Saturday, June 28, 2014

Going To Heaven

[Lord Krishna]“One who is thus transcendentally situated at once realizes the Supreme Brahman. He never laments nor desires to have anything; he is equally disposed to every living entity. In that state he attains pure devotional service unto Me.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 18.54)

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[Bhagavad-gita, 18.54]In the Bhagavad-gita, Lord Krishna describes conditions for attaining devotional service to Him. As defined by Arjuna, and supported by the authority of great saints like Vyasa and Narada, Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He is the supreme abode, the home of homes. His physical home is one thing, but that place derives its nature from Him. Krishna is the actual home, and so wherever one can find Him, they can feel safe and secure.

Since He is the Supreme Lord, the person behind the commonly used term of “God,” when He says how to take up devotion to Him, He speaks of how one can go to Him. The conditions He stipulates are not sectarian. He does not state that one has to be a Hindu first. He does not say that one has to belong to a particular religious organization. He does not say that one has to have been born in a specific land. He does not even say that one has to pray a certain number of times a day.

He says that one should be Brahman-realized. Though Brahman is a Sanskrit word, it is simply a sound vibration representing something tangible. In English I call the liquid that falls from the dark cloud in the sky “water.” In Spanish they call it agua, but the difference in name does not matter. The object is the same in both instances. And so Brahman is to be understood by all. It means spirit. It means the vital force that animates a living creature. It does not refer to only the spirit of a specific creature or set of creatures. The ant is Brahman. So is the cow, so is the elephant, and so is the wise head of state.

[Bhagavad-gita, 5.18]“The humble sage, by virtue of true knowledge, sees with equal vision a learned and gentle brahmana, a cow, an elephant, a dog and a dog-eater [outcaste].” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 5.18)

[Krishna and Balarama with cow]To realize Brahman is to see this spiritual equality in all beings. Krishna then says that on the Brahman-realized platform, there is no more hankering or lamenting. Not that desire stops entirely, but these things cease having an effect. If I wear a heavy winter coat, it doesn’t mean that I will never feel cold again. It just means that the cold winds won’t be able to influence me. In the same way, the Brahman realized soul transcends the pendulum known as desire and hate, on which we constantly swing.

Without hankering and without lamentation, and equipped with the Brahman vision, such a soul then takes up devotional service, or bhakti-yoga. That is the ticket to heaven and beyond. From Krishna we also learn that what we consider to be heaven is merely a temporary residence. It’s like visiting the mansion of an oil mogul from centuries prior. We could live there for a while and try to enjoy, but the existence isn’t that different from what we have now. We still get a temporary body that must eventually leave us. The same goes for residence in heaven, and hell as well.

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

Krishna is the supreme abode, and His home is a different kind of heaven. It is reserved for those practicing bhakti-yoga exclusively. In a nutshell, anyone who wants to go there gets to. The desire has to be sincere. It does not mean that one has to make a huge show of their devotion, for in fact displaying too much religiosity in public is often a warning to others of a lack of genuineness. A sincere desire lives within the consciousness, which gets measured at the time of death.

[Bhagavad-gita, 8.6]“Whatever state of being one remembers when he quits his body, that state he will attain without fail.” (Lord Krishna, Bg. 8.6)

Based on this scientific understanding, we see that any statements to the fact that one can only get to heaven if they belong to a particular religion are absolutely silly. This thinking is like the bogus caste system by birthright or the social status based on heredity that was prevalent in Europe for so long. Does only the Christian feel the heat of the summer? Does only the Hindu feel satisfaction from eating? Does only the Muslim die? Does only the Jewish person take birth?

The soul transcends all designations, and so its residence is not determined by one’s particular faith. One is not banned from any area in the afterlife based on which religion they profess allegiance to. The requirement for Krishna’s abode is the Brahman vision and a lack of hankering and lamenting, things which get their support from devotional service. His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada very nicely translates bhakti-yoga to mean “Krishna consciousness.” The mindset determines whether or not one is eligible for going back to the transcendental abode, the only place where there is no birth and death. No one can stop us from thinking anything, so if we want we can think of the all-attractive Krishna today and secure our entry to His beautiful land.

[Radha and Krishna in Vrindavana]One who knows Krishna only as His plenary expansion of the Supersoul residing within the heart also gets an auspicious birth in the next life. The same goes for the soul who is Brahman realized, who only knows of God as a supreme energy. And those who are pious, who may not know the existence of a Supreme Lord who is behind everything that we see, get to enjoy in the heavenly realm for a time commensurate with their good deeds. Thus the desire is what matters most, not the religious affiliation.

In Closing:

Only the Christian to heaven to go?

How possibly this can be so?


Does only the Muslim eat?

Does only the Hindu happiness meet?


Brahman realization the described condition,

Heavenly abode not excluded for any tradition.


No longer hankering and no more to lament,

In devotion to transcendental land then sent.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Param Dhama

[Krishna and Arjuna]“Arjuna said: You are the Supreme Brahman, the ultimate, the supreme abode and purifier, the Absolute Truth and the eternal divine person. You are the primal God, transcendental and original, and You are the unborn and all-pervading beauty.” (Bhagavad-gita, 10.12)

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[Bhagavad-gita, 10.12]Where is your real home? Where do you feel most comfortable? There must be one place where you have no worries, where you feel safest. In Sanskrit, an abode is referred to as a dhama. It is the refuge, and according to the authority of Arjuna, one of the famous five Pandava brothers, the supreme abode is Shri Krishna. He is the best home for everyone, regardless of where they presently live or what their mindset presently speaks.

Traditional Vedic culture features arranged marriages. The parents take care of everything. Likely the bride and groom don’t meet each other beforehand. Also, the wife is considered a gift from the father. “Kanya-dana” is the name of the ceremony; it means giving the gift of a young daughter to another family. Therefore the marriage is tougher for the wife in the beginning; she must adjust to new surroundings and a new family.

It is not surprising, therefore, to find references made by the wife to the safety of her parents’ home. She will never feel as happy anywhere else, for that is where her original family resides. The new home could be ideal in every way, with a loving and caring mother-in-law, but the nostalgia of the childhood home is always there.

In present times, the childhood home is also the favorite spot for many. It is where the child played baseball in the backyard with their brothers and sisters. It is where they watched movies with their parents on the couch. It is where they had sleepovers with their friends. It is where they played basketball in the driveway. It is where they grew up.

For others the preferred abode is the university, the college where they resided in a dormitory for four years. They have so many memories there that when they feel the need to escape, they try to mentally return to that place and time. For others a similar abode may be the office where they spent many years working.

When turning to the realm of spirituality, you get many dhamas. These are many important places because the Supreme Personality of Godhead in many places touched the ground with His lotus feet during His various advents on earth. There is Mayapura dhama. This is where Lord Chaitanya, the preacher incarnation of Godhead, first appeared on this earth several hundred years ago. There is Navadvipa dhama, where Lord Chaitanya grew up. There is Jagannatha Puri dhama, the home of Jagannatha, the Lord of the universe. There is Mathura dhama, where Shri Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, appeared in His original transcendental form some five thousand years ago. There is Vrindavana dhama, where Krishna enjoyed many childhood pastimes. There is Ayodhya dhama, where Krishna appeared in His incarnation of Lord Rama. Even Chitrakuta and Kishkindha are dhamas, since Rama enacted wonderful pastimes there.

[Jagannatha, Subhadra and Baladeva]In the Bhagavad-gita, Arjuna says that Krishna Himself is the supreme abode, the param dhama. This should make sense if we think about it. He is the supreme resting place for everyone, as He is tied to every single spirit soul for all of eternity. We marry someone during this lifetime, but after death the bond is no more. The same goes for the ties to friends and family. Our possessions don’t come with us, either. But Krishna does. There is nothing we can do to stop this, such is His mercy.

[Bhagavad-gita, 15.15]“I am seated in everyone's heart, and from Me come remembrance, knowledge and forgetfulness. By all the Vedas am I to be known; indeed I am the compiler of Vedanta, and I am the knower of the Vedas.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 15.15)

So if Krishna is the supreme abode, and He resides within our heart, are we not always living in the best place? Actually, the manifestation of the Lord within the heart is known as the Supersoul, and it is not the full realization of Him. It is Krishna the Supreme Personal, the transcendental form, which is the supreme abode. Then the question is where do we find Him? Where do we locate the supreme abode of which Arjuna speaks?

“I shall happily reside in the forest, considering it to be just like my paternal home, paying no attention to the three worlds and only thinking of my husband's vow.”  (Sita Devi speaking to Lord Rama, Valmiki Ramayana, Ayodhya Kand, 27.12)

[Sita and Rama]Sita Devi echoes Arjuna’s sentiment. In the Ramayana she says that she will be happy with Rama wherever they live. She says that she will be as happy as in her parents’ home. Again, this can only be true if Rama is the param dhama. Goswami Tulsidas gives a hint as to how to find that home within this very life.

“There are an infinite number of living beings, both moving and nonmoving, who have many different abodes, with some residing on the earth, some in the sky, and some in the water. But O helpless Tulsi, for you Shri Rama’s holy name is your only home.” (Dohavali, 37)

Tulsidas says that his home, in whatever location, is the name of Rama. Lord Chaitanya also confirms that the name of God is the same as Him. Therefore He inaugurated the sankirtana movement, the congregational chanting of the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. He showed everyone the path to the param dhama. Whether one is learned or illiterate, man or woman, short or tall, strong or weak - they can follow this path of attachment to the holy name and find their original and most preferred home.

In Closing:

Safest place for my mind,

How this supreme abode to find?


“Param dhama” is Krishna Arjuna claims,

Tulsidas and Sita confirm the same.


Chaitanya the path towards giving,

When in bhakti-yoga living.


In whatever species, whichever planet to go,

The Lord to remain supreme resting place so.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Your Silence For Your Confidence

[Prabhupada speaking]“Satyam, truthfulness, means that facts should be presented as they are for the benefit of others. Facts should not be misrepresented. According to social conventions, it is said that one can speak the truth only when it is palatable to others. But that is not truthfulness. The truth should be spoken in a straight and forward way, so that others will understand actually what the facts are.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 10.4-5 Purport)

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Imagine this scenario. You’re working in the government. You hold a position in an important department. No one really knows who you are since you work on the staff for a leader who is known to the public. That leader works under the direction of the even bigger leader, the acknowledged head of state. Therefore you have some cover. You have some anonymity. You do important work, but no one bothers you.

One day you suspect corruption going on. You’re not sure. This is a big deal, you tell yourself. Therefore you’re not going to rush to judgment. You’re going to investigate further to find out what is really going on. After all, up until this point you trusted the leaders. You had no reason to suspect them of wrong doing.

To your dismay, the investigation only confirms your initial suspicion. There is indeed corruption. It traces all the way to the top, the head of state. You have a dilemma on your hands. You know that the right thing to do is to tell some person in authority of what is going on. This corruption should not stand. For starters, the people of the state have an incorrect opinion of the head. They think that he is honest and trustworthy. He constantly criticizes those who are corrupt in the private sector, such as the famed business leaders who jump ship and sell their stock the day before the company is about to announce bankruptcy. The leader talks a good game about being open with the citizens, but now you know that he is anything but honest.

If you go public, however, you will make a lot of enemies. You will likely lose your job. Everyone in the office will stop talking to you. As this is a pretty big scandal, the guilty party is not going to sit idly by. They are going to attack you, trying to ruin your reputation. These people who all love you presently will no longer even speak with you. Therefore the truth will make you a lonely person, whereas silence will buy you the confidence of others. What will you do?

The Vaishnava saints face a similar predicament. They see so much going on around them that is not right. Not merely from their knowledge of scripture and the consequences to actions slated for the afterlife, from experience these wise souls know that the best use of the auspicious human birth is devotional service, pure love for God. He may be called a specific name in a specific region, but this does not mean that He is exclusive to one group. And neither is devotional service reserved only for the group which presently knows God in His complete manifestation of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is all-attractive with His transcendental features.

[Lord Krishna]The Vaishnava sees the dangers of intoxication. They know that not only does the drug addict have a difficult road ahead of them but that also the casual drinker looking for an escape from their daily troubles would be better served in escaping in the right way, in a permanent fashion. That escape is from illusion into reality, from the temporary into the permanent. That escape is actually a rescue, and everyone is entitled to it.

The Vaishnava sees the dangers of illicit sex, where the deluded soul incorrectly worships body parts belonging to another. Identifying themselves and others with the visible manifestations of the various bodies, such souls do not see the future, where such body parts will no longer be attractive. They do not see that there is a higher pleasure available in attachment to the transcendental body of the Supreme Lord, whose form is worshiped in the purest way by offering prayers and chanting His names.

The Vaishnava sees the sinking pit of gambling, where one wager is never enough. One victory is not enough either, as without the rush of the next roll of the dice, one feels as if their life has no meaning. The Vaishnava knows that the best gamble is to bet on the mercy of the Supreme Lord. The roll of those dice comes up correct every time, as the soul who is pure in consciousness of God is guaranteed to attain His nature in the next life.

[Bhagavad-gita, 8.5]“And whoever, at the time of death, quits his body, remembering Me alone, at once attains My nature. Of this there is no doubt.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 8.5)

The Vaishnava sees the violence that is necessary for meat eating. From a single image of a typical plate of flesh, they see the untold suffering the innocent animals must go through. They also see the reciprocal damage due to arrive in a future life. The Vaishnava understands that the foods in the mode of goodness offered to the Supreme Lord bring a much higher taste, one that doesn’t require unnecessary violence that is the product of a deluded consciousness.

[Shrila Prabhupada]These saints risk losing all of their friends. After all, what person wants to hear that they are wasting their life in drinking? Who wants to be told that their meat eating will bring them untold pain and suffering in the future? What gambler wants to be told that their habit is taking away their honesty and ruining their chances for peace? And what person wants to be told to refrain from illicit sex, which is the highest pleasure in material life?

Understanding this situation, we see that the Vaishnava saints are the most glorious leaders. They aren’t looking to win a popularity contest. They know that even if no one buys what they are selling, that the act of glorifying God through spreading the philosophy of bhakti is worth it. In the Bhagavad-gita it is said that out of many millions of men, one will strive for perfection in understanding God. The Vaishnava saints look for such a person and try to help them reach their true potential, for this pleases both the person and the Supreme Lord, who reclaims another lost soul, granting them reentry into the eternal pastimes that take place in the spiritual world.

In Closing:

If evidence of corruption to know,

Hesitant you are for whistle to blow.


All friends and colleagues to lose,

If the path of honesty you choose.


Consider then the Vaishnava’s plight,

Chastised for speaking all that is right.


Still, with their path in confidence to proceed,

Understanding that of bhakti world so much in need.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The Powerful Behind The Power

[Krishna's lotus feet]“Although there is no clear distinction between the Powerful and the power, power is always subordinate to the Powerful. Those who are materialistic are worshipers of the power, but those who are transcendentalists are worshipers of the Powerful.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 1, Ch 2)

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You’ve waited the whole week for this. You know that you are too old to get excited over a television program, but you can’t help yourself. You love everything about this particular event. You start by watching the “red carpet” preview. This is where all the actors, actresses and famous personalities arrive for the show. They come in limousines, and they sport the latest fashions. This is also the first time many new couples will be seen in public. You want to see how they look together. You want to see if they’re a good match.

Then the show starts. You watch a lot of movies, so you want to see your favorites win. Even some films which you didn’t like, you thought one or more actors did a very good job. Therefore you root for them to take home the prestigious award for their specific category. In this way the time flies. You don’t even notice that many hours have gone by.

Finally, the award everyone has been waiting for: Best Picture. You’ve actually seen all the movies that are nominated. Therefore you have a strong favorite, which you know to be better than the rest of the competition. An award like this sticks forever. It gives honor to something which you think deserves it. It can make careers. It can make a star out of a nobody. It can catapult a whole new style of film.

A past winner of a “best actor” award approaches the podium to announce this year’s winner. He goes through the nominees and then proceeds to open up the envelope. “And the winner is,” he says. Then what comes next is music to your ears. He announces that your favorite movie, the one that moved you to tears and made you rethink your perspective on life, is the best picture of the year. You’re ecstatic. Your friends and family gathered in your home are happy for you also, though you had nothing to do with the film.

[dvd]Now imagine that when this award is announced, no one comes to the stage. Instead, they bring out a DVD fully sealed in plastic, sporting the cover art for the film. That DVD, an inanimate object, rests on the podium. A microphone is put in front of it, but then there is only silence. This seems ridiculous, obviously, but it is one way to understand how the powerful behind the amazing power of the perceptible world goes ignored on a daily basis, even in so called religious circles.

Why doesn’t the DVD suffice? Why doesn’t a picture of the movie set make a difference, either? It is because honor goes to the powerful. That is who everyone is interested in knowing about. One cannot watch a wonderful film and then attribute its creation to randomness. “Oh that direction, that acting, and that story all came together through a collision of chemicals. There was no intelligence to it.” If speaking like this, others would consider you to be crazy.

And yet in the vastly more complex world with which we interact on a daily basis, we show no interest in the powerful. The reverence goes simply to the power. “Oh look at the sun. Thank the Lord it is out today. Oh this flower smells so nice. Spring is my favorite season. It is when everything comes back to life.”

Even in societies that claim to be spiritually conscious, the appreciation remains on the power. “God is great. Just see what He has done.” Surely this is a good acknowledgment, but what about God? What is known about Him? Why did He create this? What more can He do? What are we supposed to do with His creation?

The most detail about the Powerful belongs to the Vedic tradition. It is not that other traditions should be discounted in this regard. An analogy used to explain the differences is the dictionary . Not all dictionaries are the same size. In modern times, one simply does an internet search to find spellings and meanings to words, but in the past dictionaries as physical books were much more important. Some dictionaries are smaller. They are known as pocket dictionaries. Others are more comprehensive, and thus much larger. Both are dictionaries, but one is superior due to the larger amount of detail.

[pocket dictionary]As in the Bhagavad-gita and Shrimad Bhagavatam we get so much detail of the powerful behind the power, we see that there is a superior form of knowledge available to those who are inquisitive. The interest needn’t be restricted to mere curiosity or a thirst for knowledge. Rather, the more is known about the Powerful, the more those operating within its power can connect with it.

When the “best picture” award is announced, the actors, the writers, the creators, the producers, and even the director go up to the stage to accept the award. They are the powerful behind the power that is the film. The appreciative public is more interested in the powerful, since it is the intelligence behind the power. And so the Supreme Lord Himself is more important than His potency, which to us is awesome but to Him is merely a separate, inferior energy.

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

[Krishna's lotus feet]The spiritual energy is the superior energy, and the source of the spiritual energy is thus the superior person of interest for all creatures. Prominently featured in the Vedas are His names, forms, pastimes and activities. This inclusion allows for a unique experience in spiritual life. Connecting with Him is bhakti-yoga and that connection brings a kind of satisfaction not seen anywhere else. One’s favorite film may win an award or their close friend may receive a high honor, but the joy from such achievements does not come close to matching the happiness of the souls who daily honor God with their thoughts, words and deeds. The Bhagavad-gita is God’s words spoken directly by Him, and so one who is searching for the Powerful need not spend any more time looking. They can take the names of God as well and always chant them: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

In Closing:

On television awards ceremony the eyes,

A DVD to accept best picture a surprise.


Powerful behind the power to know,

How from randomness creation so?


Apply concept to the creation whole,

Shri Krishna holding “Most Powerful” role.


Highest honor to Him give,

For always in felicity to live.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The One With The Fridge Magnets

[Krishna with cows]“The cows had to move slowly because of their weighty milk bags, but they quickly ran to the Supreme Personality of Godhead as soon as He called them, their affection for Him causing their udders to become wet.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 10.20.26)

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[Shrimad Bhagavatam, 10.20.26]Prema was busy in the kitchen. This weekend, with no advanced notice, her husband’s brother and his entire family were coming to visit. Prema was a working mother. She took care of the home while still going to her job every day. Her husband only came into the kitchen if he needed something from the refrigerator. Otherwise the extent of his cooking skills was placing last night’s leftovers in the microwave and heating it up.

While frantically preparing for that night’s dinner, which had to be in large quantity, Prema accidentally knocked off a magnet that was on the refrigerator door. She hadn’t noticed that magnet before; it must have been placed there recently, she thought. No problem, as she would simply put the magnet back on. Underneath the magnet was a recipe printed on a piece of paper; the magnet was holding the recipe up to the fridge. Prema’s daughter had placed it on there, perhaps as a reference guide for the next time she made that dish.

[Fridge magnets]Time was short, and so that added to Prema’s frustration when she couldn’t get the magnet to sit properly back on the door. “What the heck is wrong with this? It’s a magnet. Isn’t it supposed to automatically stay on?” Still having trouble, she decided to take off one of the other magnets on the fridge door. This way she could test what was wrong. Predictably, she ended up having the same problem; the magnet wouldn’t go back on the door while holding the piece of paper underneath. Pretty soon there were papers all over the kitchen floor. The lentil soup on the stove then started boiling over. The timer on the oven went off; letting her know that the cookies were ready. It was a chaotic scene.

When things calmed down a little later, Prema’s attention went back to the magnets. She tested them on each other, noticing the automatic attraction and repulsion that occurred when the magnets were matched in a certain way. Thus she knew that the magnets had maintained their properties. Eventually she figured out how to put the magnets back on the fridge and have them hold the printed papers underneath. But the episode got her to thinking about Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

“These objects and the magnets have such a strong attraction, so much so that it is very difficult to separate them. The attraction is natural, sort of how we are meant to be with the Supreme Lord. The name Krishna says that He is all-attractive. This describes His form as well. I’ve heard that we’re all naturally attracted to Him. Wouldn’t it be great if we were never separated from Him? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we were tied to Him in consciousness in such a way that we would never forget Him, never slip away?

[Lord Krishna]I long for that day when no one will separate me from Krishna. I know I will have advanced sufficiently when others will have a difficult time getting me to leave the company of my beloved Shyamasundara. And why shouldn’t we all be attracted to Him? What is more wonderful to see than the vision of the beautiful son of Yashoda after He has been adorned properly with His flower garland, pitambara, earrings, necklace, and peacock feather in His hair? And what sound can compare to that which emanates from the flute that Krishna so masterfully plays?

I’ve heard that the cows in Vrindavana, Krishna’s land, are so attracted to Him that they automatically produce milk upon sight of Him. As their udders are always dripping with milk, the land is very soft. I’ve heard that the deer and the parrots always congregate around the delight of Vrindavana, wherever He may choose to go for that particular day. They witness His activities and remember them. Paurnamasi and Vrinda Devi collaborate each day to make sure that the meetings between Krishna and His beloved Radha occur just right. No one thinks of anything else in Vrindavana; only Krishna.

I’ve heard that we are all attracted to Him in the same way, though we don’t know it. The attraction towards mundane objects is a derivative of this. Indeed, nothing is completely separated from Krishna. The material energy, in which the height of enjoyment is sex life, is simply a manifestation of Krishna’s energy. This is a temporary energy, though, so the results are temporary as well. I know that in the Bhagavad-gita it is said that the intelligent person does not take part in these sources of misery, as they have a beginning and an end.”

[Bhagavad-gita, 5.22]“An intelligent person does not take part in the sources of misery, which are due to contact with the material senses. O son of Kunti, such pleasures have a beginning and an end, and so the wise man does not delight in them.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 5.22)

Just then Prema’s husband tapped her on the shoulder. “Are you alright, dear,” he asked. “You’ve been standing there staring at that magnet for the past five minutes. Maybe you should sit down and relax. They won’t be here for another hour or so. What did you make for dinner? This looks really good.”

Her consciousness returning to her surroundings, Prema admonished her husband. “Please don’t touch any of the food. Can you go upstairs and change your shirt? You’re not going to wear that when they are here. Everything is fine. Don’t worry.”

As she put the finishing touches on the dinner preparations, Prema again looked at the magnets on the fridge. She thought to herself, “One day. One day, by the grace of the Lord, I will have that attraction.”

In Closing:

To drive distractions finally away,

That attraction to come one day.


Where Krishna’s name I will say,

And His image in my mind to stay.


Just like how the cows to Him run,

For me to be the beloved only one.


To love Him without giving a thought,

And by His web of affection be caught.

Monday, June 23, 2014

My Big Payday

[Rama's lotus feet]“Chanting Shri Rama’s holy name with love, faith and according to regulative principles will be beneficial for you from beginning to end, says Tulsi.” (Dohavali, 23)

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There are two sides to the religiosity fence. On one side you have those who think the whole concept of a God and a religion necessary for worshiping Him is bogus.

“You’re just playing ‘make believe.’ I gave that up when I was in elementary school. I’m into reality. I’m into believing in things which can be proven empirically, i.e. those things which I can see. Sure, I can’t see the fragrance of a flower or the taste of my favorite pizza pie, but with God I insist on seeing, nothing else. As I know there is no God, I’m going to enjoy right now. Why deprive myself? I don’t think that suffering is virtuous. I think it’s stupid to go through life that way.”

Then on the other side you get the strict observers of religious principles. They think only of the afterlife. Never mind how things are going right now; they’ve heard that life in heaven is longer. That longer life is more important to worry over.

“I want to go to heaven. Why would I want to be condemned to hell after this life is over? Therefore I don’t mind following austerities. I don’t mind suffering a little bit right now. The payoff is worth the effort. I’m not going to go against God’s will. I’m not going to be a flagrant sinner.”

The two apparently contradictory goals go by the names svartha and paramartha in Sanskrit. In Hindi, Goswami Tulsidas refers to them as svaratha and paramaratha. One is self-interest, or the interests that pertain to the presently manifest world. The world in this regard doesn’t have to refer to the globe as a whole. If I live in a prison cell, that tiny space is my world. If I am a world traveler, then the airplane, the taxi, and the hotel are my world. Svartha is meeting satisfaction while one is still in their present world.

Paramartha is the interest served at the next destination. And there will be one, for sure. The soul is eternal. It actually travels to different places right now. We can think of our childhood as our past life. We can think of old age as our future. Paramartha is the interest for the next body, when this covering is renounced entirely.

Though the parties don’t know it, the interest is actually identical on both sides of the fence. Both are seeking enjoyment in a temporary place; just one wants it now and another later. The soul is not satisfied in either case. There is the hope for the larger fortune, one that is seldom to arrive. The person after worldly interest hopes for the big payday through playing the lottery, investing in stocks, or running a business. Drowning in material life, no amount of money is satisfactory. The person seeking interests in the afterlife never finds any happiness presently. They are always suffering, as they hold on to the hope of the big payday of reaching heaven.

“Human felicity is produced not so much by great pieces of good fortune, that seldom happen, as by little advantages that occur every day.” (Benjamin Franklin)

[Benjamin Franklin]Benjamin Franklin, a famous American philosopher and inventor from the colonial period, was known for making little improvements that would provide some conveniences to every day life. This actually falls into the category of svartha, but the philosophy behind it speaks to the glories of bhakti-yoga. The philosophy is that happiness comes from little advantages rather than the hope for a big fortune, which seldom arrives. In bhakti-yoga, devotional service, the happiness is there from beginning to end.

This is true only of bhakti because no other discipline seeks to find happiness for the soul. At its core the soul is eternal, blissful and full of knowledge. It would make sense, then, that the blissful potency would match well with something that is eternal and full of knowledge. Worldly pleasures are not eternal and neither are those in the afterlife. From the Bhagavad-gita we understand that life in heaven is not permanent; one has the chance of falling back down.

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

[Radha and Krishna]The soul is happiest when it is serving. This property is the soul’s dharma, or defining characteristic. Service to anyone except God is temporary. More specifically, service to anyone except the Supreme Personality of Godhead is limiting. God can be known in three different ways. One is through the impersonal energy called Brahman. The vague idea of a supreme controller basically speaks to Brahman, though the worshiper may not know the exact definition of Brahman. Then there is Paramatma, which resides within the heart. This is a more personal version of God, who is specific to each individual. Then there is Bhagavan, which is God the person in full. Bhakti-yoga is for connecting with Bhagavan.

And that connection means finding advantages every single day. It means being happy in the morning by rising to chant the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. It means being happy in the afternoon through eating food that is prepared and offered to the deity of Krishna, which is the best name for Bhagavan. It means being satisfied in the nighttime through hearing about Krishna and discussing topics relating to Him with others. It means kicking back and relaxing on the weekend through the continuation of service, which may include travel to places of importance to Krishna. Thus the present life is spent happily and in the next life the same devotion continues, making every moment a huge payoff to work.

In Closing:

One for later another for now,

But happiness throughout how?


Felicity from advantages smaller,

Better than waiting for payoff taller.


In bhakti to God your devotion send,

Reap rewards from beginning to end.


Future bright, happily this life spent,

To wonder then how quickly the time went.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

The Written Word Remains

[Shrimad Bhagavatam]“In fact, newspapers are read for less than an hour and then thrown in the dustbins as rubbish. The case is similar with all other mundane literatures. But the beauty of transcendental literatures like Bhagavad-gita and Shrimad-Bhagavatam is that they never become old. They have been read in the world by civilized man for the last five thousand years, and they have never become old.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 3.5.7 Purport)

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Things haven’t been going your way. From the frustration you’ve grown a little surly. You’re quick to pull the trigger on your anger now. When in the company of a coworker or friend, it’s not as easy to hold back your thoughts. In your mind, you go over every single offense they’ve ever made. You remember all the times they made you angry. You never said anything back then, because you knew it was wiser to keep your cool.

But on this day they really tick you off. It’s the last straw. You’ve had enough. You unleash a verbal tirade at them in response. You’re so angry that you can feel the color of your face turning to red. You have trouble breathing after the argument, since your blood pressure increased so rapidly. These were just words said out loud, but now you’re tempted to vent your frustrations in writing. You craft a very nasty email, and you’re on the verge of sending it, when you decide to think the matter over.

In Latin there is the phrase “littera scripta manet.” This means “the written word remains.” Your argument with this person will eventually pass. After all, you know that you’ve had other arguments over the years with your friends. The people involved remember what was said and what triggered the argument, but there is no way to go back and actually look up the words that were used. The written word is different, though. That will remain. Many years into the future someone could read that nasty email and get the wrong idea about you:

“Boy, they must have been a very mean person. They must have been angry all the time. How could they write such things about another person, a friend no less? This email gives me insight into this person’s personality, and I don’t like what I see.”

As if knowing the written word’s ability to transcend time, the Vaishnava saints of the past all carefully chose their words. In the voluminous Vedic literature, you will not find much hate. There may be some temporary anger directed at offensive parties in the form of a back and forth verbal debate, a sort of transcript of a conversation, but there is no hate presented as a philosophy. The most famous of Vedic works, the Bhagavad-gita, contains only valid truths. Absent is blanket criticism of an entire society. The properties of the demons are described, for sure, but then in the philosophy itself one learns that a demon doesn’t have to stay that way forever.

[Shrimad Bhagavatam, 7.10.15-17]“Prahlada Maharaja said: O Supreme Lord, because You are so merciful to the fallen souls, I ask You for only one benediction. I know that my father, at the time of his death, had already been purified by Your glance upon him, but because of his ignorance of Your beautiful power and supremacy, he was unnecessarily angry at You, falsely thinking that You were the killer of his brother. Thus he directly blasphemed Your Lordship, the spiritual master of all living beings, and committed heavily sinful activities directed against me, Your devotee. I wish that he be excused for these sinful activities.”  (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 7.10.15-17)

[Prahlada Maharaja]Due to their envious nature, such folks are cast into the lower species. Since the soul is eternal and since the bodies are temporary coverings akin to shirts and coats, residence in such species does not have to continue indefinitely. Even the villainous characters of infamy have a shot at redemption. The five year old boy named Prahlada had every reason to speak ill of his father Hiranyakashipu. Prahlada could have filled volumes of books with the offenses his father had committed. But instead we find Prahlada’s request for pardon for his demon-father. Thus the written words of Prahlada contain only golden gems, giving insight into his character that makes one more attached to him.

And Prahlada is best known for his glorification of God. This will live on as well. It is a much better thing to carry into the future than a tirade against a person who has fallen into the pool of ignorance and made many offenses. The glorification of God not only helps countless others in finding the true purpose in life, but it also helps the person doing the glorifying. It means that their best face will shine forth into the future, enduring through every era. No one can say a bad word about Prahlada. His words that live on today endear him to all.

In the words that live on, one can actually form an attachment to the author. Have you ever missed someone whom you have never met? Have you ever felt attached to a person whose physical association has never come your way? This is only possible through the written word. With the help of modern technology, the written word can also be passed on through recorded sound vibration, i.e. audio recordings. These are both the same, as written words are nothing more than sound. The Vedic literature is the sound recording of the speech of saintly personalities. The Bhagavad-gita is the recording of God Himself, making it the most valuable literature.

[The written word]“Littera scripta manet” is a valuable phrase. It clears up the confusion as to whether or not one should libel someone else. The slanderous words live on, even if you change your mind afterwards. Every person is on the train towards enlightenment, though it may take many lifetimes for some to reach the end. Therefore all ill feelings are destined to vanish, meaning that every person will regret that their unkind words lived on. On the other side, the benefits of devotional service to God remain. Even if a person accidentally falls back into the material ocean, forgetting the lotus feet of the divine master, Shri Krishna, if they ever come upon their written glorifications again those words can act as a saving grace.

[Valmiki writing the Ramayana]For this reason the Vaishnava saints record as much of their glorifications as possible. They pass on this life raft to save even people they will never meet, who are born hundreds of years after the fact. They know the secret that the glories of the Supreme Lord are immeasurable, which allows them to write on and on. They know that others might judge them in the future, and that others will speculate as to their true nature. Therefore through the kind words offered to God and His devotees, others will have no choice but to consider these writers to be great devotees, which is the highest honor to receive. To be known as a servant of the servant of the Supreme Lord is the pinnacle achievement of fame, and through the lasting written word this can be achieved very easily.

In Closing:

To curse one who caused me pain,

But pause since written word to remain.


Others upon that tirade to glance,

And for knowing me missing the chance.


Vaishnavas power of recorded words understand,

So glorifications of God off to future generations hand.


Benefit even if of Krishna later forgetting,

Powerful words right again their mind setting.