Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Spiritual Master

vishwamitra “O Rama, there is no one more fortunate on this earth than You since you have Vishwamitra as Your spiritual master.”

Sage Shatananda speaking to Lord Rama (Valmiki Ramayana, Balakanda)

In this material world, the spiritual master is our link to God. God isn’t always directly physically present on this earth, so it is through the spiritual master that we can understand Him.

In all areas of life, we require a teacher. We are all born not knowing anything. After taking our first birth from our parents, we gradually were taught how to crawl, walk, talk, and even eat properly. Our parents taught us right and wrong, good and bad, and how to behave properly. In many ways, we are the reflection of our parents. Children with good parentage usually grow up to be good standing citizens. From youth to young adulthood, we attended school and were educated by our various teachers. If not for them, we would probably not grow up to be productive adults.

In different areas of work, we require training from those who are already expert in their particular fields. Aspiring doctors require training from experienced doctors. Students finishing law school require the guidance of experienced lawyers to learn the trade. So in this way, we can understand that a good teacher is required for success in any endeavor

The spiritual master, or guru, is required for anyone who is seriously seeking self-realization and understanding of God. A qualified spiritual master is one of saintly character who has completely surrendered Himself to Lord Krishna. He knows nothing else but Krishna and through his saintly character, he voluntarily teachers others about Krishna.

From our education on material subjects, we can try to understand God, but our attempts will always fail. God cannot be understood through mere mental speculation. He can only be known through the grace of one who has completely surrendered himself to God. By agreeing to serve the spiritual master humbly, we take our second and more important birth and begin our spiritual understanding.

When Lord Krishna appeared on this earth, He even accepted a spiritual master, Sandipani Muni, just to set an example for us. The Lord taught us to be very humble to saintly people, and to learn spiritual knowledge from them. Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, but he pretended to be subordinate in knowledge to brahmanas in order to show them proper respect.

In the Ramacharitamansa of Tulsidas, Maharishi Valmiki gives a vivid description of a devotee of the Lord. One of the points he makes is that a devotee loves his guru even more than God Himself. The reason for this is that the spiritual master teaches us about God, and without him, our lives would be meaningless. This underscores the importance of the guru. When Lord Ramachandra was a youth, he and his brother Lakshmana were trained to be the highest skilled kshatriyas, or warriors, by the sage Vishwamitra. Lord Rama was God Himself, but He also humbly submitted Himself before Vishwamitra and voluntarily accepted him as His spiritual master. Vishwamitra was so pious that he was fortunate enough to have God Himself as a disciple. Yet Vishwamitra was held in such high regard by other sages that these sages considered Rama and Lakshmana to be the fortunate ones. Such is the glory of a saint!

In the Vedas, it is said that one of the highest rewards of life is to have association with a saintly person. One doesn’t have to be born in a high class family or possess immense riches in order to make spiritual progress. One simply has to be fortunate enough to come in contact with a saintly person, and then have the good sense to humbly serve that person through taking instruction from them. Anyone who is purely devoted to Krishna is considered a saint and a spiritual master. The perfect untitled spiritual master for this age is A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. Though Shrila Prabhupada physically left this earth more than thirty years ago, we can still approach him through his books and recorded lectures. He continues to preach to this day, so we should make the most of this auspicious human form of life by reading his books and following his teachings. In this way, we please the spiritual master, and through his grace, we return back to Godhead.


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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Gaura Purnima 2009

chaitanya Gaura Purnima is the celebration of the appearance day anniversary of Lord Shri Krishna Chaitanya. The Vedic calendar is based on the lunar cycle, and purnima is the period of the cycle when the moon is full. It is considered a very auspicious time and Lord Chaitanya was born during this cycle of the moon in Mayapur, India in 1486. The Lord’s complexion was golden, so hence the date is celebrated as Gaura Purnima.

Lord Chaitanya’s significance can’t be overestimated, since He was Krishna Himself. He came specifically to deliver the fallen souls of the Kali Yuga by preaching the process of sankirtana, or the congregational chanting of the holy name of God. He was a brahmana by birth, and He grew up to be the perfect spiritual master. He freely distributed love of Krishna to anyone who was willing to receive it. He taught His disciples the science of loving Krishna, and it is because of Him that so many temples were erected in the holy land of Vrindavana. Below is an excerpt from the Sri Caitanya Caritamrtra describing the Lord’s birth.

“I offer my respectful obeisances unto the full-moon evening in the month of Phālguna, an auspicious time full of auspicious symptoms, when Lord Shri Chaitanya Mahāprabhu advented Himself with the chanting of the holy name, Hare Krishna.

On the full-moon evening of the month of Phālguna when the Lord took birth, coincidentally there was also a lunar eclipse.

In jubilation everyone was chanting the holy name of the Lord—“Hari! Hari!”—and Lord Shri Chaitanya Mahāprabhu then appeared, after first causing the appearance of the holy name.

At His birth, in His childhood and in His early and later boyhood, as well as in His youth, Lord Chaitanya Mahāprabhu, under different pleas, induced people to chant the holy name of Hari [the Hare Krishna mahā-mantra].

In His childhood, when the Lord was crying He would stop immediately upon hearing the holy names Krishna and Hari.

All the friendly ladies who came to see the child would chant the holy names, “Hari, Hari!” as soon as the child would cry.

When all the ladies saw this fun, they enjoyed laughing and called the Lord “Gaurahari.” From then on, Gaurahari became another of His names.

His childhood lasted until the date of hāte khadi, the beginning of His education, and His age from the end of His childhood until He married is called pauganda.

After His marriage His youth began, and in His youth He induced everyone to chant the Hare Krishna mahā-mantra anywhere and everywhere.

During His pauganda age He became a serious student and also taught disciples. In this way He used to explain the holy name of Krishna everywhere.

caitanya_caritamrtaWhen teaching a course in grammar [vyākarana] and explaining it with notes, Shri Chaitanya Mahāprabhu taught His disciples about the glories of Lord Krishna. All explanations culminated in Krishna, and His disciples would understand them very easily. Thus His influence was wonderful.

When Lord Chaitanya Mahāprabhu was a student, He asked whomever He met to chant the Hare Krishna mahā-mantra. In this way He inundated the whole town of Navadvipa with the chanting of Hare Krishna.

Just prior to His youthful life, He began the saìkirtana movement. Day and night He used to dance in ecstasy with His devotees.

The sankirtana movement went on from one part of the town to another, as the Lord wandered everywhere performing kirtana. In this way He inundated the whole world by distributing love of Godhead.

Lord Chaitanya Mahāprabhu lived in the Navadvipa area for twenty-four years, and He induced every person to chant the Hare Krishna mahā-mantra and thus merge in love of Krishna.

For His remaining twenty-four years, Shri Chaitanya Mahāprabhu, after accepting the renounced order of life, stayed at Jagannātha Puri with His devotees.

For six of these twenty-four years in Nilācala [Jagannātha Puri], He distributed love of Godhead by always chanting and dancing.

Beginning from Cape Comorin and extending through Bengal to Vrindāvana, during these six years He toured all of India, chanting, dancing and distributing love of Krishna.

The activities of Lord Chaitanya Mahāprabhu in His travels after He accepted sannyāsa are His principal pastimes. His activities during His remaining eighteen years are called the antya-lilā, or the final portion of His pastimes.

For six of the eighteen years He continuously stayed in Jagannātha Puri, He regularly performed kirtana, inducing all the devotees to love Krishna simply by chanting and dancing.

For the remaining twelve years He stayed in Jagannātha Puri, He taught everyone how to taste the transcendental mellow ecstasy of love of Krishna by tasting it Himself.

Day and night Lord Chaitanya Mahāprabhu felt separation from Krishna. Manifesting symptoms of this separation, He cried and talked very inconsistently, like a madman.

As Shrimati Rādhārāni talked inconsistently when She met Uddhava, so also Shri Chaitanya Mahāprabhu relished, both day and night, such ecstatic talk in the mood of Shrimati Rādhārāni.

The Lord used to read the books of Vidyāpati, Jayadeva and Candidāsa, relishing their songs with His confidential associates like Shri Rāmānanda Rāya and Svarupa Dāmodara Gosvāmi.

In separation from Krishna, Shri Chaitanya Mahāprabhu relished all these ecstatic activities, and thus He fulfilled His own desires.”


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Monday, March 9, 2009

Supporting the Troops

SupportTheTroops  According to the Vedic system, a properly functioning society requires the cooperation between the four varnas, or social divisions. These divisions are broken up by qualities naturally found in people.

One of these groups is the kshatriya, or warrior class of people. The primary duty of a kshatriya is to provide protection to the other groups of society; the brahmanas (priests), vaishyas (merchants), and shudras (laborers). Kshatriyas need to be brave, courageous, and possess the utmost character to properly execute justice fairly and equally. The United States military is the modern day representation of kshatriyas. They voluntarily put their lives at risk every day simply for the sake of others. They carry out their duties with grace, humility, and focus. They perform their tasks in very difficult conditions and they ask nothing in return.

CIMG0057Krishna’s Mercy is dedicated to supporting our troops by sending them Krishna Care Packages. The main item in these care packages is Krishna prasadam cookies. Prasadam is sacred food that has first been offered to Lord Krishna and it is considered very auspicious for anyone who eats it. Krishna’s Mercy also includes books about Krishna in the care packages. We hope that this small token of our appreciation will go a long way in boosting the morale of the troops. Lord Krishna is the intimate friend and well wisher of everyone, so we hope these packages will help our brave men and women connect with Him and make their mission successful.


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