Saturday, February 25, 2017

Three Reasons Under The Govardhana Umbrella Is The Safest Place To Be

[Govardhana umbrella]“O sober Vidura, King Indra, his honor having been insulted, poured water incessantly on Vrindavana, and thus the inhabitants of Vraja, the land of cows, were greatly distressed. But the compassionate Lord Krishna saved them from danger with His pastime umbrella, the Govardhana Hill.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 3.2.33)

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From the highest planet in the material world down to the lowest, there is birth and death. Beginning and end. New life and then the exit for a subsequent birth. The hellish region represents the lower planetary system. The highest place is Lord Brahma’s abode. He lives for an inconceivably long time. A person who knows the length of his day has an actual grasp of time, which is known as kala in Sanskrit.

“By human calculation, a thousand ages taken together is the duration of Brahma's one day. And such also is the duration of his night.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 8.17)

As there is birth and death in the material world, no place can be completely safe. If the end must come eventually, something must effect that end. Yet there is one exception. There is full safety in the shelter of the Divine. The shelter can be subtle, coming through consciousness. For this reason the acharyas of the Vaishnava tradition put so much emphasis on the constant chanting of the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

The shelter can be physical as well, and appearing in this world. One of the most vivid examples is the lifting of Govardhana Hill. A massive structure of land, still manifest in this world and requiring hours by foot to circumambulate, this sacred hill was once resting on the pinky finger of the left hand of an attractive youth of bluish complexion. In that position, the hill acted as an umbrella and the people underneath were in the safest place in the world.

1. Protection from adhidaivika miseries

The material world is like a fort with high walls that are almost impossible to scale. Those walls are paid for by the desires of the residents behind them. As long as there is a desire to compete with God, to enjoy separate from Him, the walls remain. The fort of the material world is maintained by the goddess named Durga.

She carries a trident in one of her hands. The three prongs represent the three sources of misery in the material world. For the residents of Vrindavana one time, the demigod source of misery rushed towards them in a dramatic way. The people had just completed the first puja, or worship, of Govardhana Hill, done at the direction of Shri Krishna, the darling of the town and son of the king, Nanda.

The preparations for the puja were actually holdovers from a different worship. Nanda was prepared to offer tribute to the king of heaven, Indra. He is the leader in terms of bringing the adhidaivika source of misery. If Indra is pleased, then there is sufficient rainfall to allow plant life to continue.

Indra was so enraged about the neglected worship that he retaliated with a devastating rainstorm. It was such a flash flood that the residents were completely surprised. They thought everything was over, that Indra was going to be the cause of death.

[Govardhana umbrella]Krishna then lifted up the just worshiped Govardhana Hill. He advised everyone to get underneath. Some of the rocks slipped off the hill and thus formed a boundary against the rising waters. The people were safe. Indra could no longer harm them. In fact, they were safe from any misery coming from the heavens.

2. Krishna has immeasurable strength

On a rainy day I’ve taken my umbrella with me for the commute to work. As strong as the umbrella is, on this day the wind is very high. Halfway through the trip, my umbrella has inverted. It is practically useless to me now. I tried to get protection from a typical misery in this world, and that protection failed me.

Not the case with the Supreme Lord. He has immeasurable strength. Nothing was going to stop Govardhana from acting as the world’s largest and sturdiest umbrella. The people worried, for sure. How could a youth with delicate features be strong enough to even lift the hill, let alone hold it aloft for seven straight days? Yet that is precisely what He did, showing the magic of God. Krishna is a unique and distinct personality, who has transcendental features that are beyond measure. For this reason one of His names is Adhokshaja.

3. Protection against dangers within

You’re safe from the rain. The hill is going to stay up. But that doesn’t mean you are totally out of the woods. Another source of misery is adhyatmika. These come from within the body. Think physical ailments. Mental disease is there, too. Would the residents go stir crazy? Would they get homesick? Would they get cabin fever?

Man is vulnerable to these things even when outside the shelter of a massive umbrella. For the residents of Vrindavana, they were completely safe from maya, or illusion, since they were with Krishna. He was not simply another member of the group. He was central to everyone’s consciousness. There was full dependence on Him.

All the different moods of interaction with God the person were present in that situation. Mother Yashoda was worried that the strain on Krishna’s arm was too great. The friends tried to offer help. The young gopis, the cowherd girls, were thrilled to be so close to their beloved. In this way there was no chance of thinking of anything besides the Supreme Lord and devotion to Him. This is the ultimate goal of life, and the memory of the uplifted Govardhana gives a picture of what awaits the devoted soul who remains conscious of Shri Krishna.

In Closing:

Picture of what in afterlife to await,

From Govardhana as umbrella state.


Protection all miseries against,

Like even rain from heaven sent.


Held aloft for seven days length,

By young child of immeasurable strength.


No more boredom at all to see,

Since by Krishna’s side to be.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Five Of The Most Epic Falls Of All Time

[Putana falling]“O King Parikshit, when the gigantic body of Putana fell to the ground, it smashed all the trees within a limit of twelve miles. Appearing in a gigantic body, she was certainly extraordinary.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 10.6.14)

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The news media is interesting. They begin by building someone up. That someone is noteworthy for some reason. They excel in something in the public eye, like sports, entertainment, or politics. That person gets praised for their good work; at least as judged by the writers of news.

Later on, however, that same person is vilified. They messed up. They were caught cheating. Or maybe they got intoxicated one night and made disparaging remarks about a minority group. Perhaps their political leanings have been learned. Maybe they don’t like certain religions.

The same media that praised the person can’t wait to bring them down. They are quite eager to use headlines that include the phrase, “epic fail.” A meteoric rise followed by a catastrophic fall. Whatever amazing downturns we see today pale in comparison to what is described in Vedic literature. Those who were against the Supreme Personality of Godhead had some of the hardest falls from grace ever witnessed.

1. Trinavarta

This was a case of a gigantic physical fall. In Mathura a long time ago, the king was Kamsa. He was evil by nature; though at the core, at the soul level, every individual is pure bliss. When in a material realm the nature gets covered up. There is a material kind of nature accepted at the time of birth, determined by the type of gross and subtle elements that cover the soul.

Kamsa was your bad guy’s bad guy. How bad? He had already killed several infants. He threw them against a stone slab right after they emerged from the womb of his sister Devaki, whom he had imprisoned along with her husband Vasudeva.

Kamsa did this out of fear, of course. He was told previously that his sister’s eighth child would be his demise. Why take chances? Well, the eighth child slipped away, to the neighboring town of Gokula. Kamsa didn’t know exactly where to find this child, so he sent a few deputies to take care of the task.

One of them was Trinavarta. This asura, or demon-like person, had the mystic ability to transform into a giant whirlwind, something like a tornado. He went to Gokula and picked up baby Krishna, the adorable foster child of mother Yashoda and Maharaja Nanda. Krishna was actually that eighth child, born to Devaki and Vasudeva. He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Bhagavan.

Krishna is always Bhagavan, in whatever form He manifests. Trinavarta did not know this. He took the child, who was light in comparison, and went high in the sky. Suddenly, Krishna showed that He can be both heavier than the heaviest and lighter than the lightest. He became so heavy that Trinavarta could no longer hold Him. The demon fell from high in the sky and hit the ground. Baby Krishna survived, while Trinavarta did not.

2. Putana

This is another physical fall. Putana was a witch-like lady sent to Gokula by Kamsa. She was known for killing newborn children. She masked her form and managed to enter the area where baby Krishna was lying. She was ready to feed Him milk from her breast that had been smeared with poison.

[Putana falling]To her surprise, nothing happened to Krishna. He started to suck so hard on the breast that the witch revealed her true, hideous and gigantic form. Finally, the life was sucked out of her and her massive body fell to the ground, making a very loud sound. Krishna was then found playfully crawling on that body, unharmed.

3. Kamsa

He was the king of Mathura. People listened to him. He could send wicked characters to neighboring towns to get his work done. He could imprison innocent people. He was at the height of power. All of that came crashing down. Krishna eventually went to Mathura and took care of His uncle. Invited to a wrestling match, Krishna and His brother Balarama defeated their opponents. Then Krishna went to where Kamsa was sitting and killed the king with a single punch, ending his reign of terror.

4. Hiranyakashipu

This was another great king described in Vedic literature. He was so powerful that even the residents of the heavenly realm feared him. From boons granted by Lord Brahma, Hiranyakashipu was immune from all sorts of attacks and death at different situations. He thought he was immune enough to be immortal. But just one percent vulnerability is enough to be exploited by the intelligent mind of the Supreme Lord. God arrived on the scene in a special half-man/half-lion form to both protect the five year old devotee Prahlada and take care of the boy’s demoniac father, Hiranyakashipu.

5. Ravana

Infamous from the Ramayana poem of Maharishi Valmiki, Ravana was the king of the Rakshasas. He lived on the island of Lanka, where he had so many beautiful queens. Wine flowed and meat was available in abundance. Sex, intoxication and every kind of food. The people should have been happy, no? Isn’t Ravana’s situation the goal for every materialist?

Kama, or sense gratification, never leads to lasting happiness. When it goes completely unchecked, there is wrath followed by loss of intelligence. Ravana’s demise started when he decided to steal another man’s wife, in secret. Ravana could have fought for her fairly, as he had tremendous physical strength. He had scared away so many kings already.

Sita was Rama’s wife, and she refused all of Ravana’s advances. She warned him that death was indeed coming for him, since he was acting in ways that invited death. Sure enough, Sita’s husband Rama would arrive and deliver arrows to make Ravana fall to the ground for good. The king of Lanka previously had everything. He was on top of the world. But due to offending a devotee of the Supreme Lord, he had likely the most epic fall of all time.

In Closing:

Against her wishes to Lanka to haul,

In end to have most epic of fall.


For Hiranyakashipu fate the same,

Offended son of Prahlada the name.


Trinavarta to kill Krishna to try,

Crashed to ground from up on high.


Putana gigantic body showing,

So everyone her true nature knowing.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Five Everyday Activities Made Favorable For Bhakti

[Valmiki writing and teaching]“You have a right to perform your prescribed duty, but you are not entitled to the fruits of action. Never consider yourself to be the cause of the results of your activities, and never be attached to not doing your duty.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.47)

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You don’t have to change your occupation. You don’t have to run off to a forest. You are not compelled to shave your head and join a religious institution. Bhakti is at the very core of the soul, which is the essence of identity. Devotion to God the person is the original condition, and in material life that fact is forgotten. While a conversion in mentality is necessary, a wholesale change of behavior isn’t an absolute requirement. A simple change in nature of everyday activities, from unfavorable to favorable, can do wonders.

1. Working

Does anyone really like to work? There is the saying that if you love what you do, you never work a day in your life. Nevertheless, work is responsibility. Responsibility is burden. Burden is troublesome. Pressure can be detrimental to the health, both mental and physical.

According to Vedic philosophy, work, which goes by the term karma, leads to attachments. For starters, there is the influence of the false ego, ahankara, which makes me think that I am the doer in actions. I certainly make the decision to act, but the results manifest according to the will of nature.

“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)

Karma brings consequences, known as phala in Sanskrit. These are fruits. Like sowing the seed and waiting for the plant to arise, everything we do has a future consequence. More specifically, karma develops a future body for the spirit soul, which is supposed to be body-less in the original condition.

Work is made favorable when attachment to the fruits is renounced. There is a specific verse in the Bhagavad-gita touching upon this. The disciple Arjuna is advised to continue in his occupation of warrior, but to work without attachment to the outcome. The easiest way to change the nature of work is to dovetail everything for the interest of the Supreme Lord. Then the karma morphs into bhakti.

2. Reading

Most everyone who can read does so on a regular basis. It doesn’t have to be romance novels or a historical epic. It doesn’t have to be magazines or the daily newspaper, either. Just pull up the smartphone and you are immediately reading. Characters represent a sort of code to create sound vibrations in the mind. The reader deciphers these codes and is able to receive messages as a result.

Reading is made favorable when it is joined with information about the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Bhagavan. Since He is an individual with a separate and unique identity, there is so much to know about Him. It is said that the Vedas, the original scriptural tradition of the world, continue to expand because there is never an end to the glories of God. What one person has written is never sufficient for describing the greatness of the different aspects of the all-attractive one.

3. Singing

“That darn song is stuck in my head. Thanks to my wife, who kept playing it over and over, I can’t get it out of my head. I don’t even like the song. Now I find myself singing it in the shower. I’d rather sing one of the songs that I like.”

The best way to purify this everyday activity is to sing about the glories of God. Not really sure what things to sing about? Just chant His names. The names are conveniently placed in a wonderful sequence in the maha-mantra, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.”

Make a test of it. Try singing this mantra in one of the many already available melodies. Singing this over and over has a different effect than hearing any mundane song on repeat. The magic lies in the potency of the name itself, which is non-different from the person it represents.

4. Writing

The news media is nothing more than a toggle, an up/down switch. They take a famous person, who is important either for their entertainment value or the influence they wield over others, and then either praise them or disparage them. Sometimes the same person gets both sides in the course of a lifetime. First they are praised for their charitable work and their success in competition. Then later it is discovered that they cheated. Now the same person who was built up by the news media is torn to shreds. No apologies are forthcoming from the people who raised that celebrity to the highest status in the first place. There is no shame in now turning around and reversing the opinion.

[Valmiki writing and teaching]Writing is purified when it is done in favor of the Supreme Lord. There is so much good to write about. In the devotional mood, bhakti, even criticism is a way to become closer to God. In the Shrimad Bhagavatam there are many passages of devoted souls laying into the Supreme Lord, making fun of Him and criticizing His behavior. Since they are devoted at heart, God enjoys these words more than the praises sung by the Vedas.

5. Eating

There is a way to eat karma-free. Eating is action, after all. There is both preparation and consumption. Like sleeping, eating should be done in moderation. Too much or too little is harmful. There is a mindset that goes into the eating of food, where desire determines the nature and the result.

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

In the Bhagavad-gita Shri Krishna says that if a person offers Him something simple like a leaf or a flower, He accepts. The key is the mood. There must be bhakti, or devotion. Krishna eats in an interesting way. He glances over the offering and then returns it. The remnants are known as prasadam, or the Lord’s mercy. The devotees are saved from so many sinful reactions because they honor these remnants.

“The devotees of the Lord are released from all kinds of sins because they eat food which is offered first for sacrifice. Others, who prepare food for personal sense enjoyment, verily eat only sin.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 3.13)

Preparing food for sense enjoyment is sinful in the sense that it creates karma for a future body. The perfection of consciousness remains in the distance.

In this way we see that to change from material to spiritual in consciousness is not that difficult. Just shifting the nature of activities we already engage in does the trick. The change brings the greatest benefit of continued consciousness of the Supreme Lord, who is the savior of the surrendered souls.

In Closing:

Do work, but consciousness alter,

Responsibility to others defer.


Things that already accustomed to do,

Like eating, singing, even writing too.


About the Supreme Lord just make,

And benefit of karma’s dismissal take.


To leave for forest not required,

Just by bhakti’s love be inspired.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Four Reasons To Worship Shri And Vishnu Together

[Lakshmi-Narayana]“People in the material world are very fond of the goddess of fortune, and they want her favor in the form of riches. They should know, however, that the goddess of fortune is inseparable from Lord Vishnu. Materialists should understand that the goddess of fortune should be worshiped along with Lord Vishnu and should not be regarded separately.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 4.15.3)

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Their murtis are popular and prevalent during Diwali time. The sweet and snack shops keep them in higher stock. The owners understand the nature of the season; people worship for particular things. Respect for traditions. Lord Ganesha removes obstacles from the path to success. Shri Devi, who is also known as Lakshmi, gives wealth and opulence.

There is more to Shri, however. She is a goddess, after all. Though prominently worshiped in the Vedic tradition, there is quite often a key component missing in the worship. She has a husband, who is known by names like Narayana and Vishnu. Shri is the goddess of fortune, and her husband is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. According to the acharyas of the bhakti tradition, the proper way to worship Shri is to have Vishnu there with her. There are many reasons for this.

1. Material opulence is fleeting

The worship of Ganesha and Lakshmi on Diwali is a recurring thing. It’s something like getting a pay check from the office. The deposits into the bank account occur on a regular basis. This is needed because of expenditures. I get money today, and almost immediately it is gone. I have responsibilities for home, family, and travel. There is so much to maintain. Another name for Shri is Chanchala, which means “always moving” or “unsteady.”

A wise person asks, “What is the purpose? Why do I have to keep worshiping? Is what I am asking for making me happy? Shouldn’t happiness be the goal of life?” The opulence that Shri gives lasts only for a short time, as the human existence is itself temporary. When compared to the complete timeline of creation, one birth is a blip on the chart, a dot so small that it is barely perceptible.

2. The gifts from Shri are an extension of herself

Shri is not just some random goddess appointed the role of fortune-giver. She is a distinct personality. She has a spiritual form, and she has a nature. When worshiped with material motivations, she is seen seated on a lotus flower distributing coins out of her hands. When understood properly, she is seen massaging the lotus feet of her beloved husband. Her only desire is to please Vishnu.

[Lakshmi-Narayana]A clearer picture of her nature appears during the pastimes of the incarnations. Both Lakshmi and Narayana descend to earth now and then. The princess of Videha, Sita Devi, is fully dedicated to Shri Rama, the prince of Ayodhya. Sita is fortune herself, yet she does not mind renunciation. She is prepared to follow her husband anywhere.

3. Everything is meant for service to God

These fingers which I am using to type. The voice I use to speak. The eyes I need for seeing. The ears which catch so many sounds. Everything in this world has a specific purpose. The various uses come together in the life known as bhakti, which is devotion. To be fully conscious of God, especially at the time of death, is the perfection of existence.

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

If enjoyment of the senses is the desire, then other forms are more suitable. The dog, the monkey, the crow, the cat - these have no way of understanding God. The limitation is set on the type of body. The human form is meant for the higher purpose.

It stands to reason, then, that even material opulence should be used for furthering that goal. The gifts from Shri should help in becoming more devoted to her husband. She is giving the gifts, after all. Wouldn’t she want them to be utilized for the right purpose? Shouldn’t any opulence we get be purposed for making the benefactor happy? We know that the way to please her is to be devoted to her husband, which can be accomplished in any of several different moods.

4. Don’t want to go the way of Ravana

The evil king of Lanka from an ancient time period was actually a devotee of the Supreme Lord at heart. He descended to earth to play the role of adversary, to teach so many valuable lessons. Ravana was wicked by nature, and yet he had so much opulence in Lanka. He even had a fountain of Lakshmi Devi in his kingdom.

Ravana had the special distinction of trying to literally steal Lakshmi. He showed what results when there is greed towards someone that belongs to someone else. Sita and Rama were living in the forest of Dandaka, and Ravana hatched a plan to steal her away in secret.

It worked. He had won, at least for a time. He stole the goddess of fortune, but she wanted nothing to do with him. Ravana’s lust drove him to desperately desire Sita as his chief queen, and she repeatedly refused him. In the end, his sinful act led to doom. The entire city was destroyed. Ravana fell to the ground for good through the arrows released from Rama’s bow.

The historical incident is a lesson of what can happen if the goddess of fortune is worshiped improperly. Shri Hanuman worshiped Sita as a devotee, not wanting anything from her. Today, all his needs are provided for by her. He doesn’t even worship her for such benedictions, but he receives them since his lone desire is to continuously serve Rama in devotion.

In Closing:

Along with diyas in homes to shine,

Lakshmi and Ganesha at Diwali time.


For obstacles there to be none,

And for great wealth to come.


But wise proper way knowing,

Not for personal comfort going.


Instead always happy with Him sees,

In bhakti fortune’s goddess to please.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Do You Ever Get Embarrassed By Having To Be Hypocritical

[Lord Chaitanya and associates]"Instruct everyone to follow the orders of Lord Shri Krishna as they are given in the Bhagavad-gita and Shrimad-Bhagavatam. In this way become a spiritual master and try to liberate everyone in this land." (Lord Chaitanya, Chaitanya Charitamrita, Madhya 7.128)

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Friend1: The four regulative principles.

Friend2: Do you know where they come from?

Friend1: Shastra? No gambling. No meat eating. No illicit sex. No intoxication.

Friend2: There are qualities associated with each restriction. Those qualities make up the foundation of religious life, what separates the human beings from the animals.

Friend1: What are those qualities?

Friend2: Honesty, compassion, cleanliness and austerity.

Friend1: Have you ever been to initiation ceremonies, where the people have to recite these principles in front of their guru?

Friend2: I have.

Friend1: You notice how they always tense up and forget one or a few?

[chanting beads]Friend2: I do. They must be so nervous. I remember one time I joked with someone that they better not forget the four. Sure enough, the next day they could only name three. It’s kind of nice, I must say.

Friend1: Why is that?

Friend2: It shows how seriously they take the process. It’s such a big step for them that they get nervous.

Friend1: So here is where I was going with this. Obviously, most people don’t follow these regulations.

Friend2: For sure. Even people initiated into the bhakti tradition have trouble maintaining their vows.

Friend1: And we know the teachers likely went against those regulations at some point in the past, before they became gurus.

Friend2: Right.

Friend1: So let me ask you this. Is there embarrassment in having to be hypocritical?

Friend2: What do you mean? How are they being hypocritical?

Friend1: You’re lecturing people on avoiding certain things. You have indulged in those in the past. How is that not hypocritical? It’s like, “Do as I say, not as I do.”

Friend2: I hear you. I never really thought about this before.

Friend1: Well, think about it now.

Friend2: You know that every parent in history has been hypocritical, then?

Friend1: Yeah?

Friend2: Think about it. You tell your kids not to lie, to do their homework on time, to respect their elders. Parents know these things because they were taught by their own parents and elders during youth.

Friend1: Drugs and alcohol; that’s also an issue.

Friend2: Right. If I get drunk all the time, who am I to lecture my children about the dangers of alcohol? Nevertheless, the instruction is still valid. There is no embarrassment because the right path is acknowledged.

Friend1: If the guru is not following these regulations, aren’t they disqualified from teaching?

Friend2: They are trying their best. Obviously, the spiritual master should be of the highest character. People make mistakes. This is addressed in the Bhagavad-gita. The sadhu eventually corrects themselves, so even if they’ve done abominable things there is hope going forward.

“Even if one commits the most abominable actions, if he is engaged in devotional service, he is to be considered saintly because he is properly situated.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.30)

Friend1: Oh right. I remember that verse.

Friend2: Material life is a struggle. Everyone has trouble. If we learn the right path from someone who is at least trying to stay on it themselves, then we should consider that a great fortune.

Friend1: At the same time, I don’t think that verse from the Bhagavad-gita is giving blanket amnesty for intentionally violating the regulative principles.

[Lord Chaitanya and associates]Friend2: You’re absolutely right about that. Sincerity is what counts. Are you really trying? If so, then you should instruct others. As Chaitanya Mahaprabhu says, just talk about Krishna and His teachings to the people you meet. On His order you can become a guru.

In Closing:

Since in past intoxicants to take,

Now to children a hypocrite to make?


What about with regulations to live,

And advice to aspirants to give?


Forgiven when sincerity there,

Of shortcomings Krishna aware.


All saints a past, to the future keep an eye,

On Chaitanya’s order to be guru just try.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Five Times Hanuman Used The Siddhis Of Yoga

[Shri Hanuman]“At night, on the sun having set, Maruti [Hanuman] contracted his body. Becoming the size of a cat, he was a wonderful sight to behold.” (Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 2.49)

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Find a remote area. A mountain is preferable. Lay down a deerskin rug. Sit in the lotus position. Fix your vision on the tip of the nose. Maybe repeat the sacred syllable “om” over and over. Do this continuously, day after day. The most important restriction during this period of time is abstaining from sex life completely.

“To practice yoga, one should go to a secluded place and should lay kusha-grass on the ground and then cover it with a deerskin and a soft cloth. The seat should neither be too high nor too low and should be situated in a sacred place. The yogi should then sit on it very firmly and should practice yoga by controlling the mind and the senses, purifying the heart and fixing the mind on one point.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 6.11-12)

These are some of the conditions necessary for perfection in mystic yoga. The process is described in the Bhagavad-gita, where the warrior Arjuna expresses some interest in giving up his occupation and retreating to the wilderness.

Real yoga of this kind is mysticism. It is meant for detaching the spirit soul from the body. Not literally, but in a way that there is not mental attachment to the different objects of the senses. The fruit is something like an out of body experience.

The fruit of mystic yoga practice is a siddhi. This translates as “perfection” in English. A siddhi is a kind of special ability. The less familiar may mistake siddhis for magic, but the abilities are indeed real. Shri Hanuman several times used siddhis in his service to Shri Rama, the Supreme Lord in an incarnation form made famous in the Ramayana. The unique situation with Hanuman is that he did not have to separately endeavor for these perfections. They came to him easily, and he only used them when they would provide some help in pleasing God.

1. Leaping off a mountain top

Hanuman is in the body of a Vanara, which is something like a monkey. During an ancient time period, he lived in Kishkindha with other Vanaras. They ended up in service to Shri Rama, given orders by their leader Sugriva.

The service involved finding Rama’s missing wife Sita. At one point Hanuman’s search party received some valuable information. They learned that Sita was on an island called Lanka. They knew how to get there, but one obstacle stood between them: a massive ocean.

Jambavan, one of the members of the group, reminded Hanuman of his amazing abilities. Hanuman then used the siddhi of yoga that enlarges the body to whatever size desired. Using a large form, he leapt off a mountain top, hoping to cross the ocean via the aerial route.

2. Dealing with Surasa

There were a few obstacles along the way. One of them was Surasa, who was in the form of a female Rakshasa, or man-eater. She told Hanuman that he was not allowed to pass unless he entered her mouth. She told Hanuman that he was to be her food.

Hanuman was very respectful. He did not want to violate the boons given to her by the celestials, who had actually placed her there to test the ability of Shri Rama’s most dear servant. Hanuman then used his mind, along with his yogic powers. He asked Surasa to become large enough to devour him. In the process, he kept expanding his body. She then kept expanding her size to keep pace. Continuing with the back and forth, when her mouth was extremely large Hanuman used the siddhi of yoga that allowed him to become very small. Then he quickly entered and exited her mouth. Thus respect was maintained and he was able to continue forward to Lanka.

3. Searching through Lanka

[Shri Hanuman]Hanuman once again assumed the large size to fly across the ocean and reach Lanka. After entering, he realized that it was best not to be discovered. After all, Sita was taken away in secret, by the wicked king Ravana. A monkey would be conspicuous to the area. Hanuman then quickly became the size of a cat, using his mystic ability.

4. Escaping and setting fire to Lanka

After meeting Sita, Hanuman fought with some of Ravana’s men. Hanuman ended up bound by ropes through a weapon originally coming from Lord Brahma, the creator. The incident allowed Hanuman to have a meeting with Ravana. The king decided to embarrass the messenger by setting his tail on fire and parading him around the town.

While this was going on, Hanuman quickly transformed into a small size to escape the bonds. He then took on the large size, with his tail still burning. He used Ravana’s insult as a way to destroy the city, giving the wicked king a glimpse of the total destruction set to come his way from the arrows of Rama.

5. Meeting Bhima

Hanuman is an offspring of the wind god, Vayu. Another son to Vayu is Bhima, one of the five Pandava brothers described in the Mahabharata. Bhima one time met Hanuman and was so happy as a result. He asked Hanuman to show the large form that was used to cross the ocean in service of Rama. Hanuman was hesitant to show this form, as he did not consider it to be very important. Whatever is needed to be done to please God, Hanuman will do. He is not proud of his abilities or accomplishments, though he has the most over which to be proud. After a while, being pleased with Bhima, Hanuman relented and expanded his body to show that amazing form.

In Closing:

Finally after pleased he relented,

To brother Bhima’s request consented.


That amazing form used in service shown,

To Shri Rama, for Lord’s pleasure alone.


When leaping off mountain tall,

When in Surasa’s mouth small.


Siddhis of yoga for him no big deal,

To world showing use for them real.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Five Ways Too Much Wealth Can Be Harmful

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

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The aspiring yogi gets some good news in the Bhagavad-gita. If they don’t succeed in perfecting the consciousness in the current lifetime, the progress doesn’t get erased. It is not as if they perish like a riven cloud; the analogy used by Arjuna when questioning Shri Krishna.

“O mighty-armed Krishna, does not such a man, being deviated from the path of Transcendence, perish like a riven cloud, with no position in any sphere?” (Arjuna, Bhagavad-gita, 6.38)

The opportunity renews in the next life, with a few possible circumstances at the time of birth. Bhagavan, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, uses the word shrimatam. This references shri, which can mean “beauty” or “opulence.” The idea is that the unsuccessful yogi may take birth in a home that is cultured, where need is not an issue. The old saying, “It’s difficult for an empty sack to stand up straight,” is appropriate here. If you are constantly in need of food, clothing and other essentials, how will you have time to focus on spiritual life?

At the same time, there is duality in the material world. No one condition is absolute in its nature. Fire helps to bring heat and light, but it can destroy as well. Wealth protects against indigence, but it also has an ugly side. Too much of it can be detrimental to reaching the objective of purification of the consciousness.

1. It makes others envious

You finally got it. You had your eye on it for quite a while. You kept a picture of it as your screensaver on the desktop computer at work. It’s your dream car. It’s expensive, so you had to save up for a while. Now you can’t wait to show it off to everyone you know. You’ve taken a picture of yourself standing in front of it.

Lost in the jubilation is the issue of envy. How will others react to your new purchase? Not everyone can afford the same car. There is sure to be jealousy. Not everyone will be as delighted as you. After all, aren’t you subtly telling them that you have something which they don’t?

From shastra there is the story of the Syamantaka jewel. King Satrajit in Dvaraka received this amazing jewel from the sun-god. After proper worship, the jewel produced a huge amount of gold daily. Yet as soon as Satrajit became enamored by it, there came a network of trouble. Jealousy, murder, vengeance - his life was much more peaceful before coming into so much gold.

2. Increased worry

You can’t worry about something that you don’t have. This only makes sense. Before you got the new car, you didn’t really care where you parked. You didn’t care if there was a little ding here and there. The insurance was cheaper, too.

Now there is increased anxiety. You have to park far away to make sure no one strikes the car accidentally. You have to get it washed on a regular basis. You have to guard against theft. These new anxieties are the result of increased opulence.

3. So much time to acquire it

There is the saying, “Money doesn’t grow on trees.” The odds of winning the lottery are slim. If you want to become wealthy, you likely have to work long and hard. There is big risk involved as well. So many wealthy people have lost huge fortunes several times. “It takes money to make money.” The amount of time expended to become wealthy could easily be used towards spiritual life instead. The benefit is much greater in the long run.

4. You become a miser

This issue correlates directly with karma. If you have wealth, you should share it with others. You should be charitable. From a karma-only perspective, the inherent promise is that in the future you’ll receive even more than what you give away. Of course the recipients should be worthy. If you give money to people to become even more drunk and unclean in their habits, you haven’t helped anyone.

[Lord Krishna]In the Shrimad Bhagavatam, Shri Krishna tells Uddhava that the wealth of misers is a huge source of misery. By being miserly, it makes their present life hellish. And since they are unwilling to part with any of it, they go against shastra and thus get punished with birth in hell in the afterlife.

5. Takes focus away from Shri Krishna, who is the husband of the goddess of fortune

Shri is also a personality. She is the eternal consort of the Supreme Lord. Another one of her names is Lakshmi. The person who dedicates their life to serving God by remaining conscious of Him has nothing to worry about in terms of wealth. Whatever they need is provided by Lakshmi Devi. She gives benedictions to be used in the service of her husband.

The most vivid example in this regard is Hanuman. He lives on very little, but whatever he needs is provided for by Sita Devi. She is the husband of Shri Rama, the incarnation of the Divinity to whom Hanuman is dedicated. There is no need to separately strive for wealth, beauty, fame, honor, prestige, and other such desirable things in a material existence. Bhakti-yoga is all-encompassing, and it is the best utilization of the valuable time in the human form of body.

In Closing:

Finally the human form to find,

Bhakti for it best use of time.


Not forever of wealth to think,

Since then to hellish life to sink.


Focusing now, miser becoming,

Misery from every corner coming.


For devoted soul in purity living,

Everything to them Lakshmi giving.