Saturday, September 3, 2016

Five Ways To React If Your God Fails You

[Lord Krishna]“A person who has broader intelligence, whether he be full of all material desire, without any material desire, or desiring liberation, must by all means worship the supreme whole, the Personality of Godhead.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 2.3.10)

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You really wanted something. You had to have it. It was important to you. You played everything right. You were careful not to sin during the period in question; at least based on what you know of sin. You approached the Almighty for help. You knew that it was a big thing, that so many factors were out of your hands. You couldn’t influence everything. Divine intervention was necessary.

The outcome? What you prayed for didn’t occur. God failed, if you will. Considering there are many millions of human beings who have prayed over the course of recorded history, this scenario is not impossible to relate to. There are different ways to respond, and reviewing some of the options helps to determine the proper path moving forward.

1. Get angry

God is supposed to be dependable. He is all-pervading. The Sanskrit word is antaryami. He accomplishes this through the expansion known as the Supersoul. The Supreme Lord is always with me in the heart. The presence is there regardless of the type of body I have. Time has no bearing. Whether I am in the body of an infant, living through adulthood, or ready to quit the body and move on to another, the Supersoul is there. It is known as Paramatma, supreme compared to the individual soul, jivatma.

As He is powerful enough to travel with me, He should deliver when asked nicely. If He doesn’t, I have justification for getting upset. At least this is the way I think. My mindset is that if He fails me after I was nice enough to approach Him, He deserves my disdain.

2. Vow revenge

The Bhagavad-gita describes the dangerous path of succumbing to kama, which can translate to “lust.” I lust after something. If I don’t get it, there is frustration. Frustration naturally leads to anger. That is not the end, however.

“From anger, delusion arises, and from delusion bewilderment of memory. When memory is bewildered, intelligence is lost, and when intelligence is lost, one falls down again into the material pool.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.63)

Anger leads to loss of intelligence. One sign is the vow to take revenge on the Almighty. First I prayed to Him because I knew that He is capable of coming through. When He supposedly fails, I vow to get even with Him. One way is to forget about Him entirely. Another is to speak ill of Him to others. One time a great devotee took revenge by cursing the Supreme Lord to appear on earth as a human being and be forced to live separately from His beautiful and chaste wife. This devotee was so dear to God that the curse stayed true, even though the Supreme Lord is never obligated to listen to anyone.

3. Turn to another God

This is another indication of a loss of intelligence. Perhaps in the first place the understanding was unclear; therefore I went to a specific god in hopes of getting what I wanted. He failed me, so now I am moving on to someone else. The first store promised that a specific item was in stock, but after I placed the order and handed over the money, they never gave the item. They didn’t return the money, either. They cheated me.

Of course the proper understanding is that there can only be one God. The definition of the Almighty alone proves this. He is the origin of everything. He is the supreme eternal among all eternal beings. He is supporting them as well. Nityo nityanam, chetanash chetananam. If I turn to another god, it means that I don’t really understand God. If I turn to another heavenly figure, it means that I never approached the Supreme Lord in the first place; just an incorrect conception of Him.

4. Ask again

Maybe I didn’t deserve to get what I asked for. Maybe God didn’t hear me. He was busy with the other requests flooding in. Never mind, as I have nowhere else to turn. Let me just ask again. Perhaps this time He will come through for me.

5. Assess the outcome; maybe His failure was for my benefit

Perhaps what I asked for wasn’t good for me. Haven’t I made mistakes in the past? Didn’t my parents have to deny so many of my requests when I was younger? Aren’t I now thankful for their oversight? Didn’t it benefit me in the long run?

The Supreme Lord, who is known as Krishna because of His all-attractiveness, assesses the requests of the devotees. Even if they are full of material desires, He still listens. It is not that He automatically rejects or accepts proposals. This is His special mercy. He will say “no” if that is what is best for the devotee. For this reason people of all persuasions, whether they are free of desires, full of them, or wanting release from the cycle of birth and death, should approach Krishna.

When they go to other gods, who are actually just elevated living entities residing in the heavenly region, they may get what they want. The demigods are empowered in this way; first come, first serve. They can give everything possible to be had in a material existence, up to immortality.

[Lord Krishna]History has shown powerful kings who received amazing boons were still left unsatisfied. They were still victims to kama, lust. Their requests weren’t denied; there wasn’t discretion on the part of the benefactors. This is because the Supreme Lord, God the person, was not approached. Another way to know that He is supreme is the fact that He sometimes fails to deliver.

In Closing:

After with conviction prayer to do,

No result, God failed to come through.


Angry one option to be,

Revenge, with disdain to see.


Maybe better luck with another,

So many gods, one better than the other?


Wise assessing the rejection,

See benefit in bhakti’s direction.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Five Ways Becoming Modern Helps Us Forget Our Future

[Krishna's lotus feet]“I am seated in everyone's heart, and from Me come remembrance, knowledge and forgetfulness. By all the Vedas am I to be known; indeed I am the compiler of Vedanta, and I am the knower of the Vedas.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 15.15)

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Remembrance and forgetfulness. The first is knowledge, the second is ignorance. From the authorized words of the Bhagavad-gita, we know that both are due to Shri Krishna. It is not that He turns the living entities into puppets, robots without a mind of their own. Rather, the two events are triggered by internal desire. The actor on the stage intends to deliver such a performance that we forget they are an actor who is delivering scripted lines. They do their work at the desire of the audience. Without an audience, there really is no performance.

Vedic philosophy focuses on remembrance. Become knowledgeable about important things, and then always remember them. Keep remembering until the time of death, for that is very important. Modernization brings advancement in conveniences, but there are drawbacks as well. There is increased forgetfulness of the future.

1. I think I can fulfill kama

    • Just one more slice of pizza. It won’t kill me.
    • Yesterday I played tennis very well, so today I expect the same. Then I will be happy.
    • My current job is not cutting it. Let me quit and move on to something else.
    • The spark is gone with my significant other. Let’s break up. I’ll move on to someone else.

In Sanskrit material desire is known as kama. Another translation is “lust.” The idea is that kama can never be fulfilled. It’s like scratching an itch that only gets more inflamed as a result. Modernization ties directly to kama. I should be happy that I have over five hundred television channels to watch, but if something goes wrong in the signal for a few hours, I am so frustrated. I am more unhappy than I would have been if I never had the channels to begin with.

To think that kama can be fulfilled is to be in ignorance. Man has tried for centuries, as far back as recorded history goes, to fulfill material desire. Thus far the endeavor has failed. Suffering from some sort of insanity, the attempt is still made going forward, with the hope that the outcome will be different.

2. I spend time maintaining new things

The smartphone is wonderful. I can send electronic messages to people in an instant. I no longer need a separate alarm clock. Everything I require for entertainment, to keep me busy, is on my smartphone. This is one of the great signs of advancement.

[iOS update]Yet there is maintenance to also consider. I have my device set to automatically update. Whenever the manufacturer puts out an update to the software, it gets installed. The problem is the latest update causes new problems. My WiFi signal sometimes drops out for no reason. Every time I create a new playlist, the music app crashes. Some issues are more severe than others. Now I have to take it in to the store to see if they can reverse the update.

In this way through modernization so much extra time is spent on maintenance. More time spent to keep something working means less time to ponder the future.

3. Modern means rejecting God

This shouldn’t happen . Man’s intelligence comes from the Almighty, after all. Modernization means becoming more efficient at using the gifts of nature. Instead of working hard all day in the fields to cultivate, just use a big machine. That saves a lot of time. Modern medicine prolongs life. No more need to pray for stuff. Just have the scientists continue making discoveries.

Of course there is still old age. Nothing can be done to stop that. Despite advancements made in curing certain diseases, there is still death. People get sick. Therefore God’s presence is always there; even if He is forgotten. The least intelligent now only see Him in His all-devouring feature known as death. Death is kala in Sanskrit, which also means “time.” Become more modern and forget that time continues to operate.

4. No time to see life passing by

The fundamental truth of the spiritual science is that I am not the body. The covering to the spirit soul continually changes, from boyhood to youth to old age. At the time of death, there is a complete change into another body. Become self-realized and then no longer be bewildered by these changes.

“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)

Unfortunately, modernization means less clarity in vision to see these changes. The changes are nothing more than events in the future guaranteed to occur. What will happen to me going forward? I know for sure that I will have a different body. The exact transformation is effected through karma, which is fruitive work.

5. It makes us think that spiritual life is a fairytale

Only a fool would consider the afterlife to be a fairytale. After all, the afterlife is nothing more than a period in time relative to the present. The present is the afterlife to some point in the past. As mentioned previously, the body continues to change. The future is just the state of the spirit-body combination at a particular point in time.

Incorporation of spiritual life, with the knowledge it brings of past, present and future, is necessary. It is like a mandatory class for the living entity attending the college of life. Only the human being can understand it. The animals get enough food, clothing and shelter through nature’s arrangement. After being satisfied in that way, they have no means of advancing further. The human being has the ability to contemplate spiritual matters. Whichever way of life best enables that contemplation to occur becomes ideal.

[Krishna's lotus feet]In this age of Kali, even with the advancements that help to increase forgetfulness, there is an easy way to stay connected to the spiritual energy and remember it at the time of death. That way is the chanting of the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

In Closing:

Following dawn of industrialization,

Convenience result of modernization.


Since in so many new things set,

Now easier my future to forget.


Like how in different body I’ll be,

And all from this life no longer to see.


Despite so many objects attention to distract,

Chant holy names and maintain focus exact.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Five Paradoxes Found In God

[Lord Krishna]“The Lord is personal although impersonal, He is atomic although great, and He is blackish and has red eyes although He is colorless.” (Kurma Purana)

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The crow Kakabhushundi and the eagle Garuda had a meaningful conversation one time. Typical of what is found in Vedic literature, it was more question and answer than a casual talk. There was an authority figure and a worthy listener. The ideal disciple approached someone who could remove his doubts.

In that discourse about the Supreme Lord Rama and His many features, Kakabhushundi mentioned how there are contradictions in the Supreme Lord. This is one way to know that God is something special. He is beyond comprehension. He is more than an abstract, and He can never be fully defined. That feature is actually a benefit, for it facilitates endless contemplation and adoration. Studying the contradictions is one way to increase attachment to Him, which is the reward most worth seeking.

1. He is faster than the wind, but has no legs

There is the famous scene from the Monty Python movie about a fighter continuing on despite losing his limbs, one by one. At the end he is left helpless, but continues to have a fighting spirit. The living entity in the human form relies on their limbs, but those limbs don’t define them. The limbs are part of the material form, and the living being inside is spiritual. It continues in its existence despite the constant changing of bodies.

The Supreme Lord does not have legs. This makes sense since He cannot be associated with the material energy. For Him there is no distinction between material and spiritual. He does not live in duality. Yet despite not having legs, He is faster than the wind. He can appear at any moment, in any spiritual form, whenever He so desires. He empowers His representatives with similar speed. The best example is Shri Hanuman, who is also known as Vegavan for his swiftness.

2. He is brighter than the sun, more soothing than the moon

Kakabhushundi made a comparison relating to artificial lighting and the Supreme Lord’s mercy. You could turn on every lamp in existence during the nighttime but you still won’t get rid of the night. Only the bright sun rising in the next morning can do the trick. Similarly, you can try everything to remove the darkness of ignorance, but without Shri Rama’s help it is not possible.

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

God has brightness that is more powerful than the sun. In His realm there is no need for electricity since the natural effulgence prevents the onset of darkness. Though He is brighter than the sun, He can be more soothing than the moon. The sun can destroy with its heat, causing tremendous pain also. The moon is there to give soothing light in a time of darkness. The Supreme Lord is more powerful than the moon in this respect.

3. He is a maintainer like Vishnu, a destroyer like Shiva

There are three guna-avataras of the Supreme Lord who manage the material creation. Brahma creates, Vishnu maintains, and Shiva destroys. All three represent God, but Vishnu is the Supreme Lord directly. No one is better at maintaining than Vishnu. In His role as Supersoul in the heart, He is the overseer and the permitter.

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

As God mentions in the Bhagavad-gita, He brings to the devotees what they lack and preserves what they have. Though He preserves at the highest levels, He can also destroy. For the creation He accomplishes this through the representative Shiva. For the obstacles in the path of the devotees, He intervenes directly.

4. He has no eyes, but sees everything

As the Supersoul, who is known as Paramatma, God is antaryami. He is the all-pervading witness. Nothing goes unseen. He knows everything that has occurred - past, present, future - for every living entity. No one escapes His watchful eye.

At the same time, He has no eyes. This is according to our understanding of eyes. We know that the ability of eyes diminishes over time. If you cover them up, it is impossible to see. With the Supreme Lord, the eyes are of a different nature. They cannot be covered up to cause blindness. He is not dependent on them. He is without eyes in the sense that they are not like what we typically see.

5. He is immovable like the Himalayas, a plaything for the gopis

Another name for Rama is Achyuta. This Sanskrit word means “one who never falls down.” After accepting a vow, He does not break it due to weakness. He does not succumb to the threefold miseries of life. He is the controller of time, not the other way around.

Think of the sturdiest object, something that is impossible to move. The Himalayas are a great example. The Supreme Lord is like that mountain range. A person could try to destroy it, but picking it up is a different issue.

[Lord Krishna]Despite being so strong and sturdy, God is a plaything in the hands of the gopis. These are the cowherd women of Vrindavana. They are the topmost devotees in the universe, as they have no personal desires. They simply want the best for God in His form of Shri Krishna. The gopis ask Krishna to dance, and He does. Some of them make fun of Him, and others try to punish Him for stealing their butter. The person who is faster than the wind gets caught by the loving mother Yashoda after having broken a pot of butter. These contradictions are wonderful to behold and blissful to remember.

In Closing:

With spiritual form of binding free,

Still with spiritual eyes everything to see.


Despite having legs none,

With speed of the wind can run.


Vow like Himalayas impossible to move,

Plaything for gopis in commanding mood.


In Supreme Lord these contradictions and more,

Further reasons for all-attractive one to adore.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Five Reasons Bhakti Is Superior To The Prapti Siddhi Of Yoga

[Lord Krishna]“Actually, a pure devotee does not aspire after any of these perfections because the happiness derived from devotional service in Krishna consciousness is so transcendental and so unlimited that no other happiness can be compared with it. It is said that even one drop of happiness in Krishna consciousness stands beyond comparison with an ocean of happiness derived from any other activity.” (Shrila Prabhupada, The Nectar of Devotion, Ch 1)

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Life in the material world is difficult. The main reason is failure. Not every venture is guaranteed to be successful. Others are in competition, after all. I want to fill that job vacancy so that I don’t fall behind on the bills. Who wants to sit idly by day after day, where the one pressing engagement is not missing that show that comes on television? Who wants to tell their friends that they are unemployed, incapable of finding work?

The corresponding term in Sanskrit is artha. The root definition is “profit” or “success”. When discussed in terms of the overall journey through life and juxtaposed with the three other major rewards, artha means “economic development.” If a person can get dharma, artha, kama and moksha, then they have done pretty well. Some virtue, sense gratification, success in economics, and then ultimate release from the cycle of birth and death.

“Though the modern astronauts go to the moon with the help of spaceships, they undergo many difficulties, whereas a person with mystic perfection can extend his hand and touch the moon with his finger. This siddhi is called prapti, or acquisition. With this prapti-siddhi, the perfect mystic yogi can not only touch the moon planet, but he can extend his hand anywhere and take whatever he likes. He may be sitting thousands of miles away from a certain place, and if he likes he can take fruit from a garden there. This is prapti-siddhi.” (Shrila Prabhupada, The Nectar Of Devotion, Ch 1)

One way to get what you want is through yoga. Not just twisting your body as a way to increase circulation of blood and free up the vital airs, the authentic system of mysticism passed on in an authorized tradition since time immemorial. Real yoga, practiced properly, brings siddhis, which are perfections. One of those siddhis is prapti, which is the ability to get whatever you want. Who wouldn’t want that? Actually, the bhaktas have no need for it. To them, the devotion to the Supreme Lord is infinitely more blissful than anything prapti could give them.

1. You don’t always know what you want

If I had the ability to get whatever I wanted, what would I ask for? Do I really know? I have trouble deciding what to eat for lunch. I’m not sure where to go on vacation. I know for certain that I have made so many mistakes in the past. Suppose I am fortunate enough to get the prapti siddhi. Then what? How should I utilize it?

Bhakti is a lot simpler, since the only desire is to continue in bhakti. The object of worship takes care of the rest. He removes the seeds of doubt, should they creep up. He shines the light of knowledge from within, giving the devotee the intelligence by which they can come to Him.

2. Just because you get something it doesn’t mean that you will be happy

The classic example illustrating this truth is the drunkard. It’s the weekend and they can’t wait to let off some steam. They are ready to get “hammered,” which is a euphemism for the intoxicated state. They follow through on their plans. They don’t necessarily need the prapti siddhi to accomplish this. Going to a nightclub or pub is sufficient.

What is the end result? Often times the next day brings illness. The same person must vomit repeatedly. They have a strong headache, and the night before is a blur. They may get so sick that they promise to never touch alcohol again.

This is but one example, but the same applies to so many situations, both large and small. There is buyer’s remorse with material desires. Divorce is another common example. Just because you can get what you want doesn’t mean that you will be happy as a result.

3. Krishna is Hari, which means He takes away

Bhakti is dedicated to the Supreme Lord, who is a person. That person has many names, addressing His different features and attributes. He is Krishna because of His all-attractiveness. True bhakti can only be offered to God the person. There is a reason. With any other style of worship, there are some desires. The mood is not pure love. With Krishna, even if there are material desires going in, the process is purifying.

Another name for Krishna is Hari. This means “one who takes away.” I may not get what I want through worshiping Hari. He may actually give me the opposite. He might take away something I think is important. This is not mean, but rather a kind of mercy no one else will show. Krishna is atmarama, which means that He is the topmost expert on enjoyment. He knows what is best for everyone else as well, and only those who worship Him get His guidance on how to enjoy. He is the best consultant to retain.

4. Prapti is difficult to acquire

This is a hypothetical exercise, judging what would happen if the prapti siddhi were there. The reality is a different situation. It is not so easy to get any of the siddhis of yoga. The ideal practice hinges on celibacy. No sex. There should be freedom from outside distractions. Even then, it takes a long time of continued practice to reach the end goal.

Bhakti can come in a second. It simply requires a change in desire. That change sometimes doesn’t happen for millions of lifetimes. A person can spend their whole life in meditation and not realize that the end goal is service to the Supreme Lord. They may still be full of desires. Bhakti can come to a person easily, provided they want to please God.

5. Bhakti brings more enjoyment

This reason trumps all the others. Simply put, bhakti brings more enjoyment than anything else, be it economic development, renunciation, material engagement, or mysticism. Of course this truth can only be realized personally through practicing bhakti. There is no way to explain to a person who has never felt undying affection for the Supreme Lord what that feeling is like. It has to be experienced.

[Lord Krishna]This should not be a cause for concern, since so many things are already accepted on faith. To extend faith to the guru, the representative of Krishna, is safe because the guru has no personal desires. Through their own experiences added on to the experience of the predecessors, there is full knowledge of the limitations of material rewards. The siddhis of yoga fall into the material category since they do nothing to change the fortunes of the spirit soul, who is forever part and parcel of Krishna.

In Closing:

Very far with my hand to reach,

Taking object desired each.


From prapti siddhi of yoga done,

Acquired from steadiness with distractions none.


Bhakti yet superior to that still,

Devotional service boundless joy to fill.


For certain fact difficult to believe,

From a little faith knowledge to receive.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Five Ways That Krishna Is Different From A Demigod

[Krishna lifting Govardhana]“Indeed, You alone know Yourself by Your own potencies, O origin of all, Lord of all beings, God of gods, O Supreme Person, Lord of the universe!” (Arjuna, Bhagavad-gita, 10.15)

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One group recommends worshiping the panchopasana. They believe in spirituality, but the end goal is merging into the formless Absolute Truth. Every living being is the same at the core. There is no Supreme Deity, just certain people who are more realized than others. Once everyone becomes spiritually realized, they merge back together.

The panchopasana is a collection of five deities. They are gods, in a sense, and there is really no difference between them. The appearance is different, that’s all. They are different manifestations of Brahman. Worship any one that you like, but keep in mind that the goal is detachment from the senses. Once you become advanced enough, you will have to abandon your worship.

Another group says that certain deities are just prophets. They are representatives teaching a specific religion suited for the time. Pay no attention to their actual words, since the speculation about all religions being the same sounds better. It is easier to digest. It is a way to steer clear of sectarian designations. I’m okay, and you’re okay.

The truth of the matter, determined by authority coming from the descending process, is a little different. There are grades of living entities, some higher and some lower. Higher meaning closer to ultimate enlightenment and lower meaning further away. There are many heavenly beings and empowered representatives, but also a single supreme. One of His names is Krishna and there are ways to know that He is different from the other gods.

1. He is not running a business

His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada translates the Sanskrit word deva as “demigod.” The word just means “god” but the prefix is added to give emphasis to the fact that they are still subordinate to the Supreme. One way to tell is that the interactions with their worshipers is something like running a business.

You go to a store, pick out what you want, make the payment, and then go home. The relationship ends there. The store owner doesn’t come over for dinner. You don’t go back the next day to find out how they are doing. These things may happen in the odd circumstance, but they are unrelated to the purchases. The exchange of goods and services is strictly business.

In the same way, with worship of demigods you do what is required and then take what you want. With Shri Krishna, the same does not apply. He is never bound by any rules of the material world. You can ask Him for stuff, but He is not obliged to agree. You can worship for thousands of years even, but that still won’t change His mind. He uses discretion with His worshipers.

2. He doesn’t get angry at being neglected

The living entities, the bhutas, come to this world due to forgetfulness of God. Through His role as Paramatma, the Supreme Lord witnesses every action - past, present and future. This means that He would have justification for being the most offended. He has literally seen the forgetfulness manifest at the largest scale.

Despite this mass neglect, He is not angry. He is always in pleasure, atmarama. The demigods are a little different. Since they have hints of material desire in them, they can get jealous from time to time. In business transactions, you may get something like a loyalty discount. This is a way of paying back the customer for repeat business. With Indra-deva a long time ago, the opposite occurred.

[Krishna lifting Govardhana Hill]Instead of rewarding loyalty, he punished a single instance of neglect. The people of Vrindavana used to worship him annually. One year they replaced that worship with honor to the nearby hill known as Govardhana. Indra got so angry that he retaliated with a devastating rainstorm. Shri Krishna, at whose insistence the Indra-yajna was skipped, saved the day by lifting the just worshiped Govardhana Hill and using it as an umbrella.

3. He is not obligated to give anything

As mentioned before, Krishna is not running a business with His worshipers. Just because they ask for something material, it doesn’t mean that they will get it. There are real life examples of how the opposite is true with the demigods.

Hiranyakashipu asked for so many material boons after being denied immortality. His object of worship was Lord Brahma, who is the creator. Ravana, another infamous character from ancient times, similarly worshiped Brahma. This was early on, and then later Ravana worshiped Shiva. Lord Shiva has given so many boons to bad characters. Brahma and Shiva do this as part of their duty, but Shri Krishna is never beholden to anyone’s desires.

4. He doesn’t need anyone’s sanction

Worshipers of other gods will argue that their deity of choice is supreme. They may point to certain texts of authority as proof. Yet even this contradiction is explained by Shri Krishna. In the Bhagavad-gita, He says that when He sees someone worshiping a specific god, He gives them the necessary faith to continue.

“I am in everyone's heart as the Supersoul. As soon as one desires to worship the demigods, I make his faith steady so that he can devote himself to some particular deity.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.21)

The idea is that advancing through material life is difficult. Demigod worship is a sort of enticement to trigger initiation into spiritual life. As material desires are difficult to renounce, make the best use by bringing them to divine figures, people who are empowered to help you fulfill them. The end goal never changes, however. The living entity is spiritual, so they must be free of material desires if rebirth is to stop.

“Endowed with such a faith, he seeks favors of a particular demigod and obtains his desires. But in actuality these benefits are bestowed by Me alone.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.22)

Shri Krishna says that the rewards given by the demigods are actually bestowed by Him alone. He gives sanction. He is the power of the powerful. No other god can say this. It is not mentioned anywhere in shastra, or scripture. Realizing this, the wise approach the original benefactor, as He must have something better to offer.

5. He actually assesses requests

Vrikasura asked for a boon that would allow him to kill anyone by simply placing his hand on their head. This is a pretty ridiculous request. It sounds fishy, too, as why would you want to do this to anybody? Lord Shiva, the person whom Vrikasura approached, did not deny the request. That is the rule with demigod worship, after all. If you do everything properly, the reward must be granted. Of course, the rewards have a limitation. They are within the realm of the material world. This world is vast and complex, yet compared to the spiritual energy everything within it, even combined and judged as a collective, is inferior.

Shri Krishna uses discrimination. It is for this reason that the demoniac tend to avoid Him. They know that Krishna, or one of His non-different forms like Vishnu or Rama, will not always come through. Krishna is under no obligation to give anything to anyone. Moreover, for the devotees He assesses whether a particular reward will benefit them in the future. The assessment is based on the spiritual wellbeing. In this way we see that Krishna’s kindness and compassion separate Him from the rest.

In Closing:

Why to worship Krishna alone,

When other gods there are known?


Like going to store, to pick and choose,

For your own benefit to use.


Supreme Lord not always granting,

Special mercy to those His names chanting.


Spiritual welfare, most important of all,

Only through His grace, supreme clear and tall.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Five Names The Husband Of Parvati Is Known By

[Lord Shiva]“Or, lifting him up and carrying him across the ocean, I will offer him to Rama, like an animal offered to Lord Shiva, the lord of animals.” (Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 13.50)

athavā enam samutkṣipya upari upari sāgaram ||
rāmāya upahariṣyāmi paśum paśu pater iva |

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Parvati is the chaste daughter of the mountain king, Himavan. In her previous life, she was Sati, whose very name means “chaste.” In that life she was married to the destroyer, the deity in charge of annihilating the universe at the appropriate time. He is known for his simple life of meditation and prayer, always focusing on the lotus feet of the Supreme Lord Rama. Parvati’s husband goes by many names, which speak to his different attributes.

1. Shiva

This is likely the name Parvati’s husband is best known by. Shiva means “auspicious.” He is the spiritual master, or guru, for all kinds of people. From Vedic philosophy we learn that the living beings of this world are a combination of purusha and prakriti. Purusha means “person” or “enjoyer” and for the living beings it refers to the spirit within. Prakriti is “matter” or “that which is enjoyed.”

Prakriti consists of different combinations of the three modes of material nature: goodness, passion and ignorance. These are like different ingredients. Indeed, based on how these ingredients are mixed, the living being assumes a certain varna. This Sanskrit word typically equates to an occupation, but the root meaning is “color.” Some people are nice. Some aren’t. Some are intelligent, while others are more animalistic.

Though specifically in charge of the mode of ignorance, Lord Shiva is auspicious for everyone. For the animal-like people he helps bring elevation to a higher mode. For those in the mode of passion, he gives boons very quickly. For those in the mode of goodness, he gives the proper example of devotion to Vishnu, who is the personal God. Vishnu is another form of Rama.

2. Ashutosha

This word means “easily pleased.” It doesn’t take much to get Shiva’s favor. Just offering a little water and some leaves to his linga, or statue representation, brings results very quickly. Shiva does not make character judgments. Whoever worships him properly usually gets their desires fulfilled very quickly.

There is a reason he behaves as Ashutosha. He doesn’t like to have his meditation broken. He understands that material rewards aren’t so important, so he doesn’t spend a lot of time deliberating over what should be given. He would rather continue his chanting of the holy names of Rama.

3. Mahadeva

There is the Supreme Lord Rama, who is also known through His non-different forms of Vishnu, Krishna, Narasimha and others. Then there are devas, or gods, who act as deputies. They are something like cabinet officers in the Executive Branch of government. They have their different departments that they are in charge of.

Brahma and Shiva are the highest deputies, in charge of passion and ignorance respectively. Still, Shiva has a more special place. He is known as Mahadeva, or the great god. He is like a deva, but more. He is almost like Vishnu. He is non-different from the Supreme Lord in the sense that he can deliver spiritual wisdom, acting as guru. He has his own realm that does not get destroyed at the time of the cosmic destruction.

4. Pashupati

Lord Shiva is known by this name for several reasons. The root definition is “lord of the animals.” The animal society extends to the human beings, who have more potential in intelligence. Pashupati is the pati, or lord, of the entire population of creatures. There was also a weapon of a similar name that Shiva once gave to the bow-warrior Arjuna.

“Lord Shiva tested Arjuna's strength by picking a quarrel with him over a hunted boar. He confronted Arjuna in the false dress of a hunter, and Arjuna covered him with arrows until Lord Shiva was satisfied with Arjuna's fighting. He offered Arjuna the Pāshupati weapon and blessed him.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 3.1.38 Purport)

[Lord Shiva]In ancient times there was also animal sacrifice offered to Lord Shiva. This was referenced one time by Shri Hanuman. A direct servant of Rama, Hanuman was in Lanka looking for Rama’s wife Sita. She had been taken away by the wicked king of Lanka, Ravana. Hanuman several times became depressed due to lack of success in the mission. As a kind of pep talk to himself, to keep going in the search, he once mentioned that if Sita wasn’t found he would at least bring Ravana back to Rama. He made the comparison to offering an animal to the lord of animals, Pashupati.

5. Bhutanatha

The Vedas cap the list of different species at 8,400,000. Within that number there are specific species that correspond with the mode of ignorance. As Shiva is the presiding deity of this particular mode, he is associated with these creatures. They are something like ghosts and goblins.

The Sanskrit word bhuta also means “that which exists.” Shiva is Bhutanatha because he is the protector of all living creatures. This name again shows the dual-sided nature to the great god. Those who really know Shiva understand that he is always meditating on Rama, making him the best of the Vaishnavas.

In Closing:

As best of the Vaishnavas is known,

Devotion to Rama his desire lone.


Bhutanatha, in charge of ignorance mode,

Mahadeva, god meditating in mountain abode.


Pashupati, animals sometimes to him sent,

Ashutosha, not much in discerning spent.


Shiva since auspicious to all,

Chaste Parvati his wife to call.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Five Reasons To Be Confident In Devotional Service

[Lord Vishnu with Dhruva]“To those who are constantly devoted and worship Me with love, I give the understanding by which they can come to Me.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 10.10)

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Lord Brahma is so exalted. He lives for millions and millions of years. At the beginning of time, there was no one else. He emerged from the lotus-stem coming from the naval of Lord Vishnu, who is thus also known as Padmanabha. Vishnu is the father to Brahma, and also the mother in a sense. There is Lakshmi Devi, who is the wife of Vishnu.

Brahma creates through the potency invested in him by Vishnu. He must be someone very special. At the end of Brahma’s night, there is a partial dissolution of the creation. At the end of Brahma’s life, one hundred of his years, there is complete devastation. Brahma is the founder of a sampradaya of devotion to Vishnu. He is a spiritual master, which means that he has to be a pure devotee.

And yet Brahma falls into illusion sometimes. He did so when Vishnu was on earth as Shri Krishna, playing with the cows and cowherd boys in the fields of Vrindavana. He had an incident with his own daughter. Lord Shiva, who is superior to even Brahma, at times looked like he was in illusion. What hope is there for us mere mortals, then? We are not celestials who live for a long time with heightened enjoyment. How can we be confident that devotional service, bhakti-yoga, will pay off in the end?

1. The Pandavas survived attacks against them.

These five brothers had done nothing wrong. They lost their father Pandu. They lived with their mother, Kunti Devi. They should have inherited the kingdom from Pandu, but it instead went to the Kauravas, who were sons to Pandu’s brother Dhritarashtra. Even that wasn’t a big deal. The problem was that the leader of the Kauravas, Duryodhana, tried so many times to kill the Pandavas.

The one thing the five brothers had going for them was devotion to Krishna. He was their lone support. That was all they needed. They survived the attacks, and with Krishna’s help in guiding the physical chariot of Arjuna and also the chariot of his mind, manoratha, the Pandavas eventually regained their kingdom.

2. Arjuna succeeded

Either retreat to the forest, giving up your kingdom, or fight on the side of righteousness. The latter will cost the lives of people who are dear to you. Has anyone in history faced a bigger dilemma than Arjuna? He didn’t know what to do, so He put the matter to Krishna. The Supreme Lord acted as Arjuna’s charioteer, but when the questions came He transitioned into the role of guru. He is the adi-guru, after all. He is the original spiritual master. He advised Arjuna in such a way that future generations would learn the lessons as well. Arjuna succeeded in his devotion since he was a surrendered soul.

3. Hanuman succeeded

Everyone was counting on Hanuman, but especially Shri Rama. Rama is another descent of Vishnu to the material world, an avatara. Hanuman’s task was to find Sita Devi, Rama’s missing wife. There was a large army of monkeys sent by Sugriva to search for her, but ultimately success rested in the hands of Hanuman. He faced amazing obstacles, both physical and mental. He persevered due to the love he has for Rama.

4. Dhruva succeeded

[Lord Vishnu and Dhruva]Dhruva Maharaja felt insulted that his own father would not place him on his lap. The step-mother basically told the boy that he was a second-class citizen in the home. Dhruva then went to the forest to meditate. He wanted vengeance, but in meeting Lord Vishnu face to face, his desires changed. Dhruva succeeded even though he had material desires at the outset. This is why those who are akama, moksha-kama or even sarva-kama should worship God the person. Approaching Him directly has a purifying effect, giving success in what matters most.

5. Krishna says to not fear

The conclusion of the Bhagavad-gita is the instruction to Arjuna to abandon all varieties of religion and simply surrender unto Krishna. There is no reason to fear, since Krishna will protect against all sinful reaction, should there be any.

“Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reaction. Do not fear.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 18.66)

Even if a person tries their best to be nonviolent and kind, there is always a trace of sin. The only way to be free from the material effects of karma, which lead to rebirth, is to be surrendered to Krishna. He protects the surrendered souls. Those who want to go to Him get help from within. He gives the understanding by which the devotees can find Him.

In Closing:

Shiva angry, Brahma after daughter chased,

How us mortals to prevent efforts erased?


How in devotional service to succeed,

When illusion of steady assault to proceed?


Examples from Pandavas and Arjuna see,

And Dhruva, even of material desires was he.


Hanuman, for Rama to ends of earth going,

Lord from within knowledge lamp glowing.