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“Legacy of Love: A servants quest” by Yamuna Dasi and Malati Manjari Dasi

This book about Srimati Hladini Devi Dasi was given to me by a dear friend and I’m truly grateful as this book is hard to come by and provides so much inspiration for anyone practicing bhakti yoga, but especially for women.

The beauty of Hladini was in her simplicity and her utter heartfelt devotion and personal relationship with the Lord. The book is very nicely written and you really get a glimpse into what it would be like to be fully absorbed in devotional service while present in this world. No fame, no fanfare, no worshipers or followers. She simply followed her heart and took care of Lord Jagannath as if he were her child. Under all kinds of austerities, in ice and snow, year after year, with lack of money and lack of people to help her, she worked tirelessly to ensure that Lord Jagannath had the best service that she could possibly offer. And by this simple act of love and single minded fixation on the Lord, she became self realized.

Perhaps the most glorious part of Hladini’s story, is that at the moment of death, she remained fixed in her devotion and without a second thought, gave her life to protect the devotees of the Lord. Never once putting herself before others, she is an amazing example of how we can adopt a true service attitude. The only point of this life is to prepare for the moment of death, the final test. And she passed it.

Janmastami 07

Video from Janmastami here at Sri Sri Radha Kalachandji Dham  in Dallas, TX.

Most of the festival took place outside, with a stage set up in the park next to the temple.  By then it was too dark to film  …and then it rained, beautiful rain, as if the demigods were blessing all the devotees.

The obligation of a Sramanerika, a novice nun, is to bend her back and offer it as a stepping stone for those traveling from darkness to enlightenment.

And once she becomes a Bhiksuni, a nun, she will stop loving only a few people and start loving all the living beings, and she will also move from serving only her family towards serving the entire world.

–Master Cheng Yen–

from “Master of Love and Mercy: Cheng Yen”

A very nice quote that reminds me of the humility and service attitude needed to advance in spiritual life. It is not that we “teach” others by telling them what to do. We simply offer ourselves as their servant, or stepping stone so they may advance in spiritual life.

And such a simple concept to love all living beings, but such a difficult one to execute in terms of loving and serving all living beings equally.

Home Program vids

Just a couple of videos from a recent home program here in the Dallas area.  This new HDD camera is terrible at shooting in low light unfortunately.

Prayers of Queen Kunti

As Krishna departed for Dwaraka to visit his parents, friends and relatives. Queen Kunti stood by the side of his chariot with folded palms and offered prayers.

“O Krishna, you are the original personality, unaffected by anything in this material world. You exist within and without, yet you are invisible to all. Foolish men fail to recognize your identity as the Supersoul of all beings, for you cannot be known by the material senses. Only those who are free from lust and avarice can approach and know you, for otherwise you remain covered by your own illusory energy. Yet you reciprocate with those who come to you in love, acting from within their hearts to free them from illusion.”

Standing outside the royal palace, Kunti praised Krishna for some time. She described the many occasions that she and her sons had been in danger and how Krishna had saved them. Her voice trembled with sublime joy. “O Govinda, I wish that all these calamities would happen again and again, for seeing you means that we will no longer see repeated birth and death.”

During her son’s exile, Kunti had devoted herself to fasts and asceticism. She was a self-realized soul and understood that the ultimate aim of life was to achieve freedom from rebirth in the material world. Realizing that her many difficulties in life had forced her to meditate on Krishna, she felt that those difficulties had been a great blessing, for she had come to know Krishna as the final goal of all spiritual practices. Kunti had cultivated detachment from matter and prayed that Krishna would sever her last attachments to the world in the form of her feelings of affection for her sons and other relatives. Kunti knew that in order to achieve complete liberation, she had to see all living beings, including her own family, as eternal spirit souls. One in true knowledge sees and loves all creatures equally, knowing them to be parts of the Supreme. Bodily designations are temporary and ultimately, meaningless.

Mother Kunti concluded with a final heartfelt prayer. “O Lord of Madhu, as the Ganges forever flows to the sea without hindrance, let my attraction be constantly drawn to you without being diverted to anyone else.”

To dive further into the wonderful prayers of Queen Kunti, please read this book by HDG Srila Prabhupada.

Bhishma prays to Krishna before he departs

“Let me now invest my thinking, feeling and willing, which were so long engaged in different subjects and occupational duties, in the all powerful Lord Krishna. He is always self-satisfied: but sometimes, being the leader of the devotees he enjoys transcendental pleasure by coming to the material world- although he himself creates the material world. He has appeared on this earth in his transcendental body, which is blue like a tamala tree. That divine body attracts everyone in the three planetary systems. May his lotus face, decorated with sandalwood pulp, be the constant object of my attraction, and may I not desire any material results for my acts.”

Bhishma knew that Krishna’s engagement in the battle was simply an aspect of his transcendental enjoyment. Krishna enjoyed showing his love for Arjuna by assisting him in ways that reciprocated with Arjuna’s desire. He had enjoyed a similar reciprocation with Bhishma, who had relished the sight of Krishna rushing toward him in anger. Remembering that loving exchange, Bhishma recounted the pastime.

“Fulfilling my desire and sacrificing his own promise, he got down from the chariot, took up a wheel, and ran toward me just as a lion goes to kill an elephant. That image is forever fixed in my mind-Krishna’s beautiful blackish face smoldering in anger as he charged toward me with his bright yellow garment falling to the ground. His armour was shattered my my arrows and his body was smeared with the blood of his wounds. May that Lord Krishna, the Supreme Person who awards salvation, be my ultimate destination.”

“I can now meditate with full concentration upon that one Lord, Krishna, visible before me, because I have transcended the misconception of duality. It is this Krishna who is present in everyone’s heart and who is the ultimate destination for all transcendentalists, including those who accept the absolute truth as being simply the Brahman. Even though the sun may be perceived differently by different people in different parts of the world, the sun is one. I therefore surrender myself fully to that all-powerful, omnipresent Krishna. May all be well with the worlds.”

Suddenly Bhishma’s life air shot out from the crown of his head and went into the sky like a blazing comet. The rishis present could see that he had left his body in a brilliant spiritual form and entered into Krishna, thus going to the eternal transcendental atmosphere where Krishna forever displays his loving pastimes. They folded their palms and uttered praises to Krishna, then became silent out of respect for Bhishma. The Pandavas sat silently shedding tears, seeing that their beloved grandfather had departed.

This is such a beautiful and moving part of the Mahabharata. Bhishma was a wonderful example of a devotee in Dasya rasa.

Pavitraropana Ekadasi

Today is Pavitraropana Ekadasi, the day where we offer a sacred cord or garland to the Lord.  This is an old vrata, mentioned in many Pancaratras and dharma-sastras. It is also described at length in the Hari-bhakti-vilasa (15.168-240, translated in “Dearest to Vishnu”, pp 118-134). The purpose of the vrata is to make up for any deficiences in the worship of the year that has passed.

On Pavitraropana Ekadasi, Pavtiras or Ponvates which are rings, wristlets or necklets are made from strands of cotton threads of varying lengths, number of twists and knots. These strands or Ponvates are then washed, consecrated with mantras and offered to different Gods like Shiva, Vishnu, the Sun and also the family priest. The best Ponvate is it seems of nine-stranded with one hundred and eight twists and twenty-four knots.

Check out this nice photo post on Chakra.

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Even though I am not performing this vrata, my meditation for today will be on purifying myself in order to improve my standard of deity worship in the coming year ahead.