The Story of the Fiberglas Mrdungas by Ishan das

June 8, 2020 in Articles by Damaghosa dasa

Link to for buying this tilak fiber mrdanga
My name is Ishan das. I created the Balaram mridanga in L.A. It is really quite a story. But I’ll give you the brief version.
Some time in 1972-73 Srila Prabhupada saw that the East Indians were not carrying on the tradition of making the original mridangas and kartals. The younger generation who would normally take over the arts from their fathers were becoming more and more interested in going to school and going to the cities. They were thinking that working with leather making the drums and such was a lower class of activity. So Srila Prabhupada sent out a letter to all the GBCs indicating that some men should be sent to India to learn these arts.
At that time I was in the temple of Jaggadisha who was Srila Prabhupada’s Minister of education and a GBC member. Somehow by being alone in Jaggadish’s office I glanced at what was there on the desk, etc. and saw a letter expressing Srila Prabhupada’s desire in this connection.
That was all I had to see. This was the project for me. It was a way that I could do something that Srila Prabhupada wanted done. Jaggadisha sanctioned my participation in this adventure. But I would have to raise my own fare. Because I was married and had one child, the decision was made that Brajadevi would go to Gurukula in Dallas and my wife and I would go to India.
I have never been very adept at raising money. I did have in my possession a set of the three Bahagawatams that Srila Prabhupada had brought from India. I sold the set for about $200 dollars to a man who used to visit the Toronto temple. When I returned to Canada, after my time spent in India, I begged that man to please, please sell them back to me. But he would not hear of it.
In that letter from Srila Prabupada, he also mentioned that he wanted some devotees to take up the practice of making “dolls”. All these things had to be learned from the masters or those arts in India. Srila Prabhupada had personally selected the teachers. The learning was to be done on our land in Mayapur. The professional drum and doll makers would come to teach the devotees, during the daytime and then return to their villages in the evening.
So I reached Mayapur Dham and began my learning process. There were about half a dozen devotees who had come from various temples in order to learn. For the drums there were two processes. The clay man made the shells, and the leather man made the drums.
Learning from these men was not according to the western way of learning. In the first place these men were very proud of their trades, and would not easily part with their secrets which were passed down from generation to generation. Secondly, they had a good thing going. Gargamuni Maharaja who was temple president in Calcutta, was in the business of taking charge of the drums that these men were making, and then shipping them to the west as a way of raising funds and helping the movement. One of the men later confessed to me, “If you learn how to make these drums, our jobs are finished.” So they had a vested interest both in sharing the skills , but not sharing them too fast. There was a language problem as well. These were Bengalis and we were English speaking.

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When it is possible to see God face to face–SP

June 8, 2020 in Articles by Damaghosa dasa

SB 9.8.22–My Lord, You are fully situated in everyone’s heart, but the living entities, covered by the material body, cannot see You, for they are influenced by the external energy, conducted by the three modes of material nature. Their intelligence being covered by sattva-guṇa, rajo-guṇa and tamo-guṇa, they can see only the actions and reactions of these three modes of material nature. Because of the actions and reactions of the mode of ignorance, whether the living entities are awake or sleeping, they can see only the workings of material nature; they cannot see Your Lordship.
Unless one is situated in the transcendental loving service of the Lord, one is unable to understand the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The Lord is situated in everyone’s heart. However, because the conditioned souls are influenced by material nature, they can see only the actions and reactions of material nature, but not the Supreme Personality of Godhead. One therefore must purify himself internally and externally:
apavitraḥ pavitro vā sarvāvasthāṁ gato ’pi vā yaḥ smaret puṇḍarīkākṣaṁ
sa bāhyābhyantaraḥ śuciḥ
To keep ourselves externally clean we should bathe three times daily, and for internal cleanliness we must cleanse the heart by chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra. The members of the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement must always follow this principle (bāhyābhyantaraḥ śuciḥ). Then it will one day be possible to see the Supreme Personality of Godhead face to face.
SB 9.8.23 purport-
The word svabhāva refers to one’s own spiritual nature or original constitutional position. When situated in this original position, the living entity is unaffected by the modes of material nature. Sa guṇān samatītyaitān brahma-bhūyāya kalpate (Bg. 14.26). As soon as one is freed from the influence of the three modes of material nature, he is situated on the Brahman platform. Vivid examples of personalities thus situated are the four Kumāras and Nārada. Such authorities can by nature understand the position of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, but a conditioned soul not freed from the influence of material nature is unable to realize the Supreme. In Bhagavad-gītā (2.45), therefore, Kṛṣṇa advises Arjuna, traiguṇya-viṣayā vedā nistraiguṇyo bhavārjuna: one must rise above the influence of the three modes of material nature. One who stays within the influence of the three material modes is unable to understand the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
SB 9.8.24-O completely peaceful Lord, although material nature, fruitive activities and their consequent material names and forms are Your creation, You are unaffected by them. Therefore, Your transcendental name is different from material names, and Your form is different from material forms. You assume a form resembling a material body just to give us instructions like those of Bhagavad-gītā, but actually You are the supreme original person. I therefore offer my respectful obeisances unto You.
Śrīla Yāmunācārya has recited this verse in his Stotra-ratna (43): bhavantam evānucaran nirantaraḥ praśānta-niḥśeṣa-manorathāntaraḥ kadāham aikāntika-nitya-kiṅkaraḥ praharṣayiṣyāmi sanātha-jīvitam
By serving You constantly, one is freed from all material desires and is completely pacified. When shall I engage as Your permanent eternal servant and always feel joyful to have such a fitting master?”
Manorathenāsati dhāvato bahiḥ: [SB 5.18.12] one who acts on the mental platform must descend to material activities. Material contamination, however, is completely absent from the Supreme Personality of Godhead and His pure devotee. Therefore the Lord is addressed as praśānta, completely peaceful, free from the disturbances of material existence. The Supreme Lord has no material name or form; only the foolish think that the Lord’s name and form are material (avajānanti māṁ mūḍhā mānuṣīṁ tanum āśritam [Bg. 9.11]). The identity of the Supreme Lord is that He is the original person. Nonetheless, those who have but a poor fund of knowledge think that the Lord is formless. The Lord is formless in the material sense, but He has His transcendental form (sac-cid-ānanda-vigraha [Bs. 5.1]).

Krsna-The Supreme Personality of Godhead is seen differently by everyone

June 8, 2020 in Articles by Damaghosa dasa

BG introduction...People with less intelligence consider the Supreme Truth to be impersonal, but He is a transcendental person, and this is confirmed in all Vedic literatures. Nityo nityānām cetanaś cetanānām. As we are all individual living beings and have our individuality, the Supreme Absolute Truth is also, in the ultimate issue, a person, and realization of the Personality of Godhead is realization of all of the transcendental features. The complete whole is not formless. If He is formless, or if He is less than any other thing, then He cannot be the complete whole. The complete whole must have everything within our experience and beyond our experience, otherwise it cannot be complete. The complete whole, Personality of Godhead, has immense potencies.

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SB 8.3.27 purport…Nowadays there are so many yoga schools to encourage people in developing their lusty desires and greed through the practice of yoga. People are therefore very much fond of so-called yoga practice. The actual practice of yoga, however, is described here. As authoritatively stated in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (12.13.1), dhyānāvasthita-tad-gatena manasā paśyanti yaṁ yoginaḥ: a yogī is one who always meditates on the lotus feet of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This is also confirmed in the Brahma-saṁhitā (5.38):
santaḥ sadaiva hṛdayeṣu vilokayanti
yaṁ śyāmasundaram acintya-guṇa-svarūpaṁ
govindam ādi-puruṣaṁ tam ahaṁ bhajāmi
I worship Govinda, the primeval Lord, who is Śyāmasundara, Kṛṣṇa Himself, with inconceivable innumerable attributes, whom the pure devotees see in their heart of hearts with the eye of devotion tinged with the salve of love.” The bhakti-yogī constantly sees Śyāmasundara—beautiful Lord Kṛṣṇa with His blackish bodily hue.