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

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Message of Jesus Christ - New Year Resolution

In the Book of Mathews (22.37) in the New Testament, there is a story where Jesus was asked the question "what is the greatest commandment of all"? To this Jesus said “ Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments".  Jesus also preached the concept of repentance.

So in a nutshell, Jesus's main message was

  1. To repent for one's sins (in other words one should not live a materialistic sinful way of life anymore especially after repentance)
  2. To love God and love one's neighbor (in other words one should live a God centric way of life)
When Jesus was posed the question of which is the greatest commandment, he could very well have said that following him is the way of life and who so ever do not will perish in hell. Instead, however, he directs our attention to the Almighty God in heaven. Modern church, however, does not preach love of God and neighbor as the core principle of Christianity. Anyways, that is for another post.

The Srimad Bhagavata Purana which is the essence of all Vedic scriptures teaches the same principle - to Love God (SB 1.2.6). The entire Bhagavata purana was written simply to stress on this one essential and eternal truth. 

The central message of Jesus (barring all modern day corrupted teachings of the church) is the same as the central message of Bhagavata Purana. One who is without duplicity and fault finding tendency will see the central theme of both Jesus and Sukadev Goswami. And if we are sincere in our quest for a higher truth, then we also regardless of religious designation, should pursue this one principle of Love of God. 

Of course, this is not easy because today we love everything but God. We love our selves, our past & present lives, our family, friends, house, country, sports, philanthropy, social status, economic status etc etc and seek pride in them. If we want to learn to love God, then we have to transform our love from all that to God. 

God appears in many forms with many names according to time and place. So for Christians loving God can mean loving Jesus, for Muslims it can be Allah, for Jews it can be Moses and for us it can be Krishna, Rama etc

Perhaps this can be our New Year's resolution - to try to bring God more into the different aspects of our life, learn to be more grateful to Him and make an attempt in loving Him!!

Hare Krishna


Saturday, December 28, 2013

Monday, December 23, 2013

We are not these bodies

We are not these bodies - reincarnation is a law of nature. We are spiritual beings encased within these bodies. When we die, depending on our consciousness, we acquire another body.

Dr. Jim Tucker is a medical doctor & scientist studying past life memories of children using genuine scientific methods. He has written books on this subject matter clearly documenting the memories of children of their previous lives. From a spiritual perspective, it is a clear evidence to show that the consciousness survives the death of the body and moves on to other realities. Why then are we obsessed with our body? All social, economic, religious and political problems stem from a bodily concept of life.

For more information on Dr. Jim Tucker and reincarnation, please visit his site - Dr. Jim Tucker

Hare Krishna

Friday, December 20, 2013

Bhagavad Gita As it is – how to verify?

The question of verification is raised when we are concerned with distortion, hence it is an important question. One way to test for distortion is to track the changes (or lack of) in a linear fashion from origin to end (historically speaking). Another way to test for distortion is to study the desired effects of the treatment. If the results or effects deviate from our desired results/effects, then we can conclude that the treatment has been altered or distorted somewhere. So as an investigator we need to know the nature of the tool (in this case the Gita) and the desired result/goal of the tool (the Gita).

Srila Prabhupada said that verification can be done through three sources; historical evidence, spiritual authority (Parampara) and one's own self realization (atma tattva darshanam).

LINEAR REFERENCING FROM ORIGIN TO END 
Historical evidence (in the secular world historical literary evidence is held high)
This is a tedious process. Historical evidence of the Kurukshetra war for example has been tested through astronomical alignment of stars/planets, archaeological facts and radioactive testing (these are few i am aware of). Literature studies such as the Bhagavad Gita is tested by modern scholars by way of variations in grammatical/literary and language presentations. So as prabhuji mentioned, the Mahabharat has returned various results and considered by some as corrupted with different narrations of the same incident. This is much like the Crucifixion of Christ is narrated differently in the Gospel John versus Mathew or Luke or Mark. So scholars debate which version is correct. Strictly from a literary standpoint, due to lack of standard documentation techniques, one can expect distorted versions of the same story or incident. Bhagavad Gita in that historical accuracy sense may be distorted....the real answer - we do not know for sure. So if you are studying the Gita from an archaeologist and/or historian perspective, then you may be hard pressed to verify the veracity of each sanskrit sloka in the Gita.

VERIFICATION THROUGH EFFECTS OF TREATMENT (can be divided into two - spiritually speaking the following two are held high)
Spiritual Authority (Parampara System)
Having touched on the historicity of the Gita, still the slokas in the Bhagavad Gita is the same in all translations of the modern era dating back as late as 2000 years or so. Now if you are reading the Gita from the perspective of spiritual emancipation and enlightenment (effects of the Gita), then historical evidence is not useful. We need to test it from the standpoint of spiritual authority (Guru Parampara). The meaning, and interpretation of the Bhagavad Gita was, is and will be consistent within the Parampara system (cannot guarantee outside of it). So Srila Prabhupada comes within the Parampara system directly started by Lord Brahma leading to Vyas to Madhwacharya and finally to Prabhupada himself. While the language and contextual explanation may be unique to the commentator, however, the essence and meaning will remain intact. It is like old wine in a new botte principle. As time changes, people change, culture changes - so Prabhupada presents his commentaries to the audience he writes while maintaining the core spirit, value and essence of the Bhagavad Gita. The spirit is maintained air-tight within the Parampara system. So if you study the previous translations of Brahma Madhwa Parampara writings of the Gita with Prabhupada's commentary, you will find the meaning and essence repeating itself AS IT IS without ulterior motivations. So this is one way to test positive for the Gita.

One's Own Self Realization (atma tattva darshanam).
Another effect of the Gita is through one's own realization of the truth (tattva). This is one of the significant evidences that cannot be over stated. This is where most if not all miss the bus. While verifying the Gita based on spiritual authority is the first step to enter into the Gita Wisdom, it is by one's own realization one sustains the Gita and transmit the essence to future generations integral with the Parampara teachings. So spiritual authority and one's own realization goes hand-in-hand. In other words, great saints who are ALL self-realized "ARE" part of the Parampara system (are spiritual authorities). That is why we can say with 100% confidence that the Gita by Prabhupada is the gold standard. This gold standard is true even if you read any saint's translation who is part of the parampara system (it is not exclusive to Prabhupada). However, Srila Prabhupada's translation fits the 21st century audience, hence most appropriate. Besides, he is the one who took immense pain to spread the word of Krishna throughout the world and it is because of his pains we are currently reading this Bhagavad Gita As it is.

Through the parampara system and through the Gita wisdom itself, we can analyze who is a self-realized soul and who is not. Then based on that criteria, we judge appropriately. If we take the medicine appropriately given by the doctor as per the instruction of the doctor and the label of the medicine, then we will become cured of our disease. Although I may not know anything about the medicine itself, still i can vote with confidence that the doctor and medicine are bonafide. Similarly by practicing spiritual sadhana as given in the Bhagavad Gita (like the label of the medicine) and as given by the self-realized soul Srila Prabhupada (like the doctor), and if both the Gita and Prabhupada commentary is indeed genuine/valid, then the readers or audience must also become self-realized (much like the patient must be cured of his/her disease). This is the ultimate test. Bhagavad Gita As it is passes that test.

Thousands have turned their lives around (giving up drugs, illiicit sex, meat eating and intoxication) and lead pure spiritual lives by reading Prabhupada's Gita. There is so much evidence of this. While the US Federal Govt spends 1/3rd of its taxes (approx 1 trillion) on health, human services type issues, still the Govt is not able to solve the socio-economic issues that stems from drug addiction and intoxication and meat eating (obesity/health risks). Srila Prabhupada on the other hand successfully changed thousands of people's lives simply by the power of the words of Krishna in the Gita. Out of the thousands who sobered up, few hundred went on to themselves become self-realized.

Conclusion
Based on these above two points (parampara and atma tattva) we can confidently verify that the Bhagavad Gita As it is achieved its desired result/goal. To know the ultimate goal of Bhagavad Gita, please refer to BG 11.54, 11.55, 18.55, 18.65 and 18.66.

Hare Krishna

Monday, December 16, 2013

Two Scientific Dogmas

Two very dogmatic assumptions of science: (1) life comes from matter, (2) there is no life after death (everything is matter)

These two dogmatic theories are the fundamental assumptions to modern day science. The two theories can be summed up in one word "materialism". Modern science reduces all matter to materialism that consciousness is but a by-product of chemical reactions in the brain and as Richard Dawkins puts it humans are "lumbering robots".

Leaders in science and general scientific community is avidly pushing this singular agenda that life is but a combination of chemicals and the ultimate goal is to push on our species. Because there is no separation between science and state, the Government is enacting universal policies based on scientific materialism. Therefore on a subtle subconscious level, our lifestyle is designed on principles of materialism. People lack any moral compass and behave in ways that has nothing to do with genuine spiritual values. This materialism has also impacted world religions and hence global terrorism/wars.

So if we can rationally and logically prove the above two scientific assumptions as dogmatic, then we can grab the attention of people to other genuine spiritual concepts. Till then, impacting the bigger population of spiritual values is not going to be easy.

Hare Krishna

10 Reasons religion or God is impotent

  1. Corrupted leaders as heads of religious society
  2. Dogmatic/sentimental presentation of religion
  3. Dominance of science and technology
  4. Lack of genuine leaders to guide spiritual growth includes parents, guardians, mentors, religious leaders & political leaders
  5. Lack of practical relevance of God to 21st century lifestyle
  6. Lack of systematic educational system to educate people from young age
  7. Laziness/mental dullness/lack of spiritual aptitude of people
  8. Mentality that this world and life is only meant for one’s enjoyment
  9. People too busy with making money
  10. Sectarian presentation of religion

Hare Krishna



Thursday, December 12, 2013

All it takes is a cool head!

The more I think about it, people are ok with old age and death as long as they have their way, that they can be the controllers and the lord of all they survey. The power of control and enjoyment in this world is so intoxicating that one is ready to wager with disease and death.

So today is Gita Jayanti - the day Krishna spoke this epic dialogue with His devotee and friend Arjuna. In the introduction to the Bhagavad Gita, Srila Prabhupada comments that students who question old age, disease and death are the likely candidates to read this sublime discussion. And because most of us are not serious about reading the Bhagavad Gita, we can imply that we are happy controlling and enjoying in this world that we do not care so much about old age, disease and death.

Now, one may argue that I don't read the Gita because I don't believe in reincarnation or that the consciousness is independent of the body etc So if i don't believe in reincarnation then i don't have to worry about old age, disease and death as a problem because it happens only once in this life and i don't have to worry after that. This sort of childishness is a subtle way of saying I like to be in control, and that I am in control and that I want to enjoy. In other words, in order to enjoy and control, we believe what we want to believe versus the truth. But if we are sober, detached from worldly enjoyment, we will realize by mere observation of nature around us that consciousness is separate from the body and that consciousness is bound to be reborn in another body. All it takes is a cool head!

Hare Krishna



Friday, November 22, 2013

The Complete Person - The Sweet Krishna!


Krishna is so sweet! That is His special quality apart from all other qualities He possesses! He has so many names but all of them actually are tied to His devotees in some form. This connection embodies sweetness or mellows or bhava or rasa. This is the reason Krishna is Swayam Bhagavan. He is a complete Person or Purusa. We all want to imitate that completeness.

We want to be complete and in that sense of completeness we want to become perfect and in perfection we derive happiness. However, we can never imitate that perfection or completeness of Krishna because He has all characteristics of glory in full. Does He also have the bad characteristics we see in this world such as envy, pride, one may ask? Just as there is darkness, or shadow as a result of light, similarly these negative attributes are shadow truths of Krishna's opulent glory. In other words, darkness is simply an absence of light and envy, pride et al is simply an absence of love, humility et al.

In our desire to become all complete and perfect we in a subtle sense aspire and compete with the All Complete Krishna. But by nature we are separated and particle emanations of Krishna. Materially speaking if the whole disintegrates into parts, the whole no longer will exist in time. But the spiritual nature is the opposite. The whole remains and the parts also remain holistically. So Krishna still remains in His full blown glory and we also are full within our sphere of existence.

The ideal fullness or completeness therefore, is to fulfill our separated and particle property by subordinating to the Whole Krishna for that is indeed our constitutional nature. This subordination of energy actually will complete us and make us perfect and it is in this perfection or completeness that we will be happy.

So yes Krishna is so sweet that only He can be considered as God because it is through this sweetness that He blows His Flute and attracts the minds of all those living beings who have voluntarily agreed to use their minute energies in enhancing the sweetness of the Lord.

No other forms of God possesses this quality of sweetness and in no other forms of God is the mood of service of the minute individual beings so complete/perfect and consequently in no other relationships (mundane or spiritual) will we be satisfied, happy and blissful to the fullest!

Hare Krishna

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Bonafide Authority



The Vedic scripture presents an evolution of spiritual thought towards God. It evolves from the lower stages of fear to duty conscious to love towards a Transcendent Being. Depending on our nature, there are different religious principles available to follow. If, however, we want to know and love God in all His glory then we have to follow in the footsteps of bonafide authority.

A bonafide spiritual authority is one who has submissively heard from his own spiritual master and is submissively following what his spiritual master has instructed. This lineage of teacher-student should start directly from God. Anything not this, in the strict sense cannot be considered bonafide.

Today, however, there are so many believers who do not follow any bonafide authority and hence dogmatic and sentimental. The atheistic class emerge against these dogmatism and sentimentalism. Unfortunately people see both dogmatism and fervent/genuine spiritual theology as one. But if we choose to submit to a proper authority as indicated above and submissively follow the authority, rest assured we will understand the mysteries of universal spiritual values.

Hare Krishna

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

A dream about Srila Prabhupada



Today is the disappearance day of His Divine Grace A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada. It is on this day 15 years ago I first entered into an ISKCON Temple so this day has a sentimental value for me. Unfortunately, I am so dull I forgot that today is the disappearance day and hence did not fast half day. I will fast (half-day) tomorrow.

It is said that the appearance and disappearance of a divine person such as Srila Prabhupada should be considered the same unlike where the birth and death of a mundane person is seen as sources of joy and sorrow respectively. It is treated the same because souls such as Srila Prabhupada are completely spiritual devoid of any material contamination. They come into this world and leave this world as they please and they are not controlled or forced by the laws of karma unlike mundane people. So on this day we should pray to such great personalities for their mercy and blessings. We should pray that we clean our hearts of material desires and pray we remain humble servants of the servants of the servants of Krishna. In all circumstances we pray to fix our consciousness at the Lotus Feet of Sri Sri Radha and Krishna. This sort of prayer only can benefit us, everything else not this is a burden.

On this auspicious day, I would like for the readers to read a pastime of Prabhupada that happened after his departure from this world. It happened as a dream to one of his disciples. The above picture is a painting she envisioned in her dream.

Some time after Srila Prabhupada left this world, I had a very powerful  dream….In that visionary dream, I saw Srila Prabhupada sitting on a huge lion-flanked and jewel-bedecked Vyasasana.   His Vyasasana rested  on  the brightly shimmering globe of Mother Earth, and was positioned just  above the  sacred land of India. Behind him, the vast curvature of the  earth planet was  visible. A silvery bluish-white light emanated from the center of the vision, forming a giant oval, in which Srila Prabhupada  sat.

Below him were many crowds of people–all races, nationalities, and all ages–all  the people of the world, reaching out from darkness.  They were  pointing  toward Srila Prabhupada, in awe and wonder, exclaiming, reaching out, praising,  and acknowledging him according to their various abilities.  Many were in  darkness, in worldly life, yet they were all reaching out  toward Srila Prabhupada, seeking his mercy.

Above Srila Prabhupada, in the shimmering silver-blue sky, many swan-shaped  airplanes circled. In these airplanes, devas were singing praises and showering  flowers.  Cascades of colorful blossoms tumbled down from their swan  planes, as they glorified Srila Prabhupada. With sweet sounding instruments, and  heavenly chorus, they sang “Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare  Hare.  Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare…” Their joyful mood  spread throughout the universe. 

They were celebrating Lord Chaitanya’s  mission on Earth, and showering blessings upon His Senapati Bhakta, His  Commander-in-Chief, Srila Prabhupada. 

Srila Prabhupada sat regally upon the huge Vyasasana, like a lion king sits  atop a mountain.  From there he could see all the world and its  inhabitants, their sufferings, and their great need for Krishna  Consciousness.  In his mood of compassionate contemplation, he saw each  person’s needs and desires, past and present karmas, and he devised ways to  bring their hearts back to home, to love of God.

 His Vyasasana shone brightly, like a brilliant golden chariot, bedecked with  shimmering jewels.  Golden lions flanked each side of his seat, each with  piercing ruby eyes.  The Vyasasana was SO dazzling, with sparkling jewels 
of every color, that at first I could not see that something was written  there.  Then, like a camera’s zoom lens, the base of the Vyasasana came  into full focus.  As the focal point moved in onto the base, I saw, just  beneath Srila Prabhupada’s Lotus Feet, written in glittering jewels, was the  word, “ISKCON.”

As the dream faded, I was told to take color notes, and  was instructed  to paint a picture of this vision.  And the realization was transmitted to  me, that “ISKCON” is Srila Prabhupada’s Vahana, his sitting place, his carrier,  just as Lord Shiva has a bull carrier, and Ganesh a rat, and Lord Vishnu, the  glorious Eagle Garuda. 

- by H.G.Govinda Dasi (For more on the dream - please click link)

On this auspicious day, I beg Srila Prabhupada's mercy and blessings and unto all assembled Vaishnavas to bless me on my journey towards Krishna.

Hare Krishna


Monday, October 28, 2013

Subtleties of religion

The scriptures such as the Puranas and Itihasas were written for mankind to follow the righteous path of Dharma free from vice thus gradually purifying one's heart of material desires. Even in the Judeo-Christian traditions, there are codes of morality given for mankind.

Despite abundant instructions on truth, justice and spiritual values in the scriptures, still, more than any sphere of existence today - the religious sphere encompasses violence and hatred. Why? The conclusion we can come to is in the interpretation of religion and not with religion itself. When a man with imperfections study and speak from scriptures it will only manifest in imperfections. Imperfections in the extreme sense can result in fanaticism. Therefore it is imperative that we seek guidance from a perfect person who is free from doubt. illusion and envy.

During the Kurukshetra war, there was an incident where Karna completely vanquished King Yudhistira in battle.  Karna did not kill King Yudhistira because of his promise to Queen Kunti. Retreating to his tent, Yudhistira was given medical treatment. At this time, Arjuna and Krishna entered the tent to check for Yudhistira's safety. Seeing Arjuna in the tent not avenging Karna made Yudhistira angry. He criticized Arjuna to give up his Gandiva and insulted him. As a kshatriya, insult is worse than death. Arjuna famous for keeping his vows had a vow that whoever tells him to give up his Gandiva will be killed. Seeing his predicament between fulfilling his vow and killing his brother, he turned to Krishna.

Krishna, in his response was shocked that Arjuna even considered killing his brother. Finally, Krishna had this to say to Arjuna about upholding religious vows "O Pārtha, your vow was made out of childishness. Now hear from me about the higher principles of religion....morality cannot be ascertained by logic, nor even in every case by a study of the scripture. One must seek the guidance of experienced and wise elders to learn its subtleties. All this I have heard from the ṛṣis, O Pārtha"

His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada is one such rsi or saintly person- If we submissively study his books, listen to his lectures and practice his instructions,  then we also will understand the subtleties of religion beyond logic and study of scripture.

Hare Krishna

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Meaning of Initiation

In life, always, there are two things (1) form and (2) substance. In other words form represents the external act or ritual and substance represents the inner meaning behind it. Ideally the inner meaning should drive the external word, act or ritual. Otherwise the act in itself has little meaning.

Today in ISKCON, whatever little I have seen, initiation is taken seriously by aspiring devotees only up to when they get it. Of course, I don’t want to generalize but there is this tendency also among devotees today. They practice Krishna consciousness seriously to the point of initiation and then after initiation, spiritual life becomes hackneyed. But real spiritual life begins after initiation. Also, I have seen initiation is seen as a social status symbol within ISKCON and devotees have a sense of air around them. Such behavior actually is contradictory to the inner meaning of initiation.

Once initiated, the devotee actually must become more humble and tolerant and in fact aspire to seriously take the position of servant of the servant even if it is difficult. But initiated devotees (even so called senior devotees) lack the mental discipline to reject all forms of adoration, profit and distinction (materialistic qualities) thus beginning the road for downfall. So yes initiation is a serious commitment externally to practice our sadhana and internally to remain humble servants in the hands of Guru and Krishna.

Below is a transcript from a lecture about initiation given by H.H.Radhanath Swami. He captures the idea very nicely.

We should know that initiation in itself doesn't mean anything. Real initiation does not mean getting a name, sitting in front of a fire, and throwing some grains in the fire. That is not initiation. There are many people who get initiated who never got initiated…not really! It’s not something cheap. But in Kali Yuga everyone wants something cheap. 

Prabhupada said don’t try to keep your guru like your dog. Don’t think your guru is just a picture to put on the wall and say this is my guru. It’s the way most people are. What does initiation mean? It means the willingness to surrender your life to following the instructions of the guru. If you are not willing to do that, initiation is a farce. It means nothing. Then we should never encourage anyone to get initiated unless they are living a life sincerely to follow the instructions. It is better to remain a congregational devotee without an initiation. 

Getting initiated means following the four regulative principles strictly, if you are not following the four regulative principles strictly in this sampradaya and get initiated, it is a farce. It means nothing. If you are not willing to chant 16 rounds everyday it’s a farce! It means nothing! It’s a show bottle! It’s nonsense! We are not concerned with such show bottle nonsense cheap things. We are concerned something with substance. You are not going to back to Godhead because you are initiated. You are going back to Godhead because you surrendered to Krishna through surrendering to his pure devotees through the parampara and part of the process of that surrender is to accept initiation but it is not the end of itself. 

To initiate means to begin - its beginning a higher realm of surrender if you do it right. If you don’t do it right it does not mean anything. If you are not willing to put your own ego aside to hear from the words of your guru and follow, then forget about initiation. 

Initiation means a formal vow that I am going to put my ego aside and I am going to humbly follow you throughout my life with faith and if someone is actually living according to that principle then he will make real spiritual advancement and whatever spiritual advancement you make all of those connected to you will share the benefits from your spiritual advancement and eventually you will become a pure devotee – definitely! And at that time all of your descendants and all of your forefathers will be liberated for so many generations.  

- H.H.Radhanath Swami, lecture - Uttara Mother In Krishna Consciousness

Hare Krishna

Friday, October 4, 2013

Giving gifts to God

There was a time in ancient India when man spent his surplus wealth in serving the Deity form of God. God is omnipotent and hence the belief is that He resides in His Deity form to show mercy and compassion to His devotees. In reciprocation to God's love, devotees show their love by dedicating whatever they get as surplus in service to Him. This relationship of expression of love of giving gifts to God was the hallmark/essence of vedic customs, rites and rituals. Thus the fully satisfied man was a good steward of fellow living beings and nature. In such an enriched environment, there was no poverty, crime, exploitation, animal slaughter, greed, lust, pride etc - things we take for common today was not even heard of in ancient vedic culture.

Remnants of such culture can be seen even today where pious Hindus give gifts to the Deity form of the Lord. While the external rituals remain, the inner meaning of love is lost. Unless we revive our inner feelings of love for God we will not be satisfied in life. We will not be good stewards of fellow beings and nature. Our hearts will only be filled with exploitative tendencies of greed, lust, fear etc.

Feeding the poor, building orphanages or schools or hospitals might be the band-aid solution to solving social ills but the root cause solution is to clean the ecology of our own hearts from materialistic tendencies of greed, lust, pride, fear etc.

I will end this post in the spirit of Gandhi's birthday reminding us of his words - “Be the change that you wish to see in this world". The change within us can come about only if we revive our original culture of giving our surplus to God in an exchange of unmotivated gratitude, devotion and love.

Hare Krishna


Monday, September 30, 2013

Freedom


William Wallace gave his entire life in pursuit of freedom. At the end of the movie Braveheart, William was being tied to the stake and about to die, I was anticipating with eagerness William's next move? Is he going to seek forgiveness from the British Rule and be released from death or continue his defiance towards the King? I was surprised - William does not relent but shouts out "freedom" as he lay his life for his motherland Scotland. The feeling is still fresh, I was drenched with feelings of awe towards William Wallace's chivalry and his pursuit of freedom.

I had the same if not even intense feelings of awe and reverence towards Krishna when I first read the Bhagavad Gita As it is. It also was a scene set in a battlefield in pursuit of freedom. Krishna urges Arjuna to fight to annihilate adharma and reinstate dharma. But the freedom of Bhagavad Gita and the movie is not the same. Although William's cause was noble as he sacrificed his life for his countrymen, still he and his countrymen were bound to the identity of being a Scotsman. After we die we are neither British nor Scot nor Indian etc. We are spiritual beings encased within a physical body. So when the identity of the physical body is enhanced then our cause will be bound to this material world of birth and death - a temporary world. We will believe that pursing freedom for sensual enjoyment is the highest and ultimate purpose of life. We will not cultivate a desire to practice austerity to give up the physical identity. In that sense William's pursuit of freedom was binding.

Today this is also our thinking. Practicing rules of spiritual purity such as chanting God's names, refraining from eating meat, intoxication, illicit sex and gambling in a regulated manner is seen as a restriction. We think these rules restrict us from enjoying this world. This idea of binding restriction is there within us because we are intensely attached to this body and mind. We think it is unnatural to practice such rules which brings pleasure to the body & mind. In the ultimate sense, we think such rules bind us against living our life freely - the opposite of freedom!

Krishna, however, says that these very same regulative principles that we think is the opposite of freedom actually give us freedom. It gives us freedom by reinstating us back to our spiritual world free from the bondage of this physical world of birth and death. We no longer have to be subjected to state, physical, material and karmic laws. We no longer are forced to suffer old age, disease and death or miseries caused due to the body/mind, or natural disturbances or other living beings. According to Krishna, this is real freedom.

William Wallace gave freedom from the rule of British and Krishna is giving us freedom from the rule of this entire material creation (not just the British). So it is in our benefit that by practicing the regulative principles as enunciated in the Gita, we can achieve eternal freedom from the clutches of cruel death.

But a person free from all attachment and aversion and able to control his senses through regulative principles of freedom can obtain the complete mercy of the Lord.- BG 2.64

Hare Krishna

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Glory of Srimati Radharani

Krishna attracts everyone, but devotional service attracts Krishna. The symbol of devotional service in the highest degree is Radharani. Krishna is called Madana Mohana, which means He is so attractive that He can defeat the attraction of thousands of Cupids. But Radharani is still more attractive, for (because) She can attract Krishna. Therefore devotees call Her Madana Mohana Mohini, the attractor of the attractor of Cupid.

- Srila Prabhupada in the Nectar of Devotion

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Do you want to be shackled or liberated?

There are two types of people. An enlightened soul and a soul in ignorance. Externally speaking, both of them look alike. Both of them can be wearing the dress of a sadhu and speaking Vedanta. But once they start speaking, whether they are enlightened or ignorant will be revealed. As listeners we need to know the criterion for what makes one individual enlightened or ignorant.

An ignorant fool will think like this...



An enlightened soul meditate on this...



The ignorant fool thinks he is the body and his entire philosophy of living life is based on that fact - "I am this body" and "everything related to this body is mine"...so let me enjoy my life to the fullest. His entire culture, religion, and the company he keeps will also be so he can enjoy his body and mind to the fullest. Such a man will be proud of his family, attached to his past laurels and future goals, will approach God in a sentimental manner devoid of knowledge. In essence, a man on the bodily concept of life will increasingly promote enjoyment of people, relationships and things of this world (as the picture suggests). Doing so such a man becomes bound more and more to the shackles of Maya and will continue to suffer within the cycle of samsara - birth and death.

An enlightened soul will also live in the same world but will not take it seriously. He will be like a water on a lotus petal performing his duties dedicating his activities, consciousness and relationships in the service of God Krishna. Such a man will also have family but will not be proud that his family is part of his creation, he will not be attached to his past activities or future goals. His goal in life will not be to enjoy life but to serve God Krishna. Such a man will meditate on the Greatness of God Krishna at all times and try his best to use his family, money, intelligence, and energy in the service of God Krishna. Doing so, such a man becomes enlightened from within and forever liberated from the miseries of birth and death and transcends to the spiritual kingdom of God Krishna. The second picture illustrates the beginning of genuine spiritual life.

Do you want to be shackled or liberated?

Hare Krishna

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Monday, August 19, 2013

Raganuga bhakti is a natural extension of vaidhi

I liked these answers so much I thought I should make it part of my blog post. If you have already read it elsewhere, you can ignore this post. Two quotes by Prabhupada come to mind related to this question, they are something like "first deserve then desire", and then "work first samadhi later". The work he was referring to was preaching Krishna consciousness.

H.H.Hridayananda Maharaja very nicely captures the elongation of vaidhi bhakti into raganuga bhakti. I like the way he categorically states his points in bullets, gives way for easy read. When we see vaidhi and raganuga as two distinct aspects of bhakti then we are missing the point. A degree in phd cannot be separated from undergraduate studies. Phd is simply a continuation of undergraduate studies and both exist symbiotically. Similarly raganuga bhakti is a natural growth of vaidhi bhakti. Therefore by strictly practicing the instructions of our spiritual master, Krishna will award us the mercy towards spontaneous devotion unto Him. Of this, there should be no doubt!!

Please continue to read the answer given by Maharaj.

Question: It is mentioned in Jaiva Dharma that without practicing raganuga bhakti (which specifically refers to following the vrajavasis in our siddha deha and not sadhaka deha) one cannot go back to Krsnaloka or Goloka Vrindavan but one can go to Dwaraka. According to my understanding from reading Srila Prabhupada’s and other devotee’s books, I believe to serve and surrender to the Guru’s mission in the sadhaka rupa is as good as performing raganuga bhakti. I do not consider it separate although Aindra Prabhu condemns this type of approach and mentions that it needs to be cultivated separately. So I would appreciate if you can please enlighten me on this subject and let me know if we can still go back to Goloka Vrindavan to assist the servants of the servants of the vrajavasis in this lifetime just by serving in the Guru’s mission in sadhaka rupa or whether we need to separately endeavor to practice raganuga bhakti.

Answer by Hridayananda das Goswami:

1. Srila Prabhupada states many times that his faithful disciples who assist his mission will go back to Vrindavana.

2. In fact, those who devote themselves to Prabhupada’s service, and seriously practice bhakti-yoga, are coming to the stage of raganuga-bhakti. I am not doing my service because there is a rule to do it. My service to Prabhupada and Krishna is my life and I desire no other life. I find that I can easily understand Krishna’s Vraja Lila, and I am realizing myself more and more as Krishna’s eternal servant.

3. Preaching itself is raganuga-bhakti, not an inferior activity as some foolishly think. In the course of preaching, we realize great spiritual bliss and gain extraordinary insight into Krishna Lila. Most preachers I know are becoming more and more attached to Vrindavan, not Mathura or Dvaraka. That attachment comes from Krishna and indicates a devotee’s future destination.

4. The Bhagavatam does not explicitly state that we must practice a separate Raga-bhakti. Lord Caitanya stated that the Bhagavatam contains all Vaishnava-siddhanta. Therefore the requirement of practicing Raga-bhakti is not a siddhanta, a fundamental principle, but rather a detail as outlined in Chapter 6 of Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu. And details are variable, as stated by Rupa Goswami.

5. Bhaktivinoda Thakura perfectly spoke for his time. Then Krishna sent Prabhupada to make a full presentation to the world. Are we really to believe that Krishna will deny His Vraja-dhama to those who give their lives to His pure devotee, Prabhupada? That would be a ludicrous conclusion.

6. Aindra Prabhu did great service. He also wrote a book in which he seems to insult all the preachers of the world and place himself above them as their teacher. That’s what I read. I never heard an Aindra kirtana in which he first chanted the pranama prayers to his guru, Prabhupada. It is unusual to never begin kirtan by thanking and honoring your own guru, who happens to be a nitya-siddha devotee. In his book Caitanya-Caritamrta, Krishnadasa Kaviraja offers great respect to his predecessor gurus, as does Prabhupada in his books and kirtanas. If it were the case that simply chanting in Vrinavana, one could spread the sankirtana movement, why did Prabhupada leave Vrindavana to save all of us?

7. I suggest you read the Bhagavatam 6.17.28, which states that those actually devoted to the Lord do not worry about where they are going. They simply want to serve Krishna and they know that Krishna will reciprocate with their desire. Krishna clearly states in Bhagavad-gita 4.11 that He perfectly reciprocates with all souls. So if you are serving Prabhupada and you long to go to Vrindavana, why would Krishna send you somewhere else? Why would He deprive those who are most selfless, who think only of service, and who faithfully follow the pure devotee Prabhupada, not caring for their own bliss?

8. The essence of Vrindavana is selfless service, not trying to relish Krishna Lila. The essence of Vraja is forgetting any personal desire, including the desire to relish bliss, and rather doing whatever will please Krishna. We learn about what Krishna wants from His pure devotee Prabhupada. Those who think of nothing but fulfilling Krishna’s desires, as revealed by Prabhupada, are the real Vraja-vasis.

With best wishes,

Hridayananda das Goswami

Hare Krishna

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Essence of Bhagavad Gita


The pure devotee does not have to worry about the material necessities of life; he need not be anxious, because when he removes the darkness from his heart, everything is provided automatically by the Supreme Lord, who is pleased by the loving devotional service of the devotee. This is the essence of the teachings of Bhagavad-gītā. - SP Purport BG 10.11

My dear Arjuna, he who engages in My pure devotional service, free from the contaminations of fruitive activities and mental speculation, he who works for Me, who makes Me the supreme goal of his life, and who is friendly to every living being – he certainly comes to Me. - BG 11.55

Anyone who wants to approach the supreme of all the Personalities of Godhead, on the Kṛṣṇaloka planet in the spiritual sky, and be intimately connected with the Supreme Personality, Kṛṣṇa, must take this formula, as stated by the Supreme Himself. Therefore, this verse is considered to be the essence of Bhagavad-gītā. - SP purport BG 11.55

Hare Krishna

Friday, August 2, 2013

Inequality is a natural product of material society

When we talk about God as our creator, maintainer and provider, people scorn at the idea calling it primitive, unscientific and even dogmatic. In fact, people "hate" such talk in public.

In the past 200 years, say...since the beginning of industrialization, powerful leaders took upon themselves to lead the society and their respective countries to promising futures sustainable not only for them but for generations to come. Consumer capitalism (economy driven by market forces) was seen as an ideal strategy by leaders as it reinforced the idea of democracy, freedom and expression of individual creativity. In other words, every one begins with a level playing field to compete in this grand modern day race of "rising to the top" (economically, politically, and socially). America as a country captured the spirit of this ideology and led the world as the "Land of Opportunities".

Meanwhile, on my conversation about God, according to the Bhagavad Gita, a society without God in the center will disintegrate in time. The Gita states that any work done purely to satisfy one's self without Krishna or God is a cause of bondage and misery. The reasoning behind this is that God is the Master and we (living beings) are supposed to "cooperate" with one another to honor the Master. In this spirit of cooperation and honor, God nourishes our body, mind and soul.

Now, back to consumer capitalism, it is an economic model where the modus operandi is to "compete" and "not cooperate" to survive. Such competition can give rise to greed leading to suppression of the weak. As a result, today, more than ever, 4 out of 5 Americans are in poverty and top 1% of the population holds more money than all people put together. No more is it a level playing field where equal opportunities are promoted. The wealthy and powerful have a pole position. As a result the rest are left behind - the very backbone of democracy and freedom is put into question as a result of such lopsidedness.

Therefore we have to bring God back into society as the creator, maintainer and provider. By cooperating with one another in a mood of service and by putting God in the center we can practically realize a spiritual society free from inequalities.

 

Hare Krishna

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The power of a Vaishnava

Q: I have heard and read that if we become Pure Devotee then 100 generations (both past and future) in our family gets liberated. Is it just a symbolic statement or actual fact? If it is a fact, what it practically implies? I mean from details point of view, who are considered as family members and what happen to them after liberation etc.

A: The number of generations that get liberated depends upon the stature of the devotee. In Srila Prabhupader Upadesamrta (“The Nectarean Instructions of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Prabhupada”), the following fact is presented by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur.

“When a great saint, a pure devotee, appears in a family, his ancestors and descendants for a *hundred* generations are elevated. When a devotee of middle stature (madhyam bhagavat) appears in a family, his ancestors and descendants for *fourteen* generations are elevated. When a neophyte devotee appears in a family, his ancestors and descendants for *three* generations are elevated.”

In the case of Prahlada Maharaja, the Lord offers him the following benediction:

The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: "My dear Prahlada, O most pure, O great saintly person, your father has been purified, along with *twenty-one* forefathers in your family. Because you were born in this family, the entire dynasty has been purified." [SB 7.10.18]

Another reference is -
"... if someone becomes a pure Vaisnava, or devotee of the Lord, ten generations of his family before his birth and ten generations after will be liberated.” [Krsna Book, Ch 64, Story of King Nrga]

The above statements directly answer your question about who the family members are. They are the past and the future generations with respect to the devotee’s immediate family.

These numbers (associated with the ancestors and the descendants) are authoritatively presented in the scriptures and are therefore meant to be taken literally (not symbolically).

In a room conversation (cited below), Srila Prabhupada clarifies that the *liberation* awarded to the family members is tantamount to an opportunity to become a devotee.
    ___

Pusta Krsna: One who becomes a devotee, the statement is that fourteen generations of his family, past, present and future, become liberated. So what kind of liberation does the family members of a pure Vaisnava get?

Prabhupada: Liberation means -- that is explained by Caitanya Mahaprabhu -- to become devotee. That is liberation. To become a devotee is itself liberation. (break)

Answer by H.H.Romapada Swami

Hare Krishna

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Artificial Age

In this day and age, everything has become superficial and artificial. People are estimated based on looks, income, wealth, social prestige, etc So corporations in pursuit of money understand this artificial age and promote to the fullest to gain money.

If we are aspiring to become spiritual, we have to aspire to look beautiful from inside and not so much outside. We should aspire saintly qualities. This will attract Krishna.

Anyways, below is a video that nicely shows the artificial nature of beauty.

 

Hare Krishna

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

My favorite song


gaurāńga karuṇā koro dīna hīna jane
mośamo patita prabhu nāhi trībhūvane

dante tṛṇa dhari gaura ḍāki he tomare
kṛpā kari eso āmār hṛdaya mandire

jadi dayā nā karibe patita dekhiyā
patita pāvana nāma kisera lagiyā

paḍechi bhava tuphāne nāhika nistāra
śrī carana taranī dāne dāse kara pāra

śrī kṛṣṇa caitanya prabhu dāser anudāsa
prārthanā karaye sadā narottama dāsa


O my dear Lord Gauranga! Please show Your mercy to this lowly and destitute soul. O Lord! There is no one more fallen than myself in all the three worlds.

Holding grass between my teeth, O Lord Gaura, I am calling out to You now! Please be compassionate upon me and come to reside within the temple of my heart.

If You do not give Your mercy, seeing how fallen I am, then why are You known as Patita Pavana -- the merciful Savior of the fallen?>

I am plunged amidst the violent hurricane-stricken waves in the ocean of this material world, from which there is no escape. Kindly give me the gift of Your divine lotus feet, which are compared to a boat in which Your servant may cross over the ocean of birth and death.

Narottama Dasa, the servant of the servant of Lord Sri Krsna Caitanya Prabhu, ceaselessly makes this prayer.

By Srila Narottam Das Thakura

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Is he a kind man?

On my work desk, I have a photo frame of Srila Prabhupada gifted to me by my wife. Once one colleague of mine looked at Prabhupada and asked who he is? I said he is my spiritual teacher. Then she starred at the picture intently for a second and asked me a question - Is he a kind man? I did not expect that question but I could understand as Prabhupada was grave in the picture. I replied that he is indeed very kind and compassionate.

Krishna consciousness, however fully spiritual, is a personal philosophy which means it is all about loving relationships. Kindness is the beginning of love and Srila Prabhupada was hard as thunder and soft as a rose with his disciples and both characteristics was a display of his compassion.

The colleague of mine like everyone in this world has a material understanding of love and kindness which pertains solely to the body&mind and hence would not understand such transcendental expressions of kindness and love.

Below is a video that depicts his loving relationship with his disciple that is purely on the spiritual plane.




Hare Krishna

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Real meaning of Initiation

Initiation is a process in Bhakti Yoga where the practitioner formally commits to his/her Spiritual Master as the disciple. The newly initiate formally enrolls into the Guru Parampara which originally began from the Supreme Being Krishna Himself. Hence, as you see, is a serious and eternal commitment.

Below are the words of a great saint and revolutionary spiritual leader on the inner meaning of initiation. Anyone aspiring initiation and the already initiated should consider his words with gravity.

The process of attaining transcendental knowledge is called initiation.  We should know that the Supreme Lord is the transcendental Absolute Truth, we are His eternal servants, and we have no duty other than to serve Him.  Knowing this is actual initiation.   The absence of understanding is ignorance.  At present, there is a controversy about the word “Initiation.”  People proudly claim that they have taken initiation from a bona fide spiritual master, but how can they maintain material attachment even after taking initiation ?  How can they desire to make advancement in material life ?  If they don’t learn about their relationship with the Lord, independent and proud people uselessly brag about their initiations.  Rather than treating their spiritual master as if he were as good as God, they treat him as their disciple, fit  to be their order-supplier. Considering the guru an ordinary mortal being, these persons become offenders at his lotus feet.


Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur
Page No.262 and 263 of the book ‘Amritha Vani’

Hare Krishna

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

I am Living Proof

Upendra Prabhu and I had just observed Nirjala Ekadasi in Sri Vrndavan Dham.It was June of 1977. The temperature was over 100*. Even though we were young we became very weak and I could hardly stand up by the end of the day.Upendra would cook Srila Prabhupada's lunch every day spending hours every morning toiling away in the kitchen. Srila Prabhupada had been sick and he actually came to Vrndavan specifically to 'leave his body'. Even though Upendra worked so hard to prepare the foods the way Srila Prabhupada liked it; Srila Prabhupada had been refusing to eat.

For the previous few weeks when the Plate was brought to Srila Prabhupada he waved it off saying, "Distribute!". Well after fasting the day before and becoming so weak Upendra got frustrated when Srila Prabhupada again refused to eat. Upendra asked Srila Prabhupada how it was that we young boys could barely survive one day of fasting in the Vrndavan heat and he had been fasting for weeks now. Upendra asked Srila Prabhupada, "How do you do it?"

Srila Prabhupada responded, "I am living proof that the soul is not dependant on the body for subsistance; but rather the body is dependant on the soul"! Although I was a neopyhte I could see that Srila Prabhupada was totally Krishna conscious and above the bodily concept of life. He was/is a total inspiration to me. Those were the best days of my life. To serve Srila Prabhupada in Sri Vrndavan Dham was a dream come true. I counted my blessings as I gazed out my window at night and could see Srila Prabhupada translating his books all night long on his rooftop.I could hardly sleep at times anxious for the next morning when I could resume my daily services for Srila Prabhupada. All glories to our transcendental spiritual master; the acharya, our living proof!

"He lives forever by his divine instructions and the followers live with him"

By Gauridasa Pandita Dasa

Friday, June 7, 2013

I Appeared For Two Reasons

I was fanning Srila Prabhupada in his garden. Swarupa Damodar Swami had just come and began to tell Srila Prabhupada about the scientific conference they had just held in Bombay. Even though this was the time when Srila Prabhupada was sick; he became very enlivened by hearing of the preaching program. Srila Prabhupada sat up straight and pointing his finger to the sky, he declared, "Actually I appeared in this world for two reasons: to establish Krishna as the Supreme Personality of Godhead and to defeat the rascal scientists!" He told Swarupa Damodara that he was very pleased that he was preaching in the scientific community like that. Srila Prabhupada wasn't against all scientists; just the ones who tried to 'replace' God and promote their atheistic theories such as the 'big bang' and the like. Some of the devotees today are doing a good job preaching in the scientific community. I'm sure this is very pleasing to Srila Prabhupada.

There is a big debate, in India and around the world, over who is the Supreme Godhead. Srila Prabhupada cleared up the issue and established that Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He did this using guru(teacher); sastra (scriptures) and sadhus(saints) to support the facts and his own realization. Srila Prabhupada didn't water-down the philosophy just to attract some easy followers. He presented the highest truth. Because of Srila Prabhupada, people in every town and village around the world are now chanting the Holy Names of the Lord and perfecting their lives. All glories to the greatest guru of our times; who worked so hard day and night, to translate the Vedic literatures that benefit us now and for thousands of years to come. Srila Prabhupada gave us the highest treasure; the 'matchless gift'. Let's take advantage of the gift and go back home, Back To Godhead!

Vrndavan, India June 1977

By Gauridasa Pandita Dasa

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Preaching with patience and detachment

Amogha gave Justin a couple of Back to Godhead magazines and walked with him to his car. Justin expressed his mind -- he had found Prabhupada's arguments thought-provoking and convincing -- especially those concerning the connection between contemporary problems and the bodily concept of life. As he was leaving he turned to Amogha and smiled. "Now I have to go back to my fourth-class life." Amogha related this to Srila Prabhupada, who was happy to hear the news. "This means he has understood," Prabhupada said. "He is better than so many clergies."

The quote above is taken from a conversation between Prabhupada and Justin. It was to a certain degree long winded going back and forth. Finally Justin had to leave Prabhupada’s association. The quote above is during his exit talking to Prabhupada’s disciple Amogha.

If you notice at the end, although Justin acknowledged everything Prabhupada said, still he indicates going back to “fourth class life”. So did Prabhupada’s preaching succeed or fail because if Justin went back to fourth class life then did his preaching make any lifestyle difference? Prabhupada expresses happiness that Justin intellectually understood the subject in comparison to numerous clergies who cannot even understand the basics.

So Srila Prabhupada sowed the seed of spiritual knowledge. The hope is this seed will fully fructify into love of God, in time. However, at the current instant, Prabhupada was satisfied with the seed. This shows his patience and detachment from fruits despite his laborious efforts.

We should also aspire to follow in Prabhupada's footsteps. We may preach to so many people with all our heart and mind but no one may take up Krishna consciousness, some may appreciate the philosophy and some may not care…regardless of the result we should be detached from the fruits of our labor. This detachment can come within us only if we fully understand that Krishna is the Supreme controller (and not I) and ultimately He is the one who inspires  people (from within) to be Krishna Conscious.

Hare Krishna

Monday, June 3, 2013

Wannabe pastor

Today I had an opportunity to meet a wannabe pastor of the baptist christian faith. In a week's time, he is leaving for Manila, Philippines. One thing that struck me is how the christians in general are so organized to preach the message of Jesus all over the world. Although I feel the religious system does not fully explain the complexity of creation, life, sustenance and destruction, still many christians travel and preach the word of Jesus.

In our brief conversation, I was sort of introduced to the doctrine of baptism. The baptist doctrine states that salvation can happen purely by the grace of Jesus Only. In their belief system, God's grace does not require one to behave in a saintly manner. In other words, as long as we strongly believe and adhere to Jesus, then, by His power and grace, one attains the Kingdom of God. So my question to the wannabe pastor was how does Baptism account for misbehavior or bad behavior of man? He said a true christian will imbibe the values of Christ within him and will act in accordance to Christ's will. He said although we may fall down multiple times  in our life for our bad behavior, still we will be saved, as long as we believe in Jesus Christ. In simple terms, baptist doctrine stresses more on being "baptised" to become a "christian" than following a spiritual and saintly life. It is something like if a devotee in Krishna consciousness stress more on getting initiated (something like baptised) and not care so much about chanting 16 rounds or follow the four regulative principles etc. Initiation becomes meaningless if we are not following the instructions of the spiritual master. But in Baptism, they value being a baptised christian more than following proper spiritual codes and conduct.

My main purpose to connect with the wannabe pastor was to give him a Bhagavad Gita. I gave him the book and spoke few words about the Gita. I talked about reincarnation, karma, vegetarianism etc. Perhaps he may not read but I urged him to read the introduction and strongly recommended to give up meat eating especially cows.

All said and done, I wish him luck in his future as a pastor. But truth be told, if he goes beyond the surface of studying baptist doctines and actually connect with Jesus in a spiritual sense, then, I am confident he will be attracted to the message of Krishna given in the Bhagavad Gita. Bhagavad Gita is an advanced science about God and whoever is serious to know God beyond religious indoctrination will surely appreciate the philosophical presentation given by Krishna about Himself, the living beings and this world.

Hare Krishna


Thursday, May 30, 2013

Irish Brown Soda Bread

Last few days I was hankering for some bread not made of yeast. So I did some research and decided to make Irish Brown Soda Bread. Baking soda is the leavening agent along with buttermilk or liquefied yogurt. Anyways, below are the pictures and a brief description about the recipe.




Recipe

Whole wheat flour - 3.5 cups
All purpose flour - 0.5 cups
Buttermilk or liquid yogurt - 2 cups or as much necessary to make a slightly wet dough
Sugar - 5 teaspoons (adjust to taste)
Salt - 1.5 teaspoon (adjust to taste)
Baking Soda - 1.5 teaspoon
Organic raisins - 1 cup (optional)

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 deg Fahrenheit. 
  2. In a large mixing bowl, add in the dry ingredients. Blend nicely
  3. Create a well in the middle and add the wet ingredient that is the buttermilk
  4. Mix nicely but DO NOT knead long like a regular dough. It is important not to knead too much as the bread will become hard and stiff. Just incorporate the ingredients nicely together and add flour till the dough is  not sticking. Make the dough into an oval like ball.
  5. Move the dough to a pan with parchment paper.
  6. Make an "X" on top of the dough so when the dough rises it will expand nicely.
  7. Leave the dough on the table top for around 30 minutes so the ingredients start to chemically react with each other. Some recipes skip this step. However, I allowed the dough to rest for 30 minutes.
  8. After resting for 30 minutes, bake the bread in the preheated oven for 60 to 70 minutes.
  9. Remove from oven. It can tested by inserting a toothpick in the center and if it comes out clean then it is cooked. Another way is to tap the base for a hollow sound. I tested using both methods.
  10. Very important: Leave the bread to cool completely for at least 2 hours. Then cut it into slices otherwise the bread will crumble and become powdery which will not be nice.
  11. Finally I applied some butter on top and offered to Lord Krishna.
The bread came out nicely for me and I had a peanut butter and jelly slice. I also had a cheese and olive slice. 

Hare Krishna

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

No more death!

Death is literally and symbolically morbid meaning it represents cessation of everything we experience, hence people say death is cruel. The scriptures say there is only one way to conquer over death, and that is to take shelter of Krishna who is also referred as Ajita. Ajita means one who can never be conquered by anything including death. Krishna is also referred as Swarat which means He is supremely independent not subjected to death. So by taking shelter of such an individual, we also can conquer death.

I was listening to Prabhupada lecture and found the below narration highly inspirational hence sharing here.

So mrtyu, death, is stopped as soon as you take Krsna consciousness very seriously, immediately, from that moment, as soon as you are initiated. You promise before the spiritual master, "Yes, I am initiated, I shall act like this," and if you follow, then your death is stopped from that point. No more death. No more death. Simply an official business, just like you sleep and again you awake, similarly, a devotee's death is like that. It is like sleeping, and next moment in the spiritual kingdom, immediately. Immediately. When he will rise, he will see that "I am with Krsna." This is the fact!

Srila Prabhupada Lecture - Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.16.8 -- Los Angeles, January 5, 1974

Hare Krishna

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Devotee Association - Most Essential Element in Krishna Consciousness

It is extremely essential to associate with the spiritual master and with Vaisnavas who are fully surrendered to the spiritual master.  Unless we associate with Vaisnavas, how will unqualified people like ourselves learn the proper code of conduct and come to serve Guru ?  We always need ideal examples. If we don’t associate with Vaisnavas who are fixed at the spiritual master’s lotus feet, attached to chanting the holy name, and fixed in the Lord’s service, we cannot ourselves become fixed at guru’s feet. We cannot learn to consider the spiritual master our well-wisher. We cannot understand that the spiritual master is as good as God.  We cannot develop the tendency to serve the spiritual master.  If genuine devotees who are fixed at the Guru’s feet teach us neither how to serve the spiritual master nor how to behave when we are with him, then even after receiving a bona fide spiritual master we may lose him.  We would be losing a coveted jewel if we were bereft of his service.

- Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur (Page No.17 and 18 of the book ‘Amrta Vani’)

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Six Ingredients

Six ingredients in worshipping the Deity
  1. Water
  2. Aasana
  3. Cloth
  4. Lamp
  5. Food grains
  6. Betel nuts
Six ingredients for invoking auspiciousness
  1. Cow dung
  2. Cow urine
  3. Yogurt
  4. Milk
  5. Ghee
  6. Gorocana
Six ingredients in devotional path or bhajana marga
  1. Offering obeisances
  2. Offering prayers
  3. Offering the fruits of all activities
  4. Offering services
  5. Remembering the Lotus Feet of the Lord
  6. Hearing topics of the Lord
source: Sri Chaitanya Bhagavata Madhya Kanda Part One, Ch six Text 33 Purport

Hare Krishna

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Society of cheaters and cheated

Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Maharaj is quoted as saying this human society (referring to modern society) is a combination of the cheaters and the cheated. Maharaj also is famous for saying that this material world is not a fit place for a gentleman.

Therefore, the only way a man can live "happily" in this world is if he is blind, ignorant and selfish or if he is a cheat himself. If a man is blind to other people's suffering, ignorant to the real problems of this world and selfish always worrying about his own needs and wants, then such a man can successfully and happily live in this world. Otherwise, the only other option is to cheat himself.

Any sane gentleman with an ounce of self-respect and gentlemanliness cannot and will not tolerate the modern day society of living- so much quarrel- so much hypocrisy. Therefore, the only recourse for such a gentleman is to become Krishna conscious. Krishna conscious means God conscious!

Hare Krishna

Monday, May 13, 2013

Entomophagy

In the Isopanishad, it is said that God the Supreme Being is complete and perfect and all His creations are complete and perfect. It implies that there should be no food shortage or food poverty in His creation. People should not go hungry for want of food. Nature is so perfect and unlimited that man can use Nature's bounty to sustain and grow himself. Why then is there food poverty? It is not because nature is inadequate or incomplete, it is because man who has the freedom to control, misuses his control out of greed and takes more than he needs thus creating a an artificial gap between resources, and people. Such unscrupulous leaders and guides of society who have the power to control the resources are the main culprits behind food poverty.

Despite the mismanagement of natural resources, the UN has taken a bizarre step to reduce food poverty. It is recommending human beings to eat insects. Gradually, the so called leaders of society are leading the way for people to degrade into animalistic lifestyle (mode of ignorance or tamo guna) . Human beings are meant to eat grains, fruits, roots, nuts, and milk products (mode of goodness or satva guna) and not animal flesh or insects. It is the grossest form of food habit. However, by planting the seed to eat insects, down the road, perhaps in two or three generations this sort of cuisine will be a normal practice.

Below is the article where insect eating is recommended.

The 200-page report, released by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, on May 13 at the organisation's Rome headquarters, called for restaurants, chefs and food writers to promote the eating of insects, in a bid to fight world hunger and global warming.

"Insects are everywhere and they reproduce quickly," the FAO said, adding they leave a "low environmental footprint."

They provide high-quality protein and nutrients when compared with meat and fish and are "particularly important as a food supplement for undernourished children".

Insects are "extremely efficient" in turning feed into edible meat, converting feed mass into meat four times more effectively than cows. The report suggests this would allow food to be produced more cheaply, with fewer emissions. Insects are high in protein, and can also be rich in copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, selenium and zinc.

Entomophagy, or the practice of eating insects, has a long history, and is currently practiced by two billion people world wide. The report counts around a thousand edible insect species, from the small grasshoppers served "toasted in a little oil with garlic, lemon and salt" on the streets of Oaxaca, to the fly eggs, gathered from stagnant water, that Montezuma enjoyed for breakfast, which the report optimistically terms "Mexican caviar".

The FAO admits that consumer disgust will remain a barrier to their adoption into the Western diet.
However, squeamish westerners may already be practicing entomophagy unawares. Some degree of insect contamination is considered inevitable in large scale agriculture. The United States Food and Drug Administration considers wheat flour with an average of 75 or fewer insect fragments per 50 grams, and tomato juice with no more than one maggot per 100 grams, appropriate for human consumption.

Source: The Telegraph

Hare Krishna

Thursday, May 9, 2013

An inner still voice

I have a belief - a belief based on personal experience and introspection. Although this belief stems from my experience in life, hence very much subjective to myself, still, I also believe this could be true to every single being in this creation - A generalization that breaks all norms of modern scientific rigor.

Although I still find it hard to accept certain things that happened to me in my life still somewhere I know it was and is the perfect arrangement of destiny. Over the many years, I have had my share of misgivings which has led me to intense burst of anger and anguish followed by remorse and inner contemplation. In my phase of contemplation, I most often than not agree to how things pan out, even though painful. I invariably agree to the perfect arrangement simply because of the realization I get at the end. The final realization I always get benefits me in my spiritual realization of God. Such realizations are perfect thus making the incidents perfect because to realize God is the ultimate purpose of human life.

When we accept the ideal of God realization as the ultimate purpose of human life, then, whatever good or bad happens to us, we will gradually learn the art of not finding fault with our immediate causes of our problems. In the same vein, we will also not be passionate about seeking solutions to our problems, Rather we will cultivate the tolerance to accept our situation as it is and in that peaceful state of mind introspect our inner self. During this time of introspection or contemplation, we will hear an inner voice reverberating -a voice solacing us, guiding us, and ultimately teaching us the real principle of human life. This inner voice cannot be the mind or intelligence because in a bad situation, the mind and intelligence is disturbed, and beyond this disturbance, we will hear an undisturbed still voice.

Personally, I believe this inner still voice to be the voice of God Krishna. I believe every living being gets this inner voice especially during the time of despair. This still voice of God has a purpose - a deeper purpose beyond all the temporary duties of this world. God loves us so much He guides us in many ways. He will send a messenger, speak through the scriptures, come Himself and/or ultimately guide us from within. We only have to be ready to listen and take guidance in a humble manner without our own dictation, and when we do, our life incidences' will be signposts guiding us towards one purpose - that is - back home to the loving arms of God Krishna.

All our problems pale in front of God's oceanic love for us.

teṣām evānukampārtham
aham ajñāna-jaṁ tamaḥ
nāśayāmy ātma-bhāva-stho
jñāna-dīpena bhāsvatā

To show them special mercy, I (Krishna), dwelling in their hearts, destroy with the shining lamp of knowledge the darkness born of ignorance.- BG 10.11

Hare Krishna

Friday, May 3, 2013

Societies based on unique birth-print

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness" - Thomas Jefferson, Declaration of Independence, 1776 ACE

According to the three modes of material nature and the work associated with them, the four divisions of human society are created by Me” - Lord Sri Krishna, Bhagavad Gita (4.13), 3100 BCE

Krishna’s statement is categorically opposite to what Jefferson has stated above. In fact, it is self-evident from society that men are not treated equally implying they are not created equally. Existence of slavery was one example. Another one is the issue where men and women and different races get different incomes despite having the same qualifications. Broadly, one can say there is discrimination based on skin color, external beauty, IQ levels, job skills, religion etc. One’s social and economic status is dependent upon these criteria and one is discriminated based on it.

Not everyone is interested to become a doctor, or accountant, or lawyer or entertainer etc. Human beings have a natural inclination towards certain fields of knowledge and consequently engage in that field. That natural inclination begins right from birth. So if these inner qualities are from birth, then all men actually are not created equally rather they are born with innate qualities which are unique and individualistic to the person right from birth. Every individual creates a unique birth-print on this world.

Krishna’s model of this world of divisions of society based on nature acknowledges that unique birth-print and hence is a more accurate portrayal (self-evident) of reality versus the Utopian idea of equality. Life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness are possible only if beings are treated fitting their inner nature. Therefore discrimination and differentiation is an inevitable truth. Modern society woefully falls short of creating conditions or environments that suit the differences among men.

In the Vedic society, however, there were eight broad divisions which were clearly demarcated. The four social orders were the intellectuals, the administrators/soldiers, the businessmen/farmers, and the laborers/technicians who served the above three. Then there were the four spiritual orders which were the celibate students, married householders, intern-renunciates and full renunciate monks. These broad eight divisions were clearly demarcated based on one’s desire to work and spiritual values. When the demarcations are clearly established, there is respect for one another and happiness is automatic.

The fact that today’s society is ridden with so many social mores is enough evidence to conclude that artificial equality among human beings creates friction and hence not working. It is therefore scientific to create a society where all types of people are respected for who they are and treated appropriately for who they are. Only such societies can actually yield liberty and happiness.

Hare Krishna

Friday, April 26, 2013

Consciousness does not annihilate after death

We can run but we can't hide is a popular saying from a rock band in the US. In one sense, it is true, we can run from the truth but eventually the truth will catch up with us, we cannot hide from it.

More and more, there is growing evidence from mainstream science - consciousness as separate from the brain and body. Dr. Sam Parnia, a leading scientist and doctor has been conducting studies over the years on patients who were resuscitated from death. Some of them have stories to tell that cannot be denied. Dr Parnia says "The evidence we have so far is that human consciousness does not become annihilated".

If you are interested to know more on this, please read the entire article in this link.

From a Krishna Conscious perspective and Bhagavad Gita, we have no doubts that consciousness is indeed separate from the physical body and mind. We existed in the past, exist in the present and will exist in the future, of this there is no doubt!

Hare Krishna






Thursday, April 25, 2013

Letter to Pope Paul

The letter by Srila Prabhupada to The Pope is as much relevant today as it was in 1968 in fact in my opinion it has gotten worse. Please read carefully the type of culture we are actively promoting for ourselves and our children. As Mahatma Gandhi said "be the change you want to see in the world" and so in that spirit, let us vow to make that change within our heart from materialism to God-centric and in time spread that consciousness to others. The change begins with us. Please read the letter - Hare Krishna.

AN OPEN LETTER TO POPE PAUL VI From A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada


ISKCON Radha-Krishna Temple
3720 Avenue Du Parc
Montreal 18
Quebec, Canada
August 3, 1968

His Holiness Pope Paul VI
Vicar of Jesus Christ
State of Vatican
Rome, Italy

Your Holiness:

Please accept my respectful humble obeisances at your Lotus Feet. I beg to introduce myself as an Indian monk, following the Vedic principles of religious life. At the present, I am in the renounced order of Sannyas, aged 72 years, and am preaching God consciousness all over the world. I came to America in 1965, and since then I have many followers belonging to both Christian and Jewish faiths. And I have established a number of Krishna Consciousness temples in the USA and Canada. In the coming months, I am scheduled to go to London on this mission, and maybe I can visit other cities of European countries.

My mission is in the line of Lord Chaitanya, Who is personified Love of Godhead, and Who advented Himself 482 years ago in India, and preached God consciousness all over the world, on the basis of Srimad Bhagwatam (The Science of God). The principle of Srimad Bhagwatam is that any religious faith which helps a man to develop love of God, without any motives, and without being hampered by any material condition, is transcendental religion. And the best process or the easiest process, in this age especially, is to chant the Holy Name of God. From this definition of religion as we find it in the Srimad Bhagwatam, the criterion of religion is how it helps people to develop their dormant love of God. This is not artificially invoked, but it is aroused from within, due to bona fide association with devotees, and by hearing about God.

The human form of life is especially meant for this purpose, namely, to invoke the dormant love of God, because a higher development of consciousness is found in both man and animals. But the special significance of human life is to achieve love of God as the prime perfection of life. Unfortunately, at the present moment people are more concerned about the principle of sense gratification, or the animal part of human life, and they are gradually declining in God consciousness. This tendency is very much increasing, and because Your Holiness is the head of a great religious sect, I think we should meet together and chalk out a program for cooperation.

Human society cannot any longer be allowed to continue a Godless civilization at the risk of decreasing truthfulness, hygienic principles and mercifulness. Because, on account of the decline of these principles at the present moment, the duration of life, strength and memory of the human being is decreasing. Human society is gradually devolving in the matter of religiousness and justice; and "might is right" is gradually taking the place of morality and justice. There is practically no more family life, and the union of man and woman is gradually coming to the standard of sexuality. I understand it from reliable sources that people are trying to get Your Holiness' sanction for the contraceptive method, which is certainly against any religion of the world. In the Hindu religion, such contraceptive method and abortion are considered equivalent to murder.

Therefore, in the matter of sex, the human society is gradually becoming even less than animals. As a result of unrestricted sense gratification, even in ordinary dealing a man cannot trust another man, because the cheating propensity of man has increased beyond imagination. The attraction of young boys for young girls is no longer even a matter of love, but exists only on the basis of sexual potency. And as soon as there is a slackening of sex life, there is immediately a divorce petition.

In India, which was once the land of religion and Brahminical culture, things have deteriorated to such an extent that a man in a higher caste is recognized simply by putting a piece of thread on his body as a sign of sanctity. The so-called Swamis are cheating the public because the public wants to be cheated by some cheap method of self-realization. And today, if someone has no sufficient money, it is very hard for him to get justice from the court. And if anyone can simply bluff by so-called advancement of knowledge, he is offered the doctorate degree. If a man is falsely proud, he is accepted as civilized.

By frustration, people are gradually becoming communists and hippies, and the guardians of society must now take up the situation very seriously, without further delay.

The Krishna Consciousness movement is meant for overhauling the whole situation. We are creating men of character, and we are training our disciples to becoming lovers of God, or Krishna. From the very beginning, they are trained to refrain from the following four principles of degradation: 1) sex life outside of marriage, 2) meat-eating, or the eating of any animal food, 3) all forms of intoxication, and 4) gambling and idle sports. Our teachings are based on the authorized movement of Lord Chaitanya, on the principles of Bhagavad Gita, as the beginning, and Srimad Bhagwatam as the graduation.

I do not wish to prolong the body of this letter further, but if you think that my meeting with you will be beneficial for human society at large, I shall be very much pleased if Your Holiness will grant me an interview. Thanking you in anticipation of an early reply, I am

Yours in the service of the Lord,
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami


- From "Prabhupada-lila" by HH Satsvarupa dasa Goswami

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Charity to the soul

I just got this in my inbox which prompted this post.

Mr.Kalayanasundaram worked as a Librarian for 30 years. Every month in his 30 year experience(service), he donated his entire salary to help the needy. He worked as a server in a hotel to meet his needs. He donated even his pension amount of about TEN(10) Lakh rupees to the needy.

He is the first person in the world to spend the entire earnings for a social cause. In recognition to his service, (UNO)United Nations Organisation adjudged him as one of the Outstanding People of the 20th Century.. An American organisation honored him with the ‘Man of the Millennium’ award. He received a sum of Rs 30 cores as part of this award which he distributed entirely for the needy as usual.

Moved by his passion to help others, Super Star Rajinikanth adopted him as his father. He still stays as a bachelor and dedicated his entire life for serving the society.

Krishna tells Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita "Acts of sacrifice, charity and penance are not to be given up; they must be performed. Indeed, sacrifice, charity and penance purify even the great souls."
- BG 18.5

Charity is done for the purification of one's mind. Charity in the mode of passion or ignorance, on the contrary, can bind one to this world. Therefore charity in the mode of goodness must be performed to liberate one to the spiritual plane. Of all the charities, the best charity is that where the recipient has to never  suffer again and such a charity can happen only on the spiritual strata. While Mr Kalyansundaram's act of charity for the past several years is a humongous act of generosity and that which needs universal commendation, still, his help was focused on the body&mind of a living being.

While charity to the body&mind is important, charity to the soul is most important. It is most important because charity to the soul is not temporary where as charity to the body&mind is. Therefore, enlightening a soul on the real values of human life is the highest and greatest charity one can perform. The perfection of enlightenment is achieved when one is fully Krishna conscious. By preaching about Krishna, and inducing living beings to become Krishna conscious, Krishna will be the swift deliverer of all problems of life during life and at during death,

The US  Government spends approximately 750 billion dollars (11% of GDP) on Welfare every year. Most of the 11% Welfare money goes to people who are victims of drugs, alcohol, sex related abuse/problems and vagary living. 750 billion dollars on Welfare is lot of money. The scale is by no means small. His Divine Grace A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada applied spiritual principles to solve such problems of drugs, alcohol, sex and gambling and doing so freed many souls from physical and mental suffering. If the entire US population actually adopts his spiritual strategy, then the Government funding of 750 billion will drastically decrease thus saving billions on Welfare activities. So in my humble opinion, UNO and the Government must award Srila Prabhupada the prize for welfare service. Besides, people who seriously applied these spiritual principles did not recidivate at a later date (recidivism is a big problem in welfare services) and also helped others come out of similar behavioral problems. In my opinion, this is the fullest impact one can achieve through charity and hence charity to the soul is superior to charity to the body&mind.

While we need people like Kalyanasundaram to perform charity on the physical platform, however, we absolutely need a personality such as Srila Prabhupada to perform charity to the soul. Such charity to the soul can relieve one from all material problems once and for all.

Hare Krishna

Friday, April 12, 2013

Mood of a Vaishnava

This is something I aspire, desire - the gold standard of a Vaishnava - but woefully falling short. I beg unto all assembled Vaishnavas over the internet to bless me to follow in the footsteps of what Maharaj is saying;

Usually we are envious of our superiors, fight with our rivals or equals and lord it over our juniors. But the devotees of Lord Caitanya are so happy when we get His mercy - “O! Prabhu! You made it! You became so advanced! It's so wonderful! Please bless me I can become advanced like you!” This is a non-envious mood of the humble Vaisnava....We should never use this movement to get fame and name or show how great we are, show our talents off and get appreciation,our real test is when we are humble when we are corrected,we know we are humble when we don't think that we are all knower and all perfect,we are humble when we see our own faults and try to change them and see good in others and appreciate them,this movement is The Lord's mercy on us,we must humbly try to serve and serve and serve and please the devotees,then we can get The Lord's favor,else there is no hope, only suffering awaits those who use this process for their sense gratification ,who are engaged in gramya Katha (mundane talks) and Khuti nati (hypocrisy) or fault finding.We must be very clean in our heart.

- H.H.Mahanidhi Swami

Hare Krishna