December 2007


Haribol!Hmm…Not really sure what to talk about. I have a couple things in draft but I dont feel like finishing it.Haha! Now I know what I wanted to talk about. Live Help on Krishna.com. After leaving my service at the temple I needed to become engaged in something and I saw the post on dandavats.com about needing volunteers. I decided to give it a go and see what it was all about.Well I sent an email and they asked for a brief bio and I had to answer, I think, 14 questions. The questions werent too difficult and after getting approved they gave me info on what my responsibilities are as a volunteer.   My thoughts on being a volunteerWell, I would say that it is quite a nice service and it made me feel a bit better. It extends to more than just people asking about the site but about their personal questions. At first I thought it was odd, like, dont these people have friends and family to confide in? But many times, the problem is friends and family. And I was surprised at the amount of people that dont actually have any association of devotees and depend on Live Help for motivation and encouragement.What really caught me off guard was how many people talk about their personal problems. I mean, their really personal problems. Things I would never ever think of telling anyone, even if I knew I’d never meet that person. But its great that they are so brave to say, “here are my anartha’s, do you have any advice?” And they really do work hard at fixing it. And heck, its a lot better than telling a sannyasi about it.One of the coolest things about being a volunteer is that we have access to the transcripts of each chat we have. I can read what other people have said in past conversations and pick up some pointers and information. Not to mention there is a search button so I like to type in the names of devotees I know and see if they ever used Live Help. In a way, I learn things about people I never ever knew before.I also think its neat that if we need to keep in touch with someone, we can still keep our identities private by telling people that if they need to email us they can just send an email to livehelp@krishna.com with my name in the subject line. I know many people dont think thats fair but I read the transcripts, some people think that LiveHelp is a place to pick-up devotee men and women and it can be really harassing. Which is another cool thing, since we have your IP address, if we find that you are out of line we can put up a temporary ban. If it continues after the ban term then it will be a permanent ban. And since our chats are monitored if we are out of line we get kicked off our service.The only thing that really sucks about this is sometimes we get some people who are either insincere or really rude. Like the other day, a lady wanted to know why Srila Prabhupada says women are lesser intelligent. As I started to respond she she said that the fact that I followed this was nonsense and then asked if she could speak with a senior male devotee. I had to be humble and say “sure” and connect her with someone else. What I really wanted to say was, “Look here you dumb bitch, you criticize Srila Prabhupada for saying women are lesser intelligent but you wont give me five minutes to respond to your question, who’s there sexist one now?”Of course thats not polite.So please people, when you have a question. Be nice and be patient. We arent getting paid and we have lives too. And if you just want to make stupid arguments and challenges then dont bother coming online because the volunteers get really irritated by it. At least I do. Actually, Im probably the worst person you can chat with if you want to argue because im not very nice and Im not very patient.And no, we arent machines,we have good days and bad days. Recently I read a transcript where a volunteer was a bit rude with a visitor for no reason at all. The visitor got connected with me eventually and we got things straightened out. So, if someone is rude to you, just try to get connected with someone else or just leave an email.Jaya. So thats my evaluation. Live Help is a useful tool and if you use it well it can be very beneficial.Edit: I just had a chat with someone and I wanted to add one last thing: please dont ask for money, do I look like Joel Osteen to you (he preaches a lot about making money and being prosperous, I think his church has the biggest following in North America)?We’re devotees of Krishna. We dont really hanker for money so we dont really have any. People also ask about getting a job or a spouse. Uggh, so annoying. Why would anyone ask about this stuff? I can understand asking about engaging in services. But every now an then you hear, “I am an engineer, I can not find job. Can you help me find job? I need job” or “I am looking for a wife. I am from blahblahblah caste. Can you find a wife for me? Maybe you can ask all your friend.” Please dont do that. Its not nice, and frankly, I dont care.Okay, thats not true. I do care. But its not my job or responsibility to help a visitor out like that. I dont even know who they are. Most of the people that visit live in India, what can I do?

I have to study for finals but I just wanted to post something really quickly about something Bir Krishna Swami wrote on Dandavats.com that caught my attention, especially since I was, for some reason, under the impression that he was a bit liberal.

I thought about commenting to his post but I usually get myself in trouble in public forms so I try to say as little as possible on them.  But I think its perfectly all right to say something here because, well, its my blog, and not a whole lot of people read it anyway.

Now, if I am not mistaken, I think his words are directed toward the gurukulis. We all know that I am not their greatest advocate for a variety of reasons. But for some reason I find myself sticking up for them in this post.

First I do agree that there should not be any rasa-dances performed to modern music. Thats just weird and misleading to the public. I have also seen devotees perform dances to various Bollywood songs that talk about Radha and Krishna (though the song is usually in lieu of the relationship of between the male and female main characters). And its stupid. Srila Prabhupada never encouraged these kinds of performances, check it out in the Krishna Book.

However, I think its okay to do a Rasa-dance performance in tradition indian style with traditional indian music and song. Much like the Odissi dancers Indradyumna Swami uses in his Polish Woodstock Festival. Its not blatantly sexual, its extremely tasteful, and done in a mood of service to Krishna, not in service to the senses.

The next point he makes is, “having ladies dance in such a way in Harinamas that attention becomes focused on them”. And I wonder, how should they dance exactly? Despite my issues, one of the things I have always admired is how beautifully the girls dance. I have always wished I could dance like that instead of jumping around like a clumsy idiot. Is that what we would rather see? Girls jumping around? I think thats far more sexual than the beautiful and organized pattern that they dance in. Maybe Maharaj would prefer that they walk quietly in the back or maybe not even come on the harinams at all.

What he fails to understand is that these girls are not ordinary at all. Srila Prabhupada said that demigods will take birth here just to be able to participate in this sankirtan movement- they are the evidence!!! Think about everything they have been through and they’re still here! Why? Because they have this internal desire that makes them stay. Despite their activities they are still not ordinary personalities. The fact that their bodies are very beautiful and their movements are very graceful it wouldnt surprise me at all if they were some sort of heavenly being.

They arent trying to look drop-dead gorgeous, they just are. Many times I have commented that if you actually look at the way they dress, nothing they wear matches at all. Yet they still manage to look so beautiful! Regular people like me struggle every day to look even half as good as they do.

I was surfing youtube.com once and some karmi girl posted a video of her dancing and singing Hare Krishna as a joke. A guy commented to her post and told her that there was no way she could be a Hare Krishna because all Hare Krishna girls are good-looking and she was ugly, he then told her to youtube search the words “Ratha Yatra” and she can see it for herself that there wasnt a single ugly girl in the crowd.

And he’s right. I’ve never seen an ugly devotee (despite the sometimes ugly personalities).  Perhaps Maharaj, what you really need to be thinking about is not how the ladies dance, but why they dance, because certainly we dont deserve their dancing and amazing kirtan.

Here’s a solution to your problem of attractive girls dancing in an attractive way: Dont look.

Thats right. Dont look. A few times my husband has commented to me about the way I dance and I made it very very clear. Dont look at the ladies side of the room. Because I believe that women hold a sort of bewildering power. It just makes you all confused and you lose focus. And when women dance it’s generally not for the opposite sex but for the joy of dancing and the joy of dancing for Krishna. So dont look. It is not ordinary. We dont have ego issues with the need to show-off our dance skillz like the men-folk do.

I especially dont like men criticizing women. That is so 1982. I’ll tell you what, you watch the male’s sadhana and we’ll keep track of the female sadhana. The senior matajis can handle us just fine, thank you. I dont need a male bodied devotee telling me how to worship my Lord.

If you really want, I could criticize the way the males dance. If you call it dancing at all. All that jumping and spinning and flailing. Maybe you all should keep yourself modest. We arent wild animals, we’re civil people. Right? Why should you be dancing in such a way that you draw attention to yourselves? I am 150% against such dancing by men.

Edit: I was just reading some of the comments on Dandavats. While some make sense, some others were really stupid my favorite one was saying women who overexpose themselves agitate the men but when they fanangle with their outfits in an attempt to cover up it agitates the men so the best thing a woman can do is to be covered up to begin with so that she doesnt have to move around her clothes…..

Clearly this person has never worn a saree…..

Maybe the next time I go to program I should just wear a burka. Or would all that mystery be too much to handle? Horny bastards…

In lieu of the Holiday season and so that I dont forget the recipe- I have found a recipe for cookies that actually work! I’ve always had issues with making cookies, usually they’re too hard or to crumbly. Or too floury or whatever, but these come out perfect! I found it on the back of a package of chocloate chips and I modified it for us Krishnatarians =>;)

2 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
1 cup of light brown sugar, packed
1 cup of butter, softened (or melted, it doesnt matter)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs (not really. This is the secret to egg replacement- For every one egg add a spoonful of sour cream, a splash of milk and a splash of oil. It works for everything except omlettes)
2 cups of chocolate chips (or any other chips for that matter- white, peanut butter, carob- just not potato. haha)
1 cup of nuts (optional)

Pre heat the oven to 375 degrees F. Mix everything together except the chips and nuts. When its well blended stir in the chips and nuts. Drop by rounded teaspoons onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes (let it get a little brown on the edges, be sure to pull it out not over 12 minutes or it will overbake- another cookie making secret taught to me by a friend, I always used to let it overbake and for some reason I couldnt figure out why the cookies were always so hard!). When finished baking let it cool slightly before removing from the plan and onto wire racks.
Makes about 3 1/2 dozen.

While surfing around on Google Video’s I came upon the movie, “The Universal Teacher”.

For those of you that dont know about this movie. Devavision Productions did a movie about the life of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur. I guess to advertise for this movie they put out “rare” film footage of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur. fake.png

At first the whole world was excited to receive such mercy. But certain devotees (myself included), after watching it over and over felt like something was kinda weird about it. And there was. It was fake. Dont believe me? A devotee from Croatia made an excellent video about it.
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Check it out here– he did quite a good job in the way he presented his argument- not only did he give good evidence but he was not offensive and even a bit humorous. However, Devavision took offense and were pretty mean to him but couldn’t provide any substantial refutations to his arguments.

So Devavision went on with their movie and continued advertising the “rare clip” and the rest is history. For some reason they put it on Google Videos and here we are. I had high hopes for this movie, despite my doubt. They claimed to have rare movies and photos. As well as interviews with various devotees that knew Saraswati Thakur. I love hearing about Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur, he is really an amazing and inspiring personality. But, after watching the movie I was sorely disappointed. They didnt do justice to this exalted personality. Here I will give a little review of my likes and dislikes of the movie. Likes first, because there arent many.

Likes

  • They have some pretty cool effects- you can tell they have some very fancy equipment and editing programs.
  • They had a lot of cool pictures that I’ve either never seen before or saw for a fleeting few minutes. Like this picture from when he was quite young. Maybe around the time he took initiation or younger even? But its still cool:
    young-siddhanta.png
  • I actually learned something- I had no idea that Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur had a Western disciple. He was German bodied and became initiated as Sadananda Das
    sadananda.png
    I always wondered if Bon Maharaj’s preaching in Europe did anything. Especially preaching to Hitler. Wouldnt that be weird if Hitler became a devotee? He’d be like, “Kill all the karmis!” Anyway, thats off the topic.

Dislikes

  • Though the effects were very cool, they were also very very distracting from the point of the movie. This includes:
    • The Music- especially the music that introduces each chapter. I realize that they are trying to give an effect to the movie by having some old music playing but it really broke the mood of the documentary.
    • The color– I think about 90% was unnecessarily in black & white and it was just annoying- it didnt really do anything for the movie. And also, they took the liberty of painting saffron onto anything Bhaktisiddhanta wore and I dont really know what that did either.
  • I didnt like the interviews. I was expecting to hear some personal stories and watch some people get teary-eyed but no one gave any at all, their talks were so ambiguous- like Saraswati Thakur existed so long ago that no one had a personal memory. Very boring.
  • I also didnt think there was enough information about Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur. He did a lot of amazing things and said some really cool stuff- a lot of which was never said, like what about when he chanted a million rounds and ate straight off the floor due to his humility? I mean really, if you’re going to make a movie entitled “The Universal Teacher” then prove to me that he really is the universal teacher. Maybe instead of it being an hour long documentary make it a few hours. Or even, make a whole series! But if you’re going to make a documentary on the life history of someone you regard as the universal teacher then you better prove it. If they wanted only an hour long movie, then why not just focus on one aspect of his life?
  • I didnt like the British stuff at the beginning of the movie, why put it there? We know all about the British rule and Gandhi and all that. Maybe they were trying to create some perspective on the era Srila Bhaktisiddhanta was coming from. but if you know him, then you know that he was completely unaffected by these politics- he even discouraged his disciples from getting involved while everyone in India was. So why stick it in there? Was it really necessary?
  • The controversial video- it really didnt add to this overall bad movie. It was like, “Here’s some pictures we found, lets splice it in with pictures we took, lets throw this random video clip in here, now back to the pictures…” I guess Devavision made such a big stink about it being real because if they admitted to it being fake then they’d have to take it out and the whole movie would have collapsed.

So this documentary on the life of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur got an overall bad rating from me. It really could have been better. Im not really sure what the midset of the producers were when they made it but it totally stunk. You can tell that they didnt really know anything about Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur and they should have done more research. They should have done better interviews and overall created a better storyboard.

If you would like to learn about the life of Saraswati Thakur an excellent book to read is called “A Ray of Vishnu” by Rupa-Vilasa Das which I know you can buy from Krishna.com for about $6.00 and well worth every cent. Its very detailed and well put together. It was a very good read and I learned a lot from it.