January 1, 2015
Dear devotees: May Lord Nrsimhadeva remove all obstacles on your path of devotion in 2015 and protect you in your efforts to spread the holy names to every town and village in the world! Visit:
January 3, 2015
The city of Udupi is situated in the southwest state of Karnataka in India. It has a population of 165,000 people, but is filled with visiting pilgrims throughout the year. Devotees come specifically to take darsan of the beautiful deity of Krishna [ Udupi Krishna ] who was established by Sripad Madhvacarya in the 13th century. Udupi is the headquarters of the followers of Madhvacarya. ISKCON identifies with the personal philosophy expounded by Madhvacarya, calling ourselves part of the ‘Brahma Madhva Gaudiya Sampradaya.’ Lord Caitanya visited Udupi during His travels in South India. During our 3 day visit we appreciated how Vedic culture is very much intact in Udupi and recommend it as a place devotees visit for Krsna conscious inspiration. Unfortunately, we did not get permission to take a photo of the deity of Udupi Krishna.
January 3, 2015
Yesterday we visited the home where the great saint Madhvacharya appeared. It is not far from Udupi. Madhvacharya was an incarnation of the wind god, Vayu, and previously appeared as both Hanuman and Bhima. He was instrumental is spreading Vaisnavism throughout India in the 13 century. We also took advantage to visit a nearby ancient temple of Lord Nrsimhadeva.
January 4, 2015
During our 8-hour drive from Udupi to Hampi we passed through the town of Hari Hara and took darshan of the combined form of Visnu and Siva in the Hariharaesvara Temple. The left side of the deity is Visnu and the right side is Lord Siva. The temple was built in 1224 AD by Polalva, a general in the army of King Narasimha II of the Hoysala empire. The ancient temple consists of 56 beautiful stone pillars. Visiting temples in such far distant parts of India gives one a sense of how old Vedic culture is. One can only marvel at the fact it still exists, and is now being propagated around the world by the followers of Lord Caitanya. Srila Prabhupada ki jaya!
January 6, 2015
Present day Humpi in Karnataka, India is located in the vast ruins of the Vijayanagara Empire, which flourished in the 13th and 14th centuries. The many stone temples, gardens, palaces and ancient market places are protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Of particular importance to Krsna and Rama bhaktas is the fact that Hanuman took birth on a mountain that overlooks present day Humpi. The entire area is called Kishkindha in the Ramayana and once contained the famous Dandaka forest. In Treta Yuga it was the kingdom of Sugriva, of the Varana monkey race. The region is full of millions of stones and boulders, both big and small. Sastra says the stones were left over after the bridge to Lanka was built and were brought to Kishkindha by Rama’s monkey soldiers. It took us 3 days to explore the entire area. We left with a deeper appreciation for our Vedic civilization, as well as a stronger attachment to the transcendental pastimes of Sita, Rama, Laksman and Hanumanji.
January 8, 2015
The town of Belfur, in the southern state of Karnataka in India, is set on the banks of the Yagachi river. It was chosen as the capitol of the Hoysala dynasty which ruled much of South India between the 11th and 14th centuries. The saintly kings of the Hoysala dynasty were great patrons of art and architecture during their 300 years of rule. The main temple in Belfur took 103 years to construct. The presiding Visnu deity is called Chenna Kesava, which means “the handsome Kesava.” It took us many hours to explore the entire ornate complex, with it’s many structures, described by local people as, “heaven on earth.” During our visit the citizens held a festival in honor of “handsome Kesava” that included a large parade. It was wonderful to see that after 1,000 years the deity is still loved and worshipped so nicely by the people.
January 10, 2015
Mysore, in the state of Karnataka, is often referred to as the, “City of Palaces.” Most prominent is the Mysore Palace, built by the royalty of the Wodeyar dynasty in 1897. It attracts over 3 million visitors a year. True to spirit of the dynasty which traces it’s ancestry back to the 14th century, the members of the royal family included 3 major temples in the palace itself and 18 more in the greater palace complex. The royal lineage, hailing from the Yadu dynasty in which Lord Krsna made His appearance 5,000 years ago, made one of the larger temples exclusively for the worship of Lord Krsna. Visiting the palace and the temples was an awe inspiring experience. As we left
the complex we looked up at the entrance gate and saw the emblem and coat of arms of the royal family which read, “Never Terrified!” We also visited the nearby Sri Rangapatna Temple on the bank of the Kaveri river where we took bath.
January 14, 2015
The temple of Venu Gopala Swami lies on top of a mountain 1,400 meters high in a densely forested area in Karnataka. Agastya muni once resided there and performed severe austerities. Because of his penance Lord Krsna agreed to come and reside there permanently. The temple was built in 1315 AD by a Hoysala king named Ballala. Access to the temple is restricted between 8:30 am and 4 pm because of roaming elephants, tigers, leopards and wild dogs. In fact, visitors are only allowed 90 minutes to drive up the mountain, take darshan of the Deity and come back down. Forest rangers make sure that no one ventures beyond the temple premises because of the wild animals. We were fortunate as we were invited by the priests to take the maha prasadam of the Deity after His noon offering. It was an exhilarating experience to drive up the steep mountain and rush to get the blessings of a Deity who has been worshipped continuously since the time of Agastya muni. I prayed to Venu Gopala Swami to become a valuable instrument in the hands of my spiritual master in helping him spread Krsna consciousness far and wide.
The Srikanteswara temple in Nanjangud, Karnataka is dedicated to Lord Siva. The Deity is called Nanjuneswara, which translates as, “The Lord Who Drank Poison.” Lord Siva drank poision to protect the world during the famous pastime of the churning of the milk ocean. Numerous other Deities are worshipped in the complex.The beautiful and ornate temple was constructed in 325 AD. Gautama Rsi performed austerities there and Lord Parasurama did penance on the banks of the nearby Kapila river. The temple is famous for it’s numerous chariot parades that take place throughout the year. We were particularly intrigued by a large Ganesh Deity who is covered in fresh ghee daily as part of his worship.
The town of Melkote in Karnataka is a celebrated place for Sri Vaisnavas. The illustrious head of the Sri Sampradaya, Srila Ramanujacarya ( 1137 AD – 1077 AD ) resided in Melkote for 12 years. The utsava ( festival ) Deity was once stolen by invaders and taken to Delhi. Ramanujacarya personally went to Delhi and rescued the Deity. Krsna and Balarama visited Melkote and gave a diamond crown to the presiding deity, Lord Narayana. Devout Sri Vaisnavas consider Melkote to be the Badarikasrama of South India. There is a famous temple of Lord Nrsimhadeva on the hill overlooking Melkote that was constructed in 1599 AD. Melkote is a small, quiet town that receives pilgrims from all over India throughout the year. There is a sanskrit school and a famous library containing ancient palm leaf scriptures in the town. During our visit we were fortunate to participate in a Deity procession around the temple. Melkote was the last stop on our South India pilgrimage. Now we turn our attention to our festival tour in Maharashtra. Time to share our good fortune with all.
For those of you living in Maharashtra, India here is the schedule for our new dance drama entilted, “Usha and Aniruddha.” Devotee actors from 11 different countries join the Sankya Dance group from Mumbai for a spectacular theatrical performance based on a pastime of the Lord from Srimad Bhagavatam. Highly cultural and very devotional. Don’t miss it!
22nd January 7.30pm – Ravindra Natya Mandir ( Mumbai )
25th January 10.45am – Savitribai phule auditorium (Dombivali, Mumbai)
1st February 10.45am – Dinanath Mangeshkar Natya griha (Vile parle, Mumbai )
6th February 7.30pm- Annabhau Sathe NatyaGruha (Pune)
For tickets please contact : Eesha 9769000859 or 9920024356
The day after tomorrow we begin a new adventure in presenting Krsna consciousness to the public: a single 90-minute dance drama from Srimad Bhagavatam. We have combined all the elements of our previous 5-hour stage show into the hour and a half production. We take shelter of Lord Nrsimha for a safe journey through the cities and towns of Maharashtra.
By popular demand we held two showings of ‘Usha and Aniruddha’ on the 1st day of our program in Mumbai; one in the morning for high school students and the other in the evening for a number of Mumbai’s elite personalities. A total of 1,200 guests. I only had time for a few photos, as I was busy overseeing the production.
Last night’s program in Mumbai was our biggest yet. Over 9,000 people sat transfixed for 90 minutes as our actors brought the pastime of Usa and Aniruddha from the pages of Srimad Bhagavatam to life. Srila Prabhupada, we do this all for you. Please give us your blessings!
I am in Mayapur to pay my respects and say goodbye to Manorupa dasi, the wife of Prahlada Nrsimha dasa and mother of Sri Nama Vanamali dasa and Sri Paramahamsa Gaura dasa. Manorupa has terminal cancer and only a few days to live. Her and her family have served for many years on our Festival of India summer tour in Poland. I told her today that she’s definately going back Home, back to Godhead because in this life she has been the perfect disciple of her guru maharaja, ( Jayapataka Swami ) the perfect wife of Prahlada Nrsimha prabhu and the perfect mother of two fine sons. She is peaceful, calm and fearless in the face of death. Such a wonderful example for us all. Please all of you send her your love and blessings!
Today I visited the Temple Of Vedic Planetarium ( TOVP ) here in Mayapura. Envisioned by Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur and now finally manifest by the strong desire of Srila Prabhupada it is gradually taking shape. I was amazed at the progress the management team, headed by Ambarisa das, Sadbhuja das and Bhavananda dasa have made in organizing the construction over the past year. Everything is on schedule and due to be completed in 2022. Ongoing funds are required. If you are interested in helping this most important project please contact: www.tovp.org.