Saturday, July 2, 2016

Five Ways That Mahadeva Conquers Lust

[Lord Shiva]“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.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 3.37)

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śrī-bhagavān uvāca

kāma eṣa krodha eṣa


mahāśano mahā-pāpmā

viddhy enam iha vairiṇam


It’s a problem that afflicts man and woman alike. It is there in children, and even in adults. It knows no prejudice. It doesn’t harm one person but spare another. It is like a disease, but actually every person invites it. The invitation came a long time ago, a point in time that we can’t remember, as the subtle body was different compared to the present state of development.

That disease is kama, which translates to “lust” in English. In the Bhagavad-gita Shri Krishna declares kama to be the all-devouring enemy of this world. Every negative encounter, every experience that we’d rather soon forget, is due to kama. It is due to this lust that birth in the material world takes place, and it is the reason rebirth continues.

Is there a way out? Is there a vaccine to prevent the dangers of kama from taking hold? The solution is as simple as a change in desire. Kama can also be translated to mean “a desire to enjoy separately from the Supreme Lord.” In its purified form kama is bhakti, which is love and devotion. Simply change desire and lust will soon be conquered. There is also Mahadeva to help. He is the great god, and he is known for conquering lust in many ways.

1. He lives very renounced

Mahadeva is also known as Rudra. He can get very angry. You don’t want to see him angry. What is he capable of when put into a fit of rage? He can destroy the entire world. For this reason he is also known as the destroyer. There is creation, effected by the deva known as Brahma. Vishnu handles the subsequent maintenance. Destruction will come eventually, as that is the effect of time. For any of us who are worried about what will happen to our possessions going forward, we should know that they are already gone. It is simply a matter of waiting for the appropriate time to arrive.

[Lord Shiva]Mahadeva has hardly any possessions. He has no desire to exploit the material creation. He is not even attached to his duty of destroying. He lives simply, with barely any clothes. He resides in a remote mountain, always chanting the holy names of Rama. This name references the Divinity in the worshipable form of choice for Mahadeva.

2. He performs his duty with detachment

Mahadeva is known for eka-patni-vrata, which means “the vow to accept only one wife.” First he marries a girl named Sati, who is the daughter of Daksha. Daksha is one of the prajapatis, or progenitors of the human race. The name Sati also means “chaste,” which indicates that Mahadeva’s wife is ideal in every way.

One time things go wrong to the point that Sati decides to voluntarily quit her body. Mahadeva has no desire to marry again, but at the insistence of his Lord he agrees. It is actually the same wife, reincarnated as the daughter of the mountain king. Mahadeva could refuse out of fear of falling into kama, but as a matter of duty he goes through with the marriage. Thus despite taking part in two marriage ceremonies as the groom Mahadeva is more renounced than most people who never marry.

3. He literally burns Kamadeva to death

After Sati’s death, the demigods needed a way to get Mahadeva’s attention. Another of his names is Shiva, which means “auspicious.” Mahadeva was engaged in the auspicious activity of meditating on the lotus feet of the Supreme Lord Rama. The demigods asked kama personified to shoot one of his arrows of love into Mahadeva. Kamadeva is akin to Cupid.

After being struck with the arrow, Shiva turned around and instantly burned Cupid to death. This happened with a single glance. In this way Mahadeva is known to have literally conquered lust. After his meditation was broken, the demigods got the chance to put their request to him. They needed a fighter who could defeat a powerful enemy. It was told that only the offspring of Shiva could accomplish this. Through the union of Shiva and Parvati, that offspring would arrive and accomplish the work of the demigods.

4. He speaks on the glories of Rama

Mahadeva lives renounced, always meditating. Since he lives with his wife Parvati, they speak to each other as well. Mahadeva is the guru and Parvati the ideal disciple. Mahadeva speaks only about the Supreme Lord. He is known for his delivery of Hari-katha, focusing especially on Shri Rama. Indeed, this path is more effective at controlling lust than direct renunciation. Hearing about God’s glories arouses feelings of bhakti, which rest within everyone in a seed form. The spiritual master, or guru, brings that seed to life and gives instructions on how to nurture it to maturity. The full blown creeper of devotion gives shade from the scorching rays of kama, which can consume the individual like a fire going through wood.

5. He gets the favor of the Lord

Narada Muni is another person who is always devoted to the Supreme Lord. He travels the three worlds delivering Hari-katha and chanting the name of Narayana, which references God’s feature as the source of all men. One time Narada visited Mahadeva and started to mildly boast about having conquered kama. Mahadeva sensed that Narada’s pride might harm him in the future.

Sure enough, Hari Himself set up a trap to teach Narada a lesson. Similar things have happened with Shiva, but we should know that this is the work of yogamaya. This is the illusory energy which helps the devotees. It is the opposite of mahamaya, under whom kama operates.

Indeed, the only way to fully conquer lust is to have the favor of the origin of all energies. Mahadeva has this favor, and so he is never under the sway of kama. He is the best of the Vaishnavas, or devotees of Vishnu. Through his example and blessings, the same favor can come to the fallen souls, who have been suffering from the effects of kama for very long.

In Closing:

With proper focus holy names to chant,

Then kama sway the individual it can’t.


Mahadeva in many ways victory earned,

Living renounced, by him Kamadeva burned.


On the glories of Shri Rama always speaking,

Despite marriage, attention on bhakti keeping.


Favor of Lord Himself reason most of all,

Same when on us Shiva’s blessings to fall.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Brilliantly Conceived And Flawlessly Executed

[Krishna taking Rukmini]“After explaining Rukminidevi's statement to Krishna, the brahmana said: ‘My dear Krishna, chief of the Yadu dynasty, I have brought this confidential message for You from Rukmini; now it is placed before You for Your consideration. After due deliberation You can act as You please, but if You want to do something, You must do it immediately. There is not much time left for action.’” (Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 1, Ch 51)

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“Man proposes, God disposes.” This is a well-known saying. Man doesn’t always get what he wants. This is one way to know that He is not God. Though he is spirit soul at the core and part of the sum collection of spirit known as Brahman, full control is nevertheless out of his reach. He must rely on the highest authority to cooperate, even for the most benign of plans. Things are a little different for the devotees, though. This was never more evident than in the desire of a princess from the kingdom of Vidarbha a long time ago.

Why wouldn’t God always come through? The answer lies in the nature of the material world. Take the example of filling a job vacancy at a company. There is the employer’s side of things. They need someone capable to fill the position. There is work to be done, and the employer is willing to pay a certain amount to get that work done.

On the other side are the applicants. If the job is attractive, it will catch the eyes of more than one candidate. Now what if each candidate prayed to the Divine for help? Their plan is to take the position and earn a salary. That is the stated objective. How is God supposed to come through on the plan for each person? Considering that every candidate is well-grounded in virtue, all-around good, and a firm believer in God, how is the conflict to be resolved?

From the spiritual science that is the Vedas we understand that the Divine doesn’t usually play a direct role in such matters. He is indeed known as the overseer and the permitter. This means that He watches without bias every action of every living entity. He accomplishes this through His expansion known as the Supersoul, which resides in the heart of every living thing. He permits the results to action to manifest, but this shouldn’t be mistaken to mean He agrees with every plan put forth.

upadraṣṭānumantā ca

bhartā bhoktā maheśvaraḥ

paramātmeti cāpy ukto

dehe 'smin puruṣaḥ paraḥ


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

He is by default neutral, and He allows the rules of the material nature to take care of the results to action. The work is known as karma since it has fruits that manifest at some point in the future. As we see with the job example, resources in the material world are limited. Not everyone can have their desire fulfilled. Karma is the determining factor. Sometimes help can come from higher authorities, who are elevated beings but not equal to God. They operate on a first come, first serve basis.

The princess from Vidarbha proposed a plan directly to God. She was the daughter of King Bhishmaka, and following the custom of the time the family arranged her marriage. It was set to happen with a king named Shishupala. The problem was that the princess had given her heart to someone else. Named Rukmini, she had never even seen the object of her affection. Simply from hearing about Him she knew that she could marry no other.

She could have looked to the heavens for help. She could have uttered a prayer while visiting a house of worship. Instead, she came up with a plan for how her desire could be met. She wrote a letter with her brilliantly conceived idea and had it delivered directly to the man she wanted to marry. He lived in the kingdom of Dvaraka and His name was Krishna.

Krishna is the overseer and permitter previously mentioned, except He is not just an impartial witness. He is God in the flesh, in a form that the eyes can notice. He is Absolute in nature, which means that the words that describe Him are identical to His personal form. This is how Rukmini was able to have such a firm resolve despite having never met Krishna.

[Krishna taking Rukmini]Rukmini proposed the plan that Krishna should come and kidnap her on the day of the wedding to Shishupala. The ideal time would be either on the way to or on the way back from the temple of Goddess Durga. The devi is one of the aforementioned higher authorities who can grant material desires. Rukmini’s family worshiped Durga Devi in tradition, and so on the day of the wedding that would be an important part of the sequence of rituals.

[Krishna taking Rukmini]Krishna agreed to the request. Rukmini made the proposal, and Krishna would flawlessly execute it. He will do anything for His devotees. Rukmini Devi is actually the goddess of fortune herself, the eternal consort of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Krishna owns the entire universe, which means that He can give away anything included within it. Rukmini wanted association. She desired it through the relationship of marriage. As Krishna is supreme, He can grant this desire without shutting anyone else out. He can accept millions of wives if desired, which indicates that for the devotees there is no plan in devotion that He has to reject.

In Closing:

Divine will in bhakti to expect,

No desire automatically to reject.


Since something common at the core,

Basic association, wanting to serve more.


Material nature with finite resources set,

Meaning not everything each person to get.


Rukmini brilliant plan for marriage conceiving,

Executed by Krishna, God Himself receiving.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Five Things To Know About The Marriage Of Shiva And Parvati

[Marriage of Shiva and Parvati]“The higher planetary systems begin with the sun planet, which is situated in the middle of the universe. Beyond the sun there are other planetary systems where persons who are elevated by great austerities and penances are situated. The entire material universe is called Devidhama, and above it there is Shivadhama, where Lord Shiva and his wife Parvati eternally reside.” (Teachings Of Lord Chaitanya, Ch 14)

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The material world is in good hands. Obviously, many people would beg to differ. They could take the current day’s newspaper as proof. The perception gleaned from the many stories brings to mind the famous saying, “Rome is burning.”

After all, children are being killed in the womb. Though the mother is the first protector of the newborn, a nurturer by nature, to redress the mistake of sense gratification gone wrong, there is abortion. Though there are plenty of grains, milk, fruits, vegetables, and water available for consumption, man is addicted to intoxicants and insistent on killing innocent animals for food. Politicians lie, cheat and steal to get ahead. The more dishonest they are, the more popular they become.

Nevertheless, everything is going according to plan. The laws of karma are flawless; that is they work without fail. The material nature operates under the combination of mother and father, known as Parvati and Shiva. These are two famous divine figures of the Vedic tradition. The details of their marriage speak to the impeccable character found in each.

1. Shiva was married before, but actually to the same person

Eka-patni-vrata. This is Mahadeva’s vow. He is the great god, almost equivalent to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He is not a conditioned living entity temporarily filling the role of demigod. Lord Shiva perpetually worships the lotus feet of Shri Rama, which is a special form of the Supreme Lord.

Mahadeva is known for his dispassion. He takes only one wife, as he is not lusty. After seeing her husband insulted by her father Daksha, Sati voluntarily enters into fire to end her life. Lord Shiva maintains his vow to keep only one wife, but Sati is born again to the mountain king named Himavan.

Shiva is destined to marry the king’s daughter, who is known as Parvati. She is also known by other names, such as Durga and Bhagavati. She is Gauri due to her beautiful, fair complexion. Though Shiva marries again, his vow is not violated.

2. Parvati undergoes tremendous austerities prior to the marriage

The traveler of the three worlds, Narada Muni, visits the house of Himavan and informs the king that Parvati is destined to marry Shiva. Hearing these words and taking them to heart, Parvati goes to the forest to undergo rigid austerities for many years. This is for the purpose of purification. Though she was already qualified to marry the husband she had from a previous life, she took the words of her spiritual master very seriously.

3. She turns down the offer to marry Vishnu

Mahadeva was hesitant to marry again, but he agreed to after Shri Rama made the request. Lord Shiva is the perfect devotee in that way; he sacrifices his own desires for the will of the Divine. When he heard about Parvati’s austerities, Mahadeva sent the seven rishis to test her.

First, they attempted to put down Shiva, calling him a homeless person who has no desires. They also brought up how every person that Narada advises ends up leaving home; implying that his advice shouldn’t be taken seriously. They then even offered to have Parvati marry Vishnu. Vishnu is non-different from Shri Rama. He is one of the three guna-avataras who manage the creation.

Parvati politely declined the offer. If they had said something earlier, then maybe she would follow that route. But Narada’s instructions were already given. Having an impeccable character, Parvati was not about to go back on her vow. She would either marry Mahadeva or forever remain unmarried.

4. Parvati’s mother and friends pity her

In his role as guna-avatara, Mahadeva is in charge of the mode of ignorance. Put more simply, the worst kind of people worship him, those who don’t know what is right and wrong, and who have no idea how to properly advance in life even materially. Mahadeva is an ideal match for people in ignorance. He looks quite strange, as he has no clothes, has snakes all over him, and has ashes smeared on his body. Indeed, the full picture is so out there that it would easily win first prize in a Halloween costume contest.

Lord Shiva’s entourage arriving for the wedding looked even more strange. The picture was so frightening that many children of attendees of the wedding ran back to their parents. The parents then explained what was going on. Parvati’s mother was in tears upon seeing Mahadeva. She lamented that the creator had basically cursed the family by giving such an ugly husband to her beautiful daughter.

[Marriage of Shiva and Parvati]The ever-wise Parvati then explained everything to her mother. Every person’s happiness and sadness is already predetermined. There is no reason to lament something that apparently looks bad. Moreover, Shiva is all-auspicious, in spite of the external appearance.

5. Shiva is the ideal husband

In their married life, the husband is the guru and the wife the reverential, respectful, and attentive disciple. What does Lord Shiva teach? What are his instructions? He simply narrates the glories of the Supreme Lord. Lord Shiva is a highly qualified speaker of Rama-katha. He takes great delight in the fact that Rama’s glories are endless. This allows him to keep speaking, and he has the perfect audience in his wife.

The entire universe is under the control of the origin, after all. That origin knows what He is doing; therefore He has put the best people in charge of managing different areas. Shiva and Parvati are the ideal married couple, as they are devoted to Shri Rama in thought, word and deed. Through their blessings, a person can make rapid advancement in bhakti-yoga.

In Closing:

Parvati of universe the mother,

Determined for Shiva, no other.


For austerities to the forest she went,

Listened not to dissuading messengers sent.


When of groom and attendants having a look,

Pity for the bride the family took.


Still glories of her husband knowing,

Couple the ideal married life showing.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Five Reasons God Is Known As Hari

[Vishnu]“Shrila Vishvanatha Chakravarti Thakura explains in this regard that the very word harih means ‘one who takes away.’ If one connects himself with Hari, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the Lord takes away all his miseries, and in the beginning the Lord also superficially appears to take away all his material possessions, reputation, education and beauty.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 8.19.32 Purport)

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The Supreme Lord is unlimited. How, then, can He be described in a single word? One name will never fully suffice, as each name has its limits. The name Krishna is one of the more common forms of address, as it means “all-attractive.” It is often preceded by the word Bhagavan, which means a special personality who possesses full opulence in every important area simultaneously.

Another name is Hari. In the Vedic tradition, there are several terms that use this name, such as Hari-katha, Hari-vamsha, Hari-om, and kirtaniyah sada harih. As the word has several meanings, there is more than one reason why it is used for addressing the Almighty.

1. It is another name for Vishnu, the all-pervading one

As God is unlimited, He does not have only one form. Not that every divine being is God Himself, but for the one God, the personal aspect to the Divine, there are different personalities to whom worship can be offered. Hari generally refers to the form of Vishnu. Depending on the tradition followed, Vishnu is either taken to be the original or a non-different manifestation of the original. There is really no difference, as the identity is the same.

“Those who differentiate between the forms, qualities, pastimes, and characteristics of the incarnations of the Lord, such as Matsya and Kurma, will certainly be forced to enter the darkest regions of hell. Therefore, those who desire their own welfare always see Lord Vishnu’s names, forms, qualities, and pastimes as non-different from one another.”  (Madhvacharya, Gita-tatparya, 2.25)

[Vishnu]Vishnu is all-pervading, which means that God is everywhere. Vishnu Himself expands into other forms to generate and manage the creation. He is the original purusha to go with the prakriti. He is the original spiritual being, who then has full control over the dull and lifeless matter.

2. He took the form of a lion

The word Hari can mean “lion.” This meaning applies literally to Bhagavan through the avatara known as Narasimha. An infamous Daitya demon known as Hiranyakashipu had asked for boons that would give him ninety-nine percent immortality. Of course, this was only within the demon’s mind, as the wise person understands that even one percent mortality means that death is guaranteed to occur at some point.

[Narasimhadeva]The avatara of Narasimha exploited that one percent. He arrived at the appropriate time, just as the king was about to attack his own son, named Prahlada. Narasimha is a combination of man and lion. It was neither a beast nor a human being. The nails were the instrument of death, and so they were not a conventional weapon. Hiranyakashipu was killed on the lap of the Lord, which was neither on land nor in the air.

3. He is like a lion

An incarnation of the eternal consort of the Lord once described her husband to be Narasimha. This was not in reference to the avatara who protected Prahlada. Rather this was simply a way to convey the lion-like nature of her husband, Shri Rama.

“I am faithfully engaged in the service of Rama, who is a lion among men [nrisimham], has a broad chest and powerful arms, who treads the earth like a lion and who is like a lion in prowess.” (Sita Devi speaking to Ravana, Valmiki Ramayana, Aranya Kand, 47.35)

[Shri Rama]The recipient of these words from Sita was Ravana. He thought he was the king of the jungle of the material world, but as Sita correctly pointed out, he was more like a dog. He would run scared simply at the sight of Rama.

4. He takes away obstacles from a devotee’s path

Narasimhadeva didn’t just randomly create His form from the pillar after Hiranyakashipu struck it. The name Hari also means “one who takes away.” For the devoted souls there are many obstacles blocking success. There are already the three sources of misery with which to contend. Within the misery known as adhibhautika, the asuras especially cause trouble. They are against God. It is one thing to be atheist as a personal preference, but they go so far as to make sure no one else worships God properly.

Narasimhadeva descended from the spiritual world to give personal protection to Prahlada. He removed the greatest obstacle from the boy’s path. From there Prahlada could continue in his bhakti-yoga without issue.

5. He takes objects of illusion away from a devotee’s path

As Hari, God doesn’t remove only the obstacles that are obviously bad. He might even make the devotee poor, if that will be good for them in the long run. There is the famous incident with Narada Muni. Though he is a pure devotee, through the influence of yogamaya Narada once had a material desire. He wanted to marry this beautiful princess, who was set to choose her husband from an assembly of princes. Narada prayed to Hari to have his wish granted.

Another meaning to the word hari is “monkey.” As Vishnu is Hari, the Supreme Lord appeared to grant the wish by promising to give Narada a face just like hari. But the meaning was “monkey.” Naturally, after seeing Narada’s new face, the princess selected someone else. Narada was so angry that he cursed God to appear on earth and have to take the help of monkeys to regain the association of His wife. The Supreme Lord is never under the jurisdiction of a curse, but due to affection for Narada He agreed to the conditions.

The desire for marriage was illusion for Narada, and so in His role as Hari, Vishnu took that desire away. Worship of Hari is purifying, making it unique to all kinds of worship. It isn’t simply a business transaction. There is purification of consciousness along the way, with the removal of obstacles. The path is made clear for the eternal engagement that is bhakti-yoga.

In Closing:

“For face like yours to give,

For that offense I won’t forgive.


This curse I place upon you,

That without beloved will be you.


Just as my face you did make,

Help from monkeys you’ll have to take,”


This curse from Narada Shri Hari accepted,

Path for devotee by Him always protected.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Five Things That Rukmini Devi Teaches Us

[Rukmini-Dvarakadisha]“Even though there were many thousands of maidservants who were equally beautiful and qualified, and who were of the same age, Rukminidevi personally was engaged in fanning Lord Krishna. Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, worshiped even by Narada, but still, as soon as He saw Narada enter the palace, Krishna got down immediately from Rukmini's bedstead and stood up to honor him.” (Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 2, Ch 14)

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The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Bhagavan, has unlimited opulence. A popular magazine publishes an annual list of the richest people in the world. The rankings are based on net worth, which includes both salary and properties held. The list grabs the attention of the public since there is a competitive spirit in material life. It is also interesting to see just how much people have; i.e. what constitutes their amazing wealth.

For Bhagavan, the wealth is unimaginable. One of the reasons is that His eternal consort is the goddess of fortune. One of her names is Lakshmi Devi, and since Lakshmi is always by His side, Narayana is never poor. In whichever area He goes, He is always the richest man.

Some five thousand years ago Narayana descended to earth in the spiritual form of Krishna, whose name means “all-attractive.” Just as Bhagavan has avataras, or non-different forms who descend to earth, the same applies for Lakshmi Devi. One of her avataras is Rukmini Devi, a person from whom the seekers of peace, prosperity, and spiritual advancement can learn.

1. It is not necessary to see God to have attachment to Him

Rukmini was the daughter of King Bhishmaka. When she reached an age suitable for marriage, there was a roster of potential matches, consisting of other kings from around the world. Shri Krishna was the king of Dvaraka, which was a unique city. It was underwater and guarded by gates on all sides. There is an interesting story behind its creation. That story is told in the Shrimad Bhagavatam and several Puranas.

Rukmini had never met Shri Krishna. She had never seen Him. Yet she gave her heart to Him. She decided that she would only marry the king of Dvaraka. The problem was that her marriage was already set to take place to Shishupala, who was actually a rival to Krishna. Shishupala had seen Krishna, and he was anything but devoted.

Rukmini made her decision through hearing. From her example, we see that hearing is actually more important than seeing when it comes to spiritual matters. A person can see the Supreme Lord and still not properly recognize Him. Through hearing, the consciousness gradually becomes purified. Full attachment can come through hearing alone. Rukmini’s will was so strong that she was not going to be denied.

2. There is no harm in dreaming big in bhakti

Since Bhagavan has full aishvarya, or wealth, He can give anything to His devotees. In one of the popular religions around the world a common practice is to ask God for the daily bread. The idea is that eating is important and ultimately the origin of everything is responsible for making food available. The practice is indicative of intelligence, a step up from thinking that everything came into being through random collisions of chemicals.

At the same time, God can deliver much more than bread. Indeed, the animals find food without offering similar prayers. The child also has no concept of a higher power. The material nature accommodates the temporary living situation of the spirit soul inside of a material body.

[Rukmini-Dvarakadisha]The more a person knows God, the more they see available for them. Rukmini asked for marriage, to spend all her time with Krishna personally. She was not afraid to ask for this boon. Whether the request is granted or not is up to God and His discretion. But there is no harm in thinking big, especially if your motives are pure. Rukmini had undying affection for Krishna, and since the Lord rescues the surrendered souls, He was not about to let her marry Shishupala.

3. Krishna loves the brahmanas

Rukmini devised a plan for marriage. As she very well couldn’t broadcast this to everyone, she sent a letter to Krishna. A brahmana in her kingdom was the messenger. Krishna received that brahmana very nicely. Since he delivered the message, it had every likelihood of reaching its intended destination.

[Rukmini and Krishna with Sudama]After they were married, there was another notable incident with a brahmana. Sudama Vipra came to meet Krishna in Dvaraka. He was an old friend, dating back to when the two were in school together, under the guidance of the guru named Sandipani. As a member of the priestly class, Sudama was very poor. He came with a meager offering of chipped rice, as he could not afford anything more. Krishna was so pleased with this offering that through Rukmini’s blessings the brahmana’s shack of a home was transformed into a palace.

4. There is no harm in respecting Durga Devi

It was the custom in Rukmini’s family to worship Durga Devi on the day of a wedding. This was to seek the devi’s blessings, to ensure that wedded life would go on happily and in the proper way. Rukmini’s heart was already given to Krishna, so she easily could have skipped this ritual. She could have lectured her family that such worship was not necessary, since Krishna is worshiped by both Durga Devi and her husband Shiva, who is also known as Mahadeva.

Instead, Rukmini subtly involved Durga Devi in the wonderful pastime of her marriage to Krishna. She suggested to the king of Dvaraka that He come and kidnap her on the day of the proposed wedding to Shishupala. The perfect time to come would be either when she was going to the Durga temple or coming back from it. In this way Rukmini did not violate family tradition or her own vow to be fully devoted to Krishna only.

5. Krishna has amazing timing

It is described that Krishna took Rukmini away like Garuda snatches a snake. The snakes are the enemies of Garuda, who is a special kind of bird. He is the carrier of Lord Vishnu. In this way he is a servant engaged in devotional service, or bhakti-yoga. Krishna was like an eagle in quickly taking away Rukmini, to everyone’s surprise.

There was no written guarantee given beforehand. Rukmini had only hope to go on. She had not even seen Krishna up until then. The Supreme Lord came at just the right time. He fought off the people who objected. He safely brought Rukmini back to Dvaraka and married her.

In the same way, He swiftly rescues the souls suffering in the material world who want out. When they want only escape from the cycle of birth and death, He shows Himself as the impersonal light known as Brahman. When they want His association only, He comes either personally or through His representative known as the spiritual master. The guru is even superior to a brahmana, as he carries with Him a message from the spiritual world, with explicit instructions on how to make the most out of this valuable human life.

In Closing:

Many lessons from Rukmini to learn,

Like how Shri Krishna’s favor to earn.


Vision of the Divine not required,

From hearing alone bhakti inspired.


Lord having affection for brahmanas respectable,

Rescuing souls with timing impeccable.


With respect towards demigods can behave,

Krishna or His representative coming to save.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Five Ways To Know That God Is Nice

[Shri Krishna]“I envy no one, nor am I partial to anyone. I am equal to all. But whoever renders service unto Me in devotion is a friend, is in Me, and I am also a friend to him.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.29)

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samo 'haṁ sarva-bhūteṣu

na me dveṣyo 'sti na priyaḥ

ye bhajanti tu māṁ bhaktyā

mayi te teṣu cāpy aham


What is the disposition of the Supreme Personality of Godhead? The Sanskrit word Bhagavan implies that there is a disposition. There are feelings in the Divine, though the nature of those feelings is unlike anything we are accustomed to. Bhagavan does not suffer from duality. He is never in illusion, and He is not limited by the material elements.

What is duality? Think of the rainfall. On a cold winter day, the rain only makes matters worse. At least with the sun out, there is some extra warmth, especially inside of a car. When it rains, the sunlight gets blocked by the clouds. It makes the cold feel even worse.

Take the same rainfall and change the situation to a warm summer day. Now the rain has a different effect. It is soothing. It brings temporary relief from the scorching heat. The brave souls who rush to the front at a general admission concert in the summer get doused by water from a hose periodically. This can only happen if the water feels good.

The rainfall is the same in both instances; just the effect is different. This is duality. In the Supreme Lord it is absent. Even His anger is beneficial and bliss-inducing. The key is to have the proper qualification. The signal from an over-the-air television station goes out to every home, but unless there is an antenna there is no way to get reception. The station is not at fault.

In a similar manner, Bhagavan is kindness personified. What we see to be calamities are really temporary results pertaining to the perishable body only. To remove doubts on the issue, there are several ways to know for sure that God is nice.

1. He gives me freedom

“I think therefore I am,” is a line from a famous philosopher. It is an attempt to define an existence, to bring life down to its essence. This is mental speculation, but it comes close to the reality. Life is defined by spirit, and what distinguishes spirit from matter is consciousness. “I am conscious, therefore I am.”

That consciousness can be large or small, great in scope or limited to a particular area, and even highly developed or barely visible. Compared to when in the human body, consciousness is not so much developed in the form of a tree. Nevertheless, both the tree and the human being are living things. The presence of the soul is the determining factor.

The Supreme Lord gives me the freedom to use my consciousness however I wish. I can even choose against Him; enjoyment through personal effort, forgetting Him entirely. If I didn’t have this choice, then I really wouldn’t be alive. I would be like a robot. So would you and everyone else. The independence granted by the Almighty is one indication of His kindness.

2. He makes the necessary things in life relatively inexpensive and high in quantity

This comes from Goswami Tulsidas, a Hindi poet from the medieval period in India. He is a devotee of Bhagavan in the form of Shri Rama, the prince of Ayodhya. Tulsidas came upon this realization through practice of bhakti-yoga, which is love and devotion to God the person. Bhakti-yoga ties directly to the soul’s dharma, or essential characteristic.

[Shri Rama]Tulsidas knows that Rama is indeed God because those things in life that we really need are relatively inexpensive. Based on the situation in industrialized nations today, it seems that the opposite is true. In the general situation, water and grains are relatively inexpensive. Water is everywhere as well. Though certain places suffer from drought from time to time, there is still plenty of water to be found in the world, especially in comparison to beverages like beer, wine and soda. Grains are easier to produce and come in greater quantity than meat.

The Shrimad Bhagavatam goes one step further. It says if a person becomes really destitute, they can find food, clothing and shelter without spending a penny. Take some torn rags that someone else threw away. Find a cave in a mountain somewhere. And eat the fruits that fall off trees. Mother nature is an extension of God’s mercy. The wise pick up on this and realize that the Supreme Lord is extremely kind to His people.

3. He travels with me as the Supersoul

Based on the independence given, if I make a bad choice, I have to suffer the consequences. That is the law of karma. If I tell my son not to play football, and they refuse to listen to me the reactions are in their hands. If they get a concussion afterwards, I am really not to blame. That is the meaning to freedom. For independence to exist, there has to be the option to choose unwisely.

tān ahaṁ dviṣataḥ krūrān

saṁsāreṣu narādhamān

kṣipāmy ajasram aśubhān

āsurīṣv eva yoniṣu


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

The worst people get thrown into the lowest species. Shri Krishna confirms this in the Bhagavad-gita. Nevertheless, He still travels with those souls. He is within everyone in fact. There is the individual soul within the heart, and adjacent to it is the Supersoul, which is God’s expansion. The Supersoul is always ready to welcome the individual back into the eternal occupation of bhakti-yoga. The Supersoul is the all-pervading witness, which has seen everything and remembered the long span of time in which He has been forgotten.

4. He leaves the door open to return

Even though I’ve forgotten Him for so long, Bhagavan will welcome me back whenever I am ready. Since He has seen everything, this automatically makes Him the most forgiving person. Forgiveness is kindness. It’s easy to forgive an offense that you don’t even remember. If someone wronged me twenty years ago and apologizes to me today, I may not even remember what they did. What to speak of one hundred years even, the Supersoul remembers every offense for every spirit soul tracing back infinitely into the past.

5. He sends the acharya to rescue me

Shri Krishna says that He comes to this land in His personal form whenever and wherever there is a decline in religious practice and a rise in irreligion. Things look pretty bleak right now, so where is He? Why isn’t He here to rescue me?

yadā yadā hi dharmasya

glānir bhavati bhārata

abhyutthānam adharmasya

tadātmānaṁ sṛjāmy aham


“Whenever and wherever there is a decline in religious practice, O descendant of Bharata, and a predominant rise of irreligion - at that time I descend Myself.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.7)

[Shri Krishna]The guru is considered to be one with God. This is not because they are God, but rather they share the same interest. They are a representative, and they are empowered to bring back one or many fallen souls. The guru only comes to me when I am sincere in my desire to again associate with Bhagavan. It should be known that those who have been fortunate enough to associate with the spiritual master, either in person or through instruction, have been rescued through the Divine will. Krishna is generally neutral, but anyone who renders service unto Him automatically becomes a friend.

In Closing:

Murder, deceit and vice,

How then God can be nice?


Just of temporary body seeing,

No effect on spiritual being.


To me always association’s choice giving,

Remembering all, thus most forgiving.


When sincere desire for return in me,

Sends guru who from illusion free.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Five Ways Demigod Worship Is Like Online Shopping

[Demigod worship]“Men in this world desire success in fruitive activities, and therefore they worship the demigods. Quickly, of course, men get results from fruitive work in this world.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.12)

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kāṅkṣantaḥ karmaṇāṁ siddhiṁ

yajanta iha devatāḥ

kṣipraṁ hi mānuṣe loke

siddhir bhavati karma-jā


Shri Krishna encourages it. He covers all aspects of living in a short discourse delivered a long time ago on the battlefield of Kurukshetra. It has since been famously known to generations as the Bhagavad-gita, and the direct recipient of the instruction asked many important questions. He was always in knowledge, but for the benefit of mankind in general he carried on as if unaware of the essential and timeless truths, pearls of wisdom that constitute Vedic culture.

A fundamental aspect of life is eating. It’s better known to the common man as survival. One living entity survives off another living entity. That is simply how the world works. The human is blessed with discrimination derived from a higher intelligence. It can choose what kinds of food to eat. It doesn’t have to kill animals in order to survive.

Short of eating only fruits that fall off of trees, the easy way to survive is to grow food. For that to happen, there must be rain. In this regard, there are higher beings in charge. They determine when and where rain happens. It makes sense, for even though today we can tell the probability of rain falling perhaps a day in advance, we’re still not entirely sure. The material nature is so complex that one slight alteration and the previously predictable pattern is suddenly no more.

annād bhavanti bhūtāni

parjanyād anna-sambhavaḥ

yajñād bhavati parjanyo

yajñaḥ karma-samudbhavaḥ


“All living bodies subsist on food grains, which are produced from rain. Rains are produced by performance of yajna [sacrifice], and yajna is born of prescribed duties.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 3.14)

Shri Krishna says that to get sufficient rainfall man should worship these higher authorities. In Sanskrit they are known as devas, which translates to “gods.” A more accurate translation is “demigod,” since they are still subordinate to the singular source, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. In a different place in the Gita, Krishna describes the worshipers of the demigods to be less intelligent.

How to reconcile the two? How can a person worshiping to get rainfall necessary for survival be less intelligent? The answer comes through carefully analyzing the situation. Demigod worship is a lot like a business transaction. It can be compared to online shopping, even.

1. There is variety in what you can get

The devas offer much more than just rain. If they are pleased, they can grant anything available in a material existence. What do we mean by material? The land which we at present call home is inhabited by pure spirit souls, part of the marginal energy of God. They are described as marginal because they have a choice in association. They are spiritual at the core, but they have independence as it relates to association.

When choosing the material energy, a sort of uniform is required. That uniform is composed of gross and subtle elements. Just as the clothes do not identify the individual, so the body is merely a temporary covering. The body changes within a single lifetime, and then there is a complete replacement after the event known as death.

For the sake of the body, a person worshiping a demigod can get pretty much anything. In a popular online store, there are so many items from which to choose. You can get computers, smartphones, desk lamps, books, bags, shirts, pants, socks, and even food. Whatever you desire is available through a few clicks. Just pick what you want and place it in your virtual shopping cart.

[Amazon shopping cart]Approaching the demigods is like shopping in one of these stores. One of the most famous shoppers was named Hiranyakashipu. He first asked for immortality, which the store manager known as Brahma did not carry. The shopper then settled for everything else he could think of that would come as close as possible to giving immortality. It would surprise people to know that Brahma had these items in stock.

2. There are different prices

Hiranyakashipu underwent tremendous austerities to get what he wanted. He was willing to pay the price. That was because the items he sought to purchase were rather expensive. For something simple like rainfall, the price isn’t nearly as much. The people of a farm community known as Vrindavana were accustomed to annually worshiping the king of heaven, Indra. They would take items from their harvest and make a formal offering. The simplest item that pleases the demigods is ghee, which is clarified butter. The cost to procure this, especially in ancient times, was not very much.

There are different stores as well. One demigod may not have everything you want, or maybe approaching them is too costly. You may have a preference for a specific demigod, so you go to them; you have some loyalty;

3. There are deals

Spend over a certain amount of money and get free shipping. Sign up for a credit card today and immediately take twenty percent off your bill. Shop on Cyber Monday, the Monday right after the annual holiday known as Thanksgiving, and get the best deals of the year.

Demigod worship has something similar, in that certain times of the year are considered more auspicious. This means that it is easier to get the reward you seek. Follow a specific vow, known as a vrata, and receive the fruit, or phala, more easily than you would at another time of the year.

4. Make the payment and the item is yours

Shopping online is a business transaction. There is no character judgment made. Perhaps if someone associated with the store shows up in the news making derogatory remarks about a certain ethnic group customers may decide to institute a boycott, but during the actual shopping there is a laser-like focus from both parties. The seller wants to get rid of the items, to clear the inventory, and the buyer looks to purchase what they want.

In a similar manner, the demigods do not make character judgments. Hiranyakashipu was a bad apple. He was the king of the Daityas, which is a race of asuras, or demons, descending from a woman known as Diti. Her sister Aditi started the line of good guys, the suras.

[Demigod worship]Lord Brahma is also a sura, but he did not deny service to the Daitya customer that was Hiranyakashipu. Lord Shiva has many times given out benedictions to asuras. This is the role played by the demigods. They are not to judge. Personally, they may have a certain opinion of someone, but when running the online store there is no denial of service. First come, first serve.

5. It’s business; nothing personal

Just because I shop at an online store regularly, it doesn’t mean that I am friends with the owner. It doesn’t mean that I know anything about them, even. It’s just business, after all. I desire a particular good or service, and the store provides it. It’s as simple as that.

Demigod worship in one sense can be even worse than this. Neutrality is one thing, but imagine if the store you’ve been loyal to for years suddenly goes into a vengeful fury because you decided to go elsewhere one time. This happened with the aforementioned Indra. The people of Vrindavana skipped the annual puja, or formal worship, in his honor one year in favor of a nearby hill named Govardhana. This was at the insistence of Shri Krishna, who was in the form of a darling child, the son of Nanda Maharaja and mother Yashoda.

You would think that Indra wouldn’t mind, considering how much business he had done previously. To the contrary, he was so angry at the slight that he tried to wipe out the entire community in retaliation. The worship of Govardhana was in the mood of bhakti, or devotion. It was not to get any particular reward. It was to please Krishna, who was loved by everyone in Vrindavana.

[Krishna lifting Govardhana Hill]Krishna protected the residents from the ensuing rain, which had created something like the flood of devastation. That one incident proves the validity of Krishna’s statement in the Gita relating to demigod worship being for the less intelligent. The online store can only do so much for us. It cannot take care of our spiritual wellbeing. It may lead us in the proper direction through understanding that there are higher powers in charge of the creation, but the interactions themselves are not in the mood of devotion. Bhakti can only be offered to Krishna or one of His non-different forms. Bhakti is for the most intelligent, as they get a reward that no demigod can offer: continued bliss in the surrender of devotion, lifetime after lifetime.

In Closing:

Store sometimes with bargain, a steal,

Customers readily looking for a deal.


Like a store with items fully in stock,

Demigods practically everything they’ve got.


Friendship not made, not relationship in trust,

Nothing personal, business it is just.


Bhakti for those with intelligence more,

Krishna’s pleasure doing everything for.