Saturday, August 2, 2014

Happiness Is Rising

[kumuda]“Looking at the four pairs, they gave their blessings as they departed. Like the white lily blooming at the rising of the moon, happiness grew in their hearts.” (Janaki Mangala, 192)

jōrīṁ cāri nihāri asīsata nikasahiṁ |
manahum̐ kumuda bidhu-udaya mudita mana bikasahiṁ ||

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Who is God? Where does He live? What does He want from us? Is it better to ask things of Him or offer something to Him? If it’s the latter, what could He possibly want from us? Where do we make these offerings? The above referenced verse from the Janaki Mangala gives an example of offerings made to Him and the resultant effect. The reciprocation is tremendous, delivering a reward far superior to anything that could be asked for directly.

What are things that we could ask for? Well, perhaps we’re not feeling so well. Last night I ate something that isn’t sitting well with me. Now my stomach hurts. I’m in so much pain that I can’t do anything. I can’t even sleep. It feels like I need to throw up, but I can’t. Therefore I don’t have any relief. As a last resort I pray to God.

“O Lord, please help me out. I know I’m suffering the reaction to some past mistake. I did something wrong for sure. I have too many sins to count. I swear to be good from now on. Just make this pain go away. I can’t live like this.”

And what happens when the pain does go away? Naturally, we soon forget about the whole ordeal. We don’t remember the promises we made under duress. We carry on as usual. “As usual” means continuing in a life of material sense gratification, where the only time we remember the good Lord is when we again want something. Thus happiness does not increase. It comes for a brief moment, and then goes away. It is like the sun that peaks out from the clouds only to get hidden again.

[sun peeking through the clouds]Imagine another situation. You come home from work one day and happily greet your children. You are so happy to see them that you give them candy bars. You picked these up on your way home since they asked you for them. Your wife had advised against it, but you couldn’t help yourself. Your children are so happy to receive these gifts. The problem is the next time they aren’t as happy. They want more. The candy bars are not enough. Pretty soon you regret ever having given them the gift in the first place.

The senses of the living entity act in this way. Satisfying them only makes them want more in the future. And to reach the same satisfaction requires more the second time around. By following the desires that constantly flow in, like a rushing river, happiness remains elusive.

[Bhagavad-gita, 2.70]“A person who is not disturbed by the incessant flow of desires - that enter like rivers into the ocean which is ever being filled but is always still - can alone achieve peace, and not the man who strives to satisfy such desires.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.70)

[Christmas Tree]As they say during the Christmas season, it is better to give than it is to receive. When applying this principle to the relationship to God, the previous situation turns around completely. Whereas asking for things doesn’t lead to permanent happiness, and makes one even more upset with the Supreme Lord in the chance that the desired object doesn’t come to fruition, giving to God brings happiness that only increases.

In the above referenced verse from the Janaki Mangala, happiness is on the rise. It comes from offering blessings to four newlywed couples. The women in the royal court generously gave these blessings. The recipients didn’t require them, but they accepted them anyway. The head of the newlywed couples was Shri Rama, the Supreme Lord in a famous incarnation form. Rama can grant anything to anyone. As soon as someone wants something, He can ask His eternal consort, Lakshmi Devi, to give it to them. God never runs out. The pie that is the spiritual world is infinite. Taking away one part does not diminish the whole. To us this is inconceivable, or achintya.

The women here felt happy because offering blessings to God is totally natural. The reaction is automatic as well; hence the comparison to the kumuda flower. That flower is the white water-lily; it opens up at the rise of the moon. It opens more and more as the moon heads towards its peak in the sky. In the same way, the more one offers blessings to God, the more happiness they feel in the heart.

[Sita and Rama]The comparison is not entirely accurate, though, as the happiness in devotional service never reaches an end. The space in the heart only increases to make more room for happiness. It is no wonder, then, that the devoted souls continue to offer blessings to God, hoping for only the best for Him. In the heightened state of devotion, they care not for their own welfare, which is automatically maintained by Rama, His wife Sita, and Rama’s three younger brothers and their consorts, who happily returned to Ayodhya and were blessed by all the people who loved them so very much.

In Closing:

In devotion no care for personal gain,

By Sita and Rama always maintained.


For God’s welfare instead the only care,

That He’s self-sufficient happily unaware.


Like water-lily to the moon in the sky,

Through bhakti happiness on the rise.


Since no limit comparison deficient,

For them no offering to Lord ever sufficient.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Gift Dilemma

[sari]“They gave gifts of clothes to all who were entitled. All the guests, the female attendants, and the wives of the gurus received gifts.” (Janaki Mangala, 191)

nēgacāra kari dīnha sabahiṁ pahirāvani | 
samadhī sakala su'āsini guratiya pāvani ||

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Here the gift-giving at a famous marriage reception continues. There is no consumption of alcoholic beverages. There is no first dance for the married couple. The guests get the top priority, and they are not going to leave empty-handed. The Supreme Lord is making sure of that. The wives in His royal family are making sure everyone who deserves to get a gift gets one. No one is shut out, and so in the spiritual world the reciprocation of love continues, without end to the exchanges.

Imagine this scenario. Someone’s invited you to their wedding. You don’t mind going. They’re a good friend. Amidst all the other planning you have to do, there is the gift. You ask yourself a series of questions:

“How much should I give? Well, how much did they give me for my wedding? I am travelling quite a ways for theirs. I’ve heard that if you have to spend for travel, you can give a smaller gift. What about the people who can’t attend? I’ve heard that if you’re invited, you’re compelled to get a gift. If you can’t make it then you have to give something at least. Then I’ve heard the stories of people basing their gift on their assessment of the wedding hall. If it’s a nice place, you’re supposed to give more. You’re supposed to figure out how much the couple paid per person, and then match that in your cash donation. I’ve heard of people going to the wedding reception with a blank check in their pocket. Upon surveying the situation, they then fill in an appropriate amount. I must say, this is all too much for me to handle.”

[cash gift]In Ayodhya a long time ago, the wedding reception was for the king’s four sons. The royal family had wealth, so they didn’t require anything. Still, everyone in the town celebrated to the best of their ability. There were no misers, including the hosts. And so everyone went away with gifts. In the traditional way, the women were the managers of finance in the homes. When a gift needed to be given, they would pick something and give it away.

Here the three wives of King Dasharatha are continuing to give away gifts. They gave clothes to all who were entitled. Anyone who came up to them received something nice. Who doesn’t appreciate a nice shirt? What woman wouldn’t want a beautiful sari to wear to the next important function? These were simpler times, so clothes as a gift were well appreciated.

In the royal court, there were female attendants and wives to the gurus. They received gifts as well. One may wonder how the royal family could afford to make such donations. Rama is the Supreme Lord in an incarnation form. He is the husband of the goddess of fortune, Lakshmi Devi. On earth He wed Lakshmi in her most beautiful form of Sita. This wedding took place in Janakpur, the land of Sita’s father Janaka.

[Sita and Rama]Here Ayodhya welcomes Sita and Rama. Rama’s three younger brothers were married simultaneously, so the festivities are for four marriages. Where there is the goddess of fortune, there is an endless supply of wealth, jewels, clothes, gold and cows. There is no shortage if Lakshmi Devi is in a favorable mood. When she is with her husband, she profusely distributes charity to those dear to Him. The special qualification of the residents of Ayodhya is that they were all dear to Rama. He loved every one of them, and so it is not surprising that everyone received gifts to their heart’s content.

Bhakti-yoga is unique in that the service continues regardless of what gifts are or aren’t received. Whether one gets a lot or very little from the Supreme Lord, they continue in their devotion. The greatest gift in life is to have a best friend to whom kind words can be offered day after day. That best friend can only be God, since He lives forever in His transcendental form. His land of Ayodhya also remains forever manifest, including the good work of His closest associates.

The gift dilemma for the devotee is how to offer more and more service, and God’s dilemma is how to repay that life dedicated to service to Him. This is a good problem for each to have, and they take turns in topping one another. One second the devotee does something amazing and the next Rama replies with an amazing act of His own. The sparring continues, with everyone winning. This happens only in spiritual life, entry to which is very easy in this age. One can open the door to transcendental bliss through just the chanting of the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

In Closing:

One side many a gift giving,

The other in service continuing.


All obeisances to Sita and Rama made,

Difficult for them such love to repay.


Whether a lot or very little to come,

Deviation from devotional path to be none.


To reward the bhaktas the desire still,

Thus air of spiritual world with love filled.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Nothing Left

[gold coins]“They gave the beggars whatever they asked for and more, who gave their blessings here and there. Then they did puja to the devas and the forefathers for Rama’s good fortune.” (Janaki Mangala, 190)

jācaka kīnha nihāla asīsahiṁ jaham̐ taham̐ |
pūjē dēva pitara saba rāma udaya kaham̐ ||

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Sharanagati is full surrender to the Divine. Full surrender means full dependence. When there is full dependence, there cannot be anything left to hold on to. Other objects may be there, and to outsiders it may appear that there are remaining attachments, but in the mind of the surrendered soul there is only their beloved Supreme Personality of Godhead. He is their only hope for salvation. He is their only reason for living, for in service to Him they derive the most happiness. They know this both in theory and in practice.

[exam]Imagine this scene. You’re taking a big exam today. This is important; it will determine where you end up next year. If you perform well, you’ll have your pick of school. You won’t be at the mercy of admission committees. They will all want you, for from your grades and exam performance it will be impossible to deny you. So you’ve studied a lot for this exam. But you’re still very worried. You see that your friends are worried too. Classmates are assembled on this Saturday morning, all as nervous as you. Normally this day of the week is reserved for rest, for unwinding by watching hours of television. But not today. Everyone has their “game face” on.

As you head towards the examination room, you notice that there is a line, and it is not moving quickly. After a while you figure out the cause of the delay: there is a security check prior to entry. Each person has to remove their mobile telephones. This shouldn’t be causing a problem, you think. There were explicit instructions given beforehand that smartphones and such devices were not allowed in the examination room. Yet everyone seems to have them on their person. The phones aren’t the only thing. Some have papers stashed in their jacket pockets. Others have little notes scribbled on various parts of their body. Some are wearing headphones. Some actually brought their books with them.

[iPhone]“Everyone, may I have your attention please,” announces the security person at the front of the line. “The items listed on this sign right here are not allowed in the examination room. If you’ll please put them away right now, this line will move much more quickly. The time for studying is over. You have to rely on your brains now. There is no other way.” Thus the students surrender to the moment. They no longer have support from the outside. They are forced to rely on only themselves to pass the examination.

The experience is similar for the devoted souls in sharanagati. They intentionally weaken themselves, leaving no objects of distraction. In full dependence, the bliss they experience from devotional service is much higher. They feel true love in this dependence, as they are completely vulnerable. Without vulnerability there cannot be a full interaction of love.

The symptoms of this vulnerability are shown in the verse quoted above. Here the family in Ayodhya is not holding anything back. They already gave away so many gifts to the worthy members of society, the priests. Now they are giving the beggars of the town whatever they want. In return the beggars are giving their blessings. The royal family had plenty to give away, and more importantly they were not worried since they had love for Rama, the Supreme Lord in His incarnation form which roamed the earth during the Treta Yuga, the second time period of creation.

[Lord Rama]As if giving away gifts was not enough, the family members sacrificed even more. They held a puja, or worship ceremony, for the devas, or demigods. You have a demigod in charge of practically every aspect of material life. They wanted all the devas to bless Rama. They also did a puja for the forefathers, those appearing previously in their family.

It should be noted that none of these acts were necessary. Rama does not need anyone’s blessings. He does not require help from any demigod, human being, animal, or plant. He is fully self-sufficient; He is the only person who can claim so. Yet the offerings indicate full surrender on the part of the family members in Ayodhya. They were celebrating the marriage of Rama to Sita, and also the marriages of Rama’s younger brothers to Sita’s relatives from Janakpur.

In full surrender, they had no concern for Rama’s strengths. They did not remember how He had already defeated wicked night-rangers in the forest. They were not remembering how Tataka and Subahu were driven away from Vishvamitra’s ashrama. Instead they were worried about Rama. They wanted life to be perfect for Him. They wanted Him to have every comfort. They were not concerned with their own welfare. If giving away gifts and holding pujas would help Rama, His brothers and their wives, then they would repeat such acts day after day.

This concern for Rama equates to the achievement of life’s mission. Such concern is real love, and since it is tied to the Supreme Lord, it lasts forever. It transcends the bounds of birth and death. All that has happened in the past is of no concern to the person who has the brightest future ahead of them, one where they worship God in full surrender, leaving all attachments behind.

In Closing:

All attachments behind leaving,

In full surrender to Rama cleaving.


To beggars even more gifts gave,

Nothing for themselves to save.


Path of devotion in this way cleared,

For Rama’s welfare only they feared.


Thus true love from them shown,

Highest bliss in sharanagati alone.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

With All Due Honor

[cow]“Upon arriving at the residence, they performed all the auspicious rituals with all due honor. They gave away clothes, gold, jewels and cows to the brahmanas.” (Janaki Mangala, 189)

bhavana āni sanamāni sakala maṅgala ki'ē |
basana kanaka mani dhēnu dāna bipranha di'ē ||

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Humility is required for donating generously. One must realize that what they earn is not totally of their own making. They are not solely responsible for their good fortune. This knowledge makes it easier to part with possessions for the sake of another. Humility is also required to accept charity. Who wants to be dependent on others? Who wants to be labeled a parasite, someone feeding off others? In this verse from the Janaki Mangala, we get an example of each: giving in charity and accepting it. There is humility on both sides, and the offerings are done in the proper way.

Who is actually rich? Who has real wealth? Consider one person who has plenty of food to eat. They don’t own a giant estate. They may not even have air conditioning to keep them cool in the hot summer months. They get exercise by walking on the local fields. They are generally at peace. They don’t worry so much.

Now consider another person. They are very wealthy. Their high-rise apartment would fetch top dollar on the open market. They hob nob with the elite in society. When they fly anywhere, it’s in first class. And yet their health is not so good. To maintain the lavish lifestyle, they have to work long hours. In the fever of earning money, they forget to eat. They have plenty of food available, but they don’t eat on time. Since they are constantly stressed, they’ve developed a bad habit of relying on drugs to get them through the day. They need a pill to deal with anxiety, a pill to keep them awake during the day, and a pill to help them sleep at night.

[stress]From these two scenarios, we see that money alone doesn’t make a person rich with assets. Generally, if a person can eat, sleep, mate and defend without issue, they are not poor. Especially in the category of eating, if everything is done sufficiently, poverty is absent. From this rule we see that the gifts mentioned in the verse quoted above allowed the recipients to live just fine. The recipients didn’t otherwise work for a living. They relied on charity to maintain their livelihood.

The charity they received was clothes, gold, cows and jewels. The cows would have been enough. If you have a small plot of land and maintain a few cows, you don’t have to worry about eating. You have a solution to the food problem. And actually, for one who owns such land, receiving more cows increases their wealth. They don’t need a huge retirement fund. They don’t need a lavish apartment that is difficult to maintain. More cows equals more food, which equals less poverty.

Fortunately, the recipients were not too proud to accept this charity. They weren’t beggars in the ordinary sense. They were not lazy. They were more than capable of earning a living in the traditional way, but they sacrificed that for focusing on spiritual life. And not only for themselves, their efforts would help the rest of society as well. In a sense, they were owed the charity they received, even though they would never think like that.

The donations came as a way to celebrate an auspicious occasion. Four princesses were entering their new home, newly married to the four sons of King Dasharatha of Ayodhya. The queens of the court happily escorted them into the residence, paying them all honor with performing auspicious rites. Part of the ceremony was distributing gifts to the vipras, the priests who were very wise. In the name of the four daughters-in-law, charity was given to worthy recipients.

If the vipras were too proud to accept charity, how would the royal family have celebrated properly? They were not attached to their possessions. They didn’t want to throw them away, though. What sense would that make? They didn’t want to give them to people who were not deserving of them.

And if the royal family were too proud to give away gifts, how would the vipras survive? Who would teach the society about the difference between matter and spirit? Who would sing the glories of the Supreme Lord and His eternal consort? Who would inform others of the divine natures of Shri Rama and Sita Devi, the beloved couple who resided in Ayodhya, God and His energy appearing in apparently human form? Who would provide wise counsel to the royal order? Who would act as the brains of society?

From this verse we see the importance of maintaining the genuine priestly order. We see that in Vedic culture, auspicious occasions are celebrated not with enjoyment of wine and women, but rather with giving generously in charity to the valuable intelligentsia of society. Shri Rama is God Himself, and so it makes sense that those celebrating Him on earth would behave properly. It makes sense that they would help to maintain those who are so dear to Rama, the legitimate brahmanas of the community. And in accepting those gifts, the vipras maintained their devotion to Rama, whose limitless glories fill the pages of Vedic literature.

In Closing:

Cows, gold and gifts to receive,

In quantities couldn’t conceive.


Humility from both sides required,

Proud not over possessions acquired.


Wise counsel the brahmanas give,

From others’ charity able to live.


For Sita and Rama everything done proper,

No surprise, celebration opportunity to offer.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Janma Saphala

[Sita's lotus feet]“When the women opened up the veils to see the brides, they realized the meaning to their eyes, making their births successful.” (Janaki Mangala, 188)

nāri uhārū ughāri dulahininha dēkhahiṁ |
naina lāhu lahi janama saphala kari lēkhahiṁ ||

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How do we make this life successful? We are destined to die, and previously we lived elsewhere. This is the basic definition of reincarnation, and even within this lifetime we see that there is past and present, with a singular animating force within the local body that transcends the different periods of time. We have this one life right now, so what is our true purpose? How do we make this journey successful? Goswami Tulsidas says that it’s as easy as removing a veil. This was literally true for several queens many thousands of years ago, and it is figuratively true for all others. When the veil of ignorance gets removed and one sees with the eyes of shastra, they get the sweetest vision on which to contemplate. A single glance in the proper mood fulfills the human birth, making it saphala, or fruitful.

Who are we? What are we made of? Each aspect of the body contains so many atoms. We could say that we’re a collection of chemicals. Those chemicals get grouped into five distinct elements: earth, water, fire, air and ether. These elements constitute all the bodies we see around us. Some living creatures have more fire than water, and some have more air than fire. Therefore not all creatures are the same; there are different species.

[Bhagavad-gita, 7.4]“Earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind, intelligence and false ego - altogether these eight comprise My separated material energies.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.4)

The gross elements are those we can see, and beyond the vision are the three subtle elements: mind, intelligence and ego. Intelligence is finer than the mind, and the ego is finer than the intelligence. Finer than the finest is the spirit soul. This soul is who we are. We are not anything else. The ego can change. When we identify with the gross elements that temporarily surround the soul, our ego is false. When we identify as spirit soul, part and parcel of the Supreme Spirit, our ego is no longer false.

Even when our ego is real once again, we still have these elements around us. With this covering of the body we get the senses. We can see, smell, taste, touch and hear. So what are we supposed to do with these abilities? Should we eat anything and everything? Should we eat as much as we want? Should we smell nice perfumes only? Should we see beautiful people of the opposite sex? Should we hear our praises and shun those who criticize us?

There are generally two choices. One is to enjoy as much as possible. This is bhoga. The opposite is tyaga, or renunciation. When I’ve enjoyed too much or when I don’t like what I’ve tried to enjoy, I decide to shut off the senses.

“I just won’t eat anything. I’m sick of getting fat. I’ll close my eyes so I don’t have to see the tragedies around us. I’ll never touch anyone ever again, for they only cause me trouble.”

The superior choice is dovetailing the senses and the sense-acquiring objects with service to God. When this is done, we get the true meaning to the senses. In the above referenced verse, Goswami Tulsidas makes one of his favorite comparisons. He says that in devotional service, one realizes the meaning to having eyes. Not surprisingly, the incident that elicits this comparison relates to seeing the Supreme Lord’s closest associates in a loving mood.

[Sita and Rama]Here there are three queens in Ayodhya looking at the four new brides who have come to their new home. These brides are from Janakpur, and they recently got married to the four sons of the king of Ayodhya. The queens, the mothers to the four sons, felt so happy when they gazed upon their new daughters-in-law. They removed the veils on the wives, for typically the married women wore veils. As part of the welcoming ceremony, the mothers were allowed to look behind the veils. They got to see the faces of the beautiful brides. In so doing, they received meaning to their eyes.

Their lives became successful because of their emotions from such an interaction. They had pure love for these women, who are goddesses of fortune. Sita Devi, the wife of the eldest prince Rama, is the goddess of fortune herself. Rama’s three younger brothers are partial expansions of the Supreme Lord, so their wives are also goddesses of fortune.

We are born into the darkness of ignorance. As proof of this fact, we automatically identify with the temporary body, which is nothing more than a collection of the five gross and three subtle elements of material nature. The veil gets removed through the instructions of those who follow in the mood of the queens of Ayodhya. One who loves God can teach others how to love Him. They give the knowledge necessary to derive the true meaning to the Vedic literature, the most comprehensive of all works describing the science of self-realization.

When internally purified, the living entity can see with the eyes of shastra. They can see the influence of the Divine everywhere. With their eyes now opened, they are free to love God all the time. Thus they make their life successful. They understand that all of their senses are meant to be used in service to God, and through such a path all the senses take on their true meaning. The living entity itself, who is a spirit soul at the core, realizes their actual position: servant of God, meant to always be in love.

In Closing:

On the new brides their eyes set,

Fruit of their birth thus to get.


Vision from veils removing,

Most of their senses using.


Though covered with gross elements five,

Divine consciousness soul still can revive.


With love the Supreme Lord just see,

Serve Him so that happy always to be.

Monday, July 28, 2014

From The Earth To The Sky

[Rama's lotus feet]“Laying out the carpet and offering water, they respectfully took them across. Walking with excitement, there was full joy and bliss from the earth to the sky.” (Janaki Mangala, 187)

dēta pāvaṛē aragha calīṁ lai sādara |
umagi calē'u ānanda bhuvana bhuham̐ bādara ||

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The French author Jules Verne wrote a book whose title in English translates to “From The Earth to the Moon.” It was written long before the space programs launched rockets into outer space. Who wouldn’t be enamored with the other world? Who wouldn’t want to see what’s out there beyond the horizon? While this verse from the Janaki Mangala doesn’t specifically give us hints on how to accomplish space travel, it does provide a mechanism for spreading joy and bliss into the sky. That joy starts on the earth, and it comes from a special interaction.

The event referenced here is a kind of wedding reception. The wedding already happened somewhere else. It took place in Tirahuta, and the wedded couples are now in Ayodhya. The reception in Ayodhya is just as important, for it is where the couples will live. As part of that welcome, a carpet gets laid out. As the couples walk across, the ladies of the court respectfully sprinkle water. As the sons and their new wives walk across, everyone feels tremendous joy and bliss, which then extend into the sky.

This latter part is not possible with an ordinary wedding. In times past there was no way to extend a celebration beyond the local area, as today’s forms of communication were not yet invented. Today we could post pictures from the event online and have others see them from across the globe. Thus they could share in the joy. We could record the event and then show it again later on, to a different audience. We could also tell others about it after the fact, essentially recreating the moment with our words.

[Sita and Rama]But in none of these mechanisms does the joy automatically spread into the sky at the precise moment things are occurring. The marriage here was for Sita and Rama. Rama is the prince of Ayodhya, and He has three younger brothers. Their marriages took place at the same time. So four couples are walking across the welcome carpet. The eyes of the queens are fixed on four handsome grooms and four beautiful brides.

Rama is God. He is the full embodiment of bliss, knowledge and eternality. He appears differently depending on the situation. Others may not know Him fully, but He is always above the darkness of the material existence. The words used to praise Him are uttama, or above darkness. Since He is the purusha, or person, above the mode of ignorance, one of His many names is Purushottama. The land where He resides in His form of Jagannatha, which means “Lord of the universe,” is known as Purushottama-kshetra.

[Lord Jagannatha]This event is a celebration of Rama’s marriage to Sita, and so everyone from above is watching. And if we analyze further, we see that the joy and bliss spring from devotion. People are practicing devotion to Sita and Rama and feeling wonderful in the process. Their joy automatically shoots into the sky and soars to the heavenly region and beyond.

This is instructive for those looking for a meaning to life. In ordinary work, not everyone else will notice. We can try to go to the moon, but we cannot stay there. Even if we achieve residence in a heavenly realm through our pious deeds, we can’t remain in the higher planets forever. Devotional service does not suffer from the same defect. Not only do we derive joy from devotion during this lifetime, but our happiness extends all the way to the upper regions. The Supreme Lord and His associates take notice. And at the time of death, we get to soar through the sky and beyond the material covering, happily reaching the supreme abode, the param dhama, the place where the Supreme Lord resides with His eternal associates.

In Closing:

Celebration with spirits soaring high,

Good feelings travel from earth to sky.


Not like a temporary upward bound,

And then again returning to the ground.


Results of devotional celebration to stay,

To associates of all lands making their way.


Think of God at death to easily penetrate,

Material covering and to param dhama elevate.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

I Can’t Help Myself

[Sita and Rama]“Again and again they happily threw money as gifts to celebrate the auspiciousness. Looking at the brides and grooms, they drowned in an ocean of love.” (Janaki Mangala, 186)

karahiṁ nichāvari chinu chinu maṅgala muda bharīṁ |
dūlaha dalahininha dēkhi prēma payanidhi parīṁ ||

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From this verse, we see another difference between bhakti-yoga and any other system for self-improvement. Whether that system be readily acknowledged as secular or religious in nature, the resultant consciousness is what matters when giving an assessment. Is there love for God? Is there a reward sought? Is that reward of the personal variety? Here there is so much love that the people feel helpless. There is nothing that can be done to escape from the ocean of bhakti, which brings eternally refreshing waters and an auspiciousness never before seen.

“If bhakti-yoga brings so much love, and if it is so spontaneous at the highest levels, why the need to talk about it? Why not let others develop that attachment on their own? Why analyze things?”

Everyone is looking for self-improvement. Even those not following a diet or reading a book by an acknowledged expert in a field look for happiness. If everyone had the answers to everything, there would be no lamentation. There would be no sadness at the passing of another. Everyone would go to sleep on time, wake up on time, and eat on time. There would never be any problems at home or the office. Every piece of technology would work as advertised. There would never be a need to upgrade anything since everyone would be satisfied with what they had.

But we know that these conditions do not exist. To put my body back into shape, I follow a diet routine coupled with exercise. To improve my financial situation, I get further educated. Perhaps I switch jobs as well. To improve my home life, I look for a spouse. In old age, I look for ways to pass the time in peace. In this way I am always searching.

[Bhagavad-gita, 7.16]“O best among the Bharatas [Arjuna], four kinds of pious men render devotional service unto Me - the distressed, the desirer of wealth, the inquisitive, and he who is searching for knowledge of the Absolute.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.16)

[Krishna's lotus feet]Religious life isn’t necessarily different. In the Bhagavad-gita, Lord Krishna says that four kinds of people initially approach Him. Some are looking for wealth and some for the alleviation of distress. Some are inquisitive and others are looking for further knowledge after knowing Him a little bit. These are the four kinds that approach Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Then there are other religious paths such as jnana, karma, and yoga. These are knowledge, work and meditation respectively. In each case there is a personal desire. Even if there is a basic understanding of the Supreme Lord, that information doesn’t get top priority. The focus is on the individual’s happiness first. How will I improve myself? How will I feel better? How will I become enlightened?

Bhakti-yoga holds a unique spot because in the matured condition there is no personal desire. Those in this stage of bhakti don’t even know that they are practicing anything. They know only love for God. They think of His welfare first. They worry not over their personal fortunes. Whether they are rich or poor, of solid health or ill, with family or all alone - these are not important to them. “Is God happy? Am I spending time with Him? Is He pleased with my work? Is He enjoying the fruits to my efforts? He is my well-wisher, so does He have good reason to wish me well?”

[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)

In Ayodhya a long time ago, queens in the kingdom happily celebrated the auspicious occasion of the four royal princes’ return home as married men. As part of the welcoming ceremony, the mothers to these princes repeatedly threw money and offered gifts. They did this very happily. This was the first time they were seeing the wives of their sons, so they kept looking at both.

While looking again and again, the mothers drowned in an ocean of love. The love here is transcendental since the objects of affection are the Supreme Lord and His direct expansions. The wives are goddesses of fortune. So by looking at them, the mothers were essentially worshiping them. They did not worship as a mere ritual. They had not done something bad the previous day and then now worshiped in order to be absolved of sin. They were not afraid of punishment in the afterlife.

[Sita and Rama]The love of the mothers was so strong that they were bound by it. This is bhakti-yoga. The rasa of bhakti is like an ocean made up of nectar that gives immortality. For this reason when describing bhakti-yoga Shrila Rupa Gosvami names his book Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu. This ocean is very inviting. All are welcome to jump in and take advantage. There is only one requirement: love. Have love for God. Love Him so much that you don’t care what others think. Love Him so much that no one can take that love away from you. Love Him so much that no matter where you end up, either in this life or the next, you will never abandon Him. The queens in Ayodhya felt this way, and so their behavior teaches us so much.

In Closing:

Ocean of immortality dive in,

With swelling love happily swim.


Helpless since affection so strong,

Beautiful face of Lord to gaze upon.


By queens in Ayodhya this behavior shown,

When brides of sons arrived in their new home.


Of God no need to be afraid,

With your bhakti all obeisances paid.