Jagannatha's Chakra -- main banner
Heavy Use of Incense a Risk Factor for Cancer
submitted by Varshana Dasi
Posted January 10, 2011

Heavy use of incense doubles one's chance of getting cancer, especially in women. HH Hridayanada Maharaja asked that this article be dispersed to other forums so I am introducing it here.

Click Here

This article does mention the quality of the incense as a factor, yet I infer that it may be primary, since the burning of pure oils such as frankincense and myrhh is an ancient practice. Many cheaper types of incense use synthetic oils that only smell "nice" in the package. These are most likely to become toxic when burned.

Distressed Devotees Need Empathy, Not Slokas
by Dusyanta das
Posted September 29, 2010

After reading Muralidhara prabhu's article concerning the suicide of Citra devi dasi, I wanted to contribute by supporting the sentiment. Our ISKCON that was created by Srila Prabhupada is based on the principle of a family. If we live in a situation in ISKCON where there is no counselling, support and help. then this is not a representation of ISKCON and of Srila Prabhupada.

As we all go through our lives and our commitment to Srila Prabhupada we encounter reversals on the way. They can come in a number of manifestations — physically, emotionally, mental trauma, philosophical pressure, and family ups and downs. When we experience these reversals, then as humans we need support, understanding and help to get through it to a more healthy place on the other side.

Certainly, quoting texts and throwing them at a distressed person won't help a thing. There has to be a period of rehabilitation where there are others who know how to deal with the pain in a professional way. These people have been taught special techniques to employ for others to help deal with problems. They employ rest and relaxation techniques to bring you back to a place of peacefulness where the mind can operate in its proper function.

Then there are the physical rehabilitation workouts with others of a similar nature to communicate with so we can understand how others may have dealt with problems. A problem shared is a problem halved. We can meet new people and make friends on the road to being rehabilitated. This is such a good way to gain a healthy body, mind and attitude.

I had to undergo a full heart bypass operation a few years ago after suffering a heart attack. The heart attack itself was enough to change my perceptions and emotions to an alienated place, numbness and a feeling of shock. After the successful surgery I was enrolled in a holistic programme of rehabilitation which lasted six months.

Emotionally, I was all "strung out" and felt huge swings of attitude to the most normal situations. Just going back to my home after weeks in a hospital made me break down and cry my heart out. At the centre for rehabilitation I made new friends, we all worked together regularly — all different, young and old, male and female. We had two trained nurses at all times and access to medical facilities if necessary.

The second part of the course was for the mind. We learnt relaxtion techniques and had a counsellor on a one-to-one basis. On every level everything was explained to us all. Then after each session we had an open discussion for an hour or so.

My lasting problem was my memory of what happened after being anaesthetized. I had gone into a big shiny-black oval room, slipping into it from a high corner, where I lay all cold and helpless, feeling lonely and sad by myself. The memory was haunting for me, and it would not go away. Krsna was not there.

After relating this story to my therapist, she told me to write down every detail, as much as I liked, on a piece of paper, in pencil and then to burn the paper. But I modified the technique, though I followed it until the burning part. Instead, I made the paper into a little boat and placed it on a river just yards from my house. I watched it disappear and waved goodbye as it was swept away by the river. The weight immediately lifted off my mind, the haunting stopped, and the bad recollections faded away.

My point to all devotees is to find the help that you require to get you through problems. We are not alone; help is out there, and they are willing to support you through our problems. People are social animals, and this means we reciprocate with each other in a normal condition of life.

The renounced, detached, unhelpful devotee in an ISKCON centre who just throws slokas at you can be your worst enemy in times like that. You are not in a position to respond positively to that kind of behaviour. We need words of help, support and friendliness showing us that there is love and trust, that someone else cares for you affectionately and that there is a helping hand to hold.

Proposal for Bhaktivedanta Retirement Communities
by H.H. Bhagavat Maharaj
Posted August 27, 2010

This story is actually about my godbrother Sridhar Maharaja. He was from Canada. He had Hepatitis C, which is practically incurable. He had tried everything conventional and alternative, and all had failed. So he resigned himself to leaving his body. He was on a last visit to Canada to see some devotees before he went back to Mayapur to leave his body. I called him and we reminisced about our brahmachary days in Bombay, India. Sridhar Maharaja was not a fancy or proud person. He was what you would call a workingman's Swami. He never fussed over being a Swami or a guru; he was just one of the guys. Never wanted any special treatment. He was very ordinary, which made him very special.

At one point he said to me: "You know what, Bhagavat, the devotees all over the world are treating me so nicely. They are giving me such comfortable places to stay and such nice care and attention in my last days. But I feel bad. Because I am a sannyasi and guru, I get this service. But what about all of my godbrothers and godsisters who also sacrificed their youth and life for Srila Prabhupada? They do not get this kind of care and attention. I want that all of us should get the same care and attention."

As I heard him speak, I was deeply touched by his sentiment. I praised him for his genuine spirit and desire to see all of our spiritual siblings receive the care and attention they deserved. We finished our conversation, and I thought about it that night. The next day I called him and told him: "Maharaja, I will make a place for devotees to retire to and leave this world with the same care and attention that you are getting."

He said, "That makes me feel really happy. I am so glad that you will do this. Thank you so much for that. It is a great parting gift from you."

That was the last time we spoke; a couple of months later, he left this world.

I travel and preach all over the world. I have met many of my godbrothers and sisters who are living isolated and unfulfilled lives in little apartments, especially in America. I feel sorry that they have no place to go to live where they can have the association of devotees on a daily basis and finish their lives in peace and spiritual happiness. I am feeling compelled by Srila Prabhupada and by my promise to my dear godbrother Sridhara Maharaja to make such places where all the devotees can live and practice Krishna consciousness peacefully and happily in their last days.

Yadunandana Pada prabhu has an excellent record in serving his godsiblings in this capacity, and he was so excited when I mentioned to him that I wanted to start such a program. So I feel greatly honored to work with someone like him to make this possible

Dr. Jill Bormann’s research on chanting the “Hare Rama” mantra as a therapeutic tool is increasingly attracting the attention of health professionals and media sources (e.g., Click Here). In the 1990s, as part of my doctoral thesis, Dr. Neil Abell and I conducted quantitative studies on the effects of the Maha Mantra on mental health indicators, such as life satisfaction, stress and depression. My dissertation is entitled Effects of the Hare Krsna Maha Mantra on Stress, Depression, and the Three Gunas. Dr. Bormann contacted me several years ago because, amongst research on mantras, she was particularly impressed with the Maha Mantra studies published by Wolf and Abell. She referenced our writings in her work, and actually during a phone conversation with me she expressed that she would like to replicate the Maha Mantra studies. Parts of my dissertation and some articles on the Maha Mantra studies that have been published in scholarly social science journals are available at www.yedaveda.net. Below is an article I published in a magazine for the general public a few years ago, that relates to the Hare Krsna Maha Mantra and cites Dr. Bormann.

Jacuzzi for the Mind: The Sound of Transformative Communication

The morning after a 3-day transformative communication course I conducted in Brooklyn, I encountered a woman who had just completed the seminar. She was excited and had an experience she was eager to share with me. In the spiritual community where she lived she had taken a vow to chant daily a prescribed number of mantras on beads. She exclaimed, “This morning I realized that I don’t have to chant my rounds! I don’t have to chant my rounds!” Her exhilaration filled the air with a sense of liberation. Seeing me puzzled as to why she was happy to give up her vow, she went on, “I get to chant my rounds! I get to chant my rounds!” She then explained how that morning she had begun to finger her beads and chant a few mantras. For the first time in her decades of experience tears flowed from her eyes while chanting. For the first time her attitude wasn’t “I have to chant my rounds.”

Authentic mantra chanting and high-level communication practices are two complementary vehicles through which we can utilize sound vibration to realize our spiritual identity and connect with the innermost stratum of the living soul.

A genuine mantra is a potent transformational vibration. “Mantra” means spiritual sound vibration that extricates the mind from material entanglement. Jill Bormann has conducted research on mantra meditation with various populations including military veterans. She describes meditative time with a mantra as a “Jacuzzi for the mind. It’s something you can use to focus and calm yourself at a moment’s notice, …it doesn’t require money, and it’s non-toxic… a person just needs to make it a part of their lives.” My personal favorite mantra for meditation is one of India’s most beloved, the Maha Mantra- Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama Hare Hare. Studies have shown that this 16-word mantra reduces stress and depression and increases qualities such as balance, fulfillment, and sense of life purpose.

In our programs we focus on transformation through communication. Awareness of how we use sound to influence our consciousness and environment is a powerful approach to personal and interpersonal development. In the beginning was the word. Just as the divine creates with sound, we can productively examine what we generate in our life with our sounds.

For example, to what extent do we build roadblocks to effective communication through responses that convey messages of invalidation, disempowerment, or self-absorption? This might take the form of unnecessarily advising or warning, shallow praise, avoidance of vital issues, or prematurely giving solutions. Effective listening is essential for the creation of the sacred space that is crucial for life-enriching relationships. Such listening focuses on what the other person is saying- not what we’re saying to ourselves about what the other is saying. In our expression we can consider the degree to which we communicate from fear, neediness, and insecurity, as opposed to purpose, joy and inspiration. Through three days of intense immersion in transformative communication the mantra yogini shifted her consciousness from “I have to…”- burdensome, obligatory, and mechanical- to “I get to…”- vibrant, inspired, and fresh.

Chronic Fatigue
by Jagadvira das
Posted October 14, 2010

This post is in response to a request made by Rohini Priya dasi (Help Needed for Chronic Fatigue) I have had CFS/ME for about 30 years and I can relate to your concern about this mysterious and debilitating condition. Over the years I have tried different ways of eating in an effort to get back on my feet. By changing my eating habits I have begun to feel a lot better (between 50-90% improvement). I have found that by eating only raw food (prasadam) has helped more than anything else that I have tried. I tried to eat about 50% raw and it helped, but going 100% raw worked best for me. Fruits, vegetables, seeds and nuts. I won't go into too much detail here, but if anybody wants to contact me I'll be glad to help as much as I can.

Your servant Jagadvira das
jv27648 (AT) yahoo.co.uk