Krishna's Mercy

Hare Krishna

Talking About How I Can Forget

Posted by krishnasmercy on March 25, 2015

[Krishna's lotus feet]“The living entities, as separate parts and parcels of the Supreme, have a purpose to fulfill. Having forgotten that purpose, since time immemorial they are situated in different bodies, as men, animals, demigods, etc. Such bodily differences arise from forgetfulness of the transcendental service of the Lord. But when one is engaged in transcendental service through Krishna consciousness, one becomes at once liberated from this illusion.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 4.35 Purport)

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FriendOne: I came upon a pretty grand realization today.

FriendTwo: Yeah? Not just ordinary grand? Let me guess. You really like ice cream.

F1: No, silly.

F2: You really like pizza.

F1: Well, that’s obvious. Everyone knows that. Seriously though, I’m talking about spiritual matters.

F2: Surely you can’t be serious? And don’t call me Shirley. Okay, okay. It’s good that you have these realizations. As long as they are correct from the point of view of shastra, it is beneficial to share them.

F1: That’s why I’m running it by you. You’re my shastra-checker.

F2: I’ve been called worse.

F1: Okay, let me set the table here. In the Bhagavad-gita, Lord Krishna explains a lot of things.

[Krishna and Arjuna]F2: Time, the material nature, the individual soul, karma, and the supreme controller are the main topics.

F1: Exactly. And the presentation is systematic, thorough, and yet concise too. There’s even questions thrown in there by a wise and helpful warrior named Arjuna.

F2: Helpful for our sake. As you know, Arjuna is a liberated soul. He is never outside of Krishna consciousness. Sometimes yoga-maya manipulates circumstances to meet the desires of Krishna. By Arjuna asking those questions, future generations would get the answers that they would be looking for.

F1: Though there is all this explaining going on, Krishna sums everything up nicely. He tells Arjuna to abandon all varieties of religion and surrender unto Him.

F2: And lest there be any worry over the matter, Krishna promises to deliver Arjuna from all sinful reaction.

F1: Exactly. This is likely the most famous verse of the Bhagavad-gita. It is the one the mayavadis, the atheists, and the enemies of Krishna wish had never been spoken. The non-devotees will never mention this verse. Or if they do, they will first try to redefine Krishna.

F2: Yeah. They’ll say that the surrender is to the Krishna within all of us; whatever the heck that means. They won’t acknowledge Krishna, the person, who is the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

F1: It’s like they haven’t understood any of the Bhagavad-gita.

F2: Or they did understand it and they intentionally choose to mislead others.

F1: So anyway, I was meditating a little on a particular verse. After thinking about it for a while, I came up with something that is pretty comforting.

F2: Do tell.

F1: Basically, if the protection from Krishna is guaranteed, it means that if you actually abandon all varieties of religion and follow Him in bhakti-yoga, Krishna is compelled to protect you.

F2: Yeah, duh.

F1: [laughing] No, I didn’t mean it like that. Think of it this way. If I don’t follow all the rules and regulations of spiritual life, if I don’t necessarily join an established institution or formally take up training with someone who represents Krishna – if I still think about Him and devote myself to Him, as He is, then He’s obligated to deliver me.

F2: Well, you have to have real devotion. You can’t just make up some process and call it devotional service. You can’t take up philanthropy and declare it to be on an equal level with surrender to the lotus feet of the darling child of mother Yashoda.

[Krishna and Yashoda]F1: Right; that’s understood. I’m talking about always thinking of Him. If I’m conscious of Him throughout the day, chanting His holy names, associating with people who love Him, serving them in some capacity, then there is no way that He can abandon me. He is not allowed to, by His own rule.

F2: So what are you trying to say? That once you take up bhakti-yoga, you’re all set?

F1: Yeah. I mean it’s an interesting way to look at it. The rules aren’t that important, if you think about it. Krishna cannot abandon the devotee; it’s as simple as that.

F2: Ah, but you’re missing something very important here: the devotee can abandon Krishna.

F1: What do you mean?

F2: All those regulations, like chanting the maha-mantra a fixed number of times each day, avoiding meat eating, gambling and the like – those are meant to keep you from forgetting Krishna. God will never abandon someone who wants His company, but He doesn’t stand in the way of those who turn their backs on Him.

F1: Ah, I see. Yeah, that’s a good point.

F2: That’s the cause of the birth in the material world. Forgetfulness of God brings residence in a temporary land, wherein birth and death repeat in cycles. You’re also a little too optimistic here. Do you know how difficult it is for someone to accept the path of bhakti-yoga?

F1: It is difficult; I acknowledge that. I was coming at it from the perspective of someone who does take it up with some seriousness.

F2: It can take many lifetimes before someone is even interested in spiritual life. In the animals species there is no chance for it, except in rare cases. In the human species you typically have to at least wait until adulthood, where you start questioning the way things are done and the reason for your existence. Then you have to be fortunate enough to find the right people to teach you. You could take up spiritual life, but remain in an immature stage. You could ask for stuff from God or god-like entities, instead of offering genuine service.

F1: Yeah, and it would be a real shame if you forgot Krishna after finding Him. It’s like having a winning lottery ticket in your hand and trading it for a pack of cigarettes.

[Lord Krishna]F2: [laughing] Yeah, something like that. But you are definitely right about Krishna giving protection. It makes the choice for bhakti-yoga a safe one. The Supreme Lord will ensure that your practice will thrive, as long as your motives are pure. Consistent hearing and chanting of the holy names helps to keep the motives in the right place: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

In Closing:

Once in bhakti situated so,

Supreme Lord of you not to let go.

 

This to Arjuna His promise set,

But devotee His grace can forget.

 

Fall to material world’s cause,

Led into birth and death’s jaws.

 

The promise of Krishna’s you’ve got,

Rules to help you forget Him not.

www.krishnasmercy.org

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Look In And Look Everywhere

Posted by krishnasmercy on March 24, 2015

[Supersoul in the heart]“I am seated in everyone’s heart, and from Me come remembrance, knowledge and forgetfulness. By all the Vedas am I to be known; indeed I am the compiler of Vedanta, and I am the knower of the Vedas.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 15.15)

sarvasya cāhaṁ hṛdi sanniviṣṭo
mattaḥ smṛtir jñānam apohanaṁ ca
vedaiś ca sarvair aham eva vedyo
vedānta-kṛd veda-vid eva cāham

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Unfathomable are the depths to which the deniers of the divine presence will sink to try to support their claims. They will say that everything happened by accident, that there is no way to prove that God exists. They will say that pain, suffering and misery show that if there is a supreme deity, He is not very kind. He must be mean and spiteful if such things occur.

Some of their doubts seem to have more validity than others. For example, for many years the consensus of opinion was that the earth was flat. It has since been accepted that the earth is round. Then there was the issue of looking to the sky. “Tell your story to the man upstairs. He will hear you.” Thunder and lightning were thought to be the revenge of God, brought to punish the sinners. A soon to be famous printer in Philadelphia in the eighteenth century devised a test, whereby he was able to prove that lightning was nothing more than electricity. He then devised a system to help protect buildings against lightning strikes. Yet even this was met with opposition, as if it were an act of defiance against the great punisher in the sky.

[Ben Franklin kite experiment]Man continued in this path, inventing the airplane and the spaceship. These pierced the clouds in the sky and showed what was beyond. They didn’t find anyone. There was no large hand to greet them. There was no old man waiting to punish their deviant behavior. To the deniers, this meant that God was indeed a myth, created by those who are against fun. “The weak look to some invisible figure to solve their problems, while the strong take fate into their own hands.”

This is a belief anyway, but the Vedas give the actual understanding. The Supreme Lord isn’t so petty a person that He stands on guard from afar, waiting to torture His children. He isn’t only accessible via the aerial path, either. He is not situated miles and miles away, though He can live anywhere He chooses.

The Supreme Deity is resting within every heart. This is confirmed in the Bhagavad-gita, where the Personality of Godhead speaks the confidential philosophy known as the science of self-realization. It is the king of education, the secret of all secrets. It is the perfection of all religion, and those who practice it do so joyfully.

rāja-vidyā rāja-guhyaṁ
pavitram idam uttamam
pratyakṣāvagamaṁ dharmyaṁ
su-sukhaṁ kartum avyayam

“This knowledge is the king of education, the most secret of all secrets. It is the purest knowledge, and because it gives direct perception of the self by realization, it is the perfection of religion. It is everlasting, and it is joyfully performed.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.2)

[Bhagavad Gita As It Is]To do something joyfully means to act without fear. You are compelled to do something when you are afraid, and so there can be little joy in that case. The perfection of religion is pleasing because there is knowledge that the Supreme Deity is all around. There is also knowledge of God’s true nature; which includes compassion, kindness, protection and empathy.

He rests within every heart as the Supersoul. The individual is a soul at the core; jivatma. The Supreme Lord is paramatma, which is similar to the jivatma but also significantly different. I cannot enter into someone else and know what they are experiencing. That other person also has the same limitation. Paramatma, on the other hand, is the same. It is like a single person watching so many different camera angles at the same time.

Though distributed everywhere, Paramatma is undivided. Simultaneously, there is the Personality of Godhead Himself residing in His spiritual home. God is inside of us and also all around us. He is within every atom. He is within the earth, the water, the fire, the air and the ether. Not a blade of grass moves without His sanction, and so He is in every single law of nature. Those laws that the less intelligent use to try to deny the existence of God actually have their origin in Him. Only intelligence could create such intelligence. The laws of nature are so perfect that they can be counted on, time and time again, without fail.

[praying hands]As God is within every heart, He is there for both the sinner and the pious man. He is there for the law-abiding citizen and the criminal. He hears both their prayers and their curses. He sees when a person looks up and also when they look down. He realizes their strong attachments and their aversions. Yet within the heart He stands by as a neutral observer. He is a witness to activities, but He does not directly influence them.

He is not incapable in this area. He can influence, but He does so only when asked.

How can He be asked if the person inside doesn’t even know that He exists? How can He help if every desire is for something that will further increase that forgetfulness of Him?

Indeed, He fulfills desires through the functions of material nature, but in that space the rewards are finite. Only one person fills the vacant position in that new company. Only one person is crowned the champion at the end of the season, despite many vying for it.

As God is all around, the request for His personal intervention in the matter of advancing in spiritual life is always granted. There is no race to the finish here, as everyone can enjoy His company. The easiest way to make the call is to always chant the Lord’s holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

[Krishna's lotus feet]The meaning to this mantra is different from what we would typically associate with religious life. This mantra asks God to come and be with the person and to allow service to take place. This mantra asks the energy of God for help in executing that service, in a mood that is pure, free of outside motives. The man who is both behind the sky and within the heart listens to this request, and the more times it is made, the more pure the person asking for it becomes, the quicker the divine mercy appears, giving a life of happiness beyond anything previously expected.

In Closing:

Not necessary to look in the sky,

Or beyond the clouds to fly.

 

Supreme Lord found heart within,

For both pious man and one of sin.

 

Within law of material nature each,

So not necessary for long to reach.

 

Humble call with holy names make,

And advantage of His association take.

www.krishnasmercy.org

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Yoga With Determination

Posted by krishnasmercy on March 23, 2015

[japa beads]“The yoga practitioner should be determined and should patiently prosecute the practice without deviation. One should be sure of success at the end and pursue this course with great perseverance, not becoming discouraged if there is any delay in the attainment of success. Success is sure for the rigid practitioner.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 6.24 Purport)

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Question: “What if I don’t see success in practicing bhakti-yoga? Chanting the maha-mantra every day [Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare] for a fixed number of rounds is good at giving me some peace of mind, but afterwards I’m still attacked by my old nemesis: material desires. What should I do if I feel that I am not making progress?”

Those who teach bhakti-yoga, including the original preceptor Himself, Shri Krishna, say that the yogi should have determination. The idea is that if the yoga is practiced under the proper conditions, which help to eliminate desires of the material kind, then success is guaranteed. This is explained both in theory and also by example, such as with the story involving a sparrow and Garuda.

What is wrong with having material desires? Can a desire be of any other kind?

We can think of it in terms of wanting things for oneself versus seeking the happiness of someone else. The mother who works hard in the kitchen to prepare a nice meal for herself has a different desire than the mother who works just as hard to feed her child. The work is the same in both instances, but the results of that work are to be used differently.

[Mother Yashoda feeding Krishna]A material desire brings work that yields something for the benefit of the material covering of the individual. The soul is what identifies us. We each survived within the womb in the beginning. We can’t fit into a tiny space like that now. We can’t even fathom living like that for upwards of nine months. But it is a fact that we survived it previously. It was made possible by the eternal existence of the soul, which remains active at all times. When we think we can no longer see it, it has simply gone somewhere else. In the womb the soul is hard to see, but we mark its presence by the development of the fetus.

Elimination of material desires means stopping work that yields a result only for the temporary body. Think of it like working for the welfare of the soul instead. It is like building a home in which the soul will remain happiest, where the changes influenced by time will not be present.

Since in yoga there are recommended practices and attainable goals, we see that desire is still present. The call for determination and perseverance immediately implies desire. So desire never gets eliminated; simply its nature changes. In spiritual desire, one’s work yields results that help the soul. When the soul is rescued, other souls can be rescued as well.

The preliminary result of real yoga practice is the gradual changing of the nature of desire from material to spiritual. But what if we don’t see a change? What if we’re not successful in concentrating on the Supersoul within, who is an expansion of the Supreme Lord? What if we can’t understand that we are different from the Supersoul, that we are meant to have union with Him in a relationship of love? What if we’re having difficulty fostering devotion to the Supersoul?

The recommendation is to continue on. Have determination. Be confident that you will see the result. Like a disease that suddenly disappears completely after a long period of treatment, the all-devouring enemy known as lust, or material desire, will vanish in a person who stays the course in yoga, whose purpose is to unite the individual with their eternal occupation, devotion to the Supreme Lord.

To help us understand that determination, there is the example of the sparrow and the ocean. Once a sparrow was laying her eggs on the banks of the ocean, when the waves suddenly rose up and took the eggs. The sparrow asked for the eggs back, but the ocean refused. The sparrow then threatened to dry up the ocean; a vow for which she was mocked. She continued anyway, pecking away at the vast ocean little by little.

[Garuda helping the sparrow]What seemed like folly ended up pleasing Garuda, who is the bird-carrier of God in His personal form of Lord Vishnu. Garuda then came to the rescue of the sparrow, demanding the eggs from the ocean. Thus through strong determination, to the point of ridiculousness, the sparrow succeeded in her goal.

The person practicing bhakti-yoga will similarly seem ridiculous to others.

“How can you give up eating meat? Where will you get your protein? No drinking, either? Life will be no fun, then. You’re giving up illicit sex; whatever that means? And then no gambling also? You are taking away everything enjoyable in life. You are punishing yourself for no reason. God gave us this one human life to be enjoyed to the fullest. You’re going to regret your decision later on.”

Yet if there is the same determination as the sparrow, someone like Garuda will come to help. In his Upadeshamrita, Rupa Gosvami validates this, saying that determination while following the regulative principles is guaranteed to yield the desired result in the end for the devotee.

“The process of bhakti-yoga can be executed successfully with full-hearted enthusiasm, perseverance, and determination by following the prescribed duties in the association of devotees and by engaging completely in activities of goodness.” (Upadeshamrita, 3)

[The Nectar of Instruction book]The difficulty is that the desired objective is a change in consciousness, which is impossible to see. You can’t see someone else’s mind. You can’t tell how they think by only looking at their forehead. You get some indication of consciousness through activities, but in the end it is the individual who will have to judge. Only they can tell if material desires have left and been replaced by an undying will to serve the Supreme Lord Krishna and see a bright smile on His face. The mercy of God is such that the determination alone will bring success, as there is great potency in the help provided by Garuda and others who are devoted to the same Lord in thought, word and deed.

In Closing:

Sparrow her eggs wanting back,

Pecking slowly at ocean her attack.

 

Though seemingly ridiculously fought,

Determination the attention of Garuda caught.

 

Yogi advised to have will the same,

To be steadfast in chanting holy name.

 

Success from consciousness to tell,

Transformed desire victory to spell.

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Potential Weakness In God

Posted by krishnasmercy on March 22, 2015

[Rama's lotus feet]“Dwelling in the forest of Dandaka with Rama of immeasurable vigor, I, His lawful wife, was taken away by the evil Rakshasa Ravana.” (Sita Devi speaking to Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 33.30)

vasato daṇḍaka araṇye tasya aham amita ojasaḥ ||
rakṣasā apahṛtā bhāryā rāvaṇena durātmanā |

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Here Sita Devi confirms that the Supreme Personality of Godhead has vigor that is beyond measure. This is in the positive direction; the vigor is so great that you can’t quantify it. In the opposite direction, the total absence of a quality can be measured with the term “zero.” “Nothing” also suffices. “Infinity” is when the amount is too great to count, and since God is the all in all, infinity is the only way to describe His glorious attributes.

Sita, the wife of Rama, who is the Supreme Lord in an incarnation form, mentions something else here that seems to pose a contradiction. She tells Hanuman that she was residing in the forest of Dandaka. That is no issue, as God can surely live wherever He desires. He doesn’t require a palatial building. The temple is for the benefit of the worshipers, not the worshiped. He lives both within as the Supersoul and without as the same Supersoul of all creatures. He is in the movement of the blade of grass, the rising of the sun, and the constant onslaught of time.

raso ‘ham apsu kaunteya
prabhāsmi śaśi-sūryayoḥ
praṇavaḥ sarva-vedeṣu
śabdaḥ khe pauruṣaṁ nṛṣu

“O son of Kunti [Arjuna], I am the taste of water, the light of the sun and the moon, the syllable om in the Vedic mantras; I am the sound in ether and ability in man.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.8)

Living in the forest, carrying His immeasurable vigor with Him, Rama failed to protect Sita. At least this is how it looks. Sita says that the evil Rakshasa named Ravana took her away. He perpetrated the iniquitous deed in secret, first luring Rama and His younger brother Lakshmana away with a diversion. The immeasurable vigor seemed to lose to the evil one, duratmana.

The opponent of God views this example as an opportunity to shine the light on other similar defects. We see bad things happen to good people. Some tragedies are so gross that they are unspeakable. We see pain that we can’t imagine in people who seem to be good throughout. Then we see bad people rising to fame and prominence. Where is the vigor of God? Where is His protection?

mamaivāṁśo jīva-loke
jīva-bhūtaḥ sanātanaḥ
manaḥ-ṣaṣṭhānīndriyāṇi
prakṛti-sthāni karṣati

“The living entities in this conditioned world are My eternal, fragmental parts. Due to conditioned life, they are struggling very hard with the six senses, which include the mind.” (Lord Krishna, Bg. 15.7)

[Bhagavad-gita As It Is]The Bhagavad-gita clears up the confusion. The same Rama, in His original form of Shri Krishna, says that all living entities residing in the material world are struggling. He doesn’t say that only some people suffer only some of the time. He doesn’t qualify the statement by saying that people who deserve to be punished by the laws of nature get their just reward. He doesn’t say that the bad people struggle and the good people don’t.

Everyone has trouble, and it is due to the six senses, which include the mind. In the material existence, the senses are a source of misery. Even in so-called good times, there is fear over the future. There is worry over the inevitable, namely death. Then in so-called bad times there is suffering due to the interactions of the senses with external objects. From both situations we see that no one is prospering.

This does not show a defect in God. In fact, the perpetual cycle of birth and death and the renewed misery that ensues is another indication of the immeasurable vigor belonging to the Supreme Lord. The pain and suffering continue for as long as one desires a material existence. In the spiritual existence, no such suffering exists. The senses and the surrounding nature are used in devotional service, bhakti-yoga. This automatically brings an end to the suffering.

“Sita was with Rama, serving Him in the forest. She is always in devotional service. She does not know any other mentality. How then could she suffer in such a way? The six senses should not have given her trouble. She should not have been made to suffer at the hands of Ravana.”

The suffering here is of a different nature. It is blissful since it brings increased thoughts of the Supreme Lord. The show of weakness from Rama was intentional, as it allowed for other forces to come into play. The bond between Sita and Rama never broke. It never will break, as the devotional consciousness remains regardless of the circumstances.

[Shri Hanuman]The apparent lapse in the display of vigor allowed for the indefatigable Shri Hanuman to travel to Lanka to search for Sita. Hanuman is an extension of Rama’s might. Everything he does in devotional service is a credit to Rama. Sita also would not give in to Ravana’s advances. Though the fiend threatened her with death, she refused to give in. Thus she too has immeasurable vigor. This is characteristic of the devotees, who never stop in serving their beloved in thought, word and deed.

In Closing:

Immeasurable vigor in Rama so,

But why weakness in Dandaka to show?

 

Sita away from His side taking,

Ravana, king who decency forsaking.

 

To struggle hard each person here,

None spared, even good crippled with fear.

 

By Rama’s blemish brave Hanuman sent,

And Sita with thoughts of Rama time spent.

www.krishnasmercy.org

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Losing In The End

Posted by krishnasmercy on March 21, 2015

[Rama holding His arrow]“Dwelling in the forest of Dandaka with Rama of immeasurable vigor, I, His lawful wife, was taken away by the evil Rakshasa Ravana.” (Sita Devi speaking to Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 33.30)

vasato daṇḍaka araṇye tasya aham amita ojasaḥ ||
rakṣasā apahṛtā bhāryā rāvaṇena durātmanā |

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The enemies of the true religious path seem to be indefatigable. They don’t tire. They remain obstinate. They keep coming up with excuses for not accepting the only route that leads to genuine happiness for the spirit soul, which is the essence of identity. Any human tragedy is seized upon as supporting evidence. “Let no crisis go to waste” is the motto when looking to defeat the powers of good in the world. Though the plight of a princess in the Ashoka grove in Lanka a long time ago apparently gave signs to support the atheistic view, her words spoken to a noble warrior said otherwise.

“Why are you wasting your time serving milk to your gods? Do you think they actually drink it? Do you see them? They are gods, are they not? If that is the case, what need do they have for your milk? You would be better served offering the same to the poor. They actually need it. They are struggling. I’m sure your gods wouldn’t mind.”

“How can you believe in God after seeing all the terrible tragedies in the world? How could a kind savior allow such atrocities to happen on a regular basis? No, I’m not a blind follower like you. I can’t buy into it. There is no God. We’re all alone; we have to look out for ourselves. It’s a dog eat dog world out there, and I’m not going to be one of the suckers.”

“I believe the best way to serve God is to be nice to people. If He does exist, then I think He’ll be happiest when everyone is enjoying. Let there be peace in the world. Let others live without conflict and struggle. This is the way to please the Supreme Lord.”

[Krishna's hand]The excuses continue to flow, while the path of devotional service remains an option the entire time. Even after being rejected for so many years, through many lifetimes spent in many species, the Supreme Lord always leaves the door open for His children to return. After they’ve exhausted every mentally concocted system of virtue, some more widely accepted than others, they still have the chance to serve God with love and devotion.

“Are not the excuses legitimate? How can God let atrocities happen? Why isn’t it better to feed the poor instead of the deities in the temple?”

The material is temporary and miserable. In the Bhagavad-gita, the two Sanskrit terms used are duhkhalayam ashashvatam [Bg. 8.15]. The atrocities we see reported on television are actually no different in nature than the joyous moments. The cat being rescued from a tree is on par with the outbreak of the deadly disease. Just as happiness corresponds to sadness, birth is paired with death. Birth brings the potential for so many things, and death takes it all away. In this way, life is a losing business. No one goes into business to fail, but in life that is the only guaranteed outcome.

jātasya hi dhruvo mṛtyur
dhruvaṁ janma mṛtasya ca
tasmād aparihārye ‘rthe
na tvaṁ śocitum arhasi

“For one who has taken his birth, death is certain; and for one who is dead, birth is certain. Therefore, in the unavoidable discharge of your duty, you should not lament.” (Lord Krishna, Bg. 2.27)

The distinction to keep in mind is that the guaranteed loss applies only to material life. No matter how much the poor are fed, there will still be poverty. No matter how much research goes into fighting and curing disease, people will still fall ill and die. No matter how many conventions and meetings are held to bring world peace, there will always be conflict.

On the other hand, with devotion practiced in the right way, there is every chance for ultimate victory. That devotion is stronger than its opposition. Sita Devi and Shri Hanuman testify to this. The person they serve is the reservoir of immeasurable vigor, which He then kindly shares with those who serve Him.

[Lord Rama]What does immeasurable vigor mean? Think of one man defeating 14,000 fighters singlehandedly. He had no time to prepare. He did not map out a strategy. He only had a few moments’ notice, and He still won without any doubt. His place of residence at the time was a forest known as Janasthana, or the land of the living people. Noting the irony of what resulted from her husband’s victory, Sita later humorously pointed out that the land transformed into Hatasthana, or the land of the dead.

“O Rakshasa, when your Rakshasa army had been killed in Janasthana, turning it into Hatasthana [land of the dead], being powerless you committed this wicked deed.” (Sita Devi, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 21.29-30)

The attackers came to take Sita, who was the lawfully wedded wife of the victor, Shri Rama. The evil Ravana eventually succeeded in taking away Sita. He tried to torture her in Lanka, hoping that she would agree to become his chief queen. Sita’s situation would seem to support the argument that God doesn’t exist. If Rama were really God, how could He allow Sita to suffer in such a manner?

Sita here informs us that Rama has immeasurable vigor. Though the enemies of the real religion will amass temporary gains here and there, they are no match for what God brings. In this situation, the vigor extends to both Sita and Hanuman, who was sent by Rama to find her. Hanuman’s perseverance cannot be accurately quantified. The same goes for his love for God, whom he will serve until the end of time and beyond.

[Sita and Rama]Sita’s determination in honoring the vow of marriage is just as strong. The devoted ultimately triumph over the non-devoted. The non-devoted will lose everything at the time of death anyway. The same is not true for the servants of Rama. They get His association after death, for they always remain conscious of Him.

anta-kāle ca mām eva
smaran muktvā kalevaram
yaḥ prayāti sa mad-bhāvaṁ
yāti nāsty atra saṁśayaḥ

“And whoever, at the time of death, quits his body, remembering Me alone, at once attains My nature. Of this there is no doubt.” (Lord Krishna, Bg. 8.5)

How can we know for sure that we will be with God in the afterlife? How can we be sure that devotional service, bhakti-yoga, is not a waste of time? In any other path, we know that everything gets erased at the time of death. We know that the time leading up to that event is spent in fear, as at any moment everything can be lost. In the devotional path, there is only gain after gain, as the consciousness gradually becomes purified. So even in the present life there is success, which continues on into the future, like the immortal words of Sita found in the Ramayana.

In Closing:

Though tragedy and suffering in pain,

Life a losing business, nothing to gain.

 

Temporary and miserable the description,

That all to die most accurate prediction.

 

Only in devotion to Rama to win in the end,

His immeasurable vigor to servants to send.

 

Like with Sita and Hanuman winning,

Overcoming king of Lanka’s sinning.

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Immeasurable Vigor

Posted by krishnasmercy on March 20, 2015

[Rama holding His arrow]“Dwelling in the forest of Dandaka with Rama of immeasurable vigor, I, His lawful wife, was taken away by the evil Rakshasa Ravana.” (Sita Devi speaking to Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 33.30)

vasato daṇḍaka araṇye tasya aham amita ojasaḥ ||
rakṣasā apahṛtā bhāryā rāvaṇena durātmanā |

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What is immeasurable vigor? For the fallible human being, old age, disease and death reveal that strength is limited. Only the less intelligent would think that life could continue forever. Ignoring the existence of the afterlife, which is nothing more than the extended future, the lowest of the low will stoop to any level to satisfy their present desires. This was the case with the Rakshasa named Ravana. Unfortunately for him, he ran up against immeasurable vigor personified in the person of Rama.

A person gets credit for perseverance. Especially when they continue on after many defeats, others who are watching appreciate their effort:

“I can’t believe how hard they worked. Everyone told them they would fail. The easiest route in life is the one chalked out for you by others. It’s safe. It’s supported by history. But this person had no desire to follow the easy way. They had a dream and they finally achieved it. No one would have imagined their success previously. Their vigor is amazing.”

In this context the achievement is related to something material which is viewed favorably. But vigor can be applied towards the unfavorable side as well. Ravana was cunning in his attempt to take the lawfully wedded wife of another man. He devised a plot whereby he could take her away in secret, without having to fight for her. Her husband was known to have immeasurable vigor, but Ravana seemed to escape without a scratch. He thought he had won.

The woman is named Sita and her husband is Rama, who is the Supreme Lord. It should be obvious to us that God has immeasurable vigor. Without even mentioning Rama the person, we can look to the impersonal force that is time. No one knows from where time came. No one knows how to talk to it, and certainly no one knows how to defeat it. The person who is considered an atheist at least acknowledges one higher authority: time.

prahlādaś cāsmi daityānāṁ
kālaḥ kalayatām aham
mṛgāṇāṁ ca mṛgendro ‘haṁ
vainateyaś ca pakṣiṇām

“Among the Daitya demons I am the devoted Prahlada; among subduers I am time; among the beasts I am the lion, and among birds I am Garuda, the feathered carrier of Vishnu.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 10.30)

[time]Time destroys all. Whether you are good or bad, time will operate on you. It does not take into consideration what you have done in the past. It does not ask you what you want or to where you wish to travel. Time erases the bad memory of a traumatic event and also makes you nostalgic for past glories.

Rama is the personal God, the Supreme Lord appearing on earth in a human guise. Because of the external vision, it is understandable if someone like Ravana were to think that Rama’s vigor had a measure. But Rama had already given the fiend a hint. He had defeated 14,000 of Ravana’s fighters singlehandedly. This was in defense, as well. It wasn’t a coordinated attack. Rama did not plot to kill that many warriors at the same time. The situation called for it, and Rama took care of it.

[Rama]The above referenced verse from the Ramayana is spoken to Shri Hanuman, who through his acts is an extension of Rama’s immeasurable vigor. Hanuman searched tirelessly and bravely through unknown territories for Sita. This was after Rama met Hanuman and the other Vanaras living in the Kishkindha kingdom.

From Hanuman alone we see what immeasurable vigor means. The trait originates in the Supreme Lord and it gets inherited by those who serve Him with love. Sita too has the same vigor, as she steadfastly refused the advances of Ravana, to the point of risking her own life. She would rather die than even think of being with any man other than Rama.

Being a lawfully wedded wife usually protects you from the advances of other men. After all, the bond of marriage generally indicates that the heart has been taken. The heart belongs to the husband, so what fool would try to take it away? Especially with Sita, there was strict adherence to dharma. Her marriage to Rama was of both the love and arranged varieties.

paras tasmāt tu bhāvo ‘nyo
‘vyakto ‘vyaktāt sanātanaḥ
yaḥ sa sarveṣu bhūteṣu
naśyatsu na vinaśyati

“Yet there is another nature, which is eternal and is transcendental to this manifested and unmanifested matter. It is supreme and is never annihilated. When all in this world is annihilated, that part remains as it is.” (Lord Krishna, Bg. 8.20)

[Rama holding His bow]Ravana’s vigor had limits, especially since he used it to go against dharma, or virtue. Rama’s vigor, seen in one way through Hanuman, had no limits. This is the power of devotional service, which is easily practiced through the chanting of the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. Time may operate on the temporary body and eventually destroy it, but for the devoted soul it will reward the vigor in service with residence in the imperishable realm that the Supreme Lord calls home.

In Closing:

Birth, death, disease and old age,

Against time futile the battle to wage.

 

Showing that to human strength a limit,

But Ravana sinful life not to quit.

 

Away from Rama beloved Sita to take,

Viewing Lord as human his big mistake.

 

In Sita’s husband the vigor without measure,

Same in devotees who His association treasure.

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Mahatma And Duratma

Posted by krishnasmercy on March 19, 2015

[Rama's lotus feet]“Dwelling in the forest of Dandaka with Rama of immeasurable vigor, I, His lawful wife, was taken away by the evil Rakshasa Ravana.” (Sita Devi speaking to Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 33.30)

vasato daṇḍaka araṇye tasya aham amita ojasaḥ ||
rakṣasā apahṛtā bhāryā rāvaṇena durātmanā |

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We’ve likely heard the term “mahatma” before. It literally means a great soul, and as a title it has been kindly bestowed upon important personalities. The more a person is detached from their own personal sense gratification, the greater we think they are. The greatest soul is one who knows that all other living entities are souls and should be viewed as such. The worst soul, on the other hand, is only concerned with their own wellbeing while living in a body that is temporary. They will go to any length to satisfy their urges that never cease. This makes them a duratma, a label which Sita Devi accurately affixes to the Rakshasa named Ravana.

[Rama and army defeating Ravana]Who is good and who is bad? On the Vedic holiday of Dussehra, we’re told to remember the strength of good and how it triumphs over evil. The origin of the annual occasion is the slaying of the aforementioned Ravana. Rama was the good one. He was the great soul and also a knower of the soul, or self. “Viditamana” is the term used to describe such a person, and it applies to Rama’s father Dasharatha as well.

Rama is also a knower of distinctions, visheshajna. To know the self is very difficult. Hours of meditation alone doesn’t yield this understanding. Jumping from one type of sense gratification to another doesn’t do the trick, either. Knowledge of the self has to first be heard from a higher authority and then realized through practice under the guidance of such authority.

tad viddhi praṇipātena
paripraśnena sevayā
upadekṣyanti te jñānaṁ
jñāninas tattva-darśinaḥ

“Just try to learn the truth by approaching a spiritual master. Inquire from him submissively and render service unto him. The self-realized soul can impart knowledge unto you because he has seen the truth.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.34)

[Prabhupada teaching]To know distinctions means to know differences. Rama needed this since He was a fighter. He had to tell who was good and who was evil. He had to decipher the mode of attack of the enemy also. A tiger attacks in a different way than a snake. The Rakshasas in Lanka were incredibly tricky. Using black magic, they could appear at one second and then disappear the next.

Rama was good and He eventually defeated Ravana, who was bad. Rama is the very definition of good since He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. God can appear anywhere He so chooses. He can be a warrior prince and His fighting ability can be unmatched. Sita Devi says that His vigor is immeasurable, amita-ojasah.

Correspondingly, Ravana is the very definition of evil. He is of the Rakshasa species, particularly known for eating humans. Even without consulting Vedic literature, we already acknowledge that someone who eats human flesh is low. But Ravana was a duratma for another reason: his antagonism towards God.

He showed just how strongly against the godly principles he was when he took away Sita from the Dandaka forest. She was residing there with her husband Rama. She was the lawful wife of Rama, bharya. She and her husband were not bothering anyone. They were not exploiting anyone or causing harm. They were in the dense forest, with little in their possession.

If someone steals something that rightfully belongs to us, we don’t think too highly of them. There should be respect for property. Sita was lawfully married to Rama and in spirit she could never love anyone else. Ravana did not respect this, and so he was a duratma.

We derive the true definition of good and evil from this example. Another applicable word in Sanskrit is asura. The corresponding term is sura. A sura respects God, His family, His relationships, and His property. The asura is completely the opposite. Ravana was an asura in qualities, which he showed countless times.

The goodness of God always wins out, and so we got the occasion of Dussehra. Without respect for the Supreme Lord, every living entity will automatically fall into the behavior of the asura. The duratma doesn’t respect anyone’s property, and so they sink even further. The true mahatmas, like Sita’s father Janaka, are always conscious of the Supreme Lord. They look to serve Him at every moment, and they never forget that He is the true definition of good.

[Sita Devi]Sita Devi is the goddess of fortune, which means that she can bestow so many gifts. Her benedictions are extensions of her, and since she is Rama’s wife, whatever she gives is meant to be used in service to Him. Hanuman follows this attitude as well, and so he is on the side of good perpetually. The evil try to take Sita for themselves, and they suffer as a result. Though they achieve apparent victories of temporary significance here and there, they lose in the end.

In Closing:

Mahatma the spirit soul to know,

Duratma for body’s pleasure to go.

 

The first automatically good,

The other evil understood.

 

Like Rama, the self always knowing,

And Ravana, rules of propriety forgoing.

 

Since behavior of theirs rooted in sin,

Duratmas against God never to win.

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Into The Unknown

Posted by krishnasmercy on March 18, 2015

[Sita, Rama and Lakshmana]“Highly respecting the order of the one we serve, and firm in our vow, we entered the forest, which we had not seen before and which gave the appearance of being very deep.” (Sita Devi speaking to Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 33.29)

te vayam bhartuḥ ādeśam bahu mānya dṛḍha vratāḥ ||
praviṣṭāḥ sma purāt dṛṣṭam vanam gambhīra darśanam |

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Bhakti-yoga has synonymous terms such as “bhagavata-dharma” and “sanatana-dharma.” It is the essence of activity for the essence of identity, the spirit soul. It is eternal service to the one who eternally lives to be served. It is devotion to the one person who can accept an endless amount of devotion from an endless amount of people and reciprocate with each appropriately.

These definitions give a broad overview, but they don’t provide much details into what life will initially be like for one who takes up devotion.

“If I take up bhakti-yoga, will I become rich? Will I have a lot of money? I know that others worship to get these things. If not for the present life, they hope that in the future, after death, they will not be in circumstances of poverty. Some of them ask for this directly from a deity of choice.”

“If I take up bhakti-yoga, will I have good health? I hate it when I get indigestion after eating. Sometimes it feels like my stomach is going to explode, even though I didn’t eat so much. The health experts say to eat a lot of fiber, but when I eat things like oatmeal, I end up in worse shape. I want it so that my health will always be tip-top. I know that others pray for this right now.”

[oatmeal]“If I take up bhakti-yoga, will I get to enjoy with an attractive significant other? Every movie I see has this goal as the foundation. Once the two parties meet, everything is good. I know that in specific traditions you can worship someone to get a good spouse. This world is so vast and complex that no one has total control over their future. Therefore the wise ones pray to higher authorities to get what they want.”

“If I take up bhakti-yoga, will I find peace? The name ‘yoga’ is there, so does this mean I will be able to meditate in quiet? I know others do this right now. They spend some time each day sitting in a particular pose and breathing in and out in a regulated manner. Others go on retreats so that they can concentrate better.”

From the above referenced verse from the Ramayana, we learn that in bhakti-yoga no specific condition is guaranteed. You may end up going somewhere you have never previously been. You may have to give up all your riches and family ties. You may have to roam through a dangerous place, not knowing where exactly to go.

If this is the case, why would anyone take up bhakti-yoga? Why is it considered the constitutional engagement, standing above even liberation from the cycle of birth and death? How can it be superior to the rewards mentioned above?

In bhakti-yoga the pure love itself is the only thing sought and needed. Life in a temporary world is just that: temporary. If you’re stuck in a place that has lots of mosquitos and spotty electricity, it’s not so comfortable. Eventually, though, the misery will fade. You’ll find better circumstances. Then those circumstances will change as well.

Whether the good or bad remains for a long or short time doesn’t matter much in the end. According to the Bhagavad-gita, the true understanding of day and night is through the reference point of Lord Brahma. His day consists of one thousand cycles of the four yugas, or ages, of creation. His night is the same duration. So Brahma’s one day is billions of years. In that time, there can be good and bad, but they both will be impermanent.

sahasra-yuga-paryantam
ahar yad brahmaṇo viduḥ
rātriṁ yuga-sahasrāntāṁ
te ‘ho-rātra-vido janāḥ

“By human calculation, a thousand ages taken together is the duration of Brahma’s one day. And such also is the duration of his night.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 8.17)

[Lakshmana]If you have service to the Supreme Lord, you can not only survive in any situation, but thrive in it as well. Here Sita tells of how she and Lakshmana followed Rama to the forest, which appeared dense. None of them had gone to this area before. They were to spend fourteen years there, as per the order of King Dasharatha.

They were not afraid to go due to the faith they had in Rama. He is the Supreme Lord, the object of service in bhakti-yoga. He appears and disappears from this earth whenever He chooses. His appearances offer the opportunity for service to so many. They also give tangible examples of how devotional service works.

Sita is Rama’s wife. Lakshmana is His younger brother. The two lived through both splendor and squalor. They were in the opulent kingdom of Ayodhya and then suddenly in the dense forest. The difference is stark according to our understanding, but we can use drastic differences from our own lives to understand the concept.

[Shri Hanuman]Things always change, but in bhakti-yoga the constant is service to God, who is all-attractive. In devotion, one may find themselves in unknown territories, but with the same faith that Sita and Lakshmana had everything will turn out successful in the end. Shri Hanuman also serves Rama, and he ended up going to a completely new territory that was hostile to devotional service. His devotion is so strong that no one could stop his service. The same goes for Sita and Lakshmana and anyone who follows in their footsteps.

In Closing:

In bhakti will I be alone,

And go to places unknown?

 

Will I have peace of mind,

Or great wealth will I find?

 

Sita and Lakshmana the example giving,

One day in kingdom, next in forest living.

 

Both the good and bad time to wash away,

But association of Supreme for devotee to stay.

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A Giant Leap Of Faith

Posted by krishnasmercy on March 17, 2015

[Lakshmana, Rama and Sita]“Highly respecting the order of the one we serve, and firm in our vow, we entered the forest, which we had not seen before and which gave the appearance of being very deep.” (Sita Devi speaking to Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 33.29)

te vayam bhartuḥ ādeśam bahu mānya dṛḍha vratāḥ ||
praviṣṭāḥ sma purāt dṛṣṭam vanam gambhīra darśanam |

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Things aren’t looking good. The snow cover is thick, the night is dark, and the storm is unrelenting. It’s getting more and more difficult to see. Though the lights on your car give some indication of the road ahead, on this night the visibility is severely limited. All you have is the implicit faith you put into the path itself, which you’ve traversed before.

[snow winter road]When you end up reaching the desired destination, you realize that the road travelled was right. Though you couldn’t see far ahead, though the storm was strong, your faith in the authority that was the road paid off. In a similar manner, the faith extended to the highest authority figure yields the desired result. The path may be one you have never seen before, and the prospects for success may appear dim in the beginning. Yet it is the potency of the person being served that gives strength to the faith extended.

The common idea of religion is that there is a higher being from whom you can get things, provided you worship properly. We all want things. Even if you have everything right now, there is the need to maintain. The four traits exhibitive of the animal are eating, sleeping, mating and defending. You have to eat to stay alive. Eating involves a taste, and so what gets consumed should be palatable. What is tasty today may not be tomorrow; so desires tend to change.

Sleeping is as important. Rest is required to keep the body fit. If you’re on a long journey, the main concern is rest. If you’re travelling in an airplane, you wonder how you will sleep. Especially if the seats don’t fold all the way down, to get proper rest will be difficult. That then leads to other problems.

[reclining airline seat]Mating is the ultimate enjoyment in a material existence, and when you have everything the desire is to maintain. For help in these four areas you can approach God.

“O Lord, please give me nice food to eat. Thank you for what you’ve given me already, but I need you to keep it coming. The same goes for health, enjoyment and protection. By your favor, anything can happen.”

This style of religion involves basic prayer. You may have to attend a house of worship or you may have to perform some ritual in the home, but everything is laid out in front of you. In the highest religion, which is the one yielding the best result, the path isn’t always known at the outset. You may not know where you will end up. It is your faith that keeps you going, and since it is in the power of the Supreme Lord to deliver His personal association in all circumstances, the faith is rewarded accordingly.

We can take the example of Sita and Lakshmana to see how this works. They perpetually serve the Supreme Lord in the mood of bhakti-yoga, which is devotional service. They don’t ask for gifts relating to eating, sleeping, mating or defending. They don’t perform rituals so that they’ll be happy materially. They know that God as Rama is the reservoir of pleasure. They know that true happiness only comes through His association, which they’re determined to keep through any means.

[Sita Devi]Sita here explains how one time that faith was tested. Rama was ordered to leave the kingdom of Ayodhya for fourteen years. Imagine not seeing your family for that long. Imagine going to a foreign place and not having any communication with the people you’ve lived with for many years. Material envy can become so strong that it drives a person to deliver this punishment upon an innocent person.

Because of this envy, Rama was asked to leave Ayodhya; but His wife Sita was not. Neither was Rama’s younger brother Lakshmana. Yet they both insisted on accompanying Rama. Sita explains that the place they entered was not familiar to them. In appearance, it looked dense. It was a forest area, so it was truly entering the unknown.

Sita explains why they went. They had faith in the order of the one they serve. This refers to Rama, and by extension His father King Dasharatha. It was Rama’s father who had to hand down the order, driven to the regrettable act by his youngest wife Kaikeyi. Sita and Lakshmana went to that unknown place without fear. They were not expecting anything favorable materially. They were not in search of a treasure chest full of gold. They had faith in Rama, and that was all they needed.

[japa mala]In a similar manner, those who have faith in the guru, who is Rama’s representative on earth, know that following bhakti-yoga will yield everything favorable. Their practice may require following things foreign to them, such as the chanting of the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. They may not know where they will live or if they will have friends and family around. They won’t be entirely sure where exactly they will end up in the afterlife, either.

[Lakshmana]Through faith, they know that wherever they end up their circumstances will be favorable for devotion. This was the case with Lakshmana and Sita, and also for Shri Hanuman. He went to search for Sita many years later, also entering an unknown territory. The strength of bhakti is such that one’s faith is always rewarded accordingly, even if at first glance everything doesn’t look ideal.

In Closing:

The reward for perseverance paying,

When on the righteous path staying.

 

Though at the outset not everything clear,

Devotees treading guru’s path without fear.

 

That Supreme’s association to get,

That favorable wherever feet to set.

 

Like Sita and Lakshmana to the unknown,

Dense forest with Rama then to roam.

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Appreciating The Service Of Others

Posted by krishnasmercy on March 16, 2015

[Lakshmana]“Previous to that in fact, the greatly fortunate Saumitra, who is the delight of his friends, adorned with tree bark for preparing for the journey with his elder brother.” (Sita Devi speaking to Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 33.28)

prāg eva tu mahābhāgaḥ saumitriḥ mitra nandanaḥ ||
pūrvajasya anuyātrā arthe druma cīraiḥ alamkṛtaḥ |

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Bhakti-yoga is unique amongst all varieties of religion and spirituality. It is the lone practice that is free of desire for personal gain. Even wanting something for another person is a kind of personal motive. When the person whose welfare you desire gets the intended benefit, you feel some pride, some sense of accomplishment. Bhakti-yoga is unmotivated and uninterrupted, so it is dependent on neither reciprocation nor the opinion of the recipient.

Outside of bhakti-yoga, the first inclination is to ask for things from God. “O Lord, I’m in a lot of trouble. Can you save me? I have nowhere else to turn.” There is the obvious flaw in this request, wherein it is admitted that approaching God was the last resort. If everyone else failed, why should the highest being bail you out? Why didn’t you go to Him first?

In bhakti-yoga desire is not absent.

“Okay, but how can motivation be lacking when there is desire?”

The nature of the desire changes. Instead of wanting for yourself or someone you know, you want only for the Supreme Lord. He already has everything, so this attitude is difficult to adopt with sincerity. The intelligent will keep in mind the supreme standing of the topmost person. Nevertheless, one who reaches the most mature stage cannot be stopped in their service.

[Sita and Rama]Case in point Sita Devi, the wife of Lord Rama. On earth she plays the role of a wife, but she is eternally the consort of God. This means that only for the sake of our understanding in terms of time do we attach the relationship of marriage to her. For there to be a marriage, there has to be a wedding. A wedding indicates a point in time, at which there is something before and something after. In the earthly realm Sita was not married to Rama before the wedding; otherwise what is the point to the ceremony?

The marriage is simply a display for the people in the earthly realm, a formality to go with the timeline of events immortalized in the Ramayana, the original book coming from Maharishi Valmiki. As God’s eternal consort, Sita is always in devotion. Her love for Rama cannot be stopped. She does not look to gain anything from her show of affection. Whether He agrees or not, she will continue to love.

For an example of how this love is practiced, we can look to the incident of Rama’s exile from the kingdom of Ayodhya. Rama asked Sita to remain at home. As a good wife following the duties prescribed in dharma, Sita should have stayed in the kingdom. What purpose would her leaving serve? At home she could look after Rama’s parents, who in fact were asked to protect and affectionately watch over her.

Sita refused to listen to Rama. She would accompany Him to the forest for fourteen years. Years later she told Shri Hanuman about this, when identifying herself in the Ashoka grove in Lanka. Devotion is unique amongst all versions of religion, but it should be known that even the qualities typically considered pious are never lacking in the devotee. In fact, they come automatically.

We see how this works from the above referenced verse from the Ramayana. Sita here tells Hanuman that Rama’s younger brother Lakshmana was ready to go to the forest even before her. Though she is in pure devotion to God, she does not think herself superior to anyone. She appreciates Lakshmana’s service to Rama more than her own. In the future, she would come to appreciate Hanuman’s service to Rama as the best.

To regularly give credit to others is a good trait. The act is something we appreciate. Even if we know that someone actually did everything on their own, we like it when they try to praise others. In bhakti-yoga the devotee deserves so many accolades, for it takes many births before one even attempts to understand God in full.

manuṣyāṇāṁ sahasreṣu
kaścid yatati siddhaye
yatatām api siddhānāṁ
kaścin māṁ vetti tattvataḥ

“Out of many thousands among men, one may endeavor for perfection, and of those who have achieved perfection, hardly one knows Me in truth.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.3)

[Rama and Lakshmana]The more one advances in bhakti-yoga, the more they appreciate the service of others. Sita did not need to mention that Lakshmana beat her to the punch in following Rama, but she did anyway. Lakshmana too is always giving credit to Rama for things that he has done. Thus one should feel confident in knowing that from practicing devotion no good quality will be absent. Those qualities will arrive easily, for that is inherent in the divine nature.

In Closing:

Let there be reservations none,

All good qualities easily to come.

 

Since bhakti’s path to Rama dear,

On this fact have no fear.

 

At the example of Lakshmana look,

Chance to serve brother in forest took.

 

More than herself Sita this appreciating,

Story to devotee Hanuman relating.

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