Saturday, May 7, 2016

Five Things To Know About Rukmini Devi

image11“As she was adjusting the ornaments on her left-hand finger, she happened to look upon the princes and suddenly saw that Krishna was present amongst them. Although Rukmini had never before seen Krishna, she was always thinking of Him; thus she had no difficulty in recognizing Him amongst the princely order. Krishna, not being concerned with the other princes, immediately took the opportunity of placing Rukmini on His chariot, marked by a flag bearing an image of Garuda.” (Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 1, Ch 52)

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The male and female aspects of the Divine are worshiped together in the Vedic tradition. One is the enjoyer and the other the enjoyed. One is the energetic and the other the energy. The female is the pleasure-giving potency, coming from the origin of all potencies, the Supreme Lord. One of the pairs worshiped is Rukmini-Dvarakadisha.

image28Dvarakadisha refers to Shri Krishna in His role as the king of the underwater city guarded by gates. The name Krishna means “all-attractive,” which is a description befitting the Supreme Lord. The energy and the energetic are also worshiped in other non-different forms, such as Radha-Krishna, Lakshmi-Narayana and Sita-Rama. Rukmini is a queen from ancient times, presiding over Dvaraka with her husband Krishna.

1. She is also known as Ruchiranana

One of the most famous texts in history, not just of the Vedic tradition, is the Ramayana, composed in Sanskrit by Valmiki Muni. The antagonist of the real-life story is Ravana, who has a terrifying roar. Ravana is the king of the bad guys, the demon-like people who are completely against God. Since he wanted full material opulence, he received amazing abilities, such as ten heads and twenty arms. Because of this strange feature, Ravana is also known as Dashanana.

image35Lord Brahma, the creator, is known as Chaturanana, since he has four heads or faces. The name Ruchiranana means a person who has a beautiful face, like the expanding lotus. As Krishna is all-attractive, so is His eternal consort. During her time on earth, Rukmini Devi was the most beautiful princess. Great kings from around the world desired her hand in marriage, but it was only meant for Shri Krishna.

2. She is the daughter of King Bhishmaka

Bhishmaka was a pious king appearing on earth in the same time period as Krishna. Because of his piety, he wanted his beautiful daughter Rukmini to marry Krishna. Yet one of Rukmini’s brothers had a different plan. Known as Rukmi, he arranged for his sister to be married to Shishupala, who was a rival to Krishna. In ancient times the marriages were arranged. Even on the rare occasion when the daughter was allowed to choose on her own, she got the permission from the father first. It was not uncommon for the brother to make arrangements like this on behalf of the family.

3. She had devotion to Krishna just by hearing about Him

The person entering spiritual life naturally has an eagerness to see God. After all, if you genuinely believe that He exists, why wouldn’t you want to see Him? Seeing is believing, right? If you get the visual evidence, it will be easier to continue along the path with full confidence.

From Rukmini’s example, we see that hearing is more important. She desired to have Krishna as her husband simply by hearing about Him. As her father was a pious king, many saintly people would visit the kingdom. Saintly people naturally talk about the reservoir of all good qualities, the Supreme Lord. From this hearing Rukmini offered her heart. And her devotion was flawless. She was not lacking anything due to not having seen Krishna face to face. She did not insist on visual evidence prior to making her judgment.

4. She cleverly developed a plan for marriage

It is said that a person who follows the path of bhakti-yoga, devotional service, does not need to make a separate endeavor for acquiring material opulences or temporary rewards. Generally, the two pillars of spiritual life are jnana and vairagya, which are knowledge and renunciation. The human species is auspicious because of its potential for gaining these two precious commodities.

Rukmini was not known to study the Vedas or engage in rigorous austerities. Nevertheless, she had all the intelligence required to meet her objective. She was already renounced in the sense that she did not want any other husband. She devised a plan for Krishna to come and take her away just prior to the wedding to Shishupala. Her carefully crafted plan was meant to both succeed and limit collateral damage.

image20What kind of damage would there be? The style of marriage she proposed was known as Rakshasa. Krishna would kidnap Rukmini. Since this is kind of like stealing, the way it is justified is through defense against any objectors. Krishna would have to protect Himself from the onslaught that would surely come after stealing away Rukmini. The princess knew that on the day of the wedding she would be visiting the temple of Goddess Durga to get the devi’s blessings. Either on the way to the temple or on the way back would be an ideal time for Krishna to come and snatch her away. Everything went down according to her plan, with Krishna marrying Rukmini in Dvaraka.

5. She is the goddess of fortune, devoted to the brahmanas

The pleasure potency of God is also known as the goddess of fortune. Krishna has the most aishvarya, or wealth. One way to know this is from His relationship to the goddess of fortune. One of His many names is Shridhara, which means the controller of the goddess of fortune. Rukmini maintained this role while living with Krishna in Dvaraka.

The brahmana class is very dear to God. Since they are dear to her husband, they are dear to Rukmini as well. It was through a brahmana in her kingdom that she was able to get the message of her plans of marriage sent to Krishna. Through her desire for marriage, she also showered a blessing on the brahmana by allowing him to meet Krishna face to face. The Supreme Lord is known as brahmanya-devaya, or the worshipable figure of choice for the priestly order.

While living with her husband in Dvaraka, Rukmini continued to shower blessings upon the brahmanas. One time an old friend of Krishna came to visit. Named Sudama, he was living in poverty and had been sent to the royal palace by his wife to ask Krishna for some help. After arriving he was too ashamed to ask anything of his old friend, however. Nevertheless, Krishna was pleased by Sudama’s devotion, and so when the brahmana returned home he was surprised to find that his old house had been transformed into a palace. The change was effected by Rukmini, the goddess of fortune herself. Those who worship Rukmini-Dvarakadisha with full faith and attention never have to worry about material needs to support their continued devotional service.

In Closing:

Krishna as king of Dvaraka to preside,

Ruling over with Rukmini by His side.


Marriage happened in most interesting way,

Lord kidnapping her on proposed wedding day.


Desired for herself just from features to hear,

Required not image to have devotion clear.


As goddess of fortune to brahmanas giving,

Like with Sudama and new palace living.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Five Reasons Krishna Has More Than Sixteen Thousand Wives

image6“Lord Krishna saw 16,100 young princesses, who had been kidnapped and held captive there. When the princesses saw the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna, enter the palace, they immediately became captivated by the beauty of the Lord and prayed for His causeless mercy. Within their minds, they decided to accept Lord Krishna as their husband without any hesitation.” (Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 2, Ch 4)

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A quick way to get the upper hand in an argument is to point out the opposing side’s flaws. If there are any egregious mistakes that the other side doesn’t want discussed, bring them up. Sort of like rubbing salt in the wound, there is no reason to not take advantage of a perceived weakness. These arguments take place in spiritual life as well, and one of the common weaknesses pointed to in the Supreme Lord Krishna is actually not a weakness at all.

Perhaps you have come across the following criticism:

“How can you worship such a debauchee as Krishna? He is known for having intimate dealings with young girls in the town of Vraja. You people don’t even deny that. Then in adulthood He had over sixteen thousand wives. How can God be so lusty? Do you not see the contradiction in the person you deem to be Divine?”

Though relying on mere sentiment when trying to support their own religion, these arguments are unleashed without any qualms. But they are a great insult to the Supreme Lord, in whichever way a person supposedly understands Him. There are reasons why Shri Krishna has more than sixteen thousand wives.

1. Having the most opulence means something

Instead of relying on dogmatic insistence or support based on personal preference, the Vedas provide a scientific understanding to spirituality. As God is the objective in genuine spiritual life, there is a way to understand Him, at least partially, through frames of reference with which we are familiar. The Sanskrit word Bhagavan says that God has full opulence in six different areas: beauty, wealth, strength, fame, wisdom and renunciation.

This is easy to accept in theory, but what does it actually mean? What is the meaning of full beauty? For starters, so many people are attracted to Him. Indeed, everyone is attracted to God in some way; hence the name Krishna being an appropriate form of address. The atheists are attracted to His illusory energy known as maya. The yogis are attracted to His expansion of the Supersoul residing within the heart. The devotees are attracted to His personal feature. In Vraja, the attraction is so strong that the people forget all other relations and attachments. Their first and foremost love is the darling child of Nanda and Yashoda.

2. God is not restricted by anything

In a civilized society, there are guardrails. Man cannot act however he wishes, at all times. He is governed by boundaries. Even the people in power who egregiously abuse their lofty position must at least lie and cover up their illegal behavior. In this way we see that everyone is restricted. If you are looking for God, the person you find must be free of all restrictions. Nothing should be able to hold Him back. He should be unbound.

This description is appropriate for Shri Krishna, as He is not held back by even dharma, which is virtue. Dharma is a system put in place to help the conditioned souls advance towards the perfection that is steady consciousness of God. Krishna is the object of dharma; therefore He is never bound by it. One way to know if someone is bound by dharma is to see what happens to them when they break the established codes of conduct.

Shri Krishna enjoys with the gopis in Vraja and with His many wives in Dvaraka because that is His position. He is always in sweet enjoyment, or madhurya. If He were subordinate to dharma, then the rules themselves would be supreme.

3. He is the savior of the distressed

Narakasura, also known as Bhaumasura, was a bad guy living on earth during the time of Krishna’s advent. Naraka means “hell” and asura means “demon.” The literal definition to asura is “one who is against God.” The demon’s name of Bhaumasura references his relation as son to the earth goddess, Bhumi.

Through his reign of terror, Narakasura had kidnapped sixteen thousand and one hundred women as bounty. He held them prisoner in his kingdom. After hearing the complaints of Indra, Krishna went to this demon’s city and emerged victorious in a battle. The question then was what to do for the women. They could not go back into society, as since they were already forced to live in another man’s house, nobody would accept them for marriage. More importantly, they desired to have Krishna as their husband.

image14The Supreme Lord is the savior of the distressed. This is not some empty title applied in praise, meant to be taken only symbolically. He literally saves anyone who genuinely desires His association. He accepts whatever criticism might come His way as a result. The women had no other place to go, and so Krishna brought them to Dvaraka and happily married each one of them.

Krishna has eight principal wives, so the total during His earthly pastimes is 16,108. If Krishna were to deny the new queens, if he were to not give them any chance of His association going forward, then He wouldn’t be God. The very fact that He married so many automatically qualifies Him to be acknowledged as Supreme.

4. He is the perfect husband to each

Krishna’s pastimes are described in detail towards the latter portion of the Shrimad Bhagavatam. Everything leading up to it describes how Krishna is God. You get an explanation of the origin of the creation, the elements within that creation, and what are the major pitfalls towards advancement for the countless living entities populating that creation.

By the time you reach the pastimes, you have an understanding that Krishna is unlimited. Only He can support over sixteen thousand wives. He expanded Himself in Dvaraka and lived with each queen separately. They all thought He was only with them. This is the Supreme Lord’s magic and also His mercy. Though His influence is spread throughout the creation, He is not divided. He does not lose anything by supporting more and more devotees.

5. He can have millions of wives if He so chooses

The number 16,108 seems like a lot to us, but compared to the infinite it is nothing. Shri Krishna can have millions of wives if He wants. He can support each and every one of them flawlessly. He already travels with every living entity by residing in the heart as the Supersoul.

In Closing:

With over sixteen thousand wives to be,

How Supreme Lord Krishna is He?


God one who by nothing is bound,

In whom full freedom and enjoyment is found.


In madhurya, Krishna with flute to carry,

If wanting millions of wives can marry.


Surrendered souls He abandoning never,

Rescued queens accepting Him forever.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Being Proud Of Accomplishments

20110828_DSCN835812“The person in material consciousness is convinced by false ego that he is the doer of everything. He does not know that the mechanism of the body is produced by material nature, which works under the supervision of the Supreme Lord. The materialistic person has no knowledge that ultimately he is under the control of Krishna.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 3.27 Purport)

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Question: How does a person remain humble in devotional service? Material life is itself humbling, so in that realm it is not difficult to understand. In bhakti-yoga, however, if a person has great success, they can’t help but feel proud of their accomplishments. They know how difficult it is to advance along the path of the purification of consciousness. How do they avoid getting too puffed up, especially if others laud them for their efforts?

Benjamin Franklin, a famous inventor and statesman from the 18th century, once undertook a self-improvement project wherein he would keep track of certain virtues and whether or not he was acquiring them. The effort itself is indicative of great intelligence, but he found complete success to be almost impossible. Humility, one of the target virtues, seemed the most difficult to acquire. Franklin joked that even if he did become humble, he would likely become proud of how humble he had become.

Ahankara is the material element that leads to pride. Ahankara is a Sanskrit word that means “false ego.” The ego is always there. The concept of “I am” references the ego. I have to be something. I may not know exactly, but there is always some form of identity. In material life the ego is false because the identification is not proper. I think that I am my body, when in fact that body is constantly changing. I am the same person throughout those changes, so the body can’t be the real form of identification.

Excessive pride is always crushed in the material world because of the all-devouring enemy that is time. Even if a person thinks they are invincible, they will eventually lose everything over which they are proud. Beauty, wealth, strength, fame, wisdom - all will vanish at the time of death. Moreover, there is stiff competition in each of these areas of opulence. Just because I am the best athlete in a particular professional sport today, it doesn’t mean that I will stay on top forever. Someone will see my excellence and then work hard to exceed it.

Spiritual life is different. The inexhaustible one helps those who try to connect with Him. He guarantees that their efforts are also inexhaustible. In the Bhagavad-gita, He gives the assurance that He maintains what the devotees have and brings to them what they lack.

ananyāś cintayanto māṁ

ye janāḥ paryupāsate

teṣāṁ nityābhiyuktānāṁ

yoga-kṣemaṁ vahāmy aham

“But those who worship Me with devotion, meditating on My transcendental form - to them I carry what they lack and preserve what they have.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.22)

Spiritual life may bring opulences like beauty, wealth, and strength, but the most lasting and important boon is a purified consciousness. Consciousness continues into the future, even to the next life. Therefore the results of devotion to God the person do not vanish. As such, does this mean that pride will remain? If a person is proud of their advancement, isn’t it a bad thing? How do they avoid it?

Bhakti-yoga flows through one of nine different processes. Hearing, chanting, remembering, serving the deity, praying, and other such things are done to maintain a connection to the Supreme Consciousness. A person who is successful in one or many of these processes naturally feels some pride. Success is difficult. The default position in material life is to struggle with the six senses, which include the mind.

One way to avoid excessive pride is to use one of the nine aforementioned processes. Vishno-smaranam is remembrance of God the person. Vishnu is non-different from His pure devotees, so remembrance can also be of past personalities who excelled and uplifted others in the spiritual path. I may be proud of composing and publishing so much devotional literature, but people of the past wrote way more than I ever could. No one can surpass Vyasadeva in the sheer volume of composition. He also didn’t have typewriters, computers, or printing presses to help him. He dictated from memory.

image10I may be proud of being able to speak to assemblies for hours and hours and holding their attention. From village to village I travel and get great receptions wherever I go. The audience always praises me after I speak. Yet people of the past extended their reach much further, travelling to different planets even. Narada Muni is the spiritual master to some of the most important personalities in the parampara, or disciplic succession, of devotion. He rescued so many people, who each had unique problems with which to contend.

In the past there were hardly any books. The teachers had to memorize everything. They couldn’t go on the internet to look up key verses. They could deliver Hari-katha, or discourses about God the person, for the entire day. They could survive on very little and not complain. They could stay fixed in their position without caring about outside opinion.

20110828_DSCN835824Goswami Tulsidas remarks that when a king builds a bridge, even the ants are then able to cross over. The humble devotee thinks like this. “The past acharyas are like the kings who have built the bridge, and I am a mere ant now able to cross over. Without them I would be nothing.” The person who remembers this is able to keep their pride in check, and that humility helps them to stay on the devotional path.

In Closing:

Even in bhakti difficult handle to maintain,

Since pride through accomplishments to gain.


But to past acharyas just see,

And how far superior to me.


Message of Divine to other planets took,

Speaking Hari-katha without needing a book.


King building bridge, can cross then even the ant,

Without past acharyas to have success I can’t.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Talking About Worshiping In Balance

IMG_022812“Talking of Krishna or singing of Krishna is called kirtana. Lord Chaitanya also recommends kirtaniyah sada harih, which means always thinking and talking of Krishna and nothing else. That is called Krishna consciousness.” (Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 2, Ch 32)

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Friend1: Kirtaniyah sada harih!

Friend2: Yes, always chant the holy names of the Lord.

Friend1: That’s from Lord Chaitanya, right?

Friend2: Correct. From the full quote, the golden avatara gives the conditions necessary for accomplishing the goal. A person should be humbler than the blade of grass, more tolerant than the tree, ready to offer respect to everyone else and never expect respect from others.

Friend1: Expect respect. That’s catchy.

Friend2: It is.

Friend1: Those conditions are difficult to create, wouldn’t you say?

Friend2: Of course.

Friend1: So does that mean we shouldn’t always chant the holy names of Hari?

Friend2: Looking for an excuse out of it, are we?

Friend1: No, I’m just wondering that if the conditions aren’t there, does it mean a person’s chanting has less efficacy?

japa-mala11Friend2: Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is merely stating the truth. If you see someone who actually always chants the holy name, it means that they have those other attributes. By the way, kirtana doesn’t have to be chanting only. It can be writing, talking, cooking, or even traveling.

Friend1: I see. Sort of like the Olympic athlete. They don’t just do the event that they’re participating in. There’s training and attention to diet also; i.e. preparation.

Friend2: Exactly. As all of those things are part of being an athlete, any type of glorification of God, anything supporting the structure of the house of devotion, that is kirtana.

Friend1: Here’s a doubt I heard recently. It’s about the guru and their experience.

Friend2: Okay.

Friend1: The doubt says that the guru is certainly amazing. They have seen God. They have experienced something out of this world. But what if we don’t meet someone like this?

Friend2: What do you mean? If you’re describing them, then you have met them. Am I missing something?

Friend1: No. Say that you get the information second or third-hand. You’re hearing about someone who is God-realized. It’s nearly impossible to meet someone like that in real life. From this doubt, the question is about the benefit of devoting yourself fulltime to spiritual life. Isn’t it better to play it safe and engage in other things throughout the day? After all, every person has a unique experience through life. What someone realized so many years ago may not really apply to the people of today.

Friend2: Ah, I see. That is an interesting doubt, for sure. There are several flaws in the premise, though.

Friend1: Okay.

Friend2: First, there is no such thing as second or third-hand when it comes to receiving the instructions of the acharyas.

Friend1: What do you mean?

image6Friend2: Let’s say I am fortunate enough to have an amazing realization. I write it down. Then my written thoughts get preserved in book form. Someone reads that book a hundred years later. How is that information coming to them second-hand?

Friend1: It’s not.

Friend2: Exactly. With the Vedic tradition, you have countless souls who have had tremendous realizations. Some of them have met God face to face. They have behaved in such a way to get the attention of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who though formless has His eyes everywhere. They have received the favor of the origin of the entire creation, who though always neutral is partial to His devotees.

Friend1: Okay, but what about the variation in realizations? One spiritual teacher has their experience, and a different teacher has another experience. How do we reconcile? I think this person advocates the balanced approach due precisely to the discrepancy.

Friend2: Well, that is another flawed premise. There is no such thing as balance or overdoing it. You’re either on the genuine spiritual path or not. You can’t mix the two. What we know to be a balanced approach is actually mixed spiritual life. It is impure because there are still some hints of desire for material gain, renunciation, or mystic perfection.

Friend1: That makes sense. In pure devotion, aren’t you only doing one thing, though?

Friend2: You still have to eat. You have to do some kind of work, even if you are completely renounced.

Friend1: Doesn’t Shri Krishna say in the Bhagavad-gita that the self-realized soul has no work to do?

yas tv ātma-ratir eva syād

ātma-tṛptaś ca mānavaḥ

ātmany eva ca santuṣṭas

tasya kāryaṁ na vidyate

“One who is, however, taking pleasure in the self, who is illumined in the self, who rejoices in and is satisfied with the self only, fully satiated - for him there is no duty.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 3.17)

Friend2: There is no prescribed duty for that person. They don’t have to fit into any occupation to move further along in the chain of karma. They still work, though. It’s not like they sit around like a rock. In pure devotion, every action you do is connected to the Divine. As explained before, that is the meaning to what Lord Chaitanya recommends. Always be in kirtana of the Supreme Lord Hari.

Friend1: I see. One point left. What about the variation in experiences of spiritual teachers?

Friend2: Skepticism is a sign of intelligence. Of this there is no doubt. Yet skepticism doesn’t prevent the complete rejection of authority.

Friend1: Doesn’t or shouldn’t?

Friend2: Doesn’t. Every person accepts authority to one degree or another. For spiritual life, to see if what a teacher is saying is bona fide, you have to extend a little faith in the beginning. After doing that, by practicing what is recommended, you can judge whether or not the philosophy is valid.

Friend1: Makes sense.

IMG_022826Friend2: So many people have followed Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s recommendation faithfully. Each person who has lends further support to the original recommendation. Since they experience the bliss of surrender in devotion, sharanagati, they heartily recommend the process to others. They know that real objectivity is to return the spirit souls to their eternal occupation. Bias is a form of cheating, and anyone who recommends further indulgence in sense gratification under the weak shelter of the material energy is not presenting the full facts. The bhaktas, the devotees of the Lord, know both sides of the argument, so their position represents real objectivity.

In Closing:

Bhaktas giving objectivity real,

Since also burn of kama did feel.


With proper judgment to reside,

Since with understanding of each side.


Chaitanya to always chant recommending,

Kirtana also when glories to Lord sending.


Balanced approached possibly better to be?

Extend faith and validity for yourself see.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Five Ways That Mahadeva Gives Support To The Devotees

lord_shiva_rm7711“…Shambhu, or Lord Shiva, is the ideal Vaishnava. He constantly meditates upon Lord Rama and chants Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. Lord Shiva has a Vaishnava sampradaya, which is called the Vishnu Svami-sampradaya.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 3.23.1 Purport)

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The incident of Govardhana Puja proves that one doesn’t have to rely on other divine figures for protection. At first glance, the Vedic tradition looks polytheistic. There are different divine figures, and the arrangement on the altar differs from home to home. Some people worship one divine personality, while others worship another or many other ones.

The variety in worship ties directly to variety in desire. Not everyone is looking for the same thing. Nevertheless, there is a singular source. If you get His protection, you don’t need to worship anyone else. When the people of Vrindavana skipped the worship of the godly figure named Indra, they were punished with a torrential downpour, a devastating flood. The source of the material and spiritual worlds, Shri Krishna, lifted Govardhana Hill and used it as an umbrella to save the people. The historical incident is also symbolic of the protection brought by full surrender to God.

lifting_govardhana_hill_pastime13This doesn’t mean that the other divine figures have no purpose. They can help even those who are committed to the path of love and devotion to God the person. One of those figures is Lord Shiva, who is also known as Mahadeva. If a person worships him in the manner of pure bhakti, then even Shiva becomes identical with Krishna. He helps the devotee merge into the eternal occupation of service to the Divine, who is with form and personality.

1. He is easily pleased

In his role as a godly figure, Mahadeva gives out benedictions. What does it take to get something from him? Not much, actually. Because of the ease with which he becomes pleased by his worshipers, one of his names is Ashutosha.

The asuras, who are by definition against God and religious principles, take advantage of this disposition. They ask for things that ultimately won’t benefit them. The devotees, on the other hand, can use the kindness of Ashutosha to quickly get success in the path of devotion. Mahadeva is also known as the destroyer, so he has enough power to destroy the entire creation. This means that anything within that power he can do for helping those who are on the path of bhakti.

2. He narrates the life and pastimes of Shri Rama

One of the reasons Mahadeva is Ashutosha is because he doesn’t want to break from his meditation. He concentrates on the lotus feet of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. God is one, but in the personal feature He does not limit Himself to a single form. For Mahadeva, the worshipable deity of choice is Shri Rama, who is the wife of Sita, the elder brother of Lakshmana, and the son of King Dasharatha.

WLW-TranscendingSin_EA44-db_Ramji13_Mahadeva does not keep Rama to himself. In addition to meditating, Lord Shiva narrates the life and pastimes of the sun of the solar race. The glories of God are endless, so Mahadeva can go on speaking about Rama forever and ever. One of his narrations is found in the Puranas, and it is the basis for the epic Hindi poem of Goswami Tulsidas known as the Ramacharitamanasa.

3. He weds Parvati and gives the ideal example of marriage

The journey through life is difficult, no doubt. In addition to the struggle to survive, for the human being there is the issue of direction. The saying, “He who hesitates is lost,” hits home to the person who doesn’t know what to do in life. Especially if they have realized that material enjoyment doesn’t do much for them, they may not know where to go from there.

To help maintain order and sanity, the Vedic tradition gives the system of four ashramas. If hypothetically you were to live for one hundred years, you spend twenty-five years in each ashrama, or spiritual institution. The second ashrama is grihastha, which is married life. What should a married person do? How should they behave towards the significant other? What is the purpose of staying connected with someone through such a sacred covenant?

Lord Shiva sets the best example. He is known for the vow of maintaining only one wife, eka-patni-vrata. He first marries Sati, whose very name means chastity. Due to an insult by her father, Sati commits suicide and takes birth again as Parvati, the daughter of the king of mountains. Mahadeva would rather remain unmarried, but at the insistence of the Supreme Lord he agrees to accept Parvati as his wife.

BlB3FBwBmkKGrHqIH-C4Es80VW0CGBLZIGEJ[1]Shiva and Parvati help the devotees by showing how a married couple should behave. Parvati is chaste and dedicated to her husband. Shiva is the guru who speaks on the glories of God to his wife. Many important sections of Vedic literature are actually conversations between Shiva and Parvati. The couple is very dear to the Supreme Lord, and the devotees who know them also hold them very dear.

4. He is a conqueror of lust

Mahadeva internally and externally conquers lust, which is known as kama in Sanskrit. Kama personified is a heavenly figure. Kamadeva is basically like Cupid; he arouses lusty desires in the conditioned souls. He tried to do that with Shiva one time, but Mahadeva burned him to ashes. Kamadeva then later took birth again as the son of Shri Krishna named Pradyumna.

śrī-bhagavān uvāca

kāma eṣa krodha eṣa


mahāśano mahā-pāpmā

viddhy enam iha vairiṇam

“The Blessed Lord said: It is lust only, Arjuna, which is born of contact with the material modes of passion and later transformed into wrath, and which is the all-devouring, sinful enemy of this world.” (Bhagavad-gita, 3.37)

The conqueror of kama can help those with less self-control achieve the same. As Shri Krishna says in the Bhagavad-gita, kama is the all-devouring enemy of the material world. It is the greatest inhibitor of spiritual advancement. By itself it can lead to rebirth time and time again. Kama and bhakti are on opposite sides. Through Mahadeva’s association, a person can get help in conquering the very powerful lust.

5. He lives renounced, even though he could have everything

Lord Shiva is married. He is very dear to the Supreme Lord. Since he is a heavenly figure, he would be expected to have opulence. After all, one of the reasons for worshiping divine figures is to get residence in the heavenly realm as a result. Shri Krishna says that the enjoyment in that place is very advanced.

trai-vidyā māṁ soma-pāḥ pūta-pāpā

yajñair iṣṭvā svar-gatiṁ prārthayante

te puṇyam āsādya surendra-lokam

aśnanti divyān divi deva-bhogān

“Those who study the Vedas and drink the soma juice, seeking the heavenly planets, worship Me indirectly. They take birth on the planet of Indra, where they enjoy godly delights.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.20)

Though Mahadeva could have everything, he lives extremely renounced. He is so much without external opulence that Parvati’s female friends pitied her that she was marrying such a poor person. These humorous interactions are found in the details of the couple’s wedding. Yet Parvati is no fool. She knows that her husband is actually full of wealth, as he has devotion to God the person.

lord_shiva_rm7724Mahadeva has the power to give away practically anything. Why does he live with so little, then? There must be a reason. He must know something that others don’t. By studying Mahadeva, the wise person questions whether material opulence is really the ultimate aim of life. Maybe meditation is better. Maybe real strength is having an unbroken link to the Supreme Consciousness. Maybe Mahadeva has something more valuable to give to those who worship him.

In Closing:

In extreme renunciation to live,

Mahadeva something better to give.


Than just benedictions many,

Having lasting value not any.


Ashutosha since easily pleased,

Can give away bhakti also with ease.


Showing example of marriage ideal,

Telling pastimes of Shri Rama real.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Five Things To Know About Advaita Philosophy

Radha_Krishna_L_22815“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)

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arjuna uvāca

evaṁ satata-yuktā ye

bhaktās tvāṁ paryupāsate

ye cāpy akṣaram avyaktaṁ

teṣāṁ ke yoga-vittamāḥ

Is Krishna a mixed up impersonalist-personalist? Since He mentions both paths in the Bhagavad-gita, which is the most widely known and read philosophical work in history, does the purported Supreme Personality of Godhead contradict Himself? Shouldn’t it be one or the other?

Fortunately, Arjuna posed the question to Krishna to clear up any doubts on the issue. The direct recipient of the Gita’s teachings asked which path is better: impersonalism or personalism. The former is also known as advaita, and it is commonly misunderstood.

1. It is a way to understand religion philosophically

You don’t have to blindly follow someone. To follow in service is the natural inclination for all living things. This foundational property is known as dharma. It is the essential characteristic. The Sanskrit word dharma equates to religion because those who don’t understand dharma can’t seem to find a better equivalent.

Dharma can be understood philosophically. That is, you can use your brain in spiritual life. You are encouraged to do so, as the Sanskrit aphorism, “athato brahma-jijnasa,” says that the human birth is the wakeup call to inquire into spiritual matters.

Advaita philosophy requires intelligence to understand. You can sit and hear someone explain it, and that is a great first step. The next step is to try to understand what it means. Practically apply the philosophy to other things you have seen and heard. From there behold the wonder of the spiritual energy.

2. It is a name for God

We find the word “advaita” in the Brahma-samhita, which is a set of prayers offered one time by the origin of the population. He is known as Brahma, and he offered the words to the person who comes even before him. The population comes into being through the combination of prakriti and purusha. The prakriti consists of three kinds of ingredients: goodness, passion and ignorance. Brahma is like the painter supplied with these colors, given the freedom to use them in endless combinations and proportions.

Advaita is a name for God, along with other names like Achyuta and Anadi. These Sanskrit words are negations. Anadi means that God is without adi, or beginning. Time and space are both infinite. You can trace the beginning of something, but know that there is something before that time as well. That infinite time is one way to understand God.

Achyuta means that God never falls down. Advaita means “non-duality.” Since God is advaita, He is everywhere. His influence cannot be removed from any area. A person can deny that the influence is there. They can be ignorant of it. A child may not know what sunlight is. They may say there is no such thing, but their viewpoint has no bearing on the truth. The sun is there regardless of what they think.

3. It means that you and I are connected

Advaita says that the spiritual energy is everywhere. There is sameness shared by every living thing. That means that you and I are connected. We see glimpses of this truth in the similarity of behavioral patterns. Every person eats, sleeps, mates and defends. They may have different preferences in these areas, but the enjoyment is the same. The animals also follow the same behavior, though their intelligence isn’t nearly as high.

4. It means that we are all connected to God

As the Supreme Lord is in every aspect of the creation, each one of us has some connection to Him. We are part of the definition of God. It is like the hands and legs on the body. They are addressed with the word “my” or “your,” which both imply a connection. The spirit souls are a “your” for the Supreme Lord. They come from Him, as He is the source of both the material and spiritual worlds.

ahaṁ sarvasya prabhavo

mattaḥ sarvaṁ pravartate

iti matvā bhajante māṁ

budhā bhāva-samanvitāḥ

“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)

5. It is not the final conclusion

Advaita is not the final word on spirituality. There is dvaita as well, which means “duality.” Using the same example of the body parts, if we lose a limb, it doesn’t mean that our identity changes. Once the piece is missing, it no longer has a connection to us.

mayā tatam idaṁ sarvaṁ

jagad avyakta-mūrtinā

mat-sthāni sarva-bhūtāni

na cāhaṁ teṣv avasthitaḥ

“By Me, in My unmanifested form, this entire universe is pervaded. All beings are in Me, but I am not in them.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.4)

Krishna explains this in the Bhagavad-gita by saying that all beings are in Him, but He is not in them. This means that all living things are components belonging to the definition that is God. The reverse doesn’t hold true. God is not one of the components that makes up our identity.

Though they seemingly contradict, both advaita and dvaita are true. The two philosophies are also known as impersonalism and personalism. Krishna describes both in the Bhagavad-gita, and Arjuna at one point wants to know which path is superior. There is a style of worship that descends from each philosophy. From advaita a person appreciates everything that is living. They become detached by knowing that they are spirit and not the dull matter that covers up spirit in the material world.

śrī-bhagavān uvāca

mayy āveśya mano ye māṁ

nitya-yuktā upāsate

śraddhayā parayopetās

te me yuktatamā matāḥ

“The Blessed Lord said: He whose mind is fixed on My personal form, always engaged in worshiping Me with great and transcendental faith, is considered by Me to be most perfect.” (Bhagavad-gita, 12.2)

Radha_Krishna_L_22829From dvaita a person engages in worship of God the person. They know they are connected to Him due to the advaita philosophy, and yet they understand there is a difference as well. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu describes the combination as achintya-bhedabheda-tattva, simultaneous oneness and difference. Know that you are the same as God in quality, but quantitatively He is always superior. From this truth a natural relationship follows: devotional service, or bhakti-yoga. Those who serve in this way are always one with God, while those who don’t remain separated in terms of consciousness.

In Closing:

Advaita giving perspective one,

That difference to God and creation none.


All a oneness between living beings to see,

At the core not different are you and me.


Final word still not giving,

With duality also living.


Arjuna asking Lord which one is best,

Path of personalism by Krishna blessed.