Saturday, July 21, 2007

The Path is the Goal

My main project now is çaraëägati, the way of taking shelter of the Lord. I mean this in (at least) two senses: I'm engaged in a writing project focused on çaraëägati,
and my prime task in life is putting çaraëägati into action. In the introductory song to his Çaraëägati, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura calls taking full shelter of Krishna, also sometimes called surrender, çaraëägati or prapatti, the life of the devotees. He writes,

çré-kåñëa-caitanya prabhu jéve doyä kori
swa-pärñada swéya dhäma saha avatari

Çré Kåñëa Caitanya Prabhu descended from the eternal spiritual world along with His personal associates and divine abode, incarnating in this temporary material world out of compassion for the fallen souls.

atyanta durlabha prema koribäre däna
çikhäya çaraëägati bhakatera präna

In order to freely distribute the gift of ecstatic love of God, which is very difficult to obtain, He taught the path of çaraëägati, devotional surrender to the Supreme Lord. This çaraëägati is the very life of the true devotees.

dainya, ätma-nivedana, goptåtve varaëa
'avaçya rakñébe kåñëa'-viçväsa, pälana

bhakti-anuküla-mätra käryera svékara
bhakti-pratiküla-bhäva varjanäìgikära

The six ways of surrender through çaraëägati are (1) dainya-humility, (2) ätma-nivedana-dedication of the self, (3) goptåtve varaëa-acceptance of the Lord as one's only maintainer, (4) the consciousness of 'avaçya rakñibe kåñëa'-'Kåñëa will surely protect me'-which is viçväsa (faith) in Kåñëa's pälana (protection), (5) bhakti-anuküla-mätra käryera svékara-execution of only those acts favorable to pure devotion, and (6) bhakti-pratiküla-bhäva varjanäìgikära-renunciation of conduct adverse to pure devotion.

ñaò-aìga çaraëägati hoibe jähära
tähära prärthanä çune çré-nanda-kumära

Çré Nanda-Kumära, the youthful son of Nanda Mahäräja, hears the prayers of anyone who takes refuge in Him by this six-fold practice of surrender.

rüpa-sanätana-pade dante tåëa kori
bhakativinoda poòe duhuì pada dhori

Bhaktivinoda prostrates himself at the feet of Çré Rüpa and Çré Sanätana Goswämé, places a straw between his teeth, and clasps their lotus feet with his hands.

käìdiyä käìdiyä bole ämi to' adhama
çikhäye çaraëägati koro he uttama

Weeping and weeping, he tells them, "I am certainly the lowest of men! Oh please make me the worthiest by teaching me the ways of çaraëägati!"

It's likely that the writing will appear here and other places as it develops. The life work is manifesting now.

Due to a confluence of events that seems providential, my wife and I are leaving our home here in Puna on the Big Island of Hawaii. Satyaki has accepted a post teaching at the devotional school in ISKCON community in Alachua, Florida. I will go with her; however, my own surrender will soon take me other places, to a life of what Srila Sridhar Maharaja calls "deep engagement in responsible service." I'll post more about that later.

Monday, June 25, 2007

How Krishna Consciousness Came into My Life, Pt. 2

Here's a draft of the rest of my story.

The next day, I went to the place where I had recently quit working to collect a paycheck I had coming, so I could buy my own copy of Bhagavad-gita As It Is. I also started attending the Bhagavad-gita classes held three nights a week at the temple. I remember still having difficulty dealing with the fact that this spiritual treatise was spoken on a battlefield, with the Lord exhorting His friend to fight—against his relatives, friends, and teachers! I asked about it three meetings in a row. The temple president, Gaurasundar das, was very patient with me, explaining painstakingly the difference between spirit and matter, the body and the soul, and apparent nonviolence and real nonviolence. After three times, the concepts began to sink in, and I was hooked.

On the alternate nights, I found myself in Waikiki, a member of the temple’s sankirtan party. During the day, I would walk from my apartment near Diamond Head up to the temple to help with the gardening duties. In particular, I was eager to help with the mango trees. The devotees had told me that their spiritual master, Srila Prabhupada, had declared the mango king of fruits and promised to visit Honolulu when mango season came. After a couple of weeks, it became clear that I was spending more time with the devotees than with my other friends. My interests had changed drastically in a very short time: less surfing, more serving. I began discussing the possibility of moving into the temple for more intense study and spiritual practice with my friends. Some were adamantly opposed, convinced that, although I was one of them, I was becoming brainwashed by all the chanting. Others suggested that, although it could be a big adventure, monastic life wasn’t for everyone. After some vacillation, I went down to the beach one day to sell my surfboard so I could pay my share of the rent for the month at my old apartment. Then I packed my few belongings and walked up to Manoa Valley to begin this adventure.

At the time, I didn’t think of myself as a devotee, or as a disciple of Srila Prabhupada’s. For some time, even after moving into the temple, I referred to Srila Prabhupada as “your spiritual master” in my conversations with the seven devotees that comprised ISKCON Hawaii at the time. My idea was that I would try to develop an understanding of Krishna consciousness and share it with those with whom I associated. However, as I chanted regularly, spent anywhere from four to eight hours a day chanting on the streets of Honolulu, and studied Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam, my relationship with Krishna consciousness began to change in ways that even I could recognize. I began to see that it was much more than just a very appealing personal philosophy. I can still remember a few particular passages from the first canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam that initiated drastic changes in my appreciation for the Bhagavatam’s ideals. One is in the purport, or commentary, on the second verse. The verse explains that Srimad-Bhagavatam has nothing at all to do with any religious concept less than pure love of God:

Completely rejecting all religious activities which are materially motivated, this Bhagavata Purana propounds the highest truth, which is understandable by those devotees who are fully pure in heart. The highest truth is reality distinguished from illusion for the welfare of all. Such truth uproots the threefold miseries. This beautiful Bhagavatam, compiled by the great sage Vyasadeva [in his maturity], is sufficient in itself for God realization. What is the need of any other scripture? As soon as one attentively and submissively hears the message of Bhagavatam, by this culture of knowledge the Supreme Lord is established within his heart.

In his purport, or commentary, Srila Prabhupada discusses how all beings in the material world are engaged in a competitive struggle for dominance over others. Then he contrasts with this the attitude of pure devotees of Godhead:

But the devotees of the Lord rise above such competitions. They do not compete with the materialist because they are on the path back to Godhead where life is eternal and blissful. Such transcendentalists are nonenvious and pure in heart. In the material world, everyone is envious of everyone else, and therefore there is competition. But the transcendental devotees of the Lord are not only free from material envy, but are well-wishers to everyone, and they strive to establish a competitionless society with God in the center.

This was the most radical idea I think I had encountered at the time, in the real sense of the word: it went right to the root of all our problems, and it offered the perfect solution. This, it seemed to me, was everything!

As I got further into the first canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam, I found more statements in the verses and purports that showed me the profundity of Srila Prabhupada’s mission. In one such passage, Narada Muni, a great sage, explains the difference between mundane literature and transcendental literature to his disciple, Vyasadeva, the divine compiler of the Vedic literatures:

Those words which do not describe the glories of the Lord, who alone can sanctify the atmosphere of the whole universe, are considered by saintly persons to be like unto a place of pilgrimage for crows. Since the all-perfect persons are inhabitants of the transcendental abode, they do not derive any pleasure there.

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.

I began to see that the Hare Krishna movement was not simply an exotic religion but a revolutionary movement. But this wasn’t the kind of revolution we had become accustomed to discussing in those days of social and political ferment. This, I was beginning to understand, was a revolution of the heart. I was interested in finding ways to change our culture. At the time, the most profound political influence in my life was Mohandas Gandhi. I had read pretty much every thing by and about him that I had been able to get my hands on. While I was still in the Navy, one of my friends had drawn a charcoal portrait of Gandhi that I displayed in my room in the barracks, and later in my apartment in Honolulu. I liked his idea of revolution based on nonviolent non-cooperation with evil. I found his search for Absolute Truth inspiring. I found his practice of observing celibacy, or brahmacharya, to re-channel his energy to effecting social change intriguing, if impossible for me. And I had been inspired by his faith in Bhagavad-gita to explore it myself. His approach to revolution, it seemed to me, was almost spiritual.

But this approach was completely spiritual. And the more I read, the more clearly I could see this, the more firmly I became convinced.

Later in the first canto, I read of Emperor Parikshit’s encounter with an abused bull. In the vision of the Vedic sages, the bull is Dharma, the personification of religious principles. At one point King Parikshit exclaims, “In the age of Satya [truthfulness] your four legs were established by the four principles of austerity, cleanliness, mercy and truthfulness. But it appears that three of your legs are broken due to rampant irreligion in the form of pride, lust for women, and intoxication.” In his purport Srila Prabhupada explains that the Dharma, religion, had been abused by Kali, the personification of the age in which we live, characterized by hypocrisy and quarrel. The pillars on which this age is built are destructive habits such as gambling, intoxication, unrestricted pursuit of sexual gratification, and meat eating. The antidote suggested here is a culture based on simplicity, cleanliness, mercy, and truthfulness. Now that was truly revolutionary, at least in my experience! And a little earlier, I had found the essential antidote for the influence of this age of discord. If we can make arrangements, Srila Prabhupada says, “for the constant chanting of the holy names, qualities, etc., of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, there is no chance at all” for Kali’s influence to increase the downward spiral of modern society. And Srila Prabhupada recommends using even modern technology for widely broadcasting the holy names of Krishna, as well as Krishna’s teachings. That was it. I was convinced that I had found the real revolution and that I had to dedicate my life to helping effect that revolution. I would somehow become Srila Prabhupada’s disciple and an instrument in his life’s work.

That determination was further solidified when Srila Prabhupada visited Honolulu in August of 1970. When I first saw him, my heart leapt, and I knew without any doubt that I had found my eternal teacher and that I could approach him without any reservation. When I did physically approach him to offer a flower lei and offer the common gesture of obeisance by bowing down to the ground, I inexplicably found myself so overwhelmed with spiritual emotion that I sobbed uncontrollably, unable to offer the prayers of dedication a disciple likes to make. Later, as we walked from the airport lobby to the car that awaited him, I held an umbrella over his head (yes, even inside the airport), he stopped for a moment and smiled broadly as he looked into my eyes. I felt as though he had accepted me as I had accepted him. I felt irrevocably committed to the spiritual revolution that is Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s sankirtana movement and have never looked back.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Thinking about Srila Prabhupada

I heard a disturbing--but not surprising--story about an offering written by one of my Godbrothers for this year's Vyasa-puja book, which commemorates the appearance of our spritual master, His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. This got me thinking about my own offering for this year, which in turn made me think about posting some of my past offerings here. This one was written on behalf of the San Diego, California ISKCON center in 1994.

nama oṁ viṣṇu-pādāya kṛṣṇa-preṣṭhāya bhū-tale
śrīmate bhaktivedānta-svāmin iti nāmine

namas te sārasvate deve gaura-vāṇī-pracāriṇe

śrīla prabhupāda dayā karaha vicāra
vicāra karile citte pābe camatkāra

Anyone interested in logic and argument should apply them to the mercy of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda! If they do so they will find it strikingly wonderful.

For more lives than anyone can count, we have
worked hard at becoming the most fallen of souls,
Our hallmarks, our pride: ignorance, misfortune, and sin.
We have majored in forgetting Kṛṣṇa, doing extra coursework
in denying our eternal relationship with the Lord.
Our own bodies, born and bred in Kali-yuga,
serve as our diplomas: Fool Number One,
devoid of any grace.

But Lord Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme Thief;
He has stolen our misfortune by
sending Your Divine Grace, His personal envoy,
to show the folly of our self-imposed exile.
You have changed our lives by demonstrating
pure devotional service to Kṛṣṇa, conceivable to us only
by Your Divine Grace.

The matchless gift, which
immediately relieves all material distress,
opens the way to the best of fortune,
bestows transcendental happiness,
is rarely achieved,
transcends even liberation,
and is the only way to attract Kṛṣṇa,
is available only at the lotus feet
of the pure spiritual master.
Anyone who wants any happiness must learn
bhakti from a bona fide guru,
making his word one’s life and soul.
Lord Caitanya shows this as the root
of the devotional creeper.
We can attain love for Kṛṣṇa
only by the spiritual master’s
divine grace.

Śrīla Prabhupāda, you are the supreme professor
of the science of devotional service.
Anyone who claims to know anything about Kṛṣṇa
must have heard it from you.
Any goodness found in the word in this age of anxiety and discord
is strictly due to your taking the word of your spiritual master
as life and soul, and showering us with
your causeless mercy.

The task of preaching is our legacy;
you left you mission incomplete
so we could spend our lives pursuing its fulfillment.
We are your limbs in this dark world, and
apart from you, our lives have no meaning;
apart from Your Divine Grace –
your causeless mercy – we have no life.

As we approach the Śrīla Prabhupāda Centennial year,
your helpless children – your “boys and girls”
(though boys and girls, perhaps, only in your eyes anymore),
those who came in the years of struggle,
the new counterculture kids who remind us
of ourselves not so long ago,
and the world’s great hope, the gurukula alumni,
who show us all how to remember Kṛṣṇa
everywhere and when –
pray to dedicate our work, words, and thoughts
to establishing your reputation as the universal teacher of pure devotion
so all may be attracted to your lotus feet
and receive your causeless mercy.

Just as we get water from the earth by digging,
we hope to get one more drop of your mercy
by our service to your great mission.
That drop of mercy, we hope, will yield
humility, forbearance, compassion,
and freedom from personal ambition.
Only then will be fit to free
all fallen souls of Kali-yuga
from the ignorance and misfortune they so prize
and share the great treasure of
Your Divine Grace.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Another Haiku

Here's another haiku I wrote years ago, with a different mood from the poem I previously posted:

Hoof dust in the air,
The flute’s song is floating there;
Krishna’s coming home.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

A Little Haiku

Once in a while I fiddle with different forms of poetry. I've written a few haiku, and I thought I'd share them here occasionally. Although haiku generally include a season word, I often use reference to other time, such as time of day. I thought I'd start with this one in the wake of the recent passing of my sister and four of my Godbrothers, all of whom were probably younger than I.

Orange and blue koi
Gliding under lily pads
Can't see the heron's near.

Friday, April 20, 2007

How Krishna Consciousness Came into My Life, Pt. 1

I have worked, off and on, on writing an account of the events that brought Krishna consciousness into my life. I'd like to offer here a draft of the first part of that article.

It was certainly not what anyone expected to happen that weekend. I had been in the Navy for almost three years and served as an intelligence analyst at the Pacific Fleet Intelligence Center at Pearl Harbor. Because of the security clearances necessary for my work, I generally avoided going to concerts such as this one. It seemed that attending a Grateful Dead concert, or a Jefferson Airplane concert at Honolulu’s Civic Auditorium during the late ‘60s would draw unwanted attention. But here it was, a full-moon night in May of 1969, and I couldn’t resist seeing the Jimi Hendrix Experience live at the Waikiki Shell. After the warm-up band played, Jimi came out and played a couple of numbers. Then he mumbled something about the sound system not being powerful enough for his music and said he’d be back in fifteen minutes.

After much more than fifteen minutes, one of the announcers from the local underground FM radio station, which promoted the concerts this weekend, announced that Jimi wouldn’t be able to play that night, but if we brought our ticket stubs on Sunday night, he’d perform for free. In the meantime, which might have been an hour or so, I heard a persistent sound from just outside the Shell: ching-ching-chiiiing, ching-ching-chiiiing, ching-ching-chiiiing, on and on. Sometimes it went faster, sometimes slower, but it never stopped during the entire break. As we left the Shell, what we found were perhaps the most exotic folks I had ever seen. There, under a large, rainbow-colored banner with the Hare Krishna mantra, were Govinda dasi, Sudama, Turiya das, and another young woman, playing karatals, a guitar, a rather exotic-looking drum, and chanting, “Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.” As the crowd streamed out of the Shell, it gathered around the devotees, young people clapping, swaying, and chanting along. As I heard the mantra, I found it oddly familiar. Sure, I had heard the song from the tribal rock musical Hair on the radio, but this was different.

After some time, the crowd had grown so large that it blocked the exit, and the police asked everyone to move away. So Sudama and Turiya das led the crowd across the grass into Kapiolani Park as the full moon seemed to smile on the now-enormous sankirtan party of several thousand chanting, dancing people. The kirtan’s energy seemed to build, and I found myself completely carried away, even though I was a shy guy in the Navy, short hair and all. Unfortunately, the police eventually broke the crowd up and ordered everyone to disperse. But the experience had left an indelible impression on me. When we went to the concerts the next two nights, the devotees were there again, and I found myself chanting with much of the time.

A couple of months later I got out of the Navy, and I returned to Hawaii early in the fall of ’69, with the intention of taking some time for surfing and “finding myself” before returning to college. I would sometimes go to concerts at the Waikiki Shell, and sometimes we would go for a walk in the evening down Kalakaua Avenue, hoping to meet interesting people. Wherever I went, it seemed the devotees were there. I couldn’t deny my attraction to the chanting, but I actually saw that as somewhat dangerous. After having been in the Navy, I was wary of ever joining anything again. So I would stand just out of sight, or on the other side of the street, and chant along. One Saturday night, however, I had a surprise. As I left the center of Waikiki, I encountered a Hare Krishna monk on the other side of the street. It was Turiya das, one of the men I had chanted with the previous spring. We spoke for a few minutes, and when I left him he asked me to come to their Love Feast the next day at Queen’s Surf Park. I agreed, and we parted.

The next morning I remembered that I had promised the Krishna monk that I’d go to their feast. I thought I had better not break a promise made to a monk, so I decided I would indeed go. I had seen the devotees distributing food in the park on Sunday afternoons, but I kept my distance because I was worried about how strongly I felt drawn to the chanting. Besides, their food, although vegetarian, appeared cooked, and I was trying to get into a raw-foods diet. But this Sunday I had determined that I would go and that I would open myself entirely to the chanting to see what it does. I even thought I should forego all my bad late-‘60s indulgences that day so I could experience the chanting with a clear head.

So there I found myself on a warm, sunny, early-winter’s afternoon, sitting on the grass near the ocean in my Levi’s and t-shirt, my eyes closed, chanting the maha-mantra over and over. Later, as prasadam was being distributed, Turiya das sat down with me and started a conversation. When he asked if I had ever read Bhagavad-gita, I found I had an admission to make. While in the Navy I developed a strong interest in the politics and philosophy of Mahatma Gandhi. I had read every book by and about him I could find in Honolulu. I had also tried reading several editions of Bhagavad-gita because of Gandhi’s interest in that ancient scripture. But I had a hard time making any sense of Krishna’s philosophy, perhaps because it was being spoken on a battlefield, and I had left the Navy very inclined to a nonviolent life, after three years of analyzing aerial photography of the Vietnam war. However, I soon found there may have been a more profound reason for my trouble with Bhagavad-gita.

When I tried to explain my difficulty with the text, Turiya das handed me a copy of the blue, paperback Bhagavad-gita As It Is and asked if I had read this particular edition. Admitting I hadn’t, I spent several minutes leafing through, stopping to read a page here and there. As I read, I found the meaning quite clear and compelling. After a few minutes, I looked up at Turiya das and exclaimed, “This is not only easy to understand, but what I’ve read so far makes more sense to me than anything I’ve ever read!”

Turiya das smiled and replied, “If someone actually understands it, he can make it understandable to others, right?”

When I walked back to my apartment later that afternoon, I seemed to see the world differently than the day before. It’s not that I had a clearly defined new world view; things just seemed different, and I sensed a change shaping up in my life.

(To be continued)

Monday, March 12, 2007

In memoriam

A bright light has left our world. My sister, Hilda Weisberg, passed away this morning at the age of 56. She had been dealing with ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease) for about a year and a half. She left early in the morning, before sunrise, at home with her husband Len. This picture was taken at a celebration of her life held at the Insight Meditation Center in Redwood City, California last November.

Throughout her life, Hilda was one of the gentlest, kindest, most generous, most gracious people anyone could know. She exemplified generosity and grace. For several years, she has been intensely involved in the practice of Theravada Buddhism and Vipassana meditation. She was quickly recognized as a special person in her sanga even before her illness.

When she was diagnosed with ALS in December of 2005, she went after the disease very vigorously, intensifying her spiritual practice and simplifying her diet even more than she had already. It seemed for a while as if her zest for life would prevail. However, in the last few months it became apparent that her body would succumb to the attack on her nervous system.

All the while, she touched the hearts of members of her family, her spiritual community, and anyone else who came in contact with her, by her expressions of gratitude and joy. She always asked after others' health and always looked for ways she could extend herself to others. The manner in which she faced death is exemplary and inspiring. It's hard to count the number of us who will miss her terribly.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Sri Gaura Purnima

This past Saturday, March 3, was Gaura Purnima, when Gaudiya Vaishnavas celebrate the appearance of Lord Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in this world. Lord Chaitanya's appearance is a mystery and a manifestation of the greatest grace. His most widely available gift is the congregational chanting of the holy names of God, which is the most efficacious means for spiritual realization in the current age.

I always especially like Gaura Purnima because it was just before that festival in 1970 that I formally joined my spiritual master's mission in Honolulu. So it's a little like a birthday for me in a way.

We see Lord Chaitanya on the right in this picture. On His right is Lord Nityananda (His right-hand man), whose mercy is compared to the soothing effect of the light of millions of moons. Together these two brothers inaugurated the chanting of Hare Krishna about 500 years ago in India.

Devotees everywhere mark this festival with grand celebrations marked by congregational chanting of the holy names of Krishna and of Lord Chaitanya. Here's a picture of one such celebration in San Diego, California in 2002. The young women in the front are our two daughters. Krishnamayi, in the green sari, was recovering from a near-fatal bicycle accident. Lalasamayi, in the blue sari, lovingly nursed her sister back to health. This was Krishnamayi's first public outing after the accident.

Friday, March 2, 2007


Today is a festival called Vyasa-puja for disciples of Swami B. V. Tripurari, my friend and mentor. Vyasa-puja celebrates the appearance in this world of the spiritual master, who is considered a representative of Srila Vyasadeva, an empowered incarnation of Godhead who compiled the Vedic scriptures.

Swami Tripurari is a disciple of my spiritual master, Srila Prabhupada, and has been living in the renounced order of spiritual life for over thirty years. He was renowned for his bold outreach when we were young and has become well known for his commitment to Krishna consciousness and the depth of his understanding over the last 35 years. He is the author of many articles published in print and on the Internet, as well as of several wonderful books exploring the science of bhakti yoga as taught by Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and Srila Prabhupada. I met Swami when I spent some time at the Los Angeles center for Krishna consciousness in 1973, and I have had the pleasure of his company and advice for the last eight years or so. During that time I have found myself charmed by his wisdom, humor, devotion, and compassion. I have also had the privilege of helping with the editing of some of his books and hope to serve more closely with him in the coming years. I find myself inspired to seek and accept deeper engagement in more responsible service to the mission of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu by his kindness, his broad, deep vision of Krishna consciousness and its benefits for all society, and his example of selfless surrender. I hope to be able to progressively act on that inspiration throughout the rest of my life.

A couple of years ago, I adapted a Sanskrit verse as a prayer to Swami Tripurari:

prasida suhrid artanam prasidaudarya-dharine
raga-soka-bhujangena dastam mam uddhara guro

Please be kind to me, dear friend to the distressed. Be kind, my guide, O reservoir of munificence, and deliver me, for I have been bitten by the snake of attachment and lamentation.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The heart of our home

I call our home Audarya Bhavan to remind me that this is not really my house; the center of our home is our service to the devotees of Krishna and to our worshipable Deities. Here's a picture of our altar, taken last year. I have since laid a tile floor. The Jagannath Deities and Sri Sri Radha-Madhava are guests and are the worshipable Lords of our godbrother, Nischintya and of our godsister Aditi, respectively.

My worshipable Deities include our Shalgrama-shila, Sri Murali-manohara, seen here in a picture taken several years ago, when we lived in Hilo.

We are also blessed with the opportunity to worship Sri Krishna and Balarama in the form of two tiny Govardhana-shilas.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Inaugural post

A couple of friends have suggested that I keep a Weblog. I've resisted doing so for years, but I've decided to give it a whirl. I suppose I can use this blog to share some of my explorations of the path of bhakti yoga. Perhaps I'll get a clearer idea of what to do with this as I develop it.

I'll take a chance here and begin by sharing some of the poetry I've written over the years. I'll start with a couple of sonnets I wrote several years ago. They are dedicated to the service of my eternal spiritual master, His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.

I’ve turned my back on Krishna, from Him run
As fast and far as I could ever go.
I’ve been stuck tight in Kali, my head spun
By a drastic case of karmic vertigo.
Who knows how long I’ve wallowed in this pit?
Who cares how many different ways I’ve tried
To find some pleasure? Though the signs said, “Quit!”
I closed my eyes and courted suicide.
Then you, my master, turned me to the light
With Hari-kirtan, Gita, and prasad.
And now, although I’m clearly neophyte,
I try to serve the confidant of God.
A child of Kali, saved by Divine Grace,
Chants Hare Krishna in the Marketplace.

I wasn’t very steady, but I tried
To accept what Krishna wanted—leave the rest.
Not convinced yet, not completely purified,
I must have really put your mercy to the test.
But as I chanted and I read your divine words,
I found real life, a spiritual revolution.
New desires from deep in my heart stirred;
I longed to taste and share the nectar of devotion.
A disciple’s life I wanted, nothing more;
Your mission became everything to me.
And so today I write you to implore
That this may be my life eternally.
Now your child, begging for Your Divine Grace,
Works to spread your teachings in this fallen place.