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The Most Honest Presentation

Posted by krishnasmercy on April 25, 2015

[Krishna speaking to Arjuna]“Ishvara (the Supreme Lord), jiva (the living entity), prakriti (nature), eternal time and karma (activity) are all explained in the Bhagavad-gita. Out of these five, the Lord, the living entities, material nature and time are eternal.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, Introduction)

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Not only is the Bhagavad-gita a thorough presentation of the science of self-realization, but it is completely honest as well. No relevant subject matter is hidden from view. Though considered a religious book by the less intelligent, in the Bhagavad-gita there is no mention of a specific faith. There is no proper name ascribed to followers of the science as it is presented, as the rules exist and operate regardless of one’s knowledge of them. The fact that all sides are discussed further substantiates the teacher’s standing as the highest authority figure.

[Lord Krishna]The teacher who speaks the Bhagavad-gita is Shri Krishna. In the timeline of our history, He is a personality who appeared on this earth some five thousand years ago. He was the rightful son of Vasudeva and his wife Devaki. Since He was shifted to Gokula in His youth, Krishna accepted Nanda Maharaja and Yashoda as foster parents. Krishna’s elder brother was Balarama, His uncle King Kamsa, and His cousin the great warrior Arjuna.

It was to this Arjuna that the Bhagavad-gita was directed, and it was only after help was sought. Krishna did not impose this highest knowledge, the king of education, the secret of all secrets, upon His dear friend who happened to also be His cousin. This presentation was not concocted on the spot; it dated all the way back to the beginning of creation.

śrī-bhagavān uvāca
imaṁ vivasvate yogaṁ
proktavān aham avyayam
vivasvān manave prāha
manur ikṣvākave ‘bravīt

“The Blessed Lord said: I instructed this imperishable science of yoga to the sun-god, Vivasvan, and Vivasvan instructed it to Manu, the father of mankind, and Manu in turn instructed it to Ikshvaku.” (Bhagavad-gita, 4.1)

The word “creation” brings to mind religion, faith, and the automatic dismissal of science, which studies the perceptions of the nature around us. But in fact Krishna’s presentation is very scientific. It starts off with the fundamental truth of the difference between matter and spirit. This is understood at the local level with the distinction between matter and individuality. The individual gets its identity from spirit soul and not from the body, which is temporary. That body continuously changes, like from boyhood to youth and then to old age. At the time of death, the individual within shifts to a completely different body.

dehino ‘smin yathā dehe
kaumāraṁ yauvanaṁ jarā
tathā dehāntara-prāptir
dhīras tatra na muhyati

“As the embodied soul continually passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. The self-realized soul is not bewildered by such a change.” (Lord Krishna, Bg. 2.13)

It is only after several important topics are covered do we come to learn of Krishna’s true identity, as the Supreme Lord. This title is difficult to understand, so the point is reemphasized in different ways. Krishna is the light of the sun, the sacred syllable om, the fragrance of the earth and the taste of water. These are Krishna’s truthful statements, but Arjuna also confirms the Lord’s high position through words of praise.

arjuna uvāca
paraṁ brahma paraṁ dhāma
pavitraṁ paramaṁ bhavān
puruṣaṁ śāśvataṁ divyam
ādi-devam ajaṁ vibhum
āhus tvām ṛṣayaḥ sarve
devarṣir nāradas tathā
asito devalo vyāsaḥ
svayaṁ caiva bravīṣi me

“Arjuna said: You are the Supreme Brahman, the ultimate, the supreme abode and purifier, the Absolute Truth and the eternal divine person. You are the primal God, transcendental and original, and You are the unborn and all-pervading beauty. All the great sages such as Narada, Asita, Devala, and Vyasa proclaim this of You, and now You Yourself are declaring it to me.” (Bg. 10.12-13)

[Krishna and Arjuna]Arjuna also points to other authorities of the Vedic tradition who support the claim of Krishna’s divinity. Some of these are contemporaries and some are historical figures from the past. Still, if one does not want to take the word of Krishna or Arjuna, they can make a study of the presentation itself to assess where it stands in comparison to other presentations.

Krishna’s teachings cover all sides of an existence. The religious aspect is surely there. “Surrender to a divine figure. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to be saved. Get salvation through consciousness of the origin of all.”

There is more to it than just faith, however. Krishna covers the opposing argument, namely that there is no God. He explains why the atheist thinks the way they do. They believe that everything comes together through randomness, that there is no difference between matter and spirit. Though there is intelligence to all aspects of life, including in the supporting nature, the foolish think that sex alone is responsible for generating life and that with death everything ends.

Krishna discusses the Supreme Controller, the living entity, the material nature, time and fruitive activity. None of these topics are sectarian. They apply to all people in all time periods. They apply to people of all faiths and all languages. As each topic is so complex, from studying all of them you get an idea of the behavior and traits of all creatures. You get the reason for the creation, the purpose to the human life, and the proper understanding of happiness and sadness.

Do competing philosophies feature the same comprehensiveness? When studying material science, do the topics of time, the individual and the material nature get covered? Do the experts at least present Shri Krishna’s teachings, which are also known as Vedanta? Do they lay everything on the table and allow the student to choose for themselves?

iti te jñānam ākhyātaṁ
guhyād guhyataraṁ mayā
vimṛśyaitad aśeṣeṇa
yathecchasi tathā kuru

“Thus I have explained to you the most confidential of all knowledge. Deliberate on this fully, and then do what you wish to do.” (Lord Krishna, Bg. 18.63)

Krishna is Ishvara, which means He has the most control to wield. Though He knows that all philosophies besides devotion to Him are flawed to some degree, He does not force His way upon anyone. He delivered the Bhagavad-gita to Arjuna and then left the choice up to him. When Arjuna continued in bhakti-yoga, which is the ultimate conclusion of the teachings of the Bhagavad-gita, he did so of his own volition. He made an educated decision, which pleased the supreme controller very much.

[Krishna and Arjuna]Any other philosophical, religious, or scientific presentation must conceal the confidential knowledge of the Bhagavad-gita in order to get followers. If everything were laid on the table, Krishna’s philosophy would win amongst sober individuals since it presents all sides. It gives every person a chance to understand themselves and where they fit into the larger picture. As Krishna is the most honest, He is the one most worth following.

In Closing:

By competitors always something concealed,

Not with Krishna, in Gita everything revealed.

 

Highest knowledge in Arjuna to confide,

Thoroughly covering main topics five.

 

Will others this opportunity give,

So that with educated decision to live?

 

Honesty more support to case lending,

That Krishna is God, others only pretending.

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Speaking To The Future

Posted by krishnasmercy on July 11, 2014

[Krishna and Arjuna]“Being an associate of Lord Krishna, Arjuna was above all ignorance, but Arjuna was put into ignorance on the Battlefield of Kurukshetra just to question Lord Krishna about the problems of life so that the Lord could explain them for the benefit of future generations of human beings and chalk out the plan of life. Then man could act accordingly and perfect the mission of human life.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, Introduction)

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The Supreme Lord is not an old man who holds a grudge against His sons and daughters who ignore His will. He is not spiteful; He is not mean. We know this from Vedic literature, which tells us that He has a transcendental form that is eternal, knowledgeable and blissful. What separates Him from us is a lack of separation, namely between body and spirit. His spirit and form are identical; whereas for us the difference is always there. Just as His body is timeless, so are the words of instruction He passes on.

Imagine this situation. It’s the first day of the semester in college. This term you’ve enrolled in a creative writing class. You’re not much of a writer, but this elective satisfies one of the requirements necessary for graduation. Creative writing should be easy, you think. There’s no wrong way to think, is there? Some students are more creative for sure, but at least you should be free to write about things which interest you. You won’t be stuck reading books from hundreds of years ago, from authors you’ve never heard of.

[creative writing]Not wasting any time, on the first day of class the teacher gives the first assignment.

“Class, I want you to write an essay for the future generation. Imagine that this work will be read two hundred years from today. You can write about anything you want. Obviously, it should be important, because the people reading it will not know much about you. They won’t be able to relate to your exact circumstances. Use your imagination. Think long and hard about your topic. The assignment is due next week.”

On the way home, you can’t stop thinking about the assignment. The topic is what’s bugging you.

“What should I write about? I can’t think of anything. Do I discuss the hockey game I saw on television last night, how my favorite team came back to win in overtime? If I’m going to write about last night’s game, I might as well write about the one from ten years ago. To the people of the future, it won’t make a difference.

“Should I write about the argument I had with my relatives? We were going to organize an event together, and at the last minute they expected me to pay for everything. That seemed quite ridiculous, as that was never discussed beforehand. The event was for their daughter too, so why should I have to foot the bill? But will people of the future be interested in that?

“Should I write about my occupation? Should I tell them about what goes on at the office each day? Does that really matter, though? Will people care about that? Even I don’t find the stuff at my office to be too interesting. Gossip stays relevant for only a few days. Maybe I could discuss what’s in the news, but even that isn’t so important. What does it matter to the people of the future who the president of the country is today?”

[newspaper front page]For someone who really cared about the content, this assignment would be difficult. Fortunately, we have some valuable work to consult for reference. There are people who have already completed such assignments, as their words are relevant today and will remain so for as long as the earth stays around.

Take the Bhagavad-gita. This Sanskrit work is the “Song of God,” as it translates into English. The setting for this work is a great battlefield, and the speakers are a chariot driver and the warrior riding on the chariot. The setting and the occupations of the characters alone do not make the work relevant. Rather, the words themselves, the topics discussed, are what count. In the Bhagavad-gita, we learn about the soul, the material nature, the difference between the two, how to achieve perfection in life, and who God is. Many other things are discussed as well, and the words are relevant across all times and circumstances.

If you read the Bhagavad-gita, you’re essentially sitting in front of Shri Krishna and hearing from Him. He is speaking to you, though the actual words first left His beautiful mouth some five thousand years ago. Then there is the voluminous Vedic literature, which consists of important works authored thousands of years ago. And Vedic literature expands through works of more recent times which discuss the same principles.

“Shri Madhvacharya says: ‘The Rig Veda, Yajur Veda, Sama Veda, Atharva Veda, Mahabharata, Pancharatra and the original Valmiki Ramayana are all works of Vedic literature. Any literary work following the conclusive statements of these Vedic scriptures is also to be considered Vedic literature. That literature which does not conform to Vedic literature is simply misleading.’” (Shrila Prabhupada, Chaitanya Charitamrita, Madhya 6.147, Purport)

Saints like Rupa Gosvami, Sanatana Gosvami, Valmiki, Tulsidas and Vyasa wrote works that are essentially addresses to future generations. They knew the value of their words, since those words describe and glorify the Supreme Personality of Godhead. In reading those works today, one essentially gets to sit with those wonderful personalities and hear from them directly. Nothing can compare to this boon, as a moment’s association with a perfectly realized soul can transform a life spent into delusion into a life spent in enlightenment.

[devotional writing]And isn’t that what the future generation should get out of your words, enlightenment? Only truths about the Supreme Lord and His energies can remain relevant at any time. The temporary goings on of today are not so important even to us. After a while, we forget about the arguments we had with others. The years we spent in school don’t come to mind every day.

But we can remember Krishna every single day. He is the definition behind the abstract concept of God. He is a personality, which means that He speaks and empowers others to speak. And their speech is recorded in wonderful books and poems that give future generations the much needed rescue from the material ocean of suffering.

In Closing:

Message to future to give,

So that with wisdom they’ll live.

 

About what topics to write now?

Today’s news to apply to them how?

 

From Vedic literature lesson take,

How your words transcendental to make.

 

With saints from past have a seat,

Through their mercy life’s mission meet.

www.krishnasmercy.org

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What’s Not In There

Posted by krishnasmercy on May 31, 2014

[Lord Krishna with 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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[Bhagavad-gita, 9.2]The Bhagavad-gita is a famous work of the Vedic tradition. Read by scholars, statesmen, and spiritualists alike, it offers pearls of wisdom in short verses that are easier to remember. The less amount of words you can use to make your point, the more effective your message will be. The Gita is not voluminous, but its commentary can be. The same can be said of the contemplation focused on its wisdom. As important as what’s in the Gita is what’s not in it. The absence of specific topics puts those topics into the proper perspective.

Utopia is the fantasy world where everything is good. Whatever you think is bad, take that out of your ideal place and you thus have a utopia. If you don’t like fighting, get rid of it. If you don’t like bullying, that is gone too. No more sadness. Only happiness exists in utopia. Take every issue of the day, every cause, of every single person, and then imagine that it is resolved. Then you get utopia for everyone. The Bhagavad-gita does not address anything of the sort. Shri Krishna did not forget to mention it, either. He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, so when He speaks, He only discusses the most important topics.

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

In the Gita you will not find the cure for world hunger. This does not mean that everyone should starve. This does not mean that God intended us to fall asleep hungry every night. Indeed, the occupational duties of the vaishyas include production of food. You harvest the land, take care of the cows, and engage in commerce. You perform sacrifice in order to get the necessary rain. In this way you will have relative prosperity. This has worked in every land in every time period. Even the Pilgrims in America discovered this process, minus the cow protection. They divided up the land, instituting the concept of private property, during their initial stay in the New World and what resulted was a harvest so bountiful that the tradition of Thanksgiving took birth.

[Thanksgiving cornucopia]In the Gita you will not find the cure for poverty. This does not mean that everyone should be poor and destitute. If the vaishya community, the mercantile class, takes care of their responsibilities, the economic problems are minimized. There will be plenty of stuff to enjoy. So God does not want us to be poor, but at the same time in His work which is considered the essence of Vedic philosophy the focus is not on how to become materially prosperous.

In the Gita you will not find the formula for stopping all arguments. This does not mean that we should live in strife, constantly arguing with our fellow man. This does not mean that it is necessary to take up arms and invade our neighboring countries when they have a commodity of value to us. By following the essential teachings of the Gita, one automatically becomes peaceful. They are automatically a good citizen and someone who does not need to rely on unnecessary violence.

[Bhagavad-gita, 5.29]“The sages, knowing Me as the ultimate purpose of all sacrifices and austerities, the Supreme Lord of all planets and demigods and the benefactor and well-wisher of all living entities, attain peace from the pangs of material miseries.”  (Lord Krishna, Bg. 5.29)

These causes and issues are not covered in the Gita because when one understands the nature of the world they presently inhabit, they learn that the idea of utopia can only remain that, an idea. To eliminate hunger one must eliminate freedom of action. What do we mean by this? One is hungry if they have not eaten a sufficient amount of food in a while. To eliminate hunger for everyone, everyone must be compelled to eat in a timely manner. They must be forced to eat, and in order to eat there must be food. Thus others must be compelled to grow and store enough food.

[Arguing]When you compel, you get disagreements. This is only natural. Who will enforce the laws? Who will follow them? The people following will want to be in the position of power, for then they get to make the rules. With this clash in desire, you get conflicts, which escalate into wars. You also can’t eliminate poverty, since that means everyone will have to work a sufficient amount to earn enough money. Again, there is coercion. There is force, which clashes with desire.

It is that desire which causes the birth in the material world. When desire is impure, all the issues which need to be addressed in the utopian ideal manifest. When desire is pure, the situation starts to turn around. Pure desire is Krishna consciousness, where one wants only to meet the interests of the Supreme Lord. What are His interests? He does not want anyone to remain in a land of duality, where temporary conditions necessitate good and bad, happy and sad. In a temporary world, there must be poverty and prosperity, war and peace, and disease and good health. With temporary conditions, it is impossible to eliminate everything that is unwanted, especially since what is wanted for one person is unwanted for another.

The desire of the Supreme Lord is to reclaim His fallen sons and daughters, to have them again merged into their eternal occupation, devotional service. To take that service up in earnest, the desire must be there. Force will not work, as the impure desire will be a boundary to restrict entry into that engagement. To reclaim the desire that was once there, the fallen living entity must be educated upon all important matters. To eradicate a specific disease or remove hunger around the world will not bring the proper education. In fact, the mind may turn in the opposite direction, thinking that life can indeed be great without service to God.

[Bhagavad-gita, 18.66]“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)

[Lord Krishna]Krishna says in the Gita to abandon all varieties of religion and surrender unto Him. Give up the idea of making this world a permanent home of steady happiness and zero strife. Give up the chase to find happiness through sense gratification alone, for in renunciation there is temporary pleasure as well. After giving up these various causes, take up the eternal occupation of devotion in surrender. Put your fate in the hands of the wielder of the flute, the lifter of Govardhana Hill, and the chariot driver of Arjuna. Take up the science of self-realization, learn your true identity, understand the difference between matter and spirit, and know that heaven for you can be created on any earth, whether in this realm or another, through full surrender in devotion. Start that surrender today and maintain it 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:

Bhagavad-gita not to correct all flaws,

Nor to give solution for every cause.

 

Utopia neither here nor there to be found,

Duality a must when to earthly realm bound.

 

Krishna most important topics covering,

Like how individual real identity discovering.

 

Surrendering to Him in full understanding,

So into eternal service again landing.

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One Interpretation

Posted by krishnasmercy on September 28, 2013

Bhagavad-gita“A man working in Krishna consciousness in a factory does not associate himself with the work of the factory, nor with the workers of the factory. He simply works for Krishna. And when he gives up the result for Krishna, he is acting transcendentally.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 18.9 Purport)

“How can you say that there is only one authoritative interpretation of the verses of the Bhagavad-gita? How can anyone have the nerve to put the words “as it is” in the title of their translation? This implies that the others are not “as it is.” But how do we know that? How do we know that one interpretation is authentic and others are not?”

The Bhagavad-gita is an ancient Vedic work that chronicles a conversation that took place on a battlefield some five thousand years ago. The truths themselves are timeless, which we learn in the conversation itself. We learn that the truths that make up the conversation were also spoken at the beginning of known time, and that they were then passed on to successive generations. Since the Gita is a conversation, there is really only one interpretation of it. To say that there are many is incorrect. This doesn’t mean, however, that commentaries cannot be given. Changing times bring new reference points. As such, opportunities for describing the same truths in new ways are always present, though the original meanings don’t change.

Bhagavad-gita, 18.9“But he who performs his prescribed duty only because it ought to be done, and renounces all attachment to the fruit-his renunciation is of the nature of goodness, O Arjuna.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 18.9)

In the ninth verse of the eighteenth chapter of the Bhagavad-gita, Lord Krishna tells Arjuna that one should perform his prescribed duty but then renounce the attachment to the fruit. In simpler terms, this means do your work but don’t be affected by the outcome. Do your work because you have to. Everyone accepts a prescribed duty at some point. The mother must take care of the children. The husband must work to support the family. The student must complete the assignments for the class.

Mother Yashoda feeding KrishnaWhether the child is pleased or not should be of no concern to the mother. Whether the work is completely pleasurable or not is not much of a factor for the husband. Whether school is fun or not is not so important for the child. Each person may think otherwise in their respective situation, but the fact is that the prescribed duty leads to something better. When that duty is performed without attachment to the result, there is some kind of transcendence.

In the grand scheme the aim is to transcend birth and death. Birth and death are due to karma, which is fruitive work. So basically Krishna advises that one should act in karma but not be so concerned with the outcome. From that mindset, the karma eventually transforms into bhakti. There is work in both cases, but since the mindset of the person in bhakti is not so attached to the temporary results of the work, there is no future implication.

As a way to explain this verse, His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada points to the factory worker. The person in karma cares about the outcome, such as in how much money they are making, when the day is going to end, and if they are improving their material situation. The person in Krishna consciousness, or bhakti, does the work as a matter of obligation. Whatever results they get go to Krishna, who is God. He is the same God for everyone, though He is more clearly drawn out. Krishna is considered the original form, though the Supreme takes many other non-different forms as well, all of which are just as worshipable. The term “God” is a way of addressing Krishna when the worshiper doesn’t necessarily know what He looks like. The worshiper has a foggy conception of a supreme controller, so the full effect of bhakti is lacking due to the missed interaction with the all-attractive features found only in the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

Shrila PrabhupadaThis verse was spoken by Krishna to the warrior Arjuna some five thousand years ago. Factories most certainly did not exist at the time. Does this mean that Shrila Prabhupada has fabricated a purport? Has he conjured up a brand new interpretation? Actually, the meaning is still the same, just the frame of reference is a little different. Since people today know what a factory is, the reference to it helps to explain the verse. Someone else, in a different setting, can make reference to a corn field to make the same point. In more recent times, someone could make reference to the office desk and sitting in front of a computer all day to explain the same truth. Though the explanations may be different, the truth is not altered. Thus the single interpretation of the verses of the Gita remains intact.

The Gita is a conversation between two people. It is not a matter subject to interpretation. There are facts presented by the authority figure, namely Krishna, and they are then accepted by the humble disciple, Arjuna. Since there was an underlying culture during the time the Gita was spoken, explanations of the verses are required in subsequent generations. That culture is virtually absent today, so unless one is familiar with it, somewhat living in it themselves, they will not understand what the verses mean. It would be like eavesdropping on a conversation between two people and not knowing the context. Then the mind could go wild speculating as to the meaning.

Bhagavad-gita As It IsThe same is already done with the Gita, and the results are not very good. Unaware that the same Krishna is described in so many other Vedic texts, the foolish commentators speculate as to whether Krishna exists at all. “Perhaps He represents something more meaningful, like an abstract. And Arjuna thus might represent something else.” Such nonsense speculation is unnecessary, as the singular interpretation is still available from authorized sources. Since they know that their interpretation is the only valid one, they have no fear in titling their translation, “Bhagavad-gita As It Is.”

In Closing:

New explanations for time are legit,

Like to factory and in office to sit.

 

But interpretation of Gita only one,

Other meanings to verses none.

 

“As It Is” strong words to choose,

The acharya in their title to use.

 

That Krishna is real they know,

Not afraid to proclaim it proudly so.

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Doubting Who We Are

Posted by krishnasmercy on April 1, 2013

Bhagavad-gita“One who follows the instruction of the Gita, as it is imparted by the Lord, the Personality of Godhead Himself, becomes free from all doubts by the grace of transcendental knowledge.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 4.41 Purport)

“This person sucks. That person stinks. Look at the way that person walks into the room and plops themselves on the floor. Look at the way that person dresses; what are they thinking? Look at the way that person talks. They are so weird. Notice that such and such person didn’t say ‘hello’ to us before. They are very rude. Remember when that person did that? You should always remember that, because that incident shows who they really are.”

In the ancient scriptural texts of India, a person constantly providing such criticism is compared to a crow. The crow stays amidst garbage. The weeds and the rubbish within it are what the crow prefers. It doesn’t think that there is a better way to live. It doesn’t know that the swan has it much better, for the swan stays with purity. One of the earliest mentions of this exact comparison is found in the sacred Ramayana, where it was offered by a princess of the swan-like variety who was being wooed by a crow-like fiend.

“How can that female swan who is accustomed to sporting with the king of swans amidst lotus flowers ever cast her eyes on a water-crow that stays amidst bunches of grass?” (Sita Devi speaking to Ravana, Valmiki Ramayana, Aranya Kand, 56.20)

Sita and RamaThe crow-like attitude is very easy to adopt, and if we study the matter a little further, we see that it is rooted in envy. To constantly criticize others, to the point of excess, especially when it is applied to those we hardly know, indicates envy, which challenges the ego. The envy is rooted in ignorance of the self, for if one truly knew who they are, they would empathize with everyone instead of trying to compete with them. Fortunately, there is a way to curb envy, and not surprisingly it involves the acquisition of real knowledge.

Are we saying that envy is the root cause to the difficulties we see in society?

Absolutely. The politician is envious of the other politician. Why should one person be more famous than another? The competitive athlete is jealous that another athlete is rising to prominence. The uncle is jealous that the nephew living nearby has a larger home. The younger brother is envious that the elder brother has made something of his life. The wife is jealous of the success of the husband. Neighbors are also jealous of one another, as are nations, who are nothing more than larger collections of neighbors.

What is the nature of the knowledge we need to get?

Real knowledge can dissipate envy because it gives information of the self. I am envious of another because I don’t know who I really am. I think that I am this life force who has randomly entered an area where the goal is to compete with others for resources. I also think that this life, as I choose to define it, will be the only one I receive. “Get as much as you can, right now, today, otherwise you will lose out.”

Are the parents proud when their children grow up to be ordinary laborers or when their son or daughter becomes a doctor or a lawyer? What is the real difference anyway? Both occupations pay a salary. Both sides are workers. One may earn a lot more money, but at the end of the day the purpose to working is to have food to eat and a place to stay. If someone does menial work to secure the basic necessities in life, what is the harm?

If the comparison for greatness is based solely on material acquisition, then of course there will be so much envy. The introductory biology class in a large university typically has several hundred students, and the class is made very difficult precisely to weed out the pretenders, the students who aren’t serious. This means that there will always be fewer doctors than ordinary laborers. There will be fewer lawyers as well. Those who don’t make it to the end will feel a little envious. And we know that envy is not good because it is rooted in ignorance. I think that someone else is happier because they have a bigger house, but that isn’t necessarily the case. The bigger house brings more responsibilities and more sources for tension within the family. Those who have less don’t have as much to defend.

The changing bodyIn the Bhagavad-gita, which is also known as the Gitopanishad, one learns about their true self. They do this through two different ways. They get explicit instruction on the identity of the individual. It is said right at the outset that the spirit soul is what identifies each person; not the body. The body goes through changes, starting from childhood. The final change occurs at the time of death. The soul is not altered at any time. Despite the changes to the body, the soul is always full of bliss and knowledge.

If the body changes, then so also must the objects it is attached to. The body is the outer covering to something that is spiritual. Dull matter is itself lifeless for the very reason that a soul is required to give it life. In the higher understanding we know that the impersonal spiritual force pervades every atom and thus every aspect of matter as well, but as far as individual living entities go, they only reside within bodies that are considered to be with life; their very presence gives it life.

The readers of the Bhagavad-gita, properly translated and commented on for the people of the time who lack the necessary culture to understand the complex and confidential truths, also find out about their true self by learning of the origin of spirit. He happens to be the speaker of the Gita as well. His spirit soul is also full of bliss and knowledge. It is eternally so. A key distinction, however, is that His body is not different from Him. It does not undergo the same changes we are accustomed to. His soul also resides within everyone. He doesn’t break up into pieces for this to happen. He simply expands Himself while remaining original and completely individual in His personality as Shri Krishna.

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

From further practice of the principles presented in the Bhagavad-gita, one learns that they are intimately connected to Krishna through both physical proximity and constitutional qualities. He is residing within us right now, though He is more of a neutral observer. That spiritual force is invisible to the eyes, but it is still with form. The outward form, known as either the incarnation or the original personality itself, is visible to the eyes, provided one is fortunate enough to have a glance at it. It is all-attractive; hence the name Krishna is appropriate in addressing it.

Intimate connection to the Supersoul representation within the heart takes place through meditational yoga, and the outward form is found through bhakti-yoga, or the yoga of devotion and love. The latter path is superior because it automatically gives cognizance of the Supersoul, whereas the former does not bring connection with the original personality who has a visible form. The best means of practicing bhakti-yoga, especially in the modern age, is the chanting of the holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.”

Lord KrishnaThe expert yogi in bhakti is known as a paramahamsa. The components of the Sanskrit word translate to “supreme swan.” The attitude of the paramahamsa goes something like this:

“I can’t believe how great Krishna is. Though He is known by many different names across the many spiritual traditions, He is still one. He is so kind that He allows us to serve Him at any time and at any place. All around me I find only good people. They are all related to Krishna in some way. There are those who serve Him. They are known as devotees, and from their example I know for sure that God exists. From the behavior of the envious I also get proof that Krishna exists. They validate the claim that the material world acts as a sort of prison house to reform the souls who are envious of the Supreme Lord, who has everything. Such envy never works out because nothing can be done to change the situation. Why try to compete with God when He can give you everything in a second if you so desire? Why envy Krishna when serving Him is the source of the greatest pleasure? Nevertheless, even the miscreants are good at heart; they just don’t know any better. They are presently under the sway of Krishna’s material energy known as maya. Once they have the fortune of meeting a devotee and getting the seed of the creeper of devotional service, when they will water it regularly with devotional practice they will be free of all bad things, including envy.”

Thus we see that only through high knowledge acquired through connecting with Krishna, or God, can the crow turn into a swan. If I know the Supreme Lord I will also know myself. And if I know myself, I will know others too. I will then know that envy of others is not necessary, as we are all meant to be eternal servants of the all-merciful Supreme Lord, whose Bhagavad-gita directly represents Him and is a sign of His causeless mercy.

In Closing:

Without my true identity to know,

In envy to act like a crow.

 

In criticizing others I won’t quit,

Find fault with their walk and how they sit.

 

Identity from Bhagavad-gita understand,

Soul not tied to body’s face, legs or hand.

 

Also the Supreme Lord to rightly see,

His true nature from maya’s influence is free.

 

In real knowledge turn from crow to swan,

Without doubt others’ goodness only dwell upon.

www.krishnasmercy.org

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The Real God

Posted by krishnasmercy on July 11, 2012

Lord Krishna“Those who know Me as the Supreme Lord, as the governing principle of the material manifestation, who know Me as the one underlying all the demigods and as the one sustaining all sacrifices, can, with steadfast mind, understand and know Me even at the time of death.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.30)

The advaita property of the Supreme Absolute Truth says that no matter what we do or where we go, we are not separated from our beloved spiritual counterpart, who happens to be the origin of all matter and spirit. In that position He offers unflinching kindness, support for returning to His eternal land. His hand is always outstretched for our rescue, but unless there is a sober decision made to accept that aid, the rocky waters of the material ocean will continue to toss us around. The Vedic scriptures, especially its Bhagavad-gita, are meant to help even those who are not consciously aware of their need for rescue. But when understood in the wrong light, when heard from an unqualified presenter, even the Gita can have little positive influence.

How can this happen? If the equivalent of the Bible in the Vedic tradition has such profound information, why wouldn’t its presentation be universally applicable?

Though the Gita is a song sung by Lord Krishna on the Battlefield of Kurukshetra, in its written form it comes down to words. And words mean things, so when they are twisted and said to mean something else, the entire presentation changes. For the honest souls who know the true purpose of Krishna’s teachings there is the added benefit that many of the same truths are presented elsewhere in Vedic literature. Indeed, every famous scripture, including the many Puranas, take the form of question and answer between an inquisitive disciple and an authority figure who teaches.

Bhagavad-gitaThe Bhagavad-gita is unique in that the teacher later reveals Himself to be the fountainhead of all knowledge. He is the origin of matter and spirit who can be realized in three different ways by the living entity, as He has expansions that are non-different from Him due to the advaita property. As Brahman, Krishna is understood to be an impersonal light. Brahman is the undivided nature that pervades space. It is very difficult to perceive because its outer covering is maya, which is illusion. Through maya’s influence alone we take ourselves to be superior to someone else or we think that we will never die. When maya’s influence is shed, when the cloud of nescience is removed, the true nature of the individual as Brahman is revealed. That same fragment of Brahman exists within all life forms; hence there is a oneness shared by all creatures.

The realization of Paramatma, or Supersoul, is next. In this understanding, the individual learns that there is a superior spiritual force within every living being that ensures that results to action can appear. The individual souls are all sparks of Brahman, and they take the impetus for action, but the rules of the game are not in their control. Think of the law of gravity. We know that gravity exists, and we can predict its influence, but we have no say so in the law itself. It operated before we were born and it will continue to function after we die. To say that we create or effect gravity is silly. That role is assigned to the Paramatma, which is the divine consciousness that directs the living beings, who are seated as on a machine.

“The Supreme Lord is situated in everyone’s heart, O Arjuna, and is directing the wanderings of all living entities, who are seated as on a machine, made of the material energy.”  (Lord Krishna, Bg. 18.61)

The highest realization is of Bhagavan, or the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He is both Brahman and Paramatma, and He retains a separate spiritual identity. He has identifiable features that are not limiting. Bhagavan has no eyes but He can see everything. He has no ears but He can hear every prayer. He has no mouth but He can accept every food item offered in loving devotion. Bhagavan is the very same God most of the world knows as an abstract concept, but His features are more clearly drawn out. Shri Krishna is Bhagavan, and so His speaking of the Bhagavad-gita represents one of the most notable events in history. In all other Vedic texts, one of Bhagavan’s representatives delivers the information, which is flawless in its own right. But only in the Gita is the fact revealed that the speaker is the same God, the object of worship in sanatana-dharma, or the eternal occupation of man.

Krishna speaking to ArjunaThat uniqueness is worth mentioning because the Bhagavad-gita today is the most popular and widely translated Vedic text. The fact that it is read by non-devotees is another indication of Krishna’s opulence, as He is the most famous. At the same time, the original presentation was intended for a specific audience, namely a devotee named Arjuna. That conversation was recorded by Vyasadeva, a literary incarnation of Bhagavan, in the Mahabharata, which is a much lengthier work commonly referred to as the fifth branch of the original Veda. The Mahabharata is intended for the ears of the pious souls, who are not jealous of God. The Bhagavad-gita can thus be thought of as a confidential letter from teacher to student, or friend to friend due to the relationship between Krishna and Arjuna at the time. That letter was made public but only for the right kind of recipient.

A person outside the mood of devotion would never be able to understand the essence of the Gita, as people who are not privy to our relationships with our friends and family would never understand the intimate communication we have with them. The unscrupulous cheaters and pseudo gurus of the modern age love to teach from the Bhagavad-gita, and because they don’t have the same level of devotion as Arjuna, the Gita’s original recipient, they fail to understand the essence of the work: that devotion to God, who is a separate entity who is always related to us because of His property of non-duality, is the highest occupation for man.

In their erroneous commentaries they will say that the living entities are all God, that the individual soul and the Supreme Soul, Paramatma, are one and the same. “Through enough renunciation and knowledge, vairagya and jnana, the individual can merge with the supreme and thus achieve oneness.” Some of the teachers claim to be God themselves, which is quite interesting. Krishna presented the Gita in such a way that many of the commonly known Vedic truths were first offered to Arjuna. This means that descriptions of the principles of detachment, duty, reincarnation, and modes of nature can be found elsewhere in Vedic literature.

“Arjuna said: You are the Supreme Brahman, the ultimate, the supreme abode and purifier, the Absolute Truth and the eternal divine person. You are the primal God, transcendental and original, and You are the unborn and all-pervading beauty. All the great sages such as Narada, Asita, Devala, and Vyasa proclaim this of You, and now You Yourself are declaring it to me.”  (Lord Krishna, Bg. 10.12-13)

Yet in the other famous Vedic texts, why don’t the teachers claim to be God? Why don’t they show the universal form, the virat-rupa, to their students when offering instruction? Why don’t they claim to be the origin of life and matter, the essence of every object? Krishna says that He is the taste in water, the fragrance of the earth, the penance of the ascetic, and the life of all living beings. Why can’t we find other authority figures on the Vedas, like Lord Shiva, King Janaka, Prahlada Maharaja, and Lord Brahma, saying the same things? Indeed, we know that Brahma is the creator, that every creature can trace their ancestry back to him. If anyone has a right to claim a high standing, it would be Brahma, but he never does this. His son Narada Muni is likely the greatest reformer in history, a saint who teaches bhakti-yoga, or devotional service, so vigorously and fearlessly that sometimes parents are angered by his words, for they fear that their children will give up worldly life and take to devotion at a young age. Yet Narada never claims to be God, so how dare anyone else, especially someone who expounds on the Gita without being a devotee of Krishna?

The validity resulting from implementation of accepted principles establishes a teacher’s status as an authority figure. From the effectiveness of the foundational principle of the Bhagavad-gita, namely devotion to God, we can understand that Krishna is an authority figure, and through the bliss that repeatedly comes from connecting with Him in a mood of love, we know that He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. That kind chariot driver helped Arjuna dispel his doubts on that famous day on the battlefield of Kurukshetra, and He can remove all our doubts as to the position of God and our relationship to Him. Krishna’s instructions are all we need to find enlightenment in life, and His holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”, are all we need for happiness.

In Closing:

Ancient Vedic teachers there were many,

But claimed to be God there were not any.

 

Only Krishna this did say,

To Arjuna that fateful day.

 

Same truths in other texts found,

Of Vedanta philosophy, knowledge profound.

 

But Krishna is God and thus unique,

Teacher who gives knowledge we seek.

 

Non-devoted commentators others do cheat,

Know that devotion to Krishna their claims to defeat.

www.krishnasmercy.org

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The World Revolves Around Me

Posted by krishnasmercy on June 27, 2012

Krishna showing the universal form“Whatever you wish to see can be seen all at once in this body. This universal form can show you all that you now desire, as well as whatever you may desire in the future. Everything is here completely.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 11.7)

To think that the world revolves around you is not very wise, but to avoid it is very difficult. The same routine that you have right now, the same worldview and perspective that you keep in your day-today affairs, existed prior to your time with others. Just as you marvel at the birth of your first child, your parents did so as well when their first child was born. As you ponder over the meaning of life and worry over the future, others pondered the same dilemmas, sometimes hundreds of years prior to you. The more you can break away from the false notion that everything only happens because you are present, the wiser you will be. Expanding this vision out to the largest scale is one way to understand the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is not a sectarian figure nor a figment of the imagination.

Is all the stuff in the world unreal? Is it mythology to believe that there is a giant cosmos, which consists of all the planets, species, elements, and the sun? Is it a dogmatic principle to believe that the individual is puny in comparison to not only the sum collection of other individuals but the creation itself? This gigantic, abstract image that automatically incorporates every nuance and detail imaginable exists for real, though it is difficult for us to perceive.

The desire to go where eagles dare helps in some ways to acquire the broader perspective. We have images from outer space available today because of advancements in technology, the relatively new study of aerospace engineering. The aviation buffs and the “geeky” rocket scientists found ways to manipulate the material elements so that they could put man into outer space, allowing him to soar to new heights. From that distance they could see the earth as a whole and the vast outer space that it remains a small part of.

The earth from outer spaceFrom the pictures from outer space, one can realize that they are not that important in the grand scheme, that they can’t manipulate much of the material energy. Surely man can discover new things, and going forward there are many more things to discover, but still nothing can be done to create a planet. That planet doesn’t even have to be the size of the earth or the moon. Just take one small particle of dust if you like and keep it floating in the same orbit in perpetuity. Let it revolve and rotate, and don’t provide it any outside source of energy.

Of course it is impossible for man to do this, and yet even with the vision acquired from outer space there is little humbling of the ego. If there is an acknowledgment of a higher power, there is assuredness that life is meant to be enjoyed, that the material elements should be manipulated for one’s own personal satisfaction. “After all, studying science and doing experiments got man into outer space, so perhaps with more work he can go even beyond, finding new ways to enjoy the experience that is life.”

But is this really enjoyment? The birds already fly high into the sky without the help of scientists. They know nothing of glide ratios, yet they can go pretty much wherever they want via the aerial path. The eagle can see something miles away perfectly, and the vultures have no problem feasting on carcasses. Thus where is the advancement of the human being when it takes them so much effort, years of research and experiment in fact, just to artificially imitate the birds?

The real meaning to life is to understand God. This is the point stressed by the Vedas, the ancient scriptures of India. “Well, what is God? Seems like an abstract concept, so perhaps I can make up my own God, as there are competing visions with the different religions anyway. Who’s to say that aviation and science won’t please the Supreme Lord? We are His children, so shouldn’t He want us to enjoy.”

Though devotion is certainly stressed in the Vedic literatures, as the personal aspect of the Supreme Lord is what brings sweetness in association that ignites a fire of service that never dies within the individual, the scientific basis for spirituality is also presented. The human beings are not the only sons and daughters on the earth; all creatures come from God. The enjoyment is already sanctioned with birth, but at the same time that enjoyment is illusory. It is temporary and coupled with so much misery. The animals also eat, sleep, mate and defend, so should we, as a more intelligent species, follow suit, taking those behaviors to be the summit of existence?

The spirit soul evolves through the different species to reach a point where it can learn about God. From that understanding there is a higher pursuit, a push to achieve the association of the Divine so that pleasure can increase. If one is not so inclined to understand the personal aspects to the Supreme Lord, mistaking their descriptions to be dogmatic or sectarian, then one can still understand the universal form. That vision exists for real, though we can’t see it. But to begin to understand it, we have to break out of the vision that the world revolves around us. This is a wise course regardless, as the more we understand the nature around us, the better suited we will be to deal with others, to follow pious behavior, and to establish a good relationship with our fellow man. Only the lowest among men, who imitate the jackals in their behavior, think that their needs are of utmost concern and that whatever others desire should be cast aside. This is considered foolish thinking because every person has a right to pursue the same enjoyment, to live a vibrant and worthwhile life.

“But you cannot see Me with your present eyes. Therefore I give to you divine eyes by which you can behold My mystic opulence.”  (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 11.8)

Lord Krishna showing universal formThe universal manifestation is one way to think of God, but actually seeing and appreciating it are difficult through one’s mental effort alone. Therefore God, who is a person at heart, kindly discloses that universal form, the virat-rupa, to a few fortunate individuals. What they see is then recorded in the Vedic scriptures, to be recreated for the listener sincerely interested in finding out the meaning to life. Arjuna saw the virat-rupa on the battlefield of Kurukshetra after having received sublime words of wisdom from Shri Krishna, the original form of the Supreme Lord. The same Krishna previously showed a version of that universal form to mother Yashoda in Vrindavana.

“How do I worship that universal manifestation? How do I worship God once I start to appreciate His creation?” The understanding of that vision naturally gives rise to humility, the release of feelings of pride and ego. As it is easy to get distracted with one’s personal affairs and thus think oneself to be the sole determining factor of personal fortunes, that shedding of ego is vital to a fruitful existence. The life is deemed perfect when at the time of death thoughts focus on the Supreme Lord. If that vision of the Supreme Godhead is of His universal form, which is a kind of impersonal aspect, then there is still a spiritual existence in the next life, but one lacking personal association of the divine.

If, on the other hand, the consciousness is fixed on the Supreme Person and His wonderful attributes, then the next residence is in a place where His association is available constantly. The same pursuit of enjoyment exists with that birth, except the results are permanent and blissful. The root cause of the shift is the inherent difference in desires. Rather than try to enjoy without God, who is the proprietor of every land, the devoted souls seek to please Krishna at every step, to see to it that He is happily engaged with His dearest servants, who can assume many different roles in this sacred land.

“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, Bg. 8.5)

The belief in the deliverance at the time of death for the Krishna conscious soul certainly requires some faith to be extended in the beginning, but then again Krishna has earned that faith based on the perfect teachings He presents in works like the Bhagavad-gita. He is so kind that if you should choose not to worship Him, He still gives you information of the universal form, which can be conceptualized right now, by every single person, regardless of their religious persuasion. Know that there is a sum collection of stuff in this world, and when sections of that stuff are used for finding the spiritual kingdom, the time on earth goes well spent.

In Closing:

“Everything around, including sun and moon too,

Revolves around me, everything that I do.”

 

When by pictures from outer space be awed,

Know that your former understanding seriously flawed.

 

Without you everything else still to move on,

In past people same issues dwelt upon.

 

If towards spirituality you are not so inclined,

At least you can keep universal vision in mind.

 

To His devotees Krishna better engagement gives,

In His company devoted souls always live.

www.krishnasmercy.org

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Smaller Than The Smallest

Posted by krishnasmercy on June 21, 2012

Lord Krishna“One should meditate upon the Supreme Person as the one who knows everything, as He who is the oldest, who is the controller, who is smaller than the smallest, who is the maintainer of everything, who is beyond all material conception, who is inconceivable, and who is always a person. He is luminous like the sun and, being transcendental, is beyond this material nature.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 8.9)

It is natural to be enchanted by things which are great. Especially if the object or ability in question is something that we can’t conceptualize, it will grab our attention. For instance, if we play a particular sport ourselves, if we should see someone else excel beyond imagination in it, we will be intrigued by their ability. During the course of our day-to-day dealings we develop frames of reference with respect to the life around us, so seeing things which surpass those reference points in magnitude will surely be considered unique and worthy of attention.

When the focus shifts to spiritual life, as is known to happen due to the guaranteed arrival of death, the same attraction towards greatness carries over. “If there is a God, He must be tremendous. He must be more amazing than anything else I have ever seen. Seeing this greatness will give evidence to His existence. Without visual proof, I can’t believe that He really exists.” This is only an immature understanding, however. The reason is that the nature of the world we live in is such that what we consider amazing really isn’t. Everything is just a gross collection of matter anyway, and for that matter to move and shift there must be a superior guiding force. The size of that force is infinitesimally small, so the truly amazing is that which can also be smaller than the smallest.

“O best among the Bharatas [Arjuna], four kinds of pious men render devotional service unto Me — the distressed, the desirer of wealth, the inquisitive, and he who is searching for knowledge of the Absolute.”  (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.16)

The turn towards spiritual life occurs when there is distress, inquisitiveness about higher truths, a desire to receive a benediction, or a thirst for information about that which we already know to be the Absolute Truth. The distress scenario is understandable, such as when there is a sudden death of a loved one. You see someone so frequently that you start to take their association for granted, but then one day they are no longer with you. “Where did they go? Why did they have to leave? I know that I’m going to die too, but why?” This automatically lessens the significance of the perceived greatness around us, for what’s the big deal if one can collect a large amount of matter for personal enjoyment if they have to quit their body eventually? In this way distress can also spark inquisitiveness about how everything works.

The desire to receive a benediction, such as the accumulation of wealth, is still rooted in ignorance, but at least you acknowledge that there is a higher authority. A personal benefit will last only for as long as your body is intact, and even then such a length of manifestation is only for rare cases. For instance, how many of the gifts we’ve sought out remained relevant in importance to us all the way up until the end of life? Most of the time the enjoyment is short-lived, for we find one toy we enjoy today but then move on to another one tomorrow.

If one actually knows that there is an Absolute Truth, finding out more about Him takes the focus away from greatness in terms of material collection and instead shifts the attention towards the true position of the Supreme Master and how He is able to be both larger than the largest and smaller than the smallest. The initial inclination towards largeness is based on ignorance of the laws of the spiritual science. The ability in all creatures is the Supreme Soul, who lives side by side with the individual soul, or atma. It is the presence of the soul that indicates life, that gives meaning to a collection of matter. When the soul departs, we consider the body to be dead, but as long as it is there, the body is alive and capable of action.

When ignorant of these scientific facts, which are so nicely presented in the Vedic texts like the Bhagavad-gita, the focus stays on greatness. Someone who has a lot of money is considered superior because they don’t have to worry about where to eat and where to live. They also show how to receive the highest return on their work. One person is working all day in a factory, while another is working all day in an office, so why should the fruits of labor be different? If two people output the same amount of energy, the result of that output will determine which work is superior. As a higher salary indicates a greater result, the person earning it must be considered superior in both knowledge and usage of their time.

Lost in this analysis is the fact that the animals, which are considered less intelligent, put in far less effort to find the same enjoyment. Without working in a factory or an office, they find food, clothing and shelter. They can eat, sleep, mate and defend without major hassles. They are so worry free that they don’t have any mental or emotional burdens. Sure, they can’t enjoy high culture like arts and philosophy, but if the human being only desires gross enjoyment of the senses, then the animal has the superior existence.

Without knowledge of spirit, when hearing about God the initial demand is to see greatness. Yet such is the benevolence of the Supreme Master that He accounts for this tendency in man. If you should insist on seeing how great God is, using your own ignorance of the futility of material acquisition to form a flawed barometer, the Supreme Lord can show you His virat-rupa, or universal form. Think of the full collection of everything, the biggest truck that holds the most amount of stuff. This is what the virat-rupa can be likened to. It has the total collection of identifiable living entities and their material coverings. When you see this form, you have essentially seen it all.

Krishna showing universal formIf you don’t believe in God you can still imagine this form, as it certainly exists. Let’s say that we work inside of a factory. Just because we stay in a room the entire time doesn’t mean that there are not other areas to the building. The entire collection of rooms and objects that make up the factory does exist. Similarly, everything in the universe belongs to a singular collection, and that sum total is one way to think of God. The universal form is thus geared towards those who value greatness in terms of large collections. The Supreme Lord is wonderful because He is everything.

But the advanced transcendentalists don’t focus on the virat-rupa. That’s because to them there are aspects to the Supreme Lord which are more noteworthy. What significance does a collection of matter have anyway, especially if we are to quit our body at the end of life? The soul is the same when it is in an ant’s body as it is in a human’s body, so the greatness with respect to ability and possessions is relatively immaterial. Spiritual ability is more amazing, the fact that from one person so many fragments of spirit have come. In addition, there is an inherent relationship between the source and the expansions. There is a simultaneous oneness and difference between the Supreme Lord and the living entities.

More amazing than God’s universal manifestation is His ability to take on the tiniest form that runs through the courtyard in the home of mother Yashoda and Maharaja Nanda. The devoted souls focus on this aspect of the Supreme Lord because it is more delightful, and it gives further insight into His true nature, of how He is a personality with qualities meant to provide pleasure. A learned yogi is not interested in maya, or that which is not Brahman. Brahman is truth; it is spirit. Maya is the matter around us which we mistake for our identity and source of happiness. Yet God, the origin of Brahman, associates with His maya when He appears on earth, all through His own will. That maya doesn’t affect Him the way it does us, and thus His personal forms are not considered to be part of the material energy. That ability to transcend duality is far more amazing than His ability to display the universal form, which is the height of greatness.

The transcendentalist who sees with the vision of devotional love marvels at God’s willingness to appear in Vrindavana and roam around as a small child, playing childish pranks and acting as one dependent on the elders, who love Him without conditions. Known as Krishna, this tiny bundle of joy is the creator of this and every other universe and is the Supersoul resting within every creature. Yet He appears from without periodically to delight those who will cherish His association. Though the residents of Vrindavana from time to time see Krishna’s greatness in terms of His ability to defeat powerful atheists and the lowest among mankind, they are more interested in getting to interact with Him, in basking in the sweetness of His vision and His play.

Lord KrishnaThis is a more advanced stage reserved for the more intelligent, for only in ignorance of the material and spiritual energies do we consider supremacy to relate to only the accumulation of matter. Only in that ignorance would we insist on seeing the universal form from God when such a manifestation already exists both theoretically and practically. The non-devoted will always ask God to show them how large He is, but the devotees are more amazed at how small the Lord can become, how His abilities travel in both directions. Likely the most important feature in Krishna is that He can accept an unlimited amount of service from an unlimited number of sons and daughters. Thus the valuable human effort that was previously directed at producing increased association with maya can be used to further develop an attachment to Krishna, which in turn brings His favor more and more. The highest favor He grants is His personal association, which manifests in the immediate vicinity in a manner that has nothing to do with gross matter.

With greatness in terms of ability and possessions, there is awe and reverence, but love will be difficult to offer in such circumstances. With Krishna the personal association is always in a manner conducive to the release of transcendental love, which is known as bhakti. In bhakti-yoga, or devotional service, Krishna’s name is all that is required, for from that sacred sound vibration the jewel of Vrindavana enters the mind and happily plays in front of the mental vision. God’s greatness is such that even within the mind He can delight, whereas the material energy even within our immediate external vision still causes so much pain. Turn your mind into Vrindavana by always chanting the holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”, and let the naughty child of Yashoda play in its courtyard.

In Closing:

All that is, was and will be,

From God you’ll demand to see.

 

Greatness with matter is all that you know,

Aim is for possessions and abilities to grow.

 

But know that matter not your identity does represent,

For a higher purpose to a human form you were sent.

 

With proper understanding, amazing is the tall,

And also that which is unbelievably small.

 

In Yashoda’s courtyard God you’ll want to see playing,

For His devotees always delightful pastimes displaying.

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The Virat-Rupa

Posted by krishnasmercy on June 19, 2012

Krishna showing the universal form“This virat-rupa of the Lord was especially manifested, not for the benefit of Arjuna, but for that unintelligent class of men who accept anyone and everyone as an incarnation of the Lord and so mislead the general mass of people. For them, the indication is that one should ask the cheap incarnation to exhibit his virat-rupa and thus be established as an incarnation.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 2.1.24 Purport)

Want to play a quick game of “stump yourself”? Take life’s most pressing questions and try to answer them. “My days repeat on end, and sometimes I am happy and sometimes I am sad, but what does it all mean? Why do we all get up in the morning to go to work and then spend a few hours in the night relaxing just so that we can repeat the same cycle again the next day? Also, why are we training our children to follow in this line? They too will one day be dumbfounded by all of this, especially the sudden departure of a close family member. What does it all mean?”

The answers to these questions and many more are given in a short, concise and yet complete discourse known as the Bhagavad-gita. The setting for that talk was quite fitting: a battlefield featuring an expert warrior who was hesitant. He wasn’t worried about how to win. Indeed, he was famous throughout the world for his fighting prowess. He was worried about what would happen should he emerge victorious. The fear of losing is common, so spending too much time on it isn’t necessary. If you’re afraid of failing in your tasks, you just try harder. But what about if you always get what you want? Will all your problems then be solved? Will you be happy?

For Arjuna, there would be no pleasure in ruling over a kingdom if victory required killing some of his friends and family fighting for the opposing side. This begs the question of what is the meaning of life. Why did Arjuna as a warrior have to fight? Why couldn’t he just sit back and do nothing, and let everything happen on its own? Why was victory necessary? The subsequent question and answer period flowed smoothly and reached the proper conclusion. This was because both teacher and student were highly qualified. The student had the required submissive attitude and the teacher the highest knowledge. The teacher is the very origin of knowledge, the birthplace of both spirit and matter.

Bhagavad-gitaFrom the Bhagavad-gita you get lessons on duty, morality, virtue, sin, vice, lust, greed, birth and death, the true identity of the individual, and most importantly what the individual’s relationship to the higher being is. Despite the profound wisdom found in the verses of this sacred work, the speaker, the supreme teacher, still didn’t want others to mistake Him to be a hack mental speculator. The truths passed on to Arjuna and future generations were not mentally concocted, nor did they arrive as a revelation to the speaker. He knew what He was talking about because He is the origin of knowledge; He is the smartest person based on His inherent characteristics.

Arjuna didn’t need convincing of this, but future generations might, so the speaker, Lord Krishna, decided to show His universal form. Known as the virat-rupa, this vision is not exposed to the ordinary eye. Arjuna had to be given the proper set of eyes in order to see this gigantic manifestation of the entire cosmos. Picture all the stuff in the world. If you could put it into one portrait, a single image, that would be the virat-rupa. We sort of get an idea of how this works when we see pictures of the earth taken from outer space. The details aren’t so clear, but nevertheless we are included in those images. We can’t see ourselves, but we know that we are there because we live on the earth. Now take that same wide angle image and expand it to the largest possible scope, with the details included, and you get the amazing virat-rupa.

“But you cannot see Me with your present eyes. Therefore I give to you divine eyes by which you can behold My mystic opulence.”  (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 11.8)

The sight of the universal form is generally a requirement for the asuras, or gross materialists. This seems like a harsh thing to say, but in the absence of a connection to the divine consciousness, the tendency is to be amazed by opulence in terms of greatness. For instance, we give attention to people who have a lot of money. Their greatness comes from their net worth, what they have in the bank. Similarly, a movie star who gives a great performance, an athlete who holds many championship trophies, and an author who has written many popular books are all admired and honored because of their ability to do great things.

Krishna showing the universal form to ArjunaSince we have this tendency already, Krishna shows us that He is the greatest of the greatest. In terms of a collection of matter, nothing can be greater than the virat-rupa. “Why are only the asuras enamored by the universal form? Is there another perspective?” Krishna’s supremacy travels in both directions, the large and the small. The deluded consciousness that doesn’t see the difference between spirit and matter only thinks of greatness in terms of abundance, but the devotee knows that Krishna can be smaller than the smallest as well. While He is the virat-rupa, He is also the Supersoul within every creature. The tiny ant and the large elephant both have Krishna residing within them. Moreover, the fragments of spirit that emanate from Krishna are also infinitesimally small in size and yet can do great things on their own.

Hence the greatness we see around us lies not in the size of a collection of matter, but rather in the intrinsic properties of spirit, of which Krishna is the origin. More amazing than Krishna’s abilities to be large and small is His kindness bestowed upon the devoted souls. Even the non-devoted are beneficiaries of Krishna’s generosity, as they are allowed to continue in a state of ignorance for as long as they desire. The Bhagavad-gita is the discourse to consult when the choice is made in favor of true knowledge. The profound truths of that text cannot be found anywhere else, and though the knowledge should be good enough to accept on an initial extension of faith, the virat-rupa confirms that the speaker is the Supreme Personality of Godhead Himself.

If you think about it, any person can offer some profound truths, receive adoration, and then claim to be God. Just read the Gita, accept some of the important facts, and then try to imitate Krishna. There are a few problems with this method, however. For starters, Krishna did not disclose His true identity to everyone. If you are the Supreme Lord, you have no need for adoration or reverential worship. Krishna’s favoritism to Arjuna was in the mood of friendship, which Arjuna preferred. The Bhagavad-gita, its profound truths, and the unveiling of the universal form were not for Arjuna’s direct benefit, though they were presented in that way. Arjuna was already in the devotional consciousness, so only through a temporary fall from the highest state of consciousness purposefully orchestrated by Krishna did the need for the discourse come about.

Lord KrishnaThe charlatan posing to be God can be exposed just from their claim. Nevertheless, if others require more proof they can insist on seeing the virat-rupa. If you really are God, you should be able to show everything, the entire universe of stuff, to any person. If not, you are just a pretender, a cheater who exploits the valuable gem of Vedic wisdom for your own benefit. Krishna gives the transcendental wisdom of the Gita and the accompanying discipline of bhakti-yoga for the benefit of the worthy recipients, knowing full well that the soul is happiest when engaged in divine service. The implementation of that discipline is fine tuned through the association of the saints, and the ultimate arbiter of success or failure is Shri Krishna Himself, who looks at sincerity more than ability. To let Him know that we’re serious about making the most out of the rare human birth, we can chant the holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”.

Know that the virat-rupa only remains an amazing vision for as long as the concept of duality exists, where we think that we are different from Krishna and that a large collection of matter is meaningful. In the devotional consciousness, the oneness shared in the relationship to the Supreme Lord – wherein He is the benevolent master and we are the humble servant – is considered more valuable, and the divine sport of the Supreme Personality, such as His roaming around Vrindavana as a naughty child who steals butter, delights the heart.

In Closing:

When ignorance pertaining to matter in Arjuna had grown,

To him the virat-rupa, universal manifestation, was shown.

 

The battlefield of Kurukshetra was for this the perfect setting,

For afraid of highest material success Arjuna was getting.

 

Fear over failure quite easy to analyze,

But more interesting worry over opulence’s rise.

 

Krishna gave talk and to settle any doubts,

Showed supreme vision that an equal is without.

 

If fake incarnations their stature try to grow,

Ask them also the universal form to show.

 

Devotee goes beyond gross matter’s collection,

Takes higher pleasure in Krishna contemplation.

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Eliminating The Primary Fear

Posted by krishnasmercy on May 27, 2012

Krishna speaking to Arjuna“All created beings are unmanifest in their beginning, manifest in their interim state, and unmanifest again when they are annihilated. So what need is there for lamentation?” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.28)

There are many reasons to read the Bhagavad-gita, the Song of God sung on the battlefield of Kurukshetra some five thousand years ago. As revealed by the singer Himself, the same words were previously delivered many eons prior, at the beginning of creation. Therefore the Gita and its essential teachings are timeless, proving to be valuable in any time period and to any class of men. What’s more is that the primary fear, the root cause of distress, is addressed by this great work, proving that from a single set of teachings all other problems can be solved simultaneously.

What is that primary fear? What is the one thing that we worry about the most? Not surprisingly, it is death. Even if we have come to grips with our own eventual passing, there is still concern over the separation from friends and family members. “How will I live without them? I can’t believe that one day I will never see them again. ‘Never’ is such a frightening concept. Why can’t I have their association forever?” We know that this sadness is widespread based on the reaction to the passing of famous people, which also reveals how there is a lack of knowledge of the afterlife.

If true knowledge of the soul existed, there would be no reason to overly lament the passing of someone else. In reality, the lamentation is for ourselves, for we are now bereft of the departed’s company. But they continue to live on, as the spirit soul cannot be cut up, made wet, burned, or destroyed in any way.

“The soul can never be cut into pieces by any weapon, nor can he be burned by fire, nor moistened by water, nor withered by the wind.”  (Lord Krishna, Bg. 2.23)

Lord KrishnaThere are many reasons to be averse to religious doctrines. For starters, so many religions are now organized and thus riddled with the common problems of politics, infighting, and the desire for personal aggrandizement, all of which are antithetical to a system of discipline aimed at connecting with the highest power. There is also the perceived notion that by hearing about and following religious dictates, one’s life will be stripped of fun. “No more sex life. No more eating meat. No more getting drunk. That all equals no fun.”

But if we look at the Gita, we see that the starting point is the primary fear in every person. Thus the teachings that follow the initial inquiries from the perplexed warrior are applicable to every single person. In one sense the Gita doesn’t have to be considered a religious text, as it presents the information of the spirit soul and its travels in a scientific way. There are methods of redress that can be adopted, with a starting hypothesis declared, and the worker can see for themselves with the results of the experiments whether or not the principles presented are valid.

The speaker of the Gita is the oldest and wisest person. He has knowledge of every single past incident, so He knows that the principles of sanatana-dharma, or the eternal occupation of man, never fail when properly implemented. He can also see into the future, so there is no need for Him to observe any future results to experiments. On the battlefield that day, He presented His spotless knowledge in a manner that was suitable to the listener in the immediate vicinity. In the process the information was also shared with countless future generations who would study the text under the guidance of a bona fide spiritual master.

So what was the initial premise? What was the problem that sparked the talk? Arjuna was the leading fighter for a group of brothers known as the Pandavas. They had the rightful claim to the throne of Hastinapura, but their cousins unjustly usurped control. Now a war was to settle the matter, and right before hostilities were to start, Arjuna grew hesitant. He wasn’t worried about losing. It was just the opposite in fact; he was afraid of what would happen if his side won. So many people would die, and Arjuna wouldn’t like that. He didn’t want to live without the company of his well-wishers and relatives fighting for the other side, especially if he was the cause of their demise.

ArjunaDo Arjuna’s sentiments sound familiar? If they are alive today, are we not worried about the day when we will lose the association of our parents? Are we not afraid of losing a loved one either through a disease or a tragic accident? The answers Krishna gave to Arjuna allow for the individual spirit soul to be knowledgeable in its activities, and with that sword of knowledge one can slash away the ropes of doubt and illusion, which bind one in a trap of fear.

What were Krishna’s primary instructions? Through a carefully presented series of verses, the Gita speaks of the spirit soul and how it is ageless. That soul existed prior to the present manifestation of the body and it will exist beyond the current form. The soul is the essence of identity, and its disposition is what matters most, not where the body is currently situated. This holds true for the individual and also for every other person, including people for whom we hold affection.

The person must act, however, and to know how to act one should follow the bona fide religious principles as they are presented by sadhu, shastra, and guru. The sadhu is the saintly man, who is devoted to the lotus feet of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Shastra is scripture; it has the recorded instructions of the Supreme Lord and His representatives. The guru is the embodiment of devotion to God. He teaches by both precept and example. He can teach the humble student the meaning to the verses of shastra and how to practically apply the principles in everyday life.

After hearing from Krishna and accepting the information through discrimination, Arjuna decided to fight ahead, casting aside his previous doubt. Does this mean that Arjuna suddenly became callous to life and death? Did he discard his affection for his family members? If he did, isn’t the Gita kind of cold in its teaching? What is the difference, then, between a person who follows Krishna’s teachings and one who is so low in their moral standards that they kill other people at random, having no concern for them?

“The Blessed Lord said: While speaking learned words, you are mourning for what is not worthy of grief. Those who are wise lament neither for the living nor the dead.”  (Bg. 2.11)

Bhagavad-gita, As It IsThe ultimate lesson of the Gita is to follow Krishna’s instructions, for He is the Supreme Lord. The vague concept of God is the same Krishna but without the features painted. There are incarnations and expansions of Krishna as well, which show off even more features, as many as the living entity can enumerate. Since Krishna is the fountainhead of all energies, following His word, showing love to Him, is actually the only way to have universal brotherhood. The only way to properly love all of God’s creation is to first serve the original creator.

This means that instead of losing his affection for his family members, Arjuna actually learned to love them more. But his affection was no longer based off temporary features belonging to a perishable body. Arjuna knew that everyone is a spirit soul and that by following occupational duties with detachment there is no sin incurred with action. Also, only the bodies of the other soldiers would be destroyed; their souls would continue to live on. Thus with this perfect combination of knowledge Arjuna could continue on without carrying the burden of the primary fear in man.

That same level of detachment comes to one who follows devotion to Krishna. The wise chariot-driver who enlightened Arjuna on that day can be reached through His holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”, which are non-different from Him. Chanting and hearing are the bedrock of bhakti-yoga, or devotional service. That discipline transcends sectarian boundaries and religious institutions. Devotion to God is the inherent occupation of the soul and from it the fears we regularly encounter today can vanish, creating a legitimate loving sentiment that extends to all creatures.

In Closing:

The greatest fear is that life will end,

Then creates other fears when it extends.

 

Even if with my own mortality I have come to grips,

How will I survive when close friends their bodies quit?

 

Arjuna thought just like this, fate of others to dwell upon,

To dispel his doubts, Shri Krishna sung transcendental song.

 

Known as Bhagavad-gita, at start deals with end of life,

Then solves other issues, anger, vengeance and strife.

 

Like Arjuna from the principles of bhakti don’t deviate,

In the process primary fear of life eliminate.

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