Saturday, December 15, 2012

Made For Each Other

Sita and Rama“An equal match in character, age, and conduct, as well as equal in family and characteristics, Rama is deserving of Vaidehi. And this dark-eyed lady is deserving of Him.” (Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 16.5)

tulya śīla vayo vṛttām tulya abhijana lakṣaṇām |
rāghavo arhati vaidehīm tam ca iyam asita īkṣaṇā ||

“This Rama just got lucky breaking that bow. He is really not worthy of Sita’s hand in marriage. The princess of Videha should be with a more worthy prince, someone more capable of imposing his will on others. Rama appeared on the scene with His younger brother Lakshmana and the sage Vishvamitra. He was so youthful at the time that no one would have thought He could lift the amazingly heavy bow of Lord Shiva that lay in the middle of the arena. Perhaps Rama used some mysticism to get the bow to become light, thereby cheating His way to victory. Regardless, Sita should be with someone besides Him.”

In spite of the evidence available right in front of their eyes, the miscreant will deny the supremacy of the Supreme Lord. It’s understandable for atheism to run rampant when the presence of the original Personality of Godhead is seemingly absent from society, but even in times when there is an avatara, a personal incarnation, roaming the land, those who have lost all intelligence will still say that there is no God, that they are supreme. In the above quoted verse from the Ramayana, Hanuman further removes any doubts as to the nature of the Supreme Lord and His wife. They are a perfect fit for each other, something proven by their character as well as their behavior.

Ravana, the King of Lanka during the time in question, had the atheist mentality; he was a nonbeliever who didn’t think that Rama was anything special. In fact, after Rama, the eldest son of Maharaja Dasharatha, married Sita by winning the contest in Janaka’s kingdom, He spent fourteen years in the forest as a recluse. To Ravana this was unthinkable. Why would a powerful prince give up the throne that was rightfully His? Why would He live like a pauper, especially when He had such a beautiful wife? Ravana mistook Rama’s renunciation for weakness, and for this he would have to pay dearly.

Ravana pulled off an abduction plot that brought Sita back to Lanka. And to show just how far-reaching the Supreme Lord’s influence is, Rama did not directly go to Lanka right away. Instead, Hanuman was sent to look for Sita, to act as the Lord’s messenger. He was not tasked with bringing her back to Rama, either. He was only to find her location and then report back to headquarters, which was situated in the forest of Kishkindha.

Hanuman was the right messenger because he knew Rama very well. This knowledge didn’t come from studying a book or hearing others give lectures. Instead, Hanuman had personal interaction with Rama, albeit for not a very long time. A single moment’s contact in the proper mood can reveal enough knowledge to carry out the Lord’s interests. Hanuman impressed Rama during their first meeting, and likewise Hanuman knew right away that devotion to Rama would be his life’s mission.

“O sinless one, certainly, how can any king accomplish his objectives if he doesn't have such a messenger working for him?” (Lord Rama speaking to Lakshmana about Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Kishkindha Kand, 3.34)

Shri HanumanFinally spotting a person who appeared to be Sita in the Ashoka grove in Lanka, Hanuman assessed her. He says that the match in character, age and conduct made Rama deserving of her. Sita’s character was top-notch. She was chaste, pious, and respectful of her elders. She would not give Rama any trouble in marriage. She would not bother Him or veer Him off of the righteous path with her personal desires. Instead, she would do whatever it took to keep Rama happy. She was so perfect in her role that Rama felt like He couldn’t repay her service to Him.

In marriages of the Vedic tradition the groom is usually several years older than the bride, as this will increase the likelihood of begetting male children. It is believed that if the female is stronger than the male, their union will lead to female children. For the princes in the Ikshvaku line it was especially important to have male children, as this would carry on the family line and business, that of protecting the citizens of Ayodhya.

The male is the enjoyer and the female the enjoyed; this is the natural order. In a marriage, the wife’s conduct should please the husband, and with Sita as a wife Rama saw the best conduct. She renounced her ties to family and home at the time of Rama’s exile, and she followed Him in the forest observing the vow of brahmacharya, or celibacy. She never purposefully did anything to give trouble to Rama, and yet she was not a stone lacking personality. In every way she was a perfect match for Him.

Her family ancestry and characteristics were also a match. Rama was from the Ikshvaku family and Sita the family of King Janaka of Mithila. Though her husband was determined by whoever could lift a bow, Rama’s family ancestry made Him the ideal match anyway. Sita’s bodily features were auspicious, as were Rama’s, providing yet another reason why they were fit for each other.

Sita is worthy of Rama and Rama of Sita. We get further evidence of this fact from their number one servant: Hanuman. He has a flawless character. He is a high scholar and a devoted warrior. He is fearless in his execution of devotional service. Because he says that Sita and Rama are a perfect match we can take it as fact. And since he says they are the Supreme Lord and His wife respectively, we can understand that devotion to them is the highest occupation in life, something easily practiced through the chanting of the holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”.

In Closing:

Even if to His direct company they go,

Miscreants never God’s standing to know.


That He is weak and stupid they’ll think,

In this way to depths of hell they’ll sink.


A match for Sita Shri Rama was ideal,

This from vision of her Hanuman could feel.


Her features to Rama did all correspond,

Finally success in journey which took so long.


Hanuman also a match for Rama and His wife,

Appreciate his devotion to make fruitful your life.

Friday, December 14, 2012

A Frog’s Umbrella

Krishna lifting up Govardhana Hill“Children play with an umbrella generally known as a frog's umbrella, and Lord Krishna, when He was only seven years old, could snatch the great hill known as the Govardhana Parvata at Vrindavana and hold it for seven days continuously with one hand, just to protect the animals and the inhabitants of Vrindavana from the wrath of Indra, the heavenly King, who had been denied sacrificial offerings by the inhabitants of Vrajabhumi.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 2.7.32 Purport)

Like child’s play, Krishna made an umbrella out of a hill. Not a mockup of a hill that He created in art class. Not a collection of mud that He held in His hand and then put over His head. This was a giant hill whose circumference spanned many miles. If you don’t want to believe it, you can visit the same hill today and see how long it takes to circumambulate it. Krishna made the hill an umbrella to protect the residents of Vrajabhumi, and since it was a remarkable feat, it is still remembered to this day.

Does this mean that through a little magic someone can get others to worship them? For instance, if I can somehow disappear from a room, hold my breath for a long time, or predict future events, others will worship me as God? In fact, such faux gods already exist, and they don’t even have to show magic. They simply show extraordinary ability in a certain field, though their ability is limited. A politician garners favor from their supporters when they can skillfully maneuver out of a difficult situation using word jugglery. If they can successfully win office, defeating their opponents, they are hailed as a great politician, a skillful leader.

The athlete who can perform better than others on the grandest stage is celebrated as the greatest of all time. The scientist who can develop new technology is honored for their contribution to mankind. There is worship in these instances, as the mind is dedicated to someone else. Thoughts, words and deeds are sacrificed in honor of someone else, thus constituting worship. If you were to ask such fans if they are worshiping God, they would look at you as if you were crazy. “What does God have to do with this? I’m simply admiring a notable figure within society.”

If worship already follows exhibitions of extraordinary strength and ability, what need would Krishna have to join the mix? If He is indeed God, He would have to be above cheap adoration based in temporary achievement. The lifting of Govardhana Hill shows real strength. It looks like magic to us because we can’t imagine a young child of seven years even moving a hill, let alone holding it up above His head for seven days. But the apparent miracles performed by Krishna show us what God’s nature is and how worshiping Him is the only worthwhile activity.

Is worship of other figures not good? If I don’t call it worship, if I call it mere attention, why is that wrong? What is the harm in celebrating an athlete? What is the loss if I celebrate the achievements of a politician?

We know that these figures are not God and that their abilities are temporary. The athlete will eventually have to give way to the influence of time. They won’t always be at the top of their sport. The politician manipulates the system to get what they want. They take advantage of the circumstances. They can’t win every election, and their victories are dependent on the will of the majority of the people. If not for the people, they would not reach their position of prominence.

Krishna lifting Govardhana HillKrishna’s abilities never diminish. In the Vedas He is described as Bhagavan. This is a Sanskrit word that means one who possesses all fortunes. He has full knowledge, full beauty, full wealth, full fame, and full renunciation. When He lifted Govardhana Hill to protect the residents of Vrajabhumi, He exhibited His full strength. This wasn’t a strong man competition, either. No one expected Him to lift the hill. He did so to protect the residents, who were being attacked because they neglected to worship someone else only one time.

It was the tradition in Vrindavana to worship Lord Indra, who is the king of the heavenly realm. With that post he has many responsibilities. He provides the rain, and to a farm community like Vrindavana, rain is very important. Every year they would have a grand worship of Indra, but one year Krishna persuaded His father, the leader of the community, to skip the worship. Krishna said that Govardhana Hill should be worshiped instead, as it provided the grass to the sacred cows of the community. The cows brought cash to the community in the form of milk products, and all the cows asked in return was love in the form of protection.

Since Indra is not the Supreme Lord, he is fallible. Though he is an authorized object of worship, the relationship between him and his worshipers is akin to business partners or a store and its customers. The customers can choose to take their business elsewhere, and if they find something better they are not worse off. The business owner, however, covets the customers, and if they lose enough customers they go out of business. Indra was so enraged that the customers, the residents of Vrindavana, skipped his worship just one time, despite having been faithful for many years prior, that he retaliated by instigating a torrential rainstorm, which caused immediate flooding.

Krishna knew that the storm was Indra’s work, so to save the residents He lifted the massive Govardhana Hill. He used the lifted hill as an umbrella for shelter for the residents. From this famous incident we see that only with worship of the real Supreme Lord is there full protection. All other living entities are fallible, in spite of how opulent they may be in the present. They are not capable of accepting an endless amount of worship and neither are they purely in it for the devotee’s interest.

Gov_puja_kicsiKrishna has everything, so He does not require anyone’s worship. He kindly accepts loving devotion because that is the individual soul’s constitutional position. The first Govardhana Puja took place at His direction, and Krishna declared that worship of Govardhana is as good as worship of Him. The holy name is also non-different from the Lord, and so the same worship can take place by regularly chanting, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”. The young child of Nanda Maharaja, Shri Girivaradhari, the lifter of mountains, who kindly descended from the spiritual realm to take part in delightful pastimes, made a massive hill look like a frog’s umbrella, and similarly for His devotee He can shrink the large ocean of material existence into the size of a hoof print left by a calf.

In Closing:

Frog umbrella child to protect,

A larger one Krishna in His hand set.


Out of a hill this one was made,

Comfortably on His finger it stayed.


An ordinary trickster He is not,

Undiminishing abilities He has got.


That He is the only God from this understand,

Same as Him is Govardhana held in His hand.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Preparing Tradition

Vyasadeva“This transcendental literature is especially prepared by Shrila Vyasadeva to give the utmost satisfaction to the people in general by narration of the activities of the Lord, as instructed by Shri Narada Muni to Shrila Vyasadeva.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 2.6.46 Purport)

So much literature is produced on a regular basis. You would think that with so much information available for consumption, no one would ever be sad. How could there be time for lamentation when you have something new to read? In the advanced technological age, you don’t have to travel to the newsstand or bookstore to satisfy your craving for information. You can go online and get endless amounts of reading material. But does this provide satisfaction? If the material were so great, then no one would repeatedly look for new information. Since the search continues, there is a defect in the message itself. One author, however, tapped into the happenings of a person who is timeless. Therefore the descriptions of those actions are also timeless, allowing us to park our inquisitiveness in one place, in the process satisfying our desire for information while also purifying our consciousness.

If a movie is popular, the fans will watch it over and over again. Perhaps when it first comes out they will go to the theaters to see it a few times, and thereafter the viewing turns into a regular occurrence, like perhaps an annual viewing. The same can be said of television shows. Just because you finish one season of a show doesn’t mean that you will never watch it again. Let some time pass and you’ll surely want to relive the moments that made you laugh, cry, smile, etc.

The pastimes of the Supreme Lord are timeless. They can be heard about in any age, in any time period, and by any person, and bring satisfaction. Moreover, if the underlying culture is created, then those pastimes will bring more pleasure each time they are heard. This should make sense if we think about it. The Supreme Lord takes pleasure in love, as does everyone else. As He is not bound to the cycle of birth and death, and thus not beholden to the forces of nature, His love is transcendental. It is affection, but of a different kind.

One who develops that same love through practice of bhakti-yoga, or devotional service, appreciates God’s love even more. The first time you hear that Shri Krishna stole butter from the homes of the neighbors in Vrindavana, you might chuckle at the prank. “That sounds pretty funny. A young child going in and taking stuff without people seeing Him; And then when He gets blamed, He pretends like He didn’t do anything? Great stuff.”

Krishna stealing butterThen, as you practice chanting, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”, you might look at the same incident with a different perspective. “Oh, that is just like Krishna. He is so beautiful that He loves to give others a glimpse of His true self. Moreover, His stealing of butter shows just how kind He is. He is not mean at all. In fact, it is we who are mean to Him, forgetting our eternal relationship to Him. That relationship is a loving one, and since we are the same as God in quality but vastly inferior in quantitative output, we should always serve Him. But we are reluctant to do so.”

If your practice of bhakti-yoga advances even further, you will have yet another perspective of the same incidents. “This is Krishna at His best. He knows that mother Yashoda loves God in the mood of vatsalya, or parental affection. The butter also belongs to Him, as He creates this and innumerable other universes through a simple exhalation as Narayana. Then Narayana, who is non-different from Krishna, inhales to bring everything back into Him. Why shouldn’t Krishna steal butter then? He comes to this earth to delight the purest devotees with His pastimes, because they love to love Him. The pleasure they feel from that love is so great that they don’t really like to do anything else. Material existence is not an option for them, and since they are helpless in that way, Krishna makes sure they are always safely immersed in divine love.”

If devotional service is so wonderful, it would stand to reason that devotees would appreciate the person or people responsible for creating, maintaining, and passing down devotional information, which would include the accounts of Krishna’s pastimes. Krishna is God. He is the same figure worshiped in other spiritual traditions. There is only one God, but according to time and circumstance, the details of His features are not always readily available. Try telling someone who doesn’t even believe in God that there is a person who is full of the attributes of beauty, wealth, strength, fame, knowledge, renunciation and wisdom. They might not follow you. They might also not believe that God can be a person, as to ere is human. A human being is a person, and since a human being is fallible, a person is considered flawed as well. If God is a person, then He must be fallible.

VyasadevaThis logic seems plausible enough, but through following bhakti-yoga under the guidelines of an authority figure, namely someone who practices it themselves, these issues and more are cleared up. The Supreme Lord’s ultimate feature is Bhagavan, which can be translated to mean the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He is a person, more than just an impersonal force. He is a person, but not ordinary; He is the supreme person. He is also the fountainhead of all forms of divinity. The personality Krishna is that origin, as explained in the Bhagavad-gita and Shrimad Bhagavatam.

Those two works are among the many given to us by Vyasadeva, who acted at the direction of his spiritual master, Narada Muni. The Bhagavatam is a lengthy work, and the Bhagavad-gita is just one small section in one of the largest books in history, the Mahabharata. In addition, there are many other works by Vyasadeva which give stories about Krishna and His incarnations, which are non-different from Him.

The tendency towards hearing needn’t be renounced. We like to hear about others, so why not hear about God? We’ll get delightful accounts too, not just a bunch of rules and regulations that we must follow or be eternally damned. In attachment to Vyasadeva’s works, the repeated hearing we indulge in purifies our existence.

In Closing:

Of useful information we like to hear,

Towards news sites our attention we steer.


But still to new information we go,

Flaw in original message this shows.


Better if timeless message we can accept,

Something we never have to reject.


Pastimes of the Supreme Lord are fitting,

As place for our ears to be sitting.


Vyasadeva this information liberally gave,

So that from misery humanity to save.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Planning Commissions

BhagavadGita_asitis“Those who are not actually philosophers, scientists, educators, administrators, etc., but who pose themselves as such for material gain, do not accept the plan or path of the Supreme Lord. They have no idea of God; they simply manufacture their own worldly plans and consequently complicate the problems of material existence in their vain attempts to solve them. Because material energy (nature) is so powerful, it can resist the unauthorized plans of the atheists and baffle the knowledge of ‘planning commissions.’” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 7.15 Purport)

“The government should help out the little guy. There are people really struggling out there, and I’d have no problem with my tax dollars being used to help them out. What is the alternative? We should let them starve to death? The same goes for healthcare. Do we want people to die? Are we going to deny them coverage if they don’t have the money to pay for it? This seems cruel and heartless. We should avoid the pain by relying on government action, if possible.”

This opinion seems logical enough, and it will always win majority support against the argument that says government should not take money from one group of citizens for the purpose of giving it to another. The philosophical explanation required for the latter argument also doesn’t play well in the era of the sound bite, where news is consumed through short clips. Also, when using video technology, if you want to get your message across, it is better to appeal to emotion rather than intellect; you will make a better case in illusion than through reality.

A quick review of the common sentiments which call for government intervention to redress societal inequities shows that other issues are missed which actually cause the same pain to the constituents. The call for governments around the world to end poverty is a call to avoid pain, after all. Being poor is not fun, especially if you desire more for yourself. To give someone food is to help them avoid the pain of hunger. To give them medical treatment is to save them from the effects of disease.

But what if the beleaguered party doesn’t accept government handouts? What if they refuse to go to the doctor even if their medical care is paid for? “Oh, well then that’s their fault. If we’re helping them and they refuse that help, they deserve the pain that comes their way.” Really? Is not the pain the same regardless? If one person suffers from hunger because they can’t afford food and another person suffers because they’ve spent the money given to them for food on other things, are they not both in the same situation?

With a government or planning commission, there is only so much that can be done. The pains in life come from many different areas. For instance, the person who drinks alcohol and then drives their car puts their life at risk. They also jeopardize the lives of the innocent drivers on the road who aren’t drunk. Should there be a government administrator in charge of following every citizen around and making sure that they don’t drink and drive? There is also pain in losing in gambling. There is pain from rejection in an amorous relationship. How is any person, whether in government or not, supposed to prevent such pain from occurring? And remember, the pain is the same regardless of the original circumstances. Whether help is available or not, the pain from loss, hunger, despair, dejection, disease, etc. hurts all the same.

The flaw in the recommendations of the planning commissions is rooted in the denial of God’s existence. Accompanying that denial is the ignorance of His features, one of which includes full control over the material energy. Pain is the result of a material existence, and more specifically doing something the wrong way. That which goes against the established guidelines is known as sin, and it is tagged as such specifically for the negative reaction it brings. No matter what one does in a material existence, despite how hard they may try to adjust their lives, there is never perfection; misery will always be the result.

The Supreme Lord controls the material nature, so by surrendering to Him, the pain is transcended. And this devotion also insulates one from the greatest trouble, that of not knowing what to do with one’s life. In the scenarios mentioned above, there is something lacking materially. There is poverty or the inability to pay for medical resources. In the case of the drunkard there is the temporary and illusory escape from the senses which brings damaging results.

“All men are forced to act helplessly according to the impulses born of the modes of material nature; therefore no one can refrain from doing something, not even for a moment.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 3.5)

Lord KrishnaBut what if you got everything you wanted materially? You succeeded in all your ventures, you married the person of your dreams, your family is with you all the time, and you don’t have to work another day in your life if you don’t want to. Ah, but you must work. Otherwise you will go crazy. You need something to do. In bhakti-yoga, that something is available from the time of birth all the way up until the time of death. It is so pleasurable that one doesn’t want to give it up; they want to continue their devotion into the next life. And since the object of their worship is the Supreme Powerful, He makes that desire a reality.

How does this work exactly? Surrender to God means to abandon the hope for perfection in a material existence. Surrender is relinquishing the fight; throwing in the towel. This doesn’t mean that you stop working. On the contrary, you keep working but just change the objective that you’re working for. The people of Vrindavana some five thousand years ago worked very hard during the day and slept soundly at night. And yet they were in complete yoga because they thought of their beloved Krishna all the time.

Krishna is God. He is the detail behind the abstract conception touched upon in the many spiritual traditions of the world. One way He is known is through His control over the material energy. But He is more than just an impersonal administrative force. He is the reservoir of pleasure, and His transcendental body is full of sweetness. Surrender to Him is to think of Him all the time in a mood of love. To love someone is to serve them in such a way that they are pleased. With Krishna, just the desire to be with Him puts a smile on His face, so through something as simple as chanting His names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”, one offers perfect service.

The pain is the same regardless of whether or not the higher authorities and their planning commissions act to redress the perceived ills in society. The rich man and the poor man are both suffering; a fact easily understood through steady practice of bhakti-yoga. The person who is fully immersed in serving Krishna, who never stops thinking about Him, who wishes only to continue in that service, never has to worry over material pains, as these don’t get in the way of their service which brings so much pleasure.

In Closing:

Material nature very difficult to overcome,

Applies to all, not only to some.


Plans the commission in power will make,

To bring needed aid for the people’s sake.


Yet pain for all will still unfold,

For complete control no one holds.


This world Supreme Lord did create,

Our pain instantly away He can take.


Yoga in devotion is the only way,

So Hare and Krishna always say.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Father of the Week

Krishna“O son of Pritha, there is no work prescribed for Me within all the three planetary systems. Nor am I in want of anything, nor have I need to obtain anything — and yet I am engaged in work.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 3.22)

Children in school sometimes have to bring something in to discuss with the rest of the class. Known as “Show and Tell”, the purpose is to get the child to open up to others, to speak about something which is dear to them. At the same time, it gives them an introduction into the art of communication, in learning how to convey your thoughts to others. Similar to the “Show and Tell” is the classroom talk by a parent. The “father of the week” is the father of a student chosen to speak in front of that class for that particular week. They discuss what they do for a living, which will hopefully spark an interest in the children. The Supreme Lord is the father of all, and since He does everything when He doesn’t have to do anything, His work is the most interesting.

A doctor, an engineer, a computer programmer, a teacher - these fathers have a lot to discuss with students. Every occupation has its necessary work and also the fruits of labor accompanying it. Even the housewife is a tireless worker, a person who must incorporate love into her work in order for there to be success. Success in her case is a properly fed family that lives in a household that operates smoothly. The reward is the peace of mind of knowing that your family is cared for. If they are cared for, their association will be more enjoyable.

Yet each person ultimately works because they have to. Though they may choose their occupation, without working they could not survive. Even those who are on the government dole must rely on someone’s work for their sustenance. Look around the entire world and you’ll never find someone who doesn’t rely on work, no matter how renounced they are. But there does exist one person who never has to work. This is because all the energies of this world operate under His direction. The many aspects of this world, including eternal truths relating to this world and its origin, are like pearls resting on a thread that is this original person.

“O conquerer of wealth [Arjuna], there is no Truth superior to Me. Everything rests upon Me, as pearls are strung on a thread.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.7)

Lord KrishnaNot surprisingly, the person of whom we speak is God. In the Vedas His most descriptive name is Krishna, which means all-attractive. As a personality, Krishna has a form, attributes and pastimes. One of those pastimes is teaching, which was seen once on the battlefield of Kurukshetra some five thousand years ago. In that discourse to a hesitant warrior named Arjuna, Krishna mentioned, among other things, that there is no work ever prescribed for Him, and yet He still engages in work.

Every person is assigned some type of duty. The father cares for the family, the child goes to school, the mother nurtures the children, the teacher teaches students, the head of state watches over the citizens, etc. In ideal circumstances, the prescribed work is accepted based on inherent qualities, or gunas. In ancient times this is how work was assigned, and the qualities were determined by those in the mode of goodness. There are three modes of material nature, and those in goodness are at the highest level. They can see things clearly, meaning they know the difference between matter and spirit. They can thus assess material qualities in others and then give the prescribed duties, which are originally handed down in the Vedas, the first scriptural tradition of this world.

Krishna is the origin of the Vedas, so He is the person who first instituted the prescribed duties. Those in the mode of goodness read the Vedas, study Vedic wisdom, perform sacrifices, and teach others to perform sacrifice as part of their duties. The martial class, those in the mode of passion, runs the government, protects against foreign attack, and gives in charity. The business section generates wealth, produces food, and protects cows. The laborer class serves the three higher classes, and in each division the participants are suited for the work based on their qualities. Prescribed work is the real meaning to karma, as it aims to provide fruits that are worth having.

Though Krishna doesn’t have to do anything, He still does pretty much everything. If He were to give a presentation before a classroom, there would be no end to His discussion. This is because He can go on and on about everything He has done in the past, does right now, and will do in the future. Through a simple exhalation He generates this and many other universes. Through an inhalation, everything comes back into Him. And just as we breathe in and out many times in a day, so Krishna creates, maintains and annihilates the creations over and over again.

Even the work assigned to deputies like saints and demigods is in one sense done by Krishna, who is responsible for the creation of the elements used to carry out that work. The very act of describing Krishna is also something done indirectly by the Lord, which means that there is infinite recursion in the definition of the Supreme Lord.

Krishna does all this work to set a good example and also to derive pleasure. Just as the father is appreciated by the son for the love that he offers and the work that he does, we too can honor the Supreme Lord for all that He does for us. And that act of honoring will bring us the greatest pleasure, simultaneously providing meaning to all the other work that we do.

Ultimately, we work to maintain something, so if our work is done to maintain the connection to Krishna in a loving mood, then it is worthwhile. The loving mood is best created through the chanting of the holy names in full surrender. Repeating, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”, is work that can be done anywhere, and if there is some faith applied in the chanting process, the rest of the work will be adjusted properly. If the supreme father works for our benefit, then we can surely work for His, glorifying Him with our sacrifice.

In Closing:

Father of student to classroom invite,

So that inspiration in students to ignite.


To describe his work opportunity he takes,

Explains how a living with action he makes.


Supreme Lord is the father in a sense too,

He takes to working though He has nothing to do.


The entire creation He does start,

Of Him His energies are also a part.


To His work there is never an end,

So your heartfelt obeisances to Him send.

Monday, December 10, 2012

A Bucket of Mustard Seeds

The many universes“In the Chaitanya-charitamrita, the total universes in the external potency of the Lord are compared to a bucketful of mustard seeds. One mustard seed is calculated to be a universe itself. In one of the universes, in which we are now living, the number of planets cannot be counted by human energy, and so how can we think of the sum total in all the universes, which are compared to a bucketful of mustard seeds?” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 2.6.18 Purport)

The universe is too grand to understand within one lifetime. The full scope of human history alone, that which is documented at least, is impossible to consume for the human brain. A computer couldn’t even handle it. As soon as you expand the database to fit all the recorded perceptions, the expansion itself becomes part of that history, thereby creating a recursive loop that continues infinitely. It is the nature of the human being to be inquisitive, and the predictable search for the greater unknown, the vast beyond, consumes much time. From the Vedas, however, we learn that the universe is impossible to fully know, and therefore the real aim of human life is to inquire into the source of the universes.

The source is more powerful than the creation. To be able to create in such a way makes one greater. I can taste every pizza dish ever made by a specific cook, but if I can learn the recipe from the cook himself, then I will know what really goes into the dishes. Moreover, I will learn about the qualities of the creator and why they create in the first place. Only then will I have a proper understanding.

If the timeline of an individual’s life were to be compared to a game, the clock would run out before there was success. The two-minute drill in American football is fun to watch because when the time remaining in the game starts to dwindle, the team that is up against the clock doesn’t mess around. They are in full panic mode, eager as ever to score so that they can either tie or take the lead. If you make it to the five yard line of the opposing team, i.e. you are really close to scoring, but time runs out before you score, of what use was your drive? Your attempt was futile.

In the game of life, know that time will run out before you can learn about every universe. And just because you have a large collection of information doesn’t mean that you will know what to do with it. Data mining is an outgrowth of this issue, as predictions are made based on patterns found within data. Think of the “recommended items” section on e-commerce websites. They recommend other products to you based on the product you are currently viewing. The recommendations are created through data mining, through finding patterns based on the past purchases of other customers.

Nevertheless, these are just recommendations. They are not accurate predictions of the future, nor do they claim to be. In the same way, just because you know a little about only one universe doesn’t mean that you have solved the real pressing issue, namely the repetition of birth and death. Birth and death follow in a cycle similar to the repetition of days. In fact, the days are just arbitrarily identified. Nothing changes between today and tomorrow except the passage of time and its influence. Our identity is the same tomorrow as it is today, but we consider ourselves to be a day older due to the relative positioning of the sun.

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

Bhagavad-gitaBirth and death is a similar type of demarcation. We say someone is born when we see them emerge from the womb, but they existed prior to that. We say someone is dead when the soul exits the body, but the soul itself is not killed. These facts and more are concisely and confidently presented in the Bhagavad-gita, a sacred scripture of the Vedic tradition. His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada has provided wonderful commentary on these verses in his translation titled, “Bhagavad-gita As It Is”. The commentary incorporates Vedic culture and the teachings of past acharyas who knew Krishna through practicing the ancient art of divine love, bhakti-yoga.

One universe is compared to a mustard seed, and all the universes together are thus a bucketful of mustard seeds. In this way it is impossible to think of the full breadth and scope of all the universes. The creator of such universes is more worthy of our attention. This should make sense if we think about it. If He creates the universes, He can destroy them. If He creates them, He also maintains them, which means He is in charge of the rules of operation. If we are subordinate to the elements of nature in just one part of His creation, imagine then how inferior we are to Him as a whole?

If we approach Him, He can give us the knowledge necessary to transcend the effects of His creation. If we should so choose, He can invest the power of creation in us, as He does with Lord Brahma. The wiser choice is to follow devotional service, wherein we surrender to the original creator and give up the false notion of being a supreme controller. His universe is impossible to understand, and fortunately we don’t need to understand it fully. If we know that He is intimately tied to us in the relationship described as achintya-bhedabheda-tattva, we’ll take up devotion in a confident way and be duly benefitted.

Chanting the Holy NamesAchintya means inconceivable, and bheda means division. There is both bheda and abheda, or non-division, in the relationship between the living entities and God. This simultaneous oneness and difference is impossible to understand empirically. It’s like looking at an equation that says two equals three. Two is one greater than three but never equal to it. The inconceivable relationship to God can be realized through service, which is best practiced through the chanting of the holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”.

In this endeavor the clock never runs out, as bhakti-yoga corresponds directly with the property of eternality in the soul. Pure bhakti-yoga is practiced without motivation and without interruption, so even the forces of nature can’t stop it. Bhakti doesn’t have to begin at birth, and it doesn’t have to stop at death. Through chanting the holy names, awareness of the divine master, Shri Krishna, awakens, and soon the need to beat the undefeated clock of time vanishes, allowing for transcendental pleasure to arrive in a steady supply without any fear of loss. Think of Krishna, worship Him, honor His creation, and know that even a bucketful of mustard seeds is not accurate enough in describing His true potency.

In Closing:

Atheist scientists in ignorance full of bluster,

Don’t know that universes like bucket of seeds mustard.


Too many are in there to count,

Why then opposition to reality mount?


Find out who is the creator of those seeds,

To know the Supreme Being our only need.


Normally ticking clock of time out on us to run,

But in bhakti loss in progress there is none.


Birth and death no longer to apply,

To he who gives devotion a sincere try.

Sunday, December 9, 2012


Krishna's lotus feet“The living entities in this conditioned world are My eternal, fragmental parts. Due to conditioned life, they are struggling very hard with the six senses, which include the mind.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 15.7)

It is only human nature to be worried over the welfare of those who appear to be suffering, in the process ignoring those who are in an opposite condition. But according to the Vedas, any living entity who is embodied, that is any individual within any species that must suffer through reincarnation, the constant changing of bodies, is in need of help. The aid guaranteed to rescue them is not difficult to produce; as it is not even assigned a monetary value. Yet the cause of the embodiment prevents that aid from being widely accepted; thereby exacerbating the problem.

Think of the mother of two sons. The elder is independent, a go-getter. They do things on their own; they are successful. Not only that, but since childhood they have had a clever streak. Rather than act helpless, they are always trying to imitate the adults. They want to do everything the parents do, and they try to trick the elders into allowing them to do prohibited things. From this behavior, the mother not only ceases to think of the eldest son as helpless, but sometimes she will try to admonish him to deflate his ego. “Let him get out of his own messes; this way he’ll learn a lesson.”

The other son is just the opposite in mentality. They are always asking for help. They are in trouble seemingly all the time. The mother is constantly worried about this son. “What if he doesn’t amount to anything in life? How will he handle going away to college? He’s always been close to home, and now he’s out in the real world. How is he going to survive in a world filled with ruthless competitors?” Thus the mother will direct her attention more towards this son, who is apparently helpless.

Under a sober and objective assessment, however, it is understood that both children are equally helpless. Just because one acts independently doesn’t mean that they are superior. They both must endure the rigors of life, and while one may be confident in their abilities, it doesn’t mean that they are guaranteed of success. Why not worry over the plight of both sons equally? Why give so much concern to the one that seems to be helpless?

Indeed, we apply the same discrimination towards all members of society, even extending the outlook to the animal community. Cats and dogs are kept as pets, while cows are killed for meat. The cow is equally as innocent as the dog. In fact, the cow is a loving mother who happily produces milk to feed her young. This milk is also used by the human society to produce so many nice food dishes. The cow needs only its children around to produce this miracle food. Therefore why shouldn’t it be protected just as much as the cat or dog?

In the Bhagavad-gita, Lord Krishna says that all living entities populating the world we inhabit are His fragmental parts. They are also eternal; which means that no matter where they go or how they look, they never cease to exist. This is a comforting truth, especially to one who has suffered the loss of a loved one. Though they are considered deceased, the departed is only that; gone from our vicinity. Just because someone leaves our home doesn’t mean that they don’t live anymore. In the same way, just because someone leaves their body at the time of death doesn’t mean that they cease to exist.

Lord KrishnaThough the conditioned living entities are eternal and part and parcel of God, they are struggling very hard with the material nature. Krishna doesn’t say that only the cats and the dogs are suffering. He doesn’t say that just the poor and the downtrodden are in the position of difficulty. He doesn’t say that some aren’t suffering because of their massive wealth. Rather, the residence in the material world is itself the cause of suffering, and so anyone who is here is in the helpless condition, worthy of rescue.

This begs the question as to who will offer the rescue. If everyone is suffering, how can one person be in the superior position? One who knows Shri Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, understands the difference between the material and spiritual energies. They know that if they think of God at the time of death, they will no longer have to suffer through the cycle of birth and death. They know that to think of God is the best activity, and to practice the best activity at the time of quitting the body brings the most auspicious result in the future.

From this recognition, they ascend to a superior position while in the present life. They can thus rescue others by teaching them how to think of God. To think requires consciousness, and so to be immersed in thoughts of the Divine is to have God consciousness. As Krishna is the source of both the material and spiritual worlds, and the person from whom the Divine energy emanates, He is considered all-attractive and complete. To think of Krishna is to think of God in His personal form, which is fully featured. To think of the personal form is to lessen the chances of an erroneous vision, wherein something is taken to be what it is not. The impersonal form, which is the Brahman energy, is akin to a numeral representation, such as the number one. If you add a line, suddenly the one becomes a seven. But when the word is written out, the number one is much more difficult to skew. The personal form is like the written out version, allowing the eyes to easier understand who God is.

As consciousness is the requirement for rescue, any person can deliver the necessary aid to any other person. Just by chanting the holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”, the spark of devotion is stirred within the heart through the entry point of the ear. Reciting this mantra to oneself is the way to change consciousness at the local level, and to chant it out loud and describe its glories is the way to rescue others, changing their condition from helpless to fully empowered in the divine consciousness.

In Closing:

Aid to the poor let me give,

So that in pain they won’t live.


Help needed for the distressed,

Can come from the materially blessed.


That all are poor is proper understanding,

Caused by material world’s landing.


Lord Chaitanya the solution to us gave,

Chant holy names for all the world to save.