Calcutta, India — Tuesday, June 22nd

Supercharged milk

We all know the National Dairy Board's slogan: "Milk — it does a body good!" But does it? Not in California, it seems. According to a report in the San Francisco Chronicle, a toxic chemical in rocket fuel has been detected in California's milk supply:

"Tests by the California Department of Food and Agriculture found perchlorate, a rocket fuel component widely used by the defense industry, in thirty-two samples of milk taken from Alameda, San Joaquin and Sacramento counties, according to a report released today by an environmental watchdog group."

So of course the "cheaters and the cheated," industry and the consumers, are arguing about who is responsible, how the rocket fuel got into the milk, and what amounts are permissible(!) in the milk.

What is the world coming to if you can't trust something as good, as wholesome and as nourishing as milk? Govinda, Govinda! But what are you going to do? This is the nature of the material world: the world of the exploiters and the exploited.

And how did the rocket fuel get into the milk? One theory is that the alfalfa used to feed dairy cows comes from pastures irrigated by the perchlorate-contaminated Colorado River. Personally, I think the milk comes from the cow that jumped over the moon :)

Calcutta, India — Thursday, June 24th

Two new disciples

Srila Gurudeva initiates two new disciples this morning: a local Bengali devotee, Koushik, who has been living here at the temple in Calcutta for a few months, and Kelly, an Australian devotee who is visiting the Math for the first time, and who just returned from the pilgrimage to see the ratha-yatra festival in Jagannath Puri.

It is always inspiring to see this wonderful ceremony where a new disciple is welcomed into the family of Krishna through the authorized disciplic succession. Srila Gurudeva chants the maha-mantra

hare krishna hare krishna / krishna krishna hare hare
hare rama hare rama / rama rama hare hare

on the initiates' japa mala, then solemnly hands the beads to them with the words:

"I received this mantra from my Guru Maharaj, and he has instructed me to give to this mantra to anyone who sincerely asks for it. Because I consider you to be a sincere seeker, I am giving this mantra to you..."

As Srila Gurudeva's Guru Maharaj writes in Sri Guru and His Grace: "To get the mantra from a genuine guru means to get the internal goodwill or real conception about the Lord... The will with which the particular sound is given by the guru to the disciple is all-important. We may not trace that at present, but in time, if a favorable environment is there, it will express itself and develop into something great."

Koushik becomes Koushik das Prabhu, and Kelly receives the spiritual name Keli-kadamba-nana dasi, the servant of She whose face is like a keli-kadamba lotus flower (Srimati Radharani).

Calcutta, India — Saturday, June 26th

Waiting for rain

It is supposed to be the rainy season, but it has not rained for about four or five days now, so we are weltering in sweltering temperatures again. The mercury has been creeping up from the low to the mid-thirties (from the mid-eighties to the mid-nineties for you Americans) and in this sub-tropical climate, believe me, the change is quite palpable.

And to think, if I had been able to get my Russian visa, I should have been in Moscow or Saint Petersburg right now, where the temperature is a sub-arctic 18°C (65°F). Still, I mustn't grumble, I suppose. I'll soon be in Soquel, California, which at 26°C (80°F) is still a whole lot cooler than the weather here...

And so, like the cataka bird (but not with that mood of surrender!) I look to the sky every day. When will those nimbostratus clouds come rolling in, to give me succor?

Calcutta, India — Tuesday, June 29th

Seva Vikram

I've only just remembered that it was Yudhamanyu Prabhu Seva Vikram's birthday three days ago. I don't know how I could have forgotten. Ever since his wife Jivana Devi Dasi stuck one of those sticky notes on the refrigerator door at the house/temple in the Berea, Johannesburg, reminding us that it was Yudhamanyu Prabhu's birthday on June 26th, that date seems to have been indelibly written on my mind...

Until now, of course. Ah, the old mind ain't as sharp as it used to be. "Sharp as a bowling ball," to use an old Foghorn Leghorn witticism. Like an old grandfather clock, it seems to need winding more often, and although it loses a little time occasionally, it does still strike the hours: I may not have remembered in time, but I did remember.

We had some good times in South Africa, at the house in Berea. It was there that Yudhamanyu Prabhu was interviewed about the temple and about Krishna consciousness by the Sunday Times, and was a little nervous, wondering what Srila Guru Maharaj would say, when the full-page article was published under the heading, "The Guru of the Berea."

He need not have worried. Srila Guru Maharaj, far from thinking that Yudhamanyu Prabhu was ambitious, loved the article, and said it showed that the preaching in South Africa was dynamic.

Yudhamanyu Prabhu is always quietly, unobtrusively, and self-deprecatingly carrying out his service in the background, and although he may be sometimes overlooked by the neophytes, Srila Guru Maharaj, Srila Gurudeva, and all the senior devotees have always appreciated his sincerity and his service mood.

And who can begin to calculate the enormity of Yudhamanyu Prabhu's present service in China? Although not much is mentioned about that service because it must necessarily be low-key, you can get some idea from the occasional pictures on the Math website.

Srila Gurudeva recently said: "I have always known that Yudhamanyu is a good preacher, but how good a preacher, I did not know until now."

So, with apologies for the delay, and with thanks for the memories — happy birthday Yudhamanyu Prabhu!

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