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

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