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Using All Your Intellect

Posted by krishnasmercy on March 1, 2014

[Krishna books]“Of these, the wise one who is in full knowledge in union with Me through pure devotional service is the best. For I am very dear to him, and he is dear to Me.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.17)

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Bhagavad-gita, 7.17Question: “In the history of religion in Europe and parts west, for the longest time science, intellectualism, and philosophy were considered taboo. You basically had to accept whatever the church thought, attend the various functions, and resign yourself to the fact that you were the lowliest sinner who ever walked the planet. The Enlightenment period followed by the breakthroughs of modern science did much to tarnish the image of established religion in these regions, for past ideas were discredited through discovery and application of the intellect. Where does the intellect come into play in bhakti-yoga? What about scientific discovery?”

The term “bhakti-yoga” can be translated in so many different ways. His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, himself a true renaissance man, preferred the English translation of “devotional service.” He also coined the term “Krishna consciousness,” for the devotion in bhakti is meant exclusively for God. One of God’s many names is Krishna, which means “all-attractive.” Full attractiveness is for an object that is animate, and animation thus means that the object of service in bhakti is a distinct personality.

[Shrila PrabhupadaAs consciousness is the true objective of bhakti-yoga, which is considered the culmination of all religious practice, anything can be used in forming it. Science and intellect are but aspects of nature, after all. If my goal is to eat to my satisfaction for dinner tonight, whatever ingredients exist in nature are at my disposal. I can utilize flour, sugar, butter, fruits, vegetables, etc. The objective is to eat, which brings a certain taste.

Krishna consciousness also has a taste, and it can be generated through the temporary body that we possess. We didn’t order this body. We didn’t go to the store and pick it out. We didn’t sit naked as a spirit soul and beg for someone to bring us a covering. It came to us through nature’s arrangement. In this way we know that we are inferior to nature. Even the person who denies the existence of God at least acknowledges the higher power of nature. Their supreme authority is the nature which always controls them.

[Science magazine]The arrangement of nature delivers our body. In this body we have an intellect, which is sharpened through knowledge. One form of knowledge gathering is experiment. Come up with a theory, run a test, and then study the results. This works for any type of knowledge, not simply that relating to the physical world. To say that science is forbidden in a practice meant to please the original controller of nature is quite silly. Indeed, the majority of knowledge acquired throughout the time in life is from practical realizations, where very small, informal experiments take place on a regular basis.

As intellect and experiment can be used to be conscious of God, they can also be used to forget Him. It may have been that such prohibitions in the past were implemented with this fear in mind. Nevertheless, the person who is fully knowledgeable actually takes the greatest delight in devotion. In the Bhagavad-gita, the personality Krishna says that four types of people initially approach Him. There are those who want money, those who want relief from distress, those who are inquisitive, and those who are already knowledgeable. It is this last group which becomes most dear to Krishna, for they are free of all material desires.

“Free from all contaminations of material desires, the distressed, the inquisitive, the penniless, and the seeker after supreme knowledge can all become pure devotees. But out of them, he who is in knowledge of the Absolute Truth and free from all material desires becomes a really pure devotee of the Lord.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 7.17 Purport)

[Lord Krishna]For reaching the goal of God consciousness, one is fully encouraged to exercise their intellect.

“Question everything so that when you are sure that there is more to life than just sense gratification you will be ready to take up devotional service to God in earnest. Blind faith may help you for a while, but if you aren’t fully convinced of the authority, glory, and superiority of bhakti-yoga, you won’t get the full taste from it.”

We can look to some early experiments in the history of electricity to see how science can be used to help one better understand God. For the longest time, it was believed that lightning was a direct attack from God on those who are sinners. In one sense, there is some validity to the punishing aspect, but in the Vedas the clearer explanation is provided. The material nature operates within three modes and inflicts three types of punishment. These exist for every person living here, regardless of time or place. The results are administered by godly personalities in charge of the material elements, and those results arrive accordingly with karma, or action and reaction.

When such facts aren’t known, one has no choice but to speculate. Therefore previously the consensus opinion amidst the less intelligent was that lightning was directly coming from God and that it intended to hit its targets. A printer living in America in the 18th century was spending much of his retirement conducting scientific research. He was fascinated with electricity, of which little was known at the time. He proposed the idea that lightning and electricity were one and the same. He devised some tests that could be used to see if this was true, as he had seen how pointed objects attracted electricity and carried the electrical charge through a wire that was grounded. He proposed several experiments that could be done with lightning to test this theory. These experiments were proven in France and later on by himself in the most famous flying of a kite in history.

[Franklin lightning rod]When the theory was proven, the people of France in particular rejoiced. They then put up lightning rods on their buildings, especially on the taller ones. Previously there were church bells rung whenever there was a lightning storm, as the hope was that the sound would ward off the storm or that the bell would alert others to seek safety. Lightning was causing a bit of a problem, as many tall buildings had been damaged through lightning strikes. So many of the men ringing the church bells also perished, for no one realized that since the church towers were often the highest buildings in the area, they had the best chance of being hit by the lightning. The lightning rod thus helped to save so many lives.

There was some who were not happy about this, however. One notable personality wrote that the lightning rod was now going against God’s desire to punish people with His lightning. The soon to be even more famous printer from America responded that the same offense would have to be made by any person who ever erected a roof, for rain is also God’s will. If one seeks shelter from rain, why would they not from lightning?

"Surely the Thunder of Heaven is no more supernatural than the Rain, Hail or Sunshine of Heaven, against the Inconvenience of which we guard by Roofs & Shades without Scruple." (Benjamin Franklin, Letter to a friend, 1753)

Though this scientific discovery disproved common church teachings at the time, it can be also helpful in so many ways in understanding God. One can use the lightning rod to aid them in their devotion, in the same way that the roof on top of the temple allows the residents to continue to always contemplate the beautiful features belonging to the Personality of Godhead. The resourcefulness of the printer shows that man has advanced intelligence, more so than the animals. That intelligence can be used to do good. The greatest good is to allow the mind to always think of God. Despite all the obstacles, even those which are sometimes offered by organized religions, one can figure out a way, through applying their intellect, to stay devoted.

Bhagavad-gita, 15.6“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)

[Lord Krishna]By knowing that lightning is electricity, one can also more fully appreciate the Supreme Lord and His potencies. Lightning is but a small representation of His immense strength. The collective material nature indeed is more powerful than the lightning, and that nature is also a rather insignificant energy of God’s. In the Bhagavad-gita it is said that in Krishna’s eternal abode electricity is not needed; the realm is self-illuminating. Thus through applying the intellect, gathering transcendental knowledge from Krishna Himself, and understanding everything in terms of the larger picture, one can ascend to the realm of self-illumination to always bask in the sweetness and intelligence of the original author of everything.

In Closing:

To avoid science should we try?

Or the intellect we should apply?

 

Of the four who to Krishna first go,

The wise are the most dear to Him so.

 

So your full intellect and observation use,

Blessed are the intelligent who devotion choose.

 

But with material energy time best not spent,

To land of self-illumination devoted souls are sent.

www.krishnasmercy.org

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A History of Knowledge Transfer

Posted by krishnasmercy on February 14, 2014

[Prabhupada books]“For one who explains the supreme secret to the devotees, devotional service is guaranteed, and at the end he will come back to Me.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 18.68)

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[Bhagavad-gita, 18.68]Question: “Why is it so important to have association with devotees, people who have dedicated their lives to serving the Supreme Personality of Godhead? Why is it important to hear from them?”

When we emerged from the womb, we were not talking right away. We could not verbalize our feelings to the adults, most of whom made funny faces and strange noises as they looked at us with love. We couldn’t speak out what we wanted to eat, when we wanted to sleep, or where we wanted to go. Communication had to be learned, as did the process of reasoning and making rational decisions. To learn about the Absolute Truth, that which goes beyond this temporary life amidst temporary objects and fleeting attachments, has the same requirement. It must be learned. The issue is where to go and whom to approach. The Vedas recommend that we approach a saintly person, who is generally found in a holy place of pilgrimage. If we consider the history of knowledge transfer, the logic behind this recommendation becomes quite clear.

[Search engine results]Let’s say you’re in school today and you get an assignment to write about something like the history of computers. Where will you go? Based on the advancements in technology, you might not even have to leave the classroom. Just take out your smartphone that your parents purchased for you for emergency contact purposes, and pull up the internet browser. Then provide the words “history of computers” into the search engine. Then you get a series of hits. You could spend days and days studying the information this way.

No less than twenty years ago the process was different. The internet was not readily available. There weren’t so many computers around, and even if you happened to own one, you didn’t have anywhere to navigate to in order to get information to complete assignments for school. Your best bet was the library. Open to the public, you could go there and flip through the card catalog to find the books that matched your subject of interest. You could read any of those books while in the building. As that isn’t always practical, you could take the books home with you in what was called a “check out.” The library people knew where you lived, so if you didn’t return the book in time, you were charged a fine. As the length of the violation increased, so did the fine.

[Library card catalog]Now go back even further in time, say two hundred years or so. A young printer in the city of Philadelphia had formed a club with his friends. The goal of the club was to seek knowledge, with a strong stipulation being that no prejudice be given to religion or religious doctrine. Blind faith was not the order, as that could be found at the local churches, of which there were enough for each of the major denominations. The members of this club would meet every week and periodically submit essays for argument based on the books they had read.

The person who started this club, which was called the Junto, realized that it was a little cumbersome to have each person own their own copies of the books on the reading list. This was because books weren’t so prevalent in those times. There wasn’t a big-box retailer who carried every title known to man and could deliver it with free two-day shipping. Bookstores were scant, and so just acquiring the books on the list was difficult.

The leader and founder of the club came up with a scheme: book sharing. The members would share books. In order for this to work, there had to be a place to house the books, and there had to be plenty of books. Hence came the idea of a subscription library. People of the community would contribute to the project, and the books would be housed in a specific location. The members could then “check out” the books, and would be charged a fine of double the price of the book if they failed to return it. Hence the path was cleared for the modern day system of public lending libraries.

[Ben Franklin's library company]Now go back before this time, a few hundred years again. If you were interested in the real truth, such as the origin of everything, where would you go? Say you were interested in understanding the meaning of life. You wanted to know why we take birth and why we die. You were particularly interested in the highest philosophy, something that goes beyond just worship of an abstract figure insisted on out of fear of eternal damnation in a very hot place.

There was nowhere to turn but the saints of the Vedic tradition. They carried this information with them. The books of the highest knowledge, such as the Bhagavad-gita, Shrimad Bhagavatam, and Ramayana remained in temples devoted to the Lord. The knowledge was encoded in the Sanskrit language, so even if someone were to get their hands on these books, they would have a difficult time understanding them. It was the saints who really knew the information. It was they who could describe it to others.

And so we see why association with saintly people is so important. The Absolute Truth is above any art. Community projects, social improvement, and promotion of the general welfare are arts, for conditions in society change all the time. What works in one area of the world may not in another. There is the time factor to consider as well. Computer programming is an important field today, but one hundred years ago it had no relevance whatsoever.

Shrila PrabhupadaKnowledge of the Absolute Truth is always important. Therefore the association of the saints who know the Absolute Truth has a value that cannot be measured. With the evolution of knowledge transfer, that same valuable information is now passed on in other forms, but the effect is the same. The association is still there, and it is what counts most. His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada put so much emphasis on the printing and distribution of his books for this very reason. That which was previously hidden in remote areas and thus available to only a fortunate few, now could be disseminated to the societies at large, to multiple nations and in multiple languages.

If you were a truth seeker living in the eighteenth century or before and residing far away from the saints of the Vedic tradition, you really had no chance for finding true knowledge. The best you could do was speculate and hope to find derivatives of the summit of knowledge known as Vedanta in other works that you read. Now today the world is very fortunate, for the number of books glorifying the Supreme Lord and His personal form has increased. There is also an army of selfless servants of the acharyas, leaders in the spiritual movement of divine love, who try to distribute transcendental knowledge to as many people as possible. Thus the association comes even if we’re not purposefully seeking it out, making even the people of Kali, who are generally unfortunate and short-lived, very blessed indeed.

In Closing:

On internet for class assignment given,

In past to library by mom would be driven.

 

And then go back centuries before,

To find real knowledge a difficult chore.

 

Saints have provided an easier way,

To know Absolute Truth now and today.

 

Continuously working, intellect’s hunger to feed,

Thus even Kali’s population becoming fortunate indeed.

www.krishnasmercy.org

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Merging Into Transcendence

Posted by krishnasmercy on September 27, 2013

Altar for worshiping Krishna“The work of a man who is unattached to the modes of material nature and who is fully situated in transcendental knowledge merges entirely into transcendence.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.23)

Bhagavad-gita, 4.23Question: How can I continue to work in the material world and remain unattached? I don’t know how my knowledge of God will increase if I have to continue to work for a living. How am I supposed to find transcendence if I have all of this other stuff to do?

Developing Krishna consciousness, which is the original consciousness, is not easy for one who is conditioned. By definition, one who takes birth in the material world is considered conditioned. They operate under the rules imposed by the higher nature. There are hurricanes, earthquakes, diseases, military conflicts, and depression to contend with. The spirit soul is by nature free, so these things aren’t natural for it. When they are present, the same pure spirit soul is considered conditioned. To break out of the conditioned state and reach a liberated one is not impossible, though it may take some time.

Consider the following hypothetical scenario:

Contact lens case“My left eye is so blurry. It seems to be okay during the day, when I have my contact lenses on, but at night when I take them off it’s almost impossible to see. This is even with my eyeglasses on. I basically have to watch television with one eye. In the morning it seems to be okay, but if I use the computer for a little while, suddenly the eye gets blurry very quickly. When I’m wearing contact lenses, I can see okay.

“But lately even with the contact lenses on it’s been difficult to see. It feels like the lenses are losing their moisture very quickly. Something is definitely wrong. I tried going a few days without contacts, and the blurriness remained. Finally, I went to see an eye doctor. Right away they gave their diagnosis. I have ‘dry eye.’ Through so many years of contact lens wear and having spent so many hours in front of the computer, my eye has developed a problem. It is not getting enough moisture. The doctor has told me to stop wearing contact lenses immediately and to take these prescription eye drops twice a day. Then he’ll monitor the situation again after some time has passed.”

Fast forward a month…

Restasis“The problem still isn’t getting better. I have good days and bad, but I still have trouble seeing out of my left eye. Do you know how annoying it is to have only one functioning eye? I’ve been taking the drops, but there are no discernible results. The eye doctor says that my vision is improving and that I should give it a little more time. What other choice do I have?”

Fast forward another month…

“Wow, I can finally see again. I don’t know what happened. Maybe it was a gradual change, though it seemed like a long period of no progress followed by a sudden cure. My left eye is very clear now. I don’t even need to wear my glasses most of the time now. I can see just fine. I guess I just needed to allow the prescription drops to work their magic. I am so happy right now.”

For one who follows the path of transcendental knowledge, when remaining steady eventually the work merges into transcendence. This is what Shri Krishna says in the Bhagavad-gita. Krishna is God, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He is Bhagavan, which is the complete realization of God. The invisible man in the sky who may or may not look old and punish the sinners is a vague concept. The spiritual energy that pervades the manifest world is also an incomplete realization. The localized spirit soul that is superior to the individual spirit soul within each body is also an incomplete realization. These features are subordinate to Bhagavan, who is the complete whole.

MusicTranscendence is the opposite of conditioned life. When your work merges into transcendence, it means that you are no longer materially affected by what you do. If I repeatedly sing a certain song all day long there are material consequences. My mind could eventually get sick of the song. I might neglect my other duties. I could develop an attachment to the words. Therefore the content of the song suddenly becomes important. If it’s about chasing women at all costs, I will be more driven towards something that is the opposite of transcendence.

On the other hand, if I always chant, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare,” I’m doing the same kind of work but getting an entirely different result. The name of Krishna is the same as Krishna. The name Rama addresses the same Krishna, but describes Him in a slightly different way. The name “Hare” also refers to Krishna but more specifically to His devoted energy potency, who though remaining a separate personality is still considered the same as Krishna because of the shared interest.

Smashed tennis racketChanting the aforementioned mantra is part of work in bhakti-yoga, or devotional service. Bhakti-yoga is itself transcendence, but in the beginning one may still be attached to the material modes of nature. These are the modes of goodness, passion and ignorance. In ignorance I do stupid things without thinking and don’t get any benefit as a result. Think of the tennis player who smashes their racket in frustration. This is a stupid act because the racket is an inanimate object that is not culpable in the poor performance of the player. In passion I work hard to get a temporary result that doesn’t give me lasting satisfaction. Think of the team that wins the championship and then gets asked about the next season during the trophy presentation. They spent all this time working to reach the pinnacle of success for the season, and in an instant all of that is forgotten. They are right back where they started. Thus a neutral position is reached.

In goodness, I follow mundane principles of piety and religion in order to find a more comfortable position in life. I do things because they are considered “good for me,” though I don’t really know why. I worship God, or some kind of heavenly figure. I follow the rules and regulations of spiritual life. I understand that I am a spirit soul, part of the non-differentiated energy known as Brahman. Still, in my comfortable life in piety I am quite attached. I like where I am and where I am going.

Bhagavad-gita, 14.6“O sinless one, the mode of goodness, being purer than the others, is illuminating, and it frees one from all sinful reactions. Those situated in that mode develop knowledge, but they become conditioned by the concept of happiness.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 14.6)

One who is unattached to these three modes is attached to Krishna. They could be in a hellish place and still worship the Supreme Lord. They could be engaged in fruitive activity, where it looks like they are working for a temporary result, but still thinking of their beloved Krishna all the time. They could be studying the Vedas, the original books of knowledge, and becoming familiar with the principles of jnana and vairagya, knowledge and renunciation, and still be thinking of Krishna the whole time.

Thinking of KrishnaIn the beginning stages of practicing bhakti-yoga, one likely isn’t situated in transcendental knowledge. This knowledge is difficult to absorb because it’s so different from anything else that is taught. And still, through enough dedication, knowledge will come. And when there is no attachment to the three modes accompanying this realization of transcendental knowledge, the work performed merges entirely into transcendence.

In the beginning stages it didn’t seem like this, but just as the eye took some time to heal, the formula of chanting and hearing the holy names and following bhakti-yoga in general eventually yields the best result. To merge into transcendence means to transcend the dualities of the material nature, which makes us think that one person is our friend and another our enemy. It makes us think that one kind of job is better than another and that birth in a particular situation is superior to birth in another. In transcendence, the Supreme Lord’s unmistakable presence is seen everywhere, and since He is all-attractive, seeing Him all the time brings the most pleasure to the individual spirit soul.

In Closing:

No progress in treatment to feel,

Still blurry, my eye not to heal.

 

Finally can see, no longer afraid.

Because on treatment path I stayed.

 

Transcendence to work the same way,

Work merges when holy names to say.

 

Effects of material nature no more,

Mind only charm of Krishna to adore.

www.krishnasmercy.org

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Understanding Reincarnation

Posted by krishnasmercy on July 8, 2013

Lord Krishna“There is no work that affects Me; nor do I aspire for the fruits of action. One who understands this truth about Me also does not become entangled in the fruitive reactions of work.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.14)

Bhagavad-gita, 4.14

Question: “I don’t agree that birth indicates that the previous life was a failure. It doesn’t make sense to me because isn’t Krishna reincarnated? Is He a failure then?”

Understanding the Supreme Personality of Godhead is very difficult through mental speculation alone. In fact, it is impossible, as we are limited by the concepts of time and space, both of which are infinite. Travel back in time with your mind and you’ll never reach an end; you’ll never hit a wall, so to speak. The same holds true with travelling forward. That is the meaning to infinity; there is no end. Add to the equation the fact that we can’t remember the past, even that which is pertinent to only our own lives, and you see how it is not possible to have a full range of perception. With a lack of information, how can we ever know someone who, by definition, is the complete whole?

Infinite spaceWithout authorized information, knowledge that we first accept on authority and then realize through practical application, we will think that God is totally like us. Possibly we won’t understand that He is a personality and that He has spiritual forms. We may think that He is just an energy or a theoretical concept. “Like utopia is a concept where everyone gets whatever they want, whenever they want, so too God must be this idea of a perfect being. If there are ever godly figures on earth, they must operate under the same strict laws of nature that apply to everyone else.”

The Bhagavad-gita tells us otherwise. In this work the first teaching presented is that the living spirit is not their body. Spirit is not matter. Spirit is not the hands, the legs, the face, the stomach, or the ears. Spirit is not the tall building or the computer. Spirit is the vital force that animates the different collections of matter. Why the need to mention the distinction? Why the need to bring this up right away in a book of higher knowledge?

We don’t really know spirit without first hearing about it. We identify with the body that we accept from the time of birth. We identify others based on their bodily features as well. We tend to not think beyond what is immediately visible. Because of this we lament over things that we shouldn’t and overly rejoice over that which isn’t so much of a thing to rejoice over. For instance, we are extremely saddened when others die, forgetting the fact that the vital force within never dies. This must be the case because different parts of the body can malfunction and not cause death. Therefore why should the entire machine’s malfunction indicate that the spiritual force is finished.

Bhagavad-gita, 2.25“It is said that the soul is invisible, inconceivable, immutable, and unchangeable. Knowing this, you should not grieve for the body.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.25)

Bhagavad-gita As It IsIf the soul is eternal, why is there birth and death? From the Bhagavad-gita we learn that just as one takes off clothes and puts them on, so the spirit soul accepts different bodies and then puts on new ones after they are discarded. This occurs both while one is currently “alive” and after they pass on. The term “alive” applies only to our visible reference. We say the sun is out today, but the sun is always out. Sometimes we may not see it because of the cloud cover, but this is our defect, not the sun’s. In the same way, we say that someone is alive because they are visibly manifest before us, but this has no bearing on their existence.

What causes birth and death?

The Bhagavad-gita is a perfect summary of Vedic teachings. The Vedas are the oldest books of knowledge in the universe. They have no inception date because they come from God. Part of the definition of God is an eternal existence, where all the personal features are the same in quality as the individual they belong to. This is not the case with us, as our body decays and is replaced by a new one. This constant change occurs through what is known as reincarnation. In the Vedas it is said that reincarnation occurs only for individual souls who do not want to be with God. The desire is flawed, and so the commensurate residence is flawed as well.

Changing BodiesFrom this we understand that birth indicates a failure from the previous life. In the Bhagavad-gita, it is said that whatever state of being one remembers at the time of death, that state they will attain without fail. Putting two and two together, we see that since we attained a human state in the present life, we did not think of a divine state during the previous death. We know there was a previous death because the soul is eternal. We were somewhere else yesterday, though to someone else they might not have known that we existed yesterday. The outsider’s lack of knowledge of a previous existence has no bearing on the existence itself.

Bhagavad-gita, 8.6“Whatever state of being one remembers when he quits his body, that state he will attain without fail.” (Lord Krishna, Bg. 8.6)

We may not like the fact that we weren’t perfectly God conscious in the previous life, but just as there is no use in dwelling on past mistakes for too long, in the present life we can use knowledge of the past failure to change our ways. Why not take the current birth as a blessing? No need to be offended by the truth presented in the Vedas; just make the most out of the present opportunity. The animals don’t have this opportunity. They must travel through the spiritual evolutionary chain in order to reach the human life. And then they must be fortunate enough to hear the truths mentioned in the Bhagavad-gita. And then they must be non-envious enough to want to accept the information. And then they must be firm enough to follow through on those teachings. Only then will the life end successfully.

Lord KrishnaConviction in knowledge of the truth about birth and death is further strengthened by knowing more about Krishna, which is the name for God that means all-attractive. Krishna is also the original personality, the detail behind the fuzzy picture of a Supreme Lord painted by reliance on mental speculation alone. Krishna describes Himself in the Bhagavad-gita. He says that He does not take birth. He does not die, either. Only the fool thinks He goes through reincarnation. Krishna appears in His own transcendental forms, by His own sweet will.

Reincarnation is driven by work, or karma. Krishna says that He is not under the influence of karma. This is clearly stated in the Bhagavad-gita [4.14]. Anyone who says otherwise either has never read the Bhagavad-gita properly or has intentionally decided to ignore its teachings. In either case, the result is the same: forgetfulness of God. With this forgetfulness there is no chance of a truly successful end to life. On the other hand, one who knows that Krishna is not bound by fruitive results to work also is able to transcend the same results. In simpler terms, if you really know Krishna, you will not be under the influence of karma.

How does that manifest exactly? Someone who knows Krishna doesn’t die?

Actually, the changes to the body still take place, but the results are dictated by Krishna Himself. Normally, responsibility for distributing fruitive results is relegated to higher authorities in charge of nature, but in the case of those who know Krishna, the Supreme Lord Himself takes responsibility. The people who know that Krishna is not affected by karma are known as devotees. Since they know this, they follow devotional service, or Krishna consciousness, which is best practiced in the modern age by chanting the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. Those who chant this mantra with full knowledge of the Supreme Lord’s position above karma happily exit their body at the end of life, confident of what awaits them.

In Closing:

As into human body soul to proceed,

Know that in previous life didn’t succeed.

 

Whether in spiritual form is the test,

For Krishna’s land is destination the best.

 

Over past failure don’t fret,

In this life Bhagavad-gita wisdom get.

 

Hear how reincarnation takes shape,

Then shift activities to plan for escape.

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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The Nature of Evidence

Posted by krishnasmercy on November 5, 2012

Krishna's lotus feet“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)

Question: “Where is the empirical evidence to back up the claims of the Vedas? How can we test that reincarnation exists and that Krishna is a real person and not a mythological character?”

The difficulty with accepting truths presented in texts from an ancient time is that the perception is limited to only the documented words. We can’t see the people in question, and we can’t even approach one of their direct family members. Similar limitations in perception exist in our own lives, but we don’t apply as much skepticism to the words of authority figures due to the short time difference. As an example, we only know about our birth from the eyewitness accounts of our parents. They could be lying for all we know, but we trust them based on their track record of honesty. In a similar manner, the ancient truths of reincarnation, karma, and the properties of the spirit soul can be accepted on faith in the beginning and then confirmed through personal practice. In addition, the authority figures themselves back up the worthiness of the original claims.

Like oil and water, science and religion don’t mix; at least that is the common viewpoint. If someone tells me that the sun comes up at a certain time, I can run an experiment the next day to see if they are right. If they tell me that eating a specific food will have a specific effect on my body, I can run the test for myself. Easier than this is to hear the observations of others who have run the experiments. Easier than this is to hear the words of those who have heard the words of those who have conducted the experiments. Though there is a generational gap, a distance created between the original scientist and the eager listener, the information itself is not changed. If I notice today that the sun is out and I note my observation in a book, that observation’s validity does not change with time. Whether someone reads my observation tomorrow, in one week, or in one hundred years, the observation is still accurate. The people in the future will have to trust that my eyesight was clear and that I had no motives for lying.

The sum and substance of the Vedic science is presented in the Bhagavad-gita. Lord Krishna explains the concepts of reincarnation, karma, the individual soul, the Supreme Soul, and how they are all related. The practical application isn’t discussed as much, as Krishna lays the foundational principles and then says that one must approach a qualified spiritual master and then learn the art of transcendentalism from them. The qualification in this sense relates to the true understanding of the principles presented by Krishna. The first qualification is that one accept Krishna as God. God is defined in many ways to make the living entity properly understand. There is the individual soul, and God is the Supreme Soul. There is reincarnation for the individual living entity, while Krishna is always God and never has to take birth or die.

“Unintelligent men, who know Me not, think that I have assumed this form and personality. Due to their small knowledge, they do not know My higher nature, which is changeless and supreme.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.24)

Then there are the Vedic principles of detachment, duty, aversion to like and dislike, and steadiness in the path of yoga, which is the linking of the individual soul to the Supreme Soul. Most importantly there is full devotion to God. The ideal implementation of that devotion can vary based on time and circumstance, but if the devotion is present then all good things will come to the individual. Sin is the wrong way to do something, bringing negative consequences, and since devotion to Krishna is the ultimate right way, there is no need to worry over sin.

“But how does this square with other religions. Why only Krishna? Why not devotion to someone else? Why not continue in scientific research and enjoy the life that we have?”

The issue of material enjoyment is also discussed in the Gita. The flaw with the “lord over material nature” mentality is that there is competition. Others also will try to be lord, and in that competition no one will win. Rather, there will only be temporary positions of prominence and destitution. The losers will try to unseat the winners, and the winners will try to hold on to their position no matter what. The winners thus have no peace of mind, and neither do the losers. You can look to so many aspects of life to see evidence of this. In professional sports, a team or a player may hold on to a record for a long time, but when someone is about to break it, they start to worry. Once their record is broken, they no longer hold the position of prominence for that specific statistical category. Hence even with victory one must live in fear.

Service to God is the ultimate occupation because it is the only one that correctly matches the constitutional position of the living entity. Lord Chaitanya, a famous saint and spiritual master who is non-different from Krishna, noted that jivera svarupa haya nitya krishna dasa, which means that the living entity is eternally a servant of Krishna, or God. Eternally means that at any point in time devotional service is the highest engagement. This also means that at any time if there is deviation from the original form, svarupa, only misery will result. Think of it like trying to eat soup with a fork. The living entity has abilities to do work, but if the work is improper, the result will not be ideal.

In the modern age the human species is more sophisticated in their education of material matters. Therefore blind faith alone will not cut it. People require more justification to turn their life over to a spiritual figure, and in this regard the Vedas are quite comprehensive. The theoretical is accounted for in the vast Vedic literature, and the practical is available through the tools offered by the spiritual master. In any age, and in any time period, the chanting of the holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”, is supremely effective. Try it for yourself to see how it makes a difference.

Lord KrishnaTo justify the path of devotion, we don’t even require theoretical or practical understanding. On the example of notable personalities alone we can understand that devotion to God is the ultimate occupation. Has there ever existed a more noble character than Shri Hanuman? Every virtuous quality exists in him, and such an exemplary personality only devotes himself to Sita and Rama, God and His eternal consort. There is only one God, though He has different spiritual forms that appeal to different devotees. Lord Chaitanya is also a spotless authority figure, having no flaws in His character. He only devotes Himself to Radha and Krishna, the same Sita and Rama. Similarly, many famous personalities both past and present follow the devotional line, and they are free of sin. They are kind, gentle, peaceful, knowledgeable, intelligent, fearless and charitable. By the material estimation they are without any flaws, which automatically earns them the highest standing. And from that perch they humbly ask everyone to be devoted to God to find the highest pleasure in life. If they say so, why not believe them?

In Closing:

Information of Vedas theoretical,

But how to find evidence empirical?

 

Events happened so long ago,

That they’re true how can we know?

 

In your own life principles implement,

Chant holy names as an experiment.

 

Easier way is to trust superior authority,

From their example take validity.

 

That Krishna is Supreme Lord know,

To hear Him to Bhagavad-gita go.

www.krishnasmercy.org

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Divine Unity

Posted by krishnasmercy on October 5, 2012

Krishna's hands“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)

Question: “Do you think that by worshipping a God figure, you’re separating yourself from the single, divine-unity? Couldn’t it be that the worshipping itself is the barrier to attaining that state of transcendence; because it – worshipping – is an action taken in attempt to attain that state of total-love, and thus, a non-pure form of being?”

Everything is God; a fact which should make sense. If we say that there is a divine controller who is the source of everything, both spiritual and material, then that must mean that every little fragment we see is part of the definition of that controller. Both the large and the small, the visible and the invisible, must be part of the singular energy, so shouldn’t understanding this force be the ultimate goal? Through worshiping a distinct entity known as God, or some name ascribed to the same personality, are we not separating ourselves from the total energy, and thereby making it harder to get in touch with transcendence? In actuality, just the opposite occurs. On the flip side, through ignoring the separate entity, it becomes nearly impossible to understand transcendence.

There is always worship, irrespective of the path you choose. If you don’t worship someone who is deemed to be God or the notable equivalent, you will pay homage to some other higher force. In any endeavor, in order to get ahead there is service paid to a superior authority. If I want to get ahead in business, I have to pay service to the customer, the loan officer, the government, the employees, and so many other entities. If I want to get ahead in sports, someone has to teach me how to play. I also need someone to train my body. If I am self-motivated, I still need corresponding parties, which represent nothing more than energy, to comply with my wishes.

At this point one might be tempted to think that they are worshiping the singular energy anyway through their personal endeavors. If I am part of the definition that is God, and I’m trying to find pleasure, am I not worshiping God? Actually, by focusing on myself, I am separating from the transcendence that I apparently want to find. If I try to help only a certain section of the population, taking shelter of the large umbrella that is “service to man”, I’m still ignoring other sections of the singular energy. By feeding the poor, I’m ignoring the wealthy. By fighting to stop disease, I’m ignoring social injustice. By being kind to others, I’m not teaching those who need instruction offered in a stern manner.

In the Vedic tradition the all-encompassing impersonal energy is known as Brahman. In the Bhagavad-gita, it is said that one who follows the path of impersonal worship has a very difficult time. This is due to the influence of the body. If I am embodied, meaning that I identify with a covering composed of the material elements of earth, water, fire, air and ether, it will be very difficult for me to see the spiritual force within every other creature. One symptom of the limited sight is meat eating, wherein I rely on violence to innocent animals to feed my material senses. Another symptom is uncontrolled sex desire, wherein I base the identity of another person off of the attractiveness of their outward features, which are known to change.

The personal path of worship is far superior because it is in line with the properties of the individual. I am a spirit soul, part and parcel of Brahman. And higher than Brahman is Paramatma, or the localized aspect of the superior spiritual force. And higher than Brahman is Bhagavan, or the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Brahman is related to Bhagavan in a relationship described as achintya-bhedabheda-tattva, or inconceivable and simultaneous oneness and difference. We are the same in quality as God but vastly inferior in the quantitative output of that quality.

With service to God’s personal aspect, rather than separate from the Brahman energy, I learn to appreciate it more. This is because I learn the proper relationship between objects. Rather than see differences between the species, I learn that everything is part and parcel of Krishna, who is the original personal form of the Supreme Lord. I learn that the souls that land in the material world due so out of ignorance, and through service directed to Krishna the ignorance dissipates.

Lord KrishnaWorship of Krishna aims to achieve a state of love, and this is actually the purest form of existence. Mundane love is known as kama, or lust, and it binds one to the cycle of birth and death. One continues in reincarnation for as long as they are not in transcendence. Love of God is different because it actually shakes off kama, eliminating lust and purifying the individual so that they feel pure love, or prema. Operating under kama, I compete with my fellow man for sense gratification and I feel envious when someone else starts to win. In prema, however, I hope for my fellow man to feel the same bliss from serving the Supreme Lord that I feel. I try to recruit others to take up devotional service to God, because in that service they will learn to see things properly.

Worship of the material nature creates exclusive relationships, wherein others are ignored in the pursuit to satisfy the senses. In worship of the impersonal Brahman, one must be completely renounced, free of the bodily designation, to have any chance at success. With worship of Bhagavan, however, there is automatic worship of everything else, as the Supreme Lord is the root of the tree of existence. In bhakti-yoga, the discipline that corresponds with the simultaneous oneness and difference relationship, one lives the ideal life, remaining peacefully disposed, acting kindly towards others, and giving the best example for others to follow. In the path of personal worship, conducted under authorized guidelines, the state of transcendence arrives for the individual very quickly, and in the highest state everything is seen as part and parcel of the Lord.

In Closing:

Should not we achieve divine unity?

Can worship make that a reality?

 

If the Supreme Lord with eyes I see,

Will not separated from world I be?

 

Actually, personal path is far superior,

Learn to see material energy as inferior.

 

Shri Krishna, the root of existence’s tree,

Worship Him and from duality be free.

www.krishnasmercy.org

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Enjoying All of Life

Posted by krishnasmercy on July 27, 2012

Krishna's lotus feet“For one who sees Me everywhere and sees everything in Me, I am never lost, nor is he ever lost to Me.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 6.30)

Question: “If everything is made from God and we have a tendency to enjoy like Him, why can’t I enjoy all of His creation? Why should I have to avoid specific things like drinking and gambling?”

The living entity is a spirit soul, part and parcel of God. At least this is what we are told by the Vedas, the ancient scriptures of India. The road from the premise to the conclusion consists of continued study of Vedic principles coupled with practical application. Not even considering sectarian beliefs and blind faith lacking confidence, just simple observation alone will tell you that there is an identifiable force within every creature. It has an arrival time followed by a departure time, and in the middle there is autonomous action. The actions can be so endearing that an attachment develops to the resident, and upon their departure sadness follows. In both the attached person and the person to whom the attachment is formed exist a desire for pleasure, and thus in the original entity the same tendency must exist. The desire to enjoy is one way to define life, and through knowing more about the properties of the original person, the proper way to enjoy is revealed.

This is the key after all. The origin of spirit and matter is the father of everything and everyone. The earth, water, fire, air and ether constitute the gross elements of His external energy, and the mind, intelligence and ego constitute the subtle aspects to His infinite expansions. These facts are found in Vedic texts like the Bhagavad-gita, and they can be validated through our own observation. The many different species are just bodies composed of the various elements. The birds have the element of air to a higher degree, while the human being has a higher constitution of fire. The aquatics can swim in the water without a problem, while the human beings cannot breathe in the same environment. Thus each body type has its own specific features.

The ability to think gives evidence of the subtle aspects to the body. The mind drives the actions, and the mind’s makeup is determined by intelligence. Subtler than intelligence is the ego, which is our identifying source. And then even subtler than the ego is the atma, or soul. This is the essence of individuality; it is the entity which arrives at the time of birth and then departs at death. Where it was prior and where it will go after are mysteries that no one can answer with ontological certitude due to limitations in perception. When the sun sets at night, our natural source of light vanishes. We must wait until it returns in the morning to be able to see everything outside. From this we know that just in our immediate perception we have so many dependencies, and with something subtle like the soul it is impossible to know where it goes unless it has an outer covering that is visible.

These facts relating to the spiritual science are all well and good, but what is the purpose to it all? Why are there different bodies? Why is there a mind? On the basic level it is seen that everyone wants happiness. In Sanskrit the enjoyment is known as ananda. The Supreme Spirit and His abode are described as ananda-chinmaya-rasa, or consisting of the mellows of knowledge and bliss, so His sparks inherit the same traits.

Okay, so if we’re meant to enjoy, why can’t we just do anything to find enjoyment? Why is there such pain in this world? Why are we subject to the torturous behavior of other living entities, the calamities of nature, and the crippling internal enemies known as fear and doubt?

To find the answer, we need look no further than the kitchen. The various utensils in this area of the home can act as a microcosm for action and enjoyment at large. After all, within the kitchen there are players, who can be likened to knowers. There is also a field of activity. But just because there are knowers and a field doesn’t mean that everything will run smoothly. The desire is for enjoyment of course, but you can’t just do anything in the kitchen and enjoy. Take the kitchen knife for instance. An object of the playing field, the knife has a viable purpose. It is meant to cut things. If you train to become a professional chef, one of the first things you learn is how to cut. There are different ways to cut food, and if you’re going to be cooking regularly, you will want to be very skilled at cutting.

cutting bread with a knifeOh, but in order to cut, the knife must be very sharp. Thus the enjoyment of cutting is facilitated through the properties of the knife. Ah, but when something is sharp, it can cut other things besides food. You can slice up your finger very easily, especially by accident. A wicked creature masquerading as a human being can use the knife as their weapon of choice to attack innocent people. The knife can be thrown at someone in this regard as well. In these instances there is no enjoyment; it’s just the opposite in fact. The knife becomes the source of tremendous pain.

In order for enjoyment to manifest, the various objects of the playing field must be utilized properly. This is where dharma, or religiosity, comes into play. We living entities are all knowers of the localized playing field that is the body. Then there is the larger playing field that is the material world. It can be likened to the largest kitchen, with so many knife-like objects. There is ample enjoyment available, provided that the functional purposes are utilized; otherwise there will be pain and misery.

For instance, eating is one of the ways to enjoy. Yet in the Vedas it is stressed that eating is to be limited, or at least utilized only for maintaining the body. Moreover, the eating process is sanctified by first offering prepared food items to the Supreme Lord for His satisfaction. Through an authorized method, the offered food becomes pure and is then returned to the preparer. The remnants are known as prasadam, or the Lord’s mercy. In addition, not any type of food will suffice. The human beings don’t have very sharp teeth or large nails to use in killing other animals. The physical capabilities of the human being are quite modest, but where he excels is in intelligence. And with intelligence comes responsibility, as you can use your brainpower to make a bomb or a garland of flowers. One option leads to mass destruction while another is an offering of peace.

Religiosity is perceived to be very restrictive, so one might wonder why so much of the creation is off-limits for the human being. Actually, in the proper consciousness the entire creation turns into a field of activity for deriving real enjoyment. Illicit sex life is an improper use of the body, but sex life for procreation of children who will be taught how to properly make use of the material creation is completely in line with piety. Intoxication from beer and wine is not helpful, but nectar in the form of fruit juices first offered to God gives so much enjoyment to the taster. Gambling and eating animal flesh are also prohibited, but taking a risk in trying to spread the glories of the Supreme Lord and eating sumptuous foodstuff first offered to God are completely valid uses of the human body.

The key element is the knowledge of how the two spiritual entities are related. We know that we are molded after God and thus inherit His qualities to a lesser degree. But there is also an inherent relationship to Him, and that relationship forms the basis for action on the ideal platform of consciousness. In divine service is where we are meant to live, and that endeavor isn’t restricted to any specific area of the material creation. In any space one can chant the holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”, and think of God. Any tool of this creation can be used to further the purpose of thinking of God. When unaware of the relationship to Him, however, the playing field is known as maya, which is illusion. With the mistaken vision, the objects are used improperly, and though enjoyment is sought, only pain results.

On the other hand, in bhakti-yoga there may not be a specific enjoyment sought at the outset. Perhaps we avoid meat eating, gambling, intoxication and illicit sex out of duty. Out of an obligation to the kind spiritual master, who teaches us bhakti-yoga, we chant the holy names for a prescribed number of rounds each day. Despite the initial cause for our action, enjoyment comes anyway. It’s like learning to use the knife properly when at the outset we have no clue what it is. We may even discover new uses for that knife that we hadn’t thought of before; uses which fulfill a worthwhile objective. The living entity in the human form is granted abilities not found in any other species; hence it is considered the most auspicious birth. The sole way to realize that potential is to follow God consciousness in an authorized manner, wherein the Supreme Lord is contemplated at all times, and the only pressing desire is to please Him. In that endeavor any object of this creation can be used, and when it is there is no shortage of enjoyment.

In Closing:

So many uses there are for the kitchen’s knife,

Can cut food or even take someone’s life.

 

Must be utilized in way that is right,

As intelligence is human being’s might.

 

For enjoyment can use creation’s entire field,

But proper functional uses must first be revealed.

 

From spiritual master get this necessary information,

How to use eating and thinking for divine glorification.

 

Find happiness you deserve in bhakti-yoga state,

And at end of life be reunited with real soul-mate.

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Krishna The Person

Posted by krishnasmercy on January 4, 2012

Lord Krishna“Always think of Me and become My devotee. Worship Me and offer your homage unto Me. Thus you will come to Me without fail. I promise you this because you are My very dear friend.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 18.65)

Question: “When Krishna says to surrender unto Him, is He referring to His sach-chid-ananda vigraha or to the embodied being who appeared on this earth and then left, or are they both the same?”

Answer: Lord Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, has a body full of bliss and knowledge. It is also eternal in its existence. In some popular spiritual traditions the concept of salvation occurs through surrender unto the son of the Supreme Lord or to one of the Lord’s representatives. While the Vedas have a similar tradition set up through the proxy of the guru, or spiritual master, the features of the original personality are still described to some detail. Since He is the creator of both the material and spiritual energies, the Supreme Lord is free to make appearances in whichever land He chooses. He already resides within each of us as the Supersoul, though without practice in yoga we have no way of realizing the presence of this kind expansion of Supreme Spirit. For Shri Krishna, the origin of life and matter, there is no difference between body and spirit, therefore when He advises surrender He always refers to Himself alone.

Krishna speaking to ArjunaThe Bhagavad-gita is Krishna’s song, and it is unique in the information it provides. Rather than accept spirituality as a matter of inheritance from family tradition or some faith that one can easily give up, the principles of a bona fide religious system can be dissected as a science, a discipline with truths that can be piled on top of one another to reach a final flawless conclusion. One who follows Krishna’s teachings may be outwardly tagged as a Hindu or Vaishnava, but to the people who are in the know, these designations bear no meaning. The foremost identification for every single person is the same, regardless of which spiritual tradition they follow. Aham brahmasmi, which means “I am a spirit soul”, applies to even the dog. Because the same quality of spirit pervades the material space there can be no such thing as sectarianism when discussing the science of self-realization.

Why does the “self” need to be realized? It is in this area that religion takes on its true value. We all have the same identity, but the majority of the conditioned souls are not aware of it. What obviously follows an incorrect identification are activities that one is not meant to take up. Eating, sleeping, mating and defending are the primary engagements of the animals who don’t know how to speak or determine what their future fate will be. The human beings follow similar behavior, but they are given intelligence to transcend the base animal instincts, to find higher truths. Knowledge brings power, so one who understands that they are spirit at the core can reach the most suitable destination.

The identification as spirit is important because otherwise identities are taken from changing bodies. The best way to think of the difference is to put on a specific type of shirt one day and then base your identity off of that shirt for the rest of your life. Obviously this wouldn’t be wise behavior because the shirt worn can change at any time. Similarly, identifying off of race, gender or nationality is silly because these designations can change in the future, and we didn’t even get to pick them prior to our birth. Does one really think that a person born in a particular land has different inherent qualities from the person appearing on this earth in another land?

The similarities amongst human beings can be understood even in the absence of a pursuit in spiritual life, but with the limited knowledge-gathering capabilities of the human being due to the constraints of time and space, the proper realization of the self and how it transcends even the human species cannot be understood without outside help. True enlightenment requires explicit instruction followed by dedicated practice. The Bhagavad-gita serves both of these purposes, and it was nicely presented at just the right moment, when a capable warrior was unclear about the proper course of action to follow.

ArjunaFrom the Gita comes the knowledge of the self and its position with respect to matter. In this work Krishna right away reveals that the soul continually exists, both before birth and after death. The different outer coverings are due to karma, which is the system that manages fairness based on actions taken. The bodies assumed do not represent one’s real identity, as spirit transcends every temporary change. Because there is no reason for attachment to the body, one should follow the prescribed regulations of spiritual life, or dharma, in order to keep the soul in a better position.

And what position is that? From knowledge of our identity comes a constitutional position. In addition to being eternal, the soul is knowledgeable and blissful. Strange to think that’s the case when we see so much strife around us, duplicity coupled with avarice and selfishness. Yet the root cause of even unwanted behavior is this desire for ananda, or bliss. The true form of happiness can be found when the soul is placed into situations that are conducive to realization of the self. The soul is tied to a higher spirit soul, who is, not surprisingly, the Supreme Lord, the person the majority of the world refers to as God.

Krishna is that same God, the original form of Godhead. He is both the instructor and the object of worship. The soul derives the most pleasure from being in His company, either personally or through consciousness. This is where things can get a little tricky, especially if you are unfortunate enough to be led astray by a misguided commentator of the Gita. Thus far we have seen that the living beings accept bodies and reject them through reincarnation fueled by karma. The soul is the identifiable aspect within every form of body, from the tiny ant all the way up to the denizens of heaven. Then this surely must mean that Krishna Himself followed the same tact while roaming the earth five thousand years ago? The person delivering the Gita must have had a body that did not belong to Him, for the spirit soul inside was His identity. If His spirit departed with Him at the end of life, how does one connect with Him today?

“Unintelligent men, who know Me not, think that I have assumed this form and personality. Due to their small knowledge, they do not know My higher nature, which is changeless and supreme.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.24)

Lord KrishnaJust from reading the Gita with sincerity and honesty, the confusion is cleared up immediately. In addition to describing the position of the soul, the differences between the material and spiritual energies, and God’s position as being superior to both of them, Krishna makes it a point to deride those who think that He accepts bodies like the subordinate living entities. Being supreme has a meaning. With the higher position come unique abilities. Krishna specifically says that anyone who thinks He has assumed His form is a fool; that they do not know His true nature, which is changeless.

How can Krishna be changeless if He appeared on earth in Vrindavana in the form of a small child and then disappeared later on in the body of an adult? The fact that Krishna has a spiritual body that never changes must be accepted on faith in the beginning. This shouldn’t be that difficult to do, as we accept so many apparently unbelievable pieces of information on faith already. Through the benefits that come from following Krishna’s words, the sum collection of which is included in the vast Vedic literature, the truth of the Lord’s position is revealed.

The key is to study the Bhagavad-gita from someone who is familiar with both Krishna and His many teachings. The Gita represents Krishna’s direct instructions, but this does not mean that Vedic instruction is limited to just Krishna’s words. Rather, through every one of His activities the Lord reveals His true nature, how He finds pleasure, and what the ideal position of the living entity is. The entire Vedic culture is aimed at bringing a permanent connection between the living entities and the Supreme Lord. Therefore when we encounter such bogus commentaries as Krishna not suggesting that one surrender unto Him but rather to the “Krishna” inside all of us, we should understand that the commentator has their own personal motive to further and that they have not properly studied sacred texts like the Shrimad Bhagavatam and Puranas. Moreover, they haven’t even understood the entire Gita, for Krishna reveals that He does not have a material form and that worship of Him can continue in any place and at any time.

If Krishna could only be worshiped through the association of His personal self, the sach-chid-ananda vigraha, then there would be no such thing as deity worship or the chanting of the holy names. In the Uddhava-gita, which is a collection of teachings Krishna presented to His dear friend Uddhava just before departing for the spiritual sky, there is a brief description of deity worship, its purpose, and how to perform it. Therefore Krishna Himself set up a system where He could be worshiped in His absence. In addition, the gopis of Vrindavana, Krishna’s childhood female friends, spent most of their time on earth worshiping Krishna when He wasn’t in their personal company. Yoga is the connection of the individual soul with the Supreme Soul. Krishna’s expansion residing within the heart of every living being is not different from the Krishna that was on the battlefield of Kurukshetra giving instructions to Arjuna.

Radha and KrishnaThe argument of Krishna being an embodied living entity does not hold any water either, for He was worshiped prior to His appearance in Vrindavana and continues to be honored long after His time on earth. The Shrimad Bhagavatam and other bhakti shastras state that there isn’t even a difference between Krishna and His names. Just by reciting, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”, one can surrender unto Krishna in the same way that Arjuna did. If Krishna were an embodied being, He would not have been superior to Arjuna, and thus there would have been no purpose to the teachings of the Gita. If Krishna is a being who undergoes birth and death just like us, then there is no difference between Him and us. If we are the same as God, what need is there for spirituality? What need is there to read the Bhagavad-gita?

Another common opposing argument posited is that Krishna is simply the guru to Arjuna and that the “me” in the surrender shloka in the Bhagavad-gita refers to the guru, who is self-realized. To be frank, this argument is complete nonsense and not supported anywhere in the Vedic literature. Arjuna was fighting a war against the opposing side which counted his guru as one of its members. If Krishna were telling Arjuna to surrender unto the guru, Arjuna easily could have gone over to the other side and told Dronacharya that he wasn’t going to fight with him. If the guru is the prime object of worship, one would think that Krishna would reveal how one becomes that object, how a person can become God. Yet this information is absent not only from the Gita, but from any authorized literature describing the glories of God.

Shrila PrabhupadaThe guru is still very important. He is the teacher following the principles espoused by Krishna in the Gita. He acts as the Lord’s representative on earth, giving information to those souls who are sincerely interested in connecting with God, living their life in such a way as to remain in constant yoga. The bona fide guru will never claim to be God, however. Krishna had many direct representatives who spent time in His company while on earth. They would never dare claim to be equal to the Lord. They always thought of Krishna, but this didn’t turn them into Krishna. The guru is treated on the same level as Krishna because of their important role, but never do they become God. In fact, no one can become the Supreme Controller, for it is a singular post that never has a vacancy.

Krishna has many personal expansions as well that can be surrendered to. A personal expansion is not the same as having offspring or sending a representative. Just as an identical candle can be lit from the original, Krishna is non-different from His expansions, which include even the Supersoul residing within the heart. Therefore the offer of surrender is available to every single person, regardless of their religious persuasion. Rather than just leave everyone to focus on an abstract concept of God, Krishna descends to earth, provides sublime wisdom and enacts wonderful pastimes to give the bewildered souls an idea of what is in store for them if they should follow the bona fide principles of religion. Krishna’s association is the reward for the surrendered souls, and since nothing can beat this gift, there is no higher engagement than bhakti-yoga directed at sharanagati, which brings the bliss of liberation.

In Closing:

“Always think of Me and do all your work for Me,

This line is proper, happy you will be.”

Statements like this quite simple to understand,

On their own merits tall do they stand.

Yet to the bogus commentator meaning is missed,

With alternate agenda, Krishna’s words do they twist.

Krishna told Arjuna that unto Him he should surrender,

Offer for us too, if service to Krishna we render.

Lord is all-pervading, He is not like us who are embodied,

Can worship Him by dedicating every thought, word and deed.

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Yoga Under Duress

Posted by krishnasmercy on December 13, 2011

Prahlada thrown off a cliff“If one is engaged in the advancement of spiritual knowledge, there will be so many insults and much dishonor from others. This is expected because material nature is so constituted. Even a boy like Prahlada, who, only five years old, was engaged in the cultivation of spiritual knowledge, was endangered when his father became antagonistic to his devotion.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 13.8-12 Purport)

Question: “How do I concentrate on devotional activities when I have so many pressures to maintain a family?”

Answer: In a particular episode of the famous American television sitcom, Everybody Loves Raymond, a doctor on the show compares the mind to a donkey. He says that there is only so much weight you can put on the mind before it decides to just sit down and stop moving. Though the analogy is meant to be humorous, it has merit. If we are bearing an excruciatingly large weight on our shoulders, how are we supposed to concentrate on anything else? For the fruitive worker entangled in so many responsibilities, the panacea of a life devoted to spirituality seems far, far away. But as was seen with one particular devotee a long time back, even under the most trying circumstances, if there is sincerity of purpose, the beneficiary of that service will make sure that the devotion can not only continue, but flourish.

The first instruction of the Vedas to aspiring transcendentalists is aham brahmasmi, which means “I am Brahman.” “You are not the body, don’t you see? The body is just temporary, like a lump of clay that can be molded and shaped at any second. In the larger scheme, the all-devouring agent for change known as time is responsible for the shifts, but this doesn’t mean that you are completely helpless with respect to your body’s transformation. Your actions have an influence on the rate of the change and its nature, but nevertheless, throughout the passage of time you are still pure spirit. Detach from the bodily influence and remain spiritually aware. Brahman is bliss. Brahman is truth. Brahman is eternal life.”

These truths are well and good to learn about when you are sober and able to concentrate on hearing and understanding the complex information, but what if you don’t have the time to study Brahman? For the adult family man living in the modern world, the average day is filled with pressures. Though time is continuous and days are only slices taken from that timeline for analytical purposes, let’s start with the morning period to see just how many pressures the family man faces and how they increase in number throughout the day. The first pressure relates to waking up at a certain time. In the winter months this is most difficult, for as soon as you emerge from underneath the warm covers, you are welcomed with colder air. As the sleeping man is in a vulnerable condition, with the vitality of the living spirit having rested for the previous eight or so hours, the sudden burst of cold is rather uncomfortable. As over time the difference in climatic conditions comes to be expected, the waking man knows what he will face should he arise, so just getting out of bed becomes a chore.

winterEmerging from bed is the start of the day. Now you have to do your routine in the bathroom, change clothes, preferably eat something, and make it out the door within a short amount of time so that you can arrive at work on time. In some cases, there may be the added step of checking email. If something went wrong overnight at work, you’ll have to fix it before you leave the house. Fixing the problem will only make you later, and thus cause you to get behind on the day’s work.

Then there is the pressure of the travel. If you take mass transit, you want to make the train or bus that you prefer to take. The public transportation vehicle must arrive on time as well; otherwise the delicate balance of time management is thrown off. For the person who drives to work, you just hope that there is no traffic on the roads. By the way, since you’re taking an automobile to work every day, you are now responsible for its maintenance. This means always keeping in mind how much gasoline is in the car and whether or not you need to bring the vehicle in for servicing. The service centers are typically only open during the weekdays, those days where you have the aforementioned morning pressures relating to work. Should the car require maintenance, you have to rearrange your schedule and hope that the repairs don’t cost too much.

If you do arrive at work on time, other kinds of pressures only begin. The difficulty of the job is what enables you to earn a living off of what you do. As in the modern age most of society doesn’t live off of farming, income is earned by being of some value to an organization that sells a good or service to others. As the profit/loss game is volatile, there is no telling whether or not the company will survive going forward. It is funny to think that those who farm for a living are now considered poor and stuck in a “third world” life, while the society filled with daily pressures and uncertainty is considered advanced.

If you manage to work your eight hours, which is actually a lot of time, you now want to get home and relax. Your work day is over, but you know that you’ll have to repeat it again the next day. This actually introduces a new pressure, one which is again based on time. You have a limited window for enjoyment, so you want to make sure that nothing gets in the way of that. Ah, but the responsibilities at home never go away, even if you leave for your job. The spouse at home may want you to pick up something after you leave work. There are so many errands to run and things to do that you’re fortunate if you can ever just travel straight home.

The family members at home may not live the same life that you do. All the work you put in, all the pressure you deal with, is for their benefit, and yet they just keep asking for things. They want money for this and that, and they want to make sure that you’re always there. This adds another pressure. If somehow you were unable to provide for them, what would they do? In this way your focus shifts towards defense, protecting what you have now, though your present lifestyle is filled with constant pressure. Rather than look for a way out of the hectic struggle, you think of ways to maintain it, thus taxing your brain constantly. Even going to bed at night is stressful, for you know that if you don’t fall asleep at a specific time, you will have difficulty waking up and preparing for work in the morning.

With such stress on the mind, how is one supposed to learn about Brahman and realize that they are not spirit? Where does the devotional aspect of life fit into all of this? The stressed worker is one scenario, but what about the person suffering from a debilitating disease? Sure, we are not our body, but tell that to someone dying of cancer. If my body is filled with pain, how am I not supposed to think about it? Fortunately, there is one method of spiritual practice that can be implemented under any condition. Success through this avenue is not dependent on extenuating circumstances, though peace of mind is always helpful.

“One who is not in transcendental consciousness can have neither a controlled mind nor steady intelligence, without which there is no possibility of peace. And how can there be any happiness without peace?” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.66)

Lord KrishnaHow can any person find happiness without peace? This cogent rhetorical question is posed by Lord Krishna in the Bhagavad-gita, the most concise and complete treatise on spirituality known in the world. It is the only book that need be read, for within it are pearls of wisdom that form the most valuable necklace of knowledge. From the Gita we learn that knowing Brahman is just the beginning. As pure spirit, we have a constitutional position, one where we are intimately tied to the Supreme Spirit, who is none other than Shri Krishna.

Studying Brahman, practicing austerity, performing sacrifices and giving in charity are meant to culminate in Krishna consciousness. Bhakti-yoga, or devotional service, is the set of activities that seek that divine consciousness right from the start. In other methods, one first starts with fruitive activity, mental speculation, or meditation and then hopefully reaches the platform of devotion to God. With bhakti-yoga, the transcendentalist immediately touches Krishna, and though their behavior may be tainted in the beginning, simply through the sincere desire to connect with Krishna, success is assured, even under trying circumstances.

There are many historical examples to show evidence of the fact, but likely the most cherished and remembered is the story of Prahlada Maharaja. The family man has a ton of pressure to deal with, but imagine if your father kept harassing you, trying to kill you day after day. As an adult, maybe this wouldn’t be so difficult, but what if you were just five years old and your father the most feared king in the world? This is precisely what Prahlada Maharaja faced, who, as a five year old boy, was stubborn in his insistence on practicing bhakti. On the other hand, his father, Hiranyakashipu, was against any type of devotional practice. He was warm to the idea of his son getting an education, but only on those topics that would allow him to follow in the father’s footsteps. The ruthless king wanted Prahlada to be just as feared, to carry on the tradition of power and strength. Thus Prahlada was sent to school to learn the art of administration.

Yet the boy had no interest in these topics. He only wanted to hear about devotion to Vishnu, which is another name for God. The father would ask the son what he learned in school, and to his chagrin Prahlada would only speak of Vishnu. Hiranyakashipu hated this so much that he finally decided Prahlada had to be killed. One slight problem though. Prahlada was unbreakable. Throwing him in a pit of snakes, setting him on fire, tossing him off the cliff of a mountain, and even attacking him with deadly weapons could not kill him. Throughout these attacks, Prahlada just remembered Vishnu, vishno-smaranam.

“Prahlada Maharaja said: Hearing and chanting about the transcendental holy name, form, qualities, paraphernalia and pastimes of Lord Vishnu, remembering them, serving the lotus feet of the Lord, offering the Lord respectful worship with sixteen types of paraphernalia, offering prayers to the Lord, becoming His servant, considering the Lord one’s best friend, and surrendering everything unto Him (in other words, serving Him with the body, mind and words) — these nine processes are accepted as pure devotional service.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 7.5.23-24)

Prahlada MaharajaFrom the interactions between the famous father-and-son pair we get the definition of bhakti-yoga. Divine love can consist of nine different activities, with the most important being hearing and chanting. From hearing about Krishna one gets the seed of the creeper of devotion implanted within them. Through continuous hearing that seed can start to grow. With chanting one can make sure that the connection to God remains intact. Just by regularly chanting, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”, all that one desires in spiritual life will arrive in the palm of the hand. No other method need be attempted. No austerity, penance, meditation, study, or sacrifice can bring the same benefit as that which comes through dedication in chanting.

From this sacred sequence of words, which is known as the maha-mantra, we get the solution to the problem of how to find spiritual life while supporting a family. Surely there are many pressures facing the dedicated worker supporting so many dependents, but if there is a sincere desire to connect with Krishna, the Lord will provide the necessary help. In spite of so many responsibilities, if one can make the chanting of the holy names a priority that is attended to each day, God will take care of the rest.

The routine recommended by the Vaishnava acharyas, those who follow in the mood of devotion of Prahlada Maharaja, is that one chant the maha-mantra for sixteen rounds a day on a set of japa beads. This will take quite a bit of time each day, even after one becomes familiar with the pronunciation of the words and gains some speed in their chanting. At the same time, this recommendation doesn’t mean that one who only chants a single round each day isn’t spiritually benefitted. Rather, just one pure recitation of the holy name of Krishna is enough to bring immeasurable pious credits. The struggling worker can find time to chant at least one round per day. If a steady routine is made to support that dedication, then additional rounds can slowly be added on.

With Prahlada Maharaja there was full sincerity, and since he was only five years old what could he really do to influence his circumstances? Vishnu finally arrived on the scene as Narasimhadeva and took care of Hiranyakashipu. This means that for the sincere devotee, whatever impediments are there will be taken away. Prahlada didn’t give up being a king and then move to the forest. Instead, he lived within his environment and still remained always connected with Krishna. While waking up in the morning, driving to work, or even taking care of our tasks each day, there is nothing to stop vishno-smaranam. That remembrance of God is best strengthened through regular chanting, which is our ticket out of the hectic world lacking any semblance of peace.

In Closing:

Constant requests from family member each,

Leave constant pressures, peace out of reach.

Mind like donkey facing steady attack,

Can only handle so much load on back.

But devotion to flourish in any circumstance,

Every second to chant holy names brings chance.

Prahlada of his conditions had no control,

Yet to memory of Vishnu did he hold.

Krishna takes care of those who are sincere,

Through bhakti practice to God become dear.

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