Saturday, November 28, 2009

Rules For Reading

Prahlada Maharaja “This Nrsimha-kavaca has been ornamented and blessed by Prahlada Maharaja. A devotee who reads this becomes freed from all sins.” (Sri Nrsimha-kavaca-stotram)

Many of the great Vedic texts are often recited in public. People gather round to hear the Ramacharitamanasa or Valmiki Ramayana recited continuously over a set period, usually over several days. While these recitations certainly benefit both the reader and the listeners, the great Vedic texts were written so as to allow us to connect with God on a daily basis.

The books themselves give guidelines for recitation. The Ramacharitamanasa was written by Goswami Tulsidas, who himself gave guidelines on how to recite his work in public. His book and many other Vedic stories declare that anyone who hears them with faith and devotion will have various material rewards bestowed on them. Narada Muni declared that anyone who heard the story of Lord Rama, as told in the Valmiki Ramayana, would enjoy felicity in heaven with all of their relatives.

Other stories found in the various Puranas also make similar statements. There are various kavachas, which are prayers dedicated to various forms of God, which act as shields to the reader. For example, the Sri Nrsimha-kavaca-stotram, as told by Prahlada Maharaja, grants many benedictions to one who recites it regularly:

“(For those who read this kavacha)…Whatever one desires in this world he can definitely attain without doubt. One can have wealth, many sons, and a long life. He becomes victorious who desires victory, and he indeed becomes a conqueror. He wards off the evil influences of all planets, earthly, heavenly, and everything in between.” (Sri Nrsimha-kavaca-stotram)

Narasimha Deva blessing Prahlada These statements are undoubtedly true. However, one should not think that simply by reading these books, one will automatically receive these benefits. The key lies in the fact that hearing these stories with faith and reverence will serve as a mechanism for reawakening one’s spiritual consciousness. At our core, we are all spirit souls, part and parcel of Lord Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Through contact with material nature since time immemorial, we living entities have forgotten our relationship with God. The Vedas, which are the ultimate form of knowledge and truth passed down from God Himself, offer us a way to reconnect with God.

The various material rewards offered at the end of these stories act as an enticement to the karmi. One who works on the platform of karma, fruitive activity, is known as a karmi. Almost every person is a karmi since we are all working towards advancing different forms of sense gratification. Students are studying hard so that they can have a nice career when they grow older. Workers put in long hours at the office so they can support their family. Having a big house, a nice car, and a beautiful family are all symbols of success in material life. These things aren’t bad, but they are temporary. The material rewards of dharma (religiosity), artha (economic development), and kama (sense gratification) are not the ultimate aim of life. We may be very pious in our current life and thereby ascend to heaven after death, but residence there is not permanent. The great King Yayati had to fall down back to earth after the merits from his good deeds expired.

“Men of small knowledge are very much attached to the flowery words of the Vedas, which recommend various fruitive activities for elevation to heavenly planets, resultant good birth, power, and so forth. Being desirous of sense gratification and opulent life, they say that there is nothing more than this.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.42-43)

Lord Krishna Bhagavata-dharma, or devotional service is the ultimate aim of life. In the material world, conjugal love is the highest form of sense pleasure. In a similar manner, pure love for God is the highest rasa, or transcendental mellow. In the body of a human being, we have the best chance to forge ahead and rekindle our love for God. Nevertheless, not everyone will take to Bhagavata-dharma initially. We are so attached to our karmic way of life, that it is hard to break free. For this reason, God has provided a gradual stepping stone process, known as karma kanda. This is the section of the Vedas that deals with various sacrifices and rituals aimed at procuring material benedictions. God is basically saying, “Ok, you want material happiness? Fine, but you should at least remember that all things good and bad come from Me. Worship the various demigods, My deputies, and they will give you whatever you want, though it is sanctioned by me.” That is a fact that often gets overlooked. The various demigods, Lord Shiva, Ganesha, Brahma, Indra, etc., they all bestow various material benedictions to their devotees. However, these boons only come after Lord Krishna sanctions them:

“I am in everyone's heart as the Supersoul. As soon as one desires to worship the demigods, I make his faith steady so that he can devote himself to some particular deity. Endowed with such a faith, he seeks favors of a particular demigod and obtains his desires. But in actuality these benefits are bestowed by Me alone.” (Lord Krishna, Bg. 7.21-22)

There are many of these karma kanda type rituals prescribed for householders. Lord Rama, an incarnation of Krishna, even performed these rituals Himself during His time on earth. While travelling through the forest with His wife Sita Devi and younger brother Lakshmana, the group would always ask for the blessings of various demigods whenever they would set up a new cottage. Sita Devi was so great that she would regularly pray to the Ganges River, who is known as the demigod Ganga Devi, to protect her husband. She asked the demigods to help Rama, who was God. That is the highest form of demigod worship.

Lord Satyanarayana Puja Today, probably the most widely performed householder ritual is the Satyanarayana Vrata. Many great Hindu personalities have described in detail how one should perform this Vrata, which includes preparing certain types of food and reading various stories from the Skanda Purana. These rituals are definitely beneficial, and those who perform it certainly shouldn’t give them up. However, we should all remember that if we want to make the most of this human form of life, we have to rise above these rituals.

Bhakti yoga, having a pure love for God, is the topmost Vedic discipline, transcendental to all Vedic rituals. All the great books of Vyasadeva, Valmiki, Tulsidas, and others, were written to allow one to connect with God. The Lord isn’t always physically present before us, but through His holy name, He can come to us very quickly. In this age, chanting is the prescribed method for transcendental realization. There are no rules and regulations applied to chanting. One can chant the holy names of the Lord anywhere and everywhere. Reading is just as good as chanting. Knowing this, we should read the great Vedic texts as often as we can, not just once a year. Anyone can start reading at any time of the year, for God is always waiting for us to come to Him.

Friday, November 27, 2009


Lord Krishna expanding Himself “Any material arrangement for protecting oneself from death is always unsure, but if one is in Krishna consciousness, then immortality is confidently assured.”  (Shrila Prabhupada, Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 1, Ch 12)

At some point in their life, almost every person comes to the realization that man is mortal. Death is guaranteed. We are all going to die eventually; a conclusion that can be reached through a simple study of history. Our forefathers have all passed on, and we even witness the untimely deaths of friends and family members. Since the beginning of time, man has tried to change this fact by finding ways to achieve immortality. Yet each and every one of these attempts has met with failure.

“Scientist Ray Kurzweil claims humans could become immortal in as little as 20 years' time through nanotechnology and an increased understanding of how the body works.” (Willis, Immortality only 20 years away says scientist)

Now scientists are stating that man can achieve immortality as soon as twenty years from now. The scientific research game is very popular, with new discoveries coming out every day. The last two hundred years have seen unprecedented advancement in technology, with new inventions in the areas of transportation and communication. Science and medicine also have made much advancement. The life expectancy in America now is as high as it has ever been. Inevitably, scientists are bound to become puffed up and think that they can achieve the impossible…immortality.

The above reference story declares that through nanotechnology and artificial organs, man will be able to ostensibly live forever. These hopes represent the extreme ignorance of much of the science community. Life comes from life, not from matter. The essence of a person is the spirit soul that resides within the body. God, through His various energies, decides which souls get placed into which bodies. Through these same energies, the soul is released from the body at an appropriate time. This event is known as death. No scientific invention can stop this. Death is guaranteed, along with birth, old age, and disease.

The Bhagavad-gita, the Song of God, contains all the information one needs regarding the soul. Since it is spoken by God Himself, Lord Krishna, the knowledge contained within it is perfect and flawless. At the time of death, the soul sheds the current body and receives a new one based on karma. Fruitive activity performed with a desired material result is the definition of karma. In a nutshell, any activity done for our own satisfaction can be classified as karma. Every action has an equal and appropriate reaction. God measures our desires at the time of death, and gives us an appropriate new life:

“As a person puts on new garments, giving up old ones, similarly, the soul accepts new material bodies, giving up the old and useless ones…Whatever state of being one remembers when he quits his body, that state he will attain without fail.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.22,8.6)

Lord Krishna God is so nice to us. He has given us such wonderful instructions in the Bhagavad-gita and other Vedic texts, yet most of the world chooses to ignore them. While it is certainly an error for the scientists to believe man can become immortal, the root of the problem lies in their desire to live forever. Usually done out of fear, people want to live forever because they don’t know anything outside of their personal experiences in this lifetime. The true fact of the matter is that we have all suffered through many many births. This current life isn’t the first one we’ve had. If we still have material desires at the time of death, we are guaranteed to take birth again.

The point of human life is to break out of this perpetual cycle of birth and death. The scientists and karmis don’t realize this. They are very attached to their lifestyle of eating, sleeping, mating and defending. They can’t imagine what will happen to them after they die. They fear losing their precious accumulated possessions. One simply has to apply a little common sense to come to the proper platform of understanding. This life of sense gratification wasn’t actually created by us. We know this from experience since life on earth continues after other people die. Naturally, all our precious possessions will remain here after we die, so how can we claim proprietorship over them? There must be a higher power that created everything before our birth. That higher power is God.

This material world isn’t meant to be our permanent residence. It is sort of a prison house, a place for souls to go and enjoy temporary fleeting happiness. There are 8,400,000 varieties of species, but the human form of life is unique in that we have the intelligence to able to adapt our lifestyle in a way to permanently remove ourselves from this material world. This information is also given in the Bhagavad-gita. Lord Krishna declares that one should become His devotee and try to think of Him at the time of death. One who follows this path will never have to take birth again:

“And whoever, at the time of death, quits his body, remembering Me alone, at once attains My nature. Of this there is no doubt…That abode of Mine is not illumined by the sun or moon, nor by electricity. One who reaches it never returns to this material world.” (Bg. 8.5, 15.6)

Hanuman meditating on Sita and Rama Even if we could stay here forever, why would we want to? Scientists have found ways to prolong life, but they have yet to find a way to stop disease and old age. We see that the elderly have a very rough time of it, hobbling around on walkers, always taking various medications. Actually, death is almost a beneficial thing to us, since it is nature’s way of discarding a body that is no longer useful. Just as we get rid of worn out clothes and buy new ones, nature gives us a new body once our current one ceases to be useful to us. Trying to artificially extend life is a way of going against the laws of nature.

According to Vedic information, Lord Krishna is the reservoir of all pleasure. Association with Him brings transcendental bliss which is the source of ultimate happiness. The Lord ‘s body is described as sach-chid-ananda-vigraha because it is eternally blissful and full of knowledge. Our bodies, on the other hand, are full of ignorance and misery. It is only through contact with the Supreme Lord that we can achieve true peace and happiness. Those very fortunate devotees who associated with the Lord during His previous incarnations got to experience this bliss firsthand. Lord Krishna personally came to this earth some five thousand years ago. Those who associated with Him in Vrindavana and Mathura were always happy. Some would play with Him, others would dance with Him, while others acted as His parents. These are the different rasas, or transcendental mellows, that one can experience. In fact, the pastimes of the Lord are occurring regularly in the spiritual world. Everything in this universe is but a reflection of the things existing in the spiritual world but in a purified form.

“The Absolute Truth must be the original source of everything” (Vedatana-sutra)

Krishna and His eternal pastimes For true immortality, we don’t have to look to science. One can live eternally with God after this life is over. That is God’s promise to us. If we become sincere devotees then He will deliver us from any calamity. God is very kind, for He gives us what we want. Those who want immortality in the material world are granted this wish through the process of reincarnation. The soul remains the same, so in actuality, a person who is perpetually taking birth in the material world can be thought of as being immortal. Yet a wise man will realize that true happiness can only come from God, who is also known as Rama, meaning one who gives pleasure. The aim of our life should be to work towards achieving the goal of returning back home, back to Godhead. Luckily we don’t need to perform any research in this matter, for Lord Chaitanya has shown us the way. In this age of Kali, the process of regularly chanting the holy names of God, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare” will reward us with Krishna prema, something far more valuable than immortality.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Mother of the World

Sita Devi “Shrimati Sitadevi is the mother of the three worlds and the wife of Lord Ramachandra. Among chaste women she is supreme, and she is the daughter of King Janaka.” (Chaitanya Charitamrita, Madhya 9.201)

Maharaja Dashratha, the king of Ayodhya many thousands of years ago, was on the precipice of installing his eldest son, Lord Rama, as the new king, when at the last moment he changed his mind. Dashratha instead decided to hand over the crown to Rama’s younger brother Bharata, and coupled with that decision was the order for Rama to live in the forest as an exile for fourteen years. Lord Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, advented on earth as Lord Rama to reinstitute the principles of dharma and to kill the evil demon Ravana.

Since the Lord was completely dedicated to piety and obeying His father’s commands, He was more than happy to accept such an order from Dashratha. The one problem He had was that His wife, Sita Devi, was sure to be aggrieved by the situation. Lord Rama was Krishna’s expansion on earth, and Sita Devi was Goddess Lakshmi’s expansion. In the spiritual world, Lord Narayana, Krishna’s four-handed form, is always served by Goddess Lakshmi, also known as the goddess of wealth or fortune. God is the energetic, and His immediate expansions such as Radharani and Lakshmi are His energy. Sita’s role in the material world was the same as that in the spiritual world, to serve and love God. At the time of this incident, Sita and Rama had already been married for several years. She was the perfect wife and devotee and was completely dedicated to her husband. When Lord Rama told her the news, she insisted on serving the exile period with Him. The Lord however, begged her to desist. He told her that it was her to duty to serve the new king, Bharata, and his immediate family members. In reality, Dashratha indeed wanted Rama to be the new king, but on a previous occasion he had promised his youngest wife, Kaikeyi, any two boons of her choosing. Kaikeyi was Bharata’s mom, and at the instigation of her servant Manthara, she became incited with a jealous rage. Due to her envy, she wanted her son Bharata to be the king instead, so she cashed in on her two boons right before Rama was to be coronated. Fearing that Rama would object to the decision, she requested as her second boon, the banishment of Rama to the forest. Dashratha was a very pious king in his own right, one in a long line of noble rulers known as the Ikshvakus. In those days, a king’s word meant everything, so he was compelled to grant Kaikeyi her wishes.

“O, sinless one, do you become subservient and serviceable to him whose pleasure you bid me seek, and for whom you have suffered yourself to be impeded (in the installation)?” (Sita Devi speaking to Lord Rama, Valmiki Ramayana, Ayodhya Kand, Sec 29)

Rama Darbar In the above referenced quote, Sita Devi is reminding her husband that the same people who put Him in this predicament, namely Kaikeyi and Bharata, would be the new rulers of the kingdom. She was asking Him why He had become subservient to the same people that caused Him this hardship. In reality, Lord Rama was right in trusting Bharata, for His younger brother was just as dedicated to Him as anyone else. While these events were unfolding, Bharata was in a different part of the country, visiting the kingdom of his father-in-law. He did not receive news of the events until later on. Lord Rama, His wife Sita, and His younger brother Lakshmana would eventually repair to the forest. Dashratha would quit his body due to feelings of separation from Rama, and it was after this that Bharata was summoned home. Seeing what had happened, Bharata was sorely distressed and he scolded his mother. He had no desire to rule the kingdom, thus he immediately set out for the forest to find Rama. Upon meeting the Lord in Chitrakuta, Bharata begged Him to return to the kingdom and rule over it. The two parties were at an impasse until finally a compromise was reached. Rama would be installed as the king in spirit, but would remain in the forest to serve the exile period. Bharata would return to the kingdom with Rama’s sandals. These sandals would symbolically govern the kingdom until the Lord’s actual return. Bharata, for his part, refused to govern in Rama’s absence, so he took to meditating on the Lord’s feet for the duration of the exile period.

Sita Devi’s statement to the Lord was part of a series of arguments intended to get Him to change His mind about not letting her come with Him. In the end, the arguments proved most effective since Rama was forced to acquiesce. Though Bharata was a pure devotee of the Lord, Sita’s statement actually has a larger meaning. She was basically asking Rama, “Why do you want both of us to be subservient to people who acted against You? That is not right.” Sita, who was shy and quiet by nature, was just as dedicated to the rules of dharma as her husband was. As the wife of the eldest son in the family, she gladly served Rama’s mothers and obeyed their every word. In reality, she only acted this way because that was how her husband wanted her to act. In the Vedic tradition, a wife is instructed to view her husband as her only deity. The wife serves the husband and the husband protects the wife; these are the prescribed duties in a marriage. Not only was Rama her husband, but He was God Himself, so Sita had no problem worshipping Him alone. Since she was only dedicated to Him, she had great difficulty acknowledging or respecting anyone who was inimical towards her husband. This is the example that we should all follow, for we should not respect anyone who has animosity towards Krishna or looks unfavorably upon Him. There are many such people like this in today’s world, for atheism is steadily gaining in popularity. We live in the most advanced technological age where there is ample opportunity for sense gratification. In America, people have become so prosperous materially, that one of the biggest perceived problems is childhood obesity. People mistakenly think that they are the cause of such wealth and abundance, but in actuality, everything comes from God, and forgetting that fact can be very costly.

The demon Ravana was the quintessential atheist. A devout materialist, he used his immense strength and prowess to accumulate vast amounts of wealth. Thinking Himself invincible, he was ultimately undone by his kidnapping of Sita. Sita represents wealth and prosperity, and by stealing her, he had to suffer at the hands of God Himself in the form of Lord Rama. Ravana’s entire kingdom was destroyed, and he was forced suffer the pain of death, at which point all his wealth became meaningless. Those associated with Ravana also had to suffer for his mistakes. Ravana’s brother Vibhishana however, joined forces with Lord Rama right before it was too late. Since he was a great devotee of the Lord, Vibhishana didn’t suffer the same fate as Ravana. Instead, Lord Rama handed over to him the kingdom of Lanka after Ravana’s death.

Sita Devi So the lesson to be learned is that we should all avoid the association of the Ravanas of the world, and instead befriend those who are devoted to Krishna. One should avoid intimate association with the atheist class of men if one wishes to make serious spiritual advancement. People who are dedicated to sense gratification may not be bad people per se, but they will have different interests than people who are Krishna conscious. Generally speaking, people who are working hard for sense gratification, the karmis, seek pleasure through the four pillars of sinful life, namely meat eating, intoxication, gambling, and illicit sex. If a devotee regularly associates with such people, these bad traits are sure to rub off, causing the devotee to fall down from the spiritual platform. People dedicated to Krishna seek pleasure by serving the lotus feet of the Lord. These are the people we should associate with and learn from. Lord Chaitanya and all the great acharyas agree that the highest boon in life is to have association with saintly people, Krishna bhaktas. Sita Devi is one of God’s greatest devotees, and by reading about her activities, we can have direct association with her. Following her lead and learning from her example, we are sure to become great devotees too.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving 2009

 Radha Krishna “Of all that is material and all that is spiritual in this world, know for certain that I am both its origin and dissolution.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.6)

Thanksgiving is one of the more popular holidays in America. Celebrated annually in the month of November, it is best known for food and family. Though the holiday has evolved into an annual tradition of families getting together, Thanksgiving started as a religious holiday.

The Thanksgiving weekend is known as the largest travel weekend of the year in America. Since the holiday always occurs on a Thursday, the Wednesday before and the Sunday after are two of the single largest travel days of the year. People travel far and wide to be with their families to celebrate this festive occasion. It is such a deep rooted tradition, that many married couples have trouble deciding which family they will spend Thanksgiving with, the husband’s or the wife’s. The cornerstone of the holiday celebration is the Thanksgiving meal. Turkey is the traditional main course, along with side dishes including stuffing, cranberry sauce, cornbread, pumpkin pie, etc. Families settle in for the meal and eat as much as they can, for all this sumptuous food is made to be enjoyed. Afterwards, the male members of the family usually settle down on the couch and watch football. Thanksgiving is such a popular holiday that it is even celebrated by people outside of the Christian faith. The name of the holiday gives us hints into its origin. The real meaning of Thanksgiving is to give thanks to God.

A long time ago, during the early 1600s, the Pilgrims settled on this land known as America. They had fled from England due to restrictions imposed on their religious practices. The Pilgrims wanted to have religious freedom so they bravely journeyed across the Atlantic Ocean in hopes of a better life. This is the natural yearning spirit of man. Aside from wanting freedom, man wants to be religious, for that is his nature. The Vedas, the ancient scriptures of India, tell us that each living entity is constitutionally a part and parcel of the Supreme Lord Shri Krishna. Due to contact with nature, the soul accepts different types of bodies based on qualities and desires. Though it is the tendency of the living entity to forget its original position as servitor to the Supreme Lord, an inkling of that devotion to God still exists inside the body. In every living entity, there exist two souls. The atma is the soul that represents the living entity’s identity. Along with the soul, there is the Supersoul, also known as the Paramatma. The Supersoul is God’s expansion. It is the presence of the Supersoul that allows the living entity to have any God consciousness at all. In the purified state, the living entity becomes fully conscious of the Supersoul and thus takes direction from Him. Most of us are in the conditioned state where we are forgetful of our relationship with God. Nevertheless, mankind’s true nature is to be Krishna conscious.

Pilgrims arrive on the Mayflower Life in the New World was initially very difficult for the Pilgrims. When they arrived in America, they were met with harsh conditions. Many of them died during the first winter due to sickness. They had expected to find paradise, but all they encountered was hardship. William Bradford was the governor of the new colony and he described the early events in his diary. The Pilgrims’ trip to America was sponsored by merchants in England, so there was immediately a debt that needed to be repaid. The Pilgrims decided to have a socialist/collectivist style of government where the community, or the state, owned everything. Each person worked as hard as they desired, but the fruits of their work were all placed in a common store to be divided equally amongst the citizens. This system didn’t work very well since the output of food wasn’t very high. Bradford realized that people had no incentive to work harder than anyone else.

"The experience that was had in this common course and condition, tried sundry years ... that by taking away property, and bringing community into common wealth, would make them happy and flourishing – as if they were wiser than God…For this community [so far as it was] was found to breed much confusion and discontent, and retard much employment that would have been to their benefit and comfort. For young men that were most able and fit for labor and service did repine that they should spend their time and strength to work for other men's wives and children without any recompense ... that was thought injustice." (William Bradford)

To remedy the situation, Bradford decided to unleash the power of freedom and free enterprise. After all, they had escaped England to seek out freedom in the New World. Bradford assigned each person their own plot of land. People were then allowed to keep whatever they produced. A tremendous harvest resulted. The output was so great that the Pilgrims were able to pay off their debts to the English merchants much sooner than expected. They now had an overabundance of food, which they then used to trade for goods with the local Indians and other citizens.

"This had very good success, for it made all hands industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been." (William Bradford)

The first Thanksgiving This shouldn’t be surprising to anyone. Lord Krishna, God Himself, single-handedly maintains millions of planets in the air. At the same time, food for the 8,400,000 varieties of species is also taken care of by God. Birds, tigers, reptiles, and even ants, none of them rely on any economic systems to provide for their food. Animals don’t require a Federal Reserve Chairman, elaborate tax schemes, large government bailouts, or a big economic summit to solve their eating problem. God takes care of all that. The human society should be no different. The starvation problems we see today are often attributed to overpopulation or the uneven distribution of wealth. These excuses are simply bogus. In terms of economics, It is the inherent nature of man to want to provide for himself and for his family. A government’s role is not to check this desire unnaturally, but rather to ensure that innocent life is protected and that transactions take place voluntarily. Such conditions will always result in an abundant food supply.

Even with this new free market system, the Pilgrims weren’t silly enough to think that all this food came solely through their own efforts. They held the first Thanksgiving celebration as a way to thank God for the great harvest.

“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.” (Bg. 3.27)

Lord Krishna Thanking God in this way represents an elevated level of consciousness. Pure devotees of Lord Krishna act in a similar manner, except they take things one step further. The Lord is the primary source for everything. In His expansion as Lord Vishnu, God simply exhales once to create innumerable universes. Thus everything in this world can be attributed to Him. Food is our lifeline. Without it, we couldn’t survive. For this reason, a smart person will thank God for any and all food they receive. In the Vedic tradition, devotees take things one step further by offering food to the Lord.

“If one offers Me with love and devotion a leaf, a flower, fruit, or water, I will accept it.” (Bg. 9.26)

Devotees of Lord Krishna try to eat as much prasadam as possible. This is a higher form of worship than simply asking God to supply us food or even thanking Him for what He gives us. Since He is the source of everything, why not offer food to Him? Preparing elegant and sumptuous meals for our family is certainly a nice thing, but doing the same for God is an even higher practice. “Here God, I prepared this elaborate food for You because I love You and I want You to be happy. You have been kind enough to allow me to always think of You, so I am trying to repay that kindness by offering You this nice dish that I prepared specifically for You.”

To those unfamiliar with Vedic traditions, this practice may seem strange. The food is offered to a picture or deity of the Lord. Some may take the deity to be stone or wood, but it is actually an authorized form of God. Lord Krishna Himself authorized this practice of deity worship when He personally appeared on earth some five thousand years ago. It’s not as if devotees simply take anything and turn it into an idol. Rather, the deity is treated to be as good as God Himself, for there are specific procedures in place to maintain the deity. When vegetarian food is prepared and offered by a devotee, the Lord eats the food by glancing over it. God doesn’t require hands or a mouth to eat. Since He is omnipotent and supremely powerful, He can eat with His eyes. After the Lord eats the food, He leaves the remnants for us to partake in. This leftover food is known as prasadam, meaning the Lord’s mercy.

Krishna eating lunch with friendsThanksgiving day is so nice because it gives people an opportunity to give thanks to God for all His blessings. Many families have a tradition where they go around the dinner table asking each family member what they are thankful for. This Thanksgiving, we are thankful for everything God has given us, but most of all, we are thankful that He allows us to remember Him. Krishna is so kind that, in this age, He appears in the form of His holy name. By regularly chantingHare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”, we can give thanks every day.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Good Association

Prahlada Maharaja - a true saint “The value of a moment's association with the devotee of the Lord cannot even be compared to the attainment of heavenly planets or liberation from matter, and what to speak of worldly benedictions in the form of material prosperity, which are for those who are meant for death.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 1.18.13)

According to the Vedas, the highest benediction in life is to have association with the saints. Saints are considered the saviors in this world, rescuing those with whom they come into contact.

The importance of having association with saintly people can be understood by examining our own lives. We are all influenced by our surroundings, and more specifically by the behavior of those around us. Our friends and family play a vital role in molding us and shaping our personalities. One need only look to professional sports to see examples of this. Tiger Woods, the famous golfer, was influenced by his father’s passion for golf. As a young child less than two years of age, Tiger one day, without cajoling, grabbed his father’s golf clubs and began to swing them. Wanting to imitate his father, Tiger took a great interest in the game as a young child and the rest was history. Children are a reflection of their parents, as is commonly believed. This fact is easy to understand since our parents are our first teachers and role models.

The Vedas, the ancient scriptures of India, declare that saintly people are those who are Krishna, or God conscious. Someone may be very pious, kind-hearted, and devoted to benevolence, but that by itself doesn’t grant them the status of sainthood. We may come in contact with such pious people, but such association won’t benefit us greatly in the long run, since pious deeds by themselves don’t lead one to perfection.

“The Vedas mainly deal with the subject of the three modes of material nature. Rise above these modes, O Arjuna. Be transcendental to all of them. Be free from all dualities and from all anxieties for gain and safety, and be established in the Self.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.45)

Krishna and Arjuna Pious activity falls in the category of the mode of goodness, which is material and not spiritual. This material world is made up of three gunas, or qualities. They are goodness, passion, and ignorance. Living entities possess these qualities to varying degrees, a fact which accounts for the 8,400,000 different species of life. God is so kind that He takes stock of our qualities and desires and rewards us with a body fit to fulfill those desires. Following scriptural rules and regulations, kindness, and being charitable are all qualities in the mode of goodness; a mode which is considered the highest of the three gunas. The problem with material qualities is that they all have karma associated with it. Karma is fruitive activity or works performed with a desired result in mind. Since even pious people have material desires, they are forced to accept another body after death by taking birth again in the material world. People engaged in the mode of goodness, which is known as sattva-guna, ascend to the heavenly planets after death, but residence there is not permanent. The merits earned by their pious deeds have a shelf life, and upon expiry of those merits, the living entity falls back down to the material world taking birth in a rich aristocratic family or a family which is God conscious.

The Vedas consider Krishna, or God conscious people to be above the three material qualities. Since they are engaged fully in serving the Supreme Lord, the acts of devotees are considered spiritual and on the platform of pure goodness, which is above regular goodness. Outwardly, such people may appear the same as materially pious people. This is because truly saintly people automatically acquire all good qualities as a result of their service to God. Krishna is the supreme pure, thus anyone who constantly associates with Him through devotional service naturally will inherit those pure qualities. Maharishi Valmiki provides a beautiful description on the qualities of a bhakta, or devotee, in a conversation with Lord Rama that appears in the Ramayana of Tulsidas, better known as the Ramacharitamanasa.

“O, Rama, conceiving with pleasure that your company is a heaven to me and your absence a hell. If you do not take me to the forest which I count freed from all evils, surely I shall drink poison and never come under the influence of my enemies.” (Sita Devi speaking to Lord Rama, Valmiki Ramayana, Ayodhya Kand, Sec 30)

Sita Devi Sita Devi was one such saintly person, a pure devotee who appeared on earth many thousands of years ago. Lord Krishna had decided to personally appear on earth in the form of Lord Rama to reinstitute the laws of dharma, or religiosity, and Sita’s appearance coincided with His. In the spiritual world, Goddess Lakshmi is Lord Narayana’s wife, so she decided to incarnate as Sita to perform the same role in the material world. Narayana is one of Krishna’s forms, so He is non-different from God. As part of His pastimes, Lord Rama accepted an order of banishment from the kingdom by His father, Maharaja Dashratha. Dashratha, the king of Ayodhya, was forced to give such an order due to a request made by his youngest wife, Kaikeyi. Rama had no problem with the request, but He knew His wife Sita wouldn’t react well to the situation. After hearing the news from her husband, Sita actually had no problem with the order either since she fully expected to accompany Rama during His exile. The Lord however insisted that she remain in the kingdom and serve the royal family. Sita had no desire to do this, and the above referenced quote makes that clear.

She believed that there was no good reason for the Lord to not take her with Him. She openly declared that she wasn’t afraid of forest life, for she would be by her husband’s side, which meant that life would always be pleasant. This is the mood of a pure devotee. They are completely happy in any condition of life as long as God is with them. As part of her plea to convince her husband to change His mind, Sita declared that she would rather kill herself than remain in the kingdom to serve her enemies. In Sita’s mind, her enemies were those people who came up with the idea of the Lord’s banishment, Kaikeyi and Dashratha. Kaikeyi’s son Bharata, who was also Rama’s younger brother, was set to be installed as the new king instead of Rama and for this reason, Sita viewed both Kaikeyi and Bharata as enemies. In actuality, Dashratha and Bharata were great devotees of the Lord who wanted Rama to be king. In Sita’s mind however, she viewed them as enemies because they directly and indirectly caused harm to the Lord.

Though her assessment may not have been correct, her mindset was exemplary. Being a pure devotee of the Lord, she viewed anyone who was inimical to Rama as an enemy and refused to have association with them. A devotee would rather die than spend time around God’s enemies. No greater enemies of God exist than the atheists. Sita would back up her strong words when she was later kidnapped and imprisoned by the evil Rakshasa demon Ravana. A committed atheist and enemy of Lord Rama, Ravana lustily desired conjugal relations with Sita, but she flat out refused. He made threat after threat, but Sita never feared him, for she was ready to take her own life rather than succumb to such a person. In the end, Rama would save her and kill Ravana. Though it appeared that it was Rama’s arrows that killed Ravana in battle, it was Sita and her devotion to God that were the actual instruments of Ravana’s death. Pure goodness always triumphs over evil.

Sita Rama In today’s world, the prevalence of atheism is rampant, with many declaring there is no God, that God is dead, or that we are all God. Many proudly flaunt their disobedience to the rules and regulations of the scriptures. We should all follow Sita Devi’s lead and refuse to have intimate association with such people, and instead avail ourselves of the dust of the lotus feet of the true saints. Though we may not have the opportunity to meet a pure devotee face to face, we can have a connection with them through reading and hearing. A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, Goswami Tulsidas, and Vyasadeva are all great saints who have written voluminous literature about Krishna and devotion to Him. One can read their books and immediately develop a friendship with them, for they live eternally through their writings. They are bona-fide spiritual masters who continue to teach to any who are willing to listen. Being blessed with the good fortune of having taken birth in this age of advanced technology, where their works are so easily available to us, we should all make the most of this opportunity. Real saints set the best example that, when followed, prove to be most beneficial to us.

Monday, November 23, 2009


Krishna's universal form “A devotee advanced on the spiritual platform sees everything movable and inert as the Supreme Lord. For him, everything he sees here and there is but a manifestation of Lord Krishna.” (Lord Chaitanya, Chaitanya Charitamrita, Madhya 8.273)

Question: “I’ve been told that one cannot convert to Hinduism; that they must be born into it? Is this true?”

Answer: This is a commonly asked question which has a serious flaw in its premise. Hinduism itself is actually a term adopted only in the recent past by people who could not accurately describe the ancient religious traditions of India. The Vedas are the original scriptures for all of mankind originating out of India, and their teachings apply to everyone.

Hinduism today is actually a religious discipline that differs greatly from the original Vedas. This same issue exists with other major religions of the world such as Christianity and Judaism. Veda means knowledge, so the Vedas themselves represent the original knowledge system passed down from God. Somehow or other, the original teachings of the Vedas have been jumbled and misinterpreted into what is today known as Hinduism. There is no actual accurate or complete description for Hinduism since it is really just a hodgepodge of various ideas. The common theme is the idea of numerous gods. Generally speaking, the practitioners of modern day Hinduism worship many gods, taking them all to be equal. The reason behind this is that the impersonalist philosophy, or Mayavada, is primarily what is passed off as Hinduism. Mayavadis believe that everything belongs to Brahman, the impersonal spiritual effulgence. Thus the goal of human life is to merge into this effulgence through study of Vedanta and the negation of the effects of material nature. Since this is actually a form of atheism, Mayavadis recommend people to choose any elevated form of Brahman to worship, even if these forms include various demigods. They take Krishna, Shiva, Brahma, and Ganesha to all be equal manifestations of the impersonal Brahman.

Along with this impersonalist idea comes the caste system. Originally, Lord Krishna created the four divisions of society and spiritual life based on one’s guna and karma:

“According to the three modes of material nature and the work ascribed to them, the four divisions of human society were created by Me. And, although I am the creator of this system, you should know that I am yet the non-doer, being unchangeable.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.13)

Krishna and Arjuna Everyone has specific attributes and traits that they are born with. These qualities and desires then correspond to a specific caste, or varna. The brahmanas are considered the highest class since they act completely in the mode of goodness; studying the Vedas, and teaching others about religion. Gradually over time, this system degraded to the current “caste by birthright” system. People now claim brahminical status simply because their family lineage traces back to a famous brahmana of the past. It is no doubt a high honor to be a descendant of a great sage like Vashishta, Bharadvaja, or Upamanyu, but that doesn’t automatically make one a brahmana. Just as a doctor’s son can’t be called to treat patients simply because of his father’s status, a caste brahmana cannot be considered learned and pure solely off his birthright. So this is where the idea came from that people must be born into Hinduism. Followers of the caste system use their privileged birth as a brahmana, kshatriya, or vaishya to shut others out from practicing religion. This is not at all in line with the teachings of the original Vedas.

The Vedas actually never mention the word Hindu or the term Hinduism anywhere. They don’t even reference the term religion. What we define as religion, the Vedas refer to as sanatana dharma. Sanatana means that which has no beginning and no end, and dharma means occupational duty. One’s occupational duty cannot change; it is something that must be fulfilled. Religion generally refers to someone’s faith, something which can change at any time. Dharma is duty, and the Vedas declare that it is every living entity’s eternal duty to understand and love God. That is the real definition of religion. There is only one God and He is for everyone. The Vedas tell us that He has many different forms, expansions, and corresponding names, but that His original form is that of Lord Shri Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, also known as Bhagavan. He is described in this way to make sure that no one will mistakenly think of God as being impersonal. Just as we have identities based on the existence of our soul or atma, God also has individuality based on His eternal nature.

“Never was there a time when I did not exist, nor you, nor all these kings; nor in the future shall any of us cease to be.” (Lord Krishna speaking to Arjuna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.12)

Krishna and Arjuna Sometimes the Vedas use impersonal descriptions for God such as saying that He has no arms and no legs. But these are just reference points aimed at getting the point across that God doesn’t have the same type of hands or legs that we do. Lord Krishna Himself declares that He accepts offerings made to Him with love and devotion.

“If one offers Me with love and devotion a leaf, a flower, fruit or water, I will accept it.” (Bg. 9.26)

If God were impersonal or didn’t possess spiritual attributes, how could He accept our offerings? God is a person, just like us, except that He is much greater. We have a small amount of independence, but we are still subject to the forces of material nature dictated by maya. God, on the other hand, is never affected by maya. He is known as Ishvara, the Supreme Controller. Everything in this world is acting through His direction or the direction of His various energies.

Sanatana dharma applies to every single person, regardless of where they were born. The point of human life is to love God. Love is the universal language, known even to the animal community. How can we then say that only people born to Indian parents can love and worship Krishna? There are so many examples in history of people who were born outside of the varnashrama dharma system, but still worshiped God in a perfect way.

One such person was Ramananda Raya. Around five hundred years ago, Lord Krishna incarnated on earth as a brahmana preacher known as Lord Chaitanya. To help save the fallen souls of the Kali Yuga, Lord Chaitanya spread Krishna prema, or love for Krishna, throughout India to anyone who was willing to receive it. At the request of His good friend Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya, Lord Chaitanya visited Ramananda Raya and questioned him on matters pertaining to Radha and Krishna. In society, Ramananda Raya was actually considered a shudra, a fourth class person, based off his birth. Many caste brahmanas witnessed the talks between Lord Chaitanya and Ramananda, and they were surprised to see Lord Chaitanya embracing him. Shudras were viewed as unclean, so caste brahmanas would never associate with them. But Lord Chaitanya knew that Ramananda was a pure devotee, so He had no problem talking to him about devotional service to Krishna. In fact, Lord Chaitanya declared that Ramananda’s knowledge on matters of bhakti yoga was perfect.

Lord Rama accepting Vibhishana Two other notable examples took place many thousands of years ago. In a previous incarnation, Lord Krishna took birth as the pious prince named Rama. His wife was kidnapped by the Rakshasa demon named Ravana. Ravana had a brother named Vibhishana who was actually a pure devotee of Lord Rama. Rakshasas are meat eaters that are also addicted to intoxication and other sinful activities. They are mortal enemies of the brahmanas, and they look for any chance they can get to disrupt the sacrifices of the sages and to also kill them. Simply based on birth, Vibhishana was to be considered a wretched person. Yet he was the only one to advise Ravana to return Rama’s wife Sita Devi. Ravana of course didn’t listen, and Vibhishana decided to surrender himself to Lord Rama. Rama gladly welcomed Vibhishana to His army, for He knew that Vibhishana’s qualities were not those of a Rakshasa.

“Diti and Aditi are two sisters. The sons of Aditi are called Adityas, and the sons of Diti are called Daityas. All the Adityas are devotees of the Lord, and all the Daityas are atheistic. Although Prahlada was born in the family of the Daityas, he was a great devotee from his childhood. Because of his devotional service and godly nature, he is considered to be a representative of Krishna.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 10.30 Purport)

Prior to His incarnation as Rama, the Lord appeared in a half-man, half-lion form named Narasimha Deva. The purpose of this avatara was to help the five year old devotee son of the demon Hiranyakashipu named Prahlada. Daityas are atheists by nature, so it would be natural to assume that Hiranyakashipu’s son would also be an atheist. Yet Prahlada was far from a demon, for he was a pure devotee right from his very birth. His love and devotion for Krishna was so strong that the Lord personally appeared to save him from the harassment handed out by Hiranyakashipu. To this day, Prahlada is considered one of the great teachers in the science of bhakti yoga.

Lord Nrishmadeva blesses Prahlada Maharaja We see that the Vedic traditions are open to every type of person, but how does one go about becoming a devotee? Generally speaking, there is no official conversion process. The reason for this is that loving God is considered every person’s inherent duty. It is not a matter of official business, where one simply goes through the motions of ritualistic ceremonies and then becomes a devotee. On the contrary, a person’s desires and qualities are what count. More than anything else, one must have a desire to hear about Krishna. One can either hear stories about Krishna told by devotees in public, or by reading those stories and teachings found in the classic Vedic texts such as the Bhagavad-gita and Ramayana. An even simpler process is to listen to people chant the Lord’s name or to personally engage in chantingHare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”. Regardless of the method, one must have a strong desire to hear. If one sincerely desires to know and love Krishna, they are guaranteed to be successful in the end.

In this current age of Kali, it is declared that everyone is born a shudra, kalau shudra sambhvan; Janmana jayate shudra. For one to be considered a member of the higher classes, they must take a second birth in the form of initiation from a spiritual master, or guru. This formal initiation isn’t required, but it is recommended. Real initiation means agreeing to sincerely follow the orders of the spiritual master. For this age, the jagad-guru is His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. One can hear from him directly by reading his many books or by listening to his recorded lectures. His primary teachings were that everyone should chant the Hare Krishna mantra at least sixteen rounds a day on a japa mala, and at the same time, they should refrain from the four pillars of sinful life: meat eating, gambling, intoxication, and illicit sex. Any person of any religious background can follow these simple guidelines. Even if one is a Christina, Jew, or Muslim, they are not required to give up their current faith. God is for everyone. Lord Krishna should always be worshiped and adored, for that is the topmost religious practice.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Being Faithful to God

Hanuman worshiping Lord Rama “He who follows this imperishable path of devotional service and who completely engages himself with faith, making Me the supreme goal, is very, very dear to Me.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 12.20)

Adultery, also known as extramarital sexual activity, involves a married person having intimate relations with another person whom they are not married to. Though very common in modern times, it is still an act frowned upon by most in society. All the major religions of the world shun the practice.

Adultery is viewed so negatively because it represents infidelity. Fidelity means faithfulness to one’s obligations or duties. It is a highly regarded quality because faithfulness reveals personal characteristics of a person. A faithful person can be counted on in times of trouble, someone you can trust when you need them. We have all been burned by people who have either lied to us or cheated us. It is never a good feeling because it brings about a sense of insecurity. Whether we like it or not, we depend on others for our livelihoods, and trust is an integral part of that dependence. A person who commits adultery demonstrates that they are not able to be faithful to probably the most important relationship in their life, their marriage. If one cannot depend on their husband or wife, then they really can’t depend on anyone. This loss of faith leads to feelings of mistrust in everyone, which leads to people turning into misers. The modern day litigious society is an outgrowth of the general feelings of mistrust that exist in people. Everyone thinks that everyone else is cheating them, so they must be very defensive and protective to counteract the actions of others.

A marriage is between a man and a woman for life, and it involves firm faith and commitment to one another. This is the declaration of the Vedas, the ancient scriptures of India. Accordingly, the husband and wife are each appointed specific duties in the marriage. The husband is given the duty of providing full and complete protection to his wife, and the wife is obligated to serve and follow her husband wherever he may go. The marriage system was invented by God so that people could have a regulated form of sex life. Not only is the act of adultery frowned upon in the Vedas, but all sexual activity done for mere sense gratification, even with one’s spouse, is considered detrimental to one’s spiritual advancement. According to Vedic injunctions, sex life should only occur between a husband and wife, and then only for the purpose of procreation. The Vedas strongly regulate sexual activity because it leads to overstimulation of the senses.

Through overeating, intoxication, gambling, and illicit sex life, our senses become unnaturally stimulated. The sense organs are our form of enjoyment in this material world, but left unchecked, one can become a slave to them. This repeated attempt at satisfying the senses causes the spirit soul to be bound to this material world. According to Vedic philosophy, the living entities, which include human beings, animals, and even plants, are all spirit souls at the core. We have been given various bodies in this material world due to our desires and past karma. Karma means that activity which produces a positive or negative material reaction. Since most of our activity is done on this platform, we naturally build up our karma. Karma is determined by our activities, which are driven by our desires. At the time of death, our desires from this life are tallied, and we are given a new body in our next life suited to fulfill those desires. The problem is that our desires are endless since they involve sense gratification. The senses can never truly be satisfied, thus we are forced to repeatedly take birth. The Vedas advise one to regulate their senses so that they may take up the task of understanding God in this life. People who understand Krishna, or God, and think of Him at the time of death, don’t return to this material world, but instead go to Krishna’s spiritual world where they remain for eternity.

“And whoever, at the time of death, quits his body, remembering Me alone, at once attains My nature. Of this there is no doubt. Whatever state of being one remembers when he quits his body, that state he will attain without fail… That abode of Mine is not illumined by the sun or moon, nor by electricity. One who reaches it never returns to this material world.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 8.5-6, 15.6)

Lord Krishna speaking to Arjuna Serving God is not on the platform of karma, for it is completely spiritual and yields no material result. In this age of Kali, the concept of regulating sense gratification is unknown to most. Instead, we have all becomes slaves to our senses through unrestricted sex life and incessant intoxication. The goal of life should be turn the tables and reach the point where the slave becomes the master. The living entity, when fixed up in Krishna consciousness, becomes the master of the senses.

Lord Rama, an incarnation of Lord Krishna, appeared on this earth many thousands of years ago to enact His pastimes and restore the principles of dharma, or religiosity, to society at large. In one of the incidents of His life, the Lord was ordered by His father, the king of Ayodhya, to spend fourteen years in the forest as an exile from the kingdom. This was actually the request of one of the king’s wives, but the king was obliged to grant the request due to previous promises he had made to her. Lord Rama had no problem with this order, but He knew that His wife Sita would not take the news too well. Sita Devi, the incarnation of Goddess Lakshmi, had been married to the Lord for several years at the time of the incident. Being God’s wife, she was completely pure and chaste. There was not even the slightest hint of sin to be found in her. Her life was completely dedicated to her husband.

“I have not, like one bringing stigma on her line, ever in my life thought of a second person, but of you whom I must follow into the forest.” (Sita Devi speaking to Lord Rama, Valmiki Ramayana, Ayodhya Kand, Sec 29)

Sita Rama  Naturally, Lord Rama did not want Sita to come with Him to the forest. The woods are reserved for the wild animals and beasts. Amongst men, only the great sages, who had their senses completely under control, would even think of living in the forest. So the Lord tried His best to dissuade Sita from following. However, she was very obstinate and demanded that she be allowed to come. She put forth a series of arguments and the above referenced quote was one of them. Never in her life did she ever think of anyone except Lord Rama, who was God Himself. Her fidelity and dedication to Rama meant that she was the most commendable person on earth. Lord Rama was born into a very famous and pious dynasty known as the Ikshvakus. The Lord was dedicated to preserving the legacy and good name of His family. It was for this reason that He insisted on accepting His father’s demand, for to do otherwise would have meant that the Lord’s father had lied to his wife who made the request of exile. Unlike today’s political system where the ability to lie is considered a resume enhancement, kshatriya kings were dedicated to truthfulness and abiding by their word. A king who went back on his word was greatly scorned by the citizens and not treated very well in the afterlife. Sita, knowing her husband better than anybody else, knew that He was dedicated to preserving the good name of the Ikshvakus. It was for this reason that she made sure to mention that she had not brought their family any shame, for she was faithful to her husband not only in her actions, but in her thoughts. Sita, marrying into the Ikshvaku line, made the dynasty shine even more.

Sita passing the fire testSita Devi was the most faithful wife, but more importantly, the most faithful devotee of God. Throughout the course of her life, this faith would be severely tested, and she passed every single time. She easily could have remained in the kingdom and enjoyed the protections afforded to a princess, but she instead chose to remain faithful to her husband and follow Him no matter the time or circumstance. The Lord would eventually acquiesce and allow her to come, and as events played out, Sita would end up being kidnapped by the evil Rakshasa demon Ravana. While a prisoner in his kingdom, Sita was repeatedly propositioned by Ravana, but she never gave in. She told him that she would rather die than ever think of any other man except her husband. Even at the risk of death, she firmly remained on the path of devotion. We should all follow her example and be equally as faithful to Krishna.

Most of us seek enjoyment through acts of sense gratification. This is only natural since that is the animal instinct, and we are all born animal-like in quality. It is only through training from our parents, guardians, and spiritual guides that we become civilized. Aside from being detrimental to our spiritual advancement, addiction to sense gratification actually means we are being unfaithful to God. Krishna is the ultimate reservoir of pleasure, a fact which can be realized by practicing the principles of bhakti yoga, or devotional service. If we constantly chant the Lord’s names, offer prayers to Him, read about Him in the Vedic literatures, and learn to love Him, we will be on the road to liberation. Our goal should be to one day be as faithful to God as Sita Devi was.