Below is an article that appeared today from a major west coast media outlet in Vancouver, Canada.
People pay their respects inside the Hare Krishna Temple on Marine Drive in Burnaby, which welcomes about 450 worshippers each Sunday. Photograph by: Arlen Redekop, PNG , Sunday Reporter
Hare Krishna Temple By Kent Spencer, Sunday Reporter September 9, 2012
Congregation: Hare Krishna Temple
Co-president of Hare Krishna Temple: John O'Sullivan
Your religion: Krishna Consciousness is in a category of its own but many align us with the Hindu faith.
Message in a tweet: What separates human beings from animals is humans understand their identity as an eternal spirit soul, that there is life after this life and there is a god in control.
How many people attend services? Our regular congregational Sunday program consists of about 450 attendees.
What is the most beautiful thing about your temple? The people that visit - who appreciate the peaceful atmosphere, see our organic vegetable garden, stroll through the forest, enjoy a beautiful meal at our vegetarian restaurant, witness the beautiful deities of the Lord and receive the sublime knowledge found there. And who give us an opportunity to serve them!
If you would like to see your congregation featured on this page - we are interested in all faiths, religions and beliefs - please contact us at Sunday@theprovince.com
THE MORAL QUESTION
Hare Krishna devotees are asked to utter a sacred chant 1,728 times every day.
The holy verse is composed of four simple lines that repeatedly praise Krishna (God) and take the consciousness to a higher place, away from the material world.
Jaya Govinda Das, co-president of the Hare Krishna Temple in Burnaby, dresses in a traditional white robe and has closely cropped hair.
He was born in Montreal 60 years ago, as was John O'Sullivan, but chucked a "typical Canadian" life as a beer-drinking college student to become a full-time devotee in 1982.
His daily chanting begins at 5: 30 a.m. in the brightly decorated temple hall. It takes about two hours.
"Chanting uplifts your consciousness and cleanses the heart," he says.
Hare Krishna, which is 500 years old, is a "spiritual culture," not a religion, he says.
"Religion is a type of faith. It can change from Hinduism, to Buddhism and Christianity. Hare Krishna is a way of life," he says. "We're not [of] this body. We're the soul of the eternal spirit."
He says pleasures of the material world come at the expense of inner happiness.
"We've seen the bumper sticker that says the one who dies with the most toys wins. Political campaigns are always talking about making economic gains," he says. "People are not becoming happier - they are becoming more frustrated. Things like war and crime are increasing because people are not nourishing their spiritual identity ... If the spirit is satisfied, people are not inclined to become overly extravagant."
Das says it's OK to work hard, but it should be done for God's service, not your own.
"It's OK to be industrious. Support your family. But we don't want to take the fruit of our labour and make ourselves the centre of attention. God is the centre of attention," he says.
Hare Krishna devotees are asked to give up four things: meat, intoxication, gambling and illicit sex.
"Just by taking up spiritual practices, other things fall into place," he says. "Simple living and high thinking is the objective," says Das.
5462 Marine Dr., Burnaby . email@example.com
Below is an article from Brantford of our very own HH Bhakitmarga Maharaj who is currently on his 4th cross Canada walk...
Bhaktimarga Swami, "The Walking Monk," heads west out of Paris, Ontario on Monday, Aug. 13 along King Edward Street as he continues his fourth trek across Canada to promote better health, spiritual awareness and pilgramage. MICHAEL PEELING/THE PARIS STAR/QMI AGENCY
Monk finds walking therapeutic and addictive
By Michael Peeling, Sun Media
Tuesday, August 14, 2012 7:24:04 EDT PM
Bhaktimarga Swami, a Hare Krishna monk, freely admits to be an addict.
His drug of choice: walking.
The Chatham, Ont. native also known as John Peter Vis loves walking so much, he’s in the middle of his fourth walk across Canada since 1996.
Hi first walk was featured in the documentary “The Longest Road.”
The Swami has a lot of fun terms for his walks, but he calls this one a “get up off your butt-a-thon” with a smile.
“It’s a great way to clear the cobwebs in my mind,” he says. “Walking really helps create clarity of thought. When I think about what it does to improve me psychologically, physically and spiritually, I think people should reconsider the idea of walking.”
The Toronto-based monk says walking also provides a positive way to deal with identity crisis, stress and faltering relationships and a chance for self-discovery.
Very much in keeping with being a monk, Bhaktimarga Swami is also promoting the notion of pilgrimage.
“That’s the type of things monks do – go on long treks for inspiration and that exactly how I feel when I walk; in fact, it gets better each time” reads a brochure he hands out to anyone who is interested in his story and motivation.
The brochure also invites others to join the vegetarian monk for part of his journey.
When he isn’t walking, Bhaktimarga Swami is a yoga instructor and director of morality plays.
Although he might not be everyone’s image of cool, he’s hoping one day people will think of walking as where it’s at, instead of disturbing the peace in a muscle car and blasting music. He doesn’t even have an MP3 player to keep him company, just a man named Daruka who follows him in a blue sedan with his parrot Billy.
“I think when we walk, we should listen to what’s around us,” said the Walking Monk. “I’m going for simplicity.”
Not only does he believe walking can be cool, he think it can help quell the turmoil of a troubled mind.
“I say more walking, less squawking,” he said. “A lot gets cleared up in my mind when I walk.”
Once all your worries are cleared up on two feet, the monk believes an uncluttered mind can come up with its best ideas and “beautiful innovations.”
Vis embraced an eastern monastic life in 1973 as a student of Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.
The seasoned cross-country walker made a point of starting his journey at Cape Spear, Newfoundland, the first point east in North America, instead of the 0 km marker in St. John’s.
Bhaktimarga Swami has also been sticking to secondary highways such as #4 in Nova Scotia and Highway 2 through Paris, a path which will take him to his hometown.
While some might find the Prairies boring, he finds something inspiring.
“The Prairies are totally awesome,” he said. “It’s a great place to step into infinity.”
ISKCON Swaziland with Jagat Guru Prabhu (left) & Savyasaci Prabhu(right)
After the last post with the disappointing news about the fire at ISKCON Dallas, this is something positive. With the mercy of Srila Prabhupada, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu's message is being spread to every town and village ~ Gauranga!
MBABANE – Meditation is catching on in Swaziland and one of the types is japa meditation, practised by the Hare Krishna sect.
Sibusiso Nhlabatsi, also known as Savyacasi Das, his initiation name, has declared meditation to be an important aspect of life. The Tshwane University of Technology graduate and monk belonging to the International Society for Krishna Consciousness said his initiation involved practising the Maha mantra for one hour thirty minutes, for a couple of weeks, converting to vegetarianism and avoiding pre-marital sex. Speaking of being a monk, Das said it was about dedicating one’s body, mind and soul to the service of God and he is a full time missionary for Krishna.
He described the International Society for Krishna Consciousness as an ‘educational society’ and said some of the monks were allowed to marry and they were the ones who wore orange robes. The society, which was founded by AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, is based in Mbangweni in the country and led by Bhajti Narasymha Swami, from Durban in South Africa.
He said the society teaches the science of self-realisation through meditation and refers to the Indian scripture called the Bhagavadgita. Das said the society provided home programmes and centreprogrammes on Sundays at 2pm. According to Das’ beliefs, meditation is a very important and a necessary function for one who wants to be happy and free of miseries and anxieties of life.
He said their belief was that meditation meant fixing the mind to be above the everyday anxieties which affect the mind; hence one must raise oneself above the material platform to a transcendental level. "We believe that God is on the spiritual level and that if we are in constant contact or association with God, we can be situated on the spiritual platform," said Das.
Their belief states that the easiest way to be fixed in constant association with God is through the chanting of his names. It further states that if one practises their meditations and followed the golden rules for japa meditation, they will achieve real success and happiness in life.
Some disappointing news. Last night there was a fire at ISKCON Dallas, primarily affecting Kalachandji's Restaurant. A cook top was left on. A good lesson. A few weeks ago it was rather late and we were sitting with Maharaj after a sanga at ISKCON Toronto and we smelled gas from the kitchen and indeed one burner was left on... Hopefully Kalachandji's can be quickly restored and thankfully Lord Narshima protected all devotees from any physical harm.
Fire Friday night started in Kalachandji's Restaurant and Palace a restaurant below a Hare Krishna temple in Dallas. NBC 5
Dallas Restaurant Damaged by Fire
Dallas Fire-Rescue says the fire started in the kitchen of the restaurant
By Elvira Sakmari| Saturday, May 19, 2012 | Updated 9:04 AM CDT
A Dallas restaurant must close its doors after a kitchen fire Friday night.
The fire started in the kitchen at Kalachandji's Restaurant and Palace, which is located just below a Hare Krishna temple near Graham and Fairview Avenues.
The restaurant played host to a celebration Friday night, Dallas Fire-Rescue says after the kitchen closed a cook top was left on.
"There happened to a wok of cooking oil, we believe that contributed to the fire, the damage and the fire," said Dallas Captain Paul Martin.
Fire officials said while the fire was put out quickly the restaurant suffered tens of thousands of dollars in damage. The temple above suffered only smoke damage.
As reported last week Oprah Winfrey was indeed in Vrindavan Dham as confirmed by numerous media outlets and pictured above with garlands on. In last weeks posting we promised more details however besides a visit to Vrindavan widows, a scuffle between her security and journalists during a visit to a temple/ashram, details have not been forthcoming. Early media reports from outlets by India Today and MSN indicated a visit to the ISKCON temple which is in Vrindavan (Mathura district). However, we cannot confirm this detail since there were no photos nor can we rule it out.
When I spoke to my father and other devotees who were in Vrindavan dham at the time they were all oblivious to the fact that Oprah was even in Vrindavan. Who can blame them when they are taking in the mellows of the all Opulent Krishna Who is full of Fame and Wealth of which no one can even hold a candle to. They also pointed out that many dignitaries including ministers and wealthy tycoons visit and such visits are not out of the ordinary and most devotees in the Land of Krishna may not even recognize Oprah.
We pray that she is able to utilize this rare form of human life and the publicity and air time she is blessed with for a higher purpose and to glorify Krishna.
We are glad the Oprah was able to receive some mercy by visiting Vrindavan dham.
~ Indresh (SubhaVilasa Prabhu is still on tour in other parts of India)
Just under a month ago the victory flag was hoisted after the attempt to ban the Bhagavad Gita As It Is was folded. Now the prosecutors in Tomsk continue to act as persecutors and may once again try to ban the Bhagavad Gita in Russia.
Gita verdict: Russian prosecutors planning to file appeal
PTI | Jan 26, 2012
MOSCOW: Undeterred by a Siberian court's rejection of their plea seeking a ban on a translated version of the Bhagvad Gita, Russian prosecutors are planning to file an appeal against the verdict on the holy book dubbed by them as "extremist literature".
Prosecutors in the Siberian city of Tomsk argue that the Russian translation of "Bhagvad Gita As It Is" promotes "social discord" and hatred towards non-believers, an issue which caused anger among believers around the world and forced New Delhi to take up the matter with Moscow.
The text is a combination of the Bhagvad Gita, one of Hinduism's holiest scriptures, and commentary by A C Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, founder of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, that is commonly known as the Hare Krishna movement, ISKCON.
The deadline to file an appeal against the December 28, 2011 ruling by a Tomsk court, which turned down the petition seeking a ban on the book, expired yesterday, Sadhu Priya Das, of ISKCON, Moscow, who is also Chairman of newly-formed Hindu Council of Russia, said.
His comments came when asked about reports in the Russian media that prosecutors in Tomsk were filing an appeal against the court's ruling.
"The prosecutors have sought more time from the same court (which rejected their plea last month) for filing an appeal against the verdict" in a higher court, he said.
Govinda's is a great way to give people prasadam and introduce them to Krishna Consciousness. In personal observation, Govinda's/Hare Krishna restaurants are making a come back and in recent months we have seen positive articles about Govinda's in various temples in North America. Here is another nice article about Govinda's in Tucson and although it appears in the local university paper...talk about addressing the right audience :)
Garden state of mind
Govinda’s serves up vegetarian feast and tranquil dining experience for studentsBy CECELIA MARSHALL January 20, 2012
Not all restaurant owners can say their menu items are carefully prepared by monks, or that the building is attached to a temple, or that their guests can enjoy the company of live macaws in the dining room — Govinda’s Natural Foods Buffet offers all these features and is still adding on with the celebration of the opening of its new library this Saturday from noon to 2 p.m. including, of course, vegetarian refreshments and snacks.
Open since 1992, Govinda’s is a nonprofit organization and restaurant known for its vegan and vegetarian options as well as its therapeutic atmosphere. Its resort-like environment, attached to a Hare Krishna temple, is enclosed within a colorfully decorated oasis.
If you’re feeling adventurous, wander inside and kick off your shoes, sit cross-legged on the floor and eat in the temple room. The free Wi-Fi and the quiet atmosphere makes it an ideal place to escape to finish a paper or study for an exam.
The restaurant has served as a Hare Krishna center for prayer, meditation and transcendental classes for almost 25 years. The Hare Krishna monks, many of whom live on the property, are the chefs in the kitchen and have been specially trained to cook the vegetarian dishes.
The monks cook with only good intentions, and make the food gently and kindly, so that when you eat it, you feel well, said Gene Filaseta of the temple management team. Filaseta added that each worker considers it his or her job to be morally pure in order to serve food that “nourishes the whole being.”
Govinda’s serves only organic produce, including raw, unprocessed grains and unrefined sugars. All the employees, from cooks to dishwashers, are vegetarian. The restaurant’s chefs also make their own cheese and grind their own spices. Food at the buffet is at least 75 percent vegan, although Govinda’s offers a completely vegan menu on Thursdays and Indian food specials on Tuesdays.
“The flavors mix well together,” said Shaina Shay, a senior studying French and environment and water resource economics. She explained that she enjoys Govinda’s medley of organic salad dressings, including cashew dressing and sweet mustard dressing, which she mixed together on her salad instead of choosing only one.
Govinda’s also features samosas, homemade apricot bread, vegetarian sloppy joes, eggplant parmesan, lentil croquettes and scrambled tofu for their Sunday brunches.
Govinda’s is a buffet, but the goal isn’t to eat as much as possible. Instead, it’s all about enjoying the flavors, the process of eating and the atmosphere of the restaurant.
Conn Huffaker, who was visiting from Wisconsin, said he found Govinda’s to be peaceful.
“The grounds are very attractive with the birds and koi,” Huffaker said, commenting on the surroundings with peacocks, a waterfall and guest accommodations.
Govinda’s also has a gift shop, which offers unique treasures such as jewelry, candles, incense, books, CDs and more, all imported directly from India, Thailand, Nepal and Bali.
Make sure you walk around outside during your visit to Govinda’s Natural Foods Buffet. Whether you find yourself reflecting near the koi pond, peering at the peacocks and parakeets, or stumbling across the many Hare Krishna sculptures, Govinda’s is sure to be a cultural experience for anyone interested in visiting.
Don't have all the details yet, but Oprah Winfrey visited Vrindavan earlier today. Oprah is a major celebrity and has a lot of influence. In recent times she has espoused benefits of a plant based diet and done shows on being Vegetarian/Vegan. She got into a fight with the cattle industry and even recently did a Vegan show showing the grotesque method cow slaughter to the public. So nice to see her visit the land of Krishna and His cows :)
The following story just came across the wire and I could not help to think about our own HH Bhaktimarga Swami with the Festival of Walking, walking to a different town every day and capped off by kirtan and drama....
Hare Krishna devotees in Lasbasa yesterday. Picture: SALASEINI VOSAMANA
Devotees walk for their faith
Thursday, January 19, 2012
BEING loyal to their faith, a group of Hare Krishna devotees in Labasa took time out to walk more than 10 kilometres yesterday to celebrate the Festival of Walking.
The festival signifies the devotees' journey with Lord Jagannath as they celebrated and commemorated his life during the walk.
The group started the celebration from Seaqaqa on Monday night with a walk to Tabia. The next leg was from Tabia to Tabucola.
Devotee Rakesh Kumar said this was the only event they anticipated every year to show their gratitude and well-wishes to their God.
"This is a week-long celebration and it started all the way from Seaqaqa where devotees chanted religious songs and prayers," Mr Kumar said.
"As part of the celebrations, we are also staging dramas and entertainment every night for the public.
"We don't care what people think of us because this is what we believe in and we'll continue to remain true to our faith.
"In every aspect of life, there is criticism but we have to be strong to be able to share the message of truth."
Mr Kumar said they would continue their journey to Labasa Town today where vegetarian dishes would be provided for lunch.
"This celebration is all about sharing and by distributing free lunches to the public, we are portraying a kind act," he said.
In a few hours the court case in Russia will resume with their feeble attempts to ban the greatest dialogue in history, the Bhagavad Gita. Through the media coverage millions have read about the Bhagavad Gita and worldwide the distribution of the Bhagavad Gita has taken on even greater meaning. Krishna is in control of everything and we pray to Krishna to protect the Russian yatra and the distribution of the Bhagavad Gita As-it-is.
Of course no matter what the results the collective devotee community has full faith in Krishna. His Holiness Gopal Krishna Maharaja asked that we restrain from worldwide protests. Hopefully tomorrow the results are for celebration and we can hit the street with more vigor distributing Srila Prabhupada's books. If not, we hope with the blessings of HH Bhakti Vijnana Goswami, HH Gopal Krishna Goswami and other senior leaders of ISKCON Russia we can hit the streets with hundreds of mrdangas, kartals, books and voices to use this as a catalyst to spread the timeless message of the Bhagavad-Gita on behalf of Srila Prabhupada and fulfill our duty in Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu's sankitan movement...
[The title of the article chosen by TOI created some wishful thinking for a moment but the contents are more reflective of the current status. Of course, there are now hundreds upon hundreds of articles about this case and thus we are selectively posting only a few since the devotee community at large is well aware of the case...]
Moscow courts had dismissed Gita cases
Mona Mehta, TNN | Dec 28, 2011
Tomorrow at 12:30 hours IST, Tomsk court, Russia, is due to pass its verdict on banning the Bhagavad Gita. An "anti-cult" group affiliated to the Russian Orthodox Church, has called for a ban on the Gita terming it an 'extremist' text. And the verdict can have far reaching repercussions - either way.
An expert panel was constituted to examine if the text incites religious hatred and humiliation.
"Banning the Gita as an extremist piece of literature would mean banning the Russian chapter of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness - one of the biggest Hindu organizations in Russia with a following of around 40,000, of which nearly 1,000 people visit the temple in Moscow every day," said Swami Bhakti Vigyan (nee Vadim Touneev), scientist by training and head of ISKCON, Russia, currently in Delhi.
This is not the first time that the Bhagavad Gita has been involved in a court case. "There were two others in a Moscow court, but Moscow being more cosmopolitan, these cases were dismissed. This one time, they have gone ahead and pressed charges and it has come to court for hearing in Tomsk," said Swami Bhakti Vigyan.
So what is so objectionable about the Bhagavad Gita - the text or commentary by Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada? "Contrary to what the Russian government's spokesperson has to say, what the court is objecting to is not Prabhupada's commentary but the Bhagavad Gita itself," Swami says, who helped translate the text into Russian. "I have been involved with the translation of the Gita, especially its third edition, released in 2007. All I did was to make a few stylistic changes. The rest of the book remains the same as it was in 1984 when the Gita was first distributed in Russia. We have given out more than 10 million copies since," he adds.
A majority of the Russian population, 70 percent, would align themselves with the Russian Orthodox Christian Church, the religion prevalent in Russia before the Soviet rule, say experts, while 10 percent follow Islam. The rest are mostly atheists. "I do agree that there is a difference in the Christian and ISKCON conception of God, I understand the court has a problem with terms such as 'demons' for asuras and 'fools' for mudhas but Russians are philosophical by nature, with a high level of receptivity. They seek answers to what is the meaning of life after death and why we are born. Many Christians have told me that their understanding of the Biblehas become deeper after reading the Gita," said Swami Vigyan. "The contention is that we differ at a theological level, but a normal court is not the place to debate these differences. The core teachings of both Christianity and ISKCON are the same - love thy neighbour, love God," he added.