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

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
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