March 2008


From: Boomerang returns, even in space

“In an unprecedented experiment, a Japanese astronaut has thrown a boomerang in space and confirmed it flies back, much like on Earth.

“Astronaut Takao Doi “threw a boomerang and saw it come back” during his free time on March 18 at the International Space Station (ISS), a spokeswoman at the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency said.

“Mr Doi threw the boomerang after a request from compatriot Yasuhiro Togai, a world boomerang champion.

” ‘I was very surprised and moved to see that it flew the same way it does on Earth,’ the Mainichi Shimbun daily quoted the 53-year-old astronaut as telling his wife in a chat from space…”

What does this have to do with anything? Nothing, really, just a cool thing and a segue to return to yesterday’s topic. Of course, I could stretch it and say that the nature of the soul is that it has a tendency to return Home, Back To Godhead, unless acted upon by an outside force, just as a boomerang returns to the place it was thrown from (“no fall” of the jiva guys beware — if you dispute this I will ignore you).

” The Vedic wisdom guides us to understanding our relation with the Supreme Lord Sri Krsna and to acting accordingly in order to achieve the desired result of returning home, back to Godhead.”

SB 2.2.27

My returning to yesterday’s topic is less glorious.

The lap I skated brought back a lot of memories, as on the interior of the path are multiple soccer fields where I used to coach when my youngest boys were growing up. I coached for ten years, many of them on those very fields.

When Tulasi was playing high school soccer one year, the kids would go down there and run laps for conditioning. On some occasions, I would go with him and skate along. This was before the End Stage Liver Disease really dominated my life so I still had some juice.

Tulasi and another kid were the fastest and best conditioned athletes on the team so they would run ahead of everyone else. With the skates I was able to keep up with them and would play the role of  irritating personal trainer exhorting them on. Seems impossible to think of it today, but it actually happened.

I was at the Team Pittsburgh meeting on Saturday. There are 49 teams competing in the Transplant Games. One of the topics covered was fund raising. The games cost money themselves, but they are a fundraiser for the National Kidney Foundation. The proceeds are used to raise awareness about organ donation. Part of the games are events honoring living donors and the families of deceased donors.

I set up a fund raising page for the Games and if any of you are so moved, you can donate through that page. This is good thing in my opinion and benefits many people. Who knows, someday it could be you or one of your family or friends, so please consider donating.

Help me raise funds for raising awareness about organ donation by clicking here.

Meanwhile, the weather is warming so I better get to getting in shape.


I have officially signed up as an athlete for the 2008 Transplant Games. I, in theory, am competing in the 800 meter (1/2 mile) run, the 5K (3 mile) run and a 20 K (12.5 mile) bike race.

Training goes slowly, as the weather here continues to be well below normal and when it does get warm, it rains, so I have lots of excuses on any given day to not go out and walk. I can walk 5 K without taking a break. This happens to be the distance from my house to the temple. I have even lightly jogged a few hundred meters in total of the distance in 10 -30 meter chunks, but have a long way to go.

At this point, even an 800 meter would be a walk/trot deal. Sprinting still seems unattainable, but hopefully I will get better.

Vidya goes into a heated pool every day and swims a mile and a half (2.3 meters). I rode in with her and went over to the 12th Street Park. There is a paved loop around it about 1.3 miles (2 K) long. I put on my skates on and took a lap.

Normally, when I used to think about those things, I would consider that I would have to skate three miles to get the equivalent of a one mile run. However, the problem is that while I can vary a walk to any speed, skating by its nature requires a higher amount of minimum energy. Hence, after one lap I was huffing and puffing and heart was racing so I quit after that.

The other problem is that when I skate regularly, I develop callouses on the upper side of my smaller toes. As this was the first time I had strapped them on and skated in years, I should have taped them but neglected to so by the end of one lap I could tell I was raising a blister.

I wanted to test out the skates as my wife has updated my gourd costume and, after a hiatus of several years, Gourdman is returning to a gourd show. I skate around and clown it up as a mascot at those shows, but due to health had not done so for a while. We are going to the Indiana Gourd Show next weekend in South Bend, Indiana, so I wanted to see if I still had any balance left. I did. I may not be able to do any aerials or fancy skating (that takes regular practice), but basic movement is still there and that is sufficient for the purposes of sporting the costume.

If you want to visit Vidya at the show, click the link above to the show for all information, including the “Maps” section to find it (bigger maps here). I will only be there Friday morning as my aunt is coming to pick me up for a visit in Chicago. I ‘ll be back on Sunday. I don’t have the stamina to pull off being the show mascot for the whole weekend this time around. Next year.

Actually, if anyone is Chicago wants to visit the show Sunday, you could give me a ride back.

I am collecting old copies of Brijabasi Spirit from when it was a hard copy publication. I am posting this to my blog so if I am at someone’s house and they have some to share, I can look up what I have already to see what they may have that I need.

There are some inconsistencies in the numbering of the old BSs, but in some cases it is obvious the collection is incomplete even though publication was sporadic at times, and nonexistent at others. There are even a few that are unnumbered and undated, but by context I was able to get a fix on them.

If you have any that aren’t on this list, please let me know.

We are republishing some of the old articles on


Vol. III, 9, Sept
Vol. III, 10


Vol. V, I; Jan
Vol. V, IV; July
Vol. V, 5; Aug


Vol. 6, 1; Jan
Vol. 6, 2; Feb
Vol. 6, 3; March
Vol. 6, 4; April
Vol. 6, 5; May
Vol. 6, 6; Sept.
Vol VI, 7; Nov


Vol. 7, 1; April
Vol. 7, 2; May


Vol II, II; Feb (?)
Vol 2, 3
Vol. IX, IV; Aug
Welcome to Prabhupada’s Festival 1982
Vol. IX, 7; Dec


Vol. X, IV
Vol. X, V
Vol. X, VI


April 12
April 24
March 9
March 24
May 7
May 13
June (Between June 13+ July 1 Nrshimhadev cover)
June (undated, Hladini cover, date penciled in)
July (undated, Temple of Understanding cover. has part 2 of an article in Hladini cover)
Aug 20
Aug 27
Aug 28
Sep 30
Oct 19
Oct 21
Nov 20
Dec 4

Because the eye has a short shadow or
it is hard to see over heads in the crowd?

If everyone else seems smarter
but you need your own secret?

If mystery was never your friend?

If one way could satisfy
the infinite heart of the heavens?

If you liked the king on his golden throne
more than the villagers carrying baskets of lemons?

If you wanted to be sure
his guards would admit you to the party?

…………..The boy with the broken pencil
………….. scrapes his little knife against the lead
………….. turning and turning it as a point
………….. emerges from the wood again

………….. If he would believe his life is like that
………….. he would not follow his father into war

Did you ever notice how much of the social dialog in ISKCON revolves around the role of women? There is always some misogynist who, unable to garner the respect of women via his own prowess, uses the guise of “implementing varnashram” to advocate for a social system where women will have to respect him out of an enforced duty.

This has been going on for decades and has tarnished the concept of varna ashram with a yucky factor that will take a generation or more to be shed of. Meanwhile, for the vast majority of Hare Krishna chanters, this debacle of a debate has turned the International Society for Krishna Consciousness into the Irrelevant Society for Krishna Consciousness, a society based on a selective reading of scripture and theoretical ideas that bear little relevance to most devotees’ daily lives.

Think about it, when was the last time you heard an interesting or realistic discussion of how to deal with your children in an ISKCON based setting?

So, although it goes against the politically correct limits on what is discussed by devotees on the internet, here are some tips on child rearing in today’s society (click through to the whole article to see all the purports(from someone outside of ISKCON, due to the dearth of material on real world child rearing within ISKCON))

25 Ways to Simplify Your Life with Kids

Anyone who has kids knows that any life with kids is going to be complicated, at least to some degree. From extra laundry to bathing and cooking and shopping and driving and school and chores and crises and sports and dance and toys and tantrums, there is no shortage of complications.

You won’t get to ultra-simple if your life includes children … but you can find ways to simplify, no matter how many kids you have.

Take my life, for example: I have a house full of kids, and yet I’ve found ways to streamline my life, to find peace and happiness among the chaos. How is this magic trick accomplished? Nothing magical, actually, but just little things that have simplified my life over the years.

The main magic trick, however: making my family my top priority, and choosing only a small number of priorities in my life. If you have too many things you want to do, or need to do, your life will become complicated. But if you choose just a few things that are important to you, you can eliminate the rest, and simplify your life greatly.

What follows is a list that might seem complicated to some — 25 items! Trust me, I could easily double this list, but I don’t want to overwhelm you. Instead of trying to tackle everything on this list at once, choose a few things that appeal to you, and give them a try. Bookmark this page and come back to it from time to time to try out other ideas. Best yet, they might inspire new ideas of your own!

  1. Self-sufficiency. This one tip could simplify your life greatly, over time. However, it will make things more complicated in the short term. The idea is to teach your kids to do things for themselves as they get older and more capable…
  2. One calendar
  3. Toy bins
  4. Regular cleanups
  5. Quiet bedtime routines. Kids thrive on routine, and no routine is better than the one before they go to sleep. Have a regular routine before bed…
  6. Prep the night before
  7. Don’t schedule too much
  8. Have dedicated family times
  9. Simple clothing
  10. Always prep early. I try to make it a point to look at the schedule in advance (usually the day before) to see what’s coming up…
  11. Always bring snacks
  12. Baby wipes and emergency kit
  13. Pack spare clothes
  14. Create weekly routines
  15. Communicate as a family
  16. Go on dates
  17. Create alone time for your spouse
  18. Let things go sometimes. I’m not always good at this, but it’s something I work on constantly: don’t always be so strict. Let things go…
  19. Make decluttering a family event
  20. Spend quiet time at home
  21. Create traditions. Kids love traditions, from holiday traditions to family traditions…
  22. Make cooking and cleaning a family thing
  23. Reduce commitments
  24. Get active. These days, kids can become very inactive (and unhealthy) with all the TV, Internet and video games they consume. Get them active by going outside with them and taking walks, going for swims, playing sports. My family likes to play soccer or kickball…
  25. Focus on doing, not on spending. Too often we send messages to our kids about how to live life, based on what we do: we like to go shopping, and eat out, and go to the movies, and so our kids learn that having fun means spending money. We focus on material things, and therefore so do they. Instead, teach them (by talking but also by your actions) that what’s important is doing stuff, not buying stuff. Go for walks in the park, play outdoors, play board games, read, tell stories, play charades, cook and clean, go to the beach or lake, build stuff, wash the car. Spend quality time together, doing stuff that doesn’t cost money.


(From Brijabasi Spirit 1981 Vol. II, #2)

Sunny July day, blue sky, pleasant breeze. On a shaded lawn, Srila Prabhupada sat on a large teak-wood asana, relaxed, alternately chanting and answering questions Looking around, he saw a field of golden wheat. “This wheat needs rain?” he inquired. “No, Srila Prabhupada,” I answered, “it only needs sun. When it was growing in the spring, there was no rain for a month.” “Yes,” Srila Prabhupada continued, “without rain, there can be no grain.”

In America, only 2.5% of the people are di­rectly engaged in production of foodstuffs. The schools that Americans attend give little prac­tical instruction on food production. As a result, most Americans are uninformed and generally unaware of what is involved. Thus, when Srila Prabhupada asked about the wheat, I was amaz­ed at his interest!

The wheat was physiologically mature, and we were just waiting for it to dry in order to har­vest it; all it required was sunshine. Immediat­ely I realized what Srila Prabhupada meant. This particular crop was not very good. Not only was Srila Prabhupada recognizing that the crop was wheat, but he knew it was a poor crop. As I was accustomed to dealing with people un­acquainted with agricultural matters, this was surprising. Srila Prabhupada was obviously not an ordinary man.

Actually, I shouldn’t have been surprised. One of the reasons I was originally attracted to the Krishna conscious philosophy was that it was replete with examples found in nature, as opposed to most philosophical systems which are rather dry expositions crouched in technical terms, and tedious logical progressions.

Everywhere in Srila Prabhupada’s books, he elucidates his points with examples drawn from real life, showing not only deep philosophical understanding, but a keen observation of natur­al phenomenon. After all, nature itself is ar­ranged under Krishna’s direction, and certainly anyone who has even a slight appreciation of the complex inter-relationships manifest in nature must be awed by the intelligence required to or­ganize it. Agrarian people are generally theists, while atheism flourishes in the urban environ­ment.

Once, Srila Prabhupada was sitting under­neath a maple tree in the lawn of the grey house, just below the Palace. He was sitting with his back to the tree, facing away from the road, and occasionally a car would pass by or a jet would fly by, far overhead, but most of the sounds were those of nature, and an occasional ex­change between a few disciples and himself.

Slowly, we became aware of a creaking sound gradually approaching.

“Oh, what is this?” said Prabhupada, as he turned around to see.

It was Yudhisthira coming up the road with some yearling oxen, pulling a cart. Prabhupada watched with interest as they approached.

Yudhisthira was leading the oxen with a bat­ter. When he saw Prabhupada he drove close by, stopped his team by shouting a loud “who-aaa!”, and then with a more reverential voice he half-shouted: Jaya Srila Prabhupada! Jaya Gurudeva!

Srila Prabhupada looked at the oxen very ser­iously and asked, “Why don’t they have nose rings?” Yudhisthira blushed. “I didn’t want to hurt them Srila Prabhupada.”

“They should have nose rings. Oxen are con­trolled by the nose. Horses are controlled by the mouth,” Srila Prabhupada said to my amaze­ment.

I was used to thinking of great scholars as hid­den amongst piles of papers and books, but to hear Srila Prabhupada talk even about simple things gave me a great appreciation for him, and convinced me that he could know anything at any time. Srila Prabhupada was an intimate as­sociate of Krishna and Krishna was the control­ler of all material and spiritual worlds; the direct source of intelligence and ability in his devotees.

Another time on a morning walk up at the Vrindaban farm, a sterile cow (due to having shared the womb with a bull brother), came into view. On observing her, Srila Prabhupada in­quired, “How old is this cow?”

Apparently no barn boys were present, so no one answered immediately. Soma dasa, our lo­cal wood craftsman, noticing her milk bag, said, “She must be young, Srila Prabhupada; her milk bag hasn’t bagged up yet.”

“I know that,” said Srila Prabhupada sharply. Actually, she was about four years old and hav­ing never had a calf due to her sterility, her milk bag was undeveloped. A detail unknown to one unfamiliar with cows, but Srila Prabhupada no­ticed immediately that she was an unusually old­er heifer.

One day, after a meeting with Prabhupada, Srila Bhaktipada returned to the farm and told us that Srila Prabhupada had amazed him with an incredible idea. “Srila Prabhupada said we could grow grapes and then make wine in order to store the juice.” “When it came time to use it, he said we should strain off the alcohol, drink the juice and give what was left to the cows.” “This will make the cows very happy.”

At that time no one could understand how this could be done, but just this past year, the re­search of alcohol as an alternative fuel has pro­gressed. I’ve heard of a laboratory procedure to separate alcohol without energy-intensive distil­lation. This procedure is still years from com­mercial feasibility, yet five years ago Srila Prabhupada was speaking of it as an accepted procedure. Certainly the spiritual master is tri­kala-jnana, a knower of past, present, and future.

Certainly the best evidence that Prabhupada understood agriculture is that he encouraged ISKCON to start many farms. In an era where annually thousands of American farms are van­ishing due to the pressures of urbanization, mechanization of larger farms, higher costs of imputs, and low prices; this idea of developing new farms appears to be going against the stream. Such farming operations are unlikely to be an immediate financial asset to ISKCON, yet Srila Prabhupada could see that the industriali­zation of society was making no one happy. Farm life, perhaps lacking in the amenities of great urban concentration, is in the long run the superior lifestyle for society as a whole.

Protection of cows, and self-sufficiency based on the land are the only ways to really stop inflation and balance the budgets. But it is unlikely the politicians of the industrialized countries will be able to implement such pro­grams as self-sufficiency as long as the speeding wheels of high productivity continues to de­mand, and get, the easily available, easily ex­ploitable, non-renewable natural resources. As these natural sources of energy run out, great masses of people are lost in the cities, caught up in “do less for more money” mentalities. The more people depend on mass produced food, trucked hundreds or thousands of miles to their favorite store, the more they forget Krishna along with his plan for simple living and high thinking. As a result, they suffer, slowly smoth­ering in their own toxic and solid wastes.

There is no technological fix for the masses of modern society. Only when there is a return to an agrarian society, with an awareness of Krishna as the supreme controller, can there be a real solution.

Thus, instead of economic woe, we can attain a peaceful standard of existence as stated in Krishna Book, “Meeting of Narada and Vasudeva.”

“It is important to note in this connection how wealthy the inhabitants of Vrindaban were, sim­ply by raising cows. All the cowherd men be­longed to the Vaisya community, and their busi­ness was to protect the cows and cultivate crops. By their dress and ornaments and by their be­havior it appears that although they were in a small village, they still were rich in material pos­sessions. They possessed such an abundance of various kinds of milk products, that they were throwing butter lavishly on each others’ bodies without restriction. Their wealth was in milk, yogurt, clarified butter, and many other milk products. By trading their agricultural pro­ducts, they were rich in various kinds of jewelry, ornaments, and costly dresses. Not only did they possess all these things, but they could give them away in charity, as did Nanda Maharaja.

(The following picture wasn’t in the original article. It shows, left to right, Yudhistra, Devaki, Daivata and the aforementioned team of oxen.)



Samba, Hayagriva’s eldest son, has found previously unpublished letters from Srila Prabhupada in his father’s effects that Hayagriva had stored at his mother’s house before leaving his body. As his grandmother approached the end of her life, Samba retrieved the boxes and has had them for five years.

He is currently cataloging the contents of the boxes. The collection of letters that Hayagriva had are from Srila Prabhupada to himself, his wife Shama, as well as some to Kirtanananda and a few others. Most of them are already in the Vedabase but many weren’t.

The BBT archives are going to officially process them, but Samba was kind enough to let me get copies of all those that aren’t found in the VedaBase. My unoffical count is that there are 76 of them. Of those, Srila Prabhupada mentions New Vrindaban in 48 of them, which clearly demonstrates his interest in the project.

There isn’t anything earthshaking in them, and there is no single letter that is any kind of a magic bullet, but the body of them clearly demonstrate his commitment to having a farm project and to publishing and distributing books.

I have started scanning some of them and getting them converted to digital form and have permission from Samba to post them on so they are now being posted once a week categorized as Prabhupada’s Letters.

In addition to the New Vrindaban discussion, a lot of them are about the editing work that Hayagriva was doing for Srila Prabhupada. There are even form letters where Srila Prabhupada is having to personally dun the temples for nonpayment of bills owed to the BBT for books. He has the letter typed then hand writes the name of the recipient in the salutation.

I will quote from one of them:

“So the best thing will be to keep daily count of your stock and how many magazines and books sold. Then, regularly, on Sunday of each week the sales proceeds may be totaled for issuing a check to the amount owed to my book fund and to the BTG accounts. Then on each Monday the check may be sent to Los Angeles. So you do this regularly and it will be very nice. ”

No one can say that Srila Prabhupada wasn’t taking care of business. :-)

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