Krishna's Mercy

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Posts Tagged ‘rama’

Giving Him A Problem

Posted by krishnasmercy on May 15, 2014

[Lord Rama's lotus feet]“Hearing the request of ‘don’t give up your love’, Rama made many entreaties in return. After embracing each other with love, with a controlled mind Janaka returned.” (Janaki Mangala, Chand 22.1)

jani choha chāḍaba binaya suni raghubīra bahu binatī karī |
mili bheṭi sahita saneha phireu bideeha mana dhīraja dharī ||

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Imagine a celebrity, someone who is very famous. Perhaps they are on the radio every day, holding an audience of millions, who listen with rapt attention and are given to comment on every opinion offered. The person could also be someone who has done good things for others, perhaps someone in a position of power who was able to save a valuable community landmark. Or maybe the person in question is a famous recording artist whose songs have touched the lives of many.

Regardless the person, the treatment from the general public is more or less the same: adulation.

“Oh, thank you so much for what you do. I can’t tell you how much you’ve changed my life. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for you. You are so wonderful. Please keep doing what you are doing. There is no way to properly express my gratitude for your presence. You are simply a terrific person. If more people were like you, we wouldn’t have so many problems in the world.”

This kind of praise isn’t hard to imagine, but what is more difficult to conceive of is being on the receiving end. How would you feel if random strangers came up to you and treated you this way? Sure, it would be nice, but what if you didn’t consider yourself to be so special. “Hey, I’m just an ordinary guy. I’m not that amazing person you think I am. I put my pants on one leg at a time, just like every other guy. I cry, I laugh, I get sick, I have fears, just like all of you out there.”

[Signing autographs]But in a quick meeting with an adoring fan, there is no time to explain. The celebrity in question gets overrun by the praise, and so they have to learn to accept it. They must find their own way to say “thanks” in return, to repay the debt of gratitude they owe. The more famous they become, the more great things they do, the bigger the problem is for them in returning appreciation.

This situation gives us a neat trick to use in giving a problem to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He has done the most amazing things. By our estimation, this universe is quite complex. We can barely understand the cycle of the human birth and death, but there are so many other creatures as well. Then this planet is hard to understand, which has a constantly changing climate. Indeed, the fact that we think we can predict the climate means that there is some regularity to the workings of this planet. Patterns emerge from some intelligence, so through some design the earth exists in a state that can be studied.

[Globe]But in fact the complexity is too great to know anything with certainty. Then there is the moon, which is also complex. Throw in the other planets and you have generations’ worth of study to keep you busy. By the way, all that study doesn’t give a definitive answer as to the origin. We get that only from authorized books like the Shrimad Bhagavatam. In works like that we find that this amazing universe constantly comes and goes, and this happens through the breathing of the Supreme Lord.

God invites endless praise through His breathing alone. He exhales to create the universes, and He inhales to take them back into His gigantic body. He does many other praiseworthy things as well. In Janakpur a long time ago, for instance, He lifted an extremely heavy bow to win the contest for the hand in marriage of Sita Devi, the king’s daughter. There is no end to the glories of this achievement. No one else in the world could lift that bow. It was only Rama, who is the same Supreme Lord of tremendous breathing potency appearing in an apparently human form.

[Rama lifting the bow]That is not an ordinary human form. As a simple test for the validity of this claim, we can try offering praise to that form. The deeds and words of that form are always tied to it. So by constantly praising the heroic feat of Rama’s lifting of the bow to win Sita’s hand, we see that the form of Rama is not ordinary. Rama has a difficult time repaying the praise directed His way, but He is the Supreme Lord, so it is a nice problem to present to Him.

In this scene from the Janaki Mangala, Rama returns kind entreaties to Janaka, Sita’s father. The two embraced, and then Janaka regained his composure while returning to the rest of the guests, who were set to depart. A fallible human being has a tough time repaying kind words offered to them. At best, they can continue to do whatever it is that makes them appreciated. As the human birth is destined for destruction, so too is the work of any great man.

[Rama holding His bow]Not so with Rama, who though leaving the immediate vicinity, stays around forever through the accounts of His deeds. He remains in the sound vibration of His names as well. And so the ability to constantly chant mantras like “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”, gives a chance at offering repayment. Even with this chanting, the devoted souls continue to offer praise to Rama, who then assumes more debt as a result. This is the kind gift the devoted souls happily offer to the Supreme Lord, who welcomes the problem of repaying kindness to such sweet individuals.

In Closing:

With so many praises their way to go,

Giving thanks, supreme debt they owe.

 

Supreme Lord most amazing work has done,

In comparison to breathing alone like others none.

 

So praise to His way send,

And in bliss this life spend.

 

Rama in Janakpur lifted the bow,

Praise it forever, give Him debt to owe.

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Bringing God Into My Life

Posted by krishnasmercy on April 6, 2014

[Vishvamitra's lotus feet]“Then the king offered prayers to Vashishtha and the other munis. Approaching Vishvamitra’s lotus feet, he offered many prayers.” (Janaki Mangala, 174)

puni basiṣṭha ādika muni bandi mahīpati |
gahi kausika ke pāi kīnha binatī ati ||

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A fully joyful man is known to do strange things. From his ecstasy he throws caution to the wind and starts to give thanks to anyone and everyone. Even if he is in a supposedly superior position, he feels so humbled by his good fortune that he offers respects to so many others. This verse from the Janaki Mangala is an instance of such a mannerism, except that the actor is following protocol at the same time. Though he is described as mahipati here, which means “protector of the earth,” he remains humble before others who are known as the godly figures of this earth.

Consider this scene. A man is out of work for a long time. He has not been able to find a job. More than just struggling to pay for his monthly expenses, he feels down as a person. He feels as if he is not valuable to society. Then one day through good fortune he is able to land a job. His brother knows someone who is in charge at a company. They are able to get this unemployed person employment. The newly hired man feels so happy to finally have gotten a job. He is humbled by the process, and feeling very thankful he offers all respects to both his brother and his new boss.

Consider another scene. A man holds his first child in his arms for the first time. After having been married for a few years, his wife finally got pregnant. Both husband and wife were eager to start a family, and they knew the struggles that lay ahead. Nevertheless, the first moment of holding his child made the husband overjoyed. Knowing that he was now in charge of protecting this innocent person instilled a stronger sense of responsibility in him. He is also very appreciative of his wife, who had been in labor for a long time. He offers her so much respect, love and attention. He is so thankful for her presence in his life.

Life is full of similar situations, but nothing can compare to having God enter your life. The term “God” is rather vague, as one can even mistake a basic auspicious occurrence with God’s direct intervention. With King Janaka, there was no vagueness. The Supreme Lord in a visible form appeared in his life. First came the Lord’s eternal consort, Sita Devi. She entered Janaka’s life mysteriously from a field. Janaka then gladly took on the role of father. Through arranging for her marriage, Janaka received Shri Rama as a son-in-law. Rama is Narayana, or the source of men. He is Krishna, or the all-attractive Supreme Personality of Godhead. He is Vishnu, who is all-pervading and opulently adorned, served by many goddesses of fortune simultaneously. He is Janardana, or the maintainer of all living entities. He is the source of the material and spiritual worlds. Everything emanates from Him.

[Bhagavad-gita, 10.8]“I am the source of all spiritual and material worlds. Everything emanates from Me. The wise who know this perfectly engage in My devotional service and worship Me with all their hearts.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 10.8)

[Rama and Lakshmana with Vishvamitra]In the scene referenced above, Rama is about to return home to Ayodhya. He is taking Sita with Him, for they are married now. Though Janaka is a powerful king, here he offers respectful obeisances to Vashishtha, who is the family priest in Ayodhya. He gives respects by offering prayers to the other munis, or sages, who are there. He then makes a special approach to the lotus feet of Vishvamitra. It was this forest-dwelling sage who was most responsible for Rama entering Janaka’s life. Rama and His younger brother Lakshmana were serving Vishvamitra in the forest when they were led by the sage to Janaka’s city. If not for the sage’s mercy, Rama would not have appeared at the contest of the bow and won Sita’s hand in marriage.

Simply by his words and his behavior Vishvamitra earned the respect of someone who protected the earth. The sage did not demand that others worship him. He did not tell others that he was their guru. He did not force Janaka to make obeisances. The wise king, who was so thankful to have the greatest gift in the world, Shri Rama in his life, knew who was responsible for his fortune. He was never puffed up by his stature, for he knew that all good things come through the mercy of the devoted souls, who are rare to this world and yet still carry a far-reaching influence.

[Sita and Rama]All objects in the material world are perishable. Brahman, or truth, is the only thing that remains. Narayana is the source of Brahman, so He is ultimately responsible for giving life to anything. In the darkness of ignorance, the conditioned living entity forgets the presence of Narayana. It is the humble sage who kindly awakens the bewildered soul, reminding them of both God’s presence and the eternal relationship as servant to Him. Through this kindness, the demigods of this earth automatically become worshipable, as shown by Janaka. With every utterance of the holy names, Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare, the magnitude of their mercy increases. By keeping love for Sita and Rama in his heart, Janaka offered the highest respect to Vishvamitra and the other sages associated with the Lord.

In Closing:

Supreme Lord, source of all things,

To contest of the bow with him to bring.

 

So much in outcome for king invested,

Pleased when competition by Rama was bested.

 

Shankara’s bow in arm to lift,

Rama in family most precious gift.

 

All by grace of Vishvamitra sent,

So Janaka towards his feet went.

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Judging Offerings

Posted by krishnasmercy on March 30, 2014

[Rama's lotus feet]“’O you who know the people, please keep love for them who are offered to you’, were the loving words sounded by the downtrodden mother. Again and again the queen brought the children to her heart and hugged them.” (Janaki Mangala, Chand 21.1)

jana jāni karaba saneha bali kahi dīna bacana sunāvahīn |
ati prema bārahiṃ bāra rānī bālikanhi ura lāvahīn।।

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“I can’t believe how dedicated that person is. You know that they’ve been a pujari at this temple for almost three decades. Every day, without fail, they’ve gotten up at the appointed time and tended to the wonderfully resplendent Lordships of the building. They bathe the deities, change their clothes, offer flowers and lamps, and make sure they look beautiful for the many visitors who walk through the gates every year. Can you imagine having that level of dedication? This person is so much better than me. All glories to them.”

[Hanuman deity worshiped]“I can’t believe how much that mother cooks for her Lordships. She prepares a grand feast every week, and all by herself. So many guests come to her home throughout the week, and then on that one day reserved for the formal gathering, she cooks for hundreds of people. She first makes the offering to the Supreme Lord, who then happily accepts it. And why wouldn’t He? He must love her so much. The mercy from the remnants of that offered food cannot be measured. I have trouble making a pot of herbal tea, and here is this dedicated lady cooking entire meals selflessly all the time. All glories to her.”

“I can’t believe how many books that person has written. They have a fulltime job, too. They’ve dedicated all of their leisure hours towards glorifying the Supreme Lord. They’ve travelled the world and done extensive research, using what they’ve found to further argue in favor of devotional service being the highest occupation for man. They’ve put their name to their work, and they’ve presented it to many respectable institutions. They don’t shy away from the pressure, and they continue to write to this very day. Their guru must be so pleased with them. The Supreme Lord Himself must be dictating the words from within. All glories to them.”

“I can’t believe how many books that person has distributed. Selflessly, without any personal motivations, and without fear, they’ve hit the streets to give the gift of transcendental knowledge. In centuries past, finding real knowledge was very difficult. Famous personalities would build libraries instead of churches to help further expand the intellect of the populace. Still, even in those libraries filled with thousands of books, one would not find transcendental wisdom. This is only available today to the masses due to the work of a sincere follower of the Supreme Lord in the devotional tradition. But even that effort wouldn’t have been enough. There needed to be an army of book distributors, ready to bring the most valuable knowledge to the people. I have trouble sending food back at a restaurant, not wanting to offend the waiter. Here this person is rejected constantly, by so many people. They have to work so hard just to get a single person to buy a book. They do this all for their guru, and so to me they are the best servant. I feel tiny in their presence. All glories to them.”

[Prabhupada books]In these scenarios, one person is praising another for the devotional service they offer to the Supreme Lord or one of His representatives. It is said that when one ascends to the higher stages of bhakti-yoga, they feel more and more humbled. They appreciate everyone else’s service more and more. This stands in stark contrast to material life, where more success means more competition, which means more envy of others. Rather than be happy that a competitor has entered the arena to sell the same product I’ve been selling, I try my best to knock them down. Their success is my loss, and vice versa.

Such is not the case in devotional service, where more competitors to the field only means more success for the people at large in changing their consciousness for the better. The world is a better place when more people are compassionate, austere, clean and honest. These four qualities are an afterthought in bhakti-yoga; they come very easily to one who always chants the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

It is only natural to try to judge offerings, to assess which are better than others. It is a good way to gauge one’s own progress. If someone else is doing so much, it serves as impetus to offer some more. In Janakpur a long time ago, a queen offered her daughters to the Supreme Lord in His incarnation of Shri Rama. It would be very difficult to try to surpass such an offering, so the humble souls instead appreciate what a wonderful soul Sunayana was.

[Sita and Rama]Here she praises God for knowing the people, and she asks that He love her daughters very much. The eldest, Sita, married Rama, and Sita’s younger sister married Lakshmana, one of Rama’s younger brothers. The queen’s brother-in-law had two daughters also, who married Rama’s two other younger brothers. While these daughters would be considered cousins normally, to Sita they were like sisters as well. This is how things work in small communities following ancient traditions; the cousins, aunts and uncles spend so much time around each other that there are no divisions made as to which child belongs to which parent. Every child within the family is a brother or sister.

So Sunayana essentially offered four daughters to God; this was her service at the time. And these daughters would make the sons happy in so many ways. The mother affectionately embraced them again and again as they were leaving. The mother made the offering and then had to watch as her precious children left her, likely to never return.

The devotee can’t compete with Sunayana, or let alone with so many others, but the appreciation itself is worthwhile. The sentiment is what counts most to the Supreme Lord, so whatever genuine offering one can make, even if small the effect is the same as if the offering were of something much greater. The best sacrifice for the modern age is the chanting of the holy names, and so anyone has the chance to please the all-knowing Shri Rama.

In Closing:

For my own devotion to test,

Different offerings to assess.

 

This person does so much I see,

Incomparable, way better than me.

 

Like offering from Janakpur’s queen,

Daughters of beauty never before seen.

 

To Rama, knower of the people was made,

That He would love them always she prayed.

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The Defense Rests

Posted by krishnasmercy on February 7, 2014

[Sita Devi]“As you are very strong, the brother of the master of the treasury [Kuvera] and possess a great military force, why did you have to lure Rama away to come and do your wife-robbery?” (Sita Devi speaking to Ravana, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand 22.22)

śūreṇa dhanadabhrātrā balaiḥ samuditena ca |
apihya rāmaṃ kasmāddhi dāracauryaṃ tvayā kṛtam ||

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Imagine that you really need to have something done. When you ask somebody to do it and they decline, you have no choice but to use words to try to persuade them. You will present arguments in your favor. You can use the words from their response to form counterarguments. In the case of Ravana, his proposal was out of the question. Still, he persisted, and he thought his arguments were valid, worthwhile, and free of flaw. Sita Devi, the person Ravana was trying to persuade, saw right through both him and his words. In an artful rebuttal of his claims, she waited until the very end to completely expose the flaw in his case. As an expert attorney speaks no further once the opposition’s argument has been completely dismantled, Sita spoke no more after delivering the most striking blow to his presentation.

There is a famous Hollywood movie particularly known for its compelling climax that takes place in a courtroom. It appears that the defense doesn’t stand a chance, that the prosecution, with their leading witness, has defeated them. Everyone on both sides knows that the witness is somewhat responsible for the crime tagged to the accused, but without sufficient evidence, there is no way to convince the court. In the end, the upstart lead attorney for the defense figures out a major flaw in the star witness’s testimony. The attorney ends up using those words against the witness, presenting the argument so perfectly that the witness has no choice but to get angry. In his anger, he loses his composure and gives a de facto confession while on the stand.

[Scene from A Few Good Men]A similar thing happened to Ravana, the king of Lanka. He wasn’t on trial, but he presented arguments nevertheless. He was trying to persuade Sita, the wife of Lord Rama, to abandon her lifelong vow of chastity and become the chief queen in Lanka. Sita was having none of it. She had no desire to be with him. She never gave even a glimmer of hope to Ravana. Today she is famously known as the most devoted wife, the beloved eternal consort of the Supreme Lord. God is one, but He appears differently at different times of the creation. Though His manifestations may have a different visible appearance to us, He is still the same individual. The same holds true for His eternal consort. Sita is the manifestation of God’s wife who appears as the beloved daughter of King Janaka.

Ravana presented many arguments in his favor. He reminded Sita that he is the brother of Kuvera, who is the treasurer of the demigods. The treasurer keeps an eye on the wealth. As the brother, Ravana had access to that fortune. When saying this to a princess, it is a way to point out that they will never have to live in poverty. Sita, though a king’s daughter and a prince’s wife, was living like an ascetic in the forest when Ravana met with her. The foolish king of Lanka mistakenly thought that Sita was poor and that her husband Rama was without fortune. He also thought that Sita cared so much about money, wealth and fame. He did not know that Sita is only interested in serving her husband. This is her choice. No one can force her to do otherwise. She is the most independent woman, and she uses that independence to behave as the most chaste wife.

Ravana also bragged to Sita about his strength and his mighty military. He thought he made a pretty compelling case for winning over any woman, let alone someone who just came from the forest. Ravana thought he rescued her from a life of destitution. In his mind, she should have jumped at the chance to be his wife.

[Sita Devi]Sita swiftly, deftly, and strategically dismantled his entire case. The above referenced verse from the Ramayana is her concluding remark to the king, who had kept her in the Ashoka grove in his kingdom. There is no answer to the rhetorical question she puts forth here. There is no excuse Ravana can come up with. There is no counter argument. Her question basically says, “So, I see you’re very proud of your strength. You’re also the brother of the master of the treasury. You also have a mighty army. I agree with these points. Kudos to you. But let me ask you something. If you have all this going for you, why did you have to lure Rama away in order to take His wife? Isn’t trickery the tactic for the weak? We know that diplomacy is beneficial for the weaker party in a conflict, and based on what you have told me, you are anything but weak. Therefore why did you have to wait until Rama was out of the picture before doing your wife-stealing?”

The arguments put forth by those against devotion to God, which is the constitutional engagement of the spirit soul, are always full of such holes. If the life of sense gratification were the summit to an existence, why then would anyone ever be miserable? Everyone eats, sleeps, mates and defends. Some do it to a greater degree than others. Some also live for longer than others. Nevertheless, each living being has some taste in eating, some form of sleeping, some experience with sexual behavior, and some inclination to defend what they have. Why, then, is there war, famine, pestilence, and death? Why is there constant angst? Why is there anger, greed, wrath, and jealousy?

[Sita and Rama]It must mean that there is a higher taste. There must be more to life than sense gratification. There must be a reason the human being has more intelligence than the animals. Sita shows the reason in her lifestyle, in her mindset that cannot be altered. Whether in splendor or squalor, in sickness or in health, richer or poorer, she serves Rama. She has the luxury of His physical association, but this does not mean that others are excluded from worship. The lone requirement is the proper consciousness, which Sita had and Ravana lacked. She tried her best to set his mind right, but even defeated in his arguments Ravana would not budge. Others needn’t fall into the same trap.

In Closing:

For so long his own virtues to extol,

But in his arguments remained a gaping hole.

 

If brother of Kuvera and with army of might,

Why for taking Sita waited for Rama to be out of sight?

 

For this final argument there was no counter,

Same with atheist class daily to encounter.

 

More than sense gratification, life has higher taste,

Worship Sita and Rama and time no longer waste.

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A Treasure Mine

Posted by krishnasmercy on December 10, 2013

Sita and Rama“The group of young girls and queens stayed there in this way, receiving every auspicious treasure looking at Sita and looking at Rama.” (Janaki Mangala, 152)

jubati jūtha ranivāsa rahasa basa ehi bidhi |
dekhi dekhi siya rāma sakala mangala nidhi ||

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The vision of the couple just married is a treasure. Therefore in a traditional wedding ceremony in modern times, there is the reception that follows the religious portion. The taking of wedding vows in front of a man of the clergy is enough to satisfy the requirement for marriage, but the well-wishers desire more time with the new couple. They wish to see them again and again in their wedded bliss. The same held true a long time ago in the marriage ceremony performed in the earthly realm for the Supreme Lord and His eternal consort.

To hold on to the memory of that special day, there are pictures and video taken. The day after, the attendees recount what happened the previous night. “Oh, did you see that person on the dance floor? Did you hear what that other person told me? What did you think of the food? Wasn’t the church ceremony so nice? I couldn’t believe all the nice things the bride had to say about the groom. She must really love him very much. The pair is a perfect match. They complement each other in qualities. One is bold and assertive and the other is calm and steady. I can’t wait to see the wedding video to again experience the festive occasion. If only we could relive that night again and again.”

Understanding the importance of the moment, the young ladies and queens at the marriage of Sita and Rama kept stealing glances at the divine couple. Normally, it is considered impolite to stare. “Would you like it if someone were looking at you all the time? After a while it would be a little creepy, wouldn’t it? Therefore you shouldn’t do that to someone else.”

Sita and RamaSita and Rama didn’t mind. They possess every virtue, every quality in goodness imaginable. If there is any object worth staring at, it is them right after they have officially been joined in the sacred city of Tirahuta. The women in the wedding party had a unique enjoyment due to their level of access. They got to lead Sita and Rama to the wedding chamber, where the couple got to know each other through playing traditional games. The women had the chance to make fun of the two mothers, ribbing them when their child lost a particular round.

Most importantly, the women were able to look at the bride and groom over and over again. Since Sita and Rama are divine, the goddess of fortune and the Supreme Lord respectively, others are not only allowed to stare at them, but encouraged to do so. Physical proximity is not a requirement for having the vision. Here the women got to stare at the couple sitting directly in front of them, but others have the same opportunity in visiting the temple.

Sita and Rama deitiesRather than speculate as to who the heavenly father is, and rather than remember only the sacrifice of life given by a son of God, in the temple one can see the transcendental features of God drawn out. There is no limit to these features, so the rendering is never completely accurate. Moreover, man is limited in the materials he can use to create the worshipable form. For instance, if God is everything, His height cannot be limited. And yet when making a statue of the original Lord or one of His many incarnations, the height must have a limit.

The form is still worshipable if it is created and installed in an authorized way. The deity is the mercy of God, giving the individual a chance to worship Him. That individual is not God; so it has limitations. He has a difficult time seeing the presence of the divine that is everywhere. Goswami Tulsidas, the author of the above referenced verse from the Janaki Mangala, in his Dohavali explains how the personal form of God is superior to the impersonal precisely because the personal form eliminates room for error. The comparison is made to the number, and how it looks different based on how it is presented. The numeral form looks different than the written out word. Both forms represent the same number, but the numeral can more easily be distorted. This is why both versions are presented on a check payment.

Sample checkIn the same way, the deity version of the incarnation removes the doubt in the mind of not knowing exactly who God is. The deity allows for the eyes to continuously stare, receiving every auspicious treasure in the process. The jewel of a reward in this life is devotion to God. Devotion is strengthened by attraction, and attraction automatically comes from opulence. The deity is worshiped in all opulence, attracting the mind with its features, activities and qualities.

“After having rested on the worshiped arm of the Lord of the world, how can I now take rest on the arm of any other?” (Sita Devi speaking to Ravana, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 21.16-17)

bookcoverThe deity of a just-wedded Sita and Rama attracts the mind to the sacred time in Tirahuta when Shri Rama, using His most powerful arm, which is the only worshipable arm for Sita, effortlessly lifted the heavy bow to win Janaka’s contest. It attracts the mind towards Sita’s undying devotion to Rama. It attracts the mind towards the kind attendants of Sita, who took so much pleasure in her auspicious day. Most importantly, it attracts the mind towards devotion itself, which is life’s ultimate reward.

In Closing:

“To look at me in this way you dare,

Don’t you know it’s impolite to stare?”

 

With Supreme Lord such behavior acceptable,

When seeing deity with features perceptible.

 

Mistakes removed when attributes drawn out,

Learn that form Supreme God not without.

 

Friends at Sita and Rama repeatedly stole a look,

Serving divine couple most of opportunity took.

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Overwhelmed by the Moment

Posted by krishnasmercy on December 9, 2013

Sarasvati Devi“With a happy heart Sita’s mother waved the arati lamp. Who can describe that pleasure, for even Sarasvati was overwhelmed by the moment?” (Janaki Mangala, 151)

sīya mātu mana mudita utārati ārati |
ko kahi sakai ananda magana bhai bhārati ||

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If there is an important event taking place, camera crews and reporters from various news organizations rush to the scene. Similar to how the emergency personnel must behave, these workers must not be affected by the event. They cannot be swayed one way or the other, for they are supposed to describe what is going on to others who are not there. In modern times there is the reporter on the scene who gives a live, eyewitness account. There are also those who will put their description to pad or computer screen.

Obviously the journalists are expected to be capable at their craft. They should have a way with words. They should know how to describe what’s going on in a succinct manner, but not missing any of the vital details. They should answer the five questions of who, what, where, when, why and how. If they get too absorbed in the moment, then there is no one to properly describe what is going on. This is similar to what occurred in the scene referenced above, except the reporter on the scene is the most eloquent speaker in the world and the subject of the scene the most enchanting vision.

iPhone usesIn the Vedas there is a goddess of speech and learning. You worship her in the hope that she can share some of her gifts with you. Though she distributes her rewards very liberally to anyone who pleases her properly, she still would like to see her gifts utilized in a certain manner. If you manufacture smartphones for a living, you are pleased when the purchasers use the phone to speak to their loved ones. You are pleased when they can send a text message very quickly or snap a picture of a crime scene to help catch a criminal. You are pleased if they can use the phone to be productive at work so that they can support their family.

You are not pleased, however, if the purchasers use your product to commit a crime. If they use the smartphone to organize a large scale drug run or the robbing of a bank, you will lament the tragedy and the small hand you played in it. Your product is still sold to anyone. You can try to have the purchaser sign a statement promising to use the device a certain way, but there is no means of enforcement. Thus you choose to conduct the transactions blindly. As long as there is payment made, the ownership transfers legally.

In the same way Goddess Sarasvati distributes the gift of learning and speech to anyone who pleases her. Still, there is an ideal use for her gifts. From this scene we see what catches her eye. Here she is absorbed in the moment of a bride’s mother waving the arati lamp in front of her daughter. The arati lamp is a common component of worship in the Vedic tradition. It is a sign of welcome, a way to heartily greet someone. Here the mother prays that her daughter’s marriage to her new husband will be auspicious.

Arati lampThe mother does this out of love only. She is not looking for wealth. She is not looking for fame. She likely may never see her daughter again, as the daughter now belongs to a new family. Thus the waving of the lamp is for the daughter’s benefit. The mother has so much love that she wants God to always protect her beautiful daughter. That wouldn’t be a problem, as the daughter’s new husband was God Himself in His incarnation of Shri Rama.

It was the nature of the participants that caused Goddess Sarasvati to be absorbed in the moment. A person may manufacture and sell smartphones for a living, but at night they could take pleasure in something else. The business is their “day job,” a way to carry out their obligations to their society and family. Just because they work in a certain way doesn’t mean that they limit their enjoyment.

Sarasvati is a divine figure, so she possesses the quality of goodness to a very high degree. In ignorance one doesn’t know what to do. They do such things as break useful objects out of anger and curse important people only to repent later. In passion one works very hard for a temporary result; thus reaching a neutral position. In goodness one sees things as they are, and so they are better situated for appreciating the glories of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

Think of it like sitting in church and watching the proceedings. If you’re intoxicated, you are more prone to being disrespectful of things that warrant the highest respect. If your mind is consumed with thoughts on how to make money and enjoy later on in the day, you will also not relish the nectar of topics of Godhead. If your mind is rightly situated, appreciating everything you have around you and knowing the common spiritual force that pervades everything, you will get more out of the experience.

The experience here is in bhakti, which is above even goodness. The poet says that the pleasure of Sita’s mother cannot be described accurately, for even the goddess of learning herself was absorbed in the moment. If the person who has the most ability to describe something is fully absorbed in an event, who else can even come close to properly describing it?

Sita and RamaIn God’s pastimes there are many such moments, but the saints immersed in bhakti still try their best to describe them. Sarasvati is more than happy to see her gifts utilized properly in this manner. The life-giving works of the saints of the bhakti tradition bring so much glory to the world that the benefits return back to Sarasvati as well, who delights so much in the marriage of Sita and Rama.

In Closing:

Focused camera and steady pen must be,

When journalist live news event to see.

 

If even they are by vision taken,

Chance for others to learn forsaken.

 

Though Sarasvati goddess most skilled in speech,

At wedding overwhelmed by arati’s wave each.

 

Difficulty to describe offering to Sita of queen’s.

Something special in Lord’s pastimes it means.

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Hear Our Jokes

Posted by krishnasmercy on December 8, 2013

Sita and Rama“The wise ladies taught them how to play the wedding games. Winning and losing, they made accusations and gave a ribbing to both queens.” (Janaki Mangala, 150)

juā khelāvana kautuka kīnha sayāninha |
jīti hāri misa dehiṃ gāri duhu rāninha ||

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When Sita loses, her mother gets made fun of. When Rama loses, His mother takes a ribbing. “Who taught you how to play? It’s as if your family doesn’t know anything. You lost this one time, and you will lose again going forward.” Such jokes are allowed at the festive occasion of the wedding, and surprisingly here they are directed at the divine couple, Sita and Rama.

“O father, hear our prayer.” This is a common refrain when making requests to the man upstairs. He is the Almighty. He can create universes without a problem. He can then destroy them without even thinking about it. Just to build a house we require so much effort. We have to plan. We have to gather the materials. We have to chart out the construction, keeping a close eye on the schedule. Without the schedule it is difficult to do things in a timely manner. We complain about having to wake up early for school or work, but if the pressure wasn’t there we likely couldn’t get our work done on time. Thus the schedule helps to keep us active.

ScheduleThe Supreme Lord doesn’t require all of this. He doesn’t need an alarm clock to wake up. In an apparently sleeping state, just by His breathing in and out, so many universes manifest and then disappear. Since He is so powerful, it would make sense to seek His blessings. If we are in trouble, we go to Him for help. If we really want a loved one to be safe and protected, and we know that we can’t do so much on our own, we pray to the Lord to intervene.

The wedding is especially a time suitable for prayer. We see our loved ones entering a sacred covenant, a relationship to ideally last a lifetime. We pray to God that the newlyweds remain dedicated to each other, that they never forget their commitment to the relationship. We pray that God will protect them and allow them to enjoy family life.

Reverential worship of God is certainly superior to foolishly ignoring His existence, but the taste of interaction is sweeter when there is less fear. The leader of the nation certainly enjoys hearing praise from the citizens, but he takes greater pleasure in hearing the jokes from his friends and the loving complaints from his wife. Here the Supreme Lord is playing games with His eternal consort. In traditional Vedic weddings, the bride and groom don’t know each other going in. As a way to break the ice, to spend time with each other without it being awkward, the newlyweds play games. The intelligent ladies in the wedding party teach them how to play.

The enjoyment is enhanced through commentary, from both those witnessing and those participating. In basketball, there is the common practice known as “trash-talking,” where the opponents exchange verbal barbs in good fun. A player doesn’t want to perform poorly in fear that the other side will lob jokes. This is meant to be in good fun, as ideally afterwards everyone shows respect for one another.

Here the ladies showing Sita and Rama how to play the games offer abuses at the two queens after the outcome of the game. If Sita wins a particular round of a game, they make fun of Rama’s mother. If Rama wins, they make fun of Sita’s mother. Who would ever think of making jokes at the Supreme Lord’s family? Only those in the same family can do so. The enemies of God are not permitted, since they hold an inimical attitude. Those who only see God as an Almighty figure are also shut out from these delightful pastimes.

Sita and RamaOnly the devotees with pure motives can participate in such delightful joke-making. Such words enhance the pleasure of Sita and Rama, who like any other people enjoy the association of their friends and family. They are not conservative in this regard. They consider everyone eligible to be a friend, as they are intimately related to everyone. In each individual there reside two souls. One represents the person itself, and the other the Supreme Lord. This means that we all have God inside of us. We are not God Himself, but we are like Him and always tied to Him.

When we choose to ignore His presence, we miss out on His association. We think that He doesn’t exist or that He is a person to be feared only. Why fear Him when He is always with us? Why think that we could be God when we can’t even get what we want all the time? Better to be dedicated to Him in thought, word and deed. Better to be immersed in thoughts of Him. Better to please His dearmost associates, like Sita, Lakshmana, Hanuman, and the many who follow their example of devotion.

Hanuman reading the RamayanaThe women in the marriage ceremony associated with Sita and Rama in a wonderful way. The divine couple blessed them with further association, for this is the best reward that can be offered. Both men and women alike can receive these blessings. Shri Hanuman, a being with perfect intelligence and unmatched strength, gets the same blessings in the form of support for his devotion from Sita herself. He delights in the wonderful marriage ceremony by hearing the beautiful poetry of Goswami Tulsidas, a person whom he personally inspired.

In Closing:

When of God to live in fear,

Hope that prayers He’ll hear.

 

“O Lord this painful condition relieve,

In your abundant mercy we believe.”

 

Here jokes to God’s family some did give,

Only because as intimate family to live.

 

Such words from devotees give pleasure a thousand fold,

To Supreme Lord, whose pastimes in works of Tulsi told.

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Feeling Like Family

Posted by krishnasmercy on December 7, 2013

Sita and Rama“The clever ladies taught the bride and groom all the rituals. Giving curses to the other party in fun, feeding morsels of food to each one equally, they are very happy.” (Janaki Mangala, 149)

catura nāri bara kunvarihi rīti sikhāvahin |
dehiṃ gāri lahakauri samau sukha pāvahin ||

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There are many benefits to having a sibling, and one of them is that you have someone with whom you can share your frustrations relating to your parents. If the mother or father consistently does something to irritate you, you can tell one of your friends for sure. But the discussion ends there. If your friend makes any derogatory remark whatsoever, even if it is a sentiment first urged on by you, you will get offended. “Who are you to speak about my parents that way? What gives you the right?” The sibling has the same set of parents, and so not only are you free to voice your complaints, but you can even make jokes about your parents without it hurting anyone. In the scene of the above referenced verse from the Janaki Mangala, all the parties involved indeed felt like family, though they had only been tied together for a short time.

If your grandfather has a peculiar habit that you find hilarious, you can discuss it with your brother or sister. If your mother has a tendency to fly off the handle, you can’t bring it up with people outside of the family. They will get the wrong impression of your mother. They will think that she is tyrannical, whereas you only brought up the interesting behavior because it was a source of humor. In the material world there is duality in every sphere, which means a simple joke can cause both laughter and anger.

The person who is outside the circle of the joke will take offense. Especially if the person making it isn’t a close friend or family member, what else are they supposed to think? If they don’t have the full context of the conversation, they will get the wrong understanding. Indeed, taking humorous statements out of context is a principal tool of destruction used by political opponents. The “camera is always rolling,” so to speak, with a person running for political office. If they should make a joke to their friends while they think the microphone is off, and then someone else picks up on that comment, it can be distributed widely to the public. Others who are not privy to the context will get the wrong impression.

Sita and RamaTo the person in the know, the jokes are very pleasing. Here the clever ladies at the marriage ceremony of Sita and Rama are giving verbal jabs to the opposing side. The bride’s side is making fun of the groom’s side and vice versa. At this marriage everything was done according to tradition. There was no expense spared, as the host was the wealthy and pious king of Mithila. The marriage took place according to dharma, or religiosity. There was no kama, or sense gratification, involved.

The parties felt comfortable making jokes at each other because they were all family now. If you can’t make fun of your family members, who can you make fun of? If you’re not going to enjoy with the people you trust the most, then you are devoid of any enjoyment. All had a good time since Sita was now married to Rama. Indeed, the joke-making made the event more joyous. Sort of like having a band at your wedding or a fully stocked buffet at your get-together, the jokes were very appropriate to the occasion.

The clever ladies also taught Sita and Rama the appropriate rituals, such as feeding a morsel of food to each other. The food consisted of yogurt and rice, and the exchange is customary in a wedding ceremony of the Vedic tradition. It is said that everyone was so happy as a result. Wouldn’t you be thrilled as well? Where else do you hear about God being taught how to feed His wife? Where else do you learn about the beautiful eternal consort of the Supreme Lord being given instructions on how to offer food to her husband in love?

Indeed, such variety is present in the spiritual world, and that variety is replicated when the Divine and His associates appear on this earth in apparently human forms. With variety in form, the many children of God get the opportunity to engage in direct service. Here there was no fear on the part of the clever ladies. There was only boundless love. That love manifested in instruction and the offering of verbal jabs, thereby showing that the all-merciful Supreme Lord allows all to engage in devotional service in the mood of their choice.

Of course the prerequisite is the familial bond. We don’t like it when our friends say anything bad about our family, even if their statements are accurate. The friends are not part of the family, so they don’t get a free pass to lob abuses. The brother and sister are allowed to since there is a lasting bond with them. With God, there is the chance to enter the family since everyone is already in it. Through a lack of the proper consciousness only does one think that God doesn’t exist or that man is evolved today through natural selection of the strongest species. That evolved man no longer has to worry about God, which is a foolish mindset.

With the proper consciousness, one is allowed to reenter the family and from there engage in these wonderful pastimes, the likes of which fill up the voluminous pages of Vedic literature. The ladies took delight in this ceremony and so do the pure-hearted souls who hear with rapt attention, paying homage to the author who took so much time and effort to describe these events that his mind was so immersed in.

In Closing:

Though anecdotes of my family may reveal,

Open to criticizing them don’t ever feel.

 

Jovial talk for close siblings reserved,

With outsiders some respect need observed.

 

Felt like family already did ladies clever,

Lobbed abuses in both ways did they ever.

 

New bride and groom to feed each other taught,

Sita and Rama, their marriage so much happiness brought.

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Son of the Earth

Posted by krishnasmercy on December 6, 2013

Sita's hand“At that time, Sita’s brother came there from the earth. Performing the rituals and giving blessings, he made himself known.” (Janaki Mangala, 148)

siya bhrātā ke samaya bhoma tahan āyau |
durīdurā kari negu sunāta janāyau ||

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The wedding in Janakpur a long time ago was so important that the most powerful personalities in the world arrived there to witness it. One would think they had more pressing matters to attend to, but when it comes to witnessing beautiful moments shared between the Supreme Personality of Godhead and His eternal consort, everything else takes a backseat. Here we see that the personality who is the planet Mars arrived on the scene to offer his blessings.

Previously, the goddess of fortune and the personality in charge of guarding the material nature arrived there. The wives of other celestials came as well. They came disguised so as to not distract from the festivities. They were there to enjoy the scene, not to hog the glory. In the Vedas we learn that the higher forces of nature are controlled by intelligent beings. The most intelligent being is God, and everything surely does emanate from Him. This means that all that is bad and all that is good is originally sourced in God.

Natural disastersFrom hearing this one would be tempted to blame God for all the calamities of the world. After all, if He’s going to get credit for everything good, as being the author of all that is blessed and sacred, why shouldn’t He take the blame for the tragedies and painful situations people encounter on a daily basis? The root cause of this temporary creation gives the answer to this puzzling question. The Supreme Lord creates, but that doesn’t mean He invests interest in the outcomes to the actions and results seen in that creation. He creates to satisfy the desires of the independent living beings who choose to not have His direct association.

His apathy in material interests is seen in how the creation is effected. Powerful personalities are put in charge of the various elements of nature. The sun is a person, though we find this hard to believe. The person is purusha, or spirit. Spirit is seen in the fish, the dog, the cat, and the human alike. Why can’t it be in the sun as well? The body type is all that is different. Spirit is still there, so the combination of material elements surrounding that spirit just makes for a different kind of living being.

Sunshine in the winterGood and bad are relative in the material sphere. We can use the sun again to test this theory. The sun diffuses heat and light. It does so perpetually. It does not require an external fuel source. It does not require maintenance. Now, depending on where you live, you either bask in the sunshine or fear its dreaded heat. In the summer months, you’re not pleased with the sun, but in the winter you crave its warmth. The sun is identical in both situations. It does not choose to be favorable or unfavorable upon anyone.

From this example we see that what is good for one person may be bad for another. This concept extends all the way into the afterlife, where one person goes to a heavenly realm and another to a hellish one. Indeed, the present life is the afterlife to a previous term in a material body. And right now we see both heavenly and hellish situations, which means that we don’t always get good and don’t always get bad.

Real good is everlasting, extending beyond the foreseeable and unforeseeable futures. Real good belongs only to the Supreme Lord and by extension those who are tied to Him in service. The occasion of Sita’s marriage is an example of all good. The personalities in charge of the material creation took great delight in the occasion. Though they are residents in a realm of duality, here they momentarily cast aside their duties to witness the beautiful spectacle.

Sita DeviSita is God’s wife in a unique spiritual form. For her earthly pastimes, she appears from the ground of the earth. She has a father in King Janaka, who finds her in the field one day, but she is an adopted child. Janaka has no sons at the time, so it seems as though Sita does not have any brothers. When it comes time for her wedding rites, the different aspects traditionally performed by the brother of the bride would seemingly not occur.

From this verse from the Janaki Mangala, Goswami Tulsidas says that Sita’s brother did indeed appear at her wedding. He is known as Bhauma, or Mangala. He comes from the earth, and since Sita arose from the earth as well, Mangala is her brother. Everyone knew who he was when he started performing the rituals and bestowing blessings upon the newly married couple.

Mangala is the planet known in English as Mars. Like all other planets, Mars intrigues the mind. Its climate and appearance are studied by scientists in great detail. Of course even with so much invested in researching it, nothing of value is really known. One can see the color of the planet and perhaps analyze its atmospheric conditions, but what is gained from such information?

Here we get a better understanding of Mars. It is a personality who was originally nurtured by the earth. Bhauma took great pleasure in seeing Sita and Rama. Rama is the origin of everything in His form of Vishnu, who simply exhales to create innumerable universes that emanate from the pores on His body. Vishnu is opulently adorned and thus worshiped in reverence. The worship through offering service in a marriage is more intimate, and so fortunate personalities were able to serve in greater ecstasy through attending the marriage of Sita and Rama.

The ordinary living entities, who have a difficult time maintaining a job let alone even thinking of managing a planet, can stay very close to the same Sita and Rama by remembering their wedding, taking delight in the fact that so many well-wishers were on the scene, and always chanting their names, like those found in the maha-mantra, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.”

In Closing:

Thought that for Sita brothers none,

Then arrived resplendent personality one.

 

By his blessings in rituals made known,

That he was Janaki’s brother own.

 

From mother earth he originally came,

Thus had lineage to Sita the same.

 

In supreme ecstasy same offerings can give,

When in devotional consciousness we live.

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Not For Me

Posted by krishnasmercy on December 5, 2013

Sita and Rama wedding“Looking at the bride and groom, they again and again gave away clothes and jewels in charity. There is no way to explain the happy feelings and jovial nature of that day.” (Janaki Mangala, 147)

nirakhi nichāvara karahi basana mani chinu chinu |
jāi na barani binoda modamaya so dinu ||

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God is one. There is not a separate God assigned to each region or a separate worshipable figure specific to which book you follow. Some may think in this way, that “their” God is different from everyone else’s, but in fact the same entity is described just in different terms. In the Vedas so many details are given about this singular divine entity. From these ancient works we learn that He is universal and that there are different ways to know Him. In the above referenced verse from the Janaki Mangala, we learn one way to recognize when His physically manifest form is within sight.

Imagine something good happening to you. Let’s say you just got a new job. You are so excited. No more do you have to work for the tyrant you’ve called a boss for the last many years. No more will you have to deal with his lying straight to your face. He tells you one thing today and something totally opposite the next. He tells you that he and the company have no money to spend on salaries, and yet he just purchased a brand new car. He didn’t need this one, either; it was just for fun.

Office cubiclesAt your new place of employment things will be different; at least you hope. To start this job you have to buy new clothes. You want to look good. To celebrate the switch, you want to take your friends and family out for a good time. From this example we see that when something good happens to you, you have to add possessions and expenses. Imagine that your good fortune is a wedding. Again, there is tremendous expense, with the added bonus of the worry over how to fill the brand new home. Even in modern times when the bride and groom often live together before marrying, there is never enough stuff; so the wedding provides a way to bring more things into one’s life.

Here we see the celebratory behavior unique to viewing the Supreme Lord and His beautiful eternal consort. The women gazing upon the just married couple are continuously distributing gifts of dresses and jewels. This was part of a marriage ceremony, and there wasn’t any running tally of the losses incurred. There also wasn’t an expectation of return from the gift. Seeing God makes you act this way. No longer are material possessions important. Better it is to part with those items, donating them to the deserving people of society. Why not donate some nice clothes and jewelry to people who don’t have much and who don’t really require much to be happy?

The recipients here weren’t expected to bring cash gifts to the wedding. They weren’t expected to give anything back. This didn’t matter to the women distributing the charity, for they were surrendered to Sita and Rama, who are the goddess of fortune and the Supreme Lord Himself. In Lakshmi, God has the most faithful and beautiful wife. As Narayana, the Supreme Lord is opulently adorned and worshiped in reverence. He is also known as the source of men. Thus Narayana is not a sectarian figure; He is not a God to be worshiped only by the Hindus.

The more one goes beyond the opulent aura of Narayana, the more the loving feelings within an individual can take over. As Sita and Rama, the same Lakshmi and Narayana appear in enchanting forms that evoke the natural penchant for service found within all of us. To serve them one need use only their mind. They don’t require money. They don’t require wealth. Objects can be used in service, for sure, as they are used here in distributing wealth. At the same time, the worshipers are not concerned over their personal fortunes. If you have the beautiful vision of Sita and Rama in front of you, you are naturally not attached to anything else.

Sita and RamaThe famous saints of the Vedic tradition provide further proof of this concept. None of them are known for their wealth, fame or number of possessions. In addition to their strong devotion, the example they set is of renunciation. The most knowledgeable of thinkers, who accepted supreme wisdom from their teachers and then further elucidated it in beautiful written word, lived on practically nothing. When their devotion was at its most mature stage in the eyes of others, the renunciation was quite pronounced. They didn’t require much in chanting the holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.” They didn’t need so much money to maintain their writing and distribution of literature. Since they didn’t require so much, they didn’t have to work very hard to maintain a living. Absent the difficult labor that repeats day after day, their time was freed for worshiping God, which brings the most pleasure to any person.

Renunciation is superior to attachment to so many possessions. Thus from seeing Sita and Rama one reaches a better position automatically. This is one test for determining who is God and which activities are devotional. In a material existence, increased success brings increased burdens. In devotional life, the more one serves God, the more renounced they naturally become. They become extremely liberal in distributing gifts, including with the most wonderful gift of all: devotion.

In Closing:

New achievement I’ve got,

But free of burdens I’m not.

 

New items now must head to buy,

To celebrate also this achievement my.

 

When Supreme Lord’s vision to earn,

Mindset taking opposite turn.

 

Donating items, liberally to give,

When in bliss of devotion to live.

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