Vraja Vilasini shares Ayurveda, Meditation & Yoga along with the Yogi lifestyle in a relaxed setting.
Pictures, quotes, kirtans, programs recipes & more...
Chanting Hare Krishna
The Maha or Great Mantra is the Hare Krishna Mantra.
In Sanskrit ‘Man’ means mind and ‘tra’ means to release or draw away. Chanting the holy names is called a mantra, or a vibration of sounds that cleanse the mind, allowing freedom from anxiety and illusion. This mantra may be chanted by anyone, no denomination is exempt. All religion, nationality, skin colour etc is unimportant. This mantra is to be chanted and shared with everyone. This is the greatest of all chanting to be spoken in this era for liberation.
“Hare Krishna Hare Krishna
Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama
Rama Rama Hare Hare”
Here is a link to Srila Prabhupada chanting this mantra - Maha Mantra
All living beings are part and parcel of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. By chanting His names, we bring ourselves into remembrance and satisfaction of peace in His names.
These names are from the Sanskrit language, which forms the base for all Indian languages.
Hare means all spiritual and all-pervading energy of the Supreme Lord. Krishna is the Supreme Lord who is all attractive. Rama means that the Lord is the source of all pleasure.
The Maha or great Mantra is chanted as a congregation known as sankirtan or individually on japa beads as a meditation. These beads are kept in their own bag to keep them clean & safe.
ISKCON Bhakti Centre at Surfers Paradise - Gold Coast
Starting with a family, who had a vision to start a preaching centre for local devotees, the congregation is now stronger than ever and Krishna Consciousness is alive and well on the Gold Coast.
Yamalarjuna Das and Suvarna Radhe Devi Dasi started with a dream to introduce music, dance, mantra meditation, kirtan, ancient spiritual wisdom and a free vegetarian meal; through an official ISKCON approved centre.
Everyone is welcome. You can inquire through their Facebook or contact Vraja Vilasini for more information.
Prasadam means 'mercy' and devotees use this term to describe foods offered to Krishna. Only sattvic foods may be offered, which are those foods in the mode of goodness. This includes meals prepared from milk products, fruits, vegetables, sugar, nuts and grains. He does not accept meals made from meat, fish, egss, process or rotten foods, or foods with too much spice or oil, He also does not accept onion or garlic as these cause disturbance to the mind.
~ Krishna explains in text 9.26 of the Bhagavad Gita that ~
"If one offers Me with love and devotion a leaf, a flower, a fruit or water, I will accept it."
We should use fresh, healthy ingredients, the best that we have to offer. A portion of each preparation is served in Krishna's personal dishes, along with water. A fresh tulsi leaf is placed on each preparation. Prayers are then offered to the Lord and left for 10 minutes for the pleasure of the Lord. The offered preparations are then returned to the original cooking pots to be mixed and distributed as Prasadam. All food should be cooked in a loving mood.
When the food is prepared for the pleasure of Krishna He accepts the love and devotion present in the offering
and removes all sins from it. The karma present in the food is therefore transformed into spiritual energy.
Kirtan is the call and response form of chanting, as seen in Srila Prabhupada's movement. They are devotional songs of the names and forms of the Lord and are an essential part of Bhakti-Yoga. These songs, called bhajans, have been written in traditional language and can be translated easily online or through your local preaching centre.
Bhakti-Yoga recommends kirtan as being an effective means for reminding and waking the soul of our spiritual nature and remembering the Lord. This practice brings us on our journey to the spiritual world. Caitanya Mahaprabhu brought kirtan to the people more than 500 years ago and is now seen in classes as well as on the streets around the world. It is incredible how 'normal' this practice has become in the western world.
Kirtan is a call and response song. The Kirtan Leader will sing a mantra and then the group responds. There is a reciprocation of the song through hearing and chanting of the Holy Names of The Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Instruments in kirtan include karatalas (small hand cymbals), mrdanga (drums), harmonium (think of a small piano with bellows), tambourines, guitars, anything you can think of...along with your best singing voices.
Some popular kirtan, with links:
A small talk from Srila Prabhupada on The Importance of Chanting
One very important point to remember, is that we do not need to be the best musician or singer, it is about our intention and love that we give in our chanting. I have heard some of the best kirtans offered that do not necessarily have the best singers or harmonium players for example. Once everyone starts singing and the room takes on the vibration, everyone quickly forgets if they can hold a tune or the thought of embarrassment.
It is really something special to see sankirtan in the streets. This is generally the same as kirtan above, but will be more public. Whereas kirtan is generally in a temple, preaching centre or a home program; sankirtan is in the streets, or in a mall. Remember hearing of the Hare Krishnas at the airport? That is sankirtan! Next time you see them chanting in the mall, join in. You will be amazed how many people come along to 'have a go' and love it.
Reading & Hearing
A. C. Bhaktivedanta Srila Prabhupada is the Founder-Acharya of the International Society of Krishna Consciousness or ISKCON. As part of his service, to his Spiritual Master and to us, Srila Prabhupada translated sacred Vedic texts, so that we may learn about Krishna. Without these translations, we would not have the opportunity to learn in the west.
As these are quite complex subject matter, it is most beneficial to hear from devotees, preferably a Spiritual Master. Understandably, this can be daunting to consider attending your first classes in a temple or preaching centre. That is what is so incredibly fortunate for us. Many of these classes are online or on audio, so that we can start to learn at home, to 'dip our toes in the water' and see what it is all about. It is also a good opportunity when you have more experience, to be able to listen along at home, either while reading with the recording, or while you are cooking or making garlands (flowers for your deities). Bhagavad Gita is a staple in your home library.
To start, I would recommend that you set an amount of time, or a number of texts that you would like to read each day. Some times, you may only read one text as you may like to research, meditate or think on the subject. I have some ideas that can help you to start your reading journey of Srila Prabhupada's books.
1. Find a place where you will not be disturbed. Tell your family that you would like this small amount of time to grow your spiritual practice. Or, perhaps they may like to read with you and you can discuss as a family.
2. I like to offer a small thank you or a prayer before reading. As an example, I may say,
"Dear Srila Prabhupada and Lord Krishna, Thank you for sending us this eternal wisdom. Please allow me the understanding so that I can learn from your teachings and share this with others."
3. Ensure your hands and any areas that the books touch are clean and tidy. These are sacred texts and it is respectful to treat them as the precious resources that they are.
4. No need to try to read and pronounce the Sanskrit text! Start with the a translation and then go on to read the purport. While you can choose any text to read, I find it beneficial to read in order.
5. Think about the text, what it means and how it relates to your life. You may like to write notes to think about later. You can also search for lectures or videos of Prabhupada who will provide more of an explanation.
6. Try your best to incorporate some of these teachings into your life. The stories can be quite inspiring and by applying just a little here and there, your life will change dramatically.
Have you heard of the statement by Jim Rohn:
'We are the average of the five people we spend the most time with'?
When we want to become a better version of ourselves, we spend time with people who reflect this, or do we? Sometimes we get caught up in the material world and forget this important lesson.
Am I associating with those who reflect whom I want to be? Your choice of friends should not be determined by who lives close by, whom you work with, or whom you go to school with. Choose your friends by really searching your soul and asking who you want to be. What kind of values do you hold? What faith do you want to adopt? You need to answer all of these questions before you commit to the company you choose to keep. You will need to know whom you want to be, as who you are in this life, will determine how you will return in the next.
If you want spiritual happiness, fulfillment, love of God, and more, your association is very important!
You will want to keep company with people with the same ideals, who are on the same path as you will help each other to grow in every way. Association with pure devotees who are self-realized will bring you to the path of liberation. I only associate with spiritually inspirational people, which may limit the amount to people in my life, but those that I choose to associate with are quality friends. Who do you spend your time with?
Lead By Example
We have all tried to be good during the week and muck around on weekends. We have all tried to diet during the day only to snack at night. What we should try to do is to practice what we preach and lead by example for our family and friends. You never know who is watching and who you may be inspiring.
What do we have in our homes? In our lives? Do they reflect your values? Your family books, games, puzzles, movies, the association you keep? Are they spiritually centered? Anything that does not align with your values only lends to pull you in the wrong direction. This is something that took me quite some time to understand. Just like association, what we do and what we have in our home reflects what we will do with our time. If you have trashy novels and bad movies in your home, you will watch and read them. There is no alternative right there to choose from.
Instead, start to purge that which no longer serves you. Give items away, donate or sell them, but let them go from your life and your home. Replace them with inspirational items. You could set up a small altar. You may choose to set up a library with cushions, throw rugs, and spiritual texts that you can read together or alone. Have some puzzles or games ready for when you need them and base them around your ideals and choose them as a family.
As an example, I went to a birthday party last year and we played charades, acting out pastimes from Krishna and His associates. I was amazed at what people could come up with on the spot, with no warning. It was such fun and we all spent time thinking of Krishna. This was an adult's party by the way! We also took turns in kirtan, told a small (family-friendly) joke, played pass-the-parcel, and told the birthday girl one thing each about why we love her. It honestly was the best party that I have ever been to and there was no alcohol or drugs in sight. We ended by sitting together and sharing some prasadam. Everyone had a great time and went home happy.
I encourage you to have a look around your home and see what you have that reflects your values.
It does not matter where you are, you can always pray. You may have a set time of day or a way you like to do things, but God is always listening. Srimad Bhagavatam 3.9.24 teaches us:
"Unless one is sufficiently protected by the Lord, he may fall down from his spiritual position; therefore one has to pray constantly to the Lord for protection and the blessing to carry out one’s duty. Lord Caitanya also entrusted His missionary work to His devotees and assured them of His protection against the onslaught of material affection. The path of spiritual life is stated in the Vedas to be like the edge of a sharpened razor. A little inattentiveness may at once create havoc and bloodshed, but one who is a completely surrendered soul, always seeking protection from the Lord in the discharge of his entrusted duties, has no fear of falling into material contamination."
We may pray for the safety of loved ones. We may pray for our family and friends to come to and stay in Krishna consciousness. Just today my prayers were for direction in devotional service. God is always listening.
If I could only review two books, these are the ones I would choose.
Firstly, 'Bhagavad Gita' is the most incredible book. Not only do you find yourself captivated in the story, but you will also learn about devotional loving service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead and how we can serve Him. I have read the 'Bhagavad Gita' countless times and I take something different each time I do. While studying in a group, we were asked to all put forward questions about each chapter. The most incredible thing that I found is that we all asked questions that were so very different and we all took such a vastly different lesson from each chapter.
The second book is 'You're Not That Body!' by Bir Krishna Goswami Das. This is the first teaching, to realize that we are not this body, which will change the way we think and live. You will find that this book not only teaches you valuable lessons but also provides references throughout, in case you want to do further research yourself. With a fresh perspective, 'You're Not That Body' will help you to understand this very important lesson.
Welcoming Krisna Into My Home
I met the devotees in 2008 and slowly I realized that Krishna was to be welcomed into my heart and home. While I was attending classes, kirtan, and associating with the devotees, I wanted to welcome Krishna into
my home so I could serve Him daily. How did I go about welcoming Krishna into my home?
Once I made the decision, I spoke with one of the senior devotees for some advice. I chose my deities for a number of reasons. Gaura and Nitai were perfect for me as they are less likely to take offense to a neophyte like myself and they have shown me mercy by allowing me to serve them. I was guided as to how to set up my small alter, taught how to offer to them daily and this has been the biggest blessing of my life. My altar now takes pride of place in our home.
My practice has expanded since then and I thank Gaura Nitai for reminding me daily to always remember Krishna and never forget Krishna. I perform daily altar worship. We sing kirtan to our deities. All meals are offered, becoming prasadam, or blessed food. You can experience this too. Want to know how? It can be simple to start.
Choose a clean place, that is not going to be disturbed. You could choose a cabinet, bookcase, or you can purchase an altar if this is what you really want. Choose your deities and some clothes as you will daily clean your alter and wash your deities. Then the rest is really preference. You may like to decorate with some pictures of Srila Prabhupada. You could add candles or incense. It is up to you how to make your altar beautiful for Krishna. There is no set formula for everything as this is about your personal relationship with the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
When you first become vegetarian, it can be hard to know what is healthy. Here is a quick and easy video to show you how to make Kasha. This is my Guru Maharaj cooking and the recipe is here.
Remember that by offering this food to Krishna, it becomes prasadam, or spiritualized and blessed food.
The Six Loving Exchanges
In this verse, Srila Rupa Goswami teaches us the six devotional activities to perform in the association of devotees.
1. Giving charity to the devotees
2. Accepting from the devotees whatever they may offer in return
3. Opening one's mind to the devotees
4. Inquiring from them about the confidential service of the Lord
5. Honoring prasadam, or spiritual food given by devotees
6. Feeding the devotees prasadam.
Even in ordinary social activities, these six types of dealings between two loving friends are absolutely necessary.
The life of the Krishna conscious society is nourished by these six types of loving exchanges. All people must be given the chance to associate with devotees, by reciprocating these six ways any person may revive their Krishna consciousness. From The Nectar of Instruction ~ Text Four purport.
Looking After Your Material Body
You may think that as long as we always think of Krishna, we do not need to worry about exercise or diet. There is nothing further from the truth. Our life of service means that we use this material body in the service of Krishna.
What if we don't look after this body, how will we serve? We should only eat prasadam, ensuring that healthy food is offered to the Lord before we take this. Our body also requires rest, not too much and not too little. Lastly, our body needs exercise. Make this something safe that you will enjoy so that you keep it going. You may choose walking, running, attending the gym or even surfing. By keeping our bodies healthy, we will have the ability to serve Him.
If you do not have service, please contact your local temple or preaching center. They will be very happy to give you service to your ability and there is nothing more satisfying than offering loving devotional service to the Lord.
How To Ask Krishna For Acceptance
"This is a simple method. All you have to do is bow down before Krishna with faith and say, 'My Lord Krishna, I was forgetful of You for so long, for so many lives. Now I have come to my consciousness; please accept me.' That's all. If one simply learns this technique and sincerely surrenders himself to the Lord, this path is immediately open."
Srila Prabhupada: Science of Self-Realization ~ Chapter seven.
What Does A Spiritual Master Want For His Disciple?
What does a Spiritual Master want For His Disciple?
Prabhupada : So far designation is concerned, the Spiritual Master authorizes everyone of his disciples. But it is up to the disciple to carry out the order, able to carry out or not. It is not that the Spiritual Master is partial, he designates one and rejects the other. He may do that. If the other is not qualified, he can do that.
But actually, his intention is not like that. He wants that each and every one of his disciples become as powerful as he is, or more than that. That is his desire. Just like a father wants every son to be as qualified or more than the father.
But it is up to the student or to the son to raise himself to that standard. If you are incapable of raising yourself to that standard of becoming a Spiritual Master, that is not your spiritual master's fault; that is your fault. He wants, just like Caitanya Mahaprabhu said, (Cc. Madhya 7.128), " By My order, every one of you become a guru ". Now if one can not carry out the order of Caitanya Mahaprabhu, then how he can become a guru? The first qualification is that he must be able to carry out the order of Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Then he becomes a guru. So carry out the order of Caitanya Mahaprabhu depends on one's personal capacity.
Ref. VedaBase - Room Conversation - June 29, 1972, San Diego
Krishna Is Compared To Sunshine
Krishna is compared to sunshine, and maya is compared to darkness.
Wherever there is sunshine, there cannot be darkness.
As soon as one takes to Krishna consciousness, the darkness of illusion
(the influence of the external energy) will immediately vanish. Hare Krishna.
How To Grow Your Devotional Service
His Holiness Bir Krishna Goswami gives us some insights on how we can grow our devotional service.
These are practical ways that we can all use. Hare Krishna.
How to grow your devotional service
The Ekadasi Guide
What is Ekadasi?
Ekadasi is a day of fasting that all devotees observe. Ekadasi means the eleventh day. There are two Ekadasi days each month. One is on the eleventh day after the new moon and one is on the eleventh day after the full moon.
Why should we fast on Ekadasi?
We do not observe Ekasadi just to fast, but rather to spend more time hearing and chanting about and for Krishna.
Srila Prabhupada recommends that we spend extra time with devotees on these sacred days and that we chant extra rounds of japa on Ekadasi days. If we can chant 32 rounds instead of 16, that would be ideal.
How do we fast on Ekadasi?
On Ekadasi, we fast from grains, beans, peas, and dahl. We break the fast the following day by taking prasadam that has been prepared with grains. There are specific times on the Vaishnava calendar to guide you to break the fast.
How To Focus Your Monkey Mind
The nature of the mind is like a monkey. How then, can we tame it?
His Holiness Radhanath Swami uses this analogy of the monkey mind to help us to understand the
nature of the mind and how we can focus our mind. Watch the video here.
The Importance of Wearing Tulasi Mala
Benefits of Wearing Tulasi mala:
1. Destroys greatest of sins (maha pataka samhantrim) Skanda Purana: HBV: 4.3182.
2. Sri Hari is always with you (deha sada Harih) Garuda Purana: HBV 4.3353.
3. Million times benefit from punya karmas, pitr or devata puja (pitrnam devata krtam koti gunam)
Garuda Purana: HBV: 4.3364.
4. Yamaraj and his dutas stay far away (preta raja dutakah drstva nashyanti durena) Garuda Purana: HBV: 4.3375.
5. Gives full protection from bad dreams, accidents, attacks by weapons, and the Yamadutas (duhsvapnam durnimittam bhayam shastrajam) Garuda Purana: HBV: 4.338.
Who Can Wear Tulasi Neckbeads?
The following authoritative quotes should put to rest all rumors, taboos, and speculations regarding this question. Bhagavan Sri Krishna Himself states that anyone can wear Tulasi kanthi mala. There are no restrictions! The wearing of Tulasi neck beads, (Tulasi kanthi mala) simply depends on one’s personal sense of allegiance to his beliefs, duty, or simply as a matter of inspiration if he/she wants to do so. Srila Sanatana Goswamipada calls this a taste or attraction to wear them, (yatha ruchi) HBV: 4.308.
In Vishnu Dharmottara, Bhagavan Sri Krishna says, “Without a doubt, anyone who wears Tulasi neck beads, even if he/she is unclean or of bad character, will surely attain Me.” (ashauco anacharo mam eva iti na samshaya) HBV: 4.322.
The following quote from a book titled, Associates of Sri Chaitanya, says that Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura gave Tulasi neck beads to a Calcutta industrialist who had neither diksha nor the most exemplary behavior: “Mr. S.K. Ghosh often visited Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura at his residence called “Bhakti Bhavana.” Under the direction of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, Mr. Ghosh started wearing a Tulasi mala around his neck, although he was not able to accept the principles of Vaishnava behavior in their entirety.”In addition, an Iskcon publication titled “Vaisnava Etiquette”, quoting Hari-bhakti Vilasa states: “The Padma Purana states regardless of whether one is an impure or pure state, one should always wear Tulasi mala. And one should never take it off even when bathing, eating or passing stool and urine.” In other words, Tulasi beads are always pure and purify anyone who contacts them.
Chanting Hare Krishna
"For one who has conquered the mind, the mind is the best of friends; but for one who has failed to do so, his mind will remain the greatest enemy." ~Bhagavad Gita 6.6