Saturday, August 6, 2016

Five Reasons Krishna Is Compassion Personified

[Yashoda and Krishna]“We further understand from Vedic information that Putana was also treated as a mother and given the same facility as Yashoda. As Yashoda was given liberation from the material world, so Putana was also given liberation.” (Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 1, Ch 6)

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According to the Vedic understanding, which is knowledge passed down in the descending process, a chain of teachers that links all the way to the beginning of the creation as we know it, the Supreme Lord is anything but a mean and vindictive man. He is not old; since time has no influence on His transcendental body. There is no anger, since He never has His desires frustrated. There is sin and piety for the countless souls that are His sons and daughters, but the adherence or neglect of the rules of righteousness have no bearing on His disposition. He is known as atmarama, which means “self-satisfied.”

The relationship towards those countless souls is complete and full compassion. He always welcomes back the sincere devotees with open arms. He does not hold their many years of neglect against them. Every sinner has a future and every saint has a past. More than just taking someone’s word for it, there are many ways to understand this amazing compassion. The all-attractive one known as Krishna is indeed compassion personified.

1. He stays with us as the Supersoul

I should respect every single person. No matter what I think of their behavior, no matter how superior I think myself to be, at the core everyone is equal. This is because the spirit soul is what identifies us. Moreover, in each living being there is another spiritual spark that resides within. Unlike the individual soul, this spark is the same within everyone. It is known as the Supersoul or Paramatma.

Paramatma is God’s expansion. If you know Paramatma, you understand the all-pervading nature of the Divine. He is everywhere. He hears every prayer, sees every charitable deed, and remembers everything done in His honor. He witnesses everything, and He is neutral. He does not interfere with the choice to neglect Him.

The conditioned living being spins on the wheel of reincarnation, the samsara-chakra, for as long as the desire to reconnect with the Divine is absent. Throughout this time, the Supersoul remains close by. This means that God is the most compassionate person. He never abandons us.

2. He comes to this world as Chaitanya Mahaprabhu

Though God does not have to justify any of His actions, there are generally two accepted reasons for His special appearance in this world as Shri Krishna Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Though the Divine is one, there are two aspects to that singularity. The male aspect is Krishna and the female Radha. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is a combined incarnation; Krishna appearing on earth in the mood of Radha.

The second reason for the advent is to help the conditioned souls who are otherwise suffering through the effects of Kali Yuga. In the age of quarrel and hypocrisy, everything is upside down. What is right is considered wrong, and vice versa. In the past it was a virtue to hold back on your desires, to control your lust. In Kali Yuga there is competition to see who is a bigger slave to their senses. “Look at what I’m eating today. Look at where I am on vacation. Just see how much influence kama has over me.”

Lord Chaitanya explained the true meaning of the Vedas through both personal instruction and ideal behavior. Most importantly, He popularized, prachara, the sankirtana movement. This is the congregational chanting of the holy names of God, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.” In this dark age there is no other way to find liberation. The names of Hari, or God, are the only way to emerge from the dark cloud of ignorance.

3. He gives liberation to demons like Putana

Release from the cycle of birth and death is known as mukti. This is liberation, and it is a reward very rarely achieved. The reason is that the material world envelops the otherwise knowledgeable individual in illusion. It’s like the person who continues to lay down bets at the blackjack table, even though everyone is telling them to stop. The gambler knows it’s a bad idea, but it is like there is some force preventing them from acting wisely.

“Arjuna said: O descendant of Vrishni, by what is one impelled to sinful acts, even unwillingly, as if engaged by force?” (Bhagavad-gita, 3.36)

Kama, or lust, is the force by which a man seems to be controlled, incapable of avoiding sin. The only way to truly conquer lust is to get the help of the Supreme Lord. It is interesting to note that liberation has been granted to even people who behaved poorly. The witch Putana from many centuries ago could be classified as more wicked than any creature we know.

She took the false guise of a beautiful woman and entered Vrindavana with evil intent. She was ready to kill the child of Nanda and Yashoda. This was Krishna Himself, who at that time was in the form of a beautiful and innocent child. Putana had smeared poison on her breast, hoping that by feeding Krishna she would kill Him. The opposite, of course, occurred. Her very life was sucked out of her.

[Yashoda and Krishna]Since she thought of Him at the time of death, Krishna gave Putana liberation. This is another example of extreme kindness and compassion. Even thinking of God inimically at the time of death qualifies as consciousness of Him. Krishna gives the same boon to all enemies who fight with Him to the death. The liberation for the devotees is even better, as they think of Him with love. Moreover, they don’t have to wait until death to experience the benefits of the release from reincarnation.

4. He never forgets sacrifices made in devotion

As the Supersoul, Krishna witnesses and remembers everything. There is compassion in that aspect, and there is something related that is more amazing. If a person makes a genuine effort at yoga, which is linking with that Supersoul, then their progress never goes away. I may start to build a new house and take a break halfway through. Through time, that progress can easily get erased. Then I am left to start from scratch.

“The unsuccessful yogi, after many, many years of enjoyment on the planets of the pious living entities, is born into a family of righteous people, or into a family of rich aristocracy.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 6.41)

The unsuccessful yogi need not worry. They get to start again from where they left off. The circumstances of their next birth are favorable for the continuation of yoga. They get the chance to again think of Krishna all the time; hopefully through to the time of death.

5. He brings saints to this world

In the Ramacharitamanasa, there is a statement by Maharishi Valmiki that one of the qualities of devotees is that they love their guru even more than God. The reason is that the guru is the compassionate person who showed them the way. The guru unveiled the path of devotion, which is like a gift that keeps on giving.

The guru is a saint, and these saints come to this world to spread the message of Divine Love. They are representatives empowered by Krishna Himself. They are another side to Him. Krishna is God who is served, and guru is God who offers the service. Though there may be many of them in the world at one time, the bona fide guru is one. They share the same interest of serving God without motivation and without interruption.

The presence of these saints to offer help and guidance, to teach us more about the one of limitless opulence, brilliance, and compassion is another way to understand the kindness of God. The saints are like an ocean of mercy, as they take all risks in the hopes of rescuing even a single soul. There is no way to properly repay that kindness.

In Closing:

Krishna the most compassionate to be,

Different ways for evidence to see.


Like with liberation to Putana giving,

A witch, her horrible sins forgiving.


As the Supersoul staying always with you,

The same in every person, every animal too.


As the avatara from time to time descending,

And most compassionate saints to this world sending.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Does Happiness In Spiritual Life Come On Its Own

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

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Friend1: I have a question about happiness.

Friend2: Okay.

Friend1: The soul is supposed to be happy, right?

Friend2: Yes.

Friend1: There is a Sanskrit phrase that describes that.

Friend2: Ananda mayo ’bhyasat. The soul is full of bliss.

Friend1: There is also sach-chid-ananda. This means that the soul is eternal, knowledgeable, and full of bliss.

Friend2: These properties descend from God. He is the fountainhead of all energies. He is the original, and we are like samples. He is God, while we are God-like.

Friend1: Okay, but here is somewhat of a contradiction. I’ve also read that we shouldn’t work so hard to find happiness. We should be content with letting things come our way.

[Winter-summer]Friend2: Correct. Happiness and distress come and go like the winter and summer seasons. The bitter cold of winter is no fun, and the same goes for the scorching heat of summer. Yet we know that both come and go; it’s the working of time. We should just go with it; no need to act otherwise.

Friend1: I understand that, but it seems to go against the soul’s nature of being blissful. Or at least it means that we shouldn’t strive after bliss. Do you see the contradiction?

Friend2: You’re basically asking what is the point of following spiritual life if happiness already comes on its own?

Friend1: Exactly. And how is it in the soul’s nature to be blissful if there is the duality of happiness and distress?

Friend2: These are good questions. There are two words of note. Sukha and ananda. In this context sukha is that temporary happiness, the one that comes on its own through karma.

Friend1: How is ananda different?

Friend2: Karma means subjecting yourself to duality. It is work that has reactions related to a temporary body. We pretty much have experience only with karma. We understand ananda in terms of sukha, as well. Ananda is something that never leaves the soul, no matter where it may be. Sukha is a small taste of it, like opening the windows of a room during the daytime. You might feel some warmth already in the room, but when the windows are opened, you get a more complete experience. Ananda is the result of removing the influence of the material body.

Friend1: And that can only happen through spiritual life.

[Krishna's lotus feet]Friend2: Right. It’s a way to experience pleasure that is beyond the duality of happiness and sadness. This bliss is steady, since it is the result of a direct connection with the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The Nectar of Devotion talks about something called “impetus for ecstasy.” You just remember something about God the person and you end up feeling ecstatic all over. Since remembrance is the impetus, you can get that ecstasy at any time. You don’t have to sit around and wait for it. It doesn’t have to leave you, either, since Krishna is all-pervading. Ananda is every person’s birthright, and through devotional service they are able to find it, cherish it, and hold onto it going forward.

In Closing:

Like winter and summer seasons known,

Happiness and distress coming on their own.


No need separately to yearn,

To tolerate changes must learn.


Soul also as blissful the description,

Thus how to resolve the contradiction?


Ananda inside, sukha temporarily staying,

Steady happiness when for Lord’s company praying.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Duryodhana And Suyodhana

[Krishna and Arjuna]“This supreme science was thus received through the chain of disciplic succession, and the saintly kings understood it in that way. But in course of time the succession was broken, and therefore the science as it is appears to be lost.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.2)

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Friend1: Why are there purports in these books?

Friend2: Which books?

Friend1: Vedic scriptures.

Friend2: There aren’t purports. What are you talking about?

Friend1: You know what I mean. Like with Bhagavad-gita As It Is, Shrimad Bhagavatam, and others. The purports are like commentary.

Friend2: Oh, so you’re asking about modern-day translations of these timeless classics of Vedic literature?

Friend1: Yes.

Friend2: You know the answer. Why are you asking me?

Friend1: I’m trying to set up an argument that I often hear.

Friend2: What is that? You don’t need commentary? Just read the original verses?

Friend1: Exactly. I should focus on what the verses mean to me. I don’t need someone else to explain them to me.

Friend2: Well, what do you know, really? You’re focusing on exploiting the material nature. You’re struggling hard with the six senses, which include the mind. You mistake a rope for a snake. You commit mistakes, cheat, and are easily illusioned.

Friend1: That’s pretty insulting [smiles]. I know you’re referring to man in general. Still, isn’t the opinion of one person just as valid as the next? Why do I need to learn through a guru?

Friend2: It’s the same in any field, really. You can’t pick up a book on calculus when you’re a child and expect to get anything out of it. You need familiarity with the basic culture of mathematics first. By reading a book with valid commentary, authored by a person coming in the disciplic succession that has the Supreme Lord at the root, you get familiarity with the nuance and deep meaning behind every single word. You can’t understand important topics like time, karma, the material nature, the living entity and the Supreme Controller on your own.

Friend1: But these are just words, after all. The Mahabharata includes the Bhagavad-gita. People used to hear the Mahabharata directly. They would get together and listen to someone recite it. Granted, I don’t know Sanskrit, but what is the harm in simply reading a translation in a language I understand?

Friend2: There may be some benefit, but only if you have the proper mood going in. If you are not a devotee, you’ll actually get the wrong idea. You’ll apply your biased filter to the events. Your bias is rooted in going against God, which is the original sin. The devotee is at a better starting point, since they are eager to hear Hari-katha, or discourses about the Supreme Lord and His activities. Still, the need for the guru remains.

Friend1: How so?

Friend2: Let me give you an example. I read a translation of the Mahabharata way back. There was no commentary available at the time, at least to my knowledge. I probably wouldn’t have had time to go through purports regardless, as the book itself is ridiculously long.

Friend1: I know. I’m impressed that you read it. Most people I know who are familiar with it have seen the television serial, watched a movie, or read a condensed version.

Friend2: I had that rebellious attitude, that I didn’t need someone else to explain everything to me. Anyway, I think you’ll find this funny. You know Duryodhana, right?

Friend1: Yeah. He’s the antagonist. He’s the leader of the bad guys, the Kurus. Though technically not all the Kurus are bad. They have Bhishma on their side, and he has an entire section dedicated to his teachings.

Friend2: The Bhishma-parva. While on the verge of quitting his body on the battlefield, Bhishma gives wise instruction on so many aspects of life to Yudhishthira, the eldest of the five Pandava brothers.

[Bhishma lying on battlefield]Friend1: Anyway, I am familiar with Duryodhana.

Friend2: Okay. So when you read these verses directly, so many names are mentioned. I mean it’s almost impossible to keep track. You have to keep a cheat sheet with you, really. I didn’t have one, but I kept reading anyway. So in many of the verses, I see people in the Kuru camp referring to someone named Suyodhana.

Friend1: Was he another fighter on their side?

Friend2: That’s what I thought. Well, I really didn’t put much thought into it.

Friend1: Yeah. There are so many characters to keep track of.

Friend2: Years later, I found out that Duryodhana and Suyodhana are the same person.

Friend1: Oh man. That’s hilarious. You couldn’t tell while reading?

[Krishna and Arjuna]Friend2: I might have been able to, but I didn’t spend much time thinking about it. I just figured they were suddenly switching to talking about a different person. The lesson is that I only found out later through consulting a guru, an authorized commentary. Both names refer to a fighter, but Duryodhana is in the negative connotation and Suyodhana the positive. It’s a great lesson in duality. Even a bad guy is considered good to some people, and vice versa. This was one small issue, but imagine the nuance and detail involved in much higher topics. The guru is familiar with the underlying culture, since they spent so much time immersed in it by serving their own guru. That is why it is necessary to learn shastra under their guidance. Parampara is so important that Krishna mentions it in the Gita. The original science was lost and Krishna revived it through Arjuna.

In Closing:

Read Vedic works on my own should,

Will everything be properly understood?


Example of Duryodhana and Suyodhana mentioned name,

Mistake made, actually referring to person the same.


By mental speculation not to be known,

Through guidance of teacher alone.


Reason for parampara explaining,

Meaning of shastra through them gaining.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Five Reasons Mother Yashoda Was Able To Bind Krishna

[Yashoda binding Krishna]“She gathered more ropes from the house and added to it, but at the end she found the same shortage. In this way, she connected all the ropes available at home, but when the final knot was added, she saw that it was still two inches too short. Mother Yashoda was smiling, but she was astonished. How was it happening?” (Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 1, Ch 9)

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Trinavarta tried. Putana tried, too. Of course, they wanted to go one step further. They weren’t interested in merely holding on for a few seconds. They were to be instruments of death instigated by the king of the neighboring town. Kamsa sent them to Vraja with a purpose. Prolonging was too risky. The prophecy said that Devaki’s eighth child would kill Kamsa. News got out to the king that the child was in the world and alive, though in the form of a baby.

These wicked creatures wanted to kill baby Krishna, but they failed at even binding Him. Putana held Krishna in her lap for a few brief moments, but she did not have a complete hold. Trinavarta took Krishna high into the air, making use of his ability to turn into a whirlwind. Yet this was not like binding the boy. While in the sky the child suddenly increased His weight to a level that Trinavarta could no longer tolerate.

Later on in life, when Krishna was an adult, the leader of the Kurus on a whim came up with a plan to bind Him. Duryodhana thought that if Krishna, who had come as a messenger in peace, were bound, then the opposing side would lose hope. The Pandavas would see their ever well-wisher captured and realize that the impending war would bring the same fate.

Fortunately for Duryodhana, the attempt wasn’t even made. He wouldn’t have succeeded, as Shri Krishna is no ordinary person. Yet in that same Vraja, when Krishna was a child, one person did succeed at binding Him. Her name was Yashoda, and her special circumstances reveal why she was successful in an area where even meditational yogis have failed.

1. She was sinless

In the Bhagavad-gita, Shri Krishna refers to Arjuna by different names. One of them is anagha. This means “sinless.” The easiest way to understand sin is to know that it is doing something the wrong way. There are many different objectives in the course of a lifetime, so in the broadest sense sin is what brings a person away from their true calling, which is linking with the Supreme Lord. This link is known as yoga, and sin is what either breaks the bond or prevents a person from securing it.

Yashoda was the foster mother to Krishna in Vrindavana. There was not a hint of sin in her. She did not violate the etiquette of the Vedic culture she knew since birth. Her only desire was to be a good mother, to love her child with all her heart. Being sinless was one reason she received the boon of having Krishna grow up in her home. It also played a role in her success at binding Him one time.

2. She was not going to show off her accomplishment

Duryodhana wanted to bind Krishna and then show off to others. He wanted to keep the origin of the creation as a sort of trophy, a symbol of victory. Similarly, the demons who went to Vraja at the command of Kamsa were ready to come back victorious. They wanted to show their leader that they could carry out orders.

Yashoda had no such desires. Krishna one time broke a pot of yogurt in anger. Yashoda had been feeding Him, but she got up to tend to a pot in the kitchen. When she returned to see what Krishna had done, she chased after Him. When she eventually caught Him, she wanted to bind Him to a mortar as punishment. Yet the desire was not to let others know. It was simply a way to keep the darling child within her sight.

3. Krishna had done something wrong

The Supreme Lord arrived to the assembly of Duryodhana on a mission of peace. He wanted to at least give the Kurus the chance at avoiding a war in which they would lose everything. As He is time itself, Krishna knows past, present and future. Therefore He knew that Duryodhana would not accept the peace deal. Duryodhana was set on keeping the kingdom that wasn’t rightfully his.

“O Arjuna, as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, I know everything that has happened in the past, all that is happening in the present, and all things that are yet to come. I also know all living entities; but Me no one knows.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.26)

It is common decency to treat a messenger with respect. You’re not supposed to take them as an enemy. Duryodhana wanted to harm the messenger who hadn’t done anything wrong. Why would Krishna encourage such motive in people? Why would He sanction sinful behavior?

In the interaction with Yashoda, the Supreme Lord knew He did something wrong. He broke the pot on purpose. If He believed He was in the right, He wouldn’t have scampered away, leaving adorable footprints made of butter.

4. She did not want anything from Krishna

There is bhakti-yoga, and there is pure bhakti-yoga. The distinction is subtle, but tangible nonetheless. Pure devotional service is where there is no outside motive. It’s understandable to approach God with some interest in mind. After all, He is the Almighty. Simply by desiring it, He can make anything happen.

Duryodhana had the desire to embarrass Krishna and break the will of the Pandavas. There are those who want material advancement. Others want renunciation. The meditational yogis seek to merge with the Supreme Lord in some way. In each case there is a desire. They are asking something from the Supreme Lord.

Yashoda was different. She was not looking to bind Krishna as a way to improve her standing in life. In addition to being sinless, she was desireless. She had no personal desire. Yashoda simply wanted the beautiful child to always stay with her.

5. She had love for Krishna

The Supreme Lord will do anything for His devotees. He will go to the home of the enemies to give them a chance at peace. He will act as charioteer during the ensuing battle. He will act as guru should they ask for guidance. He will lift a massive hill if they should be on the receiving end of the wrath of a jealous demigod.

In Yashoda’s case, He allows a loving mother to bind Him as punishment. Indeed, we know from the verses of the Shrimad Bhagavatam that success only came after Krishna sanctioned it. The first attempt failed, as the rope used by the loving mother was too short. Then she added more ropes. The simplest laws of mathematics say that the adjoining ropes should have been long enough. But each time they were two finger-widths short.

[Yashoda binding Krishna]Just because it looks like you are close to capturing the elusive Supreme Lord, it doesn’t mean that you’re actually any further along than the next person. A small distance becomes insurmountable when dealing with Shri Krishna. Knowing the love she has in her heart, and seeing her dedicated effort, Krishna allowed her to finally succeed. She tied Him to the mortar, and because of that incident mother Yashoda earned the distinction of giving the Supreme Lord the name Damodara.

In Closing:

Chasing after Him to go,

Wrong to break pot to know.


After Krishna was caught,

Many adjoining ropes were brought.


But still Yashoda not able to succeed,

Every time two widths short indeed.


Because love was pure and never proud,

That loving pastime Supreme Lord allowed.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Five Ways To Remain Krishna Conscious While Living On A Large Property

[Shri Krishna]“Krishna used to put a vaijayanti garland around His neck. This vaijayanti garland is made of at least five differently colored flowers. The length of such a garland was always touching Krishna's knees or feet. Besides this garland of flowers, there were other kinds of flower garlands too - sometimes decorating His head, sometimes hanging around His neck and chest. Artistic painting with sandalwood pulp and colored sandalwood were also to be found on the body of Krishna.” (The Nectar of Devotion, Ch 26)

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Vishno-smaranam is one of nine processes mentioned by Prahlada Maharaja in his wonderful definition of bhakti-yoga. The Sanskrit terms commonly translate to “devotional service.” Devotional refers to God, or the Almighty. Service refers to doing something to give pleasure, to increase the happiness of the object of service. As these concepts can be rather vague, any further clarity on the matter is extremely helpful.

Vishno refers to Vishnu, or God the person. The Supreme Lord is both nirguna and saguna. He is without material qualities in the sense that none of the body parts are limiting to Him. He is saguna in the sense that He has features which distinguish Him from other objects and living things. Vishnu is specifically the Supreme Personality of Godhead, a distinct entity to whom service can be offered.

Vishnu is a manifestation of God, and there are other forms which though having a different visual appearance are identical to Vishnu. One of those forms is Krishna, and so another common translation for bhakti-yoga is “Krishna consciousness.” To put it simply, vishno-smaranam is remembering Krishna, or God. Find a way to always remember Him, no matter what you are doing, no matter where you are going, and no matter what is otherwise occupying your time throughout the day.

Remembering Krishna is easier said than done. Imagine this situation. You have just bought your first home. It’s a rather large property, so there is plenty to do right after making the purchase. It seems like the work will never end. The house itself isn’t that spacious, but the large area on which it sits requires constant attention. Despite what appears to be a major distraction to bhakti-yoga, there are still ways to remain incredibly Krishna conscious while living on such a large piece of land.

1. This hill reminds me of Govardhana

In one section of the backyard I see a small hill. It has different rocks on it. There is grass as well. Every time I see this hill, I am reminded of Govardhana. This is the sacred hill in the spiritual land of Vrindavana that Shri Krishna lifted one time. Of course the hill in my backyard isn’t nearly as large. Govardhana takes many hours to circumambulate by foot.

[Govardhana Hill]By looking at this small hill, I am reminded of that much larger one and how Shri Krishna held it aloft for seven consecutive days. The sacred Govardhana rested on His pinky finger the entire time, and Krishna never grew tired. Every time I come to this section of my property, I am reminded of how powerful Krishna is and how He will do anything to protect His devotees.

2. This pond reminds me of Radha-kunda

My property is so large that there is even a small pond tucked away in the back. There is not much I can do with this body of water, but every time I see it I am reminded of Radha-kunda. Shri Krishna is always tied to Shrimati Radharani. The two are actually one; the union of the male and female aspects of the Divine.

One time Krishna saved the people of Vrindavana from a wicked demon in the guise of a bull. Krishna was proud of His accomplishment, and so Radharani looked to bring Him down a notch. She said that He was impure since He had killed a bull. Krishna complained that the bull was actually a demon, but Radha and her friends would not listen. They said He would only become purified if He took a dip in the sacred rivers.

Krishna then took advantage of a hole in the ground by bringing the sacred rivers to the spot. Their waters then filled the hole, creating a pond known as Shyama-kunda. Krishna then took a dip to become purified. Radharani would not enter Shyama-kunda, so she and her friends decided to make their own pond, digging the adjacent area using their bangles. Again the sacred waters filled the spot, and thus Radha-kunda was born. Radha-kunda immediately became so dear to Krishna. I am so thankful to have this pond in my backyard so I can always remember that great pastime.

3. The luscious grass reminds me of Gopala

The property is so large that I had to purchase one of those riding lawnmowers. The grass is really green, though. That makes me happy. Whenever I see the green grass, I’m reminded of Gopala, who goes out daily to the fields with the calves. He and His friends in Vrindavana have fun all the time. This is the special distinction with Krishna. He is indeed God because He has nothing to do. When someone asks what is Krishna doing in the spiritual world, the answer is always the same: enjoying. The grass is so fortunate there since it gets to feel the soft soles of the feet of the Supreme Lord.

4. These bees remind me of Krishna’s flower garland

[Krishna with cow]There are many bushes around the property, and where there are flowers naturally there are bees as well. When I see these bees buzzing about, I’m reminded of Shri Krishna’s flower garland. It is an aspect of His transcendental ensemble that can easily be overlooked. After all, there is the famous peacock feather in His hair. There is the flute in His hand and the beautiful earrings. Krishna is so naturally attractive that the ornaments actually become more beautiful when placed on Him instead of the other way around. The flower garland that hangs around His neck attracts the bees of Vrindavana. Hence there is always this pleasing buzzing sound near Krishna’s body, as He moves to and fro.

5. This land reminds me of Vrindavana

Despite being such a large property with so much attention required throughout the year, I feel as if I am in Vrindavana. Wherever I go, I am reminded of Krishna. This is just on the outside, and inside the home I invite my friends and family to come and congregationally chant the holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.” I am so thankful that in the place I call home I can still stay connected to the spiritual world.

In Closing:

After home on large property bought,

New responsibilities daily brought.


How in devotional consciousness to stay,

When mind sent this and that other way?


Reminding of Radha-kunda this pond,

Sacred waters, of it Krishna very fond.


Grass and rocks just like Govardhana hill,

Whole area thoughts of Vrindavana to instill.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Five Reasons Duryodhana Could Not Bind Krishna

[Lord Krishna]“Fools deride Me when I descend in the human form. They do not know My transcendental nature and My supreme dominion over all that be.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.11)

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It was a stressful time for Duryodhana. Though he had the kingdom he coveted, he could not preside over it in peace. There was an impending conflict, of massive proportions. The other side would be led by the cousin named Arjuna. Arjuna would be joined by his four brothers. They were collectively known as the Pandavas, and they would have their own army helping them. The Pandavas represented the side of righteousness, while Duryodhana tended towards unrighteousness.

At one point Arjuna’s good friend and cousin named Krishna arrived at the Kuru camp on a visit. He refused to partake of the offerings Duryodhana made, since the great son of Dhritarashtra would not give the proper respect due the Pandavas. They were the sons of Pandu, who was Duryodhana’s uncle. Krishna came to make one last effort at peace, to avoid conflict. This was for Duryodhana’s good, since Arjuna’s side was definitely going to win. Better to peacefully hand the kingdom over to the rightful owners than to suffer death on the battlefield.

Not only did Duryodhana refuse this entreaty, but he thought of a nefarious plan on the spur of the moment. He wanted to tie up Krishna and hold Him hostage. His thinking was that if the Pandavas saw their great well-wisher captured, they would be too afraid to fight. They would lose their will. Indeed, that is the actual way to victory in a military conflict. If you can break the other side’s will to fight, then victory is imminent. The problem here was that Duryodhana could not bind Krishna. He could not even get to first base with his plan.

1. He was committed to adharma

The Sanskrit word dharma has different meanings. The root definition is “essential characteristic.” Dharma is that thing which gives an object its meaning. For the individual, the essence of life, dharma is service. It is acting in the soul’s best interest. Therefore dharma also means “righteousness” and “virtue.”

Adharma is the opposite. Another way to understand it is ignorance. Ignorance is really nothing more than poor vision. In ignorance I break the tennis racket while playing. This is adharma to the specific situation because I will need a racket to play. Breaking it means that I will no longer have one. The ignorance is in not seeing the future consequences to my action.

Duryodhana was committed to adharma. This means that he could not see properly. Though he had the vision of Krishna right in front of him, he failed to properly recognize Him. So many people in his kingdom told him the real identity of Krishna, who is the Supreme Lord. Krishna is none other than Narayana, the source of all men.

2. Brute force does not work on the Supreme Powerful

There is the electricity that comes through the house. That is the energy. Then there is the place from which the electricity comes. That is the energetic. In a similar way, the many living entities of the universe are the power, or the energy of God. The strongest energy is in the combination of husband and wife known as Shiva and Parvati. They are the power, but above them is the powerful, who is known as Krishna.

Duryodhana was accustomed to applying brute force to get what he wanted. If you have power, why not use it? Krishna was saying things that were disagreeable to Duryodhana. Therefore, why not just bind Krishna? Take away the source of your misery.

Duryodhana’s uncle Vidura many times tried to explain that Krishna was the Supreme Powerful. Vidura referenced incidents from Krishna’s childhood in Vrindavana. The asura in the form of a whirlwind tried to carry baby Krishna into the air for the purpose of killing Him. Yet the child suddenly became too heavy to hold, and Trinavarta fell to the ground and died as a result. Putana tried to kill baby Krishna by smearing poison on her breast. Yet it was her life that was sucked out as a result.

Duryodhana thus directly heard of Krishna’s amazing potency, but due to his adharma, his sinful ways, he could not see properly. He thought that his application of brute force would succeed where others had failed.

3. He mistook Krishna for an ordinary man

Later on, when the war predicted by Krishna was about to begin, Arjuna sought guidance from the Supreme Lord. Krishna stepped out of His position as charioteer and assumed the role of guru, or teacher. One of the instructions He gave to Arjuna was that fools could not recognize His changeless nature. They thought that He had assumed the body, the way the ordinary living entity does at the time of birth.

“Unintelligent men, who know Me not, think that I have assumed this form and personality. Due to their small knowledge, they do not know My higher nature, which is changeless and supreme.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.24)

Duryodhana indeed mistook Krishna for an ordinary man. That was the only reason he could even contemplate something as foolish as attempting to bind Krishna. Duryodhana did not know the changeless nature of Krishna. For the Supreme Lord there is no difference between body and spirit.

4. Krishna is the universal form

You can maybe wrap your arms around a single tree, but what about all the trees in the forest? That is impossible. Any sane person would admit this. Shri Krishna appears in a human form, but actually His transcendental body is limitless. He is the entire cosmic manifestation. Through His mercy He appears in a worshipable form, such as the statue in the temple. This is to give delight to the devotees, who are able to recognize Him.

[Lord Krishna]The eyes of the human being are otherwise not capable of understanding God, as He is the complete everything and beyond. After getting word of this ridiculous plan, Krishna decided to show the universal form to Duryodhana. If the fiend wanted to bind Krishna, he could simply go after the Lord’s arms. Oh, but wait. From those arms suddenly appeared many devatas and planets. Duryodhana could go at the legs, but then something else amazing emerged from Krishna’s lower region. In this way Duryodhana got the visual proof that the atheists always insist on when raising doubts about the existence of God. No one is capable of binding the universal form, which is non-different from Krishna.

5. He was not a devotee

An interesting fact is that in His childhood, Krishna was bound one time by mother Yashoda. This was after He had intentionally broken a pot of butter. He ran away, as if scared of the punishment that was sure to come. In that instance Krishna knew He did something wrong. The same person who is the universal form was in the body of a child who could not outrun the mother feverishly pursuing Him.

After Krishna was caught, Yashoda decided to bind Him to a mortar as punishment. The problem was that the rope she used kept ending up two-finger widths short. Seeing her pure devotion and her intense effort, Krishna then agreed to be bound; He allowed the rope to finally be the proper length.

This means that it is possible to bind Krishna. But it can only happen through His sanction. Duryodhana couldn’t tie up the messenger of peace, but Arjuna was able to have Him as the chariot driver during the great Bharata war. From this role Krishna is known by another name: Partha-sarathi. The dichotomy is one worth studying. It represents the massive difference in potency between adharma and dharma. On one side the entire universe remains a dark mystery, while on the other you not only understand the Divine but also get His supreme favor.

In Closing:

When attempt made for Krishna bound,

Universal form in front of him found.


For Duryodhana, following wicked way,

In illusion since adharma at play.


Mother Yashoda once was able to do,

Even after rope coming short finger widths two.


Because for devotee the Lord mercy granting,

In pure love, His names always chanting.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Distant Voices Calling

[Deity found by Madhavendra Puri]“Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu said, ‘Madhavendra Puri was so fortunate that Krishna personally appeared before him on the plea of delivering milk. Three times the Lord gave orders to Madhavendra Puri in dreams.’” (Chaitanya Charitamrita, Madhya, 4.172)

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Friend1: You know, I read a lot about people coming in dreams.

Friend2: What do you mean?

Friend1: So and so wasn’t sure what to do, then suddenly they had a vision in a dream. Like the Madhavendra Puri story.

Friend2: Oh, I didn’t know you were referencing Vedic history.

Friend1: Because typically you would attribute a vision in a dream to illusion. The mind comes up with that stuff.

Friend2: Exactly.

Friend1: I’m assuming it’s not the case with instances where Shri Krishna arrives in the dream and gives instructions, such as where to find His deity and what to do afterwards.

Friend2: How else can you explain it? The acharya Madhavendra hadn’t seen that statue before. He didn’t know where it was. How could his mind have all of a sudden figured out where it was?

Friend1: That’s a good point. It’s just strange, if you think about it. It’s like a distant voice from the past talking to you. Though of course with the Supreme Lord Krishna we’re not really talking about the past or a great distance in time.

[Deity found by Madhavendra Puri]Friend2: Exactly, but you do bring up something interesting. There are distant voices calling; you just have to know where to hear them.

Friend1: Are you talking about psychic powers?

Friend2: Actually, they can be heard simply through reading. We can think of Vedic literature as recorded history. That’s what the Puranas are. They are so old that people from thousands of years ago would hear and tell the stories. There is evidence that Shri Rama, the incarnation of Krishna and hero of the Ramayana, would recite the Puranas to His wife Sita and His younger brother Lakshmana while they were living in the forest. The Puranas would be recited in His kingdom also.

Friend1: Hmm. Isn’t that contradictory?

Friend2: How so?

Friend1: The Puranas include the story of Rama. Indeed, I’m sure in at least one of the Puranas you would find a reference to people reciting the Puranas. Isn’t that circular logic or recursion? I’m not sure the proper term.

Friend2: There is something similar mentioned in the Ramacharitamanasa. In one section you find the description of the marriage ceremony of Mahadeva and Parvati. The famous devata known as Ganesha is their son. Yet in this ceremony the first god worshiped was Ganesha, as per custom.

[Shiva,Parvati,Ganesha]Friend1: Oh. So how do you worship someone who is not even born yet?

Friend2: Exactly. The answer is that the creation goes through cycles, but that Vedic culture is eternal. There is no contradiction, then. Ganesha is always worshiped first in these rituals. Just because he appears later on as the couple’s son doesn’t mean that Ganesha isn’t there beforehand.

Friend1: I see.

Friend2: Anyway, we still have access to the Puranas today. They carry wise instructions, people talking to us, in fact. Their words of wisdom are calling us to action, urging us to make the most of this valuable human form of body. These aren’t tape recordings. They aren’t viral videos. Yet the voices are clear nonetheless, provided one is fortunate enough to know how to hear them.

Friend1: What do you mean? Can’t you just read the books?

Friend2: You have to know the underlying culture. You have to know that the teachings have relevance to all time periods, including the modern day. You have to know how to take the words at face value, not mentally speculating or concocting different meanings. You tap into these distant voices through the help of the spiritual master. They carry the same message, so in one sense they are the same as those distant voices. They give guidance both philosophically and practically.

Friend1: Does the guru come in a dream?

Friend2: You know, some people have told me that they saw their spiritual master in a dream before they even met them. That is indeed possible, then. I feel like I am rambling incoherently now. Anyway, know that the work in devotional service is never lost. You can learn from Parvati’s wedding that occurred thousands of years ago. The teachings of the past acharyas are there to access in either recorded words or the via medium of the guru of the present day, who keeps the chain going. That is the meaning to parampara. You get a link to the past, connecting all the way up to the origin Himself, Shri Krishna.

In Closing:

Of viral video not a need,

Can connect to past indeed.


From recorded history contained,

And highest wisdom gained.


Like sitting with blessed acharya dear,

Their wise instructions coming clear.


Spiritual master teaching connecting way,

Bringing Divine light even to the modern day.