Bhakti in Second Life

I've never written about how much I like Second Life. (I really like it.) Second Life is an online, virtual reality community. When I was sick with cancer, it was a really wonderful way to keep my mind busy with challenges and talk with devotees around the world. I'd like to share some pictures of the Second Life (SL) temples with you and some of my realizations about SL. You can click on any of these pictures to see them a little larger.

In SL my name is Dasi Lane. This picture on the right is what I look like there. When I joined, you didn't have too many choices for your name and this seemed like another way to say bhakti marg. Once you're there, you create an "avatar" for yourself to be able to move around and interact with your environment. You can buy clothes and create things for yourself and the world around you.

I've met so many devotees there. People all around the world--England, Spain, Australia, India, and the US. True, we're goofing around, but we're trying to be devotees in this virtual world, too.

When I first started this, I never realized that temples would disappear and so I don't have many pictures of the first temples I saw. Isle of Krishna and Gauranga Bay were some of the first ones. But, Prabhupada's Lotus Room was by far the best. I celebrated Janmastami there last year (see post for September 14, 2008) and gave a class in real time. We even had a kirtan. The Lotus Room has since disappeared due to the change in US currency exchange, but other temples have sprung up.

There's a sweet treehouse temple with Jagannatha and Panca Tattva Deities. One devotee has put together pictures and movies of the Khumba Mela and displays them in a tented bazaar setting.There's another sweet little temple with Jagannatha Deities and beautiful pictures inside of Krishna.

Then there are the larger temples for the "Hindu." Interestingly enough, the Maha Mantra and Srila Prabhupada are also represented there.

Some people have laughed when I tell them that I go to SL. It's not such a "spiritual" practice. Not to justify it, but I think it's just as "spiritual" as what I do here in real life (RL). Hmmm.

In SL I have an avatar to interact with, in RL I have a body which I also use to interact with. The "I" here is me, as spirit/atma. Moving around in SL is with intent, same as in RL. Atma is "doing" things with intent. In SL, one time I transported from one place to another and realized that I hadn't really gone anywhere, I was just seeing something different. Same as in RL. The "virtual" aspect of reality is more apparent in SL than RL. In SL I can jump off buildings and walk in water without any problems. In RL we can do this without any damage to atma, too. Not that I'm going to be jumping off buildings any time soon, but I think you get it.

The illusion of me is just as clear in SL as it is in RL. Is bhakti just as real in SL as in RL? Yes, I think it is. One time in SL, a devotee made a ghee lamp that could be picked up and wrote a script that made the avatar circle the arm as if offering it. She also included a bell for the left hand with a ringing sound. I was so excited, I went to every temple in SL and offered this ghee lamp to every temple. For a while, when I was sick, that was my morning program--to go to all the temples and offer a ghee lamp. It was so exciting. I could even fly above the ground and offer it to everyone and everything below me. Bhakti, SL or RL, so exquisite.

Mayapur Institute Graduation Ceremony

February 15th 2010, saw the graduation ceremony for the newest Bhaktisastri graduates at the Mayapur Institute (MI) Sri Dham Mayapur Campus. The ceremony was graced by many senior ISKCON leaders and educators. About 75 Students hailing from 34 different countries were welcomed with a very different type of invocation prayers led by Prema Vikas Das from South Africa. Prema Vikas a multi-talented artist, a rap singer & song-writer and now a Bhaktisastri, sang “If you really wanna know what the Gita’s all about… ” with chants of “Govinda Gopala” to set the ceremony start on an electrifying note! This was followed by a drama – Life of Srinivas Acarya, enacted by the Bhaktisastrinis, the female graduates of the latest batch of students. HG Padmanayana Das, Director – MI cordially appreciated the ladies’ effort calling it “a purely sattvik experience”.

Caru Das Offers Utah Senate Prayer

Caru das laughs with Senator Madsen on the Senate stairs.

Utah State Senator Mark Madsen requested Caru das to deliver the opening prayer for the Utah Senate in the capitol building in Salt Lake City. Senator Madsen and his family have been to festivals at the temple on several occasions and enjoyed them all. For example, he accepted an invitation to say a few words at the upcoming Festival of Colors on March 27, and said, "I will also stay to enjoy the pandemonium of colors with my family afterwards."

Here is the text of Caru das's opening prayer on the 25th day of the current Senate session, Feb. 19, 2010.

"We’d like to offer this invocatory Sanskrit verse from the ancient Katha Upanishad:

"saha navavatu, saha nau bhunaktu.
saha viryam karavavahai.
tejasvi navadhitam astu.
ma vidvisavahai. om santih, santih, santih.

Let us together be protected and let us together be nourished by God’s blessings. Let us together join our mental forces in strength for the benefit of humanity. Let our efforts at learning be luminous and filled with joy, and endowed with the force of purpose. Let us never be poisoned with the seeds of hatred for anyone. Let there be peace and serenity in all the worlds.

"Dear Lord, your light is brighter than the sun, your purity whiter than mountain snow. You are present wherever we go. Your names are many: Elohim the Creator, Krishna the All Attractive, Yahweh the Self-Existent, Vishnu the Preserver, Immanuel the Self-Sufficient, Shantih, Peace Personified. All people of wisdom praise you. So we too put faith in you, knowing that everything you teach is true.

Caru das with Senate President Michael G. Waddoups.

"You are omnipresent, omnipotent, and omniscient. You are in everything, and nothing is beyond you. You are our Mother and Father and we are all your children. Whatever you do is for our good. You are the ocean of mercy, and you forgive our errors. You are our teacher and you guide us unto righteousness. You are the Imperishable, the supreme Object of Knowledge; you are the ultimate resting-place of this universe; you are the immortal guardian of the eternal right. You are the everlasting Spirit.

"Today, in this hall, are assembled the elected representatives of the people of this State. They are ready to perform their duties. Lord, please guide them in their thoughts and actions so they can achieve the greatest good for all. In your mercy reveal to them all they need to know, in order to find peace and joy. Tell them the truths that are necessary for the world in which we live. Show them how they can meditate upon you, learning from you the wisdom that we need. Let none ever tire of hearing you, because your words bring life.

Faith and science

My article “Romeo, Rama and the Rebellious Riff-Raff” (referred to hereafter as 5R) raised an even more vital issue than whether stories need to be true in order to have effect, the theme of that article. It raised the important issue of whether Krsna consciousness is a science or a faith. We preach that it is a science- indeed it is a favorite preaching topic, but is that simply propaganda? Is it really a science? How is it a science?

It is not that science is without faith - actually, faith is a vital component of science. For example, to account for the results of experiments, some scientist developed the atomic model of a positively charged nucleus surrounded by negatively charged electrons. On the basis of that model, the periodic table was created that accounted for the properties of various elements. It is completely reasonable to accept the atomic model, as it explains many observations. Thus, despite the fact that it cannot be proved, chemists accept it anyway, and through using it, they have developed further discoveries into the structure of matter and can even predict how matter will act under certain conditions.


Idols? thumbnailSutapa das: The shrine at our temple is undoubtedly the main attraction. In dialogues with those from Judeo-Christian or Islamic backgrounds, I regularly encounter some uneasiness as to how God can appear in a ‘material’ form – idols made by the hands of man. It appears limiting, imaginary and almost childish – to treat God like a play-doll by dressing Him, feeding Him and putting Him to bed at night. Can God truly reveal His divine self through material elements? Can a factual and deep relationship with God be established via such rituals?

While many see the material world as completely separate from the supreme spirit, the ancient Vedic tradition defines God as the source of everything material and spiritual (janmadya asya yatah). Even physical elements have an intimate relationship with God. The cause is present in the effect. Thus, God’s imminence in the material world may be brought to the surface when material objects, such as marble, metal or wood, are directly engaged as vehicles of worship according to authorised prescriptions. God, after all, is the complete whole and can simultaneously manifest Himself in everything within and everything beyond our experience. To say He cannot appear in a certain way would be to place a limitation on the supreme.

Govinda Hari Govinda – 3D Animation Vishnu Bhajan Songs ( Hare Krishna )

Swedish Scholar Recognizes Bhaktisiddhanta's Unique Contributions

Traditional and modern Hinduism have an extensive monotheistic (belief in one God) branch that in many ways can be compared with the Christian notion of the person and a personal relationship to God. This is in spite of the the fact that Hinduism is often portrayed as being characterized by spiritual non-dualism and polytheism, or the belief in multiple gods.

This is the result of new research in religious studies at the University of Gothenburg.

The research focuses on the Indian religious reformer Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati (1874-1937), who was a key figure for a number of modern religious institutions such as the Hare Krishna movement.

In his research, Ferdinando Sardella presents the theory that Sarasvati's philosophy and religious vision were permeated by the concept of a spiritual or non-material personhood. It motivated and inspired his struggle against the limitations of the caste system and the religious dominance of the brahmin orthodoxy, as well as his vision for a spiritual reform of the modern world.

The Yoga of Ecology

Progressive. Environmental. Spiritual

The Yoga of Ecology is a collection of inspiring and action-packed resources for the spiritually-inclined eco-activist. Alongside our collection of timely and practical articles, we offer a deeper perspective on our collective ecological crisis.

It is a perspective rooted in time-tested, traditional wisdom that challenges us to remove the pollution within ourselves to truly remove the pollution from our external environment.

The Yoga of Ecology connects the internal environment of our self with the external environment we earnestly seek to preserve and make whole again. We have to realize that our ecological situation is one that is deeply personal.

Spirit Matters Magazine, NY, USA: The Yoga of Ecology

Rupa Madhurya das, TX, USA: TKG Academy - Kindergarten Presentation - Thanksgiving Lunch