Saturday, April 30, 2016

Five Reasons That Surrender To Krishna Is The Best Kind Of Sectarianism

radhakrishna510“Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reaction. Do not fear.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 18.66)

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sarva-dharmān parityajya

mām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ vraja

ahaṁ tvāṁ sarva-pāpebhyo

mokṣayiṣyāmi mā śucaḥ

“Follow this path or be condemned forever. Surrender now and be saved. Do you really want to take the chance with eternal damnation? Are you willing to accept such a risk? The wise have saved themselves. Accept our savior. Repent for your sins and be forgiven.”

With rationally thinking adults this line of persuasion is the least effective, as no one really wants to be told how bad they are. They also see an obvious conflict. If people from each religion spout the same words, there is automatically a contradiction. How can there be more than one savior? One of the groups has to be wrong, no? By accepting one religion, you’re automatically rejecting another.

The Bhagavad-gita is the highest philosophy known to man. It is spoken directly by the Supreme Personality of Godhead in a conversation meant to persuade a doubting warrior into action. Yet even that work has the obligatory call to surrender in the concluding verses. After explaining so many important topics to Arjuna, Krishna advises him to simply surrender. By so doing, Arjuna will be saved from all sinful reaction.

atha vā bahunaitena

kiṁ jñātena tavārjuna

viṣṭabhyāham idaṁ kṛtsnam

ekāṁśena sthito jagat

“But what need is there, Arjuna, for all this detailed knowledge? With a single fragment of Myself I pervade and support this entire universe.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 10.42)

In another place Krishna says that the detailed knowledge of the creation, maintenance and dissolution of the world is not necessary. Just knowing a little bit about Krishna is sufficient. Is not this also a kind of sectarianism, then? If God is one, why would He make any religion exclusively superior to another? Indeed, even if one is worried about following Krishna blindly, out of sentiment, approaching Him in this manner is still the best course.

1. He sanctions the rewards offered by other heavenly figures

There is no need to even go outside of the Vedic tradition to run a thorough and extensive analysis. Within what is commonly known as Hinduism is a variety of styles of worship and worshipable figures. The higher authorities who are not God the person are known as devatas, which loosely translates to “demigods” in English. If you worship the demigods properly, you can get so many things. Indeed, anything in a material existence is available.

ye 'py anya-devatā-bhaktā

yajante śraddhayānvitāḥ

te 'pi mām eva kaunteya

yajanty avidhi-pūrvakam

“Whatever a man may sacrifice to other gods, O son of Kunti, is really meant for Me alone, but it is offered without true understanding.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.23)

Worship of these gods can be in a kind of sectarian mood as well. From the Bhagavad-gita we learn that Shri Krishna actually must give His sanction before any benediction can be handed out. In this role He is known as Yajneshvara, or the lord of sacrifice. He must be present in some capacity for these rituals to be effective. He is my benefactor’s benefactor, so there is no harm in going to Him directly for any desire to be fulfilled.

2. He is not a prophet or the son of God

The origin of the creation, the maintenance of the material nature, the eventual destruction, the three modes of nature, the potency in sacrifice - basically for any important topic Shri Krishna is the source. He uses the Sanskrit word “mam” all the time, which leaves no room for ambiguity. He is not speaking of any power higher than Himself. He even says that all truths rest in Him, like pearls on a string.

mattaḥ parataraṁ nānyat

kiñcid asti dhanañjaya

mayi sarvam idaṁ protaṁ

sūtre maṇi-gaṇā iva

“O conqueror of wealth [Arjuna], there is no Truth superior to Me. Everything rests upon Me, as pearls are strung on a thread.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.7)

27112If there were an authority superior to Krishna, it would have appeared on that battlefield of Kurukshetra, the scene for the Bhagavad-gita conversation. It was not a voice from the sky who spoke to Arjuna. There was not some God within that Arjuna had to consult. Rather, everything came from Krishna. Sentimental allegiance to Him therefore means having a favorable view of the highest personality.

3. He is the only person who explains every kind of religion

The reason to turn away from the overzealous preacher demanding surrender is that there is no logic behind their claims. Any person can say that they are God. Any person can instill fear in others by threatening doom resulting from neglect of worship. There should be some logic and reasoning behind the call to action.

“…Due to the great variety of desires and natures among human beings, there are many different theistic philosophies of life, which are handed down through tradition, custom and disciplic succession. There are other teachers who directly support atheistic viewpoints.” (Lord Krishna, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 11.14.8)

Surrender to Krishna is different because He acknowledges the variety of religious systems and even explains why they exist. The cause is desire. For every desire there are people supporting it. They have systems for fulfilling their desire of choice. There are teachers who even support atheism.

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)

Krishna explains every kind of religion. He is the superior philosopher since He is an expert on every philosophical viewpoint. He sums up the result of following the different systems in one verse in the Bhagavad-gita. He says those who worship other figures go to the planets of those figures, while those who worship Him go to His abode. Those who go to Krishna’s planet never return to the land of birth and death.

4. He will deny requests

Do you want money? Do you want fame? Has someone offended you and now you desperately want revenge? Do you desire renunciation in the quest for peace and quiet? Whether you are full of desires, free of them, or wanting only the pleasure of the Supreme Lord, Shri Krishna is the best person to approach. He is unique because He will actually deny requests.

A famous television personality boldly claims to be “looking out for the folks.” Of course, this is not possible without having the potency to benefit others and knowing what is best for them. Only Shri Krishna, or God the person, can actually help out all folks, including those not in the human species. Sectarian allegiance to Him means having requests denied from time to time. Only a genuine benefactor would behave in this manner. Yet it is also the reason the majority of the earthly population is hesitant to approach Him. Krishna is also known as Hari, which means one who takes away. Worship of Krishna is purifying.

5. Sectarianism with Him is not limiting

There is a reason sentimental allegiance to a particular religion gets described as “blind following.” If you are entering only out of sentiment, you actually remain in the dark. The human being has intelligence for a reason. They should question everything, especially for something as important as life and death. They should bring every doubt to the table. Skepticism is a way to guard against frauds and cheats.

radhakrishna523Skepticism brought into worship of Krishna helps to later on strengthen allegiance. Shri Krishna is the source of everything, so He can explain practically everything, up to the brain’s capacity to understand. He shines the lamp of knowledge, which acts as a sword to cut away the binding ropes of ignorance. Even if a person blindly follows the darling son of mother Yashoda, their allegiance brings the ultimate benefit in the end. If a person is given to sentimental following, the safest route is to stay attached to the all-attractive one.

In Closing:

From Him highest philosophy to gain,

Every viewpoint and religion to explain.


So that afterwards reservations without,

Encouraged to bring every concern and doubt.


Shri Krishna, even if following blind,

Through association purifying the mind.


Since looking out for interests mine,

Sometimes to deny requests in kind.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Taking Narayana As The Supreme

vishnu10“Vishnu is beyond the range of the material manifestation, and He is not within the control of the material energy. He is the supreme independent Personality of Godhead. This is even admitted by Shankaracharya: narayanah paro 'vyaktat (Gita-bhashya).” (Shrila Prabhupada, Chaitanya Charitamrita, Madhya 20.311 Purport)

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The Shrimad Bhagavatam lists Lord Buddha as an incarnation of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, meaning that He is identical to God Himself. This is interesting considering what Lord Buddha taught. In the Vedic tradition He is not worshiped in a formal way. Indeed, Buddha started His own religion: Buddhism. Similarly, there are other great personalities of spiritual life who are not necessarily known for the practice of bhakti-yoga. Upon further study, we see that there is actually no contradiction.

There is the concept of time and circumstance. You can’t teach everything to all people at all times. It is something like that of instructing children in the alphabet before moving on to grammar. You teach basic addition and subtraction before introducing higher concepts like calculus. In this way we can see the need for variation in systems of religion, even though the ultimate objective is always the same.

sa vai puṁsāṁ paro dharmo

yato bhaktir adhokṣaje

ahaituky apratihatā

yayātmā suprasīdati

“The supreme occupation [dharma] for all humanity is that by which men can attain to loving devotional service unto the transcendent Lord. Such devotional service must be unmotivated and uninterrupted to completely satisfy the self.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 1.2.6)

The Shrimad Bhagavatam says that the highest dharma, or system of religion, is that which teaches love for God. Love is directed at a person, so this means for the religion to qualify it must acknowledge the personal aspect to the Divine. Love is also selfless, wanting more for the object of affection than for yourself. Therefore the qualifying dharma must be free of outside desires, such as for material gain, renunciation, and mystic perfection. Lord Chaitanya puts all outside desires into three categories: bhukti, mukti and siddhi.

'hetu'-śabde kahe--bhukti-ādi vāñchāntare

bhukti, siddhi, mukti--mukhya ei tina prakāre

“The word hetu [cause] means that a thing is done for some motive. There can be three motives. One may act to enjoy the result personally, to achieve some material perfection, or to act in such a way that one may be liberated.” (Lord Chaitanya, Chaitanya Charitamrita, Madhya 24.27)

IMG_038713The same Shrimad Bhagavatam goes into detail about the form, qualities and pastimes of Shri Krishna. He is non-different from God as well. Krishnas tu bhagavan svayam means that Krishna is Bhagavan Himself. Bhagavan is the full realization of God, superior to that of Paramatma and Brahman. God is a person full of opulences. He takes to activities beyond the neutrality exhibited by the Supersoul. He is more than the undifferentiated spiritual energy that is Brahman.

The purpose of the Buddha avatara was to stop the degraded system of animal sacrifice prevalent in Vedic culture. To effect this change, He had to reject the Vedas, teaching almost a kind of atheism. Lord Shiva descended as Shankaracharya centuries later to diminish the influence of the atheism of Buddhism. Then other famous acharyas followed who worked to invalidate the impersonalism taught by Shankaracharya.

Rama---Lakshmana---Janaki11Ramanuja and Madhva fearlessly propagated the philosophy of dualism, wherein the living entity and the Supreme Lord are identical in spiritual nature but also different based on quantification of potency. Ramanuja worshiped Narayana, or Vishnu, as the Supreme Godhead. So did Madhva. Those following in Ramanuja’s line tend to worship Narayana in His incarnation of Rama, who is accompanied by the eternal consort Sita. In Madhva’s line, the worship is typically of Shri Krishna, who is accompanied by Shrimati Radharani.

Lord Chaitanya later taught that Krishna is the original Personality of Godhead, with Vishnu being an incarnation. His philosophy is achintya-bhedabheda-tattva, which also describes simultaneous oneness and difference. Does this mean that Ramanuja and Madhva were wrong? Were they fools for accepting Narayana as the Supreme? Did they not know the glories of Krishna?

In reality, there is no contradiction. The difference is merely in mood of worship. Lord Chaitanya gave emphasis to madhurya-rasa, which is worship in the mood of sweetness. Previous acharyas shed light on other rasas, but not so much on madhurya. Nevertheless, the effectiveness of their work cannot be denied. No effort in devotional service, bhakti-yoga, ever goes in vain. There is no loss or diminution on that path, and it saves one from the greatest fear.

nehābhikrama-nāśo 'sti

pratyavāyo na vidyate

sv-alpam apy asya dharmasya

trāyate mahato bhayāt

“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)

vishnu20Whether one accepts Vishnu, Krishna, or Rama as the Supreme, if there is pure devotion then the result of continued association with God is guaranteed. Some worship Lord Shiva, who is almost like God Himself. Shridhara Svami, the famous commentator on Shrimad Bhagavatam, though a worshiper of Vishnu in His form of Narasimhadeva believed that ultimately there is no difference between Shiva and Vishnu. There is benefit even from realization of Brahman and Paramatma only. The rule is that the worshiper gets the association of the object of their worship. Those who worship Narayana go to His realm, where there is a specific kind of interaction. Those who worship Krishna go to His planet, where they can engage in several different moods of worship, all the way up to madhurya.

In Closing:

One person Narayana supreme taking,

Another offerings to Shiva-linga making.


Worship of both Vishnu and Shiva there,

Of contradictions in shastra aware.


Difference just in the mood to know,

Determining destination future to go.


With Vishnu or avataras devotion to exist,

Service in mood of choice forever to persist.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Five Reasons There Is No Retirement In Devotional Service

Radha-Krishna11“Bhakti is our eternal engagement, and when we engage in our eternal activities, we attain salvation, or liberation. When we engage in false activities, we are in illusion, maya. Mukti, liberation, means remaining in our constitutional position.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Quest for Enlightenment, Ch 6d)

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It’s a legitimate concern. It’s something practically every person living in the modern day will have to worry about, should they live long enough. More importantly, it is a difficult problem to solve. There are different strategies to go about finding the solution, but nothing is fixed in this world. This means that the future is impossible to predict.

The concern is retirement, when there is no more working for a living. In old age the body starts to slow down in ability. There is the desire to relax. Who wants to sit in an office day after day, until it is time to leave their body? Better to save up now, to make room for enjoyment later.

The real meaning to Hinduism is sanatana-dharma. The definitions to the two Sanskrit terms are “eternal” and “engagement” or “occupation.” Dharma also means religiosity, virtue and duty. Real spirituality, genuine religious life, is something that has no beginning and no end. It is the one occupation in which there is no retirement. Stay in the job as long as you wish. One concern in the present job marketplace is losing health insurance. Health insurance is not portable; it does not carry over from job to job. Sanatana-dharma does indeed stay with the individual from lifetime to lifetime.

1. It’s not about the money

One of the reasons you retire from a job is that you have saved up enough money. You’re getting paid for the work that you do. Otherwise, why even do it? Why sit there and take heat from the boss, who you know to be lying? Why pretend to be friends with someone just in order to make a deal? Why yell at a potential vendor as part of the process of negotiating a deal?

gajalakshmi-CJ16_l12There has to be payment; otherwise who will work? In sanatana-dharma, there is no money. Sure, you can worship different heavenly figures to get money. Lakshmi Devi is revered for this very reason. She is the goddess of fortune. Earn her favor with offerings and you’ll be rewarded with good fortune.

That kind of worship is but one tiny aspect of sanatana-dharma. It is a way to increase your consciousness of things beyond this world. The eternal engagement is never about the money, since the enjoyment from material objects is not permanent. Sanatana-dharma is synonymous with bhakti-yoga, which is linking with the Divine in a mood of love and devotion. If you truly love someone, you don’t expect anything back from them.

2. It can be done in any condition of body

Wayne Gretzky is considered one of the greatest hockey players of all time, if not the greatest. He holds so many records. In fact, it is probably a record to simultaneously hold so many records in a single sport. He scored so many goals, won many championships, and inspired generations of future players.

If you attend an NHL game today, you won’t see Wayne Gretzky on the ice. He no longer plays. He was very good. The past tense is used because of the change of body. Because of old age, abilities diminish. Players are forced to retire. The same holds true in other occupations as well. You may have done a job well for over fifty years, but eventually the abilities give way to time.

Radha-Krishna23Bhakti-yoga can be done at any age, in any condition of body. If you are lying in your bed, unable to get up, you can still chant the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. A child can offer a flower to a deity of the Supreme Lord. The young adult can learn to play music and sing songs glorifying God. The adult can spend hours studying the voluminous Vedic literature, and the elderly person can engage in teaching those who are not yet mature in their devotional service.

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)

When the body completely changes over, the opportunity for bhakti-yoga does not vanish. If the devotee was sincere, everything is provided for them going forward by the object of their worship.

3. The pleasure increases with time

One of the reasons you retire from something is that it becomes boring. Revisiting the athlete example, sometimes players have retired before their abilities diminished. They did so because they no longer had the fire of competition inside of them. Through success they became disinterested.

Bhakti-yoga is not like this. The more a person advances, the more pleasure they feel. This is due to the nature of the object of worship. He is described as nava-yauvanam, which means always fresh and new. In His original form, in the highest spiritual planet, He always looks to be around sixteen years of age. Even when He came to this world, when He was over one hundred years of age and a great-grandfather He still looked like a teenager.

Krishna and bhakti-yoga are one and the same. This means that devotional service is also nava-yauvanam. In the spiritual world one plus one can equal one. The strict laws of mathematics do not apply there. A person can feel full pleasure and bliss and still find a way to add on to it as time passes. No other occupation is like that.

4. You are never finished glorifying Him

How much time can you spend glorifying Krishna? Actually, there is no end to His glories. It is said that Ananta Shesha Naga is continuously glorifying Him. He is the serpent with an endless number of hoods. With each mouth He sings the glories of God. Though he has been doing this since the beginning of time, he has yet to reach an end. He is not bored, either.

image6Still, even that glorification is not sufficient. It is not that since Anantadeva is glorifying in this way that others cannot. The root definition of dharma is “essential characteristic.” For the fundamental object of life, dharma is service. Sanatana-dharma is thus endless service to the Divine. Since the Divine is not material, His glories are not limited. It is a great boon to be able to continue to glorify God, as it is the most rewarding occupation.

5. Bhakti-yoga is as eternal as the spirit soul

Retirement is a product of the material world, which is populated with perishable bodies. The individual within each living thing is eternal. That is the meaning to spirit. Spirit is that which continues to live on, vitalizing any localized area that is otherwise not animated. Spirit is life, and life means existence.

Bhakti-yoga is the constitutional occupation for spirit. As spirit continues in its existence, so does bhakti-yoga. A person who finds this engagement again never has to give it up. They don’t need to retire and move on to something else. Nothing else will bring as much happiness as bhakti-yoga, and nothing else will indefinitely persist into the future.

In Closing:

As spirit soul always to exist,

Should find occupation to persist.


Not from one gradually to tire,

Savings with eye to eventually retire.


Anantadeva having hoods of no end,

Since forever glories to God to send.


Still, for all others opportunity remains,

The impossible, with pleasure steady to gain.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Talking About Never Returning

Bt0swQBmkKGrHqYH-EQEvtEDVQBL9nHbrww_[1]“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)

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ā-brahma-bhuvanāl lokāḥ

punar āvartino 'rjuna

mām upetya tu kaunteya

punar janma na vidyate

Friend1: I’ve heard that time and space are infinite.

Friend2: You’ve heard? You don’t know? [sarcastic]

Friend1: Okay. I know that time and space are infinite.

Friend2: What does that mean exactly?

Friend1: There is no end in either direction. You go as far back into the past that you can think of. Once you’ve reached that point, know that there is still something before it. The same goes for the future.

Friend2: Right.

Friend1: Space, too. There are borders in a country. Once you reach the end, you see things like fences and booths with people standing guard. That is artificial, since there is nothing in space to stop you from continuing. Space has no start or stop points.

image1Friend2: It really is amazing if you spend some time thinking about it.

Friend1: Well, that’s what I was getting to. I know that the human brain is incapable of understanding infinity.

Friend2: Of course. It’s like hearing a song that’s on repeat. You can’t turn it off. It just keeps going. It’s like that when you try to think of the beginning or the end.

Friend1: I am glad you admitted that. Here is the larger question. If time is infinite, why does Shri Krishna make so many references to time in the Bhagavad-gita?

Friend2: Such as where He says that He is synonymous with time?

śrī-bhagavān uvāca

kālo 'smi loka-kṣaya-kṛt pravṛddho

lokān samāhartum iha pravṛttaḥ

ṛte 'pi tvāṁ na bhaviṣyanti sarve

ye 'vasthitāḥ pratyanīkeṣu yodhāḥ

“The Blessed Lord said: Time I am, destroyer of the worlds, and I have come to engage all people. With the exception of you [the Pandavas], all the soldiers here on both sides will be slain.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 11.32)

001415Friend1: No, I’m fine with that. Look at when He discusses that He is the source of everything. Implied in that declaration is time. The source means an origin, which references a time in the past relative to the present.

Friend2: Yes.

Friend1: Then He also says things like those who go to His realm never have to return. This is in relation to worship of the demigods, heavenly figures who are not God completely.

Friend2: That’s a good thing to know. It’s a way to make the proper assessment in deciding which personality to worship. It’s a decision like choosing which college to attend, only more important.

Friend1: Then I’ve also heard that all the living entities we see in this world were at some point in the past in the company of Shri Krishna; that is they were in the spiritual world.

Friend2: Yes. They stay here as long as they continue to have desires to enjoy separately, without God.

Friend1: Don’t you think the two points contradict?

Friend2: How so?

Friend1: We were originally in the spiritual world. Then Krishna says that those who reach His planet never return. If you’re there and you never return, how the heck did we get to where we are today?

Friend2: Oh, right. That’s a good question.

Friend1: You mean you don’t have an explanation?

Friend2: I do, but I was giving you credit for thinking wisely.

Friend1: A response would be more helpful to me than your sarcastic praise.

Friend2: This is not that difficult to understand. Since we’ve established the infinite nature of time, we see that there is a more detailed understanding to the use of the word “never.” Those who worship Krishna go to His planet, that’s for sure. From there, they never have to come back.

Friend1: Is the reverse true, then? If you go to Brahma’s planet, you may not have to come to the land of birth and death?

Friend2: You will. That is the whole reason Krishna makes the distinction. In any other form of worship, you have to come back. Birth and death will be forced upon you. At its root, atheism is the drive to invalidate this law.

Friend1: What do you mean?

Friend2: Try your best to extend life as long as possible. Try to enjoy, satisfying the senses, pretending that death doesn’t exist. Become powerful in different areas of opulence. Then foolishly hope that opulence stays with you forever.

Friend1: It doesn’t.

Friend2: Correct. It can’t stay forever. It may stay for a while, but eventually there will be death, which is followed by rebirth.

Friend1: I see.

Friend2: The laws of the material world stipulate that rebirth is guaranteed. The laws of the spiritual world are that you don’t have to leave. You can actually stay there forever. As you correctly noted, we are here now, which means that at some point in the past we left. That is the proper way to understand time and the choice the living entity has. That choice is always there, no matter in which species birth happens.

Friend1: Is there a reason that a person never has to come back?

Bt0swQBmkKGrHqYH-EQEvtEDVQBL9nHbrww_Friend2: Because there is the eternal engagement of devotional service. Pleasure comes from serving the all-attractive one. His features are inexhaustible. Time has no influence in that place. Therefore at every moment there is some kind of exchange of love between the energy of the Lord and the Lord Himself.

In Closing:

Infinite are space and time,

Impossible conception for flawed mind.


Still Krishna sometimes “never” word saying,

Like those reaching His realm forever staying.


Reference to the laws of the land made,

In material world no one forever has stayed.


Rebirth upon them is forced,

For bhaktas chartered a different course.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Five Reasons I Avoid Bhakti-Yoga

IMG_019616“A pure soul is the eternal servant of God as His fragmental part and parcel. He comes into contact with maya (illusion) due to the desire to lord it over maya, and that is the cause of his many sufferings. As long as he is in contact with matter, he has to execute work in terms of material necessities. Krishna consciousness, however, brings one into spiritual life even while one is within the jurisdiction of matter, for it is an arousing of spiritual existence by practice in the material world.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 5.29 Purport)

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Sit down in peace. Clear your mind. Concentrate on hearing the sound vibration. Do you need a boom-box nearby to hear the sound? Do you need an elaborate sound system with high-end speakers? Do you even need other people around? Actually, all that is required is the ability to say to yourself the following words: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

The three distinct words out of the total of sixteen are of Sanskrit origin, but the meaning is rather simple. “Please God, engage me in your service, forever and ever. O the energy of the Lord, please help me to remain in that service.” Just repeat this genuine prayer over and over through creating and hearing the sound vibration.

This simple practice qualifies as bhakti-yoga. It is connecting with the Divine through love and devotion. No more looking at the Almighty as a mean and angry figure with gray hair and a beard, who is looking over the population of the world with a disapproving eye. No more viewing the origin of all things as the best order supplier to meet the sense demands, which change each day. No more thinking that the Personality of Godhead is an abstract, just a concept to trick the mind into finding peace.

Bhakti-yoga is the real thing, but why would a person be hesitant to try it? Chaitanya Mahaprabhu says that a person who receives the seed of the creeper of devotional service, bhakti-yoga, is highly fortunate. They get the blessing from God Himself and His bona fide representative, the spiritual master. Why would a fortunate person throw away that blessing by not following up? Why would a person not want to put the effort in to see the creeper blossom into a beautiful tree, with branches and leaves that give shade to other souls as well?

1. It’s a sacrifice to do something that doesn’t accumulate money

I stayed late at the office last night. I didn’t want to. Trust me, I would much rather have been at home relaxing with my family. But I had no choice. There was a deadline. This work had to get done. If our company doesn’t come through for the clients, those same clients will take their business elsewhere. Eventually, everyone at the company will be unemployed and be looking for ways to support themselves.

image7In the material world to do anything that would jeopardize the accumulation of wealth is thus considered a great sacrifice. In the fever to guard against indigence, the otherwise sober human being doesn’t realize that the lesser intelligent animal species already get enough food. They may not live as long, and they may not have the best defense mechanisms, but they generally do alright. At the very least, they do not worry about income inequality, as they have no concept of it.

Moreover, such a great opportunity is squandered if the human being doesn’t inquire about their true nature. If money were the greatest blessing in life, then the people who have it would be the happiest in the world. They would never succumb to depression, drug addiction, or divorce.

2. It takes time to travel to a house of worship and congregate with like-minded people

At least once a week I have a chance to practice bhakti-yoga. There is a house of worship in my area, where the people not only pray but discuss matters in depth. There are other fortunate souls who go there to advance in their practice. Like an afterschool club, a trade association, or a recreational sports team, the people attending have a shared interest. All I have to do is associate with them.

The problem is that it takes time out of the day. It is a sacrifice to make something like that the highest priority, especially if the meeting falls on a day typically reserved for relaxation. It’s bad enough I have the renewing deadline of going to the office each morning looming over my head. Why would I want to add another obligation, especially if it doesn’t benefit me financially? In fact, the people at this group go around asking for money, as they subsist on donations.

3. I know that material life will be left behind someday

I’m familiar with some of the main philosophical points in bhakti-yoga. Work with detachment. Don’t be bewildered by birth and death, which are nothing more than the acceptance and rejection of bodies. In fact, the body changes all the time, from boyhood to youth and so on. Do your duty, but don’t be attached to the fruits.

karmaṇy evādhikāras te

mā phaleṣu kadācana

mā karma-phala-hetur bhūr

mā te saṅgo 'stv akarmaṇi

“You have a right to perform your prescribed duty, but you are not entitled to the fruits of action. Never consider yourself to be the cause of the results of your activities, and never be attached to not doing your duty.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.47)

Some of the people I know to be serious in bhakti-yoga have quit their job, left their family, and moved into the house of worship. They did these things to be able to practice full-time. I won’t admit it out loud, but I’m kind of scared by this. Maybe the more I advance in devotional service, the more I will leave material life behind. I am not ready for that yet. I already find myself caring less and less about things that used to be so important to me. I think I’ve even heard the “Hare” addressed in the maha-mantra complaining that once a person becomes attached to Krishna, they lose things that are dear to them, like friends and family.

“’In My opinion, Shrimati Radharani continued, ‘one should not hear about Krishna, because as soon as a drop of the nectar of His transcendental activities is poured into the ear, one immediately rises above the platform of duality, attraction and rejection. Being completely freed from the attraction of material attachment, one gives up the attachment for this material world, family, home, wife, children and everything which is materially dear to every person. Being dispossessed of all material acquisition, one makes his relatives and himself unhappy.’” (Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 1, Ch 46)

4. I might not get what I want from Krishna

Bhakti-yoga comes from the Vedas, which are the ancient scriptures emanating from the area today known as India. Those who follow Vedic traditions are also known as Hindus. I’ve seen that Hindu people often worship other gods, divine figures who are not Krishna, Vishnu, or Rama. From talking to them, I see that they’re asking things from these gods. They want money, good fortune, learning, or obstacles cleared from their path.

“Demons have lost all intelligence because they do not know what is actually their self-interest. Even if they have information of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, they decline to approach Him; it is not possible for them to get their desired boons from the Supreme Lord because their purposes are always sinful. It is said that the dacoits in Bengal used to worship the goddess Kali for fulfillment of their sinful desires to plunder others’ property, but they never went to a Vishnu temple because they might have been unsuccessful in praying to Vishnu.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 3.19.1 Purport)

sudarshan12I know that the Supreme Lord Himself can say “no.” One example was the time Narada asked to be married to a beautiful princess, who was allowed to choose her husband from any of the men appearing at an assembly. Narada is a great spiritual master of the Vedic tradition. He is synonymous with bhakti-yoga. Vishnu did not agree to this request. In fact, He created the situation that allowed Narada to make the request. It was a way to teach others. Why, then, should I approach the Supreme Lord in bhakti-yoga? I know that He might not give me what I want as far as material desires go.

5. Envy of God; the reason for birth in the material world

Everyone is in this material world due to envy of the Supreme Lord. It is an unfortunate truth. Proof can be seen in the widespread disdain of religion and all things God. There are many cheaters who have ruined the experience for the genuine seekers, but if a person really wanted to serve God without motive and without interruption, the opportunity is open to them.

Rather, the envy leads to a chase to be the undisputed champion of different areas of opulence like beauty, wealth, strength, and fame. Sadhus even contest to see who is the most renounced. As long as the attitude remains, the association of God the person will stay far away.

IMG_020412Fortunately, all the obstacles in the path of advancement can be gradually cleared through following bhakti-yoga itself. Soon the person realizes that money is not everything. They are willing to sacrifice so much time since there is enjoyment in hearing the sound vibration that is identical to God. Their fears reverse in nature. Instead of worrying about leaving behind the material world, they worry over what life will be like if they don’t get to practice bhakti-yoga. They don’t worry about Krishna rejecting their desires anymore since their lone desire is to continue in bhakti. Their envy turns to love and devotion, and once established in that sublime position they never want to return to the fearful world of repeated birth and death.

In Closing:

Of Vishnu’s discrimination I know,

That sometimes to my requests to say “no.”


For visiting temple sacrifice in time to give,

Rather interested in how in enjoyment to live.


Envy of the Supreme Lord at the heart,

To lord it over mentality at the start.


Through bhakti itself everything cleared,

No more concern over that which previously feared.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Five Ways That The Best Atheist Praised God

untitled9“As a snake captures a mouse or Garuda captures a very venomous snake, Lord Narasimhadeva captured Hiranyakashipu, who could not be pierced even by the thunderbolt of King Indra. As Hiranyakashipu moved his limbs here, there and all around, very much afflicted at being captured, Lord Narasimhadeva placed the demon on His lap, supporting him with His thighs, and in the doorway of the assembly hall the Lord very easily tore the demon to pieces with the nails of His hand.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 7.8.29)

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viṣvak sphurantaṁ grahaṇāturaṁ harir

vyālo yathākhuṁ kuliśākṣata-tvacam

dvāry ūrum āpatya dadāra līlayā

nakhair yathāhiṁ garuḍo mahā-viṣam

The name Hiranyakashipu combines the words “soft cushion” and “gold.” Who wouldn’t want either or both? On daytime talk radio stations, it is quite common to hear commercials for new pillows and mattresses. The advertisements say that these are not like anything you’ve tried before. You’ll sleep much more comfortably. You’ll feel refreshed when you wake up in the morning.

Interestingly, on the same stations can be found commercials for investments in gold. The idea is that no matter the state of the economy, up or down, gold will always be desired. It is a safe investment since people will always want it. The desire for it is so strong that it can lead to great conflict, even in a place ruled by a pious leader. One example is the Syamantaka jewel, which led to the people being suspicious of even Shri Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

“The Syamantaka jewel was so powerful that it was daily producing a large quantity of gold. A quantity of gold is counted by a measurement called a bhara. According to Vedic formulas, one bhara is equal to sixteen pounds of gold; one mound equals eighty-two pounds.” (Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 2, Ch 1)

image7Hiranyakashipu is the name of a famous Daitya, which is a specific kind of asura. Asura is the Sanskrit equivalent for the term “atheist.” If considering him an actor on a stage, when judging the performance Hiranyakashipu would win an Oscar. He was the best atheist. He was even addressed as such by his pious son, Prahlada Maharaja. The boy once called him asura-varya, which means “best of the atheists.”

śrī-prahlāda uvāca

tat sādhu manye ’sura-varya dehināṁ

sadā samudvigna-dhiyām asad-grahāt

hitvātma-pātaṁ gṛham andha-kūpaṁ

vanaṁ gato yad dharim āśrayeta

“Prahlada Maharaja replied: O best of the asuras, King of the demons, as far as I have learned from my spiritual master, any person who has accepted a temporary body and temporary household life is certainly embarrassed by anxiety because of having fallen in a dark well where there is no water but only suffering. One should give up this position and go to the forest [vana]. More clearly, one should go to Vrindavana, where only Krishna consciousness is prevalent, and should thus take shelter of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 7.5.5)

This king from an ancient time indeed loved gold and soft cushions. He did not like the Supreme Lord, though. He considered God to be the greatest enemy, someone standing in the way of his enjoyment. Nevertheless, through playing his role perfectly, the infamous leader actually praised God tremendously. His example lends great support to the cause of love and devotion, pure bhakti.

1. He asked for the greatest security from death

His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada says that the atheists also believe in God. Even if they fail to acknowledge Him during life, they will nevertheless see Him at the time of death. They will be forced to bow down, to submit to a higher power. They won’t be able to recognize Him. The extent of their theism will be the respect they will be forced to pay to kala, which is known to be the great subduer.

prahlādaś cāsmi daityānāṁ

kālaḥ kalayatām aham

mṛgāṇāṁ ca mṛgendro 'haṁ

vainateyaś ca pakṣiṇām

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

Afraid to meet God in that form, the atheist tries their best to extend life. They want to remain enjoying in the material world for as long as possible. There is no need to theorize on what potential is there for progress in this area through scientific research and technology. Just look to the example of Hiranyakashipu. He had the best security from death a person could think of.

Of course, he asked for immortality first. This was the request made to the devata Brahma, who is the creator. Brahma doesn’t have immortality for himself, so he very well can’t offer that benediction to anyone else. Hiranyakashipu then asked for security from death in so many different ways and situations. He wanted that no animal or human being could kill him. No weapon could be the cause of his death. He wouldn’t die during the daytime or at night. Neither on the ground nor in the air would be the place of his death. Brahma granted all of these boons. Hiranyakashipu thus had the best security against death a person can imagine.

2. He had everyone living in fear of him

Despite getting these boons, there is always a chance something can go wrong. You live in a safe neighborhood, but installing an alarm system in the home is still a good idea. You just never know what might happen. Hiranyakashipu terrorized the entire world. Though he knew no one could defeat him, he made sure that they knew it as well. In this way, he got something highly coveted: fear from the entire world.

The atheist works towards this goal. There is no other reason for amassing tremendous wealth or extending the boundaries of a nation. The objective is to rule the entire world, or at least wield enough influence so that no one can tell you what to do. Hiranyakashipu had this.

3. He showed that devotion cannot be stopped

The whole world feared him, from the biggest leaders to the smallest. Yet a five year old boy living in his own kingdom was not afraid at all. This was Hiranyakashipu’s son. Named Prahlada, despite being born in a Daitya family he was pious since birth. In the Bhagavad-gita, Shri Krishna compares Himself to Prahlada. Since Prahlada is a devotee, his behavior is merged with God; the interest is the same.

It is one thing to say in theory that devotion to God cannot be checked by outside forces. It is one thing to promise to people that if you are sincere in your desire to be conscious of the Supreme Lord He will arrange for that consciousness to remain. It is another to prove these truths in real life. Hiranyakashipu gives the best support to these claims, for he applied tremendous force to thwart devotional activities.

JSNG12He was so against Prahlada’s devotion that he tried to have the boy killed. The king had to employ various means because each attempt failed. The king who was practically bulletproof and feared around the world couldn’t stop an innocent and otherwise helpless five year old from practicing his desired occupation: devotional service.

4. He came up with the best arguments for atheism

When Prahlada couldn’t be killed, Hiranyakashipu thought that maybe the boy had acquired a mystic perfection from a demigod. The king was powerful through the grace of Brahma, after all. When the king asked his son where this potency was coming from, the boy replied that the source of his strength was the same as that for the father. In fact, every living entity has the same strength residing within them.

śrī-prahrāda uvāca

na kevalaṁ me bhavataś ca rājan

sa vai balaṁ balināṁ cāpareṣām

pare ’vare ’mī sthira-jaṅgamā ye

brahmādayo yena vaśaṁ praṇītāḥ

“Prahlada Maharaja said: My dear King, the source of my strength, of which you are asking, is also the source of yours. Indeed, the original source of all kinds of strength is one. He is not only your strength or mine, but the only strength for everyone. Without Him, no one can get any strength. Whether moving or not moving, superior or inferior, everyone, including Lord Brahma, is controlled by the strength of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 7.8.7)

Hiranyakashipu thought this was silly. Thinking that since he could not see God it meant that God was not indeed everywhere, the father mocked the son. He put forth the best arguments for atheism. He sarcastically asked if God was in the nearby pillar, since God would have to be there if He was all-pervading, as Prahlada had claimed. Sure enough, the Supreme Lord in the flesh, God the person, then emerged from the pillar. He negated the best arguments put forth by the king of asuras.

5. He allowed God to exploit a one percent weakness

Hiranyakashipu was ninety-nine percent safe from death. Though he didn’t have immortality, the vulnerability was small. The Supreme Lord needed just one percent to take care of what was necessary. In this way Hiranyakashipu offered the greatest praise one can imagine. Through his enmity towards the lord of Prahlada’s life breath, through his staunch atheism, through his wanting protection in a temporary and miserable land, Hiranyakashipu gave the best support to the argument that God is indeed everywhere and more powerful than anything we can imagine.

The form of the Lord that appeared from the pillar is known as Narasimha. It is a half-man/half-lion. It roared ferociously, raging in anger at the despicable father and king. Narasimhadeva took Hiranyakashipu on His lap and bifurcated the king using just His nails. The king’s death thus did not violate any of Brahma’s boons. The death occurred on the lap, which is neither in the air nor on the ground. It occurred at dusk, which is not the daytime nor the night. The nails are not a conventional weapon in conflict. Narasimhadeva is neither a man nor an animal.

untitled19The person who Prahlada worshiped constantly needed just a tiny defect to gain the upper hand. Hiranyakashipu and other atheists can’t see that the small window of opportunity is actually quite large. Time is the great subduer because nothing can defeat it. Only the Supreme Lord can allow something to stay forever. In the Bhagavad-gita He tells Arjuna to boldly declare that the devotees never perish. They may appear in different forms and come and go from this world, but their devotion remains forever. Not even the best atheist can stop them.

In Closing:

Since of asuras the best,

Hiranyakashipu giving devotion’s test.


Though atheist in mind,

Praise through him to find.


Since protection from in so many ways gained,

Safe in air and land, to highest stature attained.


Everything lost through Narasimha adroit,

Supreme Lord smallest opening can exploit.