Saturday, October 10, 2009

Subduer of the Senses

Sita Devi “I know, O great hero, that there are many evils incident to living in the forest; but they generally befall those men who have not their senses subdued.” (Sita Devi speaking to Lord Rama, Valmiki Ramayana, Ayodhya Kand, Sec 27)

When Lord Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, descended to earth in the form of Lord Rama, He was ordered to live in the forest for fourteen years by His father Maharaja Dashratha. The Lord took birth as the eldest son of Dashratha, thus He was the rightful heir to the throne based off birthright. However, Dashratha was forced to give the throne to Rama’s younger brother Bharata because of a promise the king had made to his youngest wife, Kaikeyi, who was also Bharata’s mother. Dashratha actually had granted two wishes to Kaikeyi, with the second being Rama’s exile to the forest.

Lord Rama was God Himself, so renouncing the throne and luxuries of royal life were no problem for Him. According to Vedic philosophy, God is defined as one who possesses all six opulences of material life (fame, beauty, wealth, renunciation, power, and wisdom) at the same time and to the fullest extent. Being the ultimate renunciate, Lord Rama gladly accepted these two commands of His father; however He had to inform His wife, Sita Devi, of the bad news. When God comes to earth, He usually brings His pleasure potency with Him, who manifests either as His wife or His lover. Sita was the incarnation of the Lord’s energy appearing as His wife, thus she was devoted to Rama from the very beginning of her life. The idea of being separated from Rama was the equivalent of death to Sita, so she was very aggrieved to hear the news of the exile. Rama pleaded with her to remain in the kingdom, but Sita stubbornly rejected His proposal. Rama repeatedly explained to her that forest life would be very dangerous, especially for one accustomed to the comforts of royal life. Sita was born and raised in the kingdom of the pious king Janaka of Mithila, and after marriage, she lived in the kingdom of Ayodhya. She always enjoyed the life of a princess, so Rama was afraid she wouldn’t be able to handle living a forest as a recluse.

As part of her arguments in favor of going, Sita readily agreed that forest life was very difficult and not meant for ordinary women. She made it a point to say that those who didn’t have their senses under control would have a very difficult time living in the wilderness. When referring to the senses, Sita was talking about the five gross senses of seeing, hearing, feeling, smelling, and tasting, and the three subtle senses of mind, intelligence, and false ego, as defined by the Vedas. According to Vedic philosophy, we living entities have been placed in this material world and given suitable bodies in order to fulfill our desire for sense enjoyment. Sense gratification is achieved by attempting to satisfy the aforementioned senses. However through experience, we learn that the senses actually never get satisfied. We are always hankering after something that we want, or lamenting after something that we don’t have. This cycle repeats over and over again, and through our desires and actions, we keep receiving new bodies after giving up our current ones at the time of death. True spiritual advancement only comes when we are able to subdue our senses.

Bhgavad-gita The only way to be successful in subduing our senses is through the practice of yoga. In the modern world, the term yoga is generally associated with various gymnastics postures and breathing exercises. That is actually not the true definition of yoga. Connecting our minds with the Supreme Lord is the true meaning of yoga. By concentrating all of our activities on God, and always thinking about Him, we gradually become immune to the desires of our senses. If we are successful in yoga, we reach a stage called samadhi, wherein our senses are completely under control. There are various methods for perfecting this practice, and they represent the different types of yoga. The Bhagavad-gita, the famous scripture of India spoken by Lord Krishna Himself, describes these various types of yoga. The system that is most popular in the world today is hatha yoga. Hatha yoga involves putting the body into various stretching positions, and practicing breathing exercises, such as pranayama. This is all done as a preliminary means of concentrating the mind on the Supersoul within, known as Paramatma. God is realized in three different forms, impersonal Brahman (the all-pervading energy of this material world manifested as the Lord’s glaring effulgence), Paramatma (the Lord’s expansion as the Supersoul situated in the hearts of all living entities), and Bhagavan (the Supreme Personality of Godhead, in His original form). Hatha yoga is meant to be a spiritual activity aimed at detaching one from their senses and connecting their mind to God. Naturally, one who performs this activity nicely will also experience various material benefits. When we are detached from our senses, we become very skilled in material endeavors. The best athletes are the ones that can control their minds in the pressure-packed moments. By freeing oneself from the pangs of nervousness and worries caused by the mind, one can focus completely on the task at hand. Thus we see many yogis who gain great material powers, such as increased health, the ability to survive on very little sleep or food, and the ability to enjoy sex life for extended periods.

Sadly, today most people are taking up the process of hatha yoga simply to attain these material powers and not to connect with God. They gladly recite the syllable of Om, taking it to be a mundane sound vibration. Om is actually the sound vibration equated with the Supreme, and it is for this reason that is was originally associated with yoga. Other types of yoga are mentioned in the Bhagavad-gita, such as jnana yoga, which involves analytical study of the soul and the mind, and karma yoga, which involves fruitive activity aimed at providing spiritual advancement.

Lord Krishna describes very specifically how one is to practice hatha yoga. He told Arjuna,

“To practice yoga, one should go to a secluded place and should lay kusha-grass on the ground and then cover it with a deerskin and a soft cloth. The seat should neither be too high nor too low and should be situated in a sacred place. The yogi should then sit on it very firmly and should practice yoga by controlling the mind and the senses, purifying the heart and fixing the mind on one point.” (Bg. 6.10)

Perfection of Yoga As one can see, these conditions are very difficult to meet in the present day and age. It is for this reason that yoga has watered down into a mundane exercise system and has completely lost its spiritual component. Of all the yoga systems, one is the highest, and that is known as bhakti yoga. Bhakti means love, thus bhakti yoga, or devotional service, is the process of dovetailing all of one’s activities with the Supreme Lord out of love for Him. Instead of artificially trying to give up actions in order to control the senses, one simply has to add God to all of one’s current activities. We may like to read, write, watch movies, or listen to music. Bhakti yoga doesn’t require one to give up these activities, but simply asks that we relate them with Krishna. If we read about Krishna, talk about Him, write books about Him and His devotees, listen to music about Him, and chant His holy names, then we are performing the best kind of yoga.

The activities of devotional service fall into nine separate categories or processes. These are: hearing, chanting, remembering, worshipping, serving the lotus feet of the Lord, offering prayers, carrying out the orders of the Lord, making friends with Him, and surrendering everything to Him. Shrila Prabhupada, the great author and devotee of Lord Krishna, described these processes in this way in his Bhagavad-gita As It Is book,

“One can engage in all nine devotional processes, or eight, or seven, or at least in one, and that will surely make one perfect.” (Bg 11.55 Purport)

At the time of Lord Rama’s exile, Sita Devi had actually performed all nine of these processes perfectly and completely. Being married to the Lord for many years already, she had paid great attention to all His words and His teachings. In fact, she was such a great listener that as part of her arguments in favor of going to the forest, she mentioned the Lord’s teachings to her about the duties of a wife and how a woman shouldn’t live without her husband.

Sita was extremely pious, as were most in the age of Treta, thus she was expert in chanting the name of the Lord. In fact, one of the benefits of being married to Lord is that she got to directly address Him by His name on a regular basis.

Sita remembered the Lord at all times in her life. Even though she was eventually allowed to accompany the Lord to the forest, she met very long periods of separation from Him. The first time was when she was kidnapped by the demon Ravana and forced to be his prisoner for many months. The second time was when she was abandoned by Rama late in her life. She spent her final years on earth living in the hermitage of Valmiki Muni, where she raised her two children, Lava and Kusha. Even through separation, she never once turned her mind away from Rama.

Marriage of Sita and Rama According to the Vedic injunctions, it is the duty of the wife to worship her husband as her primary God, so naturally Sita performed worship of Lord Rama on a daily basis.

In the Vaikuntha planets of the spiritual world, Goddess Lakshmi is always massaging the feet of Lord Narayana, who is one of Krishna’s primary expansions, thus it was only natural that Sita would do the same in the material world. Even Lord Rama’s younger brother Lakshmana would regularly massage the lotus feet of his brother. God knows that His devotees take great pleasure in serving Him, so He gladly facilitates such desires.

As husband and wife, Sita and Rama were the best of friends. They greatly enjoyed each other’s company and couldn’t stand to be separated. Even through separation, God is always with His devotees, and His devotees are always with Him.

“Just fix your mind upon Me, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and engage all your intelligence in Me. Thus you will live in Me always, without a doubt.” (Bg. 12.8)

Surrendering everything unto the Lord is probably the most difficult process to perform, and can only be done by the most advanced devotees. We are greatly attached to our material possessions and desires, so it is hard for us to surrender everything and rest all our hopes and dreams on the Lord. In the Bhagavad-gita, Lord Krishna’s final instruction to Arjuna is for him to surrender to God and be rest assured that God will protect Him.

“Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reaction. Do not fear.” (Bg 18.66)

As part of her plea to get her husband to allow her to go to the forest, Sita boldly declared that Rama was her life and soul and that she would die without Him. She surrendered everything unto Him, without any fear of the repercussions. Sometimes outsiders see devotees prostrating themselves before God or their spiritual master and they find this practice very strange. “Why should you bow down?” they think. For the devotees, complete surrender brings total bliss because only through surrender can one be freed of all material pains.

Sita Rama and Lakshmana leaving for the forest From Sita Devi’s example, we can see that she was the perfect yogi. Though she was a woman with no formal education in Vedanta, she had her senses completely under control due to her perfect practice of bhakti yoga. Lord Rama couldn’t refute the arguments she made, and He was forced to finally take her along with Him. We should all learn from Sita’s example and take up the process of devotional service, so that we too can subdue our senses, and serve God with all our heart.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Washing The Car

Radha Krishna “Those who are full of dirty things can take to the line of Krishna consciousness for a gradual cleansing process, following the regulative principles of devotional service.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 4.15 Purport)

Men especially take a great interest in automobiles. Televised sporting events give us a glimpse into the psyche of the average adult male. Aside from beer commercials, advertisements for automobiles are the most commonly aired type of commercial during big football, baseball, and basketball games. The latest cars from the big auto manufacturers are showcased in these commercials. Usually the car is seen travelling very fast through a closed track, enticing the viewer to go out and buy it. Men have such an attachment to their cars that they often value the relationship with their automobiles more than they value the relationships with their friends and family.

This concern for cars is an outgrowth of the natural service mentality of living entities. All living entities ( human beings, animals, birds, etc.) are spirit souls at the core. We have been forced to accept a material body due to our past deeds and desires, collectively known as our karma. We performed work in the past with a desired aim, and this life is a result of the performance of that work. At the time of death, our desires and work are measured, and we are then given a suitable body in the next life:

“Whatever state of being one remembers when he quits his body, that state he will attain without fail.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 8.6)

Since our real identity is with our soul and not our present body, our natural disposition is towards service. This is because all spirit souls are part and parcel of God. We are qualitatively the same as God, but quantitatively different. For example, our souls can only exist in one body at a time, thus our consciousness is only of the body that we currently occupy. God, on the other, is isvhara, meaning He is the Supreme Controller. One of the ways He displays His controlling feature is through His expansion as Paramatma, which is the Supersoul residing in the heart of every living entity. For this reason, God is conscious of every living entity, and also of their previous lives.

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

Originally, we are all Krishna conscious, meaning we are devotees of God. Being a devotee means loving God in a service attitude. One can say that they love God, but if that relationship is exhibited by constantly asking for things from Him, then one cannot classify that as pure love. “God give me this, give me that.” That is not a loving relationship; that is simply viewing God as an order supplier. A devotee serves the Lord purely, without any personal motive.

When we take birth in the material world, God’s illusory energy known as maya, causes us to forget our original constitutional position. This is by design. We wanted to pretend to be God by coming to this material world, so the Lord facilitated that request by creating maya. It is for this reason that most of us are engaged primarily in karmic activity, accumulating possessions and trying to satisfy our senses. Nevertheless, a small bit of that service attitude still exists inside of us. Due to maya’s influence, we direct that service towards material objects instead of God. Everyone is serving something or someone, and no one can claim otherwise. Even the most powerful CEO of the largest corporation of the world, he is serving his board of directors, shareholders, and customers. A president serves his country, the husband serves the wife and vice versa.

Corvette By taking such a great interest in cars, men direct their service towards inanimate material objects. Many people often refer to their car as their “baby”, or they’ll refer to the car as “she” and “her.” They almost view the car as a person. An automobile requires constant maintenance in order to continuously function properly. People take great care to regularly perform tune-ups to ensure that the car performs optimally. Aside from the internal maintenance, car owners dedicate even more time, money, and energy towards maintaining the exterior of the car. The look of a car is probably the most important factor in determining whether a car will be purchased or not. Some cars travel faster than others and some have better features, but the car obsession really focuses on the external appearance. For this reason, having the car regularly washed is of utmost importance. Rain can actually damage the exterior of the car. If an automobile isn’t washed regularly, dirt and other grime can accumulate and damage the paint. Car owners are well aware of these facts, so they closely monitor the exterior look, making sure that the paint looks perfect and that there are no dings or scratches on the car.

On the surface, this sort of dedication to one’s car doesn’t seem to be too harmful. An automobile is quite expensive, so why not make sure that it looks nice? According to Vedic philosophy, such concern is actually a waste of time. One of the first lessons taught to aspiring transcendentalists is that we are not our bodies. What are we then? Aham brahamasmi, “I am a spirit soul.” This fact represents the beginning of spiritual understanding. In conjunction, the Shrimad Bhagavatam tell us that anyone who falsely identifies with their gross material body is a mudha. Mudha is a Sanskrit word that translates to rascal, fool, or ass. Based on these statements, we can conclude that anyone who strictly identifies themselves as black, white, American, Indian, etc. is a mudha. This is very easy to understand. Our souls are eternal but our bodies are not. At the time of death, our bodies are either burned or buried. Death means the changing of our body, so we needn’t be too attached it.

“The Blessed Lord said: While speaking learned words, you are mourning for what is not worthy of grief. Those who are wise lament neither for the living nor the dead…As the embodied soul continually passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. The self-realized soul is not bewildered by such a change.” (Bg 2.11,13)

Therefore, the Vedic conclusion is that we should not pay so much attention to the desires of the body, but that we should rather spend our time focusing on the cultivation of spiritual knowledge. One who thinks of God at the time of death, never has to return to this material world:

“After attaining Me, the great souls, who are yogis in devotion, never return to this temporary world, which is full of miseries, because they have attained the highest perfection.” (Bg. 8.15)

Lord Krishna If being overly concerned with our material body is a waste of time, one can imagine how senseless it is to dedicate so much time taking care of an automobile. The car is a mode of transportation, something we need to get us to and from places. Most of us need cars to get to work, to go to the supermarket, or to go to school to pick up and drop off our children. It is important for the car to function properly, but how the car looks is irrelevant.

Instead of our car, what really need cleansing are our soul and body. By definition, the spirit soul cannot be contaminated:

“The soul can never be cut into pieces by any weapon, nor can he be burned by fire, nor moistened by water, nor withered by the wind.” (Bg 2.23)

Yet due to contact with material nature, the soul has become embodied in a conditional state. Though the body is made up of five gross elements (earth, air, water, fire, and ether) and three subtle elements (mind, intelligence, and false ego), it is these very material elements that can help the soul return back to God. Through all the sinful activity we’ve performed, our hearts have become dirty. The four pillars of sinful life are: meat eating, illicit sex, gambling, and intoxication. Aside from being bad for our karma, these activities are considered sinful because they bind us to the cycle of birth and death.

Krishna dancing with a gopi Though the body is temporary, it represents the vehicle that can drive us out of this material world by enabling us to put a permanent end to the cycle of reincarnation. We can clean our cars, but they will inevitably get dirty again. Even if they remain clean, the enjoyment we get is fleeting. The real aim of human life is to use our intelligence to clean the body and make it God conscious. We can do that by abstaining from the foul pillars of sinful life and by regularly connecting with God. We can use our ears to hear stories about Him, our eyes to view His deity in the temple and to read books about Him, our legs to travel to Holy places of pilgrimage, and our voice to chant His name and speak about His glories to others. The opportunities for service are endless, and our efforts will never go in vain:

“The unsuccessful yogi, after many, many years of enjoyment on the planets of the pious living entities, is born into a family of righteous people, or into a family of rich aristocracy…On taking such a birth, he again revives the divine consciousness of his previous life, and he tries to make further progress in order to achieve complete success, O son of Kuru.” (Bg 6.41,43)

Just as a car’s paint becomes damaged if the car is not washed, the living entity becomes damaged if its sins are not cleansed. Krishna is the Supreme Pure, so we should use His holy names and all other things related to Him to wash away our sins.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

As Strong As The Wind

Hanuman carrying Rama and Lakshmana “The soul is atomic in size and can be perceived by perfect intelligence. This atomic soul is floating in the five kinds of air, is situated within the heart, and spreads its influence all over the body of the embodied living entities. When the soul is purified from the contamination of the five kinds of material air, its spiritual influence is exhibited.” (Mundaka Upanishad, 3.19)

According to the Ayurvedic system, the science of health as described in the ancient scriptures of India, there are five kinds of air that exist within the body of a jiva soul: prana, apana, vyana, udana and samana. One who learns to control these airs can achieve great yogic perfections.

Air is the vital force of man. If air didn’t exist in the body, there would be no life, for the vital organs would not be able to operate.  Ayurveda tells us that our bodies are composed of kapha, pitha, vayu (mucus, bile, and air). A healthy person has an equal balance of these three elements. When these elements exist disproportionately, problems arise within the body such as disease. Wind is the considered the most powerful element and it is even used in the Vedic texts as a reference for making comparisons. One will often see statements comparing certain things or people, to being “as strong as the wind”. There are two notable historical personalities born of the wind god Vayu, both of whom possessed an extraordinary amount of strength.

Around five thousand years ago, there was a royal family by the name of the Pandavas. Consisting of five brothers, they were the rightful heirs to the kingdom formerly ruled by their late father Pandu, but unfortunately the throne was usurped unjustly by their cousin brothers, the Kauravas. During a previous incident, King Pandu was cursed that he would meet death during the act of sex. For this reason, his first three sons were begotten from the semina of various demigods. One of his sons, Bhima, was begotten by Vayu, the wind god. For this reason, Bhima was extremely strong. The Pandavas suffered greatly throughout their life. One of their tribulations involved a stint in the forest where they lived as exiles from the kingdom. This was the result of Yudhishthira, the eldest Pandava brother, losing a dice match. During their travels, the five brothers and their mother Queen Kunti, would get tired from all the walking. Bhima was so strong that he was able to carry the entire family on his shoulders and travel great distances. Lord Hanuman was also born of the wind god, and His strength was even greater. As the faithful servant of Lord Rama, God’s incarnation during the Treta Yuga, Hanuman performed many heroic feats such as burning down the city of Lanka, carrying an entire mountain in his hand, and helping destroy the Rakshasa army of Ravana.

Hanuman and Bhima The hatha-yoga system is meant to help one control the air within the body. If we learn to control the vital airs, we can really harness all our strength. The body is capable of amazing feats, but our powers are limited due to our entanglement in sense gratification. Hatha-yoga, with its various sitting postures and breathing exercises, helps us break free of this attachment. When the senses are completely under control, one can more easily avoid sinful activities. The four pillars of sinful life are meat eating, gambling, intoxication, and illicit sex. Sexual urges are the hardest to control, and one who engages in any of the other three sinful activities naturally has their desire for sex increase. In the Western world, these activities are quite the norm. One who initially is instructed on the science of self realization thinks it almost impossible to give up this lifestyle. For this reason, hatha-yoga is recommended for those who are overly attached to the demands of the gross body.

Learning of the benefits of this type of yoga, one may think that we should all take it up. We see that yoga is very popular today, especially hatha-yoga, but almost everyone is performing it improperly and for the wrong reason. Yoga is touted as a completely secular activity, where people are even taught to vibrate the sacred syllable of Om. Lord Krishna, God Himself, declares in the Bhagavad-gita, that of all sound vibrations, He is the syllable Om, yet the modern practitioners of yoga recite this sound without any thought of God. Yoga is taught as a gymnastics exercise, something to be taken up for those seeking improved health. While it undoubtedly provides health benefits, the yoga system was created by God to allow people to make spiritual advancement. If one performs yoga for thirty minutes a day, and then spends the rest of the time engaged in sinful activity, they haven’t made any progress at all. They may have increased the duration of their life and their performance capabilities in sex life, but those things are all temporary. At the time of death, one has to give up this gross body and all its attributes.

In this day and age, meditational yoga is very difficult to perform. For this reason, bhakti yoga, or devotional service, is the best method for achieving spiritual advancement. Hanuman is a great example in this regard. He was a perfect yogi, who had his vital airs under complete control. He was so strong that he even surprised himself with some of his feats. Yet, all this strength meant nothing to him, for he was completely dedicated to serving the lotus feet of Lord Shri Rama. Rama’s eternal servant Hanuman, thinks of Him and His wife Sita all day and night. “How can I make my Lord happy? What can I do for Him next? Let me sing His praises.” These are the thoughts of the great Hanuman. He is the perfect yogi in all respects, and He uses all his powers towards the ultimate cause. He is a role model that we should all look up to.

Hanuman always thinking of Sita and Rama Bhakti-yoga involves nine distinct processes: heating, chanting, remembering, worshiping, serving the lotus feet of the Lord, offering prayers, carrying out the orders of the Lord, becoming friends with Him, and surrendering everything unto Him. As we can see, this type of yoga isn’t difficult to perform, and it affords us many different avenues which we can follow. Yoga means having union with the Supreme. Whether it’s sitting alone in a secluded place, or loudly chanting the holy names of the Lord:  “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”, the key is to always keep our mind with God. Then we will be performing real yoga and we will always be happy.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

A Good Name

Sita Rama and Lakshmana in the forest“I shall secure permission and follow you; the time has arrived; may the brahmanas be of truthful words.” (Sita Devi speaking to Lord Rama, Valmiki Ramayana, Ayodhya Kand, Sec 27)

How seriously a person values their word is one of the most important ways of judging their character. By stating that one intends to do something and then following through with that intention, one shows others that they are honorable and committed to the truth. Truthfulness leads to great honor in this world and the next. Georg Washington, the first president of the United States, was known primarily for his truthfulness, which aided in his promoting his stature.

On the converse side, one who regularly speaks falsehoods is branded with a bad reputation. Being known as a liar has a very bad stigma associated with it, and for this reason people go to great measures to protect their good name. In the publishing and media arena, there are many rules in place preventing someone from committing libel, and if one does, there are stiff penalties associated with it. If someone prints or says something defamatory or negative about someone else, the victim will often pursue litigation as a means of maintaining their good image. Wanting fame and fortune is a common trait shared by almost all people. Having a good reputation goes hand in hand with fame.

Lord Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, as described by the Vedas, the original scriptures emanating from India. God has many different names, expansions, and forms, but Krishna is the origin of them all. When the Lord descends to the material world, He often comes as an expansion of Himself, and one of these primary expansions was Lord Rama, the most pious prince of Ayodhya. Lord Rama was born as the eldest son of Maharaja Dashrata, who was the king of Ayodhya many thousands of years ago. Dashratha was a very honest and noble king, well respected throughout the world. It is no small feat to have God take birth as your son, so that is indication enough of his virtue. Dashratha had ruled for many years, but was without a son, a fact which aggrieved him. According to the Vedic system, a person takes on three debts upon birth. A debt is owed to the forefathers, the great sages, and to the demigods. The debt owed to the forefathers is paid by procuring a son. It was for this reason that Dashratha desperately wanted a son, and after performing a great sacrifice, his wish was fulfilled.

Rama and His brothers Lord Rama was born simultaneously with His three other younger brothers, Bharata, Lakshmana, and Shatrughna. Rama’s three brothers were also partial expansions of Lord Krishna, so they were equal in power. From His very birth, Rama was Dashratha’s favorite, and the king couldn’t live without Him. As the Lord grew older, he would go on to help Vishvamitra Muni fight off demons in the forest. Subsequently He would be married to Maharaja’s Janaka’s daughter, Sita Devi. Sita was the incarnation of Goddess Lakshmi, who is Lord Narayana’s wife in the spiritual world. When God comes to earth, He brings along with Him other demigods, including His eternal consort Lakshmi. Sita was meant for marrying Rama from the very beginning and they were bound by the ties of holy matrimony in a very great ceremony in Janaka’s kingdom. The couple then returned to Ayodhya where they lived very happily for twelve years. Dashratha decided one day that he would step aside and install Rama as the new king. This was something he wanted to do all along and when the time finally came, he was very anxious. He went and took counsel of the brahmanas first to make sure that it was a good idea.

According to Vedic culture, society is divided into four groupings based off a person’s qualities and the work they perform. These divisions are: the brahmanas (priests), kshatriyas (warriors/administrators), vaishyas (merchants/businessmen) and shudras (laborers). Governments were run by kshatriyas, but they all had brahmanas serving in their court as the chief counselors. Brahmanas were completely dedicated to God, so their advice and their injunctions were always followed without hesitation. The brahmanas in Dashratha’s kingdom were all very devoted to Lord Rama so they immediately agreed to the idea of His installation.

Everything was set into place, but on the day of the installation, things took a dramatic turn for the worse. Dashratha was married to three different wives, as was customary for kshatriya kings. His youngest wife, Kaikeyi, was very much against the installation of Rama because she wanted her son Bharata to be the king. In actuality, she was devoted to Rama, but on the eve of the installation, her servant, a humpbacked woman named Manthara, planted the seeds of jealousy and resentment into Kaikeyi, so much so that she was in a burning rage.

Kaikeyi On a previous occasion, Dashratha was involved in a fierce battle against an army of demons. The kshatriyas were all valiant warriors and it was for this reason that they were appointed to run the government. In Vedic times, governments weren’t run by lawyers, as they primarily are now. Only the topmost skilled and ethical kshatriyas were appointed as kings. In this particular battle, Dashratha had gotten into trouble, and Kaikeyi, who happened to be with him at the time, rescued him from the danger. Dashratha was so pleased with his wife, that he granted her any two boons of her choosing. Kaikeyi couldn’t think of anything immediately so she decided to save those boons until the time was right. The time of Rama’s installation seemed perfect for her to request her two boons. She went to Dashratha and requested that Bharata be installed as the new king. Along with that, she wanted Rama to be banished to the forest for fourteen years, to live as a hermit and not have any claim to the kingdom.

Dashratha was sorely aggrieved at this request, and he begged Kaikeyi to reconsider. More than just begging, he was in a full swoon to get her to change her mind, trying everything from placating her with gentle words to rebuking her with the harshest of criticism. She would not budge from her position, and this caused Dashratha tremendous pain. In today’s world, one may look upon a situation with bewilderment. Why wouldn’t Dashratha just decline her requests? That way everyone could be happy.

Things weren’t so simple during those times. Dashratha was a king belonging to a very famous line of rulers, known as the Ikshvakus. By going against his word, he would not only be tarnishing his own reputation, but also the reputation all of the kings prior to him. If a ruler is untruthful, then naturally the citizens will follow, and chaos will ensue. In today’s world it is very common for a politician to lie; in fact, a politician who can lie very well is often given praise and respect. According to Vedic philosophy, a king who goes against his word isn’t worthy of ruling.

Dashratha was so much affected by these requests of Kaikeyi, that he couldn’t even bring himself to telling Rama. The Lord came to visit the king on the day of the installation, and seeing him in a precarious condition, He inquired as to what had happened. On being informed by Kaikeyi, Lord Rama gladly accepted both punishments and he asked His father not to grieve. The Lord was just as dedicated to dharma, or the rules of religion, as His father was. Rama wanted in no way to tarnish His father’s name, so He put up no resistance to the requests.

When Rama went back to His palace to tell Sita the news, she was taken aback. The Lord insisted that she remain in the kingdom for the exile period, but she steadfastly refused. The two exchanged several well-formed, convincing arguments with each other, almost in the style of a debate. As part of her arguments, Sita told the Lord that as a child, brahmanas in Janaka’s court had predicted that she would and should one day live in the forest. Rama was very worried about how a beautiful princess like Sita would be able to survive in the wilderness without any comforts. Sita tried to mollify His concern by referring to the authoritative words of the brahmanas, who are the most respected members of society.

Sita, Rama, and Lakshmana departing for exileAbove all others, the brahmanas are the people most dedicated and renowned for their truthfulness. They act as the teachers of society, and what they say goes. Sita Devi knew this, and she also knew that Lord Rama, being God Himself, was the best friend of the brahmanas. Sita requested the Lord not to make the words of the brahmanas be untrue, and by so doing, she dealt a check-mate move to her husband. Lord Rama was insisting on going to the forest only to maintain the good name of His father. He never wanted Dashratha’s word to prove untruthful in any way, and so Sita countered with a similar argument. She essentially told the Lord, “You better take me to the forest with you, otherwise the earlier predictions made by the brahmanas in my father’s court will prove untrue. You are going to great lengths to protect the word of your father, but you love the brahmanas just as much, if not more. You should go to the same lengths to protect their words.”

Sometimes God goes against His own word. When Lord Krishna personally advented some five thousand years ago, He spent His youth in the town of Vrindavana as a cowherd. The cowherd girls of the town, known as gopis, were completely dedicated and in love with Krishna and they couldn’t stand separation from Him for even a moment. When the Lord became older, He was forced to leave Vrindavana and go to Mathura to kill the demon Kamsa. When He left, the Lord told the distressed gopis that He would be returning very shortly, but He never did.

So these things happen from time to time based on events, but the Lord’s true devotees never go against their word. In the Bhagavad-gita, Krishna takes great care to make Arjuna, and not Himself, declare to the world that Krishna’s devotees never perish.

“…O son of Kunti, declare it boldly that My devotee never perishes.” (Bg 9.31)

Krishna speaking to Arjuna God’s devotees are pure and truthful, and it is for this reason that He entrusts them with honor and dignity. Krishna is generally neutral towards all living entities, but He takes special care to protect those who always think of Him. The lesson we can learn from Sita Devi is that we should all become devotees, and then God will do anything and everything to secure our fame and fortune in this world and the next, even if we aren’t seeking it.

Newsletter – October 2009

Krishna's mercy

Upcoming Celebrations:

image Diwali, Saturday, October 17th

image Govardhana Puja, Sunday, October 18th

Celebrate Lord Krishna’s lifting of Govardhana Hill with us on Sunday, October 18th. We will have a special article dedicated to the Lord Krishna and Govardhana Hill. We invite everyone to come and visit our website and Facebook page on that day to offer prayers and well-wishes.
"When Lord Krishna personally appeared in Vrindavana some five thousand years ago, His foster father, Nanda Maharaja, would regularly worship Lord Indra. One time, the Lord, who was a very young boy at the time, asked His father to worship the local Govardhana Hill instead of Lord Indra. Nanda Maharja was very reluctant to take this advice out of fear that it would anger Indra. Nanda was pure a devotee after all, so He had full faith in His son’s words. Heeding his son’s advice, Nanda and the residents of Vrindavana instead decided to worship Govardhana Hill. They brought many great preparations and performed a wonderful puja. Lord Indra was greatly angered by this. Though they are very exalted personalities, even the demigods fall prey to false pride and ego from time to time. This was one of those times and Indra showed his anger by pouring down an onslaught of rain on the residents of Vrindavana. To protect His devotees, Lord Krishna lifted up the gigantic Govardhana Hill with one finger and held it up as an umbrella to protect all the residents of the town. It rained incessantly for seven days, but the Lord held the hill up the entire time. Afterwards, Lord Indra felt greatly sorry and offered His obeissances to Krishna. Ever since that time, devotees of Krishna perform the same Govardhana Puja annually on the day after Diwali.”

image Youtube Channel

We are in the process of publishing many of our articles in video format. Please visit our Youtube channel,, and our Facebook Page to view our videos. We hope to post new videos daily.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Good Son

Lord Vishnu “In Vedic society, after the death of a relative, especially one’s father or mother, one must go to Gaya and there offer oblations to the lotus feet of Lord Vishnu.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Chaitanya Charitamrita, Adi 17.8 Purport)

According to the Vedas, the ancient scriptures of India, it is very important for parents to beget sons, more so than begetting daughters. Having a baby girl definitely isn’t a bad thing, but a son is able to rescue even the most sinful of parents from going to hell in the afterlife.

Upon taking birth, every one of us incurs three separate debts. We owe a debt to our forefathers, known as the pitrs. They are the progenitors of our family, and it is due to their efforts that we take birth in the family that we do. We also owe a debt to the rishis, or great sages of the past. Their tireless efforts produced a body of literary work unmatched in human history. The Vedic literature combined is by far and away the largest set of scriptures known to mankind. It took the effort and dedication of great saints to produce such insightful and pertinent reading material. We are all forever indebted to them for their contribution to mankind. We are also indebted to the devatas, or demigods. There is only one God, Lord Krishna, but He has deputies who handle various departments of the material creation. These agents are known as the demigods. Shiva, Ganesha, Lakshmi, Indra are a few of the well-known devatas. They are in charge of producing rain, which in turn produces the food that sustains our life. They are also in charge of administering justice, doling out wealth, and even creating and destroying the earth.

We can pay off these debts by following the path enjoined in the shastras. To honor the great saints, we should rigorously study the primary Vedic texts, such as the Bhagavad-gita, Shrimad Bhagavatam, and Ramayana. They gave us these books to read and use as a guideline for our day to day affairs, so we shouldn’t neglect them. The demigods are pleased by the performance of sacrifice. All Vedic sacrifices involve fire and the offering of oblations in the form of clarified butter or ghee. By performing these regularly, the demigods become happy. The debt we owe to our forefathers can be satisfied by begetting sons. A son carries on the family name, ensuring that the traditions and reputation set forth by generations past will continue. The true benefit of having sons lies in their ability to offer pinda to the departed souls.

After a father or mother dies, one observes a shradda ceremony, which is a way to pay homage to the deceased. A pinda, a small ball of food, is offered to the departed soul. According to the Bhagavad-gita, when we die, our next birth is determined by our consciousness at the time of death. If we are sinful then we go to the hellish planets for a certain time period, at the expiry of which we return back to earth. The same goes for those ascending to heaven. However, the most sinful people remain in an intermediate state, where they are perpetually stuck in a subtle body. They are considered too sinful to even get another body after death. For these people, it is extremely important to have someone available to offer them food in the form of the pinda. After the initial shradda ceremony, the pinda is then offered annually on the anniversary of the person’s death. Only a son is fit for delivering the sinful soul. The word for son in Sanskrit is putra, which has a special significance. There is a specific hell referred to as put, so since the son can deliver one from such a hellish condition, he is referred to as putra.

“In Gaya there is Vishnu temple, and in the Vishnu temple the oblation is offered at the lotus feet of the... There are many practical cases that one's father or mother became ghost after death, and after offering oblations at the lotus feet of Vishnu at Gaya, he was delivered. There are many cases.”  (Shrila Prabhupada, Lecture, Surat, Jan 3rd, 1971)

The offered food gives sustenance to the sinful soul, eventually absolving them of their sins. If a sinful person begets a son who is pious enough to recognize the need to offer pinda, then God can’t be too angry with the sinful person, for at least they have produced good offspring.

Narasimha Deva killing Hiranyakashipu For these reasons, it is very important to beget sons who are very pious. It takes just one great person to redeem generations worth of sinful family members. There are two great examples in this regard. The great devotee of Krishna, Prahlada Maharaja, was born in a family of demons. His father Hiranyakashipu was an avowed atheist who denied the supremacy of God. However, Prahlada was a devotee from his very birth, and due to his devotion to Krishna, the Lord personally appeared before him. Hiranyakashipu had tried in various ways to kill his five year old son, but Prahalada survived all the attempts. Finally God had enough and personally appeared in the form of a half-man half-lion specially to kill Hiranyakashipu. Being killed directly by the Lord is the greatest of boons, for the Lord offers liberation to such people. In essence, Prahlada’s piety resulted in the salvation of his father.

A similar situation occurred with Bhagiratha, a descendant of the great King Sagara. Also a very pious person, Bhagiratha was able to bring the Ganges River, Mother Ganga, down from heaven to earth. Since the Ganges emanates from the lotus feet of Lord Krishna, it is considered sacred. When the river initially came to earth, it washed over the ashes of the sixty thousand sons of King Sagara. Therefore, not only were those sons granted liberation, but up to five previous generations in Bhagiratha’s line were emancipated from the repeated cycle of birth and death, simply through Bhagiratha’s pious deeds.

Ganges River coming down to earth All this doesn’t mean that having a daughter is a bad thing. For women, their importance lies in the influence they can have on their husbands. A husband and wife share the same spiritual fate, so if a son offers pinda to the departed father, the departed mother will also be fed. In this way, a good son is beneficial to both parents. Also, while living, a woman can prove beneficial to her husband if she herself is very pious and dedicated to God.

Begetting a son serves as an insurance policy more than anything else. Regardless of whether our children are boys or girls, we should try to provide them the necessary tools for returning back home, back to Godhead. We should be committed to making sure that the birth of our children will be the last birth they have to take. If one is Krishna conscious in this life, then they are assured of returning back to Krishna’s spiritual planet after death, where having once gone, one never returns. The best way to ensure our path to eternal heaven is for us to change our way of life now, instead of relying on the future services of our offspring. God is so nice that He gives us what we want. If we sincerely desire to return to His home, then He will give us the means to do so.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Chief of Staff

Lord Krishna “In some of the palaces He (Krishna) was found consulting with ministers like Uddhava and others on important matters of business.”  (Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 2, Ch 14)

In modern day politics, pollsters and campaign advisors play a pivotal role in determining the fate of a candidate. Winning or losing an election can hinge on the quality of a candidate’s trusted aide and their ability to sway the electorate in their favor.

Unlike previous times, today’s governments are primarily democracies, or some of form of them. The United States is a democratic republic, where representatives, elected by popular vote, run the country. Members of the House of Representatives are up for election every two years, the President every four years, and Senators every six years. Obviously, the way to win an election is to get more votes than your opponent. Campaigns today invest full faith and trust in advisors who conduct numerous focus groups and polls to get a pulse of the voting population and how they stand on various issues. The information gathered is then used in shaping the message of the candidate, which in turn determines the strategy for the targeted advertising campaign. In essence, the campaign advisors serve as the guru for the campaign.

Dick Morris was one such example of an effective campaign advisor. A pollster and strategist who worked for both Republicans and Democrats, Morris was hired by President Clinton in 1995 to help him recover from a disastrous midterm election in 1994. After two years in office, Clinton, a Democrat, lost control of both houses of Congress to the opposition party, the Republicans. He needed help in shaping his image and boosting his poll numbers. Morris immediately went to work, crafting a strategy that included year-round negative advertising directed towards the Republicans, along with policy changes involving the adoption of many Republican ideas. Clinton was up for reelection in 1996, so he wanted to make sure his popularity increased just in time for the vote. Late in 96, Clinton signed the Welfare Reform bill pushed by Republicans. This was much to the chagrin of Democrats, who opposed the legislation, but Morris thought it would be very beneficial for the upcoming election. The gamble paid off as Clinton easily won reelection, in large part due to the efforts of Morris.

Dick Morris and Bill Clinton While these advisors are definitely helpful in garnering votes, they fall short in actually helping a leader govern properly. According to Vedic philosophy, one shouldn’t be a king, a spiritual master, or parent unless they can deliver their dependents from the repeated cycle of birth and death. The Vedas tell us that we don’t actually get one life, but as many as we choose until we realize that our true happiness lies in God’s spiritual kingdom. It is thus the duty of the king or leader of a country to provide protection to his people and to impart on them this spiritual knowledge. The political arena is filled with career politicians and advisors. Mostly lawyers by trade, their expertise lies in being able to bend and shape the laws to the limit, almost to cheat in a sense. The most successful lawyers are the ones that can cheat the best. While cheating may be okay when practicing law, it proves very harmful when governing a country. A ruler should be the most upstanding citizen, completely dedicated to dharma, or religiosity. Presidents are role models since they spend so much time in the public eye. Every newspaper around the world chronicles the day to day activities of presidents. They cannot utter a word without it appearing in a newspaper or on television. For a ruler to govern properly, he requires the help of a spiritual guide, someone who knows right and wrong and the proper course of action under any and all circumstances.

Narada Muni speaking to King Yudhisthira "A king is not alone. He first has his spiritual master, the supreme guide. Then come his ministers, kingdom, his fortifications, his treasury, his system of law and order, and his friends or allies. If these seven are properly maintained, the king is happy. (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 6.14.17 Purport)

The Vedas declare that society should be divided up into four groups based on the qualities naturally found in people. We see that certain people are more pious than others, while some are more brave and courageous than others. We also see that certain people are more apt to be good businessmen, while others are better suited for performing difficult manual labor. These are all qualities found in people, so the scriptures tell us to have a society where these four divisions function fully and equally. The highest division is the brahmana, or priestly class. Brahmanas dedicate their lives to studying religion and imparting that knowledge to others. A bona fide brahmana is one who is a devotee of Lord Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. These devotees are the only people fit to advise the kshatriyas, the administrative class. All the great kings of the past had brahmanas in their court that served as their advisors. Advice given by the priests was always followed by the kings. One of the most famous royal dynasties was the Ikshvaku, which had the venerable sage Vashishta as its royal priest. There were many other famous brahmanas as well, who were all respected by the royal order. Since their only business is to serve God, their knowledge is perfect. A king or a president isn’t required to know all the ins and outs of governmental affairs or public policy. They simply require the counsel of these pious men who can solve all their problems. If a leader follows the proper course of action, the rest of the citizens will follow, and there will be peace and prosperity.

If a king doesn’t have a proper advisor, chaos ensues. We see this situation in place today. Our leaders today are constantly on television decrying the profits earned by businessmen, while they themselves are millionaires. They pit one group of people against another, declaring that over half the population is racist or bigoted. This sort of ignorance trickles down and eventually pervades society. What you are left with is a country where each person is suspect of one another.

Those who are God conscious should preach the message of peace and love found in the ancient scriptures of India, especially those found in the Shrimad Bhagavatam. All the information on how to properly run a government and make people happy is found in this book. For those not interested in reading, God has been kind enough to summarize all Vedic knowledge into one short phrase, the maha-mantra: “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”.

Lord Krishna Sixteen simple words represent our path to peace and prosperity. The best advice any president can be given is to always chant this mantra with faith and reverence, and all the world’s problems will soon disappear.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Persistence Is Key

Hanuman practicing yoga “One should engage oneself in the practice of yoga with undeviating determination and faith. One should abandon, without exception, all material desires born of false ego and thus control all the senses on all sides by the mind.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 6.24)

Persistence is a vital trait to have when one is striving for success. Persistence can be defined as the act of being steadfast and holding firm to a purpose or undertaking. No matter what venture we may undertake, we are bound to fail in our initial attempts. As infants, we had to learn to crawl before we learned to walk. Walking didn’t come easy either and we fell down many times while taking our first steps. We required training wheels when learning to ride our bicycles because we inevitably would fall off when first riding.

Being successful in any venture requires familiarity and intimate knowledge of the field of activity. Theoretical knowledge can be acquired by listening to others but practical knowledge only comes through experience. We have no experience when we first start something new, so we are destined to encounter a few bumps along the road. The key to being successful is remaining steadfast and determined with the aim of achieving our goal.

There are many examples in history of very famous and successful people who were failures in the beginning stages of their careers. Radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh now commands an average weekly audience of over twenty two million listeners across over six hundred radio stations in America. He is so successful that he singlehandedly revolutionized the radio industry and made talk radio one of the most lucrative career paths. Still, Rush started out as disc jockey and was fired an amazing seven times from various radio jobs. Many higher ups in the industry told him that he didn’t have what it took to be successful on radio and that he had poor communication skills. Yet Rush was very persistent and he eventually landed a successful local talk show which served as the launching pad for his career.

Shrila Prabhupada His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the founder-acharaya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, is one of the most famous devotees of Lord Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The swami, more affectionately known as Shrila Prabhupada, got the first inkling for preaching life when he met his spiritual master, Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati, at the age of twenty-two. Bhaktisiddhanta requested Shrila Prabhupada to translate the great Vedic texts into English and to preach the message of Lord Chaitanya in the Western countries. Shrila Prabhupada was initially hesitant to follow this instruction, but being a great devotee, he was very persistent in his service to Bhaktisiddhanta and to Krishna, and he steadily acquired knowledge of the mission of Lord Chaitanya as the years went by. Finally in the latter stages of his life, Shrila Prabhupada decided to take up the mission very seriously and he formed his own religious society in India, called The League of Devotees. Prabhupada desperately tried to spread the message of devotion to Krishna in India, but he saw very little success. He repeatedly pleaded with the Indian government to take his movement seriously, but they never did. So he instead turned his eye towards America.

After travelling on a steamship with nothing but six dollars in his pocket, the swami arrived in America to begin his preaching work. Even there, he struggled very hard at the beginning stages. He asked for help from his Godbrothers in India, but they never came through for him. Even a very wealthy man in India was ready to spend millions of dollars for building a Radha-Krishna temple in America, but the Indian government wouldn’t sanction the exchange of money. Not discouraged, Prabhupada continued his preaching mission all by himself. Through his hard work, his movement eventually took off, ISKCON was born, and the rest is history. The name of Krishna is now known throughout the world and it is all because of his tireless efforts along with the help of his disciples.

In the Treta Yuga, many thousands of years ago, Lord Krishna personally came to earth in the form of Lord Rama, a handsome prince dedicated to dharma. As part of His pastimes, the Lord voluntarily accepted banishment to the forest by His father, Maharaja Dashratha, the king of Ayodhya. Lord Rama was married to His wife Sita at the time, and he instructed her not to follow Him to the forest, and he asked her to serve the other members of the family while He was away. According to Vedic philosophy, God is rarely worshiped alone, for He is always seen with His pleasure potency, manifested in the form of a woman. God is the energetic, and His pleasure potency is His energy, similar to the concept of the woman being the better half of a man. Lord Narayana, Krishna’s four-handed expansion, is in charge of the universe. Narayana’s pleasure potency is Goddess Lakshmi, and Sita Devi was the incarnation of the very same Lakshmi, appearing in human form. Being God’s energy, known as hladini-shakti, Sita was completely devoted to Rama in every respect. The thought of being separated from Him was just terrifying.

“I shall therefore obtain permission and go, O dearly beloved, to the forest with you; nothing can make it otherwise.” (Sita Devi speaking to Lord Rama, Valmiki Ramayana, Ayodhya Kand, Sec 27)

Sita Rama In response to Lord Rama’s initial request for her to remain in the kingdom, Sita gave a series of arguments referencing Vedic tenets, which were all in favor of her coming along. These arguments were flawless, but the Lord was very concerned with how such a delicate and beautiful princess could survive in the wilderness. Sita was born and raised in the royal court of Maharaja Janaka of Mithila. After getting married, she then lived the most exalted life as the wife of the eldest son of Maharaja Dashratha. Being a woman, she was not given the traditional training by a guru in her youth, and thus Rama assumed that forest life would be very difficult for her. Life in the wilderness is meant for wild animals, beasts, and people who have completely renounced the pleasures of material sense gratification.

Lord Rama felt justified in his hesitance to bring His wife along, so He rejected these first set of arguments, and reiterated to Sita the dangers of forest life. Yet she wasn’t deterred in any way by Rama. In fact, she redoubled her efforts and put forth even more arguments in her favor. Sita was completely devoted to Rama, thus she wasn’t going to take “no” for an answer.

The lesson we can learn from this is that success in spiritual life takes great perseverance. In the initial stages, there are many rules and regulations that we must strictly follow. Shrila Prabhupada taught all his disciples to abstain from the four pillars of sinful life, namely: meat eating, intoxication, gambling, and illicit sex. In conjunction with this, disciples were required to perform at least sixteen rounds of chanting the Maha-Mantra, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”, on a japa mala. One round of japa consists of one hundred and eight recitations of a mantra, so multiplying one hundred eight by sixteen gives the minimum number of mantra recitations prescribed for a daily routine. For anyone accustomed to the materialistic life of the modern age, such regulations seem almost impossible to adhere to. Yet thousands of people have learned to follow them, many of whom were not even raised in Indian families.

Krishna and ArjunaPerseverance and patience yield results, thus making them a vital requirement for one seeking spiritual advancement. We are likely to fall down in our initial attempts, but we should at no point give up. Unlike other endeavors where we lose everything if we aren’t able to see things to the end, there is no loss in devotional service. If we aren’t perfect devotees by the end of our current lives, we get to start from where we left off in our next life. Lord Krishna gave this very instruction to Arjuna in the Bhagavad-gita.

“The unsuccessful yogi, after many, many years of enjoyment on the planets of the pious living entities, is born into a family of righteous people, or into a family of rich aristocracy. Or he takes his birth in a family of transcendentalists who are surely great in wisdom. Verily, such a birth is rare in this world. On taking such a birth, he again revives the divine consciousness of his previous life, and he tries to make further progress in order to achieve complete success, O son of Kuru.” (Bg. 6.41-43)

Sita Devi was so in love with Rama that it pained her greatly that He would even think of living without her. When we love someone with all our heart, we always hope and pray that they love us just the same. Sita was so hurt by Rama’s suggestion that she remain in the kingdom, but nevertheless, her love for Him didn’t diminish in any way. She confidently stuck to the path of devotional service, and she boldly declared that the Lord could do nothing to stop her from going. She purchased Rama with her love and He was compelled to bring her along to the forest. We should all follow Sita’s example and boldly declare our love for Krishna and constantly remind Him that we will never leave His side and never stop thinking about Him, no matter what condition we may be in.