Saturday, October 15, 2016

Five Things Not Found In Vrindavana

[Krishna and friends in Vrindavana]“Accompanied by the cowherd boys and Balarama, Krishna brought forward the cows and played on His flute through the forest of Vrindavana, which was full of flowers, vegetables, and pasturing grass. The Vrindavana forest was as sanctified as the clear mind of a devotee and was full of bees, flowers and fruits. There were chirping birds and clear water lakes with waters that could relieve one of all fatigues. Sweet flavored breezes blew always, refreshing the mind and body.” (Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 1, Ch 15)

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The separation between the material and spiritual worlds is subtle. The determination in residence is made from desire alone. You can do all the penance you want. Make sure to follow every pious activity mentioned in the book of importance. Be nice to people. Study hard. Don’t be jealous or greedy. Still, unless the desire to associate with God the person is there, the change in residence will not take place.

The desire to please and serve the Supreme Lord is enough to make the entire atmosphere pleasing. The Sanskrit word for the spiritual realm is Vaikuntha. This means a place free of anxieties. There are different planets in Vaikuntha, with one of them being Krishnaloka. This is also known as Vrindavana.

Vrindavana is found in the material world as well. The difference is that the physical and mental are the same in the spiritual world, while in the manifest world the physical may show something different in that sacred land. In the Vrindavana of Vaikuntha many things from modern life are absent. And the enjoyment is still out of this world.

1. Skyscrapers

In an urban area there isn’t much room to expand. It’s not like you can suddenly build out a large park or farmland. The only way to go is up. That’s where the skyscraper comes in handy. You can have a building with over one hundred floors, each containing several offices. This way so many people can work or live inside of a single establishment.

These tall buildings make up what is known as a skyline. Goloka Vrindavana doesn’t have such tall buildings. Instead, the people are happy in simple dwellings. The roofs are accessible, and everyone is beyond pleased to have a birds-eye view of Shri Krishna, the proprietor of the land. When He walks home from a day of tending to the calves, the people are enraptured. The branches on the trees are high enough for the parrots and other birds to take the same delight.

2. Motor cars

I can live far away from where I work. I don’t have to purchase a house nearby, especially if the real estate is not to my liking. I can make the long journey each day due to motor cars. The trip doesn’t take that long, and I can listen to my favorite radio shows while adjusting the climate to my preference. There are other cars, though, which cause trouble sometimes.

Motor cars are absent in the spiritual world. The people are happy to travel by foot. If they need to transport cargo, there is the bullock cart. Horses and cows are enough to keep people happy. The Supreme Lord travels barefoot. His soft soles are not hurt by the ground at all. Rather, even the grass in Vrindavana consists of liberated souls, living entities who became completely sinless and beyond through desiring to serve God the person.

3. Smartphones

It’s a Friday night. I’ve had a tough week of work. I’ve plopped myself on the couch and started to binge watch a television show I used to watch as a child thirty years ago. This is great. I don’t even have to lift the remote. The app on the television automatically plays the episodes in sequence.

I’m getting a little hungry, though. No problem. I just pick up my smartphone that is next to me. Within thirty minutes there is someone at the front door with a pizza. I don’t even have to reach for my wallet. Everything is paid for through the phone.

This is a glimpse into modern life. The smartphone is almost a necessity, something you can’t live without. It’s like carrying a powerful computer with you. In the spiritual world there are no smartphones. People are blissful beyond belief without needing any sort of technological gadget. They take pleasure in serving Krishna and seeing Him. Who could phone them that would give more pleasure? What program is superior to the sight of the all-attractive one? The food is taken with consciousness of that darling child of Nanda and Yashoda, thus automatically providing the best taste.

4. Twenty-four hour stores

Most delivery places close at a certain hour. Plus, I’m out of certain essentials for the home. No need to worry. I can get in the car and go to a store that is open twenty-four hours a day. At night there are less shoppers, too. How can people live without these stores?

In the spiritual world the living conditions are very simple. Vrindavana is a rural area. It has so many cows, each of which is special. The cow is a wish-fulfilling one, kama-dhenu. You can ask it for anything, and what you desire will manifest in a second. Still, the people only want bhakti, or devotion. In fact, they are so pure of heart that they don’t even think in terms of religion and irreligion, devotion and non-devotion. They seek only the pleasure of Shyamasundara, the beautiful one with a dark complexion, like that of a raincloud.

5. Endless distractions to devotional service

Maya is illusion. A single illusory object does the trick, but in the material world there is comprehensiveness. There are millions of objects of attachment that have nothing to do with spiritual life. The wise person can implement the practice of yukta-vairagya to spiritualize these objects, but in the higher understanding all that is needed is the proper consciousness.

[Krishna and friends in Vrindavana]Goloka Vrindavana has yogamaya, which is the energy controlled by God for the benefit of His devotees. Illusion is absent, since whatever the living entities do, their consciousness of Krishna remains. This shows the power of love and devotion to God. If you have it, then you can live without practically anything that you are attached to at present. Not only can you go without, but you experience a level of happiness never before known.

In Closing:

To live without smartphone how?

Need to check latest news now.


With motor car at high speeds to travel,

Arrive on time, lest my work unravel.


Absent in Vrindavana these things and more,

Best supplier is Krishna, no need for a store.


Going without, feeling bliss beyond belief,

Life in Vaikuntha free of anxiety and grief.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Five Examples Of Hanuman’s Humility

[Shri Hanuman]“By my good fortune I shall be able to remove the grief of the army of monkeys who were lamenting, telling them of my having found you.” (Hanuman speaking to Sita Devi, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 35.77)

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Shri Hanuman is the dedicated servant of the Supreme Personality of Godhead in His incarnation of Rama. Hanuman is famously depicted in pictures and statues holding a mountain in his hand as he swiftly courses through the air. The image brings to life the incident described in the Ramayana, where there was a dire need of medicine available only on a specific mountain. Having difficulty locating the exact plant required, Hanuman decided to uproot the entire mountain and bring it with him.

That incident shows his amazing strength and also his eagerness to please Rama. Among his many other qualities is Hanuman’s humility. For someone who has done so much, who has broken through the barriers of gravity, time and self-doubt, this trait is one of the more difficult ones to maintain. But from many incidents we see that not only is he humble, but that humility is unlike anything we’ve seen.

1. Remarking on his good fortune when having found Sita

Hanuman met Rama in the Kishkindha forest. Rama and His younger brother Lakshmana were looking for Sita, Rama’s wife. Very quickly after that initial meeting, Hanuman found himself working for Rama. He and other Vanaras from the area went on a search that spanned the entire world. Their mission was to find Sita and then return home with the information of her whereabouts.

It so happened that once Sita’s location was learned, Hanuman was the only one who had a chance at reaching her. He was able to continue on due to possessing different siddhis of yoga. These are perfections, something like abilities, achieved after steady practice in mysticism. Hanuman didn’t need to spend any time in meditational yoga; he received several boons from demigods when he was younger.

Making use of these siddhis at the appropriate time, he finally reached Sita, who was in the Ashoka grove in Lanka. Hanuman had every reason to be proud of his accomplishment. The journey wasn’t easy. He had to cross over a massive ocean. He had to roam through a city undetected. Yet when he found Sita, he remarked on how it was his good fortune to have succeeded. He thought of his Vanara friends and how happy they would be that he succeeded.

2. Keeping attention on a wasted effort

After he reached Lanka, Hanuman still had a difficult time finding Sita. As mentioned before, any person would have been proud for crossing the ocean in a single leap. There were obstacles along the way, also, and Hanuman overcame them too.

Yet the mission wasn’t over yet. Success was on the horizon, but there was no way for Hanuman to know that. He several times reminded himself of the need to ensure that his great feats shouldn’t go to waste. Only a truly humble person would think this way. His interest is always tied to Rama’s. That is why Hanuman is always in yoga. He has an unbreakable connection to the Divine. He is always concerned with the happiness of Sita and Rama; not his own reputation.

3. Deprecating himself when first meeting Ravana’s men

Sita was in Lanka against her will due to the wickedness of the king, Ravana. After Hanuman met Sita and assured her of Rama’s imminent arrival, he decided to mess the place up a bit on his way out. Naturally, this caught the attention of Ravana’s men. They were Rakshasas, which are like man-eating ogres of bad character.

When Hanuman first met these men, he told them that he was a servant and that there were many more monkeys like him on their way. Essentially, the best was yet to come. The Rakshasas would be meeting even more destruction in the future. Yet it was only Hanuman who could even reach Lanka. Out of all the soldiers in the army of Sugriva, the Vanara-king in Kishkindha, Hanuman was the best. Hanuman genuinely felt so much affection for his friends that he never spoke so highly of himself. When an occasion would call for confidence, Hanuman would make bold declarations, but on the inside he is the most humble person always.

4. Being bound by Brahma’s weapon

In the ensuing fight, Hanuman held his own. Then one of Ravana’s sons unleashed a weapon that originally came from Lord Brahma, the creator. Out of respect for Brahma, Hanuman allowed the weapon to bind him. Hanuman was not too proud to be captured. There was nothing to worry over, as having audience with Ravana might prove valuable in the future. Though Hanuman is so dear to Sita and Rama, he never thinks he is better than anyone else.

5. Intentionally breaking the Hanumad Ramayana

The story of Hanuman is included in the lengthy poem known as the Ramayana, which is dedicated to Rama’s life and pastimes. The author of the Ramayana is Valmiki, who rightfully so has received so much credit and praise over the years for the quality of the work. Sanskrit is not an easy language, and the Ramayana was composed at a time before printing presses. The sages during ancient times could recite such lengthy works from memory alone.

Centuries ago there was another famous writer of Vedic texts known as Kalidasa. One time he found a tablet that had words written on it that no one could decipher. They were in an unrecognizable script. Kalidasa deduced that the tablet had words from a work known as the Hanumad Ramayana, which was composed by Shri Hanuman himself.

The legend goes that after the victory over Ravana, Hanuman decided to compose his own work as a way to remember his beloved Rama and everything that happened. Valmiki one time met with Hanuman and saw the amazing quality of this work. Valmiki felt defeated, judging that his own work was less in quality compared to Hanuman’s. At that instant, Hanuman decided to destroy his own work, composed on stone.

[Shri Hanuman]This is likely the greatest illustration of Hanuman’s humility. Who wouldn’t want to preserve something of such high quality that they created themselves? Yet Valmiki’s feelings were more important to Hanuman. Hanuman has real ego; he determines his self-worth on the happiness of the Supreme Lord. Hanuman has no desire for fame, though he is the most famous. He is not proud, though he has the most over which to be proud. For these reasons and more he remains forever dear to the devoted souls.

In Closing:

Though perfections of yoga to own,

Most humility by Hanuman shown.


Like when Lanka in fury razing,

His monkey friends first praising.


Though over the ocean flown,

Not puffed up from effort his own.


Though Ramayana writing on stone,

Prefers credit for Valmiki alone.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Five Places I Want To Visit

[Jagannatha deities]“One can be free from all sinful reactions after reaching a place of pilgrimage, but one can have the same benefit at home or at any place simply by chanting the holy name of the Lord. For a pure devotee, there is no need to go to the holy place of pilgrimage. He can be delivered from all sinful acts simply by remembering the Lord in earnestness.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 2.7.15 Purport)

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Something common to Vedic culture is spiritual tourism. Perfectly suited for those in the vanaprastha ashrama, which is like retirement but not yet complete renunciation from family life, the idea is to use the propensity to travel to different places to become more spiritually aware. Ideally, the atmosphere at tirthas, or places of pilgrimage, is conducive to the continuation of the purification of consciousness, which should be a lifelong pursuit.

“Rupa Gosvami has stated that five kinds of devotional activities - namely, residing in Mathura, worshiping the Deity of the Lord, reciting Shrimad-Bhagavatam, serving a devotee, and chanting the Hare Krishna mantra - are so potent that a small attachment for any one of these five items can arouse devotional ecstasy even in a neophyte.” (The Nectar of Devotion, Ch 13)

It is even recommended that a person serious about their desire for yoga, connection with the Divine, should reside in a place of pilgrimage. There are two benefits. One is the association of saintly people. This is the main benefit. In times past, prior to books, the internet, and advancements in travel, the only way to get knowledge of the soul and the goal of life was to approach a saintly person. Talking to them is one thing, but where to find them? They tend to congregate at tirthas; thus making spiritual tourism all the more important.

The second benefit is remembrance of the Supreme Lord, who is a person in His complete and original feature. The association of saintly people helps in this regard since they can deliver Hari-katha, or discourses about God. The holy name of the Lord is so powerful that it brings the same benefit as visiting these different places. And the power of the word describing God is so strong that simply reading or hearing about these places is as good as visiting them. For the Vaishnava, the devotee of the personal God, there are many places of importance, places that would be ideal for travelling to, either physically or using the mind.

1. Jagannatha Puri

This is a city in the state of Orissa in India. The city’s name is simply Puri, but it has come to be known as Jagannatha Puri since the main focus of the town is worship of God in His role as Lord of the universe. Puri has a specific temple within it that has a rich history. It is the place where Jagannatha was first worshiped formally. His specific deity form is unique from other forms. There are several stories relating to the origin, and they date back prior to the written word itself.

“In the Brahmanda Purana it is said: ‘A person who sees the Lord's Ratha-yatra car festival and then stands up to receive the Lord can purge all kinds of sinful results from his body.’” (The Nectar of Devotion, Ch 9)

[Jagannatha deities]The Jagannatha temple features three main deities: Jagannatha, Subhadra and Baladeva. They represent Shri Krishna, His sister and His brother. During the earthly pastimes of Shri Krishna, there was once a solar eclipse that brought so many people together at the sacred place of Kurukshetra. The same trio was there at that time, and the annual observance of Ratha-yatra celebrates that occasion from a long time back. Lord Jagannatha is known for being especially merciful to the fallen, low-class. Though the temple today restricts entry, the entire city is filled with places of importance. Shri Krishna Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, the preacher incarnation of God, lived in Puri for many years.

2. Vrindavana

The all-attractive one appeared in this world in the town of Mathura, but shortly thereafter He shifted to Vrindavana. This is a replica of the same land that exists in the spiritual world, Vaikuntha. Vrindavana is a pristine forest area, filled with the tulasi plant. She is known as the goddess of devotion, so bhakti is everywhere in the land of Vrindavana.

[Lord Krishna]When visiting this place a person is reminded of the childhood pastimes of Shri Krishna, which involve the parents Nanda and Yashoda, the friends like Subala and Madhumangala, and the paramours like Radha and Lalita. There are thousands of temples in that small area today, and in every corner a person can find devotees of Radha and Krishna. Visiting this place allows for rapid advancement in the ultimate aim of life: pure God consciousness.

3. Dvaraka

During His earthly pastimes, Krishna did not stay in Vrindavana for long. He left in adulthood and later became the king of a city in the sea, Dvaraka. Protected by gates all around, Krishna lived here with His many queens. The city was very opulent and the citizens were happy. The area can still be found today, though the palaces later became submerged in water. This occurred after Krishna returned to the spiritual world. Visiting Dvaraka, either mentally or physically, reminds one of the opulence of the Supreme Lord. He can maintain over sixteen thousand wives without a problem, and He welcomes guests like Narada Rishi and Sudama Vipra with the utmost care and attention.

4. Ayodhya

This is the birthplace of Shri Rama, who is the same Krishna but appearing on earth many thousands of years prior. Rama is known by many other names, such as Ayodhya-pati, Raghu-pati, and Ikshvaku-nandana. These reference His link to the sacred land of Ayodhya and the dynasty that protected the citizens during ancient times.

To remember Rama is to remember God Himself. By visiting Ayodhya, the struggle of King Dasharatha comes to mind, how he waited so long to have a son. The childhood play of Rama and His three younger brothers brings further attachment to that wonderful family. Ayodhya is where Rama later lived with His beautiful and chaste wife Sita.

5. Chitrakuta

Rama’s pastimes weren’t all peaceful or in the joy of family bliss. There were struggles as well, all documented in the Sanskrit work of epic length known as the Ramayana. One time Rama had to leave the kingdom, and He took Sita and Lakshmana with Him. Lakshmana was the younger brother always by Rama’s side. Like a fish taken out of water, he could not live without Rama.

“O Rama, You should know that just as fish cannot survive when taken out of water, neither Sita nor I can live without You for even a moment.” (Lakshmana speaking to Lord Rama, Valmiki Ramayana, Ayodhya Kand, 53.31)

[Rama, Sita and Lakshmana in forest]At one time the trio took up residence in the forest area known as Chitrakuta. The sage Bharadvaja advised them to go there. In the Ramacharitamanasa, which is another telling of Rama’s pastimes on earth, the sage Valmiki points the way to this wonderful place. The creation goes through cycles, so the sequence of events in Rama’s life on earth aren’t always identical. Nevertheless, the importance of Chitrakuta is prominent. The trio lived happily in peace. By remembering Rama at that place, a person strips away the opulence of the Supreme and sees Him in a renounced setting, where even the animals get to offer their devotion.

In Closing:

See God in variety of setting,

Without travel benefit getting.


Just keeping image in the mind,

Peace and tranquility to find.


Importance to such a place,

Since Lord His presence to grace.


Vrindavana, Dvaraka and Puri in this world existing,

God’s pastimes there eternally persisting.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Why Would You Want To Go Backwards

[Krishna's lotus feet]“Persons who have acted piously in previous lives and in this life, whose sinful actions are completely eradicated and who are freed from the duality of delusion, engage themselves in My service with determination.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.28)

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Friend1: I’m back with my favorite topic.

Friend2: The soul?

Friend1: Come on. You know what it is.

Friend2: Comparing different religions?

Friend1: Demigod worship!

Friend2: Oh, right. You do love to talk about that. What angle are you going to argue this time?

Friend1: I feel like I am an advocate for the different sides. They need to be represented, lest you get away with dominating with your slanted view.

Friend2: I’m sure the different viewpoints are generated by you alone, considering how doubtful you are about the bhakti path. Anyway, please proceed.

Friend1: I know people who feel something special by doing formal worship ceremonies in the home.

Friend2: Pujas?

[puja]Friend1: Yes. Whatever the purpose, there is auspiciousness in the air. Everyone is benefitted as a result.

Friend2: Well, before you proceed further, remember that word “purpose.” That is the key.

Friend1: Why are you against this? Shouldn’t people be encouraged to worship in the way they prefer?

Friend2: Who says I am against it?

Friend1: Come on. I know how much you love to quote that verse from the Bhagavad-gita calling demigod worshipers less intelligent.

Friend2: “Men of small intelligence worship the demigods, and their fruits are limited and temporary. Those who worship the demigods go to the planets of the demigods, but My devotees ultimately reach My supreme planet.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.23)

Friend1: Right on cue.

Friend2: What did you expect?

Friend1: That’s all you’ve got? You quote the verse and that’s it?

Friend2: Listen. Just because Krishna calls them less intelligent, it doesn’t mean that the worshipers of the demigods are completely devoid of spiritual benefit. It is good that they feel positive as a result. It is certainly much better to worship in that way than to have no connection to spiritual life at all. Remember, it is Krishna who also advises worship of the devas as a means of showing respect for receiving rainfall and the like.

Friend1: Oh yeah. That’s true.

Friend2: Getting back to that “purpose” thing you mentioned before. In these pujas, the benefit is not hidden. I’ll give you an example. In one of the pujas, it is mentioned that the fruit received is elevation to the planet of Satyaloka.

Friend1: That’s from doing the puja one time?

Friend2: Maybe it’s if you are faithful to it, such as performing it once a month. Satyaloka can refer to the material world or the spiritual world. In the case of pujas to the demigods or for the purpose of material benefit, Satyaloka is the same as Brahmaloka.

Friend1: That’s where Lord Brahma, the creator, lives?

Friend2: Right. He lives for the longest time known to man. Still, his planet is part of the material world, and thus subject to destruction.

Friend1: And your point is that the human being should follow religious life that brings eternal benefits.

Friend2: The easiest way to understand is to think of progress. Demigod worship is something like moving backwards, especially if you have the knowledge of the Bhagavad-gita. Krishna mentions that a person who has already been freed of sins takes up devotion to Him. This means that if you have the chance for bhakti-yoga, to chant the holy names, you have already done so many pujas in your past lives. By continuing in that path, you are essentially going backwards. Why would you want to do that? Huh? Tell me.

Friend1: [laughs] Okay, that makes sense to me. It’s like going back to learning the alphabet in school if you are already in a higher grade.

[Krishna's lotus feet]Friend2: There you go. Don’t squander the opportunity. Know that every demigod has been satisfied if you take up devotion to God the person in earnest. Move forward.

In Closing:

Why demigod worship to choose,

When like backwards to move?


Of temporary fruits, not to last,

Like time devouring everything fast.


Know that already in worship spent,

When devotion to Supreme Lord sent.


When with no material desires at all,

In highest stage of worship to call.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Five Reasons Rama Could Not Find His Wife

[Shri Rama in Hanuman's heart]“How can I ensure that the purpose of my task does not get destroyed? How shall I avoid mental disparity, and how do I ensure that my crossing of the ocean does not go for naught?” (Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 2.41)

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The Ramayana is an epic Sanskrit work of the Vedic tradition, but over the course of history its influence has spread to other traditions as well. To the adventurists, it is a great triumph against the odds. It is overcoming obstacles that life invariably throws your way. To the secularists, it is the embodiment of the struggle of good against evil. There are ideal characters of every persuasion, and they each play the role assigned to them perfectly. Before any superheroes were created, before any blockbuster movies were filmed, the Ramayana was there to give entertainment, education and inspiration.

To the wise the Ramayana is the detailed history of the life and pastimes of Shri Rama, the main character who is also an incarnation of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Lila-smaranam is enough to make life perfect. Just remember the pastimes of God. Since He has pastimes, He is a person; He is more than just an energy.

Since the Ramayana involves a main storyline, there are ups and downs. Not everything goes right for Rama and those around Him. One puzzling aspect is when Rama’s wife Sita Devi goes missing. This occurs while the couple is residing in the forest of Dandaka with Rama’s younger brother Lakshmana. How can God’s wife ever leave His company? How can He not know where she is? Of course, there are many reasons to explain the dramatic shift in the storyline.

1. To stick to the script

The Ramayana is the Divine play of Shri Rama, after all. Part of the script is that no one knows for sure who Rama actually is. Otherwise, there would be little enjoyment for the Supreme Lord. If everyone knew He was the Divine Himself, there would be only awe and reverence from the devoted. The asuras would still fight against Him, trying to test just how great God is. Rama is not sympathetic to their desires. The asuras act this way regardless. The reason for birth in the material world is antagonism towards God.

The devotees take joy and pleasure through interacting with the Supreme in different moods. The incarnation of Rama allows this to occur. The script is laid out beforehand. Evidence is there in the fact that Maharishi Valmiki composed the Ramayana prior to Rama’s advent on earth. By not being able to find Sita after she went missing, Rama simply stuck to the script that He was a human being. He was still an extraordinary one at that; purushottama.

2. To allow time to work its magic

As we learn from the Bhagavad-gita, time, or kala, works at the direction of the Supreme Lord. It is the great devouring enemy. It is the agent of change, manipulating the manifestation of prakriti, which is the material nature. Time effects changes that are slated to occur because of karma, or fruitive activity. Karma is accumulated by the jivas, which are living entities combined with a material covering.

“The Blessed Lord said: Time I am, destroyer of the worlds, and I have come to engage all people. With the exception of you [the Pandavas], all the soldiers here on both sides will be slain.” (Bhagavad-gita, 11.32)

For Rama, past, present and future are all the same. When Sita went missing, that was a situation particular to a time. Actually, they are always together. As assessed in consideration of the time continuum, soon Sita and Rama would be together again. The gap in time is what fools the reader into thinking that Rama could not find her. This time period allowed other events to take place, which was the intended effect.

3. To show the amazing devotion of Sita

As Rama is an incarnation of Narayana, or the source of men, Sita is an incarnation of Lakshmi, who is the goddess of fortune. Lakshmi is well-known in the Vedic tradition. She is a devoted wife to Narayana, but those with a materialistic mindset think of her mostly in the role of granting benedictions. Since she is in charge of the fortune belonging to her husband, she can share that fortune with anyone who pleases her.

[Sita Devi]The incarnation of Sita shows that there is much more to Lakshmi. She has amazing devotion. How much? She refused to stay home for fourteen years when Rama was banished from the kingdom. As if that weren’t proof enough, when she went missing from Rama, she persevered through the harshest conditions. The fiendish king from Lanka, Ravana, took her against her will and tried to hide her from the rest of the world. He promised to make her the chief queen if she submitted to his advances. She refused. She would not accept anything from Ravana. She displayed tremendous strength, which is rooted in her devotion to her husband. All of this became vividly clear in the time that Rama spent searching for her.

4. To show how devotion to God can be found in any type of body

The Vedas handicap success for spiritual life by describing the different castes, which are nothing more than divisions based on the type of material qualities, gunas, assumed at the time of birth. The lower castes are generally more in maya, or illusion, while the higher castes are more pure. The idea is that there is a better chance to succeed in spiritual life if you are less distracted by things like wine, money, gambling, and illicit sex.

Nevertheless, devotional service, bhakti-yoga, is never bound by conditions. It is love; the real kind. Thus it can be found in any type of body. When Sita went missing, a large group of Vanaras went to work. They were ordered to find her by their leader, Sugriva. These were monkey-like creatures, obviously not known for their intelligence. Their lifestyle hardly resembled civilized culture. Yet they were so dear to Rama. Their devotion to Him, shown through enthusiastically scouring the world, was just as important to Him as Sita’s dedication.

5. To glorify Shri Hanuman

The best of the Vanaras is Hanuman. The lengthy Ramayana is divided into a handful of sections. Hanuman has an entire section dedicated to his journey to Lanka to find Sita. This would not have been possible if Rama simply told everyone where she was. Rama is the Supersoul, Paramatma. He is the all-pervading witness. This means that He sees what everyone is doing. He knows exactly where they are. He is intelligence, remembrance, and forgetfulness.

“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)

[Shri Rama in Hanuman's heart]By not knowing where Sita was, Rama allowed Hanuman to shine. Hanuman’s journey is very important. He is perhaps the most famous and widely worshiped of the deities of the Vedic tradition today. This is all due to his amazing service to Rama, which was on full display in that long, difficult, and dangerous journey to Lanka to find Sita. It was a journey that ended in success.

In Closing:

As Supersoul resting in every heart,

So why not locate Sita from the start?


Why to send monkeys there,

When as Paramatma always aware?


That Maricha as golden deer tricking,

Part of larger play, to script sticking.


Rama allowing for Hanuman to shine,

Sundara-kanda way for devotion to define.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Dussehra 2016

[Lakshmana]“Striking their breasts in affliction because their husbands had been killed by the arrows of Lakshmana, the women embraced their respective husbands and cried piteously in voices appealing to everyone.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 9.10.25)

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The celebration of the triumph of good over evil. The righteous finally ending the reign of terror of the unrighteous. Perseverance, dedication, and pious behavior eventually winning out over sin, succumbing to the sense urges, and ignoring wise counsel. These are different ways to describe the occasion of Dussehra, which is the anniversary day of the victory of Shri Rama over the wicked king of Lanka, Ravana.

Rama is a special incarnation of the Supreme Lord. The avatara is sometimes described as the saguna version of Brahman, which is the spiritual energy. In fact, the Supreme is Parabrahman, which distinguishes Him from the spotless spirit souls inhabiting this and many other universes. There is the energy and there is the energetic. There is the power in the form of electricity and the powerhouse in the form of the place that generates the electricity.

God is the powerful and we are the power. We are similar to Him in qualitative makeup, but vastly inferior in terms of quantitative ability. Even if we amass great material strength while living in a temporary body, that potency is nothing compared to what belongs to God. The occasion of Dussehra is a vivid reminder. That potency is there not only in Rama, but in His expansions as well.

[Lord Rama]Ravana followed the unrighteous path. It looked like he was winning. Judging by only a snapshot in time, Ravana had everything and Rama had nothing. Ravana had an opulent kingdom, with gold everywhere. There was so much meat to enjoy, and wine flowed like water. The citizens lived in fear of him, but they were happy for the moment.

Meanwhile, Rama was living in the forest, a member of the warrior class though looking like an ascetic. He had His younger brother Lakshmana, who was also a warrior. Rama’s wife Sita accompanied the group as well. That was it. They lived in a hut built by Lakshmana. It was built with unending love, and so Rama and Sita were pleased living there.

“Oh Rama, for as long as You shall stand before me, even if it be for one hundred years, I will always remain Your servant. Therefore You should be the one to choose a beautiful and appropriate place for the cottage. After You have selected a spot, please then command me to start building.” (Lakshmana speaking to Lord Rama, Valmiki Ramayana, Aranya Kand, 15.7)

Taking another snapshot in time, things got even worse. Ravana now had Sita, after he took her away in secret, using a ruse. Rama was without His beloved, and she without Him. Does this mean that evil triumphs over good? Is it better to simply enjoy as much as possible, before inevitable death destroys everything?

Actually, the work in karma is like planting a seed that develops fruit. Not all those fruits are tasty and conducive to good health. Some of them are poisonous, depending on the nature of activity. Ravana and his men had done some horrible things. Just as the trees produce flowers during the appropriate season, these Rakshasas, or man-eaters, were slated to get their punishment at the appropriate time.

“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)

Destruction came for Ravana, and it was massive. There was a long battle between the two sides. The result was death for the people in Ravana’s army. Dussehra celebrates the culminating stage of the conflict, the victory of Rama over Ravana.

But there were other victories as well. As the Shrimad Bhagavatam notes, Lakshmana’s arrows also did great damage. After the war was over, the women who lost their husbands came to the battlefield and bewailed their plight. Lakshmana had killed their husbands, and the tragedy could be traced to sinful behavior. If Ravana and his men had not offended the Supreme Lord so greatly, they would have continued to live safely. The women would not have been made widows.

[Lakshmana]Lakshmana is God’s number one protector. He comes in other forms as well, most notably as the original guru. The representative that is the spiritual master is empowered by Lakshmana to destroy the sinful desires lying within. The same arrows fly and strike at the heart of ignorance, laziness, despair, and foolishness related to association with the temporary body. Just as Lakshmana helped Rama to reclaim the beloved Sita, the representative helps the Supreme Lord to bring back the lost souls into the eternal engagement that is devotional service. On the occasion of Dussehra, we remember that amazing snapshot in time, when dharma triumphed over adharma in a big way.

In Closing:

Dussehra celebrated today,

How Rama’s arrows made their way.


To king of Lanka’s chest,

Destroyed by fighter the best.


From Lakshmana also arrows sailed,

Husbands dead, wives of demons bewailed.


For the cause of brother the hero fighting,

Same spark in representatives igniting.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Five Ways To See Into The Future

[Krishna speaking to Arjuna]“I am the Self, O Gudakesha, seated in the hearts of all creatures. I am the beginning, the middle and the end of all beings.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 10.20)

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Time travel has been the fantasy for so many writers since so long back. Wouldn’t it be neat to go back to any time in history and relive events? Just sit there and observe. You know what the outcome is, so there is no need to worry.

Wouldn’t it be great to fast forward through boring times. Let me see what the final matchup will be in a tournament instead of having to wait for the early rounds to finish. Let me see what life on earth will be like in a hundred years.

Such travel is impossible due to the very definition of time. Time is the manifestation of the material elements at a specific moment. There is no way to go forward or backward since time continues to operate. There is a way to get an idea of the past, present and future without breaking the laws of nature. The way is through the eyes of scripture, shastra-chakshu.

1. Look to the past

We know about the past through recorded history. It is recorded in book form and also in an aural tradition. For instance, we know where and when we were born based on the testimony of others. Our mother was there. Our father was likely around as well. Their authority alone can establish the time and place of our birth.

Before that there are others with their own testimony. One thing we know about the past is that everyone has died. No one has continued to live on. Of course people are living today, and there is no way of knowing exactly what will happen in the future. We are sure from the past that every person who took birth eventually passed on. The past is a good indication of what will happen going forward.

2. Look at children being born

This is looking at the present. We see new life arriving before our very eyes. This arrival is the same as what occurred previously. These souls are coming from somewhere. The Bhagavad-gita sheds light on the mystery.

“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 souls are arriving from previously completed lives. Death leading to birth. This is called transmigration. The process applies continually. In the last five minutes I have changed. The shift is more subtle than if I was to compare over a longer period of time, but the change is there nonetheless. This means that the soul is different from the body. The soul remains constant, whereas the body continues to change. The transmigration of the soul gives a good idea of what will occur going forward. People will die and people will be born.

3. Look at the universal form

This is accomplished through reading scriptural works like the Bhagavad-gita. The universal form is known as the virata-rupa. It has been shown only a few times in history, and the only person who can show it is the Supreme Lord. When He was on the battlefield of Kurukshetra some five thousand years ago as Shri Krishna, He showed a unique version of it to the distressed warrior Arjuna.

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

In addition to cramming everything in the material creation into a single image, there is also motion to the universal form. It shows past, present and future. Arjuna saw all the soldiers for the opposing army rushing into Krishna’s mouths. This was an indication of what was to happen in the future. Creation, maintenance and destruction. These three things will happen in a material existence. Thus in one sense the future is certain.

4. Look at statements about Kali Yuga

The present age is known as Kali Yuga. This is a time where quarrel and hypocrisy run rampant. Kali is designated through a comparison to past ages, or time periods. The qualities of Kali Yuga were described prior to its advent. The Shrimad Bhagavatam has detailed predictions about what life will be like in the dark age.

“O learned one, in this iron age of Kali men have but short lives. They are quarrelsome, lazy, misguided, unlucky and, above all, always disturbed.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 1.1.10)

Many of these predictions have already come true. There will be more decline in dharma, or righteousness. There is even a Purana known as Bhavishya, which means “future.” Thus shastra alone facilitates time travel into the future.

5. Look at the day of Brahma

Krishna says that the person who understands the length of Brahma’s day and night actually understands time. We are interested with what will happen in one hundred years, but even a thousand years is nothing compared to the overall timeline of the creation. And the creation goes through cycles, endless ones at that. The first living entity, Lord Brahma, lives for an extremely long time. Despite being around for billions of years, even he must die.

“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)

[Krishna speaking to Arjuna]Through understanding the length of Brahma’s day and night, we see that the specifics of time in the material world are not that important. The future over which to be concerned is the soul’s destination. There is a way to find eternal happiness, and it is through bhakti-yoga, or devotional service. In the spiritual land of Vrindavana, time is present but it lacks a negative influence. There is no destruction. There is simply nectar at every moment, overflowing but never to the point of being too much. A taste of this timelessness can be experienced even in the mortal world through pure devotion to Krishna, who is the beginning, middle and end of everything.

In Closing:

Where in the future I’ll be,

Through shastra a way to see.


Bhagavatam predictions to make,

In age of Kali slumber difficult from to awake.


Through the past also seeing,

How death destiny for every being.


Taste of eternal life through Krishna’s grace.

Through Him time’s influence to erase.