Krishna's Mercy

Hare Krishna

The One With The Travelling Tirtha

Posted by krishnasmercy on April 17, 2014

[Vrindavana]“My Lord, devotees like your good self are verily holy places personified. Because you carry the Personality of Godhead within your heart, you turn all places into places of pilgrimage.” (Maharaja Yudhishthira speaking to Vidura, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 1.13.10)

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[Shrimad Bhagavatam, 1.13.10]One more stop to go. Lakshmi and her husband decided to take a different sort of vacation this year. They went to India, where Lakshmi’s parents were originally from. She and her husband booked a tour package that included visits to many of the famous sacred spots. So far in her trip she had visited places like Rishikesh, Jaipur and Haridwar. She and her husband entered many different temples and looked at so many religious figures, about whom they didn’t know much.

[Lord Krishna]Their last stop was Vrindavana. Lakshmi had heard that this is the land of Krishna, and that name she then heard constantly while in that sacred town. Again, she and her husband visited many different temples, saw various rivers and ponds, and walked past famous sites dedicated to saints from the past. She also did her fair amount of shopping, picking up shawls, bangles, and different religious paraphernalia. Her husband complained that she was buying too many things, that they didn’t have room for it all in their home, but she ignored him.

On the last day of their trip, Lakshmi decided to walk around Vrindavana by herself. Her husband stayed back at the hotel, as he was tired from all the walking. At one point in her touring, Lakshmi came upon a somewhat large gathering. She had been drawn in by the sound of chanting. “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare,” is what she heard from a distance. Upon locating the source of that sound, she found a group of people seated in front of a person dressed in religious attire. That person was leading the singing, and the crowd was responding.

Getting caught up in the festive atmosphere, Lakshmi decided to stay. She noticed that the men and women were divided, so she took her seat amongst the other ladies. When the chanting stopped, the person in front, an elderly man who seemed to be of Indian descent, began to speak. To her surprise, the discourse was in English. Lakshmi then heard information with which she was not familiar. In fact, these were teachings that went beyond sectarian boundaries. The teachings seemed logical to her; not simply Hinduism.

Among the things she heard from this man were that the soul is eternal, that it never dies. It never takes birth, either. That which we lament for at the time of death is simply an external covering. She listened as the speaker described how people come together at nature’s direction and then are separated in due course. She was instructed to not lament for either situation, for the attachments and aversions were only rooted in illusion. This illusion was described by the term “maya.” The true reality, this man said, was spirit. She then heard that Krishna is the name for the Supreme Spirit, and that the smaller collections of spirit are meant to serve Him in a mood of love. She learned that what they had been chanting previously was a mantra directed to Krishna. The chanting was a way to please Him and serve Him.

[Lord Krishna]When the discourse was over, another chanting session began. When that ended, Lakshmi spoke to some of the participants. They told her that this saintly person lived in Vrindavana, and that he discoursed on bhakti-yoga regularly. He had an ashrama there, which was like a school or spiritual institution. Lakshmi very much wanted to approach the speaker and ask more questions, but she realized that it was time for her to return home. She and her husband were taking an overnight drive to the location of their next hotel stay, which was in the city that their flight back was going to take off from. Meeting up with her husband later on, she described all that she had witnessed. On the flight home and over the next few weeks, she kept repeating the mantra she had heard that gathering sing.

As fate would have it, a few months later Lakshmi and her husband decided to eat out at an Indian restaurant for dinner. Lakshmi did not feel like cooking that night, and so her husband suggested a new spot that had just opened up. After a satisfying meal at that establishment, on the way out Lakshmi noticed a flyer on the wall. It was an advertisement for a Hare Krishna program with a certain guest speaker, a swami whose picture was featured. She told her husband that they had to go, and so the next week they went to the program.

To her delight, Lakshmi found that the group was singing the same mantra, Hare Krishna, over and over again. The guest speaker touched on topics similar to what was discussed by the saint living in Vrindavana. “How wonderful this is,” Lakshmi thought to herself. “That amazing knowledge which I found so far away from my home is now being spoken in my own backyard.”

After the program, during the time when food was served Lakshmi got to chatting with one of the other ladies in attendance. Lakshmi told her about the trip to Vrindavana and how the chanting of the holy names had caught her attention. She also told this woman about the unique knowledge she heard in that lecture.

“So how did you find this place?” Lakshmi asked, as their conversation continued.

“Actually, I ran into a person on the street. They handed me a Bhagavad-gita As It Is and a card inviting me to their program,” the woman responded.

[Bhagavad-gita As It Is]“I heard the speaker mentioning that book. Have you read it? What’s in it?”

The lady then explained what she knew about the Bhagavad-gita. She directed Lakshmi to a table in that temple that had all sorts of books. As she was walking out, Lakshmi took one copy of the Bhagavad-gita and left a donation.

Upon reading that book later on that night, Lakshmi had a realization:

“Wow, I was so fortunate to have gone to Vrindavana to get this nectar of knowledge. Then I was more fortunate that the person who spoke at the program tonight has taken to travelling. He is like a sacred place of pilgrimage on wheels. And then this book might even be better, for it is the translation and commentary of a saint who knows Krishna. And this saint’s works can travel anywhere, even to places where there are no temples. This Swami Prabhupada has brought Vrindavana to the world. I am so fortunate to have come across his works and the people who support him.”

In Closing:

Travelling to places near and far,

Like moving pilgrimage spots they are.


Spiritual atmosphere anywhere to make,

Since divine wisdom with them to take.


Presence only in books surpassed,

In sacred pages wisdom of ages passed.


Take advantage of them do you,

And make a spiritual home yours too.

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The One With The Bitter Lemonade

Posted by krishnasmercy on April 16, 2014

[Shri Hanuman]“If I offer auspicious words, which are in line with dharma, about the self-realized Rama, the most excellent prince of the Ikshvaku dynasty, saying these words in a sweet voice in hearing me she will believe me, for I will compose everything accordingly so.” (Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 30.42-43)

ikṣvākūṇām variṣṭhasya rāmasya vidita ātmanaḥ ||
śubhāni dharma yuktāni vacanāni samarpayan |
śrāvayiṣyāmi sarvāṇi madhurām prabruvan giram ||
śraddhāsyati yathā hi iyam tathā sarvam samādadhe |

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It was a rare occasion indeed, as Sanjay was in his room on this night studying. It was his senior year of college, so as was known to happen to many others, a bit of “senioritis” had kicked in. He was missing classes every now and then. He was spending a lot of time with his friends, enjoying his few remaining months at the college he had called home for almost four years. “I’ll never have this kind of a life again, so I better enjoy every moment,” he told himself constantly.

But on this night he was studying for an exam. Therefore he was in solitude, away from his friends. Late in the evening strangely he received a call. “This is odd, my phone never rings. I wonder who this could be,” he thought to himself as the phone rang a few times. Finally, he closed the book he was reading and reached over to pick up the phone.


“Yo, it’s me, Samuel.”

“Hey man, what’s going on?”

“You’re not going to believe this. I got arrested.”

“What? What do you mean?”

“Yeah, I got arrested.”

As Samuel confirmed this, Sanjay couldn’t help but laugh. In fact, he laughed heartily for the next thirty seconds. The two were good friends, so Sanjay couldn’t believe what he was hearing. Finally composing himself, the conversation continued.

“Yo, this is not funny,” said an upset Samuel.

“I’m sorry man. What happened?”

Samuel then proceeded to describe the course of the events from the night. Their friend Mario was in the partying mood. Mario was part of their small group of friends, which included Matt and Jose as well. Mario was the youngest in the group, and he had yet to reach the legal age for drinking adult beverages. This typically isn’t a problem in universities, for others are around who are more than willing to help. On this night, it was Samuel who was called to duty. Mario drove Samuel to the local store, and Samuel went in and bought the alcoholic beverages that Mario wanted.

“Yeah, so I got Mario’s stuff for him, and then he dropped me off at home,” continued Samuel, who lived off campus. “Then I get a call a few hours later asking me to come down to the campus police station. When I get there, they arrested me. Mario ratted me out. He told them I bought the stuff for him.”

“No way,” said an incredulous Sanjay. “What happened? Why would he do that to you?”

“They stopped him as he was walking back to his dorm. They saw what he was holding in his hands and asked him for ID. From his ID they saw that he was underage so they wanted to know how he got the stuff. Then he named me.”

“Wow, that is crazy. This story is insane. Did you tell the other guys?”

“No, not yet.”

When he got off the phone, Sanjay was still a little shocked. He couldn’t believe Mario had betrayed one of his friends in that way. At the same time, the incident seemed very humorous to him. The sentiment was shared by Matt and Jose, whom Sanjay spoke to over the next few days.

[school newspaper]As the incident took place on a weekend, the friends eagerly anticipated the edition of the school newspaper set to be published the following Monday. That paper always had a short column detailing the various arrests by campus police. The friends figured Samuel would be mentioned. What they discovered was even more surprising. Typically such stories were presented in one or two sentences on a small side column on one of the pages. This incident got better treatment, a written-up story. The title to the story was “Lemonade Turns Bitter For Two,” for the alcohol purchased that night was a brand called Mike’s Hard Lemonade. The story described the events that took place.

When Sanjay ran into Matt that Monday, the two immediately went into discussing the paper.

“Dude, can you believe they did a whole story on it?” asked Sanjay.

“I know, I was shocked. It’s so funny. I picked up like twenty copies. I’m going to save these. It will make for a great memory many years down the line,” replied Matt.

“I was a little surprised at the story. It said that Mario was relieving himself by a tree in the parking lot when the cops spotted him.”

“Yeah, that is a little strange. We’ll see him this weekend at Jose’s birthday party. Maybe we can ask him.”

All the friends were together the next weekend. While hanging out and playing videogames at Matt’s place, Mario arrived. At that point, Samuel, though initially furious at the betrayal, had already spoken with Mario about the incident. The two were on decent terms. The rest of the friends were still a little upset, however.

“How could you do that to him?” asked Sanjay.

“Hey man, it’s the cops. I’m not going to lie to them,” said Mario with a defensive attitude.

“I don’t know, man. That’s one of the most messed up things I’ve ever seen someone do,” said Matt.

“Come on, guys, cut him some slack. I probably would have done the same thing,” said Jose.

After everyone voiced their opinions on the matter, they got to asking about the details of the night. After all, of all of the friends, only Mario knew what really had happened.

“Dude, you were relieving yourself on a tree? You couldn’t hold it in until you got back in the building?” asked Matt.

“No, that part is totally made up. The cops added that part. I was just walking like normal and they saw me. They started interrogating me right away.”

The topic was not discussed again for a few hours. Later on in the night, Sanjay brought it up to Matt.

“Matt, I think I know what happened with the Mario thing.”

“Yeah? What do you think?”

“I have a suspicion that Mario saw the cops first as he was walking back to the building. Feeling afraid of getting caught, he hid by a tree. They then saw him hiding and knew something was up. Otherwise why would they just stop a random person holding a shopping bag?”

“Yeah, that makes sense. I was wondering the same thing. And then later on, to justify why they stopped him, they made up the story of him relieving himself by the tree.”

“And did you notice Mario’s face when he was talking to us,” asked Sanjay. “I knew he was lying. Don’t ask me how, but I just got that feeling. He wasn’t entirely honest with us.”

“I got the same feeling,” said Matt.

Jose, who had overheard their conversation, weighed in on the issue. “Dude, I don’t think he was lying. You guys are reading too much into this. He got caught and ratted out Samuel. Big deal. Just get over it already.”

In this way no one was really sure what had happened. Were the police telling the truth? Was Mario dishonest? Eventually the incident became a distant memory, and all the parties involved went back to getting along as per normal.

Many years later the incident came to Sanjay’s mind again. This occurred while reading the ancient Vedic text, the Ramayana. In one particular section, a dedicated warrior who has an important message to deliver deliberates on the best course of action. His worry is over how the recipient will receive the news. Will she believe him? She doesn’t know who he is at that point in the story, which is an account of historical events put into wonderful Sanskrit poetry. She is surrounded by liars, cheats, frauds, and people of the worst character. Therefore her first inclination would be to discount any information given to her, even if it was good.

[Shri Hanuman]In reading the deliberation of the dedicated messenger, Shri Hanuman, Sanjay couldn’t help but think back to that incident from many years back.

“Hanuman is here worried over how his words will be believed by Sita, the distressed princess. Indeed, it is difficult to decipher the truth. This reminds me of that bitter lemonade incident from my college years. I couldn’t tell if Mario was telling me the truth or not. We couldn’t even believe the police, either, in whom we put so much trust. Even Samuel was dishonest in buying alcohol for someone who was underage.”

Sanjay took note of the decision Hanuman made. Hanuman decided he would speak of Shri Rama, the most excellent prince of the Ikshvaku dynasty. His words would be in line with dharma, or virtue, since they would be about someone who was self-realized. Most importantly, his words would be sweet, a tone Sita had not heard in a while.

“This incident tells me that the only way to know for sure if someone is speaking the truth is if they are speaking about God,” continued Sanjay in his thoughts. “Hanuman decides here to speak accurately about Rama, the Supreme Lord in a wonderful incarnation. Sita, a saintly personality and thus a great truth-detector, would know that Hanuman, though a stranger to her at the time, was speaking the truth. The message given to her would be accepted, and she would take hope that Rama was coming to finally rescue her.”

[Sita and Rama]Sanjay admitted to himself that even he had been dishonest many times in the past, and that perhaps the friends had been too hard on Mario many years back, for dishonesty naturally follows unclean behavior like drinking. Most importantly, he was glad to know the one surefire way to avoid dishonesty. “Simply speak sweet words about Rama. This is something I will try to do.”

In Closing:

Into lying so easy to go,

So real truth how to know?


When intoxication and gambling to seek,

So many lies without question to speak.


Sita, suffering in Ashoka ground,

With liars and cheats all around.


Hanuman deciding on possible way,

Glories of her husband Rama would say.

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The One With The Team Captain

Posted by krishnasmercy on April 15, 2014

[Krishna and Arjuna]“Therefore the doubts which have arisen in your heart out of ignorance should be slashed by the weapon of knowledge. Armed with yoga, O Bharata, stand and fight.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.42)

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Bhagavad-gita, 4.42The players headed back to the locker room. It was a crushing defeat. Just one win away from making it to the playoffs, the team looked like they had it in the bag. The doubles matches were evenly split, and the same fate for the first two singles matches. Just one match remained, and it was the matchup that looked easiest on paper going in.

“We could have won that match,” said one of the players.

“Yeah, but I don’t know why the coach chose Johnson to play,” said another.

“It’s because they are friends. Walters was in that spot all year, but I think he and the captain got into a fight recently. The captain then decided to put his buddy into that spot and we see what happened,” added another player.

[tennis court]In this way the team members complained to one another about the job the captain had done. They didn’t like so many things he did, from the timings of the practices to the type of food served after matches. At one point in the discussion, one of the team members, Rob, proposed an idea.

“Hey, maybe I should get my own team together next year. Would you guys be down?”

After thinking it over for a while, they were all on board. There would be a new team next year, with a new captain. Things would be different. Things would be better. The players wouldn’t let a spot in the playoffs slip away due to quarrel and friendship. Rob would right every wrong committed by the present captain.

Jumping forward to the next year, Rob found the job of captaincy to be a little more than he bargained for. He opened up about the job to one of his teammates one time right after a practice that lasted a few hours.

“So, who are you going to play in the match next week, Rob?” asked Bill.

“I don’t know, man. I got everybody in my ear giving me advice. One person wants to play singles, whereas I think they would be better suited for doubles. Another guy isn’t sure he can make it, though he’s likely our best player. Our best doubles team can’t stand each other. They each told me separately that they refuse to step foot on court with the other guy.”

“Wow, Rob, I didn’t know you had all this to deal with.”

“Yeah, the job looks easy on the outside, but I’m the bad guy in pretty much all situations. I can never do anything right, as far as everybody else is concerned. I have so much more appreciation now for last year’s captain.”

Later that night, Rob’s wife could tell that something was troubling him. He did not speak much during dinner. Then they watched a movie on the couch, where he was again silent throughout. Finally, while laying in bed and reading, she decided to see what was up.

“Honey, is something bothering you?” she said while holding the book she was reading, Bhagavad-gita As It Is, translated and commented on by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.

[Bhagavad-gita, As It Is]“Oh it’s okay, dear. You can go back to reading. I don’t want to bother you,” Rob replied.

“Now that’s not going to make the problem go away. You should talk about it. I’m ready to listen. Is it about your tennis team? I think it’s been stressing you out lately.”

Rob then revealed everything to his wife. He shared his frustrations and how the job was getting to be too much for him. He even said that he regretted taking the job, that it would be easier to just sit on the sidelines and let someone else take all the blame.

“That’s awful, honey, but I don’t think you should quit,” she counseled. “Those guys count on you. It’s not easy to be a leader, but this is the responsibility you chose. You should not quit on them.”

“I think you’re right, sweetie,” Rob admitted.

“You know, I think this should make you appreciate leaders more. They take all the arrows. They offer instruction too, sometimes even if it means others won’t like them. Take Lord Krishna for example,” she said while pointing to the book in her hand. “In this book He gave sound words of advice to the distressed warrior Arjuna. Krishna actually advised him to fight. That was the right thing to do at the time, but to this day so many less intelligent people criticize Him for advising Arjuna in such a way. What if He just decided to sit back?”

“What do you mean?” Rob asked.

“If He just sat back and let Arjuna quit, would that have been a good thing?”

“No, probably not.”

[Krishna and Arjuna]“Exactly. The leadership position He took was for Arjuna’s benefit. This little episode you have only relates to a tennis league for older men who want to get out of the house, away from their wives.”

“No, that’s not true,” Rob said smiling. “Okay, maybe a little, but definitely not the case with me,” he said with a wink.

“Anyway,” she continued. “You should take your experience as a blessing. It should make you appreciate more the spiritual leaders that we have. I remember last week we went to see that swami give a lecture, and you were complaining that he talked too much about himself and his stories from his youth.”

“Yeah, but you know I was kidding. I have respect for him, don’t get me wrong.”

“No, that’s fine, but just see what someone like that has to go through. It’s a thankless task. He gets criticized by everyone, though so many benefit just from hearing his chanting of the holy names. So many benefit from hearing from Krishna, the original and supreme leader of mankind, but hardly anyone appreciates Him. Krishna spoke strongly to Arjuna at times, chastising him for his sudden ignorance of the laws of propriety. Think of how our friends feel if we say anything bad to them. But if we’re really their friends, we try to help them. In the same way, Krishna is a friend to everyone. So He left us His conversation with Arjuna and so many other teachings by those leaders who follow in His footsteps.”

[Lord Krishna]After talking some more, Rob felt a little better about his situation. “Okay, thanks dear. I do feel much better. Maybe once this season is over, I’ll try reading that book a little more seriously. You might have to buy me a copy, as I can’t see you parting with yours for a moment.” Giving her a wink and a kiss, he went to sleep.

In Closing:

By judgments and words to make,

The leader arrows from all to take.


Still the counsel they freely give,

So that others with knowledge to live.


Though Krishna chastised times some,

Victory over doubts by Arjuna was won.


So the leaders in bhakti appreciate much more,

Spreading glories of Lord a thankless chore.

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The One With The Frozen Wiper Fluid

Posted by krishnasmercy on April 14, 2014

[Krishna's lotus feet]“In summary, to reach the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the highest goal, there are two processes: one process is by gradual development, and the other process is direct. Devotional service in Krishna consciousness is the direct method, and the other method involves renouncing the fruits of one’s activities. Then one can come to the stage of knowledge, then to the stage of meditation, then to the stage of understanding the Supersoul, and then to the stage of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. One may either take the step by step process or the direct path. The direct process is not possible for everyone; therefore the indirect process is also good.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 12.12 Purport)

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“All religions are the same,” Pete said very sharply to his father, who had been playing kirtana music in the car on their way to the local store to pick up hardware supplies. The father wasn’t up for arguing, for he didn’t feel the time called for it. “All paths lead to the same destination, so I don’t know why you keep talking to me about bhakti-yoga and stuff,” Pete continued. A few weeks later something happened that gave him a different understanding. It also gave Pete’s father an opening to elaborate on the glories of bhakti-yoga, devotional service, in more detail.

It was a typical work morning for Pete. It had snowed the night before, but based on where Pete’s car was parked, there wasn’t any snow to clear. He was ready for work, running a little late in fact. Though there was snow on the ground, the roads were more or less clear. “Okay, I should have a pretty smooth ride to work, “ he thought. But this would be unlike any other morning commute he had ever had.

[Salt on the windshield]Halfway through his journey, as per usual Pete got on a major highway. On that road the troubles started. Pete noticed that there was condensation on his windshield. He waited as long as he could until running the windshield wipers. Then he noticed some streaks that were left. “Ah, they salted the road. This has never been a problem before, so I should be fine.” As a habit, Pete hardly ever used his windshield wiper fluid that is standard in modern cars. He would get into debates with his friends over this practice. Pete would boast of how he could see through almost anything on the windshield and that he waited until true emergency situations to tap into the reservoir of wiper fluid.

This morning commute turned into an emergency situation very quickly. With the salt accumulating on the windshield, Pete ran the wipers again. This time there was a larger streak of salt residue left. It was getting very difficult to see. “No sweat. Let me run the wiper fluid,” he thought. But there was a problem. No fluid was coming out. It was very cold that morning, so there was the chance that the wiper fluid was frozen. “Aren’t these things not supposed to freeze,” Pete thought to himself. “I better pull over. This is getting ridiculous.” It was to the point that Pete could barely see the road in front of him. A very dangerous situation indeed, he was fortunate that an exit was fast approaching.

Taking the exit, Pete pulled into the first parking lot he could find. Getting out of the car, he took some snow that was on the ground and used it to wipe the windshield. “Boy, I hope I can make it to work. This is insane.” Stopping helped Pete for a little while, but once back on the highway the same problem arose again. Through good luck and a lot of prayer, Pete was able to make it to work, where he told his officemate Wade what had happened.

[Wiper fluid]“Yeah, your wiper fluid is probably frozen, though I find that surprising,“ surmised Wade.

“I mean I’ve seen the labels for those things. Aren’t they supposed to be good until negative twenty degrees?” asked Pete.

“They are, but you don’t know what kind of fluid is in there, right? When did you last fill it up with fluid?”

Pete explained that until that day he’d never once even opened the hood of the car, that the auto repair shop took care of all that for him. “Yeah, so they might have left the summer solution in there,” responded Wade. “They put different fluids in there because in the summer the winter fluid isn’t as good. It can evaporate and leave you in a similar predicament.”

Pete was still upset. He assumed that all fluids were the same. He also thought if there were indeed differences that the auto repair place would know which one to use. All that had to wait, though. He had a bigger problem ahead of him. The weather forecast showed that it wasn’t going to warm up again until the next morning. Worried of a similar terrifying commute on the way home, Pete called his father and asked for a ride.

After picking him up at the end of the day, Pete’s father heard the story of the morning commute.

“Yeah, so Dad, did you know that the wiper fluids are different based on the season?”

“Yes, I did.”

“That’s not right, though. Why not just keep the winter one in there all the time? Why don’t they tell people this?”

Pete’s father saw the chance now to continue the discussion from a few weeks prior about his son’s claim that all spiritual paths were the same.

“It comes down to desire, son. You made an assumption about the wiper fluid, but actually there is a reason for the difference. People have a different desire in the summer season as opposed to the winter. When you accept something, you have to know which desire it is suited towards. Just like with the discussion on religions we were having recently.”

“Oh boy,” sighed Pete. “Not this again.”

“Well, son, you should take this as a learning experience. The reason there are different religions and religious systems is that there are different desires. There are also different circumstances. In one era,the people may be more prone to killing. So the religion of that time focuses on sin and avoiding it. In another place, someone wants to be a great mystic. Another person in a different place wants a lot of wealth. So that’s why you get different systems.”

“What do you want, Dad? Are you saying that your religion is better than everyone else’s?”

“I’m not saying that I am anyone special, but the path of spiritual life I choose is tailored for those who don’t have any material desires. The sole objective is to connect with God, who is a personality. I have so many other desires and I think so many bad things, but I’m trying my best on this path. I know what it is, who it is suited for, and what to expect.”

Pete seemed a little more open to hearing his father out on this day. Perhaps it was the gratitude he felt for being saved from a dangerous ride home or perhaps he was genuinely interested. He continued to ask questions.

“But Dad, the wiper fluid example shows that in one time of the year something is favorable and in another time it’s not. Is your spiritual path missing something, then? Is it not appropriate for all time periods?”

“That’s a good question. Actually, all other paths are missing something. If you’re after money and wealth, you don’t have renunciation. If you’re after renunciation, you don’t have any possessions that could help you to do things. If you’re after mystic perfection, you’re lacking a guiding force once you get your abilities. The path I’ve chosen, which so many have followed since the beginning of time, is free of defects. It works all the time because it is the direct method of approaching the Supreme Personality of Godhead. You can take the direct method or the indirect method. Eventually you may decide to accept the direct method after having perfected the indirect method, but still the direct method is superior in all circumstances.”

[maha-mantra]When there was a lull in the conversation, Pete’s father decided to turn on the stereo and play music. Pete could then hear his father repeating that familiar mantra: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. They both heard this sacred sound all the way home. The next morning, Pete returned to his car to find that the wiper fluid was now unfrozen. With his father’s help, he quickly drained the fluid and replaced it with a winter-specific version.

“Thanks for everything, Dad. I’ll make sure to keep an eye out for this in the future.”

“No problem, son. And remember, anytime you’re in trouble, chant the maha-mantra. Chant it all the time, but if you can’t, then at least remember it when you’re in difficulty.”

In Closing:

Religions with different names,

In utility not all the same.


Depending on what exactly you wish,

Renunciation or opulence you cherish.


Follow bhakti when with all desires done,

A path complete, a defect not a one.


With regulations take method indirect,

Or straight devotion, success coming direct.

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The One With The Awakening

Posted by krishnasmercy on April 13, 2014

[Krishna's lotus feet]“The body is only a dead vehicle to be worked by the spirit soul, which is always active and cannot stop even for a moment. As such, the spirit soul has to be engaged in the good work of Krishna consciousness, otherwise it will be engaged in occupations dictated by illusory energy.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 3.5 Purport)

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It was a typical day at work for Brent. He was occupied in his programming and other daily tasks. In the office with him was Duncan, who was also hard at work. Things were going smoothly until Duncan complained out loud, “We’re getting snow again tomorrow.” The area had just seen a severe snowstorm, one that dropped a foot of snow where Brent lived. He particularly didn’t like to do manual labor. One of the reasons he chose programming as a field was because it allowed his mind to work. He didn’t have to get his hands dirty, so to speak.

[winter snow]Duncan’s pronouncement didn’t sit well with Brent, who immediately wondered if he would have to dig his car out again the next morning. More importantly, if the snowfall was during work hours, he would likely have to stay home, something he didn’t like to do.

“How much are we supposed to get?” Brent asked with hesitation.

“They’re saying four to six inches,” Duncan responded.

“Hot darn, forty-six inches?” Brent said in a loud voice, referencing an inside joke between the two of them. Several years prior, Duncan was asked by a coworker about an impending snowstorm. When he informed her that the forecast was for four to six inches, she misheard him. Startled, she responded, “Forty-six inches? Hot darn.” Ever since then that phrase had been an inside joke with Brent and Duncan.

“This winter has been terrible. This snow has got to stop,” said Brent.

“Seriously. It’s supposed to drop in the morning.”

“I think I’ll try to come in, then. Hopefully it won’t be too bad.”

When the next morning arrived, Brent was so tired from the night’s sleep that he forgot about the forecast. He considered staying in bed the whole day, such was his fatigue. But he never felt good about wasting a day away doing nothing, so he finally got out of bed and looked outside. “Hmm, this doesn’t look so bad,” he said to himself as he looked at the streets and his car covered in what seemed like a small amount of snow. “I am really tired, but this snow doesn’t look like it’s too much. Let me go out there and shovel. After everything is clear, I’ll decide whether or not I want to stay home and sleep.”

[Removing snow]In comparison with the recent storms that had hit the area, this snowfall was not much. Brent quickly shoveled the area at the end of the driveway and the neighboring sidewalks. An interesting thing happened in the process, however. He didn’t feel tired anymore. “Wow, I feel great. I definitely want to go to work now. Who knew? All I had to do was get up and be a little active. That woke me up even when I thought I didn’t have the energy to do anything.”

With his driveway now clear, his car cleaned, and his spirits uplifted, Brent went in to work as per normal. That night he received a call from his friend Joel.

“All is good with me, man. I’m calling you because one of the swamis from the local temple is going to do a program at our home this Friday night. It would be really cool if you could make it,” said Joel.

“Sure, of course. Should I bring anything?” asked Brent.

“Just your enthusiasm, as per usual. Did you go to work today? I saw you guys got more snow than we did.”

“Okay. Yeah, I went in. An interesting thing happened to me in the morning.”

Brent then explained everything to Joel about what had happened. He told of how his energy levels changed so quickly, just from doing some work. “I think it was a sense of accomplishment. I got some physical work in and that got the blood flowing.”

“It’s interesting that you mention that,” said Joel. “I was reading recently of an incident in Benjamin Franklin’s life. When he was living in Philadelphia, at one point there were so many wars going on and so many attacks coming from this group and that. He decided to form a voluntary army, and then he got nominated to be the leader. On one of their exercises, he noticed that the men in the army were happiest and most well-behaved when they had work to do. When they were idle, they were more unruly and upset.”

[Benjamin Franklin]“Oh, that’s interesting,” said Brent.

“Yeah, and so that’s similar to your experience. But you know there’s even a spiritual lesson you can take away from it.”

“What’s that?”

“Have you ever heard of Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati?”

“I think so, but I’m not sure.”

Joel then explained the concept of parampara, or disciplic succession, and how Bhaktisiddhanta was the spiritual master of His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. Joel explained further:

[Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura]“One of the things Bhaktisiddhanta would say is that one who has got life, he can preach.”

“Okay. What does that mean?” asked Brent.

“It can be understood in different ways. Someone who is alive can speak on the glories of the Supreme Lord. Someone who is active can instruct others on bhakti-yoga and how it is the constitutional occupation for the spirit soul. But it also has relevance to your experience, I think.”

“How so? And you know, people are often turned off by that word: ‘preach.’”

“That’s true. The Sanskrit equivalent is kirtanam, which actually just means ‘to describe.’ Preaching in bhakti-yoga means to describe the Supreme Lord. And doing that actually gives life to a person. When you start glorifying God you feel enlivened. And in that enlivened state, you can go on describing, without stop. Just look at Shrila Prabhupada. He wrote so many books, and they’re all kirtanam, describing God.” Joel then went into detail on how many books Prabhupada authored, at what stage in life they were written, and the process that went into publishing them.

“That’s just astounding,” said an incredulous Brent. “I can’t believe that one man could write so much.”

[Prabhupada writing]“Yes, but we know that it happened. So many others continue kirtanam in their own way. Like that singer whose YouTube video you sent me last week. He travels the world fulltime with his wife, singing at programs and speaking about bhakti-yoga. He doesn’t get tired because he is enlivened by glorifying God.”

“It makes sense, because when I’m at these programs and singing along to the chanting of the maha-mantra, I feel like I could keep going for hours.”

“See, that’s because it’s kirtanam, which gives life. Well anyway, I’m looking forward to seeing you on Friday. Let’s hope it doesn’t snow in the meantime.”

In Closing:

Though feeling tired are you,

Enlivened when some task to do.


Up bringing spirits your,

Welcome is newest chore.


This a spiritual lesson also to teach,

That he with life only can preach.


Glories of the Supreme always to sing,

Transcendental touch to others to bring.

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Talking About Exaggerated Praise

Posted by krishnasmercy on April 12, 2014

Krishna and Arjuna“Arjuna said: You are the Supreme Brahman, the ultimate, the supreme abode and purifier, the Absolute Truth and the eternal divine person. You are the primal God, transcendental and original, and You are the unborn and all-pervading beauty. All the great sages such as Narada, Asita, Devala, and Vyasa proclaim this of You, and now You Yourself are declaring it to me.” (Bhagavad-gita, 10.12-13)

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Bhagavad-gita, 10.12-13Inquisitive Mind: This Bhagavad-gita really is an interesting book.

Helpful Friend: It sure is.

IM: I’ve always had some belief in reincarnation. I like how Krishna describes it in terms of the changing bodies.

HF: It’s an easier way to understand it, for sure. Our initial tendency is to think of reincarnation only in terms of past lives. “Was I a king before? Did I live in a different country? Was I a bird who could soar into the sky?”

IM: And Krishna says that even in this body there is reincarnation. There is the change from boyhood to youth to old age. Then the next change takes place at death. I also like how He says that for one who takes birth, death is guaranteed and that for one who dies, birth is also assured.

HF: Yes. Those things are true, and knowing them makes it easier to deal with the loss of a loved one, which I believe is what led you to picking up a Gita, no?

IM: Correct. But you know me, I always have doubts. And I often like to bring those doubts to you, if you don’t mind?

HF: Go for it.

IM: The truths that Krishna presents make sense to me. The thing about the frustrated desire leading to anger and then from anger one does stupid things, I TOTALLY get that. I always think of how things would turn out when I would play tennis. I had a desire on a specific day to play a certain way. Then when I had trouble, I got angry. After enough anger, I threw my racket, which then broke. That was a completely stupid thing to do, but I couldn’t help myself. I was so frustrated. From Krishna’s teachings I understand the reasoning behind that now.

[broken tennis racket]HF: Yeah, frustrated desire brings us to do so many things we normally wouldn’t.

IM: And I like how Krishna explains that we should be honest, kind, truthful and the like. I have some issues with the devotional aspect, though, especially the surrender.

HF: That’s not surprising. That’s the most difficult thing to accept.

IM: I mean, we have similar statements in other religious texts. Isn’t it possible that Krishna is speaking metaphorically there?

HF: No.

IM: Like maybe He means we should surrender to the Krishna within us? He means the higher force living within, who is meant to guide us?

HF: That sounds nice, but there is no such thing as a “Krishna within.” Did you read about the Supersoul, the Paramatma.

IM: That rings a bell, but I don’t remember exactly.

HF: The Supersoul is Krishna’s expansion who resides within the heart. We are individual soul, or jivatma, and He is supreme soul, or paramatma. If there’s anything that closely matches the “Krishna-within” concept, it’s Paramatma. However, and this is very important to understand, Paramatma IS Krishna. It is not separate from Him. It is the same person.

IM: So we’re all Krishna?

HF: We’re all parts and parcels of Krishna. We all have Krishna living with us. We just can’t see Him. The collection of individual spiritual sparks is also another way to understand Krishna, but He is still always an individual personality, a separate living entity.

[Krishna and Arjuna]IM: I see, but isn’t that just your interpretation? Don’t other commentaries on the Gita deny that fact or explain it differently?

HF: Ah, I see. That’s your problem. There is only one interpretation. Everything else is bogus. You don’t have to take my word for it. Arjuna himself says that Krishna is supreme. There is a verse where he praises Krishna very nicely, calling Him the Supreme God, the original person, and so many other laudatory terms.

IM: I did see that. Krishna gives Arjuna all this wisdom, and then Arjuna praises Krishna to the hilt. But keeping with my doubts, isn’t it possible that Arjuna was exaggerating a little? They were friends prior to this discussion, no?

HF: Very good friends.

IM: And friends sometimes like to praise each other, especially if someone does something good.

HF: That’s true.

IM: And here Arjuna had a specific interest. He was doubtful prior to a great war. Krishna removed those doubts. So naturally Arjuna would want to embellish Krishna’s qualities a little bit, to repay the favor done to him. That’s what any good friend would do.

HF: Friends are known to act that way. Even strangers, if they have favors done for them they will exaggerate the qualities of the person who helped them.

[Rigatoni Vodka]IM: Exactly. Let me tell you a quick story. Many years back our company was forming a partnership with an overseas company. They were going to use our software in their call center. This company had offices spread throughout their particular country, so this deal had tremendous potential. One week they sent their leading people to come visit our facility. One of the days we took them out for lunch at this Italian place. It was a little upscale, and we were semi-regulars there. After being seated, we made some recommendations to our guests on what to order. When the food came out, their leading guy took one bite from the pasta and declared it to be the best Italian food he had ever tasted. The people from our company gave each other a subtle look of disbelief. We understood that this guy was a little full of it, that he was just trying to be nice to us for the purpose of making this deal. I mean he had barely touched the dish. The food was good, but a typical person would not declare it to be the best food they had ever tasted. As it turned out the deal didn’t go through, but we always remembered that incident. We’d always joke to each other, “This is the BEST Italian food I’ve ever had.”

HF: That’s a funny story.

IM: So isn’t it possible that Arjuna exaggerated on who Krishna was since he was so happy to have received transcendental knowledge?

HF: Well, again, only a cheating commentator would opine as such, since in the very next verse Arjuna backs up his claim.

IM: What do you mean?

HF: As if he knew that people would not believe him because of his friendship with Krishna, Arjuna gave supporting evidence. He said that great sages of the Vedic tradition all said the same things about Krishna. Asita, Devala, Narada and Vyasa all agreed with Arjuna.

IM: Vyasa? That sounds familiar.

HF: Yeah, he compiled almost all of the Vedic literature. Some of the same fools who deny Krishna’s existence also say that Vyasa didn’t exist. This is because they can’t believe that a single man wrote so much. But he did exist, he did write so much, and he says that without a doubt Krishna is all those things that Arjuna described Him to be.

[Lord Krishna]IM: I see.

HF: And let me tell you something. If you stay hung up on this point, if you think that Krishna isn’t real or that there is some Krishna-within that should be worshiped instead, you will not get anything from the Bhagavad-gita.

IM: Really?

HF: Seriously. There’s plenty of other things to read, including parts of Vyasa’s very own Mahabharata, on how to deal with stress, be kind, be virtuous, and find material success in life. The Bhagavad-gita is different because it is meant for the fulfillment of the soul’s true desires. The message is potent both because of the content and the messenger.

IM: Great, thanks for clearing up my doubts. I’ll be sure to bring any new ones to you, should they arise.

HF: I wouldn’t have it any other way.

In Closing:

For friend who helped in countless ways,

On them to heap endless praise.


To claim that they are this and that,

In kindness no worry on being exact.


Arjuna to Krishna did this too,

Except words were totally true.


For support to sages of repute referred,

To Krishna’s supreme standing they all concurred.

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The One With The Starter Motor

Posted by krishnasmercy on April 11, 2014

[Lord Vishnu's disc]“An atheist may argue that God is no more expert than a watchmaker, but of course God is greater because He can create machines in duplicate male and female forms. The male and female forms of different types of machineries go on producing innumerable similar machines without God’s further attention. If a man could manufacture such a set of machines that could produce other machines without his attention, then he could approach the intelligence of God. But that is not possible, for each machine has to be handled individually. Therefore, no one can create as well as God.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 1.1.1 Purport)

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“How did she do this? There’s no way this can be right. Can it?” These were the questions Patrick asked of himself as he looked over the homework assignment completed by his twin sister Anna. The two were enrolled in a basic automobile repair class at the time. In the recent months, they had run into much car trouble. The tires weren’t maintained very well on the family car. Their parents themselves weren’t very much up to speed on how to take care of a car. Therefore the twins decided to take matters into their own hands.

[Auto repair]Though they both enrolled in the class, Patrick assumed that he would excel. “Women aren’t so great with this stuff,” he thought to himself, as he noticed that Anna was only one of two females in the class. “I’m sure Anna will need my help.” But as the course went along, it was Patrick who had trouble. Anna seemed to already be familiar with the different parts of the car. She picked up on new things very quickly. Patrick’s progress was slower. He didn’t pay much attention to the lessons of the teacher, thinking that he would be able to figure things out for himself.

Then came the big project. Each student had to construct a starter motor, which would then be tested in the classroom. Anna finished hers very quickly, while Patrick couldn’t figure out how to do it. In looking at Anna’s completed motor at home, Patrick thought that maybe if he took it apart he would be able to construct his own by himself. Just as he was about to take it apart late at night, the light went on in the kitchen.

“What do you think you’re doing?” asked Anna.

“Umm nothing. I was just checking out your motor. I wanted to make sure it was done right. I didn’t want you to get embarrassed in the class tomorrow,” responded Patrick.

“Uh huh. Sure. If you need help with yours, you can just ask.”

[Starter motor]“I don’t need help. Someone probably helped you. I think this is impossible to construct. The teacher didn’t give us all the necessary parts. He probably built yours for you.”

Anna smiled as she heard these sour grapes from her brother. “Well, I’m going to keep this in my room tonight, if you don’t mind.” As she left the room with her finished motor, Patrick was now out of luck. He couldn’t figure out how to construct his own motor. Resigned to the inevitable failure, he went to sleep. Early the next morning Anna woke up and secretly constructed Patrick’s motor for him in the kitchen. Later on, Patrick was surprised when his motor worked in the classroom. Anna eventually told him what she did, and Patrick was sincerely touched by the kind gesture.

A few months later the entire episode was brought up again when Patrick went to his grandfather’s house one afternoon for lunch. His grandfather was known to be very pious, keeping religious paraphernalia around the house. He was always chanting on these beads, repeating, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.” After the meal Patrick decided to give voice to some of his curiosity.

“Grandpa, do you really think there is a God?”

“Sure I do.”

“But what about all the bad things that happen to people? We see tragedies on the news all the time. If there is a God, how could He allow that to happen?”

“Well, things aren’t so simple. You have to know karma and the difference between matter and spirit to understand how everything fits into the larger scheme.”

“Grandpa, I will admit to you that I don’t really believe in God. I’ve had too much trouble in my life. I think man just invented God as a way to deal with the horrors of life. I don’t think there is a God, otherwise we would be able to see Him.”

His grandfather then took the opportunity to bring up the incident with the car motor, which took Patrick by surprise. “Well, dear son, do you remember that automobile class you took with your sister, and how she was able to construct that motor and you weren’t?”

“Oh no. Who told you? I bet it was Mom.”

The grandfather laughed. “Yes, but don’t worry. That stuff happens to all of us. Your sister is very intelligent, and so you should be proud of her for that. Anyway, in that incident I heard that you were so frustrated that you accused your sister of cheating. You said something to the effect that it was impossible for any person to build that motor, that she must have received help. Am I right?”

“Yes. I was angry. I’m not proud of what I said.”

“That’s okay, but the atheist attitude is very similar. They are frustrated with what they see in life. They don’t always get what they want. More importantly, however, they don’t follow protocol. If you follow the divine path, you’re actually able to see God. If you don’t, then you’ll think that it’s impossible to see Him and that He doesn’t exist.”

His grandfather then went into an explanation of the difference between matter and spirit. He explained how the individual is Brahman, or pure spirit, and how everything else is maya, or illusion.

“When the atheist is driven by illusion, how can they expect to see clearly? They drink, they kill innocent animals, they cheat, and they don’t control their senses. Actually, we all have these tendencies. When someone follows the regulative principles of devotional service, thereby developing austerity, cleanliness, truthfulness and austerity, they can actually see God. They follow the right path and thus witness what they previously thought to not exist.”

“Oh, I see,” said Patrick. “I never thought of it like that before. That makes sense, though. I kind of coasted in that class, and so that’s why I didn’t know how to make that motor properly. Anna, on the other hand, listened to everything the teacher said. She was a good student.”

“So while creating a motor is a kind of art form that requires some discipline and instruction, understanding and seeing God is infinitely more complex and difficult. It is a genuine science and not so much an art form. You have to follow the principles as they are handed down through a chain of teachers. In this age especially it’s very difficult, so the umbrella principle, the one that covers everything, is the chanting of the holy names, which you’ve probably heard me do.”

[Japa bead bags]Patrick pointed to his grandfather’s bead bag that was around his shoulder. “So is that what you’re always chanting on those beads? You’re following the method to see God?”

“Yes, the sound of the holy name creates His presence. Don’t ask me how that works. I was skeptical at first also, but through enough practice I can definitely feel Him here. And once you do, you never want Him to go away. You understand how everything else works, also. The big puzzle becomes easier to understand.”

After talking a little more, Patrick prepared to leave. “I have a lot of homework to do, Grandpa, but I want to talk more about this the next time I am here. Is that okay?”

His grandfather happily told him to come by any time.

In Closing:

Though to make machine simple,

For reference require example.


In wrong way becoming impossible,

Through proper path easily possible.


When in life’s journey frustrated,

Fools to think God man created.


Regulative principles, taking way that is right,

See God always, be blessed with divine sight.

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The One With The Counseling Session

Posted by krishnasmercy on April 10, 2014

[Krishna's lotus feet]“An intelligent person does not take part in the sources of misery, which are due to contact with the material senses. O son of Kunti, such pleasures have a beginning and an end, and so the wise man does not delight in them.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 5.22)

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Bhagavad-gita, 5.22Judy wasn’t feeling herself for the past few weeks. To the outside observer, she had no reason to feel this way. She lived in a happy home with her husband, who was very dear to her. Her children were all healthy. The older ones were married, with one having children on the way. The youngest one just went away to college.

Unable to pinpoint the cause of her melancholy, Judy took a drastic step. She made an appointment with a psychiatrist. Very nervous on her way into the office on the day of the appointment, she felt a little embarrassed while sitting in the waiting room. When the receptionist said those magic words, “The doctor will see you now,” the gravity of the situation finally hit her.

[Psychiatrist's office]When seated on the couch and facing the doctor, realizing that this was a complete stranger Judy felt comfortable enough to vent some of her problems.

“So why are you here, Mrs. Smith?”

“Well, lately I haven’t been feeling myself.”

“Okay. Can you explain a little bit more?”

“Well, my husband is working all the time. I love him dearly, don’t get me wrong. It just seems that his job, which is very stressful, takes up too much of his time. When he comes home, he really doesn’t feel in the mood to go out or do anything.”

“Okay. Have you tried talking to him about this?”

“Well, I don’t feel like burdening him with my problems. I don’t want to give him another reason to feel stressed. Also, maybe it’s not him. The children are all out of the house now. Maybe I’m suffering the ‘empty nest’ syndrome. The kids would always come to us with their problems. They always needed help. I had something to do all the time. Now I feel empty. I feel without a purpose.”

Judy continued speaking in this way until the hour was up. To her surprise, the doctor reached for his prescription pad.

“You’re giving me pills?”

“Well, these might help. It could be that there’s a chemical imbalance.”

Perplexed, Judy shyly took the prescription paper and went home. In her mind, her problems were not solved and she really didn’t feel comfortable taking any medication. “My problems can’t be related to chemicals, can they?”

[Bhagavad-gita As It Is]A few years back, one of Judy’s good friends had given her a Bhagavad-gita As It Is to read. “This will change your life and answer all your questions. From everything to birth and death to happiness and sadness is covered in this work,” said her friend Jane when handing the book to her. Judy appreciated the gift, but she wasn’t much of a reader. She also thought that Jane was a little more into exploring than she was. Judy considered such things to be “new age” and not necessarily within her realm of interest.

Now more curious and in a little distress, Judy considered picking up the book to read, but the sheer volume of it overwhelmed her. She decided to do the next best thing, meet with her friend Jane. Judy called her to come over the house the next day.

When Jane arrived it didn’t take long for the good friends to get down to the heart of the issue.

“I can tell something is wrong, I can just feel it,” said Jane.

“How did you know? Yes, I have been distressed lately,” replied Judy, who then went into detail about her problems. She repeated practically verbatim everything she had told her psychiatrist. She also explained that he gave her a prescription.

“What do you think? You think I should take these pills?” asked a worried Judy.

“Well, I’m not going to pretend to be a doctor, so I can’t speak on the pills. I will say that your problem sounds pretty common. Remember that Bhagavad-gita I gave you a while ago?”

“Yes, I was actually thinking of reading it.”

“Okay, so there’s a verse in there which says something to the effect that a wise person doesn’t take part in things which are the sources of misery, because those sources have a beginning and an end. It basically means that everything in material life comes and goes. One second we are living in happiness and the next we are in sadness.”

“Oh, okay. I feel that way now. I was happy and now I’m really sad. I’ve done so much and had so much around me, but I still feel a kind of void.”

“Yes, that’s totally natural. The philosophy presented in that book is that we are all individuals, spirit souls at the core. Our natural inclination is to serve, and only in service to the Supreme Soul do we find transcendental happiness. Since we’re born into ignorance, we take the bottom up approach first. We love our parents, our siblings, our pets, our spouse, our children, etc. In the top-down approach, you worship and love God first, and then that automatically makes you affectionate for others.”

“Interesting. So basically that void I’m feeling is the lack of a loving relationship with God?”

[Krishna's lotus feet]“Right. It’s hard to realize. It’s difficult even for someone to accept that God exists. So the void is always there to some degree. You’re very fortunate, if you think about it. Most people will try to ignore the problem, throwing themselves into this thing and that. The least fortunate make the mistake of relying on chemicals to give them a false escape.”

“You know, hearing that from you makes a lot of sense. I’ve always wondered about these celebrities who have everything and then take to drugs and alcohol. It must be that their fame and fortune do not equate to happiness.”

“Yes, so the philosophy is that love for God, which is known as bhakti-yoga, is a fulltime occupation. You can practice it anywhere and everywhere. It is the eternal occupation, sanatana-dharma.”

The two friends continued to converse in this way for the rest of the afternoon. Judy was so happy to have called Jane. As Jane was leaving for home, Judy promised to make time to see her more often.

“I feel so much better now. I’m so glad I called you. Hopefully we can see each other again. You can keep me from going crazy and I can keep giving you questions to answer.”

“That sounds like a deal,” said Jane with a smile as she departed.

In Closing:

Material pleasures with beginning and end,

Wise soul thus takes no part in them.


That initial oncoming happiness,

Bound for ending made of distress.


How with such cycle to cope?

Devotional service the only hope.


A life dedicated to God make,

Hold of better future in hands take.

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The One With The Haughty Messenger

Posted by krishnasmercy on April 9, 2014

[Shri Hanuman's hand]“Even a decision on what should be done and should not be done made with intelligence does not bring good results. Indeed, messengers who falsely consider themselves to be learned ruin the task at hand.” (Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 30.38)

artha anartha antare buddhiḥ niścitā api na śobhate ||
ghātayanti hi kāryāṇi dūtāḥ paṇḍita māninaḥ |

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Dilip’s two sons, Agraj and Anuj, were enjoying their Saturday, which was usually reserved for play and relaxation. They were in school and old enough to start receiving homework on the weekends, but for this particular three-day holiday weekend they didn’t get any homework.

“Seriously, your teacher gave you nothing?” asked Dilip.

“For real, Dad. We didn’t get any homework,” responded the two sons, who pleaded with their father to believe what they were saying.

“I know every trick in the book. Don’t think your old man is a fool. I invented the ‘we didn’t get any homework’ excuse. You’re not going to get me with that one.”

But seeing that his sons were not budging from their stance, Dilip decided to extend them the benefit of the doubt. He let them play on Saturday as they wished. When Sunday came along, however, the father changed his attitude. After having seen his two sons, who were normally energetic and full of life, spend an entire day on the couch playing videogames and watching movies, Dilip decided it was time for a change.

[Tecmo Bowl video game]“Okay, listen up,” he said very loudly as he entered the living room. “The television gets turned off in an hour. Then Agraj, I need you to clean your room and vacuum upstairs. Anuj, I need you to rake the lawn. The leaves are piling up and it doesn’t look nice.”

“But Dad, it’s a three day weekend. We didn’t get any homework, either,” complained the boys.

“Exactly. So now you have free time to do some work. Agraj, I want the entire upstairs spotless. I want you to be diligent. And Anuj, make sure all the leaves are picked up. Once you get the piles together, put the leaves in trash bags and leave them by the curb for the garbage people to pick up tomorrow. Am I clear?”

“Yes, Dad,” said the two boys in unison. After an hour they reluctantly went about starting their chores. Agraj first cleaned his room. He put all his dirty socks, pants and shirts in the hamper. Then he threw out the loose papers and other odd things that he didn’t have a need for. Then he went about vacuuming his room and every other room upstairs.

[Raking fall leaves]Anuj’s task also went rather smoothly, at first. On the inside he was happy to have gotten the raking assignment. At least he got to be outside. He didn’t like vacuuming, either. His chore was very straightforward. He was told what to do and how to do it, but towards the end of the task, he had some doubts as to his father’s logic. Anuj thought to himself, “Why should I put all these bags of leaves on the curb? The garbage people might complain. A bird can come by and poke a hole, causing a mess everywhere.”

In looking around, the neighbor’s yard caught his eye, and an idea dawned on him. The neighbors had already raked their lawn. Instead of placing the bags by the curb, they had stored them at the side of the house, where they kept their trash cans. Anuj decided he would place his bags of leaves there as well. “No one will know, and this way there’s no chance of there being a mess on the curb.” He carefully placed each bag in the stash with the neighbors’ and then went inside.

Towards the end of the day, Dilip saw that everything was clean upstairs and that the lawn was free of leaves. “Good job, guys. I’m proud of you,” he told his sons. All seemed well until the doorbell rang in the early evening. Agraj and Anuj were in the living room, and so they could only hear the yelling that was coming from the front door area. They could hear their father saying, “I’m sorry,” over and over again, but they had no idea what was going on.

When Dilip returned to the living room, he looked extremely upset. “Agraj, please go to your room. I need to speak to your brother, alone.” Agraj quickly headed upstairs, all the while wondering what was going on.

“Anuj, this morning when I gave you your assignment, what did I tell you to do with the bags of leaves?”

“To place them by the curb.”

“Yes. So why did the neighbors just come over and yell at me for placing our trash in their pile?”

Anuj then explained to his father how he thought the idea of placing them on the curb wasn’t good. He thought it would be easier to mix the trash bags in with the neighbors’ pile. He thought that no harm would be done by this.

“Anuj, let me tell you a story. You’ve heard of Shri Hanuman, right?”


[Shri Hanuman]“Well, during one point in the Ramayana he offers us an intelligent truth about what happens when messengers think that they are smarter than they really are. He says that even if a decision has been made on what to do and what not to do, using intelligence, the whole plan could get spoiled by the messenger who thinks himself to be too intelligent.”

Dilip continued, “Your mistake today reminds me of Hanuman’s words. So in that sense I can’t be too angry at you, for anytime a person can remember Hanuman they gain a tremendous benefit. Still, you should take that lesson from him. I gave you a task to do. I gave you the instructions. You were so close to completing it. It wasn’t that difficult a task. But at the end you thought that you were smarter than you were, and so your ill-advised action ruined the entire plan.”

“But Dad,” interrupted Anuj, “what’s the big deal? It was just a bunch of leaves. There was no real harm done.”

“Well, this brings us to another lesson you can take from Shri Hanuman. As you know, Shri Rama, the Supreme Lord, gave Hanuman the task of finding the Lord’s missing wife, Sita Devi. Hanuman was very careful in his mission. He never thought himself to be too smart, even though he is millions of times smarter than both you and I combined. He thought that even the slightest mistake would upset Rama, for whom he cared deeply. If someone as great as Hanuman is so careful when taking up tasks for others, we should be the same way. It is one of the many reasons that Hanuman is so dear to Rama.”

Though being reprimanded, Anuj was not so worried. He found that hearing about Shri Hanuman eased his worries over his punishment that was soon to come. He begged his father to tell him more about Hanuman and his adventures in pleasing Rama and finding Sita. Dilip gladly obliged, and soon Agraj returned downstairs and joined them in this most important history lesson.

In Closing:

When ill-advised action he takes,

Messenger mess of things makes.


Even if success obvious and foretold,

Spoiled by unwise move, risky and bold.


Intelligence in pleasing Rama use,

Then wisely in circumstances to choose.


Since to beloved Lord so dear,

Path to pleasing Him to become clear.

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Keeping The Heart Calm

Posted by krishnasmercy on April 8, 2014

[Rama's lotus feet]“Then to Rama and His brothers Janaka requested many times. With tears in his eyes and a throat choked up, he tried to keep his heart calm.” (Janaki Mangala, 175)

bhāinha sahita bahori binaya raghubīrahi |
gadagada kanṭha nayana jala ura dhari dhīrahiṃ ||

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It’s a common scene. A famous athlete has decided to hang it up. The decision wasn’t easy. Once he ruled the sport. He was the leading scorer, the most valuable player, and accustomed to hoisting the championship trophy. Writers were in competition with one another to be the first to tag him as the “greatest of all-time.” But that same time went to work on his skills. Eventually, his abilities diminished to the point that he was no longer valuable enough to keep on a team.

[Jerry Rice retirement]A press conference is scheduled where the player is expected to announce their retirement. They step up to the microphone, offer a few pleasantries, and then explain why it is they no longer will compete in the sport that has been their life since a very young age. Though they try, at one point they begin to shed tears. “I promised so and so I wouldn’t do this,” they say, as they fight back the tears and the choked throat. But the moment is too intense for them to hold back. They think of all the sacrifices others made for them. They think of all that they will miss. Though they never cry otherwise, at that moment they cannot hold back.

Indeed, others feel similarly helpless in situations specific to their lives. When they least expect it, as if they have no control over their body, they begin to shed tears. King Janaka faced that a long time ago, except his loss of control was rooted in love for the person each one of us has loved deep inside for the longest time. The individual can be identified best by the spirit soul residing within the body. Though that is the last thing with which we choose to identify, it is the only force that remains steady. We have difficulty realizing it is there until it finally leaves, at the time of death.

All of the individual’s emotions are rooted in the soul’s natural love for God. Hatred, envy, anger and the like are the inverse of the loving propensity. Like an upside down mirror, they still belong to the same source as the converse emotions of affection, kindness, and attachment. When pure love for God reawakens, there is ecstasy. That emotion is so strong that it is impossible to control. It rushes in like a tidal wave, especially when one is in the presence of the loveable object, the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

[Lord Rama]Here Janaka is bidding adieu to Shri Rama and His three younger brothers. All four were just married through Janaka’s arrangement. Thus they are leaving home and taking with them the precious daughters dear to the community of Janakpur. In this verse from the Janaki Mangala it is said that Janaka is constantly requesting Rama. His throat is choked up and tears fill his eyes, and he tries to keep his heart steady. If you don’t have control over your emotions, how will you speak? If you’re overcome with intense affection, it will be difficult for the words to come out.

Janaka steadied himself enough to make his heartfelt plea to Rama, asking that He always remember them. Unlike the individual living entity, God is without flaw. He never falls down. He never fails to deliver on something needed for the devotee. Since His presence within the consciousness is the most important boon anyone could ask for, it is granted immediately upon request. Especially when someone as pious and respected as Janaka asks, the gift remains manifest all the time, never to be hidden away through a temporary fall into the material ocean of attachment, aversion, greed, selfishness and envy.

Just as Janaka fought his emotions to make his kind request to the Supreme Lord standing in front of him, the devoted souls who always chant the holy names have a difficult time keeping their emotions in check. Just hearing the name “Rama” brings to mind the dearest son of King Dasharatha. When they hear the name again, they remember how happy He made Janaka by winning the contest of the bow. They have trouble keeping the tears from coming when they remember Rama’s dearest wife Sita, who is the beloved daughter of Janaka.

[Mother Yashoda with Krishna]When they hear the name “Krishna” they think of the darling of Vrindavana, who roamed this earth as the affectionate son of mother Yashoda and Nanda Maharaja. They get choked up thinking about how He transformed a humble fruit vendor’s products into jewels when they made a kind offering to Him. The name brings to mind the famous lecture on all matters of life that Krishna gave on the battlefield to the distressed warrior Arjuna. The name reminds them of the shelter Krishna provides through lifting giant mountains like Govardhana.

As the name brings so much joy, it is no wonder that the heart has a difficult time remaining calm in the presence of the Supreme Lord, who is non-different from His names. So many names are there to keep the devoted soul always in ecstasy, and so these souls never tire of reciting those names. Janaka was able to make his requests, and Rama immediately granted them. In the same way, Rama immediately comes to the souls who chant His names in a pure way.

In Closing:

So much potency in holy name,

To Supreme Lord it is the same.


Just by one time purely saying,

Pastimes in mind start playing.


As Rama and brothers to leave ready,

Janaka made requests, keeping heart steady.


Of pure souls wish immediately to grant,

To deny King Janaka and others He can’t.

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