weather has been really unpredictable foro the past couple of days and I'm worried that it'll start raining for real. We have all the decking lumber outside (covered of course) and we can't really stain them if the weather is like this. Citta Hari and Mayapur are lucky, they don't need to worry about the weather one bit (plus they have a stove!).

Citta Hari Dasa - October 31, 2007 4:56 pm

I got an email from Guru Maharaja last night. Very short, and he said "Tell everyone the land deal here has been stalled due to new Government laws. So we are on hold at this time and off to Jaipur this morning (I think)."

 

So pray that the land deal goes well!

Syamasundara - October 31, 2007 5:38 pm

Stalled as in what? The rest of the stay is just gonna be a pilgrimage? Which is good, by the way; I am already thinking of the classes...

Or maybe it's something that can be solved within days?

Prema-bhakti - October 31, 2007 6:32 pm
I got an email from Guru Maharaja last night. Very short, and he said "Tell everyone the land deal here has been stalled due to new Government laws. So we are on hold at this time and off to Jaipur this morning (I think)."

 

So pray that the land deal goes well!

 

Bummer. :Big Grin:

Vivek - October 31, 2007 7:30 pm

I hope it is not because of citizenship issues. Maybe there is something to do with Indian citizenship.

Citta Hari Dasa - November 2, 2007 3:45 am

More news from Guru Maharaja:

 

"Things have taken a turn for the better here. We have life leased the land or $25000 with option to renew, which is exactly what we collected from the congregation's initial enthusiasm for the project. The government still needs to grant permission, but it is 99.9% sure that they will. So at this point it appears that we have the land and at a price we can afford and the deal has been sealed before Radha Damodara. The life lease will work out fine and it also gets us into the entire Radha Damodara seva. For example, they sevaites there will allow us to cook for Radha Damodara, lead arati, etc. This makes me the first Western devotee to ever lease land from Jiva Goswami and Radha Damodara. Regarding the option to renew, that responsibility will depend on with the nature of the relationship we establish with the sevaites. On this I do not foresee any problem, as we will be intimately intertwined with the seva of RD, Srila Prabhupada and Sri Rupa Goswami. Over all it's a long story as to why we chose this option, but it should suffice to say that it was my choice after looking at all the options. I am satisfied. Mission accomplished!"

 

Swami

 

Wow! Incredible! How lucky we are to be in such company.

Syamasundara - November 2, 2007 4:03 am
:Hypnotized::Applause::Party::dance:
Syamasundara - November 2, 2007 4:31 am

Offering arati to Radha-Damodara... I am still spell bound. How could they "give in" so fast? The Lord couldn't show his favor to GM any more directly. Still, I feel like expressing all my gratitude to Giri maharaja for being instrumental to all this.

And of course, all glories to our merciful landlords! Jaya Vrndavanesvari Radhe! Jaya Damodara!

 

 

 

http://www.radhadamodarmandir.com/six-gosw...ha-damodar.html

870RadhaDamodarVrin.jpg

Prema-bhakti - November 2, 2007 3:30 pm
On this I do not foresee any problem, as we will be intimately intertwined with the seva of RD, Srila Prabhupada and Sri Rupa Goswami. Over all it's a long story as to why we chose this option, but it should suffice to say that it was my choice after looking at all the options. I am satisfied. Mission accomplished!

 

Swami

 

Wow! Incredible! How lucky we are to be in such company

 

Amazing! :Hypnotized: Truly a special benediction. :Applause:

Nanda-tanuja Dasa - November 2, 2007 4:40 pm

Wonderful news indeed! After what I’ve seen in Vrindavan I have no doubt that Guru Maharaja has blessings and love of Srimati Radharani and he will have the land no problem.

What does "life lease" means? Life of whom? A person, a mission?

Braja-sundari Dasi - November 2, 2007 4:52 pm
Mission accomplished!"

 

Swami

 

:Party::Hypnotized::Applause::dance:

Tadiya Dasi - November 2, 2007 6:09 pm

Jaya! :dance:

 

:Hypnotized::Applause:

Bhrigu - November 2, 2007 8:26 pm

This is very exciting news!

Gandiva Dasi - November 3, 2007 1:45 am
:Hypnotized: Truly great news! Thanks to Maharaj and all of your sincerity !
Vamsidhari Dasa - November 3, 2007 3:49 am

WOW! I AM SPEECHLESS, PERHAPS I WILL JUST :Applause::dance::Party::Cow: :Cow: :Cow: :Cow: :Cow: :Cow: :Cow: :Cow: :Cow: :Cow: :Cow:

GURU MAHARAJA RULES! :Hypnotized:

Guru-nistha Das - November 3, 2007 2:47 pm

Latest pics from the temple.

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Caitanya-daya Dd - November 3, 2007 6:24 pm

jaya jaya jaya!!!

Madan Gopal Das - November 4, 2007 12:16 am
Latest pics from the temple.

Wow, that's gonna be beautiful Mistah Nistha! I didn't realize the deck would be so big! It will complement the temple so nicely...

Guru-nistha Das - November 4, 2007 2:29 am
I didn't realize the deck would be so big!

 

Me neither! :Hypnotized:

 

Guru Maharaja's idea for it being so big is that the overflow of big crowds on future festivals can paticipate from the deck, go cool down and so on. Also, we've been able to set prasad only for about 40 guests inside the temple room, so if/when the crowds get bigger, the deck will serve as a great area for that.

Syamasundara - November 4, 2007 7:19 am

It looks big enough to have a summer class on, like we are doing on the deck up top on medium size festivals. Is it all around? I like the idea of the kirtan going around the temple on Janmastami (or whenever), but we only did it once in Eugene.

Citta Hari Dasa - November 4, 2007 4:51 pm

The deck is going to be like the velvet upon which a jewel is displayed--very complimentary indeed!

 

Syama: Yes, the deck goes all the way around the building. On the Northern (with the entryway) and Western (the right as seen from the bath house) sides it's only 4 feet wide, though, so a kirtana would get all stretched out. I think GM had it more in mind for parikrama during japa.

 

The Eastern side is the biggest--16 feet wide (measured away from the buliding) and 41 feet long. Plenty big for a summer class!

Vamsidhari Dasa - November 5, 2007 3:36 am

I absolutely love the big deck and having a big velvet cover would not be bad either when Their Lordship would come out to take some sun or cool down in the shade. . WOW! :Hypnotized:

Citta Hari Dasa - November 6, 2007 2:17 am

Yes, Guru Maharaja mentioned once that it will be nice to take the Deities outside in the nice weather. Krsna-Balarama sunning themselves and taking in the view. Stunning!

Philip Breakenridge - November 6, 2007 3:46 am

Wow!!! When I reflect upon all that GM is accomplishing, it makes me think of Srila Prabhupada and what he was able to do by means of his powerful sakti.

 

Associating with GM and his disciples makes this miserable birth worth it. :Hypnotized:

Syamasundara - November 11, 2007 3:47 am

I am a godasa, and today I brought this definition to perfection. :Cow: Actually it started yesterday, Audarya-lila and I arrived around 4 with bhoga for the deities and for the cows. I bought chickpeas for Dharma, lettuce for all, and after sandhya-arati I made cow laddus with jaggery and puffed rice. Oh, I also bought turmeric and kunkuma to decorate the cows. Indra provided copious rain to bathe them, so we "skipped" that and I tried my best to print my turmericky hands on the buddies' flanks and paint their horns and foreheads. Boy they look good, with their short marigold garlands and handprints all over; I made many devotees happy. ;) Only, my hands look humongous on them, next year we'll get a child, but they still look quite divine.

Oh, on the way over I learned that GM wanted me to make a gobar (cow dung) govardhana, or, to be precise, govardhano-dhara lila. The original plan was to put the big Giriraja on the Krsna-Balarama rock and bathe him there and worship Sridama, but again, Indra wanted to make up for his previous offenses, as GM put it, so he really wanted the cows to be thoroughly washed. We brought the ceremony inside. I made my giridhari on a piece of plywood. I am sure pictures will be posted soon. We put a small govardhana sila on the belly of the cow dung giridhari, and we bathed him like that. Sridama circumambulated him with us, he also blessed the temple several times with urine and dung.

Then we had a talk, well, GM did all the talking, one of the most esoteric ones, I really couldn't do it justice. Let's just say he analyzed the meaning of Dipavali, that was last night, of rain and worshiping the god of rain, of Govardhana of course, and of the ocean of milk. You should be curious enough by now.

To sum it up in a sutra: turn on the light, become like water, and then like a cow.

 

Govardhana could also be translated as "increasing the number of brahmanas", so GM decided to give mantra diksa to Gaurasundara and Mayapurcandra, and my heart is full of joy. :Hug:

After whispering the most important of our gayatris in their right ears, he blessed them with his right hand on their heads.

 

All glories to Nitaisundara prabhu, who missed everything due to his cooking seva.

 

Oh, this morning GM read a description of the glories of Govardhana by Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura, and Gaura Nitai showed off their brand-new cow outfit, of course.

The temple building is also coming along pretty nice. Please someone post pictures of everything.

Rati is really beautiful, she is sharing the bigger pen with her mother alone and she looks very peaceful.

Vrindaranya Dasi - November 13, 2007 9:45 am

[Note: I plan to post pictures from India as soon as I'm done preparing for the upcoming Costa Rica trip.]

 

Sri Sri Gaura-Nitai's gorgeous new bronze cows and special cow outfit! [i hope someone got a close-up...this picture doesn't do justice.]

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Our Govardhana Hill, crafted by Syamasundara prabhu:

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Circumambulation:

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The bulls (unfortunately before they got their flashy turmeric markings):

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Jiva-daya Dasa - November 13, 2007 2:17 pm

Thank you Syamasundara and Vrindaranya Prabhus for the pics and for sharing about the festival. I love the bronzes cows! Can't wait to hear the talks someday on cd.

Syamasundara - November 13, 2007 2:40 pm

Aniyor, aniyor!!

 

By the way, Dhira lalita sketched the gopa and gopi for me.

 

The buddies are so beautiful, they should wear garlands like that at any chance. I also think it's time for seva to wear braces, or let's say a turban, like an 8 shaped cloth tight around his horns, so they grow upward, before he ends up like dharma.

Mayapurcandra Das - November 13, 2007 4:50 pm

more pics from festival

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bulls with flashy turmeric markings ;)

 

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Guru Maharaja during the class

 

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bronze cow

Citta Hari Dasa - November 13, 2007 11:21 pm

The altar was one of the classiest we've put together yet. So tasteful--the bronze cows, all real flowers, stone and copper vases, bamboo backdrop. This is just the beginning--we're going to take it to a whole other level with the final altar. Don't miss it on Gaura-Purnima!

Philip Breakenridge - November 16, 2007 12:00 am

I love the Lords' new outfits!!! I can't wait to see Them over Christmas. :dance:

Caitanya-daya Dd - November 16, 2007 7:46 am

i took pics--will post them shortly :-)

Caitanya-daya Dd - November 16, 2007 9:27 pm
Guru-nistha Das - November 17, 2007 4:25 am

I dropped Guru Maharaja, Vrindaranya and Nitai off at the SFO yesterday afternoon. While drving back towards the hills of Philo and trying to adjust to the idea that I wouldn't see Guru Maharaja in three months, I was listening to a lecture that he gave at Prema Sarovara in Vrindavana last winter. In the course of talking about the separation between Radha and Krsna he told how the separation between the guru and the student can be seen as a reflection of the former and then he told how Srila Prabhupada had stayed in Los Angeles for three months and how Guru Mahraja had gotten extremely attached to Prabhupada during that time, and when a devotee informed Guru Maharaja one day that Prabhupada would be leaving in a couple of days, he fell into a trance.

It was an interesting coincidence that I happened to put on this talk just at that time. It really made me reflect my own situation and think of how the kind of attachment that Guru Maharaja had for Prabhupada is the whole essence and cornerstone of Gaudiya Vaishnavism.Guru Maharaja gave a mind-blowing talk a month or so ago where he was explaining how in our sadhaka dehas, a guru who is a bhava bhakta can be the role model whose raga we follow, just as Rupa Manjari or Subala are role models in the Krsna-lila. And just by observing him and indentifying with him we will gradually start to feel what he's feeling and follow in the wake of his bhava. Real attachment to the guru is not a mental thing. It must be grounded on a spiritual level and we can't attain it without leaving our separate interests and attachments behind.

 

I wish I could have such an intense attachment. I wasn't falling into trance after leaving the airport, the only thing I was nearly falling while speeding on 101 was asleep. But I do feel separation of course. I would've loved to go and pioneer for Guru Maharaja in Costa Rica. I got a good tip from Vrindaranya, though. She said that the best remedy for separation is to throw yourself into service. That will keep me connected.

Citta Hari Dasa - November 17, 2007 3:20 pm

Excellent post, Guru Nistha! Your reflections on separation and identification were well put--we can all benefit by thinking deeply about what you've written here.

Bijaya Kumara Das - November 17, 2007 4:52 pm
More news from Guru Maharaja:

 

"Things have taken a turn for the better here. We have life leased the land or $25000 with option to renew, which is exactly what we collected from the congregation's initial enthusiasm for the project. The government still needs to grant permission, but it is 99.9% sure that they will. So at this point it appears that we have the land and at a price we can afford and the deal has been sealed before Radha Damodara. The life lease will work out fine and it also gets us into the entire Radha Damodara seva. For example, they sevaites there will allow us to cook for Radha Damodara, lead arati, etc. This makes me the first Western devotee to ever lease land from Jiva Goswami and Radha Damodara. Regarding the option to renew, that responsibility will depend on with the nature of the relationship we establish with the sevaites. On this I do not foresee any problem, as we will be intimately intertwined with the seva of RD, Srila Prabhupada and Sri Rupa Goswami. Over all it's a long story as to why we chose this option, but it should suffice to say that it was my choice after looking at all the options. I am satisfied. Mission accomplished!"

 

Swami

 

Wow! Incredible! How lucky we are to be in such company.

 

No doubt the sevaites accomplished their goal also. They made a request for me to ask Guru Maharaja to become resident Guru in Oct-Nov of 1996

Prema-bhakti - November 17, 2007 4:57 pm
Excellent post, Guru Nistha! Your reflections on separation and identification were well put--we can all benefit by thinking deeply about what you've written here.

 

Yes, sweet post TC!! Separation is soooo hard and it forces us to dig deep.

Bijaya Kumara Das - November 17, 2007 5:13 pm
The altar was one of the classiest we've put together yet. So tasteful--the bronze cows, all real flowers, stone and copper vases, bamboo backdrop. This is just the beginning--we're going to take it to a whole other level with the final altar. Don't miss it on Gaura-Purnima!

Yes and who desiqned the lamp above them? what a nice focal, it adorns them well

Citta Hari Dasa - November 18, 2007 2:47 am
Yes and who desiqned the lamp above them? what a nice focal, it adorns them well

 

The wall sconces are some copper ones Guru Maharaja found online. They're being used in the altar and the temple room. Who designed them I don't know.

Syamasundara - November 19, 2007 1:42 am

Nice pics Caitanya daya. Does anyone know what application is used to make those youtube videos that are actually a slideshow with sound?

Mayapurcandra Das - November 22, 2007 3:56 am

few more new pics from Audarya

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the deck starts to look really good-Guru-nistha and Gaurasundar working like real pro team :ph34r:

 

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shelving in our new pantry room-it is a lot of space for bhoga, especially if we compar this to what we have now in the office :dance:

Vamsidhari Dasa - November 22, 2007 4:09 pm

Wow! Grae job guys you rule!

Syama Gopala Dasa - November 23, 2007 7:09 pm

awesome!!!

Vrindaranya Dasi - November 27, 2007 2:27 pm

More pictures of the deck progress and Rati beti would be great!

Gaurasundara Das - November 28, 2007 4:09 am

heres some pictures of the deck as of today. we will be done installing the east side tomorrow. also included is a pic of the rain chain holes. we've definitly had the weather on our side the last little while :Party:

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Syamasundara - November 28, 2007 4:54 am

I had been meaning to ask, you seem to be using wooden pegs for nails? Cool

By rainchain you mean an actual chain along which the rain would flow without making nasty noises, or it's a technical term?

Has CH already left?

Citta Hari Dasa - November 28, 2007 3:58 pm
I had been meaning to ask, you seem to be using wooden pegs for nails? Cool

By rainchain you mean an actual chain along which the rain would flow without making nasty noises, or it's a technical term?

Has CH already left?

 

 

No, I fly out of SFO on Dec. 4th.

 

The plugs cover the screws that hold the decking down.

 

Rain chain is actual chain, yes. It comes in many different styles. If you're interested check out rainchains.com.

 

.

Vamsidhari Dasa - November 29, 2007 7:06 pm

OMG, OMG this looks so beautiful. What is this "whole" in the deck?

Vrindaranya Dasi - November 30, 2007 2:10 pm

The hole for the rain chain looks beautiful.

Gaurasundara Das - December 7, 2007 5:24 pm

Here are some recent pics of little Rati ( aka Ratunia, Ratoushka, Ratoushenka)

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Vrindaranya Dasi - December 8, 2007 5:16 pm

Nectar. Thank you.

Vamsidhari Dasa - December 8, 2007 11:37 pm

:Just Kidding: how come she gets to have Polish nicknames? :)

Tadiya Dasi - December 9, 2007 11:01 am

Oh, she's the cutest little thing! :Just Kidding:

Babhru Das - December 9, 2007 1:49 pm

She is such a sweetie! Thanks for sharing these pictures.

Braja-sundari Dasi - December 12, 2007 5:12 pm
:D how come she gets to have Polish nicknames? :)

 

She has even more... Ratunka, Ratuncha (with soft 'n' in both), Ratuhna :)

Vamsidhari Dasa - December 13, 2007 4:31 am
She has even more... Ratunka, Ratuncha (with soft 'n' in both), Ratuhna :)

:) the Poles have taken our herd and Polinized it! :D

Syamasundara - December 13, 2007 6:31 am

Or pollinated!

 

Soon they will be black cows, with burgundy dots, grazing the grass and shaking their heads!

 

(The poles know what I am talking about :D )

Braja-sundari Dasi - December 13, 2007 7:33 am
Or pollinated!

 

Soon they will be black cows, with burgundy dots, grazing the grass and shaking their heads!

 

(The poles know what I am talking about :D )

 

Do you mean: czarna krowa w kropki bordo gryzla trawe krecac morda?

I`m sure they will not mind grazing the grass. And color is not so important :) : :)

Syamasundara - December 13, 2007 4:26 pm
Do you mean: czarna krowa w kropki bordo gryzla trawe krecac morda?

 

Dassright.

 

And color is not so important :) : :D

 

Oh yeah? Tell Krsna.

Guru-nistha Das - December 15, 2007 4:56 am

The phone rang when we were having breakfast this morning. I answered and heard Guru Maharaja's voice. It's always special when he calls. He sounded really excited, they had spent their first night camping out on the property and he was telling how they woke up to the shouts of the howler monkeys that were right by the tents. Don Emel's (ex-landowner) cows came and grazed on the site in the morning where their tents were set up and Guru Mahraja said that he took it as a really auspicious sign, a go-darshana on the first morning on the property.

 

Two months before Guru Maharaja comes back. Serving in separation has already taught me a lot. When you are in charge, you are forced to think for yourself, make decisions and stay focused, because right now there are so many things happening at the same time that losing focus would have very negative effects.

Also, separation makes certain sentiments stronger, like the feeling of dependence on the guru. We started singing Sri Guru-Vandana in the morning program in Guru Maharaja's absence and certain lines in it have really come to life for me.

Like the line guru-mukha-padma-vakya cittete koriya aikya: Make the teachings emanating from the lotus mouth of our spiritual master one with your heart.

I've been meditating on it how that's what we need to come to if we want to have a true connection with our guru. We can't have any difference between our deepest aspirations and view of reality, and our guru's mind (where his teachings are coming from). His desires have to become our desires, because his desires are completely in line with Bhagavan's desires. Yasya prasad bhagavad prasada. It's not just a dogma, it totally makes sense!

Of course it's the hardest thing to actually do. Guru's desires means no desires. First we can just repose our materially colored sentiments on the guru and make progress, but it can't go on like that forever. We are the ones that have to change, not that we just find a guru who fits our psychological disposition and then we can live a happy human life because Gurudeva will be there if things go sour. It's not about us. It's all about everything not being about us and that's possible only by making our hearts one with the message and feeling that comes through in the guru's words.

 

Ah, I got excited. Time to go to sleep. Babhru is arriving tomorrow and I can't be dozing off when driving to pick him up from Santa Rosa. It's going to be great having him here! We'll finally get some real-time answers for the troubling sections in Jaiva-Dharma. Good night.

Zvonimir Tosic - December 15, 2007 6:17 am
I've been meditating on it how that's what we need to come to if we want to have a true connection with our guru. We can't have any difference between our deepest aspirations and view of reality, and our guru's mind (where his teachings are coming from). His desires have to become our desires, because his desires are completely in line with Bhagavan's desires. Yasya prasad bhagavad prasada. It's not just a dogma, it totally makes sense!

 

:D:)

 

Ys, Z

Syamasundara - December 15, 2007 6:42 am
Don Emel's (ex-landowner) cows came and grazed on the site in the morning where their tents were set up and Guru Mahraja said that he took it as a really auspicious sign, a go-darshana on the first morning on the property.

 

It is indeed a good omen, Vedically speaking. Once I read a whole list of good and bad omens, and meeting a cow on your path if you are undertaking something important was a good one. Well, this is an easy one.

 

Keep the news coming, bhai.

Vamsidhari Dasa - December 15, 2007 7:22 pm

WOW Gurunistha that was so sweet. Made all my hair stand on ends just by reading it. I can't wait to come up and sing Sri Guru-Vandana with you. Hari Hari Bol!!!!!

Nitaisundara Das - December 23, 2007 9:18 pm

Great reflection Gurunishta

Gaurasundara Das - December 27, 2007 5:23 pm

Deck update: south side

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deck2.jpg

Gaurasundara Das - December 27, 2007 5:33 pm

Its really cool having Babhru here with us now. He's been giving classes from The Nectar of Devotion in the morning and evenings. We have been going through it section by section and Babhru Prabhu has been supplementing it with the commentaries of Sri Jiva and Visvanatha .The classes are also full of stories from back in the day in Hawaii and LA, and lots of really sweet memories of Srila Prabhupada (and great stories about Guru Maharaj as well). Thanks Babhru!!

Babhru Das - December 27, 2007 6:37 pm

Well, the pleasure's mine. I'm happy to finally be here (despite the cold and the tugs on heartstrings from family). And I think the classes will be even more fun when we can figure out where my books are.

 

The devotees here are really nice, and they work really hard for the pleasure of Swami and their Lordships. I think the deck looks really cool, and it looked even better yesterday, when it was sunny outside. Today it's cloudy and freezing (literally--it's 10:34 am, and the temperature outside is still 32F).

Babhru Das - December 28, 2007 4:32 am

I can't say I have much hope that I'll get used to the weather--cold and wet. And it's really cold for a guy who was spoiled by Hawaii's weather 40 years ago. However, the company of the devotees here makes up for it, and the service I do in support of their working on the temple makes it all worthwhile. Along with cooking and Deity service, I've also been able to work in the garden (yesterday, when there was some sun) and engage in cow seva (read: shoveling, but don't tell my dad!). Audarya is an oasis indeed, and we all owe a great debt to Swami and those who helped him realize this vision.

Syamasundara - January 22, 2008 2:33 am

Wow, the last Audarya daily was last year!!

 

How is the temple coming along? Who has been there recently?

Guru-nistha Das - January 22, 2008 5:08 pm

14.1.2008

The deck is finally finished. The project turned out to be way more involved that we had thought. When Guru Maharaja left to India in the end of October, I confidently told him at the airport that we will be done with the whole deck when he comes back on the 2nd week of November. Two months later...

 

1.15.2008

I've really come to understand why Christian monasteries call themselves the Brotherhood. We serve night and day back-to-back, share our meals, tolerate each others' quirks and enjoy the good sides, and when I see Mayapur and Gaurasundara putting themselves into their worship, showing up to the programs every day, even just goofing around and giving their Dinesh Gupta imitations, I really feel a strong brotherly connection to them. I may be the TC and sometimes a little over-bearing, but we work as a team and support each other.

 

1.16.2008

Citta Hari is coming back and Babhru is going out at the same time. I say byebyes to Babhru at Agni's Govinda's and drive to Vamsi's since Citta's flight is landing at 12:09 AM and I have to relax a little before driving back to Audarya in the night.

Mid-night at the airport, just me and the cleaning ladies, I find out Citta's flight is canceled.

 

1.17.2008

The foreman is back. Citta tells stories from Costa Rica and makes me want to turn the bumper back toward south and drive to Costa Rica.

I'm excited to have Citta back. It's time for the last push before the opening and we don't even seem to need to panic about the timeline, which is just great.

 

1.20.2008

We've assessed the situation with the temple and planned on how to proceed. We've gotten more supplies and done some testing on the plaster formula. Citta has been recovering from sleepdeprivation and fighting a cold.

Jagadishvara and Dhira-lalita come and Jagad and Citta jump into adding more outlets for the kitchen and Dhira and myself start putting up this cool earthy wallpaper. Gaurasundara cooks a great lunch of yeasted katchoris, thai-subji and chocolate halva (did I ever tell you Mayapur and Gaura have turned out to be excellent cooks? They are pretty much putting me into shame every day).

 

1.21.2008

More planning. I cook the worst soup I've ever done (don't use frozen zucchini for anything other than muffins). The contrast to yesterday's meal is painstaking. Citta works on the stovetops and getting the kitchen ready for the countertop installation, Gaura and Mayapur stain jambs and frames, Citta puts on a third coat of compound to make the walls ready for paint.

We're still offline but were able to beg for some extra dial-up time from the provider.

Syamasundara - January 22, 2008 5:36 pm
:Whistle::):P:Hug: :Hug: :Hug: :Hug:
Braja-sundari Dasi - January 22, 2008 6:29 pm

And how about Rati and Adbhuta? :Whistle:

Syama Gopala Dasa - January 22, 2008 7:28 pm

"It's time for the last push before the opening and we don't even seem to need to panic about the timeline, which is just great."

 

I had to smile while reading this, especially after your 1/14 entry. :Whistle:

Zvonimir Tosic - January 22, 2008 10:08 pm
14.1.2008

System is booting up .. it's European kernel ...

 

1.15.2008

Now the kernel took American interface again :Whistle:

Funny!

Syamasundara - January 23, 2008 6:23 am
System is booting up .. it's European kernel ...

Now the kernel took American interface again :)

Funny!

 

 

Come again? :Whistle:

Syamasundara - January 23, 2008 6:26 am
1.17.2008

The foreman is back. Citta tells stories from Costa Rica and makes me want to turn the bumper back toward south and drive to Costa Rica.

 

And he hasn't shared yet? Why don't you go to Brahma's on the way back from shopping, tell him everything and type it for us, too? :Whistle:

Babhru Das - January 24, 2008 10:56 pm
1.15.2008

I've really come to understand why Christian monasteries call themselves the Brotherhood. We serve night and day back-to-back, share our meals, tolerate each others' quirks and enjoy the good sides, and when I see Mayapur and Gaurasundara putting themselves into their worship, showing up to the programs every day, even just goofing around and giving their Dinesh Gupta imitations, I really feel a strong brotherly connection to them. I may be the TC and sometimes a little over-bearing, but we work as a team and support each other.

I really appreciate this comment. I also found a deep sense of brotherhood, of family, while at Audarya. I'm terribly impressed by Guru-nistha's gentleness in dealing with his managerial responsibilities, almost as much as by his competence and dedication. There's a genuine sweetness, a genuine affection, among the monks at Audarya. Gaurasundara and Mayapura Chandra work pretty much incessantly to help realize Swami's vision of Audarya, especially the Gaura-vijaya Temple. And the good nature with which they approach the work is infectious. And the monks' regularity in their worship is inspiring. As Guru-nistha says, they're there every day and every evening, ready to go. It's wonderful to behold.

 

1.16.2008

Citta Hari is coming back and Babhru is going out at the same time. I say byebyes to Babhru at Agni's Govinda's and drive to Vamsi's since Citta's flight is landing at 12:09 AM and I have to relax a little before driving back to Audarya in the night.

Mid-night at the airport, just me and the cleaning ladies, I find out Citta's flight is canceled.

What a day. On the way into Santa Rosa, Guru-nishta asked me how I felt about leaving Audarya and returning to Florida for a bit. My answer: "Not particularly happy." I think leaving Audarya was harder for me than leaving our home in Hawaii. As I packed my shilas earlier that day, Guru-nishta called out, "Bye, boys!" I squeaked out, "We're coming back! We like cow smells, cow noises, and cow stories!" What I did enjoy was the company of the Santa Rosa contingent. I was really happy to spend some time with Jagadish, Dhira, Agni, and Ratna. I'm grateful for the kindness they all showed me, which made leaving even sadder, and my determination to return ASAP even stronger. Jagadish and Dhira showed slide shows of Audarya del Sur, which got us all excited to get down there (especially combined with the frigid NoCal winter weather). I've neglected to write everyone in SR to thank them for their kindness. Thank you all.

 

And I was really getting tired of just missing everyone else. I almost convinced myself that Swami would probably show up on the flight with Citta Hari.

 

Please pray that I can wrap things up here quickly and get, as Swami says, back home to Audarya and my service.

Syamasundara - January 24, 2008 11:27 pm

Will you be there for the festival?

Babhru Das - January 24, 2008 11:39 pm

I fully intend to return well before the festival and to be there as part of the staff.

Madan Gopal Das - January 24, 2008 11:42 pm

Babhru prabhu, you are welcome to come see Swami on his way back from CR. He'll be in NC from 2/13-2/18. We'll feed you, transport you, etc. Come on up if you can!

Guru-nistha Das - January 25, 2008 2:13 am

2/13-2/18??? what WHAT!?! :Whistle:

Madan Gopal Das - January 25, 2008 2:26 am

I feel for you buddy. :Whistle::):P That's what we're doing for the six months in between visits while you have GM.

Babhru Das - January 25, 2008 3:53 pm
Babhru prabhu, you are welcome to come see Swami on his way back from CR. He'll be in NC from 2/13-2/18. We'll feed you, transport you, etc. Come on up if you can!

 

I expect (well, at least really hope!) to be back at Audarya by then, but if I'm not, I'll take you up on that.

Guru-nistha Das - February 7, 2008 5:09 am

Some recent advances in the temple:

 

The counter tops are installed! Beautiful brownish silestone tops for Radharani's room.

The temple room is close to being plastered.

All the trim (which is a lot) has been sanded and stained.

All the under house plumbing has been done and most of the above floor plumbing as well.

The cabinets have been oiled and the shelves have been put on.

 

Right now we are waiting for a vise in the mail so we can start threading the gas line pipes. Today Citta drew the initial drawings for the altar and scanned them to Guru Maharaja and we put up tracks for the track lighting in the kitchen and in the prasad hall. Mayapur and Gaurasundara put up the shelves for the cabinets.

Tomorrow we'll start ripping boards for the kitchen island countertop and hopefully the vise will come too. also, Citta went to get a bunch of slates from San Fran so we'll have to figure out when to rent a stone cutter and start installing slates fro the backsplash of the countertops and for the stoves.

 

The atmosphere at the construction has been really good. A common goal harmonizes things nicely (if people are on the same page). On a lighter note, Mayapur made all of us crack up today by singing the 80's classic "Lady in red" to Citta Hari with his own lyrics: Cittster in whiteee. He's dancing with meee...

Syamasundara - February 7, 2008 6:44 am

Wow, I thought that half of those things had already happened! You have an intense month and a half ahead of you.

How is the acoustics in the temple room, now that it's almost done? Does some have to sponsor a sound system with headset wireless microphone? I wish I could :)

 

Now on to look for that song, that from the title doesn't sound familiar at all...

Zvonimir Tosic - February 7, 2008 7:55 am
Wow, I thought that half of those things had already happened! You have an intense month and a half ahead of you.

How is the acoustics in the temple room, now that it's almost done? Does some have to sponsor a sound system with headset wireless microphone? I wish I could :)

 

Now on to look for that song, that from the title doesn't sound familiar at all...

 

A classic :Shocked:

Chris de Burgh, Lady in red. Just search in iTunes Store and you'll recognise it.

 

I loved the story! Way to go Citta :)

Syamasundara - February 7, 2008 4:32 pm

Thanks, I forgot about that.

 

I loved the story! Way to go Citta :Shocked:

:)

Guru-nistha Das - February 7, 2008 5:59 pm

Today we will make some holes in the kitchen roof for the range ventilation. The stove tops are a feature onto themselves. Two six-burner tops, commercial quality. I never used to care about hi-tech etc. but now that it's in the context of service to Gaura-Nintai, it's qiute exciting. We'll be doing some serious festival cooking in that kitchen.

Madan Gopal Das - February 8, 2008 1:42 am

I don't know what the service load will be like proportionate to the number of people coming, but I have had a thought for some time now to organize a 24 hour kirtan schedule for maybe a couple days of the festival; Friday and Saturday... Basically, whenever there is not class or kirtan going on, a couple of devotees could keep a small (or large) bhajan going. I'm wondering what Guru Maharaj, the esteemed temple commander and all attendees think. Any interest, or is this practical?

Syamasundara - February 8, 2008 7:17 am

I am always so shy to bring these things up, but believe me, you haven't been the only one thinking about it for some time.

 

I didn't go so far as 24h kirtan, and honestly, I don't know who would take the shift in the core of the night and miss out on such days, but I do remember being bugged out last time I was at Audarya, because of something related to that.

There is a fine line between catching up among godsiblings and devotees (which is reported in the Caritamrita) and prajalpa.

On both the Ratha Yatra and Govardhana Puja I saw a lot of loving catching up, but no one thought of awaiting the beginning of the program while engaged in kirtana, and I guess I didn't have enough dynamic humility or purity to bring it up (more out of enthusiasm than criticism) because some of those devotees were my god-uncles and I am the newest kid on the block.

As good-willed as we are, things only happen when GM arrives or gives instructions. Sometimes he reminds me of those guys in the Guinness Book of World Records, pulling a loaded truck or a train. Leave that to Sri Cinmoy. We should be GM's strength, support, inspiration, source of pride, and even then we'll never be able to repay our debt.

 

If the next Gaura Purnima is going to sign the beginning of a new era, let it be in the name of what I've just said; but actually, the new era has started 522 years ago.

The Hari-nama sankirtana is a yajna, and yajna, or sacrifice means love. If it's not an expression of that kind of love what binds us to one another, so much that we can't wait to see each other again, and to the deities, and GM, then what is it?

 

And while I'm on a roll, let me reiterate that it would be perfect if no one came with a guest attitude. We are going to have plenty of pujaris, cooks, singers, players, garlanders, cleaners, etc. to make the best abhisekha, feast, decorations, etc., and the least that someone can do, if they are momentarily out of engagement, is to take part in the kirtan. Let Gaura Nitai, and Krsna Balarama be the audience of us.

When Narottama dasa Thakura celebrated the first Gaura Purnima ever, the kirtan was so pure and powerful, that the Panca Tattva manifested, visible to some, and circumambulated the deity together with the rest of the huge kirtan.

We shouldn't aim for anything less than that. I've had that kind of enthusiasm for weeks, and I'm praying that it will only increase. Unfortunately, after so much talking, I don't really have any good example to give, but I did ask my landlord if he has a keyboard with headphones, so I can hope to learn how to play the harmonium while leading a kirtan, instead of making the harmonium player guess where I am going (there is only one Vinodavani).

Prema-bhakti - February 8, 2008 6:00 pm
And while I'm on a roll, let me reiterate that it would be perfect if no one came with a guest attitude. We are going to have plenty of pujaris, cooks, singers, players, garlanders, cleaners, etc. to make the best abhisekha, feast, decorations, etc., and the least that someone can do, if they are momentarily out of engagement, is to take part in the kirtan. Let Gaura Nitai, and Krsna Balarama be the audience of us.

When Narottama dasa Thakura celebrated the first Gaura Purnima ever, the kirtan was so pure and powerful, that the Panca Tattva manifested, visible to some, and circumambulated the deity together with the rest of the huge kirtan.

We shouldn't aim for anything less than that.

 

Nice!

Madan Gopal Das - February 8, 2008 7:11 pm
I am always so shy to bring these things up, but believe me, you haven't been the only one thinking about it for some time.

1. I certainly don't want to take away from devotees "catching up" because I think that is a vital component of this festival and a big part of my inspiration to go; meeting so much of "the family" that I never have.

2. Shifts during the evening can be short, so everyone can get their rest. But I definitely wouldn't want anyone to miss the main program because of staying up in the night. I would say from times I've been around other 24 hr kirtan that the late night/morning bhajans can be the sweetest.

3. I'm happy to guess where you are going on harmonium/try to be a second Vinodvani (unless of course the one and only can come!).

 

I'm guessing that this may not be practical, but I would just really like to see lots of us chanting together, and I love to be part of it.

Prema-bhakti - February 8, 2008 7:44 pm
I'm guessing that this may not be practical, but I would just really like to see lots of us chanting together, and I love to be part of it.

 

Nice too!

Syama Gopala Dasa - February 9, 2008 8:32 am

Madan Gopal, I would suggest emailing GM about this. If he appreciates the idea, then we should do it.

Mayapurcandra Das - February 9, 2008 5:48 pm

a few pics:

 

ctop.JPG ctop2.JPG

The counter tops in the kitchen

 

 

slint.JPG

when was really cold we slept in the temple room in front of the stove (in the middle is Gaura Krsna)

 

snow.JPG snow2.JPG

and Audarya coverd by snow

 

adb.JPG

Adbhuta

(more pics later)

Syamasundara - February 9, 2008 5:57 pm

OH my God snow! Is it the same California? I am getting sunburned every other day.

Who is on Gaura Krsna's left?

Babhru Das - February 9, 2008 5:57 pm

The kitchen's looking great! How did the stove tops work out with the counter tops?

 

:dance: But that snow . . . ?!?!? :wub:

Syamasundara - February 9, 2008 5:59 pm

So, Mayapurcandra, tell me you're gonna stay for the festival after all... :dance:

Citta Hari Dasa - February 10, 2008 1:43 am

Babhru, the stoves fit in perfectly. We just had to make some blocks to put under them to set them at the proper height.

 

I finished the plumbing under the building today; we have no leaks in the water or propane lines, which is always a plus. Tomorrow we will set tile for the wood stoves, and on Monday we'll rent a wet saw so we can intall the rest of the tiles in the kitchen, Deity, and sink rooms. After that we have a few miscellaneous items like shoe shelving in the coat room and other details, and then we will begin to install the bamboo flooring.

Braja-sundari Dasi - February 10, 2008 11:24 am
and Audarya coverd by snow

 

That`s more snow then I had in Poland this winter!

Mayapurcandra Das - February 10, 2008 6:05 pm
So, Mayapurcandra, tell me you're gonna stay for the festival after all... :dance:

 

so, my return ticket was on 18th of February -was because as Guru Maharaja wrote me, "now you can throw away yours return ticket", so it means that I'm staying in Audarya for longer, not only for festival (hopefully for ever :wub: )

 

p.s. today i'll try to do some more pics from the temple

Mayapurcandra Das - February 11, 2008 4:26 am

as i promise before, few more pics from today:

deck.JPGkit.JPG

 

deck and kitchen

 

cab.JPGkal.JPG

 

cabbage and cauliflower from our gardens

 

and finally more Adbhuta :dance:

PICT0164.JPG PICT0157.JPG PICT0062.JPG

Syamasundara - February 11, 2008 7:15 am

These cows HAVE GOT to be posing, and to know they're top models.

Syamasundara - February 12, 2008 5:33 am
I'm guessing that this may not be practical, but I would just really like to see lots of us chanting together, and I love to be part of it.

 

And it wouldn't be a bad idea to make a live recording and make an MP3 CD for those unfortunate souls who won't be able to come.

Same goes for any videos and pictures.

Bijaya Kumara Das - February 12, 2008 6:15 am

The nice dusting of snow usually cleanses the area. Doesn't it do this on occasion in Vrndavan? It helps remove all the unwanted bugs like misquitos.

Braja-sundari Dasi - February 12, 2008 10:36 am

Mayapur, is this the same cabbage and cauliflower I remember as a small plants?

Mayapurcandra Das - February 12, 2008 4:51 pm
Mayapur, is this the same cabbage and cauliflower I remember as a small plants?

 

yes, exactly the same :wub:

Mayapurcandra Das - February 13, 2008 4:40 am

yesterday Gurunistha rented a tool for cuting tiles, so it means that today we finished this job :wub:

kitchen and deity room looks really fancy ;)

Also one stove in the kitchen is done, so it is ready to cook something for the Lords

and now few pics:

t1.JPG t2.JPG t3.JPG

Madan Gopal Das - February 13, 2008 6:59 pm

Beautiful. Way to go bro's!

Syama Gopala Dasa - February 13, 2008 8:32 pm

It's amazing to see these pictures, can't wait to see it for real.

Gaurangi-priya Devi - February 14, 2008 6:36 pm

WOW WOW WOW!!!! This is beautiful. It makes me want to cook. I can't wait. :D

Guru-nistha Das - February 16, 2008 5:24 am

Vivek called here yesterday and after chatting for a while the discussion turned into association. He made some really nice points about devotee association and what it means. He said it bothers him that so many devotees get tangled up in the cultural and religious aspects of Krsna Consciousness and think that that's the sum and substance of it. He quoted the verse brahma-bhuta prasannatma from the Gita that says how bhakti is a post-liberated path and pointed out that real bhakti is on a nondual platform.

 

It's inspiring for me to hear these kinds of things from my fellow-devotees. Sure, we shouldn't fake that we are on the brahma-bhuta platform, but we shouldn't also diminish what bhakti is about in the name of being honest of where we are at. Bhakti is also yoga, it's not just some fun thing to do in the world.

 

Today when we were cleaning up the surroundings of the temple and bringing a bunch of stuff down at Citta's yurt (out of sight out of mind), I was talking with Gaurasundara how bhakti is perfectly taking the best of both worlds. It's filled with feeling, but it's also pregnant with knowledge.

 

Anyway, I know you guys know all of this already, but good things are worth repeating.

Syamasundara - February 16, 2008 7:55 am

The last sentence made me feel separation from the Bhagavatam. More than separation, hankering. Haven't read in so long.

To live the Bhagavatam is even better than reading it; what must it be to be a bhagavata.

Guru-nistha Das - February 19, 2008 4:44 am

We had a nice Nityananda Trayodasi at Audarya.

In the morning we read from the Nityananda Caritamrta by Vrindavan das Thakur about Nitai's childhood pastimes, how he left home with the travelling sannyasi and how he broke Mahaprabhu's danda. Then we sang songs about Nitai.

We cooked a feast for the noon offering, worked on the temple in the afternoon and read some more from Nityananda Caritamrta in the evening and sang more songs about Nitai.

 

I've been trying to think today how Nityananda comes to us through Sri Guru, how Nitai is the source of the bhakta abhimana that Sri Guru is trying to implant in us. Another thing that struck me in one of the songs we sang today was the line, "heno nitai bhine bhai, radha-krsna paite nai": Unless one takes shelter under the shade of the lotus feet of Lord Nityänanda, it will be very difficult for him to approach Radha-Krsna.

 

Sri Nityananda Raya ki jay!

 

The temple construction is moving along. Citta is working on the altar, Mayapur has been building shoe shelving and a coat hanger and Gaurasundara and myself have been hauling stuff down next to Citta's yurt. We are eager to start on the flooring too.

Syamasundara - February 19, 2008 6:39 am

What was the menu?

Myself, I realized this morning I forgot to buy the semolina for the halava, so I ran to the store and bought what turned out to be quick grits (parboiled cornmeal?). It came out decent, flavored with milk/citrus syrup, cashews and raisins.

 

I prefer the literal translation of that line: "Without such Nitai, there is no attaining Radha-Krsna."

 

Have the newbies got any chance to learn how to play any instrument? I won an auction on e-bay for a keyboard at $0.99 :) , really curious to see how much I can learn until the festival. :D

Guru-nistha Das - February 20, 2008 4:22 am

Palak panir sak

rice

puris

cauli pakoras

coco-mint chutney

karhi sauce

bayleaf cardamom sweetrice

chocolate cake

 

Nama-shrestam donated most of the bhoga.

 

We've had some "band practices" and Mayapur is picking up the mridanga pretty well since he's an old drummer.

Syamasundara - February 20, 2008 7:01 am

Funny, I made rice, too! Just kidding, but I did make bay leaf sweet rice (and pepper, nutmeg and lemon rind) and sak. Not like it's a game of master mind, or of any relevance. I don't know, I guess anything that makes me feel closer these days is enthusing.

 

Band practices are good. I used to look down at them, or thought I was expected to, but it's really more a matter of consciousness than the act itself. I used to think that a kirtan should be exclusively out of transportation, and it is, but at first, some practicing is in order. I am not just referring to learning to play, but to the consolidation of a particular style, just like we could hear a bhajan and know it's from Narayana maharaja's matha.

For example, the mrdanga is beautiful and very conducive to kirtana rasa, so much so that it does so even when it's not played! I mean, in some "first class" bhajans, the mrdanga is silent at first and then makes an entrance, much like Citta Hari is already doing during the morning song about Gaura's asta-kalya-lila. All I'm saying is that there is nothing wrong in saying at this point of the kirtan it's nice if we do this or that, until we just do it spontaneously or we get to know each other and then there can be transportation.

 

Another aspect of a less flat kirtan is the response. It doesn't have to be simple repeating all the time. One classical

example is (with the response between parentheses):

 

sujanarbuda-radhita-pada-yugam yuga-dharma-dhurandhara-patra-varam

(sujanarbuda-radhita-pada-yugam yuga-dharma-dhurandhara-patra-varam)

 

varada-bhaya-dayaka pujya-padam

(varada-bhaya-dayaka pujya-padam)

 

pranamami sada prabhupada padam

(pranamami sada prabhupada padam, pranamami sada prabhupada padam)

 

Ok that probably wasn't clear at all. Or even just one says jaya saci-nandana, but the response is jaya gaura-hari, over and over, in a hypnotic way, until the holy name becomes tridimensional, like when you stare at those pictures full of dots, you get lost in them, and all of a sudden you see a sail ship popping out. That's the point: make the holy name take over, and that doesn't happen just by musical skill, but it sure helps.

 

I'm so happy about the kirtan marathon; for 3 hours I won't have the anxiety that I've had for 12 years, that I am chanting for too long, that people might get bored, that they may not know a particular name or extra line... it will be just me, God and his name in the middle of the night, well, and Madan, who, I'm sure, will have no problem singing and playing along, and getting lost himself.

 

So, I guess my point all along was this: the format of kirtan is such to involve the largest number of people in congregational chanting, without too much fuss. One sings, the others respond; but if there is a 5% among the participants who gel with one another (in Italian you say "affiatati", which means they breathe the same breath), then the kirtana rasa ensues, the response is more inspired, and the 5% is inspired by the response. Bodhayantah parasparam, osmotic bhakti if you will.

 

I'd be curious to know if I've made any sense and what the others think.

 

Other than that, since I still feel that I should somehow censor myself as far as the above considerations, I'll say that a couple of weeks ago I was offering incense to my recently retrieved Radha-Vrndavanacandra. They are a little beat at the moment; they remained in someone's basement for six years, they need repainting and new outfits, yet Krsna was so enchanting with his vamsi (the longest flute) beautifying his lips and his elegant clothes, and I just told him "vamsi-vadana suvasa". I repeated that a couple of times, then I went through all the names and descriptions of that song, but without singing, just uttering them, and let me tell you, that is a potent, beautiful song, and sometimes music and musicality really get in the way.

So, what to do? I guess we need to keep our minds sharpened, exercise our sincerity and keep always alert. It's yoga after all. There is so much routine, and yet everything is always fresh and new, but only if we do everything correctly.

Madan Gopal Das - February 20, 2008 2:13 pm
I'd be curious to know if I've made any sense and what the others think.

You always make sense Syama! :)

No, seriously, I follow. I like the concept of "osmotic bhakti" :P . Gonna have to contemplate that one for a while... Looking forward to being affiatati in the kirtana rasa.

Abhay Krsna Dasa - March 8, 2008 1:49 am

Wow the temple is looking amazing!! I cant wait to see it someday soon!!!!

Syamasundara - March 8, 2008 10:47 am

Hari bol Abhaya Krsna prabhu,

 

your name sounded really new to me, and I saw in your profile that all your posts are from 2004, when I was stranded among the corn fields in Disneyland Paris, and to get online was very expensive.

I saw that you also don't have a profile, geographical location, etc. Would you mind to update that please?

Thanks.

It's unsettling to not know the members of one's family.

Abhay Krsna Dasa - March 10, 2008 2:39 am

Haribol Syamasundara!

 

Thanks you for the welcome request. Yes my name probably seems new to alot of people. Thats certainly my own fault as I have been away from devotional life for a little bit now. However I am looking to change that!! :( I used to live at Audarya when I was 19. It was the greatest. I just wish I wasnt so young and dumb and had stayed lol. But I have updated my profile. And I look forward to gaining wisdom from you all by reading your posts!!!!

Syamasundara - March 14, 2008 3:56 am

So.... one week to go....

 

Now that everyone is home, and we have the 24h kirtan down, I wonder how feasible other ideas are.

 

I remember mentioning Tulasi garlands for all the deities, but I just realized that in most places outside of San Diego it's still winter, and most Tulasi plants may not be doing too groovy, despite the lights. Or are they? Who has a lush Tulasi plant that could be engaged in this. I know of Gaura Krsna only.

 

Also, is there any hope for inaugurating the flag of our group together with the temple? Does anyone even care?

Nanda-tanuja Dasa - March 14, 2008 4:29 am

I care! We need good design. Did Kamalaksa and Swami finalize it?

Syamasundara - March 14, 2008 7:05 am

Oh, you also have Tulasi, right?

Nanda-tanuja Dasa - March 14, 2008 2:53 pm

I have Tulsi, but its still winter, so taking many leafs will kill her.

Swami - March 14, 2008 3:38 pm
Oh, you also have Tulasi, right?

 

 

We deparately need a Tulasi. Ours is not fairing well at all this winter.

Nanda-tanuja Dasa - March 16, 2008 2:57 pm

I have two Tulsi plants. I will bring one to Audarya.

Guru-nistha Das - April 17, 2008 12:24 am

A new update is long overdue again.

 

After the festival we started setting up new standards and systems in the new temple. It always takes a little while to get used to a new environment, and after finishing a two-year project, we had to kind of reorient.

It's so nice to serve the Deities in the new facility. The construction site turned into maha- Vaikuntha just like that. The kitchen standards went up, the Deities are being offered a noon arati, they are being put to rest in the afternoon and a dinner is being offered for them after they have been woken up in the late afternoon. Also the little Gaura-Nitai Deities and the Shilas are being worshiped every day.

 

We jumped on to new projects pretty much right after the festival. Vrindaranya is heading a study group for me and Nitai since Guru Mahraja has expressed a strong desire to have more preachers in his mission. Vrindaranya and I have started to give classes on the Gita in the evenings, but unfortunately we had to put it on hold for a while because we have to get the practical things done first.

 

Guru Maharaja wants to put a fence around the whole property so the cows can roam around freely. Nitai and Mayapur started that yesterday. Guru Maharaja wants to plant grass everywhere as well so that's another project we are getting into.

 

Vrindaranya has been getting the summer crops ready and planning out what to grow. She also started this "adopt-a-row" type of program where she gives each monastic a garden row to take care of this summer. We get to decide what to grow and it's a good heart exercise to be involved in all the stages of growing and offering something for Bhagavan.

 

Mayapur and Gaurasundara fixed up the old temple room, the walls were painted and we bought a desk, a coach and bookshelves and set up a writing room for Guru Maharaja. He seems to be very happy to finally have a good space for his study, receiving guests and writing.

 

The gardenbeds up top were also made ready for the summer crops.

 

Mayapur is working on the cabinets for the temple. He has learned enough carpentry to do it and he's quite efficient actually. He has finished all the boxed for the cabinets and will soon move on to make the faces.

 

Tadiya and Braja have been doing Deity service, learning how to cook, working on descriptions and transcribing, and working in the gardens.

 

Gaurasundara and I have been working in the garden below the temple, we are getting the beds ready and building new retaining walls. After that we will finish the garden fence.

 

Nitaisundara has been our plumber with Mayapur's assistence since Citta Hari left a hole in the handy man department. Nitai just solved a big problem with the bathroom water heater and is becoming a real jack of all trades.

 

So it's going on great! Busy as usual, just like Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati envisioned. :Peace:

Syamasundara - April 17, 2008 12:42 pm

I don't know what to be more happy about (OK, the grass) :Peace:

 

I wish I had forgotten this already, so I could read it again.

Babhru Das - April 17, 2008 11:00 pm

It sounds as though it's going on wonderfully! :Peace:

Gandiva Dasi - April 18, 2008 12:20 pm

"Guru Maharaja wants to put a fence around the whole property so the cows can roam around freely. Nitai and Mayapur started that yesterday. Guru Maharaja wants to plant grass everywhere as well so that's another project we are getting into."

 

That's going to be awesome!

 

Thanks for the updates, very uplifting news.

Guru-nistha Das - April 28, 2008 4:06 am

We've been offline for some time now and we should be fully back online soon.

 

Things are going good. The weaether has been great and we've been working in the gardens, getting the beds ready.

The cows are roaming free now, it's been going good minus a couple of breakouts. It's nice to hear the cows snore next to the temple in the dark in the morning when I'm going to the Mangala Arati.

 

It's late and I'll write more tomorrow but I just wanted to let you guys now that we're still alive.

Guru-nistha Das - April 29, 2008 12:07 am

Too busy to write an update today but I'll get back to you later!

Guru-nistha Das - May 8, 2008 3:47 am

BV Madhava Maharaja's visit is over and everything went really well. I picked him up at SFO and we talked a variety of subjects on the way to Audarya. He's quite a character! He must be the most enthusiastic and lively person I've ever met, it seems like his energy never wanes. He talked pretty much nonstop about cow urine treatments, composting, self-sufficient living, India, Nama-prabhu and brahmacarya, to name a few.

 

He had high regard for Guru Maharaja. He refused to give classes and was very eager to get Guru Maharaja's maha prasad. Most of the time he stayed in his yurt reading, chanting and worshiping his Krsna-Balarama shilas. Another distinguishing characteristic of his was his attachment to Tulsi devi. Personally that inspired me to try to understand her better and develop some attachment.

 

When I took him to the Berkeley temple after his visit, he was very appreciative of Audarya and kept saying what a nice place we have. He said how he wants to tell about it to his Sannyasa guru Niranjana Swami and recommend to him to visit as well.

 

I actually went with him to the Berkeley temple to attend the "Love Feast" (eeerh) but that's another story that I'll share soon.

 

 

Otherwise, right now Mayapur and Gaurasundara are building a nice looking shed for the trash cans close to the temple, Vrindaranya is working with the seedlings and plants, plus researching a bunch of new ideas about self-sufficiency, I'm still working on the retaining walls, Nitai is doing the lunch and dinner cookings with Braja or Tadiya and other than that we're doing the rest of the maintenance services.

Btw, Nandu might give a calf tonight!

Mayapurcandra Das - May 8, 2008 4:17 pm

yes, definitely BVMS he's quite a character :) he really loves Tulsi katha, chanting in Her shade, but the most he loves his Dieties Kana-Rama and Narahari Silas. He was really enthusiastic about Guru Maharaja, and almost all the time was asking for GM remnents.

So, few pics of Maharaja:

BVMS.jpg

in Audarya

KR.JPG

and his Kana-Rama

KRiM.jpg

with his Lords under the big Tulsi tree in India

Rathi Krishna Dasa - May 8, 2008 7:38 pm

I was fortunate enough to have roomed with Madhava Maharaja, then Maha Mantra dasa, at the Brooklyn temple in 1996. He certainly is a special person.

 

When he would wake up he would immediately sit straight up and start chanting verses in glorification of Govardhana. He would keep chanting when bathing in the morning and all the way to mangala-arati. He would disappear right after tulsi puja when he would go back to our room and begin his elaborate puja of of his Govardhana silas. That puja would last for hours.

 

I used to help with the Saturday program at 26 2nd Ave, where he gave classes on Mana Siksa. My friend Jaya Subhadra used to cook and I would help her. He always relished the prasad stating, "Mataji! Surely the demigods have never tasted such fine prasad!"

 

So many stories...

Gaura-Vijaya Das - May 8, 2008 11:48 pm

He has so many gurus on his altar. I can see jayaadvaita swami, RNS and maybe giriraj swami there.

Babhru Das - May 9, 2008 11:33 am
yes, definitely BVMS he's quite a character :) he really loves Tulsi katha, chanting in Her shade, but the most he loves his Dieties Kana-Rama and Narahari Silas. He was really enthusiastic about Guru Maharaja, and almost all the time was asking for GM remnents.

Yes, Maharaja is quite the character. We spent a a little time together when he visited the Big Island a couple of years ago. We sat for two or three hours in out temple room and discussed so many things, and it was quite wonderful. It has been apparent since we started corresponding several years ago that we share several affinities: Giriraja Govardhana, Tulasi-devi, Krishna and Balarama and their pals, our Krishna-Balarama Giriraja-shilas, and Swami B. V. Tripurari.

 

One sign of his regard for our Swami is in his sannyasa name. When he was preparing for sannyasa, he sought advice from our Swami, who suggested the name he now uses: Bhakti Vishrambha Madhava. Maharaja shared with me the email from Swami, which shows the same careful consideration he talked about on the conference call last Sunday.

Babhru Das - May 9, 2008 11:46 am
He has so many gurus on his altar. I can see jayaadvaita swami, RNS and maybe giriraj swami there.

Yes, that's another thing he really likes: devotees. When he was in Hawaii a couple of years ago, he took much trouble beforehand to arrange a visit to the Big Island, where there's no ISKCON presence. The reason was that he wanted to spend some time with Vidagdha Madhava and with me.

Madan Gopal Das - May 9, 2008 1:23 pm

And he is a big sakhya rasa fan... What sticks out the most in my memory is meeting him in the early 90's and him telling me with complete conviction that Prabhupada was in sakhya rasa. I had never heard anybody put forth ideas about Prabhupada's svarupa, it just wasn't really talked about in iskcon circles, but he was all over it with tons of evidence. I remember thinking that it made so much sense. He convinced me, then sure enough I was led to association that made it even more apparent.

 

Ever enthusiastic, sloka-vit, happy go lucky. Kinda like Narada muni from those funny indian movies... Jai Bhakti Visrambha Madhav Maharaj!

Guru-nistha Das - May 22, 2008 12:23 am

I've been feeling guilty about not being able to write updates lately. It's not that we don't care about you guys or anything like that, it's just very easy to lose yourself in the never-ending stream of service that we are swimming in here. It has been intense lately with the planting and getting everything ready. Guru Maharaja, Vrindaranya and I are leaving to Costa Rica in five days and the gardens have to be planted before that. It sounds like it wouldn't be a big deal, just pop the greens and seeds into the ground, but there's a lot more involved. Anyway, it's all coming together and I have a feeling it's going to be the best crop so far.

 

One day when we were carrying the plants from the greenhouse to the garden Vrindaranya made a point that we are serving the plants so that they can do their service to the Deities and in that sense our position is lower than the plants'. Servants of the servants. I really appreciated that and tried to focus on thinking about other services in the same way. Guru Mahraja was making a similiar point in his class a day before the grand opening when he was talking about cooking. He said, "you are the worst instrument in the kitchen!" I loved that one too. How amazing it would be to see the whole world like that, constantly. Humility is very attractive.

Syamasundara - May 22, 2008 2:40 am

Oh, this is just beautiful, lower than the lettuce and worse than the KitchenAid. I had the best moments both in the kitchen and in the garden, they feel so altarlike, or even more, but in the later years I seem to have lost all qualification to enter them again. At Audarya, that is. However, in my present house there is a huge kitchen and a large uncultivated garden, so I can still latch my mind onto this post.

Babhru Das - May 29, 2008 11:24 am

I'm getting an idea of why Madhava Maharaja spent so much time in his yurt on his visit. He told me his puja takes 2 1/2 hours, and I heard he chants 40 rounds daily. So a good part of his day is accounted for already.

Braja-sundari Dasi - May 31, 2008 7:20 pm

First milk from Nandu was offered to Gaura Nitai! :Cool: It wasn`t much- just a quarter of cup but... there will be more soon, we hope! :Cool:

Swami - July 3, 2008 4:45 pm

Wow! Audarya is beautiful and serene. I look forward to spending more time here after returning from Finland.

Nanda-tanuja Dasa - July 3, 2008 9:29 pm

When will you come back from Finland?

Swami - July 3, 2008 11:10 pm
When will you come back from Finland?

 

July 10th

Syamasundara - July 3, 2008 11:31 pm
Wow! Audarya is beautiful and serene. I look forward to spending more time here after returning from Finland.

 

That's nice, but what makes you say that? Anything in particular? Especially considering that from the external point of view, the view would be expected to look anything but beautiful, with fires going on or going out.

 

Welcome back nevertheless!

Nitaisundara Das - July 4, 2008 2:21 am

the fired trees are not extremely obtrusive on the fires. It looks kind of like autumn on the east coast

Nitaisundara Das - July 8, 2008 10:52 pm

The news here is it is 108 degrees Fahrenheit(thats 43 for most of you)!! Despite the auspicious implications of 108, we are burning up. :Raised Eyebrow: :Hypnotized:

The cows probably like it, being of Indian descent.

All the gardens are doing well in general but the heat is a bit much for some of the plants.

It looks like it will cool down on friday, right in line with GM's return....

Brahma Dasa - July 9, 2008 5:25 am

Look out!

 

It's supposed to be even hotter here tomorrow.

Syamasundara - July 15, 2008 1:50 am

So, who's playing mrdanga these days at Audarya? Or learning.

Syamasundara - July 25, 2008 7:23 pm

Compared to last time I came here, the trip was a piece of burfi; only thing, one hour before getting here we killed a fawn. Big trauma, I had never been exposed to death so closely. It was horrible. We drove back and chanted to it. Hopefully it died on the spot. I am reporting this because a bit of philosophical discussion ensued right after. This is maraloka, death is just all around us and it could come any time, who are we trying to kid? This whole world is dead, as soon as we are born, so to speak, we do nothing but dying every day a little more, over and over. More astounding is that we ignore it so well. The best thing to do in our rare moments of sobriety is to go to places like this. All in all, that was probably the luckiest deer of all those who got run over this week.

 

Anyway, mangala arati this morning. Nice as usual, and nice to be back home. After the arati GM read from the SB. You guessed it, the eclipse at Kuruksetra. It got recorded, but I'll just say the most important point, i.e. that in other spiritual paths one advances by vairagya, whereas in ours by sanga. Let's not forget the utmost importance and generosity of bhakti, that allows us to keep our lives just as they are (more or less) as long as we put everything in relation to seva. GM pointed out how most of Mahaprabhu's associates were family people, with the exception of a few "stiff" sannyasis, and he himself took sannyasa for all the reasons we know, yet he obeyed his mother's orders to go to Puri, and once a year, all his friends and family members (except Visnupriya and Saci) would go visit him and stay for 4 months!

I think the most wonderful thing about this is that GM could speak like this without any fear that any of us would take license and downplay the importance of detachment and renunciation. The talk ended right when Kunti Devi was about to speak... but I am not waiting until tonight. Thank God for the online Vedabase. :Thinking:

 

After the deities became unavailable, I went to see the gardens as usual, and have darsana with the non-moving devotees. Man! Those are some bountiful gardens! Considering the scarce manpower, fires and what not. I could hear silent voices crying: "Zucchini flower pakoraaaaa" "Green tomato catniiiii", but maybe it's just me. Besides the lush squash and tomato plants, I saw many varieties of eggplants, peppers, cucumbers (or bitter melon?), all kinds of berries, herbs such as coriander, fennel, mint, sage, oregano, lavender, a basil plantation, parsley, and of course flowers. The dvadasa gopala trees are also loaded with fruit.

And this is all before breakfast!

Tonight more devotees will come for the official start of the retreat, and we should see a video on a brand new wide screen Ratna bought.

The costarican pioneers are greatly missed. So far we are just Audarya-lila and family, Prahlada and family, Guruseva and Vaisnavananda, Citta Hari and family, and myself.

 

More later, I guess.

Syamasundara - July 25, 2008 11:27 pm

And guess what the movie is going to be? Nilacal Prabhu!

 

We all know it by heart, but all looking forward to it.

Syamasundara - July 26, 2008 5:09 am

"Sarvabhauma, tumi mayavadi."

 

How can you get tired of that movie?

During the show we had munchies, too: banana bread and chai.

 

The evening talk was also nice, and got also recorded. Two important points were made. The first gave me a chuckle, because it solved our dilemma about linear and cyclical vision in a few words. GM said that many criticize the cyclical vision, because it gives no scope to progress, everything is going to re-present itself, and there is no free will, but that's exactly the point: there is no progress in the samsara! The progress consists in getting out of it, whereas the linear faction thinks we are just progressing more and more, and that has given rise to huge pollution, etc, because an idea of progress based on exploitation and sense enjoyment is just suicidal.

Another topic was the same as this morning's, but with a different emphasis. This time GM said that there is no harm in loving our near and dear, especially if they are devotees, and that if in jnana marga you progress by detachment, in bhakti it's by attachment. In one sense it reminds me of the catchy slogans and best-selling books by modern-day buddhist exponents that say you can meditate and be a buddhist by remaining what you are and doing the same things as usual, but the truth is that we have much more right to preach along those lines, with so much to offer.

I was particularly happy to hear about the attachment point, because it seems that our group has grown particularly affectionate and intimate over the past two years. There are so many of my godbrothers and sisters I think and dream of almost daily during my exile in Escondido, besides my gurudeva, and that is really my greatest luck and hope of salvation. I am so indebted.

Tomorrow we may have a very sweet technological surprise, but I am not anticipating anything. Just looking forward to it.

Syamasundara - July 31, 2008 2:14 am

Let's see how much I can remember...

 

We had a talk at 10. GM sang a melody I didn't even know he knew; very sweet, I knew it from Agni's tapes, but nobody else seemed to be familiar with it, or so I guess, because at some point GM said: "Sing from the heart!" I hadn't been paying attention to how the others were singing, and as usual I took the instruction personally and started to freak out: "I thought I was already singing from the heart! So easy with this melody. Was I too loud? Too technical?"

Anyway, I endeavored to sing from the heart even more, what's the harm, but unfortunately the kirtan ended.

 

I can't quite remember what the morning talk was about, but overall the themes of his talks were that vairagya is not as important and beneficial to us as it is attachment to a Vaisnava and association; or that there is some scope for some distraction if we keep our minds well trained and on an elastic leash, so that before it's too late every topic or absorption comes back to Krsna and seva. I see this when the family reunites at every festival: most of the time besides talks, temple functions and prasada is spent in catching up and bonding. With the exception of the Audaryavasis I feel each of us could and should be much more focused in those occasions, still it's nice to just talk, even about topics that are unrelated to Krsna, and enjoy the company, because it's the company of people who share the same love for Guru and Gauranga, and the increasing affection that ensues from the time spent chilling and bonding is based on the awareness of each other's love for Sri Guru that flows like an underground stream of lava, that surfaces as soon as someone comes with some seva, or if the occasion arises to be kind or helpful to the godbrother or sister or guest we are chilling and bonding with. I've seen it personally. Lucky bunch we are.

 

The evening talk was about the Gaudiyas' pilgrimage to Puri every year to see the Lord. As GM said, after 8 years of these Ratha Yatra retreats, you have to get a bit creative, and I must say that, although what GM said was reported in the Cc, the talk was novel in many respects. It was particularly special to me because of the contents and the angle.

Years before in Eugene I was filling the baby bottles for Dharma and Bhumi with GM, and I was telling him how sometimes I think of what it must have been to embark in a one-month pilgrimage on foot, led by Nityananda and Advaita, or for the Pandavas to be exiled for 13 years, or how long it took to build the gosvamis' temples. We just read these facts while leafing through the books, but we are not really one with these personalities and their lives and happenings: we are not building our house in the scriptures.

GM seemed to appreciate that point, so I was elated to see him stressing it as well years later, especially while describing one of my favorite parts of the Cc: the pilgrimage.

He also analyzed the character of Sivananda Sena, who was a vaidya (ayurvedic doctor) and had his practice and living, yet throughout the whole year he was absorbed in organizing the pilgrimage: so many devotees, there had to be bedding, cooks, money for the toll, and he was spending most of his money in that yearly event. So endearing to read, and it brought the whole event to life.

 

Oh! I remember what the morning talk was about! The exchange between the gopis and Krsna at Kuruksetra. You have to listen to the recording. I'll just say that GM tried to render the picture Vyasa tried to convey, by saying that the Vrsnis and the Yadus converging at Kuruksetra with all their entourage and elephants were like the super V.I.Ps going to the Academy Awards, and the Vrajavasis with their caravans were like the Beverly Hillbillies of the situation :LMAO::lol:

 

Between the two talks I went and took a picture of each cow so we can finally make that family tree. :Cow::Praying: My idea was to create a webpage with the tree scheme and thumbnails of each cow's face, under which one would see the name and birth date of each; then upon clicking on the thumbnail, a bigger picture of the cow, or a series of pictures would pop up with the same info at the bottom, and maybe distinctive signs, like "Dharma. Jan 1998. Ox. Likes raw chickpeas and brushing".

However, I am not that computer-literate, Vrndaranya has most birth data and knows whose child each one is, but she is too busy, so the idea for now is to open another thread with a list of the cows' names, and everyone re-posts it with the facts they know, like with Kamalaksa's group picture.

Finally we'll need some Syama Gopala or similarly knowledgeable person to make the webpage.

 

Another thing that made my day about the evening talk was that Mayapurcandra and Gurunistha were able to follow it through skype. I had been looking forward to that. It felt like those communications via satellite with some astronauts in some shuttle.

After the class, GM turned the laptop for us to see them and be seen. They were quite effulgent. I usually get easily emotional when I see a multitude of Vaisnavas, so I am glad I wasn't in their position, seeing all my "godfamily" with their smiling faces via cam.

Then we showed the video they posted on youtube on the big screen, for those who are not on Tattva Viveka.

 

On the Ratha Yatra day we drove to SF. Audarya-lila and I got stuck in traffic, so I joined the parade in the middle.

Another thing that gets me really emotional is to hear a nama sankirtan in a distance and follow that sound and run toward it. I finally saw the carts. As others pointed out, the kirtanas in the first two carts were quite uneventful. Balabhadra was being glorified by Agni and at least 4 mrdangas all the time, plus some African drum, and two dancers. It really reminded of those Cc recounts. The other two parties had one mrdanga each.

Jayadvaita maharaja joined half-way through. Agni was chanting that song that Mahaprabhu would sing on his pilgrimage to South India (Krsna Kesava pahi mam, Rama Raghava raksa mam), but when the carts took the last turn GM told Agni: "You have to take them to Vrndavana", so Agni chanted jaya radha madhava over and over with emphasis on each name, especially Yasoda-nandana, that was being alternated with jaya saci-nandana. GM had been talking at length about Mahaprabhu as the son of Saci and how we are endebted to her. He had also been talking about the "learning curve" that some devotees sometimes have to go through, although it seems they have spun off. At some point from the side of the street, standing on a bridge banister with raised hands I saw a prodigal (to some extent) Gopa Kumara who was trying to salute us. Moments after he was with us in the kirtan with teary eyes and a contrite expression. GM finally noticed him and smiled to him. At the end of the parade he came again and bowed to the ground as GM walked by. I wanted to go hug him and make him feel welcome, but I didn't know the extent of his regret or of GM's forgiveness. Later on, GM commented to Vamsi that Gopa Kumara was there but didn't come to talk, so I ran around looking for him, but with no success. Anyway, we are free to choose between the world of justice and the world of mercy at every moment. Let's hope for the best.

 

This year they let us finish the kirtan at the end of the parade. We walked to the spot Vijaya Kumara had set up for us, and Jayadvaita maharaja followed.

That is usually the best part for me. GM is out of his "natural setting", with fixed meals, talks and seva, so everybody buzzes around him like bumblebees on a garland, trying to feed him, clothe him (it was so cold!), and tend to anything he might need. So, technically, the park at the end of the parade represented Vrndavana for Jagannatha, but for GM outside of Audarya, it was like Kuruksetra, and we got to render service in a moment of need! :dance:

GM had a stash of Siksastakams and CDs of this retreat to give out to those devotees who would come and pay their respect. He gave a copy of his book to Jayadvaita maharaja, after he told him about his idea for a future book. Maharaja read the first pages with a stern expression, and every once in a while he would raise his eyebrows, smile, and nod.

Many disciples of SP and even BS Govinda Maharaja came to pay their regards to GM, and in some cases show very deep affection.

 

The rest is just sadness, devotees leaving, eventually I got removed from there, too (luckily after GM left) and I found myself looking out of the van through the streets of San Francisco, thinking: "Who are all these people? They are not devotees. Where are the devotees?"

 

Anyway, saving for the next festival...

Bhrigu - July 31, 2008 7:14 pm

Thank you for these posts, Shyamu! Reading them, I felt closer to Audarya Dham.

Syamasundara - July 31, 2008 10:28 pm

That was the idea :)

 

Daso 'smi.

Citta Hari Dasa - July 31, 2008 10:44 pm

I second Bhrgu's sentiment. Very well done, Syamu. It was a great pleasure to have been there, on the whole.

Syamasundara - July 31, 2008 10:52 pm

Oh, and thanks to:

 

Guru Maharaja for the hospitality (not like it's owed to us)

Gaurasundara for the banana bread and the mandira-marjana-seva (before RY? The best!)

Nitaisundara for letting me plunder his computer

Vrndaranya for being there

Audarya-lila for the ride

Everybody for their enthusiasm.

 

Has anyone taken pictures this year?

Syamasundara - August 2, 2008 3:29 am

The weather forecast feature I have on iGoogle, my homepage, was still set on Philo, Ca.

 

I glanced at it and went: "What do you mean rain?"

 

I think I'll leave it like that, though. It's kind of nice to know at least what the weather is like there, and have my mind naturally drift there every day. Like SBS said, every minute there should be a newspaper about the spiritual world and its happenings. I don't know where, when and if I told the story of that cowherd stick I had made. At one point I was squatting under the sun watching Dharma and Bhumi, with my stick propped against my chest, and wondered: "Hmmm, 2:45pm, I wonder what Krsna and the cowherd boys are doing at this time.

The simplest material things can be packed with spiritual potential. Sankara says the world is false; sometimes (hopefully more and more often) I wonder if matter even exists. It's all a... matter of adjusting our angle of vision.

Gaurasundara Das - August 11, 2008 12:23 am

man's best friend

nitai1.jpg

nitai2.jpg

nitai3.jpg

Syamasundara - August 11, 2008 2:02 am

That is so sweet. Is that Adbhuta?

Nitaisundara Das - August 11, 2008 2:23 am

i don't think it is quite possible to explain the glories of Adbhuta. He's great, carrying on the Sevaji lineage with dignity.

 

In fact, I guess this as good a time as ever to announce to everyone that I have become a bhuttist.....

 

Sridama has the looks but his attitude went south. Adbhuta however is top notch in both departments.

 

By the way, my squirming face is not a reaction to the lick itself, but his tongue is rather painful.

Syamasundara - August 11, 2008 2:35 am

Bhuttist... it took me a while to get it... :Rolling Eyes:

Citta Hari Dasa - August 11, 2008 4:33 am

And to be a proper Bhuttist means you must follow the four noble truths:

 

1. go seva

2. go raksya

3. go kirtanam

4. go puja

 

And the eightfold path:

 

1. feeding the cows

2. scratching the cows

3. brushing the cows

4. herding the cows

5. bathing the cows

6. admiring the cows

7. praying to the cows

8. cleaning up after the cows

Vrindaranya Dasi - August 11, 2008 2:54 pm

Delightful!

 

I'm a Bhutist too.

post-5-1218466376_thumb.jpg

 

But I haven't forgotten where Butism came from.

post-5-1218466385_thumb.jpg

Swami - August 11, 2008 3:48 pm
In fact, I guess this as good a time as ever to announce to everyone that I have become a bhuttist.....

 

Sridama has the looks but his attitude went south.

 

 

I take exception to this remark. I think it's you, not Sridama, as my experience is entirely different.

Nitaisundara Das - August 11, 2008 4:39 pm
I take exception to this remark. I think it's you, not Sridama, as my experience is entirely different.

 

This is probably the truth, seeing as our relationship went downhill after I tried to ride him on multiple occasions :Shocked: . There it is, the confession.

 

And here comes the "but":

 

In my defense he did give me a horn to the face once prior to that :Rolling Eyes:

 

But alas, I have been making an effort to mend our relationship recently. :Hug:

 

With time and effort, perhaps we can be bosom buddies again..... :Cry: :Cry: :Cry:

Babhru Das - August 11, 2008 5:15 pm

I guess I've been an aspiring bhuttist since his divine--adn surprising--appearance. He hasn't initiated me yet, but we're developing a progressively closer relationship.

Madan Gopal Das - August 11, 2008 5:50 pm
Sridama has the looks but his attitude went south.

I'm glad someone came to Sridama's defense. Just be on guard that the path of the Bhuta does not harden your heart. :Broken Heart: Sridama's family history must be taken into consideration. Single mother, absent father... Mother transported a long distance to join the asrama. Mom was dealing with her own issues after his birth (rule out history of depression or bi-polar) and maybe wasn't available as much as he needed. It couldn't have been easy for the guy to fight for the food amongst the other big boys. Sure, maybe he decompensates now and then, but these are normal symptoms of Reactive-Attachment disorder. I think Sridama was just acting out some of his issues with you in the process of transference. Don't take it personally! This is where you can really make progress with him! I recommend consistent structural family therapy sessions as often as possible, supplemented with some quality one-on-one time with you. If you can demonstrate the loving commitment Sridama needs hopefully he can develop secure attachment.

 

This is what happens when I work and play at the same time; my first bovine diagnostic assessment!!

 

p.s. I'm sure I need further review of the family history to clarify my diagnosis.

Sridama_.jpg :Bring It On: :Bring It On: :Bring It On:

Babhru Das - August 11, 2008 6:01 pm

I'm also a big fan of Sridama's. I not only admire his beauty, but his cheekiness. I know it was my duty to chase him (and his disciples) off the deck, but I also found myself charmed by his conviction that he belonged there just as much as we.

Syamasundara - August 11, 2008 9:48 pm
Single mother, absent father... Mother transported a long distance to join the asrama. Mom was dealing with her own issues after his birth (rule out history of depression or bi-polar) and maybe wasn't available as much as he needed. It couldn't have been easy for the guy to fight for the food amongst the other big boys. Sure, maybe he decompensates now and then, but these are normal symptoms of Reactive-Attachment disorde.....

 

 

:Broken Heart: :Bring It On: :Bring It On:

Nitaisundara Das - August 11, 2008 10:17 pm
I'm glad someone came to Sridama's defense. Just be on guard that the path of the Bhuta does not harden your heart. :Broken Heart: Sridama's family history must be taken into consideration. Single mother, absent father... Mother transported a long distance to join the asrama. Mom was dealing with her own issues after his birth (rule out history of depression or bi-polar) and maybe wasn't available as much as he needed. It couldn't have been easy for the guy to fight for the food amongst the other big boys. Sure, maybe he decompensates now and then, but these are normal symptoms of Reactive-Attachment disorder. I think Sridama was just acting out some of his issues with you in the process of transference. Don't take it personally! This is where you can really make progress with him! I recommend consistent structural family therapy sessions as often as possible, supplemented with some quality one-on-one time with you. If you can demonstrate the loving commitment Sridama needs hopefully he can develop secure attachment.

 

And to be honest, I do not think I helped by smothering him with attention and praise. I don't know where it stands in relation to the issues discussed but he has also developed a weight problem. Maybe he looks up to me.....

 

sometimes we wonder if he is pregnant, and I don't know if we are kidding.

Prema-bhakti - August 12, 2008 2:53 am
And to be honest, I do not think I helped by smothering him with attention and praise. I don't know where it stands in relation to the issues discussed but he has also developed a weight problem. Maybe he looks up to me.....

 

sometimes we wonder if he is pregnant, and I don't know if we are kidding.

 

You and Sridama have a lot more in common than I ever suspected. :Broken Heart:

Bijaya Kumara Das - August 12, 2008 6:39 am

One day Guru Maharaja asked me to ride and I did.

 

I may be on the way to being a bhuttist also since I road Dharma for a few short seconds. It took a few years for him to let me pet him with out him trying to butt me through the fence. He has never been out of the cage since and when I have been aroung I have not entered. He lets me pet him now but if he ever got out I am sure he would try and run me down again.

Babhru Das - August 13, 2008 1:18 am

HH Bhuti-deva gave me a nice birthday present. He initiated me by licking my head. (And yes, his tongue is raspy!) So I guess I'm now a full-fledged bhuttist.

Madan Gopal Das - August 13, 2008 1:54 am

Everyone is going Bhuttist! Well, since you are going to Madhuvana soon (lucky guy!!) I think you can supplement your Bhuttism with some Dauism. :Broken Heart:

 

Get it??? HAHAHAHAHA!!! :Bring It On:

Swami - August 13, 2008 2:03 am
Everyone is going Bhuttist! Well, since you are going to Madhuvana soon (lucky guy!!) I think you can supplement your Bhuttism with some Dauism. :Broken Heart:

 

Get it??? HAHAHAHAHA!!! :Bring It On:

 

You mean "Daumism" I am both a Daumist ad Bhuttist. As it should be.

Prema-bhakti - August 13, 2008 2:26 am
This is what happens when I work and play at the same time; my first bovine diagnostic assessment!!

 

p.s. I'm sure I need further review of the family history to clarify my diagnosis.

Sridama_.jpg :Broken Heart: :Bring It On: :Bring It On:

 

I looooooove this photo of Sridama. :Hug::wub: It is muy perfecto! I think next year there should be an Audarya cow/bull calendar made. How about it Madana and Gaurangi? :Bring It On:

Syamasundara - August 13, 2008 2:35 am

Daumism? I don't get it. :Bring It On: :Broken Heart: :Bring It On:

Nitaisundara Das - August 13, 2008 3:21 am
Daumism? I don't get it. :Bring It On: :Broken Heart: :Bring It On:

he is referring to Sridama whereas Madan was reffering to Dauji.

 

Back to Adbhuta though. I am starting to think he is perhaps Mahaprabhu himself. His love and affection is conquering everyone. He strolls over the hills of Audarya and just by seeing his effulgent grey and white body with a head, crowned with red and rythmically bobbing as he struts, people instantly fall in love. Mahaprabhu converted the Mayavadi sannyasis, and this little belly (shortened from bhuta-belly[all credit to Vrindaranya for the name]) is converting even the Vaisnava Sannyasis. What sakti! Once when firemen were here, bhuta came up to the fence and mercifully glanced them all over. Immediately one said, "What kind of cows are these? They are really cute." I just hope I can become qualified to serve him when he retires in Jagganatha Puri to focus on his own internal reasons for descent.

Swami - August 13, 2008 3:22 am
Daumism? I don't get it. :unsure::Thinking::Confused:

 

Well its more respectfully referred to as "Sri Daumism." He's really quite the guy.

Nitaisundara Das - August 13, 2008 3:31 am

Just to clarify for any worried, Bhutism is not a nihilistic tradition. It falls under tadiya-seva and culminates in dynamic oneness-in-love with the crown jewel of miniature zebu bulls. The pastimes one will enter into largely consist of petting, being licked, hugs, frolicking, and, if you win at wrestling, maybe even a ride....

Syamasundara - August 13, 2008 4:48 am

:Thinking: Hah everybody has gone cow-crazy in the past days

 

:unsure::Confused::Cow:

Vrindaranya Dasi - August 13, 2008 1:37 pm

Yes, that's because at heart we're all cowdiyas.

Babhru Das - August 13, 2008 4:55 pm
Yes, that's because at heart we're all cowdiyas.

As in the verse from the Godhuli Purana: cowdiyanam samarcanam? (I had heard the verse attributed to the Moo-moo Purana, but that has since been shown to be a fabricated scripture of Hawaiian origin, and misspelled, to boot.)

Syamasundara - August 13, 2008 10:05 pm
Yes, that's because at heart we're all cowdiyas.

 

 

:Thinking::Confused::unsure::Cow: Thassright!

Tadiya Dasi - August 14, 2008 12:39 pm

Oooh, Adbhuta, how I miss him! :Shame On You:

 

Cyber :Hug:s to him & all the :Sleepy: s.

Guru-nistha Das - September 29, 2008 2:14 am

I flew back to California a week ago. Everything seemed so big, well organized and... familiar. People actually understood what I was saying to them, I knew how things worked and it actually felt very comforting. My life moves according to Guru Maharaja's desires so it's not like I choose circumstances based on comfort, but some desires of Guru Maharaja are easier to fulfill than others, and this was certainly one of them.

Madhuvan was definitely not a bad experience in any sense, I'm really happy that I was given that opportunity. But having your guru's constant association and a beautiful, well-functioning setup for doing your sadhana is just too nice. I practically have bad conscience over the fact that I can live like this, every day. What a privilege! Everything centered around guruseva and facilitating the Deities, and we can just live off the remnants of that (and some tasty remnants they are). Driving through San Francisco, Sausalito, Petaluma, Santa Rosa, I was thinking how Audarya really is a spiritual oasis. How rare it is to have Vraja-prema as your aspiration. We can just sink all of our material desires and dirt in here and forget about them while gradually entering the eternal pastimes.

Guru Maharaja wrote the following passage in his latest column to Ananda Magazine, "Ascetics are both the children and elders of society at the same time, childlike in maintaining their idealism and wise as a result." and it really hit home with me. I want to be childlike, but not in the way of playing video games and dodging the employment officers for the rest of my life. And Audarya is the real solution, it's a very practical Neverland where you don't avoid work but turn it into play instead.

Honey, I'm home!

Madan Gopal Das - September 29, 2008 2:26 am

Welcome back to "civilization" bro!!

Syamasundara - September 29, 2008 4:07 am

He's back! He's back!

 

So, wait, Gaurasundara is there alone? :P

Babhru Das - September 29, 2008 6:59 pm

Nope. Babhru´s still here--until tomorrow (alas).

Syamasundara - September 29, 2008 8:29 pm

And then?

Braja-sundari Dasi - October 1, 2008 12:57 pm
And then?

 

And then Mayapur is coming back

Gaurasundara Das - October 1, 2008 4:12 pm

"Guru Maharaja wrote the following passage in his latest column to Ananda Magazine"

 

it would be great if we could get these articles posted in english.

Guru-nistha Das - November 5, 2008 10:17 pm

Per Brajasundari's request, I'm posting some pics here:

 

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Gita and Mohan looking for something to eat:

 

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Rohini:

 

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Squash from our garden:

 

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Nitai made some fancy Deity sweets:

 

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View from the back of the temple:

 

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Rathi Krishna Dasa - November 6, 2008 12:54 am
deities.JPG

 

Wow.

Braja-sundari Dasi - November 6, 2008 10:07 am

Thanks Gurunistha!!! :dance::Party::D

 

Oh, Gaur Nitai look awesome!!! Who dressed Them?

 

 

My sweet cows! Rohini grows up very quickly.

 

And this squash is amazing! Is it more then last year?

Bhrigu - November 6, 2008 10:44 am

All of it was nice, but the sweets were amazing! :Drooling:

Gaura Krsna Dasa - November 6, 2008 10:07 pm
Wow.

 

No kidding! Those outfits are gorgeous. Somebody's style is on the mark!

 

 

Really, this makes a lot of sense to me. Pranams to whoever designed those outfits!

Guru-nistha Das - November 7, 2008 3:08 am

The outfits were designed and made by Maharha dasi, a Prabhupada disciple from Prabhupada village.

 

Sorry to torment you, Bhrigu. Stay tough with your Karitka vratas! :Drooling:

Swami - November 7, 2008 3:23 am

Vrindaranya dressed them and added the fine wool (pascima) chaddars at my suggestion. Cold here now. We should post a weekly altar picture.

Syamasundara - November 7, 2008 6:04 am

What are the sweets?

Rathi Krishna Dasa - November 7, 2008 11:57 am
We should post a weekly altar picture.

 

Yes!

Nitaisundara Das - November 8, 2008 2:52 am
What are the sweets?

 

 

 

"chocolate caramel thumbprints" = chocolate cookie rolled in pecans and indented in the center then caramel poured in indentation.

 

Now the new deity sweet is chocolate almond biscotti. Ive gone western with the deity sweets and it is so nice to cook new and decadent things.

Guru-nistha Das - November 15, 2008 4:49 am

The altar got some new decorations:

 

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Nitai made a new type of deity sweet:

 

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Tulasi devi is doing good:

 

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Rathi Krishna Dasa - November 15, 2008 7:04 pm

Very nice!

Guru-nistha Das - November 17, 2008 12:01 am

Citta Hari and Prema came this weekend. Them and Haribhakti came up with a project to fix up all the yurts and start doing yoga and devotee retreats at Audarya. I think it's a super idea.

Anyways, I was lucky enough to have my yurt started on the first. Citta put down a cork floor (very hip in the yoga circles, and functional too) and Prema brought new fair trade bed sheets for me. They cleaned up and sprayed the walls with a milldue repellantIt's heart-warming that they are doing all this considering the state of the world economy and the expenses in running a household.

 

Agni and Ratna came too, as they come almost every weekend now. Nitai baked chocolate muffins and agni was telling me stories from the zonal acharya days in the evening.

 

Here are some photos of the yurt fix up:

 

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Hari Bhakti - November 17, 2008 1:18 am

WOW! What a great looking yurt. Citta Hari and Prema-bhakti you two must have really put in some elbow grease - and it sure paid off. Next time I will be there to help. :)

Prema-bhakti - November 17, 2008 4:27 am

Well HB we couldn't have done it without you since you paid for the cork flooring!! :)

 

After the project was done Guru Maharaja came to check it out. He inspected the flooring, tested the springyness of the new mattress, and lied down on the new organic cotton sheets for a bit and chatted with CH and I. On leaving he said, "Good job!." A very satisfying weekend.

Prema-bhakti - November 17, 2008 4:31 am
Agni and Ratna came too, as they come almost every weekend now. Nitai baked chocolate muffins and agni was telling me stories from the zonal acharya days in the evening.

 

Agni and Ratna have kindly offered to donate their daughters' twin bedframes and mattresses for one of the guest yurts. Thank you.

 

Those muffins were delish Nitai. :)

Prema-bhakti - November 17, 2008 4:36 am

Well folks, one yurt down and 5 more to go. HB and I are planning to host a seva gathering in April. So if anyone is interested in pitching in to help clean yurts inside and outside, lay flooring, move furniture, and eat cream filled chocolate muffins :) keep an eye out for the announcement.

Vrindaranya Dasi - November 19, 2008 1:06 am

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Gandiva Dasi - November 19, 2008 9:43 am
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Very Beautiful!

Vrindaranya Dasi - November 26, 2008 3:15 pm
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Syamasundara - November 27, 2008 2:43 am
gn.jpg gn2.jpg

 

 

Nityananda Prabhu is very beautiful (especially the turban balance), especially in the second pic.

Nitaisundara Das - February 12, 2009 11:22 pm

ITs been a while:

 

rati and prashad looking out over the kingdom:

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Nityananda Prabhu's feast

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Cabbage from the garden (if you look close it is the size of the burner underneath it)

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Cauliflower (size shown in relation to anonymous Brahmachari's head)

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The Glorious Adbhuta:

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Arundhati relishing some winter sun:

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Gaura-Vijaya Das - February 13, 2009 1:27 am
ITs been a while:

 

rati and prashad looking out over the kingdom:

IMG_0233.jpg

 

Nityananda Prabhu's feast

IMG_0200.jpg

 

Cabbage from the garden (if you look close it is the size of the burner underneath it)

IMG_0202.jpg

 

Cauliflower (size shown in relation to anonymous Brahmachari's head)

IMG_0207.jpg

 

The Glorious Adbhuta:

IMG_0220.jpg

 

Arundhati relishing some winter sun:

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Arundhati is a wife of jnani Vasista muni. The devotees have taken her out of brahmajyoti!!

Citta Hari Dasa - February 13, 2009 2:05 am

Thanks Nitai. Great pics!

Nitaisundara Das - February 13, 2009 2:38 am
Arundhati is a wife of jnani Vasista muni. The devotees have taken her out of brahmajyoti!!

 

She is my favorite, Nadiya is a tyrant, and Chandrika a crazy bag lady:

 

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Braja-sundari Dasi - February 13, 2009 12:56 pm

Thanks for the pictures Nitai! :) :) :)

I cannot believe Adhbhuta changed so much! He looks like grown up bull!

 

But Nadiya is not a tyrant... she is just warrior-cat :ninja:

Gaura-Vijaya Das - February 13, 2009 3:27 pm
She is my favorite, Nadiya is a tyrant, and Chandrika a crazy bag lady:

 

IMG_0192.jpg

 

I had the phobia of cats since I saw a cat injure a guy severely in front of my eyes; he almost died. I need to overcome the phobia with your help. Maybe also because of my Indian brahmanical conditioning. In India Hindus detest the idea of having cats as pets as according to them they are not in sattva and can increase violent tendencies in the environment. Obviously these concepts are outdated now.

Nitaisundara Das - February 13, 2009 4:06 pm

Our cats are dhama-vasis through-and-through. Chandrika-avadhuta. I've heard that when Nadiya was a kitten and they were living in tents here she would curl up in GM's sleeping bag.

Braja-sundari Dasi - February 13, 2009 8:30 pm
I had the phobia of cats since I saw a cat injure a guy severely in front of my eyes; he almost died. I need to overcome the phobia with your help. Maybe also because of my Indian brahmanical conditioning. In India Hindus detest the idea of having cats as pets as according to them they are not in sattva and can increase violent tendencies in the environment. Obviously these concepts are outdated now.

 

It is written in some Purana (I do not remember which one though) that cats are ALWAYS clean.

Gaura-Vijaya Das - February 13, 2009 8:55 pm
It is written in some Purana (I do not remember which one though) that cats are ALWAYS clean.

There is a superstition in India that the cat should not cross your path which is mocked by westerners. Anyway it does not matter as these cats are dhamavasis and eventually we should be able to handle snakes and tigers as pets like Bharata Maharaja what to speak of cats.

Nitaisundara Das - February 13, 2009 9:34 pm
eventually we should be able to handle snakes and tigers as pets

Thats what Madhuvan is for! :ninja::)

Syamasundara - February 14, 2009 1:00 am

We have enough between the three cows and the three horses sneaking in and out of every fenced area we want them to stay in, thanks. :ninja:

Vrindaranya Dasi - March 9, 2009 1:51 am

Preview of photographs to come...

 

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Congratulations, Gopal das (formerly Grant)! :Praying:

Guru-nistha Das - March 9, 2009 2:22 am

Hariboloooo!

Congratulations, Gopal!

Vrindaranya Dasi - March 9, 2009 3:33 am

Vyasa-puja 2009 Slideshow...

 

...is apparently not an accepted file type.

 

Please visit:

 

http://www.swami.org/VyasaPuja2009/vp.html

 

to view the slideshow with sound (3.5 MB).

 

For a smaller file (no sound, 1.2 MB), visit:

 

http://www.swami.org/VyasaPuja2009/noSound/vp.html

Rathi Krishna Dasa - March 9, 2009 12:36 pm
Preview of photographs to come...

 

initiation3.jpg

 

Congratulations, Gopal das (formerly Grant)! :Praying:

 

Wow! Congratulations, Gopal! I remember years ago when you and Caitanya Nitai first started coming around in Boston. I'm very happy to see you both having taken initiation in the past several months.

Tadiya Dasi - March 9, 2009 12:59 pm

Congratulations, Gopal das! :Batting Eyelashes: Welcome to the family! :Praying:

Gaurangi-priya Devi - March 10, 2009 2:52 pm

Thank you Vrindaranya for posting the slide show. It is a beautiful meditation, transporting me to Audarya. Wish I could have been there with everyone. It seems like it was a wonderful festival, as usual.

Vrindaranya Dasi - March 10, 2009 3:05 pm

Thanks, Gaurangi-priya.

 

For those of you who didn't watch the slideshow, here are pictures of the altar.

 

Maharha sewed the beautiful new outfit and Jivadoya's wife did beading on it. The flower arrangements are various tropical flowers: bird of paradise, heliconia, cymbidium, ginger, and protea.

 

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Vrindaranya Dasi - March 19, 2009 2:51 am

Sri Sri Gaura-Nitai in their cow outfit.

 

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Rathi Krishna Dasa - March 19, 2009 3:11 am

Wow. Very nice.

Bijaya Kumara Das - March 19, 2009 5:55 pm
Vyasa-puja 2009 Slideshow...

 

...is apparently not an accepted file type.

 

Please visit:

 

http://www.swami.org/VyasaPuja2009/vp.html

 

to view the slideshow with sound (3.5 MB).

 

For a smaller file (no sound, 1.2 MB), visit:

 

http://www.swami.org/VyasaPuja2009/noSound/vp.html

 

 

thank you

Guru-nistha Das - April 26, 2009 1:02 pm

Now that there's some down time between the programs here I figured I should give an update on what's going on in Audarya.

 

We bought a milker! A couple of weeks ago Guru Maharaja had to go to the dentist in Santa Rosa. He called me around 11 in the morning and asked how long it would take me to hook up the trailer and drive the truck to Santa Rosa, because we're buying a cow. I hadn't started to cook yet so I cooked a fast offering, put the Deities to rest, fed the cows and started towards Santa Rosa. We went to this organic dairy during the evening milking time. It was interesting to see how they do all that. About 200 cows lined up for milking, they all had numbers in their ears and Guru Maharaja had picked up a few small and good looking milkers he wanted to test out. About three hours later we had about six cows separated and picked one of them, put her in the trailer and drove her to Audarya. Her name is Kamadhenu, she's a two-year-old Jersey and we are getting about 4 gallons of milk every day!

We are going to start doing a thing called cow share. It means that we sell shares of the milkers to neighbors and others who are interested to get fresh raw milk. This way we don't have to deal with any of the legal sides of selling farm products, because the customers own the cow partially. They will show up at Audarya to pick up their milk (possibly other milk productsin the future as well) so we don't even have to worry about delivery.

Another idea that Guru Maharaja came up with is saving cows that only have three functioning teats from the same dairy we bought Kamadhenu from. They would be slaughtered otherwise, but we will start selling them as Family cows to people who want to have their own milker. Vridnaranya put up a test ad on Graigslist to see if there's interest and the response was really positive. We've had more than ten people contact us about it and they all think it's a very noble thing we're doing and it totally makes sense that a Hindu monastery would support itself with something like this.

 

Other exciting news is that Agnideva is just about to sell his restaurant and move to Audarya! His wife Ratna will keep working for a while in the Bay area and eventually retire to Audarya as well. THey have several years' experience of running a temple and hosting people, so it's going to be a great addition to the Audarya crew. It's very inspiring to see devotees moving towards full dedication in the later part of their lives.

 

Other than that, the garden planting is going on full speed. Vrindaranya is testing out some new veggies this year, like artichokes.

 

We have been working on the Harmonist too and it's getting closer to being launched. Vridnaranya made a beautiful design for the site, this project is going to blow people's minds! I'm really excited about it personally.

 

I have to build a railing around the temple deck and then we will be ready for the final inspection of the temple. We are shooting for the beginning of July so we wouldn't have to extend our permit.

 

That's it for now. I'll write another report when I go on a preaching tour the next time :Just Kidding:

Syama Gopala Dasa - April 26, 2009 7:13 pm

WOW!!! THis is all great news. I don't even know what to react to as it all sounds very good.

Guru-nistha Das - April 27, 2009 12:12 pm

That's actually not even all of it, I just gave the main developments!

Nitaisundara Das - April 29, 2009 11:18 pm

Well the cow business is looking absolutely great. We sold our first rescued 3-teated cow today! GM is totally thrilled about the whole thing. We have a lawyer writing up the papers for our cow share program for which we already have prospective customers in philo, Santa Rosa, and Elk. It is going to be great... Did I mention GM is extremely happy about it?

 

And now, for the moment you have all been waiting for....

 

Miss Kama-dhenu herself:

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And the left side:

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Munching 'round campus:

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We had been having a bit of mystery why some of her milk was leaking in her sleeping area. We thought maybe our milking times were off and she was getting too full. Until we found this:

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tricky lady, milks herself!

 

She is extremely nice. She still kind of moves away from you at times but soon she'll be of Teddy (Sevaji) and Adbhuta caliber.

Gaurasundara Das - April 30, 2009 1:33 am

Great news! That self milking photo is unbelievable.

Prema-bhakti - April 30, 2009 2:38 am

Great photos Nitai!!! She is quite a pretty lady! :Hug:

 

I have to admit I was a bit concerned about the 3-teated cow rescue idea. It just goes to show that I need to come to Audarya soon and get connected up with the cowherders again. :)

Nitaisundara Das - April 30, 2009 2:43 am

All credit goes to Vrindaranya for the pictures (except the milking teat, that was my detective work). Yea there has been a great respons about the cows. The guy we are getting them from has one with 3 teats that gives 7 gallons a day!

Prema-bhakti - April 30, 2009 4:31 am
The guy we are getting them from has one with 3 teats that gives 7 gallons a day!

 

Why is he giving them to Audarya if they give so much milk?

Nitaisundara Das - April 30, 2009 5:41 am

GM decided he did not even want to ask! Don't look a gift horse in the mouth kind of thing. He is a really nice man though. Of course he is not "giving them". We buy them, but at a substantial (and substantially profitable) discount.

Syama Gopala Dasa - April 30, 2009 8:06 am

I absolutely love the idea andI'm still excited about it since Gurunistha posted the idea first

Braja-sundari Dasi - April 30, 2009 1:11 pm

Oh, Kamadhenu is lovely! :)

 

And like the heavenly cows do she showers the holy dham with her milk! :Hug::Cow: :Cow:

Guru-nistha Das - November 9, 2009 5:37 am

I can't believe it's been over six months since the last update.

This summer has definitely been the busiest since I've been here. We've established a dairy, started an active online magazine, got a big area of woods cleared out for cow pasture, started plans for yoga retreats for next year, had grass planted all over, and did a bunch of construction. Also, Agni became the new manager and we are trying to move towards increasing the nava-laksana side of monastic life with Gita classes and more time for chanting.

 

Here are some pics of the developments:

 

We wanted to increase the quality of the cow accommodations for the coming winter. The first project was to build an extension for the milkers. We poured a concrete slab and a wall through which they can eat. The roof is polycarbonate glass so it gives them light and shade at the same time.

 

 

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For the zebus we wanted to have individual pens for the night and shelters from the rain in the daytime. This will enable us to keep their pens much cleaner throughout the winter. (I'm still working on these, racing against the rains). We converted our old compost bins into cow dwellings ( the last two pics):

 

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Another big improvement was the planting of grass all around for pasture and aesthetics. The sprayed this bluish stuff with some kind of natural glue, newspaper and grass seeds in it and it germinated a few days ago. It's going to look incredible. The first picture is from around Citta Hari's old yurt that's going to be the main pature

 

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For those Tattvavivekis who have never been to Audarya and are wondering what it's like, here's a little portrait of a part of Gopesh's 3-month stay here. He'll be leaveing in a couple of weeks and we'll be feeling it! He has been a great help and I surely take it as a divine arrangement that often we get help when things get intense. Gopesh saved my butt with the concrete work, something I haven't done before, and he took up the cheese making which enabled us to concentrate on other urgent services.

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Guru-nistha Das - November 9, 2009 5:47 am

Almost forgot the most important of Gopesh's services. True Sicilian style:

 

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Guru Maharaja's mom and brother came for a visit. Guru Maharaja's brother is a landscape architect and will start his work of landscaping Audarya this month. Audarya is definitely taking new shape.

 

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And last but not least our lovable editor:

 

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Madan Gopal Das - November 9, 2009 1:56 pm

It is unspeakable, the wonders you all perform in that mystical land Audarya. Construction work looks great!! Pasture and landscaping looks incredible! I'm so happy that cob oven is back in service and SO SAD that I didn't get some maha-prasad from a true Sicilian pizza man (I just said that in my mind with a fake Italian accent and goofy hand gestures :Big Grin: ). And I'm psyched you got a pic of Guru Ma!!

 

That is what I call transcendental competition. Audarya vs. Madhuvan - who can make it harder to resist visiting?

Syamasundara - November 9, 2009 5:54 pm

Lots of stuff cooking at Madhuvan, too, in more than one sense. Now that the rains are almost over, and I starting to function almost normally again, I might complete a couple of projects, and pictures may come in two weeks or so.

 

BTW, you people DON'T WANT to eat Sicilian pizza. It's really fat and full or garlic. Pizza the way it's known the world over is from Naples.

Syama Gopala Dasa - November 9, 2009 6:32 pm
BTW, you people DON'T WANT to eat Sicilian pizza. It's really fat and full or garlic. Pizza the way it's known the world over is from Naples.

 

Let the Milanese bark, we love the Sicilian! :Big Grin:

Babhru Das - November 10, 2009 1:17 am
BTW, you people DON'T WANT to eat Sicilian pizza. It's really fat and full or garlic. Pizza the way it's known the world over is from Naples.

Well, some people like Neapolitan ice cream. (I don't know what that has to do with anything, except Naples.)

 

I'm happy to see the cob oven cooking. And check out Swami's smile--how happy he is to be hosting Mom. Thanks for the update.

Gopesh Dasa - November 10, 2009 4:50 am

Gopesh saved my butt with the concrete work, something I haven't done before, and he took up the cheese making which enabled us to concentrate on other urgent services.


 

Well, I probably saved your butt.... :Big Grin:

I still have to thank you, don't forget you saved my life!!! :Big Grin:

 

krshna_boy.jpg :Praying:

Sridama Dasa - November 10, 2009 5:25 pm
I can't believe it's been over six months since the last update.

This summer has definitely been the busiest since I've been here. We've established a dairy, started an active online magazine, got a big area of woods cleared out for cow pasture, started plans for yoga retreats for next year, had grass planted all over, and did a bunch of construction. Also, Agni became the new manager and we are trying to move towards increasing the nava-laksana side of monastic life with Gita classes and more time for chanting.

 

WOW WOW WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!

Everything looks INCREDIBLE! Can't wait to get out there again :Big Grin:

Guru-nistha Das - November 13, 2009 4:00 am
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Guru-nistha Das - November 13, 2009 4:02 am
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Guru-nistha Das - November 13, 2009 4:03 am
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Gopesh Dasa - November 13, 2009 4:41 am
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Citta Hari Dasa - November 14, 2009 6:33 am

Amazing! Nice work on the barns! Big upgrade for the milkers in particular. The grounds are finally starting to come together--the jewel that has been hidden is emerging more and more.

 

I'm also happy to see that the oven is still usable. Let there be pizza!

 

And the pic of GM and his mom is priceless!

Gopesh Dasa - November 18, 2009 3:10 pm
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Citta Hari Dasa - November 20, 2009 5:28 pm
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One of my favorite outfits. Thank you.

Nitaisundara Das - December 17, 2009 2:38 am

I just got a camera because soon I am going to begin a cooking section on the Harmonist and coincidentally Kamalaksa and Krsangi have now given GN and I the recipe section for Ananda. I am very excited about both. next month I am beginning a photography class but in the meantime I have begun practicing, especially food shots.

 

What we affectionately call "breakfast rice":

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Some raspberry pluckin':

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fresh rasberries (Ok so the bowl is same. I don't have many options yet)

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a fresh ball of homemade butter:

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The milking machine:

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Crazy Chandrika:

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The milke fridge:

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A fresh batch of blue cheese:

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GN expressing his approval of dairy:

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The milk room (formerly the office/pantry)

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The evening milking:

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Nitaisundara Das - December 17, 2009 3:18 am

almost forgot, check out the temple's new front lawn. There are still a few bald spots but it is going to be great. Really changes the overall feeling:

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Bhrigu - December 17, 2009 10:39 am
almost forgot, check out the temple's new front lawn. There are still a few bald spots but it is going to be great. Really changes the overall feeling:

 

Wow, that's amazing! Beautiful.

Syamasundara - December 17, 2009 12:49 pm
almost forgot, check out the temple's new front lawn. There are still a few bald spots but it is going to be great. Really changes the overall feeling:

 

Finally, a dream come true. It's not photoshopped in, eh?

Swami - December 17, 2009 1:47 pm

The milk room looks professional and the raspberries divine! But he photographer needs a hair cut.

Nitaisundara Das - December 17, 2009 3:26 pm
But he photographer needs a hair cut.

 

agreed!

Braja-sundari Dasi - December 17, 2009 3:57 pm

Thanks Nitai! :Sick:

Everything looks incredible!

 

And great news about the cooking section! I will test every recipe here, at Madhuvan :He He:

Atmananda Dasa - January 2, 2010 1:24 am

just looking at these recent photos of Audarya...wow... you guys are so amazing... everything looks so beautiful... looking forward to the day i might have the good fortune to visit again.

Guru-nistha Das - February 20, 2010 5:05 am

The hibernation is over, Guru Maharaj is BACK!!

Nitaisundara Das - April 29, 2010 3:45 am

Some photo updates. More in-depth update from Gurunistha coming soon (especially if you pressure him).

 

The princes of Nadiya:

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Nandi Maharja!

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This little fellow auspiciously appeared out of nowhere on our property a few days ago and seems to be a lifer...

At first he was elusive

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But then he warmed up

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Audarya's other new resident, Blake:

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Citta has been hard at work getting firewood ready to dry for next year.

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Some of the blossoms in the orchard

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I have been working some on my food photography:

 

Always short on time, Audarya has been taken over by no-knead breads, and they are working out quite well.

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Here is one of our fresh cheeses. We used this picture for our awesome dairy site that Vrindaranya made (www.audaryadairy.com).

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Guru-nistha Das - April 29, 2010 4:11 am

Okay, last time I wrote Guru Maharaja had just come back. As I'm writing this he's ready to pack his bags and go to Madhuvan again. The last two months have been the first time during my five-year residence here that I have had time to actually study. It has been a real treat. We have spent many of the afternoons studying on Guru Maharaja's lead, with a view to get absorbed in the scripture and eventually be equipped to give class and preach. We (Vrindaranya, Citta Hari, Nitai, Babhru via Skype and me) started going through the Gita and Guru Maharaja is giving us assignments and quizzing us once a week. It's fun. He takes on this very cocky purvapaksin role and puts us on the spot to see what we can come up with. I've always admired Guru Maharaja's ability to speak but I can tell you, now that I've had to try it myself, especially in his presence, I can appreciate his "gift of gab" on a whole new level. It's simple genius, actually. He sets the bar so high for us simply with his example that it's easy to get cold feet about giving class, but I think we'll push through. He's very encouraging and keeps assuring that a lot of it is just a matter of practice.

 

On another note, things have changed quite a bit here staff-wise. Some of you might not know yet that by the end of last year Citta Hari rejoined the ashrama. It's been really nice to have him back, to be honest. When he came back, to me it felt like he had only been gone for a month or so, and he totally slipped back in very naturally and seems quite content. Also in the beginning of this year Abhaya Krsna rejoined Audarya. It's been a year of reunions so far. Guru Maharaja had said some really nice things about him, but he proved to be even more amazing than I had expected. I can honestly say I'm humbled and inspired to witness his eagerness to serve. He's totally engaged all the time and seems like such a natural fit here. I'm actually trying to learn that same attitude from him because I can practically see how conducive it is for making progress and how it pleases Guru Maharaja.

Another new guy came too, Blake, who used to live in a ISKCON farm community in Mississippi. This guy is a farmer through and through. I've never met anybody who would be as passionate about gardening and sustainability as he is. He seems to look at everything in that light. Guru Maharaja wants to have fruit orchards for the Deities and eventually fruit for sale too, and Blake came at a perfect time since he especially loves fruit tree gardening.

In July Babhru is going to join our ranks too and in August a devotee named Daniel from POrtland is going to join the ashram. Things are sure different than last year when it was just a few people here! We are on a serious upswing and the mood is very upbeat. Exciting times.

 

It's getting late but I'll continue the update tomorrow with different projects that are on the horizon.

Babhru Das - April 29, 2010 12:55 pm

The pictures are wonderful, and Guru-nistha's update is nectar. The classes with GM have been fun, and, although I'm not unaccustomed to talking about Krishna consciousness, I've found that speaking in his presence makes it all new again, to the extent that I've found myself tripping over things when I know better. Very enlivening.

 

I met Blake when he stayed here in Alachua for a while (last year, I think). And Guru-nishta's absolutely correct: this guy is the real deal when it comes to organic gardening.

Guru-nistha Das - April 30, 2010 3:31 am

So, the projects:

 

Websites

 

Vrindaranya has been working hard on websites for Madhuvan, our dairy and on a special project that we will tell the details about a little later.

 

Cheese

 

Guru Maharaj really wants the Audarya Dairy to produce top quality cheeses, so Nitai became the cheese man. He has taken a few cheese courses in Santa Rosa, done research and is participating on different cheese forums. He's working on a goood cheese making set up for the temple kitchen and today he was building a curd cutter with Citta Hari. The second batch of cheeses should easily exceed the quality of the first batch we made last year.

 

Cows

 

Prema, one of the milkers, is getting to ready to give birth. The new calf should be born within ten days or so. That's why Nitai is trying to figure out the cheese making setup because soon we will be having a lot of extra milk that won't go for the share holders.

 

Sheds

 

Citta Hari has been working on cutting down and chopping wood so we will have some dry wood for the next winter. We will be building a wood shed/trash shed next to the temple around where the existing trash shed is now. The shed should be big enough to hold wood for two winters. We also need to build a storage shed because right now one of the yurts serves as a storage but we want to free that up for the guests and residents.

 

Milkers

 

We need to upgrade the milker pen with a new drainage system and a feeding pad. On a side note, the cow share program is going on really good. We have established a steady customer base and Agni and Ratna deliver the milk twice a week. Ratna is doing all the book keeping and "customer service" type of stuff and has been a great help. The whole program is really a very organic and a natural way of outreach. People think it's "cool" that their milk comes from a hindu monastery and it seems like the word is getting out there about us in the health conscious grass roots food scene.

 

Gardens

 

Vrindaranya has done a great job again with all the seedlings that have to be started in the grteenhouse before they are put in the ground in early May. It's going to be the tried and proved varieties mostly and hopefully this year we will be able to dedicate more time to the gardens than last year. That way we could produce more for the Deities and devotees and be more self-sufficient.

 

I'm sure I'm forgetting something but these are the main projects right now.

Prema-bhakti - April 30, 2010 4:11 am
Cows

 

Prema, one of the milkers, is getting to ready to give birth. The new calf should be born within ten days or so. That's why Nitai is trying to figure out the cheese making setup because soon we will be having a lot of extra milk that won't go for the share holders.

 

Oh, I wish I could be there when Prema has her calf. :Cow:

Syamasundara - April 30, 2010 1:53 pm

Has the peacock really appeared of its own accord?

 

In either case, Dauji and Gopala would really like peacock feather decorations, so please keep your eyes open in case he sheds between now and mid May.

 

Thanks.

Braja-sundari Dasi - April 30, 2010 2:08 pm

Thanks Gurunistha for all the information. And we want more nectar, don`t wait untill July :Cow:

Nitaisundara Das - April 30, 2010 4:22 pm

Yes the peacock just showed up. I came off the altar and I saw GM lurking around the temple (I thought he was chasing deer as we have had trouble with keeping them out [we are in the process of finishing a fence]) so I went out to see and he was actually following the peacock! So I spent some time stalking him (the peacock) and snapped some photos. Then he was still here the next day, and the next, and the next. He started calling out from a tree during the morning program one day! Anyway, I have not seen him in a day or so, so I am a little worried, but Blake heard him yesterday eveneing so he is probably still around.

Prema-bhakti - April 30, 2010 4:37 pm
Yes the peacock just showed up. I came off the altar and I saw GM lurking around the temple (I thought he was chasing deer as we have had trouble with keeping them out [we are in the process of finishing a fence]) so I went out to see and he was actually following the peacock! So I spent some time stalking him (the peacock) and snapped some photos. Then he was still here the next day, and the next, and the next. He started calling out from a tree during the morning program one day! Anyway, I have not seen him in a day or so, so I am a little worried, but Blake heard him yesterday eveneing so he is probably still around.

 

From what I have observed at Gita Nagari and from the little I know about peafowl they do like to live in groups. It was wonderful to observe them roost in trees together at night. Maybe this poor fellow has lost his group. Maybe his calls will be answered.

Nitaisundara Das - April 30, 2010 4:57 pm

We are his group now! :Cow: :Cow: :Cow:

 

Anyway, he is still here. Right after my last post I went up to the cow area and he was hanging out with the cows. Now he is perched on the very top of GM's roof. Pictures later.

Babhru Das - April 30, 2010 6:50 pm

They're really cool as long as you can keep them out of the gardens. Protecting the gardens from the peafowl was an ongoing project when I was at Bhaktivedanta Village, and the temple's peafowl in Honolulu used to enrage the neighbors by ripping up their gardens. A couple of hens were killed by those neighbors. Other than that, though, they're wonderful.

Prema-bhakti - April 30, 2010 8:14 pm
They're really cool as long as you can keep them out of the gardens. Protecting the gardens from the peafowl was an ongoing project when I was at Bhaktivedanta Village, and the temple's peafowl in Honolulu used to enrage the neighbors by ripping up their gardens. A couple of hens were killed by those neighbors. Other than that, though, they're wonderful.

 

Yeah, they can be quite testy too. They became a handful at GN and they had to give some away.

Babhru Das - April 30, 2010 9:40 pm

Like geese? I haven't had that experience, but I can imagine it's so, especially hens when we get too near their chicks.

Prema-bhakti - May 1, 2010 1:35 am
Like geese? I haven't had that experience, but I can imagine it's so, especially hens when we get too near their chicks.

 

Well, it would seem all mothers are protective of their young. However, this was a case where the peacocks and peahens got way too familiar with people and would come up to residents and guests and start pecking at them. When there was food around then it was particularly troublesome.

Abhay Krsna Dasa - May 1, 2010 3:52 am

So just to be clear, a "Peacock" appeared out of nowhere, and now spends is mornings calling out while we chant, and it's days perched on top of Guru Maharaja's house... :Cow::Cow:

Prema-bhakti - May 1, 2010 3:26 pm
So just to be clear, a "Peacock" appeared out of nowhere, and now spends is mornings calling out while we chant, and it's days perched on top of Guru Maharaja's house... :Cow::Cow:

 

 

Pretty amazing but somehow it doesn't surprise me. :Cow:

Braja-sundari Dasi - May 7, 2010 11:41 pm

Why is Tilak`s birth kept in secret? We want pictures! :Big Grin:

Prema-bhakti - May 8, 2010 12:05 am
Why is Tilak`s birth kept in secret? We want pictures! :P

 

 

WHAT! :Big Grin:

Guru-nistha Das - September 5, 2010 4:23 am

Boy oh boy did we have a great festival. Ten days of kirtan, all kinds of seva, abhisekas, swimming, cooking and eating and above all amazing talks twice a day. We have worked hard to make Audarya what it is and it's so gratifying to be able to have the facility now and be able to host these kinds of events. It has been extremely enlivening for me and I know from talking to others that I'm certainly not alone. I wish our whole congregation would come next year! It's just too good to be missed.

Guru-nistha Das - October 8, 2010 3:24 am

The fall is here again. The black plastics go on hay bales and firewood, sweaters and woolen hats have found their way out of the drawers.

 

The harvest season has been fairly slow because of the cold summer but we have managed to can about 40 quarts of tomatoes, dried them and some fruit and we have frozen stuff too. My services include much more kitchen seva nowadays and I'm trying to learn preserving and all that old-time wisdom. I've tried finding a detailed recipe on how to make sauer kraut with carrots, without any luck so far, so if you happen to know how to do that drop me a line.

 

Citta Hari and Goloka have been working on a new wood shed/trash shed that's going to be behind the old trash shed. Since we heat most of our spaces with wood, it's really important to have a dry place for it.

 

Abhaya, Nitai and me started reinforcing our deer fence. Those critters are extremely determined (the deer that is, not Abhay and Nitai!) to walk wherever they please but we have to secure the property since we are planning on putting in part of the landscaping during the rainy season so the plants get a good head-start into the next summer.

 

Tarun and Priya-Narma's new yurt was raised two weeks ago. They wanted to put it on the slope on the right side of the driveway between the bath house and the first old yurt on the righthand side of the property. It's really inspiring for the residents to see how the two of them are coming forward and making this big decision without much hesitation. They seem very excited about their new life and I think they'll be a good fit here. Brahma and Lila started talking about building a cabin here as well.

 

Guru Maharaja had a very successful Portland trip last week. There were 100+ people in the program at the Bhakti Shop where Haribhakti teaches yoga, and people were so enlivened by the talk that Haribhakti just told me that still after a week she uses pretty much all of her free time talking to people who want to learn more or talk about what to do next or how to stay in contact. The momentum in Portland has been growing steadily for two years now and it's interesting to see where it's going to lead.

 

Guru Maharaja has been giving amazing Bhagavatam classes a couple nights a week. Two nights ago he talked on SB 1.2.6, the famous "sa vai pumsam..." verse and the way he was highlighting suddha-bhakti over karma or jnana was just so expert. Nitai's old friend Matt, who moved to Berkeley recently, was visiting that night and next day as I was working with him in the kitchen he was saying how lucky we are to be able to hear talks like that all the time. He's not a devotee but he could understand in his own way that this is not an ordinary matter. I still feel lucky, pretty much every day.

Braja-sundari Dasi - October 8, 2010 8:25 am

Thank you Gurunistha for all the news! You are all doing such a nice job there. We would appreciate any photos as well... ;)

 

What is the name of the peackock?

Madan Gopal Das - October 8, 2010 12:27 pm
Guru Maharaja has been giving amazing Bhagavatam classes a couple nights a week.

I LOVE the new website and Vrindaranya is at the top of my list for mercy givers because she has made it possible to hear all of GM's classes, practically right away! I listen to a new class almost every morning while doing deity worship. I think it could only get better by moving in! But hey, you still feel lucky Nistha, so I guess that happy-go-lucky road is eternal eh? ;)

Nitaisundara Das - October 8, 2010 6:17 pm
We would appreciate any photos as well... ;)

 

Im on it... coming shortly.

 

The peacocks name is Gopati, protector of the cows (and it also means rainbow).

Guru-nistha Das - October 9, 2010 3:42 am

Madan, you're so right about that swamitripurari.com, it's an amazing resource! I can only imagine how nice it is to get the talks fresh out of the bhakti-oven.

Needless to say we're all super proud of Vrindaranya for doing such a nice service for Guru Maharaja and the community.

 

Now I just have to get off my butt and start updating videos. The plan is to put up all the DVDs that we have of Guru Maharaja and we'll be also taping some more from now on (it's been on a hiatus for a while). I'd also love to make short videos like the ones we made in Madhuvan but time is tight as usual.

Tadiya Dasi - October 9, 2010 6:01 am

Thanks for the updates, Gurunistha! They are always a pleasure to read and it's nice to hear how everyone is doing at Audarya.

 

And I agree with Madan Gopal: It's amazing to be able to hear the new lectures almost immediately! Thank you, Vrindaranya! ;)

Guru-nistha Das - December 18, 2010 4:00 am

Today I remembered how a long time ago I heard that Srila Prabhupada would encourage his students to write down their thoughts every day. Inspired by my purvacharya I decided to write here what I was thinking of today.

 

It's cold and rainy here but the gardens need to be maintained, so I was sitting in the rain on a piece of a styrofoam and pulling those little weed devils out of the ground. I was feeling pretty uncomfortable physically because I've had back-pains and I was wet and freezing, but luckily I was able to get to a groove where I'm pretty much oblivious to the external world (one of the many perks of being a right-brainer).

 

That one story came to my mind that Guru Maharaja likes to tell of Bhaktisiddhanta. When some educated gentleman asked him to reveal the essence of the Bhagavatam, the lion guru directed the enquirer to his gardener and said that "he knows the true meaning of the Bhagavatam". My own immediate situation pressed me to reflect on the nature of bhakti and how it goes so far beyond theory. Bhaktisiddhanta's gardener had situated himself correctly in relation to the truth and expressed it outwardly by getting his hands dirty for the truth. Talk really is very cheap if one's actions don't support one's words.

 

Also, how can we ever enter the lila if there is a gap between our bhava and cesta, or our aspiration and actions? In a sense the lila is the perfect harmonization of one's internal and external landscape. In the material world the internal experience is almost always at war with reality and we get so attached to those short moments when we feel that "everything's alright". But trying to force nature to be our maid servant will undoubtedly end up in some serious domestic violence. And it's the female (prakriti) that's beating the crap out of the male (wannabe-purusa). But once we stop resisting and surrender to the beating, she will certainly start feeling compassion because that's how women are.

 

So because of surrendering his male ego and being touched by bhakti, that fortunate soul who ended up being Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati's gardener got that rare chance of pulling those weed devils in the Thakura's gardens and thus perfecting his life.

Guru-nistha Das - December 26, 2010 4:40 am

It's Christmas day today and it made me think of how some atheists say how it's just as ridiculous and childish to believe in God as it is to believe in the Santa Claus. You ask things from both and Santa's little helpers keep score of your good and bad deeds and accordingly you get punished or rewarded. But actually it's just a trick of the parents/society to keep you obedient and under their influence. And once you grow up you're supposed to leave these kinds of superstitions behind and take things for what they are.

 

What a superficial understanding of God and religion that idea betrays. It brings to mind some of the points that were made in a recent Harmonist article called Way Beyond Atheism. Most of popular atheism is as shallow as the religion that they attack. And the vast majority of religion is certainly shallow so we can't expect too much from today's reactionary atheists either.

 

That same article was making the point of how atheists like Dawkins treat God as a thing because that's all they know. But one thing to remember is that superificially religious people treat God like that too. He's a person who lives somewhere far away (like the Northpole) and gives goodies. And without a deep study of the scriptures or serving a realized devotee we will never understand how God is nothing like us but is actually in everything and in nothing at the same time etc., and how he's something that our theorizing will never even come close to grasping.

 

Thinking of God as a thing is indeed childish and superstitious and in light of what we know of societies, human behavior and science nowadays, it's irrational. But what it really shows is where the atheists' faith lies as well: in things. In materially understandable thing-worlds. And as much as they mock primitive religion, their own faith systems work on a very similar premise: do certain things and you'll get goodies. It's the same childish desires that drive their actions, but instead of petitioning Santa, they break into their Mother's closet and steal the presents. Now you tell me if that is a more sophisticated attitude towards life?

Swami - December 26, 2010 10:37 am
It's Christmas day today and it made me think of how some atheists say how it's just as ridiculous and childish to believe in God as it is to believe in the Santa Claus. You ask things from both and Santa's little helpers keep score of your good and bad deeds and accordingly you get punished or rewarded. But actually it's just a trick of the parents/society to keep you obedient and under their influence. And once you grow up you're supposed to leave these kinds of superstitions behind and take things for what they are.

 

What a superficial understanding of God and religion that idea betrays. It brings to mind some of the points that were made in a recent Harmonist article called Way Beyond Atheism. Most of popular atheism is as shallow as the religion that they attack. And the vast majority of religion is certainly shallow so we can't expect too much from today's reactionary atheists either.

 

That same article was making the point of how atheists like Dawkins treat God as a thing because that's all they know. But one thing to remember is that superificially religious people treat God like that too. He's a person who lives somewhere far away (like the Northpole) and gives goodies. And without a deep study of the scriptures or serving a realized devotee we will never understand how God is nothing like us but is actually in everything and in nothing at the same time etc., and how he's something that our theorizing will never even come close to grasping.

 

Thinking of God as a thing is indeed childish and superstitious and in light of what we know of societies, human behavior and science nowadays, it's irrational. But what it really shows is where the atheists' faith lies as well: in things. In materially understandable thing-worlds. And as much as they mock primitive religion, their own faith systems work on a very similar premise: do certain things and you'll get goodies. It's the same childish desires that drive their actions, but instead of petitioning Santa, they break into their Mother's closet and steal the presents. Now you tell me if that is a more sophisticated attitude towards life?

 

Good! Keep writing.

Gaura-Vijaya Das - December 27, 2010 6:58 pm
It's Christmas day today and it made me think of how some atheists say how it's just as ridiculous and childish to believe in God as it is to believe in the Santa Claus. You ask things from both and Santa's little helpers keep score of your good and bad deeds and accordingly you get punished or rewarded. But actually it's just a trick of the parents/society to keep you obedient and under their influence. And once you grow up you're supposed to leave these kinds of superstitions behind and take things for what they are.

 

What a superficial understanding of God and religion that idea betrays. It brings to mind some of the points that were made in a recent Harmonist article called Way Beyond Atheism. Most of popular atheism is as shallow as the religion that they attack. And the vast majority of religion is certainly shallow so we can't expect too much from today's reactionary atheists either.

 

That same article was making the point of how atheists like Dawkins treat God as a thing because that's all they know. But one thing to remember is that superificially religious people treat God like that too. He's a person who lives somewhere far away (like the Northpole) and gives goodies. And without a deep study of the scriptures or serving a realized devotee we will never understand how God is nothing like us but is actually in everything and in nothing at the same time etc., and how he's something that our theorizing will never even come close to grasping.

 

Thinking of God as a thing is indeed childish and superstitious and in light of what we know of societies, human behavior and science nowadays, it's irrational. But what it really shows is where the atheists' faith lies as well: in things. In materially understandable thing-worlds. And as much as they mock primitive religion, their own faith systems work on a very similar premise: do certain things and you'll get goodies. It's the same childish desires that drive their actions, but instead of petitioning Santa, they break into their Mother's closet and steal the presents. Now you tell me if that is a more sophisticated attitude towards life?

 

Maybe you will find this discussion http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-UiOQfQTcoA interesting where Dawkins says that the Christian God does not do justice to the gandeur of God. At the same time, the Christian theist has good points too. The discussion is called has science buried God? Dawkins is not that unreasonable if you see the debate. Nitai concurred with me. In fact, I found the theist better than what Nitai thought. Way beyond atheism is good as an article, but the practice to back that philosophy similar to Upanishads (panentheism of some form) is so much lacking in Christianity right now. There have been atheists since time immemorial and not all atheism is reactionary according to me.

 

There are reactionary atheists also, but I hardly find anyone in the current Gaudiya community do a great job of addressing the modern world any better than Christians have done. In fact, they pride themselves in aligning with fanatic Christians and want creationism to be taught in science classes in schools.

Guru-nistha Das - January 11, 2011 4:36 am

Today while working on a new fence a memory came to me from three years ago.

 

Guru Maharaja had been in Madhuvan for several months just before the temple opening and we were on a crazy marathon (Citta Hari, Mayapurchandra, Gauransudara and myself. Also Tadiya and Braja-sundari were living here then) to get the building finished on time. Then finally Guru Maharaja came. We showed him around the temple and then he sat on his then-brand new vyasasana and gave an incredibly inspiring mini-lecture. The part that really stuck out in my mind was when we said that we have to sacrifice every single drop of our blood for the mission of Bhaktivinoda. To see his vision spread in the world. And then he said that the Guru is like a mosquito who comes to suck the blood from us and then carries it to Krsna (or something to that extent).

 

Tonight I was reading the story of Jada Bharata from the 5th Canto and in one of the verses Jada Bharata is saying how foolish people use their energy in useless things that will be gone very soon whereas the only thing that is worth investing one's energy in is the service of Bhagavan. Kamasya nedriya-priti labho jiveta yavata...

No time to waste.

Mayapurcandra Das - January 12, 2011 11:13 am
Today while working on a new fence a memory came to me from three years ago.

 

Guru Maharaja had been in Madhuvan for several months just before the temple opening and we were on a crazy marathon (Citta Hari, Mayapurchandra, Gauransudara and myself. Also Tadiya and Braja-sundari were living here then) to get the building finished on time. Then finally Guru Maharaja came. We showed him around the temple and then he sat on his then-brand new vyasasana and gave an incredibly inspiring mini-lecture. The part that really stuck out in my mind was when we said that we have to sacrifice every single drop of our blood for the mission of Bhaktivinoda. To see his vision spread in the world. And then he said that the Guru is like a mosquito who comes to suck the blood from us and then carries it to Krsna (or something to that extent).

Thank you Guru-nistha for your post. This moment also stucked in my mind and while reading this I felt like it was yesterday.

Jaya Guru Maharaja!

Prema-bhakti - January 12, 2011 12:09 pm

Awesome quote Nistha! Thanks for sharing.

Guru-nistha Das - January 15, 2011 4:28 am

Afterthought to my previous post:

 

It's so much easier to be physically engaged than mentally. We way seem very busy outwardly but be endlessly wasting time on the mental platform. I've gotten into a habit of observing my mind throughout the day (when I'm not distracted) and it's simply sickening how much time is wasted in useless thoughts. It's like an unstoppable vortex of dirty water that flows in the skull endlessly.

 

I believe Sanatana Goswami says in his Hari-Bhakti-Vilasa that if one doesn't perform manasa puja (mental puja) before the actual physical puja, the whole affair is useless. In a way this is applicable to any devotional activity. What is really the benefit of being busy if one's mind is somewhere else? Sure, it does create a samskara for that activity and it will be beneficial in the future but mindless bhakti bears results very slowly. Sacrificing your physical activity to the mission of BHaktivinoda is a relatively meager affair compared to being fully engaged mentally. Because mental engagement means that you have to be identified completely with what you are doing. Otherwise mental absorption is not possible. And that identification, that mamata, is what bhakti is all about. Devotion has to become our whole life and focus, it's not just something that we do. First our identification is posed on the Guru (in this world) and his mission, and as one advances the identification culminates in the lila. Sadhana bhakti is a cultivation of identification.

 

Still, it's certainly not useless to be physically fully engaged. That must precede mental absorption. It is impossible to jump from material ignorance to pure consciousness without purifying one's actions first. But there's a mental trap in a sadhaka's life where one thinks s/he has arrived just because s/he is fully engaged physically. That is only the very beginning of serious practice. If we really want to sacrifice every drop our blood for the Bhaktivinoda Parivara, we have to let our brain bleed dry. That's where most of the blood is, energizing all those useless thoughts.

Babhru Das - January 15, 2011 1:42 pm

Thanks, Guru-nistha. This an important principle, I think. It reminds me of one of my personal meetings with Srila Prabhupada, in May of '72. Govinda dasi pushed me into the back seat of the car as Srila Prabhupada was preparing to leave the temple after class one evening. She told him that I had been doing all the work of caring for Tulasi-devi since the beginning. Srila Prabhupada smiled and said, "That's very nice and certainly to your credit. But you should always engage your body and your mind in Krishna's service."

Guru-nistha Das - April 1, 2011 11:54 am

NOTES FROM THE EAST COAST PREACHING TOUR

 

Yesterday, after a busy morning of packing, double-checking and triple-checking that we had everything we would need, our Prius headed out from Audarya. This was the first trip with the new traveling party: Guru Maharaja had included me in his permanent preaching team and I was more than excited about the prospect of traveling with him anywhere he would go. Vrindaranya would act as the main servant and I would serve the both of them and do whatever would release their load.

 

Agni would be traveling with us as much as possible as well. For a long time Guru Maharaja has been wanting to go on preaching tours with a bhajan band, to make the presentation richer and to also bring out some of the bhava of Gaudiya Vaishnavism to augment the siddhanta he is distributing. Previously he had talked to me about Gaura Govinda Maharaja and how he would burst into a short kirtan in the middle of his talks when he would make a point in the talk that could be related to a song. During one of this year's Gaura Purnima talks we finally tried it out after a few practices beforehand and we all concluded that it was a great idea and really brought out the emotion and excitement that was retained by the attentive listener during the talk. It gave the audience a chance to express those feelings in real time that normally peak during the talk but unfortunately wane fast afterwards due to our conditioning.

 

We also bought some equipment to record live kirtans with the view to put out records of Agni and Guru Maharaja in the future. We had gotten a portable mixer table/recorder and three wireless headset mics. Goloka came to one of our practices just before we headed out for our trip and when inquired about his chuckling, he said we looked like the Backstreet Boys. But that's the beauty of bhakti: Everything can be used for the right cause.

These recordings will stay around for a long time to come and I think it's essential to make them as good technically as possible.

Guru-nistha Das - April 1, 2011 11:55 am

Car rides with Guru Maharaja are fun. It's much more informal and you don't feel like you're wasting his time by just sitting around and talking because we are forced to just sit around anyway. A lot of the times we talk about what's going on in the mission and right now there seems to be a lot to talk about since things are really picking up. The devotees in North Carolina are preparing to buy land and start a project, New York is full of potential, Madhuvan is moving forward with a great speed, new monk candidates contact us periodically and older devotees are coming to an age where they are again seriously considering full-time ashrama life.

It's inspiring and contagious how Guru Maharaja and Vrindaranya are absorbed in furthering Vraja-bhakti and the Sri Caitanya Sanga. They are constantly scheming on how to create more interest, how to reach out to people, how to expand and build up our monasteries, how to facilitate our congregation to practice more, how to make more money for the mission, and so on.

Guru-nistha Das - April 2, 2011 2:35 am

At the airport the security put us to the scrutiny glass booth at the security check point, as they do to us every single time, and Guru Maharaja went, "Moooooooo" when I entered the booth to accompany him. That's how it felt: we were like cattle to them. Then they patted us down and surprisingly didn't find any bombs and we were good to go.

A Russian-Orthodox monk was right behind me in the security but he didn't get the special treatment. I realized that he had pants under his robes and he had taken his robes, the crucifix necklace and his hat off just before the check and so they didn't touch him. Later he told me that he always does it because the discrimination is so demeaning. Quite the world we are living in when the religious and the monks get scrutinized more than anybody else! When I told the monk that I was going to a lecture tour to assist my teacher, he said, "Oh good, I hope you will be able to convert some atheists! There are a lot of them around nowadays." and he made a face as if he had hit himself on the fingers with a hammer.

Prema-bhakti - April 2, 2011 11:48 am

THANK YOU MR. NISTHA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :):dance::Party::Cow:

Guru-nistha Das - April 2, 2011 7:12 pm

The first morning class of the tour on Thursday was really well attended. The last time I was here about two years ago there were only a handful of devotees here for the mornings but today we had about a 20-head audience.

Guru Maharaja talked about the nature of revelation and the way it descends to us–an expertly tailored talk for the Prabhupada disciples who have hard time getting over certain externals regarding Prabhupada. I've always loved it how Guru Maharaja puts things into historical context. That's exactly what the devotee community needs right now instead of airy, ungrounded ideas about how the spiritual interacts with the material.

 

Seems like the Manjari-rati debate cemented Guru Maharaja's determination to push against the widespread Guru-fanaticism that is so prevalent in today's Gaudiya circles. It's hard for me to understand how so many people find his views suspicious, though. To me it's as much common sense as anything can be and I know for sure that people will recognize these things in time. Circumstances will force people to admit in the future that Guru Maharaja's views were exactly what this tradition needed at this time in the history of western vaishnavism. It's too bad people are so slow to pick up on things. Once this misconception gets cleared up there are probably a host of others waiting in line. But I guess that's just the nature of the beast and that's why preaching will always be needed in this world.

 

After the class Vrindaranya was marveling at Guru Maharaja's ability to connect thoughts and build up on previous points. She was saying how most people are able to make a couple of points during a talk that stand out but Guru Maharaja puts forth one profound point after another. I couldn't agree more.

Guru-nistha Das - April 2, 2011 7:21 pm

The evening class was at Arci and Dulal's in Winston-Salem. The turnout was really good: about 65 people alltogether. Guru Maharaja was given the topic "The Karmic Footprint" by Arci. The crowd mixed: Sufis, bhaktas, advaitins and general seekers. Guru Maharaja went from the idea of ecological footprint to differentiating between matter and spirit to the idea of karma and how spiritual life automatically reduces your negative incuence on the world, both on a cocnrete and subtle level.

We had agreed before the talk to sing Sri Guru Carana Padma (=the lotus feet of the Guru) by the end of the talk and just as Guru Maharaja was ending the talk, he tied the footprint of the Guru into the talk in a brilliant way. He hadn't even thought about the connection before the talk but it came out spontaneously. That's another amazing quality of his talks: the spontaneous integration of subjects he has heard about recently. Often he talks to us about some things he has read or heard before the talk but then in the context of the talk it comes up in a fresh connection, somehow more profound and clear. I guess that's what "drawing down mercy" means?

Braja-sundari Dasi - April 2, 2011 8:58 pm

Thanks Gurunistha! You are very kind to keep us connected. :)

Tadiya Dasi - April 3, 2011 1:10 pm

Thank you for the reports, Gurunistha! :)

Guru-nistha Das - April 5, 2011 2:00 am

As always seems to happen on these preaching tours, I'm once again struggling to keep up with posting updates due to busy schedule. We are in Asheville, NC right now and we spent the first day here looking for a proprety for Audarya East that would be a monastery/householder community. Haven't found it yet but the search goes on. This is a very cool place, I really hope the community will happen as soon as possible.

GopalNandini - April 5, 2011 2:16 am
This is a very cool place, I really hope the community will happen as soon as possible.

ME TOO!!! Thanks for the update. I've been thinking about you all wandering around the mountains all day.

Babhru Das - April 5, 2011 11:24 am

Gurunistha, we're amazed and grateful that you're able to sneak in the time to post the updates you have. Thank you.

Madan Gopal Das - April 5, 2011 12:35 pm

I'll try to post some accounts of the tour but have been busy as well. You can catch some tidbits on my FB page also.

Guru-nistha Das - April 7, 2011 9:10 pm

Our visit to North Carolina was very exciting. Everybody could feel the growing momentum, the atmosphere was electrified. Gopala Nandini and Arci were given second initiations and Rebekah and Wendy got their harinama initiations. The theme for this NC visit was Guru-Tattva and Guru Maharaja started from the first verse of Caitanya-caritamrta where KRsna dasa offers his obeisances to a multitude of Gurus. It felt like these topics really hit a spot in the audience since there has been so many problems in the west regarding the topic.

 

What really topped off the whole visit was our Asheville trip, though. Guru Maharaja has been dreaming of a devotee community in the Asheville area for a few years now and finally things have started to happen rapidly.

 

We arrived to Asheville on Monday morning. Our traveling party was pretty large and colorful: Guru Maharaja, Vrindaranya, Agnideva, Dhrista, Bhaktirasa (ex-Arci), Dulal Chandra and Kanupriya (Kanupriya stayed in Audarya for a few months and she met us in NC. She's planning to come back to Audarya in a few months and try out monastic life) and myself.

We met the realtor, a really nice guy in his mid-thirties, and started our property hunt.

 

The first day was pretty uneventful, we didn't see anything that exciting. THe second day we went to a location close to Lake Lure and Chimney Rock. The natural beauty of these areas is evident from the fact that two major motion pictures were shot there: Dirty Dancing in the Lake Lure area and The Last of the Mohikans at Chimney Rock. The property had about 12 acres of pasture and a nice gradual hill covered with pines and hardwoods. The realtor said that there was another 120 acres on the other side of a road that the owner wanted to sell as well. From a distance it didn't seem like anything special but Guru Maharaja nonetheless wanted to come back the next day to check it out. We went to four other farms that had a lot of nice pastures and views but nothing really stroke us the right way.

 

The next morning we went to the remaining 120 acres and as soon as we got there, Guru Maharaja was sold. And the further we got into the property the more the others started getting an idea of what an amazing piece of land it was. We spent the whole day there and the spirits were high: this is the future location of Audarya East!

Braja-sundari Dasi - April 7, 2011 10:47 pm
The next morning we went to the remaining 120 acres and as soon as we got there, Guru Maharaja was sold. And the further we got into the property the more the others started getting an idea of what an amazing piece of land it was. We spent the whole day there and the spirits were high: this is the future location of Audarya East!

 

:):dance::Party:

 

Any pictures will be available?

Guru-nistha Das - April 8, 2011 1:40 am

We had to rush back to Winston-Salem straight from the property because we were supposed to have a meeting at Bhaktirasa and Dulal's house with all the NC devotees who are interested in being part of the new community. We jumped straight from our trekking gear to lungis and kurtas and presented to the devotees what we had found.

Guru Maharaja gave a very heart-felt talk about his vision for the future of Gaudiya Vaishnavism, how he ended up with that view and how this new prospect is exactly what he feels the Gaudiya tradition needs. THe way he was talking about his purva acharyas' contribution made it very easy to see how what he is doing right now is a perfectly natural and logical continuation of that same dynamic preaching that our parivara is so well-known for. We need a new approach for re-establishing the credibility of our tradition and an open-minded, educated and compassionate spiritual community with a real spiritual focus would no doubt speak volumes to the public.

 

Guru Maharaja said that finding this property is the pinnacle of him coming to NC for seven years, so you can imagine how inspired he is about the whole thing.

Kamalaksa Das - April 9, 2011 10:10 am

A few pictures from yesterdays program at Pure Yoga.

swami_3.jpg

swami_4.jpg

swami1.jpg

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swami_5.jpg

Guru-nistha Das - April 9, 2011 12:23 pm

We woke up before 3 am on Thursday at Bhaktirasa's and caught a 6 AM flight to the Albany airport where Sacisuta (the Mantralogy guy) came to pick us up. Prema-bhakti is staying in one of Sacisuta's houses and the house would be the base for Guru Maharaja's New York area tour.

We finally had a little time to breathe after a week of very intense schedule and I have to say it was pretty nice. We settled in, I did some laundry, we had a nice lunch Prema-bhakti and mother Kaulini had cooked for us, and in the evening Satsvarupa Maharaja, who lives right across the street, came over with a few devotees and we chanted and Guru Maharaja talked briefly on Guru -Tattva.

 

Yesterday morning the usual chaos ensued again. A big pile of laundry, cooking lunch (always a pain in a new kitchen), packing stuff up, cleanup, and on the road towards possibly the most hellish of cities: New York.

 

We saw endless rows of dirty railway yards, storage buildings, graffiti everywhere, kids playing basket ball, dirty bridges and armies of people. Somehow we ended up in Brooklyn instead of Manhattan (the GPS picked up the wrong 3rd st) and finally arrived to an apartment building owned by a Prabhupada disciple named Adi das who very much likes Guru Maharaja.

Satyaraja (Steven Rosen) was here to greet Guru Maharaja and they exchanged some cordial words and chatted a little about publishing and other things. Kanubhai, Guru Maharaja's disciple who's also a native New yorker, took Agni, Vrindaranya and myself to the venue Pure Yoga to set up for the program. I had heard before that it is the most upscale yoga studio in the whole of New York City, and I could see it when we entered. I could also see a skinny, pale Finn in the midst of the slim, sparsely but expensively clad yoga ladies: Kamalaksa!

 

Guru Maharaja gave an expert talk on the nature of the Gita and Eastern revelation in general. He took it from general vedanta to the GAudiya conception in a compelling way. It was hard to tell during the talk what the crowd was thinking. People in New York are saturated with everything so their threshold of excitement seems to be way higher than probably any other place in the world. On top of that, Pure Yoga is the most upscale yoga studio in the whole New York. The fact that the tickets to the program were $25 gives an idea of what I'm talking about.

After the class, though, the proof of success came: more than half of the audience bought a book! It was definitely gratifying. And most people came to Guru Maharaja, wanting him to sign their edition. The fourth printing of the Gita just came fresh from the printer and this was a fine first sale.

Madan Gopal Das - April 9, 2011 12:45 pm

Sorry I've been so slack on the updates. GM has been very busy teaching and giving his sanga so I'll try to give a quick overview of the schedule so far to let you all know what's been going on.

 

GM and his party arrived in NC 3/30 and first thing GM gave a class the next morning (3/31) in Prabhupada Village. The crowd there has over the years been a mix of antagonistic, inquisitive and supportive people eager to hear from him for one reason or another. The classes there tend to be directed towards bringing the devotees further along in their understanding of Prabhupada, challenging misconceptions brought up in questions and commentary on current Iskcon related issues. The last couple of years there has been less of the latter, and GM is able to focus more on his expert presentation of the philosophy. This first class is titled Dynamic Revelation on swamitripurari.com, and GM really nicely discusses the presentation of the philosophy in a historical timeline highlighting the method of presentation of successive acaryas. Then at the end of the class GM gives his commentary on the issue of editing, changing Prabhupada's books. He highlights the pro's and con's of both sides of the argument and then true to form, GM throws in a "zinger" to make people think; he says that both parties are on the same side, and that their fault is in centering on Prabhupada's books being "the books."

Babhru Das - April 9, 2011 12:53 pm

Oh, sweet. Thanks, y'all.

Madan Gopal Das - April 9, 2011 1:17 pm

whoops, Guru-nistha beat me to it! To catch you up...

3/31 evening was Bhakti-rasa (formerly Arci)/Dulal Chandra's place in Winston-Salem. That is the "Reducing your Karmic Footprint".

4/1 am GM gave another class in Prabhupada Village which is the Ramananda Samvad class.

4/1 pm GM came to my house in Hillsborough for the start of four classes on Guru Tattva - the CC classes on his site.

4/3 am to top of GM's wonderful presentation of the CC mangalacarana, he initiated several devotees. This really makes me proud to feel the NC sanga is really moving forward.

4/3 evening GM traveled to Cary and spoke on Sacrifice Wisdom and Love in religions - organized by Drishta/Rudrani.

4/4 - just when we thought our sanga couldn't be more enlivened, GM and some of the NC devotees went to research land in Asheville. I think the feeling at first was that THE place wouldn't be found this time, but GM would be able to get some ideas, check things out and make some progress towards further research. As Gurunistha describes, the second day GM was called to a particular piece. That evening he said that he prayed to Krsna-Balaram to show him what to do. The next day when he walked onto this piece of land he said "it was like Krsna's flute in one ear and Rama's buffalo horn in the other - THIS IS IT!"

4/6 evening GM came back from Asheville and "pitched" the idea to most of our sanga. The response is enthusing. And GM moves fast! I've been telling people here for years that when GM sets his mind to something, the world changes. He has mystic powers! I don't know where the money comes from, how the practical things happen, but when GM really wills something it is destined to happen - and you can count on it!

4/7 - GM and party fly to NY. I drove there to meet them and we're using my van to drive around to all these programs.

4/8 - As we're driving into NYC I'm thinking "oh my god, do I really want to be doing this?" Driving in NYC is like off-roading, 4 wheel driving in NC except that you're surrounded by other cars and people and there is nothing natural about it (trees, dirt). Even the dirt here is not the nice dirt that feels good under your feet. Everything is tainted with petroleum, money and the emptiness of unfulfilled desire. Rajo-guna! Sorry, I guess I'm not a fan of the city! I have to see something green or else my mind is disturbed. GM spoke this night at Pure Yoga. I drove us back to "Sanctuary Suites" after the program and as I was navigating the Calcutta like traffic lVrindaranya very simply said of the whole scene - "I don't see what the attraction is."

4/9 - current. We're waiting for some breakfast (Donut Planet - devotee made donuts!) and will leave to go to a devotee oriented program in New Jersey this afternoon.

Sridama Dasa - April 9, 2011 1:29 pm

I attended last night's event at Pure Yoga and a really nice realization about GM hit me this morning while I was thinking about his talk. I first met GM in the summer of 2002, not that long after his Gita edition first came out, so it was neat that he began speaking last night on the first words of his I ever read – the introduction to that Gita commentary.

 

GM spoke last night about taking a morning walk with Prabhupada and some other disciples and how, after the conversation turned to book distribution, Prabhupada spoke directly to him for the first time and, quoting Gita, encouraged him to always do this work of spreading the message of the Gita. Nothing can make the devotee more dear to Krsna, Prabhupada said. In this way he encouraged his students to not only distribute his books, but to ultimately write their own, which we know is the essence of parampara.

 

This morning I thought about all the criticism GM received after publishing his Gita edition. "We already have Prabhupada's Gita, what else could we need?" "Who does he think he is, Prabhupada??" But if you really think about it, Prabhupada took the written instruction of his own guru (to preach in the west) directly on his head and never looked back. If he hadn't, none of us would be here. So why should our GM have taken his Prabhupada's instruction anything but just as seriously? It just makes all that criticism seem so hollow.

 

So, the talk last night was great. My wife commented to me afterward that this was the first time she'd heard GM speak in a public, non-devotee setting, and she was impressed with his ability to relate the message of the Gita in such an understandable way. I hope the other attendees were able to draw something from the talk, and like Guru-Nistha said, it was awesome to see so many of them buy books afterward! Looking forward to the rest of his long-awaited trip here :)

GopalNandini - April 9, 2011 1:36 pm
:):dance::Party:

 

Any pictures will be available?

 

 

Vrindaranya just posted some pics of the property here http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=102...2&aid=87583

GopalNandini - April 9, 2011 1:44 pm
"oh my god, do I really want to be doing this?"

"I don't see what the attraction is."

We're waiting for some breakfast (Donut Planet - devotee made donuts!)

 

LOL!! You guys crack me up, and my mouth and heart are watering thinking about warm donuts followed by GM!! If you have to be in NY, that doesn't sound like a bad reward for your suffering!! Safe travels my friends!

Syamasundara - April 9, 2011 3:42 pm
"it was like Krsna's flute in one ear and Rama's buffalo horn in the other - THIS IS IT!"

 

:Cow::):dance::Party:

Babhru Das - April 9, 2011 3:49 pm
"I don't see what the attraction is."

Perfect! And I sear that as I read that, I heard Vrinda's voice, almost (alas, only almost) as if I were sitting next to her in the van.

 

And ditto to what GopalNandini said about the donuts with GM as an appropriate reward for undertaking the austerity of helping him with his preaching in NYC.

Madan Gopal Das - April 10, 2011 3:19 am

Whew! :dance: Long day. GM chanted some japa on the roof of Sanctuary Suites while Gurunistha Prema and myself took a walk to a couple nearby pilgrimage spots - Tompkins Square Park and 26 2nd ave. Manohara from Canada (Facebook friend of many of us) was at Pure Yoga last night and also made it by this morning to see GM just before we left. Nice young man.

I wasn't too sad to see the NYC skyline in my rearview mirror as we left. Last night as I was sitting waiting for a parking spot a big fat rat ran across the road in front of a speeding taxi. So I guess NYC does have its own version of nature. In the country you've got deer and squirrels running across the road as we cruise through their natural territory. Here in NYC you've got rats! :)

 

As we drove down to the program in NJ GM said just a little bit about his growing up in NJ. Grinning, he said he was proud to be from Jersey, wherefrom the famous Jersey cows come from. I thought that something about this state produces very generous milk overflowing species. ;)

GM said that he grew up on Hillside Ave in Teaneck until he was about 8. http://maps.google.com/maps?q=hillside+ave.%2C+teaneck+nj He said that it was a big hill and as boys they used to do fun stuff like catch snakes and put them in jars! I got kind of excited to go check it out and see the house that GM grew up in, but alas we just did not have the time.

 

The program this afternoon was excellent. Pretty much an all devotee audience, similar to what we have in NC. This program was hosted by Prema's friend Stacia and there were probably 35 people. It was also Agnideva's birthday!!! :Party:

 

GM gave an amazing class. As many of you know, GM can expertly travel all over the philosophy, giving the audience a grand tour. Sometimes I'm astounded how he can bring it all together, but he makes it so smooth and the ride is so appealing you just can't resist following him. This may sound like an extreme example, but how can someone talk about scientific theory and the multiverse conception and in the same breath be discussing vraja-lila? Sastra-yukti, that's how. GM was talking about the multiverse, the unlimitedness of the material world, growing by giving, the bigness of love and Yasoda-mayi looking into Krsna's mouth for dirt - and it all fit together perfectly! And then into the song - yasomati-nandana. Wow!

 

I have to say that the kirtans during all of these talks have been fantastic. I'm so happy to do this seva. It really augments the class, and GM so naturally brings in a spot for a song into his talk. It is just such a sublime presentation!

 

GM met with several people after the class. His godbrother/godsister Laxmi-Nrsimha and Patarajni were here. Then GM met with several devotees who he's inspired in various ways throughout the years. Nothing really formal yet, but I think we'll be hearing more from several of them and you may know some on FB. Keep in touch with them! I pitched one or two people to come down to join us in NC. :Cow:

 

Stacia made great mac and cheese and a few other preps, including yummy cupcakes for Agni.

Jumped in the van for a 3.5 hour drive back to upstate NY. Over and out. Good night all.

Nitaisundara Das - April 10, 2011 3:40 am

Thanks for all the updates!

Citta Hari Dasa - April 11, 2011 4:22 pm
Thanks for all the updates!

 

 

Ditto that!

Madan Gopal Das - April 11, 2011 4:37 pm

Sunday 4/10. Mellow off day. GM went for a stroll around Sacisuta/Keli-lalita's property and Keli gave him the scoop on the area - everything from farming, to the yoga network to Waldorf schools. She said that after 9/11 this area became popular for people wanting to move out of NYC. Afterwards GM and Agnideva had lunch with Satsvarupa Maharaj. Gurunistha and I had the leftovers and did some scrubbinum pot-a-sevanam. Just as we were finishing a messenger came to tell us that "Tripurari Maharaj commands you both to come over to get your butts kicked (in basketball), and that you guys need some exercise." Joining in the mood Nistha and I strutted over, determined to show Swami who was swami on the court! GM can really talk "smack", it's hilarious!

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And so our game ensued... GM and Vrindaranya vs. me and Nistha. GM was having a lot of fun, and he gets aggressive in his play. Yet he's such a team player too, urging Vrindaranya to take the shots. I could hardly stop giggling it was so fun.

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The rest of the day was really laid back. Gurunistha, Agni and I practiced some tunes and then to finish the night me and gurunistha got to take a So-ah-na (GM using his Finn accent to say sauna) and hot tub break with GM.

 

Monday 4/11. Had breakfast with our gang and Vrindaranya led us in analysis of all our personalities via Enneagrams. It was a fun exercise in thinking about ourselves and our people. I gave GM a neck massage... One thing I continually appreciate about our sanga and the monks who live with GM is that they are "normal" down to earth, real people who aren't putting on a show to be something different than they are. What you see is what you get, and yet there is a depth behind them that you can't really "get", control, or feel you've figured them out. I feel lucky to get closer to such people and learn more about them, understand them and also join in the fun with them.

 

We're having lunch now and then off to stay at Sridama's tonight. Maybe we'll have a program?

Madan Gopal Das - April 11, 2011 4:52 pm

few more pics:

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Nitaisundara Das - April 11, 2011 4:56 pm

Oh man, the jealousy factor is increasing. The first picture of GM holding the ball is classic! You can see he is in "bring it on" mode and poised to mock the opposition.

Braja-sundari Dasi - April 11, 2011 6:40 pm

Thanks for the updates Madan! Pictures are wonderful! :Cow:

GopalNandini - April 11, 2011 7:25 pm
Oh man, the jealousy factor is increasing.

I'm with Nitai, but I was laughing out loud just thinking about it!! So who won??

Babhru Das - April 11, 2011 9:58 pm

Talk about yer baggy shorts!

Guru-nistha Das - April 11, 2011 11:14 pm
I'm with Nitai, but I was laughing out loud just thinking about it!! So who won??

 

Just guess, Gopal... :Cow:

Nitaisundara Das - April 11, 2011 11:53 pm

GM must hav lost, and therefore Madan, being a classy character, did not mention it. This is what I thought when I read earlier and it was confirmed by GM when I spoke to him briefly.

GopalNandini - April 12, 2011 12:38 am
Just guess, Gopal... :Cow:

 

Is it bonifide to beat your Gurumaharaja at basketball??? You guys should've let him win... :D

Guru-nistha Das - April 12, 2011 1:24 am
Is it bonifide to beat your Gurumaharaja at basketball??? You guys should've let him win... :Cow:

 

I sometimes wonder that myself, but then my competitiveness gets the best of me!

Madan Gopal Das - April 12, 2011 1:37 am

@ Gopal - We took on some extra players, Keli went to GM's team and Saci came to ours. Close, but we beat 'em. GM even tried a slam dunk!

******************

Wow, it got better folks! Just after lunch GM and a few of us went to take darsana of Kaulini's Giriraj. Then GM wandered out in the back and Vrindaranya proposed to GM that we check out the trampoline. Of course GM was game! I ran to get my camera knowing that this was not a moment to miss. After kicking the soccer ball around a bit GM and Vrindaranya were quickly bouncing. GM was impressed by Vrindaranya's moves, she did a flip while he was on the phone and GM yelled WHOA! Vrindaranya just flipped! It was so so funny. GM is super playful. I jumped on the trampoline and suggested we play "crack the egg." When I explained to GM what it was he made me the egg and he and Vrinda fiercely bounced me until I cracked. Then GM decided to be the egg. Vrinda and I bounced him high and he was LAAAAAUUUGHHHING so hard! I started crying I was laughing so much. Vrindaranya was egging(!) him on saying that he'd be an easy crack. When we finally cracked him he lay down on the trampoline flat and just laughed and laughed and laughed. I've never seen him laugh like that. He said a couple times "that's a great game!" Then Vrinda's turn. She was drdha-vrata. I don't think GM and I were able to crack her, and she was not phased by our assault.

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From there we took a walk down the block to the local waterfall on Kinderhook Creek. Creek is certainly the wrong word for this massive river. GM commented there about how disappointing it is to him that people don't work with nature, for example here they came to such a place and didn't "listen to the river", instead building a waterfall for hydro-electric power. Very scenic area though and an ideal place to have a little town on the banks of this beautiful river.

 

Drove down to Sridama's...

Syamasundara - April 12, 2011 3:41 am
One thing I continually appreciate about our sanga and the monks who live with GM is that they are "normal" down to earth, real people who aren't putting on a show to be something different than they are. What you see is what you get, and yet there is a depth behind them that you can't really "get", control, or feel you've figured them out.

 

As opposed to what (without getting into details or criticism, but I haven't had any significant contact with other missions in 15 years)?

 

As far as the egg cracking thing, not quite sure I've understood the game, but try to bring GM back in one piece! Trampolines are quite fun, but the day after you are sore EVERYWHERE. Plus, without proper warm-up or coordination one could get severely injured. Anyway, glad it wasn't the case this time and to hear that he laughed hard.

 

Thanks for the update!

Madan Gopal Das - April 12, 2011 11:52 am

GM is very enthused with ideas about the land in NC and on the drive down to Sridama's (4/11) he was reviewing the layout with Gurunistha. GM again spoke about his idea to "own land for Krsna" in prime locations and to develop land projects that attract people just by their beauty and charm. GM commented on how Iskcon historically bought old buildings like churches, masonic temples, etc and concentrated on book distribution (which was very valuable) while now a different approach to both book publication and temple/project development is warranted.

 

Sridama and Heidi have been very gracious hosts. Sridama made dinner last night and GM chatted with everyone. Heidi and Sridama told us about their jobs working for non-profits in the city. Kamalaksa and Shyam-gopala are here and it has been great to see them. Kamalaksa told GM about the comic book convention he was attending over the weekend and the success of selling 60 some of their products. Shyama-gopala talked about his business, green investing and GM inquired as to when he was going to move to the states!

 

After dinner we had some really nice bhajans. GM came down from his room and led a few; sri guru carana padma, jaya radha madhava... the place was rockin'! I did record them and we'll see how it turns out.

 

Getting ready for breakfast. Then later we'll be off to the city. President Obama is coming to see GM this afternoon :Cow: and then GM speaks at Jivamukti yoga studio tonight.

 

I leave the party tomorrow morning... :D

Kamalaksa Das - April 12, 2011 12:24 pm

A few pictures from yesterdays program.

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Krsna Caitanya Das - April 12, 2011 1:02 pm
I sometimes wonder that myself, but then my competitiveness gets the best of me!

 

 

I was just joking, besides, I'm pretty sure HE let you guys win :Cow: This is Gopal Nandini, by the way, accidentally posting as my husband!

GopalNandini - April 12, 2011 1:24 pm
@ Gopal - We took on some extra players, Keli went to GM's team and Saci came to ours. Close, but we beat 'em. GM even tried a slam dunk!

******************

Wow, it got better folks! Just after lunch GM and a few of us went to take darsana of Kaulini's Giriraj. Then GM wandered out in the back and Vrindaranya proposed to GM that we check out the trampoline. Of course GM was game! I ran to get my camera knowing that this was not a moment to miss. After kicking the soccer ball around a bit GM and Vrindaranya were quickly bouncing. GM was impressed by Vrindaranya's moves, she did a flip while he was on the phone and GM yelled WHOA! Vrindaranya just flipped! It was so so funny. GM is super playful. I jumped on the trampoline and suggested we play "crack the egg." When I explained to GM what it was he made me the egg and he and Vrinda fiercely bounced me until I cracked. Then GM decided to be the egg. Vrinda and I bounced him high and he was LAAAAAUUUGHHHING so hard! I started crying I was laughing so much. Vrindaranya was egging(!) him on saying that he'd be an easy crack. When we finally cracked him he lay down on the trampoline flat and just laughed and laughed and laughed. I've never seen him laugh like that. He said a couple times "that's a great game!" Then Vrinda's turn. She was drdha-vrata. I don't think GM and I were able to crack her, and she was not phased by our assault.

From there we took a walk down the block to the local waterfall on Kinderhook Creek. Creek is certainly the wrong word for this massive river. GM commented there about how disappointing it is to him that people don't work with nature, for example here they came to such a place and didn't "listen to the river", instead building a waterfall for hydro-electric power. Very scenic area though and an ideal place to have a little town on the banks of this beautiful river.

 

Drove down to Sridama's...

 

 

OMG!! Just when I thought it couldn't get better than you all playing basketball!! GO VRINDARANYA!! Way to have fun!!! I was laughing myself to tears :Cow: Why didn't Gurunishta play??

We used to play hours of crack the egg, it is a great game. I guess Vrindaranya won this time...I'm not surprised. Sorry that you're leaving them, Madan, but we'll be glad for you to come home and share the nectar with us!! You'll be back in time for bhajan night, eh?? Thanks for sharing. Makes my day!! Happy Rama Navami!!

Madan Gopal Das - April 12, 2011 2:11 pm
we'll be glad for you to come home and share the nectar with us!!

After tonight, there are no programs until this Sat/Sun. I'm almost very seriously considering driving back up Friday night with a van full of NC sanga. Kids would have tons of fun, bring some tents, camp out in the field in the back. katha, kirtan, yoga... sports!

Audarya-lila Dasa - April 12, 2011 3:34 pm

Madan Gopal -

 

Act on your inspiration. Believe me, the rest of the sanga wishes it was possible to be there - if you can do it then GO FOR IT!!! BTW - awesome reports! I wish I was there to play BB and jump on the trampoline with you all (and, of course, chant and hear Hari katha :Cow: ). The pics are fantastic and all of you who are reporting on what's happening are doing a wonderful service. Thank you sooooo much.

GopalNandini - April 12, 2011 4:15 pm
After tonight, there are no programs until this Sat/Sun. I'm almost very seriously considering driving back up Friday night with a van full of NC sanga. Kids would have tons of fun, bring some tents, camp out in the field in the back. katha, kirtan, yoga... sports!

 

Here you go tempting me again!!!

Bhakti-rasa - April 12, 2011 9:16 pm

oh, man. I have Earth Day festival to cook for or I'd be hitching a ride with you Madan. Do it! Do it! Do it! You're our lifeline with your great reports.

Kamalaksa Das - April 13, 2011 2:24 pm

From yesterdays program. First batch.

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Kamalaksa Das - April 13, 2011 2:41 pm

Second batch

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Kamalaksa Das - April 13, 2011 2:44 pm

Third batch