Saturday, February 11, 2017

Four Reasons Even Unlimited Gold Doesn’t Compare To Krishna

[Krishna receiving the Syamantaka jewel]“In the Shrimad-Bhagavatam it is said that anyone who hears the story of the Syamantaka jewel or describes it or simply remembers it will be free from all kinds of defamation and the reactions of all impious activities and thus will attain the highest perfectional condition of peace.” (Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 2, Ch 2)

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Imagine this situation. You live next to an ATM machine. Obviously, it dispenses cash to those who have a bank account. After swiping the card and entering in the corresponding PIN number, a series of prompts asks how much money will be withdrawn. You can’t withdraw more money than you have in your account.

In this case, let’s say that the machine dispenses unlimited cash. Just for you; not for anyone else. There is no account needed. You won’t get in trouble, either. In this make believe situation, you can withdraw as much money as you want, whenever you need it.

Now that the hypothetical is established, what would the result be? Would you find happiness? Imagine also that there is no effect on inflation. The price of goods won’t rise as a result of your having an unlimited cash flow.

We can look to the Shrimad Bhagavatam for answers. Also known as the Bhagavata Purana, it is the ripened fruit of Vedic literature. It is sufficient for resolving any issue, but especially those that go beyond birth and death. The soul is what gives life; it is the spark of energy necessary for an otherwise dull and lifeless body to function.

Within the Bhagavatam is the story of the Syamantaka jewel. Interestingly, the description of this historical incident is almost one hundred percent analogous to the situation of having unlimited cash. There were tangible results to having the jewel, and there was something much more valuable around as well: Shri Krishna.

1. The luster of all the gold in the world is defeated by Shri Krishna

The Syamantaka jewel was a gift from the sun-god to the king named Satrajit. Though a king, he lived within the jurisdiction of Dvaraka, which had Shri Krishna as the acknowledged leader. Satrajit worshiped and pleased the sun-god, and so he was rewarded with this amazing jewel. The Syamantaka could produce a huge amount of gold each day.

Satrajit was so taken by the jewel that he carried it with him through the city. People mistook him for the sun-god. Pure gold has an amazing luster, but actually it is nothing in comparison to the Supreme Lord. The spiritual effulgence known as Brahman is actually the light emanating from the amazingly large and transcendental body of Shri Krishna. The individual spirit souls are part of the Brahman light, and so Krishna is automatically the sum total of everything spiritual and more. As He says in the Bhagavad-gita, in His realm there is no need for external lighting.

“That abode of Mine is not illumined by the sun or moon, nor by electricity. One who reaches it never returns to this material world.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 15.6)

2. Gold brings false pride

Just imagine. Satrajit had God Himself living nearby. There was no need to get distracted. Krishna is the greatest order supplier. He creates the universes effortlessly through His expansion of Narayana, who is also known as Vishnu. Narayana simply lies down. When He exhales, everything manifests. The “everything” includes the many universes, the component planets, and the population of creatures within. When Vishnu exhales, everything that was created gets annihilated.

Satrajit became falsely proud due to the Syamantaka jewel. He established a temple for the worship of the jewel. This led to the huge amounts of gold produced newly each day. It was like having the ATM dispensing unlimited cash. Through acquiring such wealth a person easily forgets the temporary nature of life. What gets created must eventually be destroyed. The false pride known as ahankara only becomes purified through identifying oneself as servant of Shri Krishna, purely and without motive. Krishna can be served in many other forms as well, such as Vishnu, Rama and Narasimha. Even respect for the impersonal energy known as Brahman goes a long way towards purifying the consciousness.

3. Gold brings increased danger

There is the ahankara issue, and that in itself leads to rebirth. But even while having the Syamantaka jewel there was so much danger. The jewel became something like a hot potato, with so much envy and jealousy around him. Satrajit’s brother took it with him once and was then killed by a lion. Jambavan killed the lion and took the jewel.

Rumors then circulated that Krishna was jealous of Satrajit and had made a plot to take the jewel from him. To fix the situation, Krishna went out looking for it. He defeated Jambavan in a wrestling match, getting the jewel back and then returning it to Satrajit. Later on a bad character came and killed Satrajit in the middle of the night to take the jewel. That character ran away, giving the jewel to Akrura right before he fled. Krishna killed the bad character and eventually proved to everyone that Akrura now possessed it.

Material existence is built on kama, which is sense gratification. Uncontrolled it turns into lust, and when there is too much lust there is loss of intelligence. That is why so many bad things happened with the amazing amount of gold possessed by the worshipers of the jewel.

4. Krishna protects His devotees

The same danger is absent when there is intimate association with the Supreme Lord. Satrajit and others had the choice available. They didn’t have to go far. They could either worship the jewel or worship Krishna. The attachment to the gold was so strong that people went as far as to tarnish the reputation of Krishna Himself.

[Krishna receiving the Syamantaka jewel]The Lord protects His devotees. He fixed the situation with the Syamantaka jewel. In the Bhagavatam a blessing is granted to anyone who hears the story. They are protected from defamation. Of course the larger benefit is increased consciousness of the all-attractive one. He possesses a level of greatness with no possible equivalent in gold or other valuable items.

In Closing:

What if possessing amount untold,

Like open ATM, so much in gold.


From there happiness to see?

Actually more miserable to be.


Example of Syamantaka take,

How soon a hot potato to make.


Krishna having luster beyond measure,

Gold like dust in face of that treasure.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Five Lessons From The Syamantaka Jewel Story

[Krishna as king of Dvaraka]"Materialistic persons who can achieve such huge quantities of gold every day are not interested in Krishna consciousness. Sometimes, therefore, in order to show special favor, Krishna takes away great accumulations of materialistic wealth from a person and thus makes him a great devotee. But Satrajit refused to abide by the order of Krishna and did not deliver the jewel to Him." (Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 2, Ch 1)

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Like a hot potato, bouncing from one person to another, changing possession constantly. It was supposed to bring auspiciousness, immunity from disease and pestilence, but there was actually trouble for everyone involved. An intricate story almost requiring a map of the characters and the various stages of ownership to keep track, the Syamantaka jewel affair described in the Shrimad Bhagavatam teaches many valuable lessons about both material and spiritual life.

1. Demigod worship is attractive

The vast dominion of Dvaraka had Shri Krishna at the center. Since He was the acknowledged life of the city of gates, Krishna was also known as Dvarakadisha. He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the detail behind the otherwise abstract picture of God. The people of Dvaraka loved Him purely, and though they were pretty sure He was God Himself, they nevertheless thought of Krishna as the most important person in their lives.

Yet demigod worship is always attractive. There was another king within the Dvaraka jurisdiction named Satrajit. He was a great worshiper of the sun-god. Being pleased with the worship, his deity granted Satrajit an amazing jewel known as Syamantaka. Satrajit one time wore that jewel as he entered Dvaraka, and due to the effulgence people mistook him for the sun-god.

Even in a place where Krishna was presiding over as protector, there was interest in demigod worship. The Syamantaka jewel could produce an amazing amount of gold on a daily basis. Gold is a material element, after all, not really different from the temporary body that must be given up at some point. Still, the allure of material life remains. It’s so powerful that it can quickly take a person away from the righteous path.

2. It is easy to turn away from God

Satrajit established a temple. What was the focus of worship? Was it a high personality? Was it the creator of the universe? Actually, the temple was for the jewel. Satrajit established the temple and set up daily worship by qualified priests. The motive was not pure, however. There was an expected benefit. Satrajit enjoyed the huge amounts of gold produced by the worship.

Simply worshiping the king of Dvaraka would have proved a much more valuable use of time. A person worships God and gets rid of impurities. Instead of feverishly pursuing money, fame, and wealth, wouldn’t it be better to have peace and calm, without any desire for such things that cause trouble? Gold had taken hold of Satrajit’s intelligence.

3. Material amenities don’t lead to happiness

What if you were promised to have all your needs taken care of? No requirement to work. Food, clothing, shelter - everything necessary in abundant supply. Would you be happy as a result?

We can look to the Syamantaka jewel story for the answer. It produced so much gold, and there was the added benediction of lack of inauspicious bodily conditions. Still, there was no happiness. This is because no amount of material accumulation is enough. One person has so much gold, and another person wants the same. Kama, or lust, turned into krodha, or wrath, is the all-devouring enemy of this world, as confirmed by Krishna in the Bhagavad-gita.

“The Blessed Lord said: It is lust only, Arjuna, which is born of contact with the material modes of passion and later transformed into wrath, and which is the all-devouring, sinful enemy of this world.” (Bhagavad-gita, 3.37)

4. Too much gold leads to trouble

The Syamantaka jewel was the beginning of trouble, and for so many people. Satrajit’s brother one day decided to travel with the jewel. While in the forest area, he was killed by a lion. Jambavan, the great devotee of Shri Rama in a bear’s body, saw the jewel and battled the lion for it. Emerging victorious, Jambavan handed the jewel over to his small boy.

When Satrajit’s brother did not return, there was concern. Satrajit thought that maybe Krishna was jealous of the jewel and wanted it for Himself. To get rid of the rumors, Krishna went with some people from the town to find out what happened. Krishna eventually went inside of a cave where Jambavan lived. The two engaged in fighting for many days, until Jambavan finally realized that Krishna was the same Shri Rama. Jambavan was part of the army of monkeys who helped Rama build a bridge to Lanka to rescue the Lord’s wife Sita.

Jambavan happily gave Krishna the jewel. He also asked Krishna to take his daughter Jambavati in marriage. Krishna returned to Dvaraka with the jewel and a new wife. Satrajit was embarrassed by the whole affair, but he got the jewel back. Krishna did not want it, and Satrajit didn’t really want to part with it. Satrajit did give away his beautiful daughter Satyabhama to be married to Krishna.

[Krishna as king of Dvaraka]Of course the troubles didn’t end there. There were still rivalries. There were some scores to be settled. A conspiracy emerged to get the jewel from Satrajit. A man named Shatadhanva did the unspeakable. He broke into Satrajit’s home at night and killed the father of Satyabhama while he was asleep. Krishna and His older brother Balarama were away on a trip at the time.

So afraid of the repercussions, Shatadhanva decided it was best not to keep the Syamantaka jewel. He handed it over to Akrura, who is Krishna’s uncle. Shatadhanva then fled the town. When Krishna returned and learned what happened, He chased after Shatadhanva. He finally caught him and killed him with His sudarshana-chakra, the disc weapon. Yet the jewel was not found on Shatadhanva.

When Krishna came back from the chase, he summoned Akrura. People could tell with the increased wealth in gold that Akrura likely had the jewel. Akrura showed the jewel to Krishna, and the matter was settled once and for all. All because of gold, so many false rumors were spread. Pride, vanity, vengeance – just for gold.

5. No one’s reputation is safe in this world

Goswami Tulsidas references the Syamantaka jewel in his Dohavali. The poet says that no one’s reputation is safe in this world, for even Sita and Krishna were defamed. Sita is the wife of Shri Rama. She is the most chaste lady, but after being kidnapped by Ravana some people in Ayodhya thought that maybe her chastity was violated as a result. Though she passed the fire test after being rescued by Rama, there was still doubt in some people’s minds.

Krishna was the acknowledged leader of Dvaraka, and yet due to gold His character was doubted for a brief period. Of course Sita and Krishna are above the material world; nothing can touch them. The incidents teach the valuable lesson that even the greatest personalities can suffer damage to their reputation. The material world is such that jealousy, envy and insecurity of emotion take away the intelligence of even the wisest men. The best course is to always be devoted to God the person, who maintains the devotion of His devotees.

In Closing:

Kama over intelligence a hold,

All for just a little gold.


Syamantaka jewel to king coming,

After pleased with him sun-god becoming.


Troubles starting from there,

Soon jewel gone, not known to where.


Even with leader of Dvaraka suspicion,

Fixed when to Akrura requisition.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

What Are Modern Leaders Lacking

[Krishna and Arjuna]“Heroism, power, determination, resourcefulness, courage in battle, generosity, and leadership are the qualities of work for the kshatriyas.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 18.43)

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Friend1: What is the one thing you would say today’s leaders are lacking?

Friend2: Leaders in society or those officially in charge of the government, of overseeing everything and everyone?

Friend1: Oh, that’s a good question. Let’s just stick with the government. They are the official leaders. They are the acknowledged caretakers of the people.

Friend2: Hmm, that doesn’t make things any easier. You could say “honesty.”

Friend1: That’s true. It’s practically impossible to find an honest politician.

Friend2: An honest politician is a losing politician. They all have to lie to some degree.

Friend1: What else is lacking?

Friend2: Courage.

Friend1: Really? You think these leaders aren’t brave enough.

Friend2: By the way, I’m getting this list from the Bhagavad-gita, where Shri Krishna talks about the qualities of the kshatriya. These qualities are part of their nature.

Friend1: So a person is born a kshatriya? They can’t become one.

Friend2: If the qualities aren’t there to begin with, no amount of training will suffice. You can try to teach me to jump higher, to increase my hang time, but I’ll still never be able to dunk a basketball.

Friend1: So the kshatriya race is entirely hereditary?

Friend2: Not necessarily. There is the training period from the guru, or spiritual master. They are able to tell if a person is fit for a specific occupation.

Friend1: I see. So the kshatriyas are important because they should rule.

Friend2: They have the qualities to make good administrators. I don’t believe honesty is one of the qualities listed, but you would think that is important for any person. Heroism and courage are vital, though.

Friend1: So why are today’s leaders lacking these qualities? No one is training them?

Friend2: A lot of it has to do with the system. You’ve heard me ask this before, but what is the definition of success in the modern day style of government?

Friend1: Oh, I know this one. Swaying public opinion.

Friend2: Exactly. Honesty, courage and heroism don’t take you very far in that. In fact, dishonesty and timidity will help. You can stay in office for years and years with these two qualities.

Friend1: But why? Isn’t democracy a safeguard against tyrannical rule by a single person?

Friend2: It is, but let’s go through an example to see how this works. You know about the deficit, right?

Friend1: I think so. I always get that confused with the debt.

Friend2: The deficit is the amount of money borrowed by the government for a fiscal year. The debt is the total of all deficits, the amount of money owed by the government to the investors.

Friend1: Right. It seems like every election cycle people complain about the debt being out of control.

Friend2: There is a reason it continues to grow. The example here took place some twenty years ago, but the principle is basically the same each year. Do you know about the current services budget?

Friend1: Nope.

Friend2: It’s also known as baseline budgeting. Basically, it’s a way to have built in increases to various spending programs. This one year the control of Congress changed. The new party in charge was trying to be courageous and tackle the deficit and debt problems. One thing they targeted early on was the school lunch program.

Friend1: Is that where the government provides free lunches to less affluent children?

Friend2: Free or reduced cost. Yes. So the party in charge of the new Congress decided to simply curb the growth of the program. Instead of an increase of two percent in the following year, the increase went down to one percent. My numbers aren’t completely accurate, but the idea is the same. The program’s expenditures were increasing.

Friend1: Okay.

[ketchup bottle]Friend2: So the opposition party went nuts. They called press conferences, where their members brought ketchup bottles.

Friend1: You’re not serious?

Friend2: Absolutely. I’ll never forget it. They accused the majority party of wanting to starve children.

Friend1: But the proposal was just to reduce the rate of increase?

Friend2: Ah, but remember about success in a democracy. The key is to sway public opinion. Who out there is going to take the time to listen to an explanation of baseline budgeting? They hear the accusation and that’s it.

Friend1: That’s crazy.

Friend2: Right there is an example of where you get punished for courage. Basically, every major political party is like this. You can’t blame the opposition for choosing that line of argument. Politics is a blood sport, after all.

Friend1: I understand.

Friend2: The deficit grows precisely because the easy way to stay popular is to keep spending money. Don’t worry about whether the government has enough. Just borrow. Push the problem along to a future generation. Kick the can down the road.

Friend1: What about raising taxes?

Friend2: Yes, that is the other gutless choice. Find a group of people that no one will have sympathy for. The rich. Increase their taxes. Of course, that never solves the problem. Taxes are high, and so people have less incentive to earn income. There is less commerce. This leaves the government to raise taxes even more, targeting other unpopular groups, like smokers.

Friend1: Don’t the Vedas say something about taxes being especially high in Kali Yuga?

Friend2: They do. They predicted everything that is happening. Anyway, in a sense there is no reason to be angry with the leaders. They are simply working with the system that exists. They are playing to win, after all. But yeah, if you want a true leader who gets things done, they have to be courageous. They can’t be afraid of the changing tides of public opinion. The right choice isn’t always the most popular.

Friend1: Do you have examples of real kshatriyas doing things that were courageous?

Friend2: Look at Arjuna. He was the recipient of the teachings on the four varnas and ashramas by Shri Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The easy way out for Arjuna was to give up the fight, to quit and retreat for the forest.

Friend1: But that’s not what Krishna wanted him to do.

[Krishna and Arjuna]Friend2: It was Arjuna’s duty to uphold justice, dharma. He could have punted, but enough was enough. He showed courage by following a path where the outcome is never certain: war. He was successful because he was a strong leader, whose strength was sourced in confidence in the guiding hand of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. That is the way to make any occupation perfect. Do your duty, don’t be attached to the results, and always remain conscious of God the person. He will sort out the rest.

In Closing:

Politician today the best,

Is who can lie better than the rest.


Honesty certainly not encouraged,

Strength of conviction also discouraged.


Leaders to kick the can down the road,

Like with how much in debt is owed.


Arjuna example of kshatriya real,

Followed dharma, not by what to feel.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Five Articles Associated With Hanuman

[Shri Hanuman]“Covered with flowers, Hanuman, the son of the wind, became brilliant in the middle of the Ashoka grove, looking like a mountain of flowers.” (Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 14.11)

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The devotee is a symbol of sacrifice. They set the best example for others to follow. As devotion is within the very core of every individual’s being, its exercise isn’t uniform. Some like to repeat sacred sound vibrations. They can be found always chanting the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. Others prefer to meditate. They start at the lotus feet of the transcendental body of the Personality of Godhead and work their way up.

Consciousness is the key. In whatever way a person remains conscious of the Supreme Being, looking after His pleasure first, they sacrifice material pleasure for a higher gain. There is the famous Shri Hanuman, featured prominently in the Ramayana. The paraphernalia on his body, as depicted in different scenes from his activities, gives an idea of how amazing a devotee he is.

1. The tilaka mark on the forehead

God the person has lotus-like features. You can start with the navel. From the lotus-like navel springs a stem and a flower, from which the creator Lord Brahma takes birth. God also has lotus-like eyes and hands. His feet are the servants of His transcendental body, and they are also lotus-like.

The tilaka mark on the forehead of Shri Hanuman indicates that he is a servant of Hari, which is one name for God. The mark represents the lotus feet, and placed on the forehead it is a reminder that the body is like a temple, where everything is dedicated for the Lord’s pleasure. Hanuman serves God specifically in His transcendental form of Shri Rama, the prince of Ayodhya.

2. Armlets and other jewels

Shri Hanuman is in an unusual form for someone who worships constantly. He is also a hari, which can mean “monkey.” The Sanskrit word most typically used for that body type is Vanara, which is a specific race of creature living in the forest. The Vanaras from the Ramayana time were advanced in the sense that they could speak and organize in civilized society to some degree.

Despite being a monkey, Hanuman is extremely beautiful. The necklace, armlet, and other ornaments on his body serve to further enhance the image. His inner beauty is just as great as his outer. On the inside he is fully devoted to Shri Rama and His wife Sita, who is the goddess of fortune. The ornaments are befitting someone of his stature.

3. The club in his hand

Hanuman chants the holy names. He sometimes meditates. He worships the lotus feet. But he is not strictly nonviolent. If called upon, Hanuman will fight aggressors, bad characters who are against God at their core. In the Ramayana, we read of Rakshasas, who are also known as nishacharas. They range the night, ready to pounce on the innocent sages. They don’t stop with a lethal blow. They consume the resultant human flesh afterwards.

Hanuman doesn’t need much to fight against the ogres emanating from Lanka. His club is sufficient. With it, he strikes fear and pain into the chest of the enemy. Hanuman is essentially undefeated in battle. One time he was bound by the weapon hurled by Indrajit, but the defeat was intentional. Hanuman wanted a meeting with Ravana, the king of Lanka and father of Indrajit. Ravana had taken Sita away in secret, and Hanuman wanted to get further information about the king and his powers before reporting back to Rama.

4. The mountain in his hand

Hanuman is like a minister. He works for Sugriva, the king of the Vanaras in Kishkindha. When Rama formed an alliance with Sugriva, Hanuman became the Lord’s minister as well. He gathered valuable intelligence by travelling to Lanka and then returning to home base. Blessed with that vital information, Rama and the entire Vanara army marched to Lanka to win Sita back.

In the ensuing conflict, Rama’s younger brother Lakshmana was struck mightily by a weapon hurled by the Rakshasas. Hanuman was instructed to visit a hill and find a specific medicinal herb. Hanuman had trouble locating the herb, and in fear of losing time he decided to uproot the entire mountain. He brought it back with him to save Lakshmana. Hanuman can do things like this because he has amazing strength.

5. The victory garland of flowers around his neck

In pictures we see Hanuman wearing a garland of flowers. He is most deserving of this honor, which symbolizes his victory in service to Rama. Even during his service one time flowers fell on him serendipitously, as he was searching for Sita in the Ashoka grove in Lanka.

Knowing the true nature of devotion, or bhakti, Hanuman’s service never stops. He does not simply walk around with his garland of flowers, reliving the glory days in his head. He continues to remember and serve.

[Shri Hanuman]Rama offered Hanuman any boon of his choosing. The great warrior asked to remain in this world for as long as Rama’s glories continue to be told. In the same manner, as long as Hanuman is here, he is the beneficiary of praise and honor from those who wish to never forget him.

In Closing:

Hanuman most blessed picture to be,

Various items on him to see.


Like club carrying in hand,

Used when fighting in Lanka land.


Sacred tilaka mark on head,

Symbol that by bhakti led.


Flowers garland in service victorious,

Continuing on, Rama’s servant most glorious.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

What Is The Difference Between Gross and Subtle Body

[Krishna's lotus feet]“One can experience the distinction between the subtle and gross bodies even daily; in a dream, one's gross body is lying on the bed while the subtle body carries the soul, the living entity, to another atmosphere. But because the gross body has to be continued, the subtle body comes back and settles in the present gross body. Therefore one has to become free from the subtle body also. This freedom is known as mukta-linga.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 4.12.18 Purport)

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Friend1: I am not the body.

Friend2: Nor am I.

Friend1: Neither is the animal.

Friend2: Nor the plant.

Friend1: I am spirit soul.

Friend2: Aham brahmasmi.

Friend1: Brahman is the Absolute Truth. It lives forever. For the soul there is no birth.

Friend2: Nor having once been, does he ever cease to be. [Bg 2.20]

Friend1: Now that we’ve established the foundational truth of the spiritual science, coming from the Vedas, what is the body?

Friend2: What do you mean?

Friend1: Well, I am not the body. I am spirit soul. We’ve agreed on that.

Friend2: Yes.

Friend1: What is the body, then? I am not it; I understand that. What is it, though?

Friend2: Oh, that’s an easy one. Shri Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, addresses this in the Bhagavad-gita.

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

Friend1: I definitely knew that, but I totally forgot there was a verse giving the exact details. Okay, I’ve heard about gross and subtle bodies. What is the difference?

Friend2: The first five in the list are the gross elements. They are things that you can see.

Friend1: You can see air? Ether?

Friend2: Sorry, I should have said “perceive.” We know it is windy outside based on the movement of flags and trees. There is no way to actually see wind. That is a limitation of the eyes.

Friend1: So the last three things listed are the subtle elements?

Friend2: Right. They are inside the body. The gross elements come in different proportions and combinations.

Friend1: Up to 8,400,000, right?

Friend2: Exactly. People who know this aren’t so enamored by alien life or dinosaurs. They understand that the gross elements can be combined in such a way that amazing bodies result.

Friend1: What is death? Is that where the individual leaves the body behind?

Friend2: The gross body. The covering to the subtle body. Mind, intelligence and false ego are not perceptible; they are inside the gross covering. Again, we know they exist based on the influence they have.

Friend1: Is the subtle body left behind as well?

Friend2: That is a great question. The relationship to the subtle body is the dividing line between reincarnation and liberation.

Friend1: How so?

Friend2: In a typical death, you leave the gross body behind, but the subtle body comes with you. Krishna compares it to the air carrying aromas.

“The living entity in the material world carries his different conceptions of life from one body to another as the air carries aromas.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 15.8)

This travel of the subtle body is what explains the different tendencies in man. You see how some kids are smarter than others. Some children are quicker to pick up talking, while others are better at building things. Even in the animal community, we see that certain newborns can do things as soon as they take birth. That natural intelligence is there from the subtle body.

Friend1: I see. So what is liberation?

[Shrila Prabhupada]Friend2: It’s giving up both gross and subtle bodies. His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada says that freedom from the subtle body is known as mukta-linga. Oh, I should mention that there is a way right now to know the difference between gross and subtle bodies.

Friend1: What’s that?

Friend2: Sleeping. You escape from the gross body. Certain things like feeling, seeing and hearing are diminished. But since there is still attachment to the subtle body, you eventually return to the gross body.

Friend1: Interesting.

[Krishna's lotus feet]Friend2: Anyway, know that the spirit soul has nothing to do with these elements, which are material. In the spiritual world, there is a different kind of form, known as the svarupa. The present body can be transformed even before death, through practicing devotion and becoming self-realized. That’s why the teachers in the line coming from Krishna always place full emphasis on being devoted, chanting the holy names, and avoiding sinful behavior. They want everyone to become mukta-linga and beyond.

In Closing:

Gross elements those we can perceive,

From subtle things like knowledge to receive.


Still the soul remaining apart,

Subtle accompanying when life to depart.


Previous body left behind,

New by consciousness defined.


Mukta-linga for wise the goal,

Easy when bhakti the interest sole.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Five Ways Devotees Teach Us About God

[Shri Hanuman]“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)

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Parampara. Disciplic succession. The only way to know that which is beyond comprehension is through this link. Consult someone in the chain that traces back to the original person. Mental speculation can only take you so far. You can figure out that life ends in death. You can see the constant fluctuation in happiness and sadness, coming and going as if they were seasons. You can figure out that everyone is the same on the inside, that they are struggling in this existence.

But only the spiritual master, the guru, can take you further. The Vedas describe God with so many terms that are negations. This makes sense. Everything we know is limiting. God is automatically the opposite of that. Man is fallible. Therefore God is infallible. Man is prone to death. God lives forever. Man has a beginning, namely the time of birth. God is without beginning.

The guru provides this instruction through words, but just as much is learned about God from behavior. The guru is a servant, after all; a devotee. The devotees have so many wonderful qualities that are rooted in their unwavering respect, appreciation and service connected to the author of all things.

1. Amazing in their kindness

“The person I detest the most just won the presidential election. I am not happy. Not only am I angry at the result, my emotion extends to the people I think are responsible. The voters. How could they make such a mistake? Did they not pay attention to the campaign? The moment I see someone I think is a supporter of the new president, I turn away. I want nothing to do with that person.”

This is the nature of kama, or sense gratification. If it is satisfied, I am favorable. If desire goes unmet, there is frustration. From kama I draw the line between friend and foe, like and dislike.

The devotees are above this. They are kind to everyone. Their compassion extends to the animal community as well, for they see the spirit soul within everything that is living.

“The humble sage, by virtue of true knowledge, sees with equal vision a learned and gentle brahmana, a cow, an elephant, a dog and a dog-eater [outcaste].” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 5.18)

An example of this kindness is the devotee’s outreach to people from various communities. While traditional religion is inherited from the parents, the dharma of the soul never changes. The essential characteristic of the essence of identity is identical for every single living thing. That’s why the devotees fearlessly spread the holy names to every town and village, on the strength of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, the golden avatara.

2. Amazing in their perseverance

If there is a God, He would have to be indefatigable. There is the picture of Atlas, holding the globe on his shoulders. He gets tired, after all, as such a heavy weight is a burden. The Supreme Lord has the avatara of Varaha, who arrives in a boar form and holds up the earth with its tusks. There is no strain. There is no fatigue. Shri Krishna Himself held up a massive hill for seven consecutive days, resting it on the pinky finger of His left hand.

[Shri Hanuman]Though obviously not as powerful as the Almighty, the devotees are just as perseverant in their work. They don’t get deterred by setbacks. They see pain, misery and struggle in this world, and they don’t mistakenly think that there is no God because of it. They understand the nature of karma, and how good and bad reactions are associated with work. They know that with enough attention in devotion, consciousness will change for the better. Even if success doesn’t appear likely, they continue on, in the hopes of pleasing the Supreme Lord. Shri Hanuman is an ideal example in this regard. He also once carried a mountain in his hand.

3. Amazing in their strength

Strength doesn’t have to be just physical. There is emotional and mental, as well. His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada travelled to America at the age of seventy. It was not a pleasant trip by any means. He travelled on a cargo ship. There was seasickness. There were heart attacks. The trip was made to fulfill the desire of his guru, Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura.

Once in America, things didn’t get easier. There were moments of despair. It looked like there wouldn’t be success. Tremendous strength was required to stay the course. Devotees have this strength because the Supreme Lord supplies. He helps them in their devotion.

4. Amazing in their intelligence

Shri Hanuman figured out a way past several obstacles on his journey to Lanka. He was serving the Supreme Lord in the avatara of Rama. Hanuman is an amazing devotee since he is known for many wonderful attributes. He is perseverant and strong. He is amazingly kind. He is also intelligent. While in Lanka he managed to hide himself from the enemy. He found Rama’s missing wife Sita and became her confidante, even though she was skeptical of practically everyone there. As Krishna says in the Bhagavad-gita, He is both remembrance and forgetfulness. The knowledge we have within comes from Him. The devotees are able to extract the necessary intelligence to continue forward in their devotion, even in the face of the greatest obstacles.

5. Amazing in their instruction

As mentioned before, only through disciplic succession can God be known in truth. Krishna lays out the formula in the Bhagavad-gita. He tells Arjuna that by having a mind attached to Him and following yoga in devotion, He can be known in truth, free from doubts. The devotees have this knowledge since they follow Krishna’s formula. They give the same instruction, though perhaps slightly altered to match the time and circumstance. In the present age, they vociferously recommend the chanting of the holy names for finding enlightenment: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

In Closing:

With mind attached in yoga known,

Supreme Lord, by His devotees shown.


Amazing in will to carry on,

Past failures not to dwell upon.


Of wonderful strength to behold,

Like Hanuman the mountain to hold.


To time and circumstance sagacious,

Giving wise instruction freely gracious.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

What Is Your Opinion On Trade Issues

[Lakshmana]“Unseen and indefinite are the good and bad reactions of fruitive work. And without taking action, the desired fruits of such work cannot manifest.” (Lakshmana speaking to Lord Rama, Valmiki Ramayana, Aranya Kand, 66.17)

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Friend1: You know what topic has been in the news lately?

Friend2: The election?

Friend1: Well, yeah, but I’m talking about an issue.

Friend2: The national debt. The Supreme Court.

Friend1: Trade.

Friend2: Ah, yes.

Friend1: What is your opinion on that?

Friend2: I’m not talking about politics.

Friend1: I’m not asking for an opinion on the different politicians. Pretend we are just talking about trade in the philosophical sense. What is your opinion?

Friend2: Still, it’s like a pointless exercise. What is the use? And I hope you realize this has been an issue ongoing for centuries. It leads to conflict. The wrong policy causes world wars.

Friend1: There you go. I knew I could get some opinions out of you.

Friend2: I will find a way to spiritualize it, since the fate of the soul seems to be your last concern.

Friend1: I’d just like some clarity on the issue.

Friend2: Do you know the different sides? That is the first step in forming an opinion.

Friend1: There are the protectionists.

Friend2: What does that mean? What is their stance?

Friend1: Their general stance is that free trade is bad for employment. Jobs get shipped overseas.

Friend2: Why?

Friend1: Because labor is cheaper elsewhere. The companies cut costs by moving their production to a country where the profit margin becomes higher for the product they are selling.

Friend2: And what is wrong with that?

Friend1: Everyone who is capable should work. That is healthy for society. Otherwise you have despair, desperation, and poverty. As Benjamin Franklin quoted the old proverb, “It’s difficult for an empty sack to stand up straight.”

Friend2: What is the solution of the protectionists?

Friend1: Tariffs. If a company goes overseas, when they want to sell their product back in their original country, the government slaps on a tax. This makes the product more expensive for the consumer, essentially negating the advantage of moving the production overseas.

Friend2: What is the opinion of the opposition? What are they called?

Friend1: Free traders. They start by saying that tariffs work both ways. If my country adds a tax on foreign made goods, the other countries will do the same thing. This means people making things in my country will have a difficult time exporting.

Friend2: Right. What else?

Friend1: I’m not sure I know the rest. The free traders always say that free and fair trade is good.

Friend2: It’s a philosophical principle. Let’s say the two countries are America and Japan. Free trade is individual citizens conducting commerce. If an American wants to buy something made by a Japanese person, why should the government interfere? It is none of their business. It’s really no different than a person from Texas conducting business with a person from New York. It’s people that are exchanging goods and services, voluntarily, without coercion.

Friend1: I see. What about the argument that shipping factories overseas decreases employment?

Friend2: This is one of the great illusions. There are seen and unseen consequences. The seen consequences are the factory closing and the cheaper product.

Friend1: What are the unseen consequences?

[iPhones]Friend2: You can use the smartphone as an example. The most profitable company in the world basically revolutionized the market. Their phones are manufactured outside of America. The protectionist would intervene. They would recommend a tariff in order to keep that company’s operations domestic.

Friend1: Right. The consequence would be saved jobs and a higher price for the smartphone.

Friend2: Okay, but what is unseen in the move overseas is the burgeoning market of smartphones. Because of the cheaper price, more people are able to buy smartphones. Even if it is relatively expensive to other consumer technological devices, people still decide to buy them. Now smartphones have become extremely popular, and not just the ones produced by that company.

Friend1: Okay.

Friend2: So that means a huge boom in demand for related things like accessories and software. Magazines, newspapers and blogs even make money by having so much to write about. There are thousands, if not millions, of unseen jobs created as a result of the decision to manufacture overseas.

Friend1: So you are in favor of free trade, then?

Friend2: Ideally, you’d love to have everything you need for survival produced locally. This applies especially to food and clothing, which are the most important things in a material existence for extending life. I’m not for or against, but you have to realize that it is impossible for any one person, or government for that matter, to see the big picture. Just because a factory closes doesn’t mean that there will be a net negative result. It’s not humanly possible to understand everything about something so complex as economics.

Friend1: It’s in God’s hands.

[Lakshmana]Friend2: Exactly. There is a quote from Lakshmana that I really like. He one time told Shri Rama, his elder brother, that the results to action are unseen and indefinite. Basically, in karma you’re not really sure what all the results are. You have no way of knowing when they’ll manifest, either.

Friend1: The consequences can come in a future lifetime, right?

Friend2: Exactly. You also can’t get a result without action. Even if good fortune comes my way, I should know that the cause is some sukriti, or meritorious credits, earned previously. Just because I don’t remember the good deed doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.

Friend1: But how should we act? What is the proper way to get good results?

Friend2: Krishna consciousness. Bhakti-yoga. Be conscious of the Supreme Lord. Always think of Him. That is the best positive action. Since it is physical work, it is karma. But when the consciousness changes from focus on personal desire to sole interest on God’s pleasure, the karma turns into bhakti. In bhakti you can be doing anything and stay on the right path. The gopis of Vrindavana engaged in trade. They sold their excess milk products to the neighboring town of Mathura. The king of that town was a bad guy, but there was still commerce going on. The devotee is not so interested in political issues relating to economics and the like. They are satisfied in the self, since they know the self is intimately connected with the Supreme Self.

In Closing:

Company overseas to gain upper hand,

Free trade principle, where to stand?


Not of primary concern for the wise,

Since for spiritual benefit he tries.


Gopis in Mathura their products sold,

Where king of many offenses untold.


Good credit only from good deeds to earn,

For bhaktas Lord’s pleasure the lone concern.