Monday, 23 April 2012

Great Varnasrama Mission soldier that was Bhagiratha Prabhu!

Bhakti Raghava Swami writes in memory of Bhagiratha Prabhu:


This morning we held a special class in memory of Bhagiratha prabhu. To our good fortune, one of the devotees close to Bhagiratha prabhu since his childhood, Sriman Kisora Krishna prabhu, arrived here at Sahyadri Sri Krishna Balarama Ksetra (SSKBK) the day before yesterday. Time was but too short to begin recollecting all the wonderful memories of this great Vaisnava who left our midst rather suddenly and unexpectedly.

I first noticed Bhagiratha prabhu in the late nineties at the Sri Sri Krishna Balarama temple in Denpasar (Capital City of the Province of Bali) where even as a young student in primary and secondary school he would come and associate with devotees by staying overnight at the temple. He was then known as Bhakta Nyoman Bagia. He was likely less than 10 years old when he started chanting the Holy names on japa mala. One of the earlier Balinese devotees who actually brought him and many other young students to Krishna consciousness was Sriman Dhritatma prabhu, a teacher by profession who was and remains a very active preacher.  By the time Bhakta Nyoman Bagia was 16, he was already very serious in his devotional service. Kisora Krishna prabhu recalls how he had vowed to hand carve and string his own tulasi mala that, because of its large size, he finished just a short time before his Hari Nama diksa ceremony in Bali In July of 2002.  He had just turned 18 and received the name Bhagiratha das brahmacary.  

As part of the plan to send some Indonesian devotees to India for learning and training, I had selected both Kisora Krishna prabhu and Bhagiratha prabhu who were fortunate to obtain a three year Student Visa to study Yoga and Sanskrit under the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan branch in Mangalore, And so it was that in the later part of year 2003 they both went to India together, this being Bhagiratha prabhu’s first visit to the holy land. It was during this period that he first visited our Sahyadri Sri Krishna Balarama Ksetra where he and prabhu Kisora helped develop the project in its very early days.

Within six months of his being in India, I got the news of the new proposed educational facility in Govardhan, the Srimad-Bhagavatam Vidyapitham, which was to be headed by Sriman Gopiparanadhana prabhu who was then taking applications. Soon after receiving this information, I contacted Gopiparanadhana prabhu who readily agreed to accept Bhagiratha prabhu from their very first semester in October 2004.

Bhagiratha prabhu took to Govardhan as a fish takes to water.  Somehow he was given the service to look after the school’s Gaura Nitai Deities although he was still not brahmana initiated. The following year, in October 2005, Gopiparanadhana prabhu asked me if I could award Bhagiratha prabhu his second initiation so he could serve the Deities full time. Since I was still not able to enter India, I recall giving him brahmana diksa long distance over the telephone. Gopiparanadhana prabhu was kind enough to perform the diksa ceremony himself. Bhagiratha prabhu was a good student. He was able to successfully complete his studies along with a group of some 20 foreign devotees from different parts of the world. By that time he had picked up Sanskrit nicely. He was gradually developing a deeper and stronger attachment for the land of Vrindavan, in particular for both Krishna and Balarama along with Giri Govardhanji. Once he wrote to me asking if he could worship personal deities of Sri Sri Krishna Balarama in their form of Govardhan silas as well as Shalagram sila, to which I consented.

Soon after leaving India in the year 2007, he asked me if he could compose a second line of my pranam mantra in Sanskrit, to which I also agreed. His deep attachment and appreciation for Govardhan was evident with his taking up the task of writing his own book describing the various pastimes of Lord Krishna in Govardhan in addition to various holy places in Vrindavan all depicted with beautiful illustrations. I asked him to begin a small Varnasrama College at Gaura Hari for which he recruited a few local students.

Whenever I would visit Indonesia, generally once or twice a year, he would assist me in different ways. He was a staunch advocate of the varnasrama mission and helped organize three yearly varnasrama seminars in Bali, the first being at the Gaura Hari temple in Gianyar in the year 2009, all of which were well attended. In my last visit to Indonesia in the year 2011 he accompanied me on visits to some of the far away islands from Bali such as Kalimantan and Sulawesi.

He was always very enthusiastic in serving. One such personal service included interviewing various senior devotees on the subject matter of varnasrama. He took this up very eagerly and completed five interviews within one year approximately. The devotees he interviewed were His Holiness Bhakti Vidya Purna Maharaja, His Holiness Bhakti Vikasa Maharaja, His Grace Gopiparanadhana prabhu, His Grace Atma Tattva prabhu and myself. The book came out under the title TRADITIONAL EDUCATION, Selected Interviews where Bhagiratha prabhu’s photo and short history is also included.

Bhagiratha prabhu liked to travel. He did some preaching in Cambodia as well as Thailand. He actually travelled with his Govardhan teacher, His Grace Gopiparanadhana prabhu, when he visited Bangkok, going out on Harinam and distributing Srila Prabhupada’s books. I remember visiting a Buddhist temple in Bangkok where they had on display the corpse of a dead body somehow kept in some liquid. Bhagiratha prabhu was visibly shaken seeing this dead body and this helped him become even more serious about his Krishna consciousness. His favorite pilgrimage place was of course Vrindavan. The devotees from Indonesia requested him to bring them on pilgrimage to India and so he began to serve as a guide bringing the devotees to both Mayapur and Vrindavan.

Two years ago approximately while I was at the Gaura Hari temple, noticing that I was worshiping a small ivory deity of Gopalji and a cow, he brought me his own Sudarshan Cakra Shalagram Sila and offered him to me for worship. I was extremely pleased and to this day I continue to worship his Shalagram Sila.

 Bhagiratha prabhu loved performing kirtans. He was a good singer and was adept at playing both the harmonium and mrdanga. He picked up a small portable harmonium that he carried with him wherever he travelled. He would wrap this harmonium around his neck moving about the temple room enthusing devotees with his lively kirtans. He was also a very good dancer and always very cheerful in disposition. He learned how to perform yajnas and at different times devotees would request him to perform some particular samskara in their homes or at the temple.

When Gopiparanadhana prabhu passed away last year, Bhagiratha prabhu wrote two letters of appreciation on thus showing his deep love and affection for his beloved teacher at Govardhan. He expressed deep separation from his affectionate teacher and guide. He named his pen drive “Dauji” to help him always remember Balaramaji. He loved cows dearly.

Bhagiratha prabhu was in contact with many devotees many of whom he helped to bring to Krishna consciousness. He was a good preacher and his enthusiasm was contagious.

I am sure that all those who had the good fortune to come in contact with him will miss him dearly. He leaves behind his wife Bhaktin Mila and an adopted daughter “Gita Nagari”. He also leaves many Deities such as Sri Sri Gaura-Nitai, Sri Sri Krishna Balarama, Govardhanji, Lord Narasinghadeva and Shalagram silas all of whom he worshiped regularly and with great fervor. I remember once he had spent about three hours performing his morning puja feeling particularly enlivened on that day lovingly reciting Sanskrit slokas for the pleasure of his Deities.  Devotees close to him plan to continue the worship of all his Deities.

My dear Bhagiratha prabhu, what can I say? I must thank you for having been such an ideal disciple, student and teacher. You served with so much love and affection. I will miss your good association. May Krishna, Balaramaji and Govardhanji always be by your side along with Their beautiful cows. As I take darshan of your Shalagram Sila and Sri Sri Krishna Balarama I cry in grief and separation of your sudden departure. Although it is most painful, I remain confident that you will always remain well protected by your Lordships Sri Krishna and Dauji.

All glories to you and to your wonderful display of devotional service. I long for the day we can meet again and continue to serve in Srila Prabhupada’s sacred mission. I remain your ever well-wisher.  All good fortune and all blessings upon you. Jaya Radhe!

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Mayapur Institute to conduct - Varnasrama College Introductory Course

The prestigious Mayapur Institute (MI) at Sridham Mayapur will for the first
time be running the 'Introductory Course' of Varnasrama College in
collaboration with ISKCON Daiva Varnasrama Ministry (India).
This is directly in line with Srila Prabhupada's ardent desire and
instruction to establish Varnasrama college courses everywhere wherever we
have got our center.
"The varnasrama college has to be established immediately. Everywhere,
wherever we have got our center, a varnasrama college should be established
to train four divisions: one class, brahmana; one class, ksatriya; one
class, vaisya; and one class, sudra. But everyone will be elevated to the
spiritual platform by the spiritual activities which we have prescribed.
...So everywhere, in each center, this system should be introduced, and
there must be practical application of the varnasrama. At the same time,
this program of devotional service. Then it will go on very nicely."
- Srila Prabhupada, Morning Walk, Vrndavana 12 March 1974

This joint program shall offer the students a unique opportunity in a
convenient way to attend both three month Bhakti Sastri course and one month
Introductory certificate course of Varnasrama college which is split into
two fortnightly sections before and after Bhakti Sastri.
The courses offerred will be four in number:
(1) Qualities for Civilized Human Beings (30 qualities from S.B)
(2) Basic Sanskrit (pronounciation of prayers, alphabetes and basic rules)
(3) Growing your own food (composting, preparing, sowing and harvesting)
(4) Traditional cow care(philosophy of cow protection, milking & healthcare)
Courses (1) and (2) will begin 15 days BEFORE Bhakti Sastri and courses (3)
and (4) will be conducted AFTER Bhakti Sastri courses.
The seats are limited and preference will be given based on the interest of
the student. Preference will also be given to those applying first.
Students will require to fill up an application form to apply for the
course. Application will then be processed and student notified. For
application form as well as other details of the course, kindly write to: OR
Also look for the MI website: for more updates.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

A movement to save Kangayam cattle gaining momentum

A movement to save Kangayam cattle gaining momentum
M. J. Prabu
If farmers can maintain latest motorbikes why can't they keep native cattle?
Efforts to save endangered wild animals like the tiger, are afoot today by
enacting stringent laws for protecting them.
"Even the house sparrow has attracted attention in bringing about a
conservation movement. But sadly, for the livestock sector in Tamil Nadu not
much attention is being paid to conserve its native cattle breeds," says
Mr.Karthikeya Sivasenapathy, Managing Trustee, Senaapathy Kangayam Cattle
Research Foundation, Kuttapalayam, Erode.
The foundation is situated in Kuttapalayam village, Palayakottai in the
Kangayam taluk of Tirupur District (formerly Erode District), Tamil Nadu,
and is ideal for cattle breeding.
The Kangeyam breed derives it's name from Kangayam division of the taluk
spreading from Erode, Karur, Namakkal and Dindigul districts where this
breed has been in existence for a long time.
The animals are medium in build although a few large specimens can be found.
Considered to be a good draught breed in South India, the breed is hardy and
thrives on scanty rations, according to Mr. Karthik.
Many native animals have all become extinct in the last 20 years, thanks to
the government policy of introducing cross bred animals and claiming that
they can yield more milk than the native ones.
"Though to some extent it may be true that the cross bred yielded some
litres more, the fact that these cross breeds also got afflicted with
several infections and prone to a number of ailments that their humble
native counterparts were not, cannot be overlooked," he emphasises.
Reason for decline
"Another reason for the decline in their numbers is that the government has
invested several crores for the Animal Husbandry department.
"But today we cannot find even one person in the department supporting the
cause of maintaining the native breed. The answer is simple. The money
cannot be used for the native breeds for maintaining them healthily as the
animals are by nature robust.
"So how can they get the vouchers and other documents ready to claim the
amount from the government accounting it as for syringes and medicines. It
can be done only if there are cross bred ones," he smiles.
The milk of Kanngayam cow has a high nutritious value with no bad fat.
The urine mixed with rotten fruits, vegetables and black gram, can be used
as good bio-fertilizer popularly known as 'amrita karaisal'.
"The urine and dung of the animals is best suited for natural farming
practices," says Mr. Karthik.
Animal price
The colour of the cow is grey or white with black markings. Kangayam cows
are poor milkers; but good milkers are also found, giving 18 to 20 litres
during their peak milking period.
The price of a cow ranges from Rs 15,000 to Rs. 25,000 and a bull, from Rs.
40,000 to Rs. 70,000.
"In an attempt to save the this native breed our Foundation is planning to
submit a proposal to the State Government for setting up a venture on a
public-private partnership model for in situ conservation and breeding of
this animal. Lack of awareness of the distinct advantages of pure Kangeyam
breed is a reason for the reduction in popularity among breeders today,"
explains Mr. Karthik.
Also reduction of grazing lands called Korangadu pasture-grazing system once
abundant in Kangayam tract contributed to the decline of Kangayam cattle.
"Today some 10 lakh and odd acres of Korangadu land exist in the region
against the 22 lakh acres in 1990," he says.
Korangadu is a traditional grazing land It is a typical combination of
grasses, legumes and trees, fenced with live thorny shrubs.
But how can a small farmer invest so much money to buy or maintain the
"A kangayam breed or any native breed saves the farmers expenditure in
buying chemicals. The waste from one animal can easily be used for 3-4
acres. In a year a farmer can easily save Rs.12 to 15,000 and get a good
income from selling the calves.
Need a positive mind
"If farmers in our villages can maintain the latest motorbikes today I dont
see any reason why they cannot maintain native cattle. It is all in the mind
and a positive approach," says Mr. Karthik.
Contact Mr. Karthikeya Sivasenapathy at Senaapathy Kangeyam Cattle Research
Foundation, Kuttappalyam, Palayakottai village, Kangayam Taluk, Tirupur
District 638108, Tamil Nadu, email:, web:, mobile: 9994433456, phone: 422 223 2818.

LAND BANKS to be introduced in India!

Great thanks to Sridhari Madhav Prabhu for this wonderful and interesting
piece of information!
** VISIT: **
---------- Forwarded Message ---------
Subject: Fwd: People can deposit fallow and
uncultivated land in government land banks to garner money
Hare Krishna Prabhu,
I offer my humble obeisances.
An interesting information
Your humble servant,
Sridhari Madhav Das
------- End of Forwarded Message ------

11 Apr, 2012, 10.24AM IST, Devika Banerji,ET Bureau

People with agricultural land that they do not wish to cultivate will soon
have the option of depositing it in government land banks that will offer
them consistent monetary returns.
With an incentive system broadly on the lines of a bank account, the public
land bank will offer payments based on the tenure and size of the holding
with additional benefits if the land is leased out.
"A lot of land is left fallow and uncultivated because the owner does not
want to lease it and there is no proper guarantee of title," a Planning
Commission official told ET. "A government-backed land bank will help those
who don't want to sell the land and can't cultivate it on their own." The
official said the bank will also help in checking the rising trend of
selling agricultural land for non-agricultural projects.
He said the proposal, submitted by a working group chaired by Institute of
Economic Growth director Bina Agarwal, is under active consideration of the
commission. The land bank is proposed to be set up at the panchayat or the
gram sabha level. The group has recommended an initial seed capital for it
with the central and state governments sharing the cost in an 80:20 ratio.
The amount of the seed capital is yet to be finalised. The group has also
suggested that the bank be registered as a society.
The tenure of the land deposit can be as short as one season or more than
three years. Besides the monetary incentive, land owners will be allowed to
withdraw their land parcel at any time.
The land bank will consolidate all the land deposited under it in a
particular village and give priority to small and marginal farmers. It will
even give joint leases to small farmer groups. The lessees would get a
guaranteed rent, fixed after assessing land quality and as a consolidated
plot. There would, however, be a ban on leasing of land from the bank to
companies, large farmers and other categories that might monopolise the land
"On the supply side, it would address the concerns of landowners and bring
under cultivation large tracts of underused or fallow land," the working
group said. "On the demand side, it would provide disadvantaged and women
access to land, which they are not able to compete for in the open land
The move is also expected to counter a potential short-run freeze in the
land lease market as a law to provide recognition to agricultural tenancies
is in the works that will augment the land owner's fear of losing his land
Currently about 10% of rural households are reported to be entirely landless
and a larger percent is near landlessness. Most of the small and marginal
farmers depend on informal leasing arrangements and there is no uniform
pricing system. Up to 35% of farm land is currently cultivated through
tenant farming. Agriculture experts support the idea of creating a land bank
but question the feasibility of such a proposal in the absence of strong
laws to guarantee land titles.
"It is a long shot. I am not opposed to the basic idea but I don't think it
can fly in the absence of strong land records and land titling laws," said
Ashok Gulati, an agriculture expert who is also the chairman of CACP. "I do
not think panchayats are administratively strong enough to ensure fair
dealing of land. People are sensitive about their land and may not place
their trust in them."

Friday, 6 April 2012

India will see highest urban population rise in next 40 years

India and China will witness unprecedented increase in their urban
populations in the next four decades, posing new challenges of providing
jobs, energy housing and infrastructure to their people, a U.N. report said.
File photo
U.N. report says China, India together will account for about third of the
increase in urban population in coming decades
India will witness the largest increase in urban population in the next four
decades followed by China, a United Nations report has said.
India will add another 497 million to its urban population between 2010 and
2050, while China will see 341 million people shifting into cities, followed
by Nigeria (200 million), the United States (103 million) and Indonesia (92
million), according to the U.N.'s '2011 Revision of the World Urbanisation
Prospects' report released on Friday.
The projected increase in urban population in India and Nigeria between 2010
and 2050 will be higher than that of the past 40 years.
This trend is particularly prominent in Nigeria, where the urban population
grew by only 65 million between 1970 and 2010, but is projected to increase
by 200 million between 2010 and 2050 the third largest increase in urban
population of all countries of the world.
In 2025, Tokyo is projected to remain the world's most populous urban
agglomeration, with almost 39 million inhabitants, although the population
will scarcely increase. It will be followed by Delhi with 33 million
inhabitants and Shanghai in China with 28.4 million inhabitants. Mumbai
would come next, with almost 27 million inhabitants. All three cities are
expecting important population gains.
High rates of growth are expected in Lagos, Dhaka, and Karachi in Pakistan
(all having growth rates well above 2 per cent per year).
In addition, the megacities in India (Delhi, Kolkata and Mumbai) and in
China (Shenzhen, Beijing, Guangzhou, Shanghai) plus Manila are expected to
grow considerably faster than those in Egypt or Turkey.
These trends are consistent with the overall differentials in fertility
among the national populations.
The world urban population is highly concentrated in a few countries. In
2011, about three quarters of the 3.6 billion urban dwellers lived in 25
countries, whose populations ranged from 31 million in Ukraine to 682
million in China. China, India and the U.S. accounted for 37 per cent of the
world urban population.
Most of the 25 countries with the largest urban populations are highly
urbanised, but eight have levels of urbanisation ranging from 28 per cent to
51 per cent and they include some of the most populous countries in the
world: Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Nigeria and Pakistan.
Similarly, the increases in the world urban population are concentrated in a
few countries, with China and India together projected to account for about
a third of the increase in the population in the coming decades.
Between 2011 and 2030, the urban areas of the world are expected to gain 1.4
billion people, including 276 million in China and 218 million in India,
which account together for 37 per cent of the total increase.
Sole driver
Between 2000 and 2050, urban growth will be the sole driver of the increase
in the urban population of China. In India, the urban population is expected
to increase by two-thirds due to urban growth and one- third due to the
overall population increase. In contrast, the urbanisation of the U.S. until
2050 will be still mainly led by an increase in the overall increase of the
This "unprecedented" increase in urban population will provide new
opportunities to improve education and public services in Africa and Asia,
the report said.
It, however, warned that the trend would also "pose new challenges of
providing jobs, housing, energy and infrastructure to mitigate poverty,
expansion of slums and deterioration of the urban environment."


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