Saturday, May 19, 2018

vanaprastha vrata

so, i'll be taking some time off from "life" to study Caitanya Caritamrta and other books concerning Lord Caitanya...  i made this video to describe what i have been doing for the last eleven years, what i plan on doing wile i'm away, and why i've decided to retire to the forest for a year.

For the last eleven years I have been doing a lot of traveling… non-stop traveling actually.  Spanning across 8 different countries on 4 different continents, I haven’t spent more than a few months in one place.

I’ve hiked breathtakingly beautiful trails, witnessed many vibrant cultures…  I’ve had the opportunity to gain a glimpse into how people have lived hundreds of years ago all over the world.  I’ve seen things that made me realize that much of what I learned in school was not an accurate representation of reality.  I’ve met new friends…  new families…  I’ve experienced things that cannot be understood by reading books, seeing photos or watching videos.

I’ve seen modern man struggling to build empires, and I’ve seen nature effortlessly tear them down; and I have also seen ancient civilizations still standing after thousands of years.

I’ve observed that we unconsciously waste our resources without giving a thought to where they came from, how long they will last, or what the effect of their absence will be.

I’ve come to understand that no matter how much we think we are independent, there are so many things that we depend upon at every second…   and I’ve come to see just how fragile we are and that our lifestyles are completely unsustainable.

I have noticed that we have forgotten that our necessities come from the ground, not from the store, and that education is not limited to what we heard in some brick building when we were kids.   Having forgotten this, we live our lives thinking that we are doing the responsible thing for our family, friends and society, but we are just becoming numb to reality.

I’ve experienced that just because someone understands the value of something, it doesn’t mean that they actually appreciate it, and I’ve observed that people give more importance to being perceived as being right than they do to doing the right thing.

I’ve seen that we are willing to fight tooth and nail over things we have absolutely no control over and that are ultimately meaningless, yet we fail to fight for the things that are actually beneficial to us.

While I have been traveling for these eleven years, I have been studying an ancient Vedic scripture called the Bhagavat Purana.  The eighteen thousand Sanskrit verses of this volume of books are aimed toward eliminating the distracted nature of man and reawakening the eternal nature of the soul.

It explains that in this world, which is limited by time, there is good and bad…  but that there is another existence, which is beyond this duality, and is eternal.

By understanding and practicing spiritual science, one can begin to experience the eternal realm even while existing in this temporary world by following the process of sanatana-dharma.  This practice gradually re-directs our consciousness from self-centric to God-centric.

Now, I realize that many of the people I know are not comfortable with the idea of “God” and some don’t like to even hear that word.   Others have a very specific and exclusive concept of God that leads them to believe that the God I’m talking about is somehow different from theirs, thus making me a blasphemous deviant who is on the fast track to hell…

Which brings us to the most important thing that I have learned during my travels…

The thing that I have observed that has had the biggest impact on me is that no matter where I go, and what kind of people I am with, the thing that is holding each of us back from our goals, whatever those goals might be, is distraction.

Distraction is a dream killer and it is destroying our way of life.

We are too busy proving that everyone else’s way is wrong that we fail to follow our own path…

We don’t acknowledge that the people we are arguing with are on the same journey that we are, so instead of cooperating with one another and making progress together, we hold each other back by engaging in useless banter…  and although sometimes we feel like we are making progress by adjusting someone’s viewpoint to coincide with our own, we are actually just pulling one another away from attaining our goals.

In this way, we remain in a stagnant state while considering that we are doing quite well.

We are simply wasting time and energy.

There are many things throughout the day that we never fail to do…  our morning routines, bodily maintenance such as eating and exercise, our jobs (even if done reluctantly)…  we have our recreational and entertainment quotas (our hobbies, favorite shows to watch, etc.)…  but most people, although quite regulated with these things, which they consider to be “basic human necessities”, do not  regularly spend time cultivating what they claim their values are, or what their purpose in life is.  We hear wonderful conversations about what is most important in life, but then we observe in most cases that these ideals are only regarded in a theoretical sense and not strived for in any practical or tangible way.

The world we live in is designed to keep us distracted at all costs, and the more we struggle to break from the mold, the more opposition we face.

Therefore, we have to be diligent if we wish to make any real progress.

We have to assess our values and determine if we are giving ourselves enough time and energy to properly cultivate them.

If we wish to progress, we must constantly evaluate how we spend our efforts and make the necessary adjustments that will facilitate our desired growth.

For that reason, I have decided to make some changes…  Although my life has already become fairly simplified over the last decade, I have maintained seasonal jobs in order to enable my traveling and thus my focus had been split.

Although I again plan to make yearly pilgrimages to India and continue my volunteer work there in the future, I am going to take a year off of traveling and seasonal work to study another volume of books that I have been wanting to study for a couple of decades now.

For that year, I will be staying in a small cottage that I build in the side of a mountain in rural Kentucky.  I purposely chose to spend this time without electricity or modern amenities in order to take my simple living to the next level and allow myself to give the proper focus to studying scriptures and appreciating the divine presence in nature.

Even while building this hobbit house, 90% of which is made from natural materials harvested from the property that it sits on, I got a deeper understanding of the value of working with our hands and using raw materials to process our necessities rather than numbly and unawarely following the philosophy of “in commerce we trust”.

Everyone has something that they consider is important in life that they feel they don’t have the time to pursue…  we owe it to ourselves to at least try to give ourselves the time and space (even if only five minutes per day to start), to strive to achieve those goals...  otherwise one day we will realize that we have gotten old and we spent our entire lives on autopilot to a destination we didn’t even want to visit in the first place.

Anyway, for the year that I’m away, I will not be using anything electric or gas powered, so if you would like to contact me, please feel encouraged to write me a letter and send it to:

carucandra klupp
2935 HWY 711
West Liberty, KY 41472

I wish you all success in your spiritual endeavors.

Hari, Hari!

Sunday, May 14, 2017

KRSNA in the comic book industry

below is an earlier draft of the article appearing in the current Back to Godhead Magazine for those who might be interested in more details of the story.

­­Many of the most popular and top grossing films these days are based on comic books and it is no surprise that Krsna has appeared in these films in various ways.

The popularity of this genre is not limited to movies.  From action figures, to clothing, to Halloween costumes, to school supplies, to limited edition breakfast cereals, we see the market saturated with super hero paraphernalia.  And it is not just kids who are hooked on these costumed crusaders of truth and justice.  Adults also admire the positive messages that pervade these stories and are inspired to support or perhaps even become real life heroes who dedicate their lives to making the world a better place.

The 2012 release of Marvel’s “The Avengers”, which raked in 1.5 billion dollars worldwide, making it number five in the top grossing films of all time, shows Dr. Bruce Banner (the incredible Hulk) treating a patient in a small cottage in the outskirts of Kolkata, India.  Above Dr. Banner’s shoulder (as if representing the good conscience) while he is washing his hands, is a painting of Makan-chor Krsna stealing butter from a clay pot (pictured right).

In December, 2015, the mention of Krsna’s name in the trailer for “X-Men Apocalypse” sparked quite the controversy, inspiring many enraged individuals led by Hindu statesman Rajan Zed to petition against what they considered to be a misrepresentation of their culture.  Many media outlets including Time magazine online covered this story and the film’s director Brian Singer agreed to remove Krsna’s name from both the trailer and the movie itself.

The reason for the abovementioned protest was that Krsna’s name was uttered by a blue skinned villain hell-bent on destroying the world while claiming to be an incarnation of God.  While it is understandable that we would not want to equate God with an evil homicidal maniac, the context of this utterance reveals that the villain (like most evil-minded entities) was merely claiming to be God, and Krsna was just one of the names that he mentioned while doing so.  The list of names Apocalypse claimed to be known as also included Ra and Yahweh, covering the accepted names of the Egyptian and Judeo-Christian deities as well.  Although the movie trailer in question received over 51 million views on youtube, moviegoers did not hear Krsna’s name in the actual movie due to the petitioning of concerned citizens.

Others, of course, assert that since it is beneficial to hear Krsna’s name under any circumstance, be it indirectly, in jest, neglectfully, etc., that it would have been much more beneficial to allow the name to remain in the movie and consider the protest to be a disservice.

With the popularity of the comic book genre on the rise and the current world trend in producing multi-cultural presentations, we also find works like Stan Lee’s “Chakra, the invincible”, which, along with it’s comic book series and 2013 animated Television film, is also set to release a live-action Bollywood movie.  In this particular franchise, a young Indian boy named Raju wears a special suit that allows him to access the chakras in his body so that he can perform magnificent feats such as levitating objects, creating force-fields and shooting energy blasts.  With these powers, Raju is able to keep the streets of Mumbai safe from criminals, unfortunate lab experiments gone awry, and bhogi yogi’s.

“Chakra, the invincible” has various Vedic cultural references and Graphic India, the company who produces it, is also responsible for two other titles that are more specific to, and focused on Krsna.

The first is Grant Morrison’s “18 days”, which is a series that tells the story of the battle of Kuruksetra.  Although the author took some liberties such as implementing modern tech and abbreviated names, this series is a big step up from the large hard bound book of the same name produced in 2010 where Krsna was depicted as a blonde haired, pointy eared elf, wearing red garments.  The newer installment of 18 days (2015-current) is a much more accurate portrayal of the events in the Mahabharata.

Grant Morrison is also set to release a series entitled “Avatarex” which is meant to be read as Avatar-X with the “X” being a roman numeral ten, referring to Lord Vishnu’s tenth incarnation, Kalki.  In the preview to this series, Lord Kalki is illustrated as being produced in some techno-lab where the previous nine avatars have already been harvested from their shattered glass capsules.  As He is awoken, the narrator (a space satellite called Shamballa) explains His purpose of destroying the world at the end of Kali-yuga, but then Shamballa begins calling Avatarex too proud and arrogant, claiming that He must change His attitude.  As only the preview of this book is available so far, I am not sure where Grant Morrison is going with this one, but it seems that he will take similar liberties as those he took with 18 days, and perhaps even change the story in this case.

The reason why it is difficult to interject an all-powerful being like Krsna into mainstream storytelling is that the common man wants to be able to relate to the heroes of said stories.  Many comic book authors claim that a hero has to have some sort of imperfection or weakness so that his story is more believable and more interesting.  Their theory is that people will accept that a boy can climb walls and shoot webs from his wrists, but only if we humanize him by burdening him with tedious school work and girl troubles.  The common man does not want to read a story about someone who is completely perfect because he knows that it is unattainable.

From Grant Morrison's AVATAREX
Many times when a “god” is introduced in comic books, he is written off as merely a powerful alien, but with certain flaws or limitations.  In that regard, it may be a while before we see a fully accurate portrayal of the Vedic stories we know and love hitting big in the mainstream.

This, of course, does not mean that Krsna’s pastimes cannot be accurately depicted in comic books without imposing imperfections on Him or equating Him with an alien or mythological character in order to accumulate an expansive fan base.

In this iron age of Kali-yuga where men care more about politics, sports and self-aggrandizement than they do God-consciousness, it is no surprise that comic books about costumed vigilantes fighting alien forces will be more popular than their spiritual counterparts.  But when it comes to transcendence, popularity does not determine value.

For that reason, I have decided to produce graphic novels that allow readers to experience the culturally rich stories of the Vedas without altering their valuable messages.  The first book that I published tells the story of Lord Narasimhadeva from the Seventh Canto of the Srimad Bhagavatam in 74 full-color pages with beautiful illustrations by Bhakta George Marnero of Bulgaria.

Throughout the last two decades I have told the story of Lord Narasimha at least a hundred times to various people.  From curious customers where I used to work, to family members, to budding spiritual seekers, every one of them very emphatically expressed their appreciation of the poetic justice that this ultimate story of good versus evil conveys.  Many of these eager listeners had me tell the story multiple times so that they could get the details right when they retold it to their friends.

This particular story is often prompted when someone sees one of the famous illustrations of Lord Narasimhadeva disemboweling the demon Hiranyakasipu who tried to kill his saintly son.  Due to the graphic nature of this pastime, this story is often acted out in a dramatic play or skit, which is perhaps the reason why most devotees have experienced the story in this way rather than by reading it in a book or hearing it in a class.

In order to make this highly appreciated and morally rich pastime more accessible to people of all backgrounds, I have carefully adapted it to a graphic novel while preserving the spiritual message conveyed in the Srimad Bhagavatam.

A preview of this book can be viewed at, and if this first publication is well received, I will gladly continue producing other stories from the Srimad Bhagavatam in this format.  The next graphic novel I plan to write will tell the story of Lord Varahadeva.  There is virtually no end to the amount of Vaisnava stories that can be produced in this medium and I hope to continue making them available to a much wider audience.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

divide and conquer

One of the most effective ways of preventing a group of people from succeeding in whatever it is they are striving to accomplish is to split them up by getting them to disagree on something.

A group’s strength lies in what they have in common.  The concept of “strength in numbers” only works if said numbers are working together.  Their common unity binds them together and makes them powerful while their weakness is what they do not have in common.

Even the most dynamic group will fall to pieces as soon as the individuals are more focused on their differences than their common goal.

This concept of divide and conquer has been utilized since before anyone can remember and due to its efficiency, it is the standard strategy employed in this world to keep us week and subordinate.  It is the killer of all revolutions.

Fortunately for us spiritual revolutionaries, this technique has no effect on us…  or does it?

The funny thing about spirituality is that, being transcendental to all things material, it is difficult to define in material terms.  Spirituality is a state of consciousness that cannot be externally observed because the determining factor that deems something either spiritual or material is not what is done, but the motivation behind why it is done.

Thus, a thing or an action cannot be considered inherently spiritual without considering the state of consciousness of an individual interacting with it.

Watercolour by Edgar Bundy, 1911

Therefore, everyone in this world is a unique mixture of materialist and spiritualist.  Our consciousness fluctuates between self-centric and God-centric.  Anyone who is honest will admit that they are not one hundred percent God-centric.

So even if we are highly advanced spiritualists, there is still the tendency for us to be subjected to and (temporarily) destroyed by the concept of “divide and conquer” when we lose focus of our true mission.

The reason i bring this up is because currently our “spiritual revolution” is being hampered by this unfortunate phenomenon.  Instead of working together we have started campaigning against one another over trivial matters that have nothing to do with spiritual principles.  We are caught up on details and it is dividing us.

Whether our disagreements are over dietary choices, wardrobe preferences, the details of our origin, the importance of public opinion, the concept of authority, who sits where, or any other such matter, none of these issues will make or break our ultimate goal of love of God.  We simply look like fools.

The spiritual movement is not weak because we haven’t resolved these issues…  it is weak because we are giving these material issues more importance than they deserve and we are not putting enough focus on the process of spirituality itself.

Material things or activities cannot hinder true spirituality.  The only thing that hinders a spiritual movement is our own materialistic consciousness.

When we put our focus on redirecting our consciousness then nothing can stop us.  But if we remain focused on petty details then noting can help us.

Let’s get back in the game, shall we?