Saturday, October 29, 2016

Diwali 2016

[Diwali]“Today evening in the city of Raghuvira there is great splendor and beauty. The Lord of Ayodhya is seeing the lovely festival of Diwali, which does so much good.” (Gitavali, 309.01)

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sām̐jha samaya raghubīra-purīkī sobhā āju banī |
lalita dīpamālikā bilokahiṁ hita kari avadhadhanī ||

How old is the festival of Diwali? Go millions of years into the past, when the king of Ayodhya was the Supreme Lord Himself, appearing in an incarnation form. Known as Shri Ramachandra for His spiritual attributes, or gunas, He earned many other names through His great actions and deeds. On the sacred occasion of Diwali, we remember Him fondly as Raghuvira, the hero of the Raghu dynasty, and Avadha-dhani, the Lord of Ayodhya.

“In order to deliver the pious and to annihilate the miscreants, as well as to reestablish the principles of religion, I advent Myself millennium after millennium.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.8)

That hero lived up to the name Raghuvira by protecting the pious and annihilating the miscreants. In His form of Krishna, He would later make that promise in the Bhagavad-gita. He appears millennium after millennium to annihilate the miscreants and to protect the sadhus, who are the pious souls.

In Rama’s time the miscreants were the Rakshasas from Lanka. These were like man-eating ogres. Their enemy was the pious. The sadhus living peacefully in the forest, not harming anyone, not chasing after the almighty dollar, not competing in the business world to get ahead. The ogres would attack at night, in the darkness and with a masked shape. They would pounce right at the time of sacrifice, yajna, which was when the penance and austerity of the sadhus was set to bear fruit, both personally and to society at large.

“Then I, resembling a cloud and having molten-golden earrings, made my way into Vishvamitra’s ashrama, for I was very proud of my strength due to the boon given to me by Lord Brahma. As soon as I entered, Rama quickly noticed me and raised His weapon. Though He saw me, Rama strung His bow without any fear.” (Maricha speaking to Ravana, Valmiki Ramayana, Aranya Kand, 38.16-17)

[Shri Rama]Rama protected the yajnas when He lived in the forest for a while with Vishvamitra, the spiritual guide, and Lakshmana, His devoted younger brother. The uniqueness of Diwali is that it is something like a yajna, except it is done for the benefit of the Supreme Lord. It is like wishing auspiciousness for someone very dear to you, except that person is the most powerful in the world. He is the protector of the living entities struggling in a material existence.

Yet in Ayodhya the people set up rows of lamps, dipas, in His honor. When Rama triumphantly returned home from having rid the world of the king of Rakshasas, He received a hero’s welcome. That celebration became an annual occasion, one which Rama later happily enjoyed.

In this verse from the Gitavali of Goswami Tulsidas, we are transported back in time, to a wonderful evening in Raghuvira’s city. There is auspiciousness in the air, as the people have set up rows of dipas in Rama’s honor, just like on the night of His return home. The poet uses the words “hita kari,” to indicate that this festive occasion does the most good.

[Diwali]The people were not crazy. They know that God is Almighty. They know that He is great. They know that He is ultimately in charge of all His energies, including the material world. They know the cycle of rebirth, and how pious activity brings one further along the path of liberation, and how impiety keeps a person bound to rebirth perpetually, sometimes going to the lower species, where there is no chance at serving God.

Ah, but that service is what is most important to them. The people don’t mind if they ascend to heaven or go to hell, their only desire is to please Rama. They wish for His welfare. They celebrate Diwali in His honor, to make Him happy. Since Rama is the Supersoul, a personal but unmanifest expansion residing within the heart of every creature, He sees and appreciates such celebrations. He protects the devotion of the devotees. This is why He is identical to bhakti-yoga. He reciprocates by always remaining in the consciousness of the devotees. On the occasion of Diwali, He watches in great appreciation and joy.

In Closing:

Today most wonderful night,

Rows of dipas celebrating light.


Even hero of Raghu dynasty bright,

Watching happily in delight.


People for His welfare praying,

Highest possible love displaying.


Diwali for this purpose meant,

Auspicious time in devotion spent.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Five Examples Of Sinful Reaction From Doing Nothing

[Krishna speaking to Arjuna]“One who sees inaction in action, and action in inaction, is intelligent among men, and he is in the transcendental position, although engaged in all sorts of activities.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.18)

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The result was a war that saw the deaths of millions. The main cause, the leading fighter for the ultimately victorious side, Arjuna, didn’t want to fight at first. He was ready to lay down his weapons, retire to the forest, and avoid the consequences to destroying friends and family fighting for the opposing side.

It was his dear friend, cousin, and charioteer who got his mind right. The close friend turned into a guru at Arjuna’s behest and then urged the warrior to stand up and fight. That person is purported to be divine, the Supreme Personality of Godhead in fact. How could God advise anyone towards death and destruction?

The answer lies in the mystery of karma. Translated into English, the word is simply “action.” There is more to it than that, as it is action which has reactions. At one point in the discussion with Arjuna, Krishna talked about action and inaction, and how they may be different than what they appear on the surface. There can be inaction in action and action in inaction. From this we can deduce that there can be negative consequences, sinful reactions, from doing nothing.

1. Prisoners escape from a jail

It’s your job to patrol the various sections of a prison. The inmates are there due to past crimes. They are serving their punishment. You are not attached to the job. It’s not like you hate the prisoners; you understand that sometimes people make mistakes.

One day there is a prison break. One of the inmates has escaped from their cell and is now helping others do the same. You decide to sit there and watch. You don’t want to get involved. There might be violence if you do. You might have to shoot people, which may lead to death.

It’s obvious that in this situation inaction is the wrong course. It is sinful, impious, bad - whatever label you choose to affix. The reason is simple. The inmates are criminals. The very act of escaping jail is wrong. Then when free, there is a good chance they will commit more crimes. As a guard, you are implicated in those sinful deeds since it was your job to help protect the innocent people.

2. A child is about to ingest poison

A child likes to roam around, since they are constantly discovering. One day you are left in charge of a small child, one who doesn’t yet know how to walk. They can crawl, though, and they have found their way into the cabinet underneath the kitchen sink. There are some cleaning agents there in bottles. As an adult, you know the harm in drinking these liquids. The result can be lethal.

You see the child about to spill one of the bottles. You are the guardian. You are supposed to do something. Yet you decide to not get involved. Why make the child cry? The child will get upset that you are interfering with their fun.

Once again, the sinful reaction from inaction in this situation is clear. Not doing something has dire consequences. There is the inherent responsibility to intervene.

3. Rogues about to overtake a kingdom

This was actually the situation Arjuna was in. His cousins, known as the Kauravas, had already taken the kingdom. Thus far the Pandavas hadn’t objected. Duryodhana, the leader of the Kauravas, tried to have the Pandavas killed on several occasions. The plots didn’t work since Krishna was the ever well-wisher to Arjuna, his brothers, and their mother, Kunti Devi.

The setting of the Bhagavad-gita is the battlefield of Kurukshetra, a place where the two parties had assembled for a war. The Pandavas had decided enough was enough. Still, Arjuna was hesitant. In this situation, inaction was sinful since Arjuna was shirking his responsibilities as a warrior. Moreover, the reason for the doubt was concern over bodily welfare. Arjuna thought he could save the lives of his friends and family on the other side.

[Krishna speaking to Arjuna]The sentiment was good, but the end result to accepting this path would be disaster. The thieves would be rewarded for their sinful behavior. Any person would then have cause for concern about their property. If an entire kingdom can be overtaken without a fight, then what about the property of each person living within that kingdom? There would be sinful reaction from the inaction of avoiding responsibility.

4. A choking victim

This example is similar to the one with the child and the poison. You’re in a restaurant. You suddenly hear a sound from a nearby table. It is obvious that a person is choking. They cannot breathe. They have made the universal sign for choking.

You can help them by performing the Heimlich Maneuver. You are close by and thus perfectly situated to offer help. You decide to not get involved. Why go through the trouble? What if you don’t succeed? People will blame you for the failure.

Again, the consequences are obvious. The person can die. Though you did nothing, you deserve a large part of the blame after the fact.

5. A person struggling in material life

You know better. You have struggled yourself. Then you met a representative of the Supreme Lord, a person who follows in the line of succession restarted by Arjuna from that famous day. They taught you the science of self-realization. Now you know about karma, action, inaction, life, death, matter, spirit, the cycle of birth and death, and the ultimate cause of the creation.

[Shrila Prabhupada]You see someone else struggling in material life. They have specifically asked for help. You decide not to get involved. Though you know exactly where they are going wrong, you keep the vital information to yourself. In this case the consequence is continued rebirth for that person. They may not find the path to transcendental bliss for a long time.

From these examples we see that it’s not always easy to determine the right path. Inaction isn’t always the best policy. Action can lead to sinful reaction, as well. Arjuna had the best person to guide Him, and the same guidance is available to all through the mercy of the spiritual master.

For the present age, the guru gives the general guidelines that the best form of inaction is to avoid four sinful behaviors: meat-eating, gambling, intoxication, and illicit sex. The most worthwhile action is to chant the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. The more time a person spends in bhakti-yoga, devotional service, the more clear the right course of action becomes. Their action becomes inaction, as there are no more material consequences.

In Closing:

Arjuna not sure of what to do,

Quit or to occupation be true?


Why for deaths of millions be the cause?

Questioned Krishna, to start of war a pause.


The Supreme Lord secrets of action explained,

Sometimes from inaction sinful reaction gained.


In this age avoid pillars of sinful life four,

And in devotion God the person adore.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Five Ways Rama Bewilders The Atheists

[Building bridge for Rama]“Shukadeva Gosvami said: After constructing a bridge over the ocean by throwing into the water the peaks of mountains whose trees and other vegetation had been shaken by the hands of great monkeys, Lord Ramachandra went to Lanka to release Sitadevi from the clutches of Ravana. With the direction and help of Vibhishana, Ravana's brother, the Lord, along with the monkey soldiers, headed by Sugriva, Nila and Hanuman, entered Ravana's kingdom, Lanka, which had previously been burnt by Hanuman.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 9.10.16)

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Ravana had a role to play. He was cursed from a previous life to appear in the world as an evil, man-eating ogre. He was so low in consciousness that not even seeing God face to face could change his ways. Such is the power of maya, the illusory energy that fools us, following our choice, into thinking that real and lasting enjoyment can be found in a temporary and miserable world.

Indeed, despite so many statements referencing Rama’s divinity and much testimony confirming the fact, the asuras reading the Ramayana still don’t believe that God can be a person who appears on earth every now and then. Shri Rama is so kind to the innumerable souls springing from Him that He increases the faithlessness in different ways. There is always a choice, after all. If someone desires the path of darkness and ignorance, they are more than welcome to it.

1. Taking instruction from a guru

God is supposed to be the original guru, or spiritual teacher. That is one way to define Him. Climb up the chain of ancestry of the race of the entire species as a whole and you’ll eventually come to Lord Brahma, who is thus known as the creator. Vedic literature reveals that Brahma has an origin, the lotus stem emerging from the navel of Lord Vishnu. Vishnu is thus the original person, and through His non-different form of Krishna He speaks the highest wisdom. He did so to the sun-god at the beginning of the creation.

“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)

Rama is the same Krishna, so He doesn’t need to learn anything from anyone. To play along in the role as human being, Rama takes instruction from two gurus. One is Vashishtha, who is the family preceptor. Rama and His three younger brothers learn about how to administer a kingdom. Then later on Rama and His younger brother Lakshmana get further instruction from Vishvamitra. This amazing guide gives them mantras that greatly increase the potency of the arrows released from their bows.

2. Getting exiled from the kingdom

Rama’s father is King Dasharatha of Ayodhya. Dasharatha is a little advanced in years, and he doesn’t have a son. Finally, after consulting a sage and performing a sacrifice, the king is blessed with four sons, the oldest of which is Rama. The king is very attached to Rama right from the start.

Later on, one of the queens is jealous that her son, Bharata, is not getting as much attention. Taking advantage of a promise Dasharatha had previously made to her, she asks that Rama be banished from the kingdom. The king is heartbroken, unable to even utter the words to his son. Rama finds out what happened and immediately prepares to leave. If He was God, why would He have to listen to anyone? How can God ever be kicked out of His kingdom? These are the arguments of the atheists, who would never sacrifice anything to uphold the honor of someone else. They are themselves dishonorable, so what do they care of someone else’s reputation?

3. Roams around like a homeless person

Rama not only had to leave the kingdom, but He had to roam around like an ascetic in the forest. He couldn’t just set up shop somewhere else. That would have been easy, as the people of Ayodhya were ready to leave and follow Him. Rama’s wife Sita came along, as did Lakshmana, and the three were like a group of wandering homeless people.

It was this vision that Ravana was most fooled by. He couldn’t understand how a powerful person would ever allow that to happen. Ravana thought material opulence was everything. He thought renunciation was only for the purpose of gaining strength later on. He thus mistook Rama for a weak man, an ineffective fighter. He did not know that one of the opulences belonging to Bhagavan, or God, is vairagya, which is renunciation.

4. Losing Sita

Ravana hatched a plan to take Sita, and it actually worked. For a time, that is. The way the plan went was that a friend changed his shape into a golden deer. Seeing the deer, Sita asked Rama to bring it for her. Rama chased after it, leaving Sita vulnerable. If Rama were truly God, how could He get tricked by a Rakshasa in disguise? If He is truly all-knowing, He would have recognized Maricha to be that deer.

This illusion gives faith to the faithless to continue in their path. Of course, the actual justifications are easy to understand. Karma works along with time to deliver the due results at the appropriate times. One of the reasons for the Rama avatara was to rid the world of Ravana and his terrorizing Rakshasa friends. With Sita taken away, Rama would have justification to march to Lanka and rescue her. The great war with Ravana would accomplish the task of the demigods, who had petitioned Vishnu for help.

5. Needing the help of monkeys

Rama did not have an army with Him in the forest. As per the conditions set by Kaikeyi, Rama could not return home to get the royal soldiers. No problem. God is the best friend of the living entity, as He states in the Bhagavad-gita.

“The sages, knowing Me as the ultimate purpose of all sacrifices and austerities, the Supreme Lord of all planets and demigods and the benefactor and well-wisher of all living entities, attain peace from the pangs of material miseries.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 5.29)

Rama made friends with the Vanaras in Kishkindha. These were forest-dwellers, a species that were monkey-like. Their leader, Sugriva, agreed to send all his soldiers to help in the rescue of Sita. On one side you had powerful ogres who could use black magic as a weapon. On the other you had monkey-like creatures hurling trees and rocks. But the latter group had Rama with them, so victory was assured.

[Building Rama's bridge]The asuras can’t fathom God making friends with monkeys. They don’t understand how Rama needed their help in building a bridge to Lanka. He should have been able to do everything Himself, they will argue. Indeed, this is a good argument, justification for continuing in atheism. The devotees know the truth, that the Supreme Lord takes great pleasure in glorifying His servants. Only through devotional service can a person exceed even the stature of God, such as with Shri Hanuman and Shrimati Radharani.

In Closing:

If Rama is God indeed,

Why help from monkeys to need?


How by golden deer was fooled,

And not by force Ayodhya ruled?


Since a choice always in living,

Even to atheists strength giving.


Monkeys for Rama the bridge happily made,

Lord pleased when honor to His servants paid.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

What Does The Ideal Society Look Like

[Sita-Rama on throne]“Being pleased by the full surrender and submission of Lord Bharata, Lord Ramachandra then accepted the throne of the state. He cared for the citizens exactly like a father, and the citizens, being fully engaged in their occupational duties of varna and ashrama, accepted Him as their father.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 9.10.50)

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Friend1: Do you follow the elections?

Friend2: Just as much as anyone else.

Friend1: It is entertaining, I must say.

Friend2: You find out what all the answers to the focus groups are.

Friend1: What do you mean?

Friend2: From the policy positions. Most of those are focus-grouped. These guys don’t come up with policies out of thin air. They find out what the public is unhappy about. Then they promise to fix those things.

Friend1: I see. Makes sense. What is the spiritual point of view on this?

Friend2: On elections or the promises?

Friend1: The policies. Will the problems be fixed?

[elections]Friend2: Not to keep answering every question with a question, but are you asking if the problems will go away or will the people be happy as a result?

Friend1: Oh, that is a good way of looking at things. I guess you could say these politicians are trying to make everything ideal.

Friend2: There you go. Give me your vision of an ideal society and we’ll see if it makes people happy.

Friend1: Well, it seems like economics is always the major issue. The rich are getting richer. The poor are getting poorer. People need jobs. The cost of things has to go down. The people need help.

Friend2: Now, if the price of something goes down, will people be happy? For instance, they promise a tax credit for childcare expenses.

Friend1: That is really expensive. It makes you wonder. Why are both parents working if so much of their money is going towards caring for the child while they are at work?

Friend2: Say that they get enough money to care for their children. Does that mean they will be happy?

Friend1: I think so.

Friend2: Try to hear the buzzer sound from a game-show. You just gave the wrong answer.

Friend1: How can you assert that?

Friend2: Easy. Compare the childcare issue with what other countries face. In the United States, relatively speaking, there are no poor people.

Friend1: That’s not true at all. You see the horrible conditions some people live in.

Friend2: Horrible in your eyes, but that is paradise to so many people around the world. Poverty means not having enough food to eat. That is the real definition. In America poor people are often more obese than the rest of the population. Not even poverty, just getting what you want in general doesn’t make people happy. Desires change. Material desire is known as kama, which translates to “lust” in Sanskrit. Lust is like a fire. The more you feed it, the higher it gets.

[Sita-Rama on throne]Friend1: Do you have an example of an ideal society? Is it Rama-rajya?

Friend2: There you go. The kingdom of Ayodhya during the reign of Shri Rama is one example. This makes for a very interesting case study. Just see what things are not there.

Friend1: Such as?

Friend2: Equality. There are different occupations. There are different income levels. This starts from the very top of the government. Rama is in charge. If He is in charge, others have to listen to what He says. That means there can never be equality in that kingdom.

Friend1: How are people happy, then?

Friend2: Exactly. It’s not an equality of outcomes. It’s not the same standard of material living. It’s all about service to God in a mood of love. That is why Rama-rajya is ideal. Everyone is connected to the same goal: pleasing Rama.

Friend1: Are you saying that there is no other way to get an ideal society?

Friend2: That is the very definition of ideal. There is varna and ashrama. People are engaged in the varna, or occupation, that best suits them. They follow the four ashramas of spiritual purification, gradually leading up to the point of full liberation prior to death’s arrival.

Friend1: How can there be death in the kingdom of God?

Friend2: In the spiritual world there isn’t death, but time still operates. It just doesn’t have a negative influence. Even in the material world if people take up bhakti-yoga in earnest, death no longer becomes something to fear. Death simply means shifting to a situation better for devotion. If that devotion is already at a high level, then it continues into the future.

Friend1: I see.

Friend2: Think about it. People in communist countries are unhappy. In industrialized nations there is always competition. The poor think the rich are running the show. The rich want to make sure their competitors don’t overtake them. There is always unhappiness when devotion to God is absent. The example of Rama-rajya shows that any person can be happy remaining just where they are. There needn’t be a dramatic shift in occupation. Just change your consciousness. Bhakti-yoga is God consciousness. Think of the all-attractive one, who gives delight to the devotees in a variety of moods. As Shri Rama He plays the ideal king to lead the devoted citizens, who come from all walks of life.

In Closing:

From all walks of life coming,

Not everyone the same becoming.


In Rama-rajya, kingdom ideal,

Bliss of devotion citizens to feel.


Looking not for this solution or that,

Love of Rama keeping everything intact.


Means same happiness can be found today,

Practicing bhakti in current position to stay.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Five Ways Krishna Bewilders The Atheists

[Lord Krishna]“The form which you are seeing with your transcendental eyes cannot be understood simply by studying the Vedas, nor by undergoing serious penances, nor by charity, nor by worship. It is not by these means that one can see Me as I am.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 11.53)

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Shri Krishna had just shown Arjuna the virata-rupa, the universal form. This is the complete everything. Put all things that you can think of, existing in this world and in others, into a single image - that somewhat explains the universal form. The vision is not easy to get; Arjuna needed a special set of eyes granted to him prior to viewing.

Then Krishna showed His four-handed form of Narayana. This is the proof of Divinity for the personalists, those who understand that God is originally a distinct personality. Still, the Supreme Lord returned to His two-handed form and then declared that it was impossible to understand simply through study, penance, charity, and other such mechanical endeavors.

The reason is simple. God is understood by those who want to know and serve Him. Otherwise, He could be standing in front of a person and still not be properly recognized. This is His mercy granted to the non-devoted. Even the atheists are worshipers of God in a sense; they choose to be under the illusion of maya. Krishna keeps them bewildered, honoring their choice to remain in the material energy.

1. Getting punished by mother Yashoda

The origin of the universe, the birth-less one, the source of the amazing universal form - He roamed around the courtyard of mother Yashoda and Nanda Maharaja in Vrindavana. He got hungry like any other child and asked to be fed breast-milk. One time He got angry when Yashoda got up in the middle of feeding Him to tend to a pot of boiling milk in the kitchen.

[Krishna tied to mortar]How can this happen? How can God be someone’s child? For the devotees, the situation is endearing. It brings them closer to God. It brings deeper insight into His true nature. For the atheists, it is the perfect excuse to continue in their futile march towards supremacy in a temporary and miserable world. Krishna got punished by Yashoda for breaking a pot of yogurt in anger. She tied Him to a mortar as punishment. He cried tears when He saw her threatening whipping stick.

2. Tending to calves

What is Krishna doing in Vrindavana, the spiritual world? The answer is always the same. Enjoying. If you have to pin the issue of work down to something, you could say that Krishna tends to calves. But this is like saying a person who takes their beloved dog on a walk is working. Krishna loves the calves and they love Him.

“I cannot understand how you could have selected this cowherd boy, Krishna, and have left aside all these other great personalities. I think Krishna to be no better than a crow - how can He be fit to accept the first worship in this great sacrifice?” (Shishupala speaking to assembly, Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 2, Ch 19)

[Lord Krishna]The atheists will argue that God cannot be reduced to such menial tasks. He should be standing supreme, in all His majesty. He shouldn’t be running around the fields with His friends, enjoying the pristine atmosphere. Later on in Krishna’s earthly pastimes, there were fights with rival kings. They used Krishna’s childhood and link to an agricultural community as a way to disparage Him. These bad characters saw God right in front of them but couldn’t recognize Him.

3. Flees Jarasandha; erects city of gates

One of the opulences in God is power. He must be the strongest if He is to be supreme. Why, then, during Krishna’s pastimes did He flee from a fight? In His adulthood, Krishna was the leader in Mathura. This was after He left Vrindavana. A rival king by the name of Jarasandha attacked one time and was humiliated in defeat. Undeterred, Jarasandha continued to attack, seventeen times in total.

Finally, Krishna and His brother Balarama decided to stop fighting. Jarasandha’s death was slated to come at a different time. This is the way karma works. The consequences don’t always arrive immediately. It is like planting a seed and waiting for the appropriate moment for the plant to rise and give fruits.

Krishna became known as Ranchor when He fled from the battle against Jarasandha. As a result, He had the city of gates erected. Known as Dvaraka, it was protected on all sides by walls, preventing any further attacks from Jarasandha and the like. The atheists will happily point to this incident as a way to put Krishna down. If He was truly God, He would stand His ground in battle. He wouldn’t flee.

4. Missing a spot when applying frumenty

A guest is as good as God. This is the teaching in Vedic culture. There is a story from the Mahabharata which illustrates to what level that principle should be followed. While Shri Krishna was living in Dvaraka with His chief queen Rukmini, Durvasa Muni came on a visit. He ended up being a real pain of a guest. He made one difficult request after another. Krishna and Rukmini did as the sage asked.

One of the requests was for Rukmini and Krishna to smear a payasam paste, something like frumenty, on their body. The couple obliged, but Durvasa noticed that Krishna failed to apply the paste on one spot on His foot. Durvasa explained that the paste protected them from death, but now Krishna was vulnerable in that spot.

Again, this is sufficient grounds for atheists to discount the divinity of Krishna. If He needs protection from a substance applied at the insistence of a sage, then the sage is superior. If Krishna failed to apply it to a certain area, He is imperfect. He became mortal, which goes against the concept of God.

5. The curse of Gandhari; shot by the hunter

Sure enough, the way Krishna left this world was through being shot in the foot by a hunter while lying underneath a tree. The Mahabharata clearly says that Krishna returned to the spiritual world as Narayana, the four-handed form living in Vaikuntha. This was not death; it was leaving the manifest world.

Still, the pastimes unfolded as they did to keep the faith in atheism for the non-devoted. The shot from the hunter arrived at the appropriate time, keeping the curse previously applied on Krishna by Gandhari. She was the grieving mother of the Kauravas, who lost the Bharata War. Seeing the massive carnage and the death of her hundred sons, Gandhari cursed Krishna and His entire dynasty to leave the world.

“All of them - as they surrender unto Me - I reward accordingly. Everyone follows My path in all respects, O son of Pritha.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.11)

The Supreme Lord is so kind that He fulfills all desires. As He says in the Bhagavad-gita, everyone follows Him in all respects. He rewards each person accordingly. The atheists get to stay in the land of rebirth. The worshipers in awe and reverence get to stay with Narayana. Those desiring more in their relationship with God get to always enjoy different pastimes with the one full of sweetness, the embodiment of madhurya, Shri Krishna.

In Closing:

All to follow Him in one way,

Even atheists who never to pray.


Strength to them Krishna providing,

Like when from Yashoda’s punishment hiding.


And in the foot by hunter shot,

Fulfillment of curse Gandhari got.


A benefactor to everyone so kind,

Not another like Him ever to find.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Five Problems Krishna Doesn’t Have

[Radha-Krishna]“The spiritual world is called Vaikuntha, which means ‘without anxiety.’ In the material world everything is full of anxiety (kuntha), whereas in the spiritual world (Vaikuntha) everything is free from anxiety.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Chaitanya Charitamrita, Adi 7.74 Purport)

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The rule of the material world is duality. No condition is universally ideal. Take the rainfall. For the farmers, it is a godsend. In India especially, the majority of the rain comes during only a few months. That time period thus becomes vital; it is essential for life to continue.

The same rainfall is bad for another person. Their travel gets interrupted. Rain interferes with their plans to enjoy outside. Rain can cause flooding in the basement of a house. Go through the different situations and experiences of material life and you’ll see the same two-sidedness.

As a result, there are always problems. The human being has to face one difficult situation after another. One of the many reasons to seek the shelter of the Divine is that He is without so many of these problems. Since He is atmarama, He is completely satisfied in Himself. Since He is all-attractive, one of His many names is Krishna. Studying the transcendental nature and activities of Krishna, we see how many of the problems common to the world are missing with Him.

1. Loneliness

When something good happens to me, I like to share it with someone else. I saw an amazing ending to that reality show that I watch. There were teams consisting of pairs this season, and my favorite player’s team won. There was a special twist in that the top performer on each team had the option to take all the money or split it with their partner. In one of the all-time dirtiest moves, my favorite player took all the money and left his partner with nothing.

I wanted to share the story with others, but no one I know watches the show. My friends won’t understand at all. This is one indication of loneliness. I need others around to keep me happy to some degree. Even if they get on my nerves from time to time, it’s nice to know they are there as support.

[Radha-Krishna]Shri Krishna never suffers from loneliness because His best friends and well-wishers are always around Him. That is the lone stipulation for entering the spiritual planet of Krishnaloka. Just love Krishna, or God. If you want to go against Him, you fall to the material world. In Krishna’s pastimes, there is sometimes the loneliness of being separated from the dearly beloved Radha, but the situation is always solved through eventual reunion. So even the loneliness is of a different nature. It is blissful.

2. Money

Many of God’s names in the Vedic tradition reference His relationship to the goddess of fortune. Shripati, Madhava, and Radhanatha all describe the Supreme Lord as being the husband of fortune personified. As a result, Krishna never runs out of money. He doesn’t have a cash problem.

The spiritual world is not under the strict laws seen in the material world. Here, if we have a pizza pie there is a fixed amount of slices. Once you take a slice away, the pie becomes smaller. In the spiritual world, one minus one can actually equal two. This is impossible to understand using the logic of the material brain. If Krishna weren’t the richest person in the world, He couldn’t have created everything that we see around us.

3. Boredom

“He who hesitates is lost.” It’s not fun when you don’t know what to do. It is not just that activities should be available, there should be interest. I find watching television for hours on end to be extremely boring, while for someone else the engagement is blissful.

Shri Krishna does not have a boredom problem. There are the calves to play with. In the Vrindavana of the material world there are so many cows owned and cared for by the residents, headed by the king Nanda. In the Vrindavana of the spiritual world, the cows are amazing in that they can grant any wish. Their only desire is to be with Krishna, and He happily obliges.

The area is pristine, with signs of flourishing life everywhere. Krishna and His friends play in the many groves and forests of the land, enjoying everything about the area. There is never boredom, since Paurnamasi and Vrinda Devi work together to create new situations that are fun for Krishna and His dearmost associates, Radha and the gopis.

4. Leisure

I have a problem with leisure since there is so much work to do on a daily basis. Even on my off days I have many responsibilities that warrant attention. I have to purchase supplies for the home. This means going to the discount warehouse store. Since others have the same responsibility, I have to arrive at the store early in the morning.

Then I have to work around the house. I can’t afford a maid, so the cleanup and maintenance are all done by the residents. It seems like the work will never end. My real job keeps me busy enough. I look forward to leisure time, because it is so precious.

As mentioned above, Krishna doesn’t have this problem. There are many forms of the personal God. The Supreme Lord appears and disappears at His will, whenever the conditions are right, as He sees it. The form of Krishna is unique in that there is always madhurya, or enjoyment in sweetness. When asked the question of what is Krishna doing in Vrindavana, the answer is always the same. Enjoying. He has no responsibilities. He is not upholding dharma. He is not fighting with bad guys. He is in leisure. That is the nature of God.

5. Getting what you want

One way to know that we are not God is that we can’t always get what we want. Even the transcendentalist who has merged into Brahman, which is the impersonal spiritual energy, had to work to get the achievement. They couldn’t just will it. Moreover, they have to stay above the duality of the material world in order to maintain their high position.

Krishna can simply think of something and have it appear to Him. He doesn’t have to work for anything. As mentioned before, the cows in the spiritual world fulfill all desires. The trees are the same way. They produce fruits that match any desire. For this reason and more the spiritual world is known as Vaikuntha, which means “free of anxieties.” Any person can go there, as it is the original home. The lone stipulation is desire. If you sincerely want to be there, you will eventually go back. And in that place you will be free of problems, just like Krishna is.

In Closing:

Vaikuntha realm of anxieties free,

Can grant any wish the cow or the tree.


Because Krishna Himself problems without,

Always in sweetness, playing about.


With friends, Radha and gopis too,

Paurnamasi making situations fresh and new.


Same for us, just desire stipulation lone,

Love Krishna and never again be alone.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Five Ways That Human Life Is Like A Junction

[Lord Krishna]“One who knows the transcendental nature of My appearance and activities does not, upon leaving the body, take his birth again in this material world, but attains My eternal abode, O Arjuna.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.9)

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The demons and the demigods. Good and evil. The righteous path and sinful life. These dichotomies have existed since the beginning of time, before anyone can remember. The reason is simple: freedom. Every living being has a small amount of independence granted them by the creator. Indeed, without this independence there would be no existence. Every living thing would be like a robot, preprogrammed to act a certain way. They would be considered dead inside, soulless.

The human life is the chance to consciously choose. There is rational thought. There is a high potential for intelligence. In many ways the human birth is like arriving at a junction or crossroads. Which path should be chosen? What will be the outcome? When you come to the fork in the road, which direction should you go? There are so many such choices made throughout the course of life.

1. School or no school

At first the young child might be excited to go to school. It is a way to get out of the house and meet new people. Discovery is fun. So is imitating the adults, who also leave the house every day. They are going to work, but the child doesn’t really know what that entails.

The child quickly figures out that school isn’t much fun. They force you to sit in a classroom and learn. Learning is difficult. If it were easy, then everyone would want to do it. To go to school is a choice. If the choice is made to skip, then there is little chance of advancing in terms of formal education. The ability to read and write is hinged upon instruction from authority figures. Whether the instruction comes in a formal setting like a classroom or an informal one at home, the result of learning is usually positive.

2. Drugs or no drugs

In the 1980s in America there was a dedicated campaign to curb drug use among young people. The First Lady, the wife of the President of the United States, used a slogan. “Just say no.” If someone asks you to take drugs, don’t even think about it. Don’t give them any excuses. No need for lengthy explanations. Just immediately say that you won’t. This way you’ll save yourself a lot of trouble.

Such campaigns are necessary only because so many people say “yes.” There is always a choice, after all. Those who take drugs can get addicted, and from addiction so many bad things can happen. The addiction happens because there is a temporary escape from the senses offered by drugs. Indeed, even those who are not addicted to narcotics might regularly indulge in alcohol, which is also a form of intoxication.

3. Marriage or no marriage

The married man has some humorous advice that he freely offers to the unmarried man.

“Don’t do it. You’ll regret it. You see how much I’m suffering. You see how little enjoyment I have left. I envy you so much. I don’t know who invented marriage, but I can guarantee you that it wasn’t a man. Just turn around and run.”

Married life ideally is a curb on sense gratification, a way to limit sexual desire. Moreover, sex life serves its real purpose: bringing children into the world. That is a whole new set of responsibilities. The human being arrives at this junction in adulthood. They either get married or continue living the single life. Each has its pros and cons, and such a major decision has big consequences for the future.

4. Stay at home or move to a new place

This choice typically comes to the student about to enter college or the professional offered a new job. It is tempting to try living in a new place, but the drawback is that friends and family are left behind. The comfortable surroundings provide a sense of security. At the same time, becoming vulnerable builds character and strength. If I always gave in to my fear of trying new things, I wouldn’t be who I am today.

5. Rebirth or liberation

This is the ultimate choice for the living being. All other choices play a hand in it. The basic difference is material life or spiritual life. Only the human being can consciously make this decision. The animals don’t have the option. Their intelligence isn’t developed enough. They engage only in eating, sleeping, mating and defending.

As spiritual life is vast, complex, and sees years and even lifetimes’ worth of practice, how can this choice be presented so bluntly? Actually, rebirth can stop in a second. The promise is made in the Bhagavad-gita that anyone who thinks of Shri Krishna at the time of death never has to take birth again. Additionally, anyone who knows the transcendental nature of Krishna’s appearance and activities never takes birth again after quitting their body.

“And whoever, at the time of death, quits his body, remembering Me alone, at once attains My nature. Of this there is no doubt.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 8.5)

[Lord Krishna]Of course, the difficulty is in remembering Krishna at the time of death. It is difficult accepting that God exists and can have a transcendental form that is all-attractive. It is difficult accepting the fact that Krishna appears in this world, performs amazing activities, and does so at His own will. It is difficult to focus on spiritual life when there are so many critical decisions to make that distract the mind.

Nevertheless, the promise is there. The choice is one that every person makes, if they are aware of it or not. Rebirth happens due to karma, which is fruitive activity. Karma is driven by personal desire. If the desire shifts to the spiritual realm, where the summit is unmotivated and uninterrupted service to the Divine, then karma stops. When the wheel of action and reaction ceases to spin, so does the cycle of birth and death.

In Closing:

When wheel of consequences no longer to spin,

Boon of no more rebirth to win.


Human life of choices a collection,

Like in work, home, and instruction.


Krishna or not choice ultimately made,

Eternal bliss or in material ocean to wade.


Just know His birth or remember at death’s time,

The right path taken, fulfill this destiny of mine.