Saturday, December 6, 2014

Talking About A Slow News Day

[Krishna dancing on Kaliya]“Descriptions of Krishna’s eternal pastimes are in all revealed scriptures. But one cannot understand how they are continuing eternally.” (Chaitanya Charitamrita, Madhya 20.385)

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nitya-līlā' kṛṣṇera sarva-śāstre kaya
bujhite nā pāre līlā kemane 'nitya' haya

Friend1: What’s going on?

Friend2: Nothing new here. How about you?

Friend1: It’s been a pretty slow news day, both on the home front and in the world.

Friend2: Pretty much every day is the same for me. Get up, do the routine, go to work, come home, eat, and then slowly get ready for going to bed.

Friend1: These newspapers must have a hard time finding things to write, especially when the Congress is out of session.

Friend2: August is particularly tough. I think that’s why we see so much celebrity news now. Someone was spotted eating at a restaurant. That is a news story. Someone has lost a few pounds or someone has packed on a few. Let’s write about it.

Friend1: And those stories are so trivial. They have no value whatsoever.

[Prabhupada]Friend2: It makes you appreciate someone like His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada all the more. He could give you news every day, even if you thought nothing had happened.

Friend1: That seems to be the way all the people who follow bhakti-yoga are, no?

Friend2: Yeah, there’s different reasons given. Obviously there is plenty of source material. The Bhagavad-gita has so many verses, and you can pick any one and talk about it for hours.

Friend1: I like that the verses have significance in any time period. It doesn’t matter what is going on around you, you can pick up the book and find a way to apply it to your life.

Friend2: That makes sense, if you think about it. It comes from Shri Krishna, who we’re told is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. If He wasn’t God, then His words would have limited meaning. They wouldn’t be able to make an impact on all.

Friend1: Since His words are unique, we know that there’s something different about Him. At least His words stand the test of time. They penetrate all social and language barriers. Therefore He must be Divine.

Friend2: And if you consider His spiritual home of Vrindavana, the news there is pretty boring by our accounts.

Friend1: Right, in that nothing really happens there. At least when He appears on earth in this Vrindavana, you get fights with the demons from Mathura. You get Krishna surviving the attack on the cart while He’s an infant. You get Putana losing her life while trying to feed Yashoda’s son poison. You get the prayers of the Nagapatnis after Krishna dances on the head of their husband, the Kaliya serpent.

[Krishna dancing on Kaliya]Friend2: Yup. The spiritual Vrindavana doesn’t have any conflict. If there was ever a hint of it, the instigating party would leave for our realm and only return once their desire to compete went away. There is only love in Vrindavana, and it makes sense that you can write endlessly about love.

Friend1: Do you think the gopis would ever complain about a slow news day? I don’t think so.

Friend2: Yeah, not a chance. Simply the sound from Krishna’s flute would give them something to talk about. They would discuss how beautiful that sound is, how it makes them forget where they are and what they are doing. They then would break into appreciation of the tree that supplied the wood to make the flute that Krishna played to steal their hearts. They would then extend the praise to the neighboring grass, which got to have the association of that amazing tree. Then the river would get credit too.

Friend1: The gopis are pretty amazing. I am very impressed by them.

Friend2: Their love for Krishna is beyond measure. They are true yogis, but they don’t even know it. They don’t think that they are practicing anything. Once your mind starts thinking of practice, there is a benefit that you’re looking for. The gopis don’t want any personal benefit. They simply love Krishna.

Friend1: And then there are Krishna’s friends. They play with Him every day in the beautiful forests.

Friend2: Don’t forget mother Yashoda and Nanda Maharaja.

Friend1: Balarama too. Krishna and Balarama make for the best brothers.

[Krishna and Balarama]Friend2: See, and we thought it was a slow news day.

Friend1: That’s a good point.

Friend2: Prabhupada would be able to speak about Krishna consciousness like this every single moment of the day. He wouldn’t have to prepare much beforehand, either.

Friend1: Brilliant in extemporaneous speech. If he were speaking of anything besides genuine spiritual life, you know that the news media and biography writers would study his life so much more.

Friend2: There’s no doubt about it. How many people are there in the world who can do what he did? Outside of the realm of bhakti it is impossible, since you rely on the news of the mundane world to provide your content.

Friend1: Yeah, there’s no such thing as a slow news day in the world of devotional service.

Friend2: There can’t be. If you’re always thinking of the all-attractive Krishna, you’re not missing anything. You can make your own news by remembering the beautiful Shyamasundara and His eternal consort Radhika and then discussing your thoughts.

Friend1: Sort of like what we’re doing now. I like it.

In Closing:

Nothing for me to say,

Slow is the news today.


On other happenings to rely,

Dependent on them am I.


Krishna’s pastimes happening all the time,

Can discuss flute’s sound, earring’s shine.


In bhakti something always there,

Never slow when of Krishna aware.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Talking About A Government To Solve Problems

[Krishna's lotus feet]“The Blessed Lord said: It is lust only, Arjuna, which is born of contact with the material modes of passion and later transformed into wrath, and which is the all-devouring, sinful enemy of this world.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 3.37)

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śrī-bhagavān uvāca

kāma eṣa krodha eṣa


mahāśano mahā-pāpmā

viddhy enam iha vairiṇam

Friend1: I think I’m getting tired of following politics.

Friend2: Why’s that?

Friend1: Nothing ever gets solved. There’s constant bickering.

Friend2: What are the latest issues?

Friend1: The same things. Some union thinks their workers should get paid more. The country’s unemployment rate is very high - people are looking for work. The illegal immigrants want legal status, and the rest of the citizens can’t understand why the immigration laws aren’t being enforced. One side is happy that we’re staying out of foreign conflicts and the other wishes that we’d intervene, for they think we can make a difference.

Friend2: Yup. Fast forward twenty years from now and it will be the same situation. Go back twenty years and you’ll see the newspapers of the time talking about the same stuff.

Friend1: I don’t understand. Why can’t they just solve problems?

Friend2: So you’re frustrated that the problems can’t be fixed by a group of legislators?

[House of Representatives]Friend1: I know what you’re going to say, that they are the ones causing the problems. But still, we elect these people to fix the obvious problems in the country. Why can’t they do that?

Friend2: Well, that’s a different discussion. We won’t go there right now. We know that the politicians have their own agenda. We know that they have personal interests to fulfill. Let’s keep with the issue of solving problems.

Friend1: Alright.

Friend2: The idea you have a problem-free world is impossible to create.

Friend1: Why is that?

Friend2: Think about it. What is your ideal situation?

Friend1: I don’t know.

Friend2: Let me throw some ideas out at you. Would you like it if everyone had a job?

Friend1: Yes, for sure.

Friend2: How about if people didn’t fight and cheat each other?

Friend1: That would be great.

Friend2: And how about the elimination of corruption within government? If the laws got enforced fairly and equally, that would make you happy.

Friend1: Most definitely.

[Lord Krishna]Friend2: Well, you’re forgetting about lust. In the Bhagavad-gita Shri Krishna says that this lust, known as kama in Sanskrit, is the great devourer. You can give everyone in the country a plot of land, a steady supply of food, and protection from foreign attack, but you wouldn’t solve the problem of lust.

Friend1: How so?

Friend2: Some people won’t be happy with what they have. They will need more. They will want to collect more. The people who are satisfied with what they have will be fine for a while, until they reach their breaking point. They will see others taking advantage and cheating the system and they will want in on it too.

Friend1: Like the people who try to pass off expired coupons?

Friend2: [laughing] Yes, something like that. The coupons are on the smaller scale and insider trading is on the larger, but the driving force is still the same: lust. If not for lust, how else do you explain people who already have so much money going to jail for committing fraud in order to increase their wealth by just a little bit? How do you explain people running insurance fraud schemes? How do you explain politicians going back on their promises?

Friend1: So you’re saying it’s hopeless? We shouldn’t even bother trying to fix the situation?

Friend2: I’m saying that until you tackle the problem of lust, from which greed is derived, you won’t solve anything. The root cause will always be there; hence the many wars in history. You had people living in a nation that suddenly changed hands. One country wanted to conquer another. And then the abused party decided that they would make sure that such aggression never took place again, only to fail shortly thereafter.

Friend1: So how do you conquer lust, especially if it’s so prevalent?

Friend2: Lust is due to ignorance. If I don’t know who I am, I won’t know how to find satisfaction. I won’t know what my real needs are.

Friend1: And those are?

Friend2: Service in spiritual life. I am spirit at the core. I have nothing to do with lust. Kama is the degraded form of prema or bhakti. Kama descends from prema, which actually never leaves me. In the ignorant state, my pure love for God gets distorted into lust. Think about it. If you had the best food served to you every day, would you be happy?

Friend1: I don’t know. I’m not sure.

Friend2: You wouldn’t. One day you would demand something else. And if you didn’t get it, you would be furious. Or, if one day your dish wasn’t made exactly how you wanted it at that moment, you would lose it. Previously you were so happy just to have that dish one time, and then suddenly that is not good enough.

Friend1: I see.

Friend2: So kama works in this way. Gratifying the senses is never enough; there is always a need for more. The desire to satisfy can get so strong that one intentionally breaks the rules. They stop caring about right and wrong, since right to them is whatever brings satisfaction.

Friend1: So how do I get prema back?

[Lord Krishna]Friend2: Bhakti-yoga. That is the only way to cure the disease of lust. Desire never completely leaves us; just its nature changes. Hrishikesha is one name for the Supreme Lord. It means the master of all senses. Since He has senses, God can be pleased. We can be the instruments of that pleasure, serving Him in our constitutional position.

Friend1: And how will that help society as a whole?

Friend2: One person at a time. If I can reduce my lust through chanting the holy names, then that’s one small victory. The person established in the eternal occupation of devotional service gives others the example to aspire to. Others wonder how the bhakta can remain so peaceful in the face of so much adversity. How can they be happy when there is seemingly nothing to be pleased over? These are the transformations that occur upon the removal of lust through entry into bhakti-yoga, the cure for all ailments.

In Closing:

So many problems there are,

Yet from solutions we seem far.


Why government answers not to give,

So that citizens in peace can live?


Says Krishna great devouring enemy is lust,

All under its sway, hardly anyone to trust.


In bhakti tackling problem’s root,

Better example for others to boot.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Talking About Equal Time

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

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yugāyitaṁ nimeṣeṇa
cakṣuṣā prāvṛṣāyitam
śūnyāyitaṁ jagat sarvaṁ
govinda-viraheṇa me

Friend1: Let me ask you this. What is your view on fairness?

Friend2: Karma is inherently fair. We think that it’s unfair, but that’s due to a defect in memory.

Friend1: What do you mean?

Friend2: We can’t remember everything. It’s as simple as that. We can’t remember past lives. The soul exists in a continuum. Never was there a time that it did not exist, nor will there be a time in the future when it ceases to be. I’m paraphrasing Shri Krishna here, but you get the gist.

Friend1: I know that’s from the Bhagavad-gita, but which verse?

Friend2: The twelfth verse of the second chapter. For this discussion, the perpetual existence of the soul means that there is no such thing as a past, present and future. We say past lives, but that is only for organization purposes. Which time unit we choose for analysis does not matter so much in the end. We did something a while back, and eventually we reap the consequences. That is fairness.

Friend1: And we think something is unfair simply because we’ve forgotten our past deeds.

[Atoms colliding]Friend2: Exactly. We also don’t know everyone else’s deeds. So all these things are happening at once, a collision of reactions, and we can’t understand.

Friend1: Okay, let me ask you this about fairness. I notice that in the bhakti-yoga tradition the teachers explain everything in terms of Krishna, or God, and devotion to Him.

Friend2: Yes, Lord Chaitanya even says that without Krishna’s association everything seems like a void to Him.

Friend1: That’s what I’m getting at. Do you think that is fair? Isn’t it a biased viewpoint on life?

Friend2: What would be the unbiased viewpoint?

Friend1: Well, the typical view wouldn’t inject Krishna into everything. If I’m talking about water, the neutral standpoint is to discuss the water’s properties, its use in quenching thirst, how to preserve it, how to keep it clean, etc. I’m not directly referencing a deity when I do that.

Friend2: That’s true, but then your understanding of water is not complete. The explanation in terms of Krishna is not to show favoritism; it is to make the explanation accurate. It is to complete the discussion.

Friend1: I see.

Friend2: And you’re also assuming that there can be such a thing as a neutral explanation.

Friend1: Unbiased.

Friend2: Yeah, whatever you want to call it, it doesn’t exist. Just read any news story. The bias is quite obvious if you’re willing to look for it. The choice of the story itself shows some favoritism on the part of the publisher. The lead stories are those which the content producers want you to see. There’s millions of things happening on a daily basis.

Friend1: Yeah, and they can’t write a story about everything.

Friend2: They can’t overly criticize the people they discuss, either. Otherwise they run the risk of losing access. If I want an interview with the President of the United States, it’s probably not a good idea to bash him all the time. The same goes for movie stars and athletes.

[Oreilly-Obama interview]Friend1: I see.

Friend2: Plus, each person has their world view. They have an idea of what the aim of life is. They have a way of thinking, and that bleeds into their coverage. It is impossible to remove it.

Friend1: But don’t you think there’s too much emphasis on the bhakti path given in the works you study? Shouldn’t there be equal time for the other paths, the opposing viewpoints?

Friend2: Actually, works like the Bhagavad-gita, Shrimad Bhagavatam, Ramayana, and commentaries on them are the equal time. Even all those books don’t come close to leveling things. The majority of literature published pushes the view that sense gratification is the most important. “Use whatever you have around you to satisfy yourself. Though this never makes anyone happy, give it a shot anyway. What else is there?”

Friend1: So you’re saying that everyone is preaching a doctrine through the words they publish and speak?

Friend2: Of course. Every movie you watch started off as a screenplay. And the screenplay is nothing more than an idea in someone’s head. They’re not going to write a full story if they’re not passionate about the content. And how they think will reflect in their work. So every movie is pushing an agenda. So is every television newscast and newspaper column.

Friend1: But don’t works in the bhakti-yoga tradition cover these up? Why not discuss them as well?

Friend2: Actually, if you know Krishna, you will know everything about His energies. You will not only understand the other viewpoints but you’ll know why they come into being. The path of material sense gratification comes from ignorance of the identity of the individual. The path of renunciation is the negative response to sense gratification, a way to eliminate the bad taste. It too is rooted in illusion, as there is no concept of positive activities.

Friend1: Bhakti-yoga thus incorporates everything. It has renunciation and enjoyment, but all dovetailed with service to Krishna.

Friend2: Yes. There is no worry over equal time, fairness or objectivity. Being fair with someone means giving them the chance to make the most of their life. Being objective means giving someone the straight answer when they seek it.

Friend1: And so no one is being truly fair until they tell you about service to God?

[Radha-Krishna]Friend2: Right. Some philosophies might come closer to the real truth than others, but the only complete explanation is in the bhakti tradition. That’s why bhakti-yoga is the only eternal occupation, because at the very least one can use whatever is around them, objects and happenings, to further glorify the Supreme Lord, which brings them the happiness that previously eluded them.

In Closing:

Of other opinions not aware,

Discuss them to only be fair.


Single-mindedness in bhakti path,

But all others explained in fact.


Without Krishna explanation not true,

By others’ motives cheated to be you.


Adding God giving understanding real,

Path of misery then no longer to appeal.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Do What You Like

[Lord Rama]“Tulsi says that Rama favors the desires of His servant more than His own. How can anyone turn their back on such a sweet master as the husband of Sita?” (Dohavali, 48)

tulasī rāmahi āpu teṃ sevaka kī ruci mī।thi |
sītāpati se sāhibahi kaise dījai pī।thi ||

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“I’ve heard of bhakti-yoga. I know that it is the process of meditation done with devotion. It is similar to other kinds of yoga, except there is attachment to another object. It’s supposed to be selfless. You’re supposed to do whatever it is that God wants you to do. You shouldn’t be in it for your own benefit, even though by following bhakti-yoga you’ll be benefitted the most. I wonder what it is you’re supposed to do, though. In other kinds of yoga the action is laid out. You meditate, you study, you work with detachment - but what about in bhakti?”

Devotion in the pure stage lacks both motivation and interruption. We get this definition from the Shrimad Bhagavatam, an ancient Vedic text focusing specifically on bhagavata-dharma, which is another name for bhakti-yoga. You lose motivation because you’re not in it for yourself. Motivation in this sense relates to the personal wellbeing. Not that you want to harm yourself, but when you have personal motives, your love for God is not pure.

Interruption is also gone. This means that you’re not in it for just a short while, intending to give it up at a later date. Bhakti-yoga is the end. It is the culmination of all systems of maintenance. Every speculation we’ve ever had about our reason for being, every philosophy on life we’ve tried and applied – it ends at bhakti. And that end is a continuous flow of loving service, which never stops since the individual never ceases to be.

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)

What exactly is that service? What does it involve? Here Goswami Tulsidas gives us a hint. He says that Shri Rama cares more about the interests of His devotees than His own. The devotee is the person engaged in bhakti-yoga. Rama is the object of service; He is the recipient of the love offered by the devotee. Rama is the detail behind the abstract concept of God. In His form of Krishna He delivers the Bhagavad-gita, which is timeless wisdom that awakens the soul to its true purpose in life. In His form of Vishnu He creates this and innumerable other universes simply by breathing. Through His external energy expansion He is the material nature that bewilders us, under whose force we constantly struggle.

mamaivāṁśo jīva-loke
jīva-bhūtaḥ sanātanaḥ
prakṛti-sthāni karṣati

“The living entities in this conditioned world are My eternal, fragmental parts. Due to conditioned life, they are struggling very hard with the six senses, which include the mind.” (Lord Krishna, Bg. 15.7)

[Bharata meditating on Rama]From Rama’s generous disposition, we see that the devotee can do whatever they want for their service. As long as they serve Rama, their work falls in the category of bhakti-yoga. Rama does not force everyone to follow the same path. The younger brother Bharata meditates in a tiny hut, awaiting Rama’s return to the kingdom of Ayodhya. Sita and Lakshmana follow Rama to the wilderness. Hanuman leaps over mountains and fights off night-crawling demons, all for Rama’s sake. Sugriva enlists his massive monkey army to help Rama rescue Sita from the clutches of Ravana. The female sage Shabari offers Rama and Lakshmana fruits and berries from the wilderness. The wife of the sage Gautama serves simply by feeling the lotus feet of Shri Rama.

Tulsidas serves by composing wonderful poetry and song in praise of Rama. His works stand the test of time, and they are some of the most popular compositions in the history of the civilized world. If Rama were cruel and strict, He would not allow such diversity. In the neophyte understanding of God, the person thinks that the Lord is a mean person who looks to punish the sinners. In truth, the punishment is automatic, coming through the laws of nature. Rama is always blissful; He has no need to punish anyone to make Himself happy.

As Rama is so benevolent, Tulsidas wonders why anyone would turn their back on Him. Indeed, this turning of the back is the reason for the living entity’s descent to the material world. Heaven is the upper planetary region, and our present location is lower because of the pervasive lack of God consciousness. Ascent to the original home occurs through bhakti-yoga, and the object of that service is so kind that He accepts anything the devotee is willing to offer. He advises Arjuna in the Bhagavad-gita to take whatever one does and make an offering out of it.

yat karoṣi yad aśnāsi
yaj juhoṣi dadāsi yat
yat tapasyasi kaunteya
tat kuruṣva mad-arpaṇam

“O son of Kunti, all that you do, all that you eat, all that you offer and give away, as well as all austerities that you may perform, should be done as an offering unto Me.” (Lord Krishna, Bg. 9.27)

[Lord Rama]Rama is so kind that just chanting the holy names on a regular basis pleases Him. If one so desires, they can spend their whole life chanting these names and Rama will provide the facility to do so. He will personally intervene to create the conditions necessary for always saying and hearing Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

In Closing:

Do whatever it is you prefer,

With love to Rama then offer.


Limited in this area you’re not,

Chance for service all have got.


Why then on Him back to turn?

With His favor liberation to earn.


Though bhakti to the end bringing,

Endless activity, Rama’s glories singing.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Realizations From Up Close

[Sita and Rama]“Tulsi says that Rama favors the desires of His servant more than His own. How can anyone turn their back on such a sweet master as the husband of Sita?” (Dohavali, 48)

tulasī rāmahi āpu teṃ sevaka kī ruci mī।thi |
sītāpati se sāhibahi kaise dījai pī।thi ||

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Dhyana is an aspect of yoga. It is concentration. A child growing up in the Hindu culture likely hears this word many times from their parents. The child is asked to give “dhyan” to their studies. This means that they should focus. They should not waste time on other things. With focus a task gets completed. Some prefer to multi-task; this helps them to work faster. For them, having more than one thing to do at a time is their form of concentration.

Dhyana in yoga is meant to be directed at a specific object. Should it be a tree? Should you sit in an empty space and focus on nothing? As the living entity is endowed with free will, it has the choice to concentrate on anything. Dhyana will bring the best fruit only when it is directed at the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Those who practice bhakti-yoga are so intimately tied to God that they maintain this dhyana even when they are seemingly far away from their beloved.

Can you be close to God? Can you be far away from Him?

Actually, it is impossible to be separated from Him. This is because of the presence of the Supersoul. Think of it like having your best friend with you all the time, wherever you go. You have your conscience to go with your consciousness. This allows you to talk to yourself. There is also a more powerful being always with you; He is God. He rests within your heart as the Supersoul. He will be there regardless of the nature of your consciousness. Whether you know Him or not, whether you want Him to be there or not, whether you are good or bad - He will be with you.

At the time of birth we forget that He’s there. Our starting point is forgetfulness. We have to take steps to try to reconnect with Him. Yoga is the means for achieving that end. Even if we take up yoga, at the beginning we likely won’t know for what it is meant. We’ll mistakenly think that it is an exercise routine. Or perhaps we’ll take it to be complete renunciation from the world, where we have to meditate all the time in order to gain release from the body that gives us so much trouble.

[Lord Krishna]Dhyana in the immature stage of yoga gets directed at the visible manifestation of God. Think of the picture or deity in the temple. Not that these forms are imaginary; they are based on the transcendental attributes belonging to God. He is so benevolent that He agrees to appear in different ways to please the desires of His devotees. When He appears in the temple in the form of a statue, He is not limited to that form. If the statue is five feet tall, it does not mean that God is only five feet tall. At the same time, the statue is identical to Him when worshiped properly. This concept is known as simultaneous oneness and difference.

God is also outside the temple. He is everywhere, but to help the devotee in connecting with Him there is dhyana focused on His transcendental form. Superior to this is dhyana on the transcendental sound: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. This sound is identical to God. Sound doesn’t have form, so how can sound be God? The more one gives attention to that sound, the more the secret gets revealed to them.

The above referenced verse from the Dohavali provides insight into the mind of the devotee who is always in dhyana. They are able to notice things about God that others cannot. Here Tulsidas says that Shri Rama cares more for the likes and dislikes of His devotee than His own. This is based on personal experience. There are many incarnations of God. As many waves as there are in the ocean, that is how many different ways that God can appear in a personal expansion.

Tulsidas prefers Shri Rama above all others. Not that everything and everyone is God; the personal expansions are identical to the original Personality of Godhead. Tulsidas loves Rama so much that he cannot worship God in the same way in any other form. He follows the mood of Shri Hanuman, Rama’s dearest servant.

In pure bhakti, the only desire is to have continued devotion. Rama gave this to Tulsidas. He allowed the saint to always worship him, which made the saint so happy. Rama did not force Tulsidas to worship the form of Krishna. He did not impose any of His own desires, since the devotees actually control God. This is said of Shrimati Radharani as well. She is the eternal consort of Shri Krishna, who is the same Rama but in His original form which resides in the spiritual planet of Goloka Vrindavana.

[Sita and Rama]Since Rama is so sweet, Tulsidas wonders how anyone can turn their back on Him. Indeed, one look at His smiling face gives birth to a spontaneous desire to serve for lifetime after lifetime. With His innocent hand Rama lifted the bow in Janaka’s kingdom to win Sita’s hand in marriage. Sita is equally as kind, and so the devotee worships both of them together. From up close, their unimaginable kindness becomes clearer, and the poet Tulsidas reports back to us what he sees.

In Closing:

The deep secrets of bhakti to penetrate,

When on Supreme Lord always to concentrate.


Deity providing the visible sight,

Sound itself of greater might.


Devotee’s likes precedent taking,

Their desires real Shri Rama making.


Tulsidas seeing from up close sitting,

Revealing goal to reach before this body quitting.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Is This The Thanks I Get

[Lord Rama]“Whereas other masters become furious at merely hearing about the offenses of their servants, Shri Rama, seeing the offenses Himself, never keeps them in His heart.” (Dohavali, 47)

sāhiba hota saro।sa sevaka ko aparādha suni |
apane dekhe do।sa sapanehu rāma na ura dhare ||

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You’re very excited. Since your husband took this new job, you hardly see him. Though you didn’t like the idea of him working so far from home, you both decided it was okay in the short term due to the substantial increase in pay. Though he was supposed to come home every weekend, in the past few weeks he had to work straight through. A new project took higher priority, but never mind as now he’s coming home for a full week.

[mac and cheese]To prepare, you arrange the whole house very nicely. You know his favorite dishes, so you’ve decided that you’re going to cook them for dinner. Each night will feature a different one. On the first night macaroni and cheese is served. You like eating this too, and you don’t mind patting yourself on the back for how well it came out. The next night you make bean and cheese burritos. During dinner your husband is a little upset since there isn’t any sauce in the burrito. In your excitement, you forgot to add it.

The next few nights everything goes well. You even got him tickets to see his favorite baseball team. The last night of his stay, you both go over the past week. You ask him if everything went well, if he was happy to be home. He says that he was, but that he couldn’t forget the error with the burritos on the second night. He chastises you for forgetting something he considered to be so important. You are flabbergasted. Here you barely get to see him, and when he comes home you go all out to make him happy. He doesn’t remember the good things. He doesn’t commend you for the extra effort. He instead points to one little flaw. You immediately go to the other room and start crying.

In this situation, the wife must wonder why she even makes the effort. What is the point to working so hard? Is this the thanks she gets? Indeed, this is the defect in service in material affairs. The senses are such that they are never satisfied. The more one tries, the harder it becomes to satisfy them. The master-servant relationship is also riddled with defects. The person giving the orders or the one accepting the service can become upset over a tiny flaw. They need only hear about this; they won’t have to see it directly.

In devotional service, however, the situation is different. The beneficiary is God. He is generous, magnanimous, kind, and extremely grateful. To be grateful means to appreciate a kind act done for your benefit. It means always remembering that act and not focusing on the negative instead. Shri Rama, the Supreme Lord in His personal form of a handsome warrior prince, is indeed grateful, as His younger brother Lakshmana describes.

“I am His younger brother, Lakshmana by name. Due to His transcendental qualities, I have taken up service to Him, as He is grateful and very knowledgeable.” (Lakshmana speaking to Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Kishkindha Kand, 4.12)

[Lord Rama]Since He is grateful, work for Rama always pays off. If you chant the holy names for His benefit, He will be pleased. He will remember your struggle in keeping up the routine. He will appreciate how you tried your best to hear each name as you pronounced it: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. He will not remember the slip ups you made along the way. He will not hold your faults against you. He is a loving God, after all, so why would He look to punish. It takes many lifetimes before one even attempts devotional service to try to know God. Such a soul is rare.

bahūnāṁ janmanām ante
jñānavān māṁ prapadyate
vāsudevaḥ sarvam iti
sa mahātmā su-durlabhaḥ

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

That soul is fortunate because they get help from Rama. He is the best person to serve because He can help any person succeed. He has the tools to make that happen. Success in bhakti is God’s association, and since He is omnipresent, He can appear anywhere. He appreciates the efforts of His devotees, which makes the devotees more attached to Him.

In Closing:

For another doing so much,

But appreciation from them not a touch.


To go to such effort why?

Better if not even to try.


Rama grateful for any effort made,

Increased devotion the reward then paid.


Not to hold against you a single fault,

To tuck them away, sealed in a vault.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Not Keeping Them In Mind

[Rama's lotus feet]“Whereas other masters become furious at merely hearing about the offenses of their servants, Shri Rama, seeing the offenses Himself, never keeps them in His heart.” (Dohavali, 47)

sāhiba hota saro।sa sevaka ko aparādha suni |
apane dekhe do।sa sapanehu rāma na ura dhare ||

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The human being has so many faults. It eats too much. Even though it knows from past experience that it shouldn’t devour an entire pizza pie, upon first sight it gives in to temptation. It drinks too much. Though caffeine and alcohol in drinks are known to bring negative side effects, the human being is drawn to these drinks, as if being helpless. It tells lies. It forgets things. There are so many faults, and yet the supreme witness, the one person who sees everything, does not keep them in mind when it comes to His servants.

[overeating]And in fact, that brings up another flaw in the human being: keeping a long memory of the mistakes of others. Think of the wife who brings up the offense committed by her husband many years prior. Failing in an argument, she recalls this to save her. It is her secret weapon. The husband can’t believe the wife can remember such trivial things from such a long time ago.

Consider the friend who brings up embarrassing moments in front of others. Since they know you so well, they were with you during many of your past mistakes. Now in a formal setting, where you would rather not be embarrassed, your friend recalls the greatest mistakes you made in the past. Feeling a little envious, they don’t like to see you praised too much in front of others.

The human being has many faults, and in the Vedic tradition those faults get grouped into four categories: mistakes, imperfect senses, susceptibility to illusion, and cheating. Every person has these defects to some degree or another. God, who is all-powerful and omnipresent, obviously knows of every defect and sees every mistake. He does this through His expansion as the Supersoul. While the individual soul is specific to each body, the Supersoul is identical in all bodies. Think of it like stretching your arms and legs out on your mattress so that you cover the entire thing. You are in every corner of the mattress, and in the same way God is in every single living being. Though He seems divided in this sense, He is one.

Amazingly, the Supreme Lord does not keep these mistakes in mind. When it comes to those who want to be with Him, who want to serve Him with love and devotion, it’s as if the offenses never happened. And why should they remain? What is there to be gained? To remember someone’s mistake is to learn from it. If I know that someone cheated me before, it’s probably not a good idea to get into business with them again. If I know someone is a habitual liar, I probably shouldn’t take their word on an important matter.

The Supreme Lord has nothing to learn from anyone. He does not need to punish others, either. That punishment happens automatically through the laws of karma. The decision to engage in devotional service shows that the living entity knows that they’ve made many mistakes in the past. Due to their prior habits, they’ll likely make more mistakes even while serving. Yet this is forgiven, as Shri Rama can measure sincerity. He knows what’s in the heart of the devotee, and if they are actually desirous of serving Him, there is great leniency.

[upset with someone else]Goswami Tulsidas addresses this fact in the verse from the Dohavali quoted above. He says that ordinary masters get angry when they simply hear of the mistakes of their servants. The master cannot see everything. They must delegate. The leader of the company cannot be in every factory simultaneously. He cannot see and hear everything. Therefore he has to rely on what others tell him. If he hears there is an offense committed by one of the employees, he will get angry. His business will be hurt; this is the reason for being upset.

Rama, who is the Supreme Lord in His incarnation as a warrior prince appearing on this earth in the Treta Yuga many thousands of years ago, has no business to accomplish. His servants are not there for His benefit. He is atmarama, which means self-satisfied. If the entire universe turned its back on Rama, He would still be fine. He does not need anyone to worship Him in order to feel happy. He is always peaceful.

He sees the mistakes of His servants. He knows every offense they have committed. And yet He tolerates. This means that those of a sinful birth are also excused, if they take up devotion. Due to degradation of culture, in some areas of the world there is rampant discrimination based solely on skin color or family heritage. In the Vedas, it is said that one type of punishment for sinful activity is birth into circumstances which are not so great. Yet even with such a birth, one can please Rama. This is because He does not look at past offenses.

[Lord Rama]One who always chants the holy names thus has a great chance of success. Those names are found in the maha-mantra: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. The success is the continued association of Shri Rama, who can also be found through His other non-different forms such as Krishna and Vishnu. Success is marked by the devotion itself, which Rama helps to maintain and strengthen.

In Closing:

Remember your mistakes does the wife,

To keep them throughout her life.


Friend saw each failure and careless stunt,

Later on to embarrass with company in front.


Rama the same path not to take,

For devotees forgiving every mistake.


His mercy there in birth low or high,

Success when in devotion sincerely to try.