October 2009


In his essay Real and Apparent, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur makes the following cogent remarks on the hypocrisy of impersonalist who denounce Deity worship:

‘The worship practised by avowed or covert impersonalists and abstractionists is in principle indistinguishable from oppostion to worship itself under a hypothetical concern for the preservation of its purity. The fury against idolatry often masks this sentiment of inveterate hostility to the very principle of worship’

He caps this off beautifully by saying:

‘The prayers of impersonalists offend the Lord more than the denunciations of His avowed enemies’

‘Who is more fond than You of giving, or of serving even at a cost to Yourself, when there is someone open to receive? May it please Your Majesty that I render You some service and that I not have to render an accounting for all that I have received’

St. Teresa of Avila, Foundations 2.7

While Bhakta Arne is saturating himself in bliss in Sri Vrindavan Dhama, MCD and G-Man (Gaura Sakti Das) are holding the fort here in Rosebank. We are still cooking up a storm with ‘Krishna’s Vedic Emporium’ foodstalls at the Killarney Mall Organic Market on Thursdays and The Wholefood Market at Blu Bird (Atholl Oaklands) on Sundays. Actually, we held a stall at Blu Bird today and Yelena, the wife of Branco, who sometimes fetches me from the airport, bought a Bhagavad-gita and took a whole lot of pamphlets on Krishna Consciousness. Another lady, Corinne, bought a Spiritual Warrior IV by Bhakti Tirtha Swami and another took a Higher Taste.

Prema Kishore prabhu led us on our third regular Harinam though the streets of Melville last Friday (see http://www.vediccity.co.za for details). I rounded off our very successful Cooking Course on Saturday with Pizza, Khichari, salad and salad dressing. We sponsored the chef, Joseph, from St James (a vegetarian school) and the headmaster wrote a letter praising Joseph’s new cooking skills. I realized that what we take for granted, in this case our training as chefs, is of great value to others. That evening we cut vegetables for Sunday’s market. On Sunday we sold Prashadam at Blu Bird again and held our weekly Sunday programme. It was very encouraging for me to have Gaura Das and some of his friends at the programme. Another friend, Marcelle, arrived just as the guests were leaving. Gaura Shakti showed her some basic mridanga beats, then she sat and chanted a round of the maha-mantra with us. Oh…and we also gave her some chickpea fudge (which she’d had before).

Monday. We teamed up with Nandarani – who was in the Temple with me in Cape Town – at the University of Johannesburg Bhakti Yoga Society (BYS) from 12-2:30pm. We taught the students how to chant on beads last time. This time we held a basic cooking demo: Simply Wonderfuls and Nimbu Pani. The demo went well. Prema Sarovara Mataji’s friend, Grace, bought a Bhagavad-gita. Seven students bought chanting beads at the previous session. That they took beads was a very positive sign from the point-of-view of chanting. They told me at this session that the chanting was really helping them find peace and happiness. I returned to the flat, took a brief nap, then Gaura Shakti and I went to Dwarakadish prabhu’s place for the Marlboro Namahatta. It was humbling to be with such hospitable and respectful devotees.

Tuesday. Market and shopping for the stalls in Fordsburg. We dropped in at “Cater Commercial” to pick up some kitchen utensils kindly sponsored by Bhakta Rakesh and his family. We got in at around 4pm. Gaura Das came in the evening for a Mantra Meditation Session. He brought some of his friends and people he’d met on book distribution – Lebohang, Matthew, Claudia and Mortaza. I delivered 30 pieces of Laddhu (Chickpea Fudge) to a juice-bar in Woodmead on Wednesday morning, rushed back to the flat, then gave a talk on ‘Jyotish And Its Relevance To Spirituality’ (Jyotish is Indian Astrology) at the Wits BYS at from 1-3pm. I bought some slop-chips at “Kara Nicha’s” before trundling back home, back to Pancha Tattva. That night Gaura Das invited us over to his mom’s place for supper (in honour of his wife Jamuna’s birthday). I still had to cut veg for Thursday’s stall when we got back to the flat. Thursday means Killarney Mall Organic Food Market. Self-explanatory. Mother Prema Shakti came to the stall and informed me that there was a GAD (Gauteng Administration and Development) Sub-Committee meeting about Education at her flat with Keshava Krishna prabhu and some other devotees. The meeting touched on various important areas of education – for children, youth and adults. Another late night. Friday, I went on Sankirtan at the airport and Eastgate. Saturday, Sankirtan at Menlyn. Sunday, Blu Bird and Sunday programme.

Tonight we read from Bhagavad-gita and then chanted Damodarastakam Prayers. This week has been quite a busy one, compounded by Arne’s absence. (All the guests left with Chickpea Fudge). We are offering lamps every night to Lord Damodara and chanting the Damodarastakam. Kartik is a month of mercy. May the Lord be kind upon us.

Your servants at the Vedic City Project.

PIZZA (Preparation time 40min, makes two trays of pizza, 6-8 people)

1. The Base

Ingredients: 3-4 cups cake flour, 3/4 packet instant yeast, 1/2 cup olive oil, 1 cup hot water, 1tbsp sugar, 1/4 cup amasi/buttermilk/yoghurt, 2tbsp fennel seeds and 1tsp salt

Pre-heat oven at 230C while preparing the base.

(i) Mix flour, fennel seeds, salt and yeast.
(ii) Mix hot water, sugar and olive oil.
(iii) Add wet mix to dry mix, until consistent.
(iv) Knead pizza dough for about five minutes, adding more water or flour if necessary.
(v) Roll out into two bases. Place into greased trays, and place in oven until bases are light brown (about 20 mins).

2. Tomato Puree

Ingredients: 6-8 tomatoes (jam tomatoes are the best) or canned tomato puree, two cups finely chopped fresh basil, 2 tbsp tomato paste, 1tbsp thyme, 1 tbsp sugar, 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, 1tsp salt, 1tbsp black pepper and 1tsp hing/asafoetida.

Method:

(i) Place pot with two cups of water on high heat. Place colander on top. Fill colander with tomatoes once water is boiling. Cover with a lid, and steam.
(ii) Remove tomatoes when skins burst (10 mins). Allow to cool.
(iii) When tomatoes are cooled, puree in blender or crush with potato masher.
(iv) Place pureed tomatoes in small pot and bring to boil on medium-heat.
(v) Add other ingredients. Cook for 15 minutes or until thick. Remove.

3. Toppings

Ingredients: 3 peppers, 2 medium brinjals, 3 tomatoes, 500g mozzarella cheeze and 1 cup olives.

Method:

(i) Cut peppers into cubes or thin strips.
(ii) Cut brinjal into thin slices and deep fry in oil on high heat.
(iii) Cut tomatoes into thin slices.
(iv) Cut olives in half.
(iv) Grate mozzarella (or combination of gouda and cheddar or gouda and tasser’s cheeze).

4. Final Preparation

(i) Brush tomato puree onto 3/4 baked bases.
(ii) Sprinkle cheeze over puree.
(iii) Place tomatoes, olives, green peppers and olives over cheeze.
(iv) Sprinkle salt and black pepper over toppings.
(v) Place in oven at 230C. Bake for 10 mins or until cheeze is fully melted.
(vi) Remove from oven (at this stage you can add avocado).
(vii) Allow to cool for five minutes and cut into slices.

GREEN SALAD AND SALAD DRESSING (Preparation time: 5 mins/serves 10)

1. Salad

Make a green salad out of the following ingredients: 1 lettuce, three tomatoes, 2 green peppers, 2 medium carrots, 1 cup finely cut fennel and 1/3 cucumber. Cut vegetables to your suiting, but leave lettuce and tomatoes aside (as they make the salad soggy otherwise).

2. Dressing

Ingredients: 1 avocado, 1/4 cup olive oil, 1/2 cup amasi/yoghurt, 1 squeezed lemon, 1 tbsp black pepper, 1 cup water 2tsp hing, 1tsp salt, 1/4 cup honey and 1tbs cumin and/or coriander powder.

Method:

Blend ingredients together in blender

AVOCADO SHAKE (Preparation time: 5min/ Serves 4)

Ingredients: 2 ripe avocados, 385g condensed milk (tin), 1 cup water and 1 cup sugar.

Method:

(i) Boil water and sugar together until it makes a sticky syrup.
(ii) Add syrup to avocados and condensed milk, and blend.