Category Archives: Preaching Tools

My Interview on Self-realization for Top Brazilian Fight Magazine, “Tatame”

I was interviewed for an article on MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) and yoga for Brazil’s biggest fight magazine, called Tatame.  Tatame has a print run of 22 thousand and is distributed all over Brazil. Because there are so many Brazilian UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) champions, including the legendary Anderson Silva, MMA has become huge in Brazil, the country’s favorite sport now after soccer.

Despite the mundane focus of the article, which was meant to show how yoga helps MMA fighters perform better, there was room to speak of yoga as a complete spiritual path, of the importance of self-realization and to include mention of our bhakti-yoga retreat, Pandavas Paradise.

The very beginning of the article, entitled “The Power of the Mind” had a quote from me in large print, saying:

“Yoga goes way beyond just physical activity or meditation. It’s a way of life, an enlightened way to deal with life, with increasing blissfulness, peace and mental clarity, to achieve the full potential of human life.”

The article ran to 4 pages with a large photo of me leading kirtan at Pandavas Paradise.

I got the interview because of an essay I’d written late last year, comparing the path of yoga to the UFC, in the sense that, in yoga spirituality, results matter, not just dogmas or religious traditions.

A full PDF of the article can be found here (in Portuguese):


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12hr Gita Weekend Course in São José dos Campos

On the 10th and 11th of December I taught another 12hr Gita course, this time in São José dos Campos – SP. SJ dos Campos is a good example of the major economic gains seen in Brazil in the last 10 years. This city of nearly one million people lies an hour and a bit from São Paulo and has technological, aerospace and car industries located there. Empty fields and landfills of ten years ago are now massively developed high income neighborhoods and fancy shopping malls.

In the midst of all this, a small group of qualified devotees are trying to establish a Krishna Consciousness preaching center. In sync with the successful recipe for urban preaching seen in other parts of the world, the leader there, Nanda Kumara Das (HDG) has a prasadam restaurant and yoga center (he’s both a cook and yoga teacher!). Nanda Kumara is an “old timer” by Brazilian standards, having started back in the early eighties as a full time brahmacari book distributor. His sankirtan consciousness persists to this day and he has nicely inspired the small group of devotees there, which includes two other yoga teachers, to regularly get books with him for distribution to friends, family, co-workers and any other people they may come in contact with.

In his spacious yoga studio, over his restaurant, 12 people gathered to spend 12 hours going over the entire content of the Bhagavad-gita. The mood was very peaceful and though we had complete newcomers and experienced devotees alike, they all greatly enjoyed the experience – as did I!

Here is some of the feedback I got:

“… The 12 hour Gita course was illuminating, and it brought to light several concepts which for me have always been somewhat obscure. I was also impressed with systematic and modern approach you applied, which facilitated the understanding of these ancient concepts… ” – Yogindra Das

“I have to thank you for this wonderful weekend that the Lord blessed us with. I hope to repeat it many times, for it meant a lot to me to spend 12 hours hearing about Krishna. Many of my doubts were cleared up and now I’ll be able to read the Gita more clearly. ” – Ranga Devi Dasi

“… it was a great pleasure … we have been privileged to learn this nectar.” – Bk. Alexandre

“This 12hr Gita helped me a lot to regain a state of  lucidity and serenenity that I had experienced during a period that was undoubtedly the best time of my life so far. I am very motivated to apply this method, in order to connect deeply with a higher consciousness and experience self-realization at a level beyond what I have already experienced in this incarnation. ” – Luiz Reis

“… we had hours of great wisdom. Thank you for introducing us to the Gita in such a simple and lighthearted way.” – Ana Paula

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Divine Days in Nova Gokula

I spent November 11-15th in Nova Gokula, the most famous rural temple in ISKCON Brazil. Two important events took place there during this holiday weekend: the national meetings of the ISKCON Brazil leaders and a 48h Kirtan.

Nova Gokula is a very special place with an authentic “dhama vibe” as a result of the intense devotion that has been cultivated there for over three decades, the passage of thousands of devotees and pilgrims and, of course, the presence of the Divine Couple in the temple in the form of Sri Sri Radha-Gokulananda .

The focus of the meetings of the National Council (CGB) was a leadership course taught by Hanuman Prabhu. The highlight of the course was Devamrta Maharaja’s daily talk on leadership, the GBC’s strategic planning innovations and devotee care. Devamrta Maharaja is the GBC for Brazil and has, in his own subtle and cautious way, brought about important changes to ISKCON Brazil.

One of the important decisions that came about was the appointment of three new Zonal secretaries: Dhanvantari Swami , Yamunacarya Prabhu and me. Hanuman Prabhu continues as Zonal Secretary, so now we have four working together in Brazil. Being the youngest and least experienced next to these three  great Vaishnavas, I was appointed  Zonal Secretary “candidate”, which means I have to “prove myself” on the job in the next 18-24 months. I ask for the blessings of the Vaishnavas in this regard!

Devamrta Maharaja gave a brilliant Srimad Bhagavatam class on Saturday, speaking on how sad it is to grow old without spiritual advancement, where desires continue piling up, but the senses are no longer able to act, death is approaching and everything is lost.

The 48h Kirtan started on Saturday. This great event was organized by Vaikuntha Murti Prabhu, who has proved himself time and time again as very competent in organizing tours and events. We had  48 hours non-stop chanting of the maha-mantra Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare / Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare! World renowned kirtaneers came from the US, Argentina and India: Amala Kirtan, Amala Harinam (pictured above), Ajamil Prabhus and Gunagrahi Maharaja. Hundreds of participants swam in an ocean of nectar of the holy names of Krishna in great bliss!

Great association, great kirtans, beautiful Deities and a chance to serve Srila Prabhupada’s mission: what else could one ask for?

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A Trip to Rio

During my one week trip to Rio de Janeiro, I had the opportunity to give lectures in three different places.

Thursday, Oct. 27, was the day we celebrated Govardhana Puja. The event took place at the Rio ISKCON Temple.

The Deities were beautiful.

And here’s a picture of the Govardhana Hill wth the Temple’s Govardhana Sila on top.

I talked about the importance of the day, focusing on the different ways of taking shelter of Krishna and its importance in our spiritual lives.

On Saturday, the 29th, I went to the pleasant mountain town of Miguel Pereira where the devotee couple, Tulasi Bhakta and Radharani, have a preaching center.  There I lectured on Dattatreya’s teachings from the Srimad Bhagavatam, “Enlightenment by the Natural Path.”  The next day we observed Srila Prabhupada’s dissappearance day. I spoke about the unique importance of Srila Prabhupada and how we are fortunate to have him as our founder-acharya.

And on Tuesday, November 1st, I spoke on the subject of karma at the new ISKCON center in Rio de Janeiro called “Govinda.” This yoga preaching center, organized by the ever enthusiastic Chandramukha Maharaja, is well decorated and comfortable and located in the heart of downtown Rio.

A group of more than 25 people attended the event.

My next trip will be to Nova Gokula, on the 11-15th November, where we’ll have our Brazil National Council meetings, with the presence of Devamrita Maharaja, our GBC.

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Weekend Gita Course in Uberaba

I was invited to the small city of Uberaba, in the state of Minas Gerais, to give a weekend 12h course on the Bhagavad-gita, on the 15th and 16th of October.

Uberaba is a peculiar city. I’ve never been in a place before where I’ve been so repeatedly told by the residents how terrible the place is for cultivating higher consciousness. Just about everyone I met there, on different and seperate occasions, would spontaneously tell me this! And I must confess I did also perceive a rather “heavy” mood to the place. Uberaba, amongst other things, is famous as national center for cow slaughter, as well as beer drinking and country music – I’m thinking this has something to do with it! The picture above of the city’s cathedral catches some of this mood.

There is one lone and brave devotee, Yadunatha Das (pictured above next to me), who fixes motors for a living, who tries to keep alive the flame of Krishna consciousness in the city. He is very, very humble and sincere. With the help of only two fixed congregational members, a steel worker and an electrician, they payed for all my travel and lodging expenses and offered the course to the public free of charge. Charging, they all agreed, would be hopeless given the city’s apathy for all things spiritual and uplifting.

Despite all these obstacles we had a group of 10 people, who very attentively heard the necterean teachings of the Gita and highlights of Srila Prabhupada’s brilliant commentary.

We also had a small Sunday Program, with two new guests and some of the guests from the Gita course. We had a lively questions and answers section that went for about an hour. They showed a lot of eagerness in hearing more and more!

Some of the participants sent me some nice feedback, which I post below:

“Thank you for all the instructions and wisdom that you gave us these days. These were very auspicious days… Who knows, maybe the consciousness of this city is changing, and perhaps expanding, as the seeds have been sown.” – Marluce

“Thanks again for all the lessons, good will, love of God and your example. Now I will try harder to change my habits and my mind.” – Fernanda

“For starters I want to thank you for the joy of having participated in the course over the weekend. Benefiting from it all brought me immense joy. The words in our vocabulary cannot clearly express what I felt … Thank you from the bottom of my heart.” -Telma

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10-day Preaching Tour of the Northeast of Brazil

From September 23rd to October 3rd, I did a multi-city 10-day preaching tour in the Northeast of Brazil. The trip started in Aracaju and ended in Natal, spanning some 800km, mostly coastal cities.   The Northeast of Brazil is famous for its beautiful beaches, but the pace of my tour was quite intense and I only managed some brief visits to the beach, for japa walks and a quick swim.

One very interesting fact about the tour is that it happened as a direct result of our yoga retreats at Pandavas Paradise. At the two ends of the tour were events organized by guests who previously had no contact with Krishna consciousness until they came to one of our retreats, and having liked what they heard and saw in Pandavas Paradise , invited me to speak in their home towns.  I was pleased to see this pratical result of our regular yoga retreats.

The first event was a wellbeing, alternative lifestyle, yoga event in Aracaju, in its third consective year. I was their guest speaker for this year. I gave the opening lecture, another lecture on the following day, and finished the event with kirtan and Nrsimhadeva prayers on the last day. Lots of books were sold and new contacts made. Aracaju has only one ISKCON devotee, as yet uninitiated, so it was good to inspire him and to try and help him organize a monthly program there.

From there I rented a car (turned out to be a bad decision!) and drove to Maceió.  In Maceió we have 4 ISKCON devotees who are trying to organize a regular program there. They organized for me to give a talk in a beachside hotel. I spoke on the teachings of Dattatreya, found in the 11th Canto of the Srimad Bhagavatam. Some very interested, intelligent people, who had previously had no contact with ISKCON, showed up. Again books were sold and a new contacts made.

From there I drove to Recife, crossing the great São Franciso river, the second most famous river in Brasil after the Amazon. Recife was one of the first cities in the Northeast of Brazil to open an ISKCON centre, back in the late 70’s. In the early days, their full-fledged Gaura Nitai temple was filled with dozens of fired-up sankirtan devotees. These days, they still have dozens of devotees in their congregation, including some Prabhupada disciples. Though the Deities are currently residing in Nova Vrajadhama, a rural project some 150km from there, the devotees are currently planning their return to Recife in the near future. Despite the Deities not being there, the preaching is going on nicely and they have a well located cultural center and restaurant near one of the city’s universities. I spoke on the Sri Siksastaka and did a quick questions and answers session on the Gita as well to a crowd comprised mostly of local devotees. Sweet 3 hours of krishna-katha – this was one of my favorite events of the whole tour.

From Recife I drove inwards, away from the coast, to Caruaru – a small city in the interior of the State of Pernambuco. An unlikely place for Krishna consciousness, yet the home of one of ISKCON Brazil’s oldest rural communities – Nova Vrajadhama. The local devotees have expertly cultivated Krishna consciousness here, to the point of having a major city square named after Prabhupada (for his centennial celebrations). I spoke that night in their preaching center, which functions as a restaurant during the day. The small place was packed to capacity and the crowd very attentive.

I slept in Nova Vrajadhama, some 40 minutes from the center of Caruaru. This is the home of one of only two Radha Krishna Deities in Brazil, the other being Nova Gokula. Sri Sri Radha Govinda are graceful, sweet Deities. A small community of approximately nine devotees live and take care of this remote dhama. You can see some pictures of this beautiful farm here.

From there my trip took an unexpected turn! First, I managed to get my rented car bogged in the mud, a mere 40 meters from where I started. A full hour of ardous digging, pushing and adjusting was needed to free the car. Because I was now late for a TV interview in my next stop, Campina Grande, I pushed forward with a bit too much passion through the rough 10km dirt road leading out of the farm, hitting a rock squarely on the oil reservoir. That would have been pretty bad already, however, because of the rough conditions of the road in general, I did not realize the seriousness of the bump we felt, and thus did not stop the car. As a result, two kilometers later the engine, now deprived of oil, was making a ghastly sound, forcing me to stop the car, which would then not start up again. Final tally: a blown engine! By the time I reached Campina Grande, the whole day had been spent dealing with the car rental company, police reports for insurance purposes, etc.

In Campina Grande I just had enough time to shower before going off for my Yoga Sutra lecture. Campina Grande is the home of one of our best urban ISKCON communities, with gorgeous Maha Gaura Nitai Deities and our Bhakti-shastri Seminary. The devotees there have been very well trained and inspired by Dhanvantari Maharaja.

No longer having a car, I continued my tour by bus. The last stop: Natal, where I spent the weekend teaching a 12 hour Bhagavad-gita seminar to an amazing group of about 20 Spiritists who are now getting a serious taste for Krishna consciousness. As I mentioned before, this group had their first contact with Krishna consciousness in Pandavas Paradise. They came to our Easter yoga retreat earlier this year and, since then, have been practicing japa, offering their food and studying Prabhupada’s books. The weekend Gita course in Natal was organized by them so they could continue to deepend their understanding and practice of Krishna consciousness. It was thus a great crowd, which included some local devotees as well. I expect that they will soon be fully practicing Krishna devotees.

Thus, with this brilliant weekend in Natal, my tour came to an end. Tired but very blissed from 10 days of spreading these wonderful teachings and associating with devotees and seekers, I returned to Pandavas Paradise.

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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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