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

Sunday, November 18, 2018

struggle for existance

Our existence is filled with struggles. It is because nature is designed in such a way that we are dependent on other beings for sustenance. Dependence requires cooperation and where there is no cooperation, there will be struggle. Struggle to align body and mind with health and well-being. Struggle to work as a community and prosper economically and socially. Struggle to ensure I am happy and everyone is happy in this world. As hard as we may try, unfortunately, mankind has never made everyone happy at all times. Therefore, we can say struggle for existence is a constant in this world.

As practitioners of bhakti, struggle takes a different meaning. It is not so much meant to conquer nature, and people and man-made systems to make ends meet but rather a struggle to tolerate the ever changing mind and try to fix the mind unto the Lotus Feet of Krishna. While it is necessary to do the needful in terms of satisfying the demands of the mind and body, however, it is more necessary to practice indifference to the movements of the mind and practice taking shelter of Krishna. This practice of seeking shelter will help us tame the turbulent mind and the more we humble our self to Krishna, the easier it will be to tame the mind or in other words be indifferent to the mind.

Struggling to take shelter of Krishna is the permanent solution that puts a full-stop to all struggles for material existence!

Hare Krishna

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Nine stages of Bhakti

The nine steps are as follows;

  1. Shraddha - preliminary faith (not strong) 
  2. Sadhu Sanga (associating with like minded and advanced devotees) 
  3. Bhajana Kriya (performing devotional service based on rules and regulations) 
  4. Anartha Nivrti (gradually freeing one's self from unwanted propensities) 
  5. Nishta (faith becomes stronger) 
  6. Ruci (cultivate a taste as result) 
  7. Asakti (cultivate attachment to Krishna and His form, pastimes and Holy Name) 
  8. Bhava (spontaneous attachment and preliminary stages of love) 
  9.  Prema (unalloyed love for Krishna) 
This is a deep subject that can be justified by senior realized devotees and/or by studying Nectar of Devotion. Below is my 2 cents. Krishna Consciousness is a science albeit a science of non-matter. Normally, science is attributed to matter that which can be tested and verified. So if science equals testing and verification, then these steps exactly show us that anyone regardless of background when they take up to Krishna Bhakti will personally experience the nine symptoms above. That is the test and our verification. The beginning is faith (shraddha) and it is not strong faith. This faith is secondary mostly, dependent on guru, sadhu and shastra. This faith is sentimental and or theoretical. The journey has to begin from here. In the Western Judeo-Christian religions, all they have is Step 1. They believe in God and thats it. But as you can see, our acharyas have given a systematized exposition on this subject clearly stating its predictable symptoms. For the initial faith to go from theory to reality requires practical application which is the rest of the eight steps.

Without sadhus and blessings of sadhus (again this is an esoteric idea since blessings is not testable or sensual however it works) it is difficult almost to nil that our chance to progress in spiritual life. If they bless, we have to accept the blessings. The way we accept their blessings is through seva or bhajana kriya. This submissiveness of accepting the blessings of sadhus and shastra is the beginning of our real spiritual life (punctuated in our life as initiation or diksha). Diksha is not a ritualistic ceremony. To the degree we accept the blessings in the form of service, to that degree we will experience the remaining steps. Sadhus here not only refers to one's spiritual master but also a new devotee walking into the temple. Although we associate with elevated souls but by pleasing devotees of all caliber Krishna is pleased. But if we just focus on pleasing guru and not pleasing other vaishnavas then our understanding of bhakti is incomplete as we fail to see the relationship with Krishna and the new devotee.

As a result of pleasing Krishna, there is a sense of fulfillment (much like a hungry man who had a full meal) and this fulfillment provides us a sense of inner security and peace of mind that Krishna will protect. As a result, the soul will not hover anymore or desire to hover on the mode of passion and ignorance. The soul will voluntarily journey to satva guna or mode of goodness by giving up unwanted material lifestyle (anartha nivrti) and become more benevolent, compassionate and charity minded to all beings. The desire now to be submissive to guru, sadhu and shastra will become more intense and focused (nisha).

The rest of the journey is pretty much like auto-pilot mode because once the soul gets a higher taste (ruchi) and feels relief from the pangs of material miseries, the soul will journey closer and closer to Krishna (asakti). It is like if we are feeling cold, and journey towards heat we will not stop once we feel the initial waves of heat. Similarly, spiritual world and spiritual life is the anti-thesis of materialism which means relief from material miseries. Once we taste spiritual peace and happiness, the soul will not stop. Having said that we should still have determination to stay on the path since we are in this material creation and at any moment calamity can befall. Thinking like this, the soul is not proud of his security and position but rather humble always praying to Krishna for shelter and protection with a desire to seek His association (bhava).

This utter dependence on Krishna and literally crying for His mercy is the real sign that we are on the path and close to the destiny of Krishna prema which is step nine of the bhakti sequence.

Hare Krishna

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Lessons from Narada's travel to the North

In the Srimad Bhagavatam, first canto, chapter six, Narada Muni describes his own journey to spiritual emancipation. What do we learn? Below are few of my thoughts;

  1. From the death of the mother of Narada, we learn that the Lord is the Supreme controller and we the insignificant jivas are but like puppets under a puppet master. All activities good and bad that happen in my life happens by the will and sanction of Krishna.
  2. Because Narada as a boy served the great Bhakti-vedantas, when he was alone wandering he had the know-how to approach that which is invisible. In other words, his association with the Lord actually was possible because the Bhakti-vedantas taught Narada how to approach the Transcendent Lord. If not for them, he would be lost and not be realized himself. Therefore, without the mercy of a pure devotee, Krishna will not manifest.
  3. Krishna is all independent and not subjected to anyone's thoughts or prayers yet He reveals Himself to Narada thus confirming the idea that He is the eternal well-wisher of all Beings.
  4. Krishna is non-material thus He is approachable ONLY if we become non-material or spiritual. That is why Narada muni was advised by Krishna that He cannot be seen by anyone who has material desires. If we want to serve Krishna, we have to become pure of material dualities of gain and loss.
  5. Nama-Sankirtan is the essence of Vedanta and Narada after losing sight of Krishna decided to chant the Holy Names of the Lord constantly with no material attachments. We also have to follow in his footsteps. 
  6. Patience is a virtue. From the first contact of Krishna to becoming His eternal associate took more than 4.3 trillion years for Narada so we also have to become patient and wait for the mercy of the Lord (we should not feel entitled).
  7. After a long wait, Narada successfully became Narada. Krishna does not abandon His bhakta therefore Krishna as Bhakta-vatsal always protects His devotees and delivers the devotee to Himself. We should have this confidence that at the end of it all - Krishna never disappoints!
Hare Krishna

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Contradictions in modern Christianity

"You heard me say, ‘I am going away and I am coming back to you.’ If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. - John 14.28

"The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. - Mark 12.29

By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me. - John 5.30

Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ - John 20.17

Modern Christianity
Jesus is God - contradicts John 14.28
God exists as a trinity (in three) - contradicts Mark 12.29
Jesus is All Powerful - contradicts John 5.30
Jesus is the only son of God. - contradicts John 20.17

I think it is important to know that Jesus spoke according to time and circumstance. To think that Jesus and Krishna are one and the same is ignorance and also offensive. The verses spoken by Jesus clearly indicate his position in relation to his father. I am sure there may be other verses claiming Jesus's position but certainly these verses are clear as day and cannot be ignored or unnecessarily interpreted.

Hare Krishna

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

why Krishna and not others?

Another day, someone asked why Krishna and why not Jesus?

We all have opinions. That makes us who we are. Between different opinions, an expert's opinion is given weight. Between experts, the expert with extensive knowledge and experience is given weight. Like this we can deduce logically that commonly, when opinions are sought, the person with the most knowledge and experience weighs out others' opinions. If we also know the amount of mistakes one commits then that can still filter out opinions. Above all this, if we know the person really cares about me and my well-being then that opinion still stands high.

So anyone's opinion who has a combination of all three (extent of knowledge,lack of error and well-being) to a high degree can be accepted. In that regard, Krishna is faultless (perfect), all-knowing (omniscient) and friend of all beings. Above that, He is also the person who owns everything in this cosmos. Therefore, we accept Krishna's opinion versus another say like Jesus or someone else.

Therefore, O Lord, feeling weary of material life and tormented by its distresses, I now surrender unto You because You are the perfect master. You are the unlimited, all-knowing Supreme Personality of Godhead, whose spiritual abode in Vaikuṇṭha is free from all disturbances. In fact, You are known as Nārāyaṇa, the true friend of all living beings. - Uddhava to Krishna - SB 11.7.18

Hare Krishna

Thursday, August 30, 2018

why the Bible and Koran fall short

Someone asked me a question when I was distributing books the difference between Bhagavad Gita and the Bible and why the Gita is any different. It was sort of a challenging question. I thought about the question more and below are some of my points. This logic can also extend to the Koran.

The Bible and Koran although existing for the past 2000 and 1500 years respectively, have not been recognized as authoritative scriptures by the great acharyas like Sri Ramanuja and Madhwa. In fact, none of the saintly teachers give lot of credence to the Bible and Koran. A few of them have commented on some of its value, however, it is not accepted as a spiritual authority.

Bible and Koran was spoken for a different audience at a specific time and place. Following are, in my opinion, shortcomings that to me invalidate it as a scripture.

  1. God is anonymous - If a book is meant to be the word of God, then the least the reader should be aware of is the identity of God? In fact, even the name of God is not properly revealed. There are suggestions, certainly, but the name, form, and pastimes of God is anonymous. 
  2. The early reciters are anonymous - The Bible and Koran was transferred from one generation to next mainly through oral tradition. The stories were told and re-told to this day. However, we do not have documentation of the identity and qualification of the story tellers. In the Bhagavad Gita, the speaker is very clear and later on, through the chain of disciplic succession from Maha muni Vyasa, the speakers are clear and their qualifications known. The same cannot be said of the Bible or Koram.  
  3. The authors are anonymous - The Bible and Koran were heard and written by scholars of unknown origin. The old testament, however, especially the first five books called the Torah were written by Moses and the later books were written by some known people. However, as for the New Testament, the stories in the Gospel, the authors are under question. Luke, Mark, Mathew and John are said to be the disciples of Jesus but this is not universally accepted by all. Anyways, the issue of authorship of the Gospels is a deeper subject and is beyond my knowledge but the bottom line is that the identity and qualification of the authors of the Gospels is not revealed. The there are letters by St. Paul but these are not direct words of God. Similarly, the Koran originally was written by members in the audience Prophet Mohammed was speaking but as for their identity, it is not known.
So with God, the reciters and authors being anonymous, it is difficult to consider these books in par with books like Bhagavad Gita and or Srimad Bhagavatam. Approximately 60% of the world population read either the Bible and or Koran and we respect the book and the people who consider it sacred. But in my opinion and under stringent scrutiny, the Bible and Koran are books on ethics and human morality but cannot be taken as a book about the form, nature and pastimes of God!

Hare Krishna

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

homogenous vs heterogenous cosmology

In modern physical cosmology, the notion that the spatial distribution of matter in the universe on a large scale is fairly homogenous and isotropic. It means that the properties of the universe is the same for all observers in space regardless of where data is collected. This idea is called cosmological principle and forms the fundamental aphorism of modern science.

Homogeneity indicates that the same evidence is observed if we collect data from any part of the universe. Isotropy indicates that the same evidence is observed if we collect data from any direction in the universe implying the laws of physics are the same throughout the universe. Although cosmologists use observational data as verification for this theory still we only observe what we observe from earth and cannot verify non-earthly observations. So to generalize at the universal scale purely and primarily on earthly calculations is a bit presumptuous and even dogmatic.

Non-earthly observations are given in vedic literature about the structure and design of the universe. It does not match modern observations or calculations or theories. Beyond the earth, according to vedi ccosmology, are variety of environments (not just gaseous or solid states) with different types of flora, fauna and living beings. There are planes of existence, planets and star systems that have life all over it. There is also non-globular structures in our universe (more like flat planes). In our current understanding of cosmology, space equals spherical geometry (or close to spherical), however, we get information from vedic cosmology, that there are non-spherical environments. All this indicates that the universe is certainly not homogenous and isotropic. Modern cosmology provides a lifeless picture of the universe and vedic cosmology gives a universe full of variety of species and life forms.

I will end with a quote from a famous philosopher of science Karl Popper on his attitude towards modern cosmology;

I once was an enthusiastic admirer of (Friedmann’s) Big Bang. I am now a disgusted opponent. As to the “steady state” theory, it is insufficiently developed, and Ryle’s criticism insufficiently discussed. And the “cosmological principles” were, I fear, dogmas that should not have been proposed. - Karl Popper

Please visit www.vediccosmology.com

Hare Krishna