Toronto's Hare Krishna Temple

Toronto's Hare Krishna Centre (ISKCON Toronto), has always been the hub of a rich, vibrant and enthusiastic community. Whether it be grand festivals, programs at local universities and yoga studios, philosophical discussions, cooking sessions, or singing and dancing on the streets, there are events taking place for everyone's interest.

Friday, November 27, 2015

20 Tips for Married Couples - Bhakti Rasamrita Swami

We came across a wonderful list of guidelines for married couples, families and anyone trying to build a strong Krsna conscious lifestyle.  This list was written by Bhakti Rasamrita Swami, a senior sannyasi (monk) in our Hare Krishna movement.

Bhakti Rasamrita Swami completed his B.E. from M.S University Baroda, MBA from Bombay University & worked for some time in a multinational Bank. Inspired by the teachings of Srila Prabhupada, he decided to dedicate his life for propagating the message of Bhagavad Gita and joined International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON). He was initiated by the spiritual name His Grace Devamrita Dasa. Since then he has served in many important projects and has preached the message of Bhagavad gita very widely, especially to the student community. He served as temple president in Mumbai, Belgaum and Vrindavan- which is the spiritual hub of world wide ISKCON temples. He has been preaching in many prestigious educational institutions all over India. In the month of March, 2010, honoring his dedication and devotion, He was awarded the order of Sannyasa (renunciate monk) in ISKCON, with the title Bhakti Rasamrita Swami. In his more than 30 years of dedicated devotional life in ISKCON, he has rendered several important services, preached in many countries of America, Europe and USSR, and continues to do so.

The following are his "20 Guidelines for Married Devotees":

  1. Remember that your house, money, family, etc. are all Krishna's property & that all these have to be engaged in His service.  He has very kindly given you all these out of His mercy, and He may take them away as He pleases. So be grateful for what you have & engage all these gifts in His service with devotion & detachment.
  2. Keep the Holy name, Krishna katha & the Temple/home deities in the centre of your life. Attend devotional programmes in the Temple & at other devotee gatherings on a regular basis.  Especially, hearing discourses/classes live & participating in sankirtana is important.
  3. Keep your sadhana strong. Please remember that the best chanting you can do is early in the morning. So avoid unnecessary late nights. It is best to retire early at night, so you can rise early in the morning & be fresh for your sadhana. Your japa is the most important activity of the day. Try to chant clearly & hear attentively. Be in a prayerful mood.
  4. Read Srila Prabhupada's books regularly & seriously. This will strengthen faith, conviction & understanding, & help in keeping proper spiritual focus in your day to day life. Remember: guru, sadhu & shastra will show us our proper direction in life.
  5. All the members of the family, young & old, should gather together at home at least once every day, to have arati, kirtana & some discussion/reading from the scriptures. Srila Prabhupada mentions this in his purports.
  6. Engage yourself in some seva regularly. It is good to take some responsibility, small or big, according to one's situation. Serve with humility, enthusiasm, sincerity & eagerness, without seeking any gross or subtle reward from the service. Do not seek, or be attached to, position or prestige that may be associated with any service.
  7. Associate with devotees as much as possible. Live together in the society of devotees with a feeling of friendship towards other devotees, & in a mood of service to them. Ensure that this friendship is not spoilt by ego, envy, self-interest, insensitivity or negligence. Keep Krishna in the centre of these relationships.
  8. Avoid the association of non- devotees as much as possible. Where such association is not avoidable (at work, for example), perform your duty well & be socially pleasant. But be careful to not let their non-devotional consciousness rub off on you. Do not join them & take pleasure in the things that they take pleasure in mundane gossip, movies, sports... & violation of the four regulative principles. Set a good example as a devotee, & speak & act in a way that will make them feel positive about Krishna consciousness.
  9. Similarly, whilst staying strong in your devotional principles personally, deal with family, in-laws, neighbours, friends, etc in a way that will increase their appreciation for Krishna consciousness.
  10. Avoid distracting mundane entertainment offered through cinema, TV, internet & other means. Be careful that you are not overwhelmed by electronic gadgetry, communication devices & social media. Use them judiciously as tools, if you must; do not become helpless tools in their hands.
  11. Take decisions (small or big) in life according to how your Krishna consciousness will be affected, directly or indirectly. Consider the short term & long term implications of your decision. Accept whatever is favourable for your Krishna consciousness & reject that which is unfavourable. This should be the ultimate criterion in decision making.
  12. Purity (or impurity) of the source of your livelihood will also affect your life & consciousness. Hence choose professions that have minimum possible material contamination & spiritual risk. Avoid professions in which there is a clear violation of the four regulative principles e.g. working for a company that produces or sells liquor. Do not involve yourself in overly risky money earning ventures, being lured by the prospect of very quick & large profits. Avoid illegal business activities of any sort.
  13. Spend wisely. Do not unnecessarily spend on things that may not be really required. Live reasonably simply. Follow the principle of "Simple Living, High Thinking”. Do not be tempted or attracted by, or become envious of, the wealth or position of others. Do not become a victim of the modern day consumerist culture with its emphasis on excessive consumption & flashy lifestyles.
  14. Save money wisely for the future. Yet, take care to avoid a hoarding mentality.
  15. Give something in charity in Krishna consciousness according to your means. Charity is recommended in the shastras as one of the dharmas of a grhastha.
  16. Know that your life is meant as a service to others in Krishna consciousness & not only for yourself or your family. Keep this spirit of sacrifice in your heart & keep away any feelings of selfishness.
  17. Preach the message of Krishna consciousness whenever you get the opportunity. Follow the advice that Chaitanya Mahaprabhu gave the Kurma brahmana: "Jaare dekho taare kaho Krishna upadesha...." - speak the message of Lord Krishna to whoever you meet. In this way cultivate the missionary spirit. Preaching is not the exclusive preserve of brahmacharis & sannyasis.  Grhasthas must also actively participate in it, according to their situation.
  18. Do not be unduly absorbed in household & material matters.  Yet, do not be neglectful of your household & bonafide material duties. These must be performed with care, sensitivity & responsibility.
  19. Bring up your children in Krishna consciousness, never considering it to be a burden. This is one of the most important services for a grhastha. Adjust other services according to the requirements of this service. For example, during pregnancy or when the child is very young, you may not be able to do many other services. But do not mind that. This service is also very pleasing to Krishna. When the time & opportunity are right, however, you may do those other services. Of course, the basic services of hearing & chanting must not be neglected at any time. And it is important to come to the Temple for your own spiritual nourishment as well as for that of the child.
  20. Practice, preserve & teach the principles of traditional & devotional family life -faithfulness & life-long commitment in marriage, a culture of respect for all (including elders), sharing, caring, serving, cooking at home, & so on. In this regard, understand well the pitfalls of accepting modern day social norms & practices like unrestricted mingling of men & women, eating out in 'karmi' restaurants,’ living together' before marriage,& so on.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

An Inspirational Marathon Video from ISKCON London

Every December the worldwide Hare Krishna community (500+ temples) focus all of their attention on the distribution of transcendental literature, something we all know was so close to Srila Prabhupada’s heart.

He was incredibly eager to hear the figures of how many books were being distributed. Indeed, he said it gave him life. When a new book was printed, Prabhupada felt as though he had conquered an empire. He told one disciple – “the best of me is in my books.”

Check out this amazingly inspirational video made by the dynamic devotees of ISKCON London:

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Mayor John Tory's Diwali Celebrations at City Hall!

On the evening of Wednesday, November 18, 2015, a special event took place at City Hall in the heart of downtown Toronto.  Mayor John Tory, the political head of our vibrant City of Toronto, hosted his first ever Diwali celebrations at City Hall and representatives from the Hare Krishna Temple were invited to this special evening.

As many of our devotees may recall, Mayor Tory took part in our Ratha-Yatra (Festival of India) celebrations this past July and he spent several hours at our festival, visiting the booths, taking darshan (audience) of the Deities and addressing the crowd at the main stage!  A nice connection was made and so we got a personal invitation to attend his Diwali celebrations.

Bhaktimarga Swami and members of the ISKCON Toronto Temple Council attended the event and they absolutely enjoyed meeting many esteemed members of the South Asian community.  The evening began with mingling and refreshments, continued with musical performances and then concluded with a very inspiring speech by the Mayor himself. 

Upon meeting the Mayor during the post-event mingling session, he immediately said, "What an amazing time we had on the Toronto Islands!  Thank you for inviting me to that special festival!"  It was nice to see that the Ratha-Yatra (Festival of India), our biggest festival of the year, made such a positive impression on the Mayor and that it was so memorable for him.

Check out the pictures of the event below!  Also, we've captured a "screenshot" of Mayor Tory's Twitter account as he "retweeted" the Temple Council's tweet about the event to his 82,000 Twitter followers!  Hare Krsna!

Pictures from Diwali Celebrations @ City Hall

Photo Gallery by

A Video from a York University Student Project

Back in September, the temple was contacted by an enthusiastic student from York University named Gurpreet for the purpose of a school project.  Gurpreet is a fourth year at York University and was working on a project about Hare Krishna culture and influence on modern day society. Gurpreet asked if an interview could be arranged with someone from our temple.

We contacted one of our stalwart leaders of our community, Rupanuga prabhu, and he happily obliged.  A few Sundays ago, Gurpreet came to the temple and met with Rupanuga prabhu.  We are happy to report that Gurpreet received very positive remarks for the finished project.  Check out the resulting video below (the sound is a little poor for the first few minutes, but improves after the 7:20 mark).  Great job, Gurpreet!

Monday, November 16, 2015

Festival Report - Srila Prabhupada Disappearance Day & Marathon Launch

The month of Kartik presents a special time of year when there is ample opportunity for spiritual reflection, growth and inspiration.  During this month, there are a multitude of festivals which help us to focus our lives in a very Krsna conscious fashion.

While most festivals involve grand celebrations, one special festival allows us an opportunity to reflect on the incredible life of Srila Prabhupada.  On Sunday, November 15, 2015, the Toronto Hare Krishna Temple marked Srila Prabhupada's Disappearance Day (the anniversary of his passing).

Festivities actually began at 11:30am with kirtan, a reading and the offering of flowers (puspanjali) to Srila Prabhupada.

Later on, during the evening Sunday Feast, the festival continued with a class by both Bhaktimarga Swami and Krsnadas Kaviraj das wherein they expanded on the incredible contributions that Srila Prabhupada made to our movement and world.  There was a very nice interactive element where the audience had a chance to share their realizations about Srila Prabhupada's contributions to the world.

The special Sunday Feast also featured the launch of the annual Srila Prabhupada Book Marathon!  During this time of year, known as the season of giving, Hare Krishna temples around the world make a focused effort to share and distribute as many of Srila Prabhupada's books as possible!

To help pump our community with enthusiasm, devotees welcomed our famous "Walking Bhagavad Gita" who helped explain all the exciting things that will be happening during the marathon.  One feature worth noting is the creative and unique "thermometer" which will help us see how we are doing on our goals for the marathon.  Each week, a cutout of Srila Prabhupada will be raised up a ladder towards the Jaladuta (the boat which he traveled on to America in 1965).  So, in essence, as we work towards our goal we will watch each week as Srila Prabhupada "climbs" the ladder and gets closer to the Jaladuta!

All in all, it was a special Sunday Feast where we had a chance to honour Srila Prabhupada and also get enthused about one his most dearest desires - sharing his books with the world!

Festival Pictures
(courtesy Sahil Srivastava)

Photo Gallery by

Festival Report - Govardhana Puja Celebrations

On Thursday, November 12th, the Toronto Hare Krishna temple celebrated Govardhana Puja.  The festival marks the occasion when we celebrate the story of Lord Krishna protecting the citizens of Vrndavana from a torrential downpour of rain.

The festival began with kirtan and continued with a class by Bhaktimarga Swami.  Maharaj had just arrived back from a 45-day walk in the United States, commemorating Srila Prabhupada's arrival 50 years ago, in 1965.  Bhaktimarga Swami's walk took him from Boston to Butler, Pennsylvania to New York City.  After spending some time talking about the significance of the festival of Govardhana Puja, Maharaj then shared some stories and pictures from his walk.

After the class, everyone then oriented themselves around the incredible hill which had lovingly been made by the temple's Pujari (Priest) Department.  As everyone took darshan (audience) of the magnificent hill, made entirely of sweets, kirtan captured everyone's hearts.  Everyone then had a chance to circumambulate the hill as the kirtan continued and led into the 8:00pm arati (kirtan).

A huge feast awaited the massive crowd as everyone had a chance to partake in delicious prasadam and also enjoy the many sweets that decorated the hill!  All in all, the festival was a smash success and devotees thoroughly enjoyed the experience!

Festival Pictures
(courtesy Sahil Srivastava)

Photo Gallery by

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Govardhana Puja Festival

Here are some pictures of the wonderful Govardhana Puja celebrations taking place right now!

Govardhana Puja Festival - November 12, 2015

On Thursday, November 12, 2015 Toronto's Hare Krishna Temple will be celebrating Govardhan Puja!

Also referred to as Annakuta, Govardhana Puja is a special festival which marks the time when the inhabitants of Vrindavan (Lord Krishna’s abode on Earth) held a harvest festival in honour of King Indra, the demigod who provided the rains essential for the harvest. One day, however, Lord Krishna wanted to teach Indra a lesson. He convinced the inhabitants of Vrindavan to honour Govardhana Hill instead, whose fertile soil provided the grass upon which the cows and bulls grazed, and to honour the cows and bulls who provided milk and ploughed the lands.

Outraged, Indra retaliated with terrifying thunderstorms. The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna, calmly lifted Govardhana Hill with the little finger of his left hand. For seven days and seven nights the Lord held up Govardhana Hill, providing a giant umbrella to shelter the inhabitants of Vrindavan from the torrential rain.

Govardhan Puja celebrations at the Hare Krishna temple have always been popular and this year's festival will once again feature a grand "Govardhana Hill" made entirely of sweets in the middle of the temple room! Please join us for festivities from 6:00pm to 9:00pm on Thursday, November 12, 2015 to celebrate this wonderful festival!

We hope to see you and your family at the Hare Krishna temple for this spectacular festival!