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

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Krishna is the ONE!

Think about it…my mother, father, wife and friends know me in varying levels. To the degree, a person knows me, to that degree I am closely related to that person. This is true for most people. The more we know some one, the more we are closely related to that someone. It can be my mother, or father or wife or my school friend. We are attached to our relationships simply because we are intimately connected with some one and share their joys and pains.

Why then…am I not, of all relationships, attracted to that Supreme Lord Krishna? Of all the relationships, people and friends, Krishna is the one who knows me more than I know myself. Krishna is the one who is with me in thick and thin. Krishna is the one who accompanies me when everyone abandones me (when I move from body to body). Krishna is the one who fulfills all my desires knowing very well all my likes and dislikes. Krishna is the one who intimately knows all my thoughts and shares all my experiences. Krishna is the one who knows me in and out more than my mother, father, wife and friends. Yet, why am I not attracted to that Supreme Lord Krishna? Why am I attracted to my mother, father, wife and friends more than I am attracted to Krishna? I see Krishna, at the best, as a distant relative (that’s it !!!). When will I see Him as the closest of all relationships, and as the one who eternally wishes the best for me?

I am, indeed, in illusion!

Hare Krishna

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

All glories to Sriman Sadaputa Das Adhikari

It is weird that although I have not even seen Sadaputa prabhu, I can’t help but feel a sense of attraction to him. I have listened to his lectures and read his books and articles. Although, I confess, I can barely understand anything he wrote, nevertheless, his words and work is beyond genius.

I was proud to be in a movement that he was in. It kind of gave me justification to my material mind that if a great scientist such as Sadaputa prabhu can be Krishna conscious defying all modern theories, then perhaps we are indeed in the right movement. I know it is weird but there is a side in me that still require modern scientific explanation for phenomenon. Although Srila Prabhupada’s words are complete and divine, Sadaputa prabhu gave it the contemporary edge…meaning packaging Srila Prabhupada’s teachings in scientific language.

We will miss Sadaputa prabhu’s knowledge on science and religion. I know I will. My deepest condolences to his bereaving family.

Hare Krishna

Out of Body Experience Explored

A fellow at New York City's Weill Cornell Medical Center, Dr. Sam Parnia is one of the world's leading experts on the scientific study of death. Last week Parnia and his colleagues at the Human Consciousness Project announced their first major undertaking: a 3-year exploration of the biology behind "out-of-body" experiences. The study, known as AWARE (AWAreness during REsuscitation), involves the collaboration of 25 major medical centers through Europe, Canada and the U.S. and will examine some 1,500 survivors of cardiac arrest. TIME spoke with Parnia about the project's origins, its skeptics and the difference between the mind and the brain.

What sort of methods will this project use to try and verify people's claims of "near-death" experience?

When your heart stops beating, there is no blood getting to your brain. And so what happens is that within about 10 sec., brain activity ceases - as you would imagine. Yet paradoxically, 10% or 20% of people who are then brought back to life from that period, which may be a few minutes or over an hour, will report having consciousness. So the key thing here is, Are these real, or is it some sort of illusion? So the only way to tell is to have pictures only visible from the ceiling and nowhere else, because they claim they can see everything from the ceiling. So if we then get a series of 200 or 300 people who all were clinically dead, and yet they're able to come back and tell us what we were doing and were able see those pictures, that confirms consciousness really was continuing even though the brain wasn't functioning.

How does this project relate to society's perception of death?

People commonly perceive death as being a moment - you're either dead or you're alive. And that's a social definition we have. But the clinical definition we use is when the heart stops beating, the lungs stop working, and as a consequence the brain itself stops working. When doctors shine a light into someone's pupil, it's to demonstrate that there is no reflex present. The eye reflex is mediated by the brain stem, and that's the area that keeps us alive; if that doesn't work, then that means that the brain itself isn't working. At that point, I'll call a nurse into the room so I can certify that this patient is dead. Fifty years ago, people couldn't survive after that.

How is technology challenging the perception that death is a moment?

Nowadays, we have technology that's improved so that we can bring people back to life. In fact, there are drugs being developed right now - who knows if they'll ever make it to the market - that may actually slow down the process of brain-cell injury and death. Imagine you fast-forward to 10 years down the line; and you've given a patient, whose heart has just stopped, this amazing drug; and actually what it does is, it slows everything down so that the things that would've happened over an hour, now happen over two days. As medicine progresses, we will end up with lots and lots of ethical questions.

But what is happening to the individual at that time? What's really going on? Because there is a lack of blood flow, the cells go into a kind of a frenzy to keep themselves alive. And within about 5 min. or so they start to damage or change. After an hour or so the damage is so great that even if we restart the heart again and pump blood, the person can no longer be viable, because the cells have just been changed too much. And then the cells continue to change so that within a couple of days the body actually decomposes. So it's not a moment; it's a process that actually begins when the heart stops and culminates in the complete loss of the body, the decompositions of all the cells. However, ultimately what matters is, What's going on to a person's mind? What happens to the human mind and consciousness during death? Does that cease immediately as soon as the heart stops? Does it cease activity within the first 2 sec., the first 2 min.? Because we know that cells are continuously changing at that time. Does it stop after 10 min., after half an hour, after an hour? And at this point we don't know.

What was your first interview like with someone who had reported an out-of-body experience?

Eye-opening and very humbling. Because what you see is that, first of all, they are completely genuine people who are not looking for any kind of fame or attention. In many cases they haven't even told anybody else about it because they're afraid of what people will think of them. I have about 500 or so cases of people that I've interviewed since I first started out more than 10 years ago. It's the consistency of the experiences, the reality of what they were describing. I managed to speak to doctors and nurses who had been present who said these patients had told them exactly what had happened, and they couldn't explain it. I actually documented a few of those in my book What Happens When We Die because I wanted people to get both angles - not just the patients' side but also the doctors' side - and see how it feels for the doctors to have a patient come back and tell them what was going on. There was a cardiologist that I spoke with who said he hasn't told anyone else about it because he has no explanation for how this patient could have been able to describe in detail what he had said and done. He was so freaked out by it that he just decided not to think about it anymore.

Why do you think there is such resistance to studies like yours?

Because we're pushing through the boundaries of science, working against assumptions and perceptions that have been fixed. A lot of people hold this idea that, well, when you die, you die; that's it. Death is a moment - you know you're either dead or alive. All these things are not scientifically valid, but they're social perceptions. If you look back at the end of the 19th century, physicists at that time had been working with Newtonian laws of motion, and they really felt they had all the answers to everything that was out there in the universe. When we look at the world around us, Newtonian physics is perfectly sufficient. It explains most things that we deal with. But then it was discovered that actually when you look at motion at really small levels - beyond the level of the atoms - Newton's laws no longer apply. A new physics was needed, hence, we eventually ended up with quantum physics. It caused a lot of controversy - even Einstein himself didn't believe in it.

Now, if you look at the mind, consciousness, and the brain, the assumption that the mind and brain are the same thing is fine for most circumstances, because in 99% of circumstances we can't separate the mind and brain; they work at the exactly the same time. But then there are certain extreme examples, like when the brain shuts down, that we see that this assumption may no longer seem to hold true. So a new science is needed in the same way that we had to have a new quantum physics. The CERN particle accelerator may take us back to our roots. It may take us back to the first moments after the Big Bang, the very beginning. With our study, for the first time, we have the technology and the means to be able to investigate this. To see what happens at the end for us. Does something continue?

If these people simply accept a higher authority of the Bhagavad Gita and Srimad Bhagavatam, how much money, time and energy can be saved? This is just another expedition of the scientist's giant egos so they can claim to the academic world, intellectual world and the common people that they have "discovered" a higher reality when this has already been written and documented ages before. Such foolish people. People are trained to view only modern science as knowledge and everything else as mythology or hearsay...only to find out that modern science is accepting the conclusions of the ancient texts of the Gita and Bhagavatam.

Hare Krishna

Predictions of Kali Yuga

As Pradyumna continued to read on, Srila Prabhupada offered more observations, each time just to the point. From the predictions it seemed that everything in Kali-yuga would become simply a question of show, with no real substance. Prabhupada's examples confirmed this, the liberal bite of sarcasm with which he expressed them making everyone laugh. "Vipratve sutram eva hi. And there is a brahmana. 'What is the proof that he is a brahmana?' 'He has got a sacred thread,' that's all. Or thread. It may not be sacred, purchased on the market. So at least we try to give a sacred thread by ceremony. But anyone can purchase a thread from the market, two paisa worth or one cent worth, and become a brahmana. 'You are a brahmana?' 'Yes, you see my sacred thread?'" He chuckled at the rascaldom. "Finished. 'What you are doing?' 'Never mind.'" Then he added a serious note. "Don't be such brahmanas, at least in our camp. You must follow the rules and regulations. Don't show that I am now doubly initiated, sacred thread. Don't cheat in that way."

Pradyumna read on. "Panditye capalam vacah."

"Pandita, if you can speak very vehemently, any subject matter, people may or may not understand, and they will certify you: 'Oh, this man is very learned.' What you have learned from him? 'Oh, I could not understand, but he's spoke very nicely.' He spoke very nicely. What is that nicely? That capala." Prabhupada threw out a rapid string of gibberish -- "Habadvasyenamdoaguwaddogbignikulaigondulaivaidilaktismai!" Then he laughed along with the devotees. "You go on speaking like that, and people will appreciate, 'Oh, he's a big speaker!'"

On the next item he described the plight of the poor. "When the poor man comes, you'll not give place. If he wants to stay, you'll refuse. No. Because he's poor, he's immediately accepted as dishonest. He may be honest or dishonest, but poverty is a sign for accepting a man as dishonest. Then?"

"Tirtham. Just like there is Vrndavana and here is New Vrindaban. But if you spend ten thousand dollars and go to Vrndavana, then it is pilgrimage. And here is Vrndavanacandra, so that is not very important. Dure vary-ayanam. You have to go far, far away, then it will be pilgrimage. In India, there is Ganges in Calcutta. But they go to Hardwar. Then it is pilgrimage. The same Ganges, coming from Hardwar. Then?"

Pradyumna read out the Sanskrit. "Lavanyam kesa-dharanam."

At this, Prabhupada gave a hearty laugh. "Hmm. Lavanyam, now you know very well in the Western country. Beauty increases by having long hair. Now see how it is current. Who expected that this foretelling is there in the Bhagavatam? To increase beauty, have long hair. Is it not? Just see. How five thousand years this thing was foretold. That is the proof." He grinned at us and declared, "There was no hippie movement then. But Vyasadeva foretold that in the Kali-yuga if one keeps long hair he will think himself as very beautiful. There are so many things."

Then he gave a round-up of the future of this age. "Ultimately, with the advancement of Kali-yuga you'll have no food. Food means there will be no food grains, there will be no milk, no sugar, like that. No fruits. If you get fruits, there will be no pulp, it is simply seeds. These things are there. You get a mango, but a mango means simply the big seed, that's all. So how can you check it? If nature's way, things are going to happen like that, what the scientists will do? If there is no rice, no wheat, will the scientists ...? They can say replace with a pill, but they cannot produce wheat or rice or dal or milk, sugar. That is not possible."

Dhrstadyumna Maharaja interjected that the scientists have fashioned a way for the spacemen to drink their own urine and eat their own stool.

"Yes, that is the most scientific improvement," Srila Prabhupada announced cuttingly. "Yes. That they can do. By scientific improvement, they can drink their own urine -- very tasty!"

One of the devotees wanted to know how the general mass of people could take to Krsna consciousness in the face of all these disqualifications.

Maintaining his good humor Srila Prabhupada replied that Krsna consciousness is the only remedy. "In the Kali-yuga, it is an ocean of faults. How ...? Suppose all over your body there are boils. So where you will apply ointment? You just dip down!"

It was a wonderful evening's meeting. Prabhupada's congenial mood and warmth offered many of the devotees a chance to see him in a much more intimate way than they are used to. Most disciples only see him in the very formal setting of the Srimad-Bhagavatam class, and a few are fortunate to accompany him on his walks. But circumstances like this, with such free and happy exchanges, draw on the hearts and minds of us all, increasing our love and affection for him unlimitedly.

- From the "A Transcendental Diary Vol 3" by HG Hari Sauri dasa

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Same Vyasa Muni Reborn

A strange feature of the modern world is that in spite of vast advances in science and technology and the establishment of a good number of institutions for human welfare, mankind has not found true peace and happiness. Knowledge of material sciences and arts has increased tremendously in recent times, and millions of volumes on each fill the libraries the world over. People and leaders in every country are generally well versed in these arts and sciences, but despite their efforts human society everywhere continues to be in turmoil and distress. The reason is not far to seek. It is that they have not learned the science of God, the most fundamental of every other art and science, and fail to apply it to the facts of life. The need of the hour is, therefore, to do it if mankind is not only to survive but flower into a glorious existence.

To teach this science of God to people everywhere and to aid them in their progress and development towards the real goal of life, Srimad-Bhagavatam is most eminently fitted. In fact, this great ancient work of Vyasa will fill this need of the modern times, for it is a cultural presentation for the respiritualization of the entire human society. His Divine Grace, Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the Founder-Acarya of the ISKCON movement, has taken it upon himself, in addition to his ceaseless travels and other multifarious activities in the service of the Lord, the stupendous task of translating this Sanskrit work into English in about sixty volumes for the welfare and happiness of mankind. It is really astonishing how he is able to do this single-handed, and when one comes to think of this, apart from his other great literary works, one is tempted to wonder if he is not the same Vyasa Muni reborn today to adapt his own old work into a universal language of this age for the spiritual upliftment of the modern man.

So far eighteen volumes of this most beautiful literature on God have been brought out by ISKCON and the rest are under preparation. Needless to say, that in keeping with the excellence of their other publications, the publishers have seen to it that the printing, get-up, and pictures in these volumes are also of the highest quality, as though to serve as an ornament to the divine contents of the books. This is a rare opportunity to people and leaders of every country, race and community in the world to know and understand the glorious science of God and work for their perfection. I would say that this encyclopedia of spiritual knowledge is more important and fundamental than the encyclopedia of any other branch of knowledge and should, therefore, find a rightful place not only in the public and private libraries, big and small, of educational and other institutions, as also of every household, but above all in the hearts and minds of every man and woman.

- Signed by Sri R. Subramaniam, the Deputy Director of Research in the Lok Sabha Secretariat of India's National Parliament

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Higher education and career in Krishna consciousness

H.H.Romapada Swami Maharaja has given answers to some commonly asked questions regarding Krishna Consciousness, something I think is very important to know. Please read his response to the questions. Hare Krishna

. Is it wrong to pursue higher education and career in Krishna consciousness?

Q. In our pursuance of Vedic society in Krishna Consciousness, would it mean that I should stop working and manage only household activities or activities related to the temple, after marriage?

Q. In my limited interaction with the devotees, I have found devotees pursuing a job for sustenance and enjoying only things related to Krishna Consciousness. And couple of them have given up their further education in pursuance of Krishna Consciousness.

Q. When we are living in the material world, why not perform the best things possible in the material world too. It is something like exercising daily which keeps your body fit, and unless you are in decent health you cannot perform your devotional activities. When we have to carry out devotional activities in the material world, we need money too. So what is wrong in pursuing further education or getting a better job and performing them for the service of Krishna when you are capable of doing it... or providing your family better conditions to prosper both in the material and spiritual world?

Answers: The Vedic way of life is all-encompassing -- it takes into account all necessary ingredients for perfectly conducting our daily affairs in this world too, whether within the family, society or occupational field, considering one's overall physical, emotional and intellectual well-being as well. If you deeply understand the varnashrama system, you will come to appreciate how scientific and brilliant it is, much superior to our modern social setup, which begins to look ill-defined and lop-sided in comparison! The entire society is so organized in a varnashrama such that each member is engaged perfectly, just according to their natural propensities and in a manner that will progressively help them mature spiritually.

The Vedas prescribe two different types of occupation -- pravritti marga and nivritti marga. Pravritti marga is the path of gradual material elevation, where even though there is the propensity for material enjoyment and economic development, it is regulated under Vedic injunctions. Thus, the kind of occupation one does, the activities of grhastha asrama, how one earns and spends his money etc are all performed within the purview of religious principles, guided by scriptures and brahmanas. This arrangement helps one become peaceful and satisfied in material life, and further one becomes gradually detached from the sense of "me and mine" and progressively develops an attitude of service and devotion to God. Whereas, pursuing these goals without such guidelines makes even material life very complex and unpredictable, and only makes one more attached and entangled in the complicated cycle of karmic reactions.

On the other hand, when someone is already sufficiently renounced, and doesn't feel the need for such social engagements and economic gains, they are encouraged to follow the 'nivritti marga' or the path of gradually reducing the degree of one's involvement and entanglement with matter, in favor of gradually increasing one's full engagement in direct service to God and for the spiritual benefit of the entire society. Such devotees are not losing out on the pleasures of this world; rather, they have strong enough faith and realization that all needs are fully satisfied simply by watering the root. Note that one who is not yet ready for such a life is never artificially induced to do so. Krishna discouraged Arjuna's proposition to withdraw from his duty and retire to the forest, saying that such premature renunciation will only make him a mithyacara (pretender) [cf. BG 3.6]. However, those who are capable of dedicating themselves in that way are rendering a great service and should be ecouraged by all means. Ei
ther of these paths, pravritti or nivritti, is approved by the Vedas, if it is taken up properly.

Having said that, it should also be stated that although pursuing a higher degree or a career in today's society is much respected, it is not necessarily the 'best thing' one can do, even in the material world, and it may not always be conducive to the service of Krishna -- while certainly in other circumstances, and with proper guidance and consciousness, it can be very conducive. One must tread with great caution in this area, and seek close guidance from realized devotees to do this properly. In our Krishna consciousness movement, we do not have 'policy' either way: to prohibit or to promote to pursuance of a higher material education or career path; however, depending upon the qualities of a particular individual, it may be a much less optimal and fruitful option, compared to a thoughtfully pursued course of life that is based more closely on Vedic, Krishna conscious principles.

Although there is nothing wrong with an education or occupation that supports one's Krishna conscious practices, (taking the example of none less than Arjuna himself), where are such pure occupational engagements to be found in today's world? Because the purpose and goals of the larger society are completely materialistic and theistic in name only at best, most career and educational options and the environment in which one must pursue them are all highly polluted, and diametrically opposite to the principles of a spiritual way of life. Even the most innocent-sounding jobs for the highly educated are actually often very unwholesome, and not very conducive for a life in the mode of goodness, as well as being full of competition, exploitation and stress. Many of these occupations are not even geared towards the actual welfare of society but are meant to cater only to artificial comforts of life.

Many people even in the western world are beginning to recognize the serious imbalances and frustration caused by the present materialistic socio-economic setup and the stereotyped occupational roles for earning one's livelihood, and are looking for alternatives. The daivi varnashrama system which Srila Prabhupada has painstakingly outlined and brought to us can offer just that perfect alternative. Srila Prabhupada very much wanted that young and intelligent people should come forward to deeply understand and adopt these wonderful principles. If they set ideal examples, the common people who are all suffering due to being misled by irresponsible leaders will appreciate the difference and begin to follow. (yad-yad-acarati sresthas tad tad evetaro janah, BG 3.21)

In a Vedic society, the services of a teacher or a priest, and similarly those of a mother or a chaste wife, are very highly valued ---- because these individuals play a vital role in molding the character of the society. The brahmanas are the guiding intelligence of the social body, and on the women rested the heavy responsibility of preserving the culture and sanctity of the society. They were not merely menial or 'secondary' roles taken on by those who are incapable of anything better, as it happens to be in present day society. In contrast, fields such as engineering, medicine and economics which are highly valued in the modern culture were given only a third-grade importance in Vedic society. Seen in this light, the devotees who have seemingly given up higher education or career in pursuance of Krishna consciousness are actually pursuing a much superior form of education / vocation. Devotees who are sincerely dedicating themselves to raising God-conscious children, or for the cause of spiritual education
of others, are contributing *much* more meaningfully to their own welfare as well as that of their families and society, than they could have by merely pursuing a means of livelihood or career with no higher purpose!

The intention of this discussion is not to convince or pursuade you in any way or to suggest what any individual devotee should or should not do, but simply to minimally help appreciate the merit of the decision of those who have fully adopted the Vedic mode of life, over and above the modern paradigm. There are no hard and fast rules in molding one's life towards either model, but devotees are encouraged, without being coerced, to adopt these principles according to the degree of faith, conviction and realization that they personally have, their personal situations and in consultation with experienced devotees in matters of how to effectively apply this in individual situations.

To the degree that we can adopt these time-tested and compassionate teachings of our previous acharyas and sages, to that degree we will benefit and also serve as beacons of real-world examples, thereby nurturing the faith of others in the effulgent teachings as being practical in today's active world.

Contact information for the purpose of "Inquiries Into the Absolute":
Email: iskcondcr@gmail.com
Postal Address: 10310 Oaklyn Drive, Potomac, MD 20854-3932

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Born again

This is a story of a Jew who met God in his near death experience. I find the story very compelling as it stresses on spiritual values versus religious. What’s more interesting is it perfectly highlights Bhagavat philosophy. In other words, I find the Bhagavad Gita spoken again to this person but just not with details. The person reflects Biblical versus in his narration, however, there are striking similarities. It also goes to show how the current Christian church is really missing the point. Anyways, please read his story in the given link


Hare Krishna

Monday, September 15, 2008

Plato's puzzle solved

Plato (429 – 347 B.C.E) is considered one of the greatest minds and thinkers of western schools of philosophy. The Stanford encyclopedia of Philosophy (SEP) quotes “the questions he raises are so profound and the strategies he uses for tackling them so richly suggestive and provocative that educated readers of nearly every period have in some way been influenced by him, and in practically every age there have been philosophers who count themselves Platonists in some important respects”. The school also goes on to say “Few other authors in the history of philosophy approximate him in depth and range: perhaps only Aristotle (who studied with him), Aquinas, and Kant would be generally agreed to be of the same rank”. None can dispute his profundity of knowledge and his deliberate provocation of logic, thought and rhetoric. Indeed, he is considered renowned among the philosophical circles. Actually, Plato’s fame is so renowned that even today he is a common household term. But from the standpoint of Vedic rishis and sages, in comparison, Plato’s knowledge at best can be considered abstract and rudimentary. Vedic thought is said to have originated more than 5000 years ago way before Plato even was born. Nothing Plato has said was not analyzed by the sages and self-realized souls of the Vedic paradigm. In other words, for the western world the concept of the soul, supersoul, mundane reality and spiritual reality is a mysterious subject matter, for Vedic followers, this is a way of life. Plato, however for his credit, philosophized (or should we say speculated) a higher nature, the soul, and its relationship with this world. This was radical and revolutionary during his day.

Plato’s central doctrines were mainly focused on the current erroneous reality juxtaposed with a higher reality of that which is eternal, changeless, real and perfect. He hypothesizes that in one sense “paradigmatic for the structure and character of our world” as Srila Prabhupada says that this material world is a perverted reflection of the spiritual world. Plato states that there are forms or ideas populating a perfect reality as opposed to a reality that we currently perceive as defective and filled with error. The Vedic philosophy clearly enunciates the source of this flaw or error. It states that man is fundamentally made up of four defects; imperfect senses; to make mistakes; to be in illusion; and tendency to cheat. These four fundamental “errors” mount up to Plato’s error of this world. However, from the Upanishads, we can conclude that the world in itself is perfect and complete.

oḿ pūrṇam adaḥ pūrṇam idaḿ
pūrṇāt pūrṇam udacyate
pūrṇasya pūrṇam ādāya
pūrṇam evāvaśiṣyate – Isopanishad invocation prayer

The Personality of Godhead is perfect and complete, and because He is completely perfect, all emanations from Him, such as this phenomenal world, are perfectly equipped as complete wholes. Whatever is produced of the Complete Whole is also complete in itself. Because He is the Complete Whole, even though so many complete units emanate from Him, He remains the complete balance.

Plato, in this particular regard ignores the concept or at the least not clear (abstract) on the aspect of creationism. While the world is populated with apparent defective men, but the world in itself is perfect. Plato fails to clearly distinguish between the erroneous people and the perfect world.

Plato, however, philosophizes the higher realm is filled with perfect entities. They are abundantly filled with all the opulent qualities of goodness, beauty, eternal, perfect, bigness, likeness, unity, being etc. We cannot but help ourselves to equate this description of higher reality to the Vedic conception of Vaikunta (or spiritual sky). While Plato may have speculated a higher truth, it is anything but speculation from the Vedic paradigm. Brahma-samhita (5.29) states that the abode of Krishna is filled with wish fulfilling trees, gems etc. Everything is self-effulgent where there is no need of sun, moon or electricity. Plato’s description of perfect and full reality closely coincides with Lord Brahma’s prayer to the Supreme Lord.

The most fundamental distinction in Plato's philosophy is between the many observable objects that appear beautiful and the one object that is what beauty really is, from which those many beautiful things receive their names and their corresponding characteristics” (SEP). Here in, Plato speculates “observable objects” as “beauty particles” receiving beauty from the “beautiful whole”. Lord Sri Krishna is more beautiful and charming than millions of cupids (Kandarpa koti kamaniya visesa sobham). Perhaps Plato’s “beautiful whole” is none other than Krishna and His “beauty particles” are the infinitesimal jivatmas who are receiving Krishna’s beauty. Krishna describes this reality in BG 15.7 “The living entities in this conditioned world are My eternal fragmental parts. Due to conditioned life, they are struggling very hard with the six senses, which include the mind”. As individual living entities we are qualitatively one with God but differing quantitatively. This is the conclusion of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Plato, although abstract, hints at this qualitative oneness by comparing the beautifulness of the part and whole. He described beautiful as good, just, unified, equal, big eternal. According to Vedic paradigm, Plato’s “beautiful qualities” can be equated to Vedic “sat chit Ananda quality of eternality, knowledge and bliss”. Both describe the opulence of the objects of this world receiving its beauty from an Absolute higher object.

Plato, in the beginning, qualifies this world as defective and filled with error. Later, however, he distinguishes the many observable objects (indicating our reality) that appear beautiful and the one object that beauty receives its name and characteristics. There seems to be an apparent contradiction? How can a beautiful observable object (good, just, equal,etc) be filled with error. Perhaps, Plato was hinting at a different reality simulataneously co-existing in our observable world. Plato was indeed, making a distinction between the existence of the soul and matter. From Plato’s various works, the embodied soul is living a life of punishment or reward from its previous existence (final pages of his work Republic). Clearly Plato describes the concept of karma and reincarnation which is the fundamental thesis in the Vedic paradigm. Krishna talks about the soul and reincarnation in chapter two of the Bhagavad Gita. Plato also speculates that the soul does not depend on the existence of the body for its functioning, and can in fact grasp the nature of the forms far more easily when it is not encumbered by its attachment to anything corporeal (SEP). Here in Plato may have indicated the goal of human life – to break our cycle of birth and death. If the soul can function independently without the aid of matter, then matter can be seen only as a burden to the free soul. This, from the Vedic perspective, is considered as the goal of human life (liberation from the cycle of birth and death to break our attachment to matter/body).

Plato in many of his writings considers enlightened human beings as those who can recognize which things are good (from the many) and why they are good as he (Plato) stresses the need to investigate the form of good. This investigation is the foundation of Vedic Paradigm – "athato brahma jigyasa"; Srila Prabhupada translated this as now that we have attained a human form, we should inquire into Brahman, the Absolute Truth or God. Vedanta Sutra 1.1.1 as we understand the Absolute truth to be the fountainhead of all knowledge and goodness (as Plato wants us to investigate the form of good).

Plato’s thoughts and Vedic teachings closely associate with each other. Modern critiques and philosophers think that Plato’s words are more exploratory, incompletely systematic, elusive, and playful. Many of his works therefore give their readers a strong sense of philosophy as a living and unfinished subject (perhaps one that can never be completed) to which they themselves will have to contribute. All of Plato's works are in some way meant to leave further work for their readers (SEP). This is Plato’s puzzle.

While knowledge and philosophy aid us in our quest for the truth, it is I who has to explore the truth. Therefore the onus is indeed on the individual to further explore the truth and realize it rather than just leave it in the classroom for the teacher Plato to do all the work. Perhaps Plato wanted us to realize his knowledge by further exploration versus just debating it.

Plato’s puzzle can be solved by further extending his thoughts into the Vedic school of thought. There is no beaming contradiction between Plato’s definition of soul and body and Vedic teachings. Further in depth study of the Vedas can give us detailed and concrete explanation of the nature of the soul, Supersoul, matter and its interrelationships (that which was lacking in Plato's works). This would be a natural progression into Plato's thoughts thus solving Plato's puzzle of elusiveness. We just have to open ourselves to this oceanic knowledge that is within the Vedic texts, more recently translated into English by His Divine Grace A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada. Indeed, as Srila Prabhupada once said “Everything is in my books”.

Hare Krishna

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Green card to Vaikunta away from Vaikunta!

How many of you are on the waiting line for a green card? A green card technically is permanent residency in the US. With a green card, one is pretty much a US citizen except one cannot vote and should not be outside the country for a certain period of time. All other privileges (including some state and Federal benefits) are available. For students, this is a big boost because the student does not have to spend exorbitant amounts of money for higher education. For workers also, this is a big plus as one can work anywhere anytime without hassles and regulations. The caveat, however, is there is a huge backlog in processing that it will take years to clear and get a card. Most of the foreign nationals in the US are succumbed to this green card processing.

The Indians of all people are the most affected by this backlog. Because there is a huge line, it takes years for an Indian to obtain his or her green card. For Indians living here, obtaining a green card is equivalent to Prema Bhakti for Krishna devotees. In other words, it is the salvation and goal of life. They (Indians in the US) think that the green card will solve all their problems and that they can settle in life without further anxieties. For them, this is the pinnacle of all achievements. It is sad and pathetic to see how these so called Indian people drool over this plastic card (which is not even green) that they lose all sleep and rationality over it. They simply forget that the US is not end of all problems of life. Coming from India, where poverty and other socio-economic problems are overt, perhaps living in a society where everything negative is concealed gives a false sense of happiness. Seriously, if we think about it, in the US everything is so nicely packaged that people barely ask the question behind the package. Everything from food to clothing to final death is concealed and polished. So I guess people like this illusion and like to be covered with more illusion. They do not like to be reminded of reality.

Above this concealment, if we add the sense gratifying activities such as casinos, movie theaters, theme parks, sex clubs, posh restaurants (with not so posh food) etc etc…this indeed is Vaikunta away from Vaikunta. While people are ready to sell their souls (especially Indians) for these cheap pleasures, they barely stop to think the consequences of their words and actions. It is easy, of course, to deny the concept of morality and God so that it is easy to sleep at night. The culture shock which is there initially is actually a good thing. But as we live our “Desi American dream” we lose the shock eventually and dovetail everything from our dressing to our English accent to our food to... you name it. Therefore to be “Indian” in the US simply boils down to the Indian restaurant at the street corner. Oh and by the way, speaking a broken American English accent with American slangs…I guess can be considered Indian. Being “Indian” simply has become a matter of external formality (eating, dressing, sports, language, religion etc etc). Srila Prabhupada I think is the only true Indian who came to the West to give Vedic culture versus taking Western culture. I cannot think of anybody. While everyone in India practically thinks US as Vaikunta, Srila Prabhupada is the only one who when landed in the US quoted US as “terrible place”. So why then do we lament permanent residency in a terrible place? This is the power of Maya.

How then should we see the statement given by Mahaprabhu.

bharata-bhumite haila manushya-janma yara
janma sarthaka kari’ kara para-upakara

One who has taken his birth as a human being in the land of India should make his life successful and work for the benefit of all other people.” (Sri Chaitanya-caritamrita, Adi-lila 9.41)

If the above statement is the standard for an Indian, then, I guess Srila Prabhupada (and other bonafide acharayas) is the only true Indian.

When will the day come, when we hanker and lament to obtain a green card to the real Vaikunta - Krishnaloka?

Hare Krishna

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Hadron Collider

BATAVIA, ILL. — Science rode a beam of subatomic particles and a river of champagne into the future on Wednesday.

After 14 years of labor, scientists at the CERN laboratory outside Geneva successfully activated the Large Hadron Collider, the world’s largest, most powerful particle collider and, at $8 billion, the most expensive scientific experiment to date.

At 4:27 a.m., Eastern time, scientists sent the beam of protons around the collider’s 17-mile-long racetrack, 300 feet underneath the Swiss-French border, and then sent another beam through again.

“It’s a fantastic moment,” said Lyn Evans, who has been the project director of the collider since its inception. “We can now look forward to a new era of understanding about the origins and evolution of the universe.”

Eventually, the collider is expected to accelerate protons to energies of 7 trillion electron volts and then smash them together, recreating conditions in the primordial fireball only a trillionth of a second after the Big Bang. Scientists hope the machine will be a sort of Hubble Space Telescope of inner space, allowing them to detect new subatomic particles and forces of nature.

An ocean away from Geneva, the L.H.C.’s activation was watched with bittersweet excitement here at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, or Fermilab, which until that moment had the reigning particle collider.

Several dozen physicists, students and onlookers gathered overnight to watch the dawn of a new generation in high-energy physics, applauding each milestone of the night as the beam was slowly wrestled into shape at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research.

Many of them, including the lab’s director, Pier Oddone, were wearing pajamas or bathrobes or even night caps bearing Fermilab patches on them.

Outside, a half moon was hanging low in a cloudy sky as a reminder that the universe is beautiful and mysterious and that another small step into that mystery was about to be taken.

Dr. Oddone lauded the new machine as the result of “two and a half decades of dreams to open up this huge new territory in the exploration of the natural world.”

Roger Aymar, CERN’s director, called the new collider a “discovery machine.” The buzz was worldwide. Gordon Kane, of the University of Michigan called the new collider “a why machine,” in a posting on the blog “Cosmic Variance.”

Others, worried about speculation that a black hole could emerge from the proton collisions, have called it a doomsday machine, to the dismay of CERN physicists who can point to a variety of studies and reports that say that this fear is nothing but science fiction.

But Boaz Klima, a Fermilab particle physicist, said that the speculation had nevertheless helped create buzz and excitement about particle physics. “Bad publicity is still publicity,” he said. “This is something that people can talk to their neighbors about.”

The only thing physicists agree on is that they don’t know what will happen — what laws prevail — when the collisions reach the energies just after the Big Bang.

“That there are many theories means we don’t have a clue,” said Dr. Oddone. “That’s what makes it so exciting.”

Many physicists hope to materialize a hypothetical particle called the Higgs boson, which according to theory endows other particles with mass. They also hope to identify the nature of the mysterious invisible dark matter that makes up 25 percent of the universe and provides the scaffolding for galaxies. Some dream of revealing new dimensions of space-time.

But those discoveries are in the future. If the new collider is a car, then what physicists did today was turn on an engine, that will now sit and warm up for a couple of months before anybody drives it anywhere. The first meaningful collisions, at an energy of 5 trillion electron volts, will not happen until late fall.

Nevertheless, the symbolism of the moment was not lost on the experts and non-experts gathered here.

At 2 a.m. local time, Herman White, a physicist here, and master of ceremonies for the night, took the stage to announce the night’s schedule. For at least the next few hours, he said, “we are still the highest energy accelerator in the world,” to wild applause.

In an interview earlier that day, Dr. Oddone called it a “bittersweet moment.”

Once upon a time the United States ruled particle physics. For the last two decades, Fermilab’s Tevatron, which hurls protons and their mirror opposites, anti-protons, together at energies of a trillion electron volts was the world’s largest particle machine.

By the end of the year, when the CERN collider has revved up to 5 trillion electron volts, the Fermilab machine will be a distant second. Electron volts are the currency of choice in physics for both mass and energy. The more you have, the closer and hotter you can punch back in time towards the Big Bang.

In 1993, the United States Congress canceled plans for an even bigger collider and more powerful machine, the Superconducting Supercollider, after its cost ballooned to $11 billion. That collider, its former director Roy Schwitters of the University of Texas in Austin said recently, would have been in operation around 2001.

Dr. Schwitters said that American particle physics — the search for the most fundamental rules and constituents of nature — had never really recovered from the loss of the supercollider. “One non-renewable resource is a person’s time and good years,” he said, adding that many young people have left the field for astrophysics or cosmology.

Dr. Oddone, Fermilab’s director, said the uncertainties of steady Congressional funding made the situation at Fermilab and physics in general in the United States “suspenseful.”

CERN, on the other hand, is an organization of 20 countires, whose budget is determined by treaty and thus stable. The year after the supercollider was killed, CERN decided to go ahead with its own collider.

Fermilab and the United States, which eventually contributed $531 million for the collider, have not exactly been shut out. Dr. Oddone said that Americans constitute about a quarter of the scientists who have built the four giant detectors that sit at points around the racetrack to collect and analyze the debris from the primordial fireballs.

In fact, a remote conrol room for monitoring one of those experiments, known poetically as the Compact Muon Solenoid, was built at Fermilab, just off the lobby of the main building here.

“The mood is great at this place,” he said, noting that the Tevatron is humming productively and accumulating data at a much more rapid pace than the CERN collider will initially produce. There is even still a chance that Tevatron could find the sacred Higgs boson before the new hadron collider, which is bound to have a slow start.

Another target of physicists is a principle called supersymmetry, which predicts, among other things, that there is a vast population of new particle species left over from the Big Bang and waiting to be discovered, one of which could be the long-sought dark matter.

“It would be a very rich life if supersymmetry is found,” Dr. Oddone said. “It would amount to permanent employment for physicists for decades.”

“The truly surprising thing is if we don’t see anything.”

By the time festivities started, at 2 a.m. Chicago time, outside and inside the control room for the solenoid detector, Fermilab had been festooned with balloons and the accelerator was already half an hour late. The superconducting magnets that guide the protons around on their path have to be cooled to 1.9 degrees Kelvin, about 3.5 degrees Fahrenheit above absolute zero, and one of the eight sectors of the underground ring was too warm, so they had to wait to cool it back down.

Then Lyn Evans, the collider project director, outlined the plan for the evening: sending a bunch of protons clockwise farther and farther around the collider until they made it all the way. He confessed to not knowing how long it would take, noting that for a previous CERN accelerator it had taken 12 hours. “I hope this will go much faster,” he said.

Twenty minutes later, when the displays in the control room showed that the beam had made it to its first stopping point, the crowd applauded. Twenty minutes after that, the physicists erupted in cheers when their consoles showed that the muon solenoid had detected collisions between the beam and stray gas molecules in the otherwise vacuum beam pipe. Their detector was alive and working.

Finally at 3:27 Chicago time, the display showed the protons had made it all the way around to another big detector named Atlas, whose members quickly confirmed that their experiment had also seen collisions.

At Fermilab, they broke out the champagne. Dr. Oddone congratulated his European colleagues. “We have all worked together and brought this machine to life,” he said. “We’re so excited about sending a beam around. Wait until we start having collisions and doing physics.”

- New York Times

What can i say...a grand display of our propensity to play GOD!
Hare Krishna

Monday, September 8, 2008

Radharani Maharani ki jay!

Radharani's 25 transcendental qualities, by which She controls the Supreme Lord Sri Krishna.

NOTE: this list has been given slightly differently by Srila Prabhupada in different places. Both renderings are given.

She is very sweet.// She is sweetness personified;

She is always freshly youthful.// She is a fresh young girl;

Her eyes are restless.// Her eyes are always moving;

She smiles brightly.// She is always brightly smiling;

She has beautiful, auspicious lines.// She possesses all auspicious marks on Her body;

She makes Krishna happy with Her bodily aroma.// She can agitate Krishna by the flavor of Her person;

She is very expert in singing.// She is expert in the art of singing;

Her speech is charming.// She can speak very nicely and sweetly;

She is very expert in joking and speaking pleasantly.//

She is expert in presenting feminine attractions;

She is very humble and meek.// She is modest and gentle;

She is always full of mercy.// She is always very merciful;

She is cunning.// She is transcendentally cunning;

She is expert in executing Her duties.// She knows how to dress nicely;

She is shy.// She is always shy;

She is always respectful.// She is always respectful;

She is always calm.// She is always patient;

She is always grave.// She is very grave;

She is expert in enjoying life.// She is enjoyed by Krishna;

She is situated at the topmost level of ecstatic love.//
She is always situated on the highest devotional platform;

She is the reservoir of loving affairs in Gokula.// She is the abode of love of the residents of Gokula;

She is the most famous of submissive devotees.// She can give shelter to all kinds of devotees;

She is very affectionate to elderly people.// She is always affectionate to superiors and inferiors;

She is very submissive to the love of Her friends.// She is always obliged by the dealings of Her associates;

She is the chief gopi.// She is the greatest amongst Krishna's girl friends;

She always keeps Krishna under Her control. In short, She possesses unlimited transcendental qualities, just as Lord Krishna does.// She always keeps Krishna under Her control.

Hare Krishna!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

ekadasi recipes

We made rosti pancakes and oven roasted cauliflower feta cheese salad for ekadasi. The recipes were inspired from Kurma prabhu's book "Quick Vegetarian Dishes". We did make some alterations to the salad dressing as it was ekadasi.
The rosti pancakes were simply made using baked potatoes, cheddar cheese and tomatoes. The salad was a medley of vegetables like potatoes, cauliflower, red pepper, olives, lettuce, feta cheese and lemon olive oil dressing.

Everything came out just perfect. It was quick and hearty for ekadasi. Although i wanted to fast on just fruits, i just could not resist this!

Hare Krishna

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Letting go of our false ego is just not easy

Unalloyed service to one’s guru will seal our entrance back to Krishna. There is absolutely no doubt about this. Krishna says (do not remember the reference) that serving Krishna’s devotees is a true devotee than one who serves Krishna directly. In other words, Krishna is highly pleased when we serve His devotees. The guru represents Krishna and is a confidential associate of Krishna. Therefore, unalloyed service to guru is our salvation back to God.

The test in this service is our false-ego. We cannot serve guru without reservation if we have false-ego. Service with false-ego is not pure and will not guarantee our entrance back to Krishna. Therefore our test in this material world is to relinquish our false ego and serve guru with utmost surrender and humility. Merely relinquishing false-ego is not good enough or mere service is not good enough. Service without any false-ego means full surrender and dependence on guru and Krishna. This is wanted.

If we win this battle over our own false-ego, we will have free access to unlimited and unalloyed service to our guru thus pleasing Krishna.

Letting go of our false ego is just not easy!
Hare Krishna