Saturday, August 30, 2014

Vatsalya Rasa

[Yashoda with Krishna]“If Krishna is accepted as a son, He will never die. Here we have a very loving son or child, but the father and mother, or those who are affectionate towards him, always hope, ‘May my son not die.’ But Krishna actually never will die. Therefore those who accept Krishna, or the Supreme Lord, as their son will never be bereft of their son.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 3.25.38 Purport)

Download this episode (right click and save)

Mother Yashoda and Nanda Maharaja practice devotional service in vatsalya-rasa. We say that they practice something, but this is only for our understanding. From our perspective the two wonderful parents love the Supreme Personality of Godhead in a specific way, with their efforts thereby qualifying under the umbrella of bhakti-yoga, which is linking the individual soul with the Supreme Soul specifically through acts, words and thoughts in devotion. But Yashoda never considers herself to be practicing anything. She is not after an achievement. She is not striving for perfection in life. She simply loves God as her son, and since He is the best son, He stays with her forever.

[Yashoda with Krishna]The following situation isn’t difficult to imagine. You’ve just gotten married. You and your husband love each other very much. Now that you’ve got the wedding behind you, you’re set to have children. You want to have a baby very badly. You pester your husband about it. Each month that goes by without your getting pregnant you start to worry. You wonder if there is something wrong with you. Perhaps your husband wasn’t the right match for you. Not until you get pregnant will you feel like things are progressing along the right track.

Finally it happens. You’re set to give birth. You are with child. It is a wonderful time. Everyone is happy for you. They all want to know the due date. They want to know where in the home the child will live. Where will you keep the crib? Will your family members be around to help you? Amidst all the questions, there is tremendous excitement.

[baby crib]Fast forward a few decades. Now that same child is no longer living with you. They have their own family. They live many hundreds of miles away. You still love them, but things aren’t the same. You can’t act on your love anymore. You received the gift of a child, but the benefit was only temporary.

This is not the case with the Supreme Lord. If one accepts Him as the son, He remains the son forever. We see some evidence of this with His manifest lila in Vrindavana. Some five thousand years ago, He roamed this earth in the replica version of the spiritual abode, Goloka Vrindavana. “Go” in Sanskrit means cow and “loka” means planet. Goloka is the planet of the cows, and there everyone is happily serving Shyamasundara, the beautiful youth of a blackish complexion who never ages. The cows are so happy to be with Him that their milk bags are always full. The dripping of the excess milk keeps the ground soft, and so the cowherd children can roam about barefoot. They don’t need to carry any identification with them. They don’t require a mobile telephone for emergency purposes. They’re not very worried about getting lost. They are always with Krishna, their best friend.

Mother Yashoda lives there as well. In the replica version of Vrindavana seen on this earth, Krishna appears and disappears. He lives with His parents one day but then eventually has to leave. But actually in the spiritual world Krishna never leaves His parents. One who accepts Him as their son thus has love to offer for eternity. Remember the excitement from when your first child was born? Now imagine maintaining that forever.

[Mother Yashoda]Who wouldn’t accept such an offer? The sober person most certainly would, and so sobriety is a key factor in finding happiness. Real sobriety is not related only to intoxicants. The sober mind, dhira, knows the changing of the bodies. They are not bewildered by the shift from boyhood to youth to old age or the shift to another body at the time of death.

[Bhagavad-gita, 2.13]“As the embodied soul continually passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. The self-realized soul is not bewildered by such a change.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.13)

Fortunately, both sobriety and attachment to the personal Supreme God come about rather quickly through the chanting of the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. One who can’t chant can at least hear. If they can’t hear, they can read the mantra. From reviving the dormant love for God that rests within the heart, any of the several mellows of devotional service become attainable. Vatsalya-rasa is devotion in parental affection, but there is also devotion as a servant, as a friend, as a respectful admirer, and even as a lover. Whatever the interaction, Krishna plays the corresponding role perfectly, showing His mercy that cannot be matched.

In Closing:

With news of upcoming baby to get,

To fix up room plans now set.


Several decades then forward fast,

And see how quickly the time passed.


Direct service to offer no more,

Only in the heart child to adore.


Not the case with Krishna as son,

To forever be your most beloved one.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Friendship With Fidelity

[Balarama with Krishna]“Krishna, the Supreme Lord, should be accepted as one's best friend. He will never cheat. He will always give His friendly advice and friendly protection to the devotee.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 3.25.38 Purport)

Download this episode (right click and save)

Friendship is a risky thing. Who doesn’t want to open up to someone else about their problems? Who doesn’t want to share the good things in life with others? Who doesn’t seek validation for their work, for their difficult choices in life? The downside to opening up in such a way is that it leaves you vulnerable. Should there be any argument going forward, you’re left with a potential enemy who knows all of your secrets. The Supreme Lord is not this kind of friend. Though He knows all, He will never cheat a person into revealing things to be used later on to their detriment.

[The Bro Code]There are certain rules a friend should abide by. In a recently concluded popular American television sitcom, such rules were humorously put together into a book called “The Bro Code.” The idea is that you’re not supposed to turn your back on a brother or sister. This certainly applies to the sibling by birth, but a good friend is like another sibling in a sense. The rules are necessary since it is generally easier for a friendship with a non-relative to break.

There are many rules to a friendship, but the common theme is basic etiquette. If I start complaining about my parents to my friend, my friend should be wise enough to know not to say anything negative about my parents. No matter how much I goad them, no matter how tempting it is, it is better for the friend to hold their tongue. This is because I wouldn’t like it if anyone else spoke ill of my family members.

The friend should be supportive of my choices. If I am temporarily gaining much joy from reading a book or watching a particular series on television, even if the friend doesn’t share the same preference they should not get in the way. They should not tell me that I am silly for liking the things that I do. If they are constantly arguing with me, why will I remain their friend?

[The tulasi plant]Krishna is the perfect friend in this regard. He goes one step further by offering friendly advice and friendly protection. For proof of the protection, we can look to His childhood pastimes in the ancient city of Vrindavana. There is a place on earth today known as Vrindavana. The Sanskrit name means “a forest where the tulasi plant is very prominent.” Vrinda Devi is the tulasi plant, and she is specifically known as the goddess of devotion. She is worshipable not for her medicinal properties, of which there are many, nor for her ability to grant any mundane reward. She gives devotion, which is the most important boon to seek. It would make sense, then, that the place where she is most prominent would become the most sacred land. It would also be the place where devotion flourishes, and for that to happen surely the Supreme Lord Krishna would appear there every now and then.

They say that Krishna never leaves Vrindavana. He may not be manifest to the eyes at the present moment, but He remains there through the devotion of the inhabitants. Some five thousand years ago, He was there in the manifest form, which is His original. He would play every day with the children in the neighborhood. He was everyone’s best friend. It’s not that some were jealous that Krishna got all the attention. Each person thought that the darling child of mother Yashoda was their supreme well-wisher.

Krishna sometimes allowed His friend to defeat Him in wrestling matches. Sometimes Krishna and His friend would poke fun at each other. Krishna generally did not lecture anyone there, but He gave His full protection. Whenever there was trouble, Krishna arrived to save the day. The boys knew that if Krishna was around, everything would be okay.

[Krishna with His friends]Later on during His manifest lila, Krishna gave wise advice to His good friend Arjuna on the battlefield. Arjuna sought this advice, and so temporarily Krishna left His position in friendship and took on the role of guru, or spiritual master. He is the adi-guru, or original spiritual teacher. Therefore this role was not new for Him. The words of wisdom He spoke to Arjuna were actually first heard by the sun-god at the beginning of the creation.

[Bhagavad-gita, 4.1]“The Blessed Lord said: I instructed this imperishable science of yoga to the sun-god, Vivasvan, and Vivasvan instructed it to Manu, the father of mankind, and Manu in turn instructed it to Ikshvaku.” (Lord Krishna, Bg. 4.1)

Since Krishna gave the same instructions many years prior, it means that He is always around. The individual is eternal as well, which means that in Krishna they get a best friend who stays forever. Krishna witnesses everything as Paramatma, or Supersoul. He knows all our strengths and weaknesses. He never uses that information against us. Rather, He is the best friend who maintains His affection for us no matter what we do. When the individual adopts the same attitude in earnest towards Krishna, they achieve perfection in life.

In Closing:

Krishna to be your friend the best,

Eternal, to stand time’s test.


If to another information you give,

Fear of their divulging then you’ll live.


Friendship thus to come with a code,

A favor done for you then something owed.


Krishna all your faults and blemishes to know,

No matter what, as well-wisher with you to go.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Mood of a Gopi

[gopis]“Let Krishna tightly embrace this maidservant, who has fallen at His lotus feet. Let Him trample Me or break My heart by never being visible to Me. He is a debauchee, after all, and can do whatever He likes, but He is still no one other than the worshipable Lord of My heart.” (Lord Chaitanya, Chaitanya Charitamrita, Antya 20.47)

Download this episode (right click and save)

[Chaitanya Charitamrita, Antya 20.47]Lord Chaitanya reveals the sentiments of the devotee immersed in the highest mood of devotional service, or bhakti-yoga.

Can there be different moods? Is there a higher or lower? If one person is connected with the Supreme Personality of Godhead in full consciousness, how can they be considered higher or lower than anyone else who is similarly connected?

Though any genuine relationship is worthwhile and makes one eligible for release from the cycle of birth and death, higher and lower come into play based on the level of intimacy. In the highest mood, one can even chastise God, for they have no fear of Him ever abandoning them.

A gopi is a cowherd girl. The word immediately brings to mind the famous gopis of Vrindavana, who roamed this earth some five thousand years ago, the same time that the son of Nanda Maharaja delighted the residents of Gokula with His childhood pastimes. Their lotus feet graced the sacred earth of Vrindavana at the same time that Yashoda’s son filled everyone’s hearts with pure love.

[Lord Krishna]According to Lord Chaitanya, the worship done by the gopis is the highest. To follow in their footsteps is to make the most of the human form of life.

What other paths are there? What other footsteps are there to follow?

First there is the path of the materialist. In this mentality, the individual seeks happiness apart from a relationship to God. This mentality is an illusion in itself, since there can never be any separation. The Lord is the creator of this and many other worlds. He is the source of both the material and spiritual worlds, as He states in the Bhagavad-gita.

[Bhagavad-gita, 10.8]“I am the source of all spiritual and material worlds. Everything emanates from Me. The wise who know this perfectly engage in My devotional service and worship Me with all their hearts.” (Lord Krishna, Bg. 10.8)

[Krishna speaking to Arjuna]Under illusion, or maya, the conditioned living entity thinks that God is not around them. They think that they can become the supreme controller, that the spot is vacant, ready to be filled by anyone who meets the qualifications. To be qualified means to have the greatest enjoyment. To enjoy the most means to have the most wealth, beauty, strength, fame, wisdom and renunciation. Each category has endless nuance, so it is not surprising that the pursuit for the illusory post of top enjoyer can go on for a long time, spanning many births and deaths.

The path of the spiritualist is to have enjoyment through God’s sanction. Though away from the side of illusion, in this mentality there are a variety of paths available. One is called worship in neutrality, or shanta-rasa. This can entail worship of the impersonal spiritual energy known as Brahman. When you worship Brahman, you don’t really know God too well. You appreciate His spiritual energy, how it is superior to the inferior, material nature.

[Radha Krishna deities]Even if you know of the existence of the Personality of Godhead, you can still be in shanta-rasa. Think of visiting the temple and offering respect to the deity. In this mood, you are too afraid to say anything negative about God, even if it’s just in fun. You are careful to avoid any offenses. You treat the Lord as you would an exalted head of state.

The mood of the gopis is different. They love the Supreme Lord so much that they don’t consider Him to be very supreme. Rather, He is their best friend, for whom they hold so much affection. They are not afraid to offend Him since they know that their lives are surrendered to Him. They know that they can never not be conscious of Him, thus they don’t fear His rebuke.

The gopis are unique in that they don’t ask anything from Krishna, which is the preferred name for those who know the transcendental features belonging to the all-attractive Lord. Whether Krishna is with them or separated, whether He grants them everything desirable or completely ignores them, the gopis will still love Him. Constitutionally, they cannot worship anyone else. They are helpless in this sense, though in fact they are the most loved by Krishna. He cannot repay their affection. In the relationship to them, He is the one who is helpless. The gopis are on such a high level of devotion that they turn the all-powerful weak in one area.

The mood of the gopis is not to be imitated artificially. Therefore Lord Chaitanya, the preacher incarnation of the Supreme Lord Krishna, never openly discussed the gopis and their dealings with Krishna. He taught that one must first develop an attachment to God. That attachment seems easy to get in theory, but in practice it is very difficult. Incumbent upon the spiritualist is the attitude of surrender, which requires abandoning the attitude in illusion of trying to enjoy separate from God.

[The gopis with Krishna]The attachment develops through following the principles of yoga. In this age of Kali hardly anyone can follow all the rules and regulations. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, knowing the glories of Krishna and how His mercy is the only remedy for the conditioned living entity diseased by material attachment, mercifully gave everyone the safest and most effective path towards transcendence. Whether one follows the principles or not, whether they have a desire to enjoy materially or not, or whether they believe in God or not, if they simply chant the holy names on a regular basis, with some sincerity, they will be saved. Through regularly reciting, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare,” they can ascend the various mellows of bhakti-yoga, developing and maintaining love for the most loveable Krishna.

In Closing:

Though Krishna of loving nature clear,

In lower moods of bhakti to exist fear.


Afraid for chastisement to give,

Rather with regulated worship to live.


Gopis of Vrindavana on a level higher,

To say anything, knowing love never to tire.


Chaitanya Mahaprabhu following in their mood,

Same opportunity by path of holy name imbued.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Taking Your Mind With You

[Govinda]“My Lord Govinda, because of separation from You, I consider even a moment a great millennium. Tears flow from My eyes like torrents of rain, and I see the entire world as void.” (Lord Chaitanya, Chaitanya Charitamrita, Antya 20.39)

Download this episode (right click and save)

yugāyitaṁ nimeṣeṇa

cakṣuṣā prāvṛṣāyitam

śūnyāyitaṁ jagat sarvaṁ

govinda-viraheṇa me

Living in the material world means succumbing to the dualities that arise from desire and hate. Like being stuck on a pendulum that constantly swings back and forth, the living entity one second thinks that happiness will come from wanting something and the next they think removing that previously desired object is what will give them peace. The truth, however, is that the mind stays with us wherever we go, even if we travel to a destination with completely new surroundings. As Lord Chaitanya points out, this entire world is like a void when the association of the Supreme Lord Govinda is missing.

Imagine this situation. You’ve lived your whole life in one area. You know pretty much all of the neighbors. On an innocent trip to the supermarket to pick up milk you are bound to run into people you know. They fill you in on the latest. “Did you hear about such and such? They got married and didn’t tell anyone. Did you see what that person did the other day?” To be polite, you volunteer some information yourself. In this way there are no secrets.

After a traumatic experience from a broken relationship, you decide that you’ve had enough. You need a change of scenery. You look at the map of your particular country and pick out a new destination. “I will start my life over from there,” you tell yourself. You quit your job, find a new apartment and pack up all of your belongings. On to bigger and better things, but one thing accompanies you that will keep you from achieving peace: the mind.

It is the mind which desires things and it is the mind which then develops hatred. Hate is a strong word, but dislike is appropriate in this context as well. Think of those things which you don’t like. Think of the places you try to avoid. Juxtaposing those with the things that you do prefer, you get the dualities mentioned by Shri Krishna in the Bhagavad-gita. All of us are born into delusion at first. We get bewildered by these dualities. No matter where we turn, desire and hate will come up. Even if we move into completely new surroundings, with new people and everything, the same problems are sure to arise again. After all, the previous setting was once new. The people from whom we are running away were once strangers to us.

[Lord Chaitanya]Lord Chaitanya says that this entire world is like a void. There is no substance to it. He speaks the truth. The person you once loved can become your bitter enemy. You can try everything in your power to prevent that from happening, but as they are an independent spirit, free to think as they please, they have every right to turn away from you. Thus the thing you relied on most for your happiness could vanish in a second. Happiness from such interactions is not real, and this is the only kind of happiness available in the material world.

Govinda’s association fixes the situation. He is the lone reality. He removes the void. He is permanent. He is always the best friend. A secret known to the bhaktas on the highest platform of consciousness is that God is not allowed to separate from those who desire only His association. Though He is the supreme powerful, He comes under the sway of those who love Him.

[Govinda]Anyone can desire to have His association, which means that anyone can escape the void and enter the reality. The name itself is capable of bringing that association. If you constantly say the name “Govinda” then you are with Govinda. If you feel lonely, if you feel as if the void is sucking you back into its trap, simply say “Govinda” again. If the concentration is not there, find a situation where it will be. Remove the obstacles in your way of saying “Govinda.”

The mission of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is to give all the fallen souls a chance at this association. The grass is greener on the other side when that other side is devotional service. It brings a kind of happiness previously thought impossible. Real happiness is prema, or pure love, for God. Govinda is one such name for Him, and “Krishna” is another. “Rama” too addresses Him, and “Hare” calls out to His perfect energy. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is a combined incarnation of Hare and Krishna, and so it is no wonder that He always chants the holy names in the maha-mantra: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

śarīraṁ yad avāpnoti

yac cāpy utkrāmatīśvaraḥ

gṛhītvaitāni saṁyāti

vāyur gandhān ivāśayāt

“The living entity in the material world carries his different conceptions of life from one body to another as the air carries aromas.” (Lord Krishna, Bg. 15.8)

[Lord Krishna]Just as the mind comes with you when you move in this present life, the consciousness as a whole travels with you at the time of death. It goes on to the next body, traveling like the aromas through the air. The negative side to this is that if you are presently very sinful and constantly have unclean thoughts, your next destination will be fit for that thinking. The positive is that if you sincerely desire the association of Govinda, the Supreme Lord who gives pleasure to the cows and to the senses, then He will be with you in the next life. He will illuminate the darkness and give meaning to the otherwise void existence.

In Closing:

With present surroundings can’t cope,

A change of scenery renewing hope.


But again the unhappiness to find,

Since to come with you the mind.


Better if attached to Govinda sound,

In reality everything to turn around.


If you desire Him Govinda you will get,

His company there even after death.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Lone Reality

[Govinda]“My Lord Govinda, because of separation from You, I consider even a moment a great millennium. Tears flow from My eyes like torrents of rain, and I see the entire world as void.” (Lord Chaitanya, Chaitanya Charitamrita, Antya 20.39)

Download this episode (right click and save)

[Chaitanya Charitamrita, Antya 20.39]Imagine this situation. You wake up suddenly. You don’t know where you are or what time it is. You look at your surroundings to try to decipher what is going on. Slowly some things start to come back to you. Then you wonder, “Am I really in this position? Did yesterday really happen? Or was it all a dream, something conjured up in my mind?” Some philosophers take this single instance and extrapolate it out for the entire lifetime. Due to the temporary nature of things, they seem to be on the right track with this dream versus reality comparison. Lord Chaitanya puts everything into the proper perspective, explaining that all experiences indeed do seem like a void without the association of the master of reality.

How is this life like a dream? Well, do you remember your infancy? Do you remember emerging from the womb of your mother and seeing everyone for the first time? Most likely you don’t. From the testimony of others who were there, you know that these events most certainly did happen. And yet you have no recollection of them. Therefore it was like a dream. You saw it for one second and then it went away.

We don’t realize it, but everything around us at the present moment will go away as well. We won’t be able to remember this precise moment perfectly, either. Though we may be experiencing pain, discomfort and stress today, many years from now we could look back on this time fondly. “Oh, that was a great time in my life. I wish I could go back. But I can’t. Now I’m all alone, without my friends and family around. It’s funny how life works.”

mām upetya punar janma
duḥkhālayam aśāśvatam
nāpnuvanti mahātmānaḥ
saṁsiddhiṁ paramāṁ gatāḥ

“After attaining Me, the great souls, who are yogis in devotion, never return to this temporary world, which is full of miseries, because they have attained the highest perfection.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 8.15)

[changing bodies]Life in this world is duhkhalayam and ashashvatam. It is miserable and temporary. Nothing stays forever. One second we are a young child and the next we are an adult. One second we are happy and the next sad. One second we have it all and the next we are longing for so many things. Our journey through life is real; so we can’t say that nothing has happened to us. But since everything vanishes eventually, the experience is also like a dream.

There is one reality, however. His presence puts everything into the proper perspective. The experience through life turns pleasurable and permanent when He is included. Not surprisingly, this person is God.

If He is God, how is He not automatically included? How can God be absent from any area?

The required association is through consciousness. Think of lamenting over the fact that you can’t purchase something important when you actually have enough money sitting in your pocket. Think of being extremely hungry and not realizing that you have so much food in the refrigerator in the kitchen.

[Govinda]Lord Chaitanya says that separation from Govinda makes the world seem like a void. Govinda is one of thousands of names for God. It speaks to how the Supreme Lord gives pleasure to the senses and to the cows. The senses are part of the temporary body. They are like the instruments to measure the effects of the external world. The senses can never be satisfied in the dreamlike existence. Once something pleasurable is tasted, the same is desired again. When it is not available at that precise moment, there is misery. Hence sense interaction with the external world automatically brings misery.

Govinda gives pleasure to the senses because He is fixed. He is permanent, unlike the external world. He is the reality that stays past the dream. This life will be over, that is a fact. As soon as there is birth, there must be death. Govinda Himself teaches this in the Bhagavad-gita, where He is more famously known as Shri Krishna, the all-attractive Supreme Personality of Godhead.

jātasya hi dhruvo mṛtyur

dhruvaṁ janma mṛtasya ca

tasmād aparihārye 'rthe

na tvaṁ śocitum arhasi


“For one who has taken his birth, death is certain; and for one who is dead, birth is certain. Therefore, in the unavoidable discharge of your duty, you should not lament.” (Lord Krishna, Bg. 2.27)

The individual actually stays through the dream as well. This individual is also real. This is true because the individual is spirit. Govinda is the Supreme Spirit, and so both are the only reality maintained through an otherwise dreamlike experience. It makes sense that the two realities should remain in each other’s association. The lack of the relationship is not due to Govinda. He is always standing by, resting within the heart, ready to give shelter to the soul bewildered by the temporary and miserable material world.

sarvasya cāhaṁ hṛdi sanniviṣṭo

mattaḥ smṛtir jñānam apohanaṁ ca

vedaiś ca sarvair aham eva vedyo

vedānta-kṛd veda-vid eva cāham

“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, Bg. 15.15)

[Lord Krishna]The souls who do not consider the world to be void have yet to feel devotional ecstasy. The souls who think everything is void are also missing out. They don’t know that there is a reality, a person from whom everything has come. His association is most desired, and Lord Chaitanya shows everyone how to get it. It comes in this age most easily through the chanting of the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

That association solves all problems. It reminds the sleeping living entity of who they are, why they are here, and where they should go next. It wakes them up from the dream, revealing to them the true reality. Simply longing for Govinda’s association is enough to get it, turning the void-like world into a field of endless opportunity for devotional service, the eternal occupation for the soul.

In Closing:

Here today and tomorrow gone away,

Nonpermanent, nothing to stay.


Existence something like a dream,

Is anything real that is to be seen?


Chaitanya says that Krishna is the one,

Lone reality in world of happiness none.


Through chanting His names Divine presence see,

And with vision of reality in service happily be.

Monday, August 25, 2014

A Protector of His Own People

[Lord Rama]“That chastiser of the foe is a protector of His good conduct and of His people. He is also a protector of all living entities and of righteousness.” (Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 31.7)

rakṣitā svasya vṛttasya sva janasya api rakṣitā |
rakṣitā jīva lokasya dharmasya ca paran tapaḥ ||

Download this episode (right click and save)

The leader is supposed to protect those underneath them. Those who are dependent take solace and comfort in knowing that there is someone there to look over them. In the nation the leader protects with an army, in a business with oversight of the affairs of the employees, and in a family with the guiding hand over the children. The Supreme Lord is the father of mankind, so naturally He is the best protector. In this instance, Shri Hanuman describes God to be the protector of His own people. This is significant in that by becoming one of His people, a soul gets the best protection there is.

How do you become one of God’s people? Do you have to join a specific group? Do you have to wear a certain dress? Do you have to be born into a certain family?

[Lord Rama]In this instance the people took birth in a sacred land, the same place where Rama also appeared. Rama is the Supreme Lord in a factual incarnation. He is not a myth, as the less intelligent would have you believe. He is not a rare manifestation of the impersonal Brahman, to which we all belong. He is a unique individual, a separate personality who is non-different from the Supreme Lord Himself.

Even though Rama protected the people born in His town of Ayodhya, He did not limit His protection to them. He gave the same protection to the boatman Kevata. He offered the same to the female ascetic Shabari. Indeed, the speaker here, Shri Hanuman, also came under Rama’s protection. It was through Rama’s will that Hanuman bravely crossed over the ocean, penetrated the enemy city of Lanka, and found Sita, Rama’s wife, to whom the above referenced words are directed.

[USA flag]To get Rama’s protection is not very difficult. The lone qualification is desire. If you want it, you’ll get it. Of course reaching the point where you sincerely want it is very difficult. In a challenging spirit, every living entity thinks they can protect themselves. They can find their own happiness through the sweat of their brow, along the difficult journey through life. If they can’t get protection this way, they’ll create many false gods, like government leaders and wealthy philanthropists. They’ll take protection from the impersonal conception of the nation. They will pledge allegiance to the flag, which is merely a symbol of the collection of neighborhoods and communities, which are made up of ordinary people.

[Bhagavad-gita, 7.19]“After many births and deaths, he who is actually in knowledge surrenders unto Me, knowing Me to be the cause of all causes and all that is. Such a great soul is very rare.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.19)

After many births, one finally tries to have a desire to take protection from the Supreme Lord. The endeavor to maintain that desire is known as yoga, and such a yoga is difficult to practice with sincerity. The implementation may not seem too difficult. You just have to love. How hard is it to have affection for someone? How hard is it to constantly show that affection? With God the affection does not bring immediate satisfaction to the senses; therefore the feeling is a little different. The soul gets satisfaction, and sometimes not right away.

But the reward is worth the effort, as seen through Rama’s abilities. He is the protector of His people; which means that the citizens of Ayodhya were always safe during His time on earth. Sita too would be safe, though at this moment she is in a very dangerous situation. Rama’s protection here comes in the form of His messenger Hanuman. Hanuman’s words describe Rama, so the Supreme Lord practically manifest right before Sita. Her protector for life arrived on the scene through the words describing Him.

[Sita and Rama]And so the same words give protection to those who want to be part of Rama’s family of dependents. In the Vedic tradition we learn that there are varying degrees of heavenly life. The material heavenly planets only manifest temporarily; one does not get to stay there forever. Such planets are reserved for those who lack the desire to get God’s protection, but who still behave piously.

The spiritual heavenly planets are different. There God directly protects His people. Danger is absent, and so are miseries; hence the realm is known as Vaikuntha. This is not totally the way that God protects. More significant is that He makes sure that there is always an opportunity for service, which is the best way to show affection. In the highest planet in Vaikuntha, Goloka Vrindavana, Rama in His original form of Krishna protects by giving everyone the chance to serve in their desired way. Everyone only loves Krishna there, so they are all under His protection.

The wise souls accept these descriptions of the spiritual realm and try their best to reach there for the next lifetime. Indeed, Rama’s protection is so powerful that the same environment can be created here, during this temporary stay in the material world. Replicas of the spiritual world are found wherever the glories of the Lord are sung, wherever the people take full protection from Rama through sounding His holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

In Closing:

In spiritual life never alone,

God to protect people His own.


To get that protection how,

Wait for afterlife or receive it now?


Desire the factor determining,

For sense pleasure or the Lord’s company yearning.


Chant holy names and from Rama protection take,

And spiritual land even in this life make.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Peer Pressure

[Rama's lotus feet]“That chastiser of the foe is a protector of His good conduct and of His people. He is also a protector of all living entities and of righteousness.” (Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 31.7)

rakṣitā svasya vṛttasya sva janasya api rakṣitā |
rakṣitā jīva lokasya dharmasya ca param tapaḥ ||

Download this episode (right click and save)

“I was hanging out with the wrong crowd at that time,” is what someone who has decided to renounce bad association will say. This means that any person, regardless of their specific desire, in finding the optimal circumstances for success will make distinctions as far as association goes. This should make sense. If I want to get good grades, it would help me to be around others who have the same goal. It’s not that people with a different goal want to purposefully get in my way, but based on what they want they will try to persuade me in a certain direction. Their behavior alone is a subtle kind of persuasion. Therefore the wise person tries to protect their good conduct, with “good” being relative to the circumstance. The same holds true for the Supreme Lord Rama. But since He is God, He can maintain His goodness no matter the circumstance.

You’ve likely seen the public service announcements relating to peer pressure. The typical spot goes something like this. There is a kid at school. He doesn’t want to take drugs. He has no interest in them. In fact, it is his philosophy to not get intoxicated in such a way, especially if the activity is prohibited by higher authorities. Then he finds himself in a situation where others are engaging in that activity. They ask him if he wants to join and he declines. Then they press him as to why he’s resisting. Finally, they throw in the line, “Hey, everyone else is doing it. What’s the big deal?”

Another common public service announcement deals with learning bad habits from the parents. A mother enters the room of her daughter and admonishes her for smoking. The mother has just found a pack of cigarettes in the daughter’s room. She can’t understand why her daughter would take up such a nasty habit. She starts pressing the daughter, “Where did you pick this up? Who got you into smoking?” After remaining quiet the whole time, the daughter finally bursts out, “I learned it by watching you.”

Not surprisingly, to succeed in devotional life you need good conduct. More than who your parents are or which church you go to, success in this venture relies on consciousness. The way your mind thinks cannot be determined by a rubberstamp of a religious figure. The mind cannot be configured automatically by the parents, either. The mind is a part of the subtle body, which belongs to the individual soul. The soul is independent in its choice of actions. With independence, consciousness can go in any direction.

Good conduct helps to get good consciousness. This only makes sense. If you perform some austerities, your mind will be cleared up for understanding the Supreme Personality of Godhead. If you give charity, you understand how the possessions that you have are temporary and that you shouldn’t have such a strong attachment to them. If you are kind to people, you understand that they are just like you, struggling through this difficult journey called life. If you uphold righteous principles, you understand that there is a higher reward, that not everything good manifests immediately.

For the soul sincerely interested in the science of self-realization, it is strongly recommended to renounce bad association. What is the “bad” in this regard? Any association which is against the devotional culture, which goes against the goal of self-realization. The self is what lives inside the temporary body. It is transcendental to matter. In ignorance, one tries to satisfy the matter covering the soul instead of looking to please the soul. Therefore the transcendentalist should avoid intimate association with those having a deluded consciousness, into which everyone is initially born.

[Bhagavad-gita, 7.27]“O scion of Bharata [Arjuna], O conqueror of the foe, all living entities are born into delusion, overcome by the dualities of desire and hate.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.27)

[Lord Rama]Despite how strong you may be, prolonged interaction with people of different interests will likely lead you over to their side. You can only protect your good conduct so much. Here Shri Hanuman says that Rama is a protector of His good conduct. For starters, it should be known that Rama has the best conduct. He is the Supreme Lord in a special incarnation which appeared on earth during the Treta Yuga, the second time period of creation.

As He appeared in a famous family of rulers in Ayodhya, Rama paid special attention to dharma, or righteousness. Hanuman says that Rama is also a protector of dharma. Religiosity applies to everyone, but good conduct is at the personal level. Rama made sure to keep the best conduct in order to set the best example of religiosity.

Does this mean that He never had bad association? In fact, He was exposed to the wickedest creatures one could imagine. These ogres regularly attacked innocent sages living in the remote wilderness. They gave no prior notification of their attacks, and they would often mask their shapes initially. Sort of like wearing civilian clothes when fighting in a war, these goons had no shame in their conduct.

Rama was not affected. In fact, His swiftly coursing arrows purified these souls. In losing your life directly at the hands of God, you think of Him at the time of death. This is the best consciousness to have at any time, but while quitting the body it becomes even more important. That consciousness then determines the next birth.

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

That Rama is the protector of His good conduct can be shown in another way. In His plenary expansion as the Supersoul, He resides within everyone’s heart. This means that each living entity has God inside of them. At the same time, the Supersoul is not an accomplice to any of the bad behavior. The living entity makes the choice to act, and the Supersoul sanctions. Anything is possible in a land of duality, and the Supersoul does not interfere with desire. Rama is therefore automatically associated with so many bad fellows, and yet He remains pure throughout. His conduct never suffers.

[Lord Rama]This is another way to understand the nirguna property of God. Guna is a quality, and nirguna means “without qualities.” In the context of understanding God, it means that the Lord is free of material qualities. As Hanuman’s description shows, Rama is indeed full of qualities; they are just of a different kind. Rama’s protection of His good conduct is not like any other we’ve ever encountered. He maintains His high standing in any circumstance, and that trait is passed on to those who hold Him very dear, like Hanuman and Sita.

In Closing:

Righteous principles by Him understood,

Rama also to protect His conduct good.


If with wrong crowd to associate,

In their world eventually to assimilate.


But Rama by any not affected,

That bad by Him always rejected.


Like as in each person Supersoul He lives,

Guides choices not, only sanction He gives.