Saturday, October 1, 2016

Book Smarts Versus Street Smarts

[Worship of Krishna]“Jnana means theoretical knowledge, and vijnana refers to practical knowledge. For instance, a science student has to study theoretical scientific conceptions as well as applied science. Theoretical knowledge alone will not help. One has to be able to also apply this knowledge. Similarly, in yoga one should have not only theoretical knowledge but practical knowledge.” (Shrila Prabhupada, The Perfection of Yoga, Ch 5)

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Friend1: You ever been in a debate on book smarts versus street smarts?

Friend2: I have not. Is that based on an inferiority complex?

Friend1: What do you mean?

Friend2: The people who haven’t gone to college feel inferior to those who have. Therefore they have to try to establish their intelligence in a different way.

Friend1: Yeah, that’s definitely part of it. There was a season of the reality show, The Apprentice, where they divided the teams up that way. There were people who graduated from top business schools and there were others who were successful in the business world without having a formal education.

Friend2: There you go. Pretty much the same debate. Was it decided which side was better?

Friend1: No. Like common sense would lead you to believe, both sides are essentially the same. Book smarts are important, but street smarts can get you far, too.

Friend2: I see.

Friend1: I was thinking, do these correlate to jnana and vijnana?

Friend2: Hmm. That’s interesting. The relationship is close, but vijnana is more than just street smarts. As an example, street smarts don’t have to be tied to book smarts. They are like competitors.

Friend1: So vijnana is related to jnana?

Friend2: Yeah.

Friend1: How so?

Friend2: Jnana is knowledge. Vijnana is the practical application of that knowledge. The same knowledge is there in both cases.

Friend1: So which one is more important?

Friend2: Vijnana.

Friend1: Oh. So you can have vijnana without jnana?

Friend2: Vijnana includes jnana. You can have jnana without vijnana.

Friend1: An example?

Friend2: Take a doctor. Jnana is the knowledge needed to complete school and pass the licensing examinations.

Friend1: They won’t let you practice medicine without that.

[Scientist]Friend2: Exactly. That’s why jnana is important. Vijnana is being able to practice medicine. Obviously, vijnana is more important. If you’re sick, you don’t want to visit someone who only has jnana. The person you visit – you want assurance that they know how to implement the principles they learned in school. The book smarts should translate to real world application.

Friend1: What about in spiritual life? Can you have vijnana without first acquiring jnana?

Friend2: Jnana is learning the difference between matter and spirit. It is knowing that the body continuously changes, from boyhood to youth to old age, and so on. Jnana is learning that there is an Absolute Truth, a Supreme Being who is like the individual in qualitative makeup but vastly superior in quantitative potency.

Friend1: What is vijnana, then?

Friend2: Realizing those concepts. It’s one thing to know that I am spirit and not matter, but it is another to apply that knowledge to real life. Signs of vijnana are not lamenting at the passing of the soul, seeing the Divine influence everywhere, and having firm faith in the Divine mercy. All good qualities result from vijnana.

Friend1: Listen, you could have someone who knows how to practice medicine without having gone to medical school. Sure it is rare, but the idea is that some people know how to do things without formal training. Is it possible to be spiritually realized without first learning the concepts?

Friend2: Of course. All that detailed knowledge is not necessary. Shri Krishna even says so in the Bhagavad-gita.

“But what need is there, Arjuna, for all this detailed knowledge? With a single fragment of Myself I pervade and support this entire universe.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 10.42)

[Krishna altar]Just know that Krishna is God. He is the Supreme Lord in His original, all-attractive form. Be always conscious of Him. That consciousness is vijnana. Of course, typically there is the need for jnana in order to be convinced. That is why the Vedas are so vast and comprehensive. They are that long because under the illusion of maya the individual needs many reminders of their spiritual nature and what that actually means.

In Closing:

Person to college didn’t go,

Everything from street to know.


Others from books learning,

Degree from university earning.


To jnana and vijnana not entirely the same,

Realized knowledge through implementation came.


That Krishna is God, pervading universe entire,

That alone bhakti practice to inspire.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Five Reasons No One Is Truly Safe In This World

[Krishna with cow]“For one who has accepted the boat of the lotus feet of the Lord, who is the shelter of the cosmic manifestation and is famous as Mukunda or the giver of mukti, the ocean of the material world is like the water contained in a calf's hoofprint. Param padam, or the place where there are no material miseries, or Vaikuntha, is his goal, not the place where there is danger in every step of life.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 10.14.58)

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A good politician has to lie. In the modern age of democracy-inspired governments, there is really no other way. In order to get elected, there has to be support from many special interest groups. These groups represent many voters interested in a particular issue. The problem is that for every special interest group, there is an opposing one. I want lower taxes, and another group wants an increase. I want permission to build a particular oil pipeline, and another group is set up in opposition to it.

The successful politician lies from time to time because they can’t keep every promise they make. They can’t keep all of their constituency groups happy. One of the areas relates to security. After a headline-grabbing attack in a nation, the leaders are naturally asked the question, “Are we safe?” The leaders can’t tell the truth. They must say that the people are generally safe. If they were to be honest, they would reveal that there is danger at every step in the material world.

1. Protection has limitations

One way to increase safety is to purchase an intrusion detection system for the home. It doesn’t have to be elaborate. Something simple, where there are sensors placed in different entry points. When the sensors detect movement, an alarm goes off. The alarm notification can be through a loud sound or through a phone call to people specified beforehand.

This is a great way to increase safety, but there are still limitations. At the core, the system runs on software. Unlike the big bang creation theorized by the mental speculators, this system cannot come to be through random collisions. There is the intelligence of programmers required to create the system. The issue is that the human mind is flawed; it makes mistakes. Therefore, a bug can occur that causes the alarm system to not trigger when it is supposed to.

An intelligent burglar can try to circumvent the system, if they are familiar with it. This example is isolated to a single home, but imagine the same at the highest level. The government has spies planted across the world, and they regularly review intelligence information. They can still get things wrong. Sometimes they have a potential suspect on their radar and still fail to prevent an attack.

2. There are aggressors looking to attack

The adhibautika miseries of this world specified in Vedic philosophy immediately invalidate the politician’s promise that we are safe. There are other living entities who cause us pain. One way they do that is through aggression. Again, a simple example helps to illustrate the problem.

Imagine you are driving on the road. You are not in a hurry. You have no desire to offend. After being stuck in traffic for a long time, you are ready to get off the highway at the next exit. From the middle lane, you carefully signal and then turn into the right lane. The problem is that someone coming from behind was ready to pass you on the right side. They were speeding since they were so frustrated at having been stuck in traffic. Now they are really angry at you, thinking that you cut them off.

They turn extremely aggressive, almost to the point of getting out of their car to fight. On a routine driving trip, safety is compromised. Unless the leaders of a nation can get rid of the aggressive tendency in people, which is sure to arise as a result of unsatisfied lust, no one is truly safe.

3. Earthquakes can strike at any moment

Another source of misery is adhidaivika. Insurance plans describe these as “natural disasters” or “acts of God.” There is no way to prevent them. You can try to protect your home from an intruder, but how do you safeguard against an earthquake? You can’t stop the ground from breaking apart. You don’t get prior warning, either. You can think you are completely safe and then a natural disaster strikes and changes everything.

4. Disease develops within the body

You used to be able to eat pizza and drink soda without issue. All of a sudden, now that you are a little older, you get terrible acid reflux afterwards. Your stomach is sensitive to highly acidic foods. Nothing else changed in life. Sometimes you wake up and your right foot hurts. You get colds more easily. These miseries are known as adhyatmika. They come from within, and there is no way to fully safeguard against them.

5. They come at you with a knife while in the womb

In the present age of Kali, the time period noted for the increase in quarrel and hypocrisy, even the child within the womb is not safe. As a way to negate the unwanted effects of sense gratification gone wrong, the innocent child faces a knife. Their own mother turns into an aggressor. After birth, the same act would be criminal, but since the violence generally goes unseen, when in the womb it is sanctioned.

[Krishna with cow]Despite the danger at every step in the material world, there is a way to find safety. It is through the shelter of God the person, whose many names include Mukunda. This means one who grants mukti, which is liberation. Mukti is the release from the cycle of birth and death. Though the material world features danger at every step and seems insurmountable like the size of a vast ocean, through the favor of Mukunda that same ocean shrinks to the size of a puddle formed in the hoofprint left by a calf. The shelter can be found through something as simple as sound: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

In Closing:

When threefold miseries at play,

That we’re safe how can you say?


Disease can strike at any time,

An aggressor on the road can find.


Even within womb facing a knife,

Before birth ended is life.


Through Lord’s shelter material ocean made small.

Giver of liberation, one name as Mukunda to call.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Was Everyone Doomed Prior To The Bhagavad-gita Being Spoken

[Krishna speaking to Arjuna]“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.” (Bhagavad-gita, 4.1)

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Friend1: The Bhagavad-gita really is a lifesaver. Just the truths on reincarnation alone - I’ve never heard life and death explained that way before.

Friend2: I like how there’s no dogmatic insistence. Even though you have this blue God from the Hindu tradition teaching this stuff, the words appeal to logic and reason.

Friend1: Right. It’s not like you say, “Hey, in my religion we believe there is a difference between matter and spirit and that matter keeps changing, while spirit remains the same.”

Friend2: That truth is there for everything, not just a specific religion. It’s like you wouldn’t say that you believe in gravity. Gravity applies to everything, whether you believe in it or not.

Friend1: We’re just talking about the introduction here. There is so much more that Krishna explains. I have an interesting question for you.

Friend2: Alright.

Friend1: Krishna spoke the Gita to Arjuna on the battlefield of Kurukshetra some five thousand years ago, correct?

Friend2: Yeah, roughly that long ago.

Friend1: Okay, so what did people do before that?

Friend2: What do you mean?

Friend1: Were they doomed? Did they just follow religion blindly?

[Krishna speaking to Arjuna]Friend2: I’m not sure what you’re asking.

Friend1: Today we are talking about the Bhagavad-gita. It is the main source of our discussions. What did people talk about back then? What about before Krishna appeared on this earth? What was their source material?

Friend2: The Vedas

Friend1: Oh. Do they teach the same things?

Friend2: For sure. The Vedas are identical with Krishna. Now, they may not present the philosophical truths in the exact same way. There are the Vedic hymns, which are songs in praise of God the person and His many assistants. Then there are the Puranas, which are ancient stories. The Puranas basically teach the Vedas through history.

Friend1: It seems like the Bhagavad-gita is superior to these works.

Friend2: Maybe in terms of succinctness and presentation, but actually just by reading something like the Ramayana a person can attain perfection. Shri Hanuman reads it every day. He is an eternally liberated soul. You can still connect with God without reading the Bhagavad-gita, if that’s what you are asking.

[Hanuman reading Ramayana]Friend1: Oh okay. Yeah, that’s what I was sort of wondering about.

Friend2: You should also know that the Gita did not originate on that day five thousand years ago. Shri Krishna Himself says that He originally spoke the same truths to the sun-god at the beginning of time. This means that the Bhagavad-gita is just as eternal as the Vedas. The confidential truths get passed down in a chain of disciplic succession. When the chain gets broken and the knowledge appears to be lost, Krishna finds a way to reinstitute it.

Friend1: Arjuna was something like the next person in line, to keep the succession going.

Friend2: Exactly. That conversation became famous afterwards. We should never make the mistake of assuming that time has more importance than it does. One moment in time does not make or break something. Krishna is time itself. So there is always hope before a specific moment in time and afterwards. Even in the future, if somehow the knowledge of the Vedas becomes lost, there will be a way for people to become liberated. The knowledge will emerge again through the Divine will. Just be fortunate that you don’t have to worry about that now. Thanks to fearless saints like His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, Gita-prachara, as it is, has taken off.

In Closing:

Profound wisdom, sacred verses to adore,

But what hope for people before?


Bhagavad-gita not famous in time when,

Where the lost and inquisitive to go then?


Eternal wisdom, time to transcend,

From parampara highest wisdom to descend.


Puranas, Vedas, or Ramayana to read,

Supreme Lord with message suited to need.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Feel The Power

[Durga Devi]“We have no control over these threefold miseries. They are controlled by Krishna's maidservant, goddess Durga, who is material nature. She is not independent of Krishna. However, she is so powerful that she can create and maintain. Prakriti, nature, can be very unkind. Mother Durga is often portrayed as chastising demons by piercing them with a trident.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Teachings of Lord Kapila, Vs 8 Purport)

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Pure bhakti-yoga is a unique style of worship due primarily to the lack of desire. The devotees of the Supreme Personality of Godhead are accurately described as akama. This means desire-less, but upon careful analysis, it seems like a mistake has been made. How can any person be without desire? Even the wish to become free of desires indicates the presence of a desire. If you want something, it means that you cannot be akama.

The devotees are akama in the sense that they don’t want anything for themselves. It’s natural to look to the heavens in times of trouble. Why wouldn’t we ask things from God, the Almighty one. In bhakti-yoga the prayer is to see the Supreme Lord’s pleasure always. Shri Krishna Chaitanya Mahaprabhu best exemplified the mood when He prayed to only be the servant of the servant of God in lifetime after lifetime, not caring about followers, beauty, or high birth.

“O Lord of the universe, I do not desire material wealth, materialistic followers, a beautiful wife or fruitive activities described in flowery language. All I want, life after life, is unmotivated devotional service to You.” (Lord Chaitanya, Chaitanya Charitamrita, Antya 20.29)

A helpful way to understand a complex concept is to juxtapose with the opposite. In this case, we can look at worship that is in kama, or with desire. The worship has to shift elsewhere, to someone who is not God Himself; the reason being that even with kama the influence of the Supreme Lord is so purifying that over time lack of desire is the natural result.

The worship of the devas is fit for comparison. This Sanskrit word means “gods.” To understand the difference to worship of God the person, the word deva can be translated as “demigod.” What exactly is demigod worship? How is it different from bhakti-yoga? We can think of it like visiting a store that carries a lot of cool stuff. We may not have the money to get the high priced items, but it doesn’t mean that the purchase itself is impossible. In a similar manner, the devas carry so many goods, like health, beauty, wealth, fame, and the like. The boons are ready to be received; just the proper worship is required.

One way that demigod worship is triggered is the basic response to power. Consider the drunkard who is causing trouble at a party. Due to the intoxication, they have lost good judgment. The more people tell this person to stop the disturbance, the more that person is inspired to continue. Suddenly, the drunkard runs into a very large person. This person, who doesn’t have to be an official bouncer, inspires fear, even in the drunk person. The drunkard immediately stops what they are doing; they leave. There is a response to power.

[Durga Devi]Durga Devi is shakti, or the potency in the material world. That power is symbolically represented in her trident. Just one look at that trident is enough to inspire fear. Those who don’t know the purpose to the material creation and how it runs in cycles due to the desire of the living entity to continue to enjoy separate from God become afraid of Durga Devi and the power she wields. Better to just worship her and avoid her wrath.

Indeed, even outside of Vedic culture there is a similar mentality. A God-fearing person makes the proclamation to separate themselves from those who flagrantly sin in the vain hope that there is no higher power watching. In the God-fearing there is recognition of a higher being, but the worship is still like a response to power.

Bhakti-yoga is worship of the powerful, and it is without fear. After all, Durga Devi works at the direction of the Supreme Lord, who is known by such names as Krishna, Rama and Vishnu. Durga Devi is herself a great devotee, so there is no reason to fear her trident, which represents the three sources of misery in the material world. There is no reason to fear her husband, Lord Shiva, either. Indeed, true devotees of Durga Devi and her family don’t look at them as mere order suppliers.

[Krishna's lotus feet]There is much more to be gained from this existence than temporary rewards. There is more progress to be made from the state of God-fearing. Instead of responding to the power of the gods, there is the bliss of surrender in knowing and feeling the unmatched love of the Supreme Lord. The representatives of Krishna reveal how to tap into that love and how to always keep it as time marches on.

In Closing:

Drunkard skewed perception he’s got,

Only when meeting power to stop.


Comparison to demigod worship made,

After defeated by nature to them prayed.


Durga Devi trident in her hand wielding,

Her favor threefold miseries shielding.


Bhakti when to powerful Himself going,

Service in love, no need for strength showing.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Five Amazing Powers Of The Spiritual Master

[Lord Chaitanya getting tiger to dance]“The Lord said, ‘Chant the holy name of Krishna!’ The tiger immediately got up and began to dance and chant,’Krishna! Krishna!’” (Chaitanya Charitamrita, Madhya 17.29)

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“Make me happy. I don’t care how. It doesn’t have to be based in religion. I know you think certain politicians are the savior, but I don’t buy into that. I want real happiness, something that is not dependent on others. I’ve tried putting faith in them, but it doesn’t work. Just give me something. There has to be a way out of the misery and despair.”

Indeed, genuine spiritual life should have happiness as its ultimate goal. There is no other purpose to the austerity, renunciation, regulation, and knowledge passed down through the ages. A person can already torture themselves if they so desire. The afterlife is too uncertain an area to promise the elusive peace of mind. There should be a way to bring happiness today.

From the Vedic tradition, that way is through the spiritual master, who is also known as the guru. The Sanskrit word has several meanings, sometimes referring to respected personalities. The parents are automatically the first guru, due to their position. The guru who is the spiritual master can deliver happiness, and they do it through the amazing powers that they possess.

1. Harder than a thunderbolt

In spiritual life, three things run in parallel lines. Guru, sadhu and shastra. The guru is the teacher on spiritual subjects, the sadhu is the saint, and shastra is scripture. The three are always in accord. If something conflicts, then it is likely not genuine. The guru is just like a sadhu in the sense that they cut the binding ropes of ignorance. They are sometimes very swift in their delivery.

[Prabhupada teaching]The guru can be harder than a thunderbolt in their judgment. If they see a pretender trying to deceive people about the real religion, they will use words like “rascal” and “cheater” to describe that person. The guru is not worried about offending others in this regard, as it is more important for the truth to be told. Whether people like them or hate them, the guru never compromises the genuine principles of religion.

2. Softer than a feather

While delivering cutting words to debunk false philosophies, the guru is also the most compassionate. Forgiveness is in their very nature. They understand the difficulty of following the genuine spiritual path while being embodied. This forgiving nature descends from the very person they represent.

“O mighty-armed Krishna, does not such a man, being deviated from the path of Transcendence, perish like a riven cloud, with no position in any sphere?” (Arjuna, Bhagavad-gita, 6.38)

In the Bhagavad-gita, the distressed warrior Arjuna wonders about the fate of the unsuccessful yogi. Do they not perish like a riven cloud if they don’t succeed by the time of death. Arjuna is the ideal disciple, and his guru in that situation is Shri Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Krishna responds that the progress never gets erased. If there are accidental slipups along the way, the sadhu eventually corrects themselves.

3. Gravity

Another meaning to the word guru is “heavy.” The spiritual master carries a lot of weight. In the philosophical world, they are anything but a lightweight. They can respond to any challenge based on logic, argument, or reasoning. They automatically understand every other philosophical conclusion. Therefore, explaining the highest wisdom from all angles of vision is not a problem for them.

[Rama and Lakshmana]The guru is symbolically heavy, and sometimes literally so as well. An example comes to us from the Ramayana. On the battlefield one time, Lakshmana was unconscious. This was the result of fighting with the enemy side, headed by the wicked Ravana. Lakshmana is the original guru, who serves the Supreme Lord Rama. Ravana tried to lift the unconscious Lakshmana, but was unable to do so. As a demoniac personality, he did not understand the guru. Shri Hanuman, on the other hand, was easily able to lift Lakshmana and bring him off the battlefield. Ravana’s physical strength was useless in that regard, and Hanuman’s devotional strength was all that was required.

4. Give birth

The first birth comes from the mother and father. This is important, as the human life is auspicious. The full potential of that life can only be reached when there is a second birth. That second birth is facilitated by the spiritual master. The symbolic entry into the second life occurs through initiation, or diksha, but the maturity in terms of consciousness is what really indicates that the second birth has occurred.

From diksha, the disciple agrees to follow the instructions, or vani, of the spiritual master. The person who is twice-born is known as dvija in Sanskrit. The dvija has the chance to understand the spiritual science. That understanding can take a long time to arrive, or it can manifest in a second. The determining factor is the level of surrender. Just how much trust is there in the words of the guru.

5. Carry the potency of the divine with them

The guru is not God, but they are identical to Him in terms of interest. Krishna, or Rama or Vishnu or whichever authorized name for the Supreme Lord a person has, is the worshiped God and the guru is the one providing the best worship. The guru never changes in consciousness; they are always thinking about how to please Krishna.

Because of this unbroken service, they carry the potency of the Divine with them. Though the guru may not be large in stature, they are tremendously powerful. Simply through a moment’s association with them, things can change. Lord Chaitanya, who is actually Krishna Himself in the role of a guru, could even get tigers to chant the holy names.

[Lord Chaitanya getting tiger to dance]The happiness that previously eluded the living entity, who was struggling with the duality of the material world, suddenly arrives through the grace of the guru. It remains through dedicated effort in bhakti-yoga, guided by the expert hand of the spiritual master, who is so benevolent that they work tirelessly for reclaiming as many conditioned souls as possible.

In Closing:

Not satisfied with personal perfection attained,

Working tirelessly so that others also to gain.


Like a thunderbolt sometimes harsh speaking,

And compassion for disciples the truth seeking.


The second, more important birth can give,

For true destiny, linked with Divine to live.


Potency of Supreme Lord with them bringing,

Sometimes even tigers through them singing.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Five Reasons The Results From Demigod Worship Come Quickly

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

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The Sanskrit word karma translates to “fruitive activity” in English. The comparison is made due to the frequent pairing of the word phala with karma. There is the work and then consequences, or fruits. Like the act of planting a seed and then waiting for the appropriate time for the tree to manifest and bear fruits, in karma the actions are taken and then at the right moment, which may occur in a future lifetime even, the just reward or punishment arrives.

In the Bhagavad-gita Shri Krishna says that those who are in karma get their results quickly. The statement is made when discussing worship of the devas, who are gods. The religiously inclined person knows that they can’t do everything on their own. They understand that certain things are out of their control. Therefore they worship the devas for success. There are reasons why the success generally comes quickly.

1. The demigods are so deputed

There is the single source, the one entity from whom everything has come. The Sanskrit phrase is janmadya asya yatah. “From the Absolute Truth has come everything.” The less intelligent person relying only on mental speculation comes up with the theory that all we see around us evolved from a single cell. Through collisions, the passage of time, and the mixing of certain elements, evolution occurred to produce the many species.

Of course, missing from the discussion is the origin of that single cell. From where did it come? More importantly, why was it there? The single cell is essentially the atheist’s version of God. The Vedas provide more clarity, assigning names and attributes to the origin. One of His names is Krishna, which means “all-attractive.” The same Krishna appears in the manifest world from time to time, remaining changeless and supreme, above any kind of evolution.

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

For karma-phala, the devas are there. They are assigned this role by Krishna Himself. The devas are not to ask questions. They simply look for the appropriate worship. That worship can come from any kind of person, the worst character even. If the worship is done properly, then the result comes. In this sense the demigods are running something like an online retail outlet. They look for payment only, and they have many things in stock, from good health to powerful abilities.

2. It is in the nature of a temporary land

The material world is temporary and miserable. Since the world itself is subject to eventual destruction, so is everything achieved while living in it. Results come quickly; otherwise the nature of the land would be violated. A simple example is the moving of the hand. I make the decision to move my hand. The decision is so quick that I don’t have to think long about it. Quickly after making the decision, the hand moves.

In a similar way, by worshiping the devas for fruitive results, the higher powers get into gear to make sure the results manifest. Sometimes the results don’t come, due to limitations in the world. One person asks to land a job, and a competitor seeks the same boon. It is impossible for both to get the desired result. Nevertheless, since the world is temporary, the temporary objects and abilities sought from the demigods tend to arrive quickly.

3. The rapidity is based on the grand scheme

Do you know time? Obviously there is past, present and future, but what about beyond that? In the Bhagavad-gita, Shri Krishna says that the person who really understands time knows about the day and night of Brahma; namely how long they are.

“By human calculation, a thousand ages taken together is the duration of Brahma's one day. And such also is the duration of his night.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 8.17)

Lord Brahma is the creator. He is like the first living entity of the material world. He uses the three modes of material nature to create the various species, which are then inhabited by spirit souls like him. Individual souls are all equal; they simply take up different body types based on karma.

The results of fruitive activity arrive quick in comparison to the length of Brahma’s day. Billions of years is a long time, but that is only a short period of time for the creator. So if my worship of a deva bears fruit in ten years, that is actually nothing in the grand scheme. Even the length of human life is but a blip on a chart of the time continuum.

4. It facilitates illusion

By results arriving quickly, the living entity’s illusion gets strengthened. The illusion is that I am this body and that with this body I am the doer. Though there is worship of a higher power involved, it is the individual who takes up the worship. Therefore they feel proud when achieving this result.

“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)

The material nature actually must cooperate for any results to manifest. The illusion is beneficial in the sense that it fulfills the desire of the living entity to enjoy separate from God. It is something like sitting in a cinema hall and becoming upset over something that happens in the movie. Obviously, the film is scripted and not real, but the viewer intentionally falls into illusion to get the enjoyment they desire. In a similar manner, the desired enjoyment in the material world is to forget God. An easy way to do that is to get the results to fruitive activity quickly.

5. Gods like Shiva are interested in something else

Just because the demigods facilitate the results to karma, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are interested in the temporary. Mahadeva, the great god, is constantly worshiping Krishna in His form of Rama. One of Mahadeva’s many names is Ashutosha, which means “easily pleased.” He does not dedicate much time to his materialistic devotees. They are not really devotees in fact; they are just doing business.

[Krishna and the demigods]If the results to karma were to arrive after a long time, men would lose faith in the process. That would defeat the entire purpose of coming to the material world. The Supreme Lord grants the desires of the living entities. By seeing the behavior of Shiva and other pious souls, whose association is auspicious, hopefully a light bulb goes off. Maybe there is something more to be achieved in this life. Maybe there is something beyond karma, which brings gains that are erased by the passage of time. Maybe it is better to worship the Supreme God, who uses discrimination. Maybe it is better to approach someone who looks out for the spiritual welfare of the devotees; someone who will deny requests that are not of long-term benefit, paramartha.

In Closing:

When worship of demigods properly done,

The results then quickly to come.


To the illusion of identity strength giving,

That I am the doer, with false notion living.


Gods like Shiva diverted elsewhere in mind,

Focus on Rama, for worshipers not much time.


Land is temporary, so are things which to get,

Better if in devotion to Supreme Lord set.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Five Advantages Of The Sannyasa Ashrama

[Lord Chaitanya]“The Supreme Lord said, To give up the results of all activities is called renunciation [tyaga] by the wise. And that state is called the renounced order of life [sannyasa] by great learned men.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 18.2)

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Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu once referenced a verse from shastra which states a prohibition on the acceptance of the sannyasa ashrama in the age of Kali. Chaitanya was a divine preacher appearing in India during the medieval period. Shastra is scripture, ancient works of the Vedas that are timeless, not having a known date of inception. Sannyasa is complete renunciation, and an ashrama is a spiritual institution. The sannyasa-ashrama is the last stage of life if one follows the four ashramas assigned for man.

“In this Age of Kali, five acts are forbidden: the offering of a horse in sacrifice, the offering of a cow in sacrifice, the acceptance of the order of sannyasa, the offering of oblations of flesh to the forefathers, and a man’s begetting children in his brother’s wife.” (Brahma-vaivarta Purana, Krishna-janma-khanda, 185.180)

[Lord Chaitanya]Despite being forbidden, Mahaprabhu Himself accepted sannyasa. He took the renounced order for specific reasons. Since He is a combined incarnation of God and the energy of God, there was no need for Him to accept any external garb or adhere to any formality. Still, by doing so He showed that there are several advantages to the sannyasa-ashrama.

1. No pressure from attachments

I would love to sit and read all day. There are so many books available to me, especially now that we are in the information age. I don’t have to go to the library or bookstore. I can purchase online and have the entire work downloaded and ready to read within seconds. I feel so peaceful after going through an entire book uninterrupted.

The problem is that I rarely get this opportunity. It doesn’t have to involve reading in your case. Just pick whichever activity you enjoy. There are so many pressing engagements that get in the way. These are all rooted in attachment. I am attached to my family, so I have to go to work to support them. Putting a roof over the head and food on the table is not enough. They need to be happy as well. Thus an entire lifetime can be spent dealing with the pressure due to attachments.

Sannyasa does not have this burden. Since it is full renunciation, there is typically no job. You maintain yourself by begging. Even in that there are rules. You’re not supposed to collect more than you need. There is no saving for a rainy day. I beg to get enough for today. Tomorrow I will have to beg again. Through this lifestyle, I am free of the pressures of work.

2. The ability to travel and spread the divine message

The begging is made easier when people see why you are doing it. If they see that you are constantly travelling, from place to place, not staying anywhere for too long, generally they understand that there is a benefit to helping the sannyasi. The sannyasi isn’t really begging; they are providing an opportunity for those with attachments to help someone spread the highest wisdom.

Without the pressure due to attachments, there is nothing to stop a preacher from going from village to village. The knowledge they share is necessary since man easily falls victim to attachments. The sannyasi allows a person to see the future, the sure-to-manifest vision of death wiping everything away.

3. People will respect you

A message is just words, after all. Philosophy is passed on in book form through shastra. What need is there, then, for a travelling preacher, who begs for a living? Can’t the truths of Vedic wisdom be assimilated by a person who has a job? We know intelligent people from all walks of life. Just let the ordinary man assume the burden of teaching society.

Sannyasa automatically brings some credibility. There is respect for a person who has renounced everything. Sannyasa is known as the fearless ashrama. There is no turning back. There is no time to worry about how to survive. Everything is placed in the Lord’s hands. Generally, people acknowledge this sacrifice by offering respect.

4. People put weight in your message

The benefit of receiving that respect is that there is more attention given to the message. It is like standing up in a classroom and making sure everyone is listening. It is one thing to preach detachment from a book, but it is another to live it. The sannyasi gets others to listen just based on the institution they have entered.

Since the message they bring carries extra weight, the sannyasi is also a kind of guru. They don’t have to be officially acknowledged as such, but since they teach the truth about the Supreme Lord, they are a spiritual master. The sannyasi-guru generally gets a lot of attention and respect. Society benefits from having respected people carrying the highest message.

5. Can better focus on God

This is the ultimate benefit to the individual entering the institution. It’s great to be free of the pressure due to attachments, but if you’re not truly self-realized, you’ll just create new attachments. You’ll then feel the pressure again. It’s great to travel from place to place, but if your mind is simply focused on the external beauty of different areas, there is little benefit.

The renounced order is meant for renunciation from material life. Vairagya, combined with jnana, facilitates the practice of bhakti-yoga. His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada translates bhakti-yoga as “Krishna consciousness.” Krishna is a name for God, and so bhakti-yoga is also “God consciousness.”

There is a prohibition on the institution of sannyasa in this present age of quarrel and hypocrisy due to the propensity to cheat. An easy way to avoid working for a living is to put on the garb of a renounced mendicant. Then you can use that position to fill your belly.

[Radha-Krishna worship]Nevertheless, the genuine sannyasi always brings a benefit, both to society and to themselves. Lord Krishna declares that the real meaning to sannyasa is the state of giving up the results to activities. This means that any person can enter the institution, at least in spirit. Indeed, the goal of the valuable human life is to reach this mindset of renunciation and go beyond to the stage of loving God without motive and without interruption.

In Closing:

Chaitanya the sannyasa position taking,

So that benefit for others making.


First that from attachments free,

Can travel anywhere, sleep under a tree.


From there others respect to give,

Attention when hearing of how to live.


Sannyasa tool for in devotion becoming stronger,

Really a spirit, when attached to results no longer.