Sunday, December 27, 2009
Next Friday, the Utah temple will conduct its second annual "Japathon." Everybody who lives in Utah is welcome to participate both at home and in the temple. The idea is to chant as many rounds of japa mala as possible, even up to the point of chanting one mantra (Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare/Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare) for each and every person in the state of Utah, 2.7 million. Participants are welcome to chant at home and enter their totals online and/or come to the temple for a noon arati, vegetarian feast, and japa chanting in the temple room all afternoon long. A board will be placed in the temple room with the names of chanters and the mounting totals of rounds. Any visitor to the temple on that day will be loaned a set of beads and asked to chant at least one round. Last year for the inaugural japathon the achievement was 310 rounds, a record we hope to smash this year, with the help of all well wishers.
For more information about japa yoga, watch this video from our web site Youtube channel.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Fifty students and some teachers from nearby Landmark High School spent four hours at the temple on a tour today. At 10 am, Vaibhavi introduced them to the animals, whom they haltered and led around while visiting the cows, peacocks and had their pictures taken with parrots on their forearms. Caru gave a power point presentation in the downstairs dining room, and then and led the students upstairs to the temple room. where discussion centered around reincarnation, deity worship, and guru. Hanuman taught yoga and devotees performed kirtan. Downstairs at 1 pm the students enjoyed a buffet lunch of both eastern and western dishes. They ate heartily and declared everything delicious. This is the second semester Landmark has visited and Alissa, the teacher, said to Caru she would like to repeat every year.
Yesterday Caru had spent the day in the library adding videos to the temple you tube channel. If anyone would like to know how to put on a dhoti, or tie a sari, play harmonium or mrdanga, cook ekadasi recipes, chant japa, perform tulsi arati, apply tilok, etc, click here to go to a premier selection of Vaishnava videos. Here is one provocative video he added to the Vegetarian Playlist. It's called "No to Violence."
Sunday, December 13, 2009
While on a visit to Chowpatty temple in 2008, Caru Das was asked by Jagannatha Kirtan Das to take him on an imaginary tour of Spanish Fork temple. The following is a transcript of that interview, kindly provided by JK, who says the gist of the tour has been nicely implemented in Mumbai. Because both Chowpatty and Spanish Fork are Rajastani style temples there is a fair bit in the beginning on that type of architecture. Skipping over this part down to the 'Changing Bodies' section, just about everything thence could be implemented at any temple worldwide
Giving a Temple Tour to Western Tourists
Interview of Caru Das by Jagannath Kirtan in Chowpatty temple
Basic temple tour adaptable to time place, and circumstances (in this case, Chowpatty)
February 4, 2008
Almost any devotee can give a tour, it’s just a question of how you balance things out, with the visitors’ desires to hear a tour and also get spiritual information. Basically, they’ve come here and so you can preach pretty straightforwardly. At the same time it’s nice to give facts and figures and weave a tapestry of cultural information. But there’s no question of holding back on the preaching. Every devotee can do it. I’ve had a lot of experience giving tours, so these things I’m giving you are like mantras. The tour never stays the same. It’s always evolving, getting better and better as Krishna gives more intelligence.
Our temple is built in Rajasthani style architecture. The first thing I do is familiarize tourists with the style of architecture. If they’re Westerners, you have to assume they know nothing. 'Sthan’ means place, ‘raja’ means king, and the people who lived there were ‘Rajputs’. ‘Putra’ means son, ‘raja’ means king. They’re the sons of kings.
They were never really conquered by the Moghuls. Even though the Moghuls invaded India in about 1000 AD in huge numbers. The Rajasthanis were not numerous. But they were like the Spartans of India. They would rather commit ‘johar’ than surrender. Johar meant that they would give up their lives first. And the women and children would also drink poison. I think the Moghuls conquered two cities, Chittor and Mewar, and when they entered the city after a long siege, everyone was dead. So then they figured, what’s the point? They wanted to get past Rajasthan to they could plunder the rest of India, so they made accommodations with the Rajasthanis. They included some of the princesses in their harems, and they hired them as generals in their armies. They didn’t like each other particularly, but in order to avoid doing each other damage they co-existed.
The architecture of Rajasthan is very unique in India. It’s influenced by the Moguls, and it’s Hindu also. 5 out of 6 tourists in Northern India go to Rajasthan, because of the architecture, and most go to the capital city of Jaipur, which is also called the Pink City, because of its architecture.
It’s nice to tell some stories about Rajasthan. You figure Westerners come for the facts and the figures and the information. I tell them how the Rajasthani princes used to become king by killing a man-eating tiger single-handedly. If you go to Jaipur, there’s a martial arts Museum in the City Palace. It shows the two implements. It shows a round shield and it shows a dagger. The dagger has got a plate like that, then two plates to protect the wrist then a spike. And what the Rajasthani princes had to do, they had to stare unblinkingly at the tiger. When they located a tiger, they couldn’t blink. Because as soon as you blink, the tiger would be on you like a freight train. They had to have enough nerves to stare unblinkingly at a tiger, and then set themselves, set their knee on the ground and their shield. And when they were ready to receive the charge, then they would deliberately blink. And of course you couldn’t go pound for pound with a 600 lb. tiger coming at you, so what you would have to do is try and get him up over the shield so then you could get into the underbelly. That was a right of passage, wherein you either became lunch for a tiger or you became king.
These are some nice stories, just like with the Spartans there’s all kinds of chivalrous stories, so similarly, there’s a lot of lore about Rajasthan. Not only because of the architecture but because of the charisma of the people. You also opted to build in the Rajasthani style here in Bombay, so you probably won’t find too many other buildings that look exactly like this here in Bombay or in Maharashtra.
“Where did you research these stories about the lore of Rajasthan?”
I did read a trilogy called Colonel Todd’s Annals & Antiquities of Rajasthan. If you don’t want to be thoroughly versed, if you just want a few tidbits for the tourists, you don’t have to go to that extent. But that’s a good account. Although it’s written in somewhat stilted English, it’s very good.
Then I tell when the temple was established, how it came to be here. You in Chowpatty could talk about Radhanath Maharaja coming here alone, how the building was a high school, an orphanage. Talk about how renters have more powers than owners in India, how you can’t get a renter out. How it’s a miracle. How you were able to take over not only this building but the buildings around. Because that just doesn’t happen, you can’t just do that. You can’t get people out. Neither can you raise their rent, neither can you get them out. So we see the Lord’s hand in all this, in the acquisition of a property and all for Krishna’s service. There was an entire high school in this complex of buildings. There was an orphange. They were all moved, and to bigger, better facilities!
And then it’s very interesting what Radhanath Maharaja told me about the carver. The man who carved all the stone is a Krishna devotee. He’s a devotee but in his whole life he never did a Krishna temple. He’s very aged, and this is probably the last temple he’s ever going to do, and so he was very happy because of his whole involvement to do a Krishna temple. And he only charged you the cost price for all the carving, all the stone, and it’s including the woodwork too isn’t it? I believe so.
And of course Krishna, most people in India are familiar with. Krishna, Krishna is a name for God, it means all-attractive, and at this point you can bring out the Bhagavad-gita, have a stack of Bhagavad-gitas, in case people want to buy one. Krishna is the speaker of Bhagavad-gita, the great crest-jewel of Indian wisdom. It was spoken 5,000 years ago in Sanskrit. Then when you translate it from Sanskrit to English, Gita means song, and Bhagavan means God. It’s the Song of God. And in here there are 700 verses divided into 18 chapters. You can show them the Sanskrit if you want, ‘Here’s the Sanskrit’. And say ‘in here you find all your core concepts’. This is a good term, ‘core concepts’: karma, yoga, reincarnation, dharma, vegetarianism, and so on and so forth.
That will have all taken place in our Utah temple lobby. And as we go through the downstairs, I’ll point out the gift store on the right, and the buffet on the left. Invite them at the end of the tour to browse, patronize each one. And our temple is upstairs. Here in Chowpatty you might want to point out the restaurant, and even go through it briefly. I don’t know, just maybe point out we have a restaurant over here. And of course you have many more things on your ground floor than we do. You can take them to Vrindavan Forest. Say Vrindavan is the place where Krishna appeared. It’s about so many kilometers from here, prime pilgrimage spot for all of North India, and then it’s a good opportunity to mention the tilak.
You mention you’re probably wondering why we wear this clay on our faces. And if they’re Westerners, I say ‘Look, imagine yourself as a pious Christian going to Bethlehem. The dirt, the dust there has been touched by Lord Jesus Christ’s feet two thousand years ago. Then wouldn’t you somehow or other want to contact the Lord by proxy by contacting the dust, or maybe putting it on your head. The dust has touched the feet of the Lord. If you touch the dust on your head, it's comparable to putting your head at the feet of the Lord. Pilgrims to Vrindavan, the birthplace or Krishna, they also, they roll in the dust when they get into the area, wanting to contact something that’s contacted the feet of the Lord. And they also take the dust and anoint themselves with a V-mark, which stands for Vishnu. It indicates the body is a temple and we are servants of Vishnu, the Lord. And then when they go back to their home countries, they want to do the same thing, they want to take that dust with them, as a constant reminder of the Lord. It’s marketed.
I always keep a package of tilak in my pocket, in a nice wrapping: “Here for instance is a dried up finger of the dust from the holy place, it’s wrapped in cellophane and then exported. As devotees, every morning we anoint not only our forehead, but twelve parts of our body, each mark saying a different name of God. “Om Keshavaya Namah, Narayana, Madhavaya, Govindaya, Vishnave, Madhusudanaya, Trivikramaya, Vamanaya, Sridharaya, Hrishikeshaya, Padmanabhya, Damodaraya’”. And I actually say it. It impresses them. That you can just rattle off twelve names of God like that. So that’s something you can say in the Vrindavan Gardens, in connection with Vrindavan.
What else you have to show them on the ground floor?
You could just preach unlimitedly. With the tour, probably your group (of westerners) is going to be quite keen, because they’ve come all the way to India. This is what they want. You can go on for quite some length. In our area, a lot of people just stop by on a whim, and they may have reservations about the Krishnas. You can sense their mood. If they’re drawing back, recalcitrant, kind of taciturn, then you make it a real quick tour. I can give a tour in seven minutes, if I feel someone’s not really into it. Because I’m not into it either if they’re not, so I want to get it over with as soon as possible. Being as pleasant as possible, you know what I’m saying. But you should be able to go on at quite length, about each and every diorama, if someone is really interested.
What we’ll do is Utah is we’ll go up the stairs, and at the head of the stairs there’s a huge Changing Bodies picture. We use this as a station, you might say. I guess we have one, two, three, four, five stations, five main stations: the lobby, then upstairs for the Changing Bodies, Prabhupada station, altar station, Maha mantra station. I’ll let them look at the picture then I’ll say, there’s a couple of different approaches.
A really easy one is to say: “I’m going to ask you two questions”. The first one is: ‘Is this one person or many different people?’ They’ll say it’s one person. Ok. Now, ‘Is it one body, or many different bodies?’ And most people say ‘One body’. And I say well, you got the first question right but you got the second question wrong. Medical science says that every seven to twelve years all the cells in your body change and are replaced by new ones. In fact, all the cells of our body are a different set of cells from what we had seven years ago, and seven years from now we’ll have a different set of cells. Then I’ll usually point to my body and say, now this is the kind of body I have now, but forty-five years ago I had this kind of body, pointing to the adolescent in the picture. What happened to that body of forty-five years ago? Is it this body? No, not according to medical science. That body is dead and gone. For all practical purposes it’s dead and gone. Not only is that forty-five year ago body dead and gone, but several others have come and gone in the meantime.
I found myself saying 61-year old body, 15-year-old body, and I had to consciously stop that. It’s actually a contradictory point you’re making. The point is, the very point we’re making is that the body is not 61 years old, the body is not 15 years old. But if you do catch yourself saying something like that, something misleading like a 61 year old body, you can say, ‘actually I just said the wrong thing. There is no way this body is 61 years old. Parts of this body might be as old as ten years, and other parts may be as young as ten seconds. But there’s no such thing as a 61 year old body. If you can make that point.
Then, if my body of 45 years ago is dead and gone, then I’ll ask them ‘Ok, if that body is dead and gone, and everything to do with that body is dead and gone, what is still here? Something is still present in this body. All the physical things have changed, but there’s something present that was present in the former body. It’s not anything physical. Neither is it the same mind. If I’ve changed my body five times in the last 45 years, I’ve changed my mind five thousand times in that period. The body and the mind have changed, but something is still exactly the same. What is that?’
They say ‘Your soul.’ And I say ‘Correct’. Although, let’s put a finer point on it and let’s not say ‘Your soul’. I don’t have a soul, I have a body. I am a soul. I am a soul that has a body. So I don’t actually want to say ‘your soul’. Because if it’s your soul, who are you? Are you something beyond the soul? No. You’re the soul that has a body. And so in answer to the question ‘What’s still here?’ ‘ME.’ Thus haven’t I reincarnated? And you can just stop there. Let them think about it.
Have I not reincarnated, have I not survived? This body is gone, have I not transmigrated to this present body, and will I not also appear in several different bodies during the duration of this present lifetime? So that’s basically what reincarnation means. ‘Carne’ means body, and ‘re’ means change. The body changes but I’m still the same person. Forty-five years ago I was looking at the world through different eyes. I was hearing through different ears. Just like you look out a window. The window is not seeing, the person behind the window is seeing. So it wasn’t these eyes of 45 years ago and the eyes now that are seeing, it’s me looking out through the eyes, seeing. And because the eyes are less strong now, I don’t see as well, or hear as well as I did. But that’s just the condition of the eyes, I’m the eternal spirit soul.
And then I point to the last phase and I say “If we’re comparing the body to a vehicle, say, and then I point to the old, old man, well then the vehicle would have 300,000 miles on it at this point. Do you really want to keep it, is it worth it? It becomes very expensive to maintain, practically every day you have to be changing a major part again. And so, at best it’s embarrassing, and at worst it’s downright painful. I mean, to hang around old people a lot, and all you hear about is their recent surgeries. So it’s good, it’s actually good that we’re going to get rid of the body at the end of life, because it’s pretty useless. And we’re going to get another body. Just like at every stage, there was always a body waiting for us. Right now there’s another body waiting for me. There’ll be another body waiting for me at the time of death. Now, whether that body is going to be a spiritual body or a material body is up to you. It’s up to you.
Now everything that we do here in the temple complex is meant to spiritualize our consciousness, so we get a spiritual body in our next life, and don’t have to repeat the cycle of birth and death. Failing that, you’ll have a material consciousness, and the complement for a material consciousness is a material body. You have material desires, you get a material body. If you have spiritual desires, you get a spiritual body. And the benefit of getting a spiritual body is you don’t have to come back again. We’re originally spiritual beings. So when we perform spiritual activities, we’re really reawakening what’s already there. We’re actually not getting something that’s alien to us, but we’re regaining our eternal spiritual form. That’s pretty much all I say about that. I ask if there are any questions. You get some very good questions. People want to know about the lower forms, animal life, whether you can go back to being an animal, and so on and so forth. It’s a good point to stop and ask for questions.
That’s two stations.: the lobby and the reincarnation. Now we go to Prabhupada’s murti. I say ‘How many of you have ever heard the term guru?’. They use it as an advertising term in America: sports guru, business guru, golf guru. I say that guru is actually someone who is free from the cycle that we just described. He’s (or she) not coming back. He’s (or she) like the lotus flower. You’ve seen lotus flowers all over the architecture, you may have wondered what is the significance of it. Lotus flower grows in water but it never gets wet. If you splash it the leaves remain dry. The guru is like a lotus flower. He’s physically present before us, which is to our advantage, but he’s actually a denizen of the spiritual world. So he’s here and he’s not here. And if you are interested in getting out of the cycle of birth and death, or even getting a start, because it needn’t be accomplished in one lifetime, then you seek the association of a guru.
If you’re interested in making that kind of progress, then you need to go to a perfected master. You need to take the guidance of someone that’s already done it, under the guidance of his master, and so on and so forth. This is the system. And if you want to finish your reincarnation, then you have to become his disciple. If you want to finish in this life you have to become his disciple. You have to do it seriously. If you’re not that keen on finishing up, you’re not fully realized, then you just want to get as much of their association as you can without making necessarily that formal a commitment. You have to let people have outs, otherwise they’re going to feel backed up into a corner. You say, this is what the committed people do, this is what the laity do. Always do that. So if you are interested in surrendering, giving your time and energy to a realized soul, then you have to make sure it’s someone who’s the real thing. And so there are three criteria by which you can test who is a bona fide guru.
One is that they are pure in character. There are four principles that in India, no one…In America I say no one accepts anyone as a guru in India who does these four things. That’s not true. But there’s no use in confusing them about all the weird things going on in India. But I just say ‘In India, no one accepts as a guru anyone who takes intoxication, gambling, has illicit sex, or eats meat.’ Eating meat is a big shock to them, how one can’t be guru while eating meat. But they have to be free of those four, materialistic activities: no intoxication, no illicit sex, no gambling, and no meat-eating. That’s the first thing.
But, there may be someone who doesn’t do any of those things, and who’s not a guru. So you have to apply the second test. And that is that they know the scriptures. Say you want to go from Salt Lake City to New York, and you’ve hired somebody to navigate you.
The second thing is that the guru should know the scripture. If you’ve hired someone to navigate you to how to get to New York, whatever they’re telling you should be found in the Rand McNally (map book). It should be exactly what’s in the Rand McNally. If it’s not, then this person is not what they purport to be. Whatever a guru speaks should be from the scripture, and the guru themselves, you should feel that you’re in the presence of someone who’s living the scripture. Not just someone who knows the scripture, but is living the scripture. That’s the second qualification.
Still, even if someone is pure in character, following those four principles, and knows the scripture, and even lives the scripture, still, they may not be a guru. Now can you tell me what the third qualification is? And I’ve never gotten the answer from anyone who hasn’t taken the tour before. Although it’s very obvious.
We have the poster of the Brahma Madhva Gaudiya Sampradaya Parampara, all the 32 representatives. We have, on a tripod, we have from Danavir Maharaj, from St. Louis, he publishes that. So they’re standing right in front of it, we’re in front of Prabhupada’s murti, and besides Prabhupada is the paramapara. And still I ask, what is the third criteria? And nobody has ever guessed correctly. And I tell them the third qualification. ‘A bona fide guru has to be a disciple of a previous guru. Just like you can’t declare yourself as a lawyer. You have to clerk for two years in order to get certified. You can’t declare yourself as a doctor. It doesn’t matter how much knowledge you have. Still you have to be an intern in order to be a doctor. Those two examples are really good. Then they all start nodding in agreement. No one can proclaim themselves as a guru. You can only become self-realized by approaching a self-realized person. There’s no other way to do it. Unless you associate with a self-realized person, you’re not going to get self-realized. Every guru has to have a guru.”
'And look, here’s our guru, Prabhupada, and here’s his guru Bhaktisiddhanta…Gaur Kishore das..Bhaktivinode Thakur... " It’s good to name names, it always impresses them. And it goes all the way back to Brahma who created the universe under the direction of Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
And because each guru, there’s only one disciple pictured, it’s good to say at this point, that it’s not that each of these gurus had only one disciple. Like Bhaktisiddhanta, our guru’s guru, had hundreds of disciples. But Prabhupada was the one who came to the West. He was the one who fulfilled his guru’s innermost desire to open centers in the West. So for disciples in China, Russia, South America, North America, and even India, he’s pictured there, because he’s our link. It’s entirely conceivable that someone else, like some other of his Godbrothers would have someone else pictured there, and that’s fine, because, that Godbrother would have saved him. But Prabhupada was the one who saved people all over the world. That’s why he’s there. Prabhupada had five thousand disciples, and some of his disciples now have thousands of disciples.
If they’re really interested, now you can say, in 1936 his guru, Bhaktisiddhanta asked him specifically to go to the Western countries, and spread the teachings of the Bhagavad-gita. It was generally known, among all of Bhaktisiddhanta’s hundreds of disciples that that was his dear most wish, the mission in the Western countries, Krishna Consciousness being spread in the English language. It was an open secret, really. There were many missionaries who didn’t even marry, who foreswore marriage in order to give their full energy and time to the preaching mission. And I guess it was assumed that one of those would establish an opening in one of the Western countries. But it didn’t happen. And Prabhupada couldn’t go in his youth because he had a family which he had to raise and educate and so on and so forth. But when he’d done that, discharged his family duties, and reached the age of retirement, none of the other full-time sannyasis had fulfilled the innermost wish of their spiritual master.
So he thought ‘I’ll try’. Everyone discouraged him: “In your old age, you can’t go to a foreign land with no resources. You’ll die there.” And Prabhupada said “I may die, I may well die, but it will be in the service of my spiritual master.” And so he started making preparations and at the age of 70 he set off on a boat to America. And in those days, India had currency restrictions. You couldn’t take any more than 40 Rupees out of the country, about seven dollars. And he had two heart attacks on the way over. He arrived in Boston Harbor in the winter of 1965, with seven dollars and very weak health. He didn’t know anybody in America. He didn’t know whether to turn left or right. But he put his life on the line for the sake of the truth.
Flash forward twelve years to 1977 when he passed away. He had succeeded in establishing 108 centers all over the world, circled the world 13 times. He had initiated 4,500 young people, all of whom followed those four principles—no illicit sex, no gambling, no intoxication, no meat-eating—for one year before they were eligible to be his disciples. He translated about 60 books with commentaries, published and distributed about 15 million copies.
Then I say, keep in mind these are people who have never been to a Krishna temple before half an hour ago, I let them think about that for a second, then I say “Do you think he was a bona fide guru?”. And they all say ‘Yes’. Everyone goes ‘Yeah’, you can just see their heads nod. So ok, that’s the guru station.
We did the lobby station, we did the reincarnation station, we did the guru station. Then the deity, we come before the deity. Now the biggest problem for Westerners is idol worship, now what’s this all about. Especially if they’re Christians. Now our Krishna is black. So that’s also another thing you have to deal with. So I say, Krishna is the central figure there playing the flute, and beside him is Radharani, that’s the topmost devotee. Radha means to worship, and Rani means queen. She’s the best devotee of Krishna. She stands beside him and conquers him with her love.
Now Krishna is sometimes seen as blackish, as in this form, or bluish, as in these pictures on the wall. His actual skin, his actual hue, is described by a Sanskrit word which we really can’t translate, it’s Shyam. S-H-Y-A-M, which means the color of a monsoon cloud in the rainy season. He’s a bluish-black color.
And some of his expansions, the Absolute Truth is of such a nature that he can expand. Just like a candle can light ten other candles, and all the subsequent candles are as powerful as the original. God can expand himself into what’s called plenary expansions. We’re also expansions, but we’re partial expansions. We’re like little sparks from the sun. But He can also fully expand himself and those expansions are God basically. I point to Rama, ‘here’s one of the expansions, and he was a greenish color. Here’s Nrsimhadeva, he was a brownish color. Lord Caitanya’s there, I just call him one of the ten avatars. Lord Caitanya’s golden, White Kalki. All the colors are represented in the ten expansions, but because Krishna is the reservoir, the source from which they come, he keeps the best color for himself. The bluish-black color.’ That explains the color.
Then I say, this is the same God that you read about in the Old Testament, except here he’s in a much better mood. And they all laugh. All the tension about idol worship just goes out.
Then I say, it’s just like the high court judge. You’ve heard that example before. The High Court Judge, during his working hours, is dealing with the criminal element. As such, in order to discharge his duties, he scowls, dresses in black, sits up on a dais, sends people to jail all day long. That’s the way you deal with that type of people. But when the day is over, and the work is done, he may put on a Hawaiian flowered shirt, a pair of shorts, do standup comedy in a club somewhere, or go play with his grandchild. It doesn’t mean he’s a mean guy. He’s a very nice guy.
People ask sometimes “why do bad things happen to good people?”. God seems mean, because a bus full of pilgrims drives off a cliff. The judge is not a mean guy, he could be the nicest guy in the world. It is really the criminals themselves who send themselves to jail. They’re ultimately responsible.
It’s up to each person how they want to see God. If you want to transgress his rules, take an antagonistic role, then he’ll be your enemy, come to take everything away. Just like a policeman, every time the criminal sees the policeman his heart starts beating faster. But when an innocent child sees a policeman, he runs up, grabs his leg. He’s his best friend. Because he has nothing to fear from him. So God can either be like the Old Testament, and sometimes I point to a picture of Vishnu. Krishna is a cowherd boy, and then He becomes all these Vishnu forms, during the lunch when Brahma steals the cowherd boys. We have that big picture. So I say, the Old Testament God is more like Vishnu. And I point to Vishnu with four arms, very intimidating, whereas when He lets his hair down then He’s known as Krishna. So that pretty much covers deity worship. If you want to explain more things about aratis and the different ways we do that’s fine.
That’s lobby, reincarnation, guru, deities, that’s four stations, we really have five stations. And the fifth one is over where the instruments are. I say we have our services Sundays at five o’clock, and everyone’s welcome to come. You’ll see the mantra, above the altar. There are many names for God, and I might speak about the Vishnu-sahasra-nama, briefly, just to jolt people out of their complacency. People do this by memory, chant a thousand names of God. But actually it says that the name of Krishna is equal to all those thousand. Because Krishna means ‘all-attractive’. And whether a name refers to God’s beauty or wealth, at the end of the day, he’s all-attractive. So great saints and sages, they prefer chanting Hare Krishna.
Krishna means God, Hare refers to the energies of the Lord. Like you can’t thing of the sun without thinking of the sunshine. You can’t think of the sunshine without thinking of the sun. But if you’re going to think of the all-powerful Lord, you need to acknowledge that everything are his energies. It’s not God, but it’s the Godhead. God and his multifarious energies. Earth is an energy, air is an energy, these are all energies of God. And so when you say Hare Krishna, it’s a complete mode of address. O Lord! O energy of the Lord! And the purport is to be engaged in his service. Not to take something from God, but to give service to him.
Then I’ll sit down at a harmonium and chant, or I’ll pick up a mrdanga and chant. And I always make this joke, because I’m just a marginal singer. I say “I’ll just give you a little solo demonstration.” Because these people are not going to chant with you (at least not in Utah), not their first visit to the temple, and to even ask them, it’ll be negative. But I just say I’ll give you a little demonstration here, and I might have said before that the chanting is so important in India, that God is non-different from his names, you’re associating with him, purifying yourself, that in many temples in India the chanting will have gone on for 500 years, nonstop. They’ll have a shift from 8 am to noon, from noon to four, four to eight, this way it goes on twenty-four hours a day. So I’ll give you a little solo demonstration here for a minute or so. But I have to warn you before I start chanting, now I’ve got the mrdanga around my neck or something, that in all the 38 years I’ve been a devotee, and of all the thousands and thousands of gatherings I’ve been present at... I have to warn you, before I start, that over all the years I’ve been a devotee, 38 years, in all the hundreds and even thousands of gatherings I’ve attended, I’ve never been asked to be the lead singer.” That gives a joke. Anytime you can use humor, humor is golden. Humor is just golden. Not only will it relax people, but being relaxed, they’ll remember it a lot better, they’ll retain a lot better. So then I chant.
I’ll explain kirtan, I’ll explain japa, We have a japa bead bag just on display there. I’ll explain how japa is for individual purification, then how if you get together with other people it becomes even more powerful. Every religious tradition has some sort of version of it. I’ll refer to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, in our own area. Then I say are there any questions? I don’t want to take them out of the temple room. So I say if you want to linger, look at the pictures and browse, you’re welcome to do that. I’ll be downstairs. I’ll see you down there if you’ve thought of any other questions.
Successful churches and retail stores like Wal Mart always have Greeters at the door, people to make visitors know they are welcome. Inside the store if a customer wants to know where to find an item the employees at more successful chains don't just tell the customer where to go, but they will actually take the customer to the item, even if it means stopping what they are doing and walking all the way across the store.
Advertising tour hours lets people know they are welcome to come in to visit, and that there will be a qualified person to guide them and explain as well as answer their questions. Without a clearly defined sign on the outside of the building, people don't know what they are getting into by crossing the threshold. In America, some are scared they will never get out again (joke, but not far from the truth). This way, they will be comfortable. There is a structure. Even if you charge (which we don't) most will not mind paying for the tour, which is something they can understand and relate to. At the end of the tour, the visitors will be so enlightened and happy to know Hare Krishnas are intelligent and articulate. They will be sympathetic to the movement ever after.
Prabhupada said, "Everybody is a devotee, they just don't know it." If we thusly awaken sympathy to Krishna from within their hearts, they can do great things to help promote Krishna Consciousness.
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Four persons attended our Membership class last Sunday. Congratulations to Andrew Taylor of Orem and Gwen Nitya of Spanish Fork for signing the Membership agreement and becoming members of our temple family. Among other benefits, Members are entitled to attend the Lifestyles classes given in the log ashram every Tuesday evening, and will have access to special classes and information in a 'Members Only' section of the web site.
This Friday evening Caru and Vai will attend the Mormon Tabernacle Choir Xmas concert with Natalie Cole In SLC. They are being picked up by their dear friend Dr. Stanley Green, who has been recently elected mayor of Salem City (the next city down the road from the temple) and all have received tickets courtesy of Dale Bowman, a member of the Choir.
Friday, December 4, 2009
I just wanted to let Caru and everyone know that my book, The Burning of Ravana, has been uploaded to Blurb.com. There are 55 full color, 8x10 images, that document the festivals at the Sri Sri Radha Krishna Temple from February to October 2009. Blurb has a cool feature that allows anyone to flip through the first 15 pages of the book. Here's the link:
I have placed the book in the Blurb bookstore and if anybody actually buys a copy, I plan on donating a portion of the proceeds to the Temple. It wouldn't be right for me to sell a book about the Temple without giving some of it back to the place and the people that made it all possible. Besides, I've created enough bad karma in my life. I don't need any more (HA!)
I was only able to afford one hardcover copy of the book and I need that copy to present to my photography class on December 16th. After that has been done, however, I would like to present the book to the temple in the hope that my photographs may be used for the glorification of Krishna. Peace...
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Below here is additional information.
A temple is the focus of spiritual life for those who gather there regularly. Over time the community becomes a spiritual family, which is very much like a family bound by birth and marriage except that all the relationships are based on worship together and mutual spiritual goals. Together we walk the path to God.
In the Vedic culture, a community of worship is called a sangham. In it we share uplifting association with fellow seekers and devotees. A person can always chant mantras or study scriptures on their own, but the same scriptures advise joining a sangham in order to advance quickly and enter the spiritual realms, which we call Krishna Consciousness.
This is where the most exciting journey in life begins -- we at the Sri Sri Radha Krishna Temple invite newcomers to join our active spiritual family. There is a New Member Meeting every month (webcast live), in which our Temple Priest, Caru Das, presents the benefits to your spiritual life of joining a family centered on the Lord of Lords, Sri Krishna.
And the benefits are many.....
* Attendance at weekly scriptural study Philosophy 201 Class (also webcast live) facilitated by Caru Das, an in-depth discussion of selected scriptural readings as they apply to our daily lives. Here, members can talk about their deepest life questions and issues, to which Caru das provides a scriptural context and 40 years of devotion to Sri Krishna.
* Attendance at Lifestyle 101 Class, where is taught all the aspects of a Krishna conscious lifestyle.
* Greater access to our temple leaders for lifestyle and practice guidance.
* Access to the member area of this website, utahkrishnas.com.
* Opportunities for transformational service and development of a personal ministry.
By understanding what the path of Krishna Consciousness offers, we each have the rare opportunity to bridge the material world and the spiritual world. Plus, quite simply, we have a great group here! Consider joining us.
New Member Meetings are held at 3pm on the first Sunday of every month, just before the Sunday Love Feast. Click here for schedule. We gather in the living room of the log house, just across from the temple.
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
From the School Web Site:
"100 World Geography students at Spanish Fork Junior High School had a field trip to the Sri Sri Radha Krishna Temple Tuesday, October 19. They were welcomed by Vai Devi, who introduced the students to the animals they care for. Students were allowed to hold the birds, lead the llamas, and compete in a llama race up the hill to the temple where many of the llamas had different ideas about the race and dug in their heels.
Caru Dasa then gave the students an insightful presentation on India and the foundations for their beliefs. Upstairs, Sri Hanuman led the students in Yoga that left many students realizing how out of shape they really are. Elizabeth Cope said that she “hurt really badly” after the yoga lesson. Finally, the students were provided with a wonderful buffet lunch trying out many vegetarian dishes. Sierra Jensen said, “Going to the Krishna Temple was a great experience. It gave me an understanding of Hinduism.” Many students felt that cultural misconceptions were dispelled that day and many talked about taking their families there to experience this wonderful asset in our community. We, students and Geography teachers at Spanish Fork Junior High School, want to thank the owners Caru Dasa and his wife Vaibhavi Devi Dasi for their gracious hospitality and willingness to teach us about their world."
Monday, November 23, 2009
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Saturday, November 21, 2009
Last Thursday evening devotees chanted for the Utah Valley University annual Hunger Banquet in the Grand Ballroom. Caru Das gave a two minute introduction indicating that Hunger worldwide is caused less by a lack of resources than by a lack of God Consciousness. The following then tried to do their bit for increasing God Consciousness by chanting the Maha Mantra for 15 minutes while slides of Krishna Deities were projected onto a large screen: Hanuman, Sadie, Wendy, Keshava, Yasoda, Rakiv, Caru, Celia, and Steven. The students and faculty appreciated with hand clapping during the music and applause afterwards.
The organizer. Dallin, had seen the devotees chanting at the BYU Hunger Banquet in March of last year, and thought to invite them to Utah Valley University. He mentioned he had also attended one of the Sunday feasts wherein Caru had talked about the “Manure happens” aspects of our lives serving as good fertilizer for spiritual growth and strength of character. He said he hasn’t forgotten that mkessage and shares it with his friends whenever he gets the chance.
James Rohr, an intern photographer for the Provo Daily Herald, has been shadowing the devotees for a few days in preparation for a photo essay on the temple which is scheduled to appear this coming Monday.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Friday, November 13, 2009
This is another blog about the Festival of India, by Alyssa Ball.
The opportunity came last week when I was reading the Daily Universe. There it was! The ad for India Fest. I basically counted down the days until Saturday the 12, and then I dragged a few friends with me to experience India for a little. It was so great! Read more...
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
India is on our list of places to see before we die. We love everything Indian from the food to the art to the history to the music. And yes, even Bollywood. Since we're still climbing out of the financial pit from our month in Austria, we won't be heading over to the Asian continent anytime soon. So instead, we decided to take a little Indian staycation by going to the Festival of India at the Hare Krishna temple in Spanish Fork.
"Hold on a minute," you might be thinking. "A Hare Krishna temple in Utah?" Yep, they've got one, and it's been there for quite a while. It's quite impressive for a small Utah town. And the Hare Krishnas seem to co-exist quite nicely with the Mormons.
Katie and I have been going out there for quite a few years now. One of our favorite events is the the Festival of India put on every September. Every year, it seems to get bigger. I don't know how many people we saw, but it looked in the thousands. This time, we took Tomas with us.
In the collage below are some shots of the temple. Notice that Katie wore her punjabi suit given to her by a former Indian student. On the main floor of the building, they have a vegetarian restaurant and gift shop. Upstairs is where they have a large room that I presume is used for religious ceremonies, chanting and yoga. On the night of the festival, they had a band singing Hare Krishna chants. The audience sat on the perimeter of the room, and those who wanted to danced in the middle. You can bet that if Chloe were there, I would have joined the dancing since it is my sworn duty as a father to embarrass her at every given opportunity.
The next collage shows Tomas with the animals. He had a good time feeding the llamas. In the bottom picture on the left, the llama gave Tomas a big lick on the back of the head just after I snapped the photo.
We enjoyed a great vegetarian meal. We had some sort of curry with garbanzo beans over rice, broccoli with something that tasted like meat but was most likely tofu, and something that tasted like thick sweetened Cream of Wheat. We've never been out to the temple to their restaurant, but now I want to give it a try.
As the sun set, we sat on the hill and watched the pageant of the epic Ramayana (the Hare Krishna equivalent to the Mormon pageants put on in the area). In the story, the hero, Rama, defeats the evil Ravana, an evil demon with ten heads. In the top middle of the collage, you can see Tomas and I in front of the 25' high wooden representation of Ravana. At the end of the play, Rama and his brother shoot arrows of fire at Ravana. The crowd cheers as evil is destroyed from the world.
In the picture below, you can also see some of the characters from the play. The costumes are really cool. The actors mime to a prerecorded soundtrack, and it's a bit corny. But, the play has charm, and we love it. I think it would be sad if it ever became a high tech, slick production.
Here is a little video clip of Ravana catching on fire and the following fireworks. If you look closely, you can see the arrows on fire flying.
It was a great little Indian vacation. I have a feeling we're not going to have much money for a while to do another big trip. So, I see in our future a Scottish staycation to Payson for the Scottish festival, a Swiss staycation to Midway for Swiss Days, and a Greek staycation to Salt Lake for the Greek Festival.
Who knew Utah was so international?
Thursday, November 5, 2009
Blog by Brian & Kristin Barlow
Olivia, Acacia and I joined Ainsley's 2nd grade class for a unique field trip to the Here Krishna Temple in Spanish Fork earlier this week. I had no idea they had a temple in Utah let alone 25 minutes from here. It was really interesting. Read more...
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
This is a blog by Rushma, who attended the festival of India as a vender, selling tulsi plants. We just discovered her blog and wanted to share because of the vivid writing and the great video of the fireworks and burning of Ravana at the end.
"The mid- afternoon sun, the Wasatch Mountains in the backdrop and an open landscape. Anchored at a height, as we drove into this natural amphitheatre, we were spell bound. The Shrine of Lord Krishna, reaching out to the sky, carved with intricate sculptings, radiated itself."
Saturday, October 31, 2009
Inspired by a desire to redo the web site (which has served us so well since designed by Viswambar several years ago) with the latest technology, they relocated here four months ago. Accepting only the minumum necessities, they have worked tirelessly up until the present time, and are now poised to launch the new site at www.utahkrishnas.org. There will still be glitches and gaps to fill in , but we are very excited about this launch and know all our sympathizers will be, too.
Some of the features of the new site are:
- Virtual tour of the temple with Caru Das
- Downloadable podcasts of all Sunday feast lectures
- Steps to Involvement, toward becoming Krishna conscious
- Picasa albums of our festivals, weddings and special events
- Membership program and New Member Meetings, featuring in-depth classes in Krishna consciousness offered by our Temple Priest, including lifestyle and philosophy
- Listings of the many events that go on at the temple, including festivals
- Festivals – rich media including video, photo albums and visitor blogs
- Announcement of our Integrated Yoga Nights, an experience in bhakti, devotion
- A YouTube channel of all our categories of video content
- Who Is Krishna? content tour
- Live Calendar of all temple events
- Frontpage links to webcams and online Krishna radio station
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
At 6 pm people appreciated Caru’s power point which explained the meaning of the twin observances. For those more energetically inclined, Jai Krishna Das led a simultaneous lively parikram and kirtan with Bal Gopal carried on a palanquin around the upper temple deck, where the views are spectacular. Once inside, guests were at first reluctant to join the kirtan circumambulating Pragna Shah’s replica of Govardhana Hill, until Caru announced that lots of adverse karma would be shed by going around the hill three times. Then there was a stampede during which everyone clapped, danced, and eventually consumed the hill as Yogi Shah dismantled it by passing out hundreds of sweets.
Subakrt performed a aarti during which everyone had the opportunity to offer a lamp to Lord Damodar. Then everyone was invited to either remain in the temple room for kirtan or adjourn to the new Prabhupada Pavilion for dance and drama. Krishna Karina performed a solo Krishna dance, followed by a technically amazing and totally devotional 15 minute Odissi performance of by Ankith Ray. Bhakta Mark and Divya Drsti caused the crowd to continually giggle during the 11 minute Dracula gets a Gita skit. Mark’s make up had taken an hour to put on as a result of which he really looked the part of Dracula.
The next element of the festivities occurred outside at the lake (temperatures were nice and mild) where hundreds of guests lit lamps and floated them on little boats made of folded leaves, courtesy of Vaibhavi and a crew of volunteers. They were encouraged to make a selfless wish for the New Year. Eight foot high statues of Sita and Ram overlooked the picturesque scene from the illuminated area around the waterfall. As Ram returned to Ayodhya and brought virtue and peace with him, so all prayed for the waxing of light and love in their lives.
It was indeed a Festival of Lights as the entire complex of New Kusum Sarovar Lake and Temple, and the Prabhupada Pavilion shone with light from hundreds of bulbs.
Alanath and the volunteers from Journey managed the buffet and the parking, while Sandhya and Karen took care of sales in the gift store.
Niru Patel cooked hundreds of puris for the accasion, and of course the kitchen crew of Keshava, Rakiv, and Yashoda, prepared many items for the feast. Coincidentally, the day was Yashoda’s birthday and her and Rakiv’s 30th wedding anniversary.
The excellent photos with this article were taken by Jason Gonzalez, who stayed up all night editing them so we could present them timely with this article.
Happy Diwali and Govardhana Puja.
Saturday, September 19, 2009
Diwali is a shortened version of “Deepawali” (Deepa=lamps, Wali=row: rows of lamps). Households in India put lamps in every window and temples brightly illuminate altars to bring in the best for the upcoming year. The date of the festival coincides with the return of the avatar of God, Sri Rama, to His ancestral kingdom after an exile of 14 years and many adventures. All the citizens welcomed Rama home by brightening up the entire city of Ayodhya and setting off fireworks.
The Festival of Lights occurs during the lull between fall harvests and the onset of the monsoons. Thus it is a time of thanksgiving, and that corollary festival is called Anna Kuta (literally meaning, “heaps of food”) Lord Krishna inaugurated this festival by inspiring the inhabitants of His village (Vrndavan) to worship the cows on this one day per year and to prepare a huge celebratory feast consisting of no less than 108 preparations.
Guests are encouraged to prepare vegetarian dishes at home (without onions or garlic) and bring them to the temple to augment the devotional offerings. Optionally, one could bring fruits, or flowers.
6:00 pm: Rathaytra around temple verandah, while Power Point Presentation inside temple by Caru Das on significance of the event.
6:30 pm: Govardhan puja: Krishna once lifted a mountain named Govardhan and used it as an umbrella to protect His devotees from a devastating rainfall sent by Indra the king of heaven. This pastime is commemorated by circumambulating a large hill made from a sweet called hallava, and decorated with other sweets, savories, plastic cows, jelly bean rocks, broccoli spear trees, green coconut grass etc. Below is a picture of the hill at our Krishna temple in Bombay .
7:00 pm: Classical Indian dance performance (Orissi) by Ankita Ray. Ankita Ray turns 14 on Oct 24th. She has been training in Orissi for the past 7 years. She started to learn Orissi in India when she was 7 years old and thereafter continued her training in Maryland when she moved to the US. With continuous guidance from Guru Jayantee Paine Ganguly of Konark Dance School in Maryland (Padma Vibhushan Guru Kelu Charan Mohapatra style of Orissi), Ankita has also trained with Orissi maestros like Sujata Mohapatra, Aruna Mohanty, Manoranjan and Minati Pradhan both in the US as well as in India. Ankita has performed extensively in Washington DC, Boston Massachusetts, Nashville TN, Hartford Connecticut and Baltimore MD.
She will perform an Orissi Pallavi. Pallavi literally means "blossoming of a flower". In this piece the dance will begin at a slow pace and will blossom into the rythmic intricacies typical of Orissi.
Orissi is different and beautiful because of its unique style where the dancer bends his/her body at 3 different positions--the head, bust and torso--called the Tribhangi. Orissi is expressed by extensive eye and hand movements (mudras) accompanied by lilting Orissi music typical to the eastern coastal state of India called Orissa. Orissi originated in the temples of Lord Jagannath (another form of Shri Krishna) where the dancer performed before the Lord . By the efforts of many stalwarts of the Orissi dance form, it now occupies an important classical dance status all over the world.
As you will notice an Indian dancer always begins by bowing down to take her blessings from mother earth. If you remember the sanskrit shloka about the Earth:
Samudre Vasane Devi
Parvata Sthana Mandale
Vishnu Patni Namastuvyam
Paada Sparsha Khamyashyame
O Mother Earth
You who has the oceans as her clothes
The mountains as her body
You who is the wife of Lord Krishna (Vishnu)
I bow to you
Please forgive me as my feet are going to touch you.
Ankita will perform Kirwani Pallavi. The duration is 15 mins.
Hindustanii Bhajans by Julie Acharya Ray, mother of Ankita Ray. She moved to SLC Utah in Aug this year with family from Maryland. She has trained in Classical Hindustani vocal under the Gandharva Mahavidyalaya, Mumbai for 8 years and has a Bachelor's in Music degree from India. She is a Ph.D in Chemistry and worked in the school of Pharmacy, Univ of MD at Baltimore prior to moving here. She enjoys music, painting and writing.
7:30 pm: The devotional comedy, "Dracula Gets A Gita." Zachary and Hailey Perry.
7:45 pm: Go Puja: Worship of a live cow with flower garlands and sweets. Indian culture is that instead of killing the cows for 700 lb.. of their meat, they are respected for producing an average of 90,000 lb. of nutritional wholesome milk in a lifetime. And because we all drink the milk of a cow in our infancy, the cow is regarded as a sort of mother.
8:00 pm. Anna Kuta & Arotik Ceremony: Lights in the temple room are turned down and the altar area is opened dramatically to the sounds of conch shells being blown and gongs sounding, to reveal a food extravaganza of many preparations offered to the Deities. The whole show is illuminated by flashing colored lights and dozens of votive candles.
8:30 pm: Ras Garba, Indian Folk Dancing (very easy for anybody to learn in minutes)
Throughout the evening: Huge vegetarian feast served downstairs while program goes on upstairs. $ 6.00 donation per plate. Samosa, pakora, rasgula, saag paneer, puri, sandesh, hallava, papadam, kher, matar paneer, alou gobi sabji, kofta, malpura, gulabjamun, and on and on. Bring a preparation if you can to augment the feast!
10 Reasons to Celebrate Diwali
The Festival of Lights is for All
Why do we celebrate Diwali? It’s not just the festive mood in the air that makes you happy, or just that it's a good time to enjoy before the advent of winter. There are 10 mythical and historical reasons why Diwali is a great time to celebrate. And there are good reasons not just for Hindus but also for all others to celebrate this great Festival of Lights.
1. Goddess Lakshmi’s Birthday: The Goddess of wealth, Lakshmi incarnated on the new moon day (amaavasyaa) of the Kartik month during the churning of the ocean (samudra-manthan), hence the association of Diwali with Lakshmi.
2. Vishnu Rescued Lakshmi: On this very day (Diwali day), Lord Vishnu in his fifth incarnation as Vaman-avtaara rescued Lakshmi from the prison of King Bali and this is another reason of worshipping Ma Larkshmi on Diwali.
3. Krishna Killed Narakaasur: On the day preceding Diwali, Lord Krishna killed the demon king Narakaasur and rescued 16,000 women from his captivity. The celebration of this freedom went on for two days including the Diwali day as a victory festival.
4. The Return of the Pandavas: According to the great epic ‘Mahabharata’, it was ‘Kartik Amavashya’ when the Pandavas appeared from their 12 years of banishment as a result of their defeat in the hands of the Kauravas at the game of dice (gambling). The subjects who loved the Pandavas celebrated the day by lighting the earthen lamps.
5. The Victory of Rama: According to the epic ‘Ramayana’, it was the new moon day of Kartik when Lord Ram, Ma Sita and Lakshman returned to Ayodhya after vanquishing Ravana and conquering Lanka. The citizens of Ayodhya decorated the entire city with the earthen lamps and illuminated it like never before.
6. Coronation of Vikramaditya: One of the greatest Hindu King Vikramaditya was coroneted on the Diwali day, hence Diwali became a historical event as well.
7. Special Day for the Arya Samaj: It was the new moon day of Kartik (Diwali day) when Maharshi Dayananda, one of the greatest reformers of Hinduism and the founder of Arya Samaj attained his nirvana.
8. Special Day for the Jains: Mahavir Tirthankar, considered to be the founder of modern Jainism also attained his nirvana on Diwali day.
9. Special Day for the Sikhs: The third Sikh Guru Amar Das institutionalized Diwali as a Red-Letter Day when all Sikhs would gather to receive the Gurus blessings. In 1577, the foundation stone of the Golden Temple at Amritsar was laid on Diwali. In 1619, the sixth Sikh Guru Hargobind, who was held by the Mughal Emperor Jahengir, was released from the Gwalior fort along with 52 kings.
10. The Pope’s Diwali Speech: In 1999, Pope John Paul II performed a special Eucharist in an Indian church where the altar was decorated with Diwali lamps, the Pope had a ‘tilak’ marked on his forehead and his speech was bristled with references to the festival of light.
Friday, September 18, 2009
“I’m speechless! Such a beautiful festival!”
These are a sample of the comments recorded in the guestbook signed by hundreds of visitors to the Krishna Temple in Spanish Fork, Utah. The Rajastani-style center—the only one of its kind in the state—held the annual Festival of India celebration on Saturday, September 12th. Welcoming a crowd of over three thousand, Caru dasa and Vaibhavi Devi Dasi (both disciples of Srila Prabhupada) along with one hundred local volunteers manifested the spirit of India: serve the people loads of prasadam, crank up the krsna-kirtana and encourage cheers and claps when Ravana’s giant body is scorched to bits by flaming arrows.
Situated in a gorgeous valley surrounded on all sides by picturesque mountains, the Krishna Temple is well-known as the “place to be” throughout the year, mainly because of the various festivals that are held here. This year’s Festival of India attracted all types: energetic college students, families spanning two or three generations, and many curious and open-minded Mormons. Utah has a strong link with the Mormon Church, and their theology and lifestyle shares some important elements with Krishna consciousness. Preaching was brisk and joyful, as the festival participants were eager to learn more about the cultural and spiritual origins of the festival. Distributing Bhagavad-gita to many of the philosophically-inclined visitors was easy, since the Mormons appreciate authoritative literature.
And what to speak of the chanting! Kesava-Acarya dasa, a renowned kirtaneer from New York, along with Sri Ram on mrdanga sweetly sang the Lord’s Holy Name to the backdrop of a brilliantly setting sun. Later on in the evening a group of local devotees got everybody dancing to rock-style kirtana. Inside the temple room different groups of chanters led the packed crowds in non-stop harinama. “I thought the roof was going to cave in at one point because of all the dancing,” said Vaibhavi Devi Dasi. In addition to the all-auspicious chanting, young dancers from Abhinaya Company in San Jose, California, charmed the crowd with several styles of traditional dance. On the main stage devotees performed scenes from the Ramayana. Plus rows of booths offering such services as henna and Indian dress created an otherworldly atmosphere enjoyed by all.
The festival’s finale was especially spectacular: a 20-foot effigy of Ravana disintegrated into fiery shards before the delighted crowd. A glittery fireworks display capped off the evening.
Mercy and fun were the words of the day…all for $3 a head!