Saturday, March 19, 2016

Does God Remember Me

IMG_073132“Seeing those ornaments while keeping them in His lap, that Lord, appearing like God Himself, lamented in many ways.” (Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 35.40)

tāni anke darśanīyāni kṛtvā bahu vidham tataḥ |
tena deva prakāśena devena paridevitam ||

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Bhakti-yoga is love and devotion. It is pure love, or prema, as it is not tied to the senses at all. If I say that I love someone, it usually means that I am affectionate towards them because of what they do for me, and only at the moment. It’s like a reciprocal agreement. If they were to shun me, chastise me, spurn me through choosing someone else, my purported love likely wouldn’t stay for long.

Bhakti is different. It is unadulterated; at least in its ideal form. Only God the person can be on the receiving end of bhakti. Only He is capable of accepting unending service. As far as explicit bhakti-yoga practice, the goal is to think of God more and more. Consciousness is how to measure advancement. A person can be chanting the holy names on their prayer beads throughout the day, but it doesn’t necessarily mean they are advancing. They can be thinking about eating pizza or sleeping comfortably in the night. Who or what is in their consciousness is what determines if bhakti is flourishing.

What about on the other side? Does God remain conscious of the devotees? Does He remember those who think about Him constantly? Is there a way to tell? For starters, He is full and pure consciousness. For Him there is no difference between body and soul. For Him there is no such thing as a material covering or sense objects that delude the consciousness. He is complete purity. Though He seemingly has no hands and legs, He can grab anything from anywhere. He can run faster than the wind. He hears everything as well.

“Generally there will be affection for that which is visible. And for that which is not visible there is no affection. The ungrateful are capable of destroying their affection in this way, but not Rama.” (Sita Devi, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 26.43)

IMG_073131God accomplishes omnipresence through the expansion of the Supersoul. This means that He is the witness to everything. Still, the Supersoul is nirguna to our eyes. It is without form. It is unmanifest. How can we tell if something unmanifest is capable of remembering? To alleviate our concerns, we can look to the saguna form. Indeed, there is no difference between the two, as God is always with transcendental qualities. That is why the Sanskrit word guna is translated as “glories” when discussing the Supreme Lord. He is nirguna and saguna to our eyes, but in fact He is always with a transcendental form.

In the above referenced verse from the Ramayana, we see God remembering His devotee. How is He doing this? In a variety of ways He is remembering. The ornaments resting on His lap are facilitating a kind of time-travel, back to when He was in the association of the devotee being remembered.

The form of God referenced here is Shri Rama and the devotee Sita Devi. Rama is God Himself and Sita the goddess of fortune, who is the eternal consort of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Rama always remembers Sita and she Him, but this incident gives a tangible example to remove any doubts we may have.

Hanuman is describing these events to Sita. He says that when Rama held Sita’s ornaments in His lap, He lamented in various ways. He lamented because He remembered how wonderful she is, how devoted she is to Him, and how she must be suffering since she was separated from Him. Her devotion was not in vain. She never asked anything of Rama, and she was always dear to Him. She did not follow Him to the forest to gain notoriety. She was not looking to win the wife of the year award or anything like it.

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)

Rama---Lakshmana---Janaki11Rama always appreciates even a small gesture in devotion. When a person abandons everything for Him, He never forgets them. He steps out of the role of impartiality in the Supersoul and takes action in a personal form to secure their welfare. In this way the person aspiring to purify their consciousness through bhakti-yoga should be reassured that God is indeed remembering them. He keeps a record of their devotional efforts, and He preserves what they have and carries what they lack.

In Closing:

In bhakti advancement to come,

When keeping focus on Lord one.


Outside distractions away to drive,

For fixed remembrance of God to strive.


How about for the other side,

What thoughts in Shri Rama to reside?


In saguna form reciprocation giving,

By in lamentation when away from Sita living.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Time Standing Still

Devoted-to-Rama-300dpi17“Those jewels which were offered to Rama, delivered by me, dispersed on the ground and made a sound, as He lost consciousness.” (Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 35.39)

tāni rāmāya dattāni mayā eva upahṛtāni ca |
svanavanti avakīrṇanti tasmin vihata cetasi ||

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Wouldn’t it be nice to make a moment last forever? Obviously, it would have to be something pleasant. In the temporary enjoyment found in the material world, a person often knows that something good won’t remain for too long. Preparing themselves, they say something like, “I am going to savor this. I want to soak it all in.”

How do you bring back the association of someone you have lost? Especially if that person is dear to you, is there a way to again experience what it was like to be in their company? The above referenced verse from the Ramayana gives us one way. Somehow time has stood still for Shri Rama, the person who is time Himself. This has happened through receiving ornaments belonging to His beloved wife, Sita Devi. The experience is real, as just from seeing the ornaments Rama has lost consciousness.

If you visit museums and archives in the cities of Philadelphia and Washington in the United States, you can find objects dating back to the time of the founding of the country. There are the original documents themselves, like the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, and there are things relating to notable personalities of that era, such as Benjamin Franklin and George Washington.

image6The purpose of seeing these items is to in some way transport back to an important time in history. In the spiritual tradition of the Vedas, the same kinds of objects can be found. The objects date back much further and they remind the individual of the amazing potency of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. That potency is used directly in this earthly realm for the benefit of those who serve Him in thought, word and deed.

For instance, one can find a rock belonging to Govardhana Hill. This is a massive landmark in the town of Vrindavana. The rock is so important that it actually gets worshiped. It seems silly to the outsider, but the person whose eyes are anointed with the salve of devotion, premanjana, can directly travel back in time through the vision of this rock.

From worshiping the Govardhana-shila they see the Supreme Lord in His all-attractive and original form of Shri Krishna. They see Him lifting Govardhana Hill to save the residents of Vrindavana. They witness directly, as if given spiritual television, Krishna holding up the hill with the least powerful finger on the typically non-dominant hand. Under the massive umbrella of the uplifted hill is protection. There is security combined with bliss. Just outside that umbrella is danger. There is a devastating flood caused by a torrential downpour. The close proximity of the danger makes the shelter underneath the umbrella all the more soothing.

lifting_govardhana_hill_pastime14In the timeline of the earth, that incident took place some five thousand years ago. Yet the person worshiping the Govardhana-shila relives that incident at any time. They can relive it every single day, in fact. It is not like viewing old pictures, where a person may look at them a few times over the course of many decades. The amazing devouring enemy of material enjoyment that is time can be conquered only by the association of the Supreme Lord.

In this verse from the Ramayana, something similar has happened. This is God teaching that the objects of His devotees are also in a way non-different from them. Sita Devi went missing in the forest of Dandaka. She was in the company of her dear husband Rama, who is the same Krishna. In the search for Sita, Rama met up with Vanaras in Kishkindha. They had briefly seen Sita from afar when she was being carried away by force by the wicked-minded Ravana. Some of her ornaments fell from the aerial car, and the Vanaras gathered them for safekeeping.

In this verse Hanuman is speaking to Sita many months later. He is relating to her how he himself brought the ornaments to Rama to look at. Upon seeing them, Rama lost consciousness. This is because He was immediately reminded of their time together. Rama is not attached to His wife in the typical way. She is not a vehicle for sense enjoyment that makes a person forgetful of the righteous path. Rather, Sita is so dear to Rama because of her faithful service. Rama remembers that service by seeing her ornaments and He is overwhelmed just by thinking of Sita’s dedication to Him.

rd_111Sita and Rama are the best couple to remember. Hanuman’s devotion that continues to this day attests to the fact. He remembers through singing their names constantly. He loves to hear about them by reading from the Ramayana. Since he sees them in others through the devotional potency, he likes to inspire people to come to the devotional path by speaking of Sita and Rama. In this way time can always stand still for the devotees, who relish the association of the person whose association is most desired.

In Closing:

From an ornament taking in hand,

Time finally still to stand.


Since now to previous memory going back,

Bringing association of person to lack.


Rama when seeing ornaments in this way,

Hanuman this incident later to Sita to say.


Lord’s image in their heart always keeping,

His association life’s best reward reaping.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Reminded Of Unalloyed Devotion

Devoted-to-Rama-cover-300dpi14“Those jewels which were offered to Rama, delivered by me, dispersed on the ground and made a sound, as He lost consciousness.” (Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 35.39)

tāni rāmāya dattāni mayā eva upahṛtāni ca |
svanavanti avakīrṇanti tasmin vihata cetasi ||

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The famous golden avatara, Shri Krishna Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, is a combined incarnation. He is both Shri Krishna and Shrimati Radharani, the eternal consort of the Supreme Lord. There is no difference between the two since one is the served and the other offers the service. The interest is identical. The ideal picture of male and female bonded in true love is Radha and Krishna.

BL1ggEWkKGrHqIOKj4Ewgg9yY7BMNVQHV5JgLord Chaitanya is Krishna Himself appearing on earth in the mood of Radha. That mood is intense love and affection through separation. The daughter of Vrishabhanu loves Krishna so much that the Supreme Lord has no way of properly reciprocating. Her emotion seems impossible to understand, as well. Lord Chaitanya gave glimpses of that affection to others by reacting in certain ways when presented with different aspects of Krishna.

Chaitanya Mahaprabhu has said that as Krishna is worshipable, so is His land. This is the true meaning of advaita, or non-duality. Anything that exists is related to God in some way. Nothing is completely divorced from Him. The land belonging to Him that is worshipable has a direct relation; it is identical to Him. For instance, Krishna once lifted the massive Govardhana Hill in Vrindavana. This was after He temporarily assumed the identity of the hill to inform the villagers who had just worshiped it that He was satisfied.

image6When devotees see a rock that is from that hill, they feel intense emotion. This is because they are immediately reminded of Krishna. The same goes for the tamala tree, which Radharani used to embrace since its color matches the complexion of Krishna’s beautiful body. By seeing the deity, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu would sometimes faint in ecstasy. His displays of emotion were genuine; they were not merely a show to get attention.

In the above referenced verse from the Ramayana, the situation is reversed. Here the Supreme Lord is seeing something that belongs to the eternal consort and losing consciousness as a result. The cause of the reaction is the same, however. There is intense affection. There is a strong emotion through separation. The same Krishna is on earth as Ramachandra, the prince of Ayodhya. Radharani is appearing as Sita Devi, the devoted and chaste wife.

Hanuman has brought Sita’s ornaments for Rama to see. Upon receiving them, they fell from Rama’s possession and made a tinkling sound. The ornaments were non-different from the beloved wife, who had previously gone missing in the forest of Dandaka. Hanuman and the Vanaras were there to help Rama. They wanted to reunite the beautiful couple, who live eternally in the spiritual land of Vaikuntha as Lakshmi Devi and Narayana.

One of the central teachings of Vedic philosophy is detachment. Be detached from the objects of attachment in this world. For the male, the strongest attachment is towards the female. Love as we know it is described as kama in Sanskrit. The proper translation for this word is “lust.” A more detailed definition is “enjoyment that is separate from the constitutional position of the spirit soul: service to God.”

The illicit association of the female is the strongest inhibiting force for the individual who is sincere in their desire to progress in consciousness. Therefore sex life is prohibited or restricted in all phases of life in the ideal system of the four ashramas. The students, the retired people, and the wandering ascetics all are to refrain from sex life completely. The married man can engage in it with his wife, but only for the purpose of procreation.

These rules are instituted for the benefit of the individual. They are not a way to punish, to prevent having fun in life. Indeed, the greatest ecstasy is to feel separation pain from the Supreme Lord, in the manner of Radha towards Krishna. In Rama’s case, does His pain due to separation from Sita show weakness? Should not He be detached from women, especially since He is supposed to set the ideal example for others to follow?

Actually, the relationship between Rama and Sita is in dharma, which is religiosity or virtue. It is not in kama. Moreover, there is no such thing as maya, or illusion, for the Supreme Lord. When He feels affection, it is always in a pure form. There is no duality in Him, so He can never fall into illusion.

edited_Devoted-to-Rama-300dpi---CopyNevertheless, even while setting an example for others He does not fall from the righteous principles. He feels intense affection for Sita, but that affection does not take Him off of the virtuous path. This incident shows that the Supreme Lord reciprocates affection. He is the best well-wishing friend to all creatures, but especially to those who acknowledge Him to be their lone source of sustenance. Rama is Sita’s prana-natha, or the lord of her life-breath. She is so dear to Him, and when He sees her ornaments He is reminded of her unalloyed devotion.

In Closing:

Sita’s ornaments in His hand to find,

Of her unalloyed devotion to remind.


How wherever always following behind,

With disposition gentle, sweet and kind.


Love the Supreme Lord never in vain,

His full reciprocation assured to gain.


Shri Rama always treading righteous path,

Never suffering from lust, anger or wrath.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Feeling Sorry For The Divine

WelcomingRamaLakshmana_cover12“Hearing the words spoken by Lakshmana, the king of monkeys became excessively gloomy, like the sun being overcome by a bad star.” (Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 35.36)

sa śrutvā vānara indraḥ tu lakṣmaṇena īritam vacaḥ |
tadā āsīn niṣprabho atyartham graha grasta iva aṃśumān ||

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The ever-wise Shri Hanuman here makes a subtle reference to the true nature of the king of Vanaras in Kishkindha. Sugriva is no ordinary personality, as proven by his association with the Supreme Lord Rama. Sugriva appeared on earth as the son of the sun-god. As the sun is full of luster, so was Sugriva. That changed briefly when he heard about Shri Rama’s grief, which was due to separation from Sita Devi, the goddess of fortune.

How can God be in grief? If Shri Rama is indeed an incarnation of the Supreme Lord, shouldn’t it mean that He is above sadness? The strongest force to cause grief is the loss of association of something or someone cherished. Sadly, that is the guaranteed outcome for every person appearing in this world. The wise know that everything will go away eventually. I can’t take my favorite pen with me to the other world. More importantly, I survived long before I came in contact with that pen. I can actually live without any specific object. Surely God Himself must be aware of all of this.

Rama is actually an avatara, which means “one who descends.” He does not necessarily incarnate, as there is no interaction with the material elements. His actions are like those of an expert actor on a stage. Kunti Devi once remarked on this fact when addressing Shri Krishna, who is the same Rama but appearing on earth in a different time.

“Being beyond the range of limited sense perception [adhokshaja], You are the eternally irreproachable factor covered by the curtain of deluding energy. You are invisible to the foolish observer, exactly as an actor dressed as a player is not recognized.” (Queen Kunti speaking to Lord Krishna, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 1.8.19)

Devoted-to-Rama-300dpi12When Rama is in grief over separation from His wife Sita Devi, it is a display of affection. Pure love is equivalent with God. Pure love is bhakti, which is the same as the Supreme Lord since it brings His association. Rama loves those who are devoted to Him. One way to show affection is to be grief-stricken upon separation.

That show of grief also serves another purpose. It ignites the flame of devotion which is found in every single being. Indeed, pity for someone dear is often what leads to strong support. You may say bad things about me and I won’t mind. If you speak ill of my dog, however, I will get angry. The harsh words don’t even have to be directed at someone I know personally. Fans of sports teams argue in support of their players after hearing negative remarks. The fans have likely never met these players, yet they feel compelled to stand up to what they consider to be unfair treatment.

Sugriva saw Rama’s grief firsthand. Through the work of Hanuman, Rama became a friend to Sugriva. Thus the leader of the Vanaras in Kishkindha became very gloomy, like the sun being overpowered by an inauspicious star. This happens during an eclipse, which is noteworthy considering how potent the sun is. Sugriva was just as potent, coming from the sun-god himself. Yet hearing about something bad happening to Rama made him extremely upset.

One may criticize the Supreme Lord for manipulating emotions in this way, but the end result is beneficial. My parents may have to trick me into taking medicine or going to school, but whatever the means there is ultimately a benefit to me. In the same way, the material nature tricks me all the time into indulging in things that are bad for me. I have been in illusion since before I can remember.

IMG_073113How kind, then, is the Supreme Lord to come to the rescue and make the best use of my innocence? Knowing the devotional nature in Sugriva, Rama created circumstances for dedicated service. The same applied to Hanuman, as Rama knew that a capable warrior would be necessary to find Sita. The warrior had to be smart and perseverant as well. In this way we see that the devoted souls have no reason to fear idleness in devotion. There is no such thing as retirement in bhakti, as Shri Rama will provide endless opportunities for service that is both invigorating and rewarding.

In Closing:

Having opulences beyond belief,

How for Supreme ever can be grief?


For benefit of devotees showing,

Since their inner desires knowing.


Change in mood of Sugriva stark,

Like bright sun suddenly turning dark.


By Rama’s position in service inspired,

Paving the way for future transpired.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Don’t Have Too Much Fun

Devoted-to-Rama-cover-300dpi17“Then Lakshmana informed Sugriva, the king of monkeys, of the grief of Rama of unwearied action caused by your loss.” (Hanuman speaking to Sita Devi, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 35.35)

tataḥ tvan nāśajam śokam rāmasya akliṣṭa karmaṇaḥ |
lakṣmaṇo vānara indrāya sugrīvāya nyavedayat ||

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There are arguments in marriage; it cannot be denied. If you are living in close quarters with someone day after day, year after year, you are bound to have disagreements. The saying, “Familiarity breeds contempt,” didn’t just appear from nowhere. The senses in the material world are such that they can never be satisfied. The more you indulge them, the stronger they burn. Bhakti-yoga is like taking a hammer to the teeth of the snake of the material senses. The senses remain, but they don’t exert the same negative influence.

“Shrila Prabodhananda Sarasvati Thakura says, durdantendriya-kala-sarpa-patali protkhata-damshtrayate. The sense organs are certainly our greatest enemies, and they are therefore compared to venomous serpents. However, if a venomous serpent is bereft of its poison fangs, it is no longer fearful. Similarly, if the senses are engaged in the service of the Lord, there is no need to fear their activities.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 5.1.17 Purport)

Are there scenarios that are more likely to lead to disagreement than others? Is there a way that a husband and wife can steer clear of the most aggressive forms of disagreement? So many books have been written on the subject, as relationships are more of an art than a science. There are no rules that are absolutely true. What works most of the time, may not in many cases also.

Reciprocation of affection is important in a relationship. One of the best ways to judge affection is to see how the other party deals with separation. In this light, one of the common mistakes made by husbands is to do something along the lines of the following.

“Honey, I had the most fun over the weekend. I played video games with my friends all night on Friday. Then we went snowboarding the next morning. The sun was out, the snow was just right, and there was hardly any wind. I must have gone up and down that mountain at least thirty times in total. Then at night we had the best meal, started with warm hot chocolate. I can’t remember having this much fun on a weekend trip. How was your weekend? What did you do?”

The husband has enthusiastically shared his joy in spending a weekend apart from his wife. It is not that the wife wants her husband to have a bad time when she is not with him. It is not that she is happy at his misery. She just wants to know that he misses her from time to time. Any person would want to feel that way if they have strong affection. The desire is only natural.

In the Supreme Personality of Godhead we find full compassion and empathy. He knows what is in the heart of every living entity, since He stays there through His expansion of the Supersoul. If someone is truly devoted to Him, He reciprocates in every situation. The above quoted verse from the Ramayana gives an example.

Devoted-to-Rama-cover-300dpi30Here Shri Hanuman is relating past events to Sita Devi, the wife of Lord Rama. Sita is known for her love and devotion to Rama. She would give up everything for His pleasure. Indeed, she had already done so, renouncing home in favor of following Rama into the wilderness. She always puts her husband’s happiness in front of her own.

Sita was separated from Rama due to the wicked deeds of a Rakshasa named Ravana. Hanuman is Rama’s messenger, and here he is relating how he came to meet Rama. Hanuman is the chief minister to the king of Vanaras, Sugriva. Hanuman arranged a meeting between Rama and Sugriva after meeting Rama and His younger brother Lakshmana in the forest of Kishkindha.

Here Hanuman relates how Lakshmana told Sugriva of Rama’s shoka, or grief, due to the separation from Sita. The Supreme Lord is very kind in this way. Though due to being atmarama, or self-satisfied, He is above anger, frustration, distress and agony, for His devotees He always reciprocates their loving sentiments. Just as Sita feels grief due to being separated from Rama, so too the Lord wishes to be by the side of His beloved wife.

The showing of grief also gives more impetus to Sugriva to offer help. It strengthens the friendship between the two, as Sugriva was also separated from his wife. It doesn’t take anything away from Rama, since His shoka does not hinder His ability to fight and defend. Rama still carries out the duties He assigns to Himself. In the Bhagavad-gita, we learn that He preserves what the devotees have and brings to them what they lack.

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)

If it is His association they want, He brings it to them. If they feel grief upon separation from Him, He lets them know that He desires an end to the separation as well. In this way the relationship with God the person is the best one to have.

In Closing:

How in separation from paramour to live,

Indication of level of affection to give.


Rama what is in the heart knowing,

So for devotees grief sometimes showing.


Lakshmana the shoka in Sugriva to confide,

Since Sita no longer by Rama’s side.


When serving without any expectation,

Rama to give every reciprocation.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Numerical Strength

IMG_101614“There is no difference between the holy name of the Lord and the Lord Himself. As such, the holy name is as perfect as the Lord Himself in fullness, purity and eternity. The holy name is no material sound vibration, nor has it any material contamination.” (Padma Purana quoted from The Nectar of Devotion, Ch 13)

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“Chant the holy names. The holy name is non-different from the Supreme Lord. There are four distinct aspects to God that are of relevance to us. They are nama, rupa, guna and lila. Name, form, qualities and pastimes. The idea is that we don’t have to speculate about the Almighty. He does not have to be relegated to an imaginary figure that we have a hope of seeing only in the afterlife. He has endless variety and nuance, and He appears ever fresh and new.

“The people living in the present age of Kali get the tremendous benefit of having everything necessary come to them simply through chanting. The name itself contains the form, qualities and pastimes. The realization comes through steady chanting, so always try to say and hear the name of Krishna as much as possible. Make a routine of chanting the maha-mantra: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.”

Those who are familiar with Vaishnava philosophy, the devotional culture focused on God the person, have likely heard this recommendation before. The exact name is not so important. The key is to connect with the Almighty through sound. The more the name addresses God in His personal feature, the greater the effect the chanting has. Though devotion should be spontaneous and done with great enthusiasm, the teachers recommend a routine at first. The concept is known as numerical strength.

There is strength in numbers. This strength garners attention and respect as well. Consider the streak in professional sports. In baseball, the objective for the batter is to get on base. The way to earn your way on base is to hit the ball thrown by the pitcher. Hit the ball somewhere on the field where the nine people on the defensive side can’t catch or field the ball in time to throw you out at first base, which is ninety feet away from where you first strike the ball.

The rules of baseball are designed in such a way that getting a hit is difficult. If you are successful thirty percent of the time, then you are one of the top tier batters. You can also get on base by a walk or a hit-by-pitch. Both of these are considered mistakes by the pitcher, so the batter doesn’t get much credit. Getting on base by hitting a pitch onto the field indicates dexterity in batting.

image9If a batter can go several games with getting at least one hit, it is considered an accomplishment. One player many years ago went fifty-six consecutive games with getting at least one hit. In ice hockey there is something similar called the point streak, where a player gets at least one goal or assist in consecutive games. These streaks are not easy to accomplish. The players who can do it get attention because of numerical strength. Their consistently good performance indicates exceptional ability in their field.

In the same way, the devotee who consistently chants the holy names and engages in bhakti creates numerical strength. If there is a streak in chanting the holy names for a prescribed number of rounds each day, it means that the person has been able to fight off the illusory energy known as maya for a steady number of days. The easiest thing in the world to do is nothing. It’s known as the path of least resistance. Change is hard. To follow a routine for something that involves speaking and hearing for likely hours a day is not easy. The person who can do so is uncommon.

The benefit they get is the rarely received reward of love and devotion to the Supreme Lord. The achievement is not guaranteed, as a person can just be going through the motions. Still, the holy name is so powerful that even chanting without attention can bring benefits. Imagine then if there is focus while saying the powerful name of the Almighty. Imagine what happens when the enthusiasm increases, where the person wants to supplement their routine by also creating numerical strength in other areas of devotion, like speaking, travelling, writing, and cooking. Soon such a person inspires others to create their own numerical strength, thereby expanding the effectiveness and reach of their own bhakti practices.

The routine commonly prescribed by teachers of the Vaishnava school today is sixteen rounds. To help in the routine of chanting there is the japa mala. This is a string consisting of one hundred and eight beads. Say the mantra one time on a bead and then move on to the next bead. Once you reach the last bead, you have completed one round. Then go in the reverse direction and repeat. If you can complete sixteen rounds in a day, you have created great strength in your devotional life.

IMG_1019The material energy is intentionally strong. In so many areas it urges laziness. The warm blanket on the comfortable bed in the winter months subtly speaks. It says to remain protected, to not go out into the cold world. This is illusion, for if a person slept all day they wouldn’t get anything done. They wouldn’t even be able to eat. Similarly, a person who avoids the routine in bhakti-yoga becomes more prone to the illusory energy of maya, which keeps the individual in the cycle of birth and death. God is known as Mukunda, as He liberates His devotees. He can bring that liberation through the sound that represents Him.

In Closing:

Even if not on righteous principles’ ground,

Liberation still possible through only a sound.


With string of beads calmly taking seat,

In steadiness holy names to repeat.


Maintaining in consecutive time length,

Battling maya through numerical strength.


Form, qualities and pastimes to be known,

Through Krishna’s holy name alone.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

When The Questions Continue

Vishnu_Creating12“The Lord [Maha-Vishnu], although lying in the Causal Ocean, came out of it, and dividing Himself as Hiranyagarbha, He entered into each universe and assumed the virat-rupa, with thousands of legs, arms, mouths, heads, etc.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 2.5.35)

sa eva puruṣas tasmād

aṇḍaṁ nirbhidya nirgataḥ



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The journalist’s mission is straightforward. Get answers to five key questions. Ask about who, what, where, when, why and how. If those questions get satisfactorily answered in a story, the journalist has done their job. It is the nature of the human being to be inquisitive. This inquisitiveness is addressed in Vedanta philosophy with the aphorism athato brahma-jijnasa. This means that the human birth is the wakeup call to the living entity. After having spent so much time in various other species, in this human life there is an urgency to be inquisitive. Ask about the Absolute Truth, Brahman.

The skeptic may argue that there is no need.

“I already have my religion. Others have their own as well. We acknowledge that God exists. What more do you want beyond this? My religion says that as long as you acknowledge such and such as the savior, and you admit that you are a sinner, you are saved. What need is there for all the detailed knowledge of which you speak?”

These are good questions. The response is that especially in modern times the human being is very inquisitive. The religions of the world acknowledge the same God, though they may address Him through different names. Through dogmatic insistence the people practicing may not know that the religions refer to the same Almighty, but the fact cannot be denied. If there is one God, He has to be for everyone.

Those who acknowledge God’s existence understand that He created everything. This is the line dividing the theists and the atheists. The atheists rely on conjecture. They guess that perhaps a series of collisions between chemicals led to the amazing variety and predictability of the universe and its population of creatures. They attribute the collisions to randomness, as they don’t know any better. The theists say that an intelligent being, the Supreme Lord, is responsible for the creation.

What if someone wants to know how God created? What if they want to know why there are creatures on earth, and why there is variety? Where will they go to get such information? The Vedas are unique because they can answer such questions. They are an ideal match for the inquisitive mind of the human being.

If man weren’t inquisitive, there would be no such thing as paparazzi and entertainment media. Entertainers sing songs, perform on stage and on screen. The entertainment value ends there. Yet the people want to know more. They want to know how such greatness was achieved. Therefore they listen to the entertainers in interviews. They read the books authored by famous people.

Bhagavad-gita_bookshelf_ibooks13God is the most famous. His glories are sung in the original Vedas and also in their derivative works. There are plenty of quotes from the Supreme Lord, and each one of them can be studied for many lifetimes. The most famous transcript of His words is the Bhagavad-gita, where the setting is a conversation between God in His form of Shri Krishna and a distressed warrior named Arjuna.

That work is short in length, so it provides a brief overview on the creation. The Shrimad Bhagavatam is more detailed. It explains how the universes came to be, what effects change in the world, why the individual spirit travels through various species, and what can be done to stop the cycle of birth and death. It explains what God looks like, what He prefers to do, where He chooses to descend, and with whom He prefers to associate.

Vishnu_Creating28Of course the starting point is understanding that God exists. To have firm belief in that fact, one should know the difference between matter and spirit, the fundamental truth of spiritual life. From there they can better understand the topics of the material nature, karma, the living entity, time and the Supreme Controller. After being firmly established in the detailed knowledge of how things work, the situation becomes ideal for hearing about God the person and His pastimes. That hearing alone can bring liberation, the end to the misery of a material existence.

In Closing:

My religion is already there,

Why of yours should I be aware?


I worship and so do you,

And everyone else in world too.


Inquisitive nature for the human mind,

Detailed knowledge in Vedic texts to find.


Like Bhagavad-gita and Bhagavatam reading,

Hunger for more information feeding.