Call of the Conch-Part 1: By Joyce Sweinberg



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Lord Sri Krishna vividly describes the three types of foods,
Sattvic, Rajasic and Tamasic. Milk in the olden days was definitely Sattvic.
However now it is 100% Tamasic due to the abundant violence and abuse it entails.
Drinking such milk is equal to eating beef. In fact the animals raised for meat
do not have to suffer so much as these unfortunate dairy cows are made to suffer.

~Shri Kamlesh

In Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, Ahimsa (nonviolence) is considered the first principle of the spiritual life. Ramana Maharshi, the great sage of Arunachala has clearly stated, “Ahimsa Param Dharma”. Translated this means that nonviolence is the supreme religion… My friends, in order to gain peace, one has to give peace to others. This is the universal law as described and explained by the doctrine of karma. What we give to others, we give to ourselves. If we are able to learn this lesson by heart, it will influence our actions in this world. It is not an easy lesson at all.Nonviolence is the most beautiful expression and manifestation of the unconditioned recognition of the Nature of Reality. This is our conviction. This ideal is our aspiration. As many times as we fall, we get up and stand on the foundation of nonviolence as our nature. ~Dr. Harsh K. Luthar


Can you hear her crying?

There was a time, a time when the dairy cow was nurtured and revered for her milk, when the calf came first and the human after, when she was part of the family, not part of their property. When she lived out her life with decency until the end, even after she no longer produced milk. But that time is long gone, replaced by industry production methods aimed at one goal…profit.  And in that goal, all decency was lost, replaced with the torture, plunder and cruelty of the present milk farms, both here in the US and abroad.

The female dairy cow spends her life confined in close quarters with other cows, being pumped with hormones calculated to produce pregnancy after pregnancy as long as she is capable of bearing calves, both to increase the population of the cows for milk and meat production and to spur the female to produce more milk. when her calves are born, they are taken from her within a few days of birth, giving rise to the grief of separation for both the mother and the child. (This and the fate of her calves will be the subject of its own article)  Her body knows no rest, either from pregnancy, the drugs used to induce pregnancy and milk production,  or the milking machines which relentlessly squeeze the very life out of her, slowly and painfully.  This relentless assault on her body frequently causes her to develop mastitis, an extremely painful condition of the udder, which results in blood and pus accumulating within the infection and often being expelled into the milk.





The link below graphically depicts the puncture of  an inflamed udder…

Although the average life span of the cow can be in the neighborhood of  25 years,  the cow in the milk farm is ready for death after approximately 4-5 years.  By this time, the multiple pregnancies, coupled with the hormones and other drugs pumped into her system have taken their toll.  More often than not, by this time, she can barely walk on her own, either due to excess weight gain from the drugs and/or broken bones and the condition is often referred to as a “downed cow.”  This has significance in the market, as a “downed cow”, by law in most states, is not to be introduced into the slaughterhouse and the meat which is being sold to the ever willing population of meat eaters.  For this is her final destination…once she is no longer useful for bearing calves or bearing milk, she is sent to the slaughterhouse to be butchered and sold as meat.

A note about organic farming is in order. Although the cow may not be confined or treated with antibiotics and other drugs, it is quite likely that she will be impregnated, separated from her offspring and slaughtered in the end.

Even as she approaches her last moments, she is prodded and abused to keep her “up” so she can “walk” past the inspectors and into the knife of the butcher.  The videos in the link below show the cows being hit in the face with sticks, prodded with electric prods, chained to forklifts and dragged just to get them “on their feet.”  Once on the feet, the cow is continually pushed, her tail twisted, electric shocks applied to her, anything to keep her moving and get her into the kill box, where all of this will finally come to an end, and she will be slaughtered. The link below to the Humane Society video, taken undercover at a dairy farm in California, illustrates some of this abuse…

  Abuse is not limited to America…


“The cows are cramped into these trucks, with no food, water for days these poor exhausted animals are then literally thrown from the trucks on to the ground. Many cows break their legs, and bones and cannot walk, to hoist them to the slaughter house acid is poured into their eyes and noses or their tails are broken. These abuses are wide-spread because of lax laws and corrupt officials and the demand for cheap leather products. Some how when these cows are lead to the slaughter house, the cows are literally hammered by a large hammer on their heads and after they are immobile their necks are slit so that they are bled to death. At least their miserable lives have now finally come to an end. The farmer now gets his money from the dead cow’s flesh and leather and buys a younger cow to continue the cycle.”  ~Shri Kamlesh


The cows pictured below, either because of broken legs or other diseases affecting them due to the abuse of their bodies in the production of milk, can no longer stand on their own. They are left stranded, unable to move, even to get away from their own excrement, unable to escape the violence which awaits them as they are either “euthanized” or butchered for meat production.

  Many of the images below can be located at
with detailed explanations of the images…





 Once they are forced up, this is where they end up, along with their male counterparts…


Having one’s actions grounded in ahimsa for the Lord’s creatures, all of them, calls to our spiritual conscience with the power of the sounding of the conch. The conch, held by Vishnu, the preserver, represents life. When it is sounded, it is the sound of victory, as by Krishna and Arjuna heralding the defeat of the adharmic influences in the battlefield of the mind symbolized in the Holy Gita.  May the adharmic influences inherent in the dairy industry fall to the ground in defeat at the call of the conch.



 Matkarmakrinmatparamo madbhaktah sangavarjitah;
Nirvairah sarvabhooteshu yah sa maameti paandava.

Whoever works for Me, looking upon Me as the goal;
whoever is My devotee, free from attachments
and from antagonism to any being –
such a one shall enter into Me. (BG 11.55) 


Call of the Conch-Introduction: By Joyce Sweinberg

“We need to challenge our age old habits and tradition
if they are in direct contrast to the principles of
non-violence and dharma laid down by Sri Krishna in Gita.”

Lord Krishna is also known as Gopala, or protector of the cows. His love for and relationship with the cows of Vrindavan forms a major part of His transcendental past times.  Among the artwork depicting His holy image, there are just as many showing Him with His beloved cows as there are images depicting Him with His beloved Radha and the gopis.  As Giridhara, He lifted the mountain of Govardhana to protect the citizens and the cows from destruction.  When He played His flute, the cows were there, His most ardent audience.  When He wanted to eat, the cows were there, His most willing suppliers of milk and butter.  When He wanted affection, the cows were there, His most unselfish companions, wanting nothing from Him but His caress and His embrace, which they freely returned.  And so, it is not surprising that from these stories and for other reasons, the practice of offering Him prasadam made with dairy, and bathing His image in milk developed and took hold as the cornerstone of devotional rituals.

At abishekam, a devotional service, the offering of milk is one of the most common items donated by devotees.  Sometimes mixed with honey and other items, the milk is poured onto the deity and flows freely and amply throughout the ritual, allowed to drain into metal bowls, collected and then poured back into the bottles for the devotees to take home, now blessed by the Lord.  A small vessel is also passed around the room, with each of us given a small spoonful to drink the blessings of Divinity. Food is also offered to the Lord for prasadam and usually contains milk and ghee, a form of clarified butter.  After the puja is complete, the food is shared by devotees partaking of the Lord’s blessings, gathering together in the sangha of God’s worship.

What appears as a charming expression of devotion now has lurking behind it a vile abuse of this most sacred creature of the Lord, both in India and here in America, knowingly perpetrated by the suppliers of the dairy products and unwittingly financed by the Lord’s devotees.  While I converted to a vegetarian diet years ago, I continued to include some dairy in my diet, although very limited due to my developing concern with ahimsa and allergic skin reactions.  But I continued to accept the prasad, I continued to pour the milk when the occasion arose and I relished the sweets and the wonderful Indian cuisine so freely shared where I worship. I told myself that any hesitations I had should be quashed within myself because these were offerings to God and had been blessed and cleansed of any sins committed in their procurement. Lately, though, I was becoming uneasy about it, but not voicing my thoughts and not knowing quite how to voice my developing uncertainty over the source of these offerings.


Until recently, when Kamleshji, another devotee on a bhakta forum posted a message directly confronting this subject, and ripping open my cloak of uncertainty to the naked truth that cannot be denied if one looks with one’s eyes open, if one hears with one’s heart and if one thinks with one’s conscience. From his post and subsequent communications from him, I quote a few lines below…

“….as devotees of Lord Sri Krishna we must definitely pay attention to the plight of His most beloved animal, the Cow (Go-mata).

Just recently on Sri Krishna Jayanthi, we bathed Lord Sri Krishna in milk, curd, ghee and offered Him His favourite naivedhyams such as paal payasam,  ghee and butter.

However we must be aware how this milk is obtained in this Kali yugam, especially where milk is obtained in commerical farming techniques (as in big cities in India and especially here in the US).  Before this exploitative factory farming age, our saints used to procure Milk products in harmony and without cruelty, the milk was taken from the cow only after the calf has had it’s fill and the cow was worshipped as Go-matha.  Such offerings are certainly pleasing to the Lord.

However in the present age,  factory produced milk is a very cruel exploitative product of torturing cattle. The poor cows are  enclosed in a tiny space, chained in its own waste in darkness, cold and filth for the rest of its life. It is pumped with insane amounts of hormones, and other toxic medications to artifically increase milk production.

These large amounts of hormones, antibiotics and other unnatural feed, cause the cow to grow large and make it prone to bone fractures and other very painful diseases. To add to this torture the cows are artifically inseminated to produce calves to ensure regular supply of milk.

The most unfortunate of the calves are male calves  (called Bobby calves) who are considered to be useless and are sold off to be butchered for meat when they are just five days old. The mother cows separated from their calves cry in agony, yet they are not spared and are administered more hormones to continue milking them.

After milking the cow till it has been exhausted and after ensuring that the cow cannot yield anymore milk, it is sold off to be slaughtered in the most brutal manner for meat and leather.  I request all bhaktas to please think about this, will our Lord ever accept our abhiseghams and Naivedhyams if it means that His favourite innocent animals are killed slowly and extremely painfully all their lives?  Let us not act in an adharmic manner and perform unthinkable atrocities and sins by offering factory produced milk and milk based products especially in our sacred rituals and also in our diets. I can only be certain that we shall never suceed in our sadhana if it causes so much needless pain for innocent animals.

Lord Sri Krishna, vividly describes the three types of foods, Sattvic, Rajasic and Tamasic. Milk in the olden days was definitely Sattvic however now it is 100% Tamasic due to the abundant violence and abuse it entails. Drinking such milk is equal to eating beef.  In fact the animals raised for meat do not have to suffer so much as these unfortunate dairy cows are made to suffer.

We cannot afford to fool ourselves into believing that just because we are vegetarians and do not eat beef, we are protecting the cows. We need to challenge our age old habits and tradition if they are in direct contrast to the principles of non-violence and dharma laid down by Sri Krishna in Gita.”


His post prompted me to respond to him and to also go online to view some of the websites which I knew would show me the truth, as painful as it might be to watch and to listen. I am now convinced that I must be even more vigilant in my avoidance of all dairy products where I do not know the source.  I will also post several more blog entries examining this subject in more detail, in the hope that each of us can look more honestly into our hearts about what we put into our mouths and onto our bodies, and onto the Lord.

The blog already has several articles on the subject of vegetarian diet…this short series is specifically examining the vegan diet.  We will look at ahimsa as the foundation for a vegan diet, the economic incentives fueling the abuse, the ways in which the dairy cows are abused, including their offspring, and how they are slaughtered in the end. We will examine the human health consequences of ingestion of dairy products and the environmental effects of the mass procreation of cows for human consumption.  We will explore the organic industry as well. We will post photos and links to videos so you can see for yourself what is happening to the dairy cows.  We will also post links to organizations geared to helping the abused cows and offering alternatives to the current system.  We will offer suggestions and ideas on how to substitute other products in our diet and in our worship. We ask that you the reader examine the facts with an open heart. Together with Kamleshji, who has studied the subject extensively and speaks with eloquence and fortitude in His devotion to the Lord on this subject, I will continue to post, seeking His blessings and inspiration.

Today is Ganesh Chaturthi and I take this opportunity to post the first in this series on this day with this prayer…that I serve the Lord without reservation acting as best I can on His wishes, and that I open my mind and my heart enough to let Him speak through me as He guides me.  Ganesha Saranam!


Patram pushpam phalam toyam yo me bhaktyaa prayacchati;
Tadaham bhaktyupahritamashnaami prayataatmanah.

If one offers Me with love and devotion of a leaf,
a flower, fruit or water, I will accept it with joy. BG 9.26


Mangal Aaratee

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  Mangal Aaratee Priyaa Preetam kee, Mangal Preeti Reeti Doun kee
Blessed prayer of lover and Beloved,  Blessed  is the ritual of their union

Mangal Kaanti Hansani Dasanan kee, Mangal murlee Beena Dhun kee
Blessed is the light of His swanlike splendour,  Blessed is the sweet rhythm of His flute

Mangal Banik Tribhangee Hari kee, Mangal Sevaa Sab Sahachar kee
Blessed Hari, omnipresent knower of three worlds,  Blessed friend of all devotees

 Mangal Sir Chandrikaa Mukut kee, Mangal Chabi Nainan mein At kee
Blessed is His crown made of Peacock’s feather,  Blessed is His glance enslaving my eyes

Mangal Chataa Phabee ang ang kee, Mangal Gaur Syaam Ras Rang kee
Blessed beauty of ornaments on Shyam’s body, Blessed are  Krishna’s activities

 Mangal Ali kati peyare pat kee, Mangal Chitvan Naagar nat kee
Blessed love of Sweetheart Govinda , Blessed allure of that magical Krishna

Mangal Shobhaa kamal Nain kee, Mangal Maadhuri Mridul Bain kee

Blessed is the beauty of His lotus eyes,  Blessed the soft and sweet voice of His Flute

 Mangal Vrinidaavan Mag At kee, Mangal Kreedan Jamunaa Tat kee
Blessed husband of Vrindavan’s gopis,  Blessed is His play on the river  banks of Jamuna

Mangal Charan Arun Taruvan kee, Mangal Karani Bhagati hari Jan kee
Blessed are His Feet under the Arun tree of the forest ,  Blessed Lord, remover of obstacles

 Mangal Jugal Priyaa Bhavaan kee, Mangal Shree Raadha Jeevan kee
Blessed pair of beautiful charming lovers,  Blessed Hari, who is the life of Radha


To listen to this Aaratee, click on the link…

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Arati (also called  Aarti, ãrti, arathi) is performed in many Hindu temples first thing in the morning, and several times throughout the day, with a final arati in the evening.  Arati is also performed after services such as puja.  The word is derived from the syllables “Aa” which means towards, and “rati” which means the highest love for God.  As the devotee waves the lamp before the deity, the frame of mind should be one of surrender and devotion, a prayer to Divinity to annihilate the ego in the flames of the sacred fire such that complete surrender is achieved.

At the Chinmaya Mission temple where I worship, following the monthly group chanting of the Vishnu Sahasranama, we sing a beautiful Mangal Aaratee to Lord Krishna, which glorifies the love of the Lord for Radha and for the gopis, thus symbolically glorifying the Oneness of the Paramatma and the atma as embodied in the living jiva.  Something about this Aaratee drew me the first time I heard it even though I could not really make out the melody as a small group of devotees sang it one night.  I later found out the language was Hindi, and one afternoon I drove over to the Temple to request Swamiji to sing it for me so I could record it and learn the melody for the monthly chanting.  Like some other bhajans have done, this one took me over and I needed to take it a step further, learning it on my harmonium and memorizing the words.  Still, something was missing…I knew the general gist of the words had to do with auspiciousness and Lord Krishna and Shrimata Radarani, but I wanted more. I wanted to know what all the words meant.

So, I posted photos of my lyric sheet in the Roman transliteration as well as the Hindi devanagari script on my Facebook page, asking my FB friends if anyone there knew Hindi and might be able to help.  One of them did, Shravanji Manyan, and he was kind enough to make an effort which was a great help.  But, there were some lines which he felt he could not quite make out and so there will still some missing lines.  I knew that if the Lord wanted it to happen, He would make it happen.  In the meantime, believing that God helps those who help themselves, I resolved to bring it to a few people at the Mission who I thought might be able to help. 

Before I had to do that, I met a woman who joined into a small yoga group which meets at the Mission.  When our practice was finished for the morning, I pulled it out for my friend, Lakshmi, to ask for her help.  Then a new member of our yoga group, Pushpa, spoke up to say that she had a Masters in Hindi and would be glad to take a look. We started to go over some words, when she offered to take it home.  As a result, she sent me an in depth translation, word for word in a prose like fashion, which gave me a thorough outline of the lyrics. But this was not in the flow of the poetic beauty which graced the Hindi lines. I rewrote the translation to at least try to give it more of a poetic feel and do poetic justice to the author, unknown, who penned these beautiful lines.  Both the lyrics and the melody are hauntingly beautiful, taking you to the banks of the Jamuna River where Radha, the human soul and Krishna, Divinity gracing us in human form,  eternally re-enact the holy union of  His Divinity within the human soul.  There is a certain mystery and wonder to the dance of the lover and the Beloved.  May we all know the glories of this sacred Oneness.


 Samo’ham sarvabhooteshu na me dweshyo’sti na priyah;
Ye bhajanti tu maam bhaktyaa mayi te teshu chaapyaham
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 I look upon all creatures equally,
none are less dear to Me and none more dear.
But those who worship Me with love and affection live in Me,
I come to life in them.” 

BG 9.29


Offered with gratitude to the Lotus Feet of my Guru, Shri Krishna, and my Lord, Shri Krishna,
for His Grace in allowing me to love Him, to serve Him and to be His devotee,
and for gifting me with Swami Siddhanandaji in my life, in so many ways,
and in particular, for singing this beautiful work of art for me to learn,
for Shravanji Manyan and for Pushpaji Gairola,
both of whom generously offered their time and talent in
reviewing the lyrics and translating them for me,
and for the unknown poet who wrote this Aaratee through His Grace.
It is said that the Vedas have no author since
they derive from Divinity itself…so too with this Aaratee.




Jai Guru Omkara


In honor of the Guru, which can only be Him
manifesting in His infinite mercy to remove the illusion of duality.

It may be external, or it may be from within,
opening the chambers of the heart and
unlocking the shackles of the mind such that nothing remains but Him,
everywhere manifesting in everything.  Chitta chora!  Chitta chora!

Steal it all and give me only one thing in return…your holy Presence. 
May I prostrate before you eternally
in gratitude for the Grace you have brought into my life.




Puja Prayer

Like a flower
In complete surrender
I come unto You

Petal by petal
In complete surrender
I come unto You

Like the primrose heralds the spring
In complete surrender
I come unto You

May my actions be right
In complete surrender
I come unto You

May I walk in thy Light
In complete surrender
I come unto You

Earth, my altar… I, my offering
In complete surrender
I come unto You

May my only reward
Be complete surrender
Unto You




The Self manifests externally as Guru when occasion arises;
otherwise He is always within, doing the needful.
From Talks with Ramana Maharshi, 12th June, 1937 Talk 426.

To view Adi Shankaracharya’s Guru Ashtakam… 

The Self is Never Born: Bhagavad-Gita 2.20

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na jaayate mriyate vaa kadaachin-
naayaM bhuutwaa bhavitaa vaa na bhuuyaH |
ajo nityaH shaashwato.ayam puraaNo
na hanyate hanyamaane shariire ||


The Self is never born, nor does It ever die;
never It came into existence nor will It cease to be –
It will not take rebirth, It is unborn, eternal and changeless;
It is timeless and is never killed when the body is killed (BG 2.20)


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Several Gita sources for English transliteration of the sanskrit, for English translation of the words and purport are utilized to create these Holy Gita Inspirations. It includes an eclectic yoga, as it were, among several sources, Swami Chinmayananda, Swamy Gambiranda, Prabhupada, and Swami Sivananda,  each coming from slightly different traditions, fueled by One Spirit.  If you go to the links, you can find additional articles there to enhance your appreciation and understanding of this shloka or verse from the Holy Gita.

Garlands of Devotion-Part 2


patram puspam phalam toyam
yo me bhaktya prayacchati
tad aham bhakty-upahrtam
asnami prayatatmanah

If one offers Me with love and devotion a leaf
a flower, fruit or water, I will accept it. BG 9.26


Garlands of Devotion-Part 2  contains photo excerpts from the video links below showing you
how to make the pendent or ball to hang from the mala or garland…


There are a number of ways to adorn the mala with a pendent. 
The one shown here involves threading the flowers from the side to form a line.


Then, for variety, I add a large peony from my garden. 
If I had more types of flowers in the mala, I might include them in the pendent or ball.



 Then I take the two ends and tie them together, bringing the flowers together tightly to form a ball. 
You need to be careful not to tie too tightly as you can pull the tread clear through the flower and cause it to fall off!



 Tie the ball to an area in the center of the mala. 
Cut off any excess thread which might be sticking out from the mala.


 This is the ball closeup.


You can see how the azaleas are stitched through the side in this view. 
You need to arrange them in a staggered position so that the
flower head is showing in all different directions to make the mala look full.





To view the videos:

Garlands of Devotion-Part 1

 Garlands of Devotion-Part 2

Garlands of Devotion-Part 1


patram puspam phalam toyam
yo me bhaktya prayacchati
tad aham bhakty-upahrtam
asnami prayatatmanah

If one offers Me with love and devotion a leaf
a flower, fruit or water, I will accept it. BG 9.26


Making the garland…    


 When you are making larger malas, it is best to make two sides separately,
as the longer the thread, the easier it is to get tangles.
I am holding one side, and will make the other side in the video. 


Comparing the mala to the deity to make sure that it is long enough to cover the area you want to adorn.


 As you go along, you need to check your work to make sure you are matching the other side of the mala.
These flowers have been stitched from a sidewise angle going through
the side of the petals rather than from the bottom of the flower up. 


 Here, to change the look the flower creates in the mala, a rose, is pierced from the bottom up.


The other side of the mala is slowly taking shape,
with a pattern matching the one for the other side which has already been stitched. 


Before you finish the mala, you need to check each side against the other to see
that you have matched the look for a beautiful mala on each side.


When I make a mala with two sides, I always tie the bottom pieces together first. 
Otherwise, there is a great risk that the weight of the flowers will cause some of them to drop down the thread and right off the mala!!!



To view the videos:

Garlands of Devotion-Part 1

 Garlands of Devotion-Part 2