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Vyasa Puja 2014

Posted by krishnasmercy on August 17, 2014

[Vyasadeva]“Shri Vyasadeva is the original spiritual preceptor for all men. And all other preceptors are considered to be his representatives. A representative is one who can exactly present the viewpoint of Shri Vyasadeva. Shri Vyasadeva impregnated the message of Bhagavatam unto Shrila Shukadeva Gosvami, and Shri Suta Gosvami heard it from him (Shri Shukadeva Gosvami).” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 1.1.5 Purport)

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Krishna Dvaipayana Vyasa, the island-born one with a dark complexion, is very important in the Vaishnava tradition. One might say that there would be no tradition were it not for him. The sacred Bhagavad-gita exists in written form because of his memory and the writing ability of Shri Ganesha. The original Veda was difficult to understand, so Vyasa divided it into four. This earned him the name Vedavyasa. After writing so many Puranas, or books on ancient history, he still wasn’t satisfied. So through the inspiration of his spiritual master, Narada Muni, he composed the ripened fruit of Vedic literature, the Shrimad Bhagavatam. Being a spiritual master himself, he started a line of tradition that continues to this day. On the occasion of Vyasa Puja we honor both the disciple of Narada Muni and the present person in that line who opened our eyes from the darkness of ignorance.

[Vyasadeva]To spiritual life our eyes are always closed. Without even bringing up religion, we know that we turn a blind eye to the harshest reality of life: death. This is probably a good thing most of the time. Who wants to be crippled by fear of an event whose time of arrival is unknown? If we were always consciously aware that everything we do in this life doesn’t really matter since we die anyway, we likely wouldn’t do anything.

Birth and death are events of the spiritual nature. An animating spark enters within a tiny body at the time of birth. At death, the same spark departs for somewhere else. In the meantime so many attachments form. Since others go through the same cycle, the attachments are to the temporary. When the temporary becomes more important than the permanent, it is fair to say that the eyes are figuratively closed. They don’t see the spirit inside of others. They don’t see impending death.

The spiritual master begins to open our eyes. He tells us things that we’ve never heard before. Coming in the line from Vyasadeva, he is very familiar with the work dictated by him, the Bhagavad-gita. As an opening salvo to get our attention, the speaker in that work says right at the beginning that to lament for the body is not wise. Whether living or dead, the spirit soul is the same. When living it is in front of us and when dead it has gone somewhere else. But exist the soul must. It can never die.

[Bhagavad-gita, 2.20]“For the soul there is never birth nor death. Nor, having once been, does he ever cease to be. He is unborn, eternal, ever-existing, undying and primeval. He is not slain when the body is slain.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.20)

Bhagavad-gita As It IsPrior to contact with the spiritual master, no one told us this. We were told the opposite in fact: to make the most out of the temporary body, for everything ends at death. That is why there is so much sadness at another’s passing. Since in fact the soul does not die, what is there to lament? The opportunity for enjoyment and despair will come again for sure.

The spiritual master has the cure for birth and death and subsequent birth. If we’re having an issue with a new piece of technology, we can do some research on the internet to figure out what’s going on. Likely others have had the same issue. If they were kind enough to post the solution to an online forum or something similar, we get a tremendous benefit.

The guru has found the cure to the problem of birth and death. More importantly, they know what to do in between those two events. They have figured out that death is inevitable through their own experiences. The solution they get from their own spiritual guide, with the chain linking back to Vyasadeva. This solution they tried out for themselves and saw wonderful results. The solution worked so well that they no longer feared death as a result. They were confident of the truths they learned since they lived them in practice.

[Shrila Prabhupada]His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada says that some way or another we should be Krishna conscious. Krishna is a name for God that means “all-attractive.” Consciousness of Him stops birth and death. More importantly, it makes the journey through life as enjoyable as it can be. It is the lone enjoyment that transcends bodies. It continues into the next lifetime and beyond.

Prabhupada says that the best way to be conscious of Krishna is to chant His name. The best way to chant and hear His name is to recite the maha-mantra on a regular basis: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. Knowing the importance of the Shrimad Bhagavatam, Prabhupada translates and comments upon that great work in English, to then be translated into so many other languages.

He has found the cure to birth and death. He has found the best way to live: bhakti-yoga. Rather than wait for others to find him and get the solution, he’s created a way for that life-saving information to spread throughout the world. For this work he can never be thanked enough. Vyasa Puja is one day for honoring the guru who transcends time, Bhaktivedanta Swami. But every day the same honor is paid through following his instructions. To be Krishna conscious pleases him, and it solves the issue of life’s direction.

In Closing:

Supreme wisdom to me gave,

From darkness of ignorance to save.

 

Originally from Vyasadeva coming,

So name of Vyasa Puja becoming.

 

The spiritual master to celebrate,

On life’s path no longer to hesitate.

 

Following bhakti-yoga for him to please,

Transitioning to next life with ease.

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Krishna Janmashtami 2014

Posted by krishnasmercy on August 16, 2014

[Krishna's birthday]“When Krishna grew up a little more, He began to turn Himself backside up; He did not merely lie down on His back. And another function was observed by Yashoda and Nanda Maharaja: Krishna’s first birthday. They arranged for Krishna’s birthday ceremony, which is still observed by all followers of the Vedic principles.” (Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 1, Ch 7)

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“This day in history” is a line that appears more frequently as more years pass that allow for the recorded history to increase. In a professional sport the particular day can be the anniversary of a championship or a noteworthy achievement by an athlete. In our personal lives, the day in history could relate to a wedding, the first meeting with our significant other, or when we first entered this world. All of these are important to the people involved, but one day in particular is important to every single living entity. That is because on this day the Supreme Lord, the origin of everything living and nonliving, came within the vision of two splendid people for the first time. That occasion has since been celebrated each year as Janmashtami.

Isn’t that a sectarian holiday? Isn’t it only significant for the Hindus?

[sun shining in the sky]Actually, there can be no such thing as a “Hindu” God. The personality referenced has a position rooted in scientific understanding. There is no such thing as a Spanish sun or a Russian sun. The sun shining in the sky in a different country is the same one I see above me right now. I may call it something different, but this doesn’t mean that the sun is different. It is a singular object. Some people may not even know what it is; they may only know of it indirectly, through the sunshine entering their room through the windows. Others may even know less of it, seeing just an overcast sky, which is still illuminated by the sun, but whose covering is thicker.

So God is the same for everyone. Janmashtami celebrates His appearance on earth in His original form of Krishna.

Why do we say that this is the original? How can we proclaim this with ontological certitude? How can we make such an assertion without doubts?

Krishna is a Sanskrit word that means “all-attractive.” So how can that word not apply to God in His original form? We accept the importance of Janmashtami on the authority of the Vedas. Anyone can write anything in a book and pass it on to future generations, but we can test the claims through further study. By hearing more about Krishna, we see that He indeed cannot be anyone else except God.

[Krishna appearing in jail cell]The people seeing Him witnessed firsthand His divine nature. When Krishna appeared as an infant to mother Devaki and her husband Vasudeva, He showed them His majestic form of Narayana, which has four hands and is opulently adorned. This gave the parents the proof necessary for knowing that their son was God Himself. When transformed back into His childhood form, Krishna did so many amazing things. He thwarted all the attacks of the evil King Kamsa. He protected the residents of Gokula. Most importantly, He gave everyone transcendental bliss. Even His enemies achieved salvation, for they thought of Him at the time of death.

“Krishna is so merciful that because the demon Putana came to offer her breast-milk to Him, He fulfilled her desire and accepted her activity as motherly. But to stop her from further nefarious activities, He immediately killed her. And because the demon was killed by Krishna, she got liberation.” (Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 1, Ch 6)

[Krishna on Putana]So these things can only happen with God. It would make sense to celebrate the day that He first entered our lives. Actually, we are never apart from Him. These hands and legs of mine don’t identify me. Through an accident, I can quickly lose the use of them. If I sleep on the wrong side during the night, I might wake up with a dead arm, where I don’t have any feeling in it. I still remain who I am, though. The “I” here refers to something besides the body. That which transcends the shifts of matter is spirit. My true identity is spirit.

Accompanying the travels of the individual spirit is the Supreme Spirit. He is always with me, though I can’t see Him. He must be there; otherwise the laws of nature wouldn’t operate. He gives sanction to all results. When He doesn’t sanction something, it can’t happen. That’s why actions don’t always yield the same results. I can practice tennis from today until I am ninety years old, but this is no guarantee for making me the best player in the world. The same goes for acquiring money or finding an attractive spouse.

When Krishna appears before us, it is the visual manifestation of the same Supreme Spirit who always accompanies us. The first time seeing His personal form is like the first time recognizing Him. And the first time recognizing Him is the beginning to endless bliss known only to genuine spiritual life. Therefore it would make sense to celebrate this day.

[Krishna's first birthday]In order to bring together all the fortunate souls who have seen the beautiful vision of Krishna, there is the celebration of Janmashtami. This was inaugurated in the earthly realm by the foster parents Yashoda and Nanda. When their bundle of joy turned one year old, they held a grand ceremony in His honor. This celebrated the moment He first entered their lives. They were pure of heart, so they deserved God’s intimate association. Though appearing as an innocent child who required protection, it was actually Krishna who protected everyone. He was the center of the universe in the small village of Vrindavana.

That same Vrindavana exists in smaller replica forms throughout the world today due to the efforts of Vaishnavas, devotees of the Supreme Lord’s personal form. And so on Janmashtami the Vaishnavas unite to remember the day that the beautiful Lord first entered their lives, the moment that they realized that the meaning to this journey from boyhood to youth to old age is for always remembering that darling of Vrindavana, whose lotus feet forever remain the supreme shelter for all.

In Closing:

Never forget the day He came,

That darling going by Krishna the name.

 

Finally the bigger picture to see,

No more in loss for direction to be.

 

In Gokula parents first celebrated,

Janmashtami occasion thus inaugurated.

 

Personal vision for eyes most wonderful sight,

Occasion for Vaishnavas of the world to unite.

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Narasimha Chaturdashi 2014

Posted by krishnasmercy on May 12, 2014

[Narasimhadeva's hand]“The Personality of Godhead assumed the incarnation of Narasimhadeva in order to vanquish the great fears of the demigods. He killed the king of the demons [Hiranyakashipu], who challenged the Lord with a club in his hand, by placing the demon on His thighs and piercing him with His nails, rolling His eyebrows in anger and showing His fearful teeth and mouth.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 2.7.14)

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[Shrimad Bhagavatam, 2.7.14]Man does not have full control over the outcomes to actions. Sure, he thinks that he does. He has been led to believe this through the folly of illusion from the eyes. In the past so many times he has turned the ignition in the automobile, which then led to the starting of the engine. From this cause and effect, the natural conclusion is that the human being’s hand, which turned the key, started the car. But in fact that hand relies on so many other factors for the desired outcome to manifest. All other parts must work in harmony, and the past action of construction at the assembly plant must also cooperate. Thus fate is always placed in the hands of one or many others, and so the wise choice is to ultimately take shelter of flawless hands. These only belong to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who one time showed just what His hands could do, ripping apart an evil king and protecting an innocent child.

[gold]A long time ago there was a king named Hiranyakashipu. This Sanskrit name is a compound word, consisting of terms that mean “golden” and “soft cushion.” Who wouldn’t want these? In the comfort of the soft cushion all worries vanish. The glitter of gold reminds one of their opulence. But in fact both are an illusion to the mind that doesn’t understand the difference between matter and spirit. Both are simply a collection of gross material elements. Those elements are earth, water, fire, air and ether. When you add in mind, intelligence and ego, you get living entities. But it is in fact the soul which is the only eternal object amongst all of these. The gold will not remain forever, and neither will the cushion. The person enjoying these, however, will stay the same, though not in their specific form. They will remain as spirit soul, destined to take birth in another body based on their karma.

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

A king enjoying gold and a soft bed will eventually have to die. This is true of the man who has costume jewelry and a straw matt set on the floor also. Thus both are destined for the same fate; it is their karma which determines what type of body they receive next. Indeed, the present body is always changing. One day there is a full head of hair and another everyone is remarking on how the hair is vanishing. One moment all the clothes fit fine and the next the pants are impossible to put on. Thus karma operates constantly, making every ability and opulence relative.

[Hiranyakashipu]Hiranyakashipu reached a relative position of strength, fame, opulence and dominion. Everyone feared him, and rightfully so. No one could defeat him in battle. Not simply a bodybuilder who suddenly became stronger than everyone else, Hiranyakashipu couldn’t be defeated in a battle no matter what weapons were used. In modern terms he would be known as the “Invincible Man.” Nothing could defeat him.

He put his fate into his own hands, hands which were feared throughout the world. His young son, however, put his fate into the hands of the Supreme Lord. Now doesn’t everyone do this, at least indirectly? The difference is that the direct hands are more powerful than the indirect. They can override whatever outcomes are slated to arrive through the indirect. Hiranyakashipu did not understand this. He thought he was the final authority on all matters. He thought that his hands controlled all. They didn’t.

The first glimpse of this came when he tried to kill his son. The child, named Prahlada, had committed only one offense: love of God. The boy did not force his father to worship Vishnu, which is the name for God that references His personal form having four hands and pervading the entire universe. Prahlada did not insist that his father abandon his atheistic attitude in favor of worship. Sure, the boy spoke of the glories of devotional service. He could not suppress his love for the author of all things in this world. He spoke of the futility of material pursuits to his classmates in school. He spoke the truth when his father asked him about the most important things he had learned.

[Prahlada Maharaja]Hiranyakashipu was so insecure about his position that he could not tolerate even hearing about Vishnu. Eventually he was so fed up with Prahlada’s obstinacy in this area that he ordered the boy be killed. Hiranyakashipu did not act directly with his hands, but rather through the proxy of his loyal subjects. They had powerful weapons on them. They had other means as well. Nothing worked. Prahlada survived being thrown off the cliff of a mountain. He was not killed by elephants stomping over him. He even escaped a burning fire, though the same couldn’t be said of Hiranyakashipu’s sister Holika. Her death and Prahlada’s escape gave birth to the annual holiday of Holi.

[Narasimhadeva killing Hiranyakashipu]Prahlada’s devotion was so strong that he is actually responsible for two important holidays of the Vedic tradition. The second came when the wonderful hands of the Supreme Lord manifested in an odd, but beautiful looking form. This was a half-man/half-lion named Narasimha. It was God Himself, though not of the exact same appearance as Vishnu. This form had sharp nails on the hands, and those nails were used to rip apart the body of the powerful Hiranyakashipu. The king put his fate into his own hands, but the hands of Narahari prevailed. Vishnu’s hands acted with intelligence, to specifically protect the devoted boy named Prahlada. On the occasion of Narasimha Chaturdashi, we remember Prahlada and the faith he put into the hands of the Supreme Lord, who never fails to deliver for the surrendered souls.

In Closing:

Reign of terror to the world he brought,

His fate in his own control he thought.

 

Despite ruling for time long,

In the end to be proved wrong.

 

Son Prahlada put fate in hands of Vishnu,

Who came with nails of lion for Hiranyakashipu.

 

Thus hands of God to win in the end,

Always His surrendered souls to defend.

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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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Holi 2014

Posted by krishnasmercy on March 16, 2014

[Prahlada attacked]“Hiranyakashipu planned a campaign to kill Prahlada Maharaja. He would kill his son by administering poison to him while he was eating, by making him sit in boiling oil, or by throwing him under the feet of an elephant while he was lying down. Thus Hiranyakashipu decided to kill his innocent child, who was only five years old, simply because the boy had become a devotee of the Lord. This is the attitude of nondevotees toward devotees.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 7.5.38 Purport)

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Down on your luck? Things not going your way? Have you tried everything, put in the best effort, and still keep failing? Such are the outcomes when under the control of the material nature; nothing is ever fixed. The same action yields the same reaction for one hundred consecutive times, but then one time the reaction is not there. Who can explain it? Who can understand it? In devotional service, even seemingly insurmountable odds are overcome, all through the favor of the Supreme Lord Himself. On the occasion of Holi we remember one particular hero who did the unthinkable, who escaped from a fire unscathed, baffling his attackers.

The aggressors were on the side of the material nature. Sort of like crossing over a border line, where with a single step you can go from one country to another, these fiends had the direct vision of someone completely fixed in the transcendental consciousness. Despite the good fortune of this vision, they were in a different world. The most basic truth could not be understood by them, though it was presented very eloquently by the victim in this case.

[Prahlada Maharaja]A five-year old son of a king was asked what he had learned in school. He responded to his father by speaking of bhakti-yoga, or devotional service. He spoke of the uselessness of material pursuits, how one ends up continuously doing the same thing, hoping to find a better result. The boy likened the cycle to chewing the chewed. Taking a fruit that has already been eaten, one tries to taste it again, hoping for a different result.

The father did not like to hear this from his son. He first accused the boy’s teachers. “What have you been doing? You are traitors. You act like you have my best interests at heart, but you obviously don’t.” The teachers pled innocence. They had not instructed the child in this way. So the father, whose name was Hiranyakashipu, decided to kill the son. He ordered his attendants to get the job done. This was material life, so the outcome was never guaranteed, though the father thought otherwise. If I want to speak, my mind gives the command and my body obliges. It seems like a sure thing. “Talk,” I tell myself. But it doesn’t always happen. For some people, the ability to talk is not there. Some stutter, some have speech impediments, some have stage fright, and some have a disease preventing them from speaking.

Bhagavad-gita, 3.27“The bewildered spirit soul, under the influence of the three modes of material nature, thinks himself to be the doer of activities, which are in actuality carried out by nature.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 3.27)

In the Bhagavad-gita, it is explained that the living entity is not the doer. They choose how to act, but the results come from material nature. Hiranyakashipu’s sister would learn this the hard way. The different attempts of the father to kill his son did not work. Every one was baffled except the boy. In one of the attempts, the father, Hiranyakashipu, decided to enlist the help of his sister. She had this ability, supposedly, to enter a fire and come out unscathed. So it was decided that the recalcitrant boy, Prahlada, would sit on the sister’s lap while she went in a fire.

Her name was Holika, and when she entered the fire, she perished. Prahlada survived. That miracle is remembered through the annual celebration of Holi. The father met only frustration in his attacks on the devotee son. The son, meanwhile, met only with victory, which he neither worked for nor requested. During all times he simply remembered the lotus feet of Vishnu, who is the Supreme Lord in one of His opulent forms. Vishnu is a personality, so He can hear, even though He doesn’t have ears in the way that we understand them.

[Narasimhadeva]He heard Prahlada’s prayers, and so He intervened personally. The material nature operates under Vishnu’s purview. Therefore if He likes, Vishnu can nullify the result to an action. Hiranyakashipu and his men could not understand this, so they continued their attacks on the innocent Prahlada. Finally, Vishnu Himself came to deliver the boy, removing Hiranyakashipu in the process.

Prahlada is the hero for all righteous souls. The path towards transcendence has many thorns. Many of these are placed there intentionally by nondevotees of the likes of Hiranyakashipu. It may seem like things aren’t going our way, even if we are always chanting the holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.” It may seem like it is too difficult to maintain a job, a family, and a routine of devotional activities. It may seem like the gossip and idle talk even within devotional social circles is too much to bear. It may seem like quitting is the best option.

[Prahlada with Narasimhadeva]During such difficult times, Prahlada Maharaja and his triumph that gave rise to the festival of Holi are a beacon of light. He faced the most difficult circumstances, as he was helpless in the attacks against him. He was the much weaker party, and he was attacked from within. His own father turned on him, and only because of Prahlada’s devotion. Prahlada emerged from the fire, showing that in devotion one can triumph over even the raging flames of the material nature.

In Closing:

To help in attacks the sister to hire,

But she perished, boy emerged from fire.

 

Though having father of qualities bad,

Favor of the Supreme Lord Prahlada had.

 

What of material nature to speak,

Tough even when transcendence to seek.

 

Remember Prahlada on Holi’s festival,

And his protector Narahari most beautiful.

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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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