Saturday, April 15, 2017

Three Reasons Devotees Are Known To Be Forgiving

[Chaitanya with devotees]“Advanced transcendentalists are called sudhiyah. Sudhi means ‘intelligence,’ sudhi means ‘highly advanced,’ and sudhi means ‘devotee.’ One who is both devoted and highly advanced in intelligence does not take action against the soul or the body. If there is any discrepancy, he forgives. It is said that forgiveness is a quality of those who are advancing in spiritual knowledge.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 4.20.3 Purport)

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It plays a prominent role in certain spiritual traditions.

“Don’t keep your anger. Many people have wronged you, for sure. You have committed sin; that is the reason to confess. But you also have to let go. Don’t harbor a grudge. Just as you make mistakes, sometimes without cause, so others have the same deficiency.”

The great bow warrior Arjuna once wondered about this issue. People know better, yet they continue to do things that are harmful to both them and others.

“Arjuna said: O descendant of Vrishni, by what is one impelled to sinful acts, even unwillingly, as if engaged by force?” (Bhagavad-gita, 3.36)

Kama, which can be translated as “lust,” is the all-devouring enemy of this world when it combines with wrath. Along with steering the individual towards dangerous territory, another result is that forgiveness becomes hard to come by. From studying Vedic philosophy, and particularly the Shrimad Bhagavatam, we see that a simple Sanskrit word helps to explain how the souls devoted to the lotus feet of the Supreme Personality of Godhead tend to be forgiving.

1. Intelligence

The advanced transcendentalists are called sudhiyah, with the root word of sudhi. One meaning for this word is “intelligence.” A devoted soul doesn’t have to be a MENSA scholar. They don’t necessarily have a high intelligence quotient. Rather, they are intelligent because they know some simple things that easily get overlooked. Indeed, without approaching a spiritual master in the bona fide disciplic succession, this vital knowledge may never reach the individual.

“Even if you are considered to be the most sinful of all sinners, when you are situated in the boat of transcendental knowledge, you will be able to cross over the ocean of miseries.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.36)

I am not the body. I am spirit soul. I am Brahman, which is the spiritual energy, the fundamental functioning unit of life, found in all spaces and coming in all shapes and sizes. Further realization is Paramatma, which is the all-pervading localized aspect of the spiritual energy. For analysis purposes, Brahman and Paramatma are not the same.

The devotees have the highest intelligence because they know Bhagavan. In simple terms, this is God the person. Bhagavan is the more complete realization of the Divinity. He expands as Paramatma, which witnesses the activities of every spark of Brahman, or the spiritual energy.

Since the devotees know Bhagavan, they tend to be forgiving. They realize how difficult the material existence is. They understand that the six senses, which include the mind, cause trouble. They also know that a person who is surrendered to God the person can easily cross beyond the suffering.

“This divine energy of Mine, consisting of the three modes of material nature, is difficult to overcome. But those who have surrendered unto Me can easily cross beyond it.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.14)

2. Highly advanced

The tendency is for the youth to be more idealistic and the elderly to be more practical. The reason for the difference is obvious. The youth doesn’t know what they haven’t seen. The elderly have experienced a lot, and they know that while sticking to your principles is important, to be able to function and deal with others requires some give and take.

The devotee is highly advanced because they have both theoretical knowledge [jnana] and practical knowledge [vijnana]. Both are sourced in the spiritual master, though technically vijnana comes from applying the principles learned. It is amazing to consider. Many years’ worth of experience can be acquired simply through hearing from someone.

It is not easy to forgive when you don’t really know why other people make the mistakes they do. Even in the neophyte stage, agitation and frustration will be caused by others who may obstruct the practice of devotion. A person doesn’t have to be old to be highly advanced in this regard. One of the most forgiving people in history was a five year old boy, a son to the king named Hiranyakashipu. Prahlada forgave his father, who had committed the worst offenses. That forgiveness was only possible due to the advancement in intelligence of the boy.

3. Devotee

Circular logic? Axiomatic truth? The devotees are forgiving because they are devotees? It makes sense specifically due to whom they are devoted. The Supreme Lord Himself is the most forgiving. This truth can be verified from one factor alone: Paramatma.

“Yet in this body there is another, a transcendental enjoyer who is the Lord, the supreme proprietor, who exists as the overseer and permitter, and who is known as the Supersoul.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 13.23)

The Supersoul has been witness to every single thing done by every single conditioned living entity since the beginning of time. Those actions took place in the material world, and the large percentage had no relation to spiritual life. In essence, God has been right there with us as we have sinned. The real definition of sin is enjoying separately from the person who has loved us the most.

[Chaitanya with devotees]And yet the opportunity for spiritual life can only exist if Paramatma is the most forgiving person in the world. He welcomes us back at any time, no matter how low we may have dropped. It makes sense that those devoted to Him would be just as forgiving. If I have spent so many lifetimes forgetting Bhagavan, then so have others. Now that I have been blessed with transcendental knowledge, it is time to share it with others. If no one is receptive, I understand why. If some try to obstruct my practice of devotional service, I also understand the cause. Forgiveness in this area is only natural.

In Closing:

As devotees of Supreme Lord known,

By them forgiveness naturally shown.


Since God behaving in way the same,

Witnessed all, from best to shame.


Intelligence from spiritual understanding,

This knowledge the guru to them handing.


To practice devotion so fortunate am I,

Obstinacy in others also understanding why.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Fearing The One With The Terrifying Scream

[Shri Hanuman]“O best of the Vanaras, I do not think you are an ordinary Vanara, as you have no fear of Ravana, nor even awe.” (Sita Devi, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 36.9)

na hi tvām prākṛtam manye vanaram vanara ṛṣabha |
yasya te na asti samtrāso rāvaṇān na api sambhramaḥ ||

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Sometimes the presence is enough. You don’t need to exert your influence; everyone knows what you are capable of. This is something like the authority that the king of Lanka wielded a long time back. Named by Lord Shiva, Ravana was known for his terrifying scream. He had ten heads, giving him another name of Dashanana. There were twenty arms to go with those heads, and in those arms was great might.

Ravana had another amazing ability. Known as the kama-rupa-siddhi, the king could change his shape at will. Of course, he never used it for good. Something like a soldier wearing civilian clothes in a war in order to remain hidden, Ravana once took the garb of a mendicant. Dressed like a wandering religious man, parivrajaka, he approached the hermitage of Sita Devi in the forest of Dandaka.

[Ravana]Soon enough the hideous form was revealed. Ravana was a Rakshasa by nature. This is something like a man-eating ogre. He took Sita away by force. He was strong in exerting his influence over the princess of delicate features, but he ran away in a cowardly manner, afraid to fight against Sita’s husband, Shri Rama.

In the above referenced verse from the Ramayana, Sita continues her praise of Hanuman, who is one of Rama’s messengers. Hanuman also possesses the kama-rupa-siddhi, and originally he is in a Vanara body. Though the root definition of the Sanskrit word is “forest dweller,” a Vanara is generally associated with a monkey.

Sita declares Hanuman to be the best of the Vanaras. This is her opinion. It is not based on mere sentiment. She notes that Hanuman is not afraid of Ravana at all. Hanuman is not in awe of him, either. This is noteworthy since practically the entire world at the time feared the king of Lanka.

Hanuman proved his fearlessness by entering the island uninvited and searching through it without being detected. Rama had given him the mission of finding Sita. Hanuman was either going to succeed or die trying.

It would be understandable if Hanuman were a little scared. The opulence in Lanka was by itself enough to intimidate anyone. There was gold everywhere. Not just tall buildings, but valuable jewels contained within the structures. Ravana had the most beautiful women in the world as queens. Still, he lusted after Sita, whom he couldn’t have.

Hanuman was not afraid because fearlessness is in his nature. He takes great strength from his devotion to Rama, which is unflinching. Hanuman is the rock that the surrendered souls can rely on. As Goswami Tulsidas says, Hanuman is the gatekeeper to Rama’s kingdom. He happily allows people to enter, provided they are sincere in their desire to serve Rama.

[Shri Hanuman]The nature of Sita’s husband gives us a better understanding of how a Vanara could be so amazing. Rama is the Supreme Lord Himself; thus obviously His dedicated servants will be of amazing caliber. As Uttamashloka, God has the best lines of poetry used in praising Him. He has the best messengers as well, people who are not intimidated by material strength, which is temporary and fleeting.

In Closing:

Not intimidated by Ravana’s strength,

For Rama to travel any length.


Since passing vast ocean’s test,

Declared as Vanaras the best.


Hanuman the messenger going,

For dedication to Supreme Lord knowing.


Judging first then allowing to enter,

Rama’s kingdom for Divine shelter.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Everyone Against You

[Shri Hanuman]“You crossed over the ocean of one hundred yojanas wide, the reservoir of sharks and alligators, as if it were a small puddle.” (Sita Devi speaking to Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 36.8)

śata yojana vistīrṇaḥ sāgaro makara ālayaḥ |
vikrama ślāghanīyena kramatā goṣpadī kṛtaḥ ||

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Feel like trying spiritual life? Tired of swinging on the pendulum of bhoga and tyaga, enjoyment and renunciation? Material success not doing anything for you? Too much sadness over loss? Nervousness over the guaranteed nature of separation, from people and things dear to the heart?

To take the step, to make even an inquiry into the Absolute Truth represents a significant step. As it is stated in the Bhagavad-gita, after many births a person finally surrenders unto the Supreme Personality of Godhead, knowing Him to be the cause of all causes.

“After many births and deaths, he who is actually in knowledge surrenders unto Me, knowing Me to be the cause of all causes and all that is. Such a great soul is very rare.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.19)

Surrender is the reward for following spiritual life to completion. Reaching the end in a single lifetime is not guaranteed, however. The illusory energy of maya brings temptations.

“Try this. Try that. Put off spiritual life until you are old. After you have enjoyed everything, then go for renunciation. Procrastination won’t hurt you.”

Conspiring with maya are the heavenly figures. This seems counterintuitive. The demigods are known as suras, and the very definition of this body type is awareness of the Almighty. The suras live in the mode of goodness. Though this is still a material mode, it represents knowledge. The asuras are the opposite in quality; they don’t believe in God, or at least consciousness of Him is not a guiding factor in their behavior.

Demigods sometimes put up obstacles due to envy. They think that the person on the spiritual path might be trying to surpass them in stature. After all, by performing enough yajnas, or sacrifices, a person earns a spot in the heavenly realm. It is the mechanical way to accumulate pious credits.

“When a person performs Vedic rituals and sacrifices, he does so to elevate himself to the heavenly planets. No one can become qualified to go back home, back to Godhead, by means of such sacrifices. But the Lord is so kind that He accepts a little insignificant service, and therefore it is stated in the Vishnu Purana that by following the principles of varnashrama-dharma one can satisfy the Supreme Lord. When the Lord is satisfied, the performer of sacrifices is elevated to the platform of devotional service.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 4.20.28 Purport)

[fire sacrifice]Pious behavior is not enough. If a person does just a little service for God’s benefit, though, then they become very dear to Him. From that service they can be elevated to devotional service, which is also known as bhakti-yoga.

This devotion is unique because it brings protection and enhanced potency, supported by the Supreme Lord Himself. The above referenced verse from the Ramayana is an example. Sita Devi, the princess of Videha, is praising Hanuman for the amazing accomplishment of leaping over an ocean that was one hundred yojanas wide, the rough equivalent of eight hundred miles.

The length wasn’t the only obstacle. Within that ocean were makaras, or sharks and alligators. They were trying to prevent Hanuman from successfully serving Shri Rama, the husband of Sita and an incarnation of God. Sita said that Hanuman made that vast ocean seem like the size of a small puddle.

The demigods also put up opposition. There were the female Rakshasas Simhika and Surasa. They were blessed by the celestials with special powers. The residents of the heavenly realm watched from above to see how Hanuman would fare with those tests.

Another name for Rama is Yogeshvara. This means the master of all mystic power. His abilities overpower anyone else’s. Think of the most amazing thing a person could be able to do. God can top that. By extension, His devotees are empowered with the potency to overcome obstacles in their service.

[Shri Hanuman]Just as Rama helped Hanuman to leap over the massive ocean, Hanuman helps the surrendered soul cross over the ocean of birth and death and reach the spiritual world. The journey is not easy, and many obstacles will come along the way. Sharks in the form of material desires are waiting to bite. So are alligators in the form of hopelessness and despair. When successful the obstacles halt the progress of the individual, but when there is sincerity help arrives from either God Himself or one of His representatives. Among those servants, Hanuman shines bright like the moon; a fact attested to by Rama’s wife.

In Closing:

Delivering message of husband coming soon,

Among stars Hanuman shining like moon.


Crossed over ocean many miles wide,

To come to princess of Videha’s side.


Obstacles from material nature not just,

Demigods too, so in Bhagavan trust.


The servant helping others do the same,

Empowering devotion’s life with holy name.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

The Ocean Of Suffering

[Shri Hanuman]“You crossed over the ocean of one hundred yojanas wide, the reservoir of sharks and alligators, as if it were a small puddle.” (Sita Devi speaking to Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 36.8)

śata yojana vistīrṇaḥ sāgaro makara ālayaḥ |
vikrama ślāghanīyena kramatā goṣpadī kṛtaḥ ||

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Try losing weight. Try eating healthy. Try doing a better job at work. Try to improve your grades. Try to reduce stress. In this way the human being tries so much, with varying degrees of success and failure. The worst of it all - at the end the cycle renews. Based on the consciousness at the time of death, the living entity gets another type of body; i.e. the next life. The subtle body - consisting of mind, intelligence and false ego - come along, like the air carrying aromas.

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

Rebirth is often called reincarnation, and the concept need not be relegated to the “mystical” category. There is reincarnation going on at every second. I am not the body. I am spirit soul; aham brahmasmi. Brahman is pure. It is everlasting. It is unchanging. Brahman never can be killed. Brahman remains the functional unit of existence, within every sphere.

Within a single lifetime, with the body changing at every second and the external matter shifting constantly, it is a struggle to find peace and happiness. Compounding the difficulty is the reset triggered by the event known as death.

For these reasons and more the cycle of birth and death is described in Sanskrit as the samsara-chakra. It is like a spinning wheel of suffering. The spinning continues, fueled by the desires of the person on the wheel. Another comparison made is to a vast ocean. The ocean of suffering, in which can be found many different species, i.e. body types.

“For one who has accepted the boat of the lotus feet of the Lord, who is the shelter of the cosmic manifestation and is famous as Mukunda or the giver of mukti, the ocean of the material world is like the water contained in a calf’s hoofprint. Param padam, or the place where there are no material miseries, or Vaikuntha, is his goal, not the place where there is danger in every step of life.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 10.14.58)

Shrimad Bhagavatam has an interesting verse regarding the size of the material ocean. With all the suffering and rebirth going on, obviously in terms of crossing over that metaphorical ocean is very large. But when there is the shelter of the Supreme Lord, through surrender, then that same ocean becomes the size of a small puddle. More specifically, it is the puddle of the size that fits inside the hoof-print of a calf.

The Supreme Lord is Mukunda, which means “the giver of liberation.” Mukti, or liberation, is the end to the cycle of rebirth. More than just getting free from the ups and downs of a life in duality, no more having to accept a material body. No more having a dividing line in identity, between body and spirit.

The above referenced verse from the Ramayana gives tangible proof of the promise. Here Sita Devi is praising Shri Hanuman, who is a dear servant of the Supreme Lord in His incarnation of Rama. Hanuman has the shelter of Rama. It is noteworthy that the existence of that shelter doesn’t necessarily prevent work. It doesn’t bring protection against having to take up difficult tasks. The difference is in the nature. The devotee is assured eventual success due to the desires within; they only want to please God.

He kindly obliges. Sita praises Hanuman for crossing a vast ocean. This ocean was one hundred yojanas wide, which is roughly eight hundred miles. That ocean was filled with makara, which can refer to sharks or alligators. The mention is intentional. The ocean Hanuman crossed was not only vast, but dangerous as well.

How did Hanuman cross it? Using almost the exact same comparison, Sita says Hanuman made that ocean seem like the size of a puddle. The Sanskrit word used is goshpada. This is the puddle filling the print left by a cow. Hanuman was able to do this due to the grace of Rama. He figuratively crossed over the vast ocean which tried to prevent him from serving the beloved husband of Sita. That ocean was dangerous, with many obstacles placed along the way. Hanuman was able to overcome them.

[Shri Hanuman]To this day he continues in that service, helping the sincere souls who wish to similarly cross the ocean. The suffering borne of the many distractions to the mind vanishes in full surrender, and Hanuman helps in inspiring the service that brings the surrender. His amazing ability is verified by someone who knows him very well.

In Closing:

As best of Vanaras to certify,

His amazing ability can verify.


Since onward in mission kept,

When over vast ocean he leapt.


Logic and sound reasoning to befuddle,

By turning eight hundred miles into puddle.


By Rama’s grace anything can do,

Continues still to help devotees too.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

The Right Combination

[Shri Hanuman]“O best of the Vanaras, you are mighty. You are capable. You are intelligent, for by yourself you have infiltrated this place of the Rakshasas.” (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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Hanuman is capable, mighty, and intelligent. For the task handed to him, the combination was required. Lacking one or many would have prevented success, which was very important. Sita Devi had gone missing. The beloved wife of Shri Rama, the daughter of King Janaka, a pious lady from the time of her birth, knew exactly what it would take for a person to singly infiltrate the land of the ogres. For this reason she certified Hanuman as “Best of the Vanaras.”

Hanuman is vikrantah, or mighty. The description fits since he leaped over the ocean, which was hundreds of miles in length. He did this through first expanding his size. When yoga is practiced perfectly, the fruit is siddhi. This Sanskrit word means “perfection,” and it relates to an amazing ability. We may not believe those abilities can exist, since they are impossible to fathom, but lack of familiarity isn’t an automatic disqualification for believability.

Hanuman used the siddhi that expands the size of the body. Originally in the form of a Vanara, or forest-dwelling monkey, Hanuman became huge in stature. He then jumped from a mountain top, with the intent of crossing the ocean and reaching the island of Lanka. His successful journey, as evidenced by his standing before Sita, proved his might.

Hanuman is samarthah, or capable. You can have might, but without ability it doesn’t mean much. The dear servant of Shri Rama was capable of searching through Lanka; a not so easy task. The Rakshasas are man-eaters. They are vile in their behavior. They would not take too kindly to a stranger entering their land and looking for someone the king had hidden away.

Hanuman is prajnah, or intelligent. You can be mighty and capable, but intelligence is required to complete a task. For example, let’s say that I need a house built. I hire people that have great strength. They know how to use different tools. But unless there is some intelligence, an overall planning process, the first abilities won’t matter much. Intelligence brings everything together.

Hanuman was wise enough to contract his form when first entering Lanka. He became the size of a cat, which allowed him to search unsuspected. Then he was smart enough to approach Sita very gently and quietly in the Ashoka grove. It took great convincing to be able to earn her trust. She was naturally skeptical, as the Rakshasas were able to change their shapes at will. How was she sure that Hanuman was not another imposter?

[Shri Hanuman]This right combination of abilities allowed Hanuman to succeed in the mission to find Sita. Since that time he has continued to serve the Divine couple, Sita and Rama. They are the goddess of fortune and the Supreme Lord, respectively. That great servant inspires others to be just as dedicated, and his amazing attributes give the necessary strength, capability, and intelligence to succeed in that devotion, which is the ultimate objective of a birth in the human form of body.

In Closing:

Just from getting his sight,

Understanding his might.


Intelligence also was there,

Of capability indeed aware.


In Hanuman combination three,

For success in mission to see.


By Sita pronounced of Vanaras the best,

Passed difficult ocean crossing test.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Vanara Uttama

[Shri Hanuman]“O best of the Vanaras, you are mighty. You are capable. You are intelligent, for by yourself you have infiltrated this place of the Rakshasas.” (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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“Monkeys helping to build a bridge. Flying around the world, searching for a missing princess. Joining together to form a somewhat civilized society, with an acknowledged leader whose name means ‘auspicious face.’ Isn’t this all just mythology, with symbolic meaning? Isn’t it possible that Valmiki wrote the Ramayana to teach hidden truths in an easy to understand format?”

While this logic is appealing to the less informed, there is proper authority from which to get confirmation. From Vedic literature there is a preponderance of evidence of the eminently proficient use of time of the great scholars. They weren’t fiction writers, as that would fall under the category of maya, or illusion, for which the human being has the urgency and capability to escape.

The Ramayana is a wonderfully crafted Sanskrit poem of epic length that details historical events. That poem has endured through the generations due to the nature of the main character, Shri Rama. He is an incarnation of God, and just as a great leader will do, the Supreme Lord automatically teaches through the example that He sets.

“Whatever action is performed by a great man, common men follow in his footsteps. And whatever standards he sets by exemplary acts, all the world pursues.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 3.21)

In the portion of the work dealing with the monkeys in the Kishkindha forest, Shri Rama highlights His ever-compassionate and loving nature. No one is prohibited from offering service. Surely, the human birth is an advantage over the animal species, but then there are varieties. Not every person is intelligent. Not everyone has the same strength. Does this mean only certain people are eligible for liberation?

Actually, as confirmed in the Bhagavad-gita, even what is considered a low birth does not present an impenetrable barrier to reaching the highest achievement possible. The mind is consumed with thoughts for sense gratification when in the body of a laborer. As a merchant, there is constant attention on profit. No amount of wealth is ever enough.

“O son of Pritha, those who take shelter in Me, though they be of lower birth-women, vaishyas [merchants], as well as shudras [workers] - can approach the supreme destination.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.32)

Imagine, then, the obstacles in the monkey form of body. Still, those that Rama befriended were not ordinary. One of the Sanskrit words used to describe them is Vanara. The literal meaning is “forest dweller.” We don’t know monkeys that talk, but this doesn’t mean that millions of years ago the species were as limited as they are today. These Vanaras were monkey-like, but they could interact with Shri Rama, who is the best friend of every living entity.

The above referenced verse of the Ramayana gives the certification of “Best Vanara” to Shri Hanuman. The certifying authority is Sita Devi, who is Rama’s wife. Amazingly, she has had little interaction prior to making this pronouncement. Just from the nature of the place she was staying, against her will at that, she could understand that the Vanara who reached it was certainly the best.

This fact was already known to Shri Rama. He invested all hope in Hanuman to find Sita, who had gone missing while in the forest of Dandaka. She was there with Rama and His younger brother Lakshmana. Hanuman left for the search with so many other Vanaras, his friends who were loyal to the Vanara-king, Sugriva. Hanuman looked like the moon amidst many stars.

“Then taking with him the leading monkeys of great strength, that monkey, the brave son of the wind-god, looked like the moon of pure orb in the sky after the parting of the clouds, brightened by a cluster of stars. (Valmiki Ramayana, Kishkindha Kand, 44.16)

Hanuman found Sita in Lanka, and to prove the authenticity of his intentions, he gave to her a ring with Rama’s name inscribed on it. Receiving it Sita became bashful, as she felt like Rama was in her presence. The Supreme Lord has this amazing ability. His presence is felt through something as basic as a ring. Indeed, the Ramayana is adored today for this very reason; it is like being with Rama.

Sita is also with the Supreme Lord, as is the dearmost servant Hanuman. Sita says that Hanuman is prajnah, or intelligent. She says he is capable and mighty, as well. She knows these to be true because Hanuman has entered Lanka all by himself. The land is populated by Rakshasas. This is another interesting species. The Rakshasa is like a man-eating ogre.

Another name for Rama is Uttamashloka. This means one “who is praised by the best verses.” Think of the most amazing poem you have heard in your life. That is somewhat comparable to Vedic literature. The verses in Vedic literature singing the praises of the Supreme Lord are identical to Him.

[Shri Hanuman]It is no wonder, then, that Rama is also served by the Vanara-uttama. Hanuman’s amazing work continues to this day, as he is always chanting the holy names and inspiring others to follow the same imperishable path of devotion.

In Closing:

Like moon amidst stars in a cluster,

In Lanka summoning all courage to muster.


Though Rakshasas infesting that land,

Hanuman focused on task at hand.


Prajna, with intelligence a lot,

Finally Sita’s presence he got.


Then best of Vanaras does say she,

To this day still glorious is he.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Three Great Souls Who Have Literally Given Shelter To God

[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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The lotus feet of the Divine are the Supreme Shelter. The acceptance of the claim should be immediate, based on simple reasoning. We look to the heavens when we are in trouble. Even the staunchest atheist does this. It is instinctual, as if something intrinsic to the consciousness acknowledges the existence of a higher power.

Bhakti-yoga is going beyond asking for help. Of course God can offer the greatest shelter. His lotus feet are His servants, and attachment to those feet brings protection from everything found in a material existence and even subsequent births in that world. In devotional service there is a relationship established, and in any relationship there is something offered by both parties.

The Supreme Lord is so kind that He actually allows others to offer Him shelter. From time to time He creates situations where others feel the urgency for service. He becomes very pleased by such offerings, and those who create the shelter remain forever dear to the surrendered souls.

1. Lakshmana

Shri Rama was kicked out of His kingdom. Actually, He could have fought for the throne. This is what Lakshmana, the younger brother, proposed. The father, King Dasharatha, handed down an order that Rama was to leave the kingdom for fourteen years. It wasn’t just moving to some new place. There were rules. Rama had to wander like a person in vanaprastha, which is the third stage of life when following varnashrama-dharma. Vanaprastha is something like voluntarily becoming homeless; being poor and wandering around, outside of town.

Lakshmana argued that when a spiritual teacher or respected personality loses their mind, it is okay to not only disobey them but to also disavow them completely. Rama appreciated the kind sentiments of His brother, but He agreed to the order of the father. Lakshmana then insisted on coming along, as did Sita Devi, Rama’s faithful wife.

“O Rama, for as long as You shall stand before me, even if it be for one hundred years, I will always remain Your servant. Therefore You should be the one to choose a beautiful and appropriate place for the cottage. After You have selected a spot, please then command me to start building.” (Lakshmana speaking to Lord Rama, Valmiki Ramayana, Aranya Kand, 15.7)

One time while traveling through the forest, Rama asked Lakshmana to find a spot to build a hut. Lakshmana gave another heart-warming response, saying that if Rama were to command him for one hundred years even, he would continue to listen. The younger brother then proceeded to build a basic, yet wonderful dwelling for the three to live in. He literally gave shelter to the Supreme Lord.

2. Govardhana

Years later the same Rama incarnated on earth as Shri Krishna, the all-attractive one. Krishna and Rama are the same; they are both Bhagavan, which is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. There shouldn’t be any confusion. Just because the Vedas describe different incarnations of the original God, this shouldn’t be mistaken to mean impersonalism. Neither should it be considered that just any divine figure is identical to Bhagavan. The incarnations and non-different spiritual forms are delineated in shastra; they cannot be made up on a whim or through sentiment.

Krishna spent His childhood years in Vrindavana, which is a rural community. One time there was a devastating rainstorm, instigated by the demigod Indra. He is a divine figure, but he is not identical to God the person. Indra would soon find this out, to his frustration.

The rain threatened to wash everyone away. Krishna quickly figured out a solution. He lifted the just worshiped Govardhana Hill and asked everyone to get underneath. This time a massive object literally provided shelter to God. That hill has been known to be identical to Krishna ever since. A defeated Indra later apologized for trying to kill everyone. He was jealous that they had skipped worship of him in honor of Govardhana instead.

3. Ananta Deva

When Krishna first emerged from the womb of Devaki, He asked to be transferred to the nearby town of Gokula. To prove His divinity to the dear parents, He first showed the four-handed form of Narayana. The father Vasudeva kindly obliged. He took baby Krishna and prepared to cross the Yamuna river. It was the middle of the night, and there was a rainstorm.

[Vasudeva crossing Yamuna]From hearing what happened next a person may think it magic or mythology, but the wise know the truth. A serpent with many heads appeared right above the baby to provide shelter from the rain. That serpent is Ananta Deva, who acts as the bed for Narayana to rest on in the spiritual world. Lakshmana is actually an incarnation of Ananta Deva, so it is not surprising that he had the mood of service to Shri Rama. Also, we see that again Indra and his rain were causing trouble, but that the trouble was no match for the Supreme Lord and His servants.

In Closing:

Under greatest protection to live,

Lotus feet supreme shelter to give.


Interestingly also others gave,

Like Govardhana from rain to save.


Lakshmana hut from Rama’s calling,

And Ananta against downpour falling.


With God’s nature not a contradiction,

Supporting servant’s predilection.