Sunday, June 9, 2013

It Must Be Real

Putana killed“Also glorified are the innumerable pastimes of Shri Krishna, the enemy of the demons, including His childhood pastimes of sucking out Putana's life air along with her breast-milk, breaking the cart, trampling down Trinavarta, killing Bakasura, Vatsasura and Aghasura, and the pastimes He enacted when Lord Brahma hid His calves and cowherd boy friends in a cave.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 12.12.28-29)


“I love this band so much. I listen to their music all the time. I am so into the songs that I like to download live versions as well, as many as I can get my hands on. Then I have specific versions of the songs which I prefer more than others. Sometimes my mood calls for a specific version, where the guitars are more distorted. Other times I reach for sadder songs, which help to heal whatever’s bugging me.

“I like this band so much that I’m going to create a fan club. I’ll find other fans and gather with them on a periodic basis. We can travel to concerts together. It is one thing to offer support by purchasing the songs online or at retail outlets, but it is a greater sign of allegiance to show up to the concerts. We can travel to different arenas, in a sense following the band on tour. We can make up signs to show at the concerts. These will grab the attention of the band members. Why not show our love in this way? Why be shy in discussing the thing about which we are passionate? Why should we care what others think of us?”

Indeed, such fandom exists in so many areas of life. The conventions relating to comic books see fans that are so dedicated that they dress up as the fictional characters. The same fans will stand in line to watch the first showing of a new movie, though just hours later they could watch the exact same film without waiting. This is all done to show allegiance, which is a way to express loving feelings.

Why, then, the negative opinion of religion? You take the same allegiance, the same desire to travel, the same tendency to congregate, and turn it over to God, and the result is hostility. Some will say that the religious groups preach and that no one wants to be preached to, but hold on, there is just as much preaching with fans of other things. The very wearing of paraphernalia is a way to grab attention, a way to show others what you like. Why, then, is the chanting of mantras that glorify God viewed so negatively? Why are stories relating to Him discounted as mere mythology, when acknowledged fictional tales of comic book characters and the like draw the attention of millions of paying customers?

The answer, of course, is that there must be something real with following genuine religion. The superheroes are known to be fictional, mere mental concoctions. If you are a fan of a band, your allegiance to them doesn’t really reach them. The same goes for a sports team. You can invest full emotion in a sports team and there is no way for the players to actually hurt you. This is because they likely don’t even know who you are or that you are investing so much time. If they don’t know you, they can’t hurt you, or at least that is the thought.

Worship of God in an authorized way is the real thing. It is indicative of the original consciousness within all of us. It is the legitimate use of the potent spiritual force, which guides all other functions within the living body. The dead body is also manipulated by a living force, but an external one. The living individual has the localized spiritual force residing within, and thus the presence of this spirit accounts for the difference between life and death.

Chaitanya Charitamrita, Madhya 24.201“The original nature of every living entity is to consider himself the eternal servant of Krishna. However, under the influence of maya, he thinks himself to be the body, and thus his original consciousness is covered.” (Lord Chaitanya, Chaitanya Charitamrita, Madhya 24.201)

Krishna's lotus feetIn the Vedas we get the true answer to the question of why fans of God are treated differently. It is said that the root cause of the material creation is the attitude of challenging God. When the material land is created, one of its properties is that it is conducive to forgetfulness of the Supreme Spirit. And despite this forgetfulness, this willful neglect of the highest spiritual force, the tendencies of the individual cannot be removed. The dharma of the soul is to serve, and so that dharma cannot be taken away from the soul. That dharma is evidenced in all actions of the living spirit.

If you worship a band, you are more or less fine publicly because others have their own style of worship. They worship some other combination of spirit and temporary matter. Therefore there is no challenge when they see your worship. If you support a sports team, there also isn’t much objection because someone else has their own sports team that they support. But if you worship God, red flags immediately pop up. “What, do you think you’re more religious than me? What, you’ve had enough of life so you’re taking the fictional route now? Who is your God anyway? Is He better than my God?”

The difference in treatment shows that real worship of God, which is known as bhakti-yoga in Sanskrit, is indeed unique. It stands above all other kinds of worship. If it didn’t, then no one would object to the chanting of the holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare,” or the worshiping of the deity in the temple. They wouldn’t object to teachings like “you are not your body” and “the human form of life is meant for realizing God.” There wouldn’t be any objections when others are taught to think of God all the time, so that they would be God conscious at the time of death, a time that determines the state of being for the next life.

Bhagavad-gita, 8.6“Whatever state of being one remembers when he quits his body, that state he will attain without fail.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 8.6)

In the Vedas many stories about God are found. They describe amazing things, like a monkey [Hanuman] lifting a mountain, a child [Krishna] defeating a witch [Putana], a young prince [Rama] building a bridge out of floating rocks, and vile creatures [Rakshasas] changing their shapes at will. The good always win in the end, as everything is ultimately good. This is because everything is spirit at the core, and the bad behavior we see is only the result of ignorance of the true identity of the individual. Ignorance doesn’t last forever, just as darkness eventually dissipates when the sun rises.

Shri HanumanIf those who object to religion really thought the Vedas describe mere mythology, they would have no problem becoming immersed in the stories. After all, what better tale is there than the Ramayana? This work describes the life and pastimes of the Supreme Lord’s avatara of Rama. He goes through so many trials and tribulations. No fictional writer could ever come up with a character like Hanuman, who heroically serves Rama’s interests without expecting anything in return. The mind could never conjure up the resolve and strength of Rama’s wife Sita, who endures the worst kinds of hardship only to remain firm in her devotion to her husband, who is God.

The neglect of works like the Ramayana, Bhagavad-gita and Shrimad Bhagavatam after hearing what they contain only gives further confirmation that the material land is one where aversion to God consciousness is prominent. With this notable fact revealed to us, those who are interested in the higher truths, in answering the great mysteries of life, can take great comfort in the works of the Vedas, which describe God to the best of man’s ability to understand Him. And the more one understands Him, the happier they become, for they know that allegiance to Him is the most important allegiance to show.

In Closing:

Follow your favorite band, immersed in every thing,

Travel to concerts, every lyric from songs joyously sing.

 

At movie premiere costume of characters wear,

And then at big screen attentively stare.

 

With all such practices generally no issue,

But why then stories of Vedas tag as untrue?

 

Different is something from genuine tradition,

Would have no problem if really thought it was fiction.

 

Best characters like Sita and Hanuman to find,

Whom couldn’t imagine the most creative mind.

 

That Vedas are real conclude we must,

In them invest all your faith and trust.

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