Monday, November 20, 2017

From Farm To Table

[Radha-Krishna]“In the Skanda Purana there is the following description of the result of seeing aratrika (worship) of the Deity: ‘If someone sees the face of the Lord while aratrika is going on, he can be relieved of all sinful reactions coming from many, many thousands and millions of years past. He is even excused from the killing of a brahmana or similar prohibited activities.’” (The Nectar of Devotion, Ch 9)

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Friend1: I know you don’t like me complaining about social media.

Friend2: The vehicle itself or the people using it?

Friend1: The latter.

Friend2: You know I love it when you complain about anything. What is it this time?

Friend1: The pictures of food.

Friend2: Seriously? If people couldn’t post pictures of that social media sites would go out of business.

Friend1: I should be more specific. Produce.

Friend2: Like what you buy at the supermarket?

Friend1: Very good you mentioned that. It relates to my complaint. These are pictures of plants grown in the garden.

Friend2: Like eggplant, spinach and such?

Friend1: Tomatoes, too.

Friend2: Okay. And you don’t like this?

Friend1: I don’t understand why someone would think a tomato is worthy of public mention.

Friend2: It’s not just any tomato. They grew it in their garden. They saw the tomato when it was just a seed. It’s the miracle of life.

Friend1: They love putting hash-tags like, “From Farm To Table.”

Friend2: That’s pretty good.

Friend1: My complaint is that have these people not been to a supermarket? There is plenty of produce there. Where do they think the cucumbers, peppers, apples and bananas come from?

Friend2: Those are mass produced, though. They are grown far away sometimes.

[produce]Friend1: It’s the same miracle of life. Why not post pictures of the produce aisle?

Friend2: These are good questions. There is a difference when you witness something with your own eyes. You appreciate it more. It’s like when people witness the birth of a child. It’s life-changing.

Friend1: I guess you’re right.

Friend2: This is all the more reason to practice bhakti-yoga in the association of others.

Friend1: You mean like visiting the temple?

Friend2: Sure, but could also be at someone’s house. The atmosphere is what matters. Think about it. You hear this and that about God. You hear people explaining His glories and how everything we see around us is the product of intelligence. Nothing happens by chance, especially not something amazing like the planets, the sun, nature, and the seasons.

Friend1: True.

[Radha-Krishna]Friend2: Chanting together, in sankirtana, brings a direct experience of the Divine: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. The deity is there for this reason, too. It is the mercy of Bhagavan to appear in a statue. He does not have to do that. If someone experiences God firsthand, they will appreciate Him more. Increased appreciation hopefully increases the appetite for participation, and if that participation continues up until the time of death then liberation is guaranteed.

In Closing:

Of produce from garden proud,

Liberty to post online allowed.

That like from farm to table coming,

Saw it as seed, full plant becoming.

But same proof previously there,

Just now in new way aware.

Similar with deity in temple meeting,

Benefit just from arati greeting.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

If Your Child Has Become Wealthy Have You Succeeded

[Rama and Lakshmana with Vishvamitra]“They pray to God to grant them blessings: ‘May You garner fame and return victorious. May You not lose a single hair while bathing.’” (Janaki Mangala, 29)

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Friend1: When you see your kid for the first time, right after birth, there are some pretty heavy feelings.

Friend2: Such as?

Friend1: Protection. You want to do everything you can to protect the child. Keep them away from harm. Let them not suffer, at all.

Friend2: That is completely natural. I know you don’t like me going off on tangents, but your sentiment reminds me of how people in Ayodhya felt a long time back.

Friend1: Towards their children?

Friend2: That’s the thing, these were two sons to the king, Dasharatha. Rama and Lakshmana were called away on duty.

Friend1: You make it sound like they were in the military or something. You know that is a form of punishment today; to straighten out kids that are troublemakers.

[Rama and Lakshmana with Vishvamitra]Friend2: The brothers were trained in the military arts. Since Rama is an incarnation of God, He exhibited amazing ability at a young age. That is why the sage Vishvamitra called on them. He and other sages living in the forest were being harassed by Nishacharas. These are man-eating night-rangers. Anyway, Lakshmana came along because he always followed Rama. When the two boys were leaving, people in the town prayed for their safety.

Friend1: Really?

Friend2: Just imagine that. On one side you had Vishvamitra who was employing them as something like bodyguards. On the other side the people did not pay attention to that. They prayed that not even a hair on their heads would be harmed.

Friend1: I guess this isn’t that much of a tangent. What is wrong in thinking that way for the children?

Friend2: Who said it was wrong?

Friend1: I know that you’re supposed to liberate the dependents from the cycle of birth and death. I’m assuming that spoiling them isn’t going to cut it.

Friend2: Well, you mentioned that you didn’t want the child to suffer. The greatest suffering is repeated birth and death. That is what liberation solves.

Friend1: Okay, that is in the long-term, but what about right now? You understand that this sentiment is what drives parents to push their children into high-paying fields. They want the child to be self-sufficient in adulthood, not having to worry about money.

Friend2: I am well aware.

Friend1: Is that misguided?

Friend2: Not at all. You would rather children grow up to be beggars?

Friend1: But money isn’t everything.

Friend2: Of course not.

Friend1: You are confusing me.

Friend2: Listen, just don’t think that once your child gets a good job and settles down that the work is complete. There is much further to go. Character is the most important. Look at Hiranyakashipu and Ravana. They were wealthy and powerful kings. Would you want your children growing up to be like them?

Friend1: Absolutely not.

Friend2: But they didn’t have to worry about money. They had plenty of food to eat. No one else had to take care of them.

Friend1: They lost everything in the end.

[Narasimhadeva with Prahlada]Friend2: Exactly. The material nature dictates that what goes up must come down. Gains are paired with losses. Better to work for a good character, which comes automatically through practicing devotional service, bhakti-yoga. There is the special benediction of receiving assistance directly from God. Hiranyakashipu had a son named Prahlada. The boy was not interested in gathering material power. He did not care about ruling a kingdom. That ended up being his future anyway, but his character remained the same. By surrendering fully to Krishna the boy did not lack anything. Meanwhile, for the father there was a great and tragic reversal of fortune.

In Closing:

Great job as adult to get,

In financial security set.

Work of parent properly done,

Since having destitution none?

Character concern more pressing,

Needs of spirit within addressing.

Hiranya and Ravana though with might,

In end lost everything in sight.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

The Three Phases Of Praying For Stuff From The Devas

[Krishna's lotus feet]“Men of small intelligence worship the demigods, and their fruits are limited and temporary. Those who worship the demigods go to the planets of the demigods, but My devotees ultimately reach My supreme planet.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.23)

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One aspect of proper vision is seeing the future. To actually see means to detect the changes that are constantly occurring. What is in front of us right now won’t remain so, even for an inanimate object like a statue. There is human effort, paurusham, along with time, kala.

The changing nature of the material world is incorporated into Shri Krishna’s characterization of demigod worship. Popular in the Vedic tradition, devas are satisfied in order to earn their favor. The opinion is that ultimately the practice is reserved for the less intelligent. From studying the stages of demigod worship we detect a pattern.

1. Desire

I want something. It doesn’t have to be a physical object, necessarily. Maybe I want good health. I want my brain to function properly for an upcoming exam. I don’t want obstacles along my path in an important journey.

Of course desire could be about money and things. This is the first stage. Now that I know what I want, I have to figure out how to get it. I could do the work myself, but the wise declare that the living entity is not the doer. Nature must cooperate for any result to manifest.

“The bewildered spirit soul, under the influence of the three modes of material nature, thinks himself to be the doer of activities, which are in actuality carried out by nature.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 3.27)

Better to take the case to a higher authority. Devas are known to satisfy desires. These are god-like figures, and there are plenty of them. I have a choice. Today’s desire has an accompanying deva, and tomorrow’s desire might require approaching a different heavenly figure.

2. Renunciation

I know what I want. I know where to get it. Now comes the “how.” This involves renunciation and austerity. I have to worship properly. I’m not at the level of possessing the prapti siddhi of yoga, where I can get something just by contemplating it.

[religious ritual]Whatever the approved process, some sacrifice is involved. I have to give something to get something. The process can be for only a day or it can extend over a few weeks. Whatever needs to be done, I will do. This desire must be met.

3. Success

I got what I wanted. I went through the trouble and it paid off. I am now so happy. This demigod worship stuff really works. It’s not a myth. I guess that explains why so many people follow it.

Here’s the problem. My success hasn’t changed my life significantly. I still have desires. That renunciation and austerity I put towards attaining my goal haven’t carried over into everyday life. I am just as much attached to stuff as I was before.

The more intelligent recognize this cycle. They understand that life should be progressive; there should be advancement in the consciousness as time goes on. If the individual is stuck chasing one desire after another, how is even approaching a divine figure helping them?

[Krishna's lotus feet]Those with more brain substance, su-medhasam, approach the Supreme Personality of Godhead directly. Should they be full of material desires, kama, Bhagavan’s association will purify them. He may even deny the requests. There is discrimination involved. It is not like making a transaction with a retail outlet. Shri Krishna is not selling anything, though there are many buyers. He is giving His association, which can remain forever. This only goes to those who want it, and through practice in bhakti-yoga the desire, which is pure, gradually comes about.

In Closing:

Worship in pattern flowing,

First by desire into going.

Then into austerity sent,

Sacrifices for rituals spent.

Success, but then at stage the same,

Not extinguished is desire’s flame.

Towards Krishna better believe,

Highest value to receive.

Friday, November 17, 2017

What To Do In The Case Of A Fallen Guru

[Krishna's lotus feet]“Even if you are considered to be the most sinful of all sinners, when you are situated in the boat of transcendental knowledge, you will be able to cross over the ocean of miseries.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.36)

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Friend1: Did you see this story about the guru in India?

Friend2: Umm, there are like thousands of gurus in India.

Friend1: The one where the guy got arrested. He was charged with forcing girls to enter relations with him.

Friend2: Oh, yes. Sad situation.

Friend1: It’s big news. The guy’s followers have started to riot.

Friend2: I heard that.

Friend1: Really is amazing. How can people be so gullible? One look at this guy and I knew he was a fraud. The guy was making music videos, for crying out loud.

[Shrila Prabhupada]Friend2: His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada refers to this as the cheaters and the cheated. There are the cheating spiritual leaders. That is one thing. On the other side are the people who want to be cheated.

Friend1: Why would they want that, though?

Friend2: Looking for shortcuts. Wanting an easy way out of trouble. Worship some guru and have every problem solved. No more worrying about money. No more stress. Since they have this desire, nature arranges to find them a suitable match.

Friend1: You could say it’s something like the quack doctors.

Friend2: And their patients. The quacks only gain notoriety because of so many positive reviews from the patients, who give positive testimonials.

Friend1: This is an interesting topic today. Let’s delve further. What if you have a less subtle version of cheating?

Friend2: What do you mean?

Friend1: Let me lay out the situation for you. There is a somewhat famous religious leader. We can call him a guru, as he accepts disciples, people formally initiated to follow and serve him.

Friend2: Okay.

Friend1: This leader is flawed. He has made mistakes. The problem is, he won’t acknowledge them publicly. There is too much at stake. He travels the world. He gets millions of dollars in donations. He is not egregiously misappropriating the money or anything like that. He is not regularly engaged in illicit affairs. He has had slipups on occasion, though.

Friend2: Alright. This is probably more common than you think.

Friend1: Let’s say that I am attending a program where this guru will appear. I know about the transgressions. I know that this supposedly exalted leader is fallen. The problem is, other people in attendance don’t. What should I do?

Friend2: What kind of question is that? Are you asking me if you should spill the beans, announce it to everyone? For starters, if you know about legitimate crimes you should notify the authorities immediately.

Friend1: It’s not like that. Say the guru had a consensual affair with an adult-aged woman. There is no breaking of the law, but if the followers found out they would have to rethink things. Should I tell them later on, after the program? Should I even be attending such a gathering?

Friend2: These are tough questions. I don’t have the answers for you.

Friend1: By exposing such frauds, you’re saving other people from potential heartache and disappointment.

Friend2: That’s true, but these followers will unleash a fury on you. They may try to ruin your life. You’ve got to think about self-preservation, as well. That’s why I said it’s a difficult thing to answer. You have to go case by case. Sometimes the sadhu messes up by accident. In that case we know that they will be okay going forward. The point is clearly made by Shri Krishna in the Bhagavad-gita.

Friend1: Where the sadhu can even commit the most horrible act and they are not considered fallen as a result?

Friend2: Yes. The idea is that they will start their bhakti practices again, which will rectify things. Still, the forgiving nature of the Supreme Lord should not be taken advantage of. I guess you have to see if the guru in this case falls into that category. Sometimes people make honest mistakes, even those at the top. The pressure gets to them.

Friend1: The counter argument is that if you can’t take the heat, don’t go in the kitchen. If you can’t take the pressure of acting as a spiritual leader, don’t become one.

Friend2: That’s a valid argument. No doubt. You also want to consider the devotional service of the disciples and followers. Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu compares bhakti to a seed which is distributed by the spiritual master. The idea is to nurture the seed, first to a creeper and then into a blossoming tree. News of the guru falling down can destroy that creeper.

Friend1: Alright, so that’s one aspect of this. What about at the personal level? Should I avoid such association?

[Krishna's lotus feet]Friend2: That’s an easier issue to resolve. Just see the effect the association has on your devotional service. Are you chanting the maha-mantra: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare? Are you becoming more Krishna conscious? That means you’re getting a benefit from even a fallen leader. The idea is to always accept things favorable for bhakti and reject the unfavorable.

In Closing:

Transgressions of guru to know,

To disciples with news to go?

Sadhu protected from accidental sin,

Though fallen but still law within.

Situation not easily resolved,

Sometimes better when not involved.

Impact on bhakti assess,

Consciousness of Krishna stress.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Four Images From Rama’s Childhood

[Rama with brothers]“Being prayed for by the demigods, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the Absolute Truth Himself, directly appeared with His expansion and expansions of the expansion. Their holy names were Rama, Lakshmana, Bharata and Shatrughna. These celebrated incarnations thus appeared in four forms as the sons of Maharaja Dasharatha.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 9.10.2)

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From birth to death and everything in between. Taken collectively the events are known as a lifetime. Each living being travels as such, while the exact duration varies. For a human being a lifetime may be upwards of eighty years, while for a tree it is thousands. For the creator, Lord Brahma, the lifetime is so long that the days and years are measured differently.

“By human calculation, a thousand ages taken together is the duration of Brahma's one day. And such also is the duration of his night.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 8.17)

Bhagavan, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, descends to earth every now and then, as He sees it. For Him the vast space of time, infinite in both directions, is but a blip on a chart. For Him janma is not exactly a birth; it is an appearance. In the case of Shri Rama, the prince of Ayodhya, the janma has many wonderful associated images that can be contemplated by the aspiring transcendentalist.

1. Dasharatha’s yajna

The external cause is the desire of a very pious king. He helped so much in defending the suras [the good guys] against the asuras [the evil ones] that he earned the name Dasharatha. This refers to a fighter who can combat enemies attacking from the ten directions simultaneously.

The king was sinless, had done everything right, but was still missing something very important: an heir to the throne. At the advice of a brahmana [priestly man], Dasharatha performed a yajna. This is a kind of religious sacrifice, intended for the benefit of God the person, who is known as Yajneshvara, which means “enjoyer of sacrifice.”

[Dasharatha's yajna]The remnants of Dasharatha’s yajna were shared with the three queens, who soon became pregnant. Thus everything related to Rama’s appearance was auspicious, in accordance with dharma, or religiosity.

2. Four children to three queens

Fast forward a little and get the image of four infants being adored by three loving mothers. Rama is the eldest, born to Queen Kausalya. Rama is God directly. He is the same Vishnu worshiped in every yajna. He is the equivalent of God the person. This is the special benediction for King Dasharatha; he was worthy of having God as a son.

[Rama with brothers]Bharata is the next child, born to Queen Kaikeyi. Lakshmana and Shatrughna are twins, born to Queen Sumitra. The three younger brothers are partial expansions of Vishnu, known as amshas in Sanskrit. They are essentially the same as God, but assuming different roles.

3. Rama and Lakshmana eating

Lakshmana takes the role of number one servant. One of his many other names is Ramanuja. This means “younger brother of Rama,” and anuja also implies a follower. Lakshmana tags along with Rama wherever the eldest brother goes. This is not annoying in the least, but rather very endearing. Lakshmana does not eat or sleep before Rama does. This is a great sign of respect and love.

[Rama and Lakshmana eating]All four brothers are well taken care of by the loving mothers. They are adorned with beautiful clothes and provided food fit for a king. They are to one day follow in the footsteps of the father, though the journey won’t be without difficulties. From the mothers, the loving affection represents a bond to last forever, even when physical association is not available.

4. Rama swallowing Kakabhushundi

Kakabhushundi took birth in a crow’s body, but retained his knowledge of spiritual matters. He knows that God is a person. He knows that Bhagavan sometimes descends to this world and displays His amazingly beautiful transcendental form. He knows that the lila is just sport, that even within the child’s body Bhagavan retains full potency.

But due to the illusory energy of maya, sometimes there is forgetfulness. In the case of the devotees the illusion is of the auspicious kind, yogamaya. Under the sway of that energy, for a second Kakabhushundi thought that maybe Rama wasn’t God. After all, Dasharatha’s eldest son was playing like an ordinary child, being tricked here and there.

[Rama chasing after Kakabhushundi]At that moment Rama decided to chase after Kakabhushundi. He caught the crow and swallowed him. Kakabhushundi then saw a version of the universal form inside of Rama. That amazing vision immediately removed the illusion. The Supreme Lord is affectionate with His devotees in this way.

In Closing:

Always from maya protection,

Rama to crow affection.

By swallowing from inside seeing,

Universal form, ignorance freeing.

From Dasharatha’s yajna they came,

Four brothers, to Vishnu the same.

Staying together, to Rama most dear,

Lakshmana seated close to Him near.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Five Reasons To Abandon Stolen Property

[Sita-Rama]“Ravana was very advanced materially, so much so that he turned his kingdom, Lanka, into pure gold, or full material wealth. But because he did not recognize the supremacy of Lord Ramachandra and defied Him by stealing His wife, Sita, Ravana was killed, and all his opulence and power were destroyed.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 2.7.23 Purport)

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You shouldn’t steal, right? Does this need to actually be explained to anyone? The human being has some intelligence at the time of birth. Otherwise there wouldn’t be potential for reading, writing, speaking, walking, talking and other such things we take for granted, things we expect the adult to be able to do.

The Bhagavad-gita says that the intelligence comes from the source of all intelligence, the Supreme Consciousness that pervades the entire known space. Basically, wherever we see life, there is some connection to this consciousness, who is responsible for both intelligence and forgetfulness.

“I am seated in everyone's heart, and from Me come remembrance, knowledge and forgetfulness. By all the Vedas am I to be known; indeed I am the compiler of Vedanta, and I am the knower of the Vedas.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 15.15)

There is potential to learn, but someone has to do the teaching. It’s difficult to arrive at the proper conclusion through personal experience alone. There is no guarantee to survive through trial and error. As an example, a child may learn that fire will burn, but only after several times testing the fact. The easier way is to have someone offer the instruction, if even in a forceful way, to get the point across.

Instruction can similarly be passed on about the need to respect the property of others. Don’t steal. Don’t take what doesn’t belong to you. There is logic behind the teaching, as well as lessons from the past, from people who were forced to learn from their mistakes.

1. It’s the right thing to do

Consider your favorite possession, something that means a lot to you. Would you like it if someone else took it from you, without asking? It’s a change of possession, not just borrowing. Treat others the way you would like to be treated. That is a quick way to determine right and wrong.

2. Karma comes back to you

The Sanskrit word karma means “fruitive activity.” Action-reaction. Deeds with consequences. The results don’t necessarily manifest immediately. It may take another lifetime before the phala, or fruit, arrives.

“Just as a tree starts to blossom during the proper season, so the doer of sinful deeds inevitably reaps the horrible fruit of their actions at the appropriate time.” (Lord Rama speaking to Khara, Valmiki Ramayana, Aranya Kand, 29.8)

Nevertheless, the reaction will arrive. This is karma coming back. If you steal from someone, it stands to reason that someone will steal from you. If you honor the property of others, it is likely others will offer the same respect to you.

3. You’ll have to give it up at the time of death anyway

[stealing]Say that you steal something, get away with the crime, and take enjoyment from the stolen goods. You could have it for decades without issue. Irrespective the amount of time, eventually there will be separation. You have to leave everything behind at the time of death. With stolen property, you’ll have to give it up in a manner involving some kind of punishment; sometimes through violence.

4. Learn detachment

Jnana and vairagya. The human being advances through knowledge and renunciation. The potential is not the same with the animals. They don’t know about going on a diet. They don’t realize that death will arrive someday and that steps should be taken to make the most out of the existence.

Giving up stolen property is one way to get detachment. Attachment to the material body means future births. Reincarnation is fueled by karma, and with detachment there is less chance for fruitive activity. The proper way to live is bhakti, which is respecting God’s property and the innocent lives of His innumerable sons and daughters living in this world and others.

5. Learn from the examples of Ravana and Duryodhana

The leader of the Kurus, Duryodhana took property that didn’t belong to him. It was a massive and influential kingdom. The rightful heirs to the throne, the Pandavas, were wickedly cast aside. Duryodhana tried to kill those five brothers, who were his cousins, so that they wouldn’t have the chance to right the wrong. In the end it was Duryodhana who learned the hard way. He lost his life on the battlefield against his fiercest rival. No more kingdom to enjoy, even though for a while it looked like he had gotten away with stealing.

Ravana’s lesson was even harsher. He took the kingdom of Lanka from his half-brother Kuvera. He instilled fear in the kings around the world. Ravana attacked and killed innocent priest-like men living in the forest of Dandaka. The life of sin was paying off, it seemed.

[Sita-Rama]Then Ravana took fortune personified. She was on earth in the form of Sita Devi, the daughter of King Janaka. Sita was married to Shri Rama, an incarnation of God. Ravana stole Sita and then paid dearly for it. He learned the hard way what happens when you go the way of the thief. Ravana had a city of gold and an expansive ocean surrounding that city. At the time of death all he saw was the fierce arrows released from Rama’s wonderful bow. What he knew as his property previously was now gone from his possession forever.

In Closing:

Gone from vision forever,

To see again never.

Though to protect property trying,

Ravana in this way dying.

Duryodhana similar lesson to learn,

The result from stealing to earn.

When property and life to respect,

Then same from others to expect.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Three Periods Of Time I Could Use To Test If God Is Real

[Lord Krishna]“The Blessed Lord said: Many, many births both you and I have passed. I can remember all of them, but you cannot, O subduer of the enemy!” (Bhagavad-gita, 4.5)

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So many religions. So many people who follow. So many true believers, who would sacrifice everything to move forward in the path laid out for them. Something must be there, but how do they know for sure? Where is the evidence? Where is the tangible proof of a Divine being, someone who is the origin of everything?

Testing the origin is traveling one direction on the time continuum. The other is the future, moving forward. In Vedic culture the Almighty is described to be anadi. This means “without beginning.” He is also ananta, or unlimited. The creation goes through cycles of manifestation and dissolution.

“Again and again the day comes, and this host of beings is active; and again the night falls, O Partha, and they are helplessly dissolved.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 8.19)

The idea is that what we see now wasn’t here before. Nor will it remain forever. At some point the cycle will start anew. God is the one person who remains alive throughout. People like Markandeya Rishi have had the special benediction of living through the dissolution, seeing firsthand that the Supreme Lord remained. When everything was getting destroyed, God was in the form of an attractive and carefree youth, not worrying about anything.

[Lord Krishna]That is one person’s testimony, but what if we should get the same opportunity? In His original form, Bhagavan, also known as Narayana and Krishna, appears before us. We are skeptical, so we insist on visual proof. There are different lengths of time to utilize in a test of divinity.

1. One hundred years

I don’t remember my birth. I don’t remember my past lives, which according to the spiritual science of the Vedas I supposedly had. I am here, in the present, with someone who is apparently God. I have the future to work with.

Let’s say that I stay with Krishna for one hundred years. That is a remarkable achievement. Though rare in modern times, it is indeed possible. If I stay with Him for that long a time, will I prove that He is God? He stays in His exact form, without aging.

2. One thousand years

Every person I previously knew is long gone. Even future generations have since passed. I never believed someone could live for a thousand years, but somehow I have. Krishna is still with me. Is this proof that He is something special? Is He the Supreme Personality of Godhead?

3. One billion years

This length of time is practically unfathomable, but it certainly exists. Let’s say that I am with Krishna for this long. Not only have so many generations come and gone, but the earth itself is different. Continents aren’t where they used to be. The climate is different. Some species are now extinct.

Is one billion years enough? Does this prove that Krishna is deathless, which should be one property of the Almighty? Actually, if I am able to live this long, maybe I’ll start to think that I am God. After all, who else has lived this long? They say Lord Brahma has so many years to his day and night, but I never believed it. He is the creator, but now I am living for just as long.

From this theoretical exercise we see that from perception alone it is impossible to prove God’s existence. We must eventually move on. If we don’t, we might start to think of ourselves as being the Almighty. Does this mean the process is hopeless? Is there no way to be sure of God’s existence?

As with so many other aspects of life, faith is involved. Extend some faith in the beginning, follow some recommendations from the representative of God, the spiritual master, and soon come to realize at the personal level. Markandeya Rishi saw for himself and then told the Pandava brothers about the experience. Their well-wisher, Shri Krishna, was none other than Narayana Himself.

Krishna explained this truth later on to the leading fighter in the Pandava group. Arjuna was informed that both he and Krishna had appeared on earth many times before. The distinction was that Krishna could remember those appearances, while Arjuna could not. This is one difference among many between the living entities and the source of all energies. He has perfect memory, while we forget the simplest things.

[Lord Krishna]Though even billions of years of direct perception won’t bring certainty in the idea of Divinity, just a few seconds of engagement in devotional service, bhakti-yoga, can bring a taste that was not previously experienced. Something as simple as chanting the holy names brings proof of the existence of God: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

In Closing:

For test in certainty to know,

Forward in time just go.

Today Shri Krishna with me,

In hundred years same to be?

One thousand or billion how about?

By then thinking I am death without.

Bhakti-yoga, beginning with faith the way,

Confirming what Markandeya and others to say.