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Gaura Purnima 2013

Posted by krishnasmercy on March 25, 2013

Lord Chaitanya and associates“In the Age of Kali, intelligent persons perform congregational chanting to worship the incarnation of Godhead who constantly sings the name of Krishna. Although His complexion is not blackish, He is Krishna Himself. He is accompanied by His associates, servants, weapons and confidential companions.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 11.5.32)

Shrimad Bhagavatam

Young children instinctively know that they are not supposed to play the day away in front of the television. If they indulge in video games for too long, they will get yelled at by their parents. In the odd chance that the admonishment is absent, it means that the parents are either not around or not doing their job. Later on in life, the husband hears similar harsh words if he shirks his responsibilities in favor of “fun time.” Though the culprits have reason to feel guilty in these situations, the same does not apply with genuine spiritual life. In chanting the holy names, in reading books describing the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and in thinking of the sacrifices made by His servants, there is no detriment to endless engagement. Keenly aware of this, Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu freely distributed the wonderful gift of bhakti-yoga to as many people as possible, teaching His disciples the same art so as to further increase the scope of distribution. Occasions such as Gaura Purnima allow us to reflect on that wonderful benevolence.

NintendoThe rebuke from the parents is understandable. They see us as young children wasting the day away in front of the television. They are in a position of authority. They understand what it takes to make sure there is enough money to have a television and video games in the first place. They know that if they followed the behavior of the children, there wouldn’t be anyone responsible around. Therefore just seeing us playing these games for an extended period can get them angry.

“Enough already. You’ve been playing for too long. Did you do your homework? If not, then do it right now. If you did it already, then read a book. Why don’t you read more? Did you know that such and such’s son scored very high on that standardized exam? You can do better, but you don’t apply yourself. Also, have you cleaned your room? I walked in there yesterday and it was a mess. You need to be more responsible. I shouldn’t have to tell you to do these things. You should know on your own.”

It is natural for a husband to see his friends less frequently after he gets married. Instead of being able to do whatever he wants, whenever he wants, he now has to check with someone else first. As soon as you have to ask permission, you’re inviting the chance of rejection. And if you don’t ask permission and just act unilaterally, you have to face the angry paramour later on.

“I can’t believe you spent the whole night at your friend’s place. What were you guys doing over there? There is a ton of laundry piled up here, and we still have dishes in the sink. You were supposed to call someone to fix that leak in the roof. How can you be so irresponsible? And you want to go on a road trip with your friends next week? So I will be left here all alone with the kids? No way, pal. If you do go, you might want to call here before you come back. You might want to check to see if you still have a wife.”

If all we have to rely on is mental speculation, we may eventually come to the conclusion that life is about love. The purpose to an existence is to serve someone else. Service is what makes us happiest. We can spin around the wheel of existence for a large number of times in order to eventually reach this conclusion, or we can get it immediately from the Vedas, the original scriptural tradition of India. Since they are so old, they are not taught in the same way in each time period. For instance, people from thousands of years ago had different frames of reference, so key concepts were explained to them in a particular way.

In the modern age, the situation is considered so degraded that the primary and most effective method of instruction is the simple sound vibration representation of the Absolute Truth. This should make sense if we think about it. Just the mere mention of religion draws scowls and frowns today. As sense gratification in fruitive activity is the ultimate aim of the non-religious person, if the same is taught within the bounds of spiritual life, the instruction is not taken seriously. “Why should I have to pray for stuff when others already get everything without praying? Why should I surrender to someone just so that I won’t go to hell in the afterlife? It doesn’t make sense for religion to be based on fear.”

maha-mantraThe holy name, of which there are many, describes the Supreme Absolute Truth. In the Vedas the name Krishna is considered the best. It means “all-attractive.” Something that is attractive is pleasing to others. There is no other purpose to attraction. In fact, something cannot be attractive unless it invites others into association. Right away, we see that saying the name Krishna creates some sort of relationship. The person identified is attractive, and so is the name. Rama is another holy name, and it means the source of all-pleasure and also one who gives pleasure to others with His association. Hare is the energy belonging to Krishna or Rama.

The maha-mantra, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare,” is the best way to hear and create the holy names. It is the best method for being introduced to genuine spiritual life. It is the best way for remaining connected in a loving relationship to the Absolute Truth. And it is also the best way to find enjoyment when on the highest platform of consciousness.

The parent is superior because they serve in a more refined manner. They are wiser than the children, and in that wisdom they know how to serve their dependents. The person on the highest platform of consciousness can be thought of as the wisest guardian. With full knowledge they can engage in serving the Absolute Truth. They do so through the aforementioned hearing and chanting. If they are so inclined, they also worship, offer prayers, become friends, and surrender everything. Any one of these processes is sufficient, but chanting and hearing are considered the most effective.

Lord Chaitanya worshiping Radha and KrishnaThe maha-mantra is the vehicle for liberation liberally distributed throughout society by Lord Chaitanya and His associates. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is the same Absolute Truth, but He appears in a more merciful outward form, one that is easily accepted into the heart. In Kali Yuga, the current age of quarrel and hypocrisy, we mistakenly overvalue wealth and prestige, and so we tend to envy others we think are superior to us in these areas. Mahaprabhu’s goal is not to create another source of envy. He appears in a very renounced garb, thereby diminishing the chance for envy. In a humble way He kindly begs everyone to say the names of Krishna and Rama. He gives Himself over to anyone who does so.

And being with Mahaprabhu is the same as being with God. He explains the confidential purports to the shastras, or scriptures, through His association. He personally arrives through His causeless mercy, an extension of which is the kind work of His followers, who travel from village to village throughout the world to distribute the holy names. Those who are more philosophically inclined are given the same association through written word. The Bhagavad-gita and the Shrimad Bhagavatam are the instructions and descriptions of God. They are the preferred works for Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, whose birth is celebrated on Gaura Purnima. On that magnificent day some five hundred years ago, the golden avatara came to show us how to live a guilt-free life, where we can indulge in service without cessation. It is in our constitution to serve, so when it is directed at God there is no reason to feel any guilt.

In Closing:

Rather live life guilt-free,

So that happy you’ll be.

 

Never good for too much play,

The wise guardians to us will say.

 

Responsibilities at home don’t shirk,

Lest be reprimanded by wife as a jerk.

 

In bhakti-yoga offer service without end,

Your kind sentiments to Supreme Lord send.

 

How to practice this ancient art Lord Chaitanya taught,

When His magnificence to this world He brought.

 www.krishnasmercy.org

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Driven to Impersonalism

Posted by krishnasmercy on February 7, 2013

Krishna's lotus feet“For those whose minds are attached to the unmanifested, impersonal feature of the Supreme, advancement is very troublesome. To make progress in that discipline is always difficult for those who are embodied.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 12.5)

Bhagavad-gita, 12.5Question: “I’ve been around devotees of Krishna, but due to various missteps made by famous gurus and negative information I’ve read about them on internet sites, I’ve been turned away. Now I lean more towards impersonalism. I’ve read the works of Vaishnava saints of other disciplic successions and it seems that they confirm the superiority of impersonalism. The lesson I take away is that you can pretty much worship any god and chant any mantra and achieve perfection. What should I do?”

In the Vedas, the ancient scriptures of India, the Supreme Absolute Truth is described as both formless and with form. He is impersonal and personal simultaneously. What does this mean for us? How do we know which one is superior? The Vaishnavas are those who worship Vishnu, who is the personal form of the Lord possessing four hands and beautiful features throughout. Vishnu also has activities that accompany His features. One way to determine which path is superior, impersonal or personal, is to see which one allows for limitless glorification. The Vaishnava saints all praise and glorify God and His activities, which means that by definition they are personalists. Any other interpretation of their behavior is flawed.

Yes, this means that any genuine Vaishnava is a personalist. To say otherwise is wrong; it is deception. The impersonalist must rely on deception when critically analyzing the Vaishnava because their philosophy is ultimately rooted in envy. How is this? If God doesn’t have a form, then He doesn’t have to be worshiped. He is not even a He. By definition, if He is impersonal then He is not a person. It is said that impersonalism is the last snare of maya, the illusory energy governing the material world. Impersonalist philosophy can only exist in a place where there is some illusion, i.e. where the Absolute Truth is not fully realized.

“It is astonishing to see how a person who is being kicked by the laws of the Lord’s illusory energy at every step can falsely think of becoming one with the Lord. Such thinking is the last snare of the illusory energy offered to the conditioned soul. The first illusion is that he wants to become Lord of the material world by accumulating wealth and power, but when he is frustrated in that attempt he wants to be one with the Lord. So both becoming the most powerful man in the material world and desiring to become one with the Lord are different illusory snares.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 2.9.30 Purport)

The first snare of maya is the trap of thinking oneself to be superior in terms of accumulation. Get the highest paying job. Buy the biggest house. Enjoy with as many women as possible. Sadly, this pursuit is riddled with flaws without even touching upon spirituality. Someone else will always have more than us. We may have the most money in the world, but someone else could have better friends and family. Wealth is always changing as well, as currency values can shift drastically overnight. The ultimate equalizer is death, which erases all accumulated gains.

Eventually realizing that competing for resources is futile, the frustrated mind turns to impersonalism. Instead of the attitude of “I want everything,” the new attitude is “I am everything.” “I am God. I am the Absolute Truth. I am immortal. By merging into the impersonal energy known as Brahman, I can become one with everything.” In fact, many spiritual leaders encourage this attitude in their students. “Constantly chant that you are God. Remind yourself of this fact daily and pretty soon you will become God. Any mantra will do; they are all the same. If you can’t meditate on the formless Absolute, choose a divine figure to worship, and in this way keep yourself concentrated on Brahman.”

In the Vedas the statement “aham brahmasmi” is found. This translates to “I am Brahman.” Brahman is the Absolute Truth, a spiritual force above the dualities of the material nature. We are all indeed Brahman, but we are not Parabrahman. Originally we are completely spiritual in quality and activity, but deluded by the material energy we have forgotten our constitutional position. Through properly implementing certain techniques we can become Brahman realized.

Bhagavad-gita, 7.6“Of all that is material and all that is spiritual in this world, know for certain that I am both its origin and dissolution.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.6)

Lord KrishnaBut to think that the ultimate realization of God is Brahman is wrong. The Lord Himself mentions that He is the source of everything spiritual in the Bhagavad-gita [7.6], which is an authoritative work accepted by all schools of thought which base their philosophy on the Vedas. At one point Krishna is asked by Arjuna whether the impersonal path or the personal path is superior. Krishna says that the impersonal path is very difficult for those who are embodied, i.e. those in the material world. This is because of the influence of maya. He says that through enough practice one eventually finds perfection, but that the personal path is superior.

Trapped in maya’s last snare, the impersonalist will even go so far as to claim that famous Vaishnavas of the past espoused impersonalism, despite the fact that the claim is axiomatically false.  These Vaishnava personalities worshiped forms besides Krishna, which seems to support the claim that any figure can be worshiped. They also chanted different mantras, which apparently supports the claim that any mantra can be chanted. Yet if we delve into the works of these Vaishnavas, we see that they spend all of their time worshiping God. In the Gaudiya-Vaishnava school Shri Krishna is accepted as the original form of Godhead. Other Vaishnava schools take Vishnu to be the original, and some take Rama. In the Shrimad Bhagavatam and other works it is described that there is no difference between these different forms. The different forms are described as vishnu-tattva. Other divine figures are never equated with the vishnu-tattva forms. Indeed, in the Padma Purana it is said that one is an offender if he thinks that Vishnu is on the same level as any of the demigods.

Chaitanya Charitamrita, Madhya 18.116“A person who considers demigods like Brahma and Shiva to be on an equal level with Narayana is to be considered an offender, or pashandi.” (Padma Purana quoted from Chaitanya Charitamrita, Madhya 18.116)

Some famous Vaishnavas have worshiped a Vishnu form other than Krishna but while in the mood of Lord Shiva, who is a devotee of Vishnu. The famous Shridhara Svami, whose commentary on the Shrimad Bhagavatam is considered most authorized, worshiped the Vishnu form of Narasimhadeva while in the mood of Lord Shiva. Goswami Tulsidas worshiped Rama while following in the footsteps of Lord Shiva. Tulsidas’ most famous work, the Ramacharitamanasa, is all about Rama’s activities. You can’t write about the activities of someone who is impersonal. In his other works Tulsidas repeatedly emphasizes the superiority of the path of personalism. He also glorifies the activities of Krishna, Vishnu and Narasimhadeva, all the while equating them with Rama. It is absolute nonsense to say that he is an impersonalist, for he dedicated his whole life to glorifying God’s activities and qualities.

“Those who differentiate between the forms, qualities, pastimes, and characteristics of the incarnations of the Lord, such as Matsya and Kurma, will certainly be forced to enter the darkest regions of hell. Therefore, those who desire their own welfare always see Lord Vishnu’s names, forms, qualities, and pastimes as non-different from one another.”  (Madhvacharya, Gita-tatparya, 2.25)

Famous personalities in a particular disciplic succession may have legendary fall downs, but this does not invalidate the philosophy they claim to follow. Smoke emanates from fire, but the smoke does nothing to pollute the purity of the fire. In the same way, some people may fall from a lofty position due to the influence of the material nature, but this doesn’t mean that the original teachers are at fault. Even with all of their flaws, the fallen Vaishnavas at least give others valuable information about how to worship God with thought, word and deed. They present to the world translations of Vedic works like the Bhagavad-gita and Shrimad Bhagavatam, which allow us to make devotional service, or bhakti-yoga, our way of life.

DeitiesOn the other hand, if we encounter the kindest impersonalist in the world, someone without any character flaws, they still can’t take us beyond the path of meditation or study of Vedanta. This leaves us vulnerable to the attacks of maya, for without the Lord’s personal presence how can there be any protection? There have been several famous impersonalists who later on jumped on the personal path. King Janaka is one, and his emotions are given to us by Tulsidas in both his Ramacharitamanasa and his Janaki Mangala. It is said that when Janaka met Rama for the first time, he felt a thrill a hundred times that of Brahmasukha. Brahmasukha, which is also known as Brahmananda, is the pleasure that follows merging into the Brahman effulgence. As an impersonalist, Janaka experienced Brahmasukha, but when he saw a Vishnu form with his eyes, he felt a pleasure much greater than that.

“The king went and received blessings and then paid so much honor and respect after that. When he saw Rama, he experienced a happiness one hundred times that of Brahman realization.” (Janaki Mangala, Chand 5.2)

In the Bhagavad-gita it is said that one out of many thousands finally endeavors for perfection in transcendentalism, and even from there to achieve success is rare. Therefore it shouldn’t surprise us to see people who follow the personal path succumb to the effects of the material nature from time to time. They are still eventually guided back to the right path by the Supreme Lord Himself, for in personalism we get the hand of a personality to help us. In impersonalism, there is no form identified with, so how can there be any outside help?

In Closing:

“Bad things about Krishna gurus I read,

My skepticism towards philosophy to feed.

 

Impersonalism appealing now I find,

Rather keep formless Brahman in mind.

 

Other Vaishnava literature this seems to confirm,

Worship anyone, chant any mantra with conviction firm.”

 

Vaishnava by their work personalism to reveal,

Towards God with spiritual attributes they kneel.

 

“I am God” is indication of maya’s snare last,

Flawed conception that individual must get past.

 

Devotees can sometimes fall from grace,

Still does nothing to change philosophy’s face.

 

In devotion receive God’s helping hand,

So that in spiritual world later to land.

www.krishnasmercy.org

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Thanksgiving 2012

Posted by krishnasmercy on November 21, 2012

Lord Krishna“Being self-sufficient, Krishna does not require the service of any living entity, although He has many devotees. It is because Krishna is so kind and merciful that He gives the opportunity to everyone to serve Him, as though He required the service of His devotees.” (The Nectar of Devotion, Ch 21)

The spirit soul is constitutionally a servant of God. God is the superior entity and we are the inferior. Like it or not, this is how things are. When we say “constitutional”, it means that there is no way to change it. We can deny it, ignore it, pretend that it’s not the case, or even try to change it, but the relationship between the two is eternal, or sanatana. As the relationship and the respective positions are fixed, the occupational duty is as well, and therefore in the Vedic tradition the closest equivalent term to religion is sanatana-dharma. This eternal occupation manifests in service, and on Thanksgiving we are afforded a wonderful opportunity to carry out that service.

Thanksgiving originated as a celebration for a bountiful harvest. The settlers in the New World, a place later to become the United States, had a very difficult time in their initial few months. Imagine leaving your home for a distant land that is unknown to you. You’re leaving because practicing your religion is more important than anything else. The New World offers the hope of a better life, where you can worship the Supreme Lord while maintaining a simple lifestyle.

But the settlers didn’t have it so easy. Many of them died on the journey across the ocean, and in the first few months the food production was scarce. The governor of the new colony, William Bradford, decided to change the system a bit, dividing up the land and giving ownership to individuals. They could keep whatever they produced, rather than having to place everything in a common store. Using individual self-interest to their advantage, the colonists were able to produce so much food that they soon started trading with the Native Americans.

So pleased with the bountiful harvest, the Pilgrims decided to hold a grand feast where they gave thanks to God. This was a genuine sentiment. They believed in Him, and for that reason they risked their lives for the experiment that required a transatlantic journey. God is a singular entity; He is not exclusive to a specific tradition. Depending on time and circumstance the methods used to connect with Him may vary, but the ultimate goal is always the same. Even if the worshipers don’t know much about Him, He is still full of transcendental features, with unmatched kindness being one of them.

“Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor…Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be…” (President George Washington, Thanksgiving Day 1789, A Proclamation)

Thanksgiving_ProclamationLater on George Washington, the first president of the United States, made Thanksgiving an official holiday. He described it as a day to be grateful to the Almighty and dedicate service to Him. The Supreme Lord doesn’t require this honor. His ego is not so inflated that He will grow angry if we neglect worship of Him. In the Vedas He is described as atmarama, which means self-satisfied. If you are satisfied in the self, your happiness is not dependent on anyone else.

Yet the person who is atmarama kindly makes room for more happiness when someone offers Him service in a genuine way. And so we can turn one day of giving thanks into a full-time engagement. And more than just eating a feast and saying a prayer, one can offer their food items to the Lord. In the Bhagavad-gita, He says that a simple flower, fruit, or water is sufficient for an offering.

“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)

If we are able to offer more than just a flower, why not do it? If our constitutional position is servant of God, why not continue in service without interruption? If we feel pleasure eating nice food, why wouldn’t the Lord be pleased by the same food also? If we get satisfaction from feeding our family, why wouldn’t the same satisfaction exist in God, who can expand His belly infinitely to accept all the offerings made to Him with genuine devotion?

In the bhakti tradition offerings steadily flow towards the lotus feet of that author of all that is good in this world. Those who follow bhakti-yoga maintain the attitude of the original Thanksgiving on a daily basis. At this point one may wonder if the effect wears off through the steady diet of devotion. After all, holidays are special for a reason. They don’t come around every day. If you celebrated your birthday every day, would it be special anymore?

Such limitations don’t exist in bhakti. Only in loving devotion to God does the enthusiasm increase as you progress further along. If practiced in an authorized way, such as by chanting the holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”, bhakti-yoga continues without interruption and without motivation. All the common pitfalls that lead to despondency, despair, sadness and fear are removed. You have something to do all the time. If you’re not chanting, you can prepare and offer food. You can read about Krishna through the translations and commentaries of His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. He had so much enthusiasm for bhakti-yoga that even in old age he had the energy of a youth.

Worshiping KrishnaIf you’re not reading, you can chant together with friends in what is known as harinama-sankirtana. If you want to have something to look forward to, you can make plans to practice bhakti-yoga. You can visit various temples, meet with other devotees, or just think about some way to offer something to God. It is said that if you just think of offering something to God, whose best name is Krishna because it describes His all-attractiveness, that offering is immediately accepted. This means that if you want to say thanks now, you can do it.

The ability to practice bhakti-yoga at any time and any place, coupled with the fact that it allows you to say thanks every day of the year, substantiates the claim that devotional service is the highest occupation for man, a service that is available to any person, at any age. Whether sitting down to a large feast or just eating a single piece of rice, if we say thanks to the origin of matter and spirit and humbly ask for the ability to remember Him during this and every subsequent lifetime, the supreme benefactor will surely grant our wish.

In Closing:

The Supreme Lord with offerings to feed,

By why your service would He need?

 

The whole world in His hand He’s got,

So what’s the harm if in service we stop?

 

Bhakti-yoga exists for our benefit,

Solutions to all problems in it sit.

 

A day for service Washington made,

Thanksgiving, a tradition then stayed.

 

From one day an engagement for a lifetime make,

Chant holy names and sumptuous prasadam take.

www.krishnasmercy.org

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Govardhana Puja 2012

Posted by krishnasmercy on November 13, 2012

Krishna lifting Govardhana Hill“Upon hearing their prayer, Krishna could also understand that Indra, being bereft of his sacrificial honor, was pouring down rain that was accompanied by heavy pieces of ice and strong winds, although all this was out of season. Krishna understood that this was a deliberate exhibition of anger by Indra.” (Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 1, Ch 25)

Worship of the Supreme Lord in the mood of bhakti, or divine love, is not like any other kind of interaction. There are benefits for both parties involved, and there is no expectation of reciprocation. The activity falls into a unique category of spirituality, where the temporary conditions fixed in duality are nonexistent. All other varieties of worship can be abandoned in favor of pure, unmotivated and uninterrupted love for God. Aside from the security blanket of unending nectar in the form of the Supreme Lord’s association, there is also insulation from the obstruction of outside forces, which include those managed by the higher authorities. Govardhana Puja reminds us of this security, and it also serves to glorify the protector Himself, Shri Krishna.

The miseries of life are threefold. There are those rooted in the body and mind. I know that I shouldn’t be sad that my cheating wife has left me, but I can’t help it. I can’t help but feel inferior, that I’m not good enough. I also know that I shouldn’t worry about the outcome to the test I just took, because what can worrying really do? I already took the test, so I either passed or failed. What I think now doesn’t matter, yet I can’t stop thinking about it. Add diseases to the body and you get the full scope of the miseries the Vedas describe as adhyatmika.

Then there are the adhibautika miseries, those caused by other living entities. Not everyone is nice. Some people are kind and gentle, while others don’t mind committing the worst crimes to get what they want. Sometimes they are so mired in a life of ignorance that they don’t understand that what they’re doing is bad. Such miscreants are a great source of trouble in society.

The adhidaivika miseries are those that we seemingly can’t explain. Who causes earthquakes? What about the heat wave that sweeps across the country? And don’t forget the torrential downpours which lead to massive flooding. According to the Vedic tradition, the divine figures residing in the heavenly realm are in charge of these forces, and so to keep the resultant miseries at bay one is advised to perform sacrifice. A long time ago, however, the annual sacrifice in honor of the king of heaven, who is in charge of the rain, was skipped. Only for one moment was the sacrifice neglected, and the superior party instantly turned from a friend to an enemy.

Such occurrences are common outside the realm of spirituality as well. We pay homage to the utilities company so that they will provide us electricity. We pay the cable bill so that we’ll get the channels we want on our television set. The people we deal with may even be very friendly to us, acting as if our company is enjoyable to them. When we sit down in a restaurant and order food the waiter or waitress may try to act as if we’re not there as a customer. The car dealership salesman can also try to act as our friend.

But what if we were to say that we couldn’t pay?

“Oh, don’t mind me. I’m just sitting here. I’m actually very hungry. Can you bring me some food? I’ll have this and that off the menu. And, by the way, I don’t have any money with me. I can’t afford the prices for these items.”

Would the cordial relationship continue? Would not the restaurant owner tell us to leave? Would not the car salesman immediately turn away? In many instances our dealings with divine figures follow the same line, and though we think we are acting in a pious way, we are more or less conducting a business transaction. The desire to earn a profit is there in both parties. The seller wants to make some money on the sale and the buyer doesn’t want to spend more than they think the product is worth. The seller a long time back got so angry when a group of innocent people voluntarily decided to take their business elsewhere. They had no need to worry, as their director was the Supreme Lord Himself, the owner of this and every other creation in existence.

In Vrindavana Lord Indra was worshiped annually by the residents. They would gather items for sacrifice and then have a formal worship ceremony, where a priest would consecrate the area and carefully offer each item for Indra’s enjoyment. In return Indra would provide the rain necessary to sustain the farm community. One year, Nanda’s son decided that the neighboring Govardhana Hill should be worshiped instead of Indra. Nanda was the leader of the community, and his son the jewel of it. Though only a young boy, His attractiveness captivated the hearts and minds of all the residents. Through clever logic and a charming smile, Krishna was able to convince Nanda to shift the preparations towards Govardhana Hill instead.

Lord KrishnaSpiritual life relates to the spirit soul, which is the essence of identity. This soul is not tied to a material form, nor to any governing commission. In real connection to the Divine, there is no requirement that one follow this behavior or that, or belong to this institution or that. To teach this lesson to Vrindavana’s population and to future generations, Krishna purposefully stoked Indra’s wrath. The residents didn’t have to worship Indra, even if it was standard tradition. Worship of the demigods is a legitimate practice that is mentioned by Krishna Himself in the Bhagavad-gita.

“All living bodies subsist on food grains, which are produced from rain. Rains are produced by performance of yajna [sacrifice], and yajna is born of prescribed duties.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 3.14)

Though a recommended practice for one trying to elevate to a higher consciousness, demigod worship is in essence a business transaction, which means that there is a temporary result, a kind of profit, that comes to both parties. However, the ultimate system of spirituality can never be dependent on a ritual involving personal profit. As soon as the residents changed their mind and worshiped something else, Indra became angry. This means that he wasn’t really in it for the benefit of the devotees. He wanted his share, his moment in the spotlight. Once that was gone, envy took over, and instead of leaving the citizens alone, he decided to try to harm them.

Indra instigated a terrible rainstorm upon Vrindavana. Krishna knew that it was Indra’s work because the heavy pieces of ice and strong wind were not in season. This was an adhidaivika misery, but since Krishna is the Supreme Lord, it would have no effect on Him or His devotees. The Lord decided to hold up the just worshiped Govardhana Hill using His pinky finger. He held it above His head for seven consecutive days, giving the innocent residents shelter from Indra’s wrath.

If the car salesman runs after you with a hammer when you say that you won’t buy a car from him, was it worth going to him in the first place? Would you recommend him to others? Worship of Krishna at the highest level is known as bhakti-yoga, or devotional service. It is a voluntary effort, and the only pain that results from neglecting it is the missed opportunity to associate with the reservoir of sweetness, Shri Krishna. The association is the reward in bhakti, and for this reason the truly wise souls abandon all varieties of motivated religious behavior in favor of surrender to God, which they carry out daily by chanting the holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”. And as a way to further honor Shri Krishna, the protector of the surrendered souls, they also perform the Govardhana Puja each year on the day after Diwali.

In Closing:

Indra, in a playful pastime involved,

In which Krishna deadly problem solved.

 

Offerings to king of heaven annually went,

In return vital rain to Vrindavana was sent.

 

One year the residents worship skipped,

Switch of rage in Indra then flipped.

 

Devotion to Krishna they all had,

So able to survive Indra’s rage mad.

 

With Govardhana held up in the air,

Krishna removed flooding’s scare.

 

All other varieties of religion forget,

And on loving Krishna keep your heart set.

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Diwali 2012

Posted by krishnasmercy on November 12, 2012

Sugriva and freinds returning to Ayodhya with Sita and Rama“O Sugriva, you are a fifth brother to us four, for a friend is born of affection, while maleficence is the symptom of an enemy.” (Bharata, Valmiki Ramayana, Yuddha Kand, 127.45)

tvamasmākaṃ caturṇāṃ vaibhrātā sugrīva pañcamaḥ ||
sauhārdājjāyate mitramapakāro’rilakṣaṇam |

Diwali is an ancient Hindu tradition whose origin is in a blessed event from a long time ago. The first Diwali, or festival of lights, marked a triumph of an unlikely group of individuals who were previously cast into strange and unexpected circumstances. The celebration involved both the victorious and those who were joyous of their victory. In honor of their return to their home, an arrival which included many guests never before seen, the residents of the town of Ayodhya lit many lamps, filling the city with welcoming light. The leader of the city for the period preceding the arrival was likely the happiest person there, and his goodwill extended to the friends of the arriving party.

As a quick background, King Dasharatha was the ruler of the kingdom of Ayodhya. His family history dated back to the beginning of the creation, when King Ikshvaku ruled over the same area. Ikshvaku was a king of the utmost character. He did not have any sin in him, and for this he was worthy of the post of ruler of the earth. Several generations down the line Dasharatha took over. He proved his fighting ability on the battlefield, and so under his leadership the citizens felt safe from enemy attack.

In the fourth stage of his life Dasharatha finally had sons, four of them in fact. The eldest Rama was the most beloved of all. He was to succeed the father, but on the day slated for His coronation, events took a dramatic turn in the opposite direction. Due to the influence of the youngest wife Kaikeyi, Dasharatha’s commitment to the truth was used against him. He was forced to pass over Rama and give the throne to Kaikeyi’s son Bharata. Rama was okay with this, as He held tremendous affection for His three younger brothers. But then Kaikeyi also demanded that Rama be banished from the kingdom for fourteen years. Again, Rama took this in stride, but the rest of the town did not. They were sad to see Him leave, and so through the subsequent fourteen years they waited with great anticipation for His return.

Just imagine living in royal opulence one day and complete squalor the next. And mind you, the squalor is not for just a day or two. It is to last for fourteen years. Rama was accompanied by His beautiful wife Sita in the forest. The younger brother Lakshmana also came. Rama didn’t ask them to come along; they insisted. So the forest wasn’t so bad for the trio, as they had each other. Sita’s company is the most preferable for Rama, and who wouldn’t want a powerful and dedicated brother like Lakshmana around?

This stay in the forest was not to be without hiccups, however. Hardship came when Sita was kidnapped by the Rakshasa fiend Ravana, the king of the island of Lanka. Though without His royal army to support Him, Rama still fought ahead to find His missing wife. He aligned with Vanaras in the Kishkindha forest through the help of a minister named Hanuman. Vanaras are similar to monkeys except they have human-like features as well. These events took place in the Treta Yuga, which is the second time period of creation. During that time even the forest dwellers with tails had some semblance of civilized behavior in them.

Sugriva and Vali fightingHanuman worked for Sugriva, who was the leader of the monkeys stationed on Mount Rishyamukha. Sugriva had his own issues, separated from his family due to a feud with his more powerful brother Vali. Since Sugriva was now a friend, and since Hanuman was trusted as an ally upon initial meeting, Rama agreed to help Sugriva regain his kingdom. Later on Sugriva repaid the favor, first sending Hanuman to look for Sita and then joining the Vanara army in the march to Lanka to rescue her. They would emerge victorious, as the Vanaras had devotion to Rama, which was all that was required. The opponents fought with jaw-dropping illusion and mighty weapons, but with their trees and rocks Sugriva’s army countered them. Rama and Lakshmana took care of the rest.

The trio of Rama, Lakshmana and Sita were set to triumphantly return home to Ayodhya, taking an aerial car originally belonging to the treasurer of the demigods, Kuvera. Of course Rama was not going to return home without His friends who had helped Him. Sugriva, Hanuman and the leading Vanaras from the army were invited on to the aerial car to return to Ayodhya. Sita also made sure that the wives of these Vanaras were picked up along the way so that they could enjoy the celebration as well.

Meanwhile, on the other side of things the younger brother Bharata eagerly awaited the return of Rama. He felt terrible for what his mother had done, and so he ruled the kingdom in Rama’s absence through a life of asceticism. Rama’s sandals were symbolically ruling over the kingdom, and Bharata worshiped those sandals day and night. Before finally arriving home, Hanuman was sent to meet with Bharata, to see what his mindset was. Perhaps he wouldn’t want to give the kingdom back to Rama.

Hanuman learned that Bharata had no intention of keeping the kingdom he never wanted. The devoted brother was delighted to see Rama return. He paid his respects to Rama, and then offered respect to Sita and Lakshmana. Bharata then embraced Sugriva and the Vanaras. He kindly told Sugriva that he considered him to be like a fifth brother in their family of four brothers. He said that friends are made through affection and enemies through ill will. Sugriva had affection for Rama, and so he was automatically a friend to Bharata.

This was the same principle adopted by the residents of Ayodhya, as they were thrilled to see Rama’s new friends. They loved Rama so much, so they naturally loved anyone who was dear to Him. The Vanaras are forever dear to Rama, who is the Supreme Lord in His incarnation as a warrior prince. It is certainly beneficial to harbor affection for God, but to meet and honor the devotee is considered more beneficial. Through honoring the devotee the Supreme Lord is pleased even more. Bharata didn’t require this instruction; he immediately felt affection for Rama’s newest devotees, who were headed by Sugriva. Sugriva risked his life and wellbeing for Rama’s sake, and his efforts helped the group successfully return to Ayodhya. On Diwali we remember the Supreme Lord and His closest friends and how they joyfully celebrated in the wonderful homecoming.

In Closing:

“We are brothers numbering four,

Shri Rama all of us adore.

 

You, Sugriva, hold the same affection too,

Thus as a fifth brother we consider you.

 

Through affection a friend is born,

And enemies through ill will and scorn.”

 

When the triumphant to Ayodhya returned,

Sight of Rama’s new friends residents earned.

 

Diwali celebration our spirits to uplift,

Meeting with devotee most precious gift.

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Dussehra 2012

Posted by krishnasmercy on October 23, 2012

Vanaras fighting for Rama“The Vanaras, who fought using trees, attacked the demons from all sides. Seeing the ten-necked leader killed, the Vanaras assumed a triumphant attitude.” (Valmiki Ramayana, Yuddha Kand, 108.24)

sarvataścābhipetustān vānarā drumayodhinaḥ |
daśagrīvavadhaṃ dṛṣṭvā vānarā jitakāśinaḥ ||

If your enemy fights with state of the art weaponry that they are skilled in maneuvering, and you are using basic objects found in nature like trees and rocks, how on earth will you win? You’re basically kidding yourself, as you may fight the gallant fight for a while, but eventually the sheer force of the opposition’s weaponry will defeat you. Ah, but when you have the Supreme Lord as your leader, you don’t need any outside help. You don’t even have to be very strong or capable. Just the desire to serve Him is enough, and on the occasion of Dussehra we remember the service of some of the most valiant warriors in history.

Lord Ramachandra is the Supreme Personality of Godhead in His incarnation as a warrior prince. There have been many famous princes in history, but none has been more talked about and celebrated than the eldest son of King Dasharatha of the Ikshvaku dynasty. His glories are sung in the Vedas, which are the oldest scriptures in existence. The ancient Vedic texts like the Ramayana and Shrimad Bhagavatam describe God’s qualities in both His incarnations such as Rama and His personal form, and to this day the glorification continues through the saints who have inherited the spiritual tradition of bhakti-yoga from their spiritual masters, who belong to an instructional lineage that originates with the Supreme Lord Himself.

“The Lord descends on this earth and acts like others in connection with the activities of the world just to create subject matters for hearing about Him; otherwise the Lord has nothing to do in this world, nor has He any obligation to do anything.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 2.7.15 Purport)

From Shri Rama’s life so many lessons can be taken away, including on topics such as administration, defense, pious principles, deference to one’s preceptors and parents, and brotherly love. But a higher purpose for coming to earth and gracing the population with His vision is to give the saints something to talk about, something to relish. The mind works all the time, even while we are asleep. Think about that for a second. From the time of your birth up until this very moment your mind has never stopped. It will keep going in the future as well, which means that you’ll always have to think about something. It stands to reason then that if the quality of the subject matter of that thought increases, the pleasure from the thinking will increase as well.

God’s qualities are inconceivably wonderful, so He is described as nirguna, or without qualities. The nirguna tag is also sometimes used to describe the Lord’s unmanifest feature, His presence which is not perceptible to the eye. Conversely, the saguna form is the personal incarnation, but nirguna in a different context means that the gunas, or qualities, belonging to the Lord are all spiritual. They are not binding to the cycle of birth and death as they are with ordinary living entities.

A major act of the real-life play directed by Lord Rama took place in Lanka, an island ruled over by a wicked king named Ravana at the time. Rama didn’t just come to earth to go on a killing spree. In fact, His demeanor was the opposite of aggressive. He was very kind and polite and didn’t speak much. He followed the direction of His parents and His spiritual guides, which is humorous in a sense, as God doesn’t need instruction from anyone. Yet just to set a good example He followed the wishes of the father Dasharatha and the gurus Vishvamitra and Vashishtha. Rama also couldn’t help but listen to His wife Sita and His younger brother Lakshmana, who insisted on accompanying Him wherever He went.

When Rama had to live in the forest for fourteen years, they both came along as well, and later on Sita was taken away to Lanka behind Rama’s back. Ravana perpetrated this deed, and for this he was worthy of punishment. A mentality opposite of that of Sita and Lakshmana, Ravana had no desire to serve God or even acknowledge His supremacy. Rather, Ravana would amass wealth using his strength and then enjoy his lofty position. But all his hard-earned gains would come crashing down as soon as he decided to try to enjoy the person who is always off-limits. Sita is Lakshmi Devi, the goddess of fortune, and she serves her husband, Narayana, all the time. Narayana is another name for God, and Rama is the same Narayana.

Ravana wasn’t alone in Lanka. He had fellow ogres there with him. They were expert in black magic, similar to witches. They looked ghoulish, and they fought dirty. Previous to Sita’s abduction, Ravana’s friends had harassed many a sage in the forest. They would attack at night when it was difficult to see, and they would first assume an innocent guise. Just when they got close, they would reveal their true forms and then kill the sages and eat their flesh. These vile creatures were man-eaters who preyed on the most innocent members of society.

Rama one time singlehandedly defeated 14,000 of Ravana’s cohorts that were sent towards Him. When the time came for Sita’s rescue, Rama teamed up with Vanaras, who are like an advanced race of monkeys. Rama had a more conventional army back home, but due to the stipulations of the exile set by His father’s youngest wife Kaikeyi, Rama wouldn’t return to Ayodhya for help. No matter, as the Vanaras were sufficiently capable for the job; they possessed the one attribute necessary for victory: devotion.

Shri HanumanIn the final battle, the Rakshasas used every trick they had, but the monkeys, who were led by Hanuman, held their own. Finally, there was the battle between Rama and Ravana, and when the Lord released the arrow bestowed by Lord Brahma, Ravana was killed. Seeing this, the Vanaras, who were fighting with trees, swarmed the enemy Rakshasas. Rama’s army assumed the triumphant attitude because their spirits were uplifted by the Lord’s victory. With such high spirits there was nothing the Rakshasas could do.

When you know you are on the side of good and you have the leader of that goodness there to support you, there is no chance of defeat, no matter what the external conditions portend. In the present day and age the enemies live both within and without. Lust, anger and greed attack us on the inside, and the forces intent on denying God’s existence ruin society on the outside. Yet weapons of the same potency as the arrows shot by Rama are available to us in the holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”. This mantra is the battle hymn of the bhakti army, and chanting it regularly gives the troops the same confidence that the Vanaras had back on that first Dussehra.

In Closing:

Shri Rama, Supreme Lord, has won,

Ravana’s reign of terror now done.

 

Vanaras in victory shout,

Enemy forces they begin to route.

 

Relying on black magic the demons fought,

Mind-bending illusions to battle they brought.

 

Rama’s army used only rocks and trees,

But on opportunity for service they seized.

 

From devotion to Rama assured was their victory,

On Dussehra day with smiles we remember their story.

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Radhashtami 2012

Posted by krishnasmercy on September 21, 2012

Shrimati Radharani“Shrimati Radharani received from Durvasa Muni the benediction that whatever She cooked would be sweeter than nectar. That is the special feature of Her cooking.” (Chaitanya Charitamrita, Antya 6.116)

In bhakti-yoga there is no prerequisite of a specific ability or social status. This is in contrast to other kinds of yoga. Intelligence is required in jnana-yoga, renunciation and peace in meditational yoga, and the ability to perform a specific kind of work in karma-yoga. Yet in any social status, at any age, and in any circumstance one can be connected to the Supreme Lord in a mood of love. Love is the universal language, and so it is never bound to a specific condition. Divine love exists to the highest degree in Shrimati Radharani, and so the anniversary of her appearance day is celebrated with great pomp by Vaishnavas, to whom she is very dear.

Radharani’s good qualities are too many to count and their magnitude so high that measurements don’t exist to accurately describe them. She is God’s pleasure potency, known as the hladini-shakti. There is the original God and then there is His energy. We are also part of His energy, and being technically part of the marginal aspect we have a choice in masters. Just as the free woman has a choice in suitors, the living entity can choose in favor of either material nature or the divine energy. Material nature has an illusory effect, so whatever it reveals to influence the individual soul’s choice is not what it seems. On the other hand, the divine energy is the truth; it is real. The individual’s true calling is association with the divine energy.

As the embodiment of the devotional attitude, Radharani never chooses in favor of the material energy. Instead, she uses her abilities to please the Supreme Lord in His original standing as Shri Krishna, the beautiful youth with a blackish complexion. He holds a flute in His hands, wears a peacock feather in His hair, and sports an enchanting smile that never leaves His face. These attributes combine to make a vision that never changes, meaning that service to it as a means of worship can take place at any time.

In exercising her choice to give pleasure to Krishna, Radha engages with her beloved in amorous sports. There is a sportive tendency within the divine, and when acting on that tendency there is the ideal playing field that is Vrindavana-dhama. The pleasure groves of that sacred land is where Radha and Krishna play, where they derive tremendous enjoyment from each other’s company. The contact is so blissful that anticipation of it is considered more enjoyable than the actual meeting.

In Vrindavana, Radha offers service to Krishna in other ways as well. As a beautiful young woman, one of her skills is cooking. She was once blessed by the famous Durvasa Muni that whatever she would cook would taste like sweet nectar. Cooking is an art form, and some are naturally very talented in it. They know how to combine ingredients in such a way that tasty dishes result. They have the patience and the creativity to make preparations that everyone will enjoy.

Radha has this ability in full and she offers it as a sacrifice to her beloved. Krishna’s foster mother in Vrindavana, Yashoda, calls Radharani over to cook for her boy, for she knows that He enjoys her preparations the most. Yashoda is a coordinator in this way, taking the knowledge of Radharani’s culinary abilities and steering them in the right direction. Another one of Radharani’s qualities is shyness, so she is not always so willing to openly show her love for Krishna. To cook for Him is a subtle way to offer service, and rather than volunteer right away, she waits until Yashoda calls upon her. This way it doesn’t appear to others that she is openly desirous of pleasing Krishna, a subtlety which actually makes her love more endearing to Yashoda’s son.

In bhakti-yoga, one can use whatever abilities they have to please the Lord. Cooking can be done for Krishna’s pleasure by offering preparations first to the Vaishnava spiritual master, who then passes the offering up the chain of spiritual masters until it eventually reaches Krishna. Radha is the topmost servant, so if she sees sincerity in devotional service, she recommends the devotee to Krishna. And her favor is very easy to win, as she is tenderhearted by nature. Therefore followers of bhakti-yoga always pray for Radharani’s blessings, and with great pomp they celebrate occasions relating to her.

Radha and KrishnaRadha uses all of her qualities for Krishna’s pleasure, and so one can use any of their skills to remain connected to the divine. Some are skilled in writing and others in talking. Some are naturally people-friendly, while others work better in seclusion. Something as simple as attending a gathering of devotees celebrating Shri Krishna is a way to offer service, as we influence people more with our example than with our words.

On Radhashtami we celebrate the occasion when Krishna’s dearly beloved appeared on this earth to delight Him with her pastimes. She is not specifically qualified in Vedanta, nor does she sit quietly in meditation. Instead, she sacrifices all of her time, dedicates every ability and quality that she possesses, for the Supreme Lord’s pleasure. She sets the perfect example in this regard, and she shows that bhakti-yoga cannot be checked by any condition. Devotion offered to her is as good as worshiping Krishna, and so the truly wise saints chant the names of both the energetic and the energy found in the maha-mantra, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”.

In Closing:

In favor of devotion she chooses,

All of her abilities she uses,

For Krishna’s pleasure to see,

So that happy both will be.

 

From Durvasa blessing in cooking she takes,

So nectarean food for Krishna she makes.

 

On this blessed Radhashtami day,

Name of Krishna’s beloved let me say.

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Krishna Janmashtami 2012

Posted by krishnasmercy on August 8, 2012

Vasudeva carrying Krishna“The night was very dark, but as soon as Vasudeva took Krishna on his lap and went out, he could see everything just as in the sunlight.” (Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 1, Ch 3)

Ignorance is darkness and knowledge is light, and so the spirit soul encased in gross and subtle material elements lives in darkness until the true light of knowledge of its inherent relationship to the Supreme is revealed. The revelation can come at any moment, and when it does, the connection to the divine creates a link in consciousness that doesn’t have to break. The realized soul knows that God is with them, so the cloud of nescience never has to return. The transcendental light can come internally through the practice of yoga or externally through the direct presence of Shri Krishna Himself, who showed the power of His effulgence moments after appearing from the womb of mother Devaki. That wonderful incident is still celebrated to this day on the occasion of Shri Krishna Janmashtami.

Krishna is God. Not a deity of sectarian importance or a mythological character of the Hindu faith, Lord Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. His name speaks to His all-attractiveness. Krishna’s smile is so enchanting that it takes away the pride of the staunchest devotee of material nature. The sweetness of the sounds emanating from His flute capture the attention of human beings and animals alike. The peacock feather in His hair and the kaustubha gem around His neck keep the eyes focused on His transcendental form. To meditate on Him is the most worthwhile activity for the eyes, which are gifts from nature to be used in the proper way.

“In order to deliver the pious and to annihilate the miscreants, as well as to reestablish the principles of religion, I advent Myself millennium after millennium.”  (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.8)

The all-attractive vision is granted to the population of the earth periodically when Krishna decides to appear. He states in the Bhagavad-gita that one of the reasons for His advents is to annihilate the miscreants. The miscreant in this case refers to an enemy of religion, someone who purposefully thwarts the harmless efforts in spirituality of the saintly class. Accompanying the elimination of the miscreant influence is the reinstatement of the religious principles. The highest religious principle is bhakti-yoga, or devotion to God, and so that devotion is reinstituted best when there is the direct vision of the Supreme Lord.

During the Dvapara Yuga, a famous miscreant was ruling over the town of Mathura. A prophecy had stated that his sister’s eighth child would kill him. Not wanting to take any chances, King Kamsa imprisoned his sister Devaki and her husband Vasudeva. Each of her first seven children was then killed by Kamsa immediately after they were born. Ah, but the prophecy would hold true nonetheless, as Devaki’s eighth child was Krishna Himself. When He emerged from the mother’s womb, Krishna first showed His four-handed form of Lord Vishnu, which indicated to the parents that their son was God Himself arriving on the scene to grant them special favor.

Krishna's birthDespite seeing Vishnu, the parents were worried that Kamsa would come and kill their newborn child. Knowing this, Krishna asked Vasudeva to transfer Him to the nearby town of Gokula, which was a farm community. Kamsa would not find out about Krishna’s birth until later on, and so nothing bad could happen in the meantime. Even if it did, young Krishna, though in the body of an infant, would save the day.

As if to show the magic of His transcendental form, Krishna’s effulgence spread immediately. The Lord appeared at midnight in a jail cell, while the outside guards were asleep. Vasudeva was to transfer the child to Gokula immediately; there was no time to waste. The problem was that it was dark outside. How was the father going to see without some kind of external lighting? He didn’t want to draw attention to himself either; as no one was to know where he was going.

When Vasudeva took Krishna in his lap, suddenly he could see everywhere. This wasn’t a magic trick. The boy wasn’t holding a secret lamp. He is naturally effulgent. It is said that the light of Brahman, which represents the sum collection of spiritual fragments in the material universe, emanates from the gigantic body of the Supreme Lord. He is the source of all light, and we know that darkness is only the absence of light. Holding Krishna in His arms, Vasudeva had no problem seeing. Even when he had to cross over the Yamuna river and it started to rain, Krishna’s trusted servant, Ananta Shesha Naga, arrived on the scene to create an umbrella of protection with his many hoods.

Krishna’s transcendental effulgence also exists in stories about Him, including the accounts of His initial appearance in Mathura. It also exists in His holy name. Therefore the illuminating spiritual practice for the modern age, which is applicable to any person in any part of the world, is the chanting of the holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”.

Krishna Janmashtami is the time to remember Krishna and the influence He had in both Gokula and Mathura. Kamsa would eventually find out about His birth and he would try every which way to kill Krishna. But the Lord can never be annihilated, and conversely nothing could be done to save Kamsa, who was destined to die at the hands of the delight of Devaki. That sweetheart son protected His parents, eventually freeing them from prison and allowing them to live in peace. To always keep the vision of the owner of all matter and spirit in your mind is the way to remain in the light, and to celebrate His appearance on Janmashtami is the way to further reinforce that remembrance for the days that lay ahead.

In Closing:

After child’s birth Lord Vishnu they saw,

Appeared from Devaki’s womb, kept them in awe.

 

From King Kamsa Krishna needed to be safe,

So boy to Gokula father Vasudeva would take.

 

But there was a problem in limited sight,

In dead of night father required light.

 

Krishna’s body automatically is bright,

Effulgent is Vasudeva and Devaki’s delight.

 

Through the darkness, God to show the way,

Remember His name and glories on Janmashtami day.

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Narasimha Chaturdashi 2012

Posted by krishnasmercy on May 4, 2012

Prahlada Maharaja with Narasimhadeva“Thereafter Lord Brahma requested Prahlada Maharaja, who was standing very near him: My dear son, Lord Narasimhadeva is extremely angry at your demoniac father. Please go forward and appease the Lord.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 7.9.3)

As peacefulness and anger are concepts only borne of duality, they are at an equivalent level when associated with true transcendence. The living being is at peace when they think they are in a comfortable situation of life and they are in anger when their pride is hurt or when there is frustration in meeting a desired end. As these are only temporary conditions, to be washed away as quickly as the sand by the next oncoming wave from the ocean, they are not to be overly emphasized within the grander scheme. With the Supreme Lord, whether He is in wonderful peace or extreme anger, the benefit to the affected parties is there all the same. A long time back He was seen by many exalted persons in a terrifying form which had an accompanying angry mood. He looked so fierce that so many powerful personalities, innocent in their own right, dared not approach Him. Yet a young child, who was directly responsible for that form appearing, was brave enough to come forward, not fearing who He knew to be the Supreme Personality of Godhead. That incident which took place eons ago is still celebrated to this day on the occasion of Narasimha Chaturdashi.

Ferocious NarasimhadevaWhy would God ever get angry? Doesn’t that represent a defect to His nature? Anger is not something we strive after. It arises when we lose control of our emotions, so it’s usually not a welcomed feeling. Anger is due to frustration, so if the Supreme Lord exhibits this trait does this mean that He is somehow not able to get His way? Actually, the intense emotions shown by the lord of all creatures is for His own pleasure, and once He is pleased naturally those connected to Him in a bond of affection feel supreme delight as well. This fact reinforces the ultimate truth of achintya-bhedabheda-tattva, which says that the living entities are simultaneously one with and different from God.

God is spirit and so are the living entities. The quality of that spirit is the same, as the subordinate group is an expansion of the superior entity. At the same time, the quantitative aspects are vastly different; hence the distinction between the dominant and the dominated. Since the qualitative aspects are equivalent, there is an inherent link between the two groups. Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, who kindly revealed achintya-bhedabheda-tattva, says that the link can be revived through loving devotion, which is best awakened and maintained through the regular chanting of the holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”.

When that link is reestablished, every notable action of the Supreme Lord, whether it is occurring in the present or took place many thousands of years ago, gives so much pleasure to the devotee that they feel like they can’t get enough. Think of a reservoir of water that constantly gets filled with incoming tributaries but at the same time never overflows. This is how Maharishi Valmiki describes the mood of the devotee with respect to hearing of the qualities and pastimes of their beloved Supreme Lord.

The mood of anger shown a long time ago related to the actions of a demoniac king. Named Hiranyakashipu, the ruler actually appeared in a family of demons, thereby following in the ancestral line with his behavior. Birth in a Daitya family was not considered auspicious because of the lack of potential for developing the devotional consciousness within that race. In the Vedic philosophy there are gradations assigned to birth. These are only from the perspective of potential for achieving the ultimate aim of devotion to the lotus feet of Shri Hari, for the living sparks are the same in quality regardless of the form they adopt. The trees that produce no fruits are considered sinful, while those that do are considered pious. Similarly, within the human species if you take birth in a family of transcendentalists, it is considered a boon because of the spiritual environment that you can grow up in, which in turn increases the chances of a fruitful life.

HiranyakashipuBirth in a family of demons is very unfortunate because not only is spiritual culture lacking, but the tendency is to take to sinful life – stealing, cheating, killing and the like. By following these behaviors the spirit soul actually goes backward in the chain of reincarnation, sort of like travelling in the wrong direction in a race. Hiranyakashipu lived up to his family’s reputation and then some. He developed tremendous powers as a result of asking for boons from those who can grant them. Any ability can be exercised in one of two ways: correctly or incorrectly. The ability itself is not to blame, but rather the person who invokes it incorrectly.

Hiranyakashipu took his boons received from Lord Brahma as an opportunity to take over the world. He defeated so many powerful rulers that no one dared fight him in battle. The world lived in fear of him, and he thought that he was the supreme being. In his mind, there was no God, and if the person who everyone thought was God really were, He would descend to earth and put up a challenge to the king’s authority. The king’s eventual demise was set in motion with the birth of his son Prahlada. Though born in a Daitya family, the young child heard about devotional service while within the womb of his mother. The great servant of Narayana, Narada Muni, instructed the pregnant woman on devotion, and the unborn Prahlada heard and remembered those instructions. Thus he was born a devotee.

Hiranyakashipu hated this trait in his son so much that after a while the boy’s stubbornness became too much to bear. Despite his best efforts, Hiranyakashipu couldn’t convince Prahlada to give up his devotion to Vishnu, which is the name for God that addresses His all-pervasiveness. Vishnu was the king’s enemy, so seeing this devotion in his son was like getting a dagger through the heart. Unable to accept it any longer, Hiranyakashipu ordered his assistants to kill the five-year old boy.

One slight problem though. Prahlada was unbreakable. He was thrown off a cliff, put into a pit of snakes, taken into a raging fire, and dropped to the bottom of an ocean. The successive attempts were only necessary because the previous ones didn’t work. Prahlada couldn’t be harmed because during every attack he thought of his Vishnu in a mood of love. The child had no other protection. He didn’t have fighting ability or strength. No one intervened from the outside due to fear of Hiranyakashipu. Thus it was only Vishnu who saved the boy each time.

The anger from the Supreme Lord came when He had enough of Hiranyakashipu’s attempts. Vishnu took on the form of a half-man/half-lion to respect the boons of safety previously offered to Hiranyakashipu by Lord Brahma. This ferocious and unique form appeared on the scene and quickly killed all of Hiranyakashipu’s guards. Then the demon-king himself would be snatched by Narasimhadeva and placed on His lap, just as Garuda, the king of birds, grabs a snake to eat. Hiranyakashipu would be bifurcated by Narasimhadeva’s nails, thus dying in a most gruesome way.

Narasimhadeva killing HiranyakashipuAfter the demon king was killed, Narasimhadeva was still seething with rage. Many demigods tried to pacify Him with prayers, but nothing seemed to work. Finally, Lord Brahma asked Prahlada to approach Narasimhadeva. Prahlada was a young boy after all, and Vishnu was there specifically to save him. Thus He couldn’t keep that angry mood when talking to the young, innocent child.

Prahlada did as he was asked, and he wasn’t afraid at all. Rather, he was so delighted to see the Supreme Lord come to his rescue. He knew that the angry mood was for Vishnu’s own pleasure, which in turn pleased those who are devoted to Him. Prahlada then offered a wonderful set of prayers, which pleased Narasimhadeva so much that He offered Prahlada many material benedictions in return. Prahlada only wanted devotion, being afraid of material entanglement. Hearing this pleased Narasimhadeva even more, so He guaranteed Prahlada that he would get conditions auspicious for devotional service despite remaining in material association.

That wonderful event from ancient times is celebrated annually on the occasion of Narasimha Chaturdashi. Though there was tremendous violence involved, since it related to Bhagavan and His protection of the saintly Prahlada, it is as pleasurable to hear about as a more peaceful event. Prahlada knew there was nothing to fear with that ferocious form, as its anger was directed only at the miscreant Hiranyakashipu and his supporters. In this life the real cause of fear is the continuation of a life not devoted to God, one where temporary pleasures are mistakenly taken to be permanent. Know from Prahlada that devotional service is the life’s mission and that it can be adopted by any person, from any place. Whether in an outwardly angry or peaceful mood, the Supreme Lord will accept sincere devotional offerings and be pleased to the heart by them.

In Closing:

In a rage after killing Prahlada’s father,

Thus no one dared Narasimhadeva to bother.

 

“Dear Prahlada, so that the Lord’s anger can be eased,

Please approach Him, with your prayers He’ll be pleased.”

 

Brahma these instructions to young boy gave,

Because knew Narasimha came for Prahlada to save.

 

From prayers supreme favor of God did earn,

Received material benedictions in return.

 

But to Prahlada material life a great fear,

Away from lotus feet of God it would steer.

 

Narasimha explained and dispelled any doubts,

Prahlada, never divine love to live without.

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Rama Navami 2012

Posted by krishnasmercy on March 30, 2012

Lord Rama with Queen Kausalya“The most fortunate Kausalya looks charming as she sits on the beautiful bedstead holding the child Rama in her lap. Gazing upon His moon-like face again and again, she makes her eyes like a Chakora bird to His form.” (Gitavali, 7.1)

subhaga seja sobhita kausilyā rucira rāma-sisu goda liye |
bāra-bāra bidhubadana bilokati locana cāru cakora kiye ||

Rama Navami celebrates the appearance day of Lord Ramachandra, the delight of the Raghu dynasty, who has a moon-like countenance to please the Chakora-like devotees, who never tire of gazing upon His beautiful face, which wears an enchanting smile and gives off a soothing radiance that douses the fire of material suffering. In fact, it is the association with the divine that is the only remedy for all ills, for the root of pain and misery is forgetfulness of that supremely fortunate person, who holds every opulence at the same time and to the fullest degree; hence one of His many names is Bhagavan.

In general social etiquette, it is not polite to stare at others. The reason for this should be quite obvious. Would you like it if someone else was looking at you all the time? Perhaps you wouldn’t mind the attention if the sentiment was positive, but after a while, the instinctual reaction would be, “Hey man, quit looking at me! Can I help you with something?” Indeed, the gawking husband has been the painful burden of the devoted wife for ages, as the man can’t help but try to assess the attractiveness of another female when he first sees her. Of course this is very rude behavior towards the wife, for the desire to look at another woman indicates that the man might not be pleased with whom he has for a life partner.

Lord RamaOne sneaky way to get around the impoliteness of staring is to find situations where the person being looked at either doesn’t know what you are doing or is powerless to stop you. Thankfully for us, the creator made one situation which is favorable for staring and which also doesn’t violate any common standards of decency. The young child, especially the dependent, can be looked at nonstop, especially if they are really new to this world. Their vision can be so enchanting, making you really believe in a higher power, for how else to explain such innocence placed into a tiny bundle of joy? For a mother a long time ago, she couldn’t help but stare at her newborn. To make the situation that much more auspicious, the delight she held in her lap was the honoree of the soon-to-be instituted tradition of Rama Navami.

During a period of time in the Treta Yuga, King Dasharatha was at the helm of Raghu’s clan, the dynasty of kings originating with King Ikshvaku and which subsequently had the good fortune of including King Raghu as one of its members. The descendants in that line were thus often referred to as Raghava. A key for rulers in this family was to keep it going. If you have a famous family that is known for its ability to protect the citizens, to give them proper guidance in all matters of life and to keep out the influence of sin and vice, including that which comes from foreign attack, it’s important to keep that line of succession going. This way the citizens won’t have to worry when the king gets old. They can rest assured knowing that he will pass on his good reputation and character to his heir.

This was the problem for Dasharatha. He had no sons to whom to pass down the kingdom. After consulting with his royal priests, it was decided that a sacrifice would be held. The queens would eat the remnants of that sacrifice, and from that sanctified food they would become pregnant with child. Sure enough, everything went according to plan, except no one could predict the beauty and grace of the four children. The four sons born to Dasharatha were expansions of Lord Vishnu, the Supreme Personality of Godhead in His opulently adorned, four-handed form.

Dasharatha and familyThe eldest Rama was Vishnu Himself, and the three younger brothers were partial expansions. Queen Kausalya gave birth to Rama, Kaikeyi to Bharata, and Sumitra to Lakshmana and Shatrughna. The children were a delight for their mothers, and Rama was especially enchanting to everyone, including Dasharatha. There is much attention paid when a new child is born, and since these boys were to be successors in the ancestral line, there was even more celebration when they took birth.

Brahmanas were fed, cows were milked, and gifts were distributed quite liberally by the king. The townspeople felt as if the four boys were their own children, so they showed up to the royal palace with so many gifts. They also decorated their homes very nicely, creating auspiciousness all around. Whenever the Supreme Lord personally appears, there is automatically an auspicious condition, but these residents had pure love, so they didn’t take anything for granted. They prayed for the welfare of the four sons, that they would grow up to be brave, strong, pious, and just as dedicated to the welfare of all as Dasharatha.

Queen Kausalya had a special benefit, for she got to spend time with Rama alone. In those quiet moments, she got to stare at her young child, and there was nothing He could do about it. As one gets a little older, the smothering attention from the mother can become a bother. The child doesn’t know any better, as they can’t understand at such a young age what type of attachment the mother has formed with them. In the infant years, though, the child can only pleasantly smile in return when the mother constantly stares at them.

In the above referenced verse from the Gitavali of Goswami Tulsidas, we see that Dasharatha’s chief queen looked especially charming when seated on her wonderful bedstead. She held the Supreme Lord in her lap, for she earned His company from pious acts performed in previous lives. Can we imagine the happiness she felt? The most beautiful person in the world lay in her lap in a form that required motherly affection. He was in front of her in a special form that best brought out spontaneous, parental affection, loving feelings that were not inhibited in any way.

Kausalya with RamaOf course to try to understand Kausalya’s feelings at the time is a little difficult, so the kind poet gives us some help. He says that she made her eyes like those of the Chakora bird, which constantly stares at the moon. The Chakora has a pure love for the moon, for it looks constantly at the bright luminous body in the dark sky and doesn’t ask for anything in return. No other light gives it as much happiness, and when that moon is gone, there is no source of happiness that can replace it.

In a similar manner, Queen Kausalya’s only source of pleasure was Rama, and because of this she was considered most fortunate, or subhaga. How can she be described in any other way? Where we get our primary pleasure is what will determine how fortunate or unfortunate we are. The drunkard worships the bottle of whiskey and thus finds only distress amidst illusory and temporary elation. The gambler worships the game and the next roll of the dice, and the sensually stirred person hangs on the next move of their significant other, not realizing that the same type of pleasure is already available to the less intelligent animals. The voracious meat eater takes their pleasure from the flesh of animals that were needlessly killed.

Because these sources are not pure, those taking their primary pleasure from them will be in unfortunate circumstances. On the other hand, one who finds pleasure from the person who is the most fortunate, Bhagavan, can in many ways be considered more fortunate than God Himself. Lord Rama has the company of His devotees and His pleasure potency expansions like Sita Devi, but the Chakora-like devotees have the association of both Shri Rama and His associates. As they depend only upon Rama and His every move for their happiness, they are never bereft of the pleasure that is every person’s birthright.

On Rama Navami, we celebrate that very fortunate queen, who would love her son for the rest of her life. He would have to leave her company several times when He got older, but never did He leave her heart. She constantly gazed upon His moon-like face, and not at any time was the behavior impolite. On the contrary, the Chakora-like devotees know that devotion is the only auspicious path, and that through following it Rama will never abandon them, either in this life or the next.

In Closing:

In common circumstances impolite to stare,

To look at someone for too long we don’t dare.

 

In one situation that behavior is actually fine,

To stare at newborn, they are too young to mind.

 

Shri Rama created this for His loving mother,

She stared at Him in her quiet room, for God no bother.

 

So adorable was the Supreme Lord in the small size,

That mother like a Chakora bird made her eyes.

 

On Rama Navami the mother and son we celebrate,

To Lord and devotee’s pleasure this life we dedicate.

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