Saturday, December 27, 2014

Talking About The Covering of Yogamaya

[Krishna holding grains]“While Krishna was going to the fruit vendor very hastily, most of the grains He was holding fell. Nonetheless, the fruit vendor filled Krishna's hands with fruits, and her fruit basket was immediately filled with jewels and gold.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 10.11.11)

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phala-vikrayiṇī tasya
phalair apūrayad ratnaiḥ
phala-bhāṇḍam apūri ca

Friend1: I think I’ve got a good one for you today.

Friend2: Okay. Have at it.

Friend1: Well, first, can you give me the basic definition of bhakti-yoga?

Friend2: Why? You already know it.

Friend1: Just to set the table for what I want to ask you.

Friend2: Bhakti-yoga is the union of the individual soul with the Supreme Soul through love and devotion.

Friend1: And we are the individual soul and God is the Supreme Soul.

Friend2: Correct.

Friend1: And what makes bhakti-yoga different from other kinds of yoga or religion in general?

Friend2: There are many things unique about it, but the foundation is the attitude. It is the lone yoga where the aim is not to improve oneself. It is completely selfless. In fact, bhakti is the only true selflessness. Lord Chaitanya famously prayed that He didn’t care where Krishna put Him, as long as He could continue to serve in love He would be happy.

[Lord Chaitanya]Friend1: Alright. Good. So love is the key factor.

Friend2: Absolutely. Without love you cannot have bhakti-yoga. You might be applying the regulative principles, but your bhakti is not pure until you have that love.

Friend1: Okay. So here’s the tough part, as I’m thinking. How can you love God?

Friend2: What do you mean?

Friend1: I’ve heard you explain that God is described as Bhagavan, which means someone who owns six opulences to the fullest degree and at the same time.

Friend2: Yes. Bhagavan is all-beautiful, all wealthy, all powerful, all famous, all knowledgeable, and fully renounced.

Friend1: Okay. So it’s safe to say that Bhagavan has nothing to worry about. He’s got everything covered.

Friend2: For sure.

Friend1: So if that’s the case, how is anyone supposed to love Him?

Friend2: I don’t follow.

Friend1: Take the example of my children. I love them so much. They are under my care, so it makes sense that I would have this affection for them. I’m always worried that something will happen to them. And even though I am a father, I still love my own parents also. They raised me, but I know that they are not perfect. They can succumb to disease. Something bad could happen to them. Therefore part of my love for them is concern of the same kind.

Friend2: And so you’re wondering how any intelligent person can be concerned about God. If they really know who He is, if they’ve been apprised of the definition of the Sanskrit word “Bhagavan,” they should know that there’s nothing to worry about with Him.

Friend1: Yeah. I’m thinking something similar to the cheering for the underdog thing. The favorite has everything going for them. What is there to worry over? How can I love God properly if I know that He is God?

Friend2: Ah, the last part of what you said is very important. There are two important energies emanating from the Supreme Lord. One is the external and the other is the internal. Both have the power to deceive.

Friend1: How so? The external potency is called maya, right?

Friend2: Yes. Maya tricks us into thinking that we are our body. It fools us into believing that people from one nation are inherently better or worse than people from another nation. Maya lures us into seeking sense gratification at the expense of the happiness of the soul. It causes us to form attachments to temporary objects, where the only guaranteed outcome is separation due to inevitable death.

Friend1: How does the internal potency deceive?

Friend2: The internal potency is also maya. Maya comes from Bhagavan. The maya of the material world is maha-maya. The maya of the internal potency is yoga-maya.

Friend1: Oh, I see. There are two mayas.

Friend2: When you’re under the care of yoga-maya, you eventually forget that God is God. This seems a little ridiculous. Because at first we’re trying to understand God through practicing regulative principles, but then at the end the objective is to eventually forget that He is God.

Friend1: So we have to intentionally try to forget Him?

Friend2: No; there’s a key distinction to make here. Under yoga-maya, we remember Him all the time. We just lose the knowledge that He is full of all opulences. We are actually much happier this way because we can love God purely then. Do you know the story of the fruit vendor in Vrindavana?

Friend1: I vaguely recall; I couldn’t tell you all the details.

[Baby Krishna]Friend2: One time a fruit vendor lady came to the house of Nanda Maharaja. Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Bhagavan in His original form, rushed towards the vendor with some grains in His hand. This was to be exchanged for the fruit. But most of the grains fell out of His hand due to excitement. He was only a small child at the time. The vendor didn’t care, though. She had so much love for Krishna that she filled His hands with fruit. She gave Him fruit as if He were her top customer.

Friend1: Then didn’t the fruit in her basket turn to jewels or something?

Friend2: Yes. Krishna immediately rewarded her affection by giving her more than she sacrificed to Him. If she knew that He was God, she wouldn’t have been so willing to make the kind gesture. Under the spell of yoga-maya, her love for Krishna continued to increase. That love is what we’re all seeking, though we don’t know how to find it.

Friend1: Bhakti-yoga helps us to find it?

Friend2: Right. Even if you think there is no reason to worry over Krishna right now, just chant His names all the time and try to learn about Him. Then gradually maha-maya’s influence will dissipate. Krishna will take care of you the way He took care of the fruit vendor. When you have pure love for Him, you won’t even be consciously aware of bhakti-yoga. You will live devotion to Him.

In Closing:

Worrying is showing love in way one,

How then for person with deficiencies none?


God to whom everything belongs,

All wealth and worshiping throngs.


Yoga-maya in this picture a key,

No longer as Supreme Lord to see.


Like with vendor in Vrindavana selling fruit,

With pure love filling Krishna’s hands so cute.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Look What I Got

[Krishna holding fruit]“While Krishna was going to the fruit vendor very hastily, most of the grains He was holding fell. Nonetheless, the fruit vendor filled Krishna's hands with fruits, and her fruit basket was immediately filled with jewels and gold.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 10.11.11)

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phala-vikrayiṇī tasya
phalair apūrayad ratnaiḥ
phala-bhāṇḍam apūri ca

To whom does everything belong? If I send a search party out to explore new lands, just by planting a flag do I suddenly gain right of ownership? Was not the land there before? Were not animals taking shelter of it? Did the expedition team create the land? Will not the land remain after the members of the present generation leave their bodies?

There is an original creator. Everything belongs to Him. He has the first claim to any property. Upon taking birth, we forget this fact, though it seems so obvious once we’re told of it. Thinking that land and property are up for grabs, we vigorously compete with our fellow man. We try to take what’s ours and then protect it. The intelligent abandon this attitude. Though they may have possessions, and though they may engage in business, they know to whom everything originally belongs. And that first owner takes great delight in their behavior.

We can look to the incident with the fruit vendor in Vrindavana for proof. Working our way backwards, we’ll start with the bright, smiling face of a young child. That smile is so enchanting that it is known to remove the pride of even the proudest person. Think what you will about yourself, but once you see this smile after having first qualified yourself, you will only think of giving. You will no longer want to hoard possessions and defeat others. Instead, you will race to abandon everything that gets in the way of your continuing to see that precious smile.

[Krishna giving grains to fruit vendor]That boy was smiling on this occasion because he had received a handful of fruit that was given to Him by a vendor. The boy clearly did not have enough to exchange for receiving such a quantity of fruit. In fact, He had hardly given anything. This wasn’t on purpose. The boy had seen His parents previously purchase fruit by giving grains in exchange. This time He wanted to do the transaction, so He quickly rushed to the vendor after taking as much grains as His tiny hand could hold. Unfortunately, most of the grains fell to the ground as He was running; they were lost in transit. It was like a package delivery that got damaged along the way.

The fruit vendor did not mind in the least. She had so much love for this little boy. Not minding profit and loss, she immediately took the grains from the boy and gave Him a handful of fruits. The boy had a huge smile on His face as a result, as if to say, “Look what I got.” When the vendor turned around, she saw that in her basket were jewels; the fruits were gone. Perhaps they had been transformed. So instead of taking a loss, which she had no problem doing, she made a huge profit.

Since the little boy is the Supreme Personality of Godhead Krishna, it means that He has original claim to the fruit given to Him. Still, He puts on a huge smile to show everyone that He purchased fruit. The vendor thus got so much credit through a simple gesture. She did not sit in meditation for hours on end. She did not scrutinize every word of scripture and memorize many verses. She did not renounce all her possessions in the hopes of gaining adoration from the public. Perhaps she did these things in a past life, but what gave her the jewel of a reward of the sight of the smile of the Supreme Lord was her genuine affection. A single gesture took care of everything.

[Krishna smiling with fruit]One of God’s properties is that He is the most splendorous. Think of the brightness of the sun on a clear day. Know that God is many millions of times brighter than that. He kindly shares that glory with those who are kind to Him. He reciprocates so much that the devotee often gains a stature higher than His. He owns everything, and yet by offering anything that we think that we own we make Him so happy. Therefore the wise souls sacrifice as much of their time as possible for pleasing Him. They offer Him foodstuffs prepared with love and devotion, and they always sing His names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

In Closing:

A false claim no longer I’ll make,

These possessions of mine please take.


Only Your smiling face want to see,

Then truly happy I’ll be.


Like the fruit vendor who jewels earned,

When back towards the basket she turned.


Your splendor with the devoted to share,

Your happiness from now on my only care.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

The Way To His Heart

[Krishna with fruit]“While Krishna was going to the fruit vendor very hastily, most of the grains He was holding fell. Nonetheless, the fruit vendor filled Krishna's hands with fruits, and her fruit basket was immediately filled with jewels and gold.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 10.11.11)

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phala-vikrayiṇī tasya
phalair apūrayad ratnaiḥ
phala-bhāṇḍam apūri ca

So you want to be the best cyclist in the world? You’ll have to work at it. You’ll have to spend hours in the gym conditioning your body. You will have to acclimate yourself to the tough conditions that will be present on race day. Then you will have to repeat everything again, as the long races span many days. Then, with enough hard work, with sufficient control over the mind to avoid failing due to fear, you might reach the top.

[cycling]But then what will you do? Eventually your body will give way. Soon others will rise to the challenge and defeat you. Though you work hard, it’s no longer enough. The body simply will not perform at the same level. You then have the rest of your life to decide what you want to do. You won so much that you can eat comfortably without worrying. Then again, others eat comfortably as well. They sleep, defend and have sexual relations when they feel like it. So what did your achievement really get you?

We can apply the same logic to any achievement of the material kind. Not limited to sports, but any kind of work, wherein a desired objective eventually comes to fruition, features the same limitation. Interestingly enough, the one gift we really need doesn’t require much effort at all to get. You don’t have to train so long that you are left without time for anything else. You don’t have to worry about success, either. Indeed, the more you are detached from the outcome, the more easily this gift will come.

An incident from a long time back tells us how this gift comes about and why it is so important. A young child in the farm community of Vrindavana once heard the calls of a fruit vendor. She asked if anyone wanted fruit. The young boy had seen how this went down before; a fruit vendor coming to the house and exchanging fruit for the currency of the time. So in His tiny hand He took some grains and rushed towards the vendor.

Unfortunately, most of the grains were lost in transit; they fell out of His hand. Since He was so excited, He didn’t keep His attention on what He was bringing. The fruit vendor, out of pure affection, filled the boy’s hands with fruits regardless. She did not care that the trade was unfair. She made a kind offering to the boy. In the immediate aftermath, the reward she received was a basket full of jewels. The fruit was gone; transformed into something much more valuable.

[Lord Krishna]The young child was the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Shri Krishna. Though on the outside the reward looked material, the more important result was continued love and devotion. The vendor lady did not ask anything of Krishna. She did not fast for days on end in the hopes of increasing her fortune. She did not scheme to intentionally go to the home of Nanda Maharaja so that his magical child named Krishna would help her out.

The fruit vendor had spontaneous attraction to Krishna. She made an offering with love. She was not worried about a loss in commodity supply. She was not expecting anything in return. The joy on the child’s face was enough. The chance encounter was a gift to keep on giving, for many lifetimes. Krishna’s reward increased her love for Him, and so it was appropriate.

Even in supposed religious life things aren’t so easy. To get material opulence, you have to pray for a long time to a specific deity. You have to do everything right, and then maybe you’ll get what you want. The interaction is something like a business transaction. Devotion to God is beyond this. It is a genuine sentiment coming from the heart. That sentiment exists within every heart. Every kind gesture is derived from that original sentiment, which from the time of birth lies dormant, ready to be unlocked through the words of the spiritual master, the person who loves Krishna as much as the fruit vendor in Vrindavana does.

[Krishna with fruit vendor]If we should think that Krishna is not before us, that we can’t see Him, we can still make a kind offering to Him. Whatever we have in our possession can be offered to Him, either formally or informally. Whatever we do can be in honor of Him. We will never be a loser in this regard. The purer the sentiment, the more quickly He will be pleased. His favor is the one most worth having. He can do much more than just transform fruits into jewels. He can turn a life spent in misery into one of replenishing enthusiasm and excitement. He can turn a doubting soul into an assertive speaker of the truth, who never lets a day go by without chanting the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

In Closing:

When filling His hands with fruit,

Vendor’s basket transformed by youth.


Filled with valuable jewels now,

Easy for Krishna, no need to know how.


To His heart this showing the way,

A single offering, His name with faith to say.


Bhakti that gift more important to give,

So that any in happiness can live.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Things That You Can Get

[Nagapatnis offering prayers]“Dear Lord, the dust of Your lotus feet is very wonderful. Any person who is fortunate enough to achieve this dust does not care for heavenly planets, lordship over all the planetary systems, the mystic perfections of yoga, or even liberation from material existence. In other words, anyone who adores the dust of Your lotus feet does not care a fig for all other perfectional stages.” (Naga-patnis, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 10.16.37)

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na nāka-pṛṣṭhaḿ na ca sārva-bhaumaḿ
na pārameṣṭhyaḿ na rasādhipatyam
na yoga-siddhīr apunar-bhavaḿ vā
vāñchanti yat-pāda-rajaḥ-prapannāḥ

What do you want from this world? What is it you want to do with your life? If you’re going to work, there will be some results. You can cash those results in for different kinds of enjoyment. Which direction will you turn? Wives to the serpent Kaliya many thousands of years ago stated that of all the different things one can obtain in this world, nothing compares to the dust of the lotus feet of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Careful analysis validates their opinion.

Let’s say that you want good food. This is your purpose for living. You want to eat nicely, and you want this every single day, for every single meal. For breakfast, let there be the tastiest dishes in ample variety. For lunch the same, and for dinner let there be a different extravagant meal prepared every night. Will this route provide satisfaction? For starters, we know that weight will increase. With that comes a more unpleasant appearance, and who actually wants to look bad?

[eating too much]Then there is increased risk for disease. With overeating, the air within the body cannot flow properly, which then leads to malfunctioning of different parts. So from the option of trying to enjoy food as much as possible, we see that the end result is misery. The same dishes don’t provide the same satisfaction each day, either. If I eat an entire pizza pie for dinner tonight, tomorrow that might not suffice. If one aspect of the pie is prepared incorrectly, then I will be angry, whereas normally I would be pleased that I at least have pizza in front of me.

Another option is to buy so many things. Get a nice car. Purchase a large house and fill it up with expensive furniture. Will this provide lasting satisfaction? Once the car comes, it needs to be protected. If you take it anywhere outside, you’ll have to park far away from other cars. You won’t want it to get dinged by another car door accidentally. Then you have to maintain the car. What if a newer model comes out? You’ll have to get that one too. And the house requires constant maintenance. There is so much attention needed. Thus this option also brings misery instead of enjoyment.

Another route is to enjoy sex life as much as possible. So as to limit the amount of work necessary for finding a partner each time, you stay in a committed relationship with one person. But then the enjoyment will not always be the same. Through time, appearances change, as do outlooks. You may not view your significant other the same way and vice versa. You may need more variety to keep your enjoyment going. And if things don’t go right, there’s concern that the relationship will end.

Misery exists in all areas of material enjoyment. The enjoyments mentioned by the naga-patnis cover everything available. There is the enjoyment of life in a heavenly planet. Think of your favorite place in this world. Now imagine living there for a very long time. That’s sort of what it’s like in a heavenly planet, a place you can reach through pious deeds devoid of true devotion to the Supreme Lord. There is also lordship over all planets. Think of it like being king of the universe. You could then get whatever you wanted. You could enjoy the material things previously mentioned.

There are mystic perfections and liberation itself. With a mystic perfection you can do amazing things, like fly through the air leaving your body behind and become very small in an instant. With liberation, you don’t have to take birth again. You remain stateless, without form. Without any material interaction, you become free from the sources of misery.

The naga-patnis say that the dust of the lotus feet of the Supreme Lord far exceeds any of these rewards. The reason is simple. This dust brings devotion. It comes from very beautiful feet that can be worshiped day after day. One way to worship them is to think of the time they danced playfully on the heads of the serpent named Kaliya. The owner used those feet to launch Himself into the water to deal with the dangerous situation of the poisoning of the Yamuna river. This was caused by Kaliya, and there was no other hope except these lotus feet.

If you remember these feet once, you’ll want to remember them again. Whereas material enjoyment has diminishing returns, with devotion to these feet the experience is ever-expanding. The enjoyment continues to increase, as the worshiper makes their way up to the beautiful waist, the blue-complexioned skin, the wonderful flute, and the enchanting face belonging to that all-attractive Lord of the universe, Shri Krishna.

[Krishna dancing on Kaliya]He already owns the enjoyments mentioned previously. He can have anything He wants at any second. He is the master of all the planets. He is the supreme enjoyer of all sacrifices. He is everyone’s best friend, so He witnesses everything they do and takes joy in their happiness once they have found bhakti-yoga. This means that the dust of the lotus feet, which brings devotion, makes God happy as well. You can ask for so many other things, but none of them will bring you this gift. And when you make Krishna happy, you will make yourself happy to a level previously considered unattainable.

In Closing:

Other rewards in benefit not to last,

Satisfaction from them to wane fast.


As Lord of all anything He can give,

Money or with renunciation to live.


So many things from Him can get,

Yet on one thing only naga-patnis set.


Dust of lotus feet to achieve,

Better than anything to receive.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Viewing His Children

[Lord Krishna]“I envy no one, nor am I partial to anyone. I am equal to all. But whoever renders service unto Me in devotion is a friend, is in Me, and I am also a friend to him.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.29)

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samo 'haṁ sarva-bhūteṣu
na me dveṣyo 'sti na priyaḥ
ye bhajanti tu māṁ bhaktyā
mayi te teṣu cāpy aham

As we are accustomed to establishing differences from one individual to another, it is not surprising that in spiritual life the same tendency exists. The fundamental truth of that spiritual life is the equality shared by all beings. Not only are all humans the same constitutionally, but so are all creatures. The ant, the elephant, the dog, the cow, the tiger, the mouse - all are spirit soul at the core. As souls are equal, anyone who surrenders fully to the Supreme Lord, regaining their constitutional occupation, is dear to Him.

This seems like a rather obvious truth, but one of the more common misconceptions is that people born into certain families or in certain areas become more dear when they take up bhakti-yoga, or devotional service. Since their families might be more pious, since they might be more prone to that devotion from the time of birth, the thought is that their devotion is at a higher level. Therefore that makes them dearer to God than others.

Another misconception is that within the realm of service a more accomplished person gains a higher stature in the eyes of the Lord. If I’m working at a company that sells automobiles, the person who sells the most cars each month will be in better stead with the boss. This is only natural. The goal of the establishment is to move product in order to turn a profit.

We can think of God as the original proprietor. He owns everything. All the stuff that we consider to be ours is just on lease from Him. He has no motive for profit. He automatically provides for everyone, His children. This means that people coming from one location of the massive creation cannot automatically have a higher stature. It also means that each person’s service stands on its own merit; it is not a competition. There is nothing to compete over, as the Lord’s favor goes around equally.

Consider this question. Whom do you love more, your mother or your father? This is a tough question to answer. In most cases there is no favorite. Even if you are closer with one parent, it doesn’t mean that you don’t love the other. Direct the same question at the parent. Which one of your children is the favorite? Outside observers may notice differences in treatment from the parents, but this does not speak to affection. The good child will require less supervision than the naughty one. More supervision means more attention, but it doesn’t necessarily mean more love.

[Krishna with cow]As all the creatures of the world are children of God, none are His favorite. He loves everyone equally, as He confirms in the Bhagavad-gita. While He envies no one and is equally disposed to all, the devotees are considered His friends. They are in a different status because they specifically take advantage of the divine mercy. The material nature is the indirect energy of God, which means that there is no special benefit to be gained from it. The devotees associate with the direct energy of God, the spiritual energy.

With the direct energy you get the direct intervention. It’s like the child getting more attention from the parent. The love is still equal, but the benefit is greater, especially since no child in this world can actually do anything on their own. They need the guiding hand of the Supreme Father. The wise gladly accept that hand from practicing devotion, calling out to Him through the maha-mantra: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

Even the worst of the human society can become fixed through this devotion. This again shows the love that God gives to everyone. He must show this affection; otherwise He wouldn’t be a good father. So the worst person that you see, the one who has all bad habits, who uses foul language, and who regularly denies the existence of the undivided spiritual force that pervades everything - they have a chance at salvation. And this chance is always there. This means that those people we consider to be bad have only yet to be fixed up in their eternal occupation. The good have found the light, and so they happily shine it towards any who are in need of it. This light is an extension of the mercy of the Supreme, and it is available for all the children to use.

In Closing:

Since all children are His own,

Favoritism not to be shown.


Every species with spirit inside,

Despite differences appearing outside.


Devotees to Him considered as friend,

Since on His divine mercy to depend.


Waiting for others is benefit the same,

To come easily through chanting holy name.

Monday, December 22, 2014

The One With The Holy Names To Save Me

[Krishna with the Pandavas]“I wish that all those calamities would happen again and again so that we could see You again and again, for seeing You means that we will no longer see repeated births and deaths.” (Kunti Devi, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 1.8.25)

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vipadaḥ santu tāḥ śaśvat
tatra tatra jagad-guro
bhavato darśanaṁ yat syād
apunar bhava-darśanam

When you’re in trouble, there is no better rescue than the Supreme Lord. As He is absolute, He can bring that rescue simply through memory. It is no wonder, then, that one of the famous verses from the Shrimad Bhagavatam is the prayer of Kunti Devi requesting for so many calamities to happen again. In that distress she sees God, who is the well-wisher of their family.

Krishna saved the Pandavas on many occasions. They always seemed to find trouble. Five brothers of the utmost character, they faced hardship early by losing their father at a young age. Then their uncle unfairly took their kingdom away from them. Their cousins then tried to kill them in so many ways. Kunti Devi was left to helplessly watch all of this. The saving grace was the favor of Shri Krishna, who in the earthly realm was related to the family through Kunti’s brother Vasudeva, who was Krishna’s father.

In the definition provided by Parashara Muni, Krishna is Bhagavan, which means the person who possesses six opulences to the fullest degree and simultaneously. Krishna is all powerful, all wealthy, all knowledgeable, all famous, fully renounced, and the most beautiful. One who can remember Him is supremely blessed, even if the circumstances seem otherwise. Geeta was explaining this concept to her friend one day by relaying a story from her own life.

It was supposed to be a routine visit. I had made this trip many times before. As you know, my parents live about five hours away by car. I don’t mind making these long journeys, as I miss my parents very much. They used to drop me off to college all by themselves. Can you imagine driving over five hours to some place, dropping someone off, and then driving the same distance back home in the same day? My parents would do this for me consistently, throughout my years in college.

Though I hoped to get placed near my parents’ home for my job, that didn’t happen. In this world things are generally out of our control. So I am quite a distance from them, and I try to visit them as often as I can. I don’t mind the drive, but the last few times had been quite stressful, with the traffic and all. For some odd reason, this time I chose to take a bus. I know what you’re thinking, that I’m crazy for choosing that route. And based on what happened, I think you are right.

I boarded the bus on time, and every seat was filled. I was not worried though, as I didn’t have to drive. I kept thinking how I could now just sit back and relax. This bus was wifi equipped; so I could surf the internet if I wanted to. Perhaps it was the heavy meal I had a few hours before, but I wasn’t feeling very well going into the trip. I would take a deep breath every minute or so. It didn’t help matters that it was very hot outside.

A routine trip quickly turned dangerous when our bus stalled in the middle of the journey. We were stuck in traffic and so there was no place to go. They informed us that a backup bus was coming to pick us up in about an hour. I don’t know what happened to me, but suddenly I started getting a panic attack. Have you ever thought about your breathing? Have you ever monitored every breath that you take? For the first time in my life, this happened to me. It was terrifying. The air conditioning stopped working on the bus, so it became hotter and hotter. I started to worry that I might not make it until the replacement bus came.

[Prabhupada chanting japa]I kept telling myself that the problem was all in my head. “Just get through it. You’ll be fine. You’re worrying over nothing.” For some reason this only increased by anxiety. As a last resort, I pulled out my japa beads. Following the instructions of His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, I regularly chant the maha-mantra. I do a fixed number of rounds each day.

Typically I chant in private. I don’t like attention, so I was reluctant to take the beads out of my bag. Since I was so desperate, I finally did. I started chanting “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare,” over and over, not caring what others around me were thinking.

And wouldn’t you know it, I did that for two straight hours. That’s how long it took until the replacement bus came. My breathing was then back to normal. The panic attack went away. So relieved, I kept thinking of how much I owe Shrila Prabhupada and those who came before him. I was so grateful to Krishna Himself, for being so beautiful and passing on that beauty in the sound of His holy name. I kept thinking of how all those saints who say that the holy name is the elixir to cure all ailments have been right all along. I never trusted them fully, but now I had tangible proof. The holy name saved me, and I have never been the same.

In Closing:

On bus seated comfortably in the back,

When stopped suddenly a panic attack.


Conscious of every breath to take,

Thinking even more anxiety to make.


Relief only when japa beads in hand,

Finally potency of holy name to understand.


From then on never to be the same,

Appreciating fully Krishna’s holy name.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Talking About What Is Love

[Prabhupada books]“The Lord is very kind to the forgetful souls. He therefore comes Himself and leaves behind necessary instructions and also sends His good sons as representatives to call all the conditioned souls back to Godhead.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 1.3.9 Purport)

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Friend1: What is your definition of love?

Friend2: What do you mean? In terms of kama versus prema or in the ordinary sense?

Friend1: Just your first reaction; for right now forget the technical definitions that you’re so fond of sharing.

Friend2: Okay. Hmm, I have to think about it.

Friend1: No, don’t think. What’s the first thing that comes to your mind?

Friend2: Well, why don’t you go first and then I’ll have something to work off of?

Friend1: That’s not how you play, but I can see that we’re not getting anywhere otherwise. My definition is “wanting more for the object of love than you want for yourself.”

Friend2: Oh, that’s pretty good. I like that. I would say “caring.”

Friend1: Compassion too, no?

Friend2: Yeah, for sure. Empathy; that’s not something you hear every day.

Friend1: That’s a good one. When you know how someone feels about a certain thing, it means that you can better connect with them. With empathy, you are better equipped to support them.

Friend2: Supportive! That’s another definition.

Friend1: Now we are getting somewhere. Let’s kick it up a notch. Give me examples of where love is shown.

Friend2: What do you mean? Like my mom showing up at school with my favorite sandwich and a drink after I’ve taken an important exam?

Friend1: Exactly. I’ll say filling up your spouse’s car with gas when you know that they’ve got a long trip scheduled the next day.

[cooking]Friend2: How about having dinner ready on the table when you’ve come home late from a hard day at the office?

Friend1: You really like the food examples, eh? Can’t you think outside the box for once?

Friend2: Okay. Ooh, I got one. How about the affection of a grandparent?

Friend1: Be more specific.

Friend2: Like influencing the grandchildren when they are young. The love of the grandparent is unique since they don’t get to see the result later on.

Friend1: Because they won’t live for very long?

Friend2: Not necessarily that, but the grandparents usually aren’t with the children all the time. Twenty or thirty years later, something the grandparents did can bring a positive influence. For example, wasn’t your grandfather instrumental in your marriage happening?

Friend1: He was. That’s a very good point. And I didn’t even talk to him much at that time. I did more so when I was younger. I guess he never forgot about me; he showed love throughout even though my attention was diverted when I got older. If it wasn’t for him, I likely wouldn’t be married today to a wonderful wife.

Friend2: See, so that’s a good example of love. You can say it’s even stronger in that case since the result is not visible.

Friend1: See, I’m glad we had this discussion. I never thought about that before.

Friend2: I’ll do you one better. How about the saints of the Vedic tradition who left such a wealth of literature available to the future generations?

[Valmiki Muni]Friend1: You mean like Vyasadeva and Valmiki? Lord Chaitanya’s closest disciples Rupa Gosvami and Sanatana Gosvami?

Friend2: And don’t forget their nephew Jiva Gosvami.

Friend1: You think what they did was love for others, though? Weren’t they more interested just in worshiping God? Not that that’s a bad thing, but it seems more on the selfish side.

Friend2: Well, that’s the great thing about bhakti-yoga. The Supreme Lord is the root of everything. If you water the roots of a plant, you feed the whole plant. If you are selfish in the sense that you want to worship Krishna all the time, understanding that God is indeed all-attractive, then you actually benefit so many others.

Friend1: I see.

[Prabhupada books]Friend2: I don’t know about you, but I can’t imagine where I would be today if I didn’t have the works of the saints of the bhakti tradition. I love reading the books of His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. He influences people today and he will continue to do so going forward. People he never met have had their lives changed for the better because of him. Can anyone compete with that kind of love?

Friend1: I’ll have to think about that one. It’s difficult to top I must say. You’re working in divine love, and you won’t necessarily see the results to your work. You just have to have faith that you’re on the right path.

Friend2: Well, we are the proof that one should indeed maintain that faith. And not just the saints who were skilled in writing - anyone who works in bhakti helps others in the same way. Think of Shri Hanuman. He risked his life to find Rama’s missing wife Sita. He didn’t care what others thought about him. He was not worried about his reputation. To this day he takes great pleasure in hearing about Sita and Rama. No one can shake him from this position.

Friend1: So you’re saying his love automatically extends to everyone else?

[Hanuman with Rama and Lakshmana]Friend2: It does. It is said that the devotee is a symbol of sacrifice. Prahlada Maharaja is the same way. You don’t even have to pick someone famous. Any family member who practices bhakti-yoga influences others, even if only indirectly. Their chanting of the holy names alone helps so many others. To hear the mantra from someone who loves the Supreme Lord is a great boon.

In Closing:

How concept of love to define?

Is it when meeting interests of mine?


Highest sacrifice possibly to be,

When the results not even to see.


Think of work of Vedic saints done,

How help in the future also to come.


Generation after generation coming,

Through that love devotees becoming.