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

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Fasting made easy

Today is Pandava nirjala ekadasi which means one fasts from everything including water. The food for this day is air. Nothing like fresh air to rejuvenate one's senses! Actually total fast from even water may sound intimidating especially if one is not used to fasting. But as Krishna says through practice and detachment one gets the hang of it.

Fasting can be an austerity or a positive thought depending on one's mind set. It is an austerity if we think it is unnatural. After all we have this body and eating is but a natural function and stopping such a natural function seems unnatural...is it not? So every time when ekadasi approaches we may think it is something that I have to force. However we can also think it is natural because the Bhagavad Gita says we are not this body and mind. So if we gradually practice detachment from body and mind by giving up the demands of the body and mind (eating is one such demand) ekadasi will become fun versus an austerity.

One technique to keep the mind off food is to keep occupied with work. Because ekadasi is auspicious it is advised to be occupied thinking of Krishna through some form of devotional service through out the day. Trust me...we will not feel hungry. I am reminded of the verse 9.22 from Bhagavad Gita where Krishna says "But those who always worship Me with exclusive devotion, meditating on My transcendental form — to them I carry what they lack, and I preserve what they have". So Krishna will surely fill our mind and belly with higher taste to get through the day.

Happy fasting!

Hare Krishna

Stories to establish the Absolute Truth

Generally in Vedic literatures such as Puranas and ithihasas, there are stories pertaining to Krishna, Rama, Vamana etc. In that there are wonderful pastimes about the protagonist who protects his loved ones and fights with the bad people. The hero shows sentiments and emotions akin to mundane people such as crying in separation of a loved one, or crying when someone dies or elation when nice things happen. For example Lord Ramachandra exhibited human feelings of crying in separation from Sita and so was Sita who cried in separation from Lord Ram. Like this there are many such stories in Vedic literatures that arouse the sentiments of human beings when read or heard. Because of its mass appeal, such stories of Krishna and Rama are popular bed time stories and also have been actively portrayed by popular media such as cinema and television.

While such story telling propagates history and culture, it also brings a bigger misgiving that Lord Rama and Krishna and other incarnations are simply mundane personalities with mundane emotions. They are considered  human beings albeit powerful but very much flesh and blood in terms of their physical identity and mental state. They are human beings of a past era....thats all so let us hear about them in that mood. Unfortunately such mentality of bringing God to the level of man is the biggest bane of such crass storytelling. Therefore it is tantamount to hear such stories from a bonafide and authentic source who understand the science of God.

The stories in the Puranas and Ithihasas are explained by great saints (not entertainers) and heard by great saints (not mundane people). They are told in a particular manner in the mood of establishing the Absolute Truth but not as mere entertainment. What is that Absolute truth? The truth is that we are not made of flesh and blood but pure consciousness. God who descends to earth in the form of a human is also not made of flesh and blood but pure consciousness. What is the difference between us and God if both are consciousness? The difference is that we are infinitesimal consciousness and God is infinite consciousness from whom everything emanates and returns. He is the cause of all causes. There is no one equal to or above Him. He descends to earth appearing as man to establish dharma (religious principles) and to exhibit loving relationships with His loving devotees. These are the Absolute Truths one should conclude from these stories.

Therefore hearing these stories should result in unconditional and uninterrupted devotional service to Lord Krishna and Lord Ramachandra. This is the only purpose of these stories and no other.

Hare Krishna

Friday, May 25, 2012

Thy Will be Done

Why is there fear, anxiety, depression? These are negative emotions we cultivate to deal with the things, people and circumstances of this world. When our ability to control and enjoy is under threat, when the things we love, the people we love, the circumstances we control, when all of it get out of control or actually uncontrollable, we react with fear, anxiety, depression, anger, self pity etc. This is because fundamentally we are taught, trained and brain washed by our parents, the educational system, the media from early childhood that we have full control and ability to manipulate things to achieve success in our area of interest. We are trained to be the ultimate masters and controllers of our life. Therefore when things go out of control beyond our calculations we do not know how to deal with such a change. The Bhagavad Gita, however, teaches the opposite. We are never in control but instead merely cooperators. Please allow me to belabor a little more. 

In India especially, I have seen people think they can foresee future and prevent bad things from happening. They will go to astrologers (spend lot of money by the way) and somehow find faults in my astrological chart. Then they will diligently go to the temple (appropriate demigods) to perform necessary rituals to ward off evil. They think if somehow I can spend some more money and satisfy that particular deity, then my son, family and ultimately myself will be in peace and harmony. This strategy is employed right from when the child is born, the child goes to school, then after college for job, then for marriage, then for a grandchild, then for house, then for health...like this the list never ends. The attitude that we can solve our problems by ritualistic atonement and that we can indirectly control our lives is a big big illusion.

In the West people do not necessarily go to demigods but they also do the same by obsessing over science and technology. Fifty years back a child can sit in a car without child car seats and now science suggests that children are at risk of danger without child car seats. It is illegal to drive without it. Science can predict future problems and thus find myriads of solutions if anything would go wrong. The mentality, however, is the same both in the East and West. Somehow by using astrology or modern science I can control my assets, family, and friends and live happily ever after. This mentality, unfortunately, is being bred from the day the child is born.

God or Krishna is teaching us totally the opposite. He says this material world is full of miseries (no reprieve). This material world is so miserable and that everything is simply fleeting with time that it is not possible to be happy in this world. He says that the fundamental nature of misery and temporariness cannot be overcome by any material method or strategy. The only way one can be happy, He says, is if we simply surrender to Him (Krishna). Another glaring truth from the Bhagavad Gita is that Krishna says "I am the Supreme controller" and "Supreme enjoyer" and that everything belongs to "Me (Krishna)". So our ideology that we can control and create our own life is an illusion. Then apparently how is it that we feel we do control and create? After all I cannot become a doctor or engineer or anything if I do not desire, work and spend time on it. How many times have we seen people waste their lives because they are high school dropouts...so surely I am the controller of my own destiny?

Krishna says that the individual living being is strictly controlled by higher powers. He is controlled by his own actions (karma) of the past. He is controlled by time, and ultimately he is controlled directly by the Supersoul Krishna. So merely one's desire and free will on its own does not ensure material fruits, it has to be in harmony with Krishna's plan. In that sense the individual living entity is simply a "cooperator" and not the "ultimate" doer of an action. Therefore it is in our best interest to cooperate and surrender to the will of the Lord and not imagine that the individual has unlimited free will. If that is the case every cricketer should have become like Sachin Tendulkar or every physicist should have attained fame such as Einstein or every politician should have become a Prime minister or President. Why is everyone not destined to reach the highest in their field despite the desire, effort and energy? That is because the individual living being is not the full controller but merely a cooperator. He has very small independence to perform action. He is very much bound within the laws of nature. Everything is purely controlled and ordained by the Supremely Independent will of God.

When we actively cooperate with the will of the Lord and even if something goes wrong we will not react with negative emotions as explained in the beginning but rather we will seek peace in Krishna’s plan. Ultimately when our time on this planet comes to an end we will leave in peace humbly awaiting our next destination.

Hare Krishna

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Modern science - is it progressing or setting us up for stone age?

Picture above: A rainbow runner fish caught in the Pacific with a gut full of plastic particles. "Our consumption does have a life after our use that we have to take responsibility for," Eriksen says.

In the Upanishads and the Vedas, it is mentioned that human beings are fallible. They make mistakes and their sensory perception is limited. Therefore man made knowledge (modern science) is limited and flawed even. This is the fundamental reason that modern science cannot be accepted as absolute. As followers of Krishna, we accept Krishna's words as perfect because Krishna is infallible. He does not make any mistake at any time and His sensory perception is unlimited. Therefore if Krishna says something and that may sound totally out of whack to us, still we have to accept it as truth.

Below is an example of how human beings with their fallibility think they are advancing but instead putting every other organism in jeopardy.  This has to be taken seriously. The bare fact is that human beings cannot create knowledge that is perfect and complete and at some where along the line will cause more harm than good. So the pertinent question is - are we progressing or regressing?

Below is an example of how plastic was invented to create an affordable solution for mass consumption & easy use but apparently the inventor and manufacturer did not think through this fully. They did not think of how plastic can ruin nature in the long run. If plastic is going to destroy ecosystems, would you call that invention technological advancement or regression? By the way is there one product in the market today that is plastic free? Almost all modern day products have plastic in it.

In my opinion, most of modern day industrial products in some form or the other are harmful to nature either in the creation phase or disposal phase. A few I can think of are automobiles, air conditioning, paper, printers, computer technology, factory farming etc. Can you imagine modern life without one of the said products. Foolish scientists and manufacturers greedy for money do not think of the long term effects of their inventions

Below is an eye opening article about a research on the failure of plastic disposal. If we do not do something about this, we may find ecosystems absolutely ruined. Fauna and flora that had been developing for centuries will be ruined by plastic that was invented some 150 years ago.

If a man made invention of 150 years old can destroy nature's creation of more than million years, then are we truly making scientific progress?  How short sighted is our scientific community?

Please click the link below for the full article.

A marine expedition of environmentalists has confirmed the bad news it feared -- the "Great Pacific Garbage Patch" extends even further than previously known. - Full article

Hare Krishna

God's real mercy

Generally when we obtain something good we feel special especially if it is something we want. This is true when we approach God. People who believe in God approach Him for material gain and when that gain is fulfilled they feel God has blessed them and that He is taking care of them. Like this they profess loyalty to God. So generally people think that obtaining material opulence means God is showing His mercy on them and that they are special in the eyes of God.

Real mercy as described by our spiritual preceptors is when God intervenes in our life in such a way that He removes all our unwanted desires and unwanted habits that is a hindrance to our service to Him. He removes our "ahankar" or materialistic ego so that we will not be attached to the fruits of our labor. Because it is this attachment to the fruits is causing us to be bound in this world and be born again and again. Therefore to free us from this greater pain of birth and death, God, to show His real mercy, actually gives us small material pains so that we give up our material ego and consequently give up our attachments to our fruits. This renunciation of fruits actually will pave way for unalloyed devotion towards God. As long as we are attached to our material ego and fruits of our work (gross or subtle) we will have the tendency to enjoy the fruit and be the controller of the fruit which in the big picture will destroy the desire to fully surrender to the Supreme Absolute Truth.

Therefore real mercy is when God helps to cut this hard knot of attachment to the fruit of labor and fully engage our energy in serving Krishna, anything other than this is not mercy but a bane.

Hare Krishna

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

One way street

Krishna consciousness is like running a marathon race. It is a long race so you have to pace yourself. In a marathon the runner does not sprint at the start or middle but rather the sprint occurs towards the finish of the race. Similarly in Krishna consciousness we have to start and gradually progress one step at a time. It might be slow but surely has to be steady. One thing is for sure if you want to finish the race successfully there is no question of stepping backwards. It is better to practice Krishna consciousness gradually and progress in one direction than going back and forth. We have to determine our mind that Krishna Consciousness is a one way street to Goloka. Once you are on it - no returning back. This should be our conviction.

Hare Krishna 

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Facts that are not so fun

The United States of America is a materially opulent country. In the Bhagavad Gita Krishna says that material consciousness promotes base qualities such as lust, anger, pride, arrogance, greed, conceit, harshness etc. Because of such base qualities people can cause harm to others and to oneself. It also is an indication that economic development does not lead to a happy ending. Unless one has saintly qualities such as simplicity, truthfulness, freedom from anger, compassion to all beings, humility, forgiveness etc one cannot impart benefit to oneself and the society. Such qualities can be cultivated only if an individual is genuinely God conscious and is a humble caretaker of the creation of God.

Below are some statistics that show how material opulence can lead to social and moral degradation what to speak of spiritual. Any genuine and thoughtful person should take note. If a person sincerely inquires about Krishna consciousness, then such social and moral problems can be checked, in fact averted. There is no other way! Chant Hare Krishna!
  1. The United States has the highest rate of illegal drug use in the entire world.
  2. The United States has the highest divorce rate in the world by a very wide margin.
  3. The United States has the highest child abuse death rate on the entire globe.
  4. The United States has the highest teen pregnancy rate on the entire globe.
  5. According to one study, one out of every four teen girls in the United States has at least one sexually transmitted disease.
  6. Every single day, more than 3,000 American babies are killed by abortion that is more than million abortions per year. One study found that 86 percent of all abortions are done for the sake of convenience.
  7. The average American family purchases 200 pounds of meat per family member each year.
  8. Large numbers of cows that are killed for hamburger meat in America stand ankle-deep in their own manure all day long.
  9. Of all the major industrialized nations, America is the most obese (36% of Americans are considered obese). 
  10. The United States produces more pornography than any other nation has in the history of the world. One survey found that an astounding 30 percent of all Internet traffic now goes to pornography websites.
  11. The average American watches 28 hours of television every week.
  12. U.S. corporations sell more fast food and more soda than anyone else in the world by a very wide margin. The average American drinks more than 600 sodas every single year.  That is by far the most in the world.
  13. Consumer debt in America has increased by a staggering 1700% since 1971. There is more credit card debt in America than anywhere else in the world.
  14. There is more mortgage debt in America than anywhere else in the world.
  15. There is more student loan debt in America than anywhere else in the world.
  16. Americans take more prescription drugs than anyone else on the planet. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (a Federal Organization), the percentage of Americans that say that they have taken a prescription drug within the last month has risen to almost 50 percent.
  17. Research has found that more than 20 percent of all American adults are taking at least one drug for “psychiatric” or “behavioral” disorders.
  18. The percentage of women taking antidepressants in America is higher than in any other country in the world.
  19. According to the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, 36 million Americans have abused prescription drugs at some point in their lives.

Hare Krishna

Monday, May 7, 2012

Friday, May 4, 2012

Namaste Narasimhaya

Happy Narasimha Chaturdasi!

Hare Krishna

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

How devotees should control envious thoughts?

Q.Consciousness of a devotee and external behavior, is it related or independent? (This question is related to how a Vaishnava should behave in the mode of goodness so people in general are attracted by those qualities)

A. They are related. According to your consciousness, according to your thoughts and desires that is what will provoke words and actions. Therefore we have to go right to the root of the problem which is our material desires and material attachments and the Holy Name and devotional service goes right to the root of that problem and purifies our heart.

But in the meanwhile while this purification is taking place, on the external level we must be very careful to tolerate any inclination towards offensive activities. If we simultaneously perform the austerity of restraining our mind and senses and at the same time continue with the process of devotional service of chanting and hearing the Holy names and glories of the Lord, very quickly we become purified. If we do not contemplate and keep our mind endeavoring to be fixed on Krishna if we allow our mind to unrestrictedly contemplate the objects of the senses in envious and selfish thoughts then It is just a matter of time until those thoughts force us into offensive words and behavior. Therefore when these thoughts come into our mind we must restrain from giving into them and we must struggle and strain to replace them with holy thoughts. This is tapasya. This is real austerity.

Q&A with H.H.Radhanath Swami

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Young America

The United States is a developed country in comparison to other countries of the world. The US sets the pace with which people of other countries emulate. This is true in science, culture, and lifestyle. I guess some people would question this assumption especially with the economic downturn. However, by and large US is still the leader in many fields and people of the world look up to it.

However, culturally there are many things that needs to be addressed. People of the West and especially US, girls and boys mingle very easily and freely. Unlike say India where it is still a stigma to mingle freely at least in smaller towns. The bigger metro cities of India are following the Western culture in terms of male-female intimacy.

In the Vedic literatures, sex is defined as the singular act that binds the living being within the cycle of birth and death and in that sense can be considered the number one enemy when it comes to ultimate freedom. Although sex is very enchanting and stimulating in the beginning, actually, great seers of truth have concluded that it has the opposite effect - it is supremely binding and burdensome to the free spirit soul. With that as the criterion if we estimate cultures of the world, Western culture, especially the US, is designed to allow young adults to freely mingle to the point of physical intimacy. This sort of culture happens right when a boy or girl hits puberty.

Children in schools in the US due to peer pressure are forced into thinking sex is the coolest thing and therefore a must. Otherwise the young student is seen as an outcast. This I have heard anecdotally from my local friend. So parents who are raising young children, please beware of this open sexual relatonships children have at a very young age. This situation can be more difficult for parents who come from other more conservative cultures (like India for example) who are raising children in the US. Unfortunately, the US Government and parents promote early mingling and emphasize safer sex as opposed to no sex. Abstinence is a thing of the past and is considered less intelligent now days.

From a spiritual perspective, such mingling of male and female at a very young age leads to social, moral and ethical devaluation. Below are facts taken from a National Survey on teens and sexual behavior.
  • Fully 42% of young people age 12-19 agree with the statement: “It doesn’t matter whether you use birth control or not, when it is your time to get pregnant, it will happen.”
  • Even though most teens age 12-19 (86%) say they have all the information they need to avoid an unplanned pregnancy, 66% say they know “little or nothing” about male condoms and how to use them (including 36% of those age 15-19).
  • 55% of sexually experienced young people age 15-19 (including 67% of teen girls 15-19) say they wish they had waited longer before having sex.
  • 77% of teens age 12-19 who have seen MTV’s popular 16 and Pregnant and Teen Mom programs say the shows “help teens better understand the challenges of pregnancy and parenting.”
  • 74% of adults wish teens were getting more information about both abstinence and contraception rather than either/or.
  • Similarly, 65% of adults think federally funded programs designed to prevent teen pregnancy should emphasize messages encouraging teens to postpone sex and providing them with information about contraception.
source: National Campaign

If we study the answers deeply, we will ultimately find that none are trying to achieve abstinence from sex but rather preventing unwanted pregnancy. It is implied that sex at a young age is fine as long as it is safe. Such an environment prevails due to the lack of knowledge on the impact of sex on one's overall consciousness. It also has to do with the lack of spiritual and God centric values.

Currently sex is purely individualistic and whimsical. This erosion of values and knowledge has been going for many years and these results are simply a reflection of that erosion. It will only get worse especially if there is no awareness of the values of spiritual life. These young adults will become future leaders of society with their own families. What they believe and do now will set the stage for future generations.

The only way parents can prevent whimsical sex among young adults is to teach them core spiritual values. Children will adopt these values only if parents themselves do it! Unfortunately, parents especially residing in the US do not show much interest in a spiritual way of life thus paving way for children to act whimsically.

In conclusion, I would like to say Krishna consciousness teaches adults and young adults on proper values to life. By adopting such spiritual values the individual, family and society are benefited. Therefore Krishna consciousness is not a sectarian religious movement but rather a movement inspired to help people improve their quality of life and find lasting solutions.

Hare Krishna