Archive for the 'Health' Category

different strokes for different folks
18 December 2008

December 17 2008

Here’s an interesting (to put it mildly) follow up on my posting about recognising strokes and taking early action.

This one is from Sriman Jayatirtha Caran prabhu (JTC) in NZ. He’s an expert purohit (priest) and runs the website

This is JTC conducting the pujas for the opening of the new Sri Sri Radha Giridhari temple, Bhakti Bhavan, in Auckland January 2004. As you can see, he’s a man of substance:

Auckland temple opening - Chakra installation

From JTC:

pamho., agtsp., agtsg&g.,

Thought you might like this after reading your thing on strokes, and yeah I did all those tests that you said.

About ago (Friday)(three weeks now) I was doing the Salagram puja and pondered over how it would be nice if we could relieve Jayapataka swami of his stroke effects and restore him to good health much the same way as Vasudev Datta took the suffering of the people, obviouly a nice sentiment but way too much for an aspiring devotee like me rather than Vasudev Datta.

That day I had a cardiologist appointment at Tauranga hospital, and he was really pleased at my progress since the heart attack in March. The ECG was good, blood pressure was 136 over 85, kidney function was good, they did a diabetes check at the hospital also it was 7.9 which they said was good too. Now they are booking an appointment in a TIA clinic and CT scan later in the week to see if there is some blockage in the neck arteries which they say they may be able to fix in that be the case. Meantime I’d still been drinking Fenugreek tea morning noon and night hoping it will help clean the cobwebs out……

Then on the Monday I was out in the Lord’s garden trimming the edges with the whipper snipper and my wife called me and I went to answer and the words were muddled in my head to reply, and I struggled like anything to finally slur the words out, and she noticed a full right side facial droop. We called an ambulance and off I went to hospital where I was admitted for tests.

Read the rest of this entry »

Strokes — S T R
8 December 2008

December 8 2008

Just got this in my emails. In the light of HH Jayapataka Swami’s current predicament it would seem very pertinent:

Please have a look….This 5 min may save a life and lots of tears…..

You could save a life.

stroke help

STROKE: Remember The 1st Three Letters… S.T.R ..
My friend sent this to me and encouraged me to post it and spread the word.
I agree. If everyone can remember something this simple, we could save some

During a party, a friend Ingrid stumbled and took a little fall – she assured everyone that she was fine and just tripped over a brick because of her new shoes. (they offered to call ambulance)

They got her cleaned up and got her a new plate of food – while she appeared a bit shaken up, Ingrid went about enjoying herself the rest of the evening. Ingrid’s husband called later telling everyone that his wife had been taken o the hospital – (at 6:00pm, Ingrid passed away..) She had suffered a troke at the party. Had they known how to identify the signs of a stroke, erhaps Ingrid would be with us today.

Some don’t die. They end up in a helpless, hopeless condition instead. It only takes a minute to read this…


A neurologist says that if he can get to a stroke victim within 3 hours he can totally reverse the effects of a stroke…totally. He said the trick was getting a stroke recognized, diagnosed, and then getting the patient medically cared for within 3 hours, which is tough.


Remember the ‘3’ steps, STR. Read and Learn!
Sometimes symptoms of a stroke are difficult to identify. Unfortunately, the lack of awareness spells disaster.
The stroke victim may suffer severe brain damage when people nearby fail to recognize the symptoms of a stroke.
Now doctors say a bystander can recognize a stroke by asking three simple questions:

S * Ask the individual to SMILE ..

T * = TALK. Ask the person to SPEAK A SIMPLE SENTENCE (Coherently) (eg ‘It is sunny out today’).

R * Ask him or her to RAISE BOTH ARMS .

If he or she has trouble with ANY ONE of these tasks, call the ambulance and describe the symptoms to the dispatcher.

NOTE : Another ‘sign’ of a stroke is:

1. Ask the person to ‘stick’ out their tongue.

2. If the tongue is ‘crooked’, if it goes to one side or the other that is also an indication of a stroke.

A prominent cardiologist says if everyone who gets this e-mail sends it to 10 people; you can bet that at least one life will be saved.

and it could be your own..


If its not jara, its vyadhi
21 November 2008

November 21 2008

Rasarani-priya self portrait November 2008

You expect to have to deal with health issues as you get older, but when they hit you when you are young, its a little more trying. I haven’t been blogging the last few days because my daughter Rasarani-priya has been rather sick and with her mother in Vrndavana, its been a bit of a trial.

She is no stranger to our constant companion, vyadhi. Since the age of three she has had pneumonia six times, and almost every year has serious breathing problems. But this time the symptoms were a little different.

She seemed alright when she returned from Indradyumna Maharaja’s kartika parikrama to Vrndavana, Jaipur and Hrishikesh last month.

train to Hrishikesh


girls in Hrishikesh

Ganga snana with Kamalakshi

Then a week ago she came back from the first winter procession of the Mayapur Deities with 101 deg. fever. I thought it was a 48 hrs. flu and she spent a couple of days in bed. But swelling behind and below her ears, a cracking headache and very sore throat all showed she had in fact contracted mumps.

Nothing to be done as far as treating a virus goes. All you can do is give some paracetamol to keep the fever down a bit and let the body fight it out. Once having been, it never comes again.

Unfortunately after three days her temperature suddenly shot up from 99 to 103, then 104 and then 105. We called the doc. and he prescribed some antibiotics. Not stuff we particularly like, but when its needed, its effective. We also had a blood test done and there results came back the same day. The big T, as in typhoid. I was glad we got the doctor in. I had typhoid once and its no fun. The doctor advised keeping the same treatment but for a longer period.

Read the rest of this entry »

there’s always an exception
10 November 2008

November 9 2008

Today was Ekadasi. I was really happy. My doc. gave me a concession that on ekadasi I could eat potato. So I took full advantage.

Here we are, my favorite food


Cooked in ghee till golden brown

golden browns

What a sight! What delight! What a bite! Sprinkle with salt, pepper and a little fresh lemon juice. Unbeatable.

I could never figure out why they are called french fries though. It seems to be the Americans that prefer that name even if the French aren’t particularly known for them. Nor do the French even call them French fries.

They are of course, chips. The Brits are well known for chips. As a young man growing up in England, there’s no way you could avoid them. I even had a friend whose parents used to own and run the local fish and chip shop

If there is such a thing as a national food in England, its fish and chips (although nowadays thats been replaced by curry and chips-haribol for the Indian influence!) So why aren’t they called Brit chips? Or if they want to keep some French connection, in Australia they should be known as pom de terres?

At any rate, they taste irresitably good. So I had a plate; actually more than one. Well, anyway, the doc. said…

On yer bike! — I’m on a road to nowhere
6 November 2008

November 6 2008

So much for diets. Now here’s the other half of my get healthy program


Nice, huh. Its been sitting in my living room for the last six days, a sight to inspire me to do something I haven’t cared for before – exercise. I haven’t actually used it yet, but it looks good. For Rs. 8,700 it should. And what to speak if I begin to use it!

Now, one might ask, why bother spending so much on a bike that doesn’t go anywhere? Surely it would be more healthy and wise to just get out on a real bike, buzz around Mayapur and stay healthy that way.

Well here are a few good reasons. Some keen wit observed the state of the Indian traffic about 25 years ago and wrote the Indian Road Rules

START: Traveling in India is an almost hallucinatory potion of sound, spectacle and experience. It is frequently heart-rending, sometimes hilarious, mostly exhilarating, always unforgettable – and, when you are on the roads, extremely dangerous. Most Indian road users observe a version of the Highway Code based on an ancient text. These are the rules of the Indian road:

Read the rest of this entry »

Better to die by eating…
6 November 2008

November 6 2008


After all the talk about die-ating, you can be forgiven for thinking today’s header is about my recent attempts to improve my health through diet. That’s a quote from Srila Prabhupada though.

Prabhupada ate carefully,

sp prasadam 

 and whenever he suffered some ill health he responded by adjusting his diet. He had been a medical man in his grhastha days, and he knew the beneficial effects of eating well. But if it came to enforced dieting, his mood was a lot different.

Here’s a couple of snitchs from TD Volume 6 (unpublished) that show his mood towards doctors and their prescribed diets:

December 26 1976 – Bombay

In mid-morning, Srila Prabhupada met with an ayurvedic kaviraja, Mr. Chakrobarty. After a short discussion Srila Prabhupada agreed to go with him to his clinic. Accompanied by myself, he set off by car to the man’s home and then his clinic. It was a long drive to the other side of Bombay.

Read the rest of this entry »

You say aloo, I say goodbye…
3 November 2008

November 3 2008

While I was in Mumbai two weeks ago I visited the Bhaktivedanta Hospital at Mira Road, for a full checkup.


 I haven’t had one for a couple of years, and with a number of Godbrothers and sisters facing various health crisises this year, it seemed prudent to have a look and see what was going on in the innards of this animated carcass.

The BH is more like a temple than a hospital, it is so clean and well ordered. You walk in the door and there is a murti of Srila Prabhupada right in the middle of the ground floor.


Devotees tour the floors with a portable altar of Lord Jagannatha so that the patients can offer flowers and prayers to the Lord. Devotional music and lectures are piped into every room in the building and all the food served is prasadam. These are popular features despite the fact that about 60% of the patients are Muslim or Christian. The hospital has a great reputation and is now having to expand its facilities to cope with the demand.

portable altar

They also run a free meal for schools program, serving over 40,000 plates of prasadam a day to Mumbai’s school kids.

Along with first class medical care the devotees also maintain an all-important Spiritual Care dept. so any devotees going in get very well cared for in all respects.

As for me, all in all things are not so bad, a little hypoglycemia, a little extra bad cholesterol, and a bit of osteoarthritis setting in.

Could be worse, and the doc’s advice was that it can all be controlled by diet and exercise.  So this a confirmation of my own diagnosis that I am now going to have to do the two things I have avoided most of my life.

Srila Prabhupada didn’t like enforced diets either, but more about that in a moment.

 The BH has a good ayur-vedic doctor in residence, Nirmal Candra prabhu, and I was fortunate he was on duty when I visited. After hearing my symptoms he analysed me as a pitta constitution. Pitta is particularly centered in the pancreas and an excess of it is what is causing my hypoglycemia (too much production of insulin, which causes the blood sugar level to drop too far down resulting in fainting among other things). Pitta of course is fire. That’s me, too much fire in the body.

 [TD5] November 3, 1976 – Vrndavana

As Prabhupada was walking back into the house from the garden after his noon massage today, he suddenly reached out and took hold of my hand. He shook his head and said with a sympathetic smile, “Too hot!” and then went in to bathe. This is the second time he has done this. It’s obvious that he doesn’t feel that it’s a good thing, but I am not sure what he means by it–I don’t know if he means it affects him adversely or me adversely–and there seems little I can do about my bodily constitution. I am unfortunately largely in the mode of passion, and I guess that my body being overheated must be a symptom of that. But since Prabhupada hasn’t given me any advice how to rectify this or even that I should, or indicated that it is too much of an inconvenience (for either of us), I guess I have to live with it as best I can.

So the days of blissful youthful ignorance are at an end. I can do something about my constitution and I intend to.

Dr. Nirmal Candra gave me a few herbs, and also a diet. This is the crunch–one of the items I have to avoid is potato!! Arghh! The king of vegies, I don’t know how I will live without it. Fried, boiled, baked, mashed, you name it, potato has been one of my life-long love affairs.

 potato eyes

I had actually been told many years ago in 1986 by Damodara Prasada Sastri, the Kaviraja from Calcutta who had treated Srila Prabhupada in his final two weeks, that I should not take potatoes, but it was an impossible-to-follow advice.

This is the first time since then that I have been advised in the same way. I didn’t follow Shastri’s advice because he simply told me, but didn’t explain why. But Nirmal Candra explained with a diagram how the stomach is the center for kapha, the pancreas is the center for pitta, and the colon is the center for vata. An imbalance in these three centers means disease of various kinds in the other organs of the body.

So that’s it. Tonight I said farewell to two of my favorite preparations.  One of our householders stands opposite the Samadi with a glass box perched on a rickshaw. It is filled with golf ball sized crispy brown puris, called pushkas.


 I first came across them while traveling with Srila Prabhupada:

Read the rest of this entry »

In Australia you are reducing?
9 October 2008

October 9 2008

Speaking of diets, in March of 1977 I left Srila Prabhupada’s party and returned to Australia. Prabhupada made me the GBC there the following month.

Sometime in late April I came down with malaria. It was a reoccurrence of a couple of bouts I had in India in 1976. The medicine I had been given there only suppressed the malaria bug but didn’t flush it out of my system. So I spent five days in the Adelaide tropical diseases hospital with a cracking headache and no appetite. When I came out I was noticeably thinner.

In late May all the GBCs were called to Vrndavana. Srila Prabhupada’s condition had worsened and he had rushed back there from Rishikesh. He wrote his Will on May 23 and the GBCs were told to ask any questions they had and get them clarified. I was out on traveling sankirtana in Australia and didn’t get the message until a few days later.

I immediately flew to Delhi and arrived in Vrndavana on May 29. By that time the immediate crisis had passed and Srila Prabhupada seemed to improve. Some of the GBCs were already leaving by the time I arrived at Krishna Balarama Mandir. Having spent so much money to get there, and naturally keen to have His Divine Grace’s personal association again after two months absence, I decided to remain in Vrndavana for two weeks.

By that time Prabhupada’s daily routine had completely changed from when I was on the party. He needed 24 hour assistance and someone had to be with him at all times. Physically he was drastically debilitated and spent most of the time lying down.

Vrndavana 1977

Tamal Krishna Goswami, Upendra prabhu and Ksira-chora Gopinath (who took sannyasa a few days after I arrived and became Bhakti Charu Swami) made a roster, and I was assigned a two hour afternoon spot.

 The first day there then I went up onto the back section of the roof where Srila Prabhupada was lying down on a cot resting. When I came by his side Prabhupada glanced over at me.

“In Australia you are reducing?” he asked.

I missed the meaning. “Reducing Srila Prabhupada?”

“Yes, in Australia you are reducing?” he repeated.

Then I understood. He saw that I was noticeably thinner since I had left his party. Despite his own condition he was immediately concerned about my health.

“Oh, yes. I had a bout of malaria recently,” I explained, “But I am also eating less as well.” I added the last bit because I thought he would be pleased to hear that I was cutting down on my eating.

For good reason. On November 27, 1976 on this very same spot, I had made the biggest mistake of my life:

Read the rest of this entry »

On a die-ate
7 October 2008

October 7 2008

It happens in middle age. The signs of decline, loss of energy, failing eyesight and hearing, inefficient metabolism, and increasing waist line even though you’re not eating more than usual.

Since my mid-50s I have been putting on a bit of weight

a little over-weight

so I have decided its time to do a bit of dieting. Not for appearance but for health. I just had my horoscope done and my astrologer told me that from my 58th year for four years I can expect poor health. That begins next month. He advised diet and exercise to help offset the adverse effects.

I am one of those people who have been fortunate enough to never really experience poor health. At least not serious bad health. I have a robust constitution and apart from some specific diseases-malaria, typhoid-I rarely get colds, headaches, or suffer much physical difficulty.

So I have never paid much attention to physical maintenance. I am generally pretty lazy and I hate exercise.  But all the signs are pointing to a new era in personal health care.

It all started when I  hit my fifties. In 2001-02 I had some problems with pronounced muscle ache and tiredness. It was like having a constant ‘flu but without the cold. Finally I went to the doctor. He was young guy and new out of college. He convinced himself I was suffering from depression and wanted to give me some magic pills to feel better. No way!

 I knew it was a physical problem and I insisted on a blood test. The results came back and showed a severe depletion of B12, commonly called pernicious anaemia (although its not technically anaemia). Normal levels should be 140 but mine was down to 41, so I had to have ten booster shots to bring it back up. I was also supposed to have a booster every three months but I haven’t bothered. (Maybe I should get a check!) 

I also started eating a couple of spoonfuls of granulated bee pollen a day which is rich in B12.

 granulated bee pollen

It seems this type of anaemia is a common problem with vegetarians because the main source of B12 is animal. Anyway the shots immediately improved things and all the aches went away and I felt my normal energy levels return.  

I also had problems due to a sluggish liver. I had a spell a few years back when I would fall asleep immediately after eating something, not even a meal, and I had to literally force myself to stay awake. It was a bit disconcerting to start nodding out even while I was in the middle of a conversation. Sometimes I would just feel like curling up on the floor and having a snooze.  I couldn’t concentrate properly, my brain responded about as fast as a dead slug and I felt tired alot of the time.

It wasn’t due to a lack of sleep. Something wasn’t working properly and finally I went to an Ayurvedic doctor in Sydney.  He gave me a liver cleanser/tonic and a specific diet. After a month I had improved about 80%.

Srila Prabhupada advised us to keep up our health so that we can keep doing our service. He set the example. He took not less than 3-4 hours a day just for maintaining his body.

Wherever he was in the world, he would always go for a one hour morning walk


and every day around noon he would have a one and half hours full body massage

November 1976 Vrindavana

and another 1/2 – 1 hour massage in the evening. Apart from that, he also regularly adjusted his diet in response to his bodily needs. Had he not done this, its very doubtful that he could have travelled all over the world for 11 years while writing, lecturing, corresponding and constantly meeting with anyone who could help with his mission.

Now with the astrologer’s warning I have decided its time to officially go on a diet. Or die-ate. Tyaga-bhoga. Its not so hard. No, really. Honestly.

Read the rest of this entry »

Pleasure is a misconception
4 October 2008

October 4 2008

Health is always a topic. If you have a material body, jara and vyadhi are part and parcel.

 I just got this letter from my godbrother Dhruva Maharaja prabhu (who by the way runs an excellent website called where you can download heaps of wonderful audio stuff, e-books etc.)

 “A few years ago doctors prescribed some high blood pressure medicine, which I’ve been taking regularly. Although my numbers are now okay, there’s a substance in blood called triglycerides – and mine are high.

“The allopathic remedy for this is nasty – I’ve tried it and it doesn’t suit me. I’ve also tried garlic pills, but they didn’t do much. Now the doctor is saying either take the allopathic or the other remedy – fish oil….yuukkk!

“You’re the walking, talking, emailing database for Srila Prabhupada pastimes… I’m wondering if there’s some instance you can refer to that will answer the question what to do in this case?”


 I can’t recall much that Srila Prabhupada said about treating high blood pressure. He did have continual problems with it while I was his servant:

[TD 1] December 21st, 1975- Bombay

There was no morning walk today. Missing Prabhupada on the beach, Dr. Patel arrived at his apartment with his son. He took a cardiograph reading and gave Prabhupada some pills. His diagnosis is high blood pressure.
Prabhupada rested. He didn’t take breakfast, and then ate only a morsel at lunch, complaining of dizziness from the medicine. He remarked that modern drugs are medicines for the demons. Prabhupada rarely goes to a doctor, although if by some arrangement one comes to him, he doesn’t refuse their help. Disease has to be treated, of course, but as far as he is concerned, chanting Hare Krsna is the best cure.
In the evening he felt better and ate some guava, three parathas, and a sabji Harikesa cooked for him.
As part of his cure Prabhupada told us that for at least one week he wants to be free of appointments and visitors. Harikesa is doubtful that we will be able to enforce this rule. Prabhupada is too enthusiastic to stop preaching and too kind to turn away unexpected visitors.”

[TD 4] September 11th, 1976 – Sri Vrndavana-dhama

Prabhupada’s health is not very good. He has been suffering from high blood pressure for several days, and today he has toothache. Indeed, he seems to be suffering a general decline in health and strength. At this time last year he was striding strongly down the road every morning for at least one hour and seemed quite full of vigor. Now he rarely takes such walks.

September 12th, 1976

Srila Prabhupada’s Srimad-Bhagavatam class was shorter than usual. He is still suffering from high blood pressure and speaking gives him a headache.

September 13th, 1976

Hansaduta Maharaja has asked Srila Prabhupada if he can record him singing some bhajanas. He wants to make a record for sankirtana distribution. Prabhupada has agreed, despite the fact that he has great difficulty speaking very much at the moment due to his high blood pressure. So at about 6:00 a.m. this morning, Hansaduta set up some simple recording equipment in Srila Prabhupada’s bedroom. His Divine Grace played the harmonium and recorded Hari Hari Biphale. Harikesa Swami accompanied him on mrdanga and I played the karatalas.

* * *

Prabhupada’s classes are becoming noticeably shorter. His high blood pressure makes it a strain for him to speak for an extended period. Still, long or short, his speaking is imbued with the same depth and power, and his realizations illuminate the text and the hearts of the devotees.

September 17th, 1976

Srila Prabhupada told Hansaduta Swami that this morning’s recording session would be the last. Prabhupada wants to oblige Hansaduta, but he said the singing is too much strain because of his high blood pressure.

September 18th, 1976

Srila Prabhupada is not feeling well again and could hardly speak this morning due to his high blood pressure, which is affecting his head and giving him massive headaches. He gave only a short class and afterwards, in his room, he said he will stop public lecturing for a while as it is a great strain.

September 19th, 1976

Srila Prabhupada didn’t give a class this morning. He rested until 9 a.m. and then followed his usual routine for the rest of the day.
His high blood pressure has become such a problem that after giving his usual evening darsana in the temple, he sat in his room and had me massage his head and temples for twenty minutes with Brahmi oil. After this, I soaked a new gamcha in cold water, folded it into a strip about six inches wide, and Prabhupada then sat with it draped over his head for about an hour. The treatment seemed to give him some relief.

September 30th, 1976

I mentioned to Tamopaha that Prabhupada was having high blood pressure problems and he suggested that Prabhupada take the pulp from the cactus-like aloe vera plant, a common treatment for heart complaints in Hawaii. He said it helps clear the arteries and is also excellent when applied externally, for curing burns and skin ailments. I discussed it with Srila Prabhupada and he agreed to try it. Accordingly, I have located some plants growing in a nearby asrama and it is being added to his diet.

October 1st, 1976

At 7:00 p.m. as arati begins, Prabhupada returns to his quarters. Most evenings he does not talk much with anyone because his high blood pressure is persistent and he gets a big headache almost as soon as he talks. Apart from his managers, only Bhagatji comes in the late evening. He chats with Prabhupada from about 8:30 p.m. until Prabhupada takes his milk and retires.


 You can see from this that his blood pressure problem was persistent. He did try the aloe vera remedy but to not much effect:

[TD 5] October 9th 1976 – Aligarh (at the house of Mr. Saigal)

Aligarh reception

Aligarh reception, Mr. Saigal at far right — (see photo gallery for more Aligarh photos)

Surendra Saigal came in to Prabhupada’s room to find out what he wanted for breakfast. Prabhupada mentioned apples and milk. Since Mr. Saigal had made some suggestions to Srila Prabhupada for helping with his health, I asked him if he could get some ghrita-kumari, aloe vera. Arjuna and Tamopaha prabhus suggested it last week as a good remedy for high blood pressure and for cleaning the arteries. Mr. Saigal happily informed us that he had it growing in his garden. His wife takes it regularly, stuffed in chapatis or parathas, and finds it quite efficacious for relieving pains in her knees. Mr. Saigal though, suggested that garlic was the best for relieving high blood pressure.
Prabhupada wrinkled his nose and grimaced slightly. “Garlic.”
Mr. Saigal smiled at his reaction. “Garlic. You don’t want it,” and they laughed together.
“Garlic, onions, prohibited,” Prabhupada told him.
So it was settled that his wife would cook aloe vera chapatis for breakfast. Prabhupada asked Gaurasundara prabhu if he knew of it, and he confirmed they had it in Hawaii. He added that it can be used externally for skin diseases, burns, and cuts.
As Mr. Saigal left the room to prepare for breakfast, Prabhupada concluded, “Body is simply troublesome.”

 Srila Prabhupada did say a lot of things about devotees taking care of their health.

  Read the rest of this entry »

14 September 2008

September 14 2008 — On Snuffing it

I just got this question from Yadunandan prabhu of the Bhaktivedanta College in Belgium:

“While visiting some devotees in the UK, one of them asked me a question about Srila Prabhupada’s snuff box. This devotee was somewhat puzzled thinking that Srila Prabhupada’s snuff was made of tobacco. I did a little research on the folio and looked into the dictionary to answer accurately.

 “There are two options I see from my little research:

1. Srila Prabhupada was using some type of medicine as snuff.

2. Srila Prabhupada was using tobacco snuff as medicine for his blood pressure and to keep him able to perform his translation work at night.

As you were and are so close to Srila Prabhupada, can you please give some light on this matter so that my answer can be more accurate?”

Answer : Snuff is a tobacco derivative in fine powder form. This is the type that Srila Prabhupada was using.

snuff  Here’s a general definition and history that I got from the internet:

Read the rest of this entry »

Footer Line
Home  |  Blog  |  Books  |  Audio  |  Video  |   Photos  |  Links  |  Contact