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

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

One must always be connected to the Spiritual Master

In ISKCON, there are all varieties of devotees from neophytes to madhyama to uttama. It is important to associate with highly elevated souls at the same time careful in not finding fault with not so sincere souls who may be in a position of authority as well. 

Because in our heart, there is a tendency to find fault, that tendency is flared up when we see a factual discrepancy in the behavior of devotees. We will use it as a justification to criticize ISKCON and its authority. This does not mean we just have a blind eye to misdeeds. We have to report it to the concerned authorities and take shelter of Guru and Gauranga. In other words, good or bad we should practice the art of taking shelter unto Krishna amongst the dualities of this world even if it is in a devotional environment such as a temple because after-all ISKCON is also within this material world of duality and hence anytime anyone can fall victim to maya. 

We should not leave the institution just because we have a sour experience with local congregation or temple authorities. Humility,patience and shastric insights can alleviate some of the pain but by taking shelter of Krishna we can try to resolve unresolved conflicts within our self. 

Srila Prabhupada in one of his purports writes even if we find not so pure devotees, still we must stick to the Krishna Conscious Society.

Even if one thinks that there are many pseudo devotees or nondevotees in the Kṛṣṇa Consciousness Society, still one should stick to the Society; if one thinks the Society’s members are not pure devotees, one can keep direct company with the spiritual master, and if there is any doubt, one should consult the spiritual master. However, unless one follows the spiritual master’s instructions concerning the regulative principles and chanting and hearing the holy name of the Lord, one cannot become a pure devotee. 

- Purport by Srila Prabhupada CC Madhya Lila 19.157

Hare Krishna

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

An elephant to the rescue



People say animals do not have soul, or feelings or the ability to think. This video proves otherwise.

Anyone with an ounce of intelligence will understand that animals of all species have desire, intelligence, mind and feelings (thus consciousness) to emote at times of happiness or despair. It is just that the emotions fit the body of that living being. Animals have the same rights as humans to live out their lives per their life style habits. In my opinion, humans who support animal slaughter have feelings less than an animal since they cannot appreciate the consciousness (thinking, feeling and desiring) of the animal.

In this video, two elephants are trying hard to prevent the baby elephant from dying. You can see that they show urgency which means they understand the elephant is drowning and will die if we do not save it immediately (like any human). Since elephants are evolved beings, their consciousness is evolved to the point they can understand when someone is drowning. Then they use their intelligence and mental capacity to save the drowning elephant.

Hare Krishna

Monday, June 19, 2017

The Inverted tree



The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: It is said that there is an imperishable banyan tree that has its roots upward and its branches down and whose leaves are the Vedic hymns. One who knows this tree is the knower of the Vedas. The branches of this tree extend downward and upward, nourished by the three modes of material nature. The twigs are the objects of the senses. This tree also has roots going down, and these are bound to the fruitive actions of human society.

BG 15.1-2

Hare Krishna

Friday, June 16, 2017

Purity imparts purity

Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita says that for a soul to accept Him as the Supreme Being requires millions of life times of sojourn in this material creation. In this long sojourn, if a soul is fortunate to meet a bonafide spiritual master, then that soul embarks on the journey back home back to Godhead. 

In one lecture, Srila Prabhupada spoke about this potential jiva. Prabhupada said that it is not only that the spiritual master has to be bonfide but also the disciple has to be bonafide. By that he meant the disciple should be willing to accept the gift the spiritual master is bestowing. So it is natural to be curious to want to know who will accept this gift and who will not? or rather what is the qualification to accept the gift of the spiritual master?

I was reading the purport to CC Madhya lila 19.152, in there we get a clue. Below is the short excerpt.

Those with a background of pious life are eligible to receive life’s supreme benefit, and to bestow this benefit, the Supreme Personality of Godhead sends His representative to impart His mercy. endowed with the mercy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the spiritual master distributes the mercy to those who are elevated and pious. 

Here in this purport, Prabhupada qualifies a potential candidate of mercy is one who has a pious background, those who are elevated souls. To say this the other way, those who have whole-heartedly accepted the gift from guru (guru-prasāda), we can say are actually the pious souls. They must have performed sadhana in their previous lives to accept this gift in this life. I also want to distinguish mundane piety (in the name of dharma, artha, kama) from piety being referred here. Mundane piety leads to mundane prosperity (not certainly Krishna). Pious means one who has performed practical service to fulfill their constitutional positional as a servant of God. 

So yes, Krishna consciousness is certainly not for everyone. Only those with a pious background, those who are elevated will be able to fully accept guru-prasāda and make tangible strides on the path of ananya bhakti towards Krishna - the primeval and original living Being!

Hare Krishna

Thursday, June 15, 2017

The elusive minute

video



When will that minute come? I am waiting eons of life times for that minute. Irony of time, indeed!



Hare Krishna

Friday, May 26, 2017

Negation of a positive state is not without attributes

arupa - no form
nirguna - no guna
nirakar - no character

If you study the words above, it is negation of a positive state. For example, if I say "no money", it means there is no money. If I say "no water", means there is no water. It is simple right! But in order to negate a positive thing, that thing first of all has to exist. So now let us look at "no money". Does it mean no money as in there is no money currently or there is no such thing as money? It actually means there is no money but to say there is no such thing as money in creation ever is illogical.How can we negate that which never exists?

Similarly, people use the above words to describe Brahman as arupa, nirguna, nirakar etc and then claiming God has no form, quality etc. But if we use the no money simile, then we have to conclude that for negating the positive word "form" (arupa), first of all there has to be form (rupa). So this positive word "form" so far in our experience is tied to our reality which is material. So when we use the word arupa , then we can only say it is negation of material form and not complete negation of that attribute ever.

But certain class of vedic followers make that jump by saying that arupa means no form at all ever hence God is formless ever. But why cannot God have a spiritual form and still be arupa because our experience of rupa is material.

Therefore, more accurate interpretation of the words describing Brahman is the absence of material form, quality and character etc but certainly the positive state of form, character and quality exists in Brahman and because Brahman is all spirit, that positive state is also spiritual.

Hare Krishna

Thursday, May 25, 2017

contributing to book distribution

Srila Prabhupada stressed the point of book distribution so many times to his disciples. He wanted the literature of Krishna to be spread more. As a result, many devotees in ISKCON distribute books. Some devotees are forceful, some mild but book distribution is an inherent culture of ISKCON.

Many outside people find this disconcerting thinking ISKCON is proselytizing. While books represent knowledge, people in general can think it is converting to hinduism. Regardless of such accusations, Prabhupada wanted his books to be distributed and such distribution pleases him very much.

Having said that, many devotees (including myself) are shy or reticent to approach a random stranger and in like 30 secs sell a book. It is not that easy. So are these devotees displeasing Srila Prabhupada? Srila Prabhupada once said that if you cannot distribute, please help someone else who can. In other words, Prabhupada wanted us to cultivate the mood of distribution either directly or by helping someone else distribute.

So devotees who cannot directly do street sankirtan for various reasons can certainly contribute indirectly through money or other types of services. For the spiritual master, both devotees are seen equally. As devotees, we should not feel short that I cannot distribute, but still by helping other devotees' distribute, still, we are distributing and following the instructions of the spiritual master and seeking his mercy!

Hare Krishna

Monday, May 22, 2017

One liners...


  1. What is Faith? - Faith means unflinching trust in something sublime. 
  2. What is Self-realization? - Self realization means understanding Kṛṣṇa and one's eternal relationship with Him.
  3. What is Yoga?  - Yoga means to concentrate the mind upon the Supreme by controlling the ever-disturbing senses.
  4. What is Krishna consciousness? - Krsna Consciousness means an art of focusing one's attention on Supreme Godhead and Giving one's Love to him.
  5. What is Sannyasa? - Real sannyāsa-yoga or bhakti means that one should know his constitutional position as the living entity, and act accordingly.
  6. What is Knowledge? - Knowledge means knowing the distinction between spirit and matter.
  7. What is silence? - Silence does not mean that one should not speak; silence means that one should not speak nonsense.
  8. What is Renunciation? - Real renunciation means that one should always think himself part and parcel of the Supreme Lord.
  9. What is Liberation? - Liberation means freedom from the cycle of reactionary work.
  10. What is Humility? - Humility means that one should not be anxious to have the satisfaction of being honored by others.
  11. What is Nonviolence? - Nonviolence means not to put others into distress.
  12. What is Tolerance? - Tolerance means that one should be practiced to bear insult and dishonor from others.
  13. What is Simplicity? - Simplicity means that without diplomacy one should be so straightforward that he can disclose the real truth even to an enemy.
  14. What is Steadiness? - Steadiness means that one should be very determined to make progress in spiritual life.
  15. What is False ego? -  False ego means accepting this body as oneself.

- One line definitions extracted from Srila Prabhupada's books

Friday, May 19, 2017

Sadhana, is it kriya or bhakti?

In the Narada Pancharatra, it is said bhakti begins only after we give up our material designations that is connected to our body and mind. As long as we are connected to the body and mind, any devotion we perform is mixed devotion (mixed with karma and knowledge).

When a soul engages in service to Krishna from his constitutional position as servant, then that service is called bhakti. Any service to Krishna thinking I am this body/mind becomes mixed. So this mixed service is called sadhana kriya as opposed to sadhana bhakti which stems from the platform of servant to God (soul's constitutional position). This difference between sadhana bhakti and kriya is indeed subtle. There is no definitive line. If we perform bhajana such as sravanam, kirtanam and archanam with the end goal to benefit the self (in the form of the body and mind), then that is sadhana kriya. But if we perform the same bhajana with the end goal to please Krishna ( as a servant of Krishna) then that becomes sadhana bhakti.

Sadhana kriya is considered pious activities and can help cleanse the mind of bad qualities (anartha) and establish the soul on the mode of goodness platform (satva guna) but such pious activities is still temporary as it is on the platform of the mind. If we want the same activity to become eternal, then it has to be done on the platform of the soul, which is to serve to please Krishna in a mood of servant.

This inner mood that I am servant and my service is for the pleasure of Krishna dictates our growth in spiritual life. Anything not this, we can chant 64 rounds daily but still we will not progress to the stage of bhava or prema. That is why (at least this is a revelation to me) that many devotees who come to this platform of bhakti fall down or leave because they have not given up their material identity. They have not cultivated the identity that I am servant of God and my service is to please Him. One who cultivates this thought will not fall down.

Therefore, It is paramount to cultivate this inner mood of servant to Krishna and perform our sadhana in that spirit of servant to Krishna in order for us to not fall and indeed make progress. Krishna says in the Bhagavad Gita that this is possible only by His mercy! Ultimately therefore, our ability to perform bhakti is dependent on the mercy of Krishna. If we do not have that mercy, we will be performing sadhana kriya (mental platform) and not sadhana bhakti (soul platform) and there will be every chance of a fall.

Hare Krishna

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

ananyagatitvam

The third quality of surrender is ananyagatitvam, meaning exclusiveness or singular devotion. Earlier we talked about saralata and akinchanatvam. A symptom of surrender is to proclaim loyalty to one master. Lord Hanuman is a classic example of this. He was undeterred in His service to His master Lord Ramachandra.

I heard this story but cannot recall the exact Puranic source. The story goes something like this that illustrates Lord Hanuman's singular devotion. Once, Lord Krishna had an audience with the eternal traveling spaceman Sage Narada. During their conversation, Lord Krishna requested Narada to seek audience with Lord Hanuman. Narada muni immediately traveled to the caves where Lord Hanuman is eternally reciting Ramayan. Narada meets Hanumanji and conveys the message Krishna would like to meet Him. Hanumanji replied that He is busy studying Ramayana. Once He is done, He will come. Narada muni was besides himself. He traveled to Dwaraka and conveyed the message to Krishna. Krishna smilingly acknowledged the expected response. Krishna knew Hanumanji will not come. Then again, Krishna said "this time tell that Lord Ram wants to see Him". So Narada went back to the cave where Hanumanji was meditating and again conveyed the message. Hearing that Lord Rama is awaiting His audience, immediately just as He jumped to Lanka, He jumped to Dwaraka and there His beloved Lord Ramachandra was standing to see Him. Hanumanji immediately prostrated and paid His dandavat pranams. Krishna manifested Himself as Rama and gave darshan to Hanumanji just to please Hanumanji.

The story goes to show how Lord Hanuman was so focused and fixed on His devotion to Lord Rama that even Krishna is not His object of service. Although there is no difference between Rama and Krishna, still the inner mood of seva and love can and should be expressed only to the master one is loyal to. Lord Hanuman was loyal and His unconditional love was only to His eternal master Lord Rama. Likewise, the Lord also is singularly attached to His devotee in the mood He reciprocates. Such is the kindness and love of Krishna or in this case Rama.

From this story, we can learn that in order to surrender (saranagati), one has to be loyal to His master despite all obstacles and constantly meditate on His beloved master as his life and soul. Therefore, ananyagatitvam or singular devotion is a significant symptom of surrender or saranagati.

Hare Krishna.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

akinchanatvam

In my last post, I mentioned saralata or simplicity as a key ingredient for surrender. Another ingredient is akinchanatvam, meaning "not interested in things other than service to Krishna". For example, Hanumanji had mystical powers (material powers), He had immense strength and I believe He could have single handedly defeated Ravana. These siddhis could be considered extraneous but because He used it in the service of Lord Ram, His powers were not kinchana, but rather akinchana. So akinchantatvam necessarily does not mean material poverty but the inner desire to not possess anything for one's own pleasure but only for the pleasure of the Lord. Vibhishan, Prahlad, Dhruva,Yudhistira etc all were powerful material married kings with family possessing lot of wealth and power and fame. Because they employed their kinchana properties in bhakti, they could approach akinchana gochara Lord Sri Ram or Sri Krishna. Therefore akinchanatvam is a key ingredient in surrender to Swayam Bhagavan!

Hare Krishna

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Simplicity

One of the qualities of an aspiring devotee of Krishna is the concept of saralata or simplicity. It is mentioned that simplicity of heart is a key ingredient in the process of surrender to the Lord. Simplicity can be misunderstood to be naiveté. Srila Prabhupada was anything but naïve. A devotee is also an expert in everything. So how can expert and simplicity go hand in hand?

Simplicity means, at least to me, is to not have an ulterior motive or agenda. When we have an ulterior selfish motive, then we will try to extract some meaning even if it does not exist and that is certainly not favorable for Krishna consciousness. We should keep things simple and straight. Thus saralata or simplicity of heart is a key ingredient in Krishna consciousness.

Hare Krishna

Sunday, April 30, 2017

The Empty Yard

Practically everyday, I look out of my window and I see my neighbor working on his yard. Of course, in winter he is not doing yard work but plows the snow if it snows etc. At least major part of the year, I see him waving at me and enthusiastically doing his work. Clearly, I saw how he was connected and was taking pleasure in maintaining his garden. His persona was one of energy and movement. I guess as a proud homeowner, Americans in general tend to take pride in their upkeep of yard and gardening.

Then one day I saw he was missing in his regular activities. After few months, I chanced to meet him in his yard and I was told by my neighbor that he has cancer. As a result, he reduced his movements and stayed indoors most of the time. I prayed to the Lord for His well-being.

As time passed, the yard seemed eerily silent and void. I started to have a gut feeling that something was not right. What once was a yard of energy looked desolate like an abandoned brownfield. It did not sit well with me. I was constantly meditating on his missing figure. Has the inevitable taken place? Not able to withstand my apparent internal conflict, I googled the obituary only to find my good neighbor passed two months ago. He was 61, by modern standards that is young indeed.

I went over to my neighbor's house with a single rose stem and expressed my support and sadness to his wife. Life goes on...isn't it (as my brother would say in his english accent). Everything seems normal and now i see a hired landscaper doing the yard work every week.

Once upon a time my neighbor was real, he existed and his passion for keeping the yard was real. His energy could be felt and he was constantly up and about. Now that same energy is there but it can be felt in the emptiness by him not being here. So which is true? The fact that he existed or the fact now that he doesn't? The Bhagavad Gita says that the soul is eternal and that there is no birth or death for the ever lasting soul. So I am pleased to know that my neighbor truly is somewhere in the cosmos. While the soul may be eternal, the reality as "my neighbor" and "his yard work" is not. It is this apparent reality I am questioning - is it even real? Both his presence and non-presence seems very real but also very opposite! Which is true, bewildering indeed, Maya is!

I am reminded of this deep statement by His Divine Grace AC Bhaktivedanta Swami which jump started my own quest for the truth. It comes right in the beginning pages of the introduction of Bhagavad Gita - "Our very existence is in the atmosphere of nonexistence. Actually we are not meant to be threatened by nonexistence".  These words cannot be anymore truer for me especially now as I can feel the presence of existence and non-existence and my struggle to grasp the truth?

Hare Krishna

Friday, April 28, 2017

Give her a garland!

One time Jadurani painted a picture of Krishna/ Radha Krishna, and Radharani is holding a garland for Krishna and Krishna is playing his flute, but when Prabhupada saw the picture, he saw that Radharani is not looking towards Krishna. So Prabhupada said what is this? he said, 'it looks like Radharani is looking for another boyfriend?.

But seriously you know, Prabhupada was like criticizing this picture, that, this is not correct. And of course she worked hard on this picture and she was crushed, you know, I did all this to please Prabhupada and Prabhupada is rejecting it. When Prabhupada would say something like that, looking for another lover, that means like biting sarcasm. Not like that, you know, funny joke. It means that you know you are nonsense, you painted Radharani like she is looking for another lover or something. He rejected the picture. So, not so quite harshly but then he said this is not good. So Jadurani was very naturally unhappy.

Then the next day Prabhupada called her and said actually the picture is alright. Krishna told Radharani that that girl Jadurani is a nice girl; you should give her a garland!!

- From "Lecture on pastimes of Srila Prabhupada" By HH Jayadvaita Swami

Friday, April 21, 2017

The plight of man is a wonder indeed!


Once a man was chased by an elephant in a forest. Seeing no respite, he climbed a tree but he slipped, was about to fall before he could hold on to a branch. He looked up and found that the elephant is waiting to devour him and two rats, one black and one white, were slowly nibbling the branch  he was hanging on to. He understood that very soon  the branch would fall to the ground.

As the man looked down, he discovered that there were many snakes. Suddenly a drop of honey fell on his face. He pulled his tongue out and licked it. There was a honeycomb between the two branches he was holding. Due to disturbance caused by his holding and shaking the branch, bees were out to bite him. But at the same time honey was also oozing from the comb.

Forgetting the obvious (elephant, snakes, rats, and bees), he just adjusted his tongue to get drops of honey straight on his tongue. Now, he was happy indeed forgetting his precarious situation.

This analogy from the Mahabharata perfectly fits a common man. The man represents the common man or ourself. We are stuck in this precarious situation of this material world (samsara). Death (elephant) is chasing us continuously; it will not leave us without devouring. The black and white rats represent night and day respectively. They are slowly reducing our age. The hissing snakes represents the big obstacles in life. Honey-bees represent the day to day problems we face in our life. The sweet honey represents the pleasures’ of this world in its myriad forms.

If only we accept the lending hand of Krishna, we can save ourselves a lot of trouble but we are too attached to the drops of dripping honey.

The plight of man in this world is a wonder indeed!

Hare Krishna

Monday, April 17, 2017

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Friday, March 31, 2017

Planning makes a man perfect!

I am a proponent of planning. I plan my day if it is outside my routine, plan my trips if I am taking any, plan my domestic priorities, plan my work duties daily etc. In other words, all of us practice the art of planning our duties and based on the plan we prioritize our daily activities.

Similarly, we have to plan our journey back to Krishna. Not that just chant some rounds, read some books, listen some stories, do some puja in temple and magically we land up with Krishna. Unless we plan our spiritual life, determination will not come. Because we have so many other things to do, it is best to have a clear and simple plan (for spiritual priorities) to execute at every phase or stage of our life. Then once we create a plan based on our strength and or weakness, we can gradually implement them with determination. If we cannot implement our plan, then we revisit them and tweek the plan.

Personally, I think this is important and helps me keep track of my spiritual progress both externally and internally. Please sit down and meditate where you would like to be in 6 months, 2 years, 5 years, 10 years and end of life. This is important!

Hare Krishna

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Dhanaraj, Balaraj and Ananda

Once upon a time there lived a king in Benaras with 3 sons named Dhanaraj, Balaraj and Ananda.

Suddenly one day the king left his body and the kingdom was seized by the minister.

The minister took charge of the kingdom and cheated the 3 prince by giving them a small house to live in a village which was located outside the kingdom.

Now these three began to contemplate on the situation.

The eldest one asked, “What is the finest thing in the world?”

The youngest one said,  “I dont know?”

The middle one Balaraj said, “Power is the finest thing, the minister would not have snatched our kingdom without power.”

The elder prince disagreed saying, “The finest thing in the world is money. With money we can have power also. I will go to China and return with lots of money.”

Prince Balaraj said,  “I will go to Turkey and raise a big army.”

The brothers decided to meet at the same place after 10 yrs .

Years passed by and one fine day a huge army came from one side and a huge caravan full of gold and jewels came from the other.

They were led by Dhanaraj and Balaraj, both the brothers embraced each other.

Dhanaraj told Balaraj, “I am the richest man in the world. I can bribe your soldiers.”

Balaraj proudly said “My soldiers can loot your money.”

They looked out for their younger brother Ananda. He came out from the small house with a young woman and 2 children.

Dhanaraj and Balaraj asked “Did you find the finest thing in the world?”

Ananda said, “Yes. I have found that contentment is the finest thing in the world, without it power and wealth are all useless.”

The brothers suddenly realized that its true, still they wanted to fight the Minister.

Ananda laughed and told that the Minister died years ago and people wanted to make him the king. But he was too contented to leave. So, all their efforts had been in vain.

Here we see that the youngest prince Ananda was happy with whatever he had and thus was living peacefully.

Moral of the story.

If you are happy with whatever you have, i.e. you are content with what you have there is no regrets. Then there is no desire and if there is no desire, you will be peaceful.

Here is the verse from the shastras which says:

santosha trishu kartavyah svadhaare bhojane dhane
santosha trishu na kartavyah svaadhyaah japa dhaanayoh

“One should be always satisfied with these three things:
1) their spouse
2) the food
3) the amount of wealth they obtained.

One should never be satisfied with these three things:

1) the amount of scriptural study
2) the amount of chanting
3) amount of charity they perform

We always want to accumulate wealth for future, want to build a house, take up life insurance policies and what not.

Every one tries to possess more and more. How much ever we endeavor we shall get only that which is in our prarabdha.

Lord is taking care of our needs right from the time we are in our mothers womb. As soon as the child comes out mothers body is filled with milk. Still we try to make all arrangements. This is because we don't have faith in him.

Hare Krishna

Friday, March 10, 2017

oral vs aural tradition

Is is said western religions primarily spread through oral dissemination. In other words, through story telling. People inspired by the stories converted to the respective religions. This is how the religions spread primarily in the western hemisphere and gradually to the east.

The Vedic tradition also has an oral component as there were no written books back then. However, the stress is not oral but aural reception. In other words, the student through attentive hearing, questioning and active service of the instructions realizes the truth from within. Aural reception invokes in the student a sense of higher knowledge followed by humble service followed by transcendental realizations.

While oral tradition is more focused on telling a story, aural reception is more focused on enlightenment of the self, story telling is secondary. Sentiments and inspirations form the core value of oral tradition whereas humility, austerity and self-realization form the core value of aural reception. Oral is externally focused versus aural is internally focused.

East or west, in plain words, without aural reception, mere oral tradition becomes another form of story telling, a sort of cultural and religious entertainment!

Hare Krishna

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Big bang and a fizzle in the long run

Since everything is at the end temporary, no matter how grand the show may be materially speaking, in the grand scheme of things is simply fluff. The opening and middle may be grand but the end is it ends. The scene changes, people change and everything has to be dismantled. Of course, then the next group arrives, sets up their tent and the show continues. Regardless, all things must pass and this temporariness of this world makes reality less valuable than it is presented to us.

Below is a nice description, I thought, sort of describing this grand but temporary show.

aja-yuddhe muni-śrāddhe
prabhāte megha-ḍambare
dam-pate kalahe caiva
bambhārambhe laghu-kriyā

Aja yuddhe means two goats fighting. I vividly remember growing up in India, I have often seen two goats fighting clashing their horns and heads. Literally one can hear the noise of the clash like two gladiators in a ring. Then, the owner comes and shews the goats away and they are like friends again. This exaggerated fight between goats represents our grand illusory world.

Muni-śrāddhe means the sage or muni is trying to have a grand ceremony but living in the forest, what can they possess, some fruits, leaves etc. Although it is a ceremony but not very ceremonious. Again grand in stage but not much to show in terms of offering.

Prabhāte megha-ḍambare is rumbling of the clouds but no rain. This is very common. Everyone must have had this experience of dark ominous clouds with thundering sound but either there is little rain or no rain. One more instance of grand opening but just fluff.

Dam-pate kalahe, this is the most common although now a days this is not just innocent. When a husband and wife fight with each other, they chastise and shout at each other but a true loving couple do not continue the fight. After things calm down, they get back as if nothing happened. However, this is not the case much anymore but certainly once couples never separated despite arguments and fighting. In that sense, such fighting is not fighting.

All the above examples give us a clue that we should deal with life and life incidences with a smooth handle. In other words, if things get sour, let time heal the wounds because after all everything begins with a bang bambhārambhe, but ends with fluff laghu-kriyā (not very significant).

This is the nature of this world.

Hare Krishna

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Devotee means...

Vaiṣṇava devotee means give me simply a place to lay down, little prasādam, whatever little service you have got please give me, that's all. -Śrīla Prabhupāda's Letter to: Gurudāsa, Yamunā — Bombay 19 December, 1972

Devotee means he is able to tolerate all kinds of discomfort and whims of the material nature, and because he is so much absorbed in serving Kṛṣṇa, he takes no time to become angry or take offense with others or find out some fault. -Śrīla Prabhupāda’s Letter to: Haṁsadūta — Ahmedabad 10 December, 1972

Devotee means very liberal and kind to everyone, always gentleman under all kinds of conditions of life. -Śrīla Prabhupāda’s Letter to: Haṁsadūta — Ahmedabad 10 December, 1972

Devotee means one should be firmly convinced of his being the eternal servant of Kṛṣṇa.  -Śrīla Prabhupāda’s Letter to: Mr. Kair — Los Angeles 8 July, 1969

So to become devotee means to do the best service to the family. -Śrīla Prabhupāda, Discussion on Deprogrammers -- January 9, 1977, Bombay

A devotee means he knows everything. -Śrīla Prabhupāda’s room Conversation with Professor Francois Chenique -- August 5, 1976, New Mayapur (French farm)

Devotee means the first sign will be happy, brahma-bhūtaḥ prasannātmā [Bg. 18.54]. If he's not prasannātmā, he's a rascal. He has not entered even devotional life. He's outside. That is the test.-Śrīla Prabhupāda’s Morning Walk -- April 24, 1976, Melbourne

Devotee means tattva-darśī. He has seen the real truth. -Śrīla Prabhupāda’s Morning Walk -- March 25, 1976, Delhi

Devotee means who follows Kṛṣṇa. -Śrīla Prabhupāda’s Morning Walk -- March 25, 1976, Delhi

Devotee means sa guṇān samatītyaitān brahma-bhūyāya kalpate [Bg. 14.26]. He is above these material laws. That is devotee. -Śrīla Prabhupāda’s Morning Walk -- March 25, 1976, Delhi

Devotee means brahmacārī. Pure devotee means brahmacārī. Anyabhilasita-sunyam [Brs. 1.1.11]. He has no other desire. That is brahmacārī. -Śrīla Prabhupāda’s Morning Walk -- November 3, 1975, Bombay

Devotee means serious devotee. -Śrīla Prabhupāda’s Conversation with Professor Hopkins -- July 13, 1975, Philadelphia

Devotee means he has no sense gratification. -Śrīla Prabhupāda’s Room Conversation with Tripurāri -- March 2, 1975, Atlanta

Devotee means one who has taken shelter of Kṛṣṇa. -Śrīla Prabhupāda’s Morning Walk -- June 13, 1974, Paris

Devotee means he does not know anything better than Kṛṣṇa, that's all. -Śrīla Prabhupāda’s Room Conversation -- November 4, 1973, Delhi

The devotee means who is always pleasing Kṛṣṇa. He has no other business. That is devotee. -Śrīla Prabhupāda’s Talk with Bob Cohen -- February 27-29, 1972, Māyāpura

Devotee means to hear about Kṛṣṇa, to chant the glories of Kṛṣṇa, to think of Kṛṣṇa, to offer fruits and flowers to Kṛṣṇa. -Śrīla Prabhupāda’s Departure Address -- Los Angeles, July 15, 1974

Devotee means to become fully qualified with all the noble qualities. -Śrīla Prabhupāda, Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā 20.119-121 -- New York, November 24, 1966

Devotee means he must be sinless.-Śrīla Prabhupāda, Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 7.6.1 -- Madras, January 2, 1976

Devotee, means he is prepared to do anything for God. That is pure devotee. -Śrīla Prabhupāda, Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 7.5.22-30 -- London, September 8, 1971

Devotee means not with four hands or four legs, no. The hands, legs are the same. But his mode of thinking different. That's all. That is devotee. Devotee does not depend on the country, color or religion or circumstance. Devotee means the mind. Anyone who is always thinking of Kṛṣṇa, he is devotee. -Śrīla Prabhupāda, Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 6.1.50 -- Detroit, June 16, 1976

Devotee means he's not blind.-Śrīla Prabhupāda, Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam1.7.40 -- Vṛndāvana, October 1, 1976

Devotee means he does not ask anything from God.-Śrīla Prabhupāda, Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam1.3.7 -- Los Angeles, September 13, 1972

A devotee means who is abiding by the laws given by God. -Śrīla Prabhupāda, Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam1.1.2 -- London, August 17, 1971

Devotee means complete spiritual. -Śrīla Prabhupāda, Bhagavad-gītā 4.2, Bombay, March 22, 1974

Devotee means he is firmly convinced about his relationship with God.-Śrīla Prabhupāda, Bhagavad-gītā 4.1-6 -- Los Angeles, January 3, 1969

Devotee means servant—not paid servant—but servant by affection. -Śrīla Prabhupāda, Bhagavad-gītā 4.1 -- Delhi, November 10, 1971

Devotee means he can act anything and everything for the Lord. -Śrīla Prabhupāda, Bhagavad-gītā 4.1 -- Montreal, August 24, 1968

Devotee means one who has engaged his senses cent percent for the service of the Lord, he is devotee, pure devotee. -Śrīla Prabhupāda, Bhagavad-gītā 3.6-10 -- Los Angeles, December 23, 1968

Devotee means although he is very, very powerful, he never thinks that "I am powerful." He thinks that "I am acting simply by the order of the powerful." -Śrīla Prabhupāda, Bhagavad-gītā 2.15 -- London, August 21, 1973

Devotee means to finish all miserable conditions of materialistic life. -Śrīla Prabhupāda, Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 4.12.46

Hare Krishna

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Vaishnava dharma is the only supreme religion

Once, I met Reverend Ridley De. After he quietly listened to my lecture for two or three hours, he said, “Since you are saying things that are so similar to Christianity, why don’t you declare yourself a Christian?” To this I said, “Christianity is only a partial representation of – or a step on the ladder of – Vaiṣṇava dharma. Apart from that, we have more, which supplements what Christianity teaches. Things that have not been said in Christianity because qualification is there in a fuller extent in Vaiṣṇavism. Vaiṣṇava dharma is the only supreme religion for all living entities. The other religious systems are either stages of Vaiṣṇavism or perversions of it. To the degree that they are stages, they can be accepted for particular classes of people; if they are perversions, they should be rejected.

- Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Prabhupada, Uncommon Dialogues,pg 83

Monday, February 27, 2017

Everyone is special!



















These are pictures of snow flakes taken by Wilson Bentley in 1885 when he was 20 years old. He went on to take over 5,000 pictures of different and individual snowflakes. A book having over 2,500 images was released in the name of Snow Crystals. This book is in print since 1931. Wilson Bentley provided visual evidence that no two flakes are alike - source.

If two small snow flakes are not alike, then how can more complex human beings be alike? Today biological science categorizes species and living beings on their external likeness (morphology). Social science categorizes behavioral patterns among like living beings. Chemists test drugs based on the commonalities in human anatomy and physiology. Categorizing, normalizing and standardizing may be okay to study patterns of behavior and functions among living beings but it is certainly not okay to evaluate an individual. Today, we (including myself) very easily judge people based on these common traits. But actually no two living being is identical, hence we should see them and relate with them entirely on an individual basis.

Because we live in an impersonal and a time-constraint world, we neither have the desire nor the time to know the person we come in contact with. How can we understand God, He is invisible?

Hare Krishna

The Power of Chanting

One who chants the holy name of the Lord is immediately freed from the reactions of unlimited sins, even if he chants indirectly [to indicate something else], jokingly, for musical entertainment, or even neglectfully. This is accepted by all the learned scholars of the scriptures.

If one chants the holy name of Hari and then dies because of an accidental misfortune, such as falling from the top of a house, slipping and suffering broken bones while traveling on the road, being bitten by a serpent, being afflicted with pain and high fever, or being injured by a weapon, one is immediately absolved from having to enter hellish life, even though he is sinful.

Authorities who are learned scholars and sages have carefully ascertained that one should atone for the heaviest sins by undergoing a heavy process of atonement and one should atone for lighter sins by undergoing lighter atonement. Chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra, however, vanquishes all the effects of sinful activities, regardless of whether heavy or light.

As a fire burns dry grass to ashes, so the holy name of the Lord, whether chanted knowingly or unknowingly, burns to ashes, without fail, all the reactions of one’s sinful activities.

If a person unaware of the effective potency of a certain medicine takes that medicine or is forced to take it, it will act even without his knowledge because its potency does not depend on the patient’s understanding. Similarly, even though one does not know the value of chanting the holy name of the Lord, if one chants knowingly or unknowingly, the chanting will be very effective.

Spoken by Yama Dharmaraja to Yamadutas

- SB 6.2.14-19

Hare Krishna

Friday, February 24, 2017

Ignorance in the guise of literary embellishment

When a person speaks about spiritual subject matter, normally the statements are conjectural and ambiguous. It is somewhat poetic and meant to be uncertain.

Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given to you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer. - Rainer Maria Rilke

Now, I think I understand what the quote says but still the quote wants me thinking about it more. This is because the author expresses a vague subject vaguely. Mundane scholars do not admit to themselves and to others that they actually do not know what lies beyond!

Srila Prabhupada is different. Srila Prabhupada is self-realized. Srila Prabhupada is an expert in spiritual truths. Therefore, when he speaks there is no ambiguity indicating his gravity. One example is a statement by Prabhupada in his purport to Bhagavad Gita chapter 1 text 1. He says “It (referring to Bhagavad Gita) is the perfect theistic science because it is directly spoken by the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa”. One philosophy teacher simply could not digest this categorical statement because he was not used to accuracy and perfection in his field of philosophy. 

While it is highly refined to applaud subtle messages expressed in poetic language, it is still more refined to accept language (poetic or otherwise) that expresses the truth without duality. The underlying message is more important than literary embellishments for it will set us free!

Hare Krishna

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Symptoms of spontaneous love for God

Offenseless chanting of Krishna's Holy Name even once can liberate one from the pangs of material miseries. Srimad Bhagavata Purana sets the standard for pure chanting. This standard can be achieved by one who is on the stage of bhava or spontaneous loving sentiments towards Krishna. Below are the symptoms of such a soul.

tad aśma-sāraṁ hṛdayaṁ batedaṁ
yad gṛhyamāṇair hari-nāma-dheyaiḥ
na vikriyetātha yadā vikāro
netre jalaṁ gātra-ruheṣu harṣaḥ

Certainly that heart is steel-framed which, in spite of one’s chanting the holy name of the Lord with concentration, does not change when ecstasy takes place, tears fill the eyes and the hairs stand on end. 

Symptoms of bhava;
  1. Kṣānti - cessation of material desires 
  2. Avyārtha-kālatvam - utilization of every moment in the transcendental loving service of the Lord 
  3. Nāma-gāne sadā ruci - eagerness for glorifying the Lord constantly 
  4. Prītis tad-vasati sthale - attraction for living in the land of the Lord 
  5. Virakti - complete detachment from material happiness 
  6. Māna-śūnyatā - pridelessness 

- Srimad Bhagavata Purana 2.3.24

Hare Krishna


Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Rare picture

Rare photo of His Divine Grace Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Prabhupada and one of his disciples. Earlier I mentioned that he is Abhaya Charanaravinda dey but I was wrong.


Hare Krishna

Monday, January 23, 2017

Dog, hog, camel and ass

Dog
Dogs bark. One dog barks at another dog or another human when the dog senses some territorial clash or some trespassing. Dogs also are faithful to their masters. So this dog-like mentality of barking and faithfulness is inculcated to human beings right from kindergarten, believe it or not!

When a child enters kindergarten and continues education all the way up to graduate school, the child who becomes a student of modern knowledge is taught to divide, categorize, analyze, and conclude. This process of teaching is a universal concept. Then the student graduates and enters the workforce. With his skills of conclusions based on the analysis of his categories, he is awarded and recognized in his company. He becomes a faithful servant to his company mission.

Division and categorization is like the dog perceiving a sense of boundary. Once this boundary is breached, there is alarm and barking. The advanced student, now a faithful servant of his company when faced with a breach of his imaginary self-served categories finds faults with other categories which is not self-serving. To the degree he is faithful to his owner who feeds him, to that much the advanced student will be loud in his fault-finding. This dog-like mentality of fault-finding and faithfulness blinds the intelligence of man to self-serving ideologies which is seminal to further conflicts.

Hog
A hog is a greedy animal. It eats anything without any sense of discrimination. Of course, those who have discrimination find this behavior repulsive. Human beings, out of greed and passion, accumulate or hoard things, money, real estate just like a pig without discrimination. Similarly, humans when they eat food without any sense of discrimination, cleanliness or appropriateness, then that human is no better than a pig. The recommended food for a human being is made from grains,vegetables, fruits, milk, sugar etc. Flesh is forbidden for human consumption. Religion has nothing to do with this. Greediness and cleanliness in accumulation and food habits distinguish humans from being pig-like.

Camel
Camels are desert animals that eat thorny plants. It enjoys its own blood thinking it is chewing juicy plants. Similarly materialistic people suck their own blood like the camel by trying to intensely enjoy family life by having sex, money,family members, and employment. Just like the foolish camel enjoying his false-pleasure of sucking his own blood from his mouth, similarly people who are materialistically minded work very hard to enjoy pleasures of this world ignoring their spiritual duties and at the end eat the thorny results of their actions mixed with their own blood. This is a diseased state and such people are indeed camel-like. While they are actually suffering, they think out-of-illusion, they are enjoying!

Ass
Ass or a donkey is the glorious beast of burden and is even looked down upon within the animal community. This ass carries so much burden for a few morsels of grass which is freely available without so much work. Another aspect of the ass is that the he-ass out of desire to have sex with a she-ass is willing to be kicked by the she-ass on its face. Apparently, the female ass kicks the male ass if it is not inclined. Despite this kicking, the male ass continues with its pleas of sex. Similarly, the glorified modern uber man and woman works exactly like the donkey carrying the lord for his master. The master throws some reward and the ass-like worker enjoys with that money. The man/woman also enjoys with his/her spouse and children and is controlled in various ways by them just to satisfy them. Today both man and woman work like an ass and are kicked by their masters and the opposite sex.

In summary. human beings when they engage in fault-finding, faithfulness to self-serving masters, greediness,lack of cleanliness,life-depleting work/life ethic and intense desire to enjoy this world despite its' burdens represent the four animals dog, hog, camel and ass. Such animal like human beings in the name of political partyism, religionism, philanthropism,communism,casteism, racism, scientism, nationalism etc, elect their leaders to govern will only result in chaos and not peace. There is no question of happiness with no peace!

Therefore, a true leader is one who knows the relationship between matter and spirit and adores the all-knowing God in humble service as the Supreme benefactor. Such a leader creates a system where all living beings including the lower species can live in harmony with each other. Such a leader and such a community is indeed human-like and in such a community peace and fraternity is but a natural outcome.

Hare Krishna

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Who is Srila Prabhupada?

Who is Srila Prabhuada, no one knows? But certainly an empowered and loving spiritual master, father and grand father for his sincere followers. Somehow or the other, i have been lucky to have gotten his mercy. It is up to me to accept it or reject it.

A memory:

I was traveling. I intended to come to Europe to do street clowning with my girlfriend. In New York City, we met a sankirtan devotee who gave us a book and a record, Radha Krishna Album. And when we heard this music, I remember thinking that there is nothing I want to do besides find out what this means and meet the people who are singing this music. So we went to England. That was in March of '77. So it was only four months later that the devotees said Srila Prabhupada is coming, and we all considered it a wonderful miracle that somehow or other we were actually going to be able to meet him. Many of the older devotees were pained to see him in that condition; but to me, it was the first time I saw him and he was so incredibly attractive. He was glowing like the sun, just so beautiful like the ripened fruit of tapasya.

I had never experienced anyone who was exuding so much love. I was astonished. I had an interesting experience that while he was giving this first lecture, I was sitting back in a corner where I could see him but so many devotees around. But I had the strange feeling that while Prabhupada was speaking, he was looking directly at me and speaking to me. It was as if he had sat down in front of me and said, "My dear child, this is why you've been suffering in the material world and now it's time for you to go back home, back to Krishna. Come with me and I'll take you home." I felt pretty silly due to my big false ego thinking that I had received special attention.

So after the lecture when I went out into the hallway, I overheard some devotee speaking that "Oh, I had this strange experience that Prabhupada was looking straight at me and speaking directly to me." And then I heard another group of people speaking, and at least three or four different groups of devotees mentioned like this. I was stunned, "What kind of person is this?" It was also interesting while I was in this lecture, I had a unique feeling that Prabhupada was looking straight into my soul, that he was looking at my essential self and not at the person who I had previously thought I was, but looking through all the layers of my conditioning to see my true self, that I was an eternal spiritual living entity, a servant of Krishna. And that he would hold this realization of me so strongly, it felt as if that could bring me out of all those layers of conditioning to the point where I can also realize who I am. So because I was a latecomer and in one way felt unfortunate that I was only able to see Prabhupada in his very last days, in another way I felt like I received a wonderful benediction.

by Gopimata Devi

Hare Krishna

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

The Indian Disease

In India, “Oh, Vasudeva, we know everything of Vasudeva,” “Hare Krsna, oh, What you can teach? We know everything.” This is the Indian disease. Because familiarity breeds contempt. Because Indians are familiar with the name of Vasudeva, with the name of Hare Krsna, they think… Just like in Europe and American cities these boys and girls, they go for sankirtana, and the Indian people, they say, “Oh, we know everything about it. We have now come here to learn how to eat meat, how to drink wine.” This is the condition. And the leaders, they are also leading in that way: “Give up this Vedic culture. Throw away.” The leaders say openly that “Throw away your sastras in the water. No more sastra. Now you take to industry, technology, if you want to become happy just like the Americans, like the Europeans.” So the leaders, such leaders have been described in the Srimad-Bhagavatam, andha. Andha means blind. They do not know how to lead people, what is the aim of life.
- Srila Prabhupada, Srimad-Bhagavatam 3.26.26 – January 3, 1975, Bombay

Monday, January 9, 2017

Pure devotion from Azerbaijan - a true story!




Once upon a time, someone distributed a Bhagavad-Gita by Srila Prabhupada to this woman. She read it and the knowledge struck her so much that she accepted it with all her heart. She found the address of the ISKCON temple in the beginning of the book and came to meet devotees in a luxurious, large hat. A devotee met her and escorted her to a guest room where there were a few other people. The devotee begun telling something to the guests, but he was called out and left them to bring more guests, saying: “just a minute, please wait”. When he came back, the woman was preaching the Bhagavad-Gita to the gathered big time. She had lots of bookmarks in her Bhagavad-Gita, and she was saying: “see, Bhagavan Shri Krishna says…”. The devotee later said he was amazed, it was so interesting that he got engaged and continued listening. She was so sincere in her preaching. This is how she came to the devotees. With utmost bliss, she started coming to the programs at the temple, participated in kirtans and fell in love with the Deities. She felt like there was no point in living alone in her city, her kids were grown up, and had their own families. Now she acquired a new spiritual family.

One day she came to the temple and said that she wanted to sell her apartment and donate the money to the temple. “You can use the money in any way, just provide me with a room, I want to live here, serve, chant, and sing.” she said. The devotees held a discussion about it and finally agreed; they built a little extension to the temple. You can see it by the temple in Baku, right at the entrance, it has large windows. She moved in there and began growing Tulasi. She was so positive and gave love to all bhaktas. I never saw her criticizing anyone, and she never participated in the politics. She also treated the Deities and Krishna with great love. When I first came there, devotees were showing me around and told me about her as a local significance. At that time she had already been initiated by Rohinisutra Prabhu, and her name was Pada-Sevanam.

Devotees told me: here lives one grandma. There are different opinions about her around here. Some say she should be expelled from the temple for Sahajiya, others say she is a saint, but actually, we don’t know. What they meant by Sahajiya was that she was communicating with Krishna, as if she would do with you. She used to come to them sometimes and say: “Krishna told me”. That is how they introduced me to her in absentia. Next morning she came to me to associate and looked at me with a challenge, probing me, what my condition was. I was respectful to her in every way. Suddenly, she takes out an apple, gives it to me and says: “Gopal told me to pass it to you” I say: “thank you, please pass my thanks to Gopal” Gopal was a blue-colored doll, a little child Krishna. I don’t know where she got it from. She took care of Him, she had a cot for Him and toys. Devotees were saying she used to do strange things. Once she bought a radio controlled toy car, put her Krishna into it and started driving him around in the temple’s yard.

Devotees asked her: “Pada Sevanam, what are you doing?” She said: “He is little, it’s interesting for Him. Kids like to play with cars, look, he is so joyful!” I began watching her. Some sentiments were there, for sure, some imagination was also mixed in. But at the same time, she was an interesting type of devotee who had personal relationships with Krishna, she lived for Him. Perhaps, these impurities would go with the time, I thought. However, if people fall into pride, they take a position from above: “Krishna talks to me, I’ll tell you all how to live”. She never had this attitude. Those kind of relationships were very natural for her. She talks to Krishna, why can’t she talk to Him? She always chanted the holy names very seriously.. Whenever she had spare time she would sit down and chant very thoughtfully. She always read books of Srila Prabhupada with great interest, she was always engaged in service and participated in all devotees’ gatherings. Whenever someone would give a lecture, she would attentively and respectfully listen. Those are the signs of a true devotee.

Once I came to the Baku temple again and she came to me to associate and says: “I’d like to get your blessings.” What does she have in mind? I wondered. I watched a movie called “Pilgrimage to Ahovalam”, she said. Ahovalam is a famous temple of Lord Nrsimhadev. If any of you is a disciple of Indradyumna Swami from the 1990s, you would have probably heard a fascinating story how he went to the Ahovalam temple. The temple is situated deep in a jungle. Tigers live around there and one has to be really determined to get there. Indradyumna Maharaja was telling that there are signs that read “Beware of Tigers.” There is a temple of Hiranyakashipu and there are still pieces of the column which Nrsimhadev appeard from. There is also a cave and there is a self-manifested deity of Lord Nrsimhadev inside it.

The video shows Dhruva Maharaja prabhu entering an ancient temple, where the Deity is Vira Nrsimha. Vira means victor, conqueror. The deity is located in a cave at the top of the mountain. Once upon a time, a demonic king conceived a plot in this place. He decided to perform austerities and worship Brahma. When Brahma appears, he thought, I would steal the Vedas from Him and we would construct this civilization in our demonic way. When he actually stole the Vedas from Brahma’s mind, thanks to his demonic mystic powers, Brahma began praying to Nrsimhadev. Nrsimhadev personally appeared before him, tore the demon apart and returned the Vedas. Bhahma was very thankful to Lord Nrsimhadev. He performed a ritual of worship and prayed to Nrsimhadev: “Oh, Lord, please stay in your merciful form of Vira Nrsimha, so that we could always worship you and remember about your heroic deed.” The Lord was pleased with the prayer and appeared in a form of the deity.

The movie shows that Dhruva goes through water up to his chest in the cave, there are bats hanging above his head. He and his companions go further and are full of dread, it becomes dark and it’s unclear what is ahead. All of a sudden, they hear bells ringing and see the light of oil lamps at the end of the cave. There was a priest, who was conducting worship to the deity, and beside him sat an engaged couple, a bride and a groom. He said that this is a very ancient deity, but unfortunately, the worship ceased. Only once a week a priest comes to perform the worship ceremony, because there is jungle around the cave and to live in close proximity is almost impossible. When PadaSevanam heard that, her maternal feeling woke up: “Krishna, my Krishna is suffering!”.

She said that she asked Gopal: “what I should do, how can I help Nrsimhadev?” “Gopal told me that I should go there and serve Nrsimhadev”. Imagine a 74 year old grandma has such an idea! Do you think it sounds a little abnormal? That is what I thought. My eyes widened and I said: “Do you understand what India is? I’m not even talking about the mountain! I take groups there every year. I know what it is. “One can be robbed, there are all sorts of cheaters there, you don’t know the language, anything can happen!” “Besides, you don’t have the money for the tickets and who told you they would let you serve the Lord there?” “In Southern India they are really strict and don’t let women to serve deities, they consider this a violation of tradition, Srila Prabhupada saw devotees differently, not dividing men and women in this sense, that’s why he allowed women to worship on the altar. But there not every man is allowed, not even every Brahman.” She says: “ I know nothing, Gopal told me, I have to go! “My arguments didn’t work, so I tried a different approach and said: “Actually, in our Sampradaya, we worship Radha Krishna or Lord Chaytanya, who is Radha and Krishna as one person, so, if you want to go to India, go to Mayapur or Vrindavan and happily worship Krishna there.” “You don’t need to go to some mountain where there are no devotees, where it’s unclear how to make living, and besides you might not be allowed there.” This argument stumped her. She said:“ Alright, I’ll ask Gopal.” I thought to myself: Gopal, tell her! The next day she comes to me and says: “I asked Gopal and He said that I have to go Nrsimhadev anyway.” I thought to myself: “well, how is she going to go anyway, she doesn’t have the money.”

Two or three years later, I came to Azerbaijan again and devotees asked me: “do you remember Pada-Sevanam? She actually made it to the Nrsimhadev’s temple. Moreover, some say that people received her as a saint and worship to Nrsimhadev resumed”. That took me by surprise. She is a really unusual woman, I thought. Unfortunately, no one knew any more details about her, just this short information. About a half a year ago, before Pandava Ekadashi, a devotee, who was originally from Azerbaijan, wrote to me on skype. Ganeshwara Prabhu was asking if I remembered that grandma; Pada Sevanam. I replied: “yes, of course, I do”. It seems that the time has come, he wrote. Please ask devotees to pray for her. I replied: “sure, I will”, but then I began thinking how I should tell devotees about her. She had done did something extraordinary, what I needed to let them know about. I wrote back to him on skype asking if he knew the details of the story, which was going around about her reaching the Nrsimhadev’s temple and re-establishing the worship. “Yes, I know everything”, he replied. I helped her to get in there. Then he told me the whole story.

She was asking devotees around how to get to the temple of Nrsimhadev and someone suggested to asking Ganeshwara Prabhu. She contacted him with the help of devotees and asked to watch the movie and find out where the temple was. She said: “Gopal told me that I have to serve Nrsimhadev there.” He and his wife respected Pada Sevanam a lot. They thought, perhaps it’s really something extraordinary what Krishna is doing through them, through their service. They watched the movie, but it was unclear where the temple was. That day or shortly after, Ganeshwara went to have Deities darshan at Krishna Balaram mandir as usual and accidentally saw that devotee Dhruva Maharaja, who made the movie. He invited Dhruva to his house and she showed him the episode, asking “where is this temple?” Dhruva told him that one needs to fly to Hyderabad, then by taxi, for a few hours, go to a village called Vedagiri. There, lives the main priest. The mountain is located in five kilometers from the village. One needs to know the pathways in the jungle. The priest goes there only once a week. If one wants to have a darshan, they have to come on the eve of the day and go with him there. Ganeshwara did exactly that. He took two devotees and went to the village. They found the priest and went with him to the mountain. They saw the jungle, herds of wild monkeys, and snakes. In the cave they saw bats hanging above their heads, walked in the water up to a human chest, and finally got the darshan. They realized that it is unrealistic to live there and it is simply dangerous.

Ganeshwara went back to Vrindavan, then he called Pada Sevanam and said: “I went there. It’s impossible to live there, just stay with the devotees and live normal life. Krishna has a different plan”. “Gopal told me to go and I will, anyway. I bought tickets and I am arriving in two weeks. Please meet me.” What should I do? Ganeshwara thought. Imagine, taking 74 years old woman to the jungle and leaving her there. Imagine a man who gets snowed under with such a sudden mission. It’s like Lakshman would take Sita to the forest and leave. How can I leave a devotee of her age in the jungle where there is no water, no electricity, no food, absolutely nothing, only wild animals nearby? Alright, he planned: will bring her to Vrindavan. She would see the Deities of Radha and Krishna, sink in that nectar atmosphere and then we will make the right decision; that she should better stay in Vrindavan. Her heart will open and God’s plans will change. That was the plan.

He meets her at the airport. She comes with all her tens of deities, what devotees were bringing to her – several pairs of Radha Krishna, a number of Gopals, Govardhana Shilas, Shaligram Shilas, different pictures, etc. That all she brought with her in her suitcases. I met her and said: “a taxi is waiting. We will go to Vrindavan first and then decide what to do in a few days.” She got really tensed. “ I need to go to Nrsimhadev immediately, He is suffering because no one serves Him! How can I go to Vrindavan and enjoy myself there?” “But Pada Sevanam, you have never been to Vrindavan”, said Ganeshwara. “It’s only a few kilometers away, we need to go there. When would you go there otherwise?” She said: “If you don’t want to go there with me, just tell me where to go, I’ll get a ticket and go by myself!” Ganeshwara thought: I can’t leave her. Then, he buys tickets, they fly to Hyderabad, taxi brings them to Vedagiri, Ganeshwara takes her to the priest, hoping that he would open her eyes to see the reality. They go to the priest. He is around 70 years old himself, his son is 30.

Ganeshwara explains through his son (he translates) that this woman is from a different country, she is from Azerbaijan, and she got a revelation that your Nrsimhadev calls her and that she needs to come and serve Him here. She packed her things and came. When the priest hears that his eyes doubles in size. He says: “What Nrsimha? Do you understand what you are saying? Live here? We, adult men can’t live there. It’s dangerous there, there are no facilities – no water, no food, no electricity. You don’t know what you are talking about! I cannot provide protection for you, so as the main priest I can’t let you worship there!” Pada Sevanam becomes very serious, looks at the priest with a trying look and says: “If Krishna wants to kill someone, would you be able to protect that person, regardless of the place in this universe, even in your house? If Krishna wants to protect someone, who can kill that person?”She said that with such faith and determination that the priest just broke into tears and said: “I don’t know who this woman is, but I have no arguments to convince her in this case. Go ahead, live! I will try to give you maximum protection.” Now Ganeshwara is put in front of the fact that he has to carry all Pada-Sevanam’s luggage through the jungle. They left in the morning and carried the luggage to the mountain. Ganeshwara has the last hope that she would see everything herself and change her mind. They reached the top and Pada Sevanam, is lost in admiration. “Here is also a room for my deities!” (There was some little rickety building made of stones, with a time-skewed door, in front of the entrance to the temple). “I will install my deities here, set up a tent and begin living. “Excellent facilities! Everything is beautiful, go home, I will stay and worship Nrsimhadev”. Ganeshwara and the priest were totally shocked and speechless, but left her there. The priest was so amazed that he began telling everyone in the village about it, word about this grandma spread around instantly.

The next day swarms of people begun climbing to the mountain to see that woman, a saint from Azerbaijan. They brought whatever they could – water, some kind of clothes, etc. Men looked at the tent she was in and said: “we must protect her and build a hut for her.”.Women joined and began cleaning, bringing water, doing other things. All villagers received her as a saint and began worshiping. She didn’t have even a tiny amount of pride about herself and was easily accepting it. People paying obeisances as she blesses them, as if she has always been doing that. People were inviting her to bless weddings, new houses, and to bless a newborn or a dying person. All were running around her – the priests, the Brahmans, everyone.

When she was coming to Shiva’s temple, they would bring her the Pushpa and she would offer. She would do Abhisheka as the great Sadhu do. People fell in love with her for her simple and cordial love to Krishna. Although she didn’t know the local language, nor did she know English, she was preaching! She only knew “Bhagavan Shri Krishna”, in Sanskrit. She would preach half in Azerbaijanian, half in Russian, but people were able to understand because she was speaking from her heart. The news and the story were spreading and more people were coming to see her and have Nrsimhadev darshan. The priest had to start coming every day and open the temple. That’s how the worshipping of Nrsimhadev resumed on a daily basis. Finally, the news reached journalists of a newspaper of that region. They came and wrote an article about it, which blew the media. The article was being reprinted all around India. It was published in Azerbaijan and Turkey as well. People began coming from everywhere, just to see this woman and the Deity. Mayor of the state of Andra-pradesh read the article and was amazed: “This happens in my state? “ “We have to see that woman!” he told his wife.

They came with an escort and winking lights and climbed up the mountain to see Pada-Sevanam. Everything was happening around her, all people were doing something and she was in ecstasy worshiping the deities. Imagine, in the beginning, to get water she had to climb down several kilometers, take bath and bring drinking water. That’s how she lived before people started helping. When the Mayor saw that, he said: “we call ourselves devotees of Krishna, but who we are, actually? Look what is a condition of our temple and compare it to our houses! We made facilities for ourselves, but not for Krishna! We left Him here and worshiped Him once a week! This is all to begin with me”. This is how he addressed the people. “I take responsibility”, he said, “to collect enough money to make facilities, build a road, bring electricity, water, ensure access to the temple and dignify the temple in order to ensure proper worship of our Nrsimhadev.” He started a foundation and built a road to the mountain, parking with marble steps to the temple for tourist groups. They also built Hanuman temple and refined everything.

For Pada-Sevanam they built a brick house. When I heard about this all I was really impressed. The main point is – we don’t know anything about this woman, who is leaving now. I had to let devotees know right away. Perhaps, some of you received my message about this MataJi, it went to Facebook. I sent it on Ekadashi day and by the end of the day replies from devotees started coming. They were thanking me, gratifying Pada- Sevanam, some broke into tears. One said: :”my husband had a breakdown, he has not chanted the Holy Names for two years and after reading this article he cried and began chanting again.” In the morning, I woke up and saw Ganeshwara’s message on skype. He wrote that the main priest called him and said she left the body last night. The circumstances of her departure were remarkable though. He sent me some pictures. On that morning of Dvadashi first devotees came in and as always, they would first come to Pada-Sevanam for darshan, to get the blessings. Then they would go into the temple to see the Deities. Pada-Sevanam used a plastic chair, an Asana for Krishna. She would take Krishna from the altar, put Him on the chair and feed. When devotees came in, they saw her on her knees embracing Krishna’s feet. Under her arm, she was holding the Bhagavad-Gita. Devotees thought she was sleeping. The priest knocked on the table: “Mata?” She didn’t’t respond. He asked women to check up on her and help her up. They touched her and realized that she had left the body. Pada-Sevanam means “the one who worships the feet”. She left this world embracing Krishna’s feet and holding Bhagavad-Gita, which brought her to the perfection of her life. This is a remarkable example that we have.

There are two little additional stories about Pada-Sevanam. The main priest told one of them. Once upon a time, I closed the temple at night and began going down the mountain when I heard screaming and the sound of banging dishes. I thought: “maybe a monkey attacked.” The next morning I came up and everything was as usual, Pada-Sevanam was worshiping. I asked her: “What happened yesterday?” She said: “Nothing, it’s all good.” “I heard the banging of dishes and your scream.” “Oh, that’s just Nrsimhadev, he didn’t want to eat I was swearing.” The priest said to me: “I don’t understand what kind of woman she is.” She also said to him at some point that Nrsimhadev told her that she would incarnate in this place for 10 000 years and then He would take her to Goloka.

Ganeshwara told the other story, he asked her once: “At the beginning everything was somewhat rough, were there any dangers, perhaps wild animals, any problems? I just wanted to know how she lived. She said: “no, no problems overall, just a cobra bit me once in a leg. That’s it.” “Wow! That’s it?” “I just went to Nrsimhadev and said: “I want to serve you, but a cobra bit me. If you want to take me, so be it. But if you want me to serve you, tell me what to do. He told me to wash the wound with Charitamrita. I did and everything was fine.”

- From a lecture by A.C. Bhagavatamrita Keshava Swami. Barnaul, Russia December 18, 2016, Translated by Ramananda das (Roman Zilber), Edited by Radha-Vilasa (Ranetta Zilber), (Apologies for any mistakes and incorrect use of grammar).

Friday, January 6, 2017

True reformation is the reformation of our heart

Reformers’, galore, we find in history and today in the name of religion and politics. When I was in grade school, I remember a famous social reformer Raja Rammohan roy who was instrumental in abolishing sati rites. Then there was Aurobindo who later become a monist was also a social reformer in his heydays. In fact there was a wave of social reformers in the late 19th and early 20th century based primarily on advaita vedanta to emancipate the social conditions' of the "common man". Certainly, there is no paucity for such social reformers in history and today.

His Divine Grace Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Takur Prabhupada talks about how there is no need for such social reformation. He states;
The world stands in no need of any reformer. The world has a very competent person for guiding its minutest happenings. The person who determines that there is scope for reform of the world, himself stands in need of reform. The world goes on in its perfect way. No person can deflect it even the breadth of a hair from the course chalked out for it by providence. - Srila Prabhupada
What is needed is the reformation of one’s own mundane vision. This reformation of vision of our own self and the outside world, according to Srila Prabhupada, can happen only by the mercy of Lord Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Mundane reformation for a social cause or moral justice may seem appealing to the apologetic religionists’ and impassionate politician as it seemingly deals with social equity – fight for the right of the underdog. However, such social justice cause almost always is about satisfying an ulterior agenda of appealing to vox populi and not to establish dharma or eternal occupation of the eternal living being.

True reformation therefore, which Maharaj indicates, is changing our own vision to see the glory of Krishna nama and how through offenseless uttering of the same nama, one can realize that nobody is left without a competent guide.
As soon as Krishna enters the listening ear, He clears up the vision of the listener so that he no longer has any ambition of ever acting the part of a reformer of any other person, because he finds that nobody is left without the very highest guidance. - Srila Prabhupada
What is missing is our inner-vision of that highest guidance. By chanting Krishna nama, that vision which we were originally blind to becomes apparent and in that enlightened state we realize our eternal position in relation to Krishna.
By chanting without offenses you will personally realize that all perfections come from the holy name. Through chanting, the distinction that exists between the self, and the gross and subtle bodies, is gradually effaced and one realizes one’s own spiritual form. Once aware of the spiritual body, as one continues to chant, one sees the transcendental nature of the Lord’s form. - Srila Prabhupada
This revelation of the Lord's original form will once and for all relieve the soul from bondage of all sufferings' that is related to this body and mind and that which arises from the dualities of this world.

True reformation,indeed, is the reformation of our mundane heart!

Hare Krishna

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

diplomacy

I always wondered if by being diplomatic one borders duplicity. For some reason, right or wrong, I am not a big fan of diplomacy because of this reason of sounding or looking duplicitous. In America, political correctness is a prevalent idea. According to the dictionary, politically correct means to speak or act in such a way that no one (especially based on sex and/or race) be marginalized or offended. Diplomacy on the other hand, although overlapping in concept with political correctness deals with the art of interacting with people in a sensitive and effective way. To express an idea without so much offending the values of another. This certainly is an art and an art I am very much lacking. Anyways, this is not about me!

I always wondered how such a nuanced art of diplomacy or even political correctness relates to the art of devotional service especially when we outreach to other individuals. Sometimes, it is necessary to be blunt but certainly many times it is warranted to speak diplomatically without sounding disingenuous. For the untrained ear, this may seem as compromising of values because does it mean we are devaluing the position of bhakti in relation to social etiquette. Today as I was reading Chaitanya Charitamrta, I found this definitive statement in one of the purports.

"The conclusion is that diplomacy used for the service of the Lord is a form of devotional service" - SP purport to CC Madhya 12.44.

Srila Ramananda Raya was speaking diplomatically by praising King Prataparudra in order to soften the mind of Lord Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Mahaprabhu being a sanyasi did not want to meet a pounds and shillings person in the form of the king. Yet, Ramananda Raya very astutely glorified the qualities of the king just so Mahaprabhu will one day meet the king. This diplomacy to help another soul approach God is a direct form of devotional service. Similarly, if we also speak, according to the culture we are in, in a way that softens the heart of the listener so they are inclined favorably about bhakti to Krishna, then from this verse, we can understand such diplomacy or political correctness is nothing but devotional service. Certainly, this requires training and practice, nevertheless it is heartening to know that any form of art be it fine-arts or the art of communication, if it can be somehow engaged to get closer to Krishna, is another form devotional service (and not necessarily duplicity as I used to once think).

Hare Krishna