Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare / Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Mood of shelter

In Bhakti yoga or Krishna consciousness, we practice our sadhana in a mood of shelter. When we chant the Hare Krishna mahamantra, we don't simply chant like the mayavadis or at least this is not how it should be done. Mayavadis chant in a ritualistic manner like in repeating names, thats all. Externally it may look the same but pure devotees are not repeating names, they are calling out names of Krishna in a mood of shelter, "Oh Lord, I am so fallen, please give me shelter at your Lotus Feet." This feeling of helplessness and dependency purifies our consciousness of false-pride and invokes instead a sense of humility.

The more we feel dependent the more we will not struggle in this world to exist. The less we struggle, the more peaceful we become. The more peaceful we become, the happier we become. This is the difference. A devotee always approaches Krishna in a sense of dependency and shelter.

Hare Krishna

Thursday, August 18, 2016

The verse that opened the flood gates of ecstatic love!

The Gaudiya Vaishnava siddhanta is unique like no other in the sense it highlights the aspect of divine love that is experienced in separation from the beloved. Lord Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu who is Krishna in the mood of Radha exhibited this specific aspect of prema or love. In India worship of Krishna or Vishnu is a universal concept. In fact, it is said that once the entire planet earth worshipped Krishna or Vishnu. So worship of Vishnu or Krishna is not anything new. However, Mahaprabhu introduced this confidential aspect of prema or divine love in separation through His own mood when He was present on earth 500 years ago. Ever since, Mahaprabhu’s followers consider this specific aspect of love as summum bonum of religion or dharma.

Mahaprabhu externally speaking, took up this mood at a specific time in His earthly pastimes in line with Madhavendra Puri. In other words, it was Madhavendra Puri who first displayed this aspect of love in separation. Madhavendra Puri took initiation from Lakshmipati Tirta in the line of Madhvacharya who preached dualism. Prema in madurya rasa was a foreign idea or one can say suppressed idea for Madhva followers or tattvadis. This can be proven by the fact that Mahaprabhu Himself introduced prema in this unique way to tattvadis when He went to Udipi.

So although Gaudiyas follow Madhvacharya line, the traditional tattvadis do not fully acknowledge or recognize this spontaneous love in separation as summum bonum. Strict Madhva followers still adhere to the aishwarya aspect of Godhead.

The verse that Madhavedra Puri prayed to externally show his mood of separation is this ;

ayi dīna-dayārdra nātha he 
mathurā-nātha kadāvalokyase 
hṛdayaṁ tvad-aloka-kātaraṁ 
dayita bhrāmyati kiṁ karomy aham 

O My Lord! O most merciful master! O master of Mathurā! When shall I see You again? Because of My not seeing You, My agitated heart has become unsteady. O most beloved one, what shall I do now? – CC Madhya Lila 4.197

One can say this verse is the foundational verse that the entire mood of Gaudiya Vaishnava siddhanta is set on. Mahaprabhu just by reciting this verse would fall to the ground in ecstasy and thus began His display of fantastic emotions of love of Krishna in separation from Krishna.

This verse unlocks one’s own feelings of separation from Krishna. While one must follow in the footsteps of great souls, meditating on this verse will give insights into the mood of Vraja. Sripad Madhvendra puri was the first person to express this pure feeling of love and Lord Chaitanya who is Krishna Himself by getting initiated in Madhvendra Puri’s line sanctions this prayer for all time to come.

Hare Krishna

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Dogmatism

One time I used the word “dogmatic” and a young boy asked me what does “dogmatic” mean? Interestingly, I did not have a convincing answer. This made me think a little bit. The dictionary definition is “a principle or set of principles laid down by an authority as incontrovertibly true”. From a cultural perspective, any phenomenon that does not have supportive evidence can be deemed dogmatic. By both accounts, one may argue that the tenets of Krishna consciousness is dogmatic. Because it is laid down by an authority as absolute truth and there is little physical evidence on the earth plane to validate Krishna or His activities like for example Him lifting the Govardhan Hill.

As devotees of Krishna, when rational thinkers debate with us, it is important to present Krishna consciousness in a way that is “not” dogmatic. If the opposite of dogma equals presentation of evidence, then we are in a tough spot because we do not have physical evidence to categorically talk about Krishna. How then can we present Krishna in a “non-dogmatic” light?

Srila Prabhupada denied that man landed on the moon despite live tv coverage. Once in a public meeting, when he was asked, he countered by asking “how do you know man landed on the moon?”. The man replied “I know because the American scientists say so”. Srila Prabhupada simply said “well, you believe Americans, we believe Shastra” Now, this may sound like a simple answer. But what Prabhupada pointed out to the rational thinker is that they also “believe” someone just as we “believe” someone. By tacitly implying you are no less dogmatic than me, why is your statement superior to mine? They may argue on the strength of the evidence cited, but still since they are not experts in that field themselves, still they have to "believe" an expert.

But scientists are not against belief, they are against non-testable beliefs. For example, scientists claim that dark matter and dark energy pretty much constitutes 96% of mass in the universe. This is a widely held “truth” within the physicist world. If I want to be a physicist, I have to agree to this premise. It is a mathematically derived premise from sample data. So this presupposition has to be accepted on “belief” by eminent scholars in the field. This method of accepting a principle by an authority as truth is also practiced extensively in all fields of science. Are then all students of science, scientists and rational thinkers dogmatic? The answer is no. The reason being, they do not accept it as incontrovertible truth. In other words, the truths or presuppositions such as dark matter constituting 96% of mass can be falsified or tested or changed if we can find evidence controverting the original theory. So in that sense, scientists claim an upper hand to religious super-naturalism. Although in reality rarely one will go against established science (thus making them equally dogmatic), still that theoretical option is available for one who is interested even if that means one's career can be put in jeopardy.

The option to test and refute is not available to religionists because it is either true or false, end of story! This non-testable, non-falsifiable attitude towards truth is the reason rational thinkers consider religion as dogma.

In conclusion, we can present Krishna in a "non-dogmatic" light by addressing two points (1) to point out that not everything of this world that is accepted as common or mainstream has categorical evidence thus there are shades of dogma involved among rationalists (2) the science of Krishna can be tested and if necessary falsified.

As Srila Prabhupada endearingly asks many times to total strangers about the process of Krishna consciousness - “what is the loss?”

Hare Krishna

Monday, August 15, 2016

Realized Faith vs Sentimental Faith

The operative word in Krishna Consciousness is “faith”. In Bhagavad Gita, Krishna uses the word “shraddha” at least ten times in different places in His conversation with Arjuna. In these places, Krishna clearly stresses the importance of faith in knowing Him. In chapter six text 47, there is a clear indication to this point. Srila Rupa Goswami, the leader for Gaudiya Vaishnavas, explains that “shraddha” or “faith” is the preliminary ingredient to understand and love God. Having said that, Srila Prabhupada in his introduction to Bhagavad Gita explains the difference in faith within sanatana dharma and faith in sectarian religion. Below is his quote;

The English word religion is a little different from sanātana-dharma. Religion conveys the idea of faith, and faith may change. One may have faith in a particular process, and he may change this faith and adopt another, but sanātana-dharma refers to that activity which cannot be changed…Those belonging to some sectarian faith will wrongly consider that sanātana-dharma is also sectarian, but if we go deeply into the matter and consider it in the light of modern science, it is possible for us to see that sanātana-dharma is the business of all the people of the world – nay, of all the living entities of the universe. Non-sanātana religious faith may have some beginning in the annals of human history, but there is no beginning to the history of sanātana-dharma, because it remains eternally with the living entities…Yet man professes to belong to a particular type of faith with reference to particular time and circumstance and thus claims to be a Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Buddhist or an adherent of any other sect. Such designations are non–sanātana-dharma. A Hindu may change his faith to become a Muslim, or a Muslim may change his faith to become a Hindu, or a Christian may change his faith and so on. But in all circumstances the change of religious faith does not affect the eternal occupation of rendering service to others. The Hindu, Muslim or Christian in all circumstances is a servant of someone. Thus, to profess a particular type of faith is not to profess one’s sanātana-dharma.

“Faith” or “belief” is a common word and has to be understood properly. When it is used purely on a sentimental platform fully dependent on the words of the speaker or a book such as the Bible or Koran or Gita etc, then it is considered “sentimental faith”. But that “faith” which motivates the soul to express his or her inherent nature of selfless and timeless service to God and all beings is considered “realized faith”.

When one’s faith is enriched with realization versus mere sentiment, there is harmony within and without followed by peace and inner joy!

Hare Krishna.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

The power of chanting

Your mind is wondering all over the universe when you chant. Chant anyway!
Your mind is wondering to the past and future when you chant. Chant anyway!
You are not able to concentrate on Krsna's names while you chant. Chant anyway!
You have no taste for chanting. Chant anyway!
You have lusty desires. Chant anyway!
You are making offences in chanting. Chant anyway!
You are not praying to Krsna to help you chant better. Chant anyway!
You often chant late at night. Chant anyway!

Why should you chant despite all the above obstacles? 

This is why: There is no vow like chanting the holy name, no knowledge superior to it, no meditation which comes anywhere near it, and it gives the highest result.

No penance is equal to it, and nothing is as potent or powerful as the holy name.

Chanting is the greatest act of piety and the supreme refuge.

Even the words of the Vedas do not possess sufficient power to describe its magnitude.

Chanting is the highest path to liberation, peace and eternal life.

It's the pinnacle of devotion, the heart's joyous proclivity and attraction and the best form of remembrance of the Supreme Lord.

The holy name has appeared solely for the benefit of the living entities as their lord and master, their supreme worshipful object and their spiritual guide and mentor.

Whoever continuously chants Lord Krishna's holy name, even in his sleep, can easily realize that the name is a direct manifestation of Krishna Himself, in spite of the influences of Kali-yuga. -

- Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, Saranagati (quoted from Adi-purana)

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

To serve

In our current experience so far, to serve others is not very glorious position. In fact people like to be served but not serve others or people serve only if there is some sort of return. So generally speaking, to serve is not popular or done with some motive. So when pure devotees pray to the Lord for service, it is not very appealing to the common man.

Therefore very few people actually pray like this – “oh my Lord, please engage me in your service as the servant of your servant!”. However, to serve the Lord or His devotees is not the same as serving people of this world. In fact serving the Lord or His devotees is higher than the position of Lord Brahma or Siva who are the masters of this universe. Service to Bhagavan Sri Krishna is the pinnacle of all austerity, charity, prayer and religions principles. It is the highest position a soul can achieve in his or her journey towards God.

Let me always desire only one thing “oh my Lord, let me always be engaged, if you so desire,in your service as the servant of your servants”, for there is nothing greater than this!

Hare Krishna