Saturday, October 4, 2014

Talking About Whom To Worship

[Hanuman's heart]“It is understood that once Hanuman, the great devotee of Lord Ramachandra, said that he knew that Narayana, the husband of Lakshmi, and Rama, the husband of Sita, are one and the same, and that there is no difference between Lakshmi and Sita, but as for himself, he liked the form of Lord Rama.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 3.24.31 Purport)

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Girish: We’re so lucky to have come in contact with the Vedic tradition.

Shankar: That’s true, but what made you think of that?

Girish: Well, before I would pray to God, but I had no idea who He was.

Shankar: What would you pray for?

Girish: That’s the thing, I would pray for insignificant stuff. In those moments of weakness I would give thanks for all I had. You know, my friends and my family. Then I’d ask for their continued wellbeing.

Shankar: I was the same way. My prayers would be more frequent if someone I knew was in trouble.

Girish: Yeah, exactly. Obviously since I was talking to God, I considered Him to be a person. But I never knew anything about Him. I never considered what He looked like. I never thought about how He would behave and how He would interact with people.

Shankar: That’s why the term coined by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada is so important: “The Supreme Personality of Godhead.” He is more than just God. He is a personality. He is part of Godhead, which means that God expands. At the top is the supreme, the leader of all forms of Godhead. He is Krishna.

[Lord Krishna]Girish: Yeah, it’s so nice. I like that there is a meaning to that name. It’s not just some random word. It means “all-attractive.” And who can argue with that?

Shankar: Not me. He is so beautiful.

Girish: But I know that you don’t worship Him as your ishta-deva, or deity of preference.

Shankar: Yeah, I just can’t. Sita and Rama are it for me. I know who Krishna is but I could never look at Him the same way as I do Sita and Rama.

Girish: Yeah, what can you do? For me it’s the opposite. I can’t look at anyone except Krishna. Sometimes people argue with me. They say that Vishnu is superior, that Rama and Krishna came from Him. They tell me to worship Lakshmi and Vishnu instead.

Shankar: And by reading certain works their opinion is validated. In the Bhagavata Purana the demigods petition Vishnu to come to earth, who agrees to descend as Krishna. In the Ramayana’s Bala Kand, the same thing happens, Vishnu agrees to come to earth in a seemingly human form, this time named Rama.

Girish: The good thing is that the results of the worship are pretty much identical. If you think that Vishnu is the supreme, you’re not really harmed. He is the same person. The other gods are different. As Krishna says in the Bhagavad-gita, worshipers of the different divine figures go to their respective planets. People who worship Him go to His supreme abode.

Shankar: Yeah, even Lord Shiva has his own realm. People who worship him purely go to him. But that worship is rare, since Shiva also plays the role of handing out material benedictions. That kind of worship does not bring his association. It’s funny. He’s known as Ashutosha since he wants people to stop bothering him for material benedictions. When they ask for stuff, he gives it to them very quickly so he can go back to meditating on Rama, his ishta-deva.

Girish: The key thing to remember is that worship of a Vishnu form means liberation, freedom from the cycle of birth and death. Also, worship of the Supreme Personality of Godhead done impurely eventually brings purification. I can ask for stuff from Krishna, but He might not give it to me. In that way He is special.

Shankar: Yeah, that’s so nice, isn’t it? What kindness!

[Radha and Krishna]Girish: Still, I can’t see why anyone wouldn’t worship the darling son of Nanda Maharaja. One look at Him and I’m His. I melt immediately. Then I see the love that Radha and the gopis of Vrindavana have for Him and I become even more taken. I feel like Krishna owns me. I will do whatever He wants, which He spells out through the instructions of His devoted servants.

Shankar: I know what you mean. Radha and Krishna are so beautiful.

Girish: So when are you going to come over to my side? When are you going to worship the “supreme” Godhead? You know that Goloka Vrindavana is the topmost planet, right? You know that you can play with Krishna there, that He can carry you on His back if you want?

Shankar: You’re starting this argument again?

Girish: You know I like to mess with you. People do it to me, so why shouldn’t I return the favor? They tell me to worship Lakshmi and Vishnu. I feel bad denying them. I don’t want to do anything to curb their devotion, but at the same time I have to stick up for Radha and Krishna.

Shankar: You are too funny. Listen, there is nothing I can do. When I walk into a temple and see Rama I’m just so happy. Then I see His innocent and beloved wife Sita standing next to Him and I’m completely owned. Then I look over to Rama’s right and see the fearless brother Lakshmana standing there and I make a promise to never abandon them. Then, kneeling down before them in the corner I see Hanuman.

Girish: Oh yeah, Hanuman is great.

Shankar: So he puts it over the top for me. I can’t describe to you how good I feel when I see him with Sita, Rama and Lakshmana. Hanuman is the authority for me. Whatever he says, I will do. If he worships Sita and Rama, then so will I. I don’t care what other people tell me. Actually, Hanuman could come up to me personally and tell me to abandon worship of him and Sita, Rama, and Lakshmana and I wouldn’t do it. I’ll never give them up.

[Rama Darbar]Girish: Wow, that’s great. I can’t argue with you there. Hopefully we can spread the word and get others to know about the personal side to God. They would benefit tremendously. Instead of concocting all these other gods who constantly disappoint them, they would taste the fruit of an existence: bhakti.

In Closing:

Vishnu forms there are many,

Granting liberation can any.


Krishna looking all-attractive so,

How to any other one can go?


Rama the same with lotus-like eyes,

Lakshmana and Sita always by His side.


Hanuman the complete picture to make,

Authority of his forever I will take.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Talking About Leaving This Planet

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

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yaṁ yaṁ vāpi smaran bhāvaṁ
tyajaty ante kalevaram
taṁ tam evaiti kaunteya
sadā tad-bhāva-bhāvitaḥ

Girish: Hey, I just visited the swami in the hospital.

Shankar: How’s he doing?

Girish: Not good. He’s saying that he’s ready to leave the planet. He doesn’t want any more treatment.

Shankar: Oh no. What happened? Were they able to figure out what’s wrong? I don’t understand this.

Girish: No, nothing. He just keeps getting worse and worse. He says that he’s in too much pain and he knows his current body has become useless. He’s ready to go back.

Shankar: He’s a true sannyasi. He doesn’t just preach renunciation. What is the situation like over there?

Girish: Well, there’s the maha-mantra playing in the background the entire time. There are kids in front of him reading from the Krishna book.

[Krishna book]Shankar: You know why that’s happening, right?

Girish: Yeah, like you’re supposed to remember God at the time of death, no? Whatever state of being you have while quitting your body that state you attain in the next life without fail.

Shankar: Right. So in his condition there is no guarantee of when he’ll pass. It could be today or in a week. You want to make sure there is every opportunity to hear the holy name, which is non-different from God. But the situation over there right now is intentional; he’s doing it to teach others.

Girish: What do you mean?

Shankar: Think about it. He’s spent his whole life in service to Krishna and the guru. They say that service to each runs along parallel lines. You can’t just pick one. He’s not like us. He didn’t have it easy.

Girish: How so?

Shankar: If we give up eating meat, people expect it. When you tell people that you’re going to a temple to bow down before a statue, sing songs and then eat holy food, they don’t oppose you so much. They think it’s part of your religion.

Girish: That’s true.

Shankar: But it’s not the same with him. Understandably, his family will wonder why he’s abandoning their “faith.” They don’t see the difference between faith and a way of life, that self-realization is a science and not just some magic that you believe in. To give up eating meat is a big deal for him. To live in a temple and dedicate your whole life to serving a religious tradition that is foreign to his culture requires full surrender.

Girish: Yeah. I’m so amazed at these people who are able to fight through everything. They must be so confident of the path they’ve chosen.

[Prabhupada dancing]Shankar: So that surrender gets rewarded. He’s already liberated. He’s creating that atmosphere in the room to teach others. Those kids who are reading from the Krishna book are getting the benefit. The swami already thinks of the pastimes of the personal form of God. He never forgets Krishna. He’s showing others the right way to die.

Girish: Yeah, and to me he’s also proving that he really isn’t attached to the body. But why does Krishna take people like this? Why is the swami in so much pain? I know I shouldn’t think these things, but I’m puzzled by it.

Shankar: You can compare it to changing scenes in a play. One second the lead actor is wearing clothes for sleeping and after a while they change into something else for a different scene. We see the swami in his present body, but he is actually spirit soul. Krishna will simply send him to a different field for working. He is actually Krishna’s child; he does not determine his own fate anymore.

Girish: I see. And what about others?

Shankar: They are under the control of the material energy. God is the seed-giving father and the material nature is the mother. So both combine to give the individual a place to live for a temporary period. When Krishna consciousness is lacking, the laws of the material energy dictate where the next birth will take place. For the swami, it is Krishna Himself who will determine.

Girish: That’s pretty powerful.

Shankar: Yeah, to us the swami looks frail and weak. Ever since I’ve known him he’s been of poor health. Yet his disposition never changed. He was always the same. This means that he was liberated in this very life. He already belongs to Krishna, and so the Lord is simply getting ready to take Him somewhere else, where the field will be better.

Girish: Sort of like the parents taking the children off the playground when it starts raining?

Shankar: Exactly. Like I said, he has long since relinquished control. It is a very kind act on the part of Krishna. We are seeing His mercy right now in the situation there at the hospital. Through the swami’s passing, we are getting to see God. It is a rare opportunity, providing invaluable lessons.

Girish: I’m going to miss him. He was such a nice person.

[Krishna-Balarama Swami]Shankar: Yeah, he taught me so much, in ways that I never fully grasped. All the theory behind bhakti-yoga, on how it should be the eternal occupation, how it gives the bliss that has long since eluded us - he put that into practice. He showed exactly why the chanting of the holy names is the way to spend your days living, and hearing those names is the way to go out. In that temple when I hear the holy names, I will always think of him: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

In Closing:

Dying soul on his way out,

But not Krishna consciousness without.


Pastimes of the Lord to hear,

To leave world without fear.


To others valuable lesson giving,

On how time best spent while living.


Under Krishna’s control, fate sealed,

For bhakti onto better playing field.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Dussehra 2014

[Remembering Rama]“When remembering Shri Rama, while fighting in a war, while paying obeisance to the guru’s feet - those who on these occasions do not feel a thrill in the body are essentially lifeless, though living in this world, says Tulsi.” (Dohavali, 42)

rāmahi sumirata rana bhirata deta parata guru pāya' |
tulasī jinhahi na pulaka tanu te jaga jīvata jāya' ||

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It all came down to Him. Everyone else had done their part. They were valiant. They were not afraid. They took their strength from Him. They knew that in the worst case He would defend them. He was their back up, though He was their leader too. He had been fighting the whole time, but now at the end He was needed to finish the job. On the occasion of Dussehra we celebrate that hero’s march towards the frontlines, where He fulfilled the destiny that was set into motion many years prior.

[Rama with army fighting against Ravana]Imagine this situation. Your favorite player in a particular sport has reached the semifinals of a tournament. You are happy because they are only two rounds away from victory. Sports is your escape from real life. Playing it is fun, but you seem to get even more enjoyment from watching it. Naturally you have your favorites and those whom you don’t like. You invest total emotion in sports and you only get hurt when your favorites lose. Even then, after a few days you forget about it.

With this particular player, there is a lot to defend. He is the best in the world. He is on pace to be labeled the greatest of all time. There is only one problem. There is another player he can’t seem to beat. Otherwise, this other player isn’t as good. They don’t have as much to defend. This rival player has also made the semifinals. You’re afraid of his winning and meeting your favorite in the final. You don’t want that to happen. You would rather your favorite lose in the semifinals than have to play against their rival in the final.

Yet in interviews your favorite player says that he is not afraid. He is actually looking forward to such a match up, because that would allow him revenge. Indeed, this is the mentality of the warrior. In his Dohavali, Goswami Tulsidas says that the warrior is supposed to feel a thrill in their body when they step onto the battlefield. If this thrill is missing, they are essentially lifeless.

[Prabhupada's lotus feet]The same thrill is there in the disciple who pays obeisance to the guru. The bona fide guru is the guide on spiritual matters. The spiritual is more important than the material. We don’t really need a guide for the material. Sure, we can pay lots of money for people to prepare us for the entrance exam for college or medical school, but in the broader perspective we’re just finding different ways to eat, sleep, mate and defend. Worst case we could grab the fruits that fall from trees and take shelter in a cave. We don’t need a guide to figure out how to do this.

The spiritual is more important because it is who we really are. We are spirit at the core, but we can’t see spirit, at least not with the eyes conditioned by a material existence. Therefore the guru provides instruction of the most value. There is only one price to pay: humility. This involves relinquishing our false ego, acknowledging with sincerity that someone else is superior to us.

Just like the warrior on the battlefield, the disciple who humbly submits before the guru’s feet is not afraid to lose. They are not afraid of missing out on material enjoyment because they know that the human being has a higher purpose. They know that the guru can reveal this purpose, and so they feel a thrill when approaching him. They are going after victory in the human life, and that victory will feel much better than the safety of not trying at all and remaining bound to the cycle of birth and death.

The guru gives information about the spiritual in various ways. He instructs that we are not our body, that we are spirit soul at the foundational level. Then he teaches us about the Supreme Spirit. This personality is like us, but different as well. He has a body too, but it is transcendental. His body also takes to actions, but the results are a little different.

[Lord Rama]Dussehra is one instance where we can see the difference. The Supreme Lord came to this earth in His incarnation of Shri Rama many thousands of years ago. In this beautiful form He accepts the role of defender of the innocent. You can be a defender but never be called into action. This could have been the case with Rama, but as mentioned before a warrior feels a thrill when rushing onto the battlefield. As God, Rama too sometimes enjoys a good fight. Conflict is not possible in the spiritual realm, so from time to time the Lord descends to this earth and brings His closest associates with Him to play the antagonists.

The associates are like God, but they are not Him completely. The evil Ravana is originally one of the doorkeepers in the Vaikuntha realm, the spiritual land free of anxieties. Ravana was a tremendous fighter. No one could defeat him. Thinking he was invincible, he once stole Rama’s wife Sita from the forest of Dandaka. Rama and an army of forest-dwellers, who were monkey-like, marched towards Ravana’s home in Lanka to rescue Sita.

Rama’s army fought valiantly, but in the end it was up to Rama to defeat Ravana. As God, Rama does not lose. His fighting ability is unlike anyone else’s. Though looking like a mere mortal, a beautiful one at that, He can fight effortlessly and defeat those who are thought to be invincible. The day that Rama finally killed Ravana on the battlefield has since been celebrated annually as the holiday known as Dussehra.

[Lord Rama]Remembering that incident also brings a thrill to the body. Those who are missing this thrill are essentially lifeless, says Tulsidas. This human life is meant for the ultimate victory of merging into the eternal occupation of devotional service, bhakti-yoga. The warrior is not afraid to lose, and so they feel a thrill on the battlefield. The disciple takes all risk in surrendering before the guru, and so they too feel a thrill. The ultimate thrill comes from remembering Rama in full surrender. That is the real purpose to having a life. Dussehra reminds us of this.

In Closing:

To enter final battle to choose,

Shri Rama never afraid to lose.


On battlefield feeling a thrill,

Victory’s sounds soon the air to fill.


Thrill when remembering should be,

Like when disciple guru’s feet to see.


Dussehra of life’s meaning reminding,

Highest bliss in bhakti-yoga finding.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Forgetting Time

[Vyasadeva]“Shrimad-Bhagavatam and, primarily, the Bhagavad-gita are both meant for delivering a person from the misconception of ‘I’ and ‘mine,’ and Shrila Vyasadeva transcribed them for the deliverance of the fallen souls. The living entity has to be situated in the transcendental position where there is no more influence of time nor of the material energy. In conditioned life the living entity is subjected to the influence of time in the dream of past, present and future.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 2.9.3 Purport)

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Wouldn’t it be great if you could forget time? Not that you forget to feed your children or take a shower before going to work, but actually getting involved in something where you’re not constantly looking at the clock. Wouldn’t it be nice to engage in something where the time seems to fly by, where you are not constantly in angst?

Wouldn’t it also be great to be free of space restrictions? When someone does something very bad, society puts them in jail. This is the punishment and it involves a restriction on space. Instead of getting to go anywhere and everywhere, the convict must remain in a small cell. Perhaps they get to go outside for a few hours during the day, but they can’t leave the prison compound. Wouldn’t it be great to be free of such restrictions all the time?

Interestingly enough, both conditions can be met in spiritual life. Whereas the clock is ticking in terms of the time left within this body, and whereas space is limited with residence in this present body, in the constitutional position neither is an issue. Indeed, the best way to regain that constitutional position and remain in it is to find an outlet for service that removes the time factor.

Imagine this situation. You’re trying to lose weight. Not that you are obese, but from recent pictures you’ve noticed that you could stand to lose a few pounds. Your face looks too puffed up, and you definitely have more fat on you than you did previously. The change happened through bad habits. A single time eating dessert turned into a daily habit. One outing to the pizza shop turned into a regular occurrence, where the person behind the counter knows your order as soon as you walk in.

[pizza]To lose weight you try exercise. You hop on a machine for cardiovascular fitness. You’ve heard that to lose weight properly, you need to be on this machine for at least thirty minutes. Hence you are bound to time. The first attempt is very difficult for you because you can’t stop peeking to see how much time is remaining. “When will this end already? I’m going to have to do this every day? I won’t make it.”

The next time around you bring music with you. You put your favorite songs on your smartphone and you listen to them through headphones while exercising on the machine. This time the experience is much more pleasant. You played the songs in random order, so this way you were able to forget time even more. With this forgetfulness, you felt liberated. You felt free to exercise, which you considered to be good for you.

We can take this same example and apply it to spiritual life. Bhakti-yoga can be likened to exercise for the health of the soul. The diseased condition is the false ego, which we assume at the time of birth. False ego is a subtle element attached to the body, which we can perceive through its collection of gross elements: earth, water, fire, air and ether. The cured condition is the real ego, where we know that the “I” refers to the spirit soul, the atma. “Mine” means that which the soul temporarily uses, sort of like on lease from the heavenly father.

Bhakti-yoga is the best way to transform the false ego into the real ego. Exercise in bhakti-yoga involves adherence to regulative principles, the primary of which are avoiding meat eating, gambling, intoxication and illicit sex. Imagine going through the day trying to not eat meat. Imagine constantly having urges for intoxication on your mind but having to block them out. Imagine wanting to gamble so bad but knowing that you can’t.

As these are regulative principles to adopt for a lifetime, each day becomes difficult. One day of following the principles is not enough; you must repeat the same the next day, and the one after that. Therefore time becomes a major factor. It’s like being on the cardiovascular exercise machine and seeing that there are many days left until you can get off.

[japa beads]The way to forget time is the chanting of the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. This is the positive side to bhakti-yoga, accounting for hearing and chanting, two of the nine methods to the discipline. The restrictions are the negative side and chanting the positive. His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada urges the chanting of this mantra for sixteen rounds a day on a set of japa beads. This means that around two hours of each day can be occupied by chanting. Two hours of chanting means two hours of avoiding the previously mentioned sinful activities.

But what about the rest of the time? How do we steer clear of those activities which keep our ego false? The secret, not surprisingly, is to find an outlet for service where time is no longer a factor. Find that one thing you love in bhakti-yoga that you will want to do repeatedly. What makes you forget time? Is it chanting? If so, then you can continue that after the sixteen rounds are completed each day. Is it cooking? If so, you can prepare so many dishes for the Supreme Lord, offer them with love, and then distribute to any and all. Is it talking about God and the science of self-realization? If so, then find as many people to talk to as possible. Find as many outlets as possible so that you’ll always keep talking. No one likes a “motor mouth,” but if your words help others transform their false egos, then your constant talking is a benefit to them.

[Krishna in Vrindavana]In the liberated state, time and space lose their influence. Time no longer matters since bhakti-yoga is the eternal occupation. Every day is like an adult Christmas, where the gift unwrapped is a newfound adventure in service. In the highest spiritual planet of Goloka Vrindavana, each day brings new joy in association with Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The space is wide open too, the playing field where the cows and the young boys enjoy. The space of Vrindavana cannot be measured, for if there is ever a lack of space, Krishna simply creates a new area. Time exists, but it has no influence since the residents never have to leave Krishna’s side. He is described as nava yauvanam, or always young. The same property belongs to devotion to Him, and so in bhakti-yoga one finds the only way to escape the pressures brought on by time and space.

In Closing:

No matter how hard you may try,

On ticking time to always keep an eye.


How then can there be peace?

Filled with worry is day each.


Better when in work time to forget,

Then more easily to completion to get.


In bhakti-yoga that one activity find,

Where time to remain far away from mind.


Gone are influence of time and space,

In Krishna’s home, topmost spiritual place.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Getting What You Want

[Krishna's lotus feet]“It is stated that he whose mind is not fixed in Krishna consciousness must hover between acceptance and rejection. However advanced a man is in academic qualifications, as long as he is not fixed in Krishna consciousness he will simply accept and reject and will never be able to fix his mind on a particular subject matter.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 3.26.27 Purport)

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Bhoga and tyaga. These two Sanskrit words go together when discussing a life devoid of devotion to the author of all great things. In fact, without dedication to service to the Divine, there can only be acceptance and rejection. Rejection comes after getting that which was desired. This means that the decision to go for the desired object was a mistake, at least temporarily. And then there is renewed desire after rejection because the rejection was not permanent. Thus the cycle continues, that is until one reaches the stage of Krishna consciousness.

Consider the passing fad. Go back to a particular decade and you’ll notice that the people have similar hairstyles. The clothes are also notably different from today. If you hold a party with a theme of a particular decade, the people attending will have to dress up. They can’t go as they are dressed in the present time. From this we see how bhoga and tyaga work. At one time, bell-bottoms were the preferred style of jeans. At one time, women liked to have puffy hair. Today the styles are different, but in the future the same trends from the past might reemerge.

Think of the person who tries so hard to win the “love of their life.” They go through so much trouble to secure the relationship. They say things like, “I can’t live without this person. They are my reason for living.” Love songs are written along these lines. And yet several years after the fact, the same person can feel differently. “I want to get as far away from them as possible. I can’t stand them. I don’t understand why anyone gets married. You’re better off finding someone you hate and buying them a house. This way you’ll save many years of pain and suffering.”

Bhakti-yoga, when practiced correctly, is not a passing fad. This is because the desired object is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who has the best qualities imaginable in every single category of importance. Do you prefer strength? Know that God is the strongest. Do you like beauty? You can gaze at a portrait of the Supreme Lord day after day and continuously derive new inspiration.

And what exactly are you inspired to do? Serve, of course. That is what makes the soul happiest. And how do you serve? You can chant, you can hear, and you can even cook. To help you find the right kind of service, you hear more and more about God. You understand where He lives, how He creates, and what He desires from all those who come from Him.

bhoktāraṁ yajña-tapasāṁ
suhṛdaṁ sarva-bhūtānāṁ
jñātvā māṁ śāntim ṛcchati

“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, Bhagavad-gita, 5.29)

[Lord Krishna]In the Bhagavad-gita, the all-attractive Krishna says that He is the enjoyer of all sacrifice, the ultimate proprietor, and the best friend of every living entity. From the ant all the way up to the denizens of heaven, Krishna is a friend to each. As such, He is there to be enjoyed in a loving relationship. Service to Him goes by the name of bhakti-yoga, and it is anything but a fad.

And how could it be? When you have the best person in your life, why would you want to give them up in favor of something else? When you have someone whose association makes you appreciate all other associations, why would you change your mind later on? When you get so much joy from chanting the holy names, why would you adopt another process?

Just like Krishna Himself, bhakti-yoga is always increasing. If there is a depression of any sort, it is due to lack of full sincerity in the process. And yet Krishna always comes back; He’s ready to return into the life of the devoted soul. Whatever took His place will ultimately get rejected anyway. The seesaw of material existence stops when the wise soul exits and runs towards the welcoming arms of devotional service.

“But what if I desired something, got it, and then later didn’t reject it?”

[Lord Krishna]Eventually everything has to be rejected. The thing we are most attached to is the body. At the time of death, it leaves us. Yet even within the journey of that body, we reject so many things. What I want changes, which means that I don’t know what it is I really want. The Bhagavad-gita and Vedic philosophy in general tell us that what the soul really wants is love, the eternal variety. Pure love is prema, and it can only be offered to God. This is because He is the only entity which can accept it unconditionally for lifetime after lifetime. He is the only person who can properly reciprocate, and since He is the root of the material existence, satisfying Him means automatically serving all others properly. It is no wonder then that the chanting of the maha-mantra benefits so many: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

In Closing:

Want that very badly on this day,

But tomorrow away from it to stay.


Acceptance and rejection on swinging,

Pendulum real happiness not bringing.


When fixed in bhakti-yoga’s way,

Mind finally on cherished object to stay.


Better than Krishna no person can be,

Then no desire for any other to see.

Monday, September 29, 2014

A Forgotten Influence

[Vedic library]“It is a fact that there are two classes of men - those who are obedient to the laws of the Supreme Lord and those who are atheists or agnostics, who do not accept the existence of God and who want to create their own laws. They want to establish that everyone can create his own laws or his own religious path. Without tracing out the beginning of the existence of these two classes, we can take it for granted that some of the living entities revolted against the laws of the Lord.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 3.26.5 Purport)

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In rebellion against the dictates of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Bhagavan, man thinks their approach is more enlightened. Rather than fix the mind on a person they consider to be imaginary, whom they identify in derogatory terms such as “magic sky wizard,” they choose their own path. They won’t be told what to do. But in fact it is seen that laws exist anyway. Instead of following God’s laws, man creates their own. The very same rebellion they offer to the author of all good things gets returned to them with the passage of time. Their influence gets forgotten entirely, showing that they are not anything like God.

[George Washington Bridge]You can take something as simple as a bridge to see how this works. To get to New Jersey from New York in America, you can take the George Washington Bridge. There are other options, but this is a popular one, especially for trucks. As this passage is important for commerce, it is not surprising to find the George Washington Bridge crammed with traffic on a daily basis. It takes only one time of being stuck in this traffic to swear off the bridge forever.

“I’m never taking that bridge again. Don’t even mention the name George Washington to me. It brings up bad memories. I’ll never forget that time I was stuck on that bridge for three hours. It was a nightmare. I’d rather take any other route to get to New Jersey. Or better yet, I’ll avoid going to New Jersey altogether if I can.”

In another instance, you have a school called Thomas Jefferson High School. The children who pass through it thus associate the name with an important time in their life. Whenever they hear the name “Thomas Jefferson” they immediately think of school, which then conjures up either good or bad feelings.

If you get enough generations removed, likely the people won’t even know who Thomas Jefferson and George Washington are. Yet at one time both were very important. They helped to create a new nation, lending support to two very important documents: the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Though both were very much believers in God, through their adventures we see that new laws were created. A new system of government emerged.

[Thomas Jefferson]In fact, that is the case everywhere, since time immemorial. Great leaders made laws for their communities, and these leaders were considered very important. Even the biggest atheist must follow some laws. Since they don’t identify with an authority source like a sacred text, they try to make their own rules. And yet with enough time passing, their influence gets diminished. The same way that they discounted the Supreme Lord in their own time, after a while others forget about them. Future generations associate their name with a building, a highway, or some landmark. This means that the laws created are not perfect. If they were, then the creators would always get the credit. They would always be remembered for what they did. Instead, the opposite happens. The laws always change, and so in the name of progress the original authors have their statures diminished.

The laws coming from the Supreme Lord never change. One law is that there must be death after birth. If you want to know why people die, look no further than birth. As soon as you emerge from the womb of your mother, you must die. It usually happens many years later, but it will happen nonetheless. Another law says that the living entity is born into delusion, bewildered by the dualities of desire and hate.

dvandva-mohena bhārata
sarva-bhūtāni sammohaṁ
sarge yānti parantapa

“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)

[pizza]Desire and hate fluctuate. They are never fixed. One day I love pizza and the next I don’t even want to see it. One day I love someone and the next I’m running away from them. This law has applied since the beginning of time. It will continue to apply into the future.

Another law states that the escape from the dualities of desire and hate comes from purifying consciousness. No more distractions. No more hankering after things you want and lamenting over that which you don’t have. No more calling one person your friend and another your enemy. No more wondering why you were put on this earth. No more thinking that you can solve every problem yourself, that you have the answers through your limited experience in life.

anta-kāle ca mām eva
smaran muktvā kalevaram
yaḥ prayāti sa mad-bhāvaṁ
yāti nāsty atra saṁśayaḥ

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

[Lord Krishna]The purity in consciousness gets measured at the time of death. What you think of while quitting the body is what you’ll get in the next life. Sort of like the life flashing before your eyes concept, your consciousness configured through the experiences of the present lifetime dictates where you will end up next. If you think of God, you don’t take birth again. Without birth, there cannot be death. Without birth there cannot be duality. You don’t have to make up laws anymore, looking for perfection that is impossible to find without the hand of the Divine.

The Bhagavad-gita gives access to these perfect laws of God and more. Those laws withstand the test of time, and so any person who adheres to them, understanding them through the help of someone who follows them, will get the benefit of remembering the person whose influence never diminishes.

In Closing:

Against laws of God defiance,

Then on flawed mind reliance.


New laws from leaders famed,

With time known only by landmark named.


Supreme Lord’s influence never to diminish,

His laws remaining valid from start to finish.


Wherever mind, following laws a must,

Better if in flawless being to trust.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

The One With The Main Event

[Krishna's lotus feet]“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)

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Maya is the illusory potency coming from the other world. The proprietor of that realm beyond our vision is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. If the word “God” offends you then you can take the same person to be the origin of everything. He is the beginning to the beginning and the end past the last end. Through His energy known as maya we forget Him. In fact, we forget so many things, sometimes on purpose.

Rajiv was explaining maya to his friend one day. He was trying to get the point across that maya is so strong that even when people know something is staged, they still get emotionally invested. Rajiv reminded his friend of the many times they would get excited over watching an action movie and how their wives would tear up at the end of a film that they liked. To further underscore his point, Rajiv told a story from his childhood.

As with most other male children of that time, I was very much into professional wrestling. I couldn’t get enough of it. As excited as you get to watch game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals today, I would get that excited to watch wrestling. I remember that during those years, they had two syndicated shows that aired on the weekends. I watched them religiously, but nothing much happened. It was highlights and the sort. Mostly it was the good wrestlers easily defeating these guys you never heard of.

[Saturday Night's Main Event]But there was this one show that was different. It was called Saturday Night’s Main Event. It aired during the late night time slot on Saturday nights on the NBC television network. Though the show Saturday Night Live usually filled that time slot, since I was so young I thought it was the other way around. I thought Saturday Night Live was the show that got in the way of Saturday Night’s Main Event. So I would get very excited for my show to come on; I would hope that every week they would show a commercial for the show. I think it only came on a few times a year though.

Saturday Night’s Main Event had the best wrestlers going against each other. I could especially see Hulk Hogan, who was my favorite at the time. His fans were called Hulkamaniacs, and I was definitely one of them. I don’t remember too much about these matches, but I remember one time he was involved in a steel cage match. I don’t remember who it was against, but I distinctly recall how afraid I was. Hogan was the champion, and in these matches it always looked like he was going to lose.

We would watch these matches as a family, and everyone would get into it. Of course years later I came to know for certain that the results to these matches were fixed. The moves were real; the people were real; just there was a script. People would tell me that when I was a kid, but I couldn’t believe them entirely. Anyway, I was so nervous watching these matches. And so many people who knew the matches were fixed were at the venue anyway. They were mostly cheering on Hogan. My parents also didn’t ruin the fun for me; they would ask me how Hogan was doing.

Looking back on it now, this gives one side to maya, or illusion. Maya covers our actual knowledge. Sometimes we want that knowledge to be covered, especially when it comes to our inevitable death. From observing others, we know that we are destined to die. Some day we will be on the verge of quitting our body, of leaving everything behind. And yet we act today like it will never happen.

Rajiv then explained to his friend how maya does not act on God. “Maya comes from God, who is all-knowledgeable. When the veil of illusion gets removed one can see things clearly. They see each person for who they are, spirit soul. They see the timeline of the human being as an opportunity for recovering their true knowledge and working towards reaching the best destination: association with God.”

[Lord Krishna]Rajiv told his friend that in this world there is illusion on top of illusion. “At the time of birth we mistakenly identify with our body, and then throughout our journey we forget so many things. We see things the wrong way due to intoxication as well. This incredibly powerful illusion can only be orchestrated by God, and so one who gets His favor can easily transcend it. They get His favor best through bhakti-yoga, or devotional service, which can start today with the routine of chanting the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.”

In Closing:

Scripted match, the outcome set,

Still the fans very nervous to get.


Illusion with illusion again on top,

No wonder then real knowledge there is not.


Elevate through master of all finding,

And no more through reincarnation grinding.


With love and attention call His names,

At end of life to give you nature the same.