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Gaura Purnima 2015

Posted by krishnasmercy on March 4, 2015

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

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sarva-sad-guṇa-pūrṇāṁ tāṁ

vande phālguna-pūrṇimām

yasyāṁ śrī-kṛṣṇa-caitanyo

‘vatīrṇaḥ kṛṣṇa-nāmabhiḥ

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

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

vidyā-vinaya-sampanne

brāhmaṇe gavi hastini

śuni caiva śva-pāke ca

paṇḍitāḥ sama-darśinaḥ

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In Closing:

On this day Gaura Purnima to fall,

Remember the golden savior of all.

 

Who to Supreme Lord the same,

To teach bhakti philosophy came.

 

To the people He fearlessly went,

Sounds of holy names to them sent.

 

From this highest awareness coming,

In harmony of bhakti age golden becoming.

www.krishnasmercy.org

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Talking About Putana

Posted by krishnasmercy on February 19, 2015

[Lord Krishna]“The innocent cowherd women thought that she was a goddess of fortune appearing in Vrindavana with a lotus flower in her hand. It seemed to them that she had personally come to see Krishna, who is her husband. Because of her exquisite beauty, no one checked her movement, and therefore she freely entered the house of Nanda Maharaja.” (Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 1, Ch 6)

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Husband: I was reading about the pastime with the witch named Putana again.

Wife: That’s great. Did you like it?

Husband: I always like it. It seems that every time I read it, I gain a different perspective.

Wife: Krishna’s pastimes are like that. It’s another way to know that He is God. He is truly unlimited. He is beyond our comprehension, yet He acts in ways that increase our knowledge and appreciation of Him.

Husband: All true, but you know I have a few issues to raise.

Wife: Don’t you always? I can’t wait to hear this. I’m sure this will not be like any other viewpoint I’ve heard yet.

Husband: You might get mad at me for this one. I’m just warning you.

Wife: Okay. It better not be offensive. I will not tolerate that.

Husband: If I border on that, then stop me. Still, I think these questions are worth asking.

Wife: Alright. This is what I get for giving you that book. You always have to be difficult. Go ahead.

[The Krishna book]Husband: Okay. Now it says that Putana was this amazingly beautiful woman. She absolutely enchanted everyone when she came to Gokula, the home where baby Krishna was staying.

Wife: That’s correct. This is one ability of the Rakshasas, the demons who are mired in the mode of ignorance. They can change their shape at will. Being ordered by Kamsa, the king of Mathura who wanted Krishna killed, Putana transformed into a beautiful woman and headed towards the home of Nanda Maharaja and mother Yashoda.

Husband: Alright, I’m glad you mentioned Yashoda. She is a loving mother. Krishna just appeared to her. Yashoda gave birth to a child, but she wasn’t sure about its gender immediately due to the exhaustion from labor. Vasudeva transferred Krishna, the Supreme Lord, to Gokula and placed Him in Yashoda’s care.  He took with him the girl who was born to Yashoda.

Wife: Right. Nanda and Yashoda were foster parents. Vasudeva didn’t want Kamsa to kill Krishna, which he would have attempted if Krishna stayed in the jail cell in Mathura. Can you tell me your first question already? I have to start on dinner soon.

Husband: Oh, what are you making? Macaroni and cheese?

Wife: It will be brussel sprouts and water if you don’t hurry up.

Husband: Okay. If Yashoda is such a loving mother, how could she let Putana enter the home? Putana is a stranger. Though she was so beautiful, that doesn’t mean the mother should drop her attention on her son. Also, Putana came to feed breast milk to Krishna. Isn’t that a little weird? What kind of mother allows someone else to feed their child that way?

Wife: Wow. Yeah, I must say I’ve never heard this line of inquiry before. You never cease to amaze me. You realize that this is Gokula-Vrindavana, right? You understand how wonderful all the people there are, right?

Husband: Sure, of course. But does that mean that you would let a stranger come to your home? Would you let someone you didn’t know come and feed our son when he was a baby? I don’t think so.

[Yashoda and Krishna]Wife: This is a different time. We are all suspicious of one another. We’re not pure in our habits. The type of community in Gokula at that time can’t be found anywhere right now. People weren’t suspicious of one another. They all spontaneously loved Krishna. He was basically everyone’s child, though He lived in Yashoda’s home. Though she carried Him in her arms, everyone carried Him in their hearts. Everyone was so innocent; hence there was no suspicion. This is what happens in the spiritual world. There is no envy of the kind that we know.

Husband: I see. So it was because of her innocent nature that Yashoda allowed Putana to walk in? Fine, I can accept that. It was a different time.

Wife: What’s your next question? I know you’re going to try to top yourself in ridiculousness.

Husband: We know what happened next. Putana put poison on her breasts and fed Krishna. Yet instead of Krishna dying, it was Putana who did. Krishna sucked the very life out of her. When she realized what was happening, she pleaded for help. She wanted Krishna to stop. Yet He didn’t. Eventually the witch revealed her true form, which was gigantic. Finally, she died, with her falling body creating a terrifying sound as it hit the ground.

Wife: Yes. Isn’t Krishna so nice? He gives liberation even to His enemies. Since she thought of Him at the time of death, Putana was liberated.

[Krishna crawling on Putana]Husband: Okay, fine, but shouldn’t Krishna have let go when Putana started crying for help? Isn’t God all-merciful? Shouldn’t He have forgiven her? After all, Putana was in the mode of ignorance. She did not know any better. Why did she deserve to get punished like that? Doesn’t it show that Krishna is mean?

Wife: Wow, once again you’ve entered the realm of absurdity. You understand why Putana was there, don’t you?

Husband: Yes. To kill Krishna.

Wife: Who was how old?

Husband: Still an infant.

Wife: And you know that she had done something like this before, right?

Husband: Yeah? Oh, I guess that’s pretty bad then.

Wife: Pretty bad? Even if this was her first attempt, she still carried through with her plan. It’s not like she had a change of heart at the last second. The truly demoniac never learn their lesson. So if Krishna had pardoned her, she would have tried again some other day. Actually, by sucking the life out of her, Krishna showed her tremendous kindness. People would be lined up for days and months to get the same benediction if they knew it were available. To be killed directly by God is a great boon.

Husband: I see. I guess you’re right. I didn’t think of it that way.

Wife: Sometimes you have to carry out justice. There is no other way. It may not be pretty, and you may be well aware that the person committing the crime is not of sound mind, but you can’t worry about that. You have to protect the people. That’s what Krishna does, and the people love Him even more because of it. Even after this happened to Putana, Kamsa did not learn his lesson. That is more proof for you.

Husband: What do you mean? Don’t ruin the story for me!

Wife: You know all of this anyway. Kamsa kept sending more demons to kill Krishna. That shows you that the true enemies of God will never learn their lesson. Krishna continues to baffle them, which makes the devotees even happier. It’s always a win-win.

In Closing:

Putana to home coming to feed,

But for another mother what need?

 

When caught called for Krishna to stop,

But to suck life from her not to drop.

 

In first instance Lord not for mother alone,

Each thinking He was child their own.

 

And pardon to do nothing for the witch,

Demoniac of steady mind, never to switch.

www.krishnasmercy.org

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Talking About Approaching An Old Man

Posted by krishnasmercy on February 14, 2015

[Lord Krishna]“This nava-yauvana, or pre-youth, is the eternal transcendental form of Krishna. Krishna never grows older than nava-yauvana.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Chaitanya Charitamrita, Madhya 20.384 Purport)

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Friend1: Let me ask you this.

Friend2: I love that. I know I have to be alert whenever you start a sentence with those words.

Friend1: Yes, you love the challenges I present to you. Anyway, here’s what I was wondering about. When you were younger, when you first began thinking about God, what did you think He looked like?

Friend2: That’s a good question. You know, I don’t think I ever thought about that. I never considered what He looked like.

Friend1: Right, me neither. But I’m sure you’ve since seen Him depicted as an old man.

[God depicted as an old man]Friend2: Yes. I’ve watched those specials on the History Channel about the Bible and such things.

Friend1: They have paintings too. He’s old with a gray beard. He’s looking down on the citizens disapprovingly.

Friend2: And He sends locusts and famine whenever He is unhappy. Paints a pretty bleak picture, if you ask me.

Friend1: It’s interesting that you say that. So that’s exactly what I’ve been contemplating lately. If this is what God looks like to you, why on earth would you follow religion?

Friend2: Elaborate further, please.

Friend1: Well, what is the fundamental claim of all religions?

Friend2: That you’ll be better off in the future.

Friend1: Right, but more specifically that by following such and such religion you’ll reach a better destination in the afterlife. You’re going to go somewhere that is different from where you are right now.

Friend2: That’s true. I mean, that should be obvious based on the fact that we’re all going to die. But yeah, I would agree with that characterization. Religion promises a specific place that you will reach if you follow what you’re told.

Friend1: So think about it. If God is old and mean, and following religion will bring you to Him, why would you follow religion?

Friend2: Are you trying to tell me that you hate old people [smiling]?

Friend1: No, silly. I understand old people have a lot to offer. They have years of experience that generates wisdom that they can pass on to us.

Friend2: That’s known as the descending process of knowledge gathering. Rather than try to experience everything for yourself, and thus waste a lot of time in the process, you take knowledge from higher authorities. In fact, that is the only way to truly know God. The ascending process will never get you there.

Friend1: Okay, okay, we’ll get to that later, but hear me out first. In this world there are boundless opportunities to experience things that are fresh and new.

Friend2: I would agree with that. At least that’s how they look on the surface.

Friend1: You get a new car, a new phone, a new spouse even. If your dog dies, after a few days you go out and get a new one. You don’t have to be stuck with old things.

Friend2: Yeah, they come out with a new smartphone each year. Just when you get used to all the features, how to check your email and send texts, they change everything up on you. I hate that.

[iPhones changing]Friend1: You’re in this world where everything seems to be fresh and new, so why would you want to go to an old man? I would think you would want to avoid that.

Friend2: You know, I never thought of it like that, but you make a good point.

Friend1: Yeah, it’s just my daily speculation. You and I both know that old age is a product of a material existence. It brings you one step closer to the dreaded event known as death.

Friend2: And if God becomes old, it means that He is on the verge of death. But that can’t be true, since if He is God, He should never die.

Friend1: Exactly. That’s why the Vedic understanding makes more sense to me. Shri Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, whose form is not the product of anyone’s speculation or imagination, is always the same age.

Friend2: Nava yauvanam; that’s the way He’s described in Sanskrit. He’s always newly in adolescence. This means that He’s not on the way towards transforming into anything else. In the Ananda Vrindavana Champu, it says that the infant and childhood forms of Krishna only manifest in this world. In the spiritual world, He’s always a teenager. One could then argue that His coming to this earth is more important than His staying in the spiritual land of Goloka Vrindavana. Anyway, that’s a different topic.

[Krishna with Yashoda]Friend1: It’s amazing that He’s always young. I’m sure you know that on the battlefield of Kurukshetra, He was like a great-grandfather or something. 125 years elapsed since He appeared from the womb of mother Devaki, and still He was not old. He did not have any gray hair. He was not walking with a cane.

Friend2: Another point to mention relates to what you were saying about this world. It seems like it is always changing. It seems like a better place to stay, especially when juxtaposed with the alternative of going to an old and vindictive man in the sky. Prahlada Maharaja says that we’re actually chewing the chewed here.

Friend1: Oh yeah, that’s right. I forgot about that.

Friend2: [punah punash charvita-charvananam, SB 7.5.30] We think we’re switching to new and better things, but since it’s all in material life, devoid of God consciousness, we’re actually just doing the same thing.

[Indra Sharma painting of Krishna with cows]Friend1: All the more reason to take up bhakti-yoga, where the destination is the ever-fresh Supreme Lord, who brings the devotee so much happiness day after day.

In Closing:

Angry and vengeful we’re told,

Supreme Lord man in the sky old.

 

If that being the case,

Why that destination to chase?

 

Krishna aging from youth never,

In fresh and new form remaining forever.

 

That the right destination to be,

His all-attractiveness always to see.

www.krishnasmercy.org

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Telling Us Who Is God

Posted by krishnasmercy on February 13, 2015

[Lord Krishna]“Bhagavad-gita, which is the science of God, is spoken by the Personality of Godhead Himself. This is perfect knowledge. Mental speculators or so-called philosophers who are researching what is actually God will never understand the nature of God.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 3.26.33 Purport)

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Any person can come up to us and say anything. That is the nature of free will. My good sense is what keeps me in check. My conscience prohibits me from doing horrible things, though when lust runs strong, the defense of the conscience starts to weaken. Therefore people are known to tell lies. People cheat, they have imperfect senses, they are easily illusioned, and they commit mistakes. In the matter of the origin of everything, the entire universe and its whole population, any person can step up and lay claim. Shri Krishna is different because He actually describes how He is God.

Let’s suppose someone comes up to us and claims that they are God.

“I am the origin of the universe. I am the truth and light about which you speak. Surrender unto me and I will show you the way.”

Naturally, we could ask them why they are roaming around this miserable land if they are so great. We would also ask them to read our minds and tell us everything that occurred in the past. We’d ask them why they created this land, populated it with creatures, and forced us to live here. We’d ask them what happens after death, and why death takes place to begin with. We’d ask them why we see variety around us. We’d ask why there isn’t only one species. We’d ask them to explain the purpose to our existence.

The pretender will not be able to answer these questions. At best they could show us some mystic power. Maybe they could put a curse on us which causes our health to decline for a brief period. Maybe they could make fire come out of our hair or levitate for a few moments. Such amazing things already happen through nature, so the fact that a human being can do the same doesn’t mean very much. The less intelligent person may be fooled by such a show, but the rational thinking person won’t.

[Lord Krishna]Shri Krishna claims that He is God. He has a bluish complexion, like that of a dark raincloud. He came to this earth in His personal form some five thousand years ago, but He was here before that. He sports an enchanting smile, carries a flute with Him, and is known to defeat the pride of the proudest among us. He is always young, never growing old. His body is eternal, full of knowledge, and always blissful. He remains in His form all the time. There is no difference between matter and spirit for Him.

He claims to be God only in private. He doesn’t walk around beating His chest. He doesn’t insist on surrender. In fact, He will only look for it in certain places. He does not disturb those who are too mired in a life of ignorance. We find out about His claim in a book called the Bhagavad-gita. This chronicles a conversation between Krishna and Arjuna. Arjuna is a warrior in distress at the time, and Krishna, His dear cousin and friend, offers Him sound words of advice after being asked.

The work is studied and speculated on widely today, but it is meant to be heard by only those who are open to spiritual life and not inimical towards Krishna. Lacking these two things, the reader will never understand what is being said. Krishna says that He is God, but not at the outset. It comes after a thorough explanation. He says that He is the Narayana that is worshiped prominently in the Vedic tradition. From Him everything emanates. By Him everything is destroyed.

prakṛtiṁ svām avaṣṭabhya

visṛjāmi punaḥ punaḥ

bhūta-grāmam imaṁ kṛtsnam

avaśaṁ prakṛter vaśāt

“The whole cosmic order is under Me. By My will it is manifested again and again, and by My will it is annihilated at the end.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.8)

[Krishna creating]There is no ambiguity. It is not that Krishna initially referred to someone else doing these things and that many years later those sympathetic to Him claimed that it was Krishna Himself who is responsible. The Sanskrit word “mam” [me/my] is prominent in the Bhagavad-gita. It appears in the most famous and important verse, where Krishna says that Arjuna should abandon all varieties of religion and surrender unto Him.

sarva-dharmān parityajya

mām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ vraja

ahaṁ tvāṁ sarva-pāpebhyo

mokṣayiṣyāmi mā śucaḥ

“Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reaction. Do not fear.” (Lord Krishna, Bg. 18.66)

Krishna reads Arjuna’s mind by knowing exactly what is bothering Him and the cause for it. Krishna explains how He has always been around, since the beginning of the creation, when He spoke the same Bhagavad-gita to the sun-god Vivasvan. Krishna explains that He can remember all of the past, while Arjuna cannot, even though both of them never die due to the nature of spirit.

Krishna lives forever into the future, but since we must die and take birth repeatedly, we have no way of testing that claim. We take it on faith, which is strengthened by knowing that Krishna continues to teach the Bhagavad-gita to this day. The same original words spoken are there to consult, with the spiritual teacher in the line of teachers following the mood of Arjuna there to explain them to us.

[Shrila Prabhupada]There is much more to understanding Krishna and His teachings, which are collectively known as the science of God. Yes, it is indeed a science, as blind faith is neither required nor recommended. We are advised to bring every doubt that we have to the table. We’re not supposed to suppress the objections we have based on apparent contradictions we hear. Being in the auspicious human species, we are to use all of our intellect for understanding God, as Krishna describes Him. In so doing, we find out the true nature of the Supreme Spirit, a nature which is all-merciful and always inviting.

In Closing:

Claim of God anyone to make,

How their word for it to take?

 

At Shri Krishna have a look,

And words from Him that Arjuna took.

 

All aspects of Divinity to him explained,

Through applied intellect knowledge gained.

 

When described is He in such detail,

To know the Supreme Lord without fail.

www.krishnasmercy.org

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Giving Delight To God

Posted by krishnasmercy on February 10, 2015

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

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

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The complaints against organized religion should be familiar, and they seem legitimate if a thorough study of history is made.

“Religion has killed so many people throughout the course of human history. Look at all the major wars. See how many innocent people have been duped by frauds and cheats. Religion has been used to discriminate, to suppress, and to advance the agenda of a few at the cost of the many. It has been the recourse for the weak and the less intelligent, who didn’t want to actually work for what they got.”

[prayer]Indeed, one person approaches a certain god to get good health, and another person changes their diet. What is the difference between them? How is one any better than the other? One person prays to God to keep their ailing family member alive and another doesn’t pray at all. The person who prays doesn’t get their wish granted and the person who doesn’t pray is happy with the outcome to their problem.

Why should there even be different religions? Isn’t there a single creator who made everyone? If He made everyone, why would He want different kinds of worship? These contradictions make following any kind of spiritual life difficult. Adding even more complexity is the issue of the purpose to life. If there was a God, what would He want from us? We know that death takes everything away, that time operates on things to make them temporary as soon as they are born, so what is the point to doing anything?

Sita Devi provides some answers in describing the history of how she ended up in the Ashoka grove in Lanka. She is the wife of Lord Rama, the Supreme Personality of Godhead appearing on earth in the guise of a warrior prince. Rama is that true origin of all, who does not discriminate based on species, gender, ethnicity or the type of religion practiced. He loves every one of His children, and He shows this by staying with them as the Supersoul.

aham ātmā guḍākeśa

sarva-bhūtāśaya-sthitaḥ

aham ādiś ca madhyaṁ ca

bhūtānām anta eva ca

“I am the Self, O Gudakesha, seated in the hearts of all creatures. I am the beginning, the middle and the end of all beings.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 10.20)

His compassion can also be seen in the fact that the things most required in life are relatively inexpensive and high in availability. Water, milk, grains, fruits, simple linens and basic shelter are typically easier to procure than meat, wine, fine fabrics, expensive gadgets and large residences. Rama’s kindness is further shown in the material nature, which operates indirectly under His overall supervision. That nature gives all the things necessary for life to continue. Within the sky are all the stars, and within the earth are all the seeds.

“Just as within the earth are found every kind of seed and within the sky live all the stars, Tulsidas knows that Shri Rama’s holy name is the reservoir of all dharma.” (Dohavali, 29)

[Lord Rama]In the same way, within devotion to Rama Himself is all dharma, or religion. Every perspective there is on spiritual life, every reward sought out, can be gotten through devotion to Rama alone. One who takes to this devotion is highly fortunate, maha-bhaga, because gradually they realize the importance of the person being worshiped as opposed to what is sought. In the many religions and philosophies the rewards sought are generally the same. Whether one is a Christian, a Jew, a Muslim, or a Hindu, their requests can still be put into four categories: economic development, sense gratification, adherence to righteousness and ultimate salvation.

The ultimate religion actually transcends these four benedictions. That religion is unifying since it can be practiced by one and all. It does not require a change of allegiance or faith in a particular establishment. That religion is a way of life, a consciousness. In that thinking, one becomes most fortunate, since they get the benefit of God’s association.

This was the case with Lakshmana, who abandoned a comfortable life to be with his elder brother Rama. From studying Lakshmana’s situation, we see that he had many of the things commonly asked for in religion. He had religiosity; so much so that he was a defender of righteous principles. Lakshmana found tremendous economic development, having anything the mind could want available to him. He had ample opportunity for sense gratification, and through showing renunciation when needed he was well on his way towards ultimate salvation.

[Lakshmana]Yet Lakshmana abandoned these four rewards in a second to be with Rama, who was once asked to leave the kingdom of Ayodhya. Sita Devi says that Lakshmana was ready to leave even before her. She had the same desire, to simply be with Rama. Sita says that Lakshmana is a delight to his friends. This is particularly significant considering the fact that Lakshmana was to follow Rama into the forest for fourteen years.

His religion is giving delight to his brother, even if sometimes Rama asks for something else. The same goes for Sita. In fact, no one can delight Rama more than those two. Hanuman also delights Rama, but through the route of a servant. One of his tasks was to find Sita. He succeeded. His meeting with her brought the verse quoted above.

Devotion brings delight to Rama. The attitude is unique to all religions. The mood is to first give, not to take. It is to ask for more opportunities for service instead of looking to see what good results are coming from prayer and worship. The delight that goes to Rama gets returned to the worshiper, who can get the benefit even through worshiping Rama in one of His many other forms. The generic “God” references Him as well, but the delight isn’t as much as when the interaction is with a personal form. The service can be through something as simple as chanting the holy names, which anyone can do: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

In Closing:

So many religions to see,

A unifying purpose can there be?

 

Meant for to God to bring,

Delight, like His glories to sing.

 

At Lakshmana’s example just look,

To leave everything no hesitation took.

 

By Sita and Hanuman also shown,

Asked to serve, not for benefit their own.

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Not Your First Idea Of Religion

Posted by krishnasmercy on February 4, 2015

[Sita Devi]“Then I was quickly ready to depart for becoming a forest dweller even ahead of Him, as when lacking His association even residence in heaven is not to my liking.” (Sita Devi speaking to Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 33.27)

sā aham tasya agrataḥ tūrṇam prasthitā vana cāriṇī ||
na hi me tena hīnāyā vāsaḥ svarge api rocate |

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What is your concept of religion? What do you think it is for? If you are against it, what are your reasons? If somehow you are one of the fortunate few to have found the proper meaning through contact with a spiritual master in the glorious line of disciplic succession originating with the Supreme Personality of Godhead, what were your notions prior to becoming enlightened? In a single verse from the Ramayana, Sita Devi gives the true meaning to the concept, whether referred to as religion, spirituality, duty or faith. It is an attitude more than anything, and it is one that would surprise the casual observer.

Since religion attempts to explain that which is considered unexplainable, the most common way to describe it is as a kind of faith.

“This person is of the Christian faith. They believe in Christ. They put all their trust in him. This person is of the Islamic faith. They pray to Allah five times a day in the hopes of salvation. This person belongs to the Hindu faith. They follow rituals and rites in the hopes that the next life will be better. This person is of the Buddhist faith. They seek the ultimate reward known as nirvana.”

[Different religions]Even if religion is considered a faith, there is a hope for some kind of future. That future existence is supposed to be better. We’re not really sure how or what or where, but things are not supposed to be as bad as they are now. We’re not supposed to see pain, suffering and misery. There is only supposed to be enjoyment. The object of faith will grant that enjoyment as reward for allegiance.

The skeptic of religion will use this common understanding as the basis for their skepticism.

“Religion is really for the less intelligent. Those who can’t make it on their own presently turn to the magical man in the sky to solve their problems. They think that by suffering right now all of their problems will be solved in the future. They give up fun for no reason today and then try to get everyone else to do the same. They speak of heaven, but they have no idea what it is. They say that the people who don’t believe will be punished in hell, but to me hell is having to listen to these people. They’re really no different than anyone else; it’s just their means of searching for happiness is different.”

The Vedic tradition, which is the root of all religious traditions, including the faith of Hinduism, explains both material and spiritual life. Material life is that which is not related to the spirit soul, which is the essence of identity. Material life is an art form that operates on the nature consisting of earth, water, fire, air and ether. The mind, intelligence and ego are the subtle elements of this nature, making psychology and similar studies art forms as well. Material life is briefly covered in the Vedic tradition, for in life outside of spiritual knowledge the material is the sole focus.

[Praying]The coverage of spiritual life is more comprehensive, and there are varying levels of it. It all depends on what you want. If you want peace of mind, spiritual life can give it to you. Do you want to find a better place in the afterlife? Do you want to be free of stress? Do you want to see peace and harmony, at least in your own life? Follow religion at the basic level, where you believe in the supreme controller, who is known as Ishvara, Allah, God, the Almighty, or by some other name that similarly lacks specifics.

The essence of spiritual life is different from all faiths and all arts of material life. Bhakti-yoga, or devotional service, is the constitutional position of the living entity. The living entity is the individual life force that can appear in many different species. Each living being is the same at the core, though from appearance it seems otherwise. The constitutional position is devotion, which is pure love. This love is not dependent on outside factors, and when exercised purely it cannot be checked, even by the powerful material nature.

Sita Devi shows us how this works. She is the goddess of fortune, who is the eternal consort of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Bhagavan is a more accurate term to describe the man in the sky whom we can’t know much about without consulting authorized information. Mental speculation alone will never bring us to understanding God the person and the people who are devoted to Him.

In this verse from the Ramayana, Sita says that when she heard her husband Rama had been banished to the forest, she prepared so quickly that she was ready to go even before Him. This is humorous in a sense, as Rama was the only one ordered to leave. He was ready to have Sita stay at home. He told her as much. Sita’s description given here to Shri Hanuman says that she was prepared even before Rama tried to convince her to remain at home and be safe.

Sita gives justification for her decision. She says that even residence in heaven would not be preferable to her, should it mean separation from her husband. This is the meaning to bhakti-yoga. This is the real definition of religion. When the spirit soul has found true love in devotion to God the person, material life completely loses significance. Someone could offer you millions of dollars and many years of enjoyment of wine, food and the like. Someone could offer you complete safety, without any worry for necessities. The catch is that you will be without the Supreme Lord. If you are in the devotional consciousness, you will not even think about accepting this.

[Sita and Rama]This attitude is different, difficult to understand at first, and unfathomable to those who only know of religion as faith. There is no faith involved here for Sita. She is ready to leave before Rama, which means that she doesn’t care what He says. She will not be bought off by the luxuries of royal life. Sita plays the role of a princess and Rama a prince. Though she is originally the goddess of fortune, she has no attachment to that opulence. Her thinking is one way: devotion to God. Even if it means living in the forest, which is the embodiment of renunciation, she is not afraid. The devoted souls have this confidence because they know that the true purpose to an existence is the association of the all-attractive and all-merciful Supreme Lord, who is God for everyone.

In Closing:

As faith religion’s first impression,

Heaven for worldly desires’ suppression.

 

The real meaning from Sita take,

How better today and tomorrow to make.

 

By her having devotion strong,

Ready for renunciation long.

 

Not even Supreme Lord to stop,

Consciousness of Him never to drop.

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Sannyasa and Women

Posted by krishnasmercy on February 2, 2015

[Sita and Rama]“Giving up His very valuable upper garments, that very celebrated one put aside any thoughts of the kingdom and told me to stay with His mother.” (Sita Devi speaking to Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 33.26)

sa vihāya uttarīyāṇi mahāarhāṇi mahāyaśāḥ ||
visṛjya manasā rājyam jananyai mām samādiśat |

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Situated right beneath the purest system of living that is bhakti-yoga is varnashrama-dharma. Real love and devotion to God is difficult for anyone in the conditioned life to reclaim, so there are ways to help reach that elusive destination in a gradual process. What separates man from the animal community is religion, which also goes by such names as religiosity, duty and piety. Undoubtedly the most difficult institution to accept and follow in the varnashrama system is sannyasa, which is complete renunciation. The foundation of this institution is separation from women, especially attachment to them. In this verse from the Ramayana, Sita Devi confirms that the Supreme Lord is always as good as a sannyasi in mind, even if the less intelligent think otherwise.

Why is sannyasa necessary? What are the other institutions?

The first is brahmacharya, or student life. Taking the duration of life to be one hundred years, each phase gets allotted twenty-five years. So the first quarter of life is spent learning. What conditions are conducive to learning? Living with the spiritual master, not having outside distractions of marriage and family life, and remaining completely celibate – these are vital for thriving in student life.

[Rama and brothers in Gurukula]The next phase is married life, which is followed by retirement. Sannyasa is after that, and it is something like becoming homeless voluntarily. You can’t accept too much charity, no matter how much someone is willing to give you. You’re not supposed to rely on any one person for your livelihood. You beg, but not at places where you know you will get a lot. You move around, not staying in one place for too long.

The point is that without distractions and attachments you’ll be better able to focus on God, which is the goal of the birth to begin with. Sannyasa is towards the end of life since the closer you are to death, the more important your consciousness becomes. Better to be conscious of God at the end of life than at only the beginning, since with the passage of time you can forget.

Sannyasa benefits others outside of the institution also. That is the real reason for the prohibition from association with women. Sannyasis are best equipped to teach others the fundamental truth of the spiritual science: you are not your body. You are spirit soul at the core, transcendental to the changes that occur to the covering that you have. Others possess the same covering, and so they are spirit at the core also. In this way everyone is equal, going through the same cycles of birth and death, repeatedly, under the laws of karma, until there is a change in consciousness for the better.

anta-kāle ca mām eva

smaran muktvā kalevaram

yaḥ prayāti sa mad-bhāvaṁ

yāti nāsty atra saṁśayaḥ

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

A sannyasi should teach from a position of authority; namely, they should show that they know that they are spirit soul. The greatest indication of ignorance is attachment to someone else’s body. Sex attraction is based on this attachment. If a sannyasi maintains intimate association with women, his power to teach gets diminished a little. Though consciousness is what matters most, reputation helps in getting a message across. The sannyasi becomes a prime target for the ad hominem attack if he shows any signs of attachment to the body.

In His incarnation as Shri Rama, the Supreme Lord set the ideal example for others to follow. He followed dharma very closely, though He didn’t necessarily go through the phases in the typical order. He accepted vanaprastha, retired life, shortly after being married. He did this out of someone else’s choice; namely His father, who was driven to the decision by a jealous wife.

From reading the Ramayana, it is known that Rama did not enter vanaprastha alone. He had His wife Sita Devi with Him. Rama’s younger brother Lakshmana also came along. This makes Rama a ripe target for the enemies of religion. They could say that since He is attached to His wife, He is not spiritually inclined. Though Sita repeatedly describes Him as a knower of the self, the enemies of Rama will say that He is a knower of the body instead, since He had His wife always with Him.

[Sita and Rama in the forest]Here Sita clears up any confusion. She tells Hanuman that Rama asked her to stay at home. Rama was ordered to leave the kingdom of Ayodhya and not return for fourteen years. The order applied only to Him. Sita was not to be affected, so Rama told her to stay under the care of His mother.

In this way Rama is not attached to body. Since He is God, body and soul mean the same thing to Him. At the same time, by Sita coming along, we learn something else about the Supreme Lord. Varnashrama-dharma is not everything. It is not the system that pleases Him the most. In pure devotion, sometimes piety, duty and religiosity get violated. Sita insisted on accompanying Rama. A short argument ensued; one which Rama did not win.

God is won over by devotion. There is no limit to what He will do to please His devotees, who by definition only want to serve Him, think of Him, and be with Him. In this regard, Rama will always be underestimated. The fiend Ravana in Lanka was different. He was always attached to the illusion of maya, and there was no persuading him to do anything proper for someone else’s favor. Sita asked him to return her to Rama, from whose side he had secretly taken her. Ravana refused. Rama gave in to Sita’s requests because He loves His devotees. Through Hanuman, He would find Sita and then come and rescue her.

In Closing:

Since sannyasi from authority to speak,

From women to keep a distant reach.

 

Attachment to body a mistake,

As spirit soul your identity take.

 

Rama with Sita and Lakshmana going,

Prime target by those knowledge forgoing.

 

Actually Sita at home told to stay,

But to bhaktas Rama ready to give way.

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Talking About Creating An Idol

Posted by krishnasmercy on January 30, 2015

[flowers offered at Krishna's feet]“O son of Kunti, all that you do, all that you eat, all that you offer and give away, as well as all austerities that you may perform, should be done as an offering unto Me.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.27)

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yat karoṣi yad aśnāsi

yaj juhoṣi dadāsi yat

yat tapasyasi kaunteya

tat kuruṣva mad-arpaṇam

Friend1: How important is routine in bhakti-yoga?

Friend2: It’s very important. You know that.

Friend1: I’m obviously laying the groundwork for a specific question. But first set the table for me. What things constitute the routine?

Friend2: You chant every day. That’s the most important thing.

Friend1: What do you chant?

Friend2: The holy names. God has many names. He is not limited to one. In the Vaishnava tradition we take Krishna to be the most potent name. Rama is a close second. Hare is the name for God’s energy.

Friend1: So is chanting all there is to the daily routine?

Friend2: It can be. If you have more time, if you’re eager to do more service, there are other things.

Friend1: Like what?

Friend2: There’s cooking. Instead of preparing food for your own satisfaction, you make things that God would like. He outlines those foods, which are in the mode of goodness, in the Bhagavad-gita [9.26].

Friend1: How do you present the food to God?

[Lord Krishna]Friend2: There is something called the deity. God is formless in the sense that He is not limited by His attributes in the way that we are. I am a certain height, but you can’t say that God is. I have eyes, but they can’t see through walls. God’s eyes can see everything. The deity is His mercy upon us. Though it looks a certain way, it is merely a depiction of His sweetness. And yet through that depiction the full presence of God comes. Thus the food prepared for Him and offered with love is presented before such a form, which can reside in the home or the temple.

Friend1: Nice answer. Very thorough.

Friend2: Condescension duly noted.

Friend1: Okay, so you’re doing things like this every day. You’re also praising Him, right?

Friend2: Of course. Why wouldn’t we? As you can tell, in devotional service your whole life is dedicated to God. Even if it looks otherwise, that you’re working to earn a paycheck to be spent by your family, if your mind is in a certain direction everything that you do is love and devotion.

Friend1: Since bhakti-yoga is endless, someone could ostensibly follow the routine you outlined for years and years.

Friend2: Absolutely. In fact, when they pray to God, they ask that they be allowed to continue this service for lifetime after lifetime.

Friend1: Okay, so here’s my real question. Don’t you ever find that a little odd?

Friend2: Find what odd?

Friend1: That you’re worshiping the same person all the time. Isn’t it weird to keep praising someone, day after day? I’m assuming that if you’re a writer in bhakti, your words are about God. So if you’re writing fulltime, you’re stuck on the same topic every day.

[Shrila Rupa Gosvami]Friend2: Boy, that’s a pretty negative way to look at it.

Friend1: It’s a legitimate question, don’t you think?

Friend2: It would be if all you’ve got is your experience of everything that is not God. Outside of bhakti, if you write a hundred books on a single leader of a nation, it’s a little weird.

Friend1: Yeah, people will think that you’re a groupie. They will think that you’ve got nothing better to do than focus your mind on someone who is fallible.

Friend2: By golly my good friend, you’ve stumbled upon the answer, though you probably don’t realize it.

Friend1: How? What did I say?

Friend2: Fallible. All living beings make mistakes. They have imperfect senses. They are easily illusioned, and they tend to cheat. Therefore it’s a little odd to be so hung up on a human being. God is not this way. He is above defects. His attributes are beyond description. Yet trying to describe them is so blissful.

Friend1: But why not spend some days on other people? Why not focus on the weather, sports, nature, news, or something of this world? Wouldn’t that make going back to bhakti more fun?

Friend2: Your premise is flawed. Why should we have to exclude anything? Whatever we see around us can be explained in terms of bhakti. If God is truly the Lord of all planets and the demigods, then His presence must be in every aspect of life. The swanlike transcendentalist can detect this presence, while the less intelligent will claim that God is absent in everything.

Friend1: I see.

Friend2: What you don’t realize is that every writer is doing the same thing we are. They are praising. They are also criticizing. It is said that bhakti is ingrained in the soul; it is the soul’s dharma, or defining characteristic. Hate is nothing more than bhakti inverted. It is like having a mirror and then turning it upside down. The mirror still works, but the image seen is reversed.

Friend1: So you don’t feel like you’re part of a cult? I know that the outsider will think it a little weird that you’re so hung up on God.

Friend2: And we think it’s weird that they’re so hung up on the mundane. We can’t imagine spending your whole life dedicated to someone who doesn’t even know their real identity. We can’t imagine what it’s like to destroy a public figure for a single mistake they have made. We can’t relate to that hate. Bhakti is all-love. Even when there is criticism, it is to get others to turn around to find their true engagement.

Friend1: You didn’t mention how attractive Krishna is. I would think that helps in keeping the flame of devotion lit.

[Lord Krishna]Friend2: That’s a given. If He’s not attractive, why would anyone stay so long on the bhakti path? This devotion to a singular object is fun, most of all. So we’re having fun, and we want everyone to experience the same joy. We know that they won’t find that elsewhere, that they’ll only get glimpses of it. The real thing is the Supreme Lord, and bhakti-yoga is the way to connect with Him.

In Closing:

To continue in service to pray,

To praise Krishna day after day.

 

On the same person stuck,

A little odd to outsiders struck.

 

But attention so much already,

On the mundane, thus unsteady.

 

Creation’s aspects with God included,

Thus in praising Him nothing excluded.

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Ikshvakunandana

Posted by krishnasmercy on January 16, 2015

[Lord Rama]“Then, in the thirteenth year the king along with his teachers prepared for the ceremony of handing over the kingdom to Rama, the delight of the Ikshvaku dynasty.” (Sita Devi speaking to Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 33.18)

tataḥ trayodaśe varṣe rājyena ikṣvāku nandanam ||
abhiṣecayitum rājā sa upādhyāyaḥ pracakrame |

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Of all names, the holy name is the most significant. It is the preferred mechanism for connecting with the Supreme Lord, the original proprietor of everything, the person who is ultimately in charge of the forces that govern. The holy name is powerful because it creates the presence of the person addressed through the use of sound. We can say “water” over and over again, but it doesn’t mean that we’ll get water. We can also call out to our beloved, but sound alone will not bring their presence. Not so with the holy name; hence its significance.

Which name should you choose? What if you don’t really know what God is? Where does He live? What does He look like? The Vedic tradition often depicts Him as blue, but why is that? Why does He sometimes carry around a flute and other times hold a bow in His hand?

[infinity]One of the properties belonging to God is infiniteness. In math we learn about greater than and less than. The number two is greater than one. One is less than two. If you want to find a number that is greater than all numbers, you’ll fail. The word “infinity” is used to describe this situation. That which is infinite is without measure. It is the greatest, but there is no way to quantify it.

The holy name describes God. Since He is infinite, so too the descriptions of Him are without end. This means that there is an endless amount of names. Some are more important than others, as they are better at bringing the complete picture to the mind. Think of it like remembering someone by their clothes versus thinking of them by their character and nature. So many names only vaguely describe God, while others are more specific and highlight His transcendental qualities of importance to the yogis, those who are looking to transcend the dualities of the material nature.

Many of the more significant names have the suffix “nandana” in them. This Sanskrit word means “one who delights.” “Son” is another meaning, but in fact there is no difference, as the son is meant to give delight to the parents. Pick any of the names that include this suffix and you’ll get plenty to think about. You’ll get a host of memories arriving in your mind, waiting to settle in and stay for the long haul.

[Krishna and Yashoda]Likely the most famous of these names is Yashodanandana. With this name, we find out that God gives delight to Yashoda, who is a mother in Vrindavana. God in this form is known as Krishna, since He is all-attractive. Yashoda plays the role of a foster mother, but in fact no one can be the mother or father of Krishna. He is the original person, so when there is a relationship to a mother, it is only to give her delight.

Krishna gives delight to mother Yashoda by being an adorable son. He plays in her courtyard. He drinks the milk that she provides. He eats the butter she churns with her own hands. He plays out in the fields with His friends during the day and then returns home at night to eat the wonderful preparations that Yashoda makes. She loves Him so much, and He is there to accept that love. In every way, Krishna delights Yashoda.

The same Krishna is also known as Yadunandana. In this role He gives delight to the Yadu dynasty of kings. So many pious kings appeared in this line, but Krishna is the one who stands out. He made that dynasty truly famous, delivering the Bhagavad-gita on the battlefield of Kurukshetra to Arjuna, who played the role of His cousin.

From the above referenced verse from the Ramayana, we get the name Ikshvakunandana. This has a similar meaning, except it refers to God in His role as Rama, the son of King Dasharatha. The dynasty here is the Ikshvaku, and it descends from the deity that is the sun. The Yadu dynasty is from the moon deity.

“The family in which Krishna appeared is called the Yadu dynasty. This Yadu dynasty belongs to the family descending from Soma, the god in the moon planet. There are two different kshatriya families of the royal order, one descending from the king of the moon planet and the other descending from the king of the sun planet. Whenever the Supreme Personality of Godhead appears, He generally appears in a kshatriya family because He has to establish religious principles or the life of righteousness.” (Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Introduction)

The person speaking here is Sita Devi, the wife of Rama. She is explaining to Shri Hanuman about her previous circumstances. She lived with Rama in Ayodhya for twelve years. In the thirteenth year, it was time for the name Ikshvakunandana to earn its true meaning. Without being a king in that line, how would Rama delight it? Therefore Dasharatha and his teachers, the royal priests, started preparing for the ceremony to hand the throne over to Rama.

[Sita and Rama]Ikshvakunandana’s coronation would have to wait, as He had other things to take care of first. He would delight the dynasty in many ways, such as by defeating the evil king Ravana and rescuing Sita. Hanuman’s brave journey to Lanka and successful search for Sita is an extension of Rama’s might. This means that Hanuman delights that dynasty as well. So many good people and glorious events come to mind from a single name; such is the power of the sound that addresses the Supreme Lord.

In Closing:

Appearing in dynasty of sun so bright,

Rama to Ikshvakus giving delight.

 

So significant is just one holy name,

Its sound bringing Lord’s presence the same.

 

Though coronation for Rama set and ready,

Plans changed, through it Lord remained steady.

 

Delight to come to family line in many ways,

Like rescuing Sita by arrows released in a blaze.

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Nothing To Be Changed

Posted by krishnasmercy on January 12, 2015

Sita Devi“Hearing his words, Sita was delighted by the mention of Rama. She then spoke the following words to Hanuman, who was seated on a tree.” (Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 33.14)

sā tasya vacanam śrutvā rāma kīrtana harṣitā ||
uvāca vākyam vaidehī hanūmantam druma āśritam |

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If you’re really missing someone, isn’t it better to just forget about them? Not to insult the relationship you have to them, and not to downplay what they mean to you, but forget them for a short while as a means of coping. Isn’t this option better than constantly longing for the reunion, whose time and existence are uncertain? From the reaction of Sita Devi in the Ashoka grove in Lanka, we see that when it comes to the association of the Supreme Lord the devoted souls are helpless. They must long for His association when separated, and conversely they must feel tremendous delight when gaining His company, even if it is through a mere mention.

Everyone has this longing originally. This means that everyone has tried the option of forgetfulness. Instead of missing the person of only good attributes, gunas, the separated living entity chooses to do anything else. That anything else is known as the material existence. The life is characterized as such since the focus is on that which is not the Supreme Lord. He is indeed everything, but the spiritual is what represents Him directly. The material is the association indirectly, and it is the shelter for those who choose forgetfulness.

sarvasya cāhaṁ hṛdi sanniviṣṭo

mattaḥ smṛtir jñānam apohanaṁ ca

vedaiś ca sarvair aham eva vedyo

vedānta-kṛd veda-vid eva cāham

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

Indeed, it is through God’s sanction that forgetfulness is even possible. He is the source behind remembrance as well. When the child emerges from the womb and gradually learns how to walk and talk, it is due to the natural intelligence provided by the Supreme Lord. Forgetfulness of Him is a choice we make, and He does not interfere with our decision.

Let’s say that we made this choice a long time back. The Supreme Lord gives us forgetfulness, so that means that we can’t remember when we made this choice. We can’t remember when the option was presented to us. Nevertheless, now we are in a material existence. We still have attachments. Leaving one place does not mean that we have permanently left behind longing.

Every day so many attachments are formed. We innocently decide to watch a television game show one day. Then we develop a habit. Pretty soon we have our favorite players. We want them to win. When they lose the big game, we are sad. We wish for their success, and failure leads to unhappiness. All of this came about through an attachment formed at the beginning.

The original separation from God did not bring us the peace of mind we thought it would. In fact, the life of longing for Him is superior to the life of forgetting Him, even if the circumstances seem to say otherwise. For example, in the land of Lanka a long time ago Sita Devi found herself separated from her friends and family. Practically none of the people in this land were her well-wishers. The evil king had dragged her there against her will. She was already married, but Ravana did not care. He wanted to make her his chief queen.

Aside from her own misfortune, there was the terrible longing that Sita felt. Her husband possesses the best qualities. He is the source of remembrance and forgetfulness, the person to whom every living thing is intimately tied. Sita was with Him in the personal form of Rama, happily going with Him wherever He went. Now she was separated from Him, wondering if she would ever meet Him again.

Based upon the previous analysis, one option for her would be to forget. Simply eliminate the thought of Rama. Pretend like she never knew Him. Take shelter of the present surroundings, which offered every material delight. Indeed, so many would choose this option as a way to cope, but for Sita it is impossible. When separated from Rama, she must feel longing. And when hearing of Him, she must feel delight.

In this situation the delight came through Shri Hanuman, who did Rama-kirtana. The word “kirtana” is generally associated with chanting the holy names, such as in the maha-mantra: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. Kirtana also means “to describe.” Hanuman did that when he first approached Sita. He was sent to find her by Rama, and he had succeeded in that. He needed a way to introduce himself, though.

[Sita and Hanuman]Kirtana can also mean “to mention.” All it takes is a mere mention of Rama in a good light for Sita to become happy. Rama-kirtana brings her great pleasure, irrespective of other conditions. Even if Rama is apparently not presently by her, just hearing about Him gives her some relief. That relief, even if brief, brings more happiness than any kind of so-called enjoyment available in a life of forgetfulness.

Each person is meant to reawaken their longing for God, who promises to come to anyone who genuinely wants His company. This means that He will not necessarily be with the person who asks Him for things that will lead to further forgetfulness. Money, fame, women, wine, opulence, beauty and the like – God can give these very easily to any person. Yet as standalones, none of these will bring remembrance of Him, so they will also not bring His association, even if He is the one granting them.

The constitutional position of the living entity cannot be changed. Even if there is perfection in mystic yoga, with nirvana achieved, the fact of the individual spirit soul being delighted by Rama-kirtana will not change. Rama is also Krishna and Vishnu. He is known as Hari as well. So any kind of kirtana of the Supreme Personality of Godhead will bring a variety of delight far superior to what is available under any other consciousness.

In Closing:

When mind on departing is set,

Supreme Lord allowing you to forget.

 

Experience showing that not the wisest choice,

With new attachments to longing to give voice.

 

Better if for God’s company to long,

And gain it through maha-mantra’s song.

 

Rama-kirtana to Sita to bring delight,

Whether in peace or in perilous plight.

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