Saturday, June 10, 2017

Three Examples Of Chewing The Chewed

[Krishna's lotus feet]“The embodied soul may be restricted from sense enjoyment, though the taste for sense objects remains. But, ceasing such engagements by experiencing a higher taste, he is fixed in consciousness.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.59)

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There is the saying that one way to identify insanity is when the same thing is done repeatedly with the expectation of a different outcome. A wise young child a long time ago said that practically everyone in a material existence would have to fall into this category; they fit the definition of crazy or insane.

“Prahlada Maharaja replied: Because of their uncontrolled senses, persons too addicted to materialistic life make progress toward hellish conditions and repeatedly chew that which has already been chewed. Their inclinations toward Krishna are never aroused, either by the instructions of others, by their own efforts, or by a combination of both.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 7.5.30)

The words used by Prahlada Maharaja were punah punash charvita charvananam. This means “chewing the chewed.” People do the same things over and over, especially since devotion to the Supreme Lord is not tried or believed in. The repeating cycle brings them no further along the path of liberation, which is the ultimate goal of life.

1. Alcohol addiction

Examples are helpful in understanding a concept. There are many candidates for recognizing the pattern identified by the prodigy-like son of King Hiranyakashipu. In alcohol addiction there is a similar cycle. You have one drink. Then you have another. Soon you are at the point of intoxication. There is a temporary buzz, followed by regrettable actions.

When the entire night is spent standing above the toilet, vomiting or almost to the point of, a promise may be made. “Boy, I am never drinking again. It’s just bad news.” Inevitably, the cycle repeats. The same activity, with a predictable outcome, is indulged in, again and again, with the expectation of a different result.

2. Product design

Drugs and alcohol are known to be harmful, but what about having a passion for work? Going to the office, putting in a strong effort to create a new product to be sold to the masses. This will revolutionize whatever industry the product is for.

Even in the case of a very successful product launch, what is the end result? Does anyone use the first personal computers invented years ago? They are nothing more than museum exhibits now. With the smartphone, after a few years the models look old and dated.

Certainly there is progress being made; the new products pave the way for further innovation. At the same time, this defect is always there with progress. You can only move forward from something if that something is deficient in some way. Thus in the fever to create new and better products, the same experience repeats.

3. Divorce and marriage

You’ve had it with this person. You didn’t sign up for this. There are plenty of jokes about the difficulties of marriage, but nothing like this. It’s time to get out. End the relationship. A clean break means a fresh start.

Inevitably, a new relationship comes. What starts out innocent blossoms into a romance. Yet since at the very foundation of the relationship is kama, or sense gratification, there is always the risk of the initial attachment turning into aversion. In the Bhagavad-gita Shri Krishna says that all living entities are born into this delusion, wherein they suffer from the dualities of attachment and hate.

The solution is in the verse spoken by Prahlada Maharaja. It is also provided by Shri Krishna. Find a higher taste. Chew something that never runs out of juice. Only bhakti-yoga meets the requirements. This is also known as bhakti-rasa, or the taste of devotion.

The truth has to be experienced to be believed. Prahlada Maharaja realized with firm conviction at a very young age, after first being instructed by Narada Muni. Prahlada tried to pass on the same wisdom to his friends during recess at school. He tried to help the demoniac father, as well, who was committed to chewing the chewed at the highest level, as king of the world.

[Krishna's lotus feet]Whereas in material activities there is limited enjoyment due to the nature of kama, with bhakti the pleasure only increases with time. This is because God is Himself unlimited, ananta. There is never enough devotion, and there is never enough of His association. The more one chants the holy names, the more desire there is to continue: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. Whereas with chewing the chewed the result is rebirth, with bhakti-rasa the end result is liberation, wherein the higher taste continues to be experienced, with time no longer having a negative influence.

In Closing:

Same activity over to repeat,

With different outcome to seek.


This definition of insanity one,

Spared in material world are none.


For this reason child Prahlada to try,

To explain a higher purpose why.


At young age bhakti-rasa tasted,

In life not a moment to be wasted.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Three Reasons The Young Son of Hiranyakashipu Was Smarter Than The Father

[Prahlada Maharaja]“Prahlada Maharaja said: One who is sufficiently intelligent should use the human form of body from the very beginning of life—in other words, from the tender age of childhood—to practice the activities of devotional service, giving up all other engagements. The human body is most rarely achieved, and although temporary like other bodies, it is meaningful because in human life one can perform devotional service. Even a slight amount of sincere devotional service can give one complete perfection.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 7.6.1)

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If you’re a loving father, you expect it to eventually happen. After all, with your years of experience combined with what you’ve learned from teachers along the way, you can pass on important information. The child has a chance of gaining knowledge quickly, through the ascending process. This saves them from having to discover things on their own, especially that which brings the individual further away from enlightenment.

Still, you rarely expect it to happen so soon. A young child, just five years of age, was more intelligent than his father in so many ways. This was not your typical father. He was the king of the world, feared by everyone, from large to small. The smallest is the indragopa, which is like the germ, and the largest is Lord Brahma, the creator. Brahma aligns with the good guys, the suras. These are the celestials, and they were so afraid of the terror that was Hiranyakashipu that they assumed disguises in order to remain clandestine.

Hiranyakashipu was powerful from receiving boons from Brahma, and it was hoped that the son would be a miniature version, a king in waiting. Instead, the boy was nothing like the father. In so many ways he was already more intelligent, though only having been on earth for five years.

1. He wasn’t interested in sense enjoyment

It’s a tricky issue. The default mentality is to enjoy the senses. Birth means having a body, after all. Along with the body comes senses, which interact with different objects. With different objects come attachments, which then lead to negative things like lust, anger, wrath, and the loss of intelligence.

“While contemplating the objects of the senses, a person develops attachment for them, and from such attachment lust develops, and from lust anger arises.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.62)

If a person doesn’t know better, they will fall into this dangerous chain of events. Hiranyakashipu looked to be religious on the outside. He engaged in austerity, known as tapasya in Sanskrit. His tapasya was extreme, and at the foundation was sensory deprivation. Limited eating and sleeping.

But his austerity was neither proper nor prescribed. It was with ill intent, and so even though Brahma was pleased, Hiranyakashipu attained no peace of mind as a result. We can compare it to something like winning the lottery. The newfound financial windfall should bring security and peace of mind, but the end result is typically increased worry and distress.

This is because the issue of sense enjoyment has not been addressed. Prahlada, though only five years of age, had no interest in gratifying the senses. In this way he was already smarter than his father. That level of renunciation was rather amazing to be found in such a young boy. Children are typically interested in playing only. They have to be taught the concept of shreyas, which is long-term enjoyment, which is distinct from preyas, or immediate pleasure.

2. He was not afraid of death coming his way

As Shri Krishna says in the Bhagavad-gita, for one who has taken birth, death is certain. One who dies is reborn. This is the cycle of living in a material existence. Time, which is known as kala in Sanskrit, is undefeated. Even the staunchest atheist eventually sees God; they do so in the ferocious form known as all-devouring death.

Hiranyakashipu would see time in the most amazing form. But first he tried to get immunity from death. He had everything in the world, but he was still afraid. He was worried about losing what he had acquired. That is why he asked Brahma for safety from so many different situations, weapons, and living entities. Still, just one percent vulnerability is enough to qualify as mortal, which the king was.

Prahlada, on the other hand, was not afraid of death. He had to face deadly threats early on, coming from his father no less. Hiranyakashipu did not like the boy’s inclination towards bhakti, which is love and devotion. Hiranyakashipu viewed God as the greatest enemy. If Vishnu were to be accepted as God by the king, the Supreme Lord was an adversary.

Prahlada thought just the opposite. Since he knew the Divine mercy that is available to everyone, the boy was not afraid when attacked by the palace guards with deadly weapons. He did not fear death when being thrown off a cliff or taken into a pit of fire. Mature beyond his years, Prahlada was more fearless than his supposedly powerful father.

3. He heard from Narada Muni in the womb

Prahlada was not self-taught. It is not like he suddenly achieved enlightenment, out of nowhere. Still, the manner of his instruction is quite interesting. He heard from Narada Muni, the great teacher on bhakti, who travels the universe singing the praises of Vishnu.

Prahlada heard everything while within the womb. That’s all it took for him to be a great devotee. His story described in the Shrimad Bhagavatam is both inspirational and instructional. Parents can start the process of properly educating their children even before they are born. The mother simply has to hear Hari-katha, or discourses about the Supreme Lord.

[Prahlada Maharaja]Hiranyakashipu received no such instruction, so whatever knowledge he had about fighting and the like was practically useless. The son was smarter than the father, and this should have been a cause for rejoice. Unfortunately, it wasn’t, and eventually Vishnu Himself settled the dispute for everyone to see. By appearing as Narasimhadeva to kill Hiranyakashipu, Prahlada’s choice was vindicated, and so was his outlook towards material sense enjoyment.

In Closing:

At such young age with bhakti choice,

In home should have caused rejoice.


But demoniac father having none,

Worked hard over time to be won.


Knowledge from within womb hearing,

Father never the illusion clearing.


Hiranyakashipu hostilities instigated,

Prahlada by Narasimha vindicated.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Is There A Difference Between Divorce And Taking Sannyasa

[Sita-Rama marriage]“In Vedic civilization the husband and wife were not separated by such man-made laws as divorce. We should understand the necessity for maintaining family life in human society and should thus abolish this artificial law known as divorce. The husband and wife should live in Krishna consciousness and follow in the footsteps of Lakshmi-Narayana or Krishna-Rukmini. In this way peace and harmony can be possible within this world.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 4.23.25 Purport)

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Friend1: Alright, we’re going to delve into controversial territory today.

Friend2: Yeah? Want to talk about demigod worship, again?

Friend1: Marriage. More specifically, divorce.

Friend2: Let me guess, you want to know how there could have been no divorce in the past. Were the women just forced to suffer through a bad marriage, and isn’t that mean?

Friend1: Not necessarily where I was going. I understand the marriages in Vedic civilization took place primarily through arrangement by the parents.

Friend2: They used legitimate astrology to compare the natures of the children. If the boy and girl were a match, then the marriage would take place. So it wasn’t just by random arrangement.

Friend1: And sometimes there was a svayamvara, or self-choice ceremony. The bride would get to pick from a gathering of potential husbands.

Friend2: Right, or sometimes there was a contest, but the same thing. The most famous svayamvara being that held by King Janaka, to find a husband for his daughter Sita.

Friend1: Glad you brought that up. I’m going to return to that in a second. Just to set the table, in Vedic culture the husband and wife should stay together. There is no such thing as divorce.

Friend2: Correct. The wife serves and the husband protects. The roles descend from the Supreme Lord Himself. In the spiritual world He is the ultimate protector as Narayana. He is served constantly by the goddess of fortune, Lakshmi Devi. Indeed, Sita is an incarnation of Lakshmi, so she maintained the same role when married to Shri Rama, who is an incarnation of Narayana.

[Sita-Rama marriage]Friend1: Okay. Got it. Here’s the area of confusion. There is also something called sannyasa.

Friend2: The renounced order of life. It is an ashrama, which means “a spiritual institution.” It is the last of the four stages for the cultured human being, who aims to go beyond the animalistic activities of eating, sleeping, mating and defending.

Friend1: While there is a lot to accepting sannyasa, we can say that the foundation is renunciation of family life. Basically, no women around. You’re free to concentrate on the Divine.

Friend2: Since this is the last stage of life, death is on the horizon. Though the end can come at any moment, there is no better time to start fixing the consciousness on the Supreme Lord, since the consciousness at the time of death determines the state of being in the next life.

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

Friend1: Alright, so let’s say someone takes sannyasa. They enter the institution after previously being married. Isn’t that the same thing as divorce?

Friend2: It is not.

Friend1: Why?

Friend2: Divorce is usually based on the inversion of kama. You previously had some sense gratification being met. Over time the attachment turned into hatred or aversion. Shri Krishna mentions this in the Bhagavad-gita, that every individual is born into delusion and overcome by such dualities.

“O scion of Bharata [Arjuna], O conqueror of the foe, all living entities are born into delusion, overcome by the dualities of desire and hate.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.27)

Listen, sometimes there is no option. The situation can be so bad that you have to escape. The general idea is that you shouldn’t just split up because of a change in kama, which is lust. The marriage should be based on dharma, which is virtue, religion or duty. If there is dedication to dharma on both sides, there is no reason for divorce.

Friend1: Are you saying that taking sannyasa is part of dharma?

Friend2: Absolutely. The complete system is known as varnashrama-dharma. There are four occupational divisions and four spiritual institutions. Those who follow this system are very dear to God.

Friend1: Okay, so back to the Sita Devi example. Shri Rama eventually renounced her. He had her sent to the ashrama of Valmiki Muni in the forest. Rama technically didn’t take sannyasa. Was that not divorce? Can’t others use that as an excuse to follow the same behavior?

Friend2: With the lila of Bhagavan, we should take lessons but not imitate. Unless we can create a bridge out of floating rocks and battle 14,000 warriors singlehandedly, it is best not to imitate everything that Shri Rama did during His time on earth. The rejecting of Sita was for the benefit of the Raghu dynasty, for the leaders to be respected, remaining above suspicion. It is a lesson that in this world the reputation of even the most spotless people can be tainted. Shri Krishna was once under suspicion for stealing, if you remember.

Friend1: The Syamantaka jewel.

[Syamantaka jewel]Friend2: Yeah, which was only important to people because it produced endless amounts of gold. Imagine that. A person who is wealth personified would be so desperate for gold that He would steal a jewel from someone else? Ridiculous to come to that conclusion, but that shows you the influence of kama. It takes away good judgment. Back to your original question, sannyasa is not like divorce. The idea is to keep the wife protected in old age through the care of the eldest son. It is not like abandoning someone out of nowhere simply to find more comforts in life. Sannyasa is also known as the fearless ashrama, since a person has to be really committed in order to both accept it and succeed in it.

In Closing:

Marriage in dharma should be,

Not just for senses in glee.


So then in divorce not to end,

But how sannyasa to defend?


Renouncing the wife all the same,

Not then divorce of different name?


For spiritual wellbeing, with wife protected,

For improved consciousness option elected.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

What Is Soul

[King Prithu with four Kumaras]“Maharaja Prithu was well conversant in transcendental science, yet he presented himself before the Kumaras as one ignorant of it. The idea is that even if a person is very exalted and knows everything, before his superior he should present questions. For instance, although Arjuna knew all the transcendental science, he questioned Krishna as if he did not know. Similarly, Prithu Maharaja knew everything, but he presented himself before the Kumaras as if he did not know anything. The idea is that questions by exalted persons put before the Supreme Personality of Godhead or His devotees are meant for the benefit of the general people.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 4.22.18 Purport)

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Friend1: Maybe I have asked you this before…

Friend2: About?

Friend1: At a Krishna-katha event, gathering, or what have you, at the end the speaker sometimes asks if there are any questions.

Friend2: Right. That makes sense. Discourses about the Supreme Personality of Godhead constitute the highest subject matter. Just the second chapter of the Bhagavad-gita alone can be studied, questioned, analyzed, contemplated for an entire lifetime.

Friend1: For sure. The most profound truth I encountered when first reading it was the deathless nature of the soul.

Friend2: “For the soul there is never birth nor death. Nor, having once been, does he ever cease to be. He is unborn, eternal, ever-existing, undying and primeval. He is not slain when the body is slain.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.20)

Friend1: There you go.

Friend2: If you just read that one verse out loud, the talk qualifies as Krishna-katha.

Friend1: You are quoting from the Supreme Lord. That verse can trigger endless discussion.

Friend2: Absolutely. So what was the issue you wanted to bring up?

[Prabhupada giving lecture]Friend1: Okay, so having attended many of these discourses, sometimes there aren’t any questions afterwards.

Friend2: People are shy. They don’t want to look foolish in front of an esteemed speaker.

Friend1: Sure. Many reasons. What happens next is where it gets interesting. If it looks like no questions are forthcoming, one of the regulars will chime in.

Friend2: By “regulars” you mean a person who attends on a regular basis or someone whose knowledge is beyond that of the novice?

Friend1: The latter. Basically, I know that they know the answer to the question they’re asking. Sometimes it gets a little ridiculous. They’ll ask, “What is soul?”

Friend2: When you know for a fact that they know exactly what the soul is.

Friend1: There you go. The discourse may not even have touched upon the nature of the basic functional unit of life, the identifying agent within every animated being.

Friend2: And you want to know why they are intentionally asking a question they know the answer to?

Friend1: Yeah. I mean, come on. You can do better than that, no? I get a kick out of it.

Friend2: I can see why you get amused, but you should know that the practice is keeping with tradition.

Friend1: What do you mean?

Friend2: Etiquette, to be more specific. The question gives an opportunity for the speaker to look good. If they look good, then the cause of bhakti-yoga is furthered. That is the whole objective. Esoteric understanding of this topic or that, knowledge of the spirit soul, consciousness of the guaranteed nature of death - this information is only valuable if it sparks service to the Divine, who is ultimately and originally a person, purusha.

Friend1: But isn’t the behavior disingenuous? You’re presenting yourself as less knowledgeable when you are not. It is deception, is it not?

Friend2: There are many examples from history that support the practice. The Bhagavad-gita itself is one. Arjuna was wise. He was a lifelong friend to Krishna, after all. With many of the questions he already knew the answer. The discourse was an opportunity to benefit future generations of man.

Friend1: I’ve also heard it said that Arjuna’s ignorance was only temporary, being under the influence of yogamaya, which is the good kind of illusory energy, controlled directly by Krishna.

[King Prithu with four Kumaras]Friend2: That’s true. There is also the case of Maharaja Prithu. He one time presented himself to be ignorant in front of the four Kumaras. They appreciated his humble attitude. Again, the purpose was the same, to benefit the people in general. The etiquette may look odd at first, but if you try to place yourself in the role of speaker, you start to see how endearing it is. It is something like a pitcher intentionally throwing you a hanging curveball, for you to knock out of the ballpark. When the devotee of the Supreme Lord shines in their glorification of Him, everyone benefits.

In Closing:

Beneficial when speaking to look good,

More than just topics to be understood.


That others fire of devotion to ignite,

Hopes in bliss of devotion to alight.


So sometimes asking that already known,

For further explanation in public shown.


Etiquette since King Prithu coming,

Who ignorant with Kumaras becoming.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

With Sweet Purpose And Great Meaning

[Sita-Rama]“Thus having spoken those words of great meaning and sweet purpose to the best of Vanaras, Sita Devi became silent, so as to hear his pleasant words connected to the purpose of Rama.” (Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 36.31)

iti iva devī vacanam mahāartham |
tam vānara indram madhura artham uktvā |

śrotum punaḥ tasya vaco abhirāmam |
rāma artha yuktam virarāma rāmā ||

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The art of persuasion. How do you get what you want from someone, meeting a personal interest, without them knowing your true intentions? After all, to get something you have to give something. The other side may not be willing to part with what you want.

There are different tactics. One is to threaten. If the other side doesn’t give in, then everything will be ruined. They won’t benefit and you’ll just move on to someone else. In the open you say that you don’t need them, when in truth you do.

Another tactic is flattery. Speak sweetly. Raise the positive aspects of the other person. Tell them how skilled you think they are. Of course, there is dishonesty in this path. You are only speaking this way to get what you want.

The devotees of the Supreme Personality of Godhead have the amazing ability to speak words that are both sweet and meaningful. The truth sometimes hurts. If I tell someone that they are going to die, they may not like it. I might quote from the Bhagavad-gita, where it is stated that the consciousness at the time of death determines the next type of body.

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

Another body means another birth. Another birth means again enduring the dualities of aversion and attachment, cold and heat, sadness and happiness. The experience is in illusion, and again the consciousness will be measured when quitting the body to determine the next destination.

“O scion of Bharata [Arjuna], O conqueror of the foe, all living entities are born into delusion, overcome by the dualities of desire and hate.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.27)

How do I get these points across without offending others? Basically, I am saying that everyone, including myself, is born into delusion. The dualities overcome us and the only way out is to surrender to the Supreme Lord. This is God the person; more than an abstract or theoretical concept.

In the above referenced verse from the Ramayana the subject matter is God Himself, in His beautiful incarnation of Shri Rama. Sita, who is a devi, or goddess-like, has just uttered words that are appropriate to the situation and also sweet. The words certainly belied the situation. Sita was in Lanka against her will, threatened by the king to give in to his advances or be killed.

Her words were to a stranger. She just met Hanuman, who is described here as the best of the Vanaras, which are living entities in monkey-like bodies. She spoke sweetly because the subject matter was Rama, who is the reservoir of all pleasure. Not just ordinary pleasure, either - transcendental. This makes sense. God must be all-attractive. That is the meaning to the name Krishna, who is also a person. He is the same Rama, God, appearing on earth at a different time and giving a different visual.

[Prithu Maharaja with four kumaras]Only when a person is connected to devotional service can they speak truthfully and sweetly at the same time. Another instance was with King Prithu. He addressed the four Kumaras, who are travelling devotees in the form of celibate youths. They appreciated the questions the king raised one time.

“The great sage Maitreya continued: Thus Sanat-kumara, the best of the celibates, after hearing the speech of Prithu Maharaja, which was meaningful, appropriate, full of precise words and very sweet to hear, smiled with full satisfaction and began to speak as follows.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 4.22.17)

After speaking Sita became silent, ready to hear what Hanuman’s response was going to be. While Sita’s words are described to be sweet, madhura, Hanuman’s speech is said to be abhirama, which means pleasant. After all, the living entities have been waiting to hear such news for the longest time. Any information directly pertaining to the Supreme Lord’s activities is soothing to the ear.

[Sita-Rama]In this situation Hanuman has words specifically about Rama’s purpose, or artha. The Supreme Lord is ready to rescue Sita. He is making the necessary preparations. Sita will soon be reunited with the one who is eternally by her side. She is the feminine aspect of the Divine, and He the masculine. Together they are essentially one. Since Hanuman has no other business besides devotional service, his words continue to remain abhirama.

In Closing:

To persuade person having their ear,

Threaten or give what wanting to hear?


Art with tactics contradicting,

No guarantee of outcome predicting.


Only devotees speaking truthful and sweet,

Like Sita when first time Hanuman to meet.


He too wonderful news from mouth emitting,

Of husband Rama towards rescue committing.

Monday, June 5, 2017

The Three Steps To Defeating Intelligence

[Krishna's lotus feet]“When we forget our real constitutional position and wish to enjoy the material resources, our material desires manifest, and we associate with varieties of material enjoyment. As soon as the concoctions of material enjoyment are there, because of our association we create a sort of lust or eagerness to enjoy them, and when that false enjoyment does not actually make us happy, we create another illusion, known as anger, and by the manifestation of anger, the illusion becomes stronger. When we are illusioned in this way, forgetfulness of our relationship with Krishna follows, and by thus losing Krishna consciousness, our real intelligence is defeated.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 4.22.14 Purport)

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You should know better. Better judgment advises against. Go in the other direction. Take a pass. You have knowledge guided by experience. Still, somehow you indulge. You give in to the temptation, only to regret it later on. A long time ago the wise Arjuna was baffled by the same issue. He wondered what drives a person towards sin, as if they have no control over behavior.

“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)

From Vedic teachings we learn that the individual is spirit soul. We can say that someone is something, but for a real understanding that something should have distinct properties. In this regard, the soul is bliss, eternity, and knowledge. That soul is the animating spark in every species, including the non-human ones.

Fragments of individual spirit are equal to one another. Not that I am you or you are me, but we have the same qualities at the root level. How, then, is there varying intelligence? The tiger is obviously not as wise as the human being, but as spirit soul it should have the same level of intelligence.

The answer lies in the properties of what is not spirit, namely matter. Matter covers the spirit soul when there is a fall to the material world. That fall is instigated through desire, which triggers forgetfulness of the constitutional position. From there a chain of events leads to the defeat of intelligence.

1. Material enjoyment

Birth in the material world is referred to as a fall. It’s like dropping into a pit while walking along peacefully. The descent is not preferred, but that’s only when there is the proper consciousness, of which knowledge is an aspect.

The fall takes place through desire to enjoy separate from the Almighty, who is Supreme Spirit. He is bliss, eternity, and knowledge just like us, except to a magnitude unimaginable. This gives the meaning to the concept of achintya-bhedabheda-tattva, as propounded by Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. The living beings are equal to God and at the same time different. The combination is inconceivable to the mind.

When material desires manifest, there are corresponding objects of interaction. This is material enjoyment. It is a kind of illusion, since there won’t really be any enjoyment. Maybe some temporary ups, but sure to be followed by downs.

2. Lust to enjoy

Material enjoyment is there, and the corresponding desire is kama, or lust. I want to take another shot of whiskey, even though I know better. The last time I drank too much I didn’t like the effects later on. I swore then to never drink again. Of course that is not happening. The material enjoyment is there, and so lust is the natural byproduct.

3. Anger due to lack of enjoyment

The material enjoyment was a kind of illusion, and then there was the illusion to enjoy. The last illusion is anger. This is from frustration in indulgence. Maybe I got a little sukha, or happiness, from the interaction with the material nature. Maybe there was some pleasure.

The problem is the next time the same activity won’t bring as much pleasure. Or maybe I will be impeded in my quest to enjoy. Anger is the natural result. It is an illusion since the objects of enjoyment were material all along. They never matched the nature of the individual, who is spirit soul.

From anger there is loss of intelligence, and from there the fate of the individual for the next life is sealed. There is rebirth. If you have lost intelligence, how will you escape from the cycle of birth and death? How will your desires change for good if you don’t know better?

“From anger, delusion arises, and from delusion bewilderment of memory. When memory is bewildered, intelligence is lost, and when intelligence is lost, one falls down again into the material pool.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.63)

The aim of the human birth can be summed up in one word: remembrance. Remember the constitutional position. Understand the illusion that is material existence. Know that reality lies within, with the source of identity. Know that the source of reality is the Supreme Lord, who is the best friend and well-wisher to everyone. If you know Him, then you know everything needed to be known.

[Krishna's lotus feet]Indeed, the teachings about the steps leading to the defeat of intelligence come directly from Him. The words are not merely to be used to give a lecture or pass an examination. The teachings are there to enlighten the individual, to break them free from the illusion. Real pleasure comes from surrender to the Divine, sharanagati.

In Closing:

Material enjoyment coming at a cost,

With three steps intelligence lost.


From objects then lust coming,

From frustration angry becoming.


All an illusion, nothing really there,

To become clear when of spirit aware.


From only surrender in devotion real,

Beyond maya, lasting pleasure to feel.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

One Reason For Living

[Sita-Rama]“Neither His mother, nor father, nor anyone else is equal to or greater than me in receiving His affection. O messenger, I wish to survive for only as long as I hear about my beloved.” (Sita Devi speaking to Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 36.30)

na ca asya mātā na pitā na ca anyaḥ na |
snehāt viśiṣṭo asti mayā samo vā |

tāvadt hi aham dūta jijīviṣeyam |
yāvat pravṛttim śṛṇuyām priyasya ||

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How else would you survive such a terrible situation? No friends in sight. It’s like moving to a brand new place, far away from where you previously called home for so long. You’re in this new place not by choice; against your will someone dragged you there.

Forget family, loved ones or well-wishers - everyone there is against you. The leader of the land, King Ravana, has ordered his attendants to harass you day and night. He wants you to be his chief queen, but that idea can never come to fruition. For starters, the leader is ten-headed, wicked, and terrible. He already has many beautiful queens, so why is he bothering you?

Moreover, your heart already belongs to someone else. That person is very dear to you, priya. The affection isn’t in the typical manner. Love in the material world isn’t really what we think of it. Most times it is lust, which is known as kama in Sanskrit.

Think about it. If your beloved totally rejected you, stole all your money, and never spoke to you again, would you continue to love them? Maybe an attachment would remain, but eventually the heart moves on. This ability to switch objects of affection, where people fall in and out of favor, is the prime indication of kama.

Sita’s love for Rama was bhakti. Not that she was practicing it as a way of self-purification. Not that she had tried other forms of yoga in the hopes of gaining release from the cycle of birth and death. Rather, bhakti is what defines her. It is her very existence. She is the eternal consort of the Supreme Lord. He is compassion personified, and the person who unflinchingly serves Him in an amorous mood is bhakti personified.

From the above referenced verse from the Ramayana we get an idea of how to survive in a difficult situation. Sita, who is the eternal consort appearing on earth in an incarnation form, is under the constant threat of death, for Ravana’s kama has turned against him. Still, she is willing to stay alive. She wants only to hear about her husband.

She is hearing some things about him now through the duta, or messenger. Shri Hanuman has bravely journeyed to Lanka to find Sita and bring her news about Rama and what He is planning to do for rescue. As a pure devotee, Sita thinks that Rama has been the most favorable to her. She believes that no one is equal or superior to her in receiving the Divine mercy.

This is gratefulness, which is a trait that is both beneficial and indicative of intelligence. Those who are in bhakti automatically acquire all good attributes; a separate endeavor is not required. As God, Rama is equal to all. But one who renders service to Him becomes a friend.

“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)

[Sita-Rama]Rama’s wife gives testimony to just how powerful Hari-katha is. These are discourses about the Supreme Lord, who is known by names such as Hari, Rama, Krishna, and Vishnu. Hearing itself is capable of delivering a person from the most dangerous situation. Physical movement is not necessary. Neither is gaining opulence or increasing renunciation. The indescribable feeling of surrender in devotion, sharanagati, has only one requirement: desire. If there is desire to serve God, to hear about Him, then living even in an otherwise miserable condition becomes blissful.

In Closing:

Into the worst situation to reach,

Hostile is surrounding person each.


Elusive peace far away in distance,

Living then why in this instance?


From Sita power of hearing shown,

From Hanuman about Rama known.


That Hari-katha to have effect on all,

Turning large task of liberation small.