Monthly Archives: June 2007

Dadati pratigrhnati

After I got the pictures of the kitchen up on my blog, I sent the link to the various retailers who helped outfit the kitchen. My dial-up is so slow that it was simply a matter of convenience; my computer does not fare well emailing a bunch of pictures, even if compressed.

All the retailers sent back positive emails, congratulating me on the completion of the project and saying that the kitchen looked great.

One response, however, was rather touching. Orion Horton-Henderson, the President of Horton Brasses, sent me the following email:

Dear Dana,

Thank you for sharing, it sounds like the end of a massive project. Ilove the kitchen and I can imagine it must be nice to be able to stay inside to do the laundry too.I read your blog a bit and really enjoyed your writings about yourfaith. I am very ignorant of the Hare Krishna religion and I was glad to learn just that little bit more. The depth and feeling of your beliefs is evident in your writing and I found it really beautiful.

Many thanks,

Horton Brasses

I am impressed by his exploration of my blog beyond just the photos of the kitchen. As I replied to him, a more timid soul would not have ventured beyond the Hare Krishna jargon. His email, a small detail (much like the beautiful knobs and pulls his company makes) added a new dimension to the way I think about this blog.


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Two Today

Here is a picture of our little Madhumati at 2 weeks old. The poem is from last year.


Almost a year has passed
since the birth of my daughter
two weeks early
but of no real consequence.
Born of average size for a papaya,
ripening with the warmth of my body
as she lay suckling across my chest,
sleeping and growing and sweetening
through those fourteen days
she was supposed to spend inside.

Almost a year has passed
since the disappearance of my guru
not unexpected but not timely.
I watched at home, his passing from this world
as I labored with my daughter.

I watched at home, still shots, of his still body
transparent, dry, tumored, disfigured, beautiful
breathing in the fragrant chanting of the devotees.
I watched at home, quiet images, of his quiet body
his room his body his pain silent.

Almost a year has passed
since the birth of my daughter
three hours after
my guru’s disappearance.
Born of average size for a papaya,
she will mature and be sheltered
by the love guidance chastisement faith
nourished in the association of my guru.


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Post-Nirjala Ekadasi

Usually, I dread Ekadasi. I can easily eat in moderation, limiting myself to a single meal a day. But a day without chapatis is usually a heavy burden for me. I do it, but without enthusiasm.

This year, however, I was very enthusiastic for Nirjala. I was not planning a complete fast from frood and water. Rather, I would drink but not eat. I thought this realistic approach would lead me to a succesful day of performing some austerity for the Lord.

I am not a good faster. Half day, no problem. Three o’clock, okay. But the entire day? No way. I know this is more of an obstacle of the mind rather than the body, but so far in my devotional life, I have not been able to defeat the mind in this regard. At the same time, I know I have not really tried. I am too attached to the overall wellness of my body, with it’s delicate digestive system, that I do not want to act passionately one day, thus disturbing my health for the next month.

Excuses, excuses.

More importantly, I wanted to focus on sravanam, kirtanam, visnoh smaranam. I rose early, the way Prabhupada wants us to start our day. Mangala-aroti was sparsely attended. Instead of feeling surprised or disappointed that more of the community did not show up on such an important day of the Vaisnava calender, I chose to meditate on how I should increase my own attendance at the morning program.

Truly, I would like the enthusiasm I felt in anticipation for this year’s Nirjala to help me improve my devotional habits on a daily basis. What I wanted for Nirjala is what I want for everyday. Rise early, attend the program, chant early in the morning, do some seva, read. Minimize distractions such as internet use and talking on the phone. Of course, I couldn’t minimize the needs of my children but I explained to them the importance of the day. Even though they are still rather small, at least Venumadhava can begin to practice some austerity and gain some transcendental knowledge.

When I returned home I wanted to continue my chanting but my husband had some things he wanted to speak to me about. At first I was internally resistant because it was Nirjala and I really wanted to use the pre-kids-awake time to the best of my spiritual advantage. But considering I am in grhasta asrama, and Krishna Consciousness is about relationships, I let my time surrender to the situation. We connected really well and I felt surprised at the pleasure I got out of the interaction. The past few weeks have been leaps and bounds for our relationship. I am gaining insight into the saying that Laksmi Devi does not reside in houses where there is quarrel. As things improve in our spiritual life, our marriage improves. And as our marriage improves, an overall auspicious quality is brought into our home.

After we spoke, I continued with my chanting. While the caliber of my chanting remains at a very low and distracted level, I appreciate how the early, pre-children hours of the morning are most suitable for the cultivation of bhakti.

The day continued with us busily trying to ready our house for Maharaja and all our guests. The day after the program with Maharaja, HH Candramauli Swami will be giving class at our home. Since Panihati I have been feeling tremendous enthusiasm. And with this enthusiasm I see the Lord reciprocating with me by increasing our service. Suddenly, there is a burst of opportunity in our life to serve the devotees. I can’t see how we will possibly pull it off, but without a doubt the Lord will make arrangements. And if all else fails, we will take shelter of the merciful nature of the devotees.

By 3 o’clock I found myself ready to dissasemble my kids. Which, of course, is not allowed. So instead of losing my mind, I ate. It was one meal, simple but cooked. I felt a little lame eating a cooked meal. I should have just taken some anukalpa prasadam. To mitigate my indulgence, I took special effort not to eat for the rest of the day.

In the evening we walked out to the mulberry tree, picking fruit for the upcoming programs. I made sure I did not eat a single mulberry. I would have been better off if that was actually all I ate.

After the kids went to sleep, my husband read me the pastime of Haridasas Thakur passing from this world. A purport which stuck with me was for the verse Antya 11.24:

Unless one has come to the platform of spontaneous love of God, he must follow the regulative principles. Thakura Haridasa was the living example of how to follow the regulative principles. Similarly, Raghunatha dasa Gosvami was also such a living example. In the Sat-Gosvami-astaka it is stated, sankhya-purvaka-nama-gana-natibhih-kalavasani-krtau. The Gosvamis, especially Raghunatha dasa Gosvami, strictly followed all the regulative principles. The first regulative principle is that one must chant the Hare Krsna maha-mantra loudly enough so that he can hear himself, and one must vow to chant a fixed number of rounds. Not only was Raghunatha dasa Gosvami chanting a fixed number of rounds, but he had also taken a vow to bow down many times and offer obeisances to the Lord.

These instructions were very wonderful to hear on Nirjala Ekadasi. Vows have never been a strong point for me. The seriousness of the culture we have invited into our lives when we take nama-diksa is difficult to understand. The point is subtle, yet profound. The potency can only be understood once we begin to seriously follow.

In a class I have of Varsana Swami, Maharaja asks, “How do you get the mercy of Caitanya Mahaprabhu?” His answer is, “By following strictly the instructions of Caitanya Mahaprabhu.”

This morning I stopped by the samadhi site to talk with the devotees. It is the Disappearance Day of HH Bhakti Tirtha Swami on the Roman calendar. Also, it is Madhumati’s second birthday. Despite working all day long in the humid, constant heat, the devotees working on the samadhi followed Nirjala Ekadasi. They had every excuse to drink water, yet they didn’t. They followed strictly and therefore were empowered by the mercy.

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Loving Exchanges

I am feeling the richness of the ordinary. Our time at the barn in the evenings with Mother Kaulini, who always is a source of inspiration and encouragement for my family, is like the appearance of the cooling moon at the end of a hazy summer day. Whatever fire burns my mind, her association quickly extinguishes.Her wisdom is simple yet deep. Instructive, not preachy.

Last nite she shared some some words from H.H. Satsvarupa Maharaja. Many years ago when Mother Kaulini was taking care of the Gita Nagari sankirtana ladies, she felt some frustration with the ladies, their minds and the service. When speaking to Satsvarupa Maharaja about it, he instructed her to “expand your heart and act like a mahatma.” Anyone who knows Mother Kaulini can attest to the fact that she has followed that instruction without deviation.

Mother Kaulini makes no distinction. She is so open hearted and broad minded, readily accepting the service of anyone who makes some sincere effort.

After the Sunday feast class, which Mother Vrajalila gave on the six loving exchanges between devotees, Mother Kaulini spoke to me about Jayananda Prabhu. She said that he ate all kinds of things. He didn’t do this for his own sensual gratification. Rather, he accepted whatever anyone offered him in the mood of, “this is a devotee offering me prasadam.”

I pray that I can one day imbibe that mood of the great Jayananda Prabhu and see the love and devotion in all the devotees efforts. I pray that I can one day be at the level of consciousness that I do not have to make distinctions. That my faith in Krishna will be so strong that I do not feel I have to protect myself from material energy. Dear Krishna, please protect me from my own offenses as I struggle along this bhakti-marg, trying to walk in the dust of the great souls. Please empower me to expand my heart so that I may get the mercy of the mahatmas.

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My husband, the Murse

Yesterday my husband unexpectedly came home from Baltimore at 8 am. He called out of work for Thursday and Friday so we could spend some time together and his mind could take a break from the mundane atmosphere of the hospital.

We spent the day playing in the creek with the kids and then doing quality control at our mulberry tree. Madhumati is queen of the mulberries and can out eat us all! Although my husband is not far behind her.

My husband expressed to me that sometimes it is really hard going to work because his home life is so pleasant. I was somewhat surprised because I really didn’t think he enjoyed being around us all that much. Not only is he a man of few words, but I know how much he valued his pre-married time in the asrama. I see him hankering for that at times and always pray that Krishna will make arrangements for him to experience periods of undistracted Krishna Consciousness.

His job is intense; people are critically ill. As an ICU nurse, he witnesses daily the unecessary, prolonged, expensive suffering of patients who won’t let go. They hold on to a life unrecognizable as such simply because a Doctor encourages them. Don’t give up hope. Be a fighter.

But no one can defeat material energy. Prabhupada says that the only thing certain at the time of birth is death. Yet few people, even when faced with the most horrific physical conditions (bowel contents spilling out of open wounds in the side of their stomach, heart transplant where the heart is too big and the Doctor cannot close up the chest…the stories seem to get grosser day by day) concede defeat. They are the most foolish because they are already defeated.

I see my husband has so much compassion for these souls. When he worked in NC, it seems that he was able to do more direct preaching. From time to time, he would even have a patient who knew the devotees. Although he is now working in the northeast, his patients and co-workers are generally less sophisticated and not at all knowledgable or even interested in Krishna Consciousness. Nevertheless, my husband does his preaching.

Sometimes I joke with my husband that he should wear black scrubs or that he is the angel of death. I joke that if I was in the hospital I wouldn’t want him as my nurse. But actually I would. I would because my husband really tries to imbibe the philosophy of Krishna Consciousness by applying it to his nursing philosophy.

He cannot tolerate the lack of information given to the patients nor can he tolerate the promulgation of false hope in the divinity of medicine. Families prolong the suffering of loved ones to have more time together but really they just lose time as they make arrangements for their loved ones to continue to live off of machines while their suffering increases and their level of consciousness diminishes.

He is the giver of bad news. He tells the woman who accidently became parapalegic after some unrelated surgery that she is now parapalegic. He does this despite the fact that the doctor, the same doctor who told my husband that she’s the “new para”, tells the patient, “just keep trying to move your legs, we don’t know what happened, but just keep trying to move your legs.”

He gives the bad news not to crush their hope, but rather to give them a perspective on their new reality. To encourage them to contemplate their life and to contemplate their death. Some people have surprisingly profound experiences at the end of life if they are encouraged in that way.

But sadly, most don’t. Especially when their families are around.

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The Kitchen





The last bead of silicone has been applied and the kitchen is finally done. Well, except for the…oh never mind! Here are the pictures and a list of sources.

pine cabinets: Ram Wood Cabinetry

cabinet hardware: Horton Brasses

cobra soapstone countertops and custom 40″ sink: M. Texeira Soapstone

character oak floor, 3,4,5″ widths & Streetshoe water emolsion finish: Heister House Millworks

land of liberty paint (green): Benjamin Moore

alabaster paint: Sherwin Williams

Boston Harbor jelly jar lights: Hechinger’s

ceiling fan and undercabinet lighting: Lowe’s

24″ fireclay Porcher farm sink: Ira Wood and Son’s

Jotul Allagash gas stove: Creekside Hearth

real brick veneer tile: Inglenook Tile

3 x 6 carerra marble tile: Banta Tile and Marble

laundry room/breezeway and porch floor tile: Lowe’s

wall mounted satin nickel faucets: Plumbingsource-store (ebay store)

The room was gutted. Five layers of flooring ripped out. Newspaper from 1929 was found in between pine floorboards as insulation. Wood cookstove removed and Deity sink put in it’s place. Back staircase ripped out to make room for fridge. Dish sink put where fridge used to be. Jotul stove placed in alcove made when doorway to cellar boarded up (maybe that was done during the 1929 remodel).
View from the prasadam hall…
Shot of dish sink.
Where the back staircase was.
Where the cookstove was.

Cabinet above big sink for showing off jam.
Long counter stretch was where sink originally was. Also, we discovered the original chimney in on the green wall, near the corner.

Back door now goes to the newly built breezeway, instead of the back porch.
Was a boarded up doorway, now a hearth.
So we couldn’t afford stacked cabinets. We could afford a nod to stocked cabinets.
Integrated drainboards are good.
Now I don’t have to go outside to do the laundry!!
back porch


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More Panihati Pictures

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