Saturday, September 19, 2015

Defining Bhakti

[Lord Rama]“According to the minds of the saints the tradition of bhakti is to love Rama, while following the proper conduct and conquering over attachment and anger, says Tulsi.” (Dohavali, 86)

prīti rāma soṁ nīti patha caliya rāga risa jīti |
tulasī santana ke mate ihai bhagati kī rīti ||86||

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Due to the popularity of kirtana, or the congregational chanting of the holy names, the influence of bhakti-yoga has increased across the world. It is no longer a secret known only to the rishis residing in remote caves. It is not the sole property of a religious sect. Since it has gained in popularity, it is natural for the originally pure process to get diluted, with the true meaning getting scrambled by those with ulterior motives. Here Goswami Tulsidas provides some much needed clarity, using the saints as his authority.

Bhakti is love and devotion and yoga is union with the Divine. You can call it a religion, but bhakti-yoga is much more than a faith. I can sign up to be a member of a particular church and go through an official conversion ceremony, but this alone doesn’t mean that anything has changed. I can still be the worst person in the world, who lies, cheats and steals to get ahead. When pressed, I can resort to the excuse that the acknowledged savior “died for my sins,” so it doesn’t really matter what I do.

In a similar way, a person who does all sorts of unauthorized things can say that they are practicing bhakti-yoga. As an example, they may run around with many women and then claim that they are only following what the Supreme Lord did when He roamed this earth in His original form of Krishna. “After all, what’s good for the goose should be good for the gander.” They fail to mention that they are only selectively choosing things to imitate. The famous Lord Shiva drank poison, so in the name of bhakti why don’t others follow suit? Shri Krishna also lifted the massive Govardhana Hill and used it as an umbrella to save innocent people. Why can’t that be imitated?

[Lord Shiva drinking poison]Tulsidas defines the riti, or tradition, of bhakti. He uses the saints as his authority. This is the proper etiquette. However elevated a person may be in understanding, it should be acknowledged that at the starting point they knew nothing. Someone had to teach them everything. The wise person always remembers this, even after they have advanced well beyond the starting point.

Tulsidas is himself an authority on devotion, but he still gives deference to those who came before him. Those people are of the highest character. They possess all the qualities we consider to be good. They are kind. They are gentle. They are tolerant. They don’t have attachments to possessions. They don’t spend their life chasing after money, women, or prestige.

These authority figures say that the proper way to practice bhakti is to have love for Rama. This is a must. If you don’t love God, then your chanting will have little effect. If you put on a concert and even sing the maha-mantra, you won’t be able to get the full benefit. The people who hear the holy names coming from your lips will also miss out on the true potency that exists in the sound of the holy name. The effect is likened to what happens to poison after a snake touches it.

[Lord Rama]Rama is God the person. He is the Supreme Person. If you love only an abstract, your bhakti is incomplete. In addition to loving Rama, you should follow the proper conduct, or niti. This is pretty obvious, but it needs mentioning for those who are prone to cheating. As an example, you can’t say you are practicing bhakti and then go on a killing spree. You can’t lie to increase your personal comforts and say that you are firmly situated in devotion.

Tulsidas says that the proper way to practice bhakti involves victory over attachment and anger. We should understand that both of these relate to the temporary. The word “raga” is used by the same author when describing bhakti. This means that victory over attachment does not mean to eliminate attachment altogether. Love naturally involves attachment. Therefore if you love Rama, you will be attached to Him.

[Hanuman burning Lanka]Anger, too, can be used in His service. The famous example is Shri Hanuman. Enraged at the offenses committed against Rama and His wife Sita by the evil Ravana, Hanuman set fire to the city of Lanka. This did not violate the rules of bhakti. It was an act of love. Hanuman is loved and adored for his pure devotion to Sita and Rama. He is the ultimate authority figure on the tradition of bhakti.

In Closing:

Authority of bhakti saints realize,

Above anger and attachment to rise.


Love for Supreme at same time keep,

Think of Hanuman and to Lanka his leap.


Otherwise practice with contaminations to find,

Chanting holy names with something else in mind.


Proper conduct always maintain,

And true boon of devotion gain.

Friday, September 18, 2015

The Whole World Thinking You’re Crazy

[Rama with Vibhishana]“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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Repeating a mantra over and over again under your breath: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. Bowing down in front of a small statue, bringing flowers before it, having tears touch your cheeks after gazing upon it for hours. Living a simple life, without many possessions. Abstaining from meat eating, gambling, intoxication, and illicit sex. Reciting Sanskrit verses from memory and speaking only of the glories of someone who roamed this earth thousands of years ago.

To the uninitiated, all this seems crazy.

Why would anyone do this? Have they lost their mind? They must be lost in this world, without a purpose. Otherwise they would choose the traditional path of school, work, marriage, family, and retirement. In between they would seek the traditional, safe outlets for fun and enjoyment, like vacation, alcohol, fancy cars, night clubs, and recreational activities. To give up everything on a hope and a prayer seems silly. After all, there is no guarantee that everything will end up okay with faith in a higher being, a person whose identity cannot be validated by sight.

[Lord Rama]Yet Goswami Tulsidas still has full confidence. Even if the entire world says bad things about him, he will not budge. He knows that he has at least one good quality. He has full faith in Shri Rama, the Supreme Lord. Tulsidas is not hoping that Rama is God. He is not praying for a better future or to be absolved of sin. He is not expecting things to dramatically change from his present condition. He knows that Rama takes care of His devotee, turning all three time periods auspicious.

From where does the poet’s confidence come? The taste of devotion, bhakti-rasa, gives the proof. Sight is not a requirement in self-realization. After all, we mistake a rope for a snake. During childhood there is a pile of toys in one room, a result of losing interest in each toy a short time after getting it. In adulthood the practice is the same, though the toys are a lot bigger and more expensive. Every person is chasing after that higher taste, but only in devotion to God the person is it found.

Tulsidas also gets confidence from history. As documented in the Ramayana, there was once a famous king who ruled over Lanka. He was feared throughout the world. Though there weren’t gasoline powered automobiles in his land, no enjoyment was lacking. The buildings were made of gold. There were many queens living in the royal palace. There was a plethora of animal flesh available to eat and wine to drink.

The king had family around as well, which included brothers. Who wouldn’t be happy living in such luxury? One brother was not affected either way. His name was Vibhishana, and he had good qualities from the time of his birth. He didn’t like the path his elder brother Ravana was on. Though Ravana was the king and thus to be respected, Vibhishana was still compassionate towards him. Vibhishana wanted his brother to also follow the righteous path.

Eventually Vibhishana reached a breaking point. He could not tolerate the offenses Ravana had committed against the princess of Videha and the protector of Koshala. Vibhishana made his complaints be known, in a respectful way. Everyone thought he was crazy. Ravana called him a traitor. Vibhishana had done nothing wrong, but in comparison to his peers he was quite different. He was an oddball. Next, he did the only thing he knew to be sane.

[Vibhishana approaching Rama]He took shelter of the same Rama worshiped by Tulsidas. Vibhishana had full faith in Rama, who was ready to attack Ravana to get back His wife, Sita Devi. Based on external vision, Rama looked like the weaker party. Ravana had stolen Sita through a ruse created in the forest. Why was Rama living in the forest? Didn’t that mean He was poor? Just as the devotee gets protection in all time periods and all situations, so the Supreme Lord is the most powerful person regardless of where He sets His lotus feet.

The trust in Rama would pay off. Not that Vibhishana wanted anything bad to happen to his family members. He just knew the right course of action. The rest took care of itself. Ravana and his men would be vanquished in battle, and Vibhishana would become the new king. The one person who actually wasn’t crazy ended up witnessing the consequences to the genuine craziness of his peers, his countrymen, and especially his elder brother.

In Closing:

Though to Ravana younger brother oddball,

Lanka’s king actually craziest of them all.


Though regular sense gratification coming,

More implicated in sinful life becoming.


Vibhishana watching brother’s fortunes sink,

Left for Rama, not caring what others to think.


From that example full confidence take,

Worship Lord and from slumber awake.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Talking About Not Using The Word Hinduism

[Om symbol]“As we have explained several times, however, we find no such word as ‘Hindu’ in the Vedic literature. The word most probably came from Afghanistan, a predominantly Muslim country, and originally referred to a pass in Afghanistan known as Hindukush that is still a part of a trade route between India and various Muslim countries.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Chaitanya Charitamrita, Adi 12.73 Purport)

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Friend1: Let me ask you something. Do you call yourself a Hindu?

Friend2: No. Do you call yourself a moron?

Friend1: Hey! Watch the language.

Friend2: You know what I mean, though. Why would you ask such a silly question?

Friend1: Because I’m setting the table for a deeper discussion. You know how this works.

Friend2: So what do you really want to know?

Friend1: Okay, so I know that what we call Hinduism today is actually rooted in the Vedic tradition. Hindu is a word applied by foreigners, right?

Friend2: Exactly. You won’t find that word in Vedic literature, which is so old that no one can accurately date it. It comes from the being who is without a beginning, after all, so there is no way to say that it was authored at some point in time.

Friend1: But even if someone else started it, the word Hindu is still a way to classify people based on the way they live. It means something as far as habits in worship, beliefs, and culture.

Friend2: As a culture - maybe you have something there. Still, an intelligent person would have trouble using that word as a form of identification.

[Prabhupada]Friend1: Alright, so that is what I wanted to get to. I know that His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada would rarely refer to his teachings as Hindu. He made it a point to describe how Hinduism is really varnashrama-dharma.

Friend2: Yeah.

Friend1: While I always considered that to be an enlightened approach, there are those who criticize him for that. They say that the swami was embarrassed to be associated with India and its culture.

Friend2: Well, that’s just silly. If he was embarrassed, why would he dedicate his whole life to creating genuine Vedic culture around the world? The people criticizing happily apply a sectarian designation to themselves, without understanding the universal applicability of the science of spirit.

Friend1: But why be so afraid of the word? What’s the harm in calling yourself Hindu?

Friend2: The decision is based on intelligence. Calling yourself Hindu is something like saying you believe in gravity. If someone asked you about that, would you give in?

Friend1: If they asked if I believe in gravity? No, it would be ridiculous. Gravity is not something to be believed in. It’s factual. It exists.

Friend2: Exactly. The same goes for the science of self-realization. Aham brahmasmi is the Vedic aphorism that means “I am spirit.” There is no faith involved in this. You don’t go around saying “I’m a Spiritarian.“

Friend1: Making up new words, are we?

Friend2: The truly enlightened soul does not see designations. The closest thing to Hinduism is varnashrama-dharma, which is the system of four occupational divisions and four spiritual institutions. Again, this is a system, not a form of identification. The system is for the entire human race, not just the people of India. You can’t say that an intelligent class is only needed in a certain part of the world. Student life is for every child.

Friend1: I see. But what’s wrong in using the word? Why be afraid to call yourself “Hindu”?

Friend2: Listen, it would be very easy to accept. People will praise you for your culture, how it protects animals, how you don’t limit yourself to worship of a single manifestation of God, how you value marriage and family. But accepting the premise is a trap. This is because the culture is there for everyone. There is no reason to divide people. If Krishna is truly the Supreme Personality of Godhead, then He is for everyone. We know this from His pastimes on earth. He never associated with only one group of people. He gave mercy to so many people, from many different backgrounds.

[Krishna with cow]Friend1: So what would be the proper way to identify yourself? Is it Vaishnava?

Friend2: That would work, but again, you don’t want to fall into the trap of accepting the premise of faith. Vedic culture is not a faith. If it’s a faith, then you can accept or reject it at any time. It’s actually a science, like the law of gravity mentioned before. It’s always operating. If you choose to ignore it, it’s at your own risk. In answering the question of identification, the person who follows Vedic culture could say that they are aware of the presence of the soul. They know that there is an origin to all spirit and matter. They have accepted the path that is open to every person: devotional service. They are working their way towards transcendence, out of the ignorance of maya. They are trying to realize their identity as spirit soul, part and parcel of God. They are trying to rid themselves of desire for material gain, renunciation, knowledge, and mystic perfection.

Friend1: That’s a pretty long definition. Isn’t there a shorter way to identify yourself?

Friend2: Vaishnava works because it means that you worship the personal God. You’re not foolish enough to think that the Supreme Lord is without form. Vaishnava identifies the instruction you accept, to which lineage it belongs. Vaishnava is pretty specific, but again the wise souls never take their identity from any word or “ism.” They worship God the person because they know Him. They know that everyone can and should follow the same worship. Even if a person doesn’t accept His personal form as the all-attractive Krishna, they can meditate on the Supersoul within the heart. If that is too difficult, they can contemplate the impersonal Brahman. Whatever way they know Him, they can worship and at least get some benefit. This is why the chanting of the holy names is so emphatically stressed. It unites all the different factions. It has no prejudice to the level of understanding.

In Closing:

Wise away from term to choose,

Not frequently Hindu word to use.


Premise of less intelligent not to accept,

Equating of dharma to faith to reject.


Science just like with gravity knowing,

Vedas true identity of all creatures showing.


If pressed towards Vaishnava word leaning,

Since worship of personal God the meaning.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Five Reasons To Follow Parampara

[disciplic succession]“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, Bhagavad-gita, 4.34)

tad viddhi praṇipātena

paripraśnena sevayā

upadekṣyanti te jñānaṁ

jñāninas tattva-darśinaḥ

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Does God exist? If so, where is He? How do we see Him? Why does He put us through so much torture on this earth? Why doesn’t He just show Himself to mankind and then explain the meaning of chaos? Why the secrecy? Or is it up to us to figure out for ourselves? Is He merely a concept, like a sentiment that we need to possess? Is He represented through love only?

In the Vedic tradition, the answers to these questions come through something called parampara. In general conversation, this word refers to tradition, such as following things that your ancestors did. With respect to understanding the highest truths of life, parampara is disciplic succession. Basically, you tap into a chain of teachers in order to learn. You don’t figure out everything for yourself. Not that you throw away logic and common sense, but there are things beyond the scope of the mind’s abilities.

You accept the truth about the higher being and then apply yourself to realize those truths. You practice under the guidance of an authority known as the spiritual master, or guru. The enlightened person has seen the truth themselves, so they can deliver the disciple. Only in this way can the Absolute Truth be realized. Upon careful analysis, we see that there are many reasons for following parampara.

1. Man has four defects.

There is the tendency to cheat. The public gets upset when a famous athlete is caught taking banned substances or bending the rules behind the watchful eye of the officiating staff. Yet the games themselves involve cheating. If the players were honest, they would reveal their strategy, which would then hurt their chances of winning.

[Arod]Man also has imperfect senses, commits mistakes, and is easily illusioned. Because of these four defects, he cannot reach the conclusion of conclusions on his own. “Vedanta” is the word that describes the philosophy that is the final word on all subject matters. Vedanta describes the Absolute Truth, and since man has these defects the only way to reach Vedanta is to first find a teacher who knows it.

2. Any person can make up anything.

The foundation of parampara is authority. You accept a guru who had their own guru at some point. It’s called a succession for a reason. Any person can say anything. I can go up to you and tell you that I am God. You can tell me that there is no God. How do we reconcile? We quite frequently come upon this issue in our daily lives, and the way we settle is through authority. We establish authority based on credentials, and parampara is the system giving the highest credentials.

3. It’s a tested path, based on experience.

The daily news stories talk about new discoveries in science and health. Something we have never heard before - that’s what they have found. Yet the very nature of progress points to defects. You can only progress from something if the starting point is flawed. This means none of the recommendations are perfect.

Parampara is already tested. There is the life of the spiritual master, supported by the lives of the previous masters. This means that the hard work is already done for us. We don’t need to test to see if the Supreme Lord is a person, full of transcendental attributes. We don’t need to make a test of association with the material energy. The guru already knows that the material is temporary and miserable. They’ve seen the light of the Supreme Lord through practicing bhakti. They know that anyone who follows the same path will get the same result.

4. Shri Krishna recommends it.

[Lord Krishna]The divine personality who lifted the massive Govardhana Hill with His tiny pinky finger in order to save innocent residents of a farm community says that we should approach a spiritual master in the disciplic succession. He acted as the guru to the bow warrior Arjuna in the famous conversation that turned into the Bhagavad-gita. He did not advise Arjuna to figure out God on his own. He did not tell the disciple that through meditation he would become God at some point in the future. He did not give Arjuna a magical touch that brought him enlightenment. Instead, Krishna explained the highest truths of the Vedas, even quoting authority Himself. He then left the matter up to Arjuna to deliberate.

iti te jñānam ākhyātaṁ

guhyād guhyataraṁ mayā

vimṛśyaitad aśeṣeṇa

yathecchasi tathā kuru

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

5. Shri Krishna is at the root of it.

Parampara’s potency comes from its root. The bona fide chain of succession starts with God. You could have a great thief who then passes on his wisdom about stealing to another thief. That chain could continue, and a person tapping into the teachings could quickly learn how to steal effectively. In this way the nature of the succession is determined by the person who starts it.

With respect to spirituality, the bona fide parampara system is rooted in God, who is a person. Any other system would be rooted in a being who is fallible, suffering from the four defects mentioned above. Another name for Krishna is Achyuta, which means one who never falls down. In the Bhagavad-gita, He even explains how He started the parampara system by speaking to the sun-god at the beginning of time.

śrī-bhagavān uvāca

imaṁ vivasvate yogaṁ

proktavān aham avyayam

vivasvān manave prāha

manur ikṣvākave 'bravīt

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

[Krishna starting the disciplic succession]The Padma Purana says that in this present age of Kali there are four bona fide sampradayas, or specific traditions of discplic succession. They each have a founding spiritual master who is devoted to Shri Krishna. The sampradayas come from Lord Shiva, the four Kumaras, Lakshmi Devi and Lord Brahma. The potency of these chains is due to Shri Krishna, so one who taps into the lineage connects with the all-attractive one. They learn the amazing truth that the name of the Lord is identical to Him. Upon the advice of their guru, they wholeheartedly accept the chanting of the holy names as their way of life, as their way of staying connected to the Supreme Lord: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

In Closing:

Since with defects is the mind,

Bewilderment of true nature to find.


Into disciplic succession must tap,

To avoid maya’s perpetual trap.


From teachers many tested already,

So with confidence on path remain steady.


In Kali’s age sampradayas coming four,

Lotus feet of Lord each to adore.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Five Ways To Know That What The Vedas Describe Is Not Mythology

[Hanuman flying towards the sun]“Then, after seeing the newly risen sun in the great forest when you were a boy, taking it to be fruit and wanting to catch it, you jumped up and flew towards the sky.” (Jambavan speaking to Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Kishkindha Kand, 66.21)

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Talking monkeys, the earth addressed as a devi, God who is blue, the creator with four heads, a half-man/half-lion, an animal flying over a vast ocean, a vision showing the entire universe - these amazing things are described in Vedic literature. In fact, more amazing things are discovered the more one continues to hear these original works of knowledge. Passed down first through an oral tradition, the Vedas are known as the shrutis, or that which is heard.

Should that which we are hearing be taken literally or symbolically? The latter seems like the wiser choice. From our erudition, it seems logical for someone to make things up as a means of conveying a message. Obviously there never was a race between a tortoise and a rabbit. There was no Goldilocks who visited a bear. Perhaps the Vedas are the same way; that is they teach lessons through story, making use of allegory, metaphor and simile.

One would be surprised to learn that the information is meant to be taken literally. And one can’t accept the teachings of the personality without believing in the existence of that personality. The Bhagavad-gita contains the highest wisdom known to man, and it is spoken by Shri Krishna. He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He is of a blue complexion and did amazing things during His time on earth. While the aspects described as mythology by the less intelligent may be difficult to believe, there are ways to remove the doubt.

1. The historical accounts are found in many books.

If we heard about a blue God from only one book, it might lend further support to the mythology case. If only one work described an all-attractive being who played a flute, delighted the residents of a rural community, and performed supposed miracles as a young child, then maybe that one book, written by the one author, is fiction.

[Krishna - the butter thief]Yet Krishna’s deeds and qualities are described in many books. The detail is not the same in each work, and the source of the words also varies. This is something like having many biographers for an important personality. The people who interacted with Krishna, who saw what He did, who heard about Him, then shared their experiences with others. Thanks to their efforts we can learn about the Supreme Lord in works like the Mahabharata, Hari-vamsha, Shrimad Bhagavatam, Vishnu Purana, Kurma Purana, and Upanishads. The Vedas sing the glories of God, and so it makes sense that the Vedas are endless. No one can make an accurate count of the number of books in Vedic literature.

2. Metaphors are used in the books, with full transparency.

[Rama's bridge]If Shri Hanuman were indeed a myth, it would be readily acknowledged. If Shri Rama, an incarnation of Krishna, did not really build a bridge out of floating rocks, there would be no reason to hide the fact. Vedic literature is compiled by people of truth, brahmanas like Vyasadeva and Valmiki. The works are like transcripts of conversations between similar men of truth. They sometimes use metaphor and personification, and when they do it is not hidden from the reader. There is no intent to deceive, for to do that would go against the fact that the Supreme Lord is the height of truth. He is the Absolute Truth, the lone entity forever beyond duality.

3. The planets float in the air right now.

There are so many amazing things happening right now that we take for granted. If you told a child that a large body of matter could float in the air for millions of years, they would consider that to be amazing. Yet this already happens with the earth and other planets in outer space. If you told someone with little knowledge that from a tiny seed you could get a giant banyan tree, they would think that you are crazy. Yet this is exactly what happens. Things occur all the time in nature that we can’t understand. People are amazed at the birth of a child because they can’t understand from where the brand new life comes.

4. Talking monkeys and floating rocks are not that amazing if you know the spiritual science.

The things in Vedic literature that seem to be mythology are not considered very amazing by those who know the spiritual science. At the core of every living being is the spirit soul. The soul is described as amazing by some, since it cannot be destroyed. The body appears, remains and then disappears, but the soul never perishes.

āścarya-vat paśyati kaścid enam

āścarya-vad vadati tathaiva cānyaḥ

āścarya-vac cainam anyaḥ śṛṇoti

śrutvāpy enaṁ veda na caiva kaścit

“Some look on the soul as amazing, some describe him as amazing, and some hear of him as amazing, while others, even after hearing about him, cannot understand him at all.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.29)

Those who are in tune with the self, the spirit soul, can do amazing things. These abilities are known as siddhis, or mystic perfections. A man can materialize any form he chooses through these powers. He can become lighter than the lightest or heavier than the heaviest. This is not mythology, as modern day people have witnessed such things. They describe them as miracles, but it is nothing more than the manipulation of the gross material elements: earth, water, fire, air and ether. If with some practice ordinary man can do these things, then why can’t God and divinely empowered beings from the ancient past?

5. The highest authorities say that it is not mythology.

There is no need to strain the mind on this issue. Simply take the authority of wonderful people, who are free of impurities in the material existence. Shri Hanuman says that Rama is real. Hanuman saw the floating bridge constructed to Lanka. He was one of the monkeylike creatures who could talk. His word is the only proof necessary.

[Shri Hanuman]If the foolish person considers Hanuman to be a myth, then they can access any person from recent history who follows the devotion of Hanuman. Authorities like Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Shrila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, and His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada are not mythological characters. From recorded history we know that they existed and that they never described the Vedas to be mythology. They were free of desires for material advancement, renunciation and mystic perfection. They only wanted to please God, and through this motive they were completely sinless. These enlightened beings, who are of the highest character, free from duality, say that the Vedas are not mythology, and just their word alone provides complete validation.

In Closing:

Monkey-like creatures who can talk,

Bridge of stones for across ocean to walk.


As mythology easy to consider,

But from source should reconsider.


In truth, with no desire to deceive,

Eyewitness accounts from them to receive.


Hanuman and Chaitanya enough authority,

To know of God’s nature with certainty.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Getting Both From One

[nature]“Complete knowledge includes knowledge of the phenomenal world and the spirit behind it. The source of both of them is transcendental knowledge.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 7.2 Purport)

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Though much time is invested in television game shows featuring questions and answers, not much attention is given to the actual meaning of the description of such shows. To succeed on these shows, you should know a lot about a whole host of topics. In preparation, study up on the bodies of water. Become familiar with famous literature from the different ages. Know your world leaders, and even become familiar with popular film and theater.

[Jeopardy]If you’re knowledgeable on a lot of topics and can recall the relevant information more quickly than your opponents, you can be successful on these shows. You’ll earn a lot of money. You’ll become something of a television star. More than print and radio, television brings in lots of income in a very short amount of time.

“Trivia” is the word used to described these games. In the definition of the word, we see that the details are of little importance. Knowledge of the capital cities in a country is trivial. If you know who won the best actor award in 1973, will that really help you in life? The same goes for the important moments in a country’s history.

Is there higher knowledge? Is there something to know that is not trivial? In the Bhagavad-gita, we get that knowledge. It is called transcendental since it covers both the phenomenal world and the spirit behind it. The phenomenal is everything we see around us. The body of mine, the body of my friend, the changes in nature, the things asked in trivia games - these are all part of the phenomenal world.

What makes everything go is the spirit inside. The body is dead when the spirit within has left. There is nothing more to animate the body. It is dull and lifeless. But in fact, it was always that way. It never operated on its own. It wasn’t like a robot. It lived through the life force, which is known as spirit.

The same quality of spirit is there within all living things. Spirit is just as much there in the ant as it is in the human. It is in the wind, the sun, the moon, the clouds, and the rivers as well. We don’t have the eyes to see this because our sole focus is on the phenomenal. Even when there is any interest in the underlying spirit, all we can do is speculate.

[nature]Fortunately, there is transcendental knowledge. On the basis of authority this describes the spirit behind the phenomenal world. There is no speculation involved since the original teacher is the origin of both spirit and the phenomenal world. Those who teach with authority in the time and circumstance do so by following the original teachings passed on by this wisest person.

It shouldn’t surprise us that the original teacher is God. When getting past the bright light that His unimaginably large transcendental body emits, we can see Him as all-attractive. He gets the name “Krishna” because of this feature. Krishna is a person just like you and me, except He’s extraordinary. He is the origin of everything. No one can say they don’t believe in the existence of Krishna. It is like saying they don’t believe that parents gave birth to them. There is an origin to everything. Some spiritual traditions may not know much about Him. They may call Him through different names, but He certainly does exist.

If you accept and retain transcendental knowledge, then you know all there is to be known. That doesn’t seem possible, since a spiritually empowered being likely won’t do very well on a trivia game show. They may not know all the capital cities of the world. They may not know who won the World Series twenty-five years ago.

Yet they do know the difference between matter and spirit. They know that spirit lives on, despite the changes in matter. They know that the wellbeing of spirit is more important. They know that Krishna is the source of both material and spiritual worlds.

ahaṁ sarvasya prabhavo

mattaḥ sarvaṁ pravartate

iti matvā bhajante māṁ

budhā bhāva-samanvitāḥ

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

[Lord Krishna]They know that there can only be one religion: love of God. That religion is a science since it describes spirit and matter in detail. That religion is not a faith that one adopts and then gives up later on through a whim. That religion, known as dharma, is followed with full intelligence, with every doubt removed through the sword of transcendental knowledge handed down by the wielder of the flute, Muralidhara. From the knowledge He gives emerges love, which is also transcendental. That love flows to His lotus feet, which are the supreme shelter for the most knowledgeable.

In Closing:

For those with knowledge living,

Lord’s lotus feet shelter giving.


Appearing on trivia contest show,

Testing of subjects what to know.


Trivia having specific meaning yet,

Knowledge in unimportant matters set.


From Krishna everything needed learn,

Away from maya, into Divine light turn.