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

Monday, February 27, 2012

Scientific evidence for reincarnation - Dr Ian Stevenson

The video is a lecture with scientific evidences on reincarnation. It is given by Dr Ian Stevenson the renowned scientist on this subject matter. If you are interested in hearing to lectures with photographic slide shows, please see this video. It is 29 mins long. Ian Stevenson who is making this presentation is 84 years old at that time and has been conducting such research for nearly 40 years. He died in 2007.

Any objective person has to conclude that reincarnation exists as there is no other plausible explanation for such natural coincidences. The methods used are rigorously tested by scientific methods and hence acceptable by modern day scientific standards.

Bhagavad Gita talks about reincarnation as a fact for more than 5000 years. One thing that is not covered in the presentation is that a human being in one life can devolve into lower species in the next life such as plants, animals or aquatics and continue an endless life of misery. To stop this endless cycle one has to take to spiritual way of life. Bhagavad Gita teaches how.

Hare Krishna

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Making propoganda

Our purpose in Krishna Consciousness is to make propaganda. People can call it proselytizing, evangelizing, brain washing, converting etc etc. It does not matter. People who are interested in the propaganda can benefit and people who are not can go their way. How are we so different from modern day marketing folks? The marketing department is also a propaganda industry and in today’s corporate environment occupies a significant position. No matter how good a product one has, if it is not marketed properly or if it does not have good propaganda material, then the product fails. The whole idea of branding, and design is based on this concept.

Advertisements we see on TV or news papers proclaim their products to be the best and say they are always one up better than their competitor. In fact, advertisements criticize the competitor’s product and glorify their own. This is also true for presidential campaign ads. We will find lot of critical remarks about the opponents. Similarly, in Krishna consciousness, to advertise spiritual life we criticize the competitor – material life. What is wrong? Besides, the mere aspect of public display of God is considered a social taboo today, why? Many times I have heard people say that Religion & God is a private thing, do not interfere. But advertisement for a viagra pill is not private? In fact people shop for sex enhancing drugs and look forward to the advertisements.

So it does not matter, propaganda is essential for the spiritual well being of the society. However, at this juncture I would like to make a point. The difference between corporate propaganda and spiritual is that in spiritual propaganda there is no selfish motive. It is purely to help others. Therefore it is very important that whoever is doing God propaganda should be free of material vices such as intoxication, meat eating, illicit sex and gambling plus they should be engaged in positive service towards God such as chanting and meditation. Otherwise propaganda of God will become selfish and will not have the desired impact. Purity is the force.

Hare Krishna

Monday, February 20, 2012

Servitorship v lordship

There is a fundamental difference in the way Christians and Krishna Conscious adherents see this world. This difference is attributed, I think partly to the way the religion is taught in churches and temples although I am not exactly sure to the reference in the Christian Bible.

The modern day Christians practice their faith with the belief that the earth and its resources (including plants and animals etc) are meant for the enjoyment of man. That man should be a steward over the planet’s resources. This dominion or right of stewardship gives the rights to man to enjoy this world. In one sense, this is actually true. God created the planet in response to the desires of the living entity. Krishna consciousness defines living being as the spirit soul (not the outer gross body). This mood of stewardship increases the anthropocentric way of life thus eventually leading to lordship and not servitorship (or mood of service). Meat eating is supported by the church based on this logic, that animals are meant for man's use (even as food).

On the contrary, in Krishna consciousness, the planet and resources are created for man’s welfare but the rights to enjoy those resources are first dedicated to God and then man can enjoy those resources as the mercy of God. In other words, man recognizes that all resources are created by God and hence God is the rightful owner. The individual is not. In that sense, the individual is simply a care-taker and not owner. In the role of care-taker of God’s property, he is entitled to enjoy but as an offering from God. This mentality therefore is based on servitorship of God’s property versus Lordship.

Cultivating servitorship or mood of service towards God and all of His creation including the plants, animals and inanimate things will invoke love and respect towards all beings and ultimately result in love for the creator – the Almighty God. Anything other than servitorship will lead to exploitation and abuse which we are witnessing today.

Hare Krishna

Friday, February 17, 2012

Nitai Das - A Poignant moment of truth

The picture captures a poignant moment of truth. The two persons are holding a lump of matter which once was thought to be Nitai Das. Any sane individual has to admit Nitai Das at the end of the day cannot be that what is shown in that picture- lump of ash? Unfortunately, modern science has convinced every one that ultimately we are that matter!

The picture was taken in Mayapur this month. The two individuals are holding the final remains of Nitai Das who died in a car accident this month in Florida. He was 31 years old. The final remains is the ash left over after the body was burnt. The two individuals are going to immerse the final remains into the sacred river Ganga. This is a traditional custom for people following Vedic culture. This is the most auspicious and spiritual act one can do to a departed soul. Nitai Das is very fortunate that his own spiritual master is performing his last rites.

While my deepest condolences go to the family, at this moment we have to be grave and philosophical. Every one of us, one day, will have to die and leave this body and that means we have to leave behind our money, house, car, spouse, children, grandchildren, jobs, everything. What we have worked so hard all our life, at the end, we have to just drop everything and move to our next destination and start from scratch. This is the law of nature. No one is exempt from it. Yet, when great souls such as Srila Prabhupada try to preach this truth, people think it is not important. More important for people is to settle in life, and increase one's wealth and social prestige and not worry about what happens after death!

Death always has the last laugh. However that statement is true only for individuals who are material minded. But for devotees of Krishna such as Nitai Das, death actually is an elevating moment. At death Krishna surely remembers His devotees and this bond between Krishna and devotees gives the devotees the strength to face life and also death with an open heart, never discouraged and always happy.

Vaishnavas never lose in life or in death  as this famous poem reads;

He reasons ill who says that Vaishnavas die,
When thou art living still in sound!
The Vaishnavas die to live, and living try
To spread the holy name around.

By Srila Bhaktivinod Takur - saint, philosopher and poet - 19th century

The glories of a Vaishnava are unlimited. The glories of Krishna are unlimited.

Hare Krishna

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Reincarnation theory

In my last two posts, I gave a brief summary about the body-soul, and karma. I would like to highlight one more aspect of Krishna consciousness which is significant to understanding this world and spiritual life. It is called transmigration of soul from one body to another or simply called reincarnation. It is so important that Krishna mentions about reincarnation in 11 places in Bhagavad Gita, as far as I know.

In today's world, the concept of reincarnation is a matter of subjective belief or opinion. It is not a widely held fact or scientific truth. Most of the scientific community does not agree that reincarnation is a valid theory. Christians, Muslims and Jews (who constitute more than 50% of religious people) do not believe in reincarnation. Therefore reincarnation is a controversial subject matter in today’s world. However, there are some leading scientists who have proven reincarnation as a scientific fact!

In Krishna consciousness, reincarnation holds a very significant place. In fact the concept of body-soul, karma and reincarnation all are closely tied to one another. The concept of God per the Krishna conscious philosophy cannot be understood without appreciating and acknowledging reincarnation. In my previous post about karma, I briefly touched upon the idea of reincarnation.

Reincarnation is a very simple topic. The soul transmigrates from one body to another at the time of death. It is like changing clothes. The soul is awarded a particular type of body at death depending on two criteria; (1) one’s own karmic quota; and (2) one’s mentality at the time of death. Actually one’s lifetime karma and mentality at the time of death are closely tied to each other. What we do (karma) when we live is what we will have in mind when we die. Death is instantaneous. Our mental makeup is defined by the actions we perform on a day-to-day basis. If I am overly attached to my wife and children, then obviously at death I will be meditating on them. So it is very important that we perform spiritual actions all the time because we may die at any moment.

Krishna says in the Gita (BG 2.13) that just as the embodied soul continuously passes from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. Unless we understand that the soul is different from the physical body, we will not be able to understand reincarnation fully. At the time of death, the soul leaves the gross body and is carried by the subtle body. The subtle body is also material and is made of the mind and intelligence. Depending on the condition of mind and intelligence and one’s previous karma, the soul is forced into another body. The images that were created in previous lifetimes are also carried by the mind and intelligence in future bodies. While environmental conditions continue to mold one’s current mentality, still, previous lifetimes’ images influence one’s mental makeup. This is the reason why children at a very young age show natural inclinations towards certain behavior or things. Modern science is very limited in this regard.

While reincarnation may seem like second chance for corrective behavior, still it is considered very painful and dangerous. I say dangerous because the soul can transmigrate into any body. It can devolve into lower species of life such as an ant or aquatic or plant or beasts. There is no guarantee we will obtain a human birth or higher births in our next life. Generally people think that reincarnation means only as humans. This is not true. Once we obtain a lower life form due to our bad karma, then we have to evolve into a higher forms through the evolutionary chain. In other words, if I get a body of an aquatic in my next life, I cannot become a human being immediately after an aquatic form. I have to evolve through all other species of life which is intermediate between aquatic and human. Like this, the Padma Purana states there are 8.4 million different species of life a soul can transmigrate into any species.

I also said reincarnation is painful. It is painful because one has to physically die and be born. Both death and birth are painful processes. And this pain will not stop till we stop birth and death. Birth and death can stop only in the human form - that is if we take shelter of Krishna. That is why the human form of life is the most rarest thing in this world and anyone who throws it away in the name of material enjoyment is the greatest fool. That is also the reason the great saints appear in this world to teach us the value of human life and that we have to use it to stop this cycle of birth and death (reincarnation).

Below are few songs by saints from India.

Bhajahu re mana sri-nanda-nandana abhaya-caranaravinda re 
durlabha manava- janama sat- sange taroho e bhava- sindhu re 

O mind, just worship the lotus feet of the son Nanda (Krishna), which make one fearless. Having obtained this rare human birth, cross over the ocean of worldly existence through the association of saintly persons.  - By Govinda Das Kaviraj - 16th century saint

punarapi jananam punarapi maranam 
punarapi jananii jathare shayanam iha 
samsaare bahudustaare kripayaa apaare paahi muraare 

Born again, death again, birth again to stay in the mother's womb ! It is indeed hard to cross this boundless ocean of samsara. Oh Murari (Krishna)! Redeem me through Thy mercy. - By Adi Shankaracharya 7th century saint

Ariyadhu Kaetkin Varivadi Veloi 
Makkal Yaakkaiyir Piraththalum Aridhae 
Makkal Yaakkaiyir Pirandha Kaalaiyum 
Moongaiyum Sevidum Koonum Kurudum 
Paedum Neengip Piraththalum Aridhae 
Paedu Neengi Pirandha Kaalayum 
Gnanamum Kalviyum Nankural Aridhae 

Being born as a human is rare 
Even if born a human, it is rarer 
To be born without being dumb, deaf, humpback, blind 
Even if born without disabilities, it is rarer 
To have knowledge and education - By Avvaiyar 1st century Tamil poet and saint

All the great saints as indicated above conclude the same that the human form of life is rare and that one should gain knowledge and education. What is that knowledge – to take shelter of Murari Krishna by chanting His Holy Names, only then can we cross over this ocean of material existence of birth and death (reincarnation), otherwise not!

For those who have accepted the boat of the lotus feet of the Lord, who is the shelter of the cosmic manifestation and is famous as Murari, the enemy of the Mura demon, the ocean of the material world (birth and death) is like the water contained in a calf's hoof-print. Their goal is param padam, Vaikuntha, the place where there are no material miseries, not the place where there is danger at every step.
- SB 10.14.58

Hare Krishna

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Karma – how it works?

In my previous post, I talked about the concept of soul within the physical body. The soul is the real individual and the body is simply an expression of the soul. Now, with that in mind, let us go one step deeper into the concept of karma.

The concept of karma is inherently tied to the concept of body-soul. People often ask why bad things happen to good people and good things to bad people. Sometimes very small children die due to natural disasters, babies born with AIDS etc. So the concept of karma according to the Bhagavad Gita is crucial to the understanding of this world and our problems.

The exact details of how karma acts on an individual are not possible to understand. In other words, I will never be able to know why I am suffering or enjoying at this particular moment. Only Krishna knows the karmic chain of actions & reactions that lead one to enjoyment or suffering. From our vantage point, all we can do is try to understand the laws of karma and diligently work to be karma-free. The simplistic definition of karma is “what goes around comes around” or “as you sow so shall you reap”. In other words, you do good you will get good, you do bad you will get bad.

However, the definition of karma is actually tied to the concept of body-soul. Krishna says in the Bhagavad Gita that any action (good or bad) that pertains to the development of material bodies of the living entities (soul) is called karma or fruitive activities (BG 8.3). In essence karma means any action (good or bad) done to enjoy its fruits. Every one of us is compelled to act or work. So action in itself is not wrong. But when this action is motivated by the desire to enjoy its fruits, that action becomes karmic. This spirit of enjoyment is what perpetuates the soul’s entrapment within physical bodies. Because this entrapment is unnatural (something like in a prison), the soul suffers in this material world. Why did Krishna design enjoyment of fruits to entrapment of the soul? – because otherwise the soul will never go back to its original home to the spiritual world. Keep in mind the status quo is we are spiritual beings (soul). We are not supposed to be in this material neighborhood in the first place. So as a way to bring law and order in this world and to ultimately direct the souls back to their original spiritual home, the laws of karma are designed. It is for our own benefit.

Krishna advises Arjuna in the Gita that one should work or act in a way to not be attached to its fruits. He says this is possible only by dedicating the fruits to Him (BG 5.10). This dedication of fruits to Krishna does not entangle the soul within this world and at the time of death, the soul is transformed to the spiritual world.

Let us be practical, in this day and age, who does not work hard to enjoy the fruits? Therefore to practically apply what Krishna says, one needs to practice dedication to Krishna. Normally, people dedicate their money or energy to something they like. So if we want to dedicate our works/actions to Krishna, then we must like Him. Dedication of works to Krishna cannot happen mechanically. So to like Krishna, we must chant His Names (this is the recommended method). In the beginning, all of this might be very artificial and burdensome. We may even question if the method is working. However, if we sincerely chant the Holy names of Krishna, our attachment (or liking) will gradually shift from ourselves to Krishna. As this shift is taking place, we will also naturally dedicate our actions and fruits in the service of Krishna.

Because this dedication of works is done in a mood of love towards Krishna, Krishna accepts our dedication and He will eventually give us more desire to dedicate all of our fruits. This eventually will break the vicious cycle of karma. Karma is like a noose around our neck. It is gradually tightening and at death it completely chokes us of air and we die. But by devotional works, we can remove the noose of karma and be free. Therefore the only way the soul can break the vicious cycle of karmic action and reaction is through chanting Krishna’s names.

What happens to people who do not dedicate their fruits of work to Krishna? Their current actions (good or bad) will create future reactions (good or bad) and the soul inside the body has to take myriad other bodies perpetually to counteract these reactions of their past actions and the cycle will continue. Therefore for no apparent reason good people suffer, bad people enjoy, children die young etc. We cannot blame God for our mishaps.

As I mentioned earlier, the laws of karma are intricate and precise. However, Krishna is very kind that He explains how it works conceptually. He also explains that the soul is perpetually suffering in this world due to its previous karmic reactions that arose from misidentification with the body. Finally He recommends chanting with determination as a way to break karma and the soul returning to its original home in the spiritual world.

It is in the self-interest of the individuals to believe in karma or chant Hare Krishna

Hare Krishna

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Why do mechanistic bodies possess individualistic nature?

Why do mechanistic bodies possess individualistic nature? Why do we all react differently and individualistically to environmental situations? If we all are made of the same brain, heart, eyes, and organs, then why every human being is different in his or her character and nature. Modern scientists define life as combination of chemicals or biological functions. They say that we are merely DNA molecules evolving into more adaptive DNAs. Why cannot they revive dead bodies using chemical and mechanistic devices if we are merely combination of DNA? Despite their bold claims, scientists have not categorically created artificial “brand new” life in laboratories. As of date they have only created mutated versions from existing life forms. 

Let me illustrate with simple logic. For example, if we are highly evolved biological machines with the same sophisticated brain, heart and bodily functions, then per the mechanistic process of human bodies, we should react to environmental situations in exactly the same fashion. But let us say we ask a bunch of movie goers who watched the same movie in the same theater on the same screen on the same day about their experience. There is no doubt that every individual who watched the movie would have perceived it differently according to their mentality. Why the difference?

Another example was given by Srila Prabhupada in his lecture. He asks how it is possible for human beings to have different levels of intelligence despite having the same brain, blood, tissues, heart and other organs. In other words every individual perceives, stores, and processes information completely different based on their intelligence. One can argue the environmental conditioning of an individual might be different, hence the difference in intellectual capacity. But why then do students who start from the beginning in a same class in a same course score differently in tests? In other words, every student has different levels of intelligence even if they grow up in the same environmental conditions.

The above examples illustrate that the body might be a machine with mechanistic devices; however, every individual perceives reality totally different from his or her neighbor. Nobody can deny this fact. If we are purely chemical and biological machines, then we should not perceive reality differently from other biological machines, like a computer. Computers with the exact specification and configuration behave exactly the same. But we know that even identical twins with the same genetic material react differently to reality. Obviously there is something more that makes a human being individualistic.

Modern psychology and psychiatry answers that something to be the mind which is neither chemical nor biological. Then the question is what is the mind? - is it a product of the brain or chemicals within the brain, because anti-depressants or mood changing drugs alter the chemicals within the brain and thus also alter the mental state of an individual. So scientists ultimately connect mind to brain functions which again is biological and chemical. CT scans and other sophisticated brain imagery scans does exactly that – to detect the function of the mind based on the chemical functions and stability of the physical brain. Emotions, feelings, and individual sensitivity are not fully explained by modern science. It is still considered esoteric.

So we are back to the basic question that how come every human being is individualistic & different with different emotions, feelings and sensitivity despite having the same human body and bodily functions. The answer is very simple – we are not these physical bodies or the mind. We are not these chemical and biological machines as purported by modern science. We are not ultimately DNA molecules. We are spirit soul (or consciousness or life force) seeing through the eyes, listening through the ears, and touching with our hands. The soul is the individual and the physical body is a medium through which the soul communicates to the outside world to fulfill its desires (thus the individualistic nature). The soul is neither chemical nor biological nor empirically measureable by machines. In other words, if you dissect a human body or any body such as plants and animals, you cannot find the soul. It is beyond the perception of human senses. Its presence can be attested only through the symptoms it creates something like a black hole. A black hole in space cannot be detected by mundane vision or telescopes, but its presence is attested by the impact it creates on its surroundings. Similarly the presence of a soul can be attested by the symptoms it creates within the body like for example a body with soul or consciousness (alive) grows and a body without soul or consciousness (dead) decomposes.

An intelligent person seeking knowledge should inquire into the nature of the soul or consciousness.

Hare Krishna

Monday, February 13, 2012

story of a spiritual master

At dusk I chanced to meet Radhanath Swami near the temple gate.  As he hurried out, he inquired, “So, everything alright?”
“I am heading to Mayapur tomorrow.”
“To submerge the ashes of my deceased father in the Ganges.”
“When did that happen?….” He stopped. His expression grew grave.
“Ten days ago. I had informed your secretary when my father was on his death bed. Didn’t he convey you?” I looked around. Vraj, the secretary, wasn’t accompanying him.
“No,” he replied. I saw he felt sorry. “I shall get back to you,” he said, and hurried into his car. The vehicle disappeared into the exhaust fumes of Mumbai traffic.
Later, Vraj came searching for me, and related what transpired after Radhanath Swami boarded his vehicle an hour ago. Radhanath Swami had called back to the temple to inquire from Vraj of the lost information. Vraj replied that updates about my father were duly sms-ed well on time. Radhanath Swami then searched all the sms he had received in the past ten days, but this sms was nowhere in the inbox! The two concluded that it was lost in the outage that had hit mobile networks ten days ago.
Radhanath Swami, Vraj said, now wanted me to give him a call.
“I am sorry. The message somehow didn’t reach me,” I heard Radhanath Swami’s apologetic voice on the phone. “If I knew, I would have given a call to your father as he lay on his death bed, and chanted Hare Krishna to him,” he continued. “But don’t worry. Right now I am chanting for your father on my prayer beads. And in my mind I am submerging his ashes in the holy Ganges.”
Two decades ago, my father felt a little pained thinking he lost his only son to the monastic order. Little did he know he had gained a second son, a pure soul who would be the first to submerge his ashes in the Ganges for his assured salvation.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Meat Eaters - Beware!

In Krishna consciousness meat eating (including eggs) is prohibited. This is on the grounds of compassion to other living beings and also Krishna does not eat flesh of animals. So if Krishna does not eat, then we do not eat. This is the idea. Personally, for me it made sense instantaneously and I did not need any further explanation on why one should become vegetarians.

I, however, wanted to know if there were any direct scriptural references on the abominable practice of meat eating. Below is a conversation piece by the supreme devotee of God - Narada Muni.

Nārada Muni said: Among all the attractions of material enjoyment, the attraction of riches bewilders one's intelligence more than having beautiful bodily features, taking birth in an aristocratic family, and being learned. When one is uneducated but falsely puffed up by wealth, the result is that one engages his wealth in enjoying wine, women and gambling. Unable to control their senses, rascals who are falsely proud of their riches or their birth in aristocratic families are so cruel that to maintain their perishable bodies, which they think will never grow old or die, they kill poor animals without mercy. Sometimes they kill animals merely to enjoy an excursion. While living one may be proud of one's body, thinking oneself a very big man, minister, president or even demigod, but whatever one may be, after death this body will turn either into worms, into stool or into ashes. If one kills poor animals to satisfy the temporary whims of this body, one does not know that he will suffer in his next birth, for such a sinful miscreant must go to hell and suffer the results of his actions. While alive, does this body belong to its employer, to the self, to the father, the mother, or the mother's father? Does it belong to the person who takes it away by force, to the slave master who purchases it, or to the sons who burn it in the fire? Or, if the body is not burned, does it belong to the dogs that eat it? Among the many possible claimants, who is the rightful claimant? Not to ascertain this but instead to maintain the body by sinful activities is not good. This body, after all, is produced by the unmanifested nature and again annihilated and merged in the natural elements. Therefore, it is the common property of everyone. Under the circumstances, who but a rascal claims this property as his own and while maintaining it commits such sinful activities as killing animals just to satisfy his whims? Unless one is a rascal, one cannot commit such sinful activities. Atheistic fools and rascals who are very much proud of wealth fail to see things as they are. Therefore, returning them to poverty is the proper ointment for their eyes so they may see things as they are. - SB 10.10-8-12

In the above conversation Narada muni describes how it is such a bad habit to engage in meat eating and because of that they will suffer in their next lives. Narada muni talks about returning to poverty. In this context, poverty does not necessarily mean economic poverty it can also mean degradation in terms of one’s bodily functions like taking the body of a plant or animal etc. Devolving into lower species of life is the greatest punishment as the living entity (spirit soul) will suffer immensely in lower species of life. It is the responsibility of human beings to evolve into higher forms and not devolve!

So my humble request to meat eaters is that eating meat may taste nice at that moment but it does come with heavy consequences. Beware!

Hare Krishna

Monday, February 6, 2012

Book distribution 2012 - II

Lord Nityananda is the most munificent of incarnations. He is Lord Balaram Himself who manifested in Chaitanya Lila 500 years ago. From whatever little I understand without the blessings of Lord Nityananda, it is not possible to access the mercy of Lord Gauranga who is Krishna Himself. Besides, Lord Nityananda goes door to door blessing the most unfortunate souls caught up in this illusory world of happiness and instilling in them Krishna prem.

To put it in perspective to todays world. this causeless mercy from Lord Nityananda is transmitting through Srila Prabhupada who tirelessly is preaching the tattva of Gaurana Mahaprabhu. So through Srila Prabhupada from Nityananda prabhu, no doubt I have been given access to chant the Hare Krishna mahamantra. For this reason of causeless compassion to unqualified people, I am attracted to Lord Chaitanya and His movement. Otherwise there is not much chance for me to understand spiritual subject matters.

The sankirtan movement will go on for the next 10,000 years, so the saintly people predict. I would like to humbly contribute to my best. So in this mood of gratitude towards Lord Nityananda and the saintly acharyas, I decided to distribute books today. Although I had this plan for sometime, i was not quite sure till the last minute. However, I finally decided to spend some time knocking on doors.

I have been saying in previous posts all along, in my last 5 or 6 attempts in door knocking, so far, my realization is that I am finding it difficult to convince people to take books. My implication is that perhaps they are mostly Christians or mostly worldly minded people who have no interest in spiritual life whatsoever. So I thought may be I will drive to an area where there may be Indians living. Even if they are not interested in Krishna, I figured I can sell some books and get some donations. So I drove my car in that direction and found an apartment (not secured) and entered.

I managed to distribute  some books but not many though. I want to narrate a rather humorous moment. There is an old english idiom, don't judge the book by its cover. Yesterday, literally the person was judging the book by its cover. I knocked and a man from Africa opened. Before I could complete my opening line, he excused himself to leave. I persisted and asked him to take a book. With reluctance, the man took the book and was starring at it for few seconds and his face had the combined look of skepticism and cavil. The man could not understand what he was looking at. I laughed inside and found it humourous on how he was coming to grips with Krishna. In my brief moment of humour I forgot to explain about the book.The cover of the book had Krishna with the Gopis and the title was Bhakti Yoga- The Art of Eternal Love. After few seconds, he did his best to hide his emotions and returned the book.

Later I met a Catholic who does not practice her faith, a mother of two and currently pregnant expressed that she is not very interested. By Krishna's mercy I got to talk to her for few minutes and she shared her feelings about her current situation and that her father-in-law was in critical condition about to die in the hospital. She said she was expecting a phone anytime from her husband regarding her in-law. At that moment, I stressed on how important to understand spiritual knowledge and urged her to chant Hare Krishna even if she does not understand its meaning. I gave her a book and a card with the mantra on it. I insisted she chant this mantra to her in-law even if he was unconscious. So I asked her to repeat the mantra after me and she repeated it carefully and with focus. She gave me donation and said she will look into this.  I finally left saying the mantra is very powerful and can help anyone chanting it.

My original hope was to meet an Indian who I thought perhaps I can invite to my house for further discussions. Although most of the Indians in the US have no desire for spiritual life, still they are relatively more pious and may understand the science of Krishna. I figured the odds are less. As I was walking on the pavement to enter a building, I saw two Indians carrying grocery bags and entering the same building I was to enter. I did not think much of it, I just followed. By the time I entered, they disappeared, however I saw a door close. I guessed that door must be them. So I knocked in earnest and an Indian opened.

I showed one person (there were two) the Bhagavad Gita and discussed about the importance of cultivating spiritual life. The other room mate showed no interest. After about 15 mins of discussion, I found out he is from Maduari Tamilnadu and that his parents worship Vishnu. So naturally he was inclined to the Gita. He also gave me suggestions on where to go and whom to meet regarding further distribution. We exchanhged numbers and emails and am hoping to meet again next week for lunch. He seems to be interested in Krishna. However, time will tell. He took the Bhagavad Gita and gave me a big donation, I profusely thanked him and left saying we will meet again soon.

Although, overall I distributed few books, however, I thought my efforts paid off as I met these two souls. One catholic and one potential Krishna bhakta. With that thought, I drove back home.

Hare Krishna

Friday, February 3, 2012

Is modern science truly evidence based and unbiased?

In the field of modern science, there is a philosophical conundrum called the Positive theory and Normative theory.

A positive theory is about what is and contains no judgment value. The data is not interpreted through the lens of approval or disapproval. It simply states what is. Scientists analyze data without approving or disapproving and simply state what they see or collect as evidence. For example, there are 100 abortions taking place every month in the US. This is simply a statement of what exists (does not imply value).

Now normative theory on the other hand is the opposite. It puts a value to the data. It says what ought to be seen. The normative people would say abortions are not acceptable or abortions are acceptable. In other words approving or disapproving the abortion scenario.

So in science this philosophical tug-of-war constantly exists between what is and what ought to be. However, I am convinced that all scientists are normative and none are positive. So this tug-of-war in my opinion is an illusion.  Every single scientist who collects data interprets the data based on his or her value system and hence inherently biases the data. A human being by nature is born and raised in a particular environment. So a human being reacts to the external world based on this external conditioning. In fact the conditioning is so strong that human beings cannot see it any other way.

This environmental conditioning coupled with individual human desires transpires into value systems and these values express itself through scientific phenomenon. This is true for Darwin as much as it is for Newton and many others like them. Darwin was against religion in some ways and Newton for it. Both considered giants in their own rights. But the difference is Darwin wanted to see what he wanted to see in nature and used that as evidence to push his value system. Newton on the other hand also wanted to collect evidence to back his religious beliefs. The bottom line is although both scientists used unbiased research methodology to arrive at certain conclusions; still it is their value systems that were projected and put at the helm of scientific breakthroughs.

Research, data, and scientific knowledge are boon to society. It is a manifestation of higher intelligence to help us transcend the gross necessities of life. Technically, research should elevate our quality of life to higher strata, not degrade it. So in one sense research and knowledge is simply a tool or medium with which man can transcend from a lower consciousness to a much higher pristine consciousness. Therefore science and research (tool) is only as good as the person handling it. If the value system of the scientists’ is grossly embedded in simply extending physical & mental pleasures, then the tool of science and research will be misused or in fact abused. This is what is happening in today’s world in the name of science. Scientists who claim to be unbiased and valueless actually have a value and want to push that value onto others.

For example, Richard Dawkins who is famous for his atheistic stand in society cannot claim to be scientific because he has a value that “belief in God is nonsense” and he uses scientific data to push his value onto the world. Otherwise, what need is there to revolt against the existence of God in such a public & bombastic fashion, the same need as much a religionist would do to push his value of surrender to God in a public way. Yet Richard Dawkins rebukes religionists for having a value (rather sentimentally) towards God. His primary distinction is I have evidence and you (religionists) have no evidence. By focusing the conversation on evidence, Dawkins removes the concept of sentimental value. But Dawkins is no better a sentimentalist than anybody else. He uses the “lack of evidence” as the evidence to prove his rather rational value that God does not exist. But lack of evidence does not imply “no” or “absence of” evidence. If I lost something and cannot find it does not mean the thing does not exist. If I cannot find evidence to prove God and the whole world cannot find evidence to prove God, does not mean He does not exist, it simply means we have no evidence. A true and unbiased researcher should conclude this –we the scientific community does not know if God exists or does not exist because there is no evidence to show neither. It is as simple as that. But a scientist such as Dawkins and many more like him (unfortunately the majority) are convinced that lack of evidence of God means God does not exist and hence have the right to push this biased sentimental value upon others (all in the name of unbiased research).

To conclude my point, there is simply no such thing as unbiased researcher where data leads to unbiased conclusions. This sort of research is few and far between. The reality, however, is science and research (tool) is created and pushed by scientists to push their values (be it personal or institutional). It is this value that is being pushed in the name of science. There is no problem to hold values as it is natural, however, the problem arises when these values degrade society into mindless robots who are told that economic development and social well being is the ultimate goal of life (no need for a spiritual God centric life). It is these mundane values (and not evidence and data) that is being pushed in the name of unbiased knowledge and is considered superior to any other form of knowledge in today's world.

Hare Krishna

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

HG Nitai Das prabhu will be dearly missed!

With great sadness and heaviness in my heart, I want to bid farewell to my beloved godbrother HG Nitai Das prabhu. He just died in a vehicle accident on Jan 31 2012.

I first met him in 2008 24 hour Kirtan festival in New Vrindavan and ever since our friendship extended. Although my personal association was limited to few meetings, still I considered him a good friend and godbrother. Both and I and my wife will dearly miss him. More than me, my wife is upset because of his departure. The last we saw him was in november 2011 just 2 months before the fatal day. He drove cross-country and came to our house and stayed overnight with us.

It was the month of Damodar. We talked till 2.00am in the morning and he was showing all his photos on Burning Man and his different experiences there. I was thinking one day may be I can travel with him to Burning Man. We also offered Damodar lamps and sang Damodarashtakam together to our deities. It was a pleasure to have him in our house. The night Nitai prabhu came to my house, I asked him about how his driving especially as it was late. He assured me he drives safe and he said "many devotees have left their bodies in car accidents". His tone implied that it is such a waste to die in such a fashion. The irony is he passed away in a similar fashion.

With sadness in my heart, he will be missed dearly. More than me I think his close friends, and family will be grieving. I sincerely pray that the Lord takes Him to His abode.

My heartfelt condolences to his wife and family and friends.

He is relatively a young man. If anything, from this death, we have to learn that this world is temporary and we may die at any moment. This message rings in my head loud and clear. I pray that the Supreme Lord gives me the proper consciousness when I depart from this world.

Good luck prabhu!! We will miss you!!

Hare Krishna