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Narasimha Chaturdashi 2015

Posted by krishnasmercy on May 1, 2015

[Narasimhadeva]“Lord Narasimhadeva is here, and He is also there on the opposite side. Wherever I go, there I see Lord Narasimhadeva. He is outside and within My heart. Therefore I take shelter of Lord Narasimhadeva, the original Supreme Personality of Godhead.” (Narasimha Purana)

ito nṛsiṁhaḥ parato nṛsiṁho
yato yato yāmi tato nṛsiṁhaḥ
bahir nṛsiṁho hṛdaye nṛsiṁho
nṛsiṁham ādiṁ śaraṇaṁ prapadye

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Is God everywhere? Can He be seen with the naked eye? Isn’t the idea of a single person directing the millions of results to actions a fairy tale? Isn’t it more of a hope, a concept to help alleviate the pain of loss, the sting of the knowledge of guaranteed death? A young child a long time ago saw the Supreme everywhere. He was not embarrassed by this vision. He was confident in himself, to the point of disobeying the orders of people much more powerful than him. The occasion of Narasimha Chaturdashi celebrates one special incident that proved that the boy was right all along, that his faith in the existence and mercy of the Supreme was not in vain.

Young children are known to make up things. They develop the imaginary friend. Since the children are dependents, they don’t have full freedom. They can’t get in the car and drive to a restaurant of their choosing for dinner. They can’t decide to stay awake all night or sleep longer in the morning to miss school. They must do as the elders say, so in frustration it is understandable if they should create someone in their imagination. This “friend” listens to what they say. The friend doesn’t judge.

[Krishna liberating Nalakuvara and Manigriva]For young children there is also so much of life left to experience. Therefore it is understandable if they mistakenly see things that are not there. In Vrindavana a long time ago, children saw something amazing with their own eyes. They saw the son of mother Yashoda drag a mortar through two trees. The boy was tied to that mortar as punishment. When the mortar went in between, the trees fell down. Yet that wasn’t the end to the amazing sight. After falling down, from the trees emerged two heavenly beings.

“While the elderly cowherd men were thus contemplating, the small children who were playing there informed the men that the trees fell due to Krishna’s pulling the wooden mortar with the ropes to which He was bound.” (Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 1, Ch 11)

Some of the elders did not believe the children when they heard the story. They attributed it to the wild imaginations of youth. What those children saw did actually happen, as that child tied to the mortar was Shri Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Thousands of years prior to that incident, another boy saw something amazing relating to the same Krishna. Named Prahlada, this child saw the divine influence everywhere.

This vision is difficult to acquire for even the seasoned adult. From the time of birth, the flawed identification with the body begins. The individual thinks that their body identifies them, though they had no say in acquiring that body. They have no idea for how long it will last and what will happen to them later on. Among other things, this flawed identification leads to the duality of friendship and hatred. One person is considered a friend while another is an enemy, but in fact both are struggling through the same material existence.

yat tatra guruṇā proktaṁ
śuśruve ’nupapāṭha ca
na sādhu manasā mene
sva-parāsad-grahāśrayam

“Prahlada certainly heard and recited the topics of politics and economics taught by the teachers, but he understood that political philosophy involves considering someone a friend and someone else an enemy, and thus he did not like it.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 7.5.3)

[Prahlada Maharaja]Prahlada saw the divine influence in every single person. He saw past the body, which is a product of the illusory energy known as maya. He considered everyone to be equal at the spiritual level. Yet this highly advanced vision, which is validated by the scriptural information of the Vedas, was not appreciated at all. Prahlada’s father wanted the boy to see duality. He wanted Prahlada to consider anyone against the royal crown to be an enemy. Any person attempting to acquire power was a threat and Prahlada had to learn how to deal with them.

Very soon the father Hiranyakashipu viewed Prahlada as the greatest threat. What was the boy’s strength? What was the sign of his advancement? It was the vision of the Divine. Prahlada was very liberal in this regard. He tried to get his friends in school to look upon the world the same way. He tried to get his belligerent father to understand the same. Yet the father could not tolerate this, for to him God was the original enemy. And now that enemy had taken over the mind of his son.

Prahlada’s vision was not an imagination; it was true. Hiranyakashipu thought Prahlada was foolish to think that God was everywhere. So he challenged his son to show him that God was in a pillar standing next to them. Unfortunately for Hiranyakashipu, Prahlada was not wrong. From the pillar emerged a ferocious being, a half-man/half-lion. It was Krishna Himself. The same Supersoul that is the life of everything living, the ability in man and the sustainer of the universe arrived at the scene to bear witness to Prahlada’s greatness.

[Narasimhadeva]Narasimha Chaturdashi is the anniversary of that famous appearance. Known in that form as Narasimhadeva, the Supreme Lord Krishna made quick work of the demoniac king Hiranyakashipu. The father did not want Prahlada to be right. The boy’s staunch devotion to God could not be tolerated. Therefore Hiranyakashipu tried in so many ways to kill Prahlada, but it was not meant to be. God is indeed everywhere, and armed with the knowledge of the science of self-realization anyone can see this. Even a seemingly helpless child can have this vision, one that is protected by the Supreme Lord Himself.

In Closing:

Of parents love a beneficiary,

Helpless, to make friend imaginary.

 

Since full experience not yet,

In life mistaken visions to get.

 

But with Prahlada not the case,

The Divine vision from him none could erase.

 

Belligerent father despite how hard he tried,

Killed by God, on Krishna the boy relied.

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Rama Navami 2015

Posted by krishnasmercy on March 27, 2015

[Building bridge to Lanka]“Describing how material nature works, the Brahma-samhita says that the sun moves as desired by the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Consequently, for Lord Ramachandra to construct a bridge over the Indian Ocean with the help of monkey soldiers who threw great mountain peaks into the water is not at all wonderful; it is wonderful only in the sense that it has kept the name and fame of Lord Ramachandra eternally celebrated.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 9.10.16 Purport)

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How do you define the indefinable? That which is the source of everything, the only being who is timeless in both spirit and body, who effortlessly causes the creation and then just as easily destroys everything – is there any one word that suffices? Is there a specific form or name that encompasses all aspects? The descents of the Divine provide clarity. Like having a number written out instead of being shown only the digit form, the Supreme Lord’s appearances clear up any misconception about who or what He might be. The occasion of Rama Navami celebrates one such descent.

“Neti, neti.” Those who are familiar with Vedanta philosophy have come across this expression many times. It means “not this, not that.” It is used as a way to explain the unexplainable, the original being from whom all others emanate. The expression is very informative. It says that wherever you turn, you have not found God.

Do you think He is the tree? No, He is not that. Do you think He is the famous head of state who has expanded the territory of jurisdiction through valiant fighting and triumphs over formidable foes? No, He is not that. Do you think He is the loving mother who nurtures her child and provides unconditional affection throughout life? No, He is not her either. Do you think He is the impartial mother nature, which nourishes the crops with rainfall and brings the heat of summer to drive away the bitter cold of winter? No, He is not that. Do you think He is some mysterious planet lying deep in outer space that man has yet to find? No, He is not that. Do you think He is a light of transcendence, devoid of attributes? No, that is not completely accurate in describing Him either.

yadā yadā hi dharmasya
glānir bhavati bhārata
abhyutthānam adharmasya
tadātmānaṁ sṛjāmy aham

“Whenever and wherever there is a decline in religious practice, O descendant of Bharata, and a predominant rise of irreligion – at that time I descend Myself.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.7)

[avataras of Krishna]If He is not this and He is not that, does it mean that He is not an individual? Is He not even a He? In the Bhagavad-gita we learn that the origin of everything is a personality. He is Bhagavan, a Sanskrit term which His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada nicely and accurately translates into “the Supreme Personality of Godhead.” Of course these are just claims. Anyone can say anything. Therefore the speaker of the Gita gives further evidence. He says that He descends to earth in His personal form. He does this whenever He likes, but externally the apparent cause is the decline of religion and the rise of irreligion.

One of those descents was as Shri Ramachandra. “Neti, neti” says what God is not, but Shri Ramachandra says what God is. Ramachandra is also known by the shortened name of Rama, which appears in the famous maha-mantra: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and Rama is identical to Him. Rama is Krishna with a different visual, with certain features more pronounced and others suppressed due to the time and circumstance.

Rama appeared as the eldest son of King Dasharatha of Ayodhya. This king was part of the celebrated dynasty known as the Ikshvaku. Dasharatha was approaching old age and had yet to get a son to whom the kingdom could be passed. After performing a sacrifice at the advice of a brahmana, the king’s three wives became pregnant. Rama was the first one to appear, and so He immediately became the rightful heir, the crown prince.

Rama’s life and pastimes are chronicled in the Ramayana, a book authored by Maharishi Valmiki. As God is great, so many people appreciate His deeds to the point that they will also offer recollections and written plaudits. Therefore Rama’s activities are described in many works of the Vedic tradition, with some featuring more detail than others.

If you want to know who is God, you can say that He is the eldest son of King Dasharatha. There is no flaw in this statement. “Neti, neti” stops at Rama. You can go around pointing the “not this” finger at every object you see, but it won’t work with the moon of the Ikshvaku dynasty, the delight of Queen Kausalya.

If you want to know who is God, you can say that He is the life and soul of Lakshmana, another son of Dasharatha. God is the beloved elder brother to Bharata and Shatrughna as well. If you’re interested in finding out who is the supreme person, you can say that He is the protector of the sages in the forest, tapo-vana. The most prominent of these sages is the venerable Vishvamitra Muni.

[Rama and Lakshmana slaying Tataka]Rama is the slayer of the demons Tataka and Subahu. He is one part of an illustrious pair of fighters who give support to the pious. Lakshmana is Rama’s partner in battle, and the two brothers make for a splendid sight. When they traverse the forest, flowers rain from the sky. This is the appreciation of the devatas, the godly personalities who manage the various aspects of the material creation.

If you want to know who is God, you can say that He is the giver of liberation through removing curses. Simply by feeling the lotus foot of Shri Rama, Ahalya gained release from her curse. She was in the form of a stone for an offense she had committed previously. Meeting Rama freed her from the curse. Rama is also the one with the strongest arm in the world. His arm is the only one capable of lifting the heaviest bow in the contest of King Janaka.

[Sita and Rama]Rama is the life and soul of Sita Devi, the daughter of King Janaka. He is Sita’s beloved husband, and the person whom she serves lifetime after lifetime. Rama is the protector of the sages of the Dandaka forest, who are constantly harassed by the evil night-rangers coming from Lanka. Rama is the friend of Sugriva, the Vanara king from Kishkindha.

[Vanaras building bridge for Rama]If you want to know who is God, you can say that He is the leader of the Vanara-army which built a bridge made out of floating stones. Rama is the slayer of Ravana, the one of a terrible roar, who kept the innocent people of the world in fear for many years. Rama is the savior of Vibhishana, the pious-souled Rakshasa who succeeded Ravana after the demon’s demise. Another way to know God is to say that He is the person the brave Hanuman loves and serves with spotless devotion for all of eternity.

[Shri Hanuman]As “Neti, neti” applies to everything we see around us, it seems to be much greater than a single individual. But that is the glory of God, for through one lifetime He displays greatness that far exceeds anything we could imagine. The glories of Rama know no end, and so the descriptions of Him are larger in volume than that which describes what He is not. The occasion of Rama Navami is an opportunity to remember that greatness.

In Closing:

“Neti, neti” not this to mean,

God not anything that we’ve seen.

 

Applies to all Rama except,

Who tapasya of sages protects.

 

God to this world descending,

And to be human being pretending.

 

So that true understanding of Him we’ll receive,

Doing things we could never believe.

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Holi 2015

Posted by krishnasmercy on March 5, 2015

[Holi colors]“Then all the men and women of the city happily went to play Holi. Seeing Rama’s face, their hearts were full of happiness and attachment that cannot be measured.” (Gitavali, 310.5)

nagara-nāri-nara hara।sita saba cale khelana phāgu |
dekhi rāma cabi atulita umagata ura anurāga ||

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The Supreme Personality of Godhead is a mine of politeness. He is not just a little bit kind or a little bit nice. He truly wishes for the happiness of every single creature, large or small, young or old. He is intimately tied to them forever, as they are His eternal fragmental parts. They are struggling with the six senses in the material existence due to conditioned life. When they are fortunate enough to take to bhakti-yoga, which is service to Him joyfully performed, they no longer struggle. Every moment in that engagement calls for festivities, and the delineated holidays bring even more happiness. The celebration of Holi in the kingdom of Shri Rama is one such example.

rāja-vidyā rāja-guhyaṁ

pavitram idam uttamam

pratyakṣāvagamaṁ dharmyaṁ

su-sukhaṁ kartum avyayam

“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)

What is material life? Why is it a struggle? What is the purpose to an existence in it? Among those who are religiously inclined, there are two common outlooks on how life should be lived. The first says that God demands penance from the population that is full of sinners. Each person has sinned for too long, and so they need to repent for what they have done. They have forgotten the Supreme Lord and so they should forgo all enjoyments that keep them forgetful of Him.

Vedic philosophy concurs with these sentiments. The living entity is a spirit soul at the core. They are eternally linked to the supreme spirit in a relationship described as achintya-bheda-bheda-tattva. This is simultaneous oneness and difference. God is spirit and so is the individual. Both are the same qualitatively, but quantitatively there is a large gap. This combined difference and equality is inconceivable; the mind cannot fully grasp it.

The material existence is where the eternally linked individual souls separate from God. Total separation is not there; only in consciousness. The material elements are the inferior, external energy of God. The individual souls mistakenly identify with the material elements instead of spirit. Therefore they struggle. Human life is meant for tapasya, or austerity, specifically to regain the original consciousness, the understanding of one’s true identity.

[nature]The second outlook says that life is meant to be enjoyed. God created everything, after all. The hills, the mountains, the flowers, the plants, the trees, the air, the water – all these things are for man to use. What is the harm in having fun? If the Supreme Lord is really the best person, He must be the kindest. He must be compassionate upon the fallen. He must desire for them to be happy.

Vedic philosophy concurs with these sentiments too. The Supreme Lord is said to be all-attractive. Therefore the best name to describe Him is Krishna. The same Krishna is also Rama, the reservoir of transcendental pleasure. The Supreme Lord always enjoys, no matter where He is. Integral to that enjoyment is the association of devoted men and women. Animals, trees and insects also live in His spiritual land. Wherever the individual finds themselves, the Supreme Lord wishes for them to be happy in service to Him.

It is this service that plays the determining factor. The idea is to always live in consciousness of God. This reconciles the conflict in the two outlooks. Enjoy life to the fullest, but don’t forget Him. Of course this is difficult to do. The path seems almost contradictory. If I enjoy with friends and family, how can I remember God? Won’t I view Him as an order supplier instead of the person with whom I am meant to enjoy?

[Lord Rama]The ideal example comes to us from the scene referenced above. Here Shri Krishna has descended to earth in His incarnation of Rama. While Krishna enjoys all the time, Rama sometimes has to lay down laws for the people to follow. He accepts the role of a warrior prince, so His day is not full of fun and games. He Himself is always in bliss, but externally through occupation He displays seriousness from time to time.

Here He is ruling over the kingdom of Ayodhya. The citizens are so happy to be governed by Him. Ayodhya at this time is truly the kingdom of God. In that kingdom there are celebrations of all sorts. Holi, the festival of colors, gets celebrated in a way we can’t fathom, with nothing held back. Holi is an ancient holiday whose origin is with devotion to God. Once a five-year old son of a king refused to give up his devotion to Krishna. The boy’s father wanted this devotion to go away, to the point that he could no longer tolerate it in his son. The king then tried to kill his son in so many ways, including placing him in a fire. The boy’s devotion defeated the father’s antagonism every time. In the incident with the fire, it was the king’s sister Holika who died. The boy Prahlada survived, and the ashes of Holika that remained have since become the iconic symbol of the holiday known as Holi.

[Radha and Krishna playing Holi]Holi thus marks the victory of strong devotion over obstinate non-devotion. Colors are thrown about, with no person spared. The festival is meant to be in good fun, and from the example in Ayodhya we see that it is meant to be performed in full consciousness of God. Here the people got the direct sanction from Rama to start the festivities. They went to play Holi very happily. Holi is also known as Phagu, since it occurs in the month of Phalguna at the time of the full moon, Purnima.

[Lord Rama]While they played, they kept Rama’s face in mind. Goswami Tulsidas says that their attachment to Rama was so strong that it could not be measured. The people had so much love in their hearts. And of course such enjoyment of the people brought so much joy to the Supreme Lord also. In bhakti-yoga we find the true meaning to living, transcending location, physical designations and language. The people of Ayodhya show that any place can be made into the real heaven, as long as the Supreme Lord remains at the center.

In Closing:

As sinners repentant to be,

Or our enjoyment God should see?

 

Agreeing with both the Vedic conclusion,

Enjoy but with God in mind, no confusion.

 

Like into Holi’s festival to enter,

Ayodhya’s people keeping Rama at the center.

 

Though playing attachment only to grow,

Through bhakti any land becoming heaven you know.

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Gaura Purnima 2015

Posted by krishnasmercy on March 4, 2015

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

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sarva-sad-guṇa-pūrṇāṁ tāṁ

vande phālguna-pūrṇimām

yasyāṁ śrī-kṛṣṇa-caitanyo

‘vatīrṇaḥ kṛṣṇa-nāmabhiḥ

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

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

vidyā-vinaya-sampanne

brāhmaṇe gavi hastini

śuni caiva śva-pāke ca

paṇḍitāḥ sama-darśinaḥ

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In Closing:

On this day Gaura Purnima to fall,

Remember the golden savior of all.

 

Who to Supreme Lord the same,

To teach bhakti philosophy came.

 

To the people He fearlessly went,

Sounds of holy names to them sent.

 

From this highest awareness coming,

In harmony of bhakti age golden becoming.

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Govardhana Puja 2014

Posted by krishnasmercy on October 23, 2014

[Krishna lifting Govardhana Hill]“When the cowherd men of Vrindavana, under instruction of Krishna, stopped offering sacrifice to the heavenly King, Indra, the whole tract of land known as Vraja was threatened with being washed away by constant heavy rains for seven days. Lord Krishna, out of His causeless mercy upon the inhabitants of Vraja, held up the hill known as Govardhana with one hand only, although He was only seven years old. He did this to protect the animals from the onslaught of water.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 2.7.32)

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gopair makhe pratihate vraja-viplavāya

deve ‘bhivarṣati paśūn kṛpayā rirakṣuḥ

dhartocchilīndhram iva sapta-dināni sapta-

varṣo mahīdhram anaghaika-kare salīlam

When there is birth, there must be death. This fact we know from our own experience. It is also confirmed by Shri Krishna in the famous Bhagavad-gita. All that we see living around us is that which has yet to die. What will come in the future will also die some time afterwards. Since there must be death, there must be a means to accomplish that end. Therefore we can conclude that this world is extremely dangerous. It is mrityu-loka, or the planet where everyone dies. To facilitate the impending death, there must be danger at every step. On the occasion of Govardhana Puja we remember how one person can protect against any danger.

“The devotees of the Lord are never in danger, but in the material world which is full of dangers at every step, the devotees are apparently placed into dangerous positions, and when they are saved by the Lord, the Lord is glorified.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 1.16.13-15 Purport)

There is danger just in getting up each morning, but consider all the risks taken for sense gratification. When I am not satisfied with a nine to five job that pays enough to put food on the table and keep a roof over my head, I look in other directions. I jump out of airplanes for sport. I have no reason to take such a risk other than to feel a heightened thrill. Yet there is every chance of something bad happening, and when it does one must ask why they took the risk in the first place.

If I am not satisfied travelling in a horse and buggy, I look for ways to improve upon transportation. The new inventions then require a fuel source. That source is the oil that comes from the ground. So many things in today’s world would not be possible were it not for this oil, which is also referred to as petroleum. The supermarket would not exist; for without trucks to deliver the many varieties of products on time, how would the store stay in business? Without the supermarket, how would the people of the town eat?

To secure oil is not easy. It is a dangerous procedure, carrying the risk of killing an entire town. Make the slightest mistake while drilling deep into the earth and you’ll release a gas that will kill you in under ten minutes. That same gas can then travel through the air and kill so many others. More machines and manpower are required as precautionary measures; they are ways to keep safe from this potential calamity.

[iPhone 6 and 6 plus]The purpose to taking these risks is to increase sense gratification. Yet that happiness is fleeting. It does not stay for very long. If it did, then the model of the most popular smartphone would not change every year. If sense gratification could be kept in check, then restaurants would never change their menus. People would never get divorced, and there would be no such thing as drug addiction.

There is a higher happiness to be found. It is known as prema, or pure love. It also goes by the name of bhakti, which means devotion. This happiness is not nearly as risky to attain. There aren’t as many dangers involved. Surely there is danger at every step in a material existence, but for bhakti all that is required is hearing. Simply lend your ears to the sound of the holy names, like those found in the maha-mantra: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

Another way to find prema is to chant. Say those same holy names on a regular basis. Make a routine of it by using a set of japa beads, which are harmless. You can get bhakti also by offering service to a worshipable figure made of some material substance. You can offer prayers to find bhakti. These are not risky paths. The only thing lost is material desire, which has proven to be worthless in providing real satisfaction.

Bhakti is so wonderful that those who have it want to share it with others. They are not afraid to take extra risks in this area, provided they are necessary. They have the hand of God protecting them. That hand turns a potentially risky situation into the safest one. In Vrindavana several thousand years ago, there was no risk in taking shelter underneath a giant hill that was held up in the air by a tiny child. Normally this would be the riskiest situation, but the child in this instance was Shri Krishna Himself appearing on earth. He held up the hill to save the residents from a devastating flood instigated by the king of heaven, Indra.

[Krishna lifting up Govardhana Hill]Floods can appear at any time. They are part of the category of miseries known as adhidaivika, or those which come from the divine forces. Hurricanes, earthquakes and the like are natural disasters, acts of God. The Supreme Lord, who is beyond duality, can eliminate the risk from any material misery. His tiny pinky finger held up Govardhana Hill immediately after it was worshiped. This large umbrella He created is the strongest one ever seen in the world. That same safety comes to those who take shelter of Shri Krishna through bhakti-yoga. Therefore the occasion of Govardhana Puja is celebrated annually by those who rely on the protection of the Supreme Lord, who by Himself puts an end to the cycle of birth and death.

In Closing:

For more happiness you yearn,

But know that danger at every turn.

 

To extract oil from the ground,

Deadly gas too can be found.

 

Happiness thus there is not,

Until real love you have got.

 

In bhakti by Shri Krishna protected,

Who Govardhana into air projected.

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Diwali 2014

Posted by krishnasmercy on October 22, 2014

[Rama and Lakshmana]“O Lakshmana, this kingdom I desire only for the maintenance and happiness of my brothers. Holding my weapon, I swear on this.” (Lord Rama, Valmiki Ramayana, Ayodhya Kand, 97.6)

bhrātṛiṇāṃ saṃgrahārthaṃ ca sukhārthaṃ cāpi lakṣmaṇa |
rājyamapyahamicchāmi satyenāyudhamālabhe ||

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Diwali is the popular annual holiday noted for its many lights. Spread around the home, the festive atmosphere is intended to welcome home the prince of Ayodhya. The initial event took place thousands of years ago, but since that prince is a divine figure, the celebration can be repeated every year. Indeed, through bhakti-yoga, lamps are waved in His honor on a regular basis. He is remembered and appreciated every single day of the year, but Diwali calls for a special celebration. After all, it was the time that a great injustice was finally reversed.

[Lord Rama]The prince coming home is Shri Ramachandra. He is also known as Rama, and according to the Sanskrit texts that are the Vedas, He is the Supreme Lord. God is not an old man. He is not mean, vindictive, petty, or angry. He is sach-chid-ananda, which means ever-existing, all knowledge, and all bliss. He never takes birth and He never dies. He never loses the happiness He feels. So whenever He decides to appear on earth, in whatever form He chooses, He is an ocean of mercy to those who come in contact with Him. Everyone is looking for bliss, and in Rama they find it in the highest level.

In Ayodhya the people did not know that Rama was God Himself appearing in a seemingly human form to teach so many valuable lessons. They did not need to know this. They held so much affection for Him. He was their life and soul. If someone you love dearly becomes famous, do you stop caring for them? Do you start to treat them differently? If you really care for them, their status will not matter. In a similar way, the people were not concerned with what Rama could do for them; they were rather interested in seeing Him happy.

This means that they were quite upset when He was banished from His kingdom for fourteen years. By the way, this happened on the eve of His would-be coronation. Being the eldest son of the king, Rama was the rightful heir to the throne. As is known to happen in families, jealousy arose. The king’s youngest wife wanted her son on the throne instead. Rama did not mind this. The people would have been okay with it also. But thinking the worst in Rama, the queen ordered that He be banished for fourteen years. This way Rama would not be able to act should He entertain hopes of taking the throne by force.

This was insult to injury. Rama lived for His brothers. When He first heard the news that His father was going to make Him king, Rama told His younger brother Lakshmana to share in this glory. Rama did not want any of His younger brothers to feel slighted.

“O Lakshmana, do you rule this earth with Me. You are like My second self, so this glorious opportunity has been presented to you as well. O Saumitra, do you enjoy all the pleasures you desire and the fruits of the regal life. My life and this kingdom I covet for your sake alone.” (Lord Rama speaking to Lakshmana, Valmiki Ramayana, Ayodhya Kanda, 4.43-44)

[Rama and Lakshmana]When Rama was leaving, Lakshmana insisted on coming along. Rama’s wife Sita also would not stay at home. The people of Ayodhya wanted to go too, but that would have defeated the purpose. It would have created a kingdom in the forest, which would essentially nullify the exile punishment.

So the people had to wait at home. They had to endure fourteen years of knowing that their beloved prince had been wronged greatly. Bad things shouldn’t happen to good people. A sinless person like Rama should not be made to suffer for no reason. Rama’s wife Sita was equally as beloved. It was a grave injustice that the couple should not get to protect the citizens that loved them so much.

It was not surprising, then, that at the group’s return to Ayodhya the city went all out. Each home was decorated nicely. Fragrant water was sprinkled on the roads. Flags were raised and auspicious pots were placed outside the homes. The city had celebrated like this before, when Rama first came home from marrying Sita. That was a different mood, as Rama was out on business. He and Lakshmana were protecting the sage Vishvamitra in the forest. This time too they were offering protection, namely to the sages in the Dandaka forest. But still, the fourteen years should not have been spent this way, at least in the minds of the people.

Similar to how the people in Ayodhya felt at Rama’s banishment, the devoted souls of today feel it is a terrible crime to deny the existence of God. To ascribe higher importance to any path except bhakti, pure devotion, is cheating the innocent people of the world. Therefore the Vaishnava saints, who worship Rama, Vishnu, Krishna, or any other personal form of God, always profusely celebrate the divine mercy. They are not shy in discussing His teachings, His pastimes, and His greatness. To acknowledge His sovereignty over the three worlds, they loudly and regularly chant the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

[Rama's coronation]Due to the influence of Kali Yuga, the present age of quarrel and hypocrisy caused by the darkness of ignorance and the gradual decline of righteousness, even Diwali is celebrated in a secular manner today. Even still, every lamp lit on that auspicious day pays some honor to the original celebration, the one that occurred in Ayodhya, when the rightful king of the world triumphantly returned to His home and to His adoring loving extended family.

In Closing:

Fourteen years a wait too long,

When time for righting the wrong?

 

Rama and Sita to rule over them meant,

Instead to the woods by Kaikeyi were sent.

 

Diwali celebration for their return home,

Lamps and decorations by people were shown.

 

Injustice too in denying God’s existence,

Thus bhakti followers chanting with persistence.

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Dussehra 2014

Posted by krishnasmercy on October 2, 2014

[Remembering Rama]“When remembering Shri Rama, while fighting in a war, while paying obeisance to the guru’s feet – those who on these occasions do not feel a thrill in the body are essentially lifeless, though living in this world, says Tulsi.” (Dohavali, 42)

rāmahi sumirata rana bhirata deta parata guru pāya’ |
tulasī jinhahi na pulaka tanu te jaga jīvata jāya’ ||

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It all came down to Him. Everyone else had done their part. They were valiant. They were not afraid. They took their strength from Him. They knew that in the worst case He would defend them. He was their back up, though He was their leader too. He had been fighting the whole time, but now at the end He was needed to finish the job. On the occasion of Dussehra we celebrate that hero’s march towards the frontlines, where He fulfilled the destiny that was set into motion many years prior.

[Rama with army fighting against Ravana]Imagine this situation. Your favorite player in a particular sport has reached the semifinals of a tournament. You are happy because they are only two rounds away from victory. Sports is your escape from real life. Playing it is fun, but you seem to get even more enjoyment from watching it. Naturally you have your favorites and those whom you don’t like. You invest total emotion in sports and you only get hurt when your favorites lose. Even then, after a few days you forget about it.

With this particular player, there is a lot to defend. He is the best in the world. He is on pace to be labeled the greatest of all time. There is only one problem. There is another player he can’t seem to beat. Otherwise, this other player isn’t as good. They don’t have as much to defend. This rival player has also made the semifinals. You’re afraid of his winning and meeting your favorite in the final. You don’t want that to happen. You would rather your favorite lose in the semifinals than have to play against their rival in the final.

Yet in interviews your favorite player says that he is not afraid. He is actually looking forward to such a match up, because that would allow him revenge. Indeed, this is the mentality of the warrior. In his Dohavali, Goswami Tulsidas says that the warrior is supposed to feel a thrill in their body when they step onto the battlefield. If this thrill is missing, they are essentially lifeless.

[Prabhupada's lotus feet]The same thrill is there in the disciple who pays obeisance to the guru. The bona fide guru is the guide on spiritual matters. The spiritual is more important than the material. We don’t really need a guide for the material. Sure, we can pay lots of money for people to prepare us for the entrance exam for college or medical school, but in the broader perspective we’re just finding different ways to eat, sleep, mate and defend. Worst case we could grab the fruits that fall from trees and take shelter in a cave. We don’t need a guide to figure out how to do this.

The spiritual is more important because it is who we really are. We are spirit at the core, but we can’t see spirit, at least not with the eyes conditioned by a material existence. Therefore the guru provides instruction of the most value. There is only one price to pay: humility. This involves relinquishing our false ego, acknowledging with sincerity that someone else is superior to us.

Just like the warrior on the battlefield, the disciple who humbly submits before the guru’s feet is not afraid to lose. They are not afraid of missing out on material enjoyment because they know that the human being has a higher purpose. They know that the guru can reveal this purpose, and so they feel a thrill when approaching him. They are going after victory in the human life, and that victory will feel much better than the safety of not trying at all and remaining bound to the cycle of birth and death.

The guru gives information about the spiritual in various ways. He instructs that we are not our body, that we are spirit soul at the foundational level. Then he teaches us about the Supreme Spirit. This personality is like us, but different as well. He has a body too, but it is transcendental. His body also takes to actions, but the results are a little different.

[Lord Rama]Dussehra is one instance where we can see the difference. The Supreme Lord came to this earth in His incarnation of Shri Rama many thousands of years ago. In this beautiful form He accepts the role of defender of the innocent. You can be a defender but never be called into action. This could have been the case with Rama, but as mentioned before a warrior feels a thrill when rushing onto the battlefield. As God, Rama too sometimes enjoys a good fight. Conflict is not possible in the spiritual realm, so from time to time the Lord descends to this earth and brings His closest associates with Him to play the antagonists.

The associates are like God, but they are not Him completely. The evil Ravana is originally one of the doorkeepers in the Vaikuntha realm, the spiritual land free of anxieties. Ravana was a tremendous fighter. No one could defeat him. Thinking he was invincible, he once stole Rama’s wife Sita from the forest of Dandaka. Rama and an army of forest-dwellers, who were monkey-like, marched towards Ravana’s home in Lanka to rescue Sita.

Rama’s army fought valiantly, but in the end it was up to Rama to defeat Ravana. As God, Rama does not lose. His fighting ability is unlike anyone else’s. Though looking like a mere mortal, a beautiful one at that, He can fight effortlessly and defeat those who are thought to be invincible. The day that Rama finally killed Ravana on the battlefield has since been celebrated annually as the holiday known as Dussehra.

[Lord Rama]Remembering that incident also brings a thrill to the body. Those who are missing this thrill are essentially lifeless, says Tulsidas. This human life is meant for the ultimate victory of merging into the eternal occupation of devotional service, bhakti-yoga. The warrior is not afraid to lose, and so they feel a thrill on the battlefield. The disciple takes all risk in surrendering before the guru, and so they too feel a thrill. The ultimate thrill comes from remembering Rama in full surrender. That is the real purpose to having a life. Dussehra reminds us of this.

In Closing:

To enter final battle to choose,

Shri Rama never afraid to lose.

 

On battlefield feeling a thrill,

Victory’s sounds soon the air to fill.

 

Thrill when remembering should be,

Like when disciple guru’s feet to see.

 

Dussehra of life’s meaning reminding,

Highest bliss in bhakti-yoga finding.

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Radhashtami 2014

Posted by krishnasmercy on September 1, 2014

[Radha-Krishna]“My dear friend, do You think that this walking personality is a tamala tree? If He is a tamala tree, then how is it possible for Him to walk and be so beautiful? Then, this personality might be a cloud. But if He’s a cloud, then where is the beautiful moon within? Under the circumstances, I think it may be granted that this person is the same enchanting Personality of Godhead by whose flute vibration the three worlds are captivated. He must be the same Mukunda who is standing before Govardhan Hill.” (Shrimati Radharani, The Nectar of Devotion, Ch 30)

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What does it mean to have perfect vision? Is it passing an exam prior to getting your motor vehicle license? Is it being able to read letters on a screen from a distance? Is it being able to identify something that should be known to you? One person in particular has perfect vision, and that perfection does not relate to any of these things. Rather, she sees Krishna everywhere. That Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the definition behind the abstract concept of a supreme controller. Since she has this perfect vision, she is most worshipable and dear to Krishna. On the occasion of Radhashtami we celebrate her appearance in this world.

[eye exam chart]In the inverse situation, the poor vision does not see God anywhere. Perhaps we are in this situation presently. How can we see God when we don’t know what He looks like? Is He in the pillar holding up the building across the street? Is He in the wind that blows through the trees? Is He in the sound of the music that I most prefer to listen to? He is indeed in all of these things, but the person lacking the perfect vision cannot notice this.

Lacking the sight necessary for perceiving Him, such unfortunate souls might descend to the point that they’ll think God does not even exist.

“Everything occurs randomly. There is no order to the universe. People just made up God as a way to deal with death. It’s a primitive way of thinking. We are more advanced now. We can see within the body to identify the disease. We can see deep into outer space to study the universe. We can predict a hurricane several days prior to its arrival. Where is God’s influence in this? Why do you speak of a God when man has done all of this?”

[hurricane on radar]Actually, the ability to apply intelligence already indicates the presence of a higher force. Man has intelligence, there is no doubt about this. While he can do amazing things he can’t figure out why he has taken birth. He can’t figure out why he is compelled to die. Instead, in futility he tries to prolong life indefinitely. This endeavor is always a failure, and so success gets redefined down to living a few extra years from the average.

The periods of the seasons, the rising and setting of the sun, the ability to study the life cycle of the human being and other species, the predictability of disease and human behavior – these things all give an indication of God. But you don’t need to even dig that deep. Simply looking upon a tree can give you the vision of God. This is the case with Shrimati Radharani.

She lives in Vrindavana, which exists both in the earthly realm and in the spiritual sky. We know of her earthly pastimes based on works of literature passed on since many thousands of years. In Vrindavana there is a type of tree called tamala, which has a unique color. It is blue, which is rare for a tree. That color is a perfect match for the bodily hue of the Supreme Personality of Godhead Krishna. A few of those trees are still around in the earthly Vrindavana, so this allows one way of knowing exactly what God’s body looks like.

Shrimati Radharani sees Krishna everywhere in fact. This is due to her consciousness. Never for a moment does she forget Him. And that consciousness is in a loving mood. Not for her own satisfaction, but always looking for Shyama’s pleasure, Radharani constantly thinks of Him. This thinking makes a person more happy than otherwise possible. Real happiness is this thinking, and so Radharani is the ideal example for any human being wishing to know the inner secrets to the creation and their own existence.

[Shrimati Radharani]Radha’s vision is so perfect that simply upon seeing a tamala tree she thinks that Krishna has appeared. She embraces such a tree sometimes, thinking that her beloved has come. Indeed, why should not the tree remind us of Krishna? The pious trees provide fruits which allow us to live on. The impious trees at the very least provide shade and oxygen, which can help us to stay alive.

When Radha and her friends, known as the gopis, see an ordinary tree they also think of Krishna’s flute. The flute is made from wood that comes from the tree, and so they have so much appreciation for that tree. They then extend their appreciation to the flowers that surround the tree. Then the nearby river also gets praises.

Radha sees Krishna in His friends, who give the Lord so much pleasure with their daily play in the pristine forests of Vrindavana. She sees Him in the dark blue cloud that is ready to pour down rain. She sees Him in the Govardhana Hill, which Krishna once famously lifted to save the lives of the residents of Vrindavana. She sees Him in the cream that stands atop the pot of yogurt. She and her friends try to sell this yogurt in the neighboring town of Mathura, but Krishna intercepts them and playfully eats the cream, thus making the yogurt not very appealing for sale.

[gopis intercepted by Krishna]As Radha always sees Krishna, one who sees Radha the proper way will also see the Supreme Lord. He is always together with His pleasure potency expansion, the beloved daughter of Vrishabhanu and Kiritida. To please Radha means to easily get the mercy of Shri Krishna, whose single glance can transform a life previously spent in misery into one full of optimism that renews every day with the knowledge of the chance to serve the beloved pair, Shri Shri Radha and Govinda.

In Closing:

From just the vision of a tree,

Image of the Supreme Lord to see.

 

Tamala of the color blue,

Perfectly matches bodily hue.

 

Of Shri Krishna, to Radha so dear,

She having vision pure and clear.

 

Radhashtami celebrating day of her appearance,

By her favor, for bhakti’s success getting clearance.

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Vyasa Puja 2014

Posted by krishnasmercy on August 17, 2014

[Vyasadeva]“Shri Vyasadeva is the original spiritual preceptor for all men. And all other preceptors are considered to be his representatives. A representative is one who can exactly present the viewpoint of Shri Vyasadeva. Shri Vyasadeva impregnated the message of Bhagavatam unto Shrila Shukadeva Gosvami, and Shri Suta Gosvami heard it from him (Shri Shukadeva Gosvami).” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 1.1.5 Purport)

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Krishna Dvaipayana Vyasa, the island-born one with a dark complexion, is very important in the Vaishnava tradition. One might say that there would be no tradition were it not for him. The sacred Bhagavad-gita exists in written form because of his memory and the writing ability of Shri Ganesha. The original Veda was difficult to understand, so Vyasa divided it into four. This earned him the name Vedavyasa. After writing so many Puranas, or books on ancient history, he still wasn’t satisfied. So through the inspiration of his spiritual master, Narada Muni, he composed the ripened fruit of Vedic literature, the Shrimad Bhagavatam. Being a spiritual master himself, he started a line of tradition that continues to this day. On the occasion of Vyasa Puja we honor both the disciple of Narada Muni and the present person in that line who opened our eyes from the darkness of ignorance.

[Vyasadeva]To spiritual life our eyes are always closed. Without even bringing up religion, we know that we turn a blind eye to the harshest reality of life: death. This is probably a good thing most of the time. Who wants to be crippled by fear of an event whose time of arrival is unknown? If we were always consciously aware that everything we do in this life doesn’t really matter since we die anyway, we likely wouldn’t do anything.

Birth and death are events of the spiritual nature. An animating spark enters within a tiny body at the time of birth. At death, the same spark departs for somewhere else. In the meantime so many attachments form. Since others go through the same cycle, the attachments are to the temporary. When the temporary becomes more important than the permanent, it is fair to say that the eyes are figuratively closed. They don’t see the spirit inside of others. They don’t see impending death.

The spiritual master begins to open our eyes. He tells us things that we’ve never heard before. Coming in the line from Vyasadeva, he is very familiar with the work dictated by him, the Bhagavad-gita. As an opening salvo to get our attention, the speaker in that work says right at the beginning that to lament for the body is not wise. Whether living or dead, the spirit soul is the same. When living it is in front of us and when dead it has gone somewhere else. But exist the soul must. It can never die.

[Bhagavad-gita, 2.20]“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)

Bhagavad-gita As It IsPrior to contact with the spiritual master, no one told us this. We were told the opposite in fact: to make the most out of the temporary body, for everything ends at death. That is why there is so much sadness at another’s passing. Since in fact the soul does not die, what is there to lament? The opportunity for enjoyment and despair will come again for sure.

The spiritual master has the cure for birth and death and subsequent birth. If we’re having an issue with a new piece of technology, we can do some research on the internet to figure out what’s going on. Likely others have had the same issue. If they were kind enough to post the solution to an online forum or something similar, we get a tremendous benefit.

The guru has found the cure to the problem of birth and death. More importantly, they know what to do in between those two events. They have figured out that death is inevitable through their own experiences. The solution they get from their own spiritual guide, with the chain linking back to Vyasadeva. This solution they tried out for themselves and saw wonderful results. The solution worked so well that they no longer feared death as a result. They were confident of the truths they learned since they lived them in practice.

[Shrila Prabhupada]His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada says that some way or another we should be Krishna conscious. Krishna is a name for God that means “all-attractive.” Consciousness of Him stops birth and death. More importantly, it makes the journey through life as enjoyable as it can be. It is the lone enjoyment that transcends bodies. It continues into the next lifetime and beyond.

Prabhupada says that the best way to be conscious of Krishna is to chant His name. The best way to chant and hear His name is to recite the maha-mantra on a regular basis: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. Knowing the importance of the Shrimad Bhagavatam, Prabhupada translates and comments upon that great work in English, to then be translated into so many other languages.

He has found the cure to birth and death. He has found the best way to live: bhakti-yoga. Rather than wait for others to find him and get the solution, he’s created a way for that life-saving information to spread throughout the world. For this work he can never be thanked enough. Vyasa Puja is one day for honoring the guru who transcends time, Bhaktivedanta Swami. But every day the same honor is paid through following his instructions. To be Krishna conscious pleases him, and it solves the issue of life’s direction.

In Closing:

Supreme wisdom to me gave,

From darkness of ignorance to save.

 

Originally from Vyasadeva coming,

So name of Vyasa Puja becoming.

 

The spiritual master to celebrate,

On life’s path no longer to hesitate.

 

Following bhakti-yoga for him to please,

Transitioning to next life with ease.

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Krishna Janmashtami 2014

Posted by krishnasmercy on August 16, 2014

[Krishna's birthday]“When Krishna grew up a little more, He began to turn Himself backside up; He did not merely lie down on His back. And another function was observed by Yashoda and Nanda Maharaja: Krishna’s first birthday. They arranged for Krishna’s birthday ceremony, which is still observed by all followers of the Vedic principles.” (Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 1, Ch 7)

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“This day in history” is a line that appears more frequently as more years pass that allow for the recorded history to increase. In a professional sport the particular day can be the anniversary of a championship or a noteworthy achievement by an athlete. In our personal lives, the day in history could relate to a wedding, the first meeting with our significant other, or when we first entered this world. All of these are important to the people involved, but one day in particular is important to every single living entity. That is because on this day the Supreme Lord, the origin of everything living and nonliving, came within the vision of two splendid people for the first time. That occasion has since been celebrated each year as Janmashtami.

Isn’t that a sectarian holiday? Isn’t it only significant for the Hindus?

[sun shining in the sky]Actually, there can be no such thing as a “Hindu” God. The personality referenced has a position rooted in scientific understanding. There is no such thing as a Spanish sun or a Russian sun. The sun shining in the sky in a different country is the same one I see above me right now. I may call it something different, but this doesn’t mean that the sun is different. It is a singular object. Some people may not even know what it is; they may only know of it indirectly, through the sunshine entering their room through the windows. Others may even know less of it, seeing just an overcast sky, which is still illuminated by the sun, but whose covering is thicker.

So God is the same for everyone. Janmashtami celebrates His appearance on earth in His original form of Krishna.

Why do we say that this is the original? How can we proclaim this with ontological certitude? How can we make such an assertion without doubts?

Krishna is a Sanskrit word that means “all-attractive.” So how can that word not apply to God in His original form? We accept the importance of Janmashtami on the authority of the Vedas. Anyone can write anything in a book and pass it on to future generations, but we can test the claims through further study. By hearing more about Krishna, we see that He indeed cannot be anyone else except God.

[Krishna appearing in jail cell]The people seeing Him witnessed firsthand His divine nature. When Krishna appeared as an infant to mother Devaki and her husband Vasudeva, He showed them His majestic form of Narayana, which has four hands and is opulently adorned. This gave the parents the proof necessary for knowing that their son was God Himself. When transformed back into His childhood form, Krishna did so many amazing things. He thwarted all the attacks of the evil King Kamsa. He protected the residents of Gokula. Most importantly, He gave everyone transcendental bliss. Even His enemies achieved salvation, for they thought of Him at the time of death.

“Krishna is so merciful that because the demon Putana came to offer her breast-milk to Him, He fulfilled her desire and accepted her activity as motherly. But to stop her from further nefarious activities, He immediately killed her. And because the demon was killed by Krishna, she got liberation.” (Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 1, Ch 6)

[Krishna on Putana]So these things can only happen with God. It would make sense to celebrate the day that He first entered our lives. Actually, we are never apart from Him. These hands and legs of mine don’t identify me. Through an accident, I can quickly lose the use of them. If I sleep on the wrong side during the night, I might wake up with a dead arm, where I don’t have any feeling in it. I still remain who I am, though. The “I” here refers to something besides the body. That which transcends the shifts of matter is spirit. My true identity is spirit.

Accompanying the travels of the individual spirit is the Supreme Spirit. He is always with me, though I can’t see Him. He must be there; otherwise the laws of nature wouldn’t operate. He gives sanction to all results. When He doesn’t sanction something, it can’t happen. That’s why actions don’t always yield the same results. I can practice tennis from today until I am ninety years old, but this is no guarantee for making me the best player in the world. The same goes for acquiring money or finding an attractive spouse.

When Krishna appears before us, it is the visual manifestation of the same Supreme Spirit who always accompanies us. The first time seeing His personal form is like the first time recognizing Him. And the first time recognizing Him is the beginning to endless bliss known only to genuine spiritual life. Therefore it would make sense to celebrate this day.

[Krishna's first birthday]In order to bring together all the fortunate souls who have seen the beautiful vision of Krishna, there is the celebration of Janmashtami. This was inaugurated in the earthly realm by the foster parents Yashoda and Nanda. When their bundle of joy turned one year old, they held a grand ceremony in His honor. This celebrated the moment He first entered their lives. They were pure of heart, so they deserved God’s intimate association. Though appearing as an innocent child who required protection, it was actually Krishna who protected everyone. He was the center of the universe in the small village of Vrindavana.

That same Vrindavana exists in smaller replica forms throughout the world today due to the efforts of Vaishnavas, devotees of the Supreme Lord’s personal form. And so on Janmashtami the Vaishnavas unite to remember the day that the beautiful Lord first entered their lives, the moment that they realized that the meaning to this journey from boyhood to youth to old age is for always remembering that darling of Vrindavana, whose lotus feet forever remain the supreme shelter for all.

In Closing:

Never forget the day He came,

That darling going by Krishna the name.

 

Finally the bigger picture to see,

No more in loss for direction to be.

 

In Gokula parents first celebrated,

Janmashtami occasion thus inaugurated.

 

Personal vision for eyes most wonderful sight,

Occasion for Vaishnavas of the world to unite.

www.krishnasmercy.org

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