Saturday, June 15, 2013

You Can Always Go Home Again

Lord Krishna“Since the Lord is the original source of all emanations, intelligent persons, enlightened by Vedic knowledge, seek the shelter of the Lord, just as birds who leave the nest again search out the nest to take complete rest.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 3.5.41 Purport)

“So, you want to move back in here? Couldn’t make it on your own, eh? Why did you leave in the first place? You had plenty of food offered to you daily. The house was always clean, you had a nice family around to give you company, and there was a support system built in. You told us that you wanted to enjoy life more, that it was high time you grew up. You told us that you needed your freedom, your space. Now you’re ready to give back that independence? Are you sure this is what you want? Why should we take you back?”

Indeed, the good parent hopes that their child will one day move out of the house and raise their own family. Not that they necessarily become absent from their life, but at least they should be self-sufficient. Otherwise, who will take care of the adult child when the parent is no longer around? How will the child fend for themselves? While this logically makes sense, the Supreme Lord has a different attitude towards His devotees. He welcomes anyone back with open arms at any time, since real independence is only found in devotional surrender. With His closest devotees, He acts like the attached parent who never lets go.

Narada MuniAn example of this was seen with Narada Muni one time. He is a sort of space traveler. Think of a person who has no attachments. No job, no family, no house, no car - nothing except his instruments that he carries with him. He uses these to forever glorify the Supreme Lord, who is known as Narayana because He is the source of all men. He is also known as Hari because He removes the distresses of His devotees. He is known as Rama as well particularly because of one time that He came to earth. There were many reasons for this descent, with one of them involving Narada Muni and a painful loss.

Narada is a pure devotee. This means that he worships God without any personal motivation. He doesn’t pray to God to grant him some material benediction. He doesn’t meditate quietly in hopes of only blocking out all negative aspects of life. He doesn’t meditate in hopes of being very expert in mystic yoga. He simply worships wherever he is. He travels from place to place due to a curse laid upon him, but for him that curse is a blessing. It allows him to bring the glories of God to wherever he travels.

Since this is his occupation, it is not beneficial for him to get married. Not that no one should ever get married, but for people in Narada’s situation marriage isn’t required. It would only slow him down and make him unhappy. As we all know, sometimes we don’t know what’s good for us. Narada one time was swelling with pride over having conquered kama, or lust. He then visited Lord Shiva to tell him about it. Unlike Narada, Lord Shiva is married. He has the most chaste wife, Parvati Devi. This doesn’t mean that Shiva is swayed by material desires. It was at the insistence of Narayana that Shiva got married, so his association with Parvati is a kind of devotional service.

Shiva met Narada and saw that his pride had temporarily risen. He advised Narada not to mention to Narayana his accomplishment of having conquered lust. “Whatever you do, don’t tell Shri Hari.” Narada visited Hari next, and didn’t listen.  He explained everything that had happened. The Lord could tell what Narada was feeling, that his pride had swelled up. Like a good surgeon, Hari planned on cutting out that disease that could ruin Narada. Hari decided to play a little trick on Narada. He created a majestic city which happened to be holding a svayamvara at the time. This was a self-choice marriage ceremony for a king’s daughter. Narada stopped by and fell in love with the daughter upon first sight. He wanted her to pick him for marriage.

You can’t remove devotion from a devotee, and so Narada naturally prayed to Hari. “Let this woman pick me.” Narada is an independent soul. In this instance, he wanted to leave the home that was devotional service in order to enjoy married life with a beautiful woman. The father should have no reason to interfere with the son’s personal desire to leave home and start a family, but in this instance Lord Hari did interfere. Rather than pick Narada, the woman picked another beautiful man, who was none other than Hari Himself. The whole thing was an illusion created by God. Narada was so angry that he cursed Narayana to come to earth and be separated from His wife. Narada didn’t get picked because Hari gave him a monkey face, and so Narada also cursed Hari to have to rely on monkeys for His friends. No one can actually curse God, but since the Lord loves Narada so much He happily agreed. And so Hari advented on earth as Lord Rama, and His famous pastimes are described in the Ramayana.

Rama and Lakshmana with the monkey armyNarada wasn’t happy with what had happened, both the illusion and his subsequent submission to anger. So later on it was explained to him by Rama that the Lord’s devotees are viewed as helpless children. One parent is attentive during the child’s infant years, but when the child gets older the love is offered differently. On the other hand, the overbearing parent will always keep the same attention, regardless of the child’s age or maturity level. Towards His devotees, Lord Hari acts like the latter parent. The devotee may not like the kind of love they receive from time to time, but in the end it is what is best for them. This is what is best for everyone, but not everyone is so fortunate. If their foremost desire is to leave the nest that is the spiritual world, there is no force applied by God in getting them to return home.

Ah, but that return is allowed at any time. Narayana, who is also known as Krishna in His original form, never shuts the door permanently. The worst person in the world, after many lifetimes of reforming themselves, can return to Krishna’s land. Imagine, then, what is in store for the person who always chants the holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

In Closing:

Despite full attention parents give,

In independence child wants to live.


When older, one parent relinquishes,

While other parent’s love never extinguishes.


Shri Hari to His devotees like the latter,

Takes concern with every single matter.


Narada this one time did not like,

But nevertheless eventually set right.

Friday, June 14, 2013


Lord Krishna“O Arjuna, as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, I know everything that has happened in the past, all that is happening in the present, and all things that are yet to come. I also know all living entities; but Me no one knows.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.26)

Bhagavad-gita, 7.26“Hey, you won the football pool this week. You got twelve out of fourteen games right. What’s your secret?”

“What do you mean? I just picked the games. There was no secret.”

“Yeah, but others did so much research. They watched all the previous games, too. They took into consideration injuries, home field advantage, strength of schedule, and depth charts for each team. And yet you beat all of them in the end.”

“Well, I just went by a hunch. For some of the games, I liked a particular team name better. I’ve always liked lions. They’re so ferocious. They rule over the jungle. Everyone is afraid of them. I figured they could beat a bear no problem. Then the logo for the Jets team was really nice. Way better than the logo for the Browns. Actually, the Browns don’t even have a logo. Their uniforms are so ugly, too. There was no way I was going to pick them over the Jets.”

Granted, this method of selecting winners won’t always work, but it surely can prove successful from time to time. This method of selection and the ensuing good result have made their way into many comedic routines in television shows and movies. You can’t predict everything in life. Not everything is within our control. Actually, very little is. From the Vedas it is learned that there are higher authorities who control outcomes, with a central authority figure overseeing everything.

“So you’re saying that God is the central authority figure? But who is He? We’re supposed to leave everything up to Him? I’m not supposed to make plans? Okay, then I will stay up late tonight, because who knows what tomorrow will bring. Why should I plan on going to work tomorrow if tomorrow may never come? Why should I be responsible if everything under my care can vanish in an instant?”

The world we live in is temporary, and so is everything within it. Every single future event cannot be accounted for by the individual, because the objects necessary for creating that outcome may not be in place when they are needed. At the same time, our destiny with respect to residence can be shaped. This residence is specifically related to the afterlife, where the spirit soul will end up after completely exiting the current body. That body decays upon the exit of the soul, and so there is no way to go back into that body again afterwards. When they demolish an old building, there is no way to go back and live in it. The same concept applies to death. Once your body decays, you can’t go back into it. Our childhood body is gone and finished. There is no way to get it back. But just because it is gone it doesn’t mean that our existence ceases. Saying that you only get one life is as pointless as saying that you only get one childhood. There is still life after the passage of time.

Your work shapes your consciousness. In this way there should be purpose to action. Though you can’t control every outcome, your work can alter how you think. This is the uniqueness of the human species. The animal’s consciousness is set no matter what. Whatever it does, its mind will still focus on eating, sleeping, mating and defending. The human being can work in such a way that they eventually think only of God, who is the best person, place or thing to think about. Thinking about Him grants residence in His eternal abode at the end of life.

Bhagavad-gita, 8.5“And whoever, at the time of death, quits his body, remembering Me alone, at once attains My nature. Of this there is no doubt.” (Lord Krishna, Bg. 8.5)

Lord KrishnaThinking about Him right now brings the mind to His transcendental abode. The Vedas give detail behind the abstract conception of God. More than just an energy of spirit and more than just a spiritual entity residing locally within, the origin of all matter and spirit is a personality. He has multiple manifestations of that personality, but there is still an original. The original is all-attractive, and so it is addressed as Krishna. It is the supreme enjoyer, so it is addressed as a male, or purusha. It is ever youthful, beautiful, and of the best complexion. And so it is known as Shyamasundara.

Since His name means “all-attractive,” Krishna is not the exclusive property of any one group. The person born into a Hindu family may know of Krishna since the time of birth and the person born into another faith may not hear of Him until adulthood, but such distinctions make no difference in the end. I may not have a slice of pizza until I’m into my thirties, but once I do the taste is just as good. The taste is the same regardless of who knows about it going in.

Tasting Krishna’s attractiveness through the five senses is worthwhile for any living entity. Even the animal can become liberated through Krishna’s association. The human being has the leg up because they can make the conscious decision to try to taste that association all the time. They can shape their activities in such a way that their thoughts remain fixed on Him. There is still some work done to maintain the body, but the worker doesn’t care so much about the results. The world is temporary after all, so how much can we really control? At the same time, whatever we do, we can think of Krishna. Since He is all-powerful, the ultimate controller, He can grant us the unfaltering ability to think of Him. With that consciousness, the outcome to life becomes easy to predict.

In Closing:

Despite best research work done,

Impossible to always know outcome.


Some by just using best guess,

Can win contest, triumph over the rest.


Controlling authorities hold in their hand,

Shaping of outcomes across the land.


As controller Shri Krishna is the first,

Travel to His home and put a stop to birth.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Science or Santa Claus

Praying“Faith may be blind faith. Faith is not the real description of religion. Religion means the laws given by God, and anyone who follows those laws is religious, whether a Christian, a Hindu, or a Muslim.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Science of Self-Realization, Ch 6a)

“One side has their argument. It seems logical enough to those who hear it in passing. That side just wants to love; that is the foundation of their opinion. Why would anyone deny them that love? I agree with your argument, but if you can’t explain it properly, it won’t hold any water. One side speaks to emotion and basic common sense, while all you can do is thump your Bible. How do you expect to ever persuade people that way?”

Indeed, when religion is deemed to be something only of faith, it is very easy to discount. The other side, which relies on sense perceptions alone, seems to have the upper hand. When you portray your opposition as fanatical or living in a fantasy land, it is much easier to win arguments. Real religion, however, is not based on faith alone. Faith will always be there, even in relationships where the other party’s presence is easily perceived, i.e. when faith apparently turns into reality. Faith thus doesn’t make religion unique. Real religion is scientifically based, as it has laws that apply to all time periods and to all people.

The arts can give a good reading on the pulse of the society at the time. Just seeing how religion is portrayed in television and film tells us all we need to know about the reason for its gradual decline in popularity. On the one side you have science. You have physicists, chemists, biologists and archaeologists combining together to understand the universe. They’ve made great strides over the past few thousand years, so they think they are progressing towards complete knowledge. With complete knowledge they’ll be able to live forever with endless enjoyment.

The BibleOn the other side you have religion. Followers of religion are equated with those who believe in Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy. Therefore the dividing line is rather clear. Either you believe in science, which is logical and well-reasoned, or you believe in a God described in your scriptural work of choice. In the latter there is intolerance. You don’t accept anyone who doesn’t believe in your books. You act a certain way only because your book says to do so. You’re not very intelligent; otherwise you would take to science.

In actuality, the real fantasy is the belief that scientific study alone can bring happiness. The animal community doesn’t have the higher intelligence required to understand the atoms and other intricacies of nature. They only know eating, sleeping, mating and defending. At the same time, they find such things without a problem. They don’t have to study fossils. They don’t have to force themselves to eat healthy. They don’t have to worry about scientific advancement. They just live.

The materialist who relies solely on science has a very difficult time in life. Even if they live for one hundred years, the full duration is spent in worry. The mind is consumed with the fear of impending death, and so there is feverish study to try to prevent death’s destined arrival. Whether one lives for one hundred days or one hundred years, death will arrive all the same. If both the animal and the human being die, of what significance is the difference in intelligence?

God doesn’t have to be a figment of the imagination. He doesn’t have to be worshiped as a result of fear tactics alone. A wise person understands that there is an origin to all life. There is an original force, and since that force is much more powerful than anything else, what is the use in trying so hard to live forever in the present body? One who knows the spiritual science understands that every living entity does indeed live forever. The spirit soul’s existence cannot be eliminated. The influence may be lessened or increased depending on the time and circumstance, but the existence itself is never affected. The sun sometimes shines bright in the sky, while other times there is a cloud cover, but in either case the sun still exists. In the same way, the living entities are sometimes manifest, at which point we describe the initial entry as birth, and sometimes unmanifest, at which point we describe the exit as death.

Bhagavad-gita, 2.28“All created beings are unmanifest in their beginning, manifest in their interim state, and unmanifest again when they are annihilated. So what need is there for lamentation?” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.28)

Bhagavad-gita As It IsThe Vedas are the original spiritual science and the religion with the most detail provided. There is no need to rely solely on faith. Understand for yourself how you are not your body. From basic observation, come to the realization that sense pleasure is not the be all, end all. Today you are hankering for doughnuts from your favorite doughnut shop, but eating the doughnuts won’t give you lasting satisfaction. The next day you will be hankering for something else.

On the other hand, if your lone hankering is to serve God, you will always be pleased. You will automatically require much less in regards to personal comfort. Eating, sleeping, mating and defending will take place as a matter of fact, sort of like a routine. Right now, you don’t consciously think about taking a shower, driving to work, blinking, eating your meal until it is finished, or so many other routine things. They just happen on their own after a while. Your mind is focused on something else while all these things are going on.

If the mind is focused on serving God, then there is little concern for sense pleasures. This is real transcendence. Religion is portrayed as something to be laughed at precisely because of the challenge it presents to the standard way of life. Instead of the motto of “eat, drink and be merry,” in real religion it’s “simple living and high thinking.” The consciousness is the gateway to happiness, and in devotional service, which is the genuine religion, the consciousness is gradually purified. In material life, which is devoid of spiritual attention, the consciousness is only further degraded, implicating the worker in so many reactions of karma.

In devotional service one actually uses all that is around them to worship God. Thus even the scientific advancements can be used for good. It is the consciousness attached to a particular activity that determines whether the activity is auspicious or inauspicious. If there is only blind faith, where every pearl of wisdom that is not believed to be sourced in a sacred book is instantly rejected, then the consciousness isn’t very sharp. The same goes for rejecting the presence of God outright because one mistakenly thinks that such a belief must rely on faith and faith alone.

Science will get you a somewhat better understanding of the material nature that isn’t your ideal home, and Santa Claus can perhaps carry you through the younger years, before you wise up. Bhakti-yoga, or devotional service, will always be to your benefit because it is the culmination of all goals and desires. It is the purest version of activity, and it allows one to see everything with the proper knowledge. It brings a permanent result. Bhakti-yoga in the modern age starts and ends with the chanting of the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

In Closing:

Either material science you pick,

Or to thumping your Bible stick.


God painted as figment of imagination,

Fools are those involved in glorification.


But faith not foundation of religion real,

Not in ignorance to Lord must kneel.


From Vedas mystery of real God uncover,

Proper use of material nature then discover.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Voluntary Surrender

Krishna and Arjuna“Thus I have explained to you the most confidential of all knowledge. Deliberate on this fully, and then do what you wish to do.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 18.63)

Bhagavad-gita, 18.63Fatigue compels us to sleep at night. The limits of the digestive system compel us to stop eating after a certain point. The same stomach then forces us to eat through indicating intense hunger. The scorching rays of the sun force us to seek shelter in areas where it is cooler. The chilling winter breeze makes us seek the comfort of the warmer indoors. In this way we are compelled to do so many things, forced to surrender to a higher force. The highest force there is does not personally apply the same force in the most important matter, however. He recommends that we surrender to Him, but the choice is left up to us.

Why wouldn’t He use force, if the objective is supposedly good for us? It is good for our children to go to bed early, and so we enforce the strict bedtime. We also make them do their homework, apologize to those they have wronged, and eat their vegetables. The supreme powerful force is the father of mankind, so why shouldn’t He treat us like His children? Why would He give us the chance to go astray?

The children can only be compelled for so long. Eventually they will become the adults. In early adulthood the human being reaches its peak in energy levels. The fitness of the body is typically the best it will ever be during this time, and so no one can restrict the apparent freedom of the adult who is newly released into the real world. Therefore the good parents make the most out of the opportunity during the early years, when there is the ability to enforce strict rules and regulations. These rules help to better the condition of the child later on.

In the same way, nature’s laws dictate so many things to us. If we take the proper lesson from them, we too can reach the best end. Forced death tells us that life in this body is temporary. Birth indicates that a new beginning will come eventually. The gradual distaste from the repetition of acts of sense gratification gives us the warning that there is more to life than just satisfying the demands for eating and sex life. There is a higher taste. Every activity that brings a negative taste quietly whispers that it is not the truth, or Brahman. The Absolute Truth is the lone truth that never fails to deliver the taste that is transcendental.

Prahlada MaharajaThe loving guardian eventually eases up on their pressure. When they do compel, it is done out of love, and it is not done for long. The miscreant, however, will try to control everything, not realizing that they themselves are controlled throughout the process. The atheistic father Hiranyakashipu tried to control the devotional thoughts of his young boy, Prahlada Maharaja. The boy simply wanted to worship God through thought, word and deed, but the father did not like this. Therefore he tried to compel Prahlada to change his ways. He failed.

A famous princess named Sita was dedicated to God with the same resolve. The demon king named Ravana tried to change her disposition. He tried to get her to worship him instead of Rama, who was her husband. Rama is the Supreme Lord, the ultimate controller. Rama is also Krishna and Vishnu and Narasimhadeva. He is also known by so many other names. When you can’t understand His personal form, when you think that He is only an impartial energy of truth, He is addressed as either Brahman or the more generic term: God.

His personal forms carry out actions that serve His direct interest, and in those actions there is never any force applied to make someone follow devotion. The only instances of force are when the voluntary choices for surrender are obstructed by fools who don’t believe in God. Then the Supreme Lord uses His force, of which there is none mightier, and removes the obstacles. He eliminated Hiranyakashipu and left Prahlada free to worship in bhakti-yoga. He rescued Sita and did away with Ravana. He has done similar things for so many of His devotees.

Interestingly, rather than try to force His innumerable, subordinate sparks of spirit to surrender, He sometimes tries to talk them out of it. As Rama, He attempted to persuade Lakshmana and Sita to stay in Ayodhya, where they would apparently be safer. He had to go to the forest for fourteen years, so He didn’t want His younger brother and His wife to have to suffer. As Krishna, He tried to persuade the gopis of Vrindavana, the greatest lovers of God, to remain at home, where they would be safe in a life of dharma. In such cases, the devotees ignored His wishes. Their desire to surrender was so strong that not even He could divert them.

Radha and Krishna with the gopisThere is no doubt of God’s potency. He creates this and so many other universes through a simple exhalation. This is the information we get from the Vedas, but through basic observation we can understand the same truth. This material cosmos had to come from somewhere. Everything has an origin; this we know through perception. The origin of origins is thus the supreme powerful. It is the most potent and intelligent force because it created so vast and complex a universe that no one can fully understand it. Despite the inconceivable complexity, there is still intelligence, indicated by the regular pattern of action. The patterns are so regular that even the lesser intelligent species can rely upon them and exploit them for their own benefit. The birds fly south in the winter because they know of the changing climate. They detect what is about to come and what effect the change will have on their lives. Their assumption of the changing weather is correct because the seasons come and go like clockwork.

That supremely powerful force who used such intelligence to create could easily force us to surrender to Him. His impersonal forces, like the different aspects of nature and all-devouring time, compel us to do so many things already. And yet even this surrender is by choice, though not apparently obvious. The all-devouring time can only affect us when we are not in God consciousness. Birth and death only exist in a land where God consciousness is not prevalent. One who goes to the spiritual abode never has to come back here, and thus they never have to again be forced to surrender to the powerful aspects of nature.

Bhagavad-gita, 8.16“From the highest planet in the material world down to the lowest, all are places of misery wherein repeated birth and death take place. But one who attains to My abode, O son of Kunti, never takes birth again.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 8.16)

Though God won’t force us to surrender, if we become devoted to Him with full attention, He is forced to remain with us. He makes the promise to stay with those who always think of Him, so it would make sense that if we always think of Him, He would have to stay with us. He resides within everyone already as the Supersoul, who is an impartial witness. The promise to the devotees relates to His personal presence, which is superior. Since He is all-powerful, He is the best person to have around. The mark of true surrender is the relinquishing of the fight to compete for supremacy in the areas of beauty, wealth, strength, fame, renunciation and wisdom. The surrendered soul keeps the Supreme Lord in mind by always thinking of Him and lovingly reciting His names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

In Closing:

By nature’s laws we’re already compelled,

Impacted by seasons and by diseases felled.


So to make us surrender God certainly can,

But decision ultimately left in our hands.


From Gita His direct words take,

And with deliberation wise choice make.


For devotee’s cause only He’ll intervene,

Like with courageous Prahlada was seen.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Unsatisfied Fire

Krishna pastimes“As fire is never satisfied in its consumption of firewood, so a pure devotee of the Lord never hears enough about Krishna. Historical events and other narrations concerning social and political incidents all become transcendental as soon as they are in relationship with Krishna. That is the way to transform mundane things into spiritual identity.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 3.5.10 Purport)

“The colonists had enough. They were sick of being bossed around by the King of England, who ruled from across the ocean. He had his own territory. Why, then, did he need to dictate every move of a colony so far away? Why couldn’t he just leave well enough alone? The colonists decided to revolt, and it was a bold move. They could have lost everything. They didn’t.  Instead, the United States was born. George Washington, the hero of the Revolutionary War, was the perfect fit to be the first president. Ruling with detachment, he voluntarily stepped down from office after serving two terms.”

Such historical accounts are found in many books. History is nothing more than the documented evidence of events from times past. If you write about what happened in your life yesterday, it immediately becomes history. As more time passes, there is a greater interest in that history. This is because time’s influence gradually makes things so dramatically different that going back in time brings you to an unfamiliar and intriguing setting.

George Washington - Revolutionary WarAs time is infinite, both backwards and forwards, there is no dearth of historical information for the inquisitive mind. Still, with such topics there is a limit to how much you can consume without getting fatigued. You can read about the Revolutionary War in high school and then maybe again in college. If you are really interested, it can be the principal focus of study for the rest of your life. You can become an expert scholar on the particular time period and then teach others about it. But will you want to relive the same moments over and over again? Will you want to read about Washington’s victory over the British daily? Eventually your mind will want to move on to something else. This is true of all historical subjects except one. It is the lone exception because its content is not subject to the influence of time. Whether heard today or in one thousand years, the information remains equally as relevant. Those who consume it are never satisfied in hearing it either, like a fire that never has enough firewood to consume.

Not surprisingly, the exception is God and His pastimes. He is a person just like you and me, except His features aren’t so limited. As a person, I have hands, legs, arms, a face, and other such aspects relating to my body. These features don’t identify me, but in the present time period they are used for various things. These features can completely change, up to the point of withering away, and my identity remains the same. With God, there are features as well, except they are not subject to the influence of time. Unlike us, His features do identify Him. His transcendental smile is the same in quality as His vital force within. With God, there is no difference between the inside and the outside.

Anyone can say anything, so we can say that God’s body is non-different from His soul, but how do we actually prove this? One way is to study His activities. As the body of the individual is temporary, so must be their activities. So too must the hearing of those activities bring a temporary result. Therefore we can’t hear the same historical accounts every single day without getting bored. These accounts relate to temporary things done by a temporary body. With the Supreme Lord, the activities are done with a spiritual body, and so one can hear about them over and over again without issue.

Lord KrishnaThere are so many activities to choose from, and they are documented in the Vedic texts. In this area the Vedas are unique, as they don’t merely inform us of the existence of God. We are both told that there is a God and shown how God is God. The explanation is given in terms that we can understand. For instance, we know that the human being is limited in their strength. At best, after extensive training and good fortune, a human being can lift a car for a few seconds. After that they get very tired. God is so powerful that He can lift up a massive hill and hold it aloft using His pinky finger. He holds this hill up for seven consecutive days without breaking a sweat. He can hold it longer, but there are other activities He likes to perform instead.

Though technically he isn’t holding up that hill right now, in our minds He can be. We simply remember that incident, which is known as the first Govardhana-puja. It is celebrated annually around the world, and especially in India where the original hill still rests. Part of that celebration is remembering the original act of lifting the hill. People saw the incident and then discussed it with others. The descriptions were then documented in Vedic texts like the Bhagavata Purana. People born in the last ten years never saw past spaceships fly into outer space. Based on the accounts of those who did see it, however, the new generation can accept the journeys as factual. In the same way, we can understand that God definitely did lift a massive hill in sport, turning it into a pastime umbrella.

Narasimhadeva with PrahladaHe’s done so many other things as well, sometimes working through His proxies. His expansion, Lord Shiva, once drank up poison in order to avert a disaster. His heroic devotee, Shri Hanuman, once lifted a mountain and carried it elsewhere. His greatest lovers, the gopis of Vrindavana, think about Him all the time, even when He asks them not to. His five-year old devotee, Prahlada Maharaja, amazingly survives a fall from a cliff, an encounter with snakes in a pit, and an attack of deadly weapons coming his way. Prahlada’s story alone is enough to warm the heart day after day.

There are so many historical events relating to the Supreme Lord that one needn’t rely on other accounts to satisfy their inquisitiveness. The Mahabharata features all issues of social life, such as backstabbing, lying, marriage, politics and war. Since the topics deal with God and His activities, they are transcendental, and can thus be heard over and over again. The fact that we still speak of the Ramayana, Mahabharata and Puranas today is evidence of God’s superiority.

In Closing:

To satisfy the inquisitive mind,

Wealth of info in Vedas to find.


How Lord Krishna Govardhana Hill did lift,

And Hanuman to Lakshmana brought life-saving gift.


Prahlada Maharaja, though of only five years,

His devotion to God daily to inspire tears.


In hearing such topics devotees never tire,

Like in consumption the unsatisfied burning fire.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Spreading Yourself Too Thin

Lord Krishna“And yet everything that is created does not rest in Me. Behold My mystic opulence! Although I am the maintainer of all living entities, and although I am everywhere, still My Self is the very source of creation.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.5)

Bhagavad-gita, 9.5“I can’t handle all of this. It’s getting to be too much. I am certainly skilled in my particular area of expertise. I can do what is asked of me, but I need to work sequentially. If I work on many things simultaneously, with my progress stopped, nothing will get done. There will be no focus. Give me one task and allow me the time to complete it. Don’t interrupt me during that task, either. Otherwise I will lose my momentum.

“Even when I finish my task, it’s not like I can just pick up a new one right away. After a labor intensive effort I am mentally drained. You see the same thing with athletes. They don’t win all of their matches, especially if they have to play many of them in a row. Physically they can handle the toll, but mentally they get exhausted after a while. And the hard work makes it difficult to concentrate on other things. I can’t be expected to handle all the affairs of the home if I have so much to do at work. I can’t travel here and there all the time and still manage all of my personal relationships. Something has to give. I am not God.”

Indeed, spreading yourself too thin is not good for you in the long run, especially if longevity is something you value. It is seen that when an athlete rises to prominence, if he spends too much time partying, giving interviews, and making commercials, his performance on the field of play suffers. This only makes sense. If he’s posing in front of a camera, he’s not practicing. If he’s out partying, he’s not training. The same cause and effect applies to all kinds of work. While the human being is limited in its ability to do many things at one time, the same is not the case for the Supreme Lord. This allows one way to further understand Him.

The concept of “God” is so vague that pretty much anyone can offer their opinion and have it duly noted. God is an order supplier. God is a person who loves unconditionally. God is the all-powerful. God is a punisher of the sinners. Yet the specifics to these areas are often lacking, and the specifics are necessary due to the nature of duality. If He is an order supplier, what is it exactly that He supplies? What is good for me may not be so for you. If He is the all-powerful, what does He use His potency for? The police use force to thwart the criminals, while the criminals use force to steal the property of others. If God punishes the sinners, who exactly are they? What constitutes a sin? And aren’t all of us sinners to some degree? So we just make a profession of faith and gain immunity from His punishment?

In the Bhagavad-gita, these questions are answered. In it God is portrayed as an all-beautiful youth whose name is Krishna. He claims to be the original Personality of Godhead, the source of all other manifestations of God. He is also the source of all living sparks, the group to which we belong. The claims are supported through truths that can be understood by the rational thinking adult whose mind is not closed off through fears borne of sectarianism or prejudice of foreign traditions.

Bhagavad-gita, 15.15“I am seated in everyone's heart, and from Me come remembrance, knowledge and forgetfulness. By all the Vedas am I to be known; indeed I am the compiler of Vedanta, and I am the knower of the Vedas.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 15.15)

Lord KrishnaOne of the facts given by Krishna is that He resides within everyone’s heart. He is the best well-wisher. His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada would close all of his correspondence to his disciples with: “your ever well-wisher.” This was a truthful statement. He inherited that trait from the person whom he served, namely Krishna. The Supreme Lord is the original ever well-wisher, which means that at no time does He not wish the best for each and every one of us.

By residing within our heart He is always with us. From His residence there we know that He is the best friend. And at the same time, He is neutral. He doesn’t directly involve Himself in our activities. That which helps to keep us further away from a relationship with Him is not recommended by Him. He disposes, as He is the original supplier of all orders, but this doesn’t mean that He necessarily has an interest in what He distributes. The vending machine dispenses candy to both the good and bad person alike. The vending machine is not to blame for what results from the consumption of its products. In the same way, God is not implicated in the action that results from the gifts He bestows to all.

While our presence is limited to the local space, Krishna’s is not. He is automatically with everyone. Thus He is the all-pervading witness, antaryami. From this we know that He can spread His influence infinitely wide. His localized presence is known as the Paramatma, or Supersoul. We are known as jivatma, or individual soul. As an individual soul we can get overwhelmed if we spread ourselves too thin with respect to activities. Krishna cannot be overwhelmed. He does everything, including create and maintain the universe. And while He’s doing that, He accompanies everyone in their journey through life. He has been with everyone before and will continue to be with them going forward.

Lord KrishnaThrough it all, He is not phased in the slightest. He can even appear in the material land in a spiritual form to bless the eyes of the pure souls. While He is lifting a massive hill or delivering profound words of wisdom on a battlefield, He is still the Supreme Lord. He is still within everyone, watching their every move. He is still standing by, waiting for the individual souls to turn their consciousness towards Him.

From the Bhagavad-gita we get a better idea of what exactly God’s omnipresence entails. He is certainly everywhere, and since that is the case, at any place and time one can connect with Him. As forgetfulness pays no attention to time or circumstance, remembrance is the same way. Right now, today, at this very moment, anyone can perfect their existence by thinking of Krishna, who is the universal God. One can chant His names and feel His divine presence that has always been with them: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

In Closing:

So many responsibilities my brain to wrack,

So many things too much for me to keep track.


Know for sure that God I am not,

Have complete control I certainly do not.


From personal stress get meaning more exact,

Of God, who all work does without negative impact.


So much going on, still with us He does stay,

Waiting for our consciousness to look His way.

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.