Saturday, November 15, 2014

Where To Find Damodara

[Damodara]“To the Supreme Lord, whose form embodies eternity, knowledge, and bliss, whose earrings swing to and fro, who shines beautifully in Gokula, who quickly ran from the grinding mortar in fear of mother Yashoda, and who was caught from behind by her, who ran faster than He - to that Supreme Lord, Shri Damodara, I offer my humble obeisances.” (Shri Damodarashtaka, 1)

namāmīśvaraḿ sac-cid-ānanda-rūpaḿ
lasat-kuṇḍalaḿ gokule bhrājamanam
yaśodā-bhiyolūkhalād dhāvamānaḿ
parāmṛṣṭam atyantato drutya gopyā

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There are many people to whom we can offer praise and respect. Some are not even real, like the superheroes the children dress up as for Halloween. Some are television and movie stars, and others are things of legend. In the realm of spirituality, there are many important personalities who have done amazing things throughout the years. In the month of Kartika, a special mother takes center stage, and she gets love and respect for once doing something very unique: the time she ran faster than God and caught Him.

She ran out of love and she caught Him due to His will. Nothing happens without His sanction first. The Vedic tradition is famous for its many gods. If you want a son, worship this person. If you want to do well on your big exam in school, worship this other person. If you want good fortune for the upcoming year, on a particular day follow this specific ritual. Though there are distinct personalities worshiped, there is one guiding hand that must sanction everything first. Not surprisingly, He is God, the one and original.

sa tayā śraddhayā yuktas
tasyārādhanam īhate
labhate ca tataḥ kāmān
mayaiva vihitān hi tān

“Endowed with such a faith, he seeks favors of a particular demigod and obtains his desires. But in actuality these benefits are bestowed by Me alone.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.22)

In the material world, many things seem to take place almost automatically. When we put our two hands together with some force, there is the resulting sound known as a clap. Reproducing the action creates the same reaction. We don’t think there is a higher force involved in this, but there is. The superior nature must cooperate. The intelligent creator made this law in the first place; we simply discovered it after the fact.

And yet the original God does not take an interest in such matters. His expansion known as the material energy manages these reactions. He still gets the credit, since He is the ultimate source of everything, but one wouldn’t say that God appeared before them and made the sound of a clap happen.

[Mother Yashoda with Krishna]This famous mother is known as Yashoda, and the time she ran it was out of love. She chased after a manifest version of God. This version is the original, who appears in the material realm from time to time. There is no difference between spiritual and material for Him. We only make the distinction here for accuracy’s sake. The land of Gokula is in our earthly realm, which goes through creation and destruction in cycles. There is the devastation of fire in between that wipes the slate clean, and then after a certain number of cycles all the planets themselves get destroyed and recreated.

Yashoda gets praise for running after God, who allowed her to catch Him. He is not very easy to catch. Everyone is searching for Him. The praise offered to the mundane is an indication of this. The individual looks for someone to whom to offer worship, not knowing that the person they are meant to worship is always with them, residing in the heart. This is God’s expansion known as the Supersoul. So the search continues until the real God is found, with love and hate mixing in between along with birth and death.

The people who are somewhat spiritually inclined also try to catch God. They follow a specific tradition inherited from their ancestors, and yet they still don’t know much about Him. They don’t know what He looks like, where He lives, why He creates and destroys things, why He allows good and bad to happen, or what to call Him. Left in the dark, they resort to offering affection to pets, friends, family members, celebrities and the like, just as the non-spiritually inclined do.

Then there are those who take spiritual life very seriously. They try to meditate on God. They give up everything. They choose a life free of distractions. They repeat the sacred syllable of om day and night. They no longer want material things. They desire to be desireless. They hope that through this dedication they will one day catch God.

[Damodara with mother Yashoda]Yet Yashoda caught Him without so much effort. He was in His beautiful form of Damodara. While Rama is found in Ayodhya, Vishnu in Shvetadvipa, Varaha in the lower planetary region, and Krishna Himself in Goloka Vrindavana, Damodara is only found in Yashoda’s home. He is the same Krishna, given the special name due to being tied to a mortar as punishment for having broken a pot belonging to Yashoda.

Is this not a little harsh? Shouldn’t the mother have forgiven her son? Actually, her chasing after Him was in good fun. She did not tie Him very tightly, but just enough to keep Him within her sights. More importantly, Krishna allowed this to happen. He gave Yashoda the honor to give birth to the name and form of Damodara. During the Kartika month every year devotees celebrate that sweet pastime by singing the Damodarashtaka, giving praise to the spiritually fleet of foot mother.

In Closing:

Damodara only with Yashoda found,

By her ropes of affection He’s bound.


In world no other place,

To find that darling face.


The mother to catch Him with ease,

Since her pure devotion He sees.


Unique form of God, like no other,

Forever glorious the loving mother.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Things To Fear

[Damodara]“To the Supreme Lord, whose form embodies eternity, knowledge, and bliss, whose earrings swing to and fro, who shines beautifully in Gokula, who quickly ran from the grinding mortar in fear of mother Yashoda, and who was caught from behind by her, who ran faster than He - to that Supreme Lord, Shri Damodara, I offer my humble obeisances.” (Shri Damodarashtaka, 1)

namāmīśvaraḿ sac-cid-ānanda-rūpaḿ
lasat-kuṇḍalaḿ gokule bhrājamanam
yaśodā-bhiyolūkhalād dhāvamānaḿ
parāmṛṣṭam atyantato drutya gopyā

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The question may be raised, “What kinds of fear does God instill upon the innumerable children under His subjection?” But there is a flaw in the premise, as the fear is not purposefully instilled. Nevertheless, there is fear at every turn in the material world, and in the Vedas the causes for that fear get grouped into three categories.

It should be understood that the fears arise from birth itself. At birth there is an attachment formed. I accept a brand new body. I wear it for the first time, and I have to remain in it for some time. I’m not sure exactly how long. Immediately, that is a source for fear. When will I leave? Will I get to stay in it as long as my parents have? When will they leave their bodies? What will happen to me after that? How will I go on?

Death is the eventual destination for everyone, so it is naturally the greatest thing to fear. In the Ramayana, Shri Ramachandra, the Supreme Lord, the creator of this and every other universe, says that for the mature human being there is no other fear than death. He compares it to the ripened fruit on the tree, which has nothing else to wait for but falling to the ground.

“Just as the ripened fruit has no other fear than falling, the man who has taken birth has no other fear than death.” (Lord Rama, Valmiki Ramayana, Ayodhya Kand, 105.17)

[Hanging fruit]In between birth and death, there are three kinds of forces which bring about fear. There is mother nature. Think of hurricanes, earthquakes, blizzards, and the like. These are not pleasant. Even something as simple as a small rainstorm can wreak havoc, annoying commuters rushing to work to make it on time. As these events cause misery, they are to be feared.

Then there is the force known as the body. Within the body there is the mind. So this body, though ours for the present time, can give us discomfort through disease. The mind, through worry and panic, also causes us much anxiety. We should not really worry about anything, since we already know how everything eventually ends. Still, due to the influence of the mind we get upset over things. Disease from within attacks as well, and therefore we think we have good reason to fear.

The third force is other living entities. It would be great to live in peace, but that is not the case. Not everyone is nice. Not everyone respects property belonging to others. Not everyone knows that cheating to get ahead is a bad idea. So wherever we go we have other living entities with whom to contend. Even if we live in an isolated area like a cave, we might get attacked by snakes.

A teaching unique to the Vedic tradition is that God appears and disappears within His creation many times. Whenever He feels like it actually, but in the Bhagavad-gita He says that He chooses to descend whenever there is a decline in religious practice and a rise in irreligion.

yadā yadā hi dharmasya
glānir bhavati bhārata
abhyutthānam adharmasya
tadātmānaṁ sṛjāmy aham

“Whenever and wherever there is a decline in religious practice, O descendant of Bharata, and a predominant rise of irreligion-at that time I descend Myself.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.7)

[Krishna stealing butter]When He descends, He doesn’t always look the same. Not everyone knows who He is, either. He appears to be under the influence of the three causes of fear, but in fact He is not. He removes everyone’s fear, sometimes cleverly. In Vrindavana a long time ago, He ran away from mother Yashoda in fear. He had broken a pot of yogurt that was being churned into butter. He knew that she knew that He was the culprit. So He ran away afraid, thinking that she would punish Him.

That incident is one source of relief for the wise. Those who fear the material existence and the cycle of birth and death try to remember that incident. In the month of Kartika, which is based on the lunar calendar, devotees sing a song in honor of that incident. They glorify God in His form of Damodara for having ran away in fear. They remember how the mother chased Him and eventually caught Him.

[Damodara with mother Yashoda]Catching Him is the way to escape the clutches of rebirth. As soon as there is birth, there must be death. As soon as there is death, there must be fear. Krishna, the Supreme Lord who roamed the land of Vrindavana and got the name Damodara for being tied to a mortar in punishment by Yashoda, removes fear since He removes death. One who remembers Him while exiting this body never has to take birth again. Moreover, even while living in any type of body, by remembering Him they no longer fear anything, for they know He plays with those who love Him. He is happy among them, and since He can do anything, He can protect them from all kinds of danger.

In Closing:

Over death certainly to fear,

Since this body to me now dear.


Hurricanes and earthquakes coming,

Through disease weaker becoming.


One person all sources to drive away,

Breaking Yashoda’s yogurt pot made of clay.


Catch Him and by His protection be draped,

Who from mother’s affection could never escape.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Where Does God Shine

[Damodara]“To the Supreme Lord, whose form embodies eternity, knowledge, and bliss, whose earrings swing to and fro, who shines beautifully in Gokula, who quickly ran from the grinding mortar in fear of mother Yashoda, and who was caught from behind by her, who ran faster than He - to that Supreme Lord, Shri Damodara, I offer my humble obeisances.” (Shri Damodarashtaka, 1)

namāmīśvaraḿ sac-cid-ānanda-rūpaḿ
lasat-kuṇḍalaḿ gokule bhrājamanam
yaśodā-bhiyolūkhalād dhāvamānaḿ
parāmṛṣṭam atyantato drutya gopyā

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Maha-tejah in Sanskrit means “highly-resplendent.” Think of an object that glistens. Think of something that gives off light. It is amazing what one small bulb can do. Nighttime baseball is possible through lights that are not significant in number. A few of them put together in the right places and you have enough light to be able to see a baseball coming at you at 100 mph, with different spins.

[Night baseball]If you could take the most resplendent object in the world, put it in a place where it would shine everywhere, you get some idea of the light capable of being emitted by the Supreme Lord. The first thought that comes to mind is the sun. It shines throughout the universe. We see it right now in the western hemisphere, and in the eastern hemisphere there are some remnants of it. The sun is the same in both places. The sun is so powerful that it gives life to the plants. It provides heat and it evaporates the puddles left over from the previous day’s rain.

God is more resplendent than the sun. He is the light of the sun, actually. Without Him there would be no universe. That universe would be in darkness were it not for His providing the life to the great luminous object that is the sun. The light of the moon is also due to Him.

raso 'ham apsu kaunteya
prabhāsmi śaśi-sūryayoḥ
praṇavaḥ sarva-vedeṣu
śabdaḥ khe pauruṣaṁ nṛṣu

“O son of Kunti [Arjuna], I am the taste of water, the light of the sun and the moon, the syllable om in the Vedic mantras; I am the sound in ether and ability in man.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.8)

The sun is not approachable; we cannot get too close to it. This gives an indication of how strong its light is. Is it the same way with the origin of all light? If His splendor is greater than the sun’s, does it not mean that we must stay far away from Him? Since He is completely spiritual in nature, the light He gives off is different. The closer one gets to Him, the more they are able to see past the splendor that amazes those in the material world.

na tad bhāsayate sūryo
na śaśāṅko na pāvakaḥ
yad gatvā na nivartante
tad dhāma paramaṁ mama

“That abode of Mine is not illumined by the sun or moon, nor by electricity. One who reaches it never returns to this material world.” (Lord Krishna, Bg. 15.6)

In the spiritual land there is no need for electricity. The splendor from God creates the necessary light, and He shines wherever He goes. That shine is not a blinding one. Instead it is very soothing, and it increases the happiness in the heart. To see how this works, we can look to the descriptions of the transcendental body of the Supreme Lord provided in the Damodarashtaka.

[Krishna decorated]The phrase of note is “gokule bhrajamanam.” Krishna shines beautifully in the land of Gokula. This Gokula is actually a spiritual land found within our material world. How can you have the spiritual within the material? Is that not a contradiction? Inside of this body that is always changing and destined to die is a vital force that never ceases to be. Within matter is spirit. Without spirit, matter cannot do anything.

If individual fragments of spirit can appear within a world full of matter, then why can’t the Supreme Spirit as well? When He appears in His original form of Shri Krishna, He spends His childhood years in the sacred land of Gokula. There He shines beautifully, not needing anything extra on His body. Wherever He goes He provides this light. Even when He is running away from the punishment coming from His mother, He shines very beautifully.

This light is soothing. It is warm and inviting. It carries forth through words as well. The description from the Damodarashtaka brings that same light to the person who hears attentively. Krishna shines in Gokula because that’s where the people who love Him the most live. Gokula is the replica area of the spiritual land known as Goloka. Goloka is the origin of the universe, the land that remains the same, not affected by the influence of time. There the self-effulgent Krishna keeps everyone in the light of transcendental bliss.

[Damodara with Yashoda]In Gokula He breaks a pot of yogurt in order to draw the ire of His affectionate mother. Yashoda chases Him with determination, and Krishna reveals where He is through His natural effulgence. That same effulgence is in the works that describe Him and in the very name used to address Him. The name Damodara references His being tied to a mortar by Yashoda as punishment. The name Krishna says that He is all-attractive, that His maha-tejah feature allows Him to shine forth wherever there is pure devotion.

The name “Krishna” is prominent in the maha-mantra: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. Chanting this mantra creates a small version of Gokula within the immediately surrounding area. From the name itself, Krishna shines beautifully, meaning that within the heart of the devotee there is tremendous light as well, dissipating the darkness of ignorance.

In Closing:

In Krishna’s home for light no need,

From Him comes everything indeed.


Even in this wretched heart of mine,

Supreme Lord in glory can shine.


When love for Him there is,

Like in Gokula, that home of His.


Yashoda chasing Him and to mortar binding,

Beautiful Damodara in mother’s courtyard shining.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

God Is Beautiful

[Damodara]“To the Supreme Lord, whose form embodies eternity, knowledge, and bliss, whose earrings swing to and fro, who shines beautifully in Gokula, who quickly ran from the grinding mortar in fear of mother Yashoda, and who was caught from behind by her, who ran faster than He - to that Supreme Lord, Shri Damodara, I offer my humble obeisances.” (Shri Damodarashtaka, 1)

namāmīśvaraḿ sac-cid-ānanda-rūpaḿ
lasat-kuṇḍalaḿ gokule bhrājamanam
yaśodā-bhiyolūkhalād dhāvamānaḿ
parāmṛṣṭam atyantato drutya gopyā

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  1. Am I going to hell if I don’t worship God?
  2. Am I in trouble if I forget about Him?
  3. What if I tell a lie? Is that going to harm me? I’ve told so many lies already; I’m worried.
  4. Should I be afraid of God? I must admit, religion scares me.

As if inherently knowing that they are on the wrong track in life, the adult human being, controlled sometimes by a conscience, being consciously aware of the decisions they make, has concern for the afterlife. What they know they’ve only heard from religious leaders, whom they tend to fear. The Almighty to them is an old, mean and spiteful person. He sends locusts to your neighborhood if you are bad. He forces you to sacrifice things, and if you don’t listen to Him you get sent to an awful place to spend all of eternity. The Damodarashtaka has a different idea.

Consider this: God is beautiful. That is correct. We likely have some idea of beauty right now. We see someone of the opposite sex who enchants our mind. We see a painting in a museum that we can’t take our eyes off of. We climb a mountain and have our breath taken away by the view. The flowers someone gives to us as congratulations put is in a good mood.

[View from mountain top]God is the origin of everything. This means that He is the original artist. He has the most to express and the best ability to express it. This shows He has beauty on the inside. All that is good, all that you prefer, all that you are attached to - know that God creates it. He makes the bad things as well, but even that further increases the display of His artistic talent.

He is also beautiful on the outside. This dichotomy between inside and outside only exists for us. We have eyes. We need them to perceive objects. We can’t see what’s on the inside of someone. We need to hear their words. We need to see their actions. Then we can guess what they are thinking on the inside. Since we can see the outside, we can judge external beauty very quickly.

God’s beauty is indescribable. His body is not different from Him; whereas our body is always changing. Since we were once small infants, it means that the infant body cannot identify us. At the time, people considered us babies, but now we are older. There is a difference between body and identity. Spirit soul is what identifies us.

God’s spirit and body are identical. That body is for the external vision. That body is eternal, knowledgeable and blissful. Since it is all-attractive, one way to address it is Krishna. It is that Krishna whom the Damodarashtaka of Satyavrata Muni describes.

[Damodara with mother Yashoda]The name of the work means “eight verses to describe Damodara.” Damodara is another name for God. It references the time He was bound to a mortar from the belly. This is a very odd way to picture God, is it not? Why would He be bound to anything? If He is eternal, does it not mean that time has no influence upon Him? Time is the great destroyer. No one can escape the clutches of time, which annihilates everyone through old age and death.

Damodara is also beautiful. This is what it means to have a spiritual body. God bound to a mortar from the belly is so beautiful that sages write songs in glorification of the image. Shri Krishna, the all-attractive Lord, appeared in the sacred land of Vrindavana as a small child. In play, He one time broke the yogurt pot of mother Yashoda, who then punished Him by tying Him to a mortar. God is all-powerful, so He allowed for this to happen.

Damodara is beautiful externally, and He is beautiful in His dealings with the people who love Him. He will do anything for them, in fact. He will stand in their courtyard and pretend to get punished. He will break their pots so that they remember Him while running after Him. He pretends to cry so that wise poets, whose hearts melt over the incident, document everything in beautiful song. He makes sure that beautiful song gets sung especially in the month of Kartika, which brings extra auspiciousness in devotional activities, bhakti-yoga. Through this pastime, Shri Damodara shows that God is a beautiful person who no one need fear, provided they know Him to some degree.

In Closing:

Is God someone to fear,

Should not to me be dear?


Of these things I don’t know,

Where after this life will I go?


For from doubts to be clear,

Sacred Damodarashtaka hear.


In Yashoda’s courtyard He’s found,

Where by ropes of devotion He’s bound.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Sight Connected To Hearing

[Rama's lotus feet]“O Rama, those eyes which do not fill to the brim with tears upon hearing the great glories of Yours should be filled and rubbed with fistfuls of dust.” (Dohavali, 45)

rahaiṃ na jala bhari puri rāma sujasa suni rāvaro |
tina ā'kina meṃ dhūri bhari bhari mū।thī meliye ||

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Goswami Tulsidas here continues with his very kind sentiments directed to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The ishta-deva is the deity of choice. God is not limited to one form. The “Bhagavan” term used to address Him thus references Godhead; God can appear in many ways. As many waves as there are in the ocean, that is how many different incarnations appear in the world we presently inhabit. This doesn’t mean that God is everyone and that any person can be the ishta-deva. Rama is an authorized form described in great detail in Vedic literature. Upon hearing His glories, the devoted souls well up with tears. With so much love for Rama, Tulsidas wonders what a person who lacks this response from hearing would do with their eyes.

Eyes are used to see. This only makes sense. If you fill the eyes with dust and rub them with your hands, you obviously won’t be able to see very well. You’ll also be in pain and discomfort. Why should someone have this happen to them? Tulsidas does not reference seeing in this couplet. Seeing is a different matter, as the manifest world brings illusion at every turn. I can mistake a rope for a snake, so how strong is my power of seeing anyway?

Hearing, on the other hand, has less defects. If there is a lot going on, you can’t hear the thing you’re concentrating on. You need silence. Since your hearing requires this clarity, what goes into your ears gets retained longer. You aren’t as fooled by what you hear, either. Tulsidas says that the tears in the eyes should come from hearing. And what exactly should be heard? Rama’s supreme glory, which is actually endless.

This means that we don’t need to see God. We need only hear about Him. The response from that hearing will determine our purity in consciousness. If the proper response isn’t there, it means that we don’t know God very well. Perhaps we don’t believe in Him. Likely we are still enamored by what we see. We probably insist on visual evidence for everything, even though authenticity in so many aspects of life does not depend on sight. We know which band is playing on the radio by sound. The display in the stereo can be incorrect. It can say something else, but we know which band is playing by using our ears.

[music player app]We know if a rose is nearby based on the smell. We know if we are eating pizza based on the taste. Certainly we can use the eyes to see God, but since we use the eyes to give praise to those who are not so worthy of it, how can the eyes properly recognize the divine influence? Indeed, the very presence of life indicates the hand of the divine. With the proper eyes, one can see God all the time, at every step.

Hearing is superior when connecting with the Supreme Lord, and there are ways to tell if the hearing is bringing that connection. For Tulsidas, a famous Vaishnava poet from the medieval period in India, one of the indications is tears in the eyes upon hearing the glories. Since Rama has sujasa, or supreme glory, it means that He is not impersonal. He is not a void. He is not a light. Voidness is a concept belonging to a land of duality. Sad is the opposite of happy. Short is the opposite of tall. Similarly, emptiness is the opposite of fullness. These dualities don’t exist in God because He is never lacking anything. He can show a light that lacks features, but since that light comes from Him it means that He is not without features.

[Lord Rama]What if we don’t have this reaction to hearing Rama’s glories? What if we don’t believe that Rama is God? What if we prefer to worship a less defined deity? Should we fill our eyes with dust? The hyperbole here is a tool of the poet to express strong emotion. He feels very strongly about bhakti, devotion to God in His personal form. This couplet is a way to urge others to hear about God and make their lives meaningful. Fortunately, that sound is so potent that hearing and chanting it on a regular basis can fix every aspect to our body, including our eyes. That sound comes today in a great sequence of words to be secured by one and all, the devoted and the non-devoted alike. That great sequence delivers all, not taking into consideration the varying starting points. Thus any person can be delivered through hearing: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

In Closing:

Sound for favorite band to hear,

Smell to know that rose is near.


Sight not the option lone,

For understanding of God to own.


When tears not in eyes from glory’s sound,

Why have them, fill instead with dust from ground.


Hyperbole from Dohavali of Tulsidas,

Of hearing, meant to get point across.


From sound Supreme Lord to see,

Easy since endless glories has He.

Monday, November 10, 2014

When Crying Is A Good Thing

[Rama's lotus feet]“Tulsi says, ‘O Rama, if the eyes don’t shed tears of love when hearing of your glory, it is better not to give them; or just make them blind.” (Dohavali, 44)

sravai na salila sanehu tulasī suni raghubīra jasa |
te nayanā jani dehu rāma karahu baru ā'dharo ||

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“Real men don’t cry.” We have likely heard this before. For women, crying is permitted. Indeed, sometimes it is used as a weapon. The man is so uncomfortable with a woman crying that at the first sign of tears he’ll give in to her requests. Whatever she wants, he’ll do, provided that she stop crying. From this verse from the Dohavali, Goswami Tulsidas says that eyes are there for crying especially when there is a specific sound that goes into the ears. If the stream of tears is absent, Tulsidas would rather not have eyes in the first place.

The following situation once played out on an episode of the American television sitcom, Everybody Loves Raymond, and it is not difficult to envision. You’re late for work one day. You’re rushing to gather your things, and you finally make it out the door. A few minutes into your journey, you realize that you’ve forgotten something important at home. So you head back, but before you open the door, you take a quick peek through the window.

You see your wife sitting in the living room. This isn’t out of the ordinary, but you notice that she’s crying. In fact, she’s bawling. You have no idea what’s going on. You wait a few minutes before going back in. You don’t run into her, but for the rest of the day you can’t stop thinking about what you saw. “Is she upset with me? Did somebody yell at her? Maybe she’s just sad about life. What can I do to cheer her up?”

Not able to figure out what happened after a few days, you finally question her on it. Her response surprises you.

“So you just watched me through the window? What is wrong with you? No, I wasn’t angry with you; though I can’t say the same now. There was nothing wrong. Sometimes I like to cry. It makes me feel good. I put on some sad music, sit there, and after a few minutes the tears start streaming.”

Though it may be difficult to understand, tears do not have to be rooted in negative emotions. In the highest state of devotional ecstasy, there are always tears. Here a famous Vaishnava poet says that tears should come from hearing of the glory of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The name used here is Raghuvira, which means “hero of the Raghu dynasty.”

[Lord Rama]This dynasty ruled the earth a very long time ago. We get the names of the kings in that dynasty from Vedic literature. The most famous of those kings was Shri Ramachandra, who is also considered to be an incarnation of God. Ramachandra, also known as Rama, is the deity of choice, ishta-deva, for Goswami Tulsidas. Rama is the hero of that dynasty because He did extraordinary things. In fact, no one else can do what He did; another reason that He is God. He is also the supreme deity based on what authority figures say. The incarnation cannot be made up after the fact, and Rama’s divinity was described even before His descent to this world.

The tears should be due to love; not fear. There is the impending death to worry over. We will have to leave the body we call home right now. That is pretty scary to think about. All the deaths we see on television - the same thing will happen to us one day. The manner may not be the same, but the end result will be identical. This is cause for fear, but it shouldn’t be. The same Rama in His original form of Krishna says that the soul never dies. He tells Arjuna in the Bhagavad-gita that dying is like taking off clothes; it is nothing to worry about.

vāsāṁsi jīrṇāni yathā vihāya
navāni gṛhṇāti naro 'parāṇi
tathā śarīrāṇi vihāya jīrṇāny
anyāni saṁyāti navāni dehī

“As a person puts on new garments, giving up old ones, similarly, the soul accepts new material bodies, giving up the old and useless ones.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.22)

As death is guaranteed, every part of the body is in our possession temporarily. We have these eyes right now; we should use them for something. Obviously we use them to see. Tulsidas says that the sight isn’t so important. It is the stream of tears that indicates whether or not our eyes are being used properly. When he hears the glory of Raghuvira, he cries tears. If these tears are absent, he thinks that he does not have pure devotion, and so he doesn’t want to have eyes.

[Lord Rama]This is a very nice thing to say to God. It means that the devotee doesn’t want anything else. They are not after money. They are not after their own fame. They want every part of their body to be used for devotional service, the highest engagement for man. “Real men” may not cry, but the devoted soul who has reached life’s ultimate achievement certainly does. They cry all the time, and they are not embarrassed by it.

In Closing:

Not to cry are men,

When tears flow what then?


To consider them to be weak,

But not when life’s goal they meet.


When sound of Hari’s glories to go,

Into ears, tears from eyes to flow.


For Tulsidas eyes having no other use,

For Rama devotees crying tears profuse.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Making A Positive Impact

[Vishnu's lotus feet]“The heart which does not melt upon hearing of the glories of Hari is like stone. The tongue which does not sing the glories of Rama is like the croaking of a frog.” (Dohavali, 43)

h।rdaya so kulisa samāna jo na dravai hariguna sunata |
kara na rāma guna gāna jīha so dādura jīha sama ||

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Stop for a second. Record the current time. Have you done it? Now go back exactly ten years. Where were you? What were you doing? What was your life like? Think about the circumstances and try to remember what things occupied your mind back then. Try to remember what you used to talk about on a regular basis. Goswami Tulsidas says that the tongue and the heart should act in a certain way. If they don’t, then it’s like not having them at all. When the proper reaction to something specific is missing in the heart, it’s like having a heart made of stone. When the tongue isn’t used for talking about a specific person, then you might as well be croaking like a frog.

If you can’t remember what you used to talk about a long time ago, it likely means that the subject matter wasn’t very important. The current age in Sanskrit is known as Kali. The duration of the manifest world gets divided into four periods for analytical purposes. The people might be the same, the species might be the same, but the overall atmosphere for living changes. The first age is pure, where virtue represented as a table stands on four legs. With each successive age, virtue loses a leg.

As Kali is the fourth age, virtue can barely stand up. Right and wrong are up for grabs. Seizing upon the opportunity, the countless human beings on the earth now argue over anything and everything. Even the most innocuous statement brings detractors. If I say something like, “I enjoy eating ice cream,” I invite negative sentiments.

“Well, do you know that ice cream kills? It has so much fat and sugar. If you eat the fat-free variety, then you’re loading up on sugar. You’ll get diabetes. You are proud that you like ice cream, but you’re really just leading people down the wrong path. You disgust me.”

[ice cream]Television programs now have a formula: instigate debate. Take two people and put them on the air at the same time. Have them discuss a particular issue. The participants must disagree to some degree; otherwise there is no point to having them on the air. Yet this is all like the croaking of a frog; it has no value for the human being. There is no conclusion reached, and after a while the topic changes. The previous debate was to pass the time only.

If someone were to tell you that you’re getting a brand new computer today and that it will run for exactly ten years, you might get excited. But then if you only used the computer as decoration for your office, you didn’t really get much use out of it. You knew that due to the makeup, the internals, it would only last a certain time, yet you didn’t take full advantage.

The heart and the tongue are like this. They will leave us eventually. It’s more accurate to say that we will eventually leave them. We’re destined to give up the body we accepted at the time of birth. Therefore to misuse things like the tongue is not very wise. Tulsidas says that the best way to use the tongue is to sing the glories of Rama. Seems like a random thing to say, for why shouldn’t we sing about someone else? Why shouldn’t we sing about our troubles in romance? Why Rama over everyone else? The poet also says that the heart should melt upon hearing the glories of Hari. So he mentions Hari and Rama. We’re supposed to be attached to both of them, it seems. Are they two different personalities? Why not sing the glories of Hari and have our heart melt at hearing about the glories of Rama?

The two are indeed the same person. They are just different names for addressing the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Since He has glories to hear about, He is a distinct person. I can’t say that I am Hari and that the heart should melt upon hearing about me. There would be no reason to state that. Since He has glories to sing about, it means that in spiritual life one should be active. Hearing is passive and singing is active. These are two principal methods of bhakti-yoga. Known as shravanam and kirtanam in Sanskrit, they alone provide the best use of the body given by nature.

Since the heart should melt upon hearing Hari’s glories, Hari is not a vengeful, angry or old person. He is beautiful in every way, including in how He acts. There is much to hear about. He has done so much. He continues to shower His mercy upon all. He has come to this earth many times. The Vedas, the oldest scriptural tradition in the world, prove that God exists. They include eye-witness accounts of Hari’s deeds. From the content itself, we have proof that the Vedas are real. The reaction of the heart to hearing Hari’s glories means that Hari is someone unique.

[Lord Rama]The tongue that sings and describes the glories of Rama, the incarnation of Hari who roamed this earth in the second time period of creation, further substantiates the existence of God. That existence is meant for our benefit. There is nothing to gain by denying His presence. There is no use to the tongue, the mind, the heart, or the other body parts when there is no consciousness of Rama. This valuable human life is meant for connecting with Him, for giving happiness even before the afterlife. There is no need to wait for heaven after death when there is so much happiness right now to get. That happiness comes automatically for one who hears and chants: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

In Closing:

Since this body from nature to get,

On what course of action should be set?


The secret Tulsidas knows,

The path his writing shows.


Tongue to sing and the ears to hear,

God all-attractive, not one to fear.


Hari, Rama or your name of choice,

Be conscious of Him, in His glories rejoice.