Krishna's Mercy

Hare Krishna

Janma Saphala

Posted by krishnasmercy on July 29, 2014

[Sita's lotus feet]“When the women opened up the veils to see the brides, they realized the meaning to their eyes, making their births successful.” (Janaki Mangala, 188)

nāri uhārū ughāri dulahininha dēkhahiṁ |
naina lāhu lahi janama saphala kari lēkhahiṁ ||

Download this episode (right click and save)

How do we make this life successful? We are destined to die, and previously we lived elsewhere. This is the basic definition of reincarnation, and even within this lifetime we see that there is past and present, with a singular animating force within the local body that transcends the different periods of time. We have this one life right now, so what is our true purpose? How do we make this journey successful? Goswami Tulsidas says that it’s as easy as removing a veil. This was literally true for several queens many thousands of years ago, and it is figuratively true for all others. When the veil of ignorance gets removed and one sees with the eyes of shastra, they get the sweetest vision on which to contemplate. A single glance in the proper mood fulfills the human birth, making it saphala, or fruitful.

Who are we? What are we made of? Each aspect of the body contains so many atoms. We could say that we’re a collection of chemicals. Those chemicals get grouped into five distinct elements: earth, water, fire, air and ether. These elements constitute all the bodies we see around us. Some living creatures have more fire than water, and some have more air than fire. Therefore not all creatures are the same; there are different species.

[Bhagavad-gita, 7.4]“Earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind, intelligence and false ego – altogether these eight comprise My separated material energies.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.4)

The gross elements are those we can see, and beyond the vision are the three subtle elements: mind, intelligence and ego. Intelligence is finer than the mind, and the ego is finer than the intelligence. Finer than the finest is the spirit soul. This soul is who we are. We are not anything else. The ego can change. When we identify with the gross elements that temporarily surround the soul, our ego is false. When we identify as spirit soul, part and parcel of the Supreme Spirit, our ego is no longer false.

Even when our ego is real once again, we still have these elements around us. With this covering of the body we get the senses. We can see, smell, taste, touch and hear. So what are we supposed to do with these abilities? Should we eat anything and everything? Should we eat as much as we want? Should we smell nice perfumes only? Should we see beautiful people of the opposite sex? Should we hear our praises and shun those who criticize us?

There are generally two choices. One is to enjoy as much as possible. This is bhoga. The opposite is tyaga, or renunciation. When I’ve enjoyed too much or when I don’t like what I’ve tried to enjoy, I decide to shut off the senses.

“I just won’t eat anything. I’m sick of getting fat. I’ll close my eyes so I don’t have to see the tragedies around us. I’ll never touch anyone ever again, for they only cause me trouble.”

The superior choice is dovetailing the senses and the sense-acquiring objects with service to God. When this is done, we get the true meaning to the senses. In the above referenced verse, Goswami Tulsidas makes one of his favorite comparisons. He says that in devotional service, one realizes the meaning to having eyes. Not surprisingly, the incident that elicits this comparison relates to seeing the Supreme Lord’s closest associates in a loving mood.

[Sita and Rama]Here there are three queens in Ayodhya looking at the four new brides who have come to their new home. These brides are from Janakpur, and they recently got married to the four sons of the king of Ayodhya. The queens, the mothers to the four sons, felt so happy when they gazed upon their new daughters-in-law. They removed the veils on the wives, for typically the married women wore veils. As part of the welcoming ceremony, the mothers were allowed to look behind the veils. They got to see the faces of the beautiful brides. In so doing, they received meaning to their eyes.

Their lives became successful because of their emotions from such an interaction. They had pure love for these women, who are goddesses of fortune. Sita Devi, the wife of the eldest prince Rama, is the goddess of fortune herself. Rama’s three younger brothers are partial expansions of the Supreme Lord, so their wives are also goddesses of fortune.

We are born into the darkness of ignorance. As proof of this fact, we automatically identify with the temporary body, which is nothing more than a collection of the five gross and three subtle elements of material nature. The veil gets removed through the instructions of those who follow in the mood of the queens of Ayodhya. One who loves God can teach others how to love Him. They give the knowledge necessary to derive the true meaning to the Vedic literature, the most comprehensive of all works describing the science of self-realization.

When internally purified, the living entity can see with the eyes of shastra. They can see the influence of the Divine everywhere. With their eyes now opened, they are free to love God all the time. Thus they make their life successful. They understand that all of their senses are meant to be used in service to God, and through such a path all the senses take on their true meaning. The living entity itself, who is a spirit soul at the core, realizes their actual position: servant of God, meant to always be in love.

In Closing:

On the new brides their eyes set,

Fruit of their birth thus to get.

 

Vision from veils removing,

Most of their senses using.

 

Though covered with gross elements five,

Divine consciousness soul still can revive.

 

With love the Supreme Lord just see,

Serve Him so that happy always to be.

www.krishnasmercy.org

Posted in janaki mangala | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

From The Earth To The Sky

Posted by krishnasmercy on July 28, 2014

[Rama's lotus feet]“Laying out the carpet and offering water, they respectfully took them across. Walking with excitement, there was full joy and bliss from the earth to the sky.” (Janaki Mangala, 187)

dēta pāvaṛē aragha calīṁ lai sādara |
umagi calē’u ānanda bhuvana bhuham̐ bādara ||

Download this episode (right click and save)

The French author Jules Verne wrote a book whose title in English translates to “From The Earth to the Moon.” It was written long before the space programs launched rockets into outer space. Who wouldn’t be enamored with the other world? Who wouldn’t want to see what’s out there beyond the horizon? While this verse from the Janaki Mangala doesn’t specifically give us hints on how to accomplish space travel, it does provide a mechanism for spreading joy and bliss into the sky. That joy starts on the earth, and it comes from a special interaction.

The event referenced here is a kind of wedding reception. The wedding already happened somewhere else. It took place in Tirahuta, and the wedded couples are now in Ayodhya. The reception in Ayodhya is just as important, for it is where the couples will live. As part of that welcome, a carpet gets laid out. As the couples walk across, the ladies of the court respectfully sprinkle water. As the sons and their new wives walk across, everyone feels tremendous joy and bliss, which then extend into the sky.

This latter part is not possible with an ordinary wedding. In times past there was no way to extend a celebration beyond the local area, as today’s forms of communication were not yet invented. Today we could post pictures from the event online and have others see them from across the globe. Thus they could share in the joy. We could record the event and then show it again later on, to a different audience. We could also tell others about it after the fact, essentially recreating the moment with our words.

[Sita and Rama]But in none of these mechanisms does the joy automatically spread into the sky at the precise moment things are occurring. The marriage here was for Sita and Rama. Rama is the prince of Ayodhya, and He has three younger brothers. Their marriages took place at the same time. So four couples are walking across the welcome carpet. The eyes of the queens are fixed on four handsome grooms and four beautiful brides.

Rama is God. He is the full embodiment of bliss, knowledge and eternality. He appears differently depending on the situation. Others may not know Him fully, but He is always above the darkness of the material existence. The words used to praise Him are uttama, or above darkness. Since He is the purusha, or person, above the mode of ignorance, one of His many names is Purushottama. The land where He resides in His form of Jagannatha, which means “Lord of the universe,” is known as Purushottama-kshetra.

[Lord Jagannatha]This event is a celebration of Rama’s marriage to Sita, and so everyone from above is watching. And if we analyze further, we see that the joy and bliss spring from devotion. People are practicing devotion to Sita and Rama and feeling wonderful in the process. Their joy automatically shoots into the sky and soars to the heavenly region and beyond.

This is instructive for those looking for a meaning to life. In ordinary work, not everyone else will notice. We can try to go to the moon, but we cannot stay there. Even if we achieve residence in a heavenly realm through our pious deeds, we can’t remain in the higher planets forever. Devotional service does not suffer from the same defect. Not only do we derive joy from devotion during this lifetime, but our happiness extends all the way to the upper regions. The Supreme Lord and His associates take notice. And at the time of death, we get to soar through the sky and beyond the material covering, happily reaching the supreme abode, the param dhama, the place where the Supreme Lord resides with His eternal associates.

In Closing:

Celebration with spirits soaring high,

Good feelings travel from earth to sky.

 

Not like a temporary upward bound,

And then again returning to the ground.

 

Results of devotional celebration to stay,

To associates of all lands making their way.

 

Think of God at death to easily penetrate,

Material covering and to param dhama elevate.

www.krishnasmercy.org

Posted in janaki mangala | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

I Can’t Help Myself

Posted by krishnasmercy on July 27, 2014

[Sita and Rama]“Again and again they happily threw money as gifts to celebrate the auspiciousness. Looking at the brides and grooms, they drowned in an ocean of love.” (Janaki Mangala, 186)

karahiṁ nichāvari chinu chinu maṅgala muda bharīṁ |
dūlaha dalahininha dēkhi prēma payanidhi parīṁ ||

Download this episode (right click and save)

From this verse, we see another difference between bhakti-yoga and any other system for self-improvement. Whether that system be readily acknowledged as secular or religious in nature, the resultant consciousness is what matters when giving an assessment. Is there love for God? Is there a reward sought? Is that reward of the personal variety? Here there is so much love that the people feel helpless. There is nothing that can be done to escape from the ocean of bhakti, which brings eternally refreshing waters and an auspiciousness never before seen.

“If bhakti-yoga brings so much love, and if it is so spontaneous at the highest levels, why the need to talk about it? Why not let others develop that attachment on their own? Why analyze things?”

Everyone is looking for self-improvement. Even those not following a diet or reading a book by an acknowledged expert in a field look for happiness. If everyone had the answers to everything, there would be no lamentation. There would be no sadness at the passing of another. Everyone would go to sleep on time, wake up on time, and eat on time. There would never be any problems at home or the office. Every piece of technology would work as advertised. There would never be a need to upgrade anything since everyone would be satisfied with what they had.

But we know that these conditions do not exist. To put my body back into shape, I follow a diet routine coupled with exercise. To improve my financial situation, I get further educated. Perhaps I switch jobs as well. To improve my home life, I look for a spouse. In old age, I look for ways to pass the time in peace. In this way I am always searching.

[Bhagavad-gita, 7.16]“O best among the Bharatas [Arjuna], four kinds of pious men render devotional service unto Me – the distressed, the desirer of wealth, the inquisitive, and he who is searching for knowledge of the Absolute.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.16)

[Krishna's lotus feet]Religious life isn’t necessarily different. In the Bhagavad-gita, Lord Krishna says that four kinds of people initially approach Him. Some are looking for wealth and some for the alleviation of distress. Some are inquisitive and others are looking for further knowledge after knowing Him a little bit. These are the four kinds that approach Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Then there are other religious paths such as jnana, karma, and yoga. These are knowledge, work and meditation respectively. In each case there is a personal desire. Even if there is a basic understanding of the Supreme Lord, that information doesn’t get top priority. The focus is on the individual’s happiness first. How will I improve myself? How will I feel better? How will I become enlightened?

Bhakti-yoga holds a unique spot because in the matured condition there is no personal desire. Those in this stage of bhakti don’t even know that they are practicing anything. They know only love for God. They think of His welfare first. They worry not over their personal fortunes. Whether they are rich or poor, of solid health or ill, with family or all alone – these are not important to them. “Is God happy? Am I spending time with Him? Is He pleased with my work? Is He enjoying the fruits to my efforts? He is my well-wisher, so does He have good reason to wish me well?”

[Bhagavad-gita, 5.29]“The sages, knowing Me as the ultimate purpose of all sacrifices and austerities, the Supreme Lord of all planets and demigods and the benefactor and well-wisher of all living entities, attain peace from the pangs of material miseries.” (Lord Krishna, Bg. 5.29)

In Ayodhya a long time ago, queens in the kingdom happily celebrated the auspicious occasion of the four royal princes’ return home as married men. As part of the welcoming ceremony, the mothers to these princes repeatedly threw money and offered gifts. They did this very happily. This was the first time they were seeing the wives of their sons, so they kept looking at both.

While looking again and again, the mothers drowned in an ocean of love. The love here is transcendental since the objects of affection are the Supreme Lord and His direct expansions. The wives are goddesses of fortune. So by looking at them, the mothers were essentially worshiping them. They did not worship as a mere ritual. They had not done something bad the previous day and then now worshiped in order to be absolved of sin. They were not afraid of punishment in the afterlife.

[Sita and Rama]The love of the mothers was so strong that they were bound by it. This is bhakti-yoga. The rasa of bhakti is like an ocean made up of nectar that gives immortality. For this reason when describing bhakti-yoga Shrila Rupa Gosvami names his book Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu. This ocean is very inviting. All are welcome to jump in and take advantage. There is only one requirement: love. Have love for God. Love Him so much that you don’t care what others think. Love Him so much that no one can take that love away from you. Love Him so much that no matter where you end up, either in this life or the next, you will never abandon Him. The queens in Ayodhya felt this way, and so their behavior teaches us so much.

In Closing:

Ocean of immortality dive in,

With swelling love happily swim.

 

Helpless since affection so strong,

Beautiful face of Lord to gaze upon.

 

By queens in Ayodhya this behavior shown,

When brides of sons arrived in their new home.

 

Of God no need to be afraid,

With your bhakti all obeisances paid.

www.krishnasmercy.org

Posted in janaki mangala | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Daughters-In-Law

Posted by krishnasmercy on July 26, 2014

[arati]“Staring again and again at their four sons and their wives, the mothers waved the arati lamps.” (Janaki Mangala, 185)

badhuna sahita suta cāri’u mātu nihārahiṁ |
bārahiṁ bāra āratī mudita utārahiṁ ||

Download this episode (right click and save)

We all know of the “mother-in-law” problem. They are our mother, but not really. We are not biologically related to them. In adulthood, or close to it, we get a brand new authority figure enter our lives. They have motherly affection for our spouse. They’ve shown this affection for a long time. They know that after the marriage of the son or daughter they should let go a little, but can any single event ever stop us from loving our offspring? This means that the mother-in-law is sure to give us trouble, for she wants to ensure that her child is still okay, even after moving in with their spouse. This presents somewhat of a problem for us, for we can’t push back fully, for otherwise our spouse will get upset. This scene from the Janaki Mangala gives us a mother-in-law’s perspective. She too has a lot to worry over, but here she is more than pleased with the new member of the family.

Indeed, in this situation there are multiple mothers and multiple daughters-in-law. Rama, Bharata, Lakshmana and Shatrughna were the four sons of King Dasharatha of Ayodhya. There were three mothers to these four brothers. Kausalya gave birth to Rama, Kaikeyi to Bharata, and Sumitra to Lakshmana and Shatrughna. But there was no rivalry amongst either the brothers or the mothers. No one thought that this mother is not my birth mother and this mother is. No one thought that this child is really my son and this child isn’t.

[four sons with parents]That’s a nice situation to be in, having three loving mothers. It means the family extends, and with a large family you have a large support system. In the Vedic tradition, the marriages are arranged, which means that when the wives come home after marriage, it is their first time in that area. Here the mothers are meeting the wives of the four brothers for the first time. The brothers got married away from home, in Janakpur. The mothers were in Ayodhya, and from the verse above we get their initial reaction.

They kept looking at the daughters-in-law. The new wives were very beautiful, and perfect in behavior. Imagine moving in with your husband and seeing that he has three mothers around to protect him. This would be a daunting situation for anyone, but Sita and her relatives acted as if they were coming home again. It was Sita’s marriage to Rama that set everything in motion. From there, Sita’s father arranged to have Rama’s three brothers get married at the same time.

Just as each mother in Ayodhya considered Rama to be their son, they considered Sita to be their daughter. “In-law” had no significance here. Sita’s nature is such that anyone with a sober mind will have affection for her. She has no bad qualities. She is virtuous in every way. It would make sense that she is a perfect match for Rama, of whom even enemies have difficulty speaking ill.

“I have not seen any person in this world, be they an enemy or one punished for heinous sins, speak ill of Rama, even in His absence.” (Lakshmana speaking to Kausalya, Valmiki Ramayana, Ayodhya Kand, 21.5)

If you love God, you get the perfect son, if you so desire. This was the case for the wives of Dasharatha. Rama is the Supreme Lord in a special incarnation appearing in the Treta Yuga, or second time period of creation. His three younger brothers are partial incarnations of God, so all the elders in Ayodhya were uniquely blessed.

If you love God, you get the perfect daughter-in-law, if you so desire. Your “cup runneth over” with love. Though you previously thought you couldn’t love anyone any more than you did God, you make more room for His wife. In bhakti-yoga, or devotional service, you make even more room for those dear to Rama, like Hanuman. Then you make further room for those who are dear to Hanuman, like Goswami Tulsidas.

[Sita and Rama]Then you increase your love for those who support the devotees of Hanuman, who facilitate the spreading of the glories of Shri Rama and those who work for His interest. In this way the love always increases in devotional service; the opposite of how it is in material affairs. If I love my wife, I may not love another’s wife. If I love my husband, I have less affection to give someone else. And love in devotional service never breaks; the mothers in Ayodhya kept their love for their daughters-in-law. In the not too distant future, they would have to live without Sita, but they maintained a strong affection for the blameless wife of the prince of Ayodhya. Anyone who does so gets supremely benefitted.

In Closing:

So much affection for child to feel,

Difficult then after marriage to deal.

 

For new spouse caretaker another,

To clash with the in-law a mother.

 

Sita coming home to new mothers three,

But from her character of problems free.

 

Love for God then expanding to His wife too,

Seeing new daughters, love in mothers only grew.

www.krishnasmercy.org

Posted in janaki mangala | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Up To You

Posted by krishnasmercy on July 25, 2014

[Rama's mothers]“Kausalya, Sumitra and all of the beautiful women of the court were happy in the mind. Decorating themselves and preparing everything, they rushed towards Rama, walking like mad elephants.” (Janaki Mangala, Chand, 23.2)

mana mudita kausalyā sumitrā sakala bhūpati-bhāminī | 
saji sāju parichana calīṁ rāmahiṁ matta kun̄jara-gāminī ||

Download this episode (right click and save)

Is God mean? Is He perpetually angry? Does He insist that we submit to His will? Is He just waiting to punish us for our transgressions? When we finally come around, do we have to pay homage to Him every day? Are we supposed to cower in terror every time we’re in His presence? This verse from the Janaki Mangala gives us an idea of what it’s like when the individual consciousness is dovetailed with the supreme consciousness. There is spontaneous devotion, and the only fear is over missing wonderful moments due to the quick passage of time.

[Kausalya with Rama]Here Goswami Tulsidas describes the women of the court in Ayodhya. There is Kausalya. She is the eldest queen to King Dasharatha. Her son is Rama, the Supreme Lord Vishnu in an incarnation form. That God incarnates as a human being should not surprise us. He expands to create this amazing universe. Though the living entity seemingly emerges from the womb of the mother, the wise person knows that the seed from the father is required first. And prior to that, some other force is necessary. The father cannot simply combine any aspect of his body with a mother’s womb and get a child.

The entire creation thus sprung from someone else. The material chunk, if you will, is known as the mahat-tattva in Sanskrit. This total material substance is also Brahman, which we typically equate with the spiritual energy. The spiritual side of Brahman enters the mahat-tattva to give us the universe that we barely perceive with our eyes. Our planet is very small in comparison to all that is manifest. We can barely see what’s going on across the street, let alone what is taking place across the globe.

[Bhagavad-gita, 14.3]“The total material substance, called Brahman, is the source of birth, and it is that Brahman that I impregnate, making possible the births of all living beings, O son of Bharata.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 14.3)

If you took all that is possible to be seen, you get the full combination of Brahman and matter. God expands to accomplish this: both the material and spiritual energies come from Him. The living entities are separated expansions of His and the divine incarnations are the personal expansions. Shri Rama is different from other living entities in that He does not have to enter into the mahat-tattva and go through the typical cycle of birth and death. He simply appears, and His form is always transcendental. There is no difference between body and spirit for Him.

[Kausalya]Kausalya plays the role of Rama’s mother. Then there is Queen Sumitra, who is also married to Dasharatha. From her womb appear the brothers Lakshmana and Shatrughna. The third queen is Kaikeyi, and she is the youngest. She gives birth to Bharata, making four beautiful sons for Dasharatha. Rama is Vishnu Himself and the other three are partial expansions of Vishnu. Rama is the eldest and their leader, and in this scene all four brothers are returning home as newly married men.

Tulsidas says that all the women in the court were happy in the mind. And why wouldn’t they be? Their sons were returning home. Rama was especially missed, as He had been away for a while. The women all dressed up for the occasion. Rama was greeted by the ladies as would a king on his ascension to the throne.

It is said that when the women went towards welcoming Rama and His brothers, they all walked like mad elephants. This seems like a strange comparison to make, but in Vedic literature a statement like this appears quite often. “Gaja gamini” means the walk of an elephant, and when applied to a woman it is a way to describe the beautiful way in which they walk. In this situation the women were compared to mad elephants, indicating that their beautiful walk was of a brisker pace.

They were not compelled to attend this ceremony. They did not do so out of fear. They were not worried about incurring God’s wrath. Instead, they worried that they would miss the chance to celebrate one of the great moments in His life on earth. They feared that time would get the best of them. For this reason they hurried, thinking of Rama the whole time.

[Lord Rama]In the devotional consciousness, the minutes sometimes do seem like hours, especially when there is separation. In separation one’s fondness for God increases. During this time thoughts develop as to how one will please and serve Him when His association comes again. And so in this very lifetime the same thoughts can come to us if there is a desire to regain His association. This is the meaning to life, to love God and want to serve Him. There is no reason to fear Him, as in Ayodhya Rama could do nothing to stop the kind offerings of the queens, who were His mothers. In devotional service one can act as a friend, a parent, an admirer, or even a lover of God. There needn’t be any fear, as simply from the sound of the holy names the proper view of the Supreme Lord comes to the mind: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

In Closing:

Many roles in bhakti-yoga to find,

Holy name alone bringing clear vision to mind.

 

Queens of Dasharatha as mothers to act,

Rushed towards Rama like elephants to attack.

 

Beautiful walk, so nicely dressed,

Rama by their offerings to be blessed.

 

With God interactions there are so many,

With love, no need for fear of Him any.

www.krishnasmercy.org

Posted in janaki mangala | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

A Happy Reception

Posted by krishnasmercy on July 24, 2014

[arati plate]“Planting auspicious trees, decorating with rice flour, filling the thalis with yogurt and grass for the arati, the lovely ladies looked beautiful with their fawn-like eyes.” (Janaki Mangala, Chand 23.1)

maṅgala biṭapa man̄jula bipula dadhi dūba acchata rōcanā | 
bhari thāra ārati sajahiṁ saba sāraṅga sāvaka lōcanā ||

Download this episode (right click and save)

In the chand sections of his Janaki Mangala, Goswami Tulsidas sums up some of the preceding verses. Here we get a review of how Shri Rama’s return home with His new wife Sita was celebrated in Ayodhya, the dhama that is home to both the Raghu dynasty and all of Rama’s votaries. If the Lord’s devotees don’t live there physically, they at least remain there in spirit.

[Rama and Lakshmana with Vishvamitra]And what do they remember when contemplating that lovely place? So many important moments in Rama’s life took place there. One of them was His return home from having gone on a lengthy journey with the sage Vishvamitra. Rama’s younger brother Lakshmana also went along. The two left home unmarried, but returned home with beautiful brides, who happened to be sisters. Rama’s father, the family priest, and Rama’s two other younger brothers, who were now married too, also returned home.

When the four princes returned the residents of Ayodhya held something like a wedding reception. In the modern age, it is not surprising to find close family members spread apart geographically. One person lives in one country and another person lives across the ocean. Even when the family members live in close proximity, it is not a guarantee for frequent visits. If someone lives nearby, you think, “Oh, I can see them anytime.” Saying this repeatedly, enough time passes that the visits become rare.

As everyone is spread out and busy with their daily lives, for the occasion of a marriage it is not likely that all the important people can attend. The event might not fit into their schedule. Perhaps they don’t want to travel so far to witness a ceremony they have no real interest in. Perhaps there is an ongoing squabble with the person hosting the event.

Whatever the reason, a good way to satisfy the needs of many is to have multiple ceremonies. Have a ceremony in one place and a second one later on in a different place. This gives more people a chance to celebrate with you. All of the people of Ayodhya could not attend Rama’s wedding in Janakpur. They didn’t even know that He was there, for the Lord left their midst on a critical mission. He was asked to protect the peaceful sages residing in the forest from the attacks of wicked night-rangers. As police may be called to duty at any time and any place, so Rama and Lakshmana were expected to go anywhere they were needed.

As Rama is the Supreme Personality of Godhead in an incarnation form, He doesn’t require much to be satisfied. The gesture is what counts most, not the quantity or the extravagance. If a person from today were to time travel to Ayodhya during Rama’s time, they may mistakenly think that the people were poor. The people lived in simple dwellings, did not have electricity, and lived off the land. But based on the offerings made, we see that the people were anything but poor.

They planted pious trees all around. A pious tree is one that bears fruits. Conversely, a sinful tree is more or less for decoration. It does not provide nourishment. If you plant a pious tree, someone many years down the road can benefit from your work. If a banana falls from the tree and gives them food, you played a hand in feeding them.

Thalis were filled and made ready for an arati, or a ceremonial offering of a lamp. Everyone was decorated nicely, and this was the case in each home. Tulsidas tells us that the women in the homes arranged everything. They were housewives, working women and independent at the same time. No one told them to worship Rama. This kind of worship is spontaneous, and it is most appreciated. These women wanted nothing from Rama; rather they wanted only to give.

[Sita and Rama]And these were the most beautiful women, having eyes like a fawn. We know that the people of Ayodhya had shri, or beauty. Rama brought back shri personified in Sita Devi, the daughter of King Janaka. Sita is Lakshmi, who has many other names, with Shri being one of them. Where there is God, there is the goddess of fortune. Where there is Lakshmi Devi, there is opulence. And so it was fitting that the reception in Ayodhya was lacking nothing.

In Closing:

Since marriage took place in distant home,

Ayodhya to have reception of their own.

 

Though living life very simple,

Items of opulence there ample.

 

Pious trees, beautiful patterns drawn,

Arranged by ladies of eyes like fawn.

 

Shri personified to home bringing,

Glories of Her and Rama singing.

www.krishnasmercy.org

Posted in janaki mangala | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Pious Trees

Posted by krishnasmercy on July 23, 2014

[mango tree]“In home to home they set up altar areas and hoisted flags. They planted trees bearing fruits, blossoms, and other auspicious signs.” (Janaki Mangala, 184)

bandana vāra bitāna patākā ghara ghara | 
rōpē saphala sapallava maṅgala tarūbara ||

Download this episode (right click and save)

Trees are good for us. This only makes sense. Aside from being integral to a beautiful backdrop, providing the proper setting for a nature scene, they provide shade to the weary traveler. They give the comfort of shade on a hot summer’s afternoon. They give a resting place for the bookworm who enjoys being outdoors. And in the scientific analysis, they provide the vital oxygen that is necessary for breathing in the human species. Still, there are grades of trees, with some considered pious and others impious. The scene referenced above speaks of pious trees.

[Amazon Kindle logo]Sin gets you further away from your true identity of spirit soul, which is part and parcel of God and thus servant of Him for all of eternity. Sin isn’t so difficult to understand. There are sins in just about every category of activity. If you put the wrong type of gasoline in your automobile, you’re committing a sin. The reason is that the mistake will lead to a negative reaction, something particularly unwanted. Putting the right type of gasoline in the car is piety; it yields a desired result. Piety is auspicious and sin inauspicious.

In terms of trees, a sinful one does not yield fruits. Every living entity survives off other living entities. This is nature’s way. There is something called the food chain which basically explains the same concept. The human being is the lone species that has discretion. It has a choice in its diet. Just because it has dominion over other creatures doesn’t mean it has license to kill without limits. Just as the human being does not normally kill other human beings and a few selected animals like cats and dogs, when in a state of sobriety it does not kill any other animals for food.

This leaves the vegetables. But even then there is some sin involved, as the vegetables are cut away, made lifeless, when the time is right for consumption. The only kind of diet that is totally free of violence is one based on fruits. The fruits fall from the trees at the appropriate time. Shri Ramachandra, the Supreme Personality of Godhead in His incarnation form famous for ridding the world of the evil Rakshasa named Ravana, once remarked that for the mature human being there is no other fear than death. He compared it to the ripened fruit, which has no other fate than to fall.

“Just as the ripened fruit has no other fear than falling, the man who has taken birth has no other fear than death.” (Lord Rama, Valmiki Ramayana, Ayodhya Kand, 105.17)

[Lord Rama]The fruit’s fateful descent, its inevitable fall from the tree, does not involve violence. By approaching the tree, one who picks up such fruits and eats them can survive. Indeed, a person could survive just remaining near such a tree. Therefore the fruit-bearing trees are considered pious in the Vedas. They are better than the non-fruit-bearing ones, which are thus considered sinful. The fruit-bearing tree is also found in the heavenly realm. There you can ask for anything from the trees and receive it immediately. Thus these trees are known as desire trees [kama-taru, sura-taru, kalpa-vriksha].

In this verse from the Janaki Mangala, we read that the residents of Ayodhya planted trees that bore fruits, blossoms and other auspicious signs. They did this as a welcome for the Supreme Lord, who was returning to their town after having been away for a while. In home to home they set up altars and flags as well. Home is where the heart is, and so when there is worship in the home, the heart is properly situated. It remains connected to God, even though it may be far away from a formal devotional atmosphere. It may be many miles away from others practicing devotion, but the heart can stay just as connected with God through the altar in the home.

In the same way that the pious trees are those which produce fruits, there can also be pious books. Those works which yield the fruit of devotion to God, bhakti, are the most pious. Every page, which likely originates from a tree, is filled with descriptions that bring the heart closer to the eternal occupation of devotional service. Conversely, the mundane literature keeps one away from God. Those works keep the mind unfortunately situated in maya, or illusion. And so one cannot survive on such works; they need to constantly shift their attention.

[Tulsidas writing]The pious works stand alone in greatness. They become the main source of sustenance for the devoted soul and they also pass the test of time, bringing future generations so much joy. The mango is the king of fruits, making the mango tree the most pious on earth. Devotion to Rama is the king of all fruits given in literature, and so those works which describe Him have a value that cannot be measured.

In Closing:

Accompanying names of Rama chanted,

Pious trees Ayodhya’s people planted,

 

Mangos and blossoms to bear,

To provide shade, comfort and fare.

 

Pious and impious books too there can be,

From effect on consciousness one can see.

 

As bhakti the soul’s long-lost treasure,

Books giving it of value without measure.

www.krishnasmercy.org

Posted in janaki mangala | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

A Part Of Me To Stay

Posted by krishnasmercy on July 22, 2014

[rice flour designs]“They drew patterns using colored rice flour, laid down four kalashas, and hoisted flags, decorating everything nicely. In the street many kinds of jubilant music played.” (Janaki Mangala, 183)

cauṅkaiṁ puraiṁ cārū kalasa dhvaja sājahiṁ |
bibidha prakāra gahāgaha bājana bājahiṁ ||

Download this episode (right click and save)

The Supreme Lord is part of me. He exists within me in His plenary expansion of the Supersoul, also known as the Paramatma. As such, I am never actually separated from Him. In ignorance of this fact, I have been roaming through different bodies in lifetime after lifetime. The properties apply to every other conditioned living entity also. Since He is actually part of us, serving God is not very difficult. In the above referenced verse from the Janaki Mangala we see that basic items such as rice flour and flags suffice for perfect worship.

When I forget that God is part of me, I look for success without Him. I strive for material opulence. This is very difficult. One store location isn’t enough for the businessman. They must expand. Relatively high employment rates for a nation aren’t sufficient. If the total output of goods and services doesn’t grow from one quarter to the next, there is a panic over the economy.

As such, there must be progress. Instead of living simply and growing one’s own food on the land that they have claim to, the citizen must travel very far each day to earn a living. Instead of being content with a simple lifestyle that provides enough basic necessities, the individual must constantly buy new things. “Out with the old and in with the new.” And of course there is never enough. Even with such accumulation peace remains absent, and without peace there cannot be happiness.

[Bhagavad-gita, 2.66]“One who is not in transcendental consciousness can have neither a controlled mind nor steady intelligence, without which there is no possibility of peace. And how can there be any happiness without peace?” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.66)

In the devotional consciousness, there is peace no matter the situation. Whether one is living on a farm or in a penthouse apartment, they remember that God is part of them. Therefore they act for His interest first. They can have many cars or just one. They can have a lot of money or very little. They are not dependent on the objects. Satisfied in the relationship to the Supreme, they are known as atmarama.

[Lord Rama]To see how this works, we can study the behavior of the residents of Ayodhya a long time ago. They wanted to celebrate. They were so happy that their beloved son, Shri Rama, was returning home a married man. Rama’s father was the king. Dasharatha got all four of his sons married at the same time, so there was so much to rejoice over in the city.

The people did not require much. They used basic items like pots, flags and flour, and there was no deficiency in the celebration. The devotion is what made the atmosphere. They had pure and spontaneous love for Rama, who is the Supreme Lord in an incarnation specific to a time and place. Rama is the very same Vishnu who resides in the heart as the Supersoul. He is the very same Krishna who roams the sacred land of Vrindavana, sweetly playing His flute and giving pleasure to the cows and the senses. He is the same Brahman, which is the impersonal effulgence of God that lacks definition. Rama is the definition behind the generic term of “God,” which is a vague concept.

These residents didn’t necessarily know that Rama was God. They didn’t have to. They knew that their lives depended on Him, and more specifically, their devotion to Him. Rama was part of their lives, the central figure in fact. Knowing this, the people had success in the things that mattered the most to them. Their success was seen not in their external wealth but rather in their display of affection.

And so that same affection can be shown by anyone, for the same Rama stays with every single person as the Supersoul. It is the etiquette when visiting temples of Vishnu, or God, to bring an offering upon entering. Something simple like a flower or a fruit is sufficient. It is the thought which counts. The neophyte thinks that God only resides in the temple, but the actual fact is that God is everywhere. This means that He can be worshiped everywhere.

[Sita and Rama]Through the simple chanting of the holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare,” one can worship God. This chanting can be done by any person, even one who doesn’t know the difference between spirit and matter. This mantra can be chanted for one second or for multiple hours consecutively. It can be recited by both the rich and the poor and the lucky and the unlucky.

One doesn’t have to travel very far to chant these names, either. The people of Ayodhya simply had to go out into the streets, where they played jubilant music. Rama was pleased by their welcome, and the citizens remained dear to Him forever. It is no wonder that the Almighty chose such a place to appear and call home for many years during the Treta Yuga.

In Closing:

Simple objects a celebration to make,

Rice flour, pots and flags to take.

 

Extravagance for Ayodhya not required,

By love for Sita and Rama inspired.

 

Of me and also you He’s a part,

With chanting devotion today start.

 

With love keeping close to you near,

Then to Lord forever remain dear.

www.krishnasmercy.org

Posted in janaki mangala | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Everything Stops

Posted by krishnasmercy on July 21, 2014

[Rama's lotus feet]“In the gates of the city, the steps by the river, and the stores they made decorations for a welcome. Sprinkling so much fragrant water on the roads, they sang of the great auspiciousness.” (Janaki Mangala, 182)

ghāṭa bāṭa pura dvāra bajāra banāvahiṁ |
bīthīṁ sīn̄ci sugandha sumaṅgala gāvahiṁ ||

Download this episode (right click and save)

When visiting important pilgrimage sites in India, the word “ghata” comes up quite often. There is the ghata named after this person and the ghata named after that person. “You must visit these,” the tour guide will tell you. From the context used, it would seem that the ghata is a place of greater significance than what it actually is, steps leading to a body of water. The major rivers in India are considered sacred, like the Ganges, Yamuna and Sarayu. Bathing in them is considered very auspicious, as they are associated with the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Therefore the steps that lead towards these bodies of water become very important.

[Ghat in Chitrakoot]Stores are where commerce takes place. If you own a store, you likely earn a living through it. In America it is said that the majority of jobs get created through small businesses, such as the storefronts found on the busiest roads of the city. Nothing is guaranteed in such ventures. Just because you are profitable today doesn’t mean that you will be tomorrow. If you become very profitable, you become a target for your enemies, who consist not only of rival businesses but politicians as well. Your employees have the freedom to leave your business and go work somewhere else. Therefore the store owners are always preoccupied.

The gates of the city give the first glimpse of your town to the foreign traveler. If they have never been to your town before, they will get the first impression from the gates. In modern times there are large signs on the roads leading in. “Welcome to such and such city,” the sign will say. Then it might list some interesting facts, things for which the city is famous.

[Welcome sign]In Ayodhya a long time ago, everything stopped for the arrival of a beloved son. The steps leading to the river were now decorated. So were the stores and also the gates to the city. It was like a holiday, where everything stops and the people get a break in order to relax. Here the break was for rejoicing. No one told them it was a holiday. Everyone acted spontaneously. They were so happy that Rama was back. He was coming home with a new wife, the beautiful Sita Devi, the daughter of King Janaka. Also coming home were Rama’s three younger brothers and their father, the king of the town.

The people sprinkled fragrant water on the roads and constantly sang of the auspiciousness. A clay field requires regular watering in order to stay loose and soft. Sort of like the maintenance of a clay tennis court, the dirt roads required careful attention in order to stay fit for travel by carts. The fragrant water used here provided for a nice atmosphere. Far from the congested and foul smelling city streets of today, Ayodhya on that day looked and felt wonderful, from home to home.

[watering clay court]Everything stopped because of the nature of Rama. The people loved Him so much. He had every good quality imaginable. He was kind. He was forgiving. He knew the truth. He was self-realized. He understood the difference between matter and spirit. He did not view one citizen as an enemy and another as a friend. He looked at everyone as a well-wisher, and in fact that’s what they were. He never ran from responsibility. No matter how difficult the task was, Rama would take it up when asked. He was not worried about losing anything. If he had to lose the whole world to protect His citizens, He would. And He would not be any sadder as a result.

These are some of the qualities of God. He is the ultimate well-wishing friend. He is the supreme enjoyer and also the proprietor of all the worlds. It is in the makeup of the soul to serve. This means that we feel best when we act for someone else’s enjoyment. In therapist speak, it is considered bad to depend on someone else for your happiness. “You’ll never be happy that way because you can’t control how someone else feels.” It may be the case that the recipient’s reaction is out of our control, but there is no denying that service is what lights up the otherwise disillusioned embodied soul stuck in a seemingly endless cycle of happiness and misery, which are neatly packaged inside of the two events of birth and death.

[Bhagavad-gita, 8.5]“And whoever, at the time of death, quits his body, remembering Me alone, at once attains My nature. Of this there is no doubt.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 8.5)

If you’re going to act for someone else’s enjoyment, might as well make it God’s. He is the supreme enjoyer. This means that He is the person who will appreciate your efforts the most. He will reward you accordingly. Not necessarily with a new car or a large balance of money, He’ll give you an even better gift: devotion. With that reward you can drop everything and prepare for a grand celebration in His honor at any time. With that gift you can be blissful even in a tense situation. With that reward you can concentrate on His lotus feet that traversed the fragrantly watered streets of Ayodhya. And most importantly, with devotion you can remember Him at the time of death, the time when what you think matters most.

In Closing:

Gates giving first glimpse of the town,

Ghata leading to rivers of renown.

 

Bazaars where commerce takes place,

All decorated for Rama’s arrival to await.

 

City streets sprinkled with water fragrant,

Pleasant aura for His return triumphant.

 

Rama coming home now with new wife,

Rewarding everyone with eternal devotional life.

www.krishnasmercy.org

Posted in janaki mangala | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

All Good Fortune

Posted by krishnasmercy on July 20, 2014

[Govinda]“My Lord, O Supreme Personality of Godhead, in Your holy name there is all good fortune for the living entity, and therefore You have many names, such as Krishna and Govinda, by which You expand Yourself. You have invested all Your potencies in those names, and there are no hard and fast rules for remembering them. My dear Lord, although You bestow such mercy upon the fallen, conditioned souls by liberally teaching Your holy names, I am so unfortunate that I commit offenses while chanting the holy name, and therefore I do not achieve attachment for chanting.” (Lord Chaitanya, Chaitanya Charitamrita, Antya 20.16)

Download this episode (right click and save)

[Chaitanya Charitamrita, Antya 20.16]Like an actor thrust into many roles, some of their choosing and others not, the human being encounters many different situations in their journey through life. One second they must act as an obedient son and the next they are the wiser, elder brother to a sibling. One second they are taught and the next they are teaching. Understanding these different roles, the Supreme Personality of Godhead has instituted a way in which all good fortune can come to any person, at any time. That way is the chanting of the holy name.

Imagine this situation. You’re at a party. It is the first birthday of the son of one of your good friends. You go to the party, taking your wife with you. As is bound to happen, you run into different people. To be polite, you strike up a conversation, telling them a little bit about yourself. Your nature is more to listen, so through this one experience you get exposure to many viewpoints.

The first person you meet is very conscious of the earth’s environment.

“Sustainability is the only way for the earth to survive going forward. Where do I live you ask? Actually, I travel around from place to place. I like to go where the cows are maintained and where they have organic farming. This is the most important service to me. There can be none higher. The cows are so precious, and if we don’t keep our farms eco-friendly, disease will overtake us all soon enough.”

The second person you meet has an interesting hobby.

“I’m an avid art collector. I go to all the showings in the city. I don’t mean to brag, but I think I have an eye for these things. I also sell some of the pieces I buy in auctions. It’s not that I’m trying to make money, flipping these paintings. It’s more that the enjoyment runs its course. I like what I see today, but in a year from now my perspective may be different. I still require the beauty of the visual art, so I never stop collecting. I simply change my focus.”

The third person you meet is into bodybuilding.

“Yeah, it’s a lot of work, but I feel really good. I used to be quite skinny. I couldn’t even do a pull-up. Now I can bench press so much. I notice the other people in the gym staring at me when I bring back dumbbells from the weight rack. I have to eat a lot to maintain my physique, but it improves my self-esteem to have a good appearance. I also like knowing that I am stronger than most people.”

This is but a small sampling of the different desires found in living entities. Each person seeks good fortune, but there is only one means in the present age where everyone will be fully satisfied. That means is the chanting of the holy name. That name is non-different from the person it represents. I can change my name very easily. Perhaps someone gives me a nickname. Earvin Johnson became “Magic” in the National Basketball Association. Ozzie Smith became “The Wizard” in baseball. It is not so difficult to change a name; which means that a name cannot fully represent someone.

[Govinda]That deficiency is absent in the Supreme Lord. His name is Him in full. There is all good fortune thus in chanting that name, as it brings His presence in the nearest vicinity. And who wouldn’t want to be with God all the time? Since there is all good fortune in that holy name, the Lord kindly expands Himself to give so many names. To the environmentally conscious person, He can be addressed as Govinda. This name means one who gives pleasure to the senses and the cows. The cows are happiest when in the presence of Govinda. One can chant “Govinda” over and over again and maintain the vision of the Supreme Lord embracing and caring for the beloved cows in Vrindavana.

To the person interested in beauty, there is the name Krishna, which means “all-attractive.” No one is more beautiful than God. This feature in Him means that He is indeed a person. He is not nirakara, or without form. Nirakara is an accurate description of Him, but the meaning is often misunderstood. “Lack of form” in this sense means “without a material covering.” In the material world a covering is not always beautiful. Its applicability is limited as well. The spiritual form of Krishna is always beautiful. It has no defect; hence it cannot be material.

To the person interested in personal strength, the name “Girivaradhari” is there. This refers to the specific pastime of the lifting of Govardhana Hill, done by the same Govinda in Vrindavana. Girivaradhari is the strongest. As His strength is spiritual, it is impossible for us to fully understand. His lifting of a giant hill while in the visual manifestation of a small child gives us some indication. To those who appreciate strength, this name gives them great pleasure in hearing and saying.

[Krishna lifting Govardhana Hill]The names of Krishna are too many to count, as the good Lord kindly expands to distribute the good fortune to all the living entities. Through His appearance as Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, He expanded the practice of chanting the holy names. He gave the formula for peace, wisdom, strength, and happiness. He gave it away for free; not asking for anything in return. And He empowered so many others to spread the same good fortune. Those empowered souls can be easily recognized. They are always chanting the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

In Closing:

One person for art an eye,

Another to clean environment to try.

 

One in gym lifting weights heavy,

Thus in world interests a bevy.

 

But fortune to all only one way found,

When holy names of Krishna to sound.

 

From expansions many names to choose,

Saying with love all gain, nothing to lose.

www.krishnasmercy.org

Posted in shikshashtakam | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »