Saturday, August 20, 2016

Five Things I Know Krishna Has Been Right About

[Krishna and Arjuna]“While contemplating the objects of the senses, a person develops attachment for them, and from such attachment lust develops, and from lust anger arises.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.62)

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How do we know that the promise of an afterlife is true? Prominent scientists say that it is a fairytale. Science is the real way to establish the authenticity of something. Observation and experiment. This is what we are told. Of course, easily forgotten is the existence of senses other than sight. Sound gives proof of the birds sitting in the tree. Taste indicates the presence of salt. Touch gives information of other living entities nearby. Smell gives proof that the Spring season has arrived, with the blossoming flowers and the growing grass.

[blossoming flowers]Skepticism as a policy doubts everything that is heard. Yet even the skeptic asks that others believe them based on their word alone. This proves that there is faith extended no matter what. A good way to be certain of the truth of the afterlife is to extend faith to someone who has been right about so many other things. The speaker of the Bhagavad-gita is one such authority figure.

1. The changing of bodies

Krishna tells Arjuna not to lament over impending death. Arjuna is about to embark on a journey that, if successful, will surely lead to others being killed. Those “others” include dear ones, like teachers, friends and family members. The Pandavas are aligned with righteousness, and though being the leading warrior for that side Arjuna is afraid of the consequences.

“As the embodied soul continually passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. The self-realized soul is not bewildered by such a change.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.13)

Krishna explains the truth of reincarnation in a single verse. The embodied soul continually passes. There is boyhood, youth, adulthood, and then old age. We know that those changes occur and that the individual remains the same throughout. Krishna spoke these words five thousand years ago on the battlefield of Kurukshetra. The words were true then and they are true today. We don’t need a microscope to understand. In the same way that the soul continually passes in this life, at death it passes on to another body.

2. Lust leads to anger

In a pre-match interview, a tennis player is calm, kind, and composed. They say nice things about the opponent, they smile, and they behave nicely. A few hours later, that same player is cursing on the court and throwing their racket. Interspersed is yelling, showing lack of control in behavior. The cause is lust, which is known as kama in Sanskrit.

Krishna explains that lust turns into anger. The reason is that material desires often go unmet. In the example of the tennis player, the desire is to play well. That involves hitting the ball in the preferred way. The problem is that the desire is met many times. Just think of how many tennis balls are struck in a match. Then when one or two shots aren’t executed correctly, there is frustration. That anger eventually leads to bewilderment and loss of intelligence. Breaking the racket and screaming out loud will do nothing to change the situation. Yet that is the behavior, and it is due to kama, about which Krishna is correct.

3. Too much eating and too much sleeping is bad

Krishna reveals the process of yoga. This is connecting the individual soul with the Supreme Soul. One consciousness linked to another. The result is blissful, and so every person should strive to be a yogi. The issue is that the result is not easily achieved. Control of the mind is required. To control the mind the senses should be restrained. We can think of the senses like horses, and if they are not restrained they can lead the chariot in all sorts of directions.

“There is no possibility of one's becoming a yogi, O Arjuna, if one eats too much, or eats too little, sleeps too much or does not sleep enough.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 6.16)

Krishna says to be a yogi, a person shouldn’t eat too much or sleep too much. The extreme at the minimum should be avoided, also. Basically, don’t stuff yourself and don’t starve yourself. Sleep a decent amount, but don’t spend the entire day in bed. Based on the focus on health in the modern day, we see that Krishna is indeed correct. Control in eating and sleeping is vital to good health, to extending life.

4. What great men do, others will follow

Arjuna is confused over whether or not to work, which is known as karma. If all results are due to the material nature, why should the living entity act at all? The teaching from Krishna is to follow prescribed duties, but with detachment. This will benefit both the individual and others, for it is known that great men set an example for others.

“Whatever action is performed by a great man, common men follow in his footsteps. And whatever standards he sets by exemplary acts, all the world pursues.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 3.21)

One example given is King Janaka. He was known throughout the world as a transcendentalist. He was Videha, or without a body. Of course he had a physical body, but there was no attachment to it. He was always in yoga. Yet he wasn’t living in a cave. He hadn’t renounced his whole family. He lived as king of Tirahuta, and he faithfully carried out his prescribed duties. Despite being detached from the world, he still had tremendous attachment to his daughter. He named her Sita, and she was the goddess of fortune’s incarnation on earth. Sita is the wife of Rama, and together the pair make an ideal object of worship for those looking for clarity of the afterlife. Rama is the same Krishna, i.e. the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

We know from experience in the present day that people follow what great men do. The “greatness” may come through exceptional ability in athletics, acting, or politics, but there is attention all the same. Thus it becomes important for a leader to show ideal behavior.

5. The spiritual master’s ability to impart wisdom

Though He is God Himself, Krishna plays the role of spiritual master, or guru, to Arjuna. The idea is that man’s mental speculation can only take him so far. There is observation and experiment pertaining to the natural world, but to understand the essence of life the only path is to approach someone who already knows. Transcendental knowledge descends, whereas speculative knowledge ascends.

“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)

[Krishna teaching Arjuna]Approach a spiritual master. The self-realized soul has seen the truth; they are tattva-darshi. By rendering service and inquiring submissively, the guru can impart real knowledge. Krishna gave this recommendation to Arjuna, and we see proof of the claim from many examples subsequent. So many people have approached a spiritual master coming in the line of Arjuna and been saved as a result. They were rescued from the ignorance of maya, or illusion. Their doubts were cleared up. They not only gained firm belief in the afterlife, but they lost all personal desire as well. Through ascending the different stages of spiritual life, they reached the pinnacle, where they only wanted attachment to Krishna and His service, life after life.

In Closing:

How to be sure of afterlife without sight?

Trust Krishna and many times He’s been right.


How detrimental to eat and sleep too much,

And anger coming from kama just a touch.


How the spiritual master real knowledge giving,

Example of reformed souls, past and today living.


People following what great men do,

Like Prabhupada, Janaka and others too.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Five Reasons The Afterlife Is Not A Fairytale

[Changing bodies]“The preliminary instruction in the Bhagavad-gita is that one should know that the identity of the individual living entity is not lost even after the end of this present body, which is nothing but an outward dress only. As one changes an old garment, so the individual living being also changes his body, and this change of body is called death. Death is therefore a process of changing the body at the end of the duration of the present life. An intelligent person must be prepared for this and must try to have the best type of body in the next life.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 2.1.15)

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After I pass on, where will I go? Is this life the only one we get? If so, what is the meaning? If everything ends at death, what is the difference between a person who works hard and a person who doesn’t? Why bother putting in the effort? Will there be a board to judge my actions? Will they determine whether I am going to heaven or hell?

There is speculation on all sides of the issue. One viewpoint is that you must worship so and so or suffer eternal damnation. You will go to hell and stay there forever. This human life, with the circumstances chosen at random, is your one chance to get it right. If you screw up you are out of luck. If some accident, something out of your control, prevents you from making the rational decision in adulthood, then we’re not sure what happens to you.

Another viewpoint says that heaven is just a fairytale. The concept is a coping mechanism, for explaining that which cannot be explained. Better to make advancements in science, as thus far science has debunked so many myths forwarded by established religions. Better to prolong life as much as possible, as the end is just that, the finishing point.

The spiritual science that is the Vedas provides clarity on the issue. The teachings descend from authority; they are not simply devised in the mind. There is enough nuance and detail to challenge the thinking capacity of the amazing human brain. There is some faith extended as well, but that is the case when accepting any important information.

1. The present is not fake

You are living right now. So am I. Both of us are real. We know this based on sense perception. Sight is not everything, either. A blind person knows they are alive just as much as someone with functioning eyes. We may not remember things from the past, but the lack of memory isn’t sufficient grounds for disqualifying the past existence altogether. Just as we are living now, we will continue to live in the future.

2. Today is the future to some point in the past

We’ve established that the present is not fake. The Mayavadi philosopher’s arguing otherwise is a separate issue, touching on illusion and the reality of the spirit soul, who is Brahman. The present is actually the afterlife to some point in the past.

Let’s pretend today is a Saturday. Someone tells me that they’re going to have to go back to work on Monday. I challenge them that Monday is a fairytale, some dream of an afterlife. They think that I am crazy. Monday has not come yet, but it is the future nonetheless. Saturday was the afterlife a few days ago. It arrived. This means that the future is not a fairytale. The afterlife is simply a point in time in the future.

3. The soul lives on through different changes

This is the fundamental truth of the science of self-realization. The living being is spirit and not their body. The body changes, but the spirit does not. This truth is told by Shri Krishna using the comparison of the different stages of life for the human being.

“As the embodied soul continually passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. The self-realized soul is not bewildered by such a change.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.13)

[the changing body]The conclusion is that the soul passes on into another body at death. That is the issue disputed by the less intelligent. They consider the final passing to be a fairytale. But we know that the first part is not. The soul has already continually passed within this lifetime. I have a completely different body today compared to when I first emerged from the womb. Yet my identity has not changed. Indeed, the identity never changes, despite what happens to the body. The reason is the constant factor that is the soul. The sober person, dhira, is not bewildered by such a change, which continues at the time of death.

4. We already have experience with variations of heaven and hell

The fairytale claim takes particular aim at the concept of heaven, which is supposed to be a place superior to earth. Heaven is eternal bliss, though there aren’t many details provided. The picture is cloudy, so to speak. Hell is supposed to be the opposite; no fun at all.

The Vedas provide the complete picture. Heaven and hell are realms, just like the earth. The difference is in experience pertaining to material life. Heaven is full of delights, while hell is full of suffering. Residence in either place is not permanent. Pious activities buy you time in heaven, and sin earns you a term of punishment in hell.

Yet there are tastes of heaven and hell already available on earth. It is heavenly to drink a cold glass of water when thirsty on a hot summer day. It is hellish to suffer the bitter cold of winter. Association of close friends and family is heavenly, while losing them forever is pain and torture. The afterlife, which is nothing more than the soul moving to a different body and a different location, is a continuation of the life in duality. The good life is heaven and the bad hell, but either way the soul must again change bodies. It may end up in the earthly realm again.

5. Krishna says so, and He has been right about so many other things

Shri Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead; God in the flesh. His word on all matters is sufficient, including in establishing authority. Krishna is purna, or complete, which means that His teachings go beyond anything else that is taught. His direct teachings are found in the Bhagavad-gita, which reads like a transcript of a conversation. Krishna and Arjuna are the participants.

Krishna explains the afterlife, but also much more. We don’t know the future, so we can’t be certain about it. We know that Krishna is correct about the changing of bodies. We have personal experience to use as proof. We know that He is right about lust leading to anger and loss of intelligence; that explains why people do stupid things. We know that He is right about the benefits of working with detachment, for we know that attachment leads to misery even when there is success.

[spiritual planets]There has to be some faith extended; otherwise no one would live. We trust the news reports. We trust the testimony of others contained in books. There is always a risk in extending faith, so the safest path is to put faith in people who have been right, i.e. authority figures. Shri Krishna is the supreme authority figure, and He says that the afterlife is real. He provides details about it. He also says that bhakti-yoga, devotional service, which brings among other things full knowledge of Himself, stops rebirth. The afterlife for the yogi in devotion is the association of Shri Krishna. Just as the living entities are eternal, so is Krishna, which means that the liberation involving His association lasts forever. It is the final afterlife.

In Closing:

Afterlife just another fairytale we’re told,

No proof, no way to witness it unfold.


Better on advancements of science to rely,

Than on reaching heaven to try.


Truth of the matter from Vedas getting,

That changing body, at time of death resetting.


Future just another point in time,

Today soon the past, identity same to find.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Five Ways To Understand Luck

[Krishna's lotus feet]“The word 'sukriti' refers to pious activities performed by the mercy of Krishna. One who is fortunate enough to obtain such mercy receives the remnants of the Lord's food and thus becomes glorious.” (Lord Chaitanya, Chaitanya Charitamrita, Antya 16.100)

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“You didn’t build that. You are so proud of your accomplishments, but let’s be honest for a second. There was a lot of luck involved. Others work just as hard as you but don’t have the same results to show for it. Some people don’t even get the chance to make it out of the womb. So please, spare me the lecture on hard work and perseverance. Don’t tell me that God somehow chose you to be successful, because then that means others have been condemned by Him.”

Some will agree with this viewpoint, while others will become angry after hearing it. Surely there are fortunate occurrences in outcomes, but if everything was up to luck why would anyone work? Just sit around and wait for good things to happen. To deny the influence of work is to encourage laziness.

Fortunately, there is the spiritual science to consult. Not merely religion that relies solely on blind faith. Not merely preaching to scare the population into submission. Vedanta is the conclusion of conclusions. It is the end of knowledge, and it is a science with principles that can be understood by the rational human being. It covers the entire scope of an existence, the issue of luck included.

1. Karma

This Sanskrit word means “work.” More specifically, it is work that has consequences relating to a material body. It can also mean “prescribed duties,” but even that meaning is basically the same as the rest. If you do something that you’re supposed to do, you’re essentially creating a positive consequence in the future. You’re improving the situation of the material body.

Of course not all consequences are positive. Karma is any work, and so in a land where there is some independence for the living entity, there is always the option to choose unwisely. If in anger I kick my foot into a wall, I will get the negative reaction of pain. Sometimes the reaction doesn’t arrive right away. Shri Rama explained this one time to a bad character named Khara.

“Just as a tree starts to blossom during the proper season, so the doer of sinful deeds inevitably reaps the horrible fruit of their actions at the appropriate time.” (Lord Rama speaking to Khara, Valmiki Ramayana, Aranya Kand, 29.8)

When we see someone who is lucky, it means that they did something in the past that created good karma. It is merely the fact. Time continues to move forward, so karma can always change. You can do something to have good luck going forward. The person who is supposedly lucky today might not remain so going forward.

2. Daivam

This is the closest equivalent in Sanskrit to the concept of Providence. Daivam is generally translated as “destiny,” but at the root level it refers to something divine. That which is out of our control is daivam. It is from a higher power.

There is no doubt that daivam has a role in luck because there is so much beyond our capabilities. We didn’t create this universe. The mental speculator, sometimes even relying on the visuals of modern science, will say that in the beginning chemicals collided to create the universe, with the beings evolving over time. Of course there is no explanation for the origin of the chemicals. Moreover, there is no experience anywhere of randomness leading to intelligence. The universe operates on intelligence, so much so that if there is the slightest deviation in the patterns of nature man thinks that somehow he is responsible.

Daivam and karma are not necessarily mutually exclusive. There is action and reaction, cause and effect. Yet something is still needed for the effects to manifest. Shri Krishna explains in the Bhagavad-gita that the living entity is not the doer, since material nature allows for the results to actions.

“The bewildered spirit soul, under the influence of the three modes of material nature, thinks himself to be the doer of activities, which are in actuality carried out by nature.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 3.27)

3. The threefold miseries of life

Natural disasters. Aggressors. Disease, including mental. These three factors can get in the way of even the most carefully thought out plans. The rainstorm prevents me from playing tennis outside. Foreign invaders prevent the peace and prosperity of the nation. Disease diminishes my abilities to the point that I may not even be able to get out of bed.

The threefold miseries of life work in concert with karma and daivam. Basically, no result can occur without outside help. Even something as simple as reaching the office in the morning is not completely in my hands. I don’t know for sure that others will obey the traffic laws on the road. I don’t know if my car will continue to work, and I can’t control the weather.

4. The goddess of fortune

Known in the Vedic tradition as Lakshmi Devi, she is the wife of the Supreme Lord. Despite her intimate connection with God the person, she can expand herself and come to the home of any person. This is why we sometimes see that people of bad character have lots of wealth. A notable example from history is Ravana, the king of Lanka. He literally stole Lakshmi, who was on earth in the incarnation known as Sita Devi.

If a person is blessed with Lakshmi but keeps her separate from her husband, the end result is disastrous. That is what happened to Ravana. He was literally destroyed by Sita’s husband Rama. The idea is that good fortune is a blessing to be used to increase consciousness of God the person. That is why the human birth is considered a boon. Otherwise, the human existence is actually more miserable than animal life. At least as an animal there is no worry about paying the bills. There is no long-term dejection over failure.

5. Sukriti

Meritorious credits. Think of having done something good a while back and getting rewarded for it later on. You may not have even known that what you did was good. Perhaps you saved a cat from a tree. Maybe you helped an elderly lady cross the street. Then later on, without even remembering the initial incident, you get rewarded.

[Krishna's lotus feet]Sukriti is the way to come to spiritual life. Simply visiting a temple dedicated to God the person and offering obeisances creates sukriti. Since it may not be known, it is called ajnata-sukriti. Any person who is dedicated to the Supreme Personality of Godhead and stays connected with Him through bhakti-yoga, devotional service, did something to get meritorious credits. The first indication is the meeting with the spiritual master, who is God’s representative. They can properly explain luck and beyond. The luckiest person is one who has met the guru and decided to hear from them with an open mind. Taking up devotion to God, they have made the most of all the cooperative factors that contributed to their good luck.

In Closing:

Luck be on my side tonight,

So that future to always remain bright.


But in every case working out not,

Some succeed, others failure have got.


As karma and destiny in Vedas explained,

Also when Lakshmi’s favor is gained.


Sukriti meritorious credits getting,

Blessed in devotion, material life forgetting.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Five Wise Men Who Speak With Conviction

[Shri Hanuman]"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)

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To change from the default condition of sense enjoyer to the eternal occupation of servant to the Supreme Personality of Godhead is not easy. After all, in the material world to find a self-realized soul is rare. It can take many lifetimes before a person understands the Divine in truth.

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

One of the meanings to the Sanskrit word sadhu is “one who cuts.” There is a thick knot of nescience that has a firm grip on the otherwise pure consciousness. To cut through, the strong words of the sadhu are necessary. The sadhu is not merely a wandering mendicant. They run on a line parallel to both shastra and guru, which are scripture and spiritual master respectively.

These three speak the same message: turn away from the material and go towards the spiritual. The message is often delivered strongly, as the persuasion is not done through empty words. The person who is devoted to the Supreme Lord, the bhakta, speaks with conviction, as seen from several notable examples in history.

1. Prahlada Maharaja

Children in school look forward to recess. They go to school likely at the insistence of the parents, which means that if it were up to them, they wouldn’t sit in a classroom all day and learn important things like reading and writing. When let out from the prison-like environment, it makes sense if they would choose to run around and play.

Prahlada Maharaja was different. He took advantage of the break from the teachers to offer his own instruction. This wasn’t merely about what type of game to play or what food to enjoy at home. He spoke the highest wisdom, highlighting the futility of seeking after material sense gratification, economic development, ordinary religion, and the release from the cycle of birth and death. He spoke with conviction of the need to make the most of the human form of life, to become conscious of the Divine, who is all-pervading.

Prahlada’s belief was so strong that not even his powerful father could stop him. The father sure did try, employing deadly force on several occasions. The five-year old boy accepted the speaking platform after having heard everything necessary from his own teacher, Narada Muni. Prahlada heard from the saint while in the womb of his mother, and he retained the knowledge after birth.

2. Shri Hanuman

The chief minister to the Vanara-king Sugriva impressed Shri Rama and Lakshmana during the very first meeting. Though ordered to descend Mount Rishyamukha and learn what the two brothers were doing in the forest of Kishkindha, Hanuman ended up praising Rama with wonderful Sanskrit verses, composed on the fly. The delivery, presentation and content were flawless, as assessed by Rama Himself.

“His words - which were succinct, beyond all suspicion, pleasant, and delivered in a mild tone - flowed easily from his throat and chest.” (Lord Rama speaking to Lakshmana, Valmiki Ramayana, Kishkindha Kand, 3.31)

[Shri Hanuman]A friendship was then formed, and Hanuman went on to perform heroic acts in service of Rama, who is an incarnation of the Supreme Lord. Though being known for his deeds, Hanuman’s words are just as powerful. He follows the same devotion as Prahlada, and he is not shy to speak the truth when the situation calls for it. One instance was after the brother of Sugriva was killed. Named Vali, he lay on the ground after being shot by Rama’s arrow. Vali’s wife Tara then began to lament, to which Hanuman interjected with appropriate words of wisdom. He explained that the body of the living entity is like a bubble. This means that a person should not feel sorry for anyone else; death can come at any moment. The bubble is liable to burst without prior notice.

3. Shukadeva Gosvami

Due to a curse a pious king named Parikshit had only seven days to live. Parikshit had the special ability to either return a curse himself or find ways to extend his life. He chose instead to simply sit down and listen to the most important knowledge. What he received was the cream of Vedic wisdom, the Shrimad Bhagavatam.

This was delivered by Shukadeva Gosvami, the son of Vyasadeva. One of the twelve mahajanas, or authorities on devotional service mentioned by the god of justice, Shukadeva spoke with conviction, dedicating a considerable amount of time to explaining the Supreme, Ishvara, and how His different energies act. He also explained where the living entities fall into the picture.

Being the good listener he was, Parikshit continued to ask valuable questions. The wise teacher responded by answering satisfactorily. Shukadeva knows that even the joy of merging into the Absolute, brahmananda, is nothing compared to the feeling resulting from surrendering to the Supreme Lord in service. Just from hearing Shukadeva, Parikshit achieved perfection. The best was saved for last, as in the concluding sections of the talk Parikshit heard about the Supreme Lord’s pastimes in His original form of Shri Krishna, who is all-attractive.

4. Bhishmadeva

Prahlada was five years old. Hanuman had the body of a monkey. Shukadeva had the head of a parrot. The wise souls who speak on Vedic wisdom can be found in any circumstance and any body type. Another example is Bhishmadeva. When he spoke with conviction on the highest subject matter, he was lying on the battlefield, his body filled with arrows. He was on the precipice of death, but he had a few things he wanted to say before leaving.

The Pandava brothers, who were on the victorious side, gathered around their grandfather to hear from him. Though Bhishmadeva fought for the other side, he was still a devoted soul. He was not against Krishna. Indeed, he spoke directly about so many important topics, including Krishna Himself, while just about to leave his body. He instructed the eldest of the Pandava brothers, Yudhishthira, on statesmanship and how to behave going forward, when the kingdom that was rightfully his would once again be under his control.

5. Shri Krishna

Sadhu-shastra-guru run on parallel lines since they all speak of the importance of the Supreme Lord. It makes sense, then, that God Himself would be the best teacher. He is the adi-guru, or original spiritual master. He has spoken the highest wisdom with conviction on many an occasion, as both He and His Vedas are timeless.

The most well-known instance of His offering instruction was on the same battlefield of Kurukshetra, just prior to the war’s commencement. His words were directed to Arjuna, the best fighter among the Pandava brothers. Like Shukadeva speaking to the disciple Parikshit, Krishna removed any doubts Arjuna may have had. On the pretense of doubt over moving forward with the conflict, Arjuna gave Krishna the opportunity to help countless future generations get through the difficult journey of life. Though the talk was short, Krishna covered every important topic. Time, karma, the living entity, the material nature, and the Supreme Himself were discussed. At the conclusion, Arjuna was no longer in doubt.

In Closing:

To wise men with conviction speaking,

Approach when highest wisdom seeking.


In any body type and age can be found,

Prahlada as child, Bhishma on the ground.


Message delivered always the same,

On importance of God and His holy name.


The Lord Himself their devotion to protect,

So no fear, with confidence to project.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

How Is It Possible That A Devotee Has No Enemies?

[Yudhishthira hearing from Bhishma]“The symptoms of a sadhu are that he is tolerant, merciful and friendly to all living entities. He has no enemies, he is peaceful, he abides by the scriptures, and all his characteristics are sublime.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 3.25.21)

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Friend1: Do you know any people that are liked by everyone?

Friend2: Liked or just not disliked?

Friend1: Someone who is popular. If you were to search for someone who didn’t like them, you would have a difficult time.

Friend2: Absolutely. I mean, not you of course. I think pretty much everyone hates you.

Friend1: [laughs] That was good.

Friend2: Where is this coming from? Trying to become more popular?

Friend1: I read that one of the qualities of a devotee is that he has no enemies. I’m trying to understand how that could be.

Friend2: There is the example of King Yudhishthira. One of his names is ajata-shatru. This means “a person whose enemy was never born.”

[Yudhishthira hearing from Bhishma]Friend1: I was going to bring him up. I’ve heard that name before.

Friend2: Okay.

Friend1: There is that saying, though, which contradicts what we’re talking about. “You can please some of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time.”

Friend2: Right, that makes sense.

Friend1: Kama.

Friend2: Exactly. Activities in sense gratification never bring full satisfaction. It’s like stoking a fire. You think you’re extinguishing the fire of desire, but actually you’re just making it worse.

Friend1: I would think this is especially applicable to children. If you keep giving them stuff, you’ll spoil them. They won’t appreciate you more, either, because the one time that you can’t deliver they will become extremely agitated.

Friend2: That’s true. Still, the saying you referenced is of a different nature, I think.

Friend1: How so?

Friend2: Pleasing people and having no enemies are two different things. There are things that you do to create enemies. For instance, if I want to take something that rightfully belongs to you, that creates enmity. If I view you as an enemy, then right there I’ve automatically created one.

Friend1: So you’re saying that the eldest Pandava brother never acted in a way that would create an enemy?

Friend2: There you go. He was sinless. It makes sense considering that he was the son of Dharma, or righteousness.

Friend1: I could see people being confused here. Yudhishthira is ajata-shatru, and yet he is known for being victorious in one of the greatest wars of all-time.

Friend2: He never viewed anyone as his enemy. He did not think, “This person is my rival. I hate that person.” In fact, he was quite remorseful after the war, even though he had done nothing wrong. He and his side were defending righteousness. It was their duty as members of the kshatriya order.

Friend1: I’m assuming the same applies to devotees in general. They don’t view anyone as their enemy.

Friend2: That is the qualification to strive for. It’s difficult to acquire. So many people get in our way. There are many obstacles in life. The adhibhautika miseries are there; coming from other living entities. It’s not easy to tolerate. Through wisdom, from progression in purification of consciousness, we begin to see that there is no reason to have enemies. Everyone is in the same struggle. Even if we have to quarrel with someone in order to accomplish a task, we shouldn’t harbor ill will going forward.

Friend1: I see.

Friend2: The Supreme Lord Krishna is ajata-shatru as well. Even though He fights demons like Ravana and Hiranyakashipu, it doesn’t mean that He hates these guys forever.

“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)

He is neutral towards everyone. He gives special favor to the devotees, since they serve Him.

In Closing:

Yudhishthira never an enemy to see,

How could this possibly be?


Ajata-shatru, in this world never born,

But fought in war of many bodies torn.


Devotees acting in friendly ways towards all,

Never another their mortal enemy to call.


Like with Krishna with an equal eye viewing.

And friendly when souls service to Him renewing.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Five Reasons Krishna Is Known As Partha-sarathi

[Krishna and Arjuna]“Since God is unlimited, His names also must be unlimited. Therefore we cannot settle on one name. For instance, Krishna is sometimes called Yashoda-nandana, the son of mother Yashoda; or Devaki-nandana, the son of Devaki; or Vasudeva-nandana, the son of Vasudeva; or Nanda-nandana, the son of Nanda. Sometimes He is called Partha-sarathi, indicating that He acted as the charioteer of Arjuna, who is sometimes called Partha, the son of Pritha.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Science of Self-Realization, Ch 1c)

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Ishvara. This means “great controller.” Parameshvara. This has a similar meaning, but with more emphasis on the “supreme” aspect. There are many ishvaras, especially depending on the context. Parameshvara is the supreme amongst all controllers. Bhagavan. This word means that the Almighty has every opulence in full. He is both the greatest enjoyer and the person possessing the most renunciation. He has the most wealth imaginable, aishvarya. Yet He is also the most detached, vairagya.

These names of Sanskrit origin make sense in being applied to the person most of the world refers to as “God.” Since He is a distinct personality, another name is Purushottama. This means “the topmost person.” What about Partha-sarathi? How could this name ever apply to someone who is the greatest of all fragments of spirit, Parabrahman Himself?

1. He is partial to the sons of Pritha

Svayam-bhagavan is Shri Krishna. He is God Himself. The others are personal expansions of either partial or complete potency. In simpler terms, whether you take God as Vishnu, Rama, Krishna, or Narasimha, know that they are identical. Still, authorized works like the Shrimad Bhagavatam and Mahabharata say that Krishna is the original, the first candle from which the identical candles are lit.

In His earthly pastimes, the Supreme Controller Shri Krishna offers the role of father to a man named Vasudeva. Kunti Devi is Vasudeva’s sister, and she is married to Pandu. Pandu has five sons, who are thus known as the Pandavas. The notable distinction with Kunti Devi is that she is a devotee of Krishna. Her interest is in the pleasure of the Supreme Lord, who is related to her through Vasudeva.

From that devotion she automatically acquires all good qualities, such as humility, kindness, tolerance, and perseverance. Pritha is another name for Kunti Devi, and the name Partha means “son of Pritha.” Partha-sarathi thus references the link of the Pandavas to Kunti, who is very dear to Krishna.

The plight of the Pandavas is the main storyline in the lengthy Vedic text known as the Mahabharata. That story features many great fighters and personalities. As God, Shri Krishna is automatically neutral. Yet at the same time He is still partial to Kunti Devi, who always thinks of Him in a mood of love and devotion. By extension, Krishna is then partial to Kunti’s sons, who are addressed as Partha. In the most common usage, the name refers to the bow-warrior Arjuna, but any of Kunti’s sons can be addressed with the same name.

2. He is the chariot driver on the battlefield

[Krishna and Arjuna]The second term in the name literally refers to a chariot driver. Krishna is the charioteer of Partha, who is Arjuna. The climax of the Mahabharata story is the great war between the two sides, the Kauravas and the Pandavas. Krishna never encourages war, as man should be able to settle their disputes peacefully. Still, sometimes the aggressors will not listen to sound logic and reasoning. When Krishna made a last ditch effort at peace, the leader of the Kauravas thought about binding Him as a way to dishearten the Pandavas. The fool, who was named Duryodhana, didn’t realize Krishna’s divine nature, despite everyone around him informing him of the fact. In the ensuing war, Krishna accepted the role of Arjuna’s chariot driver.

3. He gives direction to Arjuna

His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada would end his letters with the words, “your ever well-wisher.” As the spiritual master, a representative of Krishna, this was indeed accurate. The role is inherited from the Supreme Lord Himself, who always wishes well for the countless living entities that spring from Him.

In the literal sense, Krishna is the well-wisher to Arjuna through providing direction. Arjuna tells Krishna where to steer the chariot, and Krishna sanctions the decision. But if Arjuna ever becomes hesitant, the Supreme Lord is ready to step in and provide the proper direction. Partha-sarathi means that Krishna, as the well-wishing friend of the devotee Arjuna, never allows the surrendered soul to veer off the path of righteousness.

4. He is like the guru steering in the right direction

Though Krishna drives the chariot, when Arjuna needs instruction the Supreme Lord gladly takes on the role of spiritual master. Krishna is the adi-guru, or the origin of all spiritual teachers. He first instructed the spiritual science to the sun-god, Vivasvan, at the beginning of the creation. Though Arjuna still existed at that time, he could not remember.

“The Blessed Lord said: I instructed this imperishable science of yoga to the sun-god, Vivasvan, and Vivasvan instructed it to Manu, the father of mankind, and Manu in turn instructed it to Ikshvaku.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.1)

Man thinks they are in control of their fortunes. They are purusha at the local level. I make the decision to get up in the morning, and from that decision success happens. What I don’t realize is that I need the sanction of higher authorities for any result to occur. I am not the doer. The ultimate sanctioning authority is the Supreme Lord, who rests within the heart as the Supersoul.

As the charioteer for Arjuna, He sanctions whatever decisions Arjuna makes. Still, as the well-wishing friend, He is ready to provide instruction when asked. This is because Arjuna is a devotee. Arjuna does not challenge Krishna. He does not demand that Krishna prove to Him every truth that is presented in the spiritual science. Rather, Arjuna inquires submissively and renders service through intelligent questions, with Krishna happily obliging.

5. He is controlled by the devotee

Janmady asya yatah. From the Supreme Lord everything has come. This automatically makes Him the most powerful person. Knowledge of this is the cause of the transcendental mellow known as shanta-rasa, which is the mood of neutrality, worshiping in awe and reverence. Basically, if you are a God-fearing person or someone who is taken by God’s amazing opulence, you are in this mellow.

[Radha-Krishna]The name Partha-sarathi reveals that there can be more to the relationship with God than just appreciation. He is so kind that He voluntarily accepts a typically subordinate role in order to please His devotee. Indeed, in the highest stages of devotion the Supreme Lord comes under the control of the devotee. Parameshvara happily agrees to whatever the devotee wants. We see this in the relationship with Shrimati Radharani, who is the feminine aspect to the singular Divine. She pokes fun at Krishna, chastises Him, and does anything but treat Him with great respect. And yet Krishna appreciates her service the most. He comes under the control of the devotees, which is another indication of the potency of bhakti-yoga.

In Closing:

Without father, but Pandavas never alone,

Krishna their well-wisher, as Partha-sarathi is known.


Arjuna fighting, chariot Supreme Lord steering,

When doubtful, Partha’s ignorance clearing.


Despite by default neutral to all,

Kunti’s sons as friend to call.


Shanta-rasa, beyond appreciation can go,

Krishna coming under your control even so.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Potential For Enjoyment

[Shrila Prabhupada]“Materialistic persons, who are too much engaged in material enjoyment and who do not know anything beyond their material experiences, are carried by the whims of material nature. They live a life characterized by chewing the chewed, and they are controlled by their uncontrolled senses. Thus they go down to the darkest regions of hellish life.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 4.26.8 Purport)

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Question: “I’m familiar with the assessment of material life made by Prahlada Maharaja, the five-year old son of the king Hiranyakashipu. Namely, the part about chewing the chewed, how man seeks enjoyment in things that don’t have any taste to give - from studying the issue it makes sense. What I’m puzzled over, however, is why man would continue down this line? They know there is no taste left, so why do the same thing over and over again?”

Matter is dull and lifeless. Spirit is the opposite. It is the very definition of life. You cannot have a living thing without the presence of spirit. The fundamental difference is consciousness. A living thing, spirit, has consciousness, whereas matter does not.

Material life is where the spark of spirit, the animating force within a body, accepts a temporary material covering that then leads to a false identification. We can think of it like someone putting on a uniform for playing on a team and then never taking that uniform off. The football player isn’t identified as such at home, where they may be the husband or the father. To constantly wear the uniform is silly, as the identification as athlete is meant to only be temporary.

Material life is like falsely identifying all the time. With an incorrect sense of identity, the activities engaged in are not superior. They are inferior, meaning the enjoyment is also second class. The purpose to an existence is to feel pleasure, after all. The Sanskrit word is ananda, which means “bliss.” Ananda is an integral aspect of spirit; ananda-mayo ’bhyasat.

A long time back the son of a king compared material life to chewing the chewed. We can think of the dog trying to extract taste from a bone that doesn’t have any food to give. The bone is dry. Yet the dog continues to try, and then other dogs come to fight for the same bone.

The struggles continue even in the more intelligent human species due to the potential for enjoyment.

“I had a bitter experience the last time I played blackjack, but maybe this time it will be different. Maybe I will win.”

“Oh, I won that one time, and afterwards I still didn’t have peace of mind. But anyway, there is nothing better to do. Rather than sit around and do nothing, let me pass the time in excitement.”

The excitement resulting from the potential for enjoyment erases the previous memory contradicting the same. The way out of the ignorance and into the light is proper identification. This comes only through the spiritual science, which must be learned from a higher authority. Through enough personal experience and self-analysis, we can maybe come to the conclusion that all human beings are struggling through the same existence. We can appreciate the other species for their struggles as well, but proper identification will not come.

“The humble sage, by virtue of true knowledge, sees with equal vision a learned and gentle brahmana, a cow, an elephant, a dog and a dog-eater [outcaste] .” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 5.18)

[Shrila Prabhupada]The spiritual master has it on good authority that the individual is spirit soul, part and parcel of the complete collection of spirit that is Brahman. That authority is the highest, since it descends from the original person, adi-purusha. The guru opens our eyes and fills our heart with transcendental knowledge. The temporary identifications are the result of mundane knowledge, whose significance does not span beyond the present lifetime. Transcendental knowledge is for lifetime after lifetime.

The proper assessment of chewing the chewed is but one benefit from receiving this knowledge. With proper identification, I can engage in activities that will benefit me each time I try them. Even if I fall back into illusion, forgetting my real identity after having learned it, the time spent in the transcendental light will pay dividends at some point in the future. That which is already chewed will no longer give me enjoyment. I will have to trick myself in order to jump in again. Whereas in spiritual life, the more knowledgeable I am, the more enjoyment I continue to find.

The individual is intimately tied to the Supreme Spirit, who is also known as God. Service to the Divine is full of taste. Just like His transcendental form, which is ever fresh and new, there can never be enough bliss in surrender, or sharanagati. There is real potential for enjoyment every time a sincere attempt is made at connection, which is known as yoga. A single time chanting the holy names found in the maha-mantra brings a higher taste to be relished for a lifetime: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

In Closing:

Tremendous bliss to find,

By holy names chanted just one time.


Not like with material activities a waste,

Chewing the chewed, no longer a taste.


Potential there, maybe to find,

Engaging only after tricking the mind.


Higher taste from getting knowledge real,

Bhakti’s bliss more and more to feel.