Saturday, July 7, 2012

Seeing Things Clearly

Radha and Krishna“After the destruction of the material body, this spirit soul is one. The spirit soul, due to contact with material nature, gets different types of bodies. When one can see this, he attains spiritual vision; thus being freed from differentiations like man, animal, big, low, etc., one becomes beautified in his consciousness and able to develop Krishna consciousness in his spiritual identity.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 13.31 Purport)

Are we not better off when we can see things clearly? Rare is the occasion where willful ignorance can provide benefits, and even when it does, the benefits are only for the short term. Continue with that ignorance long enough and you’ll be in a heap of pain. Thankfully, with the influence of time on the near-term, negative effects can be wiped clean, but when all-devouring time approaches at the end of life, there is nothing we can do to alleviate the situation. That ignorance will come back to bite us, and so there is an urgency to seeing things properly and using that clear vision to steer us in the proper direction.

A wonderful example of the consequences of seeing without a clear vision comes to us from likely the oldest written work in history, the Ramayana. The main characters of that poem that depicts real-life events span the full spectrum of natures. There is the demoniac, represented by the king Ravana and his clan, and there is the divine, represented by Lord Rama and His family. Rama is the Supreme Personality of Godhead as an incarnation, and so to learn about Him the people that love Him most should be consulted. Who better to approach than Sita Devi, Rama’s beloved wife and the virtuous daughter of King Janaka of Mithila?

Very wise in her own right, Sita once pointed out an interesting, yet lesser-known, fact to Ravana. The evil king didn’t see clearly at all. He was drunk off both wine and power, and so he thought he could get whatever he wanted at any time. The young child cries to get milk or a specific toy, but these are provided by the parents. That same practice can’t be continued later on in life unless there is a government around who is equally as blind in providing whatever the crying citizens want, to the detriment of the hard-working tax payers.

Ravana was similar to the crying baby, except he thought he would just kill anyone who stood in his way. Whatever he wanted he would take. For most of his life this motto worked due to his immense strength, which of course was not of his own doing. We don’t control the circumstances of our birth or the qualities we assume. For instance, if our skin color is dark, there is nothing we can do to make it fair. Some people never have to work out a day in their lives and they stay fit throughout, while others work out strenuously in the gym and try to eat right and yet still can’t garner strength and vitality.

“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)

Sita DeviRavana finally overstepped his bounds; he was to learn his lesson after he took Rama’s wife away from Him through a backhanded plot. Brought back to Lanka against her will, Sita was propositioned by Ravana, who offered to make her his chief queen. She flat out refused him, giving wonderful information about Rama’s divine qualities in the process. She also mentioned that when all-devouring time, kala, which is also known as death, arrives for the living entity, they do things that make that death a reality. This meant that Ravana himself wasn’t entirely responsible for his present actions, for he was acting under the influence of death. His time for quitting the body had arrived, so under the influence of that powerful and yet to be defeated force, he was acting in a way to accelerate the death process.

Ravana invited all-devouring death through his ignorance, following so many sinful acts that he accumulated too many negative reactions to keep in store. A jar can only hold so much of a specific item. Eventually the items will overflow and the jar itself might tip over. This is what happened with Ravana, as killing innocent sages, eating animal flesh, and drinking wine made him a ripe target for punishment. In his fever, he thought that he could take God’s wife, and for that transgression he would pay dearly. He couldn’t wipe the slate clean, as death had called his name, and he had to obey that command. Shri Rama would arrive on the scene to defeat Ravana in battle and rescue Sita.

Practices similar to Ravana’s are adopted today, and though one may not see the immediate negative impact, there will be harmful effects nonetheless. The infamous “beer goggles” are a minor and humorous example of this principle in effect. The person indulges in enough alcohol so that their vision becomes impaired. In that intoxicated state, with the unclear vision they mistakenly take someone they normally wouldn’t find attractive to be attractive. Following through on the illusion, the next day they realize they have created a conjugal relationship with that person, regretting it thereafter. The mistake could have minimal consequences, for they can end the relationship and try to forget about the whole affair, but there is no purification in the process if drinking is continued as a habit afterwards.

Willful ignorance may help us when we watch a movie or attend a dramatic performance, as not knowing that the people on stage are actors allows us to get into the story. But once the performance ends, continuing with that ignorance will not help us. The characters are different people in real life, so if we were to go up to them and treat them as if they were still acting, we would not really know the people we’re talking to. Knowing someone is important if you want to get the right kind of association. For instance, we approach someone wearing a police uniform to help us during dangerous times. We don’t just go up to any person for the same services, for if they are not a police officer they can’t help us in the way that we want.

To find true knowledge, to see things as they are, one requires the eyes of shastra, or scripture. A bona fide book on spirituality goes well beyond dogmatic principles. Just as one can study drama, literature, mathematics, philosophy and a host of other subjects through an intellectual pursuit, the nature of matter and spirit and the influence of time can be studied as a science. As the aim of this discipline is to understand the real properties of the individual, or the self, the study is known as the science of self-realization.

The self is the soul, the identifying agent within the individual. This information is found in texts of the Vedic tradition, but it is also something a sober person can accept. Clarity of vision is seeing the soul within creatures and not being thrown by the outward forms. We see a picture of ourselves from a long time ago and wonder who that person was and what they were doing, but in fact it is the same person who is looking at the picture. We haven’t changed at all, except for our outward features and maybe desires and mindset. But we know that our way of thinking will change going forward, so does that mean that today’s “me” is different from tomorrow’s “me”?

Without knowledge of the soul and its position with respect to the material nature, our vision will always be clouded. We will think that just because nothing bad happens to us after a specific event, the act itself is not sinful. But we know that in other areas the effects don’t manifest right away. The trees blossom flowers at the appropriate season, not when we will them to. The dough must rise and then bake in order for there to be bread, which means that we can’t have bread as soon as we want it. Some action needs to take place, and the results need the appropriate time to manifest.

The clouded vision makes us do things that we shouldn’t and it makes us assume identities that are not permanent. Identification as child, adult, parent, white, black, Hindu, Christian, etc. are flawed because these temporary features will change. The atma, or self, residing within is the constant factor, so that is the only true basis for identity. Yet the vision clouded through the influence of the material nature makes the realization of the self very difficult.

The aim of shastra is to provide both theoretical and practical knowledge. You get the theory about the soul and its unchanging properties and you get the practical application of principles which enable one to take their identity as spirit and then act off of it. The principles to implement are known as brahmacharya, which enable one to see themselves as Brahman, or pure spirit. To know Brahman requires ridding the influence of maya, or the material nature. Since practically everything is maya, brahmacharya principles rely upon renunciation, in which case eating, sleeping, mating and defending are kept to a minimum.

The principles of brahmacharya are difficult to follow, so typically they are taught during the childhood years, when the individual can better be molded. It’s tough to teach an old dog new tricks, and so once an adult reaches past the age of thirty, they become more set in their ways. This means that if sinful behavior and association with maya were the constant factors in everyday life, they will be difficult to remove. Taking Ravana’s example again, he was told on numerous occasions to not go after Sita. After he brought her to Lanka, he was also advised to give her back to Rama and be forgiven. But what could he do? He was too set in his ways to see things properly. It was too late for him.

Know, however, that there is a system of spirituality higher than the basic science of self-realization. It also goes, interestingly enough, to the next step beyond Brahman realization. Devotion to God in a mood of unmotivated love is the highest practice for man, as it is in every spirit soul’s constitution to serve. Service is always seen, as one derives the most pleasure from serving others. The Supreme Lord is the only candidate worthy of unending service from the most number of people, and so the natural outgrowth of the Brahman realization is to take one’s clear vision and use it to bask in the sweetness of God’s vision.

Lord Chaitanya worshiping Radha and KrishnaFor that sweetness to arrive, one requires a painted image of the features belonging to the Supreme Personality. The Vedas are no short of descriptions in this area, as God’s original form and those of His many personal expansions are described. Sita’s husband is one such expansion, and His qualities are attractive in every way. Shri Krishna is considered the original form, as the transcendental sweetness exists at the highest level in His qualities. The brahmacharya principles bring the pleasure known as brahmasukha, which is akin to always thinking of God as an abstract figure. But know that there is a higher pleasure when the vision is able to gaze upon the sweet transcendental form of the Personality of Godhead. To taste that sweetness is the real mission of life, and by knowing how to address the Supreme Lord, how to call out to Him and ask for His personal intervention in helping us see things clearly, the proper destination will be in our reach. Therefore the wisest souls, who see Krishna so clearly that He remains in front of them even while sleeping, always recite the holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”.

In Closing:

When wearing goggles from drinking beer,

The vision ceases to be clear.


Do things that you normally would not,

In the end regret is all you have got.


Better would have been the proper sight,

Then you could have acted right.


In the same way, as spirit yourself see,

So that in happiness you can be.


Better in devotional service behave,

See always God and yourself save.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Always Spotless

Sita Devi“Then Hanuman saw a woman wearing a soiled garment, who was surrounded by female Rakshasas. She was thin from fasting, extremely sad and sighing again and again. Hanuman saw that she was spotless like the streak of the moon at the beginning of the bright lunar fortnight [shukla paksha].” (Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 15.18-19)

tato malina samvītām rākṣasībhiḥ samāvṛtām ||
upavāsa kṛśām dīnām nihśvasantīm punaḥ punaḥ |
dadarśa śukla pakṣa ādau candra rekhām iva amalām ||

Shri Hanuman here finally spots the person he was sent to find. All the hard work, all the trouble, all the doubts in the mind finally culminated in this wonderful moment. But as is the case so often in life, whatever we anticipate, whatever plans we make, the actual sequence to the events is not something we predicted. Hanuman used his knowledge of the qualities of his master to reach this auspicious end, but he thought that the initial spotting would take place in a different way. Nevertheless, despite the pitiable nature of the circumstances, the person he gazed upon was spotless.

How did Hanuman expect this meeting to happen? Why was he sent on the search? Lord Rama, the prince of Ayodhya, was looking for his beloved wife Sita. Rama had this amazing effect on people, that simply by meeting Him, a pious soul would be won over by His qualities. By won over, we mean dedicated to service to Rama for life. Not surprisingly, such a quick transformation can only take place when meeting God. Nowhere else in literature is such a bond described, as even in fictional works the devotion stops once the end is reached. With the Ramayana, though the events described touch on the extraordinary and the surreal, the characters are real-life figures who continue in their mood of devotion. Maharishi Valmiki only described what was going to take place in the future, so the events themselves had significance that stretched well beyond the bounds of literature.

Hanuman meeting RamaSo many people felt that tremendous love for Rama when meeting Him, but in Hanuman’s case the circumstances were a little different. This time Rama was in trouble, at least outwardly. This made the spontaneous devotion Hanuman felt more significant, as he was impelled to act on Rama’s behalf. As a faithful minister to the chief of Vanaras on Mount Rishyamukha, Hanuman brought key players together. Rama and the monkey-king Sugriva would have to meet in order for Hanuman to take up service properly. Through that meeting arranged by Hanuman, the two parties would align and Hanuman would get the help of the many Vanara warriors under Sugriva’s command.

The alliance formed very quickly due in no small part to Hanuman’s stature. He was trusted by Sugriva to go down to the forest to see what these approaching princes wanted. When Hanuman met them, the brothers Rama and Lakshmana immediately took a liking to him. Thus from Hanuman’s stature both sides developed trust, and the wheels were set in motion for Sita’s rescue. First, she had to be found, a task which was assigned to all the monkeys under Sugriva. They split up into groups, however, and Hanuman’s group was considered the frontrunners for success due to his presence.

Though he had so much help, destiny called for Hanuman to win this battle alone. He would have to make it to Lanka all by himself. It was learned that Sita had been taken there. After an exhaustive and extensive search, Hanuman finally made it into a grove of Ashoka trees. This area was amazingly beautiful, stunning in fact. Hanuman found a tree to climb on, wherefrom he could survey the entire park without anyone seeing him. It was from this perch that he set his eyes upon a beautiful temple not too far away. In that area he found Sita, though at first he wasn’t sure if it was her.

He had plenty of features to use in reaching a decision. The Vanaras in Kishkindha had briefly seen Sita from afar when Ravana first carried her off in his aerial car. But the majority of the information Hanuman relied upon was acquired through hearing. He heard about Sita’s history and her brilliant devotion to her husband. He knew of her affinity for the wilderness and of her unmatched beauty. Previously in his search, Hanuman thought that he may have found her. Inside of Ravana’s palace, Hanuman saw a beautiful woman. Hoping for success more than anything, the devoted servant started jumping up and down, pounding his chest and kissing his tail in happiness. But upon further review he remembered that Sita could never be in such a pleasant condition while separated from her husband. The ladies inside of Ravana’s palace were all passed out from a night of drinking. There was no way Sita would enjoy any such activity, whether back home in Ayodhya with Rama or any place away from Him.

Hanuman in the Ashoka groveIn the above referenced verse from the Ramayana, we get a review of the initial image that Hanuman got of Sita. It is said that the woman Hanuman saw was wearing a soiled garment. This means that she did not have on a beautiful sari, which is an Indian dress worn by women. Indeed, there is no outfit more beautiful in all the world than the sari. The feminine features are revealed in all goodness on the woman who wears a nice sari; hence today it serves as the primary dress for formal functions such as marriages and religious observances. In times past the women would wear them all the time.

Though she was a daughter of a king and the wife of a royal prince, Sita at this time was not wearing an exquisite garment. Her clothing may have started off that way, but from crying relentlessly and refusing to take care of herself, Sita’s dress lost its luster. In one way this was done on purpose. A chaste wife lives to please her husband after all, so there is nothing to be gained by looking nice when separated from him. Thus in the Vedic tradition the religiously wedded wife typically doesn’t dress up unless she is in the company of her husband. Ravana wanted Sita regardless, but she still wasn’t going to give him any more reason to desire her.

It is also described that Sita was surrounded by female Rakshasas. A Rakshasa is a kind of ogre known for eating meat. They feast on human flesh as well, so Rakshasas are synonymous with man-eaters. These female ogres were ordered by Ravana to constantly harass Sita, as a sort of torture punishment for not giving in to his advances. We get annoyed if the cable television signal should go out or if someone misplaces the remote control, but for Sita the harassment was relentless, day and night.

Sita was thin from fasting. She did not want to eat anything there because she was not with her husband. Why should she enjoy while separated from the company of her dearly beloved? Rather, she thought it better to just starve until the final moments. If Rama didn’t come, then at least she could quit her body. From that austerity her mind would stay more focused on Rama as well. She was also sighing again and again. The sobbing of a woman is very difficult to bear for a man, and if that sobbing is intense and constant, the scene is even more pitiable. Thus from what Hanuman saw, we know that Sita was in great distress.

Sita DeviYet despite these negative conditions, she still appeared pure. This is very important to note for a few reasons. For starters, nothing could soil Sita, not even fasting, excessive sighing, or a worn cloth. Her external conditions were inauspicious, but she herself was still a treasure house of divine qualities. Another reason the purity aspect is mentioned is because the Ramayana, though meant for the ears of devoted souls like Hanuman, would nonetheless some day spread to the masses, who would speculate on the meanings of the verses and conjure up theories about the events. The lowest among men would speculate that Sita indeed had given in to Ravana, but this verse kindly shatters to pieces that ridiculous line of thinking. Sita’s purity was like a streak of the moon during the bright lunar fortnight, the waxing period. Despite all the cloudiness around her, her purity shone forth. It was distinguishable and it stood out from everything else Hanuman had seen.

Sita’s purity was noticeable despite the otherwise impure surroundings. This is the nature of Rama’s beloved servants. Though they may be placed into uncomfortable settings from time to time, since their consciousness is focused on the Supreme Lord and loving devotion to Him, their sparkling character still shines forth. Though Hanuman was in the enemy territory of Lanka, which was populated by man-eaters, he too remained pure throughout, and because of that purity he would meet with that spotless queen of Rama. She was in an emaciated state wearing soiled clothing and he was in the form of a monkey, but they would recognize each other by the common bond of devotion to Rama. That light of purity always shines through for those who think about Rama constantly, chanting His holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”.

In Closing:

A woman from afar he could spot,

From his perch her vision caused eyes to stop.


Female ogres around her harassing,

Her body worn thin from fasting.


Soiled was her single garment,

Sighing from constant lament.


But still of brightness there was a streak,

Indicating she was the one he was to seek.


Devoted souls even in darkness shine bright,

Like Sita, of whom Hanuman got a wonderful sight.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

To Save A Man

Shrila Prabhupada“The guru takes the torchlight of knowledge and presents it before the living entity enveloped in darkness. That knowledge relieves him from the sufferings of the darkness of ignorance.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Science of Self Realization, Ch 2a)

The ship ride is getting rocky. You’re not sure what’s going on, but this might be it. The ship might actually sink, in which case some key decisions have to be made in a very short timeframe. Do you make a run for the lifeboats? Do you check on your friends and family on board? What about the people who fell overboard when the ship first started to shake? What should be done about them? The easy option is to save yourself and leave the people stranded in the water, but the more selfless act, which is also the more difficult choice, is to reach over and try to rescue them. You might be risking your own life in this case, but you can’t bear to see other people struggling without anyone there to help them.

The saint chooses this latter route; they try to rescue as many people as possible. To choose this option may not be as easy as it looks. The saint may have friends and family members who want them to stay onboard. Why risk your life when you have others you are obligated to take care of? There is no doubt that there is renunciation involved with saving others. There is only so much time in each given day after all, so if you take up a difficult task, you will have less time to do other things.

For instance, the saint who decides to rescue others may not be able to plan for vacation getaways and nights out on the town. Every day for them is an adventure, as the material land is filled with passengers who have fallen overboard. Just because a few people are rescued doesn’t mean that the work is done. Moreover, time is of the essence, as the sooner people are told of the meaning of life, the quicker they can follow the necessary steps to save themselves. Once you are rescued, you still need to make sure that you don’t do things that will jeopardize your safety. After the difficult rescue, the last thing you would want is to fall back into the water.

In accepting the mission to save others, the saint doesn’t require that much as far as possessions. Just some basic housing, ordinary clothes, and a limited intake of food. That’s it. Nothing else is required, for the saint’s wealth is his knowledge of the mission of life, namely that of becoming God conscious by the time of death. That mission fulfills all other missions. Indeed, every other goal brings but just a small amount of the pleasure that the main objective in life brings. On the outside, the saint may appear to be very renounced, but know that his attitude is based on his love and compassion for others. Renunciation on the highest level is not forced, as when you follow life’s true aim, you automatically give up those things that you don’t need.

The other difficulty with choosing the route to save others is that they may not be receptive to your efforts. You reach out your hand but some of them may not want to grab it. In their drunken stupor they think that they’ll swim forever in this dangerous water. They’re managing just fine, so they don’t require any help. Sadly, that fall from the illusory high of material association will be very painful, and the rescuing hand may not be available later on to save them.

Shrila PrabhupadaHow does the saint rescue others? What is their method of implementation? In the Vedic tradition, the saint is known as a sadhu, who goes hand in hand with shastra and guru. Shastra is the law codes of God, handed down since the beginning of time. The guru understands the principles laid down in shastra because he practices them himself. The sadhu is the saintly man who travels to bring the message of shastra and the teachings of the guru to others. The travel can be with the body in the form of constantly moving around or it can be with the release of information, the mass distribution of literature containing the vital truths of life.

And what are those truths? The identification with the body since time immemorial is the cause for the drop into the dangerous water of the material ocean. Without even referencing any scriptural codes or religious texts, we know that such an identification is flawed. We know this because the body constantly changes. One day I am a child, and the next I am an adolescent. A few years later I’m an adult, and after that I’m an old man. At every point throughout these changes, identification is taken with the body, but the body is known to change. Hence the identification is based on illusion, and if you believe illusion you will be misled.

The real identification is with the spirit soul, the owner of the body. The soul is the constant factor throughout all the changes. It has amazing properties that stay unchanged while the outer covering constantly shifts. In each and every life form the same kind of soul exists, so in essence there is a singular energy that is beyond the duality of the material existence. These facts and more are learned and realized through practicing the principles of brahmacharya, wherein one follows austerity, penance and sacrifice to understand Brahman, or pure spirit.

The person who knows Brahman is a brahmana, which can be likened to a priest. The sadhu is a brahmana because of their knowledge of Brahman, but their saintly character extends beyond just esoteric knowledge of the difference between matter and spirit. They know that Brahman has a source, and it is a personality. The source is already known to most as the abstract figure referred to as God, but in the Vedic tradition much more detail is given about His features, His personality traits, and how one can reach Him. The rescue from the material ocean is one step, but staying in a mood of devotion to the Supreme Personality of Godhead is the final piece that ensures that the material ocean will never be an accidental home again.

“For one who explains the supreme secret to the devotees, devotional service is guaranteed, and at the end he will come back to Me.”  (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 18.68)

Lord KrishnaThe sadhu is very dear to the Supreme Personality because of the risk they take. Since they look to save the drowning man, they can be considered the kindest worker. It is easy to love our family members and friends. The family members are attached to us in relation. We have known our parents since the time of birth, so loving them is not hard. Our friends are equals who give us pleasure through association. They give us something, so giving them attention in return also isn’t so difficult.

But the saint gives the same level of affection, taking all risk to offer their rescuing influence, without personally knowing the people they save. They would rather not leave anyone stranded, and to help the mission along they train others on how to administer the same emergency treatment. The best treatment of all is to hear about God, and the easiest way to hear Him is to chant His holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”.

Just chanting this mantra over and over again is enough, but since the material ocean has so many distractions, a routine is required along with an accompanying attention to piety and sin. Avoid pitfalls like meat eating, gambling, intoxication and illicit sex and make a steady vow to chant the holy names a set number of times each day, and gradually a new level of enthusiasm will emerge. From that practice the glories of the rescuing saint increase all the more, and the appreciation becomes so profound that the rescued soul looks for ways to repay the kindness originally shown to them. Of course the best way to please the saint is to pass on the holy names, to rescue another soul by taking the risk, ignoring the opposition mounted by others who can’t understand the devotional mindset. The reward of bringing to someone the happiness of God’s association is worth the effort.

In Closing:

Man gone overboard, leave him there?

Forget him, only about myself to care?


From heaven the saintly man descends,

A rescuing hand to fallen souls he extends.


No matter what reception he receives,

In mission of life he firmly believes.


Aim is to think about God at the end,

That objective all wounds does mend.


Impossible for kindness of saint to repay,

So just chant holy names every single day.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Eyes Like Lotuses

Lord Rama“With their beautiful hair on the head and their eyes like lotuses, the beauty of Rama and Lakshmana defeats the pride of millions of cupids.” (Janaki Mangala, 50)

kākapaccha sira subhaga sarorūha locana |
gaura syāma sata koṭi kāma mada mocana ||

Goswami Tulsidas here continues his description of Rama and Lakshmana seated in the assembly in King Janaka’s court. The two brothers were innocently looking upon the festivities, but others took notice of their wonderful bodily marks and auspicious dimensions. Rama was dark-skinned and Lakshmana fair, and every one of their facial features was notable. The poet fails to find words to describe their beauty, so he resorts to comparisons to known objects. With the proper reference, doing a comparison and stating that the object in question is superior to the reference object, the listener can begin to get an idea of the wonderful qualities extolled by the poet.

To be defeated by a powerful figure is one thing, but if you took millions of the same formidable force, it would be next to impossible to achieve victory. In the Vedic tradition the god of love, Kamadeva, is known for his beauty. He has the emblem of the fish on his banner and acts as cupid wherever he goes. He takes full advantage of the spring season, which enhances the desire for conjugal love within the earth’s population, who have just survived the harsh winter. Difficult it is to conquer cupid, for it takes a powerful ascetic like Lord Shiva to burn up the fire of lust from within the body.

Now just imagine if you had millions of cupids standing side by side. The combined beauty would be too much to fathom. Immeasurable would be the reservoir of kama, or desire, produced. Yet Tulsidas says that Rama and Lakshmana, while sitting in Janaka’s court, not overly dressed either, would easily defeat millions of cupids in beauty. One takes their pride from their most outstanding attribute. A fighter feels self-worth from emerging victorious in combat. A police officer takes pride from their ability to defend and protect the innocent. Supreme wisdom and knowledge are what fill the exalted teacher with pride, and dexterity the athlete.

For cupid, pride comes from outstanding beauty. Therefore to find someone more beautiful equates to having your pride defeated. You are humbled in defeat, made to know that you are not supreme in your attributes. Only Bhagavan, the most fortunate, possesses the opulences of beauty, wealth, strength, fame, knowledge and renunciation to the fullest degree and at the same time. Bhagavan’s name is rooted in fortune, which is the same word used here by Tulsidas. He says that Rama and Lakshmana are subhaga, or supremely fortunate. Rama is the very same Bhagavan, appearing on earth in the guise of a warrior prince. Lakshmana is His devoted younger brother and also a partial incarnation of God.

Rama and LakshmanaIt should be noted that Bhagavan retains His fortunate standing in every circumstance. In the scene in question, neither Rama nor Lakshmana were opulently dressed. They were living in the forests as protectors to the exalted sage Vishvamitra. They belonged to the famous Raghu dynasty, but their visit to Janakpur was not an official one. Vishvamitra led them to the kingdom, where a grand sacrifice was taking place. The religious function in question was to determine the husband for King Janaka’s daughter Sita.

Sita Devi is known as the goddess of fortune, so whoever has her association automatically becomes supremely fortunate. As Rama is Bhagavan, or the most fortunate, He is eternally in the company of the goddess of fortune. The sacrifice in King Janaka’s kingdom was to merely reunite the divine pair, who are still together to this day. Rama was the elder brother, so only He was eligible to marry Sita, as the younger brother would not marry before the older one.

Janaka, a pious king, gave Rama and Lakshmana thrones to sit on. The king didn’t know who they were at first, but Vishvamitra introduced them. He described the brothers as conquerors of the enemies of the demigods. The suras are the pious class, and they can live on earth or in the heavenly realm. Either place has the same basic feature set, except in the heavenly realm the duration of life is much longer. Opposite to the sura is the asura, or demon. They are generally against religious principles and thus like to harass the saintly class as much as possible.

“I envy no one, nor am I partial to anyone. I am equal to all. But whoever renders service unto Me in devotion is a friend, is in Me, and I am also a friend to him.”  (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.29)

Bhagavan is neutral by default, but if He sees that devotional activities are being thwarted, He either personally intervenes or sends one of His representatives. In the case of Vishvamitra and the suras during this particular time, Bhagavan personally descended upon the scene as Shri Rama. While in the forests with Vishvamitra, Rama, though very young, killed the wicked female night-ranger named Tataka. He and Lakshmana defended the sage so well that in return the muni gave the boys special mantras to be chanted during fighting. The sacred chants would transform the arrows shot from their bows into mini-nuclear weapons.

Rama and Lakshmana slaying TatakaJanaka offered the trio special favor in his kingdom because of their splendid qualities. The king was reluctant to carry on with the ceremonies after seeing Rama. Though the Lord was shyama, or dark, in color, He was still the most beautiful person in the assembly. He was so chivalrous that He had left home at a young age to defend an elderly brahmana. The sage personally vouched for Rama and Lakshmana’s chivalry by declaring them to be protectors against the enemies of the demigods. Rama also belonged to the famous Ikshvaku dynasty, so His ancestry was spotless.

In other words, Rama was the ideal match for Sita. The person Janaka thought didn’t exist was now right in front of him. Ah, but too bad, for the contest was already set. The king can’t go back on his vow after the fact. The rules stipulated that whoever could lift Lord Shiva’s enormously heavy bow in front of the gathered assembly would immediately get Sita’s hand in marriage. All Janaka could do now was hope. He gave his guests a choice viewing location with comfortable arrangements. Hopefully no one else could lift the bow and Rama wouldn’t fail to deliver.

Bhagavan never fails in His mission, so there was no chance for Sita to marry anyone besides Rama. The beauty of the two brothers in the assembly set the proper mood for the onlookers. The beautiful eyes of the boys looked like the lotus flowers that float in the pond. Their beauty would crush anyone’s pride, including cupid’s, and yet they were just sitting there innocently, as if they had no idea what effect their presence had on others.

With that vision the pure-hearted saints and residents of Janakpur got to soak in the visual nectar. They formed an attachment to those two brothers which would last well beyond Sita and Rama’s upcoming marriage. The same attachment can be formed by regularly remembering that scene and cherishing it. If the vision of the fair and dark sons of King Dasharatha should ever slip away, recite the holy names found in the maha-mantra, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”.

Janaka could have called off the contest, but sheer beauty was not enough. The credentials earned off of past accomplishments could be challenged by the other kings as well, as news of Janaka’s contest had spread throughout the world. “Why should Rama and Lakshmana be granted special favors? Shouldn’t they have to earn their victories like everyone else?” These were the issues at hand. The immense strength required to lift the bow and the delicate features of the two youths created a nice paradox. Kamadeva, or cupid, isn’t known for being an excellent fighter. He is passion personified, so if anything he can strike at the heart of one’s strength and weaken them through desires for conjugal affairs.

Bhagavan is purna, or complete, so His beauty is as full as His strength. He would remind us of this fact by stepping up to the sacrificial altar and easily lifting the extremely heavy bow that so many kings had previously failed to even move. Janaka’s name and fame would be established by keeping his promise and creating a contest where Rama’s standing as the strongest person in the world would be known to all. Rama deserved to have the beautiful Sita as a wife, and the pleased onlookers deserved to delight in the scene. In the same way, the pure-hearted souls of the world should get to hear the wonderful pastimes of the Supreme Lord that are described in the Vedic texts and are so nicely synthesized in the poems and songs of Goswami Tulsidas.

In Closing:

With the arrows that he fires,

In victims ignites lusty desires.


Kamadeva’s beauty considered the best,

With it defeats pride of all the rest.


Tulsi says Dasharatha’s sons superior,

In beauty all others are inferior.


Beauty and strength don’t seem to match,

Yet Rama’s amazing feat onlookers did catch.


Lifted Lord Shiva’s bow for promise to fulfill,

Of King Janaka, who is famous to this day still.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Highest Dharma

Lord Chaitanya worshiping Radha and Krishna“Merely by chanting we can have all the advantages of personal association with Krishna. Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, who is not only considered to be a realized soul but an incarnation of Krishna Himself, has pointed out that in this age of Kali, although men have no real facilities for self-realization, Krishna is so kind that He has given this shabda (sound incarnation) to be utilized as the yuga-dharma, or way of realization of this age.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Beyond Birth and Death, Ch 5)

Dharma is a word that descends from the Vedic tradition. At its root it means a defining characteristic. That definition actually applies to all the uses of the word, as the ideal feature of an object is then what determines virtue, right and wrong, etc. Dharma is thus more commonly equated to religion, which is the system of maintenance aimed at awakening the defining characteristic of the practicing individual. But dharma is often qualified with other terms, showing that there are copycat versions of the system of maintenance, that is there exists smaller, more streamlined practices aimed at keeping different types of characteristics. Yet through all the variety, the original dharma remains the same, and its effectiveness is the most far reaching as well.

No matter what your level of intelligence with respect to spiritual matters, you will follow some type of dharma. Just getting up at a certain time each day represents a system of maintenance aimed at furthering a specific condition. If, as a family man, I arise at a specific time so that I can wake up my children, the rule is instituted for a purpose. The ideal condition is to wake the children up before school, giving them a proper breakfast and making sure that they catch the bus or get dropped off to the school building on time. Thus my time for waking up is part of a smaller dharma that I follow.

Coupled with the time of waking up is the time of falling asleep at night. If I have to wake up at a certain time, I need to fall asleep a set number of hours prior in order to avoid lethargy in the morning. Oh, and to sleep on time, I need to make sure to eat dinner at a specific time also. The body needs enough time to digest properly, and if I eat right before sleeping, the night of slumber will not be so pleasant. In order to eat on time, I need to prepare dinner a set number of hours before. For that to happen, I have to go to the store to get the ingredients for the dinner. The food items need to be bought in a certain amount, perhaps even in bulk. Then I need an area to store the food.

homeOh, and by the way, I need a house for all of this activity to take place in. For a house, I need a job, and for a job I need an education. To have children to wake up in the morning, I need to be married, or at least have a significant other. To get married, I need to take care of my physical appearance, which may mean working out at a gym. Again, to pay for all these things, I need to earn and save money.

In this way, we see that from one desired condition, so many other dependent conditions are created. The entire system turns into a dharma because it has corresponding rules and regulations to meet the ideal characteristic. If we go back to the beginning point, which was arbitrarily selected in this example, we can turn the condition upside down and still have a dharma. If our desire is to not wake up at a certain time, to sleep as long as we want, that too is a guiding principle. It is a type of dharma aimed at meeting a condition, though the result isn’t always as favorable. If I oversleep, I will miss out on other aspects of life and be more tired throughout the day. Thus the original dharma will have to be changed, with a different one adopted to meet the newly desired condition.

It is in this area that we see the flaw, or at least the limitation, to the smaller dharmas. There are problems we see in life that we want to fix. We see the damage that smoking cigarettes causes, so we start a campaign to stop smoking. We’ll air advertisements on television with young children speaking of how they are afraid of losing their parents to death because they smoke. The cigarette manufacturers will get sued for turning a huge profit off of the voluntary purchase of cigarettes made by others. Of course ignored through all of this is drinking alcohol, which can kill a person in an instant through a bad decision.

Another person sees environmental destruction and takes up the cause to stop pollution. Another person sees women abused in relationships and decides to hold an annual walk to stop domestic violence. A victim of cancer starts an organization to bring awareness to the society at large of cancer and other deadly diseases, with the hope that others will donate money to help find cures.

Through it all, the original dharma, the set of procedures which gave birth to the original word, is still the most effective. The spirit soul is the identifying agent within all life forms. That is the basis for dharma. The most inclusive characteristic will be the most ideal condition to be reached. At its core, the individual is a spirit soul, and the soul is full of knowledge, bliss and eternality. The ideal characteristic resulting from these properties is the desire to serve. “I think therefore I am”, is a profound realization, but it is still incomplete. “I want to serve therefore I am a spirit soul, part and parcel of God”, is more accurate.

In sanatana-dharma, or the eternal occupational duty of the soul, the right procedures are adopted to maintain that ideal characteristic. In the smaller dharmas there is also service. The defect, however, is that the service is not directed at the ideal beneficiary. It is for this reason only that the manmade systems of maintenance are adopted and then quickly discarded. Moreover, one person’s system may not be helpful to another person. If one person wants a big-box retailer to open up a shop in the local neighborhood to create jobs, their desire will clash with the shop owner who doesn’t want the new competition to put him out of business. The attention given to stop cancer does not help the person who wants to stop domestic violence. Each of these smaller dharmas is limited in their influence and thus automatically inferior to the highest dharma.

The soul’s ideal characteristic is to serve the Supreme Soul. Since so many other systems of maintenance are created, the qualification of sanatana or bhagavata is typically added to the original dharma. With that distinction, the spirit soul offers service to God in a mood of love.

But then the concept of God seems rather vague. If God is everything, why can’t He be the environment? Am I not serving God by stopping pollution? Therefore isn’t environmentalism a type of bhagavata-dharma?

To dispel doubts and remove confusion, the authorized scriptures give concrete information about the Supreme Soul. God is certainly everything, and the sum collection of stuff is one way to visualize Him. Nevertheless, that sum collection is just matter, which is lifeless without the injection of spirit. The Supreme Soul is spirit at the core, and so are the living entities. Thus spirit should serve spirit. When the spirit soul encased in matter serves the material energy, there is no question of dharma. Real dharma relates entirely to the qualities of the spirit soul, and these qualities can never leave the individual. In this way bhagavata-dharma never changes; it never has to be rejected once adopted in earnest.

The guiding principles of bhagavata-dharma bring about the ideal condition, thus offering a way for others to test whether or not the principles themselves are dogmatic or scientific. If I see that the system of maintenance I follow keeps the ideal characteristic I’m looking for, I know with faith that the path I’m on is correct. With bhagavata-dharma, the ideal condition is to be serving God, who is described as Bhagavan, which means one who possesses beauty, wealth, strength, fame, knowledge and renunciation to the fullest degree and at the same time. Service to such an entity results in everlasting pleasure and an endless desire to continue in that service.

BhagavanThe lesser issues are simultaneously solved through bhagavata-dharma. We saw that through the one desired condition of wanting to get the kids ready for school, so many other necessary conditions were created and addressed. In the same way, if our primary aim is to connect with God, the other activities will be shifted to accommodate that goal. The single best way to connect with God in the present age is to chant His names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”. Hear these names, believe in their power, and recite them with firm faith, confidence and love. The holy name is so powerful that you don’t need to know who it addresses in the beginning. Just make a routine of chanting this mantra, taking special attention to hear the words.

There are accompanying regulations to the chanting routine, such as avoiding meat eating, gambling, intoxication and illicit sex. Food intake seems to be pretty easy to control, as you can just change what you eat. But what about controlling sexual urges and sleeping habits. How are we supposed to sleep less when rest is something we need? What to do when we have the urge for sex life? As service to God is the ideal characteristic for the soul, bhagavata-dharma is meant to be a fulltime engagement. Seems weird at first, because how are we going to worship God if we have so many other things to do throughout the day? Well, just as the lover struck by Cupid’s arrow can’t help but think of their paramour throughout the day, the devoted soul keeps the Supreme Lord within their consciousness at all times. That presence is safeguarded through regular chanting and hearing about the divine pastimes found in sacred texts like the Ramayana, Bhagavad-gita and Shrimad Bhagavatam.

From that properly situated consciousness, so many new ways to practice devotion are found. In the ideal state, even sleeping turns into a time of devotion, as does the union of the sexes. In the Bhagavad-gita, Krishna says that He is the sex life that doesn’t go against religious principles. This means that sex life to propagate children who will grow up to practice bhagavata-dharma is completely in line with piety. From that ideal condition of loving God, the proper care for innocent women, the environment, the body, the mind, and so many other aspects of life is automatically found. Thus bhagavata-dharma is always supreme, and it never goes bad on the shelves of the spiritual storehouse that is the Vedic tradition. Know that at any time you can find the holy name and turn your life around.

In Closing:

Slumber at proper time you take,

So that children in morning you can awake.


Food, family and your beautiful home,

Need wife and job, can’t do it all alone.


Around ideal conditions this all does revolve,

Make regulations for different issues to solve.


But that which touches on spirit is the best,

Goes to essence, thus incorporates all the rest.


Highest dharma is God’s names always to chant,

Hear the words even if believe in Him you can’t.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Intelligent Worship

Shri Hanuman“Thinking thus, the great-soul Hanuman, waiting for the wife of the king of men, hiding himself in many flowers and dense leaves on that tree, strictly observed and looked at everything.” (Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 14.52)

evam tu matvā hanumān mahātmā |
pratīkṣamāṇo manuja indra patnīm ||
avekṣamāṇaḥ ca dadarśa sarvam |
supuṣpite parṇa ghane nilīnaḥ ||

Boy reaches an age of maturity where he starts to notice members of the opposite sex. Boy meets girl. Boy falls in love with girl. As his new object of worship, he offers her so many compliments throughout the day, just hoping that she will give some indication of receipt, that perchance she loves him just as much as he loves her. Boy marries girl and hopes to live happily ever after. Husband and wife live together, have children, and hope to continue their love in this way. The object of worship for both parties in this scenario is another person, who is known to be flawed. Think of the troubles you go through every day. Are you perfect? Are you not prone to mistakes? Do you not worry over the future? If these flaws exist in you, why should they be absent in your object of worship? Ah, but there is a living entity who is free of defects, and since their qualities are splendid, those who make such a figure their primary object of worship never run out of love to offer. Moreover, their offering of love can never be stopped; there is no interruption. Because of these wonderful features that exist in this discipline of service, whoever should take this up should be considered very wise.

In the above mentioned hypothetical scenario with boy and girl, the relationship can turn sour at any point. Since the boy is flawed, naturally the girl will be as well. She will not always be receptive to his advances or his kind words. She may even sternly rebuke him in instances. This happens all the time in relationships, and there have been several such famous incidents in relation to saintly characters. They loved their wives so much that they abandoned their stated dedicated worship in favor of remaining attached. The wives in these instances were so “cruel” that they didn’t just insult their husbands for their attachment. They went one step further by stating that the same attachment should have been directed towards their previously stated object of worship if they were to ever make anything of their lives.

The women are not to blame in these scenarios, and neither are the men when the roles are reversed. The spirit soul craves the ability to love. Be it a significant other, a child, a pet, or even a community, the individual is happiest when offering service. If the object of service is a staple in the equation, it would make sense then that the higher its value the more pleasure the person offering the service would receive. But how can we assign values to other living entities? How can we say that one person is better than another?

Ah, but if we don’t make this assessment, we’ll base our service off of the reception we receive, or worse, our personal level of attraction. For instance, if we see two women and only one of them is beautiful to us, we are in essence making a distinction. As they are both living entities, they are equally as worthy of service from other living entities, but in this instance our senses dictate our choice in worship. But we know that the sense demands are based off of external vision, which is guaranteed to change. Whatever external features attract us today will very soon be gone or at least diminished in their opulence.

If we qualify our service based on the reception we receive, the love aspect is checked. Take the example of a parent. If a parent only loves their children who are obedient, how could anyone ever be a loving parent? A child is meant to act out after all, and so the parent must be there to provide a firm, guiding, and yet loving hand. In the absence of that love, the child would not grow up properly. If the reception were the only factor in determining the offering of affection, the love would be squashed immediately.

So it looks like we already make distinctions with potential objects of service, and so who is to say which judgments are better or worse? It is the qualities of the object of service which matter, and the level to which they possess them. The attractiveness of the woman is what extracts the loving service from the man, and it is the biological and familial relationship which brings forth the love from the parents. Know, however, that there are living entities who possess the greatest attractiveness and who are intimately tied to every single living entity. They thus serve as the ideal objects of worship, and provide a corresponding level of happiness unseen anywhere else.

Lord KrishnaBecause He is the most attractive, the Supreme Lord is known as Krishna. Not to be confused with a sectarian figure of importance only to the Hindus, Krishna is God for real. He possesses all beauty, all wealth, all strength, all knowledge, all renunciation and all fame simultaneously. He is also intimately tied to the living entities based on His original position. He is the origin of matter and spirit, and we are fragments of spirit currently encased in matter. Therefore Krishna is automatically our superior father, someone who never separates from us. There is only separation in terms of consciousness, which is driven by our personal choice.

“The yogi who knows that I and the Supersoul within all creatures are one worships Me and remains always in Me in all circumstances.”  (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 6.31)

If He never breaks from us, it means that the connection to Krishna can be revived at any second. To show how that is done, we can look to the example of worshipable figures like Shri Hanuman. He worships God in His incarnation of Lord Rama. The Supreme Lord is the full energetic, and He has a corresponding energy, of which we are a part. The ideal use of that energy is to engage in loving service to God, so the most qualified fragments of the spiritual energy are Krishna’s eternal consorts. Krishna is always with Shrimati Radharani, and the incarnation of Rama is always with Sita Devi.

Sita and Rama are ideal objects of worship because their divine qualities never exhaust or change. The couple is so attractive and so kind that the mind can contemplate on their features day after day and still not reach an end. The eligibility for service is not limited to the mind. All of the body parts assumed at the time of birth can be engaged in that service. Even infiltrating an enemy land and surveying a beautiful park while perched on a tree branch is a way to offer that service, as was the case with Hanuman.

In the above referenced verse from the Ramayana, Hanuman is concluding a period of thinking about Sita. He reviewed her features in order to predict where she might be. At the time, she was separated from Rama’s company, as the divine pair were playing their roles in the real-life drama known as the Ramayana. The ogre-king of Lanka, Ravana, had taken Sita away through a backhanded plot and tried to win her over. She refused him, and so he left her in an Ashoka grove situated next to the head palace.

Shri HanumanHanuman was now in this grove, but he didn’t know Sita’s location. He was sent to find her by Rama, but Hanuman had little information to go by. He heard that she was in Lanka, but he hadn’t seen her yet, and he wasn’t sure if she was still alive. In reviewing her qualities, which were known to him through hearing stories about her, Hanuman predicted that she would be in this pristine park of lovely trees and flowers.

He hid himself amidst so many flowers and leaves on this specific tree. From his perch he could see everything, so he just sat there and waited, moving his eyes about the entire park to see if he could spot Sita. There was frustration in this mission and also fear. The burden was great on Hanuman, as he couldn’t live with himself if he failed. But he was also on a mission of love, so there was no chance of ever giving up or running low on affectionate feelings. If, ever, he hit a low spot, he could just remember Sita and Rama’s qualities. Rama was the king of men, the best bow warrior in the world. He had a kind disposition, and He was always on the side of good. Sita was His beloved wife, so naturally she had every virtuous quality as well.

The intelligent Hanuman picks a perfect object of worship in the divine couple of Sita and Rama. His love for them would lead him to Sita’s location, and afterwards he would return to Lanka with Rama and the band of Vanaras from the Kishkindha forest. Even after Sita and Rama returned to the spiritual world, Hanuman continued his love for them, always chanting their glories and reliving their exploits so kindly presented in the Ramayana. Therefore we know that worship of God never has to cease, and since the service never stops, so too the corresponding happiness continues to arrive.

In Closing:

Of energy in service you are a storehouse,

Endless amount of love you can let out.


Matter is in where that energy to direct,

Choose entity in whom attractiveness you detect.


They should have qualities that are limitless,

So that opportunities for contemplation boundless.


See example of whom Hanuman does choose,

Sita and Rama, never devotion they refuse.


Can think of their qualities at any time,

Helped Hanuman in Lanka Sita to find.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Conspiracy Theory

Krishna with Yashoda“Krishna replied, ‘My dear mother, they have plotted together and lodged a complaint against Me so that you will punish Me. My elder brother, Balarama, has joined them. Actually, I have not done this. Take My words as true. Do not be angry and chastise Me.’” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 10.8.34 Purport)

The neighborhood boys have conspired against the young Shyamasundara. He is innocent and playful, though He is already notorious for His naughty behavior. First He would go into other people’s homes and steal their butter. Then He would find young babies in different rooms and pinch them to make them cry. Sometimes He would open up the sheds where the calves were and let them out. The calves then rushed to their mother cows and drank all the milk in their bags before any of the cowherd men could come and take milk. Thus it was not surprising for Krishna to eat dirt, something a child shouldn’t do. But this time He was raising opposition directly before His mother, which was a little strange. The difference in behavior was not without a purpose, though.

Previously, when accused of things He actually had done, Krishna just let His charming smile do the magic. The cowherd women, the gopis, would lodge complaints to mother Yashoda with Krishna standing right there. Yet when they would look at Him, He’d play innocent and just smile. From that enchanting glance, the women would forget their anger and advise Yashoda not to punish Him. Being let off the hook that way gave Damodara the license to continue playing pranks and having fun as a child.

Yashoda’s son earned the name Damodara through an act of defiance committed directly against the mother. She had to get up one day while feeding Him, and since Krishna didn’t like this, He broke a pot of butter in anger. This butter had just been churned from yogurt, so He knew that it was important to His mother. Krishna then ran away, taking butter smeared footprints with Him to give away His location.

Yashoda chasing KrishnaYashoda mildly punished Krishna by tying Him to a mortar, thus earning the boy the nickname of Damodara. That punishment is marveled at by devotees who hear about it from reciters of the Shrimad Bhagavatam, which is also known as the Bhagavata Purana. The listener must wait until the tenth canto to hear accounts of such a charming incident. You see, the ordinary punishment of an ordinary child is not so noteworthy, but when you hear about this child’s transcendental features and supreme position from the first nine cantos of the work, you are better situated in consciousness to appreciate His childish play in the sacred town of Vrindavana.

The complaints by Krishna’s friends represented another chance for Damodara to show His magic, to give pleasure to His mother in a whole new way. The young boys would play out on the field during the day, taking the calves with them. The cows need to eat grass to survive, and based on natural love the mothers feel for their children, they produce milk. In this way milk becomes a special sort of food, one that is not ordinary. It is not produced out of necessity for personal gratification; it is completely rooted in affection for someone else. That milk which is then offered to society provides so many uses, proving how vital the cow and its protection are to society.

On this day Krishna was accused of eating dirt. Why would He do something like that? Earth can be used for so many purposes, such as a marked area for a sacrifice, the foundation for a house, and even pots and dishes, but it is never to be eaten. Young children don’t know any better, so it is not surprising for them to eat things that they shouldn’t. That is why part of the “baby proofing” process is securing the kitchen cabinets with locks. This way the curious young child can’t open the cabinets and ingest poisonous chemicals that are used as cleaning agents.

Yashoda asked her son if He had eaten dirt and He responded that He hadn’t. He blamed the incident on His friends, saying that their accusations were fabricated. Surprisingly, even Balarama was labeled a suspect by Krishna. Balarama was the elder brother, so it was strange for him to be against Krishna in this way. From everyone else’s point of view, the presumption was that Krishna was lying. He had already stolen butter and done so many other naughty things, so what would stop Him from eating dirt and disturbing the worrying mother?

Krishna with mother YashodaKrishna does always get away with His tricks. When Damodara was tied to a mortar, within that position He caused two arjuna trees to drop, so how tied up could He actually have been? Previously there was no punishment for the other pranks, and Krishna also seemed to escape every attack made against Him. Vicious creatures from the neighboring town of Mathura were sent to kill Krishna because the young boy had actually appeared from the womb of mother Devaki, who was Kamsa’s sister. Kamsa, the king of Mathura, was told previously that his sister’s eighth child would kill him, but Krishna can never be killed, and so He managed to make it to Vrindavana unharmed.

None of the attacking demons left Vrindavana alive, and it was all Krishna’s doing. But now the young boy was in a trap. If He had eaten dirt, the evidence would be in His mouth, and since Yashoda was there this time, no one would be around to save Him. Finally the boy who never got caught for anything would get punished directly by the mother. The Supreme Controller would be under the control of others, instead of the other way around.

Of course the entire incident was orchestrated by Bhagavan Shri Krishna to give His mother more pleasure than she already felt. Within that sweet mouth was not dirt, but instead a vision of the entire creation. Through the excuse of the dirt, Krishna granted His mother a vision rarely seen. In this way she would see the opulence of Bhagavan but at the same time not abandon her parental affection towards Him, for He lay seated on her lap. The Supreme Personality plays these games with His most affectionate supporters. Krishna actually supports them in their devotion and gives them the cherished association that they desire so much.

In Closing:

Complaint to mother Yashoda was brought,

So this time Krishna sure to get caught.


Krishna ate dirt Balarama and friends said,

Hopefully to punishment He would be led.


Young boy’s mouth she’d have to examine,

But inside a vision one couldn’t imagine.


In this way Krishna always does play,

In final outcome He has the real say.


Devotees cherish that charming incident,

For in it God’s love for votaries evident.