Saturday, July 21, 2012

To Her Liking

Krishna and Yashoda“When a person is given varieties of food, there may be a hundred and one varieties, but if one likes ordinary shaka, spinach, he prefers to eat that. Similarly, although Krishna was full of opulences, now, by the order of mother Yashoda, He opened wide His mouth like a human child and did not neglect the transcendental humor of maternal affection.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 10.8.36 Purport)

Shri Krishna is so kind that whatever the devotee desires for practicing their devotion they get. Their defining position automatically precludes them from asking for something that is not feasible. There is no desire that the supreme controller cannot meet, even if it seems to outsiders that there should be another means of interaction. For the dear mother in Vrindavana some five thousand years ago, the cherished wish was interaction through the style of maternal affection. For this to take place, the person who has an all-encompassing form in the external energy would have to remain in a diminutive stature, where He would need the protection of those wishing to offer it. When you are the Supreme Lord, there is no ego stopping you from voluntarily acting subordinate in this way.

While in a temporary land the spirit soul is covered by five gross elements and three subtle elements. One of the subtle elements is ego, and it is considered a false ego [ahankara] when a proper identification is lacking. As the constitutional position of the living spirit cannot be recognized until after many births and the good fortune of association with those who know this information and act off of it, the false ego is present by default.

The false ego makes us think that we are better than we are. We can do a specific task well, so we think that we are capable. As the accomplished tasks increase in difficulty, the stronger the false ego becomes. The practice of elitism follows this model. “I’m too good to do this and do that. That should be left to others to handle. My time is more valuable, so I have to engage it in activities that only a select few like myself can complete.”

Even without the nod towards spiritual understanding, this line of thinking is flawed. For starters, how does one get to that exalted position? Do not others have to teach us? Do we not require the advice and consent of others to reach maturity? What about the protection others offer us? Every second that we continue to live is a good fortune because during any slice of that time we could have been attacked by a disease, a natural disaster, or another living entity. These are the threefold miseries of life and no person is immune from them.

False ego is tough to shed because we do have our pride. If we accomplish some work, should we not feel satisfied? Shouldn’t we have something to hang our hat on? Self-esteem is taught for this very reason, for if we constantly berate ourselves, keeping a steady reminder of how incapable we are, how would we have the courage to move ahead?

The same ego exists in the pure condition, but the source of its strength is a proper identification. Under a real ego, the individual knows that they are part and parcel of God. They are part of Him because everything that exists is within the definition of God. They are a parcel of His infinite energy, though only a tiny portion of it. There is simultaneous oneness and difference, which indicates that there is equality in terms of spiritual quality but distinction in terms of quantitative output. The individual soul is not as capable as the Supreme Soul. The individual soul resides within a single body at a time and has its features masked by the material coverings, whereas the Supreme Soul exists within every single body and is responsible for distributing the results to action. If the Supreme Soul were to have defects, there would never be any movement of energy.

“The bewildered spirit soul, under the influence of the three modes of material nature, thinks himself to be the doer of activities, which are in actuality carried out by nature.”  (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 3.27)

Bhagavad-gitaUnder a real ego, the living entity takes their pride from knowing that the Supreme Lord is their best friend, the ultimate enjoyer, and the proprietor of everything. You live in the house of your parents growing up, but you act like it’s your own house. That is because you and your parents have the same interest. You know that you share the house due to the kindness of your mother and father. In a loving relationship, you will try to use the property they give you to please them. The clothes they purchase for you are worn to school so that you can live a healthy life and mature properly. Even the items of entertainment they provide are meant to further the maturation process, to allow you to have some fun during your downtime.

If we expand the same concept out to the grandest scale, we see that this entire universe is full of objects that can be used for the Supreme Lord’s pleasure. To know how to please Him, we should become familiar with some of His characteristics, His features. Though there are too many divine qualities to count, this doesn’t mean that the exercise in glorification and study is futile. Rather, whatever effort is made in good faith only returns so many benefits to the worker.

In the state where we know of God only as a nameless and faceless person, there isn’t much we can offer Him. We may try to define our own sense of right and wrong, but in the material world there is duality. Lying and stealing are bad, but sometimes they are necessary. Violence is terrible, but then again sometimes it is required for peace. How do we tell which way to go when trying to please the person we call out to in times of trouble, who is known to be all-powerful? And why would we want to serve Him if He has so much already?

You can use the example of your own life to find the answers. Just because you are a father who has money and a home, does that mean your children are incapable of pleasing you? If they do something nice for you, will you not be pleased, especially if the mood of devotion is sincere? The Supreme Personality has everything, but despite His standing He can still make room for even more happiness. The specific mood of devotion is set by the individual, and Krishna accommodates accordingly.

Mother Yashoda holding KrishnaMother Yashoda in Vrindavana wanted to love God as her child. The Lord kindly obliged by appearing on earth in the most charming, youthful form. He specifically came to Vrindavana to delight the residents there, and Yashoda was not even Krishna’s biological mother. For Krishna there is no such thing as birth or death, but when He makes appearances, He accepts parents as a matter of formality. Devaki and Vasudeva were Krishna’s immediate parents in Mathura, but due to the influence of a nefarious character named Kamsa, the newborn child was transferred to Vrindavana, where He would be safe.

There the queen of Vraja, the wife of Nanda Maharaja, enjoyed the bliss that comes from seeing Shyamasundara on a daily basis. More delightful than their vision are the child’s activities. Krishna didn’t fail to deliver in this regard, as His presence was known throughout the community. He was a notoriously naughty young boy, but no one could do anything to punish Him. Mother Yashoda once tried to tie Him to a mortar after He broke a pot of butter in anger, but that didn’t do much to curb His antics. If anything, it just kept the sweetheart’s image in one place for a short while, relieving some of the blissful tension the mother felt on a daily basis.

Krishna was at it again one day when His friends approached the mother with a complaint. They said that Krishna had eaten dirt while playing. Krishna’s elder brother Balarama was part of the group leveling the accusation, so Yashoda certainly took the charge seriously. Krishna denied it, saying that His brother and friends were lying. If she didn’t believe Him she could check His mouth. Yashoda then did just that.

Krishna is full of so many opulences. For those who have trouble believing that God is an individual personality, Krishna has His all-encompassing form, the virat-rupa. Think of all the stuff in the world. Everything - planets, universes, bodies of water, people, hills, trees, etc. - is one way to picture God. And now that same person who is everything was asked to open His mouth to show if He had eaten dirt. Krishna agreed because His mother was not interested in reverential worship. She did not like to keep Krishna far away out of fear. Rather, her love was so strong that she liked to stay with Him as much as possible, considering Him to be helpless. To her, if Krishna had eaten dirt, it was a big deal. There was so much nice food at home to eat, including the boy’s preferred sweets and delectable butter.

Know for certain that in the transcendental mellows of devotional service the cherished desires of the devotees are met by the person who can grant any wish. He strengthened the mother’s bond of affection by allowing her to peek into His mouth. Within that tiny area, Yashoda would see the universal manifestation, the wonder of the infinite cosmos. Thus a place considered unclean became auspicious, a way for Yashoda to find further greatness in this tiny gift from above. May that bundle of joy forever remain in our hearts and may we always honor the noble dedication of His kind mother.

In Closing:

“Reverential worship I do not desire,

For loving my son I do aspire.


His friends say that He has eaten dirt,

No surprise, always with danger He flirts.


In trouble daily is this precious son of mine,

Giving me constant worry, hoping He is fine.


Denies the claim, an oath of truth He took,

If I don’t believe, in His mouth I can look.


Something magical certainly about this boy,

May I always love my precious bundle of joy.”

Friday, July 20, 2012

Take a Look

Lakshmana and Rama with Vishvamitra“With a quiver around the waist, and the lotus hands holding a bow and arrow, all the parts of their bodies enchant the mind which has a look at them.” (Janaki Mangala, 54)

kaṭi niṣanga kara kamalanhi dhareṃ dhanu-sāyaka |
sakala anga mana mohana johana lāyaka ||

Take a look at the beloved sons of King Dasharatha. You won’t see anyone like them in the world again, and you certainly haven’t gazed upon such beautiful youths before. Today is the day to look upon the contestants of a grand competition. You scrutinize their features, seeing if they measure up to the divine qualities of the princess whose hand will be given away as the prize to the winner. You take into account the family heritage, the dedication to chivalry, and the overall demeanor of each candidate. These two youths don’t appear to be here for the contest, and yet their bodily features all enchant the mind. The objects they carry with them also have divine qualities, only increasing the overall beauty.

The two youths have quivers tied around their waists. The quivers indicate that they hold arrows to be used to defend the innocent. These are young boys, yet they are the protectors of an elder muni who calls the forest his home. The muni is the teacher, the preceptor, but the students are the defenders. The paradox is furthered by the fact that these defenders are so beautiful in appearance. They wear sacred threads around their necks and have hands that are lotus-like.

The lotus flower is the symbol of purity and grace; you wouldn’t necessarily equate it with fighting. In the time period in question, fighting took place with bow and arrow, with the objective being the death of the enemy. Dying while in combat was considered noble, as you sacrificed your life for a higher cause. The sacrifice was for the interest of the party you represented. If you are willing to give up your life to defend the innocent, why shouldn’t you be rewarded with residence in heaven afterwards?

“O Partha, happy are the kshatriyas to whom such fighting opportunities come unsought, opening for them the doors of the heavenly planets.”  (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.32)

Krishna and ArjunaThe warriors qualified by internal qualities welcome the chance to show their skills. They are not afraid of meeting death at the hands of the enemy. In fact, for them running away from a fight is considered much worse. Infamy in that regard is the equivalent of death, while dying honorably in battle is the height of sacrifice, a high achievement, an indication of a life dedicated to someone else. Real love must involve sacrifice, and these two boys were willing to sacrifice everything for the protection of their spiritual master.

The bow and arrow set carried in the lotus-like hands enhanced the beauty. Princes carry weapons all the time, but the beautiful features of these boys enchanted the mind, and the weapons inherited the properties belonging to the owners. Thus the residents of this town could not take their eyes off of the two sons of King Dasharatha, who were seated on thrones as guests of the host, King Janaka.

Anyone who would see the two youths in this setting would feel the same way. The elder was dark-skinned and the younger lighter. The elder was Lord Rama, the jewel of the Raghu dynasty, and the younger Lakshmana, His dedicated brother. The muni Vishvamitra specifically asked for Rama’s protection in the forest, and his insistence proved to be necessary when Rama later killed the wicked female night-ranger Tataka. Lakshmana always follows Rama. You get one, you automatically get the other. The muni derived tremendous pleasure from having their association, and he did not consider their youth and inexperience to be negative assets.

On the contrary, their external beauty matched their internal purity, their dedication to protecting the innocent. In fact, it was their father who had reservations about them going to the forest to fight off the world’s wickedest creatures. Rama and Lakshmana unhesitatingly left home to tend to the muni. They guarded the sage’s sacrifices, which ensured that auspiciousness would abound both locally and in the neighboring communities.

The night-rangers, on the other hand, were committed to thwarting those religious practices. Rama and Lakshmana were like guards of a church, where the attackers weren’t arriving to pick apart sections of scripture or argue with the person giving the sermon. They weren’t so wise in these areas. They instead wanted to kill the priests and then eat their flesh. Thus Vishvamitra required an expert bow warrior who was not afraid to fight off evil forces.

If anything, Rama and Lakshmana were worried about pleasing the sage properly. This concern would cause them to give greater attention to their work, which in the process pleased Vishvamitra very much. After proving their worth in the forest and removing the fears of the many hermits assembled there, Rama and Lakshmana were led by Vishvamitra to Janakpur, where the goddess of fortune’s hand in marriage was to be given away.

Rama and Lakshmana fighting off TatakaKing Janaka instantly held affection for Rama and Lakshmana. Rama was especially intriguing because He was eligible for the contest. The younger, unmarried Lakshmana would not show up his brother by trying to lift the bow. If Rama won, Lakshmana would automatically become part of the family, so all interests were served in that regard.

The mind is enchanted by the appearance of the two brothers sitting innocently with their weapons. The mind likes to be enchanted because normally it is filled with so many worries. “Did I pass the test I took yesterday? Will my favorite team win the big game? Did I get that job that I interviewed for yesterday? Why has no one called me? I can’t stand the anticipation.”

The personal forms of the divine help one break free of these worries. Instead of hankering after things you want or lamenting over those things you failed to achieve, let your mind bask in the beauty of Rama and Lakshmana. Let your mind be enchanted by their beautiful bodily features and their weapons which are extensions of their mercy. Rama’s strength would delight the onlookers when it would be used to lift Lord Shiva’s bow, signaling the end of the contest. The winner was the delight of King Dasharatha and Queen Kausalya. Lakshmana and Vishvamitra were thrilled but not surprised, and the enchanted minds in Janakpur gazing upon the two boys felt relief and elation at the same time.

It should be remembered that at this gathering were the most famous princes from around the world. Janaka’s daughter Sita was the most beautiful woman in the world, and her virtue rounded out her divine features. She was Janaka’s daughter after all, so there could not exist a hint of sin in her. The fact that she was available for marriage presented such a tremendous opportunity for other royal families. If the wife is chaste, of good character, and from a family of good values, her presence within a new family is a godsend.

The large assembly of kings dressed in royal garb made Rama and Lakshmana’s beauty stand out even more. The boys were escorting a hermit in Vishvamitra, so they didn’t have a royal entourage with them, though one could be found back home in Ayodhya. Their presence was not announced with pomp, and yet everyone noticed them anyway. There was something special about Rama and His younger brother, and it could be noticed immediately.

Rama’s features were so enchanting that many people, including Janaka himself, worried that Rama might not be able to lift the bow. The concern was over the potential of a missed opportunity. If the contest would prevent Rama from marrying Sita, the contest must be bogus. And the person who came up with the contest and vowed to uphold its rules should also be cursed for making such a horrible decision.

All of this added to the anticipation, making the end result one to never be forgotten. As Rama lifted Mahadeva’s bow, He broke it in half, creating a sound that travelled throughout the three worlds. That fissure also cracked the tension and fear over the wrong outcome occurring. The enchanting elder brother of Lakshmana, who was worthy of marrying Sita, fulfilled destiny, to the delight of the devoted onlookers.

In Closing:

Holding a bow and arrow in their hands,

On their beautiful vision your eyes land.


With quivers tied around their waists,

Let your mind the enchanting beauty taste.


This precious sight was to eyes a gift,

To assembly to see who bow could lift.


Rama and Lakshmana the mind do enchant,

Their body parts that beauty do enhance.


Paradoxical features raised the anticipation,

Rama’s victory to cause fear’s emancipation.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Get Creative

Offering Krishna a flower garland“If one offers Me with love and devotion a leaf, a flower, fruit, or water, I will accept it.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.26)

What’s with all the decorations?

It’s Halloween, man. I’m excited. I’m going to get a huge pumpkin and carve it to make a jack-o-lantern. Also, I’m going to put some more spiders around everywhere, get dressed up in a scary looking costume, and be ready to greet all the trick-or-treaters.

Isn’t all this kind of lame? Why are you going to so much effort?

No, it’s a lot of fun. You should try getting into the spirit of things. Put on a cool costume and get with it. You have to live a little, and these holidays give you a chance to break out of the monotony.

Indeed, holiday time allows for the creative juices to really flow. During Christmas, you can put wreaths and tinsel all around to keep with the green motif. Santa Claus paraphernalia, reindeer images, whatever is associated with Christmas, Winter, New Year’s, etc. can go into your decorations. The same goes for other holidays like Easter, the Fourth of July, Halloween, and Valentine’s Day. In one particular endeavor, however, that festive attitude can be carried over to every single day, leaving ample time to fancy up the place, to make everything look really nice. Since this is done for the pleasure of someone else, the decorating turns into an act of love, and thus becomes supremely satisfying.

The work is for the pleasure of Lord Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. If you have an abstract conception of God, the decorating likely won’t happen. Evidence of this can be seen with the Christmas holiday. Though it has the word Christ in it, hardly anything about the holiday touches on Christ’s life or teachings. The holiday is now more commonly equated with promoting the general practices of “kindness” and “giving”. “Be nice to others, tis the Christmas season. If there is any time during the year that you should be nice, it should be during Christmas. It’s really important to be with family during the Christmas holiday.”

Christmas TreeWhen the picture of God is more clearly painted, when He is acknowledged to be the personality that He is, the service offered can be more genuine and long lasting. We know this based on the beautiful decorations seen in Krishna related temples. There are garlands of flowers, offerings of incense, beautiful surroundings to the altar, and wonderful dresses put on the deities. This decorating also occurs every day. The Supreme Lord and His eternal consort are like the exalted guests who come over the house, except they seem to arrive every day. Whatever is acquired through hard work is used for the guests’ pleasure.

Several issues may be raised in this connection. For starters, how do we know that Krishna is God? If I come from a Christian background, I’m told that carving a statue and worshiping it are strictly forbidden. Also, God’s features are never revealed to me, so to say that the Supreme Lord has a flute and a partner He enjoys with seems rather odd. But if we apply a little logic to the issue, we’ll see that the authenticity of Krishna’s supreme standing and the statements of the Vedas describing Him can be tested through one’s own effort.

For instance, if I go up to you and say that this piece of wood I’m holding in my hand is God, likely I won’t make much sense to you. If I sit down and start worshiping that piece of wood, bowing before it, I might seem even stranger. I need to do more than just point to blind faith, as any person can do that. One person has their quotes from their scriptural text and another has their own. To see if the worship is legitimate, the proper mindset needs to result. We know that the qualities of austerity, cleanliness, mercy and truthfulness are appreciated in people already, so when they manifest together and to a high degree in a devotee who follows Krishna-worship, we should take their pattern of behavior to be noteworthy.

Overall happiness is the most important factor to consider. If there is a God, He should be happy, as only someone who can’t get what they want will have reason to be angry. If you’re God, you can do whatever you want, whenever you want, so there is no reason for unhappiness. And then if God is always happy, the people that worship Him should also feel that pleasure. If you hang around miserable people all the time, you will be miserable. If you sit and watch the television newscasts day after day, you can’t help but turn into an envious creature who is constantly unhappy and angry that some people are supposedly doing well at the expense of others. On the other hand, if you’re around peaceful people, who know how to apply the equal vision to all forms of life, who are kind and polite, who follow the righteous path, you can’t help but have those good qualities rub off on you.

That lasting happiness brings determination. You only visit that restaurant for the second and third times if the previous experiences were worthwhile. Similarly, you will continue genuine worship only if the effort you previously made resulted in happiness. Use this comparison with respect to how religion is often practiced today and see what the results to the test are. If God is such a wonderful person, why worship Him just once a week? Why kill His innocent creatures like cows just to satisfy the taste buds? Why exempt cats and dogs from this violence then? Why kill innocent children in the womb, especially when you were fortunate enough to be protected during the same period of time in your life?

Of course there is more to go by than just the external results when practicing devotion to Krishna. There is the documented evidence of Krishna’s features and pastimes found in the Vedas, the oldest scriptural works in history. They are written in the Sanskrit language, which is the oldest language and also the most difficult one to understand. Then there are the lives of the saints, who practiced the principles espoused by the Vedas. They conducted the experiments for us already, and they shared their results for future generations to consult.

Krishna's lotus feetOnce we get past the issue of Krishna being God, there is the issue of regular celebration to consider. We get to show off our creativity for holidays like Christmas and Halloween precisely because they occur occasionally. If we did such decorating every day, would that not take something away from the process? For instance, if our birthday were to come three or four times a year instead of just once, wouldn’t that make the day less special? Normally this might be true, but devotion to Krishna is not a dry and stale activity. There is nuance and creativity built into every aspect, ensuring that the activity remains dynamic.

You can change dresses for the deities every day if you like, and you can fill in the gaps throughout the day with spontaneous singing and chanting of the holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”. Bhakti-yoga, or devotional service, also offers something other kinds of service don’t: the ability to meditate for long periods of time. You can actually just sit and stare at the decorated deity for a long while and derive tremendous enjoyment. You can’t really do the same with a Christmas tree or carved pumpkin. There is no reciprocation with these inanimate objects, but since the deity is an authorized representation of the Supreme Lord, it actually speaks back to the living entity internally, through the Supersoul within the heart.

The spark for devotional life gets constantly rejuvenated, like water coming in to feed the plant. Every living being has a creative spark in them that can be ignited on festive occasions. Even the most obstinate and reserved among us can’t help but sing along to our favorite songs and dance when the mood is right. Bhakti is meant to bring out this inner desire for celebration on a regular basis, to arrange for the meeting with the soul’s eternal counterpart, who is never meant to leave its company. Follow that devotion under the principles espoused by the saints like His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and allow your creativity to shine through.

In Closing:

This pumpkin for Halloween I will take,

With knife a jack-o-lantern I will make.


Tinsel and ornaments on the Christmas tree,

Holidays let my creativity run free.


Same tendency to God can be applied,

New preparations and offerings can be tried.


To worship Krishna every day is a chance,

At His beautiful form of the deity to glance.


Though daily, no fear of boredom,

Devotion pathway to spiritual kingdom.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Separated From The Herd

Sita and Rama“Not seeing the people dear to her and looking at the many Rakshasis, she looked like a deer separated from her flock and then surrounded by a group of hounds.” (Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 15.42)

priyam janam apaśyantīm paśyantīm rākṣasī gaṇam |
sva gaṇena mṛgīm hīnām śva gaṇa abhivṛtām iva ||

Sita’s situation in Lanka was so perilous that it took many comparisons to accurately describe it. To be separated from your loved one is one thing, as these sorts of things take place periodically throughout life. With the modern industrialized economies, the periods of separation can be quite lengthy as well. If you have to work in a specific place and are closed off from the rest of the world, it is very easy to continue on in isolation. If you only see your friends and family occasionally, what is the pressing need to stay connected with them? People who grew up in the same house can turn into strangers later on in life.

But in Sita’s case the separation was forced upon her. She did not desire to be away from her husband and His faithful younger brother. She was innocent in every way, a princess of delicate features who had never done anything bad to anyone. Her husband possessed great wealth as the eldest son of a king, but prior to their departure for the forest, the couple gave away all of their valuables to the priestly class. They left with only a few bare essentials.

This wasn’t a weekend trip to get in touch with nature either. Sita’s husband Rama was ordered to leave the kingdom by the king’s youngest wife, who wanted her son, Bharata, to ascend the throne. Lest Rama think of mounting a coup to take back the throne that rightfully belonged to Him, Kaikeyi sent Rama into exile for fourteen years. Sita and Lakshmana refused to allow Rama to go it alone, so they came along for the journey. The conditions were that Rama had to live in austerity, taking the ascetic’s garb. He could carry His weapons for His protection, but that was about it. The rest they’d have to figure out on their own.

Sita, Rama and Lakshmana leaving AyodhyaSita, the innocent princess who had done nothing wrong, went from living in royal opulence to squalor, but that didn’t matter to her. She was still with her loved ones. Rama was her life and soul, and since Lakshmana loved Rama just as much, naturally there was a familial bond between Sita and Lakshmana. From her behavior we see that true happiness comes not from the external conditions related to wealth and opulence, but rather from association. If you think back to a period of happiness from your past, you’ll notice that it likely included the association of friends and family. If you visit that same location again today, if that association is now absent, there won’t be any pleasure derived. It’s sort of like visiting the campus of the college you attended many years back, but this time the people are different. Thus it is not necessarily the location and the setting which determine pleasantness, but the quality of the association.

In Lanka, the situation was turned around for Sita. She was in a beautiful forest, one that was enchanting to the mind. We know of its beauty based on the descriptions provided in the Sundara-kanda of the Ramayana. This area was noteworthy because the rest of Lanka was like an opulent metropolis, with high buildings, exquisite palaces, and golden archways. The floors of the buildings were inlaid with crystal, giving a slight idea of the immense opulence that existed there. This was real wealth too, not a potential based on bank balance.

Though there was opulence in the city, the life was rooted in the modes of passion and ignorance. Drinking wine, eating animal flesh, and indulging in illicit sex were commonplace, so the area didn’t square well with the qualities of Rama’s wife. Shri Hanuman, the chief minister for the Vanara-king Sugriva, was sent there to look for Sita, who had been taken away from the forest by the king of Lanka, Ravana, who relied on a backhanded plot to carry out his horrible deed.

Sita wouldn’t give in to Ravana, of course, so he kept her in a grove filled with Ashoka trees and other nice plants and creepers. Seemed like she wouldn’t be so distressed, no? From the fact that she was no longer with her husband and His brother we can understand that she was in tremendous distress. If she preferred beautiful surroundings over good association, she would have remained in Ayodhya and waited for Rama’s fourteen year exile term to expire.

HanumanBut the separation from Rama and Lakshmana was just one aspect to her distress. Hanuman, who finally spotted her from afar while perched on a tree, could see that Sita was surrounded by Rakshasis, or female man-eaters. Eating meat represents an initial break from piety, because to carry it out one has to rely on violence against innocent animals. In the Vedic tradition, animal sacrifices were sometimes carried out in ancient times, but it was done for a religious purpose and not to satisfy the taste buds. The animals don’t know any better, so their killing of other animals for food is not considered sinful.

With the human being, who can use discrimination in their behavior, enough food is provided by the plants and milk. Thus to purposefully take to eating meat represents a fall from grace. One falls down even further based on the type of flesh they are willing to consume. Even in modern times where cows and chickens are eaten regularly, if someone were to indulge in eating cats and dogs they would be considered outcastes. Indeed, a famous professional football player in recent years was vilified for having killed dogs after they participated in organized fighting matches. Ironically, if he had done the same thing with cows or chickens, the public outcry would have been less intense.

One can imagine, then, how low a man-eater is. This is the business of the Rakshasa, and they populated the land of Lanka many thousands of years ago. These female Rakshasas were ordered by Ravana to harass Sita day and night, so as to hopefully get her to change her mind. The situation was so terrifying for Sita that in the above referenced verse she is compared to a female deer who has been separated from her pack and then surrounded by a group of hounds. In modern terms, we can liken this to a wife being separated from her husband and family members on a shopping trip and then being surrounded by a pack of thieves, who are looking to take her wallet and jewelry.

Of course Sita’s situation was much worse, as these terrifying creatures would not leave her alone. Though picturing such a scene is painful to the mind, the descriptions are given in the Ramayana to show just how strong Rama’s wife was. Though she was sobbing uncontrollably, wearing a beautiful cloth that was now covered with dirt, and going thin from not eating, she still remained alive, hoping to one day see her husband again. There is really no way to understand what she was going through; we can just appreciate her fortitude and how she refused to stop thinking of her dearly beloved.

Sita DeviFrom verses like these from the Ramayana, one’s appreciation for Sita can grow exponentially. In addition, the person who saw this scene and then bravely continued on can also become dear to the heart. And through harboring affection for Sita and Hanuman, the favor of Shri Rama, the Supreme Lord, is won over as well. He is the grand coordinator, so He manipulates events in such a way that His devotees are honored more than He is. The chief will always hear the most complaints, as a disgruntled subordinate knows to take their grievances to the highest authority figure. God is atmarama, or self-satisfied, so no criticism can do Him harm, but the same complaining leveled against the sincerest servants is more troubling. Thus we see that Rama’s dearest companions have spotless reputations, and through approaching them one can learn how to please God.

Though separated from her flock and surrounded by rabid hounds, Sita did not stop thinking of her husband. Hanuman too, after the entire affair was over and Sita eventually rescued by Rama, never stopped thinking of the beloved couple. Thus to think of God is the simplest and most effective way to stay in the good graces of the people that matter. Defiance of God’s will, forgetfulness of His extraordinary features, and competition to try to best Him all lead to doom, whereas pleasant thoughts directed at Him in full affection lead to happiness in the immediate aftermath as well as the future. Through the mind, the Supreme Lord’s association can come instantly, and with that connection one can stay peacefully situated even in physical separation.

In Closing:

In Ashoka grove Rama’s wife incarcerated,

In loneliness, from dear husband separated.


Hanuman could see she looked like a deer,

Separated from herd now living in fear.


Surrounded by Rakshasis she was found,

Those vile creatures resembling hounds.


She kept thinking of Rama through it all,

Mark of devotion, steady in rise or fall.


Thus Sita’s glories continue to grow,

For her devotion, we continue to love her so.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Surprise Praise

Krishna's lotus feet“Engage your mind always in thinking of Me, offer obeisances and worship Me. Being completely absorbed in Me, surely you will come to Me.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.34)

Let’s say you have a regular group of friends. Whatever it is that you do in your leisure time, you do it with these select few people. Going to the movies, eating out at a restaurant, attending a festival, watching television - nothing is done alone. Your friends are there with you, and for better or worse, you’re stuck with them. These are the people you are loyal to. Now within this group, there is a certain dynamic, a rapport established. In a one-on-one conversation, the two parties are forced to engage in some kind of meaningful dialogue, but with groups of three or more, the conversations are a little different. Perhaps there is constant joke-making or maybe there are quick discussions on many topics.

For this hypothetical scenario, let’s say that one person in the group isn’t particularly nice to you. Deep down, you know they don’t dislike you, but the nature of their behavior towards you is unkindness, wherein they constantly make fun of you. Despite the fact that you know this is how they talk with you, if, for some reason or another, they should one day say something nice to you, something genuinely appreciative of your attributes or your contribution to a particular area, will it not make you feel good? Who doesn’t like to hear kind words coming their way? Surely there might be embarrassment, but praise from someone who otherwise constantly makes fun of you is more noteworthy. It is remembered and appreciated that much more.

If this tendency exists in you, why shouldn’t it also be present in the origin of creation? Just as we have intelligence, the creator has a functioning mind that thinks of things and then does them. As He is the most powerful, simply by His thinking major changes can happen. By a single exhalation, this and many other universes are created, and through an inhalation, everything returns to Him, sort of like the largest boomerang we can think of.

“The origin of the material creation is Maha-Vishnu, who lies in the Causal Ocean. While He sleeps in that ocean, millions of universes are generated as He exhales, and they are all annihilated when He inhales.”  (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 6.16.37 Purport)

vishnuEvery tendency we see both in ourselves and in others originates from Him. Laughing, crying, stealing, cheating, telling the truth, lifting heavy objects, doing complex mathematics equations - whatever we can think of is rooted in this supreme person. The difference with Him, of course, is that these tendencies can’t harm Him. The original person’s stealing is as good as His rescuing. His smiling is as good as His chastising.

We have documented examples of how this works. In the Bhagavad-gita, a famous text of the Vedic tradition, the origin of matter and spirit mildly rebukes a warrior for growing hesitant prior to battle. Not wanting to fight due to misplaced affection over the fortunes of friends and family members fighting for the opposing side, Arjuna came up with all sorts of excuses to justify his behavior. He used whatever knowledge he had to convince himself that fighting was indeed the wrong course of action, that it was his duty to sit down and give up.

“The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: My dear Arjuna, how have these impurities come upon you? They are not at all befitting a man who knows the value of life. They lead not to higher planets but to infamy.”  (Bhagavad-gita, 2.2)

Luckily for Arjuna, the most knowledgeable person was his chariot driver. Shri Krishna stepped in and corrected Arjuna, showing some unkindness in the beginning. When this criticism comes from a loving teacher, it is only beneficial. You don’t want your student to think that their faulty logic is correct in any way. But Krishna’s kindness continued with an exposition on the differences between matter and spirit, and how every person has a duty to fulfill based on their inherent qualities. Krishna explained that Arjuna’s duty in dharma was to fight, but He still presented the same case using every other type of logic. Whether Arjuna thought that the individual takes birth and dies within the life cycle of the body or whether he believed in the eternality of the soul, the right option was still to fight ahead.

The same Krishna would give smiling glances to His dearmost devotees in Vrindavana. To them He would speak kind words. Since He played the part of a dependent to mother Yashoda and Maharaja Nanda, Krishna refrained from offering instruction. Instead, He just played like a loving child, accepting the affection of His parents and well-wishers. Thus in both cases, whether running around as a happy son or rebuking His cousin for the faulty logic invoked to shirk his duties, Krishna’s behavior was beneficial to the parties involved.

Lord KrishnaAs we are all His sons and daughters, there is an inherent link to Him. Though the chosen mood of interaction can vary, there is no doubt that a strong friendship exists. We may not know that God exists or that He is a personality, but this doesn’t eliminate us from candidacy for friendship. Shri Krishna is the best friend in this regard, as willful defiance of His wishes and intentional ignorance on the issue of His existence do not offend Him in any way.

Just as the friend that usually makes fun of us can brighten our day with a few kind words, just imagine the pleasure the Supreme Lord feels when He hears words of praise. Of course there is a psychological component to the joke-making from the person in our group. Rather than deal with mushiness, rather than feel embarrassed by acting too nicely to someone else, it is easier for them to hide behind humor, to use humor as a defense mechanism to keep others at a distance.

In the relationship with Krishna, there is no need for such walls. The relationship is deeply personal after all, so the praise offered His way doesn’t need to be broadcast to others. Simply chanting, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”, in the proper mood can put a smile on Krishna’s face. Actually, just the dedicated effort alone is an indication of affection. If we feel so inclined, we can speak out our thoughts or record them in books, songs and poems. These are already nice outlets for expressing emotions, so in the realm of spirituality they gain the most receptive audience. Krishna’s ears are all-pervading, so He can hear kindness from any place.

Though in the higher modes of bhakti-yoga, or devotional service, there is no expectation of reciprocation, know for certain that Shri Krishna responds to the kind words of the devotees. An indication of His return of affection is the continued ability to offer that praise. With our friends and family we may feel embarrassed to say nice things, but with God not only can the guard be let down easier, but the praise can continue to be offered, day after day, month after month. The saints who distribute the message of divine love and teach others how to connect with the storehouse of virtues pray along these lines, to have only one thing in life after life: devotion to God.

“O almighty Lord, I have no desire to accumulate wealth, nor do I desire beautiful women, nor do I want any number of followers. I only want Your causeless devotional service, birth after birth.”  (Lord Chaitanya, Chaitanya Charitamrita, Antya 20.29)

Lord Chaitanya worshipingLord Chaitanya was Krishna Himself appearing on earth to distribute the message of bhakti-yoga to as many people as possible. In a state of pure humility, He asked to only have devotion to Krishna in birth after birth, not concerning Himself with beauty, wealth, or good education . This means that nothing can check devotional service. Not a low birth, a troubling circumstance, a lack of beauty, nor loneliness.

Know that the concept of an existence comes from Krishna, so from there we have a point of glorification. One needn’t be highly learned in this area, as just a simple “thanks” for having friends, family and food on the table serves as a point of entry into the relationship with God. Chanting His names and giving service to man by teaching Him to revive the same connection brings pleasure to the divine master, ensuring that there are endless future opportunities for service. The pleasure He feels through kindness offered His way gives pleasure to the glorifier as well, making for a wonderful friendship that never has to break.

In Closing:

With your friends engage in play,

Sometimes jokes to them you’ll say.


One friend in particular may be mean,

Never from them a kind word is seen.


Yet if suddenly nice by surprise,

Feel happiness of immense size.


Know that God for too long you’ve forgotten,

Thus now stuck in material misery so rotten.


But just one kind offering that will change,

To Supreme Lord never is love strange.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Painting the Picture

Lord Rama“…A broad chest, shoulders like a bull, mighty arms, wearing yellow clothes, a sacred thread, and a pearl necklace…” (Janaki Mangala, 53)

ura bisāla bṛṣa kaṃdha subhaga bhuja atibala |
pīta basana upabīta kaṃṭha mukutā phala ||

Goswami Tulsidas previously mentioned just how enamored everyone in the assembly was over the two youths brought in by the exalted Vishvamitra Muni. They couldn’t believe what they were seeing, and Janaka himself started to doubt whether his decision was correct. Was there really a need for a contest anymore? Previously the king believed that his daughter was so beautiful and virtuous that no man existed in the world who was deserving of her companionship for life. Though it was standard for a daughter to take on the role of a supporting wife in marriage, in this situation the pressure was put on the male to give protection.

A beautiful woman will garner much attention from males, as the urge for sex is especially strong in men. A human being has potency, and within the male it manifests through sex life, the ability to create another living being. To this end, the natural relationship with the opposite sex is sought out. Biologically, the woman tends to have different priorities and can have interactions with a man and not be tempted towards conjugal relations. If you put a beautiful woman into a room with many men, even if the men are in committed relationships, they will give the beautiful woman much attention. There is typically a purpose as well: to increase the closeness of the ensuing relationship. In the reverse situation, the man can turn into a friend or confidante of the group of women. Plus, being naturally stronger, the male has a better ability to fend off the advances than a woman does.

Janaka knew that his daughter’s beauty was extraordinary. She was an ideal daughter for the king, who was known throughout the world for his piety. He held a strong affection for her, but this did not preclude him from following protocol. When Sita reached an appropriate age, the king knew he had to arrange for her marriage, to find someone to protect her for the rest of her life. Janaka decided that a proper match couldn’t be made in the traditional way, so he decided to instead hold a contest.

For a pious king, your word is everything. Janaka made a vow to give Sita away to whoever could lift an extremely heavy bow originally coming from Lord Shiva, the god of the mode of ignorance. Every behavior we see can fall into one of three modes: goodness, passion, or ignorance. In the short description goodness leads to higher knowledge, passion to a neutral state, and ignorance to degradation. As the aim of the evolutionary process of reincarnation is to move upwards, towards a perfect consciousness, people who fall into the different modes are given religious rituals and regulations, which have an accompanying worshipable deity. The mode of ignorance lacks high knowledge of the self and also a temporary reward of fruitive activity that has some benefits. Ignorance doesn’t lead to anything tangible, so one shouldn’t desire to stay in that mode for too long.

“There are eleven Rudras, of whom Shankara, Lord Shiva, is predominant. He is the incarnation of the Supreme Lord in charge of the modes of ignorance in the universe.”  (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 10.23 Purport)

Lord ShivaLord Shiva, as a divine and worshipable personality, is not in the mode of ignorance, but he is assigned the status of worshipable figure for those in this mode. He grants benedictions to those who worship him properly, though he has no interest in such gifts. He lives like a recluse, with the holy name on his tongue serving as his wealth. He constantly recites the name of Rama to feel pleasure, and when he’s not chanting, he’s describing the glories of the Lord to his wife Parvati, the mother of the universe.

Lord Shiva also takes pleasure in glorifying God’s many incarnations and expansions, like Lord Vishnu and Lord Krishna. In the Padma Purana, Mahadeva glorifies the twelfth chapter of the Bhagavad-gita in a discussion with Parvati. The Bhagavad-gita is a famous work describing a conversation between Lord Krishna and his friend Arjuna that took place on a battlefield some five thousand years ago. The work was subsequently divided into chapters based on the subject matter, and the twelfth chapter is considered the best one by Mahadeva, as it expounds on devotional service, which is a discipline above the three modes of nature.

As Lord Shiva’s intent is to stay in pure goodness and constantly connect with the Supreme Personality of Godhead, things directly relating to him are auspicious. His bow thus represented him in Janaka’s kingdom, and it served as a nice way to determine the suitable husband for Sita, the king’s daughter. But then Vishvamitra Muni came to town unexpectedly, with two handsome youths as his escorts. Word spread throughout the world about the bow-lifting contest, but Vishvamitra lived in the forest, and he didn’t have any sons that were candidates.

Rama and Lakshmana were sons of King Dasharatha of Ayodhya, and they were both unmarried. At the time they were in the forest with Vishvamitra defending against attacks from night-rangers. The brothers appeared in Janaka’s kingdom seemingly by chance, though the arrangement was made by higher authorities. Rama was the same worshipable figure of Mahadeva, and the same Krishna who would later deliver the Bhagavad-gita to Arjuna. Lakshmana was Rama’s younger brother to the eyes of the world, but in spirit he was the Lord’s number one protector and friend.

Lord Rama and LakshmanaBecause of their divine qualities, Rama and Lakshmana garnered much attention when they entered, though they weren’t explicitly looking for it. They did not arrive like the other guests, who brought their royal clans with them. Think of an official state dinner hosted by the President of the United States. Now imagine that the dinner is in honor of every world leader. This sort of gives an idea of what was occurring in Janaka’s kingdom on this day.

Now, here came two boys who were not opulently dressed, as they were living in the forest. Yet they were so naturally beautiful that people couldn’t believe what they were seeing. Being God Himself, Rama especially garnered attention, though Lakshmana was practically a mirror image of Him, with the slight difference being that Rama was dark in complexion while Lakshmana was fair.

When Janaka saw the two boys, he thought that perhaps the impersonal Brahman he had previously worshiped had taken the form of two youths. He then heard about the boys’ ancestry and how they had protected the sage against the enemies of the demigods. In this way Rama, who was elder and thus eligible for participating in the contest, was the perfect match for Sita. He belonged to as famous a dynasty as you could get, the Ikshvakus, and He had such tremendous strength at a young age that He fought off the vilest creatures in the world.

Ah, but there was one slight problem. The king swore to give Sita away to whoever could lift Mahadeva’s bow. He couldn’t now go back on his word. Janaka held it together and decided to show the trio around the grounds, giving them thrones to sit on to watch the festivities. The above referenced verse describes how Rama looked while seated on that throne, when everyone else was looking at Him.

Previously we were told of the reaction others had, and in this verse we get an idea of what caused that reaction. Rama had a broad chest, shoulders like a bull, and mighty arms. These three features indicate strength, which is required in a fighter. Violence and force are only harmful when used improperly. When in line with religious principles, they help to protect the innocent, thereby creating peace when it is otherwise threatened. Rama was of the royal order, which held many responsibilities, with fighting enemies included among them.

Lord RamaRama wore yellow clothes, as is standard for Lord Vishnu. The Vedas describe the Supreme Absolute Truth as having no form and a form. The formless aspect is a sort of energy that pervades space. Every living being has a spark of the spiritual force within them, though we can’t see it. The results validate the fact that there is something amazing within each of us. As that force pervades all of space, it can be thought of to be a singular collection. The individual spirit is Brahman, and the Supreme Spirit is Parabrahman, though we can’t necessarily see either one.

The formed aspect is the original, and something can only be without form if something with form exists. That spiritual form is inconceivable in its brilliance, especially to eyes that can be tricked into mistaking a rope for a snake. The spiritual forms of the Supreme Lord are many, with Lord Vishnu being one of them. Sometimes Rama is considered an incarnation of Vishnu, while other times He is described as the original Lord. In the Narasimha Purana, the half-man/half-lion incarnation of Vishnu is described to be the original personality, but there is no contradiction. Vishnu, Krishna, Rama, Narasimha and the other avataras are equally the original Lord, whose personal expansions are non-different from Him. In all of these forms, the Supreme Lord wears yellow garments.

“Lord Narasimhadeva is here, and He is also there on the opposite side. Wherever I go, there I see Lord Narasimhadeva. He is outside and within my heart. Therefore I take shelter of Lord Narasimhadeva, the original Supreme Personality of Godhead.”  (Narasimha Purana)

Rama wore a sacred thread across His body. The brahmanas, the priestly class, are known as dvija, or twice-born. The first birth is from the parents and the second takes place during initiation with a spiritual master. Initiation marks the beginning of accepting the sublime instruction of Vedic teachings, and for the brahmanas the instruction applies to the mode of goodness, which leads to the highest knowledge. Formerly, the kshatriyas and vaishyas would also receive sacred threads, and they took instruction from brahmanas as well. Since their occupational duties involved fighting and trade, the instruction they received was slightly different. Nevertheless, the sacred thread marked the sign of a second birth for the eldest son of King Dasharatha, thus showing that He was cultured and not living like an animal. The ability to practice religious principles is what separates the human beings from the less intelligent animals.

Rounding out the sweet vision were the pearls worn around Rama’s neck. That mental picture is nicely painted by the poet in this verse, and regularly keeping that vision in the mind can only do good things for one’s mood. The people in Ayodhya couldn’t keep their eyes off of Rama, and they would receive the fruit of their existence when He would lift Lord Shiva’s bow and wed Sita.

In Closing:

Broad was His chest,

With necklace of pearls the best.


Having shoulders like a bull,

Arms with might were full.


And around body a sacred thread,

To this vision peering eyes led.


Hopefully this youth to win contest,

Lift Shiva’s bow, pass strength test.


Verse of Janaki Mangala this image paints,

Authored by Goswami Tulsidas the saint.

Sunday, July 15, 2012


Krishna with Yashoda“Without disturbing the ecstasy of His mother's affection, Krishna opened His mouth and displayed His own natural opulences.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 10.8.36 Purport)

Why not give up the ruse and tell Your mother who You really are? Why carry on with the charade any longer? Wouldn’t she be happy knowing that You are the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the singular entity from whom this and numerous other creations have sprung? Wouldn’t she love knowing that she daily tends to the needs of the person who is served by countless goddesses of fortune in the spiritual sky? Wouldn’t she run to tell her husband Nanda that their darling little boy is the person who has granted them favor in times of trouble, the very same Narayana that they always pray to?

To better understand, let’s reverse the situation. Let’s say that your child brings something to you that they produced. It is something childish, like maybe a drawing they made in school. Since they are quite young, they aren’t very skilled in arts and crafts. They have trouble cutting paper in a straight line, let alone accurately depicting real life-scenes with their crayons. Yet they come up to you on this particular day with a drawing they made in school. They present it to you as a gift, noting that they made the drawing especially for you. They dedicate their hard work for your pleasure. It is a difficult task for them because they don’t know how to draw.

What should your reaction be? Should you tell them, “Oh my dear child, you should know that this drawing isn’t very good. I can hardly make out what it is. You have not drawn the items to proper scale, nor have you used enough colors. Your drawing is essentially a waste of time to me because I can draw much better than this. Moreover, I could take a picture of the scene with my digital camera and thus have a much more accurate rendering. If I need a painting , I could hire a real artist who is a professional in the field. Therefore you should cease from making such drawings in the future.”

Obviously such an attitude would be considered harsh and also unwise for many reasons. The sentiment is what counts and not necessarily the ability. The child is young after all, so through applying enough determination, which is best strengthened through enthusiasm, they may develop into a fine artist. In addition, you, as the superior figure, have a duty to uphold high standards of conduct. You know that you were once a child and that if you were in the same situation, you would be bitterly disappointed if an elder crushed your spirit of devotion towards your parents. You now have a responsibility as a loving parent to understand your child’s needs and guide them in the proper direction.

Lord KrishnaIn a similar manner, the Supreme Lord, Shri Krishna, is everyone’s parent. Though He appeared in Vrindavana some five thousand years ago as an innocent and helpless young boy, He still maintained His supreme standing. The body is like a holding cell for the individual spirit soul. Spirit is immutable, unchangeable, and non-decaying. It is bursting with potential for great things, but depending on the type of covering assumed, abilities can be masked. Think of it like putting a shade on a lamp or a brace on a particular joint. The shade covers the intense illumination of the lamp and the brace keeps the particular joint from moving in the complete range of motion. Both coverings have a purpose to fulfill, but they naturally have an inhibiting effect.

The material body, which is composed of the gross elements of earth, water, fire, air and ether, along with the subtle elements of mind, intelligence and false ego, has varying degrees of limitation. In the lower animal species, the sparkling qualities of the spirit soul are masked much more so than they are in the human species. We see that cats and dogs also eat, sleep, mate and defend, but they cannot think rationally. They cannot communicate effectively either. Therefore it is to be understood that their coverings are of a different mode of nature, whereas the human being’s covering is in the higher modes, which allow for the spirit soul to have a freer range of motion.

As Shri Krishna is the origin of matter and spirit, no form that He accepts has any debilitating influence. In addition, His different spiritual body parts can carry out any function. He can see with His ears and hear with His eyes, for example. He can lift tall mountains while in the body of a small boy, and He can accept an endless amount of food offered to His incarnation as the archa-vigraha, or deity. Thus in Vrindavana as Yashoda’s son, Krishna was the same Supreme Lord, though He didn’t always reveal His opulences.

Why not tell His parents that He was God? Well, what good would that have done? The mother loved Him so much that she couldn’t stop thinking about Him. That sentiment indicates the height of existence. The human form allows for that end to be achieved, thus the Vedas consider the human to be the most auspicious species. A human birth is not something to be taken lightly, as we know from the ability to read and hear that we can expand our knowledge. If that hearing is directed towards the transcendental sound vibrations coming down from Krishna Himself, then the highest state of consciousness achieved by mother Yashoda can be reached.

Lord KrishnaHer love for Krishna was in the transcendental mood of vatsalya, which is parental affection. This mood is higher than awe and reverence, which is the mood that exists when we only know of God as an immensely powerful figure. If Krishna were to tell everyone that He was the Almighty Lord, the devotees in Vrindavana could not reach the higher devotional mellows. The more advanced rasas equate to more pleasure, so by revealing His true identity Krishna would actually decrease the pleasure of the residents of Vrindavana.

The incident where Krishna purportedly ate dirt nicely illustrates why the Lord maintains the mood of devotional affection chosen by the sincere devotee. One day Krishna’s friends and brother Balarama approached mother Yashoda to complain that Krishna had eaten dirt while playing in the field. Though this can be a serious error committed by a child, it is not something out of the ordinary. It is the parent’s duty to make sure that their children don’t eat things that they shouldn’t. There is an added emphasis to make sure that non-food items don’t get placed into the mouth.

Krishna is God, so eating dirt is not that big a deal for Him. But to the mother, the accusation was very serious. She was worried enough about her child already. Before He would go out to play every day, she would chant various mantras for His protection. She would pray to Lord Narasimhadeva to keep her son safe while He roamed the forests barefoot, taking the young calves with Him. This is ironic because Krishna is the very same Narasimhadeva, who appeared on the scene many ages prior to protect the five-year old devotee named Prahlada from the attacks of his wicked father Hiranyakashipu. Ever since that time it has been the tradition for parents in Vedic culture to daily recite mantras in honor of Narasimhadeva to protect their children.

Yashoda approached Krishna about the accusation, and if Krishna had said that He was God and that it didn’t matter if He ate something that He created, would that have been to Yashoda’s benefit? She was in the mood of vatsalya-rasa, so would the receiver in this case reject the kind offerings of love? Her affection would do no harm to anyone. If anything, it would increase her attachment to Him more. Thus Krishna responded by saying that His friends were lying. If she wanted proof, she could look in His mouth. This, of course, was a playful trap to lure Yashoda into seeing the cosmic manifestation, the opulence owned by her beloved son. In this way she could see a beautiful and unique vision given by God and still maintain her parental affection.

The worthwhile target of a devotional consciousness is reached by the fortunate human being when they regularly chant the holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”. Know that whatever is learned about God only scratches the surface of His true potencies. The subordinate living entities can never be all-knowing, but they can be all-loving when they head towards the transcendental realm. In that sacred place, the proprietor takes charge in maintaining conditions auspicious for divine love to flourish.

In Closing:

To say that He’s God, what would that do?

That He is powerful, owner of everything too?


Yashoda in love of her son did live,

Undivided attention to Him would give.


Like when His friends an accusation did make,

That Krishna in His mouth dirt did take.


Yashoda loved in the mood of a parent caring,

Everyday dangers with her son bearing.


But this incident to a higher state to lead,

Krishna’s play devotional hunger to feed.