Saturday, June 17, 2017

Four Ways To Understand God Through Nature

[Krishna's lotus feet]“Besides this inferior nature, O mighty-armed Arjuna, there is a superior energy of Mine, which are all living entities who are struggling with material nature and are sustaining the universe.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.5)

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Shri Krishna is mercy personified. He is the greatest well-wishing friend of every living entity. His dedicated servants inherit the same property. His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada would sign letters to his disciples with the words, “your ever well-wisher.”

The same Prabhupada would remark that even the drunkard can understand God. Sobriety is a requirement when operating potentially dangerous machinery like an automobile, so why wouldn’t it be as much required when trying to understand the origin of everything?

“O son of Kunti [Arjuna], I am the taste of water, the light of the sun and the moon, the syllable om in the Vedic mantras; I am the sound in ether and ability in man.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.8)

Even when in the intoxicated state a person is not completely shut out of the Divine mercy. When consuming their adult beverage of choice, they can consider that Shri Krishna is the taste of that beverage. He says as much in the Bhagavad-gita, where He equates Himself with the taste of water. God is the essence of everything.

This mercy is extended to those who have a difficult time believing God to have a form, name, or personality. They believe in a higher concept, but the idea of an all-attractive youth holding a flute in His hands and incarnating in the statue in the temple is a little too much to accept in a single sitting.

They would rather appreciate the higher power through nature, which is amazing, artistic, and predictable. Just as with the taste of water, there is a way to understand God through nature. The understanding doesn’t have to come in an unauthorized way, either, through something dangerous like mental speculation.

1. A separated energy

Earth, water, fire, air and ether. These are the five gross elements found in the material world. Taken together, in varying combinations and proportions, we get up to 8,400,000 kinds of suits or sets of clothes. The occupant within those suits is spirit soul, who is part and parcel of God.

In the Bhagavad-gita, Krishna says that those occupants are actually part of the superior energy. The gross elements, along with the subtle elements of mind, intelligence and ego, constitute the inferior energy.

Despite the amazing aura of nature, and how it can overcome tiny bodies through brute force like natural disasters, the living entities are actually superior. In this way we can understand that spirit is more important to God than matter. Nature is nothing more than a large collection of matter.

2. Disinterest

Since spirit is the superior energy, God does not have much interest in the material. Nature is not that important to Him. He has deputies running the day to day functions. We demark a day based on the rising and setting of the sun, but in the higher scheme a day is in relation to the length of time of the creation, which comes to be through Lord Brahma, the creator.

“When Brahma's day is manifest, this multitude of living entities comes into being, and at the arrival of Brahma's night they are all annihilated.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 8.17)

The creation goes through cycles. It is manifest, then after some time it is dissolved. The living entities who are not perfectly God conscious come and go. They arrive and then they disappear. The Supreme Lord does not take much interest.

3. Accompanying

Despite the material nature being inferior and Him not having much interest in the changes that are like something appearing in a dream, Shri Krishna still accompanies each and every living thing. The superior energy is the spirit soul occupying the temporary body, and alongside the individual is the Supersoul. He is like the great sanctioning authority, overseeing but not interfering with choices.

“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 is inside both the thief and the saint. The worst person has God inside of them. For this reason the wise offer respects to everyone, including the tiger. Not that they will behave naively, but they can see the Divine everywhere. They don’t limit their vision to places openly identified as having spiritual association.

4. Not becoming

Nature comes from God, but God never becomes nature. Everything taken together is part of His definition, but He is never a component of any object’s definition.

“By Me, in My unmanifested form, this entire universe is pervaded. All beings are in Me, but I am not in them.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.4)

This is a key distinction. In the mentally concocted understanding, God becomes nature. If this were true, then it means God becomes divided. If He could be divided, it means that His potency is prone to being diminished. Any higher being that is diminished means they cannot be supreme. After all, even the individual soul cannot be cut up.

“The soul can never be cut into pieces by any weapon, nor can he be burned by fire, nor moistened by water, nor withered by the wind.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.23)

[Krishna's lotus feet]Material nature is one aspect to the inconceivably potent Supreme Lord. More amazing are His benevolence and His ever forgiving nature. Despite lifetimes spent forgetting Him, any person who remains conscious of Him at the time of death no longer has to appear in the world managed by Lord Brahma and others.

In Closing:

Even when into intoxication to sink,

Potential to know God through drink.


The taste, essence of everything being,

Means that also in nature seeing.


Separated energy, not directly caring,

Like in a dream, up and down faring.


Created by Him, but never becoming,

As Supersoul with every spirit coming.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Can Devotion Be Considered Flattery

[Dhruva and Vishnu]“Although Dhruva Maharaja was a small boy, he wanted to offer prayers to the Supreme Personality of Godhead in suitable language. But because he was inexperienced, he could not adjust himself immediately. The Supreme Personality of Godhead, being situated in everyone's heart, could understand Dhruva Maharaja's awkward position. Out of His causeless mercy He touched His conchshell to the forehead of Dhruva Maharaja, who stood before Him with folded hands.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 4.9.4)

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Friend1: You know about the four kinds of diplomacy?

Friend2: Mentioned in the Vedas?

Friend1: Yes.

Friend2: Yes.

Friend1: I find it so interesting. You have these books that are at least thousands of years old. I know in truth that there is no known date of inception.

Friend2: The Vedas are an extension of the Supreme Lord Himself, who is beginning-less, or anadi. The Vedas are so important that even when God comes as an incarnation and preaches against them, the people in general don’t listen.

Friend1: Like in the case with the Lord Buddha incarnation.

Friend2: Exactly.

Friend1: So with all of these government officials working day and night to craft policy, the whole art of state administration can be summed up in four methods.

Friend2: Sama, dana, bheda and danda.

Friend1: Flattery, charity, division and force.

Friend2: Yeah, obviously you can elaborate further on each method. Sama is likely the easiest of the four paths. Just be nice to the other person. Flatter them. Don’t make a direct enemy out of them. That way maybe they will give you what you want.

Friend1: Dana is simple, too. It’s essentially bribery. Give the other party something. Men have been following this path for years to get out of trouble with wives and girlfriends.

[flower bouquet]Friend2: Haha, that’s true.

Friend1: I like bheda because there is a covert aspect to it.

Friend2: It’s kind of an underhanded tactic. You’re trying to get the other side to fight itself. Divide up the members and see if they can destroy themselves. This way you don’t have to do anything.

Friend1: And danda is brute force.

Friend2: When all else fails, flex your muscles, show your might.

Friend1: Alright, so the question I had relates to sama and dana, I guess.

Friend2: Which are generally reserved for the weaker party. The stronger party can use force at any time, if they desire.

Friend1: Okay, so that sets the table even better. We have the strongest party in God Himself. Since He is Bhagavan, one of the attributes He possesses is full strength.

Friend2: Yes.

Friend1: We are the weaker party since we struggle in the material existence. From the time of birth we are immediately overcome by the dualities of attachment and aversion.

“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)

Friend2: Delusion affects everyone.

Friend1: So wouldn’t you say that approaching God, serving Him, is kind of diplomacy? You have the weaker party trying to flatter the stronger party.

Friend2: So much of Vedic literature is people offering prayers. There were the different demigods who tried to pacify the angry Narasimhadeva after He killed the evil Hiranyakashipu. Indra offered prayers in contrition to Krishna after the plan to kill the residents of Vrindavana was defeated by the Lord’s lifting of Govardhana Hill. There are countless examples, really.

Friend1: Perfect. That’s exactly what I wanted to hear. Aren’t those prayers equivalent to diplomacy, then? They are not genuine. It’s a way of getting what you want. It’s an angle to work the other side.

Friend2: And so you’re saying we shouldn’t give those words such importance?

Friend1: I’m just confused. Is it bhakti or is it something else?

Friend2: That is the magic of approaching God directly. Even if you are full of desires in the beginning, the association is purifying. The connection changes desires. The classic example is Dhruva Maharaja. He was so upset at being insulted in the kingdom that he went to the forest to get what he wanted. He meditated and underwent austerities for the purpose of pacifying God and achieving personal objectives.

Friend1: And then God came to Him, right? In the form of Narayana?

[Dhruva and Vishnu]Friend2: Yes. But something interesting occurred. Dhruva forgot about revenge. His desires changed. So in that situation you could say that maybe he was trying to win something from the Supreme Lord. The devotion wasn’t pure. Still, it was worth it. None of us are perfect. It is better to try diplomacy with Narayana than with an ordinary person. Narayana has the most valuable gift to give, bhakti, which is the eternal, original life for every spark of the spiritual energy.

In Closing:

Vedas giving many reasons to adore,

Like passing on diplomacy ways four.


To work the other side in course,

Bribe, divide or even use force.


Pacify and flatter easiest way,

Same not when to God to pray?


Magic of bhakti, like with Dhruva shown,

Desires changed to pure service alone.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Are The Residents Of Vrindavana Considered Distressed

[Krishna swallowing forest fire]“The Personality of Godhead heard the appealing voices of His friends, and casting a pleasing glance over them, He began to answer. By speaking through His eyes, He impressed His friends that there was no cause for fear. Then Krishna, the supreme mystic, the powerful Personality of Godhead, immediately swallowed up all the flames of the fire.” (Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 1, Ch 19)

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Friend1: There is that famous verse from the Bhagavad-gita about the four kinds of people.

Friend2: Isn’t every verse famous?

Friend1: They should be, but you know what I mean.

Friend2: Probably meant to say, “The often quoted verse.”

Friend1: There you go. If you already know what I mean, what need is there to correct?

Friend2: What fun is it if I just let you go on without interruption?

Friend1: You know the verse of which I speak, I presume.

Friend2: “O best among the Bharatas [Arjuna], four kinds of pious men render devotional service unto Me—the distressed, the desirer of wealth, the inquisitive, and he who is searching for knowledge of the Absolute.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.16)

Friend1: There you go.

Friend2: So what’s your question?

Friend1: I always liked that verse because it reminds me of so many situations from life. The situations are depicted well on screen, and I can also relate from my own experience.

Friend2: Such as?

Friend1: Who hasn’t been distressed at some point and turned to the heavens? I particularly like the prayer of, “God, please help me out this one time. I promise to never bother you again.”

Friend2: That is a good one. That person belongs in the category of “distressed.” You end up going back to Him when you need something again, which you surely will.

Friend1: And who doesn’t want money?

Friend2: The Sanskrit word is artha, which means “profit.” Basically, you want a successful outcome to your efforts. Who wants to do work for nothing? Even in charity there is some expectation that the effort expended is benefitting someone.

Friend1: So the question I had relates to the distressed category. Well, first let me ask if these four kinds of people are practicing bhakti.

Friend2: It’s the preliminary stage. It’s the entryway. Think of it like four different doors that lead a person to the Supreme Lord. Since He is all-attractive, one name for Him is Krishna.

[Lord Krishna]Friend1: Perfect. Exactly what I wanted to hear. So the question is about the residents of Vrindavana.

Friend2: Which Vrindavana? The original spiritual abode of Shri Krishna, known as Goloka Vrindavana, or the replica version of the same place found in this land?

Friend1: It doesn’t matter so much because the question pertains to the people, really. Let’s say we’re talking about the Vrindavana on this earth, but during the time when Krishna was here. I choose this time and place intentionally, because I know in Goloka Vrindavana there are no asuras.

Friend2: Right. You can’t have bad guys there. As soon as there is a hint of desire to go against God, which is the definition of bad, then you descend to the material world.

Friend1: Alright.

Friend2: So which residents did you want to ask about?

Friend1: I’ll give you an example. There is the story of the forest fire.

Friend2: Oh, yes. Krishna and His friends are in the forest and suddenly a major fire develops around them.

Friend1: And so Krishna’s friends have no other hope. They look to Him to save them.

Friend2: Which the Lord easily does by swallowing the entire fire. He can do that because there is nothing material about Him. No element, even in the largest quantity, can influence Him. He is above the three modes of nature, the different elements contained within, and even the three kinds of ways they cause misery to people.

[Krishna swallowing forest fire]Friend1: Nice. Here’s the issue. We know that the associates of Krishna in Vrindavana are the most elevated souls.

Friend2: For sure. There must be qualification to associate so intimately with Krishna. The Supreme Lord’s association isn’t so cheap. The qualification can be quickly acquired, but the biggest hurdle is desire. There’s a reason some yogis spend years and years, lifetimes even, without reaching the same person who was bound up in the ropes of mother Yashoda’s love.

Friend1: Alright, but aren’t the friends in the situation of the forest fire considered part of the aforementioned “distressed” category? They were in trouble. They had no one else except Krishna to save them. And if they are distressed in that way, isn’t their bhakti, or devotion, at a preliminary level?

Friend2: Great questions. First, many of these associates already had been jnanis before. As you know, when Krishna mentions the four groups in the Bhagavad-gita, in the next verse He says that the jnanis are the most dear.

Friend1: Oh yeah. That’s right.

Friend2: The reason is obvious. The jnani knows things as they are. They understand the difference between matter and spirit and how sense gratification is the aim for the lower species. The human being has a higher purpose to fulfill. Therefore when such a person starts bhakti-yoga, they aren’t really looking for anything more. Such a person quickly becomes dear to Krishna.

Friend2: So the male cowherd friends of Krishna were already jnanis?

Friend1: In a previous existence. It is said that many of the female friends, the gopis, were highly advanced ascetics in a previous life, as well. This proves two things. One is that jnana is not the end. Knowledge is one path towards reaching the Supreme Lord. The second is that bhakti is the ultimate destination. That’s where a second life begins, one that is actually eternal.

Friend2: Alright, so I am glad you stipulated that. Wouldn’t the forest fire incident raise a contradiction? You have people in the second, eternal life, but then they are still distressed. How is that considered a liberated state?

Friend1: Great questions. The explanation is that the emotions are transcendental. It’s a way of interacting in bhakti. Devotional life is full of ups and downs, positive and negative emotions, changes in experience, etc. The idea is that every condition is favorable towards devotion. The fear of the dangerous forest fire is a situation that allows for further closeness and reliance on God. It increases the surrender, which thus increases the bliss. I know you want to ask how much it can increase.

Friend2: I do!

Friend1: That is the beauty of bhakti. There is no limit. The surrender can continue increasing. Krishna is ever-fresh and new, and so is devotion to Him.

In Closing:

Never too much bhakti to do,

Since Lord ever fresh and new.


So even when in Vrindavana land,

Fear when dire situation at hand.


Like forest fire the boys to surround,

In helpless call to Krishna to sound.


Not like distressed in ordinary case,

Transcendental pleasure from fear to erase.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Three Ways To Explain Kirtana

[Lord Chaitanya]“Talking of Krishna or singing of Krishna is called kirtana. Lord Chaitanya also recommends kirtaniyah sada harih, which means always thinking and talking of Krishna and nothing else. That is called Krishna consciousness.” (Krishna, The Supreme Personality Of Godhead, Vol 2, Ch 32)

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In this age there is no other way. The point is made three times, for emphasis. Whereas in the Satya Yuga you could achieve perfection through meditation, today the conditions aren’t ideal. Who has the time to properly meditate? Not just sitting on the floor for five minutes and then returning to the daily stresses - actually focusing on the Divine in order to enter trance is very difficult in the age of technology. There are warnings for drivers to not use their handheld devices while operating a vehicle. Such a warning shouldn’t be necessary, but the temptation of distraction is often too great to pass up. Distractions of that kind are everywhere.

In the Treta Yuga it was religious sacrifice. Large quantities of clarified butter offered in just the right manner by an expert priest would win you tremendous pious credits. In the third age, Dvapara, it was elaborate deity worship.

In this age it is simply the sankirtana yajna, the sacrifice of chanting the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. These names can be chanted in any manner, but there is special emphasis on kirtana.

The Sanskrit word is taken to mean “congregational chanting,” but what exactly does that entail? Using concepts of which we are already familiar can provide a better understanding.

1. Like Christmas carols

A song says that “it’s the most wonderful time of the year.” People in some parts of the world don’t have a grasp on how cold winter can really be. In the Northeast in the United States there is snow and cold temperatures, welcomed in by the Christmas season.

One of the traditions is to sing carols. Sometimes groups go door to door to sing the songs, out of sheer joy. They wish to celebrate the season and the person who is to be honored, Jesus Christ.

Kirtana is like singing Christmas carols, but all the time. God’s mercy is there year-round. He doesn’t take a break in making sure the sun rises and sets at the appropriate times. He doesn’t skip a day in providing food.

The soul should be happy, and in its constitutional position, its dharma, it gets tremendous happiness through service. One way to serve is to sing the glories of God. When done in public, others benefit from hearing the transcendental sound.

2. Like a choir in church

Church tends to be serious. It is the place to confess your sins, to ask for blessings from God, and to remember that there is a person upstairs who judges. One aspect of church is the choir. They sing various songs, but again the purpose matches the Christmas carols. The aim of spiritual life, religion in general, is to serve, worship, and love God.

Kirtana is like the choir in church, but not restricted to a specific environment. This travelling type of chanting, the sankirtana movement, was inaugurated in the modern age by Shri Krishna Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, a preacher incarnation of the Supreme Lord.

[Lord Chaitanya]If you don’t like the church environment, you don’t have to go. Is the president of the local temple a crook, someone who is in it for the money instead of helping people? You can avoid such a person and still receive the benefits of kirtana. So many kind and merciful souls have taken sankirtana to the people instead of waiting for them to arrive.

3. Basic call and response

This is where kirtana stands apart. Hearing is sufficient for reaching the perfection of life. Just hear about God. Shravanam is the Sanskrit word. The practice of delivering the sound is known as Hari-katha. Rama-katha and Krishna-katha are essentially identical terms. The idea is to hear about God, who is known as Bhagavan since He is a person. A person, purusha, has different ways that He enjoys prakriti. Just hearing about His enjoyment in the right mood can bring perfection in life.

Hearing is passive and chanting is active. Kirtana is special because it can be both passive and active, on either side. The people leading the chanting are obviously actively engaged. They become passive when they hear the response from the people listening. This means that the other side usually just doesn’t sit and listen. They participate, as well. Just from responding once to a line of the maha-mantra, a person accrues so much spiritual merit. From the potency of kirtana we see that age, gender, ethnicity, language or other material designations are no barriers for reconnecting with the best well-wishing friend of every living entity.

In Closing:

Kirtana in Sanskrit dictionary to find,

But how to modern day can define?


Like Christmas carols happily singing,

Glories of God to people bringing.


Or choir in church found,

But not to location bound.


Benefit everywhere to response and call,

No barriers, mercy available to all.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Three Examples Of The Potency Of Transcendental Sound

[Valmiki writing Ramayana]“The Sanskrit word mantra is a combination of two syllables, man and tra. Man means ‘mind,’ and tra means ‘deliverance.’ Therefore a mantra is that which delivers you from mental concoction, from hovering on the mental plane. So if you chant this mantra—Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare—very soon you'll find that you are coming from the darkness to the light.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Journey of Self-Discovery, Ch 2.6)

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The typical use of the word “mantra” is with regards to repeating something.

  • “It’s our company mantra: work until you get the job done.”
  • “My mantra during that particular time was, ‘Don’t give up.’ I would tell that to myself every day.”

The word is actually of Sanskrit origin, consisting of two terms. “Man” refers to the mind. “Tra” refers to trayate, which means “to deliver.” Therefore a simple definition of mantra is “to deliver the mind.”

Vedic culture, which has descended from time immemorial, starting with the person of no known origin, brings many mantras to us. From reading history contained in works like the Ramayana, Shrimad Bhagavatam, and Mahabharata we see that from a single mantra amazing things can happen.

The secret is in the potency of sound, and more specifically, transcendental sound. Just like a particular potion can cure an ailment within the body, a sound vibration, uttered properly and through authority, can be as powerful as physical objects, things with perceptible form.

1. Prahlada overcoming Hiranyakashipu

On one side you had a very powerful king. Just how powerful? The good guys around the world feared him. Though they had potency themselves, they knew Hiranyakashipu was immune against attacks in so many different situations. The good guys hid in different places to avoid his wrath.

That king was overcome by his own son, the five-year old Prahlada. How did the boy do it? Did he follow an exercise regimen? Did he pray for favor from the same benefactor who helped the father, Lord Brahma? Did he enlist outside help, with a bodyguard detail protecting him day and night?

Actually, all it took was sound. The boy received that sound while in the womb, no less. Narada Muni, the travelling glorifier of God the person, imparted wisdom to the mother while she was pregnant. At the time of birth, unlike in most other cases, Prahlada remembered everything he heard. Even his own mother forgot over time.

“Narada Muni delivered his instructions both to me, who was within the womb, and to my mother, who was engaged in rendering him service. Because he is naturally extremely kind to the fallen souls, being in a transcendental position, he gave instructions on religion and transcendental knowledge. These instructions were free from all material contamination.” (Prahlada Maharaja, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 7.7.15)

The transcendental sound accepted by Prahlada allowed him to stay fixed in devotional service, bhakti-yoga. That connection to the Divine protected him against the antagonism which came from practically everyone in the kingdom. In the end, the Supreme Lord got so fed up with Hiranyakashipu’s attempts at murder that He appeared in a half-man/half-lion form to do away with the king.

2. Lakshmana overcoming Indrajit

The same Narasimhadeva appeared on earth at a different time in Ayodhya, as a handsome warrior prince. Named Rama, He had three younger brothers, with Lakshmana the closest in terms of constantly staying by His side.

The two brothers learned the military art of fighting with the bow and arrow during youth. Their preceptor, Vishvamitra, was pleased with their service offered to him, so he passed on to them confidential mantras to be used in battle. These amazing sounds would augment the potency of their released arrows to the point of matching modern day nuclear weapons.

In one battle Lakshmana was facing off with the son of the king of Lanka. The fighter was named Indrajit since he had once conquered the king of heaven, Indra. After a lengthy conflict, Lakshmana was prepared to release an arrow to finish the enemy. But just before he did, he took the name of Rama. He swore on Rama’s dedication to dharma, or virtue. From the power of that sound the arrow reached its target and gave victory to the dedicated younger brother.

3. From highway robber to celebrated saint

The deeds of Lakshmana and Rama come to us primarily from a lengthy Sanskrit work known as the Ramayana. That sacred book may never have been written were it not for the power of transcendental sound and a seemingly chance meeting.

A highway robber by profession once stopped Narada Muni, looking to steal. The saint doesn’t have anything on him, since devotion is his wealth. Narada used the opportunity to ask some pointed, but sobering questions to the robber.

Soon realizing the error of his ways, the robber surrendered to Narada Muni. The saint then advised the thief to simply chant the name of Rama. Being unable due to the great accumulation of sin, a concession was made. The robber could chant the name backwards, which then gave it the meaning of “death,” to which the man was more accustomed.

[Valmiki writing Ramayana]What happened was that the chanting went on for so long, with such a deep trance, that an anthill formed around him. Chanted backwards, the sound of Rama was produced all the same. When Narada returned later on, he initiated the man into the bhakti tradition, giving him the name Valmiki. It was Valmiki who then authored the Ramayana. The amazing transformation took place through sound alone; the most potent one in fact, that of the holy name.

In Closing:

Not just in physical form found,

Most potent is transcendental sound.


Used Prahlada to compelling win,

Over Daitya father of heavy sin.


By Lakshmana of devotion unceasing,

Final arrow to Indrajit releasing.


From highway robber to saint celebrated,

By Narada with Valmiki name initiated.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Crown Yourself The Other Savior

[Lord Krishna]“Whether you are Karl Marx or Stalin or Mahatma Gandhi, a Hindu, a Muslim, or a Christian, you must serve. Because we are presently rendering service to so many people and so many things, we are becoming confused. Therefore, Krishna advises us to give up all this service and serve Him alone:” (Shrila Prabhupada, Journey of Self-Discovery, Ch 7.2)

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Friend1: I noticed something interesting about the people who say there is no God.

Friend2: That they are less intelligent?

Friend1: That’s a given.

Friend2: After all, how do you explain the origin? There is a beginning to everything. We may not know what it is. We have no way to go back and verify with our eyes what occurred.

Friend1: Not to mention that even if we could, our senses are not perfect. Sometimes people witness a crime but are unable to recall the specific details after the fact. The mind is a material element, after all.

Friend2: Good point. They make theories that the origin was a single cell. Or perhaps some chemicals exploded. Then came evolution.

Friend1: Fine, but what is the origin of the cell? Did it just magically appear? Also, who created the rules for allowing evolution? Do we know of any other cases of something intelligent resulting from randomness?

Friend2: The sun, the moon, the air, the oceans, the mountains - amazing scientific properties that can be studied, resulting in predictability in patterns and outcomes to actions. So what was it that you noticed?

Friend1: Well, they start by saying there is no God. That must be stated. They are vehemently against the concept of religion.

Friend2: Right.

Friend1: The thing is, they usually make someone god-like anyway.

Friend2: What do you mean?

Friend1: Like a renowned scientist is dubbed the smartest person in the world. A politician who promises to end poverty is like a messiah. The philanthropist who aims to stop hunger is hailed as the next savior.

Friend2: Yeah, you’re definitely right about that. I would add that the anointed saviors don’t even have to be real people.

Friend1: What do you mean?

Friend2: Consider the significant attention directed towards fictional characters, like from movies, literature and comic books.

Friend1: That’s so true. The fans dress up like the various characters. I always use that as proof that these people really do believe in God.

Friend2: How so?

[Mahabharata]Friend1: Because if they thought books like the Ramayana, Bhagavad-gita and Mahabharata were fiction, they would be completely into worshiping the characters. They’ve proven that they throw themselves into things that aren’t real. Their aversion to worship of the Divine, as designated by authority figures descending in the chain of disciplic succession, proves that deep down they understand that God is real.

Friend2: I must say, you are spot on there. If you look at characters like Hiranyakashipu and Ravana, they knew that God existed. They simply chose to go against Him. They thought that perhaps they could overcome Him and assume the top post themselves.

Friend1: So these different saviors come along, but none of them are perfect. They say, “Elect me and I’ll fix everything.”

Friend2: And they don’t fix anything.

Friend1: They say, “Put us in charge and we’ll change the weather.”

Friend2: Which is absurd.

Friend1: They say, “Choose your own path in life, just enjoy, and don’t worry so much. No need to read books.”

Friend2: And books are nothing more than written words originating with a person. If I shouldn’t read books then I shouldn’t listen to anyone. By extension, it means that I shouldn’t even listen to the person who tells me not to read books.

Friend1: Haha, that’s true.

Friend2: It’s in the nature of the soul to serve. That is the definition of dharma for the individual. Service is always there, so even if a person ignores God, they must serve someone or something. That is why these different saviors come along. You must follow them or you’ll be doomed. You must agree with their cause or you are a terrible person.

Friend1: And the only real savior is the Supreme Lord. Proof of His existence is everywhere in the distribution of spiritual sparks, known as Brahman. He is within every local space through the expansion known as the Supersoul. And in the full feature He is a person, an all-attractive Divine being with transcendental qualities beyond measure or comparison.

[Lord Krishna]Friend2: His existence and mercy are known to those who serve Him. Intimately connected with Him, they never make the mistake of accepting false saviors, who are flawed at the core. Such wise souls not only find happiness in this life, but their well-being for future lives is assured as well.

In Closing:

No God, to this world never came,

But worship from atheists the same.


This or some other savior to crown,

Happiness only through them found.


But flawed human being at the core,

Worshipers left wanting more.


Krishna Himself best to follow why,

His potency, in sound and practice rely.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Another Lesson On Humility

[Shri Hanuman]“Hearing the words of Sita, keeping his joined palms to his head, the son of the wind, of tremendous prowess, spoke the following words in response.” (Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 36.32)

sītāyā vacanam śrutvā mārutiḥ bhīma vikramaḥ |
śirasi añjalim ādhāya vākyam uttaram abravīt ||

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In this verse from the Ramayana, the word bhima is used. This Sanskrit word is also a name of a famous fighter. One of the five Pandava brothers, Bhima had tremendous strength. He was an offspring of the wind-god, Vayu. Wind is so powerful that it can knock down tall buildings. One who has control of the wind within the body is able to do amazing things. This is one of the benefits to the meditational yoga practice of pranayama.

“And there are even others who are inclined to the process of breath restraint to remain in trance, and they practice stopping the movement of the outgoing breath into the incoming, and incoming breath into the outgoing, and thus at last remain in trance, stopping all breathing. Some of them, curtailing the eating process, offer the outgoing breath into itself, as a sacrifice.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.29)

[Bhima]Bhima also means “fearful” or “tremendous.” This Ramayana verse references another son of the wind. Known as Hanuman, he is a brother to the Pandava Bhima, but appearing on earth many years prior. He also is very powerful.

Hanuman’s vikrama, prowess, is bhima. It is both tremendous and awe-inspiring. Proof is in the journey to Lanka, where the son of the wind leaped over a massive ocean. He first increased the size of his body, which is that of a Vanara, or forest-dwelling monkey.

That leap across the ocean is tremendous in a good way for the saintly class. Hanuman was on a mission. Shri Rama was looking for His wife, Sita Devi. Many Vanaras in Sugriva’s army were enlisted for the cause, but only Hanuman had the required ability to succeed in the end. He was blessed by the Supreme Lord, who is the ability in man, paurusham.

“O son of Kunti [Arjuna], I am the taste of water, the light of the sun and the moon, the syllable om in the Vedic mantras; I am the sound in ether and ability in man.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.8)

The leap was terrifying to the opposition. If Rama had one servant who could do this, what would happen if an entire army of capable fighters were to come to Lanka? There was apprehension over this happening, since the leader of Lanka had taken Sita there against her will. He had committed the worst sin, and time was ready to strike at the appropriate moment to deliver justice.

Despite having amazing ability, Hanuman here again shows his humility. Having heard sweet and appropriate words from Sita, after having just met her, Hanuman is preparing to respond. First, he makes sure to fold his hands and keep them upraised, on his head. This is a great sign of respect.

[Shri Hanuman]Hanuman knows that his abilities are only as good as the cause. Since they are used in God’s service, there is no false ego, ahankara. There is no pride that deludes the consciousness. Ravana, on the other hand, explicitly sought abilities from the creator Brahma. Though knowing that there was a benefactor, Ravana afterwards behaved as if he were a self-made man, very proud of his fighting prowess.

Humility is one quality that endears a person to God. Earning His favor is the most important. Who doesn’t prefer to be liked? Barring the heel character from professional wrestling, who makes it their business to intentionally irritate as many people as possible?

The person most worth impressing is the Supreme Lord. His Divine Grace Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura taught that one should act in ways that God will notice them instead of actively chasing a Divine vision. Hanuman is the perfect example in this regard. He saw God face to face, in the incarnation of Rama, and that wasn’t the end. He continued in service, acting fearlessly, using his tremendous prowess when necessary, and always maintaining the utmost humility.

In Closing:

Most amazing by him done,

Which could be repeated by none.


Over the ocean leapt,

But humility still kept.


When meeting Sita and hearing,

Appropriate and words endearing.


Preparing to respond before,

Bringing folded hands to fore.