Saturday, July 29, 2017

Three Incidents That Gave Kamsa Ample Warning About Krishna

[Krishna with Trinavarta]"The Trinavarta demon who took baby Krishna on his shoulder went high in the sky, but the baby assumed such a weight that suddenly he could not go any further, and he had to stop his whirlwind activities. Baby Krishna made Himself heavy and began to weigh down the demon. The Lord caught hold of his neck." (Krishna, The Supreme Personality Of Godhead, Vol 1, Ch 7)

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When a voice from the sky suddenly appears to offer you an important message, it’s probably best to pay attention. Kamsa got fair warning that his death would come at the hands of the eighth child of his sister Devaki.

Most people aren’t so lucky. All-devouring time deals the final blow of death without warning. Kamsa was a powerful king, so how could he give up that power? Not realizing that the end is inevitable for everyone, the ruthless brother of Devaki tried his best to nullify destiny. He tried to keep all the children born to his sister from ever seeing adulthood.

But the Divine will is too strong to overcome, and that eighth child finally did arrive. Narayana Himself, the Supreme Lord in the all-attractive form of Krishna appeared in this world in Mathura, the town governed by Kamsa.

There were several subsequent incidents that gave the king ample warning about the Divine nature of his nephew. Yet the nature of the hardcore atheist is to remain obstinate until the end. Even when evidence is presented right before them, they will still deny the possibility of the existence of an almighty being.

1. Escaping the prison despite careful attention

Kamsa kept Devaki and her husband Vasudeva locked up. The couple had to hand over each child to the king, who then threw the newborn against a stone slab; a more graphic version of abortion. Krishna, the eighth child, not only appeared from the womb, but also managed to escape.

It happened in the middle of the night. For this reason the annual celebration of Janmashtami reaches a crescendo at midnight, the precise moment Narayana took a seemingly human form for the sake of His devotees.

The escape was the first indication that this child was not like the others. He was not ordinary. The prophecy was still intact.

2. Surviving against a witch

Kamsa learned that the cause of his death was nearby. It was an infant, after all, so what chance did it stand against a powerful king? Kamsa sent deputies to do the work for him. One of them was a witch named Putana. She was known for killing babies.

She arrived in Gokula in disguise. Taking baby Krishna in her lap, she was ready to feed Him poison through the breast. Instead, Shri Krishna sucked the very life out of her. She died right after revealing her hideous, gigantic form.

3. Surviving against a whirlwind

Another person of bad character, asura, came to Gokula to try again for Kamsa. Trinavarta could transform into a whirlwind. Poison on the breast wouldn’t work, but how about gravity? Take the baby high into the air and then drop Him.

Once again the plan worked in reverse. While in the air baby Krishna became so heavy that Trinavarta could no longer hold Him. The asura fell to the ground and died, while Krishna remained safe throughout. Two powerful associates done away with by an infant. Kamsa still didn’t learn.

[Krishna with Trinavarta]There would be more such incidents, leading up to the final deathblow coming from Krishna in Mathura. Kamsa saw God, for sure, but didn’t recognize Him. The only way to acknowledge the Divine was through death itself, which arrived in the form of the punch from the lotus-like hand of the son of Devaki.

The devotees don’t require such amazing feats for proof, but they delight in the pastimes nonetheless. They continue to sing the glories of that remover of wicked foes, chanting the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

In Closing:

Crime of infanticide bold,

Since future demise foretold.

By voice coming from the sky,

Kamsa to deny destiny to try.

But failed the poisonous witch,

And on whirlwind effect to switch.

Elusive until death punch dealing,

God in terrible form revealing.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Three Amazing Events That Still Weren’t Enough Proof For The Atheists

[Narasimha with Prahlada]"Prahlada Maharaja said: My dear King, the source of my strength, of which you are asking, is also the source of yours. Indeed, the original source of all kinds of strength is one. He is not only your strength or mine, but the only strength for everyone. Without Him, no one can get any strength. Whether moving or not moving, superior or inferior, everyone, including Lord Brahma, is controlled by the strength of the Supreme Personality of Godhead." (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 7.8.7)

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You’ve likely heard the argument before. You believe in the Almighty yourself. It’s something you just know. Deep down, even in the most difficult moments of life, you can’t bring yourself to believe that this amazing creation came about through randomness. There is intelligence in every space, from the smallest to the largest. And is there any evidence of something intelligent resulting from the complete lack of intelligence?

The counterargument is one that insists on evidence:

“Show me God. Give me empirical proof. Observation and experiment. Draw up some way that I can believe with my own eyes that there is this higher being managing everything. Otherwise, I just don’t see it. I think it’s in the same category as Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy. Something to make people feel better, a way to comfort themselves from the inevitable and harsh end known as death.”

Never mind that visual evidence is lacking in so many areas where trust is extended. The past alone can never be experienced, especially that which took place prior to our birth. There is no experiment to prove that human beings can influence the weather, yet so many accept that theory from the scientists who push it.

From Vedic literature we have examples of unbelievable events, witnessed directly by the eyes, without a change in mentality. The promise from the atheists is that they will believe when they see, but so many people saw and still didn’t change their ways.

1. Rama’s serpent-headed arrows

Ravana was actually a devotee appearing on earth to play the role of worst villain. In that capacity he could act as best adversary to the Supreme Lord, illustrating so many important concepts along the way, with the final outcome of liberation and return to the spiritual world.

The ten-headed one with the terrifying scream became powerful through the help of heavenly figures, but he never bothered to ponder who empowered his benefactors. Ravana was proud of his ability, but when he heard about someone with even more power, he still refused to believe.

Ravana sent fourteen thousand of his men to do away with a single fighter. Shri Rama, the very Supreme Lord the atheists insist doesn’t exist, was living in the forest of Dandaka. The greatest bow-warrior in the world, Rama defended Himself singlehandedly against Ravana’s men, who were the aggressors.

Akampana saw what happened and reported back to Ravana. The arrows released from Rama’s bow were like heat-seeking missiles. They followed the Rakshasas, which are ogre-like creatures, wherever they went. The tips of the arrows turned into serpents. This was the vision of all-devouring death arriving in a special way.

Ravana didn’t see firsthand, but he knew Akampana wasn’t lying. That didn’t change anything. Ravana just exercised caution going forward. To enjoy in the material world the conditioned living entity will make one plan after another, spanning many lifetimes even, until they finally accept the supremacy of God and try to know Him in truth.

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

2. Krishna’s universal form

The same Rama was on earth at a later time in the form of the all-attractive one, Shri Krishna. A storyline here was struggle in a large royal family. One time Krishna went to Duryodhana to broker peace. This was supreme kindness on display, as Duryodhana was such a wicked character that the only means of diplomacy he deserved was danda, or force.

Still, Krishna set the proper example by trying to avoid hostilities, as the kingdom rightfully belonged to the Pandavas. Duryodhana and his side of the family had unjustly usurped what didn’t belong to them. Duryodhana quickly came up with a wicked plan during this visit. He thought that if Krishna were bound, the Pandavas would lose their nerve, that they would become dejected and thus be a weakened opponent.

Shri Krishna is the Supersoul residing within every heart, so he knew what was intended before it was attempted. He showed Duryodhana a version of the universal form. For all intents and purposes, this is the visual proof of God. It is everything that exists put into a single image. Impossible to fathom, but Duryodhana saw it.

Like with Ravana, nothing changed. Duryodhana remained obstinate. Perhaps Krishna was an expert magician. Even if the well-wisher of the Pandavas were something special, for the time being there was no worry. Krishna was to remain neutral in the conflict, to act only as Arjuna’s charioteer.

All-devouring death was approaching nonetheless, and it is one way that everyone gets a glimpse of the Divine.

3. Prahlada’s many escapes from death

King Hiranyakashipu was supremely powerful like Ravana, and he was done in by his young son, of all people. Seeing pure devotion in the boy at a very early age, the father could not stand it. He finally decided to have Prahlada killed.

There was a problem. Nothing could be done. Each attempt was a failure. These escapes by the child were pretty amazing. Prahlada survived deadly weapons coming his way. He made it through sitting in a fire pit. He was thrown off a cliff and lived to tell about it.

Hiranyakashipu couldn’t understand what was going on. He didn’t realize that God was protecting His dear devotee. The king thought that maybe Prahlada had practiced some mysticism to increase his power. In that case maybe the king could take a lesson or two.

The boy was honest. He revealed that the source of his strength was the same as it is in everyone else, that God is within and directing the wanderings of the living beings, who are seated as on a machine.

“The Supreme Lord is situated in everyone's heart, O Arjuna, and is directing the wanderings of all living entities, who are seated as on a machine, made of the material energy.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 18.61)

[Narasimha with Prahlada]Once again, visual evidence had no impact. Hiranyakashipu laughed at the idea of God being everywhere, including in the pillar standing next to them. A few moments later the same Krishna appeared, but this time in a ghastly form. One way or another, Hiranyakashipu was going to see God.

In Closing:

Atheists most defiant to be,

In some way God destined to see.

Case of Rama’s arrows like snakes,

Ravana’s many men not to escape.

Duryodhana foolishly thinking to bind,

Then spectacular virata-rupa to find.

Prahlada teaching, but father not believing,

So Narahari in amazing form revealing.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Four Things To Know About The Tulasi Plant

[Tulasi Devi]“Let me offer my respectful obeisances unto the tulasi tree, which can immediately vanquish volumes of sinful activities. Simply by seeing or touching this tree one can become relieved from all distresses and diseases. Simply by offering obeisances to and pouring water on the tulasi tree, one can become freed from the fear of being sent to the court of Yamaraj [the King of death, who punishes the sinful]. If someone sows a tulasi tree somewhere, certainly he becomes devoted to Lord Krishna. And when the tulasi leaves are offered in devotion at the lotus feet of Krishna, there is the full development of love of Godhead.” (The Nectar Of Devotion quoting the Skanda Purana)

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“What is so important about a plant? Is it the medicinal properties? Are people just following a ritual passed on through the generations, without asking questions? Are they blindly believing in mythology? How can so much benefit accrue from honoring a single plant?”

Indeed, water offered only a single time to the sacred tulasi plant can bring so many wonderful benefits.

1. She is a devi

Though in the form of a plant, Tulasi is originally a goddess. As the Supreme Lord is eternal, so are His sparks. As He says in the Bhagavad-gita, there never was a time when He did not exist, nor the person spoken to [Arjuna], nor the people assembled around them.

“Never was there a time when I did not exist, nor you, nor all these kings; nor in the future shall any of us cease to be.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.12)

Nityo nityanam. There are many eternals, and God is the chief among them. Chetanash chetananam. He is the chief living force of all the living forces. He is supporting the many. In the spiritual world there are eternals accompanying the chief eternal. One of them is Vrinda Devi, who is known as the goddess of devotion. On the spiritual planet of Krishnaloka she carefully arranges the pastimes of the Supreme Lord Krishna and His eternal consort Shrimati Radharani.

There is a pastime where Vrinda Devi descends to earth and marries a king of bad character. The only way for her husband to be defeated and for the gods to be saved is if she breaks her chastity. As she is the goddess of devotion, she can only do this with Krishna Himself, who descends as Vishnu.

The work of the gods is done through some deception by Vishnu, and in anger Vrinda Devi decrees that Vishnu will now appear on earth in stone form; hence the origin of the shalagrama shila. For her sacrifice Vrinda Devi gets the benediction of becoming the sacred tulasi plant. Anyone who worships her faithfully gets bhakti, or devotion, very quickly.

2. Worship brings bhakti

That is the real benefit to respecting the tulasi plant. Vedic knowledge is compared to a tree with many branches. Those branches represent different areas of knowledge, fields of study. If you want good health there is information to follow. If you want to ascend to heaven in the afterlife, there is a branch for that. Even if you want harm to befall your enemies, the goal can be arranged.

Bhakti is unique because it stands above all desires. It is easy to practice and not difficult to get, but the desire for it is elusive. Tulasi Devi makes the process simple. Pay some respect. Offer some water. Circumambulate with faith. Then the highest reward of devotion to God will come very quickly.

3. Turns the home into a tirtha

Spiritual tourism is popular in Vedic culture. The idea is that by visiting a sacred place meritorious credits amass quicker than they would otherwise. The real benefit of a tirtha is the association of saintly people, who can help others to clear the consciousness and achieve the highest perfection of living. Purushartha, the highest result, is devotion itself.

For this reason the tulasi plant turns a home into a place of pilgrimage. An elaborate alter is not required. The plant flourishes in response to the attention provided. More attention means more devotion. More devotion means a special place to visit.

4. Nothing else is required for success

Famous saintly people from the past have reached complete perfection in renunciation through simply worshiping the tulasi plant. The famous poet who authored the Ramacharitamanasa was given the name Tulsidas due to his devotion to the tulasi plant. The acharya of chanting the holy names, Shrila Haridasa Thakura, would take up residence in a cave and simply recite the maha-mantra in front of a tulasi plant.

There is the story of the hunter reformed by Narada Muni. The travelling saint noticed that the hunter was half-killing different animals. The admonishment came that either he should give up killing entirely or put the animals out of their misery. Narada Muni did not go into a lengthy explanation about the difference between spirit and matter or the cycle of birth and death. He simply advised the hunter to go to a place near the river, erect a simple residence, worship the tulasi plant and chant the holy names in front of her.

[Tulasi Devi]Following that basic formula the hunter soon completely transformed. He went from killing for a living to being conscious of the lives of even the tiniest of beings, not wanting to harm them in any way. He turned into a saint himself, purified through the association of the goddess who is so dear to Shri Krishna.

In Closing:

Medicinal benefits certainly giving,

But tulasi goddess in plant living.

Turning into tirtha the home,

Bhakti from worship alone.

Elaborate alter not required,

Devotion to Krishna inspired.

Transformed hunter who mercy lacking,

Into saint not even ants attacking.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Five Destinations For The Spirit Soul To Enjoy Under The Modes Of Nature

[Krishna's lotus feet]“Under the influence of material desire, the entity is born sometimes as a demigod, sometimes as a man, sometimes as a beast, as a bird, as a worm, as an aquatic, as a saintly man, as a bug. This is going on. And in all cases the living entity thinks himself to be the master of his circumstances, yet he is under the influence of material nature.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 13.22 Purport)

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“Karma. Reincarnation. Punishment in the afterlife for being bad. Progression towards a better existence. Evolution. How does it all fit in? Are they contradictory or complementary? Are these concepts only Hindu beliefs or is there some underlying scientific explanation that proves universal applicability?”

The foundation of the spiritual science descending from the Vedas is the distinction between spirit and matter. Spirit is the agent of identification. Its presence indicates life. Its departure indicates death. Both events continue in cycles for the same fragment of spirit. That cycle is commonly referred to as reincarnation.

At the time of appearance a certain type of covering manifests, consisting of three base ingredients: goodness, passion and ignorance. These are the three modes of material nature, and the individual fragment of spirit enjoys and suffers for the time being, while residing in that covering. There are many types of coverings, resulting in different ways of life.

1. Bird

The exact type of covering is commonly referred to as a body. Even that body isn’t static; it is constantly changing. Shri Krishna says that a self-realized person, dhira, is not bewildered by the constant changes, which continue through the time of 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 modes of material nature influence the way the gross and subtle elements interact. In certain bodies there is more of a specific gross element and less of another. As an example, in the body of a human being fire is more prominent; causing the relatively high internal temperature. Fire is considered a gross element, along with water, air, ether and earth. The three subtle elements are mind, intelligence and ego.

The bird is another type of body, and it can fly. It can take up residence on tree branches. It has this amazing ability to find its home even after travelling away for a considerable distance. It doesn’t require a GPS navigation system to get directions. Some birds have amazing eyesight, and some feast on other living creatures.

2. Worm

In the Shrimad Bhagavatam there is the Sanskrit phrase of jivo jivasya jivanam. The meaning is that one living entity is food for another living entity. Essentially, the concept of a food chain was explained thousands of years ago, before modern science even came into existence. Research wasn’t required, as from the beginning-less one all essential knowledge is passed down.

There is the saying that the early bird gets the worm. This is meant to inspire the human being to rise early and take care of their tasks on time, instead of procrastinating and risking fatigue or waning interest later on.

This saying references the body type just mentioned and also a new one. The spirit soul can enter the body of a worm. The elemental composition is certainly not the same, as the worm cannot fly. It can only slither around within the earth. It does not have hands or legs. It is not large in size, either, which makes it an easy target for other living entities. Human beings can even step on worms accidentally.

3. Aquatic

Put a human being in water for a lengthy period of time and it can’t survive. It needs assistance from artificial means, i.e. those things that don’t come with the body. Yet some species can survive in the water just fine. There is the saying, “Like a fish out of water.” This was uttered millions of years ago by the younger brother of Shri Rama, to explain the level of devotion both he and Rama’s wife had.

“O Rama, You should know that just as fish cannot survive when taken out of water, neither Sita nor I can live without You for even a moment.” (Lakshmana speaking to Lord Rama, Valmiki Ramayana, Ayodhya Kand, 53.31)

The fish can only survive in the water. Its body type is so designed that swimming is made easier. Walking is not possible, nor is reaching for different objects with hands. In the water is found everything necessary for survival. Take it outside for too long and the fish won’t be able to live.

4. Bug

The bug is even smaller than the ant. Some of them are great nuisances, biting people without cause. They can move so quickly that they become difficult to catch. This body type in particular shows the amazing nature of spirit. It is so small that it can fit into the body of the tiniest insect, yet the same fragment gives life to the large elephant. From this we learn that spirit is more powerful than even the largest collection of matter, which is dull and lifeless.

5. Saintly man

The saintly person has the potential for understanding the spiritual science. They know about the nature of enjoyment in a material existence, how it is linked to the type of body inhabited. The saintly man is also a living entity within a body, but the circumstance is auspicious for one specific reason.

“There are an infinite number of living beings, both moving and nonmoving, who have many different abodes, with some residing in the earth, some in the sky, and some in the water. But O helpless Tulsi, for you Shri Rama’s holy name is your only home.” (Dohavali, 37)

A saintly man from several hundred years back wrote that he didn’t mind taking any of the possible births in a material existence as long as he continued to have attachment to the holy name of Rama. Rama is one name for God, so the meaning is that devotion is more important than body type.

[Krishna's lotus feet]By extension bhakti, devotion, is superior to the three modes of material nature, which provide enjoyment and suffering for a conditioned soul. The human birth is considered the most auspicious due to the enhanced intelligence, which is meant for understanding God. Once He is understood the natural subsequent step is to serve Him with love, which then automatically clears the debt of rebirth brought on by acts in karma.

In Closing:

From spiritual world to fall,

Home the material existence to call.

Bird, aquatic, or worm body to get,

Or saintly man in intelligence set.

As long as pure consciousness lacking,

Rebirth, again time body attacking.

Only when the bhakti path to take,

Most of the auspicious birth to make.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Four Kinds Of Regions In Which To Live

[Krishna with cows]“From the highest planet in the material world down to the lowest, all are places of misery wherein repeated birth and death take place. But one who attains to My abode, O son of Kunti, never takes birth again.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 8.16)

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Seven up and seven down. The people studying are in the middle. Fourteen planetary systems in total, consisting of conditions in duality when taking up residence. The living entity is known as sarva-ga, which means it can live anywhere.

“There are an infinite number of living beings, both moving and nonmoving, who have many different abodes, with some residing in the earth, some in the sky, and some in the water. But O helpless Tulsi, for you Shri Rama’s holy name is your only home.” (Dohavali, 37)

The spirit soul is distinct from the body. The same fragment of spirit can reside in the body of an elephant or in a snake. It can live on earth, in the air, or in water. The sky is the limit, as they say. Actually, the limit is the material elements.

Within those planetary systems are three basic regions. Though they have different characteristics, one quality is shared. There is also another region, which is above everything else.

1. Hellish

In Vedic literature many times references are made to the three worlds. Such and such king is so powerful that he is feared throughout the three worlds. When Shri Rama, an incarnation of God, lifted the bow of Shiva and broke it to win the hand of Sita Devi in marriage, the praises were sung throughout the three worlds.

“’Today Rama will definitely lift the bow, and the three worlds will sing of the supreme auspiciousness of the marriage with excitement.’” (Janaki Mangala, 71)

One of those worlds is the hellish region. Most people are familiar with the concept of hell. It’s where you go for punishment in the afterlife. Be a good person, or else. Believe in such and such and you’ll be spared eternal damnation.

There is speculation here and there, but the Vedas provide the most clarity on the issue. Hell is a region consisting of planets. There is punishment, for sure, commensurate with the overall nature of the impious deeds. The Shrimad Bhagavatam, the ripened fruit of Vedic literature, gives details on the different kinds of punishment offered on the different planets in the hellish region.

Since the soul is eternal in its existence, any sort of material condition cannot remain forever. Time is always operating, after all. It is the great destroyer, of both good and bad. This means that even the worst offender, after many years in the hellish region, gets a chance to move back up.

2. Heavenly

This is the opposite of hell. It’s the reward for pious behavior. Pious in this regard translates to activities in the mode of goodness. The mode of ignorance leads to regression, i.e. going backwards. Every person tries to behave in a certain way, after all, to meet some sort of objective. The mode of ignorance is where no tangible objective is met.

If you are good, you go to heaven. The Vedas say that heavenly life involves enhanced comforts and enjoyments. You get to live for a long time. You get the body of a deva, or god, which is special. You are able to do amazing things. The trees fulfill any desire immediately; hence they are known as desire trees.

Just like with punishment in hell, the enjoyment of heaven doesn’t last forever. It’s like accumulating points on a rewards card. Once you use up the points the balance goes back to zero. In a similar manner, the meritorious credits diminish as more time is spent in heaven. Then there is a fall.

3. Earthly

The descent is towards the earthly region. We are familiar with this area because it is where we reside at present. This is actually not that different from heaven or hell, since there are good and bad conditions encountered on a daily basis. The earthly region is known as Martyaloka, since it is the land where death is guaranteed.

“As far as we, the followers of Vedic civilization, are concerned, we accept the Vedic history of the whole universe, which consists of different planetary systems, called Svargaloka, or the higher planetary system, Martyaloka, or the intermediary planetary system, and Patalaloka, or the lower planetary system.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Krishna, The Supreme Personality Of Godhead, Preface)

In the mode of passion a person remains where they are. We can think of it like playing sports. If you win the championship, the next season everything starts over. Pretty soon your victory is a distant memory. The same goes for a traumatic failure. This sort of life is also referred to as chewing the chewed; the same experience, repeating, with diminishing enjoyment.

4. Vaikuntha

As Shri Krishna says in the Bhagavad-gita, from the highest planet to the lowest there is repeated birth and death. That is how the transfer in residence takes place. At the time of death the pious person goes to the heavenly region, the sinner to the hellish planets, and those in between take birth again on earth.

The spiritual abode is the only place where birth and death stop; no more travel. It is not material; hence no more distinction between spirit and body. The features on the individual are spiritual in nature. Since the region is free of anxieties, it is known as Vaikuntha.

In the Vaikuntha region the Supreme Lord resides in different personal manifestations. There are different moods of interaction on the different planets, with Krishnaloka being unique. This is where Shri Krishna, the all-attractive one, resides. The experience is so blissful that no one wants to leave. Time still exists, but it lacks a negative influence.

[Krishna with cows]It is due to the personal association of God that rebirth stops in Vaikuntha. The wise thus make it their goal to reach that place right now, even before death arrives. The Divine incarnates through something as basic as sound, which immediately acts to relieve the burdens of material existence and clear the consciousness for the higher, more blissful spiritual life: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

In Closing:

Vedas referring to worlds numbering three,

Like in heavenly region enjoyment to see.

In hell deserved punishment getting.

Land of death in earthly place setting.

But only in Vaikuntha with anxieties free,

No more spinning in reincarnation to be.

Can get a taste right now, even death before,

Comes quickly when chanting more and more.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Two Reasons Arjuna Could Fall Down While In Krishna’s Presence

[Krishna and Arjuna on chariot]“Sanjaya said: Arjuna, having thus spoken on the battlefield, cast aside his bow and arrows and sat down on the chariot, his mind overwhelmed with grief.” (Bhagavad-gita, 1.46)

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The teaching is that no one falls from the spiritual world. The promise comes directly from the Supreme Personality of Godhead. From the highest planet to the lowest, there is repeated birth and death. You go to heaven but eventually have to come back. You suffer in hell, even for a long time, but at some point get a chance at redemption.

“From the highest planet in the material world down to the lowest, all are places of misery wherein repeated birth and death take place. But one who attains to My abode, O son of Kunti, never takes birth again.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 8.16)

Those who go to God’s abode don’t have to take birth again. Krishna is God the person, the detail behind the abstract. His image clears up the confusion about what God looks like, what His preferences are, and what His outlook towards the many living entities is.

The idea is that if you are with God then you won’t want to enjoy separate from Him. The definition of falling down is the presence of the negative. That is the original sin, if you will. As long as the desire remains, there is rebirth. The presence of that desire is monitored specifically at the time of death in the form of consciousness. From this we get another promise. Whoever thinks of Krishna while quitting the body does not have to take birth again.

“And whoever, at the time of death, quits his body, remembering Me alone, at once attains My nature. Of this there is no doubt.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 8.5)

The bow warrior Arjuna was with Krishna quite a bit. This was during Krishna’s time on earth, where He descends either personally or in an incarnation form. Arjuna risked sin by refusing to fight in a great war in which so many people counted on him to uphold justice. How could this happen considering that God was right there next to Him?

1. To teach about the Supersoul

Krishna was there, but as the charioteer. The Supreme Lord was not directing everything from the start. This shows another amazing aspect to God. He holds His devotees so dear that He allows them to command Him. This is in stark contrast to the image of an old, vindictive man watching disapprovingly from above.

Arjuna’s temporary lapse in judgment was arranged by Krishna to teach many things, including the nature of the Supersoul. God is actually always with us. Not a blade of grass moves without His sanction. He was there on the chariot with Arjuna, but He was also in the hearts of each and every fighter, on both sides. The good guys and the bad have the presence of the Divine within them.

Arjuna righted the wrong only after humbly submitting before Krishna, who then changed roles. He went from friend to teacher. The guru is similar to God. He is the spiritual master, representing the same interest. In this way the guru is like an incarnation of the Divine, coming to rescue in the same way that Krishna was there for Arjuna.

The Supersoul is within everyone, sanctioning and permitting. We make the decision to act, but there is no guarantee the chosen action will occur or have the intended result. This can be for something as simple as deciding to speak. Some people lack the ability. The external cause is material nature, inhibiting the individual through the makeup of the body. The original cause, hidden in the background, is the Supersoul, who allows and denies based on karma, or fruitive activity.

“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)

This doesn’t mean that the Supersoul will never step in. The key is to make the approach, which Arjuna did. Only then were his doubts cleared. He learned that acting with detachment is the proper way. To follow prescribed duties is to stay above sinful reactions. The best path is to act according to Krishna’s directions, for then the karma turns into bhakti, thus relieving the burden of future births.

2. Yogamaya

Illusion in the material world is often referred to as maya. This has a negative connotation. The lengthened form of the same word is mahamaya, which provides a more complete definition. Maya is an energy coming from Krishna. We can think of it like the amusement park operator. The individual makes the decision to enter the park, and someone else is responsible for the construction. The operator is there to make sure the experience goes as desired.

Mahamaya ensures forgetfulness of God, which is the root of all problems in a material existence. Arjuna’s case was a little different. Since He was so dear to Krishna, he was under the influence of yogamaya. There is illusion in this as well, but the effect is always positive. Yogamaya is so strong that a person can be with Krishna all the time, witness His amazing ability, and still not be consciously aware of His divine nature.

[Krishna and Arjuna]This is intentional, to increase the enjoyment from the relationship. In Arjuna’s case, yogamaya helped to spark a wonderful discussion, today known as the Bhagavad-gita. This “Song of God” has lessons applicable to all age groups, cultures, and time periods. It starts by revealing the basic distinction between body and spirit and ends with the promise of full safety through total surrender in devotion, which Arjuna followed.

In Closing:

So unsure that weapons to drop,

Case of self-doubt Arjuna got.

But how when Krishna right there standing,

Should not duty behavior commanding?

A lesson on Supersoul position to see,

Permitting, but keeping choices free.

Over devotees special energy to overtake.

Illusion for more enjoyment’s sake.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Is There Symbolic Meaning To Krishna’s Flute

[Krishna with flute]“As far as His flute is concerned, it is said that the vibration of this wonderful instrument was able to break the meditation of the greatest sages, and Krishna was thus challenging Cupid by advertising His transcendental glories all over the world.” (The Nectar Of Devotion, Ch 26)

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Friend1: I must say, the image of the deity in the temple is quite beautiful.

Friend2: Which deity, which temple, and I hope you realize that a lot of it is due to the decoration.

Friend1: Shri Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, any temple, and isn’t it the other way around?

Friend2: Which specific manifestation, okay, and what do you mean?

Friend1: Alright, this is getting ridiculous. I am going to break up the pattern. Let’s address one question at a time. By manifestation, I’m assuming you’re referring to different time periods in His appearance on this earth. Otherwise, isn’t the Supreme Lord known as nava-yauvanam? He never ages beyond the teenage years.

Friend2: Exactly. But some temples worship Him in the childhood form.

[Radha-Krishna]Friend1: Oh, I see. Of course they are all beautiful, but the one I was recalling is the standing form, with one leg bent, smiling, holding the flute in His hands, with Shrimati Radharani to His left.

Friend2: Got it.

Friend1: For the last question, I’ve heard it said that the ornaments on Krishna’s body actually become more beautiful; not the other way around. That is one amazing aspect to God and His transcendental features.

Friend2: For sure. The thing is in the temple the decorations are there so that people will see God with the proper respect and attention. It’s the Lord’s mercy to appear in the statue, which becomes the deity based on authorized methods of worship done by qualified persons. The atheist sees only stone, and so they get no benefit. God is never limited in size. He is the entire universe and more, so how is it possible to keep Him in the home?

Friend1: It’s His kindness.

Friend2: We don’t have the eyes to see the entire universe and more. We can’t see the smallest of the smallest, either. We can’t even see the individual soul within, animating the living being. How are we going to see God, then? The only way is if He helps us.

Friend1: Great explanation. Here’s a question I get sometimes. Is there any symbolic meaning to the flute?

Friend2: As in?

Friend1: Does it represent some higher concept? It is there to teach about the power of sound or how God is expert at handling musical instruments - something along those lines?

Friend2: I see. He is, of course, expert at everything. He plays the most beautiful music on the flute. In Vrindavana, the people mostly take care of cows. In Krishna’s family the father puts the son in charge of the calves. Krishna and His friends go out to the fields. Sometimes when the cows start scattering here and there, the Supreme Lord, in His beautiful, youthful form, climbs to the top of Govardhana Hill and begins to play His flute. That immediately gets everyone’s attention.

Friend1: And this happens for real?

Friend2: Of course. Vyasadeva and others were not fiction writers. They were after self-realization, so they didn’t waste time in fantasy land. Vedic literature uses allegory in certain sections, which are obvious to anyone reading. Krishna’s pastimes are described by so many people, with varying levels of detail. It would have to be the biggest conspiracy in the world for so many people to talk about someone who never existed.

Friend1: For sure. No symbolism to the flute, then?

Friend2: This idea of everything being symbolic is based on mental speculation, on personal experience, which is always limited. Krishna has a flute in His hands because that is what He carries. His complexion is shyama, which is dark blue, like the cloud about to pour rain, because that is what His complexion is. If you want to take any sort of deeper meaning from the flute, understand that only in the Krishna form is the Supreme Lord completely uninhibited.

Friend1: What do you mean?

Friend2: He has many incarnations, and those incarnations are always God Himself. The difference is that sometimes many of the features are hidden. There is specific focus for a specific task. Vishnu creates the universes and then expands to travel as the Supersoul with every living being. Narasimhadeva has a unique look so as to not violate the boons of protection offered to the evil king Hiranyakashipu. Shri Ramachandra pays great respect to dharma as righteousness and the duties of a king.

Friend1: And Krishna is the complete everything?

[Krishna with flute]Friend2: In Vrindavana especially. He has nothing to do. He simply enjoys. There are different kinds of interaction, but there is no duty on Krishna’s part. He is free to play His flute, run with the cows, wrestle with His friends, eat wonderful food prepared by the mother, and rendezvous with the most beautiful women, who love Him purely.

In Closing:

In pictures Krishna with flute to see,

Symbolic or higher meaning to be?

Known to produce most amazing sound,

Attracting cows from pasturing ground.

Factual image, with impact far reaching,

At same time valuable lessons teaching.

For only in that form with nothing to do,

Carefree with family, friends, and lovers too.