Saturday, November 23, 2013

Anartha Nivritti

No smoking“The work of a man who is unattached to the modes of material nature and who is fully situated in transcendental knowledge merges entirely into transcendence.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.23)

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Bhagavad-gita, 4.23It is said that the seed of bhakti, or devotion, starts growing when first handed over by the benevolent spiritual master or devotee. One of the stages of that development is anartha-nivritti, where unwanted things are gradually removed. From studying the typical life cycle of the human being, the necessity for this stage becomes quite apparent.

In the beginning the human being drinks just milk. They don’t have a choice in the matter. They accept whatever the parents provide. It is noteworthy that by drinking the mother’s milk alone the newborn can survive without issue. They don’t have to worry about a nutritional balance. They don’t need to pay attention to exercise or protein consumption. The milk has everything they need.

Even in the young adult years, the child is relatively pure. There is no such thing as smoking, drinking, or gambling. And yet the same individual a few decades later can be addicted to such things. It means that these things are gradually introduced through association. I see others in school smoking, so I decide to give it a try. I want to escape from the miserable material experience which repeats day after day, so I reach for a bottle of whiskey. Everyone else is doing it, so why not me too?

CupcakesAnartha means something that is not profitable. This has meaning across all spheres. To the fitness buff, the cupcake sitting on the counter is not profitable. It will get in the way of their goal of remaining physically fit. To another person the cupcake is just what the doctor ordered; it is what they would like to eat the most. To a person trying to study for an exam, loud noise is not profitable. To another person who wants to party all night, the loud noise is a necessity.

In devotional service, the anarthas are those things which keep the individual from remaining conscious of God. From the life of the infant, we see that gambling and drugs are not necessary to remain alive. The child will not die if they don’t smoke. They will not die if they fail to play bingo or the slots. Why, then, should there be fear over renouncing such things in adulthood? Why should anyone think that they cannot live without getting drunk periodically? Why should anyone believe that giving up gambling will make their life miserable?

The removal of the unwanted creates more space for the wanted. If your room is cluttered with junk, when you get rid of it you can enjoy the time in the room more. Gambling and intoxication are like junk for the consciousness. They keep one from contemplating the beautiful features belonging to the all-attractive Personality of Godhead. They keep one from thinking clearly as well. After all, that is the point to getting intoxicated. Those inhibitions during periods of sobriety that prevent you from acting a certain way suddenly vanish in the intoxicated state. Therefore you get the courage to do things you normally wouldn’t. Then, in the aftermath, you realize that those inhibitions were probably good for you. You didn’t need to act stupid in order to be happy.

The clear consciousness can always think of God. When there is difficulty keeping the concentration, there is the audible chanting of the holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.” This creates the sound of God all around, within the immediate vicinity. Chanting forces one to act, and if one is sleepy, overly stressed, or focused on some other objective, it is more difficult to chant. Therefore one of the benefits of anartha-nivritti is the increased ability to chant the holy names, which is the dharma specific for this age.

Harer Nama“In this Age of Kali there is no other means, no other means, no other means for self-realization than chanting the holy name, chanting the holy name, chanting the holy name of Lord Hari.” (Brihan-naradiya Purana)

Chanting beadsIn the end, you work to enjoy some kind of result. That is the point to going to the office for long hours, five days a week. That is the point to travelling so far just to earn a living. You are working primarily to eat, and once that is taken care of you are working to enjoy. If the nature of that enjoyment is such that one is constantly amidst things that are not profitable, the work essentially goes to waste. It’s like spending time all day to fill up a jug of water, only to empty that jug at night. Then the next day the cycle repeats.

In this way anartha-nivritti makes one’s work more profitable. It ensures that the enjoyable free time afforded from working for money doesn’t get misused on things that are not beneficial in the end. By working to support a life in a devotional culture, the work itself becomes transcendental. It merges into transcendence, which means that it no longer bears effects in karma, which is fruitive activity. Through something as basic as removing unwanted things and chanting the holy names, an entire life can turn around, proving once again the unique potency of bhakti-yoga.

In Closing:

In simple and innocent play,

For child easy way to spend day.


For cigarettes ask it will not,

Gambling too and alcohol not a drop.


Without these things fine to survive,

Get in way of life’s goal to strive.


Remove them for consciousness to clear,

Then can chant holy names without fear.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Searching for Heaven

Vaikuntha“The modern scientists who are trying to travel in space are having difficulty going even to the nearest planet, the moon, to say nothing of the highest planets within the universe. There is no possibility that they can go beyond the material sky, enter the spiritual sky and see for themselves the spiritual planets, Vaikuntha. Therefore, the kingdom of God in the spiritual sky can be understood only through the authentic descriptions of the Vedas and Puranas.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 3.15.15 Purport)

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From just limited association with an organized religion, one gets a basic familiarity with the concept of heaven. “You do good in this life in order to find a better lot in the next. If you are a good person, you are rewarded. If you are a bad person, you get punished.” At first glance, this concept is very easy to dismiss. For starters, no one is sure of the afterlife. Tomorrow is the after of today. We can try to predict what will happen tomorrow, but we are never entirely accurate. I can think about what I am going to eat tomorrow, which restaurant I will visit for lunch. But when tomorrow comes, something could change the plans. I might even change my mind, wanting to eat something else instead. If we can’t predict the next day, which occurs relatively soon, how can we know for sure what the afterlife is?

This uncertainty contributes strongly to the widespread disregard of religious doctrine. But this needn’t be the case, as the pursuit of a better future takes place always. Without really understanding God, man thinks he can find heaven using his own effort. Through difficult physical work, he seeks to travel to new territories, hoping that life will be better there than in the present land. And yet all the difficult work proves fruitless, for the same problems of birth, death, old age and disease are present. Work applied in genuine spiritual life yields a much better result, and the effort isn’t nearly as difficult. Travelling many thousands of miles isn’t required, just a shift in consciousness.

Consider man’s innate yearning to explore. In more recent times, this has taken him to outer space and to areas within it like the moon. Despite the acclaimed space travel, under a sober analysis one would have to face some serious questions. “So you’ve gone into outer space, but what have you gained? Did you prolong your life? Did you find a fountain of youth or something? Did you find a way to prevent death? Did you discover the cause to birth?”

The moonThe answer to all of these questions is ‘no.’ Man worked very, very hard to get into outer space, which is the heavenly realm to the godless. We know that it took a lot of work based on the amount of money that was spent. Even if the government funded the exploration, and one thinks that it didn’t cost them anything personally, those funds had to be raised from somewhere. Taxation is nothing but the lawful confiscation of the fruits of one’s labor. If you spend billions of dollars to create mechanisms to go into outer space, it means that people did the labor equivalent of those billions of dollars. They went to the office or place of business for many days and generated enough profit, all to be spent on a small number of expeditions.

Despite all the work that went into the travel, nothing tangible was learned about man and his purpose to life. From ancient Sanskrit texts like the Bhagavad-gita, we learn that man finds heavenly and hellish conditions all the time, without having to travel far. Indeed, because of duality what is hellish for one person may not be so for another. To me, having to watch daytime television is the greatest punishment. I can’t stand the talk shows that are nothing more than fluff, having no substance to them. To another person, the same television programming is enjoyable. These pleasant and miserable conditions appear and disappear at regular intervals, like the changing of seasons.

Bhagavad-gita, 2.14“O son of Kunti, the nonpermanent appearance of happiness and distress, and their disappearance in due course, are like the appearance and disappearance of winter and summer seasons. They arise from sense perception, O scion of Bharata, and one must learn to tolerate them without being disturbed.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.14)

Bhagavad-gitaSo you can find heaven in a cave, in a bottle of whiskey, or in a space capsule that took millions of dollars to create. Wherever your heaven is, the experience is still temporary. This is also the case when reaching the heavenly realm described in scriptural texts. The religious tradition we inherit at the time of birth may not apprise us of this fact, but in accepting the more complete information that is Vedic literature, we learn that residence in any material realm is temporary. The enjoyment doesn’t last forever, and neither does the misery.

The eternal spiritual realm, the only true heaven, cannot be found through physical travel. It is not the distance that makes this realm difficult to reach. The sole requirement for entry is purity in consciousness. The desire of the individual indicates the level of purity. In the impure state, I think I can find heaven on my own, just by travelling somewhere. I think I can make up my own do’s and don’ts, a system of right and wrong, to find lasting happiness. I think I can ignore God, denounce Him, or usurp His authority. Instead of worshiping Him, I can get others to worship me.

In the pure consciousness, I want only to serve Him. I cannot conquer over the material nature. Those who follow the Vedic tradition but still don’t want to serve God inherently understand this limitation. Therefore they pray to Goddess Durga to make their stay in the difficult material land a little less miserable. Still, I can’t always get what I want. I am not God because if I was, I would never be frustrated in my desires.

Lord KrishnaIn the pure consciousness, I always get what I want. This is because the only thing I want is to serve the Supreme Lord. He then takes the reins and creates the conditions that allow that service to not only take place, but flourish as well. He reveals His transcendental form to me so that I can contemplate upon His divine features without end. He suddenly transforms me from a stuttering fool to an eloquent poet who can put phrases and sentences together very nicely, all to describe His features and activities. He removes the obstacles from my path and brings people into my life who will strengthen my devotion. Most importantly, when the time is right He brings me back to His eternal home, where I get to serve Him without restriction. The entry fee is the right consciousness, and that can be found not through billions of dollars or a lifetime of difficult labor. It can be found right here, today, right now, through the pure chanting of the holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.”

In Closing:

Since of God you do not know,

Think by yourself to heaven can go.


Millions of dollars airplane to make,

Then long and difficult journey to take.


But what new knowledge have you found?

Is not destiny still to be dust in the ground?


From Vedas get knowledge of heaven real,

Reach it when pure love for God to feel.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Right From the Start

Vedic literature“No human being or demigod can enact laws like those of the Vedic literature because the Vedic regulations are prescribed by the Supreme Lord.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 3.15.8 Purport)

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An intelligentsia in a society looks to solve problems, going beyond the basic criticisms from this political faction or that. They delve deeper into the issues, studying the visible effects and then creating ideas for redress. The inner circles then debate these plans, perhaps making counterproposals based on compromise to fix the problems. The issue, of course, is that this is all done after the fact. There were plans proposed previously, and they obviously didn’t work very well. The Vedas use foresight from the person who can see past, present and future for every single living entity. Therefore the laws of the Vedas are unlike any other.

There are so many examples to see how man’s laws are flawed, temporary, and constantly revised. If the laws were fixed, the entire world would be living under the same system of governance since time immemorial. There wouldn’t have been a need for a Constitutional Convention, a French Revolution, a Magna Carta, or a Bill of Rights.

The French RevolutionThe wise may have the noblest of intentions, but without proper foresight their proposals are full of holes. From recent times, we have the example of the Alternative Minimum Tax. It was originally proposed as a way to catch a few citizens who had managed to skirt the system of income taxation. Indeed, what these citizens were doing was entirely legal. What one person derides as a loophole is actually an existing law passed by a legislative body. The effect may have not been as intended, but the law is still the law.

So, in order to catch the few people who managed to use the existing laws to their advantage, the Congress passed the Alternative Minimum Tax, commonly known as the AMT. Now today so many are affected by this tax, and they are not nearly as wealthy as the people originally targeted. Lobbying groups exist to abolish the tax altogether. The same has been done with many laws passed by governments from all different nations.

Constitutional ConventionThe founding documents of the United States of America were crafted by men who were very intelligent in the material sense. Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin were great philosophers; their works still have value today, for they present guiding principles that resonate with all political factions to some degree. And yet those founding documents didn’t account for so many things. The gaps were later on addressed in amendments to the Constitution, but still there are problems that many citizens see. And so going forward even more revisions are made, with some seeking to abolish previous revisions.

Rather than analyze the aftereffects and then develop solutions, the Vedas see everything properly from the start. Only God has this vision, and so it shouldn’t surprise us that the Vedas come from God. Any person can say anything, so I could go up to you and present you with something I typed up on my computer and tell you that it is from God. You can choose to believe or not believe; so in this way authority is up for debate.

We can look to some of the wisdom of the Vedas to test for the validity of the claim of foresight. The Vedas say that man should inquire into the Absolute Truth. And who isn’t after truth? The godless man has been searching after reality since time immemorial. He wants something beyond carnal enjoyment, something to make meaning of the short time spent on earth in the manifest form of a human being.

The Vedas say that all rules and regulations are meant to help one find this truth and stay with it. Thus institutions like school, marriage, and organized religious life have a uniform purpose. School exists to teach one to see the unity in spirit between all life forms. Marriage allows for the continuation of the population, while at the same time controlling sex desire. Marriage is described as a very precarious situation; nowhere do the Vedas pretend that marriage is the most enjoyable aspect to life. All the problems of dealing with the opposite sex, of raising children and compromising interests, of dealing with the different natures of men and women, are accounted for in the recommendations for married life found in the Vedas.

The foresight into the meaning of life is also there. In the Bhagavad-gita, which perfectly summarizes Vedic teachings and is spoken by the origin of the Vedas Himself, we get questions and answers about the cycle of birth and death, the eternality of spirit, the duty of each man, and the role attachment and aversion should play in meeting the ultimate objective.

Bhagavad-gita, 2.7“Now I am confused about my duty and have lost all composure because of weakness. In this condition I am asking You to tell me clearly what is best for me. Now I am Your disciple, and a soul surrendered unto You. Please instruct me.” (Arjuna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.7)

ArjunaSpecifics for this community or that aren’t provided as much. Governing principles and the qualities necessary for leadership are given. Guidelines for taxation, protection, diplomacy, working, enjoying, and even thinking are given. These guidelines are without flaw, as they apply to every individual. The foundational principle is God consciousness, which every spirit soul has a birthright to. God consciousness is the original consciousness, so all guiding principles should aim to make the return to this consciousness the ultimate goal.

“If the Vedas are so perfect, why isn’t man following them today? Why does man think he can come up with his own rules and regulations instead?”

When a group of philosophers comes up with the idea that taxes should be lawful and fair, they are essentially agreeing with the Vedas. When a major magazine says on its cover that men and women are different, they confirm the Vedic conclusion. When one promotes temperance and regulation in enjoyment, they are agreeing with the Vedas. The issue, of course, is that they spent so much time reaching a conclusion that was already presented millions of years ago.

The tendency for man to ignore what is best for him is also accounted for in the Vedas, as is the gradual decline in religious practice with the further passage of time. Man comes to the material world when he desires to separate from God. Naturally, in such a land even when presented with wholesome truths man will reject them, thinking that he can make his own religion which has a core principle of godlessness. As everything originates in God, man cannot succeed in this venture, and any of his created truths which have effectiveness must bear some similarity to the Vedas as well. Take yoga for example. Meditational yoga is a Vedic method specifically targeted for the first age of creation, when life conditions are much purer. As an ancillary benefit to this yoga, one gets improved physical health. Fast forward to today, and the spiritual component is completely removed, where the practitioners only seek out the physical reward. The practice still belongs to the Vedas, but the godlessness makes its implementation less fruitful.

The principles are still there to be implemented. In the present age of Kali, which is the most degraded of the four ages, following religious guidelines from the beginning of life to the end is very difficult. Therefore the same potency is now invested in the name of God itself. The best names are included in the maha-mantra, which is to be chanted for perfection in life: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

In Closing:

With revisions coming here and there,

Confronting unexpected not so well to fare.


Get right knowledge from the start,

So from plan’s course not to depart.


Men and women not the same,

Marriage hard work, not a game.


To Vedas easily could have went,

Saving research and time poorly spent.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Not Afraid Anywhere

Prahlada being thrown off a cliff“The devotees of the Lord are not defeated anywhere in the universe. It is stated, narayana-parah sarve: one who is narayana-para, or a devotee of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is not afraid anywhere, whether he is sent to hell or promoted to heaven (SB 6.17.28).” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 3.15.7 Purport)

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“I have the company of friends and family, with whom I enjoy on a regular basis. They are my life support in many ways. If I am struggling, I can go to them for help. If I’m feeling lonely, I can give one of them a call and talk for hours on end. Though they are always around, I am afraid of what will happen in the future. What if I lose one of them suddenly? How will I cope? I want only the best for them, and I always worry about their futures as well. What if they don’t find happiness in life? Thus when I go to sleep each night, much of my contemplation revolves around fear.”

“I am completely alone right now. Seriously, if I passed on today, it might be days before someone in my family finds out. Any friends I’ve had over the years might not know until much later. We already go many months without speaking to one another. They each have their own interests to tend to. As a young adult, one of the ways to punish someone for wrongful behavior is to renounce their association. Give them the old ‘silent treatment.’ In adulthood, that really isn’t a weapon, since it is easier to avoid someone than it is to talk to them on a regular basis. If you’re angry with someone and not talking to them, they might not even notice. As I am all alone right now, I am afraid over the future. How long will this continue? Will I die this way?”

From these two situations we see that both the person who has so many things in life and the person who lacks them are fearful. Fear is due to uncertainty, and without the eyes of shastra to guide us, there is no way to understand this puzzle called life. We can try to gather as much information in our limited time as possible and then form conclusions after processing, but nuances creep in all the time. We have yet to figure out death, especially in how to prevent it. But we know that death is guaranteed. It is like we each have an hourglass of time that gets flipped at the time of birth. The sand is running as we speak, but we’re not exactly sure how much time is left.

HourglassFrom the aforementioned shastra, we learn that the devotee of the Supreme Personality of Godhead is not fearful anywhere. At the very least, they know of God as Narayana, which as a word means the source of all men. He is the original, and we are all different replicas. The original is similar in quality but vastly superior in the quantitative exercise of that quality.

The devotee knows that Narayana is the most powerful and that His influence spreads everywhere. Fear is due to forgetfulness of Him. Naturally, remembrance of Him removes that fear. Prahlada Maharaja gave a sterling example of this fearlessness. As a five year old son of a powerful king, he had every reason to feel comfortable in material opulence. All he had to do was tow the company line, listen to the royal teachers about how to grow up to be as fierce and successful a ruler as his father, and he would be set for life. For Prahlada, it was like growing up with a silver spoon in his mouth, winning the lottery at a young age.

Prahlada’s natural inclination was towards Narayana. He had no interest in money, power, fame or respect. He simply wanted to remain connected with God. He knew that even in royal opulence there is reason to fear. His father was always worried that his reign would end. He was always mindful of enemies. He was so paranoid that when Prahlada took to worshiping Narayana, he couldn’t handle it. The father, Hiranyakashipu, tried to change Prahlada’s ways using fear tactics. This didn’t work, so he resorted to physical punishment.

Prahlada attacked by HolikaPrahlada was ready to accept this, if that’s what his fate determined. He knew that the soul is eternal and that the changing of bodies is like the shedding of clothes. We don’t change who we are by getting a haircut, and so birth and death don’t determine or deny existence. Narayana determines existence, and since He is eternal, so are His innumerable sparks. Prahlada thus wasn’t so worried about his personal fate. He didn’t fear dying since he knew that Narayana would remain with him going forward. He didn’t fear living, either, since he knew he could worship Narayana despite residing in the midst of the greatest enemy of God.

As Narayana was the cause for his fearlessness, He was also the great protector of Prahlada from the attacks of Hiranyakashipu. The boy wasn’t afraid anywhere, and in his strength he couldn’t be vanquished. In material affairs, the end result is always destruction; which means there is always defeat. Knowing this, why wouldn’t one always be fearful?

Prahlada with NarasimhadevaWith the devotional consciousness, the guaranteed result to work is continued devotion, whether in this body or the next. Hence the ultimate end is success, which is a cause for joy rather than fear. Narayana is the only real source of pleasure in this world. Therefore He is also known by the name Rama. Since He is also all-attractive, He is known by the name Krishna. The fearless devotees of the Lord in this age hang on to His names to stay connected to Him: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

In Closing:

Knowing Narayana on his side,

Why then in fear to reside?


Since keeping with his devotion still,

His son Prahlada father wanted to kill.


For boy no fear in continued living,

Knew devotion to stay alive after dying.


For innocent child Narahari protecting hand,

No fear when God’s true nature to understand.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Seeking No Truth

Krishna holding His flute“The Absolute Truth is true for everyone, and the relative truth is relative to a particular position. The relative truth depends on the Absolute Truth, which is the summum bonum. God is the Absolute Truth, and the material world is relative truth.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Quest for Enlightenment, Ch 6b)

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How does one expect to be happy if the person they invest full faith in has no interest in the truth? Under the system of vox populi, winning is all. It is the most important thing. It is what determines greatness. The person who can win election to office time and again is known as a great politician, while the loser is embarrassed over failing to gain the approval of the protected citizens. In the Vedas the truth is the immediate focus of interest. That truth is not defined through an institution or a central authority figure who reached their post through a vote. Therefore the integrity is not tainted, and the truth has principles that cannot be violated. As such, one who abides by the truth gets the real benefit that life has to offer.

The tendencies of politicians operating in a democracy are not a secret. Take a look at any popular film or book and you will surely find instances of politicians lying to get what they want. When there is trouble, they look to cover up what happened. Depending on which side the journalists fall, there might even be praise for the politician because of their expert ability to survive the scandal. Never mind their willful assault on the truth. Never mind the damage they did to one or many other people through their nefarious behavior. As long as they continue to remain in office, they are considered adept.

ElectionsPerhaps it is difficult to grasp this analysis when considering existing political structures due to partisan lines that are already drawn. We can take a much simpler example to see the same principles in effect. Let’s say we have a household with five people. They are five friends of around the same age. They decide to elect one president of the household. This person will manage all the affairs. They will determine how much each person pays to stay in the house. The gathered money will be used for all the expenses, which include rent, television, utilities, etc.

Only two of the five people want to be president. We’ll call them candidates A and B. Candidate A is all about principle. They want each person to pay equally. Since they all live in the house, the rent should be divided amongst the five. Every person has equal access to the amenities in the house, and they each have the same size bedroom. Candidate A wants only limited interference from the president, just basic management. Make sure the bills are paid on time, make sure everyone pays the rent, take care of repairs when something should go wrong, and keep everyone generally informed. Most importantly, the household should run smoothly.

Candidate B says all the right things, but they have a different plan. They are very good friends with two of the three people not running for president. Therefore, Candidate B wants the rent for those two people to be significantly less. This is inherently unfair. Any rational person can realize this. What should the candidate’s friendship have to do with how things are governed? If the same tactics were used by Candidate A, then the other person in the house not running for president would gain benefit over everyone else. And then that wouldn’t be fair. Therefore Candidate B’s position does not make everyone happy, only a few.

In this election, which side will win? The side of truth, principle and fairness, or the side of favoritism? And by the way, Candidate B is going to use every tactic in the book to try to win. They will accuse Candidate A of being cruel-hearted. They will say that Candidate A has an alliance with the other member of the house, who will have to pay more in rent under Candidate B’s plan. They will say that Candidate A only wants to help their friend, and that this friendship is the only reason they support the system of equal rent. They will say that equal rent will put a huge burden on the three members of the house supporting them. They will say that the other member of the house can afford to pay more rent since they earn more.

Take this same practice and extend it to the national scale, and you get the system of politics in a land of democracy. In order to survive, the side of Candidate A will eventually have to play ball, so to speak. They will have to abandon principles and go to the side of favoritism. The opponents in every election thus only differ on whom they favor; there is no truth. Truth will lose out in an era of sound-bite news. Truth has no place in a time when the ad hominem attack determines the voter’s mood. Truth has no place in an arena where the players have no interest in it.

In the Vedas the truth is described as absolute. It is not created through trial and error. The principles associated with finding and remaining with that truth were not crafted on paper first and then edited. There is no rough draft of the Vedas. They come directly from God, the original person. Since He is the Absolute Truth, the principles coming from Him for man to follow are without flaw and far reaching. Indeed, from following those principles one can see with the eyes of shastra, or scripture. These eyes are both microscopic and telescopic, making sense of both the physically manifest world and all that has passed and will pass in the future.

The need for inquiring into the real truth begins at the time of birth, athato brahma-jijnasa. This phrase means that one should inquire into the real truth and not settle for the degradation of principles, as is wont to happen from players in a popular vote system. With the Absolute Truth, winning is not all, because it is understood that winning and losing are only temporary. There is the ultimate loss of death which applies to everyone. Therefore what is anyone really winning by abandoning the truth?

Lord KrishnaThe Absolute Truth is blissful, knowledgeable and eternal. It is a male who has a spiritual form that is incomprehensible in its greatness. The Absolute Truth is the complete everything. This means that one who is trying to understand that truth is also part of it. The inquisitor truth is vastly inferior to the all-knowing truth. Nevertheless, the qualities are similar, which means that the two belong together.

When seeking no truth and taking winning as all there is a split in the relationship. The smaller copies of the Absolute Truth think they can figure out everything on their own. They believe that they can live without staying conscious of the origin of matter and spirit. The knowers of the Truth think differently. They choose to always remain with the Truth, basking in His glories. They follow this path without considering outside opinion, without worrying over popularity. Whether in peril or pleasure, in tyranny or liberty, the soul connected with the Absolute Truth is protected by that Truth.

The connection gives rise to the term “yoga.” The mood in love gives the term “bhakti-yoga.” This is the ideal occupation for every individual, including those in the other species. Only the human being has the opportunity to intentionally practice bhakti-yoga and remain faithful to it. Therefore the human birth is the most auspicious. Through the favor of the Supreme Lord and His representatives, the seekers of the real truth can find it. They then liberally distribute it through the chanting of the holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.”

In Closing:

Seeking no truth, winning is all,

What feels good principle to call.


On their personal whims set,

Concern only on how victory to get.


Real truth up for vote cannot be,

Origin of all past and present can see.


Avoid the lying and cheating politicians injurious,

Find real truth and make this human birth glorious.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Showing Dracula the Cross

Rama and Lakshmana“Smelling the fragrance of Rama and Lakshmana, like a dog smelling a tiger, certainly you will not be able to stand.” (Sita Devi speaking to Ravana, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 21.31-32)

na hi gandhamupāghrāya rāmalakṣmaṇayostvayā ||
śakyaṃ saṃdarśane sthātuṃ śunā śārdūlayoriva |

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“Oh, it’s great, I use it as my litmus test. If someone appears to be interested in me, then I have a great way of telling if we’re compatible or not. I could try explaining to them my philosophy and my foremost desires, but with a long-winded discussion people eventually tune you out. They’ll just say ‘Yeah, yeah, cool’ to everything without paying attention. If I really want to test their character, I will drop some names of significance. I will mention Sita, Rama, Lakshmana and Hanuman. I will mention Krishna and bhakti-yoga. I will talk about devotional service, and how it is the highest form of yoga. Usually, I don’t have to go past Sita and Rama. If they are very materially inclined, they will run the other way. If they have demoniac tendencies, they will not be able to stand before these names. They will want to hear anything else first. If I talked about making money, driving a fancy car, owning a large property, or any other such material thing they would remain interested. But the name is so powerful that it drives away those who have no interest in transcending the vicious cycle of birth and death.”

From the Vedas we learn of the dichotomy between sura and asura, or the devoted and the non-devoted. In one sense this is similar to good and evil, except the nature of both is more clearly presented. Good and bad can change depending on interest and the situation at hand. If I am trying to lose weight, food is bad and starving is good. If I am really hungry, food is good and starving is bad. If I want to land this particular job, the hiring manager is good and the other candidates are bad. If I’m at the job, then maybe the same hiring manager is bad and the rest of the employees are good.

Sura and asura relate to the most important good and bad. Really, the only “good” is that which brings one closer to God. Everything else is automatically bad. Sometimes what appears to be bad in this context can eventually lead to the greatest good. If I learn how to read and write in a certain language during my youth, it may seem like this has no relation to God or godly principles. However, if in adulthood I have a strong desire to explain God to others, that previous education suddenly turns out to be unbelievably good. Thus some things which are “bad” actually act as seeds to provide “good” fruits at a later time.

The asura is bad based on the structure of the word alone. Asura is a negation of sura. It is not a word based on its own definition. You have the first definition of sura, and then asura is the complete opposite. What holds the sura together is their firm belief in God. This belief manifests in different ways. In some the belief is for a better afterlife, with more material enjoyments. In the most mature stage, the belief is what drives every aspect of the person. From that belief one always remains in the company of God, even if sometimes physically separated. Whether in heaven or in hell, whether relaxing at home or working hard at the office, there is a connection to God. Connecting with Him is more worthwhile than connecting with anyone else.

The foundational quality of the asura is their disbelief in God. No matter how much you persuade them or try to provide good counsel, the asura will still think that there is no God. They will thus naturally believe that in this one present body, in this current manifestation, they must enjoy as much as possible. Even when there is supposed God consciousness, sometimes this same belief is present. “God only gave me this one life, so let me live it to my heart’s content. Let me enjoy as much as possible, because who knows where I will be next?”

In adopting this mentality, how is the asura expected to hold true to any principles of virtue? What is it to them if they lie or cheat? Who is going to notice? As long as the governing authorities don’t find out, nothing bad will happen. The pious person will die eventually in the same way as the impious person. Since this body is the one life, why waste time being restricted by law codes given by a God that we cannot even see?

Ah, but there are plenty of ways to see Him. The suras know this for sure. The complex material nature did not suddenly appear through a random collision of chemicals. If it did, then the same reaction could be reproduced. Surely the human species is more intelligent than a bunch of chemicals. If chemicals could figure out how to create life, then surely the advanced human being could do the same. Moreover, it wouldn’t have to take him billions of years of failures. He would have figured it out right away. But alas, the human must rely on life to create life. There is no other way.

Sita DeviThe original life is God. Thus His influence is seen everywhere. One way to see Him is to notice the reaction of the asuras to His presence. In the above referenced verse from the Ramayana, Sita accurately compares the demon king of Lanka to a dog. She compares her husband and His younger brother to tigers. The dog runs away at the mere whiff of a tiger. It knows that it cannot stand against the more ferocious animal. Ravana, of the asura nature, would not be able to stay in the vicinity of Rama and Lakshmana, who are the Supreme Lord in two different incarnations.

Sita was able to stand in their presence just fine. What was the difference? She was not of the asura mindset. She basked in Rama’s glory. She saw Lakshmana as Rama’s devoted servant. She saw God directly through serving as His wife and also saw His influence indirectly in so many ways. One way was through the behavior of Ravana, who confirms the truth that the asura is the opposite in behavior of the sura. While the devotee has all good qualities, the demon lacks them completely. Their strong distaste for the mere presence of God actually glorifies the Supreme Lord, assigning His association a special status.

Ravana was known to be like the dog because he had previously failed to challenge Rama face to face. He took Sita away from the couple’s hermitage in secret. Taking her back to Lanka, he tried every which way to persuade her to join his side. She would not budge. Sita protected herself by always thinking of Rama, and to give further pain and discomfort to Ravana she kept mentioning her husband and His various qualities. Like showing Dracula the cross, Ravana was very unhappy hearing about Rama. The name of Rama perturbed Him, and soon the arrows of Rama would kill him.

In Closing:

With righteousness or sin to align,

Reaction to God’s presence a sign.


If immediately the other way to run,

Shows that good qualities in them none.


Ravana like dog scent of tiger coming across,

Or famed Dracula being shown the cross.


As asura, unhappy just to hear God’s name,

Rama’s arrows soon to bring end of life’s pain.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Preaching Strongly

Tiger“Smelling the fragrance of Rama and Lakshmana, like a dog smelling a tiger, certainly you will not be able to stand.” (Sita Devi speaking to Ravana, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 21.31-32)

na hi gandhamupāghrāya rāmalakṣmaṇayostvayā ||
śakyaṃ saṃdarśane sthātuṃ śunā śārdūlayoriva |

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“It’s not a good idea to offend. Why are you calling them dogs and hogs? Why do you call them rascals all the time? This is not a wise policy. How will you induce others to take up the sublime service to the Divine, who is full of form and sweetness? In His original position, He is always happy. He wields a flute and festively sports in the sacred land called Vrindavana. His friends enjoy playing on the field with Him. They arrive at His house in the morning and ask His mother if He is ready to play. If He is not finished getting dressed, sometimes they come in shyly and help with putting on His anklets and jewels. He then mildly rebukes them, though with a smile on His face the whole time. Why not tell people of this? Instead of harshly criticizing them for their sinful ways, why not attract them with the honey of God’s pastimes?”

Whether to preach strongly or not is a constant topic for debate. In the above referenced verse from the Ramayana, we get an instance of very strong preaching; the strongest in fact. It is reserved for someone who is very sinful; someone who has done something extremely bad. Kindness was tried in the beginning, and it had no effect. The man was a brute; he lacked real intelligence. All he knew was force and applying it without discrimination. Here he is compared to a dog, while the Supreme Lord is compared to a tiger.

Bomb-sniffing dogsThe speaker says that a dog runs away at the mere scent of a tiger. The dog has an enhanced ability to smell. Police officials sometimes utilize dogs to find bombs through smell. The dog in the home can notice an intruder more quickly than a human being can because of these extended abilities in the senses. At the same time, compared to other animals, the dog is much weaker. The tiger kills for a living. It won’t eat vegetarian food. It hunts so that it can survive. Necessity is the mother of invention, and the need for survival thus brings out all the ability in the living entity. Mental ability isn’t so much present in the tiger, but physical is there with respect to fighting other animals. So the tiger, with the necessity to live, preys upon other animals.

Comparing a human being to a tiger is complimenting them. A sports franchise with the nickname “Tigers” is seen quite often, while the team name “Dogs” is rarely found. Sometimes the more ferocious dogs are used as a nickname, but even then that species is not superior to a tiger. “A tiger among men” is a description used quite often in Vedic literature, which tells of both material and spiritual truths. The spiritual is more important, and so the more important Vedic works lean more heavily towards the spiritual science. In the original spiritual science, which was first spoken at the beginning of the creation, the term “tiger among men” is used to address a very capable warrior.

Bhagavad-gita, 18.4“O best of the Bharatas, hear from Me now about renunciation. O tiger among men, there are three kinds of renunciation declared in the scriptures.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 18.4)

In the same Vedas, we don’t find any complimentary address of “dog among men.” A dog among men is someone who is driven by their sense impulses, who doesn’t mind eating garbage, and who has no control over how they behave. The dog among men is frightened of the tiger among men. Upon first sniff of the tiger, the dog will run away.

Rama and LakshmanaHere Sita compares her husband and His younger brother to the tiger and the king of Lanka to the dog. This is a tremendous insult to the king, who is named Ravana. She does not merely describe the glorious fighting ability of her husband Rama. She does not simply mention how Lakshmana, Rama’s younger brother, is so courageous on the battlefield that he would die before leaving it. She speaks strongly against the character of Ravana. She gives him a great insult. In fact, this statement is part of a series of strong insults, the best in fact. She previously referred to how the land of Janasthana became Hatasthana because of Rama. It was the land of the living, with Rama, Lakshmana and herself living there. Then it became the land of the dead, Hatasthana, after Rama singlehandedly defeated 14,000 of Ravana’s men who came there to attack.

Ravana had already shown how he was dog-like. He didn’t step up against Rama or Lakshmana in Janasthana. He instead created a ruse to lure them away from the ashrama. He then swooped in and took Sita away by force. Now in Lanka, he was trying his best to lure her to his side. He wanted her to become the chief queen and enjoy the royal opulence in Lanka.

PrabhupadaSuch a person was in no condition to accept any sound words of advice. To him hearing praise of Rama would be like hearing fingernails against a chalkboard. Descriptions of the sweetness of the Supreme Personality of Godhead and His blissful nature would not do any good. The fiend knew only of brute force, of fighting and stealing. Therefore the comparison to the dog and the tiger was appropriate here. The words were strong, and they served their purpose.

More importantly, Sita spoke the truth. She spoke strongly, but accurately. Ravana was indeed like a dog against Rama and Lakshmana. He would not survive battle against them. He would have to send his many leading fighters to die in front of them before himself getting routed in battle. One who is too puffed up needs to have their ego crushed before they will accept any wise counsel. In this instance, everything would have to crash for Ravana before he finally understood who Rama was.

In Closing:

Others science of self-realization to teach,

Strong or soft words, in what manner to preach?


With one who any intelligence does lack,

No harm with strong words to attack.


Husband and brother to tiger Sita compared,

And Ravana to dog running away scared.


Though harsh words, accurate were they,

Ravana to learn Rama’s nature the hard way.