Saturday, May 31, 2014

What’s Not In There

[Lord Krishna with Arjuna]“This knowledge is the king of education, the most secret of all secrets. It is the purest knowledge, and because it gives direct perception of the self by realization, it is the perfection of religion. It is everlasting, and it is joyfully performed.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.2)

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[Bhagavad-gita, 9.2]The Bhagavad-gita is a famous work of the Vedic tradition. Read by scholars, statesmen, and spiritualists alike, it offers pearls of wisdom in short verses that are easier to remember. The less amount of words you can use to make your point, the more effective your message will be. The Gita is not voluminous, but its commentary can be. The same can be said of the contemplation focused on its wisdom. As important as what’s in the Gita is what’s not in it. The absence of specific topics puts those topics into the proper perspective.

Utopia is the fantasy world where everything is good. Whatever you think is bad, take that out of your ideal place and you thus have a utopia. If you don’t like fighting, get rid of it. If you don’t like bullying, that is gone too. No more sadness. Only happiness exists in utopia. Take every issue of the day, every cause, of every single person, and then imagine that it is resolved. Then you get utopia for everyone. The Bhagavad-gita does not address anything of the sort. Shri Krishna did not forget to mention it, either. He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, so when He speaks, He only discusses the most important topics.

[Bhagavad-gita, 3.14]“All living bodies subsist on food grains, which are produced from rain. Rains are produced by performance of yajna [sacrifice], and yajna is born of prescribed duties.”  (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 3.14)

In the Gita you will not find the cure for world hunger. This does not mean that everyone should starve. This does not mean that God intended us to fall asleep hungry every night. Indeed, the occupational duties of the vaishyas include production of food. You harvest the land, take care of the cows, and engage in commerce. You perform sacrifice in order to get the necessary rain. In this way you will have relative prosperity. This has worked in every land in every time period. Even the Pilgrims in America discovered this process, minus the cow protection. They divided up the land, instituting the concept of private property, during their initial stay in the New World and what resulted was a harvest so bountiful that the tradition of Thanksgiving took birth.

[Thanksgiving cornucopia]In the Gita you will not find the cure for poverty. This does not mean that everyone should be poor and destitute. If the vaishya community, the mercantile class, takes care of their responsibilities, the economic problems are minimized. There will be plenty of stuff to enjoy. So God does not want us to be poor, but at the same time in His work which is considered the essence of Vedic philosophy the focus is not on how to become materially prosperous.

In the Gita you will not find the formula for stopping all arguments. This does not mean that we should live in strife, constantly arguing with our fellow man. This does not mean that it is necessary to take up arms and invade our neighboring countries when they have a commodity of value to us. By following the essential teachings of the Gita, one automatically becomes peaceful. They are automatically a good citizen and someone who does not need to rely on unnecessary violence.

[Bhagavad-gita, 5.29]“The sages, knowing Me as the ultimate purpose of all sacrifices and austerities, the Supreme Lord of all planets and demigods and the benefactor and well-wisher of all living entities, attain peace from the pangs of material miseries.”  (Lord Krishna, Bg. 5.29)

These causes and issues are not covered in the Gita because when one understands the nature of the world they presently inhabit, they learn that the idea of utopia can only remain that, an idea. To eliminate hunger one must eliminate freedom of action. What do we mean by this? One is hungry if they have not eaten a sufficient amount of food in a while. To eliminate hunger for everyone, everyone must be compelled to eat in a timely manner. They must be forced to eat, and in order to eat there must be food. Thus others must be compelled to grow and store enough food.

[Arguing]When you compel, you get disagreements. This is only natural. Who will enforce the laws? Who will follow them? The people following will want to be in the position of power, for then they get to make the rules. With this clash in desire, you get conflicts, which escalate into wars. You also can’t eliminate poverty, since that means everyone will have to work a sufficient amount to earn enough money. Again, there is coercion. There is force, which clashes with desire.

It is that desire which causes the birth in the material world. When desire is impure, all the issues which need to be addressed in the utopian ideal manifest. When desire is pure, the situation starts to turn around. Pure desire is Krishna consciousness, where one wants only to meet the interests of the Supreme Lord. What are His interests? He does not want anyone to remain in a land of duality, where temporary conditions necessitate good and bad, happy and sad. In a temporary world, there must be poverty and prosperity, war and peace, and disease and good health. With temporary conditions, it is impossible to eliminate everything that is unwanted, especially since what is wanted for one person is unwanted for another.

The desire of the Supreme Lord is to reclaim His fallen sons and daughters, to have them again merged into their eternal occupation, devotional service. To take that service up in earnest, the desire must be there. Force will not work, as the impure desire will be a boundary to restrict entry into that engagement. To reclaim the desire that was once there, the fallen living entity must be educated upon all important matters. To eradicate a specific disease or remove hunger around the world will not bring the proper education. In fact, the mind may turn in the opposite direction, thinking that life can indeed be great without service to God.

[Bhagavad-gita, 18.66]“Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reaction. Do not fear.” (Lord Krishna, Bg. 18.66)

[Lord Krishna]Krishna says in the Gita to abandon all varieties of religion and surrender unto Him. Give up the idea of making this world a permanent home of steady happiness and zero strife. Give up the chase to find happiness through sense gratification alone, for in renunciation there is temporary pleasure as well. After giving up these various causes, take up the eternal occupation of devotion in surrender. Put your fate in the hands of the wielder of the flute, the lifter of Govardhana Hill, and the chariot driver of Arjuna. Take up the science of self-realization, learn your true identity, understand the difference between matter and spirit, and know that heaven for you can be created on any earth, whether in this realm or another, through full surrender in devotion. Start that surrender today and maintain 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:

Bhagavad-gita not to correct all flaws,

Nor to give solution for every cause.


Utopia neither here nor there to be found,

Duality a must when to earthly realm bound.


Krishna most important topics covering,

Like how individual real identity discovering.


Surrendering to Him in full understanding,

So into eternal service again landing.

Friday, May 30, 2014

The One With The Baseball Glove

[Krishna's lotus feet]“The Lord says in Bhagavad-gita, tesham aham samuddharta. The Supreme Lord Himself takes charge of delivering such a devotee. That is the highest perfection of life. In whatever occupation one may be engaged, if he serves the Supreme Lord, he will achieve the highest perfection.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 18.46 Purport)

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Jeremy’s parents took it as another phase. It started with toy cars. Their young child couldn’t get enough of them. He wanted every Hot Wheels model available. Then he wanted the race track itself. A few years later it was Garbage Pail Kids, the cards that were the craze amongst the kids in his class.

[Garbage Pail Kids]Now it was on to something new. Jeremy wasn’t subtle about any of the previous interests, and he wasn’t so with this new one either. It was baseball. He would watch baseball, talk baseball, and even sleep baseball. Using just a tennis ball, he would throw, catch and hit in the backyard day after day. His birthday was coming up and he made no secret about what he wanted.

“Mom, can you get me a baseball glove for my birthday? Please?”

“Jeremy, we’ll see. Don’t you have enough toys already?”

“Mom, this is not a toy. All the other kids have gloves and they’re able to play after school. I want to play with them, but I don’t have a glove.”

“I’ll talk to your father about it. I’m not making any promises.”

“And make sure you get the Rickey Henderson one. He’s my favorite player. I want to play outfield just like him.”

[Rickey Henderson]Jeremy was a good kid, and the parents had quite a fondness for him. This request wasn’t extraordinary in their minds, so they got him what he wanted. They pretended all along that they wouldn’t be getting it. They wanted it to be a surprise. On the day of his birthday, the glove was packaged in a box that led Jeremy to believe that he was getting clothes. He was pleasantly surprised.

“Oh, thank you so much. I can’t tell you how happy I am. Can I go play outside?”

“Did you finish your homework,” the parents asked.

“Yes, yes,” Jeremy replied.

“Okay, go ahead. But don’t stay out too late.”

Everyone in the house was happy, especially Jeremy. He rushed outside and walked a few blocks to where the neighborhood kids were playing baseball that day. Jeremy had wanted to join them for quite a while but felt embarrassed by not having any equipment. When he arrived, he saw someone already at bat, being pitched to by someone else. There were fielders in the various positions as well. “Oh no, maybe I’m too late,” thought Jeremy.

After the inning was over, he went to his friend Tony and asked if he could play. Tony told him that there weren’t any spots left. “You should have gotten here sooner, man,” he told Jeremy. Jeremy’s friend Alex was also there playing. Jeremy tried to see if he would give up his spot.

“Hey man, my parents just got me a Rickey Henderson glove for my birthday.”

“Oh, cool,” said Alex.

“Umm, so you think I can substitute for you in the outfield and play for a little while?”

“I don’t know. This is a really good game. Maybe you can ask someone else.”

[baseball field]Jeremy then became sad. No one else wanted to substitute out. He couldn’t blame them. They were just as excited as him to play. There were no more positions left. Everything was filled. Though he now had the proper equipment to play, time and circumstance got in the way. As he was sulking on the side of the road, about ready to cry, Tony came over to him.

“Hey man, we’re all filled up with spots, but we need someone to call the balls and strikes. You think you could do that for us.”

“No thanks. You don’t really need an umpire,” replied a despondent Jeremy.

“No, seriously. We need you. We almost got into a huge fight yesterday. I slid into home in the last inning, and it was going to be the winning run. I thought our team had won, but then the catcher said that I was out. We got into a big argument, and other kids had to come in and separate us. It would be great if you could be our umpire for today.”

Though Jeremy knew his friend was taking pity on him, he eventually agreed. And in fact, he had a great time participating in the game for that day. He quickly forgot about his past misfortune. Though they didn’t really need an umpire, it was very kind of Tony to have made that gesture.

Many years later, Tony and Jeremy were still friends. One day Jeremy was explaining to Tony how in devotional service, or bhakti-yoga, actual ability is not so important.

“Have you heard of the caste system?” asked Jeremy.

“I think so. There’s a bunch of castes and then there’s one that’s so low that they’re called untouchable, right,” asked Tony.

“Well, that’s the general perception, anyway. The system is actually meant to be based on work and qualities. Every person fits into a certain type of occupation. Some are meant to be priests, others leaders, others businessmen, and others workers. The idea is that everyone should take up the role best suited for them, and then in this way society functions properly. And it’s not supposed to be based on birth at all.”

“Oh, okay. That makes sense.”

“Bhakti-yoga, however, is above even those occupations. Even if you don’t fit into any type of role in society, you’re still eligible to serve the Supreme Lord. If you have a strong desire to serve Him, then He might even take the impetus to find something for you to do.”


“Yeah, like that time when we were kids and I was umpire for that neighborhood baseball game. You were really nice and let me be the umpire since all the other spots were filled for the day. And even though we didn’t need an umpire, it turned out to be beneficial to all.”

“Was that the day you got the new glove from your parents,” asked Tony.

“Yeah. I was really excited that day,” replied Jeremy.

“That was a nice glove.”

[Lord Krishna with cow]“So Shri Krishna is the same way. He doesn’t need service from anyone, if you think about it. He is God. Since He is satisfied in Himself, He is known as atmarama. But He knows that we are happiest serving Him, so He is so merciful that any person, regardless of their status in society, can worship Him and find perfection in life. The simplest method is the chanting of the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.”

In Closing:

Despite without any ability to be,

Lotus feet of Krishna can see.


In whatever fit and apt occupation,

Chance there is for devotion.


From sublime service none excluded,

All castes and orders of life included.


With holy names to everyone chance giving,

For in ecstasy of His company to be living.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Please Don’t Speculate

[Krishna's lotus feet]“Now hear, O son of Pritha [Arjuna], how by practicing yoga in full consciousness of Me, with mind attached to Me, you can know Me in full, free from doubt.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.1)

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[Bhagavad-gita, 7.1]Those who actually follow the teachings of the Bhagavad-gita ask the sincerely interested to not speculate into the nature of the Absolute Truth. This is a tough sell, as we have been wondering about our surroundings ever since we exited the womb. It is only natural to at some point think about who created everything, and consider whether or not there is a singular creator or everything just happened to appear, as if by chance. The Bhagavad-gita itself gives the correct formula for knowing the Supreme in full, or close to it, free from doubts.

A person witnesses a tragedy and has the following contemplation:

“This is one of the worst things I have witnessed in my lifetime. Needlessly, people have died. They weren’t doing anything to anyone. They were simply going about their business. One person was on their way to work, another to the hospital, and another to a friend’s home. Their plans were abruptly cancelled by the natural disaster. Children were left without parents. Parents never again would get to see the smiling faces of their beautiful family members. The survivors were left without arms and legs. So much destruction caused by nature. I’m convinced of it now. God is indeed a vengeful and angry person. He must be as those zealous preachers say: either submit to His will or He will punish you in the worst possible way. And boy does He punish. Look at the carnage around me. He must have been very upset with these people.”

A person receives a tremendous boon in their life and has the following contemplation:

“I can’t believe my good fortune. Everything is working out for me. First I got that job that I really enjoy. I was unemployed prior, and without having to search for it, this job basically fell in my lap. Then my brother and sister just moved back to the area. This means that I will get to see them on a regular basis. I just married the man of my dreams. He is such a loving husband, and his family is great too. And now we’re expecting a child. I must say, God has been good to me. He is indeed a benevolent person; I can attest to it. How can anyone say otherwise? Look at how great He has been to my whole family. I know that He’s looking over me, taking care of me when I go astray. I know that He has a fondness for me. God is great, and I can’t wait to see what else He has in store for me.”

A person studies the nature around them and also develops a little knowledge of spirit. They have the following contemplation:

“We’re all one. I’ve concluded this. I’m no different than anyone else. My brother and sister are the same as me. I have affection for them, but what about others? Are others not related to me in the same way? When we see a tragic event reported in the news, they will tell you how many of the victims are from the country of the viewers. This always seemed odd to me. So if there weren’t any native born victims, then suddenly the tragedy isn’t so bad? What about the other people? Are they not affected? Do they not have family members? We all go through the same things in life. Even the animals are spirit inside. That is God to me. He is the collection of everything. The total energy, of which we are all a part, is God. He is one. You are God and so am I.”

These represent just a sampling of the different speculations the mind can perform based on outward perception. If you combine the perceptions of the innumerable wise personalities who have lived on this earth previously, you have a lot of information to sift through. And yet the nature of God is such that no amount of speculation, regardless the sharpness of the brain, will lead an individual to a full understanding. The true understanding is only available through yoga.

[Shrila Prabhupada]And the yoga has conditions. It must be done in full consciousness of the Supreme Lord, and there must be attachment to Him. Right away, this triggers some alarms. How can we be in full consciousness of someone we don’t know? How can we be attached to Him? If we knew who He was, we wouldn’t have a problem. The chain of disciplic succession resolves these issues. Those in the chain know God. They are attached to Him. They know that He can be realized in three distinct features. The first is Brahman, which is the sum total of spirit. Matter is a kind of Brahman too, but it is not the life to anything. Brahman is the spirit that animates matter, and every living entity is part of Brahman. When one realizes that they are the same as everyone else, they are on the platform of the Brahman understanding.

Then there is Paramatma, or Supersoul, which is the localized aspect of God. In this feature He is distinct from everyone else. Paramatma is different from atma, which is the local resident. Atma is in the category of Brahman, whereas Paramatma is different. The complete realization is of Bhagavan, or the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He is the sum total of everything. He is separate and somewhat the same, but never completely equal to anything else.

[Lord Krishna]Bhagavan has many different forms, but the original is a charming youth who carries a flute in His hands and remains forever beautiful. The name Krishna aptly describes Him, and in that transcendental form He descends to different realms from time to time to offer words of wisdom. The Bhagavad-gita is His song, sung by Him to a distressed warrior named Arjuna on the battlefield of Kurukshetra on the eve of a great war.

The chain of disciplic succession starts with Krishna. The teachers in the line follow the instructions of Krishna, in the proper spirit. Therefore they can tell others about Krishna and how to be conscious of Him. They describe the features of Krishna, including His activities, His nature, and His likes and dislikes. This allows for attachment. With attachment and consciousness, the student can follow devotion properly. And by following such a method they get to know Krishna in full, free from doubts. No longer do they have to speculate. No longer do they mistake temporary results to fruitive activity, or karma, as the direct intervention of the Supreme Lord. No longer do they lament for the shedding of the temporary body at the time of death or rejoice for the acceptance of the temporary material form at the time of birth. They instead take great joy in discussing about Krishna, with their mind fully absorbed in Him.

[Bhagavad-gita, 10.9]“The thoughts of My pure devotees dwell in Me, their lives are surrendered to Me, and they derive great satisfaction and bliss enlightening one another and conversing about Me.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 10.9)

[Radha and Krishna]“Please don’t speculate about God,” the kind teacher will say. “Learn about Him from the Bhagavad-gita. Chant His names, give up harmful activity, and try your best to always be conscious of Him. Then you’ll know Him, and if you know Him you won’t need to know anything else. Trust me. What I tell you is for your benefit.” And so the wise students accept this instruction and start the process by always chanting the beautiful names of Krishna found in the maha-mantra: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

In Closing:

Depending on situation to find,

Specific idea of God in mind.


But from those who knowledge have got,

Kindly request that of God speculate not.


From Gita know that keep mind attached,

Practice yoga and real knowledge catch.


Thoughts of devotees in Lord always dwell,

Real nature of Him to others can tell.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Giving Service To Man

[Krishna's lotus feet]“As water on the root of a tree is automatically distributed to the leaves and branches, in Krishna consciousness, one can render the highest service to everyone - namely self, family, society, country, humanity, etc. If Krishna is satisfied by one's actions, then everyone will be satisfied.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 2.41 Purport)

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A common concern of outsiders to the sweetest realm of transcendental life known as devotional service is the apparent lack of attention to general welfare service.

“If you’re chanting Hare Krishna all the time, worshiping God with your thoughts, words and deeds twenty-four hours a day, even dreaming of Him at night, are you not neglecting the vital services that society requires? What about hospitals? What about feeding the poor? What about curing disease? What about counseling others about the dangers of drugs and alcohol?”

But in fact, imbibing another soul with pure God consciousness is the very height of service. No other service can compare.

Consider the following hypothetical scenario. You’re a mom. You just became one for the first time. You and your husband couldn’t wait until you got your first child. That was the primary reason that you got married, to start a family. Finally you got pregnant, and though those nine months were difficult on the outside, the thought of a new child coming into your life maintained your happiness. You were eager throughout.

[Baby's crib]After some time in labor, this brand new boy appeared from your body. The first time you held him in your arms is indescribable. You’ve never seen this look on your husband’s face before. He appears to be glowing. Though your son is diminutive in stature, he has full command over the room. He is the only one who is calm out of everyone. All others are at his service. You thank God for your blessings at this wonderful time.

As time goes on, you continue to enjoy the association of your son. The first time he crawls, the first time he walks, the first time he says your name - you can’t get enough of these things. Now imagine if you suddenly went to your husband and said this:

“Dear, I think we shouldn’t send our boy to school. He is too happy in our home. You never know what might happen in the outside world. Just because everyone else sends their kids to school doesn’t mean that we have to follow. You make plenty of money. You support us both on your own. I want him to be happy. I don’t want him to suffer. We have enough to support. We have life insurance, too. So if we suddenly pass on, our boy will have enough money to live. Let him enjoy life to the fullest. Education only brings worries and debt. These kids today have college degrees and no jobs. So what was the use of their schooling? We started a family to enjoy, and so let’s not ruin things by sending our boy to school.”

[School bus]Obviously this line of thinking is ridiculous. Though the good parent attached to their child will not look forward to the kid’s first day of school, they realize that it is what the child needs. The concept of God consciousness can be considered in the same light. All other services done for humanity are the equivalent of raising the child in the early years. Providing food to the needy is identical to feeding the child. The same can be said of providing medical care.

The idea is that after all such services are performed, the beneficiaries need somewhere to go. Maintaining the body is required for continued living, but once continued living is achieved there needs to be direction. Indeed, so many problems are caused by a lack of proper direction. Statistics in industrialized nations show that illicit sex and dropping out of high school are the principal causes to poverty. So simply providing service in the form of food doesn’t even solve the specific problems targeted.

The child needs to be educated. That is nature’s way, after all. Otherwise the higher authorities would have kept us all in the stage of childhood, which has limited intelligence. We are not like the dogs and cats, who have no maturity in intelligence. Even the human beings who are lacking good judgment reach a state in adulthood where they can make rational decisions. Therefore the concern is on how to make those decisions and choosing the ideal destination.

Bhakti-yoga, or devotional service, takes care of both. Interestingly enough, it is open to even the less intelligent. If you are not educated, you can still worship God. If you don’t have enough money to keep yourself fit, you can still say the name of the Lord with love. Whether you have a million dollars or just ten, if you are God conscious you can be happy. That is because all are happiest when serving, and in bhakti-yoga the service is to the only entity who is forever knowledgeable and blissful with His transcendental body.

[Brahma-samhita, 5.1]“There are many personalities possessing the qualities of Bhagavan, but Krishna is the supreme because none can excel Him. He is the Supreme Person, and His body is eternal, full of knowledge and bliss. He is the primeval Lord Govinda and the cause of all causes.” (Brahma-samhita, 5.1)

[Govinda]Bhakti-yoga is eternal life, and one who practices it automatically can give it to others. Therefore the service they perform is higher than any other. Nothing else can compare for a second. Other services in society are not neglected, as comparatively speaking the portion of the population involved in bhakti-yoga is always much smaller than the portion not. And yet the result of bhakti, or pure love for God, is much more valuable than any temporary situation created by welfare work or mundane service.

[Bhagavad-gita, 10.11]“Out of compassion for them, I, dwelling in their hearts, destroy with the shining lamp of knowledge the darkness born of ignorance.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 10.11)

It would be near criminal for the mother to keep her child from being educated due to misguided sentiment. The opportunity for a fulfilling life would vanish. In the same way, to not share the science of self-realization passed on from the chain of disciplic succession originating in the Supreme Lord Himself, Shri Krishna, is a great shame. Those who are fully immersed in service to the benevolent author of all great things take it as their life’s mission to spread the glories of transcendental light to others. This light, shining from within the heart, destroys the darkness born of ignorance.

In Closing:

So that child with you always to stay,

From any kind of education keep away.


For such a practice no defense,

Not logical, against common sense.


Service to man considered the same,

End not only in welfare work mundane.


Education for the human being a must,

So also in words of Vaishnavas trust.


Service to Krishna to satisfy responsibilities all,

Like watering root, maintains tree standing tall.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Never Having To Grow Up

[Krishna playing with friends]“Krishna's words are absolute, as well as His form, qualities and activities. They are always fresh and new. If they were not, how could the devotees glorify them day after day with greater enthusiasm?” (Shrila Prabhupada, Teachings of Lord Kapila, Vs 34 Purport)

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Toys R Us, a major retail outlet in the United States, in the past had a series of commercials that had a theme relating to growing up. The child in the commercial identifies as a “Toys R Us Kid,” and they sing about how they never want to grow up. The problem with growing up, they state, is that they cease being a Toys R Us Kid. When they reach adulthood, they will no longer enjoy visiting the famous toy store and feeling the excitement that walking through the aisles brings. Indeed, so many joys vanish upon maturity into adulthood, but fortunately with one discipline the excitement of youth remains forever fresh. That is due both to the activities attached to that discipline and the beneficiary Himself, who forever remains the grown-up.

[Toys R Us]Imagine this scene. You’re a young child living at home with your parents and elder brother. One Christmas you decide to try your luck at getting a gift. Based on the cultural tradition you inherited from your parents, your family doesn’t typically exchange gifts on Christmas or other holidays. In fact, if there is any particular mode of celebration, it is in giving away gifts to others. The birth of a new child, the union of a man and a woman, and even the mournful loss of a loved one are all marked by the profuse donation of gifts to those who are priests by occupation.

As all the other kids in the class are getting gifts for Christmas, this year you figure you’ll give it a shot. You enlist the help of your brother. The two of you want the same thing: a Nintendo Entertainment System. Video game consoles are a relatively new thing, and thus far you’ve had limited exposure to them. You got a Colecovision a few years back, but this Nintendo looks way better. Your brother wants to play the Mario Brothers game that comes with the console, and you’ve got your eye on the Baseball game that you would have to purchase separately.

[Nintendo Baseball]The two of you beg and plead, almost annoying your father, until he finally relents. Your mother isn’t happy about it, but your dad has always been more liberal. He doesn’t know what this Nintendo is, so he brings you along to the store to pick it out. You walk in and marvel. “This store is the best,” you think to yourself. “I can honestly say that this is my favorite place in the world. There are so many toys here. Not just toys, video games too. They have bicycles and board games also. We hardly ever come here, so I better make the most of this trip.”

Your brother wanders off to check out what’s in the different aisles. After perusing yourself for a little bit, you finally reach the section that has the game consoles. For a big purchase like this, you need to take a ticket and bring it to the counter; they don’t keep the items on the shelf. Your dad has been so kind that he’s allowed you to get the extra game, Nintendo Baseball. You can’t believe your good luck. This is the best Christmas ever, you think to yourself.

Upon bringing the console home, you and your brother eagerly unwrap the packaging and start playing the games. Sometimes gifts don’t match the expectations going in. This isn’t one of those times. You get so much enjoyment out of these games. You play them nonstop, waking up early during your break from school. Over the next several years you make good use out of the system, periodically visiting the same store and picking out new games to play.

[Super Mario Bros]Of course in adulthood things are not the same. The games aren’t as much fun to play. You did grow up, so you no longer are a loyal patron to that store that caters to children. There is a way to get back the exuberance of youth, though. That way is devotional service, or bhakti-yoga. At the outset it looks like a difficult system based upon restriction. No meat eating. No gambling. The adult’s version of fun, drinking, is also prohibited. Forget about gambling when you are bored.

So how is bhakti-yoga supposed to be fun? For starters, the person practicing it is always in the position of dependence. It is not exactly the same as childhood, as eventually the child becomes a father. They reach adulthood and become the person to provide protection. In bhakti-yoga, the Supreme Lord is always the protecting father, even if He appears in the form of a child. He is always the person to petition for help. For one who realizes that God takes care of what is actually good for them, they get supreme comfort. They feel safe knowing that in whatever condition they find themselves, even if it’s in a different body in a future life, they will maintain the connection in consciousness to the Divine.

[Lord Krishna as child]Then there is the endless play of the Lord Himself. Everywhere He plays. Though we can’t see what’s going on in other universes at the moment, it should be understood that the Supreme Lord in His original form of Krishna is somewhere at this very moment getting chased by mother Yashoda for having broken a pot of butter. Somewhere He is appearing from the womb of mother Devaki in the prison cell in Mathura. Somewhere He is lifting the mighty Govardhana Hill and saving the residents from a devastating flood instigated by the vengeful Indra. Somewhere He is delivering the essence of Vedic knowledge, the Bhagavad-gita, to the distressed warrior Arjuna.

So the adult mind can keep these activities with them, basking in their sweetness. More importantly, they can glorify the activities and the actor Himself whenever they want. In childhood the same person awoke early on a Saturday morning to watch cartoons on television, and in adulthood they can wake up just as early to chant the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

In Closing:

Why childhood form have to rid,

And not stay always a kid?


Not the same when all grown up,

To deal with real world strange and tough.


In one path always like a child to stay,

In glorification is spent every day.


Like a field with endless play,

Found only in bhakti’s way.

Monday, May 26, 2014

The Next Generation

[Shrimad Bhagavatam]“One who cannot deliver his dependents from the path of repeated birth and death should never become a spiritual master, a father, a husband, a mother or a worshipable demigod.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 5.5.18)

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[Shrimad Bhagavatam, 5.5.18]One of many notable truths descending from the Shrimad Bhagavatam, the ripened fruit of Vedic wisdom tasted by the parrot-like Shukadeva Gosvami, is that one should not take up one of the traditional leadership positions unless they can deliver their dependents from the cycle of birth and death. Husband and guru are some of the more obvious ones, and included in the list is father. From this one truth alone we get an idea of how to view the next generation and where to direct their interests.

Imagine this situation of two friends talking.

I have some good news to share with you.

What’s that?

I finally became a grandfather for the first time.

Oh, that’s wonderful. Congratulations.

Thank you, thank you. I tell you, looking into that kid’s eyes, holding it for the first time, I was reminded of why we care about the direction of the country.

I hear you.

Lately I’ve been real down. Things aren’t going so well. This younger generation has no hope. They have no opportunities.

And it seems to only be getting worse.

Exactly. And see how educated they are.

I know. It’s astounding. People from our generation weren’t this educated at their age. We didn’t all go to college.

[College education]What are those degrees doing for them? They can’t make it on their own. They have to live at home with their parents.

It’s all due to the policies of the government. They’ve ruined everything.

Exactly. That’s why I care. It’s for my grandchildren. I want to make sure they have a better life.

It’s the timeless desire, is it not? Parents always want their children to have a better life; to improve upon the standard of living. Right now things are going backwards.

Indeed, it is natural for the parent to desire better for their children. They wish that the same mistakes from their own lives aren’t repeated. Upon an accurate critical analysis, though, what exactly needs to be improved upon? If the previous generation made it through life just fine, being able to eat and have a place to stay, is the younger generation successful if they make more money? Taking situations that contrast more, if one generation lived on a farm and the other lives in a suburban house with electricity, appliances, television, smartphones, and fancy cars, has anything actually improved?

[farming]Those who are aware of the spiritual science understand that the only way to improve upon the previous generation is to reach full enlightenment. There is potential for the human being in this regard. If this weren’t the case, there would be no such thing as adulthood. The child would remain a child forever. They would remain innocent and fun-loving, not having a care in the world. They would never consider austerity, truthfulness, cleanliness, or compassion. Adulthood is the gift from the higher nature precisely to facilitate realization of the Absolute Truth.

The guardian who can shepherd the dependent into that maturest stage of understanding has truly done their job. So what is required for that understanding? Surely the body must be maintained. As the famous Poor Richard once said in his yearly Almanac, it’s difficult for an empty sack to stand up straight. If you’re starving, you won’t have the energy to think properly. If you’re always worried about where to sleep for the night, you won’t have time to understand the difference between matter and spirit. If you’re attacked by a disease, how will you keep the mind right for concentrating on the origin of all things?

“This human form of life is meant for austerity, and austerity means controlling sex, food intake, etc. In this way time can be saved for spiritual activity, and one can purify himself both externally and internally. Thus both body and mind can be cleansed.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 4.28.35-36 Purport)

[Shrila Prabhupada]So how is the person in authority supposed to get the dependent to reach the goal of life? Obviously austerity is the first step. It is said that the human life is especially meant for austerity. In times past, the advanced thinkers would leave home and take up permanent residence in the forest. Such escape is hardly possible today, but there are still ways to impose limits. After all, the good parent wishing material success for their children erects boundaries to behavior. So with the goal of God realization, the same limits can be imposed.

But there is a secret weapon that helps to cure even the most spoiled child. That secret is the holy name. It has so much potency that nothing can be used to measure it. The Supreme Lord is described as aprameya, which means that no instrument is available to measure His potencies. So that attribute gets passed on to the name used to address Him. There are many names, but the most potent according to the Vedic tradition is Krishna, which means “all-attractive.” Rama is the next most potent, and together with a call to the energy of God, these names are found in the sacred formula known as the maha-mantra: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

[Maha-mantra]If a representative of the principles of the Shrimad Bhagavatam were to enter the previously referenced conversation he could offer the following:

“Just say the holy name to your grandchild. Whisper ‘Krishna’ into their ear as much as possible. Sing the maha-mantra to them while they are falling asleep in your arms. Look into their eyes and hope that one day they will vigorously take up bhakti-yoga, which is the true mission of life. That service will make them happiest, since it is endless love. Through constantly glorifying the author of everything good in this world, they will maintain their childlike enthusiasm throughout life. This is something so many wish for but hardly anyone gets. And you, as their grandparent, will earn so much credit. Your deeds will match your selfless desire to give them a better life.”

In Closing:

Lack of hope in them you detect,

Not much improvement they expect.


For next generation wishing so much,

How to improve your guiding touch?


Bhagavatam simple principles for guidance giving,

Rescue dependents, no more in rebirth living.


Unmatched potency in holy name’s sound,

Give it to children, hope for bliss abound.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

The Target Audience

[Shrimad Bhagavatam]“Shrimad-Bhagavatam is so made that one becomes at once engaged in the path of self-realization simply by hearing the topics. Although it is especially meant for the paramahamsas, or those who are totally engaged in self-realization, it works into the depths of the hearts of those who may be worldly men. Worldly men are all engaged in sense gratification. But even such men will find in this Vedic literature a remedial measure for their material diseases.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 1.7.8 Purport)

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Upon first glance, the various spiritual traditions of the world might look like a professional sports league. You have your franchise from this part of the world. Then you have a franchise from another. The people of the respective regions have their allegiances. Amongst the vast variety there is a unifying practice: each group thinks their religion is superior. This may lead the person with little knowledge to speculate further. “Perhaps the people just need religion to feel good. Maybe they have found happiness in that way. Never mind for myself, though, for I have more important matters to tend to.” The highest dharma, the one that covers all religions, sub-religions, desires, concoctions, and temporary fads, solves all problems for all people, even those who think otherwise. This dharma, or system of religiosity, is bhagavata-dharma and it has a lengthy work exclusively devoted to it: the Shrimad Bhagavatam.

Imagine this scene. You work in an office. The company provides software to various companies. The only thing typical about your work day is that nothing is ever fixed. You’re never devoted to a single project. The boss wants this thing done. The people in the accounting department have their own problems that they want you to look into. The other people in the technology section want to talk to you about nothing, a way to pass the day. You fix one thing and then there’s another problem.

The job takes its toll so much that you barely have time to yourself at night. Forget cooking for yourself, you live at the drive-thru window of the local fast food restaurant. They know your order each time you show up. “The usual, Mr. Hard At Work,” they ask you each time you pull up in your car. With embarrassment you say, “Yes, please.”

Finally, a Friday comes along where you’re planning to leave early. You’re getting away for the weekend. You’re not going to take your laptop computer with you. Just you and a couple of friends driving to a remote area with a pleasant environment. As you’re about to leave early on Friday, someone comes into your office. “Mr. Such and Such is on the phone from that company that we’re trying to get as a client. They need you on a conference call right now.” You ask if someone else can take it, and they tell you “no.” You ask why no one informed you of this beforehand, and they don’t have an answer. For pretty much anyone else in the company, it would be easy to leave, skipping the meeting. But you know if you do that you will hear about it on Monday. You will get yelled at for potentially blowing a big deal. Realizing that you have no choice but to stay, in a fit of rage you take the phone that’s on your desk and throw it against the wall.

[broken phone]“I just want peace,” you keep saying to yourself as you drive home. At this point, if someone were to suggest religion to you, you would likely dismiss it. “I don’t need a church or a savior. I’m not worried about the afterlife. I want peace, right now. I want to get rid of my worries.” Shrimad Bhagavatam, though seemingly a religious book, has the answer. The cream of this work is descriptions of the delightful pastimes of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, whose very name is the elixir for the distressed, be they a person in the business world or a renunciate living in a remote cave.

Meditation is the best way to get peace. Focus the mind on something wonderful. Nothing is more wonderful than the transcendental form of the Supreme Lord. In Sanskrit it is described as sach-chid-ananda. There is eternality, knowledge and bliss. This form exists in the flesh; it is not an abstract concept. Due to its flawless nature, its eternality in truth, it can exist within the mind as well. It is the same form whether thought about or seen directly. Hearing about it gives the picture for the mind.

[Krishna stealing butter]The speaker of the Shrimad Bhagavatam knows that man hears about so many different people all the time. The topics of the Supreme Lord in His personal form are special, though. One only gets the true benefit of meditating on such a person by first knowing His true nature. If you hear about a boy stealing butter and lifting a giant mountain, you may consider the stories to be mythology. But if you know that such a boy is the Supreme Lord, the cause of all causes, the most beautiful person in the universe, who is also the most compassionate, then you’ll want to hear of His stealing of the butter in Vrindavana over and over again. In fact, nothing else will come close to this topic. You will wonder why no one ever told you about Krishna before, who is the darling child of Nanda Maharaja and mother Yashoda. You will wonder why everyone in the world is not meditating constantly on such a benevolent Lord.

Experience provides an understanding as to the reason for the lack of worship. Therefore the wise soul, who hears Shrimad Bhagavatam, whether they are a busy materialist or an aspiring transcendentalist, follows the directions of the advanced souls to reach the objective of constant meditation. They hear from Shrimad Bhagavatam, and when separated from that hearing they get the same association through the constant chanting of the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

In Closing:

Bhagavatam from heaven sent,

For all audiences meant.


Those who trouble never have seen,

And those miserable and always mean.


Meditation the path to peace true,

From hearing of God image in mind too.


Bhagavatam’s descriptions perfectly aligned,

Knowledge of God and His play you’ll find.