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

Friday, December 30, 2016

human equation

Basically this is the equation...

animal propensities + dharma (selfless service to God) = human being
human being - dharma (selfless service to God) = animal propensities

Today, essentially human civilization is glorified animal civilization (as God is not the center). Not surprised with all the fighting going on between nations, communities and people!

Below is the verse.

āhāra-nidrā-bhaya-maithunaṁ ca
sāmānyam etat paśubhir narāṇām
dharmo hi teṣām adhiko viśeṣo
dharmeṇa hīnāḥ paśubhiḥ samānāḥ

Eating, sleeping, sex, and defense—these four principles are common to both human beings and animals. The distinction between human life and animal life is that a man can search after God but an animal cannot. That is the difference. Therefore a man without that urge for searching after God is no better than an animal.

Hare Krishna

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Material Nature

MATERIAL NATURE
GOODNESS/SATVA
PASSION/RAJAS
IGNORANCE/TAMA
BASIC NATURE
Illuminates the mind and intelligence, sense of happiness and knowledge.
Unlimited desires, longings, selfish actions, deep attachment, intense endeavor, hankering.
Delusion, madness, indolence and sleep
RESULT OF ACTION
Pure
Misery
Foolishness
DEVELOPMENT OF MIND
Knowledge develops.
Greed develops.
Foolishness, madness and illusion develops.
NATURE OF KNOWLEDGE
Knowledge to see the undivided spiritual nature in all living entities, even though seemingly divided by bodily differences.
Knowledge to see the body to be the self and different types of bodies as the self and differentiate accordingly.
knowledge by which one is attached to work only as the all in all without knowledge of the true self or Supreme truth.
NATURE OF ACTION
Action in a regulated fashion without attachment to selfish results, love or hate.
Action performed with great effort to gratify one’s desires out of ego and pride.
Action disregarding scriptures, without concern for future results. Causes violence and distress to others.
NATURE OF WORK/DUTIES
Work with determination and enthusiasm unwavering in success or failure. Free from ego, pride.
Work with attachment to work, and fruit of work desiring to enjoy the fruits. Greedy, envious, impure and disturbed by joy and sorrow (resulting from success and failure).
Work against the injunctions of the scripture. Materialistic, obstinate, cheating, expert in criticizing others, lazy, always morose and procrastinating.
NATURE OF INTELLIGENCE
Intelligence to discriminate what is to be done/not done, what is to be feared/not feared, what is binding/liberating.
Intelligence to discriminate dharma and adharma, what is to be done and not be done.
Intelligence to consider religion to be irreligion and irreligion to be religion. Always in illusion and darkness and strives in the wrong direction.
NATURE OF DETERMINATION
Determination to be steady by sustained practice, controls the mind, and senses through meditation and yoga.
Determination which attaches one to selfish results in religion, economic development and sense gratification.
Determination that cannot go beyond dreaming, fearfulness, lamentation, moroseness and illusion.
NATURE OF HAPPINESS
Like poison in the beginning but like nectar at the end.
Derived from contact of the senses including the mind. Feels like nectar in the beginning but poison at the end.
Blind to self-realization, delusional from beginning to end. Arises from sleep, laziness and illusion.
FOOD
Increase the duration of life, purify one’s existence, gives strength, health, happiness, and satisfaction. Food is juicy, fatty, wholesome, and pleasing to the heart.
Too bitter, too sour, salty, hot, pungent, dry and burning causing distress, misery and disease.
Food prepared more than three hours before being eaten, tasteless, decomposed and putrid, and food consisting of remnants and untouchable things.
YAJNA or SACRFICE
Performed according to the directions of scripture, as a matter of duty, desire for no reward.
Performed for some material benefit, or pride.
Performed without regard to scriptures, no distribution of prasādam [spiritual food], no chanting of Vedic hymns and no remunerations to the priests, and with no faith.
BODY,SPEECH and MIND
Using body, speech and mind not for material benefits but only for the sake of pleasing the Supreme.
Using body, speech and mind out of pride and for the sake of gaining respect, honor and worship. It is neither stable nor permanent.
Using body, speech and mind out of foolishness, with self-torture or to destroy or injure others.
WORSHIP/FAITH
Worship demigods
Worship demons
Worships ghosts and spirits
CHARITY
Given out of duty, without expectation of return, at the proper time and place, and to a worthy person.
Given with the expectation of some return, or with a desire for selfish results, or in a grudging mood.
Given at an impure place, improper time, to unworthy persons, or without proper attention and respect.
AT DEATH
Born again in higher planets.
Born again in earthly realm (born in a family where selfish actions are predominant).
Born again in animal kingdom.
 source: Bhagavad Gita chapters 14,17 and 18
Supreme Personality of Godhead Lord Sri Krishna says:

One who engages in full devotional service unto Me, unfailing in all circumstances, at once transcends material nature and thus comes to My eternal nature– BG 14.26


Hare Krishna

Monday, December 19, 2016

Initiation is the beginning and a voluntary bond

The ceremony of diksha, initiation, is that by which the spiritual preceptor admits one to the status of a neophyte on the path of spiritual endeavor. The ceremony tends to confer spiritual enlightenment by abrogating sinfulness. Its actual effect depends on the degree of willing co-operation on the part of the disciple and is, therefore, not the same in all cases. It does not preclude the possibility of reversion of the novice to the non-spiritual state if he slackens in his effort or misbehaves. Initiation puts a person on the true track and also imparts an initial impulse to go ahead. It cannot, however, keep one going for good unless one chooses to put forth his own voluntary effort.... Unless the soul of its own accord chooses to serve Krishna after obtaining a working idea of his real nature, it cannot long retain the spiritual vision. The soul is never compelled by Krishna to serve him.

- By His Divine Grace Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Takur Prabhupada, Sajjana-toshani, volume 26, number 7 December 1928

My take away points on initiation are;

  1. Sets the neophyte on the spiritual path
  2. Confers enlightenment through canceling of sinful behavior
  3. Progress depends on cooperation of the disciple to the instructions' of the spiritual master
  4. It is a voluntary process (no force)
Hare Krishna

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Seven-tongued flame of Sri Krishna Sankirtana

Seven-tongued flame refers to the seven characteristics of Sri Krishna Sankirtana as explained by Srila Bhaktivinod Takur in his Sammodana-bhasya commentary.

  1. ceto-darpaṇa-mārjanaḿ - cleansing the mirror of the heart
  2. bhava-mahā-dāvāgni-nirvāpaṇaḿ - extinguishing the blazing forest fire of material existence
  3. śreyaḥ-kairava-candrikā-vitaraṇaḿ - one receives the benediction of pure devotional service, compared to moonshine spreading the white lily of good fortune
  4. vidyā-vadhū-jīvanam - the life and soul of all knowledge; the devotee receives the benediction of knowledge of his eternal identity
  5. ānandāmbudhi-vardhanaḿ prati-padaḿ - expanding the blissful ocean of transcendental life
  6. pūrṇāmṛtāsvādanaḿ - tasting full nectar at every step
  7. sarvātma-snapanaḿ - the self is wholly cleansed of all desires other than for selfless devotional service
- Sri Bhaktisiddhanta Vaibhava Vol. one, page 121

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Its just a thought…

Everyone is attached to their body and mind. But if we are not this body and mind, then what are we attached to? How can we be attached to something we are not? Like if I am not my car, how can I be attached to my car. The fact is we are not attached to the car, literally speaking. We are attached to the idea of the car.

Similarly, the soul (real self) is not attached to the body or mind. But the soul which has the aspect of cognizance is "attached" to the “idea” or “thought” of being the body and mind. This idea or thought is not real or illusion. So in essence, the soul is attached to an unreal thought. The who process of spiritual life is to give up this unreal thought, not give up the body or mind but give up the unreal thought we are the body and mind.

How to do that? – by pitting another thought in its place, a more powerful thought or idea. That is, we are servants of God Krishna. But it is not that easy because over millions of years (births), we have been mentally trained to be attached to the thought or idea of body and mind. To reverse this takes a herculean effort which only Krishna can do.

For Krishna, it is just a thought. Just as He lifted Govardhan hill, Krishna can banish the thought of body and mind and replace it with His own. Simply, we pray in humility and take shelter of His grace and mercy! Otherwise, its just a thought we are attached to!

Hare Krishna

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Cosmological Principle

Modern cosmology is a field of speculative thoughts interspersed with points of evidence. These evidences act like tent poles holding up the fabric of cosmological theories. Theories such as steady state, big bang, M-theory, grand unified theory etc all give different explanations to the origins and the functioning of the universe. Personally, I found it more of science fiction than science.

Regardless, there are some fundamental axioms that physicists accept. Although, I am not a scientist, it seems hard to accept this lofty assumptions without critically questioning them. Below is a principle that always piqued my doubts related to modern cosmology.

Cosmological Principle:

The cosmological principle derives from the Copernican Principle but has no foundation in any particular physical model or theory, i.e. it can not be `proved' in a mathematical sense. However, it has been supported by numerous observations of our Universe and has great weight from purely empirical grounds. The greatest consequence of the cosmological principle is that it implies that all parts of space are causally connected at some time in the past (although they may no longer be connected today). Thus, a homogeneous Universe leads to the conclusion that the whole Universe appeared at a single moment of time, a Creation.

A corollary to the cosmological principle is that the laws of physics are universal. The same physical laws and models that applies here on the Earth also works in distant stars, galaxies, and all parts of the Universe - this of course simplifies our investigations immensely. Note also that it is assumed that physical constants (such as the gravitational constant, mass of the electron, speed of light) are also the unchanging from place to place within the Universe, and over time.

source - University of Oregon

In actuality, we have experience just on earth that gravity is not entirely constant across the globe. The same is said about time. At different altitudes, time and gravity although mathematically minuscule behaves differently. If we expand distance to light years, this small difference can add  up. Regardless, we cannot know what we cannot know. So unless we travel long distances in outer space to see for ourselves, to assume speed of light, gravity etc to be universal constants across light years is based on huge leap of faith and faith is something science looks down upon. I think there is a sense of hypocrisy built in this assumption.

Hare Krishna

Monday, November 28, 2016

Routine

The bane of routine. When we perform a sequence of actions regularly everyday like a fixed program, it falls in a routine and we just do it like we are on auto-pilot mode. In the beginning, when I came to Krishna consciousness, it was all new and fresh and the added lifestyle change was a fresh of breath air for me. The holy names could not have been holier and the prasadam any less tasty. However, as we reach the zenith of what we can do daily and settle into a routine habit, over time, spiritual practice becomes a drab of everyday chore. It is at this crucial juncture that we have a tendency to do something outside the routine and more often than not land in spiritual trouble. In other words, all the material contaminations in our heart will give us the impetus to break the routine. If we trust our material mind, eventually we will fall away from our goal of serving Krishna.

So when we reach this plateau of our sadhana, instead of trying to do something different or more, it is important to enhance our quality of our routine. When we desire to go deeper into the mysteries of the Holy name, deeper into the verses of Bhagavad Gita and Bhagavatam, and deeper in our remembrance of the Lord, then it is in the deeper journey we will relish true spiritual mellows.

How to go deep? One way is to slow down our mind and intentionally meditate on the meaning and purpose behind every item we do in terms of our sadhana. This sort of meditation can instigate our gratitude towards our acharyas and what they have given us. This gratitude when sincere will relieve us from the mental anxieites that result from the dualities of this world and the more relief we experience, the lighter and happier we will become thus increasing our ability to always remember Krishna and never forget Him (in refuge).

Thus that which begins with a bang, coasts as a routine can turn into an opportunity to penetrate more into our mind to take shelter of our acharayas and Krishna in a mood of refuge.

Hare Krishna

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Working with others can reduce sectarian mindset

Typically, a group of people or an institution promote a particular cause or multiple causes. For example, a State University promotes the cause of higher education. A political party promotes certain causes to its electoral votes. A church or temple promotes set of values or causes related to scripture or gods in the name of religion. A nation of people come together to promote a specific cause in the name of nationalism etc. So like this in our society we have multiple groups promoting different and varying causes.

In order to address a problem invariably we have to be part or associate with a particular group or institution. So one may ask is the institution more important than the cause or is the cause more important than the institution? Which drives which?

There is a fine line between the institution and cause. If we as the adherents to the institution and cause do not realize the difference, then we will charter into the territory of sectarianism. Personally, sectarianism is the singular problem plaguing the minds of modern civilization. We become more passionate of the institution than the cause itself. Because in the real world, nothing is black and white like the mission statement of an institution which means to address one cause we have to cross party lines. So while we are loyal to an institution, party, caste or nation, it is essential we always remember to put the primary cause or problem in front of everything else. This mental due diligence will help us keep away from sectarian differences.

Perhaps in the real world, this may not be practical all the time but as an individual we can commit to always remind ourselves of why we are here and work with others and their differences to address our root cause.

Hare Krishna

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Meditation with conviction

How to see or know God? People often challenge, "show me God!". But according to the vedic paradigm, the way one can know God first is through hearing or sravanam. Hence the vedas has another name called sruti. So through hearing eventually we will be able to see God face to face.
  1. We must hear from a teacher who loves and serves God 24 hours. The teacher should belong to a lineage that directly originates from God. We should render service unto such a teacher. 
  2. We should ponder the divine message given to us by the teacher and in doing so we must eradicate all doubts. If doubts exist, we must clarify it with due diligence.
  3. After the ponderance stage, we should meditate on God as instructed to us with total conviction and faith and engage in our duties.
Only this sort of meditation with knowledge and faith done with determination and conviction can help us purify our mind and help us cross the dualities of this material world and take us to spiritual kingdom of God.

Hare Krishna


Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Progressive stages towards the ultimate goal of life

Below are statements with references from scriptures showing the gradual stages of evolution from materialism to spiritual life to pure love of Godhead. I have ordered them in numbers.

Question: From the revealed scriptures, what is the ultimate goal of life?

1.  The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Viṣṇu, is worshiped by the proper execution of prescribed duties in the system of varṇa and āśrama. There is no other way to satisfy the Supreme Personality of Godhead. One must be situated in the institution of the four varṇas and āśramas – BG 9.27
2.  To give up one’s occupational duties in the varṇāśrama system is the essence of perfection –BG18.66
3.  Devotional service mixed with empiric knowledge is the essence of perfection – BG18.54 

The above stages of spiritual realization are mixed with materialism. The beginning of pure spiritual platform begins from here.

4.  Pure devotional service without any touch of speculative knowledge is the essence of perfection – SB10.14.3
5.  Ecstatic love for the Supreme Personality of Godhead is the essence of all perfection – BRS1.1.11, Padyavali 13-14

Once on the pure spiritual platform. There are stages of pure love as shown below based one’s inner rasa or mellow. Variation based on rasa or mellow is not necessarily inferior or superior but a matter of enrichment of loving sentiments. Below is the order of enriched loving sentiments. 

6.  Spontaneous loving service in servitude — as exchanged by master and servant — is the highest perfection – SB9.5.16, Stotra Ratna 43 
7.  Loving service to Kṛṣṇa rendered in fraternity is the highest perfection – SB10.12.11 
8.  Loving service to the Lord in the parental relationship is the highest perfectional stage – SB10.8.46, SB10.9.20 
9.  Conjugal attachment for Kṛṣṇa is the topmost position in love of Godhead – SB10.47.60, SB10.32.2 
10.  Complete attainment of the lotus feet of Lord Kṛṣṇa is made possible by love of Godhead, specifically mādhurya-rasa, or conjugal love. Lord Kṛṣṇa is indeed captivated by this standard of love. This is stated in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam - SB10.82.44 

On the highest and fullest sentiment of conjugal love, the love of one gopi Srimati Radharani is the highest. The limit of human life is achieved when one assists Radha and Krishna in their supreme divine love as indicated below. 

11.  Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī’s love for Śrī Kṛṣṇa is topmost. Indeed, the glories of Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī are highly esteemed in all revealed scriptures. The glories of Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī’s loving affairs are beyond compare within these three worlds – Padma Purana, Laghu-bhagavatamrta 2.1.45, SB10.30.28 
12.  O my Lord, You live in the forest of Govardhana Hill, and, like the king of elephants, You are expert in the art of conjugal love. O master of the universe, Your heart and Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī’s heart are just like shellac and are now melted in Your spiritual perspiration. Therefore one can no longer distinguish between You and Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī. Now You have mixed Your newly invoked affection, which is like vermilion, with Your melted hearts, and for the benefit of the whole world You have painted both Your hearts red within this great palace of the universe-Ujjvala-nīlamaṇi (Sthāyi-bhāva-prakaraṇa 155).

Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu confirmed “This is the limit of the goal of human life” 

- Conversation between Lord Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and Sri Ramananda Raya 

Hare Krishna

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam

When I was around 17 or 18 years old, I had a desire to join the army and represent India in that way. I wanted to be a Jawan and fight for India. I don’t think I would have been selected in the Army since I have flat feet and wear glasses.

My fledgling Indianism or one can call it patriotism gradually changed after I read Srila Prabhupada’s Bhagavad Gita As it Is. Because, for Srila Prabhupada India was not just a boundary on a map. He transcended sectarian India and made the real Bharata Kanda available to one and all. The Bharata kanda Srila Prabhupada represented is universal, all-inclusive and a liberal state.

I have not given up my Indian roots but in fact made it deeper by embracing values of the original Bharata kanda!

Udaara charitaanaam tu vasudhaiva kutumbhakam||
For the broad-minded, the entire planet is but a family||

Hare Krishna

Monday, October 31, 2016

Friday, October 28, 2016

Monday, October 17, 2016

Friday, October 14, 2016

Megacities: Urban Future, the Emerging Complexity

Megacities are, by definition, urban areas with a population of 10 million or more. The video is used as part of an “Advanced Special Operations Combating Terrorism” course offered at Joint Special Operations University (JSOU) for a lesson on “The Emerging Terrorism Threat.”

The video is nothing if not an instant dystopian classic: melancholy music, an ominous voiceover, and cascading images of sprawling slums and urban conflict. “Megacities are complex systems where people and structures are compressed together in ways that defy both our understanding of city planning and military doctrine,” says a disembodied voice. “These are the future breeding grounds, incubators, and launching pads for adversaries and hybrid threats.”It is a collage of pictures of current events predicting a foreseeable dystopian future.

The video eerily shows whats in store for the future of Kali yuga. As dark as the video may sound, it misses one thing - God or Krishna. As long as Krishna is still on this planet, there is some hope. More than anytime in the past, it is important we connect with Krishna and stay connected. Deeper understanding of "consciousness" living is the solution to the ever growing complicated urban lifestyle.

But lets make one thing clear -the problem is real and we have to be ready to face it.


 
“Megacities: Urban Future, the Emerging Complexity,” a video created by the Army and used at the Pentagon’s Joint Special Operations University. A Pentagon Video.

Hare Krishna

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Prerequisite to spiritual knowledge

There is so much realization in the pages of the Bhagavatam given by great saintly sages and rishis. There is deep refined wisdom in the pages of Bhagavad Gita spoken directly by the Supreme Being Sri Krishna. There is so much evidence around us in our immediate vicinity and far away to ascertain the truths as enunciated by these saintly scriptures. Yet, we are convinced we can be happy here and that Bhagavad Gita and Bhagavatam is for dry philosophers that which is not practical in this day and age!

So while there is ‘raja vidya’, king of knowledge accessible by the mercy of Srila Prabhupada, that king of knowledge is rendered ‘raja guhyam’, king of secrets. Why - because we do not see the futility of material life. Therefore, unless we deeply realize from the core of our heart the futility of this world, we will not truly take full shelter of the ‘raja vidya’ and till we take shelter, this will remain ‘guhyam’ or secret and rendered dry philosophy from our vantage point!

Hare Krishna

Monday, September 19, 2016

Vegan burger with fries





I made vegan burger with fries. I used the recipe from this link. The bun was store bought!

It came out real yummy! 

Hare Krishna

Friday, September 16, 2016

Transition of faith

Srila Rupa Goswami said that one must associate with devotees to cultivate faith. So how does that faith happen in association? In devotee association, one hears about Krishna. When one hears about Krishna constantly, his or her desire or taste to Krishna and His devotees (Krishna katha) goes on increasing. What is the result of one whose taste to hear about Krishna increases? His faith on Krishna increases. What is the symptom of such a faith on Krishna?

The symptom of faith on Krishna (bhakti) is twofold. This was told by Sage Kavi (one of the nine yogendras) to King Nimi. Sage Kavi said direct experience of the Supreme Lord (pareśānubhava) and detachment (virakti) from worldly things simultaneously occur to one who is in pure Krishna consciousness. This is a good litmus test to see if truly we are making progress in spiritual life. 

Detachment from worldly things or virakti means one’s understanding, enthusiasm, loyalty and faith upon the people, things and relationships of this world gradually reduce and eventually die out completely and instead be replaced with increased understanding, enthusiasm, loyalty and faith of Krishna and His pure devotees. Both has to happen simultaneously. To lose faith in the confidence of people of this world (including our well-wisher, friend and family) is our true test to faith in Krishna. Because both cannot go hand in hand.

When we make that transition of faiths, truly our journey back home back to Krishna is set, in other words, we would have attained mukti from material entanglement.

Hare Krishna

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Pioneer of the Hare Krishna movement!




Today is the merciful appearance of His Divine Grace Srila Bhaktivinod Takur. He was born 178 years ago in India to spread the mission of Lord Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. He is called the 7th Goswami because he re-established Mahaprabhu’s movement in Mayapur in an authentic manner strictly adhering to the principles of suddha bhakti as enunciated by the Six Goswamis.

His core principle was twofold (1) nama ruchi (2) jiva doya. In fact, this is the core value of all our sampradaya acharyas. There is no contradiction in these two principles.


  1. Nama ruchi or attachment (spiritual taste) to chanting the Holy Names of God is the primary principle where the fallen soul re-establishes his lost relationship with God and is on-track to the spiritual kingdom. 
  2. Jiva doya or compassion to the fallen soul is the second principle where one is encouraged to show compassion to the lost souls in this world by helping them connect back to God through His names. 

Srila Bhaktivinod Takur dedicated his whole life in spreading these two core ideas to the bigger world followed by his son and by AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. Following in the enlightened path of these great masters, on this day, I humbly seek the blessings of His Divine Grace Srila Bhaktivindor Takur!

Srila Bhaktivinod Takur Maharaj ki jay!

Hare Krishna

Monday, August 29, 2016

Sandesh




Sandesh is a Bengali recipe made by using simple ingredients such as milk, sugar and cardamom powder. Below is how i did it.

Milk - 1/2 gallon
Lemon - 1/2 cup
Powdered sugar - 1/2 to 1 cup
Cardamom powder - 1/2 teaspoon
Almond nuts - optional as topping

Place the milk in a heavy bottomed pan and bring it to a boil. As the milk comes to a boil, slowly pour the lemon juices. The acid in the juice will curdle the milk and in less than 30 seconds, the milk fat will separate from the liquid to form paneer cheese. Empty the milk whey (the liquid) with the paneer in a colander layered with cheesecloth. You can use the whey for other cooking purposes as well. 

Remove the cheesecloth holding the paneer and place something heavy on the paneer cheese so whatever remaining liquid is in the paneer will drain. After about 15 minutes, remove the weight and place the paneer on a dry surface and bray the paneer. Braying is a process where you press the paneer till all the granular nature of paneer becomes smooth and binding like a dough. For the braying process, I used the stand mixer with the flex-edge beater. After about 5 minutes of beating, the granular hard paneer became smooth and dough like. During this beating process, I added 3/4th cup of powdered sugar and the cardamom.

Remove the smooth paneer and place it on a pan in the lowest possible heat and gently warm the paneer to remove its raw nature. After about 5 minutes, when the paneer looks shiny, remove it from the pan and let it cool. Once cool, press it to form a ball and place ghee fried almond pieces as seen in the picture above.

Don't forget to offer it to Krishna!

Pictures courtesy my wife.

Hare Krishna. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Mood of shelter

In Bhakti yoga or Krishna consciousness, we practice our sadhana in a mood of shelter. When we chant the Hare Krishna mahamantra, we don't simply chant like the mayavadis or at least this is not how it should be done. Mayavadis chant in a ritualistic manner like in repeating names, thats all. Externally it may look the same but pure devotees are not repeating names, they are calling out names of Krishna in a mood of shelter, "Oh Lord, I am so fallen, please give me shelter at your Lotus Feet." This feeling of helplessness and dependency purifies our consciousness of false-pride and invokes instead a sense of humility.

The more we feel dependent the more we will not struggle in this world to exist. The less we struggle, the more peaceful we become. The more peaceful we become, the happier we become. This is the difference. A devotee always approaches Krishna in a sense of dependency and shelter.

Hare Krishna

Thursday, August 18, 2016

The verse that opened the flood gates of ecstatic love!

The Gaudiya Vaishnava siddhanta is unique like no other in the sense it highlights the aspect of divine love that is experienced in separation from the beloved. Lord Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu who is Krishna in the mood of Radha exhibited this specific aspect of prema or love. In India worship of Krishna or Vishnu is a universal concept. In fact, it is said that once the entire planet earth worshipped Krishna or Vishnu. So worship of Vishnu or Krishna is not anything new. However, Mahaprabhu introduced this confidential aspect of prema or divine love in separation through His own mood when He was present on earth 500 years ago. Ever since, Mahaprabhu’s followers consider this specific aspect of love as summum bonum of religion or dharma.

Mahaprabhu externally speaking, took up this mood at a specific time in His earthly pastimes in line with Madhavendra Puri. In other words, it was Madhavendra Puri who first displayed this aspect of love in separation. Madhavendra Puri took initiation from Lakshmipati Tirta in the line of Madhvacharya who preached dualism. Prema in madurya rasa was a foreign idea or one can say suppressed idea for Madhva followers or tattvadis. This can be proven by the fact that Mahaprabhu Himself introduced prema in this unique way to tattvadis when He went to Udipi.

So although Gaudiyas follow Madhvacharya line, the traditional tattvadis do not fully acknowledge or recognize this spontaneous love in separation as summum bonum. Strict Madhva followers still adhere to the aishwarya aspect of Godhead.

The verse that Madhavedra Puri prayed to externally show his mood of separation is this ;

ayi dīna-dayārdra nātha he 
mathurā-nātha kadāvalokyase 
hṛdayaṁ tvad-aloka-kātaraṁ 
dayita bhrāmyati kiṁ karomy aham 

O My Lord! O most merciful master! O master of Mathurā! When shall I see You again? Because of My not seeing You, My agitated heart has become unsteady. O most beloved one, what shall I do now? – CC Madhya Lila 4.197

One can say this verse is the foundational verse that the entire mood of Gaudiya Vaishnava siddhanta is set on. Mahaprabhu just by reciting this verse would fall to the ground in ecstasy and thus began His display of fantastic emotions of love of Krishna in separation from Krishna.

This verse unlocks one’s own feelings of separation from Krishna. While one must follow in the footsteps of great souls, meditating on this verse will give insights into the mood of Vraja. Sripad Madhvendra puri was the first person to express this pure feeling of love and Lord Chaitanya who is Krishna Himself by getting initiated in Madhvendra Puri’s line sanctions this prayer for all time to come.

Hare Krishna

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Dogmatism

One time I used the word “dogmatic” and a young boy asked me what does “dogmatic” mean? Interestingly, I did not have a convincing answer. This made me think a little bit. The dictionary definition is “a principle or set of principles laid down by an authority as incontrovertibly true”. From a cultural perspective, any phenomenon that does not have supportive evidence can be deemed dogmatic. By both accounts, one may argue that the tenets of Krishna consciousness is dogmatic. Because it is laid down by an authority as absolute truth and there is little physical evidence on the earth plane to validate Krishna or His activities like for example Him lifting the Govardhan Hill.

As devotees of Krishna, when rational thinkers debate with us, it is important to present Krishna consciousness in a way that is “not” dogmatic. If the opposite of dogma equals presentation of evidence, then we are in a tough spot because we do not have physical evidence to categorically talk about Krishna. How then can we present Krishna in a “non-dogmatic” light?

Srila Prabhupada denied that man landed on the moon despite live tv coverage. Once in a public meeting, when he was asked, he countered by asking “how do you know man landed on the moon?”. The man replied “I know because the American scientists say so”. Srila Prabhupada simply said “well, you believe Americans, we believe Shastra” Now, this may sound like a simple answer. But what Prabhupada pointed out to the rational thinker is that they also “believe” someone just as we “believe” someone. By tacitly implying you are no less dogmatic than me, why is your statement superior to mine? They may argue on the strength of the evidence cited, but still since they are not experts in that field themselves, still they have to "believe" an expert.

But scientists are not against belief, they are against non-testable beliefs. For example, scientists claim that dark matter and dark energy pretty much constitutes 96% of mass in the universe. This is a widely held “truth” within the physicist world. If I want to be a physicist, I have to agree to this premise. It is a mathematically derived premise from sample data. So this presupposition has to be accepted on “belief” by eminent scholars in the field. This method of accepting a principle by an authority as truth is also practiced extensively in all fields of science. Are then all students of science, scientists and rational thinkers dogmatic? The answer is no. The reason being, they do not accept it as incontrovertible truth. In other words, the truths or presuppositions such as dark matter constituting 96% of mass can be falsified or tested or changed if we can find evidence controverting the original theory. So in that sense, scientists claim an upper hand to religious super-naturalism. Although in reality rarely one will go against established science (thus making them equally dogmatic), still that theoretical option is available for one who is interested even if that means one's career can be put in jeopardy.

The option to test and refute is not available to religionists because it is either true or false, end of story! This non-testable, non-falsifiable attitude towards truth is the reason rational thinkers consider religion as dogma.

In conclusion, we can present Krishna in a "non-dogmatic" light by addressing two points (1) to point out that not everything of this world that is accepted as common or mainstream has categorical evidence thus there are shades of dogma involved among rationalists (2) the science of Krishna can be tested and if necessary falsified.

As Srila Prabhupada endearingly asks many times to total strangers about the process of Krishna consciousness - “what is the loss?”

Hare Krishna

Monday, August 15, 2016

Realized Faith vs Sentimental Faith

The operative word in Krishna Consciousness is “faith”. In Bhagavad Gita, Krishna uses the word “shraddha” at least ten times in different places in His conversation with Arjuna. In these places, Krishna clearly stresses the importance of faith in knowing Him. In chapter six text 47, there is a clear indication to this point. Srila Rupa Goswami, the leader for Gaudiya Vaishnavas, explains that “shraddha” or “faith” is the preliminary ingredient to understand and love God. Having said that, Srila Prabhupada in his introduction to Bhagavad Gita explains the difference in faith within sanatana dharma and faith in sectarian religion. Below is his quote;

The English word religion is a little different from sanātana-dharma. Religion conveys the idea of faith, and faith may change. One may have faith in a particular process, and he may change this faith and adopt another, but sanātana-dharma refers to that activity which cannot be changed…Those belonging to some sectarian faith will wrongly consider that sanātana-dharma is also sectarian, but if we go deeply into the matter and consider it in the light of modern science, it is possible for us to see that sanātana-dharma is the business of all the people of the world – nay, of all the living entities of the universe. Non-sanātana religious faith may have some beginning in the annals of human history, but there is no beginning to the history of sanātana-dharma, because it remains eternally with the living entities…Yet man professes to belong to a particular type of faith with reference to particular time and circumstance and thus claims to be a Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Buddhist or an adherent of any other sect. Such designations are non–sanātana-dharma. A Hindu may change his faith to become a Muslim, or a Muslim may change his faith to become a Hindu, or a Christian may change his faith and so on. But in all circumstances the change of religious faith does not affect the eternal occupation of rendering service to others. The Hindu, Muslim or Christian in all circumstances is a servant of someone. Thus, to profess a particular type of faith is not to profess one’s sanātana-dharma.

“Faith” or “belief” is a common word and has to be understood properly. When it is used purely on a sentimental platform fully dependent on the words of the speaker or a book such as the Bible or Koran or Gita etc, then it is considered “sentimental faith”. But that “faith” which motivates the soul to express his or her inherent nature of selfless and timeless service to God and all beings is considered “realized faith”.

When one’s faith is enriched with realization versus mere sentiment, there is harmony within and without followed by peace and inner joy!

Hare Krishna.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

The power of chanting

Your mind is wondering all over the universe when you chant. Chant anyway!
Your mind is wondering to the past and future when you chant. Chant anyway!
You are not able to concentrate on Krsna's names while you chant. Chant anyway!
You have no taste for chanting. Chant anyway!
You have lusty desires. Chant anyway!
You are making offences in chanting. Chant anyway!
You are not praying to Krsna to help you chant better. Chant anyway!
You often chant late at night. Chant anyway!

Why should you chant despite all the above obstacles? 

This is why: There is no vow like chanting the holy name, no knowledge superior to it, no meditation which comes anywhere near it, and it gives the highest result.

No penance is equal to it, and nothing is as potent or powerful as the holy name.

Chanting is the greatest act of piety and the supreme refuge.

Even the words of the Vedas do not possess sufficient power to describe its magnitude.

Chanting is the highest path to liberation, peace and eternal life.

It's the pinnacle of devotion, the heart's joyous proclivity and attraction and the best form of remembrance of the Supreme Lord.

The holy name has appeared solely for the benefit of the living entities as their lord and master, their supreme worshipful object and their spiritual guide and mentor.

Whoever continuously chants Lord Krishna's holy name, even in his sleep, can easily realize that the name is a direct manifestation of Krishna Himself, in spite of the influences of Kali-yuga. -

- Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, Saranagati (quoted from Adi-purana)

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

To serve

In our current experience so far, to serve others is not very glorious position. In fact people like to be served but not serve others or people serve only if there is some sort of return. So generally speaking, to serve is not popular or done with some motive. So when pure devotees pray to the Lord for service, it is not very appealing to the common man.

Therefore very few people actually pray like this – “oh my Lord, please engage me in your service as the servant of your servant!”. However, to serve the Lord or His devotees is not the same as serving people of this world. In fact serving the Lord or His devotees is higher than the position of Lord Brahma or Siva who are the masters of this universe. Service to Bhagavan Sri Krishna is the pinnacle of all austerity, charity, prayer and religions principles. It is the highest position a soul can achieve in his or her journey towards God.

Let me always desire only one thing “oh my Lord, let me always be engaged, if you so desire,in your service as the servant of your servants”, for there is nothing greater than this!

Hare Krishna

Monday, July 18, 2016

The power of holy name of Hari

The Yamadūtas had considered only the external situation of Ajāmila. Since he was extremely sinful throughout his life, they thought he should be taken to Yamarāja and did not know that he had become free from the reactions of all his sins. The Viṣṇudūtas therefore instructed that because he had chanted the four syllables of the name Nārāyaṇa at the time of his death, he was freed from all sinful reactions. In this regard Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura quotes the following verses from the smṛti-śāstra:

nāmno hi yāvatī śaktiḥ
 pāpa-nirharaṇe hareḥ
tāvat kartuṁ na śaknoti
 pātakaṁ pātakī naraḥ

“Simply by chanting one holy name of Hari, a sinful man can counteract the reactions to more sins than he is able to commit.” (Bṛhad-viṣṇu Purāṇa)

avaśenāpi yan-nāmni
 kīrtite sarva-pātakaiḥ
pumān vimucyate sadyaḥ
 siṁha-trastair mṛgair iva

“If one chants the holy name of the Lord, even in a helpless condition or without desiring to do so, all the reactions of his sinful life depart, just as when a lion roars, all the small animals flee in fear.” (Garuḍa Purāṇa)

sakṛd uccāritaṁ yena
 harir ity akṣara-dvayam
baddha-parikaras tena
 mokṣāya gamanaṁ prati

“By once chanting the holy name of the Lord, which consists of the two syllables ha-ri, one guarantees his path to liberation.” (Skanda Purāṇa)

These are some of the reasons why the Viṣṇudūtas objected to the Yamadūtas’ taking Ajāmila to the court of Yamarāja.

- Purport by Srila Prabhupada, SB 6.2.7

You come down and write these books

Srila Prabhupada said, "This world is a horrible place, but Lord Krishna said to me, 'You come down and write those books.' And I said, 'Oh, I do not want to go there. It is a horrible place.' And Lord Krishna said, 'No, no, you come down and write those books. I will take care of everything.' And I said, 'No, no, I do not want to go there,' but He insisted, 'You come down and write those books. I will take care of everything.'" So he said, "You just see how Krishna has taken care of everything for me." And he said, "You know, the Goswamis slept under a different tree every night. So they had their tree, I have my temples. I can stay in a different temple every night. They had their light, I have my light. They were translating their books, I'm translating my books." That was a great revelation, an extraordinary thing that Prabhupada was saying. And I looked at Upendra and he looked at me and it was just electric, the atmosphere.

- Memories of Srila Prabhupada by Bhavananda das

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

ISKCON 50

Today marks a half century for ISKCON. It is predicted to progress for 100 centuries. From that perspective, ISKCON is pretty much in its infancy. But from where we are standing, 50 years seems a long journey since its official inception July 13 1966.

I have been privileged to be a part of this esteemed institution. I have had the opportunity to meet many like minded souls and very pure souls. I cannot say I can find any other place in this entire planet earth where brilliant minds and pure souls gather in all in one place. I have made many friends in part due to this institution. For that, I am very grateful.

Initially, the incorporated ISKCON was simply a band of lose devotees in one building under an effulgent leader. Who knew, after 50 years, it would truly become a global organization that it is today. This also means global challenges. When we have devotees from diverse backgrounds gathering in one place, there is bound to be difference of opinion perhaps not in ideology but in execution of ideology. Therefore, it is necessary to have leaders who have sound management skills who can manage resources and people efficiently. As for ideological differences if any, we must go back to the books and tapes of Srila Prabhupada.

As long as ISKCON puts its Founder Acharya always in the center by following his instructions’ strictly, then I believe nothing can stop ISKCON for the next 100 centuries. I want to thank all the devotees’ who tirelessly work as a cohesive unit, despite differences, to serve the different instructions’ of Srila Prabhupada, a beacon of light for this dark age of quarrel and hypocrisy.

My humble obeisances and heartfelt gratitude to the Founder Acharya of ISKCON His Divine Grace AC Bhaktivedanta Swami to have the vision to establish a spiritual movement that is a receptacle for genuine seekers of truth!


Hare Krishna

Thursday, July 7, 2016

There are four things for a preacher

For a preacher, there are four things:

īśvare tad-adhīneṣu
bāliśeṣu dviṣatsu ca
prema-maitrī-kṛpopekṣā
yaḥ karoti sa madhyamaḥ -SB 11.2.46

When in the lower stage of devotional service, he cannot become preacher. When he's in a little upper, second stage, he can become preacher. So preacher has to see four things. First of all God, īśvara, and tad-adhīneṣu, and those who are devotee. God, His devotees, and bāliśa, innocent, he does not know anything about... So three = God, devotee, and the innocent. And dviṣat, and envious, atheist class. He has to see four things, and he has to deal with four persons differently.

  1. With God, īśvare prema: how to advance my love for God, these dealings. 
  2. Prema-maitrī: and to the devotees, we have to make friendship with them. Prema-maitrī. 
  3. And to the innocent, we have to preach, kṛpā: "Oh, here is an innocent person. He does not know; he's eager to learn." There teaching is required. Teaching, you cannot teach God or you cannot teach God's devotee. But you can teach only the innocent. 
  4. And those who are dviṣat, atheist, upekṣā, don't go there, save yourself. These are the four things. So when one is not open to hear, then don't bother yourself. That requires very strong preacher to convince the atheist class, provided he is reasonable also. If he's stubborn, obstinate, then it is also very difficult. 
But preaching is meant, innocent; that one who is actually sincere but he does not know what is God, what is my relationship with God, there is necessity of preaching. Not to the envious or those who are already advanced, or to God.

- Lecture July 5 1976, Washington DC, Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā 20.100 by Srila Prabhupada

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Is everything really happening for the good?

I have heard this phrase that whatever happens is for our good. Honestly, at least in the past could not find meaning to this phrase till I came in contact with Bhagavad Gita.

According to Bhagavad Gita (8.16), nothing in this material creation is actually good. We have a choice to accept what Krishna says or we can accept our own idea of good. But from Krishna’s perspective, this place is a place of misery and it is temporary. Even if we accept this place as good it is still temporary. Regardless, both misery and good is temporary according to Bhagavad Gita.

Having said that, if we re-define good as spiritual good and not material good, then everything is indeed happening for the good. By spiritual good, I mean good for the atma or soul and not deha or body. The body will deteriorate and die no matter what but the atma is eternal and hence real goodness can only mean spiritual good or good for the soul.

In our vision of one life time, it is difficult to evaluate how “all” souls are benefiting. But from Krishna’s position of past, present and future, “all” infinite souls in this material creation will eventually go back to Krishna. Krishna repeatedly sends His messengers or comes Himself to redeem these lost souls. So in that long standing sense of past, present and future, everything is slowly but surely churning towards Krishna and because Krishna is all good, everything indeed is good.

As they say “the mills of God grind slowly but surely”. We simply have to practice patience and tolerance in the face of dualities of life and meditate on our soul and Supersoul Krishna and as we make our journey towards Krishna, everything is good.

It is this journey towards Krishna which is all good, everything else is washed away by the waves of time anyways!

Hare Krishna

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Two or Two Hundred

Yamuna Devi: Srila Prabhupada, although we are very happy where we are, we are prepared to go wherever you would like to send us in order to have your blessings.

Srila Prabhupada: You westerners are always are restless. Why can’t you stay where you are?

Yamuna Devi: But we have been told that because we don’t have the association of devotees, we cannot make any advancement.

Srila Prabhupada: Association can be two or two hundred. But you must be compatible. If you are two and you are compatible, you can go back to Godhead. But if you are two hundred and not compatible (his eyes opened widely), then no one will make any advancement.

Yamuna Devi: But Srila Prabhupada, some of the leaders are saying that we have lost your mercy because we left ISKCON, and without your mercy, there is no meaning to our lives.

Srila Prabhupada: ISKCON is where you are chanting the Holy Names of Krishna. This is ISKCON

-Yamuna Devi, A Life Unalloyed Devotion, Offering the Gift of Bhakti to Others, ch 9 p68,by Dinatarini Devi

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Srila Prabhupada airport arrival

The first time I saw Srila Prabhupada was in the L.A. airport. I think it must have been about 200 devotees went to greet him. We were a huge crowd and the loud kirtan and everyone was pushing forward, and there was a space above the partition where the passengers were coming out and you were able to see if it was a tall person. I remember a Stetson hat came by and something else came by, and then we could understand.."Is that.. ? No, that's not Prabhupada." We kept pushing forward more and more and the kirtan was bigger and bigger; and then I felt someone pushing behind me and I thought that's odd because I'm at the back of the crowd, I was a very new devotee.

So then I turned to look and there were two businessmen behind me, mid-20's, suits and briefcases and everything else, but they were looking and looking to see who we were waiting for. Then suddenly we saw a danda raised above the partition and we knew, "Oh, Prabhupada must be coming." So then Prabhupada came out and we all paid our obeisances and there was the most amazing feeling like a tidal wave rushing through me from the very depths of my being and pouring out, and I cried and cried and cried. Then finally when I stood up to go and follow the devotees who were following Srila Prabhupada, I turned and these two businessmen were standing there with tears pouring down their faces. That was such an amazing experience to see how they were touched just by a moment's association with Srila Prabhupada.

- Racitambara dasi

Originality vs borrowed plumes

Everyone wants to be original – to offer something unique to this world. They want to contribute to the welfare of this world by showing their unique identity. This desire to show off originality is very natural and common in this world. In fact, this idea is promoted right from kindergarten.

As for devotees are concerned, they do the exact opposite. They do not offer anything unique to this world. They simply repeat what has already been spoken for thousands of years. In other words, they do not take pride in “borrowed plumes”. Peacocks look very beautiful with their plumes especially when the rainbow is out. If we borrow a plume from a peacock and show it off as our own, what credit do we get? Therefore, devotees give all credit to the teacher or Guru who teach to repeat knowledge as it is.

Unlike materialistic people who take pride in their originality, devotees express humility in the repetition of knowledge. This is one way to remain humble.

Hare Krishna

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Answer to queries

Someone asked me these questions, I thought to share my answers in this blog.

How do we respond to atheism regarding Krishna consciousness which tend base itself on analysis and evaluation of hard evidences and thus discarding the idea of god and Krishna altogether through an objective eye?

Atheism  basically stems from modern education and modern science because in science, the idea of God is not taught to students. Science as you say is based on evidence and its analysis. Evidence as per science is defined as that which can be observed and put to experimentation and from that experimentation derive mathematical constructs within Cartesian space. This is called empiricism or empirical science. If scientists cannot collect and subject evidence within Cartesian coordinates, then such evidence or theory is not scientifically valid. But God can never be a "subject" or be "subjected" to human control. God is always an "object" (never the subject). So unless scientists and their followers (atheists) give up this pride of subjecting evidence to test, they cannot and will never understand God.

So the first principle to understand God is to do the opposite of what atheists and scientists do - that is instead of "subjecting" evidence to human control, we "subject" humans to God's control. The idea, however, is the same. It is simply a matter of who is the subject and who is the object. Scientists have their "objective" such as research and grants and peer review papers. With this "objective" they "subject" evidence. If we want to understand God, we put God as the "objective" and we volunteer our self as the "subject" to be "subjected" to God's control. So when we become the evidence to God's experiment or plan, then from within our heart, that very God who is unscientific dogmatic idea will become a scientific truth or fact. The bottom line is - it is a matter of which methodology we want to pick but there is truth in both spheres, God and science.

On the road to spiritual path, how can we expand our spiritual roots while resolving dilemmas of day to day life. How to act more purposefully in our practical life? 

The whole Bhagavad Gita was spoken for this purpose and obviously I cannot summarize all of it here. For us to solve our dilemmas of daily life, we simply have to connect our self back to our source who is God. Right now we are disconnected, hence we face dilemma, doubts and fears. When we connect back to Krishna or God, then all of our daily issues will be automatically resolved. So the answer to your question is simple, connect back to Krishna or God and stay connected (because you have free will to disconnect). Now, how to connect and stay connected is the reason the Gita was spoken. But basically Srila Prabhupada has given us few principles to stay connected always with Krishna. They are (1) chanting (2) listening to lectures by Srila Prabhupada (3) reading Bhagavad Gita (4) associating with devotees (5) eating prasadam daily cooked with love for Krishna. When we do these five things daily sincerely, seriously and without selfishness, gradually we will revive our lost connection with God and will be able to stay connected with Him always. In this connection, all of our material troubles will be resolved.

Hare Krishna