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Oppression

Posted by krishnasmercy on December 14, 2010

Lord Krishna with cows “The real independence of a living entity, who is part and parcel of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is to remain always dependent on the Supreme Lord, just like a child who plays in complete independence, guided by his parents, who watch over him.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 4.9.35 Purport)

The “oppressed”, whose cause is often championed by activists, are those deemed to be less fortunate and exploited by those in power. Based on the current makeup of society, women, minorities, and the poor are usually what constitute victims of oppression. While it is undoubtedly true that the natural yearning for freedom gets hindered by other entities, according to the Vedic angle of vision, there is not a single person who is independent. When the pure spirit soul is placed in the temporary and miserable world, it is given a suitable body. One who is embodied is referred to as dehinam in Sanskrit, which means “one who has accepted a material body and thus been put under the forces of nature”. For one who is embodied, the aim of life is to break free of the bondage imposed by the material body. This release can be granted only through adherence to dharma, or the laws of God as passed down through the Vedic system.

“This material nature is working under My direction, O son of Kunti, and it is producing all moving and unmoving beings. By its rule this manifestation is created and annihilated again and again.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.10)

Lord Krishna How is every person embodied? We can think of it in terms of being trapped in a specific set of clothes. The outer garments worn by the individual soul go through gradual changes, sometimes increasing in power, while at other times decreasing. The changes are guaranteed, and the person wearing the clothes has no say as to when and how the changes manifest. For the pure spirit soul, the individual spiritual spark residing within the body, there is no control over the workings of nature. Surely there is a minute amount of independence in how the soul interacts with its surroundings, but the results of such action are delivered by divine forces, those put into place by the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Krishna, and His deputies known as the demigods. Therefore anyone who possesses a temporary material body must be considered dependent on nature. No one is independent.

For the individual spirit soul, this realization is very difficult to come by. In the animal species, understanding these higher concepts is impossible. The animals live completely in ignorance, so they are incapable of sin or piety. Moreover, they engage strictly in the activities of eating, sleeping, mating, and defending. Human beings often look at other animals and marvel at their lack of intelligence. After all, a dog is willing to eat its own vomit. A pig will roll around in its own stool. For the human being, these are considered vile activities, but for the animal, there is no concept of good and bad. An animal simply acts off its instincts. It will eat whenever it wants to, and it will have sex with whichever animal is available.

The benefit of human life lies in the area of intelligence. The human being is capable of understanding piety and sin, right and wrong, and the temporary nature of life. Since a human being is wise enough to understand that it is mortal, it is also capable of inquiring about the Absolute Truth, that Divine Entity which never takes birth or dies. If the human being does not make this inquiry, then they are essentially no different than the animals. Therefore human life really begins with religion, or spirituality.

“Indeed, human life begins when religion begins. Eating, sleeping, fearing, and mating are the four principles of animal life. These are common both to animals and to human beings. But religion is the extra function of the human being. Without religion, human life is no better than animal life.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 1.1.2 Purport)

Shrila Prabhupada Oppression, racism, bigotry, and sexism are merely products of the animalistic way of life. A person who is not God conscious, one who is unaware that the Supreme Lord’s intervention is responsible for the workings of nature, will be a miser and want to hoard material possessions for themselves. This stingy mentality then leads to greed, an emotion which is kept ablaze through fierce competition. In this way, the natural penchant for cheating takes hold of the ignorant living entity. Oppression is simply a way for the strong to limit the influence of the weak. The actual parties involved can vary based on time and circumstance. In one era, one particular religious group can be the oppressors while the other group remains oppressed. In another era or geographic location, the roles can reverse.

Since women are generally weaker in terms of physical ability, they are prime candidates for subjugation and oppression. Again, this is simply the result of the animalistic mentality, a mindset which completely ignores spirituality. Sometimes, however, those who are unfamiliar with Vedic traditions and the purposes behind them will mistakenly believe that the Vedas call for the subjugation of women. After all, the Vedic tenets are that women should serve and honor their husbands and that they should not remain independent at any time. In actuality, these stipulations represent true benevolence and kindness. Moreover, they are completely in line with dharma and thus don’t need to be apologized for.

“One who is thus transcendentally situated at once realizes the Supreme Brahman. He never laments nor desires to have anything; he is equally disposed to every living entity. In that state he attains pure devotional service unto Me.” (Lord Krishna, Bg. 18.54)

Lord Krishna As mentioned before, the true benefit of human life lies in the area of intelligence. The most difficult concept for the individual to realize is that they are not their body and that they are spirit soul. After realizing these truths of life, the intelligent soul then takes to devotional service, their natural engagement. The soul is meant to be a servant of God, a pure lover of the Supreme Spirit. The Supreme Lord Krishna, or God, is meant to be loved. When the lover and the beloved are together, there is perfect peace and harmony. In fact, the definition of God includes the energy expansions who always serve Him. When the soul becomes liberated through constant loving association with Krishna, there is oneness.

The resulting oneness can be thought of in these terms: If we go to a rock concert, the band and the audience essentially become one when the band is playing music. The audience’s role is to make noise and sing along to the songs, and the role of the band is to supply the music. If either entity is missing, there cannot be a complete concert. Similar examples are seen in other areas of life such as with teachers and their students, and kings and their subjects. In the same way, the complete definition of God involves His loving servants. It is not that the servants assume the same role as the Lord, but rather through their service, there is a singularity in terms of the resulting condition. Therefore the Supreme Lord is always worshiped alongside His pleasure potencies: Sita and Rama, Radha and Krishna, and Lakshmi and Narayana. The Supreme Lord is the energetic and the pleasure potency expansions are His energy.

Radha and Krishna When the husband is devoted to Krishna and the wife devoted to the husband, there is a oneness in the marriage. This system is completely natural and not concocted by any philosopher, spiritual leader, or lawmaker. When both parties in the marriage abide by their duties, there is an ideal marriage, a singular entity that exudes perfect energy. The family is the backbone of society, the basic functional unit of a community, city, state, and country. The Vedic system is geared towards enabling every conditioned soul to achieve liberation by the end of their lifetime. Since every person is born with different qualities due to their past karma, not everyone can take to the same activities. The idea is that whatever qualities one does possess should be utilized for the pleasure of the Lord. The husband is deemed as the deva, or god, of the household. Yet this doesn’t mean that the husband is independent or free from nature’s subjugation. Rather, even the husband is required to take to kind and humble service to the Lord. No one in society is independent; everyone is a dependent of someone, with the topmost person, the leader of men, ideally being a servant of the Supreme Lord.

Under the current circumstances, the common practice is for women and men to be independent in their conjugal relations and their seeking of life partners. While this system may seem practical, it leads to many problems. For starters, there is little to no adherence to dharma while one is in a marriage. Since the bond of matrimony is held together by sense gratification, once the pleasure derived from the spouse’s company wears off, the relationship can dissolve. A marriage is not meant to be ended, for it is a life partnership that enables both parties to steadily increase their God consciousness. When there is a complete perceived independence exhibited by both parties, constant struggle results. Women are left to be exploited by men looking for simple sex life, and men are left to beg for measly sex life which is already available to the animals. For spiritual enlightenment, sex life should be strictly regulated. This is not simply to punish individuals, but rather to enable them to focus on the intelligence acquiring aspect of life.

Sita and Rama's weddingUpon hearing for the first time of how the Vedic marriage system is arranged, a misconception may arise as to the role played by the husband. One may think, “Oh that is certainly nice for the man. He simply is given a wife who will serve him no matter what. Sounds like a pretty good deal for the guy.” What’s ironic is that there is no independence for the man in this system either. For example, one of Lord Krishna’s most celebrated incarnations, Lord Rama, even had to ask His father before getting permission to marry Sita Devi, the exalted princess of Videha. Lord Rama obviously didn’t need to ask anyone for anything, but since He was committed to dharma and setting a good example, after breaking the famous bow of Lord Shiva’s and winning the hand of Sita in marriage, the Lord made sure to get His father’s permission prior to agreeing to the marriage.

“Though being offered to Rama, I was not accepted by Him at the time, for He did not know the opinion of His father Dasharatha, the King of Ayodhya.” (Sita Devi speaking to Anasuya, Valmiki Ramayana, Ayodhya Kand, 118.51)

Sita’s father, King Janaka, was so thrilled to get Rama as a son-in-law that he also gave away other princesses in his family to be married to Rama’s three younger brothers. Rama’s brother Lakshmana received Sita’s sister Urmila as a wife. Lakshmana and Rama were not looking for wives, nor were they in need of them. Yet through the Vedic system, which calls for adherence to dharma and dependence on religious principles at all times, marriage plays an integral role.

Goddess Katyayani - Durga Mata True independence only comes from dependence on the Supreme Lord. Women of the Vedic tradition exude the greatest qualities and the highest level of intelligence. They are by no means weak, nor are they subjugated. Though they are devoted to their husbands, they are completely comfortable in their relationships, knowing full well the laws of dharma and the supremacy of devotional service. Goddess Durga, who controls the material energy, is often worshiped and looked to as a role model for independent women. Yet Mother Durga is independent and powerful due to her dependence and devotion to her husband and to Krishna. Parvatiji is the most chaste and devoted wife, for she performed severe austerities to get Lord Shiva as a husband. Those who are enamored by the material energy are advised to worship her to make progress in spiritual life. Yet she would never agree to the idea of independence for men and women in their personal dealings or the idea of taking to material sense gratification as a way of life. She is the epitome of dharma and virtue.

“Anyone who quits his body, at the end of life, remembering Me, attains immediately to My nature; and there is no doubt of this.” (Lord Krishna, Bg. 8.5)

Lord Krishna As long as there is a material world, there will be oppression. One group may rise to power at a certain time, while at another time they will be oppressed. Peace and harmony in society can only be achieved through service to the Supreme Master, the all-independent and powerful Supreme Lord. Our activities should be geared towards achieving Krishna consciousness at the time of death. This will guarantee a return trip to the spiritual world in the afterlife. As long as one remains in the animalistic mode of life, there will always be cheating, greed, oppression, and subjugation. Through following the Vedic system of dharma, which calls for a strong family life secured through adherence to prescribed duties by both the husband and the wife, we can take great strides towards removing our ignorance. Regardless of our position, whether we are married, single, or in a relationship, the quintessential act of dharma for the people of this age is the chanting of the names of God, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”. We should take up whatever activities will help us perform devotional service and avoid those which hamper our devotional efforts. The Vedic system of marriage is intended to allow both parties to perform devotional service without impediment. If this condition can be sufficiently met, then the duties of marriage certainly should be adhered to.

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The Energy of Man

Posted by krishnasmercy on October 23, 2009

Sita, Rama, and Lakshmana leaving for the forest “Where Rama is, there is not fear, nor failure. That mighty-armed son of Dashratha is heroic. Let us, while he is yet ahead within a short distance of us, follow Raghava. Even the shadow of the feet of our master, so high-souled, would bring us happiness. He is the lord of all these, he is the refuge, he is the accomplishment of our religious duties. We and you, will serve Sita and Raghava." (Women of Ayodhya speaking to their husbands, Valmiki Ramayana, Ayodhya Kand Sec 48)

The Sanskrit word for husband is pati, which means lord or master. The husband is the master and the wife serves him. The husband in turn is required to provide complete protection to the wife, ensuring her happiness and security. This is the collective dharma of husband and wife and it is conducive to a happy marriage, and an equally happier destination in the afterlife.

People might take offense to these guidelines. “Women are just supposed to be slaves to the husbands? How is that fair? What if the husband is a reprobate?” On the contrary, the wife is to be anything but a slave to the husband. We generally equate the idea of serving someone with butlers and maids; people who work for us by cooking, cleaning, and attending to our every need. This is not the type of relationship suggested for a husband and wife.

Radha Krishna The wife is considered the better half. In the spiritual world, Lord Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is the energetic, while His eternal consorts, Radha, Lakshmi, etc. are considered His energy, hladini-shakti. This relationship is reflected in the material world in the form of the husband and wife. The husband is the energetic, and the wife’s duty is to sustain his energy by keeping him in check. This is a role that women naturally assume, for wives usually don’t hesitate to correct their husbands when they see them behaving improperly. To properly serve a husband actually means to make sure he is adhering to religious principles. Human life is not meant to be wasted on mundane sense gratification like cats and dogs do. We have a higher level of intelligence, so we should use it to cultivate God consciousness. Married life is referred to as the grihastha ashrama, so it is recognized as a religious institution. It was put in place by God so as to allow men and women to cohabitate peacefully, leaving time for tapasya and yajna. The best type of yajna is the chanting of the holy name of the Lord, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”. Constantly reciting this mantra, along with performing other aspects of devotional service, allows couples to make tremendous spiritual progress.

We sometimes see that men can fall down from the righteous path. They may take to intoxication or gambling, or maybe the pressures of work and family life can get the better of them. In these cases, it is the duty of the wife to serve her husband by getting him back on track. In fact, the highest service a person can provide to anyone else, be they a man or a woman, is to get them to become Krishna conscious. That is the point of human life, for one who thinks of God at the time of death is assured residence in God’s spiritual planetary system, where once going, one never returns. One who can arouse feelings of spiritual bliss in others is a true saint. Wives who keep their husbands dedicated to serving Krishna are truly serving their husbands.

Sita Rama This was the type of behavior exhibited by the women living in Ayodhya many thousands of years ago during the time of Lord Rama. Krishna comes to earth from time to time when there is a decline in adherence to dharma. As Lord Rama, He played the role of a pious prince, completely dedicated to the welfare of His dependents. Voluntarily accepting banishment from His kingdom, Lord Rama set off to live in the forest for fourteen years accompanied by His wife Sita Devi and His younger brother Lakshmana. The citizens of Ayodhya were greatly saddened by this event, for they loved Rama and were looking forward to Him being the new king. They were so frightened at the thought of being separated from Him that they decided to follow Him to the forest. In the above referenced statement, the women of Ayodhya are openly declaring their love for Rama. They want to follow Rama to the forest, and they are trying to encourage their husbands to come with them. In essence they are saying, “We perform all these religious rituals in hopes of attaining great spiritual rewards. Well, Lord Rama is that reward, and He is right in front of us. He is the object of our worship. It is our duty, as husband and wife, to follow Him and to constantly serve Him and His wife Sita.”

The Vedas are the original religion passed down from God Himself. Since every living person has different levels of intelligence and understanding, not everyone takes to the highest form of religion, bhakti yoga, at the beginning. For this reason, there are different divisions of the Vedas, with many sub-religions. The idea is that every person, whether they be situated in the mode of goodness, passion, or ignorance, should have a dharma which they can adhere to, which will allow them to make spiritual progress. On a strict material level, there are many samskaras and rituals prescribed for married couples to go through. These are just steps that allow one to hopefully one day come to the platform of pure love of Godhead. These women of Ayodhya had already reached that platform. With intelligence greater than that of any meditational or philosophical yogi, these women urged their husbands to follow the path of the highest dharma, bhagavata-dharma.

Lord Rama Lord Rama is one who gives pleasure to all. The name Krishna means “all-attractive”. We need only look to God for our happiness. A husband and wife who dedicate their life to His service will always be happy. In the end, the citizens of Ayodhya were unable to follow Rama and they had to wait fourteen years for His return. Nevertheless, these women of Ayodhya performed the highest service to their husbands by instructing them on the real meaning of religion. Thus, their adherence to dharma was perfect.

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Fidelity

Posted by krishnasmercy on October 4, 2009

Sita Rama "Those women that although having always tended by their husbands, do not regard them during the times of adversity are in this world reckoned as unchaste." (Kausalya speaking to Sita Devi, Valmiki Ramayana, Ayodhya Kand, Sec 39)

Chastity is considered a very important trait in a woman, even more so than in a man. If a woman is unfaithful to her husband, she receives greater scorn and ridicule from society than a husband would for being just as unfaithful. It is no doubt a double standard, but it is a fact that the adulterous activities of men don’t have the same stigma attached to them.

In America, most fifth grade students are introduced to literature through reading classic novels, with one of them being The Scarlet Letter. The basic plot of the novel is of a woman who gives birth to a child through an adulterous relationship. She wears a scarlet cloth on her gown in the shape of an uppercase letter A, standing for adultery. In this way, she is publicly ridiculed for her unchaste act. This was quite customary during the Puritan period, as adultery was never taken lightly, for it even led to punishment by death for some. The Vedas also have a very strict definition of adultery. Up until recent times, if an unmarried woman spent a night at another man’s house, she was considered unfit for marriage. In the past, the concept of boyfriend/girlfriend didn’t exist, and if a man did have a female lover who wasn’t his wife, that woman would be considered a prostitute.

The Scarlet Letter Adultery is never looked upon favorably in any religion. The Ten Commandments list adultery as one of the prohibited acts for man. The reasoning for this is pretty straightforward. Truthfulness and honesty are considered virtues. If someone is honest towards us, we know that we can trust them. Trust and fidelity form the basis of contracts and agreements, which allow for economies to function smoothly. Trust brings security, which leads to peace of mind, which leads to happiness. Marriages and friendships are relationships where trust is of utmost importance. If you can’t trust your friends, then who can you trust? The same principle holds true with our spouse. The husband or wife is our most intimate friend, someone we spend our nights with, the person we wake up next to in the morning. If we can’t trust them, then we might as well be sleeping with an enemy. People that trust each other and honor that trust at all times, they will have unbreakable bonds, whereas others will not.

When Lord Rama, the incarnation of God in the Treta Yuga, came to earth as the son of the pious king Dashratha, He was married to a beautiful and virtuous princess named Sita. An incarnation of Goddess Lakshmi, Sita Devi was completely devoted in thoughts, words, and deeds to Rama. Twelve years into a marriage which they were enjoying very much, the Lord was ordered to leave the kingdom of Ayodhya and live as a recluse wandering the forest for fourteen years. Sita Devi insisted on accompanying Him, and right before leaving, Rama’s mother Kausalya gave Sita some words of advice. The above referenced statement was a portion of her words of wisdom directed at her daughter-in-law.

The husband, Lord Rama, had hit upon hard times, so Kausalya wanted to remind Sita to stand by Him now more than ever before. Her basic point was that the chastity of a woman isn’t only determined by faithfulness relating to acts of physical love, but also by faithfulness of mind and spirit. As the saying goes, “A friend in need is a friend indeed”, the wife is the better half of the husband. In times of adversity, the husband relies on the support of the wife to get through the rough patches. For this reason, the shastras, or scriptures, declare that a wife should always support her husband no matter what, and by acting in this manner, she becomes free from all sins. Sins can be negated in one of two ways. If one acts according to one’s dharma, or duty, then all sins are nullified. The other way is to devote all of one’s activities towards pleasing God.

Lord Rama was God Himself, so by supporting her husband, Sita was transcending sin in both of the above mentioned ways. God is our original friend, someone with whom we’ve had an eternal relationship. We have come to forget about this relationship due to our contact with material nature. Becoming embodied in this world, we are forced to live by the governing qualities of goodness, passion, and ignorance. Instead of faithfully serving our Supreme Master, we have become accustomed to serving our senses, which are always pulling us in every which direction. This sort of behavior is the very definition of infidelity. God is by definition our master, and we are born to be His servants. Those honoring this relationship will bask in spiritual bliss for all of eternity, whereas others will be forced to repeat the cycle of birth and death.

Hanuman is Rama's faithful servant By chasing after material wealth and prosperity, we have become unfaithful to God. Playing the lottery, slot machines at casinos, and high stakes poker are all ways that we seek to get rich quickly. However, those who have attained wealth are still not happy, for people are always hankering after things they want, and lamenting over the things they don’t have. That is the nature of desire. We cannot become free of desires, but instead, we can shift the focus. We don’t need to artificially renounce things, for if we keep Krishna at the center of our lives, we can be engaged in all sorts of activities and still be faithful to the Lord. The great kshatriya warrior and cousin of Lord Krishna, Arjuna, fought valiantly in a war that saw millions of casualties, yet he incurred no sin since He was acting in accordance with his prescribed duties.

Sita Devi was always there for Lord Rama, no matter what the situation. She would later be kidnapped by the Rakshasa demon Ravana. Rama easily could have let that go, choosing to find another wife, but He instead decided to march to Ravana’s kingdom and rescue His wife. If we are faithful to God, then He will always be there for us, either in person or in spirit, through the good times and the bad.

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Making It Work

Posted by krishnasmercy on September 30, 2009

Shiva and Parvati with son Ganesha “The relationship between husband and wife is firmly established when the wife is faithful and the husband sincere. Then even if the wife, being weaker, is unable to execute devotional service with her husband, if she is chaste and sincere she shares half of her husband’s activities.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 6.19.18 Purport)

Along with releasing countless books each year, many famous marriage counselors appear on various television talk shows offering their services on how to fix problems in relationships. Each “expert” has their own specific theory on how to make a marriage work, but herein Prabhupada provides the definitive guide for all married couples to follow. Any advice or conclusion that deviates from these principles will inevitably lead to unhappiness and failure in a marriage.

The modern day definition of marriage is quite skewed from its original purpose. In most of the world today, men and women are free to intermingle. Even in the most traditional of countries such as India, many men and women are taking to dating before getting married. Indian marriages aren’t always of the arranged variety anymore. The concept of boyfriend and girlfriend is steadily engrained in the Western culture. Young children, even as young as twelve and thirteen years old, take to dating. As they get older and their relationships mature, it is usually the women who want to get married and have a secure lifestyle, while the men dread the idea of being tied down. Eventually, the institution of marriage is entered into as a mere formality, more of a legal definition than anything else. Many couples today even cohabitate for many years before getting married as a way of safeguarding any potential problems that might arise later on. Since these relationships are all based on the need for companionship and the satisfaction of sex desires, they tend to deteriorate after marriage. As the saying goes “Familiarity breeds contempt”, so the lifelong commitment of staying true to one person who you see day in and day out, leads people to have disagreements. These disagreements lead to anger, resentment and even hatred. The situation gets so bad that many relationships dissolve through the divorce process. In essence, the marriage ends up being nothing more than a piece of paper issued by the government.

Marriage of Sita and Rama The Vedas, the ancient scriptures of India, give us a completely different definition of the marriage system. We are all spirit souls at our core, but we have somehow or other been placed in this material world, forced to repeatedly accept new bodies after giving up our current ones. This is all due to karma, or our desires. The strongest desire in the material world is for kama, or sense gratification, and more specifically, sex desire. God is very kind and fair, and if we desire to have sex, he facilitates that desire by allowing us to take birth in the material world. Since sex desire is so strong, He put in place a system whereby man can control it. This system is known as marriage. As soon as a boy reaches the age of puberty, if he has a desire for family life, he is to be married immediately with a suitable girl. In this way, sex life is allowed, but in a regulated manner, only with one’s wife. There is no chasing after the love of your life, or wooing women that you fall in love with it. Marriages are arranged by parents, who compare the qualities of their children, their ancestral backgrounds, and their astrological charts.

If sex desire is curbed, people can focus clearly on the real mission of life, service to Krishna, or God. If one is sincere in their service, then after this life, they no longer have to take birth in this material world.

“That abode of Mine is not illumined by the sun or moon, nor by electricity. One who reaches it never returns to this material world.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 15.6)

The husband and wife should perform this service together if possible, by rising early in the morning and performing puja of the deity, and chanting the Lord’s name. By preparing nice foodstuffs to be offered to the Lord, and partaking of the prasadam, husbands and wives can become completely purified, and free of all sins. However, it is not always possible for both husband and wife to be purely God conscious. Not to worry though, as the Vedas declare that the husband and wife share equally in each other’s spiritual merits. So it is only required that one person be purely Krishna conscious. It is then the duty of the other person to make sure that this service is performed peacefully and regularly. In this way, the spiritual success of both parties is guaranteed.

Goswami Tulsidas There are two notable examples in this regard. Goswami Tulsidas, the great saint and poet, was married and very attached to his wife in his younger days. She once left home to visit her parents without telling Tulsidas. He couldn’t bear the separation so he travelled through a storm just to see her. She couldn’t believe the extraordinary steps he took, so she chastised him for not having the same devotion to Lord Rama. From that point on, he took to the renounced order of life, known as sannyasa. The world was better off for it since Tulsidas went on to author such classics as the Ramacharitamanasa and Hanuman Chalisa.

His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada had similar problems in his married life. His wife angered him so much that he also left home and took to sannyasa. It was only after retiring from family life that Prabhupada was really able to focus all his efforts on spreading Krishna conscious all over the world, especially in the Western speaking countries. He eventually founded the modern day Hare Krishna movement and also went on to author many books. In both these situations, we see that the wives weren’t perfectly Krishna conscious, yet they achieved the highest result in life since their husbands were pure souls.

To have a successful marriage today, one need only follow the examples set forth in Vedas. Lord Rama and His wife Sita had the perfect marriage, as did Savitri and Satyavana, and also Lord Shiva and Parvati. The Shrimad-Bhagavatam, Mahabharata, and Ramayana detail examples of great marriages that we can all learn from. Above anything else, the best relationship one can have is with Krishna. Regardless of one’s position in life, whether in a marriage, living with a boyfriend or girlfriend, or even living alone, following the system of devotional service is the only means of achieving true happiness. If one can have a pure loving relationship with Krishna, then all other relationships will be benefitted.

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Ties That Bind

Posted by krishnasmercy on July 29, 2009

Radha Krishna “One who can control his senses by practicing the regulated principles of freedom can obtain the complete mercy of the Lord and thus become free from all attachment and aversion.“ (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.64)

Marriage really changes people, sometimes for the worst, but mostly for the better. The idea of independence and freedom vanishes, for one has to constantly meet the needs of their spouse. One’s whole way of life changes, and though many marriages end in divorce, the institution itself has a positive impact on one’s character.

For men, marriage is often dreaded. The modern concept of having a bachelor party prior to a wedding is a way for the groom-to-be to have one more night of fun prior to tying the knot. Many husbands often jokingly refer to their wife as the “ball and chain”. Women generally have a different view of marriage. To them, it provides an added sense of security to their lives. Marriage allows women to have a stronger attachment to their men. Every girl dreams of the perfect wedding when they are little. They spend time thinking of the perfect arrangements, where to have the wedding, and what kind of dress they will wear. It is a very exciting event for them.

Either way, a successful marriage requires great effort from both parties. Sometimes the wife isn’t happy with things that the husbands says or forgets to say. Other times, the husband isn’t happy due to what he perceives as nagging and pestering from the wife. These are all issues that people learn to deal with through practice. Instead of doing whatever we want, we now must take into account the feelings of our spouse. The spouse is someone who lives with us, meaning we see them all the time. That makes it all the more important to make sure we have a friendly relationship with them, taking great care not to cause any enmity. Normally if we have a disagreement with one of our friends or colleagues, we can take a timeout period from them and then resume the friendship later on. We are not afforded that luxury in a marriage. Marriage means having to serve someone besides ourselves. Later on when children come into the picture, the responsibilities increase even more. Children require constant attention, leaving us no time for selfishness. In the long run, this is good for us. It teaches us to be detached from our own personal desires. This service makes us act even nicer to our other friends and family.

Similar to the demands of a marriage, the process of devotional service requires one to always attend to the needs of God. God actually doesn’t have any needs, but through His mercy, He allows us to voluntarily take up His service for our benefit. Lord Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is the reservoir of all pleasure. In this material world we are dedicated to serving our senses or the senses of others. This may give us temporary so called “happiness”, but real happiness comes from service to Krishna. This is our original constitutional position, so it is not unnatural at all. When we are dedicated to offering food to Krishna, hearing stories about Him, or talking about Him with others, we forget our own desires. As a result, we feel the highest form of bliss.

Federer focused Detachment brings about peace and happiness. If we are overly attached to material objects, we lose our composure and steadiness of mind. We see in professional sports that the most successful athletes are the ones that can stay focused even in the most pressure packed situations. People often joke that tennis great Roger Federer plays like a yogi, for he rarely loses his temper on court. While others throw rackets or verbally abuse umpires, Federer remains focused on the task at hand. For these athletes, the key to success lies in their detachment from the result of their activity. Winning and losing is important, but they don’t feel overly dejected from losing nor do they overly rejoice over victories. Not everyone can become a high class athlete or great mystic, but we can still practice detachment. The easiest way to break free from material attachments is to take up the process of devotional service.

“…it is undoubtedly very difficult to curb the restless mind, but it is possible by constant practice and by detachment.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 6.35)

In a marriage, when we serve our spouse, we are always checking to see if they are happy or whether they still love us. If we start to doubt their love, we get angry and disagreements arise. When we serve Krishna, His love for us is guaranteed and never needs to be doubted. We have trouble maintaining one wife or one husband, but Krishna can maintain millions of devotees at the same time. Knowing this, we can go on serving Him and always be assured that He’ll love us even more than we love Him. If we vow to always serve Lord Krishna with all our thoughts, words, and deeds, then we will become first class people.

Posted in detachment, devotional service, federer, krishna, marriage, offering food | Leave a Comment »

A Happy Home

Posted by krishnasmercy on June 25, 2009

Radha and Krishna together “The best process for making the home pleasant is Krishna consciousness. If one is in full Krishna consciousness, he can make his home very happy because this process of Krishna consciousness is very easy. One need only chant Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare, accept the remnants of foodstuffs offered to Krishna, have some discussion on books like Bhagavad-gita and Shrimad-Bhagavatam, and engage oneself in Deity worship. These four will make one happy. One should train the members of his family in this way. The family members can sit down morning and evening and chant together” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bg 13.8-12 Purport)

In today’s society, especially in Western countries, divorce is a very common practice resorted to by couples having problems in their marriage. Due to the high divorce rate, many churches will not allow people to get married in their church unless they undergo a series of counseling sessions. This course, known as “Pre-Cana”, is given as a way of helping ensure the solvency of the marriage. Couples are taught about the institution of marriage, what to expect, and how to get along with each other. The concepts of shared love, responsibility, and conflict resolution are discussed along with other topics. Many local governments also provide similar instructions to couples when they apply for marriage licenses. Many people even go so far as to sign prenuptial agreements, hoping that this will prevent their spouse from potentially coming after their assets through the divorce system.

While these attempts are very nice and well intentioned, we see that many couples still end up divorcing even after going through such extraordinary preventative measures. In actuality, the concept of divorce is a modern man made creation. According to the Vedas, a marriage is a bond between a man and a woman that exists for life. Even if the husband takes to the renounced order of life, sannyasa, he is still considered married to his wife.

In the Vedic tradition, boys are married as soon as they have any inkling for sex life. The same holds true for girls. In this way, sex life is allowed, but only in a regulated manner inside of a marriage. There is no concept of boyfriend/girlfriend or the free association between men and women. Marriage occurs through the arrangement of the parents. A girl’s parents will compare the qualities of their daughter with that of the potential son-in-law. Both families compare each other’s lineage to make sure that the family traditions and values match up. Married life is known as the grihastha ashrama. In the Vedic system of varnashrama dharma, a person’s life is to be divided into four successive stages, each of which is conducive to achieving God realization. Grihastha is the second stage of life where ones lives as a householder with one’s spouse and children. It immediately follows the stage of celibate student life, known as brahmacharya. Household life requires the wife to serve all the needs of the husband, and for the husband to provide full protection for his wife. This allows for a peaceful life where both parties can make spiritual advancement simultaneously.

Disagreements naturally occur, but no thought is given to divorce. Both parties understand from the beginning what their role is. In the modern system of love marriages, the wife is always asking herself if the husband still loves her. The husband is always asking himself if his wife is devoted to her. Much effort is taken to maintain the “romantic spark”. For couples in the Vedic system, these questions don’t arise since there is a sense of duty that exists from the very beginning. Both the husband and wife are working towards a cause higher than themselves.

Whether it is a love marriage or a Vedic style marriage, the best way to ensure a successful household life is for both husband and wife to constantly chant the holy names of God together.  Married couples should rise early, perform deity worship, chant together, and then eat prasadam. The same process can be repeated in the evening. Even the children can get involved. Young children are the essence of innocence, as they haven’t developed many of the inhibitions that adults have.  Thus, they will take very nicely to serving the Lord by accompanying the parents in their chanting and offering of prayers and prasadam. Such activities will prove more valuable to children than watching television or playing video games.

Bhagiratha praying for the Ganga to descend to earthAccording to the Shrimad-Bhagavatam, one should not be a king, a teacher, or a parent unless they can deliver their dependents from the repeated cycle of birth and death. People may have children for other reasons, many of which are very noble, but the highest service a parent can perform for a child is to make them Krishna, or God conscious. This will ensure that their child’s birth will be their last one. Even the parents are benefitted from such a situation, since a truly devoted person can deliver many previous generations of family members. The great sage Bhagiratha brought Mother Ganga, the Ganges River, down from heaven to earth, thus delivering five previous generations of family members, including the sixty thousand sons of King Sagara.

If we water the roots of a tree, then automatically the branches and leaves are also fed. In the same way, if we provide nice service to Lord Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, then the needs of our friends and family are satisfied at the same time. If a husband and wife work together for the highest cause, then they will always be happy and secure in their marriage.

Posted in bhagiratha, chanting, deity worship, ganga, grihastha, krishna, marriage, varnashrama dharma | Leave a Comment »