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

Monday, December 25, 2017

Today's reality - an illustration

Got this in my inbox, interesting!

Hare Krishna

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Bhagavatam describes the universe in more detail

Bernard Haisch is an astrophysicist and author of over 130 scientific publications. Based on his life long study of the universe, below are his inferences;
  • Special properties of our universe point to an underlying intelligence.
  • God is defined as consciousness and that parts of that consciousness are embedded in us.
  • Our reality and the laws of physics is like a vast simulation within God consciousness.
  • The universe is like a virtual reality developed and advanced over millions of years.
  • Fine tuning of the laws of nature strongly meant to the idea that our universe was meant to be lived in and that near-death experiences allude to a spiritual reality. All of this he says points to God's existence.
Interestingly, all of the above points can be found and agreed upon with much more detail in the Srimad Bhagavatam. We do not have to spend our adult life studying mundane books like Bernard and come to the rudimentary conclusions of the Bhagavatam. Instead, under the guidance of a pure soul, if we simply take to the study of Bhagavatam, we can come to the same conclusions as Bernard and better yet get a more deeper insight into the workings of our universe. Unfortunately, Bhagavatam is dubbed as a religious text and hence not given the due respect the book deserves. 

Hare Krishna

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Successful. meaningful and happy life

Tim Ferriss is a tech investor and advisor in Uber, Facebook, Twitter and other leading companies. Based on his interactions with more than 100 leading investors and life experts, he shared their collective inputs (about 80% to 90% of them)  regarding success, happiness and meaning. Few of the points below;

  • Everyone successful does some type of mindfulness or meditation for 10 to 20 minutes daily in the morning before they turn their phones on in the morning helping them set their mental and emotional states for the day.
  • Another point is journaling - to write down a question or answer that arouse within you (the subconscious you) during the day (a type of deep introspection)
  • Another point is to try something new (new behavior) but only for a finite amount of time like two-to-four weeks. Brief changes in behavior reduces the pressure of fear of change.
  • Successful people choose projects to cultivate skills and relationships even if a project fails and not for the attachment of the outcome or result. 
Let me rephrase the above points from a Bhagavad Gita perspective
  • Shravanam and Kirtanam/Japa - hearing and chanting spiritual topics is a type mindfulness and meditation at its best as it is about Krishna. Srila Prabhupada gave us this method right from mangala arati (early morning).
  • Introspection is a standard process for spiritual seekers. It is a type of learning of the self (swadhyaya). With the aid of scriptures, when we introspect our own motives, we transform. 
  • In Bhagavad Gita, the core value presented is to change our behavior from material to spiritual. In other words living a life of false ego to less of an ego to no false ego. Therefore, seeking change in behavior is the central principle and not just time based value.
  • The fourth point by Time Ferris referenced above is simply karma yoga. Krishna stresses this point many times over in the Bhagavad Gita that we should work not for the results of our action but for a higher cause - dedicating our work/results to Krishna.
Based on his interactions with leading life experts and investors who deal with high-stakes game, Time Ferris invariably points us towards spiritual values to have a successful, meaningful and happy life. Bhagavad Gita teaches us the highest values in spiritual topics. 

Therefore, if we simply follow the program given by Srila Prabhupada as given in the Bhagavad Gita, we can also live a successful, meaningful and happy life.

Hare Krishna

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

ten years...

Ten years can seem a long time. Certainly many things have changed in the past ten years. I know the first iPhone was released ten years ago and how that has revolutionized the lives of people. Another big change was the housing market crash which I remember was also changing people's lives. America elected the first black president and he heralded something new into the political and social system. In the past ten years, my own personal life has changed a lot. Certainly ten years can seem long and when we look back we can appreciate our losses and thank our successes.

From the perspective of time itself, ten years is negligible. One of the five things that is talked about in the Gita is Time. Time, Krishna says "I am". Krishna manifests as time factor, how He does it is mysterious. Physicists are trying hard to quantify time but are unsuccessful. Time is elusive and difficult to understand. One thing physicists agree is that time is like an arrow that has already left the bow. It is speeding only in one direction. However, according to physicists',through time-warp we can travel back in time. Of course this is only in theory so far. My point is time is the grandest and mysterious thing of all and is executing our lives as we speak.

Last ten years has been a pleasure for me writing this blog. It was ten years ago to this day I began this blog. Writing my mental ramblings in some ways has been therapeutic for me and also a way to express my thoughts and views related to Krishna and life in general. I hope this can continue by the blessings of devotees and Krishna. Regardless, I thank Krishna for giving me the inspiration to write and the readers whoever you are for taking time to read and sharing your comments.

Thank you very much!
Hare Krishna

Friday, November 17, 2017

Krishna is great because He is a perfect gentleman!

We all know and come to learn that this world and life is temporary. We may live at the most for hundred or so years. From a cosmic time scale, hundred years is practically negligible. Our gains and losses, pains and pleasures - all of it is practically negligible. We may glorify our accomplishments and feel sorry for our losses but great saintly people view life as a great leveler. In that sense, we are always advised to tolerate, as there will be good days as much as bad. Despite the utter insignificance of our human existence, still believe it or not, Krishna who is the all-knowing Being facilitates and sanctions our desires in this world.

A desire to see the sunset or speak to a girl or buy a toy or get a particular type of job or mow the lawn or express anger and hate or travel the world or buy a house or an ant collecting food or a bird building a nest or a plant blooming a flower or an amoeba trying to reproduce or Indra enjoying with celestial woman or myriad other desires which from the cosmic sense is utter meaninglessness. An atheist who denies the existence of God is also given all facilities to deny God. Krishna is so kind He also satisfies those who are utterly against Him. Krishna gives the atheists’ His own resources and the intelligence to voice their opinions against Him. Even though we exist amongst billions of species and our life span is practically negligible, still Krishna takes care of every single minute detail of our life of every single living being!

This shows His magnanimity and this shows to me His true greatness. He is a perfect gentleman who is truly liberal and who loves and cares for all the desires (even though insignificant) of all living beings of all times who are for or against Him!

Thank you Krishna!

Hare Krishna

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Hearing Krishna katha leads to trance

When we first hear, we gradually start to accept the message. As we hear more, we not only accept but start liking the message. In other words, we become attached to the message. If we continue our hearing, our attachment will lead to chanting/recitation and eventually to remembering.

This remembrance,however, is periodical at this point. So we continue our hearing. As we hear more, our remembrance leads to recollection of the memory. As we recollect more, we become more absorbed in memory of our recollection. This absorption further intensifies our remembering. As our absorption increases, that remembrance which was periodical starts to become frequent and constant. As constant remembrance (meditation) increases, one enters into spiritual samadhi or trance (constant meditation). (paraphrased from Nectar of Instruction, Text 8 purport)

Basically it goes like this in that order
  1. Hearing
  2. Acceptance
  3. Attachment
  4. Chanting or Recitation
  5. Remembrance
  6. Recollection
  7. Absorption
  8. Meditation (constant remembrance)
  9. Spiritual trance (constant meditation)
Hare Krishna

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Why should we hear Krishna Katha?

Our very existence is in an atmosphere of non-existence. Why, especially when we are not supposed to be threatened by non-existence? To simply put, we should always exist, we are eternal beings.

Our spiral to non-existence begins by 'misusing' our minute free-will by using it independently of Krishna or God. This is what Bhagavad Gita says. This misuse of free-will is termed as kama or desires free of Krishna. Independent desires entangle and bind us in the three gunas (or ropes of nature). These ropes of nature create cyclical reality thus perpetually binding us.

How to get rid of this perpetual cycle of bondage?

The solution is to connect back to Krishna by always remembering Him and never forgetting Him. This is possible only through constant hearing about Krishna. By constant hearing we can successfully accomplish the following;
  1. Hearing cultivates knowledge, leads to vairagya (free from passion/ignorance) and fixes one in devotional service (BG 6.35 and 7.1 purport)
  2. Hearing attracts Krishna within one’s heart (Sri Isopanishad, mantra 13 purport)
  3. Hearing leads to Spiritual trance. (Nectar of Instruction, text 8 purport)
  4. Hearing cultivates love of God (CC Adi 7.141 purport, SB 4.12.42 purport)
The beginning of cutting the bondage begins by cultivation of knowledge through hearing. If we do enough hearing, it will eventually transpire into practice. As we practice gradually the ropes of guna associated with passion and ignorance loosens and we reach the rope of guna associated with goodness. 

Once there, Krishna shows His mercy and guides us from within. As the hearing intensifies, Krishna reveals more and as a result our remembrance and meditation becomes constant without break. This leads to a state of trance or bhava eventually invoking our love for Krishna. 

This final point of love will seal our case in the sense any remaining taste to misuse our free-will not be there and we will voluntarily use our free-will properly. In other words, our first problem of misuse is overridden by proper use. That proper use of free-will happens in an atmosphere of love and service. All of this begins with hearing!

Hare Krishna

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

how to handle feelings of hurt?

Everyone of us at some point in our lives would have been hurt by the words and the actions of others. The closer the individual is the painful we feel the hurt. The pain if not processed properly can offshoot to other emotions like anxiety, fear, guilt,anger, revenge, sadness, depression etc. Therefore it is important to process emotions and flush them out properly. Otherwise, it remains in the system and creates toxins in the form of hormones and thoughts.

In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna advised Arjuna to 'tolerate' the dualities of life. Lord Chaitanya says that false-prestige does not allow the seed of love of God to fructify in our hearts. Our scriptures also focus on virakti or detachment as a key ingredient to life. In plain sight for the un-initiated, tolerance, lack of false-prestige and detachment etc can come off as cold encouraging to reject our natural feelings such as hurt or pain. Because pain from other's words or actions can arise due to less tolerance and more attachment. The more prestige or ego we possess, the more we will feel pain. So it seems hurt and pain are in conflict with values prescribed in the scriptures. In one sense it is true. However, it is more important to deal with our emotions honestly than lofty spiritual values.

When Abhimanyu was murdered illicitly, Arjuna lamented tremendously and Krishna consoled him with soft words. When Subhadra and Draupadi heard of Abhimanyu's death, the queens cried pitifully and Krishna was standing there consoling them with soft words to take heart that Abhimanyu had attained a higher destination. Similarly, when Mother Sita was abducted by the evil Ravana, Lord Ramachandra cried in separation from His beloved wife. Lord Chaitanya's mother cried pitifully when she heard that her son is about to take sanyas. Like this we hear many stories where the Supreme Being Himself reacts to the miseries of this world as if He was an ordinary human.

It is interesting that in all the examples cited, emotions were not checked or controlled but rather expressed. This is the first step. When we are hurt or sad, we should grieve or express our emotions so we can process it. Keeping it inside (unless we are mature) will only cause more pain.

The second step is to react to the pain using knowledge. Krishna responds to the death of Abhimanyu by saying that great warriors who die in battle are glorious and reach a higher destination. Lakshman also pacifies Ramachandra by giving Him assurance of victory over Ravana. Mahaprabhu also assures His mother by giving her sound reasons for sanyas. So knowledge is necessary to deal with the situation. We have to step-back from our emotional state and look at the situation with a less emotional state. This will give clarity and aid more with the processing of pain.

The third step is affirmative action. Krishna requests Arjuna to take rest so next day they can plan in a strategic way to fulfill the vow. Ram and Lakshman made alliance with Sugriva for fulfilling their vow of getting back Sita. Mahaprabhu also decided to settle in Puri to assuage Mother Sachi's pain. Affirmative action actually helps us get past the pain in our heart. In other words, we use our intelligence and knowledge and make necessary 'next step' arrangements to deal with the crisis in a diligent manner.

All these three steps are necessary to deal with difficulties or pain in our life.

  1. Expressing and processing our emotions
  2. Step-back and seek intelligent counsel using knowledge (sadhu/shastra)
  3. Affirmative action following intelligent counsel
As part of seeking counsel and knowledge (step 2), we have to see through the lens of tolerance,false prestige and attachment etc. In other words, our step 2 of intellectual processing happens through the counsel of advanced souls and/or scriptures. Our actions next (step 3) will therefore also be as a result of this counsel and can help us heal our pain and aid us to get back on track.

One can imagine how valuable spiritual culture and values are that even difficult times can help us attain a higher state. Today, unfortunately, we live in a materialistic culture and the result is suppressed emotions of fear of being judged and more chemical dependency. 

Chant Hare Krishna!

Hare Krishna

Monday, November 13, 2017

Who is a pure devotee?

ānukūlyena kṛṣṇānu-
śīlanaṁ bhaktir uttamā

When first-class devotional service develops, one must be devoid of all material desires, knowledge obtained by monistic philosophy, and fruitive action. The devotee must constantly serve Kṛṣṇa favorably, as Kṛṣṇa desires - CC Madhya Lila 19.167

The basic criterion to fulfill the above verse is that a devotee must know what Krishna wants Him to do. Krishna's desires can be boiled down to three core points (vide Srila Prabhupada purport);
  1. One must take shelter of a spiritual master who comes in the disciplic succession from Kṛṣṇa - ādau gurv-āśrayam
  2. The first business of the serious and sincere disciple is to satisfy his spiritual master. The spiritual master's only business is to spread Kṛṣṇa consciousness.-yasya prasādād bhagavat-prasādaḥ.
  3. The serious devotee will only be interested in satisfying Krishna. Krishna wants everyone to be His devotee and not the devotee of a demigod - Man-manā bhava mad-bhakto mad-yājī māṁ namaskuru
These are the desires of the Supreme Lord, and one who fulfills His desires favorably is actually a pure devotee.

Hare Krishna

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Progressive steps towards the Absolute Truth

We live in a world of duality – good and bad. We do good and bad. Law of karma dictates that we get good if we do good and bad if we do bad. In the scriptures, in the karma kanda portion of it, there are atonement practices. Atonement is a fruitive practice countering another fruitive behavior. We atone for bad things we have done in the past so as to nullify our sinful reactions. 

In Canto 6 chapter 1, King Parikshit inquires about such atonement. His conclusion was that one fruitive act even though countering another act cannot provide relief because the person will again commit a bad act. In other words, externally countering the effects of a sin will not actually prevent future suffering. He says such atonement is futile and is like an elephant bath where the elephant after a bath comes out showers dust over himself.

Sukadev Goswami very expertly answers the futility of superficial atonement. He replies in a sequential order.
  1. A person who is bound by the actions within the three modes is acting due to lack of knowledge (ignorance). So the beginning is to engage in the culture of knowledge.
  2. Then he says that knowledge is not theoretical. It should culminate in practical work (niyamakrt).
  3. Then he qualifies the niyama by saying one should engage in tapasya (voluntarily giving up sense enjoyment). Other factors of tapasya are (1) celibacy (2) mind/sense control (3) sacrifice (4) truthfulness (5) clean/non-violent (6) follow rules and regulations like chanting etc. By doing such activities a person who is bound by the actions of the three-modes gets relief. However, even now just as dried leaves get burnt still the plant grows in the first opportunity.

So what is the method to uproot the plant of material desires even after tapasya?

Sukadev Goswami continues. He says;
  1. Rare people adopt complete and unalloyed devotional service to Vasudeva Krishna (Vasudeva Parayana). Doing so all the fog of sinful desires in the heart will dissipate like the rising sun dissipating fog.
  2. He qualifies this more by saying that actually more than serving Krishna, serving the pure representative (Krishnarpita prana tat-purusha) of Krishna will completely purify the soul and he also states clearly that mere austerity, penance, brahmacharya etc will not completely purify the soul.

We can see from Sage Sukadeva that there is a hierarchy of activities; it reads like this;
  1. To counter previous sins/suffering, atonement is recommended.
  2. That is not enough since we have desires for fruitive acts impelled by the three gunas. So to get out of the clutches of the three gunas, one must become enlightened in spiritual knowledge and consequently engage in tapasya (penance) as a result of the knowledge.
  3. Still there is a chance we can go back to materialism. Therefore we should become devotees of Krishna and engage in Krishna bhakti.
  4. Still, we may dabble with materialism, therefore to be completely free from any tinge of materialism, we should surrender to the spiritual master and dedicate our life to Krishna following in the footsteps of these great souls (mahajans).

These steps are progressive stages to realization of the Absolute Truth.

Hare Krishna

Thursday, October 12, 2017

The road to bhakti

The road from karma to bhakti
  1. Work with a desire to achieve the result but attached to the work and result to please one's self. - karma
  2. Work with a desire to achieve the result but attached to the work but not to the result. - nishkama karma
  3. Work with a desire to achieve the result but attached to the work and use the result for Krishna.- karma yoga
  4. Work with a desire to achieve the result. Not attached to the work and result but attached only to please Krishna.- bhakti yoga
Hare Krishna

Thursday, October 5, 2017

This world is like a classroom...

In this world, we have to rub shoulders daily with people devoid of devotion to God. This is normal. So instead of criticizing their lack of devotion, we can learn from them. Now you may ask what can we possibly learn from them? After all, they are devoid of good character. Actually, that is not true. In the pursuit of their selfish goals, materialistic people have a passion and drive. They work hard and practice principles of cooperation to achieve their goals. They set targets, create plans, allocate resources and have implementation strategies. All of this requires discipline. We do not have to be like them but we can learn from them – this art of discipline. There is a general criticism that spiritual life means – to give up material life. Therefore, in fear, generally speaking, people shy away from spiritual life at least in the younger phases of their life. They wait until they retire to take to spiritual life. However, this notion of giving up material life is incorrect.

Arjuna was young and strong and was ready to fight a war. It takes mental and physical strength and discipline to wage a war for eighteen days straight. Imagine fighting from sunrise to sunset (some days they fought into the wee hours of the night) continuously for eighteen days straight with heavy armor. Arjuna was a maharathi, which means he engaged in battle with many people simultaneously. If Arjuna had a slight lapse in concentration, certainly he would die. That was the condition for eighteen days. Therefore, the only way he could fight successfully was if he had the strength and discipline to fight an arduous battle. Yet he was the greatest Vaishnav there is. He is famed and glorified as the friend of the Lotus Eyed One Pundarikaksha for all of eternity in all of the universes combined. We can only conclude that Arjuna possessed the extraordinary power to excel above his peers and had the discipline to become an expert in his art of warfare. In the Mahabharat, we learn that Arjuna was the best student in the Dronacharya school of Martial Arts. Whatever lesson he learnt during the day from his teacher, he practiced it to perfection at night and the next day displayed his perfection. None of the other brothers’ excelled as him.

Non-devotees in the pursuit to exploit have a similar eagle eye for perfection and pursuit of ruthlessness. Certainly, we can learn this art from them. However, we do so with compassion and tolerance – always careful not to step on others and hurt others. We practice a higher road to the top and not use the under-hand ways normally materialistic people do. Arjuna after all the humiliation to Draupadi and his mother and brothers decided to not fight the war. Despite being humiliated multiple times, he was willing to relinquish it for a higher cause of compassion. This was his inner mood. Similarly, as practicing devotees we also learn from our spiritual masters and scriptures to practice detachment internally and practice compassion/tolerance externally. This will help to take failure in our stride and not let success to our head.

We will remain in this world but not of this world. “In this world” part we learn from non-devotees, “not of this world” part we learn from saintly people.

Indeed, this world is like a classroom, life is our teacher, and I the student.

Hare Krishna

Friday, September 15, 2017

chappan bhog offering

On account of our deities 10 year anniversary, I requested for a chappan bhog offering. Below is one picture we took.

Hare Krishna

one of the most difficult things to do in Krishna consciousness

What does it mean to "depend" on Krishna or take "shelter" of Krishna? It means that we cannot control the result. We may have an aspiration or result in mind but taking shelter in essence means we have to leave the results up to Krishna. This is the most difficult thing in taking shelter, in my opinion. To allow Krishna control the result while we use our intelligence to work practically.

Arjuna was asked to shoot arrows and kill but it was Krishna who determined the ultimate result. If we can have patience and calmness of mind to simply work leaving the result to Krishna (result may be for or against our aspirations), then we will never fall away from the path of service to Krishna. I think this is one of the most difficult things to do in Krishna Consciousness - to leave the result to Krishna while I work diligently!

Hare Krishna

Monday, August 28, 2017

Guru, sadhu, shastra tattva

In Krishna Consciousness or bkakti yoga or vedic understanding of the metaphysics, the three checkpoints used to ascertain truth is guru, sadhu and shastra. Although all three have to coincide still we need a reference point to begin with and that is the scriptures or shastra. In other words, the sadhu and guru must agree with the shastra or scriptures. Why? Because shastra is considered 'apaurusheya' or in other words not tainted by mundane dualities of time and space. It does not change as we change. Also, just as Narayana existed before creation, shastra existed before creation as well. Before creation there was no time so the vedic scriptures existed before time (outside imperfections). So once we come within time, even pure devotees need to align with shastra. That is the method or the way to ascertain tattva or truth.

Another aspect of shastra is that although we may study scriptures over time in piece-meal still the conclusions must be accepted in whole. It is like stitching a quilt with different colored patches. The quilt is one big blanket but stitched over time with different patterns. Similarly, there may be differences in different scriptures presented to different people and if we just look at the details in difference ignoring the whole, then we see a quilt for its patches or patterns and not as a whole fabric as a blanket. Therefore the conclusions from the scriptures must be holistically derived. Any contradictions we may encounter has to be understood as a detail.

For example, in some scriptures, Siva or Durga are glorified as Supreme. This is a detail that needs to be addressed and visited. But the overall conclusion is that Vishnu is Para or beyond materialism but Siva and Durga are Supreme within the creation (but not outside of it). Therefore the overall conclusion is Vishnu is the Supreme.  This is the quilt as a blanket vision. Another example is always remember Vishnu and never forget Him and do whatever is favorable in regards to that. This is the blanket vision. So other details such as guru tattva, sadhana bhakti, qualities of a disciple such as humility, tolerance etc should serve the blanket truth to always be connected to Vishnu. But if separate them, then we will give importance to guru's instructions more than God's instructions and elevate guru to God in a subtle manner. We will practice sadhana bhakti sentimentally (can lead to dogmatism) and humility as self-righteousness. So like this when we separate the singular individual truths from the blanket truths, we will eventually deviate and fall.

Therefore, we have to understand shastra as center and guru and sadhu are subservient to shastric conclusions and that we have to accept vedanta (conclusions) holistically and not piece-meal.

The actual center is the śāstra, the revealed scripture. If a spiritual master does not speak according to the revealed scripture, he is not to be accepted. Similarly, if a saintly person does not speak according to the śāstra, he is not a saintly person. The śāstra is the center for all.
- Purport by Srila Prabhupada CC Madhya 20.352

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Strict adherence does not entail shunning of the non-strict

Someone asked me about my thoughts on Neem Karoli baba. I heard about the Baba and how few of his followers have made him famous such as Krishna das and Baba Ram das. I also heard some of the other-worldly things he had done and how he was loving towards his followers etc. I think he is also a follower of Lord Hanuman. Since I have not met the Baba or read any of his books and know him only through hearsay, honestly, I cannot speak much about him. In India, there are so many babas and gurus even inside the line of vaishnaivism, so many that we can get lost and confused.

The general trends as far as I can tell is like this – those who believe God is a personal Being with form and attributes are most likely connected to some sampradaya in an official sense. They would have studied the scriptures in an academic manner and intellectually first approach God. Those who are not connected to a sampradaya but due to practice of yoga or some previous karmic spiritual realizations/yogic siddhis start their own ashram. Such self-proclaimed babas or gurus most likely live an ascetic life but their understanding of spiritual will lean towards an impersonal reality. This is the general trend as far as I can tell. Of course, there are other out-right cheaters who are not even ascetics (we can ignore them).

Srila Prabhupada, from the standpoint of suddha bhakti, was strict and even sounded sectarian against non-suddha bhakti. This is because he wanted to clearly demarcate the path to Vaikunta and this path is certainly methodical and not just sentimental. Therefore, from that perspective of pure devotion, we have to but shun other paths. Srila Prabhupada's definition of bonafide guru is from the perspective of pure devotion to Govinda.

There is another way to look at this too. Not everyone will be interested in pure devotion to Govinda. If that is the case, they will be more sentimental towards God than methodical. Such people will be attracted to any guru or baba who has esoteric qualities. We should not criticize the devotees who are seeking a lower-form of spiritual shelter. This is because at the minimum, even if impersonally inclined, these spiritual aspirants are taught to give up a gross materialistic way of life such as meat eating, sex, intoxication etc. So from the perspective of elevation from gross-materialism (approaching satva guna), I think those who are not interested in pure devotion still are making progress towards Krishna albeit slowly. Perhaps in a future state, they will see the fallacy of impersonalism and take to personalism.

Srila Prabhupada dealt in a practical sense like a gentleman towards all types of people. For example, he was friends of Dr.Misra who was an outspoken mayavadi. He even took services from him. He even personally served Dr.Misra, healing him back to health when he was sick. Srila Prabhupada also used Dr.Misra’s facilities as a way to spread Bhakti yoga. Srila Prabhupada was grateful to Allen Ginsberg and had nice things to say about him. Allen was openly gay and spoke in favor of it. Srila Prabhupada also knew about it, yet he was compassionate and kind. There is also documentation of how Srila Prabhupada was friendly with Yogi Bhajan and despite the difference in philosophy, Srila Prabhupada seeked Yogi’s help as a Kshatriya. Srila Prabhupada was also a close friend of Mr.Hanuman Prasad Poddar and seeked his help to publish his initial Srimad Bhagavatam Cantos. I do not think Mr.Hanuman Prasad Poddar was a seeker of pure devotion as chalked out by Prabhupada in his books. Like this, we can see how Srila Prabhupada had friendly relationships with everyone on a one-to-one basis (private) but as a teacher and guru he was vocal about mayavadism in this books and lectures (public).

As followers of Srila Prabhupada’s teachings, we also have to respect all people from all backgrounds but for our own self (privately speaking), we strictly adhere to the principles set by the Guru and Parampara and we do not internally associate (although may be externally sometimes) with mayavadism or other non-suddha bhakti path.

Hare Krishna

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Essence of essence is humility

Gaudiya Vaishnavism is a branch from the Brahma-Madhwa parampara. The uniqueness of this branch is that it imbibes the mood of Radha and sweetness of Krishna. No other sampradaya focuses on these two qualities much. Sripad Madhavendra Puri is the initiator of this mood and Lord Chaitanya accepted Madhvendra Puri as His Param Guru. Then Mahaprabhu planted this seed all over India and Srila Prabhupada all over the world.

The recommended method to achieve the mood of Radha as given by Mahaprabhu is Nama-sankirtanam. Therefore, (1) Externally speaking, the essence is chanting (2) Internally speaking, the essence is love in separation of God in the mood of Radha. the essence for both is humility. Therefore the essence of the essence is humility!

Therefore, Srila Krishna das Kaviraj Goswami said “One who thinks himself lower than the grass, who is more tolerant than a tree, and who does not expect personal honor yet is always prepared to give all respect to others can very easily always chant the holy name of the Lord. Raising my hands, I declare, Everyone please hear me! String this verse on the thread of the holy name and wear it on your neck for continuous remembrance.One must strictly follow the principles given by Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu in this verse. If one simply follows in the footsteps of Lord Caitanya and the Gosvāmīs, certainly he will achieve the ultimate goal of life, the lotus feet of Śrī Kṛṣṇa.”  – CC Adi 17.31-33

As per my understanding. humility is as follows;
  1. to be sincere, serious and no other ulterior motive but to follow the instructions of the spiritual master
  2. to do one's best in fulfilling the mission of the spiritual master
  3. to try one's best to depend on Krishna in all circumstances and pray to Him always
  4. to internally cultivate a mood of service to all living beings and mood of love for Krishna
Hare Krishna

Friday, August 18, 2017

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Spiritual planning is a key to success

"One should know that the goal is Kṛṣṇa, and when the goal is assigned, then the path is slowly but progressively traversed, and the ultimate goal is achieved." - BG 10.10 Purport by Srila Prabhupada

The quote above by Srila Prabhupada is interesting I thought. Clearly, to me when reading this statement, it seems that we have to plan our spiritual life much like we plan anything in life from educational priorities to job to retirement.

Proper spiritual planning is important in healthy growth of devotional creeper within our heart. Planning involves a healthy balance hence it is slow and progressive. The pace of our spiritual life depends on our nature, desires,circumstances and ability. Sometimes, speaking for myself, I have desire and ignore other factors such as circumstances, my nature and hence put others around me in stress and myself in stress. I say stress because sometimes there can be incompatibility with others and my own material nature. So it is important to know how to pace our self in spiritual life or Krishna consciousness.

Regulation and balance therefore is part of planning and is key to our success. We have to practice our spiritual practice daily in particular times (regulated) and balance our time for material and spiritual activities. To artificially give up sense gratification can back fire. Perhaps few advanced souls can successfully do it without relapse but (again speaking for myself) I need time to do it slowly.

Therefore, in ISKCON we have so many projects, activities, festivals, worships and as a practitioner of bhakti and adherents to ISKCON, we may be obliged to do everything perhaps sometimes due to peer pressure. Once in a while perhaps it is ok, but certainly stretching our self always is not good for our long term Krishna consciousness. So as Prabhupada is saying slowly but progressively this path of bhakti towards Krishna needs to be traversed and for that we have to plan our spiritual life nicely just as we would do with our material priorities.

Hare Krishna.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

In Jesus we believe...

In Jesus, we see a lot of Vaishnava teachings as given by Krishna and great acharyas. Below are some of the sayings that I know from Jesus that align with the teachings of Srimad Bhagavatam.

  • Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind. Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments
  • Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name
  • Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.
  • So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.
  • Be in the world, but not of the world
  • No one can serve two masters (referring to God and materialism)
  • So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.
  • Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God
  • Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and rust destroy.
  • Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
  • Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?
  • Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.
  • Therefore, everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.

All glories to Jesus Christ!
All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

Hare Krishna

Friday, August 4, 2017

Truly speaking...

When we first come to the path of Krishna Consciousness, Krishna, devotees, chanting, Kirtan, Prasadam, etc attracts our minds. We think "this is pure and fresh, I want to do this". We start our journey in earnest. Then as days go by, our enthusiasm starts to wane or plateau. Now, no more the same Krishna, devotees or chanting gives us the feeling it once did. Then the mind starts to wander during japa. The mind starts to see holes in others' services. The mind justifies judgement and self-righteousness etc etc. Certainly familiarity will start to breed contempt. Then, in just a matter of time the soul will wash back to the shores of maya by criticizing everything Krishna consciousness or at least the institutions' promoting it.

When we experience a lull, we have to understand that it is because of our desire for material enjoyment (in its myriad forms'). We also have to understand that our initial attraction to Krishna was actually not so pure after all but tainted with our enjoying tendencies. Therefore it is  our job to clean our enjoying tendency. To let this tendency go unnoticed means we truly are not interested in Krishna but just in ourselves but in a different way (so called spiritualism).

Always, we have to be simple, honest and keep focus the purpose of spiritual life - that is - to love God without selfishness. As long as this selfishness is there we cannot truly appreciate the Bhagavat.

 Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura mentions that...one must not desire material profit when rendering devotional service. Even if one follows all the sixty-four regulative principles, he cannot attain pure devotional service with a contaminated heart. - Purport by Srila Prabhupada CC Madhya 19.175

Hare Krishna

Monday, July 24, 2017


I like this description, Such clarity!

In his Sat Sandarba, Srila Jiva Goswami defines adhokshaja like this: The Godhead,Krishna,is He who has reserved the absolute right not to expose Himself to mundane human senses. Adhokshaja refers to that which cannot be measured by one's material senses. When that transcendental knowledge reveals itself to our service-inclined senses, only then will we realize it; otherwise, even the best students in the world cannot even partially know the science of Krishna. That science cannot be learned through sadhana, by the best forms of intelligence, or the best powers of deliberation.

Despite this, many people rush to discuss it with an enjoying spirit, considering it a mundane philosophy or text. The Absolute Truth is never revealed to such people. We cannot measure objects of the fourth or fifth dimension with our present material sense devises. Being unable to do so, we often heave a sigh of relief with phrases like "To the infinity." Vaikuntha, or the transcendental object, is of the fourth dimension. Because we are unable to perceive Him, we want to turn Him into something "impersonal." But the transcendental Absolute Truth is never impersonal.

- by His Divine Grace Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Takur Prabhupada, Sarasvati Samlapa, page 77

Hare Krishna

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Hear Krishna! Chant Krishna! See Krishna! Serve Krishna!

Letters combine to form words. Words combine to form sentences. Combination of sentences express an idea. It is like music. Music is actually made up of fundamental notes (basic notes), combined we get myriad musical notes which invoke in us the emotion of happiness, sadness, anger, patriotism, love etc. The same is true when a speaker has a knack to combine words and sentences in such a way to invoke a certain emotion within our hearts.

Adolf Hitler had such sinister motives that merely through his speeches; he could sway his troops to follow his ideology. To this day, in America, if a layman utters the phrase “I have a dream…” immediately people will recall the famed speech delivered by Martin Luther King Jr. This is almost ubiquitous. His speech stirred the emotions of people so much that to this day, people remember him with those four initial words. When Neil Armstrong put his first step on the moon, his famous line “That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” is a memory etched in the follower of modern science. “Ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country” rocketed Kennedy to the White House. Words and combination of it, history has shown, can invoke such action that it can change a person or community or nation for the good or for the bad. Hence, the scriptures stress the importance of hearing followed by chanting.

When spiritual sound is combined in an artistic way to express an idea that will lead us to act spiritually, then such sound is powerful. Self-realized souls who are constantly in touch with the supersoul have the ability to speak and inspire just about anyone. It is important to hear from them. Srila Prabhupada although not a trained scientist, still engaged many scientists’ in a meaningful way because he spoke in an artistic way to capture the minds of the scientists at the same time delivering his spiritual message despite their unwillingness to do so. By hearing sincerely, one’s intelligence about the non-physical becomes more of a reality. If mundane words can invoke deep emotions of the past, present and future, certainly words glorifying Swayam Bhagavan Sri Krishna is supremely powerful that it can burn away all misgivings of the individual and set the individual on a journey with an emotion full of unending magic and joy!

Hear Krishna! Chant Krishna! See Krishna! Serve Krishna!
Hare Krishna

Monday, July 10, 2017

leadership style

How to be a diplomat and at the same time not duplicitous? I think this is the art of ambassadorship. It is also the art of negotiating and leadership. A leader especially a Kshatriya type leader is trained to cultivate this art of diplomacy without duplicity. I believe today we have more duplicity than diplomacy. Unfortunately, it is very hard to tell the difference. Henceforth, people in general do not trust their leaders anymore or at the least have a dubious outlook. If we want a leader to be respected and trustworthy, then the leader should establish his or her agenda clearly, follow up on it periodically in a transparent manner with verifiable statements. To me, this type of leadership invokes trust. So when such a leader is behaving diplomatically and may seem duplicitous, still it will not create doubt as we are aware of their leadership style.

I think Srila Prabhupada was like this. He always was clear in his speeches, letters, projects, and his day-to-day dealings with people (big, small, disciples, non-disciples). Such straightforward and consistent dealings puts people at ease and any doubt that may exist will soon dissipate. People may not agree or even understand fully our philosophy but if they see our dealings as simple and straight, then they will certainly value our words. Everyone is a leader, i think, and should take it upon themselves to practice simplicity and straightforwardness (not rude) with everyone.

Hare Krishna

Thursday, June 29, 2017

An age of lazy, misguided and disturbed populace

We are living in an age where the Srimad Bhagavatam verse 1.1.10 is ever true. More and more, people high and low are lazy, misguided and constantly disturbed externally or internally. People are either ritualistically positioned in their religious system or people are interested in spaced-out spiritualism.

Ritualism and religion are akin to each other today. People identify religion based on the ritual they perform. It is no more about God, knowing God, serving God and loving God. It is purely about the external aspects of religion that is its rituals.

As for so-called spirituality goes, people are only interested to deal with mundane problems such as stress. In other words, spiritualism has become a space-out technique in the name of yoga or meditation to effectively deal with mundane problems. When there is no problem, there is no necessity to space-out, hence spirituality is used only on a need-to-use basis.

In this superficial civilization of morality, and ethics, to introduce a deeper culture of ethics as enunciated in the Bhagavad Gita or Bhagavatam is practically impossible. This condition only will get worse as time passes. Hence, this place truly is not a place for a gentleman or gentlewoman. This tendency to take the non-physical side of life frivolously (due to laziness) is the bane of modern education and civilization. There will be nobody to blame but our self when our time runs out.

To cultivate faith on a Supreme Transcendent Being requires hard work, determination and will power, qualities we find in the corporate world and not so much in a forum to find God. Hence, today there is so much mistrust, doubt, cynicism, and utter disdain towards genuine seekers. However, without being discouraged one must continue with determination on this path for by practicing the art of shelter unto the Transcendent Lord amidst dualities, eventually though, one will seek the favor of the Lord for that is his or her rightful claim!

Hare Krishna

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

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


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


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


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