Friday, November 25, 2016

Four Excerpts from my Mahabharata: The Eternal Quest


Bhima Fights Baka:
Bhima, however, grabbed the Rakshasa’s throat with one hand and held him at bay while he reached for yet another tasty item. Baka was incensed. With his face contorted and his red eyes bulging and his black, matted hair flying and showing his four rows of teeth, he raised a blood-curdling scream. Bhima threw him to the ground.  Baka quickly rebounded and uprooted a nearby tree and hurled it at Bhima. Bhima dodged it, and in an instant, they both ripped trees out of the ground and charged at each other, smashing one another relentlessly.  After those trees were shredded, they uprooted more trees, hurling them at one another.  The forest around them became decimated and the Rakshasa turned to find another tree. But he did not get far. Bhima jumped and rammed his knee into Baka’s back and broke his spine. Baka fell flat on his face. As he tried to get up, Bhima quickly twisted his neck. The Rakshasa’s eyes bulged out. He vomited blood and fell dead.


The Pandavas Enter The Himalayas
The way was steep and treacherous. All around them the skies darkened. Fierce winds were suddenly upon them and enveloped them in a dust storm. They lost sight of one another.  The winds howled so fiercely that the Pandavas were nearly swept off the mountainside. The group held on tightly to boulders and scraggly trees as the winds ripped at their faces and took their breath away.  Angry winds lashed at them from one direction and then another. But soon the winds ceased as suddenly as they had come.
The Pandavas felt relief only momentarily.  Pounding rains came fast upon them as thunder flashed against distant clouds. The group scurried higher, frustrated and in tears and not knowing where to turn.  Out of nowhere, or perhaps as if the Celestials had placed it right in their path, they came upon a cave. There they took shelter from the storm, which continued to rage throughout the night. 

From Gita
Arjuna asked, “What are the qualities of one who is in divine consciousness? How does he act?”
 Krishna spoke, his voice serene and majestic. “Such a person is not disturbed by the constant changes of this world. He is beyond the dualities of success and failure. Beyond profits and losses. Beyond pleasures and pains. Beyond the constant flow of desires which come and go like the waves of an ocean.  He is forever free from fear and anger.  His senses are restrained.  He eats, speaks, sleeps and works in moderation. He is not attached to the results of his work, but neither does he try to avoid work. He sees that all worldly pleasures, which first appear sweet and alluring, ultimately sour. They have a beginning and an end, and he does not strive for such things.
“Rather, he is situated in the pursuit of transcendence. He is happy from within. He rejoices and is illumined from within. Gradually his heart opens.  He sees all beings with equal vision and acts for their welfare. And he sees Me dwelling patiently in the hearts of all as the Companion. He is centered in knowledge, peace  and compassion. A person in this consciousness remains fixed, even at the moment of death. Such a rare soul readily attains Vaikuntha, My supreme spiritual abode, free from fears and anxieties, and above heaven itself.

The Battle Begins
In the heavens, Siddhas, Gandharvas, and Charanas gathered to watch the battle below. A moment of silent anticipation descended upon Kurukshetra, a moment which hung heavy, a moment of waiting, of postponing death a little while longer, and then drums and bugles sounded and warriors blew their conch shells, and Time once again ground forward as battle cries arose from the ranks of the armies and rolled across the valley, and like a great beast stirring from its slumber, the warriors shook their weapons and rushed at one another and collided together with a thunderous force. 

Copyright, 2013, Andy Fraenkel 


To see acclaim by scholars, another excerpt and to order go to www.Mahabharata-Project.com

Special Offer

I hope all is well. This holiday season I am offering a special discount to devotees looking for gifts for friends, family and especially for people you’re cultivating. My book Mahabharata: The Eternal Quest has received a 2014 Next Generation Indie Book Award - awards for independent publishers and authors.


And my CD Hanuman's Quest received a 2016 Storytelling World Resource Award - in the category 'Good Resource For Any Age- kids, teens, adults.' Also have two other CDs - Sacred Voices – stories and poems from the world’s sacred traditions (great for interfaith contacts), and Brahma’s Song (stories of Brahma & Krishna). 
All prices below include shipping expenses in USA to one address.
Mahabharata: 6 copies for $72 (that's $12 each) and 10 copies for $100.
Any assortment of my three CDs: 6 for $42 (that's $7 each) and 10 for $65 ($6.50 each).
There is more information on the book and CDs, including my standard prices, at https://mahabharata-project.com/order/
My background is in theater and I have tried to use my dramatic skills to create these resources to both inspire folks and serve as a bridge to help people appreciate the Vedic/Bhakti tradition. My book is being used in several college courses. My CDs include music along with the stories for a great listening experience. Your purchase will support my work to prepare more books and Cds of this nature.
Take care, your servant, Sankirtan das (ACBSP) 

Monday, November 7, 2016

Election Day Blues and the Leadership Vacuum



Election day is upon us. The battle lines are drawn. Many voters are entrenched on one side or the other. Many more are yet undecided and perplexed  by the choice of candidates. 

Today, many people are angry by the failures or inaction of one side or other; angry with a do-nothing government which doesn't consider their needs; angry with the moral failures of leadership.  And rightly so. But anger and frustration don’t provide a platform from which to make a sound decision.

The Bhagavad Gita gives an ample description of what will happen. Krishna explains in the second chapter that if one gives way to anger it will  only blind them.  This leads to delusion and  bewilderment.   In this state one loses all intelligence. Around us we see people so frustrated they succumb to degraded activities in the form of  intoxication and violence. When people are angry and frustrated, their reasoning capabilities are diminished and they become susceptible to being exploited and lead astray.

To make a decision, voters must first understand what the qualities and behavior of a leader are.  A leader has far more responsibilities than the common person, and thus their decisions have far greater repercussions. Since a leader sets an example for others to follow, it would be prudent to seek someone who exhibits leadership qualities and proper behavior better than we do ourselves.   

The qualities of leadership are explained in the Gita and to a greater degree in Mahabharata. In Mahabharata these qualities are displayed by personalities like Yudhisthira and Arjuna who care for the citizens they govern and are in turn loved by them.  Leadership is also discussed at length by Narada Muni, Grandfather Bhismadeva and Lord Krishna Himself.  And leadership in all its negativity  is especially displayed by Duryodhana, who is greedy, envious and arrogant.  

Unfortunately,  proper understanding, as well as proper training in leadership, is sorely lacking in our modern educational systems.  How is a leader to be trained or to be recognized by the people who want to vote?  For this reason, the Mahabharata offers valuable guidance in our confused times. Therein, we are given not only instructions on leadership but examples of how a leader should and should not behave.

The leadership vacuum is not going to go away after election regardless of who becomes president. The so-called leadership of those who want to exploit their position, who only want to serve their own or their party’s interest, is worthless.

The schisms which have arisen in America and in other countries around the world can only further divide and alienate people. The hatred and distrust of government is unprecedented.  But government does and can work if run intelligently, even if we have to go back to ancient Greece or India to find examples.

Now is a time for devotees everywhere to serve society by providing a true and unbiased understanding of leadership, and not by being a sounding board for any one side. The devotees are trained by Srila Prabhupada as wisdom keepers and must humbly offer the wisdom of the Gita and Mahabharata for all to consider.   Now, in these confounding times of flux and turmoil,  let those who have receptive ears hear this philosophy and consider this process of Krishna Consciousness.


Sankirtana Das  (ACBSP) is an award-winning author and storyteller.  For more about his book Mahabharata: The Eternal Quest see www.Mahabharata-Project.com

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Tips on Writing and on Promoting your Work

Visit my page below for  two articles: 12 Best Tips on Writing  and  Getting the Word out About your Book or CD:

https://mahabharata-project.com/on-writing/

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Mahabharata; The Eternal Quest


The foreboding age of Kali approaches. A troubled dynasty hovers on the brink of destruction. An epic story from ancient India, Mahabharata reflects the passions and longings of the human spirit.

This highly acclaimed rendition offers a good literary read that can easily be studied in classrooms. "Fresh, fast-paced and cinematic! Andy Fraenkel's book captures the scope and breath of this great epic." Subhash Kak, PhD, Author & Professor (from his Foreword) "

As the 3rd anniversary of the publication of Mahabharata: The Eternal Quest approaches, I have finally made the book available on Amazon. During the last few years the book has gone out to both public and college libraries, is being used in college courses, by book discussion groups, and several  yoga studios have it available for sale as well. I have received hundreds of emails of appreciation.  For those who have read the book, I invite you to go to the following site and leave a comment. Thanks so very much for your encouragement and support.... 

https://www.amazon.com/Mahabharata-Eternal-Quest-Andy-Fraenkel/dp/0989607402/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1469120010&sr=8-1&keywords=mahabharata+the+eternal+quest


The book is still available at  www.Mahabharata-Project.com  where you can also read an excerpt.


Monday, May 2, 2016

Hanuman's Quest CD Wins International Award






I recently won a Storytelling World Resource Award for my dramatic storytelling CD Hanuman’s Quest. I'm also a recipient of  a WV Artist Fellowship Award,  a National Endowment of the Arts Grant,  an Ohio River Border Initiative Grant, and a Next Generation Indie Book Award for Mahabharata: The Eternal Quest, my 'cinematic' rendition of the ancient epic.
For many years I used my background in theater to write, act and direct Krishna Consciousness dramas.  Today, I offer dramatic storytelling programs in a variety of venues. The following interview was conducted by Abhay Charana Dasa at New Vrindaban Communications.
***
Q: What do want to accomplish with your cd’s and books?
SKd: I see my work as a bridge in presenting Krishna Consciousness to the general public. Through my storytelling programs, books, cds and slide shows, I want to do two things: present it in a way to inspire devotees and to make Krishna Consciousness interesting and relevant to people in general.
Q: You recently won a Storytelling World Resource Award for your CD Hanuman’s Quest. What did this mean to you?
SKd. I’ve been involved with the national storytelling community for 25 years now. At one time I was the West Virginia liaison for the National Storytelling Network. I’m also with the WV Storytelling Guild. So it’s certainly an honor to be recognized in the field of my peers.  Besides the international storytelling community, the Storytelling World Resource Awards are also of great interest to teachers who use storytelling in the classroom.  The Awards are a way of acknowledging  important resources for these communities.
Q; You are also an award-winning writer and storyteller. Which do you identify with more?
SKd: Whether you’re focused on the written word or the spoken word, it’s all about storytelling. My background is in the performing arts. I enjoy being in front of people. But I also  enjoy writing and the challenges it presents. I enjoy using whatever creativity I have in Krishna’s service. Basically we are all creative beings. People need to be encouraged to connect with that and use it in Krishna’s service.
Q: So what's your secret about storytelling?  
   
SKd:  First of all, storytelling is a vital tool for anyone who wants to present Krishna Consciousness. Srimad Bhagavatam, Mahabharata, Ramayana – these books depict transcendental knowledge through  stories and they are especially meant for us conditioned souls of the Kaliyuga.  Basically, storytelling is about using words to create images and action. Images can impact people's minds. Ideas and concepts only to a lesser extent.   In Krishna Book, Prabhupada explains that we have a natural aptitude to hear stories through reading literature and seeing dramatic performances. When we redirect our hearing to Krishna’s pastimes we can more easily attain transcendence.

Q: Why do you think you won this award?    

SKd:  For one thing, the story of Hanuman is a fantastic, engaging story.  And Hanuman is an endearing personality.  Also, the musical background on the CD really compliments the storytelling, and I think that  helped sway the judges' decision.   The exciting musical score is by Tommy Raga and Sada Ruchi. Sada Ruchi also did the recording and mixing. I am indebted to them. 

Q: But what did you bring to the telling?

SKd: Krishna has kindly helped me develop a dramatic sensibility. The elements of tension and suspense; of creating a scene or character with a minimum amount of description; of pacing and moving the story along in a clear and concise way which the listener can easily grasp. These are all part of the storyteller's, and  the writer's, craft.

Q: When did you know you had this talent?

SKd: Well, you didn't really know. Uncertainty can be a compelling force. It keeps you on your toes. But just like a carpenter - you do have to know the tools of your craft. You have to work at it. You have to sweat. You have to piece it together. It's both a craft and an art. And finally you have to pray that it all comes out right. Man proposes. God disposes.

Q: Do you have anything in the works you would like to share with us?
SKd: For the 50th celebrations,  both last year and this year, I’ve focused on taking my slide show Journey To The West: Why & How the Hare Krishna Movement Came to America to colleges and other venues.  I’m also working on two new books. I have nothing to say about them at this point. Usually, I like to have a few things in the works that I can bounce back and forth to.
Q: Thank you for sharing your craft with us.
SKd: And you know, I want to offer more workshops and coaching sessions to pass this craft along to others. Thank you.

Photo: My recent dramatic storytelling performance of Mahabharata at University of Cincinnati


For more information on my award-winning  CD and book visit  www.Mahabharata-Project.com