Saturday, May 28, 2016

Five Reasons To Avoid Gramya-katha

sri20krishna12“Bhagavad-gita is the narration or the philosophy or the science of God, spoken by Krishna Himself. Shrimad-Bhagavatam is the narration about the activities and transcendental pastimes of Krishna. Both are Krishna-katha. It is the order of Lord Chaitanya that Krishna-katha should be spread all over the world, because if the conditioned souls, suffering under the pangs of material existence, take to Krishna-katha, then their path of liberation will be open and clear.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 1, Introduction)

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Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu descended to this world to reveal the highest transcendental mellow, madhurya-rasa, wherein the individual associates with the Supreme Personality of Godhead in a mood of sweetness. As a combined incarnation of Radha and Krishna, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu personified this mood in His actions. He also gave valuable instructions on how to remain in the highest occupation that is bhakti-yoga, or devotional service, and make further advancement towards the pinnacle.

One of those instructions pertains to gramya-katha. This is discussions or discourses about ordinary matters. It can be equated with gossip and village talk. Upon first glance, this seems like an odd thing to warn against, as practically all talk within society would have to be categorized as gramya-katha. The instruction is especially relevant for those who are in the renounced order of life, sannyasa, as for them there is no family life. You’re given a golden opportunity to stop gossiping, since due to your constant travel you really have nothing to gossip about. Nevertheless, the recommendation has relevance for people of all orders.

1. It doesn’t really give you knowledge

“The couple next door is getting divorced. Yup, I heard it from the wife. I think she found out that her husband was cheating on her. She wants to keep the kids. I’m not sure if the reality of the situation has hit the husband yet. Can you believe it? I thought they were the perfect couple.”

The family is one of the pillars of material life, as through the union of man and woman the population within the temporary world remains. In material life things are always changing. Therefore news of the temporary doesn’t have much value. Today the neighbors are getting divorced, but tomorrow they may get back together. Today a politician made a terrible remark about people of a certain ethnicity, and tomorrow they are apologizing and meeting with people from that group.

Gramya-katha is more a way to pass the time. It doesn’t increase knowledge of value. In the Bhagavad-gita, Shri Krishna declares knowledge to be a number of different qualities. Village talk doesn’t necessarily lead to humility, freedom from pride, or equanimity in both happiness and distress.

2. It creates enemies

If I talk about someone else, the law of karma says that others will talk about me. The Sanskrit word for meat is mamsa. The two words that make up this word mean “me” and “he.” So the literal meaning is that I am eating something that will come back and eat me in the future. Thus the very definition of the word provides a warning against those considering consumption. Better to avoid meat and spare yourself from bad karma in the future.

In the same way, if I reveal confidential information about others within society, the same is sure to happen to me. Then one of two things happens. The people I talk about will become upset with me if they find out what I said. I may also become upset by others discussing things about me. In this way enemies get created and peace becomes difficult to maintain.

3. A wise person gives respect to everyone

Every living thing is a spirit soul at the core. Though they may be inhabiting different kinds of bodies, the experience through the material world is the same. There is hardship, difficulty, fear, and impending death slated for everything that is living.

Also within each living being is another, superior soul. This is God Himself, expanding as the Supersoul. Though He appears to be divided, He is still one. That is why the Supersoul is also known as the Supreme Consciousness. It is one consciousness within all bodies, despite being separated physically.

Since every living being has God’s expansion residing within, I should give respect. I should not slander anyone and I should know that even their little mistakes are just that, trivial. In the long run, they may correct themselves. Thus there is no need for me to ruin their reputation by gossiping about them.

4. It is another form of procrastination

Athato brahma-jijnasa. “Now is the time for inquiring about Brahman.” Brahman is spirit, and this call to rise is exclusively for the human being. They have the chance to know about God and the spiritual energy. They have the chance to serve Him with intelligence, to become a jnani and then follow devotion without interruption. Such a person is most dear to God.

teṣāṁ jñānī nitya-yukta

eka-bhaktir viśiṣyate

priyo hi jñānino 'tyartham

ahaṁ sa ca mama priyaḥ

“Of these, the wise one who is in full knowledge in union with Me through pure devotional service is the best. For I am very dear to him, and he is dear to Me.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.17)

Acquiring brahma-jnana is difficult. It requires a concerted effort, with dedication from the individual and help from the spiritual master. A knowledgeable person then takes the next step of connecting with God the person. This connection is yoga. Yoga requires concentration, which is difficult to maintain in a hectic world. Gramya-katha is a way to procrastinate, to avoid the important engagement that is yoga.

5. The ears are meant for Hari-katha

Hari is a name for God. It is synonymous with Krishna. Therefore Hari-katha and Krishna-katha are the same. The ears are a gift from God for the purpose of hearing. It is not that we should avoid hearing and discussing altogether. We make the best use of the ears by hearing about the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Though He is difficult to see and almost impossible to be known in truth, there is still endless discussion of Him available.

sri20krishnaVedic literature is voluminous, and the entirety is glorification of God the person, who has gunas, or transcendental qualities. A person who practices bhakti-yoga under the guidelines of authority can advance to the point where they can deliver Hari-katha themselves. Thus even if no one else is around to speak, the individual can still continuously hear about God and His glories. From tasting the nectar that is Hari-katha, the tendency towards gramya-katha soon vanishes.

In Closing:

Cops arrested neighbor last night,

Married couple to divorce they might.


Such village talk gramya-katha to say,

By Chaitanya advised to stay away.


Through law of karma to see,

Same gossip and slander to me.


For higher purpose human life is meant,

In Hari-katha better the time to be spent.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Knowledge Means Qualities

photo11“Humility, pridelessness, nonviolence, tolerance, simplicity, approaching a bona fide spiritual master, cleanliness, steadiness and self-control; renunciation of the objects of sense gratification, absence of false ego, the perception of the evil of birth, death, old age and disease; nonattachment to children, wife, home and the rest, and evenmindedness amid pleasant and unpleasant events; constant and unalloyed devotion to Me, resorting to solitary places, detachment from the general mass of people; accepting the importance of self-realization, and philosophical search for the Absolute Truth - all these I thus declare to be knowledge, and what is contrary to these is ignorance.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 13.8-12)

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amānitvam adambhitvam

ahiṁsā kṣāntir ārjavam

ācāryopāsanaṁ śaucaṁ

sthairyam ātma-vinigrahaḥ


indriyārtheṣu vairāgyam

anahaṅkāra eva ca




asaktir anabhiṣvaṅgaḥ


nityaṁ ca sama-cittatvam



mayi cānanya-yogena

bhaktir avyabhicāriṇī


aratir jana-saṁsadi




etaj jñānam iti proktam

ajñānaṁ yad ato 'nyathā


The claim is that bhakti-yoga is unchecked. The two relevant Sanskrit words are ahaituki and apratihata. These mean “unmotivated” and “uninterrupted.” By extension it can be deduced that the lack of any particular ability won’t present a stumbling block to the practice of love and devotion to the Supreme Lord. This includes knowledge, which the human being has the unique ability to acquire.

What is knowledge? Who is a knowledgeable person? In the United States there is a long-running television show called Jeopardy. Known as a trivia contest, participants compete to answer questions on various topics of interest. Each question has an associated monetary value, and there are chances to further increase earnings through wagering on specific questions.

image6Is the multi-time Jeopardy champion a person in knowledge? What about the college professor, who has a PhD in their field of study? Is the preeminent quantum physicist the smartest person in the world? Does possessing a lot of facts in the mind make a knowledgeable person?

There is no doubt that knowledge is power. The more you know about something, the better you will be able to deal with that subject. In the culture known as the Vedas, there is knowledge imparted from the very beginning. Understand the fundamental truth about your identity. You are spirit soul. What covers you is matter. Ignorance is a byproduct of illusion, which is known as maya. Come out of maya and into the truth, tattva. Acquire jnana, or knowledge, and be above ajnana, or ignorance.

What if a person has a difficult time acquiring knowledge? What if they are illiterate? What if they have no interest in high philosophy? Does this mean they are shut out from advancing in consciousness? Shri Krishna gives the answer in the Bhagavad-gita.

In a series of verses He lists several important qualities. Then He declares those qualities to be jnana. By the estimation of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, knowledge equates to qualities. A person who is humble, without pride, free from attachment to worldly objects, and equal in both happiness and distress is knowledgeable. They may not know the year that East and West Germany unified, but they behave in a way that shows that they are truly knowledgeable about the position of the spirit soul.

The most knowledgeable person understands that God is a person. They then use that understanding to take up service to Him. They may begin that service with the chanting of the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. They continue in that service, knowing that the occupation itself is what brings unending bliss. They steer clear of the maya that would bring them back into ajnana.

photo25The wise person strives to achieve the qualities mentioned by Shri Krishna. Another benefit of following bhakti-yoga is that these qualities come automatically. Jnana and vairagya need not be separate endeavors. If you develop an attachment to the beautiful and soft lotus feet of the jewel of Vrindavana, you’ll automatically be detached from things that don’t represent your true identity or your pathway to real independence, which is release from the cycle of birth and death. Love God and you will be among the most knowledgeable people in the world.

In Closing:

Scholar in the field preeminent,

For trivia contest knowledge pertinent.


What exactly a knowledgeable one to make?

The truth from Shri Krishna just take.


Knowledge actually qualities to possess,

Like without pride, over failure not to obsess.


For jnana and vairagya no separate endeavor,

Through bhakti alone be enlightened forever.

Thursday, May 26, 2016


image8“Humility, pridelessness, nonviolence, tolerance, simplicity, approaching a bona fide spiritual master, cleanliness, steadiness and self-control; renunciation of the objects of sense gratification, absence of false ego, the perception of the evil of birth, death, old age and disease; nonattachment to children, wife, home and the rest, and evenmindedness amid pleasant and unpleasant events; constant and unalloyed devotion to Me, resorting to solitary places, detachment from the general mass of people; accepting the importance of self-realization, and philosophical search for the Absolute Truth - all these I thus declare to be knowledge, and what is contrary to these is ignorance.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 13.8-12)

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amānitvam adambhitvam

ahiṁsā kṣāntir ārjavam

ācāryopāsanaṁ śaucaṁ

sthairyam ātma-vinigrahaḥ


indriyārtheṣu vairāgyam

anahaṅkāra eva ca




asaktir anabhiṣvaṅgaḥ


nityaṁ ca sama-cittatvam



mayi cānanya-yogena

bhaktir avyabhicāriṇī


aratir jana-saṁsadi




etaj jñānam iti proktam

ajñānaṁ yad ato 'nyathā

Those who are not very familiar with devotional service, bhakti-yoga, relegate it to a practice of a sentimental nature, the vehicle of choice for the less intelligent.

“If they had more intelligence, they would follow Vedanta. They would become immersed in the high philosophy, accept the renounced order of sannyasa, and from there advance on the path towards mukti, or ultimate liberation.”

In fact, devotional service is for the most intelligent class of men. All good qualities come as a result of connecting with the Divine in a mood of love and devotion. The Bhagavad-gita confirms this through a single verse, wherein Shri Krishna mentions that humility is equivalent with knowledge. Devotees have great humility, and it is rooted in knowledge.

How is humility related to knowledge? One example we can take is from the Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin. A statesmen who lived in 18th century America, Franklin was famous for many things. What probably earned him the most respect around the world was his discoveries in science. Not a scientist by profession by any means, Franklin’s higher than usual curiosity led to important discoveries relating to electricity.

image23Yet when the famous Founding Father took to writing his autobiography, the scientific achievements were barely mentioned. There is a recommendation to consult the writings of his friend Joseph Priestly, for anyone who is interested. Historians and biographers have studied Franklin ever since his time, and many of them are astounded that he would discuss so briefly things that earned him repute around the world.

The humility is easy to understand for a person in knowledge. They know that even great achievements don’t come about through personal endeavor alone. Like the American football player dancing in the end zone after scoring a touchdown, a person who boasts excessively fails to give proper credit to outside factors.

For the curious scientist, there is the work of previous scientists. There is the material nature itself. If I discover that electricity is the same as lightning, surely that information is valuable to others. At the same time, electricity was always the same as lightning. My discovering the link hasn’t changed any of the properties of material nature. The wise person would give greater credit to the intelligent being behind the amazing creation.

tṛṇād api su-nīcena

taror iva sahiṣṇunā

amāninā māna-dena

kīrtanīyaḥ sadā hariḥ

“One should chant the holy name of the Lord in a humble state of mind, thinking oneself lower than the straw in the street; one should be more tolerant than a tree, devoid of all sense of false prestige and should be ready to offer all respect to others. In such a state of mind one can chant the holy name of the Lord constantly.” (Lord Chaitanya, Shikshashtaka, 3)

image16As Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu says, through a humble state of mind a person is fit for always chanting the holy names of the Lord, kirtaniyah sada harih. Chanting the holy names seems like an activity based on sentiment. You’re singing, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare,” with love and devotion. You’re attracted to the all-attractive one, the wielder of the flute, the lifter of the massive Govardhana Hill, the Lord of the life breath of Shrimati Radharani.

A person can only be in a humble state of mind if they have knowledge. The ignorant think that everything happens as a result of personal effort alone. They are unaware of the three miseries of life. For success in any venture, I need the forces of nature to cooperate. I need to be free of disease from within, and I need other living entities to not get in my way. I am not in control of any of these factors. The thing we refer to as luck is actually tied to these three miseries.

By following devotional service a person gradually merges into a state of being that is equivalent with knowledge. There is humility. There is respect for teachers of the bhakti path. There is a steady state of mind, through good and bad. There is detachment from even things that are the most likely candidates for attachment, such as friends and family. Knowledge comes about through connecting intimately with the most knowledgeable, the Supreme Lord. While deprecating themselves, the devotees elevate Shri Krishna and those who serve Him to the highest stature.

In Closing:

Of my accomplishments proud,

But to happen must first be allowed.


Not every result occurring because of me,

Cooperation of higher authorities must be.


Humility and knowledge a natural pair,

Since real nature of luck aware.


Though for themselves deprecation,

For devotees and Krishna elevation.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Talking About Unsolicited Affection

Gov_puja_kicsi21“Of these, the wise one who is in full knowledge in union with Me through pure devotional service is the best. For I am very dear to him, and he is dear to Me.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.17)

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teṣāṁ jñānī nitya-yukta

eka-bhaktir viśiṣyate

priyo hi jñānino 'tyartham

ahaṁ sa ca mama priyaḥ

Friend1: Who is the most dear to Shri Krishna?

Friend2: That’s easy. Shrimati Radharani. She is the pleasure potency, known as hladini-shakti. Radha and Krishna are actually one. We just see them as different aspects to the singular Divine Supreme. Radha is the female and Krishna the male. One is the enjoyed, while the other is the enjoyer.

Friend1: Are you done?

ShriRadha10Friend2: A person can never finish discussing the glories of Shrimati Radharani. Every good quality is found in her. She is the perfection of devotion. One should be eager to get even a single drop of her mercy, for the benefit of such a blessing can never be properly measured.

Friend1: Thank you for the lecture, but my original question was more generic, like among groups of people. Of the different kinds of devotees, who is the best?

Friend2: I see. Well, you know there is an answer given in the Bhagavad-gita. You don’t have to rely on just me to tell you.

Friend1: Good, because that is what I was getting to. There is that verse where Krishna describes the four kinds of people that render devotional service to Him.

Friend2: The distressed, the person who desires wealth, the inquisitive, and the person who is already in knowledge but wants to know more.

Friend1: In the very next verse, he says that the last category is the best.

Friend2: The jnani.

Friend1: Right. Isn’t that term usually translated as “mental speculator.”

Friend2: Yes, but that’s in terms of how the behavior typically goes for the group in general. The root definition is a person who is in jnana, which is knowledge.

Friend1: So why is that group the most dear? I know there are stipulations, that they should be in full knowledge of Krishna and follow devotion.

Friend2: Exactly. You should be mindful to understand the meaning of the term “best” in this situation.

Friend1: Okay. How should I view that?

image6Friend2: Think of it like favorable versus unfavorable. The jnani is in the position most favorable for continuing in devotional service. Are you familiar with the large class sizes for introductory biology in colleges?

Friend1: Yes. I think in my school the class was around five hundred people. It filled up a big lecture hall.

Friend2: Do you know why the class is so big? Are there that many people trying to become biologists?

Friend1: No, it’s because of the many people who are pre-med or at least thinking of becoming a doctor.

Friend2: And you know that the class is rather difficult, right?

Friend1: Absolutely.

Friend2: There is a reason. The school wants to weed out the pretenders. Better for the students who aren’t fit for a career in medicine to find out sooner rather than later. In the same way, you can think of the jnani as someone who has proceeded through different stages where there are more distractions for devotional service.

Friend1: They’re in a position where it’s easier to continue in devotion. Is that why they are best in devotional service?

Friend2: Exactly. Also, there is no motive in the jnani in bhakti. They are not really after anything from Krishna. They can practice pure devotional service. They’re not viewing Him as an order supplier. They’re not approaching Him only in times of distress. They know better.

Friend1: I see. Can you elaborate more on pure devotion versus impure?

Friend2: One way to understand is the birthday. Do you ever wish someone a happy birthday on Facebook?

Friend1: Yeah. All the time.

Friend2: Is it just for family and friends? Or do you also wish it for people you hardly know?

Friend1: Pretty much everyone in my friends list.

Friend2: Do you remember all of their birthdays?

Friend1: No way. On Facebook they put up a little reminder that today is so and so’s birthday.

Friend2: Right. And that is the catalyst for wishing them.

Friend1: Correct.

Gov_puja_kicsi35Friend2: Okay, so you can think of pure devotional service as the equivalent of remembering someone’s birthday on your own and genuinely wishing them well. It’s more than writing a few words and then going back to what you were doing before. Pure devotional service is uninterrupted and unmotivated. You’re associating with Krishna because you don’t want anything else. For Shrimati Radharani, it is impossible to have any other desire or occupation. The pure devotee is like a fish and devotional service their pond, their home. When taken out of the water, they can’t survive.

In Closing:

Of devotional service so fond,

Like the fish living in its pond.


Not chance to survive when taken out,

Never a thought of service to go without.


Jnani like birthday wish sending,

Genuine sentiment, not just pretending.


Having knowledge that Krishna the source,

Not asking anything, proceeding steady in course.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The Jnani In Devotion

005210“Of these, the wise one who is in full knowledge in union with Me through pure devotional service is the best. For I am very dear to him, and he is dear to Me.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.17)

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teṣāṁ jñānī nitya-yukta

eka-bhaktir viśiṣyate

priyo hi jñānino 'tyartham

ahaṁ sa ca mama priyaḥ

How do you find God? Does He live somewhere specific? The fabled Santa Claus has his home in the North Pole. Each year so many children write letters to him and send it to that address. Is there a place where a letter can be delivered for God to read?

Actually, the initial approach is not all that different. In the Bhagavad-gita, Shri Krishna says that four kinds of people render devotional service to Him. This is approaching Him directly. The worshipers of the demigods go to Him indirectly, as they seek a specific favor from an empowered representative. The atheists are approaching Him through the separated energy that is the material nature.

Devotional service, bhakti-yoga, is going to God directly. Still, the motives when making that approach are not always the same. The distressed approach Krishna. They are in trouble for one reason or another. It is not difficult to empathize with them, since in the land of birth and death there is trouble at every step. When you’re in trouble, why not go to someone who is known as Hari, the one who takes away?

One of Krishna’s opulences is aishvarya, which means “wealth.” If you’re looking for wealth, why not ask someone who always has it in full? Then there are the genuinely inquisitive. What does life mean? Why are we all here? Where did we come from? Where are we going? God is the most knowledgeable, so why not ask Him to answer these questions?

Then there are the people who know things as they are. The Sanskrit word is jnani. They know the difference between matter and spirit. They understand that there is a singular spiritual force pervading the entire creation. They know that without Brahman, or spirit, there would be no life. These people also approach Krishna, as they would like to know more.

Of these four groups, the latter is the most dear to the Lord. There are conditions, though. The jnani must be steadily engaged in devotion, bhakti, and they must be in full knowledge of Krishna. Nevertheless, what need is there for the special distinction? Are not the other three groups dear to the Supreme Lord? They are approaching Him, after all. It takes many lifetimes for a person to surrender to Krishna. Such a soul is rare. Why not hold all the rare souls equally as dear?

bahūnāṁ janmanām ante

jñānavān māṁ prapadyate

vāsudevaḥ sarvam iti

sa mahātmā su-durlabhaḥ

“After many births and deaths, he who is actually in knowledge surrenders unto Me, knowing Me to be the cause of all causes and all that is. Such a great soul is very rare.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.19)

The specific conditions revealed by Krishna is what makes the jnanis the most dear. These people know things as they are. They are not looking for benedictions in maya, which is illusion. They don’t want money and they understand that both happiness and distress arrive in due course, like the arrival and egress of the winter and summer seasons.

Since the jnani knows things as they are, when they take up devotional service in earnest, they are the most likely to stick to it. They follow it out of love for God, without any outside motives. This is known as pure devotional service. It is distinct from any other kind of approach made to the Divine. It stands tallest, as the service is done without motivation and without interruption.

The question may be raised that if the jnani is the most dear, doesn’t that mean bhakti-yoga has conditions? What about people who are not very intelligent? What about the child who has yet to develop the ability to understand higher truths? Will they never be the most dear to Krishna?

005221Actually, the practice of devotion is itself indicative of the highest knowledge. The pure devotee is already to be considered higher than a jnani. They know that Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, that no one is above Him, and that surrender to Him is the highest objective in life. What else do they need to know? Since they understand these things, they maintain their position in devotion. Ulterior motives are absent. In whatever way a person finds the lotus feet of Mukunda, the giver of liberation, by maintaining His association and the association of those who are already dear to Him, the highest platform will surely be reached.

In Closing:

Jnani with knowledge clear,

To Shri Krishna most dear.


But in unflinching devotion must be,

Asking nothing from Lord is he.


Typical for wanting something to gain,

So not easy for platform to attain.


Devotion itself that knowledge showing,

Towards lotus feet the intelligent going.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Five Reasons Krishna Kills The Demons

image6“In order to deliver the pious and to annihilate the miscreants, as well as to reestablish the principles of religion, I advent Myself millennium after millennium.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.8)

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paritrāṇāya sādhūnāṁ

vināśāya ca duṣkṛtām


sambhavāmi yuge yuge

Shri Krishna advents Himself millennium after millennium. We know this based on both the testimony of people who personally witnessed His appearance and activities and the word of Krishna Himself, which is found in the sacred Bhagavad-gita.

One of the activities He typically performs is ridding the world of one or many asuras. An asura is a person who is against God. If you took a good person, a sura, and flipped their tendencies from pious to impious, you would get the asura. The asuras are always trouble to the world, but when they rise to real prominence and start thwarting the efforts of the pious, the Supreme Lord descends.

In Vedic philosophy we learn that death is guaranteed. As soon as there is birth, death must come. Nothing can be done to reverse this; despite the best efforts made. Even the onset of old age can’t be prevented, then what to speak of death itself.

Bearing this in mind, why would the Supreme Personality of Godhead ever need to descend to the earthly realm? Why not leave the job up to the material nature, which works in concert with kala, or time?

1. To protect the pious

If you’re on the path of dharma, or righteousness, you expect some level of protection. After all, you’re doing good. In industrialized nations there is the perpetual problem of the homeless. What should be done with them? How to get them back on their feet? Missing from the discussion is the cause of the destitution. Often times the homeless person ended up that way through addiction to drugs and alcohol.

The pious person understands that bad behavior leads to problems. But if they are following dharma, which is timeless and without beginning, they shouldn’t have trouble. At least that is the expectation. The Supreme Lord gives confidence to the truth seekers by assuring them that even a little effort made along the righteous path gives protection 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)

019910That protection from the Divine comes in many ways. Sometimes the representative is sent, such as in the case of Shri Hanuman going to Lanka with life-rescuing news for Sita Devi. Sometimes the aforementioned time and material nature take care of the problem. In special cases, Krishna Himself arrives. He gives the best protection, as He is strength personified. Sometimes the pious are even harassed by other pious souls who temporarily fall from their position, such as in the case of Indra inundating the sacred land of Vraja with a flood.

2. To annihilate the miscreants

The asura does not believe in God. They may worship divine figures to get special abilities, but this is more a business transaction. It is not indicative of humility or genuine respect for higher authorities. Rather, the asura is looking to usurp all authority, to become the most powerful person in the world.

image1Thus it is most wonderful when the Supreme Lord knocks down such people. He takes the most powerful of the asuras and brings them back to reality. He annihilates them in such a way that they finally understand God. They have always known Him as death, and Krishna shows them the ultimate personification of that death.

3. In Vaikuntha there is no such thing as conflict

The spiritual realm is known as Vaikuntha. This Sanskrit word means “a place free of anxieties.” Everyone is a worshiper of the Supreme Lord in that land. They don’t fight with Him. They don’t look to overtake Him as the Supreme. They are interested only in His pleasure.

For conflict, Krishna must descend to the realm of birth and death. He does not become subject to that realm’s laws, but He lives among others who may be against Him. When they are really against Him, He fights with them. This conflict is a type of sport for Him, and it cannot be found in Vaikuntha due to the nature of that realm.

4. To stop sinful activities

When an asura perishes at the hands of the Supreme Lord, they immediately get liberation. This is their reward for acting as sparring partner to the greatest fighter the mind can imagine. Liberation is rescue from the cycle of birth and death. The asuras killed by God are actually associates of His in the spiritual world. They technically don’t even fall; they fulfill roles in a great drama produced by the most artistic mind of the Supreme Lord.

Liberation in such cases is also release from further sinful behavior. A sin is doing something the wrong way; something that carries a negative consequence. The asuras do horrible things like kill priests and babies. Anyone who is a threat to their way of life is considered an enemy. From this sinful behavior, the asuras reserve for themselves unthinkable punishment in the afterlife.

By coming to earth and stopping such behavior, Krishna gives release from that punishment. From this behavior He shows that no situation is permanent. A person can be good and still fall down. A bad person can eventually redeem themselves. Every saint has a past and every sinner has a future.

5. To liberate them

As already mentioned, the demons who die at the hands of Krishna get liberation. This is a special mercy bestowed upon them. It proves that one who thinks of God at the time of death attains His nature. They become free from birth and death, just like Him. The demons think of Him with an inimical attitude, so their next destination is not exactly one where they get to practice devotion in a positive way.

The bhaktas, those who are on the path of the highest dharma known as bhagavata, are already liberated, even before death. The truly advanced souls are known as jivan-mukta; liberated while still living. As they think of Krishna all the time, they are assured of also thinking of Him at the time of quitting the body.

In Closing:

In Vaikuntha bliss of happiness to be,

So in that realm no fighting to see.


For sport to material world to descend,

Cutting down asuras’ playing God pretend.


Wrath of devastation to them sending,

Krishna their sinful ways ending.


Though inimical, liberation to them giving,

Superior are devotees who the same while living.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Talking About Advancing Beyond The Basics

dahi_krishna4“The highest perfection of life is attained by remembering the transcendental nature of the Lord at the last moment of one's life. This perfection of life is made possible by one who has learned the actual transcendental nature of the Lord from the Vedic hymns sung by a liberated soul like Shukadeva Gosvami or someone in that line of disciplic succession.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 1.18.4 Purport)

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Friend1: To realize God, does a person have to be highly knowledgeable?

Friend2: God is so complex. No person can truly know Him. Still, He is so kind that if you are non-envious of Him and have attachment to Him, He will show the way to Him. He will let you understand Him, free of doubts. The Bhagavad-gita confirms this.

śrī-bhagavān uvāca

mayy āsakta-manāḥ pārtha

yogaṁ yuñjan mad-āśrayaḥ

asaṁśayaṁ samagraṁ māṁ

yathā jñāsyasi tac chṛṇu

“Now hear, O son of Pritha [Arjuna], how by practicing yoga in full consciousness of Me, with mind attached to Me, you can know Me in full, free from doubt.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.1)

Friend1: I see.

Friend2: Someone been badgering you about this? Saying that you’re not advancing enough in your devotional service?

Friend1: I hear that sometimes. I hear certain people belittled for only knowing the basics, like the difference between matter and spirit and that Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

Friend2: Those are the basics, but look at how valuable that knowledge is. How many people in the world understand that they are not their body? How many realize that the aim of the human form of life, actually of an existence period, is to feel the bliss of surrender to the Divine, who is a distinct individual with transcendental features, meant to be contemplated, remembered, glorified, honored and discussed with like-minded individuals?

Friend1: Wow. You’ve said a handful right there. The argument I hear is that if you stay on the lower level, you won’t come to perfection in this lifetime. You’ll have to take birth again.

Friend2: What is the solution, then? You have to know the advanced details about bhakti-yoga, the different kinds like vaidhi and raganuga? Only if you can remember and discuss the Supreme Lord’s intimate pastimes in the sacred land of Vraja can you get liberation in this very lifetime?

Friend1: Right, that’s basically what I hear from certain people. I’m assuming you don’t agree.

Friend2: I’m not an advanced scholar or anything. All I know is what Krishna says in the Bhagavad-gita. He says to think of Him at the time of death. Then that person will attain Him. I know the pastimes of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. I don’t recall Him once telling a person who was considered simple on the outside that their devotion wasn’t advanced enough. Indeed, there was the famous incident with the illiterate person reading the Bhagavad-gita.

Friend1: What happened there?

Friend2: Mahaprabhu found out that the person kept holding the book in his hands because it allowed him to recall Krishna and Arjuna and how Krishna was so kind to have taken the position of Arjuna’s chariot driver. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu blessed the person that their understanding of Bhagavad-gita was perfect.

Friend1: Wow.

3712Friend2: It wasn’t simply flattery to make the person feel better, either. The Supreme Lord is not like that. He looks for sincerity. He looks for genuineness. The topmost devotees, the gopis of Vrindavana, are simple village girls. They don’t speak on the high philosophy of Vedanta or advanced topics. They don’t even know what bhakti is. That is how advanced they are. Devotion to Krishna is their very existence.

Friend1: Okay, but I could see a counterargument here. If the advanced knowledge isn’t required, why is it there to begin with? Why did Lord Chaitanya instruct Rupa Gosvami and Sanatana Gosvami to write so much detail about bhakti? Why have other acharyas following them, such as Jiva Gosvami, written so much?

Friend2: First of all, the writing process is itself bhakti. It is a way to swim in the ocean of nectar that is the taste of devotion, bhakti-rasa. Secondly, there is no harm in knowing more. The Vedas themselves are unimaginably comprehensive. You couldn’t read every authorized Vedic work in a single lifetime. And that’s just reading, what to speak of comprehending.

Friend1: Okay, so you’re making the other side’s argument, aren’t you? The Vedas themselves are so vast. Why are they that way if you can achieve perfection from the basic level?

Friend2: Like I said before, it’s about remembering. Consciousness is the key. This world is difficult to overcome; hence the superintendent is known as Durga. There is danger at every step, and so we need protection wherever we go. The advanced information is a way to further protect us, especially if we continue to have doubts.

Friend1: I see.

Friend2: Also, the more advanced knowledge you have, the more equipped you will be to convince others of the supremacy of the path of devotion. You will be able to cut apart their faulty logic rooted in desires for material gain, renunciation or mystic perfection. You will be able to speak with conviction, as Prahlada Maharaja did, that vishno-smaranam, constant remembrance of the Supreme Person, is the only path to real happiness.

Friend1: So there is no harm in advancing further?

dahi_krishna9Friend2: No harm? It is recommended. The more knowledgeable people there are out there, the better. But just because someone is not familiar with the advanced topics doesn’t mean that they can’t achieve perfection in this lifetime. Otherwise, devotional service would become dependent on intelligence. It is not dependent on anything, actually. A person who doesn’t know how to read can attain perfection; so can a child. This is because devotion is directly linked to the Supreme Lord, who is an ocean of kindness and compassion.

In Closing:

Brahmana not knowing how to read,

Yet had perfect understanding indeed.


Since Lord and devotee in mind to see,

How kind Krishna as charioteer could be?


Though of advanced knowledge no need,

No harm when in that path to proceed.


To help others find the same way,

And in devotional consciousness to stay.