Saturday, March 26, 2016

Showing How Lust Works

IMG_022021“While contemplating the objects of the senses, a person develops attachment for them, and from such attachment lust develops, and from lust anger arises.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.62)

dhyāyato viṣayān puṁsaḥ

saṅgas teṣūpajāyate

saṅgāt sañjāyate kāmaḥ

kāmāt krodho 'bhijāyate

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One of the central teachings of the Bhagavad-gita is that material sense gratification is not the aim of life. This is antithetical based on the fact that the default position from the time of birth is to seek out just that. Try your hand at playing with this toy and that. When you get bored, move on to another. In adulthood the toys become bigger and more expensive, but the same shifting is there.

Shri Krishna doesn’t just make the claim and leave it at that. He explains the pattern to sense gratification. First there is the object of enjoyment. Then gradually attachment develops. Attachment gives way to lust, which is kama. Soon after there is anger. The reason for the anger is frustration, as in sense gratification the enjoyment is not guaranteed. From anger comes delusion, then bewilderment of memory, concluding with a loss of intelligence. Intelligence is what sets the human species apart. If intelligence goes, then surely the activities in life will not be worthwhile.

There is something beyond kama. It is known as bhakti, which is devotion. The two bear resemblance to one another externally. One person is eating to enjoy their senses, while another is consuming food for the pleasure of the Supreme Lord. The first person becomes entangled, even though they don’t realize it. The second person, who should have the same experience due to the identical engagement, is detached from the process. Their consciousness is elsewhere. It is this consciousness which is key. Whatever is on the mind at the time of death determines the type of existence in the subsequent 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)

An example helps in illustrating a concept. Let’s pretend there is a destination that I visit on a regular basis; say weekly. This place is almost two hours away from my home, if I drive. In the beginning I have no choice. There is no other way to get to this place. Though I like going there, the drive is getting to me. Sometimes there is traffic, so the two hours becomes three. This is especially painful when it comes unexpected. For several consecutive weeks there is little traffic, so I get accustomed to arriving at the destination at a specific time. My frustration thus increases whenever something breaks the routine and causes me to be late.

image7After a year, the government has built train service to the destination. Now the journey by car is only one hour, with an hour on the train after that. At first I am excited and relieved. After a few weeks, however, frustration mounts again. The issue is parking. It is difficult to find a space around the train station. Others are taking the same train, so they too have cars to park. If somehow it takes me longer than normal to find a parking spot, I get frustrated. I have totally forgotten how there wasn’t even train service before.

Another year passes and now there is train service to the same destination leaving from someplace close to my house. No more long drive. This train travels directly, leaving once an hour. At first I am so relieved. After a while, that changes too. This train is so popular that it is difficult to find a spot to sit. Now the game every week is to find the specific train car that has open seats. When I do, I am relieved. But when I don’t, I am frustrated.

Soon thereafter the train starts offering Wi-Fi inside. Now I can surf the internet. This is a great way to pass the time while sitting. Again, after a few trips there is frustration. This is due to the Wi-Fi signal cutting out every now and then. I get so angry when I lose the signal while I’m in the middle of watching a movie.

From this example we see that even after the original desire was satisfied, frustration still persisted. This is due to attachment to the enjoyment. Kama has this limitation. No matter how much sense gratification a person engages in, they are never fully satisfied. There is the law of diminishing returns to consider also. The same experience begins to lose its taste after repeated indulgence. The response is to change the experience, jumping from one thing to another. There is actually no more taste left, but the faint hope is that maybe things will change. Prahlada Maharaja refers to this as chewing the chewed.

śrī-prahrāda uvāca

matir na kṛṣṇe parataḥ svato vā

mitho ’bhipadyeta gṛha-vratānām

adānta-gobhir viśatāṁ tamisraṁ

punaḥ punaś carvita-carvaṇānām

“Prahlada Maharaja replied: Because of their uncontrolled senses, persons too addicted to materialistic life make progress toward hellish conditions and repeatedly chew that which has already been chewed. Their inclinations toward Krishna are never aroused, either by the instructions of others, by their own efforts, or by a combination of both.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 7.5.30)

image16Fortunately, I don’t have to be trapped in the cycle of attachment and lust forever. I can take to bhakti-yoga and have a completely different experience. Then the enjoyment increases with further progression. At first I may not feel any magic whilst chanting the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. If I stick with it, however, following guidelines from authorities who are above kama, then gradually things start to change. Soon I have attachment to the chanting, since it brings so much pleasure. That attachment is not in kama, as it has no stake in birth and death.

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)

IMG_022040The material nature offers little mercy to its followers. Others are trying to enjoy as well, trying to chew what has already been chewed. Thus there is competition for resources and experiences. The material nature can only provide so much facility. Bhakti-yoga, on the other hand, is supported by Shri Krishna Himself. He provides to the devotee what they lack and preserves what they have. If He sees someone genuinely interested in turning their kama into bhakti, He helps them. He is the most capable to help as well, which makes bhakti the best path for the intelligent human being to follow.

In Closing:

When for sense objects to yearn,

Then from lust to anger quickly to turn.


After valuable intelligence lost,

Sense gratification coming at a cost.


Advantage of your intelligence take,

And turn towards bhakti-yoga make.


No longer from material nature limited,

By Krishna’s guiding hand benefited.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Param Brahma

lotusfeet12“Arjuna said: You are the Supreme Brahman, the ultimate, the supreme abode and purifier, the Absolute Truth and the eternal divine person. You are the primal God, transcendental and original, and You are the unborn and all-pervading beauty.” (Bhagavad-gita, 10.12)

arjuna uvāca
paraṁ brahma paraṁ dhāma
pavitraṁ paramaṁ bhavān
puruṣaṁ śāśvataṁ divyam
ādi-devam ajaṁ vibhum

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Brahman is one way to realize the Divine. It is the singular spiritual energy, appearing to be divided but actually one. Brahman is the aggregate of all fragments of spirit. The fragments are of the same kind. They are blissful, knowledgeable and eternal. The sparks of Brahman are known as spirit soul. The soul exists perpetually. Nothing can be done to destroy the soul, and so by extension Brahman is known to be the same.

avināśi tu tad viddhi

yena sarvam idaṁ tatam

vināśam avyayasyāsya

na kaścit kartum arhati

“Know that which pervades the entire body is indestructible. No one is able to destroy the imperishable soul.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.17)

From hearing these truths of Vedic philosophy, a person might be led to believe that Brahman is the ultimate realization. There is nothing beyond it. The conception of God that everyone else has - they’re really talking about Brahman. Brahman is everything. It is the final word.

The Bhagavad-gita, which perfectly summarizes Vedic teachings, gives the full understanding. The truth comes from a single verse, in fact. The verse is spoken by Arjuna, who is a warrior being driven on a chariot by Krishna. Arjuna is bewildered, not sure how to proceed on the eve of a great war. Krishna has always been his friend, and so Arjuna naturally goes to Him for help. Krishna then assumes the role of guru, or spiritual master. This role is not foreign to Him, as He is the origin of Vedic teachings and everything else in this universe.

27111After submissively and sincerely hearing from Krishna, Arjuna realizes the true identity of the chariot driver. He then decides to offer kind words of praise. Anytime a person meets God and understands Him in truth, they offer nice prayers. This is the standard practice, as there is the tendency to praise those who are worthy of it. In God you find the most praiseworthy person, so it is not uncommon for at least an attempt to be made at glorification. The Vedas themselves can be described as basic hymns of praise in honor of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

In praising Krishna, Arjuna referred to Him as param brahma. This is significant, since if there were nothing beyond Brahman, the use of the word “param” would be invalid. Param means “supreme” or “more than.” Arjuna says that Krishna is more than Brahman. That is the fact, since Krishna is Bhagavan. Bhagavan is the source of the spiritual energy. Brahman is like a light emanating off of His inconceivably large spiritual body.

Brahman is a collection of individual spirit; really more of a perspective than a physical object. Individual spirit has limitations, namely in the type of residence. The living beings inhabiting this world are all spotless sparks of Brahman, but they are encased inside of flawed material coverings. Param brahma, or Parabrahman, is never susceptible to such residence. He never comes under the control of the material energy. This is one way to know the difference between God and the living entity.

Arjuna was friends with Krishna, so perhaps there was exaggeration in the praise. Knowing that others might think this way, Arjuna made sure to reference other great personalities like Narada and Vyasa, whose opinions concur. This means that the greatest souls, the people most well-versed in Vedic philosophy, understand that there is a Parabrahman. They know that Krishna is that superior spiritual figure, and so they take up devotion to Him as their life’s occupation; the same one followed by Arjuna and those succeeding Him in the disciplic succession.

In Closing:

Brahman the spiritual energy to call,

Of each fragment, sum collection all.


If only this information to take,

That summit of realization a mistake.


Arjuna the word param for Krishna using,

Additional references for support choosing.


Means devotional service the life’s occupation,

The same for those following in disciplic succession.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Knowing What Existed Before You Existed

image4[4]“The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: The unmanifested eternal combination of the three modes is the cause of the manifest state and is called pradhana. It is called prakriti when in the manifested stage of existence.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 3.26.10)

śrī-bhagavān uvāca

yat tat tri-guṇam avyaktaṁ

nityaṁ sad-asad-ātmakam

pradhānaṁ prakṛtiṁ prāhur

aviśeṣaṁ viśeṣavat

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What happened before our birth? Let’s say that we want to know who won the gold medal in swimming in an Olympic Games that occurred in a year that is prior to our date of birth. In the modern day we look up the information online. There might be recorded video of the event as well. Still, we have to trust that what is recorded is actually what it claims to be. Anyone can hit the record button on a camera and put a label on it. Man makes mistakes, also. What they say is not guaranteed to be true.

“Speculative knowledge of God will lead us nowhere. If a boy wants to know who his father is, the simple process is to ask his mother. The mother will then say, ‘This is your father.’ This is the way of perfect knowledge.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Science of Self-Realization, Ch 1c)

ssr12[4]Nevertheless, we get the information on the authority of someone else. His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada often references the example of the son wanting to know who his father is. The natural course of action is to ask the mother. In modern times there is the paternity test, but even that only gives a likelihood. Studying DNA evidence, the test gives a percentage-based guess of who the father could be.

The mother should know because she witnessed everything. The child has no other way of knowing. There has to be the word from authority. Shrila Prabhupada uses this example to explain how a person can come to know what was there before everything existed.

Time is infinite in both directions. There is always a beginning to a beginning. When the end comes, there is always something after that. The human brain does not have the ability to fully grasp infinity. Despite holding countless images in the mind from what has been witnessed thus far in the journey through life, there is still a storage limitation. Like a hard drive with a maximum capacity, it is not possible for the mind to collect information going back infinitely in time.

There is still a general inquisitiveness as to what happened in the distant past. We know that each person in this world needs the combination of a mother and a father to be born. Going back in history is rather straightforward; ascend the chain of parents. Eventually you should get to the first people on earth. But who came before them? Is it possible for an individual to be the source of everything?

Vedic literature provides the testimony of people who were around then. The single-source creator is known as Brahma. He is not the father of just mankind. There are up to 8,400,000 different species. A species is a combination of spirit and matter. The makeup of the matter is what determines the type of species. The matter is composed of three types of elements: goodness, passion and ignorance. The matter can be exclusively of one type or a combination of the three in varying proportions.

Brahma is responsible for all of this. Since he was around at the beginning, he can tell us what it was like. Brahma came to be from the navel of the Supreme Personality of Godhead Vishnu. In simpler terms, Vishnu is God the person. There is Krishna the original Personality of Godhead, and Vishnu is identical to Him.

Even before Brahma, there is the creation of the universe. There is dull matter, known as pradhana, and then there is the spiritual glance. This is the same combination of mother and father. The father in Vishnu gives the seed, and the mother in the material nature facilitates the development of the living being inside.

sarva-yoniṣu kaunteya

mūrtayaḥ sambhavanti yāḥ

tāsāṁ brahma mahad yonir

ahaṁ bīja-pradaḥ pitā

“It should be understood that all species of life, O son of Kunti, are made possible by birth in this material nature, and that I am the seed-giving father.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 14.4)

The skeptic has the right to question whether or not this information should be believed. We can believe the information about things happening in the years immediately preceding our birth because not that much time has elapsed. How do we believe something that occurred millions of years ago? The gap in time allows for forgetfulness, malicious changing of information, and the possibility of loss of sacred writings.

image26[4]Authority will always be required when accepting important information; the issue is whose authority should be trusted. In the Vedic tradition there are important personalities who pass on the information first experienced and heard by Lord Brahma. These personalities are known as mahajanas, or great people. They are great because they are above the delusion caused by material nature. They see beyond duality and they are not driven by the senses. They accepted the knowledge of God, jnana, and then realized the truths on their own, vijnana. Brahma himself is an impeccable authority, and there are so many others as well, appearing in every time period. The living entity needn’t remain in the dark about the origin of the creation. Hearing the proper explanation will help them to find the best future, over which they have some control.

In Closing:

For obstacles in path to clear,

Important of the origin to hear.


Of how everything created know,

So that to best destination to go.


Brahma the source of creatures lone,

Came from Vishnu’s lotus-stem grown.


Authority with any information a must,

Mahajanas most deserving of trust.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Getting The Lord To Rise

Hanuman_flowers.jpg14“Being stricken by grief, that great soul was lying on the ground for a long time. Then with great difficulty using various words I was able to get Him to rise.” (Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 35.42)

śayitam ca ciram tena duhkha ārtena mahātmanā |
mayā api vividhaiḥ vākyaiḥ kṛcchrāt utthāpitaḥ punaḥ ||

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The Sanskrit word dhira means “sober.” Another meaning is intelligence and self-control. There is something known as “getting a rise” out of someone. The easier a person responds to agitation, the less in control they are. After all, what do combative words really mean? They shouldn’t influence behavior one way or the other. Especially for a person in authority, to remain sober is very important.

Keeping emotions out of decisions is easier said than done. In recent times, a professional player of American football was standing before a judge in a courtroom, ready to accept a plea bargain deal that meant he would avoid jail-time. When the judge accepted the offer, she asked the player how he felt about it. In happiness, the player slapped his lawyer on the behind, as a sign of affection. The courtroom then burst into laughter, angering the judge. She then promptly reversed her decision, sending the player to jail.

“’I don't know that you're taking this whole thing seriously. I just saw you slap your attorney on the backside. Is there something funny about this?’ McHugh said, slapping the plea deal document down on her desk. ‘The whole courtroom was laughing. I'm not going to accept these plea negotiations. This isn't a joke.’” (, Chad Johnson’s plea deal rejected)

The judge had already made a decision, but based on the reaction of the defendant, she reversed course. In other words, due to outside instigation, due to a lack of a sober mind the person given the authority to make judgments succumbed to emotion instead of intellect.

By the very fact that the countless souls living in the material world have forgotten about Him since time immemorial, the Supreme Lord would have to be considered the most sober person. He is the very definition of dhira, as He does not hold the longtime neglect against any person. He continues to stay with them as the Supersoul. In that role, He even gives His blessing for continued forgetfulness.

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)

The Supreme Lord is never obligated to listen to anyone. The people who are most against Him in outward behavior are the asuras. The Sanskrit word that describes them is merely a negation of another word. A sura is a devoted soul. They worship God with thought, word and deed. They don’t command Him to do anything, but through their devotion they win His favor.

The asuras can provoke as much as they want, but God never loses His cool. There is the famous incident of Hiranyakashipu boasting that God didn’t exist. He challenged his son Prahlada to prove that Vishnu, one name for God, is indeed all-pervading. God the person then appeared on the scene from a pillar. But this was not due to Hiranyakashipu. The Supreme arrived to give protection to Prahlada, who as a five year old boy was otherwise helpless.

untitled10In the above referenced verse from the Ramayana, we get an example of how the suras are able to get the Supreme Lord to rise. Here Shri Hanuman is relating past events to Sita Devi. She is the wife of Rama, who is the son of King Dasharatha of Ayodhya. Sita is also a devoted soul, always looking out for Rama’s interests. Rama is the same Vishnu. He is identical to the Narasimhadeva who appeared for the protection of Prahlada.

Hanuman is in the middle of explaining how he came to meet Rama. Sita and Rama were separated at the time. She did not know where He was. Hanuman had met Rama and His younger brother Lakshmana in the forest of Kishkindha. After a friendship was established, Hanuman brought some of Sita’s ornaments for Rama to see. This immediately caused the Lord to feel tremendous grief. As Hanuman says, Rama remained on the ground for a very long time.

This is not a sign of weakness on Rama’s part. He is not attached to women as a means of sense enjoyment. One of the many names for God is atmarama. This means “self-satisfied.” He is not dependent on any outside factor for His pleasure. Still, He feels grief upon separation from Sita since she is such a wonderful person. When He sees her ornaments, He is immediately reminded of her unflinching devotion.

IMG_03129The asuras don’t understand God, so they have no way to influence His behavior. The suras, on the other hand, can make Him rise if He should happen to be lying on the ground. That is what Hanuman was able to do. With great difficulty, he spoke appropriate words to get Rama to regain His composure. Though Hanuman is famously known for following the mood of devotion known as dasya-rasa, from this incident we see that he is much more than an ordinary servant. He is a wise friend as well. He is dear to Rama, as the Lord listens to what he says. Rama takes stock in the words of the devotees, and for this reason they continue to offer the kindest and wisest words for His pleasure.

In Closing:

Fire of anger inside to stoke,

When adversary trying to provoke.


Only the dhira can steady remain,

In honor or dishonor disposition the same.


The one who Sita’s husband to call,

Son of Dasharatha with most sobriety of all.


Not the asuras, only Hanuman capable of doing,

Raising Rama from ground, with wise words soothing.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Holi 2016

holika313“Hiranyakashipu thought: I have used many ill names in chastising this boy Prahlada and have devised many means of killing him, but despite all my endeavors, he could not be killed. Indeed, he saved himself by his own powers, without being affected in the least by these treacherous and abominable actions.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 7.5.45)

eṣa me bahv-asādhūkto
vadhopāyāś ca nirmitāḥ
tais tair drohair asad-dharmair
muktaḥ svenaiva tejasā

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Was he like a Houdini of ancient times? Did he have some secret magical powers that no one knew about? Had he inoculated himself beforehand? Did he know something everyone else didn’t? Might have he been older than he looked? A boy who had been in the world for a mere five years, from the beginning it looked like he didn’t stand a chance. Taken into a pit of fire by the witch-like sister of the king, Prahlada should have perished easily. Instead, it was the sister who burned to ashes. Those ashes of various colors, symbolizing Prahlada’s victory, have since been thrown about in joy annually on the occasion of Holi.

image6The father was named Hiranyakashipu. This compound Sanskrit word consists of terms that mean “soft cushion” and “gold.” Both are highly coveted in a material existence. Gold stands the test of time. It always has some value. You may have amassed a large amount of paper currency in the bank, but overnight the value of that currency can drop by a large value. On the other hand, someone will always want your gold.

A soft cushion is similarly valuable. The animalistic activities are eating, mating and defending. The fourth is sleeping. After you have eaten nicely and enjoyed with the opposite sex, you still have to defend what you have going forward. If everything is taken care of, you need to rest nicely in order to repeat the enjoyment the following day, and so on.

Hiranyakashipu had these four things in good quality. He thought he gained everything through his own effort. It’s not that he went to the gym every day and worked to create a genius military strategy for defense. Rather, he worshiped the higher powers nicely, who were obliged to grant him most of the things that he wanted.

There was one problem, though. It should have been a minor nuisance, but it actually went against the very essence of the king. Hiranyakashipu had a son named Prahlada, and the boy did not want to follow in the father’s footsteps. He did not want to enjoy like an animal throughout life. Rather, at five years of age he already had a genuine spirit of renunciation. He was so wise that he would discourse on the highest philosophical subjects to his classmates.

holika329In Hiranyakashipu’s mind, Prahlada had to be killed. The issue was that the boy was apparently invincible. The king employed so many unspeakable methods to end the life of his innocent son, yet none of them worked. One incident involved taking Prahlada into a pit of fire. Holika was the sister of the king, and she had some mystic ability that allowed her to be immune from fire. Prahlada seemed to counteract that ability. Holika perished in the fire instead of Prahlada.

Hiranyakashipu saw Prahlada surviving with his own eyes, and yet he couldn’t understand it. He thought Prahlada had some special potency, tejasa, that was allowing him to survive. The king saw the colored ashes of his sister right before him. He saw Prahlada continuing to live. Yet visual evidence was not everything, as he failed to properly recognize what was going on.

That tejasa was not the exclusive property of Prahlada. The same tejasa is inside of everyone, and it comes from the Divine Himself. The reason Holika was not saved by the same potency is that she did not explicitly seek the favor of the Divine. God is neutral in His position as the Supersoul within the heart. The Supersoul broke from neutrality for Prahlada since the boy was a devotee. Prahlada did not even directly ask for help. He simply engaged in vishno-smaranam, or remembrance of God the person.

On the occasion of Holi we remember how the tejasa of the Supreme Lord allowed for the apparent miracles with Prahlada. The boy could see the Divine everywhere, as he had the spiritual vision. He saw God even in his father, who was a staunch atheist. When the Supreme Lord later appeared in the flesh as Narasimhadeva, Prahlada was not afraid of the ferocious form, offering it a flower garland out of kindness. Hiranyakashipu, on the other hand, saw God in the only way he would understand: death personified.

In Closing:

By Prahlada with garland glorified,

For Hiranyakashipu death personified.


After the boy by Holika into fire taken,

Ordered by father of all decency forsaken.


But Prahlada remaining alive the one,

A pure devotee, having personal desires none.


Though king witnessing directly firsthand,

Still power of the Divine not to understand.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Gaura Purnima 2016

image7“Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was an ideal acharya. An acharya is an ideal teacher who knows the purpose of the revealed scriptures, behaves exactly according to their injunctions and teaches his students to adopt these principles also. As an ideal acharya, Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu devised ways to capture all kinds of atheists and materialists.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Chaitanya Charitamrita, Adi 7.37 Purport)

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In the Bhagavad-gita, Shri Krishna says that what a great man does, others follow. The example he sets is the one others look up to. In other words, the leader has the responsibility to behave in an exemplary manner. If they behave poorly, it is license for others to do the same. Some five hundred years ago in Mayapur, the Supreme Lord Himself appeared on earth to set the best example for the acknowledged leaders in society. On the occasion of Gaura Purnima we celebrate His life and pastimes.

yad yad ācarati śreṣṭhas

tat tad evetaro janaḥ

sa yat pramāṇaṁ kurute

lokas tad anuvartate

“Whatever action is performed by a great man, common men follow in his footsteps. And whatever standards he sets by exemplary acts, all the world pursues.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 3.21)

The head, the arms, the belly and the thighs - we know these to be important aspects of the body. Of these four the head is the most important, because the living being couldn’t continue without it. From the spiritual science that is Vedic philosophy we know that the essence of life, the spirit soul, actually resides within the heart. Nevertheless, the significance of the head is no secret.

These four parts are compared to the four varnas, or occupational divisions. The Sanskrit word varna also means “color.” It is a way to understand the variety in the human species. The four divisions are brahmana, kshatriya, vaishya and shudra. The brahmana translates to the head of society, the kshatriya the arms, the vaishya the belly and the shudra the thighs or legs. The head commands the other body parts, not the other way around. You need all the parts, but since everything starts at the head, it is relatively speaking the most important.

What exactly makes a brahmana? Is it determined by birth? The caste, or jati, is certainly by birth, and there are some scriptural statements to support this method of classification. On the other hand, the actual varna of brahmana, which is an occupation, is determined by guna and karma, which are quality and work respectively. Shri Krishna is the basis for this form of classification. Since He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, He is the final word to settle any disputes on complex points in Vedic philosophy.

cātur-varṇyaṁ mayā sṛṣṭaṁ


tasya kartāram api māṁ

viddhy akartāram avyayam

“According to the three modes of material nature and the work ascribed to them, the four divisions of human society were created by Me. And, although I am the creator of this system, you should know that I am yet the non-doer, being unchangeable.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.13)

Whichever way a person wants to determine the brahmana, it is undoubtedly true that the priestly class should set the best example. They should help the other three classes. We know that the brahmana typically has six different kinds of duties. They read the scriptures, teach them to others, perform sacrifices, teach others to do the same, accept charity and also distribute it. The word “brahmana” itself means one who knows Brahman, which is the impersonal spiritual energy. Everything that is living is Brahman. In the present world the sparks of Brahman enter a covering of matter, known as prakriti. It is not easy to see Brahman through the illusion of maya; therefore the genuine brahmana deserves a lot of respect.

According to the opinion of author Vrindavana Dasa Thakura, the crest-jewel of brahmanas is Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. This isn’t simply a way to flatter the famous saint from Bengal. It isn’t high praise borne of mere sentiment. The opinion is actually a fact since Lord Chaitanya showed the ideal behavior of a brahmana. More than anything, the role of the head in society is to elevate everyone else to the highest platform that is pure consciousness of God.

bhoktāraṁ yajña-tapasāṁ


suhṛdaṁ sarva-bhūtānāṁ

jñātvā māṁ śāntim ṛcchati

“The sages, knowing Me as the ultimate purpose of all sacrifices and austerities, the Supreme Lord of all planets and demigods and the benefactor and well-wisher of all living entities, attain peace from the pangs of material miseries.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 5.29)

In the Bhagavad-gita, Shri Krishna says that He is the best well-wishing friend of the living entities. By extension, this means that the person who helps others to reunite with their best friend residing within the heart is doing the best welfare work for society. Any person can lead in this way; they don’t necessarily have to belong to the brahmana class.

LordCaitanyaOfferedaSeat14Yet those in the occupation that is equated with the head of society have a natural advantage due to the respect they get. Lord Chaitanya, who is actually a combined incarnation of Radha and Krishna, or the energy of God and God Himself, took advantage of this respected position to start the sankirtana movement. The movement wasn’t really introduced; it was more a revival of sorts. The Vedas themselves are sankirtana; they are praise of the glories of God the person.

Chaitanya Mahaprabhu appeared in a brahmana family in an area reputed for its population of scholars. He also took to the ashrama of sannyasa at a young age. From the material point of view He was to be highly respected. Then His words and actions gave further proof of His divine nature. Not wanting respect for Himself, considering Himself lower than the blade of grass and more tolerant than the tree, He asked others around Him to simply chant the names of God: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

image15He was wildly successful in this mission. Since He is the Supreme Lord Himself, He could have completed everything during His time. Yet He was so kind that He left the work unfinished so that future generations could take up the cause and feel the bliss of devotion. On the day of Gaura Purnima we remember the crest jewel of brahmanas, who combined with His spiritual brother Nityananda is the life and soul of Vrindavana Dasa.

In Closing:

A sannyasi brahmana from home departed,

By Him the sankirtana movement started.


Bringing to others the precious gift,

Spirits with holy name to uplift.


In priestly family acting as the head,

Giving best example for society to be led.


Celebrating Him on Gaura Purnima day,

Follow Him in Kali Yuga, no other way.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Doubting The Scriptures

Deities14“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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Doubt: In India most everyone knows about the Ramayana. The problem is that the versions known by the people are not always the same. The more popular version, which is admittedly composed in recent times, during the Medieval period, gives more attention to Rama’s Divinity, His being the Supreme Lord.

Though authored in the language of Awadhi, there is nevertheless authority pointed to. That version of the story of Rama’s events has its own disciplic succession. Lord Shiva, Mahadeva, is the narrator, speaking to his wife Parvati, the daughter of the mountain king. The original Ramayana of Valmiki doesn’t give as much emphasis to Rama being God. In fact, it is barely mentioned. Perhaps Rama is merely an ordinary human being who was later assigned divine status by those who support Him. Why is Shiva’s version so different from Valmiki’s?

Reconciliation: What is commonly known today as Hinduism is actually the Vedic tradition. Vedic refers to the Vedas, which are ancient works of knowledge. And not just any knowledge, the Vedas are synonymous with the highest wisdom capable of being assimilated by the human mind. Because of this mind the human birth is considered the most auspicious. It is better to be born a human being than any other type of living entity.

The Vedas are originally a single work, and no matter the form in which they appear, the purpose is identical. The Vedas glorify God. They sing of His gunas, or glories. Gunas for Him are transcendental attributes. They are distinguishable features that are paradoxical and non-limiting. For instance, God does not have hands, yet He can extend His reach everywhere. He does not have ears, but He can hear everything. He is without a body, and yet His complexion is shyama, or blackish.

112To give man a better idea of what these gunas are, the Divine descends to the world populated with material eyes. Only the pious souls can recognize Him, and since they want to cherish that vision going forward, they record their perceptions. They note down the Supreme Lord’s activities. The works that chronicle the appearance and disappearance become extensions of the Vedas. As they continue to expound on the glories of the Supreme Lord, these works are non-different from the original Vedas.

One such work is the Ramayana, which concentrates on the Supreme’s advent as Lord Rama, the son of King Dasharatha of Ayodhya. Rama’s deeds are described in other books as well, such as the many Puranas. Actually, any qualified person can make an attempt to describe Rama through the written word. If their understanding is correct and their conclusions not in violation of any of the truths pertaining to the Supreme Lord, then the resulting work is also an extension of the Vedas.

WLW-MaharishiValmiki_F799-Valmiki_21There could be confusion since the more recent works give more focus to Rama’s divine nature, while the original Ramayana focuses more on deeds. Yet one who carefully studies the work of Valmiki will find that the divinity is indeed stated in many places. The above referenced verse is one example.

Here Shri Hanuman describes how Rama looked like God Himself. The Sanskrit words are deva prakashena devena. This means that Rama resembled the deva, or god, of the devas, the gods. He looked this way while examining the ornaments of Sita Devi, His beloved wife. These ornaments fell from the sky as Sita was being forcibly taken away by the wicked-minded Ravana. The Vanaras living in Kishkindha gathered the ornaments. They presented them to Rama after they met Him. Hanuman, the chief minister to the Vanara-king Sugriva, personally brought to Rama those items belonging to Sita.

Thus a single verse from the Ramayana gives sufficient evidence for the true identity of Shri Rama. Rama was God based on how He looked. The Lord’s reaction to seeing the ornaments gives further evidence. Just as a husband is intimately familiar with the nature of His wife, the original Personality of Godhead can recognize and remember the goddess of fortune just by seeing her ornaments. It was as if Hanuman had brought Sita back to Rama for a brief moment.

IMG_218013Rama lamented in many ways because He has immeasurable love for His devotees. He will do anything for them, and He is always thinking of them. Due to His unmatched compassion, those who prefer Him never tire in service. Though the material world is limiting, being temporary in nature, the devotees still find ways to expand their efforts. They increase Rama’s glories by writing about Him. Hanuman extends the splendor of the fully splendorous Rama by bravely travelling to Lanka and delivering comforting words to the distressed Sita. Thus through the efforts of the devotees the truth of Rama’s divine nature becomes even more firmly established.

In Closing:

So many versions of Ramayana to see,

Perhaps only a myth is He?


Later on wanting to glorify,

In little ways the original to modify.


But actually truth in Valmiki’s is found,

Rama looking like deva, with splendor abound.


Evidence further by Shri Hanuman shown,

Only by devotees Rama truly to be known.