February 2012 Archives

Health and Hinduism

| No Comments | 2 TrackBacks

This is an article by Vyasar Ganesan. Vyasar was born in Derry, New Hampshire, and raised in Austin. His mother is from near Dehli, and his father comes from southern India. He currently is a senior at Allegheny College, working on a senior project in creative nonfiction.

Vanity is a bizarre and powerful force. Like gravity, it's always present in some way, exerting its influence in ways unseen and mysterious. Humans can be vain without even realizing it, conceited without trying, and narcissistic by just looking at a mirror. We are all caught up in our own little worlds to some extent, believing that even if we fail at a few things, we're still the best at so much else.As much as this is a problem for basic social interaction, I struggle with it in the most innocuous of places: the gym. Being healthy and a Hindu shouldn't be a problem for me, but there is a line that I feel dangerously close to crossing when I'm working out. When I am on the treadmill, I am pushing my body to its limit, forcing myself to finish the mile in under ten minutes. If I succeed, immediately there is a rush of pride, a feeling of self-worth; that maybe I'm not out of shape, maybe I'm a pretty physically OK guy. Running an eight-minute mile is as good as some people with better bodies than me, and they spend an enormous amount of time at the gym. I fall prey to my own accomplishment and feel dangerously limitless. Another trouble when working out is weight lifting. I don't do much of it, since I'm not after bulking up or bench-pressing, but there is a certain male fascination in ripping off your limbs in the process of building muscle. Even when I'm on a machine for my hip adductors or abductors, just trying to increase flexibility, I can feel the passion of the sweat on my forehead, the strength pumping through my legs. I'm a big guy, and I'm expected to put out a lot of force in almost everything I do. I fill my backpack with all the books I think I'll need for a hard day at school. I take the stairs two at a time. And when I'm at the gym, I hit the weights with energy, even if I'm only lifting fifteen pounds.The issue I have is drawing the line between just working out and feeling proud of myself for being an active young male. On the path of Sanatan Dharm, devotees try to develop modesty, and experience humility before Guru and God. The gym isn't exactly the best place to foster that, but it plays an important role in what a modern healthy lifestyle consists of. I want to be healthy so I can better serve the JKP, to be there to help Radha Madhav Dham however I can. It's just maddening that my own self-infatuation threatens to get in the way of that. I understand that pride is not easily removed, and cannot always be in check, but I don't understand why it has to come up with my maintenance of my body. I like to think of myself as a positive person, and a healthy one at that, but when I see myself in the mirror, I am afraid of being proud of the person who is staring back at me.

Related articles

Enhanced by Zemanta

This is the second part in this series of blog posts by Vyasar. Read the first part here.

  Family Camp at Radha Madhav Dham, US Ashram of Jagadguru Kripaluji Maharaj

by Vyasar Bhaiya, senior at Allegheny College in Meadville, PAJKP Radha Madhav Dham devotee, camp instructor and official blogger for Radha Madhav Dham's upcoming new official blog (to be announced later)

The first day of Camp is a unique thing. There are people who you've never seen before, walking around the grounds with their jaws dropped and their big suitcases bursting everywhere. The seasoned Campers are all moved in, lounging in chairs, trading stories about past Camps and the past year. Volunteers frantically scuttle from the office to the classroom, stocking last-minute supplies and making copies of everything. The air is heavy with anticipation at Radha Madhav Dham, for the December Hindu Family Camp.

My lessons are all planned, filed and ready to go. I look at the stack of papers I will have to distribute to the teen class over the course of the next week, and shake my head in wonder. I got here the weekend before and I'm already done? There has to be something left to do: sharpen some pencils, set up an altar, fine-tune a presentation. But of course, it's all being taken care of by the huge army of sevaks that have swarmed about the mandir, preparing it for rambunctious five-year-olds and devotional parents alike. Being at Radha Madhav Dham makes us all more industrious than we really are, because we have the more direct experience of Radha and Krishn watching us as we work.

I go through my list and check off the activities that will need further work, designs that must be monitored to come to fruition: burning Ravan, leela improvkirtanparikrama, team-building activities, trivia contest, art project, seva project. All of these things will happen during the course of the Camp. From the morning call of arti at 5 a.m., to late night warm milk at 10 p.m., every member of the Camp will have something to do, some activity in which to partake. Youth, teenagers and adults all have a set schedule - planned to the fifteenth minute - with classes, presentations, physical activities, games and service work; so much that by the end of every Camp, I have to wonder how we manage to do it all.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Maha Shivratri at JKP, Radha Madhav Dham. Sunday, Feb 19, 2012, 11:00 am - 1:30 pm.

All are invited to offer abhishek at the Gopeshwar Mahadev Shrine at Radha Madhav Dham, while devotees sing bhajans in praise of Lord Shiv. The program also includes parikrama of the Temple and Shankar Bhagwan's arti. Lunch prasad will be served by Radha Madhav Dham devotees afterwards.

Indoor Program
11:00 am - Bhajan & discourse by a Radha Madhav Dham preacher
11:00 am - 12:00 pm - Jhanki of Shiv Parvati barat
Outdoor Program
12:15 pm - Parikrama of Temple
12:30 pm - Shankar Bhagwan's arti & bhajan & abhishek

The meaning of Maha Shivratri 2012

People know very little about Shivratri and the greatness of Shivratri. So I'll try to explain what is the significance of today's celebration.

Dear souls. This particular event is called Shivratri or Maha Shivratri. This is described in the Balkand of Ramayan in great detail. What happened... God Shiv and Parvati or Sati, They are both same, not separate. But in leela, They appear in different style. So, Goddess Sati means Shiv and Sati. They were in Kailash abode, and Daksh, father of Sati, was doing a big yagya (fire ceremony). Sati went to where the yagya was being held and She did not like something that was happening there. Daksh was very proud, and out of his great pride, he was disrespecting God Shiv. Sati could not tolerate it. "My father disrespected My beloved of My soul God Shiv?" So She jumped in the fire of yagya and finished Herself. This is the beginning...

God Shiv was now alone. Then Parvati again took birth in the family of god Himalaya. So, from very childhood She was desiring to meet God Shiv. She was doing austerity in the jungle--not drinking anything, not eating anything, just breathing fresh air, absorbed in love of God Shiv. She spent many many years like that. In the meantime, Saptarshi came and Naradji also came. They told Her, "You will find Your God Shiv." That's all described in Ramayan. And they also told the family of Parvati. So the day was fixed: marriage, on this particular day, the same day we are celebrating today. The marriage of God Shiv and Parvati.

So God Shiv was the bridegroom. Bhagwan Vishnu was there, Brahma was there, and all the important celestial gods and goddesses, all of them joined the procession. God Shiv called His people from Kailash abode and they also joined. It was a mile long procession. Bhagwan Vishnu, Brahma, God Shiv as bridegroom--they slowly moved towards the wedding place in the Himalayas. They were all rejoicing. It was a most happy mood. Once they had all assembled, God Shiv was married to Parvati. Then He again came back to His abode, Kailash. That is the story in gist. This is greatly described in Ramayan: the marriage of God Shiv; the meeting of God Shiv and Parvati. So we celebrate every year, Shivratri.

Are Shiv and Parvati separate? No. Then what was that meeting or marriage? Just a leela, Divine leela, Divine happening. Because when Sati was doing austerity, and God Shiv was in samadhi, He had forgotten everything. He was sitting in deep samadhi, deep trance, transcendence. It means He even forgot His own consort, He was so deep in samadhi. Then the gods and goddesses had to come to wake Him up, "Please, please, Sati is born as Parvati, go and get married." "Oh, oh, OK, OK, it's alright, I am coming." He was absorbed in samadhi? Forgot His consort? That was Krishn love, nothing else.

God Shiv has two forms. With one form He is supreme God of Vaikunth, like Maha Vishnu. In Vaikunth, Maha Vishnu, God Shiv and Durga, all those three are equally supreme God and Goddess in Vaikunth. Vaikunthaadi pati. From Them this whole universe evolves--such great personality!

The other form of God Shiv is in Golok where He is in the form of a Gopi--not like God Shiv wearing matted hair, and scorpions moving around. He is a Gopi. A very pretty, young, Gopi. He's called Gopeshwar. That's what we have here in our ashram, a temple of Gopeshwar. You can see, a Shiv ling is there, and on that Shiv ling there is an inscription in golden lines--the Gopi is there, Gopeshwar form is there. The form of Gopeshwar. So Shiv as a Gopi. In Braj, in Vrindaban, in Barsana, He cannot be in the form of Shiv. He has to be as a Gopi. His personal intimate form is Gopi. So He was absorbed in that love, Krishn love. He had forgotten everything. He remembered only Krishn... Radha... Krishn... Radha... So when gods and goddesses came and tried to wake Him up, "Please God, God Shiv, Parvati is now ready for marriage. Go and marry Her. She is Your own consort." "OK." Then He agreed and They both got married. That's the story.

But what is Parvati, what is Shiv? They are both Gopis! Both. You see when Bhagwan Krishn appeared, again God Shiv was in samadhi, thinking of Krishn and Radha, absorbed in Their love. But when Krishn appeared, the appearance of Krishn is a special happening--not just in this brahmand, but in the universe. Something happens. It is like a wave of Divine love excitement outbursts the whole of the atmosphere. But that could be felt only by the Divine personality. So when Krishn appeared, that wave of Divine love permeated the whole of the brahmand. It reached Kailash and Shiv opened His eyes, "Oh! In whose love I am drowned, the same Personality has appeared! in Braj!" He just got up and rushed immediately, without thinking. He comes to Gokul, there He saw all the Gopis dressed up nicely and they were dancing and singing...and He found Himself out of place. But He was so much in love with Krishn He couldn't think of decorating Himself. Anyway, Krishn Graced Him, and He had darshan of baby Krishn.

When He saw baby Krishn sitting in the cradle, Their eyes met--Krishn and God Shiv. Whatever He felt, He knows. But that feeling again excited His love for Krishn. In that excitement He began to dance...in total unconsciousness. Yet some ecstatic consciousness, to keep His body from falling. His eyes were closed, He was dancing in ecstasy. That was called taandava nritya. Taandava nritya means dancing in total ecstasy in love of Krishn is called taandava nritya. So, there's no classical rhythm in that taandava nritya. It's just nritya, just dance, in total ecstasy. He danced for hours. His Bhao slightly subsided, again He opens His eyes, and when He opens His eyes He sees Krishn everywhere, same baby Krishn smiling everywhere, wherever He sees, in Gopi, in Gwalbal, in atmosphere. In such a ecstatic state, He again was amazed. Just saying, "Krishn jai ho! Krishn jai ho! Krishn jai ho! Krishn jai ho!" He goes back to Kailash abode. That is Bhagwan Shiv.

After some time, just a few years afterwards, eight years afterwards, Krishn decided to do maharas. Maharas--the absolute culmination of Divine love. Beyond that, there is nothing. Nothing means it's the absolute limit of Divine love that Radha and Krishn reveal. So, They both were sitting, Shiv and Parvati. And when Krishn played on the flute, the sound went everywhere. It went to Kailash abode, Vishnu's abode, everywhere. And Parvati said, "Shiv, Radha is doing maharas." Shiv said, "Yes, We are going to join maharas." They both came. Parvati was like a Gopi--She directly entered, with no obstruction. But, a Gopi stopped God Shiv, "Please, wait for a few seconds. I have to take permission from Radha Rani, because this is maharas. Only Gopis can join." Anyway, Radha Rani permitted, and God Shiv immediately became a Gopi--instantly. From God Shiv's appearance, He became Gopi--a young, beautiful Gopi--and entered maharas.

So that Gopeshwar form is His real form in Braj, in Golok, and in Vrindaban. That's what we have here in Barsana Dham--Gopeshwar Mahadev. They both enjoyed the Bliss of maharas, Shiv and Parvati. They enjoyed so much, again, They could not describe what They enjoyed. But His other form is God Shiv as supreme God in Vaikunth.

With this example we must understand that God Shiv is giving us a message. This Shivratri is a message. "O souls! Whatever I have experienced, you can also experience! You can experience the same Bliss of maharas. Radha Rani is so Gracious." That is the message of Shivratri. Because both Shiv and Parvati entered into maharas and experienced and enjoyed the Bliss of maharas. That Bliss of maharas is the supreme Divine Bliss, supreme Divine love, which any soul could experience. Any soul, any of you.

What is the requirement? One single thing. Your sincere desire, nothing else. That's it. Desire. Wholehearted desire...and have it. No requisite. But desire sincerely, desire wholeheartedly, desire single-mindedly: "O Radhey! I want Your love. O Krishn! I want raas ras. O Radhey and Krishn I want to love you, that's all I want." That's all you have to do. A single-minded wholehearted desire to find Radha Krishn's love. That's the only requirement.

And desiring, that part every soul has. You keep on desiring every day--lots of things. You desire. You can't live without desire--impossible! Even an insane person also desires, even if he is insane. Desiring is there. It simply has to be diverted from wrong side to right side. Desiring the world; now desiring Krishn love. Desiring part is there.

In your family you have your friend, your father, your mother, your spouse, your children, your grandfather, your other people. Add one more person. Krishn is in your family. Radhey is one of your family members. Means you have to desire to find love of Radha and Krishn; that's all. Slowly. You can't do it abruptly, you can't do it overnight. Add. Addition is very possible, not impossible.

You see, you are alone, then you marry, then you have one child, two children, three children. It means you keep on multiplying your desires. You love everybody, equally. So you can also add Radha Krishn in your family. They are also part of your family. At least They have some space. In your heart and mind. And when They get some space, They Themselves...expand. Just like fire, a little fire, a match stick, it can burn the whole house, if you properly protect it. So the flame of desire when it's simple and honest, it becomes an earnest desire that itself takes the shape of pure love for Radha and Krishn. That's all you have to do.

So that message God Shiv and Parvati gave on Shivratri. "O souls! Whatever I am experiencing, and I have experienced, the same raas ras Bliss you all can experience. Just desire for Radha and Krishn."

Bolo Shyama Shyam ki, jai!
Barsana Dham ki, jai!
Gopeshwar Mahadev ki, jai!
Raseshwari Radha Rani ki, jai!
Jai Shree Radhey!

Enhanced by Zemanta

1/22/12 6:27pm Allegheny College, Meadville, PA

- Vyasar Ganesan

I am thinking about the drive up.

It is Friday, December 23rd, and Texas is marvelously warm compared to the rest of the country. The rolling Hill Country is still a little green, clinging to summer in anticipation of spring. As the car takes the sharp turns and deep drops, bits and pieces of buildings rise and fall in the windshield. A ranch here, a gas station there. The only constant bit of man-made edifice I see are chicken wire fences.

Then, at the crest of the highest hill, with a grand parting of the trees and flourish of the sky, the topmost bit of the shikar flies into view. Radha Madhav Dham, one of the largest Hindu temples in America, a beacon in the hills and in my heart.

It has been a long time.

I was here more than four months ago, mumbling a hasty prayer in the hall the day before my flight back to school. The night was hot, an oppressive force on my back, pushing me wherever I went. I remember feeling rushed in my thoughts, mentally weighing the clothes, snacks and books I was taking with me to school. My whole memory of summer, in a way, feels somewhat like this: rushing to pack away good feelings, good memories, to take with me to college.

But in winter, things slow down. The trees behave less like living, breathing organisms, and more like statues left out in the cold. Animals and insects huddle together for warmth, lowering their heart rates and taking their time in foraging, nesting, surviving, understanding their environment. Winter is a season that gives us all pause, room to feel out our sense of self in relation to the larger world. And for our spiritual guidance, nothing is more important than having the time to actively practice faith with that tempered mindset.

I am traversing the hills to Radha Madhav Dham to attend the 2011 winter Hindu Family Camp, something I have done since I was sixteen. Every year, more than 100 people from across the country do the same thing; old and young, rich and poor. Some have been coming as long as I have, but many of the attendees this year are coming for the first time. Not all of them are families, either: some single adults and, in my case, college students, come without their families. But from everyone, I have heard the sentiment expressed multiple times that "if you can't be in India, you should be here."

Attending a Family Camp at Radha Madhav Dham is not accurately comparable to being in India, but it is certainly an experience you're unlikely to have anywhere else in America. Who else spends their day after Christmas lost in prayer, dreaming of God? Where else are you going to find a tightly massed crowd crammed into a temple on New Year's Eve, chanting until noon the next day? What people do you know who spend the days in between learning about scripture, religious festivals, and the path of devotion?

What pushes a Family Camp beyond the normal temple experience, though, isn't just the prayer hall. It's what people bring into the prayer hall, the totality of the divine experience they have at Radha Madhav Dham. We remember staying an extra half an hour outside to finish a seva project, of our own volition; the smiling faces of children as they perform heart-wringing leelas of Radha and Krishn; the smell of prasad being cooked in the community kitchen; kabadi being played on the front lawn of the temple; adults and kids alike running out of breath as they are surrounded by hugging arms. When you have all of that to take into the prayer hall, and you look at the loving forms of Radha and Krishn, you are transformed, transported to place you didn't think existed.

The temple is just around the next bend, and I find myself thinking of all the work that needs doing, in preparation for the next semester, and even in preparation for the Camp. The weight is very sudden and swift, and I can feel the gears beginning to heat up and spin in my mind. I smile as I pass through the gates. I have to remind myself that it's winter.

[Registration for JKP Radha Madhav Dham's Summer Hindu Family Camp is now available. Visit www.HinduFamilyCamp.org for details]

Enhanced by Zemanta

The long awaited time has come...the glorious Prem Mandir will be inaugurated in Vrindaban, India on February 15-17, 2012.

Prem Mandir Inauguration 2012 - by Jagadguru Kripaluji Maharaj

The long awaited time has come...the glorious Prem Mandir will be inaugurated in Vrindaban, India on February 15-17, 2012. The festivities will include kalash yatra with Yamuna jal (water), which will cleanse and sanctify the temple. Thousands of devotees from around the world are expected to participate in the yatra. Vedic havan (fire ceremonies) and rituals will be held, and the pran prathistha (instilling life into the Deities) will be personally performed by Jagadguru Shree Kripaluji Maharaj, founder of Jagadguru Kripalu Parishat and Prem Mandir. Radha Krishn deities will reside on the ground floor, and Sita Ram will Grace the shrine on the first floor. Every evening, the famous Ras Mandalis of Vrindaban will enact Braj leelas.

Prem Mandir Inauguration 2012 - by Jagadguru Kripaluji Maharaj

Many years in the making, this temple is unique in Vrindaban. Elegantly carved of white Italian marble, the temple depicts 84 scenes of Radha Krishn leelas carved into the temple's outer walls. Stepping inside the magnificent temple, one can view the philosophy of bhakti yog, as revealed by Jagadguru Shree Kripaluji Maharaj, inlaid in the ornate walls with semi-precious stones. Kripalu Trayodashi, the famous concise overview of all of the philosophy of Hindu dharm in only 13 verses, composed by Kripaluji Maharaj, is displayed just next to the shrine. Historical Saints and the Jagadgurus of India are prominently displayed on both levels.

Prem Mandir Inauguration 2012 - by Jagadguru Kripaluji Maharaj

Prem Mandir is situated on a 50-acre site on the outskirts of the holy city of Vrindaban (Braj District, U.P. India). The surrounding area is being developed as a place of pilgrimage for visitors from around the world. Here, one can participate in the satsang and take the spiritual benefit of the Divine teachings emanating from this important spiritual center, which will be a Divine nucleus in Vrindaban.

Prem Mandir Inauguration 2012 - by Jagadguru Kripaluji Maharaj

When completed, the center will include a fully charitable hospital, a 10,000-seat satsang bhavan (hall) - one of the largest in India - dining and living facilities. The multi-media shops will offer beautiful kirtans, philosophical books, stunning photos of Radha Krishn and other devotional material for sale. A museum depicting India's antiquity and the history of the creation of the brahmand is also planned.

(Written by Sushree Janeshwari Devi of JKP India)

Connect & Share

Join our e-list

Daily Teachings

Powered by Movable Type 4.32-en

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from February 2012 listed from newest to oldest.

January 2012 is the previous archive.

March 2012 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.