Saturday, March 7, 2015

How To Enjoy Life

[Krishna and Arjuna]“Arjuna said: You are the Supreme Brahman, the ultimate, the supreme abode and purifier, the Absolute Truth and the eternal divine person. You are the primal God, transcendental and original, and You are the unborn and all-pervading beauty.” (Bhagavad-gita, 10.12)

arjuna uvāca
paraṁ brahma paraṁ dhāma
pavitraṁ paramaṁ bhavān
puruṣaṁ śāśvataṁ divyam
ādi-devam ajaṁ vibhum

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This life is meant to be enjoyed, is it not? Should we spend day after day sitting on the couch, feeling sorry for ourselves? Should we wallow in self-pity, wondering where everything went wrong? Nobody prefers to do these things; the first choice is to enjoy, to be happy. A person would rather greet everyone with a smile than look on with envy. One would rather not hate anyone than immediately search for someone’s bad qualities upon first meeting them.

Who is enjoying life right now? Is it the person with money? Know that this person gets hounded by others. Know that friendships they had previously change quickly once their net worth increases. Others don’t know how to act in front of them. They can’t view them as their friend anymore; they think first of the money.

Is the married person happy? Do you think it’s easy living with someone else, day after day? There is struggle in any relationship. Each party must compromise. If a person gives in too frequently, they might explode one day. They’ll remember all that they sacrificed and then consider that the other person is taking advantage of them. The spouse may not believe that you love them so much, even if you do. You may tell them that they are number one, and with that they’ll respond, “Ah, so that means there must be a number two. Who is it?”

Is the person with children happy? They have constant worry. They have so much affection for their children that they can’t stop thinking about them. They fear that one day those children will no longer be with them. Then you have the problem of independence. Every living being has some degree of independence, which means that we can’t fully control others, including our dependents. The children will disobey orders. They will fail many times in life. They will experience pain and heartache. This will reach the parents, who in turn will not be happy.

Is the recluse happy? They may experience joy from time to time, but who is there to share? There is no one around to whom to offer kind words. There is no interaction, whatsoever. In the drive to avoid distractions and attachments, the person has taken away enjoyment as well. They have no company; they are all alone.

As this covers the common circumstances in life, does this mean that it is impossible to be happy? The wise person will heed the words of the Bhagavad-gita, which say that the person who no longer hankers or laments gets real peace. That state is a transcendental one, coming from knowledge of Brahman. Spirit is that which transcends matter. It is beyond the dualities of heat and cold, up and down. It is described as Brahman, which is the Absolute Truth.

brahma-bhūtaḥ prasannātmā
na śocati na kāṅkṣati
samaḥ sarveṣu bhūteṣu
mad-bhaktiṁ labhate parām

“One who is thus transcendentally situated at once realizes the Supreme Brahman. He never laments nor desires to have anything; he is equally disposed to every living entity. In that state he attains pure devotional service unto Me.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 18.54)

[Oscars speech]The person who has realized Brahman is happy, and they are eligible to take up devotion, bhakti. This is the route to true happiness. Regardless the circumstance, which is always temporary, there is one way to find pleasure for the soul. That way is offering praise. Take a look at the award shows honoring film and television stars. Listen to the person who has succeeded in life and knows why they did so. They offer praise to others. They are quick to find the good qualities in others. They don’t remember the bad, since that doesn’t make them as happy.

In bhakti, there is always someone to praise. The object of praise has qualities that are unimaginable, yet real. They are not concocted by the mind, though the mind could never think of such qualities. The object of praise is infallible, eternal, unconquerable, without a beginning, without an end, all-attractive, blissful, and full of knowledge. That object of praise is the speaker of the Bhagavad-gita, Shri Krishna.

Bhakti is love and devotion, and yoga is linking the individual with the Supreme Brahman. In bhakti-yoga, you find true happiness by devoting yourself to God. You have something to do all the time; it is not like you are signing onto a religion that you then use only for identification. It is not that you are only waiting for a better future, pleasure in the afterlife. Bhakti-yoga is a way of life, and the foundation is praise of the Almighty, the Supreme Lord.

[Arjuna praising Krishna]You will feel happy offering this praise. You don’t need anything to practice bhakti-yoga. It does not require money, high stature, family members, or even intelligence. Even the person incapable of offering eloquent words can at least chant the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. The person who can’t chant can at least hear. They can listen to others offer praise about their best friend. Shri Krishna is the greatest well-wisher, living in the heart always, travelling with the individual from life to life. Hearing praise of the author of all great things will make one happy. Everyone is looking for happiness, and bhakti-yoga is the way to get it.

In Closing:

Others jealous at materially successful life,

Children a worry, husband to argue with wife.


Though ascetic living in area secluded,

All alone, interactions not included.


Praise the way for happiness making,

Like honoree chance at awards show taking.


To Supreme Lord give words every single day,

His endless glory, true happiness’s only way.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Talking About Something Indescribable

[Krishna with the gopis]“Generally, the bhakti-yogis are engaged in five different ways: 1) shanta-bhakta, engaged in devotional service in neutrality; 2) dasya-bhakta, engaged in devotional service as servant; 3) sakhya-bhakta, engaged as friend; 4) vatsalya-bhakta, engaged as parent; and 5) madhurya-bhakta, engaged as conjugal lover of the Supreme Lord. In any of these ways, the pure devotee is always constantly engaged in the transcendental loving service of the Supreme Lord and cannot forget the Supreme Lord, and so for him the Lord is easily attained.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 8.14 Purport)

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FriendOne: Tell me the difference between jnana-yoga and bhakti-yoga?

FriendTwo: First off, what do you think “yoga” means?

F1: In Sanskrit the definition is “plus.” Like the addition of two things, it means “union.”

F2: And what is being added? What is being united?

F1: The individual soul and the Supreme Soul. In simpler terms, me and God.

F2: Good. So jnana and bhakti are two terms that can exist outside of yoga. Jnana is knowledge. A person who knows how to do something has jnana. If I know how to read and write, it means that I have jnana for that particular language. If I don’t know how to change the tire on my car, it means that I’m lacking jnana on that subject; I’m ajnana.

F1: Is there a jnana that covers everything, like in the broadest scope?

F2: Yes. So for this discussion, the jnana refers to the highest knowledge. It is the subject matter which incorporates all others, which is the most important. Jnana at the highest level is knowing the difference between matter and spirit. You touched on it earlier. There is an individual soul and a Supreme Soul. They actually reside right next to one another in the heart. What comes in between them is maya, or the illusory material energy.

F1: I’m assuming that jnana is important since most people likely have never heard of these things before.

F2: It’s impossible to figure out on your own. You have to learn it from someone who knows it already. Sort of like you can’t get a tree without first getting a seed from a previous tree. You can’t make yogurt unless you take cultures from existing yogurt. In the same way, true jnana does not come on its own. It has to be learned from someone.

[Shrila Prabhupada]F1: So what is bhakti?

F2: Bhakti is devotion. It is also love. What we normally consider to be love is actually lust. It’s an embarrassing truth, but when we say that we love certain people, we really don’t. They all offer us something in return; that’s why we think we love them. In most cases it is lust; which explains why relationships can break. Bhakti is pure love, not expecting anything in return.

F1: So jnana-yoga would be uniting with God through knowledge and bhakti-yoga through devotion?

F2: Exactly. One is the mental route and the other is the spiritual route. There is a physical route as well.

F1: Okay, so I’m glad you explained it like this. I’ve been bothered by something for the past few days.

F2: What is that?

F1: So you just explained bhakti-yoga and jnana-yoga nicely. I know that there’s a lot more to bhakti-yoga as well. Devotion is an umbrella term; it can encompass a host of different activities.

F2: Chanting, hearing, remembering, serving the lotus feet, surrendering everything - there are nine processes, as outlined by Prahlada Maharaja in the Shrimad Bhagavatam.

[Narasimhadeva with Prahlada]F1: And there are the different rasas too, right? You can be devoted to God in a mood of parental affection, friendship, or servitude. I think I’m forgetting a few.

F2: Yes. Conjugal love, madhurya-rasa, is considered the highest, but any of the rasas, even shanta-rasa, qualifies as bhakti-yoga.

F1: Okay, so here’s my question. If bhakti-yoga is love and devotion to God, how can it be explained? By describing the different rasas, by comparing bhakti to jnana, aren’t you practicing jnana-yoga?

F2: Since there is mental effort involved?

F1: Yes, exactly. You’re studying so much in bhakti-yoga. Shouldn’t that be absent? If you really love God, wouldn’t it be better to not know so many things? Wouldn’t the plethora of information interfere with your connection to Him?

F2: Those are good questions. You’re actually correct. In the highest stages of bhakti-yoga, the person loses all awareness for spirit, matter, rules and regulations. Take mother Yashoda for example. She is in vatsalya-rasa, loving God as a parent. She holds the Supreme Lord in her arms, as He appears as the tiny child named Krishna to her. She has pure love for Him. She is not thinking to herself, “Okay, I am in vatsalya-rasa. This is my service. If I can continue on this path, I will make advancement.”

[Mother Yashoda with Krishna]F1: That makes sense. If that is the case, why continue to offer so many explanations?

F2: Though bhakti-yoga is intrinsic to the soul, in the conditioned state it is very difficult to take up.

F1: What do you mean by conditioned?

F2: We have a choice. We can serve maya, the material nature, or Krishna, the Supreme Lord. Every person makes this choice in life. Even if they don’t know that Krishna is God, they still have some idea of spirit. They have this notion inside their head of what is spiritual and what is not. A person is very fortunate if they simply attempt to understand God. This is because they’ve chosen in favor of spirit; they’ve taken a first step in the right direction.

F1: So the purpose to these explanations is to convince people to take up bhakti-yoga?

F2: Right; exactly. If you simply practice it, you don’t need to worry so much about the philosophy. Just reciting the maha-mantra every day will be enough.

F1: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

[Worship of Radha and Krishna]F2: And if you think about it, the philosophical understanding has to be suppressed to some degree in pure bhakti-yoga. If you know that what you’re doing is good for you, that it will help you in the future, you’re likely looking for something from God. On the other side, if you forget that God will do all these good things for you, then when you practice bhakti-yoga you’re not seeking anything for yourself. That is true selflessness. That is pure devotion, and it is the original state for all individual spirit souls.

In Closing:

In jnana knowledge accepting,

Difference of matter and spirit detecting.


If bhakti love and devotion to be,

Should not of explanations be free?


Rasas and such for one purpose to know,

So that convinced in bhakti-yoga to go.


Mother Yashoda of son’s divinity not thinking,

Sweetness of Krishna’s image the eyes drinking.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Holi 2015

[Holi colors]“Then all the men and women of the city happily went to play Holi. Seeing Rama’s face, their hearts were full of happiness and attachment that cannot be measured.” (Gitavali, 310.5)

nagara-nāri-nara hara।sita saba cale khelana phāgu |
dekhi rāma cabi atulita umagata ura anurāga ||

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The Supreme Personality of Godhead is a mine of politeness. He is not just a little bit kind or a little bit nice. He truly wishes for the happiness of every single creature, large or small, young or old. He is intimately tied to them forever, as they are His eternal fragmental parts. They are struggling with the six senses in the material existence due to conditioned life. When they are fortunate enough to take to bhakti-yoga, which is service to Him joyfully performed, they no longer struggle. Every moment in that engagement calls for festivities, and the delineated holidays bring even more happiness. The celebration of Holi in the kingdom of Shri Rama is one such example.

rāja-vidyā rāja-guhyaṁ
pavitram idam uttamam
pratyakṣāvagamaṁ dharmyaṁ
su-sukhaṁ kartum avyayam

“This knowledge is the king of education, the most secret of all secrets. It is the purest knowledge, and because it gives direct perception of the self by realization, it is the perfection of religion. It is everlasting, and it is joyfully performed.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.2)

What is material life? Why is it a struggle? What is the purpose to an existence in it? Among those who are religiously inclined, there are two common outlooks on how life should be lived. The first says that God demands penance from the population that is full of sinners. Each person has sinned for too long, and so they need to repent for what they have done. They have forgotten the Supreme Lord and so they should forgo all enjoyments that keep them forgetful of Him.

Vedic philosophy concurs with these sentiments. The living entity is a spirit soul at the core. They are eternally linked to the supreme spirit in a relationship described as achintya-bheda-bheda-tattva. This is simultaneous oneness and difference. God is spirit and so is the individual. Both are the same qualitatively, but quantitatively there is a large gap. This combined difference and equality is inconceivable; the mind cannot fully grasp it.

The material existence is where the eternally linked individual souls separate from God. Total separation is not there; only in consciousness. The material elements are the inferior, external energy of God. The individual souls mistakenly identify with the material elements instead of spirit. Therefore they struggle. Human life is meant for tapasya, or austerity, specifically to regain the original consciousness, the understanding of one’s true identity.

[nature]The second outlook says that life is meant to be enjoyed. God created everything, after all. The hills, the mountains, the flowers, the plants, the trees, the air, the water - all these things are for man to use. What is the harm in having fun? If the Supreme Lord is really the best person, He must be the kindest. He must be compassionate upon the fallen. He must desire for them to be happy.

Vedic philosophy concurs with these sentiments too. The Supreme Lord is said to be all-attractive. Therefore the best name to describe Him is Krishna. The same Krishna is also Rama, the reservoir of transcendental pleasure. The Supreme Lord always enjoys, no matter where He is. Integral to that enjoyment is the association of devoted men and women. Animals, trees and insects also live in His spiritual land. Wherever the individual finds themselves, the Supreme Lord wishes for them to be happy in service to Him.

It is this service that plays the determining factor. The idea is to always live in consciousness of God. This reconciles the conflict in the two outlooks. Enjoy life to the fullest, but don’t forget Him. Of course this is difficult to do. The path seems almost contradictory. If I enjoy with friends and family, how can I remember God? Won’t I view Him as an order supplier instead of the person with whom I am meant to enjoy?

[Lord Rama]The ideal example comes to us from the scene referenced above. Here Shri Krishna has descended to earth in His incarnation of Rama. While Krishna enjoys all the time, Rama sometimes has to lay down laws for the people to follow. He accepts the role of a warrior prince, so His day is not full of fun and games. He Himself is always in bliss, but externally through occupation He displays seriousness from time to time.

Here He is ruling over the kingdom of Ayodhya. The citizens are so happy to be governed by Him. Ayodhya at this time is truly the kingdom of God. In that kingdom there are celebrations of all sorts. Holi, the festival of colors, gets celebrated in a way we can’t fathom, with nothing held back. Holi is an ancient holiday whose origin is with devotion to God. Once a five-year old son of a king refused to give up his devotion to Krishna. The boy’s father wanted this devotion to go away, to the point that he could no longer tolerate it in his son. The king then tried to kill his son in so many ways, including placing him in a fire. The boy’s devotion defeated the father’s antagonism every time. In the incident with the fire, it was the king’s sister Holika who died. The boy Prahlada survived, and the ashes of Holika that remained have since become the iconic symbol of the holiday known as Holi.

[Radha and Krishna playing Holi]Holi thus marks the victory of strong devotion over obstinate non-devotion. Colors are thrown about, with no person spared. The festival is meant to be in good fun, and from the example in Ayodhya we see that it is meant to be performed in full consciousness of God. Here the people got the direct sanction from Rama to start the festivities. They went to play Holi very happily. Holi is also known as Phagu, since it occurs in the month of Phalguna at the time of the full moon, Purnima.

[Lord Rama]While they played, they kept Rama’s face in mind. Goswami Tulsidas says that their attachment to Rama was so strong that it could not be measured. The people had so much love in their hearts. And of course such enjoyment of the people brought so much joy to the Supreme Lord also. In bhakti-yoga we find the true meaning to living, transcending location, physical designations and language. The people of Ayodhya show that any place can be made into the real heaven, as long as the Supreme Lord remains at the center.

In Closing:

As sinners repentant to be,

Or our enjoyment God should see?


Agreeing with both the Vedic conclusion,

Enjoy but with God in mind, no confusion.


Like into Holi’s festival to enter,

Ayodhya’s people keeping Rama at the center.


Though playing attachment only to grow,

Through bhakti any land becoming heaven you know.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Gaura Purnima 2015

[Lord Chaitanya birth]“I offer my respectful obeisances unto the full-moon evening in the month of Phalguna, an auspicious time full of auspicious symptoms, when Lord Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu advented Himself with the chanting of the holy name, Hare Krishna.” (Chaitanya Charitamrita, Adi 13.19)

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sarva-sad-guṇa-pūrṇāṁ tāṁ
vande phālguna-pūrṇimām
yasyāṁ śrī-kṛṣṇa-caitanyo
'vatīrṇaḥ kṛṣṇa-nāmabhiḥ

To anyone who has ever sang the maha-mantra with attention, faith and love, the occasion of Gaura Purnima is very special. It marks the anniversary of when Gauranga Mahaprabhu descended to this world. He singlehandedly altered the landscape of the present age by introducing a time-honored tradition to the world in a new way, a way that would bring the people together at a time when they were finding any way possible to remain divided. That way addressed the true nature of the individual and the common bond they share with all other individuals.

In the Bhagavad-gita we learn that a wise soul applies an equal vision to the different species. From recent history we know that man has the tendency to discriminate. Wars have taken place simply over differences in race. Nations have sailed to other lands, found the people to be different, and then decided to make slaves out of them. The flawed notion is that the difference, which is only at the bodily level, makes the people themselves either superior or inferior.

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 vision of the humble sage]With this history in mind, it is not surprising that in formal education the idea of equality is presented. The Bhagavad-gita completes the idea by extending the vision of equality to all species. The humble sage, using his true knowledge, understands that the cow, the dog, the dog-eater, the elephant and the wise priest are all the same constitutionally. They are spirit soul at the core, which means that at the level which matters most, there is equality.

If a wise human being can have this vision, then most certainly it already belongs to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. There is something even more important that links all the souls: their relationship to God. The Supreme, who is spirit also but of a higher quantitative potency, resides within each heart as the Supersoul. So not only is every living thing a spirit soul, but they also have the origin of all living things within them.

The present age of Kali features quarrel and hypocrisy. Though we all have the two previously mentioned features in common, we find any which way to make differences. Our focus is only on svartha, or personal interest, and not paramartha, or supreme interest. Svartha changes as the body changes, and since the individual bodies are different and in changing circumstances, svartha is never fixed. With different desires, there are bound to be clashes; hence the division.

[Lord Chaitanya]Paramartha is the same for everyone. That supreme interest derives from the relationship between individual spirit and supreme spirit. How do we describe that relationship? Lord Chaitanya, the bright moon to dissipate the darkness of Kali’s age, descends to teach us. He presents the philosophy of achintya-bheda-bheda. This truth says that the living individual spirit is simultaneously one with and different from the Supreme Spirit. This combination is impossible to grasp fully; it is inconceivable.

If it’s achintya, then how are people going to learn? We have evidence right now of one way to acquire something similar to the vision of equality without consulting philosophy. We can take the example of the famous musician or band. They are known for the music they play. Their songs touch the hearts of so many that there is interest across the world to have them perform live. Thus the famous recording artist or band embarks on world tours, playing to sold out arenas in every major city.

The members of the band may have prejudices going in. They may be victims of the tendency to divide based on clashing self-interests. They may even have disagreements within the band, looking at their fellow mates as colleagues instead of friends. Through touring the world, however, they accidentally stumble upon the fact that people share something in common. Regardless of language, age or ethnicity, the fans seem to like the songs that the band plays. They offer praises, kind words, and even gifts. How are the band members to maintain their prejudices then? If they have yet to get rid of them, they still have to think twice before speaking up, for they know that their fans are not limited to only one group of people.

The philosophy of simultaneous oneness and difference can similarly be spread through music. Lord Chaitanya was famous for His ability to chant and dance. He only had one set of lyrics, though. There was only one song He would sing, to different melodies and tunes. That song was the maha-mantra: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

[maha-mantra]On the outside this mantra seems different from God. For starters, it is simply a set of words. It has no physical form. It can only be heard. Even when read, the final result is hearing. Words are nothing more than markers to help create sounds. Yet these words are non-different from God. The person hearing them does not have to know these things right away. They don’t have to know that Krishna means “all-attractive” or that Rama means “the reservoir of all transcendental pleasure.” They don’t need to know that they are meeting their paramartha by chanting these names. Simply hearing will be sufficient.

There is every risk involved in teaching others about the science of self-realization. The important topic of worshiping the Supreme Lord should be benign, but it brings great opposition. There are so many divisions already, and if the recipient develops a flawed understanding they could end up offending God and His devotees. Why take the risk, then?

[Lord Chaitanya sankirtana]Lord Chaitanya saw the dreadful condition of the people of the age of Kali. He wanted to unite them, regardless of what divisions they had already created. He found the perfect way in the sankirtana movement, the congregational chanting of the holy names. While people have been singing the glories of God for centuries, it was never done in such an assertive and open way. Lord Chaitanya went to the people instead of the people coming to Him. His spiritual descendants follow the same example, for they know that everyone is intimately linked to God and that they will find true happiness only through connecting with Him. On the occasion of Gaura Purnima we remember and honor the beautiful son of mother Shachi, who worked to bring the people of the world together, to unite them in the peace that is bhakti-yoga.

In Closing:

On this day Gaura Purnima to fall,

Remember the golden savior of all.


Who to Supreme Lord the same,

To teach bhakti philosophy came.


To the people He fearlessly went,

Sounds of holy names to them sent.


From this highest awareness coming,

In harmony of bhakti age golden becoming.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Where To Beg

[Sita and Rama]“Both personal interest and supreme interest are met by Sita and Rama. Why then, O Tulsi, do you approach the doors of others to have your desires met?” (Dohavali, 53)

svāratha sītā rāma so paramāratha siya rāma |
tulasī tero dusare dvāra kahā kahu kāma ||

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As Shakespeare says that all the world’s a stage, we can say that everyone on that stage is a beggar of some kind. Hardly anyone thinks this way, but from a quick study there can be no doubt into the fact. From the state of infancy alone we know that the human being can’t survive without asking for things from a higher power. As the journey through life continues the areas where begging takes place change, but the helpless condition of the living entity does not. Knowing the eternal nature of the soul, Goswami Tulsidas says there is only one place a person should go to have their desires of this world and the next met.

We commonly identify beggars as those who roam the streets looking for handouts. They may even make signs saying that they need food or some other help. Perhaps they wait at a streetlight where cars will line up. Maybe they are in the train stations where there is a lot of foot traffic. The economic conditions of the area determine how many beggars there will be, but one thing is for certain: no one prefers to be in the situation where they have to ask others for help.

[shareholder meeting]But indeed everyone does this; even the CEO of the richest company in the world. These leaders are not free to speak their mind. If they say something offensive in an interview, they have to make a statement later on apologizing. They often don’t mean what they say, but in order to continue to earn profits, they must submit to the will of the people. They also must hold their tongue at shareholder meetings and when travelling anywhere in public. They are at the mercy of those who control their financial situation.

In industrialized nations, the begging takes place in a more dignified way. Instead of going door to door to ask for money, the destitute person gets an electronic card that they can sign up for on the internet. They get a separate card to pay for food. They likely have a mobile telephone, an air conditioner, an automobile, and their own home. Though they don’t consider themselves to be a beggar, they live at the mercy of the taxpayer.

To be compelled to beg this way is only natural, as the individual has very little power when under the grip of the formidable material nature. In the Bhagavad-gita, Shri Krishna says that all living entities are His fragmental parts. Not the kind of fragment where the whole gets broken apart- these fragments come off of Krishna, who is God, but the Supreme Lord remains the same. He is the complete whole always. The living entities are described as fragments to help us understand their minute nature. They are actually expansions emanating from the storehouse of spirit that is Krishna.

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

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

[tree with fruits]These fragments are struggling very hard living under the material nature. What gives them trouble are the six senses, which include the mind. A person who struggles is always battling something. A person who is fighting a higher force needs help to survive. Even the most peaceful person in the world, who has no attachments, has to ask for help to remain alive. If they take fruits that fall off a tree, they essentially beg from that tree. If they drink water from a river, they are at the mercy of that river. If they live in a cave, they take shelter from the material nature and its ability to make such secluded areas.

There is the present world from which we must beg, but there is also the future to consider. This is the destination of the soul after death. Goswami Tulsidas says that Sita and Rama meet both interests. Svartha consists of the things that we see right now and paramartha is that which we can’t see. Paramartha is important since through intelligence we know that there will be another existence. Everyone born right now had to be somewhere else before. In that previous destination there was svartha, and what they desire now was previously their paramartha.

Sita and Rama are the same Radha and Krishna. They are just different manifestations of the Supreme Lord’s energy and the Supreme Lord Himself. Tulsidas says that there is no reason to beg from the doors of others to have desires met. He mentions approaching doors because he himself did this on a regular basis. In adult life his occupation was sannyasi, which is sort of like a homeless spiritual traveler. The rules of that institution state that a person cannot earn a living. They must beg for their necessities.

[Goswami Tulsidas]If they are bona fide in that position, they actually aren’t begging. By travelling from door to door and asking for little things to eat, they are giving the chance for service to fortunate people in householder life. The proprietors of these homes get the chance to associate with a saint, who gives the same advice: approach Sita and Rama to have your interests met.

Here svartha and paramartha are linked. In fact, they are identical in the higher scheme. What will worldly interest do for me if in the future I am condemned? What is some food today going to do if tomorrow I will have to die and go somewhere else? The individual is a spirit soul at the core and God is the supreme spirit. Begging from Him directly takes care of all needs.

“Does this mean that if I am hungry I should pray to God? Didn’t the communists use this experiment as a way to disprove religion, to show that God doesn’t exist?”

[Sita and Rama]The meaning is to first approach the Supreme Lord and His energy expansion. Sita Devi is the goddess of fortune. She provides whatever is needed to execute devotional service, which pleases her husband. The wise soul does not abandon their other duties, mistakenly putting the burden on God to do everything. The meaning here is to realize that no ordinary person can fulfill the real interests of the living entity. Everyone is dependent on the Supreme Lord, so to approach Him first is the right move. One should approach Him directly instead of going to one of His subordinates, who are gods in their own right. Worshiping the deputy gods who manage the material creation is begging at someone’s door, and it does not meet both personal and supreme interest. Sita and Rama are the life and soul of Goswami Tulsidas, and therefore his lone interest, to serve them, is forever met.

In Closing:

Since not in destitution to sink,

Living as beggar you don’t think.


But know that someone you must approach,

To have needs met, for surviving your only hope.


Like this all to beg in some way,

Go to God, Goswami Tulsidas to say.


Worldly and supreme desires thus met,

Facility for devotional life from Sita Devi get.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Why People Fight

[Rama's lotus feet]“When plant life is green, there is grazing. When it becomes old, it turns into fuel for fire. When it grows and bears fruits, people grab at it with an open hand. Tulsi says that all are friends only when a personal interest is met, but Shri Rama meets the supreme interest.” (Dohavali, 52)

hare carahiṃ tāpahiṃ bare phareṃ pasārahiṃ hātha |
tulasī svāratha mīta saba paramāratha raghunātha ||

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Why do we see so much conflict? Why can’t people get along? What would drive a person to do despicable things? Why can’t couples stay together? In a short couplet describing the difference between svartha and paramartha, Goswami Tulsidas gives the answer. Svartha is always changing, and the relationships it makes are based on exploitation. Even with that attitude, everything can be made right, as paramartha is there for the taking through the association of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

Self-interest - people act for this. We can get angry that a person buys so many expensive things after succeeding in a business venture, but if we were in their situation we’d likely behave the same way. After all, who goes into an endeavor hoping to fail? Even someone who works for a non-profit looks for a return on their work. That return gets categorized differently according to the tax code, but the self-interest is met nonetheless.

Self-interest corresponds to desire, and we know that desires change. Also, we know that when something is undesirable, we try to avoid it. This behavior is a kind of exploitation, though since everyone does it we don’t really look at it that way.

[green grass]Tulsidas gives some examples of how this works. The grass gets eaten when it is green. When the grass dries out and dies, it gets used for fuel. Extending the concept to all plant life, when there are fruits people approach with an open hand.

From these exchanges relationships form, which can be easily mistaken for friendship. The bond is only through self-interest. Once that is gone, the friendship is no more. Think of the professional athlete. When he is performing well, fans purchase the jersey with his number on it. They praise him and watch every one of his games. As soon as he loses abilities, he ceases being desirable. Likely the team doesn’t even keep him. The link with the fans gradually fades also.

The Supreme Lord meets the supreme interest, paramartha. This is what is good for us in the end. The end doesn’t have to mean the next life. It is the core of the issue, what remains after we are done jumping from friendship to friendship based on svartha. Paramartha is what will be ultimately beneficial to us.

Only God meets the supreme interest. This fact clears up so many misconceptions. The Supreme Lord is not for meeting svartha, as we understand it. That toy we wanted as a kid - we didn’t need to pray to God for it. When we want good health, fortune, or top performance on an exam, it is not the Supreme Lord’s place to deliver. He surely can, as He creates this and every other universe effortlessly. He can grant anything in a second, but trivial things relating to the temporary body are handled by the inferior material nature and the personalities managing it, who are gods in their own right.

The Supreme Lord is there to give eternal bliss to the soul. His personal presence is the best gift anyone can ask for. We are never devoid of that presence, only consciousness of it. He rests within us as the Supersoul, but the personal form with features distinguishable to the conditioned eye is a better gift. Rama is one such personal form, and He comes to anyone who wants His association. Even if we can’t see Him and think that He is far away, He arrives through the sound of His name. This is why the wise souls always chant His names, such as those found in the maha-mantra: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

Are we not exploiting God in this way? Are we not only making a friendship with Him to meet our supreme interest?

[Rama's lotus feet]Even if the attitude is there in the beginning, there is nowhere to go beyond supreme interest. It is not as if God meets our interest now and then later on that interest should change. Through His association, the consciousness transforms for the better. The desires in the individual start to transform to the point that they only want to do more and more to serve and please the personal God. They realize that everyone has the same supreme interest, and so they try to share the association of the Divine with others. They know that this is the best service to man.

In Closing:

Nation against nation and husband with wife,

Why the discord, why do people fight?


Svartha, from self-interest this comes,

Always changing, of steadiness none.


For supreme interest to personal God go,

Gradually the oneness of paramartha know.


Then to others this precious gift giving,

So that everyone in perfect harmony living.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Everybody Hates Everybody

[Rama's lotus feet]“When plant life is green, there is grazing. When it becomes old, it turns into fuel for fire. When it grows and bears fruits, people grab at it with an open hand. Tulsi says that all are friends only when a personal interest is met, but Shri Rama meets the supreme interest.” (Dohavali, 52)

hare carahiṃ tāpahiṃ bare phareṃ pasārahiṃ hātha |
tulasī svāratha mīta saba paramāratha raghunātha ||

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“I’ve reached a conclusion about the people of this world. Besides eventual death, there is one thing they share in common. Everybody hates everybody. It seems silly to say, but I really have no doubt anymore. Every person I meet, I feel shy to mention any other person in front of them. If I say that I like this person on the radio, they will tell me how much they hate him. If I tell them about time spent with family members, they will bring up so many bad moments from the past.

“I’m at the point where I don’t even bother anymore. We’re not just talking children here. We don’t expect a child to have so much intelligence. They are in the process of learning etiquette anyway. I’m including adults in this declaration, spanning all the way up to grandparents. It’s just the sad state of this world. No one gets along. They sometimes fake it, but deep down they have issues. It makes me think that I don’t belong here. What could be causing this?  Why so much hate?”

[anger]There are two corresponding Sanskrit terms noteworthy for this discussion: svartha and paramartha. Artha is an interest. It can also translate to “economic development.” That which is profitable in one degree or another is artha. Since rules and guidelines help me to be successful in something, they too can be defined as artha. That which goes against the desired objective becomes “anartha.”

The “sva” prefix means self. So svartha is the interest of the self, i.e. personal interest. Right away we see that svartha cannot be uniform. This is because people find themselves in all sorts of situations. One person is running an established company that sells footwear. Another person decides to open up their own store since they have interest in the same field. The svarthas thus clash. The individuals both hope for the success of their respective stores. They don’t want their competitor to succeed. Therefore meeting one person’s self-interest automatically means making the other person unprofitable.

If the stores merged, the svarthas combine into one. But there are so many living entities to consider, each one going through different stages of life. Svartha is always there, which means that the combination of things that help in profit and things that don’t will also always exist. That which helps in meeting the self-interest becomes liked. This is the actual basis for friendship, though we rarely think of it in these terms.

[hay burning]Goswami Tulsidas gives examples to show how this works. In the above referenced verse from the Dohavali, he mentions plant life. When it is green, there is grazing. When it produces fruits, people approach it with an open hand. When it dries up, it gets burned; used as fuel. Tulsidas says that all friends act like this. As long as there is some personal interest being met, there is friendship.

We can take other examples to see the same concept. The cow that grazes on the green pastures is friendly for as long as it produces milk. When it is done loving its children, the only use seen to fulfill self-interest is death. The death of the cow brings beef, which is to be eaten.

The parents help us during our youth. They provide for us. They give us protection. We constantly ask them for things. When we become adults, from time to time we invite them over to take care of our children. This allows us to get a break, a chance to leave the house occasionally. When the parents become too old to take care of themselves, when they cease serving our self-interest, we send them to a nursing home.

Svartha is based on the body, which is temporary. This means that as the body keeps changing, so do our likes. This guarantees the situation of disliking so many people. As my interests are bound to change, the people I consider to be friends will as well. The people who formerly helped me are no longer of use to me, so why should I consider them to be friends? If they are obstacles in my path, why wouldn’t I dislike them?

Tulsidas mentions this truth about friendship for a reason. Paramartha is more important. The “param” prefix means supreme. Unlike svartha, paramartha is the same for everyone. It is what is best for the soul, which is the essence of identity. Tulsidas says that Shri Rama, the lord of the Raghu dynasty, meets the paramartha of everyone. Whether I am an insect, a dog, a child or an adult, my paramartha does not change.

That singular supreme interest is the association of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He is always my well-wishing friend. He does not hate anyone. He has no interest to be met, so there is no concept of friend or enemy to Him. Every living thing is His child, so there is only love from Him always. He loves so much that He does not interfere with free will. He does not force anyone to seek His association or maintain it.

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

“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)

[Lord Rama]The wise souls who follow devotion to Him inherit a similar disposition. They rise above the duality of friendship and hatred. They see all individuals as spirit souls whose supreme interest is identical. They understand that even svartha can be met with God’s association. In both the short and long terms, devotion to God pays off. It brings happiness, which is what the soul seeks. Bliss is the natural disposition of the living entity, and supreme bliss is found in devotion to God the person.

In Closing:

Concluded that everyone for everyone has hate,

Regret to say, but this the world’s current state.


Why has this come to be,

Why as friend or enemy to see?


Svartha the short-term interest of mine,

Always to change, thus enemies to find.


Paramartha for all time and people the same,

Met by God, having personal form and name.