Saturday, March 12, 2016

Taking A Whip Count

006714“The child cries to have the moon from the mother, and the mother gives the child a mirror to satisfy the crying and disturbing child with the reflection of the moon. Similarly, the crying child of the Lord is given over to the reflection, the material world, to lord it over as karmi and to give this up in frustration to become one with the Lord. Both these stages are dreaming illusions only. There is no necessity of tracing out the history of when the living entity desired this. But the fact is that as soon as he desired it, he was put under the control of atma-maya by the direction of the Lord.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 2.9.1 Purport)

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A child is known to ask questions. They are discovering the world, after all. They will ask question after question, and if they are genuinely inquisitive they will remember the answers they get from the adults. The loving parent is more than happy to oblige, but sometimes the questions are difficult to answer. For example, what should the response be to, “Why are we here?”

This is the mystery to life itself. The child hasn’t even seen that much. Yet they want to know something that philosophers and great minds for thousands of years have pondered. Fortunately, Vedic philosophy does provide an answer. It doesn’t solve the mystery of time and space, which are both infinite, but there is at least something to chew on. The answer goes something like this:

“We are here because we wanted to be. This land is known as material. You, I and every other living thing are spiritual at the core. The land is material because each living thing gets covered up by things that don’t represent us. These things are composed of five different elements: earth, water, fire, air and ether.

“In a material existence, the coverings to spirit constantly change. This is how time operates. Nothing remains fixed. This property of the material world cannot be changed. It is intended to be this way. When a person wants to imitate God, they get sent here. When they no longer want to imitate, they get to return to His shelter. Therefore we are here right now because at some point in the past we were envious of the Almighty. We don’t know when it happened, but as long as we keep that envy we stay here.”

There is much more nuance and detail to this explanation. The lengthy Shrimad Bhagavatam should be consulted for more information. Indeed, the Bhagavatam is only one work of many in Vedic literature. It is not that the Vedas are the only religion having legitimacy, but they do provide the most information. Every religion describes the same God, but some offer more information about Him than others.

If you are a nice, kind and respectful person, when you first hear this you may be flabbergasted. “Did I really want to imitate God? I can’t believe that. I respect Him so much. I have believed in Him since childhood. I can’t imagine that we all rebelled in that way.” It’s sad, but a truth nonetheless.

The validity of a truth is not dependent on the acceptance of others. For instance, if I tell you that I saw the sun in the sky during the day, that is evidence enough to establish the fact. You can ask others for confirmation, just for your own satisfaction, but that testimony still doesn’t make what I said any more true. In the same way, the truth of the living entity spinning on the wheel of reincarnation due to rebelling against the Supreme Lord is fact enough based on the authority of Shri Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who describes such matters in the Bhagavad-gita.

tān ahaṁ dviṣataḥ krūrān

saṁsāreṣu narādhamān

kṣipāmy ajasram aśubhān

āsurīṣv eva yoniṣu

“Those who are envious and mischievous, who are the lowest among men, are cast by Me into the ocean of material existence, into various demoniac species of life.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 16.19)

image7Still, for our own peace of mind, we can get further confirmation elsewhere. Just look around. Take a tally of how many people actually worship the Supreme Lord in earnest. In the House of Representatives in the United States legislature, there is a post known as the Whip. Their job is to go around to each representative in the party and see how they will vote on a particular piece of legislation. This task is known as taking a whip count. It gives the leaders of the parties a better idea of whether or not to bring a piece of legislation to the floor of the House for a vote.

If you took a whip count of people who actually serve God with thought, word and deed, you would be resigned to the fact that everyone is doomed. Doomed here means stuck in the perpetual cycle of birth and death, which features acceptance and rejection of so many things in between. Therefore the proof is already before us. There is no need to make a detailed study of history. The present corroborates the past.

The truth presented by the Vedas is not meant to depress anyone. In fact, it is a great blessing for a person to even hear this truth, for so many go their entire lives without coming across it. Knowledge of this single truth is the key to happiness and peace of mind. Simply change the way you live. Keep working. There is no need to abandon that. Just change who is the primary beneficiary. Work for the Supreme Lord’s pleasure first.

The way to do this is know more about Him. The Vedas describe Him as all-attractive; hence the name Krishna. How lucky are we? The person we’re meant to serve is actually attractive in every aspect. This makes the service rewarding. His features are inexhaustible. That means if I serve Him today, I won’t get bored with that service after a few months. If I’m serving properly, my enthusiasm will only increase with time. This gradual rise is what purifies the consciousness. It is that consciousness which determines the next birth.

yaṁ yaṁ vāpi smaran bhāvaṁ

tyajaty ante kalevaram

taṁ tam evaiti kaunteya

sadā tad-bhāva-bhāvitaḥ

“Whatever state of being one remembers when he quits his body, that state he will attain without fail.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 8.6)

006730The change in consciousness is known as bhakti-yoga, or Krishna consciousness. The person who is fortunate enough to be in bhakti considers it to be a new life. Indeed, there is the symbolic entry into the new life known as diksha, or initiation. The first birth comes from the parents and the second from the spiritual guide, the guru. The guru has changed their consciousness long back, and they are kind enough to now help others to change theirs. The shift is worth it, as soon the “here” will be in the company of the Supreme Lord, who is joined by those who serve Him with love.

In Closing:

If legislation on House floor to mount,

Party whip first taking a count.


To see how many votes are there,

For chance of passage to become aware.


If poll of devotion to Krishna done the same,

Then seeing proof of how to this world we came.


Just a simple tweak to turn things around,

When in bhakti-yoga feet on solid ground.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Clock On The Wall Ticks Away The Hours

IMG_002314“Among the Daitya demons I am the devoted Prahlada; among subduers I am time; among the beasts I am the lion, and among birds I am Garuda, the feathered carrier of Vishnu.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 10.30)

prahlādaś cāsmi daityānāṁ

kālaḥ kalayatām aham

mṛgāṇāṁ ca mṛgendro 'haṁ

vainateyaś ca pakṣiṇām

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Who doesn’t get excited for their birthday? It’s a day where all the attention gets focused on you. If you are still relatively young, people will give you presents. Your parents might throw a party in your honor. People ask what you want to do. They try their best to be nicer to you. They want you to be happy. They want to make the day memorable.

Yet what exactly is a birthday? It commemorates the day in the calendar year when you first emerged from the womb. If that event occurred five years ago, it means that you have lived five years on the earth. You have survived that many number of years in a world that is difficult. In Sanskrit the material world is compared to a fort that is difficult to overcome; hence the name of Durga for the superintendent of that world.

His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, leaning on the teachings of the Bhagavad-gita and Vedic philosophy in general, gives a different perspective on the birthday. Instead of marking how many years the person has lived, he says that it represents how many years the person has died. Not trying to ruin the party, the reference is to bring awareness to the reality of time. The word for time in Sanskrit is kala. Interestingly, it is synonymous with death.

In the Bhagavad-gita, Shri Krishna says that among things that subdue He is time. Kala thus represents time, death and the Supreme Lord. It makes sense that if the Supreme Lord is the original cause of everything, sarva-karana-karanam, He would also be responsible for destruction. And destruction is guaranteed to happen. This is the real reason for the sober analysis by those versed in Vedic philosophy. Everything we see around us is destined for destruction. It is already gone in a sense. The moment of change is simply relying on the ticking of time. When time arrives, there is nothing that can be done to preserve that which is slated to change.

Yet isn’t this the precise reason for celebrating? We know that we aren’t going to live forever. We know that death can approach at any moment. That’s why we celebrate things like birthdays and wedding anniversaries. We know that time is a formidable foe. We are thankful on these days for time having spared us.

The wise take it a step further, however. If time will destroy everything, and I am currently situated in that time continuum, what is it that remains? I have maintained my identity through the many changes brought on by time that have occurred already. That means that I must continue to exist. The Bhagavad-gita confirms this.

na tv evāhaṁ jātu nāsaṁ

na tvaṁ neme janādhipāḥ

na caiva na bhaviṣyāmaḥ

sarve vayam ataḥ param

“Never was there a time when I did not exist, nor you, nor all these kings; nor in the future shall any of us cease to be.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.12)

If I am going to continue to persist as time passes, what should I do with myself? Is there something I can do that will not get destroyed? In fact, there is. Work for the Supreme Lord is unique. It does not fall under the jurisdiction of karma. Karma, the living entity, the material nature, time and the Supreme Controller – these topics are important to understand in a material existence. Karma is work the individual living entity does that manipulates the collection of material elements surrounding the soul. The change in those elements occurs through time, which is managed by the Supreme Controller.

The person who acts in devotion, however, is not affected by the material nature or time. They get the direct favor of the Supreme Controller, who rewards them with residence in His realm after death. Death is merely the changing of bodies, so the real meaning is that Shri Krishna facilitates the travel of His devotees from the fortress-like material realm to the open and free spiritual world.

Radha_Krishna_118You find time in that land, but it has no negative effect. It does not destroy the body. One description for Shri Krishna is nava-yauvanam. He is always fresh and new. The same applies to devotion to Him. A person can continue chanting the holy names for their entire life and not grow tired of it. There is no limit to the love kept in the heart of the devotee. They are compassion personified, and they get all good qualities through their devotion. The Supreme Lord kindly manipulates time so that it acts in their favor, making the existence blissful in any situation and any realm.

In Closing:

When time the birthday presenting,

Number of years died representing.


Though happy am I now to live,

Eventually up this body to give.


Work for permanent, is there a way?

Where efforts into future to stay.


Devotional path, by time Himself controlled,

Best destination for devoted soul to unfold.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Helping Them Understand

IMG_302918“Man can go on speculating for several millions of years, and if he is not devoted, if he is not a lover of the Supreme Truth, he will never understand Krishna or the Supreme Truth. Only by devotional service is the Supreme Truth, Krishna, pleased, and by His inconceivable energy He can reveal Himself to the heart of the pure devotee.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 10.11 Purport)

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In the job marketplace, experience typically equates to knowledge. Experience is also used as justification for a higher salary. After all, if a person has been doing a job for many years, they should be better at it than someone who doesn’t have as much experience. The person who has studied a subject matter for many years gets respect. They may appear on a documentary with the “expert” title appended to their name.

It makes sense to give someone this level of respect. If I have not spent many years researching a particular topic, I obviously won’t know as much about it as someone who has. From time alone, they have been exposed to different viewpoints, to the important aspects of the topic. Though time gets you respect in this way in the material world, in spiritual life even millions of years of research can lead you right back where you started: ignorance.

The reason is that the objective in spiritual life is to understand someone who is impossible to know through the senses. If I’m studying history, I’m basically learning about events that took place. Just from answering the questions of who, what, where, when, why and how, I can pretty much get the full picture of what happened at a particular point in time. If science is my area of expertise, I have instruments to use for conducting experiments; doing measurements, making hypotheses and the like. If I am an expert at using a specific technology, I can prove my worth through exercises.

There is a Sanskrit word in the Vedas that describes God as being beyond measurements. The word is Adhokshaja. By definition this means that a person cannot be an expert on the topic of God using only research. For starters there is the issue of time. It is infinite in both directions. Not everything about time has been recorded. Moreover, the human brain is not capable of storing all of the information necessary to get a grasp. Even if it were, there is the issue of processing. If you’re an expert on the American Revolution, you need to only study several decades of events at most. If you’re an expert on Adhokshaja, you’d have to study millions and millions of years.

Even then you wouldn’t know Him. He is beyond the senses. He is greater than time and space, which are both infinite. You can speculate about Him for as long as you want, but you’ll never come to know Him in truth that way. You may realize bits and pieces about Him, such as the fact that He exists and that He is the origin of everything. You may even realize that every living being is part and parcel of Him, belonging to a singular, undivided spiritual energy.

sarva-bhūteṣu yenaikaṁ

bhāvam avyayam īkṣate

avibhaktaṁ vibhakteṣu

taj jñānaṁ viddhi sāttvikam

“That knowledge by which one undivided spiritual nature is seen in all existences, undivided in the divided, is knowledge in the mode of goodness.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 18.20)

Still, the only way to know Him in truth is through devotional service. The reason is that only in devotion does the Supreme Lord offer help. With speculation there is a hint of envy. The living being is trying to proudly understand the Almighty on their own. If they can successfully do so, their false ego will become even more inflated. They will think that they have conquered the unconquerable.

This challenging attitude is the reason for birth in the material world. It is sad to admit, but at some point in the past we wanted to compete with the Supreme Lord. We wanted to be like Him in the areas of creation, maintenance and destruction. Because of that attitude we fell to the material world, where we live at present. If we have trouble believing this, we can look to the limited popularity of genuine spiritual life for evidence. As long as one continues to stay away from devotional service, they will remain in the material world.

teṣām evānukampārtham

aham ajñāna-jaṁ tamaḥ

nāśayāmy ātma-bhāva-stho

jñāna-dīpena bhāsvatā

“Out of compassion for them, I, dwelling in their hearts, destroy with the shining lamp of knowledge the darkness born of ignorance.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 10.11)

Remaining here means not being able to understand God. In the Bhagavad-gita, Shri Krishna says that He helps those who want to come to Him. Those who engage in devotion get help from within through the Supersoul. This is Krishna’s expansion that resides within the heart of every living thing. They also get help from the outside. This comes from the spiritual master, who is the bona fide representative of Adhokshaja.

IMG_302930The person helping on the outside shines the light on the path of devotion. They reveal that the Supreme can never be understood through mental speculation alone. In mental speculation, the illusory energy known as maya continues to act. Where there is maya there cannot be complete knowledge of the person who is not maya, i.e. Krishna. In bhakti-yoga, there is a sincere desire to love and serve God, who kindly obliges by helping the devotee understand Him. The person who knows Krishna has nothing else to learn, which makes bhakti-yoga the superior path to tread in life.

In Closing:

With speculation alone time to fill,

A hint of envy there is still.


Thus in this path no way to know,

Despite years of pondering so.


Only when in devotional path setting,

Then help from guru and God getting.


Knowledge for bhakta needed no more,

Krishna saving from speculation’s tour.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Five Things Hanuman Tells Us About Rama

hanuman_chanting13“He is fully resplendent, highly honored, and situated in the vow of brahmacharya. He knows how to help the sadhus and He knows how to popularize good actions.” (Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 35.12)

arciṣmān arcito atyartham brahma carya vrate sthitaḥ |
sādhūnām upakārajñaḥ pracārajñaḥ ca karmaṇām ||

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The Supreme Lord is difficult to be known. This is one of the reasons for His having the name Adhokshaja. The Sanskrit word means “one who cannot be measured by instruments.” In track and field, we know who the “fastest man in the world” is based on the time it takes to complete a specific race. In other words, there is a measurement needed to apply greatness. A college degree is a way to measure a potential employee’s intelligence. The passing grade on a medical school exam is one way to tell if a student is worthy of entry.

What to do if the person you’re assessing is beyond measurement? There is only one person that meets this description, and fortunately they are kind enough to still give us some idea of their greatness. They appear in the earthly realm every now and then and display features and behavior that allow us to make comparisons. In other words, we can understand God through His descents known as avataras. Here are some notable facts about Shri Rama, as described by Hanuman one time while speaking to Rama’s wife Sita.

1. He is fully resplendent

The most resplendent object we know of is the sun. Nothing can be hotter. Nothing can provide more light. The sun is so important that it is worshiped in many traditions of spirituality. In Vedic culture it is known as Surya-deva. The person accepting the post of Surya differs in each creation. The Bhagavad-gita mentions the person known as Vivasvan.

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

Shri Rama is fully resplendent, or archisman. He has more light than the sun. In His original home, there is no need for lighting or electricity for this very reason. As the sun gets worshiped for its splendor, the same holds true for Rama. He is even more deserving.

2. He is highly honored

Rama has three younger brothers: Bharata, Lakshmana and Shatrughna. Lakshmana one time remarked that even the people who were punished in Ayodhya held Rama in high esteem. Rama is the eldest son of King Dasharatha of Ayodhya. The kings during that time period were like the police. They were in charge of both making the laws and enforcing them. It would make sense for a criminal to be upset at law enforcement, but Rama was so highly respected that even the apprehended liked Him. Wherever Rama goes He is honored, which is another indication that He is God.

3. He is situated in the vow of brahmacharya

Vedic culture divides the typical lifespan into four spiritual institutions, or ashramas. The first is known as brahmacharya, and it is equated with student life. The foundation of this ashrama is the lack of sex life. Since this is very difficult for adults to do, it is ideal for youngsters. The more you can stay away from the biggest distraction in material life, the more quickly you will advance in consciousness.

Hanuman mentions brahmacharya for a reason. At the time Rama was living in the forest with Sita and Lakshmana. Sita was taken away in secret by the evil king named Ravana. Sita was so beautiful that Ravana had to have her. Yet Rama lived with the very same beautiful woman for almost fourteen years and still maintained the vow of brahmacharya. Only the Supreme Lord can do this. Only He has full mastery over the senses.

4. He knows how to help the sadhus

Ravana was a Rakshasa, which is an ogre-like creature. The Rakshasas were concentrated in the city of Lanka, and for sport they would hunt religious men, known as sadhus. The Rakshasas would attack in the dark of night, hidden through changing their shapes. The sadhus had no other recourse but to ask Rama for help.

ananyāś cintayanto māṁ

ye janāḥ paryupāsate

teṣāṁ nityābhiyuktānāṁ

yoga-kṣemaṁ vahāmy aham

“But those who worship Me with devotion, meditating on My transcendental form - to them I carry what they lack and preserve what they have.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.22)

The Supreme Lord knows how to help those who are genuinely spiritual. In this instance He carried His bow and arrows and eliminated the attacking Rakshasas. He protected the sacrifices of the sages. In other words, if you are genuinely interested in having the Supreme Lord’s association, He will provide help. In the Bhagavad-gita He promises to give what is lacking and preserve what is already there.

5. Rama knows how to popularize good actions

The Sanskrit word of significance is prachara. This word has several meanings, such as publicity, conduct and application. Rama knows how to conduct the right actions, and He knows how to make those actions visible to others. Not that He is a shameless self-promoter, but He wants others to advance. He knows that good conduct is the way to transcendence. The foundation of good conduct is detachment from sense enjoyment. Whenever required, Rama would give up something important for the good of others.

By mentioning this, Hanuman is subtly bringing up the most well-known occasion where Rama popularized good conduct. Rama left the kingdom of Ayodhya for fourteen years. He did this to preserve the good name of His father. Rama did not have to do this. Lakshmana wanted Rama to stay home and take over the throne by force if necessary. Lakshmana argued that the father had lost his mind. Still, Rama held to good conduct and showed others that following righteous people is always beneficial in the end.

hanuman_chanting30Rama is the most righteous person, and so He is the most worthy of worship. Shri Hanuman has an impeccable character, and he knows Rama very well. For this reason he continues to worship Rama and carry out His orders. The testimony of Hanuman is evidence enough of Rama’s divinity and the need for taking up bhakti-yoga, the highest occupation for man.

In Closing:

If education on Rama wish to earn,

From Hanuman’s words just learn.


That Lord most resplendent of all,

Highly honored by the saints to call.


Even with beautiful wife of Sita the name,

In brahmacharya from sex life to refrain.


By His arrows the sadhus protected,

Through His example righteousness projected.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Some Day You’ll Need Our Help My Friend

murlidhara_PH63_l17“Whatever state of being one remembers when he quits his body, that state he will attain without fail.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 8.6)

yaṁ yaṁ vāpi smaran bhāvaṁ

tyajaty ante kalevaram

taṁ tam evaiti kaunteya

sadā tad-bhāva-bhāvitaḥ

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It’s the doubt raised by students ever since there has been school.

“When are we going to need to know this stuff? I don’t see adults tackling these questions. They probably don’t remember any of this. Why, then, are you teaching it to us? Why do we have to spend hours at home studying this? How is it important enough for you to spend so much time teaching it to us?”

In many cases, it is not the subject matter exactly that will be needed later on, but rather the techniques used in understanding it. For instance, to solve word problems in mathematics requires patience and thoroughness. You have to think about what is being asked, gather the facts, and then develop a plan for reaching a solution. The routine for reaching a solution is known as an algorithm. Life is about problem solving. No matter the occupation in adulthood, there will be problems. If they are not solved properly, the problems linger and multiply.

The Bhagavad-gita, the ancient Vedic text that translates to “the song of God,” has many details that would appear to be irrelevant to the person struggling through a material existence. We learn that in the spiritual world there is no need for electricity. The naturally effulgent body of the Supreme Lord accounts for the lighting. His body is brighter than anything we know, even the sun.

That’s fine and dandy, but we don’t live in the spiritual world right now. We already have electricity. During the nighttime we can turn on lights, and during the daytime we have the sun. Who cares about the spiritual world, then? The Bhagavad-gita also says that the living being is not their body. The embodied soul continually passes through changes in that body, from boyhood to youth and to old age. At the time of death, the soul similarly passes into another body.

dehino 'smin yathā dehe

kaumāraṁ yauvanaṁ jarā

tathā dehāntara-prāptir

dhīras tatra na muhyati

“As the embodied soul continually passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. The self-realized soul is not bewildered by such a change.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.13)

Again, to the living person, what use does this knowledge serve? We are living right now. We should worry about death when the time approaches. Ah, but that is the catch! In the material world nothing is fixed. Death can come at any moment. Another relevant fact revealed in the Bhagavad-gita is that the consciousness at the time of death determines the type of body in the next birth. The consciousness proceeds in a manner similar to how the air carries aromas.

śarīraṁ yad avāpnoti

yac cāpy utkrāmatīśvaraḥ

gṛhītvaitāni saṁyāti

vāyur gandhān ivāśayāt

“The living entity in the material world carries his different conceptions of life from one body to another as the air carries aromas.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 15.8)

Every person has consciousness. This is the primary symptom of a living thing. Dull matter lacks consciousness. Every person is an individual covered by a material body. Everyone is influenced by time and karma [fruitive activity]. Therefore the facts of the Bhagavad-gita have relevance across the full spectrum of the population. Even if a person is disinterested in learning such topics, eventually the truths will become applicable to their situation. It is like the teacher telling the student, “One day you’ll need this stuff. You may not appreciate what I am teaching you now, but someday you’ll be glad that I taught this to you.”

Since ages past the message of the Bhagavad-gita has been carried by benevolent souls looking to rescue the distressed, the bewildered, and the confused. Narada Muni is one of the more famous carriers. He is the spiritual master to Valmiki, who authored the epic Ramayana. He is the guru to Vyasadeva, who compiled the majority of Vedic literature. The disciple may not always be receptive at the beginning. Irrespective the reception, the aid offered by the representatives of God is always relevant. Some time may have to pass before the importance of the instructions is realized, but those instructions are always needed; they are lifesaving.

murlidhara_PH63_l31The spirit soul continues to live on. Nothing can destroy it. Death applies to the body only. When we say the knowledge of the Bhagavad-gita is lifesaving, the meaning is that future births in a material body can be spared. The individual doesn’t have to swing between like and hate forever. They don’t have to remain in the dark about their true identity. They can receive the highest wisdom right now, today, provided they are sincere in their willingness to understand. If they are sincere, then the self-effulgent Krishna sends help in the way of a spiritual master, who delivers the flawless, pristine, and evergreen message of Godhead.

In Closing:

Though right value in it now not seen,

Know that Gita’s philosophy is evergreen.


Like with mathematics process learning from,

So that proficiency in bigger problems some.


Truth of spirit soul and body’s changing,

Relevance from young to old ranging.


With sincerity just be genuine at the start,

Then guru to you from Vaikuntha to depart.

Monday, March 7, 2016

18 Is Actually 9

pt25424“That abode of Mine is not illumined by the sun or moon, nor by electricity. One who reaches it never returns to this material world.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 15.6)

na tad bhāsayate sūryo

na śaśāṅko na pāvakaḥ

yad gatvā na nivartante

tad dhāma paramaṁ mama

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The spiritual world is an amazing place, like one we have never witnessed in our memory. Concepts that are unfathomable exist there in perpetuity. Indeed, perpetuity itself gets preserved, stretching time and space beyond what the material brain can conceive. One way that the spiritual world is amazing is through lighting. It is always illuminated, though there is no sun.

The light comes from the transcendental body of the proprietor of that land. The term “God” is one way that we know Him, but that word is insufficient; it does not tell the whole story. He is much more than a supreme being. He has a form that is visible, provided a person has the set of eyes necessary to see it. Just as a microscope allows viewing tiny particles that otherwise seem invisible, God is smaller than the smallest, pervading every single space. And just as the binoculars help in seeing detail in objects far away in the distance, the Supreme Lord is extremely large. The image of the entire universe, also known as the virata-rupa, is one way to understand Him.

ihaika-sthaṁ jagat kṛtsnaṁ

paśyādya sa-carācaram

mama dehe guḍākeśa

yac cānyad draṣṭum icchasi

“Whatever you wish to see can be seen all at once in this body. This universal form can show you all that you now desire, as well as whatever you may desire in the future. Everything is here completely.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 11.7)

pt25439The spiritual world consists of many planets, and in the highest one the proprietor is known as Krishna. This Sanskrit word means “all-attractive.” Krishna is naturally effulgent. He makes the ornaments on His body look better instead of the other way around. Another aspect of Krishna is that He never loses anything. In His land, one minus one can actually equal one. A person can have complete faith and trust in Krishna, and through His association the completeness can grow further.

These contradictory concepts do not exist in the material world, which is our home at present. It must be acknowledged, however, that the attempt is made to make truths out of contradictions, to create certainty from a paradox. As an example, we know that the number eighteen is not nine. Still, a person can think that eighteen is nine. A lawyer is so trained that they will say and do whatever they can to win the case for the client. In the court of law, they will try to make the text of the statutes in question mean something completely different, provided that the twisted meaning will favor them.

Another example in modern times is the popular story in the media. A narrative gets created off of the initial reports. These reports are just that, initial. They don’t tell everything. Then outrage from the public ensues. Later on, after a real investigation, the facts reveal that something entirely different occurred. The real story is not a cause for outrage. Yet the people who were first disturbed refuse to accept the facts. They think the fiction is the truth, and the truth fiction.

image7This kind of thinking is the product of maya, or illusion. The influence of maya begins from the time of birth, when the living entity takes their body to be their basis for identification. The attributes to that body change with time, so identity is also a living, breathing thing. If a person doesn’t like their identity, they can change things about it.

Despite what changes occur, the true identity remains the same. Maya prevents the living entity from seeing that they are spirit soul, transcendental to the transformation of the covering to that soul. The same type of soul is there in all creatures, large and small, moving and nonmoving. Thus there is a oneness through the variety of living conditions. Everyone in the material world is suffering from the effects of maya.

Just as the light from the body of Krishna illuminates the spiritual world, it can provide such a brightness in the material world that maya’s influence becomes nothing. The key is to find that association, cherish it, and then continue to hold on to it. Since it is so common to today equate eighteen with nine, or make adharma out of dharma, the most effective way to bring the association of the Divine is through the sound of His names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. The name Krishna and the person Krishna are the same, an apparent contradiction worth pondering.

In Closing:

From initial news reports to receive,

Why later on the actual truth to believe?


Not exactly what in statute I saw,

As lawyer twisting truth in court of law.


Eighteen nine actually can be,

In Krishna’s spiritual land to see.


Holy name and person identical says tradition,

Worth pondering over this contradiction.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Permanent Happiness

image11“As explained in Bhagavad-gita (15.7), manah-shashthanindriyani prakriti-sthani karshati. When the mind and senses are engaged in material activities, one has to continue his material existence and struggle to attain happiness. In each and every life one is engaged in the struggle to become happy. Actually no one in this material world is happy, but the struggle gives a false sense of happiness.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 4.28.20 Purport)

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There is no happiness in the material world. Sure, there are the little joys in life. Taking a nap after a long day at the office. Coming home and being surprised with a meal cooked with love by your spouse. Taking a vacation to an exotic destination to get away from the grind of everyday life. Watching your children succeed at something very dear to them.

Vedic philosophy makes the distinction between material and spiritual life. Material life is what we know by default; it’s what we’ve lived ever since we can remember. In scientific terms, it is residence in a land where spirit gets covered up. You and I are spirit at the core, and what distinguishes us is the material covering. That covering is composed of five gross elements and three subtle ones.

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)

Another way to understand material life is to think of a pendulum that swings back and forth. At one end is happiness and at the other is distress. One end is wanting something and the other is rejecting. The reason happiness is not permanent is because we’re always finding situations that are unpleasant.

As an example, take a flight to a foreign land. One airline offers direct service, while another makes a short stop en route. We try the direct flight and it seems okay. The only problem is that it is crowded with people who tend to have no respect for personal space. Therefore, the next time we try the flight with the layover. The flying experience is better, but the total time of travel is greater, and so we are more tired when reaching the final destination.

Another example that shows how happiness is not permanent is computer programming. Let’s say that I have a system that gets updated with information coming over in files on a daily basis. I have a program to load these files manually, but I want to automate the procedure. The program allows for this. The only issue is with picking up the files and processing them on time.

I write another program that handles so many different cases. From files named the same each day to those that have an irregular naming convention, I think I have all my bases covered. This automation script is pretty awesome, I think. Then one day someone comes along who breaks everything. They send files for a specific day but with a naming convention for a previous day. And sometimes they send multiple sets of files. The automation still works, but it’s not perfect.

Indeed, the steady stream of releases of new smartphones and operating system upgrades proves the same point. Material life is constant adjustment, with each convenience introducing an inconvenience. Permanent happiness is only possible in spiritual life, which is nicely explained in the Bhagavad-gita. Spiritual life, not surprisingly, deals with the spirit soul. That soul is always blissful, despite what the externals relating to the body might say.

na tad bhāsayate sūryo

na śaśāṅko na pāvakaḥ

yad gatvā na nivartante

tad dhāma paramaṁ mama

“That abode of Mine is not illumined by the sun or moon, nor by electricity. One who reaches it never returns to this material world.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 15.6)

image3The happiness for the soul comes in a different land, namely the spiritual world. That place is illuminated by the body of the Supreme Spirit. There is no need for external lighting. The sun is not required there. Everything is already provided for, so there is no need for constant adjustment, either.

The permanent happiness is the result of a permanent engagement. We can get a taste of that happiness through trying out that engagement even while in the material world. That endless occupation is known as bhakti-yoga, or devotional service. This work is for the pleasure of someone else. It is not a way to please the senses necessarily, as the service continues without a requirement for reciprocation.

In simpler terms, love God with all your heart and continue to serve Him no matter what. Create an attachment to Him and strengthen it through learning more about Him. Apply your intellect, ask every question you have, so that no doubts remain. Extend faith in the beginning, but gradually see how that faith turns into assuredness in the validity of the path.

ananyāś cintayanto māṁ

ye janāḥ paryupāsate

teṣāṁ nityābhiyuktānāṁ

yoga-kṣemaṁ vahāmy aham

“But those who worship Me with devotion, meditating on My transcendental form - to them I carry what they lack and preserve what they have.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.22)

image25Practice bhakti-yoga by always chanting the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. Adjust things in your life so that you’re practicing as much devotion as possible. The added benefit is that the Supreme Lord Himself offers help to the sincere soul. To them He carries what they lack and preserves what they have. In the end, He brings them the permanent happiness that has eluded them for so long.

In Closing:

Happiness that eluded for so long,

To come simply through a song.


The maha-mantra faithfully to chant,

Remove obstacles, cry not that you can’t.


Then seeing something different and new,

Happiness, permanent like you never knew.


Illuminated spiritual world to you coming,

In endless service satisfied becoming.