Kamalaksa Das - March 26, 2005 9:12 am

Dear friends,


one day a disturbing thought entered my mind. I suddenly feared that our attempts to report about happening from our cold country up North could be misunderstood to be mere self indulgence. Or as a way to paint a picture of us here being some kind of super devotees.


This illusion, if such exist outside my own mind, is a bubble bound to burst once we set foot on American soil...


With these thoughts in mind I offer a request to all of you out there reading Tattva-viveka: write something about your lives. About how you practice Krishna Consciousness. About how you live your daily life in pursuit of perfection.


Don't let the burden rest on the meager shoulders of us poor Finns! Poland? Sweden? Scotland? America? Is anyone out there!?


And still, risking the fact that we might be seen as shamelessly tooting our own horn, I think at least some of you enjoy reading of our attempts to reach transcendence, stories often packed with lots of good will, but very minute power.


With this intro behind me, I now dive into the depths of giving eye-witness accounts of our combined, two-in-one, festivities. For those out there having no clue of what this mad man is ranting about I reveal that we took the liberty of celebrating Vyasa-puja and Gaura-purnima the same day.


This, because persons such as Bhrigu had to travel from afar to reach our desolate position. (The distance being equal to something like almost 30 miles.)


As usual the festivities took place in the house of Krishangi and Kamalaksa. Not many reached their intended destination, thus attendance was limited to the following personalities.


Our earlier account all ready placed Bhrigu on the scene; our younger god-brother had hitched a ride here with two punk rockers. They being identified later on as Mikko and Jananivas.


Hanna had the misfortune of arriving a day early, and therefore had to take part in cleaning the house. And yes, an analogy to the cleaning of the Gundicha temple is really out of place here!


Others planned to come, but as Laksmi couldn't enter the rasa-dance, so our friends were also inhibited by various circumstances.


Kamalaksa Das - March 26, 2005 9:15 am

So with the crew in place we began the celebrations at midday.


We started off with our Vyasa-puja by singing the song Gurudeva by Bhaktivinode. Krishangi led the kirtana. And even though she certainly made a valiant attempt, future biographies will not list our singing to be gandharva-like. Still, we pulled it through, once again making silent vows in our minds to learn to sing before the next festival takes place.


The song sang, me moved on to the puspanjali ceremony. For those out there not as well versed in sanskrit as I am, this means throwing flowers. We had set up a picture of Swami on our red chair which we had decided would function as our vyasasana.


We recited the pranama mantra word by word under Bhrigu's guidance three times, throwing flowers at the end of each mantra. For this I had assured both roses (red), and carnations (white). Only to later learn that red flowers are more rarely used in vaisnava ceremonies, they being reserved for worship of Siva.


After this formal part of the ceremony Bhrigu gave a short talk about the meaning of vyasa-puja, as well as the concept of guru. Then he gave the word to the audience.


Kamalaksa Das - March 26, 2005 9:19 am

Each of us then recounted some for us memorable incident in relation to Guru Maharaja or spoke about their feelings for him.


I began by telling the by now well-known tale of the time preceding our initiation; how I was content lying on the beach in Venice, Los Angeles, with Krishangi wanting to go to Audarya. And how I, already in San Francisco, waiting for our (very late) guide and driver, tried to propose going to see the sea lions instead.


Bhrigu then continued by telling us how he first had listened to Swami's lectures and then met him for the first time in Denmark. He recalled thinking that Swami was a very good speaker but finding his confidence a bit unusual for a sannyasi, being used to people making a fuss about their humility. Us Finns having a long history of confusing confidence with pride.


He told us how he even at this time saw Swami as the foremost of present day preachers of Chaitanyas gospel, but later on he came to see that Swami also was the foremost practitioner.


Jananivas told us he had had in mind telling something about the correspondence he had with Swami, but had forgotten the e-mail at home, and thus being unable to say anything. Here our IT department intervened, quickly re-printing the mail, allowing Jananivas the opportunity to speak.


He told us how moved he was of Swami's tolerance for other Vaishnava groups. How he himself was tired of the petty arguing going on between groups who clearly share a much bigger common ground that their small differences. He saw Swami as exemplary in even this regard.


Krishangi spoke about how she had somehow done everything the wrong way, being initiated first, only later to understand the full implications of this.


She told us how prior to our initiation she had been testing Swami, asking questions, awaiting for an answer she could object to. Fearing that beneath the liberal and kind surface laid a similar intolerant woman-hater she had encountered so many times earlier on her spiritual path.


Receiving to date nothing to object to in Swami's teachings she made a vyasa-puja pledge not to ask any more silly feminist questions, as well as agreeing (with gritted teeth) to even accept the possibility that if Swami and she had differing opinions there just might be a small chance that she was wrong. God forbid!


Mikko told us of his dilemma of wanting a relationship with Swami, having confidence in him, and still not wanting to disturb Him with silly or useless questions or opinions. Many of us are somewhat shy in approaching people, even more so someone like Swami.


We spoke of how relationships evolve, how trust is a thing that doesn't necessarily appear instantaneously, but rather that it grows when getting to know the person better and better.


Mikko confessed that he would like to be able to sit down and speak with Swami man to man, but fearing for some breach of etiquette.


In this relation we also spoke for some time about respect; how Swami doesn't demand respect from us, but that respect naturally comes.


Then Hanna recollected her first encounters with Krishna consciousness, and how she came over Swami's teachings on the web. She also told us how she had tried to corner devotees, making them reveal their true colors, and how she, asking Swami questions, had tried to play him the same trick.


You see, Hanna is not one who leaves anything to chance; when asking a question, she already imagines the answer herself, mentally already preparing an objection. Amazing enough Hanna was surprised by Swami's well thought-out answers, which even exceeded her planned answers in depth and understanding.


As with the most of us, she too said that she has a hard time trusting people, but felt that now she had crossed some invisible barrier even in this regard.


We also spoke how much we appreciated Swamis ability to deal with everyone of us as individuals, taking in consideration our special abilities and disabilities, granting each one of us an opportunity to serve.


As a sign of this flexibility we thought back to two different initiation ceremonies; one being the one where Krishangi and I were initiated, early in the morning, we being clad in old worn out jeans and a less than clean skirt, quite ex tempore. The other being the initiation ceremony held last summer at our cottage; with intricate fire sacrifices and a short shower of rain at the end making it even more auspicious.


Then Bhrigu gave a very nice explanations of the pranama mantra. He explained it line by line, starting at the bottom, then reading the first line, then the second and third. Apparently this is the trick to understanding sanskrit.


He also let us in on many (well, two) hidden meanings of the mantra. What those are I cannot reveal here. You do not have security clearance for this intel. (I know, I have been watching to many CIA related TV shows.)


But if you try to get on good foot with Bhrigu he just might let you in on the hidden meanings. Also bribing him with candy has been known to do the trick.


With this, our short but sweet Vyasa-puja ceremony had come to its end, all of us moving to the kitchen to prepare the feast for Lord Chaitanya. This being discussed in greater depth in part two of our report. Coming soon.


Shyam Gopal Das - March 26, 2005 11:49 am

Thanks for sharing this, Kamalaksa. Stuff like this makes me want to jump on an airplane to Finland.

About sharing our experiences, some of us have already been doing this and I hope keep on doing this. For instance, I thought the latest post by Nanda-tanuja Prabhu was very inspiring to see how a business trip can be turned into a devotional journey.


One issue that I would like to see more addressed is how we pursue Krishna consciousness in our daily lives, while working 40 hours a week, and having to do all kinds of chores. For me, just having entered working life, or the real world as some people keep telling me, I find it hard to find a balance between my devotional interests and making a living. Maybe this would be nice as a separate topic., of how we all deal with this.

Kamalaksa Das - March 26, 2005 10:13 pm

Back we are, new and improved, to present the suspence-filled public with a rendering of the second part of two of our festivities.


Once the Vyasa-puja was celebrated we relocated to the kitchen. This was a short journey, as our kitchen is next to our make-shift temple room. The day before Krishangi and I had packed our fridge with vegetables and milk, cursing the bad weather in southern Europe that had prices sky-rocketing. Stupid southern Euope!


Everyone took part in the cooking. Some more in the peeling and cutting department, while the more seasoned cooks were allowed by the stove.


We worked in the kitchen for about four or five hours - sometimes under serene conditions, and sometimes under more intense ones. Still, no one got hurt, and every dish turned out more or less ok.


During the last leg of cooking we also saw Hanna learn garland making from our younger god-brother Bhrigu. And a fine garland it was. (Although she herself, humble as always, thought Bhrigu's was better.


You can see the garlands in the picture below, but I have to confess that in all the action that ensued I came to lose control over whose garland made it to Sad-bhuja, whose to Lord Chaitanya. Both are fine, if you ask me!


Kamalaksa Das - March 26, 2005 10:15 pm

Bhrigu performed arotik, while the rest of us tried to sing. Unfortunately no miracle had insued during our kitchen hours, and our singing sounded just alike earlier.


In this context I would like to share with you an (unintentional, I hope) mistake Krishangi made while leading. Being the feminist she is she wasn't obviously content with the song summoning Brahma and all the Gods. Thus she for her part summoned Brahma and all the Goddesses.


Of course I wouldn't have noticed any difference, but our expert brahmin revealed to us the true colors of Krishangi evident even when communicating in sanskrit.


Otherwise the arotik went fine, and after it we decided to sing some more. This time it sounded a little bit better, as it was a more familiar song - Jaya Sacinandana - which we sing at our Gita meetings. Also, since Bhrigu didn't have to offer arotik he too could join in fullheartedly.


And as usual we had Bhrigu give a short talk of the reason for celebrating Gaura-purnima. Yet, in his sneakiness he bombarded the somewhat tired audience with questions. This kept all of us awake.


And as the questions were quite easy (i.e. why did Lord Chaitanya appear on this earth?) even I was able to participate. Which was fun.


Bhrigu spoke about the life of Lord Chaitanya, and how his activities had two red lines correlating with the reasons of His appearance. At different times his side as a teacher of bhakti was more dominant, and at other times his personal ecstasy tasting the love of Radha had for Krishna was more dominant.


Still, in the latter part of Lord Chaitanya's life the second reason dominated almost completely, while the first wasn't visible.


He added that the acharya lila is for the moment more important for us, and added that the personal ecstasies were somewhat frightening. This, when envisioning limbs shrinking or stretching, Lord Chaitanya running around like a madman etc.


The talk was quite short, as mentioned earlier on. Even though Bhrigu had threatened us he would speak for three full hours. This made the audience share worried glances with each other, as the next number was probably the most awaited one, that is prasadam seva.


Still, we agreed that one question had to be asked in order that the Goddesses wouldn't think we had congregated just for a meal.


So one question was asked. Bhrigu spoke for instance of Lord Chaitanyas final days, and about his followers at that time. He took special pleasure in telling Krishangi about the listed three and a half followers that accompanied Lord Caitanya at the end of his manifest lila. The half being a woman.


Still, no long-winded arguments were heard, and as some discussion had ensued, we felt it was alright to move to the kitchen, remembering Napoleon's maxim of how the army marches with its stomach.


Kamalaksa Das - March 26, 2005 10:16 pm

And then what from the looks of the audience was an important if not the most important part of the evening, prasadam was served.


The dishes we prepared were as follows.


Mango chutney; Hanna shredded the mangoes, Krishangi cooked them.


Apple chutney; complete with ten chillies, and a heap of sugar. Mikko peeled the apples.


Lassi; made from blueberries. Jananivas drank water.


Fried bitter melon; this weird dish defies our western logic, it simultaneously tastes good and bad!


Sakh (curd and spinach); self evidently served, being reputed as one of Lord Chaitanyas favorites.


Potato-bellpepper stew with grated coconut; also a perennial ekadasi favorite, easy to prepare, quite economic, as well as filling.


Sweet potatoes and spinach; acclaimed in a local women's magazine to be a trendy dish at the moment. We just omitted the onion.


Tapioca potato patties; best things ever on ekadsis.


Cucumber raita; something to cool you down after the chutneys.


Broccoli and carrot in cream; very tasty with the apple chutney.


A green salad; Krishangi insisted on having something fresh!


Tomato soup with panir; has to be the most un-vegan dish as it contains curd, whey and cream. Plus some amount of tomato paste.


Shredded carrot; Kamalaksas new favorite, despite being ridiculously easy to prepare.


Cauliflower and potatoes in sourcream sauce; the unhealthy subji, as we took to deepfrying.


Marjarahka; a substance in between shrikand and yogurt, apparently lacking an English equivalent. Basically berries, milk products and sugar. As most Vaisnava sweets...


Coconut sweets; Krishangi's outreach to our vegan companion.


Bhrigu's ginger barfi; sticky and big balls of sugar and milk.


Bhrigus coconut barfi; another sweet that made use of the weird cans containing condensed milk. How is it made? Speculations were that you leave an open milk carton in the sun for a long enough while.


At the last hours of fasting Krishangi especially started showing wear and tear. Being a lady who gets angry if she is prohibited from eating breakfast for more than half an hour from waking up this was quite a test for her. Still, she made it to the end.


Sitting around the kitchen table, everyone ate with good appetite, having worked up quite a hunger during the long fasting hours. Some ate more, some less.


Given this account of dishes, how many of you out there now regret that you didn't make it here? Still, we hope to see you next time!


Kamalaksa Das - March 26, 2005 10:19 pm

And finally an attempt to display an example of the law of karma where every action has a reaction.


The reaction of the boys overeating can bee seen in the picture below! (My friends in school actually had a theory that stated that since devotees do not drink liquor they eat themselves to an intoxicated state of mind. I cannot completely refute the validity of this claim...)


So, how did your celebrations go?


Babhru Das - March 27, 2005 8:35 am

Here's a quick synopsis of the festival we had here on Hawaii Island (the Big Island). This is not going to be as much fun as Kamalaksa's report on the festivities of the sages of Suomi, but here goes:


In the morning, we cooked a little feast for our Thakurajis and offerered heaps of Tulasi majarais and puakenikeni flowers to Parama-karuna Sri Sri Nitai-Goursundar, Sri Sri Krishna-Balarama (our little, tiny Giriajas--see my "avatar" at left), Sri Murali-manohara (our Shalagama-shila), and our guest Deities. We've been taking care of my godbrother Nischintya's Jagannath Deities for several months, and our friend Jagaddhatri left her Deities in our care while she's in India.


Our festival here on Hawaii was celebrated at the Temple of the Golden Volcano of Divine Love in Honokaa. Our Gaudiya vaishnava community here is comprised of disciples of Srila A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, Srila B. R. Sridhara-deva Maharaja, Srila B. P. Puri Maharaja, Sripad. B. V. Narayan Maharaja, Sripad B. B. Bodhayan Maharaja, and Sripad B. A. Paramadvaiti Maharaja, and a siksa follower of our own Swami B. V. Tripurari. (That's me; when Sripad Bhakti-Tirtha Maharaja came to a couple of our programs last Fall, he included Swami in the prema-dvani, apparently out of deference to me.)


We had bhajans, an abhiseka, and kirtan at the Gaura-arati was led by Pariksit prabhu, the well-know BBT artist, who lives here now. Class was given by three disciples of Srila Prabhupada, Vidagdha Madhava (who also has mantra diksa from Sridhar Maharaja), me (Babhru), and Gopavrindapal. We talked about themes from Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita's Adi-lila, Madhya-lila, and Antya-lila, respectively. Each of us was limited to 20 minutes, which was enforced by our host, Paramahamsa prabhu. If you know any of the three of us, you'll know how miraculous that is! We all tend not to be very pushy, but if you get us talking about Krishna, we can be hard to stop. The class seemed to be quite successful because we had a variety of styles, moods, and themes.


We also chanted Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya's 108 names of Mahaprabhu, had a nagar-kirtan down the road a ways, and honored a feast of many ekadashi preparations.


Despite the fact that several from our community are in India for

Gaura-purnima, we had more than 50 adults (and a lot of children) in

attendance. A good time was had by all!



Krsangi Dasi - March 27, 2005 3:29 pm

Thanks for sharing your festival program with us, Babhru! I'm impressed by how many different groups took part in the festival. But I'd love to hear more about your 20-minute classes, could you give us a short summary of each one?

Mathura-natha Das - March 28, 2005 5:30 pm


So heres how I celebrated the glorious occasions. Because most of the local devotees decided to travel to the bigger temples, I was a little bit left on my own. During VP I was playing with one of my bands (I have two) so I had to settle with festivities in my mind: To remember Guru Maharaj and never forget him!

On GP I started my day by singing Gaura Mangala Mahima and from there I jumped to reading some CC. Later on I went for a shopping round so that I could start some cooking during the evening hours. The preperations where far away from the standard that the Sages of Finland had, but anyway I managed to do something and heres what i made: First of all I made some Gauranga potatoes: A owen baked preperation with potatoes (obviously), panir and Creme Fraiche. And then som muffins where made, and some fruitsallad with whipped cream. Simple but very nice!

Before I ended my fast I sang Gaura Arati.

Thats it!

Babhru Das - March 28, 2005 6:41 pm

Krsangi asked me for summaries of the classes we gave the other night, so here goes, before any memory of them has entirely evaporated.


Vidagdha Madhava spoke fromChaitanya-charitamrita's Adi-lila, and he wanted to focus on kirtan. He mentioned, of course, that the Lord's appearance was accompanied by widespread kirtan of the holy names throughout India and that in his infancy he would get ladies to chant to stop him from fussing. Vidagdha intended to focus on the sankirtan at Srivas Angan and its mood, but he told some Chand Kazi and other stories along the way, so he didn't get to arrive at the point he wanted to make. His agenda was to discuss the mood at Srivas Angan and encourage the devotees to make our programs here more appealing to a broader spectrum of attendees, including newer people, by focusing more on the maha-mantra and using tunes that are easy to follow. (Our community has a great number of members of Narayana Maharaja's sanga, most of whom have moved here from Badger, and they have a program of going through an hour or an hour and a half of bhajans, many of which are unfamiliar to those outside their group, and many of which are sung in ways that aren't easy to follow.)


I wanted to focus on a couple of aspects of the character of the Lord and his devotees, since we were speaking mostly from Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita. I did so by examing very briefly four encou, who was a big Vedanta professor (the teacher of the leading advaitin sannyasis in Varanasi) took the Lord home, he decided to square him away and make him a proper sannyasi by instructing him in Vedanta. After seven straight days of instruction without any questions, he asked the Lord whether he was able to grasp anything of Vedanta. When the Lord replied that he understood Vedanta perfectly well but was unable to make any sense out of anything Sarvabhauma had said, that it was so far off the mark there was no meaningful way to respond, he explained the atmarama verse of the Bhagavatam in 18 different ways. Sarvabhauma was so impressed that he surrendered immediately and composed 100 verses in praise of Mahaprabhu. While the Lord liked that, however, he was convinced that Sarvabhauma was a pure devotee only the next morning, when he took the acharya some of Lord Jagannath's mahaprasad, and Sarvabhauma, despite having just been roused from bed and not bathed or performed any of his brahminical purificatory rites first, took the prasad without hesitation. I have always liked the simplicity of faith the Lord appreciated. The next encounter I mentioned was with Ramananda Raya. Despite the fact that he was a government officer and dancing teacher, Sarvabhauma told the Lord he might enjoy Ramananda's company and suggested that he look him up. As we know, the meeting culminated in the Lord inquiring from Ramananda, making the devotee the teacher and the Lord his student, and this conversation reached the deepest regions of bhakti. Next I discussed the meeting with Prakasananda Sarasvati, how the Lord's humility sort of softened him up, then the Lord took him 64 rounds with the atmarama verse. Ultimately, though, it was the Lord's effulgence, his character, that changed Prakasananda's heart. The last encounter was with the "illiterate" brahmana at Ranga-ksetra. When the Lord saw everyone making fun of him for his mispronunciation of the Bhagavad-gita's verses, he asked the man about his study of Bhagavad-gita. When the man explained that, although he couldn't really understand the language of the Gita, his guru had instructed him to study it daily, and sometime he just sat and pictured the Lord seated on Arjuna's chariot, taking time to teach him, and ready to carry out Arjuma's every order. When he thought of how nice Krishna is, he couldn't help crying. At least once when Prabhupad told this story, he cited Mahaprabhu's teaching that there is no method of worship more pleasing to the Lord than that performed by the girls of Vraja, simple, uneducated village girls. My main point was that it will be our character, not our ability to rattle off verses or talk circles around others, that will change people's hearts.


Gopa focused on how, in Antya-lila, the Lord's focus became progressively internal and how he immersed himself in chanting the maha-mantra and in hearing Gita Govinda, Jagannath-vallabha natakam, Krishna Kranamrita, and one other work (Kali das? Yikes! Senior moment! I'm sure someone will fill in this blank for me.) Along the way, Gopa got to tell some of those wonderful stories we read in Cc, such as when the Lord mistook the ocean for the Yamuna, was swept away by the current (I'm sure we can find figurative meaning to that, too), and was fished out of the sea by a fisherman. When the Lord's associates were looking for him and they met this fisherman, they knew they were on the right track.


If I remember more from Vidagdha's or Gopa's classes, I'll make a note and share it here. It was good for me to take the time to do this. Thanks, Krsangi, for not letting me off the hook..

Mikko - March 28, 2005 7:17 pm
And finally an attempt to display an example of the law of karma where every action has a reaction.


The reaction of the boys overeating can bee seen in the picture below!


I was hoping you´d skip the evidence of us lying on the floor like the sea lions in San Francisco but here´s the proof.. how embarrasing.


Mikko :lol: