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

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Faith - It is an active expression

Service towards Krishna increases as our realization of Him increases. So service and realization are not mutually exclusive, they go hand-in-hand. Service and realization is a direct product of faith in Krishna.

The faith i am talking about is not the blind faith people profess in a superior being.
The faith i am talking about is an active expression of simple living and high thinking.
The faith i am talking about is an active expression of a life enriched with gratitude towards God with a desire to serve God and all living beings of this world free from envy and fault finding.

Such active expressions of faith is the life force of a true devotee of God. This faith is not sectarian because selfless service to God is not sectarian. Without this faith within the heart of a devotee, there is no dharma or goodness in this world. Everything else is a detail but one must guard carefully like a mother her baby to ensure that this faith is nurtured and protected.

On the threshold of a new year, I wish the faith which is burning within each of us either slow or hard, continues to grow to the point where we can offer our heart, mind, body and words with due diligence at the lotus feet of Sri Sri Radha and Krishna.

Happy New Year 2016!

Hare Krishna.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Bhagavad Gita stresses bhakti over other paths

Some people argue that Prabhupada misinterpreted Bhagavad Gita in the sense that the verses are translated to suit bhakti. In Bhagavad Gita, Krishna speaks about karma, gnana, yoga and bhakti and hence all paths are as good as other paths. This is their argument. But such criticisms are indications that people read Bhagavad Gita for other purposes and not for surrendering to Krishna.

In the Srimad Bhagavatam, Krishna speaks similar Gita to Uddhava entitled Uddhava Gita. There, Uddhava asks Krishna this very type of question. Uddhava asks that dear Krishna you have referenced many paths, which is the ultimate one? Krishna clearly says that bhakti is the ultimate path. Krishna continues to Uddhava that I speak so many other things besides just bhakti to cater to the different needs of the people. Keep in mind, as Supreme Being, it is the desire of Krishna to attract all souls and not just who are disposed towards bhakti. So the only way to do that is to offer different platforms from where one can elevate one’s self from that platform to bhakti.

If we carefully read the Bhagavad Gita to Arjuna, Krishna uses superlative degree whenever He talks about bhakti. He does not use superlative degree when Krishna speaks about karma or gnana or yoga. This is an indication that not all paths are the same and negates the common man’s criticism. If we stress on one point versus the other means not all points are equal. Similarly Krishna stresses that only through bhakti (none other) can one reach Him. Now if all paths were equal He could have said by any path one can reach me but He does not thus clearly placing bhakti above karma, gnana and yoga.

If the speaker of a book is meant to be the central figure of the book thus attracting everyone to the central figure, then it is clear as daylight that Krishna is the central figure of Bhagavad Gita and He wants all those who read Bhagavad Gita to be attracted to Him and He also says that I am attracted fully "only" through bhakti. Therefore, Srila Prabhupada as the translator staying true to the central figure of Bhagavad Gita Krishna through out the entire eighteen chapters focuses on bhakti as the essential ingredient to access that central figure Krishna.

If, however, we “do not” want to approach the central figure of Bhagavad Gita (i.e. Krishna) and we have ulterior motives, then other paths will seem attractive to us. However, those who read Bhagavad Gita with an open mind keeping aside material considerations and selfish motivations, will surely recognize that bhakti to Krishna is the ultimate path and through bhakti only can one solve man’s timeless problem of struggle for existence in this material world.

note: bhakti here refers to pure bhakti (not mixed)

Hare Krishna

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

dvaita vada as hinduism

When the vedas was first spoken by Lord Brahma (the first created being of this universe), it was understood by his sons in different ways. Later, Mahamuni Vyasa took birth to translate these esoteric timeless sound into text format especially favoring kali yuga residents. Vyasa also wrote the succinct version of the vedas by taking its conclusions and coding it in short texts called the sutras. Because it contained the conclusive truths in coded form, it was called vedanta sutra.

Later, a great saint some 2000 years ago by name Adi Shankaracharya wrote a commentary on the vedanta sutras called the sariraka bhasya. Today, most if not all of hinduism follows this version of the vedanta sutra. Western scholars who study hinduism define hinduism based on the interpretation of Shankara's sariraka bhasya commentary. The philosophy pushed forward by Shankara is called Advaita vada where in the ultimate sense, everything is one called brahman. The varieties we see in this world is simply an illusory transformation of that non-distinguisgable brahman. Hence, one can adhere to any ishta-deva and still attain the same destiny as anyone else in brahman. Later, famous people such as Ramakrishna, Chinmoy, Vivekananda, Aurobindo etc and the likes basically presented their flavor of Adi Shankara's sariraka bhasya. This is the understanding of hinduism today by hindus and non-hindus.

The fact, and the more serious students must be aware, is that there are more sophisticated commentaries than sarirak bhasya presented by Ramanuja and later by Madhwa. Unfortunately, their commentaries of the vedanta sutras are not as popular as the Advaita vada of Shankara. Srila Prabhupada's teachings come in the line of these two saintly people. In this teaching, the ultimate reality is dual - Supreme Being Ishvara or God and the subordinate being jiva or soul. As per the dualistic philosophy (dvaita vada), Vishnu or Narayana is the Supreme. He is a Person with attributes. He is the creator, maintainer and destroyer in the ultimate sense. All other devas, and the universes are subordinate to His ordain.

The dualistic commentary of the vedanta sutra is a natural commentary as opposed to the massaged commentary of Shankara. It is natural because it is harmonious with the world around us and has no contradictions. Anyone interested in hinduism in a real way should study dvaita vada commentary of vedanta sutra and understand the religion in that way.

Hare Krishna

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Lila vs siddhanta

If an exalted soul or God descends to this planet and performs activities, in sanskrit it is called lila. The difference between lila type activities and activities of normal humans is that lila is not out of compulsion of the demands of the body and mind rather it is out of supreme independence or adherence to a divine plan. Lila therefore cannot be interpreted within the realms of normal behavior and hence cannot be applied to human beings en masse. In order for us to understand the lila of an individual requires the back up of siddhanta (perfect conclusions) based on evidence from revealed scriptures coming through the mouth of a self-realized soul.

In the western religious order such as Christianity and so forth, there is little to no siddhanta backing the lila of Jesus or other saintly characters. Hence over zealous religionists take the scriptures literally citing evidence of apparent contradictions and fight. This fighting has been going-on since the dawn of these religions. The crusades, inquisitions, jihad, anti-semitism etc are simply a manifestation of the misunderstandings of the activities of saintly people or God and with false prestige/ pride commit offense against contradicting parties. Western religious order does not have the concept of teacher-disciple lineage as they do not believe in self-realization but only salvation through a savior.

In eastern traditions such as Hinduism also we have similar scenarios where the stories of Gods are misinterpreted to suit one's own false pride stemming from a bodily concept of life. Therefore, within the teachings of the six Goswamis of Vrindavan, the stress is given to the need to understand the categorical differences between exalted souls and normal souls. The stress is given to understand the context, and inner meaning behind certain activities. One is advised not to imitate but to follow. So it is essential to have a grasp of this inner meaning or conclusions (siddhanta) coming down to us in the order of disciplic succession. When we recite stories from scriptures to a group of people or make a drama or movie out of it, without the proper siddhanta, merely reciting stories will cause disturbance in society than good.

Hare Krishna

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Bhagavad Gita in a few words


Bhagavad Gita is fundamentally built on the platform that the soul is eternal and the body is temporary and that both are unique and distinct but co-existing. The entire theme the reader will encounter in the later chapters are founded on this fundamental idea. If we miss this point, Bhagavad Gita will seem incompatible with practical life. If we assimilate this point, Bhagavad Gita is the most practical book in life. So it is a matter of consciousness, are we reading the book as a spiritual being or a material being?


Krishna then envelops layers of thought (like an onion) around the body-soul paradigm. The first layer is the idea of doing one's duty. Krishna urges Arjuna to perform one's duty. He urges him to rise above the three modes to perform duty with equanimity of mind to success or failure, honor or dishonor, heat or cold etc. This equanimity of mind, Krishna tells is the foundation of yoga. To perform one's duty without attachment to the fruits of one's labor is superior to performing one's duty with attachment. Krishna also warns Arjuna that it is better to doing one's duty faultily (that is with attachment) than without doing it at all.


Krishna envelopes a further layer of thought called brahman or brahma-nirvana. He says that as one performs one's duty without attachment to the fruits of labor thus maintaining equanimity of mind in yoga, and also by controlling the breathing process within ashtanga (eight fold system), one is able to attain to the pure state of consciousness called brahman. In this state Krishna says one can find happiness in the self. The stage of brahman is above the stage of performing result-free duty. 

Knowledge of this world

On the other side, Krishna also shows the contrast of lifestyle of one who is on the bodily platform, those who are mired by the three modes of goodness, passion and ignorance. Constantly harassed by the modes, the jiva is shuttling up and down, left and right and is struggling with the six senses which include the mind. The struggling jiva driven by kama and krodha worship different gods and aspire to acquire possessions within this world not knowing that the gods and this world are under Krishna.  However, Krishna says to those miscreant jivas,  I come as death. Krishna displays His universal form to prove His Supreme status of all the worlds and gods. Krishna says to Arjuna to not seek shelter within maya (this world) for Krishna says maya (world) is under "My" control and is "Mine". Krishna impels Arjuna to give up this materialism by fighting for Him - Krishna God of Gods.

Ananya Bhakti 

The final super layer of thought enveloping all ideas is ananya bhakti (unalloyed devotional service). Krishna says if one can raise above the stages of the three modes, karma, and brahman one can reach the stage of ananya bhakti which Krishna says is the final refuge for the conditioned jiva. Because through ananya bhakti only, can one know Krishna in full truth. Other paths are progressive paths to this stage of ananya bhakti. Henceforth, Krishna urges Arjuna to bow down to Him in surrender and unconditional bhakti. This Krishna says is the most confidential of all truths spoken within the pages of Bhagavad Gita. By simply engaging in bhakti under the guidance of a spiritual master, Krishna says one can transcend this world of death and attain to His abode of eternality and bliss.

Summum Bonum

After saying all this, Krishna looks at Arjuna with compassion and says to him you may do as you like Arjuna! Arjuna with mind cleared up and doubts dispelled surrenders to the words of Krishna with a desire to execute the order of Krishna. Such willful surrender in devotion of the jiva to Krishna is the pinnacle of yoga and represents the summum bonum of this esoteric book called Bhagavad Gita.

Hare Krishna

Friday, December 18, 2015

Selfless service

Mere academic study of Bhagavad Gita or Bhagavatam will not give us entry into the mysteries of Krishna. What then is the appropriate mood of study - it should be done in a mood of inner desire to transform our hearts to serve without selfishness. When we intellectually assimilate and digest Krishna, and when that intellect of Krishna translates to seva, then the study is fruitful, otherwise not. Then, as our seva becomes free of selfishness, Krishna will reveal His identity. So yes it begins with knowledge (gnana) but culminates in selfless seva or service.

Below is a verse on the aspect of revelation as given by Srila Prabhupada in a letter to Guru Das prabhu.

Sincere souls who are engaged in the service of Lord Krishna are benedicted by the Lord by revelation. Sri Krishna, His Name, Form, Entourage, Paraphernalia and Pastimes are not material; they are purely spiritual. Therefore, in the beginning they are not appreciated by our materially conditioned senses, but as we go on chanting Hare Krishna with service mood and attitude, the Name, Qualities, etc., become revealed as Reality. For the unbeliever Krishna and His Name etc are fictitious, but those who are advanced realize that K.C. is pure and eternal.

Letter to Guru Das, Aug. 24 1967

Hare Krishna

Monday, December 14, 2015

Become budhah first!

Many eastern traditions of the world talk about enlightenment as the goal of human life. They call it in different names - moksha, nirvana, mukti, kaivalya, budhah etc. Of course, the Judeo-christian traditions do not focus on enlightenment but only on salvation. Unfortunately without enlightenment one cannot get salvation. Hence today there is so much fighting in the name of religion (all religions) because people sidestep enlightenment to salvation and each religion claims their way is the “only” way to salvation. This attitude of monopoly of self-righteous salvation through their own professed faith is a symptom of non-enlightenment, in other words, the very opposite of enlightenment. To put it differently, non-enlightenment is ignorance or avidya.

When we stop seeking knowledge from this world, saintly people, and scriptures of the world and fail to traverse the path of enlightenment, then all our religious, social, philanthropical, political etc activities will be tainted with avidya which will be the cause of our misery. When one reaches the platform of enlightenment (Budhah), then one will see the universality of beings and creation. This is the first step towards understanding anything transcendental. But to get there, one must first come to the deep realization, “I thought I knew, but actually I do not know anything that is beneficial for me, please enlighten me”. Once this realization deeply dawns within the horizon of our heart, we must approach someone who is enlightened and enquire submissively.

Personally, having been exposed to many of the eastern traditions that focus on enlightenment, I find this common criteria towards enlightenment among all traditions – to come to the realization of our own avidya, humbling ourselves before an enlightened soul, inquiring from him and serving him thus paving our way for becoming a Budhah or enlightened soul. 

Hare Krishna