Saturday, April 23, 2016

Talking About Doing Good Work

IMG_019516“The sufferings of humanity are due to forgetfulness of Krishna as the supreme enjoyer, the supreme proprietor, and the supreme friend. Therefore, to act to revive this consciousness within the entire human society is the highest welfare work. One cannot be engaged in first-class welfare work without being liberated in the Supreme.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 5.25 Purport)

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Friend1: Let me present a hypothetical situation for you.

Friend2: Okay.

Friend1: You have this person.

Friend2: Is it you?

Friend1: No, not me. Someone you respect.

Friend2: Hehe.

Friend1: They go to the temple all the time. They visit a place where an archa-vigraha has been officially installed. They worship at regular intervals.

Friend2: Like daily?

IMG_019528Friend1: Okay, we’ll go with that. They go to the temple daily. They bring a flower and offer it before the deity. They believe in God a lot. They don’t even ask anything from Him. They are beyond the stage of belonging to the four categories of people who render devotional service to Shri Krishna.

Friend2: The distressed, the desirer of wealth, the inquisitive, and he who is searching for knowledge of the Absolute. [Bhagavad-gita, 7.16]

Friend1: Now let’s take another person. They don’t visit the temple.

Friend2: Are they atheist?

Friend1: For this discussion, it doesn’t really matter. Let’s say that they are not. They believe in God the person just as much.

Friend2: Okay.

Friend1: The thing is, they spend their time in philanthropy. They’ve opened so many hospitals.

Friend2: Oh, that’s nice.

Friend1: They are helping so many indigent people to get medical treatment. In many cases, without this treatment the people would die.

Friend2: Okay, I am picturing this.

Friend1: Now, I want to ask you, which person is superior?

Friend2: They are both spirit souls. They are equal in their constitutional makeup. They equally belong to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, tied to Him eternally. Just as the soul continues to live on, beyond this body into the next birth, so the relationship to Krishna will remain.

Friend1: You know that’s not what I am asking. Which path is superior? Who is doing more good?

Friend2: Oh, I see. Well, basing this just on your description, without factoring in what is in the consciousness of each person - obviously the first person is doing more good, the one worshiping every day.

Friend1: I knew you would say that!

Friend2: Then why did you ask?

Friend1: Come on. As John McEnroe would say, “You cannot be serious.” How is anyone going to take you seriously if you make assessments like that?

Friend2: Excuse me? You think I am wrong? You think I am lying to you?

Friend1: Listen, I get it. To be conscious of God is the meaning to life. I understand that in other species the same is not possible. The human birth is auspicious for this very reason.

Friend2: There are up to 8,400,000 different species due to the many combinations and proportions the three modes of nature can be mixed up in. Consider how many species there are before assessing the value of the human birth.

Friend1: I understand, trust me. But how is the person going to the temple helping anyone else? The one opening the hospital can point to so many real life examples of how their work has been effective.

Friend2: Oh, I see what you’re saying. You want to know who is the better welfare worker.

Friend1: Right.

Friend2: Again, my answer is the same. It’s not even difficult to understand.

Friend1: So you’re saying opening hospitals and feeding the poor is worthless? We should just let people go sick, starve, and die?

Friend2: Well, well, well. Aren’t you quick to employ the straw man fallacy? You know that’s not what I’m saying.

Friend1: Hehe.

Friend2: Let me ask you this. If you come across a poor person who asks for money and you give it to them, is that always a good thing?

Friend1: Most people would think so. You need to eat to survive.

Friend2: But what is that person surviving for? What if by feeding them, you allow them to live another day to commit a horrible crime? What if by giving them money you are enabling their drug habit that is slowly killing them?

Friend1: That’s certainly a possibility.

bhaktisiddhanta10Friend2: There is risk involved, you would have to admit. The same is true of any philanthropy. His Divine Grace Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura makes the comparison to feeding a snake. Out of your compassion, you see a snake starving. You give it milk and bananas. Thus revitalized the same snake comes back to bite you. Was your charity a noble deed, then?

Friend1: Obviously not.

Friend2: Moreover, philanthropy by itself does not cure the disease of materialism. If you make a person well and they go on to engage in chewing the chewed, as Prahlada Maharaja calls it, what have you really done for them? The wise person sees that both the rich person and the poor person are equally as miserable if they are devoid of God consciousness.

Friend1: What about the old proverb that an empty sack can’t stand up straight? What about what Krishna says regarding the unsuccessful yogi possibly ending up in a home with opulence in the next birth, shrimatam?

prāpya puṇya-kṛtāṁ lokān

uṣitvā śāśvatīḥ samāḥ

śucīnāṁ śrīmatāṁ gehe

yoga-bhraṣṭo 'bhijāyate

“The unsuccessful yogi, after many, many years of enjoyment on the planets of the pious living entities, is born into a family of righteous people, or into a family of rich aristocracy.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 6.41)

15010_429459285099_736560099_5911416Friend2: Those are good points. Now you’re presenting a real argument. One thing you’re missing is that the devotee of God is not miserly. It is not that they will refuse to help the poor. Rather, they will help in the best possible way. They first set the proper example by following devotion. Then they help others to follow it as well. Obviously, you can’t chant the holy names without being healthy. You can’t engage your thoughts, words and deeds in connecting with the Divine if you are constantly struggling. Nevertheless, even a sick person just ringing the bell of the temple of the Lord one time has made more advancement than any treatment of medicine could give them. There is real potency in the association of the Supreme Lord. He is the final arbiter of outcomes. A person should never forget this.

In Closing:

One person sick patients to heal,

Another towards deity to kneel.


Which doing welfare work more,

What benefit to others when God to adore?


Actually, possibility of feeding a snake,

Rejuvenated then havoc on others to make.


Source of all misery from God forgetting,

Path to bliss only from devotees getting.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Talking About Eternally Liberated

image8“Narada was actually a son of a maidservant. He had no opportunity to go to school. He was simply assisting his mother, and fortunately his mother rendered some service to the devotees. The child Narada also got the opportunity and simply by association achieved the highest goal of all religions, devotional service.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 9.2 Purport)

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Friend1: Alright, I got a tough one for you.

Friend2: Go for it. I’m ready.

Friend1: I’m not sure you’ll be able to tackle this one. It’s pretty tricky. I’m getting a headache just thinking about it.

Friend2: Give it a shot. I’ll help you get your thoughts out, if necessary.

Friend1: Thank you. Okay, it’s about the two concepts of nitya-baddha and nitya-mukta.

Friend2: Okay. Sometimes nitya-mukta is also described as nitya-siddha. Basically the same meaning.

Friend1: Right. The first means eternally bound. Wherever they find themselves in the timeline of reincarnation, the person is bound to the modes of material nature.

Friend2: They are under maya, or illusion.

Friend1: The second refers to a living entity who is always liberated. They are never under the modes of material nature.

Friend2: They inherit this property from God Himself, though technically none of those terms even apply to Him.

Friend1: What do you mean?

Friend2: There is no such thing as liberation for Him since He is never bound. Maya is His energy, after all. He can never fall into illusion. So to say He is liberated is to imply that the modes of nature, goodness and passion and ignorance, can have some influence over Him, which they can’t.

Friend1: I see.

Friend2: But anyway, you have the two terms correct. I’m guessing your question relates to the nitya aspect, which means “eternal.”

Friend1: Right. If someone is nitya-baddha, doesn’t that mean all hope is lost for them? How are they going to get liberation if they’re always conditioned?

Friend2: That’s a good question.

Friend1: And don’t nitya-siddhas come to this world every now and then? There is the example of Narada Muni.

Friend2: Yes. He is one of the most famous spiritual masters in history. His disciples are the who’s-who of Vedic teachers and accomplished writers.

Friend1: We know that the bona fide spiritual master is liberated. Only a liberated person can rescue someone who is bound. The nitya-baddha cannot help another nitya-baddha escape from the clutches of rebirth.

Friend2: Correct.

Friend1: If Narada is eternally liberated, how was he the son of a maidservant in a previous birth? Doesn’t a past birth point to reincarnation? I thought the devotees are saved from taking birth again? This is what Krishna promises in the Bhagavad-gita. The people who worship Him go to His planet, from where they never have to return.

ā-brahma-bhuvanāl lokāḥ

punar āvartino 'rjuna

mām upetya tu kaunteya

punar janma na vidyate

“From the highest planet in the material world down to the lowest, all are places of misery wherein repeated birth and death take place. But one who attains to My abode, O son of Kunti, never takes birth again.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 8.16)

Friend2: These are good questions. I can see why you’d be confused.

Friend1: Is that your way of getting out of answering? I told you it might be too difficult to explain.

Friend2: It’s not, really. First off, no one is ever doomed forever. The people who are envious of God the person get cast into the lower species, where they act as demons. Krishna confirms this in the Bhagavad-gita.

tān ahaṁ dviṣataḥ krūrān

saṁsāreṣu narādhamān

kṣipāmy ajasram aśubhān

āsurīṣv eva yoniṣu

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

Still, as a living being, there is always a choice in action. That is the meaning to independence. At any point, even the worst person can choose the path of devotion. When they do so in earnest, the result is guaranteed. It doesn’t matter where they were before.

Friend1: Then how are they nitya-baddha?

Friend2: Nitya-baddha means you can’t find any point in their timeline, going either forward or backward, where they were liberated. It means that as far as you can trace, they have been conditioned by the modes of nature.

Friend1: Then what is nitya-siddha?

image16Friend2: It means that you can find a point in the timeline where they became liberated. Like with Narada Muni. The fact that he was the son of a maidservant previously has no bearing on his liberated status. We know that in the future he became a pure devotee. He is still that way today. Thus he is always liberated. He comes to the earth through the Supreme Lord’s will. Otherwise he would remain in the spiritual world. They say that no one falls from Vaikuntha, the home of God the person. Vaikuntha is the place free of anxiety. Sometimes people depart from there on assignment, but this doesn’t mean they have fallen into maya.

Friend1: I see. Here is the natural follow up question to that. If we can get liberated in the future, does it mean that we have always been nitya-siddha? Does it mean that we are on assignment and are just unaware of it?

Friend2: Could be. You never know. Only Shri Krishna remembers our previous births. Only He can answer that question.

Friend1: What is the point to teaching us about nitya-baddha and nitya-siddha then?

Friend2: To let you know that you don’t get liberation automatically. If you are conditioned now, it is not by some magic that you’ll break free from reincarnation. You have to make the choice towards the divine light. You have to work to be free of desires for material gain, renunciation and mystic perfection. And once you do make that choice, you don’t ever have to go back. You’ll remain a siddha forever, as long as you stay with devotion. It’s not that complicated, really; it’s just that time and space are beyond the scope of the faculties of the material brain.

In Closing:

Previously as maidservant’s son Narada came,

Through prasadam from sages liberated became.


Doesn’t mean that conditioned was he,

Since from obstruction was free.


For nitya-baddha nowhere to find,

A point of devotion in time’s long line.


For nitya-siddha liberation is there,

Life of devotion residence is where.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Five Things To Wish For The Newborn

dIMG_190710“Out of many thousands among men, one may endeavor for perfection, and of those who have achieved perfection, hardly one knows Me in truth.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.3)

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manuṣyāṇāṁ sahasreṣu

kaścid yatati siddhaye

yatatām api siddhānāṁ

kaścin māṁ vetti tattvataḥ

It’s your first child. You’ve seen children before. This is not your first time around them. You’ve held them in your arms, made funny faces and strange noises, and even changed a diaper or two. Yet this time it’s different. This time the child is yours. They are fully dependent on you. They will listen to whatever you say, at least until they realize they don’t have to.

While gazing at the cute little bundle of joy, you promise to sacrifice everything for their happiness. You know how much of a struggle life in the material world is. You remember all the difficulties you had growing up. You don’t want your child to suffer. You want the best for them.

But what exactly should you wish for? If you are honest with yourself, you acknowledge that some of the greatest struggles helped to make you stronger. Many times, it was not until you finally had to do things for yourself that you became more capable. That withstanding, should you be hands off with the child? What do you want them to do in adulthood? When they are old enough to act independently, how should they use that independence?

1. Don’t fall into ignorance.

The Bhagavad-gita explains the three modes of material nature: goodness, passion and ignorance. Consider these three to be like ingredients, which can be mixed up in so many different proportions and combinations. That’s how you get the 8,400,000 variety of species.

Out of this variety, the human body is the most auspicious. That is because it carries the potential for enlightenment, which correlates with the mode of goodness. Your child has made it to the rare human birth, so the last thing you want is for them to regress. Let them avoid addiction to intoxication. Let them steer clear of the most dangerous behavior that will only bring ruin.

2. See the folly of the mode of passion.

The majority of the human population is in the mode of passion. When a teacher asks a student, “What do you want to do when you grow up,” they are really inquiring about how the child will act in the mode of passion when they are an adult.

image8The mode of passion is a step up from ignorance, for sure, but the wise person sees that it only leads to the same place. Consider the athlete who wins a gold medal at the Olympics. They get fame and notoriety as a result, but by the time the next competition comes around, the past is forgotten. The interest shifts to who will win in the future. Thus through the passage of time, the athlete finds themselves in the exact same position. Their indulgence in passion made very little difference.

Let your child have the good sense to notice this pattern. Let them not throw their days away in video games or useless pursuits of fame and money meant only for personal enjoyment. Let them go beyond.

3. Understand the difference between matter and spirit.

That beyond is the mode of goodness. The person in this mode sees the difference between matter and spirit. Only with this spiritual vision can a person stay above passion and ignorance. Let them do things like read the scriptures and teach others about the highest wisdom that is Vedic philosophy. Let them strive for the advancement of the consciousness. Let them not be bogged down by the temporary. Let them see things as they actually are, where an individual soul and the Supersoul live within each living thing. Let them be like those Krishna describes in the Bhagavad-gita as the ones who actually see.

samaṁ sarveṣu bhūteṣu

tiṣṭhantaṁ parameśvaram

vinaśyatsv avinaśyantaṁ

yaḥ paśyati sa paśyati

“One who sees the Supersoul accompanying the individual soul in all bodies and who understands that neither the soul nor the Supersoul is ever destroyed, actually sees.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 13.28)

4. Be one of the fortunate ones described by Shri Chaitanya.

There is a famous verse in the Chaitanya Charitamrita that describes the good fortune of the living entity who comes in contact with a spiritual master and receives from them the seed of the creeper of devotional service. These two gifts are rare to any species, let alone the human being.

brahmāṇḍa bhramite kona bhāgyavān jīva

guru-kṛṣṇa-prasāde pāya bhakti-latā-bīja

“According to their karma, all living entities are wandering throughout the entire universe. Some of them are being elevated to the upper planetary systems, and some are going down into the lower planetary systems. Out of many millions of wandering living entities, one who is very fortunate gets an opportunity to associate with a bona fide spiritual master by the grace of Krishna. By the mercy of both Krishna and the spiritual master, such a person receives the seed of the creeper of devotional service.” (Chaitanya Charitamrita, Madhya 19.151)

The seed is not found just anywhere. It has to be received by someone who already flourishes in devotion, or bhakti. Only such a person can give it to another. The lone requirement is humble submission. This is also mentioned in the Bhagavad-gita, where Krishna advises Arjuna to approach a spiritual master and inquire from him submissively.

tad viddhi praṇipātena

paripraśnena sevayā

upadekṣyanti te jñānaṁ

jñāninas tattva-darśinaḥ

“Just try to learn the truth by approaching a spiritual master. Inquire from him submissively and render service unto him. The self-realized soul can impart knowledge unto you because he has seen the truth.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.34)

Still, there is some good fortune required, as a bona fide spiritual master usually isn’t to be found around every corner. Let the child have a sincere desire to understand the Divine, without trying to compete with Him in areas of opulence such as beauty, wealth and strength.

5. Take up bhakti in earnest.

If they are fortunate enough to get the seed of the creeper, let it blossom into a full blown tree through following bhakti. In fact, this wish supersedes the previous ones. The child may be in ignorance, stuck in passion, not know anything about the difference between matter and spirit, or even have never met a spiritual master - but if they can take up devotion to God in earnest, then they have succeeded in life.

dIMG_190722Bhakti is a choice, so it cannot be forced upon anyone. No matter how much love I have for my child, I cannot guarantee that they will make the choice towards love and devotion. One step towards the Supreme Personality of Godhead does so much to earn His favor. Rare is the person who even attempts to understand Him; one out of thousands. Out of that select group, hardly one knows Him in truth. Still, at least attempting bhakti does so much. It brings the direct association of the Supreme Lord, and in the mature stages the devotee is able to both realize and relish that presence. Blessed with that association, the father has succeeded.

In Closing:

Greatest blessing coming to you,

That holding in arms your child new.


The most happiness in future let them see,

From ignorance and passion be free.


Good fortune through guru getting seed,

Creeper into tree through devotion to feed.


To take up bhakti most important of all,

Let Shri Krishna be best friend to call.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Just A Little Bit

IMG_368610“In this endeavor there is no loss or diminution, and a little advancement on this path can protect one from the most dangerous type of fear.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.40)

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nehābhikrama-nāśo 'sti

pratyavāyo na vidyate

sv-alpam apy asya dharmasya

trāyate mahato bhayāt

A person is empowered by just a little bit of hearing a specific sound. Having spent so much time in despair, misery and doubt, suddenly everything changes. All that was tried previously didn’t work. The solutions had temporary effectiveness, but after a while the previous state was again found. The Bhagavad-gita explains this to be the result of work in the mode of passion.

rajo rāgātmakaṁ viddhi


tan nibadhnāti kaunteya

karma-saṅgena dehinam

“The mode of passion is born of unlimited desires and longings, O son of Kunti, and because of this one is bound to material fruitive activities.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 14.7)

What exactly is the mode of passion? The best example is illicit sex life. There is desire from both parties. There is mutual attraction. That attraction then leads to something. It is said that the entire material world is built on this attraction. Men and women visit the gym, strive for improvement in social standing, purchase expensive items from retail outlets, and look for increased means of enjoyment. This is all for the purpose of remaining attractive to the opposite sex.

image71After experiencing the height of enjoyment, what comes next? What is the end result? The entire process must be repeated. Likely the same enjoyment won’t be there the next time; the law of diminishing returns. Today I feel like eating pizza for lunch, but it is not guaranteed that I will want the same tomorrow. If the exact same kind of pizza gets cooked and presented to me day after day, after some time the enjoyment won’t be the same.

The mode of passion leads to a neutral state, while the mode of ignorance brings regression. Think of playing video games. That is pure passion. Then when there is anger and frustration, you break the controller. That is ignorance, since the act doesn’t lead to anything good. You need a controller to play. Now you are without one, which means you have regressed.

The human being is meant to ascend to at least the mode of goodness. This is where things start to turn around. In the mode of goodness you learn that you are spirit and not matter. Through practical steps, you realize the spiritual equality of all forms of life, including those outside of the human species.


brāhmaṇe gavi hastini

śuni caiva śva-pāke ca

paṇḍitāḥ sama-darśinaḥ

“The humble sage, by virtue of true knowledge, sees with equal vision a learned and gentle brahmana, a cow, an elephant, a dog and a dog-eater [outcaste].” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 5.18)

image7Goodness, passion, ignorance, reincarnation, impersonal, personal, all-pervading, material nature, internal potency, illusory energy - who has time to go into these topics in depth for proper understanding? In the present age of quarrel and hypocrisy, just chant the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

Just a little bit of progress along this path does so much. At the very least, there is time sacrificed for meditation. If you’re chanting properly, really hearing the sound vibration, then for that time period you are free of thoughts in passion. You are not angry and looking to do something foolish. You are even above the mode of goodness for a short time, as there is no desire for improvement.

In a material existence, the living entity is riddled with fear. This only makes sense, as every outcome is uncertain. There is certainty in death, but there is no way of knowing exactly when it will arrive. It is like something is hiding behind the door, ready to strike at any moment. Things can be calm and peaceful, but in a second the situation is liable to change.

IMG_368621Just a little chanting, with some faith and under the guidance of an authorized representative of the Supreme Lord, goes a long way towards improving the experience through life. Imagine, then, what a lot of chanting will do. The success of the process is due to the holy name itself. That special sound vibration is empowered with the direct presence of the Supreme Lord, who is above goodness, passion and ignorance. He brings the same transcendence to those who associate with Him regularly. That association is available to everyone, as it can come through something as simple as sound.

In Closing:

Just a little of mantra hear,

To be saved from greatest fear.


Modes of material nature three,

But none totally of karma free.


Goodness going up, passion the same,

Regression when in ignorance the name.


Of such complicated study no need,

Be liberated from maha-mantra indeed.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Paying For The Wall

Katyayani10[4]“Goddess Durga is so named because this material world is like a big fort where the conditioned soul is placed under her care.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Chaitanya Charitamrita, Madhya 21.53 Purport)

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The material creation is under the control of Durga Devi. She is also known by other names, such as Parvati, Bhavani, and Ambika. She is the devoted wife of Lord Shiva, who is steady in his vow to have only one wife. After all, he is the conqueror of desire personified, Kama Deva, so even when he gets married he remains in dharma. He is always virtuous in his devotion to the Supreme Lord, and that devotion is there in his wife as well.

Durga Devi carries a trident in her hand, the trishula, which symbolizes the threefold miseries of life. There are miseries caused by the devatas, or celestial beings. Think of the “natural disaster” clause in an insurance policy. These point to hurricanes, earthquakes, tsunamis and other things that are considered to be divine in origin, uncontrollable by man.

There are miseries caused by other living entities. Think of the aggressors that invade the home, the community, or even the nation. There are also miseries caused from within. Think of the worry and panic over the uncertain outcome related to something important. Think of the disease that attacks from within the body.

Katyayani21[4]Durga Devi’s favor lessens the intensity of these miseries. The pain and suffering don’t vanish completely, as the material world is still like a prison. The literal meaning to the Devi’s name is “difficult to overcome.” The land over which she has jurisdiction is like a fort, with very high and seemingly unscalable walls. The walls are there to keep the people in. Within can be found repeated birth and death, with temporary ups and downs in between. There is constant hankering and lamenting. For temporary relief one may humbly approach Durga Devi.

In recent times, a hot topic for discussion in the United States is illegal immigration. People are entering the country undetected, mainly through the southern border. They are not going through the typical process of immigration screening. Hence the people in charge can’t keep track of who is in the country. The vulnerability is one an enemy to the nation can easily exploit.

Politicians have long since suggested the idea of erecting a fence along that portion of the border to solve the problem. A recent candidate for president has gone one step further. “Build a wall,” he says. Very confident that such a wall will be built, he goes one step further by promising that the bordering nation will foot the bill. They will pay for the wall. To opponents, this is illogical. Why would the nation sending the people to enter illegally pay for a mechanism to prevent it from happening?

image7[4]As far as the material realm goes, the people inside of Durga Devi’s fort are most certainly paying for the wall. They don’t realize it, but through continued antagonism towards the author of all things, the person whom both Parvati and Shiva worship constantly, the wall continues to stay up.

Mukunda is a name for the Supreme Lord. This means “one who grants mukti,” which is liberation. A common understanding of liberation is the release from the cycle of birth and death. Moksha is synonymous with mukti, and the literal definition of moksha is “to release.” Using the fort analogy, we understand exactly from what the release comes.

“For one who has accepted the boat of the lotus feet of the Lord, who is the shelter of the cosmic manifestation and is famous as Mukunda or the giver of mukti, the ocean of the material world is like the water contained in a calf's hoofprint. Param padam, or the place where there are no material miseries, or Vaikuntha, is his goal, not the place where there is danger in every step of life.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 10.14.58)

Another analogy used to explain the material existence is a vast ocean. It’s an ocean of suffering, samsara. You need a boatman to take you across. In Vedic literature it is said that if you have the favor of Mukunda, then the material creation shrinks in size. No longer a vast ocean, it becomes the size of a puddle contained within the hoofprint left by a calf.

image8[4]The desire to compete with God pays for the walls of the fort to stay up. As soon as the desire changes, the walls come down. Bhakti, or devotion, facilitates legal entry into the spiritual kingdom, where there is constant enjoyment in service to the Divine. The Supreme Lord welcomes back His sons and daughters, who return to His shelter through their own choosing. Those who truly understand Durga Devi know that devotion to God is her main function in life. Rather than seek temporary relief from the threefold miseries of life, such wise souls seek her blessings to continue in devotion. They ask that she kindly use her trident to stamp out the desires for material gain, renunciation and mystic perfection.

In Closing:

To block illegal entry’s way,

To build a wall with Mexico to pay.


Why the other side to foot the bill?

Illogical and against interest is it still.


Similar like a fort is the material land,

Governed by Durga with trident in hand.


By desires of inhabitants the wall is paid,

From devotion easy exit to other side is made.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Taking Credit For The Creation

33211[4]“I am the source of all spiritual and material worlds. Everything emanates from Me. The wise who know this perfectly engage in My devotional service and worship Me with all their hearts.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 10.8)

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ahaṁ sarvasya prabhavo

mattaḥ sarvaṁ pravartate

iti matvā bhajante māṁ

budhā bhāva-samanvitāḥ

The followers of Vedanta philosophy typically fall into one of two camps. There are the Mayavadis and the devotees, i.e. impersonalists and personalists. The Mayavadis believe there is no personality behind the spiritual energy. They acknowledge the difference between matter and spirit, prakriti and purusha. They know the difference between Brahman and maya, or the Absolute Truth and illusion. They think that ultimately spirit itself is the cause. In the present manifestation, the complete whole of Brahman has been fragmented. Once those fragments come together, the whole will be complete again.

The personalists believe in Bhagavan, who is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Another way to describe Him is Parabrahman. This means the one who is superior to even the complete spiritual energy. There are different ways to describe the philosophy of personalists. Some say it’s a combination of dual and nondual. Some say it’s a special kind of combined dualism and nondualism. The philosophy of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu provides the most complete definition. The term is achintya-bhedabheda-tattva, or the truth of simultaneous oneness and difference.

The advaita philosophy is valid. We are the same as God through being Brahman at the core. Brahman means we are spirit just like the source of spirit. There is dvaita, or duality, as well. This is because we don’t have the same potency as the source of spirit. He is supreme, or Paramatma, while we are individual, or jivatma.

An obvious way to tell that there is dvaita is from the fact that we are not the source of everything. The Bhagavad-gita is a famous work of the Vedic tradition that both personalists and impersonalists respect and reference. It is a conversation between guru and disciple. The guru is Shri Krishna and the disciple Arjuna. Krishna is not ambiguous about the fact that He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Bhagavan. Both impersonalism and personalism are mentioned. Arjuna at one point even asks which path is better.

arjuna uvāca

evaṁ satata-yuktā ye

bhaktās tvāṁ paryupāsate

ye cāpy akṣaram avyaktaṁ

teṣāṁ ke yoga-vittamāḥ

“Arjuna inquired: Which is considered to be more perfect: those who are properly engaged in Your devotional service, or those who worship the impersonal Brahman, the unmanifested?” (Bhagavad-gita, 12.1)

Bv-PojBWkKGrHqFi8Ev10E-RuBMG1QlIgiw_[4]Krishna several times mentions how He is the source of everything. These statements by themselves negate the core of Mayavada philosophy. If every living being is the same, if there is no individuality at the highest level, then it means that I am the source of everything. Though Krishna lays claim to this title, since I am the same as God, I could go around saying the same thing. If my son asks me where we came from, I can tell him that it was me. I created this and every other world. You can do the same, my child. Every person has a right to follow this line.

image6[4]We know from recorded history that a person named George Washington existed. He was one of the people who started the nation known as the United States of America, being influential in overthrowing the British and giving birth to the governing documents like the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. This group of men is collectively known as the Founding Fathers. Based on the advaita logic, I can equate myself with George Washington. After all, he is a person and I am a person. He is Brahman and so am I. Therefore, I led the Continental Army to victory against the British. I was the first president of the United States. I don’t remember these things, but that is only because of the influence of maya.

Obviously such thinking is preposterous. Yet the Mayavadi would have to deny the existence of an individual creator if they are to be loyal to their philosophy. The words of Shri Krishna are both truthful and instructive. There is nothing lost by acknowledging that an all-attractive figure, who is full of mercy and compassion, created this and every other universe. Shri Krishna delivers the surrendered souls, those who are tired of spinning on the wheel of reincarnation. The powerful bow warrior Arjuna accepted everything that Krishna presented to him as is. That is the meaning to the Bhagavad-gita, and anyone who says otherwise is engaged in a high form of cheating.

In Closing:

By following philosophy of Mayavada name,

Equating individual souls to Supreme the same.


This means that world created by me,

I am the source of all that you see.


The same by you can be done,

Difference to historical figures none.


Truth from Shri Krishna directly hear,

From Bhagavad-gita authority clear.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Glorification From Hiranyakashipu

laxmi_narayan_QA23_l12“Everyone, including the rulers of the various planets, was extremely distressed because of the severe punishment inflicted upon them by Hiranyakashipu. Fearful and disturbed, unable to find any other shelter, they at last surrendered to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vishnu.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 7.4.21)

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sarve lokāḥ sapālakāḥ


śaraṇaṁ yayur acyutam

Question: “I recently heard an interesting point of view. It says that Hiranyakashipu actually glorified God more than his son, the famous Prahlada. How can that be, considering that Prahlada was such a great devotee of the Lord?”

The demigods and the demons. The good guys and the bad guys. The pious matched up against the sinners. This struggle has been going on since before anyone can remember. The Sanskrit words for the two parties are sura and asura. Based on the definitions, we see that the latter is merely the negation of the former.

In simpler terms, the suras are the good guys. Their defining characteristic is acknowledgement of, and at the very least, appreciation for the Divine. A modern day equivalent would be the concept of a “God-fearing” person. The sura does not think that everything in this world came into existence through randomness. They do not think that through enough scientific research man can prolong the temporary life indefinitely into the future. They know there is a higher power in charge of things, and that relatively speaking the living entity has very little control, struggling a lot in a material existence.

The asura is the complete opposite of the sura. All bad qualities arise from the single turn in direction away from the life of the sura. As soon as the individual forgets God, thinking that the post of supreme controller is somehow up for grabs, they become open to doing anything. Stealing, lying and cheating are all rooted in ignorance of the existence of an all-pervading witness, the Supreme Lord who rests within every heart as the Supersoul.

upadraṣṭānumantā ca

bhartā bhoktā maheśvaraḥ

paramātmeti cāpy ukto

dehe 'smin puruṣaḥ paraḥ

“Yet in this body there is another, a transcendental enjoyer who is the Lord, the supreme proprietor, who exists as the overseer and permitter, and who is known as the Supersoul.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 13.23)

Though God has no ears as we know them, He hears everything. Though He has no eyes that are prone to defects such as dryness, redness, and degradation of function with time, He still sees everything. The asura fails to realize this, and so they become further entrenched in rebirth through sinful activities. One of the most famous among the asuras is Hiranyakashipu. He appeared in the species of Daitya, which is a specific kind of asura descending from a woman known as Diti. The original suras of this world descend from her sister Aditi.

The one redeeming quality of Hiranyakashipu was that he had a pure devotee for a son. Prahlada had the qualities of a sura, but he went beyond that designation. Suras can sometimes have mixed devotion, wherein they seek temporary gains, renunciation, or mystic perfection. Prahlada was a shudda-bhakta; pure in every way. He wanted only to remain devoted to Vishnu, which is one name for God the person.

laxmi_narayan_QA23_l25Prahlada glorified Vishnu both through explicit prayers and devotional acts. He faced obstacles that were insurmountable and unimaginable to the people of the world. Hiranyakashipu was so against Vishnu that he tried to kill Prahlada for showing devotion. Prahlada survived attacks involving fire, poison and snakes. Somehow he couldn’t be killed. Despite his many attempts, Hiranyakashipu could not succeed. In the end Vishnu Himself would arrive on the scene to kill the father and personally protect the son.

Is it not insanity to say that Hiranyakashipu actually glorified God? After all, the king’s words were to the contrary. At every step he tried to deny Vishnu’s existence. It would be even crazier to say that Hiranyakashipu glorified Vishnu more than Prahlada. Delving into the matter further, we can see the validity to such claims.

Bhakti-yoga is love and devotion to God the person. It is known as bhagavata-dharma, or the highest religion. It is the one system of behavior that unifies all parties, from all backgrounds. Every person should love God. It doesn’t matter what their professed religion is. It doesn’t matter what they know or don’t about spiritual matters. They should offer as a sacrifice the fruits of their work for the pleasure of the Divine.

Conversely, any activity that is not connected to the Supreme Lord is harmful. This is difficult to believe due to the illusion that pervades the material world. Hiranyakashipu was the greatest non-believer. He provided the example of the extreme in the opposite direction. Namely, he succeeded as far as a person can in material life. He was very wealthy, totally in control, and feared by practically everyone. He accomplished all of this on the strength of his atheism.

Hiranyakashipu’s accomplishments came as close to perfection as is humanly possible. Due to boons received from Lord Brahma, he was immune from death in so many situations. Hiranyakashipu’s standing was so high and inconceivable that the less intelligent relegate his story to mythology, a work of fiction.

Even if that is the line of thinking, at the very least his example makes for a valuable theoretical exercise. What if you could be as successful as possible in material life? What if you were so strong that nobody could defeat you in battle? What if the entire world listened to every command you gave? Hiranyakashipu had this lofty position, and it still wasn’t enough. He was brought down by the devotion of his son. The son’s strength was directly sourced in the Supreme Lord Vishnu.

lord_narasimha_ts2311Hiranyakashipu paid the highest compliment to God by showing that the height of material opulence is no match for the will of the Divine. Taking the spiritual form known as Narasimhadeva, Vishnu exploited the slightest weakness in Hiranyakashipu’s armor of boons. Hiranyakashipu had ninety-nine percent security, but God only needs one percent to get His work done. By persecuting Prahlada, Hiranyakashipu paid homage to the unmatched strength of devotional service. In this way he will always be linked to the Supreme Lord and His devotees.

In Closing:

That he glorified strange to think,

But always to Vishnu a link.


For Hiranyakashipu the king,

Who in enjoyment not lacking a thing.


To stop Prahlada’s devotion he tried,

On his own great strength he relied.


But succeed against devotion he would not,

Vision of Divine incarnate he got.