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ISKCON Brazil Honors Srila Hridayananda Das Goswami

ISKCON Brasil published this statement today celebrating Srila Hridayananda Das Goswami’s 40th sannyasa anniversary and his innumerous achievements in Brazil and Latin America.

Dear devotees,

Please accept our sincere obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

The Executive Committee (EC) of ISKCON Brazil offers congratulations to Hridayananda Das Goswami, in this Nrsimha Caturdasi, for completing 40 years as a sannyasi.

The importance of Hridayananda Das Goswami’s missionary devotional service to Brazil is immeasurable.

ISKCON’s first leader not only in Brazil but throughout Latin America, Hridayananda Das Goswami – following the instructions of his spiritual master, the founder-acarya of ISKCON, Srila Prabhupada – coordinated the construction of temples and guided and initiated thousands of Brazilian devotees. Not to mention his achievements in the translation of the sastras.

To Hridayananda Goswami our eternal gratitude and sincere obeisances from the devotees of Brazil.

Your servants of the Executive Committee,

Dhavali Das (Chairman), Daruka Das, Mathura Natha Das, Sri Krishna Murti Das

Estimados devotos,

Reverências sinceras. Todas as glórias a Srila Prabhupada.

O Comitê Executivo (CE) da ISKCON Brasil oferece congratulações a Hridayananda Das Goswami por, neste Nrsimha Caturdasi, completar 40 anos dos seus votos de sannyasi.

A importância do serviço devocional missionário de Hridayananda Das Goswami para o Brasil é incomensurável.

Primeiro líder da ISKCON não apenas no Brasil, mas em toda América Latina, Hridayananda Das Goswami – seguindo as instruções do seu mestre espiritual, o acarya-fundador da ISKCON, Srila Prabhupada – coordenou a construções de templos, orientou e iniciou milhares de devotos brasileiros. Sem mencionar seus inúmeros trabalhos de tradução dos sastras.

A Hridayananda Goswami, eterna gratidão e sinceras reverências dos devotos do Brasil.

Seus servos do Comitê Executivo
Dhavali Das (presidente), Daruka Das, Mathura Natha Das, Sri Krsna Murti Das

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Angry Birds Yoga now on Wikipedia

Noticing a spike in visits to this blog, I was surprised and happy to learn that my essay Angry Birds Yoga is now mentioned in the Wikipedia entry for Angry Birds.

The paragraph reads:

“Angry Birds has inspired works of philosophical analogy. A five-part essay entitled “Angry Birds™ Yoga – How to Eliminate the Green Pigs in Your Life” was written by Giridhari Dasa of ISKCON Brazil, utilizing the characters and gameplay mechanics to explain various concepts of yoga philosophy as understood by Gaudiya Vaishnavism.[98][99][100][101][102] The piece attracted much media attention, in Brazil and abroad, for its unique method of philosophical presentation.[103][104][105][106] The piece was also recognized and appreciated by Rovio Mobile’s Peter Vesterbacka, who was prompted to comment, “Very cool! I can see Angry Birds Yoga becoming a worldwide craze;-) “.[98]

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Angry Birds Yoga on MTV

My Angry Birds Yoga essay was now mentioned in a show on Brazilian MTV. You can see a brief clip of it here:

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Angry Birds Yoga Making a Splash in Brazil

My Angry Birds Yoga essay, originally published in this blog (see here), is getting the attention of the media in Brazil.

In less than a week, it’s been mentioned in three separate articles:

1) First in a blog by a famous columnist (800 thousand page views/month), click here to see it.

2) Then in a large newspaper of the 3rd biggest State in Brazil, click here to see it.

3) And today in another large newspaper, in the Northeast of the country, click here to see it.

Peter Vesterbacka, the CEO of Rovio, the company that makes Angry Birds, wrote: “I can see Angry Birds Yoga becoming a worldwide craze;-)”. I don’t know about it becoming a worldwide craze yet, but at least it’s catching the attention of the media here in Brazil!

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Spiritual Yoga and Reincarnation Gain Acceptance in the US

The latest report from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life shows that Americans are getting more “spiritual”, believe more in yoga as a spiritual practice and in reincarnation.

Charles Blow wrote an interesting column about this (click here to read it) in the NY Times. He writes:

For the first time in 47 years of polling, the number of Americans who said that they have had a religious or mystical experience, which the question defined as a “moment of sudden religious insight or awakening,” was greater than those who said that they had not.

And what’s even more interesting for us who are trying to share our Krishna consciousness, self-realization through the process of yoga and Vedic philosophy, is that an increasing number of Americans believe in reincarnation, including those who identify themselves as Protestants and Catholics.

A full 20% of Protestants believe in reincarnation. For Catholics the percentage is even higher: 28%.

Furthermore, about the same percentages [20%, 28%] said they believe in astrology, yoga as a spiritual practice and the idea that there is “spiritual energy” pulsing from things like “mountains, trees or crystals.”

Interestingly more Americans are also “experiencing” contact with the dead or with ghosts. Charles Blow writes:

Since 1996, the percentage of Americans who said that they have been in the presence of a ghost has doubled from 9 percent to 18 percent, and the percentage who said that they were in touch with someone who was dead has increased by about a third, rising from 18 percent to 29 percent.

It’s only been a few decades (starting in the late sixties) since America has been seriously exposed to yoga and eastern mysticism. The enormous increase in acceptance of these spiritual practices and ideas in such a short time indicates that by mid-century these ideas could become quite mainstream. It’s important to note, however, that people are not interested in changing their religion, but are comfortable accepting ideas and practices of other traditions into their spiritual life. Thus, it’s likely that the more we can present Krishna conscious ideas and practices in a non-sectarian, non-ethnic way, the more acceptance it will gain.

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Our Dying World

I recently watched a rather dramatic video with dire warnings (to whom exactly I’m not sure, probably Caucasian Christians) about the upcoming muslim take over of Europe. And, no, the takeover is not by armies or terrorist attacks – but by babies!

 The video points out that native Europeans are dying off. The average fertility rate (that’s the number of children per woman) for the European Union (according to the CIA) is only 1.51, far below the 2.11 replacement value (that’s the value necessary just to maintain the current  population). They claim, however, that Muslim immigration and the far larger Muslim community fertility rate, is radically increasing the percentage of Europeans who are Muslims. They say that 50% of all babies born in Belgium are Muslims. And that by 2050 Germany will be a Muslim majority state.

I became interested in the subject and watched another alarmist documentary, called “Demographic Winter – The Decline of the Human Family”. This 50 minute documentary points out that humanity is dying off, with decreasing fertility rates worldwide, independent of race, religion and continent. This documentary points out the following major factors for this:

1) Increasing participation of women at the workplace, which leads them not to have time to have babies, as well as increasing the “cost” of interupting their carreers to have babies.

2) The sexual revolution, which makes sex come easy and with less and less strings attached.

3) The “divorce revolution”, infusing all marriages with a high degree of uncertainty, thus providing a negative stimulus for having children.

4) Prosperity. Men and women increasingly get married later in life, mostly because they are busy trying to become prosperous, thus having less time to have children. The current economic model of the world makes children an economic burden.

5) Innacurate Assumptions: a) Most of us still think that the world is threatened by a population explosion, when actually it’s just the opposite. The population of the world vastly increased only because longevity increased. But the current fertility rate for the world is below replacement values. b) The idea that less population is economically better is not true – statistics show that countries with the greatest decreases in population (Spain, Russia and Japan, for example) are having acute economic troubles. Increased populations actually promote economic growth and cheaper food prices.

The documentary suggests that the solution to the fertility rate crisis is to revert to a more paternalist society where women are again more dedicated to taking care of the home and children. They also stress the importance of strengthening the institution of  marriage.

All this made me think how carefully planned human society is. Krishna (through the Vedas and other scriptures), so carefully laid out the fundamental rules for a healthy society – the rules for the different varnas, the roles of men and women, the different ashrams, etc. Our attempts to rewrite the rules and traditions, especially in the last 100 years, are leading to massive chaos on so many levels. We are now literally dying off. I’m increasingly aware of how this current lifestyle we have come to consider “normal” is but an artificial bubble which is wreaking ecological havoc and encouraging unsustainable human behavior. I reckon that those of us who will live 50 years or more will see a world culture with more emphasis on religion and traditional values, as well as a much more sustainable, more agrarian and local, economic model.

To end of on a lighter note, I’ll leave you with Dilbert’s take on the death of capitalism:

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Anti Gay Marriage Video

This video is not a GBC production, but I expect that many GBC members would endorse it! 

This campaign has achieved notoriety for its ludicrous format and content.

A very interesting article was written about it in the New York Times – click here to read it.

This shows that the current stand of the GBC on the gay issue is on the furthest fringe of the right. ISKCON is aligning itself with groups that are subject to ridicule and farce. Not a great way to spread our message. It’s especially worrisome because other vaishnava groups, such as Tripurari Swami’s group, are firmly mainstream on this issue and accepting of gay couples. Even Srila Hridayananda Maharaja has “moderated” his opinion that we should “recognize and encourage” gay monogamy, and included in his discourse that gays are, in a sense, “abnormal” and not worthy of the same rights, namely marriage and equal social acceptance of their relationships,  as “normal” heterosexual couples.

For a hilarious response to the above NOM video, click here.

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