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

Monday, November 23, 2015

Two components of Bhakti

Bhakti primarily has two components. One is aversion or natural disliking towards materialistic enjoyment such as pleasures related to the body/mind such as entertainment, family, employment etc. The other component is the cultivation of taste (rasa) towards spiritual activities such as chanting, reading, and listening about Krishna. 

Srila Narottam Das Takur, a great medieval saint says that when we give up these habits of enjoyment for this world as a controller and possessor of things and people, then, to the proportion we do that, to that proportion one's spiritual vision develops. Srila Krishnadas Kaviraj goswami goes on to say that while we give up tendencies of adoration, profit and distinction and simultaneously cultivate attachment, and love towards Krishna, Kaviraj goswami says that the real identity of Holy dhams on planet earth will be revealed to us in its true spiritual glory as Chintamani dham.  Then, we can see Krishna and His friends perform eternal pastimes even here on earth right now. It will no more be a mundane geography on a map!

So it is important as practitioners of bhakti to understand that real progress in spiritual life is to give up impure material habits while cultivating pure spiritual ones!

Hare Krishna

Saturday, November 21, 2015

The real India

Of course, today, India is a conglomeration of various thoughts, and culture. Still, I feel there are places all over the country with edifices so old no one can estimate its origins. When people visit India as a tourist spot, they approach India from a 21st century mindset coupled with their time frame. If a westerner visits India, he or she is used to the biblical time frame which at the most is 6000 years old or so and within that time relevance experience India. If one is a rational thinker he or she visits India withe a modern vs non-modern perspective about India. All of these lenses may infuse certain relative truths about the country, however, the real India is not modern or non-modern or 6000 years old, it is actually a timeless piece of history like walking into a vast museum where we can see artifacts from a timeless age. The buildings, practices, values, rituals, sentiments, emotions all of it stem from that timeless age. Unless a visitor to India has this vision of a timelessness, he or she cannot and will not appreciate the real and true Indian culture.

Even to this day, parts of India has this timeless culture rooted in its spiritual values. People still glorify and desire to have a leader like Lord Ramachandra, From North to South, Lord Ram and His transcendental companions are glorified and worshipped. According to Vayu Purana and Matsya Purana, it is mentioned that Lord Rama appeared in Treta yuga of the 24th Manu cycle, which translates to about 18 million years before today. According to modern science, 18 million years ago  there was no human beings as we know today and yet Lord Rama ruled over a vast kingdom with human subjects.

So if we really want to appreciate the "Real India", then we have to approach it in this timeless manner. In doing so, the land will speak to you and embrace you as its own!

Hare Krishna

Friday, November 20, 2015

Absoluteness in a relative setting

In my last post, I talked about how there are different types of devotees and we should be aware not all of them are of the same qualitative nature. Similarly, when we do outreach or as in ISKCON called preaching, there are different types of audiences.

Krishna says in the Bhagavad Gita (7.3) that among the millions of people, very few will know Him as He is. Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu made it more liberal by distributing this message to one and all. Srila Prabhupada following Mahaprabhu's footsteps took up that order of practically distributing this message. However, in many instances Prabhupada himself acknowledged that this Krishna consciousness movement is not for everyone in the sense that not all will accept it. Yet Prabhupada was always finding ways to present this message to the public at large even if only few may accept at the end. In that mood of large scale presentation (with the knowledge not all can appreciate the value), we have to strategically present this message.

I say strategic because not all audiences have the same mood, intellectual acumen and capacity to assimilate and digest the information. When we get into this place of relativity, then we also have to think about self image, marketing and messaging at all types of social, political, religious, economic etc levels to suit the particular audience. In other words, we have to employ all means to reach out to the public. As my boss in my office once said, which I liked, we have to "meet people where they are". In that spirit, we have to present the message without compromise and in digestible bits so the audience can bare the brunt of the message such as "we are not these bodies" and yes "we will die" etc.

So the challenge is presenting an Absolute truth in a relative setting maintaining the purity of the message and the messenger. Indeed, as Prabhupada said "purity is the force". Without purity of heart, this message will not penetrate the hearts of the audience. Besides,  if purity is lacking, there are always the chance that the messenger can go to the dark side.  Purity is cultivated through tolerance and perseverance. But ultimately we become pure by taking shelter of Krishna and come to the realization that we are not the ultimate doers but the instruments of Krishna.

I will end with this - Prabhupada once said that we are happy to sit under a tree and chant Hare Krishna but you (pointing to the reporters and general public) will not come if we simply did that, so we have to build big temples, dramas, music, food etc to attract as many as possible.

Hare Krishna.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Pure devotion

In ISKCON, we have many varieties of devotees from entry level to advanced. While all of them look similar externally, they are not internally. The mood and prayer of a devotee is very difficult to judge by one's external outfit or behavior. To a certain extent, one can judge based on one's words and actions, however, even that can be deceptive. Therefore, we have to be careful as to who is elevated and who is not. To really understand who is elevated requires understanding of lives of great vaishnava devotees, understanding of scriptures and also one should try to aspire for one's self. When we do all of the above, the Lord who is within our heart will help us identify who is pure and not pure. Till then, it is best we engage ourselves as best as we can in a mood humble prayer and service.

There are many great devotees who have shared their inner thoughts through poems and prayers. Below is one such prayer I found by King Kulaśekhara in his Mukunda Mala stotra (5) to be very inspiring. When we constantly meditate on such prayers, our consciousness will distill the dirt in our heart and we will start to see the shining light of Godhead emerge in the horizons of our consciousness.

nāsthā dharme na vasu-nicaye naiva kāmopabhoge
 yad bhāvyaṁ tad bhavatu bhagavan pūrva-karmānurūpam
etat prārthyaṁ mama bahu-mataṁ janma-janmāntare ’pi
 tvat-pādāmbho-ruha-yuga-gatā niścalā bhaktir astu

I have no attraction for performing religious rituals or holding any earthly kingdom. I do not care for sense enjoyments; let them appear and disappear in accordance with my previous deeds. My only desire is to be fixed in devotional service to the lotus feet of the Lord, even though I may continue to take birth here life after life.

Hare Krishna