Krishna's Mercy

Hare Krishna

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Rama Navami 2014

Posted by krishnasmercy on April 7, 2014

[Rama's lotus feet]“O ocean of mercy, O ocean of happiness, O crest-jewel of great souls, from time to time please remember us, dear son, and don’t let go of your love.” (Janaki Mangala, 176)

kṛpā sindhu sukha sindhu sujāna siromani |
tāta samaya sudhi karabi choha chāḍaba jani ||

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Shri Rama, the person honored on the occasion of Rama Navami, is the crest-jewel of all great men. Sujana refers to great souls, those who are wiser than most. Their wisdom is directly tied to their vision. They see the spirit within all creatures. This vision is stronger than x-ray. The doctor in the examination room can see the hairline fracture of a bone, but no image will give an indication of the presence of the soul. For that, knowledge and training are required.

Bhagavad-gita, 5.18“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)

[Krishna and Balarama with cows]The wise soul sees with equal vision so many different creatures. The unintelligent cannot see this, for their vision is not sharpened. They make distinctions between man and woman. They offer affection to one type of animal and a butcher’s knife to another. They are kind to their family members but apathetic towards their neighbors. Such a dichotomy in outlook is understandable given the lack of pure vision.

Spirit is equally present in all forms of life, and so one who can understand this is very valuable to others. They are truly a great soul; they show their greatness in their behavior and also the wisdom they offer to others. Rama is the crest-jewel of such men since He always has the equal vision. Not only does He see everyone equally, He is the lone entity who witnesses everything. In His expansion as the Supersoul, He is the all-pervading witness, a neutral observer who is just standing by, waiting to offer guidance when asked.

“The Supersoul, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, seated beside the individual soul, is the witness of the individual soul’s activities and is the source of consciousness. The Supersoul gives the jiva an opportunity to act freely, and He witnesses his activities.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 8.4 Purport)

[Lord Vishnu as Supersoul]Rama’s travels with the individual from body to body also make Him an ocean of mercy. No one else is so kind to us. No one else knows everything about us, from our faults to our good attributes. We keep secrets from one another because revealing too much information may leave us vulnerable. Others may keep vital information with them, to be used when a favor is needed. It may also be used if an argument ensues. The Supreme Lord sees everything, and He remembers all as well. And He is still kind enough to travel with us, to stay close by our side. When one is fortunate enough to realize the need for connecting with Him, they find that He gives them an endless flow of mercy. He allows them to glorify Him without end, which is the most enjoyable aspect of life. One only really comes to life when they are glorifying God.

Rama is also the ocean of happiness. Just study the countenances of His closest associates, like Sita, Lakshmana and Hanuman. In service to Rama, Hanuman is always blissful. The only time he finds unhappiness is if he feels inadequate in serving. Still, he never gets discouraged, for he knows he will be happy in service to Rama only. The same applies to Sita and Lakshmana, who follow Rama wherever He goes. They are only unhappy when physically separated from Him, when unable to serve Him directly.

[Rama Darbar]In this scene from the Janaki Mangala, King Janaka rightly points out Rama’s glorious nature. He addresses Rama as the ocean of mercy, the ocean of happiness, and the crest-jewel of all great souls. Janaka asks that Rama remember him from time to time. Rama is here set to return home to Ayodhya, having just married Sita, who is Janaka’s daughter. Janaki is one of her names, referencing how dear she is to her father.

Janaka asks Rama to not let go of His love for them. This is a very nice request, and indeed it is impossible for Rama to ever forget those who are dear to Him. He doesn’t forget the souls who always forget Him, so He surely always remembers those who choose to remain with Him in consciousness. On the occasion of Rama Navami, which celebrates the appearance of Shri Rama into this world, the devoted souls follow Janaka’s lead and pray that the dear Lord remember them from time to time.

[Lord Rama]How does one tell that Rama hears their request? Indeed, the mere ability to recite His names, such as those found in the maha-mantra, indicates that the ocean of mercy is flowing nearby. By reciting, Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare, the person remembers Rama, who in turn always remembers them. Rama takes the vow to always give shelter to the surrendered souls, so it is not possible for Him to abandon the love He feels for great souls like Janaka. In a similar manner, those who love Rama never cease in celebrating Him, paying special attention on auspicious days like the one that marks His appearance into this world, the day the crest-jewel of the Raghu dynasty finally arrived, the day Sita’s husband appeared in this earthly plane, and the day Shri Hanuman’s life and soul first graced this realm with His transcendental form.

In Closing:

Ocean of mercy and happiness to call,

Crest-jewel of great souls them all.

 

Address by King Janaka was made,

Highest honor to Shri Rama was paid.

 

“From time to time, us don’t forget,

And your love for us free don’t let.”

 

That Rama remembers know it’s true,

Lives in the heart alongside you.

 

Rama Navami a day to give praise,

The Supreme Lord glorify in endless ways.

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Gaura Purnima 2014

Posted by krishnasmercy on March 15, 2014

[Lord Chaitanya with mother]“Most of his contemporary biographers have mentioned certain anecdotes regarding Chaitanya which are simple records of his early miracles. It is said that when he was an infant in his mother’s arms he wept continually, and when the neighboring ladies cried Haribol he used to stop. Thus there was a continuation of the utterance of Haribol in the house, foreshewing the future mission of the hero.” (Teachings of Lord Chaitanya, Prologue)

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“Haribol!” This is the request of Shri Krishna Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, the golden avatara of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who appeared in the age of Kali to deliver the fallen souls, who were deep in the clutches of the illusory energy of God, maya. Committing errata after errata by considering the material energy to be superior, by worshiping for temporary rewards instead of seeking transcendence, and by denying the transcendental form of the Supreme, the people in Kali had become most unfortunate. Fortunately, in the month of Phalguna on the full moon night during the year of 1486, the rescuer of the fallen souls arrived in this realm, bringing with Him His closest associates, who would save the people through begging them to chant the holy names of the Lord.

[Lord Chaitanya's advent]“Do it for me.” This is the line used by those who really want to get something done in a circumstance where other forms of persuasion are less effective. This line works when there is mutual affection. If I have a friend who is particularly dear to me, they may not be friends with all of my other friends. In the hypothetical situation of a gathering I am having at my home, this friend may not want to attend. “I hate that other guy who is coming to your house,” they will tell me. “If he’s coming, then I’m not. Sorry, man.”

I can try different means of persuasion. “It’ll only be for a few hours. You won’t have to talk to him. You guys should just bury the hatchet, reconcile and become friends again.” If his animosity is so great, these words will not persuade him. If I lean on his affection for me, however, I might get somewhere. “Okay, I know you don’t like this person, but what about me? Can you do this for me? We’ve been friends for so long. I would feel awful if you didn’t come. Don’t let your quarrel with him take away from our relationship. It would mean so much to me if you could cast aside your differences for one night.”

When all else fails, this method has the greatest likelihood of succeeding. Now imagine if the situation is one where I’m persuading someone to do something that will be to their benefit. Perhaps the persuasion is for a child who doesn’t want to go to school. Or maybe it is for someone who is too afraid to take an exam, but that exam is what they need to pass in order to enter their respective field. In such cases, I will lean on my good relationship as leverage for getting that person, who is near and dear to me, to do what is ultimately for their own good.

[Lord Chaitanya]This explains the situation of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu to some degree. The comparison is not completely accurate because what Mahaprabhu begs for others is that which will give them the highest benefit. He persuades others into following their constitutional occupation, which is devotional service, or bhakti-yoga. Moreover, He is a friend to everyone. He has love for every single creature, whether they praise Him or curse Him. To those who are obstinate, He begs in the humblest manner. He persuades them through His own chanting of the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

Chaitanya Charitamrita, Adi 17.31“One who thinks himself lower than the grass, who is more tolerant than a tree, and who does not expect personal honor yet is always prepared to give all respect to others can very easily always chant the holy name of the Lord.” (Lord Chaitanya, Chaitanya Charitamrita, Adi 17.31)

Lord Chaitanya is unlike any other avatara, or incarnation, of the Supreme Lord, for He takes the impetus to arouse people from their sleep in maya, or illusion. Other incarnations appear amongst devotees and use force to rid the world of evil influences. The devoted souls then have accounts of activities to remember in limitless ways. They also receive teachings to apply in their daily lives. As Lord Chaitanya, God accepts a humble guise, one that is more difficult to envy. In an apparently weaker position, He has more leverage in getting others to follow His instructions. He goes to “where the sinners are,” as the saying goes, instead of having the sinners come to Him. He inspires countless future generations to follow the same example, and they do so without receiving much fame or appreciation. Just like Lord Chaitanya, they know that if others say the names of Hari, or God, everyone will be supremely benefitted.

[Pancha-tattva]Lord Chaitanya accomplished this task even as an infant. Shortly after appearing from the womb of mother Shachi, He sometimes would cry on purpose. The well-wishing members of the community would then try every which way to pacify Him. But only one method would work. When they had failed with everything else, they chanted the names of Hari. Hearing that sound, the child, who was known as Nimai, immediately would stop crying. He gave them the secret to His heart. Without offering a single word of instruction, without delivering a single sermon or pointing them to a single book, He got them to follow the eternal instruction of “Haribol.”

On the occasion of Gaura Purnima, we remember Lord Chaitanya and the ocean of mercy He created, one that continues to flow to this very day. We say the names of Hari over and over again to please Him. And by pleasing Him, we bring the ultimate benefit to ourselves, finally breaking free of the illusion that has tricked us for too long into following so many erroneous paths.

In Closing:

As child, crying was His way,

To get others Hari to say.

 

Other methods work did not,

Only by hearing Hari crying to stop.

 

As adult following method the same,

Humbly begging others to chant holy name.

 

His ocean of mercy flows to this day,

Pleases Him when names of Hari we say.

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Mahotsava

Posted by krishnasmercy on February 10, 2014

[Ratha yatra]“Utsava means ‘pleasure.’ Whenever some function takes place to express happiness, it is called utsava. Utsava, the expression of complete happiness, is always present in the Vaikunthalokas, the abode of the Lord, who is worshipable even by demigods like Brahma, to say nothing of other, less important entities such as human beings.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 3.19.31 Purport)

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One of the wonderful things about Krishna consciousness is that there’s always something to celebrate. Every moment of the day is meant to be spent in blissful contemplation of the Absolute, whose transcendental features are attractive in every way, rightfully earning Him the name Krishna. To aid in that contemplation are limitless activities, some of which are kindly described in ancient Sanskrit texts. Poets and saints have come along the way to expand on those descriptions, adding in their own realizations in the process, all the while remaining true to the original message, that of divine love being the ultimate occupation for man.

The activities described are either of the original Lord Himself or one of His avataras. The Sanskrit meaning to the word is “one who descends.” Avatara does not mean one who suddenly puts on a material dress. It does not mean one who subjects himself to the threefold miseries of life, going through the cycle of birth and death like the rest of us. The avatara specifically descends from the spiritual world, which means that the identity of the personality is fixed, as is their position in greatness.

There are also partial incarnations, which are a specific kind of avatara. In these avataras, the potency of the original Lord descends in the represented personalities, who may not be exactly the same as the original Lord. God empowers these people to appear and deliver the society at large. If we think about our present circumstances, likely it was a few leaders of the past who formed the system of government we currently operate under. Basic things we take for granted like fire departments, lending libraries, electricity, fireplaces, and daylight savings time actually were discovered or significantly improved upon by a single man.

[Poster of Vishnu avataras]So these are the workings of the Lord, who arranges everything perfectly, to take place at the proper time. As the personalities who glorify Him are one with Him in interest, celebration of their appearance and activities is just as worthwhile as remembrance of God’s own amazing deeds. Depending on which tradition you follow, there may be many more or a few less celebrations throughout the year, but for the devotee of Krishna or Vishnu, some of the more common ones are mentioned herewith: [The dates fluctuate since the lunar calendar is used]

[Nityananda Prabhu]Around February or so, there is the celebration for the appearance of Nityananda Prabhu, the dear brother of Lord Chaitanya. Together these two, incarnations of God and His lead servitor respectively, revived the bhakti tradition in India some five hundred years ago. Unlike with previous incarnations, there were direct outreach efforts made. Nityananda Prabhu specifically begged anyone he met to chant the holy names of God.

[Lord Chaitanya]Lord Chaitanya’s appearance festival comes next, sometime in March typically. Lord Chaitanya gave the peace formula in a Sanskrit verse that best encapsulates the spirit of the Supreme Lord and His tremendous potency. That verse is “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.” As in the material world man is by default averse to devotion to God, thinking himself to be eligible for assuming the post of the greatest person in the world, Lord Chaitanya did not openly speak philosophy with everyone He met. He instead asked them to just chant the holy names. Lord Chaitanya was the most intelligent, so He could engage anyone in any argument. Sometimes He would even argue about something in many different ways, ultimately showing that the only correct explanation to anything is its relation to Krishna, or God.

[Rama Darbar]Sometime in April comes the appearance day anniversary of Lord Ramachandra, of the Ramayana fame. He is the Supreme Lord who appeared many ages ago to uphold virtue, protect the righteous, and destroy the miscreants, who were led at the time by the king of Lanka, Ravana. Lord Ramachandra is known by His closest associates, Sita, Lakshmana and Hanuman, who are always celebrated along with His endearing memory. Lord Rama is the Rama addressed in the maha-mantra.

[Narasimhadeva killing Hiranyakashipu]Along with the flowers of Spring, May also brings the mahotsava for Lord Narasimhadeva. The same Rama and Chaitanya, He appeared in an interesting form, one that was half-man and half-lion. He protected the innocent five year old son of a king. The boy Prahlada was harassed by his father, and having no other protection, he simply remembered his beloved Vishnu. Finally the Supreme Lord arrived on the scene to do away with the powerful and evil king Hiranyakashipu.

[Lord Balarama with cow]Typically in early August the Vaishnava celebrates the appearance day of Lord Balarama, the elder brother of Shri Krishna. He is the same Nityananda and Lakshmana, the original spiritual master, or guru. By Lord Balarama’s grace one becomes fearless in their accepting and following of the orders of the spiritual master, and they soon turn from trying to stay on the devotional path to remaining on it with such a firmness that no one can ever knock them off of it. The Rama addressed in the maha-mantra can also refer to Balarama.

[Lord Krishna as a child]A few weeks later is the appearance day celebration for Shri Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This occasion, known as Janmashtami, brings to mind the sweet and adorable child who lived in Vrindavana under the care of mother Yashoda and Maharaja Nanda. The child Krishna enchanted all the town’s residents with His smile, the sounds of His flute, and His delightful play. He later on delivered the Bhagavad-gita to the distressed warrior Arjuna. This Bhagavad-gita is famous today, with its most authorized translation and commentary authored by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.

[Shrila Prabhupada]Speaking of His Divine Grace, Shrila Prabhupada appeared on this earth on the day after Janmashtami. His appearance day is celebrated as Vyasa Puja, or the worship of the spiritual master, who follows in a line of succession from Vyasadeva, who compiled all of the major works of the Vedas, the original scriptural tradition of the world. Worship of the guru and worship of Krishna go side by side, on parallel lines. Thus Vyasa Puja is as important as any other festival throughout the year.

[Shrimati Radharani]A few weeks later is the anniversary of the appearance day of Shrimati Radharani, Shri Krishna’s eternal consort. Known as Radhashtami, this day brings to mind the love that Vrishabhanu’s daughter feels for Krishna. She never thinks of anyone else, and she is of the purest character. She has every trait desirable to Krishna, and since their love is so strong, they are considered one.

[Lord Rama returning home]In October or November comes Diwali, which is likely the most widely known festival of the Vedic tradition. In secular circles, it is described as the “festival of lights,” but those lights have a religious significance. They were first laid out as a welcome by citizens eager to again feast their eyes on the beautiful Shri Rama, who finally returned home after being away for fourteen years. He came home with Sita, Lakshmana, Hanuman, and a host of other heroes who had helped to rescue Sita from the clutches of the evil Ravana. That initial celebration gave birth to Diwali, which is a tradition still honored to this day.

[Govardhana Puja]The day after Diwali is Govardhana Puja, which is a tradition instituted by Krishna Himself during His time on this earth. One year in Vrindavana He advised that the neighboring Govardhana Hill be worshiped instead of the king of heaven, Indra. Indra retaliated by trying to drown the inhabitants with a flood. Krishna then used the massive hill as an umbrella to save them. This festival is notable for its tremendous feast, which is served to all members of society, regardless of their social status.

These are just some of the important festivals in the Krishna conscious tradition, and they all serve the same purpose: to keep one conscious of God. That consciousness should be in love, and so the festivals are always times for the expression of complete happiness. As felicity in life comes more from every day improvements rather than waiting for a single fortunate occurrence, the same festive atmosphere is meant to be recreated every day by chanting the holy names, hearing about Krishna’s pastimes, and doing service to those kind souls who continue to pass on the message of divine light, pure love, and everlasting truth.

In Closing:

Told to be conscious of God now,

But with trouble this accomplished how?

 

Mahotsava the Lord to us gives,

So that in remembering Him we’ll live.

 

Many celebrations throughout the year,

Bring to mind Krishna and those to Him dear.

 

Take your pick and make favorite any,

Benefits from a single observance so many.

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Govardhana Puja 2013

Posted by krishnasmercy on November 3, 2013

Govardhana Puja“According to the instruction of Lord Krishna, Nanda Maharaja and the cowherd men called in learned brahmanas and began to worship Govardhana Hill by chanting Vedic hymns and offering prasadam. The inhabitants of Vrindavana assembled together, decorated their cows and gave them grass. Keeping the cows in front, they began to circumambulate Govardhana Hill.” (Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 1, Ch 24)

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“Why should we listen to you? Who are you anyway? Where is your authority? We’ve been doing it our way for years. No one has had any problem with it. Now you come and tell us to change. You want us to worship a neighboring hill instead. You think that this will be better for us, but in what way? You are new to this town, while the traditions we follow predate us. They have done good for our community for so long, so I don’t see why we should listen to you. Who has advised you in this direction? Who is your guru?”

Such questions were not posed to the son of Nanda Maharaja several thousand years ago in the sacred town of Vrindavana. The father himself didn’t raise much opposition. He was a little perplexed, for the residents of the town were preparing for the annual Indra-yajna, a sacrifice that had rewarded them plenty through the years. The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Shri Krishna, was the one making the request. Yet Nanda and the others listened to Him not because of His divine nature. Of this they were unaware, but since He was such a darling, in the most beautiful boyhood body, and since He always wished everyone well in His innocence, they took the chance and followed Him.

Lord KrishnaThe child is a friend to all. They barely know the concept of enemies. They are innocent, after all. Even if someone is mean to them, the most they might do is avoid that person’s association. They won’t harbor hatred or ill-will for long. At that stage in maturity their minds are incapable of housing these negative emotions. The desire for constant play makes sure that there is no room for extended animosity.

Others know that the child is friendly towards everyone. That is why with the exception of the most cold-hearted and selfish, everyone will take delight in the activities, speech, and desires of the child. If an adult should break into your home and roam about, you will most certainly take notice. You might call the police. You might take out that weapon that is tucked away in your clothes drawer in your bedroom. You will certainly not ignore the issue.

But if the intruder is a child, there isn’t as much worry. If the child belongs to a neighbor, you might even take delight in their behavior. “Oh look, they have snuck into our home. I wonder what they want. Perhaps they want to play with our son. Perhaps they are looking for food, for they really enjoyed what we served yesterday. How wonderful it is that they have cleverly found a way to enter our home without us noticing.”

Krishna bound by ropeSuch sentiments were regularly echoed in Vrindavana a long time ago. Vrindavana was a small farm community. Though it had tremendous wealth in the form of cows and their resulting milk products, the real treasure was the darling young child of mother Yashoda and her husband Nanda, who was the king of the community. This boy, who went by many endearing names, captivated the hearts and minds of the residents, who were all very pious. Their favorite name for Him was Krishna, which is a Sanskrit word that means all-attractive. He was also known as Shyamasundara, which means one who is very beautiful with a dark complexion, similar to that of a cloud that is about to pour down rain. He was known as Damodara as well, for one time His mother bound Him to a mortar by the belly as punishment for having broken a pot of butter.

Indeed, young Krishna loved butter. He was not picky as to the kind or the source. He didn’t want to purchase the butter, either. He would eat it at home straight out of the jar. He would also go to the homes of the neighbors and take it from their stocks. When the neighbors caught wind, they hid the pots up high in the pantry. Krishna would then conspire with His friends to break into these pantries and climb all the way up to reach the butter. Electricity was not required, as the jewels that mother Yashoda carefully decorated Krishna with supplied the lighting for the dark room.

Krishna and friends stealing butterSometimes Krishna would get caught stealing and then be taken in front of mother Yashoda, who was to hand out swift punishment. But then amazingly the same people lodging the complaints would lobby for clemency, for they couldn’t stay angry with the darling child. Since Krishna was the pleasure of the town, He was also known as Gokulananda. He was the moon of the sacred city, so He was also known as Vrindavanachandra.

Since He was so dear to everyone, when one year He asked for the annual Indra-yajna to be skipped in favor of worship of Govardhana Hill, the people listened. A yajna is a sacrifice, and not surprisingly a sacrifice is supposed to yield good things. Indra is the heavenly personality in charge of the rain, so when he is pleased with a sacrifice in his honor, he makes sure there is sufficient rain in the area. There is no other way to guarantee sufficient rainfall. Artificial methods can be employed to import water from other areas, but even then the nature is supplying the water.

If an adult had made the same request, the people might not have listened. After all, messing with the rainfall was risky business. Without rain there would be no crops or vegetation. How would the people survive? They knew that Krishna wished them well. He was a friend to all. There was something magical about Him too, which the people noticed. Therefore they listened to Him. They were mesmerized by His childhood innocence, and from their devotion they were protected from even a vengeful Indra, who was indeed upset that the sacrifice in his honor was skipped.

Krishna lifting Govardhana HillOn the occasion of Govardhana Puja we remember that friend to all, the darling of Vrindavana. Though He is the original and most powerful person, and thus much more potent than any other individual in a childhood body, that wonderful form He exhibits in Vrindavana is His original one. It shows that He is indeed a friend to the world and that from following Him all good things come.

In Closing:

More than just innocent mouse,

Is thief who enters the house.

 

When entrant a child of curiosity,

In dwellers absent is animosity.

 

Beautiful child the father Nanda to persuade,

Entire community His advice then obeyed.

 

Though of Indra’s wrath to be afraid,

Protected by God as child they stayed.

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Diwali 2013

Posted by krishnasmercy on November 2, 2013

Diwali lights“From home to home auspicious songs are being sung, and both rich and poor are equally happy. Tulsidas melodiously sings Rama’s glories, which destroy all the impurities of Kali Yuga.” (Gitavali, 309.4)

ghara ghara mangalacāra ekarasa harasita ranka-ganī |
tulasidāsa kala kīrati gāvahiṃ, jo kalimala-samanī ||

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God’s association is for all. If any person has the chance to be by His side, it means that any person is allowed to worship Him. Such worship is encouraged, as the spirit soul’s original position is pure God consciousness. The purity in mood brings the highest pleasure, a level of satisfaction otherwise desperately sought after but rarely achieved. On the occasion of Diwali we remember the heartwarming homecoming celebration for Shri Rama, His beautiful wife Sita, His devoted younger brother Lakshmana, and His many friends who risked their lives in His service. We also remember how in Rama’s kingdom the initial homecoming became its own annual tradition, where rich and poor alike celebrated Rama and enjoyed His protection.

Gold coins stackedThe tendency is to envy the wealthy. “Oh, they have so much. Do they really need that many pairs of shoes? I don’t feel bad for them if they run into hard times. What’s the worst that can happen to them, they have to sell their second yacht? At least when they are destitute they will learn what so many of us have to go through. They have no worries in the world, so why should I care so much about them?”

With the poor, the tendency is to pity. “Oh look at that person and how poor they are. I can’t imagine living like they do. They barely have any possessions. They wear maybe two or three sets of clothes. They eat the simplest food. They must have so much trouble paying the bills each month. It’s not fair that they are struggling while the greedy corporations are raking in the profits. Maybe one day they will find their way out of poverty.”

While it is natural to think along these lines, in the spiritual sense there is no distinction. Think of it like having two children, one who spends a lot of money and buys a lot of things and another who barely has anything. Ideally the parents will love both children equally, not caring for the temporary lots in life. After all, material opulence is just a collection of stuff. It has no bearing on the person’s identity. This must be the case because the wealthy adult likely wasn’t wealthy earlier on. The poor person might also have had a lot a few years prior. Financial dispositions can dramatically turn on the dime. When collecting on unpaid bills, credit card companies often offer a program known as “hardship.” This is to help those who previously had a lot but then suddenly lost it all. It is understood that fortune is chanchala, or always moving.

Whether there is a giant mansion or a tiny shack, God’s presence is still there. He is within every individual as the Supersoul, or Paramatma. God’s presence is within every atom as well, so never is there a time when He is not the witness to events. Since He is everywhere, He can be worshiped by any person, at any time. Unless you are taught about this universal presence and how to take advantage of it, you will think otherwise. The yogi thinks God can only be found through intense meditation and contorting the body in different stretching poses. The jnani thinks God can only be found with great intellect, which is built brick by brick through study of shastra, or scripture. The fruitive worker thinks God can only be found through working hard and accumulating a lot of things; through material success God will be worshiped sufficiently.

Goswami TulsidasGoswami Tulsidas says otherwise. As a saint of the bhakti tradition, he follows devotional service to God. Bhakti-yoga, or devotional service, is identical to God. Everything comes from the Lord, but not everything represents Him fully. Some things are separated from Him in terms of interest. Bhakti-yoga represents Him fully, and the person who engages in it is so in tune with the divine consciousness that they cease thinking in terms of explicit religious practice. All they know is devotion, which brings God’s association, so they don’t take their way of life to be out of the ordinary. To them, it is the only way to live.

Whether one can stretch or not, they can stay with the Supreme Lord. Whether they can read Sanskrit or not, they can sing the glories of God. Whether they can earn a lot of money or not, they can honor the Supreme Lord and feel tremendous happiness. The scene in the above referenced verse is Diwali in Ayodhya. Diwali is a popular Indian tradition today, often celebrated as a social occasion, similar to the way Christmas and Thanksgiving are viewed. Its actual origin is religious, an event where the Supreme Lord was welcomed home after being away for fourteen years.

Rama and friends riding homeHe appeared in Ayodhya in His incarnation of Lord Rama, the eldest son of King Dasharatha. Rama showed all good qualities, especially exhibiting fearlessness in following righteous principles and defending the innocent. The citizens of Ayodhya loved Him very much, and they anxiously awaited His return home after He left for fourteen years. Rama brought back Sita and Lakshmana, His two closest associates, along with forest-dwellers who helped Him rescue Sita from the clutches of the fiendish king of Lanka named Ravana.

Rama was installed as king after he returned, and during His reign that first Diwali became an annual celebration. In his Gitavali, Goswami Tulsidas describes how Diwali was celebrated during Rama’s time. The homes were decorated with so many lamps. Electricity wasn’t necessary, as fire burning from lamps fueled by ghee was enough to create a heartwarming vision for all the residents.

Tulsidas says that both rich and poor alike were happy. Ekarasa means that they each had the same mellow, which was harasita, or tremendous happiness. In ekarasa, both rich and poor were united, despite their class difference. Rama is pleased by devotion and nothing else. If a person has many lamps they can arrange, then fine. If another person only has one lamp, that too is sufficient. The genuineness of the sentiment is what is taken into account.

Rich or poor was of no concern in Ayodhya, but one may feel that since Rama is not ruling the earth today they can’t celebrate in the same way. Tulsidas clears the doubt by saying that in the Kali Yuga, the present age which is notorious for the rise in quarrel and hypocrisy, the glories of Rama are sung by him melodiously. That singing removes all the faults of the present age. In Kali Yuga men are generally short-lived, unfortunate, and devoid of character. Instead of following the timeless discipline of bhakti-yoga, which is strengthened through respect for the basic principles of religion, man makes up his own rules and regulations, which are all rooted in defiance of God’s will. Since man is ignorant of the truth, he is especially prone to making distinctions based on class, which is not wise.

Tulsidas writing about RamaTulsidas, who appeared on this earth many years after the Diwali celebration in Ayodhya described above, celebrated by singing the glories of Rama, whose activities are thoroughly documented in the Vedic texts. Rama is God for everyone, whether one grows up in the Vedic tradition or not. Since He is full of opulences, He is Bhagavan. One way to test His divinity is to see who is eligible to worship Him. Rich or poor, pure or impure, man or woman – the only qualification is sincerity in purpose, which Tulsidas forever displays through his wonderful singing. He cures the ailments brought on by Kali Yuga by using the potion of Rama’s name, fame, glories, and attributes. On Diwali we honor his singing and his retelling of the festivities in Ayodhya during Rama’s reign.

In Closing:

With rich and poor difference we see,

One with nothing while other in opulence to be.

 

In Kali Yuga over such distinctions to fight,

But cure is there, one way for all to unite.

 

Like Tulsidas, the glories of Supreme Lord sing,

Can worship Him even if you own not a thing.

 

Diwali in Ayodhya, people of sentiments pure,

Ekarasa of happiness for both rich and poor.

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Dussehra 2013

Posted by krishnasmercy on October 13, 2013

Lord Rama on chariot“Then a shower of flowers fell from the sky, covering Rama’s chariot, something difficult to accomplish and fascinating to see.” (Valmiki Ramayana, Yuddha Kand, 108.28)

nipapātāntarikṣācca puṣpavṛṣṭistadā bhuvi |
kirantī raghavarathaṃ duravāpā manoharā ||

Ravana’s many men couldn’t do it. Though they were expert in black magic and thus capable of appearing on the scene one second and then disappearing the next, in this endeavor they were dismal failures. Ravana’s gigantic brother, who slept for the majority of the year, couldn’t do it, either. He had a tremendous mass, so much so that his accumulated food in the belly allowed him to hibernate for a long time. And then Ravana himself proved a failure. Despite his ten heads, twenty arms, famous fighting prowess, and boons granted from celestials, he was not able to accomplish this one task that was done very easily by the celestials. Though Ravana and his men used many arrows that were hard and swift, it was a shower of flowers that managed to finally cover Rama’s chariot. We celebrate that feat on the occasion of Dussehra.

In Sanskrit the material energy is known as maya. Its literal meaning is “that which is not,” though it is often paired with other words to give a more specific relation to an energy. In discussions pertaining to truth and reality, maya takes the side opposing God. Not exactly a devil, maya is that which is not directly God. Maya still comes from God, so she works at His behest. She acts through illusion, tricking others into thinking they are progressing along the proper path, when they actually aren’t.

Maya is very difficult to overcome. She pervades a land ruled over by the feminine expansion of God known as Durga, whose very name means “a fort that is difficult to cross over.” Without God’s help, maya cannot be overcome. Think of wanting that toy when you were younger. You wanted it very much. You cried and cried in the store so that your parents would buy it for you. Maybe you were a good kid so this didn’t happen to you, but surely the same was seen in another child.

The child can’t get the toy because the parents won’t buy it for them. This is a limiting factor. It is a barrier. The parents’ consent is absent, so the child is stymied in their desire. Another option is to take the toy from the store. Again, there is a barrier, this time in the form of the store managers, who keep an eye out for shoplifters. Even if the child successfully takes one toy that they want, they can’t continue the pattern of behavior forever. They can’t steal everything in life and get away with it.

Maya is so powerful that there is no conquering over her without sanction from a higher authority. That sanction only comes when the nature of the individual’s desire changes. When one no longer hankers after supremacy in the areas of beauty, wealth, strength, fame, wisdom and renunciation, they have a chance of living within maya peacefully. In that surrendered state, if they then desire to glorify the controller of maya, the origin of matter and spirit, the situation completely reverses. Instead of the individual being stymied in their efforts, it is the Supreme Lord Himself who can do nothing to stop the success of the determined individual.

The occasion celebrated on Dussehra is a wonderful example of this. Ravana was the fiendish king of Lanka during a specific time period within the Treta Yuga, the second age of creation. He wanted world supremacy. He was close to having it. He got a wonderful kingdom of Lanka, full of real riches. Not just a bank balance that showed he had a lot of a paper currency stashed away somewhere, Ravana had possession of physical commodities such as gold and jewels. Wealth attracts women, and Ravana had a lot of them as well. He had so many beautiful princesses as wives. He had so much enjoyment on a regular basis, and the world feared him, not daring to take him on in battle.

Maya’s spell is illusion, so when one thinks they have overcome her, they sink even further. In this sense it is more auspicious to be a constant failure with respect to material desires. If you get too much success, you might start to think that you are God and that you can conquer everything, including death. In the Bible there is the proverb about how difficult it is for the rich person to reach the kingdom of God. The obvious meaning is that the wealthy person thinks they have succeeded in life without God’s help, and so they will have no desire to advance to the higher destination in the next life. Lord Krishna gives the more complete definition of the same concept in a verse in the Shrimad Bhagavatam, where He mentions how the wealth of misers causes them misery in the present life and brings them to hell after death.

Shrimad Bhagavatam, 11.23.15“Generally, the wealth of misers never allows them any happiness. In this life it causes their self-torment, and when they die it sends them to hell.” (Lord Krishna, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 11.23.15)

Despite so much success, Ravana wanted more. He finally crossed the line when he stole a beautiful princess in secret while she was living in the wilderness with her husband and His younger brother. He had to steal her because she refused his advances. He also did the mission incognito because he was warned that the woman’s husband would destroy him in battle.

Lord RamaThough he carried out the act successfully, he would not get away with it. Ravana would eventually meet death at the hands of the beautiful princess’ husband, who was named Rama. From the Vedas we learn that Rama is God, an incarnation of the original Personality of Godhead. He is the controller of maya. Maya belongs to Him, so He is never under her influence. His physically manifest body is never composed of maya, either.

The controller of maya easily defeated the man most controlled by her in a fierce firefight, featuring swiftly-coursing arrows released from majestic bows. Each man fought from a chariot. Ravana’s goal was to cover Rama’s chariot. He did not succeed in this, but interestingly after Ravana’s defeat, the celestials from above were able to without a problem. They didn’t use arrows. Instead, they dropped a shower of flowers, and it completely covered Rama’s chariot.

Flowers are considered part of the material energy. If we want to cover our house with flowers, it might be a little difficult. We may succeed once, but only after great effort. At some point in trying to replicate the success we will meet with failure. When the same desire is applied to glorifying the Supreme Lord, there is never failure. Not even He can stop the success of the devotees, for it is in His nature to help the surrendered souls. He cannot act otherwise. If He did, He wouldn’t be God.

Flowers at Rama's feetOn the occasion of Dussehra we celebrate the defeat of Ravana at the hands of Rama, who was thus able to regain His beautiful wife Sita. We also celebrate the defeat of Rama’s chariot, which was covered by the flowers of devotion dropped by the celestials, who were ecstatic over His victory. That enchanting vision proves that there is only one way to overcome maya, and it is through pure and unmotivated love for the controller of maya.

In Closing:

Despite black magic, here and there to hover,

With arrows Rama’s chariot fiends not to cover,

 

Celestials did amazing feat with flowers,

From the sky came covering shower.

 

Maya’s illusion difficult to overcome,

Through God’s sanction only victory to come.

 

In devotion even Supreme Lord to conquer,

Ready on His devotees any gift to confer.

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Radhashtami 2013

Posted by krishnasmercy on September 11, 2013

Radha-Krishna“Radha-Krishna is one. Radha-Krishna is Krishna and Krishna’s pleasure potency combined. When Krishna exhibits His pleasure potency, He appears to be two – Radha and Krishna. Otherwise, Radha and Krishna are one.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Chaitanya Charitamrita, Madhya 8.282 Purport)

When we say that someone has eyes for someone else, it means that they are attracted to that person. A symptom of that attraction is the behavior of their eyes: it will only focus on the object of attraction. In the case of the perfection of the energy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, this phrase has both symbolic and literal meaning. It is symbolic in the sense that the energy is certainly attracted to the Supreme Lord, taking the utmost pleasure in seeing Him. It is literal in the sense that during the energy’s pastimes on earth in her original form, the first thing she saw was her beloved. She didn’t see anything else prior, so her vision was never tainted. On the occasion of Radhashtami we celebrate her wonderful sight, a sense which is dedicated exclusively to the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare,” is a mantra now famous throughout the world due to the tireless work of His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and his many disciples. Taking the original Sanskrit definition, a mantra is a sequence of words to deliver the mind. To deliver implies that there is some danger. The mind is considered to be in perpetual danger when enveloped by maya. Maya is a Sanskrit word that can mean “that which is not.” It is actually just an energy, but based on how it is viewed it can create an illusion.

Light switchWhen the mind is suffering from the effects of maya, it needs to be rescued. Think of it like being stuck in a dark room and searching for the light switch. You have to be very careful in such a circumstance. If you walk too fast, you’ll likely bump into something. You could walk straight into a wall and cut your head open. So you keep your arms out, feeling for different objects, until you finally find the light switch. When the switch is flipped on, the light delivers you from the dangerous situation.

A mantra is like a light switch for the mind affected by maya. There are many mantras in the Vedas, the original scriptural tradition of India. There are different ailments that afflict the mind, and so many mantras exist to give aid. The aforementioned mantra is known as the maha-mantra, or the great sequence of words to deliver the mind. This mantra provides the best light, so to speak. It clears the mind of the illusion of false proprietorship over temporary objects. It clears up for the mind the doubt over the existence of a supreme controller. It allows the mind to know that there is both a Supreme Lord and an energy, and that both are meant to work together.

In the maha-mantra, the words Krishna and Rama address the Supreme Lord. They are two words to describe the same person. Another word for Krishna is Hari. And that which belongs to Hari is known as Hare. Hare is thus the energy of God; it is always with Him. We are part of the “Hare,” but we have a choice in how to act. Think of it like children who can either listen to the parents or ignore them. The Hare addressed in the maha-mantra is the purest form of that energy; it never thinks to deviate from devotional service, which is the highest occupational duty for all spirit souls.

Hare has eyes only for Hari. This is evidenced in her behavior. God is the masculine, and His supreme energy is the feminine. Indeed, in the grand scheme we are all feminine, though in the temporary body we think we are masters over the predominated material energy. We are really under the control of the divine, who is thus masculine. When the feminine always seeks to meet the interests of the masculine, and the masculine fully reciprocates that affection, there is oneness. Thus in this sense there is no difference between Hari and Hare.

Hari and Hare live in the transcendental abode known as Goloka Vrindavana. In that special land everyone is Krishna conscious. No one is deluded by maya. There is no need for deliverance of the mind, for the mind is always engaged in serving Krishna to some capacity. There is a replica of that Vrindavana in the earthly realm, and from time to time both the energetic and the energy descend to show their divine play.

Shrimati RadharaniHare appears in her original form of Shrimati Radharani. The exact sequence of events pertaining to her appearance and pastimes varies, since she appears in millennium after millennium. Space and time are continuous, so all manifestations go through cycles of creation and destruction. Both Hari and Hare appear over and over again, and sometimes they don’t always do everything in the same way.

Their most recent appearances took place some five thousand years ago in the Vrindavana of this land. Radharani appeared as the daughter of King Vrishabhanu and his wife Kirtida. Everyone was overjoyed when she was born, for she was amazingly beautiful. As was custom, so many great personalities came to the house to see her, wishing the parents well. There was one slight problem, though. Radharani had yet to open her eyes. The parents were afraid that she was blind.

One time they called over Nanda Maharaja and mother Yashoda, who were the parents of Shri Krishna, Radharani’s beloved. It is said that while the parents were talking in another room, Krishna crawled up to the bed on which Radharani was and touched her eyes. Upon this touch, she immediately opened her eyes. The first thing she saw was Krishna. Thus we know the real meaning behind her “eye problem”: she would not look at anything without first seeing Krishna. This is the mood of the pure devotee. They would rather be blind than be forced to see so many things that aren’t fully representative of their beloved Supreme Lord. In another version of the same event, Krishna and Radharani are both sitting on the lap of mother Yashoda. Krishna then touches her eyes and she opens them for the first time, seeing Him.

Radha and KrishnaThe conditioned souls have eyes for so many things. We love one person today, and the next our eye wanders elsewhere. Today we crave a certain food dish, and tomorrow we want something else. This constant change is guaranteed to continue for as long as one is in maya, for the very definition of maya is that which is not God. Of course everything is ultimately God, but the material energy is separated from Him. It is His energy, but the inferior variety. The eyes of the person who is pure in consciousness stay fixed on God once they find Him. On Radhashtami we celebrate the beloved of Shri Krishna. She is the queen of Goloka and has eyes only for the most attractive person in the world.

In Closing:

To not look elsewhere she chose,

New child to keep her eyes closed.

 

That is until Yashoda’s boy came,

All-attractive, of Krishna the name.

 

Touched her eyes when upon bed to reach,

That eyes only for Krishna she did teach.

 

Supremely auspicious is Radhashtami day,

Name of beloved of Krishna we happily say.

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Krishna Janmashtami 2013

Posted by krishnasmercy on August 27, 2013

Krishna Janmashtami“From the movement of the different kinds of ornaments on their bodies, they were looking still more beautiful. In this way, they all reached the house of Nanda-Yashoda and blessed the child: ‘Dear child, You live long just to protect us.’ While they were blessing child Krishna in this way, they offered a mixture of turmeric powder with oil, yogurt, milk and water. They not only sprinkled this mixture on the body of child Krishna but on all other persons who were present there.” (Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 1, Ch 5)

The Supreme Personality of Godhead is described in the Vedas as purana-purusham. This means that He is the oldest purusha, or person. Purusha is the real definition of a person. It speaks to the spiritual life force, which dominates over the inanimate matter, which is prakriti. As He is the best purusha, the Supreme Lord is also described as purushottama. He is the adi-purusham as well, which is the original person. Since He is the oldest and original person, through basic deduction we see that He lives the longest. On the occasion of Krishna Janmashtami, we remember how He appeared on earth many thousands of years ago and answered the prayers of the gopis, who wished that He would live long to protect them.

The boy was named Krishna because He was all-attractive. He was considered the son of mother Yashoda in Vrindavana, but actually He appeared first from the womb of mother Devaki, who at the time was locked up in a prison cell in Mathura with her husband Vasudeva. Her child is the origin of matter and spirit, so He never actually takes birth. His birth from the womb of Devaki is more accurately described as an appearance. The sun rises in the morning and this is the dawn of a new day. There is a birth, but the sun has not come into existence suddenly. The morning is merely the changing of times within a specific frame of reference.

Krishna's birth in prison cellIn the same way, Krishna’s birth is an appearance before our very eyes. He is actually all around us all the time. In His unmanifest form, He pervades the entire creation. The very fact that there is an existence means that Krishna is around in some capacity. He is the life of all existences. His physical appearance gives life to the devoted souls, who only want to serve Him in lifetime after lifetime.

Vasudeva transferred the child to Vrindavana in the middle of the night. He did so at the child’s direction, for Krishna briefly showed Himself to be the Supreme Lord in His form of Narayana. The vision temporarily allayed the fears of the parents, as they were afraid of what the king of Mathura, Kamsa, might do if he should come to learn that Devaki had given birth to an eighth child. Previously a prophecy had informed Kamsa that his sister Devaki’s eighth son would kill him. Therefore the fiendish king was in perpetual fear, constantly worried over his impending death, which would come to him directly from the hand of God.

Vasudeva transporting Krishna across the Yamuna riverKrishna was transported to Gokula in Vrindavana, where Nanda Maharaja was the king. His wife Yashoda was pregnant at the time, but due to the intensity of labor, she was not sure whether a girl or boy was born to her. The girl who came from her womb was transferred to Mathura in place of Krishna. The next morning, all the well-wishers came to greet the new child. The priests of the community performed all the auspicious rites, and the neighboring cowherd women dressed themselves nicely for having their first look at the child.

They prayed that the child would live long and protect them. The prayer is understandable, given the fact that the elders know that their time on earth is limited. Their abilities are limited as well. The parents can’t protect the child forever. Eventually the roles will switch; the child will have to protect the elderly parents. The gopis prayed that Yashoda’s boy would live very long and protect them.

This prayer was a little different in nature than the typical hope for good fortune for a new child. Since He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna is full in six opulences. Thus His protection is not limited to bodily maintenance through strength. He would indeed protect Vrindavana using that strength. It was exhibited while within the body of a small child. As an infant, He protected the residents from a vicious whirlwind demon, a demon in the form of a bull, and a witch who masked her shape at will. When even the king of heaven, who usually is the one who protects the innocent, turned inimical for a brief period, Krishna lifted up a massive hill and held it over His head. Thus the prayers of the gopis didn’t take long to get answered.

Krishna lifting Govardhana HillKrishna lives the longest too, which means that His protection is ever-lasting. A few years after His appearance, Krishna had to leave for Mathura to deal with Kamsa and handle other affairs. Though He was no longer in Vrindavana, His presence was still felt. The memories of His pastimes remained with the residents. The gopis received protection from their beloved Krishna by remembering Him.

Bhagavad-gita, 15.8“The living entity in the material world carries his different conceptions of life from one body to another as the air carries aromas.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 15.8)

His presence in memory lasts for as long as the individual can continue to think. Memory of Krishna falls into the broader category of consciousness, and as Krishna Himself explains in the Bhagavad-gita, this consciousness carries over from lifetime to lifetime. It travels with the spirit soul to the next body, like the air carrying aromas. This means that the protection wished for by the gopis stayed with them in spite of where Krishna went.

Based on the ability to celebrate the occasion of Krishna Janmashtami, we know that Krishna’s protection continues to this day. He is brought into the memory by always chanting the holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.” The gopis wanted only devotional service in life; they had no desire for wealth, fame, beauty, or intelligence. Krishna protected their foremost desire. Since He is the oldest and original person, that protection is guaranteed to remain for whosoever desires it.

In Closing:

At Yashoda’s son to have first look,

Trip to her house gopis took.

 

Decorated nicely, flowers in their hair,

At all-attractive Shri Krishna to stare.

 

Asked that He protection to give,

With all-attractiveness long to live.

 

Desires of devoted souls always met.

From Janmashtami same protection get.

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Narasimha Chaturdashi 2013

Posted by krishnasmercy on May 23, 2013

DSC04354“Hiranyakashipu had been exactly like a fever of meningitis in the head of the three worlds. Thus when the wives of the demigods in the heavenly planets saw that the great demon had been killed by the personal hands of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, their faces blossomed in great joy. The wives of the demigods again and again showered flowers from heaven upon Lord Narasimhadeva like rain.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 7.8.35)

Imagine if it were a crime to love. The crime applied at the most basic level; loving in thought was enough to qualify. No other action would be needed to break the law. Then imagine that the punishment for the crime was death, by any means. Whatever it would take to end the life of the culprit would be sanctioned by the government. Imagine, then, that the government made this the top priority, the one crime more than any other that needed to be prosecuted. Such a circumstance seems unthinkable, but it most certainly existed a long time ago in the kingdom ruled by Hiranyakashipu. On the occasion of Narasimha Chaturdashi, we celebrate the time when the Supreme Lord descended to earth to prove to one and all that loving Him is never punishable. Rather, the one who tries to stop such a love from being practiced becomes worthy of the harshest punishment handed down in the fiercest manner.

If you look at the popular causes taken up by celebrities and the philanthropically inclined, they all somehow involve love. If there is a specific disease that results from people having sexual relations, which is deemed the only kind of love by those who are unaware of the spiritual science, then all efforts are taken to eradicate that disease. No thought is given to abstinence or refraining from that particular activity. Why would you want to do that, as love is the reason for living?

Then, if there is any kind of obstacle made in the profession of love, the same activism is there. Never mind that nature’s law dictates something else with respect to relationships. Also, never mind that the piece of paper from the government doesn’t interfere with the relationship in any way. It also doesn’t make the relationship. I may be very good friends with someone else, but do I need the government to acknowledge that friendship? The prohibition in this case has no bearing on the relationship, and so my activism to get the government to change their mind is really pointless.

Real love is known as prema in Sanskrit. It can only be directed at God because God is the only person who can accept an unending amount of love offered under any circumstance. I can’t love my cat when I am hundreds of miles away from it. While I am at work, and my cat is at home, there is nothing I can do to offer love. My thinking of the cat isn’t as good as being with it. Watching my cat on webcams installed in the home also isn’t as good as being there. The same holds true for any relationship.

In dealings with a paramour, if I say “I love you” too quickly, I could ruin the relationship. If I offer too many flowers, write too many notes, or make too many spontaneous gestures, the corresponding party could leave me for someone else. Thus there is a game that must be played, where the love is withheld to some degree. The fact that the other party can voluntarily opt out of the relationship proves that the love I offer is not supreme. It has conditions.

Prahlada and NarasimhaIn love for God, there are no conditions. Not even the most powerful person in the world pitted against the least powerful can do anything to stop the love. Narasimhadeva appeared on this earth to confirm this fact. His devotee, Prahlada Maharaja, was only five years old at the time. Due to the good fortune of his mother having met Narada Muni when she was pregnant with child, Prahlada was born a devotee. He didn’t want to chase after illusory happiness. He didn’t want to just play the day away. Rather, he knew that loving God is the real business of the spirit soul, the essence of identity. He was so infused with devotional feelings that he couldn’t speak of anything else. Whether in recess with his fellow classmates or sitting on the lap of his father discussing the day at school, Prahlada could only praise Vishnu, which is a name for God given in the Vedas, the ancient scriptures of India.

Hiranyakashipu was the king. He was a fierce ruler too. Everyone in the world was afraid of him. Even the worst dictators have a soft spot for their family members. Such was the case with Hiranyakashipu, at least in the beginning. He was affectionate towards his son. He wanted Prahlada to follow in his footsteps. “Let my child grow up to be a great ruler, to be feared around the world like I am. Let him learn from the spiritual guides of the royal court the art of ruling. Let him learn the different methods of diplomacy and how to rule over subjects.”

Unfortunately for the king, Prahlada was only interested in Vishnu. The spiritual guides were dumbfounded by this. They hadn’t taught Prahlada anything about Vishnu. Though the Supreme Lord is the origin of matter and spirit, the strength of the strong, the giver of religious principles and the system of right and wrong, these teachers tried their best to keep Vishnu out of their teachings. Prahlada didn’t need them, though. He remembered what he heard while in the womb of his mother. Just a moment’s association with someone who loves God can thus do so much. Narada Muni gave Prahlada all the information he needed.

An outside observer can say that Prahlada was sort of a “bible thumper” or “religious zealot.” “He was a little too religious for such a young age.” In actuality, he was simply loving someone else. He didn’t ask for sanction from his father. He didn’t ask anyone else to support his relationship. He simply loved God and didn’t hold back in talking about it. This was the number one crime in the community. In the present day there are so many laws on the books that nobody knows all of them. A nation can pass a piece of legislation that is intended to overhaul the healthcare system, and no one in the country, including the lawmakers, knows what’s in the bill. In this way so many laws get ignored, by both the citizens and the administrators. The violators also don’t get punished, especially if they belong to an ethnic group that can be bought off for votes in future elections.

Prahlada thrown off a cliffUnfortunately in that kingdom, Prahlada’s crime was too egregious to be ignored. Hiranyakashipu made sure of it. He tried to kill his son in so many ways. Killing a child within the womb is a little easier in modern times because no one really sees what happens. Meat eating is very commonplace for the same reason; no one really sees the violence. In Prahlada’s case, everyone could see what was going on. The father had his attendants attack the boy with deadly weapons. That didn’t work. He had the boy thrown off of a high cliff. That didn’t work. He had the boy put into a raging fire. That didn’t work. He had the boy thrown into a pit of snakes. That didn’t work.

“My son Prahlada, you rascal, you know that when I am angry all the planets of the three worlds tremble, along with their chief rulers. By whose power has a rascal like you become so impudent that you appear fearless and overstep my power to rule you?” (Hiranyakashipu, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 7.8.6)

Nothing worked, and so the father tried to have the teachers get the boy’s mind right. When that didn’t work, Hiranyakashipu was set on killing the boy himself, but he first wanted some information. He wanted to know the source of his son’s amazing strength. Hiranyakashipu received his strength from worshiping various demigods. This is worship in the mode of passion, and so it is somewhat religious but not really. The intent was bad all along, indicated by the king’s great contempt for the Supreme Lord. The source of Prahlada’s strength was the same as it is in anyone else. The boy informed his father of this. The father then sarcastically asked if God was in the pillar next to them, as he was unable to see any higher power. Rising up in anger, Hiranyakashipu struck the pillar with his fist.

NarasimhadevaThe Supreme Lord then appeared out of the pillar. He was in a ferocious form, one fit for the occasion. Hiranyakashipu had previously been granted so many benedictions that made him immune from different kinds of attack. He was also safe in certain areas and time periods during the day. Narasimhadeva, a half man/half lion, killed the king in such a way that none of the previous boons were violated.

Prahlada’s crime indeed wasn’t one. Hiranyakashipu’s trying to stop Prahlada’s devotion in any possible way was actually the worst crime, one that the Supreme Lord Himself wanted to punish. He always comes to the rescue of those who are devoted to Him. Therefore the wise souls always chant the holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.”

In Closing:

In a kingdom from a long ago time,

To love God in just thought was a crime.

 

Devotion was in child a precious gift,

But father to offer punishment swift.

 

Though of flesh and blood of his own,

With snakes, in fire, off high cliff son was thrown.

 

Finally, to Prahlada’s rescue the Lord came,

Half-man/half-lion, of Narasimha the name.

www.krishnasmercy.org

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Rama Navami 2013

Posted by krishnasmercy on April 19, 2013

Rama lifting the bow“As antaryami, Shri Rama knows everyone’s maladies. Raising the bow, in curiosity He is drawing the string to His ear.” (Janaki Mangala, 103)

antarajāmī rāma marama saba jāneu |
dhanu caḍhāi kautukahiṃ kāna lagi tāneu ||

Sugriva put all his faith in this one person and got everything he could want in return. Vibhishana trusted the same person and was also duly rewarded. Shabari, the boatman named Kevata, the residents of Ayodhya, King Janaka and so many others also invested full faith in the same man and were not disappointed. One time Janaka’s daughter was frantic in fear over the uncertainty of her future, over how she might miss the chance to spend the rest of her life with someone very special. Not surprisingly, faith was extended in the same person, who can hear and answer innumerable simultaneous prayers. He responded to her faith by effortlessly lifting up an object of a massive weight. On the day of Rama Navami, we celebrate His name, fame and glories.

It’s nice to have faith in someone else to do something extraordinary. It’s like knowing that the job will get done despite all the formidable obstacles present. If you can’t solve a math problem, you can at least say: “I may not be able to do it, but my friend can. He’s so smart. He’s smarter than all of you people. Watch when he sees this equation. He will put everything together in mere moments, making fools of us all.” We have the same mentality with pretty much any issue of ability, such as with alluring members of the opposite sex, making sales, cooking, and fixing cars.

Lord RamaThe Supreme Lord is the greatest at everything, so He can make any difficult task look ridiculously easy. And the exhibition of this ability is especially pleasing to those who have faith in Him. We all invest faith, regardless of whether we are religious or not. Thus religion’s uniqueness cannot come from the issue of faith.  Indeed, to think of religion only in terms of faith is a fallacy, the viewpoint of those whose knowledge has not yet been fully revealed by the Truth. We put faith in politicians, who are known to lie and disappoint us. We put faith in sports teams, who are guaranteed to lose many times over. We put faith in our friends and family, but they, like us, are destined to die.

Faith in the higher power may be invested with a similar attitude, but the difference is that the higher power never fails to deliver. In the material land there is competition over worship. The statists want the citizens to worship them instead of God:

“Put your faith in us. Why worship an imaginary figure? Tell you what, let’s take these two plants. Give one of them to us and the other leave to God. See what happens in a few weeks. Our plant will come out just fine and the one left to God will wither and die. This proves that there is no God. Either that or He doesn’t answer all of your prayers. We’ll listen to you, while He, if He exists at all, won’t.”

If faith in Him is dependent on His ability to deliver on orders, like an online retail outlet, then the faith will not last very long. Since not all orders are fulfilled, one thinks that the faith is meaningless. But in actuality sometimes not getting what we want is better for us. In fact, this is the case many times. The faith in ordinary living entities, including the godless regimes, is different because the object worshiped is not capable of doing everything. They cannot even hear all of the faith extended to them, so how could they possibly respond to everything?

Sita and her friends watching the contestWhen the faith is extended in earnest, where there is no desire for personal gain, only for the ability to serve Him more, the Supreme Lord reciprocates in the best possible way. One time there was a contest in the kingdom of Janakpur. It related to strength. A bow of a massive weight lay in the middle of an arena. It’s formidability was evident just upon sight, and its legendary stature increased as each prince approached it and failed to even move it. It soon became the greatest obstacle to the hopes of a beautiful princess.

Sita Devi, the daughter of King Janaka, saw Shri Rama at the assembly and wanted Him as a husband. This was an ancient time, the Treta Yuga, which is the second of the four time periods of creation. A wife in such a time was a faithful servant. Sita was especially pious since she was the daughter of Janaka, who was the host of the ceremony. So in hoping to have Rama as a husband, she desperately desired the opportunity to serve Him without motivation and without interruption. Indeed, through her actions after marriage she would prove to be the most chaste wife, an example of fidelity for all relationships based on trust.

Rama is God. He is the Supreme Lord in His manifestation as a warrior prince. The Supreme Lord is all-pervading. Some part of Him is always visible. If you can’t see His personal form, you can at least see His influence. One who cannot perceive the influence thinks that He doesn’t exist. In such cases, especially when there is a decline of religious practice and a sharp increase in irreligion, the Lord manifests in a personal form. Even then there is doubt over His existence, but those who have a pure heart can see Him and take further pleasure in attachment to Him. Rama is one such personal manifestation of Godhead. His body is spiritual. He doesn’t take birth, though He emerges from the womb of Queen Kausalya, one of the beloved queens of King Dasharatha of Ayodhya.

Mother Kausalya with RamaWhoever would first lift the bow would win Sita’s hand in marriage. Sita hoped that Rama would win, but she wasn’t sure of the outcome. Think of the pleasure you feel when the person you put faith in comes in to save the day. Now just imagine how much greater that pleasure is when you are not as sure of the same person getting the job done. This is sort of how the devotees feel when the Supreme Lord swoops in to save the day. On this occasion, the bow was the great obstacle, but as Goswami Tulsidas describes in his Janaki Mangala, Rama took the bow in His hands and lifted it up as if it were child’s play.

The toys for a child are not complex. They are not that heavy, either. This way the child can curiously look at the toy and do with it as they please. This bow was treated in the same way by Rama. “Hmm, what’s this? This bow looks interesting. Let me pick it up to get a further look. Hmm, there‘s a string on here. I wonder what happens if I draw this string back to my ear.” And just as the child may take their curiosity too far from time to time, Shri Rama drew the string back so far that the bow snapped in half. That object which was too heavy for even the mightiest of princes to move was easily broken by the beautiful and youthful Shri Rama.

Rama's army building a bridge with rocksRama had many similar pastimes. During a later time, after Sita would be kidnapped by the Rakshasa fiend named Ravana, it looked like Rama would have difficulty crossing over an ocean with His army. Yet through His same curiosity, triggered by the same faith extended in Him by the eager monkey-army from Kishkindha, rocks were able to float. Instead of sinking, they stayed on the surface of the water, allowing for a bridge to be made. Rama also once playfully defeated 14,000 of the greatest fighters in the world. They came to attack Him, His younger brother Lakshmana and Sita while they were in the forest. Again, all faith was put in Rama, and He responded by singlehandedly defeating the fiends sent from Lanka.

Sugriva was troubled by his brother Vali, who had driven him out of his kingdom. Vibhishana was also driven out of his kingdom by his brother. Bharata, one of Rama’s younger brothers, had the guilt of knowing that his mother had caused Rama to leave the kingdom for fourteen years, when the kingdom rightfully belonged to Rama. In all such cases, the faith extended in Rama was rewarded with the removal of the obstacles. At other times, Rama descends in different forms, but He still shows the same ability to make child’s play of a difficult situation. As Shri Krishna, He turned a massive hill into a pastime umbrella. As Lord Varaha, He lifted the earth planet with ease and saved it from a deluge. He invests similar potency in His devotees. Shri Hanuman, Rama’s greatest servant, once lifted a mountain when he was in panic over saving Lakshmana.

Hanuman lifting a mountainSimilarly, devotees of today are invested with the ability to deliver Rama’s presence through the simple sound vibration of: “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.” Faith in these words always delivers the best result, as Shri Rama personally arrives to show His strength. On Rama Navami, we remember that king of kings who once curiously lifted the famous bow of Shiva to make the beautiful Janaki His wife.

In Closing:

Real faith in Rama the only way,

Who made lifting of bow child’s play.

 

When over future put into fear’s state,

In prince of Ayodhya Janaki put all faith.

 

Gave to her the most desired gift,

When bow in His hands in air to lift.

 

Faith so many others have given the same,

Bring Him to the rescue by saying His name.

www.krishnasmercy.org

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