Monday, November 1, 2010

Diwali Picnic !

Dallas Bal-Mukund center celebrated Diwali in a fun way. Thanks to Shreya for sharing the experience and sending us the pictures of the event!

Radhey Radhey,
What a beautiful day for outdoor Diwali celebration today! I have never had a picnic in late October in Texas, but looks like this is the best timing for outdoor gathering.
Dallas Bal-Mukund center celebrated Diwali in Bobwoodruff park in Plano, TX. It was lots of fun. After the initial meet & greet, we started art & craft project of decorating diyas. The children painted diya with different designs
and decorated them. It was really nice to see even adults getting interested in painting the diyas for Diwali.
After that, we all played "dog and the bone" game, not sure if I got this name correct. I really enjoyed playing this, it was good to see all adults fighting for a bone :-)
We had delicious lunch --- yummy vegetables and different variety of South Indian rice! And lots of russ gullas and ice-cream! I ate too much food and I am sure everyone else did too.
After a heavy lunch, we all sat down and shared how Diwali is celebrated in different parts of India and we also narrated our favorite memories of Diwali celebration. It was amazing to see how different parts of India celebrate Diwali differently. One common theme was to eat sweets and get new clothes!
Towards the end, the boys and the men started cricket, while women sat and talked about devotion, satsang, Swamiji's programs, etc. I think the cricket team had the most fun, they did not want to go home.
Many thanks to Lakshmiji for organizing this picnic! And many thanks to Arunaji and Bindiya ji for all the fun activities. Many thanks to all the cooks for making yummy food! And most importantly, many many thanks to all the participants for making this event/celebration a success!
I am happy that while growing up in USA, our Bal-Mukund children have opportunities to learn and experience our festivals and culture. I am sure they will treasure these memories of their childhood one day.
Looking forward to next gathering,

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Friday, October 29, 2010

The Great - Hearted Monkey

  The Great - Hearted Monkey
High up in the Himalayas, in a forest glade by the banks of the river Ganga, there lived a noisy band of monkeys and their giant King Monkey. By the side of the clear gushing water, stood a tall shady tree bearing big, beautiful and juicy mangoes. All the monkeys loved these mangoes and ate them as soon as they ripened.  Their wise giant king had warned them not to let a single juicy fruit fall into the river.  If the current carried the fruit down the river, to the land where humans lived, they would surely come in search of delicious fruit and destroy the peace in the land of the monkeys.  Many days later, a branch of the tree that hung low over the river, fell into the water.  A mango hidden behind an ant's nest accompanied the log downstream.  Due to the rapid flow of the river it reached the city of Benaras. One morning, when Brahmadutta, the king of Benaras was bathing in the river, a couple of fishermen found a bright golden fruit caught in the mesh of the net.  Excited with this exotic fruit, they took it to show the king.  The King examined the fruit carefully and asked where it had come from and what it was called.  The fishermen guessed that it must have flowed down the river from the valleys of the far-flung Himalayas. He asked them to cut the fruit and taste it.  It was delicious.  He shared the rest of the delicious fruit with his ministers and the Queen who loved its flavor.  A few days passed, but the king could not get this exotic fruit out of his mind.  He could not work, rest or sleep.  Unable to control his temptation, he set sail in search of this mysterious fruit.  He organized a fleet of rafts and sailed up the river accompanied by his men and a few fishermen.  Many days and nights went by and they passed many valleys until they finally came to the one where the mango tree stood.  The King was delighted by his discovery and began enjoying the mangoes to his heart's content.  At nightfall, the king lay down to sleep under the mango tree while his faithful soldiers stood guard.  Fires were lit on either side for protection against wild animals.  In the middle of the night when the guards had dozed off to sleep, the monkeys came and finished all the mangoes that were left on the tree.  The King awoke with all the noise and ordered his guards to shoot at the monkeys so that they could feast on monkey flesh along with the mangoes.. On hearing this, the monkeys trembled with fear and escaped to inform their king.  They told him what had happened and he assured them not to worry.  The King Monkey came up with a plan.  He climbed up the tree and swung across the river on a branch.  He found a bamboo shoot, which he measured and cut carefully.  Then he tied one end of it around his waist.  He tied the other end around a tree trunk.  He decided to leap back to the mango tree and help the rest of the monkeys across the bridge with the help of the bamboo shoot.  He had not taken into account the portion that he had tied around his waist.  When the King Monkey sprang into the mango grove, he was just able to cling to a branch of the mango tree.  He quickly summoned his monkeys to climb over his back and onto the reed, in order to escape to the other side.  In this way, the entire troupe of monkeys climbed over his back one by one and made it to safety.. Unfortunately, there was one evil monkey, Devadutta, who hated his leader and wanted to destroy him.  This mean monkey purposely jumped hard over his poor king's back and broke it, while he himself escaped to the other bank. King Brahmadutta, who had been awake for a while, had observed this whole episode.  He felt extremely sorry for the King Monkey and asked his men to help lower him to the ground.  He had him gently bathed and wrapped in a soft yellow cloth and asked him why he had sacrificed himself for his tribe.  The great monkey answered that he was their guide and chief; they were his children and it was his duty to protect them.  He had absolutely no regrets as he had ensured their safety.  He said that the king should always be mindful of his subjects' welfare, even at the cost of his own life.  Saying this, the King Monkey died at peace with himself. King Brahmadutta ordered his men to organize a funeral fit for a king.  He then built a shrine in the King Monkey's memory where he offered flowers, lit candles and incense.  Returning to Benaras, he built another shrine and asked his people to pay homage to this great soul.  He always remembered the last words of the King Monkey and ruled his subjects with wisdom and compassion.  King Brahmadutta learned a great deal that day.  The monkey demonstrated great leadership and care for his people.  He placed the safety of his subjects before anything else.  The King Monkey was a great example of sacrifice and care for others.
Moral:  Willingness to give of oneself and one's possessions and putting others needs before ours, is a noble virtue and an important one in the service of God and His creations.  
This story is selected from the book, Bal-Mukund Character Building Series - Vol 3 (A collection of  21 inspiring stories with beautiful illustrations)
Must have for all kinds! Get your collection of Bal-Mukund books TODAY Visit Bal-Mukund Gift Shop

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Shree Krishna is the True Friend!

This story comes from the Shreemad Bhagavatam.

Sudama, a poor brahmin boy, was a very close friend of Krishna. They went to the same ashram for their studies. Their guru was Sandipani.

As times passed by, Krishna became the King of Dwaraka and married Princess Rukmini, the Goddess of Prosperity. Sudama married a simple brahmin girl. He led a life of a devotee. He prayed and read holy books. He had no interest in worldly attractions. He was loved and respected by one and all, and his family lived happily.

Since Sudama led a very simple life, there was shortage of money all the time. His family had very little food to eat and few clothes to wear. As the children started going through hard times, Sudama's wife got very worried. She respected her husband very much, but on a cold night when her children shivered without a blanket, she went to her husband. She said, "Please go and meet your friend Krishna, King of Dwaraka. He will surely help us to lead a better life."

Sudama wanted to meet his old friend too, but he told his wife that he would not ask Krishna for anything. His wife agreed. She said she would be content with the Lord's blessings, which He would surely improve their condition in some way.

Before leaving for Dwaraka, Sudama asked his wife, I must give a gift to my Friend when I see Him after such a long time. What have you got that I may give to Him? His wife could find nothing else in their poor hut that she could give. All she could find was flattened rice. She packed the rice in a cloth and gave it to her husband, saying, give this to Krishna when you meet Him.

Sudama left for Dwaraka with his small gift. After walking for days, Sudama reached the palace. He felt uncomfortable and shy. He was thinking, I might have been Krishna's friend in school, but now He is a King! I am nobody. Will Krishna remember me? Finally, he sent a message for Krishna that Sudama, His school friend, had come to see Him.

Upon receiving Sudama's message, Krishna came running and embraced Sudama. Krishna took him inside the palace and made him sit on his bed. Krishna and His queen Rukmani washed Sudama's feet and fed him a delicious meal. After the warm welcome, Krishna asked, "Tell me Sudama, what can I do for you?" By this time, Sudama's heart was overflowing with gratitude because of the warm welcome by his friend. Sudama felt, Krishna has given me so much of love and respect. Is that not enough? How can I ask Him for anything more?

Seeing the opulence of Krishna's palace, Sudama was feeling shy to offer his gift of flattened rice. Krishna knew everything. "Did you bring me anything?" asked Krishna. Sudama could not even respond.

Krishna saw the little bundle hanging from Sudama's waist. He grabbed it and pulling it open, He said, "I see that you have brought my favorite flattened rice for me." He relished Sudama's rice and ate all of it.

Noticing that his friend looked ashamed of his small gift, Krishna said, "You have given me this gift which is very dear to me because it has been brought with love."

Next day, Sudama left his friend to go back home. He had not told Krishna anything about his poverty, and had not asked for any kind of help from Him.

On his way home, he thought of his wonderful friend and the joyous time spent together. When he reached home, he was surprised to see that instead of his small hut, a big house stood there. His wife and children, all wearing new clothes, came out to meet him. The house was filled with all things needed to live a comfortable life.

Sudama felt the glow and warmth of his dear friend's love and understanding. Sudama did not ask for anything. Yet, the Lord had given Sudama what he and his family needed. The Supreme Lord had blessed him with his miraculous power of loving care.

Sudama lived a simple life of a hermit all his life, while his family enjoyed the gifts of richness given by Krishna.

Moral - God knows what we need, and helps us at the right time. He only wants our devotion and love. If you want to live under God's love and protection, just place yourself in His hands, and follow His will.

This story is selected from the book,
Bal-Mukund Character Building Series - Vol 2
A collection of 27 inspiring stories with beautiful illustrations
A must have for all kids!
Get your collection of Bal-Mukund books TODAY!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Little Krishna ask,"If we are made of mud, why can't I eat mud?"

मैया मैं तो पायो भल गुरु-ज्ञान ।
कालि गयौं कालिन्दी तट हौं खेलन संग सखान ।
मुनि दुर्वासा ज्ञान दियो तहँ दै वेदादी प्रमान ।
कह्ो मनुज तनु कहँ माटी को एक खिलौना जान ।
उपजत माटी ते माटी महँ मिलत अन्त सच मान ।
मैया कह ुयह हौंहूँ जानति कहा कहन चह कान्हु ।
जो यह जान माय तो काहे देति न माटी खान ।
मैया कह लाला ! माटििहं ते उपजत तरुन लतान
जो खैहौ माटी तो निकसिहं तरु नासा मुख कान ।
लाला कह अब कबहुँ न खइहौं मनहुँ मनहिँ डरपान ।
कह 'कृपालु' हरि अब जनि सुनियो बाबन के व्याख्यान ॥
(Prem Ras Madira) 

Young Shree Krishna tells his mother, "I have received very good knowledge from a guru.”
Yesterday, I went to the shores of river Kalindi to play with my friends.
There, Sage Durvasa imparted us knowledge, giving quotations and evidence from the Vedas.
He told me that this human body is made from mud/earth (five elements), just like a toy.
It is made up of mud/earthly materials, and in the end it will merge in it.
Maiya then says to Shree Krishna, "I know this already. What do you intend to say, Kanha?"
Shree Krishna says, "If you know this, why don't you allow me to eat mud?"
Maiya says, "Lala, Creepers and plants grow in this mud.”
Maiya says, “If you eat it, plants will grow from your nose, mouth, and ears."
Shree Krishna got frightened and thought, "Now, I will never eat mud".
Says Shree ‘Kripalu,’ "Kanha, now never listen to the lectures from these babas".

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

How much do you know about Shree Krishna? Take a quick test and find out for yourself!

He is your eternal friend. He is your sole protector. He is your ultimate goal. But how much do you know Him? Test your "Krishna Quotient"

Thursday, July 15, 2010

God protects His devotees!

A little boy named Prahlad was born into the household of a demon king-Hiranyakashipu. While Prahlad was still in his mother Kayadu's womb, he had listened to the discourses from sage Narad. Needless to say, Prahlad was born a lover of the Lord.
However, his father was apprehensive of Prahlad's devotion. He applied various means to deter him, and then to intimidate and at last to kill him. Initially he threatened, then he beat him up and finally when he saw nothing could stop Prahlad from taking Name of Lord Vishnu, Hiranyakashipu ordered his demons to throw Prahlad from the top of a mountain. Prahlad came back unhurt. He was saved by none other than Lord Vishnu himself.
Hiranyakashipu's sister Holika had once received a boon from Bramha. She was immune to fire. So, she tried to kill Prahlad by putting him on her lap and dousing herself in fire. But, the fire deity couldn't even touch the devotee of Lord Vishnu. Instead, Holika was burnt to ashes.
Hiranyakashipu was so enraged that he started strangulating Prahlad. "What Vishnu Vishnu you are chanting, where is your Vishnu?" shouted Hiranyakashipu. "If he is so mighty, why doesn't he come in front, why is he hiding?"
Prahlad calmly answered that Lord Vishnu is everywhere in this world. He is the omnipresent Lord and he resides within all.

Do not lie, otherwise one day you will be trapped in your own lies.

Kaalu, a shepherd boy loved playing pranks on others. One day, while taking his sheep for grazing in the forest, one trick stuck his mind, “I’m getting bored. Let me play some prank and have fun.” He stood on a pile of rocks and started to shout, “help, somebody please help! a tiger has attacked my herd. It’ll kill me also.” Nearby villagers ran up to his rescue. But when they reached the venue they saw only Kaalu laughing away to glory. They scolded Kaalu for the prank and returned. Next day, Kaalu again applied the same trick. Villagers were again furious. But, Kaalu was too selfish to see other’s plight.
One day a real tiger entered his herd and started slaughtering his sheep. Kaalu was scared. Quickly he climbed the rock and shouted for help. “Help, help! a tiger is killing my sheep.”
“Forget it”, thought the villagers. “He again is fooling us, let’s not waste our time on it,” consulted the villagers and no one went for Kaalu’s rescue. Poor Kaalu became victim of his own lies.

To be greedy is bad, greed leads us to misery!

Once there was a dog. One day he found a big bone while passing by a butcher’s shop. He thought, “Hmm! I’m lucky, but let me be smart. I’ll hide it somewhere, so that I can enjoy over it again and again.”
Carrying the bone in between his jaws, he started to cross a bridge over a stream. There he saw his own reflection. “Who is this?” thought the dog. “Even he has the bone, let me beat him up and snatch the bone. That ways, I’ll have two bones.” Quick at thoughts and quicker at action, he opened his mouth to bark and scare the dog away. Opps! As soon as he opened his mouth, we know what happened- the bone in his own mouth fell down on water. There was no dog down there; it was just a reflection of the dog up the bridge. Greed led the dog loose what he had.