Saturday, April 9, 2016

The Ten Directions

HanumanCross-Mandala11“Having regained his own kingdom, Sugriva called his great and mighty monkeys and sent them in the ten directions to look for you.” (Hanuman speaking to Sita Devi, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 35.53)

sva rājyam prāpya sugrīvaḥ samanīya mahāharīn |
tvat artham preṣayāmāsa diśo daśa mahābalān ||

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Here Shri Hanuman makes reference to the ten directions. The main ones we see on a compass are north, south, east and west. The compass is two dimensional, so there are up and down to consider as well. Adding the four corners gives a total of ten. The idea is that no place was neglected in the search for the missing wife of Shri Rama, the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

Rama, who is an avatara of Vishnu, appeared on this earth in the house of King Dasharatha of Ayodhya. The king’s name also references the ten directions. He received the name because of his ability to fight against enemies coming from the ten directions simultaneously. This is no easy task, as a man has only two hands. He doesn’t have eyes behind his head, so how does he cover himself in the back?

In American football the expert quarterback has skill at avoiding the sack. As soon as the ball is snapped and the quarterback drops back to look for a place to throw the ball, the defense rushes in. They are looking to tackle him, which when done behind the line of scrimmage is known as a sack. The quarterback must keep an internal clock ticking inside of his head, which is a reminder of the short window of time before expecting contact from the defense.

image7For the defense to succeed, they have to be unpredictable. Perhaps they will send a defender from the blindside, a player who typically plays back in coverage on the receivers. The good quarterback, though concentrating on the field of play ahead of them, can sense these sneak attacks. They’ll do things like step up in the pocket or make a sudden shift to avoid the pressure. Thus even though their eyes are focused on a single direction at a time, they can remain safe against attacks coming from multiple directions.

Sugriva had a massive army of monkeys at his command. They were both mighty and great. He regained their services after getting his kingdom back. This was through the help of Rama, who shot an arrow into the back of Vali, the rival brother of Sugriva. Rama’s wife Sita went missing previously, and now Rama required help in finding her.

The monkeys went in the ten directions so as to increase the chances for success. They were in search of the goddess of fortune, and not for any personal motive. Who doesn’t want money? Who doesn’t want success? A person can actually get these things by praying to the goddess of fortune, who is also known as Lakshmi Devi. If the monkeys needed fortune, they could have saved a lot of effort by sitting down and praying.

93_big12Instead, they were on a mission of service to the Supreme Lord. They were serving Him through the order of the monkey-king Sugriva. Service to the Divine can be something as simple as chanting the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. It can also be as complicated as searching the entire world. In either case the reward is a connection in consciousness to the Supreme Lord. Hanuman would be the mighty Vanara to eventually bring success for the mission, and today he remains devoted to Rama in service. He gets everything he needs to perform that service through the favor of Sita Devi.

In Closing:

Quarterback an open receiver to find,

Must also keep eye on defender from behind.


In this way covering many a direction,

Staying aware of multi-coverage section.


After regaining kingdom from Vali then,

Sending monkeys Sugriva in directions ten.


For missing goddess of fortune to meet,

Hanuman the one eventually to greet.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Somebody Caring For Me

Worshiping15“O Devi, thus unity was born between Rama and Sugriva. Know me to be Hanuman, who has arrived here as their messenger.” (Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 35.52)

rāma sugrīvayoḥ aikyam devi evam samajāyata |
hanūmantam ca mām viddhi tayoḥ dūtam iha āgatam ||

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You’ve fallen terribly ill. It might not be that serious, but it feels awful. Usually, during the winter season you might get a cold or two, which involve the sniffles, a cough, and maybe some fatigue. This time you’ve got a fever. By taking some pain relieving medication, you expect the fever to break shortly.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t happen. The fever continues to get worse, carrying over into the next day. Your pulse rate is high, and some veins are starting to bulge on your forehead. You wonder when the misery will end. It feels as if pretty soon your head is going to explode from the pressure.

Then someone arrives to help you. They bring special pills that are to be taken one a day, for five days. Skeptical of the ability to cure something so out of control, you take a pill anyway. The effect is practically instantaneous. Within an hour the fever is gone. The pulse rate is back to normal. Now only the rest of the flu symptoms remain, which you are equipped to handle and tolerate.

The key factor in this situation was the help arriving from the well-wisher. In the above referenced verse from the Ramayana, we hear of something similar. Hanuman goes to Sita Devi, being sent there as a messenger to both Rama and Sugriva, between whom an alliance was formed.

Sita had a much bigger issue than a raging fever. Her body was emaciated from not eating. She was sobbing continuously. There were no well-wishers around. Everyone was against her and her husband, the prince of Ayodhya. Then suddenly Hanuman arrived to save the day.

In the same way, the conditioned living entities in this world are suffering through so many miseries. The aggregate is put into three categories: those coming from the heavens, those coming from within, and those coming from other living beings. There is danger at every step; there is no such thing as complete safety.

The only rescue from the miseries is the helping hand of the Divine. To those sincerely wishing to break free from the cycle of birth and death and all the miseries coming in between, the Supreme Lord either directly arrives on the scene or sends one of His capable representatives, such as Hanuman. The effect is the same in either case: a cure.

Worshiping28It should be noted that Sita Devi is not diseased, and nor does she suffer from the threefold miseries of life. Her pastimes in this world, documented in the Ramayana and many Puranas of the Vedic tradition, are for the benefit of others through providing valuable instruction. They also bring delight to those who hear about them with a pure heart. She is in fact the goddess of fortune, playing the role of supreme benefactor. Those who use her benedictions for the pleasure of her husband Rama continue in the path of bliss that is devotional service. Hanuman is one such person, and Sita continues to repay him a thousand-fold to this very day by giving him just what he needs for his devotion to Rama.

In Closing:

From out of nowhere fever to come,

With bulging veins fearful to become.


Then rescue from well-wisher got,

From pills sudden temperature drop.


Devotee in same way relieving,

From them blessed words receiving.


Like Hanuman to Sita news disclosing,

Goddess of fortune his sacrifice rewarding.

Thursday, April 7, 2016


image7“After swiftly killing Vali in battle, Rama made Sugriva the ruler of the entire group of monkeys and bears.” (Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 35.51)

tato nihatya tarasā rāmo vālinam āhave |
sarva ṛṣka hari samghānām sugrīvam akarot patim ||

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The avatara of Rama is known for following dharma, which translates to religiosity, duty, and righteousness. The right choices in life are not always straightforward. One bad decision can be regretted for many years after the fact. By appearing on earth as Shri Rama, the princely son of King Dasharatha, the Supreme Lord showed that there are indeed many difficult choices to make in life, but that following dharma is what benefits everyone in the end. The incident with the rival brother of the monkey-king Sugriva appears to show a divergence from the righteous path. A proper understanding of the incident reveals that even dharma has its limits.

Dharma is for the human species. The animals have no concept of right and wrong. They are in their body-type due to karma, but they don’t accumulate any going forward. Karma translates to fruitive work. You do something that has a reaction. The reaction may not be immediate. If I make a mistake during the assembly of a piece of furniture, everything may look okay in the beginning. Several months later the mistake rears its ugly head with a collapse of the finished product. The reaction to the work arrived, but at a later time.

In the same way, the living entity does so many things that carry good and bad consequences. In the higher scheme, there is really no such thing as good or bad. What we consider to be good is actually something that brings a person closer to the original position, their constitutional occupation. It’s like the hot and cold game. Doing bad things takes a person further away from the end goal.

As long as the goal is not reached, good and bad have no real meaning. If I am close to solving a puzzle and another person is further away, it doesn’t mean that I have solved it. The other person can come back and surpass me with a completed puzzle. Dharma helps a person to go further along towards the finish line. It helps in acquiring good karma, but it doesn’t bring the end itself.

What is that end? What is the constitutional engagement? The incident with Vali gives us an idea. Rama and His younger brother Lakshmana, who were youths, or kumaras, reached Mount Rishyamukha and met with Hanuman. Hanuman is the speaker of the above referenced verse, and he was the minister to the monkey-king Sugriva.

Through Hanuman’s influence, Rama made an alliance with Sugriva. Rama was looking for His wife Sita and Sugriva wanted to reunite with his wife and kingdom in Kishkindha. Rama dealt with His end of the bargain first. His help was required, since with the kingdom regained Sugriva could send an army of soldiers to look for Sita.

The plan was simple. Sugriva and his brother Vali would get into a fight and Rama would shoot Vali with an arrow. It worked. The means of Vali’s death is what appears to contradict dharma. The person who prided Himself on following righteousness shot another warrior in the back. Vali was engaged in a fight, and according to the code of conduct of a warrior during that time it was not proper to shoot someone this way. Kshatriyas, or those in the warrior class, are meant to fight honorably. Using cheap tactics is a sign of weakness.

From that incident we see that Rama, or God, is above dharma. If it were not the case, then He could not be God. Being bound by rules is an indication of inferiority. Rama was above the rules of combat, and He was also the king of the entire forest. The Supreme Lord is sarva-loka-maheshvaram, which means the supreme proprietor within every single planetary system.

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)

image15In His role as kingmaker, Rama hands over temporary responsibility to trusted people. In this case He made Sugriva the pati, or lord, of the entire group of monkeys and bears. Sugriva became king because he was friends with Rama. He would use his post for devotion, which is the highest dharma. Vali had done harm to Sugriva, and so by extension he was not a friend to Rama. Though the Supreme Lord is neutral towards everyone, those who engage in devotion to Him get His special favor. Moreover, Vali got the wonderful benediction of dying directly at the hands of God. He saw the Supreme Lord face to face at the time of death, which assured his liberation from reincarnation.

In Closing:

From proper assessment to take,

As king of monkeys Sugriva to make.


Shooting Vali in the back,

Against dharma was attack?


Above all rules and judgments to stand,

Is Shri Rama, carrying bow and arrow in hand.


Even the slain Vali liberation getting,

Since on Lord’s face departing eyes setting.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Making Predictions

Rama_Lakshmana_Janaki11“O daughter of Janaka, that tiger among men will soon come to you, after killing Ravana and his friends and relatives.” (Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 35.48)

sa tvām manuja śārdūlaḥ kṣipram prāpsyati rāghavaḥ |
samitra bāndhavam hatvā rāvaṇam janaka ātmaje ||

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“Last winter season was surprisingly cold. Rather than declare it an anomaly, an aberration, the experts attributed the change to something called the polar vortex. Of course this was done after the fact. The super cold winter was not predicted beforehand. If it were, then those who had the foresight would get applauded.”

“They don’t really know what they are doing. I hear people on television get plaudits for predicting the results of an election, but they don’t tell you the whole story. The same people make wrong predictions all the time. Do they lose their expert status? No. They continue on. There is no such thing as accurately predicting the future.”

These sentiments are rooted in the fact that the material world is constantly changing. Though the energy at the source is imperishable, the visual tells a different story. The origin is spiritual, known as purusha in Sanskrit. The original purusha glances over the dull, unmanifest substance known as pradhana. From that glance the amazing variety of objects and living things comes to be.

“Material nature acts in two capacities as maya and pradhana. Maya is the direct cause, and pradhana refers to the elements of the material manifestation. When the first purusha-avatara, Maha-Vishnu, glances over the material nature, material nature becomes agitated, and the purusha-avatara thus impregnates matter with living entities.” (Teachings of Lord Chaitanya, Ch 8)

Vishnu_Creating11With the action of kala, or time, things continue to change. There are patterns for sure, and from those patterns a wise person can try to predict the future. Yet these predictions are not always accurate, as the element of karma has to be considered. Each human being has their fruitive activities that have consequential results. The results don’t all manifest at the same time, and so the many reactions slated to arrive can foil the predictions of even the wisest person.

In Vedic history there is the famous Dhruva Maharaja, whose story is nicely told in the Shrimad Bhagavatam. Dhruva was insulted by his step-mother, and when contemplating what to do for revenge, his real mother gave him the advice of approaching the Supreme Lord. Dhruva then did just that, going to the forest to meditate.

“When Dhruva Maharaja was talking with his mother, Suniti, of all the incidents that had taken place in the palace, Narada was not present. Thus the question may be raised how Narada overheard all these topics. The answer is that Narada is trikala-jna; he is so powerful that he can understand the past, future and present of everyone's heart, just like the Supersoul, the Supreme Personality of Godhead.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 4.8.25 Purport)

image9Narada Muni came to visit the boy in the forest. He knew what was going on since he can see past, present and future. This ability is known as trikala-jna. It is inherited from God Himself, who describes in the Bhagavad-gita that He is the beginning, middle and end of all beings.

aham ātmā guḍākeśa


aham ādiś ca madhyaṁ ca

bhūtānām anta eva ca

“I am the Self, O Gudakesha, seated in the hearts of all creatures. I am the beginning, the middle and the end of all beings.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 10.20)

In the above referenced verse from the Ramayana, Shri Hanuman is making a prediction. Though Hanuman is not among the twelve mahajanas listed by Yamaraja in the Bhagavatam, he is one nonetheless. This is because he knows God in truth. Hanuman knows the Supersoul in the heart as the prince of Ayodhya, Shri Rama.

Those who are trikala-jna do not make predictions on trivial matters. Rather, they know the spiritual science so well, and since they are connected to the Supreme Consciousness they are able to use God’s potency to carry out His mission. Here Hanuman is on assignment in the territory of Lanka, which at the time was hostile to devoted souls. Rama’s wife Sita found herself there as well.

Hanuman addresses her as the daughter of King Janaka, who was very pious. Sita’s husband would come to see her shortly. Sita had relations with great souls, while Ravana was connected to bad people. He was the leader of the Rakshasas, after all. Hanuman’s prediction is that Rama will see Sita after having killed Ravana. Ravana’s friends and relatives will be killed, also.

Rama_Lakshmana_Janaki24This prediction would indeed play out. Not a show off, the wise soul Hanuman gives glimpses into the future when the situation is appropriate. He also knows that those who are devoted to Rama in thought, word and deed get Rama’s association in the future. The outcome is guaranteed, and so Hanuman is someone in whom full trust can be extended.

In Closing:

Devoted soul, messenger to Lord is he,

Like saints past, present and future can see.


Hanuman, to Sita making the prediction,

After from Lanka’s reign Ravana’s expulsion.


Through messenger Rama’s interests defended,

So in Hanuman full faith to be extended.


With devotion God’s association guaranteed,

By His grace from maya’s clutches be freed.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Talking About Mental Speculation

22211“The Supreme Lord Krishna can be known by persons who are in a relationship with Him through the discharge of devotional service, like Arjuna and his successors. Persons of demonic or atheistic mentality cannot know Krishna. Mental speculation that leads one away from the Supreme Lord is a serious sin, and one who does not know Krishna should not try to comment on Bhagavad-gita.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 10.15 Purport)

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Friend1: A person shouldn’t mentally speculate.

Friend2: About what?

Friend1: I’m not sure.

Friend2: Umm, you’re the one who said it.

Friend1: I was waiting for you to explain.

Friend2: Where is this coming from?

Friend1: I’ve heard it many times. You shouldn’t mentally speculate. It is sinful.

Friend2: Oh. That’s in relation to understanding the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

Friend1: [smiling] I knew that. I was just messing with you.

Friend2: Do you not understand the point?

Friend1: Hmm. I think I do.

Friend2: Take a crack at it.

Friend1: I always hear it in relation to learning from authority. You’re supposed to understand God as He is from someone who knows Him, like Arjuna in the Bhagavad-gita.

Friend2: Okay, but why is that?

Friend1: Because the definition of God is too broad. There is too much to know. The better route is to accept the information from someone who knows Him already.

Friend2: Yeah. That’s pretty much it.

Friend1: Okay, but why is mental speculation sinful? I equate speculating with contemplating. Basically, it’s saying that thinking about God is sinful. That doesn’t make so much sense to me.

Friend2: No, speculating is a different thing. First, you have to understand what sin is.

Friend1: Doing something bad.

Friend2: Yeah, but it’s more specific than that.

Friend1: Going against what God wants.

Friend2: Right, but why does He want certain things?

Friend1: I’m not sure.

Friend2: The foundation of sin is turning away from the Supreme Lord. Sin is essentially doing something the wrong way. It’s like eating soup with a fork, driving on the wrong side of the road, or hanging up a painting upside down. Take the objective first, and then any activity or behavior that brings you further away from reaching the objective is sinful.

Friend1: I see. So why is thinking about God taking you away from Him? I thought consciousness was the key to everything.

Friend2: Contemplating and speculating are two different things. Think of it like being in a dark room, where the lights are off. If you and I are in the room, we can only speculate as to what is on the walls. We have no idea really.

Friend1: It’s like we’re guessing.

Friend2: Exactly. Now imagine if the same room is lit. We can start to describe what is on the walls. In both instances there is talking. The mind is in use both times. The difference is that in darkness there is speculation, while in the light there is contemplation.

Friend1: Oh, that’s good. By mentally speculating, we’re not really getting an accurate understanding of the Supreme Lord, as He is.

Friend2: That is sinful because the foundation is going away from the Supreme Lord. The behavior is not bringing us any closer to Him in consciousness. You don’t have to take my word for it. Just see the result of mental speculation. There are so many commentaries on the Bhagavad-gita that don’t rely on credible authority. They come up with all sorts of erroneous conclusions on who Krishna is and is not. Then those conclusions get passed on to others. Innocent people get hurt through something that looks harmless; mental speculation.

Friend1: That makes sense. Here’s another question. I sometimes see mental speculation paired with gambling in the list of sinful behaviors. Unnecessary sporting sometimes follows gambling. Is there something related in these behaviors?

Friend2: You mean in the four regulative principles?

Friend1: Yeah.

Friend2: Do you understand why gambling is bad?

Friend1: It takes away honesty.

Friend2: Correct. Nice job. Based on what we were just talking about, you can see how mental speculation is also dishonest, especially when it comes to the Supreme Lord. It is dishonest to say that Krishna is not a person. It is wrong to conclude that God is impersonal in His ultimate feature. Without honesty, you can’t advance.

Friend1: I see.

22225Friend2: Gambling is also a misuse of time. It’s popular if you are bored and have nothing else to do. That’s why mental speculation gets coupled with unnecessary sporting as well. There’s no need for it. Better to hear about God the person from authority. There is plenty of information available from both the original source and those who know Him. Thus the mind should contemplate those features instead of speculating on them. That is better for the individual and anyone who associates with them.

In Closing:

In dark room about walls talking,

On speculation’s road walking.


Since not certain, not always right,

Only when darkness removed by light.


Speculation sinful since away to go,

Parampara right way for Krishna to know.


Hear from someone already in the light,

Then contemplate with understanding right.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Talking About Critical Analysis

bhagavad_gita_BP45_l12“One cannot be disinfected from sinful activities unless he surrenders unto the Supreme Lord. Arjuna's acceptance of Krishna as the supreme pure complies with the injunctions of Vedic literature. This is also confirmed by great personalities, of whom Narada is the chief.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 10.12-13 Purport)

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Friend1: The Bhagavad-gita should be understood through the disciplic succession.

Friend2: Yes.

Friend1: There are Krishna’s original words spoken to Arjuna. Then there is Arjuna who followed them. Then someone followed Arjuna, and so on. Approach someone in that line of teachers. Only then will you truly understand the verses.

Friend2: Exactly. Stuff around us changes. The world today looks totally different than it did five thousand years ago. Not that the principles change, but the perspective of the individual hearing the words is different.

Friend1: What do you mean?

Friend2: For instance, five thousand years ago people understood what yajna is. They knew the duties of a king, the four divisions of society based on occupation, and the modes of material nature. If someone living today were to open the Gita and simply read the words, they would be unfamiliar with so many key terms.

Friend1: That’s absolutely true. I remember the first time I read it, even with the elaborate purports explaining things, it was a bit much to consume. I had to take a gradual approach. I find that I still learn new things each time I read it.

Friend2: If you approach the book the wrong way, it doesn’t matter how many times you read it. If you put a six year old kid in a quantum physics class, they could be there day after day and still not get anything from it. They need the proper understanding from the introductory classes before moving on to the more advanced subject matter.

Friend1: Right. I agree with everything you’re saying. What I wanted to bring up today is something that is well known in the literary field. It is called critical analysis.

Friend2: I’m sure you will elaborate.

image8Friend1: Let’s say that I am interested in a famous historical personality. For this example, we’ll use Benjamin Franklin, the statesman, scientist and inventor. I decide to write a biography on him. In the literary world, the critics will look to see if I am objective. If I am too praiseworthy of Franklin, they will say that my opinion is biased. Their criticism will be a way to diminish the value of my work.

Friend2: Oh yeah, for sure. That really frosts me sometimes. You see these biographers go out of their way to criticize things that aren’t worthy of criticism. They anoint themselves the judge on character, when meanwhile they probably aren’t so great people to begin with. One of the characteristics of a saintly person is forgiveness. These biographers are anything but forgiving.

Friend1: I wanted to know if this has any relevance to the Bhagavad-gita and the parampara system. Shouldn’t we try to learn about Krishna critically, through an objective analysis?

Friend2: And your claim is that the parampara is automatically biased?

Friend1: By definition, it has to be. These people know and understand Krishna as the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

Friend2: There’s a few ways to address this. For starters, to say that Krishna is all-attractive, great, and the origin of everything is not biased. It is not a one-sided view of the Bhagavad-gita. It is simply a recitation of fact. The words are themselves there in the verses spoken by the charioteer of Arjuna.

Friend1: Okay.

Friend2: The other thing is that Arjuna’s perspective is the unbiased one. He has already done a critical analysis. Remember, prior to the Gita being spoken, Arjuna and Krishna knew each other as friends. In family relations they were cousins, but really they considered each other equals. They acted that way, too.

Friend1: Right. Isn’t there that verse where Arjuna apologizes for having acted so informally with Krishna?

Friend2: Yeah. They used to hang out together. There was no awe and reverence. That changed when Krishna explained the highest truths of life to him on the battlefield. This knowledge was not imposed. Arjuna asked for direction. Krishna did not mask the truth in order to preserve the relationship. He even showed the universal form, which is one way of understanding the Absolute Truth.

Friend1: Then Arjuna praised Him, right? He offered those nice prayers.

pt25312Friend2: Exactly. Everything is in the verses. There is nothing to conjure up. Arjuna even cites other authority figures, saying that they concur with his opinion. The person who does an objective analysis of the Bhagavad-gita comes to learn all of these things.

Friend1: So why can’t you do that analysis on your own? Why do you need parampara? And isn’t approaching someone in the line something like extending blind faith?

Friend2: You’ll always have to extend faith. We do that so many times throughout the day. You need parampara to explain the higher concepts to you. A person who is not a devotee explaining Krishna is inherently a cheater. By definition they will misguide you. They don’t know Krishna as He is, so how will they properly explain His words?

Friend1: That’s true.

Friend2: We can’t learn on our own because we lack the underlying culture. We don’t even know Sanskrit. Then there is so much context within the verses, a context known only through time spent in the devotional culture, around people who do know Krishna. Anyway, even with extending faith it doesn’t mean that you check your intellect at the door. While learning, you’re supposed to share your doubts, not suppress them. If you have any misgivings, keep them in mind and see if they can be removed through further study. It’s natural to be skeptical, but the more one knows and understands Krishna, the more sure they become of His supreme standing.

In Closing:

Task of biography writing to take,

In literary world critical analysis to make.


Not like sycophant praise only giving,

Judging objectively how person living.


For Bhagavad-gita on Arjuna’s authority rely,

He having most critical and objective eye.


Authorities of Narada and Vyasa with opinion concur,

For proper understanding to parampara defer.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Agent of Sense Gratification

image18“The Lord says that everything is resting on Him. This should not be misunderstood. The Lord is not directly concerned with the maintenance and sustenance of this material manifestation. Sometimes we see a picture of Atlas holding the globe on his shoulders; he seems to be very tired, holding this great earthly planet. Such an image should not be entertained in connection with Krishna's upholding this created universe.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 9.5 Purport)

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Contract time is coming up. You’ve just completed a career year. You are the league leader in goals and assists. Your plus-minus rating is not only tops amongst all players, but it is even better than what others in the past have accomplished. You are still relatively young, especially for the sport in which you play. You had an integral role in a championship run.

You love the city in which you play and live. You’ve never known another team in your career. The issue is that you want to be paid. The team has taken advantage of the entry-level contract you signed after being drafted. They understand that you’ve been a bargain for them. But now is the time to even things out.

In this hypothetical situation of being a professional athlete playing for a franchise in a league, a common difficulty is negotiation. The player wants to get as much money as possible, extended out for as many years as possible. If the money is guaranteed, then that’s even better. Another added bonus would be to get a no-trade clause, wherein the player can veto any trade proposed to another team.

The franchise, on the other hand, is trying their best to get a bargain. For their own interest, they will not want to praise the player too much. As the situation is awkward, one thing that helps is having an agent, someone to represent the player. The agent can practically say or do anything, and it won’t reflect negatively on the player. The agent does all the negotiating. They have a stake in the outcome. They get a cut of the final contract amount.

His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada explains that the way religion is commonly practiced is analogous to the above situation. Shrila Prabhupada makes the criticism that man has made God an agent for their sense gratification. The situation is like this. I want something. It could be good health, food, or success in a particular venture. The exact objective doesn’t matter, since whatever is asked for will only remain manifest temporarily. I’m looking to satisfy a personal interest.

image8Since I know that God is the Almighty, the most powerful person, I naturally approach Him. It is something like shopping at an online retail outlet. Instead of using a credit card or points accumulated from prior spending, the payment is made through worship. I simply show up to a particular location once a week and make a heartfelt plea. “God, give me this. God, give me that.”

The criticism is offered because there is much more to the Almighty than this. To view Him as an order supplier is to only see one aspect to Him. And even that aspect only represents a portion of His splendor. He says in the Bhagavad-gita that from a fraction of His potency He creates and maintains all the universes. Though He performs such work, He is still the non-doer. He is not affected by the work.

yad yad vibhūtimat sattvaṁ

śrīmad ūrjitam eva vā

tat tad evāvagaccha tvaṁ

mama tejo-'ṁśa-sambhavam

“Know that all beautiful, glorious, and mighty creations spring from but a spark of My splendor.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 10.41)

image6Do the birds eat? Do the tigers find shelter? Is the animal community in general lacking the necessities of life? Obviously, life in the animal community continues. The next question to ask is do they approach the Almighty? Do they shop at the retail outlet known as the house of worship? Again, the answer is obvious. The animal community has no sense of religion and yet the necessities of life come to them without a problem.

The more intelligent human being is fit for a more intelligent way of life. The sharper mind questions the real reason for the existence of the Supreme Lord. There must be a relationship to Him. There must be something that comes from that relationship.

Vedic philosophy is there to reveal everything. The relationship is known as achintya-bhedabheda-tattva. There is simultaneous oneness and difference between God and the living entity. The intelligence of the species is one indication of oneness. Both God and the living entities are intelligent. The persistence of life is another indication. Both individual spirit and Supreme Spirit are imperishable.

The approach of the human being towards God to fulfill orders is one indication of the difference. God is great and the many living entities are not as great. The relationship between the two is achintya, or inconceivable. It is impossible to fathom how something can be both different and the same.

The agent of the Supreme Lord is there to help explain. He canvasses on behalf of God the person to rescue the souls who have fallen into delusion, thinking they can compete with the Almighty in the various categories of opulence. The agent represents God’s interests. He doesn’t ask for anything but devotion, which looks like a sacrifice but really isn’t. Is it not worth it to spare some time for bhakti-yoga in order to feel the highest bliss, pleasure that is transcendental?

Prabhupada_sitting17The agent shows the way for God to be known in truth, as He is. The Supreme Lord is much more than an order supplier. He is surely the sustainer of the universes, but He is also the most well-wishing friend of the living entity. He wants only the best for everyone. The person who tries to understand Him and connect with Him comes to realize this. Then they soon can’t live without His association. They maintain the link through chanting the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

In Closing:

Though atlas tiring when world holding,

From only a spark of Krishna universe unfolding.


When personal desire in me springing,

Prayers to house of worship bringing.


But much more than order supplier is He,

The Supreme Soul, having relationship to me.


Meant to have connection with Him steady,

By words of agent for bhakti-yoga ready.