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My Heart Melted in the Kirtan — Letters

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We welcome your letters.
Write to BACK TO GODHEAD
51 West Allens Lane
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19119

I have been aware of the Hare Krishna movement for about a decade. I very often noticed the devotees chanting in downtown Vancouver. But for all those years, I looked upon them with disgust. I felt that these oddly dressed, shaven-headed boys were ruining the name of India and adversely impacting upon the image of East Indians living in British Columbia.

Recently, out of curiosity, I dropped in at their temple on the weekend. They had sankirtana [congregational chanting of Hare Krsna] going at that moment. I entered, and within a matter of minutes my heart swelled with ecstasy and tears rolled down my cheeks. That was a turning point in my life. I felt so guilty for my wrong impression of them.

Nowadays, whenever I can, I visit the temple with my wife and children. I also take advantage of the chanting in downtown Vancouver. Although I do not join in the singing, I stand beside the group of devotees and listen with all respect, love, and rapt adoration.

Over the years, I also collected magazines and books that I got from the devotees in the street. But I never read them. I just finished reading “The Science of Self-Realization” [a selective anthology of Srila Prabhupada’s writings in BACK TO GODHEAD]. It has made a remarkable impact on me. It has reawakened my inner feelings and emotions for Krishna. Now I want to buy any and every thought that emanated from the supremely divine mind of Srila Prabhupada.

All my humble apologies to the sincere devotees for my misunderstanding them. Anyone who tries to inculcate (rekindle) love of God in our hearts deserves our gratitude, love, respect, admiration, encouragement, and mental and material support.

Lilakanta Dutta

Surrey, B.C., Canada

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I want to thank the Hare Krishna movement for helping me. Chanting has made me calmer and given me more peace of mind.

Lee Hansen

Brighton, Massachusetts

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From Vedic books we understand that the soul resides in the heart of every living being. How do you explain the heart patient who was recently fitted with a permanent artificial heart? What happened to the soul in his body?

T.S. Gyanendra

Bahrain

Our reply: Transplanting the heart doesn’t transplant the soul. The soul, according to Bhagavad-gita, is seated in the region of the heart. But when the heart moves, the soul doesn’t.

When the surgeons switch the natural heart for a plastic one, the soul merely switches seats, like a man rising from his chair to accept a new one. So the soul of Dr. Barney Clark lived on in his artificial heart.

But whether made of flesh and blood or plastic and metal, the heart is just an inanimate pump for the bodily machine. And eventually the whole machine will break down, forcing the soul to transmigrate to a new body.

Unfortunately, the highly skilled mechanics who built Dr. Clark’s heart didn’t know anything of the science of the soul. If they had they would have spent more time trying to give Dr. dark a way to achieve eternal life in his original, spiritual body rather than a few extra weeks or months in his desperately ill material one.

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I really like your recipe section, but one thing in your February issue puzzled me. The title of the article was “Sweet Rice: Good Enough to Steal,” but you didn’t give the recipe for sweet rice. What gives?

Anne Ferguson

Chicago, Illinois

Our reply: Sorry, we goofed. Here’s the recipe you’re looking for:

Creamy Condensed-Milk Rice Pudding

(North Indian Chaval Ksira)

Preparation time: About 40 minutes
Yield: 4 ½ to 5 cups

8 cups fresh milk
¼ cup plus 1 teaspoon basmati or other high-quality long-grain white rice
1/3 to ¾ cup sugar
¼ cup raisins
¼ cup blanched almonds, slivered
6 to 8 green cardamom pods
a pinch of pure saffron threads
3 tablespoons rosewater (optional)
1 or 2 perfumed rose petals for garnishing (optional)

1. Clean, wash, and drain the rice.

2. Break open the cardamom pods, remove the black seeds, and crush to a coarse consistency on a stone mortar.

3. Pour the milk into a heavy 5- to 6-quart saucepan and bring to a boil over a high flame, stirring constantly with a wide wooden spatula. Now slightly reduce the flame, add the sweetener and the rice, and, stirring attentively, briskly boil for 25 to 30 minutes. Then reduce the flame to medium and gently boil the milk for 5 to 10 more minutes, or until it is creamy and somewhat thick. Don’t forget to stir constantly.

4. Add the raisins, almonds, cardamom powder, and saffron threads. Then simmer for 5 minutes, stirring constantly, and remove from the flame.

5. Cool for 15 to 20 minutes and stir in the rosewater.

6. Pour the sweet rice into individual serving dishes and garnish with a small piece of rose petal. You can offer this sweet rice to Krsna either chilled or at room temperature. It’s delicious either way.

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