Julian Fantino with Indresh at official launch.
Yesterday, Julian Fantino won the byelection in Vaughan (near Toronto) and became Canada's newest Member of Parliament. Of course, this is not really all that important to devotees so there is a story behind the headline. In October, we were asked to come to his launch and we intially turned it down since we had the kid's skating lessons and promised to go out with friend's afterwards. Anyhow, after a number of calls that evening and the fact that the Minister of Finance was coming, other MPs and some other contacts we knew personally, we changed our mind and we decided to go. We had my dad take the kids from the arena and we tried to dewrinkle our office wear of the day.
During the launch there were the normal speaches, elbow rubbing and chit chat. In the chit chat, we found out that some of us had the opportunity to chat with Jim Flaherty, the Minster of Finance. Earlier, I had seen Brinda's "copy", so on a bit of a whim I grabbed that Bhagavad Gita. It was the only one we had on us and that only by chance. Upon inspection it was actually marked up by my daughter Brinda where she wrote her name on one page and across the thick portion/pages opposite to the spine of the book. So I grabbed an eraser from the kids back packs and did some erasing. I handed it to Kishori and told her to stuff it in her purse and got a bit of a weird look from her :)
So as promised, there actually was an oppurtunity for a few of us to meet with the Minster of Finance and after the intros, I had Kishori whip out the Bhagavad Gita and I presented it as a gift to Jim Flaherty. He was appreciative and said he has heard of the Bhagavad Gita but has never had one. He flipped through it and upon seeing the sanskrit joked that he can't read that and I assured him there were English translations. I told him it was a good read for his trip back to Ottawa and for his travels and then conversation moved on from there... So that is how Canada's Minister of Finance recieved the Bhagavad Gita "As It Is".
Later on we met and congratulated Julian Fantino for his elction bid launch, I told him I had a book I wanted to give to him but gave it to Jim Flaherty instead. I promised to drop by with one. Anyhow, it has been a crazy month and did not get a chance to get to his offices. So a congratulatory visit is due anyhow and when I see him, I shall take a very special book and what better month than December (Gita-Jayanti & Prabhupada Marathon) to give it.
On a final note, some local Torontonians may know that Julian Fantino is known as the "Top Cop" since he was the Chief of Police for Toronto and the for the OPP (Ontario Provincial Police) most recently before he retired. I mention this since thanks to the opportunity granted by the Toronto Sankirtan team, last year around this time of the year, was the first time I went on book distribution since going when I was kid in Chicago. We got stopped by cops for making a traffic infraction and ended up distributing the first books, including a Bhagavad Gita to the police officer. Perhaps, I will leave the rest of that story for another post, but it seems that there is some synergy with book distribution and cops :)
Kishori with Julian Fantino. We were posing for official photos but these were taken with our iPhone and thus the lack of clarity.
"It’s the Hare Krishna chanting, sweet intimate vocals and soft repetitive melody that will live on forever in ‘My Sweet Lord’
~ In Today's Post on Clash Music (Nov. 29, 2010)
Under Headline: George Harrison - All things must pass Remains his definitive work.
So this You Tube Video which appeared on the Facebook feed over the weekend was an appropriate match.
Friends of Indresh and Kishori, a nice young family with kids came over for dinner. Kishori prepared a nice Italian dinner complete with Lasagna, pasta, coleslaw, stuffed potatoes and cheesecake. I have interacted with the family many times at grandkid's birthday parties, etc. but the challenge was that although somewhat religiously inclined the husband was eating meat and on occasion feeding it to the kids. So although not an ambush or intervention, we figured we would do some soft preaching.
So after a nice dinner and chit chat, the topic turned to our "lifestyle" and how the kids and grandkids are well adjusted and what "adding Krishna" brings. A favorite line is "a family that prays together, stays together".
In the 70's and 80's the "clobber them" approach was the norm but now it is more have them get a taste and Krishna will make it grow. Anyhow, by the end of the night to the delight of all not only did they committ to giving up eating meat but also chanting at least one round a day as part of their current yoga routine. As I said, just "add Krishna".
We took them to in front of the Deities and gave them japa beads and bags, offered to Srila Prabhupada and Sri Sri Radha Shyamasundar. Showed them how to chant and we all chanted together.
Kishori (my daughter in law) gave them a Higher Taste book for great recipes that give them some of the "variety" they are seeking.
And the whole experience is as rewarding to us as it is to the reciever. In an earlier blog post I talked about how Srila Prabhupada's gift is unique that it keeps giving and giving and the more you give it, the more it grows. Perhaps one day this family will introduce this new "yoga" to their circle of family and friends and that is what we call "paying it forward"
Jaya Srila Prabhupada!
Today, there are not many words needed. Just check out this video with Visnujana Swami doing kirtan and around the 3:30 mark devotees go wild when Srila Prabhupada starts chanting!!! Jaya Gurudev Srila Prabhupada!
Okay, before everyone freaks out and thinks that Subhavilasa has fallen down...this is another blog post by his son Indresh. And yes, I ate a Philly Cheese Steak. Okay...let me explain.
I recalled a trip to Philadelphia as I was writing the blog post yesterday about WWPSP (check it out: http://www.radhashyamasundar.com/2/post/2010/11/wwpsp.html)
I had a tradeshow to exhibit at in downtown Philadelphia and since my kids were off on extended March break I decided to take them (and Kishori) with me. Now all of us that travel on business realize that food becomes an issue while you try to balance sadana/Vaishnava standards and hunger and this multiplies when you have a wife plus a 6, 4 and 3 year old with you.
It so happened that during our trip to Philadelphia in March there was a flurry of posts on the net about ISKCON Philly, "issues", as well as a restaurant complex run by devotees called....you guessed it....Govinda's! In my past travels to Philadelphia and the ISKCON temple there, I never realized there was a Govinda's and since we staying downtown it was a Eureka moment of discovery and all thanks to posts meant to discourage devotees from these venues.
Yes, I said Eureka moment since you need to know two things about me. First, I am a vegetarian that does not like fruit and salads meant for bunny rabbits. My well toned physique will attest to this :). I am the first one to shelve the fruit, granola bars and pre-packed bags of healthy stuff so lovingly put together by my mom and wife. The second is that I have always been taught to think for myself and judge accordingly, which comes in handy in material and spirtual life.
So off we went to Govinda's! We did a double take when we saw the menu with "chicken" and "philly cheese steak", etc. but the person behind the counter reassured us. After a few orders which were polished off by cheesecake, they figured out we were devotees. A few gurukulis/2nd gens came in as well and we were talking about the usual who knows who.
As we were leaving they introduced us to Haryasva Prabhu, who runs the place. He had us check out the temple upstairs and talked to us about their preaching efforts. He told us about how they are very involved in the community and plans for expansion. He reminisced about his visits to Toronto, book distribution down Yonge Street and of course our very own Bhaktimarga Maharaj.
After all of that, I told him how we found him. Of course, he was not happy with all the "posts", but we all had a good laugh that if it was not for those posts we would not have found Govinda's. Haryasva Prabhu who is already a jovial type of devotee loved it and wanted to tell others. So instead of driving people away it actually brought us in and allowed for a peaceful night without the kids whining over dinner.
So that is the story of how I had my first Philly Chease Steak loaded with cheese and fries on the side!
And with that, there will be a new column every so often, called Diary of a Travelling Businessman talking about how every so often one of my trips in Europe, Asia/India, North America or South America has inadvertantly turned into a humorous Krishna Conscious adventure.
Picture from the Daily Herald Article
Americans are celebrating Thanksgiving weekend. Up here in Canada it is celebrated on the 2nd Monday of every October and some jokingly call it Happy Turkey day. Unfortunately, for most Turkey's it is not a happy day as they are slaughtered in mass. Every year, the U.S. President "pardons" a Turkey so that he can roam and live his natural life...the turkey that is. So I guess, somewhere along the road they understood that the decent and respectable thing to do is to "pardon" a turkey and too bad all the hoop-la on TV News does not translate into a mass "pardon" of all Turkeys and for that matter all animals.
This year the highlight of our Canadian Thanksgiving day was to spend it with Bhaktimarga Swami and a group of very sincere devotees that are pushing Srila Prabhupada's movement along in the Toronto area. Of course, we enjoyed heaping prasadam and just think, if that entire room was not in Srila Prabhupada's shelter at least 5 or more Turkeys would have been devoured (the opposite of pardoned).
And with so many homes and families being directly or indirectly touched by "Hare Krishnas" perhaps more and more turkeys are being pardoned from Hollywood to Manhattan from bsby boomers to teens.
My impetus for writing this is the fearless and devout leader in Utah, Caru Prabhu who picked up another nice article in the Daily Herald titled "Krishna devotees observe vegetarian Thanksgiving". Just one more ripple effect in changing Consciousness.
The article is linked here:
A few months ago my dad wanted me to put this site together and he also wanted a section to write his notes, thoughts and memories. Although he ran an IT company with multiple offices and employees he was not much of a web surfer, so I showed him a few "blogs" and in the process showed him some of the "tabloid" sites I regularly visited to stay "in touch" with what's going on in and around ISKCON.
He began to read and he looked at me critically and asked me a simple question..."Would this please Srila Prabupada?" Unfortunately (for me) his commentary did not end there and he chastised me for spending time on these type of sites and directing me to instead spend that same time on helping him with this blog.
So those 5 simple words, "Would this please Srila Prabhupada?" uttered by my father in disappointment set the tone for this blog. It also got me thinking that a few years ago "WWJD" was all the rage in America. It stands for "What would Jesus do?" I guess the ISKCON equivelant could be "WWPD" for "What would Prabhupada do?" but let's face it, I do not think we are qualified to guess what Jesus would do nor what Srila Prabhupada would do in every situation.
However, I do think the we all have a fairly good idea of "What Will Please Srila Prabhupada?" or WWPSP. Of course everyone's yardstick is a bit different on this and this is a personal question we can ask ourselves. In Vaishnava tradition there is plenty of room for debate and exchange of ideas, but as long as we can personally answer WWPSP.
So, I am actually grateful for being chastised and asked by him "Would this please Srila Prabhupada?" and thus on every blog entry the first and last check mark item is WWPSP!
My dad wanted to include the following line from Caitanya Caritāmrta Antya-lila:
maryādā - pālana haya sādhura bhusana
"Maintenance of the Vaishnava etiquette is the ornament of a devotee"
Srila Prabhupada, I sincerly hope this and every entry by worthless servants like us pleases you.
Almost time to hit the publish button...so one last time...WWPSP ~ What Will Please Srila Prabhupada?
Kala Sambar das in article picture
"SIXTEEN simple words were chanted in the name of happiness and joy..."
I loved the title of this newspaper story and the first line of the article, so I thought I would share...
SIXTEEN simple (and sweet) words indeed.
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna
Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama
Rama Rama Hare Hare
Thank you Srila Prabhupada for binding us with these sixteen simple words!