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

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Book Distribution 2011 - IV

I went door knocking today although I will admit I was on an all-time low with my mind battling to muster the enthusiasm to distribute. I made a cold call to a person whom I thought would be interested in Krishna consciousness this afternoon, anyways the call did not go as per plan and to be honest I got a little hung up on that. My mind was thinking about that. Anyways the highlight of todays distribution is I distributed Bhagavad Gita flyers and cards. I also distributed Higher Taste recipe book which I found people very eager to take versus the regular books. After few more books (although not much donation) I went home.

In addition to knocking on doors, this time I also placed books in shops. Actually I believe the smart box can distribute more books than me door knocking. So I placed two smart boxes in cafetarias. In my estimation, in one or two weeks the books are distributed. So I ordered small books and placed them in smart boxes. I am thinking of putting these smart boxes in more shops...lets see how that goes.

One other reason I am writing my experience of book distribution is to document my attempts so when I look back I can see how much effort was put in and what I can do better. Documenting is a crucial aspect of story telling. People like to hear stories and be inspired. I may not document all my book distribution efforts but hoping that if I do continue book distribution regularly then I may document it periodically.

So far I would say If you are a type of person who likes to meet new people, then book distribution is for you. You may not distribute books but just meeting new people in my opinion is exciting. When I say meet I mean the chance to have a discussion with new people. The person may not be interested in the books but by connecting with the person one can actually have an impact.

With that, I would also say this would be my last post for the year. I wish all my readers (although not sure if there are loyal readers) a very HAPPY NEW YEAR 2012.

I hope and pray your New Year starts on a good note and continue that way and perhaps you go one step closer towards Krishna!

Hare Krishna

Friday, December 30, 2011

Basic questions - everyone should ask!

Krishna Consciousness is a universal phenomenon. It is non-sectarian. It has the highest spiritual quotient. Practicing Krishna Consciousness sincerely can help an individual transcend the material dualities of life such as happiness/distress, fame/infamy, pain/pleasure etc. Sincere practice also cultivates a sense of humility, compassion and love towards all living beings. Of course these attributes are possible only when the practitioner becomes fearless. So Krishna Consciousness also inculcates fearlessness within one's heart to the extent one is not afraid even to die.

All this is possible because Krishna Consciousness starts by asking basic questions that I believe every sane human being should be asking themselves. Questioning in this fashion, I believe, is the pinnacle of human intelligence. So here are the basic questions Krishna Consciousness asks or we as humans have to ask.

  1. Who am I? (am i this body and mind or something beyond the body and mind)
  2. If God exists, who is God? (if God does not exist then we do not have to bother about anything)
  3. If God exists, then, what is my relationship with God?
  4. What is the process to know and connect with God?
  5. What is the end purpose or result of all of this?
Asking these questions form the basis for human existence. However, unfortunately people are not concerned with any of the above questions. Their only concern is to maintain this material life and exploit it.

Going into the new year, if anyone is reading this post, please desire to arouse your spiritual side and start of by asking these basic questions. This is the start and to one who is sincere the Universe will surely respond to your questions.

Happy 2012!

Hare Krishna

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

secret to happiness

You cannot be happy thinking about yourself. The more you think about yourself and fulfilling your desires the more you become anxious and depressed especially if it is not fulfilled. All the drugs and psychotherapy is directed in trying to fulfill what you want which actually increases anxiety and distress. 

The secret to happiness is trying to think about others and what they want. In that spectrum, the highest thought and consequently the highest happiness (or the most blissful experience) is to think about the instructions of a pure soul and Krishna. Fulfilling their words as opposed to yours is the secret to happiness in this world and beyond. Try it and you will see the difference.

 Hare Krishna

Goshala service - your vote requested

Dear prabhus & mataji

Please Accept My Humble Obeisances
All Glories to Srila Prabhupada

Project mentioned in below mail is for improving Goshala at Naigaon, about
30 km from ISKCON Pune temple.  This Goshala is connected to ISKCON Pune and
is being run under the guidance of ISKCON Pune. The cows and the calves are
kept in perfect natural condition and are treated with love and respect.

Our goshala team has requested us to kindly support them
by following the procedure given below.  If you do,
our goshala team will receive upto 4 lacs for GO-SEVA.  Thank you
for participating in Gomata's seva.

For Facebook account holders :

Go to http://www.sparktherise.com/projectdetail.php?pid=5096

Click on Vote in green colour

Click on Login and Vote

Click on facebook symbol

Log with facebook id and click on allow

Go to Agriculture and Rural Developement Tab

Click on Krishi Go Sanskriti Project and Vote

Other Users

Go to http://www.sparktherise.com/projectdetail.php?pid=5096

Click on Vote in green colour

Register on Left Hand Side of Sign Up page

Go to your email account and open email from sparktherise.com and activate
ur account

Go to http://www.sparktherise.com/projectdetail.php?pid=5096

Click on Vote in green colour

Login with your email id as log in and putting chosen password

Go to Agriculture and Rural Developement Tab

Click on Krishi Go Sanskriti Project and Vote

If we win, we'll get lot of media coverage and a grant of minimum 4 lacs (up
to maximum of 40 lacs). For this, we need more than 5000 votes. Kindly vote
the project and get everyone you know to put their votes.

Kindly vote in next 2-3 days as the last date is 30th Dec.

Please contact Gopal Agrawal at +919881255331 or Ram Vilas das at
+918390907239 for any assistance.

Thanks and Regards,  Hare Krishna.

your servant
Radheshyam das

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Book distribution 2011- III

I would say today was my best day in terms of the amount of books distributed and money collected. I collected more than $35 and distributed more around 10-15 books (not exactly sure how many). I may have knocked on at least 125 doors of which I could convince say 10 people to take the book. I met a whole variety of folks. I must say the residents of the buildings were probably of low-income category or perhaps less affluent is more apt. Most of the houses had dogs and I have fear of dogs. Although the dogs were not on leash, the owners were always careful to not allow the dogs in front.

I have said this in my previous posts, and I say again that most of the residents practice Christian faith and most likely not interested in Krishna Consciousness. So I started to talk to them about Jesus and that chanting Jesus Christ's names would benefit them spiritually. I made sure this is not a sectarian concept of religion. I met a muslim girl from Pakistan who donated money generously but was absolutely adamant to not accept the books. Somehow I requested her to accept the Beyond Illusion and Doubt book which was purely an interpretation on western philosophy. She reluctantly accepted it.

Anyways, I met many people but unfortunately my memory escapes me. I do remember one funny incident. I was distributing a book to an elderly African American lady. As I was explaining the philosophy, the sister of the lady came into the living room and she saw me. The lady to whom I was talking introduced me to her and turned and pointed to her sister the book and said this is Krishna. The sister looked at me with exasperation in her breath and loudly said "Krishna?"...and she nodded her head in disapproval on hearing Krishna and went back her into the room. I didn't know what to say and the lady who was talking to me said its ok. The lady gave me a nice donation and I left. It is interesting to see the impressions people have on other religions and especially Krishna.

Overall however, I would say the majority response was either a big fat no and some seemed recipient to spiritual life. I distributed all the books I carried but one book. After about 2 hours, I became tired and was getting dark, figured I will return. With that, I went back to my office and then to my house.

I have to say I am little pessimistic in terms of anything sustainable coming out of book distribution especially where I live because people are either religious or very materialistic. It is very hard for me to convince them in like 60 secs to take a book and at the same time perhaps read it and email me. Unless I meet someone who is also seeking spiritual knowledge and who is not attached to any current form religious system, then may be I will have chance to make an impression and make something sustainable out of it. For now, I pray Krishna to give me desire to distribute and also pray Krishna to send me the interested person.

We will never know! This unknown gives some hope!

Hare Krishna

Best use of free will

In an earlier post, I discussed about free will and predestination. In that I mentioned about the forces of nature and how it is practically difficult to overcome the temptations and urges of material nature. Even if we have a strong desire to do something but our circumstance and environment and association is otherwise, there are more chances to be led astray. We will do something we will regret. This feeling of regret is there because internally our original desire was to not do the thing we end up doing. So there are forces of nature always acting to influence our free will and that force is strong beyond human capabilities. Therefore we should be careful when we judge people. Anyways that is perhaps a different post.

We have to train ourselves to use our intelligence to depend on Krishna. Below is a brief conversation by Srila Prabhupada on how to practically use our free will - in other words - depend on Krishna. Next time when we are faced with problems such as coworker problems or disease or money problems or job insecurity or spouse problem etc etc...let us try to simply focus all our energy meditating on Krishna and His form and submit our case to Him in humility and in that mood conduct our duties (not attaching to the result). Please read conversation.

He (Prabhupada) explained that the real problem is that people are not following Krishna ’s instructions properly. If one practically surrenders to Krishna , He makes everything successful.

Practical”, he (Prabhupada) said, “means it will be done by Krishna . Your only business is to surrender to Krishna . You cannot do anything. And as soon as you think, ‘I shall be able to do it,’ then you are a rascal. Immediately you are rascal.”

“So only a fully surrendered soul can do everything perfectly?” Harikesa asked.

Prabhupada answered, “He cannot do anything. Everything is to be done by Krishna . But he has to apply his intelligence by Krishna consciousness. Even if he is intelligent, he cannot do anything.”

Harikesa added, “Except surrender.”

“Yes. He can surrender, and Krishna will do everything. You have to act very sincerely under the direction of Krishna , and then the war will be successful, as Arjuna did.”

- A Transcendental Diary (Vol 1,Ch 2, Pg 44) by Hari Sauri Das

In essence, we can only do one thing, use our free will and intelligence to surrender to Krishna under all circumstances (good and bad) and do our duty. We have to have faith that whatever transpires as a result of that duty & situation is Krishna's desire and be satisfied with that.

Hare Krishna

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Truth never loses its glory

I find the following quote very inspirational. The truth is a testimony to itself and will reveal itself to the genuine seeker.

The truth is always the truth, the genuine always genuine. Ordinary people may or may not accept it, but it never loses its glory or respectable position. Maybe it will happen that within many eons only one sincere truth-seeking person will appreciate the genuineness of the Gaudiya Matha. Yet such a person could effect auspiciousness for unlimited millions of people.

- His Divine Grace Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Goswami Prabhupada

Friday, December 23, 2011

Book Distrubution 2011 - II

I went door knocking again today. It was relatively a quiet day.  I met few folks and distributed some books. I met a guy who knew about the Hare Krishnas. I gave him a book and he accepted it although he did not offer any donations. Then I met an inquisitive individual who asked many questions. Sadly though, after like 15 mins of explaining the philosophy he just took a brochure from me. I suspect he was a christian trying to be polite with me.

The highlight was I met a Catholic Christian who to my surprise had a very Krishna conscious mind set. In the beginning, she said I know I am not this body and mind and I am soul. She said how God is Supremely good and hence all of His creation also has His goodness. She believes that every individual finds his path towards God and that has their own realizations, so who are we to judge that? As humans she agreed that we have limited capacity to understand God's creation. She said that America is worshipping materialism and not God.

She also said, which I find interesting is, that Catholicism is the "fullest" form of religion than other paths. Its funny how every religious person thinks the same of their path. I went to a Masjid (mosque) last sunday to see if I could distribute any books, and the person I was conversing with was a devout muslim and he also said the same thing about Islam and Allah. As the Catholic lady was saying about the fullness of her religion, I thought the same about Krishna Consciousness. I guess we need that impetus to be attached to our own paths.

Anyways, the Catholic lady talked about other points that had spiritual (and not religious) connotation and I took leave expressing my pleasure to have met her. Honestly, I have been here for 8 years now and have not met an open minded Christian. Sorry if I offend any Christian, this however has been my experience so far. Either they are materialistic or too literal about the Bible to accept any other path as valid. This woman was a welcome exception and she gladly donated me her entire piggy bank which had a dollar and some chump change. Knocked on few other doors and drove back to my house.

I am hoping someone will be interested to discuss further about Krishna!

Hare Krishna

Thursday, December 22, 2011


In so many places in the Bhagavatam and Bhagavad Gita, we read how Krishna and the devotees of Krishna talk about misery of this world. This world they say is a place of miserable condition where happiness is but a mirage. However, when Srila Prabhupada preached like that, many people (east and west alike) disagreed that they were in misery and rather they said they were happy.

So let us try to understand this apparent conundrum little more. Are we or are we not in misery? For that let us try to define what misery means. I would define misery as a condition (mental or physical) a living being is put in that is against the living being’s natural state. So for example if it is too hot then a living being will feel misery because the weather temperature is above the skin’s natural ability to handle. If someone would beat me up more than the body can handle then I would be in misery. These are gross examples. There can also be subtle examples like someone verbally abusing me or someone playing mind games etc etc. So in essence if the natural state is violated then it results in misery.

Therefore when saints from the Vedic culture talk about misery, perhaps we should first understand what our natural state is. Bhagavad Gita clearly explains our natural state. That is - we are eternal spiritual beings who are not subjected to old age, disease or death. This material world, however, is the opposite. We will grow old, diseased and die. This is compared to a fish out of water. No matter how much comfort you provide to the fish, it will die because its natural state is within the water. Similarly, the concept of misery is understood from the perspective that our original identity is spiritual/eternal and that death is but an unnatural albeit miserble condition.

In the interim, between birth and death, we may feel like we are going to live here forever and build our life based on that such as career, family, home etc and feel happy. However, the minute we are faced with our temporary position we will feel miserable. This, unfortunately, is inevitable and those who are wise will seek to find a way to get out of this temporary condition and return back to their original conditon. The Bhagavad Gita recommends that the only way to do that is by taking shelter of the original Personality of Godhead Sri Krishna. Those who have faith in Krishna and also practice the rigor of Krishna consciousness can actually experience the words spoken by Krishna in truth. So all what I have said is not some dogmatic belief system, the philosophy is actually rooted on reality and also tested and proven by people of saintly character for thousands of years. You can also try it. Simply chant Hare Krishna and take shelter of Krishna in earnest.

yad gatva na nivartante tad dhama paramam mama - One who reaches it (Krishna’s abode) never returns to this material world – BG 15.6

Hare Krishna

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Impersonalism in today's world

Srila Prabhupada was the one spiritual person who was not afraid to speak the truth. And by truth I mean a non-sectarian universal good for all living beings (including plants and animals). The two major aspects of life that Prabhupada was against were atheism and impersonalism. To deny the existence of God is atheism and to deny the personality of Godhead in its direct sense and to assume all paths as one is impersonal. There is also another type of impersonalism where people believe all human beings are equal. This is also impersonal and actually false. Of course, on the spiritual platform there is unity as we are all qualitatively one –spirit soul but on the material platform there are definitely differences.

If we scrutinizingly analyze how the world functions with all its rules, you will find it is divisive and discriminatory based on one's occuption, personal character/behavior, and other physical factors. This sort of discrimination is inherent in human nature and cannot be removed. In fact this is what makes us human. Every indiividual is unique with his or her personal traits and some people are attracted and some averse. This is natural. However, for the sake of politically being correct, we mask such differences. In another sense, we also do not care enough to be sensitive to differences and personalities thus making us impersonal.

For example, today I was in an agency that provides help to middle grade students from financially poor backgrounds. Their purpose is to help students to become good students in school and ultimately become productive citizens of society. One of the barriers that these kids were facing is that they think that the outer world is against them. Keep in mind, these kids come from poor neighborhoods and they think people from affluent neighborhoods do not like them and hence see them as enemies. So when two different communities are against each other, these young kids grow for the worse than better. However, the strategy used to deal with this situation was to deny the existence of different thoughts or opinions by different people instead the kids were taught to see everyone as themselves (not as enemies). At the superficial level, this may be a good method to deal with the problem. However, I think the best way is to actually educate the young kids on the variegatedness of the world and its people. Most of the problem stems from fear from kids who are not exposed to other people with different backgrounds. Therefore, we can alleviate this fear by educating the kids on the differences among people, their culture and behavior thus instilling the idea that just because one looks or thinks different or do not agree with your way of life doesn’t mean they are enemies or don’t like you.

By acknowledging the differences of the world/people in their goodness and badness, then we will learn to cultivate tolerance, and compassion towards them. Unfortunately, the 21st century world is so fast paced that people barely stop to acknowledge their own family members or peers what to speak of other cultures or religions. We do not recognize the different aspects of human behavior and thought. We want everyone to function like me or my community (impersonal) and if they do not, they are defined as weird, or enemies. This mentality is from an impersonal and atheistic thought process.

Krishna consciousness is the only answer to this onslaught of impersonalism. The more we approach the Supreme as a Person and not as a concept, the more we will identify our fellow beings (creation) as a person (personal) and not stereotype them. I believe by eliminating atheism and impersonalism many of our modern day socio-economic and political woes can be solved. The concept of humility, love, compassion and tolerance is rooted in a personal approach to life, people and God and not the other way round.

Be personal with people, acknowledge the good and bad in them, tolerate the bad, recognize the good and communicate with them acknowledging their personality and finally acknowledge the root - Supreme Person. By acknowledging the Supreme as a Person and that He has His own likes and dislikes, we will become more human and less callous. In my opinion, this is the only way to arouse genuine human compassion. To circle back to my initial point Srila Prabhupada was for this sort of spiritual and personal human compassion.

Hare Krishna

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Save Bhagavad Gita in Russia!

Any of you reading this post, I request the reader to sign the online petition -


The online petition is garnering support to prevent Russia from banning the age old Hindu scripture Bhagavad Gita.  Below is official language from ISKCON requesting you to sign the petition. It is simple and takes 2 minutes. Please sign the petition to save Bhagavad Gita from being banned.

On Monday, December 19th, in Tomsk, Russia, a historic court case is taking place. Some of our movement’s detractors are making a major court case, attempting to establish that Srila Prabhupada’s Bhagavad Gita As It Is is is “extremist literature” and on these grounds have it banned throughout the
country. The implications for ISKCON in Russia and even in the former USSR are far reaching.

If the devotees lose this case all Srila Prabhupada’s books may be banned because they are full of quotations from the Gita. Seeing all of our activities are based on Bhagavad Gita it could conceivably lead to attempts to close our movement in some places.

The prosecutors are pushing this absurd case with great determination and vigor. There have already been three court hearings, in which the testimony of the so called “experts” gathered by the prosecutors was recognized as being inadequate. However, the prosecutor’s office has requested new testimony, not from well-known experts on Hinduism from Moscow, but from some unknown academics from a local Siberian university. This move clearly suggests that a particular court decision is being engineered. Their approach brings to mind the Inquisitions of the Middle Ages, witch hunts, and the burning of books and persecution of dissidents during the Soviet period of Russian history.

The GBC Executive committee

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Book distribution 2011

After 4 years pause, i decided to distribute books again going door to door. I am praying I have the patience and enthusiasm to continue. I will be honest, living in a place where there is absolutely no devotee or devotee association or for that matter remotely spiritual, I find it very difficult to motivate myself to knock on doors.

Another problem is at least 50% of the people here are conservative christians and it is practically difficult to get them to take a book. So I decided to go to a neighborhood which is partially affluent and less affluent. Initially I was skeptical if anyone would even open the door. But then I motivated myself by thinking I will simply do my duty and the leave the rest to Krishna. In other words, I would not be disturbed mentally.

I may have knocked on 30 to 35 doors in a span of 2 hours. Almost I would say 25 doors did not open although I could hear their tv playing. Some were genuinely not home. One house, I knocked and the dogs (two) started to bark loudly and I was praying the owners don't open the door! Foolish that I was, I got lost in the building layout and knocked again on the same door with the dogs. Thankfully, the owners were not there. I made a smooth exit.

I was happy to have met the people I did. I met an Imam (spiritual leader for Islamic religion), a catalina knight (a rare form of protestant christian), a californian woman open to new ideas, and a old poor woman  who lived in a run-down neighborhood and who experienced psychotic and depressive behaviors. Of course I met many more who simply did not care and kept saying NO.

Of all the people I met, the Imam was the first person to invite me into his house, took a book, gave me water and was very sweet. He asked me to come to his mosque to pray which I said I will. I am planning to go tomorrow to his mosque. We exchanged pleasantries in arabic, actually I was showing off my arabic skills whatever little I remembered when I lived in Kuwait. To my surprise, he spoke in arabic when I said I know little arabic...thank God he asked me the one thing I know. So that was good.

Then I met the Catalina Knight. He I have to say was quite the character. He looked straight in my eye and asked "do you follow a particular religion?" and I gave a vague answer like yes and no. He invited me into his house and we must have discussed for at least 30 mins of his religion. He gave me the Bible and asked me to read it which I promptly did and he was talking about his belief etc. He was very proud of his army background from Scotland and that he does not watch tv, listen music and other mundane affairs.  Yet there was a huge tv right in the middle of his house and to that he said he watches dvds. Anyways, however I could not help notice on his laptop screen, I saw porn windows flashing and other lewd pictures around the house. After about 30 mins, I decided to do my sales pitch. I was very nice to him that he decided to take a book and donat $1 for it. Happily taking the donation, I bid farewell. Just at that moment, funny enough, the Catalina Knight warned me against knocking on a door just above him and he said, that guy is an imam and that I should stay away from him. I have to say from the conversation with the Knight, there is lot of misconception about muslims and Islam. It is indeed unfortunate!! Anyways, I politely nodded my head not revealing that I already met him.

The best meeting and I would say worth my entire effort was the following two meetings. The californian mother was so open and happy to see me, she invited me into her house and we talked about for 20 mins. She gave her email and phone for us to meet again. Her husband was not home and she wanted to meet again as she said her husband has many questions. We talked about other stuff beyond Krishna and am hoping to meet her again. I gave her 3 books and she donated $2. She wished me luck in my door knocking and I moved from there.

Finally, as I was driving back, I decided to stop in an apartment building which housed society's derelicts such as the drunks, the drug addicts, mentally ill and other psychotic people of society. In fact, I have a friend (who also has mental issues) living in that building. Anyways, I could not get in as it was locked and as I was leaving, I met an older poor woman who was standing with her dog. The dog was totally out of control and was freaking me out. Somehow I maintained my wits and gave a book to the woman. She let me into the building and just as she was about to leave, I explained the nature of this book and its significance. She listened intently. Then I asked her that she should chant Hare Krishna. At first she could not grasp Krishna. I opened the book turned to a page with the mantra and asked her to repeat after me. She dutifully repeated and asked for the meaning. I briefly explained to her the philosophy and I assured her and promised her that this mantra is so powerful that all your desires will be fulfilled and that all your problems will be solved. I saw a sparkle in her eye when I said this. I insisted her to call me. I gave her my phone and email contact. I thought my trip was worth that this poor old woman was lucky to chant Krishna's holy names.

With that, I got into my car and back home. I was hungry and tired by the end of it. I am not sure how frequent I will continue book distribution but I pray Krishna gives me the desire to do so. I hope something more sustainable comes from book distribution. One thing, we never know who will take Krishna and who will not!!

Hare Krishna

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Obedience to all surrendered devotees, not just pure devotees

In ISKCON, especially in the past and also in the present, I have read, and seen how devotees show obedience only to "pure devotees" and not so much to other devotees. I think this very reason is why there are many factions. After Srila Prabhupada left the planet some disciples of his started to question the authority of the then leaders and still question now. They think no one is a pure devotee as pure as Srila Prabhupada. Citing that as an excuse, many devotees left ISKCON either looking elsewhere for devotees or just plain left spiritual life altogether.

Some created their own groups criticizing the gurus of ISKCON and slandering their character. I admit, although, there were genuine misgivings, still the general aura is that beyond Srila Prabhupada there is no one who can be seen as pure and hence display an air of disobedience towards them. Srila Prabhupada may have been a saktyavesa avatar and nitya siddha, but because the other Gurus or leaders of ISKCON are not like Prabhupada I will not be obedient to them is not the proper mood of a devotee. This sort of mentality is the reason we have many groups and factions within and without ISKCON. This is not what Srila Prabhupada wanted.

To prove that this sort of mentality comparing current gurus to Srila Prabhupada and that they are not pure enough and hence will not be obedient to them is wrong. Below is a letter by Srila Prabhupada himself on this specific matter.

But I think you have got the mistaken idea in this connection. You speak of pure devotee, that he is saktyavesa avatara, that we should obey him only--these things are the wrong idea. If anyone thinks like that, that a pure devotee should be obeyed and no one else, that means he is a nonsense.

We advise everyone to address one another as Prabhu. Prabhu means master, so how the master should be disobeyed? Others, they are also pure devotees. All of my disciples are pure devotees. Anyone sincerely serving the spiritual master is a pure devotee, it may be Siddhasvarupa or others, a-Siddhasvarupa. This must be very clearly stated. It is not only that your Siddhasvarupa is a pure devotee and not others. Do not try to make a faction. Siddhasvarupa is a good soul. But others should not be misled. Anyone who is surrendered to the spiritual master is a pure devotee, it doesn't matter if Siddhasvarupa or non-Siddhasvarupa. Amongst ourselves one should respect others as Prabhu, master, one another. As soon as we distinguish here is a pure devotee, here is a non-pure devotee, that means I am a nonsense.

Why you only want to be in the spiritual sky with Siddhasvarupa? Why not all? If Siddhasvarupa can go, why not everyone? Siddhasvarupa will go, you will go, Syamasundara. will go, all others will go. We will have another ISKCON there.

-Srila Prabhupada letter to Tusta Krishna 14 Dec 1972

Clearly, Srila Prabhupada is making a case that to think to submit to only pure devotee and not to other senior devotees is a fallible idea and as Prabhupada says "nonsense" on our part. Yes, the current gurus may not be nitya-siddha devotees and may be still conditioned, but still if they sincerely follow the instructions of their spiritual master without deviations, they can be considered liberated and worth surrendering towards. That is why Prabhupada categorically says everyone is a pure devotee and that everyone will go to the spiritual sky. The definition of pure devotee according to Srila Prabhupada is not an esoteric concept but simply based on one fundamental point and that is if a devotee is fully surrendered to the instructions of his guru, then he is a pure devotee and to such a pure devotee, we can surrender. No where in the letter Prabhupada defines pure devotee based on nitya siddha or other esoteric qualifications.

I am writing this post because I read this letter and reflected on how so many new devotees are bewildered by other factions and the reasons they give to accept only Prabhupada as guru and how they find fault with all the existing gurus. At one point, I was one of the devotees bewildered by the bickering and fault finding between devotees. I think this letter by Prabhupada clearly addresses this issue.

Hare Krishna

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Dedication - to the most compassionate one

All glories to a great saint - Srila Saraswati Takur Prabhupada

All glories to His Divine Grace Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Swami Maharaj Prabhupada!!

Today is Maharaj's disappearance day. I wrote a post about him two days back. I want to share my personal realization of this saint in this post. In my own personal devotional journey, I derive lot of strength and inspiration from him. Especially in my initial days in Krishna Consciousness, studying the character of Maharaj helped me understand (1) his greatness as a devotee (2) his staunch discipline in following Krishna consciousness and (3) his utter disdain toward anything material (be it gross or subtle).

His words still echo in my mind that seeking recognition and honor from other people is compared to the stool of a boar (wild pig). It is that abominable. Yet, my mind seeks stool. I can see how much I have to go in my own journey to become Krishna conscious. Studying his preaching style gives me such inspiration in my heart that I think anyone who is under his tutelage cannot but preach the message of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. I remember one time reading where Maharaj says "only a person with life can preach not a dead body" (i am paraphrasing). The essence however I understand is that anybody who is alive should preach the message of Krishna. Of course, to do that we have to become purified in our own consciousness and be empowered by the Lord.

While Srila Bhaktisiddhanta maharaj is a powerful preacher, he also is an epitome of humility and service. I remember reading his final instructions to his disciples in which he requests his followers to preach the message without being discouraged and also that we should pray to be the dust of the lotus feet of Sri Rupa and Sri Raghunath Goswamis and serve them in that capacity. Although Srila Bhaktivinod Takur re-initiated Mahaprabhu's sankirtan movement, it was Bhaktisiddhanta Maharaj who systematically spread it all over India and infused the same spirit to A.C.Bhaktivedanta Prabhupada to spread it worldwide. So Bhaktisiddhanta Maharaj was at the helm of this worldwide movement and still is.

I only wish and also pray that I may be an instrument of Maharaj's divine will, Prabhupada's divine will and my own spiritual master's divine will to have the inner strength, courage, desire and enthusiasm to spread the message of Mahaprabhu. Although I am currently lacking anything higher, I pray to Bhaktisiddhanta Maharaj on this auspicious day to help me in my own spiritual life and also bless me to be an instrument of Sri Guru and Gauranga!

I am very happy to be a part of the disciplic succession where I can associate (at least through vani) with such a great soul and saint whose only desire was the benefit of all living beings. I seek and pray to be a dust at your divine lotus feet.

All glories unto you Maharaj!
All glories unto your spirit of preaching the worldwide movement!
All glories unto all the devotees who have followed in his footsteps!

Hare Krishna

why find fault?

Hare Krishna devotees not all of them are perfect. In fact many of them are not perfect. But the difference, they all are trying to become perfect and perfect they will be (whoever is sincere and serious) in either this life or lives to come. Why then find fault with their imperfections just because they have taken to Krishna consciousness?

Hare Krishna

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Srila Saraswati Takur - the uncompromising preacher!

All glories to His Divine Grace Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Takur Prabhupada!

His disappearance day is on December 14. It is very difficult to understand a pure Vaishnava and understand his actions. It is not possible to understand the greatness and activities of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Maharaj. However, we can scrutinizingly study his words and instructions and at best try to follow without speculation. Maharaj was a stalwart preacher without an ounce of compromise. He chastised any semblance or shade of untruth. In other words, anything or any philosophy or theory that is impersonal or based on fruitive grounds or demigod worship, he was against it in totality.

He ferociously denounced so called followers of dharma who propounded the concept of yata mata tata patha - meaning - all are approaching the absolute in diverse ways. The Ramakrishna mission is one such mission that propounds such nonsense philosophy. In my opinion, it has deluded the entire vedic dharma into a hodgepodge pathway with no sense of direction or loyalty. This sort of dilution of pure Bhagavat dharma is the cancer of "Hindu" society. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Maharaj was against such dilution. This sort of watering down or melting of different paths as one he called "cit-jada-samanvaya-vaada - trying to fuse material with spiritual".

Maharaj considered his responsibility as a sadhu was to slash others' misconstructions. According to him, a true sadhu is one who should cut through the wicked propensities of every individual without duplicity. A sadhu should not preach anything less than suddha-bhakti to Lord Krishna. Any dharma less than pure Vaishnava dharma is simply useless waste of time. A sadhu who does not present suddha-bhakti to Krishna but instead presents a watered down version just so he is socially acceptable by the masses is a hypocrite and cheater. He believes that such self-serving sadhus exist for fear of self retribution- in other words, refraining from pointing out others' misdoings for fear that oneself become subject to assessment. Indeed, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Takur believed that true humility as propounded by Sri Krishna Chaitanya is to uphold the truth and not desert the cause of the truth.

Below are his actual words

The aggressive pronouncement of the concrete truth is the crying necessity of the moment, for silencing the aggressive propaganda of specific untruths that is being spread all over the world. Without cheating anyone, we should boldly proclaim the truth to everyone. Even if the truth is unpopular, if it bestows genuine auspiciousness on the living entities we must speak it. Unless we fearlessly speak the truth, Sri Sri Guru-Gauranga will not pleased. The more determined one is in devotional service, the bolder and more courageous he will be as a preacher.

For those who are happy to be passive and accept all paths as a valid path to Godhead and happy to not fight on behalf of the truth, such passiveness is actually duplicity. By saying all paths are equally valid so everyone will be satisfied and there will be no mutual bad feelings, such an individual is considered a cheater and hypocrite. Below are his words on such false equalities.

How can sat and asat, devotee and non devotee, pious and sinful, literate and illiterate, demigod and Supreme Lord, chaste and unchaste, dharma and adharma, light and darkness, constitutional and conditional, bhakti and abhakti be homologous?
Everything seems alright to those unmindful of the tidings of the internal reality, who cannot enter into its highly subtle understandings. An ignorant boy may claim that his illegible script has meaning because that of an intelligent person has meaning; and one who does not regard scrawl and meaningful writing as equal will be accused of sectarianism or partiality by the foolish. If we appeal to popularists who have no comprehension of Hari, Hari-Katha, satya-siddhanta, they will say that to promote genuine siddhanta is sectarian and to refute asat-siddhanta is blasphemy. They think, "When we know nothing, better to cook the accounts by calling everything equal. In this way everyone will be stay satisfied and there will be no mutual bad feelings. But truth and falsehood, devotion and nondevotion, can never be one. Persons devoid of devotional sentiment, who feel no necessity to serve the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who do not want actual benefit, who consider sensual enjoyment and fame desirable, will adjudge contaminated and pure as one.

I offer my respectful obeisances unto Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Prabhupada on his auspicious day of disappearance and request his blessings so I can preach like him without compromise.

Jai Srila Prabhupada!!

Hare Krishna

Friday, December 9, 2011

The pattern of pure devotees

In a generalized sense, an event is considered random if it occurs out of the ordinary or something that has no prior notification of incidence. A pattern, on the other hand, is like a random event except it occurs several times that statisticians’ derive a “pattern” based on the type of event. For example, if there was an isolated burglary in a house, investigators would see it as a random event, but if the same burglary occurs at certain times and certain locations or over period of times and locations, then investigators can perhaps derive a pattern of burglary to arrive at certain conclusions.

Physical evidence is stronger when there is data to track a pattern of events versus a random isolated event. Stronger evidence helps researchers arrive closer to accuracy about the nature of events. In this way, researchers collect, store and analyze data over generations thus evolving a body of knowledge.

In a similar vein, how do we know if Krishna is God and that chanting His Holy Names can actually help us see God? These are questions that each and every individual has to answer for him/herself. However, as a researcher, as a seeker, if I want to seek out a genuine and authentic process to understand the metaphysical aspects of life and God, then how do I go about doing it? The answer lies somewhat in the concept of random versus pattern.

If we begin by assuming (hypothetically) that Krishna is God, and then seek to study the people who practice Krishna consciousness, perhaps we will obtain some clues. To begin with, we have to trace back history (data) as far as possible to find out those who have dedicated themselves to Krishna or at least who say they dedicate themselves to Krishna. Then, we have to study the scriptures that elucidate the characteristics or symptoms that are associated with Krishna and His followers. With some theoretical understanding of Krishna and His followers (albeit in a mood of neutral researcher and not as a follower), we set out to study the characteristics of pure devotees of Krishna. These pure devotees can be historical figures or contemporary ones, either way we simply have to ascertain for their authenticity and approach to study them.

If we find the characteristics of pure devotees over generations of time to be consistent in quality and in accordance to scriptural evidence, then we are basically seeing the same patterns of behaviors/characteristics exhibited by these pure devotees (regardless of geography, culture, religion or other background variables). This pattern of data that is exhibited in the form of pure devotion by multiple devotees over period of thousands of years is indicative of the fact that, indeed, Krishna must be real and that His pure devotees are exhibiting pattern of behavior that is only characteristic of them and not others. If we can chart this pattern of data and categorically prove that they are not random or isolated, then, as a researcher we have to acknowledge the veracity of Krishna, His devotees and the process of Krishna Consciousness as authentic. Otherwise, what explanation is there to describe the consistent pattern of physical, psychological and sociololgical characteristic exhibited by these devotees? They must be having close encounters of the fifth kind of some sort with a being not of this world? This being they (pure devotees) call Krishna.

The entire Guru Parampara (disciplic succession) starting from Lord Brahma till Srila Prabhupada is a chain of pure devotees who have been exhibiting such ecstatic symptoms of love that cannot be defined or limited by mundane terms. This cannot be a random or isolated event as the time line from Brahma to Prabhupada extends for millions of years. If we have consistent data for millions of years (say), then we have to accept the Supremacy of Krishna and His Divine Personality. As initial followers of Srila Prabhupada, I study this pattern of other worldly love and compassion of these great teachers/devotees and conclude that their external behavior must be something that cannot be explained by modern day science books. That something, I understand through Bhagavad Gita and through the words of the teachers’ (pure devotees) themselves to be Lord Krishna.

This line of pure devotees is the epitome of Krishna and its process. We simply cannot ignore the amount of physical, psychological, sociological and anthropological data (pattern of data) that these great devotees have left behind and how mysteriously all of them exhibit a similar pattern of behavior closely related to one another yet set apart by eons of time. This behavior, they say, is attributed to Krishna. If we are serious beyond common rhetoric, sentiment, and superficial designations then here is an opportunity to study these great souls of yore and now and delve deeper to understand them.

The verdict by these great souls is out, and is unanimous – Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead and serving Krishna in devotion is the goal of human life.

Hare Krishna

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Blueberry cobbler

My wife made blueberry cobbler for thanksgiving and in my opinion this is one of the best desserts she has made so far. The biscuit along with the blueberry fruit gives a fruity and crunchy texture not to mention the lemony sweetness added to it. Although the pictures do not do much justice, it was perfect!

Below is the recipe.

Cobbler biscuit dough ingredients

1.3 cups unbleached all purpose flour
3 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
1.5 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 cup milk
1 to 2 tablespoons milk or 1 to 2 tablespoons butter,melted, for brushing top of dough

Filling ingredients

4 to 5 cups blueberries
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons unbleached all purpose flour
1 teaspoon grated lemon or lime zest (optional)

Preheat the oven to 375 deg F. Have ready an ungreased 8 or 9 inch square or rectangular baking pan and at least 2 inches deep.

To make the biscuit dough, combine the flour, 2 tablespoons of the granulated sugar, the baking powder, and salt. When completely combined, add the butter and milk. Stir just until it forms a sticky dough. Set aside

To make the filling, wash and pat dry the blueberries. In a large bowl, combine them with the sugar, flour, and lemon zest, if using. Spread evenly in the baking dish.

Using a tablespoon, scoop the dough over the fruit. There will be just enough to cover the fruit. Either leave the dough in shapeless blobs on the fruit or spread it out. Brush the top of the dough with the remaining 1 to 2 tablespoons milk or butter and the remaining 1 tablespoons sugar. Bake until the top is golden brown and the juices have thickened slightly, 45 to 50 minutes. Let cool for 15 minutes before offering to Krishna and then serving.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

Serving suggestions & variations
If you want flakier dough, the butter should be cold and cut until the dough resembles coarse bread crumbs.

Hare Krishna

Friday, December 2, 2011

who is Lord Siva?

In India in many places, Lord Siva is worshipped on equal platform with Lord Vishnu or Narayana. Technically, assuming both Lord Siva and Vishnu as same is an impersonal understanding of the Vedas. If Siva and Vishnu exist simultaneously and differently, then surely there has to be a personal reason for it...otherwise what is the need for two different manifestations. However, to be politically correct or spiritually lazy to understand deeper or due to sentiment, the general populace and even learned scholars equate Siva with Vishnu on the same platform.

Actually, they are same but at the same time not same. The actual truth is that Vishnu is Siva in the material sense. Vishnu who is completely spiritual and pure when in contact with material nature appears as Lord Siva. Therefore it is Lord Vishnu who transforms into Siva for the sake of creation and not vice versa.

This is clearly explained in the Srimad Bhagavata purana and Brahma Samhita. Please see below.

Actually Lord Viṣṇu maintains and accomplishes all good fortune. If one has to take shelter of Lord Viṣṇu, why should the demigods take shelter of Lord Śiva? They did so because Lord Viṣṇu acts through Lord Śiva in the creation of the material world. Lord Śiva acts on behalf of Lord Viṣṇu. When the Lord says in Bhagavad-gītā (14.4) that He is the father of all living entities (ahaḿ bīja-pradaḥ pitā), this refers to actions performed by Lord Viṣṇu through Lord Śiva. Lord Viṣṇu is always unattached to material activities, and when material activities are to be performed, Lord Viṣṇu performs them through Lord Śiva. Lord Śiva is therefore worshiped on the level of Lord Viṣṇu. When Lord Viṣṇu is untouched by the external energy He is Lord Viṣṇu, but when He is in touch with the external energy, He appears in His feature as Lord Śiva.

SB 8.7.22

Just as milk is transformed into curd by the action of acids, but yet the effect curd is neither same as, nor different from, its cause, viz., milk, so I adore the primeval Lord Govinda of whom the state of Śambhu is a transformation for the performance of the work of destruction.

Sri Brahma-Samhita 5.45

As a note, there may be other puranas and upa-vedas that may extol Lord Siva as the Supreme Lord, father, paramatma and controller of all that be...that is again in the context of within this material creation and not beyond. But the above purports from Bhagavatam and BrahmaSamhita talk about a transformation from spiritual to material and not solely within material activities. Because Lord Siva is seen in the context of within material activities, He is considered as a powerful Demigod (Maha Eashwar or Maheshwar or Great Demigod). However, the goal of human life is to break the cycle of birth and death and go back to the spiritual world and for that to happen, the only way is to surrender to Narayana (not Siva) for He is beyond material activities and is fully spiritual. Therefore Narayana is addressed by great saints as the Supreme Absolute Truth (svayam Bhagavan) or Narayana paro avyaktat (Narayana transcendental to material manifestation)

Hare Krishna

Thursday, December 1, 2011

predestination vs free will

I was watching the movie Minority Report and in that Tom Cruise sees himself in the future murdering someone. In other words, his destiny was laid in front of him through precognition. Exactly at the moment that he was supposed to murder, the oracle who predicts the future was standing next to Tom Cruise and telling him that he has the free will and choice to alter the course of action. The oracle was constantly reminding him of his free will and that he does not have to be forced by destiny to do what he is supposed to do. As fate be, Tom Cruise was forced due to his anger to kill the person. Inspite of repeated requests by the oracle to use the power of choice, Tom Cruise subdues to the forces of nature and destiny.

Our life is also like the story of Tom Cruise in the movie. In reality, all the events in our life are pre-destined by the forces of nature acting through the laws of karma. Nature is so powerful that it incites the appropriate emotions and intelligence in our heart at the appropriate time so that we act as per our predestination and fulfill our karmic responsibilities. So if everything is predestined and based on karma, then why bother you ask? Actually, as per the oracle in the movie, we do have the power of free-will and that we do have the capacity to over-turn the predestined events that are supposed to happen. But because karma and nature is so powerful that to change our destiny using our free will on our own is like an ant wishing to move a mountain. It is not possible. In comparison to nature and natural laws of karma, our ability to control our intelligence and emotions is practically nill. Therefore, Sri Krishna says that surrendering unto Him is the only possible way to erase our predestination and pave a new future for ourselves.

The only person who is more powerful than nature is God Himself who created that nature and its concomitant laws. In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna (God) reveals this truth that material nature is under His control and to overcome it is very difficult. Therefore Krishna declares that if you want to benefit yourself, simply surrender unto Me (Krishna) and I (Krishna) will take care of everything.

So what do we do with our free will you ask? We do exactly that, at every moment we must train ourselves to use our free will to depend on Krishna and not depend on our own capabilities of problem solving. The more we become an expert in depending on Krishna for all aspects of life, the more we will be released from our own karmic predestination.

This is the only way by which the power of free will can overcome the forces of nature (including predestination)

Hare Krishna

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

power of maya

In my earlier posts where I talk about falling down of devotees, I once again copy another purport by Srila Prabhupada where he clearly describes the power of maya and the concept of falling down.

We may have a tendancy to find fault and an opportunity may present itself to find fault but we have to practice restraint for no one is exempt from commiting one mistake or the other. A conditioned soul makes mistakes and continues his conditioning, but if a liberated soul gets illusioned and commits mistake, then he or she is sure to fall down. Prabhupada is saying that even a liberated soul will fall down if not careful and if not under the protection of the Lord.

Therefore, it is no wonder that many devotees came to ISKCON, practiced bhakti elevated their consciousness and perhaps by the power of maya gone back to a material consciousness. As practicing devotees, we should not get disturbed and find fault or think the system is not working. Bottom line is anyone can fall victim to Maya and as a lone individual, I have to use my best judgement and care to be vigilant on all sides and pray for protection from the Lord.

Below is the purport by Srila Prabhupada

Not only does the illusory energy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead act on the conditioned soul within this material world, but sometimes it also acts on the most advanced learned scholars, who factually know the constitutional position of this material world through realization. As soon as someone thinks, "I am this material body (ahaḿ mameti [SB 5.5.8]) and everything in relationship with this material body is mine," he is in illusion (moha). This illusion caused by the material energy acts especially on the conditioned souls, but it sometimes also acts on liberated souls as well. A liberated soul is a person who has sufficient knowledge of this material world and is therefore unattached to the bodily conception of life. But because of association with the modes of material nature for a very long time, even liberated souls sometimes become captivated by the illusory energy due to inattentiveness in the transcendental position. Therefore Lord Kṛṣṇa says in Bhagavad-gītā (7.14), mām eva ye prapadyante māyām etāḿ taranti te: "Only those who surrender unto Me can overcome the influence of the material energy." Therefore no one should think of himself as a liberated person immune to the influence of māyā. Everyone should very cautiously execute devotional service by rigidly following regulative principles. Thus he will remain fixed at the lotus feet of the Lord. Otherwise, a little inattention will create havoc. We have already seen an example of this in the case of Mahārāja Bharata. Mahārāja Bharata was undoubtedly a great devotee, but because he turned his attention slightly toward a small deer, he had to suffer two more births, one as a deer and another as the brāhmaṇa Jaḍa Bharata. Afterward he was liberated and went back home, back to Godhead.

The Lord is always prepared to excuse His devotee, but if a devotee takes advantage of the Lord's leniency and purposefully commits mistakes again and again, the Lord will certainly punish him by letting him fall down into the clutches of the illusory energy. In other words, theoretical knowledge acquired by studying the Vedas is insufficient to protect one from the clutches of māyā. One must strongly adhere to the lotus feet of the Lord in devotional service. Then one's position is secure.

- SB 5.18.4

Hare Krishna

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Spontaneous human combustion

Spontaneous human combustion or SHC is a phenomenon where a living human body without an apparent external source of ignition starts to ignite from within spontaneously. SHC is not very well studied or documented by modern science yet as there are not many reported cases to investigate. However, it is a valid phenomenon that is continuing to baffle medical experts and scientists. There are experts on both sides of the fence supporting or rejecting SHC. According to Wikipedia, there have been more than 200 cases documented over a period of 300 years.

The thing that is astounding apart from the spontaneous ignition is that the furniture and other objects proximal to the victim is not damaged or burnt by the high temperatures. Damage is limited only to the victim’s clothing, floor area and furniture. Anyways, SHC is a modern day mystery that is yet to be fully studied.

Although it seems that SHC is a modern day mystery, actually, there is a reference to it in the Bhagavatam. Srimad Bhagavatam is an ancient book spoken 5000 years ago and documented as such. In it, there is a reference to SHC and the nature of it. Please see below.

The material body is a combination of earth, water, fire, air and ether. There is already fire within the body, and our practical experience is that the heat of this fire sometimes increases and sometimes decreases. The fire within the bodies of the sons of Sagara Mahārāja became so much hotter that all of them burned to ashes. The fire's increased heat was due to their misbehavior toward a great personality. Such misbehavior is called mahad-vyatikrama. They were killed by the fire of their own bodies because of insulting a great personality.

SB 9.8.11

Hare Krishna

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

what is kirtanam?

Kirtanam actually means “describing”. You can describe with music, you can describe with words, you can describe in speeches, any sort of describing, that is called kirtanam

- Srila Prabhupada 1966/12/01 New York

Monday, November 21, 2011

falling down

In ISKCON, during and after Srila Prabhupada earthly pastimes, many sanyasis and devotees went back to a material way of life. In other words, they fell down. Seeing devotees fall down can be discouraging to our spiritual life, especially advanced devotees such as sanyasis. In ISKCON’s history, many such sanyasis relinquished their vows. Using this as an excuse, many people (including devotees) find fault with ISKCON as an institution and organization. I think it is important for the leaders to do their best in terms of serving Srila Prabhupada and the mission but at the same time we must also recognize the power of material nature. We have to be careful before we find fault with fallen devotees or criticize the management. Of course, it is easy to criticize than to be the change agent.

Because material nature is as good as Krishna (very powerful), very easily, we can fall a victim to it. Devotees, I am sure with all best intentions start their spiritual careers but sometimes unable to withstand give into material desires and temptations. When we see such dubious devotees, to protect our own devotional creeper, we can stay away (aloof) from them. If we are spiritually strong, we can offer to help. But fault finding does not help anyone. In fact finding fault, we will go down in time. To illustrate my point on how material nature is so powerful and no one is exempt from Her clutches, below is a purport written by Srila Prabhupada on how two very powerful and greatest mystic yogis fell down to become birds. This narration, if anything, is an indication that if such great yogis can fall down into maya, we as neophytes can easily falter. So our only hope is to humble ourselves always in front of Krishna requesting His shelter. We should internally show compassion to souls who have fallen down and pray that one day they come back into Krishna’s service, we should be careful before we find fault with devotees who make or made mistakes.

Viśvāmitra and Vasiṣṭha were always inimical. Formerly, Viśvāmitra was a kṣatriya, and by undergoing severe austerities he wanted to become a brāhmaṇa, but Vasiṣṭha would not agree to accept him. In this way there was always disagreement between the two. Later, however, Vasiṣṭha accepted him because of Viśvāmitra's quality of forgiveness. Once Hariścandra performed a yajña for which Viśvāmitra was the priest, but Viśvāmitra, being angry at Hariścandra, took away all his possessions, claiming them as a contribution of dakṣiṇā. Vasiṣṭha, however, did not like this, and therefore a fight arose between Vasiṣṭha and Viśvāmitra. The fighting became so severe that each of them cursed the other. One of them said, "May you become a bird," and the other said, "May you become a duck." Thus both of them became birds and continued fighting for many years because of Hariścandra. We can see that such a great mystic yogī as Saubhari became a victim of sense gratification, and such great sages as Vasiṣṭha and Viśvāmitra became birds. This is the material world.
-SB 9.7.7 – purport by Srila Prabhupada

Sage Vasistha and Vishwamitra muni were spiritual masters for Lord Ramachandra. If they both can fall down due to anger, then what is our chance? Therefore, there will be devotees falling down and we should not be disturbed by it but rather should convince ourselves to not be careless in our spiritual duties and if by Krishna’s mercy I fall down sometime, I simply have to get up and get back on the saddle of chanting and hearing. There is no other atonement in this age.

Hare Krishna

Sunday, November 20, 2011

simply chanting Hare Krishna will relieve us from all suffering

Even if one is sinful and cannot give up sinful life immediately, if he chants the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra with devotion and faith he will certainly be freed from all sinful activities, and his life will be successful. Paraḿ vijayate śrī-kṛṣṇa-sańkīrtanam. This is the blessing of Lord Rāmacandra, who has appeared in this age of Kali as Lord Gaurasundara.

- Srila Prabhupada purport SB 9.10.51

Following my theme from previous posts, this is yet another purport by Srila Prabhupada on how simply chanting the Hare Krishna maha mantra will relieve one of all unnecessary desires and activities. In other words, if we somehow cultivate devotion and faith in Krishna and His names despite our negative qualities, eventually we will be free from these qualities and make our life successful.

Hare Krishna

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Faults of others

When you are offended at any man's fault, turn to yourself and study your own failings. Then you will forget your anger.

- Epictetus AD 55 - AD 135 - Greek sage and philosopher

Look within. Amend yourself, rather than pry into the frailties of others. When faults in others misguide and delude you - have patience, introspect, find faults in yourself. Know that others cannot harm you unless you harm yourself.

- Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Goswami - AD 1874 - AD 1937 - Vaishnava saint and philosopher

Hare Krishna

Devotional mentality takes precedence, not rules

The Supreme Personality of Godhead is known as bhāva-grāhī janārdana because He takes only the essence of a devotee's attitude. If a devotee sincerely surrenders, the Lord, as the Supersoul in everyone's heart, immediately understands this. Thus even though, externally, a devotee may not render full service, if he is internally sincere and serious the Lord welcomes his service nonetheless. Thus the Lord is known as bhāva-grāhī janārdana because He takes the essence of one's devotional mentality.

- SB 8.23.2 - Purport by Srila Prabhupada

This quote, i think, forms the foundation for bhakti yoga. Our sincere efforts to please the Lord and the Lord's consequential mercy upon us forms the basis of our advancement in Krishna consciousness. One cannot go without the other. I also think when Srila Prabhupada was physically present in this world, he practiced this point to the core. No matter how ragged or far-off an individual was, if that individual had some inclination for sincere service (in whatever form or shape) towards Krishna, Srila Prabhupada being the expert fanned that small spark of service to a forest fire. To do that, Srila Prabhupada took the most humble position, tolerated our misgivings (in other words did not care for our negative qualities) and was ready to facilitate at any level as long the individual person performed his or her sincere service. To actually bow down and humble oneself to help a person advance in their sincerity/service towards Krishna is real preaching and this type of preaching pleases the Lord. Also, this exhibits one's love for the other. This love between individuals forms the bond and strength against adversities in this material world and helps us stay focused in Krishna consciousness. Srila Prabhupada, therefore, was and is the glue for this whole movement because he was unabashed in his love by patiently teaching us to render some (small or big) service to Krishna. People took note of this love.

Unfortunately, in today's ISKCON (and this is strictly my experience), we have become more inclined towards following rules and regulations detached from this mood of loving dealings and judge devotees as "advanced" based on one's ability to strictly follow rules. By loving dealings, I do not mean just words of sweetness or politeness at all times...I mean a genuine desire to show concern for others based on philosophical and spiritual values.

If we want to cultivate a worldwide community, then we have to follow in the footsteps of Srila Prabhupada in that we should be ready to tolerate others misgivings and at the same time genuinely encourage them to perform some service to Krishna according to their natural capacity. This does not require management training or workshops...all it requires is a genuine feeling or desire to help others get closer to Krishna. If we display this quality of affection and tolerance, devotional mentality will automatically grow in us and in others. In this devotional atmosphere, the desire to follow rules will automatically follow.

In essence, rules are secondary to cultivating devotional mentality and not the other way round. As followers of ISKCON, we have to help people increase their devotional mentality (bhava) towards God, then, once we successfully do that in an individual, automatically the individual will gradually develop the desire to follow the rules to make further progress. I believe the current ISKCON has to create an atmosphere (by that I mean the local leaders should lead from the front) where the followers feel welcomed and their natural propensity to serve the Lord (in devotion) be aroused. I feel this is lacking and hence contrary to the purport above.

Hare Krishna

Monday, November 14, 2011

Rules and regulations will follow – just chant Hare Krishna

So far rigid regulations and rules are concerned, in the beginning, of course we do not find such opportunities to strictly follow but still we should not give so much attention for the regulations or strict rules and regulations but we must see how much a person is advancing in Krishna consciousness. That we have to see. And if we go on criticizing everyone oh…you are not doing this…you are not doing that…so many things according to Vedic culture…there may be so many things…but we are not concerned…as far as possible people should be given chance to develop Krishna consciousness. Srila Rupa Goswami one of the big acharyas, he says,

yena tena prakarena
manah krsne nivesayet
sarve vidhi-nisedhah syur
etayor eva kinkarah
- Nectar of Devotion

the first business is somehow or other people should be Krishna conscious so far rules and regulations are concerned if one takes to that line of activities Krishna consciousness then all things all regulations will follow just like a servant follows a master. If the master starts, the servant follows. Similarly these things rules and regulations…that will follow automatically. Because he has taken to Krishna consciousness, very soon he will become perfect pious man. This process will help you. Don’t be too much anxious that I am not in such a way …I am not in such a way…whatever way you may be…you just take to Krishna consciousness…very easy thing.

If you take this Krishna consciousness chanting Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare/Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare very sincerely and regularly as far as possible by following the rules and regulations…this Krishna consciousness will help you to become a perfect and pious man very soon. Anyway if somebody takes to Krishna consciousness naturally and generally it will be found that he is becoming gradually perfect pious man, perfect knowledge man. This is the process.

Srila Prabhupada lecture - New York 1966-12-20

Hare Krishna

Friday, November 11, 2011

Imperfect senses

When we say our senses are imperfect and limited, people frown. Once I was in a meeting on science and religion and I was speaking. I said our senses are "flawed" in the senses that it does not tell us the whole story. However, the listeners were offended that I used the word "flawed".

But the truth is our senses are extremely limited in capacity. So if the senses are so limited and that we cannot percieve objects, information and knowledge beyond certain time, space and dimension, then how are we to explain the whole universe in one theory? I think it is rather arrogant to even think we have the capacity to put everything in one theory when in fact we need the assistance of a mirror or another person to see our own back.

My point is our senses are limited and hence deceptive and hence not trustworthy. The knowledge we gather through these imperfect senses are highly questionable especially in search of a sublime truth such as GOD. Therefore the Vedic masters recommend hearing from authoritative self-realized teachers who can see the truth and impart it to their submissive listeners.

Anyways...to prove my point that our senses can decieve us, below are three pictures that seems like one thing when it is not. There is something present right in front of the picture but not readily discernible...find it!!


Hare Krishna

Friday, November 4, 2011

What is initiation?

In question time, a young devotee inquired about the importance of accepting formal initiation. Such initiation, Prabhupada explained, meant to officially agree to abide by the orders of Krsna and His representative.

"Officially accept: 'Yes, sir, I shall accept. I shall do whatever you say.' This is initiation, official acceptance of the job. That's all. Now you formally accept and if you do not do the duties, then where is the question of another function? There is no question. Initiation means this is the beginning of accepting the orders of Krsna and His representative. This is the beginning. This is initiation. Just like if you enter an office establishment, so you accept the terms of service. That is initiation. Then you go on serving. You become promoted. You get salary increase. You become recognised. You become officer. You become big officer, like that. That very word initiation suggests 'This is the beginning'.

- Srila Prabhupada - From "The Great Transcendental Adventure" by HG Kurma Prabhu

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

What is Knowledge?

This kind of experience (referring to knowledge) you will find even in ordinary man, even in bird. They have some sort of specific intelligence or knowledge. That is not knowledge. You will find even in animals that there are wonderful activities which we cannot perform. That is not knowledge. Knowledge means to understand SPIRIT and MATTER. That is knowledge.

-Srila Prabhupada lecture New York 01-04-1967

This definition of knowledge given by Srila Prabhupada is a stark difference from modern day definition of knowledge. In today’s world, knowledge is simply collection of information and the ability to repeat the information in a timely manner much like a computer. Knowledge also refers to any skill or art one possesses as a result of this information & subsequent training he or she gathers. This is knowledge from the perspective of modern day world.

According to the great spiritual teachers of the Vedic tradition, knowledge is the ability to find the root cause of all causes, thus finding one frees oneself from the problems of life. Actually, in one sense, modern day philosophers and scientists are also in quest of the same truth – that is – to find the root cause and solution to problems of life. But their attempts end in frustration because they do not distinguish SPIRIT from MATTER and thus operate solely on the material platform.

When we intellectually perceive the presence of something “OTHER” than the normal operations of matter, and we start to enquire into that something “OTHER”, this enquiry is the beginning of knowledge. This enquiry will ultimately lead us through a path where we can find the root cause of all causes. While every singular individual living being has to undertake the journey of enquiry (like flying our own plane), there are perfect enlightened masters ready to guide us through this journey. Seeking guidance from these enlightened masters, if we take up this journey of enquiry we will ultimately reach to the point where we can distinguish SPIRIT from MATTER. At this enlightened stage, we will see all beings equally and neither hanker for the future nor lament for the past. Continuing on the enlightened stage, we will stop our journey when we find KRISHNA or SUPREME SPIRIT.

Along this continuum of enquiry from MATTER to SPIRIT to KRISHNA, there are innumerable theories and philosophies. This singular non-dual entity KRISHNA where all conflicts resolve and beyond which there is no more enquiry and hence the root cause of all causes, is the destination and pinnacle of all knowledge & problems of life- for all seekers, scientists and philosophers.

Hare Krishna