Is the scientist a noble researcher or someone who is following a lust for recognition? Are we to put our faith in their conclusions and theories when trying to understand what will give us real happiness? Our faith should be placed in the Absolute’s divine agent, the saint, Sri Guru. <em><a href=”http://www.sevaashram.net/3693/faith-in-saints-or-scientists/” target=”_blank”>Read article…</a></em>
We are very excited about Saturday’s classical Indian dance festival in the Kathak tradition presented by Sangita Nandy’s Kathak Kala Vihar Dance School at the Santa Clara University Mayer Theater! The doors will open at 4:00pm and the program will start at 5:00pm. Click here to a link for directions and parking information or for a pdf map, click here. Tickets are still available to purchase at the box office.
During the month of October 2012, Srila Janardan Maharaj travelled to China to visit with Yudhamnayu Prabhu Seva Vikram and the Chinese devotees. Accompanied by Satrughna Prabhu (Shuggie), they went to Chongqing and Shenzhen, where they were warmly greeted by the Chinese devotees. Everyone was extremely happy to have Srila Janardan Maharaj’s association. Here are some pictures from that tour.
Dr Su was instrumental in helping Yudhamnyu Prabhu become established in China. Dr Su and his wife Mrs Hao visited our Soquel Seva Ashram in the summer of 2012. They were very happy with their visit and afterwards he commented to Yudhamnyu Prabhu that everyone at the Seva Ashram was smiling from their hearts!
A few days before Srila Janardan Maharaj’s arrival in China, the devotees in Chongqing celebrate Srila Acharya Maharaj’s Appearance Day…
While he was in India, Srila Janardan Maharaj purchased a mridanga drum for the devotees in Chongqing which he gave to Hasyapriya das to bring there…
After Chongqing, Srila Janardan Maharaj and Shatrugna Prabhu went on to Shenzhen where Jayavati Devi is leading the Chinese devotees at the new center established by Srila Avadut Maharaj & Srila Goswami Maharaj…
A few weeks after Srila Janardan Maharaj’s visit, Yudhamanyu Prabhu Seva Vikram and Hasyapriya das also visited the devotees in Shenzhen …
Vaishnava Seva Society wishes to present Shraddhaanjali (an affectionate offering to our teachers)–a Festival of Dance in Santa Clara County, performed in the traditional classical dance form of ‘Kathak’.
This festival is geared especially toward the South Asian communities in the area. This event will give a unique opportunity for individuals, especially parents to keep themselves and their children connected with the rich culture and heritage of India. All children, youth, and adults may enjoy and participate in this event simply as a colorful cultural festival while enriching their lives with the beauty, charm and grace of this classic dance form.
For the past month we have been working with the County of Santa Cruz to define how our proposed use of our property can be accommodated under their rules. The county’s term for their land use determination is called a “matrix”. According to the Santa Cruz County Building Code, the purpose of the matrix system is to “provide a consistent methodology for the determination of the development potential of rural land based on available services, environmental and site constraints and resource proportion factors”. The county analyzes various factors on our property and assigns them a numerical value which then determines the extent of development that is allowed.
The matrix report only assesses the development potential of our land. The decision to approve or deny our specific plan is done when we submit our application for a discretionary use permit, which we should be able to do later this year. It is important the matrix supports our proposed use, but it does not guarantee approval.
In May 2000 we hired the county to prepare a rural density matrix report for our property. Then in February 2005 we had the county review and update their initial report. (You can view those reports here.) The result of these reports is that the county has assigned a matrix calculation for our property of 3.7 matrix units. (A normal single family residence is 1 matrix unit.) The county then requested us to submit a proposal on how we would use the matrix units for our proposed development project.
We submitted our plan to the county (see below). Finally, after many meetings, plan revisions, emails and phone calls, the county accepted our proposal! Even though this approval is only for the proposed use, it is an important step in our approval process.
Here is our proposal that was approved:
|Limited Temporary Occupancy – day use only
10,950 user days per matrix unit
1.0 Matrix Unit
|# of People
|Religious Holy Days||10||100||1,000|
|Total User Days||10,950|
|Limited Temporary Occupancy
3,650 user days per matrix unit
1.7 Matrix Unit (1.7 x 3,650 = 6,205)
|# of People
|Total User Days||6,205|
|Permanent Residential Units
1 kitchen & 5 permanent residents per matrix unit
1.0 Matrix Unit
|# of People
The pastimes of Lord Jagannath give us a glimpse into one of the highest spiritual principles which was expressed by Srila Sridhar Maharaj as “union in separation”. However, due to our consciousness being influenced by material sense enjoyment, we can easily miss these spiritual principles and think that the Lord’s pastimes are similar to ordinary mundane activities. We pray to Srila Gurudev, Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda-dev Goswami Maharaj, that by his mercy we may present this story while staying true to the transcendental principles of our spiritual preceptors.
Once when Krishna was living in the city of Dwarka, Narada Muni, the great mendicant who travels the universe, came into the assembly of Krishna’s 16,108 wives. Narada Muni offered them his respects and began to glorify the Queens saying how they were the best servants of Krishna, and the most glorious devotees in the entire universe. But by his words the Queens could understand a different meaning: that Krishna really wants to return to Vrindavan and taste the love of the gopis.
Prompted by Narada Muni, Krishna’s wives began asking Balaram’s mother Rohini, who was also in the assembly, to tell them about Krishna’s pastimes in Vrindavan. She had lived there with Krishna and Balaram before They came to Dwarka. The residents of Dwarka are said to worship Krishna as the Supreme Lord. But the residents of Vrindavan have a very confidential relationship with Krishna that surpasses awe and reverence because it is based on friendship and love. Krishna’s wives wanted to hear about the special quality of love that the cowherd boys and girls have for Krishna and how that love had captured Krishna’s heart in Vrindavan. Cautious that the discussion should not be overheard by Krishna, Rohini asked Krishna’s sister, Subadra, to stand watch at the door and prevent Krishna and Balaram from entering into the assembly.
Remembering her friend Yasoda, who is Krishna’s mother, Rohini then began to speak about Krishna’s wonderful pastimes in Vrindavan. She described how the residents of Vrindavan only know Krishna as their son, their beloved or their friend. Rohini told the Queens, “You sometimes think that Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead Himself, and you can see His four hands.” She described how in Vrindavan this idea is never present. The inhabitants of Vrindavan see Krishna as an innocent boy who is dancing and playing His flute. His turban is decorated with peacock feathers. He loves, and is loved by, all the cowherd boys and girls.
Meanwhile, Krishna, sensing that He was being talked about, came along with His brother Balaram and standing to the right and left of Their sister Subadra, They could overhear Rohini’s wonderful stories. Just by hearing these stories Krishna became overwhelmed with intense feelings of separation for Vrindavan. He was so completely absorbed in hearing the Vrindavan pastimes, that His heart began to melt. Krishna and Balaram became so ecstatic that Their internal feelings were exhibited externally. Their eyes became very wide! Their heads compressed into Their bodies, and Their limbs retracted! They appeared just like the forms that are worshipped today as Lord Jagannath, Subadra and Baladev in Jagannath Puri.
Gradually They returned to Their normal consciousness and forms. When Krishna had recovered fully, He could understand that Narada Muni had a hand in this. Narada Muni was worried because Krishna’s extreme feelings of separation had caused this remarkable transformation and he thought that Krishna would be angry with him. Krishna told Narada Muni, “You must have said something that caused the Queens to question Mother Rohini.” Then to Narada Muni’s relief, Krishna told him how happy he was that this had happened and wanted to give Narada Muni a benediction. Hearing that Krishna was happy made Narada Muni happy and he asked, “My desire is that you will remain in those forms somewhere in this world and the whole world will see you. In that form you will be patita-pavana, the savior of the fallen and the entire world will be liberated by your darshan. That is what I want.”
Krishna replied: “Yes, it will be! I will manifest these three Deities and the Sudarshan chakra (Krishna’s disc) in the city of Puri, on the bank of the ocean.”
The Appearance of Lord Nrsimhadeva
The devotees gathered at the Pushpa Samadhi of Srila Govinda Maharaj in Soquel California on the second anniversary of the disappearance of Srila Govinda Maharaj. Srila Janardan Maharaj returned from India to lead the program and his beautiful words helped soothe the hearts of everyone. Here are some photographs taken by Jatindra Mohan Prabhu.
Srila Govinda Maharaj came to California 10 times between 1992 and 2007. He would describe his trips as coming to visit with his friends and their families. However, for us it was so much more than that. His association changed our lives and revitalized Krishna Consciousness for thousands of devotees around the world.
In 1992 he requested that we purchase a center, since previously we had been renting the building at 17th Street in San Jose, where Jayanta Krishna Prabhu and Braja Mohini Devi now live. Yudhamanyu Prabhu Seva Vikram organized the collections to fulfill Gurudev’s request and in September 1993 on the auspicious day of Sri Radhastami, we received the deed to the property that would become the Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Seva Ashram in Soquel, California. Here is a selection of photographs from Sanatani Devi’s vast collection from those early years.
He also comes to enjoy loving pastimes with His dear-most devotees. The Supreme Lord loves His devotees and they love Him. They therefore take birth as His friends, mother, father, brothers, wife, servants and sometimes even as animals such as cows and monkeys.
Lord Rama was raised to be a perfect ruler. He personified justice, mercy, strength and all other good qualities. The citizens of Ayodhya were very happy to know that Maharaj Dasarath had such a qualified successor. However, as fate would have it, to honor a vow that his father had made, Lord Rama accepted fourteen years of exile to the forest. Everyone was heartbroken. No one could believe the situation, but because Lord Rama was so noble, He readily accepted His fate. He left His father’s palace for the forest accompanied by His brother Laksman and His wife Sita Devi.
Many pastimes took place while Lord Rama lived in the forest; however, nothing compared to when the Rakshasa king Ravana kidnapped His dear wife Sita Devi, whom He loved with all His heart. Laksman and Rama looked everywhere for Sita but could not find her. Rama thought of her constantly and His mind was distracted by grief due to her separation. He could not eat and hardly slept.
While searching for Sita, Rama and Laksman saved the life of Sugriva, a great monkey king who was being hunted by his demoniac brother Vali. After that, Lord Rama enlisted Sugriva along with his mighty monkey general Hanuman and all the monkey tribes, in the search for His missing Sita. A frantic search ensued. Sugriva ordered all monkeys, gorillas, apes, bears and other animals to search the four directions for Sita Devi. Sugriva was so intense that he ordered: “Anyone who does not report back to me within one month will be executed!” Lord Rama was very happy with Sugriva’s efforts to help him in this desperate time.
Soon word came that Hanuman had found Sita in Ravana’s island city of Lanka, where she was being held captive. Meeting with Sugriva, Hanuman and the other monkey chiefs, Lord Rama discussed how to cross over the ocean and rescue her.
At this time Ravana’s brother Vibhishana left Ravana’s palace in Lanka to join Rama’s army. Vibhishana had tried in vain to convince his brother Ravana to return Sita and make peace with Rama, but Ravana was convinced that mere humans and animals could never defeat him. Ravana considered himself such a great warrior because even the Lord of Death, Yamaraj, had retreated in battle against him. Little did he know what the real truth was about Lord Rama.
When Vibhishana came to Lord Rama, one by one, each of the monkey leaders expressed distrust for him. They said, “He is the brother of Ravana, how can he be trusted?” When Hanuman spoke though, he told the opposite–that he trusted Vibhishana and did not detect any deceitfulness in him. Lord Rama agreed. He stated, “If a person comes to me saying ‘I am yours only once, then I shall protect him from danger forever. This is my solemn vow I make before you all.” All the great monkey chiefs were deeply moved by Rama’s speech. Sugriva said tearfully, “O Rama your knowledge is perfect and you are always devoted to virtue. My doubts are gone.”
Now Vibhishana, as an ally and friend, helped devise a plan to cross the ocean. To reach the island of Lanka they would build a bridge! Lord Ramachandra began the enormous task. Meanwhile Hanuman, who had super strength and was blessed with a boon that he could fly, could easily cross the ocean simply by jumping over it. The Lord is so merciful upon His pure devotees that He presents them as even more powerful than Himself.
With incredible strength the army of monkey soldiers uprooted giant trees and lifted great mountain peaks, which they carried to the sea. Soon there were gigantic piles of trees and rocks all over the beach. One particular monkey named Nala was the son of the demigods’ famous architect, Vishvakarma. Under his direction the monkeys began throwing everything they had collected into the sea and tying it all together with vines. They engraved each rock with the holy name of Rama and the rocks began to float on the water.
Feeling very excited, the monkeys built over 100 miles of bridge just in the first day. Seeing their own progress they became even more enthusiastic and within only five days completed a bridge that spanned over 800 miles and was 80 miles wide. While demigods and saintly rishis watched from above in amazement, the monkeys and bears leapt and ran onto the bridge laughing and shouting with joy! Rama rode on Hanuman’s shoulders and Angada carried Laksman as the ferocious army of monkeys and bears crossed the bridge to Lanka.
Lord Rama, Laksman, millions of monkeys led by Hanuman, Sugriva and Angada, and legions of bears led by Jambuvan, all arrived on the outskirts of Lanka ready for battle. The battle cry was given and they began an attack on the city. The brutal battle went on for many days and nights. At one point Rama and Laksman were paralyzed by Ravana’s son Indrajit’s poisonous arrows. Hanuman was dispatched to retrieve a special herb to heal them, but when he flew to the Himalaya Mountains he found that the herbs had hidden themselves from view. Undeterred, Hanuman lifted the whole mountaintop into the sky and carried it to the battlefield. There the herbs were discovered and administered to Rama and Laksman, who recovered miraculously from all their wounds. Shortly thereafter, Ravana himself entered the battle and was defeated by Lord Rama.
Finally Sita Devi was released and great celebrations followed. However, to prove her chastity, Sita Devi entered into fire. Agni Dev, the god of fire himself, carried Sita Devi from within the fire back to Lord Rama, proclaiming to everyone her purity and chastity. Now the fourteen years of exile had ended and they all returned to Ayodyha, where Lord Rama ruled for many, many years.
Jaya Sita, Jaya Rama!
We humbly invite you to come give honor and remembrance to our dearest Gurudev, Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswami Maharaj on the anniversary of his departure. The pain of separation still hangs over us but in each other’s association we can remember his wonderful activities, glorious qualities, and how his affectionate mood touched all of us.
It is said that the guru is more near and dear to us than God Himself. God has many things to deal with, but guru is concerned only with our welfare. In this way our lives have been forever changed by the auspicious association of such a great Vaishnava Acharya as Srila Govinda Maharaj. We will be very grateful for your association on this important occasion.
Srila Janardan Maharaj returns from India soon and will lead the program in Santa Cruz, which will start at 10 am at Srila Gurudev’s Pushpa Samadhi. Although that will be the main program in Santa Cruz, we will gather again at 5:30 pm in the temple for kirtan and additional discourse of Gurudev’s glories. The program in San Jose will start at 5:30 pm.
All Glories to Sri Sri Guru Gauranga Gandharvika Giridhari Jiu
In the Seva Ashram News you’ll find posts with photos, videos, audio and more sharing the latest news from our Ashrams. And we hope the many articles in the Seva Ashram Post will give nourishment to the hearts and souls of seekers exploring Krishna Consciousness for the first time as well as long-time practitioners.
Many devotees from our community are working hard to bring you these articles and posts. Swarnangii Devi, Sushila Devi and Vrinda Devi especially have dedicated themselves to this service. In addition, many devotees like Maturanath Prabhu, Bhakti Lalita Devi and others have written wonderful articles from their realizations in Krishna Consciousness.
Our hope is to add new posts each week to share with you the enthusiasm and beauty of all the devotees’ service activities. Please check back regularly to see what’s new. To find out when new posts are published, you can follow our Seva Ashram Facebook page.
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Thank you for visiting. If you have any questions or comments, please email me at Hasyapriya@SevaAshram.org
There will be a memorial service honoring Sripad Bhakti Sharan Vaishnav Maharaj on Friday, January 20, 2012 at the Seva Ashram in Soquel, California. Srila Janardan Maharaj will lead the program. View invitation…
What is Bhakti Yoga? What is the highest level of consciousness? Srila Janardan Maharaj explains how bhakti is beyond hankering and lamentation in this short video from the Bhakti Yoga Club at Cabrillo College in Aptos, California in October 2011 at Srila Janardan Maharaj’s “Simple Living and High Thinking” lecture. Watch Video…
Here is a collection of wonderful photos of Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswami Maharaj from around the world including many taken at the Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Seva Ashram in Soquel, California.