Saturday, July 15, 2017

Five Reasons Arjuna Could Have Followed Krishna Blindly

[Krishna eating from akshaya patra]"Thus I have explained to you the most confidential of all knowledge. Deliberate on this fully, and then do what you wish to do." (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 18.63)

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A lifelong friend turned charioteer. A close relative turned spiritual guide. The person who helped so much in terms of support during difficult times is now providing answers to the most puzzling questions life has to offer.

Arjuna found himself in an interesting position. On the precipice of one of the greatest wars in history, he had some self-doubt. There was some uncertainty over the future outcome, as no one can fully know the exact details of the future. The bigger issue was the cost of victory. Millions of lives would be lost, included among them cousins, respected personalities from a higher generation within the family, and spiritual guides.

Arjuna turned to Krishna, who was previously only known as friend and cousin. The discussion that followed became known as the Bhagavad-gita, or “The Song of God.” Arjuna did not follow Krishna’s instruction blindly, but there is substantial justification if he would have.

1. Proved to be a great friend

Friends are made among equals, with a common interest shared. Neighbors become friends because of the link in location of residence. Colleagues become friends because of working in the same field or place of business. It’s easiest to make friends in school since so much time is spent in the same place.

Krishna was always a great friend to Arjuna. They were so close that they would often relax together, with Arjuna addressing Krishna casually and not with the respect that is due the Supreme Personality of Godhead. After getting proof of his friend’s Divine nature, Arjuna openly regretted some of his past behavior.

“I have in the past addressed You as ‘O Krishna,’ ‘O Yadava,’ ‘O my friend,’ without knowing Your glories. Please forgive whatever I may have done in madness or in love. I have dishonored You many times while relaxing or while lying on the same bed or eating together, sometimes alone and sometimes in front of many friends. Please excuse me for all my offenses.” (Arjuna, Bhagavad-gita, 11.41-42)

2. Saved Arjuna and his family from the wrath of Durvasa Muni

A saintly person is supposed to be level-headed. They understand that happiness and sadness come and go. Life has its ups and its downs, and those changes travel in and out, almost like the changing of seasons.

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

Though a saintly person, Durvasa Muni was known for his wrath, which no one wanted to see. The key was to avoid triggering the anger. Duryodhana was the leader of the rival cousins and he thought of a plan to use Durvasa’s wrath against Arjuna and company.

Arjuna was living in the forest at the time, with his four brothers and their mother, Kunti Devi. Duryodhana influenced Durvasa Muni enough to trigger a visit by the sage to the group. In those times properly receiving a guest was considered extremely important. In this case both sides knew the etiquette. The Pandavas had a special pot that could produce endless food, but the stipulation was that the supply stopped as soon as Draupadi, the wife, took her meal.

When Durvasa visited, he brought so many of his disciples with him. Draupadi had already eaten. The Pandavas bought some time when Durvasa decided to first go take a bath. Shri Krishna then happened to visit, and by taking the last morsel of food left in the special pot Durvasa and his associates were completely satisfied. They felt too full to eat, and so they decided to simply leave the area.

[Krishna eating from akshaya patra]In this way and others Krishna spared the Pandavas so much pain. For this reason alone Arjuna could have blindly accepted whatever Krishna instructed on that famous day on the battlefield of Kurukshetra.

3. Agreed to act as charioteer

Krishna did not impose Himself on anyone. He tried his best to broker peace between the Kauravas and the Pandavas, but Duryodhana would not compromise. He would not give even an inch of land, though the kingdom was the rightful property of Arjuna and his brothers.

For the upcoming war, Krishna agreed to be Arjuna’s charioteer. This was an extremely kind act. The charioteer departed from the role only at Arjuna’s insistence, when the great bow warrior fell into doubt and required guidance.

4. Explained so many concepts

Time, the living entities, the material nature, fruitive activity, and the Supreme Controller. Krishna covered the most important topics in the discussion that followed. There was room for questions. In fact, when learning the spiritual science a person is encouraged to inquire. The key is to do so submissively, not with a challenging attitude.

The knowledge coming to Arjuna was not revealed in the same way anywhere else. The presentation was unique, and the content itself justified full faith and surrender to the person speaking. Not at any time did Krishna tell Arjuna to follow out of blind faith, to give up everything just because He said so.

5. Showed the universal form

This is the visual proof demanded by the less intelligent. They don’t have the eyes to see the Divine influence that is present in every inch of space, so they insist on something amazing. Krishna delivered by giving a vision of the virata-rupa. This is the complete everything. There is no way to accurately put everything into a single image, since there are three dimensions and also the time factor. Yet Arjuna was shown such a wonderful image.

Since Krishna showed it, He is God. That is one way to get proof. Still, to Arjuna it wasn’t so important. Those who know the Supreme Lord understand that He has an amazing personal form, and that His expansion of the Supersoul proves the existence of the Divine in every aspect of life. But since he saw the virata-rupa, Arjuna had every reason to follow blindly.

With everything presented, with the question and answer, the back and forth, and the vision of the universal form, Krishna still did not insist on blind faith. He asked Arjuna if he had understood everything properly. He asked Arjuna to deliberate, to come to his own conclusion.

“Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reaction. Do not fear.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 18.66)

In case there were any doubts going forward, Krishna made the promise to protect Arjuna from all sinful reaction that could possibly occur from following the path recommended. Abandon all dharmas, or varieties of religion, and just follow Krishna. He will deliver Arjuna and anyone else who makes the same choice. Get confidence to make that decision by studying the conversation between those two cousins, which contains the timeless teachings about the soul and the proper way to live.

In Closing:

Highest principles and universal form to demonstrate,

Still, at end asking Arjuna to deliberate.

Not recommended to follow blind,

Voice doubts over any issue to find.

But justification in so many ways proved.

Like when eating Durvasa’s hunger moved.

Always a great friend in past indeed.

To act as charioteer in war agreed.

Friday, July 14, 2017

First Deliberate Then Follow

[Krishna and Arjuna]“Thus I have explained to you the most confidential of all knowledge. Deliberate on this fully, and then do what you wish to do.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 18.63)

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Friend1: Is it wrong to think of Krishna as yours?

Friend2: As in exclusive property, not belonging to anyone else?

Friend1: I don’t think the second part is considered. Just where you refer to Him as “mine.” “My savior.” “My God.” “My everything.”

Friend2: There’s certainly nothing wrong with it. Obviously, the thought is incomplete. If He is God, He must be for everyone. How did you suddenly find Him and others haven’t? Think about that for a moment.

Friend1: Great points. I was thinking the exact same thing.

Friend2: And consider this. The person to whom Krishna most belongs, if ever that could be, is Shrimati Radharani, the eternal consort. She is bhakti personified. Her entire existence is devotion. And yet one of her primary concerns is bringing others closer to Krishna. She does not keep the Supreme Lord all for herself. She thinks that she is the worst devotee, that others surpass her. These sentiments are genuine; she is not trying to be falsely humble.

[Radha-Krishna]Friend1: Are you saying that using terms like “my God” shows a lack of humility?

Friend2: It’s an immature stage, for sure. Someone else helped to reveal “their God.” Without the help of that someone, the knowledge that God is a person would remain far away. Therefore at the very least Krishna belongs to that person, too.

Friend1: The people of saintly character try to share the all-bliss that is bhakti-yoga with as many people as possible.

Friend2: Definitely. What brings this up? Did someone use that term when speaking with you? Did you feel threatened?

Friend1: Actually, it was used in context with another faith. Somehow I landed on a webpage describing a Bible verse. The writer kept referring to their savior. “My everything says.” “My Lord explains such and such.”

Friend2: I see. Was it a good explanation?

Friend1: Not at all. Pure mental speculation. The verses themselves were strange to read since context was absent. I was thinking this is what happens when the original text is missing, when only the translations are passed on.

Friend2: For sure. That’s another benefit with Vedic literature. The original Sanskrit is there, passed on to future generations. The highest wisdom safeguarded in sacred sound.

Friend1: Reading that got me to thinking. This person basically wanted you to accept their savior without hesitation. They didn’t provide any justification. The model is “accept first and ask questions later.” Oh, and by the way, keep asking questions because you’ll never get real answers.

Friend2: That’s funny.

Friend1: It seems like the Vedic model is different.

Friend2: What do you mean?

Friend1: It’s not “accept first.”

Friend2: Oh, definitely not. Well, you could say there is the requirement to approach a guru in the beginning. The spiritual master can reveal the truth since they have seen it themselves.

“Just try to learn the truth by approaching a spiritual master. Inquire from him submissively and render service unto him. The self-realized soul can impart knowledge unto you because he has seen the truth.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.34)

Friend1: That’s true, but look at the stipulations. Inquire from them submissively. It’s not “accept blindly.”

Friend2: Athato brahma-jijnasa. “Now is the time for learning about Brahman.” This is the call to action in the human birth. Jijnasa means “inquire.” Notice that it’s not, “Now is the time for blindly accepting someone designated as the savior.”

Friend1: Mind you, there isn’t anything wrong with blindly accepting Krishna.

Friend2: Absolutely not. Just look at what He has done. In His expansion of Vishnu He effortlessly creates, maintains and annihilates this and innumerable other universes. He holds the planets up in orbit without issue. He creates an object that provides endless heat and light for a seemingly infinite period of time, without ever running out of energy or requiring maintenance.

Friend1: The sun.

[Krishna and Arjuna]Friend2: Look at the Bhagavad-gita. Krishna shows the virata-rupa, the universal form, to Arjuna. He explains time, fruitive activity, the living entities, material nature, and the Supreme Controller. Even after the wonderful explanation He leaves the decision up to Arjuna. “Deliberate, then make your decision.” It makes sense to do things that way. If you blindly follow, you can blindly give it up later on. If you make an informed choice, you will get so much more out of the experience. And spiritual life is supposed to be fun. It is supposed to be the height of living; not just some way to avoid punishment in the afterlife.

In Closing:

Intended for living at height,

Not just for wrongs to make right.

Punishment for everyone already karma through,

Better to find Absolute one, through duality true.

Vedic culture with approach unique,

Deliberate first at final birth to reach.

Evaluate after from guru inquired,

Then in bhakti live most inspired.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

With Just A Little Brainpower

[Krishna's lotus feet]“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)

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Friend1: I like how in the Bhagavad-gita you get the definitive answer to the issue of loss of intelligence.

Friend2: You mean the verses about attachment and anger?

Friend1: Yeah. There is the illusion of material enjoyment. Then you develop attachment to different objects. Anger must follow due to frustration.

Friend2: And from anger you get delusion.

Friend1: Delusion to bewilderment. Then intelligence gets defeated.

Friend2: Which guarantees rebirth.

Friend1: It’s so simple in theory, yet to gain control is so difficult.

Friend2: Arjuna compares it to trying to control the wind.

Friend1: But you can get help, right?

Friend2: “The Blessed Lord said: O mighty-armed son of Kunti, it is undoubtedly very difficult to curb the restless mind, but it is possible by constant practice and by detachment.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 6.35)

[anger management]Friend1: There you go. Constant practice. Detachment. Alright, so here is my question.

Friend2: That’s what I’ve been waiting for.

Friend1: As intelligence is a key factor here, what is the fate of someone with a compromised brain?

Friend2: What’s your definition of compromised? They are born with a defect?

Friend1: It could be that or the situation of old age. Someone has a stroke. They’ve lost their short-term memory as a result. Some would consider the condition to be dementia.

Friend2: Oh, okay. You could throw Alzheimer’s disease into the mix.

Friend1: Right. Through the deterioration of the body memory isn’t what it used to be. What is the hope for such a person to achieve liberation, to break out of the cycle of birth and death?

Friend2: For starters, when Arjuna asked about the difficulties in controlling the mind, after receiving the answer the next question was about what happens to a person who fails to complete yoga to its fruition.

Friend1: Is that where Krishna discusses the next birth for the unsuccessful yogi, how they get to start over from the same place?

Friend2: Exactly. There are a few options. Shuchiman shrimatam gehe. Such a person appears in the house of a pure and pious person or someone blessed with shri, which is opulence.

Friend1: And that is considered good?

Friend2: The conditions of shuchi allow the yoga to continue from the same point. With shri there is some culture in the house and there is no worry over the basic necessities of life. It is not like being rich with material indulgence only. The situation is more like a wealthy family that is devoted to God, that is not bent on atheism.

Friend1: I see. Okay, but what about the person who hasn’t really started on devotional service, bhakti-yoga? Let’s say I meet someone today who has dementia and I want to introduce them to the concepts of the Bhagavad-gita and the science of self-realization. Is that an impossible task?

Friend2: It’s difficult, for sure, but bhakti-yoga wouldn’t be the superior form of spirituality if it were limited by material qualities. Any person, even those appearing in an animal body, have the potential for success.

Friend1: How so?

Friend2: The idea is that even a little brainpower can trigger remembrance at the time of death. Consciousness is the key. If a person is conscious of God the person, Shri Krishna, while quitting the body, then the rest doesn’t matter. They could have been sleeping constantly for the last five years. They could have been crippled by disease. They could have been totally engrossed in sense enjoyment. But if they make sure to remember God at that most important moment, they achieve liberation.

Friend1: Is that a possibility? Sure you get the reward if the right consciousness is there, but what are the chances of that happening?

[Krishna's lotus feet]Friend2: You never know. A person of sharp intellect can be into yoga their whole life and still not maintain the spiritual consciousness while dying. Intelligence is an important factor, but only if it allows you to remember Krishna. An easier way is to just chant the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. This is the sound vibration representation of God. It is just as powerful as the profound wisdom passed on through the pages of Vedic literature. With just a little brainpower a person can hear this sound and remember it.

In Closing:

Highest intelligence not required,

By pure devotion inspired.

Even when brainpower limited so,

Chance for Shri Krishna to know.

Chant holy names and also hear,

Embedded potency the path to clear.

Way for no longer to be bound,

Liberation through transcendental sound.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Two Instances Where Even A Saint Takes Joy In Another’s Death

[Prahlada and Narasimha]“My Lord Narasimhadeva, please, therefore, cease Your anger now that my father, the great demon Hiranyakashipu, has been killed. Since even saintly persons take pleasure in the killing of a scorpion or a snake, all the worlds have achieved great satisfaction because of the death of this demon. Now they are confident of their happiness, and they will always remember Your auspicious incarnation in order to be free from fear.” (Prahlada Maharaja, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 7.9.14)

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Compassion, kindness, knowledge, even-mindedness - these are different qualities belonging to a person of saintly character. If you are easily agitated, swayed by the constant ups and downs that life has to offer, you haven’t taken full advantage of the human birth. A person who is dhira is sober. They are especially not bewildered by the changes of body occurring for the conditioned soul, starting from the time of birth and continuing even after death.

“As the embodied soul continually passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. The self-realized soul is not bewildered by such a change.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.13)

The saint has empathy. They may not have lived every situation that others experience, but through both descending knowledge and application of different principles they can relate. They know the pain of death. They know that the individual is spirit soul, not identified by the body. The saint knows that rebirth is guaranteed for anything living that dies.

Still, there are instances where a saint takes pleasure in another’s death. Carefully analyzing the situation, we see that there is a specific factor to consider.

1. Scorpions and snakes

A routine day. Ready to leave the house. You go to put on your shoes, but suddenly there is a sharp pain. A scorpion has bitten you. It is just living according to its nature, but its presence interferes with life in a painful way.

The bite of the snake can be deadly. Again, just going about life, not bothering anyone, by accident you can encounter one. It influences life in a strongly negative way.

2. Asuras

Prahlada Maharaja, the great devotee born in a Daitya family, says that a saint does not protest when the snake or scorpion is killed. This is because of the march towards enlightenment. There cannot be happiness without peace, and there cannot be peace when there is uncontrolled deadly force lurking around the corner.

“One who is not in transcendental consciousness can have neither a controlled mind nor steady intelligence, without which there is no possibility of peace. And how can there be any happiness without peace?” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.66)

Prahlada was specifically referring to the death of his demoniac father, King Hiranyakashipu. The Daitya by quality is a demon. The more specific Sanskrit word is asura, which is a negation of the word that means “demigod” or “person of saintly character.”

There was no reason to regret the death of Hiranyakashipu, as he was exactly like a scorpion or snake. He harassed innocent people without cause. The spirit soul would live on, and since he died directly at the hands of God in the incarnation known as Narasimha, there was the special benediction of liberation. No more birth and death for the spirit soul playing the role of God’s adversary in the material world.

[Prahlada and Narasimha]Impediments towards progress in spiritual life are removed either by the Supreme Lord or one of His representatives. Material nature changes; going from inauspiciously prohibiting to auspiciously helping. This is because prakriti, which is nature, is also an energy from God. He can control how it acts, and for the devotees He will gladly remove snake-like forces to help in their progress.

In Closing:

Scorpion biting in shoe,

Snake of similar nature too.

Saint at such death not feeling sad,

Known that future body to be had.

Same when asura’s slate clearing,

No more bhakti’s life interfering.

Like Hiranyakashipu mentality demonstrating,

And Narasimha with nails penetrating.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Four Unwanted Changes That Are Caused By Time

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

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So many perplexing aspects of both this world and the experience through it. So many unanswered questions. This doesn’t mean that the attempt is absent. I try to figure out how to cope with the changes, as that is one of the benefits to being a rational adult. The problem is that there is a key factor overlooked. It should be obvious, as its influence is all around.

1. Loss of ability

I am getting slower. I used to run a mile in under six minutes. Now I am getting tired more easily. When I wake up in the morning, I feel soreness in my legs. It must be my diet. I need to eat better. I remember at my peak performance I was strictly following a specific eating and sleeping regimen. If it works for yogis, it should work for me.

“There is no possibility of one's becoming a yogi, O Arjuna, if one eats too much, or eats too little, sleeps too much or does not sleep enough.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 6.16)

2. Disease

I hadn’t gotten sick in over a year. Now suddenly I have this horrible cough. It started with your typical cold. What is going on? It must be other people. I caught this disease from another person. That is strange, because it’s not like I have been a hermit for the recent past. I have taken airplane trips and travelled to heavily populated areas. My wife has even been sick a few times, but I never caught anything. Anyway, let me make some alterations to prevent this from happening in the future.

3. Defeat

I won the championship the last three years in a row. More significantly, the margin of victory increased each time. They thought I would never lose. What happened now? As much joy as I felt during those times, the pain of losing is worse. Why did this happen? I followed the same training. I prepared exactly the same way. I even played pretty well. It was a tough opponent for sure, but so were the ones from the past that I defeated.

4. Death

I am so upset at the passing of a loved one. Their departure from this world happened suddenly. The cause was illness, but a few months before they were totally normal. They were advanced in age, for sure, but why did they have to leave so soon? I understand that death is guaranteed for every person, but there had to be a way to prevent this.

In each of these instances the actual factor causing the change is time. Known as kala in Sanskrit, it is synonymous with death. Kala is the great subduing agent. It is undefeated; it has yet to lose. It can strike at any moment, and sometimes without warning.

More significantly, nothing can be done to stop its onslaught. Scientists have made strides at curing diseases and thus prolonging the average lifespan based on available statistics, but nothing has been done to slow the onset of old age. You can live until you are one hundred years old, but the same issues arise when you hit your sixties and seventies. The body begins to break down.

From the spiritual science that is the Vedas we learn that time works in concert with other important factors in the material world. There is the material nature, prakriti, which shifts. Birth and death are nothing more than the changing of prakriti. There is karma, which is work with consequences. Karma can be something as complicated as being reborn in a higher species in the next life and something as simple as feeling pain from deciding to put your hand in fire.

Without jiva none of this would matter. The living entity inside is what animates the otherwise dull and lifeless body. The jiva is the one who overlooks the influence of time. And without Ishvara, none of these things would exist. In the Bhagavad-gita the personality that is Ishvara explains that He is time.

[Lord Krishna]As the Supreme Lord is kala, only He can control it. It is an external energy, something not actively managed. For the devotees there is an exception. Time acts in ways to help sustain the devotion, allowing it to thrive going forward. The highest reward is birth in the spiritual world in the subsequent life. Time also exists there, but it lacks a negative influence. The bliss continues to increase, as there is direct association with the person who is all-bliss and all-pleasure, Shri Krishna.

In Closing:

To wipe away every gain,

But devotees to sustain.

Time having nature dual,

Subduing over all to rule.

But with Krishna actually the same,

For atheists God of different name.

For surrendered souls joy increasing,

Lord from karma’s cycle releasing.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Finding A Higher Taste

[Lord Krishna]“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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Friend1: What if a person has an experience that they really enjoy?

Friend2: What do you mean? A vacation or a one-time thing?

Friend1: Repeatable. They are able to indulge at their choosing. Let’s put aside drug abuse for the moment, as the harmful effects are obvious.

Friend2: Also, the more you get addicted the more volume is required to reach the same euphoria. It’s the law of diminishing returns.

Friend1: Let’s say this is something a person likes to eat, such as pizza.

Friend2: What about amorous relations?

Friend1: Honestly, that’s where I was going with this, but I was too embarrassed to bring it up. Yes, someone says that the height of living is sex. Let’s go with that hypothetical situation.

Friend2: Completely normal, by the way. The teachers following in the Vedic tradition stress this point constantly.

Friend1: They say that there is no enjoyment higher than sex?

Friend2: They say that is the thought of the conditioned living entity. Moreover, societies are based entirely on this type of pleasure. It influences the way people eat, where they decide to live, what they wear, and even what mode of transportation they use.

Friend1: Oh, for sure. If you meet a single woman and tell her you’re a doctor or a lawyer, immediately their interest increases.

Friend2: Isn’t that a little sexist?

Friend1: I’ve had several women tell me this.

Friend2: I’m just kidding, but it makes sense. Profession corresponds with salary. A person who is wealthy is automatically of greater interest to practically everyone in society.

Friend1: What do these teachers say is the solution?

Friend2: To what? The enjoyment is available. Have at it. Go crazy. You only get one life, so live it up.

Friend1: Haha, I know that’s not what they say. What is the response to a person asking whether there is anything in life that equals their otherwise preferred means of enjoyment?

Friend2: A person can only ask that question if they haven’t experienced spiritual life to the fullest. Admittedly, religion is equated with old institutions governed by outdated rules and laws, with an old and angry man watching disapprovingly from above.

Friend1: And the threat of eternal damnation if you don’t surrender, where the definition of surrender is subjective and usually means just showing up to a building periodically.

[church building]Friend2: Exactly. In the Bhagavad-gita Shri Krishna provides the answer to your question in a single verse.

Friend1: Yeah? What does the verse say?

Friend2: It starts with talking about restricting sense enjoyment. Obviously, that is a first step in spiritual life. You must be looking for something better if you decide to try any sort of religion. Religion equates to dharma in Sanskrit, which implies restriction and regulation.

Friend1: Okay.

Friend2: You may be successful at following the restriction. It’s something like following a diet and losing weight. The problem is the sense objects are still there. You might still crave pizza and ice cream for every meal.

Friend1: For sure.

Friend2: The thing with genuine spiritual life, there is a higher taste. That is the translation used by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada for the Sanskrit words param drishtva. You are experiencing something better. Do you know what the natural result is?

Friend1: That you stick to spiritual life, that you don’t go back?

Friend2: Pretty much, but I was looking for something more specific. You cast aside those previous attachments. What you thought was the most enjoyable thing no longer is, and you don’t have to force yourself to avoid it. The higher taste can be both literal and figurative. There is the wonderful taste of the Lord’s mercy, food offered to Him directly in a mood of love.

“If one offers Me with love and devotion a leaf, a flower, fruit, or water, I will accept it.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.26)

[Lord Krishna]Chanting the holy names can also bring the higher taste in terms of consciousness: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. Yamunacharya says it best. Ever since he started serving the lotus feet of the Supreme Lord Krishna, he spits at the thought of sex life. Can you imagine that? And he’s not lying or being overly dramatic. It’s honestly how he feels. The key is to go to God the person. That direct service is known as bhakti-yoga, and it is the highest taste that can exist.

In Closing:

So enjoyable that I can’t resist,

Higher taste than this can exist?

True for sex in material life,

World moves on link of man and wife.

But in spiritual existence real,

Something much better to feel.

Bliss of devotion to Krishna got,

A last engagement never to drop.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Three Examples Of Bhakti Personified

[Radha-Krishna]“To perform devotional service means to follow in the footsteps of Radharani, and devotees in Vrindavana put themselves under the care of Radharani in order to achieve perfection in their devotional service. In other words, devotional service is not an activity of the material world; it is directly under the control of Radharani.” (The Nectar Of Devotion, Ch 1)

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You read a book on how to play tennis. You’re supposed to hold the racket a certain way for a forehand. A backhand has options: one or two-handed. Then there is technique for how to get in the ready position. Split-step as the opponent strikes the ball. This way you can react more easily on a lateral move.

Then there is a certain way to serve the ball. Once you get the technique down, there is strategy. There is the mental aspect to consider, as well. Don’t let your opponent know your emotions. Stay level-headed. If things aren’t going your way, hang in there. If you’re up by a lot, then don’t lose focus. Stay positive and goal-oriented.

The theory is nice, but a real life example is usually more helpful in teaching. If you could see someone playing tennis, the athlete in action, you can get an idea of what needs to be done and what should be avoided. In this way the best player can be considered tennis personified.

Bhakti-yoga is described in great detail in the written works of the acharyas. These are the spiritual teachers who lead by example, following in a chain of succession of guru and disciple. To be bona fide the sampradaya, or succession, must originate with one of four exalted teachers. They are Lord Brahma, Lakshmi Devi, Lord Shiva, and the four Kumaras.

The books of the acharyas provide wisdom beyond comprehension. A single lifetime isn’t long enough to absorb the intricacies and nuances. Fortunately, there are real life examples to help. In the present time there are the acharyas appearing in the line of succession. In times past there were exalted souls, whose great deeds and extraordinary characteristics are described in Vedic literature. These souls are essentially bhakti personified.

1. Prahlada Maharaja

When you think of a person devoted to God, you might be picturing a person dressed in religious attire. Perhaps they live in a temple or church. If the residence is elsewhere, then there is at least some affiliation with an organized group. They wear a specific uniform in order to be identified by others seeking the Truth.

Since bhakti-yoga is love and devotion dedicated to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, there are no impediments, restrictions or boundaries. By definition there can’t be. If devotion were limited and subject to strict requirements, then God wouldn’t be all-merciful.

Prahlada Maharaja shows that pure devotion can exist in a five year old boy, someone who is not generally considered to be wise. After all, so much of wisdom is tied to experience, and how much of the world has a five year old really seen?

Prahlada did not want anything. He was a king’s son and yet the throne was not foremost on his mind. Neither was playing all day or choosing an occupation during adulthood. He only thought of Vishnu, the name for God that describes His all-pervasive nature and how He is a person worshiped in opulence.

Prahlada was so devoted that his antagonist father, using all the might that comes from being king, couldn’t stop it. Hiranyakashipu tried as hard as he could, but Prahlada would not waver. In the end Vishnu Himself would appear before both father and son, with completely different rewards to distribute.

2. Hanuman

The Vedic aphorism “athato brahma-jijnasa” applies to the human birth. When accepting the body type of a human being, time is of the essence for understanding the spiritual science. The time for inquiry wasn’t right in the other species. The dog cannot ask about God. The tiger will not listen to discourses about the Supreme Lord and make appropriate lifestyle changes.

The example of Shri Hanuman shows that even outside of the human species there can be pure devotion practiced. The situation is rare, but nonetheless possible. Hanuman was in the body of a forest-dwelling monkey, but he actually possessed every perfection of mystic yoga. He could do amazing things, but he wasn’t attached to any of those abilities. He used whatever was at his disposal to help in service to Shri Rama, an incarnation of Vishnu.

3. Shrimati Radharani

Vishnu is opulently adorned and usually worshiped in a mood of awe and reverence. Bhakti is not static nor is it restrictive. God is a person, after all, which means that there are relationships with Him. As we know from experience in this world not all relationships are of the same nature.

Shrimati Radharani shows that God can be worshiped in the mood of amorous love. The devotion in her is so strong that she has no fear in criticizing or making fun of the Supreme Lord, who is always with her in His original form of Shri Krishna, the all-attractive one.

[Radha-Krishna]Radharani is bhakti personified, so much so that she does not consciously follow any religious system meant for advancement of the individual. If loving Krishna were considered adharma, or against religion, she would still follow it. Her devotion is what defines her, and for this reason she is worshiped alongside Krishna.

In Closing:

Theory from books to learn,

But for real example to yearn.


Who the principles personify,

Found with devotees to glorify.


Like Prahlada a five year old just,

Or the servant Hanuman to trust.


Radharani by devotional love defined,

Would follow even if against religion aligned.