Saturday, September 27, 2014

Knowing Only What You’ve Heard

[Prabhupada books]“One must give aural reception to any knowledge one wants to receive, either material or spiritual. Therefore shrotram is very important. The Vedic knowledge is called shruti; knowledge has to be received by hearing. By hearing only can we have access to either material or spiritual enjoyment.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 3.26.32 Purport)

Download this episode (right click and save)

If we’re not witness to a certain event, we can only rely on the testimony of others to know about it. What they see they will hopefully remember. Then that memory will be shared with us in the form of words. Basically, we hear about the event. Thus we know only what we’ve heard. If the information is wrong, incomplete, or not relevant to our circumstances, what we hear isn’t worthwhile. But if the information is of the most value, then hearing becomes very worthwhile. And so it is not surprising that in the Vedic tradition so much stress is given to hearing.

Imagine this situation. You’re at the supermarket picking up food for the week. You’ve got your checklist that you’re running through. You’ve picked up the tomatoes, potatoes, flour, sugar, and bottled water. There’s one item left: milk. You head over to the dairy aisle and to your surprise you run into someone you know. You haven’t see them for a while. In fact, it’s probably been years. They barely have any hair on their head and they are much skinnier than before.

But this doesn’t surprise you since you heard that they were sick. You heard from others that they were not well. So when you approach this person you mention their health. You say that you hope that they are doing better. At this they return a puzzled look. “What do you mean ‘better’? I’m fine. Who told you I was sick?” Not wanting to out anyone, you bring up how from the smooth head you assumed there were problems. Then this person tells you that they merely cut their hair short for the summer. They’ve also been exercising a lot, so that’s why they look much thinner. In this situation there was nothing you could do, since you only went by what you heard. If you had heard properly, from an authority source, such as the person itself, you would have known better.

We hear many things that aren’t completely accurate. We hear that the aim of life is to enjoy as much as possible, with that enjoyment involving eating, sleeping, mating and defending. We hear that there is no God and that the people who claim there is one are crazy. We hear that if you don’t support the killing of an innocent child in the womb you are an extremist. We hear that if you don’t believe innocent animals should be killed for food then you are a hippie, someone into new age things. We hear that if you try any sort of renunciation for self-realization then you are needlessly punishing yourself.

If we change the source, if we hear from the speaker of the Bhagavad-gita and the people who represent Him, then we get on the right course. From that hearing we learn that we are spirit soul. This is very important to know. No one else has told us this so far. Even those who claimed to be religious never mentioned the difference between matter and spirit. They never told us that we are not our body. They never mentioned that there is a spiritual equality shared between all the species, from low to high. From the ant all the way up to the elephant, the animating force within is identical in constitutional makeup.

avyakto 'yam acintyo 'yam
avikāryo 'yam ucyate
tasmād evaṁ viditvainaṁ
nānuśocitum arhasi

“It is said that the soul is invisible, inconceivable, immutable, and unchangeable. Knowing this, you should not grieve for the body.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.25)

From hearing from the speaker of the Bhagavad-gita, we learn that the coverings to spirit point action in various directions. One type of covering is geared for manual labor, one for business and industry, and another for offering protection through the exercise of strength. One type of covering is meant for studying the difference between matter and spirit, for knowing what the different coverings are. Yet despite the variety in coverings, the ultimate purpose is uniform: realizing God.

He is the Supreme Spirit, which means that He is not the property of any one religion. That we are spirit means that everyone, regardless of where they live or what language they speak, is animated by the same thing. The Supreme Spirit has the same relationship to all individual spirits. Thus the goal of life is the same for everyone.

[Krishna's lotus feet]And how do we achieve that goal? Again, the answer comes to us from hearing. Surrender to that spirit. Surrender here means relinquishing the fight to surpass. It means no longer competing with God; instead cooperating with Him. It means thinking of Him all the time, serving Him, offering all work as a sacrifice to Him, and remembering Him especially at the time of death. Surrender means helping those who want to increase the distribution of hearing. Just as a good newspaper will want to increase its circulation to help get their message out, the supporter of the speaker of the Bhagavad-gita knows that broadcasting the message of the Divine is the only way to correct all the past mistakes made from hearing from the wrong sources.

Their most valuable tool in increasing the distribution is the holy name itself, which carries all the potency of the Supreme Spirit. Put together in a wonderful sequence of words known as the maha-mantra, that name gives meaning to the power of hearing: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

In Closing:

Of impending death to fear,

When from wrong source you hear.


Aim of life not to know,

In wrong directions to go.


To right authority source shift,

And immediately your spirits lift.


Chant holy names with feeling,

And to power of hearing give meaning.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Director Of All Years

[Lord Krishna]“Material energy has the power to cover knowledge, but this covering cannot be applied to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. It is applicable only to the prajah, or those who are born with material bodies, the conditioned souls.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 3.26.5 Purport)

Download this episode (right click and save)

The Supreme Personality of Godhead can trick us. If He has the power to create, maintain and destroy, why shouldn’t He be able to do something as simple as make us take something for what it really isn’t? The good director of a blockbuster film makes us so forgetful that we think that the plot is taking place in real life. We forget that we’re watching a movie, as our emotions go up and down. The Supreme Lord repeats such a feat year after year, and He does it through one of His energies.

Consider this situation. You and a friend are at a party. At one point you’re sitting at a table having some food and drink. Afraid of the silence continuing, you strike up a conversation about the latest television shows you’ve been watching. Then your friend does the same. Pretty soon others join you at the table and offer their own opinions. Now you’re running through so many different shows, reviewing the good and bad points. One person likes the acting. Another likes the directing. One person loves the special effects, where staged explosions are made to look real. Another person likes the violence, the fight scenes.

So this is evidence of the illusion that is around us. In this case, there is a desire to be fooled. The illusion is intentional on both sides, from the content creator and the consumer. Interestingly, the entire world is covered in illusion. This is due to the material energy, which emanates from the Supreme Lord.

What is material energy? How is it different from other energies?

[dress shirts]In the most basic understanding, material energy is the covering to spirit. Think of the shirts hanging in your closet. They are coverings. They can’t put themselves on. They don’t button themselves. If you lose a button, you have to sew it back on. The shirt doesn’t maintain itself. It doesn’t do anything in fact. You have to put it on in the morning and take it off at night.

Take the same concept and apply it to all life forms that you see. From the tiny ant all the way up to the leader of the nation. Each is wearing some kind of covering. That is the material energy. Breaking things down further, the energy comes in three modes: goodness, passion and ignorance. These are like three different colors; distinctions, if you will. The three modes can be combined in so many different proportions, and so you get the many different species.

Material nature covers spirit, which is inherently knowledgeable. As individuals, spirit is aware of the true identity. In simpler terms, I do know who I am. I am spirit soul, and I can see the difference between matter and spirit. However, when material energy covers me, I’m not able to see this. I’m put into illusion. Depending on the makeup of that covering, I may be able to see more or less of my true identity.

In the species of the human being, I have the best chance to see, to bring to light my actual knowledge. Material energy, which covers knowledge, is not a torture machine. It isn’t an energy which unfairly punishes. In fact, it acts at our desire. Just as we intentionally get fooled into forming attachments to plotlines in books and films, we at one point wanted to be forgetful of our true identity as spirit. We wanted to compete with the Supreme Spirit, and in order for that to happen we had to forget both our position and His. He is superior and we are inferior. He is the leader and we are faithful subordinates. When we are not faithful, it means we want to be covered in illusion.

[Shrila Prabhupada]Just in hearing about material energy in this way makes us very fortunate. Someone is giving us a way out. Someone is letting us know that these outcomes we invest so much emotion in are not real. They come and go. They are scripted through the laws of karma, or action and reaction. The person passing on this knowledge is a whistleblower who wants to save us from further harm. Knowledge of our true identity helps us to regain our eternal occupation, devotional service. This is bhakti-yoga, and it is not sectarian. Any person, of any religion, can follow it. In fact, everyone has to follow it in order to remain out of illusion.

As the best director of the grandest play acted out year after year, the Supreme Lord’s knowledge never gets covered. He is the master of the material energy; it acts at His direction. When the individual desires to get past the illusion, the master removes the veil. Once recovered, armed with our knowledge we take up devotion, looking at the personal form of God day after day and wondering how we can continue to serve Him better. We feel so indebted to those who told us of our true identity and we promise to blow the whistle for as many other fallen souls as we can. We do all of this by regularly chanting the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

In Closing:

That latest movie did you see?

Greatest of endings possibly to be.


Acting talent on stage shown,

That accent in real life never known.


Taking intentional illusion the same,

Applying to creation, of maya the name.


When real knowledge to recover,

Supreme Lord’s greatness to discover.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Talking About That Person

[Lord Krishna]“If we examine all persons, we will find that everyone has a beginning, but when we approach a person who has no beginning, He is the Supreme Person. That is the definition given in the Brahma-samhita. Ishvarah paramah krishnah: [Bs. 5.1] the Supreme Personality of Godhead is Krishna, the supreme controller; He is without beginning, and He is the beginning of everyone. This definition is found in all Vedic literatures.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 3.26.3 Purport)

Download this episode (right click and save)

Girish: I like your philosophy, don’t get me wrong. It sounds interesting, for sure. I am more interested in it than the blinding fanaticism I see elsewhere. I like that there is some logic behind everything, that I’m not being threatened with eternal damnation at the outset. That being said, I’m having trouble with the devotional aspect.

Shankar: What do you mean?

Girish: Specifically the worship of Krishna.

Shankar: Yes, He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

Girish: Okay, that’s fine, but don’t you think that perhaps the devotion is a means to a higher end?

Shankar: Such as what?

Girish: Such as full oneness in transcendence, complete enlightenment.

Shankar: So basically, liberation.

Girish: Exactly. Isn’t the worship of Krishna just one way to get liberation?

[Lord Krishna]Shankar: Sure, but what do you think happens after liberation? Do you think that everything just stops? What are you supposed to do when you have no more hankering or lamenting? How are you supposed to act when you see the spiritual equality of all beings? What is the next step when you are free from anger, hatred and envy?

Girish: Why does there have to be a next step? Those things that you described are fine as it is.

Shankar: With a perpetual existence, there must be a next step. There is always a future for something that exists forever. As of right now liberation is a future goal. Once that future arrives, which is by no means guaranteed, there needs to be a future after that.

Girish: But why Krishna? Why can’t I just worship God? Why do I have to see Him as a young bluish boy who holds a flute? Don’t get me wrong, I think He is very attractive. I could sit for hours and hours looking at His beautiful form. I never get tired of hearing about His childhood pastimes in Vrindavana.

Shankar: Which one is your favorite?

Girish: Probably the time He gave butter to the monkeys. That always makes me laugh. That would drive any parent nuts I would think. It’s like taking something you worked so hard for and giving it away to someone who may not appreciate it so much. And yet Krishna knows that even the monkeys are His friends, so He is more than happy to do this.

[Krishna with monkeys]Shankar: Yes. So why not continue thinking of Krishna all the time?

Girish: Well, I know that others may not be so open in the beginning. They will think that Krishna is a Hindu God. You know, the idea of “I have my religion and you have yours. Don’t bother me. We’re all the same.” Don’t you worry that speaking so much about Krishna will give others the wrong idea?

Shankar: What idea is that? That worship of Him is very important? That He is the most magnanimous, the most merciful and the kindest person to all souls?

Girish: He is those things, but you know sometimes people say bad things about Him at the outset when they don’t know Him very well. They’ll take this pastime out of context or they’ll present this teaching in the wrong light. Wouldn’t it be better to make it more generic, like speaking about God only?

Shankar: You can surely do that. Krishna facilitates this, in fact. If you read the Bhagavad-gita, which is nothing more than Krishna’s direct words, teachings which He considers to be most important, you can understand Him in vague terms. He allows you to understand Him in any way you choose.

Girish: What do you mean?

Shankar: Well, if you think that invoking the name “Krishna” will raise questions in others, you can refer to the same person by saying “the cause of all causes.” Like basic substitution, we could say that the Bhagavad-gita is spoken by the person who has no beginning.

Girish: I see.

Shankar: Even when discussing matters with those who think that the universe originated from a big chunk, we can tell them that we simply worship someone who came before the chunk. There was obviously something before that; that is our experience now. If you’re saying the chunk came out of nowhere, then you’re saying the chunk is God. We’re saying that the beginning of all beginnings is the person whom we worship. Where we part ways is that we know He is a personality. We take this off of faith, just as you expect others to accept your speculations about the origin of the universe on faith.

Girish: So if you know of God only as the person without a beginning, are you missing something?

Shankar: Well, you’re missing out on knowing Him. You will only know of Him as anadi, or without beginning. He is also sarva karana-karanam, or the cause of all causes. He is also parameshvara, or the supreme controller. He is adi-purusha, or the original person. So these are better ways to know Him, and I think they alleviate the concerns you have of people being put off by mention of Krishna directly.

Girish: I think so. That way they’ll be more open to accepting the philosophy of reincarnation, the three modes of material nature, the cycle of the creation and destruction, and the importance of consciousness at the time of death.

[Krishna with mother Yashoda]Shankar: Yes, so Krishna allows for endless ways for describing Him. You should bear in mind that the degree to which you know Krishna directly correlates to your level of happiness in spiritual life. If you know Him only as the person without a beginning, your happiness will be limited. You are more susceptible to falling back into the trap of illusion, where you accept this present body as everything and sense gratification as the vehicle for lasting satisfaction. If you know Him as the son of mother Yashoda and the darling of Vrindavana, you’re more likely to stay attached to Him, and thus enjoy with Him in the afterlife.

Girish: Yeah, that makes sense. I guess Krishna is a good name for Him, as He really is all-attractive.

In Closing:

Afraid of Krishna to others to tell,

For wrong idea when not knowing Him well.


Still to explain other ways exist,

So that descriptions of Him to persist.


The origin of everything way one,

And also person having an end none.


The more of Krishna that you know,

The more pleasure in liberation so.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Finding Your Career

[Vishnu's lotus feet]“Anyone who does not follow the surrendering process but is simply interested in an academic career cannot make any advancement. His profit is only his labor for nothing. If one is expert in the study of the Vedas but does not surrender to a spiritual master or Vishnu, all his cultivation of knowledge is but a waste of time and labor.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Chaitanya Charitamrita, Adi 17.257 Purport)

Download this episode (right click and save)

In industrialized nations, the prime focus for the child maturing through the traditional education system is finding a career path. What are they most passionate about? In which area of interest do they derive the most joy? “What do you want to do when you grow up?” is the typical question asked of the young student. Bhakti-yoga, being the constitutional occupation of the spirit soul, not surprisingly gives the best career path. It allows for a blissful engagement during any stage of life. And since bhakti-yoga is ahaituki and apratihata, its exercise is not dependent on outside factors like net worth or personal ability.

Ahaituki means causeless or without motivation. Apratihata is without interruption. We do everything with a motive in mind. We study hard in school in order to earn a good grade. Good grades help us to reach the next destination, either graduation or entry into a higher learning establishment. Then we go to work in order to earn a paycheck. When the desired object is achieved, there is interruption. We stop playing in the tournament once we win. If we’re the champion, there isn’t a match tomorrow. We will have to wait for the next time around, when we will have a new desire.

When personal motivation is lacking, you automatically get the opportunity to continue without interruption. The question would be why would you want something like this. Only if you are satisfied in the self, at the spiritual level, would you ever think of doing something over and over again, lifetime after lifetime. God is the Supreme Self, so satisfying Him automatically satisfies the individual self.

The elders advise us to look for a career mostly so that we’ll have something worthwhile to do in adulthood. The career is not necessary for eating. The animals don’t have careers. They don’t go to school. And somehow they eat just fine. The human being can at worst case grab the fruits that fall off of a tree and thus find nourishment. This isn’t the preferred route, but still there is the chance to eat regardless of occupation.

With the career comes the inevitable retirement, where you will once again have to find something to do. In bhakti-yoga that problem is solved. Every day there is something worthwhile to accomplish. In the sadhana stage, there are many regulative principles to respect. The sadhaka ideally starts their day by chanting on their japa beads. On each bead in the string of 108, they recite the maha-mantra: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

[japa mala]Then there is worship of God in His deity form, which can be installed easily in the home. If one likes, they can visit a formal house of worship to accomplish the same. Then there is describing the glories of God to others. Known as kirtana, this can take place through congregational chanting of the holy names, distribution of works of literature that glorify God, or just having a discussion with another person. After all, there is no shortage of discussion of the mundane. One second the head of state is praised and the next he is criticized. One second everyone loves a particular athlete for performing well and the next everyone is calling for his retirement.

Everything in the material world comes and goes, but God is here to stay. His features are inexhaustible. If a picture is worth a thousand words, His image is worth an infinite amount. And all those words are in pure goodness, shuddha sattva. As there is no end to His glories, there is no end to the work in bhakti-yoga. Whereas one can change careers due to waning interest, in bhakti-yoga practiced properly the enthusiasm only increases. “Ever-increasing” is the way to describe the holy land that is the residence of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Since a replica of that same land gets created wherever bhakti-yoga is found, the property of ever-increasing emerges as well, solving the career problem once and for all.

“But what if I don’t want to worship God? Why do I have to make bhakti-yoga my career? How is it going to pay the bills?”

Bills there will be. Fear over the future is inevitable. Yet the dying man no longer worries over such trivial matters. He remembers not the many bills he had to pay or the time he spent worrying over them. Rather, he remembers the good moments, the quality time in his life, where he was able to offer and share love. Then he wonders where he will go next, if he will get rewarded in the afterlife.

Bhakti-yoga leaves so many lasting memories. It is the daily exercise of unbridled love, made open to any and all. It can be practiced whether there is a little money in the bank account or a lot. As long as there is the life breath within, the living entity has an opportunity for bhakti. They get the chance to work day after day, and since their consciousness becomes so pure, they think of the Supreme Lord at the time of death. He is the best person to think of at any time, but especially while quitting the body.

In Closing:

In school sharpening the mind,

Now focus on career to find.


In adulthood what to do,

So that hungry won’t be you.


Bhakti-yoga career path the best,

Eternal occupation, unlike the rest.


There for all, whether dumb or smart,

From routine of chanting holy names start.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Imperceptibly Liberated

[Lakshmi-Narayana deities]“The Deities of Radha and Krishna, Lakshmi and Narayana, and Rama and Sita are very attractive to devotees, so much so that when they see the statue decorated in the temple of the Lord they become fully absorbed in thought of the Lord. That is the state of liberation.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 3.25.36 Purport)

Download this episode (right click and save)

From the combination of the three modes of material nature that cover an individual soul at the time of birth, there is an immediate assignment into one of the four varnas, or categories of occupation. A varna is a Sanskrit word that also means “color,” and in the varnashrama system it refers to an occupation based on qualities. We inherit our qualities; we don’t choose them specifically when we are born. On the highest end is the brahmana, who sees the spiritual equality in all. On the lowest end is the shudra, who is known for easily lamenting, especially over things that are not very important. Bhakti-yoga is so potent that it transcends the four varnas, meaning that even a person who easily laments can get liberation, release from the cycle of death. And that boon can come as easily as pointing the eyes in a certain direction.

[Microsoft certification]Consider this situation. You have two employees at a place of business. They don’t hold the same position. One person is well-educated. They have several degrees and certifications. They work on things the average person wouldn’t know how to do. They are expert in math and physics, and they are confident in their abilities. You have another person who cleans the offices. They aren’t very skilled, but they do their job with faith and attention. If the roles were to reverse, the cleaning person wouldn’t know the first thing to do, but the highly educated person could eventually figure out how to clean.

One day a personal tragedy hits the owner of the business. As a result, they are terribly upset. They don’t know how to handle the situation. The employee who is very educated is unfortunately also uncaring. They make a few insensitive remarks towards a fellow employee about how happy they are that the boss is upset. “I don’t care what happens to him,” is overheard. “He’s the worst person on the planet, so it’s good if he’s sad.” The other employee mentioned previously, the cleaning person, though not very educated, takes care to console the boss. They are a very loving person, and though they aren’t highly valued in the company, they treat every one with dignity and respect.

So from this situation we see that occupation alone doesn’t determine a person’s character. Intellect can only take us so far, and in the final evaluation of a person it is practically meaningless. This holds true especially in the eyes of the Supreme Lord, who is the father of all. In the Vedic tradition there is the system of education known as Vedanta. It is the end of knowledge, the conclusion of all conclusions. In Vedanta you learn that you are spirit and not matter. You learn that the material world is nothing more than varying combinations of the twenty-four elements described in Sankhya philosophy. Birth and death go in cycles, and the vital force within, the spirit soul, never dies.

na jāyate mriyate vā kadācin
nāyaṁ bhūtvā bhavitā vā na bhūyaḥ
ajo nityaḥ śāśvato 'yaṁ purāṇo
na hanyate hanyamāne śarīre

“For the soul there is never birth nor death. Nor, having once been, does he ever cease to be. He is unborn, eternal, ever-existing, undying and primeval. He is not slain when the body is slain.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.20)

The person who is not familiar with Vedanta will easily lament over trivial issues. Something like the death of a very old person will make them so dejected for many days. They may have never met that person; it may be the death of a celebrity. They don’t know that the soul lives on, that to grieve for the body is not very wise.

[flowers at feet of deity]And yet such a person can become liberated in an instant by worshiping the deity, which is the merciful manifestation of the Supreme Lord meant to be served by the conditioned soul otherwise deluded by the images shown to them in maya, or illusion. We can’t see God. It’s impossible. We don’t have eyes to see beyond the horizon, so how can we see someone who is the entire cosmic manifestation? And in fact, He is much more than that, but we reference it here as a way to help us understand His greatness.

Despite being larger than the largest, He allows us to worship Him through a small statue form that can be installed in a place of worship, be it a home or temple. How does the imperceptible liberation take place? The deity is very attractive, as it accurately depicts the beauty and grace of God in one of His many forms. There is the original form of Krishna, who is accompanied by His pleasure potency, the forever devoted Shrimati Radharani. The same Krishna expands into Narayana, and Radha accompanies Him as Lakshmi Devi. Then Narayana expands into Rama, and Lakshmi again stays by His side, this time as Sita Devi.

[Radha and Krishna]Even the less intelligent person, who may be consumed with thoughts of trivial matters, such as what occurred on the latest reality television show, can become absorbed in the devotional atmosphere by looking at the deity.

“Just see how beautiful Krishna is. His land of Vrindavana is so fortunate; it gets to see Him every day. Krishna is so attractive; it is no wonder everyone there loves Him. No one can compare to Radharani. Only she can criticize Krishna and have her sentiments be praised. Her love is so strong that Krishna prefers her to everyone else. And yet He still makes room for anyone’s worship. I wish I could stay in this moment forever, never forgetting Radha and Krishna.”

This thought process is liberation. To think of God is the pinnacle achievement for the living spirit. The best opportunity for reaching that level of thinking is the human birth. Familiarity with Vedanta and intelligence to understand the science of self-realization help to give confidence in adopting the bhakti-yoga life, but they are not requirements. The power of the deity is such that any person can have their life turned around in an instant. When they think of God all the time, they are liberated, and no one can take that away from them.

In Closing:

High or low, ordinary or exceptional,

Anyone can get liberation imperceptible.


Just a look at the deity take,

And in an instant transformation make.


Character not from occupation alone,

Company of Supreme Lord for any to own.


With respect to Radha-Krishna or Sita-Rama stand,

Liberated in mind, to spiritual world land.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Trusting the Guru’s Words

[Sita Devi's hand]“And she has been found by me, for with respect to her appearance, her complexion, and her beauty she is just as I heard from Rama.” (Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 31.15)

yathā rūpām yathā varṇām yathā lakṣmīm viniścitām ||
aśrauṣam rāghavasya aham sā iyam āsāditā mayā |

Download this episode (right click and save)

In the Vedic tradition of spirituality, you don’t realize God all by yourself. It’s not like you get a divine revelation and then after that share with the world what you saw. For the truly serious transcendentalist, who is looking to fulfill the mission of a human existence, the immediate goal is not even to just have this vision of the divine. The preferred method is to act in a way that the Supreme Lord will notice you and from there shower His mercy upon you.

How do you determine the proper way to act? Is it discovered through contemplation? Does it come in a dream? Actually, everything gets passed on by the guru, or spiritual master. If he is bona fide and if you have trust in him, everything will work out eventually. Even if you’re not so convinced in the beginning, if you maintain faith in the guru’s words, you’ll eventually receive the benefit. The above referenced verse from the Ramayana is proof of this.

[Sita Devi]Here Shri Hanuman reveals how he has concluded that the beautiful woman seen below him from the tree is indeed the beloved wife of Shri Rama. She is Sita Devi, the daughter of King Janaka who received her name due to the unique circumstances of her birth. She emerged from the ground, and so Janaka named her Sita. She is also known by the name Janaki because of her father.

Hanuman was sent to find her. She had gone missing. Hanuman did not know what she looked like. He had never met her before. He accepted the mission from Sugriva, the monkey-king who was working on behalf of Rama, the prince from Ayodhya. Rama was thus the guru in this situation. He explained to Hanuman the features of Sita. He explained her golden complexion, her loveliness, and her beauty and opulences.

Hanuman took the information that Rama gave him and used it to make a pattern match. He could not know for sure whether this person was indeed Sita, for he had yet to speak to her. These words were uttered within her audible range, meaning that these were the first words coming from Hanuman to Sita. If this woman wasn’t Rama’s wife, Hanuman would be wasting his efforts. He would be risking getting caught as well, for he was in an enemy territory at the time. The people of Lanka wouldn’t take too kindly to having one of Rama’s messengers enter their city uninvited.

The trust in Rama’s words was there, so Hanuman knew that this woman was Sita, that the mission reached a successful end. Hanuman is a liberated soul who is always engaged in devotional service. Therefore he will always trust in Rama’s words. The conditioned souls, who unfortunately travel through the cycle of birth and death for a seemingly indefinite period of time, rarely get the chance to hear from one of Rama’s messengers, let alone act on the advice they give.

manuṣyāṇāṁ sahasreṣu
kaścid yatati siddhaye
yatatām api siddhānāṁ
kaścin māṁ vetti tattvataḥ

“Out of many thousands among men, one may endeavor for perfection, and of those who have achieved perfection, hardly one knows Me in truth.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.3)

The guru who is a true representative of Shri Rama or one of His incarnations, including His original form of Krishna, advises the sincere student to always be conscious of God.

“Think of Him. This is your main goal. Whatever you can do to make that happen, do it. Whatever gets in the way of your thinking, try to remove it from your daily life.”

[japa mala]These are the guiding principles, but the guru gives still further information, helpful hints. They say to always chant the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

“Make a routine out of this. Get a japa mala, or string of beads, and chant the mantra repeatedly, going around those beads. Go around at least sixteen times a day.”

The doubting soul may not initially understand the purpose to this routine.

“What is repeating a mantra going to do for me? Why not just really concentrate and chant the mantra one time? Wouldn’t that be better than acting like a robot?”

The guru also advises to refrain from meat eating, gambling, intoxication and illicit sex. They say to offer food to the Supreme Lord and to describe His glories to whomever you meet.

[Hanuman's heart]The recommendations may not make sense in the beginning, but one who faithfully acts on such instruction will get the benefit in the end. Hanuman acted on Rama’s words and he was rewarded with the sight of Sita, who is the most beautiful woman to have ever graced this earth. His work didn’t stop there, as he continued to serve both Sita and Rama, making him boundlessly happy in the process. In the same way the soul who follows bhakti-yoga, having full faith in the representative of the Lord, who enthusiastically serves both Sita and Rama in the model of Hanuman, will eventually see God and understand Him with firm conviction.

In Closing:

The beautiful princess he could see,

Hanuman while perched on a tree.


Since Rama’s words to trust,

This woman is Sita, it must.


In guru have faith the same,

And daily chant holy name.


Success to come your way,

Soon enough, if not today.

Sunday, September 21, 2014


[Hanuman crossing the ocean]“By the words of Sampati, I swiftly leapt across the ocean, extending one hundred yojanas, for the sake of this wide-eyed lady.” (Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 31.14)

aham sampātivacanācchatayojanamāyatam ||
asyā hetorviśālākṣyāḥ sāgaraṃ vegavān plutaḥ |

Download this episode (right click and save)

Shri Hanuman is dear to Sita and Rama for so many reasons. There is his kindness. He is always looking out for their welfare. There is his compassion. If he sees either one of them in distress, he too feels distress. There is his intelligence. He uses his sharp mind for devising schemes to please them. He uses his brain to find ways out of difficult situations, those which hamper his ability to serve them. Another reason he is dear to them is that he does not waste a single moment in service. He is never idle due to laziness. On the contrary, he is always alert, moving swiftly to wherever he is needed.

“Oh, sure. No problem. I’ll take care of it. Let me get back home first and then I’ll look into it. Don’t worry.” We have likely uttered these words many times when asked for a favor. We mean it when we promise to do something, but if we know that the job isn’t that difficult, we’ll put it off until later. Who wants another task to complete in an already jam-packed schedule? Who wants to be burdened with another responsibility when so many others are higher in priority at the moment?

This procrastination increases the odds of completely forgetting about the task. Then the person who asked will have to remind us of it later on. They will not take too kindly to our forgetfulness, for it shows a lack of respect. There is a hint of dishonesty as well, as we promised them that we would take care of things. We didn’t tell them the truth; we didn’t warn them that we’d forget about the request a few minutes after promising to complete it.

A group of forest dwellers many thousands of years ago received an assignment of utmost urgency. They were told to scour the earth in search of a missing princess. These forest dwellers were monkey-like, and they had a unique ability to assume any shape they desired. Think of it like losing or gaining weight in a matter of seconds instead of days. Think of it like putting on a costume without having to go to the store to purchase clothes.

[Vanaras in Kishkindha]They carried out the mission since it was assigned by the king of forest dwellers, Sugriva. But there was little success. Despite their enthusiasm in the mission and their ability to range about, they could not find the princess. Shri Hanuman did not lose faith, however. Upon hearing the valuable intelligence offered by the bird named Sampati, Hanuman leapt across the ocean. The distance crossed was one hundred yojanas, or roughly eight hundred miles. Hanuman did this for the sake of the wide-eyed Sita, the wife of Shri Rama. Sugriva was Rama’s friend, and so the mission he assigned was for Rama’s benefit.

In this verse from the Ramayana, Hanuman describes how he came to Lanka, the place at which he presently sits. These words are directed to Sita, who is hearing of Hanuman and the forest-dwellers in Kishkindha for the first time. Hanuman uses the word vegavan, which means very swift. This is how he leapt across the ocean. He covered eight hundred miles very quickly. There was no time for rest. He was offered a resting place by the mountain named Mainaka. Hanuman accepted the kind gesture by simply touching his hand to the mountain peak instead of stopping.

“O Sita, see the golden lord of mountains [Mainaka], which is golden-peaked and which rose up, piercing the ocean, to provide rest to Hanuman.” (Lord Rama speaking to Sita Devi, Valmiki Ramayana, Yuddha Kand, 123.18)

Imagine a total stranger doing such a thing for you. They have never met you. They don’t know much about you. They just know that your spouse is a wonderful person. From that splendid character they judge that you are worthy of whatever risk is necessary for rescue. It is difficult for us to imagine this situation, but this is precisely what occurred with Shri Hanuman. He faced many obstacles, and he didn’t have anyone guiding him along the way. He gathered information here and there, but there was no guarantee of success. Still, he maintained his vegavan attribute. He knew that time was of the essence, and so he did not waste a single moment.

[Hanuman]In the same way, for the human being time is extremely valuable, especially as it relates to meeting the mission of life. In so many previous lifetimes there was plenty of time for sleep, food, sex life, and general idleness. The human being is advised to wake up, jiva jago, as Chaitanya Mahaprabhu says, and reclaim their constitutional engagement of devotional service. One who acts swiftly in serving the Supreme Lord becomes dear to Shri Hanuman, who is always dear to Sita and Rama.

In Closing:

All attributes in service to use,

For Hanuman not a moment to lose.


Despite obstacles many and risky,

Coursed through sky reaching Lanka swiftly.


All done for Sita and Rama’s sake,

And for Sugriva successful mission to make.


Time now for living entity to go with speed,

Waking to spiritual life following Vegavan’s lead.