Saturday, June 2, 2012

The Bright Light

Krishna and Balarama stealing butter“When the butter and milk were kept in a dark room, Krishna and Balarama would go there and make the place bright with the valuable jewels on Their bodies. On the whole, Krishna and Balarama engaged in stealing butter and milk from the neighborhood houses in many ways.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 10.8.30 Purport)

Darkness can never remain strong when the Supreme Personality of Godhead is around. Add to the mix His dedicated supporter who is practically identical to Him in qualities and you get a shining and soothing light to remove all doubts and fears. These are facts nicely presented in the Vedas, the ancient scriptures of India, and they remain true regardless of the circumstance. Accept Vedic wisdom through the ears and shine a bright torchlight of knowledge internally, dissipating the darkness of ignorance. Take a look at a beautiful picture of the origin of matter and spirit and bring a soothing light to your eyes. In addition to the person, pay attention to the ornaments on that form of the Supreme Divine Being. Transcendental light emanates from them as well.

What do we mean by this? God as an abstract concept can be endlessly debated. You have your God and I have mine. If we throw the term “God” around, He can be utilized for many different scenarios. One person prays to God to have their team win a big game, while members of the other team pray to the Lord for their own victory. If there is a God, He must go beyond duality, and thus He can’t personally takes sides, though whatever outcome follows is due to His influence. The singular Supreme Personality influences results that are beneficial and fair to all parties. Just because one prayer isn’t answered and one is doesn’t necessarily mean that there is favoritism.

Lord KrishnaConfusion over these issues and more is resolved when there is a more clearly defined picture of the abstract. In the Vedas the Supreme Lord is described as Bhagavan, which means that He is a personality possessing all opulences to the highest degree and at the same time. He is the smartest, the strongest, the most renounced, the most famous, the most beautiful, and the wealthiest. These features can only exist in a person who has defined attributes. A formless spirit cannot be wealthy. An aged man who only punishes “sinners” cannot be the most renounced person.

To paint an even clearer picture, Bhagavan appears on earth every so often, giving exalted personalities a chance to see His features. Miscreants also get a look at Bhagavan, but seeing alone doesn’t bring knowledge. If I look at a complex math equation, to my eyes the text might as well be written in a foreign language. If, on the other hand, through proper training and a specifically focused consciousness, I see the same math equation, it will have meaning to me. In both cases there is seeing, but only in one of them does the vision have the effect intended.

With seeing God, if someone is clouded by nescience and the feverish pursuit to top the Supreme Lord in any of the aforementioned opulences, the divine vision will have no beneficial effect. The people of Vrindavana some five thousand years ago were qualified through past austerities and the proper implementation of religious principles in their present lives. The spirit soul does not take birth, nor does it die. Thus the soul continues in existence through the constantly falling hourglass of time allotted for the creation. A particular birth represents a splice of that timeline, wherein one accepts a particular form that goes through the gradual change from birth to death.

“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.”  (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.13)

A particular birth is considered auspicious if one can practice Krishna consciousness. Thus the residents of Vrindavana were all within auspicious conditions, as Krishna consciousness was brought to them by Bhagavan Himself. The Lord did not waste His time, as everyone He saw in that delightful community appreciated His vision and derived transcendental pleasure from it. They may not have known that Krishna was Bhagavan, but that didn’t matter. They noted His features and delighted in them regardless of the exact circumstance.

Krishna stealing butterFor instance, when Krishna would do something bad, the effect was the same as when He would do something good. Would God ever do something bad? Isn’t that contradictory? If you’re above duality, how can the opposites of piety and sin apply to you? The “bad” in this case was with respect to social conventions. Krishna came to Vrindavana as the newborn child to Yashoda and Nanda. He had originally appeared from the womb of Devaki, but due to the plot designed to kill the evil king Kamsa, Krishna was transferred to Vrindavana, where He would spend His childhood years.

God as a child played the role perfectly. He was not always on His best behavior. He would sometimes pinch children in the neighboring homes and cause them to cry. Other times He would let loose the calves to drink the milk from their mothers. The town survived on cow protection, so the milk products were their livelihood. By allowing the calves to drink milk and empty the milk bags of the mother cows before others could milk them, Krishna in essence threatened the economic wellbeing of the town.

His most famous acts related to stealing. Of course the origin of matter can never be guilty of taking something that doesn’t belong to Him, as there is no property on which Krishna doesn’t hold the original deed. Though mother Yashoda worked hard to churn sweet butter for Krishna’s satisfaction, the Lord would still go into the neighbors’ homes and steal their supplies. Knowing that He had this tendency, the mothers in the neighboring homes would hide their pots of butter in closed rooms and even place them up high towards the ceiling, areas normally not accessible to children.

Ah, but no one can outsmart the smartest person. He and His elder brother Balarama would hatch elaborate plots to grab the butter. If it was situated high up, they would pile mortars and planks together and climb. What was interesting to note was that the rooms were quite dark, but the jewels placed on the two boys by their mothers provided the light necessary to see in the room. We know that the jewels alighted the rooms because sometimes the neighbors would peek in to see the fun.

Lord KrishnaThink about it. They knew what Krishna was up to, and yet they still took joy in watching Him. Krishna is the most beautiful and that beauty is evident in His transcendental form. The ornaments He wore on His body increased in beauty because of Him, and not the other way around. Krishna’s features are not limiting in the way that they are with ordinary human beings. Krishna’s hands can talk, His eyes can eat, and His jewels can even provide more light than a lamp.

“My dear sir, Krishna's form was most wonderful when He appeared on this planet and exhibited the potency of His internal energy. His wonderfully attractive form was present during His pastimes on this planet, and by His internal potency He exhibited His opulences, which are striking to everyone. His personal beauty was so great that there was no necessity for His wearing ornaments on His body. In fact, instead of the ornaments' beautifying Krishna, Krishna's beauty enhanced the ornaments.” (Uddhava speaking to Vidura, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 3.2.12)

The same light which brightened the dark room for the two darling brothers shines forth from the pages of the Shrimad Bhagavatam and the mouths of the devotees who recite its stories. The same light can also brighten your day when you recite the holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”. The light from the jewels helped the boys steal the butter stashed in the neighbors homes, and the light produced from the sounds of the holy names helps to steal the mind back towards the devotional side, its original home, where it will only think of the darling of Vrindavana and His dedicated brother, the saviors of the fallen souls.

In Closing:

In a dark room difficult to get sight,

No fear, jewels on boys to provide the light.


Were in these rooms for butter to steal,

Shouldn’t be hidden, thus no remorse to feel.


Krishna and Balarama on mortars to climb,

To reach high pots, Bhagavan’s sacred pastime.


Transcendental features bring soothing light to shine,

Paints clearer picture of God for pleasure of the mind.


Chant holy names for to feel same energy that is bright,

Steal your mind back from ignorance and into the light.

Friday, June 1, 2012

A Beautiful Picture

Rama and Lakshmana with Vishvamitra“Who, O leader of munis, are the parents of pious merits who have sons like these, one fair and one dark, who are a reservoir of beauty and are holding bows and arrows?” (Janaki Mangala, 44)

kehi sukṛtī ke kum̐ara kahiya munināyaka|
gaura syāma chabi dhāma dhareṃ dhanu sāyaka ||

Lord Rama is dark-skinned, of the shyama complexion, while His younger brother Lakshmana is fair, or gaura. Despite the difference, they are both equally as beautiful, and together they make for an enchanting portrait, a divine vision for the eyes to feast on. They are carrying their weapons so innocently, ready to protect the elder muni, the exalted Vishvamitra. Just from their faces not a single blemish can be detected in the boys, and their beauty is so splendid that the eyes don’t want to look anywhere else. In a state of amazement, the onlooker searches for answers, as so many questions immediately come to mind.

If you see something that you’ve never seen before, will you not ask from where it came? If you stop at a farmer’s stand on the side of the road and purchase some mangoes, if the fruits taste better than anything you’ve ever had before, will you not seek out the cause of the distinction? “What makes these particular mangoes any better?” The same concept applies to eating out at restaurants. If you’ve had the best pizza in the world, you will like to know more about what went into making it. “What is the chef’s secret? Pizza is just a collection of simple ingredients after all, so why should there be such a contrast from establishment to establishment?”

The journey through life is a series of questions and answers. With each new experience there are new questions, and sometimes the answers just lead to more questions. Especially if something is extraordinary and very well liked, the questions will start to mount. If you purchase a DVD set of a particular television series that you enjoy, the discs will often contain bonus content. There really should be no need for this. The customer has proved that they are willing to buy the product based only on their appreciation of the original content. They perhaps watched the television series when it first aired on network television or maybe they got into it from watching the reruns that aired during syndication. Regardless, the episodes were preferred so much that the customer felt the need to shell out money to own the DVDs.

EverybodyLovesRaymond_DVDsThe bonus content is there not only to entice potential buyers, but to also answer the many questions fans might have. For instance, how did the initial cast get together? Why is this show successful, while others fail? What goes into the writing, and how much leeway do the actors have in the lines that they read? How long does it take to get a show to air? What is the process of taking an idea and turning it into an episode? To answer these questions and more, the discs will contain audio commentary for many of the episodes. A writer, producer, or actor will sit and watch the episode and provide commentary as the show moves along. You get more insight into the same episodes that you saw many times previously.

What are some of the things that you can learn? For starters, if one of the female actors was pregnant during the shooting, you can start to notice some of the camera angles. “Ah, so that’s why she is always pictured seated in bed or on a couch with a pillow over her. They were just trying to hide her stomach area. Oh wow, they continued this practice for several episodes. I never would have known were it not for this commentary.” The intent of providing behind-the-scenes information is to give the inquisitive fan a greater appreciation of the show they like so much.

Many thousands of years ago, King Janaka was holding a well-known contest in his kingdom. The event was known to the world because the king had broadcast the news of it to everyone. He was looking for a suitable husband for his eldest daughter Sita. She was found one day when she was a baby, so the king didn’t know who her biological parents were. Thus he could not use astrological signs at the time of birth to determine a suitable match in a husband, as was customary during that time. Indeed, the same horoscope comparisons are used to this day for marriages that are arranged in traditional Hindu families.

The arranged marriage seems like a sentence to torture for those who are not accustomed to it, but the fundamentals behind the tradition help to ensure a successful and lasting bond between bride and groom. The two families are joined, and they are there to support the young children who enter the marriage arrangement. If the participants are compatible based on personal characteristics, which are revealed in the constellation of stars at the precise moment of birth, then there is a good chance that the two will love each other and remain committed throughout life.

For the father, the lasting protection of his daughter is the most important matter to consider. He is her guardian, and with marriage the responsibility of protection is handed over to the new husband. King Janaka could not think of a proper way to pick Sita’s husband, so he decided to hold a ceremony where all the princes from around the world would be invited. They would participate in a contest where they had to try to lift Lord Shiva’s bow.

Sita DeviWith the rules of the contest, you would think that arriving first would be to your advantage. Ah, but this was no ordinary bow. It was so heavy that likely no one would be able to lift it. If someone could, it would be a sign from above that they were meant to marry the beautiful daughter of Janaka, who was his most valuable possession. When the time came for her marriage, he felt like a rich man that was about to lose his fortune.

“After seeing that I had reached an age suitable for giving me away to a proper husband in marriage, my father became overcome with fear and anxiety, like a man who was about to become poor.” (Sita Devi speaking to Anasuya, Valmiki Ramayana, Ayodhya Kand, 118.34)

Janaka was a pious king, so he was very hospitable to the many guests who arrived in his kingdom. Oddly enough, Vishvamitra Muni also came. He wasn’t on the so-called guest list, but then again a brahmana didn’t require an invitation for coming to Janaka’s kingdom. The pious rulers during those times were known as rajarishis, or kings who are devoted souls. Janaka welcomed Vishvamitra and was thrilled to have a meeting with him. A brahmana imparts supreme wisdom that can be used to find happiness in any situation. Therefore their association is always considered a great blessing.

Janaka’s interest was further sparked by Vishvamitra’s companions at the time. Two young boys, splendid in their beauty, were accompanying the exalted sage. Janaka was a famous yogi known for his dispassion. Nothing could phase him. Whether it was a joyous occasion or a time for sadness, Janaka never shirked his responsibilities. He understood that the individual is Brahman, or pure spirit. Brahman has nothing to do with temporary changes to the body. We all emerge from the womb at birth and then quit the body at death. Throughout the time in between shifts may occur, but the essence of identity, the spirit soul, does not ever change.

Whatever Janaka’s level of dispassion was, it ran away as soon as he saw Rama and Lakshmana, the two youthful princes escorting Vishvamitra. The attraction to them was spontaneous, and it was transcendental. This pleasure Janaka felt was like none before. He had felt the bliss of Brahmasukha, or the happiness associated with realizing Brahman. This new pleasure far surpassed that, so when Janaka finally regained control of his senses, he started to ask some questions.

Rama and LakshmanaFor starters, who were the parents of these children? Rama and Lakshmana were like a wish-fulfilling tree, who provided happiness that would never run out. The parents who produced such children must be an ocean of purity. They must have accumulated so many pious merits to get such beautiful sons, who look so wonderful carrying their bows and arrows. Normally, if we see an armed law enforcement person, we don’t think they’re particularly beautiful because of their uniform. We may be comforted to know that they are on the scene, but it is understood that they are on duty. Rama and Lakshmana, though carrying weapons, provided so much pleasure just based on their natural beauty. The weapons actually became enhanced in appearance because of the transcendental nature of the two boys.

This fact is noted by great devotees many times in Vedic literature. The author of the above quoted verse is Goswami Tulsidas, and in his Gitavali he describes how when Rama was a young child He wore so many ornaments that appeared beautiful as a result of being on His body. Typically, we wear jewelry and nice clothes to enhance our appearance. Since Rama is the Supreme Lord, His transcendental body actually enhances the beauty of the ornaments and not the other way around. The same thing is said about the youthful and beautiful form of Lord Krishna, who is the same Shri Rama but in a different outward visible manifestation.

The parents of Rama and Lakshmana indeed did accumulate spiritual merits in their past lives. Of course King Janaka was not to be left out of the equation. His unsolicited affection for Shri Rama, the Supreme Lord, and Lakshmana, God’s number one servant, proved that he was a possessor of tremendous virtue. He also had the goddess of fortune, Sita Devi, as his daughter, and because of his contest Sita and Rama would be reunited. Though youthful and possessing delicate features, Rama was able to lift Shiva’s bow without a problem. He is God after all, so what contest is too difficult for Him? His shyama complexion is the most attractive, and with Lakshmana and his fair complexion next to Him, the Lord’s beauty is enhanced even further. The more questions Janaka would ask, the more he would find out about the two boys, and the more his love for them would grow.

In a similar manner, if we daily consult the Vedic literatures and hear the purports to the many verses from the writings and verbal teachings of the exalted saints who follow in King Janaka’s mood of devotion, our appreciation for God will also grow. And if one is fully anxious to continue association with the Supreme Lord at the time of death, they no longer have to suffer through reincarnation. With that reward they get to appreciate transcendental beauty even more in the subsequent lifetime in the spiritual sky.

In Closing:

To Rama and Lakshmana, Janaka’s eyes like a visual reader,

Posed questions to Vishvamitra, of munis a leader.


Amidst pageantry of occasion, playing bugles and drums,

These two boys emerged, but where did they come from?


One fair and one dark, of beauty so mysterious,

So of their family host king became curious.


From more information about Supreme Lord we know,

Certainly our appreciation for Him will grow.


Beautiful picture for Janaka’s eyes a gift,

Shri Rama heavy bow of Shiva’s to lift.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Breaking the Barrier

Krishna pastimes“With a poor fund of knowledge, we cannot adjust to the idea of the personality of the Absolute Truth, and the personal activities of the Lord are deplored by the less intelligent impersonalists; but reasons and arguments together with the transcendental process of approaching the Absolute Truth help even the staunch impersonalist to become attracted by the personal activities of the Lord.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 2.1.9 Purport)

It’s difficult to believe with certainty that there is a supreme personality who possesses distinguishable features when you’ve spent your entire life not contemplating such a person. During times of trouble, you may have called out to an abstract figure known as “God”, but never did you know the nature of His enchanting smile, the unique complexion of His body, the preciousness of His features, or the reasons for His advents. You may have tried to conjure up the cause for His personal intervention from time to time, but never were you actually certain. Therefore when hearing about this information from the confident Vaishnava preacher, there might be some apprehension. Nevertheless, in spite of all past prejudices and ignorance based on mentally created theories, when reason and argument are placed together in the proper context, that Supreme Lord’s vision can be taken full advantage of.

The opulences of Bhagavan are meant to be exploited for personal enjoyment. There is a difference with this practice, however. In the absence of divine association, the cherished desire is for personal enjoyment to the point that we have more than anyone else. More money, more clothes, more shoes, more time off, more ways to enjoy after hard work in different ventures. The desire for enjoyment comes from the fact that we are all purusha, or spirit. Dull matter is prakriti, which is the material nature. Purusha enjoys prakriti.

Radha and KrishnaBut there is a more powerful purusha, who controls even us. We are meant for His enjoyment, so to Him we are His prakriti. Yet when He enjoys it brings to us the highest pleasure as well, so the two parties become essentially one in the ideal relationship. This is witnessed in the dealings between Lord Krishna and Shrimati Radharani. Krishna is God and Radha His immediate pleasure potency expansion. They are considered one because when they are together, always immersed in wonderful, loving thoughts, there is no question of a difference. Each person plays an integral role in the resulting relationship.

When the expansions are broken in consciousness from the Supreme Lord, differences arise. The individual souls think they are alone, capable of enjoying independently, but with this flawed notion, they find only misery, in lifetime after lifetime. The localized prakriti changes for them through the influence of time, and at death a new set of elements to be enjoyed is provided for the next life.

Of course that enjoyment is only temporary, something like from a dream. It is sometimes also considered false, or illusory. Real enjoyment is with the Supreme Lord in a mood of affection. To become more convinced of the need for that enjoyment, Krishna distributes His gospel to worthy recipients, who then pass it on to humble and sincere students.

The crux of the instruction is to follow the path that keeps Krishna in one’s life. That path is known as bhakti-yoga, or devotional service. Of course to hear of surrender unto a divine personality resembles sectarianism or blind ideology, so there is perfect argument and reason to go along with the bhakti path to make it stand out. Ironically enough, the philosophical points are of secondary importance to the surrendered souls on the highest platform of worship. They love Krishna, and from that position they get the requisite knowledge to continue that love and teach others how to reach that same platform.

From the reason perspective, we know that in the present condition we are not happy. If we were content, we would have no reason to read books on how to fix things. The self-help books on the shelves of the bookstores would never sell a single copy. The diet and nutrition experts would never be heard, and there would be no such thing as counseling. The misery is concomitant with separation from the divine consciousness, so the benefit of approaching a bona fide spiritual master of the Vedic tradition shouldn’t be difficult to understand. He can be thought of as the best self-help instructor.

Shrila PrabhupadaThe pillars of bhakti practice are chanting and hearing, which are simultaneously taken care of through outward recitation of the holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”. These names are non-different from the person they address. Thus saying Krishna is as good as being next to Him. Rama addresses His incarnations of Lord Rama or Lord Balarama respectively. Rama also speaks to God’s ability to give transcendental pleasure to others.

We already chant and hear so many different things, so the chanting and hearing aspects of bhakti-yoga sound pretty reasonable. The recommendation is to chant the above mentioned mantra for at least sixteen rounds a day on a japa mala, which is a rosary containing one hundred and eight beads, with the mantra chanted once per bead. It is a difficult routine to adopt and follow at the outset, but the transcendental nature of the process combined with some determination in the devotee makes the process more pleasurable with time. The seasoned devotee will not give up their chanting routine for anything, not even millions of dollars.

This brings us to the argument section. How can you argue against chanting and hearing? You know that material nature brings you temporary rewards already, so what are you really losing by hearing these transcendental sound vibrations authorized and made famous by Lord Chaitanya, the preacher incarnation of Krishna? Life is about finding pleasure, and following regulation is the pathway that leads to pleasure under all circumstances. You follow guiding principles already, so why should they be absent in the highest pursuit known to man?

The regulation aspect of bhakti is to avoid behavior that is most damaging to the consciousness, as the thought processes of the mind are what you are trying to change. Never mind if you are young or old, rich or poor, unwise or intelligent, your mind will constantly work. If it can be trained to swim in the ocean of transcendental nectar, what chance is there for the common pitfalls of life, such as depression, anger, rage, frustration, and jealousy? All such inauspicious conditions are due to a false identification with the body and a lack of awareness of the magnanimous nature of the Supreme Lord.

Lord KrishnaBy avoiding intoxication, meat eating, gambling and illicit sex, the progress in the purification of consciousness accelerates to a rapid pace. At the same time, an eagerness to hear more about Krishna develops. Thankfully there is no shortage of available material in this area. Beginning with the Bhagavad-gita, continuing with the Shrimad Bhagavatam, and then culminating with the Chaitanya Charitamrita, there is so much transcendental work available for the eyes to feast on. Reading is as good as hearing because the words are nothing more than recorded sound vibrations of exalted personalities. Due to the mercy of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the aforementioned books and many other works on bhakti-yoga are available for reference. The ancient truths of Vedanta are presented in a way that is understandable, and yet which constantly reveals new profundities, arguments that are accepted with more understanding with each subsequent reading.

The barrier to the spiritual world is purposefully thick, for why should Krishna grant entry to His kingdom to those who don’t want it? At best we can create auspicious conditions that make the awakening of the divine consciousness more likely to happen for others, but for love to manifest, there must be an interest in all the parties involved. The sacred sounds of the maha-mantra and the cogent and thought-provoking words of wisdom coming directly from Krishna help to break that barrier.

In Closing:

That Supreme Lord could have form and attributes hard to believe,

The senses trained to rely only on sight in this way deceive.


But know that there is a way to break through that barrier,

Consult recorded instructions of Krishna and His message’s carrier.


To find real pleasure in life your mind is set,

And from bhakti-yoga this you’ll certainly get.


In this endeavor some reason and logic apply,

To know that soul’s home is in spiritual sky.


To follow devotional principles in regulation a vow make,

From supreme wisdom of Vedas your ignorance to forsake.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Keeping The Eyes Peeled

Shri Hanuman“From this spot I shall see Vaidehi, who is so desperately seeking the sight of Rama. Moving here and there, afflicted with grief, perhaps she will pass by this way.” (Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 14.42)

ito drakṣyāmi vaidehīm rāma darśana lālasām |
itaḥ ca itaḥ ca duhkha ārtām sampatantīm yadccayā ||

Herein Shri Hanuman continues to rely on his high knowledge to succeed in a mission of intelligence gathering. Tasked with finding a missing princess who could be anywhere in the world, Hanuman’s radar was finally locked in on a target, getting ever so closer to reaching the final destination. This Ashoka grove must be the place where she was, for the entire land of Lanka had been searched already. The island was where an eagle, whose vision is impeccable from even long distances, had spotted her, so if the princess of Videha were still alive, she would likely be in this grove.

Valmiki’s Ramayana provides detail about the beauty of this park of trees that was situated near the head palace. The ruler of Lanka lived in the city, and therefore a network of buildings constituted the skyline of Lanka. As a dexterous and agile Vanara, Hanuman could leap from building to building and enter the tiniest of spaces also. Using a massive stature, he had crossed the ocean through the air, accepting the aid of the wind. But now Hanuman was back to a more natural habitat, a serene forest abounding with trees and flowers.

Radha and KrishnaThere were nice mountains in the background, and some of the trees had a golden hue. Hanuman picked one particular tree to act as his surveying perch. A hunch told him that this area was where the daughter of King Janaka would be moving about. In a swoon of devotional ecstasy, the lover separated from their beloved Supreme Lord looks for Him here and there. Many years into the future, the same Sita as Shrimati Radharani would wander in the Vrindavana forest looking for her beloved Shri Krishna, who would separate from her on a regular basis due to the situation at hand. Many thousands of years after that Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu would desperately seek out the same Krishna, following in the mood of Shrimati Radharani.

Hanuman knew that Sita would be in this mood because of her love for Rama. Her husband was the Supreme Lord Himself and His qualities endeared Him to His wife, who married Him in a grand ceremony in Janakpur. It is customary for a wife married under religious principles to devote herself to her husband, but in Sita’s case the devotion went well beyond protocol. She was attracted by her husband’s beauty, strength, charm, and overall kind nature. She genuinely enjoyed His company and she used the responsibilities of her position as an excuse to remain close to the person she loved the most. On one occasion Rama tried to keep her away, to go to the forest alone, but Sita convinced Him otherwise by invoking the rules and regulations stressed on the devoted wife in a marriage of the Vedic style.

“Whether it be residence on top of a palace, traveling on airplanes, or flying through the sky (via yogic powers), in all circumstances the shade of the husband's feet is by far superior.” (Sita Devi speaking to Lord Rama, Valmiki Ramayana, Ayodhya Kand, 27.9)

Rama was ordered to leave His kingdom of Ayodhya for fourteen years, and He didn’t want Sita to suffer the pain of exile in the forest. But she would not live without Him, as royal opulence has no meaning to someone who has the true delight of their existence within their presence. What would valuable jewels and costly dresses mean to someone who lost the company of their beloved?

Unfortunately, Sita would have to feel the pain of separation later on, when Ravana forcefully took her back to his kingdom of Lanka and tried to make her his chief queen. She rebuked him in no uncertain terms and thus remained isolated in the Ashoka grove, left to wait for an uncertain future. Rama sent Hanuman to find her location first, and then He would march to Lanka with an army of Vanaras headed by Sugriva for the rescue.

!BvbcU)g!2k~$(KGrHqZ,!hIEv1 0HSMuBMEjLGyeLQ~~_3In the above referenced verse from the Ramayana we see that Hanuman has accurately predicted Sita’s mindset at the time. She would be desperately seeking the vision of Rama. After all, who wouldn’t want to see the most beautiful person in the world after having spent so much time in their presence? The aim of life is not to just see God one time and then move on. The spiritual senses can never be satisfied, and that is not a bad thing. The material senses are likened to fangs belonging to a serpent, and so they constantly cause pain no matter how much you try to satisfy them. If you scratch that itch for sex life, you will crave it even more the next time. In addition, your threshold for satisfaction will increase, leading you to do things you otherwise wouldn’t.

With the spiritual senses, scratching the itch is beneficial because in seeking out the company of the divine, renunciation from the harmful material senses automatically takes place. The serpent that is the material senses in effect loses its fangs, allowing the individual to use their senses properly, purifying them so that they are guided in the proper direction. And the more you seek out God after having seen Him the better off you will be, as devotional ecstasy flows at its highest levels when in the mood of separation.

For this mood to bring the proper effect, there must be a strong hankering for reunion, which Hanuman knew existed in Sita. We are all separated from God in the conditioned state, but unless there is a desire to meet Him, devotional ecstasy will not come. The seed of the creeper of devotional service, which gives birth to the initial hankering for the association of Bhagavan, comes from the devotee, the spiritual master who is himself a servant. Therefore communion with the saints is one of life’s most valuable treasures.

Hanuman had already met Rama and had a similar hankering in his mind. Yet Rama, through the Vanara leader Sugriva, ordered him to leave Kishkindha to carry out some business. That order would be a blessing for Hanuman, as he would get to see Sita in the highest state of devotional ecstasy. Even the liberated souls take pleasure in seeing other liberated souls, so splendid is the influence of devotional service on the living entity. Just thinking of Sita thinking of Rama brought so much pleasure to Hanuman, whose determination was strengthened in the process.

Hanuman worshiping Sita and RamaHanuman guessed that Sita would be moving here and there. By staying in that tree, Hanuman could likely see her passing by. In meeting Hanuman, Sita wouldn’t get to see Rama, but she would get to hear about Him. With God, hearing is the same as seeing. Hearing might be more effective, as the sound vibrations describing and praising the Supreme Personality have a lasting influence on the consciousness. Vision is more susceptible to defects and vulnerable to distractions, whereas sound has the ability to resonate better within the mind.

Hearing about Hanuman waiting to see Sita, who was waiting to hear about her husband Rama, brings delight to the soul separated from God. Thinking about the goddess of fortune, Shri Rama’s eternal consort, was the right way to prepare for eventually seeing and meeting her. His intuition guided him to the right place, where he would know just what to say to the troubled wife of the son of the King of Ayodhya.

In Closing:

To predict Sita’s mindset Hanuman tried his best,

But her distress at the time no one could guess.


The company of her husband she would seek,

So from that perch Hanuman likely to get peek.


For that fateful meeting Ramadutta did prepare,

Thinking of Rama’s beloved, she of beauty so rare.


Through the Ashoka grove she might walk,

And give Hanuman of Rama’s love a chance to talk.


A blessing to cherish is with saints communion,

Paves the way for with God a reunion.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Laying The Groundwork

Krishna's lotus feet“If the common people are not receptive, it is very difficult to impress upon them the necessity of spiritual enlightenment. Austerity, cleanliness, mercy and truthfulness, the basic principles of religion, prepare the ground for the reception of advancement in spiritual knowledge, and Maharaja Parikshit made this favorable condition possible.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 1.17.45 Purport)

No matter how hard you try, how persuasive you may be, sometimes if the recipient is not receptive, they will not follow through on the instructions you give to them in the utmost kindness. Imagine telling a child who is completely immersed in a video game to go clean their room or do their homework. Their mind is elsewhere at the moment, so they likely aren’t even hearing what you are saying. But if the game should be shut off, the same words, echoed from the same distance away, will resonate and be acted upon. For the benefit of society at large, laying the proper groundwork through the efforts of the higher authorities proves to be beneficial in enabling as many as possible to march towards the destination of spiritual emancipation, where the inhibiting forces of material nature no longer pose a threat.

Spiritual freedom is more important than any concocted system of liberty in a place marked by birth and death. Liberty is itself a vague concept; hence we see documents and movements that restrict the actions of government. The despised tyranny of the governments leads to a charter of negative liberties, which leaves man to his own devices, to figure out for himself what he should do and what he shouldn’t. In this arena, piety becomes a relative concept, wherein one person’s definition of sin differs from another’s.

If there is no guiding principle for action, the natural course of following the dictates of the senses is allowed to take hold. With the satisfaction of the senses, one person’s pursuit is as justifiable as another’s. If one person chooses to earn their living honestly, following kindness and respect for others, are they any better than the person who begs, borrows and steals to get ahead? You can’t look to the government to arbitrate because they are hamstrung by restrictions imposed in the founding document. Therefore they alone cannot make any moral judgments; they must base their actions off the will of the majority of the people.

The ConstitutionIf both the impious and the pious can get wealthy, what is the point to codes of conduct? Personal liberty is therefore the ultimate determining factor, and whichever way that liberty can be maintained becomes the pious route for the individual. Thus the rules of propriety will differ from person to person and what you’re left with is constant strife and turmoil. One person is stealing from someone else, so others can take that as a license for theft. “Get yours before others take it.”

This predicament makes it difficult to teach the real principles of religion, as they are laid out in the Vedas, the ancient scriptures of India. In those sacred texts there is no mention of liberty or government tyranny. Rather, there is dharma, or occupational duty. Every living being has the same original dharma, or defining characteristic, and since it never changes, it is known as sanatana, or without beginning and without end.

The intelligentsia and the administrators are to teach about and institute principles conducive to the practice of dharma in society at large. It is not expected that everyone will be receptive to religious principles right away, for willful forgetfulness of the nature of spirit is the cause for the initial descent into the material world. By constitution the spirit soul is knowledgeable, blissful and eternal. In that wonderful ideal state there is a corresponding entity of interaction. He is most often referred to as God, but since He has countless glorious features and attributes, in the Vedas He is addressed by many names. Krishna speaks to His all-attractiveness and Bhagavan references His possession of beauty, wealth, strength, fame, knowledge and renunciation to the fullest degree.

When there is forgetfulness of the constitutional position or a desire to imitate Krishna’s superiority, there is a fall to a temporary world, sort of like sending children into a playroom to host tea parties and mock adult functions. The problem is that the playroom isn’t real; it is only temporarily manifest. In addition, there can be clashes, as sometimes a new person wants to run things or the other people in the room may not like the outcomes to action. There is every chance of constant strife and turmoil, all rooted in forgetfulness of the fact that the adults are superior.

“One who knows the transcendental nature of My appearance and activities does not, upon leaving the body, take his birth again in this material world, but attains My eternal abode, O Arjuna.”  (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.9)

Lord KrishnaWhen real knowledge of God is distributed to the citizens, the foundation is laid for the path back home, back to Godhead. In the Bhagavad-gita, it is said by Lord Krishna that one who knows the nature of His appearances and disappearances doesn’t have to return to the cycle of birth and death. That is they don’t have to remain in a lower realm where ignorance pervades. Knowing Krishna’s nature is to know that He never accepts a material body. He never takes birth nor dies and He does everything at His own sweet will, as He is the Supreme Controller.

One who knows these facts will follow dedicated service. That service will ideally please Krishna, and to make sure there are no doubts on the matter the service takes place under the guidance of a spiritual master, a teacher who follows in a chain of disciplic succession that originates with Krishna. The primary recommendation for the wayward soul is to regularly chant the holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”, follow regulative principles, and in this way always stay connected in consciousness with the Supreme Lord.

But what if people aren’t receptive to hearing these truths? Certainly the statements of the Bhagavad-gita are profound and can change someone’s life in an instant, but if there are mental distractions borne of habits formed through the many days spent in the material land, how will anyone properly receive the message of divine love so nicely given by Shri Krishna and His devotees?

There are always higher authorities in life, people who wield control over large groups of people. In times past they were kings, and in modern times they are local administrators who are typically elected to their posts. By instilling four principles within society, an atmosphere can be created which is conducive to the reception of the real principle of religion, namely devotion to God. Austerity, cleanliness, mercy and truthfulness are not sectarian principles, so they can be taught to any person, even if they are not religiously inclined.

Austerity is already important in so many areas of life. The person trying to lose weight will automatically impose austerity, limiting their daily caloric intake. This is an austerity measure because the previous inclination was to eat more, to consume more calories. The student refrains from behavior that will damage their chances to do well in school, and the worker makes sure not to do anything that will hinder their performance at work.

Cleanliness is equally as important, as without a clean body we will not be presentable to others. In addition, if the mind is polluted with dirty thoughts, behavior towards others will be negatively impacted. An impure consciousness is at the root of all strife and anger in society. Conflicts occur when the otherwise sober man is taken over by lust, anger and greed.

Krishna with cowMercy shows that you have compassion. When you are compassionate towards others, they will be more apt to be kind to you. On the other hand, if we think we can just kill other creatures when no one is looking and get away with it, eventually that same violence will be inflicted upon us. The laws of nature are quite fair in this regard, so by showing mercy, it is easier to realize that every other living entity is in the same boat that we are. They are also struggling with the material nature to find happiness.

Truthfulness helps to advance along the proper path. If you are not honest in your dealings, you will hurt others. Imagine if we get on an airplane slated for a particular destination and the pilot suddenly changes course for no reason. What if we give money to a cashier and they don’t give us our item in return? Thus truthfulness is a bedrock of voluntary transactions and the interaction with our fellow man. When there is rampant dishonesty, there is no chance for anyone to live peacefully.

Famous kings of the past like Maharaja Parikshit imbibed these four principles into society by the actions of government. Austerity measures are easy to implement; simply refrain from harmful foods and fast on certain days for religious observance. Cleanliness is taken care of by limiting intake of alcohol; thereby avoiding intoxication. Regular bathing and other practices pertaining to hygiene also help. Mercy is fostered by giving protection to the innocent animals. The human being is the elder brother of the other species, so when the brother protects the younger siblings, there is automatic compassion created. Truthfulness is increased by limiting gambling. If there is rampant gambling, cheating will be the way to go, as the competitive fire causes one to lose sight of the larger picture.

These four principles are followed to some degree or another already. They prove to be beneficial every time they are implemented, so if they are expanded to a larger scale, then the society will be more receptive to the message of divine love, which is the elixir for the ears. Shri Krishna is the fountainhead of all knowledge, and so even the four regulative principles emanate from Him. He allows for any person, from any stage of life, to make progress along the proper path, so that one day they can find the happiness that they have long searched for.

In Closing:

Peaceful society built on foundation of trust,

So telling the truth in dealings is a must.


Austerity measures in the beginning do sting,

But to proper destination they eventually bring.


When you’re out in public by others to be seen,

Important to be presentable, for body to be clean.


Mercy, compassion for all creatures important too,

Be nice to others if you want kindness for you.


These principles to divine love are conducive,

Makes ears for Krishna’s message more receptive.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Who You Represent

Dasharatha and family“Like an ocean of purity are the mother and father of these children, who are like a heavenly desire tree, who have a spotless beauty that gives the eyes so much happiness that is without end.” (Janaki Mangala, 43)

punya payodhi mātu pitu e sisu suratarū |
rūpa sudhā sukha deta nayana amarani barū ||

Like it or not, your behavior is a reflection on your upbringing. The people who raise you are responsible for making sure that when you’re an adult you follow the proper standards of conduct, that you obey the law and don’t cause a nuisance to society. A parent especially understands how difficult it is to raise a child and make sure that they grow up to be properly educated and well-behaved, so when they see good traits in another child they immediately think of the role of the parents. This was the case with a famous king who cast his glance upon the transcendental form of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Rama.

What is a transcendental form? Can God have any other kind of form? God is everything, a fact which isn’t too earthshattering. In mathematics there is the concept of sets and what different values they can contain. The most inclusive set is that which has the most values, the largest amount of numbers that represent the possible aggregations one can find. If we looked at the entire creation from a mathematical perspective, we’d see that there is a sum collection of space and its component objects. Obviously the measurement of that collection is unfathomable, but there is nevertheless a total amount. If we see a jar full of jellybeans, we can’t be exactly sure to the number how many jellybeans there are, but there is still a specific total.

jar of jellybeansIf we calculated a total for the universe, it’d be a representation of God. His universal form, or virat-rupa, is one way to think of Him, but at the same time this only represents a partial view. “How is this possible? If we include everything, is that not the limit to existence? The Absolute Truth is the entire collection of gross matter, or a form that is considered invisible to the mind. We can’t see the universal form but we know that it exists. Therefore God is not a perceived reality. He must be accepted as an impersonal force that is always present in some way.”

But the Vedas, the ancient scriptures of India, reveal that the Supreme Lord is both formless and with form. The distinction itself is a necessary product of illusion, pointing to a limitation in understanding. Just as we say that the sun is not out on a particular day because of the influence of the clouds, since we can’t understand what a spiritual form is, we say that the macrocosmic vision of the Lord is His only feature. But to show what it means to have a transcendental form, that Absolute Truth kindly appears before our eyes every now and then. The foolish still don’t understand His true nature even when looking directly at Him, but for those who are humble enough to know their limitations and accept the statements of the bona fide acharyas on faith in the beginning, the fruit of existence is revealed.

Shri Rama, the young boy who accompanied Vishvamitra Muni through the forests many thousands of years ago, showed the pious exactly what God looks like. The Lord has many spiritual forms and the fact that they appear within this material world is not extraordinary. A person who is superior and in charge of a particular energy can never be beholden to that energy’s influence. The material nature, which spreads illusion that results in an identification with dull matter, has no existence on its own. Rather, it is consciousness that brings the presence of life, and the source of that consciousness is God.

In every vibrant life form, including our own body, the consciousness derived from the Supreme Lord’s superconsciousness is present. We can think, feel and will because we are similar in quality to God but vastly inferior to Him in quantitative powers. We can be illusioned, but He cannot. With proper training in the system of spirituality descending from Shri Rama, illusion can dissipate, paving the way towards basking in the sweetness of God’s transcendental form.

Lord RamaEven the exalted figures are sometimes bewildered by this apparent duality, the fact that God is everything and still capable of appearing within a smaller section. Mother Parvati once asked her dear husband Lord Shiva to describe the glories of Shri Rama and explain how Rama is actually God and not an ordinary man. Lord Shiva began his discourse by remarking that there is no difference between the personal and the impersonal features of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. There is only a perceived difference, and due to that one tends to think that Rama accepts a material form and then rejects it. The Supreme Lord is never subject to illusion nor is He ever away from us. He pervades all of space and at the same time He is not personally present within everything. His divine vision is granted to the kind souls who know how to properly utilize His energies.

When King Janaka saw Rama and Lakshmana entering his kingdom, he was enamored by their beauty. Vishvamitra brought the brothers to Janakpur to witness the bow-lifting contest that was taking place. Up to this point, Janaka was intimately familiar with Brahman, which is a theoretical understanding of spirit but one that is still not complete. To know Brahman is to know that spirit is the essence of identity and that it is transcendental to matter. Knowing Bhagavan, however, is knowing that Brahman has an origin.

Rama is Bhagavan, the Supreme Personality of Godhead appearing before the eyes of the earth’s creatures in the guise of a warrior prince. In Bhagavan’s original feature, He is Shri Krishna, the charming youth with a blackish complexion holding a flute in His hands and enchanting the residents of the spiritual planet of Goloka Vrindavana. The personal expansions of Krishna are identical to Him in potency. The only difference is in the transcendental mood of devotion that they instill in their followers. Rama was especially attractive to Janaka upon first sight. The king couldn’t believe what he was feeling, a sort of ecstasy that he did not think was possible. By understanding Brahman one learns to keep their emotions in check, to not be distracted by temporary highs and lows. Indeed, Janaka was holding this contest only to follow dharma. Personally he did not wish to part with his beloved daughter Sita, but dharma called for the king to marry off his daughter when she reached an appropriate age.

Rama and LakshmanaWhen Janaka, a good parent in his own right, saw Rama and Lakshmana, he immediately thought of their parents. He thought that the parents must be an ocean of purity, for the boys were like a wish-fulfilling tree whose beautiful forms granted so much unending happiness to the eyes. The children are produced by the parents, and in the Vedic culture one follows so many rules and regulations to ensure that their offspring are beautiful and virtuous. Rama was the most beautiful and Lakshmana was like His twin, so whoever produced them must have had the largest store of virtue.

Rama would uphold the good name and fame of His parents by His outward beauty and by His actions. As God, Rama does not have any parents, but to give pleasure in the mood of bhakti known as vatsalya-rasa He appears from the womb of mother Kausalya during every Treta Yuga, or second time period of creation. He accepts King Dasharatha as a father to give the pious leader an heir to the throne of Ayodhya. Dasharatha also develops a firm attachment to Rama, who becomes the king’s life and soul.

Rama would give so much fame to His family line by winning the contest, being the only man capable of lifting Shiva’s bow. It was almost as if Lord Shiva had coordinated the events, for he delights in hearing about Rama and discussing His pastimes with others. Goswami Tulsidas, the author of the Janaki Mangala, follows Mahadeva’s example by giving the world delightful poetry to be used in remembering Sita, Rama, Lakshmana and the Lord’s most faithful servant Hanuman.

King Janaka was very sweet in his observations on Rama and Lakshmana and their family, and the same sentiments could be applied to him. How pious the parents of Janaka must have been to get a son who would take care of the goddess of fortune, Sita Devi, and then invite Shri Rama Himself to the kingdom. Tulsidas sparks the same question in the reader. Where did Rama find someone so kind to describe His pastimes? Where does Rama find a dedicated brother like Lakshmana and a heroic servant like Hanuman? These questions are difficult to answer even for the Lord, for He is so pleased by the service of the devotees.

Rama and Lakshmana with VishvamitraFrom this incident with Janaka we get a good idea on how to serve our parents, who do so much to protect us in life. The parents have a difficult job because they cannot slip in their behavior. The impressionable young child will follow the behavior of the parents more than their words. If we do acquire any good qualities, if we are fortunate enough to chant the holy names of the Lord, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”, it should be understood that our parents did a good job in raising us, even if it may seem otherwise. Somehow or other we were put into the position to connect with the holy name, which fully represents the Supreme Lord and His personal self.

To repay the service offered by the parents, one should follow the highest system of piety, which is known as bhagavata-dharma, or devotional service. Rama upheld the virtue of His parents and ancestors by following the prescribed duties of His order, the kshatriya. The kshatriyas are royal administrators, so they must exhibit bravery in combat and impartiality in the distribution of justice. In the current age of quarrel and hypocrisy, the lines have been blurred to the point that one can’t figure out what their occupational duties are. Thus there is only one dharma that need be followed: devotion to God. From regularly chanting God’s names, hearing about His pastimes and worshiping and honoring His servants, we give the highest service to our parents. We represent them in our behavior, so if we can show that life’s mission of understanding God is reached, we prove that they are full of purity as well, for they gave the world a sincere servant of the Lord, whose association is a terrific boon.

In Closing:

Know that responsibility with everything you do,

Represent your character and your parents’ too.


Thus if you point your behavior in right direction,

On the merits of mother and father a good reflection.


Seeing Rama and Lakshmana, of their origin Janaka unsure,

But could guess that their parents were like an ocean pure.


Endless happiness to eyes that their forms see,

Thus boys appeared as if they were heavenly desire tree.


When your consciousness to divine realm you send,

The pious credits to your good parents will extend.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Eliminating The Primary Fear

Krishna speaking to Arjuna“All created beings are unmanifest in their beginning, manifest in their interim state, and unmanifest again when they are annihilated. So what need is there for lamentation?” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.28)

There are many reasons to read the Bhagavad-gita, the Song of God sung on the battlefield of Kurukshetra some five thousand years ago. As revealed by the singer Himself, the same words were previously delivered many eons prior, at the beginning of creation. Therefore the Gita and its essential teachings are timeless, proving to be valuable in any time period and to any class of men. What’s more is that the primary fear, the root cause of distress, is addressed by this great work, proving that from a single set of teachings all other problems can be solved simultaneously.

What is that primary fear? What is the one thing that we worry about the most? Not surprisingly, it is death. Even if we have come to grips with our own eventual passing, there is still concern over the separation from friends and family members. “How will I live without them? I can’t believe that one day I will never see them again. ‘Never’ is such a frightening concept. Why can’t I have their association forever?” We know that this sadness is widespread based on the reaction to the passing of famous people, which also reveals how there is a lack of knowledge of the afterlife.

If true knowledge of the soul existed, there would be no reason to overly lament the passing of someone else. In reality, the lamentation is for ourselves, for we are now bereft of the departed’s company. But they continue to live on, as the spirit soul cannot be cut up, made wet, burned, or destroyed in any way.

“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.”  (Lord Krishna, Bg. 2.23)

Lord KrishnaThere are many reasons to be averse to religious doctrines. For starters, so many religions are now organized and thus riddled with the common problems of politics, infighting, and the desire for personal aggrandizement, all of which are antithetical to a system of discipline aimed at connecting with the highest power. There is also the perceived notion that by hearing about and following religious dictates, one’s life will be stripped of fun. “No more sex life. No more eating meat. No more getting drunk. That all equals no fun.”

But if we look at the Gita, we see that the starting point is the primary fear in every person. Thus the teachings that follow the initial inquiries from the perplexed warrior are applicable to every single person. In one sense the Gita doesn’t have to be considered a religious text, as it presents the information of the spirit soul and its travels in a scientific way. There are methods of redress that can be adopted, with a starting hypothesis declared, and the worker can see for themselves with the results of the experiments whether or not the principles presented are valid.

The speaker of the Gita is the oldest and wisest person. He has knowledge of every single past incident, so He knows that the principles of sanatana-dharma, or the eternal occupation of man, never fail when properly implemented. He can also see into the future, so there is no need for Him to observe any future results to experiments. On the battlefield that day, He presented His spotless knowledge in a manner that was suitable to the listener in the immediate vicinity. In the process the information was also shared with countless future generations who would study the text under the guidance of a bona fide spiritual master.

So what was the initial premise? What was the problem that sparked the talk? Arjuna was the leading fighter for a group of brothers known as the Pandavas. They had the rightful claim to the throne of Hastinapura, but their cousins unjustly usurped control. Now a war was to settle the matter, and right before hostilities were to start, Arjuna grew hesitant. He wasn’t worried about losing. It was just the opposite in fact; he was afraid of what would happen if his side won. So many people would die, and Arjuna wouldn’t like that. He didn’t want to live without the company of his well-wishers and relatives fighting for the other side, especially if he was the cause of their demise.

ArjunaDo Arjuna’s sentiments sound familiar? If they are alive today, are we not worried about the day when we will lose the association of our parents? Are we not afraid of losing a loved one either through a disease or a tragic accident? The answers Krishna gave to Arjuna allow for the individual spirit soul to be knowledgeable in its activities, and with that sword of knowledge one can slash away the ropes of doubt and illusion, which bind one in a trap of fear.

What were Krishna’s primary instructions? Through a carefully presented series of verses, the Gita speaks of the spirit soul and how it is ageless. That soul existed prior to the present manifestation of the body and it will exist beyond the current form. The soul is the essence of identity, and its disposition is what matters most, not where the body is currently situated. This holds true for the individual and also for every other person, including people for whom we hold affection.

The person must act, however, and to know how to act one should follow the bona fide religious principles as they are presented by sadhu, shastra, and guru. The sadhu is the saintly man, who is devoted to the lotus feet of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Shastra is scripture; it has the recorded instructions of the Supreme Lord and His representatives. The guru is the embodiment of devotion to God. He teaches by both precept and example. He can teach the humble student the meaning to the verses of shastra and how to practically apply the principles in everyday life.

After hearing from Krishna and accepting the information through discrimination, Arjuna decided to fight ahead, casting aside his previous doubt. Does this mean that Arjuna suddenly became callous to life and death? Did he discard his affection for his family members? If he did, isn’t the Gita kind of cold in its teaching? What is the difference, then, between a person who follows Krishna’s teachings and one who is so low in their moral standards that they kill other people at random, having no concern for them?

“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.”  (Bg. 2.11)

Bhagavad-gita, As It IsThe ultimate lesson of the Gita is to follow Krishna’s instructions, for He is the Supreme Lord. The vague concept of God is the same Krishna but without the features painted. There are incarnations and expansions of Krishna as well, which show off even more features, as many as the living entity can enumerate. Since Krishna is the fountainhead of all energies, following His word, showing love to Him, is actually the only way to have universal brotherhood. The only way to properly love all of God’s creation is to first serve the original creator.

This means that instead of losing his affection for his family members, Arjuna actually learned to love them more. But his affection was no longer based off temporary features belonging to a perishable body. Arjuna knew that everyone is a spirit soul and that by following occupational duties with detachment there is no sin incurred with action. Also, only the bodies of the other soldiers would be destroyed; their souls would continue to live on. Thus with this perfect combination of knowledge Arjuna could continue on without carrying the burden of the primary fear in man.

That same level of detachment comes to one who follows devotion to Krishna. The wise chariot-driver who enlightened Arjuna on that day can be reached through His holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”, which are non-different from Him. Chanting and hearing are the bedrock of bhakti-yoga, or devotional service. That discipline transcends sectarian boundaries and religious institutions. Devotion to God is the inherent occupation of the soul and from it the fears we regularly encounter today can vanish, creating a legitimate loving sentiment that extends to all creatures.

In Closing:

The greatest fear is that life will end,

Then creates other fears when it extends.


Even if with my own mortality I have come to grips,

How will I survive when close friends their bodies quit?


Arjuna thought just like this, fate of others to dwell upon,

To dispel his doubts, Shri Krishna sung transcendental song.


Known as Bhagavad-gita, at start deals with end of life,

Then solves other issues, anger, vengeance and strife.


Like Arjuna from the principles of bhakti don’t deviate,

In the process primary fear of life eliminate.