A Vision from the Heart

Blind from childhood, a man discovers devotional service to Krishna and a taste for chanting His holy names.

I first heard about Bilvamangala Thakura Dasa, who is blind, when I arrived at the ISKCON temple in Belgaum, Karnataka, where he lives. When I saw him at the early-morning mangala-arati, he was dancing and singing joyfully, and shouting "Gauranga!" and "Jaya Srila Prabhupada!" Later he sat down to chant his japa and after a short break joined in Guru-puja and the Bhagavatam class.

Learn from the Self-Controlled

Srila Prabhupada explains why real knowledge is gained by hearing from authoritative sources.

anyad evahur vidyaya
anyad ahur avidyaya
iti shushruma dhiranam
ye nas tad vichachakshire

"The wise have explained that one result is derived from the culture of knowledge and that a different result is obtained from the culture of nescience."
Sri Ishopanishad, Mantra 10

Kirtana-Yoga and the Maha-mantra

Why chanting Hare Krishna is the most fitting spiritual practice for our times.

Finding India's Spiritual Culture in America

An Indian immigrant in New York City discovers the brilliance of his native culture.

I am an Indian by origin, but I came to the U.S.A. as a graduate student in January of 1964. I was part of the first wave of immigrants from my country, and we all found this place very different. So many colors of people and so many types of landscape. Above all, there were so many opportunities. In America, even a janitor could own a car!

Cultivating an Empathetic Heart

Vaishnava compassion means sympathy for the suffering of others, along with knowledge of the ultimate remedy.

When I was doing my clinical psychotherapy internship in graduate school, a supervisor stressed connecting with our clients through realized empathy. Most of his interns came from privileged backgrounds, and he felt we needed more than just a theoretical understanding of our clients' pain.

Returning Home to Freedom

Krishna eagerly awaits our release from the prison of the material world.

"Oh, these ropes of desires are strange indeed! A person tightly bound by them runs all around seeking happiness, but one freed from them stays calmly in one place." (Niti-shastra)

"What's it like to go back home to Krishna?" wondered ten-year-old Kiran at the weekly gathering for children from our congregation.

I responded by speaking about Goloka Vrindavana, our real home, where we aspire to go after our tenure in this world.

Dangerous Education

Commenting on a primary Vedic text, Srila Prabhupada points out the risks of materialistic learning.

andham tamah pravishanti
ye 'vidyam upasate
tato bhuya iva te tamo
ya u vidyayam ratah

"Those who are engaged in the culture of nescient activities shall enter into the darkest region of ignorance. Worse still are those engaged in the so-called culture of knowledge." (Sri Ishopanishad, Mantra 9)

My Son Leads the Way

A concerned mother investigates her son's momentous life change.

At age nineteen, my son moved to Portland, Oregon, to live with a friend and his family. His goal was to be in a rock-and-roll band and become rich and famous. During this same time, my oldest daughter was getting ready to have her first child. When she went into labor, it was exciting, but the labor became long and difficult, with complications.

The Extra Plants

How to ensure the vigorous growth of the "vine of devotion."

Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita metaphorically describes love of God as a creeper, or vine. The following story is based on that metaphor. [See the sidebar "The Creeper of Devotion."]

I reared my head like a cobra, not to strike at someone but to catch the sun. Holding a jumbo glowing flower at the top of my green leaves, I dominated the garden with my presence.

My name is False Prestige, and I call myself an Extra Plant (which sounds more flattering than Weed).

"What's Wrong with Sex?" (A Response)

Why sexual restraint makes life better.

When the media assault our eyes with images of half-naked bodies, lawmakers fight back with anti-obscenity laws, and the media complain that the government is policing personal morality.

"Who are you to restrict our sexual enjoyment?" cry the libertines.

"Ubiquitous sexuality," say the cultural conservatives, "degrades society."

Everyone cherishes the right to enjoy life, and libertines, to defend themselves, appeal to this right.

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