History of Vrinda Kunja Ashram in Vrindavan

ByVrinda Kunja Ashram

History of Vrinda Kunja Ashram in Vrindavan

The History of Manipuri-Rani Kunja in Vrindavan

There was once a Vaishnava kingdom in northeast India called Manipur. There lived a queen two hundred years ago who betrothed the king of the neighbouring state of Tripura. That king had a temple in Vrindavan called Tripura Kunja. That temple was situated right behind the sanctuary of Gopeshwar Mahadev, the guardian of Vrindavan.

 

 

History of Vrinda Kunja: Manipuri queenThe queen requested a special place for herself and her Manipuri friends to reside in the holy place of Vrindavan, so they acquired the neighboring property and called it Manipuri-Rani Kunja. It was a large property with beautiful, exotic, native trees. They constructed a temple and established the deities of Sri Sri Radha Vraja Mohan, honoring the beloved deities of Srila Narottam Das Thakur who was the founder of the Vaishnava movenment in Manipur in the 16th century.

A platform was established there to conduct the Rasa Lila performances in Manipuri classical dance style for special occasions since Indian traditional art had been always a part of Hindu temple worship. Here it should be noted that the traditional way of performing Rama Lila (the essential artistic expression of the Ramayana) is recognized as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO. Vrindavan, and especially Vrinda Kunja Ashram, was and still remains a part of this.

The queen herself lived in her Manipuri-Rani Kunja for many years, and there she performed her spiritual service.

History of Vrinda Kunja Ashram in Vrindavan

When the temple was reconstructed, a deity of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was also installed on the altar. To the great surprise and joy of all, one day a sadhu who had heard about Vrinda Kunja Ashram came to our temple with very old Radha Krishna deities originally from Shantipura in West Bengal.

Hereis the short history of our dear Vrinda Kunja Ashram and our volunteer program. If you want to know more about India and Vrindavan, kindly check our blog. We wish to meet you here, in the sweetest of all sacred places of India, Sri Vrindavan Dham, enchanting land of most attractive Sri Krishna.The mystical sadhu had only one condition upon offering the deities for Their worship in Vrinda Kunja Ashram: the devotees should offer Them one liter of milk daily. It was agreed upon, and there followed a beautiful festival to receive the Lordships. The Lords took possession of Their temple by Their own will. This event was sublimely beautiful and sweet.
Our Chaitanya Mahaprabhu deity was made from a piece of Imlitala tree by an expert carver from Mayapur who offered the deity as a gift. That deity, or Thakurji as they are called in India, was also worshipped in the holy places of Srivas Angan in West Bengal and at the Imlitala temple in Vrindavan. Afterwards, the beautiful Mahaprabhu deity came to the Vrinda Kunja Ashram and assumed His seat right next to Sri Sri Radha Vraja Mohan.

 

ByVrinda Kunja Ashram

Visiting Vrindavan, The Sweetest of All Ancient Hindu Sacred Sites

This insightful article capturing the essence of Vrindavan was written by Bhakti Shakti Devi, a longtime practitioner of bhakti yoga and lifelong member of the Vrinda family. She has led many tours to India and sacred places of South America. She has performed important volunteer work at the Vrinda Kunja Ashram in Vrindavan as well as in other holy places around the world. She is originally from Bulgaria but now resides with her family in Sweden.

Kesi ghat in Vrindavan, India – Photos published in this article are taken by Klencsar Gabor

On The Banks of holy Yamuna River

To visit Vrindavan is to experience reality of the transcendental plane, merging deeply into the mystery of ancient India.
Vrindavan is situated three hours by car to the south of Delhi, on the banks of the Yamuna River, a beautiful town with more than 5000 hindu temples, enlivened with a spiritual enthusiasm that touches the heart of every visitor. Vedic culture is the only surviving ancient culture in the world today, and here it has been preserved throughout the centuries.
When you witness the everyday life of the people here, you may feel like you have been transferred 5000 years back in time, as the raising of consciousness and the beautiful relationship between people come into focus.

Morning rituals in Vrindavan, India

“Radhe, Radhe…”

The welcoming atmosphere and feeling of acceptance come mainly through the greetings of the local people: “Radhe Radhe!”, which is used as a greeting, agreement, gratitude, or shouting from the rickshaw drivers to get out of the road. You will also be charmed by the joyful laughing of children playing in the street or by the enthusiastic invitations of vendors from the small shops.
Radha is the divine female entity who completely rules here in this tiny piece of the world, which is also considered a manifestation of the spiritual world here on Earth. All the inhabitants of Vrindavan see themselves as her surrendered souls, and they worship this female divinity for her gentleness, shelter, motherly care and mercy. Here you can encounter many special saintly persons who come from all over India and the world, each with markings on the forehead indicating the spiritual lineage to which they belong. You can see people with huge turbans and distinct facial features, all here to experience precious time in the manifestation of the spiritual world, here on earth. You will see many pilgrims, who circumambulate the holy hill of Govardhan, fully prostrating themselves continuously as they complete the parikram (sacred journey around a holy site) until they finish the whole path of 22 km.

Braja basi sadhu in Vrindavan

Vrindavan is gateway to the world of love

In contrast to the western tradition of receiving an invitation before entering someone’s home as a welcome guest, here nearly everyone naturally invites you with a smile to be their special guest. Even if you accidentally enter someone’s yard, you should expect to receive a joyful welcome and be treated like royalty. This spontaneous and natural hospitality is so pleasing that one may feel much more at home here as a guest than even in his own house.

In front of every temple there are plenty of holy men and women begging for alms, and everyone has lots of small coins handy to give a little something to as many people as possible. Here the atmosphere of giving predominates over taking, and everyone is competing to offer his service and favour to do something good. This is the true nature of the soul – to give. We observe this from the seller of vegetables, to the seller of clothes, who all bargain with us until we get what we want. Everyone lives by his faith, and it is always evident.

Mystical India – Yamuna river in Vrindavan

The power of holy place

Here the laws of nature seem to operate differently because one often gets immediate reactions to one’s thoughts, words and actions. It is like having a direct line to God. Here whatever the mind meditates on or prays for seems to come true or something happens which enthuses us or illuminates the path for us. We know that to enter through the gates of the spiritual world one needs permission to enter into the sanctum sanctorum, and one needs special mercy to enter there where only few have access. For that reason every pilgrim offers his prayers to the guardian of this holy abode, Gopishvara Mahadev or Shiva. After receiving this benediction, the veil of material illusion is lifted, and we can see the real spiritual dimension. Without this mercy, our visit here will remain just another physical presence in a geographical place devoid of the transcendental vision of divine beauty which is imperceptible to the mundane senses.

Each moment of the day offers an invitation to enter the world of eternal love, from the joyful inhabitants who greet us with a smile shouting the names of the lord to the beautiful and colorful celebrations in the temples, where every morning and evening they go to see the lord of their heart as if embarking on a secret rendezvous with their dearly beloved.

The temple is the meeting place of the souls, to escape mundane existence and merge into sublime reality, listening to the music and celebrating the ultimate experience of the day. It is also the social meeting place for all important activities in the community, eg. family celebrations such as weddings, religious rites for newborns or the deceased, and rituals for new businesses. The temple is the place where everyone comes together to celebrate each day because life itself is a constant celebration if we have the right vision.

“Would you like to make your offerings to Yamuna?”

Dear to heart, sweet Vrindavan

It is not uncommon to see a middle-age woman on her way home from market carrying bags of vegetables, stop by the temple to set down her load to dance the most joyful and loving dance in a spontaneous and unique way for the lord on the altar.
Everything feels so close and dear to the heart, that people have the sense of belonging to the same family, and we are invited to feel at home, back in our own place. It is as if we have been on a long trip for decades in foreign lands, suffering a lack of familiarity, being spoken to in foreign languages we do not understand, treated as foreigners. Then magically, after all this, we go back to where everything is so familiar and so dear and precious, where others are happy to see us and we will be offered the warmness and friendship after our long sojourn through unknown lands.

 

ByVrinda Kunja Ashram

Ever wonder how Indian incense is made?

Incense has been used in religious rituals since time immemorial. Recently we had an adventurous experience with incense on our Indian spiritual tour, that we would like to share with you. Many people burn incense during daily meditation and relaxation as well as for many other purposes, so there is a huge demand for incense all over the world. Unfortunately large industrial producers are not careful enough about all aspects of their product. Read on to find out about a significant difference between natural and synthetic Indian incense, that can even affect your health.

 

Life is a spiritual journey

Life is a journey that often takes you away from your planned route. We were visiting some Hindu temples in South India when we had a nice surprise. While touring among amazingly beautiful  Indian sacred sites, we just happened to meet a nice family making Indian incense or agarbattis. It was amazing! Can you believe that they were rolling them one by one? A skilled agarbatti maker can actually produce about 5000-6000 incense sticks a day!


Agarbatti is an essential element for performing puja in a Hindu shrine at home or temples, ie. offering special objects to the deities while reciting Vedic mantras. Customs of making incense have changed over time. Since ancient times, only naturally fragrant resins, oils or woods like sandalwood and patchouli had been used for making incense.

Nowadays,for the purpose of lost cost mass production of incense, manufacturers are using industrial fragrances composed of synthetic ingredients. So watch out what you buy the next time you shop for incense!. One thing is for sure: all of the black varieties of agarbatti are 100% synthetic!  

Incense as rolled in India

Many studies have been done to determine the health risks of burning agarbatti. Recent findings indicate that synthetic incense can be more dangerous to your health than cigarette smoke! But even when burning high-quality hand rolled natural varieties of agarbattis, it is recommended to keep a window open, and not to burn too much of it.

In fact just burning half of a stick at a time might be a good idea. Probably after watching this video you might thinking about making your own “Indian agarbattis”. Not a bad idea! Going chemical-free and all natural is better for your health and certainly more pleasing to the deities on your altar.

It is amazing to see how Indian incense is hand rolled. We made this video on our spiritual tour of South Indian Hindu temples. Source: Leveles Zoltan

Hindu puja is unimaginable without Indian incense. Of course, it must be natural. No black colour!

 

 



 


 




 

ByVrinda Kunja Ashram

Volunteering in Eco Yoga Villages Around the World

In our effort to create unique communities, we are establishing sacred places around the world to help people connect with nature through volunteering. Experiencing a truly natural lifestyle teaches us about ecology, sustainability and the benefits of communal living. In addition to caring for our outer environment, we also offer many opportunities for volunteers to cultivate inner consciousness through different spiritual practices of the Inbound School of Yoga.  Our motto: “Simple living, elevated thinking” best expresses the lifestyle we aspire to. Please check our website from time to time for updates about new volunteer projects in our Eco Yoga Villages around the world. We are part of an international network of eco-yoga villages that have yoga centers, meditation, vegetarian restaurants and eco-villages in more than twenty five countries worldwide, including  two in INDIA. Eco Yoga Villages website.

Eco Yoga Villages serve as ashrams, places of shelter from environmental degradation and materialistic oppression in society. For this reason, we are striving to create self-sufficient communities where everyone can partake in spiritual practice, conscious artistic expression and healthful lifestyle. All structures and facilities are designed and constructed with attention to protecting the beautiful natural environment of the places. We also place great emphasis on growing our own organic food for daily consumption. In order to realize our objectives for self-sufficiency, we depend on the efforts of friends and volunteers, who should be serious-minded, well-intentioned, responsible individuals. Since many of the places are at various stages of completion, there may be a need for improvisation, flexibility, patience and perseverance in the face of challenges. Please report any personal health issues in advance, including substance abuse or addictions, so that we may find the proper place to help you heal.  Final approval of volunteer service depends on local ashram directors and can be cancelled at any time. There is usually a minimum of one month for volunteering, but shorter periods may be accepted in certain circumstances. As a volunteer please adhere to all rules and regulations of the ashram and  refrain from smoking, consuming drugs or alcohol and be a vegetarian. Thank you.


 

Volunteering in Peru – Eco Truly Park

 

Eco Truly Park in Peru

The architecture and values of the community are inspired in part by ancient Indian traditions and lifestyle. The unique cone-shaped structures or trulys house various shrines and temples, a planetarium, ashrams, galleries, performance halls and meditation spaces. Some of the volunteer programs available include organic farming, vegetarian cooking and baking, as well as general maintenance of the park. The Eco Truly Park is the foremost ecological educational center in Peru, and it has inspired similar successful projects in neighboring countries such as Chile, Ecuador, Colombia and Bolivia.

 

Contact Eco Yoga Truly Park for information about volunteering here.


 

Volunteering in Ecuador – Vrindavan Ecological Gardens

Vrindavan Ecological Gardens in Ecuador

Vrindavan Ecological Gardens is located 1340 meters above sea level, in a magnificent subtropical jungle, on 65 hectares of land (most of which  is virgin forest), with spectacular waterfalls and pools for bathing. This farm receives visitors from all over the world and has a splendid vegetarian restaurant as well as a temazcal (sweatlodge).

In the great bio-diversity of the Ecological Corridor you can find more than 1000 species of the 3700 orchids indigenous to Ecuador as well as many other exotic plant species. Situated in the heart of this beautiful valley, you can appreciate these beautiful gifts of mother nature in our orchid farm and lead a holistic lifestyle, respecting and harmonizing with the environment.

There is no other place in Ecuador where you can eat great vegetarian food, play with a monkey, admire orchids, plant herbs and sweat out toxins in a temascal.  Some of the activities that await you at Vrindavan Ecological Gardens include yoga retreats, mystical and ecological tours, natural medicine, meditation, Vedic philosophy, organic agriculture, permaculture and vegetarian cooking.

For more information on volunteering in Vrindavan Ecological Gardens please visit their website.


 

Volunteering in Colombia – Varsana Ecological Gardens

Volunteering in Colombia -Varsana Ecological Gardens

Varsana Eco Yoga Village began over 40 years ago bringing together people from all over the world to learn about Vedic philosophy and holistic lifestyle in harmony with caring for and respecting Mother Earth. Inspired by sustainable agricultural initiatives of native peoples of the Sierra Nevada of Santa Marta and the famous environmental activist Vandana Shiva of India, the residents of Varsana have embarked on an ambitious project to cultivate their own food using organic farming, permaculture and bio-dynamic techniques.

 

Cultivating spiritual awareness through yoga practice, meditation and the study of ancestral wisdom is also a main ingredient of the holistic lifestyle of Varsana. You will find many sacred sites throughout the gardens such as a Vaishnava Hindu temple, a Kiva or Heart of Mother Earth Sanctuary, a shrine to Lord Shiva and the sacred hill of Giri Govardhan. Actually the whole place is considered a holy site by native sages of Colombia who regard it as sacred ancestral territory that was selected to uphold the principles of Ikwashenduna, the Guardians of Mother Earth.

 

Volunteering at Varsana offers many cultural and holistic activities such as creating conscious art (wood carving, painting, dance, music, drama, cooking, etc) different therapies involving music, mantra, massage, temazcal (natural sweat lodge),eco-hiking, bathing, juicing as well as many workshops and lectures on spiritual awakening. There is much more to discover about the Varsana Ecological Gardens here.

 


 

Volunteering in Argentina – Eco-Yoga Park

Eco Yoga Park in Argentina – Volunteering in Eco farms of South America

 

The Eco Yoga Park is one of the major world headquarters of a large international chain of ecological villages that exist in more than 25 countries, which continue to establish themselves in order to create an ideal space in connection with nature, and in this way offer a unique chance to go deep into practices such as yoga and meditation, discover the richness of organic food and learn about sustainable alternatives connected with architecture, philosophy and other aspects of our daily lives.

 

The park was originally established in 1996 and since then has continued to grow through various projects and programs. One of its most important aspects is the organic garden, from which virtually 100% of the food consumed in the park comes from, as well as our permaculture-based constructions and various techniques of natural architecture.

 

The residents of  the community also work as volunteers, devoting their valuable time and energy to develop the project as well as their own personal cultivation, providing holistic talents in many areas such as languages, tourism, ecology, cooking, philosophy, psychology, music and various arts, among many other opportunities.The Eco Yoga Park actively promotes community experience, inspiring visitors to have a glimpse of the magic of sharing the same space and interests with a number of people of a similar nature, thus opening the door to a whole new world of friends and relationships that will surely fill you with full joy and enthusiasm.

 

The site also serves as a Bhakti-yoga ashram (spiritual community), also known as the Yoga of Love. In this way, anyone interested can get to know more about the wisdom of ancient India, discovering concepts such as karma, reincarnation, and many other values connected to Eastern spirituality and mysticism, through a number of interesting gatherings, held weekly.

 

In short, our desire is to share a lifestyle based on simple and healthy living and very deep and high feeling. In this way we can give to each other a whole range of new experiences that will enrich our lives and foster our abilities. Learn more here.

 


 

Volunteering in India – Vrinda Kunja Ashram

Volunteering in India – Vrindavan and Mayapur

Volunteering at Vrinda Kunja -Vrindavan, India- is a good fit for someone interested in experiencing spirituality by being immersed in authentic Vaishnava ashram life. Just living in India’s sweet Vrindavan is a unique experience. Imagine lots of sadhus (holy men) walking and praying in the streets, doing their puja (worship ritual) on the banks of holy Yamuna River. And you can be an active participant by helping to clean the streets and river, practicing bhakti yoga, and learning about Vedic philosophy and culture. There is even an informative Imlitala blog containing great info on ancient Indian culture. Making it all happen is a young and talented dynamic team of committed bhakti yoga enthusiasts.

We are an active community of lifelong members and volunteers from all around the world.  We believe that having a diverse group of people of different ages and backgrounds creates an inspirational environment where individual talents and experience can come together in a spirit of service and cooperation. Thus, our saying  “unity in diversity” offers everyone a chance to contribute in a meaningful way, and you are most welcome to participate in any of our projects.The Vrinda Kunja Ashram in India is a place of coordination for many different projects mainly based on the Vedic principles of seva (service) dana (charity), tapa (austerities) and yagna (sacrificial ritual).  As an authentic Hindu ashram in the Vaishnava tradition, all of our activities are spiritual in nature, meaning everything is considered devotional service.  In welcoming volunteers who may likely have had no exposure to Vaishnavism or Hindu spirituality in general, we are respectful of your own personal beliefs and spiritual practices. With open minds and hearts we encourage you to join us in our spiritual activities. If you are interested in further opportunities for volunteering in India, please read our article on Volunteering in India.

Our service to the holy places is mainly based on protecting and cleaning the banks of the sacred Yamuna River, the river itself and parts of the city of Vrindavan, collecting and recycling garbage, as well as restoring some of the important ancient temples.  We make special efforts  to create awareness about all these initiatives in the local people.  For more information, please visit the volunteer project Vrinda Kunja website.

 


 

Volunteering in Hungary – Nandafalva Hindu Temple and Gardens

Volunteering in Hungary – Hindu Temple Nandafalva

Nestled in the heart of the Hungarian Great Plains, lies a true spiritual oasis, Nandafalva. Entering into the temple gardens, you feel as if you could be in a village in India lost in time. For those seeking tranquility and a peaceful environment to deepen spiritual awareness this is the perfect place. The community conducts its activities under the auspices of the Hindu Vaishnava Church and the Hungarian Vaishnava Hindu Association. Religious, cultural and educational programs are organized on a regular basis in various public cultural and educational institutions.

 

Projects here are ongoing to revive the south Hungarian farmland. Developing the infrastructure, the residents of Nandafalva are doing organic gardening, daily spiritual practices such as studying Vedic philosophy, meditating, yoga asanas and increasing the beauty of the natural environment, making it more suitable for living.5 hectares of forest have been planted, and on 8 hectares organic wheat is grown. Recently they have acquired their own milling machine to process the wheat. Due to conscious efforts to reforest the old farmland laid to waste by destructive agricultural techniques of the old communist regime, finally one can observe  biodiversity returning to the land with with many species of birds and other animals appearing again which have not been seen in the area for decades.

 

Volunteers are  eagerly welcomed  to help in the preservation of  natural resources, and to participate in gardening, maintaining the beautiful grounds and preserving some of the older structures.  The residents of Nandafalva are very family-oriented, and their dream is to become a self-sustained eco-community for future generations. Please learn more at website of Nandafalva Hindu Temple made for volunteers.

 

ByVrinda Kunja Ashram

Volunteering in India

Volunteering in india Volunteering in India presents a unique opportunity for inner personal growth while performing meaningful service to those in need.  The holy lands of India are in dire need of protection; Mother Nature is calling you to help restore her rivers, soil, forests, jungles and of course her dear people and animals. Your helping hands are needed in so many areas, so how does one decide where to go and whom to help?  To help you determine where you might fit in best, we are presenting some of our favorute volunteer projects in India. We wish you well in your efforts and thank you in advance for your sacrifice and commitment. Here you will get the list you needed. Best tip: stay in Tree house in India while doing volunteer service.

Help those in need – Volenteering in India


Volunteering India project

Volunteering India is a project dedicated to promoting wonderful volunteer programs in India for the betterment of local communities. It is based in Delhi and offers opportunities for volunteering, internships and specialized volunteer and travel projects for international volunteers and interns in Delhi, Palampur in Himachal Pradesh and in different locations in South India.

The mission of Volunteering India is to help international volunteers from across the world to organize volunteer work projects in different parts of India and in turn benefit the local communities in India. For details about various programs, visit the website volunteeringindia.com.

Contact

10, Siri Fort Road

Ground Floor

New Delhi – 110049 , India

Phone: +91 – 124 – 4307993 (10:00 AM – 5:00 PM – IST)

24 Hrs: + 91 – 9716 235 166 / 9871 371 009

E-mail: info@volunteeringindia.com


 

Volunteering in India – Vrinda Kunja Ashram, Vrindavan

Volunteering at Vrinda Kunja, India is a good fit for someone interested in experiencing spirituality by being immersed in authentic Vaishnava ashram life. Just living in India’s sweet Vrindavan is a unique experience. Imagine lots of sadhus (holy men) walking and praying in the streets, doing their puja (worship ritual) on the banks of holy Yamuna River. And you can be an active participant by helping to clean the streets and river, practicing bhakti yoga, and learning about Vedic philosophy and culture. There is even an informative Imlitala blog containing great info on ancient Indian culture. Making it all happen is a young and talented dynamic team of committed bhakti yoga enthusiasts. For more information check the website vrindakunja.org

Contact:

  • Vrinda Kunja Ashram: Bhut Galli 169, near Gopeshwar Mahadev temple. Vrindavan, District Mathura UP – PIN 281121.
  • Phone: +919927888664 or +91 9690274444 – We speak Englsih and Spanish.
  • E-mail:
  • Vrinda Kunja Ashram on Google map

Serving as a volunteer at Mother Theresa’s Mission in India

Volunteering in West Bengal, Kolkata

When considering India as a place to volunteer, one cannot help but think about Mother Theresa.To get a good idea what goes on at Mother Theresa’s Mission in India, you must read this touching account  of a volunteer from England.:

“Many people have asked me what draws me to Kolkata, and it’s a difficult question to answer. For my confirmation, way back in the last millennium, I received a book with daily quotes from Mother Teresa [“The Joy in Loving”]. I remember reading one entry which described a young girl visiting Kolkata from Paris. Mother noted that her eyes weren’t smiling, and sent her to work in Kalighat, where she found Jesus.

Perhaps I knew my eyes weren’t smiling either, because as soon as I finished school, I decided I would go to Kolkata to volunteer. Looking back I was certainly very young and innocent. I remember my journey from the airport, wondering if these people really slept on the streets, who owned the dogs and cows etc! It was akin to landing on another planet – many miles away from my all-girls school in rural England. However, I was soon captivated by the volunteer community; by the warmth and friendliness of the people and sisters. For the first time in my life I felt accepted for who I was, not for what I could do. I began working in a dispensary, and led a group of volunteers painting the park at Shishu Bhavan. It probably sounds cliched, but from the very beginning it became apparent that whatever we gave, we received much more.”

Contact:

Nirmala Shishu Bhavan (Home for Children),

78, A.J.C. Bose Road, Kolkata – 700016

Source: www.motherteresa.org


 

Amazing project of Dr. Vandana Shiva for volunteers

Dr. Vandana Shiva with Paramadvaiti Swami in Navdanya office, New Delhi, India

Bija Vidyapeeth (Earth University) is Navdanya’s learning center located at the Navdanya Biodiversity Conservation Farm in Doon Valley, Uttarakhand, nestled between the Ganga and the Yamuna, the Shivalik and Himalayan mountain ranges. Navdanya has created a biodiversity sanctuary for birds, butterflies, insects and soil microorganisms, through saving more than 1500 varieties of seeds and trees. Here, nature in its diversity and dynamism is the highest teacher. We draw inspiration from India’s ancient Aranya Sanskruti – of learning from nature and forests.

Contact:

Navdanya – Biodiversity Farm/Bija Vidyapeeth

Village Ramgarh / Shishambara

Old Shimla Road, P.O Sherpur

Dehradun, Uttaranchal click here for directions

Phone : 91-135-2693025 / 2111015

Email : dehradun@navdanya.net

Source: www.navdanya.org


 

Volunteering in India with GOABROAD.COM

Goabroad.com is an American project not only for volunteers but for anyone thinking about living abroad for a while for any reason: studying, teaching and of course volunteering. Our favorite offer was this volunteering opportunity in South India: “Gain the experience of volunteering at an orphanage in Southern India. ELI partners with orphanages in and around Bangalore, Chennai and Kerala. Orphanages that volunteers are sent to work hard to send their children to school and help them get an education, which is a rare opportunity for orphans in India. Volunteers tasks will include: playing games, teaching remedial classes, leading activities, assisting with after school tutoring, feeding, and other tasks around the center. Accommodations are provided by the orphanages and volunteers will have meals with the children. This placement requires participants to be flexible, capable and prepared for challenging living conditions.”

Source: www.goabroad.com


Volunteering in South India at Sadhana Forest

For someone looking for a well-organized, highly-committed community of volunteers, we recommend Sadhana Forest which is part of the international community of Auroville, 6km north of Pondicherry, in Tamil Nadu, South East India.

Their main mission is reforestation and water conservation, with an emphasis on permaculture. Sadhana Forest India has always tried to involve the local community with its activities before it initiates any change on the ground. They feel that it is very important to involve the community with any changes to the area, and to receive the communities’ feedback to better understand the challenges they face, and how to share their experience and knowledge to help with those challenges. This is a totally vegan community which really sets a great example of sustainable lifestyle.

For contact information click here


Volunteering on bank of Ganges – Jahnavi Kunja Ashram – West Bengal, India

Another wonerful ashram for volunteering in Mayapur, West Bengal, India

If you are looking to combine your volunteer efforts withan authentic Hindu spiritual experience, you should consider this Eco Yoga Ashram in Mayapur, West Bengal – India, a beautiful subtropical  island located right on the sacred Ganges river. This is one of nine islands, considered one of the holiest places in the world.

Here you will find a group of young enthusiastic bhakti yoga practitioners from different countries who live in this tranquil ashram in accordance with ancient Vedic principles.  You will be eager to wake up early in the morning to meditate, chanting mystic mantras, working in harmony with nature and interacting with people in the local community.

Contact: Volunteering in West Bengal, Jahnavi Kunja – India

 

ByVrinda Kunja Ashram

Bhakti yoga in Bhagavad Gita

As a main pillar of Hindu philosophy, the Bhagavad Gita is one of the most widely studied volumes in the world. It is found not only in Hindu temples but also in millions of libraries and homes. The Bhagavad Gita was even used at a swearing-in ceremony for a member of the United States Congress.  With great pleasure we present this article Bhakti Yoga in Bhagavad Gita by Bhakti Raksak Swami, who  has collected many important facts about the Gita for our readers’ benefit.

 

Bhakti yoga, the uniqueness of the Bhagavad Gita

Throughout human history, people have been trying to unveil the secrets of existence and discover the purpose of life. Many explanations and stories have been offered and preserved either by oral transmission or through scriptures. As a result, a great variety of traditions have appeared, each one with its own rituals and practices meant to ensure a peaceful stay in this world as well as a successful and safe journey into the hidden or unknown realms. Amongst all these traditions and practices, bhakti yoga, originating from the Vedic scriptures of ancient India has become widely known throughout the world, and is still being explored.

A great classic belonging to the epic Mahabharata of Vedic literature, the Bhagavad Gita, also known as one of the three oldest scriptures of humanity, has been recognized and appreciated by great thinkers of modernity, such as Mahatma Gandhi, Arthur Schopenhauer, Albert Einstein and others for the depth of its wisdom and incomparable inspiration. Far beyond any materialistic goal a human being can pursue in this world, the Bhagavad Gita teaches  bhakti-yoga, or pure devotional service with loving feelings to the Supreme Lord, as the highest objective. Though different Hindu schools have various approaches towards the Bhagavad Gita, the essential message is the same – to cultivate bhakti yoga, loving service of the Supreme.

Source of Inspiration

The Bhagavad Gita, describes a dialogue between the Supreme Lord Himself, Sri Krishna, and his dear friend and devotee Arjuna. Life’s destiny has brought Arjuna into a very desperate dilemma. He is trapped between armies of his relatives on two sides, gathered to fight in what for him appears to be a meaningless war. Unable to find his way out of this bewildering situation, Arjuna surrenders to Krishna and asks for His guidance.

Transcendental knowledge

What follows is a deep analysis about the root causes and secret workings of life, as revealed by Krishna to Arjuna. Listening to them, we learn the difference between the eternal soul and the perishable material body

The  living entity engrossed in material nature, devoid of spirtitual knowledge, considers the body as the self and seeks material pleasure as the only purpose of life. However, by receiving and understanding transcendental knowledge, we obtain a new vision, a much broader perspective on the meaning of our existence. We can no longer ignore the callings of the soul and its spiritual needs. Therefore, a person who has come into contact with this reality, naturally continues to inquire deeper into the world of spiritual understanding.

Spiritual Discipline

One who has stepped onto the path of this spiritual search cannot but question all pior activities and ways of thinking. He will start to change his habits related to thought and action. There cannot be spiritual insight without self-regulation of external habits coupled with disciplined spiritual practices.

Bhakti Yoga In Bhagavad gita: The Final Goal 

Krishna guides Arjuna through different levels of understanding the secrets of life, and thus instructs us to act according to our level of realization, understanding the benefits of action in dedication (karma), meditation (dhyana), development of knowledge (jnana) as well as other practices and regulations of yoga. He does all this with the intention of making Arjuna, and all of us understand that loving devotional service, bhakti-yoga, to Him, the Supreme Lord, represents the supreme purpose of life. Union with the Lord in divine love, expressed and realized through surrender and devotional service, is what ultimately pleases the Lord and his servant, the soul.

There is nothing comparable to this practice or consciousness, and there is no book like the Bhagavad Gita, which teaches us this greatest of all secrets: bhakti yoga in Bhagavad Gita

Feel the power of chanting Vedic mantras . Some Bhagavad

Gita verses are recited as well. This video was made on our tour to Varanasi.

 

ByVrinda Kunja Ashram

Hindu temple at home

Having a Hindu temple at home for domestic worship has always been customary in Hindu society from ancient times to the present day. This sacred tradition has been passed down generation to generation through beautiful rituals performed at home by adults and children alike. Everyone in the household can feel a connection with God and express their love to the deity. One simply cannot image an Indian home without an altar or shrine! To be human means to search for the ultimate meaning of life, to find out who we are and what our purpose in life is.  Can a domestic shrine help us cultivate our spiritual growth? There is only one way to find out!

A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada worshiping Krishna-Balaram deities in Vrindavan

The importance of having a Hindu temple at home

According to Vedic shastra (ancient Indian scripture), if you wish to invite God to appear, then you should place deities (forms of the Lord) on an altar for daily worship.   God will readily  accept anyone who sincerely desires to love to Him by performing rituals. Believe it or not, your daily life is already full of objects of adoration and rituals from brushing your teeth to watching films on your marvelous tablet, to putting on expensive jewelry, so why not include a very special kind of ritual that is beyond anything mundane or ordinary and bring real meaning to your life? If you are so inclined to do some spiritual practice such as meditation or prayer, then it is essential to dedicate a corner or small space (even an entire room!) in your home where you can enjoy peace and solitude during your practice. Offering a flower to the Supreme Lord can be a beautiful experience. This way your home becomes a temple. Anyone living with you or visiting your home will receive a divine blessing.

Basic temple worship at home

Creating your own sacred space with an altar and deity can be empowering and fun. First select a corner of a room or small space preferrably facing East. This space will dedicated solely to your worship. Using a table or piece of furniture that is elevated a few feet off the ground, set up your altar with an ornate cloth and other paraphernalia for worship such as candles, incense holders, vases for flowers, etc. Place a statue (murti) or picture of your beloved deity in the center and your altar is complete! Oh, there’s one more thing you need to add: loving intention and devotion!  Everyday before you begin your meditation practice or prayer,  you can offer a flower (if you don’t have a flower, even a leaf will suffice), a piece of fruit or some incense or water to your deity. You can recite any mantra from your heart or sing to express your love. You will be amazed how such a simple gesture can transform your consciousness and bring more love into your life while endearing you to your deity. As your devotion deepens over time, you will naturally wish to enhance the beauty of your sacred space with more valuable adornments and offerings.  This will make your deity shine with happiness.

Who will grace the altar of our Hindu home temple?

Naturally we should aspire to worship The Supreme Lord on the home altar and in doing so, try to establish a loving relationship with Him. The most authoritative ancient Hindu scriptures spoken by Lord Brahma himself declare that Govinda (another name of Krishna) is the supreme worshipable personality of Godhead. Of course, who you place on your altar is your personal preference, but if we want special divine mercy why not aspire for the topmost deity?  Most of us have difficulty imagining how God looks like, so we can acquire specific deity forms or images such as small statues or pictures to help us see our deity. He accepts different forms so we can serve him face to face. Our goal is to form a relationship with the deity that is based on loving devotion.  Performing a daily puja (ritualistic offering or greeting) at home is a beautiful way to establish this intimate relationship.

Basic Hindu worship (puja) at home

Once we have created a beautiful altar for God, we can begin to offer Him objects that He loves. The more beautiful and sweeter the objects are, the more pleasing they will be to your Ishtadev (beloved deity). The offering ceremony has some simple guidelines regarding cleanliness and sequence but in the beginning it isn’t necessary to learn all the rules. Just imagine that the most important person in the world is visiting your home and think about how you should treat him. The most important thing is to do everything with sincere love and devotion.  When we would like to do a fancier or more opulent puja, than we can start following the guidelines and offer incense, fire, water, cloth, flower, yak tail fan, peacock feather fan and specially prepared foods.

This short video on traditional Indian Hindu worship was made by Vrinda Kunja team just around the corner from our ashram, in Gopeshwar Mahadev temple. Source: bharata.hu

Transform your home into a Hindu temple

Visiting an authentic Hindu temple is an amazing experience, but sometimes we are not able to visit temples. Temples housing our preferred deities of worship may be very far away from our homes. Creating a temple in our home solves this problem instantly and permanently. As soon as we make our own temple and begin home worship, we begin to notice a transformation. Peace, harmony and prosperity envelop our home and our lives. Not just our connection with God becomes stronger, but our relationships with family and friends improve, especially if others join our worship. The entire atmosphere in our home becomes noticeably purer and full of loving sentiments. After all, if God is in the center of our attention, He radiates joy, contentment and love to everyone around Him. So, why not have hindu temple at home?

 

ByVrinda Kunja Ashram

Body mind and soul

Exploring the truth about body, mind and soul

Throughout human history philosophers have been searching for answers to life’s greatest questions. What is life? Where does life come from? What is the purpose of life? What happens to us after we die?  Anyone who asks these kinds of questions becomes a philosopher and starts a spiritual quest towards self-realization.

 

 

The purpose of body, mind and soul

In order to realize its true nature of sat-chit-ananda, eternal knowledge and bliss, the soul is always striving for its basic nourishment: love. Just as all living entities consist of and need water to exist, the essential nature and necessity of the soul is love, which it attains through service to others. In order to serve, the soul needs special tools, namely a mind and a body to make the Supreme and other living entities happy.

 

Who are we – body, mind or soul?

Hindu philosophy says we are jiva atma, individual souls, whose true nature is sat-chit-ananda eternally present, blissful and possessing perfect knowledge. Through God’s loving mercy, every soul is endowed with free will to choose where to go and what to do. This means we have chosen to live here in the materiak world. Having entered this world, in order to be active in this dimension, the soul needs assistance just as a scuba driver needs special equipment for being under water. This assistance comes in the form of the mind, which constructs a physical body with eyes to see, ears to hear, a nose to smell, a tongue to taste, skin to feel and a heart to love and feel emotions. It is easy to understand that we are the eternal soul, using the mind and the sensual physical body to interact with material nature, but we are not the mind and not the physical body, which are merely temporary physical manifestations.

When you drive a car, you don’t think of yourself as the car. The car is just some mechanical equipment to get you from point A to point B. When the car can no longer operate safely because it is damaged beyond repair or just wears out, we stop using it and acquire another vehicle. The soul does the same thing. When the body becomes useless and stops functioning, the soul departs and finds a new body to use. This is what we have all experienced since time immemorial: transmigration of the soul or reincarnation.

 

Benefits of being conscious about body, mind and soul

When we gain some knowledge about the body, we learn how to keep it healthy and fit. A vegetarian diet, meditation and yoga practice or physical activity are beneficial. A poor diet with excessive meat eating, substance abuse with alcohol or drugs, and lack of exercise or lethargy can destroy the body.

As we maintain a healthy body, we must also maintain a healthy mind. Besides helping us use language to express our feelings and intentions, our mind enables us to store memories of pleasurable or distressful experiences, which helps us make decisions in our everyday lives.  Krishna says in  the Bhagavad-Gita that the mind can be our best friend or our worst enemy. It can lead us to make bad decisions that are not pleasing to the soul, or it can be used to make choices that bring happiness to our soul and to others. The mind needs daily maintenance like meditation or chanting of mantras; otherwise the mind starts forming destructive habits that neglect the benefit of the soul.

The soul is always pure, eternal, blissful and full of knowledge. The false ego, characterized by selfish desires, pride, envy and temporary self-designations (man, woman, family relation, occupation, social status, nationality, etc.) all  produced by the mind, covers our true self. Just as dust can obscure the reflection of a mirror and objects appear differently, so the false ego obscures the reflection of the soul and we lose a clear vision of our true nature.  Our task is to purify the body and mind to develop soul conciousness which will enable us to serve others as loving souls. We realize our highest expression of love when we serve others. Just as a mother serves her children with love and they become very happy, when we start serving others with love, we are also going to be very happy. This activity makes everybody happy including God.

 

ByVrinda Kunja Ashram

Hare krishna mantra

The Hare Krishna mantra, also known as the Maha Mantra, is a 16 word mantra. We have collected basic information about this famous mantra.

History and background of the Hare Krishna Maha Mantra

The first mention of the Hare Krishna mantra is in the Katha Upanishad, compiled thousands of years ago.  The Katha Upanishad belongs to ancient Vedic literature.  The Mahamantra originally appeared with a slightly inverted variation: Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare. Around five hundred years ago the Supreme Lord appeared as Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, who changed it to the current transcendental form: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare. This mantra is called the Maha Mantra which means the Great Mantra as it is considered to be the most important of all mantras.

From ancient India to the modern age

Hindu philosophy divides time into four epochs: Satya Yuga (the golden age), Treta Yuga (the silver age), Dvapara Yuga (the bronze age), and  Kali Yuga (the iron age). Each epoch has  optimal techniques or practices recommended for self-realization. At present, we are living in Kali Yuga. In this epoch, the best way to attain self-realization is to chant the Hare Krishna mantra. Chanting the holy names of Krishna is the best chance we have; we mustn’t miss out on it.  Though there are not any strict rules on how to chant, the most important thing is to try to chant from the core of your heart.

Meaning of the Hare Krishna mantra

The Hare Krishna Maha Mantra is not different from Krishna Himself.  The Hare Krishna mantra is the avatar of the Supreme Lord incarnated in sound vibraton. The real meaning of the mantra is: Please My Lord, let me be an instrument of your love.

 

Inscribed Hindu text from ancient India on Sanskrit language

Power of the Maha Mantra

The Hare Krishna mantra is extremely potent. The Maha Mantra is able to neutralize our bad habits. As soon as you start to chant the Hare Krishna mantra, you can feel the benefit immediately. We have seen many examples of this in our lives. Meat eaters become vegetarians, drug addicts become clean, the desperate find hope simply by chanting the Maha Mantra. The Hare Krishna mantra wakes us up and connects us with God.

Famous musicians attracted to Hare Krishna

George Harrison wrote the song My Sweet Lord. It was a number one song for a long time in the US and all around the word. This led millions of people to sing the Mahamantra. The Hare Krishna mantra also became popular when millions of people saw the musical Hair. Even the progressive rock band Quintessence chanted the Holy name of Krishna for millions in the US and across Europe. The Hare Krishna mantra is the most well-known of all mantras or religious prayers on this planet.

 

Listen to My Sweet Lord and look at some great photos of George Harrison chanting the Maha mantra


 

ByVrinda Kunja Ashram

Karma and reincarnation

The unified concept of karma and reincarnation is a fundamental aspect of Hindu philosophy. Various concepts of karma and reincarnation have captivated the minds of people since the dawn of human civilization. This mysterious and intriguing subject has been debated by spiritual and religious leaders, philosophers and great thinkers past and present. Here, a short but illuminating article by Vrinda family member Radha Govinda devi from Switzerland offers a unique Vedic perspective on the matter.

How to become free from karma and reincarnation?

Karma and Reincarnation

In Sanskrit language, the word “karma”  literally means action. An action necessarily also includes its reaction. It is a physical law, that whenever an action is done, it is followed by a reaction (“actio=reactio”). For people, this means that whatever action one does, a reaction will follow. If one sows a good seed, the resulting fruit will be good. If somebody performs a bad deed, an unwanted weed or bad reaction will come.

“Prarabdha Karma”

The law of karma explains very easily for example why somebody becomes ill.  An action must have been made in the past that has caused the illness to manifest now. “Prarabdha karma” is the karma or reaction that is visible now because of a seed or action  that was made sometime before. But how does it happen, for example, that very young children become ill,  or that someone is born into a  poor or rich family? Does this mean they did some bad or good action before? But when? The Vedas, the ancient Indian scriptures tell us that the actions must have been done in a previous life.

Bhagavad Gita

It is explained in the Bhagavad Gita, that like the embodied soul that continuously passes in this body, from infancy to youth, to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. The example is given, that one changes bodies like the changing of clothes. Someone who has taken birth is sure to die, and after death one is sure to take birth again. This is the teaching of reincarnation. This cycle of birth and death is called samsara, and it goes on and on.

Breaking free from karma and reincarnation

How is it possible to exit this cycle of birth and death? If one must pay for each action of the past, while continually creating new actions, how can one stop this eternal cycle? The core of hindu philosophy, Bhagavad Gita states that the only way to come out of this cycle is for us  to realize our true selves as spirit souls and to develop a loving relationship with God our creator, Krishna. By engaging in devotional service to the Lord, sages or devotees free themselves from the results of work in the material world and become liberated from the cycle of birth and death, and attain the state beyond all miseries, namely going back home, back to Godhead.

Back to Godhead

Anything is possible. Transcend karma and reincarnation.

Beyond this temporary material world lies another world, the eternal spiritual abode of Krishna, God. He loves us, His children, and wants us to come back to Him, if we so desire, with our free will. As soon as a person starts to approach God through devotional service, prayers or chanting of His Holy Names, The Lord will reciprocate by granting His mercy.

It is explained in the Vedas, that the entire karma of a person can change in this way. Then life will no longer hold the burden of karmic reactions, but rather a loving exchange will unfold between the soul and the greatest Soul, Lord Krishna. If someone thinks lovingly of Krishna at the end of his life, while leaving his body, he will certainly go back home, back to Godhead, as Krishna promises in the Bhagavad Gita. In spiritual world ther is no karma and reincarnation.

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