Krishna's Mercy

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Archive for May, 2012

Breaking the Barrier

Posted by krishnasmercy on May 31, 2012

Krishna pastimes“With a poor fund of knowledge, we cannot adjust to the idea of the personality of the Absolute Truth, and the personal activities of the Lord are deplored by the less intelligent impersonalists; but reasons and arguments together with the transcendental process of approaching the Absolute Truth help even the staunch impersonalist to become attracted by the personal activities of the Lord.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 2.1.9 Purport)

It’s difficult to believe with certainty that there is a supreme personality who possesses distinguishable features when you’ve spent your entire life not contemplating such a person. During times of trouble, you may have called out to an abstract figure known as “God”, but never did you know the nature of His enchanting smile, the unique complexion of His body, the preciousness of His features, or the reasons for His advents. You may have tried to conjure up the cause for His personal intervention from time to time, but never were you actually certain. Therefore when hearing about this information from the confident Vaishnava preacher, there might be some apprehension. Nevertheless, in spite of all past prejudices and ignorance based on mentally created theories, when reason and argument are placed together in the proper context, that Supreme Lord’s vision can be taken full advantage of.

The opulences of Bhagavan are meant to be exploited for personal enjoyment. There is a difference with this practice, however. In the absence of divine association, the cherished desire is for personal enjoyment to the point that we have more than anyone else. More money, more clothes, more shoes, more time off, more ways to enjoy after hard work in different ventures. The desire for enjoyment comes from the fact that we are all purusha, or spirit. Dull matter is prakriti, which is the material nature. Purusha enjoys prakriti.

Radha and KrishnaBut there is a more powerful purusha, who controls even us. We are meant for His enjoyment, so to Him we are His prakriti. Yet when He enjoys it brings to us the highest pleasure as well, so the two parties become essentially one in the ideal relationship. This is witnessed in the dealings between Lord Krishna and Shrimati Radharani. Krishna is God and Radha His immediate pleasure potency expansion. They are considered one because when they are together, always immersed in wonderful, loving thoughts, there is no question of a difference. Each person plays an integral role in the resulting relationship.

When the expansions are broken in consciousness from the Supreme Lord, differences arise. The individual souls think they are alone, capable of enjoying independently, but with this flawed notion, they find only misery, in lifetime after lifetime. The localized prakriti changes for them through the influence of time, and at death a new set of elements to be enjoyed is provided for the next life.

Of course that enjoyment is only temporary, something like from a dream. It is sometimes also considered false, or illusory. Real enjoyment is with the Supreme Lord in a mood of affection. To become more convinced of the need for that enjoyment, Krishna distributes His gospel to worthy recipients, who then pass it on to humble and sincere students.

The crux of the instruction is to follow the path that keeps Krishna in one’s life. That path is known as bhakti-yoga, or devotional service. Of course to hear of surrender unto a divine personality resembles sectarianism or blind ideology, so there is perfect argument and reason to go along with the bhakti path to make it stand out. Ironically enough, the philosophical points are of secondary importance to the surrendered souls on the highest platform of worship. They love Krishna, and from that position they get the requisite knowledge to continue that love and teach others how to reach that same platform.

From the reason perspective, we know that in the present condition we are not happy. If we were content, we would have no reason to read books on how to fix things. The self-help books on the shelves of the bookstores would never sell a single copy. The diet and nutrition experts would never be heard, and there would be no such thing as counseling. The misery is concomitant with separation from the divine consciousness, so the benefit of approaching a bona fide spiritual master of the Vedic tradition shouldn’t be difficult to understand. He can be thought of as the best self-help instructor.

Shrila PrabhupadaThe pillars of bhakti practice are chanting and hearing, which are simultaneously taken care of through outward recitation of the holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”. These names are non-different from the person they address. Thus saying Krishna is as good as being next to Him. Rama addresses His incarnations of Lord Rama or Lord Balarama respectively. Rama also speaks to God’s ability to give transcendental pleasure to others.

We already chant and hear so many different things, so the chanting and hearing aspects of bhakti-yoga sound pretty reasonable. The recommendation is to chant the above mentioned mantra for at least sixteen rounds a day on a japa mala, which is a rosary containing one hundred and eight beads, with the mantra chanted once per bead. It is a difficult routine to adopt and follow at the outset, but the transcendental nature of the process combined with some determination in the devotee makes the process more pleasurable with time. The seasoned devotee will not give up their chanting routine for anything, not even millions of dollars.

This brings us to the argument section. How can you argue against chanting and hearing? You know that material nature brings you temporary rewards already, so what are you really losing by hearing these transcendental sound vibrations authorized and made famous by Lord Chaitanya, the preacher incarnation of Krishna? Life is about finding pleasure, and following regulation is the pathway that leads to pleasure under all circumstances. You follow guiding principles already, so why should they be absent in the highest pursuit known to man?

The regulation aspect of bhakti is to avoid behavior that is most damaging to the consciousness, as the thought processes of the mind are what you are trying to change. Never mind if you are young or old, rich or poor, unwise or intelligent, your mind will constantly work. If it can be trained to swim in the ocean of transcendental nectar, what chance is there for the common pitfalls of life, such as depression, anger, rage, frustration, and jealousy? All such inauspicious conditions are due to a false identification with the body and a lack of awareness of the magnanimous nature of the Supreme Lord.

Lord KrishnaBy avoiding intoxication, meat eating, gambling and illicit sex, the progress in the purification of consciousness accelerates to a rapid pace. At the same time, an eagerness to hear more about Krishna develops. Thankfully there is no shortage of available material in this area. Beginning with the Bhagavad-gita, continuing with the Shrimad Bhagavatam, and then culminating with the Chaitanya Charitamrita, there is so much transcendental work available for the eyes to feast on. Reading is as good as hearing because the words are nothing more than recorded sound vibrations of exalted personalities. Due to the mercy of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the aforementioned books and many other works on bhakti-yoga are available for reference. The ancient truths of Vedanta are presented in a way that is understandable, and yet which constantly reveals new profundities, arguments that are accepted with more understanding with each subsequent reading.

The barrier to the spiritual world is purposefully thick, for why should Krishna grant entry to His kingdom to those who don’t want it? At best we can create auspicious conditions that make the awakening of the divine consciousness more likely to happen for others, but for love to manifest, there must be an interest in all the parties involved. The sacred sounds of the maha-mantra and the cogent and thought-provoking words of wisdom coming directly from Krishna help to break that barrier.

In Closing:

That Supreme Lord could have form and attributes hard to believe,

The senses trained to rely only on sight in this way deceive.

 

But know that there is a way to break through that barrier,

Consult recorded instructions of Krishna and His message’s carrier.

 

To find real pleasure in life your mind is set,

And from bhakti-yoga this you’ll certainly get.

 

In this endeavor some reason and logic apply,

To know that soul’s home is in spiritual sky.

 

To follow devotional principles in regulation a vow make,

From supreme wisdom of Vedas your ignorance to forsake.

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Keeping The Eyes Peeled

Posted by krishnasmercy on May 30, 2012

Shri Hanuman“From this spot I shall see Vaidehi, who is so desperately seeking the sight of Rama. Moving here and there, afflicted with grief, perhaps she will pass by this way.” (Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 14.42)

ito drakṣyāmi vaidehīm rāma darśana lālasām |
itaḥ ca itaḥ ca duhkha ārtām sampatantīm yadccayā ||

Herein Shri Hanuman continues to rely on his high knowledge to succeed in a mission of intelligence gathering. Tasked with finding a missing princess who could be anywhere in the world, Hanuman’s radar was finally locked in on a target, getting ever so closer to reaching the final destination. This Ashoka grove must be the place where she was, for the entire land of Lanka had been searched already. The island was where an eagle, whose vision is impeccable from even long distances, had spotted her, so if the princess of Videha were still alive, she would likely be in this grove.

Valmiki’s Ramayana provides detail about the beauty of this park of trees that was situated near the head palace. The ruler of Lanka lived in the city, and therefore a network of buildings constituted the skyline of Lanka. As a dexterous and agile Vanara, Hanuman could leap from building to building and enter the tiniest of spaces also. Using a massive stature, he had crossed the ocean through the air, accepting the aid of the wind. But now Hanuman was back to a more natural habitat, a serene forest abounding with trees and flowers.

Radha and KrishnaThere were nice mountains in the background, and some of the trees had a golden hue. Hanuman picked one particular tree to act as his surveying perch. A hunch told him that this area was where the daughter of King Janaka would be moving about. In a swoon of devotional ecstasy, the lover separated from their beloved Supreme Lord looks for Him here and there. Many years into the future, the same Sita as Shrimati Radharani would wander in the Vrindavana forest looking for her beloved Shri Krishna, who would separate from her on a regular basis due to the situation at hand. Many thousands of years after that Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu would desperately seek out the same Krishna, following in the mood of Shrimati Radharani.

Hanuman knew that Sita would be in this mood because of her love for Rama. Her husband was the Supreme Lord Himself and His qualities endeared Him to His wife, who married Him in a grand ceremony in Janakpur. It is customary for a wife married under religious principles to devote herself to her husband, but in Sita’s case the devotion went well beyond protocol. She was attracted by her husband’s beauty, strength, charm, and overall kind nature. She genuinely enjoyed His company and she used the responsibilities of her position as an excuse to remain close to the person she loved the most. On one occasion Rama tried to keep her away, to go to the forest alone, but Sita convinced Him otherwise by invoking the rules and regulations stressed on the devoted wife in a marriage of the Vedic style.

“Whether it be residence on top of a palace, traveling on airplanes, or flying through the sky (via yogic powers), in all circumstances the shade of the husband’s feet is by far superior.” (Sita Devi speaking to Lord Rama, Valmiki Ramayana, Ayodhya Kand, 27.9)

Rama was ordered to leave His kingdom of Ayodhya for fourteen years, and He didn’t want Sita to suffer the pain of exile in the forest. But she would not live without Him, as royal opulence has no meaning to someone who has the true delight of their existence within their presence. What would valuable jewels and costly dresses mean to someone who lost the company of their beloved?

Unfortunately, Sita would have to feel the pain of separation later on, when Ravana forcefully took her back to his kingdom of Lanka and tried to make her his chief queen. She rebuked him in no uncertain terms and thus remained isolated in the Ashoka grove, left to wait for an uncertain future. Rama sent Hanuman to find her location first, and then He would march to Lanka with an army of Vanaras headed by Sugriva for the rescue.

!BvbcU)g!2k~$(KGrHqZ,!hIEv1 0HSMuBMEjLGyeLQ~~_3In the above referenced verse from the Ramayana we see that Hanuman has accurately predicted Sita’s mindset at the time. She would be desperately seeking the vision of Rama. After all, who wouldn’t want to see the most beautiful person in the world after having spent so much time in their presence? The aim of life is not to just see God one time and then move on. The spiritual senses can never be satisfied, and that is not a bad thing. The material senses are likened to fangs belonging to a serpent, and so they constantly cause pain no matter how much you try to satisfy them. If you scratch that itch for sex life, you will crave it even more the next time. In addition, your threshold for satisfaction will increase, leading you to do things you otherwise wouldn’t.

With the spiritual senses, scratching the itch is beneficial because in seeking out the company of the divine, renunciation from the harmful material senses automatically takes place. The serpent that is the material senses in effect loses its fangs, allowing the individual to use their senses properly, purifying them so that they are guided in the proper direction. And the more you seek out God after having seen Him the better off you will be, as devotional ecstasy flows at its highest levels when in the mood of separation.

For this mood to bring the proper effect, there must be a strong hankering for reunion, which Hanuman knew existed in Sita. We are all separated from God in the conditioned state, but unless there is a desire to meet Him, devotional ecstasy will not come. The seed of the creeper of devotional service, which gives birth to the initial hankering for the association of Bhagavan, comes from the devotee, the spiritual master who is himself a servant. Therefore communion with the saints is one of life’s most valuable treasures.

Hanuman had already met Rama and had a similar hankering in his mind. Yet Rama, through the Vanara leader Sugriva, ordered him to leave Kishkindha to carry out some business. That order would be a blessing for Hanuman, as he would get to see Sita in the highest state of devotional ecstasy. Even the liberated souls take pleasure in seeing other liberated souls, so splendid is the influence of devotional service on the living entity. Just thinking of Sita thinking of Rama brought so much pleasure to Hanuman, whose determination was strengthened in the process.

Hanuman worshiping Sita and RamaHanuman guessed that Sita would be moving here and there. By staying in that tree, Hanuman could likely see her passing by. In meeting Hanuman, Sita wouldn’t get to see Rama, but she would get to hear about Him. With God, hearing is the same as seeing. Hearing might be more effective, as the sound vibrations describing and praising the Supreme Personality have a lasting influence on the consciousness. Vision is more susceptible to defects and vulnerable to distractions, whereas sound has the ability to resonate better within the mind.

Hearing about Hanuman waiting to see Sita, who was waiting to hear about her husband Rama, brings delight to the soul separated from God. Thinking about the goddess of fortune, Shri Rama’s eternal consort, was the right way to prepare for eventually seeing and meeting her. His intuition guided him to the right place, where he would know just what to say to the troubled wife of the son of the King of Ayodhya.

In Closing:

To predict Sita’s mindset Hanuman tried his best,

But her distress at the time no one could guess.

 

The company of her husband she would seek,

So from that perch Hanuman likely to get peek.

 

For that fateful meeting Ramadutta did prepare,

Thinking of Rama’s beloved, she of beauty so rare.

 

Through the Ashoka grove she might walk,

And give Hanuman of Rama’s love a chance to talk.

 

A blessing to cherish is with saints communion,

Paves the way for with God a reunion.

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Laying The Groundwork

Posted by krishnasmercy on May 29, 2012

Krishna's lotus feet“If the common people are not receptive, it is very difficult to impress upon them the necessity of spiritual enlightenment. Austerity, cleanliness, mercy and truthfulness, the basic principles of religion, prepare the ground for the reception of advancement in spiritual knowledge, and Maharaja Parikshit made this favorable condition possible.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 1.17.45 Purport)

No matter how hard you try, how persuasive you may be, sometimes if the recipient is not receptive, they will not follow through on the instructions you give to them in the utmost kindness. Imagine telling a child who is completely immersed in a video game to go clean their room or do their homework. Their mind is elsewhere at the moment, so they likely aren’t even hearing what you are saying. But if the game should be shut off, the same words, echoed from the same distance away, will resonate and be acted upon. For the benefit of society at large, laying the proper groundwork through the efforts of the higher authorities proves to be beneficial in enabling as many as possible to march towards the destination of spiritual emancipation, where the inhibiting forces of material nature no longer pose a threat.

Spiritual freedom is more important than any concocted system of liberty in a place marked by birth and death. Liberty is itself a vague concept; hence we see documents and movements that restrict the actions of government. The despised tyranny of the governments leads to a charter of negative liberties, which leaves man to his own devices, to figure out for himself what he should do and what he shouldn’t. In this arena, piety becomes a relative concept, wherein one person’s definition of sin differs from another’s.

If there is no guiding principle for action, the natural course of following the dictates of the senses is allowed to take hold. With the satisfaction of the senses, one person’s pursuit is as justifiable as another’s. If one person chooses to earn their living honestly, following kindness and respect for others, are they any better than the person who begs, borrows and steals to get ahead? You can’t look to the government to arbitrate because they are hamstrung by restrictions imposed in the founding document. Therefore they alone cannot make any moral judgments; they must base their actions off the will of the majority of the people.

The ConstitutionIf both the impious and the pious can get wealthy, what is the point to codes of conduct? Personal liberty is therefore the ultimate determining factor, and whichever way that liberty can be maintained becomes the pious route for the individual. Thus the rules of propriety will differ from person to person and what you’re left with is constant strife and turmoil. One person is stealing from someone else, so others can take that as a license for theft. “Get yours before others take it.”

This predicament makes it difficult to teach the real principles of religion, as they are laid out in the Vedas, the ancient scriptures of India. In those sacred texts there is no mention of liberty or government tyranny. Rather, there is dharma, or occupational duty. Every living being has the same original dharma, or defining characteristic, and since it never changes, it is known as sanatana, or without beginning and without end.

The intelligentsia and the administrators are to teach about and institute principles conducive to the practice of dharma in society at large. It is not expected that everyone will be receptive to religious principles right away, for willful forgetfulness of the nature of spirit is the cause for the initial descent into the material world. By constitution the spirit soul is knowledgeable, blissful and eternal. In that wonderful ideal state there is a corresponding entity of interaction. He is most often referred to as God, but since He has countless glorious features and attributes, in the Vedas He is addressed by many names. Krishna speaks to His all-attractiveness and Bhagavan references His possession of beauty, wealth, strength, fame, knowledge and renunciation to the fullest degree.

When there is forgetfulness of the constitutional position or a desire to imitate Krishna’s superiority, there is a fall to a temporary world, sort of like sending children into a playroom to host tea parties and mock adult functions. The problem is that the playroom isn’t real; it is only temporarily manifest. In addition, there can be clashes, as sometimes a new person wants to run things or the other people in the room may not like the outcomes to action. There is every chance of constant strife and turmoil, all rooted in forgetfulness of the fact that the adults are superior.

“One who knows the transcendental nature of My appearance and activities does not, upon leaving the body, take his birth again in this material world, but attains My eternal abode, O Arjuna.”  (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.9)

Lord KrishnaWhen real knowledge of God is distributed to the citizens, the foundation is laid for the path back home, back to Godhead. In the Bhagavad-gita, it is said by Lord Krishna that one who knows the nature of His appearances and disappearances doesn’t have to return to the cycle of birth and death. That is they don’t have to remain in a lower realm where ignorance pervades. Knowing Krishna’s nature is to know that He never accepts a material body. He never takes birth nor dies and He does everything at His own sweet will, as He is the Supreme Controller.

One who knows these facts will follow dedicated service. That service will ideally please Krishna, and to make sure there are no doubts on the matter the service takes place under the guidance of a spiritual master, a teacher who follows in a chain of disciplic succession that originates with Krishna. The primary recommendation for the wayward soul is to regularly chant the holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”, follow regulative principles, and in this way always stay connected in consciousness with the Supreme Lord.

But what if people aren’t receptive to hearing these truths? Certainly the statements of the Bhagavad-gita are profound and can change someone’s life in an instant, but if there are mental distractions borne of habits formed through the many days spent in the material land, how will anyone properly receive the message of divine love so nicely given by Shri Krishna and His devotees?

There are always higher authorities in life, people who wield control over large groups of people. In times past they were kings, and in modern times they are local administrators who are typically elected to their posts. By instilling four principles within society, an atmosphere can be created which is conducive to the reception of the real principle of religion, namely devotion to God. Austerity, cleanliness, mercy and truthfulness are not sectarian principles, so they can be taught to any person, even if they are not religiously inclined.

Austerity is already important in so many areas of life. The person trying to lose weight will automatically impose austerity, limiting their daily caloric intake. This is an austerity measure because the previous inclination was to eat more, to consume more calories. The student refrains from behavior that will damage their chances to do well in school, and the worker makes sure not to do anything that will hinder their performance at work.

Cleanliness is equally as important, as without a clean body we will not be presentable to others. In addition, if the mind is polluted with dirty thoughts, behavior towards others will be negatively impacted. An impure consciousness is at the root of all strife and anger in society. Conflicts occur when the otherwise sober man is taken over by lust, anger and greed.

Krishna with cowMercy shows that you have compassion. When you are compassionate towards others, they will be more apt to be kind to you. On the other hand, if we think we can just kill other creatures when no one is looking and get away with it, eventually that same violence will be inflicted upon us. The laws of nature are quite fair in this regard, so by showing mercy, it is easier to realize that every other living entity is in the same boat that we are. They are also struggling with the material nature to find happiness.

Truthfulness helps to advance along the proper path. If you are not honest in your dealings, you will hurt others. Imagine if we get on an airplane slated for a particular destination and the pilot suddenly changes course for no reason. What if we give money to a cashier and they don’t give us our item in return? Thus truthfulness is a bedrock of voluntary transactions and the interaction with our fellow man. When there is rampant dishonesty, there is no chance for anyone to live peacefully.

Famous kings of the past like Maharaja Parikshit imbibed these four principles into society by the actions of government. Austerity measures are easy to implement; simply refrain from harmful foods and fast on certain days for religious observance. Cleanliness is taken care of by limiting intake of alcohol; thereby avoiding intoxication. Regular bathing and other practices pertaining to hygiene also help. Mercy is fostered by giving protection to the innocent animals. The human being is the elder brother of the other species, so when the brother protects the younger siblings, there is automatic compassion created. Truthfulness is increased by limiting gambling. If there is rampant gambling, cheating will be the way to go, as the competitive fire causes one to lose sight of the larger picture.

These four principles are followed to some degree or another already. They prove to be beneficial every time they are implemented, so if they are expanded to a larger scale, then the society will be more receptive to the message of divine love, which is the elixir for the ears. Shri Krishna is the fountainhead of all knowledge, and so even the four regulative principles emanate from Him. He allows for any person, from any stage of life, to make progress along the proper path, so that one day they can find the happiness that they have long searched for.

In Closing:

Peaceful society built on foundation of trust,

So telling the truth in dealings is a must.

 

Austerity measures in the beginning do sting,

But to proper destination they eventually bring.

 

When you’re out in public by others to be seen,

Important to be presentable, for body to be clean.

 

Mercy, compassion for all creatures important too,

Be nice to others if you want kindness for you.

 

These principles to divine love are conducive,

Makes ears for Krishna’s message more receptive.

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Who You Represent

Posted by krishnasmercy on May 28, 2012

Dasharatha and family“Like an ocean of purity are the mother and father of these children, who are like a heavenly desire tree, who have a spotless beauty that gives the eyes so much happiness that is without end.” (Janaki Mangala, 43)

punya payodhi mātu pitu e sisu suratarū |
rūpa sudhā sukha deta nayana amarani barū ||

Like it or not, your behavior is a reflection on your upbringing. The people who raise you are responsible for making sure that when you’re an adult you follow the proper standards of conduct, that you obey the law and don’t cause a nuisance to society. A parent especially understands how difficult it is to raise a child and make sure that they grow up to be properly educated and well-behaved, so when they see good traits in another child they immediately think of the role of the parents. This was the case with a famous king who cast his glance upon the transcendental form of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Rama.

What is a transcendental form? Can God have any other kind of form? God is everything, a fact which isn’t too earthshattering. In mathematics there is the concept of sets and what different values they can contain. The most inclusive set is that which has the most values, the largest amount of numbers that represent the possible aggregations one can find. If we looked at the entire creation from a mathematical perspective, we’d see that there is a sum collection of space and its component objects. Obviously the measurement of that collection is unfathomable, but there is nevertheless a total amount. If we see a jar full of jellybeans, we can’t be exactly sure to the number how many jellybeans there are, but there is still a specific total.

jar of jellybeansIf we calculated a total for the universe, it’d be a representation of God. His universal form, or virat-rupa, is one way to think of Him, but at the same time this only represents a partial view. “How is this possible? If we include everything, is that not the limit to existence? The Absolute Truth is the entire collection of gross matter, or a form that is considered invisible to the mind. We can’t see the universal form but we know that it exists. Therefore God is not a perceived reality. He must be accepted as an impersonal force that is always present in some way.”

But the Vedas, the ancient scriptures of India, reveal that the Supreme Lord is both formless and with form. The distinction itself is a necessary product of illusion, pointing to a limitation in understanding. Just as we say that the sun is not out on a particular day because of the influence of the clouds, since we can’t understand what a spiritual form is, we say that the macrocosmic vision of the Lord is His only feature. But to show what it means to have a transcendental form, that Absolute Truth kindly appears before our eyes every now and then. The foolish still don’t understand His true nature even when looking directly at Him, but for those who are humble enough to know their limitations and accept the statements of the bona fide acharyas on faith in the beginning, the fruit of existence is revealed.

Shri Rama, the young boy who accompanied Vishvamitra Muni through the forests many thousands of years ago, showed the pious exactly what God looks like. The Lord has many spiritual forms and the fact that they appear within this material world is not extraordinary. A person who is superior and in charge of a particular energy can never be beholden to that energy’s influence. The material nature, which spreads illusion that results in an identification with dull matter, has no existence on its own. Rather, it is consciousness that brings the presence of life, and the source of that consciousness is God.

In every vibrant life form, including our own body, the consciousness derived from the Supreme Lord’s superconsciousness is present. We can think, feel and will because we are similar in quality to God but vastly inferior to Him in quantitative powers. We can be illusioned, but He cannot. With proper training in the system of spirituality descending from Shri Rama, illusion can dissipate, paving the way towards basking in the sweetness of God’s transcendental form.

Lord RamaEven the exalted figures are sometimes bewildered by this apparent duality, the fact that God is everything and still capable of appearing within a smaller section. Mother Parvati once asked her dear husband Lord Shiva to describe the glories of Shri Rama and explain how Rama is actually God and not an ordinary man. Lord Shiva began his discourse by remarking that there is no difference between the personal and the impersonal features of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. There is only a perceived difference, and due to that one tends to think that Rama accepts a material form and then rejects it. The Supreme Lord is never subject to illusion nor is He ever away from us. He pervades all of space and at the same time He is not personally present within everything. His divine vision is granted to the kind souls who know how to properly utilize His energies.

When King Janaka saw Rama and Lakshmana entering his kingdom, he was enamored by their beauty. Vishvamitra brought the brothers to Janakpur to witness the bow-lifting contest that was taking place. Up to this point, Janaka was intimately familiar with Brahman, which is a theoretical understanding of spirit but one that is still not complete. To know Brahman is to know that spirit is the essence of identity and that it is transcendental to matter. Knowing Bhagavan, however, is knowing that Brahman has an origin.

Rama is Bhagavan, the Supreme Personality of Godhead appearing before the eyes of the earth’s creatures in the guise of a warrior prince. In Bhagavan’s original feature, He is Shri Krishna, the charming youth with a blackish complexion holding a flute in His hands and enchanting the residents of the spiritual planet of Goloka Vrindavana. The personal expansions of Krishna are identical to Him in potency. The only difference is in the transcendental mood of devotion that they instill in their followers. Rama was especially attractive to Janaka upon first sight. The king couldn’t believe what he was feeling, a sort of ecstasy that he did not think was possible. By understanding Brahman one learns to keep their emotions in check, to not be distracted by temporary highs and lows. Indeed, Janaka was holding this contest only to follow dharma. Personally he did not wish to part with his beloved daughter Sita, but dharma called for the king to marry off his daughter when she reached an appropriate age.

Rama and LakshmanaWhen Janaka, a good parent in his own right, saw Rama and Lakshmana, he immediately thought of their parents. He thought that the parents must be an ocean of purity, for the boys were like a wish-fulfilling tree whose beautiful forms granted so much unending happiness to the eyes. The children are produced by the parents, and in the Vedic culture one follows so many rules and regulations to ensure that their offspring are beautiful and virtuous. Rama was the most beautiful and Lakshmana was like His twin, so whoever produced them must have had the largest store of virtue.

Rama would uphold the good name and fame of His parents by His outward beauty and by His actions. As God, Rama does not have any parents, but to give pleasure in the mood of bhakti known as vatsalya-rasa He appears from the womb of mother Kausalya during every Treta Yuga, or second time period of creation. He accepts King Dasharatha as a father to give the pious leader an heir to the throne of Ayodhya. Dasharatha also develops a firm attachment to Rama, who becomes the king’s life and soul.

Rama would give so much fame to His family line by winning the contest, being the only man capable of lifting Shiva’s bow. It was almost as if Lord Shiva had coordinated the events, for he delights in hearing about Rama and discussing His pastimes with others. Goswami Tulsidas, the author of the Janaki Mangala, follows Mahadeva’s example by giving the world delightful poetry to be used in remembering Sita, Rama, Lakshmana and the Lord’s most faithful servant Hanuman.

King Janaka was very sweet in his observations on Rama and Lakshmana and their family, and the same sentiments could be applied to him. How pious the parents of Janaka must have been to get a son who would take care of the goddess of fortune, Sita Devi, and then invite Shri Rama Himself to the kingdom. Tulsidas sparks the same question in the reader. Where did Rama find someone so kind to describe His pastimes? Where does Rama find a dedicated brother like Lakshmana and a heroic servant like Hanuman? These questions are difficult to answer even for the Lord, for He is so pleased by the service of the devotees.

Rama and Lakshmana with VishvamitraFrom this incident with Janaka we get a good idea on how to serve our parents, who do so much to protect us in life. The parents have a difficult job because they cannot slip in their behavior. The impressionable young child will follow the behavior of the parents more than their words. If we do acquire any good qualities, if we are fortunate enough to chant the holy names of the Lord, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”, it should be understood that our parents did a good job in raising us, even if it may seem otherwise. Somehow or other we were put into the position to connect with the holy name, which fully represents the Supreme Lord and His personal self.

To repay the service offered by the parents, one should follow the highest system of piety, which is known as bhagavata-dharma, or devotional service. Rama upheld the virtue of His parents and ancestors by following the prescribed duties of His order, the kshatriya. The kshatriyas are royal administrators, so they must exhibit bravery in combat and impartiality in the distribution of justice. In the current age of quarrel and hypocrisy, the lines have been blurred to the point that one can’t figure out what their occupational duties are. Thus there is only one dharma that need be followed: devotion to God. From regularly chanting God’s names, hearing about His pastimes and worshiping and honoring His servants, we give the highest service to our parents. We represent them in our behavior, so if we can show that life’s mission of understanding God is reached, we prove that they are full of purity as well, for they gave the world a sincere servant of the Lord, whose association is a terrific boon.

In Closing:

Know that responsibility with everything you do,

Represent your character and your parents’ too.

 

Thus if you point your behavior in right direction,

On the merits of mother and father a good reflection.

 

Seeing Rama and Lakshmana, of their origin Janaka unsure,

But could guess that their parents were like an ocean pure.

 

Endless happiness to eyes that their forms see,

Thus boys appeared as if they were heavenly desire tree.

 

When your consciousness to divine realm you send,

The pious credits to your good parents will extend.

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Eliminating The Primary Fear

Posted by krishnasmercy on May 27, 2012

Krishna speaking to Arjuna“All created beings are unmanifest in their beginning, manifest in their interim state, and unmanifest again when they are annihilated. So what need is there for lamentation?” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.28)

There are many reasons to read the Bhagavad-gita, the Song of God sung on the battlefield of Kurukshetra some five thousand years ago. As revealed by the singer Himself, the same words were previously delivered many eons prior, at the beginning of creation. Therefore the Gita and its essential teachings are timeless, proving to be valuable in any time period and to any class of men. What’s more is that the primary fear, the root cause of distress, is addressed by this great work, proving that from a single set of teachings all other problems can be solved simultaneously.

What is that primary fear? What is the one thing that we worry about the most? Not surprisingly, it is death. Even if we have come to grips with our own eventual passing, there is still concern over the separation from friends and family members. “How will I live without them? I can’t believe that one day I will never see them again. ‘Never’ is such a frightening concept. Why can’t I have their association forever?” We know that this sadness is widespread based on the reaction to the passing of famous people, which also reveals how there is a lack of knowledge of the afterlife.

If true knowledge of the soul existed, there would be no reason to overly lament the passing of someone else. In reality, the lamentation is for ourselves, for we are now bereft of the departed’s company. But they continue to live on, as the spirit soul cannot be cut up, made wet, burned, or destroyed in any way.

“The soul can never be cut into pieces by any weapon, nor can he be burned by fire, nor moistened by water, nor withered by the wind.”  (Lord Krishna, Bg. 2.23)

Lord KrishnaThere are many reasons to be averse to religious doctrines. For starters, so many religions are now organized and thus riddled with the common problems of politics, infighting, and the desire for personal aggrandizement, all of which are antithetical to a system of discipline aimed at connecting with the highest power. There is also the perceived notion that by hearing about and following religious dictates, one’s life will be stripped of fun. “No more sex life. No more eating meat. No more getting drunk. That all equals no fun.”

But if we look at the Gita, we see that the starting point is the primary fear in every person. Thus the teachings that follow the initial inquiries from the perplexed warrior are applicable to every single person. In one sense the Gita doesn’t have to be considered a religious text, as it presents the information of the spirit soul and its travels in a scientific way. There are methods of redress that can be adopted, with a starting hypothesis declared, and the worker can see for themselves with the results of the experiments whether or not the principles presented are valid.

The speaker of the Gita is the oldest and wisest person. He has knowledge of every single past incident, so He knows that the principles of sanatana-dharma, or the eternal occupation of man, never fail when properly implemented. He can also see into the future, so there is no need for Him to observe any future results to experiments. On the battlefield that day, He presented His spotless knowledge in a manner that was suitable to the listener in the immediate vicinity. In the process the information was also shared with countless future generations who would study the text under the guidance of a bona fide spiritual master.

So what was the initial premise? What was the problem that sparked the talk? Arjuna was the leading fighter for a group of brothers known as the Pandavas. They had the rightful claim to the throne of Hastinapura, but their cousins unjustly usurped control. Now a war was to settle the matter, and right before hostilities were to start, Arjuna grew hesitant. He wasn’t worried about losing. It was just the opposite in fact; he was afraid of what would happen if his side won. So many people would die, and Arjuna wouldn’t like that. He didn’t want to live without the company of his well-wishers and relatives fighting for the other side, especially if he was the cause of their demise.

ArjunaDo Arjuna’s sentiments sound familiar? If they are alive today, are we not worried about the day when we will lose the association of our parents? Are we not afraid of losing a loved one either through a disease or a tragic accident? The answers Krishna gave to Arjuna allow for the individual spirit soul to be knowledgeable in its activities, and with that sword of knowledge one can slash away the ropes of doubt and illusion, which bind one in a trap of fear.

What were Krishna’s primary instructions? Through a carefully presented series of verses, the Gita speaks of the spirit soul and how it is ageless. That soul existed prior to the present manifestation of the body and it will exist beyond the current form. The soul is the essence of identity, and its disposition is what matters most, not where the body is currently situated. This holds true for the individual and also for every other person, including people for whom we hold affection.

The person must act, however, and to know how to act one should follow the bona fide religious principles as they are presented by sadhu, shastra, and guru. The sadhu is the saintly man, who is devoted to the lotus feet of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Shastra is scripture; it has the recorded instructions of the Supreme Lord and His representatives. The guru is the embodiment of devotion to God. He teaches by both precept and example. He can teach the humble student the meaning to the verses of shastra and how to practically apply the principles in everyday life.

After hearing from Krishna and accepting the information through discrimination, Arjuna decided to fight ahead, casting aside his previous doubt. Does this mean that Arjuna suddenly became callous to life and death? Did he discard his affection for his family members? If he did, isn’t the Gita kind of cold in its teaching? What is the difference, then, between a person who follows Krishna’s teachings and one who is so low in their moral standards that they kill other people at random, having no concern for them?

“The Blessed Lord said: While speaking learned words, you are mourning for what is not worthy of grief. Those who are wise lament neither for the living nor the dead.”  (Bg. 2.11)

Bhagavad-gita, As It IsThe ultimate lesson of the Gita is to follow Krishna’s instructions, for He is the Supreme Lord. The vague concept of God is the same Krishna but without the features painted. There are incarnations and expansions of Krishna as well, which show off even more features, as many as the living entity can enumerate. Since Krishna is the fountainhead of all energies, following His word, showing love to Him, is actually the only way to have universal brotherhood. The only way to properly love all of God’s creation is to first serve the original creator.

This means that instead of losing his affection for his family members, Arjuna actually learned to love them more. But his affection was no longer based off temporary features belonging to a perishable body. Arjuna knew that everyone is a spirit soul and that by following occupational duties with detachment there is no sin incurred with action. Also, only the bodies of the other soldiers would be destroyed; their souls would continue to live on. Thus with this perfect combination of knowledge Arjuna could continue on without carrying the burden of the primary fear in man.

That same level of detachment comes to one who follows devotion to Krishna. The wise chariot-driver who enlightened Arjuna on that day can be reached through His holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”, which are non-different from Him. Chanting and hearing are the bedrock of bhakti-yoga, or devotional service. That discipline transcends sectarian boundaries and religious institutions. Devotion to God is the inherent occupation of the soul and from it the fears we regularly encounter today can vanish, creating a legitimate loving sentiment that extends to all creatures.

In Closing:

The greatest fear is that life will end,

Then creates other fears when it extends.

 

Even if with my own mortality I have come to grips,

How will I survive when close friends their bodies quit?

 

Arjuna thought just like this, fate of others to dwell upon,

To dispel his doubts, Shri Krishna sung transcendental song.

 

Known as Bhagavad-gita, at start deals with end of life,

Then solves other issues, anger, vengeance and strife.

 

Like Arjuna from the principles of bhakti don’t deviate,

In the process primary fear of life eliminate.

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Emergency Stockpiles

Posted by krishnasmercy on May 26, 2012

Krishna and Balarama stealing butter“Formerly, in every household, yogurt and butter were kept for use in emergencies. But Krishna and Balarama would pile up planks so that They could reach the pots and would then pick holes in the pots with Their hands so that the contents would leak out and They could drink it. This was another means for stealing butter and milk.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 10.8.30 Purport)

Though today’s amenities weren’t available in the holy land of Vrindavana a long time ago, there were other means to ensure that enough food and critical provisions were available when needed. The human being can do amazing things when properly inspired, when the necessity arises. Though the tendency is towards lethargy and inactivity, when pushed the vibrant spark of life within every being can rise to new heights and stretch the boundaries of ability within their particular species. During ancient times, the inhabitants of Vrindavana had emergency supplies of yogurt and butter, and what better emergency could there be than the hunger of the Supreme Lord and His elder brother?

How can feeding God be an emergency? By definition, an urgent situation requires attention because ignoring it will result in a disastrous condition. Arrive to the scene of a car accident a few seconds too late and the victims can go from having a chance to live to dying. Detect a deadly disease within the body when it is no longer treatable and you can’t save the ill person. The Supreme Lord doesn’t have the same urgency with respect to His travels, but the stockpiles saved up for a dire situation fulfill the urgent need to connect with the Supreme Lord in all His glory.

Krishna eating butterIn His original form, God is known as Krishna, which is a Sanskrit word that means all-attractive. Krishna is not God for only the Hindus. If that were the case, any person could come up with their own God, give Him a name, and then institute a set of principles necessary for worship. Indeed, this is what occurs anyway when real religion is purposefully rejected as being sentimental, made up, or unnecessary. Despite the denial, the principles of a religious system will exist nonetheless. A foundation of governance serves to guide behavior to ensure an ideal situation. The streetlights and stop signs keep the road safe for drivers and passengers. Someone who violates the laws of the road is a sinner and thus earns punishment. Even prior to their admonishment by a governing body, transgressions made on the roads can lead to a damaging result, such as an accident which can badly injure others.

Real religion exists to govern as well, except the ideal condition targeted is beneficial for all people and all aspects of life. Whether you are in need of a better job, a stable condition for your family, or the removal of distress, following the true principles of the eternal occupation of the soul can benefit you. Real religion in the Vedic sense is known as sanatana-dharma, the soul’s eternal duty. The soul is eternal in its constitutional position, thus it must have an engagement which is applicable to any time period and any localized space.

That engagement corresponds to a purification of consciousness, which thus ensures a blissful state within any condition. The food problem, the happiness problem, and the fear problem are all solved with a proper consciousness. If I’m thinking correctly, I will know what steps to take to keep myself in a good situation. Surely there are outside factors that I can’t influence, but the constitutional engagement has an ideal beneficiary, who happens to be the most powerful entity. The all-opulent features of the real Personality of Godhead are absent in the manmade gods. Hence the concocted systems of religion fall flat on their face from the outset. Even if innocent people should be duped into following such bogus systems, with the lack of positive results, soon afterwards the engagements are given up. This is the reason why we see so many systems of maintenance, which include the many self-help books that line the shelves of the bookstores.

“The humble sage, by virtue of true knowledge, sees with equal vision a learned and gentle brahmana, a cow, an elephant, a dog and a dog-eater [outcaste] .”  (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 5.18)

Lord KrishnaKrishna is the perfect word to describe God because only someone who is all-attractive could be the object of worship for every single spark of spirit. The spirit soul is the agent of identification with all life forms. The ant, the dog, the dog-eater, the wealthy businessman, and the learned sage are the same at their core. Perhaps the levels of consciousness vary, but this doesn’t mean that the constitutional positions are different.

As Krishna is the most attractive, there is always an urgency for connecting with Him. You desperately need food when you are running low on energy, when your body is starved of the necessary nutrients to sustain life. If you just ate a big meal, perhaps you can go many hours without eating again. The human body can survive without food for days, though it can’t go as long without water.

Yet there is always a need to connect with Krishna, even if one doesn’t know it. If one has connected with Krishna just moments prior, the benefit of again having His association doesn’t diminish. Thus all the fears pertaining to life and death are unfounded in a sense, as the more pressing need is to put the soul in its ideal position, situated next to the Supreme Lord, at least in consciousness. Thinking about God is as good as seeing Him, and serving Him is better even than seeing or hearing Him.

If connecting with God is the ideal occupation, why are there so many rules and regulations in religion? Why not present the summit of activity in the beginning? This way people could take religion seriously and follow the right course of action from the start. Because of the spinning wheel of reincarnation, which is also known as the samsara-chakra, the living entity is forgetful of his constitutional position. Identification is instead taken from the temporary body, and religious principles are enacted based on the desire to benefit that body.

Because of this deficiency in logic, presenting the highest principles of spirituality, which belong to the discipline known as bhakti-yoga, or devotional service, is not always the best option in the beginning. You may have to take it slow at the start, perhaps enticing interested parties with smaller rewards for pious behavior. “Go to church every week and God will take care of your needs. Perform this ritual once a month and you won’t have to worry about bad fortune. On these particular days, don’t eat anything, and from your austerity you will acquire many spiritual merits.”

Radha and KrishnaThese procedures bring one closer to the Supreme Lord, and in the process they purify consciousness. In the heightened state of thinking known as bhava, there is only a spontaneous desire to love Krishna, without motivation and without interruption. That love can take many forms, including showing displeasure over the acts of the Supreme Lord Himself. This is what occurred with a few residents of the farm community of Vrindavana some five thousand years ago.

Though they lived in what we would consider “primitive” times, the residents had plenty of food to eat. The milk from the cows and the grains grown on the land were enough to take care of the eating needs. Shelter was found through modest huts, and the entertainment was the chanting of the holy names, such as those found in the maha-mantra, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”.

The delight of the town was the beloved son of mother Yashoda and Maharaja Nanda. Their beautiful boy was the very same Krishna, the person the majority of the world worshiped as Lord Vishnu, the origin of matter and spirit. Vishnu is practically the same as Krishna, except Yashoda’s son has features that exhibit more sweetness, which is what the eyes of the residents of Vrindavana deserved. Krishna engaged the townspeople in ways suitable to each person. To Yashoda, He acted as a helpless child. To His friends, Krishna was the best person to play with each day on the fields.

To the neighbors, Krishna was the naughty child who kept breaking into their homes and causing trouble. The residents kept supplies of yogurt and butter stashed away because these were two vital ingredients. Yogurt could be used in so many food preparations and butter was especially important for religious sacrifices. With enough yogurt, butter and milk, there was no need for eating animal flesh. The cows lived happily, and they were considered members of the family, sort of like how domesticated animals are treated today. The difference was that the cows were a vital aspect of the economic development. Just by protecting the cows, so many benefits could be received.

Krishna and Balarama stealing butterKrishna and His elder brother Balarama would enjoy stealing butter and yogurt from the neighbors. The fact that the stocks were carefully hidden away made the heists that much more enjoyable. Sometimes the pots would be situated high up, so the boys would assemble planks together and turn over grinding mortars for climbing. Then they would pick holes in the pots so that the butter and yogurt would sift through and strategically fall into their open mouths. Since the rooms were dark, Krishna and Balarama’s nice jewels would provide the light.

Normally this isn’t good behavior, as the yogurt and butter were carefully set aside for a reason. But the incident gives so many lessons, with one of them being that all of nature’s bounty is to be used for the Lord’s benefit. The residents were so pure that they got to see Krishna all the time, and He wouldn’t leave them alone either. The reserves were put away for emergencies, such as if there were a drought or a calamity that wiped out the food supply. But Vrindavana already saw many potential calamities in the form of attacks from wicked creatures. Krishna was there to save the day each time, so there was no need to worry about running out of butter.

Simply at the sight of Yashoda’s darling the cows would fill up their bags with milk. This meant that milk was never in short supply. Lord Vishnu is the creator of matter, so how can there be any shortage in a land that He personally supervises? Rather, the excess was there to delight the Supreme Lord, who happily took the contents from the shelves and then played innocent when accused. The residents loved this very much, as they couldn’t stay angry at the beautiful Krishna.

Though they didn’t know it, Vrindavana’s people were worshiping God with their offerings of food kindly taken by Krishna. Following the same tradition, devotees of the Lord to this day make regular offerings to Krishna, hoping that He will enjoy the preparations made with love and devotion. The remnants, known as prasadam, are then distributed to as many people as possible. The real emergency situation in Vrindavana was the need to feed Krishna, and if the same devotional attitude is followed by the humble devotee looking to fulfill life’s purpose of remaining God conscious at the time of death, there is no doubt that the sweetheart son of Yashoda, whose belly never becomes full, will gladly arrive on the scene and eat to His heart’s content.

In Closing:

Excess butter and yogurt carefully stashed away,

To be used in emergency, for a rainy day.

 

But know that God all of this does make,

Therefore entitled He is His share to take.

 

For supply of milk in Vrindavana no need to fear,

For cows’ bags fill up when Yashoda’s son is near.

 

Krishna and brother Balarama make plot to reach hidden pots,

Poking holes in them so that in mouths butter to drop.

 

To fill the belly of Krishna is life’s only pressing need,

With your devotional offerings the Supreme Lord feed.

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Spring Personified

Posted by krishnasmercy on May 25, 2012

Shri Hanuman“Seeing that monkey going in all directions through the collection of trees, all the creatures there took him to be Spring personified.” (Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 14.12)

diśaḥ sarva abhidāvantam vṛkṣa ṣaṇḍa gatam kapim |
dṣṭvā sarvāṇi bhūtāni vasanta iti menire ||

The beauty of the modern day city is artificial, as it is built through human effort. The network of large buildings that illuminate the night with their many shining lights gives a wonderful image to the observer from a distance. The ability of man is showcased in the scene of the skyline of the metropolitan area, but there are aspects of nature that are even more beautiful. These places don’t require human intervention or the work of smaller creatures from the animal community. Just from the arrangement of the Supreme Soul, the lord of all creatures, the beauty arrives on its own, instigated by the onset of spring.

There are patterns to the appearance and disappearance of the beauty created by nature. Just as the moving living beings go through the cycle of birth and death, the nonmoving creatures that appear on earth must also eventually discard their bodies. The soul is what stays the same throughout, so the growth and decay periods are due to the influence of time on the bodies. To better understand how the time factor works, there are seasons, divisions that are known through the effect they have on other living entities.

SpringIn the summer season, there is intense heat, and autumn marks the retreat of summer. When winter comes, the nonmoving creatures wilt away. They no longer produce fruits and whatever flowers they had have fallen off and died. Thus spring naturally represents the rejuvenation of life; the return of fruits. The harsh cold of the winter is over, and the environment is suitable for flowers to thrive once again. There is a return to life both externally and internally. On the outside the trees start to blossom, and on the inside the moving creatures are ready to be active, to enjoy the life form God gave them.

In Lanka many thousands of years ago there was this dichotomy between artificial and natural beauty. We are given the details about the contrasting images in the Sundara-kanda of the Ramayana. The descriptions are presented through the travels of a warrior sent on a reconnaissance mission. He was to find the missing princess of Videha, the daughter of King Janaka. The land he entered was ruled by ogres, vile creatures who lived in the mode of ignorance. Tamo-guna, the lowest of the three modes of nature defined by the Vedas, is marked by an absence of both passion and knowledge. The behavior in tamo-guna is not wise at all, yet the participants are too spellbound by their low-grade activities to know that they are destroying their lives.

The area hosting the majority of the population, the city, had tremendous manmade beauty. There were golden archways, exquisite buildings bedecked with jewels, and decorations that were unbelievable. It seemed as if the city were situated in a heavenly realm, with all the jewels of the world taken and collected in this one place. There were many beautiful palaces, and this warrior had to search through them to find the missing princes. Thus through his travels we learn all about the opulence inside of Lanka, which was ruled by the King Ravana.

But within all of this bountiful material opulence the chaste wife of Lord Rama could not be found. The seeker, Hanuman, then noticed a grove of Ashoka trees. This was situated next to the head palace, and Hanuman hadn’t searched through it yet. When he finally entered the grove, he noticed so much natural beauty. There were wonderful creepers and mango trees. Birds were sleeping peacefully, and nothing about the area was negative. It had natural beauty, nothing to be tampered with. It was peaceful and quiet, and gave hints of the mode of goodness. This stood in stark contrast to the long nights of partying, drinking, and eating animal flesh that Hanuman had just seen in the city. That kind of life wouldn’t go well with this beautiful park.

HanumanSince he was in the form of a forest-dweller known as a Vanara, Hanuman was sort of monkey-like. Therefore he could jump from tree to tree without a problem. However, due to his strength and force, he caused birds to wake up when he jumped. They then flew away, clipping the branches of the trees with their wings. This caused so many flowers to fall from these branches onto Hanuman. He looked like a mountain covered with flowers. Just from this we know how conducive to life the Ashoka grove was. Wherever there are nice flowers there has to be a good climate, conditions where fruits can grow and trees can thrive.

In the above referenced verse from the Ramayana, we see that all the creatures in that park looked at Hanuman and thought that he was Spring personified. He was covered in flowers after all, so perhaps he was there to bring life to the area. The conditions of spring are pretty much universally appreciated, with the notable exception being the allergic reactions they bring to many. Nevertheless, from a visual perspective, there is no beating the vision of the blossoming trees and the rejuvenated plant life of spring. Thus in the Vedas especially spring is often described in wonderful ways.

Previously in the Ramayana, Lord Rama described the features of spring and how it reminded Him of His wife Sita. The husband and wife pair used to enjoy the spring very much, for that was when they had the most fun together. This is quite natural, as with beautiful scenery the activities undertaken are enjoyed that much more. And now here was Hanuman in the Ashoka grove appearing like he was spring itself coming to add beauty to the area, to bring auspicious conditions where all the creatures could be happy.

Indeed, Hanuman was there to bring life, but to one person in particular. Sita only held on to her life in the hopes of again one day seeing Rama. She always chanted His name and remembered His divine attributes, of which there are too many to count. She was kept in this area because Ravana did not want anyone to find her. She wouldn’t fit in with the city life, for she was spotless in character. The grove of Ashoka trees was the only place Sita could stay in Lanka while waiting for Rama. Her hopes starting to wilt, the Spring that was Hanuman would come to give her life, to inform her that Rama was indeed intent upon finding and rescuing her.

Hanuman meeting SitaEverything would eventually end well, as Shri Rama is the Supreme Lord and Hanuman His dearest servant. The origin of spirit and matter can will anything to happen, but then doing so would take away the opportunity for service from eager and enthusiastic spirits like Hanuman. For the devotee, it is always like spring in the heart, for there is a constant hankering to serve the Supreme Lord without motivation and without interruption. Such a burning desire equates to the highest bliss, as the living beings have an existence for a reason. The vital force within the body has tremendous potential for action, and through the hand of the divine coordinator, an infinite amount of work is there to be done, allowing for that vibrant spirit to remain in the mood of spring perpetually.

Just as Hanuman was spring for the creatures in Ashoka, he is the life-giver to the soul wandering aimlessly through the cycle of birth and death. Know that there is certainly a purpose to life. There is a reason for living, though with mental speculation alone we will never stumble upon the correct reason. The gatekeepers to the spiritual kingdom keep this valuable information with them, and if they see sincerity in an inquisitive soul, they will pass on that treasure. Sita automatically earned the favor of Hanuman based on her love for Rama. She was the Lord’s wife, but more importantly she was His number one supporter. That instantly made her important to Hanuman.

In a similar manner, those who regularly chant the holy names that incorporate both Sita and her husband, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”, are sure to get the attention of the swiftly travelling spring season known as Hanuman. He is quite benevolent in his distribution of the sweet nectar of bhakti, or devotion, which is a gift worth savoring. Just as the newly blossomed flowers of the spring season are a pleasant sight for the eyes, the sincerity and determination of Rama’s dearest servant are a wonderful and enchanting spectacle for the mind’s eye, a vision to forever cherish.

In Closing:

Pain from cold warmer temperatures to soothe,

Signals that winter season away has moved.

 

Spring the blossoming of flowers to bring,

A pleasant atmosphere too where birds can sing.

 

Sita, for her fate and husband’s fortunes feared,

But to get new life when Hanuman appeared.

 

In Ashoka grove for a moment on branch stopped,

Departing birds hit trees, flowers on him dropped.

 

To the creatures Hanuman looked like spring, and they were right.

Sweet vision of Rama’s servant always a pleasing sight.

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The Best Use of Time

Posted by krishnasmercy on May 24, 2012

Radha and Krishna on a swing“A living being, especially the human being, is seeking happiness because happiness is the natural situation of the living entity. But he is vainly seeking happiness in the material atmosphere. A living being is constitutionally a spiritual spark of the complete whole, and his happiness can be perfectly perceived in spiritual activities.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 2.3.17 Purport)

There are many ways to define a saint, but if we look at the core of the individual, what it is that makes them tick, it’s uncovered that someone who knows how to best extract that quality and direct it towards the proper area can be considered the most saintly. The saint under this definition is the kindest welfare worker, and despite the negative reception they may receive on occasion, they stand tall and have a positive, lasting influence.

How do we determine what makes someone tick? What is that single property that gives a meaning to our existence? As a famous philosopher once said, “I think therefore I am”, the ability to do something on your own indicates that you have an existence. A sleeping man isn’t capable of solving complex equations, preparing an elaborate dish, writing a computer program, delivering a groundbreaking speech, taking care of dependents, or serving the right person. Granted, sleep is still an activity, a necessary one at that, but it is not until one is awake, full of ability to consciously direct thought and perform intelligent action, that they can really make a difference.

So, the ability to act defines our existence, but breaking things down further, the difference between a dead body and a living one is the presence of the spirit soul. The soul is the essence of identity, and its features are kindly described in the Vedic scriptures, whose most brilliant and concise work is the Bhagavad-gita, spoken by the delight of Maharaja Nanda and mother Yashoda, Lord Krishna. That is just one way to describe the blue-complexioned chariot driver of the Pandava warrior Arjuna, but since He is the oldest person and also the wisest, He has countless names, which each address a different feature. As He is the origin of life and matter, He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Naturally, His instructions would then prove to be the most valid and worthwhile.

“This individual soul is unbreakable and insoluble, and can be neither burned nor dried. He is everlasting, all-pervading, unchangeable, immovable and eternally the same.”  (Lord Krishna, Bg. 2.24)

Krishna speaking to ArjunaFor argument’s sake, let’s say that we aren’t familiar with the teachings of the world’s original preceptor. Let’s say that we don’t even know about the soul and its ability to transcend birth and death. In ignorance of the laws of the spiritual science, we still know that the awake human being has the potential to act. Therefore the primary question is on how to use that ability, and not necessarily on studying from where the ability came or where it will go in the future. Granted, familiarity with the properties of that spirit is helpful in directing activity, but we can tell right now from the results we see that so many activities do not make the best use of the individual’s ability.

For instance, it is seen that in the absence of knowledge of spirit, time is spent doing things like playing sports, gambling, and drinking to get heavily intoxicated. In remote areas, there is even cow-tipping and other strange games invented to pass the time. We also know that young children are given an education. The adults provide this instruction, and yet they are the ones using their free time for these other pursuits. Therefore we can conclude that the instruction is guiding the pupil towards a destination where the same activities of the adult will take place.

The emergence of extreme sports and odd games played out in rural areas shows that the human being craves activity. He has the ability to act, but without knowing where to direct that ability, he will look for new ways to pass his time. At the end of the day, there is no difference between the person who plays sports and the person who doesn’t. Both are trying to fill the void created by endless amounts of free time. Whether one spends that time in quiet or in noise is of no difference, as the mind is occupied in both situations.

Prabhupada teachingThe saint arrives to guide man’s energy along the proper channels. Man is capable enough to do crazy tricks in extreme sports and creative enough to find new ways to spend time, but these efforts don’t extract the true potency of spirit: the ability to love. That love can continue uninhibited and uninterrupted, but only when the target is pure. Not surprisingly, that ideal object of service is God, who can be understood with greater clarity through the Vedic texts, which are the oldest scriptural tradition in the world.

The mere mention of “religion” will introduce fears pertaining to law codes and harsh condemnation of specific kinds of behavior. Actually, only in ignorance are these fears present, for a bona fide system of spirituality intends to focus on a notable destination, which when reached doesn’t signal the end to activity. Typically there is interruption with our projects because at the time of completion the work stops. That is the whole point after all. The desire to reach completion also represents the motivation, which then must vanish at the attainment of the end goal.

Spirituality followed under authorized guidelines takes the worker to a place where motivation never runs dry, which in turn creates a condition devoid of interruption. Sure there are temporary respites from work, but in this higher plane of consciousness, service continues even during rest. There is action in inaction and inaction in action for the devoted soul.

“One who sees inaction in action, and action in inaction, is intelligent among men, and he is in the transcendental position, although engaged in all sorts of activities.”  (Lord Krishna, Bg. 4.18)

The saint can teach the divine principles to others because he follows them himself. He knows that man has amazing abilities, the potential to love to the highest. The wonderful innovations created in recent times could not have come about without great intelligence and capability for work. When those capabilities are applied to a system of spiritual practice that aims to please the Supreme Lord, the result is ananda, or bliss, that is in such high supply that there is plenty to go around.

Lord Chaitanya worshiping Radha and KrishnaThe saint takes the ingenuity that goes into inventing a new sport like truck racing and directs it towards finding new ways to please the Supreme Lord. At the heart of a loving relationship is association, and since Krishna is full and complete in His name, chanting the holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”, is as good as being in the Lord’s presence. Of course we can’t understand this fact in the beginning, but since the saint follows the prescribed regulation of chanting this wonderful mantra for sixteen rounds a day on a set of japa beads, others can see a valid and functioning prototype to copy.

But imitation alone isn’t fun. Instead, there is the competitive spirit which tries to add on to what others are doing, maybe even surpassing them. Rather than be threatened, the saint is warmed to the heart when this attitude is directed at them in the realm of bhakti-yoga, or devotional service. The same sportive tendency used to race against other cars can be applied to chanting the holy names more and more, to writing about the glories of the darling of Vrajabhumi, to preparing the most sumptuous food dishes to be offered to Krishna and then distributed to others.

The competitive attitude is sometimes even used to try to please the saint, who acts as the kindest teacher. He expects a lot from others because he knows that others are capable of amazing things if they apply themselves. If prizes are won throughout a process, then incentive is always present. There is no greater reward than Shyamasundara’s association, which comes through His holy name, so the more one follows bhakti the more they are inclined to cling to the process, which is initially supervised by the guiding hand of the saint.

An individual is considered saintly when they extend the fraternal attitude beyond themselves. In fact, the further out that vision of kindness spreads, the more their sainthood increases. The Vaishnava extends the vision of equality to all creatures, large and small. The human beings should have compassion for one another because they are all in the same boat, and they are also the elder brothers of the lower species like the animals, birds and aquatics.

Prabhupada chantingYet the Vaishnava, the devotee of Krishna, doesn’t stop with the gentleness extended to all creatures. Real compassion is showing others how to properly direct their energy. Therefore the Vaishnava kindly speaks of the glories of God in public forums, personal conversations, written words, and beautifully sung songs. This way they show others the proper destination, which is a newer consciousness more than a different physical location. The person connected to the divine consciousness can find a pleasurable situation wherever they go.

The end of life will come eventually, and when it does every person must ask themselves whether they spent their valuable time wisely. Time can be passed through any endeavor, but only when consciousness develops properly is the time well spent. By following bhakti-yoga, by devoting your life to God in any way possible, large or small, consciousness makes lasting progress for the better, and from that right way of thinking the vibrant force that is the spirit soul can get the most out of its energy.

In Closing:

What to do today, on my hands I have so much time?

What activity will keep active and also pacify my mind?

 

Should I gamble or play video games for fun?

Or on the fields chasing animals should I run?

 

If adults who play as such others do teach,

Guaranteed that same position pupils will reach.

 

Know that the individual within is a vital force,

Through intelligence place action on proper course.

 

For that, from the most saintly characters learn,

So that with work residence in spiritual abode to earn.

 

Saint does more than just affection to all extend,

Shows others proper way, to state of bliss man to send.

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Endless Happiness

Posted by krishnasmercy on May 23, 2012

Rama and Lakshmana“Like an ocean of purity are the mother and father of these children, who are like a heavenly desire tree, who have a spotless beauty that gives the eyes so much happiness that is without end.” (Janaki Mangala, 43)

punya payodhi mātu pitu e sisu suratarū |

rūpa sudhā sukha deta nayana amarani barū ||

The vision of Shri Ramachandra and His younger brother Lakshmana is so sweet that there is really no way to properly describe it. It is one thing to look at something beautiful and be awestruck, but it is another to try to put what you are feeling into words. Goswami Tulsidas, in singing of the famous initial meeting of Lord Rama and His beloved consort Sita Devi, touches on some of the emotions felt by the different parties, describing what they felt when they first laid their eyes upon Rama and His brother. Indeed, the eyes exist for this very purpose. The eyes can move very quickly, and depending on what is in front of them, they may inadvertently glance upon something that is unpleasant. But the act of seeing should not be shunned, for under the right circumstances the reason for existence can be revealed through a quick glance.

How does this work exactly? So one day we’ll be lucky enough to see something that is out of this world, something which will force us to ask the right questions? If you look into the sky on a clear night, you’ll notice the many stars in the solar system. You can’t see everything that’s out there, but the infinite beyond reveals a portion of itself to the person viewing it from thousands of miles away. In a second you can go from feeling important to knowing how insignificant you really are. The universe is so vast and complex, and this fact is reinforced just by looking into the night sky.

Lord RamaIf you are fortunate enough to gaze upon the spiritual form of the Personality of Godhead, a higher realization will come to you, provided you have the proper mood. You’ll wonder how anything could be so beautiful and how you lived so long without having seen it. With King Janaka, the astonishment went further. He immediately thought of the parents of the vision in question. Where did they live and what did they do to get such beautiful sons? Surely they must be full of virtue, like an ocean of purity. To be pure in thought, word and deed is very rare, for it requires a long time of practice and dedication in saintly life, administered by bona fide spiritual leaders who are themselves pure.

“Whatever state of being one remembers when he quits his body, that state he will attain without fail.”  (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 8.6)

As is so nicely revealed in the Bhagavad-gita, whatever we think of at the time of death is the state that we will attain in the next life. This occurs without fail. There is no flaw to the system; what we think is what we get. Obviously the moment of death is the time of greatest panic in one’s life, so there is little control over the faculties of the brain at that moment. What you will remember is what you thought about most during your time on earth. For the pious individual, a pure consciousness will be the reservoir of thought at the precise moment of exiting the body.

In the next life, the reward for that piety is birth in circumstances that are favorable for spiritual elevation. The quickest pathway towards the ultimate destination of the imperishable spiritual sky is the association of that land’s leader. When that association exists through a bond of love, which involves service flowing in both directions, there is no requirement to even wait for the afterlife. The present circumstances turn into a spiritual land, a place where there is no concern over past, present, or future. There is no worry over change because the association you have is with the changeless. The only concern is over whether or not the love will be offered properly, and because of this sincerity, the object in question ensures that the conditions are always auspicious.

King Dasharatha and familyKing Dasharatha of Ayodhya in his previous life accumulated pious merits by regularly observing the Satyanarayana-vrata. The vow relates specifically to a form of the Supreme Lord that accepts a certain kind of worship offered at regular intervals by householders and those looking to gain pious credits. The vow isn’t directly related to bhakti, which is the pinnacle of religious practice. Nevertheless, pious behavior followed under authorized guidelines never fails to provide spiritual benefit. In his subsequent birth, Dasharatha would taste the fruit of his existence.

That would come through obtaining Shri Rama as a son. Rama is God Himself, who appears on earth in every Treta Yuga, or second time period of creation, as a warrior prince to annihilate the miscreants and protect the pious. No one was a better defender of religious principles than Dasharatha, who followed the example set by the ancestral line he belonged to known as the Ikshvakus. Thus Rama blessed the family further by appearing in it and granting Dasharatha a way to offer love without motivation and without interruption. Dasharatha’s three wives also had gained many spiritual merits from previous lives. Queen Kausalya got Rama as a son. The bond the mother has with her son is unique. The good mother cares for her son so much that she is not concerned with what he asks for or what he wants. Mother knows best, so the son can never stop her from offering love.

Dasharatha had three other sons through his queens. They were all sweethearts in behavior and reservoirs of pleasure. Shri Rama is a direct incarnation of the Supreme Lord Vishnu, and His three younger brothers are partial incarnations of Vishnu. Thus they were really one and the same, though Rama was the leader. Every day the parents got to enjoy the company of their divine children, who were seemingly sent from heaven to delight everyone in Ayodhya.

On the particular day referenced in the quote above, King Janaka was attune to noticing qualities of parents. He was holding a bow-lifting contest to determine who would marry his daughter Sita. In the spiritual world Sita Devi is Rama’s eternal consort. She is the goddess of fortune, Lakshmi, who is also an incarnation of Krishna’s pleasure potency Shrimati Radharani. Janaka, while welcoming the many guests that came to his kingdom to witness the ceremony, paid attention to the attributes of the participants. In the arranged marriage system, the parents are just as important as the children. The wife is marrying into the groom’s family after all, so the support system must be in place for the girl to be protected for the rest of her life.

The more pious the parents are the more likely the children will be to grow up pious. Seeing how beautiful Rama and Lakshmana were, Janaka immediately noted that the children’s parents must be an ocean of purity. The boys are compared to a surataru, or heavenly desire tree. If one is still on the material platform at the time of death, if they have acted piously enough they get to enjoy many years of life on the heavenly planets. In that place, which is still part of the perishable material world, there are trees that can grant any desire immediately.

Lord RamaShri Rama, or God, is often compared to a desire tree because whatever you want from Him you can get. This seems strange because don’t many people not pray to God at all and still get benedictions? Ah, but what is it exactly that they receive? The absence of a desire to approach God is simultaneously a desire as well. While there is not an explicit desire to turn away from God, the implicit is just as good in this scenario. If someone doesn’t want to love God, they are granted every ability to exercise that mistaken choice in an arena where the personal influence of the supreme master is absent. Hence even the spiritually disinclined get benedictions from God.

But the desire tree is best used to receive specific rewards. In the case of Rama, the reward He granted was supreme happiness, which was facilitated through His spotless form, which was as sweet as nectar. Nectar gives happiness to the person who consumes it. If it is in liquid form, it is enjoyed through drinking. With Rama and Lakshmana, the nectar came through their vision, the spiritual forms that stood before whoever was fortunate enough to see them. The eyes which drank that nectar received so much happiness that was amarani, or immortal or unending.

How can one vision give so much? Well, think about this specific occasion. Rama was in the kingdom of Janakpur, with He and His younger brother Lakshmana escorting the exalted sage Vishvamitra through the forests. The son of Gadhi had brought the two sons to Janaka’s kingdom to have Rama try to lift the bow. Janaka had sent invitations out to every kingdom across the world to come to his town to participate in the contest, but Rama was not home at the time. He was the eldest son in the family, so only He could attempt to win Sita’s hand. In the traditional Vedic system, it is considered a sin for a younger brother to get married before an elder one does.

Rama was away from home, but were the parents back home bereft of their beloved children’s company? Were King Dasharatha and Queen Kausalya unable to see Rama when He wasn’t at home? Dasharatha certainly felt the pain of separation when Rama left with Vishvamitra. The sage kindly asked for protection in the forest, and the king was ready to send his most capable fighters, his whole army if he had to. Ah, but Vishvamitra knew what he was doing. He only asked for protection as a pretense to have Rama’s company. The saintly class are selfish in this regard, as they want to spend as much time with God as possible. Thankfully there is plenty of Him to go around, as any person can hold on to the Lord as their best friend by chanting, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”.

Rama and LakshmanaA brahmana’s request should not be denied, especially by a king. Therefore Dasharatha had to agree to allow Rama to go, who in turn took Lakshmana with Him. It should be noted that Lakshmana was as beautiful as Rama, a spitting image of the jewel of the Raghu dynasty except that he had a fair complexion while Rama was dark. Sumitra, Lakshmana’s mother, was not happy to see Lakshmana go either, but she knew that he couldn’t live without Rama. The faithful younger brother would never leave Rama’s side, for he would only eat after Rama had eaten and sleep after Rama had fallen asleep.

While Rama and Lakshmana were with Vishvamitra, their visions remained within the consciousnesses of the parents. In this way we see that God’s personal form grants a nectar to the eyes that never dies. Seeing God is only the beginning, for that sight ideally results in a dedication to service that continues forever. Janaka was amazed at the purity of the children’s parents, but little did he know that he was equally as qualified to see God. He already had Sita as a daughter, so there was no questioning his spiritual merits. Through his contest, the divine couple would be reunited, and that divine vision would remain in Janaka’s mind eternally.

In Closing:

From contest where Shiva’s bow to lift,

Vision of Sita and Rama in Janaka’s mind to sit.

 

First all the royal families from around the world were called,

To Janaka’s capital city their royal entourages were hauled.

 

But two boys accompanying Vishvamitra were different,

Sparked full attraction in king who to world was indifferent.

 

Parents of the boys must be of purity an ocean,

Get to see children and their daily playful motion.

 

Piety brings God’s company, from Janaka’s thoughts believe,

Endless happiness from desire trees Rama and Lakshmana receive.

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Umbrella of Protection

Posted by krishnasmercy on May 22, 2012

Krishna lifting Govardhana Hill“He is called the well-wisher for the devotees only. He appears to be partial to His devotees, but factually the matter rests on the living being to accept or reject equal treatment by the Lord.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 1.16.26-30 Purport)

It’s pouring rain outside. There is nothing you can do to avoid the downpour because you have to make the walk to your intended destination. You have just exited a shopping center and your car is parked a long ways away, as this was a particularly busy shopping day. The forecast didn’t call for rain, so you’re a little surprised that so much rain has come by unannounced. If only you had an umbrella at this moment when you really need one.

Oh, but you could have brought one with you. You keep a spare umbrella in the trunk of your car for emergency situations like these. But you didn’t remember to bring it with you as you left the car. Since you were entering a shopping center, you intended to carry at least one bag in your hands, if not more, on your way out. A closed umbrella, though compact, would have added to the burden of items to carry around, and since it was sunny outside when you parked your car, you paid no attention at all to the umbrella.

Ah, but now you desperately need one. To make matters worse, you see other people who have their umbrellas; thus they are safe from the pouring rain. They can make it to their cars without a problem. They will not be soaking wet when they sit behind the wheel to drive home. In this scenario, is the umbrella to blame for your misfortune? Obviously it is an inanimate object, so it can’t make any decisions of its own, but if for argument’s sake we say that the umbrella is capable of hearing your complaints, should it consider them valid?

umbrellaFrom the rational human being’s perspective, it is understood that the fault lies completely with the person who forgets the umbrella. The umbrella gives protection from the rain, but it is still impartial. It doesn’t only protect one type of person. It does not look down to see who is holding it and then decide whether or not to block the scorching rays of the sun or the falling raindrops. In fact, you know that the umbrella gives protection; that’s why you kept one in your car. But in this situation you forgot, and though the umbrellas seem to be partial when they protect others, they are simply fulfilling their role.

This hypothetical situation and the analysis of the umbrella’s function help to explain the Supreme Lord’s position and how He diffuses His energy. These points are worth understanding because only in ignorance does the human being blame the higher authorities for their troubles. “Oh God, why did you let this happen to me? How could you do this to me? I never did anything to deserve this. You favor everyone else except me.”

In reality, when someone accepts the gifts of God already available to everyone else there is only the appearance of favoritism. The highest pleasure comes in the transcendental arena, where the previously conditioned living entity associates with Supreme Spirit and His direct energies. Something that is completely knowledgeable, blissful and eternal can share its transcendental radiance with others, provided they choose to interact in the proper mood.

To understand what the proper mood is, we can use a crude example like a lavish ice cream cake. The cake is meant to satisfy hunger and be enjoyed by the taste buds at the same time. But what if we used the ice cream cake as a tray, something to hold our other food items. We place whatever it is we want to eat on top of the cake, but this is actually not the proper use. The cake is meant to be consumed, and by its constitution it cannot remain in its ideal state for too long without melting. When taken out of the freezer and used as a tray, once the melting cake sinks and thus fails in our desired use as a tray, the blame for our troubles actually lies with us. The cake had its ideal role, and we rejected it.

Lord KrishnaThe Supreme Lord lives inside of us as the Supersoul and outside as the soul of all creatures. He is the existence of all existences, and not a blade of grass can move without His influence. Nevertheless, that influence is difficult to spot if we don’t know the proper use of objects. The hands we’re provided are meant to be used for such things as clapping along to the congregational songs glorifying the Supreme Lord. The eyes serve their ideal purpose when used to look at pictures of God and His beautiful form. The legs allow for travelling to places where the Supreme Lord is glorified, and the taste buds can eat the remnants of food first offered to Him, prasadam.

The tongue can also be used for chanting the holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”. This simultaneously takes care of hearing, for Krishna and His name are non-different. The name Krishna indicates that God is the most-attractive, that His features are perfect in every way. Those features give pleasure to the devotees, and hence He is also known as the reservoir of pleasure.

The results of utilizing the various body parts in an ideal way are peace of mind, the removal of stress, and an invigorated spirit that is ready to take on new tasks in the discipline known as bhakti-yoga, or devotional service. Thus far there has not been any mention of caste, color, ethnicity, age, or country of origin. The holy name can be chanted by any person, and the beautiful deity in the temple is the sight for any person’s sore eyes. Even if the houses of worship unjustifiably deny entry to some, the mental pictures of the Supreme Lord based on descriptions and accounts of His activities found in the sacred texts can be drawn and enjoyed.

“I envy no one, nor am I partial to anyone. I am equal to all. But whoever renders service unto Me in devotion is a friend, is in Me, and I am also a friend to him.”  (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.29)

Krishna speaking to ArjunaIn the Bhagavad-gita, Krishna’s song that touches on the meaning of life, it is said that the Lord does not envy anyone, and neither is He partial to anyone. Nevertheless, He still shows favoritism to the devotees, who are friends to Him. This apparent contradiction is resolved by the fact that the offer for protection and favoritism is open to any person; but there is the requirement that they make the conscious decision to accept it. The Supreme Lord proved to be an umbrella of protection for the distressed Queen Draupadi when she surrendered everything to Shyamasundara and asked for His help as she was being disrobed by wicked-minded family members in an assembly. Prahlada Maharaja was protected by Krishna during trying times because he only thought of the Lord. The residents of Vrindavana were saved from a torrential downpour, which was instigated by the king of heaven, when they went underneath the umbrella Krishna created by lifting the massive Govardhana Hill and holding it over His head.

That same protection is available to anyone who recites the holy names with love, faith and humility. Those who refuse to accept this protection cannot blame Krishna for their troubles. How kind then are the Vaishnava saints who try to spread the holy names to as many people as possible? They know the tremendous protection that God provides through His personal energies, so they selflessly try to share the knowledge on how to utilize nature’s gifts properly to as many people as are willing to listen.

The Vaishnava, the devotee of Krishna, hopes that no one will reject the kind treatment offered by Krishna to all. The distresses relating to temporary conditions arise from ignorance of the true meaning of life, which is to become God conscious by the time death arrives. Through the holy names and the proper implementation of bhakti-yoga learned from a bona fide spiritual master, the divine umbrella resting within opens up to protect you from the many rainy days the material land has to offer. Under that protection the protector’s company is cherished and appreciated daily.

In Closing:

Umbrella meant to block out falling rain,

Shields you from wetness’s pain.

 

But what if umbrella you should forget,

Pummeled with rain, in your trunk it rests.

 

Others took theirs, you could have done the same,

But you forgot, so is umbrella to blame?

 

Know that Supreme Lord to all His glorious light diffused,

Pain only comes when His protection refused.

 

Chant holy names for transcendental shelter to gain.

And thus make sunny even a day filled with rain.

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