Saturday, March 18, 2017

Why Didn’t Krishna Show Duryodhana The Future

[Krishna meeting with Duryodhana]“All the sons of Dhritarashtra along with their allied kings, and Bhishma, Drona and Karna, and all our soldiers are rushing into Your mouths, their heads smashed by Your fearful teeth. I see that some are being crushed between Your teeth as well.” (Arjuna, Bhagavad-gita, 11.26-27)

Friend1: Do you remember playing that game as a child, where you had to spot the object that didn’t match with the others?

Friend2: For sure. It was in books. I saw it on Sesame Street, too.

Friend1: There you go. It was a great learning tool, wouldn’t you say?

Friend2: Definitely.

Friend1: Let’s play a version of that game today.

Friend2: Why?

Friend1: I’m trying to present my question in a clever way.

Friend2: Sure. Go for it.

Friend1: Markandeya.

Friend2: A great rishi.

Friend1: Let me finish the list, please.

Friend2: Sorry.

Friend1: Markandeya, Kakabhushundi. Yashoda. Arjuna. Duryodhana.

Friend2: You are too funny. Obviously, Duryodhana stands out.

Friend1: Oh, I forgot to mention. These five also have something in common. Please indulge me. Why does Duryodhana stand out?

Friend2: He is not a devotee. Though the kind-hearted Yudhishthira affectionately referred to him as Suyodhana, Duryodhana was a bad character. He attempted murder on so many occasions. The only reason he failed was because Krishna was there to save the Pandavas.

Friend1: Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The Pandavas are five brothers, sons to the king Pandu. They are the main characters of the historical Sanskrit epic known as the Mahabharata.

Friend2: And Duryodhana is one of their cousins. He is the leader of the rival Kauravas. Duryodhana unjustly took the land and kingdom that belonged to the Pandavas. The “cold war” type conflict eventually escalated to physical conflict in the form of the Bharata War. Arjuna was the leading fighter for the Pandavas, and Krishna kindly acted as the chariot driver.

Friend1: Okay, great. We’ve laid the groundwork. Duryodhana stands out from the group, but do you know what they have in common?

Friend2: Not offhand.

Friend1: They all saw a version of the universal form, the virata-rupa.

Friend2: Oh yeah. That’s right.

Friend1: Markandeya saw it at the end of the creation, when there was total devastation. The crow Kakabhushundi saw it in the belly of a youthful Shri Rama, who is an incarnation of God. Yashoda saw it in the mouth of young Krishna, after He was accused by His friends of eating dirt. Arjuna saw it on the battlefield prior to the great war.

[Krishna visiting Duryodhana]Friend2: And Duryodhana saw it when Krishna visited as an emissary to prevent the war from happening in the first place.

Friend1: Right. Here is my question. Why is Duryodhana included on this special list? That doesn’t seem right.

Friend2: Well, only Krishna knows why He does things. Secondly, there were a few others present in that viewing. Dhritarashtra and Vidura, Duryodhana’s father and uncle, respectively. And it is said in the Bhagavad-gita that the virata-rupa shown to Arjuna was unique. No one had seen it before.

[Arjuna seeing the universal form]Friend1: Yes, and time was incorporated in that vision. Arjuna saw all the fighters rushing into Krishna’s many mouths. This was an indication of the future. On a related note, why didn’t Krishna show Duryodhana the future? That would have prevented war.

Friend2: We don’t know that. The simple answer is that Duryodhana is not a devotee. Remember, when Krishna visited, the fiend hatched up a scheme to bind Krishna and thus embarrass the Pandavas. The virata-rupa was in response to this ridiculous idea. It showed Duryodhana that Krishna could not be caught, since the size of His transcendental body is beyond measure.

Friend1: Alright, what about showing the future, though?

Friend2: Duryodhana is not a disciple, either. Krishna showed the future to Arjuna because that was part of the instruction, done for Arjuna’s good. Duryodhana would have had the same opportunity if he had any interest in doing good. God does not interfere with our choices. He is always with us as the Supersoul, but we only start to go in the right direction when we want to. Even if Duryodhana saw the future, he likely wouldn’t have followed devotion. Even if he did, it would have been out of fear and not love. Arjuna saw the future so that he would be able to make the proper decision, the one to fight valiantly while keeping Krishna at the center.

In Closing:

Unique vision to Arjuna was shown,

Virata-rupa to that moment alone.


But also version to Yashoda and crow,

And Markandeya in belly to go.


Fiend Duryodhana in list included,

But vision of future in that excluded.


Not to help even in war’s prevention,

Devotion from fear never the intention.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Three Examples Of Peace Amidst Chaos

[Prahlada with Holika]”I can see that this boy's strength is unlimited, for he has not feared any of my punishments. He appears immortal. Therefore, because of my enmity toward him, I shall die. Or maybe this will not take place.” (Hiranyakashipu, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 7.5.47)

If you won the lottery today, would all your problems go away? No more living paycheck to paycheck. No more worrying about fluctuations in the economy, which affect the job market. No more concern over how to eat, where to live, keeping up with popular skills of the day.

From studies it is seen that often times the miseries increase. People go bankrupt soon after winning the lottery. There are new responsibilities, and each responsibility is like a burden. There are many more problems introduced. Even those who don’t win the lottery but earn their massive wealth through business ventures have difficulty figuring out what to do with their time.

But what exactly is a peaceful state? Don’t some people thrive in difficult situations? Aren’t they more at peace when working, when handling responsibilities? From the Vedas we learn that the real way to measure peace is through consciousness. A peaceful person has full trust in the guiding and protecting hand of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. There are examples of people who remained peaceful even when faced with tremendous difficulties, while in the midst of chaos.

1. Prahlada Maharaja

A child is often at peace because they don’t know any better. They have yet to grasp the repetition of days, months and years. They are not jaded by life’s experience because they have little experience to go off. They enjoy playing. They are not shy in admitting their preferences with respect to association. They are the essence of innocence.

But how does a child remain at peace in the midst of deadly attacks? And what if those attacks came from the father? This was the situation for Prahlada Maharaja, the son of the king. That king was feared throughout the world for his strength and his ruthless streak. He indeed sought world domination, and he was pretty much there. He had immunity from death in so many situations, as well.

Despite having a respectful and well-behaved son, the king could not tolerate the devotion in the boy. Prahlada simply meditated on Vishnu in the heart at all times. He understood that though in the heart of every living being, God still has a transcendental form. The father Hiranyakashipu understood that as well; except his mood was antagonistic. He viewed Vishnu as the number one rival.

[Prahlada with Holika]Prahlada faced deadly attacks from the father. This was because bhakti could not be tolerated in the kingdom. In the midst of seeing weapons coming his way, flying off a cliff, being stomped on by elephants, and even entering fire Prahlada remained completely at peace. This was due to his connection in consciousness to the Supreme Lord. That is the real meaning of yoga.

2. Shri Hanuman

Away from home, separated from his friends, and no way to communicate with anyone Hanuman had to succeed in a difficult mission. He was in a foreign territory, one that was hostile to good people. Hanuman is the symbol of goodness, and he was searching for the lotus-like wife of the Supreme Lord. Since she prefers to stay around lotus flowers, like a swan, one of her names is Padmini.

“How can that female swan who is accustomed to sporting with the king of swans amidst lotus flowers ever cast her eyes on a water-crow that stays amidst bunches of grass?” (Sita Devi speaking to Ravana, Valmiki Ramayana, Aranya Kand, 56.20)

The king of that territory was like a crow; always around rubbish. Hanuman had to find Sita, though he had not met her previously. People counted on Hanuman to succeed; that was the mission coming from Rama. Hanuman remained at peace through the difficult situations since he was also connected in consciousness. Rama is the same Vishnu worshiped by Prahlada; just with a different physical manifestation.

Hanuman had to search clandestinely through the city, see things he didn’t want to, fight people who were very powerful, and even have his tail set on fire. Raging in anger afterwards, Hanuman burned Ravana’s city to the ground. Throughout the chaos he was peaceful in mind due to bhakti.

3. Arjuna

Arjuna’s task was a little more straightforward. He had to lead a massive army in a massive war, featuring the best bow-warriors in the world riding on chariots. Arjuna had the best person driving his chariot. This was Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Prahlada and Hanuman were just as close with God, but Arjuna’s situation draws a much clearer picture of bhakti.

There is question and answer. There is doubt and resolution. There is reflection and reaction. Arjuna had issues at the beginning. He was hesitant to proceed. In yoga he connected with God, who was literally right next to him in the form of Krishna. At the conclusion, Arjuna decisively proceeded with the war, which he was guaranteed to win.

“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)

Peace is a difficult thing to measure. In that conversation with Arjuna, Krishna related the eye-opening fact that even someone who looks renounced can remain attached. They are called a pretender, since on the inside they are not at peace. They are thinking of this thing and that, how to enjoy separate from God.

In this way we know that things aren’t always how they appear to be. There can be chaos even in an isolated place, which is supposed to be more conducive to peace. And there can be peace amidst the most chaotic situations. Consciousness is the key. It can be linked to the Supreme Lord through something as simple as sound: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

In Closing:

Peace amidst chaos to be found,

Coming simply from a sound.


Holy names always to chant,

Then to break meditation can’t.


Others like Prahlada also show,

And Hanuman towards Sita to go.


Arjuna even amidst war impending,

Successful since on God depending.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Five Reasons Shri Rama Is The Best Disciple

[Rama and Lakshmana with Vishvamitra]“Rama showed His tremendous knowledge of fighting by killing the demon Tataka. The muni then gave to Him knowledge of secret mantras to be used in fighting.” (Janaki Mangala, 36)

He is the adi-purusha, or original person. He is also anadi, which means “without a beginning.” From the Bhagavad-gita, we learn that the spotless wisdom He imparted to Arjuna actually existed since the beginning of time, when it was spoken to the sun-god.

“The Blessed Lord said: I instructed this imperishable science of yoga to the sun-god, Vivasvan, and Vivasvan instructed it to Manu, the father of mankind, and Manu in turn instructed it to Ikshvaku.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.1)

In that conversation, the Supreme Personality of Godhead in His all-attractive form of Shri Krishna changed from charioteer to spiritual master. He gave the general instruction that every sincere seeker of the truth should approach a guru, one who knows the truth because they have seen it themselves.

Since He is the first person to exist, without even a beginning, God is automatically the best guru. He is the first spiritual master, in fact. Yet He is simultaneously the best disciple. This contradiction is resolved through the behavior and purpose of the many avataras of God. Meaning “one who descends,” the avatara is an incarnation. God plays a certain role to fulfill many purposes. As Shri Rama, the prince of Ayodhya, one of those purposes was to show the behavior of an ideal disciple.

1. He has respect

Not that you follow blindly, but you shouldn’t challenge just for the sake of trying to stump the teacher. You enter the relationship for a reason. If you don’t want to learn, then why waste everyone’s time? Shri Rama grew up in the royal kingdom in Ayodhya, as the eldest son of the king, Maharaja Dasharatha.

Rama actually had two acknowledged gurus. One was the family preceptor, Vashishtha. The other was Vishvamitra, who came to the kingdom to ask for Rama to accompany him in the forest. To both exalted figures of the Vedic tradition, Rama showed tremendous respect. He listened attentively. He was submissive. Rama did not need to do this, as both His gurus were actually devoted to Him, since He is God.

2. He reveals doubts

The guru is eager to teach, and he becomes especially pleased when the disciple is open about their doubts. If I’m teaching someone and they’re just pretending to listen, there’s no real benefit to anyone. Eventually, they will need to put the principles to use, to show that they have assimilated the knowledge rather than just memorized it.

To really understand something, a person must bring forth their doubts. Rama was not hesitant in this area. One time Vishvamitra asked Him to deal with a female monster-like person. Her name was Tataka, and she was like a Rakshasa, which is a man-eating ogre.

Rama had doubts about entering combat with a female. He was aware of the etiquette. Even in modern society, it is considered wrong to hit a woman. Tataka was an aggressor who was harassing so many innocent sages living in the forest. Rama had just cause to battle with her, as it was Vishvamitra’s order as well. Still, as a good disciple, Rama was not hesitant to share His reservations.

3. Follows orders

The disciple shares their doubts, and using the weapon of knowledge the guru slashes those doubts away. Vishvamitra told Rama to proceed, without mercy. Rama thought that He would spare Tataka’s life, simply incapacitating her. Vishvamitra did not want this. Rama was given a task and He eventually followed through on this. Since he was pleased with Rama and His younger brother Lakshmana for carrying out orders, Vishvamitra then shared with them confidential mantras. These words would further empower the arrows used in combat. The arrows would become similar to nuclear weapons in potency.

4. Makes them look good

Rama makes both Vishvamitra and Vashishtha look good. Not that there is vanity involved. When the guru looks good, others gain further confidence in them. The guru feels more enthusiastic to teach going forward. Rama defeated Tataka, but so much credit went to Vishvamitra. Rama’s good behavior, His even disposition, His dispassion in material affairs - Vashishtha was glorified as a result, since he played a role in teaching Rama.

5. Increases their devotion

The bona fide guru is a devotee of Rama. God the person is not limited to a single transcendental manifestation. The non-different forms of God are known as Vishnu-tattva. The guru teaches so that others can be inspired to follow the same path, to reach the stage of transcendental ecstasy in devotion. Bhava doesn’t have to come through only explicitly devotional activities. The fighting of a kshatriya, defending the innocent, can qualify as devotion to God if the mindset is right. Consciousness is key.

[Rama and Lakshmana with Vishvamitra]Rama’s behavior increased the devotion in His gurus. They became further attached to Rama as a result. There is the saying that child is the father of man. One day the disciple will become the guru. When the disciple follows instructions and succeeds in their devotion, then the guru’s devotion increases as a result. The Supreme Lord becomes doubly pleased.

In Closing:

When bhakti of guru and disciple sees,

Supreme Lord doubly becomes pleased.


Rama for everyone showing the way,

Listening attentively what guru to say.


Not afraid doubts to share,

To work with attention and care.


From Him stature of teacher growing,

Supremacy of bhakti path showing.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

The Midnight Knows It Well

[Krishna birth]“On the occasion of Lord Krishna's birth, seasonal changes took place throughout the entire universe. Krishna was born during the month of September, yet it appeared like springtime. The atmosphere, however, was very cool, although not chilly, and the rivers and reservoirs appeared just as they would in sharat, the fall. Lotuses and lilies blossom during the day, but although Krishna appeared at twelve o'clock midnight, the lilies and lotuses were in bloom, and thus the wind blowing at that time was full of fragrance.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 10.3.1-5 Purport)

Friend1: Krishna’s birth is pretty amazing.

Friend2: How so?

Friend1: So many things came together. The prophecy. The punishment from Kamsa. The promise of Vishnu.

Friend2: To elaborate further for anyone who might not be familiar, the prophecy stated that Devaki’s eighth child would be the death of Kamsa.

Friend1: And Kamsa was the king of Mathura. Devaki was his sister.

Friend2: The punishment from Kamsa was the imprisonment of Devaki and her husband Vasudeva.

Friend1: The king was not going to take chances.

Friend2: He killed each child as soon as it was born. The promise of Vishnu was to mother earth and Lord Brahma, the creator. Vishnu, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, agreed to incarnate on earth to relieve the burden of the sinful, the asuras.

[Prayers to Devaki's womb]Friend1: The janma, or birth, took place in a jail cell.

Friend2: Because that’s where Devaki and Vasudeva were.

Friend1: At midnight, while everyone was sleeping.

Friend2: Yes. The timing was perfect. It allowed for Vasudeva to transfer the baby to the neighboring town of Gokula without Kamsa finding out.

Friend1: I was thinking about something. Is there any significance to the midnight thing?

Friend2: What do you mean?

Friend1: Obviously, the timing was good from the perspective of escaping Kamsa, but are there other reasons that Krishna decided to appear in this world at midnight?

Friend2: Because nighttime is darkness and God is supposed to be light?

Friend1: Yeah, there you go. Something along those lines.

Friend2: The description in the Bhagavatam says that the fragrance in the air was nice, since the lilies and lotuses were in bloom. Usually that happens in the daytime, but with God everything done is auspicious. Even when He appears at midnight, that time becomes one to celebrate.

Friend1: I was thinking of the Bhagavad-gita verse. The one that says something about night and day in relation to sages and normal people.

Friend2: “What is night for all beings is the time of awakening for the self-controlled; and the time of awakening for all beings is night for the introspective sage.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.69)

Friend1: There you go. This was nighttime for everyone else, especially Kamsa. It was the time for awakening for Devaki and Vasudeva.

Friend2: Sure, you could look at it that way. The timing helps devotees who celebrate Janmashtami.

Friend1: How so?

Friend2: It allows them to fast until midnight. This way they spend the entire day thinking about Krishna. If you just observed that one vow, once a year, you would get so much benefit.

Friend1: And with other vows the fasting period isn’t as long?

Friend2: We already fast at night, while sleeping. That’s why the first meal of the day is called “breakfast.”

Friend1: Oh yeah. Good point.

Friend2: By fasting until midnight, which corresponds with the time Krishna appeared, you get more benefit, at least in terms of consciousness.

Friend1: What about the idea that a person of regulated habits sleeps on time. They don’t sleep too much or too little.

Friend2: “There is no possibility of one's becoming a yogi, O Arjuna, if one eats too much, or eats too little, sleeps too much or does not sleep enough.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 6.16)

Friend1: There you go. You’re like a verse machine.

Friend2: There is no contradiction here. The introspective sage is always awake to Krishna consciousness. Even their sleeping is auspicious. It makes sense that Devaki and Vasudeva would be awake for the appearance of Vishnu as their son.

Friend1: I see.

Friend2: You don’t need to make too much of the midnight thing. The lesson I would take away is that everything with God the person is auspicious. Even if He appears at a time when people are typically sleeping, there is no violation of laws. In material life, even when following the Vedas, there are appropriate and inappropriate times.

Friend1: Like for starting a journey, getting married, holding a worship ceremony.

[Krishna birth]Friend2: Exactly. With bhakti, or devotion, things are different. There are no inauspicious times. Lord Chaitanya has said that there are no hard and fast rules for chanting the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. Bhakti is about love, after all. Just as love is not limited by language, it’s not restricted to time and circumstance, either. Krishna can appear in this world at midnight and He can dance with the gopis in the forest at midnight, too. There will always be light, since He is self-effulgent.

In Closing:

Even if arriving in darkness of night,

Place beaming with transcendental light.


Like in jail cell janma time,

As Vishnu to parents to shine.


Divine vision for devotees to make,

At midnight Devaki and Vasudeva awake,


Perfect for sadhakas to celebrate yearly,

Any moment for bhakti auspicious clearly.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Four Reasons We Are Not Able To Adequately Glorify God

[Tulsidas writing]“By glorifying the Lord with exalted verses, one becomes purified. Although we are unable to offer prayers to the Lord in an adequate fashion, our duty is to make the attempt in order to purify ourselves. It is not that we should stop our glorification because demigods like Lord Brahma and Lord Shiva cannot adequately glorify the Lord.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 4.16.2 Purport)

Neti neti. This Sanskrit phrase is found in Vedic literature and has been passed on by highly advanced intellectuals undertaking the difficult study of Vedanta, which is the conclusion of all conclusions. The translation is “not this, not that.” Look around you. Take the small. Take the infinitesimal. You have not found God.

Then work your way up to the macro level. Take the largest collective you can conceive of. If you’re having a difficult time, look to the Bhagavad-gita, where the universal form was shown to Arjuna. The virata-rupa - even that is not God completely.

The Absolute Truth, He who is beyond our comprehension, is impossible to glorify at a sufficient level. At an awards ceremony if the speaker continues with their praise for hours and hours, after a while the audience has had enough. From both points of view - sender and receiver - the glorification of God is never complete.

1. Lord Brahma can’t do it

Chaturanana. The four-faced one. Vidhata. The creator. Lord Brahma is the first living entity. He is the progenitor of not just the human race, but of all 8,400,000 different species.

He learned of God through meditation. He received knowledge directly within the heart. He is described as self-born, Svayambhu, since he emerged from the lotus stem growing out of the lotus-like navel of Lord Vishnu, who is God Himself.

Though Brahma has seen everything and been around since the beginning of the present timeline, he cannot adequately glorify God. He even offered a very nice set of prayers to Vishnu’s incarnation of Krishna one time. Krishna was on earth in His transcendental form, enacting wonderful pastimes on the sacred land of Vrindavana.

Under the spell of yogamaya, Brahma decided to test Krishna. He stole the cowherd boys and cows that were always enjoying Krishna’s company. The Supreme Lord was up for the game, as He simply expanded Himself to create the identical forms.

The ruse went on for a year until Brahma finally apologized. He then offered prayers that were appropriate and full of truth. He is also the author of the Brahma-samhita, which glorifies God as Govinda, which is another name for Krishna. Even with those wonderful prayers, Brahma feels as if he has not glorified enough.

2. Lord Shiva can’t do it

Shiva is the auspicious one. He is also known as Mahadeva, or the great god. Though he emerges from the forehead of Brahma, Shiva is actually almost identical with Vishnu Himself. Like Brahma, Shiva is also a great devotee. His Vishnu-form of choice, ishta-deva, is Shri Rama, the king of Ayodhya.

Shiva keeps the story of Rama with him, and he reveals it to worthy listeners. One such recipient is his wife, Parvati, the daughter of the mountain king. Their conversation is passed on through the generations. It made its way to Goswami Tulsidas, who then used it as the basis for a poem in Hindi describing the glories of Rama. That tale became famously known as the Ramacharitamanasa, for it is like a holy lake consisting of Rama’s transcendental pastimes.

[Tulsidas writing]Even with being the inspiration for another Ramayana-like tale, Shiva does not adequately glorify God. It is said that there are millions of verses in the spiritual world that describe Rama and His interactions with the wife Sita, the younger brother Lakshmana, and the dedicated servant Hanuman. In the material world we only have access to thousands of those verses.

3. Ananta Deva can’t do it

In the spiritual world Lord Vishnu rests on a serpent bed. That living entity has unlimited hoods; hence one name is Ananta. Ananta Deva has been glorifying Vishnu since the beginning of time. He has been speaking with an unending number of mouths, and he has yet to reach an end. He feels like his glorification is insufficient; so he continues further.

4. God is Adhokshaja

We know who the “fastest man in the world” is. We know who the fastest swimmer is as well. The determinations are made through measurements. That is one aspect to the material world. Things are limited. We may not know how much water is on the earth, but we know that there is a certain amount. If you collected every drop of ocean water, eventually you would get the entire ocean.

Krishna is known as Adhokshaja. This means “one whose qualities cannot be measured by blunt instruments.” For instance, we have no idea how tall God is. He can be very small, such as when Krishna was in the lap of the witch Putana. He can be very tall, such as when He showed the universal form to Arjuna.

There is no way to properly measure. This is with just one example - height. The same applies to every attribute. Strength, beauty, renunciation - everything about God is beyond our comprehension.

Does this mean we are doomed? Should we not glorify God? Is the effort futile? The idea is that the process itself is purifying. It brings tremendous joy to the heart. We can use others as support. We can take the words of Brahma and Shiva as inspiration. Even if we are not skilled in composition, the effort is appreciated so much by Krishna. At the very least, we can always chant His holy names and hope to continue in the glorification: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

In Closing:

For many reasons deficient,

Glorifying no words sufficient.


Brahma even cannot do,

Same with Mahadeva too.


Ananta since beginning of time,

Still not completion to find.


Krishna as Adhokshaja is known,

But praise effort worth it alone.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Four Reasons Parvati Is The Suitable Wife For Mahadeva

[Shiva Parvati]“Lord Shiva is so great that he does not care for the material prosperity for which every one of us is so eager. Parvati, who is the powerful material nature personified, is under his full control as his wife, yet he does not use her even to build a residential house. He prefers to remain without shelter, and his great wife also agrees to live with him humbly.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 3.14.26 Purport)

The material world is complicated. Everything came to be from an origin; there is no denying that. Everything has a beginning. We know that things don’t magically appear. The Vedic story is that there is this unmanifest material substance, known as pradhana. It gets a spiritual injection, from purusha, and then gradually develops.

“Consciousness is represented by intelligence, of which the unmanifested stage is the three modes of material nature. The unmanifested three modes of material nature is called pradhana.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 13.6-7 Purport)

Even that development is infinitely complicated. Proof is in the existence of many branches of science, which continue to expand in research. There is never complete knowledge, because man cannot fathom the full complexity of the creation.

Two individuals, working in concert, manage this wonderfully amazing creation. Husband and wife, one acts as the destroyer and the other as the energy itself, the potency. Mahadeva, the great god, is also in charge of the material mode of ignorance. He is a guna-avatara, or incarnation of a material quality. He is close to the original source of everything.

Parvati is his suitable wife. Since the material creation she manages is like a fort that is difficult to overcome, one of her many other names is Durga. She carries a trident in her hand, symbolizing the three sources of misery. She pokes that trident into the asuras, or the people who are against God.

For the devotees, Parvati and Shiva are very favorable. Indeed, Parvati is the most fit wife for Shiva, who is otherwise like an ascetic.

1. Sati in her previous life

Eka patni vrata. Mahadeva has a vow to take only one wife. According to the timeline of creation, the first wife is Sati. Her very name means “chaste.” She is the daughter of Daksha, who is one of the progenitors of man.

Daksha does not like Mahadeva, and Sati made the mistake of one time visiting her father against her husband’s wishes. So hurt by seeing her husband insulted by her father, Sati entered the fire to end her life.

In the next life Sati was born as Parvati, the daughter of the mountain king. It was in Parvati’s destiny to marry Mahadeva. Thus the vow is not broken. Lord Shiva does indeed have only one wife.

2. Follows her guru

The guru is the spiritual master. A good disciple will follow instructions regardless of personal sentiment or objection. This is the meaning to full trust. Obviously, this extension of faith is only beneficial if the guru is bona fide, i.e. they are fit for evaluating disciples and understanding what is best for them.

Mahadeva’s guru is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vishnu. Mahadeva is a guru himself, who teaches devotion to Vishnu. Parvati is the ideal wife to him since she follows her guru without hesitation. Narada Muni one time visited the mountain king’s home and informed him that Parvati was in the future to be married to Shiva.

Parvati took those words as seriously as a person can. She would either take Shiva as her husband or not get married at all. She was tested in this vow by Shiva’s attendants, who offered her Vishnu as a husband. She politely declined, referencing the words of her guru Narada.

3. Undergoes tremendous austerities

Mahadeva’s appearance is atypical. He smears ashes on his body. He has a snake for a garland. He has poison in his throat. He hangs around crematoriums. Indeed, in Vedic literature there are sometimes jokes made at his expense regarding these oddities.

But don’t let the appearance fool you. Mahadeva is the greatest ascetic. He does not need anything to survive. His desire is to simply meditate on his Vishnu form of choice, Shri Rama. He only gets married at the insistence of God Himself.

[Shiva-Parvati]Parvati also underwent tremendous austerities. She did this to become worthy of marrying Mahadeva. Thus husband and wife are equally renounced. They are a perfect match.

4. Is an eager listener

The bad guys are enamored by Mahadeva’s power. The materialists know that he is Ashutosha, which means “easily pleased.” If you want material benedictions, Mahadeva can grant them, requiring little effort on the part of the worshiper. Those interested in destroying understand that Shiva has the power to destroy the entire creation.

Yet Parvati’s husband carries something much more important with him: the story of Shri Rama, an incarnation of Vishnu who appears on earth every now and then. The accounts of that appearance are immortalized in the Sanskrit epic known as the Ramayana, which is written by Maharishi Valmiki.

Since God’s pastimes are endless, others have their own recollections. Lord Shiva has a version that he generally keeps to himself. He does not share it with just anyone. Parvati is the suitable wife since she is eager to listen. She is a kind of catalyst for the telling of the story of Rama. Goswami Tulsidas refers to Shiva’s story as a holy lake consisting of Rama’s acts, or the Ramacharitamanasa.

In Closing:

Not attached, renounced in life,

Making Parvati the suitable wife.


For Mahadeva, he with ashes to smear,

Though odd look, to Vishnu most dear.


Devi following faithfully guru’s word,

Believed in future that from him heard.


To Shiva to belong and to no other,

Perfect pair, universe’s father and mother.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Holi 2017

[Hiranyakashipu praying to Brahma]“O my lord, O best of the givers of benediction, if you will kindly grant me the benediction I desire, please let me not meet death from any of the living entities created by you.” (Hiranyakashipu praying to Lord Brahma, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 7.3.35)

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You are in a building which has many floors. You want to get to the top. There is some business to take care of. There are two options. One is to take the stairs. It’s rather straightforward. Climb to the top, step by step. The other is the elevator. This requires practically no effort; just press a few buttons and you’re on your way. The situation can be analogous to spiritual life, especially as it relates to things already available in the material world. The occasion of Holi reminds us how two people, related by blood, chose two very different paths in getting similar abilities.

The first person in this story is Hiranyakashipu. A compound Sanskrit word, the name means “soft cushion and gold.” Hiranyakashipu is both a historical personality and the perfect symbol of the materialistic atheist. He reached such heights that a faithless person wouldn’t believe, but even from the flawed fictional angle the story is worth studying. After all, the place to which he went is still possible in theory. It is the goal of so many who lack an understanding of the spiritual science.

Hiranyakashipu became king of the world. He was the most feared. Even the residents of the heavenly region were afraid to take him on. The battle between good and evil, suras and asuras, has been ongoing since before anyone can remember. Sometimes the good rise to the top, and sometimes, as in the case of Hiranyakashipu, the bad wield a broader influence.

Hiranyakashipu was feared for a reason. He had immunity from death in so many different situations. Naturally, he wanted immortality itself. But that wasn’t possible, so he opted for ninety-nine percent immortality. The wise realize the flaw right away. Just one percent vulnerability is enough for all-devouring time, in the form of death, to strike successfully.

Hiranyakashipu didn’t reach his coveted position by himself. He needed the help of the great benefactor, Lord Brahma. Brahma is the equivalent of the origin of all species. He is the first living entity. Since he doesn’t have a typical mother and father, he is also known as the self-create, Svayambhu. Brahma uses the three modes of material nature as ingredients and then gets to work on creating a variety of body types. The combination of these body types and the injection of individual spirit results in up to 8,400,000 different species.

[Hiranyakashipu praying to Brahma]Hiranyakashipu asked Brahma for immortality. Since Brahma himself must die one day, the benediction wasn’t available. So the king asked for great power. He asked for safety from different kinds of weapons, creatures, and physical situations. Pleased with Hiranyakashipu’s great austerities, Brahma obliged.

The other person in this tale is quite small in comparison to Hiranyakashipu. Ironically, he is the king’s son. Named Prahlada, he didn’t ask for world domination. He wasn’t even interested in following in the father’s footsteps. The boy had a spontaneous and loving attachment to God the person. Prahlada was devoted to Vishnu. If you could put a name on his mindset and practice, it would be bhakti. This is love and devotion, and combined with the term “yoga” it becomes devotional service.

Here you had Hiranyakashipu, with his ninety-nine percent immunity. The protection was from against other people wanting to take over his post. You also had this innocent five-year old boy, not bothering anyone. Who would have predicted that the father would turn into a violent aggressor against the son?

But that is precisely what happened. Hiranyakashipu couldn’t tolerate worship of Vishnu in his home. Vishnu is the person from whom Brahma emerged. Vishnu is the equivalent of God the person. The Supreme Lord is so disengaged from material affairs that he deputes Brahma to take care of creating. Vishnu expands Himself to effortlessly maintain, and then Lord Shiva does the destroying at the appropriate time. The three phases continue in cycles, corresponding with the infinite nature of time.

Hiranyakashipu worked hard to get full safety. Prahlada didn’t. So when the king decided to have the boy killed, one would think the outcome was assured. Oh, but frustration there would be. Prahlada apparently couldn’t be killed. Hiranyakashipu had to resort to a variety of measures precisely because each one failed.

The occasion of Holi commemorates one of those attempts. Hiranyakashipu had his sister Holika take the young Prahlada with her into a fire. Holika had this mystic power that enabled her to withstand fire. What the perpetrators failed to appreciate was the power of the Divine, and especially His mercy to the devotees.

[Prahlada with Holika]The outcome was that Prahlada survived and Holika did not. The father had worked so hard to get immunity from different kinds of weapons. He had performed great austerities and then specifically asked for the benedictions from Brahma. Prahlada had done no such things. And yet the boy was able to survive fire, snakes, stampeding elephants, and even a fall off a cliff.

“But those who worship Me with devotion, meditating on My transcendental form - to them I carry what they lack and preserve what they have.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.22)

Bhakti-yoga is the supreme occupation for mankind. It is something like taking the elevator to the top. The staircase method of performing this ritual and that not only takes longer, but also carries risk of descent at any point along the way. Hiranyakashipu never bothered to think about his benefactor’s benefactor. He didn’t consider that his immunity wouldn’t last forever. He didn’t dig deeper into how his son was able to be just as powerful without even desiring it. This is the magic of God the person. He provides to the devotees what they lack, and preserves what they have.

In Closing:

After austerities a difficult task,

From Brahma benedictions to ask.


Immortality to king not coming,

But sought world’s leader becoming.


Hiranyakashipu surprised to find,

Son strong just from steady mind.


But Prahlada not directly striving,

Through Vishnu deadly fire surviving.