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

Friday, October 30, 2015

The outcome of a mechanistic view of an organism

As scientists attempt to understand a living system, they move down from dimension to dimension, from one level of complexity to the next lower level. I followed this course in my own studies. I went from anatomy to the study of tissues, then to electron microscopy and chemistry, and finally to quantum mechanics. This downward journey through the scale of dimensions has its irony, for in my search for the secret of life, I ended up with atoms and electrons, which have no life at all. Somewhere along the line life has run out through my fingers. So, in my old age, I am now retracing my steps, trying to fight my way back.

- Szent-Gyorgyi A.- Noble Laureate in Medicine

Friday, October 23, 2015

How Srila Prabhupada Preached – A Case Study

Srila Prabhupada went to the US - first to Boston and then to New York. From New York harbor, he went to Butler, Pennsylvania. From Butler, he went to Ananda ashram and stayed with a Dr. Mishra (a mayavadi guru). Ananda ashram is near New York. Then from there, with the help of Dr. Mishra, he moved to a small box room in uptown Manhattan and from there Prabhupada gradually manifested his magic.

I want to present a case study of sorts from which we can learn how Prabhupada first spoke about Krishna consciousness to a visitor to the Ananda ashram. Dr. Mishra was teaching Raja yoga and impersonal philosophy in the ashram. A visitor by name Harvey Cohen was present there. To my knowledge, I think this was the first preaching of any kind done by Prabhupada. By studying this first conversation, I thought we can learn how Prabhupada preached.

The setting
Prabhupada, at this time, around 1965 is perhaps just one month or thereabouts in the USA. He barely knew the culture, and the people. He is in an ashram where he is not allowed to speak about Bhaki Yoga to Krishna. Then, by the arrangement of Krishna, Prabhupada is with Harvey Cohen in a room, just the two of them. When Prabhupada asked Harvey about the reason for the visit to the ashram, Harvey responded nonchalantly displaying his lack of interest in Raja yoga. Prabhupada saw an opportunity to preach and he directly went to the point.

Points to consider while this conversation is taking place

  • Prabhupada and Harvey are total strangers.
  • Prabhupada is new to the US and does not fully understand US customs.
  • Prabhupada was not allowed to speak about Krishna at the ashram as an official policy laid down by Dr. Mishra.
  • Prabhupada sensed Harvey’s lack of interest in Raja yoga.
  • Harvey was favorable towards some form of yoga system thus prompting Prabhupada to speak more on the subject.

  • The message delivered
    In this seemingly unfavorable setting, Prabhupada spoke the following about yoga.
    • There are better things than this. There are higher, more direct forms of yoga. 
    • Bhakti yoga is the highest it is the science of God devotion. 
    • We are all dependent. No one is independent. 
    • Everyone here is thinking “Who am I?” I can answer that in one second, I am a servant. We are all servants. Servants of what? Of whom? Servants of God. All of us are serving someone or something, a boss a cat or dog, our family, our country. Why don’t we admit this? We should serve the highest master. We should serve the Supreme Lord. 
    • This is our constitutional position and the only way to be happy and become liberated from material bondage.
    • First Prabhupada downplays Hatha yoga. 
    • Then he gives hope by saying there are higher forms of yoga inspiring the listener to seek for more and not settle for less (Prabhupada, I want to remind, is precise and not wasting words. He gets to the point without repeating himself or overdoing the points - sensitive to time, place and circumstance). 
    • After piquing the interest of the listener, Prabhupada delivers his punchline - Bhakti to God is the highest form of yoga
    • Then he scientifically (using logic and rationale) justifies that point by comparing his punch line with the experiences of this relative world thus providing fodder for thought for the listener. 
    • Finally, he ends by stating the goal of yoga for which the listener was in the ashram in the first place - bhakti yoga to God is (1) our constitutional position – i.e we are servants no matter where we are material or spiritual (2) only way to be happy (3) liberation from all suffering. 
    Three point strategy employed by Prabhupada;
    1. De-emphasize the current system quickly followed by stating the highest and best system.
    2. Provide relative logic and rationale driving home the value of the highest system (the listener will relate to the logic of this world reducing the gap between speaker and listener)
    3. Once the listener is close, he empathizes with the speaker. Not wasting time, end by providing a positive picture to our current and future states of existence using the highest system as the solution (provoking the listener for more).
    Case closed
    • Harvey Cohen later became Haridas das brahmachari and devoted his life to Krishna

    Bigger picture
    Harvey prabhu was interested in yoga so Prabhupada presented a higher yoga system. To Prof. Kotovsky in Russia, Prabhupada just talked about body-soul dual paradigm, to Jean Daniélou – the French cardinal, he just spoke about cow slaughter and in temple audiences (varied), Prabhupada spoke in general terms touching mainly on the basics such as body-soul, miseries of this world, and how Krishna consciousness is the panacea for all of our troubles. Prabhupada clearly was in-tune with his listeners and accordingly delivered his message in a short and precise manner. An important point to note is that not everyone took up the message as Harvey did so we have to give credit to the listener as well. If the listener is too materialistic, these strategies will not work. At that point, we simply serve Prasadam and perhaps give a book. 

    Final thoughts
    Srila Prabhupada walked the walk and talked the talk. In this example, Harvey prabhu noticed Prabhupada even before the said conversation took place and he saw how Prabhupada was serene and content. This was also crucial for Harvey to accept Prabhupada's instructions. Therefore preaching is simply not speaking intelligently and strategically but actual preaching is to practice what we preach - Example is better than precept. This is the most powerful and this movement began and thrived in the 60s and 70s simply by the purity and love of Srila Prabhupada. We have to strive for purity and love in our own lives.

    Hare Krishna

    Sunday, October 18, 2015

    What is humility?

    Few people have asked me what is humility? I give an answer but for some reason I am never satisfied with my answers. Below is an answer Prabhupada gave to a devotee Harivilas das.

    Humility means that you are convinced beyond any doubt that there is nothing in this world, absolutely nothing in this world, not your money, not your family, not your fame, not your gun, not your education, nothing that will save you except the mercy of Krishna. When you are convinced like this, then you are humble - words of Prabhupada as recalled by Harivilas das

    Prabhupada, I gather, is basically saying any number of material security or plans to safeguard one's self is futile but to take shelter of Krishna is the only way. Real humility begins with acknowledging one's own helpless nature and at the same time acknowledging Krishna's supreme dominion and in that mood to take shelter of Krishna.

    Hare Krishna

    Friday, October 16, 2015

    Q&A by Mahaprabhu Chaitanya

    Krishna spoke the Bhagavad Gita - no argument there. Some 4500 years later, Krishna appeared as Lord Chaitanya to demonstrate how one should practice devotional service to Krishna. Once, in a conversation with His close associate Ramananda Raya, Lord Chaitanya reveals the ultimate purpose of human life.

    Below is the Q&A between Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and Ramananda Raya.

    Question by Lord Chaitanya: Please quote some verses from scripture about the ultimate goal of human life

    Answer1 by Ramananda Raya: "By following one's qualities of work, every man can become perfect. By worship of the Lord, who is the source of all beings and who is all-pervading, a man can attain perfection through performing his own work." - BG 45-46

    Reason for rejection by Lord Chaitanya: Lord Caitanya said that such a life is simply external, indicating that if a man has a material conception of life he cannot attain the highest perfection, even if he follows all the ritualistic regulations. Indirectly He asked Rāmānanda to describe something superior to such an external exhibition.

    Answer2 by Ramananda Raya: It is better to give Kṛṣṇa the results of one's fruitive activities. He quoted "O son of Kuntī, whatever you do, whatever you eat, whatever you sacrifice, whatever you give away, and whatever austerity you undergo to achieve some goal, everything should be dedicated to My service." - BG 9.27.

    Reason for rejection by Lord Chaitanya: A worker’s identification with material existence cannot be changed without proper guidance. Such fruitive activity will continue one’s material existence. A worker is simply instructed here to offer the results of his work to the Supreme Lord, but there is no information given to enable one to get out of the material entanglement.

    Answer3 by Ramananda Raya: “Give up all kinds of religiousness and just surrender unto Me, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. I shall protect you from all sinful reactions, and you will have nothing to be aggrieved over.” - BG 18.66

    Reason for rejection by Lord Chaitanya: Renunciation in itself is not sufficient. There must be positive engagement. Without positive engagement, the highest perfectional stage cannot be attained.

    Answer4 by Ramananda Raya: “When by cultivation of knowledge a person realizes himself to be nondifferent from the Supreme Absolute Truth, he becomes joyful and is freed from all kinds of lamentation and material desires. At that time he perfects his Brahman realization by seeing everyone on the same spiritual level. Such Brahman realization can elevate one to the transcendental stage of devotional service.” - BG 18.54

    Reason for rejection by Lord Chaitanya: Simply by renouncing material results in Brahman realization one does not realize the spiritual world and spiritual activities. Although there is no material contamination when one attains the stage of Brahman realization, in that stage one is still not perfectly pure because there is no positive engagement in spiritual activity. Because it is still on the mental plane, it is external.

    Final answer by Ramananda Raya:“My dear Lord, one should give up monistic speculation and the cultivation of knowledge altogether. He should begin his spiritual life in devotional service by receiving information of Your activities from a realized devotee of the Lord. If one cultivates his spiritual life by adhering to these principles and keeping himself on the honest path in life, then although Your Lordship is never conquered, You become conquered by the devotee following such a process.” - SB 10.14.3

    Reason for acceptance by Lord Chaitanya: In this age, because most people are fallen and because there is no time to elevate them by a gradual process, the best course, according to Lord Caitanya, is to let them remain in whatever condition they are in but to engage them in hearing of the activities of the Supreme Lord as those activities are explained in the Bhagavad-gītā and Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. The transcendental messages of the scriptures should be heard from the lips of realized souls. In this way a person may continue to live in whatever condition he is in and still make spiritual progress. Thus one can surely advance and fully realize the Supreme Personality of Godhead (goal of human life).

    Conclusion: There is a clear hierarchy from low to high - (1) discharging one’s duties in the varṇāśrama-dharma system (2) devotional service mixed with fruitive activity (3) renunciation (4) devotional service mixed with the culture of knowledge. All of the above has mixture on the material plane.

    The final destiny for the soul, therefore according to Mahaprabhu Chaitanya, is to listen submissively from a pure devotee about Krishna and accordingly engage in favorable discharge of devotional service free from selfish motives.

    Hare Krishna

    Tuesday, October 13, 2015

    He went for the jugular

    This woman here is the official reception director for VIP's coming to Paris. In fact, she was the woman who arranged for Srila Prabhupada's reception at the Paris City Hall. The protocol was made very clear to us - that when we go into the reception room, everyone should stand and the mayor will give his opening remarks and then Srila Prabhupada can reply. The way it worked out was somewhat different.

    The mayor waited and Prabhupada sat, and the mayor started getting nervous and Prabhupada sat. Then everyone was looking at Srila Prabhupada and I leaned over and said, "Srila Prabhupada, they're waiting for you to stand." Srila Prabhupada looked at me and said, "I'm supposed to stand for who?" and refused to stand. So the mayor started his remarks and gave his greeting to Srila Prabhupada seated, probably the first time in the history of the country that anyone had been received in City Hall without standing up. Then when the mayor was finished saying how Paris has always been such a spiritual city, Srila Prabhupada stood at that moment and said, "Mr. Mayor, you have spoken very nicely about how France is such a spiritual country, etc.

    Let us examine what is spiritual," and went right for the jugular, that there is a soul within the body and any government that is unaware of the difference between the soul and the body is a demonic government. "Just like your Napoleon Bonaparte," (he pronounced the name "Napoleon Bona-partee"), "he said, 'I am France.' France is there. Where is Napoleon? The soul is gone. Where has it gone? This is the importance of proper spiritual training is to understand the difference between the body and the soul

    - Following Srila Prabhupada - Rememberances by Yogeswara das

    Srila Prabhupada ki jay!
    Hare Krishna

    Friday, October 9, 2015

    Who is qualified to translate and speak the Bhagavad Gita?

    It is no secret that Bhagavad Gita is spoken by numerous speakers in various settings all over the world. Today, anyone who is little qualified in Sanskrit and English language thinks himself qualified to speak or translate the Gita. However,this is not how it is supposed to be as per the norms set by Krishna in the Gita. Just as it is appropriate for a doctor who practices medicine to speak about medical science, or a physicist who is active in his field to speak about the universal laws, similarly it is only appropriate for a follower of Krishna who practices Bhagavad Gita everyday to speak about Krishna.

    Within Bhagavad Gita, Krishna clearly delineates repeatedly in different chapters the core characteristics (qualities) one has to have to live his or her daily life, based upon which one is qualified intuitively to speak, interpret and translate the Bhagavad Gita. Otherwise the Bhagavad Gita remains a mystery. In chapter four, text 3, Krishna clearly mentions this very point. If the speaker himself is not fitting Krishna's standard of living and hence not privy to the meaning of the Gita, then how can he enlighten the audience?

    So the key to all this is that by simply reading a book called Bhagavad Gita, one cannot learn about its mysteries. One has to accept this knowledge from a person who possess certain key qualities as mentioned in the Bhagavad Gita. They are;

    • A person interested in the Gita must learn it by approaching a spiritual teacher in parampara who is fixed upon the truth as defined in the Bhagavad Gita (4.2, 4.34)
    • He must practice control of mind towards worldly activities and duties (4.19 - 24, 18.54, 2.44)
      • No hankering and lamenting
      • No attachment to bhoga (sense-enjoyment) and aiswarya (material opulence) pertinent to worldly activities such as eating, sleeping, sex, fearing, profit, adoration, distinction etc
      • Equanimity of mind towards duties related to parenting, job, country, community etc
    • He must practice dedication of one's work or the essence of one’s work to Krishna either as duty or in devotion (3.9, 3.30)
    • He must practice devotion and surrender to Krishna with mind attached to Him taking full shelter of Him in all circumstances (7.1, 18.55, 18.65, 18.66)
    I have only cited few references supporting the qualities above, there are many more verses spoken by Krishna referencing the points mentioned above. 

    Anyone with an open ear and heart willing to listen submissively from such a qualified speaker, no doubt, will return with mind steady, peaceful and heart transformed ready to face this world with supreme optimism (despite all obstacles) just as Arjuna did!

    Hare Krishna

    Wednesday, October 7, 2015

    Lover of the Lord

    Jai Srila Prabhupada!
    Hare Krishna

    Tuesday, October 6, 2015


    Q: How can one be in the state of blissful spiritual consciousness in the office?

    A: If one is actually in the state of God Consciousness, one will be in that state anywhere. We need to have a good spiritual foundation for that. A good spiritual foundation consists of primarily 3 things;

    1. SATSANG - Association with a community of people, who actually inspire one another, is so very important. By associating with people who are striving for enlightenment or who are enlightened, the doors to our life of liberation and happiness open. 
    2. SADHANA - The time we devote everyday to our spiritual cultivation, our daily spiritual practice, our sadhana. If you don’t eat for many days, how will you perform in your office? If you have not slept in many days, how are you going to act in office? Your body and mind need rest and food in order to have strength to do your work. Similarly, if you want spiritual strength, our spiritual practice (chanting, hearing etc) is our food that nourishes us spiritually. 
    3. SADACHAR - We need to live with good character and values. In our office we may have to compete, we may have to challenge, but it should be with dignity, respect, integrity, and compassion. With a good spiritual foundation when we go into office, we are like Arjuna in Kurukshetra after he heard the Bhagavad Gita. Even if there are all kinds of things going on in our office – all kinds of arrows shooting in different directions – we are spiritually strong, we have integrity, we have bhakti. 
    - by HH.Radhanath Swami (disciple of AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada)

    Sunday, October 4, 2015

    Krishna - The God of Gods

    No other religious/spiritual text proclaims the supremacy of God as Bhagavad Gita does. In Bhagavad Gita, Krishna proclaims His supreme dominion as supreme God of all that be in a poetic and awe-inspiring manner. Arjuna who was the direct first-hand recipient of this knowledge conceded to the supremacy of Krishna after Krishna proclaimed His supremacy. Following, Arjuna himself glorifies Krishna in his own words as follows.

    You are the supreme Brahman, supreme abode and ultimate purifier, the eternal divine Person and original God - unborn and almighty. All seers, such as Devarsi Narada, Asita, Devala and Vyasa, say this of you, and You in fact are personally telling me. Kesava, I accept as true all that You tell me. Neither gods nor demons know your personality, Lord. Only you yourself know your Self by your Self, O Supreme Person Who causes beings to be! God of gods! Master of the World! Kindly describe fully your vast, divine powers - powers by which You continue to pervade these worlds.

    - literal translation of Bhagavad Gita 10.12-16 by HH H.D. Goswami

    Hare Krishna