Tuesday, May 27, 2008
It is mentioned in the revealed scriptures that to gain entrance into the pastimes of Sri Sri Radha and Krishna in Sri Vrindavan Dham in Goloka is the highest goal of life and the most confidential of all knowledge.
It is through unalloyed bhakti only, is entrance granted. Unalloyed bhakti is the sole property of Lord Sri Krishna. In other words, only Lord Krishna grants unalloyed bhakti in the hearts of aspiring devotees. Pure devotees or representatives of the Lord are more munificent and magnanimous that they travel across the universe to plant this seed of unalloyed bhakti in the hearts of everyone and give everyone the opportunity of Krishna prem (unalloyed love of God).
So when something as great as Krishna prem (unalloyed love) is granted to a living entity, it is only (100%) by the mercy of the pure devotees or the Lord Himself.
Since bhakti is the sole property of Lord Krishna, it precludes all other qualifications from the aspirant. In other words, it is not that we can buy bhaki by studying the scriptures, or performing austerity or giving in charity or following the Vedic codes of religion….no, it is only possible if Krishna Himself grants it to us.
So if we have any realistic chance of getting bhakti then we have to seek the mercy of Guru and Krishna. The only way we can seek the mercy of Guru and Krishna is if we beg for mercy. The only way we will beg for mercy wholeheartedly is if we feel we are unqualified for if we think we are qualified then we will not beg for mercy wholeheartedly.
So the key to advance in Krishna Consciousness is to always feel unqualified and hence always have our hearts open eager to receive the mercy. By sincerely feeling unqualified for the highest benediction we attract the mercy of Guru and Krishna.
In this age of Kali, this rare mercy of love of God is being freely distributed by Lord Nityananda prabhu and Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. We can access this free mercy by sincerely feeling unqualified so we can open up our hearts eager to recieve this mercy. To feel unqualified, we need to sincerely pray to Krishna to remove the mountain of anarthas (impurities) such as lust, greed, anger, envy, pride and illusion from our hearts for we cannot do it on our own. H.H. Radhanath Swami mentioned in one of his lectures that removing our impurities is like an ant trying to move the Himalayan Mountains; it is very difficult because we are against the material energy (maya). So Maharaj said if we give up bad habits, take shelter of the Holy names, and constantly beg for Krishna’s mercy, then Lord Nityananda prabhu will deliver us to the Lotus feet of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu thus granting us entrance into the eternal pastimes of Sri Sri Radha and Krishna in Sri Vrindhavan Dham.
Sunday, May 25, 2008
My wife also made Pav Bhaji for Lord Narasimha and it came out very nice especially the bread was delicious. Below is the link to the recipe. It took about an hour to do the pav bhaji. In 1.5 hours, Lord Narasimha was offered a hearty meal.
note: instead of onion and garlic, please use asafoetida.
for the pav, the link - http://onehotstove.blogspot.com/2005/04/bombay-street-food-pav-bhaji.html
The bread recipe from Kurma prabhu - http://www.iskcon.net.au/kurma/2006/05/19
Friday, May 23, 2008
While glorification is Vaishnava etiquette, at the same time, one shouldn’t engage in superficial glorification just because it is etiquette. We should try to, in all sincerity, glorify our peers, seniors and juniors. So, our glorification should come from the heart and not merely from the mouth. By glorifying someone from our heart, we gain their love and trust and more importantly we please the person. Vaishnava etiquette is all about pleasing devotees thus at the end pleasing the Supreme Lord.
I want to glorify a special person I am long due of any sort of glorification. This person has put up with my shenanigans for sometime and for some reason still sticks to me. In all honesty, there are very few people who can put with my idiosyncratic behavior…one such person who tolerates me day in and out is my wife.
For many number of reasons I am in due of glorifying my wife. Actually, I don’t think I have ever praised her in the 12 years I have been with her. So I would seek this public forum to say a few words about her.
While I and my wife have many differences, in fact we are night and day. I don’t think there is one thing we can both agree upon. It can be anywhere from a small thing to a big thing…we never agree to the same thing. This, indeed, was difficult for me simply because this is the type of person I am…I want people to agree with me. Krishna, being the most merciful towards me, sends me a better half just to disagree with everything I say or think. So you can imagine, our household is always filled with excitement (to say the least). But I have no less than sincere gratitude for my wife for everything she has done.
There are many material favors and services she has done, while it is important, it is temporary and has no real value in the grand scheme of things. So I am not concentrating on that much, but above all, my wife has been instrumental in shaping my spiritual life. Apart from teaching me valuable lessons, she has guided me to my eternal relationship with my guru maharaj H.H.Radhanath Swami, from that opened up many wonderful avenues to association with my godbrothers. For that, I am eternally indebted to my wife- Thank you!
Glorifying doesn’t mean to flatter one’s ego, glorifying essentially is glorifying the Lord Himself because we glorify the devotee in connection with Krishna. In that regard, I am eternally indebted and grateful to my wife for connecting me to my guru and the Parampara and for teaching valuable spiritual lessons of tolerance and love. She has been an instrument of tolerance and patience towards me. She has sacrificed much of her comforts on my wish, and she is willing to tread the path I am willing to make towards Krishna. In spite of all her physical and mental limitations, she neverthless engages in duties just to please me. All this shows her faith in her husband and faith in her guru, thus pleasing the Lord.
I personally gain inspiration from the faith she has for her guru maharaj. While I confess I do not have such faith or attachment, it is inspiring to live with someone who has that faith...again thank you.
I hope one day, I do not commit offense against her and sincerely try to live a life of proper Vaishnava etiquette and encourage each other in our march back to God.
I sincerely thank this wonderful personality with a grateful heart.
Thank you for everything!
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
New York Style cheesecake
6 Tbs. Melted Butter
1 1/2 Cups Crushed Graham Crackers
2 Tb. Sugar
Mix together and place in a spring form pan. Using a flat sided, flat bottomed glass, press material into the corners of the pan; and smooth the bottom and sides. Bake 10 minutes. Set on wire rack to cool.
1 Cup Ricotta Cheese
2 pkgs. Cream Cheese
2 Cups Sour Cream
3/4 Cup Orange Blossom Honey
1 1/2 tsp. Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice
1 1/2 tsp. Frontier Herb Co’s Almond and Vanilla Extracts
1/4 Cup Ener-G Egg Replacer (dry)
3 Tbs. Swans Down Cake Flour or Pastry flour
Set dairy products out an hour ahead of time. They need to be at room temperature. Beat ricotta and Cream Cheese until smooth. Add Honey and Sour Cream. Mix thoroughly. Add the rest of the ingredients. Beat well.
Pour into the cooled Spring Form Pan. Bake 45 minutes to an hour until golden and set. Remove from the oven and set on wire rack to cool. Refrigerate 24 hours before removing form. Top with fresh berries and a melted jelly glaze.
8 oz. strawberries (cleaned and hulled)
1/3 cup granulated sugar,
1/2 cup water,
1 Tbs. lemon juice
1 Tbs. cornstarch
Combine the sugar, water, lemon juice and strawberries in a saucepan. Stir to dissolve the sugar into the liquid while bringing it up to a boil. Once the mixture begins to boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for about ten minutes. Remove from then heat and strain the liquid from the strawberries. Press on the solids to squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Set aside the strawberries and return the liquid to the pan. Bring the liquid back up to a simmer. Whisk 3 tablespoons of water into the cornstarch and then pour it into the simmering liquid. Increase heat and whisk until the glaze comes to boil. Continue to whisk while the glaze boils and thickens, about 5 minutes. Pour into a bowl and set aside to cool. Once the glaze has cooled down, place it in the refrigerator to chill.
Monday, May 19, 2008
This weekend was Narasimha Chaturdasi and was a special day for Vaishnavas around the world. It was this day (Sunday) that the Lord appeared as Half-man – Half-Lion incarnation to protect His beloved devotee Prahlad. We can learn so much from just this incarnation. Anyways, I thought as an offering to the Lord, I do some service. So I decided to go out on book distribution (on saturday). It has been some months since I went on book distribution knocking on doors.
The original plan was that my wife accompanies me and we both knock on doors and share the mercy of Srila Prabhupada. But due to some service to our deities, she stayed back and I went alone to knock on doors.
I live in a college town and since this is summer time, there were not that many people in their homes. However, I did manage to talk to a few and distribute the books. My last house was an Indian student (a married householder).
Initially, the person totally rejected the books and did not want to do anything with “religion” and another “belief” system. I sensed a deep sense of prejudice in his voice towards any religion. But I insisted, and soon I found out I was talking to another Richard Dawkins. He was arrogant, impudent and very proud of his scientific background and everything to do with science. If this is not enough, his wife (another scientist) joined the debate and it was two against one battle.
During the whole debate, he was insulting my beliefs, the concept of religion, and at one point openly derided Srila Prabhupada’s books. I still insisted. I did not take anything personal as my only goal was to somehow give him a book. Although, he insulted my intelligence and my abilities of discrimination, by God’s grace, I did not get angry at him.
We argued for more than an hour. I was standing at his doorstep for more than an hour and trying to convince him to take a book. This person barely allowed me to express my views and he kept banging in his theories very strongly. We touched so many points from definition of science, methods of scientific enquiry, theory of evolution, quantum physics, cellular functions, dinosaurs etc etc
I used all of Srila Prabhupada’s arguments (that I know) and he could not answer them…his constant reply was that science is “working on it” and we may find answers in 100 years. Although, he could not answer all the questions, he nevertheless was “pounding” me to the ground. My only goal was to give him the book but unfortunately after so much time I did not convince him.
I openly accepted defeat to pacify his ego and humbly requested to take the book for more insights into spiritual subject matter. He was too proud to take the book.
At one point, he challenged me saying “you convince me why the soul is eternal. If you convince me, I will take all your books”. I thought about the question and I replied “the soul is eternal just as why the salt is salty, sugar is sweet and fire has light and heat. Eternality is the property of the soul”. His response was sugar is sweet and the salt salty because of the atoms contained within the sugar and salt. I asked him why is it created like that?...of course, he thought that was not even a correct question?
Anyways…I finally decided to leave. At the end, he gave a victory speech basically undermining the process of religion and glorifying his “scientific” community and deriding all those who are “less informed” of true scientific knowledge (including myself). At the end, he wanted to throw me a bone and so he asked “ok…are you doing this (book distribution) for a sales account or for your resume account or for other purposes”…I thought may be I can give him the book if I showed I am interested in money. I said “I am doing this for my sales account”. So he asked me how much the books cost. I said anywhere from $1 to $5. He said the books are not worth that much money. I asked him (one last time), can you not even spare $1, he said no and finally I shook hands and left.
Over the two days, I was reflecting on this debate and pondering what I should learn from this conversation. I am happy that I learnt many things on how to answer more categorically and more objectively. I learnt that while presenting spiritual knowledge, we make many assumptions. But if I just made the conversation very clear and simple without too many details, then my message would have been easier to understand. I realize, looking back, I could have given different replies to the challenges he made.
At the end of the day, I am happy to have learnt something in the art of debate and argument and how it is very important to actually repeat the instructions of the Sampradaya and not our own mundane intelligence. The key I believe is to deliver this message as is and at the same time confidently and boldly (which I did not exhibit) and not worry too much about how the audience will receive it.
Our mission Srila Prabhupada says is to give the opportunity of Krishna Consciousness to as many people as possible and not be attached to success or failure, honor or dishonor, pleasure or pain. We surrender to our Guru, Parampara and the Lord and deliver the message as a postman without attaching ourselves to the results and without messing with the message. In other words, have faith in the words of Guru and not rely on our own mundane intelligence. Krishna sees our efforts and sincerity for at the end of the day, Krishna is the cause and the doer and not “I”. So the lessons i learnt are
- surrender to Guru parampara (I mean i have to have faith in the strength of the parampara and its message and not on my own mundane intelligence and not worry too much about what people think about me)
- Humility of heart as the servant of the servant
- compassion to all living entities and
- desire for no honor/prestige for oneself
These are the main things required for us to fulfill the order of guru and ultimately please Krishna. I pray to that Almighty Govinda to give me those attributes to engage in His service.
I also wish and pray that the householder and his wife understand the science of Krishna Consciousness and thank them for giving me an opportunity to serve my Guru maharaj, Srila Prabhupada and Krishna.
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
God or Krishna is inconceivable. Here is a taxi driver who speaks Bhagavad Gita philosophy in the streets of New York. It is refreshing and assuring that there are some good souls still coming and going. If we just learn to see the good in everyone, then we are actually seeing Krishna and are constantly in contact with Krishna. Ultimately everyone is children of God and that is the essence and hence our only purpose is to see the good in others and mean good to others no matter what…just as the taxi driver!
Our life, then, will become easy, happy and sublime.
Friday, May 9, 2008
I would like to elaborate on the above statement more. What does the above statement mean? It means for ever yone of us Krishna has a divine plan (of course we have our own selfish plans). I am not talking about that. I am talking about Krishna’s plan for us. What is that plan?
Per BG 5.29 Krishna says
"A person in full consciousness of Me, knowing Me to be the ultimate beneficiary of all sacrifices and austerities, the Supreme Lord of all planets and demigods, and the benefactor and well-wisher of all living entities, attains peace from the pangs of material miseries"
So if Krishna is our ultimate well wisher, then His plan for us will be the best thus overriding all our personal plans. For example, Krishna’s plan for Arjuna was to fight in the battlefield of Kurukshetra not for personal gain but to maintain dharma. This was Krishna’s plan – to re-establish dharma with Arjuna as an instrument. Similarly, Krishna has plans for every one of us.
If we sincerely follow Krishna’s plan (and not ours) then we fulfill the above statement “Krishna you are enjoyer and I am meant for your enjoyment”.
Let me give a practical example. For example, I work fulltime, I am a husband to my wife and I am an aspiring devotee of Krishna. So I am a career person, husband and devotee all at the same time. Krishna’s plan for me would mean I perform all these roles in a way that pleases Him. Krishna is the ultimate controller and maintainer. This material and spiritual energies are controlled by Him. So whatever I am today materially and spiritually is not without the sanction of the Lord.
So when I work at my office, I work with the thought that Krishna is the ultimate doer of all activities. The natural thing, then, would be to dedicate our results to Him (as He is the ultimate doer). By doing this, we are not implicated by the material actions. This is not just sentiment that Krishna is the ultimate doer. It is an objective fact. Krishna says in the Gita (BG ch 18.14) that the body, senses, type of endeavor, soul and ultimately the supersoul is the cause of any single action. The soul which is the real self is just one part of the action while everything else is done by Krishna through the Supersoul and His material modes of nature. We have absolutely no abilities more than just make choices. How then can we accomplish complex material tasks and take all the credit for ourselves and just be puffed up with ego. So objectively, the body, senses and endeavors cannot function without the sanction of the Supersoul, so the rightful thing is to dedicate the results to the rightful owner (that is Krishna).
Then as a husband, my role would be to serve my wife (similarly wife has to serve husband). H.H.Radhanath swami in one of his lectures mentioned that our wife or husband or children are actually property of God and hence we should not use them for our own selfish purposes, rather we should engage Krishna’s property for Krishna, isn’t it not? If you have a car and you hire a chauffer, then if the chauffer uses the car for his personal enjoyment instead of using it for you, he become a thief.
Similarly, serving my wife means I engage my wife to make sure she goes back home back to Godhead. It should not be for enjoying my wife. Ok…wife you do this for me, then I will do this for you, you make me happy by doing such and such work etc etc…no not like this. Similarly, children, we are so proud… oh my child is like this, like that…son you do this, daughter you do this…like this we have so many expectations and plans for our children. Ultimately, we treat wife and child for satisfying our own ego…if not why we encourage them to be material when we know material is only suffering. Therefore, from the very beginning of our marriage, beginning of our child’s birth, our only purpose it to serve them…service means to make them a servant of Krishna…why because they are actually the property of Krishna and the right thing to do is to give one’s property back to the rightful owner, if not we are considered thieves (enjoying God’s property for our own selfish needs).
So when we sincerely strive on this platform as a career person, student, husband/wife to perform God’s will at every moment, then, there is no question of our own “ego”, then we will fulfill the statement Maharaj - “And what does it mean to surrender our ego to Krishna? It means, "Krishna. You are enjoyer. I am meant for your enjoyment"
This is the practical way to be instruments of Krishna’s enjoyment by simply following the plan of Krishna just as Arjuna in Kurukshetra.
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
- H.H.Radhanath Swami
Monday, May 5, 2008
The Human mind can give us happiness or distress. The images and experiences that register in our minds decide our emotions, likes and dislikes. At the time of death, it can liberate us from suffering or put us into more suffering. Therefore, what we do, see, talk, listen and engage in daily activities all have a direct bearing on the mind. Hence it is our topmost priority to keep the mind always clean from frivolous matter.
Although the mind (subtle body) is material, according to Vedic science, it still determines where the soul (the self) goes in its next life. Therefore, the mind is the vehicle for the soul.
Krishna clearly stresses the great importance of the function of mind in relation to the soul (self). Below are Krishna's words from the Bhagavad Gita that were spoken to Arjuna some 5000 years ago.
The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: O Pārtha, when a man gives up all varieties of desire for sense gratification, which arise from mental concoction, and when his mind, thus purified, finds satisfaction in the self alone, then he is said to be in pure transcendental consciousness. – BG 2.55
Thus knowing oneself to be transcendental to the material senses, mind and intelligence, O mighty-armed Arjuna, one should steady the mind by deliberate spiritual intelligence [Kṛṣṇa consciousness] and thus — by spiritual strength — conquer this insatiable enemy known as lust. – BG 3.43
One must deliver himself with the help of his mind, and not degrade himself. The mind is the friend of the conditioned soul, and his enemy as well. – BG 6.5
For him who has conquered the mind, the mind is the best of friends; but for one who has failed to do so, his mind will remain the greatest enemy – BG 6.6
From wherever the mind wanders due to its flickering and unsteady nature, one must certainly withdraw it and bring it back under the control of the self. - BG 6.26
For one whose mind is unbridled, self-realization is difficult work. But he whose mind is controlled and who strives by appropriate means is assured of success. That is My opinion. – BG 6.36
And of all yogīs, the one with great faith who always abides in Me, thinks of Me within himself, and renders transcendental loving service to Me — he is the most intimately united with Me in yoga and is the highest of all. That is My opinion. – BG 6.47
And whoever, at the end of his life, quits his body, remembering Me alone, at once attains My nature. Of this there is no doubt. – BG 8.5
Whatever state of being one remembers when he quits his body, O son of Kuntī, that state he will attain without fail. – BG 8.6
Therefore, Arjuna, you should always think of Me in the form of Kṛṣṇa and at the same time carry out your prescribed duty of fighting. With your activities dedicated to Me and your mind and intelligence fixed on Me, you will attain Me without doubt. – BG 8.7
He who meditates on Me as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, his mind constantly engaged in remembering Me, undeviated from the path, he, O Pārtha, is sure to reach Me. – BG 8.8
One who, at the time of death, fixes his life air between the eyebrows and, by the strength of yoga, with an undeviating mind, engages himself in remembering the Supreme Lord in full devotion, will certainly attain to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. – BG 8.10
For one who always remembers Me without deviation, I am easy to obtain, O son of Pṛthā, because of his constant engagement in devotional service. BG 8.14
One who sees the Supersoul equally present everywhere, in every living being, does not degrade himself by his mind. Thus he approaches the transcendental destination. - BG 13.29
Always think of Me, become My devotee, worship Me and offer your homage unto Me. Thus you will come to Me without fail. I promise you this because you are My very dear friend. – BG 18.65
Saturday, May 3, 2008
Suddenly…the dream ended and I woke up. I was excited when I woke up that I witnessed a powerful preacher in my dream. This person, among all agitation around, was standing his ground and preached the glories of Mahaprabhu.
Now…one may ask what is so special about this that it is worth taking bytes in cyberspace. Actually, the most astonishing part of the dream for me personally is the identity of the main speaker on stage and the secondary speaker standing next to him.
The main speaker who was preaching boldly solid as a rock was none other than my elder brother and the nervous second speaker was me.
I was very impressed with the speech my elder brother was giving in the dream. Actually, my elder brother, in all reality has natural qualities to be a Vaishnava. He was always humble and tolerant in the times I was with him. H.H. Radhanath Swami in one of his lecture mentioned that Vaishnava etiquette brings beauty to a Vaishnava. In other words, Vaishnavism is not an external show of chanting or temple worship or getting initiated or doing service. It is our internal qualities of humility, tolerance, compassion and love to all living entities and Krishna. My elder brother was naturally equipped with such qualities of humility and tolerance.
Although he is not initiated currently, I personally think he is more than qualified to get initiated (assuming he follows the external rules of chanting and regulative principles). When a person is naturally equipped with higher nature, Srila Prabhupada once said that it is because of higher birth. My elder brother surely fits that bill.
This dream happened early in the morning at brahmamuhurta time and I am very happy to have insignificantly and nervously stood next to this bold preacher. I sincerely pray and hope one day he does preach like a lion and i stand next to him as his order carrier!
All glories to him!
Thursday, May 1, 2008
Industrial Revolution (IR) was started in the late 18th century and early 19th century. Science and technology started to take precedence over every aspect of life since then. Human beings relied more on automation and mechanization in order to produce in mass and in a quick way. Because of this, today we have problems beyond our imagination. When we amass wealth and exploit resources, we have to pay one of these days. Industrial revolution made this exploitation very easy and “scientifically” justifiable. Before industrial revolution, it was more of a local grown agriculture/small urban lifestyle. People took care of their needs locally and depended on a higher power for sustenance. Since we depend on science to solve all problems, man has become atheistic and exploitative. Industrial revolution paved the way for this boom of atheism garbed in the name of science and technology. Below are some issues I could think of that we are facing due to uncontrolled capitalist folks who are just bent on one thing – make money. Thanks to IR, these people are fulfilling their dreams of extreme exploitation of man and nature.
Water and air Pollution
Depletion of fossil fuels
Extinction of animals
Mass slaughter houses
Cramped housing quarters
Rampant spread of water borne and air borne diseases due to cramped lifestyle
Excessive use of chemicals
Pornography and internet pornography
Wide spread of alcoholism
Psychological and physical stress