Thursday, December 31, 2015

The One About The Swapped Hard Drive

[the changing body]“The living entity, thus taking another gross body, obtains a certain type of ear, tongue, and nose and sense of touch, which are grouped about the mind. He thus enjoys a particular set of sense objects.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 15.9)

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śrotraṁ cakṣuḥ sparśanaṁ ca

rasanaṁ ghrāṇam eva ca

adhiṣṭhāya manaś cāyaṁ

viṣayān upasevate

Man separates himself from the animal when he takes up religion. The basic definition of religion is spiritual life, that which is distinct from material life. Spirit and matter - they are different. Matter is directly perceptible through the five senses, while spirit is not. At least this is what we think. Air is a gross element of nature, but we can’t really see it. We can only feel it when it blows against us. We see its influence on other objects. In the same way, we can notice the presence of the soul through the actions of an autonomous, living thing.


brāhmaṇe gavi hastini

śuni caiva śva-pāke ca

paṇḍitāḥ sama-darśinaḥ

“The humble sage, by virtue of true knowledge, sees with equal vision a learned and gentle brahmana, a cow, an elephant, a dog and a dog-eater [outcaste].” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 5.18)

The same type of soul animates each living being. There is no such thing as an animal soul or a human soul. The features of the body have no relation to the nature of the giver of life. A teaspoon of vanilla extract goes into the batch of cookies and also the batter for cake. The cake has a much different shape, aroma and taste than the cookie. Yet there is not a cake vanilla extract or a cookie vanilla extract. The ingredient is the same. Vinny was one time explaining this to his friend in an email exchange. To help get his point across, he relayed a recent story from his own life.

As far as the animals having souls thing, it shouldn’t be that difficult for you to understand. I’m obviously coming into it with a different perspective. When I heard that the same type of spirit animates all beings, I accepted the information right away. It seemed logical to me. Then again, I wasn’t taught my whole life that animals don’t have souls. It’s pretty easy to see where that teaching came from. It’s not authorized, for sure. It was concocted in the mind, an excuse for killing animals and eating them.

I had a recent experience with my son that should help to explain. His laptop computer was running real slow. I had told him not to download too many things, but he didn’t listen. He and his sister love watching videos on there, and sometimes they download things illegally. I’m sure there were some viruses on there or whatever. Anyway, one of the hard drives on the computer was pretty good, so I wanted to keep it. So I took that hard drive out and saved it. It had lots of music and videos on there too.

[hard drive]When I bought them a new computer, I put the old hard drive in there. My son was amazed that the computer was so much different. He wondered how the same hard drive could function in both computers. The monitors were different, the speed of loading programs, and even the keyboard had a different orientation. Yet the same data was there. All of the music and movies from before.

I explained to him how the data was stored on the hard drive and how it would function in pretty much any computer. The data was just one aspect. The computer could be different in every other way, but the data would be accessed from the same place.

In the same way, we know that spirit is in all living beings. The difference between the animal and the human is seen in external ability. Heck, even with human beings there are differences. Not everyone is the same. Look at the Olympics. The winners of the marathon tend to have a similar type of body. The same goes for swimmers, gymnasts and basketball players. Yet we wouldn’t say that such and such person has the soul of a basketball player. That would be silly.

All fragments of individual spirit are the same in quality, and they have the same relationship to the origin of spirit. The origin is Supreme; He is the same individual within every living thing. It’s like He stretches His presence, but He doesn’t really. He can expand infinitely and remain a single person.

[Krishna's lotus feet]Beyond feeding an interest in the esoteric, knowing that all souls are of the same kind helps us to understand that we are in this together. We don’t need to compete with each other. We don’t need to needlessly kill. We don’t need to view every person as an enemy, someone getting in the way of our enjoyment. An existence is meant for experiencing the pleasure of communion with God, better known as bhakti-yoga. The animals don’t have the potential to understand God, but it doesn’t mean that their souls are different. The human being has this potential, and one sign of their advancement towards true enlightenment is the way they treat other forms of life.

In Closing:

Like hard drive into new computer swapping,

Same soul into different bodies dropping.


One sign of how soon Lord to meet,

How other creatures and people to treat.


With compassion, an eye the same,

Or killing through different soul’s name?


Fragment of spirit living things all,

Same soul inside, whether large or small.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Talking About Jnana and Vijnana

[Shrimad Bhagavatam]“When one is fully equipped with jnana and vijnana, he is perfect. Jnana means that one understands the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vishnu, to be the Supreme Being. Vijnana refers to the activities that liberate one from the ignorance of material existence.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 5.5.10-13 Purport)

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Friend1: I’ve got a problem.

Friend2: Big or small?

Friend1: Small now, but will likely become big later on.

Friend2: Is it debt, disease, or fire?

Friend1: No. Why do you ask?

[Shrila Prabhupada]Friend2: His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada would often quote Chanakya Pandit on that. Those are three things that should be dealt with right away. At first they are small problems, but if you ignore them they become big very quickly.

Friend1: That’s interesting. Disease and fire make sense. The debt thing flies right in the face of the American way of life. Who cares about racking up debt? The credit card companies are the evil ones.

Friend2: Right, but it’s the general rule. Even today if you pile up enough debt, you have trouble getting out from underneath it. There are these services to help people with large credit card debt. There are resolution services for people who owe a lot in back taxes.

Friend1: The problem I have is with my kids.

Friend2: Okay.

Friend1: One of them is really into cars. That’s all they talk about. They’re approaching that age where they have to decide what to study going forward, what they want to be.

Friend2: And you’re worried they’re too focused on materialism? It’s pretty natural at that age.

Friend1: It’s just that I know better. I know that buying an expensive car is not going to make a difference in life. At best, it’ll be fun for a few days. Then you have to maintain it. Other people will get jealous; they won’t necessarily be happy for you.

Friend2: That’s true. There’s also the perspective of shastra to consider.

Friend1: Exactly. I was getting there. One of the foundational premises of the Bhagavad-gita is that working with attention on the fruits is the wrong way. You’re supposed to do your duty and remain detached. My son has heard this teaching before; he is not unfamiliar with it.

Friend2: Have you discussed the issue with him?

Friend1: So many times. Other people have told him, too. Still, his focus is totally on cars. I have my personal experiences that I’ve shared with him. I was once into collecting things. I thought the objects would make me happy, but they didn’t. What should I do?

Friend2: Listen, there’s two things to note here. There is jnana, which is what you’re trying to impart to him. He’s getting jnana from the Bhagavad-gita, the bhakti-yoga culture, and the influence of you and your wife. That is a good thing, because the human being has the ability to act off intelligence. They have a higher potential for intelligence than any of the other species.

Friend1: Potential is the key word. If they don’t accept knowledge, they won’t get anywhere.

Friend2: The second thing is vijnana. Jnana is theoretical understanding and vijnana is practical realization. You can’t give somebody vijnana. You have it yourself, which is great. Vijnana helps to reinforce the theory found in jnana. Yet in this instance it is not until vijnana comes that a difference will be made.

Friend1: I see.

Friend2: It’s just the way of the world. I wouldn’t worry so much. There is such a nice foundation here. Many children never even hear of the Bhagavad-gita. Their elders and everyone around them reinforce the idea of material sense gratification being the ultimate objective of life. No one knows any better. At least you have the higher understanding to offer.

Friend1: You’re saying that eventually the vijnana will come?

Friend2: It’s not guaranteed, but at least there is jnana. This is why practicing the regulative principles of devotional service is so important. Even if your mind is elsewhere, simply by immersing yourself in a specific culture, albeit reluctantly, you have a great chance for advancement.

Friend1: I’m assuming that chanting is the most important of these principles?

[sankirtana]Friend2: Hearing and chanting. You can accomplish both by repeating the maha-mantra out loud: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. He’s already hearing from you and others. If he engages in chanting, there will be a benefit. In this age especially high philosophy is not so much appreciated. How can it be when the focus is on the latest technology? How can it be when there is no focus at all? Mired in the mode of passion, everyone jumps from one desire to another. With hearing and chanting there is some steadiness, and advancement will come, even for those who don’t accept the higher knowledge at first.

In Closing:

So mired in material desires are you,

How from my experience to get through?


Jnana the knowledge theoretical,

Also vijnana, the practical.


The first to others I can give,

But the rest from experience to live.


Through devotional culture foundation setting,

Paving way for Krishna realization getting.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Five Ways That Krishna Transforms The Miseries Of Life

[Krishna swallowing forest fire]“Then Krishna, the supreme mystic, the powerful Personality of Godhead, immediately swallowed up all the flames of the fire. The cows and boys were thus saved from imminent danger. Out of fear, the boys were almost unconscious, but when they regained their consciousness and opened their eyes, they saw that they were again in the forest with Krishna, Balarama and the cows.” (Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 1, Ch 19)

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Those who are familiar with the teachings of Vedanta have likely heard of the threefold miseries of life. There are the four miserable events known as birth, old age, disease and death. These repeat in cycles through what is known as reincarnation. The changing of bodies is the easier way to understand reincarnation, to remove the mystical aspect to it. I am the same person that I see in that old photograph. Though I look totally different right now, my identity has not changed. This is the simple way to get proof of reincarnation.

dehino 'smin yathā dehe

kaumāraṁ yauvanaṁ jarā

tathā dehāntara-prāptir

dhīras tatra na muhyati

“As the embodied soul continually passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. The self-realized soul is not bewildered by such a change.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.13)

Reincarnation is not fun because it is forced upon the living entity. Why can’t I sustain my athletic ability forever? If I can play tennis for three hours at a time today without a problem, how come in several years’ time that ability will diminish? It’s not fair.

The living being encounters various miseries between the events of birth and death. Vedanta, which is also known as Vedic philosophy or the conclusion of all conclusions, puts those miseries into three categories. Adhidaivika are the ones that come from the heavenly region. Think of acts of nature like the hurricane, the tornado, the rainstorm, and the forest fire. Adhibautika are those caused by other living entities, such as when people are overly aggressive and mean. Adhyatmika are those coming from within, like disease and mental anguish.

The Supreme Lord is above these miseries. As He is a person, He sometimes appears within our realm. Though He gives the appearance of changing His external body, there is actually no difference between matter and spirit for Him. Though He lives in the same realm as us, the threefold miseries do not affect Him. In addition, He changes the influence of those miseries for those who seek His shelter.

1. Lifting Govardhana.

The king of heaven was angry at the residents of Vrindavana. They neglected to worship him. Was this done out of malice? Were they purposefully trying to insult Indra? Actually, they got advice from Krishna that worship of a nearby hill named Govardhana was a better use of their time. This neglect only occurred one time, and Krishna asked very nicely. In the form of a small child, Krishna persuaded the residents, who all loved Him very much.

[Krishna lifting Govardhana Hill]Unable to tolerate the supposed insult, the king of heaven unleashed a torrential downpour. It was so bad that normally there would have been no hope. It was devastating rain, set to wash away everyone, including the animals. Krishna changed the nature of that adhidaivika misery by lifting the massive Govardhana Hill and holding it up for seven straight days. He created this amazing umbrella effortlessly, and the very powerful Indra and his rain were defeated.

2. Swallowing the forest fire.

In the same Vrindavana during Krishna’s time bad things were always happening. The Sanskrit word for demon is asura. This is a simple negation of another word: sura. A sura is a devotee, a person who believes in God. They may not always remember His supremacy all the time. Indra is a sura, and he temporarily forgot about Krishna’s real nature. Still, a sura is generally a good person.

The asura is always against God. It is in their nature. They don’t just proclaim that God is a myth. They don’t just thumb their nose at religion. They are aggressors against the good. They even try to defeat God when He appears in their midst, as they are too blinded by ignorance to realize who He is. Such was the case when Krishna was in Vrindavana. Asuras tried so many times to inflict harm on Krishna and His friends.

[Krishna swallowing forest fire]Once there was a raging forest fire. Krishna’s friends, who were of the same childhood age, were unconscious and set to be burned to death. Krishna stepped in and easily swallowed the entire fire. Fire is a material element, after all, which can be used for both good and evil. The misery of the natural disaster was easily averted for those who had shelter of God the person.

3. The pain of separation in the gopis.

No one looks forward to missing someone. I don’t intentionally leave home so that I can become homesick. Thus we would have to say that separation pain is a kind of misery. It comes from within, so it belongs in the adhyatmika category. With the Supreme Lord, the same separation pain is blissful. Proof is seen in the gopis of Vrindavana. They are the cowherd girls of the community, and they are so attached to Krishna that they can’t stop thinking about Him. Even if they are engaged in household affairs the entire day, every thought is about the jewel of Vrindavana. Even if they are older and have their own children to worry about, their top priority is the wellbeing of Yashoda’s son.

[gopis of Vrindavana]Lord Chaitanya has declared that the mood of worship of the gopis is the highest. It is superior to the meditation of the renounced yogis, the study of the Vedantists, and the work with detachment of the karma-yogis. In addition to this constant thinking in separation being extremely pleasing to the Supreme Lord, it is also the source of the highest bliss. This contradiction can only be realized through direct experience. The more one knows Krishna, the more they miss Him. The more they miss, the more conscious they are of Him, which is the aim of life. Though typically it is painful to miss someone, when you miss God you actually feel pleasure.

4. Narasimhadeva protecting Prahlada.

[Prahlada attacked]Just like the residents about to be washed away by Indra’s flood, Prahlada Maharaja was helpless. He was only five years old, and his Daitya father tried everything possible to change Prahlada’s devotional ways. The father went so far as to employ deadly force. Thus the boy suffered adhibautika miseries from a much more powerful force. No one would expect him to survive being thrown off a cliff, taken into a pit of fire, or left with deadly snakes. Yet the boy did survive, and his devotion thrived. This was due to the efforts of Krishna, who eventually arrived on the scene in person, as the avatara named Narasimha.

5. Giving back life to the Vanaras on the battlefield.

During His descent to earth as the warrior prince named Rama, there were many living entities willing to give up their lives for Him on the battlefield. In the culminating stage of a long conflict with the king of Lanka, monkeys from the Kishkindha forest served as Rama’s soldiers. These monkeys, known as Vanaras, battled courageously against foes known as Rakshasas. A Rakshasa is asura-like, but even more fallen. They sink so low as to eat human beings, and they employ unfair tactics in battle, like black magic.

yadṛcchayā copapannaṁ

svarga-dvāram apāvṛtam

sukhinaḥ kṣatriyāḥ pārtha

labhante yuddham īdṛśam

“O Partha, happy are the kshatriyas to whom such fighting opportunities come unsought, opening for them the doors of the heavenly planets.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.32)

Many Vanaras died in battle. According to Shri Krishna this is a very noble death, one that brings immediate elevation to heaven. Yet Rama was so kind that after winning, He requested that the Vanaras all be brought back to life. Thus the miserable event of death was reversed through the Lord’s grace.

Krishna can do anything, so even the difficult material nature becomes friendly through His grace. After all, the superintendent of the material world, Durga Devi, serves Krishna. Her trident works against the asuras, the people who are against God. The sura gets protection, and better than the sura is the pure devotee, who associates with the Supreme always in thought, word and deed. The threefold miseries have a different influence on them, as every moment they get closer and closer to the Lord in consciousness.

In Closing:

Material existence with miseries three,

Each person in some way to see.


But Krishna Himself able to transcend,

Downpour and forest fire away can send.


For the devotees protection giving,

Changing nature for improved living.


Getting closer to Him with each step,

Bliss even from separation to get.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Treating Everyone Like Family

[Rama and His people]“That chastiser of the foe is a protector of His good conduct and of His people. He is also a protector of all living entities and of righteousness.” (Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 31.7)

rakṣitā svasya vṛttasya sva janasya api rakṣitā |
rakṣitā jīva lokasya dharmasya ca paran tapaḥ ||

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The blockbuster movies tend to have common themes. There is a reason for their popularity. Aside from the use of special effects and modern imagery machines that enhance the viewing experience, the storylines themselves must resonate with the public. One of those themes is family. The message is to stop living your life so much based on money. Instead of chasing the almighty dollar and sacrificing everything as a result, step back a little and see the bigger picture. Realize what’s more important, namely spending time with your loved ones, caring for them in the process.

The message resonates with the viewers because people inherently want to love. There is the Sanskrit word ananda, which means bliss. The living being should always be in ananda. In a material existence, the ananda is covered or distorted. That which looks pleasurable in the beginning ends up tasting like poison in the end. Think of the drunkard who has a fun night out and then regrets everything the next morning.

yat tad agre viṣam iva

pariṇāme 'mṛtopamam

tat sukhaṁ sāttvikaṁ proktam


“That which in the beginning may be just like poison but at the end is just like nectar and which awakens one to self-realization is said to be happiness in the mode of goodness.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 18.37)

Real ananda begins to flow from acts in righteousness, or dharma. Such acts are in the material mode of goodness. The experience in that mode is like poison in the beginning and nectar in the end. To have compassion for one’s own family members is one aspect to righteousness. It is showing basic respect to people who deserve it.

Yet there is something else to consider. What if the people are themselves bad? What if you have a bad character who also loves their family? Are they following righteousness? We define bad here as someone who does not care for other living entities. They kill at will, they steal if necessary, and they think everyone else should live under different rules. As an example, consider the modern day tyrant. They have no problem hurting others. These rulers care for their family members, however. They take care of their own.

In the above referenced verse from the Ramayana, Shri Hanuman describes someone who has the full and complete understanding of compassion. That person cares for His own people. There is no denying that. The person is of the royal order, which in the time period in question was in charge of protecting through the application of force, when necessary.

The person Hanuman describes also protects all the living entities of the world. This is the proper understanding. After all, we had no say in who our parents would be. We naturally have affection for them because of the bodily relation, but other people have their own parents. These people are strangers to us, but that’s only because we don’t know them. If we knew more about them, we would see that they are actually no different from us.

[Rama and His people]The person of whom Hanuman speaks is Shri Rama, who is an incarnation of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. By extension, we now understand that God is for everyone. He is automatically the greatest protector, even if people don’t ask for it. He looks out for the welfare of every creature, large and small.

Rama protects His own good conduct. This means that He takes dharma very seriously. He doesn’t need others to judge Him; He is on the case already. Hanuman also mentions that Rama is the chastiser of the enemy. Does this contradict the protection of all living entities aspect?

Actually, that chastisement is a form of protection too. Think of it like getting a bad grade on an exam. The grade is a truthful representation of what is known, or in this case not known, of the material. If the person who doesn’t know anything is told they are knowledgeable, the lie doesn’t do them any good. The earned poor mark hopefully motivates the person to try harder to understand the material, to correct whatever is wrong.

In the same way, Rama punishes those who deserve it. Hopefully they don’t commit the same mistakes again. Hanuman is telling all of this to Sita Devi, who is Rama’s wife. The words are so important that the exact same verse was spoken earlier to Sita by the same Hanuman.

The description stands in stark contrast to Ravana, the king of Lanka. He protected his own people, but not anyone else. He couldn’t protect his own good conduct because he didn’t have any. He tormented many foes, but Rama would be the exception. Sita was there in Lanka against her will. Ravana brought her there in secret. If he really cared about Sita, he would have brought her back to Rama, as she desired.

[Rama deity]Hanuman’s words indicate that Rama is the ideal candidate for worship. The loving propensity found within the individual should first be directed to the Supreme Lord. Though it looks like He is invisible, through enough practice in bhakti-yoga, which is the highest dharma, He slowly reveals Himself. Eventually the worshiper sees Him everywhere, and is blissful as a result. Inheriting the wonderful attribute from Rama, they start to have compassion for every living entity, viewing the entire creation as their family.

In Closing:

For family of mine loving so much,

But towards others not a touch.


And then taking even a person not good,

More to love than just family understood.


With Rama extending to creatures all,

Their foremost protector everyone to call.


Worship Him first and then to others extend,

Then soon compassion to everyone send.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

The Best of Everything

[Shri Rama]“In splendor He is equal to the sun. In forgiveness He is equal to the earth. In intelligence He is equal to Brihaspati. In fame He is equal to Indra.” (Hanuman speaking to Sita Devi, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 35.9)

tejasā āditya samkāśaḥ kṣamayā pṛthivī samaḥ |
bṛhaspati samo buddhyā yaśasā vāsava upamaḥ ||

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What is God? How are we to recognize Him if we see Him? Is He even a He? Is it possible to know the Absolute, given that we have imperfect senses? We also have a tendency to cheat. We commit mistakes and are easily illusioned. Things and people trick us, so isn’t it possible that a person can make a display of magic and fool us into believing that they are the Supreme Lord?

Such tricks are indeed played on the innocent public. It takes a little intelligence to see past the display. A person of opulence in this world must first acquire it. Even if they are born into good circumstances, someone had to work to make that happen. The younger brother of Rama, Lakshmana, in the Ramayana says that good and bad things happen from action, but for any result there still must be an initial action.

“Unseen and indefinite are the good and bad reactions of fruitive work. And without taking action, the desired fruits of such work cannot manifest.” (Lakshmana speaking to Lord Rama, Valmiki Ramayana, Aranya Kand, 66.17)

If a person has to work to earn a specific quality or feature, it means that they are not all-perfect. No matter how great the acquired opulence is, the fact remains that it had to be earned through some means. The individual was not endowed with such greatness from the time of birth. They had to be protected during youth, and afterwards they required the cooperation of the threefold miseries of life: those coming from nature, other living entities, and the body and mind respectively.

An interesting case study in this regard is Ravana, the infamous king of Lanka during ancient times. He had one ability that would easily fool even the modern day skeptic of religion. Known as the kama-rupa siddhi, Ravana could change his shape at will. His original form was of an ogre, known as a Rakshasa in Sanskrit. Ravana was rare even among ogres, as he had ten heads. He was ghastly to look at, but with his mystic perfection he could take on any appearance whenever he wanted.

He once used this ability to steal away the wife of another man. Ravana always boasted of his prowess, how he was feared throughout the world. Even the residents of the heavenly region did not want to mess with him. Yet he inherently knew that he was not God, for he required trickery in order to bring Sita back to Lanka.

[Shri Hanuman]In the above referenced verse from the Ramayana a messenger is speaking to the same Sita. He is sent by Rama, who is Sita’s beloved husband. The messenger is named Hanuman and he is in the form of a Vanara, which is a monkey-like creature. The Vanara is conspicuous in Lanka; therefore Sita is suspicious of his motives.

To prove that he is indeed sent by Rama, Hanuman reviews some of the qualities of the Lord. From Vedic literature we know that Rama is an incarnation of God. He has all the great abilities that fruitive work, empiric philosophy, meditational yoga, and strict renunciation and penance can bring. The notable distinction is that He possesses these features all the time.

Rama is the best in each category. Hanuman gives examples above. Rama’s tejas, or splendor, is like the sun. He appeared in the solar dynasty, the Ikshvaku line of kings. Rama’s forgiveness is like the earth. The earth remains steady despite bearing a great burden. So many living entities walk over it, and the earth does not budge.

Rama’s intelligence is like Brihaspati, who is the priest of the demigods. Rama’s fame is like Indra, the king of heaven. Indra is the leader of the demigods, and in Vedic literature his name is often used to make comparisons to greatness.

[Shri Rama]These are just a few of the categories in which Rama excels. Hanuman is an extension of Rama since he represents the Lord. Therefore through Hanuman’s efforts the glories of Rama continue to expand. The person who is the best of everything also has the best servant, one who infiltrates impenetrable areas and accomplishes the mission handed to him. Rama has the best wife, a person who loves unconditionally, without motivation and without interruption. Rama also has the best story, the Ramayana, whose every section illuminates the path of bhakti and its ability to triumph over even the most formidable enemies.

In Closing:

Even if best of everything acquired,

Work first still to get there required.


Only Supreme Lord remaining ever so,

Full in opulence wherever to go.


In every category the best,

Better than all others the rest.


In Hanuman having messenger like no other,

To this day still dear to wife and brother.

Saturday, December 26, 2015


[Shri Rama]“O daughter of Janaka, Rama has eyes like lotus petals. He is enchanting to every living entity. He is endowed with beauty and skill since the time of birth.” (Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 35.8)

rāmaḥ kamala patra akṣaḥ sarva bhūta mano haraḥ |
rūpa dākṣiṇya sampannaḥ prasūto janaka ātmaje ||

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The Sanskrit word manohara means “enchants” or “appeals to.” In the common usage the adjective is complimentary, as man has an innate desire to be noticed. Actors take the stage for this very reason. Updates to social media websites have the same cause. One of the meanings to the Sanskrit word pratishtha is “fame.” The more a person is manohara, the more pratishtha they will get. It should make sense, then, that the most famous person would be the most enchanting.

That person is God. There is not a single aspect of His that is not appealing. But how can that be the case, considering that not everyone believes in Him? The staunch atheist defines their existence by their defiance of all things religion.

“God is a figment of the imagination. He is an idea, a concept more than a reality. Believing in God is a way of coping with the inevitable end that is death. Some use religion as a way to feel superior to others, while others cling to it during times of trouble.”

In fact, even in the case of the atheist God is manohara. Atheism itself is simply the inverse of the natural propensity to love God. The strong emotion is there, but imagine if it gets turned around. Sort of like how the image in the mirror is reversed, the living entity still has the tendency to love, but it gets misdirected. In the mirror image, we part our hair to the right side, but to everyone who meets with us, the hair is on the left side.

The material world is a kind of shadow, a reversed reflection of the original realm. The comparison is to the tree. We know that trees have their roots in the ground and then grow upwards. The leaves and branches are above the earth. The material world is a kind of inverted tree, with the roots starting at the top and the growth occurring downwards.

śrī-bhagavān uvāca

ūrdhva-mūlam adhaḥ-śākham

aśvatthaṁ prāhur avyayam

chandāṁsi yasya parṇāni

yas taṁ veda sa veda-vit

“The Blessed Lord said: There is a banyan tree which has its roots upward and its branches down and whose leaves are the Vedic hymns. One who knows this tree is the knower of the Vedas.” (Bhagavad-gita, 15.1)

[inverted tree of the material world]The aspect of God that is manohara to the atheists is known as maya. This is an illusory energy, something similar to the concept of Satan, but not actually the same. Satan is an equally powerful force that is like an adversary to the pure goodness that is God. Maya is a faithful servant who intentionally bewilders the living entities who take birth in the material world. Maya acts at God’s direction, and she does so magnificently.

Maya is a separate energy that enchants, and then there are also the things directly relating to the Supreme Lord that have the same effect. In the above referenced verse from the Ramayana, Shri Hanuman is describing the Supreme Lord Rama to Sita Devi. She is Rama’s wife, both in the earthly realm during the pastimes described in many Vedic texts and also in the eternal spiritual world.

Hanuman confirms that Rama is manohara to every living entity. One way He accomplishes that is through His eyes. They are like the petals of the lotus flower. These are the most beautiful eyes in the world. We get some idea of the beauty through the archa-vigraha, or deity. The deity is crafted according to specifications from shastra, from authorized statements like these from Hanuman. The deity is thus a factual depiction of God’s transcendental features, making it worthy of worship, honor and respect.

[Shri Rama]Hanuman says that Rama has beauty and skill since birth. The birth here refers to the timeline of events in question, when Rama emerges from the womb of Queen Kausalya in Ayodhya. The distinction is drawn to show that God does not need to acquire any attributes. He has everything at all times. He is God in any form, in any time period. In whatever form He appears, He is beautiful. He always has tremendous skill.

The daughter of Janaka enjoyed hearing these details about her husband, from whom she was separated at the time. The living entities in this world, enchanted by maya for so long, will similarly derive great pleasure hearing more of the details of the manohara Shri Rama. The requirement is that they have a sincere interest to break away from the mundane, the perpetual cycle of attachment and aversion that accompanies a material birth. When the desire to hear is there, benevolent souls like Hanuman arrive to give the delightful news.

In Closing:

As manohara every aspect appealing,

Even maya’s splendor intelligence stealing.


Material world like tree inverted,

Giving reflection of reality perverted.


Reality in Rama, of lotus petal-like eyes,

To protect on natural strength relies.


Everything from time of birth existing,

In God the goodness forever persisting.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Hear From Me

[Lakshmana and Rama]“O large-eyed one, I will speak of the symbols and characteristics of Rama and Lakshmana that were evident to me. Hear about these from me.” (Hanuman speaking to Sita Devi, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 35.7)

yāni rāmasya cihnāni lakṣmaṇasya ca yāni vai |
lakṣitāni viśāla akṣi vadataḥ śṛṇu tāni me ||

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The way Shri Hanuman phrases these words to Sita Devi is important. He references Shri Rama and His younger brother Lakshmana. From the Bhagavad-gita, we learn that the Supreme Lord is a person who descends to the earthly realm as Himself from time to time.

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)

He comes as Himself, though He doesn’t always look the same. Since He is a distinct individual, He is not everyone. As an example, I cannot accurately say that I am God. I do not appear in millennium after millennium, and neither am I the source of the material and spiritual worlds. A separate personality spoke of these things in the Bhagavad-gita, a personality who is identifiable by characteristics.

[Lakshmana and Rama]Rama is one such appearance of the Supreme Lord. A name is merely a sound vibration. It can be applied to any person, to a dog even. The name is one way to identify God the person, but there are other ways to know the distinction between Rama the Supreme Divine Being and others with the same name.

Lakshmana is an incarnation of the servitor aspect of God. He is just like Rama except playing a different role. He is a unique individual as well, with specific characteristics. We can try to speculate on what the ideal servant of the Divine would look like, what they would do, and what they would say in specific situations, but there is no need; factual evidence is available.

Hanuman has been specifically asked to describe Rama and Lakshmana. In response, he doesn’t go into an abstract discussion. He doesn’t say that Rama is an attributeless energy that pervades the entire creation. He doesn’t say that Lakshmana refers to the service potential within all of us, a quality rather than an individual.

Hanuman is specific. He asks Sita to please hear about these characteristics, as they were seen by him. This is authority. This is disciplic succession. There are two principal ways to gather knowledge. One is the ascending process. Take little bits of information and then work your way up. As an example, one day you notice that the sun comes up. Your observation gets noted in a book. Then the next day you see that the sun again rises, at around the same time. Your observations grow to the point that you can make a claim: the sun rises every day.

The second method is known as the descending process. Using the same example, instead of having to record the observations on the sun each day, you first take the information on authority. Your mother tells you that the sun comes up every day. She explains that the whole concept of a day is based on the relative positioning of the sun, the way it changes with respect to the earth and the viewpoint of the individual.

The descending process is superior, but there is the requirement that the person of authority be bona fide. If someone lies to me, then obviously the wrong knowledge will descend to me. In the case of Hanuman, the authority source has the greatest credentials ever seen on this earth. They are so great that they are almost impossible to fathom.

Shri Hanuman jumped across a massive ocean, overcoming difficult obstacles along the way. He infiltrated a well-guarded city without being noticed. He won the favor of a rightfully skeptical princess. He did all of this for someone he knew for only a short time. There was nothing in it personally for Hanuman. He risked everything for the pleasure of Shri Rama.

His amazing unselfishness established, Hanuman has the proper standing to pass down knowledge of Rama and Lakshmana. The process is simple. He saw them face to face. He interacted with them. He knows what they are like. He remembers the key details, and he shares them with people who are interested. Sita knew these characteristics already, but she takes great delight in hearing about them from people who love and serve her husband with the same selflessness that she does.

[Shri Hanuman]To this day Hanuman continues his service. He glorifies Rama and His wife through continuously chanting their names. He gives guidance to the sincere devotees, passing down knowledge of the Divine that is perfect and capable of dissipating the darkness of ignorance. The Vaishnavas are benevolent in this way. They are eager to speak about God. They want very much for the descending process to continue. For the individual, the key is to be receptive to that knowledge, to be sincere in the desire to hear.

In Closing:

For knowledge different ways to send,

One going up, the other to descend.


Latter method effective the best,

But from authority source the test.


Of Rama and Lakshmana Hanuman could tell,

Since from eyewitness accounts knowledge to him fell.


Sita eager to hear, despite already knowing,

From Vaishnavas succession continuously going.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Asked To Say A Few Words

[Shri Hanuman]“O Vaidehi, having eyes like lotus petals, alas it is my great fortune that you are asking me to describe the features of your husband and Lakshmana, though this is known to you already.” (Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 35.6)

jānantī bata diṣṭyā mām vaidehi paripṛcchasi |
bhartuḥ kamala patra akṣi samkhyānam lakṣmaṇasya ca ||

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Public speaking is not easy. There is a reason that it is often named as one of the top fears in opinion surveys. All eyes are on you. The appearance gets the majority of the attention, too. It doesn’t matter as much what you say, especially if your appearance is on television. They see your nervousness. They hear your mistakes. They feel the tension. There is nowhere to run and nowhere to hide.

Public speaking occurs in different situations. For high officials, there is the prepared speech. The teleprompter has the words to say, which make them easy to access. The delivery is then the only thing required. In times past the same was accomplished through memorizing the written word, with just a few notes accompanying the speaker on stage.

Then there is extemporaneous speech, such as when someone asks you to say a few words that you haven’t prepared beforehand. If you don’t know what to say, it is a big deal. You have to improvise.

Then there is the situation where you are eager to speak, even though it’s not your turn. The person at the microphone is discussing a topic near and dear to your heart. With every sentence they utter, you can’t help but think of what you would say, the things that you would add and the things that you would characterize in your own way.

[Shri Hanuman]In this case, if someone asks you to speak, you are more than happy. You consider it a great fortune, as you have knowledge of the issue and are enthusiastic to share your thoughts. A similar thing happened to Shri Hanuman, whose feelings are described in the verse quoted above from the Ramayana.

Hanuman enjoyed Rama-katha. This is discussion on the Supreme Lord Rama, who is also known as Ramachandra. Rama-katha is synonymous with Krishna-katha. The same with Hari-katha. Rama, Krishna and Hari are just different names for the Almighty. Their significance is that they specifically reference God the person, someone with identifiable and distinguishable features. You can talk at length about God the person. Not so much with God the abstract or God the impersonal, attributeless energy.

Sita is Rama’s wife during their earthly pastimes. In the spiritual world she is His eternal consort, i.e. the female aspect to the Divine. She already knew Rama very well, but she asked Hanuman to continue describing. Though she is an expert, she does not consider herself the sole person qualified to discuss her husband. In fact, she derives more pleasure hearing others describe Him.

The specifics of the situation are also noteworthy. Sita was in an area where Rama-katha did not take place. Instead, there was glorification of Ravana. Think of him as the opposite of Rama, a person of the demoniac qualities. Imagine if someone asked you to go up to the microphone and say a few kind words about a thief, a cheater, a person ruled by their sense demands instead of the other way around. It would be akin to praising someone for having eaten and slept the majority of their life.

Hanuman was asked to also describe Lakshmana, who is Rama’s brother. A better brother on this earth there never will be. His glories alone are endless. Hanuman met both Rama and Lakshmana, and from association he became qualified to speak about them. They were both looking for Sita, who had been taken away from Rama in secret.

[Hanuman carrying Rama and Lakshmana]In the present time period it is rare to hear Hari-katha. A person is fortunate to come within earshot of such discussion. The devoted person who is asked to speak Hari-katha is even more fortunate. They take as much pleasure discussing as the devotees do in hearing.

In Closing:

Nervous when with public speaking tasked,

Even more so when for extemporaneous asked.


Better if when eager for something to say,

Your good fortune, what a blessed day.


Shri Hanuman feeling this way,

When asked of Rama and Lakshmana to say.


From Rama’s wife Sita Devi coming the request,

More than happy, by situation blessed.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

According To The Truth

[Lord Rama]“Spoken to by Vaidehi, then Hanuman, the son of the wind, began to describe Rama according to the truth.” (Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 35.5)

evam uktaḥ tu vaidehyā hanūmān māruta ātmajaḥ |
tato rāmam yathā tattvam ākhyātum upacakrame ||

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“Can you really prove that God exists? I’m not talking about quoting specific verses from your religious work of preference. I mean really believing in the existence, the guiding hand, of the Almighty. How do you prove that? How do you actually know Him?”

This question looks more difficult to answer than it actually is. As soon as the human being matures, one fear takes precedence over others. It is stronger in its ability to cripple drive and enthusiasm. It has a way of remaining in the consciousness, even if the best attempts are made to forget. In the Ramayana, a noted prince makes mention of this fear, comparing it to the life cycle of the fruit growing on a tree.

“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)

Let me think about what I have to do tomorrow. There is the laundry that needs to get done. The car needs to be taken in for servicing. I have to finish that task for work. Then I have to make sure to drop the kids off for their afterschool activities. There are so many things that I have to do on a daily basis, and if I didn’t worry about them they wouldn’t get done.

Ah, but what happens if everything does get done satisfactorily? What if I could guarantee success in every one of my ventures from now into the foreseeable future? That brings up another issue. When do I stop going into the future? What is the end date to my activities?

Naturally, the answer is death. Everything that I work for will eventually go to waste. It has to because I will be compelled to leave my body. The fruits of my labor do not come with me. No matter how much care and attention I put into something, it won’t last forever. Therefore to fear over death makes sense. Death is the one event that wipes away everything.

The only real answer to death comes from religion. The advancement of science has only provided more convenience in everyday life. Convenience doesn’t equal enlightenment. It also doesn’t prevent death. It doesn’t answer why life came into being in the first place.

The answer to our fear is God. He is the Almighty. He has the greatest intelligence. He will take care of everything. Ah, but there is the looming question. Does He really exist? How do I know for sure? How can I be certain of the fact that He watches everything I do and will reward my pious behavior in the afterlife?

[Shri Rama]The above referenced verse from the Ramayana gives an idea of how to be certain. Here Shri Hanuman is preparing to address Sita Devi. She has just asked him a series of questions about her husband, Shri Rama. Hanuman, who is the son of the wind-god, will lean on the truth, tattvam, in his reply. That is to say he will not speculate. He will not exaggerate things. There is no need to, as Rama in truth is God in a splendid incarnation form.

The skeptic will say that the Ramayana is an ancient book, and so there is no way to prove its authenticity. The valid response is that the testimony contained within is validation enough. Let’s pretend that I had a bad dream last night. I decide to record my recollections on paper in the morning. Ten years later I become a prominent figure in the public, and so I include that dream as part of my biography. Twenty years later I’m running for president of the nation. Journalists opposed to my candidacy are digging through my past to look for any weak points. They come upon the recollections of my bad dream. They ask other people about it. No one has ever heard of it before. Thus the journalists conclude that I fabricated the dream.

But why would anyone else know about it? The recollection is the evidence itself. Nothing else is required. Surely, people do fabricate things. People do tell lies and the loss of memory leads to foggy recollections of events once vividly captured in the mind. Yet none of these things automatically invalidates a written testimony as evidence.

In the same way, Shri Hanuman’s words about Rama, according to the truth, are sufficient for knowing about God. The lone stipulation is that the individual sincerely seeking the truth must extend a little faith in the beginning. This shouldn’t be that difficult to do considering that the entire world operates on the extension of faith. If people were only skeptical, they would never ride trains, planes and automobiles. They would never drive through an intersection, even if the light were green. They would never believe the weather forecasts or what is written in books. They would never learn anything since the teachers would lack the necessary credibility.

[Shri Hanuman]Faith gets strengthened with authority, and in Shri Hanuman you have the foremost authority on God. He saw Rama face to face. In a short time he came to know Rama very well. Sita knew Him too, and she only asked Hanuman to describe more so that her delight would increase even further. This is another way to know if you have found God the person. Hearing more about Him brings more and more joy, like an ocean that continually gets incoming water, but never fills up. This type of response is there exclusively in bhakti, or devotion, which Hanuman has in full.

In Closing:

For Divine just one thing see,

With increasing happiness to be?


Like with ocean having waters incoming,

But despite that never filled becoming.


When in truth of the Supreme Lord heard,

Then deepest love and devotion inside stirred.


Sita already knew, but still wanted to hear,

From Hanuman, of her beloved husband dear.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Nyagrodha Parimandala

[Rama and Lakshmana]“What kind of appearance and form did Rama have, as well as Lakshmana? Please explain to me how were their arms and how were their thighs.” (Sita Devi speaking to Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 35.4)

kīdṛśam tasya saṃsthānam rūpam rāmasya kīdṛśam |
katham ūrū katham bāhū lakṣmaṇasya ca śaṃsa me ||

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Here Sita Devi is asking Shri Hanuman to explain the details of the form and appearance of Shri Rama and His younger brother Lakshmana. There are certain outstanding features to the Supreme Lord when He descends to the earthly region. In other words, there are ways to tell that He is special.

Sita herself once described these features when talking to the wicked Ravana. The king of Lanka wanted her for himself, though he knew Sita was already married to Rama. To explain her way of life, Sita described her actions as anuvrata, or faithfully engaged in the service. The object of that service is Rama, who is her husband.

“I am faithfully engaged in the service of Rama, who is greatly fortunate, fixed in truthfulness, gifted with all auspicious marks, and has the bodily measurements of a banyan tree [nyagrodha-parimandala].” (Sita Devi speaking to Ravana, Valmiki Ramayana, Aranya Kand, 47.34)

[Sita Devi]How else do we identify Rama? He is a person with auspicious measurements. What makes them auspicious? They are like the banyan tree. The description in Sanskrit is nyagrodha-parimandala. His arms and legs are of the same length. This unique feature is there in the descent of God as Chaitanya Mahaprabhu as well.

“This baby has all the symptoms of Lord Narayana on His palms and soles. He will be able to deliver all the three worlds.” (Nilambara Chakravarti remarking on baby Chaitanya’s features, Chaitanya Charitamrita, Adi 14.16)

Rama’s arms are long, and He uses them for several purposes. The main one is protection of the innocent. Only someone who knew Rama well would be able to identify this purpose to His arms. Sita previously had mentioned that she took shelter of His arms, considering them to be the supreme resting place.

“After having rested on the worshiped arm of the Lord of the world, how can I now take rest on the arm of any other?” (Sita Devi speaking to Ravana, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 21.16-17)

Rama has a unique voice. It is like a kettledrum. The interesting thing is that Lakshmana is practically the same as Rama in all features except one. Rama’s complexion is like the dark raincloud. This specific color is called shyama in Sanskrit. Lakshmana is gaura, or golden. He is like the bright-moon. The brothers are so similar in features because they are both divine. One is the Supreme Personality of Godhead and the other a direct expansion. Basically, they are God in two different roles. Rama is the object of worship and Lakshmana does the worship.

[Rama and Lakshmana]These features are transcendental on the body of the Supreme Lord. Hence He is known as both nirguna and saguna. He is saguna because the form is identifiable to the eyes of the conditioned. Basically, through the forms of Rama and Lakshmana I am able to see God, to get an idea of what Divine really means. Still, the aspects to those forms are completely spiritual. They are not like ordinary gunas, or qualities.

One way to tell the spiritual nature of the qualities is to study the effect hearing about them has. Sita already knew these features very well. She could have told Hanuman everything herself, yet she took great delight in hearing from someone else. In fact, the hearing is as good as personal association. It is better than seeing in a way, as there is more focus when the association is through sound.

Just as delight would come to Sita through Hanuman’s perfect description of Rama, the fallen souls living in the material world today can be rescued from their dreary condition through hearing. Though we are skeptical that God exists and that He can have a bluish hue with auspicious measurements to His arms and thighs, we can still feel great happiness through just hearing His names. Therefore in this age the principal method of bringing enlightenment is the chanting and hearing of the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. The effect of that hearing is more pronounced when the sound is produced by someone as pure and devoted as Shri Hanuman, the fearless messenger of Shri Rama.

In Closing:

Asking Hanuman describing to try,

How appeared brothers arms and thighs.


Since auspicious measurements in Him knowing,

Since from time of marriage with Him going.


Sita still wanting to hear,

Power of sound becoming clear.


Some time for hearing of God just take,

And from slumber of ignorance awake.

Monday, December 21, 2015


[Rama and Lakshmana]“O monkey, please describe again to me the signs that exist on Rama and Lakshmana so that grief does not overtake me again.” (Sita Devi speaking to Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 35.3)

yāni rāmasya lingāni lakṣmaṇasya ca vānara |
tāni bhūyaḥ samācakṣva na mām śokaḥ samāviśet ||

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Meditation is a great way to bring the mind back under control. After all, the mind is unsteady and restless, always moving hither and thither. The process of falling of asleep provides evidence. The way the human being goes from full consciousness to a sleeping state is when the mind starts jumping from one thing to another at a rapid pace. Sleep is the state where the individual takes shelter completely of the subtle body: mind, intelligence and false ego.

cañcalaṁ hi manaḥ kṛṣṇa

pramāthi balavad dṛḍham

tasyāhaṁ nigrahaṁ manye

vāyor iva su-duṣkaram

“For the mind is restless, turbulent, obstinate and very strong, O Krishna, and to subdue it is, it seems to me, more difficult than controlling the wind.” (Arjuna, Bhagavad-gita, 6.34)

The famous bow warrior Arjuna says that trying to get the mind under control is something like trying to control the wind. It’s a difficult task, for sure. There is a benefit to trying. If a student is having trouble during an exam, they need to shift gears and stay focused. The driver on the road has to keep their eye on what is around them. The head of state needs to keep the mind fixed on the issues of the people.

The very fact that meditation needs to be practiced shows how restless the mind typically is. Since meditation is beneficial in so many ways, how should it be practiced? What are the ideal conditions? On what should the mind focus during the period of control? Also, what is the best objective for which meditation should be employed?

The above referenced verse from the Ramayana provides some answers. Here Sita Devi is asking Shri Hanuman to again speak about Rama and Lakshmana. Sita is Rama’s wife and Lakshmana Rama’s younger brother. Sita is separated from both of them at the time, due to no fault of her own. Hanuman is a stranger to her, but he says that he has met the brothers previously.

Hanuman has already described them, and he must have done a good job since Sita wants him to continue further. This time she asks specifically about the features on the forms of the brothers. The Sanskrit word is lingani. Meditation is a mental exercise, but there is no restriction as to how the senses will be used in creating the meditative state. Sound can play a vital role, and here we see Sita asking for a specific type of sound.

[Rama and Lakshmana]She wants to hear about Rama and Lakshmana. She already knows them well, but to hear Hanuman speak about their characteristics will really help in the meditation. Rama is the Supreme Lord in an incarnation form. Lakshmana is the servitor-god, the origin of the guru. Thus their forms are divine. Even when seen in a house of worship, though the forms depicting their true images may be made of stone, marble or wood, the elements take on a spiritual nature.

With the deity, the ideal method of meditation is to start at the feet. The feet are beautiful enough, compared to lotus flowers. The eyes of the worshiper are used to create a deep trance of contemplation. The feet on the deity must be spiritual, otherwise the meditation on them would be ineffective.

In the case of Rama and Lakshmana, just hearing about their features serves as meditation. And what is the benefit of that hearing? It removes grief and anguish, shoka. Sita is in great distress since the vile Ravana has held her in Lanka against her will. She wants to be with her husband again, and she is not sure when or if that will ever happen. Yet the meditation created through hearing about Rama helps to remove that grief.

Every living entity in the material existence is struggling, separated in consciousness from God, with whom they have had a bond lasting the duration of time itself. Though there may be a perceived lack of personal association, just hearing about God and His features helps to remove distress. This is a century’s old method that has provided positive results every time applied.

There are some requisite conditions, though. The speaker must be like Hanuman, fully devoted to Rama and Lakshmana. The listener must be sincere as well, like Sita Devi. Sita herself is expert at giving Rama-katha, or discourses about the Supreme Lord, the son of King Dasharatha, the moon of the Raghu dynasty. She spoke of the characteristics of her husband to Ravana several times, but the fiend did not benefit as a result. He got the boon of liberation only at the end, when seeing Rama face to face prior to quitting his body.

[Sita Devi]It is therefore recommended that in the modern age people simply hear the names of God first. The sound of the maha-mantra, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare,” can soften the heart to create the necessary sincerity and desire for hearing more about God’s features. The people who follow in the example of devotion of Hanuman deliver these words, removing the distress of the people of the world.

In Closing:

Listener must be sincere,

For benefit of God to hear.


Ideal state creating,

Effective most meditating.


From Hanuman coming just a sound,

Yet to Sita still joy abound.


Since Rama and Lakshmana’s form to find,

Giving relief to that distressed mind.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Leaning On His Capability

[Shri Hanuman]“Leaning on my powerful capability and placing my feet on the head of the wicked Ravana, I have arrived here to see you.” (Hanuman speaking to Sita Devi, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 34.40)

kṛtvā mūrdhni pada nyāsam rāvaṇasya durātmanaḥ |
tvām draṣṭum upayāto aham samāśritya parākramam ||

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If I see someone do something extraordinary, it’s only natural to make a comparison to myself.

“I wonder if I could do that. Probably not. That person is amazing. How do they do it? Did they get help from someone else? Have they been training their whole lives for this? That must be the case. Maybe if I give it a try, I can accomplish the same.”

The insecurity is because man knows he is fallible. To err is human, after all. Vedic philosophy puts the defects of man into four general categories. There are imperfect senses. I can’t hear what is going on in a different room and I can’t see the sun once it is out of the sky. There is the tendency to cheat. I use coupons beyond their date of expiration and if I can find an advantage in playing a particular sport, I don’t reveal it. Man gets easily illusioned, mistaking one thing for another.

Illusion leads to committing mistakes, which man does constantly. In material life the fallibility leads to jealousy, as it seems others are not as affected by the defects. In spiritual life, there is no reason for jealousy, as any effort expended gets appreciated very much by the object of service. The idea is to take whatever gifts and talents you have and use them for the pleasure of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

In the above referenced verse from the Ramayana, a messenger tells how he relied on his powerful capability to reach a distant land. No human being could do what he did. No creature could dare think of repeating the feat. What the messenger did is so amazing that the less intelligent relegate the factual events to mythology.

[Shri Hanuman]The messenger was in the body of a monkey. He made a very long leap. Not just from one tree to another to fetch a banana, Hanuman made it across a vast ocean. To knowers of the spiritual science, such a feat is not entirely impossible. The limitations on the body are due merely to the collection of material elements surrounding the otherwise amazing spirit soul. When the influence of those elements gets altered through mystic yoga practice, the individual living within can do amazing things.

Still, even for mystic yogis leaping over a vast ocean is difficult. Today, a person can cross an ocean using the aid of aerial transport, but to do it in a jump is still a fool’s errand. Yet Hanuman made it across the ocean, relying on his capability. The use didn’t stop there. Hanuman then had to infiltrate the city, which was well-guarded. Then when he met the person he was looking for, he had to use his capability to win over her trust. She had not met him before.

The people in that land were generally deceitful. Their leader is described as duratmanah, which means sinful or wicked. Hanuman says he did those amazing things to see Sita, the distressed princess whom Ravana had taken away unfairly and in secret. Hanuman crossed the ocean while symbolically placing his feet on Ravana’s head. This means he didn’t have respect for Ravana. Hanuman was not like the others in Lanka.

Hanuman is blessed with amazing capability to match his unbelievably large heart that is filled with devotion to Sita and her husband Rama. The Supreme Lord knows that Hanuman uses all of his powers for good, and so his bodily features allow him to do a lot of good. Those following the same path of devotion set by Hanuman get tremendous inspiration from that messenger. Hanuman risked everything to please Rama, who was looking for Sita. Hanuman relied on his God-given talents, which came to him easily.

[Shri Hanuman]Ravana had similar abilities, but he used them for evil. He was wicked in mind, and he demanded respect from the entire world. Hanuman bows at the feet of Rama and places his own feet on the head of Ravana. Big or small, the devoted souls are humble in their service to the Supreme Lord, not wanting anything to do with the wicked people who are against Him. Empowered by that same Rama, they succeed in whatever is asked of them by either the Lord Himself or His bona fide representative.

In Closing:

To reach land of Ravana wicked and mean,

Hanuman on his capability to lean.


With single leap crossing ocean massive,

To safely deliver from Rama missive.


That ability from God Himself coming,

Devoted souls divinely empowered becoming.


Hanuman inspiring continuing today,

Blessed those who with love his name say.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Just See Who Is Helping You

[Shri Hanuman]“I am a Vanara named Hanuman, the minister of Sugriva. I entered into the city of Lanka after having crossed over the great ocean.” (Hanuman speaking to Sita Devi, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 34.39)

aham sugrīva sacivo hanūmān nāma vānaraḥ |
praviṣṭo nagarīm lankām langhayitvā mahāudadhim ||

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The human being’s inherent fallibility makes life difficult. Things would be easy if we could get whatever we wanted. If we feel like our waist size has expanded too much in recent weeks, just lose weight. Snap your fingers and see how your pants suddenly fit again. Of course the reality is a different story. There is so much food to eat, making it harder to control intake. People are constantly offering us food, and they take it as an insult if you do not eat a sufficient amount.

Eating is not the only desirable aspect of material life. There is sleeping, mating and defending as well. If obstructions are present in any of these areas, there is frustration. “You can’t always get what you want,” is the sound instruction offered by the parents. Then there is the issue of wrong desires. What if what I want will do me harm in the end? This is the case with substance abusers. In their case, frustration ends up being beneficial.

As difficult as material life is, spiritual life presents even more challenges. The reason is that its very foundation is detachment from a world in which there are innumerable objects with which to form attachments. Think of it like trying to lose weight while sitting at a buffet restaurant. Not just at the restaurant, consider having food on your table, just waiting to be eaten. It will be extremely difficult to go the entire day without overindulging.

Spiritual life does not mean the end of work. You have to work, but stay detached. A person should not give up all duties, even if they have achieved enlightenment. In the Bhagavad-gita, Shri Krishna gives the example of King Janaka of Videha. He was a renowned yogi, praised for his dispassion. At the same time, he was a king, a ruler who could get whatever he wanted at the snap of a finger. The king still protected the people. He still arranged for his daughter’s marriage when the time was right.

That daughter is the recipient of the words quoted above. She is in the city of Lanka against her will, held captive by a wicked-minded king named Ravana. Ravana did not live with detachment. Though he engaged in rituals of the religious nature, his motives were impure. He had no desire to enter genuine spiritual life. He was so addicted to sense gratification that having multiple beautiful wives was not enough. He had to have the wife of another man, even if that man was superior to him in combat.

[Sita Devi]The wife he took was named Sita, and she was married to Shri Rama. Rama is the same Krishna who speaks the Bhagavad-gita. He is the objective in spiritual life, the final destination, if you will. Spiritual life means attachment to the origin of spirit instead of to the separated energy known as the material nature.

Spiritual life is difficult for as long as one remains unaware of who is helping them. In this verse from the Ramayana, Rama’s messenger Hanuman gives a short description of himself. He is the minister to Sugriva, who is the king of the Vanaras in the area known as Kishkindha. The Vanaras are monkey-like creatures, a species with which we have no familiarity. The literal definition of Vanara is “forest-dweller.” These creatures were monkey-like, but they could speak and reason to some extent.

Hanuman had just praised Sugriva as having immeasurable strength. Hanuman described Rama and His younger brother Lakshmana accurately as well. In describing himself, Hanuman said that he infiltrated the city of Lanka after having crossed over a great ocean. These words were intended to win Sita’s trust, since she had not met him before.

The idea is that Sita should not worry. Her husband and her brother-in-law are tremendous fighters. They are working with Sugriva, who has thousands of Vanaras working for him. Even Sugriva’s minister is highly capable, as he has done something seemingly impossible. He crossed over the massive ocean and entered a well-guarded city undetected. He did all of this for Rama’s pleasure.

[Shri Hanuman]In spiritual life help comes from the same personalities. The Supreme Lord and His brother Lakshmana help the individual cross over the vast ocean of material suffering. If Rama doesn’t do the work Himself, He sends one of His representatives, who is empowered in the same way as Hanuman. Moreover, that representative has the same level of sacrifice and commitment, for their actions are rooted in love for the Supreme. Rama’s wife helps as well, as she ensures the devotees always have what they need to continue in their devotion. Therefore despite living in a world full of illusory objects, a person can still find rescue. The people helping are of impeccable quality and character.

In Closing:

When Rama to come, now in a hurry?

From who is helping Sita should not worry.


Rama and Lakshmana of power great,

Sugriva there ruling the Vanara state.


Hanuman too massive ocean crossed,

Obstacles in path away he tossed.


Devotees today helped by the same,

Protected when chanting the holy name.