January 2011


This recipe was gleaned off a tin of milk powder in the early days of the Hare Krishna Movement in New York City.  Simply Wonderfuls have been a favourite ever since.  The Movement’s founder, Srila Prabhupada, once said, ‘Eat Simply Wonderfuls and go back to the wonderful world.’

Makes about 45 ‘Simplys’

1.  Mix 500g unsalted butter with 500g icing sugar (you may want less so it is not so sweet).  Add currants and about half a teaspoon of grated orange rind and mix all ingredients together.  (You can also add crushed almonds, dried fruit, colouring agents and flavourin essences).  A South American devotee once told me that they used avocado instead of butter for their Simply Wonderfuls.

2.  Mix in milk powder (not quite 500g, since you might need less) until pliable.  The finer the milk powder, the better.  If too dry, add more butter; if too wet, add more milk powder.

3.  Refrigerate for about 25 mins.  Or keep in a cool place.

4.  You can trickle carob over them.

5.  Make spiritual offering.

Broccoli, Cauliflower and Potato

I learnt this one from one of my Hare Krishna gurus, Jyotir Mayi, who is currently the Temple President of ISKCON Cape Town, South Africa.

1.  Wash broccoli and cauliflower in warm water.  Cut into flowerets. Deep fry in boiling oil/ghee until a tender (but not too soft).  Deep fry the potatoes so that they are still a little hard (not fully fried).  Drain in a colander.

2.  Chaunce:  Mix equal parts of cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg (‘sweet spices’) and add a little garam masala.  Make a spice paste.  Place a few tablespoons of oil in a saucepan and add the paste to the oil when it is hot.

3.  Add the vegetables to the chaunce and cook on medium-high heat for about 10 minutes.

The following is a commentary by Srila Prabhupada on the well-known ‘Bhagavad-gita’ verse, 5.29.   Bhoktaram yajna-tapasam/sarva-loka-mahesvaram/suhrdam sarva-bhutam/jnatva mam santim rcchati – ‘A person in full consciousness of Me, knowing Me to be the ultimate beneficiary of all sacrifices and austerities, the Supreme Lord of all planets and demigods, the benefactor and well-wisher of all living entities, attains peace from the pangs of material existence’.

‘Krishna is the actual friend of all living entities.  But instead of leaving proprietorship, enjoyment and the actual position as the friend of all living entities to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, we claim that we are the proprietors, the enjoyers and the friends.  We perform philanthropic work, thinking that we are the friends of human society.  Someone may proclaim himself to be a very good national worker, the best friend of the people and of the country, but actually he cannot be the greatest friend of everyone.  The only friend is Krishna.  One should try to raise the consciousness of the conditioned soul to the platform of understanding that Krishna is his actual friend.  If one makes friendship with Krishna, one will never be cheated, and he will get all the help needed.  Arousing this consciousness of the conditioned soul is the greatest service, not posing oneself as a great friend of another living entity.  The power of friendship is limited.  Although one claims to be a friend, he cannot be a friend unlimitedly.  There are an unlimited number of living entities, and our resources are limited; therefore, we cannot be of any real benefit to the people in general.  The best service to the people in general is to awaken them to Krishna consciousness so that they may know that the supreme enjoyer and the supreme friend is Krishna.  Then this illusory dream of lording it over material nature will vanish’

A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada – Srimad Bhagavatam 3.27.5 Purport

Here are some quotations relevant to this verse:

‘The Supreme Personality of Godhead is actually the enjoyer, and therefore if we begin our activities for His satisfaction, we will gradually lose taste for material activities’ – Srimad Bhagavatam 7.1.14 Purport

‘If a dog is swimming in the water and one wants to cross the ocean by taking hold of the dog’s tail, certainly he is foolish.  Similarly, the demigods cannot offer any real shelter to one who is in distress’ – Srimad Bhagavatam 7.4.21 Purport

ISKCON Chowpatty, Mumbai, 30 January 2001

Radhanath Maharaja’s quarters were at the end of a prefabricated metal corridor, paved with what appeared to be shower tiles.  My hands carried a photocopied ‘Letter Of Recommendation For First Initiation’  from my Temple President, Sikhi Mahiti prabhu.  The letter was for Maharaja.

The narrow corridor opened into a small seating area outside Maharaja’s room.  I sat on one of the chairs next an older devotee in white.  Trai prabhu.  He was seated next to his wife.  We could see into the room from where we were sitting.  The room was covered with straw mats.   Maharaja was sitting on an asana on one side of a low, wooden desk.  Malati Mataji, a very senior disciple of Srila Prabhupada, was also seated on an asana on the other side of the table.  She wore a saffron sari.  They were both laughing.

Trai prabhu was looking at some photographs.  He also had a copy of the Bhagavad-gita in his hands.  While waiting to meet with Maharaja we spoke about Harinamas, devotees we both knew, Prabhupada’s books and what we would be doing in India.  After some time, Maharaja stood up, and walked Malati out of the room.  Trai went inside.  After an hour or so, Maharaja bade me enter.  I sat down.  ‘Who are you?’ Maharaja asked.  ‘Bhakta Michael, from Cape Town’, I replied.  I was nervous.  He asked, ‘How can I serve you?’  The question threw me.  Maharaja was the senior devotee.  Maharaja was the guru.  Shouldn’t it be the other way around.  So I said, ‘I should be asking you that question.  How can I serve you?’  Sitting with straight back and legs crossed Maharaja spoke in a deep voice, ‘Surrender to Krishna!’  Maharaja said, ‘I don’t take visitors after 6:30pm’.  It was 8:15pm.  I said, ‘Should I go?’  He said, ‘Stay.’  I felt privileged that he was letting me stay in his room.

Maharaja asked me what I did before I met the devotees.  I told him I had studied Law and a Master’s degree in History at the University of Cape Town.  He asked me, ‘What kind of History you studied?’  I explained to him that I had written a thesis on the abolition of the Slave Trade to the Cape at the turn of the 18th Century.  I further explained how unhappy I was studying Law.  My academic pursuit of History was an escape from Law, a subject which I had never really been interested in anyway.  He then asked specifically how I met devotees.  I explained that I had met a devotee at a book-stall near the University and shortly after had visited the Temple.  ‘How did you like Pune Yatra? What was the thing you liked the most?’  I liked the Harinam.  I asked Maharaja if he had received my letters.  He said that he hadn’t received any.  I mentioned to Maharaja that I had distributed books 108 Bhagavad-gitas as a Vyasa Puja (birthday of the guru) offering to Maharaja.  He smiled.

Maharaja carefully perused Sikhi Mahiti’s letter.  One of the notable things about this darshan with Maharaja was the feeling that he was listening to me with great attention and sympathy.  He asked me if I had his lecture tapes.  I said I had about fifty.  I explained why I wanted to take shelter from him.  He asked me what I planned to do in India.  It was my intention to follow Maharaja to Mayapur and then spend some time in Chowpatty.  I also mentioned that His Holiness Mahavishnu Swami had invited me to serve him in Bangladesh.  Maharaja intimated to me that it would be better if I stayed in Chowpatty.  Words came out from my heart to my mouth, ‘I am fallen compared to the brahmacaris here, Maharaja.  I often find myself in compromising situations in Cape Town.’  Maharaja consoled me, ‘Stay here some time.  It will be good for your brahmacharya.’

I offered Maharaja pictures of our Deities and a maha mangala sweet (a sweet offered to the Temple Deities in South Africa).  Maharaja gently dissuaded me from this action by saying, ‘Just wait.’  He gave me a sweetball, then accepted my gifts.  The mercy comes from above – not from below.

I have never felt a sense of inner happiness as I did after my meeting with Maharaja.  I couldn’t stop smiling.  I felt emotions I had never felt before.  Radhanath Maharaja was very gentle, understanding and patient.  Maharaja was very positive.  I never, for one moment, felt any negativity from Maharaja during that conversation.

ISKCON Juhu, Andheri, Mumbai, March 2007

Radhanath Maharaja greeted me after Radha-Rasabihari’s Morning Darshan.  I was talking to his godbrother, Narottama prabhu, whom I had met a couple of days before.  While talking to Narottama, Maharaja looked at me and said, ‘He’s a very nice devotee from South Africa’.

Later that morning, I was sitting in the foyer of the Juhu Temple browsing through photos of the previous night’s Rama Navami Festival on my digital camera.  Radhanath Maharaja was making his way towards the elevator to the guest-house.  Damodar Dulall prabhu, Maharaja’s personal servant, was a few meters ahead of Maharaja, danda in hand.  I got up, offered my gurumaharaja dandavats on the cool, marble floor and went back to my chair.

Damodar Dulall exclaimed, ‘Maharaja wants to see you!’  Maharaja beckoned me from the lift with his hand.  Startled, I put my camera away and went to the lift.  I couldn’t believe my luck!  Maharaja was calling for me!  Amiya Vilas Swami was also in the lift.  He informed Maharaja that he had a hernia.  Maharaja said, ‘I had the same five years ago.  It is very painful’.  Maharaja instructed Damodar Dulall prabhu to find him another room since the newly painted walls were aggravating his asthma.  Damodar Dulall prabhu scurried off, and Maharaja ushered me into his room.

I said, ‘Shall I close the door?’  Maharaja replied, ‘Yes’.  Then Maharaja said, ‘Come, sit on the bed’.  ‘Do you mind if I lie down?’ He said, ‘My health hasn’t been so good lately’.  Maharaja then spoke to me about second initiation.  (Second or brahminical initiation is awarded to Hare Krishna devotees when they demonstrate steadiness in Krishna consciousness or brahminical/priestly qualities).  Maharaja said he would give me second initiation before he left for Europe in May.

‘How long do you plan to stay in India?’ he asked.  I said that I had a return-ticket to South Africa in November.  I told him that I was having a sabbatical.  Maharaja asked, ‘And your authorities don’t mind?’  I said, ‘No’.  I told him that my uncle had given me an advance inheritance and it was my intention to travel.  He ascertained that it was my great uncle, Vernon, who had given me the money.  I said that I wanted to pay my last respects to him.  He said, ‘You should see your uncle’.  I mentioned to him that I would also like to visit the United States.  I wanted to see the places of Prabhupada’s pastimes in New York City.  Maharaja said I should have some service, that I should join up with Yajna Purusha prabhu when I was there.  I mentioned to Maharaja that I would like to join the Festival Of India programme (which goes all over the USA).  He replied, ‘I am a little familiar with things  in America.  Rather stay with Yajna Purusha’.  I added that I was not so much into physical activity.  Maharaja said, ‘Yes. Yajna Purusha’s programme is more suited to you’.

Maharaja also said that there were some nice brahmacaris (celibate monks) in New Vrindavan.  I said, ‘Of course I would like to go there.  And Los Angeles too.  Maharaja, I come from Cape Town.  They have their own interpretation of brahmacharya there’.  We then discussed Gopiparanhadana prabhu’s Brihad-Bhagavatamrita, my involvement in a production on Mayapur which had been screened on SA National TV and my role in the management of the Cape Town Temple.  I mentioned to Maharaja that I had just completed the Bhakti Sastri Degree (which covers some of the key scriptures of the Hare Krishna Movement).  Maharaja laughed as he said, ‘I never got it in thirty-seven years!’  I replied, ‘But, Maharaja, you are super-learned!  I had to do the course in order to study the books!’

Maharaja then asked me if I had developed any friendships with the boys at Radha-Gopinath Temple.  I replied, ‘Yes’.

I then mentioned to Maharaja some of the problems I had been having with some of the devotees in Cape Town.  He told me that I should submit to the Temple President, and support him; or carry on with something else…with the blessings of Bhakti Caitanya Maharaja and Partha Sarathi Goswami Maharaja.  I appreciated his openness.  I apologised to him, ‘I am sorry if I have disappointed you’.  He said that change is part of developing in Krishna Consciousness and that he was not disappointed.  It was natural.

I mentioned that on my return to South Africa I would like to take up the challenge of starting something new.  He said, ‘That is very difficult’.  I said that I felt as though I was ready for it.  It was not so much my problem with my President.  That had dissipated.  I was frustrated by the ethos in Cape Town.  I was struggling with brahmacharya there because the couple who were managing the Temple had no previous understanding of ashrama (monastic) life.

Maharaja said he was tired and that he was going to take rest.  ‘Maharaja, will you tell me when you are going to give me second’.  He replied, ‘Of course’.

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 5,500 times in 2010. That’s about 13 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 24 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 92 posts. There were 14 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 11mb. That’s about a picture per month.

The busiest day of the year was July 18th with 326 views. The most popular post that day was An Offering On The Disappearance Of His Divine Grace Aindra Prabhu.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were dandavats.com, facebook.com, planetiskcon.com, stumbleupon.com, and namahatta.org.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for http://www.mukundacharan.wordpress.com, friar park, burning man nudity, patti boyd, and mukunda charan.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

An Offering On The Disappearance Of His Divine Grace Aindra Prabhu July 2010
5 comments

2

Lyrical Lines September 2007
86 comments

3

Mukunda Charan Das July 2007
10 comments

4

Chanting On Japa Mala: An Introduction To The Chanting Of Hare Krishna On Beads May 2010
2 comments

5

Jagannatha Ratha Yatra 2008, Jagannatha Puri, Orissa November 2008
4 comments