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

Friday, September 15, 2017

chappan bhog offering

On account of our deities 10 year anniversary, I requested for a chappan bhog offering. Below is one picture we took.

Hare Krishna

one of the most difficult things to do in Krishna consciousness

What does it mean to "depend" on Krishna or take "shelter" of Krishna? It means that we cannot control the result. We may have an aspiration or result in mind but taking shelter in essence means we have to leave the results up to Krishna. This is the most difficult thing in taking shelter, in my opinion. To allow Krishna control the result while we use our intelligence to work practically.

Arjuna was asked to shoot arrows and kill but it was Krishna who determined the ultimate result. If we can have patience and calmness of mind to simply work leaving the result to Krishna (result may be for or against our aspirations), then we will never fall away from the path of service to Krishna. I think this is one of the most difficult things to do in Krishna Consciousness - to leave the result to Krishna while I work diligently!

Hare Krishna

Monday, August 28, 2017

Guru, sadhu, shastra tattva

In Krishna Consciousness or bkakti yoga or vedic understanding of the metaphysics, the three checkpoints used to ascertain truth is guru, sadhu and shastra. Although all three have to coincide still we need a reference point to begin with and that is the scriptures or shastra. In other words, the sadhu and guru must agree with the shastra or scriptures. Why? Because shastra is considered 'apaurusheya' or in other words not tainted by mundane dualities of time and space. It does not change as we change. Also, just as Narayana existed before creation, shastra existed before creation as well. Before creation there was no time so the vedic scriptures existed before time (outside imperfections). So once we come within time, even pure devotees need to align with shastra. That is the method or the way to ascertain tattva or truth.

Another aspect of shastra is that although we may study scriptures over time in piece-meal still the conclusions must be accepted in whole. It is like stitching a quilt with different colored patches. The quilt is one big blanket but stitched over time with different patterns. Similarly, there may be differences in different scriptures presented to different people and if we just look at the details in difference ignoring the whole, then we see a quilt for its patches or patterns and not as a whole fabric as a blanket. Therefore the conclusions from the scriptures must be holistically derived. Any contradictions we may encounter has to be understood as a detail.

For example, in some scriptures, Siva or Durga are glorified as Supreme. This is a detail that needs to be addressed and visited. But the overall conclusion is that Vishnu is Para or beyond materialism but Siva and Durga are Supreme within the creation (but not outside of it). Therefore the overall conclusion is Vishnu is the Supreme.  This is the quilt as a blanket vision. Another example is always remember Vishnu and never forget Him and do whatever is favorable in regards to that. This is the blanket vision. So other details such as guru tattva, sadhana bhakti, qualities of a disciple such as humility, tolerance etc should serve the blanket truth to always be connected to Vishnu. But if separate them, then we will give importance to guru's instructions more than God's instructions and elevate guru to God in a subtle manner. We will practice sadhana bhakti sentimentally (can lead to dogmatism) and humility as self-righteousness. So like this when we separate the singular individual truths from the blanket truths, we will eventually deviate and fall.

Therefore, we have to understand shastra as center and guru and sadhu are subservient to shastric conclusions and that we have to accept vedanta (conclusions) holistically and not piece-meal.

The actual center is the śāstra, the revealed scripture. If a spiritual master does not speak according to the revealed scripture, he is not to be accepted. Similarly, if a saintly person does not speak according to the śāstra, he is not a saintly person. The śāstra is the center for all.
- Purport by Srila Prabhupada CC Madhya 20.352

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Strict adherence does not entail shunning of the non-strict

Someone asked me about my thoughts on Neem Karoli baba. I heard about the Baba and how few of his followers have made him famous such as Krishna das and Baba Ram das. I also heard some of the other-worldly things he had done and how he was loving towards his followers etc. I think he is also a follower of Lord Hanuman. Since I have not met the Baba or read any of his books and know him only through hearsay, honestly, I cannot speak much about him. In India, there are so many babas and gurus even inside the line of vaishnaivism, so many that we can get lost and confused.

The general trends as far as I can tell is like this – those who believe God is a personal Being with form and attributes are most likely connected to some sampradaya in an official sense. They would have studied the scriptures in an academic manner and intellectually first approach God. Those who are not connected to a sampradaya but due to practice of yoga or some previous karmic spiritual realizations/yogic siddhis start their own ashram. Such self-proclaimed babas or gurus most likely live an ascetic life but their understanding of spiritual will lean towards an impersonal reality. This is the general trend as far as I can tell. Of course, there are other out-right cheaters who are not even ascetics (we can ignore them).

Srila Prabhupada, from the standpoint of suddha bhakti, was strict and even sounded sectarian against non-suddha bhakti. This is because he wanted to clearly demarcate the path to Vaikunta and this path is certainly methodical and not just sentimental. Therefore, from that perspective of pure devotion, we have to but shun other paths. Srila Prabhupada's definition of bonafide guru is from the perspective of pure devotion to Govinda.

There is another way to look at this too. Not everyone will be interested in pure devotion to Govinda. If that is the case, they will be more sentimental towards God than methodical. Such people will be attracted to any guru or baba who has esoteric qualities. We should not criticize the devotees who are seeking a lower-form of spiritual shelter. This is because at the minimum, even if impersonally inclined, these spiritual aspirants are taught to give up a gross materialistic way of life such as meat eating, sex, intoxication etc. So from the perspective of elevation from gross-materialism (approaching satva guna), I think those who are not interested in pure devotion still are making progress towards Krishna albeit slowly. Perhaps in a future state, they will see the fallacy of impersonalism and take to personalism.

Srila Prabhupada dealt in a practical sense like a gentleman towards all types of people. For example, he was friends of Dr.Misra who was an outspoken mayavadi. He even took services from him. He even personally served Dr.Misra, healing him back to health when he was sick. Srila Prabhupada also used Dr.Misra’s facilities as a way to spread Bhakti yoga. Srila Prabhupada was grateful to Allen Ginsberg and had nice things to say about him. Allen was openly gay and spoke in favor of it. Srila Prabhupada also knew about it, yet he was compassionate and kind. There is also documentation of how Srila Prabhupada was friendly with Yogi Bhajan and despite the difference in philosophy, Srila Prabhupada seeked Yogi’s help as a Kshatriya. Srila Prabhupada was also a close friend of Mr.Hanuman Prasad Poddar and seeked his help to publish his initial Srimad Bhagavatam Cantos. I do not think Mr.Hanuman Prasad Poddar was a seeker of pure devotion as chalked out by Prabhupada in his books. Like this, we can see how Srila Prabhupada had friendly relationships with everyone on a one-to-one basis (private) but as a teacher and guru he was vocal about mayavadism in this books and lectures (public).

As followers of Srila Prabhupada’s teachings, we also have to respect all people from all backgrounds but for our own self (privately speaking), we strictly adhere to the principles set by the Guru and Parampara and we do not internally associate (although may be externally sometimes) with mayavadism or other non-suddha bhakti path.

Hare Krishna

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Essence of essence is humility

Gaudiya Vaishnavism is a branch from the Brahma-Madhwa parampara. The uniqueness of this branch is that it imbibes the mood of Radha and sweetness of Krishna. No other sampradaya focuses on these two qualities much. Sripad Madhavendra Puri is the initiator of this mood and Lord Chaitanya accepted Madhvendra Puri as His Param Guru. Then Mahaprabhu planted this seed all over India and Srila Prabhupada all over the world.

The recommended method to achieve the mood of Radha as given by Mahaprabhu is Nama-sankirtanam. Therefore, (1) Externally speaking, the essence is chanting (2) Internally speaking, the essence is love in separation of God in the mood of Radha. the essence for both is humility. Therefore the essence of the essence is humility!

Therefore, Srila Krishna das Kaviraj Goswami said “One who thinks himself lower than the grass, who is more tolerant than a tree, and who does not expect personal honor yet is always prepared to give all respect to others can very easily always chant the holy name of the Lord. Raising my hands, I declare, Everyone please hear me! String this verse on the thread of the holy name and wear it on your neck for continuous remembrance.One must strictly follow the principles given by Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu in this verse. If one simply follows in the footsteps of Lord Caitanya and the Gosvāmīs, certainly he will achieve the ultimate goal of life, the lotus feet of Śrī Kṛṣṇa.”  – CC Adi 17.31-33

As per my understanding. humility is as follows;
  1. to be sincere, serious and no other ulterior motive but to follow the instructions of the spiritual master
  2. to do one's best in fulfilling the mission of the spiritual master
  3. to try one's best to depend on Krishna in all circumstances and pray to Him always
  4. to internally cultivate a mood of service to all living beings and mood of love for Krishna
Hare Krishna

Friday, August 18, 2017