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

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

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The First Expansion of God

Today is the auspicious day of Balaram Jayanti. One who is aspiring to become spiritual, has to take shelter of Lord Balaram. Who is Lord Balaram? From the little I know, He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead Himself. It is said that the only difference between Lord Balaram and Lord Krishna is that Krishna has a bodily hue of a rain cloud and Balaram has a bodily hue of a spring cloud.

It is said there is only one Supreme Absolute Truth from whom everything emanates and dissolves. The first ever expansion of that Godhead is Lord Balaram. Balaramji sustains and maintains everything in facilitation towards Krishna. He appears before Krishna just to make sure everything is in place so Krishna can enjoy His pastimes. So Balaram is eternally in the mood of serving Krishna is so many varieties of ways. Balarama means one who gives us spiritual strength.

So what I am to do with this information? Because Lord Balaram is in the mood of servitude towards Krishna through different rasas and also a giver of spiritual strength, as an aspiring devotee of Krishna, we have to seek the mercy and shelter of Lord Balaram. Then accordingly He will purify us, give us strength and engage us in service to please Krishna.

The science of God according to Krishna consciousness is intricate and very personal. It is very much the opposite to the science of this world where everything is generalized and impersonal. It is also very much different from other world religions where God is characterized as a distant entity who either punishes or rewards us. There is no information beyond such an impersonal God.

By worshiping Lord Balaram, all our desires can be fulfilled provided we pledge our loyalty in the service of Krishna.

Hare Krishna