Saturday, May 2, 2015

Known For Following Principles

[Krishna's lotus feet]“By following the regulative principles of human life, one gradually raises himself to the platform of spiritual realization. If one is so fortunate, by such practice, to rise to the platform of Krishna consciousness, then success is guaranteed for him.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 16.22 Purport)

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What distinguishes the human being from other species? The ant lives in an amazing shape. The human being could never think of moving around, eating, or even surviving in such a small form. The bird flies through the air, which the human being can’t do without spending a lot of money and relying on aerospace engineering. The cheetah is fast and the horse can act like an automobile. By studying the behavior of notable men and women, we can see a pattern that makes the human being unique.

[doctor]“You know, their son is a doctor now. They’re a pediatrician, as they enjoy being with children. They’re making a difference in society. I don’t think I have what it takes to become a doctor. Do you know what they had to go through? They spent so many years in school. They sacrificed friendships, romantic relationships and overall fun. Then they worked so many hours each day in order to get training. Doctors are special people indeed.”

“Did you see how much weight that person lost? It’s amazing. I can barely recognize them. They completely changed things up. They gave up fried foods. No more sweets for them. They switched to a whole grain diet, with lots of fruits and vegetables. They don’t eat after 6 pm now. Can you believe that? I would go crazy. They have so much discipline.”

“She is such a great mother. She always has her children’s interests first. I’ve never seen her buy something for herself. She never complains, either. Her husband works long hours and is often on the road due to his job. She is all by herself. To me, she is the mother of the year, every year. She is the greatest symbol of sacrifice.”

In these instances the people being praised are not known for laziness. They are not known for eating a lot, sleeping a lot, or enjoying so much with members of the opposite sex. They are all following principles to some degree, and that is the key to their success.

This ability to follow principles is unique to the human being. The animals can’t make these decisions. They don’t have the intelligence to accept instruction and then act off of it. His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada says that there are regulative principles in human life and that following them brings the individual to the platform of spiritual realization.

A realization is nothing more than a way of seeing. If I realize that my parents were children at a previous time, I’m seeing beyond the present. I’m able to see something that is not manifest right now; hence the realization. The preliminary spiritual realization is understanding that all living things are equal constitutionally. The ant, the cat, the dog, the elephant, the man, the women, the child, the president, the peasant, the ambassador, the butcher, the baker, etc. are all spirit soul at the core. Through realization one can see this.

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)

[Humble sage seeing with an equal vision]What are the regulative principles of human life? This is where religion comes into play. Not everything is revealed in every book. Some religious texts are like pocket dictionaries, while others are more comprehensive and thorough. Despite the variety in languages and books, there is actually only one religion - love of God.

Some texts recommend sacrificing animals for eating. There is also some education given as far as getting food to eat. The human being doesn’t need religious texts to figure these things out. They can kill animals without anyone’s help. They can learn to grow food by following what other people are already doing. This means that the mentions in religious texts are for the purpose of regulation. Through regulation of the senses - limiting eating, sleeping, mating and defending - one has a better chance of coming to the spiritual realization.

The aim of regulation is seeing the expansion of God residing within every heart. The full realization is knowing that God is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, separate from everyone else but equal to them in spiritual quality. He is the great spirit, while we are fragments of the great spirit. The most elevated person in this world is known for following the principles of human life that have led them to the realization of God the person. They can teach us which principles to follow and how, as the circumstances in society are known to change. Time and space are factors in following any kind of system meant to maintain, so the wise person adjusts to these changing factors and helps society accordingly.

[Lord Krishna]In today’s hectic time, the most important regulation is to approach the Supreme Lord right at the outset, through the medium of His name: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. The wise human being can make this decision, a calculation leading to the greatest happiness.

In Closing:

To notable people getting praise,

On regulation hinged are their ways.


Only the human being can try,

Since on intelligence can rely.


Regulation for realization bringing,

Of God, whose glories the Vedas singing.


Otherwise religion having purpose none,

Since sense pleasure by any to be done.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Narasimha Chaturdashi 2015

[Narasimhadeva]“Lord Narasimhadeva is here, and He is also there on the opposite side. Wherever I go, there I see Lord Narasimhadeva. He is outside and within My heart. Therefore I take shelter of Lord Narasimhadeva, the original Supreme Personality of Godhead.” (Narasimha Purana)

ito nṛsiṁhaḥ parato nṛsiṁho
yato yato yāmi tato nṛsiṁhaḥ
bahir nṛsiṁho hṛdaye nṛsiṁho
nṛsiṁham ādiṁ śaraṇaṁ prapadye

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Is God everywhere? Can He be seen with the naked eye? Isn’t the idea of a single person directing the millions of results to actions a fairy tale? Isn’t it more of a hope, a concept to help alleviate the pain of loss, the sting of the knowledge of guaranteed death? A young child a long time ago saw the Supreme everywhere. He was not embarrassed by this vision. He was confident in himself, to the point of disobeying the orders of people much more powerful than him. The occasion of Narasimha Chaturdashi celebrates one special incident that proved that the boy was right all along, that his faith in the existence and mercy of the Supreme was not in vain.

Young children are known to make up things. They develop the imaginary friend. Since the children are dependents, they don’t have full freedom. They can’t get in the car and drive to a restaurant of their choosing for dinner. They can’t decide to stay awake all night or sleep longer in the morning to miss school. They must do as the elders say, so in frustration it is understandable if they should create someone in their imagination. This “friend” listens to what they say. The friend doesn’t judge.

[Krishna liberating Nalakuvara and Manigriva]For young children there is also so much of life left to experience. Therefore it is understandable if they mistakenly see things that are not there. In Vrindavana a long time ago, children saw something amazing with their own eyes. They saw the son of mother Yashoda drag a mortar through two trees. The boy was tied to that mortar as punishment. When the mortar went in between, the trees fell down. Yet that wasn’t the end to the amazing sight. After falling down, from the trees emerged two heavenly beings.

“While the elderly cowherd men were thus contemplating, the small children who were playing there informed the men that the trees fell due to Krishna's pulling the wooden mortar with the ropes to which He was bound.” (Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 1, Ch 11)

Some of the elders did not believe the children when they heard the story. They attributed it to the wild imaginations of youth. What those children saw did actually happen, as that child tied to the mortar was Shri Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Thousands of years prior to that incident, another boy saw something amazing relating to the same Krishna. Named Prahlada, this child saw the divine influence everywhere.

This vision is difficult to acquire for even the seasoned adult. From the time of birth, the flawed identification with the body begins. The individual thinks that their body identifies them, though they had no say in acquiring that body. They have no idea for how long it will last and what will happen to them later on. Among other things, this flawed identification leads to the duality of friendship and hatred. One person is considered a friend while another is an enemy, but in fact both are struggling through the same material existence.

yat tatra guruṇā proktaṁ
śuśruve ’nupapāṭha ca
na sādhu manasā mene

“Prahlada certainly heard and recited the topics of politics and economics taught by the teachers, but he understood that political philosophy involves considering someone a friend and someone else an enemy, and thus he did not like it.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 7.5.3)

[Prahlada Maharaja]Prahlada saw the divine influence in every single person. He saw past the body, which is a product of the illusory energy known as maya. He considered everyone to be equal at the spiritual level. Yet this highly advanced vision, which is validated by the scriptural information of the Vedas, was not appreciated at all. Prahlada’s father wanted the boy to see duality. He wanted Prahlada to consider anyone against the royal crown to be an enemy. Any person attempting to acquire power was a threat and Prahlada had to learn how to deal with them.

Very soon the father Hiranyakashipu viewed Prahlada as the greatest threat. What was the boy’s strength? What was the sign of his advancement? It was the vision of the Divine. Prahlada was very liberal in this regard. He tried to get his friends in school to look upon the world the same way. He tried to get his belligerent father to understand the same. Yet the father could not tolerate this, for to him God was the original enemy. And now that enemy had taken over the mind of his son.

Prahlada’s vision was not an imagination; it was true. Hiranyakashipu thought Prahlada was foolish to think that God was everywhere. So he challenged his son to show him that God was in a pillar standing next to them. Unfortunately for Hiranyakashipu, Prahlada was not wrong. From the pillar emerged a ferocious being, a half-man/half-lion. It was Krishna Himself. The same Supersoul that is the life of everything living, the ability in man and the sustainer of the universe arrived at the scene to bear witness to Prahlada’s greatness.

[Narasimhadeva]Narasimha Chaturdashi is the anniversary of that famous appearance. Known in that form as Narasimhadeva, the Supreme Lord Krishna made quick work of the demoniac king Hiranyakashipu. The father did not want Prahlada to be right. The boy’s staunch devotion to God could not be tolerated. Therefore Hiranyakashipu tried in so many ways to kill Prahlada, but it was not meant to be. God is indeed everywhere, and armed with the knowledge of the science of self-realization anyone can see this. Even a seemingly helpless child can have this vision, one that is protected by the Supreme Lord Himself.

In Closing:

Of parents love a beneficiary,

Helpless, to make friend imaginary.


Since full experience not yet,

In life mistaken visions to get.


But with Prahlada not the case,

The Divine vision from him none could erase.


Belligerent father despite how hard he tried,

Killed by God, on Krishna the boy relied.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Talking About Demons

[Rama fighting Ravana]“Human life is distinguished from animal life due to its heavy responsibilities. Those who are cognizant of these responsibilities and who work in that spirit are called suras (godly persons), and those who are neglectful of these responsibilities or who have no information of them are called asuras (demons). Throughout the universe there are only these two types of human being.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shri Ishopanishad, 3 Purport)

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Friend-One: How would you describe Ravana, the famous villain of the Ramayana?

Friend-Two: He is a ruthless person who thinks only of satisfying his senses. Lust tells him where to go instead of the other way around.

F1: Right, but what kind of species?

F2: The Sanskrit word is Rakshasa. They are human-like. They don’t look all that different from normal people. The notable distinction is that they like to eat human flesh. You can say “cannibal,” but that doesn’t tell the whole story. They are cannibals by choice, and that choice is made under the spell of the mode of darkness, i.e. complete ignorance.

F1: I’m trying my best to get you to say one word and you’re not complying. Isn’t Ravana commonly described as a demon?

F2: Yes, of course. The same goes for Hiranyakashipu, though technically he’s a Daitya instead of a Rakshasa.

F1: And Ravana’s associates are demons too, like Maricha, Khara, Dushana and Indrajit.

[Ravana]F2: Yes, that is obvious. They are bad folks. Why are you asking?

F1: Just indulge me for a little bit. And according to the acharyas of the Vedic tradition, the Ramayana describes real events. Though they seem unbelievable to us, the events actually unfolded in real life.

F2: Yeah, there’s no metaphor or personification going on. You have that in some places in Vedic literature, but there’s never an attempt to deceive. Moreover, the events of the Ramayana are described in many places, by many people. So it would have to be a great conspiracy in order for everyone to be making the same stuff up.

F1: Alright, so here’s my real question. By using terms like “gods” and “demons,” isn’t that making Vedic literature a tough sell for the common man, who will immediately equate these terms with mythology?

F2: Yes, even people who inherit the culture from their parents fall victim to this mindset.

F1: I mean I can’t tell you how many times I hear people saying that you need to look at the symbolism of all this stuff. I’ve even read people saying that the sages of ancient times couldn’t reveal the truths of spiritual life openly. So they instead decided to present it through story.

[Valmiki writing]F2: That’s ridiculous from the mere fact that a brahmana, one of the priestly order, is by nature honest. They don’t lie. There is some validity to the idea of symbolism, as the Supreme Lord descends to this earth to teach many valuable lessons that are otherwise difficult to understand. So the factual events are automatically symbolic at the same time.

F1: As soon as someone hears “demons” they’re going to think we’re talking about a fantasy role playing game, Harry Potter, a comic book or something of the like.

F2: Yeah. Listen, that is simply the shortcoming in translating these works into a different language. You pick the best word you can. Fortunately, we still have the original Sanskrit to consult. Do you know the Sanskrit word for “demon”?

F1: Is it “rakshasa”?

F2: Well, it can be, but “rakshasa” is more of a subtype. The word is “asura.” If you know a little bit of Sanskrit, you immediately recognize that this word is a negation of another word.

F1: That’s because of the “a” prefix, right?

F2: Yeah. The base word is “sura.” So sura is a god and asura is a demon. This is the conventional translation into English. This is what the translators have settled on, but obviously there is something lost in translation.

F1: So a sura is not really a god?

F2: It’s someone who is godly. We think of a god as someone who has special powers and lives in the heavenly region. Those conditions can certainly exist in a sura, but they don’t have to. The defining characteristic is allegiance with the Supreme God. In the Vedic tradition the Supreme is known through names like Vishnu, Krishna, Rama and others which address His personal nature.

F1: Would it be safe to say, then, that a sura is basically a “good guy”?

F2: Right. If you’re doing the good and evil comparison, the sura is good and the asura is bad. I find it very interesting that “asura” translates to demon. That tells a lot. Someone who is against God is a bad guy, plain and simple. They don’t have to have ten heads, the ability to change shapes at will, or fire coming out of their mouths. They can be an ordinary looking person, but since they are against god, they are an asura.

F1: I see. Why am I thinking of two sisters here, Diti and Aditi? Don’t they have significance to this discussion?

[Prahlada]F2: Diti is the mother of the asuras and Aditi the suras. The direct descendants from Diti thus were known as Daityas. This references the specific races, suras and asuras, but the qualities can be found in anyone. For instance, Prahlada was born in a Daitya family but had the qualities of a sura.

F1: This is interesting stuff.

F2: You should also know that the amazing abilities often exhibited by the asuras is no accident. Being truly godless actually means something. We’re not talking about someone who just hasn’t made up their mind yet. We’re talking about those who are openly against any idea of a supreme controller. Their next move is to work themselves up to that post, to become the most feared in the world. Everyone has free will to some degree, so the asuras are able to amass power.

F1: Right, because they desire it. Sort of like the guy who bulks up by going to the gym and eating a lot of protein.

F2: And so the asura becomes what we know as the trademark demon because of how they use those powers. They oppress the innocent. They steal. They kill innocent life. These things are not unbelievable. Though we don’t see people with ten heads and an ability to change shapes today, there are still plenty of Ravanas around. “Demon” is probably not the best word to use for asura. “Bad guy” would be better.

F1: And there are certainly plenty of “bad guys” in this world.

[Lord Rama]F2: The suras serve the ultimate good guy, the Supreme Lord. When asked, He comes to their side for protection. All souls are His children, so by default He is neutral. Especially when it comes to material advancement, He does not pick favorites. For service to Him and finding happiness that transcends birth and death, He breaks from His neutrality and takes on the role of friend [Bhagavad-gita, 9.29].

In Closing:

Translators a word to choose,

For asura demon is used.


Not giving meaning complete,

Asura with bad qualities replete.


At core God going against,

Towards sinful path bent.


Found today, needing not ten heads,

Suras everywhere too, serving God instead.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Talking About God Seeing You As An Equal

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

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

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Friend-One: One of the nice verses from the Bhagavad-gita is the one that says that the wise person sees the elephant, the cow, the dog and the dog-eater as being the same.

Friend-Two: Don’t forget the learned and gentle brahmana. The verse goes from high to low. The brahmana sees Brahman, the spiritual identity of all living things. The dog-eater is so low that they’ll eat an animal that the civilized society would never dream of touching.

F1: And yet the humble soul, by virtue of true knowledge, sees them both as equal.

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)

F2: It’s a spiritual vision. It’s fully inclusive. So many movements today are trying to eliminate inequality in just one area. Men against women.

F1: Black against white, Christian against Jew - and the list goes on. That’s why I like this verse so much. Everyone should learn it, no matter their religious persuasion or their level of interest in spiritual life.

[tiger]F2: I certainly agree with you. It should be noted, however, that the treatment isn’t necessarily equal. You’re not going to go up to a tiger and pet it. That would be silly. The idea is that you know the tiger is a soul at the core and that it is going through the cycle of spiritual evolution. It still has its behaviors to which human beings should remain alert.

F1: Yeah, that’s important to mention. Here’s a seemingly obvious question. If the humble sage sees everyone like this, God would as well, no?

F2: Of course.

F1: I mean He would have to see even better. He knows past, present and future. He knows where that tiger was in the previous life. He knows what it will be going forward. So He has even more reason to apply the equal vision.

F2: I think I can guess your next question. If God knows all of this, how can He allow suffering?

F1: That wouldn’t be my question, but I could see people raising objections. For instance, if He knows that monkeys are souls at the core, why does He allow them to act like monkeys? I know that when He comes to earth He gives them special treatment. As Shri Rama, He befriended monkeys in Kishkindha.

[Rama with the Vanaras]F2: Yeah. He treated them like equals. Though they were uncivilized and roaming from tree branch to tree branch, Rama did not mind. Rama stayed under the trees, and so there was an immediate violation of etiquette. Rama did not care; He saw only the love they had for Him.

F1: Okay, so this is a more interesting topic for me. He treated the Vanaras, who were monkey-like, on an equal level. The idea is that God can become your friend, no matter which species you live in, right?

F2: Yes. Class, caste, gender, nationality, species and the like don’t matter to Him. He is the supreme father to everyone.

F1: Here is a potential issue to address. Rama is all-knowing. He is the Supreme Lord appearing in a personal form on earth, taking the guise of a warrior prince. He is antaryami, which means that He witnesses everything going on. Doesn’t it say in the Ramayana that the Vanaras were actually demigods who descended to help Rama?

F2: Yes. Whenever the Supreme Lord appears, He brings His close associates with Him. It’s like a travelling theater troupe. There is a large cast of characters, and they fulfill their roles very well.

F1: That’s exactly what I wanted to hear. So I could see someone objecting to giving equal treatment to others on this basis. They’ll say that Rama made friends with the monkeys only because He knew they were demigods. He gave special mercy to the boatman named Kevata only because He knew the real situation.

[Rama with the boatman]F2: The basis of this objection is that ordinary monkeys are not special and neither are people from lower castes? Tribal people have no good qualities, so why should we give them respect?

F1: Yeah, that’s pretty much it. The Vanaras were not ordinary. The people living in the forests that loved Rama were also unique. You won’t find people like that today. Therefore we shouldn’t automatically give people the benefit of the doubt. Class distinctions are necessary because the people in the lower groups are making their way through the chain of evolution. If they play their cards right, in the next life they will be in a higher group.

F2: The higher subsequent birth may be true. There is no denying that. You will find bad apples amongst all groups of people. We’re not saying that every monkey has the qualities of Hanuman. Every boatman is not like Kevata and every vulture is not like Jatayu. That’s not what we’re saying. You’re missing a key element here.

F1: What is that?

F2: We are not antaryami.

F1: What do you mean?

F2: We don’t know who is divine and who isn’t. We don’t know who has descended to earth in what species. That person who is from a meat-eating background but is now chanting the holy names - they might be an eternally liberated soul. That cow we see grazing on the pasture, it might have descended from the heavenly region.

F1: I see. Rama knows these things, but we don’t. He sees the devotion inside of people, whereas we can’t necessarily. We make mistakes.

[Rama with Hanuman]F2: We have imperfect senses. We are easily illusioned and we have a tendency to cheat. That’s why the instruction of the Bhagavad-gita is given to us. We’re supposed to learn that everyone is a spirit soul with the potential to love God in the same way that His closest associates do. Species, gender and class are not immediate disqualifications. And neither do they automatically bring entry into the eternal engagement that is devotional service. Only desire can bring that, and that desire can be found in any person.

In Closing:

Rama as antaryami to see,

Knows how monkey divine can be.


This vision we certainly lack,

Since by illusion under attack.


Looking with an intelligent eye,

Benefit of the doubt to apply.


Variety and species so many,

Devotion possible in them any.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Digging To Something Better

[Radha and Krishna]“In the desert there is no water, but the mirage suggests that there is such a thing as water. In the material world there is no water, there is no happiness, but the real water of actual happiness is there in the spiritual world.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, Introduction)

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Ultimately, bhakti-yoga is about finding happiness. Though it is equated with faith or religion by those who don’t know the scientific background to it, it has nothing to do with fear or escaping unpleasant conditions. Bhakti deals with love and the yoga aspect addresses the spirit soul, which identifies each one of us. As all are looking for happiness in some form or another, bhakti-yoga becomes an easy choice, one that delivers on the promise.

Advertising gives a good insight into the pulse of society. The different kinds of programming on television each have their specific kinds of advertisers. For instance, if watching sports, you’re likely to see car commercials. This latest car is driving through winding roads along a hillside. It boasts of many new features. The idea is that you, the viewer, will be happy only if you purchase this new car. Get rid of the stale and outdated model you’re currently driving. Upgrade and be happy.

[driving through hills]Another commercial is for beer. Hang out with your friends and drink the best tasting adult beverage with them. You don’t want to be alone, do you? You don’t want to be a boring stiff. You want some adventure in your life and you want your friends to think that you’re a hip dude, someone with the times. So drink this beer and you won’t have any problems.

Turn on the television on a weekend morning and you’ll run into the infomercial. These are extended advertising segments, filling up timeslots that are normally reserved for programming like news, sports, cartoons, music and the like. What are these infomercials selling? Most commonly the product relates to weight loss. Purchase this new supplement and you’ll lose weight fast. Buy this exercise machine and in very little time you’ll look great. You’ll shed that holiday weight that you’ve been meaning to address. Your pants will fit again and people will marvel at how good you look.

Of course these advertisements continue to air only because of patronage. People keep buying these things. The advertisers are not dumb; they go to where the money is. All of this means that people are willing to try different things to become happy. Children will play video games for hours on end. Stressed adult workers will go to exotic destinations for vacation. People will read books about how to improve their lives.

Observing from a distance, the person practicing bhakti-yoga makes the following plea:

[Lord Krishna]“You’re searching for happiness. That can’t be denied. You’re trying so many different things. Why not give bhakti-yoga a chance? The process and the result are quite straightforward. Surrender to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Shri Krishna, and be given full protection. Not that you’ll never die. Not that you’ll never grow old. Those are bound to happen through nature, starting at the time of birth. Instead, you’ll get happiness. You’ll get protection in the form of a secure future, where you’ll continue to have the chance to serve Krishna, which is your innate desire to begin with.

“If you don’t want to accept Krishna as God, you can worship His expansion of the Supersoul residing within the heart. If that is too difficult for you, at least respect the impersonal Brahman, which is the sum collection of all sparks of spirit. Your present religious affiliation does not preclude you from practicing bhakti. Nothing can, in fact, since you’re only trying to find happiness. Wouldn’t the people who care about you want you to be as happy as possible?”

Indeed, we know that pursuits in material life don’t lead to lasting happiness. They can’t for the very reason that death takes place. Bhakti-yoga addresses both the present and the future. In the present the identification gets adjusted to where the individual realizes that they are spirit soul, part and parcel of God. The future gets fixed too, as the cycle of birth and death ends for the God conscious soul.

anta-kāle ca mām eva
smaran muktvā kalevaram
yaḥ prayāti sa mad-bhāvaṁ
yāti nāsty atra saṁśayaḥ

“And whoever, at the time of death, quits his body, remembering Me alone, at once attains My nature. Of this there is no doubt.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 8.5)

[Radha and Krishna]Rebirth guarantees a renewed search for lasting happiness. Bhakti-yoga is the culmination of all attempts at finding that happiness, and so it makes sense that rebirth would come to an end. In this process, the past gets addressed as well. All the mistakes that were made, all the regrettable acts, all the good times that are sorely missed, they get purified through achieving the ultimate reward of God’s association. The past becomes an instrument in that success, and so every negative gets transformed into a positive.

The individual is seeking happiness. This cannot be denied. Why not give bhakti-yoga a try? Why not chant the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare? It seems too easy for sure. It seems that our important responsibilities will get neglected, and therefore we’ll suffer. It seems like devotion to God is something better left for the end of life.

Though that end is guaranteed, its time of arrival is unknown. Therefore today could be the end of life. Those responsibilities will not mean a thing while we are quitting our body, but our consciousness certainly will. Therefore better to find bhakti-yoga today, where happiness will come automatically through the surrendering process.

In Closing:

In this world person every one and each,

Some kind of happiness they seek.


Everything tried despite,

Yet to reach living’s height.


Why not then bhakti-yoga take,

And the consciousness reshape?


That something better finally to come,

Even before death, have reservations none.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Honoring One’s Ancestors

[demigods showering gifts]“In charge of the various necessities of life, the demigods, being satisfied by the performance of yajna [sacrifice], supply all necessities to man. But he who enjoys these gifts, without offering them to the demigods in return, is certainly a thief.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 3.12)

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iṣṭān bhogān hi vo devā
dāsyante yajña-bhāvitāḥ
tair dattān apradāyaibhyo
yo bhuṅkte stena eva saḥ

Question: “Listen, bhakti-yoga philosophy is nice and all. I believe in it wholeheartedly, that you should worship God and be conscious of Him from today through the time of death. The thing is, I’m not ready to give up my family life. It is not through attachment, but through respect. Everything I have is due to them. Not just my parents and grandparents, but those who came before them too. I have to set up a good family in order to repay that debt. Does this mean that my devotional service is ruined?”

A person is considered grateful when they acknowledge the good deeds done for them. If someone helps you and you forget about that later on, you are not a grateful person. To be grateful means to be wise, since it means remembering something from the past. The less intelligent not only forget, but they fail to see beyond the immediate vision.

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

[Lakshmana]In the Ramayana, we learn that the Supreme Personality of Godhead is a grateful person. This is confirmed in the Bhakti-Rasamrita-Sindhu of Shrila Rupa Gosvami also. Since He is the most intelligent person, it makes sense that God would remember any work done in His favor. In the Bhagavad-gita He says that a simple offering of a fruit, water, a leaf or a flower is accepted by Him, provided the offering is made with love and devotion.

patraṁ puṣpaṁ phalaṁ toyaṁ
yo me bhaktyā prayacchati
tad ahaṁ bhakty-upahṛtam
aśnāmi prayatātmanaḥ

“If one offers Me with love and devotion a leaf, a flower, fruit, or water, I will accept it.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.26)

The person who remembers what their ancestors have done for them is thus on the right side of things. They are intelligent, grateful and not a miser. From Vedic philosophy we learn that as soon as someone takes birth they assume three debts. There is something owed to the rishis, who pass on Vedic wisdom. Without consulting the works of the rishis, it is impossible to know the five important topics of the supreme controller, the individual soul, the material nature, time and karma. This debt is repaid through studying these works.

Another debt is to the forefathers. The grateful person inherently understands this debt. They took birth due to the work of two people. The credit for the circumstances of their birth belong to generations prior. This debt is repaid through begetting a son. Basically, you’re keeping the chain going. You’re not exploiting the situation that was created for you by someone else.

[Appreciating the work of the demigods]The remaining debt is to the demigods, who manage the material creation. Lord Krishna mentions this debt in the Bhagavad-gita, where He says that one who doesn’t offer sacrifice is considered a thief. Sacrifice is for the pleasure of these demigods. It is taking the elements of material nature and essentially saying “thanks.” It is rightfully acknowledging that within the hands of any single individual rests very little control over circumstances.

Bhakti-yoga is love and devotion directed to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Repaying the three debts doesn’t necessarily fall into the category of bhakti-yoga, but service to God Himself automatically satisfies the debts. Why is this true? To think of what the forefathers have done is to see into the past. It is to see beyond what is currently visible. To see what the saints have done is to go even further up the chain of work, and then thinking of the demigods seems to reach the limit.

The Supreme Controller is the origin of all, however. He is the first person in the chain of work. Moreover, through the effortless operation of time, everything will be destroyed going forward. Vision moves forwards and backwards. Time is infinite in both directions, so one who really sees understands both what has happened in the past and what will happen going forward. When everything is gone, only Ishvara will remain. He is God, and He will again populate the earth with creatures, managing controllers, and saintly personalities.

prakṛtiṁ svām avaṣṭabhya
visṛjāmi punaḥ punaḥ
bhūta-grāmam imaṁ kṛtsnam
avaśaṁ prakṛter vaśāt

“The whole cosmic order is under Me. By My will it is manifested again and again, and by My will it is annihilated at the end.” (Lord Krishna, Bg. 9.8)

[God creating]The person who takes up service to Ishvara, who is a personality, is the wisest. They understand the root cause, and so they feel indebted to the right person. To be grateful for the work of others does not mean that the attention is given to the wrong people, but the appreciation is not yet complete. Bhakti-yoga is like watering the root of the tree; everything gets nourished as a result. The nourished roots then satisfy all debts assumed at birth.

The person who takes up service to God thus has no reason to fear. They chant the holy names in full surrender: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. They think of God all day, and they follow service to Him through the via medium of the guru, who ensures that the work done is bona fide. Every person within the affected sphere is benefitted, even if they don’t realize it. Even if the demigods should mistakenly feel slighted, Shri Krishna protects, like He did on the occasion of Govardhana Puja.

In Closing:

To demigods grateful should feel,

Sacrifice, else from them to steal.


Rishis and forefathers there are two,

Three debts at birth assumed by you.


But bhakti-yoga to roots nourishing,

Debts satisfied when love flourishing.


No worries then to expect,

Since Krishna there to protect.