Saturday, August 31, 2013

The Well-Wisher For All

Radha Krishna“The Supreme Lord, Purushottama, or Shri Krishna, is the maintainer of all, in both the transcendental and material worlds. He is the life and friend of all because there is eternally natural affection and love between the living entities and the Lord. He is the one friend and well-wisher for all, and He is one without a second. The Lord maintains all the living entities everywhere by His six transcendental opulences, for which He is known as bhagavan, or the Supreme Personality of Godhead.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 3.9.22 Purport)

The coach and fans wish well for the players on their team. They hope that each person fits their assigned role perfectly. There are the scorers. They are expected to deliver the goals. They have the skill necessary to put pucks past the goaltender and into the net. They get the majority of the ice time because of their skill. If they are not scoring, they are not doing their job.

Then there are the checkers. They are expected to shut down the opposition, especially their best scorers. A good night for the checkers is one where their opponents don’t outscore them. The special players are those who can both check and score. The coach loves these players because they can be used in so many different situations. If the score dictates that defense is required, the two-way forward is sent to a lower line so that they can boost its defensive responsibility. The goalie is expected to stop pucks. They can help a little bit on dump ins in the defensive zone, but that is just an added bonus. If they can’t stop the puck, they will not have a job for long.

checking in hockeyIn all situations, the coaching staff, management and fans wish well for their particular players. If the scorers are scoring, the defenders are defending, the goaltenders are stopping pucks, then all is well. The interest for these well-wishers is by definition limited. They may say “good luck” to the opposing team at the beginning of the game, but they don’t really mean this. They don’t want the other team to do well. They hope that the players on the opposing team play poorly. They hope that the scorers don’t score, the defenders relax in their checking, and the goaltender has a lack of focus. This will help their own interest, which is victory for their favored team.

The example of a hockey team has crossover significance in helping us to understand how interests are always limited. The parents are the well-wishers of their children first. Not that they dislike other children, but their focus is always on what their sons and daughters are doing. They are proud when their son scores high on an examination, especially if they are at the head of the class. They aren’t necessarily so thrilled when another child does well.

In the job market, one candidate looks to beat out the others. As shown in the reality television show, The Apprentice, if the job goes to someone else, there is disappointment. In this sense the well-wishing is at the personal level. If the candidate really wished well for the other candidates, they wouldn’t be disappointed upon hearing that the job didn’t go to them. They would be genuinely happy for the other person.

Such are the ways of the material world, for one person’s gain is often another person’s loss. My victory comes at the expense of your defeat. To the wise person, this sobering reality should give pause for thought. It should trigger a search into the higher truths of life:

Why must we compete in such a way? Why should we limit our interest? Is there any person who is a well-wisher of all? How can that be possible if everyone competes for resources?

Indeed, there is an eternal well-wisher for all. His affection extends to every single living entity. He does not maintain a narrow vision. He does not wish well for the humans and forget about the cows. He wants every person to be eternally happy. He also knows that for every living entity, the source of that happiness is the same: yoga.

Not that the cows should practice gymnastics or that the person who is completely inflexible should attend an exercise course, real yoga is the linking of the individual soul with the Supreme Soul. “The one and only Supreme Soul” is one way to describe this eternal well-wisher. The individual soul resides within one body at a time, whereas the Supreme Soul resides simultaneously within everyone. This ability makes this soul supreme. It is different from the individual.

That supreme soul is in the cat, the dog, the hunter, the priest, the butcher, the baker, and the candlestick maker. That supreme soul is in the man and the woman. Therefore yoga is open for everyone. Since yoga can occur for any person, it is possible to be a well-wisher for all. If I wish that everyone finds yoga, it means that I wish the best for everyone. In this way we see that the Supreme Soul can pass on His trait of universal well-wishing to others. In fact, those inheriting this attribute begin to wish well for the Supreme Soul, something which is wholly unnecessary since He possesses everything. Nevertheless, the sentiment is there, and it is very much appreciated.

Practicing bhakti yogaGymnastics, breathing exercises, meditation, and renunciation from material affairs are all different ways to find that link to the Supreme Soul, but in all cases the rightful culmination is love and devotion, or bhakti. In the modern age, it is recommended that one find bhakti right away. Practice it first, for even if the love isn’t there at the start, if you stick with it eventually you’ll reach the right end. If you go to the gym for two weeks and make your body fit, if you then later on stop going you could lose all of your accumulated gains. In bhakti all progress is permanent. It is never lost; it carries over even into the next life.

Bhagavad-gita, 2.40“In this endeavor there is no loss or diminution, and a little advancement on this path can protect one from the most dangerous type of fear.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.40)

To facilitate bhakti-yoga practice in the hectic modern age, where competition is fierce, the Supreme Soul has given us sound vibrations that directly represent Him. Chanting and hearing these vibrations is a way to practice bhakti-yoga and it is more fruitful than any other kind of yoga practice. It is available to even the animals, who have the ears to hear the wonderful names found in mantras like, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.”

In Closing:

Wish well only for my favorite team,

Fine if opponent falls apart at the seam.


Compete hard to get the coveted job,

Unhappy when others my post to rob.


This rule of material life only one can breach,

He who lives inside living entity every and each.


By chanting and hearing His presence feel,

Then become ever well-wisher for real.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Eternally Natural Affection

Lord Krishna“The Supreme Lord, Purushottama, or Shri Krishna, is the maintainer of all, in both the transcendental and material worlds. He is the life and friend of all because there is eternally natural affection and love between the living entities and the Lord. He is the one friend and well-wisher for all, and He is one without a second. The Lord maintains all the living entities everywhere by His six transcendental opulences, for which He is known as bhagavan, or the Supreme Personality of Godhead.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 3.9.22 Purport)

“I don’t care what you tell me, I will never abandon my friends. They have supported me for so many years. I’m unaware of so many things and I’m incapable in so many departments, but because of my friends I was able to survive. I was introduced to so many things through their association, and those things are now staples in my life. No matter the time, the place, or the circumstance, if one of my friends needs me, I am there for them. If I can’t give of myself in this way, then what kind of person am I? Only a miser doesn’t repay good deeds done for them. And my friends have done the best deeds for me, so I will never think that my debt to them is fully repaid.”

This sort of sentiment exists within all of us to some degree. From studying Vedic philosophy, it is learned that the sentiment comes from the natural affection that every living entity has for the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Having affection for Him isn’t so difficult, as He is all-attractive. This means that His features are attractive in every regard. Whether you come at it from the financial angle, the enjoyment angle, or the physical feature angle, God has something to attract you. Because of this unique position, one way to address Him is Krishna.

This way of understanding God is theoretical, but there is also the practical provided in the Vedas. We don’t have to accept it on faith that Krishna attracts everyone; we can see it for ourselves in the pastimes described of Vrindavana. Vrindavana is the forest where Vrinda Devi is prominent. Vrinda Devi is the personality of the tulasi plant. This plant is very dear to Krishna. Vrinda Devi, also known as Tulasi Devi, is the goddess of devotion. When you honor her, you get devotion to God. This gift is more valuable than anything else. If you’re looking for money, you can go to another divine figure. If you want some amazing power to be exercised by your temporary body, you can worship someone else. If you want devotion, however, you go to Tulasi Devi. She distributes this gift very easily, for she only looks for sincerity. “Do you want to be devoted to God?” is the lone question she asks.

Tulasi plantIn Vrindavana there is no need to ask this question. The residents there are constitutionally in the mood of bhakti, or divine love. They are so devoted to God that all they think of is service. It makes sense that Tulasi Devi would be prominent in this land. She works alongside Paurnamasi, the divine energy of the Lord, to manipulate situations in such a way that the enjoyment of both Krishna and His dearmost servants is enhanced.

In Vrindavana everyone is affectionate towards Krishna. The cows happily produce so much milk that one couldn’t imagine the quantity. Scientifically we understand that milk is produced when the mother cow is in the company of her children. Out of love she produces the milk. In Vrindavana the milk is produced at the mere sight of Krishna. In this way we understand that the production of milk has its roots in divine love. For this reason cow’s milk is very dear to God in His personal form. It is the best offering to make to Him. All other kinds of milk are cheap substitutes, which are used when cow’s milk is not available. The grossly foolish, putting their activism above their desire to please God, erroneously think that other kinds of milk are more suitable offerings, but from the behavior in Vrindavana we understand just how much Krishna loves cows and the milk they produce to please Him.

Lord Krishna with cowsThe deer and other forest animals show their affection for Krishna by always running to Him. They follow Him as He traverses the sacred land playing with His friends. These friends show affection in their playful pastimes. Sometimes there is wrestling, sometimes there is joke-making, and sometimes there is a meal shared. The parents love Krishna with the desire to protect and feed Him. The cowherd women enjoy with Krishna in more intimate ways, but in all respects there is affection shown.

The material world is a perverted reflection of the spiritual land that is Vrindavana. In the reflection, the same objects are there, but they are oriented in the wrong way. The emotions exist too, but they are directed in areas not related to divine love. Affection is held for friends, family and paramours ahead of affection for God. In order to justify such behavior, mentally concocted ideas such as “service to man” are presented as the real religion. Indeed, by itself service to any singular non-divine entity will not bring one to the platform of divine love.

Chanting beadsOn the other hand, love for God will increase our love for others. After all, if I know that I am naturally affectionate towards God, I will eventually realize that others have the same affection. They may not know it, so I will try my best to make them aware. And yet the exercise of my affection is not dependent on others. Whether one person listens to me or one million, in glorifying God I am not stopped. Even if facing the strongest opposition, at the very least I can recite to myself the maha-mantra: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

This mantra speaks God’s names. This is a very nice thing to do, for there is no ulterior motive involved. By saying this mantra over and over again, I’m merely looking to act on my affection. Since Krishna possesses the attribute of complete strength, He protects my exercise of affection, in the same way that He protects the cows in Vrindavana, allowing them to be totally happy in serving Him.

In Closing:

As Supersoul within You He does reside,

The Supreme Lord never to leave your side.


Affection for you and me always there,

Offers all greatest attention and care.


Since He is disposed that way towards me,

Devoted to Him from now on I will be.


Every day His names I will chant,

Will go forward even when I think I can’t.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Crediting Others

Lord Brahma“Brahma, who is only an assistant in the modes of creation, wanted to remain in his actual position as an instrument of the Lord instead of becoming puffed up by the false prestige of thinking himself the creator. That is the way of becoming dear to the Supreme Lord and receiving His benediction. Foolish men want to take credit for all creations made by them, but intelligent persons know very well that not a blade of grass can move without the will of the Lord; thus all the credit for wonderful creations must go to Him.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 3.9.23 Purport)

“I accept this award as the most valuable player, but I must give credit to my teammates. Without them I would be nothing. Notice how in that championship-clinching game, it wasn’t me who scored the winning goal. In fact, in the last minute-plus, we were down by a goal, and suddenly two of our best players came through in the clutch and we were walking home with the trophy. I also feel that my goalie might have gotten snubbed. He played great throughout the season. Without him we wouldn’t be standing here as champions. Therefore I want to recognize so many others for this personal achievement of mine.”

“I gladly accept this award for the best actor, but really I am humbled by it. First off, being nominated itself is a tremendous honor. Especially to be put into the same class as these other wonderful actors, it boggles my mind. I want to share this award with the other nominees, because they have taught me acting since I was very young. And without the writers, our show would be nothing. The entire cast is very supportive; I believe this award is reflective of how great our ensemble is. This award is for them as well.”

The academy awards“I accept this honor with great happiness, but I would be remiss if I didn’t thank my parents. They are everything to me. Without their influence, I would not be where I am today. They sacrificed so much for my career. They could have easily said ‘No’ many times. I know they couldn’t afford so many things that I asked for, but they made the sacrifice so that I would be happy. And now that I am in a high position, I know that they deserve the credit. I would be nothing without them.”

In this way we see that credit is regularly given to others for personal achievements. It is only natural, for a wise person realizes the difficulty in excelling in anything. Moreover, there is always some fortune involved, where seemingly uncontrollable pieces align in just the right way at just the right time. Extending this attitude out to the furthest possible scope, the devotee daily gives thanks to the Supreme Lord. Even if they have the greatest ability, they have no desire to falsely take complete credit for themselves.

Lord BrahmaWho would you think has the greatest ability? Someone who is very wealthy? Someone who is very beautiful? Someone who lives for a long time? In Vedic philosophy the greatest person in the material sense is Lord Brahma. To put it plainly, he is the creator. He makes everything. Before him there were no creatures on the earth. Before him there was no earth. No rivers, lakes, ponds, mountains, hills, forests, farms, cows, or human beings - all of that required the hand of a creator. Upon first look, we might be tempted to think that the person we are describing is God. After all, if Brahma created everything, why is he not given full divine status?

Though Brahma created everything, he did so at the direction of the real God. The Supreme Lord has no direct interest in material affairs, or that which is temporary and the source of misery. When there is the need to create, He works through one of His devoted servants. Brahma is very powerful, but he knows that his ability comes from God in His personal form of Vishnu. Though Vishnu is often considered the maintainer and Brahma the creator, it is Brahma who came from Vishnu. Vishnu is the maintainer because he has no desire to create, whereas the ability in others is limited through no choice of their own.

maha-mantraWe tend to thank God when there is some material success for ourselves, but actually we can thank God every day for everything that we have. We can think: “Thank you Lord for giving me food every day to eat. I know that You employ Lord Brahma for populating this earth, and because of that kindness food can grow here. With food I am able to eat. Thank You for the sun also. I feel so good when it is a sunny day. I wish I could spend every day in a room that is brightened by the sunlight. Thank You for my friends and family. I don’t really care how I spend my time with them, it’s just nice to have them around. Most importantly, thank You for this life, for with it I can study You, think about You, and serve You. Lord Brahma serves You in such a great way. I am not as great as him, not even close. From his example I learn that You are the person most worthy of service. No matter what happens to me, I will always remember You and think of how You are responsible for everything. To keep You in my mind, I will always chant Your holy names, Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.”

In Closing:

When award for achievement to accept,

Honoree attention tries to deflect.


Others of deeds so many good,

Their integral contribution well understood.


Same attitude towards skies extend,

That there’s no higher power don’t pretend.


Even Brahma, the creator of the land,

Prays to God with folded hand.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Vyasa Puja 2013

Shrila Prabhupada“The literal meaning of the word guru is ‘heavy’ - heavy with knowledge and authority, because his knowledge and authority come from Krishna. You cannot utilize the guru for satisfying your whims.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Journey of Self-Discovery, Ch 2.2)

“I really can’t make up my mind. I need to get a new phone. At least I think I do. I have one right now that is issued by my employer. It works fine. The service is good. Everything is paid for. I don’t have to worry about going over the allotted monthly data usage; not that I hog up that much data. I checked the usage stats recently, and in the few years I’ve had that phone I’ve used about two months worth of data allotted to the standard monthly plans. I don’t talk much on there either; though the voice quality is very good.

“Recently a defect arose in the phone. Therefore for some vital functions now, I have to use a menu on the touchscreen. The physical button that is supposed to perform these functions no longer works. Apparently this has happened to a lot of people with the same phone. I asked my employer to see what they could do, and they said I could get the same phone as a free replacement. The problem is the manufacturer no longer makes the same version of the phone. The free replacement would be a downgrade. This doesn’t seem right to me. Why can’t I get an upgrade? What will happen when the same defect occurs in the future?

iphone lock button issue“I have the option of getting my own phone and using that. I already have a personal cellphone. I pay a monthly fee for it, though I hardly use it. I can upgrade that phone and keep the same phone number. Ah, but which plan should I get? These phone plans are very expensive. Some are cheaper, but the service isn’t as good. I do a lot of reading on my phone. I know this sounds odd, but the screen size is perfect. I’ve read books that were thousands of pages long without a problem. While reading if I see something I like, I quickly take a screenshot and then save it. This way all the passages I find to be important are saved with convenience.

“I could purchase a tablet computer. That is one option. Of course I already have one, but it is certainly outdated by now. The newer models are smaller in size. I can also get a relatively inexpensive data plan with that. With this option, I can continue to use my work phone and then carry around the tablet to do my reading. The tablet is too big to fit in a pocket, though, so I will have to make sure to take it with me in my hand. I will have to make sure not to leave it behind anywhere.

ipad“I can’t decide what to do. This is starting to bug me now. I don’t want to make the wrong decision. It’s all I think about. The conundrum is very heavy in my brain; it is weighing me down. I’d rather a decision just be made so that I can continue with my life. In an objective analysis, right now everything is okay, and I generally don’t buy a lot of things. Thus when I do buy something that will replace my existing setup, I don’t want to make the wrong decision.”

In a scenario such as this, the individual thinks that their problem is more important than it really is. That such an issue would weigh down a person’s mind seems silly to most, but the individual here is completely focused on their problem. They can’t go outside of themselves to realize that what they think to be heavy is actually very light. On the occasion of Vyasa Puja, we celebrate the person who tackles the actual heavy issues in life. Since he addresses and solves these issues without fail, he is known as the guru. His weight in knowledge, composure, and strength of conviction in the right activity is then passed on to the disciples, those who learn through service to him.

Vyasadeva“Guru” is a colloquial term as well. You can have a romance guru, a computer guru, and a yoga guru. In each realm, the guru refers to a teacher who is an expert. They give guidance to those who request it. The real guru, in the classical Sanskrit definition, is a spiritual master. The spiritual trumps everything else. The spiritual is superior to the material. Actually, if you understand the spiritual you will understand the material also. It doesn’t work the other way around. Thus the various gurus mentioned here aren’t really masters of a whole lot. That which they are purportedly expert in isn’t very heavy in the grand scheme of things.

Life and death - you can’t get much heavier than that. The bona fide guru knows that life exists forever. It never came into being, and so it can never be destroyed. Death seems to say otherwise. It tells us that whoever you are, you will eventually leave. Everything that you have will be destroyed as well. That cherished automobile that sits in your garage – one day that will be gone. When you leave, you won’t be able to take it with you. You won’t be able to bring your friends and family along, either. What you can and will bring is your consciousness.

That consciousness accompanied you into this life. The “life” here thus means the present manifestation of your spirit soul combined with a collection of matter. “Life” is a basic measurement of time, for your existence will continue infinitely into the future. Just as we don’t lose our identity from minute to minute, day to day, or year to year, we don’t change when death occurs. If there is a change at all, it is merely external, like a changing of clothes.

Birth and death are much more important issues than which smartphone to get. They are more important than figuring out how to drive a car, fix a software bug, or prepare dinner tonight. Birth and death are the most important issues for the individual in their present state. Since the guru is intimately familiar with the nature of birth and death, his knowledge is most important. His words thus deal with the heaviest issues.

The guru knows that birth in the present land takes place due to forgetfulness of God. God is defined as the Supreme Spirit, the chief living entity maintaining all other living entities. His body and spirit are the same; that is His unique feature. His spiritual form never decays. He does not enter into it and then leave it at some point. His consciousness is the same in quality as His hand and His leg. For us this is not the case, and so we are always inferior to the Supreme Lord.

“It is a false claim that after the annihilation of this body everything is finished. The individual soul is transmigrating from one body to another, and his present body and present activities are the background of his next body. One gets a different body according to karma, and he has to quit this body in due course.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 15.8 Purport)

Changing bodiesDeath is automatic for one who has taken birth. The guru knows this as well. Why should we fret over something that is destined to happen? Why not worry over where the next birth will be? We worry about if we will be happy or not purchasing a specific phone, but in either case we will continue on. What about the next life in general? Why not worry over finding the best place to spend the next lifetime?

The guru takes care of these issues. He says that if you are devoted to God, you will go to Him. The guru does not make this up. This isn’t a pipe dream, a shot in the dark hope for a better life. The guru believes in what he says because he lives it. He lives with God all the time, though he may not be physically in the company of the Supreme Lord. The consciousness is what is linked to the Supreme. That is real yoga, something the guru never breaks out of. If you are always connected, nobody can do anything to break you away from God. As such, how will your association not be beneficial to all?

Shrila PrabhupadaBirth, death, old age, disease, the changing of bodies, the future residence of the spirit soul, the nature of God, the ways to address Him, how to maintain His association – these issues are very heavy and impossible to grasp for the individual who is limited by their own life experiences. Only in ignorance would one think that the smartphone purchase warrants so much mental strain. Due to the unwarranted mental taxation, the more important issues are too heavy to grasp; their weight is so great that immediately the individual drops the information when it is presented to them.

Shri Hanuman lifting a mountainThe guru keeps all of this information with him all the time. Since he carries this strength of knowledge he is the heaviest. The spiritual master is so kind that they will gladly train others in how to accept this knowledge so that they can become heavy themselves. In cases of exalted devotees like Shri Hanuman, the strength is there immediately. One time Hanuman was able to pick up an injured Lakshmana from the battlefield, while the fiendish Ravana could not. Lakshmana is the younger brother of Lord Rama, an incarnation of God. Lakshmana is non-different from the origin of the spiritual master. Though Ravana had tremendous physical strength, he could not support the incredible weight of Lakshmana. As a devoted servant of Rama, Hanuman had no trouble carrying the beloved Lakshmana.

The guru plays no favorites; they hope that everyone becomes God conscious and thus makes their life fruitful. His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada was known as the “ever well-wisher.” Through his presence, which extends to his books and recorded lectures, he wishes well for everyone. He begs all to chant the holy names of the Lord, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare,” so that they too can become heavy in their fight against the illusory material nature, which tricks the mind into assigning the wrong priority to matters of trivial importance. On the occasion of Vyasa Puja, we honor Shrila Prabhupada and his attempt to rescue countless souls, work which continues to pay dividends to this day.

In Closing:

How a cell phone solution to find,

This issue weighs heavily on mind.


Of anything else cannot think,

Into pool of uncertainty to sink.


Since perpetually in yoga state,

Spiritual master of heaviest weight.


His association all others to surpass,

His strength to disciples kindly to pass.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Krishna Janmashtami 2013

Krishna Janmashtami“From the movement of the different kinds of ornaments on their bodies, they were looking still more beautiful. In this way, they all reached the house of Nanda-Yashoda and blessed the child: ‘Dear child, You live long just to protect us.’ While they were blessing child Krishna in this way, they offered a mixture of turmeric powder with oil, yogurt, milk and water. They not only sprinkled this mixture on the body of child Krishna but on all other persons who were present there.” (Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 1, Ch 5)

The Supreme Personality of Godhead is described in the Vedas as purana-purusham. This means that He is the oldest purusha, or person. Purusha is the real definition of a person. It speaks to the spiritual life force, which dominates over the inanimate matter, which is prakriti. As He is the best purusha, the Supreme Lord is also described as purushottama. He is the adi-purusham as well, which is the original person. Since He is the oldest and original person, through basic deduction we see that He lives the longest. On the occasion of Krishna Janmashtami, we remember how He appeared on earth many thousands of years ago and answered the prayers of the gopis, who wished that He would live long to protect them.

The boy was named Krishna because He was all-attractive. He was considered the son of mother Yashoda in Vrindavana, but actually He appeared first from the womb of mother Devaki, who at the time was locked up in a prison cell in Mathura with her husband Vasudeva. Her child is the origin of matter and spirit, so He never actually takes birth. His birth from the womb of Devaki is more accurately described as an appearance. The sun rises in the morning and this is the dawn of a new day. There is a birth, but the sun has not come into existence suddenly. The morning is merely the changing of times within a specific frame of reference.

Krishna's birth in prison cellIn the same way, Krishna’s birth is an appearance before our very eyes. He is actually all around us all the time. In His unmanifest form, He pervades the entire creation. The very fact that there is an existence means that Krishna is around in some capacity. He is the life of all existences. His physical appearance gives life to the devoted souls, who only want to serve Him in lifetime after lifetime.

Vasudeva transferred the child to Vrindavana in the middle of the night. He did so at the child’s direction, for Krishna briefly showed Himself to be the Supreme Lord in His form of Narayana. The vision temporarily allayed the fears of the parents, as they were afraid of what the king of Mathura, Kamsa, might do if he should come to learn that Devaki had given birth to an eighth child. Previously a prophecy had informed Kamsa that his sister Devaki’s eighth son would kill him. Therefore the fiendish king was in perpetual fear, constantly worried over his impending death, which would come to him directly from the hand of God.

Vasudeva transporting Krishna across the Yamuna riverKrishna was transported to Gokula in Vrindavana, where Nanda Maharaja was the king. His wife Yashoda was pregnant at the time, but due to the intensity of labor, she was not sure whether a girl or boy was born to her. The girl who came from her womb was transferred to Mathura in place of Krishna. The next morning, all the well-wishers came to greet the new child. The priests of the community performed all the auspicious rites, and the neighboring cowherd women dressed themselves nicely for having their first look at the child.

They prayed that the child would live long and protect them. The prayer is understandable, given the fact that the elders know that their time on earth is limited. Their abilities are limited as well. The parents can’t protect the child forever. Eventually the roles will switch; the child will have to protect the elderly parents. The gopis prayed that Yashoda’s boy would live very long and protect them.

This prayer was a little different in nature than the typical hope for good fortune for a new child. Since He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna is full in six opulences. Thus His protection is not limited to bodily maintenance through strength. He would indeed protect Vrindavana using that strength. It was exhibited while within the body of a small child. As an infant, He protected the residents from a vicious whirlwind demon, a demon in the form of a bull, and a witch who masked her shape at will. When even the king of heaven, who usually is the one who protects the innocent, turned inimical for a brief period, Krishna lifted up a massive hill and held it over His head. Thus the prayers of the gopis didn’t take long to get answered.

Krishna lifting Govardhana HillKrishna lives the longest too, which means that His protection is ever-lasting. A few years after His appearance, Krishna had to leave for Mathura to deal with Kamsa and handle other affairs. Though He was no longer in Vrindavana, His presence was still felt. The memories of His pastimes remained with the residents. The gopis received protection from their beloved Krishna by remembering Him.

Bhagavad-gita, 15.8“The living entity in the material world carries his different conceptions of life from one body to another as the air carries aromas.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 15.8)

His presence in memory lasts for as long as the individual can continue to think. Memory of Krishna falls into the broader category of consciousness, and as Krishna Himself explains in the Bhagavad-gita, this consciousness carries over from lifetime to lifetime. It travels with the spirit soul to the next body, like the air carrying aromas. This means that the protection wished for by the gopis stayed with them in spite of where Krishna went.

Based on the ability to celebrate the occasion of Krishna Janmashtami, we know that Krishna’s protection continues to this day. He is brought into the memory by always chanting the holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.” The gopis wanted only devotional service in life; they had no desire for wealth, fame, beauty, or intelligence. Krishna protected their foremost desire. Since He is the oldest and original person, that protection is guaranteed to remain for whosoever desires it.

In Closing:

At Yashoda’s son to have first look,

Trip to her house gopis took.


Decorated nicely, flowers in their hair,

At all-attractive Shri Krishna to stare.


Asked that He protection to give,

With all-attractiveness long to live.


Desires of devoted souls always met.

From Janmashtami same protection get.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Indebted to the Maintainer

Krishna with friends“The Supreme Lord, Purushottama, or Shri Krishna, is the maintainer of all, in both the transcendental and material worlds. He is the life and friend of all because there is eternally natural affection and love between the living entities and the Lord. He is the one friend and well-wisher for all, and He is one without a second. The Lord maintains all the living entities everywhere by His six transcendental opulences, for which He is known as bhagavan, or the Supreme Personality of Godhead.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 3.9.22 Purport)

If we are really happy in some place, we owe a ton of credit to the maintainer. Without their effort, we would not have the stated enjoyment. Someone else’s association or a specific activity within such a place may be the immediate cause for the happiness, but without the higher authority maintaining the establishment, the potential for the activity would vanish. In applying such a mindset we see that every person should pay respects to the Supreme Lord, who is the greatest maintainer.

Whether one is a socialist, a communist, a libertarian or a capitalist, they are being maintained by the highest authority figure. In a certain style of government, I desire equality of outcomes. I do not want there to be any wealthy people or perhaps I want them only so that I can take money from them to give to others. My desire is equality, anyway, and I don’t consider God to be an influence. I don’t believe in God. Of course such a belief is silly, for from where did the nonrandom aspects of nature come? A schedule implies intelligence, and since nature operates on the most predictable schedule, there is intelligence in its workings.

the changing seasonsIn another style of government, I don’t want any interference from governing bodies. Let everyone live. If they want to earn a lot of money, so what? If they want to take drugs, whose business is it really? Let everyone do as they please, and only intervene when someone’s rights are being infringed upon. If there is fraud in a financial dealing, a thief on the loose, or an attack from a foreign enemy, then the government should step in.

In another style of government I want the businesses to get preferential treatment. They are the job creators. Let them drill for natural resources wherever. Let them open up a giant store on an unused land. Give them subsidies so that they’ll start places of business in regions that need help. This will solve the unemployment problem. As man is continuously progressing with respect to standard of living, let the government not stand in the way. Let the government be an equal partner.

God is more or less ignored in these scenarios. Sometimes he is acknowledged and purported to be on board with everything, but actually every living entity is His child. This means that the ants, the dogs, the cats, and the cows, which have no understanding of government, are within His jurisdiction as well. They don’t desire anything from government. They simply want protection and the ability to enjoy their senses. Though they don’t know of God, they are maintained by Him.

The human beings are maintained in the same way, except they have the ability to acknowledge God. They have the advanced intelligence to stop and consider His position. “Wow, I have all this around me and without doing anything for it. There is no monthly fee for the sun’s light. There is no charge for going to the river to get water. Last I checked, there is no oxygen tax, though some nations are on their way to creating such a thing, also employing similar mechanisms like fining citizens for not purchasing a product. We have all of these vital things, and they all come from God. He is thus the best maintainer.”

“O best among the glorious ones, all of this has been achieved by me through the divine grace of You and Your brother. One who does not repay the favors offered to him certainly is considered a disgrace among men.” (Sugriva speaking to Lord Rama, Valmiki Ramayana, Kishkindha Kand, 38.26)

Sugriva and the Vanaras helping RamaSince even the most miserable person enjoys a little bit, all are indebted to the great maintainer. Only a miser would not return some of the favors sent their way. Sugriva in the Ramayana says that a true friend repays favors given to him when he has the chance. This is not a religious principle; it is common sense. If we do something nice for someone, will we not appreciate a kind gesture in return? A basic acknowledgment will suffice, but when even that is lacking, what does it say about the other person?

With a little intelligence we can discern for ourselves that there is a supreme maintainer, and from the Vedas our wise conclusion is supported through statements of fact. In those scriptures the Supreme Lord is described to be the maintainer of both the spiritual and material worlds. The spiritual world is the home of pure spirit souls who aren’t tainted by desires for separation from God. It would thus make sense that the Supreme Lord, who is the Supreme Spirit, would maintain the place that He calls home.

And yet He is the maintainer of the material world as well, a place where hardly anyone wants to think of Him. In any field of endeavor, as long as you ignore God, you will be praised by so many. Open up an animal shelter, feed the poor, help disadvantaged youths, research cures for diseases - do any such thing and others will praise you for it. Yet if you speak of God and the need for worshiping Him, get ready to meet staunch opposition. Every excuse in the book will be made to reject your ideas, though in reality all you’re asking for is some gratitude from the many who are being maintained by the one.

“In the Katha Upanishad (2.2.13) the Supreme Lord is described as the chief eternal being amongst all other eternal individual beings (nityo nityanam chetanash chetananam) and the one Supreme Lord who maintains innumerable other individual living beings (eko bahunam yo vidadhati kaman).” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 2.4.7 Purport)

Lord VishnuHe maintains the material world because through life comes the opportunity for salvation. In pain, misery, chaos, despair, and ignorance, there is no chance of reuniting with the best friend of the living entities. Through being maintained, at least the opportunity is there for all, though they likely won’t take advantage until after many lifetimes. Regardless, in each lifetime the support of the great maintainer is there. From this we get one way to understand Him, which is the most valuable understanding to have.

In Closing:

If to feed the poor you will say,

Or to helpless animals to give way,

Or to cure this disease or that,

From others on back to get pat.


But as soon as name of God you take,

Others every excuse and attack to make.


Know that all worlds He maintains,

Appreciation for Him for our gain.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Giving From Nature

Flowers“The Lord says, patram pushpam phalam: He is ready to accept from the devotee any kind of offering, never mind what. Even a leaf, a flower, a bit of fruit, or a little water, which are all available in every part of the world, can be offered by any person, regardless of social position, and will be accepted if offered with love.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 9.2 Purport)

“A friend’s wedding is coming up. It’s tough to figure out what to do as far as a gift goes. Cash doesn’t seem right to me. There’s no thought in that. You’re showing up to a party that someone else invited you to, and then you give them money? That’s like paying to get in. It’s not really a festive occasion then. There’s something expected. Anyway, to not give a gift is bad, so I will have to give something. I see that they are registered at an online retail outlet. This is perfect, I think. I’ll buy something that they’ve listed on there. This way they’ll get something they want, I won’t have to carry it with me to the wedding, and everyone will be happy.”

“I’m going to a friend’s house tonight for dinner. I should pick up something along the way. It’s considered rude to show up empty-handed. I will stop at the doughnut place first. I’ll get a dozen or so doughnuts, of assorted flavors. This will be perfect, since we are being served dinner. This will take care of the dessert portion, and I’ll be able to get some enjoyment from the gift too.”

“It’s my wife’s birthday today. I will buy her flowers. I can’t go wrong with that. I’m not so used to purchasing flowers, but I see there is a section at the local supermarket. I’ll walk over there and see what they can do for me. They seem to have a good selection. The flowers look fresh as well. Getting a dozen or so will help me to meet my obligation to my wife.”

flowersIn studying the science of bhakti-yoga, we learn that offering something as simple as a leaf, a flower, or water will bring tremendous benefits. The mood of the offering is what counts, as the beneficiary already has everything. Though it may seem silly to go to the store to pick up a flower to be offered on an altar, we already do similar things quite frequently. From the above mentioned hypothetical situations, objects created by others routinely serve as gifts, with others thinking nothing of it.

What would they think?

Well, when purchasing a gift online for a wedding, it’s not like the gift-giver has created the gift. They didn’t even have to take much effort. They simply looked at a site, picked what appeared to be interesting, and then made the purchase. Someone else did the majority of the work. The company manufactured the product. The other company sold it, and one of their distributors handled the packaging and shipping. Someone else, namely the people getting married, even picked out the item. Despite so much influence removed from the part of the gift-giver, the gift is appreciated all the same.

Wedding registryFlowers are created through nature’s arrangement. The seed cannot be created by any human being. You must find those flowers in nature. There is effort in planting the seed and then waiting for the flowers to bloom, but again the effort is only fruitful when other aspects of nature cooperate. Only when the soil is fertile, the weather just right, and there is ample water available can there be flowers to be used as a gift later on.

The doughnuts in this instance are created by someone else. They are not baked for the specific benefit of the person hosting the dinner. They are made with profit in mind. That is the point to the shop. It is in business to stay in business. To stay in business requires profit, which in this case comes from the sale of doughnuts. The gift-giver has done nothing but exchanged some time in work for a finished product. The exchanged item is then given as a viable gift.

Doughnut plant doughnutsThe gifts are accepted by the recipients because of the thought put in. In the same way, the offering to God is accepted wholeheartedly when the intentions are right. The Supreme Lord has everything, so what does He need from anyone? The flower is generated by Him. Water comes from Him as well. Thus in the offering process the worshiper essentially takes something that God already created and then presents it as a gift. It’s like someone going into your room, taking your favorite shirt, wrapping it up in a package, and then presenting it to you on your birthday. This would seem silly, but the same practice with God is so much appreciated.

From such offerings made on a regular basis, the consciousness of the worshiper changes. No longer do they think that they are the sole proprietors of the land on the earth. No longer do they seek only to satisfy their own sense demands, which can never be fully met. Instead, they think only of how to continue in service, and since it is to God, the all-attractive Lord, they remain blissful in the process.

Nimai NitaiThese objects come from nature, and their proper use is in devotional service, or bhakti-yoga. The water has no other purpose except to be used in increasing the devotional consciousness of every individual. Water used for forgetting God thus does not have the same potency. In that use it cannot change consciousness for the better. On the flip side, if placed in a tiny vessel and presented before a picture representation of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the water becomes the purest beverage. Its taste is instantly charged with the potency of the all-powerful.

Even if there is no water around to offer, one is not shut out from the offering process. Through chanting, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare,” one can offer sound. Just like the offered water and flowers, this sound directed at God in a mood of love has tremendous potency, so much so that it changes consciousness quickly and permanently, leading to the best condition.

In Closing:

Tonight to friend’s house to go,

That I must bring something I know.


Some doughnuts from shop I will take,

Gift appreciated though I did not bake.


Take gifts of nature in the same way,

Offer to God, with love and devotion pray.


No water, then no problem still,

With sounds of holy names air to fill.