Saturday, November 14, 2015

Understanding In Your Terms

[Lord Vishnu]“He is splendorous like the sun. He is pleasing to the whole world like the moon. He is the king of all the worlds like the demigod Kuvera, and He is endowed with valor like the greatly famous Vishnu.” (Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 34.28-29)

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āditya iva tejasvī loka kāntaḥ śaśī yathā ||
rājā sarvasya lokasya devo vaiśravaṇo yathā |
vikrameṇa upapannaḥ ca yathā viṣṇuḥ mahāyaśāḥ ||

A living entity can appear in the material world in a variety of circumstances. The human species alone gives us evidence of this, where some are born into squalor and others into splendor. Some live their whole lives without electricity, running water, or a telephone, while others could never imagine a life without these things. Since the living being, bhuta, is spirit at the core, it can have any type of material covering. That combination of spirit and covering can appear in the sky, the water, or the earth. It can appear on other planets as well.

“Birds, beasts, men and many other living creatures are moving living entities; trees and plants, however, are inert - they cannot move, but only stand. Every entity is contained within the scope of 8,400,000 species of life; some of them are moving and some of them are inert. In all cases, however, the seed of their life is Krishna.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 7.10 Purport)

The human being has the gift of reason, which is an aspect of the advanced intelligence. Intelligence is one of the subtle elements of the material body. With reason, man can make assessments. Whether judging high or low, in whatever sphere the human being may find themselves, there is an aspect of the Supreme Lord that relates to them.

In simpler terms, any person can find a way to understand God. Let’s say that I am an athlete. I appreciate others who have athletic ability. I try to learn from them in order to improve my performance. I offer respect to those who came before me and those who excel in the field of competition. I am able to assess where I am based on how others do.

In this situation, I can understand God as being the greatest athlete. He has the most ability. This may seem like a trivial comparison to make, but if we are to give respect to other human beings, why not to the source of everything? Only out of foolishness do we think that God cannot be a person. Only due to the misfortune of never having heard Vedic wisdom do we forgo studying the divine qualities possessed by the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

The wise souls both understand God and teach what they have learned to others. They don’t hoard the information for themselves. They realize that if their own teachers had remained quiet, then the information wouldn’t have passed on. If knowledge of God is most valuable, shouldn’t that precious commodity be shared with those who are suffering?

[Marriage of Sita and Rama]Hanuman is one such wise soul. He knows God and he knows how to speak about Him to others. In the above referenced verse from the Ramayana, the recipient of his words is in a particularly bad situation. It is a special circumstance since she already knows God; she is married to Him. Marriage is an event of this temporary world. The blessed event joining Sita and Rama in Janaka’s kingdom is there for us to enjoy, to show us how the Supreme Lord interacts with the goddess of fortune, who is His eternal consort.

Sita already knows Rama but has requested Hanuman to continue further. She delights in Rama-katha, or discourses about the Supreme Lord. At the same time, she is in a place where everyone is staunchly against her husband. They are cheaters to the core, as the foundation of dishonesty is antagonism towards the origin of spirit and matter. If you deny the existence of the Supreme Controller, then you are automatically a cheater. In Lanka, the people had no problem stealing, killing innocent animals for consuming as flesh, and breaking the general rules of warfare.

Their leader Ravana employed the kama-rupa siddhi many times. He used it to steal Sita away in secret and bring her back to Lanka against her will. It was no wonder, then, that Sita was a little skeptical when she saw a monkey-like person approach her in the Ashoka grove in Lanka.

Hanuman knows the many sides of God, and he speaks according to the time and circumstance. In the above referenced verse from the Ramayana, he lists some of Rama’s qualities. The things he mentions have specific relevance to the circumstance at hand. Hanuman says that Rama is splendorous like the sun, Aditya. Lanka is in darkness, so this means that when Rama will arrive the darkness will dissipate.

gām āviśya ca bhūtāni

dhārayāmy aham ojasā

puṣṇāmi cauṣadhīḥ sarvāḥ

somo bhūtvā rasātmakaḥ

“I enter into each planet, and by My energy they stay in orbit. I become the moon and thereby supply the juice of life to all vegetables.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 15.13)

[The moon]Hanuman says that Rama is pleasing to the world like the moon. You can’t really hate the moon; only a fool would think like that. In the Bhagavad-gita, Shri Krishna mentions that He is the moon who supplies juice to the vegetables. Rama is the same Krishna, just appearing on earth in a different visible form and during a different time period. Therefore Hanuman’s statement is equivalent to Krishna’s.

Hanuman says that Rama is the king of the worlds like Kuvera, who is a celestial. Kuvera is the treasurer of the demigods, so he is like a sovereign in his ability to distribute wealth to others. Hanuman intentionally uses the name Vaishravana. This references Kuvera’s relationship as son to the father Vishrava. Ravana happens to have the same father. The difference is that Kuvera was a deva, or demigod, while Ravana was a Rakshasa, or man-eating atheist. Ravana would never have spoken of Kuvera in such a way. Therefore the comparison to Vaishravana was a further clue to Sita that Hanuman was a genuine messenger of Rama.

Hanuman says that Rama is valorous like Vishnu, who is highly famous. Again, this reference is applicable to the situation. The Rakshasas previously had a war with the demigods. Lord Vishnu Himself had arrived on the scene to help the demigods and drive the Rakshasas out. The same Vishnu was now on earth as Rama, and so history was set to repeat.

[Lord Rama]Sita did not need to worry. Rama was going to come and save the day. Hanuman spoke words that were truthful and appropriate to the situation. Every person has the opportunity to understand God. Using their own perspective, juxtaposing with their own life experiences, they can study Vedic literature and understand how the Supreme Lord has a relationship with every aspect of His creation.

In Closing:

Young and old, both tall and small,

Chance to understand God have them all.


Like Aditya giving heat and light,

And the moon shining at night.


Like Kuvera on whose wealth world relies,

And Vishnu of fame and valor high.


Wherever you live, in whatever your sphere,

Know the Lord and to Him become dear.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Talking About Things Changing Quickly

[Krishna's lotus feet]“At the time of death, the consciousness he has created will carry him on to the next type of body. If he has made his consciousness like that of a cat or dog, he is sure to change to a cat's or dog's body. And, if he has fixed his consciousness on godly qualities, he will change into the form of a demigod. And, if he is in Krishna consciousness, he will be transferred to Krishnaloka in the spiritual world and will associate with Krishna.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 15.8 Purport)

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Friend1: Krishna consciousness is a gradual process?

Friend2: It doesn’t have to be.

Friend1: But it has to take some time to shift from identifying with the body to thinking spiritually?

Friend2: Well, it’s a drastic change, that’s for sure.

Friend1: You agree with me, then?

Friend2: Does drastic change always require a lot of time?

Friend1: I would think so. How many people do you know that it takes them until getting married before they wise up? They change so much when they have kids of their own.

Friend2: Marriage and family do change a person, no doubt.

Friend1: And those things don’t happen automatically. It’s a gradual process.

Friend2: Let me tell you, though. I’ve had personal experiences where over a twenty-four hour period my whole mental state was altered.

Friend1: You saw something traumatic.

Friend2: More of an exhaustive journey. Remember when I went to Australia to see the Australian Open that one year?

Friend1: Yeah. Didn’t you get sick over there?

Friend2: I did, but I think the long flight was really the difference maker. I don’t consider myself to be a professional athlete or anything, but I was pretty fit at the time. I used to work out regularly.

Friend1: Right.

Friend2: I even worked out on the morning of the flight I had to take, which was direct to Australia.

Friend1: Oh, that’s nice.

Friend2: Well, what I didn’t foresee was my body becoming weak so quickly. By the time we landed, I was so tired that I had trouble breathing. The heat was getting to me. Mind you, not more than a day prior I was exercising in the heat.

Friend1: Yeah, you’ve always liked the warmer temperatures. I know you especially like sitting in a hot car in the summer.

Friend2: Only for the first few minutes; you get that sauna effect.

Friend1: Yeah, so it’s surprising that you were struggling with the heat down there. Was it a panic attack?

Friend2: That’s exactly it. The attacks were coming and going for the next two weeks. I met some family over there and they kept telling me that I needed to take better care of myself. They said I should try exercising more to build up my strength.

Friend1: That’s unbelievable.

Friend2: Anyway, the point is that things can shift quickly. For entering into bhakti-yoga, the lone prerequisite is acceptance of the fact of the difference between matter and spirit. You don’t need anything else. Just know that you are not your body; you are spirit soul.

Friend1: And then you’re saved, as they say?

Friend2: Not saved by some magical healer, but your consciousness starts to shift. If you accept that God is a person who is all-attractive then you’re really on the right path. You don’t need to go through all the preliminary processes.

Friend1: If it’s so easy, why doesn’t everybody do it?

Friend2: Obviously, there are reasons that they don’t. For starters, who is actually fortunate enough to come in contact with this information? And then out of those few, who will be open-minded enough to accept the instruction?

Friend1: That’s a good point. I know if a long time ago you would have told me that I am spirit soul, I would have thought you were crazy. I wasn’t ready.

Friend2: There you go. Whether someone is ready or not does not make a difference in the effectiveness of the process once accepted. This means that you can see a change instantly, without even being consciously aware that you’re advancing.

Friend1: What are the signs of advancement?

[Krishna's lotus feet]Friend2: Krishna consciousness. Always thinking of the Supreme Lord as a person. Always wanting to serve Him and the people who love Him.

Friend1: What about good traits? Aren’t those important to have and exhibit?

Friend2: They are, but they come automatically if the consciousness is right. It’s one of those things you have to experience for yourself to believe. The person who has changed their consciousness knows how dangerous the material world is. They know how quickly things can revert back. Therefore they always chant the holy names to protect themselves: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

In Closing:

A change overnight can come,

When signs previously were none.


Fit and healthy to be,

Then deterioration to see.


Krishna consciousness same can transpire,

There in one second if divinely inspired.


Knowledge of spiritual nature take,

And follow guidance for transformation to make.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Talking About The Hanuman Of Other Traditions

[flag of Hanuman]“O King, at that time Arjuna, the son of Pandu, who was seated in his chariot, his flag marked with Hanuman, took up his bow and prepared to shoot his arrows, looking at the sons of Dhritarashtra. O King, Arjuna then spoke to Hrishikesha [Krishna] these words:” (Bhagavad-gita, 1.20)

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atha vyavasthitān dṛṣṭvā

dhārtarāṣṭrān kapi-dhvajaḥ

pravṛtte śastra-sampāte

dhanur udyamya pāṇḍavaḥ

hṛṣīkeśaṁ tadā vākyam

idam āha mahī-pate

Friend1: So I saw an interesting movie the other day.

Friend2: Hollywood or Bollywood?

Friend1: Bollywood.

Friend2: You were able to understand? Did it have subtitles?

Friend1: No subtitles, but I was able to get the general idea of what was going on.

Friend2: Was it good?

Friend1: It was interesting for sure. You can tell they took advantage of the popularity of worship of Shri Hanuman.

[Hanuman]Friend2: It was a religious movie?

Friend1: That’s the thing; it wasn’t. The main character was a self-proclaimed devotee of Hanuman. He would go to temples, make offerings, and recite the Hanuman Chalisa whenever in trouble.

Friend2: I don’t know the Hanuman Chalisa, but every time I hear it I think of Tulsidas. Who could imagine becoming the author of something that famous?

Friend1: This character even paid obeisances to monkeys whenever he saw them.

Friend2: I know what you mean by “self-proclaimed devotee.” They’ll identify as a Hanuman-bhakta, right?

Friend1: Yeah.

Friend2: I never thought anything of that until I came across bhakti-yoga teachings. Apparently, a true bhakta will never identify himself as such.

Friend1: Really?

Friend2: Yeah; they’ll say that they’re trying to become a devotee or that they’re serving a devotee, following in the footsteps. Not a big deal, but I hadn’t heard that before.

Friend1: That is interesting. As you might have guessed, in keeping with the Hanuman theme this movie had the main character travel into a foreign land to do something important.

Friend2: And I bet that something important had nothing to do with God or His message.

Friend1: Bingo. I mean it was a feel-good movie. The Hanuman-bhakta secretly travelling into Muslim-Pakistan in order to reunite a small girl with her family. She had gotten lost previously and it was a struggle to figure out where she was from.

Friend2: Ah, so they wanted to bring the two faiths together through this story. That’s not a bad message, but not sure why they would need to rely on Hanuman for that.

Friend1: That’s what bothered me. First off, you’re taking Hanuman’s brave journey into Lanka for the sake of Shri Rama, who is God, and comparing it to something material. There is actually no similarity between the two. If the guy was infiltrating another country to preach the genuine message of Godhead, to serve Him in thought, word and deed, then the comparison would fit.

[Prabhupada sailing on Jaladuta]Friend2: Definitely. People often say that about His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. Hanuman crossed the ocean to reach Lanka, where Rama’s wife Sita was being held captive. Prabhupada sailed across the ocean to give the message of Divine love to those who had been held captive by maya, the illusory energy of this material world.

Friend1: This movie got me to thinking. I’m going to run this by you. Hanuman from the Vedic tradition was used in this movie to equate the Vedas with Islam. For analysis purposes, the exact religion on the other side doesn’t really matter. You can substitute any country and religion and have the same kind of movie.

Friend2: Right.

Friend1: So what if things were reversed? Why isn’t there a movie about a devotee of the Hanuman of another religion doing something like this?

Friend2: Not sure what you mean.

[Hanuman]Friend1: Well, why not take the devotee of the Hanuman of Islam and have him unite with people from another religion? That could be a good movie too, no?

Friend2: Umm, you’re missing a key point.

Friend1: I’m not, but I’m glad you picked up on it. There is no Hanuman of any other tradition, is there? That’s what you were going to say, right?

Friend2: Yup. Not even close.

Friend1: This is how I know that Rama is God. I’m not trying to put down other traditions. This is not a contest of “my religion is better than yours.” God is one. The differences in religion are due to the level of detail in which the Supreme is described. Hanuman is there with Rama. He is known as Rama’s servant. Anyone who is truly devoted to Hanuman accepts Rama as God. More broadly, they accept that the Supreme Lord is a person with identifiable features.

Friend2: The person Hanuman is very specific. This means that the Vedas are very specific. That fact alone removes a lot of the doubt.

Friend1: Exactly. So there is no reason to bring Hanuman down to a generic level or equate his actions with materially motivated ones.

[flag of Hanuman]Friend2: That’s a given. At least one good thing came of you watching that movie. You got a better appreciation for Shri Hanuman and the Vedic tradition to which he belongs. There is no need to go outside. The Bhagavata philosophy, so nicely described in the Bhagavata Purana, is purna, or complete. You study the Bhagavad-gita and you learn everything that’s needed to be known. Even Hanuman is represented; he stands tall in the flag on top of Arjuna’s chariot.

In Closing:

When Bhagavad-gita to recall in mind,

Image of flag of Hanuman to find.


Devotee of Rama, strong and brave,

To Lanka went for Sita’s hopes to save.


Not anywhere else to Hanuman the same,

His association only from Vedas to gain.


Means that tradition completeness to own,

From it know everything needed to be known.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Govardhana Puja 2015

[Krishna lifting Govardhana Hill]“My dear brothers, My dear father, My dear inhabitants of Vrindavana, you can now safely enter under the umbrella of Govardhana Hill, which I have just lifted. Do not be afraid of the hill and think that it will fall from My hand. You have been too much afflicted from the heavy rain and strong wind; therefore I have lifted this hill, which will protect you exactly like a huge umbrella.” (Lord Krishna, Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 1, Ch 25)

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Things weren’t looking good. The people put their trust in Him. They decided to forego the annual tradition in favor of a new one. What could they do? They were helpless against His charming smile. He had not let them down thus far. Who could have predicted what was to come? It wasn’t the rainy season, after all. It was not like a hurricane was in the forecast. From the looks of things, the darling child of Nanda and Yashoda had gotten them into the worst calamity. On the occasion of Govardhana Puja we remember how following the Supreme Lord is never a bad idea. Even if there are ominous signs on the horizon, the end is always auspicious. Rest assured, if God gets you into a mess, He will get you out of it.

The same is not true with others; and that is not a criticism against them. Man has four inherent defects. One of those defects is the tendency to commit mistakes. The person who accurately predicted the outcome to the last election boasts about their acumen on political matters, but they really only made an educated guess. They can’t predict every single election. They are not all-knowing.

The issue is that we put faith in so many people. We believe what the broadcasters on television and radio tell us. We place trust in our parents, grandparents, teachers, and superiors at work. Yet it is highly possible that such people can lead us astray. When we find ourselves in trouble as a result, there is no guarantee that the people trusted will lead us out of danger. They can help only to the best of their ability, and since they are not the Supreme Lord, that ability is limited.

[cornucopia]In Vrindavana a long time ago, the tradition was to worship Indra, the king of heaven. It wasn’t that big a deal; just sacrifice some time to show appreciation for the rain. Without rain there wouldn’t be grains. Without grains, man would have a difficult time surviving. They could eat fruits if required, but even those rely on the rainfall. Such sacrifices are recommended in the Bhagavad-gita, which is the guidebook for the human race. It is not just a Hindu scripture, as spirituality is presented as a science, with inviolable laws no different than the basic laws of science.

annād bhavanti bhūtāni

parjanyād anna-sambhavaḥ

yajñād bhavati parjanyo

yajñaḥ karma-samudbhavaḥ

“All living bodies subsist on food grains, which are produced from rain. Rains are produced by performance of yajna [sacrifice], and yajna is born of prescribed duties.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 3.14)

There is nothing wrong with showing respect once a year to the higher forces like the king of heaven. Even if a person is a staunch atheist, they would have to admit that rain doesn’t appear through the work of human beings. An atheist worships the material nature in the mood of exploitation, so for them to pay honor to the rainmaker is to show some gratitude for a change.

[Lord Krishna]This one year, Nanda’s son proposed something different. Nanda was the king of the farm community. The people were not looking to exploit nature. They lived simply, tending to the cows and worshiping the Supreme Lord. Through Krishna’s persuasion, Nanda decided to worship the nearby Govardhana Hill. The father wanted to perform both pujas, but Krishna insisted that the sacrifice for Indra be skipped this year.

Nanda and the people followed Krishna. They did so happily. They made many different preparations of food and offered it in grand fashion to Govardhana Hill. Krishna was so satisfied that He took the form of the hill and declared that the same worship should reoccur annually. The people were happy, and people of all classes were fed the prasadam, or the Lord’s mercy.

Then the trouble started. Indra was none too pleased that the people skipped the puja in his honor. There was no such thing as a loyalty discount with him. Rather than just remain angry and withhold rain for a while, Indra decided to retaliate right then and there. He sent the samvartaka cloud to devastate the area with rainfall. That’s exactly what ensued, as the people started to wash away in the torrential flood.

Krishna had gotten them into this trouble, and so He would get them out of it. Realizing what Indra was doing, Krishna took the same Govardhana Hill and lifted it up. The hill was massive, as it takes many hours simply to go around by foot. Yet the Lord held it up with the pinky finger on His left hand for seven straight days. Long before the Guinness Book of World Records came to be, Krishna created the largest umbrella known to man. The people were saved and Indra defeated. The king of heaven later apologized for his mistake.

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, Bhagavad-gita, 18.66)

[Krishna lifting Govardhana Hill]Govardhana Puja gives a tangible example to support the concluding promise of the Bhagavad-gita. Krishna says that a person should abandon all varieties of religion and simply surrender unto Him. Even if it seems like the decision will lead to trouble, Krishna will protect. Who could be more powerful than the king of heaven? Who could use more force than the person who can send a cloud of devastation to any area? The answer is Krishna, the all-attractive son of Nanda and Yashoda, the beloved of the people of Vrindavana, the lifter of Govardhana Hill.

In Closing:

From Indra’s flood away to drift,

To save people Govardhana to lift.


King of heaven responsible for rain,

From skipped puja now instilling pain.


Following Krishna of bluish bodily hue,

Trouble first, but Lord there to rescue.


By His adorable form don’t be fooled,

Three worlds by His potency ruled.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Diwali 2015

[Rama flying home]“O King Parikshit, as the Lord sat on His airplane of flowers, with women offering Him prayers and reciters chanting about His characteristics, He appeared like the moon with the stars and planets.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 9.10.44)

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puṣpaka-stho nutaḥ strībhiḥ

stūyamānaś ca vandibhiḥ

vireje bhagavān rājan

grahaiś candra ivoditaḥ

With pride Ravana took over Lanka. Beating his chest, ready to keep track of every accomplishment, with ease Ravana took over the land previously governed by his half-brother Kuvera. One of the items changing possession was the Pushpaka, a car that was a thing of legend. On the occasion of Diwali, we celebrate the return of Shri Ramachandra to His home of Ayodhya. Rama arrived on the very same aerial car, but without any false pride. He took His closest friends along for the ride, for the Supreme Lord never forgets even a single deed done in His favor.

Is it bad to be prideful? Isn’t self-esteem a good thing? In modern times, parents are cautious to chastise their children for fear over this very issue: low self-esteem. From Vedic literature, we learn that self-esteem equates to ego. By default, that ego is false, ahankara. It is an aspect of the subtle body, accompanying mind and intelligence. These are the elements that we can’t see with the naked eye. The subtle elements cover the living being, along with the gross elements of earth, water, fire, air and ether.

bhūmir āpo 'nalo vāyuḥ

khaṁ mano buddhir eva ca

ahaṅkāra itīyaṁ me

bhinnā prakṛtir aṣṭadhā

“Earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind, intelligence and false ego - altogether these eight comprise My separated material energies.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.4)

Ahankara is due to forgetfulness only. There are so many examples in life that show this. We can take a marriage for analysis purposes. The older brother helps the younger brother to find the perfect match. It is through his efforts primarily that the younger brother, following something that resembles the original Vedic system of matchmaking, meets with an ideal family.

After a year or so of marriage, the younger brother is quite proud. His wife gets along much better with the mother than his older brother’s wife does. He thinks to himself, “Wow, I have the best wife. How can others even compete? She is kind, gentle, and well-behaved. She supports me in everything. She does not give me any trouble, and we are generally happy in each other’s association.”

Swayed by ahankara, the younger brother does not remember that the marriage took place through the efforts of others. He takes pride in something that he has no business being proud over. A similar thing occurred with Ravana, except on a much larger scale. He completely denied the existence of God, and his achievements would make the leaders of today seem like paupers. Ravana literally had a city of gold. He didn’t require the advanced technology of today to live in opulence. He didn’t have to spend top dollar to dine at a fancy establishment. He had more than enough meat and wine to consume on a daily basis. He didn’t have just one beautiful wife; there were many.

[Lord Rama]On the other side you had Shri Rama, the powerful, yet honest and simple prince from Ayodhya. He could defeat the entire world if they should attack Him. Indeed, He once defended against 14,000 of Ravana’s men. They were aggressors in the forest area of Janasthana. They didn’t fight fairly, either. Imagine going up against someone who could change their shape at will. Imagine if they could appear and disappear whenever they wanted. These were some of the powers of the Rakshasas, and Rama defeated them singlehandedly, using only the arrows shot from His illustrious bow.

Ravana was falsely proud, and soon even those things of which he was proud would leave him. This is the real tragedy of ahankara. The living being forgets that everything belongs to God. Even if I take great effort to construct the tallest building in the world, the ingredients necessary existed before my time. I didn’t make the earth. I don’t get to take everything with me, either. Eventually I will pass on. This means that eventually everything will leave my possession.

[Hanuman burning Lanka]Ravana was fortunate in that God Himself took everything away. First, Rama’s messenger Hanuman came to Lanka and set fire to the city. Then Rama and Hanuman’s friends invaded the city and took it over. This was with just cause; Ravana had unfairly stolen Rama’s wife Sita. Ravana was very proud of his accomplishments, but since he didn’t recognize the supremacy of God, he lost everything in the worst possible way. He had a historic rise to power, which was followed by an epic fall.

Diwali commemorates Rama’s return home to Ayodhya. The conflict with Ravana occurred while Rama was away from the kingdom, fourteen years in total. When Rama returned, He arrived on the aerial car known as the Pushpaka. This was originally the property of Lord Brahma, who gave it to Kuvera. Ravana took it over and used it in his reign of terror that spanned the three worlds.

Shri Rama is the Supreme Lord, so there is no such thing as false ego in Him. For God there is no difference between matter and spirit, and so there are no subtle elements covering Him. For others He gives the example of real ego by showing appreciation for work. With Him on that aerial car were Sita, Lakshmana, Hanuman, Sugriva, Vibhishana, and other leaders of the rescue team. Even Sita, who did not know Hanuman and his friends very well, felt it necessary to bring along some important people who provided support.

“Seeing the city of Kishkindha, which was formerly protected by Vali, Sita, who was feeling shy out of love, then spoke the following humble words to Rama: ‘O King, I wish to enter Your capital city of Ayodhya with You, accompanied by the beloved wives of Sugriva, headed by Tara, as well as the wives of the other Vanara leaders.’” (Valmiki Ramayana, Yuddha Kand, 123.23-25)

[Flying home on the pushpaka]The people of Ayodhya celebrated in grand fashion. Part of that celebration was spreading lights across the city, which was a sign of welcome. They welcomed Rama and His closest associates, as the Supreme Lord never forgets a good deed done in His favor. He remembers everything, and the person who always remembers Him never loses in the end. They always win by remaining conscious of Him, keeping the association of the always grateful Supreme Lord.

In Closing:

By fear of him three worlds shook,

The Pushpaka with pride Ravana took.


Ahankara only because of Lord to forget,

From own accomplishments in ignorance set.


Sita and Lanka by Rama easily won,

Remembered helpers, each and every one.


With Him on aerial car back to Ayodhya taking,

With arati lamps people homecoming making.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Five Reasons That Krishna Is Simply Awesome

[Lord Krishna]“My dear mother, your son is very expert among the cowherd boys. He knows all the different arts, how to tend the cows and how to play the flute. He composes His own songs, and to sing them He puts His flute to His mouth. When He plays, either in the morning or in the evening, all the demigods, like Lord Shiva, Brahma, Indra and Chandra, bow their heads and listen with great attention.” (Gopi speaking to mother Yashoda, Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 1, Ch 34)

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“I am a God-fearing person.” The purpose of this statement is to make a distinction from the atheist, the person who doesn’t worry about consequences to their actions. There is a witness to every action. The famous question about a tree falling in an empty forest making a sound is not valid, because even the trees are living entities. They have a spirit soul inside of them, and where there is individual spirit there is also Supreme Spirit.

gatir bhartā prabhuḥ sākṣī

nivāsaḥ śaraṇaṁ suhṛt

prabhavaḥ pralayaḥ sthānaṁ

nidhānaṁ bījam avyayam

“I am the goal, the sustainer, the master, the witness, the abode, the refuge and the most dear friend. I am the creation and the annihilation, the basis of everything, the resting place and the eternal seed.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.18)

The Vedas describe God as Bhagavan. Presenting this word is not for the purpose of instilling fear. Of course, the person who is against the Supreme Lord should be worried about His different features, particularly His strength. Yet God is not someone to be inherently feared. His features are there to be enjoyed. He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and when a person knows Him in truth, they realize just how awesome He is.

1. He steals butter.

Stealing is bad. It’s taking property that belongs to someone else. If a person works hard, saves up their money, and then buys a new car, another person shouldn’t spoil that effort by stealing the car. In modern times theft can be made legal through enough votes in a governing body. In spite of the sanctioning by the higher authorities, stealing is still wrong. It will be punished at some point in the future, if not by the state then through the law of karma.

[Krishna stealing butter]The Supreme Lord is above karma. He is the creator of time and the material nature and is the source of all living things. He shows His supreme standing in many ways, with one of them involving stealing. In the sacred town of Vrindavana, He visits the homes of the neighbors, uninvited on occasion. He sneaks in while in the visual manifestation of an innocent child. He has ill-intentions. He schemes with His friends on how to steal the butter that is stored safely in the stockrooms.

2. He is rebellious.

Krishna gives us religion, whose true definition is dharma. Dharma is the way to transcendence. Follow your specific duty with detachment and you’ll make advancement in consciousness. The pinnacle achievement is untainted consciousness of God. This is difficult to achieve even after many lifetimes, so there is a gradual process that flows through rules and regulations. Many of the regulations involve paying tribute to higher authorities who manage the material nature. Krishna even mentions this practice in the Bhagavad-gita.

annād bhavanti bhūtāni

parjanyād anna-sambhavaḥ

yajñād bhavati parjanyo

yajñaḥ karma-samudbhavaḥ

“All living bodies subsist on food grains, which are produced from rain. Rains are produced by performance of yajna [sacrifice], and yajna is born of prescribed duties.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 3.14)

Krishna is so awesome that He sometimes rebels against the system He has created. He does this to remind the higher authorities that they work under His direction. His rebelliousness also shows that He can be relied upon in any situation, that He will provide protection. One time in Vrindavana He suggested that the people worship the nearby Govardhana Hill instead of the king of heaven. The people were demigod-respecting; they had no issue paying tribute to Indra and other demigods.

[Krishna lifting Govardhana Hill]Following Krishna’s suggestion earned them the wrath of Indra, who sent a torrential downpour that threatened to wash away the area and the people living in it. The rebellious Krishna lifted up the just-worshiped Govardhana Hill and held it up to act as an umbrella. He curbed Indra’s pride and protected the people who put their faith in Him.

3. He comes and goes whenever and wherever He pleases.

The Supreme Lord can appear wherever and whenever He chooses. In the Bhagavad-gita He gives the general conditions for His descents. There is usually a decline in religious practice and a rise in irreligion.

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)

[Narasimha killing Hiranyakashipu]Still, He is not bound to any conditions. He does not have to appear in the human species, nor one that is recognizable. One time a demoniac father and king mocked his son’s devotion to Krishna. The father, named Hiranyakashipu, facetiously asked if Krishna was in the nearby pillar, for the son had claimed that Krishna is everywhere. Sure enough, the Supreme Lord appeared on the scene, emerging from the pillar. The form was magnificent, a half-man/half-lion. It battled with and easily defeated the non-God-fearing king. This form, Narasimhadeva, arrived to protect the little boy, Prahlada.

4. He gets the greatest homecoming of all-time.

[Diwali lights]Imagine if every home in a large town were decorated with bright lights at the same time on the same night. Imagine if it was all done to honor a single person. We don’t have to imagine, as this occurred one time for Shri Ramachandra, Krishna’s incarnation made famous through the epic Ramayana. The people of Ayodhya loved Rama so much that they couldn’t wait for Him to come home. He had been gone for fourteen years, and when they found out He was returning, arati lamps were lit in every home. This was the greatest homecoming of all time, and it has since been repeated annually by followers of the Vedic tradition on the occasion known as Diwali.

5. He plays all day.

What does God do? What are His hobbies? Where does He prefer to live? As He appears millennium after millennium, the fortunate living entities get a variety of images of the Supreme Lord. They see different sides to Him. As Narasimha He kills an evil king, one who stoops so low as to apply deadly force to thwart the devotional efforts of his five-year old son. As Varaha the Supreme Lord saves the earth from sinking in water. As Ramachandra He upholds dharma and battles against night-rangers living in Lanka.

[Krishna in Vrindavana]In His original form, however, He simply plays all day. Think of the joy of the innocence of youth. Now imagine that remaining with you forever. It is somewhat analogous to Krishna’s day to day life in the spiritual planet of Vrindavana. He goes out to the fields with His friends who are around the same age. He plays His flute that enchants everyone. The cows, the deer, the peacocks, the bees, the parrots and all other forms of life simply adore Him. The mothers think of Him all day, as do the younger cowherd women. The interactions with Krishna in Goloka Vrindavana are in the mood of madhurya, or sweetness. Krishna has nothing to do; He is constantly enjoying.

In Closing:

With arati lamps in every home,

Greatest welcome for Rama was shown.


Though wrong for others’ property to take,

As butter-thief, Krishna most pleasing sight to make.


Lord everywhere, even from a pillar once came,

Half-man/half-lion, of Narasimha the name.


In original form in joy spending the day,

Nothing to do, with friends on His flute to play.

Sunday, November 8, 2015


[Hanuman]“Understanding Sita’s worry, the son of the wind, Hanuman, brought great joy to her by speaking words favorable to the ear.” (Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 34.27)

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sītāyāḥ cintitam buddhvā hanūmān māruta ātmajaḥ ||
śrotra anukūlaiḥ vacanaiḥ tadā tām sampraharṣayat |

What is the way to happiness? Should we listen to what others tell us or should we follow our whims? Man has four inherent defects, with the tendency to commit mistakes being one of them. Therefore, what we think is good for us isn’t always the case. We tend to forget as well, so if we swore off something a long time ago, we still might try it again, hoping for a different outcome.

“A mundaner 1) is sure to commit mistakes, 2) is invariably illusioned, 3) has the tendency to cheat others and 4) is limited by imperfect senses. With these four imperfections, one cannot deliver perfect information of all-pervading knowledge.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, Introduction)

If we listen to others, we run the same risk. After all, they have the same defects. They are not perfect. The elders have more experience than us. In Sanskrit they are known as guru. They are to be respected, but even they mess up sometimes. They don’t know exactly what we go through in life, so how can they steer us in the proper direction?

[Krishna's lotus feet]According to bhakti philosophy, the way to happiness is to serve the Supreme Lord Krishna. This service is the soul’s dharma, or essential characteristic. Not just for the people from India or those who know of God the person since birth, every single living entity, across all national borders and languages, should serve the Lord with thought, word and deed.

That service should be anukula, or favorable. His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada describes the choice between anukula and pratikula. Acting on a whim is pratikula, unfavorable. The most unfavorable result is birth in the material world. The reason is that the land is conducive to ignorance. In the Bhagavad-gita, Shri Krishna describes how both forgetfulness and remembrance come from Him.

sarvasya cāhaṁ hṛdi sanniviṣṭo

mattaḥ smṛtir jñānam apohanaṁ ca

vedaiś ca sarvair aham eva vedyo

vedānta-kṛd veda-vid eva cāham

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

In the material world, Krishna facilitates the choice to be separated from Him by increasing forgetfulness. This is most unfavorable, as with birth there is death and everything in between. There is the swinging pendulum of desire and hate, with each person trying to satisfy their desires, leading to collisions.

The plight of Sita Devi is one example. She was living peacefully in the forest of Dandaka with her husband, Shri Rama. The couple was accompanied by Rama’s younger brother Lakshmana. The three weren’t bothering anyone. On the other side of the ocean was a lusty king named Ravana. He had so many beautiful wives. The buildings in his kingdom were made of gold. There was ample supply of wine and animal flesh to consume.

Yet he succumbed to his whims, so everything was unfavorable for him. He heard about Sita’s beauty and decided that he had to have her. He couldn’t live peacefully, though according to modern opinion everything necessary for peace was there. Of course the wise know that no amount of material opulence will bring peace. Ravana took Sita away in secret, and that one mistake was the catalyst for his eventual demise.

[Hanuman]In this verse from the Ramayana, Shri Hanuman is about to speak to Sita. He is in Lanka on the orders of Rama. He will speak words that are favorable, anukula. Those words are about Rama, who is the Absolute Truth. Rama is the same Krishna. He is God the person. Any truthful words spoken about Rama are favorable. Sita was not sure if Hanuman was a genuine messenger. He easily could have been a deceitful, lusty person like Ravana and his men.

It is said that Hanuman understood Sita’s worry. This is the compassionate nature of the devotee of the Lord. They know the real cause of the suffering in people. Sita is Rama’s wife, so her suffering is of a different nature. The episode in Lanka is for instructing others. It is both historical and symbolic, as Hanuman is the ideal representative of God.

To act for Rama’s pleasure is anukula. Any other activity is ultimately unfavorable, as it leads to further forgetfulness of God. Hanuman is always conscious of Rama, so everything he does is anukula. When he speaks of Rama, the words are so powerful that they bring a smile to a person who is in the most distressful situation, worrying over the future and the continued separation from her beloved. The living entities in this world have been separated from the same Rama for too long, and through the favorable words of Hanuman and those like him, great joy can come.

In Closing:

Suffering for far too long,

Deep in material world’s throngs.


But still great joy to come near,

When from Rama’s messenger to hear.


Surrounded by vile creatures fake,

So how Sita proper assessment to make?


By favorable words from Hanuman said,

Who by love for Rama to Lanka was led.