Krishna's Mercy

Hare Krishna

Spoken To An Extraordinary Man

Posted by krishnasmercy on May 27, 2015

[Arjuna]“It is not possible for an ordinary man to leave home and go to a secluded place in the mountains or jungles to practice yoga in this age of Kali.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 6.33 Purport)

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The famous Bhagavad-gita was spoken to an extraordinary person. Though that person was in need of help, though he was bewildered moments prior to a great conflict, though he was dependent on the words to come from his teacher – by all other accounts that person, Arjuna, was amazing. He was to lead his side against a formidable foe. He was an elevated soul, a good friend to the Supreme Personality of Godhead Shri Krishna. Being extraordinary, Arjuna’s opinion on the system of meditational yoga, practiced correctly, is instructive.

What is this meditational yoga? How is it practiced? What is its goal? The goal is easy to decipher. We simply have to look at the beginning of the Bhagavad-gita. Arjuna is in distress. He’s not sure what to do next. He’s not afraid of losing. On the contrary, he’s pretty sure his side has a good chance of winning. He’s not afraid of doing the wrong thing; he understands that his side is with piety. They are the rightful heirs to the throne in Hastinapura. He and his four brothers were tortured many times by the rival party. That side, led by Duryodhana, tried to kill Arjuna and his brothers in different ways. But Arjuna’s side, known as the Pandavas, escaped alive each time.

Arjuna is afraid of what will happen when his side wins. In the party of the Kauravas are respected personalities as well. One of them is Arjuna’s teacher. Arjuna thinks that victory won’t make him happy. He’s contemplating giving up, casting aside his bow and arrow and taking up residence in the forest. There he will live like an ascetic. He won’t be part of a ghastly war, and therefore he’ll be free of the sin incurred from killing his fellow man. At least this was his logic supporting his desire.

It was to this person, in this situation, that the Bhagavad-gita was spoken. Yoga is an integral part of that discussion. Though Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, when He presents a discourse He follows the system of etiquette adhered to by great teachers since the beginning of time. He explains all possible options and He cites authority each time. He does not simply demand faith from everyone else. He gives the best explanation possible for the time and circumstance.

amaṁ kāya-śiro-grīvaṁ
dhārayann acalaṁ sthiraḥ
samprekṣya nāsikāgraṁ svaṁ
diśaś cānavalokayan

praśāntātmā vigata-bhīr
brahmacāri-vrate sthitaḥ
manaḥ saṁyamya mac-citto
yukta āsīta mat-paraḥ

“One should hold one’s body, neck and head erect in a straight line and stare steadily at the tip of the nose. Thus with an unagitated, subdued mind, devoid of fear, completely free from sex life, one should meditate upon Me within the heart and make Me the ultimate goal of life.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 6.13-14)

[meditational yoga]Within that explanation is found the proper procedures for executing meditational yoga. This yoga is for linking the individual soul with the Supreme Soul. There is no other purpose. Exercise is an afterthought. Arjuna was already fit. Pacifying the mind wasn’t the main concern, either. The mind is a product of the material body, after all. Yoga is for transcending the material, for becoming immersed completely in the spiritual.

The option of genuine meditational yoga carries strict requirements. The yogi should find a secluded place. They should sit erect on a mat made of deerskin. They should shut the eyes, but not completely. They should focus their vision on the tip of the nose. They should have no traces of sex life. And these conditions taken together should be permanent. They should not be for five minutes a day. Krishna does not make any mention of going on a yoga retreat.

arjuna uvāca
yo ‘yaṁ yogas tvayā proktaḥ
sāmyena madhusūdana
etasyāhaṁ na paśyāmi
cañcalatvāt sthitiṁ sthirām

“Arjuna said: O Madhusudana, the system of yoga which you have summarized appears impractical and unendurable to me, for the mind is restless and unsteady.” (Bg. 6.33)

Listening to everything carefully, Arjuna does not accept this path. He thinks that it is impossible to conduct. This is not the path that Krishna wanted him to accept, either. So Arjuna’s decision was the intelligent one. He correctly noted that the system was impractical for the time. As mentioned previously, Arjuna was not an ordinary man. There are no fighters like him around today. It takes great concentration and skill to do the things Arjuna could do. This means that his mind was already controlled. Though he showed mental frailty at the beginning of the Bharata War, he was actually extremely mentally tough.

[Arjuna]Meditational yoga was impractical for such an elevated person living in a much purer time, some five thousand years ago. The natural deduction is that the system is even more impractical in the modern age. The culmination of all yogas is bhakti anyway. Mental speculation, fruitive work with the results renounced, and meditation with sitting postures and breathing exercises are all meant to end in pure love and devotion to the Supreme Lord.

The other paths are viable options since it is difficult to surrender to a higher personality in the beginning. From the time of birth man is focused on svartha, or self-interest. The interest in the afterlife is known as paramartha, and it is also a kind of self-interest; one that merely arrives at a later time. The different yogas allow for spiritual advancement while the focus remains on self-interest. Bhakti-yoga is true selflessness, and it is the only system that merges svartha and paramartha into one.

Leaving home is not required for practicing bhakti-yoga. Neither is remaining in seclusion. Arjuna practiced bhakti through fighting heroically in a war. The gopis of Vrindavana were in bhakti through association with God personally. Yashoda and Nanda practiced bhakti through parental affection. Meditation is always an option, but it is not the only means. Especially at present, when times are turbulent and it is difficult to find any peace, the recommended pathway is the sankirtana-yajna, which is practiced in association with others who have a mentality similar to Arjuna’s. Chant the holy names with faith, love and devotion and become a perfect yogi: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

In Closing:

In fighting ability Arjuna extraordinary,

Recipient of Gita thus not a man ordinary.


To him meditational yoga described,

But not path by Krishna prescribed.


Difficult for even Arjuna to do,

Then the same for modern age too.


Better on path of devotion to set,

Same results and more to get.

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Talking About How Intent Matters

Posted by krishnasmercy on May 26, 2015

[Arjuna]“For a kshatriya, a military man, shooting arrows at the enemy is considered transcendental, and refraining from such a duty is demoniac. Therefore, there was no cause for Arjuna to lament. Anyone who performs the regulated principles of the different orders of life is transcendentally situated.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 16.5 Purport)

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Friend-One: I was watching a funny episode of Growing Pains the other night.

Friend-Two: Yeah? That’s back on television?

F1: I found it on one of the channels. It must have just come back.

F2: Which episode was this?

F1: The one where Jason’s mom has that new love interest, Wally. Jason, though a psychiatrist by profession, nevertheless succumbs to some of his insecurities. He feels like Wally is replacing his dad, who passed away many years prior.

F2: There were several of those episodes, right? Jason doesn’t like Wally at all. I distinctly remember him going to the kitchen in one episode and talking about succotash.

F1: [laughing] Yeah, it’s him being passive aggressive. Anyway, something in this episode caught my attention. The character of Wally formerly served in the military. Taking this opportunity to make a dig at him, Jason asks Wally if he killed anyone while in service.

F2: Oh man. That’s bad. You’re not supposed to ask military people that.

F1: Exactly. That’s why it was so funny. Anyway, I saw this episode several times when I was a kid and that line never stuck with me. But now it sort of does. It makes you think. What must it be like to kill another human being? I mean isn’t that considered the greatest crime, normally?

F2: It is. It’s an interesting point to study, as the Bhagavad-gita has this issue as the backdrop. The heroic fighter Arjuna doesn’t want to succeed in a war, even though he is not the aggressor. He’s afraid of winning, not losing.

F1: You know, that fact always seems to escape me when reading that book. You hear about the Supreme Controller, the living entities, the material nature, time and karma. The philosophy is so rich that it’s easy to forget the starting point, the setting to the famous conversation between Krishna and Arjuna.

F2: It makes you appreciate Krishna’s genius that much more. The philosophy is that birth and death, happiness and sadness, high and low – these are temporary. The concepts of good and bad, they’re relative. What better way to get this point across than to show how a person can do one of the most horrible things, kill other people, and not have it be wrong. Despite the massive killing, Arjuna and his party were behaving piously.

[Arjuna]F1: Because they were following Krishna, right? Krishna is God. Otherwise there has to be some sin incurred.

F2: Well, the Krishna part is certainly true. But in the general philosophy, the idea is that the action is authorized. It’s sanctioned by a high authority. People kill right now, without any thought of God, and they don’t get punished for it.

F1: Like with military people and police officers. But isn’t what they’re doing wrong? They’ve ended another person’s life.

F2: It’s the intent that matters. This is how the law works. If you’re killing in defense of the innocent, it’s not a violation. If you’re aggressive simply to satisfy your personal desires, then you’re at fault.

F1: I see.

F2: Think of the storefront window. A thief throws a brick into it in order to break it. They do this with the intent of going into the store and stealing. The widespread practice is known as looting, which I’m sure you’ve seen on television.

F1: I have.

[fireman breaking window]F2: Now take the same storefront window in the time of an emergency. If there’s a fire in the building and people are trapped, a fireman will break the window without hesitation. They are doing this to save lives. The intent is different. Though they both performed the same action, the fireman is a hero, whereas the thief is a criminal.

F1: Oh, that’s a good point. So that would work with something like the Rajasuya sacrifice, too? Someone was asking me about that the other day. They were wondering how Yudhishthira Maharaja is any different than say Alexander the Great.

F2: Because the Rajasuya sacrifice involves getting all the neighboring kings to acknowledge your supremacy? And because if they don’t acknowledge, they have to fight and risk being conquered?

F1: Yeah, this person was equating Yudhishthira, the eldest of the five Pandava brothers, with tyrants from history who were hungry to expand their empires. I think your point on intent clears things up, though.

F2: Yeah, Yudhishthira is very dear to Krishna. He performed the sacrifice at Krishna’s insistence. There was no desire to expand the kingdom or flex muscles. You need brave fighters in society. Others would simply rather complain about aggressors from the past. They don’t realize that such aggression can only be avoided with a competing display of strength. To display strength means to fight on occasion and win. So Yudhishthira wasn’t doing anything wrong. Neither was Arjuna. The devotees of the Lord are never handcuffed by mundane rules of morality created by the less intelligent.

F1: But what if you’re not a devotee? If you’re fighting to protect people, is that good?

[Shrila Prabhupada]F2: His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada says that a person who follows the principles of their respective order in life is transcendentally situated. This pertains to the reactions they get to the work. If you’re a warrior by character and occupation, if you perform the duties of that role, you are not implicated with bad karma. You are making some advancement spiritually. The fastest advancement takes place through pure devotion, but even in following prescribed duties there is a benefit. Again, it’s the intent that matters. The best intent is to work for Krishna under authority of a person who is dear to Him. To want to please God with your work is the best intent to have, and if it is sincere the desire alone will bring success.

In Closing:

Not simply for power to project,

Warrior the innocent to protect.


Reaction dependent on intent,

Whether sinful or in piety bent.


Arjuna principles of order in,

So work on battlefield not incurring sin.


To please Krishna intent the best,

Working for Him, Lord to take care of the rest.

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Talking About Jealousy

Posted by krishnasmercy on May 25, 2015

[Krishna speaking to Arjuna]“The Supreme Lord said: My dear Arjuna, because you are never envious of Me, I shall impart to you this most secret wisdom, knowing which you shall be relieved of the miseries of material existence.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.1)

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śrī-bhagavān uvāca
idaṁ tu te guhyatamaṁ
pravakṣyāmy anasūyave
jñānaṁ vijñāna-sahitaṁ
yaj jñātvā mokṣyase ‘śubhāt

Friend-One: Can I admit something to you?

Friend-Two: Sure. But you don’t want me to tell anyone else?

F1: That’s a given.

F2: Okay, I won’t.

F1: I mean it. This is just between you and me.

F2: Who am I going to tell? I barely talk to anyone.

F1: Right, that’s what you always say. And then later on I come to know that everyone around me heard about my embarrassing incident.

F2: So what happened this time? Your car run out of gas again?

F1: [laughing] No. It’s more of something I felt. Namely, jealousy.

F2: You’re jealous of me? I think we’ve both always known that.

F1: Yeah, you wish. No, this is something I’ve been thinking about. I realized that I am always jealous to some degree, even when I have no reason to be. Take the example of a family visit the other day.

F2: Okay.

F1: We went to our cousin’s house. He and his wife just had their first baby.

F2: Oh, that’s good news. Boy or girl?

F1: Boy. Cute little guy too. I held him for a while and he smiled. Hardly cried. Anyway, after being there for a few hours, I began to get jealous of all the attention he got.

F2: That’s natural for siblings. But for adults? Not so much. You wanted to be the glory hog?

F1: I know! I felt bad afterwards. But in doing an honest assessment, I realized that there’s always some jealousy in me. If I hear that someone has bought a new home or a new car, I immediately think about my own situation. If my home is smaller, I start making excuses. “Well, I don’t need a big place to live in.” Or I’ll say, “Well, think of the headache they’re going to have in maintaining that car. I’m proud that my car is old. This way I don’t get any attention.”

F2: So you want to know if you’re a horrible person for feeling jealous? For starters, as long as you’re not acting off of it, I think you’re okay.

F1: What do you mean by acting off of it?

F2: Are you sabotaging the other cars? Are you suddenly working harder so that you’ll be able to buy a bigger house?

F1: Oh, I see what you’re saying. No. I still feel bad, though. I should know better. From studying the spiritual science presented in the Bhagavad-gita, I should know that material things aren’t that important. But I can’t help it, really.

F2: See, you’re focused on completely getting rid of envy, when that is really not necessary.

[Krishna speaking to Arjuna]F1: No? Doesn’t Krishna say at one point that Arjuna is not envious of Him and that is why he’s receiving the king of education?

F2: He does.

F1: And since envy is rooted in ignorance, isn’t it something I should strive to remove?

F2: I’m not telling you to be jealous of everyone and everything. What I’m saying is that you can purify things like envy by shifting the focus. If your jealousy is in a particular area, it can actually help you.

F1: How so?

F2: Why not be jealous of the people who are immersed in bhakti-yoga? They always get to chant the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. They are essentially with God all the time, who is all-attractive. If anyone should be envied, it’s them.

F1: I see what you’re saying. But shouldn’t I appreciate their service? Isn’t that how devotees are supposed to act?

[Radha-Krishna deities]F2: Well, exactly. The envy comes from the appreciation. You see how much they please Krishna and you wish you could do the same. You see? The envy motivates you to be more like them.

F1: So that I’ll act in ways where I am more conscious of God? That’s interesting.

F2: If you’re comparing objects of value, nothing is worth more than the association of the Supreme Lord. Every person has it within their heart, but they don’t know it. That’s what it means to be in ignorance. Real knowledge is awareness of Krishna’s universal presence. It is knowing that He is an individual like you and me, only much greater.

F1: I’m assuming the same rule applies, about sabotaging?

[Prahlada and Narasimha]F2: [laughing] Yes. You don’t want to be like Hiranyakashipu. He tried to interfere with his son’s service to the point that Krishna Himself appeared on the scene to give protection. That example is illustrative of the point to take away here. The envy in that case was towards God, not really Prahlada. So that’s really what we’re trying to avoid. We’re riddled with faults, so it’s difficult to be completely pure in deeds, let alone thoughts. We’re also constantly filled with desires. If we can purify those desires, then the jealousy gets purified as well.

In Closing:

When success of others to see,

A little jealous inside to be.


Not completely rid, change instead,

Towards work of devotees be led.


Envy that with Krishna always living,

And pure devotion to Him giving.


From that example to make pure,

To get Lord’s association for sure.

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Saying So Much From So Little

Posted by krishnasmercy on May 24, 2015

[Krishna speaking to Arjuna]“This knowledge is the king of education, the most secret of all secrets. It is the purest knowledge, and because it gives direct perception of the self by realization, it is the perfection of religion. It is everlasting, and it is joyfully performed.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.2)

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rāja-vidyā rāja-guhyaṁ
pavitram idam uttamam
pratyakṣāvagamaṁ dharmyaṁ
su-sukhaṁ kartum avyayam

If you took only the text of the Sanskrit verses from the Bhagavad-gita, you would get a book that is pretty small. It could fit inside of a pocket, if need be. Yet that small work turns into a much larger reference guide through a bona fide commentary. The person who remains faithful to the verses and simply explains their significance to the respective audience, accounting for time and circumstance, can continue speaking, saying so much in the process. The resulting work is all due to a few short verses.

Why mention the ability of Sanskrit verses to expand like this? We know that there is so much to read already. A person at the office surfs the internet as a way to cure boredom. It is also a vehicle for procrastination. If they come to a point where they can’t think of any more sites to navigate, a friend can joke to them that they have reached the end of the internet.

[classic books]But in fact there is no end. The news is endless. Time accounts for this. If you finish reading today’s newspaper, there is always tomorrow’s. Then there is the one from two days ago. If you’ve read every newspaper since you were born, there are still the many that were published prior to your birth. Based on the newspaper example we see that there is so much available to read. This is without mentioning the classic novels, biographies, and historical texts that are also available.

What are these works saying? What does the newspaper teach? Someone dies. Someone lives. Someone attacks the character of someone else. Someone famous gets caught doing something bad. A politician breaks a campaign promise. It is revealed that a noted television news anchor has been a fraud. A war hero returns to his country and gets a medal. A sports franchise wins another championship.

Among other things, the Bhagavad-gita says that the soul does not die. It does not take birth, either. This is interesting. So what are birth and death, then? They relate to the body, which is temporary. That body does not identify the individual. When a specific body type arrives for a spirit soul and that combination then makes a visible appearance, we call the event birth. When the same body stops functioning, when the soul leaves for another body, that is called death.

na jāyate mriyate vā kadācin
nāyaṁ bhūtvā bhavitā vā na bhūyaḥ
ajo nityaḥ śāśvato ‘yaṁ purāṇo
na hanyate hanyamāne śarīre

“For the soul there is never birth nor death. Nor, having once been, does he ever cease to be. He is unborn, eternal, ever-existing, undying and primeval. He is not slain when the body is slain.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.20)

This one verse says so much. It has significance to practically everything experienced in life, for the combination of body and spirit is everywhere. This one verse speaks to the nature of time and space as well. The fact that the soul lives on means that time does not influence its existence. The body references space. The body is what we see. It is what roams through space, which is infinite.

So much new literature can be published that uses this verse as a foundation. This verse helps to explain everything we see around us. From this verse we learn that the great lamentation that occurs at the passing of a famous person is not necessary, since that person has not had their existence altered. We understand that the feverish pursuit for a temporary reward is not worth it, as the object’s temporary nature leads to its gradual loss of influence. Why work for something that you won’t get to keep with you for too long? And yes, in the grand scheme, the lifetime of the human being is small. It is like a tiny point on a chart; almost imperceptible.

[Prabhupada with books]This single verse from the Bhagavad-gita already teaches us that people come and go. Thus the volumes of literature focused on the material are not needed. To associate with the body is the default mentality. It does not have to be taught. A fascinating truth revealed by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada touches on the mention of sacrifice and austerity in religious works. The great guru says that things like eating do not need to be taught. Any person can figure out how to eat. The same goes for interaction with the opposite sex. These things are mentioned in religious works for restriction purposes only. With restriction, which only the human being has the intelligence to intentionally implement, the mind becomes more sober and better equipped to consider higher topics like birth, death, reincarnation, karma, the material nature and the Supreme Controller. The motto is simple living and high thinking.

A small work like the Bhagavad-gita provides lifetimes’ worth of education. The volumes of literature focused on the mundane may emerge victorious when the weight scales are the judge, but in terms of educational value there is no contest. The most important questions, the issues actually pressing for the individual, who is a spark of spirit emanating from the storehouse of spirit, get covered in Vedanta philosophy, which the Bhagavad-gita perfectly explains and more. The fortunate person will take advantage of this work and watch their intelligence ascend to heights never before reached.

In Closing:

Volumes of books and newspapers many,

But real value to them not any.


Because nature of soul not to address,

On temporary pleasures the stress.


From Bhagavad-gita’s verses few and short,

Vast knowledge, fear of death to thwart.


Through restriction to come the sober mind,

Then understanding spirit, matter to leave behind.

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The Benefits of Controlling the Mind

Posted by krishnasmercy on May 23, 2015

[Rama's lotus feet]“Tulsi says that one who is content with the happiness and material profit they receive in life, who has love for Rama’s lotus feet, and whose mind is like a restrained horse, living in the forest or a house is the same for them.” (Dohavali, 62)

jathā lābha santo।sa sukha raghubara carana saneha |
tulasī jo mana khūm̐da sama kānana basahum̐ ki geha ||62||

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The comparison to the horse is very appropriate when describing the mind. In Sanskrit, one word for desire is “manoratha.” This literally means the chariot of the mind. As Shri Krishna says in the Bhagavad-gita, the mind can be the best friend or the worst enemy. In this verse from the Dohavali, Goswami Tulsidas provides one of the benefits of restraining the mind.

uddhared ātmanātmānaṁ
nātmānam avasādayet
ātmaiva hy ātmano bandhur
ātmaiva ripur ātmanaḥ

“A man must elevate himself by his own mind, not degrade himself. The mind is the friend of the conditioned soul, and his enemy as well.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 6.5)

[exam]If you’re taking an important test, you want to be focused. You don’t want to be distracted by concerns for other things. Not that those other things don’t matter. It’s just that during the period in question, intense focus is required. In this instance there is a benefit to controlling the mind. Indeed, in practically all situations the restless mind becomes an enemy.

But how is the mind controlled? Is it simply through will? “Mind, please stop thinking of so many other things. Stop bothering me. I beg of you.” In the example of the examination, the mind gets controlled through focus on a single thing. Essentially, you think of one thing in order to not think of other things.

In bhakti-yoga, the formula is the same. The idea is to restrain the mind, in the way that the back legs of a horse are tied when it is resting. The horse is powerful enough to pull chariots. It can travel swiftly to a destination provided by the rider. But if the horse is not properly controlled, that same potency can lead to harm.

One way to restrain the mind is to be content with whatever you have. If you live in a palace, accept it. There is no need to sell it and buy a larger one. If you live in an apartment, there is no pressing need to move out and buy your own house at the cost of years of debt. Each person’s situation in life is determined by past work, karma. One can try their best to change their situation, but not everything is in their control.

Even if the unsatisfied individual works to change their material situation, it doesn’t mean that they will automatically be happier as a result. This is the real reason for the recommendation to remain content. The wise seers of the Vedic tradition understand that more sense gratification does not lead to more satisfaction. New desires spring up, leaving the individual stuck in a cycle of dependence on change.

We are to restrain the mind by remaining content with what we have. But how do we do that? There is another piece; love for God. Have deep affection for His lotus feet. In this way you’ll want to serve. If you think that God is simply an energy, you won’t know how to serve Him properly. You’ll want to join that energy through renouncing everything. Or you’ll consider everything that is part of that energy to be God; thereby erroneously making objects of service out of practically anything.

The threefold formula provided by Tulsidas gives the long-term benefit of God’s association. That is the eventual destination of the yogi following bhakti. They get that association immediately through chanting the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. They may not realize this right away, but steady practice while maintaining the three aforementioned conditions eventually leads to enlightenment.

For those not patient enough to wait to see the presence of the personal God, there is an immediate benefit to consider. With a restrained mind and contentment in life, coupled with love for God’s feet, there is the ability to live anywhere. You can reside in a desolate forest or a royal palace. You can live in an apartment or a conventional home with a backyard.

[Rama's lotus feet]The mind is controlled, which is a great strength. Worry is due to the mind. So is fear. Discontentment is also a product of the mind. These issues are taken care of when there is love for Rama’s lotus feet. Rama is the object of worship for Goswami Tulsidas, and He fulfills the promise of the poet by always remaining in his consciousness. This is the greatest strength to possess; God in your consciousness. This strength can be acquired by rich and poor alike through practicing bhakti-yoga.

In Closing:

Vision of divine through mind’s sight,

Can be acquired by rich and poor alike.


Whether through wilderness scattering,

Or in palace, dwelling not mattering.


Controlled have you made the mind,

Or restless with constant desires to find?


The formula from Tulsidas take,

And benefits now and tomorrow make.

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Accepting Destiny

Posted by krishnasmercy on May 22, 2015

[Rama's lotus feet]“Tulsi says that one who is content with the happiness and material profit they receive in life, who has love for Rama’s lotus feet, and whose mind is like a restrained horse, living in the forest or a house is the same for them.” (Dohavali, 62)

jathā lābha santo।sa sukha raghubara carana saneha |
tulasī jo mana khūm̐da sama kānana basahum̐ ki geha ||62||

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When is it enough? How much money should a person earn? How many titles should a champion accept before they retire? Is it possible to have a limit? Goswami Tulsidas says that a person should be content with whatever happiness and material profit they get. This is not only his opinion; it is supported by Vedic philosophy, which teaches the science of self-realization. That science also shows the way to reaching the point where the mind is fully content, where it is restrained and yet powerful at the same time.

The example used here is the horse. It can veer off course at any time. The expert rider knows how to control the horse, but this doesn’t mean that the horse no longer has value. When its rear legs are tied, the potential for action remains, but there is control. When needed the horse can be let loose, but it will still be controlled by the rider.

[odometer]We can look to the automobile for a modern-day example. The odometer on the dashboard can reach over 100 miles per hour, but this is not really a safe driving speed, nor is it allowed by the law in most circumstances. Barring the odd, empty road, there is always a speed limit posted that is much below the maximum marker on the odometer. The car is thus very powerful, but it needs to be controlled. Otherwise there could be danger.

One should be happy with what they get in life. This is because the results are due to past actions. No effort needs to be made to find happiness. Both happiness and its counterpart, sadness, arrive in due course, like the summer and winter seasons. In the Bhagavad-gita Shri Krishna says that happiness and sadness arise due to sense perception only. They are more mental than anything. The wise person should not be disturbed by them.

mātrā-sparśās tu kaunteya
āgamāpāyino ‘nityās
tāṁs titikṣasva bhārata

“O son of Kunti, the nonpermanent appearance of happiness and distress, and their disappearance in due course, are like the appearance and disappearance of winter and summer seasons. They arise from sense perception, O scion of Bharata, and one must learn to tolerate them without being disturbed.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.14)

[four seasons]One person takes birth in a rich family. The palace-type house is the only one they’ve experienced. Another person grows up in a moderate size home. Both people should remain content. Material profit means there is potential for changing the circumstances. The rich person can opt for a meager lifestyle and the poor person can work their way up towards a larger home.

The Vedic recommendation is to remain satisfied. That is difficult to do on your own. Tulsidas gives the necessary accompanying factor. He says there should be love for Rama’s lotus feet. This love is not expensive. It doesn’t require enrollment in a four year college and the accompanying student loan debt. It doesn’t require strenuous effort. It can be practiced anywhere, in fact.

That love can exist in the remote forest, where there are little distractions. The sannyasi is a professional wanderer. This institution is the last of the four mentioned in the varnashrama system. A sannyasi doesn’t have to worry about how, where and what to eat. They don’t have to concern themselves with maintaining a home. They roam constantly and accept the mercy of others. This frees up time for loving the lotus feet of Shri Rama, the Supreme Lord. The fact that Rama has feet means that God is a person. His feet are amazing in that they can accept love from many people simultaneously. His feet have the ability to deliver supreme satisfaction and contentment to the worshiper.

[Rama's lotus feet]Since love is the goal, maintaining a home doesn’t disqualify a person from receiving Rama’s mercy. Coupled with the contentment is control of the mind. If you are living in the wilderness and your mind is not controlled, the meager surroundings have no effect on you. If you’re living in a house but not stressed by the pressure to maintain, then you are well-situated. Just because a person travels all the time it doesn’t mean that they are any happier than the person who doesn’t. And just because someone has everything in the home it doesn’t mean that they are automatically content.

Destiny in terms of material rewards should be accepted without objection. Spiritual destiny should be eagerly sought out, as it brings the real form of happiness. That destiny can be created through work done in this valuable human form of life. Love for God is both the means and the objective, and in this age it is easily practiced through the chanting of the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

In Closing:

Not more or less should expect,

The destiny from past karma accept.


Like horses with legs restrained,

Keep mind’s desires contained.


Then no matter living where,

Can practice bhakti there.


Have love for Rama’s lotus feet,

And your spiritual destiny meet.

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Understanding The Four Orders

Posted by krishnasmercy on May 21, 2015

[Rama's lotus feet]“Tulsi says that those who find worldly pleasures tasteless and love for Rama full of taste are very dear to Rama, whether they live in the forest or in a house.” (Dohavali, 61)

je jana rūkhe bi।saya rasa cikane rāma saneha’ |
tulasī te priya rāma ko kānana basahiṃ ki geha’ ||

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What is more important, following rules and regulations or achieving a specific state of mind? In more general terms, is the path more important than the goal? Obviously the goal would be superior, as the path exists to lead to the goal. As long as the path does not involve violating laws of nature meant to help others reach the same goal, then its exact nature isn’t so important. This can only be true with one goal, which is the only one that every person can share. Fortunately, this goal is every individual’s birthright.

That goal is love and devotion for God. This is what counts most in an existence. In ignorance we put stock in other factors, which are all temporary. Even if a situation lasts for thousands of years, it is not the most important thing. For instance, if a living being takes on the form of a tree, it may remain stationary for a very long period of time. The human being struggles hard just to live for a fraction of that time, and yet no one would consider the human to be less evolved than the tree. Therefore longevity in a world that is destined for destruction is not so important. By itself, it is not the sign of advancement.

Love for God is eternal. The practice of it is known as bhakti-yoga, which can translate to “uniting with the Supreme Spirit through the means of love and devotion.” You practice love in order to get it. If this sounds confusing, know that the practice of bhakti at the beginning can go by other names, such as jnana, karma, dhyana and sankhya. When the desire for the rewards specific to each discipline gets cast aside in favor of the pleasure of the supreme object of worship, then the effort turns into bhakti.

“Ramanujacharya has explained the word sanatana as ‘that which has neither beginning nor end,’ so when we speak of sanatana-dharma, we must take it for granted on the authority of Shri Ramanujacharya that it has neither beginning nor end.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, Introduction)

[Ramanujacharya]Bhakti-yoga is synonymous with sanatana-dharma. Sanatana translates to “that which has no beginning and no end.” Dharma is the essential characteristic of something. When you work towards either regaining or maintaining that essential characteristic, the work also classifies as dharma. Sanatana-dharma therefore means the eternal occupation. It is synonymous with bhakti-yoga since the soul’s essential characteristic is to love God. This love is meant to be given without motivation; thereby making it pure. It also should continue without interruption.

In the original state, the pure spirit soul is fixed in sanatana-dharma. Thus there is no question of order, class, gender, age, or occupation. In the world in which we presently live, we have such designations because sanatana-dharma seems so far away. To help regain the eternal occupation, the Supreme Lord, through His Vedas, gives man the four divisions of occupation and the four orders of life. The four divisions are brahmana, kshatriya, vaishya and shudra. These are the priests, the administrators, the merchants and the laborers respectively.

There are also the four orders of life: brahmacharya, grihastha, vanaprastha, and sannyasa. In the above referenced verse from the Dohavali, Goswami Tulsidas mentions conditions specific to grihastha and sannyasa. Grihastha is householder life, and so the person in this order lives in a home, i.e. a regular house. Sannyasa is the renounced order, and so the person in it lives in the wilderness, i.e. they don’t have a conventional home. The third order, vanaprastha, also lives in the forest.

Tulsidas says that in the eyes of the Lord, the dwelling doesn’t matter so much. This is provided that two conditions exist: distaste for worldly things and taste in the practice of love and devotion to Rama, who is God. There is an apparent contradiction here. The opinion of the author supports the idea that the eternal occupation is not dependent on temporary factors. If love for God is within the soul’s core, then why should the type of residence matter?

cātur-varṇyaṁ mayā sṛṣṭaṁ
tasya kartāram api māṁ
viddhy akartāram avyayam

“According to the three modes of material nature and the work ascribed to them, the four divisions of human society were created by Me. And, although I am the creator of this system, you should know that I am yet the non-doer, being unchangeable.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.13)

[four divisions of occupation]At the same time, the four orders are given by God Himself; He says so in the Bhagavad-gita. So why is the system there if the goal is to rise above designations and be devoted to God purely? The answer comes from the existence of the goal itself. The four orders are a means, but they are not the end. Just as the conditioned soul needs an education in order to read books to help expand their knowledge, the system of the four orders helps to bring one to the platform of pure love and devotion.

The situations themselves are never the ultimate determining factor. The Supreme Lord measures the size of the heart and not the square footage of the dwelling. The materially conscious person is focused on the size of the home, and on the reverse side the spiritualist is just as strict. One side looks for more space, while the other looks for less. The Supreme Lord looks to see if there is love and devotion to Him. The renunciate is typically favored since they have a better chance for becoming attached to the Supreme Lord’s lotus feet, but their style of living doesn’t automatically qualify them. Krishna says in the Bhagavad-gita that if material desires still exist, the person in renunciation is kidding themselves.

karmendriyāṇi saṁyamya
ya āste manasā smaran
indriyārthān vimūḍhātmā
mithyācāraḥ sa ucyate

“One who restrains the senses and organs of action, but whose mind dwells on sense objects, certainly deludes himself and is called a pretender.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 3.6)

[Tulsidas writing about Rama]The saints of the Vedic tradition are so kind that they give even those who don’t have the four orders available to them a chance at reaching the ultimate goal of life. Tulsidas composes verses for all men and women to read. Lest they get discriminated against, considered less intelligent by society, they can win the favor of the Supreme Lord by hearing about His true nature, as displayed during His famous descent to earth as Shri Rama. Actions speak louder than words, and Rama showed that He cares most about what is in the heart.

In Closing:

Not concerned with footage square,

Rama with what’s in the heart to care.


Is there love and devotion to Him,

Or merely strong desire to sin?


Giving to society divisions and orders four,

Reaching stage of pure bhakti for.


Whether in large house or forest to stay,

Towards Rama any can make their way.

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Withstanding Scrutiny Of The External

Posted by krishnasmercy on May 20, 2015

[Rama's lotus feet]“Tulsi says that those who find worldly pleasures tasteless and love for Rama full of taste are very dear to Rama, whether they live in the forest or in a house.” (Dohavali, 61)

je jana rūkhe bi।saya rasa cikane rāma saneha’ |
tulasī te priya rāma ko kānana basahiṃ ki geha’ ||

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There is the saying that you can please some of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time. Vedic literature gives examples to support the same truth, that no matter how much you value your honor, you can’t protect it completely. Whichever road you choose in life, there will be detractors, people to criticize your decision. Here Goswami Tulsidas references the two extremes, materialism and renunciation. He puts them both in the proper place by saying that to the Supreme Lord the only thing that matters is the desire found within.

A common object of scrutiny by the materialist is the dwelling. Your place of residence speaks a lot about your fortunes in life. If you live in a big house, it means that you are well off. If you live in a tiny apartment, it means that you don’t earn as much money as others. You’re forced to live so close to others in a similar financial condition. You have to tolerate the sound of footsteps coming from upstairs. You have to accept the parking situation. When you have parties, you have to pare down the guest list so that everyone can fit inside.

The house is just the symbol representing the drive for bhoga, or material enjoyment. The forest is the symbol of the pursuit of the opposite: renunciation. Anyone who is trying to understand the Supreme Spirit in earnest is fundamentally trying to detach themselves from the material consciousness. Therefore a similar kind of scrutiny comes, but the direction is reversed. Instead of evaluating how big the home is, the focus is on how many things have been renounced.

“How close are you to moksha? What is your diet like? I’ve heard that you can’t be a perfect spiritual being if you are still married. Great sages don’t have children because they’re completely free of sex life. I don’t know how you’re going to do that while living amongst the worldly minded. You’re going to have to find a secluded place.”

Both the materialist and the renunciant face scrutiny. There are always questions of how much one has advanced, and the external is used as a way to measure. But Goswami Tulsidas says that the person who created everything, in whom full enjoyment and renunciation exist simultaneously, does not care so much about where you live. He is interested more with what is in the heart. Real renunciation is finding worldly pleasures to be tasteless. That alone doesn’t suffice for getting the mercy of God, however. Simultaneously, there must be something full of taste.

[Lord Rama]That higher taste is love for God, known as bhakti-yoga. That love can only blossom to the fullest when there is knowledge that the Supreme is a person; hence the mention of Shri Rama, the worshipable object of Goswami Tulsidas. Rama is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He is not a Hindu god, a blue god, or a god of a famous book only. He is the origin of everything in a transcendental form, full of sweetness. As the Supreme is described as Godhead, it means that He doesn’t limit Himself to only a single spiritual manifestation. There are other forms of the original Lord, but they represent the same singular identity. Indeed, this means that love for God is never restricted to anyone.

A person can have these conditions provided by Tulsidas irrespective of their place of dwelling. It makes sense if we think about it. How many times have we felt completely alone when in the company of so many others? How many times have we felt elated when spending a night to ourselves? The mind is what makes the difference, and in bhakti the mind is always contemplating the features of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

The person owning the large estate may have succeeded in the material estimation. The spiritualist who renounced everything to live in a cave may similarly have done something remarkable. But unless they have love for God, they won’t be dear to Him. And He is the person most worth pleasing; His scrutiny is what matters the most.

The opinion of Tulsidas is validated by events from history. Shri Rama befriended monkey-like creatures in the forest. They were not like renounced human beings; the forest was their natural home. They were not advanced materially, but in heart they had room only for love for God. Vibhishana was also very dear to Rama. He was part of a ruling family in Lanka. He lived in a large palace, but Rama did not mind.

[Rama with the Vanaras]There are so many more examples from history to support the claim. Scrutiny will always be there, no matter which path you take. The wise try to look good in the eyes of the person who can see everything. The one who is truly antaryami witnesses everything happening past, present and future. He sees within all bodies, and only He can accurately measure what’s in the heart. In the devotee’s He sees pure love and so He gives every opportunity for them to continue to relish the taste of devotion, bhakti-rasa.

In Closing:

Your place of dwelling where,

Supreme Lord Rama not to care.


Friends with forest-dwellers made,

Accepted Vibhishana when obeisance paid.


Material tasteless and devotion when,

To become dear to Shri Rama then.


He with eyes everywhere sees,

The best person whom to please.

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How Big Is Your House

Posted by krishnasmercy on May 19, 2015

[Rama's lotus feet]“Tulsi says that those who find worldly pleasures tasteless and love for Rama full of taste are very dear to Rama, whether they live in the forest or in a house.” (Dohavali, 61)

je jana rūkhe bi।saya rasa cikane rāma saneha’ |
tulasī te priya rāma ko kānana basahiṃ ki geha’ ||

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It’s the sign of material advancement. It shows how well the parents brought up the child, how much time and money was invested in their upbringing. It shows how well the person has done in the “dog eat dog” world, where progress is measured by how much of the community has been industrialized. It’s a sign of the level of success in the area of business, where one person looks to outsmart the other, parlaying their skills into huge profits.

The “it” here refers to the house, the place of residence. Indeed, it is only natural for a parent to be proud that their child lives in a large house, one bigger than they had as a child. After all, it is the desire of the parents that their children live better than them. Why should the children suffer? What is the point to the hard work of the parents if the children can’t advance past them?

Here Goswami Tulsidas gives his own opinion on the matter, and it is confirmed through sober analysis of the situation. The creator of everything is not concerned with how large or small the dwelling is. If one lives in a civilized area featuring a luxurious home they are not automatically qualified to be in the Lord’s favor. And the same goes for the other direction, full renunciation.

[large estate]Actually, we don’t need to bring God into the equation just yet to see the validity to this opinion. Say that you have two children. One lives in a tiny apartment and another in a large estate. Is that the determining factor in how you view them? Is the size of the dwelling the basis for your assessment on their life’s worth? To do so would be quite silly. Instead, the characters of the respective individuals are evaluated. The parent sees the mental outlooks as well. If the child in the large home is struggling to make ends meet, what is the point to their work? If the person in the small apartment is stressed over the lack of space, then they too are unhappy.

And so in spiritual life, the heavenly father looks for the happiness of the children. That happiness can be found in any situation, provided two conditions relating to desire are present. Goswami Tulsidas provides those two conditions. First he mentions the dryness of worldly pleasures. Any wise person will feel this way. Think of it like pushing a rock up a hill. After difficult labor you get the heavy boulder to reach the desired destination. But when you finish, when you let go, the rock rolls back down to the bottom. Material life is like this. Nothing is permanent, and satisfying one desire only gives birth to many more.

āpūryamāṇam acala-pratiṣṭhaṁ
samudram āpaḥ praviśanti yadvat
tadvat kāmā yaṁ praviśanti sarve
sa śāntim āpnoti na kāma-kāmī

“A person who is not disturbed by the incessant flow of desires – that enter like rivers into the ocean which is ever being filled but is always still – can alone achieve peace, and not the man who strives to satisfy such desires.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.70)

The second condition is the inverse of the first. While worldly pleasures should be tasteless, devotion to God should be full of taste. This only makes sense, as the Supreme Lord is the opposite of illusion and transience. He is permanent. His transcendental body is described as eternal, blissful and knowledgeable [sach-chid-ananda]. Those who associate with that transcendental figure find the same happiness.

Of course the issue is the means of association. How can one find God when they are stuck at home, with worldly pleasures surrounding them? Therefore better it is to go to the forest. Eliminate distractions. Austerity is forced upon the forest-dweller, and so there is more time for contemplation of the Absolute. There is more time to relish His transcendental features.

[Lord Rama]But Tulsidas gives the proper perspective on this as well. He says that it does not matter whether one lives in a jungle or a civilized home. If the person thinks that worldly pleasures are tasteless and devotion to Rama full of taste, then they are very dear to Rama. Rama is the Supreme Personality worshiped by Tulsidas. Rama shows that God is a person with distinguishable features. As there is Godhead, Rama is not the lone Divine personal manifestation. The same original Lord can expand into other forms that appeal to the variety of moods found in devotees.

The materialist asks “how big is your house”? The spiritualist itching for advancement in consciousness asks “how big is your renunciation”? But the Supreme Lord Rama, whose opinion counts the most, asks “how big is your heart”? How much love and devotion for God is there? That is the question that counts the most. When this question yields the proper answer that is honest at the same time, then the place of dwelling is not so important. God’s creation is vast, after all, so His devotees can be found anywhere.

In Closing:

To have concern why,

Over residence’s size?


Spiritualist in renunciation setting,

Materialist for more things getting.


When tasteless is material gain,

And full taste in chanting Rama’s name.


Then not mattering house or forest bare,

Rama’s devotees to be found anywhere.

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Better Than Seeing God

Posted by krishnasmercy on May 18, 2015

[Sita and Rama]“Tulsi says that having pure love for Sita and Rama, without thinking of self-interest or supreme interest, is a reward superior to the four rewards of life. That is my opinion.” (Dohavali, 60)

svāratha paramāratha rahita sītā rāma saneha’ |
tulasī so phala cāri ko phala hamāra mata eha’ ||

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Brahma-sukha is the joy resulting from true oneness with the entire creation. Threaded through the vast time and space, with its infinite variety in creatures and forms, is a singular energy. That energy is superior to that which it animates; it cannot be destroyed. The different sparks that are part of that energy can realize that oneness; though this realization is very difficult to get. The happiness that results from the union is difficult to obtain. and once getting it one never wants to abandon it. Goswami Tulsidas considers such a happiness, which is seemingly beyond measure, to be inferior to the reward of having pure love and affection for the Supreme Lord and His eternal consort.

[parcel delivery]You can only get brahma-sukha if you want it. It’s not as if it will automatically come to you or arrive at your doorstep by accident. The parcel delivery service can make a mistake and give you a package intended for someone else, but such a mistake can’t occur with the realization of the Divine energy. Integral to that realization is a change in desire. No more do you look for satisfaction of the body, which is temporary. No more do you worry so much over time, which is infinite in both the backward and forward directions.

According to the Bhagavad-gita, the Brahman realized soul no longer hankers nor laments. What is there to hanker over? Goswami Tulsidas passes on the four primary categories of rewards described in the Vedas, the most ancient scriptural tradition of this and every other world. Every person, no matter which land they call home, no matter what language is native to them, no matter their age, seeks after four basic things: religiosity, economic development, sense gratification and liberation.

Rare it is to attain all four in a single lifetime, yet the pursuit is there nonetheless. Even the non-religious look to follow some principles. Skepticism itself is a kind of rule; one that advises to not believe in anything. Economic development today is the most common focus, with the profit used to satisfy the senses. Liberation is for ending the cycle of birth and death, for being rescued from the ocean of material suffering.

The Brahman-realized soul does not hanker after rewards. They transcend the desire for the four rewards since they understand the spiritual oneness shared by all beings. They see past bodily designations. I should be able to see the sun right now, even though there is a cloud cover. I should be able to hear the conversation of others living thousands of miles away. The only reason I can’t is due to bodily limitations. Brahman is beyond the bodily coverings; hence it is superior to the material nature.

Lamenting comes from frustrated desires. If you no longer hanker after the four primary rewards, then you won’t lament, either. I can’t be sad about losing a game of chess that I never played. The concept is similar, and so the Brahman-realized soul has crossed a major boundary in the evolution of the individual spirit.

brahma-bhūtaḥ prasannātmā
na śocati na kāṅkṣati
samaḥ sarveṣu bhūteṣu
mad-bhaktiṁ labhate parām

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

Yet the Bhagavad-gita does not stop there with the description of the Brahman-realized soul. It is said that in that higher state the individual soul is ready to take up bhakti, which is devotional service. What can be higher than the realization that there is spirit in everything? Is this not the vision of God? Is not brahma-sukha the equivalent of seeing God? This is what transcendentalists desire, and so what can be beyond that?

Goswami Tulsidas helps us to understand. He says that love for Sita and Rama is the highest reward. He does not equate this with brahma-sukha. Indeed, within the four rewards is liberation itself, which occurs through Brahman-realization. He gives a condition for that love. He says that the individual must be free of concern for svartha and paramartha. These relate to interests in the present and future lives.

[Sita and Rama]Another way to describe the condition is to say that the love must be without motivation and without interruption. Brahma-sukha is a kind of interest. If attained in the present life it is svartha. If it comes after death, it is paramartha. Love for Sita and Rama is eternal. When the love is pure, it can never be taken away. It is so strong that Sita and Rama cannot even stop its outpouring. In essence, the devotee makes God the Almighty powerless.

The reason this reward is superior to anything else is because of the enjoyment. The soul meets its constitutional state only when achieving this position of love. Indeed, the love is always there, but in degraded conditions it gets misused. Love for anything except God is derived from the original condition. Hate is nothing more than the inverse of the original loving sentiment.

Brahman realization is a way to see God, but bhakti is a way to serve Him. Serving Him is superior to seeing Him. Sight brings a temporary enjoyment to the individual, while service brings increased happiness to the person who is already sach-chid-ananda, eternally blissful and knowledgeable. Rama is the Supreme Lord in His personal form. In His original form of Shri Krishna, He does such amazing things like teach the Bhagavad-gita to Arjuna. As Vishnu, the same Rama creates the universes effortlessly by breathing out.

Sita is Rama’s eternal consort. Together they make for the best worshipable objects. Even if a person is still searching for any or all of the four major rewards, approaching Sita and Rama is the right move. This is because the couple will help in granting the highest reward of pure love for them. Brahman cannot do this since it is not a person. Brahman is more of a concept, a way to realize God. Sita and Rama are personal aspects, and with that personal interaction comes the perfection of living.

In Closing:

In happiness of Brahman to be,

From hankering and lamenting free.


But position not the end quite,

Service to Lord more important than sight.


Love for Sita and Rama keep,

And fruit of existence reap.


Focus on svartha and paramartha shed,

By Tulsidas towards perfection be led.

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