February 2006

The Kulimela website has been updated and now has more specifics on how the event will unfold Friday, June 16th to Sunday, June 18th in New Vrindaban, West Virginia. There will be pre-event workshops June 14th and 15th. Please see the website for more details.


Interestingly, this is not a New Vrindaban festival per se. It was conceived and organized by gurukulis themselves, who then approached New Vrindaban to host it. There are both on site lodgings available, and also links to find off site motels and cabins in the surrounding area.

A real trend to notice is that with the older gurukulis now entering their forties, the emphasis, while still on the reunion aspect, has shifted, most noticeable in the addition of a Kid’s Camp to the event schedule.

This event takes on personal significance for me as my two granddaughters, ages 2 and 6, will be coming in for a visit with their gurukuli parents. Three of my children are gurukulis so they are all coming. Two girls and a boy. One from Colorado, one from Atlanta, Georgia, and one from Columbus Ohio. In this day and age, with flat rate calling plans, we do keep in touch by phone; even the granddaughters usually have something to say. The youngest has grasped the concept of a phone, so vocabulary is the limiting factor. Still, it is nothing like a physical visit. Plus, Manjari is expecting her first child, who is due the end of June, so we will be hosting a baby shower at our house. That will be a family event occurring against the backdrop of the Kulimela.

Of my other two kids, both boys, the youngest will be here, home from college. Marken is in the US Navy, stationed in Italy, so it remains to be seen if he can make it.


I am in an email discussion group about Cow Protection. The following came though, and I have kindly been given permission to repost it on my blog. Lanbangalatika dasi is located in Raigan, India, where she and her husband have established the Govardhan Trust that gives life time protection to cows.

“It is said that troubles don’t come singly but in a battalion. Srila Prabhupada says we don’t pray for misfortune but still it comes so therefore we don’t need to pray for good fortune either. Whatever is due to us will come anyway. And in fact they are just the same good and bad…”


The first event last month was very auspicious at Makara Sankranti when the sun goes to the north and winter begins to get over and the demigods get up from their sleep, ( I believe?). Rosni, young Gir cow had her first calf in the middle of the night. She is a hot tempered aggressive red cow with big horns, I had given her pregnant mother to a very seemingly cow devotee Brahmin doctor neighbour at his request but brought her and calf back a year and half later as I was not satisfied with her care. (Maybe I will become a lizard in a well for taking back a gift to a brahmin) and the calf Rosni was bad tempered. I don’t know how the workers over there had treated her, and we tried our best to pacify her but she would always shake her head and want to butt, if tied, and when loose, charge!

The delivery was very fast and easy and we didn’t intervene except to push the calf back to his mother if he fell down away from his mother while trying to get to his feet as the cowshed floor is sloping a bit. We had put down straw and leaves for deep litter for comfort for them. I sat the rest of the night on a bundle of straw and watched them.

The calf drank his fill of colostrum all night and next couple of days and skipped about happily all over. In some places superstitious people don’t allow the calf to drink colostrum or even allow human babies to drink it from their mother’s breast. What deprivation and damage to health!! And wonders will never cease.

Madhu our cowherd milked out the excess and she didn’t kick at all. I thought we would never be able to milk this cow. She has become very mellow now. We bred her only because although our herd is big I do think every young cow four or five years old should be allowed to have a calf so her development becomes complete. Otherwise it is not fair. And the change in every cow after delivery is remarkable. They increase in size and become magnificent mothers and the calves of course will remain in our herd for lifetime protection.

Rosni is giving us abundant milk. The 3rd day however, blood appeared in the milk. Yikes! Luckily I practice homeopathy and the infallible remedy for this shocking phenomenon is IPECAC 30 and it worked right away and will work for anyone. (3
doses a day for 3 days,) This blood in milk is considered to be caused by ” Naza” or evil eye, nothing serious, just envy, which is there doubtless, and the remedy which we also performed is to burn 7 red chilies with salt near the cow shed after waving it around her.

We give 2 teats to the calf and milk 2 while he is drinking. In some goshallas they leave only one for the calf trying to squeeze maximum milk to fill demand. (Iskcon goshallas even) and the excuse is that the calf will get diarrhea. At times they may get as ours did a few days back, and then we let him have one teat and gave him a bottle of kanci or rice water and ayurvedic medicine. So now he is ok he gets 2 teats again. Of course with the western breeds one teat is quite sufficient for the calf but Indian breed calves should not be deprived like this.

At the same time our local vet asked me to take in an accident case, a calf hit by a vehicle and left outside the door of her office in Roha. The vet has set her broken foot in plaster. Her hip the other side they thought was also broken but she was eating ok but not able to stand. When I brought her home she had maggots in and around hr vagina and on her eyelid. We got rid of those quite fast as they had just begun.

An old cowherd man from a village quite far came and expertly set her dislocated hip right and put a hot iron brand to keep it there. It didn’t seem to bother her. The vet’s plaster was not ok.. The foot was swelling and blood coming out of a hole in it. So it had to be removed which was not easy and he pounded up the sticky bark of a tree, which later hardens, and spread it on a cloth and bound her broken foot with it and tied it up with bamboo splints leaving a big opening for the pus to drain from the deep sore inside and on which we put imli or tamarind powder from the dried bark and covered it over with nirgundi leaves and a light bandage. He made a stand for her with posts and ropes in the middle and a sack for comfort in which we make her stand supported for a few hours to encourage her to put her front feet down on the ground. Very slow progress. We massage her front legs with ayurvedic oil and then hot water. Plus trying homeopathic treatments. She gets to her knees and one now fixed back leg and turns herself over quite frequently but doesn’t get up on her perfectly good front feet. Otherwise she is very jolly and eats very well, for nearly a month now with us.

Then Govinda my Jersey ox, although the herd got vaccinated just 3 months back, got foot and mouth and hardly ate for 4 days except glricidia leaves, not even green grass. It was a mild case. And one more ox got it in his feet only and no more cases. I asked the vet and she said this vaccine covers only one strain of FMD, although she assured me at the time it covers 7 strains and she said that since in this state we have daily 8 hour power cuts the efficacy of the vaccine cannot be guaranteed as it has to be kept refrigerated. So there it is… Also FMD is rampant this year again in villages and their cattle come through our land to the river. We just can’t build a great wall all around and it wouldn’t work any more than will the US
plan to build a great wall across the Mexican border to keep out illegal immigrants. We live among the villages not in an ivory tower and have to face the same problems.

After recovering nicely from foot and mouth Govinda somehow or other got maggots in his ear, deep in the ear too. When he was scratching his ear and shaking his head I thought he had an ear infection and gave him the homeopathic remedy and put some hydrogen peroxide. He seemed to improve but next day on cleaning is ear we found them. This had to be the worst thing that could ever happen. He stopped eating completely and started drooling this thick sticky mucous. When I called the vet she told me to use this awful chemical called Butox , very poisonous but you can’t use turpentine oil in the ear and this stuff doesn’t sting. It has to be diluted so I put it in his ear with a plastic syringe. And we cleaned his ear and maggots came out and we put more Butox on a cotton to kill the rest down there.

But he wasn’t eating and he was rapidly weakening and our vet goes away every weekend to her home elsewhere and her helpers couldn’t do a proper job so I called a friend who used to be head of SPCA in Mumbai and she volunteered to keep him at her place 40 km away and let their local vet, who is very qualified take care of his ear. I took him there in a hired tempo and they took excellent care giving IV calcium and antibiotics etc and after a few days I brought him back, his ear thoroughly cleaned. He has a new life back from the brink. The transport cost a fortune and was difficult on these rough hilly roads.

To crown it all our dog bit a vet’s assistant here. He is vaccinated against rabies but still I had to pay the poor man’s doctor bill. I thought that was to crown it all but now I see there is no limit to adversity and I am bracing for the next crisis. But I am very thankful to Krsna that Govinda’s life got saved so timely.

ys Labangalatika dasi

Maybe death is like driving on a highway
and coming to a roadblock of blinding flashing lights
but your accelerator sticks and the brakes go soft
so you throw the vehicle into a sideways slide to stop.

The kind of stop you practiced on icy streets
in a small town with a small snow removal budget
so the streets were slick and there was nowhere to go,
nothing to do, with your freshly minted driver’s license.

A uniformed man with blank insignia
and blanker sunglasses suppresses a sneer
as he asks for your license and registration,
then takes them away without a word.

You try to explain but, over his shoulder,
he says open the hood and stay in the car.
So you wait until you smell gasoline
and get out and see a man with vacant eyes

sucking fuel from the disconnected
fuel line with a vacuum pump. Emptied,
you know you are powerless;
the twilight becomes noticeably darker.

Maybe death isn’t what you thought,
in a full sweat amid blurred action
with noise and suddenness and confusion,
then brief harsh pain and collapse in laced boots.

Instead, maybe death is endless visits to doctors
where blood work is ordered, ultrasound,
CAT scan, MRI, biopsy and in a flash
most of your yearly income vanishes.

Knowing that the stack of really cool T shirts
that’s been growing in your closet for years,
saved for special days and occasions,
is what you’ll be wearing every day now.

(This has been floating around the internet for years, but with the recent discussion of pizza (metaphorically) at the GBC meeting, I thought I’d put it up for those who are interested in pizza literally and may not have heard it yet.)

The Glories of Pizza Prasadam

by Lasagne dasa Vanapasta

“Offering gifts in charity, accepting charitable gifts, revealing one’s mind in confidence, inquiring confidentially, accepting prasada and offering prasada are the six symptoms of love shared by one devotee and another.”

Upadesamrita Verse 4

Here are some guidelines for the cooking and honoring of pizza feasts. The ten offenses to be avoided against Pizza Prasadam.

1. To compromise with ingredients because of health or financial considerations, i.e. any olive oils other than extra virgin, other
cheeses then mozzarella or paneer, cheap olives.

2. To commit rasa bhasa or other deviations, like mixing Italian with Indian or other styles; stick to the classical recipes (from la mamma, la nonna, Kurma is ok too).

3. To serve thick crusts, subji toppings, cold or reheated Pizzas.

4. To cook and offer the Pizza to Krishna without AMORE, knowing well that He is the true enjoyer of everything.

5. To preach the glories of Pizza prasadam to the faithless.

6. To have been invited to a Pizza feast and to have eaten before it, thus not being sufficiently hungry to properly honor the

7. To habitually cook Pizza for yourself without wanting to relish the mellows with others, thus not taking advantage of the superexcellent opportunity to uniquely enhance loving exchanges amongst devotees.

8. To stash Pizza for yourself while serving it, or to hope that those you are serving will not eat too much, so that you can enjoy more afterwards.

9. To fail to cook Pizza prasadam for the devotees on occasions when; it is obviously appropriate and auspicious to do so.

10. To serve Pizza without a good salad, some pasta or soup, or without a drink (i.e. lemon or pure grape juice) and sweet.

One who avoids the above offenses will be able to relish ever increasing varieties and quantities of Pizza throughout his life, in spite of the otherwise limiting factors of old age, disease, and high cholesterol.

From “Glimpsing the Divine Through Sports”:

“My teammates and I had just finished cranking out a 9,000-yard workout in the pool… when we heard the official news: the United States would boycott the 1980 Summer Olympic Games in Moscow. We were not going.

I was 19 years old and nearing the top of my swimming career. Though the news of our government’s decision wasn’t a total surprise–rumors had been rampant for months–the finality hit hard. For eight years, I’d spent four hours daily in the pool, run miles upon miles, lifted hundreds of pounds of weights-and endured tortures that would get a coach fired for cruelty today. Yet my future came down to events out of my control. Remember, in 1980 there was no money to be made in competitive swimming, no X-Games, no endorsements. Going to the Olympic Games was the ultimate goal.

I had to search deeply to make sense of it all. For some swimmers, it was too difficult to comprehend, and they took a hiatus from the sport. For me, the boycott became a catalyst for my spiritual quest. I had to find higher meaning in sport itself-not just in the competition and glory. Prior to this, I never gave it much thought beyond the recognition and fun I had with my friends…”

“In that moment, I realized there is a divine spark that can be harnessed and drawn from. I think this is what most highly accomplished athletes feel–strength through grace, the divine through the physical… “

Today was another waiting room day. Gray industrial carpet, metal frame chairs with easy to clean light cushions, ivory white semi matte paint on the walls. Windowless. Signing in on a clipboard with a list of names, the ones at the top crossed out, then sitting and waiting to be called. The local newspaper spread out on a low table covering some outdated magazines. A TV set tuned in to Regis and Kathy Lee, conversing insipidly about nothing.

Patients come out the door from the exam rooms, avoiding eye contact, handing paperwork to the receptionist, getting lab orders and little appointment cards to take home with them and they leave. New patients walk in and sign the clipboard and sit.

Finally getting called to an exam room, going through weigh in, blood pressure, temperature, and heart rate, all the vitals with the nurse. After not really seeing a doctor for almost 30 years, this routine has become too familiar. I shift the weights on the balance beam of the scale myself because I can do it faster than most nurses. She leaves and more waiting for yet another doctor in a long string of doctors. At least this guy is new to me so I can have a little fun with him while bringing him up to speed, recycle some anecdotes from previous appointments.

He does his thing, and now I am standing in front of the receptionist getting my lab order and appointment card, giving her some pages from previous lab tests ordered by other doctors to copy for my new file here.

I turn to leave and hear a slightly hoarse voice, soft but confident, and turn to look at an old guy, older than I have any realistic expectation of ever being. He is saying, “Nice coat.” I have never seen him before. He is sitting in the same chair I sat in when I came in, his eyes full of life.

I stop and look at him, perhaps a bit too jadedly. Smiling, he repeats himself, “Nice coat”. Well, it is a nice coat. It’s a plush fabric winter one, black, with what looks like snow on it until you realize it’s a picture of a wolf looking directly at you when you see it from the back.

“My daughter gave it to me,” I say. “She travels around a lot so she sees things I never would “. He seems genuinely pleased to hear this so I continue, “My wife has one like it, except the white and black colors are reversed.” I pause for a moment, we exchange nods, and I leave, wondering who was seeing Krishna more clearly in that brief blip in time, him or me. I conclude that it wasn’t even a contest, he was so much more in tune, so much more in harmony than I was, so much in the moment. I will probably never know what name he calls Krishna, but I have no doubt he knows Him.

I guess never say never but ethical and moral qualms about the corporate culture that produces fast foods generally keep me from ever eating at those places, even the vegetarian foods. Not to say I never have or never will, but it’s been a long time and no visits in the foreseeable future. I can imagine circumstances when I am away from home and pressed for time that I might go and get a baked potato or something. Still, these days, traveling has pretty much become a relic of my past, so no need. I can always make it home and have some kitcherie or a sandwich or whatever.

Even when I was in the hospital last spring, my wife was smuggling in healthy foodstuffs, and when I used to travel, I would take some dried fruit and nuts along to at least get the day off to a healthy start.

Besides the corporate cultural issues, there are also the health issues. Even the shakes are nothing but a concoction of chemicals, the salad dressings are loaded with fat, etc. The following is a link to another angle that even I hadn’t thought of.

Fast-Food Ice Dirtier Than Toilet Water:

“Jasmine Roberts never expected her award-winning middle school science project to get so much attention. But the project produced some disturbing results: 70 percent of the time, ice from fast food restaurants was dirtier than toilet water…”

“It doesn’t matter if things are going a little slow; but make everything slow but sure. That is a good principle. To do things hastily and incorrectly is not good. There is a proverb in Bengali sabure mawaphale. This means that all valuable nuts like almonds, macadamias, walnuts, coconuts, etc. all take a long time to fructify. Anything valuable takes a little time to come into existence. Therefore there is no harm in waiting for the best thing. But everything is well that ends well: That should be the principle…”

Letter to: Syamasundara — Los Angeles 15 July, 1969

A couple of quotes from an article about health benefits of almonds:

“A one-ounce handful of almonds offers heart-healthy monounsaturated fat, the antioxidant vitamin E, protein, fiber, magnesium, potassium, calcium, phosphorous and iron, all in 160 calories. In addition to their nutrition, almonds can play a role in heart health and weight maintenance… ”

“A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition last February showed that the same heart-healthy dietary approach including almonds, the Portfolio Eating Plan, was just as effective as first-generation statins in lowering LDL cholesterol below the recommended range for heart disease prevention. The study directly compared statins and the dietary approach for one month…”

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