Saturday, September 14, 2013

What Kind of God Are You

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

image“I wanted money, and I really wanted it. I couldn’t think of any other way to get it besides praying. I have a particular deity of choice. They are known for providing wealth to their devotees. There is a specific puja, or worship ceremony, that must be completed. You need the proper paraphernalia, the appropriate time and place, and the precise words spoken. If everything is completed properly, you are supposed to get the wealth that you covet.

“I obviously must have done the worship correctly, for I got what I wanted. I was so happy when the wealth came in. It increased my faith in that particular worshipable figure. Since then on, they were known as “my god.” Each person has their god; this I know based on the many faiths practiced around the world. Some person worships this god, while another worships some other god. The practice of having different gods is especially prevalent in India, which has its traditions rooted in the Vedas.

praying“Since my god gave me what I wanted, I continued to worship them. But a strange thing happened along the way. The wealth that I desperately coveted didn’t give me any lasting satisfaction. The spouse and the children soaked up most of the gift. They had their own desires. I was a kind of god to them, though they didn’t worship me specifically. They just put their hand out and I had to oblige. If I didn’t, they would give me the business. Also, friends and relatives came out from the shadows to ask me for help. They wouldn’t give me the time of day before, but now that I had some money they were my new ‘best friends.’

Cash in hand“In getting what I asked for from my god of choice, my anxieties only increased. Since the person I worshiped is a god, they must have known what was going to happen. Surely they could have predicted the future. If they knew I would only be unhappy going forward, why would they still grant me my wish? What kind of god are they?”

This review need not be limited to the boon of wealth; it can apply to any material benediction awarded to a faithful follower of a divine figure who is not the original Personality of Godhead. In the Vedic tradition especially there are many divine figures appointed to various posts. Part of their duties involves granting material benedictions to their worshipers. There are no questions asked in this exchange. Sort of like when you pay your cable bill and the company doesn’t ask for anything beyond that, these divine figures only look to see whether they are getting worshiped properly. If conditions are satisfactorily met, then the desire is automatically granted.

Yet money, fame, wealth, beauty, strength and renunciation by themselves do not provide lasting happiness. They are opulences of temporary significance; eventually they wither away. Since they are temporary they cannot remain with an entity who is fixed, namely the spirit soul. In my youth I may have begged my parents to buy me a particular video game, but such a gift couldn’t give me lasting happiness. For how long was I going to keep playing? For how long was I going to remain satisfied while newer technology created better and more popular games?

Hoisting the Stanley CupIn the same way, beauty, wealth and fame only go so far for bringing satisfaction. One day your favorite hockey team is famous for winning the Stanley Cup, and the next day they are trading your favorite player to make room under the salary cap. One day they are praised for their great play, and the next they are asked how they will continue their dominance. In this sense a temporary achievement brings increased pressure, which is a kind of misery.

These divine figures neglect to mention the effects their rewards will have. They cannot be blamed for this omission, as they are not ordered to go beyond the exchange of goods. They themselves may know very well that things relating to matter are not really worthwhile in the end. To get this information one must go to the origin of matter and spirit. If they can’t approach Him directly, He has many people who represent Him to pass on His message. They are also worshipable in a sense, but the gift they give is bhakti, or devotion. That gift is actually the only one worth seeking.

Bhagavad-gita As It IsFrom approaching a representative one can learn the teachings of the Bhagavad-gita. The Gita is a work spoken directly by the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Since the conversation took place five thousand years ago, within a different societal and cultural context, a bona fide representative is required today for translating and explaining that conversation. The most bona fide representative would have to be someone who is devoted to the speaker of the Gita. No one can better serve the interests of someone else than a devotee of that someone else.

In studying that conversation, one learns that material opulence is not very important. Since matter has a dual function, sometimes it is good and sometimes it is bad. It is never all good or all bad. Therefore when we pray for money, wealth and fame, sometimes the adage, “Careful what you wish for, you just might get it,” applies. The money can ruin us. The fame can make us desperately crave anonymity soon thereafter.

If you worship the speaker of the Gita, Shri Krishna, you get an understanding of what you are asking for. This understanding is provided by Krishna Himself through His teachings. Even if you don’t understand in the beginning, eventually you will. This is because your worship is of the original Personality of Godhead. By definition, He cannot be limited to only providing material benedictions. If you ask Him for a smartphone for your birthday, He may or may not give it to you. Narada Muni, a faithful devotee, in a playful trick played on him by the Supreme Lord once sincerely prayed to be married to a beautiful woman. In Narada’s case this was not beneficial for him, so the Supreme Lord denied the request. Narada didn’t like the outcome at first, but eventually he realized that it was the kindest act on the part of his object of worship.

Lord Krishna with cowIf all other divine figures don’t tell you the effect their rewards will have, worship of them cannot be the highest worship. The tradition of worshiping them is in place to create a culture of religious life and respect for authority figures, but worship of them should never be mistaken for worship of the original Personality of Godhead. In devotion to Him, all other obligations for worship and respect are immediately met. Best of all, from worship of Krishna, you get Krishna, who is a best friend for life whose company you can forever remain in.

In Closing:

“Worship of my deity set,

Reward then easily to get.


But now in anxiety’s strain,

Gift caused only more pain.


This divine figure surely should have known,

With my misery shouldn’t have left me alone.”


With worship of origin not the case,

His knowledge your illusion to erase.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Beating the Contamination

Fireplace burning“The quality of fire, warmth, is the same everywhere, and the spiritual spark, or part and parcel of the Supreme Spirit, is the same in every living being; thus the potency of the Lord is distributed all over His creation. This transcendental knowledge alone can save one from the contamination of material illusion.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 3.9.32 Purport)

“You shouldn’t beat women, especially your wife. They are dear to you for a reason. Sure, physically they likely aren’t as strong as you. They may have different interests, too. While you like to watch football games on television and hang out with your friends and play poker, women like to go shopping, decorate the home, and attend operas and ballets. While you are more boorish in behavior, women are more gentle. Because of these differences, sometimes arguments will arise. A clash of interests is the surefire way to ignite an argument. Despite the differences in appearance and behavior, women are the same as you. They are individuals. They should be treated with respect.”

“You shouldn’t hold prejudices towards members of different races. Sure, stereotypes come about based on trends in outward behavior, but then who doesn’t tend to behave in the same way as those around them? That’s the whole point to the fashion magazines. Whatever the latest celebrity is wearing is what others will buy. With the different races, the similarities are culturally based. They grew up in specific cultures, which have traditions that date back thousands of years sometimes. You may have not grown up in the same culture, but this doesn’t mean that you are any better or worse. People of the other races are people after all. They deserve the same respect that you want others to give to you.”

Cats and dogs“You should be kind to pets. Nothing bothers me more than seeing cruelty to domesticated animals like cats and dogs. People develop attachments to their pets for a reason. The cat is like a buddy that never questions what you do. The dog is like your best friend because it will always be happy to see you. You can love these animals unconditionally and not have it hurt you. Why would anyone else think of harming these animals? They are like human beings in many ways and therefore should be treated as such.”

“We should be good to our environment. Without it we couldn’t survive. The trees, the meadows, the lakes, the ponds, the rivers, and the land are nature’s gift to us. These things allow us to survive, so why would we be intent on destroying them? Why pollute the rivers when they give us water to drink? Why keep tearing down trees when they provide natural shade and give oxygen for us to breathe? Why constantly drill into the earth just to support an advanced industrial age? That same earth, when treated more gently, can give us food to eat. And isn’t that the whole purpose to work? We work to eat; there is really no other reason. One could say they enjoy what they do for a living, but the fruit is still the same. Someone else could hate doing the exact same job and still get the same reward, namely money for buying food, clothing and shelter. We should therefore treat our environment with respect.”

farmingSociety is plagued by many problems, and so there are various causes created to solve them. The above review covers a few of the well-known causes, and there is an underlying theme: give respect. To elicit that respect, the champions present knowledge. We are taught how others are not really different from us. The same sentiment then extends to the community, the nation, and the world. From studying the Vedas, however, such knowledge comes immediately. Rather than target a specific area for understanding, the true scientific understanding of every life force is given at the outset. From this even more knowledge develops.

The person who wants to stop domestic violence teaches us that women are the same as men. The person who wants to stop racism teaches us that all races are the same in quality. The person who wants to stop abuse of animals says that all creatures should be respected, for they are living life. The person who wants to stop abuse of the environment says that nature is part of the world too, so it should be given respect.

In the Vedas, the complete understanding is given. Every living being is a spirit soul at the core. The soul is what animates anything that is animated. The tree is even a spirit soul. Though it is technically a nonmoving creature, the inability to move does not disqualify its status as a life force. When it is chopped down, it is no longer alive, in the same way that a human being who passes on is no longer living. Nevertheless, while it is alive, the tree is a living force. The same holds true for the animals, the insects, the beasts and the aquatics.

Bhagavad-gita, 13.32“Those with the vision of eternity can see that the soul is transcendental, eternal, and beyond the modes of nature. Despite contact with the material body, O Arjuna, the soul neither does anything nor is entangled.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 13.32)

The soul is indestructible. At the time of death it simply carries over to some other body. The bodies are different. There is no denying this. Even identical twins don’t have the same bodies after a while. One of the twins eats pizza all the time and the other is on a juice diet. How then can their bodies be the same? Spiritually they are identical in quality. Spirit is immutable, unchanging, undying and primeval. The outward indication of spirit is consciousness, and this consciousness carries over from lifetime to lifetime, like the air carrying aromas.

In none of the discussion thus far have we touched on a Hindu religion or a Christian religion. We haven’t mentioned faith, either. The facts of the soul are not sectarian. They are scientific principles easily understood, yet very rarely accepted. The same ignorance that leads one to behave violently towards their fellow man and the nature around them precludes them from accepting basic facts of the universal presence of spirit.

Shrila PrabhupadaHis Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada says that knowing only the presence of the spirit soul in all life forms can save one from the contamination of material illusion. Only under illusion do we think that the animals are soulless. Only under illusion do we think that some races are inferior and others superior. Only under illusion do we think that a human being elected to a post is godlike, where he can deliver what we want on a whim. Only under illusion do we think that we can create a document through mental speculation alone and give it unassailable status for providing guidance in life.

Spirit has a source. There is an original spiritual storehouse. Generally that source is referred to as God. Since all souls come from Him, His influence is distributed everywhere. The quality of fire is warmth, and it is the same in every sphere. If I light a fire in my room, it creates warmth. This works no matter where I am. I could be in the North Pole or somewhere in Africa near the equator and the fire will still have its warmth.

The spirit soul is the same way. Whether we see the body of an ant or a human being, a soul is still present. Since the soul is tied to God, a part and parcel of Him, we actually see God everywhere. From this basic principle of the Vedas we have a way of seeing God, debunking the misconception that God is a manmade figure or a mythical character. And seeing God is only the first step. The constitutional position of the spirit soul is servant of God, so from seeing that God’s influence is everywhere, one can easily take up service to Him.

In Closing:

Like fire to burn in wood or in tree,

Presence of Supreme Lord in all to see.


He is both here and there,

In all creatures, He is everywhere.


In all societal causes taken up,

Similar vision in others to open up.


From Vedas complete vision to get,

To see God and in service be set.

Thursday, September 12, 2013


Burning wood“The example is given of the fire in wood. The fire kindled in wood is always the same, although the wood may be of different types. Similarly, the bodies within the material creation may be specifically different according to shape and quality, but the spirit souls within them are not different from one another. The quality of fire, warmth, is the same everywhere, and the spiritual spark, or part and parcel of the Supreme Spirit, is the same in every living being; thus the potency of the Lord is distributed all over His creation.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 3.9.32 Purport)

Whether you take a large log from the sturdiest tree or a leftover piece of wood that doesn’t seem very dense, fire will burn through it all the same. The fire may last longer in some kinds of wood than others, but the burning takes place nevertheless. The fire thus does not play favorites. It retains its behavior no matter the attached substance. The spirit soul is the same way. It is vibrant within any species, though to the outside observer sometimes that vibrancy is difficult to perceive.

As souls are found in all species, it means that the spiritual energy is distributed everywhere. This is the meaning to “all-pervading,” and it is one way to understand God. He is the source of the spiritual energy. Therefore to say that I am disconnected from God at any moment is not correct. In consciousness I may be far apart, but in physical proximity I need look no further than my heart. In there resides His expansion as the Supersoul, the all-pervading witness. The Supersoul is present everywhere. If it were absent from any location, it would mean that the location was lacking an existence.

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)

At the time of death, the individual soul leaves the body. It is like when the fire is done consuming the wood. If a fire is extinguished, fire itself doesn’t become extinct. It does not mean that you can never get fire again. Similarly, when the spirit soul leaves a living being, it doesn’t mean that life stops. The soul’s existence is constant. It will just find somewhere else to live. This is a way to understand reincarnation, or the changing of bodies.

Wind blowing through treesThe soul is a subtle element. It is finer than body, mind and intelligence, none of which can be seen with blunt instruments. It’s sort of like seeing the wind. “Can you show me the wind? Can you tell me its shape? Can you tell me what color it is? Can you tell me where it lives?” There are no answers to these questions because the wind must be perceived through its effect on other objects. We know that it is windy outside based on the movements of a flag. If the branches on a tree are moving back and forth, we know that the wind is present. If we feel a pressure of air on us from time to time when we are outside, we know that there is a breeze.

The soul is perceived through the autonomous motions of a living being. A living being is by definition a collection of matter that is controlled by spirit. The beating of the heart is done by the soul. Science will say that the heart beats involuntarily, but if there is no soul there is no beating heart. Therefore the soul is the heart of the heart, the life of the existence.

The Supreme Soul travels with the departed soul to the next body. With that travel, the next living being retains its previous consciousness. In the Bhagavad-gita this transfer is likened to the air carrying aromas. A flower has a pleasant fragrance, but that flower might be situated many yards away from me. I can still smell it, however, through the potency of the air. The aforementioned wind carries that aroma towards me. Thus something that was far away gets right next to me. The spirit soul and its consciousness were in a different body and place in a previous existence, but through the influence of the Supersoul they are carried on to the next life.

Such knowledge is pertinent since it helps the individual to realize that God is everywhere. In His original form He is a personality who is all-attractive. Therefore realizing Him is important. Attractiveness means that others will find Him attractive. Even the so-called enemies of God are still attracted to Him in some way. They are enamored by His material creation, which is His inferior energy. They are taken in by the illusion of temporary sense gratification, which is strengthened by wine, women, money, drugs and gambling.

Bhagavad-gita, 7.5“Besides this inferior nature, O mighty-armed Arjuna, there is a superior energy of Mine, which are all living entities who are struggling with material nature and are sustaining the universe.” (Lord Krishna, Bg. 7.5)

God’s residence within all life forms represents His superior energy, which is the spiritual energy. Attractiveness towards the superior energy brings superior results. And yet it is difficult to be attracted towards something we can’t see. Therefore guidance is provided through shastra, or scripture. They teach one how to see God everywhere. The guru teaches one how to connect with God everywhere after seeing Him, and the sadhu helps one to maintain that connection through devotional practices.

Shrila Prabhupada worshipingObviously, if God is everywhere, it means that He doesn’t play favorites. All souls come from Him, so they are viewed equally. His viewpoint is meant to be our viewpoint as well. Through the illusion of the material energy we take one person to be our friend and another to be our enemy, one species to be superior and another to be inferior, but this is actually not the case. The equality in vision is achieved easily by one who studies the Supreme Lord in His personal form and then always connects with Him through chanting His names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

In Closing:

Type of wood fire not to care,

Through it intensely to tear.


Fire extinguished but not gone,

Somewhere else wood to set upon.


Though bodies not all the same,

Spirit inside, like burning flame.


His all-pervasiveness on display,

To see God this is one way.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Radhashtami 2013

Radha-Krishna“Radha-Krishna is one. Radha-Krishna is Krishna and Krishna's pleasure potency combined. When Krishna exhibits His pleasure potency, He appears to be two - Radha and Krishna. Otherwise, Radha and Krishna are one.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Chaitanya Charitamrita, Madhya 8.282 Purport)

When we say that someone has eyes for someone else, it means that they are attracted to that person. A symptom of that attraction is the behavior of their eyes: it will only focus on the object of attraction. In the case of the perfection of the energy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, this phrase has both symbolic and literal meaning. It is symbolic in the sense that the energy is certainly attracted to the Supreme Lord, taking the utmost pleasure in seeing Him. It is literal in the sense that during the energy’s pastimes on earth in her original form, the first thing she saw was her beloved. She didn’t see anything else prior, so her vision was never tainted. On the occasion of Radhashtami we celebrate her wonderful sight, a sense which is dedicated exclusively to the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare,” is a mantra now famous throughout the world due to the tireless work of His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and his many disciples. Taking the original Sanskrit definition, a mantra is a sequence of words to deliver the mind. To deliver implies that there is some danger. The mind is considered to be in perpetual danger when enveloped by maya. Maya is a Sanskrit word that can mean “that which is not.” It is actually just an energy, but based on how it is viewed it can create an illusion.

Light switchWhen the mind is suffering from the effects of maya, it needs to be rescued. Think of it like being stuck in a dark room and searching for the light switch. You have to be very careful in such a circumstance. If you walk too fast, you’ll likely bump into something. You could walk straight into a wall and cut your head open. So you keep your arms out, feeling for different objects, until you finally find the light switch. When the switch is flipped on, the light delivers you from the dangerous situation.

A mantra is like a light switch for the mind affected by maya. There are many mantras in the Vedas, the original scriptural tradition of India. There are different ailments that afflict the mind, and so many mantras exist to give aid. The aforementioned mantra is known as the maha-mantra, or the great sequence of words to deliver the mind. This mantra provides the best light, so to speak. It clears the mind of the illusion of false proprietorship over temporary objects. It clears up for the mind the doubt over the existence of a supreme controller. It allows the mind to know that there is both a Supreme Lord and an energy, and that both are meant to work together.

In the maha-mantra, the words Krishna and Rama address the Supreme Lord. They are two words to describe the same person. Another word for Krishna is Hari. And that which belongs to Hari is known as Hare. Hare is thus the energy of God; it is always with Him. We are part of the “Hare,” but we have a choice in how to act. Think of it like children who can either listen to the parents or ignore them. The Hare addressed in the maha-mantra is the purest form of that energy; it never thinks to deviate from devotional service, which is the highest occupational duty for all spirit souls.

Hare has eyes only for Hari. This is evidenced in her behavior. God is the masculine, and His supreme energy is the feminine. Indeed, in the grand scheme we are all feminine, though in the temporary body we think we are masters over the predominated material energy. We are really under the control of the divine, who is thus masculine. When the feminine always seeks to meet the interests of the masculine, and the masculine fully reciprocates that affection, there is oneness. Thus in this sense there is no difference between Hari and Hare.

Hari and Hare live in the transcendental abode known as Goloka Vrindavana. In that special land everyone is Krishna conscious. No one is deluded by maya. There is no need for deliverance of the mind, for the mind is always engaged in serving Krishna to some capacity. There is a replica of that Vrindavana in the earthly realm, and from time to time both the energetic and the energy descend to show their divine play.

Shrimati RadharaniHare appears in her original form of Shrimati Radharani. The exact sequence of events pertaining to her appearance and pastimes varies, since she appears in millennium after millennium. Space and time are continuous, so all manifestations go through cycles of creation and destruction. Both Hari and Hare appear over and over again, and sometimes they don’t always do everything in the same way.

Their most recent appearances took place some five thousand years ago in the Vrindavana of this land. Radharani appeared as the daughter of King Vrishabhanu and his wife Kirtida. Everyone was overjoyed when she was born, for she was amazingly beautiful. As was custom, so many great personalities came to the house to see her, wishing the parents well. There was one slight problem, though. Radharani had yet to open her eyes. The parents were afraid that she was blind.

One time they called over Nanda Maharaja and mother Yashoda, who were the parents of Shri Krishna, Radharani’s beloved. It is said that while the parents were talking in another room, Krishna crawled up to the bed on which Radharani was and touched her eyes. Upon this touch, she immediately opened her eyes. The first thing she saw was Krishna. Thus we know the real meaning behind her “eye problem”: she would not look at anything without first seeing Krishna. This is the mood of the pure devotee. They would rather be blind than be forced to see so many things that aren’t fully representative of their beloved Supreme Lord. In another version of the same event, Krishna and Radharani are both sitting on the lap of mother Yashoda. Krishna then touches her eyes and she opens them for the first time, seeing Him.

Radha and KrishnaThe conditioned souls have eyes for so many things. We love one person today, and the next our eye wanders elsewhere. Today we crave a certain food dish, and tomorrow we want something else. This constant change is guaranteed to continue for as long as one is in maya, for the very definition of maya is that which is not God. Of course everything is ultimately God, but the material energy is separated from Him. It is His energy, but the inferior variety. The eyes of the person who is pure in consciousness stay fixed on God once they find Him. On Radhashtami we celebrate the beloved of Shri Krishna. She is the queen of Goloka and has eyes only for the most attractive person in the world.

In Closing:

To not look elsewhere she chose,

New child to keep her eyes closed.


That is until Yashoda’s boy came,

All-attractive, of Krishna the name.


Touched her eyes when upon bed to reach,

That eyes only for Krishna she did teach.


Supremely auspicious is Radhashtami day,

Name of beloved of Krishna we happily say.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Stay a Demon

The material ocean“Those who are envious and mischievous, who are the lowest among men, are cast by Me into the ocean of material existence, into various demoniac species of life.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 16.19)

Bhagavad-gita, 16.19Shri Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is very kind. There is none more kind, in fact. His treatment of the demons gives an example. The English word “demon” has a specific connotation. It is associated with the bad guys in movies, people who do not even behave human-like sometimes. In Sanskrit, the equivalent term is asura. This is simply a negation of the word sura, which means “devotee.” A sura has the divine qualities, while the asura has the demoniac.

image“The transcendental qualities are conducive to liberation, whereas the demonic qualities make for bondage. Do not worry, O son of Pandu, for you are born with the divine qualities.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 16.5)

Therefore the terms sura and asura are not assigned subjectively. The terms are based on qualities possessed. I can be drinking a glass of water right now and know for sure that it is water based on the properties of the beverage. If those properties are present, there is no question about what I am drinking. Only a fool would think such an issue is up for interpretation. A good lawyer will argue against me anyway, but they are just doing their job. When they see that the sky is blue, they know it to be so, but just to stay true to their profession they may argue that it is not blue from time to time.

glass of waterThe asura’s root quality is enviousness of the Supreme Lord. They have a lot to be envious over. In God we find the qualities of beauty, wealth, strength, fame, wisdom and renunciation to the fullest degree. They also exist in Him simultaneously. Not that He has full strength one day and then full wisdom the next. We see people in the gym who are very strong and think that they lack intelligence. The nerd is supposedly very smart but lacking in strength. The person living as a renounced monk doesn’t have much wealth. The famed rock star living the hedonistic lifestyle has tremendous wealth but no renunciation.

In God such deficiencies are not present. The individual, who is not God nor will he ever be in the future, has a choice in how to act with knowledge of God’s position. The asura makes the wrong choice. They stay envious. In an objective analysis this is a stupid choice. If you know someone else is superior to you and will always remain so, what is the point to being envious? Why not join their side, especially if they are not envious of you? If they have all good qualities, wouldn’t a friendly relationship with them be more beneficial?

Lord KrishnaAll-compassion is also found in God, who is known as Krishna because of His all-attractiveness. He has many other names as well, all assigned to Him by those who understand Him to an extent. Since full knowledge exists only in Him, it is impossible for anyone else to know Krishna completely. With His unmatched compassion, Krishna allows the asura to stay an asura. That is what they want after all. They don’t want to be a sura. They don’t want to be devoted to Krishna. They would rather hopelessly try to reach the position of God themselves.

To facilitate their desire, Krishna casts the asuras into so many lower species, lifetime after lifetime. A lower species is one where knowledge is lacking. A dog will have sex with anyone. It also doesn’t know to not use the kitchen floor as a restroom. The fish does not know when to stop eating. The monkey is a thief without a conscience. In this way the lower species are lacking intelligence. The most important intelligence relates to knowing God, and we know that the lower species have no shot at knowing God. Unable to ever know Him, they cannot make the choice to be devoted to Him. Hence the asura thrown into the lower species is guaranteed to remain an asura, at least for the foreseeable future.

Now let’s take the opposite situation. How does the asura behave when put in control? If they are given temporary positions of power, do they leave the suras alone? Do they allow the devoted souls to practice their devotion without obstruction? Since the asuras are envious of Krishna, they are also envious of those who are devoted to Krishna. Unlike the all-compassionate, all-attractive Lord, they will do whatever they can to convert the suras into asuras. They will posit theories that deny the existence of God. They will tell others to worship them; mind you only after they have risen to positions of power. “Why pray to God for food when the government will grow it for you? Don’t worry about abortion, it is not killing. It is merely a way for a woman to exercise her reproductive rights. Don’t worry about the destruction of the earth through constant drilling. This is merely a sign of progress. God gave us this land to enjoy, so why should we restrain ourselves?”

Rama and Lakshmana defending against TatakaIn Vedic texts the examples of asuras and their behavior are more pronounced. Describing historical events, the Ramayana tells us of a time when a very powerful asura, who was more technically known as a Rakshasa, or man-eater, loved to attack the peaceful suras living in the remote wilderness. He and his brethren would attack during times of sacrifice, which is akin to going into a church while a priest is giving a sermon and then laying siege to the place. The Rakshasas would kill the sages and then eat them. And who were these sages bothering? They had no money. They were not harming anyone.

On one side Krishna allows the envious to remain so, and on the other the asura does not allow the devoted to continue practicing. Based on this objective analysis alone we see that Krishna’s side is superior; He is fair. Under further analysis, the cause for that superiority is revealed: Krishna is God, the same God that everyone knows about to some degree, whether or not they choose to worship Him. His devotees inherit His divine qualities to a degree, and therefore what they teach is always rooted in righteousness.

In Closing:

If devoted to the impious way,

Krishna says a demon you will stay.


Reward matched to what they desire,

In pursuit of temporary not to tire.


But if the roles should happen to reverse,

Demons for devotees create conditions adverse.


As Supreme Lord, Krishna the most fair,

Superior when objectively to compare.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Using This Body

sun_moon_wind_rain_elements_nature“Without the Supreme Lord, there can be no profuse sunlight, moonlight, rainfall, breeze, etc., without which no one can live. Obviously, our life is dependent on supplies from the Lord. Even for our manufacturing enterprises, we require so many raw materials like metal, sulfur, mercury, manganese, and so many essentials - all of which are supplied by the agents of the Lord, with the purpose that we should make proper use of them to keep ourselves fit and healthy for the purpose of self-realization, leading to the ultimate goal of life, namely, liberation from the material struggle for existence.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 3.12 Purport)

“My allergies are really bothering me this season. Some years are worse than others. Last year, I was okay for the most part; just a few days here and there were severe. I’ll never forget that one day at work when I sneezed for seemingly the entire day. I couldn’t look at my monitor for more than a few seconds at a time. What the other people must have thought? It was very embarrassing, and this was my first day, too. What a way to start at a new place.

Tissues“I’m not as worried now because I can purchase medication that will help immensely. There are side effects, of course. I transform into a zombie-like state, where it is easier to fall asleep if I want to. The sleep isn’t real, though. If you sleep well, you’re not supposed to be tired the next day. With this medication, I can sleep through the night okay, but then during the afternoon of the next day I am extremely tired. This is because the sleep the night before wasn’t so effective.

“Nevertheless, I take this medication because it helps me to breathe. The allergy symptoms are reduced and the nasal passageways are cleared. The key ingredient that aids the breathing through the nose is pseudoephedrine. It is found in many decongestant cold medications as well. Since they’ve added it to allergy medications, I no longer fear allergy season. I have a weapon to use in my fight against itching, sneezing, and nasal congestion.

Allergy medication“The only real nuisance is that I have to show my driver’s license every time I purchase this medication. I feel as if I’m doing something wrong, though I’m not. If I bought pain killers or regular allergy medication, I wouldn’t have this problem. Nobody would think anything of it. Why the added security measure? Well, apparently the pseudoephedrine in the allergy medication can be used to create crystal meth, which is a recreational drug that is either banned or highly regulated by the government. If people purchase too much of the allergy medication in a short period of time, the government is tipped off to the behavior, with the assumption that the purchases are used for making the recreational drug. Simply amazing; something that can lessen the symptoms of my allergies can also do so much damage to the body.”

In this example, we have a medication and an accompanying ideal use. That ideal use is known to the majority of the patients. They wouldn’t know of the medication otherwise. They would have no reason to use it. Indeed, someone suffering from allergies in such a way likely doesn’t care what the ingredients are. They are looking for relief; not a lesson on science. Side by side, the improper use of the medication is so harmful that the government steps in to regulate its purchase.

The body of the living entity can be thought of in the same light. It has an ideal use. That use brings the healthy condition. The occupier of the body, the individual, does not need to know why that ideal use is beneficial. They do not need to know the purpose to see the benefit. The use itself is that powerful. So many negative consequences follow any other utilization of the body that an entire disciplinary system is in place to monitor the behavior of the human being. This system, which can also be explained and studied in a philosophy, is known as dharma, which is often translated to mean religion or religiosity. In this way we see that real religion is simply a way to maintain, sort of like a guidebook for the body.

Dharma cannot apply to the species lower than the human being because these other species have no way to change their behavior through instruction. You may get a dog to sit and roll over on command, but you can’t get it to avoid sinful behavior. Sin doesn’t apply to dogs because they are not expected to adhere to honesty, cleanliness, austerity or compassion. These four principles are there for the human being to follow because they couple with the ideal use of the body.

That ideal use is serving God. There is no other purpose to the human body. It would also be the purpose in the other bodies, but due to nature’s arrangement those bodies are limited in their exercise of ability. The tree cannot serve God because it cannot know God. The spirit soul inside the tree is enveloped in so much ignorance that it cannot even move. The dog and the monkey primarily act off the urges to eat and mate. The tiger acts off the instinct to kill, and the moth is not intelligent enough to realize that it will die by entering the luminous flame.

The human body is provided for serving God. We can think of it like medication for the spirit soul, a vehicle for eradicating the previous ignorance. Since the body is vulnerable to so many other uses, the guidebooks known as shastra are given. They tell us how to use the body, starting from infancy. In that helpless state the parents get the burden of protecting. Then in youth the responsibility shifts to the guru, or spiritual master. In adulthood, where there is the independence to make one’s own decisions, the instruction from the past helps to keep one in line. Therefore whether one is a child or an old man, there is equally the opportunity to serve God and thus use the body correctly.

In the present age the influence of shastra is greatly diminished, for in ignorance man thinks that the summit to an existence is to enjoy the senses as much as possible. No thought is given to how so many diet and exercise routines are employed because of the negative effects of unrestricted sense enjoyment. No thought is given to how one is still left wanting after having eaten to their satisfaction. The opinion is that since material enjoyment can be found without praying to God, what need is there for God in one’s life? He must be a figment of the imagination of the less intelligent.

Reading Bhagavad-gitaDespite shastra’s limited influence today, there is still a way to serve God that can be taken up by any person. That way is the chanting of the holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.” Chanting is also hearing, which reading provides for as well. These are ways of serving God, which is the proper use of this most valuable human body. With an intelligence advanced enough to foresee negative consequences to prohibited behavior, the human being can also see what awaits them through the proper use of serving the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

In Closing:

This body from heaven sent,

For understanding God life is meant.


In case to take use that is wrong,

In for misery hard and long.


If path of transcendence to choose,

With intelligence to see future can use.


Shastra our actions to guide,

Relief by ideal use to abide.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Perhaps It Is True

Outer space“There are many so-called scientists who suggest that perhaps it was like this, or maybe like that, but there is no question of ‘perhaps’ and ‘maybe.’ There is a specific plan being carried out in this material world. What is this plan? This cosmic manifestation is a chance for the conditioned souls to go back to Godhead, back to home.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 11.33 Purport)

“Why should I trust you scientists? In the past you have told us so many things. You were wrong so many times. Never once did you say, ‘Oh, I might be wrong about this.’ No, you presented your conclusions as fact, as you do today. If you were wrong then, you can be wrong now. I, on the other hand, have never changed. ‘Always be devoted to God.’ This has worked since time immemorial.”

It is understandable that the person who really believes in God would be skeptical of the claims of scientists trying to explain the origin of life or how to go about successfully living it. Not that the concept of gravity is wrong or that photosynthesis was just made up, but these ideas that the earth is only a certain number of years old or that the universe came into being through a random collision of chemicals are presented as indisputable facts coming from irrefutable sources. The skepticism stems from the validity of the claims themselves, or more specifically the proven invalidity from the past.

You see it on the news. A new study has just come out stating that such and such food is now good for you. There was an experiment conducted, with proper controls, showing that people who took such and such amounts of such and such food didn’t get such and such disease. The study must have a narrow focus, for the more conditions you try to test for the more outside factors you introduce. If I study the effect that drinking coffee has on “road rage,” I must ignore the effect it has on scoring well on exams. If I studied both things together, then it is nearly impossible to get proper controls. So many other factors could contribute to either road rage or high performance on an exam that coffee’s influence would be of secondary concern. As every single contributing factor cannot be accounted for, we know that these studies can never be entirely perfect.

Coffee, is it good or bad?Nevertheless, the studies are supported by scientists, who serve as the expert testimony. Never do they say that “we think” or “perhaps this is the case.” They give their conclusions with full confidence. To objectively analyze this, we must first acknowledge that the new study shows that the previous studies were not perfect. They missed the mark. If they were perfect, new studies wouldn’t be necessary. In addition, today’s study will be replaced by another one later on. The past studies were presented with the same certitude, where the conclusions were considered correct beyond doubt. The newer studies debunk the previous claims, proving only that there is no certainty in the science that ignores the presence of spirit.

The person who really believes in God understands the position of the Supreme Soul. God is the existence of existences. He is the life of everything. He is even the life behind the bogus scientific study. In that instance, He is the life of the individual who is desperately trying to hold on to their hope to figure out the puzzle of life without giving in to God. They want so badly to have perfect knowledge that they will spend an entire lifetime studying a nature that is impossible to control. Whether you figure out that coffee is good or bad for you, that knowledge won’t help you to remain alive forever. It won’t bring back your childhood body. It won’t prevent the onset of old age. It will not eliminate every single disease there is. Therefore the knowledge is not very powerful, though the individual who owns it thinks they are in a superior position.

The Supreme Lord gives life to such defiance in a passive way. He has no interest in serving as the life of the scientific study, but He does so anyway because He allows desires to be acted upon. If He didn’t allow for these desires, He would be forcing others to submit to His will, which would invalidate the concept of independence. That independence is what makes the genuine believers in God so dear to Him. They have made the choice to surrender to the Lord, to understand His position, and to leave the complicated issues up to Him. In their case the Supreme Lord is again the life of the individual, except He takes a direct role, steering the individual towards a suitable destination.

Hanuman worshiping Sita and RamaThe philosophy of the devotee has not changed once. It has been in place since time immemorial, when it was first learned by the first created living entity, Lord Brahma. That philosophy has since been passed on, with no alterations made. The words used to explain the philosophy may vary according to time and place, but the central principles do not. This philosophy says that God is the chief living being, the maintainer of all maintained objects. The spirit soul is the essence of identity, and it is found within all the species. The individual soul is meant to serve the Supreme Soul, who is God. Service appears in nine different faces, any of which is sufficient to qualify as service, provided the worshiper has pure motives. Even with mixed motives, the pathway of devotion is so potent that eventually the impurities get removed.

No research work is required in the area of devotion to God, but for the inquisitive mind there is a wealth of historical evidence available anyway. Vedic texts like the Ramayana, Shrimad Bhagavatam and Mahabharata provide real-life tests of devotion, showing how it works. Other paths are described as well, along with the qualities of the individuals and the destinations they reached. History in this sense can be thought of as a large collection of scientific experiments. We have plenty of results to use for analysis, and the conclusion of shastra, or scripture, is always confirmed.

Bhagavad-gita, 7.23“Men of small intelligence worship the demigods, and their fruits are limited and temporary. Those who worship the demigods go to the planets of the demigods, but My devotees ultimately reach My supreme planet.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.23)

Fun in Krishna's planetIn the Bhagavad-gita, the Supreme Soul says that His worshipers ultimately reach His abode, which is unmanifest to the eyes of the conditioned souls. It is a self-effulgent realm, so no artificial light is required. There is no birth or death there, so anyone who lives there never has to leave. That residence is guaranteed for anyone who is truly God conscious. Reaching that destination through practicing devotion is not a theory to be contemplated over as a mere academic exercise. That destination is real and guaranteed for the devotee, with no “perhaps” involved.

In Closing:

Results of study I present to you,

It’s perfect, wholeheartedly true.


Then in few weeks another that is new,

Debunks past study, but fact it is too.


With changes studies never to square,

Mental speculation well not to fare.


Devotees real truth do know,

Not to change like time does so.


This food may or may not be good,

Still studying, not yet understood.


Devotion to God to stand time’s test,

Guaranteed for reaching destination best.