Saturday, July 16, 2016

Five Reasons To Trust The Spiritual Master

[Shri Krishna]“And when you have thus learned the truth, you will know that all living beings are but part of Me - and that they are in Me, and are Mine.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.35)

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yaj jñātvā na punar moham

evaṁ yāsyasi pāṇḍava

yena bhūtāny aśeṣāṇi

drakṣyasy ātmany atho mayi


Is there any person in this world who has figured out everything for themselves? Just one would suffice. That would be enough to satisfy the doubters. Just a single person meeting the qualification - no help from others.

In fact, it is impossible to find. At the very outset, when first exiting the womb, the individual is helpless. They can barely do anything on their own. Then they have to start learning. The parents, guardians, siblings and extended family of well-wishers teach the newborn new words. They say not to touch this thing, to not go to that place. The individual doesn’t prefer being restricted like this, but it is for their own good.

All this help, and only for living in the material world for upwards of one hundred years. What about the entire creation, then? What about the purpose to an existence? For answers to life’s toughest questions, there is the Divine mercy showered upon mankind through the association of the guru, or spiritual master.

1. They have seen the folly of sense gratification

The difficulty in having siblings who are much younger than you is that you have to watch them make mistakes you yourself made in the past. For example, let’s say they are heading to see a concert that is taking place out of state. They have decided that instead of spending the night in a hotel room after the show is over, they will simply drive back. You think the following to yourself:

“Oh boy, that is a bad idea. I did that when I was their age, and I almost fell asleep at the wheel. You’re young and you don’t know any better. What can I do?”

The guru has seen that sense gratification is not worth the time. Don’t worry so much about eating. Learn to tolerate the different desires that flow in like rivers rushing into an ocean. Have you ever eaten when you were hungry only to be left hungrier afterwards? Sense gratification is something like that, except that the hunger is never satisfied. From both personal experience and accepted wisdom the guru knows that there is more to life than sense gratification.

2. They have seen the futility of putting hopes in the temporary

“O Lord, if you come through for me this one time, I promise to never ask for anything ever again.” This prayer is common, and it comes from being carried away by the moment. Indeed, everything in life is temporary, so sooner or later another situation will arise that requires divine intervention.

The spiritual master has abandoned hope. They don’t sit around waiting for a better day to come in a life full of temporary things. They know there is something more important to be achieved.

3. They have seen the cycle of birth and death

A king named Yudhishthira a long time ago remarked that it was amazing how people see death occurring around them but act as if it will never happen to them. The guru has seen the cycle of birth and death, and they apply that knowledge to all living entities. The focus isn’t only on themselves or their family members. They are consciously aware of impending death for every living thing. A person who has this vision actually sees. They know there is something imperishable within, an energy that animates the otherwise dull and lifeless body.

4. They have seen the truth of the spiritual science

The guru is known as a tattva-darshi. They have seen the truth. Not that it necessarily appeared to them in a dream. They didn’t actually go somewhere where it was on display. They have seen the truth through following the words of their own guru. In the Bhagavad-gita Shri Krishna recommends exactly this process.

tad viddhi praṇipātena

paripraśnena sevayā

upadekṣyanti te jñānaṁ

jñāninas tattva-darśinaḥ


“Just try to learn the truth by approaching a spiritual master. Inquire from him submissively and render service unto him. The self-realized soul can impart knowledge unto you because he has seen the truth.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.34)

Approach a spiritual master. Inquire from them submissively. They have seen the truth, that which is Absolute. They know that which is beyond birth and death. Only by the mercy of the spiritual master can others be blessed with this most important vision.

5. They have seen the Supreme Lord, in every corner of the universe.

The guru sees God everywhere. They don’t need a magical display, either. They think that life and death itself is magic. They consider the forgetfulness of the living entity’s eternal constitutional position to be another aspect of the Divine. Only through His maya, or illusory energy, could something like that happen.

[Shri Krishna]God is indeed everywhere. He rests within each heart as the Supersoul. He is the all-pervading witness, antaryami. The guru is like a travelling place of pilgrimage, carrying sacred knowledge with them, ready to be revealed to those who are sincere in their desire to advance. The guru carries the all-attractive one, Krishna, with them for the benefit of others.

In Closing:

Guru as tattva-darshi is known,

Since having Truth’s realization their own.


First from their own teacher coming,

Not out of blue enlightened becoming.


Folly of sense gratification having seen,

Conscious of impending death, cruel and mean.


The Supreme Lord, in every corner of universe seeing,

Only through their grace ignorance freeing.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Five Hidden Treasures Of The Bhagavad-gita

[Sanjaya and Dhritarashtra]“Sanjaya was a student of Vyasa, and therefore, by the mercy of Vyasa, Sanjaya was able to envision the Battlefield of Kurukshetra even while he was in the room of Dhritarashtra. And so, Dhritarashtra asked him about the situation on the battlefield.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 1.1 Purport)

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In the world of video games there is something known as an Easter egg. You’ve been playing the game for a long time. You think you know the ins and outs. You think you have everything down. Then one day you discover something new. It’s a hidden treasure that’s just been waiting to be found. The feature is not officially documented, and not everyone knows about it.

Though the words of the Bhagavad-gita are there for everyone to see, several relevant verses stand out and become the primary focus of discussion. There is even a specific string of verses that are considered to be the essence of the Gita. If you were to only read a few verses, these are the ones that give you an idea of what the speaker Krishna is trying to get across in His conversation with the warrior Arjuna.

Since the work contains the words of the Supreme Personality of Godhead Himself, there is endless nuance and variety to the collective, which compared to other scriptural texts is rather short in length. More and more comes to the reader as they progress in their understanding of the charioteer of Arjuna. Thus the more they read the Bhagavad-gita, the more information they find; things they may not have given so much attention to in the beginning. Though these items aren’t really hidden in the true sense of the word, they are treasures nonetheless.

1. Spiritual television

Some love it. Others hate it. They happily refer to it with the moniker, “the idiot box.” You can spend hours sitting in one place and staring at it. You feel a range of emotions without having to move. You don’t need to pay much attention, either; passive entertainment.

The invention of the television was groundbreaking. It allowed images from one place to be transmitted across the globe. Millions of people could simultaneously watch a single event. This happens yearly with the final game of the National Football League season. Known as the Super Bowl, though the game is played in a stadium holding upwards of 100,000 people, there are millions more watching at home through the magic of television.

From the Bhagavad-gita we see that there was something like spiritual television even five thousand years ago. No satellites were required. Electricity was not needed. The potency through asceticism and the goodness of one person allowed it to happen. Known as Vyasadeva, he is the compiler of the majority of Vedic literature.

[Sanjaya and Dhritarashtra]He composed the Mahabharata, which is the history of great Bharata, which today is known as India. The Bhagavad-gita is within the Mahabharata, and so Vyasadeva knew everything that happened on the battlefield. Though he wasn’t present on the chariot with Krishna and Arjuna, he saw everything through spiritual television. He passed on this ability to Sanjaya, who was the servant of the king named Dhritarashtra. The Bhagavad-gita is told through the conversation between Sanjaya and Dhritarashtra.

2. King Janaka

One of the major topics of the Bhagavad-gita is karma. This is fruitive activity. Action and reaction. Karma is important to know. Why is one person born into wealth and another into poverty? Why are some people better at certain things than others? Since the results are due to past actions, from previous lives even, karma explains the variety.

karmaṇaiva hi saṁsiddhim

āsthitā janakādayaḥ

loka-saṅgraham evāpi

sampaśyan kartum arhasi


“Even kings like Janaka and others attained the perfectional stage by performance of prescribed duties. Therefore, just for the sake of educating the people in general, you should perform your work.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 3.20)

Karma also means “prescribed duty.” Do your work as a matter of duty; don’t be attached to the results. Shri Krishna described this to Arjuna since the warrior was contemplating abandoning his duty out of sentiment. Krishna gave the example of King Janaka, who worked with detachment. This is a hidden treasure of the Gita because there is not much discussion about this famous king. He is one of twelve mahajanas mentioned in the Shrimad Bhagavatam by Yamaraja. These great souls are authorities on devotional service.

Janaka was also known as Videha, or one who is without a body. He looked like a normal person, but he was special due to his dispassion. He was detached from outcomes, which is difficult for a king to accomplish. Yet his enlightenment didn’t prevent him from carrying out the duties of king. Since he was sinless, since he was so pure in consciousness, he became the father to Sita Devi, who is an incarnation of the goddess of fortune. From Janaka’s example we learn that a person doesn’t necessarily have to renounce everything and live in a cave in order to practice spiritual life.

3. Time travel

Wouldn’t it be neat to go back in time and relive select moments from childhood? Wouldn’t it be great to witness historical events in person and then know for sure what exactly took place? How about travelling into the future to see what life will be like long after we have left? These are simply fantasies, as time travel of this kind is impossible.

Even still, the Bhagavad-gita has some elements of time travel. In explaining the spiritual science to Arjuna, Krishna mentions that the teachings were originally spoken to the sun god, Vivasvan. Arjuna was perplexed, since the sun god was around at the beginning of the creation. How could Krishna have spoken to him that many years back?

Arjuna’s charioteer, friend and cousin then explained that many births both of them have had. Krishna could remember them but Arjuna could not. This one truth reveals how we can go back in time. We have indeed lived before. The issue is that we can’t remember those past lives. Only Krishna can, since He is God.

amī ca tvāṁ dhṛtarāṣṭrasya putrāḥ
sarve sahaivāvani-pāla-saṅghaiḥ
bhīṣmo droṇaḥ sūta-putras tathāsau
sahāsmadīyair api yodha-mukhyaiḥ

vaktrāṇi te tvaramāṇā viśanti
daṁṣṭrā-karālāni bhayānakāni
kecid vilagnā daśanāntareṣu
sandṛśyante cūrṇitair uttamāṅgaiḥ


“All the sons of Dhritarashtra along with their allied kings, and Bhishma, Drona and Karna, and all our soldiers are rushing into Your mouths, their heads smashed by Your fearful teeth. I see that some are being crushed between Your teeth as well.” (Arjuna, Bhagavad-gita, 11.26-27)

Krishna also allowed Arjuna to travel into the future. The main cause of Arjuna’s hesitation was the fear of killing people from the opposing army who were dear to him. These included the grandfather Bhishma and the teacher Drona. To make the case for action all the more convincing, Krishna gave a glimpse into the future. Arjuna saw a vision in which all the soldiers from the other side were rushing into Krishna’s mouths. This indicated that practically everyone would die anyway, whether Arjuna acted or not. By continuing forward, Arjuna would get to act as Krishna’s instrument, to effect the change that time was already set to deliver. This is a hidden treasure of knowledge because it shows that the future is already determined. Every person who takes birth must die. We are already dead in a sense; it is just that the result has not yet manifested.

4. The flag of Hanuman

Arjuna’s chariot has certain decorations and one of them is a flag bearing the image of Shri Hanuman. The Ramayana is a famous work of the Vedic tradition that deals with the life and activities of Shri Rama, whose name is in the very title. Another hero of the Ramayana is Hanuman, who has an entire section dedicated to his heroic exploits. Hanuman is a real-life person, and he is also a symbol of perseverance, strength, courage and victory in devotion. He is known most for his unflinching devotion to Rama.

[Flag of Hanuman on Arjuna's chariot]Now Rama was again there on the battlefield; this time in the form of Krishna. Hanuman made his way there also, represented on the flag of the chariot. Arjuna was to act in the same way as Hanuman; carrying out the Lord’s orders. One devotee helping another, Hanuman was there to provide moral support. The devotees are never alone; they always have the past acharyas, teachers, and servants helping them in one form or another.

5. The way to become forever dear to God

Since the time travel facilitated by Krishna showed that death is a guaranteed event, it would make sense to try to find out the purpose to life. What is the best way to use the time that we do have in this body? I am living right now, so what should be my goal? The natural tendency of the living entities is to ask things from God. He is almighty, after all. Even Arjuna asked Krishna to be his teacher because he was in distress. As the Supreme Lord is all-pervading, He most certainly hears the prayers offered to Him. He is willing to grant requests, but He uses discrimination.

Another hidden treasure of the Bhagavad-gita is the information it provides on how to become dear to God. Going beyond asking Him for things, what can we do to please Him? This is the real objective of an existence, because Krishna’s pleasure automatically means our pleasure. If we are dear to Him, it means that He will never leave us. He will stay within our consciousness.

Krishna lists several qualities and abilities that make a person dear to Him. He tells Arjuna to abandon all kinds of dharma, or systems of religion, and just surrender unto Him. He says that any person who explains the supreme science that is the Gita to other devoted souls becomes extremely dear to the Lord. Thus the formula for pleasing the most important person, God Himself, is given in the Bhagavad-gita. There can be no information more valuable than this.

In Closing:

From many times Gita to read,

New treasures uncovered indeed.


Janaka on bhakti an authority,

Renounced, but giving duty priority.


Spiritual television and travelling in time,

Way to understand the future of mine.


Most important how to Krishna to become dear,

Objective of valuable human life made clear.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Five Things That Spiritual Life Can Give Me

[Krishna speaking to Arjuna]“The Blessed Lord said: While speaking learned words, you are mourning for what is not worthy of grief. Those who are wise lament neither for the living nor the dead.” (Bhagavad-gita, 2.11)

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śrī-bhagavān uvāca

aśocyān anvaśocas tvaṁ

prajñā-vādāṁś ca bhāṣase

gatāsūn agatāsūṁś ca

nānuśocanti paṇḍitāḥ


“Heaven is a fairytale. There is no such thing as the afterlife. People made this stuff up as a way to cope with the difficulties of life. Some need a way to stand above. What better way to put someone down than to tell them they are going to suffer in hell forever? I don’t buy any of it.”

Indeed, dogmatic insistence and fear of eternal damnation aren’t really the best ways to persuade others to join your side. After all, anyone can make a claim about something that no one will consciously experience. “The future will be like this. After death, things will be like that.” Each person is as much an authority on the issue as the next.

Genuine spiritual life does bring lasting benefits. The Sanskrit word is shreyas. This is the long-term interest. At the same time, there is short-term interest to consider; preyas. Every person has self-interest, svartha, that they would like to have satisfied. Spiritual life does not neglect the short term or the needs of the individual. It can do many things for me.

1. A clear understanding of life and death

This is the most puzzling issue. We take birth, we form attachments, and then we lose things. The loved ones who took care of us in our youth one day vanish from our sight forever. Why does this happen? Where do they go? Dealing with the loss of a loved one is likely the most difficult experience in life.

In the Bhagavad-gita, Shri Krishna provides clarity on the issue. He says that the wise lament neither for the living nor the dead. We lament for the living who are considered to be destitute. “Look at that poor guy. He must be suffering. Isn’t it a shame what that woman is going through?” A wise messenger from a long time back helped a newly-turned widow cope with the loss of her husband by explaining that each person in this world has a body like a bubble, ready to burst at any moment.

"Whom are you lamenting for when you yourself are pitiable? Why do you pity the poor when you yourself have now been made poor? While in this body that is like a bubble, how can anyone look at anyone else as being worthy of lamentation?" (Hanuman speaking to Tara, Valmiki Ramayana, Kishkindha Kand, 21.3)

[Shri Hanuman]The body is different from the individual. Birth is the event of accepting a new body and death is the time of completely relinquishing the body. In between that same body changes constantly. This is the reason to not lament for a living person. The departed has simply moved on to some other place, to accept a new body. A person who understands these things has a huge advantage in the journey through life.

2. A calming of desires

Vedic culture recommends tapasya, which is austerity. This is not to punish. Rather, it is a way to have a better life. The idea is that the more you can control desires, the better off you’ll be. The natural tendency goes in the opposite direction. Satisfy every sense urge as soon as it arises. Don’t torture yourself.

āpūryamāṇam acala-pratiṣṭhaṁ

samudram āpaḥ praviśanti yadvat

tadvat kāmā yaṁ praviśanti sarve

sa śāntim āpnoti na kāma-kāmī


“A person who is not disturbed by the incessant flow of desires - that enter like rivers into the ocean which is ever being filled but is always still - can alone achieve peace, and not the man who strives to satisfy such desires.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.70)

Shri Krishna says that unless you can control this flow of desires, you cannot achieve peace. By extension, we take this to mean that only through following some sort of austerity rooted in spiritual life is there a chance at lasting happiness in this world. Every person is searching for peace, from the poor to the wealthy, the young to the old.

3. Steadiness in an endeavor

Aside from the incessant flow of desires acting as a huge distraction to the mind, there is the issue of satisfaction. The human being jumps from one thing to another because everything they try fails to provide lasting satisfaction. Genuine spiritual life is different. You know when you are on the right track when you are able to stick with the process for a long time and not get bored.

[Krishna and Arjuna]The Bhagavad-gita again provides clarity on the issue. The distressed warrior Arjuna was ready to give up before the battle even began. He thought his side was going to win, and he didn’t want to deal with the consequences to that victory. The wise teacher Krishna helped Arjuna to remain steady, to keep attention to duty. The secret was to satisfy the obligations while remaining conscious of Krishna. In other words, in spiritual life a person can stay steady along the path, even in the midst of the greatest distractions.

4. Determination to please someone else

The Sanskrit word dharma reveals something hidden and valuable about the individual. We see glimpses of this secret in the way humans behave with their fellow man. Take the example of a famous actor who has fallen. They have gone down the dark road of substance abuse. It has almost ruined them. When they emerge clean and sober at an awards ceremony, everyone cheers. They say only nice things.

This is because it is in the soul’s nature to please. The individual is happiest when serving. This comes from the dharma of the soul, its essential characteristic. That characteristic is rooted in spiritual life, as the soul is quintessential spirit. Following the words of Shri Krishna, a person learns how to please the highest person, Purushottama. When done properly, through the via medium of the spiritual master, Purushottama becomes so happy, as He looks for sincerity more than ability and quantity of offerings. That determination then carries the servant forward, giving them tremendous enthusiasm to look for more ways to please.

5. Bliss

Ananda-mayo ‘bhyasat. The spirit soul is by nature blissful. That bliss is always there, but when accepting a material body the true nature gets covered up. The degree of the covering depends on the type of body. We can think of it like different kinds of lampshades.

The human body has the least amount of covering. That covering can be gradually removed through spiritual life, which is also known as dharma. By following the eternal dharma a person feels bliss; this is the ultimate purpose. Going in we may want wealth, removal of distress, answers to certain questions, or more information about the Absolute, but through progressing in the path these desires eventually go away.

This explains why there are different kinds of yoga, such as karma, jnana and hatha. Once the desires within each respective system go away completely, the individual merges into bhakti-yoga. That eternal and original engagement brings bliss, from start to finish. You and I are blissful by nature, and the first step in reaching that position again is following genuine spiritual life.

In Closing:

Not just for afterlife sitting,

Benefits even before body quitting.


Understanding of birth and death presenting,

Neither for the living nor the dead lamenting.


Steadiness in pursuit going,

Eagerness to serve growing.


When spiritual life following real,

Bliss the ultimate purpose to feel.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

More Characteristics

[Rama and Lakshmana]“All is well with your Rama, who is the best among all wielders of the weapon. The same for Lakshmana, who is always engaged in the worship of his elder brother and has all auspicious characteristics.” (Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 35.74)

kuśalī tava kākutsthaḥ sarva śastrabhṛtām varaḥ |
guroḥ ārādhane yukto lakṣmaṇaḥ ca sulakṣaṇaḥ ||

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Hanuman’s description up until this point was sufficient. He laid out the case for his being an authentic messenger sent by the Supreme Lord, Shri Rama, who is also known as Kakutstha, which references His appearance in the solar dynasty of kings. Hanuman explained how he reached the island of Lanka, which was far away and surrounded by a vast ocean. The king Ravana thought he was safe there, that he had gotten away with taking Rama’s wife Sita. Of course, for the messenger of God there is no task too daunting. Impossible only applies to the conditioned souls who lack the favor of the Divine.

Despite saying everything perfectly, we see here that Hanuman continues further. He does not stop in his glorification of Rama and His younger brother Lakshmana. He informs Sita that all is well with Rama, who is the best among wielders of the weapon. Two similar Sanskrit words are of note here. One is shāstra and the other shastra. The first refers to the scriptures. These are the ancient teachings passed on in written form through the generations. Time travel of great magnitude can occur through simply reading shāstra. The teachings are so old and the incidents referenced from such a long time back that no one can accurately come up with a date of origin. Shāstra is as timeless as the Supreme Lord Himself.

[shastra]The second word, shastra, refers to weapons. Shāstra protects through words and shastra through physical application. Rama is God, but He appeared in a specific type of family. They were saintly kings who passed on shāstra and protected the people through shastra. Rama’s weapon of choice was the bow and arrow. There were so many wielders of the weapon during that time, but Rama was the best among them.

He proved this many times, with the most notable occurrence at the contest in Tirahuta. This was for determining the husband of Sita, the daughter of King Janaka. Ravana was there too, and though he was very proud of his strength, he could not lift the bow of Lord Shiva. Some even consider Ravana to be a devotee of Shiva, who as the great god is also known as Mahadeva. Yet that devotion is not pure; it is more a business arrangement. For that reason Shiva did not help Ravana lift the bow. Among the great princes assembled that day, only Rama could lift the bow, which He did effortlessly. Many years later, Ravana thought he would reverse that fortune through a backdoor move, taking Sita in secret.

[Rama lifting bow]All was well with Lakshmana too, who has auspicious characteristics. The word lakshana can also refer to marks. Both Rama and Lakshmana are auspicious on the inside and out. Rama’s bodily measurements are described as nyagrodha-parimandala. This means “like a banyan tree.” His arms and chest have the same measurements. This specific feature reveals His identity as the Supreme Lord.

“I am faithfully engaged in the service of Rama, who is greatly fortunate, fixed in truthfulness, gifted with all auspicious marks, and has the bodily measurements of a banyan tree [nyagrodha-parimandala].” (Sita Devi speaking to Ravana, Valmiki Ramayana, Aranya Kand, 47.34)

Lakshmana is practically the same as Rama; just the bodily complexion is different. Lakshmana reveres Rama. Rama is the eldest of four brothers, and the three younger ones look to Him as their guru, or most respected personality. Lakshmana is always engaged in the worship of that guru. Of his many auspicious characteristics, this is the most important.

[Rama and Lakshmana]By continuing to describe the two, Hanuman gives more and more pleasure to Sita. In her situation, she is desperate for news about her husband, from whom she is separated. As an empowered representative, Shri Hanuman has this amazing ability to bring Rama’s presence. Every living entity is in need of this connection, for it is the real definition of yoga.

In Closing:

From clutches of maya to be freed,

Of Rama’s presence desperately a need.


Hanuman capable of it bringing,

Lord’s glories in beautiful verses stringing.


To Sita Devi one time brought,

Arriving in Lanka, place with dangers fraught.


To characteristics of brothers never an end,

An entire lifetime in contemplation can spend.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

For Someone Else

[Shri Hanuman]“O Devi, I made this effort and arrived here on behalf of Rama for your sake. Know me to be the minister to Sugriva and the son of the wind.” (Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 35.73)

tvam mām rāma kṛta udyogam tvan nimittam iha āgatam |
sugrīva sacivam devi budhyasva pavana ātmajam ||

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“Where do you want to eat? I don’t really care. I’m open to anything. No, please don’t press me. Imagine I wasn’t here. Then where would you go? I will agree to whichever place you pick. Your happiness is my happiness.”

Vedic philosophy teaches that even altruism is materially motivated. The idea is that I think I’m doing something for another person’s benefit, but actually I’m looking for a personal gain. The Bhagavad-gita touches on something similar, describing the three kinds of charity.

Not all charitable giving is equal. In the mode of ignorance, I give indiscriminately and to the wrong people. Think of offering money to a homeless person, who eventually uses the gift to purchase alcohol and cigarettes. There is no benefit accrued to either party.

yat tu pratyupakārārthaṁ
phalam uddiśya vā punaḥ
dīyate ca parikliṣṭaṁ
tad dānaṁ rājasaṁ smṛtam


“But charity performed with the expectation of some return, or with a desire for fruitive results, or in a grudging mood, is said to be charity in the mode of passion.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 17.21)

Charity in the mode of passion is with the intent of receiving a specific benefit. A famous politician of recent times spent many years in the business world, where he generously donated to politicians of both major parties. The reason was obvious: to gain favor. A politician is more likely to listen to a donor than to a common man. In the mode of passion, I give to a charity so that I will get some benefit later on.

Even charity in the mode of goodness has some selfishness built in. When given to the proper recipient, at the proper time, and with no expectation of reciprocation, the giving qualifies as goodness. There is the material benefit of ascension to the heavenly realm that comes later on. The miser lives a hellish present life, always thinking about their wealth and protecting it. Due to their miserliness, they go to hell after death.

prāyeṇāthāḥ kadaryāṇāṁ
na sukhāya kadācana
iha cātmopatāpāya
mṛtasya narakāya ca


“Generally, the wealth of misers never allows them any happiness. In this life it causes their self-torment, and when they die it sends them to hell.” (Lord Krishna, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 11.23.15)

To find true unselfishness, we have to look to examples like the one referenced above. Here Shri Hanuman is describing his journey to Lanka, in the search for Sita Devi. He has found her, and now he needs to convince her that he is indeed a friend. He has done the amazing deed of crossing the expansive ocean, all for Sita’s sake. His actions were authorized by Rama, since Hanuman works for Rama directly. Rama is Sita’s husband.

Hanuman is the minister to the Vanara-king Sugriva. He is also the son of the wind. Vedic culture describes that different elements of nature have a presiding deity. Whether we accept this information initially isn’t very important. The material elements are beyond our control. Despite modern advancements in technology, there are still problems with drought and the like. This means that the water supply is out of the control of the human being.

The deity in charge of the wind is named Vayu, and one of his offspring is Hanuman. This wonderful messenger works selflessly. His journey to Lanka is not in the mode of ignorance, since there is intelligence involved. It is not in the mode of passion, since he is not looking for a personal benefit. It is not in the mode of goodness even, since Hanuman is not following some prescribed ritual meant to bring good karma. It is not that every person draws the assignment to travel to the dangerous land of Lanka, filled with Rakshasas, at a certain time each year.

Hanuman’s service is bhakti, which is pure love. We know that this must be the case since Hanuman risked his life for someone he had never met. Military men do this also, and they guarantee themselves a spot in the heavenly realm should they perish on the battlefield. Hanuman was working directly for Rama, who is God. Rama is not the only manifestation of the Divine, but He is the Supreme Lord Himself.

[Shri Hanuman]True selflessness is only found in bhakti-yoga. Every other activity has some hint of material desire, which leads to the development of a future material body. Only devotees like Hanuman are akama, which means “without desire.” He works for Shri Rama’s pleasure, and any attention on success is rooted in that objective. Such a dedicated servant is always dear to both Rama and His wife.

In Closing:

Since Hanuman moving without fear,

To Sita and Rama always dear.


Truly having desires none,

Since focus on bhakti one.


With intelligence to activities going,

Not for personal benefit siddhis showing.


Work for God and happiness yours forever,

To fall into binding material body again never.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Hanuman’s Journey As It Is

[Shri Hanuman]“I have declared to you all this as it actually occurred, O virtuous lady. O Devi, I am the messenger of the son of Dasharatha; please speak to me.” (Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 35.72)

etat te sarvam ākhyātam yathā vṛttam anindite |
abhibhāṣasva mām devi dūto dāśaratheḥ aham ||

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“At some point in the past. Don’t worry exactly when. Know that it happened based on the fact that you took birth in a world of duality. One day the heat is soothing, the next day it is too much to bear. On some days you need inflammation within the body, in order to ward off diseases. Other days the same inflammation leads to aggravation from things like allergies. Happiness is coupled with sadness. After birth there must be death. What a miserable place to be.”

The trigger to this condition is forgetfulness of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This is the authoritative Vedic explanation on the reason for the creation. We are here because we wanted to be separate from God. You can trace out some point in the past, saying that you came from a specific energy, perhaps falling like on the edge of a sword. One direction faces towards the lotus-like face of the Supreme Lord. The other side looks towards illusion. But still, the time factor is infinite. This means that there was a point in time prior to that decision. In this way the human mind can never fully understand the concept of infinity.

Never mind tracing out the exact history. This is the recommendation of acharyas like Shrila Bhaktivinoda Thakura and His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. If you knew every detail about the past, then you would be like God. But you are not like Him. Neither am I. He is the Supreme Soul and we are individual soul. One of the areas of divergence is memory. Shri Krishna explained this on the battlefield to Arjuna.

śrī-bhagavān uvāca
bahūni me vyatītāni
janmāni tava cārjuna
tāny ahaṁ veda sarvāṇi
na tvaṁ vettha parantapa


“The Blessed Lord said: Many, many births both you and I have passed. I can remember all of them, but you cannot, O subduer of the enemy!” (Bhagavad-gita, 4.5)

[Krishna and Arjuna]Focus on the future. Be conscious of Krishna, or God, moving forward. Make sure to think of Him at the time of death. Work shapes consciousness. Work in such a way that you are always conscious of God. Whether moving or not moving, whether performing action or apparently abstaining from it, just fix your consciousness on Him.

Of course this is easier said than done. Spinning in the wheel of reincarnation, the living entity, the jiva soul, is averse to devotion to God. Even after learning the spiritual science, there are stumbling blocks. One of them is not believing in the words of scripture, or shastra. Logic takes over. The frog mentality is there as well. The frog in the well has no concept of anything outside its world. It doesn’t know how vast the Pacific Ocean is, since the frog is only familiar with the tiny amount of water in the well. In the same way, if shastra describes something extraordinary, the human mind doubts the veracity. The man posing to be wise speculates that shastra is meant to be understood symbolically. “There is allegory to help get key points across.”

The words themselves in shastra refute this. The above quoted verse from the Ramayana is an example. Here Shri Hanuman gives his concluding remarks in the introduction to Sita Devi, the wife of Lord Rama. Hanuman is in the form of a monkey. For starters, that species is out of place in Lanka, where Sita is residing, against her will at that. Secondly, what kind of monkeys talk? Hanuman speaks of Shri Rama, Sita’s beloved husband. He speaks of other monkeys, technically known as Vanaras, who have been searching the entire world for her. She had gone missing from Rama’s side, the result of unspeakable deeds of the wicked king of Lanka, Ravana.

Not only are talking monkeys looking for Sita, but one of them managed to succeed in the mission. To do so, he had to leap over the ocean of over eight hundred miles in length. The highly educated man of today wouldn’t fall into the trap of believing that these things actually occurred. This is an ancient story, after all. The Ramayana isn’t real, is it?

Hanuman says that he has explained the events as they occurred. This warning is for future generations, people listening to the holy Ramayana while lacking the proper faith. The works focusing on devotion to God are meant for the open-minded, who have some desire to connect with God. With the onset of the present age of Kali, the hypocrites wrap themselves in the pages of shastra, but distort the meanings to fit their personal desires. These desires are rooted in antagonism towards the real religion.

[Shri Hanuman]Hanuman says that he indeed did cross the ocean. He entered Lanka looking for Sita. He has seen Ravana. Sita knows the words to be true since Hanuman has accurately described her husband. One who knows Rama knows that anything in this world is possible through His grace. Rama’s messenger can across over the entire universe if so inclined. They can remember thousands upon thousands of Sanskrit verses. They can use their intelligence to get through any difficult situation. The wise accept the testimony of Hanuman, and use it as further justification for continuing in the path of devotional service, which is the destiny of the spirit soul placed into the auspicious human form of body.

In Closing:

A monkey with ability to talk,

And on reconnaissance mission to walk.


Over giant ocean leapt,

Focus on Rama’s words kept.


Lord’s messenger anything can do,

Remember verses, speak in Sanskrit too.


Shri Hanuman, for future an accurate testimony,

Believe in shastra, with God renounce acrimony.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Halo In The Night

[Shri Hanuman]“The city of Lanka, filled with Rakshasas, was entered by me. I have seen Ravana and you, who are stricken with grief.” (Hanuman speaking to Sita Devi, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 35.71)

lankā ca api mayā rātrau praviṣṭā rākṣasa ākulā |
rāvaṇaḥ ca mayā dṛṣṭaḥ tvam ca śoka nipīḍitā ||

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When depicted on canvas, the Supreme Personality of Godhead is often shown to have a halo above or around His head. The exact form or personality doesn’t matter. Vishnu, Rama, Narasimha, Krishna - the halo adds the proper respect to the image. It is not merely the sentiment of the artist, either. In the Bhagavad-gita, Shri Krishna says that in His land there is no need for electricity.

na tad bhāsayate sūryo

na śaśāṅko na pāvakaḥ

yad gatvā na nivartante

tad dhāma paramaṁ mama


“That abode of Mine is not illumined by the sun or moon, nor by electricity. One who reaches it never returns to this material world.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 15.6)

This is because the Supreme Lord, with His transcendental features, is naturally effulgent. The bright light of Brahman emanates from Him, after all. Strip away maya, or illusion, and you’re left with spirit. That singular spiritual energy appears to be divided, fragmented into different pieces, residing in this form and that. Actually, the energy is one since it has the same source. Taken together that energy is known as Brahman, and it is a light to illuminate an otherwise dark and ignorant form of matter.

Despite being powerful enough to animate a body, the spirit soul sometimes finds itself enveloped in ignorance. There is literal darkness through staying in dimly lit areas. There is the accompanying figurative darkness in the form of intoxication, lying, cheating, stealing and exploiting others for personal gain.

The inhabitants of an island called Lanka a long time ago were known as Rakshasas. These are like man-eating ogres. They are human-like, but the effect of the body type is that the brilliance of the pure spirit soul gets diminished more so than in other forms. We can think of it like applying a darker shade on a lamp.

Shri Hanuman, though in the body of a monkey, was not hindered by his body type. He had the light of the Divine shining through him. Every person has this light, as it appears in them through the expansion known as the Supersoul. The only way to get the full benefit of this light is to tap into the Supreme Consciousness.

Hanuman was figuratively connected through a mood of devotion. He was literally connected through having met Shri Rama, who is one form of the Supreme Lord. Hanuman was beaming with light from within, which helped him to successfully enter Lanka even at night. There was the darkness due to lack of sunlight combined with the darkness in behavior of the residents.

The conditions were not auspicious. The odds were not in Hanuman’s favor to succeed in the mission to find Sita Devi, Rama’s missing wife. Yet even in the darkest of areas, the light of the Divine is enough to overpower. In the Ramacharitamanasa, there is a conversation between the crow Kakabhushundi and the eagle Garuda. Kakabhushundi makes the comparison to setting the entire world on fire and how that still wouldn’t compare to the light given by the sun. The meaning is that no amount of artificial light can compete with what nature provides through sunlight.

[Shri Hanuman]In the same way, no amount of austerity, penance, fruitive work, meditation or study can bring full escape from the darkness that is maya. The only way is through the help of the Divine. Shri Hanuman had that help, and he told the story of his success later to Sita. Rama’s help enabled Hanuman to find Sita and also allay her fears, for she was in grief, or shoka, due to separation from her husband. In the present age of Kali, which envelops the entire world in the mode of ignorance, through His capable representatives the same help from Rama removes our grief and brings us back into the bliss of devotional service.

In Closing:

Light every lamp but comparison is none,

To the brightest object, the splendorous sun.


Even when into darkness of Lanka going,

Hanuman divine light from within glowing.


This from Shri Rama Himself came,

From devotion potency arriving the same.


Through representatives shining even to this day,

Guiding souls in ignorance, showing them the way.