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

Monday, December 31, 2012

Polygamy - a Vedic Perspective

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

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

Explanation from spiritual standpoint: 

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

Explanation from social standpoint: 

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

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

Therefore, to sum up;

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

Sunday, December 30, 2012

My prayers to the rape victim

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

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

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

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

Hare Krishna

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

St Francis of Assisi

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

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

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

Prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi 

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

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

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

—Saint Francis of Assisi

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Culture of Objectification

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hare Krishna

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Bhakti is what is missing!

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

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

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

Hare Krishna.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

How to know if the Absolute Truth is Krishna?

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

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

From "Prabhupada-lila" by HH Satsvarupa dasa Goswami

Monday, December 3, 2012

St Teresa of Avila

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

- St Teresa of Avila