Saturday, September 12, 2015

Five Things About Krishna That Are Worshipable

[Krishna in Vrindavana]“Lord Chaitanya has recommended that since Krishna is worshipable, so His land, Vrindavana and Govardhana Hill, are also worshipable. To confirm this statement, Lord Krishna said that Govardhana Puja is as good as worship of Him.” (Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 1, Ch 24)

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“We should worship God. We should be devoted to Him in thought, word and deed. We should engage in devotional service, which is the English translation to the term ‘bhakti-yoga.’ We should not be devoted to the material energy, which features only sense gratification. Following this path will release us from the cycle of birth and death. No more reincarnation or everything that happens in between.”

Theoretically, this makes sense, but what is the practical application? If I want to seriously engage in devotion, how do I tell that my work is any different from before? If I wake up on a summer morning, that is no different than waking up on a winter morning. Just the weather has changed. In the same way, if I was conscious before, how do I tell that I am now Krishna conscious?

Bhakti-yoga is synonymous with the science of self-realization. It is the superior path since side by side with knowledge of the self is knowledge of the Superself. In simpler terms, you understand God as much as you can, and in the process you learn about your true identity as well. This is opposed to straight Vedanta philosophy, which first teaches the individual of their identity as Brahman. The supreme is spoken of only in vague terms, with His position described in relation to the individual soul, the spark of Brahman.

To know how to worship God, we can look to the different things about Him that are worshipable. He is known as Krishna since He is all-attractive. To be attractive means to have some aspect to you that is viewed favorably by others. To be all-attractive means that every aspect is and must be favorable to anyone that looks upon it. In reviewing the different aspects to Krishna, we see how this is true.

1. His form.

When we speak of Krishna, we refer to a person. This person obviously has a form. If I know that someone is in the room, it means that there is something physical that identifies their presence. Though for the individual there is a difference between matter and spirit, in Krishna it is not the case. Referencing Krishna is referencing Krishna the person, who has a transcendental body. That body has hands, ears, legs, arms and a face, but these parts can do amazing things. The body of Krishna is not ordinary.

The deity is also the form of Krishna. Though it is crafted by hands belonging to a fallible human being, in fact no work can occur without the sanction of the Supersoul, who is Krishna. He exists as the overseer and the permitter, as described in the Bhagavad-gita.

upadraṣṭānumantā ca

bhartā bhoktā maheśvaraḥ

paramātmeti cāpy ukto

dehe 'smin puruṣaḥ paraḥ

“Yet in this body there is another, a transcendental enjoyer who is the Lord, the supreme proprietor, who exists as the overseer and permitter, and who is known as the Supersoul.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 13.23)

[Krishna deity]The deity is the result of the Supersoul’s sanctioning of the making of a transcendental form that depicts His all-attractive features. It is His mercy upon the fallen, allowing them to worship in a way that they can see Him. The deity is specifically empowered to be worshiped.

2. His name.

This one is a little more difficult to realize. When you say the word “Krishna” you actually have “Krishna.” The name is identical to Him. Again, this is the Lord’s mercy upon the fallen. They insist on seeing God, but they don’t know that hearing Him is just as good. The equivalence in the holy name is what empowers the chanting of the maha-mantra, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.”

Every bona fide bhakti tradition stresses the chanting of the holy names. Some lineages take the name of Rama to be superior, while others prefer Vishnu. Others describe Krishna to be the most potent name. The idea is that any authorized name for God is sufficient for chanting and worshiping the Supreme Lord. The more one chants purely, that is without motives for personal gain, the more they come in contact with the Lord.

3. His land.

Didn’t God create everything? Doesn’t this mean that the entire universe is His? This is a good way of viewing things, but it is a very difficult platform of understanding to reach. In His continued drive to help the fallen understand Him and gain rescue, the Supreme Lord descends to this earth in His personal form from time to time.

yadā yadā hi dharmasya

glānir bhavati bhārata

abhyutthānam adharmasya

tadātmānaṁ sṛjāmy aham

“Whenever and wherever there is a decline in religious practice, O descendant of Bharata, and a predominant rise of irreligion-at that time I descend Myself.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.7)

[Jagannath Puri]Those places where He appears and enacts pastimes thus become pilgrimage spots. Lands such as Vrindavana, Mathura, Dvaraka, Ayodhya, Chitrakuta, and Jagannatha Puri are sacred because of their direct association with Krishna and His avataras. The famous Govardhana Hill is considered identical to Him, and therefore any rock gotten from there is worshiped in the home.

4. His food.

As we honor the Supreme Lord’s form, name, and land, we also honor food that has been offered to Him. The process is purifying, as it eliminates karma. From every action we do for sense gratification, we become implicated in reactions. Sometimes the consequence is favorable in the short term and sometimes not. Either way, there is karma, which means rebirth in the material ocean.

[Krishna prasadam]Offering food to Krishna is for satisfying His senses. He is so kind that He returns remnants to be honored and enjoyed by the devotees. This sacred food is known as prasadam, which means “the Lord’s mercy.” Just as the sound of the holy name can deliver even the most atheistic person, just by honoring prasadam a person can make spiritual advancement.

5. His people.

If you understand the potency of prasadam, then this one is pretty obvious. If food dedicated and offered to Krishna is worshipable, then certainly the same is true for people who dedicate their lives to glorifying Him. Those fooled by the degraded caste system will never understand this, as they are blinded by bodily distinctions. But countless examples in history have shown that devotees of Krishna can be found in any type of body, in any region.

“By remembering Shri Rama’s holy name, even those who are born into a low caste become worthy of fame, just as the wild trees that line the streets in the heavenly realm are famous throughout the three worlds.” (Dohavali, 16)

[worshipers of Govardhana Hill]Krishna is endless and unlimited. His incarnations are too many to fathom. This means that His deeds are the same way. There is no way to count all the points of reference that can serve as objects of worship. Bandwidth from the high speed internet provider is capped based on price, but the throughput in service to Krishna is limited only by the desire within the individual. If a person really wants to connect with Him, they will never run out of opportunities to serve.

In Closing:

From Lord Chaitanya understand,

That worshipable too is Krishna’s land.


Identity with Him the same,

Like with potency of holy name.


Also with food to Him offering,

Prasadam and devotees honoring.


Ways to connect so many there are,

No reason for Divine life to be far.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Five Things That Define a Vaishnava

[Vishnu lotus feet]“When we speak of Vishnu, we also refer to that which relates to Vishnu. In the Shiva Purana, Lord Shiva recommends Vishnu worship to be the topmost worship, and better than Vishnu worship is worship of the Vaishnava or anything that is related to Vishnu.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 4.23.31 Purport)

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In academic circles, Vaishnavism is a branch of Hinduism. Hinduism is a style of religion practiced principally in India, and within that religion there are different beliefs, including a variety of worshipable figures. The term “Vaishnava” is referenced by the Vaishnavas themselves and the meaning may not be clear to one not familiar with the Vedic tradition.

What exactly makes a Vaishnava? Why use this term instead of something else? Why not just say “someone who believes in God”? Would that not suffice?

The introductory teaching in Vedic philosophy is “aham brahmasmi,” which means “I am Brahman.” The Vedas are the works of knowledge that form the origin of Hinduism. Indeed, to one who accepts this knowledge and lives their life accordingly, Hinduism is an invalid term; not proper for identification.

The reason is that Vedic teachings are scientifically based. Just as one wouldn’t say they believe in gravity, a person who accepts the existence of the core animating object within living beings doesn’t consider themselves to be part of a faith. “Sanatana-dharma” is a more appropriate equivalent for Hinduism, as it indicates the eternal engagement of the individual, who is a spirit soul.

Still, the term “Vaishnava” is there and it exists to distinguish exactly how the individual who accepts the existence of the soul acts. It also explains how they view that individual soul with respect to other souls.

1. They believe in God the person.

Brahman is our real identity. We are not male, female, American, Indian, white or Hispanic. These things may be used as identification on official forms, but they reflect attributes belonging to the temporary body only. Brahman is the spiritual identity. Yet Brahman is not everything. There is a source of the spiritual energy, and that source is known by various names across the many spiritual traditions of the world.

The Vaishnava accepts that the source of Brahman is a person. Not an ordinary person who undergoes birth and death in the material world, but an individual nonetheless. Just as a person has a form with accompanying hands and legs, so too God can be realized through His transcendental features.

2. They know about both advaita and dvaita.

There is more to the worship of the Vaishnava than just faith. There is intelligence with respect to both the material and the spiritual. Not only does the Vaishnava know Brahman and the source of Brahman, but they also know the scientific relationship between the two. One is small and susceptible to falling into the material ocean of ignorance. The other is supreme and all-pervading, expanding into every single living thing.

The philosophy of advaita says that there is no difference between the individual soul and the Supreme Soul, or God. The Vaishnava acknowledges this philosophy. They know that since the many sparks of Brahman come from God, there is always a link. We living creatures are part of the overall definition of God the person.

The philosophy of dvaita says that there is duality, a difference between the individual souls and God. The Vaishnava accepts this philosophy too, since God can do things that we can’t. We are eternal, knowledgeable and blissful and so is He. The difference is that His attributes are of a higher quantitative potency. His knowledge is perfect, while ours is limited. His blissfulness remains at all times, while we fluctuate between happiness and sadness.

3. They know about Godhead.

[Vishnu avataras]The literal definition of the word Vaishnava is “worshiper of Vishnu.” Vishnu is God the person, a distinct personality. The Vaishnava knows that God expands into different personal forms as well, like the candle that can alight other identical candles. Vishnu is also Rama, Narasimha, Krishna and Varaha. The personal expansions are known as vishnu-tattva, which is a complex subject nicely explained by Lord Chaitanya.

The respect for Godhead means that the Vaishnava is very liberal with regards to worship. They don’t insist that everyone worship only a particular form like Vishnu. They know that God the person can expand and thus delight different people with His form and pastimes. The Vaishnava also knows that not all divine figures are the same. Not just any godly personality is equal to Vishnu. The identification of vishnu-tattva comes from authorized works like the Mahabharata, Shrimad Bhagavatam and Ramayana.

4. They know that God is Bhagavan, the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

The Vaishnava worships God as the supreme person. They identify Him as Bhagavan, which means one who possesses all opulences in full. This gives more clarity to the point that the Vaishnava knows of God as a person. What kind of person is Vishnu? He is all-pervading, the great maintainer, and full of opulences. The Vaishnava accepts their Vishnu form of choice as the Supreme Godhead. In the Bhagavad-gita, the supreme Vishnu reveals Himself to Arjuna through His form of Krishna. Krishna has two hands, plays a flute and is always enjoying. All Vaishnavas accept Krishna as supreme, even if their worshipable deity of choice may be Vishnu or Rama.

5. They worship without motives.

Aside from the different Vishnu forms and the philosophical foundation, there is one aspect to the worship that really makes the Vaishnava unique. They don’t ask anything from God. Their only desire is to keep serving. This service, known as bhakti-yoga, flows through any of nine different principal methods, the most effective of which are hearing and chanting. Both are accomplished through the chanting of the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

[Radha-Krishna deities]The Vaishnava may have motives in the beginning. They may want a new car. They may beg to do well on an important exam. They may pray for the health of a family member. Yet since they are approaching Vishnu, or God the person, they become purified through their worship. They may not get what they want. Vishnu is the lone god who might intentionally disappoint you. This is one way to tell that He is supreme. He is the detail behind the abstract conception we have of the Divine. He is a loving deity, and those who give love to Him without motivation and without interruption are known as Vaishnavas.

In Closing:

From certain qualities to detect,

The Vaishnava, of Hinduism a sect.


Knowledge of identity as Brahman to own,

And its relationship to Supreme is known.


One God for everyone’s delight,

Into other forms like candle can alight.


Eventually in worship lacking motivation,

And in service never to see interruption.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Knowing About God From God

[Krishna's lotus feet]“Now hear, O son of Pritha [Arjuna], how by practicing yoga in full consciousness of Me, with mind attached to Me, you can know Me in full, free from doubt.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.1)

śrī-bhagavān uvāca

mayy āsakta-manāḥ pārtha

yogaṁ yuñjan mad-āśrayaḥ

asaṁśayaṁ samagraṁ māṁ

yathā jñāsyasi tac chṛṇu

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“I believe in God. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not an atheist. I’m not so crazy to think that everything just happened by accident. You had two reptiles swimming together and then bam, the new generation grew a pair of hands? That’s ridiculous. I don’t need a degree in science to see the folly in that logic. Though I know He exists, I have no idea what God looks like. Is He even a He? Where does He live? What does He want from us? If I were to see Him, how would I recognize Him? It seems like nobody has the answer for me.”

Indeed, the common theme in all religions is the existence of a higher power.

“From the one came many. Surrender to Him to escape the darkness; enter the light. See His potency within all creatures. Understand His compassion by being compassionate yourself. Live to make others happy; don’t be self-centered.”

These statements make a lot of sense, but often the details are lacking. Even in the scientific explanation that comes from the Vedas, the majority focus is on the difference between matter and spirit. The dividing line between material life and spiritual life is realization of the animating force, the spirit soul. From the Vedas, we learn that we are not our body. This is the first truth taught to aspiring students, presented to them through the Sanskrit aphorism “aham brahmasmi.”

“I am Brahman.” Brahman is the spiritual energy. Without Brahman nothing would move. Everything would be dead. All things that we see living now eventually have the spark of Brahman leave them. That event is known as death, and when the same spark enters into a collection of matter the event is known as birth. Birth and death continue in cycles, and the spark of Brahman persists.

Let’s say that I am fortunate enough to know Brahman. Despite every chance to remain in ignorance, I was able to learn the difference between matter and spirit. This doesn’t necessarily put me any further ahead than someone who only knows of a higher being. One individual understands that God exists and another knows that spirit is what identifies the individual.

Yet where is God in the equation? How are we to know Him? It seems everyone has their own idea. One person is dedicated to helping the poor. They speculate that God exists within the poor person. Or they’ll say that they know they are pleasing the Lord through their work. Another person is intent on earning a lot of money to take care of their family. From the love and support of family members, they get an idea of what God must be like.

Any person can speculate, which means that in a discussion you can’t establish authority. If I’m sitting in a dark room with other people, none of us knows for sure what is in the room. Each person has their chance to guess, but without light there is no means of validation. Without validation, no authority can be established.

Rather than try to know God through speculation, why not know Him from His own words? These are available in abundance in the Bhagavad-gita, which is contained in the larger work known as the Mahabharata. Often called the fifth Veda, the Mahabharata is an important branch of knowledge that presents its teachings through dialogues and conversations that are also part of a historical narrative. Thus even a person who is not interested in philosophy can have their knowledge expand vastly simply through hearing.

How do we know God from the Bhagavad-gita? The speaker tells us that we can know Him. The conversation is between Krishna and Arjuna. Arjuna is the leading fighter for the Pandava family, set to go to war with their rival cousins to defend dharma, or virtue. Krishna is Arjuna’s chariot driver and best friend. From the conversation between them we come to learn that Krishna is also the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Bhagavan.

vistareṇātmano yogaṁ

vibhūtiṁ ca janārdana

bhūyaḥ kathaya tṛptir hi

śṛṇvato nāsti me 'mṛtam

“Tell me again in detail, O Janardana [Krishna], of Your mighty potencies and glories, for I never tire of hearing Your ambrosial words.” (Arjuna, Bhagavad-gita, 10.18)

Krishna first explains the science of self-realization. Four important topics are covered: the material nature, the living entity, karma and time. The fifth topic deals with Krishna Himself, the supreme controller. Therefore Arjuna’s acceptance is not based on blind faith. The humble disciple is encouraged to use all their intelligence to deliberate on the teachings presented to them.

[Lord Krishna]We can know God from the Bhagavad-gita because the work is spoken by God. There is no need to doubt. The process for removing doubt is explained as well. Simply have a mind attached to Krishna and hear from Him. The process is laid out, and the person who presents the Bhagavad-gita in the right way will be able to remove the doubts of their listeners. The cheater will never know Krishna, even after reading His words, but the devotee knows the Lord in full. They know Him because they have both heard and listened to what He has said.

In Closing:

Though of a religious bent,

Much time in speculation spent.


Not so much helpful to me,

Since still the Divine not to see.


From Bhagavad-gita get understanding clear,

Required only that with attachment to hear.


Then for doubt no more room,

To be with Shri Krishna again soon.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Five Ways That God Helps The Sincere Yogi

[Narasimhadeva]“He incarnates in different forms such as Rama, Narasimha, Varaha and Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and He descends like a human being, as the son of Mother Yashoda, and He is known as Krishna, Govinda and Vasudeva. He is the perfect child, husband, friend and master, and He is full with all opulences and transcendental qualities. If one remains fully conscious of these features of the Lord, he is called the highest yogi.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 6.47 Purport)

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In this age in particular, practicing yoga is not easy. After a long day at the office, the couch is inviting. The bed even more so. Who wants to assume more responsibility after so many have been met during the day? Who wants another appointment after the difficult journey through traffic in the morning to get to work on time?

[yoga class]Yoga is beneficial for sure. For starters, the people who practice it seem to be pretty thin. They look like they are in shape. There is the exercise benefit in the way it is practiced today, but in fact yoga is meant for a spiritual benefit. Not simply to keep the body healthy so that sobriety reigns supreme, there are two souls within each living being that should unite. Both are there, with one being superior and the other inferior. The inferior one doesn’t know about the existence of the superior; hence the need to practice yoga.

The superior soul is an expansion of God. In Sanskrit it is described as paramatma, which means “supreme soul.” The other soul is the individual, jivatma. We are jivatma and God is Paramatma. Yoga is the linking of jivatma with Paramatma. That which is not jivatma is the material nature. We equate nature with trees, hills, mountains, clouds and rivers, but in fact our body is also part of nature. Anything that is not spirit is matter, which in Sanskrit is known as maya. Another definition for maya is “illusion.” Due to illusion we don’t know that we are soul. And if we don’t know this fundamental truth, we certainly don’t know about Paramatma. Nevertheless, the Supreme Lord is so kind to the fallen souls that He offers ways to help them in their yoga advancement. This is provided they are sincere and not merely looking for a health benefit.

1. He descends as Rama.

God is unlimited. He is a singular personality who can expand into many. These expansions can be just like Him, fully invested with His unlimited potency. One time God descended to earth in a seemingly human form named Rama. That Rama’s life is chronicled in the Ramayana of Valmiki and in the many Puranas, or ancient histories, of the Vedas. As a warrior prince, Rama did many amazing things while on earth. Any one of those things can be contemplated by the yogi. They could spend their entire life studying and appreciating Rama, as did notable saints like Goswami Tulsidas.

2. He descends as Narasimha.

[Narasimhadeva]The literal meaning to the word avatara is “one who descends.” This is important to know because it says that God does not accept a material body. He is not like us in going through the cycle of birth and death. He appears and disappears, manipulating the material elements to exhibit different forms and pastimes for our benefit. One time He came as a half-man/half-lion to protect a helpless five-year old child. This child, named Prahlada, was being persecuted by his father simply for practicing devotion to God. The yogi can contemplate the features belonging to this wonderful form of God, singing songs that glorify such.

3. He descends as Varaha.

Feeling the burden of material life? The weight of responsibility bringing you down? Feel like you’ll never be able to succeed in yoga? There is the avatara of Varaha to remember. God took the form of a boar. He held up the earth after it had fallen into the water. This history is meant to be understood literally, as we know right now that the earth is floating in space. There is no such thing as something happening automatically or by accident. The laws of material nature were created by God, so He can certainly hold up the earth in the form of a boar if He so chooses. There is also symbolic significance, as Varaha takes the responsibility of seeing to the success of the devotee’s yoga practice.

4. He descends as Krishna.

The original form of God, known as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, has two hands, wears a peacock feather in His hair, has a flower garland around His neck, and plays a flute. He is constantly enjoying with dear associates in the sacred land of Vrindavana. Starting from His toes and going all the way up to the head, the yogi has the perfect object of meditation in Krishna. They derive tremendous enjoyment in the process. Meditation on Krishna the person is the superior form of yoga.

5. He says that the best yogi is one who always thinks of Him.

We know that meditation on Krishna is superior due to the gift to humanity that is the Bhagavad-gita. In that famous work Krishna talks about yoga, material nature, karma, reincarnation and other important topics. He describes meditational yoga, how it should be practiced, and what happens if there is failure. He says that the yogi is superior to the ascetic, the mental speculator and the fruitive worker. And of all the mystics, the one who thinks of Him is the best.

yoginām api sarveṣāṁ


śraddhāvān bhajate yo māṁ

sa me yuktatamo mataḥ

“And of all yogis, he who always abides in Me with great faith, worshiping Me in transcendental loving service, is most intimately united with Me in yoga and is the highest of all.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 6.47)

[Lord Krishna]Krishna offers these words to rescue the yogi, and He sustains their practice through His many transcendental pastimes. There is endless variety and nuance to each of the above mentioned ways in which Krishna helps the yogi. Thus there is no reason to fear taking the path of yoga in devotion, which is known as bhakti.

In Closing:

From helpful ways made clear,

That in bhakti no reason to fear.


As Narasimha for Prahlada coming,

As Varaha earth’s sustainer becoming.


As Krishna sweetness of God demonstrating,

Ideal object for yogis’ contemplating.


Meditation difficult in this age,

By Krishna’s mercy easier made.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Speeches From The Couch

[Bhagavad-gita, As It Is]“And I declare that he who studies this sacred conversation worships Me by his intelligence.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 18.70)

adhyeṣyate ca ya imaṁ

dharmyaṁ saṁvādam āvayoḥ

jñāna-yajñena tenāham

iṣṭaḥ syām iti me matiḥ

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Man is gifted with advanced intelligence. He can’t fly through the air; not without a machine anyway. He can’t run very fast; especially in comparison to some animals. His eyes can’t penetrate the darkness of night. He can’t survive arctic temperatures on his own. He can’t live in the water and he can’t see something from miles and miles away. Other species can do such things, but they lack the intelligence that man has.

What should this intelligence be used for? Should man try to imitate the abilities of the animal? Should they even ponder why they have this intelligence? A great way to decipher how something is to be used is to first eliminate things; use negation. Look at various ways that intelligence is improperly used now and then work your way towards the right answer.

In times past, if you were a person of prominence, you could get your message out quickly by issuing a press release. Make a statement and then have the people that cover the news redistribute your statement to their readers. This way you don’t have to travel very far. Let others do the work for you.

[twitter]In more recent times, there is the tweet. You can be sitting on your couch watching a football game and share with the whole world whatever is on your mind. You don’t have to say much. Just tell people what you are eating. Let them know what you think of a particular player. Explain your mood at the time.

In addition to reaching all of your followers, the message is again picked up by those who cover the news. Based on what you write, these writers can craft entire stories. The practice is something like lecturing off an emotion. You’re walking down the street and you feel thirsty. You tell your friend about it. Then a bystander, who overhears what you say, decides to write a story about it. They speculate about what your thirst means. “Where could it be coming from? Is it a sign of a greater problem? Who was the person to whom you shared your emotion initially?”

Under a sober analysis, one would have to conclude that lecturing off a one-time emotional response is not a very wise use of intelligence. The material world is miserable and temporary. Happiness is elusive, though it is coveted. If you get something that you want, you worry about keeping it. If you win something, you don’t get to enjoy the victory for too long. The world is temporary because we know that after birth there must be death. Everything will end at death; we just don’t know when exactly the end will come.

Instead of using the tweet as the basis for a lecture, one can use any of the verses in the Bhagavad-gita, all of which are profound. Indeed, this is the course taken by the wise. They don’t need to rely on the temporary conditions of the manifest world to find something to say. The Supreme Lord speaks this ancient work, and so even by saying a few words He says so much.

[Krishna speaking to Arjuna]In the Bhagavad-gita, Krishna speaks of truths that apply to all aspects of life, from all time periods. He says that the yogi, who is trying to unite with the Supreme Lord, neither sleeps too little nor sleeps too much. The yogi also doesn’t eat too much or eat too little. This formula for moderation is applicable to every single person, regardless of their circumstance. It is the simplest way to explain how to regulate life, to keep body and soul together.

For the scientifically minded, Krishna explains sankhya, which translates to “metaphysics.” There are various elements that make up the different aspects of nature. The way those elements react is what allows us to predict how things will play out going forward. For instance, we know that an infant will likely grow to be a lot taller. This is through the work of the elements of nature.

A person can lecture off of the concluding statements of the Bhagavad-gita, where Krishna advises Arjuna to surrender to Him, to be delivered from all sinful reaction as a result. What is this surrender? If this promise is there, why isn’t everyone taking advantage? Why are they surrendering to the material nature instead? Why are they focused on temporary emotions produced by fallible beings?

[Prabhupada lecturing]These questions and more can be answered by a thorough study of Krishna’s teachings, which are presented for the proper understanding of the time and circumstance by the acharya, who can lecture on a single word from scripture at any time and place. He facilitates the worship of Krishna through intelligence, which is the best use of the valuable gift given to the human species.

In Closing:

After latest tweet getting sight,

News person entire story can write.


Like lecturing off emotion from couch to rest,

Of advanced human intelligence not use the best.


Single verse from Bhagavad-gita just take,

And discussion for the rest of your life make.


Acharya for the time and circumstance explaining,

Method of worship of Supreme fortunate gaining.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Finding The Devotees

[Bhagavad-gita, As It Is]“For one who explains the supreme secret to the devotees, devotional service is guaranteed, and at the end he will come back to Me.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 18.68)

ya idaṁ paramaṁ guhyaṁ

mad-bhakteṣv abhidhāsyati

bhaktiṁ mayi parāṁ kṛtvā

mām evaiṣyaty asaṁśayaḥ

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The foundation of friendship is equality; both sides relate on the same level. The relationship is formed off a shared interest. If you’re playing for the same hockey team, it’s natural to become friends off the ice. If you work for the same company, you immediately share a common interest. The same goes for if you’re studying at the same school.

For analysis purposes let’s take a hypothetical conversation that follows the teacher-student paradigm. For a brief moment, you are no longer equals. You are giving instruction and your friend is listening. This is because they acknowledge your expertise in the particular area of importance. After the fact, you both realize that the dialogue was so meaningful that it should be recorded. It should be put down to paper in order to be consulted later on, sometime in the future.

Let’s say that someone happens to pick up the recorded version of your conversation. They read it and have absolutely no idea what you guys are talking about. Therefore they can only speculate. They’re not even sure it’s a conversation that actually occurred. Is it real or is it fake? They can’t tell. The questions and answers are so profound that they’re leaning more towards the side of fiction. “This must be the creation of a writer,” they think to themselves.

[Krishna speaking to Arjuna]In this case the speculation won’t be helpful. The conversation had a particular tone, and it wasn’t meant to be heard by everyone. The same principle applies to the Bhagavad-gita, which is likely the most famous conversation of all-time. It took place on the battlefield of Kurukshetra some five thousand years ago, and it dealt with the most important subject matter: life and death.

This wasn’t about prolonging life or even preventing death. It wasn’t a conversation revealing the secret to preventing disease through some exercise routine. It wasn’t about merely avoiding class distinctions and being nice to people. No, the Bhagavad-gita is about how to understand the reason for birth and death, and how to live life properly, wherever that life may be found. The fundamental truth contained in the work is the identity of the individual, who is spirit soul.

na jāyate mriyate vā kadācin

nāyaṁ bhūtvā bhavitā vā na bhūyaḥ

ajo nityaḥ śāśvato 'yaṁ purāṇo

na hanyate hanyamāne śarīre

“For the soul there is never birth nor death. Nor, having once been, does he ever cease to be. He is unborn, eternal, ever-existing, undying and primeval. He is not slain when the body is slain.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.20)

Knowledge of the soul is the starting point. Then comes information on karma, the material nature, and time. There is clarification on a highly misunderstood topic: the supreme controller. One who knows this controller in truth automatically knows the other topics. They have found the way to live through any situation.

[Lord Krishna]That supreme controller is none other than the speaker of the Gita, the teacher. He is Shri Krishna, who is also known as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Bhagavan. Krishna delivered these words to the warrior Arjuna on the battlefield, and it was recorded in book form by Vyasadeva in the Mahabharata. The work was intended for a specific audience, who had an underlying culture of respect for the Supreme Lord and the laws He institutes for the proper governance of man.

At the end of the discussion, Shri Krishna says that one who explains the work to the devoted souls is very dear to Him. The explanation must be proper. An armchair speculation will not suffice. If the intended recipients should be devotees, then we can properly infer that the person explaining must be devoted as well. Monists, atheists, and those envious of Krishna do not qualify under this promise.

The issue may be raised of how to find devotees? If everyone around us is overtaken by the illusory material energy known as maya, how can the Bhagavad-gita be properly explained? There is no reason for concern on this issue, as in this age of Kali the Supreme Lord Himself has provided the way to find devotees. The method is the sankirtana-yajna, instituted by Shri Krishna Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.

Chant the holy names of God in congregation, so that as many people as possible can hear. Through the sound of Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare, those who are receptive to the message of Divine Love can be found. Then to them explain the wonderful secret that was given to Arjuna.

[Chaitanya in sankirtana]Chaitanya Mahaprabhu set the example, and those coming after Him in His spiritual line honor His example. They find the devotees and then explain the Bhagavad-gita to them. The philosophical discussion is not fit for the envious. For such souls it is better not to even hear the Bhagavad-gita, as the wrong conclusion will be reached. They will think that Krishna is not God or that He never existed in the first place. As the very foundation of the work is rejected by them, how can they derive any benefit?

The open-minded get the proper explanation from the acharya, who has the aforementioned, required culture. The acharya is a representative of Vyasadeva, who put the dialogue down into written form for a specific purpose. That purpose is fulfilled by those who are devoted to Krishna in the same way that Arjuna was. Both remain forever dear to the Supreme Lord.

In Closing:

Giving explanation true and clear,

To Shri Krishna to become most dear.


But only when to the devoted explaining,

Not to atheists who interest feigning.


Bearing this truth in mind,

How the devoted souls to find?


Lord Chaitanya the way for all showing,

Sankirtana for proper recipients knowing.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

I Don’t Mind

[Rama's lotus feet]“People say that Tulsidas is a treasure of bad qualities. But I know that I have one good quality - full faith in you, Shri Rama. This alone should ensure that you are satisfied with me.” (Dohavali, 85)

hai tulasī keṁ eka guna avaguna nidhi kahaiṁ loga |
bhalp bharoso rāvaro rāma rījhibe joga ||85||

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A person you know to be good and decent decides to place their hat in the ring, the sweepstakes known as the race to be the next President of the United States. You’ve known this person all your life and you think quite highly of them. They run many businesses, and in addition to being very successful, the people who work for him tend to like him. Besides his competitors in the field of industry, no one has a bad word to say about him.

Therefore it comes as a surprise to you when there is national uproar over this person’s speech announcing his candidacy. Like a typical politician, your friend criticized the policies of the existing government. The speech was candid; something rarely seen in politics. Yet opponents are harping on one or two statements, taking them out of context. They are using these statements to brandish the title of “racist” on your friend.

[politics]You can’t believe it, since he was never known to be prejudiced, either for or against any race or ethnicity. Yet now your friend is scrambling. He is forced to apologize for his statement, though in your eyes he said nothing wrong. Indeed, by giving in this way, other politicians will be dissuaded from speaking boldly. Instead, they will focus group their stances on the issues. They will rely on advisors for what to say and how to say it.

The above scenario is part of life in a democracy. Though there is the implied freedom to choose the style of government, there is also restriction due to the scrutiny of the public. Goswami Tulsidas shows how one can be totally free of concern in this area. Indeed, real liberation would have to involve not caring what people think about you. It can only come through putting faith in one person. His opinion is what counts most, and He gives a positive opinion when the individual takes up service.

Tulsidas says that he has full faith, bharosa, in Shri Rama, who is God. The first part of the poet’s couplet describes the nature of that faith. If I say that I’m putting all my trust in you, but then I remain skeptical in the background, I’m not being genuine. The faith isn’t real. To have full faith in someone is to not be affected by what others say.

The world may think that Tulsidas is crazy. They may say that he is a treasure of bad qualities. After all, the easiest way to get along is to go along. If everyone else is drinking, you should have a beer or two. If everyone is feverishly pursuing money, power and women, then you should do the same. Otherwise, what will you talk about with them? How will you have any friends unless you sit down at the bar? Your social life will vanish if you choose a different course in life.

What other course is there? Consider the sannyasi. They are like a homeless wanderer by choice. They are certainly intelligent enough to earn a living, to accumulate objects and try to suck as much enjoyment as they can out of them. Sannyasa is accepted voluntarily. We can think of it like renunciation for advancement of the consciousness. Sannyasa means that you have no family life. You don’t stay in one area for too long, and you live off the mercy of others.

Why would someone do this? More importantly, how could someone do this? The reason is Rama. He is more than just God as a concept. He is the Supreme Lord in person, with transcendental features full of sweetness. It is the natural law that the only way to give up attachment to something is to find something else more fulfilling. In bhakti-yoga circles this concept is known as a higher taste. The taste of devotion is called bhakti-rasa.

[Lord Rama]That taste becomes sweetest when there is full faith in the Supreme Lord. Then the individual becomes so confident that it doesn’t matter what anyone says about them. They know that this one quality is enough to defeat all bad qualities. It stands alone; it is supreme. Rama rewards this one quality. His pastimes described in the Ramayana validate this.

In Closing:

By public opinion easy to be swayed,

Cautious words when speaking afraid.


How to the higher platform to come,

Where concern for others opinion none?


Only when full faith and trust extending,

Real devotion to Rama, not just pretending.


Confidence too strong then to break,

Shelter from Rama’s bow and arrows to take.