Saturday, July 4, 2015

Why Is Everything Going Wrong

[flowers offered to Lord Rama]“Tulsi says that when one’s devotion in attachment to the Lord, the husband of Sita, diminishes, their happiness, luck and fortune run away.” (Dohavali, 70)

sāhiba sītānātha seāṁ jaba ghaṭihaiṁ anurāga |
tulasī tabahīṁ bhālateṁ bhabhari bhāgihaiṁ bhāga ||70||

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We’ve all had those days. Nothing seems to be going right. The car doesn’t start. You bring it to the mechanic and they tell you that the repairs will run thousands of dollars. Suddenly, you’re in the market for a new car. Then the household duties have been neglected for so long. Your boss is on you about meeting a deadline. The children aren’t happy that the television in the living room is broken. The spouse is upset over how stressed you’ve been.

The situation doesn’t have to match identically, but everyone in this material world struggles through bad times. In frustration a person says, “Why does it only rain on me?” In this verse from the Dohavali, Goswami Tulsidas says that the good fortune will run away as soon as one’s devotion to Shri Rama diminishes. The name used to address Rama here elaborates further on the point.

[Lord Rama]Rama is God. He is a sahiba, or boss. He is in charge of everything. Not a blade of grass moves without His sanction. He is the same Supreme Lord worshiped in every spiritual tradition. The name Rama is more defined; it refers to God as a personality. It provides more details into His nature and, by extension, the nature of the world we inhabit.

We know so many people who are not godly at all, but who have plenty of money. They don’t seem to be down on their luck. They don’t seem to be struggling. They have it all, it appears. If we had that much money, we would never worry; or so we think. In the Bhagavad-gita, Shri Rama, in His original form of Krishna, says that everyone is struggling hard in this material existence. The six senses are the cause of the trouble; the mind is included.

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)

The wealthy person is struggling. We don’t see it, but it is undoubtedly true from the mere fact that wealth doesn’t remain forever. Once you acquire something, there is the fear of loss. To mitigate that fear, there is maintenance. One of Rama’s other names is Vishnu, who is also a distinct personality. Lord Vishnu is the greatest maintainer. Only He can maintain perfectly; others are flawed.

[Sita Devi]Shri Rama’s wife is named Sita. Therefore Tulsidas addresses Rama as Sitanatha. Sita is the goddess of fortune, which means that from her blessings alone one can avoid misfortune. If there is a lack of attachment in devotion to Rama, then naturally Sita’s blessings will diminish as well. And then one can say goodbye to happiness and good luck.

Why does Sita only give fortune when there is anuraga for Rama? The physical manifestation of the fortune doesn’t necessarily vanish; just its nature changes. For instance, there was the famous Rakshasa named Ravana. He had tremendous wealth. He literally lived in a city of gold. Yet he didn’t have anuraga for Rama. Therefore he eventually lost everything. He tried to steal fortune in the form of Sita. He was not successful.

One who has fortune now but lacks devotion to God can expect a similar fate. Their money can turn into the greatest curse if not used properly. As Rama’s wife, Sita lives only to please God. Her blessings in the form of fortune are meant to be used in the same way. If the intended use gets ignored, then there can only be trouble.

[Sita and Rama]Birth itself is the cause of the misfortune, and through devotion to Sitanatha birth stops. One can make a test of it in this very lifetime; there is no requirement to wait until death. Giving devotion a try through chanting the holy names, one can test to see if their fortunes change. They may lose money and even become poor, but in many instances that can be the sign of good luck. Leaving more time to be spent with the all-attractive God, there is good fortune all around. Whatever is needed to continue in the practice of devotion is provided through the blessings of the goddess of fortune.

In Closing:

Blessings to devotees giving,

So that in devotion to husband living.


Fortune from Sita in this way intended,

Otherwise trouble, no matter how much defended.


All your good luck to run away,

When against Rama you stay.


Through chanting a test yourself make,

See the benefits when consciousness to awake.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Playing Outside

[Rama's lotus feet]“As the shadow grows when the sun is far away and then comes right below the feet when the sun is directly above the head, so the illusion of maya increases the more one is further away from Rama and decreases when He is inside the mind.” (Dohavali, 69)

rāma duri māyā baṛhati ghaṭati jāni mana mām̐ha |
bhūri hoti rabi dūri lakhi sira para pagatara chām̐ha ||69||

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Picture this scene. You’re outside taking a walk. You’ve been stuck in the house for an entire weekend with a fever and flulike symptoms. You barely left your bed. You hated it. It was like going to hell and not having an escape in sight. Now you’ve returned back from that horrible condition. In good health you decided to go outside and take in some fresh air.

When you left the house it was sunny outside. A perfect day for a walk, you thought. The problem is that the sun intermittently gets covered up by the clouds. It’s a little windy too, so without the sun’s direct light you feel cold. As soon as the clouds part again, you feel the soothing warmth. Each time the sunlight goes away, you can’t wait for it to come back.

[sun with clouds]The Supreme Personality of Godhead is the complete light for the living entities otherwise deluded by the illusory energy known as maya. In the above referenced verse from the Dohavali, Goswami Tulsidas uses the sun example, but with respect to the shadow it creates as it moves across the sky in the daytime.

When the sun is directly overhead, there is no shadow. You’re getting its light shining straight down upon you. As soon as it moves in either direction, a shadow gets created. The further the sun goes away, the larger the shadow becomes. Maya is like this. The more one forgets God, the more they become entrapped by the illusory energy. The more they remember God, the less influence maya has upon them.

The analogy is nice because to remember means to keep something in the mind. The mind is at the top of the standing body, similar to how the sun would be overhead in the sky. God in the mind is like the sun shining directly down. The sun is full of heat and light. This is the dharma of the sun. Dharma is an essential characteristic. Without heat and light the sun wouldn’t be the sun.

The real dharma for the living entity is service. There are other properties based on the type of body the individual accepts at the time of birth, but these dharmas are not eternal. They remain for some time and then change. Think of the police officer. When they are on duty, they have specific roles to fulfill. If they don’t fulfill them, they are not an accepted police officer. Yet when they go home, they play a different role. They are a spouse. When the children enter the picture, they are a parent. Thus the duties constantly shift.

The dharma at the core of the individual is eternal. This is because the individual’s core is spiritual. Religion in the Vedic definition is thus known as sanatana-dharma. It is the engagement that maintains the essential characteristic of the spirit soul. Association with maya is asanatana; it does not last forever. Maya creates the illusion that the temporary things matter more. That new car you’re thinking of buying - occupy your time with that. That college you’re applying for - make sure you always think about it. Basically, think of anything and anyone except God.

[college applications]While it is seemingly impossible to break out of this illusion, the escape method is actually quite simple. It is made so because of God’s properties. He is easy to think of. He has transcendental features that can be pondered, studied and glorified to the end of time and beyond. Love God until whatever endpoint you think exists, and when you reach it, He’ll create new situations for you to continue in your worship.

Tulsidas loves God as Shri Ramachandra. This is God the person in His spiritual manifestation as a warrior prince. Rama is not a made-up God. He is not an object of worship created out of sentiment. The Supreme Lord is not identical to every worshipable figure, but He does not limit Himself to a single form. In His original manifestation, He is Shri Krishna, the all-attractive one. To help an innocent five-year old transcendentalist against the danger of powerful atheistic forces, He becomes Narasimha, the half-man/half-lion.

[Lord Rama]To the individual struggling with the large shadow of maya, Rama sends an empowered representative. That person prescribes direct sunlight for twenty-four hours a day in the form of Krishna consciousness. That is created easily through the chanting of the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. This transcendental sound is completely spiritual, creating bright sunshine in a life that otherwise seems dreary and cold.

In Closing:

By birth, disease and age coming old,

Life in maya seeming dreary and cold.


For mood and outlook to make bright,

Accept Rama’s heat and transcendental light.


Like taking a human body standing,

And in his mind this consciousness landing.


Then the life of maya no more,

Only God the person to adore.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Increasing Maya

[sun and shadow]“As the shadow grows when the sun is far away and then comes right below the feet when the sun is directly above the head, so the illusion of maya increases the more one is further away from Rama and decreases when He is inside the mind.” (Dohavali, 69)

rāma duri māyā baṛhati ghaṭati jāni mana mām̐ha |
bhūri hoti rabi dūri lakhi sira para pagatara chām̐ha ||69||

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Boiled down to the essence, the existence of the individual soul can be likened to a basic choice. Which shelter do you prefer? Do you want to go it alone, where you etch out your own path in life? Do you want to seek happiness through your own effort, though remaining under the control of the strict laws of nature? Or would you rather accept the shelter of the Supreme Lord, whose association is not very difficult to attain? Goswami Tulsidas nicely explains each choice in the verse quoted above. On one side is maya and on the other is God.

The closer you get to either side, the further you get away from the opposite. Like if you make a right turn on the road, you automatically travel further away from what was on the left side. The same goes for making the choice of the left side. With respect to the individual’s decision in life, the two sides are not equal. The choice of God’s association brings bliss and happiness, while the other side is illusion.

The illusion is known as maya. It actually comes from God; it is His energy. In this sense there is always theism; there is always association with the Divine. Atheism is merely choosing in favor of God’s external energy. It is like a shadow that continues to grow as you go further away from the Supreme Lord’s personal presence, referenced here through the name of Rama. Rama is the worshipable deity of Tulsidas. Rama is God the person, full of transcendental attributes.

[Lord Rama]The analogy to the shadow is appropriate because choosing in favor of maya doesn’t look all that different from choosing in favor of God. Maya is like the shadow resulting from the light that is God. The devotee of Rama always chants the holy names, like those found in the maha-mantra: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. They eat food on a regular basis. They do work around the house if necessary. They enjoy spending time with like-minded individuals.

The person who chooses maya does seemingly the same things. They sing songs. They like to eat good food. They spend time with friends and family. Then what is the difference?  One word: consciousness. Who is in the mind? What thoughts fill the time during the day? If they are of Rama, then the shadow decreases. It is like having the sun directly above your head. When the sun is further away, the shadow increases.

[bright sunshine]The illusion that is maya is hinged upon the idea of becoming God. Just work hard enough and one day you’ll be the richest person. Just accumulate enough good karma and you’ll get to enjoy like the king of heaven. Even renunciation can be in maya. With enough detachment you’ll merge into the Absolute. Just repeat to yourself over and over that you are God. Then you will become Him.

But there is only one God. His post is not up for grabs. He is completely satisfied in Himself, atmarama. He does not need to do work or practice yoga. Effortlessly He creates this and many other universes. He maintains them without a thought and He decides when the time for dissolution should come.

Anyone who thinks they can become God is certainly in illusion. They are under the sway of maya, which acts at Rama’s direction. The illusion seems to be a cruel trick played on the individual, but it is merely a reflection of their desires. They don’t want God in their mind. They don’t want to be conscious of Him. That choice is respected all the way to the point that the Supreme Lord will send the strongest illusory energy to act on the desires.

[Rama's lotus feet]The wise souls know that God is the real thing. Therefore they try to maintain His association as much as possible. Who would choose ignorance over intelligence? Who would choose forgetfulness over remembrance? These things may alleviate pain for the time being, but ultimately they don’t do much good. Strength, faith, knowledge, perseverance and kindness are found in full in God. They are also found in devotion to Him, which is the only way to keep maya far away.

In Closing:

Bewildered by maya they are,

So to them Rama remaining far.


Like when the sun away creeping,

Resulting shadow then increasing.


Illusion from the choice that is made,

But devotees in right direction swayed.


Chanting, worshiping of consciousness pure,

Lone way to keep maya away for sure.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Talking About Wanting To See God

[Kurukshetra battlefield]“Tulsi says that one who insults Hari has their entire society and kingdom go to dust, like with what happened to Duryodhana, his family, and everyone associated with him.” (Dohavali, 67)

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tulasī hari apamāna tēṁ hō'i akāja samāja |
rāja karata raja mili ga'ē sadala sakula kurūrāja ||67||

Friend-One: Tell me this. What’s wrong in wanting to see God?

Friend-Two: Who said there was anything wrong with it? What else should you want to see in life? Maya? Illusion? Man is born with four principal defects. One of them is easily falling into illusion. God is the real thing. He is the truth. The wise person desperately wants to see Him.

F1: Why are you playing the other side of the argument here? I know I’ve heard many times that we shouldn’t be so eager to see God.

F2: Athato-brahma-jijnasa: now is the time for inquiring about Brahman. Brahman is spirit, the best term in Sanskrit to equate with our concept of God.

F1: I thought Ishvara was the best term. That’s what I see used in movies anyway. It’s more generic; it doesn’t offend anyone. It is nonsectarian.

F2: Ishvara is good too, but the literal meaning points to a personality. Brahman is an energy. We don’t know who God is or whether or not He exists. We don’t know what He looks like. Therefore the general conception of Him is more of an abstract, something not well-defined. Brahman fits better than Ishvara here.

F1: I see. So the wise person in the human species inquires about Brahman. Is that the same as wanting to see God?

F2: It’s the first step. It’s desiring to see something beyond eating, sleeping, mating and defending. These four things can be done in the animal species. You don’t need an advanced degree to figure out how to eat. Sex desire transcends rational thinking all the time; so we know that the advanced human brain is not required for this, either.

F1: Alright. You can try to pretend all you want, but I know I’ve heard the thing about it not being good to want to see God.

F2: The idea is that the vision alone won’t do much for you.

F1: Ah, there we go.  Okay, why not? Maya is illusion. I understand that seeing things in maya has no benefit. But God is Brahman. He is the source of the spiritual energy, no? How can seeing Him not be a good thing?

F2: What if you still have the maya-vision afterwards?

F1: What do you mean?

[pizza]F2: Think of it like when you’re extremely passionate about something. If I’ve got pizza on my mind all day, I won’t be able to think clearly. Someone can tell me that it’s not good to eat pizza today. They could give me all the reasons why I should eat something else. But it’s like I’m not even hearing them. The words are coming and I’m capable of understanding, but due to my passion my sense perceptions are not accurate.

F1: I get it. Like they’re distorted. It’s sort of like you’re wearing your reading glasses when trying to see something far away.

F2: That’s a good way of putting it. You could see God at any time, but it doesn’t mean you’ll get the proper benefit. There are so many mistakes that can be made. You might think that He is impersonal, without form. In the Bhagavad-gita it is said that for one who is embodied the path of impersonalism is very difficult. This is because if you have the maya-vision, you won’t be able to understand what a spiritual form is. When God is described as nirguna, the actual meaning is that His form is spiritual.

F1: Right. Like He has hands, legs, ears and a mouth, but those things act in superior ways than to what we’re accustomed.

F2: There are examples to help us understand. Do you know of the time Krishna went to broker a peace deal between the Kauravas and the Pandavas?

F1: I remember that He went, but I don’t know the details of the meeting.

F2: Shri Krishna is antaryami. He is God in His original, personal form. Therefore Krishna knows past, present and future. He knew that the peace deal wouldn’t happen. The Kauravas were too set in their evil ways. They were not willing to give up even an inch of land to Arjuna and the Pandavas.

F1: So why did He try for peace?

[Lord Krishna]F2: Krishna’s actions take care of so many things simultaneously. By trying for peace, He showed the way of diplomacy. War should be a last resort. It also gave an opportunity to show how seeing God does not always lead to the desired result.

F1: But Krishna is God. Duryodhana and his family saw Krishna all the time. What was special about this meeting?

F2: They had seen Krishna before, but not in the proper way. For starters, they didn’t know that He was God. They also lacked love for Him. In this meeting, Krishna showed the universal form. This is awe-inspiring; think of everything that exists in the universe all packed into one vision.

F1: Why did He show this?

F2: Duryodhana wanted to insult Krishna in front of everyone by binding Him.

F1: Wow. That’s pretty stupid.

F2: Exactly. Krishna’s universal form scared them straight for the time being. The Kauravas continued with their sinful ways regardless. They saw a vision of God, one that the typical seeker so desperately wants. Yet that alone didn’t do anything. Later on Arjuna saw a superior version of the universal form and then decided that he would rather look at Krishna as He is. This means that Krishna the person is the one worth seeing. More importantly, He is the one worth serving.

F1: Can you serve Him if you don’t see Him?

[Krishna and Arjuna]F2: You serve Him so that you can become worthy of seeing Him. Then after you see Him properly, you continue serving. Seeing is not the end. It can occur at any point, and when viewing with the proper mentality, that sacred vision remains in the mind at all times.

In Closing:

Vision of Krishna’s virata got,

But Duryodhana still knowing Him not.


Spiritualist desperately for this goes,

But that not everything incident shows.


Arjuna saw virata-rupa special even more,

Still chose Krishna’s own form to adore.


Devotee acting in ways purifying the eyes,

And devotion increasing even after vision to realize.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Talking About A Compassionate Recipient

[Arjuna and Krishna]“Arjuna said: What is the destination of the man of faith who does not persevere, who in the beginning takes to the process of self-realization but who later desists due to worldly-mindedness and thus does not attain perfection in mysticism?” (Bhagavad-gita, 6.37)

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arjuna uvāca

ayatiḥ śraddhayopeto

yogāc calita-mānasaḥ

aprāpya yoga-saṁsiddhiṁ

kāṁ gatiṁ kṛṣṇa gacchati

Friend-One: You know what I got to thinking the other day?

Friend-Two: I’m not antaryami, so the answer is I have no idea what you were thinking yesterday or ten years ago. I don’t know what you’re thinking right now. Can you guess what I’m thinking?

F1: I’m not the all-pervading witness, either. Only Krishna can do that because He is the Supersoul.

F2: What about the yogis who can read minds? I’m sure you’ve heard of the mystics who can appear suddenly to someone in a dream. They can transport themselves from place to place. Some of them can even read minds.

F1: Okay, I’ll acknowledge that. But they can’t read all minds; that’s a different story.

F2: And why is that?

F1: Because we are individual soul. We can distribute our influence outside of the local sphere, but we remain a singular entity. Moreover, we can’t be everywhere at the same time.

F2: Krishna can because He is the Supersoul within each heart. He witnesses all, but does not necessarily provide guidance.

F1: Finally, we’re back to what I wanted to talk about. Specifically, there was a notable time when He did provide guidance. That was the occasion of the Bharata War, where he helped a distressed Arjuna.

F2: Yes, the setting for the Bhagavad-gita.

F1: My random thought was about Arjuna and his compassion in particular. I can’t get over how nice he was.

F2: What do you mean? Because Krishna liked him?

[Arjuna]F1: Well, there’s that. But Krishna didn’t choose him by accident. Arjuna was a great bow warrior. He could defeat pretty much anyone. Yet he was completely detached from it. He wasn’t interested in his own success.

F2: The Pandava family was like that. They were so pious. Kuntidevi was their mother, after all, so they had a good starting point.

F1: At the beginning Arjuna was worried about success. He was not afraid to fight. He knew he could win. The problem was over the cost of victory.

F2: Namely, in the lives of the opposing side.

F1: Exactly. Arjuna worried about them. Mind you, their leader, Duryodhana, had no such concern for Arjuna or any of the Pandavas. Duryodhana stole their property and wouldn’t give back even a small piece of it.

F2: It explains why the Gita wasn’t delivered to him.

F1: Arjuna’s compassion doesn’t end there, though. In the process of settling his doubts, Krishna explains to him the science of self-realization.

F2: Right. That is the solution to everything.

F1: It’s described as yoga, which is the linking of the individual soul with the Supreme Soul. Arjuna is so kind that he worries what will happen to the unsuccessful yogi.

F2: If you’re not fully God conscious at the time of death, your yoga has not been completely successful. Not to worry, though, as you get to continue where you left off in the next life. You take birth in a family of pious brahmanas or well-to-do merchants. This way you’re not struggling to find culture. You can pick up your yoga practice more easily.

F1: It’s very comforting to know. Yet we only know this because Arjuna asked. It’s amazing how compassionate he was.

F2: This is the way all Vaishnavas are. It’s what happens when you see the spiritual equality of all beings. You wish for the wellbeing of everyone. The concepts of friend and enemy lose their meaning.

F1: Arjuna’s behavior also debunks the idea that people in bhakti-yoga abandon everything and everyone. Far from it, Arjuna remembered each and every person on that battlefield. He was worried about everyone.

F2: Yeah, he was worried even about the yogi, who typically has nothing to do with things like war. Yes, Arjuna is pretty amazing. We learn that he is an eternally liberated soul.

F1: Right. The doubts in his mind were due to yogamaya, which is Krishna’s direct energy. Arjuna asked those questions for our benefit. He didn’t need to worry over success or failure in yoga since Krishna was always with Him.

[Krishna and Arjuna on chariot]F2: That’s a great point. We can say that is one definition of bhakti-yoga. It is the way to make sure Krishna is always with you. Of course we mean this in terms of consciousness. The Supersoul is always in the heart, but unless we are aware of its presence, we don’t get the full benefit. Vaishnavas like Arjuna and the spiritual masters following in his line teach us how to become conscious of God.

In Closing:

Of his fighting ability aware,

Still concern for others to care.


Not just enemies on opposing side,

But also where the yogis to reside.


Asking if failing to complete in lifetime one,

What of their progress, left with none?


Answer that even if from this world to depart,

Progress not halted, again from that point to start.

Monday, June 29, 2015

After Reading For Thousands Of Years

[Krishna and Arjuna]“When the parampara system was lost, Arjuna was again selected to rejuvenate it. The acceptance of Arjuna of all that Krishna says should be emulated; then we can understand the essence of Bhagavad-gita, and then only can we understand that Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 10.14 Purport)

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It’s a fine day in the neighborhood. It’s calm and peaceful and the weather is nice. As usual, the morning paper arrives at the door. On this day, the young son picks it up, imitating the actions of the father. They flip through the pages, pretending to be reading. But in fact, they have yet to learn reading and writing. They can only look at the words. If this person spent an entire year looking at the same words, would they suddenly learn how to read? This example can be used to help explain how the parampara system is needed for understanding the king of education that is the Bhagavad-gita.

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)

[Bhagavad-gita As It Is]Today the Bhagavad-gita is merely words, after all. Though originally spoken by Shri Krishna and then heard by Arjuna, in the book form the content is characters and symbols. A person who knows Sanskrit can decode the text and produce the exact same sounds that came out of the mouth of Shri Krishna, but does this mean that they will understand the words?

The question is an interesting one, as the words were put into book form for a reason. Why write something down if you don’t want anyone to read it later on? If I leave a note on the front door telling the delivery man to leave the package at the doorstep, what more is needed? Is further elaboration required? Why is it not the same with the texts of the Vedic tradition? Why are there commentaries included with the translations?

tad viddhi praṇipātena

paripraśnena sevayā

upadekṣyanti te jñānaṁ

jñāninas tattva-darśinaḥ

“Just try to learn the truth by approaching a spiritual master. Inquire from him submissively and render service unto him. The self-realized soul can impart knowledge unto you because he has seen the truth.” (Lord Krishna, Bg. 4.34)

The answer can be found within the Gita itself. Shri Krishna advises Arjuna to seek out a spiritual master. The guru has seen the truth and can thus impart the same knowledge to the disciple. Armed with that knowledge, the recipient ideally can one day attain the same realization. Krishna does not advise Arjuna to contemplate the matter over and become enlightened on his own effort. He does not say that one day things will magically appear within Arjuna’s mind.

[Shrila Prabhupada]The spiritual master has seen the highest truth, the supreme spiritual force running through the entire cosmos. That supreme spirit is within both the tiny room and the infinitely vast outer space. He is within the heart of the ant and also the heart of the elephant. He is present in both the dumb and the genius.

Such an incomprehensible force can only be understood through proper authority. The human mind cannot come to the realization on its own. What makes an authority, then? To whom should we go? How can we tell if someone has seen the truth? Parampara, or disciplic succession, is valid when it has its root at the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Shri Krishna is that root, for He explains in the Gita that the wisdom given to Arjuna existed long before their time together on earth.

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.” (Lord Krishna, Bg. 4.1)

The guru is authorized to present works like the Bhagavad-gita because they are familiar with the underlying culture. A simple parsing of words will not bring the real meaning to the verses. Realization comes from practice, and practice done under authority yields the desired result. A person who sees duality, who thinks in terms of friends and enemies, my nation against your nation, cannot possibly understand the energy that transcends birth and death and everything in between. They can’t possibly understand how a personality is behind the creation and destruction of the universe and how that supreme individual can have features that are not limiting.

What to speak of a single lifetime, if the same individual were to spend thousands of years reading only the verses of the Bhagavad-gita they are not guaranteed to come to the proper conclusion. The true meaning to the work is given in the concluding verses, where Shri Krishna advises Arjuna to abandon all varieties of religion and surrender unto Him.

sarva-dharmān parityajya

mām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ vraja

ahaṁ tvāṁ sarva-pāpebhyo

mokṣayiṣyāmi mā śucaḥ

“Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reaction. Do not fear.” (Lord Krishna, Bg. 18.66)

[Krishna and Arjuna]One who reads the Bhagavad-gita but fails to understand that Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead has not derived the proper meaning. They can read the same book hundreds of more times and still not reach the right end. Yet by hearing from the proper authority source, who follows the mood of Arjuna, the right understanding can come very quickly. It is for this reason that the acharyas of the Vaishnava tradition are considered so benevolent. They adjust to the time and circumstance to make the complex understandable, to give to every person their birthright: pure love and devotion to God.

In Closing:

Child newspaper in hand to take,

Then attempt at reading to make.


With so much invested despite,

Failing since lacking proper sight.


With Bhagavad-gita same to apply,

Never to understand no matter how hard to try.


But when bona fide spiritual master going through,

Only then the proper conclusion coming to you.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

The One With The Missed Play

[chanting beads]“There are many regulative principles in the shastras and directions given by the spiritual master. These regulative principles should act as servants of the basic principle - that is, one should always remember Krishna and never forget Him. This is possible when one chants the Hare Krishna mantra.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Chaitanya Charitamrita, Madhya 22.113 Purport)

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Bhakti-yoga is pure love and devotion for the Supreme Personality of Godhead, which is a more suitable definition for the author of all things. The word “god” doesn’t suffice. For someone who doesn’t know the meaning to the Sanskrit word bhagavan, this extended definition provides clarity. God is the best among all godly figures. He is a personality who can expand into an infinite number of forms. Like a single candle illuminating other replica candles, God can appear anywhere He so chooses. From that ability, He can be heard by anyone. Any person practicing bhakti-yoga can thereby attain success.

But if you love something purely, what need is there to practice? Does the mother need to remind herself to feed her son? Do the separated paramours need to be told to long for their beloved? Do the military personnel need to be reminded of patriotism? In this regard there is a debate between vaidhi-bhakti and raganuga-bhakti. Vaidhi is following regulative principles and raganuga is following with spontaneous attachment. Obviously the love is more pure when there is less attention given to adhering to this rule and that.

Randy was explaining all of this to his friend one day. The friend was a little confused over the difference. He couldn’t understand why there was so much attention given to rising early, chanting the holy names for a fixed number of rounds and avoiding certain behaviors. Randy explained that following a routine, which is known as sadhana, helps lead towards the goal of spontaneity. He relayed a recent story from his own life.

A daughter of a friend of the family’s was performing in a high school play. My wife and I were invited and we were kind of excited to go. I’ve always liked watching live performances. Especially if I’m not seated too far away, I tend to enjoy theater more than film and television. The characters have to work harder to get the attention of the audience and there seems to be less smut too. To me, a cheap way to get laughs is to insert vulgar language into your film. That doesn’t seem to work so well in live drama.

So it’s the night of the play and we’re getting ready to go. To no one’s surprise, my wife was running late. She always does this to me. I was pretty calm about it, though. I didn’t lose my temper. Finally, she came downstairs and we were all set to go. The play was at my old high school, which I know very well. I used to drive there every day for at least two years after I got my driver’s license.

So picture my wife and me in the car. The high school is not far away from home. She is on the phone text messaging with her friends and I’m sort of daydreaming. This isn’t that out of the ordinary. If I’m going somewhere familiar, I rarely keep my mind focused on the driving. It’s like autopilot takes over.

And the autopilot indeed took over this time. After about fifteen minutes I realized that I was driving to work. The high school is along the same highway that I take every day to the office. Without thinking, from force of habit, I kept driving on the road, missing the exit for the high school. My wife didn’t notice since her head was buried in her smartphone. Realizing my mistake, I quickly turned around. We ended up getting to the play late and having to sit all the way in the back.

Aside from being a humorous incident, there is a good lesson to learn from this. If you take your sadhana seriously in bhakti-yoga, pretty soon your mind will be on autopilot with the different practices. Without even thinking you’ll get up early in the morning. Just like brushing your teeth and taking a shower, you’ll chant the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

[Lord Krishna]If you think about it, this is the best routine to have. If your mind is going to wander somewhere, why not have it go to a place that is beneficial? The mind wanders to a familiar place, and so why not have God be the most familiar person? This is one way to explain how sadhana in vaidhi eventually turns into raganuga. The principles of bhakti-yoga help to change the default condition from illusion to knowledge, from misery and despair to enthusiasm and happiness. All goodness is in the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and so it is no wonder that the regulative principles aimed at achieving Him help to create the best mindset, one that eventually becomes second nature.

In Closing:

Dependent on principles shouldn’t be,

In pure bhakti with love Krishna to see.


Principles still an effect making,

When routine of chanting taking.


From example of driving demonstrating,

Like second nature one thing contemplating.


Follow advanced acharya’s lead,

And their respect for regulation heed.