Saturday, July 27, 2013

A House of Fun

Worship at home“If one is in full Krishna consciousness, he can make his home very happy because this process of Krishna consciousness is very easy. One need only chant Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare, accept the remnants of foodstuffs offered to Krishna, have some discussion on books like Bhagavad-gita and Shrimad-Bhagavatam, and engage oneself in Deity worship. These four will make one happy.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 13.8-12 Purport)

“Alright, we’ve finally bought our first house. We got an amazing deal. This really nice person was looking to sell, and we just happened to show up at the right time. After living in apartments for so long, we decided it was time we would own our own place. This one is just right. More than enough rooms, allowing for us to be creative.

“This room will be the living room. My wife has certain ideas on how it will look. She wants a certain set of couches. Then she wants the television to go in that corner. The room isn’t that big, but if we orient the furniture in the right way, we can make it look bigger. The kitchen area has this open space that allows you to see into the living room. This way people who are hanging out in the kitchen can watch television too. They can talk to the people who aren’t in the kitchen. This will be ideal for parties.

“The backyard is where I will have the most fun. I need to clear out some bushes and make room for plants. Then the patio needs to be extended. In the summertime we will host many a soiree back here. Our friends will be invited over, and they will never want to leave because they will be having so much fun. I want to install an awning too. On a hot summer day we can then just hang out outside. We won’t feel the scorching rays of the sun, but it will feel as if we are not confined to the insides of the house.

home office“I will spend time setting up an office too. This will be my room for doing work on the computer and such. If for any reason I can’t go into work on a given day, I can still find a way to get my work done from home. I won’t be tempted to sleep, either. This room will help me to be productive. As it is away from the other rooms, it is much more quiet. I will need to buy a computer, some furniture, and maybe another television.

“The bedroom should be nice as well. We have so much space, it looks like a living room. Therefore maybe we will put a couch in there too. This way neither one of us will have to read in bed. There’s a fireplace in there too; perfect for those cold winter nights. I’m so excited about the new house. It is like the playing field for my creative mind.”

Though it may not seem like it, each human being is filled with potential for action. Just a little spark is needed and pretty soon the same person who was previously lazy can go on creating for hours and hours. The young adolescent who is so into their music can practice playing their instrument for hours on end. Another child plays their favorite video game for the same amount of time. All the greats in their field were like this as children; they spent hours perfecting their craft.

Cliff Burton playing bassFrom the oldest spiritual science we learn that the individual has the most fun when serving. By extension, this means that the best use of the potential for action is dovetailing it with some kind of service. If you’re into playing music, play in such a way that you will serve others. This will make you happiest. If you enjoy creating art, pour your heart into something that will put a smile on someone else’s face.

And if you’re into decorating and making the perfect arrangement, find a way to use your energy to satisfy someone besides yourself. This need for service is not simply a way to avoid selfishness, greed, and covetousness. It is part of the nature of the soul, which is the identifying force within all of us. The soul’s innate desire to serve is known as its dharma, which is an essential characteristic. Just as we know water from its wetness, fire from its heat and light, and earth from its feel, we can know the soul from its attraction towards service.

The question then remains: whom should we serve? Is there a singular person, or does it vary based on circumstance? The same spiritual science says that the ideal service is directed at the Supreme Soul, the origin of all matter and spirit. He can be found through the same senses that interact with the rest of nature. He doesn’t have to be a figment of the imagination or a figure subscribed to through blind faith. He can be heard, smelled, touched, seen and tasted.

How can we do this?

Flowers offered at Krishna's lotus feetThe same house that was slated for personal enjoyment can be used for endless fun activities that allow for the interaction mentioned above. One room can be reserved for cooking in service. Another can be reserved for congregating so that worship can take place. Another room can be reserved for sleeping, wherein the worshipers rest up for the upcoming day’s offering of service. The backyard can be used for growing beautiful flowers to be used in offerings. If there is a larger property, the field can be used for growing food to be offered and then tasted.

The above uses describe the purpose to a temple, or a house of worship. It is a place of endless fun activities. And yes, spiritual life should be fun. It should be enjoyable. Why else would we take to it? We tend to think of it in the opposite manner: no fun at all. All those rules and regulations mentioned are actually a way to flip the consciousness from the mentality of self-enjoyer to Superself-enjoyer. The Superself is God, the Almighty. The comparison to the ordinary self is one way to understand Him. He is like us, only much greater. He is a personality, but a supreme one.

Worshiping Radha and KrishnaThe description above of temple activities can take place on a smaller scale inside of any home. Even if there isn’t a separate room to spare for worship, just any area inside of an existing room can be isolated for worship. A statue or picture representation of one of the Supreme Lord’s non-different forms can be placed there and honored as the master of the house, the chief guest who never has to leave. In this way God can be seen. The family can offer the deity flowers and food every day, offerings of the right caliber so that they will be accepted. In this way God can be smelled and tasted. He can be felt by touching the same offerings made to Him.

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

Most importantly, the Lord can be heard by regularly reciting His holy names, like those found in the maha-mantra: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. This mantra can be recited to oneself in what is known as japa or it can be sung in so many different melodies in what is known as kirtana. When the singing takes place with other devoted souls, the practice is known as sankirtana, or the great chanting. As God is the original proprietor of everything, the supreme enjoyer and the best friend of every one of us, shifting our life in His direction, especially from within the home, allows for endless fun.

In Closing:

Moving into new home soon,

Have got plans for every room.


Weeds and bushes down to tear,

Patio here and garden there.


Same enthusiasm for work take,

And transcendental your home make.


Flowers, food and water with devotion give,

To Supreme Lord, with endless fun to live.

Friday, July 26, 2013


Prabhupada books“Transcendental knowledge of Shri Krishna is deeper than the impersonal knowledge of Brahman, for it includes knowledge of not only His form and personality but also everything else related to Him. There is nothing in existence not related to Shri Krishna.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Chaitanya Charitamrita, Adi 1.51 Purport)

Whenever we know a group of people based only on a certain subject matter, we tend to think that they are narrow-minded. After all, if all they are consumed with is that one kind of behavior, wherein they make it their life from morning until night, then what are we left to think? “The human being has an advanced intelligence, so it should broaden its horizons. It should explore the world, taking in new experiences. It should meet new people, find new adventures, and in that way become more knowledgeable.” For one group in particular, however, since their focus is on the origin of matter and spirit, they automatically become knowledgeable of everything else.

Their study is of Krishna, which is a Sanskrit word for the Almighty. The word means “all-attractive” and also “blackish,” both of which apply to a specific personality. That personality is a male, is all-pervading, lives in a spiritual abode, has an enchanting smile, surrounds Himself with the best people in the world, and gives an open invitation for any living being to come and play with Him.

Since He lives forever, He can be studied forever. Since He is the origin of everything, He created every single field of study. He might not have done it on purpose and He might not have visibly ignited the first spark of innovation, but if you trace things back far enough you reach Him. For instance, Krishna did not directly create the guidebook on how to succeed in a specific video game. He also did not create the manual for the automobile that you drive. He did, however, create the field of activity that is the material world. That field consists of earth, water, fire, air and ether.

Bhagavad-gita, 7.4“Earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind, intelligence and false ego - altogether these eight comprise My separated material energies.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.4)

Krishna and ArjunaThe body of the living entity is also a kind of field created by Him. The same five elements combine to create the bodies of the various species, and then there are three subtle elements as well: mind, intelligence and ego. The player on the field is the spirit soul, who is the individual. He originally comes from Krishna too. The player then finds ways to manipulate things on the field for his personal enjoyment, finding any way possible to ignore God’s presence. But without the field and without the player, there would be no question of studying anything. Therefore the owner of the field is ultimately credited, and that owner is Krishna.

These facts all come from studying Krishna. The apparently narrow-minded person accepts a perspective not found in any other endeavor. The world traveler would never stumble upon these facts. Neither would the person who studied all the historic literatures ever assembled. Indeed, even if you happened to stumble upon works that contain Krishna’s direct words, like the Bhagavad-gita and Shrimad Bhagavatam, you may not realize these facts. The proof is that so many famous personalities of the past have studied the Bhagavad-gita and yet never came to know that Krishna is the origin of everything.

Prabhupada booksThe devotional life is the only way to know. The same study of the Gita, but done under the guidance of someone who actually knows Krishna, uncovers the higher intelligence. In addition to learning of the field and the player, the devotee is apprised of the various desires in life. Every tendency is then derived from there. Every type of behavior is easily predicted, or at least understood, when the desires are known. In this way psychology is accounted for. The same goes for anthropology. Biology, physics and chemistry are also well-represented in Krishna’s works. They are not provided in the detail of the material level, as that level isn’t considered to be so important. The animals don’t know biology, physics or chemistry and their basic needs are acquired just fine. The human being’s advanced intelligence is earmarked for understanding God. Topics like metaphysics are presented to help one understand God. There is no other purpose to such knowledge.

The Bhagavad-gita discusses the highest philosophy, a philosophy which is almost accidentally understood by one who studies Krishna. Philosophy is meant to guide behavior, and since the best behavior is devotional service, naturally its subject matter would constitute the highest philosophy. Since devotional service, also known as bhakti-yoga, is difficult to practice due to so many distractions, the philosophy describing it is very comprehensive. It also expands constantly, just like Krishna. Today we have a definition of God, but there is still the future to consider. In the future so many more things will happen, and since they will all ultimately be attributed to God, His definition will continue to expand. In that expansion, the study of serving Him also increases.

Six Gosvamis of VrindavanaGovernment, economics, philanthropy, wealth management, and all other topics are included in study of Krishna. The Gosvamis of Vrindavana wrote so much literature during their time about Krishna and devotion to Him. And know that whatever they produced, it could have been so much more were it not for the circumstances of the time. These saints didn’t have laptop computers, blogs, digital printing presses and the like. And still they left so much valuable literature that one would have to spend an entire lifetime just trying to consume it all.

Know that although the devotee’s primary engagement is the chanting of the holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare,” they are still the most broad-minded person. They understand that devotion is the birthright of every single creature, not just the humans or those born in India. They know that the Vedas present real knowledge that is applicable to every single person. They know to accept those things which are favorable for devotional service and reject those which aren’t. Best of all, they know Krishna, who is the only person worth studying lifetime after lifetime.

In Closing:

With such a narrow focus to choose,

In knowledge devotee nothing to lose.


How God played a hand in all to see,

Purpose of any philosophy should be.


Though repeating mantra always the same,

So much potency through just the holy name.


Understand so much of the nature around you,

When studying Krishna of complexion dark blue.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Attachment Sets Me Free

Lord Krishna“The influence of devotional service is such that when a person engages in it, he gives up all material desires and becomes fully attached to Krishna, being inspired by the transcendental qualities of the Lord. Such is the beauty of the Lord in the eyes of His devotee.” (Teachings of Lord Chaitanya, Ch 16)

“I don’t know about this whole thing. Seems like an awful lot and way too fast. What’s wrong with having a beer every now and then? I don’t even drink that much, just on social occasions. Perhaps once every couple of months the people from work go out to have a good time. If I tell them that I’m not drinking because it is part of the four regulative principles, they will not understand. If I have just one or two drinks, they won’t think anything of it, and in the end it won’t hurt me that much.

“Being vegetarian isn’t that difficult for me, but what about eggs? I’ve heard that eggs are produced from something similar to menstrual cycles in chickens, that the eggs will never become chickens. Therefore there is no violence involved. And isn’t violence the thing we’re trying to avoid with the ‘no meat-eating’ rule? They put eggs in almost everything too, especially desserts. If I give up eggs, I really can’t eat out much. I will have to make everything myself, which I don’t have time for.

japa mala“Chanting sixteen rounds a day of the maha-mantra, ‘Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare,’ seems a little redundant too. I think it’s better to chant just one round of this mantra and really concentrate. Who has time for sixteen rounds, either? I will have to wake up so much earlier each day. This means there will be added pressure in going to sleep the night before. It’s bad enough to have the deadline of showing up to work each day. Now I will have one more added responsibility on top of everything else.

Bhagavad-gita, 16.1-3“The Blessed Lord said: Fearlessness, purification of one's existence, cultivation of spiritual knowledge, charity, self-control, performance of sacrifice, study of the Vedas, austerity and simplicity; nonviolence, truthfulness, freedom from anger; renunciation, tranquility, aversion to faultfinding, compassion and freedom from covetousness; gentleness, modesty and steady determination; vigor, forgiveness, fortitude, cleanliness, freedom from envy and the passion for honor - these transcendental qualities, O son of Bharata, belong to godly men endowed with divine nature.” (Bhagavad-gita, 16.1-3)

“In your book of choice, the Bhagavad-gita, there are so many attributes described that are difficult to acquire. I know that I should be of an equal mind, that I shouldn’t get too high or too low, but accomplishing this is very difficult. Arjuna himself says that to control the mind is to control the wind, which is impossible. Then there is the central rule to live by: you have a right to work, but not to the fruits. Don’t be attached to the fruits of your labor. That’s easier said than done. I work precisely for the rewards that come later. If I’m not attached to them, I won’t work. If I don’t work, I won’t eat. If I don’t eat, I won’t live, which defeats the entire purpose.

Sita and Rama“I tell you one thing, though. I really like the characters from the Ramayana. I especially like Sita Devi, the wife of Lord Rama. I can’t explain it, but just seeing her name brightens my day. It makes me so happy that she is God’s wife. Rama must be God in order to have a wife like Sita. From my attachment to her, I automatically like Rama. Since Rama is so great, I especially like Lakshmana. His undying love for Rama, sometimes exhibited in a fiery manner, brings tears to my eyes.

“Then there is Hanuman. No one can say a bad word about him. No one on this earth has ever done so much for one person. Hanuman did it without motive too. He didn’t want anything from Rama. He simply loved. That’s it. He was heroic, undeterred, and very intelligent. He didn’t just let his emotions get the better of him each time. He fought through the difficulties. He lived the principles of the Gita long before they were made famous in the discussion with Arjuna.

“I know that Krishna is the same Rama, the same Supreme Personality of Godhead. I know that His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada is so dedicated to Krishna. I like that about him. I can’t really understand all his purports to his translated verses of the Gita, but I know that his heart is in the right place. Unlike other commentators I have read, Prabhupada does not cheat the reader. He stands up for Krishna, in the same way that Lakshmana does for Rama. Thus I feel safe reading Prabhupada’s works.

Shrila Prabhupada“Since Prabhupada worked so hard to bring to the world the light of the Bhagavad-gita in an authorized way, I appreciate his devotees. Despite their occasional aggressiveness in trying to persuade me to change my behavior, I know that they are only dutifully serving their spiritual master. He is someone I like very much, and his disciples are like his children. Therefore I automatically appreciate them. Because of that appreciation I will try to spend as much time with them as possible, supporting them in any way I can.”

From this hypothetical scenario, we see that just from attachment to a single worshipable personality, all good things can come. In the present material existence, we are accustomed to so many bad habits, sometimes mistakenly considering them to be pious. Therefore when real religious principles are presented to us, they seem too difficult to follow. Despite all the sound arguments given to us, we remain obstinate. And yet from attachment to one person, we can follow good behavior without even knowing it.

Pretty soon, the good qualities that we previously thought were impossible to acquire are easily attained. From this fact know that attachment to the right people is the most important attachment to have. It is higher than good works, knowledge, or mysticism. Good works may get me somewhere that is apparently more comfortable, but then what do I do? In acquiring knowledge I may learn the difference between matter and spirit, but then what? If I have great mystic abilities, how should I use them?

It should also be noted that these three paths don’t automatically purify one’s existence. I may reach a higher stature through good deeds, and then I could exploit that higher stature to cause harm to someone else. I may also falsely think that I am superior to someone else, when in fact all I have is a better temporary material situation. In higher knowledge, I could falsely think that I am God, the source of all matter and spirit. If I am God, why did I need to study to reach that divine nature? I could also use my mystic abilities to manipulate others to satisfy my sense urges, making me no different than an animal in desires.

On the other hand, if I have an attachment to God or one of His devotees, even if I’m lacking knowledge and good deeds, I can still find the straightened path and remain on it. My low birth also doesn’t relegate me to an inferior consciousness. The attachment is the most important one to have, as from it I will be surrounded by the best people, who keep only my best interests at heart.

“A pure devotee becomes attached to Krishna by hearing the Lord's glories. The Lord's glories and the Lord Himself are identical. One has to be qualified to understand this Absolute Truth; therefore one should be given a chance to associate with a pure devotee.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Chaitanya Charitamrita, Madhya 24.98 Purport)

Lord KrishnaHow do I become attached? The Vedas facilitate this for us. They describe the Supreme Lord’s personal forms and His associates. They go into great detail, through both a theoretical and historical presentation, to give us plenty of ways to understand God and become attached to Him. Since He is all-attractive, He is known as Krishna. Since He is the reservoir of transcendental pleasure, He is known as Rama. His energy is always with Him and undeviating in His service. That energy is addressed as Hare.

These personalities also have transcendental activities, or lila. Just as we like to hear stories about famous people, we can derive even greater pleasure hearing about Krishna and His associates. From that hearing an attachment surely develops, especially if we are pure of heart. The Supreme Lord then notices that attachment and sets the wheels in motion for it to only strengthen. He sends His representative, the spiritual master, who guides us the rest of the way. The guru further purifies, though we may not even know it. We eventually achieve the best state, and it could all be attributed to that initial attachment.

In Closing:

For regulative principles have no taste,

Rather in frivolous sports time to waste.


Vows for drinking and eating too hard to keep,

Rather I would have fun and enjoy deep sleep.


But for one personality an attachment is there,

Same for the person for whom they care.


Because of that some respect I will show,

Soon in company of devotees to go.


Keeping that attachment in mind,

State of transcendence to find.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Bless You My Son

Puja“King Dasharatha worshiped Vishvamitra and gave charity to the brahmanas. For the sake of Rama’s great auspiciousness, he performed all the auspicious rites.” (Janaki Mangala, 123)

rāyam̐ kausikahi pūji dāna bipranha die |
rāma sumangala hetu sakala mangala kie ||

“O my child, you are so precious. You look so innocent today. How will you remain safe? You can barely keep together just laying down. Someone has to hold your head when they pick you up. They have to feed you when you get hungry and clean you when the time is right. Still, I have never been happier than today. I will love you with all my heart. You are my life now. I vow to protect you until my dying day. I will do whatever it takes to make your life successful.”

There’s no doubt that becoming a father changes a person. The miracle of birth brings newfound feelings of protection and caretaking. In the case of a famous king a long time ago, the fruit of his eyes was received with his new son. This son would one day take over the throne. It was the son who almost never arrived, as the king had been childless for so long. As soon as the child emerged from the womb of the eldest queen, the king vowed to protect Him for the rest of His life. And he most certainly did, though the child required not this protection. The king kept his son on his mind until his very dying day, bringing the most auspicious end to life.

“But I’ve heard from the Vedas that having attachments is bad. This information is found in the Bhagavad-gita, which is the scripture most often used for lecturing by swamis and panditas. You’re not supposed to be attached. You’re supposed to carry out your work as a matter of fact, out of obligation. Whatever the results may be, you should not mind them. This way your consciousness will be clear. If this king was so attached to his son, isn’t that a bad thing?”

Bhagavad-gita, 2.48“Be steadfast in yoga, O Arjuna. Perform your duty and abandon all attachment to success or failure. Such evenness of mind is called yoga.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.48)

Bhagavad-gita As It IsAttachment and aversion will always be there. Let’s say that I read the verses from the Bhagavad-gita, a Vedic song originally put into written word some five thousand years ago but whose truths are eternally relevant, that describe the need to stay detached from outcomes and I take them to heart. “Okay, from now on I will not sweat the small stuff so much. From this Gita I understand that the body identifies neither me nor anyone else. The soul inside is our essence. Just as the central processing unit is what gives life to the computer, without the soul no being can be considered alive. I will not be so concerned with birth and death, because such things are only temporary, like the rising and setting of the sun. I will follow my work without attachment. I will stay level-headed. The speaker of the Gita, Shri Krishna, says that one who follows this path is very dear to Him. As He is the origin of matter and spirit, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, being dear to Him should be to my benefit.”

Bhagavad-gita, 12.17“One who neither grasps pleasure or grief, who neither laments nor desires, and who renounces both auspicious and inauspicious things, is very dear to Me.” (Lord Krishna, Bg. 12.17)

Ah, but even in this situation there is an attachment. Namely, it is to the principle of staying detached. Seems like circular logic, but it is nevertheless true. If I constantly tell myself to stay detached, and then I get upset when I become attached to something, that strict adherence to the principle is itself an attachment. So in this sense there is always some attachment and aversion. The principles put forth in the Bhagavad-gita apply specifically to karma, or work that has a material effect. Material means the body and not the soul. Thus to have attachment to work that benefits the soul does not violate the principles of the Gita.

“Okay, but this king was attached to his son. The son is just a bodily relation. The soul can appear in any family. There is nothing really special then about this relation or that. Why was the king taken in by maya, then, which is the illusory energy that covers the spiritual presence in the eyes of the conditioned souls?”

This king’s son was the very same Krishna. That is why His appearance in the king’s family was the happiest day in the life of the king. And that is why thinking of this son was the best ending to the king’s life. The king was named Dasharatha and his eldest son Rama. Rama is a name for God and also a way to reference the personality who appeared as King Dasharatha’s eldest son. Rama is a genuine incarnation of God, not one created on a whim. He was not assigned deity status after His time on earth. He was God before, during and after the events of the famous Ramayana.

Lord RamaIn the above referenced verse from the Janaki Mangala, we get further details on the nature of Dasharatha and his affection for Rama. The scene here is Rama’s marriage to the eldest daughter of King Janaka. Dasharatha pays obeisance to the spiritual guide Vishvamitra. The king was very powerful. His name means one who can fight ten chariots simultaneously. The chariots come from the ten different directions, and he can battle them all. Thus he was a superior fighter, and therefore perfectly eligible to rule over the wonderful kingdom in Ayodhya.

And yet Dasharatha still bowed down and worshiped someone who had nothing. Vishvamitra was not a fighter. He called the remote wilderness his home. Still, the sage’s strength was so great because of his devotion to God. He was a brahmana, or priest, and so he could guide everyone in society. The king protected and the priest guided. Vishvamitra also had a major hand in making this marriage a reality. He had previously taken Rama and His younger brother Lakshmana with him to the forest. He wanted the boys to protect all the sages from the attacks of wicked night-rangers. The brothers were mere teenagers at the time, and yet Vishvamitra knew that no one could defeat them in battle. They made the sages proud as well as the father Dasharatha. It was no surprise that a king who could fight ten chariots would have sons who could fight ghoulish creatures who could change their shapes at will.

Dasharatha also gave in charity to the brahmanas who were there. Under ideal circumstances, the priests don’t work for a living. They don’t need much to survive, and whatever they need is provided by society. Giving charity to brahmanas by quality and occupation is the only legitimate form of charity. It yields the best results in the future. Dasharatha did all the auspicious rites, all for the sake of Rama’s auspiciousness. He wanted everything to go right for his son. If he had to, the king would give up his own life for Rama’s welfare.

Rama leaving for the forestThat same dedication would be there in his son, who would renounce the throne and live in the wilderness for fourteen years just to save the honor of His father. Thus there was mutual adoration. The level of affection between father and son could not be measured. From this we understand that Rama was a fit son for Dasharatha and Dasharatha the most worthy father. Here he protected Rama by performing the auspicious rites.

Dasharatha was a famous king with access to great wealth to give in charity, but any person can perform similar rites to effect the same purpose. Rama is God, so He doesn’t require protection, but if one tries to offer it anyway, who is He to reject it? In fact, such an offering will make Him so pleased that He will guarantee that person’s protection in the future. He does this by staying within their mind, which is the best way to live. The most auspicious rite for the present age is the chanting of the holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare,” which brings supreme auspiciousness to both Rama and all those associated with Him.

In Closing:

Worship of guru and charity he gave,

King in the proper way did behave.


So that all auspiciousness would come,

For Shri Rama, his most precious son.


Not in maya upon closer examination,

Spiritual was king’s determination.


To protect God is desire the best,

Wish granted, king eternally blessed.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Hundreds of Ways

Dasharatha with Lakshmana and Rama“Taking them in his lap, the king was very happy in the heart. His incomparable bliss cannot be explained even by Ananta Shesha Naga.” (Janaki Mangala, 122)

hṛdayam̐ lāi lie goda moda ati bhūpahi |
kahi na sakahiṃ sata seṣa ananda anūpahiṃ ||

The famous brothers Sanatana and Rupa Gosvami had a younger brother named Anupama. He was a devotee of God as Lord Ramachandra, therefore he felt that he couldn’t properly worship Shri Krishna along with Radha, who were the worshipable figures of choice for his elder brothers and their spiritual master, Lord Chaitanya. He was still very blessed and considered Mahaprabhu to be none other than Krishna Himself, who is God. The Lord is ananta-rupam, or with unlimited forms. This doesn’t mean that everything and everyone is God Himself, but there are still many non-different forms that are worshipable. In this instance the worship is directly engaged in by King Dasharatha, and the bliss he felt in that worship was incomparable.

Anupama means incomparable, so here it is applied to the brother Anupama’s worshipable object of choice, Shri Rama. The scene in question is a marriage ceremony from an ancient time. Though this marriage took place many thousands of years ago, there was nothing lacking. Accustomed to our present surroundings, we think that we need electricity, large screens, limousines, speakers, and a grand banquet hall in order to have a fancy wedding, but actually through nature’s arrangement all necessary opulence is supplied. What you really need to make a good wedding is love. And love in its purest form exists only with God. When it’s His wedding, there is ample love to go around. In any time period, that wedding is enjoyed, even by those who only hear about it.

King Dasharatha with familyKing Dasharatha was the father of the groom. His son Rama was going to marry Sita, King Janaka’s daughter. The bridegroom’s party arrived from Ayodhya and everyone in both families was thrilled beyond belief. In this scene Dasharatha is taking Rama and His younger brother Lakshmana on his lap to show them affection. He was a good father who was so happy to see his sons after a long time spent apart from them.

Family ancestry, physical proximity, and country of origin are of no concern in ordinary love. Love as we know it crosses all boundaries. Why, then, shouldn’t it be the same with God? Why can’t you love someone immediately upon seeing them, especially when they are full of all good qualities? Dasharatha was so happy when he saw the two brothers, and his heart became filled with bliss. That bliss could not be described even by Ananta Shesha Naga.

Think of the breaking news story. Perhaps a new spiritual leader has been announced. You tune to one television network to see what’s going on. They have their reporters on the scene giving you the play by play. Then they have the analysts discussing what just happened. After that, they more or less speculate. The news filters out slowly, so to fill the time the on-air talent has to talk. If you don’t have many facts to go off of, the only way to keep the conversation going is to speculate about this or that.

Now imagine if all the other television networks were covering the same story. You could flip from channel to channel and hear from their reporters. The media is typically centrally located. The newsmakers give their information in press releases and press conferences. This way there usually isn’t just one media source that gets an exclusive. Each bureau hears the same things and then reports on it in different ways. After surfing a few channels, you notice that there isn’t much new to report. Eventually, the coverage starts to get boring, and you are left to wait for the next big story.

Lord RamaWith the Supreme Lord and His devotees, all things are so significant that a thousand networks wouldn’t suffice for proper coverage. And this can be said of describing just the joyous emotions. This isn’t necessarily to report on a specific action or event. Here Dasharatha hugged Rama and Lakshmana. How many ways are you going to describe that? Ah, but if you want to talk about Dasharatha’s emotion, his unrivalled happiness, you couldn’t properly explain that even if you had a thousand mouths all talking at once.

That is the opinion given here by Goswami Tulsidas. Ananta Shesha Naga, or Anantadeva, is a divine serpent who has a seemingly endless number of hoods. He constantly engages in glorifying God, and in that glorification he never reaches an end. He is also at this scene, having incarnated on earth as Lakshmana. Lakshmana is always with Rama, so he has the best information to use in glorification. Through his example he shows what the best implementation of bhakti-yoga, or devotional service, looks like. That occupation is the original one, which has a corresponding original consciousness. And in that consciousness there is no end to the glorification of God, which brings incomparable bliss.

Dasharatha felt so happy to be with the beautiful, chivalrous, courageous, strong, and pious two brothers from Ayodhya and to have them with him again. His happiness makes the devotees happy, since they know from his example that no other reward can compare to the association of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. And that reward brings the great gift of endless glorification, which ensures that there will never be a poverty of available activity for the devoted soul.

In Closing:

Held two sons with great affection and care,

Love in his heart was without compare.


Anupama without compare it means,

Appropriate for love in this scene.


Anantadeva with hoods too many to count,

Task of endless glorification he mounts.


Still to accurately describe no way,

Rama and Lakshmana in king’s heart to stay.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Meeting the Ultimate Objective

Rama and Lakshmana“Then Vishvamitra went to the guest area, taking Rama and Lakshmana. The barat party became extremely joyful looking at them, with love filling their hearts.” (Janaki Mangala, 121)

ge janavāsahiṃ kausika rāma lakhana lie |
haraṣe nirakhi barāta prema premudita hie ||

Harsha is a word used often in Vedic literature. The Janaki Mangala is rightly classified as Vedic literature because it describes the pastimes of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, especially focusing on His marriage to the daughter of King Janaka during an ancient time period. Harsha is the happiness specific to obtaining the ultimate objective. It is a joy like no other, and not surprisingly it is properly used here by Goswami Tulsidas to describe the happiness of the people from Ayodhya.

“Harsha is described in the Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu. Harsha is experienced when one finally attains the desired goal of life and consequently becomes very glad. When harsha is present, the body shivers, and one’s bodily hairs stand on end. There are perspiration, tears and an outburst of passion and madness.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Chaitanya Charitamrita, Madhya 3.127 Purport)

The exact events of the Ramayana aren’t always the same. The universe goes through cycles of creation and destruction. Just like you may go to the office for five days out of each week and not every day will feature the same events, the creation sees the appearance and disappearance of the Supreme Lord in various ages. Mostly the events are carried out in the same fashion, but sometimes there are slight differences. Sometimes more details are given in certain written versions as well. The accounts available to us today are not limited to the present age. We get descriptions from past and future ages as well. There are innumerable universes, and everywhere some pastime of Rama’s is going on. Somewhere right now He is appearing on earth in His original form of Krishna. Somewhere right now He is lifting the mighty Govardhana Hill to save the residents of Vrindavana from the wrath of the king of heaven. And somewhere right now He is entering the guest tent set up by King Janaka for the marriage of his daughter.

Maharishi ValmikiWith respect to the timeline of the current creation, the original telling of Rama’s pastimes is found in the Ramayana, a Sanskrit poem authored by Maharishi Valmiki. In that work it is said that Rama didn’t marry Sita, Janaka’s daughter, right away because He didn’t know the opinion of His father, King Dasharatha of Ayodhya. Rama won the bow contest, lifting the bow before any other prince could. Many of them tried, but they all failed. This was a big achievement, and Sita was certainly beautiful in all respects. And yet Rama still didn’t make the decision for marriage on His own. He is God, so He doesn’t need anyone’s permission to do anything. But as Rama He especially pays attention to social etiquette, setting a good example for others to follow.

“Though being offered to Rama, I was not accepted by Him at the time, for He did not know the opinion of His father Dasharatha, the King of Ayodhya.” (Sita Devi speaking to Anasuya, Valmiki Ramayana, Ayodhya Kand, 118.51)

In other areas of Vedic literature, more details of the event are given.  It is described that Janaka’s priest goes to Ayodhya to notify King Dasharatha of Rama’s accomplishment. This is what is told here by Goswami Tulsidas. After Dasharatha gave his consent, the barat party, the group from the groom’s side, arrived in Janakpur and were greeted with the utmost hospitality by the bride’s side. They were shown to tents that were guest houses and then given every amenity imaginable.

And yet their harsha didn’t come until they saw Rama and His younger brother Lakshmana with the guru Vishvamitra. They experienced the joy that comes with attaining the ultimate objective because for every person in this world the highest goal is to have love for God. And when you love someone, do you not long to see them? This longing was there in the barat party, and so they were overjoyed to get the vision of Rama again. He had left for the forest with Lakshmana to protect the forest-dwelling Vishvamitra from the attacks of vile creatures. The residents of Ayodhya understood that the mission was a success when they heard of Rama’s victory in the assembly, and now they got to see Him again.

Lakshmana and Rama with VishvamitraRama looks more beautiful when He is with Lakshmana. This is because there has never been a better younger brother in the world. Lakshmana loves Rama so much that the Lord cannot do anything to control it. Rama cannot tell Lakshmana to stay home. This will not work. We initially view God with awe and reverence, and so in that mood of devotion we likely will do whatever He tells us. Lakshmana’s love is pure, so he thinks he knows how to please Rama better than Rama does. The same attitude exists in Sita, who thus made a perfect match for Rama.

The vision was again more beautiful since it included the spiritual guide Vishvamitra. The two brothers faithfully followed him. He was the one who first led them to the assembly in Janaka’s kingdom. Thus he played an important role in this great day becoming a reality. The people of Ayodhya were so happy that Rama was going to get the perfect queen. The couple would protect them in the future, and so the people were so happy for their good fortune.

From harsha comes love. You cannot be this happy if you don’t love the party that causes your happiness. And upon attaining your objective, if you are directly connected with that person, their innocent vision will fill your heart with more love. The barat party travelled all the way to Janakpur, happily singing the entire time. Now they saw Rama and Lakshmana and their love for them increased all the more. Thus in devotional service the reservoir of emotion can never be filled. Its depths are fathomless, as are the glories of Sita and Rama.

In Closing:

Though Shiva’s bow in His hand set,

First permission of father to get.


Janaka’s guru to Ayodhya sent,

Then barat party happily went.


In best accommodations to stay,

Harsha when brothers came their way.


Accompanied by guru made a wonderful sight,

So much love from their vision so bright.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

First Class Accommodations

Celebrating Sita and Rama“The spectacle and the noise in that city of bliss were so great that it is difficult to explain. The barat party was taken to their living quarters, where they received everything you could want, new and arriving constantly.” (Janaki Mangala, Chand, 15.2)

ānandapura kautuka kolāhala banata so baranata kahām̐ |
lai diyo taham̐ janavāsa sali supāsa nita nūtana jahām̐ ||

It is standard etiquette to treat your guests with the utmost hospitality. In Vedic culture, the hospitality is to be extended to even your worst enemy. You should think that your home is the home for the guests as well. This way you don’t get puffed up with all the stuff that you have. You don’t think that you are better than anyone else because your house may have more square feet than another’s. In this instance, the hospitality related to a marriage, and the groom’s party felt so welcome that it was like they were staying at a first class hotel.

“Is their house bigger than ours? What about their sound system? I bet we can crank ours up even louder. How many bedrooms do they have? Do they have central air conditioning? I still think our house is bigger. We did good in buying this place. I am very satisfied with all that we have.”

This competitive attitude is beneficial if it leads to the offering of good hospitality. This hospitality is the primary purpose to the home. This is the injunction of the Vedas, the scriptural tradition that is the basis for the modern-day religion known as Hinduism. The Vedas present eternal truths, which are like scientific principles. They apply to all people and to all time periods. Human tendencies do not change with time. There may be a higher occurrence of sinful activity in a given age, but the tendencies with respect to likes and dislikes, attachments and aversions, do not vary. This is because the scientific makeup of the core feature in an animate creature is always the same. That core feature can never be cut up, made wet, created, destroyed, or altered in any way.

Bhagavad-gita, 2.23“The soul can never be cut into pieces by any weapon, nor can he be burned by fire, nor moistened by water, nor withered by the wind.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.23)

Lakshmana and Rama eating at homeA key Vedic principle for the householder is the offering of hospitality. Householder life is unique from the other three spiritual institutions, or ashramas. A householder is allowed sex life, and they also have a significant possession called the home. Even with this possession there is the call to offer hospitality, to give in charity, and to generally serve others. This is not a once a year occurrence, like say volunteering at a soup kitchen on Thanksgiving. Think of how good the volunteers feel on such a day. Now imagine feeling that same goodness all the time. If you feel such a way for a long enough stretch, you eventually purify your existence.

If you have a large home, that means you have the opportunity to serve more guests. Whatever they want is what should be provided. Even if you don’t like a particular food dish, if your guest does then it should be served. This only makes sense if you think about it. If you were a guest at someone else’s home, would you want to be served things that you don’t like? “Oh, but this is healthy for you. My husband and I are on a diet, so this is all that we are eating right now. Don’t worry, it doesn’t taste that bad.” This wouldn’t sit very well with us.

In the above referenced verse from the Janaki Mangala, a scene is described where a party arriving to a wedding is shown to their living quarters. This is sort of like a staging area, a place to stay before the actual wedding takes place. We see that the meeting of the two parties, the bride’s and the groom’s, was a wonderful spectacle with great noise and jubilation. The city became one of ananda, or bliss, and so the whole experience was difficult to describe.

“That country is looking so beautiful, and the Vedas have described its purity. Known in the three worlds, Tirahuta [Janakpur] is the tilaka of the earth.” (Janaki Mangala, 4)

Tirahuta_Sita_weddingIn the living quarters, the bridegroom’s party received everything they could want. Every day they got new clothes and other such items. This wasn’t required, but King Janaka, the host, did not want to hold back. He was the leader of a sacred land called Tirahuta, which is famous in the three worlds. Therefore he had a lot to offer, and he wasn’t going to be miserly in the least. The wealth of the recipients wasn’t taken into account, either. The arriving party was from Ayodhya, and it was the family of the king, Maharaja Dasharatha. Therefore they had immense wealth to offer themselves. Yet protocol dictated that Janaka provide everything to his guests.

The incident is noteworthy because it relates to the divine couple, Sita and Rama. Janaka is the chosen father of Sita and Dasharatha of Rama. Sita appeared from underneath the ground. Janaka found her while ploughing a field one day for a sacrifice. Rama appeared in the womb of Queen Kausalya after she ate the remnants of sacrifice. Thus in both cases the births were not in the conventional way. Sita and Rama appeared; they did not take birth. They can do that because they are God and His eternal consort.

Hanuman worshiping Sita and RamaGod is one, though He can take many forms. In the Bhagavad-gita, He says He appears in every millennium to annihilate the miscreants and protect the pious. The pious filled the streets and the apartments in Janakpur when Dasharatha’s family met Janaka’s at the wedding of all weddings. That same hospitality can be offered by anyone today by making God the preferred guest in the home. Deity worship is a central practice of Vedic culture for this very reason. Rather than rely on a weekly trip to a house of worship, where you might only pray for material things, one can worship every single day by presenting the best offerings. You do this by having a statue or picture representation of God that you keep in a special place in the home. Through authorized methods of worship, such as the offering of flowers, the chanting of mantras, and the preparation of pure food, you show hospitality to the invited guest, the Supreme Lord.

Just like Dasharatha’s family, Rama doesn’t need such hospitality offered by us, but He accepts it anyway. Through such practice, we purify ourselves, becoming filled with goodness in the process. And purification of our existence is the real purpose to action. In the purest state, there are no miseries like birth, old age, disease and death. There is only constant celebration, like what was seen at Sita and Rama’s wedding.

In Closing:

Guests shown to rooms with fine beds,

Daily brought new garments of finest threads.


Topmost hospitality to them was shown,

Janaka treated them as family his own.


Purpose of home in this way to share,

With possessions give others attention and care.


With deity Supreme Lord to your home invite,

With love and offerings worship Him day and night.