Saturday, April 1, 2017

Five Of The Easiest Things To Do In Life

[Nimai-Nitai]“We say that presently the soul is in a sleeping state, and we are telling the soul, ‘Please wake up! Please wake up! You are not the body! You are not the body!’ It is possible to awaken the human being, but other living entities cannot be awakened.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Beyond Illusion And Doubt, Ch 15)

Spiritual life is difficult. Shri Krishna says in the Bhagavad-gita that the living entities in this world are struggling. They are part of Him. The Sanskrit word is amsha. This is like an expansion. The word mam is also used, which means that the expansions come from Krishna.

The struggle is due to conditioned life, interacting through the six senses, which include the mind. Because of this struggle, doing what is beneficial is more difficult than the opposite. Something as simple as getting up in the morning is difficult for someone who has no motivation. The lack of motivation is never due to a single factor; sometimes even the successful and wealthy lack motivation.

Reviewing some of the things that are very easy to do helps to identify what should be done. Do’s and don’ts. The ultimate positive activity is rekindling the forgotten relationship with the Supreme, who is mercy personified. He is always ready to welcome us back with open arms.

1. Criticize others

This is the easiest thing to do. You just have to look at somebody. If they are successful, criticize their arrogance. “They don’t know what failure is like.” If they are a failure, you can criticize their lack of success. If you can’t find anything to put down right away, then complain about how perfect they are.

This tendency towards criticism is compared to the behavior of a crow. The crows remain around garbage, while the swans are associated with pure objects, like the lotus flower. The goal of the human existence is to become more like the swan and less like the crow.

2. Give up

Go to the library. Look for the section on quitters. Can’t find it? No surprise there. No book is necessary to teach someone how to quit. Giving up is easy because it is simply the lack of effort. No one needs to be taught how to fail. Write a book on perseverance, strength, and leadership, and you could make millions.
[Nimai-Nitai]Spiritual life is about getting up. Referencing the mission of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and His associates, Shrila Bhaktivinoda Thakura sings jiva jago. “Wake up, conditioned living entity. Spin no more on the wheel of suffering, the cycle of reincarnation.” Athato brahma-jijnasa. “Now is the time for inquiring about spiritual matters.”

3. Avoid contemplating the purpose of life.

Seized by the day, frozen captive by the night. During the day tend to responsibility after responsibility. Then at night, sit back, relax, get intoxicated, and eventually fall asleep. Repeat the pattern day after day, week after week, year after year. Never even get close to contemplating why things are the way they are.

Indeed, the human form is meant for no other purpose than to delve into the nature of an existence, to take up spiritual life. That is the benefit to the advanced intelligence. Eating, sleeping, mating and defending can be done in other forms of life.

4. Follow what everyone else is doing

“If everyone is eating meat, just go along. If they enjoy getting intoxicated after work, why are you going to be different? It’s not worth the trouble. Go along to get along.”
Indeed, to follow spiritual life means to put a target on your back. You will be different for the mere fact that you are trying to escape from the cycle of birth and death. Spiritual life is the light of knowledge, while material life is the darkness of ignorance. Conditioned souls are here due to a choice to associate with darkness; this means that the followers of genuine spiritual life will always be in the minority.

5. Don’t ask questions

Even in many religious traditions, too many questions are not welcome. Accept such and such as the savior. Then move on. Nothing more to see. Do you want to suffer in hell? Then don’t delve too deep. Trust in the word of God. Have faith.

The more difficult path is to challenge everything. Not just skepticism for skepticism’s sake, but genuine inquisitiveness. Arjuna picked probably the worst time to bring up the most challenging questions in life. He was on a battlefield, ready to begin hostilities in a war of amazing size and scope. His charioteer, Shri Krishna, was ready to go wherever Arjuna directed.

Krishna instead became the teacher for a brief while. He was the guru to the worthy disciple, Arjuna. Indeed, in genuine spiritual life all questions are welcome. Bring every doubt to the table. Don’t leave unsatisfied. Surely, God cannot be understood through mere logic and mental deliberation, but at least get clarification. Follow the guidelines and recommendations. Take the bhakti challenge and see your life dramatically improve. Start today with the chanting of the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

In Closing:

The bhakti challenge take,
For better future to make.

Different from rest easy to do,
Like criticizing and following too.

Or questions never to ask,
Consumed by daily repeating task.

Spiritual life difficult for sure,
But rewarded those who endure.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Three Reasons Not To Be Hypocritical In Bhakti

[Krishna's lotus feet]“For sense enjoyment one can act in any capacity of the social order, but if one follows the rules and regulations of his particular status, he can make gradual progress in purifying his existence. But he who makes a show of being a yogi, while actually searching for the objects of sense gratification, must be called the greatest cheater, even though he sometimes speaks of philosophy.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 3.6 Purport)

All saints have a past. All sinners have a future. Thus don’t be too quick to judge someone. Be a little forgiving. To err is human, after all. The Vedas say that there are four general defects in man. I have the tendency to commit mistakes; hence being error-prone. I am easily illusioned; everything is not always as it seems. I have imperfect senses; I can’t see and hear everything. I also cheat; I know that outcomes are not entirely in my hands.

At the same time, they say that the child is the father of man. One day the student will become the teacher. When teaching, the principles are valid independently; they don’t require outside support for understanding. For instance, don’t drink and drive. Intoxication doesn’t mix with the attention required for operating a motor vehicle.

What about hypocrisy? Likely the most vocal teachers of the principle were once violators themselves. I made so many mistakes in the past, so I want others to avoid them if they can. I must be hypocritical to some degree.

Bhakti-yoga is translated as “devotional service.” Another term with the same meaning is bhagavata-dharma. It is the soul’s essential characteristic to serve. That service, dharma, should be to bhagavata, the one who is complete in all fortunes.

Though it is difficult to be truthful and honest in a material existence, the practice of bhakti-yoga should be free of hypocrisy. I should at least try to be truthful to my vows, satya-vrata, and also determined in them, dridha-vrata.

1. Helps to strengthen the message

One aspect to bhakti-yoga is kirtanam. Generally this means “chanting,” but it can also refer to “describing.” Krishna-katha is endless. These are discourses about the Supreme Lord, who is all-attractive. Synonymous terms are Hari-katha and Rama-katha. Goswami Tulsidas says that there are millions of verses describing the glories of Rama, God who is full of transcendental pleasure.

Kirtanam is strengthened by adherence to regulative principles. Again, we can look to the example of drinking and driving. If someone tells me to avoid it but at the same time does what they preach against on a regular basis, the message is hurt a little bit. My attack against their character could be classified as ad hominem, which is actually a fallacy of argument.

Still, there is no denying that the message takes a hit when the person delivering it is hypocritical. The message of a life dedicated to Divine love is the most important, so it is a great shame if others are dissuaded from following that path due to hypocrisy from the teacher.

2. Helps to strengthen personal conviction

No meat eating. No gambling. No intoxication. No illicit sex. The people who taught bhakti-yoga put great emphasis on these restrictions, collectively known as the four regulative principles. I’ve had the reasoning explained to me at length. By following these principles, I will gradually acquire compassion, austerity, cleanliness, and honesty. Who wouldn’t want to be like that?

Still, unless I follow and see for myself, I will never truly understand the purpose. In this sense avoiding hypocrisy helps to strengthen my conviction. The four regulative principles are restrictive, while the recommendation to always chant the holy names is on the positive side. Only if I regularly chant myself will I understand the benefit. Otherwise, I will remain like a crow, trying to pick holes in the argument simply for the reason that I am afraid to make the commitment myself.

3. Good to be honest when serving the Absolute Truth

They say honesty is the best policy, but sometimes it gets you in trouble. Do not tell your wife that the dress makes her look fat. Do not tell your boss what you really think of him. Do not tell the madman wielding an axe where to find the person they are looking for.

As there is duality in this material world, no one condition or principle is absolute. The lone exception is bhakti, which is dedicated to someone often described as the Absolute Truth. This world is like a dream, where there is an experience that feels real, with real emotions. But eventually everything is annihilated. The one truth is the Supreme Lord, who is above maya, or illusion.
[Krishna's lotus feet]We are also sparks of that truth, and so when reconnecting with the Divine, honesty goes a long way. It helps to maintain the link, which is known as yoga. If I am honest with the Absolute Truth, then I will get the full benefit of His mercy, which is already available to everyone.

In Closing:

When of renunciation making a show,
That yogi as pretender to know.

Better hypocritical not to be,
For others best example to see.

Conviction in principles to strengthen,
Effect of message dissemination lengthen.

Supreme Lord as Absolute Truth is known,
Better when to Him honesty is shown.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

From Something As Simple As A Ring

[Sita-Rama]“Taking that ornament worn on the hand of her husband, from viewing it to Janaki it was like obtaining her husband’s company, so she felt delighted.” (Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 36.4)

gṛhītvā prekṣamāṇā sā bhartuḥ kara vibhūṣaṇam |
bhartāram iva samprāptā jānakī muditā abhavat ||

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God is not far, but the task is daunting. How do you find someone you can’t see? How do you believe in their existence when there has yet to be visual evidence? The secret is that the proof is already there; just the eyes have to be purified in order to see it. In the Brahma-samhita we learn that the wise souls have the salve of devotion applied to their eyes, premanjana.

“I worship the primeval Lord, Govinda, who is always seen by the devotee whose eyes are anointed with the pulp of love. He is seen in His eternal form of Shyamasundara situated within the heart of the devotee.” (Brahma-samhita, 5.38)

They see with devotional love, but even seeing the Divine everywhere in His unmanifest form represents elevation of the consciousness. How do you see something that is unmanifest? The wind is invisible, but we know when it is there. Mind, intelligence and ego are within the body, though they are subtle elements. No rational person would dispute their presence.

“The working senses are superior to dull matter; mind is higher than the senses; intelligence is still higher than the mind; and he [the soul] is even higher than the intelligence.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 3.42)

The ultimate invisible force is spirit itself. This is what animates the otherwise dull and lifeless body. We know that the body has those properties due to the chemical reactions after death. The same figure is there, but since the vital life force has left, there is nothing it can do. Decay starts immediately at the end of the life.

That vital force is spirit, which at the individual level is known as jivatma. Jivatma is itself proof of the Divine, for one way to define the indefinable is to know that it is imperishable, without beginning and end. Nothing can be done to kill the spirit soul.

A higher realization is recognizing the presence of Paramatma. This is the plenary expansion of God; just like Him but not the complete feature. Paramatma is within every being as well, seated in the heart next to the individual soul. Paramatma is like the all-pervading, non-judgmental witness. The individual soul makes the decision to act, and the Supersoul gives sanction to the result.

It is something like ordering food in a restaurant. The customer doesn’t actually cook the food. They order from what is on the menu. For material life, the menu items span from the small to the large. All types of enjoyment are available, and just as with the restaurant, there is a limit to the quantity that can be provided; competition is also a factor. An example of conflict in the material realm is applying for a job. Two individuals, both with the Supersoul inside them, choose to apply for a job opening. The Supersoul sanctions the choice, but only one person can find success.

You can see God just by looking outside. The paramanu [atom] is everywhere, so that means that spirit is present even in the matter that we see. The snow on the ground is evidence of a higher power. The many living beings, animate and inanimate, prove that individual spirit exists. The result of decisions made by the many living beings is proof of Paramatma.

From the verse quoted above we get an idea of how to see God the person. This is His original and full feature, also known as Bhagavan. Interestingly, the person seeing here doesn’t have a direct vision. The corporeal form is not in front of her. Of course the term “corporeal” is simply for our understanding. For God there is no difference between matter and spirit. His body is transcendental, so it is not made up of material elements like earth, water and fire.

The person seeing is Janaki, which means “daughter of Janaka.” This references her relation to the king of Videha. Janaki is also known as Sita, and she is the wife of Shri Rama. At this time she is separated from her husband, and she is desperate for a reunion. The love between Sita and Rama cannot be put into words. They are literally one entity, appearing as two. God is always with His energy, who is known as the eternal consort.

Sita has the vision of Rama just by taking an ornament and looking at it. The ornament was previously on the hand of her husband. It is a ring, and it has been brought to her by Hanuman, a courageous hero who has been searching for her at the direction of her husband.

Since the ring is like having Rama with her, Sita is delighted. The same mudita can come to us simply by reading this verse. Just as the ornaments on the transcendental body of God bring His association, the same applies to His holy name. For this reason the saints in the modern day are so adamant about the need to chant the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

[Sita-Rama]The special powers of the ornament have been known ever since the time of Sita and Rama. Today there are many temples dedicated to worship of that couple, or one of their non-different forms like Radha-Krishna and Lakshmi-Vishnu. Various paraphernalia are offered in formal worship, and sometimes afterwards the items are distributed to the adoring public. Getting a flower garland worn by the deities brings an ecstasy to the devotees similar to having the direct association. This is a magical aspect of Vedic culture that has to be experienced to be believed. The experience happens through qualification in the practice of devotion on an ascending trajectory under the guidance of a bona fide spiritual master. The genuine guru can be recognized through dedication to service following in the footsteps of someone like Hanuman.

In Closing:

Proof all around us to see,

As Paramanu everywhere is He.


Just for unmanifest form existence,

Supersoul also showing persistence.


Bhagavan feature with Sita living,

Vision immediately from ring to her giving.


With representative Shri Hanuman came,

From deity items experience the same.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Does Krishna Love Both The Murderer And The Thief

[Lord Krishna]“For our understanding it is sometimes said that the Lord is situated in the heart of the thief as well as in the heart of the householder, but the Supersoul in the heart of the thief dictates, ‘Go and steal things from that particular house,’ and at the same time the Lord tells the householder, ‘Now be careful of thieves and burglars.’ These instructions to different persons appear contradictory, yet we should know that the Supersoul, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, has some plan, and we should not consider such activities contradictory.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 4.17.36 Purport)

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Friend1: I will get straight to it today.

Friend2: Okay.

Friend1: I saw something passing around on the internet, amongst devotees of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Shri Krishna.

Friend2: Is it a meme? One of those pictures with large text written on it, intended to elicit some immediate response?

Friend1: Not quite. It’s more of a list. It definitely makes you think. At least it made me think. That’s why I am bringing it up today.

Friend2: Okay, so what was on the list?

Friend1: Well, let’s start with the premise. It’s not stated in the list, but you can infer. Basically, the leaders of the various institutions managing bhakti-yoga centers and distributing Krishna consciousness throughout the world are too strict. They pass judgment quickly, without considering the consequences. They are not inclusive enough.

[Shrila Prabhupada]Friend2: You can certainly make that argument. It’s been my experience that people in those circles get into arguments very quickly. I am always baffled by it, since I consider it a great blessing from above that there is even one other person in this world practicing bhakti-yoga, who likes to read the books of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. Not that I am a saint or anything, but I try my best to be tolerant and pray that others will be forgiving of my mistakes as well.

Friend1: Yeah, some people have really bad experiences. I’m sure that’s what led to the formation of this list.

Friend2: So it’s a form of rebellion?

Friend1: I’m speculating, but probably. Anyway, on the list are various kinds of people who would be considered deficient or imperfect in the eyes of the leaders of the establishment. The title of the list is something like, “People Who Krishna Loves Anyway.”

Friend2: Interesting. Do you make the list?

Friend1: Funny. People who can’t follow all of the regulative principles. People who haven’t shaved their head. Situations where the husband is formally initiated, while the wife is not, or vice versa. People who haven’t attended a weekly gathering in a while but want to start going again. People who are still attached to the religion inherited from their parents.

Friend2: And the idea is that Krishna, or God, still loves these people, despite their faults?

Friend1: Exactly. Faults from the perspective of the leaders. Basically, the oddballs. The ones who aren’t normal.

Friend2: I see.

Friend1: What is your opinion of such a list?

Friend2: First, let me ask for yours.

Friend1: I tend to agree with it. It’s depressing that such a list needs to be made, but of course the Supreme Lord loves and appreciates anyone who is genuinely trying to reconnect with Him. I second your sentiment, where we should be happy that we can find like-minded people in this world. In ages past, it wasn’t as easy.

Friend2: I completely agree with you, but I would add one thing. The premise is somewhat incomplete.

Friend1: What do you mean?

Friend2: Krishna automatically loves everyone. And by everyone, you have to think of the full spectrum of life and behavior.

Friend1: Beyond the human being?

Friend2: That too, but also the worst of the worst. Murderers, thieves, liars, cheaters. Krishna loves them all. He is in the heart of every living being as the Supersoul. There is the verse in the Bhagavad-gita where He describes that the living entities are like seated on a machine, while the Supersoul is directing everything.

“The Supreme Lord is situated in everyone's heart, O Arjuna, and is directing the wanderings of all living entities, who are seated as on a machine, made of the material energy.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 18.61)

Friend1: Well, I know that Krishna is within everyone. But how does He love both the thief and the murderer? That doesn’t make sense. The behaviors are contradictory. Isn’t God synonymous with pious behavior?

Friend2: He is there with them as the Supersoul. That is the love. He is a neutral party. He fulfills desires. If the thief wants to steal, Krishna provides the intelligence from within. If the householder, the potential victim, wants to protect themselves, Krishna is also there to provide intelligence.

Friend1: Okay, but then how does anything get resolved? I thought Krishna takes the side of the good.

Friend2: Those who wish to connect directly with Him get a special benediction. That unique circumstance is beautifully symbolized in the Bhagavad-gita. Krishna was not a direct participant in the Bharata War. He did not directly choose sides. Arjuna asked for His guidance, though. That’s when the Supreme Lord stepped out of His position of neutrality. That’s why Arjuna and the Pandavas emerged victorious. More important than winning the war was slashing the doubts borne of ignorance. Krishna gave the key to open the door to eternal, blissful life.

Friend1: I’ve forgotten about the list, already. Oh, so you’re saying the list isn’t really necessary?

Friend2: It is a great reminder to anyone causing trouble, who wants to exclude people from trying bhakti-yoga in earnest. But yeah, the presence of the Supersoul everywhere automatically establishes the universal loving position of the Supreme Lord. As He says in the Bhagavad-gita, when there is devotion, that person becomes a friend. That’s when the situation changes.

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

Friend1: Okay, so could you say that the list is in terms of comparing level of friendship? Basically, Krishna is as friendly towards the deficient devotee as He is towards the advanced?

[Lord Krishna]Friend2: Oh, for sure. That’s a great point, in fact. He loves the sweeper in the temple as much as the guru sitting on the seat of Vyasadeva. There is no doubt about it. It’s all about authenticity in sentiment. The neophyte who is genuine will eventually correct whatever faults they may have. Okay, so I see what you are saying now. That list makes sense in that respect.

In Closing:

Inside of thief bent on sin,

Householder protecting also him.


Supreme Lord giving love to all,

But only in devotion friend to call.


From neutrality stepping away,

Directing towards success’s way.


Sweeper in the temple just as dear,

As guru providing wisdom clear.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

I Shall Return From Out Of The Fire

[Krishna swallowing forest fire]“Seeing His devotees so disturbed, Shri Krishna, the infinite Lord of the universe and possessor of infinite power, then swallowed the terrible forest fire.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 10.17.25)

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Earth, water, fire, air and ether. These are the five gross elements of the material world. Coming in different proportions and combinations, they cover the otherwise spotless spirit soul. That soul is jivatma, which means it is localized and given independence with respect to association. It can turn towards the Divine light or fall into the well of darkness.

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

The subtle elements combine with the gross elements to create the temporary body for the jivatma. The exact combination of gross elements influences attributes like intelligence, height, strength, and beauty. The various attributes tied to an individual, of any species, are based on the makeup of the material elements. Some species have more air than others. Thus they are able to fly. Some have properties allowing them to live in the water. In some species there is more fire.

Despite the covering, the elements are material and have nothing to do with the spirit soul. While conditioned, the jivatma may not be able to transcend the elements, but for a different kind of spirit there is actually no dichotomy. His body and soul are identical. There are no material elements with Him. The distinction applies only for the jivatmas.

He is thus known as Paramatma. He is one soul, though appearing inside of every living being. He is in my heart right now, alongside the soul which identifies me. Indeed, whenever the word “me” is there, soul is automatically implied. Paramatma is inside of you as well. Though He appears divided, He is one.

Material elements like air and water do not affect Paramatma. This is easy to accept in theory, but more difficult to believe in concept. To help there is the incarnation, the manifest version of Paramatma. Since it is an individual with identifiable features, the name for this aspect of the Divine is Bhagavan.

[Lord Krishna]We have a story from the life of Bhagavan Krishna that proves He is above the material elements. Though He looked like a young and beautiful boy to His friends, parents and relatives, Krishna always retained His position as the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

One time in Vrindavana a forest fire threatened to kill many people. It was the middle of the night, and the fire took everyone by surprise. There was no time to think. There was no means of escape. Full surrender to Krishna was the only option. The very concept of sharanagati was materializing before everyone. They asked Krishna to save them.

The Supreme Lord, whose body is never made up of material elements, easily devoured the entire forest fire. The material element in great abundance that could apply lethal force went into the mouth of Krishna without issue. Having just been inside the ring of fire, He and His devotees emerged unscathed.

[Krishna swallowing forest fire]In the same way, the constant flow of desires is a kind of raging fire. You buy one stock, watch its price, and wait to sell at the appropriate time. If you make a profit, you’re looking to make even more with the next investment. If you lose money, you’re desperate to find a way to regain what you lost. This kind of cycle repeats, month after month, year after year. It continues into the next lifetime, even, for the consciousness at the time of death determines the circumstances of the next birth.

“Whatever state of being one remembers when he quits his body, that state he will attain without fail.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 8.6)

Krishna saved the residents of Vrindavana from the blazing fire, and for those about to be consumed by the fire of kama, or material desire, full reliance on Him will give protection as well. Bhakti is the answer to every problem. The principle looks simplistic on the surface, but implementation is difficult. The best way to start and stay on the path to spiritual freedom is the chanting of the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

In Closing:

Imminent death presumed,

Since fire coming to consume.


No escape, no other option to try,

Only on Shri Krishna to rely.


Soon after the danger without,

As flames easily into His mouth.


If by fire of kama now burning,

Rescue when to bhakti turning.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Five Of The Best Examples Given By The Vedas

[Yashoda chasing Krishna]“Mother Yashoda chased Him to all corners, trying to capture the Supreme Personality of Godhead who is never approached even by the meditations of great yogis. In other words, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna, who is never caught by the yogis and speculators, was playing just like a little child for a great devotee like mother Yashoda.” (Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 1, Ch 9)

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Theory is nice. You can conceptualize things. You get an idea of what is possible, in every direction. After all, the human being is in the dark when first emerging from the womb. It can barely do anything. Walking, talking, eating, moving, reasoning - these happen by experience.

Theory is based on principles, and those principles come from both descending authoritative word and personal experience. If no one tells me about the seasons, if I am paying enough attention after a few years I will figure out that it is cold in January and warm in July. The same information could have been accepted from someone else, an authority figure.

The Vedas are the knowledge that comes from authority in a descending chain. Consulting the Vedas is the way to save significant time, for there is a race to the finish as soon as birth occurs. Death is guaranteed; nothing can be done to prevent it once birth takes place.

“For one who has taken his birth, death is certain; and for one who is dead, birth is certain. Therefore, in the unavoidable discharge of your duty, you should not lament.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.27)

Before that unknown time arrives, becoming enlightened is beneficial. Then you can make the best use of the human form of body, which the Vedas declare to be the most auspicious. Thankfully, the Vedas provide more than just theoretical information. Mixed in with the philosophy are sterling examples of the best of everything.

1. Son

Birth happens through the efforts of the parents. A child doesn’t magically appear. Pregnancy is not like catching a cold. Once the child is born, how should it behave? What is the ideal way? Should the parents eventually be ignored? Should the child remain forever dependent?

The Vedas say that the aim of the human life is to become God conscious. In the Shrimad Bhagavatam there is the teaching that one should not become a person of authority, responsible for another, unless they are able to deliver their dependents from the cycle of birth and death.

From this we can deduce that it is the job of the parents to make their children God conscious. The children hopefully will do the same. The Sanskrit word for son is putra. The root meaning to this word is “one who delivers from hell.” The idea is that if the father is really sinful, by the son making offerings in an authorized, religious way after the father has passed on, the father will be saved from suffering for those sins. It is a kind of reward after-the-fact for having raised a pious son.

The Vedas give many examples of great sons. Shri Krishna acted as the perfect son to mother Yashoda and Nanda Maharaja in Vrindavana. This was a special circumstance, where God Himself played the role of putra. This meant that the parents automatically were fully God conscious, just through their parental affection.

Krishna was not always well-behaved. Sometimes He would steal butter from the homes of the neighbors. This wasn’t like going into the fridge, as Vrindavana was a rural community dependent on cow protection. The mothers in the neighboring homes would keep stocks of butter in different rooms. Krishna and His friends would hatch elaborate schemes to break and enter and enjoy the supply. Through adorable pastimes such as these, not only were the parents of Krishna benefitted, but so were the parents of other children in the community.

2. Mother

The father should be God conscious, and so should the mother. Yashoda had so much affection for Krishna that she never stopped thinking of Him. She worked the entire day, helping the family at home. While working, she would compose songs about her amazing child and His activities.

[Yashoda chasing Krishna]Yet she wasn’t one to spoil Krishna, either. One time He broke a pot of butter in anger, and so Yashoda chased after Him. After Krishna was caught Yashoda tied Him to a mortar as punishment. From that motherly affection Krishna earned the named Damodara.

3. Guru

The aim of the human birth is to become God conscious, but how will that happen unless there is instruction? We can’t learn to speak, read and write properly unless someone teaches us. In the same way, there is the spiritual master, or guru, who carries information of spirit. The formal acceptance of training from the guru is known as the second birth. The first is from the parents. The second is more important, as it signals the departure from the animal way of life.

Who is the best guru? Is there a way to tell, objectively? The Vedas provide many examples. One is Narada Muni. An obvious candidate for a sterling guru would be one who teaches many people. What better way to reach people than by travelling? Narada is fortunate in that he is compelled to go from place to place, not staying anywhere for more than three days. This is the result of a curse he received from Daksha, one of the progenitors of man.

Narada’s disciples are like the best of the best in terms of Vedic scholars, writers and teachers. Originally, the Vedas are one, known as the Veda. They are divided and expanded upon in literature by a person named Vyasadeva. For this he is also known as Veda Vyasa. Vyasadeva’s guru is Narada.

There is also the famous Ramayana, which describes the life and pastimes of Shri Rama, an incarnation of God appearing on earth. The author of the Ramayana is Valmiki. His guru is also Narada. Sometimes even the bad guys are manipulated in the right direction by Narada, to fulfill the Divine destiny. This happened with the king of Mathura, Kamsa. In every way Narada’s association is auspicious.

4. Wife

One of Narada’s unofficial disciples is Parvati, the daughter of the mountain king. In her previous life she was Sati, whose name means “chaste.” A daughter to Daksha, Sati one time could not bear an insult her father directed at Shiva, her husband. She was so upset that she voluntarily entered fire and ended her life. In the subsequent birth she was known as Parvati, and it was her destiny to marry Shiva.

Parvati’s parents learned of this when Narada happened to visit their home. He revealed the future of the beloved daughter. The parents were a little upset at first, but Parvati took the words to heart. She left for the forest to practice amazing austerities, essentially qualifying herself to be married to Shiva.

From Parvati, we get an example of the best kind of wife. She is forever devoted to her husband, who always speaks to her about the glories of Rama. She is like his disciple, and the two live very happily together. Parvati also works, managing the fort-like material creation; a role for which she is known as Durga. But she never acts independently. Everything she does is for the benefit of her husband and the person her husband worships constantly.

5. Materialist

The Vedas also give examples of the best of the worst. Today there is the common caricature of the wealthy businessman. All they care about is money. Having one large home is not enough. They have to have multiple properties. The private jet has gold throughout. Only the most beautiful woman will suffice for a wife. If her beauty starts to fade, divorce her and find another, younger woman as a replacement.

We have some examples from the modern day, but the Vedas give the best examples in Hiranyakashipu and Ravana. They were from different time periods, but the underlying mentality was the same. They were both consumed with material power and enjoying the senses. They viewed God the person as the greatest enemy. Indeed, both were originally devotees from the spiritual world who descended to the land of birth and death to play the role of villain perfectly.

From their example we see that there is practically no limit to material opulence. At the same time, there is also limitless anxiety. Neither man was ever at peace. Hiranyakashipu was so scared by his five year old son, who happened to be a devotee of Vishnu. Ravana lost everything by chasing after a married woman.

These examples help the bewildered mind get an idea of what is possible in life. Just as important as whom to emulate is whom to avoid. Be more like Parvati and Yashoda and less like Ravana. Respect a guru like Narada and avoid the counsel of the evil, who can never liberate anyone.

In Closing:

More than just in theory exercise,

Vedas examples of best provide.


Son, father and mother,

Even materialists like no other.


Parvati most ideal wife,

To Shiva dedicating her life.


Human birth for liberation meant,

For that saints like Narada sent.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Three Reasons Jatayu’s Effort Did Not Go In Vain

[Jatayu fighting Ravana]“Being thus informed, the grandson of King Vena immediately began to follow Indra, who was fleeing through the sky in great haste. He was very angry with him, and he chased him just as the king of the vultures chased Ravana.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 4.19.16)

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From the Vedas we find the best of everything. Son, father, brother, writer, spiritual guide - whatever the commonly known category there is an example set, a story told of the shreshtha, the best. This applies even to bad characters. From the Ramayana we hear of Ravana. The ten-headed one had a terrifying scream, and more significantly a fighting prowess that could not be matched. There was an exception with the Vanara named Vali, but then Ravana decided to make friends after assessing the strength on the opposition.

Ravana was not only the most powerful materialist and king wielding tremendous influence throughout the world, he was also the worst kind of person. Though boasting of his victories over many rival kings, Ravana did not have the courage to take on Shri Rama, who was merely a prince living in the austere setting of the forest of Dandaka. Ravana wanted Rama’s wife Sita for himself, so he devised a plan of trickery to accomplish his task.

He seemed to get away with it, taking Sita while no one was looking. There was some initial opposition, though. It came from an unlikely source. The best of the vultures, Jatayu, was friendly with Rama’s father, King Dasharatha of Ayodhya. Jatayu put up a fight to stop Ravana, but success didn’t come. Ravana escaped and Jatayu eventually died from the wounds inflicted. Yet just because there was defeat doesn’t mean that the valiant effort went in vain.

1. Sita’s ornaments fell to the ground

Ravana took Sita away in a special aerial car named Pushpaka. This previously belonged to Kuvera, a demigod who was living in Lanka. Kuvera was Ravana’s half-brother, and Ravana showed him no affection. Kuvera fled Lanka in fear of Ravana and left the aerial car behind.

Sita did not go quietly with Ravana, who had first assumed a false guise to trick her into being friendly. Sita’s husband Rama was diverted from the hermitage through Ravana’s associate named Maricha, who came in the false form of a deer. Lakshmana later left after Sita lashed out at him for not helping his brother.

From the Shrimad Bhagavatam we learn that this practice of pretending to be in the renounced order of life goes back a long way. There is an incident involving Indra, the king of heaven. Jealous of the hundredth sacrifice of King Prithu, Indra disguised himself and came to earth. He stole the horse that was intended for the sacrifice, and when caught and facing punishment, he assumed the false guise of a mendicant religious man.

[Jatayu fighting Ravana]Ravana mimicked that tactic in his plan to take Sita. As he was flying away in the aerial car, there was the struggle with Jatayu. The vulture eventually took all of Ravana’s focus. After his victory, Ravana sped off in the aerial car with Sita. Since he was in such a hurry, he did not notice Sita’s ornaments that were dropped in the area where the Vanaras lived. These ornaments would prove vital in the future. They would help in the formation of the alliance between Rama and Sugriva, the king of the Vanaras. Those ornaments would also help Hanuman in his search for Sita.

2. He saw Rama at the time of death

In searching for Sita, Rama and Lakshmana later came across Jatayu. This was just at the moment that the vulture was passing from this world, to the next life. As is described in the Bhagavad-gita, whatever state of being one remembers at the time of death, that state they will attain without fail [8.6].

Consciousness is the key to the state of being, and the consciousness at the time of death is the most important. Jatayu got the wonderful benediction of seeing God’s beautiful face while ready to depart for the next life. As a result, he was granted liberation, or release from the cycle of birth and death. If Jatayu had not fought valiantly against Ravana, this benediction may not have been received.

3. The effort became synonymous with a heroic chase

As mentioned previously, King Indra one time stole the sacrificial horse of King Prithu. The king’s son then chased after Indra to get it back. The Bhagavatam actually makes reference to Jatayu in one of the verses describing the chase. It is said that the son of King Prithu chased after Indra in the same way that Jatayu chased after Ravana. From this we learn that Jatayu’s effort has been immortalized. He gives proof to the promise that no effort in devotional service goes to waste. The Supreme Lord is appreciative of any work done in His honor, whether large or small.

In Closing:

Not required order tall,

Appreciated effort even small.


Jatayu not able to overcome,

Ravana away with Sita to run.


Still not a wasted effort being,

Rama’s face at death’s time seeing.


Synonymous with heroic chase became,

Prithu’s son after Indra in way the same.