New Year, New Commitments
31st of December, 2006 - 12:27
New year calls for new commitments. Well, any auspicious, remarkable or blessed day serves for an excuse for that, really. The human mind is fond of dealing with entireties, and so being, one can harvest substantial benefits in the way of determination from making commitments conjointly with particular periods of time, and so forth. Of course, devotional commitments run from here to eternity, but from here to eternity is a very long concept for a small mind to cope with. Hence, commitments for a new year.
The Daily News
19th of December, 2006 - 8:59
The Fresh Seedling
9th of December, 2006 - 4:27

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New Year, New Commitments
Posted: 31st of December, 2006 - 12:27
New year calls for new commitments. Actually, any auspicious, remarkable or blessed day serves for an excuse for that. This year starts with Monday, and as such is considered a particularly auspicious year. The human mind is fond of dealing with entireties, and so being, one can harvest substantial benefits in the way of determination from making commitments bound with particular periods of time, and so forth. Of course, devotional commitments run from here to eternity, but from here to eternity is a very large concept for a small mind to cope with. Hence, commitments for the new year.

— Vows made with an offering of a palmful of water into Sri Kunda, mixed with tears bitter and sweet oozing from the deepest core of the heart... —

For niyamas and vratas to bear success and be lasting, they aren't fit to be openly disclosed before the public. Commitments stay intact and prosper when shared with one's heart's friends. Put before others, they run the risk of vanishing with our escalating self-esteem. I have seen this, and indeed been through this too many a time to make the same blunder again. Bhajana must be in a progressive state of growth, not in zig-zag motions, to carry us from here to the land we belong to.

As such, nothing specific to be said in regards to what comes, but as a note in a general way – and as a note of inspiration for everyone to do likewise – bhajana must grow for the upcoming year. With the move here, perhaps the biggest change of our lives, I am yet to have mustered the energy with which to focus on nourishing my bhajana in the capacity I ought to for it to be at a standard I'd like to see it at. Much has happened in the world without, pulling my mind away from the world within. Many practicalities have had to be taken care of, and many worthy projects have been brought to a satisfactory completion. But for prospering smarana, the mind must become a recluse to the world.

For deep bhajana and distractions do not mix well. They do mix for those who have built strong habits over the years, and in whose pristine hearts and minds the lila unfolds of its own accord. For those of us in the early practice phase of bhajana, at a stage where the mind is still fragile and subject to the influence of distractions, protecting the equilibrium is vital for us to grow firm and strong. Firm and strong in our attachment to seva in the flow of the nitya-lila, the final objective of all acts of worship and contemplation.

Then, re-establish and grow your commitments in bhajana for the upcoming year, make your heart blossom, make your bhajana prosper – make the next year a success unlike anything before. And have these two poor souls in your prayers, pray to let us stay in Vraja in the company of saints and fulfill our desires of bhajana. Jaya Sri Radhe Radhe!
The Daily News
Posted: 19th of December, 2006 - 8:59
With the blog's changing to free-style expression from the earlier reportage model, I find my writings have been more on the philosophical side. Our friends are asking, "How are you guys? How are you settling down, is everything moving on as planned?" Let me touch on all that.

I could hardly speak of being at Radha-kunda without mentioning the Kutir project. The one thing we are looking forward to is the day when our bhajan kutir is built, giving us a place of peace of our own where we can retire to for a life of bhajan. There is no peace among people, bhajana – and smarana in particular – calls for a peaceful environment.

With the kind help of some Vaisnavas and some work I managed to pull together, we've collected the funds for paying off the land, though the registration will have to wait until we have our six-month residence quota together – we'll go by the book. I hear some advocates can juggle their way around the restriction, but I don't think that's worth it – it sounds too shady.

The house won't be that large – some 55 m2 with one room for me, one for Malati, one kitchen, one for Thakur and a jaga-mohana at the entrance before Thakur's room. There'll also be an underground level the size of my and Malati's room for the hot season – half underground, half above the ground. We'll set up a dome from iron net above the entire area to keep monkeys away from all the trees, flowers and bushes we'll be planting. Yes, and latrine and bathroom will not be inside the house! Having a latrine in the house is so yucky and impure – here in particular, where things tend to start smelling in due course... And two hand-pumps, one for Thakur and kitchen needs near the house, the other near the latrine / bathroom area.

The fog hasn't arrived yet... We can hardly wait.

After a rather rough Niyama-seva, our health has been getting towards the better, though our bodies, we find, are still going through a good deal of adjustment to the environment and are quite fragile and easily bent out of shape with the smallest mistakes in eating or otherwise. The weather is getting quite chilly. People think we are accustomed to that, coming from a cold country, but they couldn't be farther from the truth! Yes, we ve been through -20 degrees in the midwinter, but inside houses we have triple windows and a steady +21 degrees day and night, warm water as much as you wish.

Yes, and the house won't have a water tank! A tank on the roof is a good way of ensuring that in the cold season the water you get is really very freezing cold, and the gange ca yamune caiva invocation at the bath's start literally brings you to Gangotri in so many ways. We do have an iron rod heater to warm up a bucketful of water, and it works fine whenever electricity is on – which is a couple of times a day nowadays, fortunately often in the morning. And in the summer season, it's hot as straight from hell – and no, we don't have a cooling device to handle that! Whereas water coming straight from underground varies very little in its temperature – warm in the winter, cool in the summer.

A screenshot of the Bhasa.Net bibliography project

With some coding work from the "outside", I've felt a need to balance it out with something meaningful in the realm of devotional works – and as some of you may have noticed, Bhasa.Net has come to life within the last month. A good deal of my spare time has gone into developing the bibliography section, a few more features to go before it's done. Hop onboard and contribute.

I need to get a new hard drive for the laptop – a bit bigger and a bit faster. The built-in drive is, yesterday I discovered, a 4200 rpm walla – which means that work is sluggish indeed, especially with anything video. The drive is the bottleneck slowing things down, and if I ever intend to get Lake of Flowers and the DVDs going, this is something I need to get – even if we aren't filthy rich at the moment. Sure, I could use a laptop with something more than a C1.3 GHz processor, but... Fortunately I don't need to go to Delhi to get any of that done – Mathura and Vrindavan are developed enough to have several PC stores that can even deliver to Radha-kunda.

And with that, today's entry has drifted around enough to merit concluding.
The Fresh Seedling
Posted: 9th of December, 2006 - 4:27
Substantial devotional inspiration versus blurts of enthusiasm that come and go – a dichotomy often seen. A justified division into real and unreal? Sometimes we say, "Let it pass the test of time – if it lasts, it is real." A firm resolve for pursuing bhajana is called anurāga, a passion for attaining fulfillment in one's devotional aspirations.

Spiritual emotions are not a static reality. Not that there is a particular quantity and grade of greed and determination that awaken, and having awakened are sustained if they are for real. Rather, greed, determination and passion for bhajana are something that are received and nurtured, that grow by the day when duly taken care of in the company of saintly devotees sharing the same traits.

An example will illustrate.

Here was planted a seed, and here comes a fresh sprout, just barely breaking off the ground, its tender leaves reaching for the sun. Now, but wait a moment will you: Is the growth truly for real? If it is real, then surely it'll pass our mighty litmus test: Shield it from the sunlight, give it no more water! If the sprout is truly for real, it'll surely be there also after a year or two to grow afresh once again. With the burst of genius, the beautiful sprout withered away, the gift called the spark of life departed, leaving behind but a dry reminder of growth once prospered, a carcass of a creeper that reaches not for the sky nor blossoms, for it is earth-bound again, destined to wilt away and assume the qualities of earth once more.

The growth was real for as long as it lasted. Was the impetus for growth mixed? Possibly so, for no sadhaka is spotless in motives at the very beginning. Was there growth nonetheless? Endeavors in bhajana purge the hearts of all in due course. Akāmaḥ sarva-kamo vā yajetaḥ puruṣaṁ param, thought the sages of the yore.

The inner drive of the sadhaka withers in absence of nourishment. Then, seeking the company of the saintly is the prime occupation of every aspiring sadhaka. The path we traverse is sustained by the life-giving milk of grace, milked from the presence, the instructions and the good wishes of the kamadhenu-saints.

"Absence makes hearts grow fonder" says the old proverb, and rightly so. Fondness grows when nourished with a deep attachment binding together hearts, as if a rope were stretched across the universe. However, in absence of a deep attachment – and alas, how many flavors of competing attachments does one cultivate! – the passing of time nourishes nothing but forgetfulness.

Therefore, aspirants! Sustain your connections and seek the company in which your heart prospers! Re-discover the force that once brought your heart to surrender and worship and that moved your heart to tears, shield it in the chamber of the core of your heart as the greatest of treasures for that is the asset of all assets in this life and beyond.

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