Saturday, June 23, 2012

Don’t Just Leave Me Alone

Lord Krishna“Mother Yashoda was agitated by Krishna's restless misbehavior. Her house was full of sweetmeats. Why then should the restless boy eat dirt in a solitary place?” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 10.8.34 Purport)

To help in concentration, the studious worker prefers to be left alone. “I’m working on something right now, so I don’t want any distractions. I need to focus. If you bother me with this problem or that, I will lose my momentum, and it will be difficult to start back up again after having diverted my attention elsewhere. If I can continue on the task for a few straight hours, everything can get done; otherwise things will be left half-finished, and that will not be good.” For the sweethearts who keep the vision of the darling of Vrindavana in their minds in spite of their outside obligations, not only are they not left alone, they are given constant problems that will further enhance that remembrance. The nuisances are created by the famous butter-thief Himself for both His own pleasure and the delight of the affected parties.

Though the housewife is technically not considered to be employed in a full-time job, she actually holds the most responsible position. She receives no pay and she is on call twenty-four hours a day. There is no time that she clocks in or out, and she is the support system if anything should go wrong. In IT infrastructures, the servers and network connections must remain on during critical operation hours. If you have an application like an e-commerce website, you’re getting traffic at all hours of the day, including the morning, when most people aren’t working and are instead at home resting up for the hard day of work ahead.

But what if the website goes down? What if one of the databases suddenly becomes full or a backup job fails that causes the transaction log to fill up? What if one of the internet service providers has a failure in the middle of the night that causes your site to go down? What if someone decided to apply patches to the operating systems overnight, causing the servers to reboot? These and many other issues can arise at any time, and to deal with them there are alert systems in place. Depending on the level of support you are required to supply, you could be awoken at any hour in the night to come in and fix the emergency situation as quickly as possible.

Along similar lines, the good mother takes care of the house and the children throughout the day, making sure that everyone is happy. The husband is the biggest child, as he has specific likes and dislikes and requires things to be done a certain way. Unlike the younger child, he is more complex in his dealings, as he may not always be forthright with his sentiments. The experienced wife learns the moods of her husband and adjusts accordingly, almost learning to play him like a fiddle, playfully speaking of course.

The younger children are a little easier to get a handle on psychologically, but their uninhibited attitude makes emergency situations a frequent occurrence. At any time, the child can have an accident, start crying, or demand attention. But the housewife has so much else to do. She has to clean clothes, cook meals, keep the house neat and in order, and also welcome guests. What would a home be if you couldn’t be hospitable to the guests who visit? In the Vedic tradition, hospitality is stipulated as being part of dharma, or religiosity.

Mother Yashoda and KrishnaFor one particular mother a long time ago, the daily obligations were many. She lived in a farm community named Vrindavana, and there were no modern amenities to speed up her routine work. She had to take care of her husband, Nanda Maharaja, the king of the small community. She had many cows in her possession as well, and they required protection. She had to take the milk produced by them and turn it into various products like yogurt, cream and butter.

But attention was required most for her young child Krishna, who was a bundle of joy but also naughty and clever. His vision was precious, having a blackish complexion and a smile to curb anyone’s pride. The people of Vrindavana loved Krishna, and without motive. They were so happy to have Him as a resident. It was a close-knit community, so Yashoda’s delight used to roam around freely, going from house to house to spread His effulgence. He would also tend to the young calves with His brother Balarama and the other cowherd boys in Vrindavana.

So it seems like mother Yashoda should have been free to do her work, no? Just feed the husband and children, and the rest of the time take care of her household obligations? Krishna would play with His friends during the day, so this was sort of like sending Him off to school. She would pack His lunch for Him, and the boys would eat together, sometimes playing a pass-around game, where one boy would take another’s lunch and try to keep him from getting it.

“While passing through the forest, one boy stole another boy's lunch package and passed it to a third. And when the boy whose lunch package was stolen came to know of it, he tried to take it back. But one threw it to another boy. This sportive playing went on amongst the boys as childhood pastimes.”  (Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 1, Ch 12)

Though Krishna would play outside quite frequently, mother Yashoda’s day was not free of interruptions. This young child was the enemy of King Kamsa of the neighboring town of Mathura. On the day of his sister’s wedding, a prophecy was made that the king would die at the hands of his sister’s eighth child. Kamsa didn’t take any chances, imprisoning Devaki and her new husband Vasudeva and then killing each of her first seven children. But the eighth one slipped away, as Krishna can never be caught unless He agrees to it.

Vasudeva taking Krishna to VrindavanaVasudeva transferred Krishna to Gokula Vrindavana after He emerged from Devaki’s womb, but Kamsa later on found out about the boy’s birth and location. He sent demon after demon to the sacred town to try to kill the baby. Should have been easy work, no? This was no ordinary child, however. Where there is beauty, fame and splendor, there is usually strength as well. Never mind the childhood form, Krishna had no trouble defeating these wicked characters.

While Krishna was actually safe the whole time, these attacks meant that Yashoda was in constant worry, wondering how her young child was able to escape trouble. When not worrying about His safety from enemy attack, Yashoda was concerned by the fact that Krishna kept going into the homes of neighbors and stealing their butter. The neighboring cowherd women would lodge complaints against her son, but when seeing His enchanting smile, they forgot all about their anger. They then asked Yashoda not to punish Him.

As if these distractions weren’t enough, one day Balarama and the other boys came to the mother and said that Krishna had eaten dirt. One more thing to worry about for the mother, who could not catch a break. She had so much work to do, and Krishna kept interrupting her. Why was He eating dirt? That is not a good thing at all. He should have known better.

Ah, but this distraction would give Yashoda a vision so mesmerizing that her love for her son would only increase as a result. Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and to delight His devotees He sometimes distracts them from their outside work. To maintain the body is not very difficult, though in the modern society hinged upon stiff competition and the race for technological advancement, just earning a living to feed yourself and keep a roof over your head is difficult. Nevertheless, there is more to life than just eating and sleeping. We have an existence for a reason, and it’s not to earn money, play video games, drink beer, or sit around and do nothing.

The purpose to the existence is to feel pleasure, the transcendental variety. As Krishna is the reservoir of pleasure, He best supplies the needed ananda to the living entity. The stipulation is that one must be desirous of tasting that transcendental nectar. Even then, so many other distractions can arise, as the daily obligations require much time and effort to be diverted. But when there is determination to appreciate and love Krishna, the grand coordinator personally intervenes to show His presence. Mother Yashoda was benefitted by these regular distractions, for she got to see and think of her beloved son even more. Thanks to the sacred Shrimad Bhagavatam and the Vaishnava saints who explain the real meanings behind the many verses to sincere listeners, that same bundle of joy can distract us daily with His sweet pastimes.

In Closing:

To finish task you must work very hard,

Limited distractions help to go extra yard.


From diversions your momentum will drop,

Difficult to start again after a full stop.


But when motivation for divine love is pure,

Know that distractions to come for sure.


Except they will always be to the benefit of you,

Interruption welcome from child with beautiful hue.


Responsibility for many tasks Yashoda did own,

But her naughty son Krishna not to leave her alone.


Loving mother deserved to feel supreme delight,

So Krishna to show His smiling face always so bright.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Shrugging It Off

King Janaka“Feeling bad over his vow after understanding what it meant, the king started to lament. Yet he kept himself very patient and went and showed his guests the svayamvara grounds, offering them all kinds of respect.” (Janaki Mangala, Chand 6.1)

lāge bisūrana samujhi pana mana bahuri dhīraja āni kai |
lai cale dekhāvana rangabhūmi aneka bidhi sanamāni kai ||

“Uh oh. I made a big mistake. What seemed like a good idea at the time is now turning out the wrong way. Everyone is watching me too, so how do I hide my feelings? I’m not just a little sad; I’m utterly dejected. How am I going to fix things so that my previous error does not result in the worst possible loss? I made my decision based on the good counsel of people I trust, and there was deliberation, because the decision would have resounding effects. It wasn’t a choice made on a whim, and still somehow now it looks like it was a mistake. Oh well, what choice do I have but to continue on, to pretend like I am not affected?”

The mind can move very quickly, and so thoughts like these rushed through King Janaka’s mind within a few seconds after he glanced upon the jewel of the Raghu dynasty, Lord Rama. The eldest son of King Dasharatha had a beauty that seemed unimaginable. Lord Brahma is the creator, so every visible covering on an individual is his handiwork. Sort of like the sculptor who takes their raw materials to make something beautiful, Brahma has the ability to give any person beauty, wealth, good parentage and intelligence. Yet Rama’s beauty was something out of this world. His younger brother Lakshmana, who was accompanying Him at the time, had an almost identical countenance, with the lone exception his bodily complexion, which was fair while Rama’s was dark.

The thought was that these two boys must have been Brahma’s first creation. Then, with whatever elements he had left over he created the rest of the world and its creatures. King Janaka had previously felt brahmasukha, or the pleasure of realizing Brahman. That happiness is not tasted by everyone. In fact, it is one of the most difficult pleasures to find, as no amount of exercise or money can bring it about. Only through steadfast practice in yoga, with a mind connected to the impersonal feature of the Supreme Spirit, can one even think of tasting the transcendental association of Brahman.

Janaka tasted brahmasukha from practicing yoga while simultaneously carrying out his occupational duties as a king. This is the method of practice followed by the most elevated transcendentalists. The eligibility for tasting transcendental happiness is not dependent on gender, social status, or explicit desire for yoga. Many years later a sweet mother in the farm community of Vrindavana would follow Janaka’s behavior, tending to her household chores throughout the day but remaining in yoga the whole time.

As Janaka could carry out a king’s duties, which require passion in defending the innocent and detachment in distributing charity, without breaking his yoga, any temporary bout of elation or sadness surely couldn’t phase him. But the vision of Rama had a profound effect on him. Rama and Lakshmana were visiting the kingdom with Vishvamitra Muni. Think of a set of bodyguards who protect a priest and you sort of get an idea of the particular role of the two brothers. They were disciples at the same time, so they treated Vishvamitra like their revered spiritual master, whose orders are never to be disobeyed. The muni derived tremendous pleasure from being protected by the brothers, who though young at the time could defeat the most powerful enemies.

!Bj-228wBGk~$(KGrHqUOKjkEsn3GyL,oBLVrLnMJyg~~_3At the time Janaka was holding a svayamvara for his beautiful daughter Sita Devi. The marriage hadn’t been arranged yet; the groom would be chosen from the visitors. As the daughter of the most pious king deserves the most chivalrous prince for a husband, a contest would determine the winner of Sita’s hand. Whoever could lift Lord Shiva’s extremely heavy bow would win the company of Sita, the goddess of fortune. She would grace the triumphant prince with her beautiful vision every day, and she would bless his family with great fortune.

Janaka settled upon the contest option after consulting with his priests. He wanted only the best for his daughter, so any ordinary fellow would not do. But now seeing Rama, Janaka remembered his vow and started to lament. Why the worry? Well, what if Rama didn’t win the contest? What if He failed to lift the bow? Then, by rule, Sita couldn’t marry Rama. Janaka settled upon the contest because he couldn’t think of a suitable husband for her. But now here He was, more perfect than anyone could imagine. We each have our own idea of what a perfect person is, but the Supreme Lord breaks all boundaries of thought. The human brain has limited abilities, which means that imagination is limited as well. No one could ever imagine Rama’s beauty, which was accompanied by His terrific character. No one is more respectful than Rama, and since He had protected Vishvamitra from the attacks of vile creatures like Tataka, no one was more powerful than He. His family line was also splendid. So everything about Him was compatible with Sita.

As if dealt a blow to the stomach, Janaka couldn’t get the vow out of his mind. What a mistake he had made, or so he thought. Despite the situation, he shook off the despondency and took his guests around the svayamvara grounds. Such a great king never allows anyone else to know that he’s not doing well. Why would he want to bring everyone else down? He was the host after all. It is said in the above referenced verse from the Janaki Mangala that the guests were given all sorts of respect as they were shown around. To disrespect a guest means to make them feel unwelcome. If the host should burden the guests with their problems immediately upon their arrival, what sort of welcome would that be?

Janaka’s worries would turn out to benefit him in the end. For starters, it would add some anticipation to the contest. When Rama would step up to the arena, all eyes would be on Him, with many praying to God for His victory. This is ironic considering that Rama is the person who would hear those prayers. Deciding to grace the Raghu dynasty with His presence, Rama was the Supreme Personality of Godhead in the guise of a human being, with His primary mission to take out the evil element concentrated on the island of Lanka at the time. Thus there was no way for Rama to fail at lifting the bow.

Rama lifting Lord Shiva's bowJanaka’s vow also further enhanced the glory of Rama, and Lakshmana too. Rama is celebrated today for lifting a bow that no one else could even move, and Lakshmana is His faithful younger brother. A younger brother like that is loved and appreciated by an elder one like Rama, who has such good qualities. The king’s vow increased the fame of the Raghu dynasty, which had previously set the table for Rama to appear in its family. The king and his queens who raised Rama were made proud on that day, and all the people of Ayodhya who loved and adored Rama basked in His victory as well.

If the vow had not been taken, or if it had been revoked, the grandeur of the event would have been diminished. Janaka would have been blamed for being dishonest, someone who doesn’t follow through on what they say. Though he felt sad over having made a vow that had the potential to hurt him, he nevertheless stayed true to his character, giving respect to Vishvamitra, Rama and Lakshmana. Thus Janaka gives a great example on how to live life. So many decisions will be made that don’t pan out or which seem like they will bring bad results. There is no such thing as peace in a land where everything is temporary. If you win the lottery and have all your expenses taken care of for the rest of your life, you still have to worry over what to do with your time. You have to make sure to protect your winnings as well.

There can never be full protection in a place where everything is destined for destruction, be it in one day or one hundred years. Therefore the concern over the outcome of events never should take precedence. The attention to dharma, or religiosity, is what proves to provide the ultimate good to the individual, as it did for Janaka. He stayed true to his vow to uphold religious principles, harboring love for the Supreme Lord all the while. That love was all that was required to have the right outcome: Rama as Sita’s husband.

In Closing:

Commitment to hospitality is the host’s test,

Must make feel welcome and wanted the guest.


With fear over uncertain outcomes mind is harassed,

But burden on to arriving guests shouldn’t be passed.


Lament from vow consuming Janaka the host,

But resolve from him now required the most.


To give respect to his word the people he owed,

So visitors the svayamvara grounds he showed.


With fear over outcomes no need to be consumed,

From Shri Rama’s strength blissful end always assume.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Smaller Than The Smallest

Lord Krishna“One should meditate upon the Supreme Person as the one who knows everything, as He who is the oldest, who is the controller, who is smaller than the smallest, who is the maintainer of everything, who is beyond all material conception, who is inconceivable, and who is always a person. He is luminous like the sun and, being transcendental, is beyond this material nature.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 8.9)

It is natural to be enchanted by things which are great. Especially if the object or ability in question is something that we can’t conceptualize, it will grab our attention. For instance, if we play a particular sport ourselves, if we should see someone else excel beyond imagination in it, we will be intrigued by their ability. During the course of our day-to-day dealings we develop frames of reference with respect to the life around us, so seeing things which surpass those reference points in magnitude will surely be considered unique and worthy of attention.

When the focus shifts to spiritual life, as is known to happen due to the guaranteed arrival of death, the same attraction towards greatness carries over. “If there is a God, He must be tremendous. He must be more amazing than anything else I have ever seen. Seeing this greatness will give evidence to His existence. Without visual proof, I can’t believe that He really exists.” This is only an immature understanding, however. The reason is that the nature of the world we live in is such that what we consider amazing really isn’t. Everything is just a gross collection of matter anyway, and for that matter to move and shift there must be a superior guiding force. The size of that force is infinitesimally small, so the truly amazing is that which can also be smaller than the smallest.

“O best among the Bharatas [Arjuna], four kinds of pious men render devotional service unto Me — the distressed, the desirer of wealth, the inquisitive, and he who is searching for knowledge of the Absolute.”  (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.16)

The turn towards spiritual life occurs when there is distress, inquisitiveness about higher truths, a desire to receive a benediction, or a thirst for information about that which we already know to be the Absolute Truth. The distress scenario is understandable, such as when there is a sudden death of a loved one. You see someone so frequently that you start to take their association for granted, but then one day they are no longer with you. “Where did they go? Why did they have to leave? I know that I’m going to die too, but why?” This automatically lessens the significance of the perceived greatness around us, for what’s the big deal if one can collect a large amount of matter for personal enjoyment if they have to quit their body eventually? In this way distress can also spark inquisitiveness about how everything works.

The desire to receive a benediction, such as the accumulation of wealth, is still rooted in ignorance, but at least you acknowledge that there is a higher authority. A personal benefit will last only for as long as your body is intact, and even then such a length of manifestation is only for rare cases. For instance, how many of the gifts we’ve sought out remained relevant in importance to us all the way up until the end of life? Most of the time the enjoyment is short-lived, for we find one toy we enjoy today but then move on to another one tomorrow.

If one actually knows that there is an Absolute Truth, finding out more about Him takes the focus away from greatness in terms of material collection and instead shifts the attention towards the true position of the Supreme Master and how He is able to be both larger than the largest and smaller than the smallest. The initial inclination towards largeness is based on ignorance of the laws of the spiritual science. The ability in all creatures is the Supreme Soul, who lives side by side with the individual soul, or atma. It is the presence of the soul that indicates life, that gives meaning to a collection of matter. When the soul departs, we consider the body to be dead, but as long as it is there, the body is alive and capable of action.

When ignorant of these scientific facts, which are so nicely presented in the Vedic texts like the Bhagavad-gita, the focus stays on greatness. Someone who has a lot of money is considered superior because they don’t have to worry about where to eat and where to live. They also show how to receive the highest return on their work. One person is working all day in a factory, while another is working all day in an office, so why should the fruits of labor be different? If two people output the same amount of energy, the result of that output will determine which work is superior. As a higher salary indicates a greater result, the person earning it must be considered superior in both knowledge and usage of their time.

Lost in this analysis is the fact that the animals, which are considered less intelligent, put in far less effort to find the same enjoyment. Without working in a factory or an office, they find food, clothing and shelter. They can eat, sleep, mate and defend without major hassles. They are so worry free that they don’t have any mental or emotional burdens. Sure, they can’t enjoy high culture like arts and philosophy, but if the human being only desires gross enjoyment of the senses, then the animal has the superior existence.

Without knowledge of spirit, when hearing about God the initial demand is to see greatness. Yet such is the benevolence of the Supreme Master that He accounts for this tendency in man. If you should insist on seeing how great God is, using your own ignorance of the futility of material acquisition to form a flawed barometer, the Supreme Lord can show you His virat-rupa, or universal form. Think of the full collection of everything, the biggest truck that holds the most amount of stuff. This is what the virat-rupa can be likened to. It has the total collection of identifiable living entities and their material coverings. When you see this form, you have essentially seen it all.

Krishna showing universal formIf you don’t believe in God you can still imagine this form, as it certainly exists. Let’s say that we work inside of a factory. Just because we stay in a room the entire time doesn’t mean that there are not other areas to the building. The entire collection of rooms and objects that make up the factory does exist. Similarly, everything in the universe belongs to a singular collection, and that sum total is one way to think of God. The universal form is thus geared towards those who value greatness in terms of large collections. The Supreme Lord is wonderful because He is everything.

But the advanced transcendentalists don’t focus on the virat-rupa. That’s because to them there are aspects to the Supreme Lord which are more noteworthy. What significance does a collection of matter have anyway, especially if we are to quit our body at the end of life? The soul is the same when it is in an ant’s body as it is in a human’s body, so the greatness with respect to ability and possessions is relatively immaterial. Spiritual ability is more amazing, the fact that from one person so many fragments of spirit have come. In addition, there is an inherent relationship between the source and the expansions. There is a simultaneous oneness and difference between the Supreme Lord and the living entities.

More amazing than God’s universal manifestation is His ability to take on the tiniest form that runs through the courtyard in the home of mother Yashoda and Maharaja Nanda. The devoted souls focus on this aspect of the Supreme Lord because it is more delightful, and it gives further insight into His true nature, of how He is a personality with qualities meant to provide pleasure. A learned yogi is not interested in maya, or that which is not Brahman. Brahman is truth; it is spirit. Maya is the matter around us which we mistake for our identity and source of happiness. Yet God, the origin of Brahman, associates with His maya when He appears on earth, all through His own will. That maya doesn’t affect Him the way it does us, and thus His personal forms are not considered to be part of the material energy. That ability to transcend duality is far more amazing than His ability to display the universal form, which is the height of greatness.

The transcendentalist who sees with the vision of devotional love marvels at God’s willingness to appear in Vrindavana and roam around as a small child, playing childish pranks and acting as one dependent on the elders, who love Him without conditions. Known as Krishna, this tiny bundle of joy is the creator of this and every other universe and is the Supersoul resting within every creature. Yet He appears from without periodically to delight those who will cherish His association. Though the residents of Vrindavana from time to time see Krishna’s greatness in terms of His ability to defeat powerful atheists and the lowest among mankind, they are more interested in getting to interact with Him, in basking in the sweetness of His vision and His play.

Lord KrishnaThis is a more advanced stage reserved for the more intelligent, for only in ignorance of the material and spiritual energies do we consider supremacy to relate to only the accumulation of matter. Only in that ignorance would we insist on seeing the universal form from God when such a manifestation already exists both theoretically and practically. The non-devoted will always ask God to show them how large He is, but the devotees are more amazed at how small the Lord can become, how His abilities travel in both directions. Likely the most important feature in Krishna is that He can accept an unlimited amount of service from an unlimited number of sons and daughters. Thus the valuable human effort that was previously directed at producing increased association with maya can be used to further develop an attachment to Krishna, which in turn brings His favor more and more. The highest favor He grants is His personal association, which manifests in the immediate vicinity in a manner that has nothing to do with gross matter.

With greatness in terms of ability and possessions, there is awe and reverence, but love will be difficult to offer in such circumstances. With Krishna the personal association is always in a manner conducive to the release of transcendental love, which is known as bhakti. In bhakti-yoga, or devotional service, Krishna’s name is all that is required, for from that sacred sound vibration the jewel of Vrindavana enters the mind and happily plays in front of the mental vision. God’s greatness is such that even within the mind He can delight, whereas the material energy even within our immediate external vision still causes so much pain. Turn your mind into Vrindavana by always chanting the holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”, and let the naughty child of Yashoda play in its courtyard.

In Closing:

All that is, was and will be,

From God you’ll demand to see.


Greatness with matter is all that you know,

Aim is for possessions and abilities to grow.


But know that matter not your identity does represent,

For a higher purpose to a human form you were sent.


With proper understanding, amazing is the tall,

And also that which is unbelievably small.


In Yashoda’s courtyard God you’ll want to see playing,

For His devotees always delightful pastimes displaying.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Perfect In All Regards

Sita worshiping Goddess Durga“Keeping in mind the time of sandhya, that lovely woman of fair complexion, the daughter of Janaka, will surely come to this river of auspicious water to perform that sandhya rite.” (Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 14.49)

sandhyā kāla manāḥ śyāmā dhruvam eṣyati jānakī |
nadīm ca imām śiva jalām samdhyā arthe vara varṇinī ||

In trying to predict the behavior of the woman he was assigned to find, Shri Hanuman went over some of her glorious attributes. This thinking turned out to both portend future success and shine light on the spotless character of the eternal consort of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Remembering her provided pleasure to Hanuman and gave countless future generations a chance to peek into that wonderful Ashoka grove at an opportune moment. History was being made, and rather than speculate as to what was going on, we have the recorded thoughts of Hanuman found in the sacred Ramayana of Valmiki.

In the verse referenced above, the first mention is to the time of sandhya, which as a Sanskrit word means “junction”. The junction can refer to the period of time in between night and morning, morning and afternoon, or afternoon and night. Twilight and dusk are two equivalent terms for sandhya, and generally sandhya references dusk, but in this case it refers to dawn. The seeker in question had spent the entire night awake looking for the missing princess. Though it is more difficult to see at night, it is also more difficult for others to spot you, which was a key concern for the warrior in question. He was not to be spotted; otherwise the whole mission could be jeopardized.

The princess in question, Sita Devi, was previously taken to Lanka against her will, and it was up to Hanuman to find her and report back on her location to the camp at headquarters, where awaited the Vanara king Sugriva and his two newest allies, Rama and Lakshmana, sons of King Dasharatha of Ayodhya. Sita was Rama’s wife, and based on His splendid characteristics, the Vanaras in Kishkindha automatically had an eagerness to find Sita.

Of the searching Vanaras, Hanuman was the most eager, and he also happened to be the most capable. That combination landed him deep inside enemy territory, where it was believed Sita was. The fiendish ogre of cruel deeds, the King of Lanka, Ravana, had taken Sita to his home through a backhanded plot. Now it was time for him to pay. As Sita so appropriately told him during her rebuke of his initial advances in Lanka, when the time of death approaches for someone, they follow dangerous behavior which causes that death to manifest. As it was Ravana’s turn to die, it was the influence of that time which caused his stupid act of stealing another man’s wife, a man who happened to be the most capable bow warrior.

“When the time for the destruction of living entities arrives, people are seen to perform activities that endanger themselves due to the influence of that all-devouring time.” (Sita Devi speaking to Ravana, Valmiki Ramayana, Aranya Kand, 56.16)

!ByWOegwB2k~$(KGrHqYOKkIEwQNZwOpIBMRV3pHpFw~~_3Time’s importance is stressed quite often in the Vedic tradition. There are both auspicious and inauspicious times; thus the important religious rituals are centered around auspicious times. You do something important at the wrong time and place and you will pay for it later. It is never the proper time to deceive the Supreme Lord’s wife, and there is never a proper place to take someone who is not your wife. Thus Ravana showed how to disrespect both time and circumstance.

Meanwhile, since she was of the godly nature, Sita showed how to do things at the right time and place. The pious perform their religious practices during the morning and evening sandhyas. The morning is considered the best time for chanting the holy names of the Lord, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”. We see that even though Sita was in a distressed condition, separated from her husband, she would still pay attention to the proper times of religious observance. This wasn’t required of her, but she was taught the principles of godly life from childhood and she never strayed from them. In fact, she used those principles as an excuse to further pursue her cherished bhakti-yoga, or devotional service.

For example, it is a Vedic principle that a wife should view her husband as her primary deity. This means that she doesn’t even need to specifically worship God; she can just honor and serve her husband and find the way to the spiritual kingdom through him. Of course the accompanying requirement is that the husband be engaged in proper worship, that he direct all his efforts to pleasing the Supreme Lord. The wife in this case turns into the servant of the servant, which in the spiritual chain is equal in stature to the first servant.

Sita’s husband happened to be Bhagavan, God who possesses all opulences at the same time and to the fullest degree. She already loved Rama without motive, but during her time on earth it was also her occupational duty as a religiously wedded wife to support Him. Thus she used the Vedic principles to follow behavior that already gave her the highest pleasure. In a similar manner, the auspicious times of sandhya give the devoted souls an excuse to follow their devotional vows, to think of God through a sanctified process.

Sita DeviWe see that Sita is described as a lovely woman. The exact characterization is shyāmā, which can mean “perfect in all regards”. As the male is the enjoyer and the female the enjoyed, the ideal female is one who is enjoyed to the fullest by the male. The ideal female requires perfect bodily features and beauty that doesn’t wither away with the passage of time. Since she was shyāmā, Sita possessed perfection in these areas. She is also described as “vara varnini”, which means of the best color or complexion. In this context it can mean “fair-skinned”. These are typically superficial attributes that are especially scrutinized in an arranged marriage system, where photos of the prospective bride and groom are passed around to be studied by the matchmakers. In Sita’s case none of these features really mattered, but since she is Rama’s wife, even her outward features are flawless.

She had inner beauty in her devotion to righteousness and outer beauty from her bodily features, but her gloriousness didn’t stop there. She was also known as Janaki, which means the daughter of Janaka. Thus her family heritage was spotless as well. Janaka was famous throughout the world as a pious king and elevated transcendentalist. His daughter inherited his good qualities, which meant that Sita was the ideal queen. Ravana already had the company of so many beautiful women, but he still wanted Sita. He offered her the role of chief queen, but of course she can never be with any man except Rama.

The sandhya rites would be performed with auspicious water that was available in a river that Hanuman was near. He was perched on a tree looking down on the scene in this Ashoka grove that was situated next to Ravana’s palace. He had spent so much time searching for Sita already but to no avail. Now he was inside this wonderful area of natural beauty, and he settled upon this one spot because he thought for sure that Sita would come by it. There was purity everywhere, so why shouldn’t the purest woman in the world come into Hanuman’s vision?

Though at the time Sita wouldn’t be walking about, the meeting would eventually take place anyway, showing that Hanuman’s intuition was correct. Hanuman’s purity made him qualified for that meeting. The impure Ravana tried to force himself on Sita and thus his meeting with her signaled his demise. On the other side, the pure Hanuman waited for the right time and place to see the beautiful wife of Shri Rama. Hence that meeting would only benefit him going forward. Thankfully the details of that fateful encounter are kept safe in the verses of the Ramayana, where they are regularly consulted and enjoyed by those looking for a higher taste in life, a meaning to the repetition of days encountered in a land of temporary highs and lows.

In Closing:

Deference to time and circumstance the pious way,

Auspicious is sandhya, the junction of night and day.


Though as God’s wife rules of religion she didn’t need.

Pious observances and rituals Sita always did heed.


Hanuman looking for her, King Janaka’s precious daughter,

Perhaps she’d do sandhya rites in lake with auspicious water.


Flawless features as shyāmā, wonderful also her complexion.

Devotion to God in life her only guiding direction.


Her beauty safely on perfection’s side,

In Hanuman’s heart she and husband Rama reside.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Virat-Rupa

Krishna showing the universal form“This virat-rupa of the Lord was especially manifested, not for the benefit of Arjuna, but for that unintelligent class of men who accept anyone and everyone as an incarnation of the Lord and so mislead the general mass of people. For them, the indication is that one should ask the cheap incarnation to exhibit his virat-rupa and thus be established as an incarnation.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 2.1.24 Purport)

Want to play a quick game of “stump yourself”? Take life’s most pressing questions and try to answer them. “My days repeat on end, and sometimes I am happy and sometimes I am sad, but what does it all mean? Why do we all get up in the morning to go to work and then spend a few hours in the night relaxing just so that we can repeat the same cycle again the next day? Also, why are we training our children to follow in this line? They too will one day be dumbfounded by all of this, especially the sudden departure of a close family member. What does it all mean?”

The answers to these questions and many more are given in a short, concise and yet complete discourse known as the Bhagavad-gita. The setting for that talk was quite fitting: a battlefield featuring an expert warrior who was hesitant. He wasn’t worried about how to win. Indeed, he was famous throughout the world for his fighting prowess. He was worried about what would happen should he emerge victorious. The fear of losing is common, so spending too much time on it isn’t necessary. If you’re afraid of failing in your tasks, you just try harder. But what about if you always get what you want? Will all your problems then be solved? Will you be happy?

For Arjuna, there would be no pleasure in ruling over a kingdom if victory required killing some of his friends and family fighting for the opposing side. This begs the question of what is the meaning of life. Why did Arjuna as a warrior have to fight? Why couldn’t he just sit back and do nothing, and let everything happen on its own? Why was victory necessary? The subsequent question and answer period flowed smoothly and reached the proper conclusion. This was because both teacher and student were highly qualified. The student had the required submissive attitude and the teacher the highest knowledge. The teacher is the very origin of knowledge, the birthplace of both spirit and matter.

Bhagavad-gitaFrom the Bhagavad-gita you get lessons on duty, morality, virtue, sin, vice, lust, greed, birth and death, the true identity of the individual, and most importantly what the individual’s relationship to the higher being is. Despite the profound wisdom found in the verses of this sacred work, the speaker, the supreme teacher, still didn’t want others to mistake Him to be a hack mental speculator. The truths passed on to Arjuna and future generations were not mentally concocted, nor did they arrive as a revelation to the speaker. He knew what He was talking about because He is the origin of knowledge; He is the smartest person based on His inherent characteristics.

Arjuna didn’t need convincing of this, but future generations might, so the speaker, Lord Krishna, decided to show His universal form. Known as the virat-rupa, this vision is not exposed to the ordinary eye. Arjuna had to be given the proper set of eyes in order to see this gigantic manifestation of the entire cosmos. Picture all the stuff in the world. If you could put it into one portrait, a single image, that would be the virat-rupa. We sort of get an idea of how this works when we see pictures of the earth taken from outer space. The details aren’t so clear, but nevertheless we are included in those images. We can’t see ourselves, but we know that we are there because we live on the earth. Now take that same wide angle image and expand it to the largest possible scope, with the details included, and you get the amazing virat-rupa.

“But you cannot see Me with your present eyes. Therefore I give to you divine eyes by which you can behold My mystic opulence.”  (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 11.8)

The sight of the universal form is generally a requirement for the asuras, or gross materialists. This seems like a harsh thing to say, but in the absence of a connection to the divine consciousness, the tendency is to be amazed by opulence in terms of greatness. For instance, we give attention to people who have a lot of money. Their greatness comes from their net worth, what they have in the bank. Similarly, a movie star who gives a great performance, an athlete who holds many championship trophies, and an author who has written many popular books are all admired and honored because of their ability to do great things.

Krishna showing the universal form to ArjunaSince we have this tendency already, Krishna shows us that He is the greatest of the greatest. In terms of a collection of matter, nothing can be greater than the virat-rupa. “Why are only the asuras enamored by the universal form? Is there another perspective?” Krishna’s supremacy travels in both directions, the large and the small. The deluded consciousness that doesn’t see the difference between spirit and matter only thinks of greatness in terms of abundance, but the devotee knows that Krishna can be smaller than the smallest as well. While He is the virat-rupa, He is also the Supersoul within every creature. The tiny ant and the large elephant both have Krishna residing within them. Moreover, the fragments of spirit that emanate from Krishna are also infinitesimally small in size and yet can do great things on their own.

Hence the greatness we see around us lies not in the size of a collection of matter, but rather in the intrinsic properties of spirit, of which Krishna is the origin. More amazing than Krishna’s abilities to be large and small is His kindness bestowed upon the devoted souls. Even the non-devoted are beneficiaries of Krishna’s generosity, as they are allowed to continue in a state of ignorance for as long as they desire. The Bhagavad-gita is the discourse to consult when the choice is made in favor of true knowledge. The profound truths of that text cannot be found anywhere else, and though the knowledge should be good enough to accept on an initial extension of faith, the virat-rupa confirms that the speaker is the Supreme Personality of Godhead Himself.

If you think about it, any person can offer some profound truths, receive adoration, and then claim to be God. Just read the Gita, accept some of the important facts, and then try to imitate Krishna. There are a few problems with this method, however. For starters, Krishna did not disclose His true identity to everyone. If you are the Supreme Lord, you have no need for adoration or reverential worship. Krishna’s favoritism to Arjuna was in the mood of friendship, which Arjuna preferred. The Bhagavad-gita, its profound truths, and the unveiling of the universal form were not for Arjuna’s direct benefit, though they were presented in that way. Arjuna was already in the devotional consciousness, so only through a temporary fall from the highest state of consciousness purposefully orchestrated by Krishna did the need for the discourse come about.

Lord KrishnaThe charlatan posing to be God can be exposed just from their claim. Nevertheless, if others require more proof they can insist on seeing the virat-rupa. If you really are God, you should be able to show everything, the entire universe of stuff, to any person. If not, you are just a pretender, a cheater who exploits the valuable gem of Vedic wisdom for your own benefit. Krishna gives the transcendental wisdom of the Gita and the accompanying discipline of bhakti-yoga for the benefit of the worthy recipients, knowing full well that the soul is happiest when engaged in divine service. The implementation of that discipline is fine tuned through the association of the saints, and the ultimate arbiter of success or failure is Shri Krishna Himself, who looks at sincerity more than ability. To let Him know that we’re serious about making the most out of the rare human birth, we can chant the holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”.

Know that the virat-rupa only remains an amazing vision for as long as the concept of duality exists, where we think that we are different from Krishna and that a large collection of matter is meaningful. In the devotional consciousness, the oneness shared in the relationship to the Supreme Lord - wherein He is the benevolent master and we are the humble servant - is considered more valuable, and the divine sport of the Supreme Personality, such as His roaming around Vrindavana as a naughty child who steals butter, delights the heart.

In Closing:

When ignorance pertaining to matter in Arjuna had grown,

To him the virat-rupa, universal manifestation, was shown.


The battlefield of Kurukshetra was for this the perfect setting,

For afraid of highest material success Arjuna was getting.


Fear over failure quite easy to analyze,

But more interesting worry over opulence’s rise.


Krishna gave talk and to settle any doubts,

Showed supreme vision that an equal is without.


If fake incarnations their stature try to grow,

Ask them also the universal form to show.


Devotee goes beyond gross matter’s collection,

Takes higher pleasure in Krishna contemplation.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Don’t Break The Oath

Lord Rama“Understanding that Rama’s beauty, patience, age and ancestry were completely perfect, the king remembered his own oath and thus started to lament.” (Janaki Mangala, 48)

rūpa sīla baya baṃsa rāma parisurana |
samujhi kaṭhina pana āpana lāga bisūrana ||

You think long and hard about a difficult decision. You don’t want to mess up because the stakes are high. Rather than make an impulse move, you get advice from the people you trust. This way you gather all sorts of opinions and viewpoints that you may not have considered yourself due to the attachment you have to the particular situation. Finally, you settle upon something, a move that will hopefully satisfy your wishes and alleviate your concerns. If you are a man of honor, this decision represents your vow, something you can’t break. But then later on, after the decision is made, a wildcard enters the equation. If you knew about this beforehand, you never would have made your vow. So now you are in trouble. What to do?

This was the situation faced by a famous king many thousands of years ago. He was childless when he found a beautiful baby girl in the ground one day while ploughing a field for a sacrifice. What an odd place to find a young child? How was she still alive? Who had placed her there? These things didn’t matter to King Janaka once he picked her up. Though he was above the influence of the senses, he couldn’t help but harbor affection for this innocent girl, wiping the dust off her face. He wanted to bring her home immediately, but he knew that he shouldn’t take someone else’s property. Then a voice from the sky told the king that the girl was his daughter in all righteousness, or dharma.

Janaka finding SitaDharma was important to Janaka. A king who doesn’t follow dharma isn’t much of a king. To be a good protector, one must be able to govern the citizens in such a way that they all stay happy, regardless of their situation. The only way to make this a reality is to follow the established law codes of scripture, which are presented nicely in the Vedas. If you go on your own whim, others will then have license to do so as well. As desires for personal satisfaction are sure to clash, the result is stiff competition. Man’s actions are then guided by the motto of “win at all costs”. In fact, this is the situation at present, where government leaders operate on the mentality that whoever will provide them the most votes should gain the most favor from government. Never mind that every person is equally a citizen and that the leader should be impartial. Send money to a candidate and you will get a seat at the table of power should they get elected.

Janaka’s guiding principle was to defer to dharma, so he was thrilled to hear that this girl was actually his daughter. The higher powers decided he should raise her as his own daughter, that he was worthy of having her and that she would bestow good fortune upon him. The baby girl was Lakshmi Devi appearing on earth to grace the line of Videha kings with the greatest fortune of all, the appearance of the Supreme Lord in their kingdom. Janaka, of course, did not know these things. He had a spontaneous and loving attachment to his daughter.

This attachment made arranging for her marriage quite difficult. As Janaka belonged to the royal order, he typically would find a suitable match based on strength. The ability of the prince to protect his daughter would be the overriding factor in determining his eligibility for marriage. The suitable match would also be determined off personal characteristics calculated from the alignment of stars at the time of birth. The problem was that Janaka didn’t know his daughter Sita’s exact date of birth or who her parents were. How then was he going to find a suitable match? Comparing horoscopes using Vedic science takes the guesswork out of these arrangements.

Janaka met with his counselors, and they settled upon a compromise. The king would hold a contest. Whoever could lift Lord Shiva’s bow would win Sita’s hand in marriage. First come, first serve. No round robins or heats. Whoever could lift it first would win the contest. The idea was that the bow was too heavy for anyone to lift. Just as Sita had amazingly appeared from the ground, her future husband would have to appear on the scene and miraculously lift the bow.

Sita DeviThere was another side to this contest that Janaka didn’t immediately realize. If someone should attempt to lift the bow and fail, they would be automatically disqualified from marrying Sita. The focus was on finding someone who could lift the bow, which meant the elimination factor was ignored. But what if someone showed up to Janaka’s city who was perfect in every way? What if their beauty was unmatched and their ancestry sparkling? What if they had tremendous patience and dedication to chivalry? What if they were quite strong and had a charming visage? Then what could the king do?

Wouldn’t you know it, this is precisely the predicament that arose. Though princes from around the world came to participate in the contest, two notable warriors didn’t get the invitation. They were away from home at the time, protecting the sadhus from the enemies of the demigods. A sura is known as a demigod or devotee in Sanskrit. Their enemies are the asuras, the negation of the word “sura”. “How can someone be an enemy of a sadhu, a person who has no possessions and who hardly bothers anyone? A demigod is a deity in charge of a particular aspect of creation. Why should they have enemies?”

As we know, sometimes the workings of the criminal mind are impossible to figure out. There are bad guys out there, whether we like it or not. Since they do horrible things, someone needs to be there to punish them, to protect the innocent from their influence. Rama and Lakshmana, though very young, were quite able to protect a notable sadhu named Vishvamitra. He was being harassed by night-rangers who fought dirty. In conventional warfare, the participants wear identifiable uniforms and engage in conflict once the other party is ready. It seems strange, but warriors usually follow some sort of standard procedure when engaging in armed conflict.

Oh, but not these night-rangers. They would not announce their presence until the moment of attack. Should they be spotted, they could use illusion to disappear from the vision. They would take on another shape to mask their appearance as well. Rama’s first test was to fight against and kill a very wicked female night-ranger named Tataka. Rama was very hesitant to kill her since she was a female. Vishvamitra had to insist a few times to Rama to fight with as much force as possible. The night-ranger would use illusion quite often to try to escape, but no one can live when the Supreme Lord decides that they shouldn’t.

Rama and Lakshmana fighting TatakaRama was the Supreme Lord appearing on earth in the guise of a human being. The purpose given for His descents is to annihilate the miscreants and defend the pious, but in reality there needn’t be a specific purpose. Whatever makes the Supreme Lord happy, He does. He finally killed Tataka, and Vishvamitra was pleased with Him. He then gave both Rama and Lakshmana secret mantras to be used in fighting.

The group subsequently went to Janaka’s kingdom while the contest was going on. The king welcomed them hospitably, and was enamored by the vision of Rama and Lakshmana. As Rama was the elder brother, Janaka wondered if He should maybe participate in the contest. Seeing that Rama was perfect in every way, Janaka became lost in transcendental bliss. He had previously felt brahmasukha, or the pleasure of merging into the impersonal effulgence of the Lord, but this new happiness defeated that many times over.

After that initial happiness, Janaka remembered his vow. “Oh no! What if Rama tries to lift the bow and fails? Then He can’t marry Sita, though He is perfect for her.” In this way Janaka felt a kind of fear in devotional ecstasy. This emotion is described in more detail in Shrila Rupa Gosvami’s Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu, which is nicely translated and commented on in the book known as The Nectar of Devotion, authored by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.

In devotional service, or bhakti-yoga, there are different tastes that are available to the devotee. Sometimes fear is an enhancer of delight, as through that trepidation one thinks even more about God. Thus Janaka’s worrying over the contest was on par with his happiness over first seeing Rama. There needn’t be any worry, though. Lord Rama was meant to arrive in Janaka’s kingdom and marry Sita. Only He would be able to lift Mahadeva’s bow and thus prove to the world that Sita could only be His wife. Janaka’s regret would soon disappear, as his vow would further glorify both Sita and Rama, the divine couple who bestow good fortune upon the surrendered souls.

In Closing:

Daughter Sita to Janaka is very dear,

That wrong husband chosen is underlying fear.


With announced contest of bow matter considered rectified,

Priests, counselors, friends and even king now satisfied.


Contest rules simple, first come first serve,

Lifting Shiva’s bow meant Sita they did deserve.


But if perfect match arrived Janaka did not consider,

The case with Rama, but on vow the king must deliver.


Thus there was worry that with vow he made a grave mistake,

But king relieved when Shiva’s bow in His hand Rama did take.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Range of Applicability

Krishna's lotus feet“Anything, either material or spiritual, is but an expansion of the energy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and as stated in the Bhagavad-gita (13.13), the omnipotent Lord has His transcendental eyes, heads and other bodily parts distributed everywhere. He can see, hear, touch or manifest Himself anywhere and everywhere, for He is present everywhere as the Supersoul of all infinitesimal souls, although He has His particular abode in the absolute world.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 2.1.24 Purport)

It’s strange to think that God can hear you from anywhere. Though typically you turn to the sky in times of trouble or you enter a house of worship when you really need help, such changes in physical orientation are not necessary. The Supreme Lord is considered omnipresent, which means that He is everywhere. Thus He can hear you from any place and during any time. Regardless of your condition, peaceful or in distress, you can connect with Him. That boon is beyond amazing, for it allows you to do more than just look for help.

Think of all the things that you like to do. In each area there is some range of applicability. Some ranges are larger than others, but regardless, there are certain places where you are prevented from taking up the activity in question. For instance, if you like to play ice hockey, you need a rink to skate on. Without a frozen pond in the near vicinity, your desire to play ice hockey must remain in a potential state. The same dependency on external circumstances exists with seeing a movie, eating at a restaurant, spending time with friends and family, etc.

It is therefore not surprising that any invention which can expand the range of applicability for preferred activities would be welcomed with open arms. Enter the internet and the more recent advancement of the smartphone. Now you can connect with people who are situated thousands of miles away. Log on to a web interface and type your information so that it can be transmitted to other parties in an instant. No longer do you have to spend time alone. If you want, you can even communicate via voice and video in the same manner.

video chat on an iphoneYour favorite games can now also be played on your smartphone or tablet PC. This means that in more places you can do the things that you like. If you prefer to talk to others, even while you are driving alone you can now have someone with you. If you prefer reading books, electronic versions of popular texts are available for reading on the tiniest of devices, giving you unimaginable portability. The idea is that the more time you can spend doing the things that you like, the happier you will be.

The omnipresent Supreme Lord accounted for this benefit long before we could ever think of it. He is the Supreme Soul, so He is the life of all creatures. His energy pervades the entire space, though His most blissful feature that is clearly defined for the purified vision is situated in the spiritual sky. This, however, doesn’t preclude Him from hearing and seeing everywhere. That connection with Him is available to any person, at any place, under any circumstance.

Why is this ability important? Just as we take pleasure from action, the interaction with the Supreme Lord is considered the most pleasurable. We may not be aware of this fact yet, but the Vedic scholars have revealed this secret for our benefit. They knew about our qualities before we knew we had an existence because the properties of spirit do not change from instance to instance. At the core of every living entity is a fragment of spirit, emanating from the giant collection of spiritual energy known as God. The fragments have individual identities in a spiritual existence, but this doesn’t mean that the inherent qualities are different.

The core qualities of the soul are eternality, knowledge and bliss. Eternality is evidenced in the inability of the soul to die. What we know as death is merely the shedding of clothes for the individual soul, giving up old and useless garments in favor of new ones. Birth is the next acceptance, taking on another form after the previous one is discarded. Throughout these changes the soul does not change; hence it is eternal.

“For the soul there is never birth nor death. Nor, having once been, does he ever cease to be. He is unborn, eternal, ever-existing, undying and primeval. He is not slain when the body is slain.”  (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.20)

Lord KrishnaThe knowledge aspect of the soul is difficult to decipher, especially considering how ignorant some species act. The animal has the same quality of spirit residing within, but it is unable to do complex math or communicate in different languages. The material qualities the animal assumes mask the brilliant qualities of the soul to a higher degree than do the qualities in the human being. Think of a lampshade covering the burning bright light from the bulb. This is how the soul’s knowledge is masked from the individual. Through the right education, knowledge isn’t necessarily gathered, but instead revealed.

Blissfulness is seen in the soul’s desire for ananda. Every single action we voluntarily follow is done to seek out this bliss. Even renunciation and austerity hope to further the aim of pleasure; the voluntary acceptance of punishment to reach a positive end. The soul is always looking for happiness, and since this tendency is revealed to us by the Vedic seers, they know best on how to help us find that bliss.

Not only is there a higher quality of bliss available, but it can be experienced in more instances as well. The range of applicability for brahmananda, or the bliss of experiencing the truth of Brahman, is infinite. You can take pleasure in the self, the individual soul, at any time, provided that you have the proper training. It is difficult to realize Brahman because through ignorance the perceived realization is that we are our body. Something bad happens to our body or to the body of someone else, and we get sad. If something good happens to the same, we are happy.

To see that we and everyone else are spirit soul, there is strict austerity required coupled with acceptance of higher knowledge. Yet more pleasurable than brahmananda is sharanagati, or the bliss of surrendering unto the Supreme Absolute Truth. Brahman is the collection of spiritual energy, but Parabrahman is the original source. Parabrahman is the person we generally refer to as God, but in the Vedas He is shown to have transcendental features.

Those spiritual body parts can do anything, and their reach is infinite. We liken them to body parts because that is a frame of reference we can use to understand the Supreme Lord. As Krishna, God is the most attractive, and thus connection with Him in a mood of devotional surrender brings the highest bliss. And what’s more, that connection can take place anywhere; it is not reserved for the temple, the book, or the remote ashrama. The houses of spiritual worship exist to foster the culture necessary for invoking that connection in the most number of places. The devotees, those who already connect with Krishna from anywhere, are like walking temples, as they bring the spiritual culture to others in the hopes that they will find the ananda they truly deserve.

Radha and KrishnaThe method of connecting with God that has the highest perceivable range of applicability is the chanting of the holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”. Chant this mantra anywhere and everywhere, without shame or embarrassment. Hear the sound vibrations and know that your ears are connecting with God. All that is really required is remembrance, or vishno-smaranam, but the chanting helps to make that remembrance easier.

Though the ability to connect with the omnipresent Supreme Lord exists, we somehow think that devotional life is a struggle, that we are being punished by following real religion. It is just the opposite in fact, and if a little pressure is applied in the beginning stages, the veil of ignorance will soon be removed, and whatever preconceived notions we had about God and spirituality will vanish, leaving the door open to interact with the beautiful Krishna.

In Closing:

Many things we like to do for fun,

Better when in many places can be done.


Tablet pcs and mobile phones add new versatility,

Same activities now with higher range of applicability.


Talk to someone even while driving your car,

Same fun whether they are nearby or far.


Endeavor of highest pleasure also has the widest range,

Can practice anywhere, your position you need not change.


Chant holy names and remember God wherever you go,

That Krishna hears your devotion confidently know.