Monday, June 27, 2011

Good over Evil: A Prayer for Transformation



  • Yajurveda mantra 30/3

~~  O Bestower of all Pleasures, Stimulator and Creator Lord! We pray to Thee to dispel all evils and miseries and bestow upon us whatever is virtuous and blessed. ~~

~~ O' Yee the Creator of the entire universe, may Thou dispel all our vices and may Thou help us to achieve all that is good and beneficial. ~~

Om= the Supreme Name of the Supreme Self
vishwani = all (the whole universe)
deva = O God!
savitah = stimulous lord; God of the Sun (creator of the universe)
duritani = Whatever is bad; all evils and hindrances
parasuva = drive it out (like ringing a wet cloth)
yat = whatever
bhadram = auspicious, blissful (whatever is good)
tat = that (all that is good)
nah = to us
asuva = give in plenty

O Almighty God, the Giver of every thing in and around our life, and Creator of the universe, please remove all of my vices and instill in me all the propitious. Vices like laziness, anger, envy, pride, etc., and Propitious like services to the teachers, parents & elders; efforts to gain spiritual knowledge and inspiration to donate towards the right path.

In this Mantra, by saying the word 'Duritani' -we request God to remove all our depravities and imperfections from within that make us proud, unindustrious, and angry. By saying the word 'Bhadaram', we request God to give us knowledge to get rid of all the evil, by virtue of which we can get all the happiness in this life and get closer to achieving Moksha (Eternal Bliss - liberation from the cycle of death and rebirth). As per Vedas, Praying to God every day has a lot of power and God always listens to the prayers we make, either through Ved-mantras recited during Yajna or when in meditation and respite, or even during our daily chores. However, on our part, it is best to synchronize the prayers with

  • Yoga practice – both active and passive
  • Pranayam– Rythmic Breathing Practice
  • Dhyan- Meditation,
  • performing YajnaHavan (the holy fire and the ingredients of samigri, that are put into it, cleanse and destroy impurities in the atmosphere), and
  • engaging the mind in virtuous deeds,

to get rid of the wrong inside and derive Happiness.

Practically, when one prays to the Almighty for dispelling the evil inside, he is actually making an effort to spiritually increase resistance and power within. This would enable him to embody a capacity to absorb the pains, and overcome them by tuning to the positivity around. No matter how dire the circumstances are, one would be able to make the right decisions to stay on the righteous path.


This was the favorite mantra of Mahrishi Dayanand Sarasvati. He has quoted this mantra at the beginning of every chapter in his commentary on the Vedas by praying to the Lord to bestow upon him, His Divine Grace and remove any obstructions in the path of completing his sacred task. The theme of the mantra reveals the universality of the Vedas. This prayer is free from the narrow boundaries of sects and creed. Acharyas used to recite this mantra everyday before starting their daily work to dispel all the difficulties and hindrances from their path.

God has numerous attributes and they are reflected in various names, which are used to describe Him. The first attribute mentioned in this mantra is 'Deva'. Sage Yaska interprets 'Deva' as 'Devo Danad Va', i.e., God is described as a Bestower. The second attribute is 'Savita' which means stimulator, generator or creator.

The road of life is a mixture of hope and despair, success and failure, obstruction and smoothness. Sometimes, we reach the crossroads of complex problems and feel that the solution of these problems is out of reach. However, voices from our inner mind shake us, as if someone is shaking our shoulders and saying – O traveler! Caraivaiti (strive to achieve higher and higher values; strive to obtain human ends), carry on and on. Do we recognize that this voice comes from the Lord, who is our stimulator? In this mantra a devotee is not asking for worldly possessions but on the contrary, praying for blessing of stimulation.

The devotees' prayer for stimulation is to get rid of 'Duritani', i.e., to dispel our all miseries and evils and ask graciously to provide us with that happiness which is absolutely free from all pain. In the context of human life, this word has a wider sense. 'Duritani' covers all those factors, which create obstacles in our path to achieve our noble aims, whether they are due to our ignorance, greed, laziness, evil habits or disfavor of other elements in our lives. A devotee prays to God for help, guidance, stimulation and to be free from evil thoughts and actions.

This is the process of life when evils are dispelled; virtue, nobility, merit and purity automatically follow in our hearts.

-Prayers of Yajna

Here is a poetic version of this beautiful Sanskrit mantra in Hindi:

Tu Sarvesh Sakal Sukh Daataa

Sukh Swaroop vidhata hai

Uske kasht nasht ho jaate

Sharan teri jo aataa hai

Saare durgun durvaysno se

humko naath bacha leeje

Mangalmaya gun karm swabhav

prem sindhu humko deeje


May God Bless and the World be a better place to live.

The Vedic way to preserving environment

The Vedic way to preserving environment

Vaishnavi Sanoj

June 5, 2011 was decided to be celebrated as world environment day by the United Nations General Assembly in 1972. And the number of NGOs and private organisations working for the cause of environment protection has dramatically increased in India too in the last two decades. With all these positive signs of awareness, let us examine our old cultures too.

India is the home of Vedic culture, which is over 5,000 years old and the Panchamahayajna (the five great sacrifices), has been a vital part of this culture. The Panchamahayajna are Brahmayajna, Devayajna, Pitrayajna, Atithiyajna and Balivaishyadevayajna.

Brahmayajna relates to daily prayer to the Almighty, study of the Vedas and other spiritual scriptures. In today's context even if you're an atheist still finding some time for meditation on, say, the breath (which does not need any more proof of existence) and reading some positive, motivational scriptures can do a lot of good to the mental environment called mind.

Devayajna is about performing sacrifices to devas, in ancient terms it is called havan. Though this might sound like purely religious and pertaining to Hinduism, the positive effect of such havans on atmosphere and society in general is ample. Agnihotra is one such devayajna which has now come to the limelight of scientists and various studies regarding its effect on atmosphere and the vegetation around is in progress. In short, devayajnas promised the purity of one's intellect, mind, body and most importantly the atmosphere.

Pitryajna is nothing but giving due respect and taking adequate care of one's parents and elders of the family. This also includes proper upbringing of one's progeny. Had this culture been upheld properly, then there would have been no old-age homes and orphanages in India.

Atithiyajna, as the name suggests, pertains to respecting and serving one's visitors. The Vedic list of visitors included any truthful, pious soul. All saints, sages and learned people fell under this category. Forget the learned souls, today we have degraded ourselves so much that Amir Khan along with 'Incredible India' has to occasionally remind us about the slogan 'Athithi devo bhava' and that our tourist visitors are a cause for huge income.

Balivaishyadevayajna requires that one be compassionate and responsible to all other fellow species. If we humans had executed this yajna dutifully then, words like extinct species and endangered species would not have entered our lexicon.

Speak of protecting the environment and the Vedic culture has listed five yajnas (sacrifices) which is to be performed dutifully and the result is enrichment of the absolute environment including one's mind, body, society, atmosphere, relationships and the fellow species. As Indians, we should always keep these five principles in our mind and mould our children such that they understand its importance, our culture and perform these five major duties without fail.

The true celebration of the world environment day would be when the old-age homes, orphanages and welfare associations are shut down having no need to exist.
In conclusion, I would like to remind you of Dr. Abdul Kalam's words: "Ancient India was a knowledge society that contributed a great deal to civilization. We need to recover the status and become a knowledge power. Spirituality must be integrated with education. We should ignite our dormant inner energy and let it guide our lives. The radiance of such minds embarked on constructive endeavour will bring peace, prosperity, and bliss to the nation."

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Bhakti Sanga Development – Srila Gurudeva on Harmony

Bhakti Sanga Development – Srila Gurudeva on Harmony

by Swami BV Nemi

There is quite a bit of discussion just now about Srila Gurudeva's instruction on harmony. Syamarani Didi and I started working on a book of Srila Gurudeva's lectures on this subject. In the course of that we took some really choice, succinct instructions, and made a small booklet, which was distributed freely during Kartika. This is like an appetizer for the larger book, which will be available within a few months.

Here are four guidelines taken from Srila Gurudeva's instructions. If we would only agree to follow these guidelines in their relationships with each other, how happy and dynamic our Sanga would be!

1.    We should listen to each other and understand each other, instead of imposing our own mood.

2.    We should help and support each other, instead of taking from each other.

3.    We should appreciate each other, instead of criticising and offending each other.

4.    We should tolerate each other, instead of manipulating and controlling each other.

Srila Gurudeva himself emphasized the importance of following these instructions.

"We should try to follow all of these principles. This is the ground-level – the platform – of bhakti. If the platform is not made, then all these showers of instructions (hari-katha) may come but they will not remain with you."

Srila Gurudeva even said that we should have a school for teaching devotee association  and relationships.

"We must not be angry and upset about disturbing occurrences. A school should be established for the purpose of teaching this. Meetings and classes may be held fortnightly, weekly, or on the occasion of any festival. This is done for association, and for developing love and affection towards each other. Sometimes one prabhu can give class, sometimes another. Everyone can benefit from these classes. There should be harmony; this is most essential. By harmony you will be successful."

Suppose that, within our sanga, a group of devotees committed to following these guidelines. That group would be harmonious and powerful, both in terms of achieving goals on our servers, and also in advancing in bhakti.

Here are some of Srila Gurudeva's instructions on these points.

(1) We should listen to each other and understand each other, instead of imposing our own mood.

"We should try to understand the suffering of another. We should try to keep our own mood concealed, and try to accept and hear the other person's mood. We should try to understand the happiness and distress of another. We should give up our own moods and hear the other person's moods. Then, together, we can consider what to do. If we do not hear the other person's mood, but rather keep our own mood prominent, this is not called 'association'."

(2) We should help and support each other, instead of taking from each other.

"Try to give your whole being. Love has nothing to take, but everything to give. If your aim and objective is to preach the love and affection of ?r? Caitanya Mah?prabhu, try to give yourself to others. Your whole life should be dedicated for the welfare of others. They will reciprocate that love and give their life to serve K???a. They will not offer their love and affection if you are trying to control them."
"The first thing is that if you want to show love to others, do not cause them any pain or suffering, or burden them for your personal happiness or maintenance. Your first concern should be the happiness and satisfaction of others."

(3) We should appreciate each other, instead of criticising and offending each other.

"It is very important that we don't focus on anyone's faults. Look at their good qualities. We have to absorb these qualities in ourselves. We must take the association of Vai??avas who are superior to us and who have the mood we want. Then we can attain bhakti."
"Also, while we are chanting, remembering and engaging in devotional services, we should protect ourselves so that we do not commit offenses to others. Otherwise, those offences will spoil everything. All our endeavours will be wasted and go in the garbage can. So we should try not to offend anyone, and we should always honour all."
"If you chastise Vaishnavas, not honouring them, and at the same time you are doing so abundant service to Gurudeva, Gurudeva will not accept your service."
"If lust or any other attachment is present in that person's heart it will go away very soon, if he is chanting and remembering and listening to hari-katha. Be very careful. Don't criticize devotees – or non-devotees. First look at your own condition, and try to purify yourself. Is there any lust in you? Is there any deceit in you, or not? Be worried for that; don't worry for others. Sri Guru and Lord Sri Krishna are responsible for others. You cannot do anything to help them, so you have no right to criticize."

(4) We should tolerate each other, instead of manipulating and controlling each other.

"If any problems come, try to reconcile it. You should think, 'It is due to my past karma', or, 'Krishna wants to test me and to operate on me.' – these two things.
"We want to associate with everyone on the platform of love and affection, not by controlling others. You cannot bring someone to Krishna's service by manipulating or controlling them. You cannot even control your own mind, what to speak of others'. Don't try to control others by your order or your mind."
"Gurudeva can control. He is a controller, and Krishna, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and Sri Nityananda Prabhu are controllers. We should think, "I am not the controller. I should be controlled by Them. I should try to control myself." In this way we should try to develop our Krishna consciousness."

Friday, June 17, 2011

Slaughtering animals, crime, & societal health

Phillip Danforth Armour (1832-1901) is today remembered only for the meatpacking company he founded,  but in his own time was lauded for allegedly contributing to the progress of civilization by moving animal slaughter out of sight,  smell,  and sound of women,  children, and decent men.

Born into an upstate New York farming family,  Armour drove barge-hauling mules alongside the Chenango Canal in his teens,  then walked all the way to California at age 19 to join the Gold Rush.  He soon discovered that more gold was to be made by starting a Placerville butcher shop than in mining.

Returning east with savings of $8,000, Armour founded a pig slaughtering business in Milwaukee in 1867,  moved it to Chicago,  and within 20 years was killing more than 1.5 million pigs and cattle per year.  Though others shared in the invention of high-speed,  high-volume mechanized slaughter,  Armour more than anyone else is credited with conceptualizing the "disassembly line,"  leading to the rise of industrial slaughter.

This was considered a significant advance for many reasons beyond merely making meat more accessible and affordable to urban Americans. Concentrating stockyards and slaughter at a single location served by railways helped to make cities more tolerable places to live than when livestock were driven through the streets,  the odors and screaming of animals assailed senses and sensibilities in every neighborhood,  blood flowed through the gutters,  and offal heaps were dumped for dogs and pigs to scavenge in vacant lots and alleys–as continues in much of the developing world.  The term "shambles" originated in 16th century Britain to describe the place where slaughter was done,  and remains a common description of disreputable properties.

Removing slaughter from the local commercial districts serving residential neighborhoods also removed slaughtermen,  whose working practices and recreational pursuits, including brawling,  public drunkenness,  and gambling on animal fights,  had already been widely decried by humanitarian reformers for more than a century before Armour's time. Bull-baiting,  in particular,  had evolved directly from the medieval European practice of using bulldogs to hold cattle while their throats were cut,  and contributed to the development of dogfighting.  Cockfighting was also a "sport" of butchers and their suppliers.  Though gambling and animal fights had been banned in many communities since Puritan times,  they tended to remain ubiquitous until after slaughter was banished to the margins of cities.

Phillip Armour toward the end of his life attracted the fawning attention of Orison Swett Marden (1850-1924),  a prolific author of self-help books.   "It is after business hours, not in them,  that men break down,"  asserted Marden in Cheerfulness as a Life Power (1899). "Men must,  like Philip Armour,  turn the key on business when they leave it,  and at once unlock the doors of some wholesome recreation."

Marden wrote of how Armour personally distanced himself from slaughter at the very height of the 1898-1899 tainted beef scandal involving the Armour slaughter empire that inspired Upton Sinclair (1878-1968) to author The Jungle,  a novelized exposé of the slaughter industry published in 1906,  five years after Armour's death.

Observed Sinclair,  "Men who have to crack the heads of animals all day seem to get into the habit,  and to practice on their friends,  and even on their families,  between times.  This makes it a cause for congratulation that by modern methods a very few men can do the painfully necessary work of headcracking for the whole of the cultured world."

Industrializing the mayhem moved it out of the daily experience of most people,  but scarcely changed the psychological effects of killing animals,  quantified in our own time by Amy J. Fitzgerald of the University of Windsor and Linda Kalof and Thomas Dietz of Michigan State University in a 2009 study entitled Slaughterhouses and Increased Crime Rates:  An Empirical Analysis of the Spillover From "The Jungle" Into the Surrounding Community, published in the journal Organization & Environment.

"More than 100 years after Upton Sinclair denounced the massive slaughterhouse complex in Chicago as a 'jungle,'  qualitative case study research has documented numerous negative effects of slaughterhouses on workers and communities," Fitzgerald,  Kalof,  and Dietz opened.  "Of the social problems observed in these communities, the increases in crime have been particularly dramatic.  These increases have been theorized as being linked to the demographic characteristics of the workers,  social disorganization in the communities,  and increased unemployment rates. But these explanations have not been empirically tested,  and no research has addressed the possibility of a link between the increased crime rates and the violent work that takes place in the meatpacking industry."

Therefore Fitzgerald,  Kalof,  and Dietz did a complex set of statistical comparisons of the demographic variables in 581 counties from 1994 to 2002,  compared to the FBI's Uniform Crime Report database.  "The findings,"  they concluded,  "indicate that slaughterhouse employment increases total arrest rates,  arrests for violent crimes,  arrests for rape,  and arrests for other sex offenses in comparison with other industries.  This suggests the existence of a 'Sinclair effect' unique to the violent workplace of the slaughterhouse,  a factor that has not previously been examined in the sociology of violence."

Findings parallel hunting studies

Fitzgerald,  Kalof,  and Dietz used similar methods and some of the same raw demographic and crime data that ANIMAL PEOPLE used in a 1994-1995 set of comparisons of hunting license sales with child abuse convictions in the 232 counties of New York state,  Ohio,  and Michigan.  The initial study,  covering the 62 counties of New York state,  found that in 21 of 22 direct comparisons between counties of almost identical population density,  the county with the most hunters also had the most child molesting.  Twenty-eight of the 32 New York counties with rates of child molesting above the state median also had more than the median rate of hunting.  The second ANIMAL PEOPLE study demonstrated that among the 88 counties of Ohio, those with more than the median number of hunters per 100,000 residents had 51% more reported child abuse,  including 15% more physical violence, 82% more neglect,  33% more sexual abuse,  and 14% more emotional maltreatment.  The third ANIMAL PEOPLE study found that Michigan children were nearly three times as likely to be neglected and twice as likely to be physically abused or sexually assaulted if they lived in a county with either an above average or above median rate of hunting participation.

ANIMAL PEOPLE concluded that the parallels prevalent in all three states support a hypothesis that both hunting and child abuse reflect the degree to which a social characteristic called dominionism prevails in a particular community.   Stephen Kellert,  in a 1980 study commissioned by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in part to discover effective defenses of hunting,  defined dominionism as an attitude in which "primary satisfactions [are] derived from mastery or control over animals," a definition which other investigators extended to include the exercise of "mastery or control" over women and children.  Kellert–a hunter who for 30 years has struggled to deny the import of his findings–reported that the degree of dominionism in the American public as a whole rated just 2.0 on a scale of 18.  Humane society members rated only 0.9.  Recreational hunters, however,  rated from 3.8 to 4.1,  while trappers scored 8.5.

Fitzgerald,  Kalof,  and Dietz found much the same tendencies in their study of slaughtering and crime,  including "sexual attacks on males,  incest,  indecent exposure, statutory rape,  and 'crimes against nature,'" they reported.  "Many of these offenses are perpetrated against those with less power," Fitzgerald,  Kalof,  and Dietz noted.  "We interpret this as evidence that that the work done within slaughterhouses might spillover to violence against other less powerful groups, such as women and children.

Stunned hog on the conveyor of death.

"The use of the term spillover here derives from the cultural spillover of violence theory developed by Larry Baron and Murray Straus (in 1987-1988),"  Fitzgerald,  Kalof,  and Dietz explained.  "The central tenet of this theory is that the more a society tends to endorse the use of physical force to attain socially approved ends-such as order in the schools,  crime control, and military dominance–the greater the likelihood that this legitimization of force will be generalized to other spheres in life,  such as the family and relations between the sexes, where force is less approved socially.  Although the authors did not specifically discuss the slaughter of animals as part of this process,  we argue that it is a possibility."

Concluded Fitzgerald,  Kalof,  and Dietz, "The results presented here therefore demonstrate significant and unique effects of slaughterhouse employment on several crime variables.  These effects are not found in [other industries with a demographically comparable workforce],  and they cannot be explained by unemployment, social disorganization,  and demographic variablesŠIn particular,  our results lend support to the argument,  first articulated by Sinclair,  that the industrial slaughterhouse is different in its effects from other industrial facilities.  We believe that this is another of a growing list of social problems and phenomena that are undertheorized unless explicit attention is paid to the social role of nonhuman animals."

Temple Grandin found hints

Ironically,  much as research meant to help promote hunting produced hints pointing toward the association of hunting with crimes against children,  research commissioned by the slaughter industry pointed more than 20 years ago toward the association of slaughter with violent crime and crimes of sexual exploitation.

Summarized Colorado State University professor of psychology and animal science Temple Grandin in her 1988 Anthrozoos commentary Behavior of Slaughter Plant & Auction Employees toward the Animals,  "Abuses of animals at auctions and slaughter plants occur often.  In 1984,  an investigator was hired to make unannounced visits on sale day at 51 livestock markets in 11 southeastern statesŠ32% had either rough handling or acts of cruelty.  Twenty-five federally inspected U.S. and Canadian slaughter plants were visited by the author between 1975 and 1987,"  at which eight had "acts of deliberate cruelty occurring on a regular basis." At three others Grandin observed "rough handling occurring as a routine practice."

Found Grandin,  "Approximately 4% of the employees directly involved with livestock committed acts of deliberate cruelty,"  while "In some poorly managed plants and auctions over half the employees engaged in rough treatment of animals.  Personal observations indicate that severe rough handling,  abuse, and neglect on farms,  ranches, markets,  and feedlots have remained at a steady 10% to 15% of operations for the last ten years over the entire United States."

Grandin was optimistic,  based on results from slaughterhouses where she was able to personally initiate programs to reduce sadism and rough animal handling,  that the problems she saw could be remedied.  But Grandin noted psychological tendencies among slaughter workers which had been familiar to Sinclair–and probably to Armour,  whose habit of distancing himself from his work after business hours Marden approvingly cited.

"The most common management psychology is simply denial of the reality of killing," observed Grandin.  "Managers will use words such as 'dispatching' and 'processing' to avoid this reality.  The people who actually do the killing in slaughter plants have three different approaches to their jobs.  These are the mechanical approach, the sadistic approach,  and the sacred ritual approach.  These approaches usually are observed only in the people who actually do the killing or who drive the animal up the chute.  The mechanical attitude is most common. The person doing the killing approaches his job as if he was stapling boxes moving along a conveyer belt."

Recommended Grandin in conclusion,  "It is important to rotate the employees who do the killing,  bleeding,  shackling,  and driving. Nobody should kill animals all the time.  Several plant managers and supervisors state that rotation helps prevent employees from becoming sadistic.  The author has worked many full shifts driving livestock and operating the kill chute at slaughter plants.  Rotation every few hours between the kill chute and driving cattle up the chute made it easier to maintain a humane attitude.  It is also easier to maintain a good attitude in plants with a slower line speed.  At 1,000 hogs per hour it is almost impossible to handle the hogs properly.  The constant pressure to keep up with the line leads to abuse. Maintaining respect for animals is much harder at 1,000 hogs per hour compared to 500 hogs per hour."

But even Armour's slaughter lines worked at what would now be considered very slow line speeds.  At slower line speeds,  employees may be able to work more precisely,  causing less suffering to each animal they kill,  if they make this a priority,  but the underlying psychological issue is still the cumulative effect of taking lives,  at whatever speed and in whatever environment.

The butchers who used bulldogs at the London shambles when the Royal SPCA was founded in 1824 usually killed just one or two animals per day.  Recreational deer hunters typically kill only one or two animals per year,  yet the association of hunting with spillover into violence against children was starkly clear in the ANIMAL PEOPLE studies.

Ultimately the question is whether killing animals can ever be done without emotional consequence to those who do the killing,  regardless of the purpose and regardless of the approach of the person doing the killing.

Phil Arkow in The Humane Society & the Human Animal Bond:  Reflections on the Broken Bond (1985) quantified the psychological effects of killing dogs and cats on shelter workers. Killing nearly five times more dogs and cats then than now,  shelter workers mostly took what Grandin described as the "sacred ritual approach,"  and still do.

Shelter workers have rarely ever been involved in violent crimes against anyone else, but in the mid-1980s had rates of alcoholism, other substance abuse,  clinical depression,  and suicide comparable to those of Vietnam War combat veterans.  The introduction of psychological counseling programs for shelter workers may have helped,  but post-traumatic stress among shelter workers has receded mainly coincidental with shelters killing far fewer animals.

There is now widespread public recognition that killing fewer dogs and cats at animal shelters,  for whatever cause,  is an indication of progress toward becoming a healthier society,  in which life and well-being are more highly valued.

There is also increasingly broad public recognition of the need to improve the welfare of farmed animals,  indicated by the success of pro-farm animal welfare ballot initiatives, petitions seeking to place more such initiatives before voters,  and expanding commercial interest in labeling products as humanely produced.

Though many of these measures fall disappointingly far short of achieving the substantive improvements they promise,  that they are advancing at all is a remarkable turnabout from the century-plus of "out of sight,  out of mind" attitudes toward farmed animals that Phillip Armour introduced.

Yet most of humanity has not so far recognized that killing fewer animals to eat–or best,  none–would also contribute to becoming a healthier society,  both physically and psychologically.  Much research,  before Fitzgerald,  Kalof,  and Dietz,  pointed toward positive effects on physical health from not eating animals.  Now studies of the societal health effects of killing animals as an industry have begun.

As academic papers stereotypically conclude,  "More study is necessary,"  since no one study will sway the world.  But relevant questions are at last under examination.

Veteran journalist Merritt Clifton serves as editor in chief of ANIMAL PEOPLE, the only professional, independent publication devoted to the coverage of ecoanimal issues.

P.O. Box 960
Clinton,  WA  98236
Telephone:  360-579-2505
Picture credits: Gail Eisnitz & Compassionate Action for Animals

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Vamadeva and Shambhavi 2011 Upcoming Programs

Vamadeva and Shambhavi 2011 Upcoming Programs

June 2-5: Journey Into Healing with the Chopra Center - Asheville, North Carolina. Vamadeva and Shambhavi will join Deepak Chopra and his staff for their Ayurvedic training program including special classes on the Wisdom of Herbs and Tonification and Rejuvenation. Vamadeva has taught regularly with the Chopra center over the last fifteen years and helps with their Ayurvedic Practitioner Training as well.

June 22-26: Mantra Yoga and Primal Sound - Yogaville, Virginia. Special program with Vamadeva and Shambhavi based upon Dr. Frawley's most recent best selling book and Shambhavi's Yogini Bhava mantra CD. Will explore deeper practices of bija mantras, pranayama, and meditation rarely taught in the West, with reference to Veda, Tantra, Ayurveda and Vedic astrology. Will be our most extensive teaching program in the United States this year.

August 19-21: Toronto Yoga Festival - Toronto, Ontario, Canada: Dr. Frawley and Yogini Shambhavi will give a series of keynote talks and classes on Yoga, Shakti, Ayurveda, Vedic Astrology and Hinduism as part of an important conference featuring a number of important speakers and teachers from throughout the world and from Canada.

September 9-11: Omega Institute, Awakening Yoga Shakti - Awaken the cosmic forces of Shiva and Shakti that pervade the universe, and discover your innate powers of health, balance, and transformation. Vedic scholar and teacher David Frawley (Pandit Vamadeva Shastri) and Yogini Shambhavi Chopra share secrets of the spiritual sciences of Tantra, yoga, Ayurveda, and Vedic astrology to awaken your yogic energy from within and allow the perception, development, and understanding of all your higher potentials.

Our Special Upcoming Retreats-----

Dec. 12-19: Hawaiian Yoga Shakti Program - Kauai, Hawaii: A special retreat at a beautiful newly opened private Kerala style retreat center on Kauai's beautiful North Shore. Limited to twenty people in Kerala style rooms. Special interaction with Vamadeva and Shambhavi and visits to sacred sites on the island and the Na Pali coast. Ayurvedic treatments available. Will be our first Yoga Shakti retreat in the United States and will reflect the same teachings and practices as our India programs.

March 7-13, 2012: Fifth Annual Ma Ganga Yoga Shakti Retreat - Rishikesh, India. Now open for early registration. At Neemrana resort fifteen miles north of Rishikesh with private access to the Ganga. Will include the beautiful Hindu festival of Holi (festival of colors) celebrated on the river itself as well as a day off for river rafting on the Ganga, along with classes, rituals, mantra and meditation to connect with the Shiva and Shakti energies of this region that is the homeland of classical Raja Yoga. Daily Ganga meditations and rituals.

March 13-21, 2012: Yogini Yatra Sacred Himalayan Tour - Ranikhet, India (near Almora). Now open for early registration. Guided pilgrimage to special temples and sacred sites in the Kumaon Himalayas seldom visited by westerners, including Jageshwar Shiva complex, Dunagiri Durga temple and Mahavatar Babaji's cave, along with special teachings from Vamadeva and Shambhavi on Yoga, Vedanta, Tantra and Vedic astrology, with special rituals, mantras and initiations into Shiva and Shakti worship.


June 2011 is a month of Karmic unravelling in many ways leading to an upsurge of all the recent planetary influences of this past year, notably the difficult transits of the past two months, following the strong conjunction of planets first in Pisces, then in Aries near the beginning of the zodiac. We experienced a mild partial Solar eclipse June 1 in Taurus.

The important total Lunar eclipse of June 15 in Scorpio is the one to observe. The Moon is debilitated in a Gandanta degree very close to Rahu unfolding powerful moments and experiences in our inner and outer worlds. It is a time to reconcile with our Karmic evolution through sadhana and propitiating the planetary Lords and our gurus and Devatas. Psychic sensitivities are highlighted and inner peace, equanimity and humor should be cultivated to counter this. The July 1 Solar eclipse should close the door on a lot of this prevailing turbulence.

Essential dates to watch for in June are:

June 6: the Lunar Nodes Rahu and Ketu both retrograde transit Abhukta Mula Gandanta, a stressful position as it unravels our deepest soul stirrings. The nodal axis shifts from Sagittarius-Gemini to Scorpio-Pisces. Yet it is a most powerful time to spiritualize our lives merging with the cosmic universe. Honoring the Shakti force allows us to work through this turmoil of the Goddess's Maya – the material life conjunct with our spiritual aspirations. Turbulence in reckoning with our emotions highlights this period with deep confrontation of our inner and outer reality, stirring the root foundations of our existence.
Abhukta translates as `unexperienced' and Mula means `root'. In our outer worldly experience this unfolds the past karmas which color our present life situation. Spiritualizing these planets guides us in moving beyond our weaknesses to contact our innate strengths.

This is the beginning of an 18 month long journey when Rahu and Ketu transit their debilitated positions in the Scorpio-Taurus axis, opening us to a lot of upheaval and personal reckoning. It can be translated into a deeper learning lesson of our essential karmic unfolding. Fortunately Saturn goes direct in Virgo June 13 and its difficult influences will begin to reduce.

Highlighting the planetary situation in June is Ketu, south node of the Moon which conjuncts with 3 planets in June.

Mercury –Ketu conjunct June 13 – for spiritualizing the mind
Sun –Ketu conjunct June 15 – for spiritualizing the self
Venus-Ketu conjunct June 30 – for spiritualizing the emotions

Use these days for special sadhana and propitiation of the planets to ease the stress. In my own experience as a sadhak Ketu is the `Inner Guru' who guides us to our higher self. So this is a great time to work at a deeper level conscientiously. Mantra Shakti is most powerful to help us move through these situations in life. Hold to the intrinsic faith that we can trust in the Universe to bestow upon us the divine grace of Shakti, the Mother Goddess.
 Jai Ma Guru!

A track from Yogini Shambhavi's CD


Enjoy a track from Yogini Shambhavi's CD.

Baba Prem

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Evolution of Consciousness at UCSC

Sri Sri Guru Gauranga Jayatah
Evolution of Consciousness at UCSC
  Audio mp3         
Transcendental Nectar of Sadhu-Sanga Under the holy association of Sripad Bhakti Madhava Puri Maharaja, Ph.D.

On May 18, 2011, Sripad B.M. Puri Maharaja, along with Sripad B.P. Janardan Maharaja, presented a lecture to the Bhakti Club at the University of California Santa Cruz. Entitled "The Evolution of Consciousness," an outline of the Vedic Theory of Evolution was presented and compared with the materialistic Darwinian conception. An excellent question and answer session followed. Follow the link above to view the lecture in its entirety.

Regular weekly Sadhu-Sanga is held on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 9 PM EST. Further details, including times in India and Skype access procedures, are available here.
Bhaktivedanta Institute    

Online Sadhu-Sanga Files