Saturday, December 17, 2016

Five Ways to Know That Krishna Is Everyone’s Best Friend

[Krishna and Balarama with cow]"Know that which pervades the entire body is indestructible. No one is able to destroy the imperishable soul." (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.17)

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Friends are made among equals. That is one of the meanings to friendship. It is not a relationship between a guru and a disciple. It is not supposed to be a father and a son, as then there is one side with weight and another lacking it. One side is the authority and the other who approaches authority and learns from it. The famous bow-warrior Arjuna himself had this issue, as he approached his friend when having doubts about one of the biggest decisions of his life.

“I have in the past addressed You as ‘O Krishna,’ ‘O Yadava,’ ‘O my friend,’ without knowing Your glories. Please forgive whatever I may have done in madness or in love. I have dishonored You many times while relaxing or while lying on the same bed or eating together, sometimes alone and sometimes in front of many friends. Please excuse me for all my offenses.” (Arjuna, Bhagavad-gita, 11.41-42)

In that case the friend turned into the guru for a brief period. Arjuna regretted referring to the guru with friendly terms in the past, but in fact there was no need. That guru is the best friend of every living entity, when the definition is taken as “well-wisher.” He brings to the devotee the relationship they most prefer with the Divine.

1. He is inside of every person as the Supersoul

I may have a best friend. In some cases, more than one person might view me as their best friend, which makes selecting a best man at a Christian-style wedding difficult. Despite how popular I may be, I can’t be everyone’s best friend. It is not a character defect. It is not that I must choose sides. Rather, I can’t know every single person. It is simply impossible.

The Supreme Lord accomplishes omnipresence without effort. He automatically expands into the Supersoul to reside within the heart of every living creature. He is inside of me right now. The same person, who has four-hands in His transcendental form of Narayana, is there inside of you as well. In His original form He is all-attractive. Known as Krishna, He is the greatest well-wisher of every living entity. He is the good friend to Arjuna and also his cousin.

2. He witnesses everything but does not interfere

In the Bhagavad-gita we learn that the Supersoul is the overseer and the permitter. Known as Paramatma, the Supreme Lord in this expansion sees everything that goes on. No one actually gets away with a crime. If the guilty have escaped the strong arm of the law, it means that their punishment in karma is slated to arrive at a later time.

“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)

The results to action manifest through the sanction of Paramatma. In material life, God does not make judgments. The initial turn away from devotional service is already there; proof is through birth in the material world. Whether a person ascends or descends, enjoys in this way or that, as long as they are away from service to God the person, they are essentially in the same situation. Supersoul witnesses everything, but He does not interfere with decisions.

3. The bad guys are spared from further pain

The punishment for sinful deeds arrives at the appropriate time, like the flowers that blossom on the trees. Krishna said these words Himself one time in His incarnation of Rama. The words were spoken to a person who had gotten away with murdering and eating the most innocent adults in society, the priestly class.

Even this punishment is beneficial. It is another way that God wishes well for people. The punishment maintains fairness and it also prevents further pain and suffering for the guilty. In Khara’s case, he got liberation since he died at the hands of Rama. Others descend to lower species in the next life, but they are never forever condemned. They get to work their way back through the evolution of species, which is nothing more than the individual spirit soul trading up in terms of bodies in successive lifetimes.

4. He gives everyone what they want

The ever well-wisher is a friend, not an owner. As a friend, there is independence. If my friend simply agreed with everything I said and had no mind of their own, the relationship would have little value. In the same way, the Supreme Lord rewards the devotees accordingly. As they surrender unto Him, He delivers.

“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)

[Krishna and Balarama with cow]Some desire a mood of equality, where friendship is established. Others love God so much that they desire to be His caretaker. Others want more intimate association, while some prefer to worship from a distance. The best friend of every living entity brings to each person exactly what they desire. He does not try to change them. Even to the materialists, only when they are ready for something more does He send the Divine mercy.

5. His words benefit every single person

The Bhagavad-gita was delivered on the battlefield of Kurukshetra to Arjuna, the leading fighter for the Pandava side. It seems in this situation that Krishna has drawn lines, between the good and the bad. He is the charioteer for one side, which means that He favors them.

“I envy no one, nor am I partial to anyone. I am equal to all. But whoever renders service unto Me in devotion is a friend, is in Me, and I am also a friend to him.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.29)

He is by default neutral, but anyone who renders service unto Him becomes a friend. It is something like taking advantage of electricity that runs through the neighborhood. Every house gets it, but unless things are plugged into the electrical outlets, the electricity is not used. Those who serve God in a mood of devotion essentially tap into the Divine mercy that is already available to everyone.

Though Krishna prefers Arjuna due to the loving devotion, the words of the Bhagavad-gita benefit everyone. They are just as relevant to the Kauravas as they are to the Pandavas. They save the asuras just as much as they rescue the pious. In this way every person hasn’t got far to go to find the best companion. They simply need look within, to the Supersoul, whose form is revealed by the spiritual guide to be the Almighty in His full attractiveness.

In Closing:

To find best friend to confide,

Not far, in your heart to reside.


There in everyone else too,

Witnessing acts from me and you.


Impartial, in decisions not to interfere,

There to help when wanting picture clear.


Despite on Arjuna’s side in war to stand,

Benefit to all those words to understand.

Friday, December 16, 2016

How Do We Understand The Pains And Pleasures Of Others

[Bhagavad-gita As It Is]“Anyone can understand what is spread all over the body: it is consciousness. Everyone is conscious of the pains and pleasures of the body in part or as a whole. This spreading of consciousness is limited within one's own body. The pains and pleasures of one body are unknown to another. Therefore, each and every body is the embodiment of an individual soul, and the symptom of the soul's presence is perceived as individual consciousness.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 2.17 Purport)

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Friend1: Do you ever feel misunderstood?

Friend2: Only when I’m talking to you.

Friend1: Very funny. I’m serious.

Friend2: Do you mean in general or from time to time?

Friend1: The latter. Especially if it’s something important that you want people to understand.

Friend2: Oh, of course. I think everyone has that issue to some degree. Why do you ask? Did something happen?

Friend1: I was just thinking about it. My friend got mad at me the other day.

Friend2: What did you do?

Friend1: We were watching television. It was a few hours after we had eaten a large meal. As you might know, after consuming a heavy meal that has certain oils in it, I have some difficulty breathing later on.

Friend2: Right. You and your cause and effect theories.

Friend1: Anyway, at one point while we were watching the game, I took a deep breath. To my friend it sounded like a sigh.

Friend2: I see.

Friend1: And so they got really angry at me. “If you’re so bored, why don’t you just go home? How many times have I sat through your stuff? I never complained.”

Friend2: That’s funny. Did you tell them what was going on?

Friend1: No point. It’s too lengthy an explanation. What’s funny is that this has happened to me many times. I didn’t even realize I was doing it. I’m not sure I’ve ever even sighed out of boredom or frustration. It’s always the breathing thing.

Friend2: Interesting.

Friend1: It got me to thinking. Wouldn’t it be great if everyone understood each other?

Friend2: Of course. That would solve a lot of problems.

Friend1: Exactly. Problems. No more wars. No more riots. People getting along with each other. I guess if they took the time to communicate, to really listen to what people are saying, they could get an idea.

Friend2: Still, the experience is not there. No one knows about your sighing problem caused by eating unless they experience it themselves. They understand what it might be, but real empathy will be lacking until they go through it themselves.

Friend1: Sort of explains the difference between the individual soul and the Supersoul, right?

[Prabhupada]Friend2: Great transition. That is absolutely correct. His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada talks about this a lot. Consciousness is an indication of spirit. Consciousness is spread throughout the body of the living being.

Friend1: My fingers, my toes, my nose, my stomach - they all communicate with me.

Friend2: That’s because the soul is present. Shri Krishna even refers to how the soul goes through the entire body. He says that the soul is indestructible.

“Know that which pervades the entire body is indestructible. No one is able to destroy the imperishable soul.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.17)

Friend1: Then I guess that helps to explain what death is.

Friend2: The indestructible soul leaves the body. That explains the sudden shift, from consciousness everywhere to no consciousness at all.

Friend1: It also explains how that consciousness is limited to a particular body. It can’t spread to another body without leaving the first one.

Friend2: There you go. You get some exceptions with advanced mystic yoga, but even that is kind of magic. The ability won’t last forever and you still can’t spread consciousness to every single person.

Friend1: Are we doomed, then? No chance at peace.

Friend2: Well, it’s not like the Supersoul is absent a form. It can speak. It did so to Arjuna on the battlefield of Kurukshetra.

Friend1: How does that help?

Friend2: The Supersoul witnesses the pains and pleasures of everyone. It experiences everything. It is all-pervading and a single entity. Therefore when the Supersoul speaks, it brings the highest knowledge.

Friend1: What does Krishna say that helps to bring peace, to help us understand each other?

Friend2: I’m going to pretend that you didn’t mean to ask that question, because the answer is, “what doesn’t He say?” Everything He teaches is for the benefit of every single human being. Though He was talking to a warrior belonging to one side of a conflict, the words would have benefitted the other side, if they were to listen in. That’s one reason the Supersoul is known as the impartial witness. God does not make judgments on material endeavors. Good and bad are relative. The only real good is returning to His lotus feet, serving Him in lifetime after lifetime.

Friend1: Whereas the individual soul speaks only from personal experience. That experience might not be beneficial to everyone.

Friend2: Understand that everyone in this world is struggling. There are the six senses, which include the mind. There is birth and death. There is attachment and loss. There is material desire, kama, and then anger and loss of intelligence. Everyone suffers from these things, whether rich or poor, young or old.

Friend1: So I am no better than you and you are no better than me.

Friend2: That applies not just to humans, but to all species. The humans have the advantage of the potential for intelligence, to understand God to the point that they can get out of the cycle of birth and death. Still, potential in intelligence doesn’t make me any more of a spiritual fragment expanded from God than a cow, a dog, an ant, or a bird.

Friend1: I see.

[Bhagavad-gita As It Is]Friend2: Solve world peace by hearing from the greatest teacher. If you can’t access His words directly from shastra, then listen to someone who represents Him. The bona fide representative will understand the difference between individual soul and Supersoul, never thinking that the two can become identical or merged into each other. There is years and years of human experience available to consult, to help us understand each other and what our real purpose in life is.

In Closing:

My behaving a certain way,

How properly to say.


So that my perspective you’ll understand,

And not argue, escalate until out of hand.


Individual soul pervading body throughout,

Still of outside experience without.


Only from Supersoul witness to hear,

Krishna teaching life’s struggles clear.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Five Signs That Even Krishna’s Anger Is Auspicious

[Krishna charging at Bhishma]“Fulfilling my desire and sacrificing His own promise, He got down from the chariot, took up its wheel, and ran towards me hurriedly, just as a lion goes to kill an elephant. He even dropped His outer garment on the way.” (Bhishmadeva, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 1.9.37)

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The Supreme Lord is atmarama. This compound Sanskrit word means “satisfied in the self.” This is one of limitless wonderful and perfect descriptions of God, who is originally a person, having a distinct spiritual identity. He is within all of us as the Supersoul, but we are not identical to Him. All beings are in Him, but He not in them.

“By Me, in My unmanifested form, this entire universe is pervaded. All beings are in Me, but I am not in them.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.4)

Since He is atmarama, He has no reason to be angry. This debunks the mentally concocted theory of God being an old man, angrily looking down upon the sinners residing in the earthly realm. As the material world is a reflection of the spiritual world, anger is something legitimate. It does exist in God from time to time, but even an emotion typically considered negative and a sign of weakness brings auspiciousness to everyone affected.

1. The garland of intestines with Narasimhadeva

What an image! A time-honored tradition in Vedic culture, the garland of flowers is offered as a sign of respect. The gesture takes time and effort. Like the powerful smartphone constructed on an assembly line and engineered with expert intelligence, the flower garland doesn’t randomly come together. Someone has to take the effort to pluck the flowers, arrange them, and then thread a string through them.

Narasimhadeva once wore a garland of intestines. It wasn’t voluntarily offered, either. The Supreme Lord in this special half-man/half-lion incarnation ripped those intestines out of a wicked character. The victim was immune from all sorts of weapons due to boons he received from a celestial. Taking advantage of his immunity, with ill intent this person caused havoc throughout the world.

Yet even then the Supreme Lord didn’t intervene. Hiranyakashipu was living in the material world, after all. It is a place where the independence to choose against service to God can be exercised to its fullest. Time, or kala, devours everything eventually. There is no need for the direct intervention of the person who is satisfied in the self.

Hiranyakashipu started to persecute his five year old son. Named Prahlada, the boy was innocent in every way. His only crime was love for God in His personal form. Hiranyakashipu considered Vishnu to be an enemy. A friend of his enemy naturally became his enemy as well. The father tried to kill the boy in various ways, but nothing worked. Finally, Vishnu arrived in an angry form, tearing the king in half using the transcendental nails on the hands. The garland of intestines was a sign of auspiciousness since it meant liberation for the king and protection for the boy.

2. Rama on the battlefield preparing to shoot an arrow

Shri Rama is another incarnation of Vishnu. This time God appeared as a warrior prince, perfectly matched to the vulnerability in boons received by another wicked king. Named Ravana, the leader of Lanka was immune against attack from all sorts of creatures, both heavenly and hellish. The one mistake he made was to forget human beings. An apparently mortal person could defeat him in battle, though who in the world was strong enough to put up enough resistance?

Shri Rama was committed to dharma, or virtue, and so He was naturally peaceful. Despite being a member of the warrior race, even those He punished weren’t angry with Him. He was like the most honest police officer, who never held anyone’s crimes against them; Rama simply did His job.

When Rama was on the battlefield, He would sometimes get angry. Strong emotion is necessary to continue in such a hostile environment. Like the garland of intestines, the arrows drawn to Rama’s bow were auspicious for everyone involved. They would pierce through the armor of the enemies, who had gotten away with violent crimes for far too long. Those arrows removed the influence of the wicked king of Lanka, who had made the fatal error of taking away Rama’s wife in secret.

3. The sudarshana-chakra chasing Durvasa

This was a conflict that should have never occurred. On one side you had a powerful yogi, who could travel to any planet at will. On the other you had a pious king, who though a householder was affectionate to everyone. The two should work together. The yogi should be respected. He should be wise and offer sound words of advice to everyone. The king should happily welcome the wise yogi to his home whenever there is a visit and listen attentively and submissively.

Unfortunately, the situation turned ugly . Durvasa Muni became jealous of Ambarisha Maharaja. Durvasa did not like all the attention Ambarisha was getting. The king was a great devotee of Vishnu, and as such he should not have had any enemies. When Durvasa offended the king, Lord Vishnu sent His sudarshana-chakra in anger.

The very name of this weapon references auspiciousness. Though it is a disc, it is a beautiful one, spinning in a way to cut down its target easily. The beautiful looking spinning wheel chased Durvasa Muni around the universe, as the yogi could not find shelter anywhere. Finally, in front of Vishnu Himself Durvasa was told the only way to avoid destruction was to approach Ambarisha and ask for forgiveness. Thus once again everyone was benefitted by the Supreme Lord’s anger.

4. Krishna ready to hurl a wheel at Bhishma

The Bharata War saw battles between some of the greatest fighters this world has ever seen. This wasn’t your classic struggle between good and evil, either. Some people on the acknowledged “bad” side were of good character. They just remained on their side for their own reasons. One example is Bhishmadeva. He was respected by members of both sides, the Pandavas and the Kauravas, who were cousins. He was the grandfather. He was pious in every way. He was a great devotee of Vishnu.

So was Arjuna, the leading fighter for the Pandavas. Krishna, who is Vishnu Himself, remained neutral in the conflict, but He assisted Arjuna by acting as charioteer. The promise from the Supreme Lord was that He would not take part in the conflict. Knowing about this Bhishma one day proclaimed that either Arjuna would die in battle or Krishna would have to break His promise.

[Krishna charging at Bhishma]Bhishma attacked Arjuna so fiercely that it looked like the leading warrior for the Pandavas was going to be defeated. At that time Krishna took one of the wheels from the chariot and rushed towards Bhishma in anger. Bhishma continued to shoot arrows, breaking Krishna’s armor. This display of transcendental anger greatly pleased Bhishma, who later remembered it fondly while on his deathbed. Indeed, it was the preferred vision on his mind as he exited his body for the next life.

5. Krishna’s punch to Kamsa

Kamsa was the king of Mathura, and among other things he was known as a baby killer. He had taken all of his sister Devaki’s newborn children and thrown them against a stone slab. Krishna was the last of those children, and He escaped to Gokula before anything could happen.

That baby would make a triumphant return to Mathura to fulfill the destiny revealed to the wicked king on the day of Devaki’s marriage. A voice from the sky warned Kamsa that his sister’s eighth child would kill him. Krishna arrived on the scene and took part in a wrestling match in front of a gathered assembly. Reserving the strongest punch for last, the son of Devaki ended the life of the ruler. There was anger in that blow, but the result was auspicious for everyone involved. Devaki and her husband Vasudeva were released from jail, the innocent people of the world no longer had to worry, and the Supreme Lord once again protected His devotees.

In Closing:

Atmarama, self-situated is He,

But sometimes anger in Him to see.


Since transcendental everything understood,

Even that emotion bringing to all good.


Like Narasimha garland of intestines wearing,

And Rama’s arrows through enemy armor tearing.


Krishna rushing towards Bhishma with wheel,

Single punch fate of wicked Kamsa to seal.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Five Reasons To Quote From Shastra When Discussing Spiritual Topics

[writing shastra]“Arjuna said: You are the Supreme Brahman, the ultimate, the supreme abode and purifier, the Absolute Truth and the eternal divine person. You are the primal God, transcendental and original, and You are the unborn and all-pervading beauty. All the great sages such as Narada, Asita, Devala, and Vyasa proclaim this of You, and now You Yourself are declaring it to me.” (Bhagavad-gita, 10.12-13)

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Along with politics it is one of the more volatile subject matters for discussion. Civil conversation can turn into a heated argument rather quickly. There is strong sentiment, after all. There is risk of offense even with the most benign comment.

“How dare you say your god is superior? It is amazing that you are still able to speak, that your tongue continues to function, after you have insulted the goddess in that way. You are the greatest sinner. You will reap the ugly reward for your attitude. The other gods are not servants to yours. You know nothing about the culture of which you speak.”

When discussing spiritual topics that are comprehensibly explained in the Vedic tradition, the protocol is to quote from shastra, which is scripture. In fact, the words coming down from the ages are the basis for discussion. They stimulate thoughts, helping the spirit inside to regain its original occupation, the eternal engagement that is devotional service.

1. It is etiquette

We know of shastra because it has been passed down. We were not alive when the ancient books were first written down. Indeed, the Vedas are known as the shrutis, which means “that which is heard.” It is an aural tradition. The written word came later on, as man’s memory capacity diminished. The Vedic view is the opposite of the mentally concocted one of modern science and research. The abilities in man diminish with the passage of time. What we see as advancement today is actually regression; becoming more and more like the animals.

The bona fide spiritual teachers who came before us quoted from shastra regularly. They were not mere stenographers or messengers without any personal input. They wrote a lot. They commented extensively. But everything was based on shastra. They did not make up anything.

2. It establishes authority

The human being is constantly discovering. The process starts at infancy. How can a person who was once in diapers ever say they are all-knowing? Whatever knowledge they have has been acquired. The easiest way to acquire knowledge is the descending process, where the valuable information is passed down from others.

Quoting shastra validly establishes authority. Any person can say anything, after all. I can tell people that it’s going to rain outside. They see the bright sun and think otherwise. I am later proven correct because I used the authority of the weather bureau. They put out the report and I simply passed the information along.

[quoting shastra]In an argument about what is spirit, what is supreme spirit, who is the ultimate controller, what happens after we die, what is my true identity, what is the form of the Divine - establishing authority is essential. Shastra helps to do that. In fact, without quoting a higher authority, the exercise is something like trying to guess what paintings are on the wall after entering a dark room, with the lights off.

3. It goes beyond mental speculation

The mind is a material element; a subtle one. The individual is spirit soul. In this world they are covered up by gross and subtle material elements. A scientist can spend years and years to reach the same conclusion. They may not have the same terms for the individual aspects, but the concepts are the same. The easier way is to consult the authority of Shri Krishna.

“Earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind, intelligence and false ego - altogether these eight comprise My separated material energies.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.4)

Quote from the Bhagavad-gita to establish your authority. This goes beyond mental speculation. The sentimentalism that leads to fanaticism and sometimes to extreme anger and violence are all without authority. Any person can have a preference towards anything. With mental speculation, one person’s opinion is as good as another’s. There is no authority. Shastra is above the defects of the material mind, as it is composed by realized souls who themselves referenced higher authorities.

4. Krishna did it

From the authority of the Bhagavad-gita, which is a single source sufficient for referencing in discussions on the highest truths of life, we learn that Shri Krishna is Bhagavan, which His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada translates as “Supreme Personality of Godhead.” Others may take offense to this. They have their own god that they worship. They may have a different religion that they inherited at the time of birth.

“It is said that the soul is invisible, inconceivable, immutable, and unchangeable. Knowing this, you should not grieve for the body.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.25)

Shri Krishna Himself references authority in the discussion with the warrior Arjuna. The Supreme Lord follows etiquette. He knows that it is the tendency of man to mentally speculate. He understands that any person can say anything. Therefore He references the Vedas, which are non-different from Him. He makes reference to other wise souls, people who themselves quote shastra.

5. Arjuna did it

Of course there is further proof of Krishna’s divinity. At one point He shows the universal form to Arjuna. The virata-rupa is the complete everything from the manifest world. Beyond the manifest is the unmanifest, which is difficult to understand while a living being is embodied.

“For those whose minds are attached to the unmanifested, impersonal feature of the Supreme, advancement is very troublesome. To make progress in that discipline is always difficult for those who are embodied.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 12.5)

Still, showing everything that is known to exist in a single image is enough proof of Krishna’s divine status. After seeing this amazing form, Arjuna went into great praise of Krishna. He described the charioteer, friend and cousin to be the god of gods, deva deva. He said that Krishna was the supreme pure, pavitram paramam.

Following etiquette we can simply quote Arjuna when teaching about the form of God, and how He is with two hands and all-attractive. We need only reference the Bhagavad-gita. Despite having the incontrovertible evidence in front of him, Arjuna made sure to still reference other authorities. He said that great sages like Devala, Asita, Narada and Vyasa all agreed; they came to the same conclusion. The most cultured disciple, who had the most direct experience with God, himself quotes from shastra and great personalities.

In Closing:

“My goddess too with power and might,

Against your opinion I’ll fight.


What exactly do you know,

Why if you say then it is so?”


Arguing from mental speculation’s way,

To quote from shastra actual proper way.


Flawed as material element is the mind,

Etiquette in Arjuna and Krishna too to find.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Where Do You Draw The Line Between Vairagya And Bhakti

[Krishna's lotus feet]“O son of Kunti, the nonpermanent appearance of happiness and distress, and their disappearance in due course, are like the appearance and disappearance of winter and summer seasons. They arise from sense perception, O scion of Bharata, and one must learn to tolerate them without being disturbed.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.14)

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Friend1: Vairagya.

Friend2: Renunciation.

Friend1: Yes. It’s important.

Friend2: Do you know the meaning to the two terms that make up that word?

Friend1: I didn’t know there were two terms.

Friend2: Vai and ragya. “Without attachment.”

Friend1: Interesting. But there is raganuga bhakti, right?

Friend2: Yes. Devotion to God. Spontaneous attraction. It’s a high level of devotion.

Friend1: For us mere mortals, struggling through the material existence, renunciation is pretty important.

Friend2: Absolutely.

Friend1: There is that Bhagavad-gita verse that I always try to keep in mind.

Friend2: Which one?

Friend1: About keeping steady through the good times and the bad. Tolerating the situations, understanding that they come and go like the winter and summer seasons.

[Four seasons]Friend2: That’s a pretty profound verse. People are always complaining about the weather.

Friend1: Yeah. In the summer they have to find an air conditioned room. In the winter they have to start the car early to make sure it is warm when they step inside.

Friend2: And don’t forget that in the spring there are allergies.

Friend1: In the fall you have to rake the leaves.

Friend2: Autumn might be my favorite season. I love the evenings during that time. There’s a slight chill in the air, and the clouds in the sky look so beautiful.

Friend1: I am going somewhere with this, obviously. How much renunciation is enough?

Friend2: What do you mean?

Friend1: Vairagya is detachment. The objects to which we are attached are many. Should I renounce them one by one?

Friend2: Move away from family and home, get rid of your car, don’t watch so much television. Stuff like that?

Friend1: Yeah.

Friend2: I see. Renunciation is important for sure. It’s a great tool to aid the transcendentalist in the war against maya, or illusion. There is a line, though.

Friend1: Oh. So you can go too far with your renunciation?

Friend2: Absolutely. The idea is to not be renounced for the sake of being renounced. Your false ego can grow if you keep proceeding in that direction.

Friend1: How so?

Friend2: You can become proud of how renounced you are. Like you are showing off to the world that you have no possessions. While externally renounced, internally you have attachment to the attention. You are falsely proud. Krishna refers to this as being a pretender.

“One who restrains the senses and organs of action, but whose mind dwells on sense objects, certainly deludes himself and is called a pretender.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 3.6)

Friend1: I see. But that person is trying. Shouldn’t they get credit for that? Isn’t extreme renunciation better than no renunciation?

Friend2: Listen, this is pretty simple to understand. Renunciation for purifying the consciousness doesn’t mean that you voluntarily find painful situations, without justification. There are people with cars and there are people without them. Just because you have a car doesn’t mean you should sell it. You can live without it, for sure, but there are some practical uses for it.

Friend1: You can use it in your devotional service, bhakti.

Friend2: Exactly. The idea is to tolerate different situations in your service to the Supreme Lord. That is real renunciation. You are fine with stuff and fine without it. Be cool whatever comes your way; don’t go out of your way.

Friend1: That’s good. I like that.

Friend2: There are recommended forms of renunciation, such as the sannyasa-ashrama. That is like a template to help you in the right direction, but Shri Krishna says that real sannyasa is more about attitude than action.

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

[Krishna's lotus feet]If you are confused on a particular issue, just assess the effect on your devotional service. If giving up something helps you, go with it. If having something isn’t hurting you, there is no reason to renounce it unnecessarily.

In Closing:

With cause, proper justification,

Otherwise fruitless is renunciation.


Like for fame and attention to show,

To live in Himalayan cave to go.


Needed for attachment to increase,

Love of God, hold of maya release.


If confused assessment easily done,

From this path closer to Krishna to come?

Monday, December 12, 2016

Five Reasons To Be Optimistic About The Future

[Shri Rama's hand]“The many past births you spoiled can be rectified right now, today, if you start chanting Shri Rama’s holy name and renounce bad association, says Tulsi.” (Dohavali, 22)

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Riots in the streets. No jobs. High taxes. Lying politicians, working in concert with the media to cover up scandal after scandal. Opposing candidates buckling under the pressure, being persecuted for telling the truth, for speaking frankly. The destruction of the environment. Further dependency on drugs and alcohol. Children growing up spoiled, not able to handle tough situations when transitioning to adulthood.

There are lots of reasons to be pessimistic about the future. The Vedas describe this to be the age of Kali, after all. Quarrel and hypocrisy have a stronghold over good sense. Dharma and adharma switch. What is actually pious gets labeled sinful. What is the most harmful to the soul in its travels gets labeled beneficial; by vote wrong becomes right.

Despite the many challenges, there are reasons to be optimistic about the future. The hope is rooted in the intrinsic nature of the individual, who is spirit and not matter. Shri Krishna and the Vedas that spring from Him speak glowingly about spirit.

1. We have committed so many mistakes already

And since we are alive right now, we can tell about it. That bad memory. That troubling experience from childhood. That failure on the biggest stage, where the pressure got to us. The experiences were real, but they are still only temporary. There have been so many mistakes, as to err is human. The Vedas say that man has four principal defects: committing mistakes, cheating, imperfect senses, and the tendency to be illusioned.

The fact that we are still alive today means that there is a chance to correct things. Shri Hanuman a long time ago ran into difficulty when sent on a mission. He was by himself, and everyone back home was relying on him for success. He thought about just giving up and not returning. In his subsequent mental deliberation, he concluded that to remain alive was better, since with life there was a chance to succeed.

“There are many faults associated with ending my life, and if I remain alive I can find all-auspiciousness. Therefore, I will keep my life-breath, for by living success is assured.” (Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 13.47)

2. Spirit is everywhere

The spiritual science of the Vedas, so succinctly and nicely presented by Krishna in the Bhagavad-gita, says that the true identity of the individual is spirit. They are jivatma. There is a choice in association, between the spiritual energy and the material. From the material energy we become illusioned.

One byproduct of that illusion is to create friends and enemies. In reality, every living being is in the same position as us. The friends act favorably towards us and enemies the opposite, but everyone is struggling all the same. The rich person is just as much Brahman as the poor person. Brahman is everywhere. The difficulties of life are not exclusive to me.

3. Paramatma is inside of me

Another byproduct of illusion is to think of myself as the doer. I decide to move my hand, and the result quickly manifests. A keystroke is a decision made by the mind to place the fingers in a certain place. Yet the results to these choices only manifest when there is first sanction from a higher authority.

“The bewildered spirit soul, under the influence of the three modes of material nature, thinks himself to be the doer of activities, which are in actuality carried out by nature.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 3.27)

That higher authority witnesses everything in His role as Supersoul. Jivatma is encased within the material covering of gross and subtle elements. The indication of the existence of jivatma is the consciousness spread throughout the body. The all-pervading witness is Paramatma, and He rests within the heart right next to the jivatma. The difference is that Paramatma has consciousness in all bodies. One entity spread through the universe and beyond. I am never alone, and as Paramatma sanctions the results to material activities, He is ready to help in the success for spiritual activities as well.

4. The struggles of past devotees

Souls from the past who were much wiser than me also struggled in life. They knew what they wanted to do. They were not in illusion. They received help from a spiritual guide, known as a guru. They were prepared to take all risks in the path of bhakti-yoga, devotional service.

Yet even they had to struggle. Prahlada Maharaja was persecuted by his powerful father. Hanuman faced many obstacles in his journey to Lanka. Valmiki had fallen into a terrible occupation. The Pandavas were homeless and always on the run from the lethal aggression of Duryodhana and his family.

Those great souls succeeded because they were surrendered. The same potential is there for me and everyone else in this world. Just a simple turn in the direction of God the person is all that is necessary. He takes care of the rest. That turn can be made at any time, day or night, in this life or the next.

5. The path to success is made easier today

At the dawn of creation, the path to success in spiritual life was meditation. The conditions were ideal for extended contemplation, done free of distractions. In the next age, the path was elaborate sacrifice, done in honor of Vishnu, whose name is synonymous with yajna. In the next age, the recommended method was worship of the deity, the merciful form of the Lord appearing before the eyes of the conditioned souls.

[Shri Rama's hand]In this age of Kali, the process is simple. Just chant the holy names. The name of God is a sound that is non-different from Him. We get proof of food by eating, proof of aroma by smelling, and proof of beautiful visual art through seeing. The holy name is the acoustic proof of God.

In this age the best names to chant have been placed in an easy to remember and repeat sequence of words. Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. This is known as the maha-mantra.

Take the authorized name of choice. You can chant Vishnu. You can chant Rama. Goswami Tulsidas says that the mistakes from the past births can be corrected immediately by chanting Rama’s name and giving up bad association. Attachment to the first automatically leads to the second. Have love for God, make that your activity of highest priority. In maintaining that most important practice, you’ll steer clear of things that get in the way. Thus the future suddenly turns bright, as the clouds of Kali part to reveal the bright effulgence of the Supreme Lord.

In Closing:

So much despair and destruction to see,

Elected politicians lying to you and me.


Alcohol and to drugs addiction,

Kali Yuga matching shastra prediction.


Reason to be optimistic there is still,

All-pervasive spirit, all areas to fill.


Path to success easier made,

By to holy names honor paid.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

What Is The Secret To Success In Bhakti Yoga

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

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Friend1: What is the secret to success in bhakti-yoga?

Friend2: For you or for everyone?

Friend1: I’m already advanced, further along than you.

Friend2: Of course you are. That is wonderful news.

Friend1: I’m just kidding. You know, give me some general advice.

Friend2: What is the problem?

Friend1: It could be anything.

Friend2: Such as?

Friend1: Having a difficult time chanting my rounds each day.

Friend2: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

Friend1: In this dark age of Kali, there is no other way of salvation than the chanting of the holy names. The names, which are words of Sanskrit origin, directly represent the Supreme Lord. They are different ways to know Him, to call out to Him in love. The spiritual master, the guru, has given the recommendation to chant the mantra a fixed number of times each day.

Friend2: Before you proceed, make a note of that word.

Friend1: Which one?

Friend2: Guru.

Friend1: Okay. So I’m having a difficult time chanting my rounds. That could be one problem.

Friend2: What is the difficulty?

Friend1: Motivation. Lack of time. Worrying over the worthiness of the activity.

Friend2: You’re thinking, “Am I getting anywhere with this?”

Friend1: Exactly.

Friend2: As this is supposed to be general advice, what are some other problems?

Friend1: Let me see. Basically, they are all along the same lines. I know there is something I should be doing, but I’m having a difficult time doing it. I know there are things I shouldn’t be doing. But again, it’s not easy to avoid those things.

Friend2: And now you want a secret piece of advice that will solve everything?

Friend1: Yes. Please help me!

Friend2: What makes you think I have the answer?

Friend1: If you don’t, then I’m really in trouble.

Friend2: If I did, why should I tell you?

Friend1: Because it’s mean to keep it to yourself. Don’t be a kripana.

Friend2: Wow. You know the Sanskrit word for miser.

Friend1: Yes, and I have a visual example to go with the definition. Your face.

Friend2: The secret is that word I told you to remember before.

Friend1: Guru?

Friend2: Yes. Please the guru. You’re already taking advice from him. You must have some level of respect for that to happen.

Friend1: Of course. The guru is the authority. He is the link to the chain of succession which has Krishna, or God, at the origin. What if the guru is not around to help me? I need to know what is the secret of the people who do succeed.

[Shrila Prabhupada]Friend2: They love their spiritual master. Even on days when they don’t feel like carrying forward, they do so anyway. They understand that eventually success will come. That is the promise made by the representative. The devotion of the devotee never perishes. The Bhagavad-gita confirms this:

“He quickly becomes righteous and attains lasting peace. O son of Kunti, declare it boldly that My devotee never perishes.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.31)

Friend1: Okay, that is good advice. Thanks. But I feel like you are holding something back. There must be something else in the beyond.

Friend2: So many of these things you’ll come to realize on your own. Pure love of God is not some cheap thing. You can’t buy it from somewhere. The guru gives the seed of the creeper of devotional service, but it is up to the recipient to nurture that seed so that it one day blossoms into a tree.

Friend1: Let me try to come at this from a different angle, since you’re obviously being difficult. What is your secret? What do you tell yourself to keep going?

Friend2: Hmm. I don’t even think of it that way.

Friend1: What do you mean?

Friend2: There is no question of stopping.

Friend1: You don’t have days where you are doubting yourself?

Friend2: I’m always doubting whether I am pleasing the Supreme Lord. I always feel like I haven’t done enough for the guru. There is no doubt about that. But stopping is out of the question. This is who I am. It is what gives me happiness. It has come to define me. There is no thought of quitting.

Friend1: Wow, that’s nice.

Friend2: You asked for a secret and I’ll give you one. It’s there for everyone to read, too. Go to the Ramayana. Find the section where the Supreme Lord in His incarnation of Rama is roaming the forest with His wife Sita Devi and His younger brother Lakshmana.

Friend1: Okay. What am I looking for exactly?

Friend2: There is a part where Rama asks Lakshmana to find a spot to build a hut. Lakshmana’s response is amazing. It is the secret you are looking for.

Friend1: What does he say?

[Rama and Lakshmana]Friend2: That he will continue to be Rama’s servant, even if Rama were to command him for one hundred years. Lakshmana will never waver. That is the definition of pure devotional service. The attitude you should have is that if Krishna Himself came to you and asked you to stop chanting, you wouldn’t listen to Him. This is the attitude of the gopis as well. They love Krishna so much that He is powerless against them. Even if He tells them to stop loving Him, they won’t. You and I should have the same determination.

In Closing:

Trouble lately holy names to chant,

To get the proper motivation I can’t.


Secret is there in how to proceed,

So that one day finally to succeed?


In the spiritual master have full trust,

Even if incapable, to continue a must.


From Lakshmana in Ramayana verse find,

That to stay devoted no matter how much time.