Saturday, June 16, 2012

Love For All Creatures

Sita Devi in the forest“Indeed, previously Rama’s beloved and chaste wife, the daughter of Janaka, always had a fondness for the creatures of the forest.” (Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 14.48)

vane carāṇām satatam nūnam spṛhayate purā |
rāmasya dayitā bhāryā janakasya sutā sati ||

If someone tells you they are a “dog person” or a “cat person”, it means that they like that particular animal. The identification is made so as to distinguish their behavior from what one might otherwise guess. A civilized human being isn’t expected to live amongst animals, so how they would react to their presence is unknown. By default, one would think that a person wouldn’t have a fondness for a foreign creature. Think of the typical reaction to seeing a spider or a lizard. The spider is rather harmless, but seeing a small thing like that crawling around your house might put you on edge. The lizard might be more dangerous, but then again you as a human being are much larger, and thus more powerful as well.

That cats and dogs would serve as ideal pets should make sense. They are seemingly innocent animals who can accept unconditional love. They ask for basic maintenance and in return you get to watch them as they enjoy life. To have affection for these animals is a way to offer service, a way to spread love when other outlets might not be available. If you’re not married or if you have no significant other, you can bring home a pet and have so many responsibilities added to your daily routine. These burdens are welcomed, as they give you a chance to care for another creature.

“The humble sage, by virtue of true knowledge, sees with equal vision a learned and gentle brahmana, a cow, an elephant, a dog and a dog-eater [outcaste] .”  (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 5.18)

Lord Krishna with cowThe highest transcendentalists extend that kindness to all creatures. This means that the animals that are commonly killed for food are also loved and adored. With the vegetation that grows naturally, and with the milk produced by the loving mothers known as cows, the human being can have plenty of food to eat. Thus the strongest justification for killing such innocent creatures goes away. The requirement, of course, is that one be honest in their assessment. If a small child is the essence of innocence and so is the helpless cat or dog, then why not the cow too? Why not the chicken? How about the ant, the elephant, and the tiger?

“So does this mean we should keep tigers as pets? Deer are meant to live in the wild, so how are we to take care of them?”

The vision is applied equally, but the application of effort does not have to be uniform. That dichotomy already exists in dealings with pets. You can’t talk to a cat or a dog about the movie you just watched. You can’t get their opinion on the outfit you’re wearing and neither can they give you career advice. Yet this doesn’t hinder the output of emotion; the ointment of affection is still applied to the eyes which gaze upon such creatures.

Affection can still be offered to all creatures without necessarily offering them the same behavior we extend to other humans. A tiger is a spirit soul just as much as a cat or a dog is, but it just has different tendencies. The tiger will only eat the flesh of other animals, and it is not harmless enough to serve as a pet. This, by itself, doesn’t qualify it for harsh treatment though, and the wise person will not hate the tiger, nor any other creature.

The saintly figures have this equal vision, for they are intimately familiar with the qualities of the spirit soul, which comes from the original soul, the Supreme Lord. He is also the soul of all creatures, as without His presence, nothing can have an existence. To “be” means to have God’s presence, and to “act” requires the presence of the individual soul. The two combined together make for a potent combination, but in the conditioned state the ideal meeting in blissfulness doesn’t take place without a purification of consciousness, which requires a clearing of the vision.

Vision needs to be clear because only with dust on the eyes of the consciousness are there distinctions made with respect to other creatures. The cloudiness starts with looking in the mirror, where we take our bodily features to be part of our identity. We relate to our skin color, country of origin, and even our gender. Yet these were not in our control; we had no choice in where we took birth. The bodily features change over time as well, but we as individuals do not. This means that what we are really looking at in the mirror is a spirit soul.

But this is difficult to see, so through dedicated practice of religious principles we can learn to see our true identity. All other forms of life are spirit as well. This means that the more we extend the sort-of x-ray vision, where we see spirit and not matter, the more clear our vision will be. Moreover, through that oneness established between the many creatures in the universe, we can understand that there is a singular spiritual energy, which is just one aspect of the complete spiritual force, who is more commonly known as God.

Sita and RamaAll of this seems rather difficult to follow, especially if we’re so accustomed to acting off of bodily designations, taking what we see to be what we believe. There is a better route towards attaining the constitutional position, however. Along the way, the equal vision of the sage is acquired automatically. To see proof of how this works, we can look to the example of Sita Devi, the daughter of King Janaka. Though technically her example doesn’t apply since she is the Supreme Lord’s eternal consort and thus a divine figure who never assumes or rejects a position, we can still study her behavior to see how divine qualities automatically exist in a lover of God.

And yes, that is her primary feature: she loves God more than anyone can. She is always in His company, serving His every need. From the Vedas we get information that Sita is also the goddess of fortune, Lakshmi Devi. The Supreme Lord, among many other things, is the wealthiest person in the world. An oil tycoon may have billions of dollars in net worth, but God is still wealthier because He owns the entire earth, in which is found all the seeds necessary for existence. Petroleum, the fuel of the engine of the modern industrial economy, is also found within His earth.

Sita is Lakshmi, and she is other forms of the goddess of fortune as well, but her role never changes. She shares her husband’s fortune with the souls who please her. As the fortune granted is an extension of her, it is meant to follow her example. Her vitality is used for keeping a smile on her husband’s face. And in this endeavor she never fails, as no one pleases God more than Sita. The fortune she confers upon others is meant to give the same pleasure to the Supreme Lord. When it is used otherwise, it can be the greatest source of misery. Today you think that all your troubles will go away should you strike it rich, but know that so many more problems will be introduced. Excessive wealth tends to turn a person into a miser, which then makes both their present and future lives hellish. In the present they constantly worry about losing their fortune. This is a kind of mental torture. That concern secures a hellish afterlife, for miserly behavior does not square with piety.

From her undying love for her husband, Sita automatically has affection for all the creatures of the world. This was proven many times during her stay on this earth many thousands of years ago during the Treta Yuga. Assuming her role in the real-life play known as the Ramayana, Sita appeared as the daughter of the pious King Janaka. She was found in the earth as a baby while Janaka was ploughing a field. Thus she was automatically connected to the earth, accepting it as her mother. Though she grew up in royal opulence, she never had any attachment to it. Her business is giving away fortune in charity, so she obviously isn’t very much impressed by jewelry, gold and the like. Her true wealth is the company of her husband, Lord Rama, the eldest son of King Dasharatha of Ayodhya.

“Ever since I heard those words from the brahmanas versed in interpreting marks on the body in my home, I have always been enthusiastic about living in the forest, O highly powerful one.” (Sita Devi speaking to Lord Rama, Valmiki Ramayana, Ayodhya Kand, 29.9)

Sita and RamaThough she was a prince’s wife, she still loved to roam the forests for fun. Think of how people like going for walks in the evenings or mornings. You get out of the house, see the nature around you, and feel at peace. Sita had no fear of the wild, for she viewed all creatures as being spiritually equal. The wilderness is also more peaceful, a place where the mind can focus better on the real meaning of life, that of loving God. She, of course, would go with her husband on these trips, and thus derive tremendous enjoyment.

In the above referenced verse from the Ramayana, we see that Hanuman was quite familiar with these behavioral characteristics of Rama’s wife. He relied on this information while inside of the Ashoka grove in the kingdom of Lanka, which was ruled at the time by a vile ogre named Ravana. Sita had been taken to Lanka against her will by Ravana, and Hanuman was sent to first find her location. He made it to Lanka, but finding Sita was the more difficult chore. Now he was in the last part of his search, inside this beautiful park of Ashoka trees.

Hanuman surmised that Sita would be there. He perched himself on a tree branch and waited for Rama’s beloved and chaste wife. Hanuman knew that previously she had such a fondness for the creatures of the wild, so it wouldn’t be surprising for her to walk through this forest. Rama wasn’t with her, so she would be aggrieved, but at the same time she liked to roam the peaceful wilderness. She would be thinking of Rama the whole time, reminded by flowers and trees of her husband’s glorious attributes and the time they spent together in the forest of Dandaka.

Though Sita wouldn’t be walking about at that time, the wise Hanuman was correct in his assessment of her qualities, as he would indeed find Sita in that grove. That he knew her so well having never met her shows just how eager to hear about God and His devotees Hanuman is. Sita loved all creatures automatically because of her love for her husband, and Hanuman automatically learned of Sita’s wonderful traits based on his love for the same person. Thus we can see that affection for God proves beneficial in every way, helping to bring auspicious conditions for whatever endeavor the devotee takes up. Know that both Sita and Hanuman harbor no ill will against any creature of this world, and they are especially fond of Rama’s devotees. By always chanting the holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”, their favor can be gained as well.

In Closing:

Creatures large and small, of many a guise,

That they are different unwise will surmise.


But at the core every living entity is spirit,

Go through cycles where bodies entered and quit.


The truly learned with this equal vision can see,

Know that everyone else just the same as me.


Sita, Rama’s wife, had fondness for creatures of the wild,

With Rama roamed forests with enthusiasm of a child.


To decipher location these traits together Hanuman fused,

In the end his intelligence and love for Sita and Rama well used.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Time For Panic

Yashoda looking into Krishna's mouth“Upon hearing this from Krishna's playmates, mother Yashoda, who was always full of anxiety over Krishna's welfare, picked Krishna up with her hands to look into His mouth and chastise Him. Her eyes fearful, she spoke to her son as follows.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 10.8.33)

The good mother has one primary duty: to see to it that her child is protected. The child doesn’t have any other protector in the early years. The father is likely out all day earning a living, and the mother is better suited to provide the care anyway. She nurtured the embryo and carried it to term in her womb for nine months, so what does anyone else really know about her child? She is the first caregiver, so she is ideally suited to look after her child in the early years, when they first start the discovery process in their new world.

It is in this area that the child can run into trouble. So many new things have to be discovered. The parent already knows about these things from their own discovery that they likely started many years back. Indeed, given the length and breadth of the material creation and the limited abilities of the conditioned, fallible living entity, it is impossible to know everything at any one point in time. Even if you were to gather every piece of information and feed it into your brain, you wouldn’t be able to recall everything at a moment’s notice.

If, in a relational database management system, you have your database tables aligned properly and the right indexes on the columns necessary for the lookup of data, you still can have some latency when running your queries. You need to tweak the text of your query so that the command can access the right columns and the proper indexes maintained on the system. Nevertheless, in a large system there are so many other factors to consider, such as concurrency, hardware limitations, and the constant addition of new data. This makes data retrieval an unpredictable process.

SQL QueryIf you were to retrieve all of the data in the system in a single request, your client application would have a difficult time handling such an overload of information. The data is placed into a database for a reason; the records are meant to be accessed individually per each instance of an entity, at least in a typical transactional application anyway. In the cases where you need aggregate data, still only a subsection is accessed by the client, namely the summary information.

This is one way to understand the difficulty the human being faces with respect to trying to remember all the information they have discovered throughout their lifetime. The other issue is trying to make light of that information after it is retrieved. We may have run millions of experiments within a specific field of science, but we then need to know what to take away from the results. Are there any discoverable patterns? Has anything new been learned that can then be used in subsequent tests? Or better yet, have we learned a new way to alter our behavior for the better?

This is all too much to deal with for the new child, who can’t even do something as simple as walk. Eating is another major chore, for they need to know what to eat, how often, and from what sources. A long time ago, a particularly enchanting child in the spiritually infused town of Vrindavana was accused of having eaten dirt. This was not a good thing, for earth is meant to act as a container or a foundation. The earth suffers so much from the movements of other living entities. In the Vedic tradition, the earth is considered to be the most forgiving, as though it suffers earthquakes every now and then, it remains tolerant of the many kinds of impact it absorbs.

“O Lord of Koshala, even the Earth, who is the mother of the world and respected by everyone, suffers distress in the form of earthquakes.” (Lakshmana speaking to Lord Rama, Valmiki Ramayana, Aranya Kand, 66.10)

The earth is assigned its role by the higher authorities, and it can serve a variety of smaller functions within that role. Sadly, consumption as food is not one of them. Earth can be used to make pots, to act as roads, and to grow crops, but its substance is not considered edible. But the young child that is just discovering all that life has to offer has no idea about this. Therefore there is every chance that they can take a fistful of dirt in their hand and then drop it into their mouth.

Krishna taking a ladduThe fist in question was the most charming in the world. It had previously been used to give money to a fruit vendor who had visited the home. The parents, Nanda Maharaja and mother Yashoda, used to purchase fruit from a vendor by giving grains in return; the grains were thus a type of currency. The paper notes of today are supposed to represent an equal amount of a specific commodity held within the treasury of the government. Currency can represent pretty much anything, as in days past even cigarettes have been used as a means of exchange. In a future time, that same delightful fist would help in ridding the world of an evil king who had previously killed seven of this child’s older siblings.

The focus on this occasion was the wellbeing of the child. The friends and elder brother made the accusation to mother Yashoda that her son Krishna had eaten earth. The children used to play out in the fields during the daytime, and Krishna was the center of their universe. Wherever He went, they followed. If there was trouble, Krishna would save them. At the same time, if they wanted to have fun, they would play with Krishna and also eat lunch with Him.

Krishna was their leader, so He wasn’t always keen on listening to others. The children knew that if He ate dirt, or if at least He would be accused of doing the same, they could take the matter up with Yashoda, who had previously tied Krishna to a mortar after He had done something bad, when that charming little fist broke a pot of butter in anger and then dipped into that spilled supply. That fist then held the butter made from the sweet milk of Nanda Maharaja’s special cows and enjoyed it.

Krishna stealing butterAs if to go to the complete opposite end of the spectrum, that same fist had now purportedly been used to eat dirt. Ah, what was Yashoda to do with her naughty son? Previously He went into the homes of the neighbors to steal their butter. He also broke the pot of butter in her home out of anger. Now He was accused of eating dirt. Yashoda took the matter very seriously. She picked up her young son and was ready to look into His mouth. Never mind that looking into someone else’s mouth is not something you look forward to. Just thinking of someone else’s mouth while they are eating is unpleasant enough, but for the caring mother the only concern was the safety of her child. If He was eating dirt, He needed to be reprimanded. If not, an explanation for the accusation needed to be forthcoming. Why should He make His mother worry so much all the time?

Oh, but that sweetheart of Vrindavana with the delightful fists had a larger objective in mind. He has been mesmerizing the world since the beginning of time. He has also delighted the devotees with transcendental affection that only strengthens during times of concern. Yashoda’s motherly affection increased every time Krishna apparently did something bad, and on this occasion she was lured into the pleasant trap of seeing the universal form, the entire creation within the blessed child’s mouth.

Yogis, mental speculators, and fruitive workers alike have tried their hardest to envision that universal form, to see the entire creation in a single glance. That vision gives evidence to the fact that there is a God, that there is a meaning behind this complex thing we call life. In reality, that vision is only the beginning point, an insignificant reward that just hints at the Supreme Controller’s true potency. The higher benefit is getting the chance to love that darling of Vrindavana, to show Him unlimited affection, day after day. The sincere souls devoted to the Supreme Personality of Godhead pray to have that devotion in life after life, and just as He delighted mother Yashoda with His pastimes, the charming butter thief of Vrindavana grants their wishes accordingly.

In Closing:

On the earth children are known to sometimes play,

Roll on the ground but never should they think of eating clay.


Against her son Krishna was this accusation made,

New worry for mother who always for God’s protection prayed.


Stealing butter, breaking pots, Krishna always mischievous,

But eating dirt was a matter to take very serious.


In her caring arms her son she took,

So that in His mouth she could have a look.


More than dirt to be found, everything seen instead,

To the vision of universal form her son led.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Friends of the Demigods

Rama and Lakshmana fighting Tataka“These two are the sons of King Dasharatha, are jewels of their family line, are named Rama and Lakshmana, and are here to vanquish the enemies of the demigods.” (Janaki Mangala, 47)

pūṣana baṃsa bibhūṣana dasaratha nandana |
nāma rāma arū lakhana surāri nikandana ||

The enemies of the saintly class are tagged as demons in the Vedic tradition. There has been a constant clash between the forces of good and the forces of evil since time immemorial. The good want to follow the dictates of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, whereas the miscreants want to disobey every legitimate law code ever instituted. In a localized area, defiance of the established rules perhaps doesn’t amount to much of a negative consequence, but in the larger scheme the influence of demonic behavior can be quite strong. The most lasting influence is the effect had on thwarting God consciousness, which is the ultimate aim for every living being.

“How can we say that any specific aim is universally ideal? Isn’t everyone different? We are born into different circumstances, have different inherent characteristics, and thus develop varieties in tendencies. Therefore what is good for one person may not be for another.” But when it comes to law codes, especially those instituted by the higher authorities, there is no need for attention to variety. For instance, the red light in the traffic intersection applies to all travellers on the road, not just those who feel like getting to their intended destination. One side of traffic is stopped by the red light, but the restriction is in place to prevent an accident for everyone, as the traffic crossing on the other side is provided the right of way. Once they get a red light, the other traffic that was previously stopped is allowed to continue.

traffic lightThe laws of God can be likened to a set of instructions meant to allow every person to direct their natural tendency in action to the proper channels. The “good” therefore at least pay deference to these laws, though they may not understand the purpose to them. As the material world operates on duality, not everyone is forced to abide by the laws guiding conduct. Just as in our smaller communities the lawbreakers are punished with sentence to jail, in the larger scheme those who violate the laws of God are punished through nature’s influence. Birth itself is a punishment, as accompanying it is death. Whatever you accept in life, you must eventually renounce later on. How can such a ride ever be considered a pleasurable experience?

The conduct of the lawbreakers is another punishing aspect of birth in the material world. The person who runs the red light not only puts their own life in jeopardy, but they also cause damage and pain to those who had faith in the ability of the stoplights to prevent other traffic from entering the intersection at the wrong time. In this way the pious turn out to be innocent and victims of the misjudgments of the impious. Therefore the governing bodies must be unflinching and impartial in their administration of justice. The lawbreakers should have the fear of punishment within them, for otherwise the pious will have to live without trusting anyone.

During the Treta Yuga, the saintly class was concentrated in the forests, where they found peace and quiet. The priests who were devoted to God and understanding Him sought shelter in the holy name and austerity and penance. The devotees are referred to as suras in Sanskrit, and their counterparts are the asuras. “Ari” refers to enemies, so the worst miscreants are known as surari. The king is generally responsible for protecting the suras residing on earth, and in the heavenly realm the Supreme Lord Himself is petitioned for help to defend against the attacks of the most powerful suraris, or the asuras.

“Whenever and wherever there is a decline in religious practice, O descendant of Bharata, and a predominant rise of irreligion-at that time I descend Myself.”  (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.7)

Rama and LakshmanaWhenever there is a decline in religious practice and a predominant rise of irreligion, the Supreme Personality of Godhead personally descends to earth. In the Treta Yuga, He appeared as Lord Rama, the eldest son of King Dasharatha. A partial expansion of the Supreme Lord Vishnu appeared as Rama’s younger brother named Lakshmana. These two youths were jewels of the Raghu-vamsha, the dynasty of King Raghu. Because of their family relation to the famous king, both Rama and Lakshmana were often addressed as Raghava.

Aside from their divine beauty, the brothers were expert bow-warriors, capable of defending the suras from attack. Rama and Lakshmana’s position with respect to this defense was explained to King Janaka, who hosted a famous ceremony one time. The king’s daughter, Sita Devi, was going to marry whoever could lift the extremely heavy bow handed down to Janaka from Lord Shiva. Rama and Lakshmana weren’t specifically there to take part in the contest, for they were away from home when the news went out. They were escorting Vishvamitra Muni in the forests, protecting him from the attacks of the Rakshasas, the night-rangers who were the greatest enemies of the suras on earth.

The demigods were in great distress due to the influence of the leader of the suraris, Ravana. In order for Ravana to be defeated, a human being needed to fight him. Since no ordinary human being had the prowess necessary to defeat Ravana, God Himself appeared on earth in the guise of a human. Since Rama was part of the Raghu-vamsha, He made dedication to the governing law codes His way of life. Because of this deference to dharma, Rama needed an outward excuse to take on Ravana in battle. That excuse would come through Sita.

It was not uncommon for kings to fight openly with other kings and then take the defeated king’s princesses as a reward. In this sense Ravana’s desire to have Sita was not out of the ordinary, but since he knew that Rama couldn’t be beat, he set up a ruse whereby he was able to steal Sita in secret. This took place after Rama lifted Shiva’s bow and won Sita’s hand in marriage. Therefore the meeting between Vishvamitra and Janaka was very important.

Lord RamaIn the above referenced verse from the Janaki Mangala, we get some details of that meeting. Janaka couldn’t believe how beautiful Rama and Lakshmana were. They looked like they weren’t from this world, and in this regard Janaka’s intuition was correct. Vishvamitra informed the king that the two boys were ready to defend the suras from the attacks of the demons. If we know that a powerful figure is there to protect us from the worst kind of miscreants, we are a little comforted. Despite their powerful influence, the Rakshasas could not defeat Rama and Lakshmana, who would rid the earth of Ravana and his reign of terror.

Of course there are more than just the stated enemies of the saints to contend with. The material land is conducive to lethargy, impiety and general deviation from the righteous principles. Maintaining a high ethical standing with respect to general moral principles is difficult, and it’s even more difficult to follow the righteous path aimed at fostering God consciousness, which is the ultimate aim for every spirit soul. We may have different external conditions and attributes, but deep down every living entity is a spirit soul, part and parcel of God. The religious principles espoused by the saints are meant to bring the most favorable end for every single person, regardless of what they may or may not know about God.

If you think that God is formless and just an impersonal energy named Brahman, you can follow the brahminical principles of austerity, truthfulness, mercy and cleanliness for advancement. If you think that God is just material nature meant to be enjoyed by the senses, follow the recommended sacrifices and rituals in fruitive activity to reach a higher end. If you think that God exists within the heart to be used for attaining terrific abilities, do meditational yoga and see the lasting benefits.

If you are fortunate enough to know God’s true position as Bhagavan, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, regularly recite His names in a mood of love: “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”. Think of Him always, remember His activities, and keep in mind His peerless vision. Just regularly hearing Vishvamitra’s words describing the attributes of Rama and Lakshmana fulfills the mission of life, of connecting with God and staying by His side.

Indeed, the purpose of every ritual and regulation, of every law code instituted and protected by the suras, is to taste the sweetness of the association of the Personality of Godhead. There is variety in this interaction, as Bhagavan is Shri Krishna, the two-handed youth who holds a flute in His hands and wears a peacock feather in His hair. Krishna is the delight of the Yadu dynasty, and He too protects the suras from their enemies. He offers protection through both His physical action and His pearls of wisdom presented in the Vedic texts like the Bhagavad-gita.

Regardless of your worshipable figure of choice - Krishna, Vishnu, Rama, or the generic God - the aim of life is to connect with the Supreme Lord, knowing that His protection is flawless. That protection’s existence is proven by the ability to think of Him, to rely on His names, forms and attributes to get us through difficult times, where the enemies of the devotees try to assert their influence. The weight of Lord Shiva’s bow was no match for Rama, and the same went for the attacks of the night-rangers. Rama and Lakshmana saved the day many thousands of years ago, and their names continue to rescue the fallen souls today.

In Closing:

“Of King Dasharatha these sons are a delight,

Jewels of Raghu’s clan, enemies of saints they fight.


With their arrows the demons they will vanquish,

So that saints their daily trepidation can relinquish.”


With Vishvamitra to Janakpur they go,

So that Rama can lift Lord Shiva’s bow.


For everyone’s benefit are made the rules,

Pious path to help both the intelligent and the fools.


But must be punished the breakers of the law,

Otherwise no safety, system to exist with flaws.


Rama and Lakshmana thus to saints are friends,

Worthy punishment to their enemies they send.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

How To Meditate

Lord Vishnu“He is a person, but His body is different from those of conditioned persons like us. Otherwise, meditation beginning from the pranava (omkara) up to the limbs of the personal body of Vishnu would not have been recommended by Shukadeva Gosvami for the attainment of complete spiritual perfection.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 2.1.19 Purport)

You meditate so that your mind can focus on something, so that whatever it is currently fixated on will be forgotten. In fact, your present troubles are primarily due to the mind that is uncontrolled, distracted by things that you know aren’t important in the long run, but which somehow grab your attention right now, despite your best efforts to forget them. Try telling yourself not to think about something and see how successful you are. In all likelihood, such a demand will make your mind contemplate upon the prohibited subject matter more than you did previously. But for meditation to be truly successful, it must have a tangible object of contemplation. Moreover, that object must not be of the same quality as that which we are trying to forget.

“Huh? What does this mean?” What we are trying to forget is known as maya in the Vedic tradition. As a Sanskrit word maya means “that which is not”. Think of the magician’s illusion or the deceiving picture that shows something to be what it is not. Then imagine basing your enthusiasm or despondency off of that illusion. Would that be very wise? Of course it wouldn’t, for you’d be acting off something that is not true. This entire world we live in is likened to a dream, something which remains manifest for as long as our sleep continues. As soon as we awake, the illusion vanishes.

magic tricksWhile dreaming at night we create situations that are imaginary, but the emotions we feel are real. In a similar manner, the pain, suffering and elation experienced through association with maya are certainly real, for otherwise we wouldn’t exist. The dreaming state is temporary, as is the manifestation of matter in front of us. With maya, the falsity is from the perspective of its relation to our true identity. At the core the living entities are pure spirit, which is transcendental to the ever-changing arrangement of matter and its component elements.

“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)

Birth in this dreamland is granted to any soul who wishes to be illusioned. Why would anyone prefer that state? Well, we know that we prefer to watch television programs and films that are fictitious. We purposefully try to forget that what we are experiencing is a scripted performance with paid actors who do multiple takes of the same scenes in order to get them right. If we were consciously aware of the production aspect during the time of viewing, we wouldn’t derive as much enjoyment.

In a similar manner, we think that we’ll be pleased in a state of ignorance, where we can compete for resources and vie for the post of “top dog” in the dreamland of the material universe. Of course this is a futile exercise, as since the dream must end, so must the temporary positions of power anyone finds. In addition, the happiness isn’t that great, as with every action there is a commensurate reaction. Happiness is mixed with sadness, and vice versa. The effort to acquire gains is difficult, and with each gain there is a new fear of loss. Hence anxiety knows no limits.

This brings us to meditation. For real peace, the mind requires something that is real to focus on. In the Vedic tradition, which features the origin of the practice of meditation, the focus is either on Brahman, which is the collection of individual spirit, or Paramatma, the localized Supreme Spirit. Brahman, which is essentially identical to Paramatma, does not have the duality that we encounter on a daily basis. Brahman is truth; it is light. It is unchanging and can only be seen through a purified vision acquired through rigorous training. Meditation is one of the training methods in seeing Brahman, and accompanying that practice is the sound vibration known as om.

“From the beginning of creation, the three syllables-om tat sat-have been used to indicate the Supreme Absolute Truth [Brahman]. They were uttered by brahmanas while chanting Vedic hymns and during sacrifices, for the satisfaction of the Supreme.”  (Lord Krishna, Bg. 17.23)

Lord KrishnaOm represents the Supreme Absolute Truth, the sum collection of spiritual fragments. We are all Brahman at the core, and together we make up the entire Brahman energy. The material nature is also Brahman, part of the aspect known as the mahat-tattva, but the meditation with the recitation of om focuses on the spiritual aspect only. The underlying purpose for meditation is to forget our temporary bodily features and conditions and instead focus on truth. Aham brahmasmi means “I am Brahman”, a fact worth remembering because of how easy it is to forget. Indeed, if you are never taught about your identity as Brahman, you will never discover it on your own.

At the same time, Brahman has a source. The entire spiritual energy is just a partial effulgence coming off of that source’s gigantic body. This body is different, however. It is eternal, blissful and full of knowledge. It does not change in the cycle of reincarnation as our bodies do. It has existed since time immemorial and will continue to exist into the infinite future. It also has other similarly eternal bodies that have the same divine qualities.

In the Shrimad Bhagavatam, the teacher Shukadeva Gosvami advises the materially attached person to meditate with the syllable om and focus on the various body parts of Lord Vishnu, the Supreme Lord in His four-armed form. You start by focusing on Vishnu’s feet and then work your way up. It is important to understand that with this recommendation the great speaker of the Bhagavatam is declaring undeniably that the body of the Supreme Lord is not like the material bodies.

How do we know this? If the goal of meditation is to focus on Brahman and not the body, why are we advised to focus on the body of someone else? Why would the central practice of meditation involve concentration on body parts that are maya? Thus we automatically deduce, without requiring further explanation that is provided anyway by the authorized Vedic texts, that Vishnu’s body is completely spiritual.

More visually appealing than Vishnu’s body is the form of Lord Krishna, considered the original Personality of Godhead. He has the same bluish complexion as Vishnu, but has two hands instead of four, and holds a flute in His hands and wears a peacock feather in His hair. Vishnu and Krishna are the same person, and it is just a matter of taste as to which personality to worship. There are also the Vishnu-tattva expansions, the incarnations that are equally as brilliant.

Lord KrishnaThe Supreme Lord is the source of Brahman, and thus there is no distinction between His body and His spirit. Meditation is one way to get closer to Him, especially if we are too materially engrossed to accept that a Supreme Lord exists and that He has wonderful features and pastimes. The amazing activities of Shri Krishna documented in the Vedic texts are taken to be mythology by the less intelligent, who only believe in things they have witnessed in their short time on earth, but even in that ignorant state all hope is not lost. The process of meditation is there to ease the transition to full knowledge, a tool to be taken advantage of, and om is one of its key components.

This is Krishna’s mercy, after all, that He allows any person to make advancement in consciousness despite their inauspicious mental condition. With the chanting of om, the mind may still be diverted towards other forms, as we are naturally drawn by attractiveness. Therefore the Vaishnavas regularly chant Krishna’s names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”, and never forget the sweetness of the Supreme Lord and His transcendental features. That constant remembrance ensures that the dream of maya ends very soon, with the devotee waking up to a new beginning filled with hope and light.

In Closing:

From attachment, material forms in mind stay,

So aim of meditation is from maya to draw away.


Consult the Vedas to learn of meditation that is real,

With a focused mind calming peace and felicity feel.


Shukadeva Goswami process of meditation recommends,

Chant om and towards limbs of God your eyes send.


But does not this represent a contradiction?

For attachment to matter already mind’s predilection.


In this way know that Vishnu’s form maya is not,

Meditate on Him for painful nightmare to stop.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


Sita and Rama“Tormented by the grief of separation from Rama, that lovely-eyed goddess must always come by this way, for she likes living in the forest and is accustomed to moving about in it.” (Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 14.47)

rāma śoka abhisamtaptā sā devī vāma locanā |
vana vāsa ratā nityam eṣyate vana cāriṇī ||

“Where do you go to find women? Not any specific woman, but just a female in general.” This kind of question opens the door to all sorts of stereotypes. The male chauvinist’s response might be the shopping mall, the beauty salon, or the local supermarket. Taking the same question and asking it of males, the typical guesses might be the sports bar, the racetrack, or the exercise facility. We see that in either case the responses relate to some type of material acquisition or enjoyment. What else does man know anyway? What else is one supposed to do with the time they are given away from work and school? For the highest transcendentalists, their time is spent in contemplation on the Supreme Absolute Truth, and thus they don’t require much. Because of their automatic spirit of renunciation, areas devoid of material amenities are where you can likely find them.

The ideal place for an ascetic is the forest. With respect to renunciation, the obvious appeal of the forest is that it is not meant for the human beings. The advanced intelligence of the human species allows for what is known as civilized life, where proper dwelling structures are erected and inhabitants commingle with each other in an organized way. In a civilized society, you don’t just run out and steal other people’s property and you don’t indulge the urges of the senses whenever you feel like it. There is morality and virtue to act as the guardrails necessary for a peaceful coexistence. Those rules can only be followed when there is the ability to understand them and know when and how they should be invoked.

forestAs the wilderness is reserved for the less intelligent animals, what could any human being want from there? Indeed, to take up residence in the forest is considered a type of punishment, a losing option in a bet, as it was for the Pandavas when their eldest brother Yudhishthira lost at a game of dice against his cheating cousins. Lord Rama, the eldest son of King Dasharatha, was exiled to the forest for fourteen years at the instigation of His father’s youngest wife, so obviously the person desiring such things considers them to be a punishment.

The punishment is considered more severe when the parties in question are accustomed to just the opposite kind of life. Imagine living in a beautiful palace where you have servants to attend to your every need. You wear the costliest ornaments and get the most attention in society because of your high standing. If you should grow accustomed to that lifestyle and then all of a sudden be forced to fend for yourself in the wilderness, you likely wouldn’t know what to do. The ascetics, however, have no trouble in the wilderness. Because they voluntarily go there to perform austerities, the forests they call home are known as tapo-vanas.

In ancient times, you could find many enlightened sages in such areas. They didn’t need material amenities because they had the greatest wealth in their devotion to God. Just a simple hut, some berries for food, rags for clothing, and water from the local river would suffice for a peaceful existence. This left ample time for chanting the holy names. Austerity was automatically built into the lifestyle, for how much could you accumulate when the areas around you weren’t abounding in material wealth?

For an enlightened sage to voluntarily choose the wilderness for the purpose of spiritual advancement was understandable, but how could a princess ever want that kind of life? Maybe if a woman was interested in connecting with the Supreme Absolute Truth it could be fathomed, but a princess lives in regal comforts. Her occupational duty when she reaches adulthood is to serve her husband, which involves maintaining a welcoming and peaceful environment at home. How is she going to entertain guests when there is no home? How is she going to serve her husband if he lives on practically nothing?

Yet Sita Devi, the daughter of King Janaka, had a fondness for the wilderness. Of course her mindset was exactly like that of the sages. She is the goddess of fortune, so she is constantly distributing opulence to those who please her. The owner of that opulence is the Supreme Lord, her husband, so she can never run out of gifts to give. Sita herself has no attachment to this opulence, as she considers the shade of her husband’s lotus feet to be more pleasurable than any material advancement, including mystic abilities such as flying through the air.

“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, Sita and Lakshmana in the forestIf with faith and renunciation you practice the ancient system of yoga, the original discipline that joins the individual soul with the Supersoul, you can travel through space, essentially having an out of body experience. An advanced mystic can travel to any planet in the material universe whenever they want. To accommodate this travel, they utilize the aerial path, something considered liberating and rewarding. Yet Sita boldly proclaimed to her husband Rama that she would not consider such an ability to be superior to the shade created by His wonderfully beautiful lotus feet.

Janaka’s daughter was always an ascetic in her thinking, and the theoretical became the practical when circumstances called for it. When her husband’s fourteen year exile punishment to the wilderness arrived, she had no trouble accompanying Him. In fact, it was at her insistence that she came along, for Rama wanted her to stay at home in Ayodhya, where she would be in better material conditions. Yet she was always fond of going to the woods, especially to visit sages and distribute gifts to them.

Shri Hanuman was keenly aware of this distinguishing feature of Rama’s wife. He used that knowledge to try to ascertain her location while in the Ashoka grove in Lanka. Sita had been taken there against her will by that land’s evil king, Ravana. Now Hanuman, Rama’s messenger, had infiltrated the area and was eagerly anticipating meeting with Sita to give her the news that Rama was on His way to rescue her.

In the above referenced verse from the Ramayana, Hanuman is perched on a tree and looking down at a specific area inside the garden of Ashoka trees. He refers to Sita as a lovely-eyed goddess who likes living in the forest. She is described as a vana-charini, or one who is accustomed to traversing the woods. This is certainly a strange description for a princess, but it fits in with her renounced attitude. What need does Sita have for royal opulence when her husband is the most beautiful, the most renounced, the strongest, the wisest, the most famous, and the wealthiest living entity in all the creation?

Hanuman meeting SitaThough at the time she wasn’t moving about, Hanuman rightfully guessed that Sita would be thinking of Rama, being aggrieved over separation from Him. This contemplation is a kind of yoga, and it brings a higher bliss than actually being in the Lord’s company. The separation creates a situation where the glorious attributes of the distant party are contemplated even more, and since in Rama’s case those features are divine, they give so much pleasure to the person thinking about them.

From Sita’s example it should be known that renunciation is automatic for the devotee who cherishes God’s association. She maintained this renounced attitude, this fondness for the woods, even after reuniting with her husband. If Rama was with her then any area could be considered Vaikuntha, or the spiritual realm that is free of anxiety. In a similar manner, if we should be fortunate and wise enough to always chant the holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”, this material existence, which is likened to a vast ocean that is difficult to cross over, becomes as small as the hoof-print of a calf. Renunciation from unnecessary material attachment is a trait found in the saints, and through their example they show how that renunciation manifests and why it is significant.

In Closing:

For material opulence Rama’s wife has no taste,

In useless engagements never her time to waste.


Though princess, Sita in the forest you are likely to find,

Giving gifts to the sages, keeping their worship in mind.


As wife of Narayana opulence she has the most,

But due to devotion in renunciation she is also foremost.


To find Sita in Lanka, Hanuman given a tall order,

But of the sincere devotee God is a rewarder.


That Sita accustomed to traversing forest Hanuman knew,

So soon he was to meet her, give her news of Rama too.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Creating Trouble

KrishnaAndYashoda“First a complaint was lodged with mother Yashoda about Krishna's stealing, but mother Yashoda did not chastise Him. Now, in an attempt to awaken mother Yashoda's anger so that she would chastise Krishna, another complaint was invented-that Krishna had eaten earth.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 10.8.32 Purport)

If a dependent does something which is against the rules, which is forbidden for them, the caretaker has to stop what they are doing and give attention. When the rules are being followed without a problem, where is the cause for concern? When will the opportunity come for correcting the mistakes of the dependent? Knowing full well this need within the loving caretakers, the Supreme Personality of Godhead creates situations where that love can be offered. In Vrindavana a long time ago, He occasionally broke the rules on purpose to grab the attention of loving caretakers like His mother. And even when He might have been innocent, just the thought that He might have done something wrong resulted in the same affectionate attention from His mother.

What sorts of things would Krishna do? One time, His friends lodged a complaint that He had eaten dirt. Dirt, or earth, can be used to create pots and other similar containers, but it is not an edible substance. Children don’t know any better, so it wouldn’t be that surprising if they eat dirt. In the modern age, if you have a newborn child, you will want to “baby proof” your home. This requires placing plastic plugs that are difficult to remove into the electric sockets. If you place the plug of an ordinary appliance into the socket, the child could tug on the wire and thus free up the socket. This is another point of danger, as the plug is meant to be removed from the end and not from pulling on the wire. If you pull the wire, the wire could tear, causing an electrical charge to strike the person holding the wire. The appliance could also break in the process.

Baby proofing a socketOther steps in baby proofing involve putting small gates in front of stairs and placing latches around kitchen cabinets. The child doesn’t know how to climb stairs, so if they try, they could fall down and get seriously hurt. The cabinets are full of different materials and boxes. If the containers should spill over the child could get injured. Also, different cleaning agents stored underneath the sink contain toxins which should never be ingested. The child doesn’t know about this, so it is up to the parents to protect them.

If the child should eat dirt, the parents must correct the situation. If they let it go, the child may think that they can just eat anything, whenever they want. What if there are foreign substances within the dirt? What if the child decides that it is okay to swallow chewing gum? In this way we see that a good parent cannot be lax for even a moment in their oversight of their child’s activities. One slip up could cause lasting damage.

Mother Yashoda learned that Krishna had eaten dirt. At least this was the allegation made by Krishna’s friends and His brother. It was a little humorous that they would go to the mother with the complaint. This showed that Krishna was the leader of the group, that no one could tell Him what to do. It was His idea to previously steal butter from the homes of the neighbors. Through Krishna’s influence, which is splendorous by all accounts, the young cowherd boys would sneak into the homes, set up ladder systems by aligning mortars and planks, and then climb high to reach the pots of butter that were secretly tucked away.

The boys knew that Krishna would have to listen to His mother. She had previously punished Him for breaking a pot of butter in anger. Now their leader was in danger of punishment again for possibly having eaten dirt. Of course Krishna is the Supreme Lord, so He does everything by His own will. This fact is constantly reinforced in the Vedic literature, which presents the highest system of spirituality known to man.

Krishna and BalaramaHow can we say this with certainty? The current situation in the world with respect to religion is evidence of the need for the Vedas. As there is generally no consideration given to the distinction between matter and spirit, the primary aim, irrespective of a person’s faith or lack thereof, is to be as materially successful as possible. This requires industry and growth in the economy, which seem to have a negative impact on the environment. The fact is that whether one is consuming oil or any other type of fuel, it is the desire for fruitive gain that causes the negative reaction. And that reaction relates to the loss of austerity, cleanliness, mercy and truthfulness.

These four attributes are required for simple living and high thinking, which combine to create lasting happiness. One side is religious and the other is not, but both are looking for fruitive gain. If I can rise to the top of a company without praying to God, what need do I have for religion? By the same token, if I spend my day praying for God to give me stuff, of what value is that prayer if others already get what they want without praying?

From the very beginning the Vedic instruction stipulates that material nature does not represent one’s identity. Brahman is truth, and every life force is part of Brahman. The temporary changes are no different from the changing of clothes each night. To take your identity from your current outfit is silly, and along the same lines to base your identity off your position in opulence or squalor is equally as flawed.

The Vedas continue one step further. Beyond the realization of Brahman and the dissociation from maya, or material nature, the spirit soul, the vibrant force for action within living creatures, has an urge for service. You can see evidence of this with human behavior. When there is no real religion guiding human beings, they will make up their own religions. One group looks to serve in government, while another wants to save the environment. Another thinks that helping the poor is the highest engagement in life, while another looks to stamp out disease.

While intentions may be noble, the pursuits are rooted in illusion. The inkling for service is meant to be directed towards the Supreme Personality, whose transcendental features are so nicely described in texts like the Shrimad Bhagavatam. It is in that wonderful work that we find accounts of Lord Krishna’s pastimes, which teach so many lessons. Yashoda, though a wife of a cowherd king and a mother, was engaged in devotional service, i.e. loving God.

Krishna and YashodaDevotion to God is a dynamic endeavor, devoid of monotony. It doesn’t have to be the same thing every day, and neither is it limited to one or two activities. Looking into Krishna’s mouth is equally as beneficial as praying before the deity or chanting the holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”.

If you offer service to your community, family, or nation, you are limited in your ability to affect the outcome. For instance, if I have an issue of public importance that I am passionate about, I need to rally support for the cause in order to really make a difference. Politics follows this formula. In the private sector, if you don’t like a particular product, you no longer buy it. You move on to something else. You have some power as an individual, though the product manufacturers will still follow the trends set by the consumers as a group. In the public sector, however, you need the support of your fellow man in order to exercise the same individual choice. To influence votes, you need money, which automatically gives the wealthier lobbying groups an advantage.

In devotional service, all you need is sincerity. The offerings made in an authorized manner, following the instruction of a bona fide spiritual master, make their way directly to Krishna, who then adds His personal intervention to deliver the benefits. Krishna made sure to get accused of eating dirt to allow His mother to be mesmerized by the vision of the universal form. Of course, superior to that vision is the sweet, charming face of her young boy, who is the savior for the fallen souls.

In Closing:

As God, Krishna can do whatever He likes,

Through accusation set up a wonderful sight.


Naughty boy always with danger did flirt,

Now He would get in trouble for eating dirt.


Mother Yashoda, this accusation against son was told,

By Balarama and friends, eager for punishment to unfold.


This gave Yashoda a chance to be a parent good,

That child shouldn’t eat dirt must be understood.


Her son denied allegation with confidence,

Made her look into His mouth for evidence.


Son led devoted mother to a vision that inspired awe,

Universal form in Shri Krishna’s mouth she saw.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Chanting Om

OM“The devotees directly fix their minds on the Person of the Absolute Truth. But one who is unable to accommodate such personal features of the Absolute is disciplined in impersonality to train the mind to make further progress.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 2.1.17 Purport)

So you’re having trouble accepting the fact that the Supreme Absolute Truth can be a personality with an exquisitely beautiful form. If it’s just too much to believe that the person the rest of the world refers to as God can have two hands that hold a flute, a peacock feather in His hair, and the most enchanting smile anyone has ever seen, the defiance is still no justification for rejecting spiritual life altogether. Rather, there are gradual steps available to accommodate any person along the train of purification of consciousness. The sacred syllable om is the trusted source for spiritual contact for one who has yet to taste the sweet nectar of Krishna’s association.

Radha and KrishnaThe taste can only come through contact within the proper mood. On my way to work I can see a pizza pie in a shop every day for years on end, but unless I actually buy a slice and eat the dish I won’t know how good it tastes. In a similar manner, giving a passing glance to Krishna, hearing His name without attention, or just reading about some of His activities without the requisite attitude will not elicit the proper emotional response within the recipient. So many personalities are purported to be God, so healthy skepticism in this regard is generally a good thing. After all, why would I want to believe what someone else tells me just on blind faith? I have a value to add to society with my ability to work, so why should I waste any effort doing something whose validity I’m not entirely confident of?

If there is hesitancy with believing in Krishna’s divinity, there is still His impersonal feature which can be contemplated upon. In the state of ignorance there is also worship, but the object of attention is the external energy, which is known as maya. “That which is not” is the way to define the Supreme Lord’s illusory energy. You look in the mirror and check out your hair and assess whether or not you look good, but you’re not seeing who you really are. That picture in the mirror changes at every second, and over the course of many years those changes are easier to notice. Yet you are the same person today that you were when you emerged from the womb. In between that time there was no exit from your current form followed by a reentry.

The identifying aspect within you is known as the soul. That energy which you think represents you but really doesn’t is known as maya. In the basic scientific analysis, there is the understanding that all individual forces of life are spirit and not this illusory energy. But to understand these facts is difficult even when learning them from authorized sources. Therefore there are techniques that can be used to keep that realization within your mind, allowing you to act off of it.

After all, knowing such valuable pieces of information should influence the way you behave. If I do eat that slice of pizza that I’ve been seeing for so long, it may not be important to me what the ingredients are. What does it matter to me what goes into the dish if I’m only interested in tasting it? But knowledge of spirit and matter is helpful because it can positively influence behavior in all areas. Every kind of misery is due to ignorance of these laws of the spiritual science, and so when that ignorance is slashed away by the sword of knowledge, you can automatically find a pleasurable condition in situations that were previously only conducive to pain and heartache.

“In this world, there is nothing so sublime and pure as transcendental knowledge. Such knowledge is the mature fruit of all mysticism. And one who has achieved this enjoys the self within himself in due course of time.”  (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.38)

Lord KrishnaA primary source of distress is death, which has an accompanying negative force known as fear. Just as the ripened fruit has no other fear than to fall, the mature human being has no other worry than eventual death. Under the system of transcendental knowledge, the fear relating to the exit from the body is unfounded, as the vibrant spiritual force cannot be killed. This is the most difficult fact to realize and remember on an ongoing basis because once the soul does exit the body, we are no longer privy to its location. While it is within the moving form, we can tell that the spirit is present based on the autonomous functions of the living being.

“After being situated in this yoga practice and vibrating the sacred syllable om, the supreme combination of letters, if one thinks of the Supreme Personality of Godhead and quits his body, he will certainly reach the spiritual planets.”  (Lord Krishna, Bg. 8.13)

One way to understand these higher truths and use them to your benefit is to chant the sacred syllable om. Om is the sound vibration representation of the Absolute Truth. Know that spirit is not affected by duality. Spirit is neither up nor down; neither hot nor cold. Spirit is pure truth; it is unchanging. Since every living being is spirit, there is an aggregate total which is called Brahman in the Vedas, the ancient scriptures of India. Om directly addresses Brahman, and through chanting that sound one can hopefully remain aware of their true nature as spirit.

Accompanying the chanting of om are several important restrictions. The aim is to understand that you are spirit and not matter, so obviously you have to get rid of the prior behavior that was based off your misunderstanding. If you used to drink heavily to become intoxicated to escape the influence of the senses, you will no longer do that if you know that drinking is bad for you. That is just one type of behavior based on illusion, the association with the body, so we can imagine just how many other activities there are that further strengthen the bond to the temporary form and its relationships.

So within the routine of connecting with Brahman, there are restrictions on the most sinful behaviors. This guiding principle is known as vairagya, or renunciation. If there is a serious desire to chant om and understand the Absolute Truth, then the more renunciation the better. The more distractions you can take away , the better chance you will have for staying Brahman realized.

This path of spiritual life is considered very difficult due to the present circumstances in society. Dharma is the occupational duty of the living entity that helps keep them Brahman realized, but in the current age of quarrel and hypocrisy there is so much cheating that dharma is difficult to decipher. Rather than accept the true principles of religion from the beginning of life, there is constant competition between factions who each essentially make up their own meaning to life and how to fulfill it.

“One who is thus transcendentally situated at once realizes the Supreme Brahman. He never laments nor desires to have anything; he is equally disposed to every living entity. In that state he attains pure devotional service unto Me.”  (Lord Krishna, Bg. 18.54)

Lord KrishnaThe path of personal worship is superior in both ease of implementation and end reward. Brahman has a source, as it is just the spiritual light beaming off of the incredibly effulgent Supreme Personality of Godhead. He is the cherished end for the truly wise, who are able to accept that a person is behind these intricate concepts such as Brahman and maya. Though it may be difficult to accept His existence due to the defiant attitude solidified through many births in a temporary land, the association in the proper mood is what reveals the truth to His existence. The practice of the principles of spiritual life aimed at understanding Brahman can get one properly situated to understand and relish the Supreme Lord’s personal features.

And who isn’t attracted by attractiveness? Krishna is the most beautiful, and this beauty is present in all aspects that directly represent Him. His name is one of these non-different aspects, so just by chanting, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”, you can get the same benefit of chanting om and much more. The personality traits, features and pastimes accompany the name of Krishna, and with those additional aspects you get many more items of contemplation. You can also offer service to a personality, whereas with an impersonal force all you can do is meditate.

The service to Krishna comes in the form of chanting His names, visiting places of relevance to Him, reading books about Him, and associating with others who are devoted to Him. The entire collection of available activities is known as bhakti-yoga, or devotional service. It is the easiest discipline to implement but the most difficult to accept with conviction. The humble attitude in surrender is required to feel the bliss of Krishna’s association, and the more that attitude strengthens, the more pleasure there is for the devotee. The impersonal force of Brahman is simultaneously understood by Krishna’s servant, who learns to not only see Brahman everywhere but to also appreciate its influence and how the illusory energy of maya can play such wonderful tricks. Om itself is a wonderful benediction, as it allows any person to make progress along the proper spiritual path, irrespective of their initial inclination.

In Closing:

On worshiping personal form you’re not keen,

As never to you has a blue god with flute been seen.


Though not ideal, this obstinacy can still be okay,

For to understand God there are many different ways.


With firm faith the sacred syllable om you can say,

Thus understand impersonal Brahman you may.


But know that this path has many a restriction,

To know Brahman and worship matter a contradiction.


On the other hand, if you follow bhakti’s course,

You can know Krishna, Brahman’s original source.


Process of chanting om from Him has come,

Thus in benevolence He is number one.


In the proper mood chant Krishna’s names instead,

The soul with much needed spiritual nectar to be fed.

Krishna's Mercy