Saturday, April 25, 2015

The Most Honest Presentation

[Krishna speaking to Arjuna]“Ishvara (the Supreme Lord), jiva (the living entity), prakriti (nature), eternal time and karma (activity) are all explained in the Bhagavad-gita. Out of these five, the Lord, the living entities, material nature and time are eternal.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, Introduction)

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Not only is the Bhagavad-gita a thorough presentation of the science of self-realization, but it is completely honest as well. No relevant subject matter is hidden from view. Though considered a religious book by the less intelligent, in the Bhagavad-gita there is no mention of a specific faith. There is no proper name ascribed to followers of the science as it is presented, as the rules exist and operate regardless of one’s knowledge of them. The fact that all sides are discussed further substantiates the teacher’s standing as the highest authority figure.

[Lord Krishna]The teacher who speaks the Bhagavad-gita is Shri Krishna. In the timeline of our history, He is a personality who appeared on this earth some five thousand years ago. He was the rightful son of Vasudeva and his wife Devaki. Since He was shifted to Gokula in His youth, Krishna accepted Nanda Maharaja and Yashoda as foster parents. Krishna’s elder brother was Balarama, His uncle King Kamsa, and His cousin the great warrior Arjuna.

It was to this Arjuna that the Bhagavad-gita was directed, and it was only after help was sought. Krishna did not impose this highest knowledge, the king of education, the secret of all secrets, upon His dear friend who happened to also be His cousin. This presentation was not concocted on the spot; it dated all the way back to the beginning of creation.

śrī-bhagavān uvāca
imaṁ vivasvate yogaṁ
proktavān aham avyayam
vivasvān manave prāha
manur ikṣvākave 'bravīt

“The Blessed Lord said: I instructed this imperishable science of yoga to the sun-god, Vivasvan, and Vivasvan instructed it to Manu, the father of mankind, and Manu in turn instructed it to Ikshvaku.” (Bhagavad-gita, 4.1)

The word “creation” brings to mind religion, faith, and the automatic dismissal of science, which studies the perceptions of the nature around us. But in fact Krishna’s presentation is very scientific. It starts off with the fundamental truth of the difference between matter and spirit. This is understood at the local level with the distinction between matter and individuality. The individual gets its identity from spirit soul and not from the body, which is temporary. That body continuously changes, like from boyhood to youth and then to old age. At the time of death, the individual within shifts to a completely different body.

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, Bg. 2.13)

It is only after several important topics are covered do we come to learn of Krishna’s true identity, as the Supreme Lord. This title is difficult to understand, so the point is reemphasized in different ways. Krishna is the light of the sun, the sacred syllable om, the fragrance of the earth and the taste of water. These are Krishna’s truthful statements, but Arjuna also confirms the Lord’s high position through words of praise.

arjuna uvāca
paraṁ brahma paraṁ dhāma
pavitraṁ paramaṁ bhavān
puruṣaṁ śāśvataṁ divyam
ādi-devam ajaṁ vibhum
āhus tvām ṛṣayaḥ sarve
devarṣir nāradas tathā
asito devalo vyāsaḥ
svayaṁ caiva bravīṣi me

“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. All the great sages such as Narada, Asita, Devala, and Vyasa proclaim this of You, and now You Yourself are declaring it to me.” (Bg. 10.12-13)

[Krishna and Arjuna]Arjuna also points to other authorities of the Vedic tradition who support the claim of Krishna’s divinity. Some of these are contemporaries and some are historical figures from the past. Still, if one does not want to take the word of Krishna or Arjuna, they can make a study of the presentation itself to assess where it stands in comparison to other presentations.

Krishna’s teachings cover all sides of an existence. The religious aspect is surely there. “Surrender to a divine figure. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to be saved. Get salvation through consciousness of the origin of all.”

There is more to it than just faith, however. Krishna covers the opposing argument, namely that there is no God. He explains why the atheist thinks the way they do. They believe that everything comes together through randomness, that there is no difference between matter and spirit. Though there is intelligence to all aspects of life, including in the supporting nature, the foolish think that sex alone is responsible for generating life and that with death everything ends.

Krishna discusses the Supreme Controller, the living entity, the material nature, time and fruitive activity. None of these topics are sectarian. They apply to all people in all time periods. They apply to people of all faiths and all languages. As each topic is so complex, from studying all of them you get an idea of the behavior and traits of all creatures. You get the reason for the creation, the purpose to the human life, and the proper understanding of happiness and sadness.

Do competing philosophies feature the same comprehensiveness? When studying material science, do the topics of time, the individual and the material nature get covered? Do the experts at least present Shri Krishna’s teachings, which are also known as Vedanta? Do they lay everything on the table and allow the student to choose for themselves?

iti te jñānam ākhyātaṁ
guhyād guhyataraṁ mayā
vimṛśyaitad aśeṣeṇa
yathecchasi tathā kuru

“Thus I have explained to you the most confidential of all knowledge. Deliberate on this fully, and then do what you wish to do.” (Lord Krishna, Bg. 18.63)

Krishna is Ishvara, which means He has the most control to wield. Though He knows that all philosophies besides devotion to Him are flawed to some degree, He does not force His way upon anyone. He delivered the Bhagavad-gita to Arjuna and then left the choice up to him. When Arjuna continued in bhakti-yoga, which is the ultimate conclusion of the teachings of the Bhagavad-gita, he did so of his own volition. He made an educated decision, which pleased the supreme controller very much.

[Krishna and Arjuna]Any other philosophical, religious, or scientific presentation must conceal the confidential knowledge of the Bhagavad-gita in order to get followers. If everything were laid on the table, Krishna’s philosophy would win amongst sober individuals since it presents all sides. It gives every person a chance to understand themselves and where they fit into the larger picture. As Krishna is the most honest, He is the one most worth following.

In Closing:

By competitors always something concealed,

Not with Krishna, in Gita everything revealed.


Highest knowledge in Arjuna to confide,

Thoroughly covering main topics five.


Will others this opportunity give,

So that with educated decision to live?


Honesty more support to case lending,

That Krishna is God, others only pretending.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Talking About Bad Visions

[Krishna and Arjuna]“One who sees the Supersoul accompanying the individual soul in all bodies and who understands that neither the soul nor the Supersoul is ever destroyed, actually sees.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 13.28)

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samaṁ sarveṣu bhūteṣu
tiṣṭhantaṁ parameśvaram
vinaśyatsv avinaśyantaṁ
yaḥ paśyati sa paśyati

Friend-One: What is intelligence?

Friend-Two: It is part of the subtle body. It goes along with mind and false ego.

F1: What is the gross body?

F2: Earth, water, fire, air and ether. Every living entity in the material world is made up of a combination of these elements [Bg. 7.4].

F1: Okay, but I want to know in a specific context, like when we say that someone has intelligence. Who would you say is a smart person?

F2: Well, you can use the same information as your way to judge. An intelligent person sees that every living entity is covered by these eight material elements.

F1: What do you mean by covered?

F2: The soul is the identifying force. You are spirit soul. So am I. So is the cat, the dog, the ant, the elephant, the tiger, etc. An intelligent person sees this.

F1: So you’re basing intelligence on vision?

F2: Yes, that’s one way to put it. There is a verse in the Bhagavad-gita that says that the person who sees the individual soul and the Supersoul within all bodies actually sees.

F1: I see, no pun intended. I’m assuming that the default condition is to see the material elements instead.

F2: Exactly. You can’t be blamed for that. They are gross elements for a reason; they stand right before your eyes. Yet we know that each person has a mind. We know that there is something called an ego. So we don’t have to rely on only the gross elements. And then delving deeper still the wise person sees what is driving everything.

F1: What is the difference between the individual soul and the Supersoul?

F2: Both are similar in quality. The intelligent person knows that both souls never die. They cannot be killed. The individual soul remains local, whereas the Supersoul extends. As I don’t live in you and you don’t live in me, the individual soul is limited.

F1: The Supersoul is the same in everyone?

F2: Yeah. And it’s not a division. The Supersoul is one way to understand God. He is both within and without. He is everywhere. As the Supersoul He witnesses everything happening, from past, present and future.

F1: Okay. I like that way of assessing intelligence. So is it safe to assume that the person who actually sees ends up seeing this spiritual quality all the time?

F2: For sure. In the highest state of consciousness, bhakti-yoga, the person sees God all the time. They are always in a blissful mood as a result. They cannot be phased.

F1: Okay, here is my bigger question then. Bouncing off of what you just said, doesn’t it mean that the intelligent person also sees everything bad that has happened?

F2: What do you mean?

F1: For example, a person typically has no problem eating meat, as long as they don’t remain conscious of how the food got on their table. A person does not object to abortion, since the entity being killed is small and behind the veil of the human body. So these are two instances of where intelligence is lacking.

F2: I’ll agree with that.

F1: So the intelligent person sees that there is violence in these instances. They see all the tragedies of the world. They empathize with what people go through. How, then, can such a person be happy? Are they not tortured by the suffering of the people in the material world?

[changing bodies]F2: That’s a good question. But keep in mind what the intelligent person actually notices. They see spirit, which they know cannot be killed. So these tragedies are really no different than normal deaths, which represent the changing of bodies. There is a reason that one of the first instructions from Krishna to Arjuna relates to the changing body and how the soul is never killed [Bg. 2.20].

F1: How can they remain happy, though? Shouldn’t such tragedies make them lament?

F2: You should know that showing these negative images on a regular basis is the weapon of the demon, or the person who is against God. They know that the less intelligent will easily lament over something that happens to the body. Therefore they try their best to keep these images in front of people, as a way to control them.

F1: Like with television news coverage?

[Shri Hanuman]F2: That’s a great example from the modern times. You can think of the hostage video also. There are examples from the past too. The people living in Lanka a long time ago were Rakshasas, which is a species that is expert in black magic. They used to show images of the Supreme Lord Rama being killed as a way to scare. It works for a moment or two, but the devoted souls never go off their game. Sita Devi, Rama’s wife, was undeterred in her vow of chastity. The Vanaras working for Rama continued to fight despite seeing these false images.

F1: So are you not supposed to lament at all?

F2: You don’t have to go that far. It’s natural to feel pain at someone else’s distress. The key is to not let it take you off the righteous path. If you have the Divine Vision, you don’t want to lose it. The enemies of God win when these images are constantly shown to those who cannot see the underlying spiritual quality in all beings. The supporters of God triumph when more and more are armed with the vision that is indicative of the highest intelligence.

In Closing:

Poor vision of the people knowing,

So demons tragic images showing.


Intelligence from what one can see,

How spirit soul eternally vibrant to be.


Rakshasas in past this too tried,

On black magic to frighten relied.


But Sita and Vanaras not shaken,

Bhakti-yoga by them never forsaken.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

The Universal Secret Of All-Time

[Krishna speaking to Arjuna]“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)

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

As soon as it exits the womb, the young child enters the discovery process. They have some intelligence going in. This must be the case, otherwise how would they know how to cry? How would they know how to eat? We see this intelligence at a higher level at the beginning of life in other species. The human being needs a GPS application to travel to a foreign place. They need the same app when returning home. Yet the bees and birds remember where their homes are. They go out looking for food and then come back without a problem.

sarvasya cāhaṁ hṛdi sanniviṣṭo
mattaḥ smṛtir jñānam apohanaṁ ca
vedaiś ca sarvair aham eva vedyo
vedānta-kṛd veda-vid eva cāham

“I am seated in everyone's heart, and from Me come remembrance, knowledge and forgetfulness. By all the Vedas am I to be known; indeed I am the compiler of Vedanta, and I am the knower of the Vedas.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 15.15)

[1 + 1 = 2]Armed with some intelligence, the newborn begins to take in the world that is foreign to it. The extended classroom that is the journey through life can be likened to a track where new secrets constantly get revealed. There is the secret that one plus one equals two. This is simple enough to understand for the adult, but previously the same person had to learn this truth and realize its validity through their own effort.

At a more mature level, there is the secret that death must occur. Before death even there is old age. While the person in denial will try every which way to extend life indefinitely, the issue remains that the childhood body cannot return. At one time the human being lived inside of a tiny space known as a womb, but in adulthood there is no way to repeat the same. Thus time shows its mark at every step, culminating with the dreadful event known as death.

Is there knowledge beyond this? Is there a higher secret? In the Bhagavad-gita, Shri Krishna says that there is. The knowledge He imparts to Arjuna is described as the secret of secrets, raja-guhyam. This information is most confidential, and it is befittingly paired with those who are seeking answers to the bigger questions in life. Though this knowledge is powerful in all respects and can deliver anyone, it is not intended to be heard by those who are of the demoniac nature. People in this category think that life comes simply through sex desire and that there is no controller behind everything.

asatyam apratiṣṭhaṁ te
jagad āhur anīśvaram
kim anyat kāma-haitukam

“They say that this world is unreal, that there is no foundation and that there is no God in control. It is produced of sex desire, and has no cause other than lust.” (Lord Krishna, Bg. 16.8)

[chocolate]The most confidential knowledge directly refutes that claim. It is the secret of all secrets because it goes through all of space and through every time period. The secrets we learn of one plus one and guaranteed death apply to this lifetime. The various secrets pertaining to maintenance of the body apply only to the local sphere. As a simple example, the human being can eat chocolate and get some nutrition out of it. The same chocolate is toxic for the dog, however. Therefore such secrets apply only in limited circumstances.

The knowledge given by Krishna is universal. He says that He is the origin of the entire creation. He creates, causing the manifestation. By His will everything is maintained. He then destroys, resulting in annihilation. Though this is work done on the largest scale, and thus requiring the most effort, Krishna is not affected by any of it. The universal manifestation is one way to understand Him, and yet it is still an incomplete representation.

[the universal form]Creation and annihilation occur through time. As Krishna is the constant factor, He is superior to time. In fact, time is one way to understand Him. Those who belong to the category known as “atheist” deny the existence of Krishna, or God, but they still acknowledge time. Therefore they are technically theists who only know of the Divine through His formidable force that is time. In this sense everyone is a theist to some degree.

Those who accept and understand the most confidential knowledge associate with the Divine in a way that brings superior results. The universal secret of all-time delivers the fallen soul from the clutches of the material space and the influence that time has on it. The Supreme Lord brings the rescued to His side, where they engage in service in one of nine different ways.

śrī-prahrāda uvāca
śravaṇaṁ kīrtanaṁ viṣṇoḥ
smaraṇaṁ pāda-sevanam
arcanaṁ vandanaṁ dāsyaṁ
sakhyam ātma-nivedanam

“Hearing and chanting about the transcendental holy name, form, qualities, paraphernalia and pastimes of Lord Vishnu, remembering them, serving the lotus feet of the Lord, offering the Lord respectful worship with sixteen types of paraphernalia, offering prayers to the Lord, becoming His servant, considering the Lord one's best friend, and surrendering everything unto Him (in other words, serving Him with the body, mind and words) - these nine processes are accepted as pure devotional service.” (Prahlada Maharaja, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 7.5.23)

[Prahlada]“If this secret is universal, why isn’t it shared with everyone? If it applies to all of time, why is it delivered at a specific moment in time, namely the battlefield of Kurukshetra some five thousand years ago?”

Though the most confidential knowledge is difficult to find, it actually never disappears. Just as certain groups rise to prominence and then later fall again, the devoted souls on earth are sometimes larger or smaller in number. The knowledge remains intact through the system of parampara, or disciplic succession. This is also explained in the Bhagavad-gita.

evaṁ paramparā-prāptam
imaṁ rājarṣayo viduḥ
sa kāleneha mahatā
yogo naṣṭaḥ parantapa

“This supreme science was thus received through the chain of disciplic succession, and the saintly kings understood it in that way. But in course of time the succession was broken, and therefore the science as it is appears to be lost.” (Lord Krishna, Bg. 4.2)

The secret is shared with those who will make proper use of it. We can think of it like not explaining the higher truths of mathematics to someone who doesn’t even know one plus one. Lecturing the person in this situation serves no purpose.

[Prahlada]One aspect to the universal secret is that the potency of the original creator is not limited simply to knowledge. That potency extends to all aspects directly representing Him, including His name. This means that one who is not yet fortunate enough to have access to the most confidential knowledge can still connect with the Supreme Lord. The chanting of the holy names creates this connection, and it eventually brings the universal secret of all-time to the here and now: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

In Closing:

Not limited to a certain place to shine,

For everywhere is universal secret of all-time.


This information to only those going,

Who desire higher truths for knowing.


Other knowledge limited to apply,

Not giving reason for living why.


Secret available for even knowledge without,

Holy name giving divine presence no doubt.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Person To Whom We Owe Everything

[Lord Krishna]“Indeed, You alone know Yourself by Your own potencies, O origin of all, Lord of all beings, God of gods, O Supreme Person, Lord of the universe!” (Arjuna, Bhagavad-gita, 10.15)

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svayam evātmanātmānaṁ
vettha tvaṁ puruṣottama
bhūta-bhāvana bhūteśa
deva-deva jagat-pate

  • Who is God?
  • Does He exist?
  • Is He not a creation of the less intelligent who constantly look for meaning to life?
  • Can a person study science and still believe in God?
  • Is there a way to define Him without touching on spiritual traditions?
  • Is there a way to know Him without fearing Him?

In the Shrimad Bhagavatam it is said that as many waves as there are in the ocean, that is how many incarnations of the Supreme Lord appear on earth. As each incarnation represents God, there are many ways to know Him.

avatārā hy asaṅkhyeyā
hareḥ sattva-nidher dvijāḥ
yathāvidāsinaḥ kulyāḥ
sarasaḥ syuḥ sahasraśaḥ

“O brahmanas, the incarnations of the Lord are innumerable, like rivulets flowing from inexhaustible sources of water.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 1.3.26)

[Krishna's incarnations]The incarnations arrive and do amazing things. Sometimes they lift the entire earth. Sometimes they lift up a mighty mountain to use as an umbrella. Sometimes they get others to help them build a bridge made of floating stones. Sometimes they deliver the most confidential knowledge to a worthy recipient. The activities of the innumerable expansions of the Supreme Lord continue to expand His glories, and thus simultaneously give more points of reference for understanding Him.

Without even touching on the incarnations we can understand the Supreme Lord. Think of all that we have. We have sunlight, wind, earth, fire and food. We have water and shelter. We have parents and grandparents. Some of us have siblings and cousins. Some of us have advanced degrees, and many of us have jobs.

Everything that we have is attributed to God. This seems rather obvious, and not very significant. I have money, but so do other people. I have a spouse, but so many others have the same. Why should any attention be given to God, then? Shouldn’t He be acknowledged for something meaningful and rare?

In fact, none of these things would exist without His sanction. He is the original giver. Science studies only the laws of nature that already exist. The study of the properties of the earth and outer space touch on things which were already created. There is no evidence pointing to chemicals randomly colliding and creating all of these properties, since nothing like that happens now. A sun cannot be created in a laboratory. Neither can a mound of earth that contains all the seeds necessary for vegetation.

If we are living right now, we have something to be thankful for. Everything else can be bad. We can be in terrible distress. We can be suffering from disease, either mental or physical. We can be longing for the association of a loved one who has since passed on. Nevertheless, there is the continued existence, which is made possible by the Supreme Controller.

ahaṁ sarvasya prabhavo
mattaḥ sarvaṁ pravartate
iti matvā bhajante māṁ
budhā bhāva-samanvitāḥ

“I am the source of all spiritual and material worlds. Everything emanates from Me. The wise who know this perfectly engage in My devotional service and worship Me with all their hearts.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 10.8)

[Lord Krishna]We know that so many people don’t acknowledge God in this way. They take His creation and everything in it for granted. They exploit the laws of nature for their own sense gratification. When they get in trouble, they curse at God; but otherwise they don’t think of Him. What use does thanking Him serve, then?

To know the Supreme is to know the self. There is an inherent relationship between the two, since both are of the same defining quality. Spirit is everlasting, immutable, undying and primeval. It can never be slain. When someone dies, it is simply the place-shifting of the soul. The spiritual spark animating the previously living body has moved elsewhere. The body remains, but it is dull and lifeless without the soul.

God is the Supreme Soul, the storehouse of the spiritual energy. The individuals souls are like sparks coming from Him. To know the Supreme Soul is to know the individual soul as well. Knowing the individual soul means knowing your true identity. When you know who you really are, you are better equipped for the difficult journey through life.

That journey is difficult because it must end in death. There will come a time where everything is left behind. The soul moves on, and so the wise person understands that their identity as spirit means that there is a lasting relationship that can be formed. That bond is with the Supreme Soul. The link can be created with knowledge, so understanding that God is the person to whom we owe everything is a great first step.

[praying]A simple way to repay what we owe is to acknowledge on a regular basis. This acknowledgement can be done through a simple prayer or thank you. It can be done blissfully through addressing God in names that really speak to His kind nature. These names are conveniently found in the maha-mantra: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. The fortunate soul who chants these names automatically pays respect to the origin of everything, whose mercy can bring relief from the suffering of the material existence.

In Closing:

Incarnations many of them so,

But other ways for God to know.


Everything in this world came,

From Him having Krishna the name.


Acknowledge for intelligence to rise,

Way to eternal relationship the prize.


Say thank you or His names with affection,

Get relief from misery and attain life’s perfection.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Saving From Crimes

[Krishna's lotus feet]“If one wishes to benefit his fellow brother, he must awaken his dormant Krishna consciousness. The Krishna conscious position is that of pratibuddha, which means "pure consciousness.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 3.27.25 Purport)

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“No good deed goes unpunished.” This phrase is usually viewed in a humorous light. The father of a large family decides to take everyone on a short vacation to a place he considers worth seeing. He pays for an expensive hotel room and arranges for excursions to tourist attractions. At the end the family complains about how cheap he is. They chastise him for dragging them out of their homes to a place they didn’t even want to visit.

This is a small deed that seems good, but what about some of the more common acts of kindness? Can those ever go wrong? Can it be a bad thing to feed someone who is hungry? What about healing someone who is sick? Does that ever cross into the territory of adharma?

Dharma is the Sanskrit word for religion. It doesn’t mean religion exactly, since dharma has nothing to do with faith. Sort of like how gravity is not something dependent on believers, dharma is the scientific position of something. It is the defining characteristic. The definition for dharma extends into religiosity and duty since these two things help to maintain the essential characteristic in the individual, who is a spirit soul.

[charity]One aspect to duty is charity. In the Bhagavad-gita we get the concept of three kinds of charity. Gifts in goodness go to the proper recipient, at the proper time, and without any expectation of return. Charity in passion is done with a motive. Think of it like remembering the money you gave to someone when they were in trouble. Charity in ignorance goes to the inappropriate recipient, at the inappropriate time.

adeśa-kāle yad dānam
apātrebhyaś ca dīyate
asat-kṛtam avajñātaṁ
tat tāmasam udāhṛtam

“And charity performed at an improper place and time and given to unworthy persons without respect and with contempt is charity in the mode of ignorance.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 17.22)

If someone comes up to you and asks for food, should you give it to them? What if you feed them and then they go on to commit a crime? What if a beggar on the street asks you for money, which they intend to use to buy a gun to carry out a mass murder? These are examples of charity in ignorance, which proves that good deeds sometimes aren’t very good at all.

The demigods can run into trouble in this area. Though their gifts technically aren’t charity, the exchanges are similar since they involve a benefactor and a beneficiary. The demigods are in assigned posts, which stipulate that they must grant their worshipers whatever material rewards they ask for. The famous villain Ravana asked for so many boons, as did Hiranyakashipu. Both of these characters used their gifts procured from the demigods to harm the innocent people of the world.

[Lord Shiva with Vrikasura]There is the example of Vrikasura. This demon worshiped Lord Shiva since he heard that Mahadeva is the easiest to please. Vrikasura asked for the boon to be able to kill someone simply by touching their head. After seeing his great austerity, Lord Shiva became pleased and granted this wish. Vrikasura then proceeded to chase after Mahadeva, in the hopes of touching his head and taking away his wife Parvati. Lord Vishnu finally intervened and saved the day.

His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada says that the best way to help our fellow man is to give them Krishna consciousness. Obviously there is some self-interest served here, as Shrila Prabhupada is an eternal servant at the feet of Shri Shri Radha and Krishna, the original female and male aspects of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He’s getting what he wants by having others take up the same kind of devotion.

At the same time, there is something unique about this kind of charity. It never comes back to bite you. By definition it cannot go to waste; it cannot do harm. Bhakti-yoga saves someone from a life of crime. There is the Rakshasa on the lowest level of the criminal ladder, and above them is the asura, who only exploits the material nature for his own sense gratification. The Rakshasa openly violates the standards of decency, while the asura merely denies the existence of God while giving a show of being law-abiding.

Bhakti-yoga is pure goodness. Practiced properly and to maturation, it gives the divine vision. The yogi in bhakti sees the Supreme Lord within all creatures. They empathize with every living entity, knowing how difficult the struggle through a material existence is. They have no desire to take anyone’s property since they know that everything originally belongs to God. They don’t hate, since they lack material desires. Hate can only arise from envy and frustrated desires, but in bhakti the only anxiety is how to better serve the Supreme Lord Krishna.

[Radha and Krishna]Giving bhakti-yoga is quite safe and it brings benefits that spread throughout the society. The sound of the holy names is the potent elixir for the troubled mind. Having these holy names enter the ear from a devoted soul is the greatest benediction, one that is above the three kinds of charity. The holy names are pure goodness, through and through: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

In Closing:

Charity to help seems right,

But sometimes to come back and bite.


Like when money to one giving,

So that for a crime committing.


Even with demigods the same,

Like Vrikasura who to Shiva came.


But bhakti-yoga never to burn,

Gives to soul for what they yearn.

Monday, April 20, 2015

The Only Anxiety Worth Having

[Shrimati Radharani]“It is also recommended that the devotee should be muni, or thoughtful; he should always think of Krishna and how to render better service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. That should be his only anxiety.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 3.27.8 Purport)

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“How do I better serve my parents? They have done so much for me. Sure, there were times growing up when I hated them. In retrospect, I think that’s good. You’re not doing your job as a parent if your kids don’t hate you on occasion. I was too spoiled, in fact. They could have been tougher on me. My happiness in adult life is due to them, and now I don’t know how to pay them back. What can I do for them?”

“How do I better serve my company? We’re in this thing together. It’s tough economic times right now. I’ve long ago shed the flawed notion that the bosses have all of this money that they’re not giving us. I see the profit margins. I see the monthly income. They have so many new regulations with which to deal. How do I improve my performance so that we’ll be more successful as a company? This is a good job, one that I’d like to keep going forward.”

“How do I better serve my nation? When someone says they hate their country, they’re essentially saying they hate their neighbors. That’s not a wise thing to say, considering that we don’t know all of our neighbors. They are human beings just like me, struggling with this world. Shri Krishna says in the Bhagavad-gita that all living entities are struggling living in this material nature of His.”

apareyam itas tv anyāṁ
prakṛtiṁ viddhi me parām
jīva-bhūtāṁ mahā-bāho
yayedaṁ dhāryate jagat

“Besides this inferior nature, O mighty-armed Arjuna, there is a superior energy of Mine, which are all living entities who are struggling with material nature and are sustaining the universe.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.5)

“How do I better serve my friends? They are there for me. I’ve known them for so long. I will do anything for them in fact. I see some people lose touch with their friends after getting married. I’ve vowed to not let that happen to me. But I’m not sure what I can do for them. They don’t need money. I can spend time with them, but does that really make them happy?”

[televsion news panel]A muni is someone who is thoughtful. In the Vedic tradition it is said that one is not a muni unless and until he disagrees with another muni. We see this play out on television programs that feature a panel of experts. The people giving their opinions don’t all agree. If they did, there would be no reason to have them on the show. You only stand out if you say something that someone else hasn’t said already.

When entering the realm of bhakti-yoga, the muni’s thoughtfulness turns towards service to the Supreme. The fear for the person who doesn’t know so much about bhakti-yoga is that this thoughtfulness automatically leads to neglect.

How will the parents be served if the only thought is on making the Supreme Lord happy? How will the nation be made strong if it is forgotten in favor of God? How will diseases be cured? How will the family be maintained?

The thoughtful devotee knows that there is struggle throughout in a material existence. Like traversing a road that has thorns from side to side and end to end, in a life devoid of the spiritual consciousness there is only misery. Despite the best attempts to serve others, there is the painful end known as death. For every living entity that death has already taken place; it simply has yet to manifest. Not to worry, as time will make sure it arrives.

If death is guaranteed, what is the best use of the living experience? The Supreme Lord is the root cause of everything. Service to Him is likened to watering the roots of a tree. The leaves and the branches automatically get fed. The same doesn’t work in the reverse. Feeding a single leaf will not take care of the rest of the tree.

[roots of a tree]The muni in bhakti-yoga has the anxiety of wondering how to better serve. If they are chanting the holy names at present, they wonder how they can find room to chant more. If they are serving fellow devotees by supporting their efforts, they wonder how they can better assist. If they think of God’s all-attractive form right now, they wonder how they can keep that attention going forward.

Maturity in the devotional consciousness repays the good protection offered by the parents. The nation too shares in the credit due the servant of the Supreme Lord. The friends learn the true meaning of a well-wisher by seeing someone who can teach the mission in life. The place of business gets a benefit as well, as it plays some role in the further advancement of the devoted soul.

[Prabhupada thinking of Radha and Krishna]This anxiety for the devotee-muni serves as a catalyst for more service, which only continues to help others. A world full of thoughtful servants of the Supreme Lord turns the miserable material existence into a pleasurable one. The onslaught of time no longer brings the fear of loss, as in any situation the attention to devotion will continue: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

In Closing:

Parents done so much for me,

How happy faces on them to see?


Of my friends and nation also thinking,

Not wishing for into despair sinking.


When muni following bhakti’s route,

Satisfies all, like of tree watering the root.


Anxiety for Krishna instead make,

And every opportunity for service take.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Talking About Quoting Authority

[Krishna speaking to Arjuna]“Seeing things through the authorized books or authorized teachers is the correct way to see. So, although Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead and can see all that is past, present and future, to teach the people in general He used to always refer to the scriptures.” (The Nectar of Devotion, Ch 20)

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Friend-One: I’ve noticed something about lectures and discourses on bhakti-yoga.

Friend-Two: Did you? This means you’ve been paying attention.

F1: Hey, I’m not like those guys in the back of the room sleeping.

F2: They are funny. A few times I have heard people snoring.

F1: I’m a little envious, I must say. They probably have no trouble sleeping on an airplane. I can’t do that.

F2: So what did you notice?

F1: There’s a whole lot of quoting going on. Interspersed in the discourse are references to scripture. The speaker also tells stories of past acharyas.

F2: Yeah, that only makes sense. That is the whole point to accepting a spiritual master.

F1: To have an authority source from whom to cite evidence?

F2: That’s part of it, but the more important thing is that we can’t understand God on our own. No amount of mental speculation will do the trick. We can watch every movie ever made, read every book ever published, and try to process all the information we take in. Still, we won’t come close to understanding the origin of everything, the supreme person, the one entity who is without a beginning and who is forever flawless.

F1: That is something unique about bhakti-yoga, for sure. I rarely hear the words “I think” or “I suppose.” The attitude is assertive, and there seems to be an explanation for everything.

F2: Right. The words “I think” imply that you either have no authority or that you’re not convinced of what you’ve heard.

[Shrila Prabhupada]F1: Here is a question for you, then. There’s so many authorities cited. Parashara Muni, Vyasadeva, Rupa Gosvami, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada - they are all great. But what if someone listening decides they don’t want to accept these authority figures? Doesn’t that undercut everything?

F2: If by “everything” you mean that person’s potential for understanding the Supreme Absolute Truth, then you’re correct.

F1: The whole point to writing books and having discourses is to teach, though. You’re trying to help others understand. By constantly citing authority figures that no one’s ever heard of, aren’t you running the risk of alienating people? Doesn’t that make you vulnerable in a debate?

F2: For starters, there’s always authority cited. Go to any college commencement ceremony and you’ll hear lots of quotes in the speeches. Scientists use past authorities as the basis for their research. Even the skeptic, who completely rejects all authority, is trying to establish themselves as an authority figure. They want others to accept their judgment of skepticism.

F1: That’s true.

F2: So if you’ve got authority figures either way, how do you reconcile?

F1: Why are you asking me? I don’t know. I guess you try to look at the authority figures themselves.

F2: What do you look for?

F1: I don’t know.  I guess you assess their qualities, their character.

F2: Exactly. So taking in the history of Vedic culture we get authority figures that stand highest in stature. In an objective analysis there is no denying this.

F1: Based on the quality of the people?

[Shri Hanuman]F2: Yeah. Can you find any flaw in Shri Hanuman? Is he selfish? Is he cowardly? Does he turn his back on his friends?

F1: No. Hanuman is wonderful. You’d be hard pressed to find anyone in history with his qualifications.

F2: And he says that Rama is God. Though in ignorance so many worship Hanuman as the supreme authority, Hanuman says that Rama, who is an incarnation of Vishnu, is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. That is enough of an authority right there.

F1: Okay, but what if someone says that Hanuman is a mythical character, that a monkey can’t really do all those things?

F2: You don’t have to go that far back in history. Take any saint of the Vaishnava tradition. They don’t eat meat. They don’t gamble. They also don’t take intoxicants or engage in illicit sex. From these basic principles alone they rise above the rest. Then they have all the good qualities of the brahmana as well. They are clean, truthful, and pure.

F1: So your basic point is that these authority figures are great people and that taking their word is enough to meet the objective in life?

F2: It is the proper etiquette to cite authority. Shri Krishna is the number one person, the original form of the Supreme Lord. Even He cites authority when delivering the famous Bhagavad-gita to Arjuna. He references Vedanta and also past sages. Arjuna does that too when praising Krishna.

F1: So the book that is quoted the most itself quotes others. That is pretty interesting.

[Bhagavad-gita As It Is]F2: The point is you’re going to accept an authority either way. Why not make it Krishna? Why not listen to what Shrila Prabhupada has to say? Why not at least give it a try and see what happens?

F1: Yeah. Their recommendation of chanting the holy names immediately pays dividends: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

In Closing:

Instead of speculations of mind floating,

Acharyas of past authorities quoting.


From Shri Krishna this behavior came,

In Bhagavad-gita following the same.


Even when encountering skeptic’s face,

Claiming authority, present in any case.


The qualities of the person just see,

Better than Hanuman can there be?