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

Monday, December 31, 2012

Polygamy - a Vedic Perspective

Recently, someone asked me a question on the Vedic views of polygamy. Below was my answer.

Polygamy can be seen from a social standpoint and also from a spiritual standpoint.

Explanation from spiritual standpoint: 

From SB 5.5.18, we understand that a man should not accept a wife (even one wife) if he cannot deliver his wife from the cycle of birth and death. The only way to deliver a soul from samsara is if the husband and wife both put Krishna in the center and serve Krishna. This is the goal of Grahastha Ashram otherwise a marriage solely for each other's pleasure (husband and wife's pleasure) is called grihamedhi (please refer to SB 3.32.1 for definition of grihamedhi). Unfortunately, marriage in the 21st century is solely done to enjoy as husband and wife. Such marriages are against Vedic injunctions.

Explanation from social standpoint: 

"According to our Vedic process, polygamy is allowed. For example, Krishna married sixteen thousand wives, Arjuna married three or four wives, Krishna's father, Vasudeva, married sixteen or eighteen wives, like that. So according to the Vedic system, polygamy is not prohibited, but it is not a farce also. Every wife must be provided for sufficiently. Krishna married sixteen thousand wives, but each wife was provided a palace, and He was personally present at each palace. It does not mean to marry many wives and maintain none of them. If anyone is able to keep more than one wife and give them all comforts of life there is no objection for having more than one wife. But if he creates trouble by marrying, he should not marry even one wife." - Srila Prabhupada - from the Book The Great Transcendental Adventure by Kurma Dasa

The basic point is, from a social standpoint, women are to be protected and if in a community there are more women than men, then one man can marry more than one women simply to prevent women from being abused and misused by unscrupulous men. However, if the man who is marrying cannot properly satisfy the women in all aspects (including mentally and emotionally), then the man is prohibited from marrying more than one wife. In the above quote, Srila Prabhupada is saying that a man should not even marry if he is a troublemaker for even one wife what to speak of more than one.

Therefore, to sum up;

  1. The goal of marriage is to put Krishna in the center and deliver one from the cycle of birth and death. Anything not this, is not marriage or a farce as Prabhupada mentions. 
  2. Men can marry more than one women ONLY if the man can satisfy all wives equally without causing trouble even to one wife. In the above quote, Srila Prabhupada gives example of how great Kings and the Supreme Lord Himself accepted because they were highly competent to satisfy all wives equally. Ordinary human beings of this day and age cannot even satisfy one wife, what to speak of many.
Hare Krishna

Sunday, December 30, 2012

My prayers to the rape victim

In the last two or three days I was following the story on the rape incident in India and it has stirred up some emotions within me to the point where I was not able to focus on my chanting.The trauma the victim must have endured was flashing in my mind every time I close my eyes to chant.

I could only seek shelter in Krishna and pray for the departed soul. I pray that the Lord gives her a better opportunity to come closer to Him.

I am not sure what to say about the status of Indian culture at this point. I think it is at a dismal low, which clearly points to the gradual degradation that was happening in the last half century. The rape incident is simply a facet of that devolution of culture. People are bombarded with sexual overtones and hence sexual perversion has become a sub-culture in India right from when a student enters high school and then into college. The best part is such sexual perversion and promiscuity is romanticized in pretty much every Indian movie and other popular media such as television and internet. This is a problem because movies, television and internet has the deepest impact on the psyche of an individual as it is a visual media. Such romanticization is a direct result of Godless civilization and the failure of parents educating their children on the importance of true spiritual values.

Simply punishing criminals after the fact is not going to change the current perverted culture of India. Unless the leaders of society understand and revive the values of spiritual life as enunciated in India's greatest spiritual treasures' such as Bhagavad Gita and other transcendental books, I do not foresee any change in consciousness among the Indian populace.

Hare Krishna

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

St Francis of Assisi

Yesterday was the celebration of the birth of Lord Jesus Christ. Following in his footsteps was another saint by name Francis of Assisi. He lived in 12th century AD in a small town called Assisi in Italy. He lived a life of a monk and desired the well being of all creatures of God.

From Krishna consciousness philosophy, we understand that it is the mood and devotion of the person that attracts God and not how you look, what you wear, how you speak or what religion you profess. So from God's perspective, the externals are not important but the inner mood of service is what counts. In Krishna consciousness, we try to cultivate this inner mood of humility, prayer and service to the Lord Almighty. Henceforth anyone who nurtures and portrays deep humility and service, we consider them our spiritual preceptor. St Francis is one such divine personality who portrayed humility and service towards the creation of God, thus glorifying God.

On the day of remembrance of Christ, we reflect on the prayer of one of his faithful followers- St Francis.

Prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi 

Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace!
That where there is hatred, I may bring love.
That where there is wrong, I may bring the spirit of forgiveness.
That where there is discord, I may bring harmony.
That where there is error, I may bring truth.
That where there is doubt, I may bring faith.
That where there is despair, I may bring hope.
That where there are shadows, I may bring light.
That where there is sadness, I may bring joy.

Lord, grant that I may seek rather to comfort, than to be comforted.
To understand, than to be understood.
To love, than to be loved.

For it is by self-forgetting that one finds.
It is by forgiving that one is forgiven.
It is by dying that one awakens to Eternal Life.

—Saint Francis of Assisi

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Culture of Objectification

Last week there was a deadly shooting in an elementary school in the USA. The whole country is grieving the death of innocent children. It was and is a very sad incident indeed. Now, politically, the issue of gun control has taken serious shape to address such mindless shooting.

Personally, I think such political solutions can yield little longterm effects. The reason I say that is because the entire culture is steeped in passion and ignorance. The Bhagavad Gita (BG 14.13; BG 17.19) teaches us that people in ignorance live a life of madness, and illusion. They destroy or injure others. When the entire culture or civilization is geared towards objectification, then such a culture promotes passion and ignorance. Today, everything is objectified - relationships, love, education, career, political leadership, food, and other sociological phenomenon. What is wrong with that, one may ask? The wrong here is,  as a result of objectification, the sanctity of the spirit is removed. In other words, when we see another individual or animal as an "object" of my sensual or mental gratification, then we fail to see them as a sacred spiritual being put on earth to fulfill a particular purpose. We also fail to recognize God behind that spirit. The result therefore is exploit, abuse and in worst cases kill for instant gratification.

For example, in the USA alone, approximately one million babies are aborted in the womb of the mother every year. More than 10 billion land animals and approximately 50 billion aquatic animals are slaughtered per year. These are staggering numbers. I have not even touched upon the aspect of deforestation, drilling, pollution of all kinds and other dangerous industrial practices that take the planet to a tailspin, all in the name of technology and economic development.

If we are lamenting for 20 children killed in a deadly shooting, then an honest person has to also lament for the billions of slaughtered animals and the destruction of natural resources. Why such mindlessness towards other living beings and nature? it is simply our obsession with objectification. We objectify everything thus eliminating the sanctity of the soul/spirit inside a human being, animal, or plant. This is especially visible during Christmas time where people are obsessed with gifts and completely ignoring the message of Jesus Christ.

Our inner desire and consciousness has an impact on the environment and the culture of the place. When the entire population is after "objects" and no respect for the "being", then, life or spirit in its truest sense takes a back seat. Therefore, a shooting of this fashion is but a byproduct of modern day material culture.

Therefore, unless we start seeing our fellow human beings, animals, plants and other natural resources as spiritual entities part of God's creation and approach them in a mood of love, service and stewardship, such mindless acts of violence towards humans, animals and plants will not stop!

Hare Krishna

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Bhakti is what is missing!

In India there are no shortage of scholars and speakers, erudite enough to poetically narrate in detail the pastimes of Lord Ramachandra or Lord Krishna. There are also so many vedantists who can philosophically narrate the conclusions of the Gita or other deeply studied Upanishads. The general masses are awed by such transcendental presentations that they are convinced that the scholars, vedantists and so called renunciates are speaking Tattva or Truth. But yet if we closely analyse, none of the audience members who listen transform their hearts based on these erudite presentations. By and large, they come in paying admission fee, listen to lectures as a form of intellectual entertainment, speculate with fellow-listeners and then go back home to fulfill the cravings of the mind and body. These professional reciters although very scholarly have failed because they cannot change any listener's hearts. The fact that modern day India is seriously devoid of proper understanding of God and His creation is a testimonial to this fact.

So the question is how come these so called professional scholars and vedantists are unable to transform people's lives? Krishna tells that to Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita. Krishna says, because you (Arjuna) are my friend and devotee, I (the Supreme Godhead) reveal to you Tattva or Truth. Everybody else is not previewed to this classified information.

Therefore, the missing link in modern day is not the abundance of monastic order or philosophical discourses, what is missing is pure devotion. We need pure devotees who can present Tattva or truth in its ripest and purest form. Srila Prabhupada has taught us that by chanting Hare Krishna mahamantra, following the four regulative principles and by eating only Prasadam, one can attain the infinite blessing of a Pure Devotee of the Lord. By doing so, a lame man can cross mountains and a dumb man can become an eloquent speaker, eloquent enough to inspire others to surrender to Govinda.

Hare Krishna.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

How to know if the Absolute Truth is Krishna?

Q: The devotees had preached to me that the Absolute Truth, which I, from my reading in yoga philosophy, impersonally called "universal presence," was actually Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and His consort, Radharani. How is it that this universal presence which is humanly inconceivable, how can it have the form of Radha and Krsna?"

A:  Srila Prabhupada very distinctly answered, “By His mercy.” But then he spoke loudly, “You cannot make the sun rise, and similarly you cannot make God appear before you to answer your doubts! But you just associate with these nice boys and girls here, chant this Hare Krsna mantra, eat krsna-prasadam, study my books scrutinizingly, and engage yourself in a little service, and then the Lord will reveal Himself to you from within your heart, in His own time, by His own sweet will, with all His name, fame, form, pastimes, paraphernalia, and entourage.”

From "Prabhupada-lila" by HH Satsvarupa dasa Goswami

Monday, December 3, 2012

St Teresa of Avila

Let nothing disturb you.
Let nothing make you afraid.
All things are passing.
God alone never changes.
Patience gains all things.
If you have God you will want for nothing.
God alone suffices.

- St Teresa of Avila

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Emperor of Saints

Two weeks back, followers of Srila Prabhupada, celebrated his disappearance day - a man in my opinion who single handedly reached out to the world in genuine compassion and a desire to elevate people to a spiritual consciousness of life, specifically called Krishna consciousness. A man despite repeated failures, personal health problems and myriad obstacles did not stop till the goal was reached.

Prabhupada perfectly fits the famous quote of Swami Vivekananda - Arise, Awake and Stop not till the goal is reached. Of course Prabhupada was always transcendental and very much awake from mundane dualities. However the way he pursued his goal is what appeals to my psyche. His goal was to distribute the topmost spiritual treasure to the mundane masses for a very minimal fee. The highest spiritual treasure is love of God and the minimal fee is chanting 16 rounds of the Hare Krishna Maha mantra. He tirelessly traveled around the globe 14 times at a ripe age of seventy, tirelessly wrote more than 80 volumes of transcendental literature and opened more than 100 temples across the globe.

In my opinion, the difference between Prabhupada and all the sadhus and swamis of India is that Prabhupada was not just satisfied that he become liberated but he was concerned more for the suffering of his fellow men that he wanted them also liberated. In India, there are many renunciates and sadhus who practice intense austerities such as no sleep or food and claim union with divine through contact with Brahman. They also claim to have the powers to heal the sick, see the past & future, solve material problems of their devotees etc. However, none of them have the power or capacity to liberate their sympathizers from birth and death through purification of material desires and cultivation of bhakti to Govinda. Unless one abandons material desires and cultivate devotional tendencies towards Mukunda, there is no question of mukti or liberation from material suffering.

There is no sadhu or swami now or in the past from India or anywhere who can parallel Prabhuada’s feat of converting so many hippies all over the world into genuine lovers of God completely free from intoxication, drugs, meat eating, gambling and illicit sex. One cannot genuinely love God unless one has the experience of the Divine and that experience was practically possible only by the mercy and purity of a divine saint such as Srila Prabhupada. This is not merely a sentiment but a fact.

So sadhus may come and sadhus may go (especially in India) but Prabhupada’s contribution and glory will go on forever. Any man who is serious to understand the science of God has to come under the umbrella of Prabhupada for he presents the highest principles of spiritual life in the most simplest form to the most common man of this world. It only takes the onlooker to accept with folded palms. No other saint, swami or sadhu can take such a credit.

Henceforth, in my humble opinion, His Divine Grace Abhay Charanaravinda Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada stands out among saints as the Emperor of Saints and all other saints including their followers should prostrate at his lotus feet – the etymology of his name - at whose lotus feet (pada) all masters (prabhus) sit.

As far as I am concerned, I will bow down to his lotus feet now and forever!

Jai Srila Prabhupada!!

Hare Krishna

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Giri Govardhan Maharaj ki jay!

Today is the most auspicious day where Krishna lifts Giri Govardhan to protect His devotees from Lord Indra's wrath. The story goes something like this.

Lord Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead who controls and maintains this universe. Lord Indra is the secondary ruler subservient to Krishna. However, Lord Indra became proud of his powers and Krishna to teach Him a good lesson dissuaded the residents of Vrindavan from paying their dues to Indra. Instead Krishna ordered the residents to pay their respects to the Hill Govardhan for Govardhan provided all fruits, herbs, and vegetables for the cows and people. So saying this, Krishna with all the residents prepared enormous amounts of food to offer to Govardhan. It is said that Krishna is non-different from Govardhan Hill. So all the offering that were made was partaken by Krishna in the form of the Hill. This is one of His mystical pastimes. The residents all were satisfied seeing Krishna happy and went back to their respective homes.

Because Krishna denied Indra his respect, intoxicated with power and forgetting Krishna's Supremacy, decided to kill the residents of Vrindavan by sending torrents of rain. Krishna, in order to protect the residents, decided to lift the Hill as an umbrella with His left pinky finger so all of the residents could come and stand beneath for protection. It was during this time that Srimati Radharani and Krishna exchanged loving glances for seven consecutive days - the duration Krishna lifted the Hill.

Finally Indra comes to his senses and seeks forgiveness from Krishna. To commemorate this wonderful pastime and to remember Krishna's love for His devotees, devotees of Krishna across the world offer numerous food items for Krishna in the form of Govardhan.

For my part I decided to do the same.

Initially I wanted to cook on saturday but then I got inspired to cook today as it is this day Krishna displayed His super human act of lifting the Hill. So I decided to cook today. Below are the pictures my wife took of the items I offered. 

A total of five offerings plus water. I offered sooji halava, blackforest cake, kichdi, samosa and cucumber raita

 I made halava the Hill with Radha and Krishna on top.

I offered mixed vegetable kichdi.

A black & white photo rendering by my wife of the kichdi, blackforest cake with Tulsi Maharani in the background.

Just the black forest cake with Tulsi Maharani in the background.

A slice of the cake.


Hare Krishna

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Pleasing Krishna is our goal of life

We must not be disappointed that no one is hearing Krsna consciousness. We will say it to the moon and stars and all directions. We will cry in the wilderness, because Krsna is everywhere. We want to get a certificate from Krsna that, "This man has done something for Me.' Not popularity. If a pack of asses says you are good, what is that? We have to please Krsna's senses with purified senses.

- Srila Prabhupada

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

There is enough doubt in modern scientific theories that...

Modern scientists are very proud of their scientific advancement. They may have made advancement in making things faster, smaller and efficient, but still science has not answered with categorical difference to fundamental questions such as - where did we come from? and how was the universe created? Despite so called advancements, scientists are yet to find conclusive answers. Of course, they have their speculative theories, however mere speculations and suggestive evidences cannot be considered science. There is enough doubt in modern science today concerning fundamental ideas of existence that we have to rely on answers elsewhere. Below is a discussion where H.H.Danavir Goswami is exposing the gaps in modern scientific theories and methods.

Professor Uetola: But the point I am trying to make is that if I am not wrong, in the Bhagavatam it speaks of quite perverted positions of the sun, earth and moon asserting that the sun is closer to the earth than is the moon. What would prove to you that the Puranic description of these planets is defective, wrong? And if it were proven to you that the sun was further from the earth than the moon, what implications would that produce in turn for the followers of the Bhagavatam?

H.H.Danavir Goswami: Necessary and sufficient conditions. Quite scientific - how do they measure distances in space? How will I know that the space vehicle is actually going as fast as it is said? How is that provable to me? How can I be sure? It is said that the spaceship is travelling so fast...

Prof Uetola: 2,000

H.H.Danavir Goswami: Okay, 2,000 miles per hour. How can I be sure that the spaceship is actually going that fast and covering so much distance? How can we verify that? I am going to be a very demanding scientist now. That is the first concern. I want to be sure that the method of calculating distance and speed is something verifiable. Not that I just have to take someone's word for it, that is not science.

Just as a courtroom judge does not accept derelicts or bribed witnesses, similarly, I will require substantial and trustworthy witnesses who are not supported and paid by the scientists and politicians. Then while these persons are up there on the moon, they should display something grand which could be readily observable by scientists and laymen on earth. Then I would have some faith that they went to the moon. Otherwise Star Wars showed that you can make something appear to be real in space when in truth it is not necessarily that way.

The next item. In order to scientifically prove that the moon is indeed closer to the earth than is the sun, we would require someone to go to the sun also and measure the distance. That may be a little difficult. (laughs). The spaceship will burn up. By the method of pratyaksha, direct perception, it is not possible to prove because you would have to come back with this distance meter, and nobody will come back from the sun. After visiting the sun, none of our earthlings will make it back what to speak of the airplane. 

There is no verifiable evidence to prove that theories which may have some validity under certain conditions such as red shift and Doppler will apply in outer space where those necessary conditions may be absent. Who is able to say that those conditions are present in outer space without having been there? Modern scientists may hope so but hoping is not science. Modern science has taken help from Hollywood in staging its mind-grabbing galactic theories which have no proof. Each year dubious quasars find themselves further away from tiny earth, now more than 16 billion light years away. That's pretty interesting and attractive stuff but there is no evidence - just total speculation. And yet because scientists have invented some big words, and the Hubble telescope - they say that this is science and we have to accept it. If you don't accept it then you are hopelessly ignorant.

Darwin's theory is of the same principle. Dig up some bones and interpret what happened millions of years ago. How do you know? You are here with only some bones and your speculative bias. 

Hare Krishna

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Invisible spirit

The power to see does not come from the eye, the power to hear does not come from the ear, nor the power to feel from the nerves; but it is the spirit of man that sees through the eye, hears with the ear, and feels by means of the nerves. Wisdom and reason and thought are not contained in the brain, but belong to the invisible spirit which feels through the heart and thinks by means of the brain.

- Paracelsus 15th century philosopher

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Maya provides infinite opportunities

I was thinking and this thought came to me. I thought I can record this.

Srila Prabhupada once said, I remember reading, that Maya or the creative energy of the Lord is good as the Lord. Maya Shakti is a shadow of Lord Krishna. Just as Krishna is unlimited, so is His shadow Maya. The main purpose Krishna uses Maya is to make sure the living beings continue to be in illusion within this world. Why, one may ask? Because the living beings do not want to surrender to Lord Krishna, therefore, Krishna has created this elaborate labyrinth of space within this material creation so living beings can imitate Krishna and continue to enjoy. When we voluntarily decide to give up this enjoying tendency, then Krishna will remove His Maya Shakti upon us. So on our own, we cannot come out of Maya. We have to surrender to Krishna to get out of this labyrinth.

On the flip side, whoever does not want to give up enjoying, can create infinite opportunities to enjoy within this material creation or this Kingdom of Maya. There are infinite opportunities because Maya is unlimited as the shadow of Krishna. The only pitfall is that Maya is temporary. Therefore while we may enjoy the infinite opportunities to exploit Maya and come on top and feel euphoric of ourselves, still it is temporary. This temporariness is the ultimate truth here. This temporariness will hit us one day as death. So a sober individual will not voluntarily experiment the infinite opportunities within the Kingdom of Maya and become intoxicated, rather He will see through the dense fog of temporary realities and reach out for a permanent solution. That permanence can be found only in Krishna.

Hare Krishna

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Benefits of the month of Kartik

The month of Kartik started this tuesday and goes on for one month till the 28th of next month. It is also called the month of Damodar lila where Lord Krishna as a baby causes trouble that His mother had to tie Him to a wooden grinding mortar with ropes around His belly, thus the name Damodara. God who is all pervasive allows His devotee to tie Him. It is very endearing pastime and one that can be recounted often.

Below are the benefits of this month. Once Srila Prabhupada said the month of Kartik is like a sale on the ship where things are cheaper. Similarly we can make more progress spiritually if we take shelter of Lord Damodara this month.

“When one offers a lamp during the month of Karttika, his sins in many thousands and millions of births perish in half an eye blink.” 

“Please hear the glories of offering a lamp during pleasing to Lord Kesava. O King of brahmanas, a person who offers a lamp in this way will not take birth again in this world.” 

“By offering a lamp during the month of Karttika one attains a pious result ten million times greater than the result obtained by bathing at Kuruksetra during a solar eclipse or by bathing in the river Narmada during a lunar eclipse.” 

“A person who during the month of Karttika offers a lamp to Lord Kesava has already performed all yajnas and bathing in all holy rivers. ” 

“The ancestors say: When someone in our family pleases Lord Kesava by offering to Him a lamp during the month of Karttika, then, by the mercy of the Lord who holds the Sudarsana-cakra in His Hand, we will all attain liberation.” 

“By offering a lamp during the month of Karttika one burns away a collection of sins as big as Mount Meru or Mount Mandara. Of this there is no doubt.” 

“A person who offers a lamp during the month of Karttika attains a result that cannot be obtained with even a hundred yajnas or a hundred pilgrimages.” 

“A person who offers a lamp to Lord Krishna during Karttika attains the eternal spiritual world where there is no suffering.” 

All glories to beautiful Lordship Sri Sri Radha Damodarji! 

All glories to the month of Kartik! 

Hare Krishna

Thursday, October 25, 2012

the soul is independent of the physical universe

We have been saying all along quoting the Bhagavad Gita that we are spirit souls (consciousness) beyond our physical body and mind. Below is a quote from a neurosurgeon from Harvard University.

"For me, it's become clear that the best way to look at it is to turn it around and realize that consciousness exists in a much richer form, free and independent of the brain, which has everything to do with the eternity of our souls and the fact that our awareness, our consciousness, our soul, our spirit, does not depend on the existence of the brain in the physical universe. In fact, it's freed up to a much richer knowing when we're outside"

- Eben Alexander Neurosurgeon Harvard

Quotes such as these prove that modern science despite its advances has yet to understand the mystery of the soul/consciousness. If what he is saying is true, then our whole modern living based on science and technology is founded on wrong footing.

If a man of science testifies the existence of the soul, then I think it adds value to the deeper wisdom found in the Bhagavad Gita.

Hare Krishna

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

why is there so much fighting in today's world?

There is so much global strife today. Iran, Israel, USA, N.Korea, India, Pakistan, China, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, etc etc all are fighting for geo-political reasons. Yet you will not find people quitting politics because it is a problem. However, when the same fighting happens in the name of Religion by some dogmatic followers, then we will find common man rejecting God. We also witness lot of strife at the domestic level within households thus the increase in number of divorces. Where I live, the probability of getting divorced is close to one in two. So there is quarrel at every level of existence from macro to micro.

This is but natural in this age. Why is this natural one may ask? Why is there so much warring attitude even at the slightest provocation? Why are people averse to the idea of God?

Srila Prabhupada has many times mentioned that if we do not try to understand God and call out His Names, then we are no better than cats and dogs. He says cats and dogs because we cultivate animal consciousness. Animals maintain their status quo by eating, sleeping, mating and ultimately fighting for defense. If we as human beings also do the same albeit in a sophisticated and glorified manner, what is the difference between us and animals?  We know how devastating it can be when human beings kill each other in the name of defense? One only has to look into the annals of history to verify the number of wars civilized man has fought.

Srimad Bhagavatam, a spiritual literature, gives us the answer as to why this is the case.

One who identifies his self as the inert body composed of mucus, bile and air, who assumes his wife and family are permanently his own, who thinks an earthen image or the land of his birth is worshipable, or who sees a place of pilgrimage as merely the water there, but who never identifies himself with, feels kinship with, worships or even visits those who are wise in spiritual truth — such a person is no better than a cow or an ass. - SB 10.84.13

So as long as we are convinced we are this body made of flesh and blood, we will glorify this body through wife, house and land, and fight for it at the slightest provocation just like a cat or a dog. Mundane religiosity or economic development is not the answer. The answer is to approach a bonafide spiritual master and inquire from him submissively. Then we practice what we inquire and transcend our bodily/mental urges. Only this can give peace and ultimately happiness..

Hare Krishna

Monday, October 22, 2012

Appreciate devotees

Everyone should appreciate the value of other devotees. Nobody should criticize anyone. Because everyone is engaged in the service of the Lord, according to one's capacity, and the thing is, Krishna wants to see how much one is sincere in rendering Him service. Materially we may think that his service is greater than his, that is our material vision.

- Srila Prabhupada Letter to Tamala Krishna, Montreal, August 19, 1968

Friday, October 19, 2012

Society of cheater and cheated

United States is currently in the midst of selecting its President. The candidates mostly talk about topics such as lowering tax rates, health care insurance premiums, budget deficit, war strategies etc. As a lay person, I cannot intellectually tell the difference between 5% tax cut versus 20% just as much as I would not know anything about my car if it had problems.

Common man who has the power to vote a leader, is doing so with such little intellectual discrimination. There is some information and knowledge sharing but these heavy topics of economics, health, politics and war are beyond the understanding of common man. This is the truth. Unfortunately, politicians take advantage by speaking half truths. They present themselves externally as nice, suave, and lovable human being who cares for everyone. They talk with such conviction and articulation that they sweep off one's feet and carry them to euphoric and phantasmagorical states of future existence.  Common man not caring to go deeper than the external veneer is happy to vote his candidate based on external performance. Four year roles and the whole circus of promises continue. People like to hear those promises and so the shallow idea of democracy continues!

In my opinion, therefore, democracy cannot work because there are no leaders who are ready to speak the truth and no people to hear it. And I have not even touched on lobbyists and other vested power holders. Therefore, we live in a society of cheaters and cheated. If we objectively use facts and data to assess the current situation, in the past 30 or 40 years, one can safely say on a global basis, leaders have failed their people. Below is one picture to illustrate my point.

According to the chart, an estimate of 5 billion (80%) of the World's population earn less than $10.00 a day. In India, the situation is worse. As of 2011, according to World Bank, an estimated 850 million people earn less than $2 per day in India. That is 70% of the total population of India and almost three times the population of USA. It is indeed deplorable to see such startling facts. Where are the leaders and their promises? Clearly something is not right. An honest man will see through the thin veneer of polish of the politicians.

If interested you can find more facts in link1 and link2.

So what is the solution for this cheater-cheated scenario? The only solution is to have leaders who are ethical and moral and are intrinsically connected to God (not religious dogma). This is how it works. If a man or woman who is a leader in power and loves God with his heart, mind and soul, then the natural by-product of such love will be to serve the creation of God. Like they say - love me-love my dog. Similarly if we love God truly beyond mundane designations, then we will also love His creation (no doubt) - this natural world/environment, plants, animals and human beings alike. When this happens, there is no question inequity and gaps. Because the leader will take from the well-to-do and share it with the impoverished and such balance will make all sentient beings free from anxiety. This sort of leader was present during Vedic times where the leader (the Monarch) was elected based on character and love for God. Hence they were called raja rishis or saintly kings. They were elected not by common man by a team of saintly people who renounced the fruits of this world.

We can still bring back such Godly atmosphere provided I put God in the center of my life and live according to His principles. Then I inspire others to do the same. Gradually as the rising tide raises all boats, we will see the consciousness of "I" and "mine" erode within our heart and love for God and concomitant love for His creation will increase.

Therefore, the verdict is clear- the buck starts with you. Chant Hare Krishna, put God in the center of your life and make this world a better place. Then you cannot be cheated and you can be that ideal leader helping others.

Hare Krishna

Monday, October 15, 2012

Are Krishna and Rama stories to promote morality?

Q. Are we mis-interpreting our books by giving a physical form to the concept of Brahman, the supreme source of energy? Krishna and Rama are characters in a story written by ancient philosophers who wanted to bring some standards for living, stories written to explain the concept of good living. Are Hindus losing their scientific acumen by worshiping their texts instead of really understanding the concepts? Isn't it enough that I lead a good life, helping others, being honest?

A. The Vedas describe Reality at different levels. Not only in India, but invariably in every ancient culture in the world, there is description not only of "a" person, but an entire hierarchy of beings or "gods" assisting the Supreme Being as responsible agents for universal management. Such persons are technically called "isvaras" (controllers).  Modern man has conveniently set them aside as mythologies with nothing more than his own speculation as the proof for such a claim. However, according to Katha
Upanisad there is a singular living entity who is the source of all the other plural living entities, and who is identified elsewhere by the term "bhagavan".

nityo nityanam cetanas cetananam
eko bahunam yo vidadhati kaman
tam atma-stham ye 'nupasyanti dhiras
tesam santim sasvatim netaresam
(Katha Upanisad 2.2.13 and Svetasvatara Upanisad 6.13)

One aspect of this supreme source is the brilliant effulgence emanating from His form, known as Brahman. The non-material form of the Supreme is not a later interpretation or invention. His spiritual form is identified in all the Vedas as well as Upanishads.

"There is one eternal among the many eternals, one conscious being among the many conscious beings; it is that One who satisfies all the needs of the many."

isvarah paramah krsnah
anadir adir govindah

"Krsna who is known as Govinda is the Supreme Godhead. He has an eternal blissful spiritual body. He is the origin of all. He has no other origin and He is the prime cause of all causes." (Sri Brahma Samhita 5.1)

This conception of the Absolute Truth is explained thus:

vadanti tat tattva-vidas
tattvam yaj jnanam advayam
brahmeti paramatmeti
bhagavan iti sabdyate

"The Absolute Truth is realized in three phases of understanding by the knower of the Absolute Truth, and all of them are identical. Such phases of the Absolute Truth are expressed as Brahman, Paramatma, and Bhagavan." (Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.2.11)

Your statement that Krishna or Rama are story-book characters, or perhaps historical personalities is but an assumption, is it not? Such a view, even if held by many, is not corroborated by any fact or authority. Greatly revered and saintly authorities throughout the ages down to the present day have accepted Lord Krishna, Rama and other avataras as transcendental and worshipable.

Without keeping God in the center, it is not possible to live a truly moral, ethical, "good" life. Please consider: Who is to define what is good and honest life? Is this question not asked by moralists and philosophers over the ages? [The standards for what is considered as "leading a good life" being totally subjective when left without an absolute point of reference can be appreciated by reflecting on the alarming moral decrepitude of present society despite their clamor for universal peace and goodwill.]

dharmam tu saksad bhagavat-pranitam

"Real religious principles are enacted by the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Bhagavan." (Srimad-Bhagavatam 6.3.19)

Indeed, without accepting the authority of the common father, there is no "universal brotherhood", or fraternity, no unifying principle in a divergent people.

Answer by H.H.Romapada Swami

Friday, October 12, 2012

meaning of my blog title

It has been five years since I started this blog and has never occurred to me to describe its title - Servant of the Servant.

I and my wife both agreed to use this title because this is a subject matter very close to our spiritual master's heart - H.H.Radhanath Swami. In most, if not all, of his lectures, his drive home point is always this - to be the servant of the servant. So I and my wife thought we can keep the same title for the blog.

Beyond that, there is a deeper philosophical meaning. Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, an incarnation of Krishna, appeared some 500 years before. As part of His earthly pastimes, He used to dance in ecstasy before Lord Jagannath during Ratha Yatra. It is said that once Mahaprabhu offered prayers in front of the Lord and one such prayer is as follows.

nāhaḿ vipro na ca nara-patir nāpi vaiśyo na śūdro 
nāhaḿ varṇī na ca gṛha-patir no vanastho yatir vā 
kintu prodyan-nikhila-paramānanda-pūrnāmṛtābdher 
gopī-bhartuḥ pada-kamalayor dāsa-dāsānudāsaḥ 

I am not a brāhmaṇa, I am not a kṣatriya, I am not a vaiśya or a śūdra. Nor am I a brahmacārī, a householder, a vānaprastha or a sannyāsī. I identify Myself only as the servant of the servant of the servant of the lotus feet of Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the maintainer of the gopīs. He is like an ocean of nectar, and He is the cause of universal transcendental bliss. He is always existing with brilliance.- CcMadhya 13.80 

As you can see, the essence of the prayer strikes at the very existence of our identity & reality. Normally, we identify ourselves based on temporary bodily designations such as man, woman, rich, poor, hindu, christian, indian, american, gandhian, lutheran, wife, husband, father, mother etc and not based on our original (primeval) identity, as Mahaprabhu prays - that we are all the servants of the servants of Lord Krishna (or God).

Unfortunately, today, we have completely forgotten our original identity as servants of God, and are preoccupied with our other temporary identities such as father, son, hindu, rich, poor, american etc. When our consciousness is flooded with these temporary designations/identities, then the living being is forced to enjoy and suffer in this material world both of which causes frustration at the end.

Therefore, the blog title, as you can see is not a sectarian idea but a constant reminder for me and hopefully others to go back to the root of our existence & reality that we are servants of God, nay, servants of the servants who serve God!!

Hare Krishna

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Friday, September 28, 2012

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Gaps in Guru Parampara

I always had some doubts on how the disciplic succession (Guru parampara) is understood properly. I have read Prabhupada saying that prominent Gurus are represented in our line and so forth. In the Bhagavad Gita, Prabhupada writes that the disciplic succession was restarted again (as it was lost earlier) after Krishna spoke the Gita to Arjuna. Like this Prabhupada talks about Parampara in different places. I still had some doubts.

Below are a compilation of four letters by Srila Prabhupada further elucidating this subject.

Regarding your third question—"Why are there apparent time-gaps in the line of disciplic succession as listed in the Bhagavad-gita? Is Arjuna an instructor Spiritual Master and not an initiator Spiritual Master and therefore not listed?'' The time gap mentioned by you is inevitable, because the disciplic succession sometimes becomes disconnected, as we find from the Bhagavad-gita. This is the influence of material energy, and to link it up again, it takes some time. That some time may appear to our calculation a big gap, but in relation with the eternal time, it is not even an instant. So this big gap or small gap of time is relative. Just like our 24 hours and Brahma's 24 hours, there is much difference. Our 24 hours is not even a fraction of his second....
- Letter to Rupanuga, March 14, 1969, Hawaii

Regarding parampara system: there is nothing to wonder for big gaps. Just like we belong to the Brahma Sampradaya, so we accept it from Krishna to Brahma, Brahma to Narada, Narada to Vyasadeva, Vyasadeva to Madhva, and between Vyasadeva and Madhva there is a big gap. But it is sometimes said that Vyasadeva is still living, and Madhva was fortunate enough to meet him directly. In a similar way, we find in the Bhagavad-gita that the Gita was taught to the sun god, some millions of years ago, but Krishna has mentioned only three names in this parampara system—namely, Vivasvan, Manu, and Ikshvaku; and so these gaps do not hamper from understanding the parampara system. We have to pick up the prominent acharya, and follow from him. There are many branches also from the parampara system, and it is not possible to record all the branches and sub-branches in the disciplic succession. We have to pick up from the authority of the acharya in whatever sampradaya we belong to. Hoping you are all three well, and please keep me informed.
- Letter to Dayananda, April 12, 1968, San Francisco

"Narada was the Spiritual Master of Vyasadeva, and Arjuna was Vyasadeva's disciple, not as initiated disciple but there was some blood relation between them. So there is connection in this way, and it is not possible to list all such relationships in the short description given in Bhagavad-gita As It Is. Another point is that disciplic succession does not mean one has to be directly a disciple of a particular person. The conclusions which we have tried to explain in our Bhagavad-gita As It Is is the same as those conclusions of Arjuna. Arjuna accepted Krishna as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and we also accept the same truth under the disciplic succession of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Things equal to the same thing are equal to one another. This is an axiomatic truth. So there is no difference of opinion of understanding Krishna between ourselves and Arjuna. Another example is that a tree has many branches, and you will find one leaf here and another leaf there. But if you take this leaf and the other leaf and you press them both, you will see that the taste is the same. The taste is the conclusion, and from the taste you can understand that both leaves are from the same tree..."
- Letter to Kirtanananda, January 25, 1969, Los Angeles

Regarding the disciplic succession coming from Arjuna, disciplic succession does not always mean that one has to be initiated officially. Disciplic succession means to accept the disciplic conclusion. Arjuna was a disciple of Krishna and Brahma was also a disciple of Krishna. Thus there is no disagreement between the conclusions of Brahma and Arjuna. Vyasadeva is in the disciplic succession of Brahma. The teachings to Arjuna was recorded by Vyasadeva verbatim. So according to the axiomatic truth, things equal to one another are equal to each other. We are not exactly directly from Vyasadeva, but our Gurudeva is a representative of Vyasadeva. Because Vyasadeva and Arjuna are of equal status, being students of Krishna, therefore we are in the disciplic succession of Arjuna. Things equal to the same thing are equal to one another...
- Letter to Dinesh, October 31, 1969, Tittenhurst

Hare Krishna

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

My sweet George!

This is my favorite song sung by George Harrison - My Sweet Lord. He really put his heart into this song, goes to show how much he really wanted to see the Lord. Below is a live concert of the song. Its because of this song, many became devotees of Krishna. The song is so beautiful! Please listen!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

root cause should achieve root effect

Our purpose in Krishna consciousness is to find the root cause of all causes. In fact the business of scientists' also is to find the root cause of all causes. The difference, however, is material scientists invariably always stop with mechanistic functions and laws like singularity, DNA, RNA (genetics) etc as the root cause.  Such findings propagate their existence in this material creation. Therefore, in the ultimate sense their root cause findings have no value. When devotees find the root cause as Shyamsundar Krishna, then they achieve the root effect - that is - they are liberated from this material creation of birth and death.

Hare Krishna

Monday, September 17, 2012

Of Fishes, I am the Shark

jhaṣāṇāḿ makaraś cāsmi
Of fishes I am the shark
BG 10.31

A man who survived while adrift in the Pacific for 106 days is crediting a shark for helping to save his life.

Toakai Teitoi, 41, a policeman from the Central Pacific island nation of Kiribati, had been traveling with his brother-in-law on what was supposed to be a short voyage, beginning May 27, from the Kiribati capital of Tarawa to his home island of Maiana.

But the mariners decided to fish along the way, and fell asleep during the night. When they awoke they were far at sea and adrift in their 15-foot wooden vessel. They soon ran out of fuel, and were short on water.

"We had food, but the problem was we had nothing to drink," Teitoi told Agence France-Presse news service.

Dehydration was severe. Falaile, the 52-year-old brother-in-law, died on July 4. That night, Teitoi slept next to him, "like at a funeral," before an emotional burial at sea the next morning.

Teitoi shared scant details of the ordeal after arriving in Majuro, in the Marshall Islands, on Saturday. He said he prayed the night Falaile died, and the next day a storm arrived and, over the next several days, he was able to fill two five-gallon containers with fresh water.

Days and weeks passed, however, and Teitoi, a father of six, did not know whether he'd live or die. He subsided mostly on fish and protected himself against the searing tropical sun by curling up in a small, covered portion of the bow.

It was on the afternoon of Sept. 11 that he awoke to the sound of scratching against his boat. A six-foot shark was circling the boat and, Teitoi said, bumping against its hull "He (the shark) was guiding me to a fishing boat," Teitoi said. "I looked up and there was the stern of a ship and I could see crew with binoculars looking at me." 

Toakai Teitoi credits the shark for helping to save his life.

The shark helped because the boatman prayed to the Lord. Krishna comes as the shark and saves the stranded boatman as He (Krishna) says He is shark among fishes.

Hare Krishna

How should we interpret modern scientific solutions?

How should we react to modern science and scientific solutions for mankind especially as followers of Bhagavad Gita philosophy? Srila Prabhupada once said we should make the best use of a bad bargain, referring this material world and its concomitant factors to be a bad bargain. Was he pessimistic or negative?

If we use the same scientific rationale and sober thinking, we have to admit, modern science has its grave limitations regardless of where the study is conducted. It is neither pessimistic nor negative but rather realistic. Modern science is limited not only by money, and politics but also by  the ability to collect evidence and the ability to interpret it. Because our sensual perception of this world is limited, and because we commit errors beyond our cognizance, we have to accept modern scientific conclusions with reservation.

Scientific conclusions regardless of how grand it may be is mired with unaccountable assumptions, human errors, and lack of comprehensive evidence (past, present and future). Therefore if we truly view modern research through this realistic lens, then we will be able to perceive what is wheat and what is chaff. So put it in simplistic language, modern scientific solutions for mankind is at best a bad bargain but because we are dealt with it, we make the best use of it. We should not reject modern science, but we should use it with all its limitations and cautions and be fully convinced  that knowledge from the Infallible Krishna is the best course for the problems of my life.

Therefore Krishna's instructions (infallible) should be at the forefront of our thinking for our daily needs and concerns whilst we employ scientific conclusions (fallible) to assist our needs.

Hare Krishna

Friday, September 14, 2012

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Giving up hope on organized religion?

In general, people are wary about organized religion. They approach institutionalized religion with skepticism and doubt. In my personal experience, most of them have negative emotions towards God because of organized religion. When probed deeper, these people cite religious wars, internal conflicts, politics, bigotry, commercialism etc as reasons to reject organized religion. These are indeed valid reasons but the question that comes to my mind is we have these issues in pretty much all fields from sports, entertainment, politics, educational institutions to professional careers. Perhaps the scale and intensity  might not be the same but pretty much every field controlled by man is filled with politics, wars, conflicts, and bigotry.

In sports, we can find mass rigging, illegal doping, corruption, and other scandalous affairs that question the basic ethics of sportsmanship. Yet sports is the biggest crowd pleaser crossing all modern day barriers. We can encounter similar issues in educational settings where one has to deal with student favoritism, partial research or funding based curriculum etc. The very idea of learning has to be open and unbiased but today we have so much political agenda within educational institutions that the idea of unbiased education has to be questioned. I have had many experiences over the years where teachers or professors show favoritism to few students and change the entire academic interests of others. Yet I do not find people not going to school or against educational institutions because of its imperfections. In the political arena, there have been many wars in the past between countries for natural resources or political ideologies where millions of people have been killed, but how many of us give up on organized Government? A significant portion of our tax dollars go to Defense and because of these dollars, countries are able to wage wars with each other and kill millions. I do not find people quitting to pay tax to the Government because the Defense is going to war?

Therefore, there is bigotry, war, fighting, crime, corruption, politics pretty much in every sphere of organized and man made service delivery system be it social service, or military service or religious service etc. Why single out religion? While I agree 99.9% of 21st century religion has become corrupt, still I believe there is a 0.1% chance to still find the essence of the truth - a truth that can change our lives for now and for ever. As long as that very small window of opportunity exists, it is the duty of every intelligent human being to seek the truth beyond mundane causes. Finding fault with an imperfect religious society is scarcely a reason to search for the truth. Who ever finds such faults with the imperfections of mainstream religion are cheating themselves and who ever are following mainstream religion without due process and deliberation are cheating others.

If people can accept other forms of fallible man made institutions, then one should also deliberate on God with the help of religious institutions even though fallible.

Hare Krishna.

Monday, August 27, 2012

To repeat As It Is

To repeat the message of God as it is is not easy or that straight forward. To repeat what the previous spiritual teachers and Krishna has spoken without taint of false ego requires a pure heart. We can memorize to a certain extent and repeat but if our repetition is based on memory then the message will be as it is only to the limits of our memory. Therefore repetition as it is in its proper sense has to come from realization of self and not memory of mind. To be self realized means to have a pure heart free from gross attachments such as material wealth, followers and family members and free from subtle attachments such as adoration, profit and distinction.

So when Srila Prabhupada says that we simply have to repeat as it is, implied in that is we have to become self realized before repeating otherwise our parrot like repetition will falter with time and eventually our message will be adulterated with our own false ego. Prabhupada stresses that we simply repeat as it is but that sort of unadulterated repetition requires us to be a pure medium of God. To cultivate purity requires desire, discipline and determination and above all the blessings of sadhu and Guru and Krishna.

Hare Krishna

Sunday, August 26, 2012

love that can actually satisfy us

In this world love is a powerful force. Love between husband-wife, boyfriend-girlfriend, parent-child, love for the nation, job etc all are fundamental forces for human beings to function in this world. Without love, human beings can break down and contemplate nefarious acts. So no one can deny the supreme positive effects love can have on people.

However, in this world, that love which is glorified in all forms of media, literature, and philosophy is based on returns. Husband and wife or boy and girl love each other provided the other satisfies the other. If a husband does not satisfy the wife periodically in the name of love then the wife will feel left out and alone - a symptom indicating no love. Similarly if the wife does not satisfy the husband constantly to express love, then the husband will feel separated in mind. So love has to be periodically expressed to satisfy the opposite. This is true in any form of relationship. No matter how much I love something or someone, if there are no returns in some form, gross or subtle, the whole idea of love starts to break down. To simply put love of this world is conditional and intermittent. It is based on conditions of mutual sharing and that to periodically. Therefore this sort of love is incomplete or materially tainted.

Pure love or spiritual love on the other hand is not done or expressed for any selfish motivations. It is purely done to satisfy the object of love without expectations or returns and this is the sort of love we find in the relationships between Krishna and His devotees. It is completely unconditional, unmotivated and unceasing. It is ever expanding and blissful. This sort of love is possible only in the spiritual platform and the sort of love one should aspire for.

It is ok to love the things and people of this world as long as we understand it is materially motivated and temporary. Therefore we have to transfer this material love to Krishna to make it unconditional and unceasing and thus spiritual. By doing so our inherent nature to love and be loved will not be lost but rather expanded a million fold. This million fold expansion can happen only if our love is focused on the Supreme spiritual being - Krishna. By carefully following the instructions of Srila Prabhupada in his books, we can actually revive our innate nature to love Krishna and ultimately that dormant love will blossom fully as an offering for Krishna.

Only this love and loving exchange with Krishna can satisfy us.

Hare Krishna

Friday, August 24, 2012

Happiness is an illusion

Not very many people will accept Krishna consciousness philosophy and even if they do will struggle to continue. The reason is they find it difficult to accept that there is no happiness in this material world and that all happiness is simply an illusion. People don't like to hear this rather negative statement. To think there is no happiness in this world leaves us only with the opposite which is misery. People don't like this idea. So they reject this philosophy off the bat or they find intellectual reasons to refute this philosophy.

The whole modern educational, economical and political system is designed to promote this idea of seeking happiness. It is even in the US Declaration of Independence. In the famous Declaration of Independence of USA states that the Creator has given us rights to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. The statement ends with happiness meaning we have life and liberty to become happy. But then in the Bhagavad Gita Krishna the creator says there is only misery in this material world. Whatever we experience in the name of material prosperity and happiness according to Krishna is only His illusory potency bewildering the conditioned souls.

If misery is true, and happiness is an illusion in this world, how can we test for it and actually intellectually accept such a grave statement. Quality of a product is normally tested through consumer reports and satisfaction surveys after people have used or experienced the product. When I say after, I mean at the end of usage. It can be the end of one time usage or multiple time usages. Still the quality is tested at the end. Using the same idea, if we want to test the quality of life at the end of life in this world then we have to agree the end in this world always ends in separation or deterioration and the ultimate end is death. Separation, deterioration or death is not a happy state. Lets be honest this is the reality and this is what Krishna is indicating that there is deterioration in the form of disease and there is separation ultimately in the form of death.

When I was ten years old, my dad put me in a boarding school and hence had to be separated beyond my control. It was difficult because I was put in an alien environment. Similarly in the USA, children leave home invariably when they reach eighteen years to college or some other destination. There is separation. If temporary separation is painful, then one can only imagine the ultimate separation or death. It is painful and irreversible.

So any sober and intelligent person will acknowledge this idea of temporariness and conclude that the end is not happy. If the end is not happy or rather miserable then per the consumer report, we can say this material life is miserable and that there is no happiness and that that happiness is an illusion.

Why am I saying all this, I am saying this because we should stop spending our valuable time desperately looking for happiness and pleasure in this world and start looking for the alternative. Krishna says that alternative is seeking His shelter. By seeking His shelter we can cross beyond this temporary reality and place ourselves in an eternal environment and this is the goal of a happy life.

By chanting the Hare Krishna Mahamantra everyday, one can withstand the miseries of this world and find peace under Krishna's protection. Please chant Hare Krishna.

Hare Krishna

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Chappan bhog

I and my wife cooked up fifty six items for Lord Jagannath, Baladev and Subhadra. Technically this sort of offering is called "chappan bhog" meaning fifty six offerings. This is my first attempt and I pray the Lord accepted the offering. It took approximately 12 hours to cook and offer. At the end it was worth the effort. We also distributed the Prasad to few devotees here.

I distributed some books on Janmashtami day door knocking (mostly Indian families) and invited few of them for the program. I am hoping people get interested to discuss more about Krishna.

Below are some pictures. 

Hare Krishna

Friday, August 10, 2012

Deepest gratitude to His Divine Grace!

Today is the appearance day of our beloved spiritual master Srila Prabhupada.

I would like to dedicate this post to him and express my deepest gratitude for helping me understand the importance of human life. Srila Prabhupada toured the world more than ten times in the eleven years he preached in the West. He wrote more than seventy volumes of books on Krishna consciousness and its importance in the 21st century. He showed love and affection to each one of his devotees, although he could not show individual care to each devotee, yet the devotees under him felt they were taken care of by Srila Prabhupada regardless where they lived. Although I have not physically met Srila Prabhupada in this lifetime, I feel a close connection to him through his books and the urgency to understand Krishna.

Generally, God or anything related to God is treated as the last priority in a person's life. But Srila Prabhupada instilled in us that how by actively pursuing God in everyday life, we can make Him number one priority. By doing so, our life become successful. We do not relegate God to a weekend or hobby but His Divine Grace has actively taught us to make Krishna a household member and treat Him as such. Although I do not possess any high realization in that matter, I do understand the value and importance of making Krishna a part and center of my household.

With the deepest gratitude and humility at my behest, I sincerely pray to the Lord so I remain your humble servant now and forever. I pray I have the determination and enthusiasm to be part of your mission. On this auspicious day, I have nothing significant to offer except my Thank You!

Thank you very much for showing me your causeless mercy so I can chant the Hare Krishna Mahamantra and eventually perfect my life.

Hare Krishna

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Changing bodies

In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna says that just as the embodied soul continuously passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. What Krishna essentially is saying here is that the sense of being or self or "I am" is the same even as the body gets older.

If we are indeed our body made of flesh and blood then our sense of self also should feel aged and dying. But we never feel aged or dying at any point in our life. We may feel depressed or anxious experiencing our old bodies but our sense of self never becomes "old". In that sense there is a contradiction between a feeling of a never changing self versus changing body. Therefore by deduction, Krishna concludes that the "self" is not the same as the "body". The soul (self) within the body occupies different bodies such as boy body, youth body, and old man body. Modern science interprets the same phenomenon as one person growing old. But that cannot be true as the "person" never feels old or growing as it is the body that ages and not the person.

Below is a series of pictures taken every five years by five individuals in the same spot with the same body language. They have been doing this for the past three decades. The pictures illustrates the changing body but the persons are the same - "The seven pictures to date are framed and hang on the wall of the cabin. The men still listen to the same '80s music they were listening to when they were 19 years old"
- editor CNN.

Bodies grow but sense of being does not. Below is a vivid example.  As time passes on, persons will be missing from the picture and onto other bodies. This is the law of nature as spoken by Krishna.

Hare Krishna

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

We have to benefit from human life

In Krishna consciousness, Srila Prabhupada and our previous teachers stress a lot on the value of human life. Srila Prabhupada once answered his disciple that degrading to lower species of life is the most dangerous thing and by spreading Krishna consciousness, we can help people avoid that. So from a spiritual perspective, human life is very rare and hence very precious.

I was sitting in my cube today and one person stopped by to chat. He was talking about his friend who got cancer. The patient did not know about cancer till January of this year and in eight months dies. He said it like it was a normal thing. I was amazed at how the person explained the cancer story in a such a nonchalant way. To him cancer was like catching cold or something. He also said his father had colon cancer and survived. Anyways, as he was saying the story I was thinking on the unpredictable nature of this world. Recently, I also know of another individual (know him for eight years) who just got diagnosed with cancer and is in serious condition.

In both the cases, life was normal for the individuals with no glaring symptoms till one regular doctor's checkup changed everything. People plan their lives in short term and long term till retirement and accordingly make decisions. But little do they plan for such life altering crisis. Any intelligent person can see that life yesterday is not the same today and will not be the same tomorrow. It amazes me how when we talk about death as a reality, people simply slither in their seats like they have seen a snake. This is how much deep we are in illusion. If we do not meditate on death as a reality, when it comes, we will not know what to do. Therefore great saints such as Srila Prabhupada stress on the value of spiritual life in our day to day affairs. If we cultivate Godcentric spiritual consciousness and live our life thinking that earthly existence is temporary, then when our time comes, we will be well prepared to leave.

Krishna says in the Bhagavad Gita that how we leave determines our next destination. So it is important we leave thinking of Krishna and not in lamentation for the people and things of this world. Both the cancer stories reminds me of how life is so much on the tottering platform that at any moment it can fall. If we do not take shelter of Krishna, our next destination can be anything and slipping to animal or lower species will be our greatest peril and failure.

Please chant Hare Krishna, cultivate a spiritual mindset and inquire into the higher sublime truths of life. This is our chance.

Hare Krishna.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Perfect Questions and Perfect Answers

Q: What is mental equilibrium and self control?
A: Absorbing the intelligence in Me constitutes mental equilibrium. Complete discipline of the senses is self-control.

Q: What is the actual meaning of tolerance and steadfastness?
A: Tolerance means patiently enduring unhappiness. Steadfastness occurs when one conquers the tongue and genitals.

Q: What is the greatest charity?
A: The greatest charity is to give up all aggression toward others

Q: What is real austerity?
A: Renunciation of lust is understood to be real austerity.

Q: What is heroism?
A: Real heroism is to conquer one's natural tendency to enjoy material life.

Q: How are reality and truth to be described?
A: Reality is seeing the Supreme Personality of Godhead everywhere. Truthfulness means to speak the truth in a pleasing way, as declared by great sages.

Q: What is cleanliness?
A: Cleanliness is detachment from fruitive activities

Q: What is renunciation and what is wealth?
A: Renunciation is the sannyāsa order of life. The true desirable wealth for human beings is religiousness.

Q: What is considered gain in life?
A: The supreme gain in life is devotional service to Me

Q: What is the best education?
A: Actual education is nullifying the false perception of duality within the soul.

Q: What is actual humility?
A: Real modesty is to be disgusted with improper activities.

Q: What is real beauty?
A: Beauty is to possess good qualities such as detachment.

Q: What are happiness and unhappiness?
A: Real happiness is to transcend material happiness and unhappiness. Real misery is to be implicated in searching for sex pleasure.

Q: Who is learned, and who is a fool?
A: A wise man is one who knows the process of freedom from bondage. A fool is one who identifies with his material body and mind.

Q: What are the true and the false paths in life?
A: The real path in life is that which leads to Me, and the wrong path is sense gratification, by which consciousness is bewildered.

Q: What are heaven and hell?
A: Actual heaven is the predominance of the mode of goodness. Hell is the predominance of ignorance.

Q: Who is a true friend?
A: I am everyone's true friend, acting as the spiritual master of the entire universe.

Q: Who is a rich man, and who is a poor man?
A: One who is enriched with good qualities is actually said to be rich. One who is unsatisfied in life is actually poor.

Q: Who is wretched, and who is an actual controller?
A: Wretched person is one who cannot control his senses. One who is not attached to sense gratification is a real controller.

Q: What are the primary disciplinary principles?
A: Nonviolence, truthfulness, not coveting or stealing the property of others, detachment, humility, freedom from possessiveness, trust in the principles of religion, celibacy, silence, steadiness, forgiveness and fearlessness are the twelve primary disciplinary principles

Q: What are prescribed duties?
A: Internal cleanliness, external cleanliness, chanting the holy names of the Lord, austerity, sacrifice, faith, hospitality, worship of Me, visiting holy places, acting and desiring only for the supreme interest, satisfaction, and service to the spiritual master are the twelve elements of regular prescribed duties.

Questions by Uddhava
Answers by Lord Krishna
Dated 3000 BC
Source: SB 11.19.28-45 

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Questions worth asking and answers worth knowing

Q: How should one react to people who insult you by their rudeness and arrogance? 
A: If one does not become angry when insulted by another, then he takes away all the pious merit that person may have accumulated by good deeds. In addition he transfers to the abuser his own sinful reactions. After all what is the value of praise or blame when uttered by a vulgar fool? A person who praises someone in his presence but criticizes him behind his back is no better that a dog.

Q: How should one debate with an unscrupulous person? 
A: In a debate the tactics of a truthful person are limited, but a deceitful person can utilize any abominable method. However if the truthful person were to use the same tactics as his opponent, he will find himself at a greater disadvantage, for he is acting contrary to his nature. Therefore a truthful and honest person should always avoid an argument with an unscrupulous person.

Q: How should one behave towards a more powerful enemy?
A: Even though the swift current of the river can uproot and carry huge trees, the canes survive since they bend with the current. Similarly in order to survive an enemy more powerful, one must yield while staying firmly anchored to the roots.

Q: What should a weak person do if out of foolishness and pride he provokes a powerful enemy? 
A: O King, the weaker person must repent and thus appease the stronger enemy.

Q: What is the origin of all sin? 
A: Greed, the hankering to posses more than one’s naturally ordained quota is the origin of all sin. The desire to posses that which belongs to another is insatiable and gives rise to anger, lust, loss of judgment, arrogance, miserliness, lack of compassion, enviousness, mistrust and many other evils. Ignorance is made up of the same material as greed, though if analyzed it can be seen that ignorance also comes from greed. As one’s greed increases, his ignorance also becomes more dense.

Q: What produces the highest merit? 
A: Self-restraint surpasses all other activities in this regard and is therefore considered to be the highest virtue. Because self-restraint purifies and controls every aspect of one’s life it is more important than giving in charity and the study of the Vedas. By self-restraint alone one can achieve liberation from the material world. Self-restraint comprises sense-control, freedom from anger, non-enviousness, impartiality, truthfulness, steadiness and contentment. However, the essential quality of self-restraint is austerity. Thus no good can be achieved without austerity.

Questions by Yudhisthira Maharaj
Answers by Grandsire Bhishma