Saturday, August 17, 2013

The Wedding Garden

garden“The barata procession in the middle of the road looked very appropriate, like Kamadeva taking rest underneath a desire tree in a garden.” (Janaki Mangala, 125)

madhya barāta birājata ati anukūleu |
manahum̐ kāma ārāma kalapatarū phūleu ||

Here Goswami Tulsidas continues his description of the festivities that took place just prior to the marriage ceremony of Sita and Rama. The bridegroom party had arrived in Janakpur, where the host King Janaka was set to give away his daughter to the eldest son of King Dasharatha of Ayodhya. The groom, Shri Rama, was appropriately adorned with beautiful ornaments by His father. The Lord looked like the bright sun that opened up the eyes of the lotus-like world. Here the same Rama is once again compared to the god of love, Kamadeva, and His attendants to beautiful flowers within a garden.

Kamadeva is extremely beautiful, which is the reason for the reference. Similar references are used in ordinary talks. If we want to say that a woman is very beautiful, we’ll compare her appearance to that of a famous actress. The same goes for a beautiful man. The celebrities are used as frames of reference, objects for comparison. Kamadeva is described in the Vedas to be very beautiful, capable of enticing other women to enjoy with him. He also instills amorous feelings in others through the arrows that he shoots from his bow.

Kamadeva lives in the heavenly realm, which is filled with trees. These trees are not ordinary, however. They are referred to as kalpatarus and suratarus, which mean desire trees. Like a wishing well or a magic lamp, you go up to one of these trees and ask for whatever you want materially. The reward is granted immediately, making the tree like a large umbrella to give shelter. Even the lower trees, which haven’t grown to be very tall, are famous in the heavenly realm. This is because they are also desire trees, capable of granting whatever the wisher wants.

“By remembering Shri Rama’s holy name, even those who are born into a low caste become worthy of fame, just as the wild trees that line the streets in the heavenly realm are famous throughout the three worlds.” (Dohavali, 16)

TreesThe Barat procession featured Shri Rama in the center. In traditional Vedic marriages, the groom arrives riding on an elephant. There is a canopy above him, and in this scene the shade from the canopy is compared to the shade of a desire tree. The person resting underneath is compared to Kamadeva because of His beauty. The scene thus looked very appropriate, as Shri Rama is the most beautiful. This is one of the features of God.

God is also the most renounced, the most intelligent, the most wealthy, and the most famous. And on the occasion of Sita’s svayamvara, He proved that He is also the strongest. He lifted a bow that no other prince in the world could lift. This earned Him Sita’s hand in marriage, in accordance with the rules of the contest drawn up by King Janaka.

The people around the barata procession were looking very beautiful. This is the effect of devotional service enacted without motives. What did the people want for themselves? They had travelled far from Ayodhya just to see their beloved Rama get married. They wanted Him to be happy with Sita. They rejoiced as He approached the scene of the wedding. In their ecstasy, they looked like the flowers that surround the desire trees in the heavenly realm.

Rest is meant to be a state of comfort. You offer someone a nice seat or a bed so that they become more comfortable. In this sense Rama was very comfortable travelling to the marriage. His position made the revelers all the more joyous. Since He is the wealthiest, God does not require any gift from any person. He rests in the spiritual sky on the bed made by Ananta Shesha Naga, so He sleeps whenever He needs to. Nevertheless, He accepts the kind service offered to Him by the devotees. Their service makes Him very happy, and His pleasure is passed back to them.

Lord RamaTo the people of Ayodhya, Rama especially deserved the best accommodations. He never played favorites in the kingdom. As the king’s eldest son, any perk was available to Him. He could live in the largest palace, drink the finest wine, and enjoy with any woman. And yet since His very birth all He was interested in was the welfare of the citizens. The people He punished from time to time couldn’t find fault with Him. They knew that Rama never violated dharma, or religiosity.

While still a teenager, He left home for the forest. This was at the request of the sage Vishvamitra. Rama took His younger brother Lakshmana with Him. The people of Ayodhya prayed that the brothers wouldn’t get harmed while with the sage. They had good reason to worry. Vile creatures known as Rakshasas were attacking the sages in the middle of the night, killing them, and then eating their flesh. What would the people do if Rama and Lakshmana didn’t return home?

The brothers provided ample protection for Vishvamitra, and their journey eventually led them to Sita’s svayamvara. The blessed Rama made everyone so happy, including King Janaka. He deserved the best of everything. Here He travels to reunite with Sita Devi, His eternal consort. The couple is divine according to the Vedas. They are the Supreme Lord and His wife. Marriage is a spiritual institution meant for bringing the two parties closer to their original consciousness. Sita and Rama are the object of that consciousness, so their marriage is a little different. It represents the unbreakable link between the energetic and the energy. The energy like Sita never separates from Him, while the energy like us tends to alternate between devotional life and material life. Through remembering the love they have for each other, which was shown at the great ceremony that saw Rama arrive looking like the beautiful Kamadeva, the final decision in favor of devotional life can be made without reservation.

In Closing:

From attachment intent on material preservation,

Difficult to practice bhakti, devotion with reservation.


For all your doubts to finally strip away,

Your mind in marriage of Sita and Rama stay.


Safe is their shelter, like sturdy canopy,

Rama like Kamadeva under tree comfortably.


Friends and family after journey all did rejoice,

Rama to marry Sita after ceremony of self-choice.

Friday, August 16, 2013

The Ornament of Ornaments

ornaments on Shri Rama“He put the wedding ornaments on Rama, who is the ornament of ornaments. The lotus that was the eyes of the world bloomed at the sight of Him, who is the sun.” (Janaki Mangala, 124)

byāha bibhūṣana bhūṣita bhūṣana bhūṣana |
bisva bilocana banaja bikāsaka pūṣana ||

“Everyone else in this room worships Him. They bow down as soon as the curtains open. They repeat these Sanskrit verses while their heads are on the ground, and they then rise and sing in ecstasy. They tell me that this chanting is the best way for self-realization in the modern age. They hail the glories of their spiritual master, speaking endlessly about the need to preach and how so many others need to be saved from the pitfalls of material life. Despite their sincerity, for some reason I just don’t want to go along. I don’t want to be like a sheep. I’m an individual, why should I follow everyone else?”

This attitude is only natural, as when we see so many others doing a particular thing, there is one of two reactions. One is to follow the pack. Join in with everyone else. In the path of least resistance, you’re not making any waves; you’re going with the flow. The other option is rebellion. Do something different just because. You’re an individual, so you think for yourself. You don’t have to follow what everyone else says. You make up your own mind. From the above referenced verse from the Janaki Mangala, we see that real devotion to God is constitutionally sound. It is part of us. Whether we are the only ones following that devotion or part of a group that includes the entire world, the reaction is still instinctual. The object of devotion is so important to us that what others do is of no concern.

Lotus flowersHow does the verse above convey this message? It is done through the analogy to the lotus flower. The lotus flower is the symbol of beauty. It comes from nature. The most brilliant artist in the world could not conjure it up on their own. Indeed, in painting beautiful pictures, one can include one or many such flowers to enhance the image; the lotus is that beautiful.

Though its beauty is naturally occurring, there are different looks to the flower. Just as we may not appear our best in the morning right after waking up, the lotus flower isn’t as wonderful to look at when it is closed up. You don’t need to pry the petals open, though. You don’t need to chant a sacred formula to get it to open its eyes. This occurs naturally as soon as the sun comes out. Then the flower looks even more wonderful. It is like when we fully cleanse ourselves and then put on ornaments. This process is mechanical, while the transformation for the lotus flower is automatic. It is spontaneous and also without flaws. A machine may turn on properly for one hundred consecutive days and then suddenly fail, but the lotus flower will always sprout open when it sees the sun.

The flower doesn’t look at other flowers to see if they are opening up too. Its relationship to the sun is not changed by the relationship other flowers have to the same sun. The love is pure. Without the sun, the flower will not open up. It will not reveal all its glory; it waits until the sun shines its light. If the entire garden is full of lotus flowers, each flower will still hold dear its relationship to the sun.

Lord RamaThe same holds true for all of us in our constitutional relationship to the Supreme Lord. In the scene of the verse quoted above, Shri Ramachandra, God in His avatara as a beautiful warrior prince, is being seen after His father has placed wonderful wedding ornaments on Him. Lord Rama is about to get married to the princess of Videha, Sita Devi. King Dasharatha of Ayodhya has arrived to witness the marriage ceremony of his son. The good king is also a vital participant, making sure everything from the groom’s side is done properly.

Shri Rama is described to be the ornament of ornaments. He is Himself an object of beautification. Put Him in your mind and your mind will always be pure. Put His presence in your food and you will never eat sin. Put the sound of His holy names on your tongue and what you say will always be pure as well. And that supremely pure object was being decorated by His loving father. Power, beauty and fame can quickly go to our head, causing us to be puffed up with pride. From the Supreme Lord’s example, we see that loving service from others should be allowed in any situation. No one is too big to be loved by their parents.

The eyes of the world opened up at the sight of Rama. He is compared to the sun. His family ancestry also traced to the sun-god, Vivasvan. Here the eyes of the world are like a lotus flower. They didn’t care what others were thinking. They didn’t care if everyone else was taken by Rama as well. Each individual was supremely delighted to see Rama dressed up in such a way. They were so happy to see Him about to marry the daughter of the pious King Janaka.

In Closing:

“To worship God others to me to say,

But why like sheep to follow their way?


The truth for myself like to find,

Rather prefer to make my own mind.”


In devotion to God for others not a care,

For Supreme Lord natural affection is there.


Comparison made to lotus flower sight,

And how it opens at sun shining bright.


Vision of Rama with ornaments world took,

Like lotus petals opened wide upon first look.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Magic in the Sky

Dark blue raincloud“O son of Kunti [Arjuna], I am the taste of water, the light of the sun and the moon, the syllable om in the Vedic mantras; I am the sound in ether and ability in man.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.8)

Bhagavad-gita, 7.8“It was the darnedest thing. I had a tough day at the office. So much work was piling up. People were coming at me nonstop. As soon as I finished one task, I checked my email and I had at least five more new requests. At one point I had so many things to do that I didn’t know which one to start first. So I just sat there and did nothing for like five minutes. The burden was great, and I was only saved by the bell of quitting time. Finally, the emails would stop. No more requests until tomorrow.

“When I drove home, things didn’t look so great. It was a little chilly, and there was a cloud cover. Then on the highway there was a lot of traffic. There was an accident here and a lane shut down there. Then the amazing thing happened. While traffic was stopped, I decided to look into the horizon. No reason for doing this other than to try to forget my frustration for a minute or two.

“What I saw was beyond belief. It was the dark raincloud. It had a unique color. It was unlike anything else. Immediately, I thought to myself, ‘Krishna. This is Krishna.’ I’ve heard it described many times that the Supreme Personality of Godhead pointed out in the Vedas has a bluish complexion. Obviously we don’t see too many blue-skinned people, so more descriptions are given to back up the claim. It is said that Krishna looks like the tamala tree. But this tree is only found in India, and there are just a few of them left. Therefore I don’t really know what this tree looks like.

Your Ever Well-Wisher DVD cover“The most common comparison made is to the dark raincloud. There are so many clouds, however. How will I know which one is Krishna? Up until this point I just accepted it on faith. I had no reason to doubt the words of the authorized texts like the Shrimad Bhagavatam and Bhagavad-gita. I believed what I heard, but I didn’t really understand until I saw that cloud today. I knew it was Krishna. I must have seen a cloud like that many times before, but lately I’ve been practicing bhakti-yoga a lot. I’ve always been interested in hearing the tales of the divine, but I’ve been a little more serious since I’ve learned the life story of His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. He gave up everything enjoyable in life so that others could enjoy the association of the bluish Krishna. From his dedication I’ve been inspired to chant, ‘Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare,’ on a regular basis. And now today I believe I have received the fruit of my chanting. I have seen Krishna in the sky.”

In philosophical works we find so many statements that are difficult to apply to the modern times. The Vedas are considered the oldest books of knowledge in existence. Therefore so many comparisons found in them seem strange to us. For instance, in describing a beautiful woman it is said that she walks like a mad elephant [gaja gamini]. What does this mean exactly? Why is a woman walking like an elephant a good thing? In other places it is described that a woman who is excited to meet her lover dances like the peahen. How many of us have actually seen a peahen to know what this means? In other places when describing how a fiend was warded off, the comparison is made to the lion scaring away an elephant with its roar. A lion can defeat an elephant? That seems strange.

“(Hanuman did not see Sita) who was aggrieved over the separation from her husband, whose throat was choked up with tears, whose neck was adorned with the most valuable golden jewelry, who had lovely eyelashes, who had a sweet voice, and was like a peahen dancing in the forest (when with her husband). (Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 5.25)

And yet these descriptions are all valid, and they are tied together by the singular purpose of explaining God. That explanation is valuable because every person is seeking out God. Every person is looking for perfection in all areas of opulence. The atheist seeks out God in the material nature, and as a result the highest force they know of is death. The person who is spiritual in mind but not very advanced in knowledge sees God in the non-differentiated energy known as Brahman. The person who meditates sees God’s manifestation within the heart. The devotee sees God in His personal form, where He has bodily features that can be understood through comparisons and descriptions.

The original form is considered to have a bluish hue. It is very difficult to understand this, and yet through observing nature with the right frame of mind one can indeed see God. The Supreme Lord can also be seen in the sunlight, tasted in the water, and heard through sound. These things are told to us by God Himself in the Bhagavad-gita, which is a summary of Vedic teachings presented by God in His original form of Krishna.

Bhagavad-gita, 7.9“I am the original fragrance of the earth, and I am the heat in fire. I am the life of all that lives, and I am the penances of all ascetics.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.9)

Lord KrishnaSince we are born into the darkness of ignorance, it is difficult to comprehend how God can be seen in the nature around us. Everything we know of is flawed to some degree. The material nature is also considered to be without life. Water is without a soul, as is heat. Therefore how can God be represented in these things? Through enough practice in bhakti-yoga, however, one can see God everywhere. One can see Him in both the thief and the priest. One can see Him in the cow and the elephant.

His influence spreads everywhere, and yet He still has an original home. The light of this universe emanates from that realm, where the Supreme Lord lives in a self-effulgent body. There is no need for external lighting in that land, as Krishna provides all the illumination necessary. That dark raincloud in the sky is poised to pour down life-sustaining water, and in the same way one who sees it and thinks of Krishna is ready to revive their dormant spiritual consciousness and return to the Lord’s realm in the afterlife, where due to the absence of miseries the apt name of Vaikuntha is given.

In Closing:

At office today had to go the extra yard,

Fatigued from having worked so hard.


Stuck in traffic let out hopeless sigh,

Then looked out into dusk’s sky.


Dark raincloud triggered unique thought,

Complexion of Krishna, image of God brought.


Previously same reaction from vision not there,

Only now since chanting with attention and care.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Godly Principles

Bhagavad-gita As It Is“They [the demoniac] say that this world is unreal, that there is no foundation and that there is no God in control. It is produced of sex desire, and has no cause other than lust.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 16.8)

Bhagavad-gita, 16.8From the Vedas we get two corresponding Sanskrit words of vital importance: sura and asura. Sura is translated to mean “devotee.” At the more basic level, a sura believes in God. They know that there is a supreme controller in charge of everything. They know that not a blade of grass moves without His sanction. They may not remember this influence at every moment of every day, but even their forgetfulness is somewhat innocent. At their core, they believe in God and want to do things to please Him.

The word asura is generally translated to mean “demon,” but the “a” in front is a negation. This means that the demon is simply “not a devotee.” In Vedic texts, which are the oldest in the world and which feature the Sanskrit language, we are given clear examples of the behavior of asuras; lest we think there is any innocence in their defiance of the Supreme Will. They are demons because they are convinced that there is not a God, and as such their philosophy leads them to do all the things that we would consider bad.

If they don’t believe in God, then how do they explain the creation? What do they say the goal of life is?

Since they don’t believe there is an intelligent being guiding everything, the asuras consider everything to be the product of sex desire alone. To them, life comes from the meeting of a man and a woman. There is no other cause. Somehow or other the universe came into existence. Somehow or other it will dissolve in the future, or it may not. Their philosophy is based only on sight. Whatever they see is what they believe. Of course that is not entirely true. They never saw themselves emerge from the womb, and yet they accept so and so as their mother. They never saw past history unfold, and yet they believe in the accounts presented in history books. They never witnessed past scientific experiments conducted, yet they believe the theses presented in scientific journals.

Science journalsIf you consider their philosophy to be valid, that everything is more or less unreal, just a series of random movements, what conclusion must you come to? You would have no choice but to think that the aim of life is to “get yours.” “Let me eat, sleep, mate and defend as much as possible. Who cares about right or wrong? Since everything is created from sex anyway, destroying something shouldn’t harm me at all. If I kill another human being, I might get in trouble with the law, so I’ll steer clear of that. Instead, I’ll kill innocent animals to satisfy my desires for eating. I’ll have sex with whomever is around. If I get into trouble, we’ll get the unwanted pregnancy terminated. If someone objects, I will call them intolerant. I will label them a sexist, someone who doesn’t support the reproductive rights of women. Though I believe everything is due to random sex, somehow I will come up with the term ‘reproductive rights,’ as if suddenly I believe in a code of ethics.”

Indeed, if you take the asura philosophy you have no choice but to be completely selfish, ignoring future consequences. Another point to consider is that the principles of the asuras do not apply universally. My selfishness will conflict with your selfishness. My desire to kill the innocent child in the womb conflicts with the child’s desire to live. My desire to kill the innocent cow for food conflicts with the cow’s desire to remain alive to feed its calves. Milk cannot be produced any other way. It is a product of love, a love which is increased when the mother is together with her children. I would never want the same to happen to me, but since I don’t believe in a God, what do I care what happens to others? And yet others will apply the same logic towards my interests, leaving me in a perpetual state of fear.

Lord Krishna with cowsThe principles of the suras, however, apply to everyone. Whereas the asuras teach only to exploit, the suras teach to serve. Service is beneficial for both the individual doing the service and the object receiving the service. Serving is when one is most happy. Setting aside the spiritual component for a moment, take a look at any awards ceremony and see what are the most common things said. Thanks are given to mentors, teachers, coaches, teammates, and cast members. The honoree tries their best to deflect attention away from them, for they are happier when others are praised. The award itself is a way for a group of individuals to pay honor to someone else.

This tendency is inherent to spirit. In the individual it is inherited from the Supreme. He does exist. There is intelligence to His creation, which is an energy separated in interest from Him. In a land where asuras and suras constantly struggle, the Supreme Lord keeps out until asked for help. If one person wants to become very rich and someone else wants to live the simple life, what is the real difference? On the other hand, if someone wants to be devoted to God and someone else is preventing that from happening, then the Supreme Lord pays extra attention, offering His direct help if necessary.

Lord Chaitanya holding sannyasa dandaThe godly principles say to be devoted to God in thought, word and deed. This is why the sannyasis, those in the renounced order, who worship a personal God carry a danda made of three rods. That danda is symbolic of their full devotion to God. This devotion is beneficial for everyone. It is a principle that applies for every single person, just like the laws of science. We don’t hear that the general consumption of certain foods is good for only certain people. If something is good, it is good for everyone; the same goes for something that is bad.

The highest godly principle is to be God conscious. To make this consciousness a reality, one should change their behavior. Rather than exploit, which is a trait of the demoniac, one should limit their sense interaction as much as possible; take the bare minimum to remain focused on God. If there is material abundance, use it in your service to God. Use your large estate to invite members to come and worship together. Use your car to drive to places of worship. Use your ears to hear the glories of God, as they are sung in mantras like “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.” Use your intelligence to understand the science of God, as presented in works like the Bhagavad-gita. Use your potential for action to serve the Supreme Lord in the nine different methods of bhakti-yoga. From these principles understand that the demoniac way of life is the animal way of life, teaching us absolutely nothing.

In Closing:

If from sex only this universe came,

In knowledge what will be my gain?


Exploitation of others then a must,

Competition means in others not to trust.


Thus only in animal life to stay,

Therefore no meaning from asuras’ way.


Godly principles to all to apply,

No harm if to understand God I try.


Thus know asura path one that is wrong,

Follow the suras, in devotion remain strong.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Nonrandom Complexity

The universe“The Supreme Lord, the Personality of Godhead, is always the benefactor of the surrendered souls. His activities are always enacted through His internal potency, Rama, or the goddess of fortune. I pray only to engage in His service in the creation of the material world, and I pray that I not be materially affected by my works, for thus I may be able to give up the false prestige of being the creator.” (Lord Brahma, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 3.9.23)

In analyzing the smartphone, would we ever think that the pieces just came together randomly? Would we ever think that a collision occurred that caused the device to be generated, both with respect to hardware and software? Would we ever think then that a random movement caused the exact same unique item to be mass generated and sold? Obviously such thinking is silly, and yet when trying to explain the infinitely more complex nature, such theories are given credence.

And mind you, the invention and subsequent manufacture of the smartphone is included in the definition of the creation. When we talk about what created the earth, the sun, the planets, and the massive bodies of water, we’re also talking about what created the various nuances within each object. The smartphone is created within the earth, so if we were to discuss what went into making the earth, whatever conclusion we would reach would then apply to the creation of the smartphone as well.

iphoneThe smartphone begins with hardware. There is the specific collection of glass and metal. The design isn’t random, either. It is chosen specifically due to someone’s desires. Perhaps there was input from others and then a consensus reached, but still someone had to dream up what the phone would look like. They had to think of the color, the size and the shape. They had to say what materials would be used. They took into consideration cost and durability. They took into consideration availability as well. It would be cool to have a phone made of gold, but how are you going to get so much gold to produce millions of these phones?

The phone is merely a brick until it can actually do something. Here is where the software comes into play. What will the phone do? How will it do it? What will make it unique? Such questions are answered before the operating system is made. Then there are applications written for that operating system. The applications will do various things, like make phone calls, send and receive text messages, browse the internet, check the weather, report on the current local time, and play music and video.

AppstoreJust using these phones for a little while can give someone a great appreciation for what went into the manufacturing process. Now imagine if the same appreciation were applied to the creation as a whole. You look at the beautiful lotus flower and wonder how any brain could imagine something like it. You look at the dark raincloud, about to pour down water, and marvel at its unique color. You get a view from the clouds when on an airplane and become mesmerized by how large the earth really is. You never get an idea of the size because you’re always on the ground, and your visibility is limited.

Dark raincloudDevotees of the Supreme Personality of Godhead appreciate such things on a daily basis. They know that He is responsible for everything. The lotus flower is the unique item of beauty, and it was created by the smartest brain. The sun is vital for the maintenance of life. It is so hot that no one can approach it. And yet from so far away it burns strong enough to keep us warm, allow us to grow food, and give us light. The sun is so vital that we feel depressed when we can’t see it so well. We know that it is there on the cloudy days because of the daylight, but still we’d like to see it better.

Like the smartphone, the sun, the earth, and the various elements work off intelligence. Their movements are not random. When it gets dark at night, we don’t have to worry about it staying that way for weeks on end. We know that in a few short hours we will have light again. The term “day” is derived from the patterns of the sun. The day is so predictable that we use it as a measurement of time. Thus the sun determines age, which we consider to be very important, though it really isn’t.

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

software updatesA random collision of chemicals could never create such objects with intelligence because we’ve never experienced anything of the sort. Could materials collide to create the smartphone? The material nature acts perfectly, while even the smartphone has flaws. The lock button could stop working after a while. The battery could start draining even faster. There are so many issues that updates to the operating system have to constantly be released. The sun is not like this. Neither is earth, water, or fire. Sometimes we may not like the effect the sun has on us, but this is due to our changing situations. Fire is fire. Depending on how we use it, it can cause us harm or do us good.

In bhakti-yoga, one appreciates the original creator. They try to think of Him all the time because that is what makes them happiest. It is actually what makes everyone most happy. In all spheres of life, we see that individuals take great pleasure in praising others, in pointing out their good characteristics. Even the most honored person feels it necessary to deflect some of the attention towards others who helped them.

Bhakti-yoga takes this attitude and increases its scope of applicability. It is applied on a daily basis to someone whose glories never exhaust. The appreciation of His creation is just one way to extend this loving attitude. The appreciation then extends further to those who are devoted to Him, like those who always chant His names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

Krishna's lotus feetThe many faiths may refer to this person with different names, but the worshiped individual is still one. Since He is all-attractive, the name Krishna suits Him well. Krishna is a scientific name; it is a description of a fixed attribute within an individual. Thus bhakti-yoga is more than just faith; it is a practical realization and appreciation for the creator of everything in this world. It appreciates a person who has the most intelligence to use in His creating abilities, abilities which He kindly passes on to a degree to other powerful personalities, like Lord Brahma. And these personalities never forget from where their abilities came.

In Closing:

Smartphone to make our life better,

But how did it all come together?


With software in hardware to reside,

Did all elements just randomly collide?


Created only after with intelligence a try,

Same concept to universe’s creation apply.


The sun burning forever and never tired,

Constant update to fix not required.


Intelligence for everything from God does come,

Many names from faiths but still He is only one.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Lacking Perfection

Lord Krishna“The best and ultimate authority is Krishna, for He is our eternal well-wisher, and He always speaks for our benefit. Since we have to accept some authority, why not accept His? Simply by hearing of His glories from Bhagavad-gita and Shrimad-Bhagavatam and by chanting His names — Hare Krishna — we can swiftly perfect our lives.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Krishna Consciousness, The Matchless Gift)

“This new phone is going to revolutionize things. It’s going to change your way of life. We’ve found a way to put everything you could want into a single device. There’s email. There’s text. There’s web browsing. There’s music and video. And by the way, all of this fits in the palm of your hand. You can take it wherever you go. It fits snugly in your pocket. The battery life is amazing. We’re also going to open up the system to the development of software by third parties. This means that if you can think of something that we haven’t, go for it. We’ll allow you to sell your app in a centralized location, where millions of other users can download it. Once you get this device, you will wonder how you ever lived without it.”

This pitch is made with confidence not for only smartphones but for practically any discovery. It doesn’t have to be one based in technology. The idea is that whatever new is coming out is without flaws. It is the groundbreaking item, the missing piece to the puzzle known as life. The results of scientific studies are presented in the same way.

…Begin mock conversation

We’ve uncovered a secret: men and women are different.

This is a secret? Really? What tipped you off?

We’ve discovered that eating oat bran is good for you. So is eating in moderation and doing light exercise on a regular basis. Consuming foods rich in antioxidants is good for you too. Since so many foods contain antioxidants, eating a variety of items and in moderation will keep you fit.

So, you’re basically saying that I should eat food? That’s what it boils down to? I think I already had that figured out. You’re not really telling me anything new here.

…end mock conversation

While each discovery is presented as a conclusive truth, the last word on an issue, pretty soon something newer comes out. That something could totally dismantle the previous truth. Indeed, if we apply a little intelligence, we’d realize that a newer truth should not be necessary at all. If they had it right the first time, why did they have to come back to us with an update?

iphoneThe latest smartphone is very popular, but as soon as a new version is released, there is the anticipation for the next version. “Will they make the screen larger? Will this app come built into the system? Will the battery life be improved? Will there be more storage?” All these hankerings indicate that the device that just came out is flawed. It is not the final word. It is not the missing piece to the puzzle.

The excitement over such discoveries is understandable. Each living being is searching after God. They know that they are not perfect themselves, but someone out there must be. They are attracted to greatness. Otherwise no one would watch sports. No one would follow the lives of celebrities. No one would be interested in what a millionaire is doing. The interest is there because of the search for an all-perfect being.

Fortunately, that search doesn’t have to continue in vain. It doesn’t have to put faith in one discovery only to then change that faith later on based on the newer testimony. God is found through authorized works. I know that what I consider to be authorized may not be by you, but everyone must accept some authority. Otherwise there is no trust in life and everyone sits in a secluded room not having faith in anyone. There is always faith; the difference is that faith in the real authority does not have to change. It brings the real Supreme Being that everyone is looking for, and with that goal achieved doubt is removed.

The followers of the Vedas say that the Vedas are the ultimate authority. The Vedas are ancient works that describe God to the best extent possible. Since God is all-pervading and all-encompassing, the descriptions of Him continue to expand. In material discoveries constant updates show an inherent flaw in the original discovery. In the case of the expanding Vedas, the flaw is not in the person being described, but rather in man’s ability to describe Him. This defect is a blessing, since it allows for an endless engagement.

From the Vedas we know that there are three features to the Absolute Truth. There is the impersonal Brahman. This is the all-pervading spiritual energy that cannot be seen with the eyes. Everyone is Brahman since everyone is spirit. Brahman is a realization more than an actual object. Then there is the Supersoul residing within the heart. This again can’t be seen; it is unmanifest. It is realized through meditational yoga.

Lord KrishnaThe complete feature is Bhagavan, which means the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Bhagavan has an original form and also many non-different expansions. Bhagavan is complete with the features of beauty, wealth, strength, fame, wisdom and renunciation. He is the only perfect being. As He is perfect, He has complete knowledge. Knowing Him is knowing everything you need to know. Knowing Him allows you to know yourself, and since you are the same in spiritual quality as everyone else, knowing Him allows you to know everyone else in the world as well. You learn their tendencies, their mistakes, and their desires. If you know someone’s desires, you know why they do things. If you know Bhagavan, you also know the purpose to the creation and why birth and death take place. Therefore you know how anything material will eventually dissipate. You know the purpose to eating, sleeping, mating and defending, and so you know how to do these things properly.

Since Bhagavan is the oldest person, He was revealed a long time ago. He was not discovered by anyone. He was revealed to the first created living entity, Lord Brahma, who then passed on information of his experience to future generations. Thus for the devotee of Bhagavan there is no need to be anxious for the new discovery, as the original information they accept is authorized; it is without flaw.

maha-mantraMore than just knowledge of Bhagavan, we also get tools and techniques on how to remain in His association. We are not perfect, but Bhagavan is, so we accept what He tells us. We also accept what those who are devoted to Him say. For the present age most rules and regulations of spiritual life are tossed aside. No one will follow them anyway. The pathway to spiritual freedom is the holy name itself, which is something basic enough for anyone to hear, recite, remember, and have an attachment to. The name Krishna is considered the best, with Rama a close second. The name Hare is also included, as this addresses the energy of God. A habit of chanting the maha-mantra, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare,” keeps one always with the holy name.

This chanting process was not discovered; it was revealed to us through the good grace of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. If there is any discovery involved for the devotee, it is in finding new ways to keep this chanting going so that God can be remembered and glorified more and more. These discoveries work for any person, as their foundation is the name of the only all-perfect being.

In Closing:

This new smartphone to come out,

Wonder how you did live without.


Since flaw with one button pressing,

Date of newest update to be guessing.


That all problems then to solve,

But why need for changes you must resolve.


Bhagavan the only perfect being,

Known from eyes of Vedas seeing.


In Kali Yuga rules of religion tossed aside,

Just chant holy names and with God reside.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Why We Use Analogies

fear of the dark - cover“First a child is shown the branches of a tree, and then he is shown the moon through the branches. This is called shakha-chandra-nyaya. The idea is that first one must be given a simpler example. Then the more difficult background is explained.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Chaitanya Charitamrita, Madhya 21.30 Purport)

“If God is everything, why do you need analogies to explain Him? For instance, I’ve heard that the individual soul is like a drop of water from the ocean and that the Supreme Soul is like the total ocean. The drop is like the complete whole but at the same time it is different. This helps us to understand the simultaneous oneness and difference between God and His innumerable children. But if the ocean is necessary for explaining God, doesn’t that make God subordinate to the ocean? So many other analogies are used, such as to the parent-child relationship, the friendship, and the relationship in service. It seems to me that without these analogies you can’t properly explain God, which means that He must not be Supreme.”

In the Vedas we will find so many analogies. There is one for explaining pretty much every truth there is. One of the common modern misconceptions is that religion is about faith. “One person has their faith and another person has theirs. Who are we to reconcile between the two? The faiths are like the different sports teams that people prefer. One person likes the team from Boston and another the team from Chicago. They both like teams, so what is the difference, really?”

Pie chartIn fact, real religion is scientifically based. It has laws that are indisputable, like the addition of two plus two. Two plus two always equals four. It doesn’t equal four only for the Hindus or the Christians. The sum is four no matter how you slice it. Again, even in this explanation so many analogies are used. There is the reference to mathematics and its equations. There is the reference to science, which is generally accepted as fact. It is not considered faith, though in actuality so much of material science is politicized. There is also the subtle reference to the pie, which is sliced up and divided. You can divide the pie in a bunch of different ways, but the constitution of the pie doesn’t change.

Likely the most important analogy used in Vedic literature is the one to describe the material existence. This land we know of is like a dream. It is real in its existence, but it will eventually vanish. The dream may create fake scenarios, but the experience through the dream is real. If you are frightened in a dream, you are frightened in real life. Nevertheless, the dream will end eventually, dissipating the scenario that caused the fright.

In the same way the material nature is temporary in its manifestation. It is also considered a shadow copy of the original spiritual realm. The material creation is likened to an inverted tree, which we see when a real tree is reflected in water. The real tree has its roots on the ground, and everything grows upwards from it. In the inverted tree, the roots are at the top, and the branches and leaves descend from it. The material creation is like the inverted tree because the root is the spiritual sky, where the Supreme Lord lives in His personal forms. The material planets descend down from the spiritual sky, and in that downward trend the quality of life decreases as well.

“Now, there is no ready experience in this world of a tree situated with its branches down and its roots upward, but there is such a thing. That tree can be found beside a reservoir of water. We can see that the trees on the bank reflect upon the water with their branches down and roots up. In other words, the tree of this material world is only a reflection of the real tree of the spiritual world.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 15.1 Purport)

Trees reflected in the waterThe desire of the living entity to be away from God is responsible for the downward growth. The downward motion is appropriate because the desire to separate marks a descent, a fall from grace. As a loving father, the Supreme Lord grants this wish, though He knows there is no benefit to come from it. If He were to deny it, there would be no independence to the living entity. Without some degree of independence, there is no existence, and so we see that the Supreme Lord merely stays true to the nature of all existences, which emanate from Him.

The caring father welcomes back His children with open arms when they decide they want to return home. With the spiritual world, you can go home again. It is never too late. If you think of God at the time of death, you will reside with Him in the next life. This is guaranteed.

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, Bhagavad-gita, 8.5)

With so many analogies presented, we might be tempted to think that the explanation of God is dependent upon them, that without these reference points we couldn’t even conjure up a Supreme Lord. “Without the aspects of the material creation, how would we understand the original Divine Being? When we explain piety, we point to sins and the sinners, so in this sense our explanation is dependent on those whom we criticize. So isn’t it the same way with God? Isn’t He dependent on the aspects of the material creation?”

Actually, this is a flaw in our logic, that we think anything can be separated from God. He refers to the material energy as inferior, but it is still His. The inferiority is with respect to interest. God has no interest in birth, death, old age, disease, sense gratification, renunciation, knowledge, or mysticism. But this doesn’t mean that such things have an independent existence, separate from Him. God IS the complete whole. Using the material nature to explain Him is for our benefit, not His. He is not dependent on anything. He is an Absolute Truth. No matter which way you view it, He is God.

Moonlight through tree branchesInterestingly enough, there is an analogy to explain why analogies are used. The Sanskrit term is “shakha-chandra-nyaya”, which means seeing the moon through the branches of a tree. The moon is very large. We can’t really conceive of its size, just as we can’t really understand how large the earth is. It is easier to see the moon through the branches of the tree. The branches here have no effect on the moon. The moon is so many miles away, while the branches are nearby. The branches merely provide a contrast for the eyes of the observer.

Just as when we watch television we may put on eyeglasses to see more clearly, we use analogies to mentally see God. Better than seeing is hearing, which is best accomplished through the chanting of the holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.” The potency of this chanting cannot be explained by any analogy, because there is no other practice that compares to it. The potency can only be realized by one who takes to the chanting in the proper mood. This chanting is the mercy of the Lord, just as the branches are His gift to allow us to better understand the moon.

In Closing:

The moon I see with my eyes,

How to understand its actual size?


When through branches of tree,

Moon better I can see.


Explains why analogies so high rate,

In use for explaining God who is so great.


But God complete on His own,

Comparisons for our benefit alone.


Analogies to see Krishna so dear,

But better if His holy name to hear.