Saturday, May 14, 2016

Peace Is Ready For The Taking

K11720Radha20Krsna2022_5F11“The sages, knowing Me as the ultimate purpose of all sacrifices and austerities, the Supreme Lord of all planets and demigods and the benefactor and well-wisher of all living entities, attain peace from the pangs of material miseries.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 5.29)

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bhoktāraṁ yajña-tapasāṁ


suhṛdaṁ sarva-bhūtānāṁ

jñātvā māṁ śāntim ṛcchati

How long do we have to stay bewildered? Day after day, trying different things but actually repeating the same boring activities, one after another - where is it leading? Is it supposed to go somewhere? It must, since we have intelligence. We use that intelligence to make strategic decisions in both the short and long terms. What about the longest term, that spans the beginning of life until the end? Is there a strategy for capturing permanent peace?

Imagine this scenario. You have millions of dollars in the bank. It doesn’t necessarily matter how it got there. Perhaps it was inherited. Maybe it was earned through success in business. Perhaps you were one of the lucky few to have won the lottery. Regardless, you shouldn’t have to worry about the necessities of life going forward. You have more than enough money stowed away to live comfortably.

Now imagine that you wake up one day and suddenly forget about the money. You’re in a panic over how to satisfy the bills. You need a steady income to stay afloat. To get a steady income, you need a good job. In this way the responsibilities gradually turn into a mountain that seems insurmountable. There is no peace, since there is no chance to sit back and be free of worries.

In this hypothetical situation, peace is actually there the entire time. It’s available for the taking. It’s not hard to find, and neither is it expensive to purchase. Life doesn’t have to be painful. The key to solving the problems is remembrance. Just remember what you have in the bank. Don’t forget it.

In the same way, every living entity has a connection to Bhagavan, which is one of many words to describe the Supreme Lord. The name Bhagavan says that God has all opulences. Included among these is aishvarya, or wealth. He is the wealthiest person. It makes sense, since God is the origin of everything. He has the original and lifetime deed on every single property that exists.

Since we are connected to the richest person, we have no reason to fear. We don’t even need to specifically ask Him to shower some of that wealth upon us. Rather, the friendship alone establishes safety and security. In the Bhagavad-gita, Bhagavan reveals the peace formula. One aspect to that formula is knowing that He is the best friend of every living thing.

Bhagavan is also the original proprietor of everything and the ultimate enjoyer of all religious rituals and sacrifices. A person who knows these three things no longer feels the misery of a material existence. They find that peace which previously was elusive.

Paradise and peace go together. If there is no peace, then there cannot be happiness. Since peace is so easily found, it means that paradise isn’t that far away. Real paradise is as near as the mind itself, which can stay connected to the Divine through yoga. To help control the mind, there are physical exercises, such as chanting the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

K11720Radha20Krsna2022_5F23The argument will be made that this is simply dogmatic insistence, that sentimental allegiance is at play. Why would others be willing to accept such a formula when they have their own religious tradition they have inherited? The three components to the aforementioned peace formula are not sectarian, as there is acknowledgment of an original person. The exact name or spiritual tradition used to understand isn’t so important. The relevant details are that peace comes through His association. Since He is all-pervading, or Vishnu, peace is ready for the taking for every person who is suffering.

In Closing:

Like rich person trouble to find,

Since wealth forgotten to mind.


Peace at any time available there,

But far away since remaining unaware.


Same with the Supreme Lord applying,

No need for separate endeavor trying.


For every living entity acting as friend the best,

Know His high standing and with peace be blessed.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Talking About Meditating To Understand

bala_krishna_offering6“And of all yogis, he who always abides in Me with great faith, worshiping Me in transcendental loving service, is most intimately united with Me in yoga and is the highest of all.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 6.47)

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yoginām api sarveṣāṁ


śraddhāvān bhajate yo māṁ

sa me yuktatamo mataḥ

Friend1: Life is difficult, wouldn’t you say?

Friend2: How so?

Friend1: Nothing is ever settled. You can never just sit back and relax.

Friend2: That’s for sure. Responsibilities are a huge burden. They are like a train that you have to keep outrunning, lest it run over you.

Friend1: Bearing this in mind, you would have to say it’s understandable for people to neglect spiritual life.

Friend2: Intentionally or because they don’t have the time?

Friend1: A little of both. They are busy taking care of responsibilities. If they make the time for spiritual life, they have to be wondering what that will do to help them.

Friend2: Right, like what will they get out of it? What is the use in stopping by a building on a certain day and paying respects to a statue made of stone?

Friend1: Exactly. To them it’s a little silly. Why not work hard instead? Why leave everything up to some mythical figure?

bala_krishna_offering16Friend2: I see what you’re saying. The deity has a much higher purpose, though. It’s there to help you understand everything that is going on.

Friend1: What do you mean?

Friend2: Take all the responsibilities, for instance. We agree that once one gets taken care of, another one sprouts up; sort of like the game “whack-a-mole.”

Friend1: Okay.

Friend2: If they keep springing up, what is the use in taking care of them? What is the meaning to it all?

Friend1: Those are good questions, but how is looking at a statue going to reveal such important information?

Friend2: Looking in that way is called meditation. Undoubtedly, the less intelligent ask things from the statue, which represents a divine figure. It’s not completely foolish to do so, because at least in that practice there is some acknowledgment of a higher power.

Friend1: That we’re not fully in control of the outcomes to actions.

Friend2: If you go one step further and meditate on the form that represents the Divine Himself, then you’re really going somewhere. The process for meditation is described in the Shrimad Bhagavatam. You start with the lotus feet and then gradually work your way up.

Friend1: Is meditation a kind of yoga?

Friend2: Dhyana-yoga. The Bhagavad-gita describes yoga and the different ways it is practiced. Shri Krishna says that of all the yogis, the one who thinks of Him always is the best. One way to always think of Him is to pay respects to the deity in the temple or the home. It may not appear to be worthwhile, but even a little sacrifice in time can pay dividends very quickly.

In Closing:

Burdened by responsibilities of mine,

For spiritual life don’t have time.


What looking at a statue can do?

How to help with money and family too?


When in proper way meditation called,

Easier then Lord’s features to recall.


Of all yogis best focused on Krishna the one,

From a little effort, benefits quickly to come.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

The Three Time Periods

Krishna_standing10“I am the Self, O Gudakesha, seated in the hearts of all creatures. I am the beginning, the middle and the end of all beings.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 10.20)

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aham ātmā guḍākeśa


aham ādiś ca madhyaṁ ca

bhūtānām anta eva ca

What does it mean to be the life of all beings? When we hear it said, “I am the life of everything that lives,” what does that mean specifically? Obviously, it can’t refer to you or me, because we animate only that which is local, i.e. the body. I don’t give you life and you don’t give me life. This is how we are separate. We are identical in the sense that the qualitative makeup of what gives me life is the same in you. Individual spirit is the same in quality.

The Supreme Lord is the life of all beings. In this way we can understand His all-pervasiveness, how His presence is not absent from any aspect of the universe. There is the famous philosophical question that if a tree falls in an empty forest, does it make a sound? The obvious answer is that of course it makes a sound. The philosopher would argue that since no one is there to hear it, how can there be a sound? Is not sound something determined by perception?

The all-pervasiveness of the Supersoul puts the issue to rest. In this feature the Divine is everywhere, even in the empty forest. Therefore He perceives the sound of the tree falling. There is no such thing as an empty space, since God is always around.

Another way to understand the Supersoul is to know that He is the beginning, middle and end of all beings. This information comes to us courtesy of the Bhagavad-gita. Typically, this is easy to understand on the large scale. With any temporary object, there are three time periods. There is the initial creation. Then there is maintenance, followed by destruction. The Supersoul is all three of the factors.

Then there is the same at the micro level. Each conditioned being has these three phases. The Supersoul is again responsible from beginning to end. This information is useful to know since it provides a way to understand God.

Let’s say that I am ready to start an important venture. I prepare beforehand, gathering the required materials. I allot enough time to work on the project and see it to its completion. I then give more time to checking everything at the end and providing for the finished product’s maintenance into the future.

Undoubtedly, I should take credit for the work. But at the same time, I should recognize that without the Supersoul’s sanction, there would have been no chance for completion. The hand of the Divine is required in each step, from beginning to end. This explains why some people fail and others succeed when undertaking the exact same task. Sometimes the Supersoul will sanction, and sometimes He will not.

He is also the beginning, middle and end of devotional practices. In this venture, He always lends His support. He steps out of the role of invisible witness and appears in person in a variety of ways. He comes as the guru, or spiritual master, providing instructions on how to break out of the temporary world. Sometimes He comes in a personal form, like when He spoke the Bhagavad-gita on the battlefield of Kurukshetra to Arjuna.

Krishna_standing22In whatever way He arrives, He is there to give support. The wise see Him all the time, for they know the Supersoul is everywhere. They understand Shri Krishna to be the original form of the Supersoul, and so they continue to worship in devotion, feeling blissful from beginning to end.

In Closing:

In new venture time to spend,

Tenacious, seeing it to the end.


Though rightly proud of work to be,

Other forces at play, not all because of me.


The Supersoul, there in phases three,

Invisible in heart, not with eyes to see.


Merciful, as Shri Krishna or guru coming,

From instruction wise the soul becoming.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Five Ways To Gauge How Your Bhakti Is Going

image6“Have you conquered all the obstacles in the way of your practice of austerities? Has your practice of austerity and penance steadily increased? O lady who possesses asceticism for wealth [tapodhane], have you been able to control your anger and your eating?” (Lord Rama speaking to Shabari, Valmiki Ramayana, Aranya Kand, 74.8)

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“Starting tomorrow, I will eat a lot simpler. I won’t indulge in all of these things that are bad for me. I’ve made enough mistakes. The thoughts of food consumed my mind for hours and hours; even after deciding on something there was little happiness after the fact.”

Diet and exercise fads are popular because they work. They work because people have tried them. People have tried them because they are not happy with their health, either as it relates to physical appearance or the internal flow of air, known as prana in Sanskrit.

If not thinking about food, the human mind ponders other aspects of enjoyment. Where will the next trip be? How do I avoid something that caused me harm recently? What should I do with my time? In following the genuine spiritual life that is bhakti-yoga, there are ways to assess how things are going. There is a way to measure progress. Interestingly, the progress in bhakti-yoga corresponds directly with the alleviation of past trouble points.

1. Are you thinking about food less?

Shri Rama one time met a female ascetic named Shabari. This was while He was roaming the forest with His brother Lakshmana, looking for Sita Devi, the princess of Videha. Shabari was committed to dharma, even though in her time ritualistic practice was prohibited for women. The guru, or spiritual master, is the determining factor. It is through their mercy that any person, young or old, male or female, gets to enter into spiritual life.

Shabari was a polite host to Rama and Lakshmana, offering them nice berries that were available nearby. Rama, for His part, was polite in asking how Shabari’s asceticism was going. The questions He asked show what qualities should automatically arise as a result of connecting with the Divine.

One of the questions He asked was if she had been able to control her eating. Man doesn’t need much to survive. Only in the human form of body can there be self-imposed restriction on eating and sleeping. The best restriction on eating is to only consume that which has first been offered to the Supreme Lord. A person who follows this route, while remaining connected to God in consciousness, can control their desires for eating.

2. Do you have more attachment to the guru?

Rama asked Shabari if the service to her guru had been fruitful. Of course, since she was getting Rama’s darshana the answer was already there. Rama is the very Supreme Lord worshiped by people from varying spiritual traditions spanning the three worlds and the three time periods.

“Have you observed all the regulative principles and have you achieved happiness of mind? O lady who speaks beautifully, has your service to your guru been fruitful?” (Lord Rama speaking to Shabari, Valmiki Ramayana, Aranya Kand, 74.9)

image15If your attachment to your guru grows as you continue forward in bhakti, it means you are doing well. The reason is obvious. The more advancement a person makes, the more appreciative they become of the preceptor who brought them into the timeless occupation, one that is the essential characteristic of every living thing.

3. Is your anger under control?

Anger is the result of frustration, wherein a material desire is not met. Anger by itself is not always harmful, as sometimes the strong emotion is required to ignite the flame of service. Nevertheless, a person who is always angry is easily agitated, which they should not be.

By steady service in bhakti-yoga, a person should become more knowledgeable. The knowledge is about everything that surrounds them. The knowledge includes how the results to action come about through the influence of time. The more a person knows what is going on around them, the less susceptible they are to agitation from an unmet desire. After all, happiness and sadness come and go like the winter and summer seasons. Shri Krishna says that a person must learn to tolerate these changes without being disturbed.

mātrā-sparśās tu kaunteya


āgamāpāyino 'nityās

tāṁs titikṣasva bhārata

“O son of Kunti, the nonpermanent appearance of happiness and distress, and their disappearance in due course, are like the appearance and disappearance of winter and summer seasons. They arise from sense perception, O scion of Bharata, and one must learn to tolerate them without being disturbed.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.14)

4. Are you happy in mind?

This is the million dollar question, isn’t it? How do we even tell if we are happy? The Sanskrit word used by Rama is sukha. This word also means “pleasure” and “delight.” Is devotional service making you more happy? If not, then something is wrong. The more one connects with the all-attractive origin of everything, the happier they should be. Even the pain of separation from Him is known to be blissful. Shrimati Radharani always feels this pain, yet she is the most blissful person in the universe.

5. Is your enthusiasm increasing?

If I start a new hobby, it is most likely that my interest in it will wane with time. If I get into cooking, the first few years can be fun, trying out new recipes and the like. After a while, though, something else will spark my interest. In this way the cycle continues, which Prahlada Maharaja refers to as chewing the chewed.

In bhakti-yoga, the enthusiasm should increase with time. The more a person advances, the more eager they become to continue serving. It’s paradoxical. Yet the person who tries bhakti-yoga in earnest, following the guidelines of a bona fide spiritual teacher, soon comes to realize this amazing truth. Even if they find themselves not so well off materially, they can at least enthusiastically chant and hear the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

In Closing:

If with bhakti path by guru blessed,

Ways for progress then to assess.


Is urge for eating controlled?

Anger over you no longer a hold?


Propensity to lament decreased?

And attachment to guru increased?


Enthusiasm in bhakti on the rise,

Paradoxical, known to person who tries.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Devotion Is Rising

image8“Spiritual taste is like the ocean in the sense that it is very great. The Pacific Ocean is always tossing, but it is not increasing. By God's order, the ocean does not extend beyond its limit, and if it extends, there is havoc. Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu says that there is another ocean, an ocean of transcendental bliss, an ocean that is always increasing.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Path of Perfection, Ch 1)

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It is common to see a plethora of toys in the playroom of the young male child in modern times. There are likely many toy cars and airplanes. Take that same person in ten years’ time and the situation changes. The toys may still be there, but they are stowed away. Some day another child might come along to play with them.

The reason for the change is that the activity ceased to be engaging. Interests shifted elsewhere. This is not unique to children, either. Adults get bigger and more expensive toys, and they don’t necessarily keep a constant eye on them. After all, the very nature of progress is imperfection. You can only progress from something if that something is imperfect in some way. This means that every point reached will be left behind at some point in the future.

Devotional service, when practiced properly, does not have the same defect. The law of diminishing returns does not apply. Indeed, the laws that we know to be inviolable in the present realm are conspicuously absent in the spiritual world. In that imperishable land, you can take something away and still have it. You can feel full pleasure and then somehow find a way to increase from there. These are contradictions to the human mind, but that mind is a product of the material nature, which has defects.

In the Ramacharitamanasa the venerable sage Valmiki describes how the devotees never tire of hearing about the deeds of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He compares the ears to reservoirs that take in rushing water from incoming tributaries. Despite the nectar in the form of Hari-katha constantly flowing in, the reservoir never fills up. The enthusiasm only increases.

This is because the beneficiary of service in devotion is Himself infinite. He is without limits. The Sanskrit word Krishna says that He is all-attractive. Every aspect to Him is appealing to some degree. The person with the pure consciousness is fully attracted by every feature, but even the less intelligent can worship Krishna. The person who enjoys drinking wine can slowly become Krishna conscious by appreciating that the Supreme Lord is the taste of their preferred beverage. As a form of intoxication, drinking wine has negative effects, but even the person falling in this way can find a way to remain connected to God.

raso 'ham apsu kaunteya

prabhāsmi śaśi-sūryayoḥ

praṇavaḥ sarva-vedeṣu

śabdaḥ khe pauruṣaṁ nṛṣu

“O son of Kunti [Arjuna], I am the taste of water, the light of the sun and the moon, the syllable om in the Vedic mantras; I am the sound in ether and ability in man.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.8)

If I know that pleasure won’t last in a particular engagement, that knowledge makes the activity less appealing. On the other hand, if I know that the enjoyment from something will only increase with time, it makes that something the most worthwhile venture to start. Fortunately, entrance into the eternal occupation of bhakti-yoga is quite simple. Just chant the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

Krishna---Indra-Sharma11You may be from a specific religious tradition that doesn’t describe God as personal. You may have a vendetta against the person you think has wronged you for so long. You may not have any interest in philosophy. In bhakti-yoga the stress is placed on where the person is going, not from where they have come. As Krishna is nava-yauvanam, or ever fresh and new, the engagement that seeks to connect with Him gives continuously increasing returns.

In Closing:

In room with toys to play,

Then later on in closet to stay.


Adults following the same way,

Interest not forever to stay.


Different with bhakti unceasing,

Since pleasure continuously increasing.


To Krishna’s nava-yauvanam due,

Like teenager, looking always fresh and new.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Five Times The Universal Form Was Shown

image8“Just then the child inhaled, drawing Markandeya within His body like a mosquito. There the sage found the entire universe arrayed as it had been before its dissolution. Seeing this, Markandeya was most astonished and perplexed.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 12.9.27)

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tāvac chiśor vai śvasitena bhārgavaḥ

so ’ntaḥ śarīraṁ maśako yathāviśat

tatrāpy ado nyastam acaṣṭa kṛtsnaśo

yathā purāmuhyad atīva vismitaḥ

Pride is a product of the subtle material element known as false ego; ahankara in Sanskrit. There is always ego. Each person has the right to say, “I am.” The determination on the kind of ego is based on the object of identification. Am I this body? If I think in the affirmative then I am under ahankara. From there I am vulnerable to feeling excessive pride over my accomplishments, not realizing that so many other factors must cooperate in order for me to achieve anything. Something as simple as waking up in the morning requires that the acts of god, the body and mind, and other living entities be favorable upon me.

When the identification is with the spirit within, the ego that was false starts to become real and pure. Those who are in bhakti-yoga, or devotional service, have this proper identification. Still, sometimes there is pride in devotion. Ahankara is nevertheless absent, as the result of that temporary swelling of ego is always beneficial. The Supreme Lord performs His magic to curb the pride, to make sure ahankara stays far away, giving so much delight to the devotee in the process.

One way He curbs pride is showing the universal form. This is the vision of the complete everything. It takes on great significance in the Bhagavad-gita, a work from which so many paintings have been drawn, in an attempt to somehow put the vision of everything in a two-dimensional image. A variation of that vision has been shown several times in history, and for different reasons.

1. To mother Yashoda, after killing the demon Trinavarta

The Supreme Lord is one. He is both formless and with form. The distinction is only from the human perspective. Just as during the nighttime we think the sun has disappeared, when there is no proper understanding of spiritual attributes we conclude that God is without form. He in fact has a spiritual body, or vigraha. The exact vision of that body varies slightly, suited to time and circumstance and the Lord’s desires.

One time God appeared on earth in the form of a child named Krishna. The wise know this to be the original form of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. In the spiritual region, there is no conflict. If a person desires to see God victorious over bad guys, they must look to the avataras who descend to earth.

“After this incident, when Yashoda once was nursing her child and patting Him with great affection, there streamed a profuse supply of milk from her breast, and when she opened the mouth of the child with her fingers, she suddenly saw the universal manifestation within His mouth. She saw within the mouth of Krishna the whole sky, including the luminaries, stars in all directions, the sun, moon, fire, air, seas, islands, mountains, rivers, forests, and all other movable and immovable entities.” (Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 1, Ch 7)

KGrHqQOKocE3G8UFYrDBN8J40NDbw_310One time a demon in the form of a whirlwind came to Vrindavana and tried to kill baby Krishna. Taking Yashoda’s son high into the sky, Trinavarta thought he would make quick work of the helpless boy. Krishna instantly became heavy, though, causing the demon to drop to the ground and die. Soon thereafter, mother Yashoda took her son in her lap and was ready to feed Him breast milk. In preparation, she opened up Krishna’s mouth. Lo and behold, she received a vision of the universal form. It included all the creatures of this and every other world.

2. To mother Yashoda, after being accused of eating dirt

Mother Yashoda is so special that she twice had interaction with a version of the universal form. The second time was after Krishna came home and was accused by His friends of having eaten dirt. Like with the other incident, the purpose here was to delight the mother, to remind her that her son was something special. She looked into Krishna’s mouth and again beheld an amazing vision. It included all the planets and the stars. It was a wonderful thing that such vastness could exist within the mouth of a small child. Shri Krishna is always infinity, irrespective of the form in which He appears.

3. To Markandeya Rishi

As he explains to the Pandava brothers in the Mahabharata, Markandeya Rishi has the amazing boon of being able to remain in his body for kalpa after kalpa. These are the cycles of creation and destruction. During one such destruction, he came upon a small boy resting on a banyan tree leaf. The vision was odd since nothing else existed on the earth, which was being covered by the flood of devastation.

image17This boy was Narayana, who is non-different from Krishna. Markandeya entered Narayana’s mouth and saw endless variety. All the creatures were there and there was no end. Though he was a sage highly respected for his wisdom and renunciation, Markandeya became bewildered by the Lord’s potency. Narayana then released the sage, explaining that the vision seen inside the stomach was for teaching about the Absolute. After telling this story, Markandeya informed the Pandava brothers that the Krishna who was with them was the same Narayana, the source of the entire creation.

4. To Kakabhushundi

The deeds of the Supreme Lord are so blissful to hear about that there are many people who relay the stories. One of them is a crow named Kakabhushundi, who famously describes the life and pastimes of Shri Rama to Garuda, the feathered carrier of Narayana. Rama is an avatara of Vishnu, appearing on earth in the Treta Yuga in the body of a warrior prince.

Bhakti towards any Vishnu form is identical; just the mood of the devotee varies. Kakabhushundi’s ishta-deva, or deity of choice, is Rama during His childhood in Ayodhya. Kakabhushundi comes to that area during every one of Rama’s advents to delight in the pastimes. This one fact reveals the true nature of liberation. It is not that everything comes to an end when a person achieves mukti, or final emancipation. What happens is that they are guaranteed to continue in service to God through the vision of their ishta-deva.

Kakabhushundi would play with the child Rama, flying near Him and then going away. One time Rama seemed to be bewildered by the fact that the crow kept flying away. Rama was spinning in circles, unable to catch His old friend. Kakabhushundi then had a small hint of pride, doubting how someone could be knowledge personified and act in such childish ways.

BnhnJBmkKGrHqQOKjQEtlp-8MqSBLj0JeLbySensing this feeling, Rama then tried to catch the crow. Kakabhushundi flew as far away as he could, but whenever he turned back he saw that Rama’s hand was two finger-widths away. Having no choice left, the crow was caught and then put into Rama’s mouth. There he saw a version of the universal form, which is mystifying and awe-inspiring. When he couldn’t take it anymore, when his bewilderment reached its apex, Rama released Kakabhushundi out of His mouth. The crow never forgot the lesson, and delighted in retelling the incident to Garuda.

5. To Arjuna

The famed Pandava bow-warrior wasn’t necessarily full of pride, but he was in doubt. Just as with Kakabhushundi and Markandeya gazing at the infinite variety in the Lord’s stomach, this was all due to Krishna’s potency. The Lord intentionally put Arjuna into doubt so as to have a platform for speaking the sacred Bhagavad-gita.

paśyādityān vasūn rudrān

aśvinau marutas tathā

bahūny adṛṣṭa-pūrvāṇi

paśyāścaryāṇi bhārata

“O best of the Bharatas, see here the different manifestations of Adityas, Rudras, and all the demigods. Behold the many things which no one has ever seen or heard before.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 11.6)

At one point Krishna showed the universal form to Arjuna, who had the benediction of seeing a version never before shown. Arjuna had to receive a special set of eyes, divine in fact, in order to behold this wonderful and awe-inspiring vision. The display was really for the future doubters, those who wouldn’t have faith in the testimony of Arjuna and other authorities as to the divinity of the son of Yashoda.

It should be noted that not in any of the instances did things end with the vision of the universal form. The virata-rupa is in one sense a way to see God. The devotees don’t put much importance in this vision, which is more or less impersonal. They would rather continue in service to their worshipable form of choice; a fact which once again proves that in liberation there is endless activity.

In Closing:

When hint of pride to be,

From Lord universal form to see.


For Yashoda twice was shown,

For Markandeya at end when all alone.


Kakabhushundi crow with Rama playing,

Within His stomach full creation displaying.


Not the end, still further to go,

Infinite service in liberation to know.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

God Wants Me To Enjoy

20110506image00111“Engage your mind always in thinking of Me, offer obeisances and worship Me. Being completely absorbed in Me, surely you will come to Me.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.34)

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man-manā bhava mad-bhakto

mad-yājī māṁ namaskuru

mām evaiṣyasi yuktvaivam

ātmānaṁ mat-parāyaṇaḥ

Question: God wants me to enjoy. That is the meaning of life. Well, the enjoyment comes through love. That is what binds us all together. Why are you so much against enjoyment? You have this restriction and that. You criticize the smartas, those who literally follow the written and remembered word of the Vedas, smriti, but you have your own rules, too. Get up early in the morning, during the brahma-muhurta period. Chant the holy names a fixed number of times. Don’t eat this. Don’t eat that. Don’t drink. Don’t offend others who are on the same path. Why would a loving God want to punish people in this way?

Mental speculation is relying on only the mind to figure out difficult topics. The origin of the creation, the reason for our being here, the cause of suffering in this world - these are the most puzzling issues. One speculation says that God exists and that He gave us this one life to enjoy. After that enjoyment, we get to go back to Him. Upon careful analysis, through relying on the disciplic succession of the Vedic tradition, we get the proper understanding.

The enjoyment referred to above relates to the senses. There is eating, sleeping, mating and defending, which are the four base animalistic activities. Sense pleasure comes through hearing, seeing, touching, tasting and smelling. Acknowledge that there is a higher power, but don’t really go beyond that. Just believe in Him and you’ll be alright. Then continue to enjoy.

The Vedic tradition says that this kind of enjoyment is actually forgetfulness of God. Using basic substitution, the original theory would then hold that God wants us to forget Him. Take this one life, which is determined arbitrarily and can last as little as a second or as long as one hundred years, and follow whichever direction helps you to best forget the author of all things.

The Bhagavad-gita advises just the opposite. Remember God. The process in Sanskrit is known as vishno-smaranam. Remembrance of God the person, who is known as Vishnu since He is all-pervading. Not a single space is absent the presence and the all-seeing eyes of the Divine. He is also known as Krishna due to His all-attractiveness. That Krishna is the speaker of the Gita. In addition to providing detailed information on the cause of the creation, the interaction of the elements with the living spirits, and the future destination for various kinds of activities, He gives recommendations on how to best achieve happiness.

20110506image00125He advises Arjuna, the symbol of the disciple in the conversation, to become a devotee. Offer obeisances unto Krishna. Always think of Him. In this way you will go to Him. Sounds an awful lot like dogmatic insistence. Seems no different than any other religious path, except there is something unique. Krishna’s all-attractiveness necessitates that the closer one gets to Him, the more enjoyment they receive.

And what about the restrictions? Those are in place to remove obstacles along the path of devotion. If you want to perform well in a race, you have to eat properly beforehand. Eat too much and too soon before the race and you’ll get bogged down. The enjoyment you seek of a top performance will be hindered. The same applies in other areas of achievement. There are always regulations in place to help ensure success.

There are four activities considered the most prohibitive towards development of the devotional consciousness. They are meat eating, gambling, intoxication and illicit sex. These activities take away the much needed virtues of compassion, honesty, cleanliness and austerity. These are the four pillars of religious life, regardless of the specific tradition followed.

God does indeed want me to enjoy. He knows that real enjoyment comes with His association. If the supposed path of enjoyment leads to forgetfulness, then it is illusion. Hence the common use of the Sanskrit word maya, which means “that which is not.” In illusion, I take that which is not ultimately good for me to be beneficial in the short term. I reject that which will do me the most good going forward. The wise choice is to accept the words of the Bhagavad-gita descending from authority, from those respected personalities who follow the same mood of devotion as the original recipient, the great bow-warrior Arjuna.

In Closing:

To this world with a purpose sent,

To have full enjoyment this existence meant.


But if that path forgetfulness providing,

Then only in miserable future residing.


God wants that enjoyment for us indeed,

But in proper way, from attachment be freed.


Enjoy with Him, in consciousness stay connected,

By His guiding hand in devotion be protected.