July 2006

Here is a picture of me dancing. It was in a get well card from Pavitra and Meghamala. Pavitra is a photographer who has a lot of old photos. I have been threatening to write about dancing, and here is photographic proof I have danced. It is taken in the current Sri Sri Radha Vrindavan Candra temple. They moved there in the summer of 1983. Chedirajah is in the picture and he left his body in late 1985, so that dates the picture.

The guy in white with the mrdanga is Premarnava, so the baby would be Abhay. I am the other guy in white. Behind me, head showing, is Kumar. To the right is Chedirajah with both arms raised. Behind him is Garga Rsi, head shot, and in front of Chedi is Radha Gopinath. Now, trust me on this – between Chedi and Radha is Candramauli. How, you might ask, would I be able to tell that when we can’t see his head? Do I remember this exact instant in a kirtan that happened two decades ago? Had I meditated on those feet? No, but I do remember styles, and that is him. He had a distinctive dance style of bringing his nonsupporting foot up behind him. No one else did that. There is also the Hari Nama chadder. He commonly wore one. In case you were wondering, yes, THAT Candramauli.

Chedi left his body on traveling sankirtan. He was sleeping in a van in cold weather, and the supplemental heater malfunctioned. He died of carbon monoxide poisoning. The heater then went out and they froze. Gavum Guru’s brother, Mathura, also left the planet. His body rolled onto Kevala, who lived because it insulated him. They were on the benches in the van, and Kevala was on the floor. The warm carbon monoxide rose in the van, so he survived that. He did lose some musculature in his legs to frostbite, but was able to walk, with some difficulty, once he recovered. This was a blow to everyone in New Vrindavan.

Chedi was sort of the Visnujana of NV. The Adi-Hari Bol Bliss Boy, famous for his love of kirtans. He was a disciple of Srila Prahbupada originally from Buffalo.

Note my positioning in the photo. If you try to stand like that, you will fall over. One way to compensate for the unbalance is to bend your torso over the supporting foot, as the brahmacari to my right is doing. To avoid that, the knees and ankles have to be compressing while landing, and then, at the last possible moment, before falling over, uncoil into a leap. Once the supporting foot is off the ground, throw your legs in the other direction. It is a dynamic pose, not attainable statically. Yoga of motion.


Here are some dahlias and sunflowers. You can find better pictures of dahlias on the web. My wife set out the dahlias, but the sunflowers were volunteers. While we were still doing the market garden thing, we used to grow a lot of ornamental sunflowers, which we sold for $1 US a stem. It was a good seller for us, and the bees loved it. If we had extra, we would let them go to seed and the birds would eat them in the winter.

Seeing the seedling sunflowers in the dahlias, I would have pulled them as weeds, but Vidya wanted to leave them, so they stayed. I thought it made the bed too crowded, which would cause all the plants to suffer, but we had abundant rainfall in the first part of the season, so it worked out okay. As the taller of the dahlias were yellow, the effect in bloom is eye catching, as it seems like the dahlias merge into the sunflowers.

My wife has been pushing the temple for years to grow a lot of dahlias, but the gardener there is vegetable centric and has resisted it. The pluses are that dahlias bloom for a long period of time, are long lasting as cut flowers, come in a wide variety of colors, from reds to purples to yellow to white, and all sizes. They are good for garlands and vase flowers. One negative is that they are tender bulbs, which means in colder climates they have to be lifted in the fall and stored in a root cellar. We have such a cellar, and have offered the temple its use if they get into a larger scale. On the other hand, they don’t need to be started in a greenhouse. Another drawback is initial cost. Some of the varieties can be very expensive. Every year though, they multiply by 3 or more. In a few years populations can build up geometrically and you will be giving them away. Or selling them. They do require some special care. Disbudding is needed if large size is desired, but not necessary, especially if used for garlands.

A mind all logic is like a knife all blade.
It makes the hand bleed that uses it

Rabindranath Tagore


In a sense, an anniversary is a pretty arbitrary thing. In and of itself, it has no intrinsic value, but it serves as an occasion for looking back, for remembering. Sometimes it is an objective remembrance, but often it is a time of reflection, of seeing a past event in a larger context, less restricted by the passions and limitations of its moment. Thinking the why, not just the what, of an event.

Last Tuesday was the 8th week anniversary of my liver transplant. Tomorrow will be the 2 month anniversary. It’s a big difference talking months instead of weeks. It seems more a part of the past. Yesterday I drove to UPMC for my bi-weekly checkup. Yes, that’s right, I drove myself to the clinic, just short of a 2 hour one way trip. Previously, someone had driven me. After 6 weeks I was medically cleared to drive, and was making some short trips, but didn’t trust my energy to make the round trip to Pittsburgh. In an emergency, I would have, but didn’t have to so didn’t. It was liberating to be able to go by myself, and not tie up someone else. I may not be contributing much yet, but at least I can minimize being a negative drag on those around me.

Met a guy who was 3 years out in for a yearly checkup. I met a little girl about Gracie’s age, 2 and ½, who was in for her 1-year checkup, after getting a part of her dad’s liver. There was another conversation about contacting a cadaveric donor’s family, and how emotionally complex that is. It was academic to me, having had a living donor, but interesting to hear. Meet a woman whose daughter died in April from a chronic disease. She thought she was also losing her husband until his transplant the end of May. He lived, the daughter died; it is all in Krishna’s hands.

After I posted my one year anniversary blurb for my blog, I noticed that Sitapati had his 2 year blog anniversary the same day. Since he was the original inspiration to start mine, I thought that was serendipitous. (Disclaimer: Such inspiration was unknown to him, so he has no karmic debt incurred for any mistakes or nonsense I write.) Of course, that is based on the sun calendar of 52 weeks, not the Vedic moon based calendar. I am not up enough to know if we would have hit the same day on a moon calendar, but it might not. You can never find a Vedic astronomer when you need one. It does serve as an example of the arbitrariness of anniversaries – it is a different day if you use the moon calendar or the sun calendar of the ugrkarmis.

My brother visited from North Dakota earlier this summer with his wife and two daughters. My daughter Vraja, her daughter Gracie, my son Tulasi, my wife and myself accompanied them on a tour of the Temple/Palace area of New Vrindavan.

When we passed through the Rose Garden, the girls noticed there were coins in the fountain. They seized on this with zeal. Quickly, all our pockets were emptied and we were unable to stem the pleas for more. Uncle Tulasi came to the rescue. He went to the car and got the ashtray, which was stuffed with pennies. As is typical of devotees, no one using the car smoked, and the ashtray had turned into a coin collector.

This ashtray was stuffed, so Uncle Tulasi started taking out the pennies and giving them to the girls. The funny thing was that as fast as he would hand one girl a penny, she would whirl and heave it into the fountain. Practically before it sank to the bottom, she would spin back around and put out her hand for another. All three of them were doing it in turn. Because there were so many pennies, it went on for quite a while. Coins were flying and, inexorably, hands were raised for more. It was quite amusing, better than anything showing on TV at that moment.

Tulasi is good with kids and they naturally take to him. Somehow or other he always seems to keep them hopping. This is a great relief to the older, less energetic members of the family who can get exhausted trying to keep the wee ones engaged and safe. The adults actually had some time to discuss various topics and catch up on family news.

Girls on asana in rose garden

Like a wall, the body constantly threatens collapse.
A pity, really, the world still buzzes on.
Trust that Mind equals No-Mind, has no substance:
Let it come and go, appear and vanish.
What do we have to lose?

“With deep arrogance I took myself to be the body, which is a material object like a pot or a wall. Thinking myself a god among men, I traveled the earth surrounded by my charioteers, elephants, cavalry, foot soldiers and generals, disregarding You in my deluding pride.”

SB 10.51.48

me in vine covered house

“Just like here the nature is working in that way. You build a very nice house. Gradually, the nature’s course is it will become old and you’ll fall down. This is the way of nature here. You cannot keep anything fresh always.”

Bhagavad-gita 7.2 — San Francisco, September 11, 1968

It’s not a big celebration! There are no festivities to mark the occasion, and it is an unimportant event in all timelines. It has little personal significance. It isn’t even worth the time it took to scribble these lines. Okay, “scribbling” is an anachronism, granted. It isn’t even worth the time it took to type these lines. The problem with saying “typing” is it makes it sound more important than it is. Maybe “pecking” would be the modern equivalent of “scribbling”. It isn’t even worth the time it took to peck these lines. In any case, is the point being made? No reason to have mentioned this particular day except in regards to this blog.

Nonetheless, it is the One Year Anniversary of my first post. Way back then, was spending most of my time on a couch, a useless waste of skin with little prospects. To foster some semblance of self worth, some illusion of contributing, I took up blogging. Little idea of what blogging really was, and no expectation that anyone would read it. Maybe some sentimentalist after my memorial and ash spreading would be curious and think, “Who was that guy I had to sit through all that about just to eat the free meal at the reception?” So I tried to put down some thoughts I had paid some prices for in order to have. Something to be read after I was ashed and trashed.

Never thought it would be active after a year, so put all the good stuff out fairly quickly. In the first months I sprinkled in what might have been my last thoughts. I was assuming I would eventually not be lucid enough to write anything. Of course, some would say I have achieved that goal, and prove it everyday. They are probably right, but somehow it has become a habit, a reason to wake up in the morning, so I keep at it.

I am planning to keep blogging for a while. I am assuming that at some point I will be able to do menial labor again and revert to my constitutional position, but in the meantime it gives me a sense I am doing some service. I am not trying to compete with the mainstream ISKCON writing tradition. There are so many competent writers doing that so well, I would only be adding mediocre clutter. I assume my readers are already getting the broad strokes from those more qualified sources. I am simply trying to add a little color to one small corner of the picture.

Like a sand painting, here for a moment, then gone with the winds of change. As I write this, if you go to Google.com, click “more”, then click “finance”, then type UPS and click search, you get the financials for United Parcel Service, famous for their brown trucks. Scroll down a bit to Blogs and there, at the top of the heap, is a link to my “Tour de America” post where I cited an article about fuel savings at UPS. This is the address you will get to:


As most will probably not read this timely, I took a Print Screen of the page. I think it is funny.

shilouette by barb wire scars

“Let me therefore offer my respectful obeisances unto the Lord, who has become the son of Vasudeva, the pleasure of Devaki, the boy of Nanda and the other cowherd men of Vrndavana, and the enlivener of the cows and the senses.”

Srimad Bhagvatam 1.8.21

From this photo you can tell I am in the shade on a sunny day. I am alive, standing next to a tree that bears the scars of having been a post in a fenceline.

You can’t tell my name, my age, or the days of my birth and death. You won’t know who my mother and father are, nor who or how many are my brothers and sisters. You can’t tell if I lived most of my life on concrete or on dirt. My scars, if I have any, are unseen by you, and their origin will be unknown. I may have seen great sadhus, or abusers; have been herded by someone who cared, or someone who didn’t.

Do you know any of my kind? Have you ever had dung on your shoes from coming to feed them? Known the names of any of my herd or other herds? Are we a concept or memory for you? Have you drank the milk of my sisters or of some other herd? Do you know where that herd is, and how those mothers will die?

Will you again drink milk, partake of products made of milk? Will that milk be a commodity subsidized by the blood flowing in a slaughterhouse? Or will it be made an opulence, by subsidizing with your time or money, so one of us might have the association of devotees?

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