Saturday, April 8, 2017

Five Examples Of Help To God Coming From Outside The Human Race

[Vasudeva crossing Yamuna]“Because of constant rain sent by the demigod Indra, the River Yamuna was filled with deep water, foaming about with fiercely whirling waves. But as the great Indian Ocean had formerly given way to Lord Ramachandra by allowing Him to construct a bridge, the River Yamuna gave way to Vasudeva and allowed him to cross.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 10.3.50)

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“I don’t have what it takes. I understand that the human birth is meant for spiritual understanding. Athato brahma-jijnasa. Now is the time for inquiring into Brahman, which is the spiritual energy. Actually, I’ve heard Brahman described in three different ways. It is everything that exists, both spiritual and material. Brahman generally refers to the spiritual beings, the living entities. The material side to Brahman is the mahat-tattva. Brahman is also a feature of the Supreme Lord.

“Yes, the three definitions are essentially identical. Though I am spiritual in nature, I am in illusion right now. I can’t even adhere to a diet to maintain good health. It’s like I am drawn to bad behavior. How will I ever be successful in this lifetime? I don’t think I have the proper qualification.”

It is understandable to lament in this way, but the opportunity for devotional service is there for everyone. The lack of jnana [knowledge] or vairagya [renunciation] is not an automatic disqualification. Indeed, help to the Supreme Lord has come from outside the human race as well. Anyone can offer service and thus make themselves dear to the person whose opinion counts most.

1. Garuda

He is the eagle carrier of Lord Vishnu. Brahman is the realization of the Divine where you see the all-pervading spiritual energy. Paramatma is a more defined feature, where you see a personal aspect of God within all beings. Bhagavan is the full feature, where God is a unique and distinct personality. He is equal to the living entities in spiritual quality, but His capabilities are greater to a magnitude inconceivable. This simultaneous oneness and difference is described as achintya-bhedabheda-tattva by Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.

Generally, if a person is non-violent they become dear to God. It makes sense. If you are a good person, the person who is pure goodness will have a high opinion of you. What about if you eat snakes? Can you become dear to God?

From the example of Garuda, we see that even a non-vegetarian diet is not automatic cause for exclusion. Garuda is in the body type of an eagle, after all. Still, he has the high post of flying Vishnu to wherever He needs to go. Vishnu is one form of Bhagavan. Some of the other forms are Krishna, Rama, and Narasimha. The idea is that Bhagavan is an all-attractive personality, and He has different forms that appeal to the different moods of worship available in a direct relationship with Him.

2. Jatayu

Another member from the bird family, Jatayu is a vulture. He is famous from the Ramayana, which describes Bhagavan in His form of Shri Rama, the prince of Ayodhya. A vulture is generally considered a low creature. The vultures swoop in when there is a carcass. You typically can’t talk to a vulture, either.

Jatayu is actually a hero. When Rama’s wife Sita was being taken away against her will by the wicked king of Lanka, the best of vultures stepped in. Though he ultimately lost the fight to Ravana, while about to quit his body Jatayu actually met eyes with Shri Rama. In this way he had the perfect death, being perfectly conscious of God.

3. Sugriva

After losing Sita, Rama went looking for her. He found Jatayu on the way, as the vulture was about to die. Next Rama made friends with Vanaras living in Kishkindha. The literal definition to the Sanskrit word is “forest dweller.” From the Ramayana we can decipher that the Vanaras were like monkeys, since words like kapi and hari are also used.

Sugriva was the king of the Vanaras and he became friends with Rama. He offered assistance in the search for Sita. Sugriva was not only a monkey, but one devoid of his family and kingdom. Destitution and birth in a lower race were not hindrances to direct service to the Supreme Lord.

4. The ocean

Water is a material element, so how can it possibly do anything? Action implies intelligence. The Vedas teach that even the material elements have living beings in charge. It seems like mythology, but there is no other way to explain how objects operate collectively on time and with predictable properties. There is the Supersoul [Paramatma] within each atom, paramanu. Matter is simply a collection of many atoms.

Rama and Sugriva’s group were ready to rescue Sita, who was on the island of Lanka. The ocean stood in their way. They needed to get across. The ocean kindly obliged by allowing rocks to float. The Vanaras then brought many rocks to create a bridge for Rama and everyone to cross by foot.

5. Yamuna

Many years later the same Rama incarnated on earth as Shri Krishna. Immediately after appearing from the womb of Devaki, Krishna ordered the father Vasudeva to take Him to the nearby town of Gokula. Vasudeva agreed, and in the middle of the night there was a great rainstorm. Also, there was the Yamuna River standing in between.

[Vasudeva crossing Yamuna]From the Shrimad Bhagavatam we learn that the Yamuna, which is actually a goddess, made way for Vasudeva to pass. The help was similar to how the ocean offered service to Rama. Ananta Shesha Naga, the serpent bed for Lord Vishnu in Vaikuntha, also offered assistance by acting as an umbrella for the newborn.

In Closing:

Birth in non-human species found,

Not meaning that only to ignorance bound.


Service possible still to try,

Like Garuda with Vishnu to fly.


Jatayu against the ten-headed,

Vasudeva through fierce rain dreaded.


From anyone Bhagavan ready to accept,

Sincere service never to reject.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Five Protracted Forms Of Duhkha

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

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One side is upset with the election results. They can’t believe who the new president is going to be. “Not my president” is their slogan, even though it has as much meaning as saying man isn’t going to die or that the sky isn’t blue.

The other side is upset with the protests. The issue is with the disagreement. They can’t understand why someone wouldn’t be happy with the change in leadership. “How does no one see what has been going on for so many years,” is the question they keep asking.

Another person is upset that they don’t have enough. Another person is troubled by all the money that they do have; not knowing how it should be spent or where to find happiness. Seeing the tragedies around the world and the general lack of happiness, a person has a difficult time believing in God. “If He really exists, how could He allow all of this to happen?”

From a higher understanding, these distresses, which are known as duhkha in Sanskrit, are really no different than the prick felt from a pin. Duhkha exists in this world, and sometimes it is in a protracted form. The magnitude is determined by the length of time and perceived impact.


Post-traumatic stress disorder. You see something terrible happen, like soldiers killed on a battlefield. This is not normal. One minute you were talking to your friend and the next they are gone forever. How can something like that happen?

This extended form of duhkha is difficult to drive away. The trauma is there for a long period of time, and it affects every aspect of life. Nothing is ever the same again.

2. Depression

This is duhkha of the mind. In Sanskrit the category of misery is adhyatmika. The combination of gross and subtle covering that is the body can cause so much trouble. Eat the wrong thing and you get sick. Don’t eat enough and you won’t feel well as a result.

In depression there is a prolonged period of sadness. Sometimes there is no cause, while other times the culprit is failure, defeat, or lack of hope for the future. Depression can get so bad that it claims the life of the victim.

3. Harsh winter

This comes from the category of misery known as adhidaivika. The devas, or heavenly figures, are in charge of material nature. Sandwiched between the events of birth and death, which themselves represent duality, are conditions in duality. The rain arrives to nourish the crops, but it also causes distress to the commuters. One person is happy to land a job, while another is upset that they were denied.

[winter weather]The winter is an extended period of duhkha, where the cold temperatures are not welcome. Neither are the snowstorms and general lack of sunlight.

4. Harsh summer

This is another misery caused by mother nature and her superintendents. It is the complete opposite of the previously mentioned misery. In the harsh summer, the temperatures soar to unbearable levels. Without air conditioning, it is difficult to stay cool. Just imagine that some places in the world don’t even have electricity. Somehow the people manage.

5. Birth in a lower species

From Vedic philosophy we learn that an existence is meant for serving God, happily. There is pleasure that results. The magnitude of the happiness is beyond measure. It is more than just sukha, which is the opposite of duhkha. As Shri Krishna states in the Bhagavad-gita, happiness and distress come and go like the winter and summer seasons.

Taking birth in a non-human species is a kind of misery. The duration can be quite long. Just consider the plight of the tree. It stands naked and tall for many years. It tolerates everything coming against it. From the blowing of the wind, the changing of seasons, to the arrival of the axe to cut it down, the tree does not protest.

Only in the human life is there the opportunity to contemplate the swinging of sukha and duhkha. The idea is to try to rise above. Don’t get dismayed over the changes. Don’t get bewildered by even the protracted forms of distress, which will get erased in due course of time. Punishment to a lower species even has a remedy eventually. The spirit soul continues in the evolutionary journey, coming back to a more auspicious body.

We are fortunate since that kind of body is already ours. The human being has the chance to understand God. Part of that understanding is knowing the temporary nature of happiness and distress. Permanent happiness is found in the shelter of the Divine, who can be known through consulting sadhu, shastra and guru. The saintly person, the scriptural works, and the spiritual master all say the same thing: be devoted to God the person and rise out of ignorance.

[Krishna's lotus feet]In the present time period the path has been made easier. If you’re distressed, bewildered, or depressed, you can rise above through a sacred sound. Chant the maha-mantra: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. If you are so inclined, read the Bhagavad-gita. Learn of Arjuna’s plight. See how he remedied the duhkha of starting a war and seeing the future of mass deaths. See how he found the highest happiness again by directly engaging in service to the Supreme Lord, Shri Krishna.

In Closing:

On battlefield in distress to be,

From future mass deaths to see.


Learning for changes to tolerate,

That instruction worries to ameliorate.


In this world different forms just,

With time to eventually fade trust.


Better to make the most and God find,

In His shelter live with peace of mind.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Three Things That Should Have Majority Influence Over The Consciousness

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

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“Brain space. It seems like there is only so much of it. For some people, multitasking is easy. It’s like they are happier when there is chaos. When everything is quiet, when there is calm, they are not at peace. They would rather be in the thick of battle, tackling many problems at once.

“For me, it is the opposite. There is only so much my mind can handle. I would love to get rid of certain thoughts. The negative ones; stuff that bogs me down. I’d rather not be consumed by the fire of greed, envy, and other negative emotions.”

In Vedic teachings, consciousness is everything. It is what determined the circumstances of the present birth. It determines the nature of living going forward. At the end of life, the consciousness is measured by the higher authorities, who are in charge of nature and its functioning, which is predictable, reliable, and scientifically understood.

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

Consciousness is important, and it can be shaped. When we attend a fair featuring many companies, there is competition for attention. Each company wants to make a sale, and so they compete with each other to gain majority influence over the potential buyer.

In the same way, there is competition for the consciousness. Kama tends to have a stranglehold, starting from the time of birth. In the Bhagavad-gita, Shri Krishna declares kama, which translates as “lust,” to be the all-devouring enemy of this world. The statement is in response to Arjuna’s question about people behaving sinfully even when they know better.

The more kama becomes a minority as a stakeholder in the consciousness, the better off the individual is. Of course, the question remains the replacement. Diminish kama, but replace it with something more beneficial.

1. Jnana

This Sanskrit word means “knowledge.” The developed consciousness is advantageous for this particular area. The differentiation with the animal species is from the consciousness. The tree barely has any consciousness, and the animals a little more so. Still, there is a limitation on jnana. The animals learn a little, but never to the point of understanding their real identity, the nature around them, or the purpose of life.

Jnana comes from the Vedas. The study of Vedic philosophy is known as Vedanta, which means the end of knowledge. Not the end in terms of a movie completing, but rather reaching the final stage, where every other piece of information learned gets put together. It’s like getting the last piece of the puzzle.

2. Vairagya

This Sanskrit word means “renunciation.” Kama is like a fire, and the more you feed it the greater it becomes in intensity. Think gambling. You place one wager. If you win, you want to continue forward to make more. If you lose, you want to try again to erase the loss. The same applies in eating, as one slice of pizza is not enough. A few drinks get you buzzed, so maybe a few more will have you feeling even better.

Vairagya is coupled with jnana. You use your knowledge to voluntarily practice renunciation. It is not a form of punishment, either. You are staying renounced in order to experience more pleasure. Vairagya is the natural reaction to too much kama. I have enjoyed so much, but I’ve become entangled as a result. Therefore let me live more simply.

Tapasya is also important. It is penance and austerity; included in the broader category of renunciation. Tapasya is the way to formally renounce, to follow a kind of plan, established by higher authorities. The human being can practice tapasya, and there is tremendous benefit as a result.

3. Bhakti

This Sanskrit word means love and devotion. Bhakti is always there. It is the very dharma of the soul; the essential characteristic of the essential ingredient of life. Without spirit, there is no question of life. Death means the absence of a fragment of spirit from a place where it once was.

Bhakti should have majority influence over the consciousness. The stake can even be at one hundred percent without negative consequences. The reason is that bhakti automatically includes everything previously mentioned. There is desire in bhakti. It is like a purified version of kama. The difference is the beneficiary. In kama you are working to please the senses, which become further entangled. In bhakti you are working to please the Supreme Spirit. A natural byproduct, the side benefit, is renunciation.

[Lord Krishna]Bhakti is also symptomatic of jnana. A person who knows that God is Supreme, a person, and should be served without motivation and interruption already knows everything needed to be known. They don’t require knowledge of different aspects of the material world. Everything needed to survive, to continue in their bhakti life, is provided for by the object of their service and His associates.

In Closing:

From tasks difficulties to face,

Occupying all of brain’s space.


When properly to clear away,

What then as majority to stay?


Jnana for human birth unique,

Renunciation for pleasure to seek.


Bhakti even completely can occupy,

Everything provided when on Him to rely.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

What Is Your Best Argument Against The Caste System

[Haridasa Thakura]“Ultimately the aim of varnashrama-dharma is to turn a crude man into a pure devotee of the Lord, or a Vaishnava. Anyone, therefore, who becomes a Vaishnava accepted by the first-class Vaishnava, or uttama-adhikari Vaishnava, is already considered a brahmana, regardless of his birth or past deeds. Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu accepted this principle and recognized Shrila Haridasa Thakura as the acharya of the holy name, although Thakura Haridasa appeared in a Mohammedan family.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 1.2.2 Purport)

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Friend1: The four varnas.

Friend2: Don’t forget the four ashramas, too.

Friend1: Varnashrama-dharma.

Friend2: Yes. That is a better definition for what commonly passes as “Hinduism.”

Friend1: Right. I’ve heard it said that you can’t really define Hinduism.

Friend2: It’s become more of a cultural thing. I have my faith. You have yours. But if you look at the Vedas, the books on which Hinduism is based, there is no mention of a specific faith. The truths are presented in a scientific way. “The soul does this. The body is like that. The soul moves here. The different planets come and go. Happiness and sadness.” And as you began this conversation, the different occupations for man.

Friend1: I like that it is beyond dogmatic insistence. It’s not just, “Follow me or you’re doomed.”

Friend2: Right. It’s more like, “Wake up, man. See what is really going on. You’re already in a tough spot. As a spiritual individual, life is meant to be much better. Here is how to escape from illusion.”

Friend1: Alright, let’s focus on the first part of varnashrama-dharma.

Friend2: Varna? That Sanskrit word means “color.” For this context, it refers to an occupation. It’s something you do. The determination is made from guna and karma, which are quality and work, respectively.

“According to the three modes of material nature and the work ascribed to them, the four divisions of human society were created by Me. And, although I am the creator of this system, you should know that I am yet the non-doer, being unchangeable.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.13)

[Lord Krishna]Friend1: Okay, so that is the point of debate, I guess. You said karma, which makes sense. I can’t be a priest unless I know how to do priestly duties. But you also mentioned guna, which are material qualities. Those appear at the time of birth, do they not?

Friend2: Yes.

Friend1: So how can someone not born a brahmana become one? If I don’t have the qualities of a leader, I’d make a pretty bad general in an army. You see how some people are naturally gifted for business. They are always thinking of expanding profits. They don’t get dispirited at a downturn in fortune. They have no problem lying to potential customers about the actual profit margin.

Friend2: Well, of course the gunas arrive at the time of birth. The gunas are what cover the individual, who is spirit soul at the core. Krishna explains that at the time of death the living entity carries his mentality into the next life. The travel of the subtle body (mind, intelligence, and false ego) is like the air carrying aromas. Then another gross body comes in the next life.

“The living entity, thus taking another gross body, obtains a certain type of ear, tongue, and nose and sense of touch, which are grouped about the mind. He thus enjoys a particular set of sense objects.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 15.9)

Friend1: So isn’t that an argument in favor of the caste system, where varna is determined by heredity?

Friend2: Not at all.

Friend1: Why not?

Friend2: The qualities can come to any person, in any circumstance. You see athletes whose children are also athletes. You also see athletes with children who have no athletic ability whatsoever. The occupation of the parents isn’t guaranteed to be passed down to future generations.

Friend1: Okay, that’s one argument. Do you have any others? You realize that the people supporting the caste system will say that others do have an opportunity for upward mobility; it just doesn’t come in this lifetime. If they follow their prescribed duties inherited from the parents, then in the next life, upon rebirth, they get a better opportunity. Advancement takes place, but in a different way.

Friend2: There is truth to the idea of moving up in successive births. You can go from the mode of ignorance to the mode of passion, and then goodness. But that doesn’t mean that only genetics play a role in the gunas at the time of birth.

Friend1: How do you know that, though?

Friend2: There are many examples, from both today and history. I’ve already explained that you see people whose qualities are different from their parents. From the past there is the example of Prahlada Maharaja. He was born in a Daitya family. This is literally a race of demons. They were all bad characters. They were against God. But Prahlada had completely different qualities. Krishna even says that among the Daityas, He is Prahlada.

“Among the Daitya demons I am the devoted Prahlada; among subduers I am time; among the beasts I am the lion, and among birds I am Garuda, the feathered carrier of Vishnu.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 10.30)

If someone within the race of horrible people can be a representation of the Supreme Lord, what does that tell you about your caste system by birth?

Friend1: That’s a good point.

[Haridasa Thakura]Friend2: There’s also the example of Haridasa Thakura. He was born in a Muslim family. He got so much hell from the authorities for practicing devotion to Krishna. He was so humble, accepting whatever came his way. He didn’t hold a grudge. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu declared him to be the namacharya, which is the foremost teacher on the chanting of the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

Friend1: These are very good arguments. Just because I am a doctor doesn’t mean my son becomes one automatically. He has to undergo the proper training. I’ve heard that argument, as well.

Friend2: Right. Totally makes sense.

Friend1: What would you say is the best argument? To the person who insists that people not born into a caste can enter into it.

Friend2: Well, you’re never going to convince those people. And it doesn’t matter, really. If someone is steeped in ignorance, it’s not my duty to get them out of it. If they are open to hearing logic, reasoning and quotes from shastra, then they are fortunate.

Friend1: Okay, let’s say you are speaking to someone with an open mind. They’re unsure about the issue. What would you say to them?

Friend2: The best argument is prasadam.

Friend1: The Lord’s mercy? What do you mean?

Friend2: Prasadam and tirthas. People honor prasadam as sacred. It is food offered to the Supreme Lord with love and devotion. It starts out as material elements. But the mood of the preparer and the manner in which it is placed in front of the deity transform it.

Friend1: Yes.

Friend2: Tirthas are nothing more than earth. They are places on earth; i.e. land. Yet people travel from far away to visit. They feel a spiritual infusion as a result of the physical association. They feel a sense of peace. They know there is a benefit to visiting these places.

Friend1: Oh, for sure. The spiritual tourism industry exists for this very reason.

Friend2: So if food can become sacred when associated with Krishna, why not a person? If land suddenly becomes important since it was long ago touched by the lotus feet of the transcendental body of God the person, why isn’t the person who wears the symbol of the footprint of the Divine on their forehead considered sacred? If a person offers up their entire life to serving God, why does it matter what caste they were born into?

Friend1: Wow. Yeah, you can’t argue against that.

Friend2: Of course, there should be sincerity. There are cheaters everywhere, even among those wearing tilaka. The principle is still valid. Rama did not care that Hanuman was in a monkey body. Krishna offered the jewel of Vedic wisdom to someone in the warrior caste. Whatever occupation you are in, just find a way to use your work for pleasing God. It isn’t that difficult, really. Then everything will take care of itself.

In Closing:

Material qualities from birth coming,

So how shudra a brahmana becoming?


Must not for next birth await,

And gradually to higher state?


Best argument from prasadam take,

How from ordinary like Divine to make.


With pilgrimage site principle the same,

So blessed those who chant holy names.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Rama Navami 2017

[Rama-Lakshmana]“Otherwise those two possess enough strength to overpower the demigods even, but still I think the reversal of my misfortune has yet to occur.” (Sita Devi speaking to Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 36.14)

athavā śaktimantau tau surāṇām api nigrahe |
mama eva tu na duhkhānām asti manye viparyayaḥ ||

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“A guilty conscience needs no accuser.” If a person does something that they know is wrong, outside accusation isn’t always necessary. Their guilt gets the best of them. There is regret. There is worry over future consequence. After all, if I get away with violating someone’s personal property, who am I to expect all of my possessions to remain intact? Does not someone else have the right to commit the same violation against me?

Along the same lines there is fear of the law. Without this fear, theft would be much more common. There is an acknowledged authority in the community that ensures the proper and fair execution of laws. Those who go against the rules understand there is a high probability of punishment.

In the larger scheme, the governing authorities of the material world are the celestials. Another word for them is “demigods,” which correlates nicely with the Sanskrit word deva, which just means “god.” There are many devas, and so the supreme deity referenced by the capitalized form of “god” does not apply. Demigod is a more accurate translation since the celestials are always subordinate to the topmost person, Purushottama. On the occasion of Rama Navami we remember that topmost person and His capacity to act as the law personified.

In the above referenced verse from the Ramayana another similar word is used: sura. Since the beginning of time good and evil have collided. Everyone should be happy. Everyone should be at peace. There is no reason to kill people just for the right to live on a piece of land. There is plenty of land to go around. There is no question of overpopulation, as so much of the earth’s habitable space is at present not populated.

Conflicts exist because not everyone is a nice person. Not everyone respects private property. Not everyone is kind and nonviolent. Sura means “demigods” and it also means “good guys.” Without the suras, the asuras would have majority influence. Asura is often translated as “demon,” and notice that it is simply a negation of the word that refers to a demigod.

In their foolishness the asuras think that the suras represent the limit of strength in opposition. In the case of Ravana, a Rakshasa with an asura-like mindset, there was domination over the suras. He rose to a prominent stature through the exercise of strength. He also broadcast his victories, which acted as a further deterrent to anyone who might challenge his authority.

Even the asuras who don’t believe in the existence of celestials take some sort of measurement of the opposition. One of the three sources of misery in material life is known as adhidaivika. Earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes - anything that gets classified as an “act of God.” The wise understand that there are personalities serving as the initial cause, but regardless, everyone understands to some degree that there is some governing force. The asuras hope that if the force can be overcome, there will be total domination.

[Rama-Lakshmana]From the statement of Sita Devi we understand that there are people above the demigods. In this case the ultimate authority is referred to as Rama and Lakshmana. They are brothers, sons to the king of Ayodhya. Their true identities are Supreme Lord and first expansion. The expansion is the number one servitor. Rama and Lakshmana are essentially one, just manifesting differently.

Sita says that the brothers have enough strength to overpower even the suras. The word used is shaktiman. The living entities are shakti, or energy. They dominate over the dull and lifeless matter, which is technically a different kind of energy. God’s unique position is that He is shaktiman, or the energetic. The two are similar, but one is always superior.

Since Rama is her husband and Lakshmana His brother, Sita wonders why her distress has not reversed course. The asura-like Ravana has been winning. He took her away in secret, and so why hasn’t Rama rescued her yet? She is aware of the ongoing attempt, as Rama’s messenger Hanuman has come to inform her of it.

Indeed, the pious have similar lamentations. If we are on the side of good, why isn’t our protector saving us? Why doesn’t He see that we need help? The explanation is that the rescue is already there. Simply the appropriate time has yet to arrive. In Sita’s case Ravana would be defeated eventually. She would be rescued and reunited with her husband. The two always remain together, the energy and the energetic. She is a different kind of energy, the pleasure potency.

This verse from the Ramayana also indirectly dissuades any interested person from looking to the demigods for help. The suras are engaged in combatting the evil forces in this world. They deserve respect, but above them is God Himself. The occasion of Rama Navami affords an opportunity to approach Him directly, honoring the day in the year that He first appeared in this world in the land of Ayodhya. Rama is the benefactor’s benefactor, and so He can easily grant anything to those who are devoted to Him in thought, word and deed.

In Closing:

Dedicated in thought, word and deed,

Rama giving to them anything indeed.


Chance for coming to His way,

Celebrating Rama Navami day.


Asuras on sinful life bent,

Unaware strength to the extent.


That Rama and Lakshmana possessing,

This truth Sita to Hanuman addressing.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Three Reasons Not To Ignore The Benefactor

[Lakshmi-Vishnu]“Lord Vishnu, the Supreme, cannot exhibit His power everywhere without His principal energy. It is said, shakti shaktiman abheda: the power and the powerful are identical. Therefore mother Lakshmi, the goddess of fortune, is the constant companion of Lord Vishnu; they remain together constantly. One cannot keep Lakshmi in one's home without Lord Vishnu.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 6.19.6 Purport)

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“Wow. I can’t believe they came through for me. I was desperate. I needed help. I went to them, because I knew I had the best chance with them. They have been coming through since the beginning of time. Worship of that kind is mentioned in shastra; followed by people from every different persuasion. Good and bad. Rich and poor. Man and woman. I guess they knew what they were doing, as good fortune has come my way as well.”

Illusion is a powerful thing. It makes us forget so much that is important. No matter how successful I become through hard work and perseverance, there are other forces at play whose cooperation is required. I can never do anything completely on my own. This truth is nicely addressed in the Bhagavad-gita.

“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)

The living entity is not the doer. The spirit inside decides to act, but the result is not guaranteed to manifest. The three modes of material nature must first give their sanction. On a higher level of understanding, there is the Supersoul, who oversees everything. He gives permission for outcomes, and He can see everything by remaining inside the heart of every living being.

In the hypothetical situation described above, how should a person move forward? They have received good fortune, but now what? A wise person acknowledges the help they have received from others, which actually begins from the time of birth. Each step of the way there is help, and in receiving good fortune, it is a wise practice to not forget the benefactor.

1. Basic respect

The fortune was never mine. Someone else gave it to me. Even in a civilized society, where property rights are respected, there is the government which gives protection. If they administer justice fairly and without prejudice, then they have a right to exact taxes. Taxes are a form of respect, acknowledging vital services rendered.

A person who receives good fortune respects the benefactor. To do otherwise is to behave like the thief. Some classic examples from Vedic literature are Hiranyakashipu and Ravana. They both received boons from the creator, Lord Brahma. This was the result of dedicated and extended worship.

After receiving what they wanted, the two gave no thought to Brahma. In fact, they acted in ways completely opposite to the interests of their benefactor. They were quintessential thieves in this regard.

2. No one gives to be forgotten

A hospital is being opened. It will serve the community, for at present the closest hospital is far away. The project is expensive, and so it is open to donations. You decide that you want to help. You make a hefty contribution, but you prefer to remain anonymous.

Even in this situation, you don’t wish that your interests be forgotten. The hospital should do as expected. If after a few years the board of directors does an about face and turns the building into a casino, you won’t be happy. Your contribution essentially goes for naught.

In the same way, the person receiving good fortune should stop and think why they are receiving it. The benefactor doesn’t prefer to be completely forgotten; at least as it relates to their desires. Parents don’t give loving gifts so that the children will eventually forget about them.

3. Think of the higher purpose

Fortune in Sanskrit is known as Lakshmi. This is actually a goddess as well, who is the benefactor to those who are lucky. Lakshmi Devi has been worshiped for a long time, by both good and bad alike. Each year during the time of Diwali, her statues are prominent, along with Ganesha’s.

The aforementioned Ravana was also a worshiper, and yet he completely forgot the benefactor. He literally stole her and brought her to his home in Lanka. Lakshmi was on earth in the incarnation of Sita Devi, the wife of Shri Rama. Lakshmi’s position is that of dedicated servant to her husband, Narayana, who is God. The singular Divine has various spiritual manifestations that can be worshiped for the higher purpose of bhakti, or devotion.

A wise person thinks of the higher purpose to any gift. If I come into money, what should it be used for? Should I live like the animals, who get what they need but don’t need to worship? The gifts from Lakshmi are meant for pleasing her. She is made happy by service to her husband. There is really no other use to good fortune. The gifts coming are an extension of Lakshmi, and when she is separate from Narayana, the results are not good.

[Lakshmi-Vishnu]Ravana eventually lost everything for his horrible deed. For others, the end result is rebirth, which represents a lost opportunity in the valuable human form. Only through service to God can the individual break away from sense attachment and find the higher life. The true purpose to an existence is to feel the bliss of surrender to the Divine, who has the most benevolent eternal consort.

In Closing:

Serving her husband, happy is He,

Most kind benefactor is she.


As Lakshmi Devi is known,

Favor to good and bad alike shown.


But when receiving how to use,

For senses or higher purpose choose?


Best when in mindset the same,

For pleasing husband of Vishnu the name.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Praise Of Hanuman

[Shri Hanuman]“You are courageous. You are qualified. You are intelligent. O best of the Vanaras, this place of the Rakshasas has been taken on by you alone.” (Sita Devi, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 36.7)

vikrāntaḥ tvam samarthaḥ tvam prājñaḥ tvam vānara uttama |
yena idam rākṣasa padam tvayā ekena pradharṣitam ||

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Let’s say that you really like someone. They mean a lot to you. You think back and realize that without them, you’d be in a lot more pain today. The suffering of this world would overwhelm you. The direction in life, the purpose to an existence, a meaning to get you out of bed each morning - these might be absent. This person has had a profound impact on everything about the way you live.

A good way to honor them is write a song. Sure, it might embarrass them. But if the love is strong enough, there is no stopping the outpouring of affection. The interesting thing with the Hanuman Chalisa is that the subject is not someone who is technically present in a manifest form. Still, that person had a profound impact on the author.

Goswami Tulsidas understood that he could never have properly known the Supreme Personality of Godhead Shri Rama without the help of Hanuman. The dedicated servant is the gatekeeper to that particular kingdom of the spiritual world, where Rama lives with His dearest associates like Sita Devi and Lakshmana.

[Goswami Tulsdas]The saint wrote the song to honor Hanuman, to remember him, and to also help others to remember. Yet other benedictions are supposedly there; cleverly embedded by the author. If you’re in trouble, recite the Hanuman Chalisa. Go through it at a set time each day. Even if you know nothing about spiritual life, if you are not even sure of the existence of the Divine, use it to find peace.

The influence of the saintly person is so powerful that a person can even accidentally find bliss, happiness, and peace of mind through basic association. And so today the Hanuman Chalisa is one of the most popular songs ever written. There are no royalties accrued by Tulsidas; just the satisfaction of knowing that so many people are honoring the one who had such a great influence on him.

One way to get further information about Hanuman is to consult the opinion of people who have spent significant time with him. Hanuman is so amazing that he makes an impact rather quickly. In his first meeting with Rama, the Supreme Lord took a liking immediately. He remarked as such to His brother Lakshmana.

“Whose heart is not moved by these wonderful words, which emanate from three places [the chest, throat, and head]? Even an enemy, who has his sword uplifted, would be touched by such words.” (Lord Rama speaking to Lakshmana, Valmiki Ramayana, Kishkindha Kand, 3.33)

From the above referenced verse from the Ramayana we get the opinion of Sita Devi, Rama’s wife. She has met Hanuman for the first time, and for only a brief period. Yet she gives us great information about the dedicated servant.

Sita says that Hanuman is vikranta. This means courageous, valiant, or mighty. She also says he is qualified and intelligent. The reasons are obvious. All by himself, Hanuman has come into a foreign territory populated with Rakshasas. These are cruel, ogre-like creatures. Sita has seen their power firsthand, and also their wickedness. Sita was brought to Lanka against her will by the leader of the ogres, Ravana.

Sita says that Hanuman is the best of the monkeys, Vanara-uttama. This makes sense because there were a lot of Vanaras helping Rama in the search for Sita. Only Hanuman was able to complete the final step, the crossing of the vast ocean for reaching the island of Lanka.

Sita is very pleased while offering this kind and accurate praise. She has just received Rama’s ring, verifying the authenticity of Hanuman. Indeed, this is the way to properly assess any person claiming to be a messenger of God. Do they carry something of His? Do they take risks to please Him? Are they happy bringing others closer to Him?

[Shri Hanuman]Hanuman meets the qualification in all of these areas, and it is no surprise that to this day he constantly chants the name of Rama. Sita gives him everything he needs for the worship to continue; so there are no worries. In the same way, the bona fide representative today returns a person to their forgotten relationship with God. The ensuing practice of bhakti is then supported by the goddess of fortune, who knows Hanuman so well.

In Closing:

Of his qualities can tell,

Since knowing him so well.


In Ashoka grove of Lanka set,

From him Rama’s ring to get.


For Lord every risk taking,

A bona fide messenger making.


Tulsidas praise of him bringing,

Daily his glories singing.