Krishna's Mercy

Hare Krishna

Holi 2015

Posted by krishnasmercy on March 5, 2015

[Holi colors]“Then all the men and women of the city happily went to play Holi. Seeing Rama’s face, their hearts were full of happiness and attachment that cannot be measured.” (Gitavali, 310.5)

nagara-nāri-nara hara।sita saba cale khelana phāgu |
dekhi rāma cabi atulita umagata ura anurāga ||

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The Supreme Personality of Godhead is a mine of politeness. He is not just a little bit kind or a little bit nice. He truly wishes for the happiness of every single creature, large or small, young or old. He is intimately tied to them forever, as they are His eternal fragmental parts. They are struggling with the six senses in the material existence due to conditioned life. When they are fortunate enough to take to bhakti-yoga, which is service to Him joyfully performed, they no longer struggle. Every moment in that engagement calls for festivities, and the delineated holidays bring even more happiness. The celebration of Holi in the kingdom of Shri Rama is one such example.

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)

What is material life? Why is it a struggle? What is the purpose to an existence in it? Among those who are religiously inclined, there are two common outlooks on how life should be lived. The first says that God demands penance from the population that is full of sinners. Each person has sinned for too long, and so they need to repent for what they have done. They have forgotten the Supreme Lord and so they should forgo all enjoyments that keep them forgetful of Him.

Vedic philosophy concurs with these sentiments. The living entity is a spirit soul at the core. They are eternally linked to the supreme spirit in a relationship described as achintya-bheda-bheda-tattva. This is simultaneous oneness and difference. God is spirit and so is the individual. Both are the same qualitatively, but quantitatively there is a large gap. This combined difference and equality is inconceivable; the mind cannot fully grasp it.

The material existence is where the eternally linked individual souls separate from God. Total separation is not there; only in consciousness. The material elements are the inferior, external energy of God. The individual souls mistakenly identify with the material elements instead of spirit. Therefore they struggle. Human life is meant for tapasya, or austerity, specifically to regain the original consciousness, the understanding of one’s true identity.

[nature]The second outlook says that life is meant to be enjoyed. God created everything, after all. The hills, the mountains, the flowers, the plants, the trees, the air, the water – all these things are for man to use. What is the harm in having fun? If the Supreme Lord is really the best person, He must be the kindest. He must be compassionate upon the fallen. He must desire for them to be happy.

Vedic philosophy concurs with these sentiments too. The Supreme Lord is said to be all-attractive. Therefore the best name to describe Him is Krishna. The same Krishna is also Rama, the reservoir of transcendental pleasure. The Supreme Lord always enjoys, no matter where He is. Integral to that enjoyment is the association of devoted men and women. Animals, trees and insects also live in His spiritual land. Wherever the individual finds themselves, the Supreme Lord wishes for them to be happy in service to Him.

It is this service that plays the determining factor. The idea is to always live in consciousness of God. This reconciles the conflict in the two outlooks. Enjoy life to the fullest, but don’t forget Him. Of course this is difficult to do. The path seems almost contradictory. If I enjoy with friends and family, how can I remember God? Won’t I view Him as an order supplier instead of the person with whom I am meant to enjoy?

[Lord Rama]The ideal example comes to us from the scene referenced above. Here Shri Krishna has descended to earth in His incarnation of Rama. While Krishna enjoys all the time, Rama sometimes has to lay down laws for the people to follow. He accepts the role of a warrior prince, so His day is not full of fun and games. He Himself is always in bliss, but externally through occupation He displays seriousness from time to time.

Here He is ruling over the kingdom of Ayodhya. The citizens are so happy to be governed by Him. Ayodhya at this time is truly the kingdom of God. In that kingdom there are celebrations of all sorts. Holi, the festival of colors, gets celebrated in a way we can’t fathom, with nothing held back. Holi is an ancient holiday whose origin is with devotion to God. Once a five-year old son of a king refused to give up his devotion to Krishna. The boy’s father wanted this devotion to go away, to the point that he could no longer tolerate it in his son. The king then tried to kill his son in so many ways, including placing him in a fire. The boy’s devotion defeated the father’s antagonism every time. In the incident with the fire, it was the king’s sister Holika who died. The boy Prahlada survived, and the ashes of Holika that remained have since become the iconic symbol of the holiday known as Holi.

[Radha and Krishna playing Holi]Holi thus marks the victory of strong devotion over obstinate non-devotion. Colors are thrown about, with no person spared. The festival is meant to be in good fun, and from the example in Ayodhya we see that it is meant to be performed in full consciousness of God. Here the people got the direct sanction from Rama to start the festivities. They went to play Holi very happily. Holi is also known as Phagu, since it occurs in the month of Phalguna at the time of the full moon, Purnima.

[Lord Rama]While they played, they kept Rama’s face in mind. Goswami Tulsidas says that their attachment to Rama was so strong that it could not be measured. The people had so much love in their hearts. And of course such enjoyment of the people brought so much joy to the Supreme Lord also. In bhakti-yoga we find the true meaning to living, transcending location, physical designations and language. The people of Ayodhya show that any place can be made into the real heaven, as long as the Supreme Lord remains at the center.

In Closing:

As sinners repentant to be,

Or our enjoyment God should see?

 

Agreeing with both the Vedic conclusion,

Enjoy but with God in mind, no confusion.

 

Like into Holi’s festival to enter,

Ayodhya’s people keeping Rama at the center.

 

Though playing attachment only to grow,

Through bhakti any land becoming heaven you know.

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Gaura Purnima 2015

Posted by krishnasmercy on March 4, 2015

[Lord Chaitanya birth]“I offer my respectful obeisances unto the full-moon evening in the month of Phalguna, an auspicious time full of auspicious symptoms, when Lord Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu advented Himself with the chanting of the holy name, Hare Krishna.” (Chaitanya Charitamrita, Adi 13.19)

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sarva-sad-guṇa-pūrṇāṁ tāṁ

vande phālguna-pūrṇimām

yasyāṁ śrī-kṛṣṇa-caitanyo

‘vatīrṇaḥ kṛṣṇa-nāmabhiḥ

To anyone who has ever sang the maha-mantra with attention, faith and love, the occasion of Gaura Purnima is very special. It marks the anniversary of when Gauranga Mahaprabhu descended to this world. He singlehandedly altered the landscape of the present age by introducing a time-honored tradition to the world in a new way, a way that would bring the people together at a time when they were finding any way possible to remain divided. That way addressed the true nature of the individual and the common bond they share with all other individuals.

In the Bhagavad-gita we learn that a wise soul applies an equal vision to the different species. From recent history we know that man has the tendency to discriminate. Wars have taken place simply over differences in race. Nations have sailed to other lands, found the people to be different, and then decided to make slaves out of them. The flawed notion is that the difference, which is only at the bodily level, makes the people themselves either superior or inferior.

vidyā-vinaya-sampanne

brāhmaṇe gavi hastini

śuni caiva śva-pāke ca

paṇḍitāḥ sama-darśinaḥ

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

[the vision of the humble sage]With this history in mind, it is not surprising that in formal education the idea of equality is presented. The Bhagavad-gita completes the idea by extending the vision of equality to all species. The humble sage, using his true knowledge, understands that the cow, the dog, the dog-eater, the elephant and the wise priest are all the same constitutionally. They are spirit soul at the core, which means that at the level which matters most, there is equality.

If a wise human being can have this vision, then most certainly it already belongs to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. There is something even more important that links all the souls: their relationship to God. The Supreme, who is spirit also but of a higher quantitative potency, resides within each heart as the Supersoul. So not only is every living thing a spirit soul, but they also have the origin of all living things within them.

The present age of Kali features quarrel and hypocrisy. Though we all have the two previously mentioned features in common, we find any which way to make differences. Our focus is only on svartha, or personal interest, and not paramartha, or supreme interest. Svartha changes as the body changes, and since the individual bodies are different and in changing circumstances, svartha is never fixed. With different desires, there are bound to be clashes; hence the division.

[Lord Chaitanya]Paramartha is the same for everyone. That supreme interest derives from the relationship between individual spirit and supreme spirit. How do we describe that relationship? Lord Chaitanya, the bright moon to dissipate the darkness of Kali’s age, descends to teach us. He presents the philosophy of achintya-bheda-bheda. This truth says that the living individual spirit is simultaneously one with and different from the Supreme Spirit. This combination is impossible to grasp fully; it is inconceivable.

If it’s achintya, then how are people going to learn? We have evidence right now of one way to acquire something similar to the vision of equality without consulting philosophy. We can take the example of the famous musician or band. They are known for the music they play. Their songs touch the hearts of so many that there is interest across the world to have them perform live. Thus the famous recording artist or band embarks on world tours, playing to sold out arenas in every major city.

The members of the band may have prejudices going in. They may be victims of the tendency to divide based on clashing self-interests. They may even have disagreements within the band, looking at their fellow mates as colleagues instead of friends. Through touring the world, however, they accidentally stumble upon the fact that people share something in common. Regardless of language, age or ethnicity, the fans seem to like the songs that the band plays. They offer praises, kind words, and even gifts. How are the band members to maintain their prejudices then? If they have yet to get rid of them, they still have to think twice before speaking up, for they know that their fans are not limited to only one group of people.

The philosophy of simultaneous oneness and difference can similarly be spread through music. Lord Chaitanya was famous for His ability to chant and dance. He only had one set of lyrics, though. There was only one song He would sing, to different melodies and tunes. That song was the maha-mantra: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

[maha-mantra]On the outside this mantra seems different from God. For starters, it is simply a set of words. It has no physical form. It can only be heard. Even when read, the final result is hearing. Words are nothing more than markers to help create sounds. Yet these words are non-different from God. The person hearing them does not have to know these things right away. They don’t have to know that Krishna means “all-attractive” or that Rama means “the reservoir of all transcendental pleasure.” They don’t need to know that they are meeting their paramartha by chanting these names. Simply hearing will be sufficient.

There is every risk involved in teaching others about the science of self-realization. The important topic of worshiping the Supreme Lord should be benign, but it brings great opposition. There are so many divisions already, and if the recipient develops a flawed understanding they could end up offending God and His devotees. Why take the risk, then?

[Lord Chaitanya sankirtana]Lord Chaitanya saw the dreadful condition of the people of the age of Kali. He wanted to unite them, regardless of what divisions they had already created. He found the perfect way in the sankirtana movement, the congregational chanting of the holy names. While people have been singing the glories of God for centuries, it was never done in such an assertive and open way. Lord Chaitanya went to the people instead of the people coming to Him. His spiritual descendants follow the same example, for they know that everyone is intimately linked to God and that they will find true happiness only through connecting with Him. On the occasion of Gaura Purnima we remember and honor the beautiful son of mother Shachi, who worked to bring the people of the world together, to unite them in the peace that is bhakti-yoga.

In Closing:

On this day Gaura Purnima to fall,

Remember the golden savior of all.

 

Who to Supreme Lord the same,

To teach bhakti philosophy came.

 

To the people He fearlessly went,

Sounds of holy names to them sent.

 

From this highest awareness coming,

In harmony of bhakti age golden becoming.

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Where To Beg

Posted by krishnasmercy on March 3, 2015

[Sita and Rama]“Both personal interest and supreme interest are met by Sita and Rama. Why then, O Tulsi, do you approach the doors of others to have your desires met?” (Dohavali, 53)

svāratha sītā rāma so paramāratha siya rāma |
tulasī tero dusare dvāra kahā kahu kāma ||

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As Shakespeare says that all the world’s a stage, we can say that everyone on that stage is a beggar of some kind. Hardly anyone thinks this way, but from a quick study there can be no doubt into the fact. From the state of infancy alone we know that the human being can’t survive without asking for things from a higher power. As the journey through life continues the areas where begging takes place change, but the helpless condition of the living entity does not. Knowing the eternal nature of the soul, Goswami Tulsidas says there is only one place a person should go to have their desires of this world and the next met.

We commonly identify beggars as those who roam the streets looking for handouts. They may even make signs saying that they need food or some other help. Perhaps they wait at a streetlight where cars will line up. Maybe they are in the train stations where there is a lot of foot traffic. The economic conditions of the area determine how many beggars there will be, but one thing is for certain: no one prefers to be in the situation where they have to ask others for help.

[shareholder meeting]But indeed everyone does this; even the CEO of the richest company in the world. These leaders are not free to speak their mind. If they say something offensive in an interview, they have to make a statement later on apologizing. They often don’t mean what they say, but in order to continue to earn profits, they must submit to the will of the people. They also must hold their tongue at shareholder meetings and when travelling anywhere in public. They are at the mercy of those who control their financial situation.

In industrialized nations, the begging takes place in a more dignified way. Instead of going door to door to ask for money, the destitute person gets an electronic card that they can sign up for on the internet. They get a separate card to pay for food. They likely have a mobile telephone, an air conditioner, an automobile, and their own home. Though they don’t consider themselves to be a beggar, they live at the mercy of the taxpayer.

To be compelled to beg this way is only natural, as the individual has very little power when under the grip of the formidable material nature. In the Bhagavad-gita, Shri Krishna says that all living entities are His fragmental parts. Not the kind of fragment where the whole gets broken apart- these fragments come off of Krishna, who is God, but the Supreme Lord remains the same. He is the complete whole always. The living entities are described as fragments to help us understand their minute nature. They are actually expansions emanating from the storehouse of spirit that is Krishna.

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, Bhagavad-gita, 15.7)

[tree with fruits]These fragments are struggling very hard living under the material nature. What gives them trouble are the six senses, which include the mind. A person who struggles is always battling something. A person who is fighting a higher force needs help to survive. Even the most peaceful person in the world, who has no attachments, has to ask for help to remain alive. If they take fruits that fall off a tree, they essentially beg from that tree. If they drink water from a river, they are at the mercy of that river. If they live in a cave, they take shelter from the material nature and its ability to make such secluded areas.

There is the present world from which we must beg, but there is also the future to consider. This is the destination of the soul after death. Goswami Tulsidas says that Sita and Rama meet both interests. Svartha consists of the things that we see right now and paramartha is that which we can’t see. Paramartha is important since through intelligence we know that there will be another existence. Everyone born right now had to be somewhere else before. In that previous destination there was svartha, and what they desire now was previously their paramartha.

Sita and Rama are the same Radha and Krishna. They are just different manifestations of the Supreme Lord’s energy and the Supreme Lord Himself. Tulsidas says that there is no reason to beg from the doors of others to have desires met. He mentions approaching doors because he himself did this on a regular basis. In adult life his occupation was sannyasi, which is sort of like a homeless spiritual traveler. The rules of that institution state that a person cannot earn a living. They must beg for their necessities.

[Goswami Tulsidas]If they are bona fide in that position, they actually aren’t begging. By travelling from door to door and asking for little things to eat, they are giving the chance for service to fortunate people in householder life. The proprietors of these homes get the chance to associate with a saint, who gives the same advice: approach Sita and Rama to have your interests met.

Here svartha and paramartha are linked. In fact, they are identical in the higher scheme. What will worldly interest do for me if in the future I am condemned? What is some food today going to do if tomorrow I will have to die and go somewhere else? The individual is a spirit soul at the core and God is the supreme spirit. Begging from Him directly takes care of all needs.

“Does this mean that if I am hungry I should pray to God? Didn’t the communists use this experiment as a way to disprove religion, to show that God doesn’t exist?”

[Sita and Rama]The meaning is to first approach the Supreme Lord and His energy expansion. Sita Devi is the goddess of fortune. She provides whatever is needed to execute devotional service, which pleases her husband. The wise soul does not abandon their other duties, mistakenly putting the burden on God to do everything. The meaning here is to realize that no ordinary person can fulfill the real interests of the living entity. Everyone is dependent on the Supreme Lord, so to approach Him first is the right move. One should approach Him directly instead of going to one of His subordinates, who are gods in their own right. Worshiping the deputy gods who manage the material creation is begging at someone’s door, and it does not meet both personal and supreme interest. Sita and Rama are the life and soul of Goswami Tulsidas, and therefore his lone interest, to serve them, is forever met.

In Closing:

Since not in destitution to sink,

Living as beggar you don’t think.

 

But know that someone you must approach,

To have needs met, for surviving your only hope.

 

Like this all to beg in some way,

Go to God, Goswami Tulsidas to say.

 

Worldly and supreme desires thus met,

Facility for devotional life from Sita Devi get.

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Why People Fight

Posted by krishnasmercy on March 2, 2015

[Rama's lotus feet]“When plant life is green, there is grazing. When it becomes old, it turns into fuel for fire. When it grows and bears fruits, people grab at it with an open hand. Tulsi says that all are friends only when a personal interest is met, but Shri Rama meets the supreme interest.” (Dohavali, 52)

hare carahiṃ tāpahiṃ bare phareṃ pasārahiṃ hātha |
tulasī svāratha mīta saba paramāratha raghunātha ||

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Why do we see so much conflict? Why can’t people get along? What would drive a person to do despicable things? Why can’t couples stay together? In a short couplet describing the difference between svartha and paramartha, Goswami Tulsidas gives the answer. Svartha is always changing, and the relationships it makes are based on exploitation. Even with that attitude, everything can be made right, as paramartha is there for the taking through the association of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

Self-interest – people act for this. We can get angry that a person buys so many expensive things after succeeding in a business venture, but if we were in their situation we’d likely behave the same way. After all, who goes into an endeavor hoping to fail? Even someone who works for a non-profit looks for a return on their work. That return gets categorized differently according to the tax code, but the self-interest is met nonetheless.

Self-interest corresponds to desire, and we know that desires change. Also, we know that when something is undesirable, we try to avoid it. This behavior is a kind of exploitation, though since everyone does it we don’t really look at it that way.

[green grass]Tulsidas gives some examples of how this works. The grass gets eaten when it is green. When the grass dries out and dies, it gets used for fuel. Extending the concept to all plant life, when there are fruits people approach with an open hand.

From these exchanges relationships form, which can be easily mistaken for friendship. The bond is only through self-interest. Once that is gone, the friendship is no more. Think of the professional athlete. When he is performing well, fans purchase the jersey with his number on it. They praise him and watch every one of his games. As soon as he loses abilities, he ceases being desirable. Likely the team doesn’t even keep him. The link with the fans gradually fades also.

The Supreme Lord meets the supreme interest, paramartha. This is what is good for us in the end. The end doesn’t have to mean the next life. It is the core of the issue, what remains after we are done jumping from friendship to friendship based on svartha. Paramartha is what will be ultimately beneficial to us.

Only God meets the supreme interest. This fact clears up so many misconceptions. The Supreme Lord is not for meeting svartha, as we understand it. That toy we wanted as a kid – we didn’t need to pray to God for it. When we want good health, fortune, or top performance on an exam, it is not the Supreme Lord’s place to deliver. He surely can, as He creates this and every other universe effortlessly. He can grant anything in a second, but trivial things relating to the temporary body are handled by the inferior material nature and the personalities managing it, who are gods in their own right.

The Supreme Lord is there to give eternal bliss to the soul. His personal presence is the best gift anyone can ask for. We are never devoid of that presence, only consciousness of it. He rests within us as the Supersoul, but the personal form with features distinguishable to the conditioned eye is a better gift. Rama is one such personal form, and He comes to anyone who wants His association. Even if we can’t see Him and think that He is far away, He arrives through the sound of His name. This is why the wise souls always chant His names, such as those found in the maha-mantra: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

Are we not exploiting God in this way? Are we not only making a friendship with Him to meet our supreme interest?

[Rama's lotus feet]Even if the attitude is there in the beginning, there is nowhere to go beyond supreme interest. It is not as if God meets our interest now and then later on that interest should change. Through His association, the consciousness transforms for the better. The desires in the individual start to transform to the point that they only want to do more and more to serve and please the personal God. They realize that everyone has the same supreme interest, and so they try to share the association of the Divine with others. They know that this is the best service to man.

In Closing:

Nation against nation and husband with wife,

Why the discord, why do people fight?

 

Svartha, from self-interest this comes,

Always changing, of steadiness none.

 

For supreme interest to personal God go,

Gradually the oneness of paramartha know.

 

Then to others this precious gift giving,

So that everyone in perfect harmony living.

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Everybody Hates Everybody

Posted by krishnasmercy on March 1, 2015

[Rama's lotus feet]“When plant life is green, there is grazing. When it becomes old, it turns into fuel for fire. When it grows and bears fruits, people grab at it with an open hand. Tulsi says that all are friends only when a personal interest is met, but Shri Rama meets the supreme interest.” (Dohavali, 52)

hare carahiṃ tāpahiṃ bare phareṃ pasārahiṃ hātha |
tulasī svāratha mīta saba paramāratha raghunātha ||

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“I’ve reached a conclusion about the people of this world. Besides eventual death, there is one thing they share in common. Everybody hates everybody. It seems silly to say, but I really have no doubt anymore. Every person I meet, I feel shy to mention any other person in front of them. If I say that I like this person on the radio, they will tell me how much they hate him. If I tell them about time spent with family members, they will bring up so many bad moments from the past.

“I’m at the point where I don’t even bother anymore. We’re not just talking children here. We don’t expect a child to have so much intelligence. They are in the process of learning etiquette anyway. I’m including adults in this declaration, spanning all the way up to grandparents. It’s just the sad state of this world. No one gets along. They sometimes fake it, but deep down they have issues. It makes me think that I don’t belong here. What could be causing this?  Why so much hate?”

[anger]There are two corresponding Sanskrit terms noteworthy for this discussion: svartha and paramartha. Artha is an interest. It can also translate to “economic development.” That which is profitable in one degree or another is artha. Since rules and guidelines help me to be successful in something, they too can be defined as artha. That which goes against the desired objective becomes “anartha.”

The “sva” prefix means self. So svartha is the interest of the self, i.e. personal interest. Right away we see that svartha cannot be uniform. This is because people find themselves in all sorts of situations. One person is running an established company that sells footwear. Another person decides to open up their own store since they have interest in the same field. The svarthas thus clash. The individuals both hope for the success of their respective stores. They don’t want their competitor to succeed. Therefore meeting one person’s self-interest automatically means making the other person unprofitable.

If the stores merged, the svarthas combine into one. But there are so many living entities to consider, each one going through different stages of life. Svartha is always there, which means that the combination of things that help in profit and things that don’t will also always exist. That which helps in meeting the self-interest becomes liked. This is the actual basis for friendship, though we rarely think of it in these terms.

[hay burning]Goswami Tulsidas gives examples to show how this works. In the above referenced verse from the Dohavali, he mentions plant life. When it is green, there is grazing. When it produces fruits, people approach it with an open hand. When it dries up, it gets burned; used as fuel. Tulsidas says that all friends act like this. As long as there is some personal interest being met, there is friendship.

We can take other examples to see the same concept. The cow that grazes on the green pastures is friendly for as long as it produces milk. When it is done loving its children, the only use seen to fulfill self-interest is death. The death of the cow brings beef, which is to be eaten.

The parents help us during our youth. They provide for us. They give us protection. We constantly ask them for things. When we become adults, from time to time we invite them over to take care of our children. This allows us to get a break, a chance to leave the house occasionally. When the parents become too old to take care of themselves, when they cease serving our self-interest, we send them to a nursing home.

Svartha is based on the body, which is temporary. This means that as the body keeps changing, so do our likes. This guarantees the situation of disliking so many people. As my interests are bound to change, the people I consider to be friends will as well. The people who formerly helped me are no longer of use to me, so why should I consider them to be friends? If they are obstacles in my path, why wouldn’t I dislike them?

Tulsidas mentions this truth about friendship for a reason. Paramartha is more important. The “param” prefix means supreme. Unlike svartha, paramartha is the same for everyone. It is what is best for the soul, which is the essence of identity. Tulsidas says that Shri Rama, the lord of the Raghu dynasty, meets the paramartha of everyone. Whether I am an insect, a dog, a child or an adult, my paramartha does not change.

That singular supreme interest is the association of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He is always my well-wishing friend. He does not hate anyone. He has no interest to be met, so there is no concept of friend or enemy to Him. Every living thing is His child, so there is only love from Him always. He loves so much that He does not interfere with free will. He does not force anyone to seek His association or maintain it.

samo ‘haṁ sarva-bhūteṣu

na me dveṣyo ‘sti na priyaḥ

ye bhajanti tu māṁ bhaktyā

mayi te teṣu cāpy aham

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

[Lord Rama]The wise souls who follow devotion to Him inherit a similar disposition. They rise above the duality of friendship and hatred. They see all individuals as spirit souls whose supreme interest is identical. They understand that even svartha can be met with God’s association. In both the short and long terms, devotion to God pays off. It brings happiness, which is what the soul seeks. Bliss is the natural disposition of the living entity, and supreme bliss is found in devotion to God the person.

In Closing:

Concluded that everyone for everyone has hate,

Regret to say, but this the world’s current state.

 

Why has this come to be,

Why as friend or enemy to see?

 

Svartha the short-term interest of mine,

Always to change, thus enemies to find.

 

Paramartha for all time and people the same,

Met by God, having personal form and name.

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Who Is Really A Friend

Posted by krishnasmercy on February 28, 2015

[Rama's lotus feet]“When plant life is green, there is grazing. When it becomes old, it turns into fuel for fire. When it grows and bears fruits, people grab at it with an open hand. Tulsi says that all are friends only when a personal interest is met, but Shri Rama meets the supreme interest.” (Dohavali, 52)

hare carahiṃ tāpahiṃ bare phareṃ pasārahiṃ hātha |
tulasī svāratha mīta saba paramāratha raghunātha ||

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At first glance bhakti-yoga looks like any other religion. It has its object of worship, namely the Supreme Personality of Godhead. It has its rules and regulations. It has its book of choice. There is also the desperate call to action:

“Be devoted to God in thought, word and deed; lest your precious human life go to waste.”

Despite these similarities, bhakti-yoga is unique in so many areas, especially in philosophy. Here Goswami Tulsidas gives an interesting take on friendship, a viewpoint shared by all authorities in the line.

“This person is my friend.” Who hasn’t said this before? There is the similar set of statements: “Oh, I have a friend who works in such and such industry. They can help you out.” The latter gives some more clarity into the meaning of friendship. A friend is someone whose association we prefer, but the sentiment is only the result. The initial action is that the friend does something to meet our personal interest.

But is that a valid basis for assessment? I love my parents. Without them, I would be nothing. When I graduated from high school, I was so happy to see them in the crowd, sitting with the other parents. But those other parents are special too. Maybe not specifically to me, but to someone, and that someone is a human being struggling through the same material existence I am currently living in. Therefore why should only my parents be special?

śrī-prahrāda uvāca

paraḥ svaś cety asad-grāhaḥ

puṁsāṁ yan-māyayā kṛtaḥ

vimohita-dhiyāṁ dṛṣṭas

tasmai bhagavate namaḥ

“Prahlada Maharaja replied: Let me offer my respectful obeisances unto the Supreme Personality of Godhead, whose external energy has created the distinctions of ‘my friend’ and ‘my enemy’ by deluding the intelligence of men. Indeed, I am now actually experiencing this, although I have previously heard of it from authoritative sources.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 7.5.11)

[Prahlada Maharaja]Why should some people be my friends and others not? Surely others are not always good to me. Some are mean. Some are cheaters. Some are thieves. Some wouldn’t help me out even if their lives depended on it. Does this mean that they are different constitutionally? Also, what happens if my friend suddenly stops meeting my interests? Are they no longer my friend? Shouldn’t there be gratitude for what they’ve done for me?

In the material consciousness, there is only exploitation. The material consciousness is rooted in ignorance, in the fact that my body identifies me:

“Beyond this life there is nothing. If there happens to be something, I have no idea what it is. Therefore let me enjoy as much as possible right now. I will surround myself with those who meet my interests, which are always changing. As my body changes, my desires follow suit. For those new desires, I will look for new friends.”

In Sanskrit self-interest is known as svartha. There is a higher interest, though. It is known as paramartha. Here Goswami Tulsidas says that paramartha is only met by God. Svartha constantly changes and is rooted in exploitation. He gives nice examples to show how this works.

When the grass is green, animals graze on it. The grass can’t do anything here. It is simply going through its life cycle. When it is mature, it is ripe to be eaten by animals. When the same grass dries up and becomes old, it is used as fuel for fire. When plant life bears fruits, people pick at it with an open hand. As long as there is some interest being served by the plant life, there are friends willing to provide protection and attention.

[picking apples]The same situation is there in the office where employees meet. As long as each person serves an interest in the company’s turning a profit, people will congregate. There will be a salary paid. As soon as the employee ceases to meet the interests of the establishment, the relationship breaks.

These are the ways of the world, and nothing can be done to alter them. The wise person realizes that supreme interest is more important. This is only met by Shri Rama, who is the Supreme Lord in an incarnation form. The supreme interest comes in the afterlife. The afterlife is merely the future, so supreme interest is giving something that will arrive at some point that will become the present. So it is more accurate to say that paramartha is a higher interest, that which is beyond the material body.

Rama will never leave you. He will remember even a simple act of kindness done for Him. When you are old and cease to be useful to anyone, where not a friend is in sight, Rama will still look at you as special. He will bring you to a situation where your devotion to Him can continue to flourish. He does not look to exploit you, since He does not need anything. He does not have His hand out, waiting for you to give Him something. He gladly accepts any offering made, for sure, but this does not mean that He insists on worship.

patraṁ puṣpaṁ phalaṁ toyaṁ

yo me bhaktyā prayacchati

tad ahaṁ bhakty-upahṛtam

aśnāmi prayatātmanaḥ

“If one offers Me with love and devotion a leaf, a flower, fruit, or water, I will accept it.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.26)

[Rama's lotus feet]Rama is so kind that He allows worship of Him through His other forms also, including the original of Shri Krishna. He is beyond the distinctions between matter and spirit; He is the real thing. Devotion to Him is the actual meaning to living, and it turns the person practicing it into a genuine friend to all. That person always has something to offer, so even those focused only on svartha are benefitted.

In Closing:

A person as a friend to see,

When meeting an interest for me.

 

Like grazing on the field when it’s green,

And for picking crops open hands seen.

 

But is this how worthiness should be made,

Do not all through material ocean wade?

 

At His interest, Shri Rama not to care,

Real friend to all, of your supreme interest aware.

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A Taste To Match Intelligence

Posted by krishnasmercy on February 27, 2015

[Rama's lotus feet]“O mind, everything of this world is tasteless and in Rama there is full sweetness. Tulsi gives this advice to you day and night.” (Dohavali, 51)

re mana saba soṃ nirasa hai sarasa rāma soṃ hohi |
bhalo sikhāvana deta hai nisi dina tulasī tohi ||

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In the Shrimad Bhagavatam, Prahlada Maharaja likens a material existence to chewing things that have already been chewed. The taste is there in the first chewing, and then after that there is nothing left. The juice is gone, but in ignorance the conditioned soul tries again to extract the same taste. In fact, the experience wasn’t that great the first time around, but without knowledge of anything better, what is a person left to do? There is actually a higher taste, and Goswami Tulsidas says it comes in the form of the association of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

Tulsidas confirms the sentiment of Prahlada Maharaja. Any person who has found the peerless occupation that is devotional service feels the same way. They experienced the life devoid of devotion already. That was their previous life. They tried different aspects of bhukti, mukti and siddhi, which are enjoyment, renunciation and mystic perfection respectively. They rightfully concluded that these things were lacking in taste. It was the same old thing, just done on different days.

śrī-prahrāda uvāca

matir na kṛṣṇe parataḥ svato vā

mitho ’bhipadyeta gṛha-vratānām

adānta-gobhir viśatāṁ tamisraṁ

punaḥ punaś carvita-carvaṇānām

“Prahlada Maharaja replied: Because of their uncontrolled senses, persons too addicted to materialistic life make progress toward hellish conditions and repeatedly chew that which has already been chewed. Their inclinations toward Krishna are never aroused, either by the instructions of others, by their own efforts, or by a combination of both.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 7.5.30)

[Prahlada Maharaja]The nature of the playing field is the cause of the lack of taste. In an existence exclusively devoted to material sense gratification, there isn’t enough that can be done to find full satisfaction. We can think of it like the response to regularly taking a specific drug. After enough time, the effectiveness diminishes. The stimulation from a cup of coffee is strong for a person drinking it for the first time. Yet another person can drink the same cup and not feel much, as they are accustomed to consuming caffeine on a regular basis.

The senses become desensitized to more and more sense gratification. Renunciation is then the typical response, but that doesn’t bring lasting happiness either. If the car alarm outside stopped blaring, that would make you happy for a little bit. But then you need something to do after that. After a while, you won’t even remember that the alarm was a problem. Renunciation is not complete happiness; it is simply an aversion to things that have become tasteless.

“But what if someone doesn’t feel this way yet? Yes, the wise person understands that spirit is the essence of all living things. Spirit is what lasts beyond the temporary matter. But why spoil the fun for everyone? Aren’t they better off not knowing about the spiritual nature? If they are happy in sense gratification, just leave them alone. It seems like the more knowledgeable you become, the more you find things in life to be tasteless.”

[Sesame Street]These are sound objections, as what purpose is served by giving people a jaded outlook on life? The idea is that with intelligence comes a higher taste. We know that certain television programming appeals to children. We know that children prefer to play with toys. We also know that one day they will grow out of the phase. As adults they will find something else appealing. And just because the children are happy it doesn’t mean that their activities are more important than what adults do to find happiness.

In the same way, the spiritual activities of service to the Divine are more important and bring a higher taste. If someone is in ignorance, it doesn’t mean that their preferred activities somehow become more worthwhile than that which is done by people with intelligence.

Goswami Tulsidas and Prahlada Maharaja don’t aim to ruin anyone’s fun. As wise souls, they see into the future. They know that eventually everyone will wise up, that they will see that the temporary is not worth dying over. The temporary objects and temporary relationships will eventually leave the individual back in the same position. It is like going around in a circle, which isn’t a wise utilization of time.

Devotional service is worthwhile even for the less intelligent, since it accurately predicts the future mindset. The parents know that the child will appreciate their education when they are older. They may not know what is good for them now, but eventually they will realize it. Similarly, the knowledge that the higher taste is in devotion to the Supreme Lord is always worth having.

[Rama's lotus feet]Better still if the individual acts upon the wise counsel after receiving it. Tulsidas gives this advice to the mind on a daily basis, as it is difficult to remember. We somehow think that one more spin of the wheel of material existence will yield a different result, when it actually won’t. Rama is the deity of choice for Tulsidas, but Rama is the same Vishnu worshiped by Prahlada Maharaja. Rama is the same Krishna who delivers spotless words of advice to the warrior Arjuna. Rama is the detail behind the abstract image of God.

God the person can be served, which is what bhakti-yoga facilitates. Service to Rama is with taste, or sarasa. He is the core of this universe, the vital force of everything. He is the life of the living, and so it would make sense that He is the taste of all tastes. That which is tasteless is His external energy, and so the wise avoid it. They know this fact in their minds and they kindly try to instill the same lesson to others.

In Closing:

Children with toys playing and on candy feeding,

Adults to office going and latest books reading.

 

Though youths happiness finding in this way,

That superior their path no wise person to say.

 

So knowledge of this world take without fear,

Tasteless material existence, everything to us dear.

 

The Supreme Lord and service to Him accept,

And the highest taste for your intelligence expect.

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Like A Movie That’s Already Over

Posted by krishnasmercy on February 26, 2015

[Rama's lotus feet]“O mind, everything of this world is tasteless and in Rama there is full sweetness. Tulsi gives this advice to you day and night.” (Dohavali, 51)

re mana saba soṃ nirasa hai sarasa rāma soṃ hohi |
bhalo sikhāvana deta hai nisi dina tulasī tohi ||

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In Vedic philosophy the material existence is likened to a dream. We have no control over what happens during the dreaming state. It occurs during a period of rest, where the subtle body consisting of mind, intelligence and ego become the shelter for the soul. The escape from the gross senses is so strong that an alarm may not even be loud enough to break the sleeping state.

[dreaming]Within a dream so many things happen. The scene seems real and the emotions surely are. The latter we know because when we wake up our heart can be pounding. We can be emotionally affected by the dream throughout the day. Yet the objects and settings vanish upon waking up. It is then realized that the objects only existed temporarily. They weren’t real.

“How is this an accurate comparison to the material existence? Isn’t the dream part of that existence? If I can make a distinction between sleeping and being awake, doesn’t it mean that I exist? If the whole thing is a dream, what is the opposite state? What is real if everything is an illusion?”

The comparison to the dream is used because matter is temporary in its manifestation. Matter is dull and lifeless. These descriptions have meaning only when there is something that is vibrant and full of life. The presence of the shadow means that light must be somewhere. The dreaming means there is a state of full alertness also. In the same way, when there is something that is inanimate, there must be something that animates it.

That animating force is the spirit soul. We learn of its qualities in the Bhagavad-gita, which summarizes Vedanta philosophy. The soul is full of life, blissful and knowledgeable. It can never be destroyed. There is no such thing as dreaming for the soul, since it never goes dormant.

acchedyo ‘yam adāhyo ‘yam

akledyo ‘śoṣya eva ca

nityaḥ sarva-gataḥ sthāṇur

acalo ‘yaṁ sanātanaḥ

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

Then what is the sleeping state? It describes a difference in condition for the material body only. The soul is alive throughout. Moreover, the comparison to the dream helps to give the conditioned soul information on how to reclaim its constitutional position. The soul is always an animating force, but depending on where it ends up it could have its properties covered. A person may be very strong in real life, but in the dream they could get overpowered by something much weaker. The dream means that the change in situation is not permanent, and in the same way the soul may find itself in different material bodies, but it is not affected.

anāditvān nirguṇatvāt

paramātmāyam avyayaḥ

śarīra-stho ‘pi kaunteya

na karoti na lipyate

“Those with the vision of eternity can see that the soul is transcendental, eternal, and beyond the modes of nature. Despite contact with the material body, O Arjuna, the soul neither does anything nor is entangled.” (Lord Krishna, Bg. 13.32)

[movies]Since matter is temporary in its manifestation, there are many ways to compare the material existence. We can use the example of a movie. Let’s say that we are watching one. We may be in the middle of it; a fact we know based on the allotted time given. Though we are at some point in the timeline, the movie is actually over. It has ended already. We simply haven’t reached that point in our viewing experience yet. The movie was shot previously, and it has its final destination set. There is nothing we can do to change it.

In the same way, our life is already over. In fact, everything we see around us is destroyed. It has vanished into thin air. That giant building we see in the horizon has crumbled to the ground. The torrential downpour outside has moved on and left sunlight in its wake. The snow remaining from yesterday’s blizzard has melted away. All of our possessions are gone and we have moved on to another body.

dehino ‘smin yathā dehe

kaumāraṁ yauvanaṁ jarā

tathā dehāntara-prāptir

dhīras tatra na muhyati

“As the embodied soul continually passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. The self-realized soul is not bewildered by such a change.” (Lord Krishna, Bg. 2.13)

[the changing body]A wise person doesn’t put too much value in something that will not remain for long. In fact, if I know that something won’t be important to me in the distant future, I might not keep it with me. Goswami Tulsidas says that everything of this world is devoid of taste, nirasa. This word can also mean “detachment.” In this verse from the Dohavali the poet gives advice to the mind, saying that everything of this world is tasteless. We should not have attachment to things that are temporary.

On the flip side, Tulsidas says there is full taste in Shri Rama. As sarasa is the opposite of nirasa, this word can also mean “to have attachment.” The poet gives this advice to the mind day and night. Repetition is necessary to get a point across. As this material existence is like a dream or a movie that has already finished, it is not surprising that we are victims of forgetfulness. We hear that matter is temporary, but we soon forget, as our mind moves on to thinking about something else.

Rama is full of sweetness, as He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He will remain with us in the future. This is the law that He has created. He travels with every creature through His expansion of the Supersoul. The Supersoul rests within the heart of every living entity, regardless of whether they are awake or dreaming. Whether they believe in Him or not, Shri Rama accompanies them wherever they go.

[Rama's lotus feet]Attachment to Rama means finding happiness that transcends birth and death. Since He appears to us in this dreamlike existence, He is the only reality. He is the cause of the creation, and He annihilates it as well. He can permanently remove our ignorance and rescue us from this constant dreaming, this illusion that we’ll be happy without consciousness of Him.

In Closing:

Though now in movie’s timeline some,

Know that its end has already come.

 

Previously shot the scenes each,

Just that point we have yet to reach.

 

Material existence, of everything we’re fond,

Of the same nature, already gone.

 

Supreme Lord and soul objects real,

Escape the dream and real sweetness feel.

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Being Equal With God

Posted by krishnasmercy on February 25, 2015

[Rama embracing Hanuman]“The monkeys were on the branches of the tree and the Lord under the tree, but He still treated them as equal to Himself. Tulsi says that you will not find such a boss as Rama, who is a mine of politeness.” (Dohavali, 50)

prabhu taru tara kapi dāra para te kie āpu samāna |
tulasī kahū’ na rāma se sāhiba sīla nidhāna ||

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Are we God? In the spiritual science that is Vedanta, we learn that everything that is living is spirit. This truth isn’t limited to just the human species. This doesn’t mean that the creatures that can consult the end of knowledge are the only ones that are spiritual. Everything that has the lifecycle, from birth to death, is spirit at the core.

As everything is the same, does this mean that the concept of God equates to a collection? Is God the sum total of everything spiritual? Do all the fragments merge back together at some point? This would help explain the difficulty right now. Fragmented from the entire whole, each spark is struggling. The ant loses its life in an instant by an accidental step of a larger being. The human seemingly has more control, but even they must eventually quit their body.

In the Bhagavad-gita we learn that the sparks of spirit have a source. The sparks we perceive presently live in a land that is temporary and changing. That land is known as the material nature and the condition for residence is a body made up of similar elements. The spotless spark that is spirit gets covered up by a combination of earth, water, fire, air and ether. There are the subtle elements also: mind, intelligence and false ego.

bhūmir āpo ‘nalo vāyuḥ

khaṁ mano buddhir eva ca

ahaṅkāra itīyaṁ me

bhinnā prakṛtir aṣṭadhā

“Earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind, intelligence and false ego – altogether these eight comprise My separated material energies.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.4)

[Krishna's material and spiritual energies]The sparks are Brahman and the source is Parabrahman. The source does not have false ego. The source does not have a covering, since there is no distinction between matter and spirit in Him. The source is a singular personality, while the sparks are all separate individuals. The six senses, which include the mind, lead to the trouble in the material existence. It is the false ego which leads to the erroneous conclusion that the individual soul is equal to Parabrahman. This conception is considered the last snare of the material existence, with the first being identification with the temporary body.

Parabrahman equates to the concept of God. Parabrahman is far superior to the Brahman that emanates from Him. He is equal in the sense that the qualities are the same. Spirit lives forever, has inherent knowledge and is by nature blissful. The same goes for God. But spirit can travel to a material existence and have its qualities covered up; God cannot.

Still, since He is the mine of politeness, by default the Supreme Lord does not act as if He is superior to everyone. He has no false ego, so He does not demand worship. He does not insist on it, either.

Why the existence of religion, then? Why so many rules and regulations to follow? Why give man the institution of marriage, which seems to bring so much trouble?

The guidelines are put into place to show the way towards transcendence, which was the situation at some point in the past. So religion is the way to reclaim the spiritual life, free of the burdens of a material existence. Another way to understand religion is to think of it as the pathway that leads to the condition of having the Supreme Lord act like you are His equal.

We can take the above referenced verse from the Dohavali to see how this works. Here Goswami Tulsidas mentions two groups: individual souls and the Supreme Soul. One side consists of the Brahman we mentioned previously and the other Parabrahman. As Brahman is spirit, it can appear in any form. This instance references spirit souls in the bodies of monkeys. They roam from tree branch to tree branch. They are not civilized. They are not considered trustworthy or pious.

[Lord Rama]Parabrahman is in the form of the incarnation named Shri Rama. He looks like a human, though He is not ordinary. He does not suffer. He does not have defects. He controls the material nature instead of the other way around. Following the behavior of civilized human beings, He rests underneath tree branches. He is not wild like the monkeys.

In this instance He treats the monkeys as His equals. Tulsidas says this is due to Rama’s politeness, of which He has so much. These monkeys are His friends. They will do anything that He asks. They are ready to die for Him. They did not undergo training in a religious path. They did not suffer for a long time in the hopes of gaining the chance to serve Rama. They have spontaneous devotion to Him, and so the Supreme Lord does not put so much weight on their outward behavior related to their body type.

Indeed, every individual accepting a material body has their defects. In the human being there are four general ones: the tendency to cheat, having imperfect senses, the tendency to commit mistakes, and the tendency to be easily illusioned. People cheat to get ahead, not knowing that everything will be destroyed eventually.

yaṁ yam artham upādatte

duḥkhena sukha-hetave

taṁ taṁ dhunoti bhagavān

pumāñ chocati yat-kṛte

“Whatever is produced by the materialist with great pain and labor for so-called happiness, the Supreme Personality, as the time factor, destroys, and for this reason the conditioned soul laments.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 3.30.2)

The imperfect senses of man don’t allow him to perceive everything that is going on. They need the help of the sun to see what is around them. They need the testimony of others to be informed of things occurring not within vicinity. Man commits mistakes in judgment, regretting decisions many years after the fact. And in illusion they come to such faulty conclusions as “God is dead” and “man is God.”

[Rama hugging Hanuman]Rama knows these defects. He overlooks them when there is sincerity. He is the original boss, or sahiba, but He does not demand that others follow His orders. The sparks of Brahman struggle enough in a material existence. Rama is there to rescue them, and He does not discriminate as to where, when, or who. The Vanaras in Kishkindha are like His equals, which Rama shows vividly when embracing the most courageous among them, Shri Hanuman. This is the result of pure devotion to God, which is the aim of life.

In Closing:

At heartstrings of the devoted tugging,

Vision of Rama and Hanuman hugging.

 

Though in a monkey body one,

Difference to Him considering none.

 

Same for all the Vanaras done,

Though roaming from branches in fun.

 

Only the spiritual quality in each to see,

The mine of virtues, kindest boss is He.

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The Kindest Boss

Posted by krishnasmercy on February 24, 2015

[The Vanaras working for Rama]“The monkeys were on the branches of the tree and the Lord under the tree, but He still treated them as equal to Himself. Tulsi says that you will not find such a boss as Rama, who is a mine of politeness.” (Dohavali, 50)

prabhu taru tara kapi dāra para te kie āpu samāna |
tulasī kahū’ na rāma se sāhiba sīla nidhāna ||

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It’s been a problem since as far back as anyone can remember: class distinctions. There are the obvious ones drawn by race. One race decides that another race needs to be enslaved. In order to get a laborer to keep with them, the excuse is made that the lower race is lacking in good qualities, and that their freedom will only mean doom to society.

There are distinctions made on birth. One person comes from a high family, while another belongs to a family that isn’t as well known. In the flawed belief that honor descends, the person in the high family looks down at others. But in fact, they have done nothing on their own. At the time of birth, the slate is clean, ready to be filled with deeds. Those deeds then determine one’s character, but succumbing to the tendency to cheat, some choose to take any advantage they can get.

“For honor, worthily obtained is in its nature a personal thing, and incommunicable to any but those who had some share in obtaining it. Thus among the Chinese, the most ancient, and from long experience the wisest of nations, honor does not descend, but ascends. If a man from his learning, his wisdom, or his valor, is promoted by the Emperor to the rank of Mandarin, his parents are immediately entitled to all the same ceremonies of respect from the people, that are established as due to the Mandarin himself; on the supposition that it must have been owing to the education, instruction, and good example afforded him by his parents, that he was rendered capable of serving the public.” (Benjamin Franklin)

[Benjamin Franklin]There are some subtler examples of class distinctions which sometimes are difficult to avoid. Picture this situation at an office. Two people are friends on the outside. One works for the company already; they are in the upper management. They help their friend out by getting them a job at the office. The new employee friend isn’t as skilled, so they become one of the ordinary workers.

Though friends at home, there is a world of difference at the work place. The people in upper management have their own offices in a separate section of the building. The ordinary workers are scattered throughout. In the lunch cafeteria, the two friends meet, and they want to sit together. But they see that the tables are divided, that no one from management will sit with anyone from the ordinary laborers.

As He is the wisest person and also the one who lives inside of every heart, the Supreme Lord does not make such distinctions. By definition He can’t, as He has endless love for all of His children. Part of that love includes giving them the freedom to leave His association, at least in consciousness. He does not control their minds, not even if He wants to. He can try to steer them in the right direction, but ultimately the choice is up to them. That is the meaning to the little independence that the innumerable living entities who are not God receive.

There are many historical examples that show the Lord’s kindness in equality. In this verse from the Dohavali, Goswami Tulsidas references the behavior of Shri Rama with the Vanaras of Kishkindha. The mere mention of the name Kishkindha brings great joy to a person who knows God and serves Him with all their hearts. It was in this area that Rama first met with the famous Hanuman, who was an inhabitant. Hanuman was the chief minister for Sugriva, who at the time was exiled from his kingdom. Sugriva was the chief of the Vanaras, who were monkey-like.

“Sent by the great soul Sugriva, the king of Vanaras, I have arrived here. My name is Hanuman and I am a Vanara.” (Hanuman speaking to Lord Rama, Valmiki Ramayana, Kishkindha Kand, 3.21)

[Meeting Hanuman]Through Hanuman’s efforts, Rama formed an alliance with Sugriva. Rama would help get the Vanara-kingdom back from the rival Vali and Sugriva would help Rama regain His missing wife Sita Devi. This is God’s play on earth. He puts on a dramatic performance, filled with exchanges of the kinds that are familiar to us.

Still, He is the Lord, or prabhu. This means that He will do things that no human can do. In class distinctions, there was a gulf of difference between Rama and the Vanaras. Rama was the son of the King of Ayodhya. He upheld the responsibility of protecting the innocent. He always gave and never took. He was dedicated to the truth, as was His father King Dasharatha. Rama lived underneath tree branches as He roamed the forest as an ascetic; something brought on by tensions within the family

The Vanaras roamed from tree branch to tree branch. They were not civilized. No one looked to them for protection. Though the Vanaras jumped on the branches above Him, Rama did not mind. He treated them like equals. They were His good friends, and not just for a short while. It is understandable to forget good deeds done for us. Man makes mistakes, after all, and one of them is forgetting.

Rama never forgets, however. And He only keeps in mind the good. It is for this reason that the yogi in devotion has no need to fear a wasted effort. Even if they don’t perfect their practice in this lifetime, in the future they get to continue from where they left off. This is due to the remembrance of the Supreme Lord.

[Rama and Lakshmana with the Vanaras]Tulsidas says that you won’t find as kind a boss anywhere else. He says that Rama is a mine of politeness. This is true in so many ways. Ordinary bosses look for their work to be accomplished. If the bottom line is not being met, they get upset. Rama too gives work, but He cares only for the mentality in the service. The results don’t matter so much. If the effort is sincere, He will never get angry. He helps those who want to help Him. He considers the Vanaras of Kishkindha to be as important as the people in Ayodhya. Thus the sharpest vision belonging to the most polite person sees past all distinctions determined by material qualities. The spiritual quality of love and devotion for God is what counts most.

In Closing:

In monkeys and humans difference we see,

One on branches and another under tree.

 

Yet Rama considered them the same,

Vanaras living in forest of Kishkindha name.

 

At only what’s in the heart detecting,

Only sincerity in effort expecting.

 

Such a kind boss nowhere else to find,

Helps His devotees like Hanuman shine.

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