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

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