Saturday, November 5, 2016

Five Reasons I’ll Never Let Go Of Hanuman

[Shri Hanuman]“O sinless one, certainly, how can any king accomplish his objectives if he doesn't have such a messenger working for him?” (Lord Rama speaking to Lakshmana, Valmiki Ramayana, Kishkindha Kand, 3.34)

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evam vidho yasya dūto na bhavet pārthivasya tu |
siddhyanti hi katham tasya kāryāṇām gatayo.anagha ||

Attachment in the material world is detrimental. It takes away attention from the higher goal, which is liberation. Like spinning endlessly on a wheel, the conditioned living entity, the jiva soul, changes from body to body, lifetime after lifetime, until there is perfection in desire. Perfection is reached when there is no longer a desire for the temporary, when the only wish is to constantly serve the Supreme.

There are many ways to learn about the Supreme. The conduit is the representative, and one of the most beloved representatives is Shri Hanuman. As Goswami Tulsidas says, Hanuman is the gatekeeper to Rama’s kingdom. Rama is God in a transcendental form whose glories are endlessly extolled in the Vedas, which are the original scriptures, having no known date of inception.

Rama descended to earth millions of years ago, and in His pastimes one time He met Hanuman. Within just a few moments, the delight of the Raghu dynasty determined that there was something special about the chief minister to the Vanara-king Sugriva. Rama remarked to His younger brother Lakshmana that it would be difficult for any king to accomplish their work without having such a representative.

Indeed, from these descriptions and more found in the Ramayana, it is difficult not to form a lasting attachment to Hanuman. That dedicated servant remains in the manifest world for as long as Rama’s glories continue to be told. Therefore he is accessible, someone whose association can be tightly secured for many lifetimes.

1. He is such a good friend to Sugriva

Sugriva was living on the summit of Mount Rishyamukha, basically in fear of his life. He had a quarrel with his brother Vali, and that led to Sugriva’s ouster from the kingdom. Vali was ready to deal a mortal blow, but from a previous curse he was unable to enter the area of Mount Rishyamukha.

One day Sugriva noticed two men dressed in ascetic garb approaching the area below. He wondered if they were sent by Vali, as they looked to be strong. Sugriva asked Hanuman to descend the mountain and find out what was going on. Hanuman obliged, as he is such a good friend. Though the two men were Rama and Lakshmana, and thus harmless, there was no way to know that at first.

[Shri Hanuman]When Hanuman approached the brothers, he was in a false garb. He looked like a brahmana, or member of the priestly class. This way if the brothers were aggressors, they likely wouldn’t attack right away. Again showing how great a friend he is, Hanuman ended up creating an alliance between Rama and Sugriva. The brothers trusted him right away based on his wonderful Sanskrit glorification of Rama. They hopped on Hanuman’s back and went up the mountain to meet Sugriva.

2. He assures his friends when they are in doubt

Hanuman is humble by nature, but when the occasion calls for something else, he is not afraid to deviate. Sugriva and Rama were ideal candidates for friendship since they were separated from their wives. Sugriva’s was in the kingdom of Kishkindha. Rama’s wife Sita had been taken away in secret, so there was no idea of her whereabouts. Sugriva had a massive army at his old kingdom, so if that could be regained, those Vanaras could help in the search for Sita.

That is what eventually happened, and the leading search party had Hanuman in it. Several times they fell into despair due to lack of success. Never at any time did Hanuman want to quit. Even after they got the vital information of Sita’s whereabouts, there was a huge obstacle in the vast ocean standing in their way.

At that moment Hanuman assured his friends that he would succeed. They should not worry, as he would complete the journey they had progressed so far in. Success was not guaranteed, but Hanuman is always there for his friends. He has no personal ambition.

3. He continues on despite setbacks

Hanuman made it across the ocean in a single leap, reaching the island of Lanka. This is where the group was told that Sita was. Hanuman searched and searched, but success was still lacking. He contemplated quitting and ending his life. His love for Rama helped carry him forward. Insurmountable odds don’t deter him.

Indeed, after he found Sita there were more setbacks. Hanuman proposed taking her back to Lanka. He would carry her on his back. In response, she actually insulted him at first, suggesting that maybe his monkey nature was showing through in the ridiculousness of his idea.

He had come all this way, risking his life, for this person he had never met and now she had sort of insulted him. Sita was simply worried about touching another man, as she was very chaste. She too is only devoted to Rama, and Ravana had already taken her away by force. Hanuman continued on, for he knows the love Sita has for her beloved husband.

4. He downplays his abilities

When leaving the Ashoka grove after meeting Sita, Hanuman decided to stir up some trouble. Ravana and his men deserved to get a taste of the punishment that was set to come their way. As a result, Hanuman ended up fighting directly with some of Ravana’s men. These were powerful ogres, known as Rakshasas in Sanskrit.

During the encounters, Hanuman didn’t say that he was the strongest of the fighters. Back at the base, there were many powerful Vanaras ready to come and attack. Hanuman was the most capable of the Vanaras, proven by his successful journey to Lanka. Yet Hanuman never thinks he is better than anyone else. In pure devotion, he acts in whatever way is pleasing to the Supreme Lord.

5. He asks to remain in this world

The end result was the rescue of Sita and the destruction of Ravana. Rama also received glory since He defeated the powerful king in an epic battle. Since the Vanaras helped so much, Rama felt indebted to them. He showered them with blessings. Hanuman had the notable distinction of getting anything that he asked. Whatever he wanted, Hanuman would get.

The servant who risked so much asked only to remain in this world for as long as Rama’s glories continue to be told. This one answer reveals the meaning of life. It teaches the struggling living entities so much. Rama is one of the most unique forms of Godhead due in part to the association of Hanuman, who is wonderful in every way.

In Closing:

Tell me to worship others so,

But Shri Hanuman I’ll never let go.


Impressed Rama right from the start,

Then to Mount Rishyamukha to depart.


For his friends always looking out,

Giving hope, showing form strong and stout.


Rama ready to him anything to give,

Asked simply in bhakti to continue to live.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Five Images Of Krishna And What They Mean

[Vasudeva crossing Yamuna River]“While Vasudeva was carrying his son Krishna in the falling rain, Lord Shesha in the shape of a serpent spread His hood over the head of Vasudeva so that he would not be hampered by the rainfall.” (Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 1, Ch 3)

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“The Supreme Personality of Godhead” is the chosen English translation for the Sanskrit word Bhagavan by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. The use of the lengthy term is both accurate and intentional. There is more to the Divine than just “God,” which implies greatness but stops short at defining it. God is all-pervading, but that doesn’t necessarily describe features belonging to an individual.

Bhagavan is an individual, distinct from me and you. He is the supreme personal, meaning that His abilities are beyond our comprehension. He is the supreme amongst all forms of Godhead, which means that the Divine has many forms. Even the living entities are divine in nature. We are eternals being maintained by the chief eternal, nityo nityanam chetanash chetananam.

A good way to understand the mysteries of Bhagavan is to study pictures of Him. There can only be pictures if there are authorized descriptions, descending from people who saw Him directly and understood Him. An adversary looking at Bhagavan has a completely different assessment; they fail to notice the greatness. Their testimony is thus of little value. The devotees know Him as He is, since they follow the formula provided in the Bhagavad-gita.

“Now hear, O son of Pritha [Arjuna], how by practicing yoga in full consciousness of Me, with mind attached to Me, you can know Me in full, free from doubt.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.1)

The speaker of the Gita is known as Krishna, and He is Bhagavan Himself. There are many famous images of Krishna, and each tells so much.

1. Crossing the Yamuna River with Vasudeva

[Vasudeva crossing Yamuna River]In this image we see a man old enough to be a father carrying a child in a basket. The basket is held above the head as the man wades deep in the river. There is a strong rainstorm, and the child is protected from the falling drops by a collection of serpents. They emerge from the back of the child’s head, as if to intentionally act as an umbrella.

“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)

The setting of this image is shortly after Krishna’s appearance in this world. As He states in the Bhagavad-gita, His janma, or birth, is transcendental, divyam. One who knows the real nature of how He appears and acts in this world, karma, does not take birth again after dying.

Krishna appeared as the eighth child of Devaki, who was imprisoned at the time with her husband Vasudeva. The two were persecuted by Devaki’s brother Kamsa, who was the king of Mathura. Krishna descended to rid the world of Kamsa and other asuras like him. To get the wheels in motion, after Krishna took birth, He first showed His four-handed form of Narayana, who is also Bhagavan.

Then Krishna asked to be transferred to Gokula. Vasudeva kindly obliged. The father was able to escape from the prison, as the guards were all sleeping. The next issue was crossing the river. Due to his strong devotion, Vasudeva had no fear in walking through the river. The newborn Krishna was spared from the falling rain by Ananta Shesha Naga. This is the serpent bed of Lord Vishnu in the spiritual world. From this image we see that wherever Krishna goes, His associates come with Him. Ananta Shesha Naga is always there, ready to serve.

2. Stealing butter

[Krishna stealing butter]Growing up in Gokula, Krishna was a naughty child. He was notorious for stealing butter. His family had plenty in stock. The foster parents, Nanda and Yashoda, maintained many cows. They were anything but poor. But Krishna enjoyed sneaking into the homes of the neighbors and enjoying their butter. They occasionally protested, but that did not stop the child. Indeed, at heart the neighbors were delighted that the adorable Krishna was giving them so much attention.

3. Sitting in Yashoda’s lap

[Yashoda with Krishna]One of Krishna’s many names is Yashodanandana. He is the delight of the caring mother. Krishna is everything to her. She had the notable honor of acting as Krishna’s mother during the childhood years. Devaki gave birth to Krishna, but she was in Mathura awaiting the eventual end to the reign of terror of her brother.

Yashoda’s love is in the mood of vatsalya-rasa. This is protection or parental affection. From this image we see that the relationship with God can go beyond just fear or asking for stuff. Mother Yashoda thinks that if she does not serve her child, He will die. She gives so much love, and Krishna happily obliges by accepting her service and reciprocating through His charming presence.

4. Standing with Radha

[Radha-Krishna]This is one of the most common images of Krishna. He is depicted standing next to a beautiful young lady. She is Radharani, the queen of Vrindavana. Whenever Bhagavan is depicted in a worshipable form, He has the goddess of fortune by His side. Narayana has Lakshmi Devi. Shri Rama has Sita. Krishna has Radha.

One is God Himself, and the other is the energy of God. More specifically, Radha is the pleasure-potency. She is in full Krishna consciousness, never deviating for even a moment. The two share an amazing love, with enough intricacy to occupy the interested mind for many lifetimes over. Theirs is more than just amorous affection; it is an eternal bond that every living entity actually has with the Supreme Lord, though in the conditioned state they have forgotten.

5. On the chariot with Arjuna

[Krishna and Arjuna]In this image Shri Krishna is a little older, though it’s difficult to tell the exact difference in years since the Gokula time period. Since He is nava-yauvanam, Krishna’s body always looks fresh and new, like someone who has just entered the teenage years. Here Krishna is the teacher to Arjuna, though that wasn’t always the relationship. Moments prior, He was the kind and dedicated chariot driver. Moments prior to that, He was the dear friend and relation as cousin.

Krishna teaches Arjuna because the warrior needs help. Arjuna has doubts over how to proceed in a war about to commence. Krishna takes the occasion to teach not only about fighting and ruling a kingdom, but also the meaning to life in general. Life and death, the purpose to an existence, the changing of bodies, the influence of time, the controlling agents of the world, and the supreme person Himself - these topics and more Krishna goes over briefly but completely in a conversation known as the Bhagavad-gita.

In Closing:

Amazing, beyond our capacity to go,

How then the Supreme Lord to know?


At different pictures with attention gaze,

Crossing Yamuna, Shesha Naga with Him stays.


Into homes of neighbors butter to steal,

Blessed by His presence, special to feel.


In lap of loving mother sitting,

Radha by His side befitting.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Isn’t It Wrong For Man To Think They Can Depict God In An Image

[Framed Radha-Krishna pic]“One may protest and ask, ‘Why should God be worshiped in images and not in His original spiritual form?’ The answer is that we cannot see God immediately in His spiritual form. With our material eyes we can only see stone, earth, wood - something tangible. Therefore Krishna comes as archa-vigraha, a form conveniently presented by the Supreme Lord in order for us to see Him. The result is that if we concentrate upon the image and make offerings with love and devotion, Krishna will respond through the image.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Raja-Vidya: The King of Knowledge, Ch 3)

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Friend1: The image of God.

Friend2: An old man?

Friend1: Nope.

Friend2: Vengeful?

Friend1: Never.

Friend2: Spiteful?

Friend1: Not a chance.

Friend2: Just waiting to punish the sinners?

Friend1: On the contrary. The most forgiving.

Friend2: How so?

Friend1: He is within everyone in the heart as the Supersoul. This is His unmanifest feature. Brahman is the same. Some spiritual traditions refer to either one as nirguna.

Friend2: What is significant about Supersoul, or Paramatma?

Friend1: It is the all-pervading witness. Through this feature God sees everything. More specifically, He is keenly aware of our forgetfulness. He knows for just how long we have forgotten Him, choosing instead the struggle of material existence.

Friend2: So He’s the most forgiving for leaving the door open to the spiritual world in spite of that.

Friend1: Exactly. Transitioning to a related topic. We’ve established that God is not old.

Friend2: Nava-yauvanam.

Friend1: Always fresh and new. We know that He has form, a spiritual one. The original is all-attractive, so one name of address is Krishna. We know what Krishna looks like based on the testimony of others, passed on in the chain of disciplic succession.

Friend2: Parampara. That is the way to know God. Not by any other way. Mental speculation won’t do.

Friend1: Okay, so maybe this pertains to speculation within the system of authority. When you see different images of Krishna, is not the effort alone offensive?

Friend2: What do you mean?

Friend1: Who am I to think that I can reduce the Almighty to a painting or statue? He is unlimited. His transcendental goodness is unfathomable. There is no way I can accurately depict Him.

Friend2: For starters, that is a good sentiment to have. Humility is a cornerstone of success in devotional service, bhakti-yoga. If you’re creating the images simply to test your artistic ability, then I would agree that there is something offensive in the effort.

Friend1: How can it ever be right, though? How can I ever be satisfied with an image of Krishna? Won’t I put limits on Him, when He is in fact unlimited?

Friend2: These are good questions, but the explanation is pretty simple. Let’s use an example. Backtrack two hundred or so years.

Friend1: Okay.

Friend2: There are no cameras. No smartphones, obviously. The only way to get an image of someone is to paint it. Let’s say that you are living during that time. You have a son. He wants to make a portrait of you.

Friend1: That’s awfully kind of him.

[framed portrait]Friend2: He tries his best. The resulting piece of art looks somewhat like you. Now, because of your job, you travel a lot. Your son misses you when you are gone. He can’t talk to you on the phone. The most he can do is exchange letters.

Friend1: Alright.

Friend2: The portrait he has made of you is his saving grace. He looks at it every day. Just by seeing it, he remembers you. He feels as if you are with him, offering unconditional love. From looking at that painting, he remembers all the good times the two of you shared. He remembers that he has a loving father who has taught him so much.

Friend1: Wow, thanks. That is so nice.

Friend2: Exactly. Nice! That is the reason the devotees attempt to paint Krishna. It is a way to increase their consciousness of Him. Krishna is so merciful that He agrees to appear in the image. Of course it is limiting. The statue we see in the temple, it is Krishna Himself, but the Lord can never be reduced to a small size. He is the universal form and beyond. But how are we going to worship such a gigantic form?

Friend1: Not possible.

[Framed Radha-Krishna pic]Friend2: When the devotee paints using the authorized descriptions found in works like the Bhagavad-gita and Shrimad Bhagavatam, the Supreme Lord helps them. The attempt itself is bhakti. The painting helps to remember Krishna, which is called smaranam in Sanskrit. It is one of nine ways to practice bhakti-yoga. Therefore it is purifying, a way to get closer to God, which is the ultimate goal.

In Closing:

How God to a painting can reduce?

From faulty mind features to deduce.


An offense of the highest kind,

Since Lord beyond anything of mind.


In bhakti loving effort the attempt,

For increasing consciousness meant.


Way to remember beloved so dear,

Authorized texts giving picture clear.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Five Times The Supreme Lord Went Against The Rules

[Krishna and Balarama stealing butter]“Also, your Krishna and Balarama find great pleasure in stealing our stock of yogurt and butter from wherever we keep it. When Krishna and Balarama are caught stealing the yogurt and butter, They say, 'Why do you charge us with stealing? Do you think that butter and yogurt are in scarcity in our house?' Sometimes They steal butter, yogurt and milk and distribute them to the monkeys.” (Gopis lodging complaints to mother Yashoda, Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 1, Ch 8)

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Piety and sin. The first brings a person closer to their constitutional position of eternal servant of God. The second brings them further away. It’s like the hot and cold game. Through pious activity, proper behavior and avoidance of sin, a person advances closer towards the ultimate goal.

The original sin, if you will, is diverging from the eternal engagement of devotional service. As soon as there is a hint of envy of the Supreme, the jiva soul falls to the material world. Fortunately, booking a return trip is rather simple. Change desire. If the soul wants to return to the shelter of the Divine, eventually they will find their way back.

All forms of piety, good behavior, etiquette, and the like are derivatives of the dharma of the soul, its essential characteristic. In any endeavor, the rules and regulations are there as a way to increase the chances of meeting the goal. This raises an interesting question. Can there be piety and sin for the Supreme Lord? As He is Bhagavan, which means a distinct personality with distinguishable features, He does have activities. Sometimes those are good, and sometimes they are bad. At least that is how we see it. Since He is pure goodness, even when He follows behavior that is typically considered sinful, against dharma, there is a benefit to everyone involved.

1. Rama shooting Vali in the back

Bhagavan descended to earth as Shri Rama during the Treta Yuga, which was millions of years ago compared to the present. The descent is known as an avatara. Rama was a warrior prince, still beautiful in every way, but with emphasis on protection against aggressors and enemies to the real religion.

In His pastimes, Rama once made friends with a distressed Vanara name Sugriva. Sugriva was living on Mount Rishyamukha since he was deathly afraid of his brother Vali. The kingdom in Kishkindha once belonged to Sugriva, but due to a misunderstanding Vali became enraged and drove his brother out.

Sugriva agreed to help Rama find His missing wife Sita, but first the issue of Vali was there. The Supreme Lord is so kind that He will do anything for His devotees. Rama offered protection. Sugriva and Vali would get into a fight, and Rama would shoot Vali. That is exactly what happened, as Vali received a mortal blow in the back from Rama’s arrow.

According to the codes of conduct of a kshatriya, or warrior, you’re not supposed to shoot someone from behind. Moreover, it is sinful to attack someone who is already engaged in a conflict. Vali even mentioned some of these breaches as he was taking his last breaths. Rama, of course, is above karma, piety and sin. The extraordinary gesture to help Sugriva shows that God does not have to play by the rules. Sugriva regained his kingdom, and soon Sita would come back to Rama as well. Everyone was benefitted, as Vali’s eyes were fixed on the Divine as he departed for the next life, representing the most auspicious death.

2. Krishna stealing butter

When He descended to Vrindavana as Krishna some five thousand years ago, the Supreme Lord was quite naughty during childhood. One of His trademarks was stealing butter. The goods belonged to the neighbors. Krishna’s parents weren’t poor. The father Nanda had so many cows under his protection.

Nevertheless, Krishna would raid the stocks of the neighbors. Knowing Krishna’s ways, the mothers would try to hide their butter. That didn’t work, of course. When caught in His crimes, Krishna would adorably play innocent.

[Krishna and Balarama stealing butter]Ordinarily, stealing is wrong, but in this instance it gave the elderly gopis of Vrindavana a chance to see Krishna. The Supreme Lord is compassion personified. He enjoys the offerings of the devotees. If they are too shy to bring them to Him formally, He is not above breaking and entering to enjoy the fruits of their devotion.

3. Krishna fleeing from Jarasandha

For this the Supreme Lord earned the name Ranchor. He fled from the battlefield. Though He grew up in Vrindavana, Krishna’s birth parents were from a kshatriya family. In adulthood, Krishna moved to Mathura and stood tall as the protector.

A nearby rival named Jarasandha attacked one time. He left embarrassed in defeat. Shaking it off, Jarasandha repeated the attempt. A total of seventeen times he attacked. He needed all the attempts since he kept failing. On the final attempt, Krishna and His brother Balarama fled from the battlefield.

Jarasandha was not happy about this. According to the ways of warfare common at the time, Krishna behaved sinfully. But again, there was a benefit. The escape became the excuse to erect the beautiful city of Dvaraka. That’s where everyone moved, and since it was protected by gates on all sides, Jarasandha and others could no longer attack. Moreover, fleeing from the battlefield gave Bhima the glory of once and for all ridding the world of the king from Magadha. One of the five Pandava brothers, Bhima was very dear to Krishna. The Supreme Lord gives so many opportunities for His devotees to shine.

4. Krishna advising Arjuna to fight

Arjuna was another devotee given a wonderful opportunity to shine. Arjuna’s glory is on two fronts. First, he emerged victorious in the Bharata War. This was the culmination to a long and difficult struggle between two sets of cousins, the Kauravas and the Pandavas. The issue was proprietorship of the kingdom, which rightfully belonged to the Pandavas but had been unjustly usurped by the Kauravas.

“Therefore get up and prepare to fight. After conquering your enemies you will enjoy a flourishing kingdom. They are already put to death by My arrangement, and you, O Savyasachin, can be but an instrument in the fight.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 11.33)

Shri Krishna favored the Pandavas since they were devotees. Still, He didn’t directly intervene in the conflict. He agreed to be Arjuna’s charioteer. The Supreme Lord is time, or kala, so the destruction was already set to happen. Hesitant at first, Arjuna took the advice from Krishna to fight on, to carry out the prescribed duty. Arjuna would simply be the instrument of kala.

Arjuna’s glory also came from accepting Krishna as his spiritual guide and hearing from the Lord the sacred Bhagavad-gita. In that conversation of timeless importance, Krishna repeatedly urged Arjuna to fight on. According to mundane morality, this borders on sinful behavior. The Supreme Lord is urging conflict, which will see so many lose their lives. Arjuna even had some valid counterargument, such as the fact that family traditions would vanish through the deaths. With unwanted children, society would go to hell.

Nevertheless, nothing could reverse the will of the Divine. Arjuna actually behaved most piously since he followed the direct orders of the Supreme Lord. Krishna glorified His devotee Arjuna through creating that circumstance.

5. Krishna dancing with the gopis

There are the elderly gopis of Vrindavana, from whom Krishna stole butter. Then there are the younger gopis, many of whom are married. They are one hundred percent devoted to Krishna. They are the embodiment of God consciousness. They are shining examples of atma-nivedanam, worshiping God in full surrender.

The Supreme Lord is so kind that He does not deny the genuine devotee their preferred mood of interaction. With the gopis, their lone desire was to be with Krishna. In the ordinary sense, they were in kama, or lust. Since that desire was dovetailed with devotion to God, it became bhakti.

Many of the younger gopis were married. Krishna still danced with them in the forest under the bright full moon. He expanded Himself so that each gopi was dancing with Him individually. This beautiful pastime, known as the rasa-lila, has been depicted so many times in paintings.

To the less intelligent, Krishna behaved sinfully. He broke the chastity of the innocent gopis. The wise know that the real definition of chastity is having fidelity to the eternal relationship to God, a relationship based on service. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu has declared the worship of the gopis to be the topmost, as they risked even their reputations and violating etiquette in order to serve Krishna.

In Closing:

Shri Krishna above piety and sin,

Object of all dharmas resting in Him.


The standards of etiquette can break,

Like when butter of neighbors to take.


On battlefield urging Arjuna to attack,

As Rama shooting Vali in the back.


Dancing with gopis under autumn sky clear,

Such pastimes to devotees so dear.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Five Angles Of Vision From Which To Understand God

[Krishna meditating]“Out of His many religious duties, the first was to offer oblations into the sacrificial fire and silently chant the Gayatri mantra. Lord Krishna, as the ideal householder, executed all the religious functions of a householder without deviation.” (Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 2, Ch 15)

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In Vedic philosophy there is a teaching that no matter where a person stands with respect to desire, they should approach God the person instead of one of His deputies. Of course this contradicts other teachings, but that is an issue of time and circumstance and potential for understanding in the society at large. The deputies are known as devas, and they grant specific material desires. Even freedom from again having material desires, known as liberation, is a kind of desire. The idea is that from wherever point you come, approaching Bhagavan will be purifying. His association is beneficial for everyone.

Along similar lines, no matter a person’s angle of vision they can find a way to relate to God and appreciate Him. For this to happen, He must have attributes, saguna. In His nirguna feature, He pervades the entire creation, looking like He is unmanifest. Saguna is where there are different transcendental attributes that can be noticed, studied, and appreciated. He is always above the duality of the material nature, so nirguna and saguna are simply concepts for our understanding.

In whichever way I choose to identify myself, I can relate that identification to God. He is full of transcendental goodness, shudda-sattva.

1. Animal lover

Let’s say that I am a big lover of animals. I keep many pets in the home. Dogs, cats, parrots, fish - you name it and I probably have it. I just feel so much love having these guys around. I don’t eat meat, as I am aware of the violence that goes into putting that on the dinner table. I love all animals, not just the ones that are cute and fuzzy.

Someone of this persuasion can easily find a friend in the Supreme Lord. One of His many names is Gopala. He is the protector of the cows in Vrindavana, both of this world and the spiritual planets. The cows are especially dear to Him since they help humanity. The aid arrives through pure love; the cow gives milk simply upon seeing the calves.

[Krishna with cows]The name Gopala means that Krishna is the protector of the cows. He loves other animals as well, including parrots, bees and deer. Indeed, all life forms are intimately tied to Him. Shri Krishna can be understood to be the greatest lover of animals.

2. Business tycoon

Whenever a new deal is in the works, I get this rush of adrenaline through my body. I’m guessing it’s similar to what Olympic athletes feel when competing for a gold medal. Though I have so many successes already under my belt, I love adding on. They say that if your business isn’t growing, you’re in trouble.

Though typically equated with the material mode of passion, this kind of greed can translate to God as well. He is the wealthiest person in the world. This is true by definition, as He is married to Lakshmi Devi, who is the goddess of fortune. In the spiritual world anything can manifest at any time, as limitations are absent. In Vaikuntha, one minus one can equal five. This is the magic of the spiritual energy.

Evidence of Krishna’s amazing opulence was seen in Dvaraka, where He ruled as king. This was a beautiful kingdom, built by the architect of the demigods, Vishvakarma. The buildings weren’t considered opulent due to running water, electricity, or internet facility. Rather, there was real wealth, where gold and jewels were everywhere. Such palaces would be impossible to create today. Dvaraka, the city of gates in the sea, shows how Krishna can expand His empire as much as He desires, more than the mind can fathom.

3. Ascetic

I am the opposite of the just mentioned group. I don’t want stuff. I can’t handle managing so many things. My head starts to spin. I’d rather have as little as possible. This spirit is known as renunciation, tyaga in Sanskrit.

There are so many paradoxes found in God, and this area is one of them. Despite being the ruler of the opulent kingdom of Dvaraka, Krishna is completely renounced. He is the greatest ascetic. Evidence can be seen from His daily routine. He would regularly arise early in the morning and chant the Gayatri mantra. Though He has no need for asceticism, He shows the proper example for others to follow.

[Krishna meditating]Indeed, in His incarnation of Shri Rama, the Supreme Lord left behind an opulent kingdom to live like a recluse in the forest for fourteen years. A person can relate to God’s devotees as well, such as King Janaka. He was another perfectly renounced person living as ruler of a great kingdom. He worked, but wasn’t attached to the results of his work.

4. Bookworm

I love to read. Books are my real friends. They are always there for me. When I’m reading, the conversation doesn’t get interrupted. I can sit down with the author and not have anyone judge me. It is my preferred method of gathering wisdom. I’ve made a test of it. In comparison to days where I mostly watched television, the days spent reading made me feel so much better afterwards.

This identification translates very well to Shri Krishna, who is responsible for the vast wealth of knowledge given to mankind through Vedic literature. A person’s reading can be both omnivorous and voluminous when accessing the many works of the Vedic tradition.

“I shall now declare unto you in full this knowledge both phenomenal and noumenal, by knowing which there shall remain nothing further to be known.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.2)

If a person prefers to simply read one book over and over, there is the perfect candidate in the Bhagavad-gita. This is a short work, but it has everything needed to be known. Krishna makes precisely that claim to Arjuna in one of the verses.

5. Thief

How can a person who follows adharma, or sinful life, relate to Krishna? He is the antithesis of sin. He is virtue personified. As mentioned before, God is above the duality of the material world. Even when He appears to do something bad, the ultimate result is a benefit to everyone involved.

In this way even the thief can relate to Krishna. The Supreme Lord is the best thief. In Vrindavana, He stole butter from the homes of the neighbors. He did this repeatedly, even after they tried to hide their stocks up high in the storerooms. Krishna is all-pervading, so He knows where everything is.

“I am also the gambling of cheats, and of the splendid I am the splendor. I am victory, I am adventure, and I am the strength of the strong.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 10.36)

Krishna mentions in the Bhagavad-gita that of the cheats, He is gambling. Basically, if cheating is what gets a person ahead in something, Krishna will be the best at it. Gambling gives life to the cheat, and Krishna is identical with that essence.

Another example the unethical person can appreciate is the time Krishna fled from the battlefield. Jarasandha had attacked Mathura so many times. On the last attempt, Krishna and His brother Balarama fled. This earned Krishna the name Ranchor.

No matter a person’s temporary identification, they can find a way to relate to God. Even the drunkard can stay conscious of Krishna. When they indulge in their beverage of choice, they can remember that Krishna is the taste. The all-merciful one knows that there is variety in the material world, and so no one is shut out from making advancement in spiritual life.

In Closing:

People from persuasions different coming,

Can relate to Krishna, more conscious becoming.


Lover of animals to Gopala and cows zone,

Business tycoon to Dvaraka and palaces to own.


Ascetic to Lord’s daily chanting,

And to bookworm Bhagavad-gita granting.


From Ranchor even one given to theft,

Something for everyone, behind no one left.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Five Of The Biggest Lies We Are Told

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

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At their very core, the asura is dishonest. This is because they reject the hand of the Divine. As it is stated in Vedic literature, not a blade of grass moves without the sanction of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Bhagavan. He is in every sphere through the expansion known as the Supersoul. Though ordinarily an impartial witness, His approval is still required for any result to manifest. For this reason He is described as the overseer and the permitter.

The Sanskrit word asura is a negation of another word. Sura means a person who at least acknowledges God’s existence. Such a person generally has good qualities, though they may make mistakes from time to time. The asura is a staunch atheist and their intent is to make others like them. If you are so strongly against God, you will want to make sure worship of Him is never prominent. Along these lines, there are some standard lies told to the innocent, to draw them away from their constitutional position of servant to the Lord.

1. Earn money and be happy

It’s only natural for the parents to want the best for their children. The definition of “best” is subjective, and in many cases the determination is made based on income. If my child gets a good job in adulthood, then I have succeeded as a parent. If they make it as a lawyer or doctor, then I won’t have to worry about them.

But actually, even making a lot of money doesn’t necessarily mean happiness. This lie is more subtle than the others, as it isn’t always told directly. A derivative of this lie is that if you earn enough money, you won’t have to worry about the necessities of life.

“Generally, the wealth of misers never allows them any happiness. In this life it causes their self-torment, and when they die it sends them to hell.” (Lord Krishna, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 11.23.15)

[Krishna speaking to Uddhava]The reality is that there is danger at every step in the material world. Moreover, so many extremely wealthy people are unhappy. A decorated Olympic athlete, with so many gold medals, runs into depression a few years after competition, addicted to alcohol and drugs. A wealthy banker contemplates suicide, and a real estate mogul can’t control their children. Earning a lot of money doesn’t necessarily lead to happiness. As Shri Krishna advises Uddhava, through miserliness, a person’s wealth can lead them to hell.

2. A big bang of chemicals is solely responsible for the universe and everything we see today

“Originally there was just a single-cell organism. Then evolution kicked in. Now we have the advanced human species. Everything came to be through a big collision. What caused that collision? We don’t know. Where did the chemicals come from? Stop asking so many questions. Just accept our theory that there is no God. Nature is everything.”

Of course there is a purpose to this theory; it goes beyond just speculating on nature. If there is evolution of matter, survival of the fittest, then the post of “most fit” is up for grabs. Put more simply, any person can become God. They just have to evolve to the position. This big lie ties directly to the asura mindset.

From the authority that is Vedic literature, we learn there was indeed something like an explosion at the beginning, as we define it. The catalyst was the glance of purusha on prakriti. The original person, God, glanced over the pradhana, the unmanifest matter, and the universe and its infinite variety were born. All the species we see are a combination of the three modes of material nature: goodness, passion and ignorance. They are like works of art created using three primary colors on a very large canvas. Matter does not evolve, but the spirit within can change bodies.

3. There is no afterlife

This lie is very convenient for the asuras. It provides the justification for behaving in any way desired. Drink as much as you want. Eat whatever you want today. Don’t worry about virtue. Who cares about how others are treated, since everything ends at the time of death? Lie and steal if you have to.

The Vedic perspective brings the understanding that the afterlife is merely a point in time relative to another. Today is the afterlife from yesterday. This specific birth is the future from a previous birth. The mystery of the afterlife is removed through a single verse from the Bhagavad-gita, where Shri Krishna explains the travels of the embodied soul.

“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)

4. There is no spirit; the body identifies you

This lie goes along with the Big Bang theory and the speculation about life ending at the time of death. The lie says that the body is simply a collection of chemicals. That collection came to be through the meeting of a man and a woman. It stays around for some time, and then at death it goes back into the ground. Therefore, no need to be concerned with virtue. Just do whatever you want. Enjoy as much as possible.

Of course the enjoyers are often the most miserable. Deep down, they know there is more, that something within lives on. As mentioned by Krishna, there is something known as the embodied soul. It is different from matter. This truth is the basic foundation of the spiritual science. “You are not your body.” Aham brahmasmi is the Sanskrit aphorism. I am spirit soul, part and parcel of the spiritual energy known as Brahman.

Brahman lives on. It is eternal. Fragments of Brahman are found in this material world, where the spirit soul gets covered up by gross and subtle elements of the qualities of the three modes of nature. To know that I am spirit is to know my true identity. From this identity I can properly understand God. I am spirit and so is He. Just as He is eternal, so am I. He is great spirit and I am a fragment expanded from Him. We are meant to always be in accord, following the same interest. When I diverge, which I always have the choice to do, I fall into a universe where I become susceptible to lies about my identity and the purpose to an existence.

5. You don’t need a guru; learn by yourself

This is one of the more silly lies, as it can be debunked in seconds. Observation, experiment, and personal experience are certainly ways to learn. But every person, even the greatest skeptic, puts trust in others. They believe the weather forecast told on the nightly news. They accept the testimony of others. After all, as individual spirit we are not all-pervading. We don’t experience what others experience. We are only made aware through communication.

“Just try to learn the truth by approaching a spiritual master. Inquire from him submissively and render service unto him. The self-realized soul can impart knowledge unto you because he has seen the truth.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.34)

The individual can’t learn the spiritual science without guidance. It is simply not possible. We see what results from mental speculation: one lie after another. It is no accident that when the Supreme Lord Krishna recommends approaching a spiritual master, He mentions the word tattva. This means “truth.” The spiritual master can help me see the truth because they have seen it themselves. The truth-seers pass on the most important knowledge to others. Only through their grace can I come to know about the many lies I have been told and the ones I may have unfortunately told others.

In Closing:

Manifestation of ignorance to unfold,

By many lies to others been told.


That the afterlife just a fairytale,

No hell or heaven’s ladder to scale.


Everything manifest through chemicals bang,

Success in life on income’s balance to hang.


Truth from one themselves seeing,

Spiritual master from ignorance freeing.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Govardhana Puja 2016

[Govardhana Puja]“Lord Chaitanya has recommended that since Krishna is worshipable, so His land, Vrindavana and Govardhana Hill, are also worshipable. To confirm this statement, Lord Krishna said that Govardhana Puja is as good as worship of Him. From that day, the Govardhana Puja has been still going on and is known as Annakuta.” (Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 1, Ch 24)

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Every year on the day after Diwali, there is the celebration known as Govardhana Puja. Devotees not residing by the original sacred spot of land in Vrindavana create a mock version of the famous hill and bring various offerings. As the Supreme Lord says in the Bhagavad-gita, He is satisfied with any simple offering made in devotion, but for Govardhana Puja up to fifty-six different preparations can be made.

“If one offers Me with love and devotion a leaf, a flower, fruit, or water, I will accept it.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.26)

Why is an inanimate object worshiped annually? The process was inaugurated by the Supreme Lord Himself, when He descended to earth many years ago in His adorable form of Shri Krishna, the child who roamed the pristine forests of Vraja. Still, the hill wasn’t just chosen randomly. It is declared to be identical to the Lord Himself, and in many ways it is also a physical manifestation of devotion.

It nourishes the cows

Vrindavana during Krishna’s time was a rural community dependent on cow protection. The cows relied on the people for protection and in return provided more milk and milk-related products than anyone would know what to do with. This is a secret known to Vedic culture, that poverty can be solved through something as simple as owning a cow.

The cow is very dear to the Supreme Lord, and so protecting it is one of the most pious things a person can do. Vrindavana was thus the most pious land, a fit place for Bhagavan to descend and perform His lila, or pastimes. Govardhana Hill nourished the cows with its grass. The hill is massive, so the cows would have plenty of area to roam around as well. When they would go astray, Krishna would climb to the top and play His flute to get their attention.

It is adamant, difficult to move

Govardhana Hill stays where it is, year after year. In its devotion to the cows and the people of Vrindavana, it is steady. It is no accident that after the initial puja insisted on by Krishna, the Supreme Lord Himself took the form of the hill and spoke to the people.

“When everything was complete, Krishna assumed a great transcendental form and declared to the inhabitants of Vrindavana that He was Himself Govardhana Hill in order to convince the devotees that Govardhana Hill and Krishna Himself are identical. Then Krishna began to eat all the food offered there.” (Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 1, Ch 24)

The hill itself gave directions on the worship going forward. That is sufficient proof of its divine identity. The steady devotee makes the most progress in the purification of consciousness. The more steady they are, the more dear they become to God. This is one way to understand the significance of Govardhana.

It is associated with Shri Hanuman

The universe and its diversity of planets and creatures go through cycles of creation and destruction. The events relating to the Divine and His appearances on earth generally follow the same sequence, but everything is not always exactly the same. Therefore we have several stories of how Govardhana Hill first manifested in Vraja Mandala.

One of those stories relates to Shri Hanuman, the dedicated servant of the Supreme Lord in His avatara of Rama. As is famously told in the Ramayana, when Rama was ready to go to Lanka, the island where His wife Sita had been taken against her will, there was an obstacle in the form of a large ocean. Rama had many monkey-like forest-dwellers serving as His army. They started to build a bridge made of rocks that floated.

[Shri Hanuman]Hanuman left to get a big rock, finding Govardhana in the process. Before he could bring it to the spot of the bridge-building, he learned that the bridge was complete. No more rocks were necessary. Govardhana was depressed that it wouldn’t be able to serve Rama. After consulting the Supreme Lord afterwards, Hanuman told the hill that in the next yuga, Dvapara, Rama would return as Krishna and Govardhana would be of great service.

The hill is a manifestation of devotion in an inanimate object, and Hanuman is the same manifestation in a moving living entity. Both are steady and unwavering. They are pure devotees, thinking only of how to please the Supreme Lord.

Krishna assumed its very form

[Govardhana Puja]As mentioned before, Krishna assumed the form of Govardhana, signaling the successful completion of the initial puja. This assured the residents that their decision was the right one. There was some controversy in the beginning, as is expected with any newly introduced worship. The people were accustomed to worshiping the god of heaven, Indra, annually. Krishna persuaded the king of the town, Nanda, to worship the hill instead. Nanda was also Krishna’s father. The redirection was intentional. Krishna wanted to curb Indra’s pride and also show the greatness of Govardhana.

It once acted as the world’s largest and safest umbrella

The jealous Indra did not take too kindly to the people suddenly ignoring him. He retaliated with a devastating rainstorm. Anger is directly tied to kama, or material desire. This means that the stronger the desire that goes unmet, the more ferocious the resulting anger will be. Indra was ready to kill all the residents, including cows, women and children.

Krishna protected the citizens by uprooting Govardhana Hill and holding it over His head. The steady devotee then became the world’s largest umbrella. It was the sturdiest one as well, not buckling under the pressure of the intense rain. This historical incident is also symbolic of the truth that devotion to God, bhakti, is the only true protection a living entity can get. It stops rebirth and it maintains the Supreme Lord’s association at all times.

In Closing:

Sacred hill of Govardhana the name,

To Krishna and bhakti the same.


In one place, reliable and steady,

Touched by Hanuman, in service ready.


To the cows of Vraja very dear,

Assumed by Krishna so identity clear.


World’s largest umbrella became,

When from jealous Indra devastating rain.