Thursday, April 23, 2015

Our Universal Family

 ‘“Nonhuman animals do not have legal rights any more than they have legal responsibilities,” said Bob Kohn, a technology lawyer in Manhattan who has filed briefs opposing efforts to secure human rights for chimps and other animals. “For a court to hold otherwise would have tremendous adverse legal and moral implications for mankind.”’          

And later in the article….
‘Ms. Prosin said her group (Nonhuman Rights Project) was saying not that animals were people, but that they were “autonomous beings, who are self-aware and self-directed.”’  
--- From the April 21, 2015 NY Times - “Judge Orders Stony Brook University to Defend Its Custody of 2 Chimps” by  Jesse McKinley. 

One no longer has an excuse to be ignorant on this topic. Simply by scanning the many posts and clips on the internet  we can directly see the dealings between humans and animals, and animals and animals, even between different species. New books have appeared and research has been done exploring  the intelligence and the emotional capabilities of animals.

The sages of India tell us that animals are like our young children. Bob Kohn should know that our two or three years olds have no legal responsibilities and yet we have both a legal and moral obligation to care for them.  Animals also are sentient beings who show affection and experience happiness, fear and pain.

In the pages of Srimad Bhagavatam (7:14:9), written thousands of years ago,  it is explained, “One should treat animals such as deer, camels, asses, monkeys, mice, snakes, birds and flies exactly like one's own son. How little difference there actually is between children and these innocent animals.”

The rights of humans, of the unborn, and of animals, in one sense, all goes hand in hand. Spiritual awareness is a matter of education and knowledge, to understand that all life holds a soul and that we are all connected.

People are conditioned to think, "I don't need to care about that one because they are not of my race, or my religion, or nationality, or my species." In this way we create excuses to kill, harm or neglect others. To acknowledge the rights of all creatures and to see them as part of our greater  universal family is the beginning of civilized culture. 

Later in the Srimad Bhagavatam (11: 7:33-35), it goes beyond this to explain that the animals, the environment and the elements (i.e. the earth and mountains, sky, water, fire, spiders, pigeons, deer, elephants) are also our teachers. The materialists only want to exploit these things to increase their wealth and derive pleasures. Unfortunately, they wander in the world, rarely going beyond this narrow mindset. In the meantime the earth is being torn apart and life forms are being decimated, just to increase the wealth of a very small fraction of the population.

But the introspective souls see all things as part of a greater educational process.  They seek to respect all life. They are awed and humbled by the world around them. In this way, we can gradually learn to see the hand of God working in all beings and in all situations.

My award-winning book at 

Monday, March 2, 2015

Caitanya Mahaprabhu - 2 of 5

In Navadvipa, Caitanya began the Sankirtana Movement at the beginning of the 16th century. It immediately created a spiritual revolution, bringing together people from all walks of life and different religious traditions.  Caitanya designated Hari Das Thakura, who was a Muslim, as the Namacharya – master of the holy name. For hundreds years Navadvipa had been  a center of learning and scholarship. In his youth, Caitanya was a well known prodigy, and already a teacher within the academic community. When the British arrived over two hundred years later they dubbed the area the “Oxford of Bengal.” Navadvipa means the place of “nine islands.” There, the Ganges, had teamed with fresh water, river dolphins. The river is sacred to all Indians. It originates high in the Himalayas and flows for 1500 miles. In Navadvipa the river meanders passed rice and wheat fields and passed coconut and papayas groves, and finally spills  into the Bay of Bengal. 

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Sunday, March 1, 2015

Caitanya Mahaprabhu 1 of 5

The appearance day (birthday) of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is coming up this Thursday – March 5. Caitanya (1486-1534) inaugurated the Sankirtana Movement just over 500 years ago. Sankirtana is the public chanting of sacred mantras.  At that time,  the district of Navadvip in West Bengal was ruled by the Muslim governor – Chand Kazi – who had received complaints from both Muslims and Hindus alike about this sankirtana activity. The Kazi outlawed the chanting and imposed sever penalties on anyone who did not abide by the restriction. As a protest, and  hundreds of years before Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr,  Caitanya organized the first massive, civil disobedience in recorded history. 

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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Krishna, The Gita, and Dharma

The Bhagavad-gita is considered by many sages and scholars to be the essence of all Vedic knowledge. It was spoken five thousand years ago by Lord Krishna to the warrior, prince Arjuna.  This  discourse is one of the most profound philosophical literatures in the canon of the world’s religious texts. It takes place  right before a monumental battle.  The whole story is very dramatic and is contained in the epic Mahabharata,  the classic of ancient India. The Mahabharata is eight times longer than the Iliad and Odyssey combined.  It tells about the rulers of those times and, in doing so, describes the qualities of genuine leadership and the importance of understanding Dharma.

Krishna had appeared  on the earth at the request of  Bhumi – Mother Earth – as well as the demi-gods,  in order to save the earth from the demoniac kings who sought to plunder this world.  Krishna had originality taught the principles of Dharma to the sun-god Vivasvan, millions upon millions of years earlier.  Now he had descended to the earth to re-establish those principles in the midst of turmoil.

Bhagavad gita means “The Song of God.”  Therein, Krishna describes to Arjuna  the various paths of yoga, and also the very goal of yoga. He describes karma yoga, jnana yoga, astanga yoga, and bhakti yoga. He describes the three modes of material nature (goodness, passion, ignorance) and their effect upon the living entities. He describes the divine and demoniac natures. Krishna describes the process of renunciation and transcendence. In the Gita, Krishna reveals that He is none other than the Supreme Godhead Himself.     

In one sense Arjuna is the proverbial everyman.  Krishna is offering this teaching to him as well as to all of us.  But why does Krishna specifically offer the teaching to Arjuna?  Because Arjuna is “not envious” and “seeks to be a friend to all living beings.”  In our lives, we also have to strive for this. In that way, we can turn jnana (knowledge)  into vijnana (realized knowledge).

In the end, Krishna tells  Arjuna – “I have given you this confidential knowledge, now reflect on it, and do what you think is best.”   Krishna goes on to expllain that anyone who studies and reflects upon this sacred text of Bhagavad Gita  worships God by the use of their intelligence.

Sankirtana Das (ACBSP) is a sacred storyteller, workshop leader and author of the  award-winning  Mahabharata: The Eternal Quest.  See  -

Friday, February 6, 2015

Journey to the West

People never tire of  hearing about bold adventures and journeys.  There’s the Pandava’s pilgrimage during their exile, the story of the Odyssey, the Wizard of Oz, Lord of the Rings,  and even Jack Kerouac’s On The Road.  This entire year marks the  50th anniversary of Srila Prabhupada’s  journey to the West at the advanced age of 70.  How he hitched a ride on a freighter. How he brought with him the Mahamantra and the Srimad Bhagavatam.  And how he  came to fulfill a 500 year old prophecy.  So we have an opportunity to captivate listeners with this remarkable story. I’ve put a presentation together for myself to present to visitors here and to take to colleges and  venues in the tri-state area around New Vrindavan. I request everyone to take special advantage of  2015 to share Prabhupada’s story.

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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Karma Busting

Nothing is more karma busting, 
nor more inspirational, 
nor transformative, 
than to find a true servant, 
and then to serve the servants of that servant. 

Sunday, January 25, 2015

The Miracle Food

About a mile down the road from me, at the New Vrindaban Dairy, I get a half gallon of whole milk fresh from the cows. Here’s a pic of Ananda Vidya, the cowherd guy. He and/or his wife milk seven cows daily like clockwork, at 7:30 in the morning and 6 in the evening. The cows produce close to 25 gallons a day. Usually they give milk for 2 or 3 years. One cow gave milk for over 5 years. This is because they feel calm, happy and protected. One thing about milk - for kids its great, but as you get older it's better to cut back. If you have problems getting to sleep, best to have a piping hot cup in the evening (with a little honey) before retiring - this creates a sound and restful sleep.

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