Krishna's Mercy

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Kissing The Ring

Posted by krishnasmercy on May 16, 2015

[Sita and Rama]“Anyone who loves Sita and Rama more than himself, Tulsi would gladly use the skin from his own body to make their shoes.” (Dohavali, 59)

āpu āpane teṁ adhika jehi priya sītārāma |
tehi ke paga kī pānahī tulasī tanu ko cāma ||

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Anyone aspiring to advance in a particular field sees that there are already people at the top. The successful provide an example for those wishing to reach the same height. There is valuable insight to be gained from such people, and therefore it is not surprising to see meetings between higher and lower. The concept of “kissing the ring” is paying respect to a higher personality in order to get their blessings. In the realm of bhakti literature, no one is higher than Goswami Tulsidas. And through this verse from the Dohavali he reveals that he is willing to become someone’s servant if they surpass him in the respective field.

Bhakti is love and devotion. It is superior to jnana, vairagya, dhyana, ashtanga and other kinds of transcendentalism coming from the Vedic tradition, the oldest in the world. Bhakti is often paired with the term yoga; the love and devotion are meant to be used in connecting with the Divine. The Divine is already all around us. Everything rests upon Him, like pearls strung on a thread. His influence is woven through the universe, in both the large and the small.

mattaḥ parataraṁ nānyat
kiñcid asti dhanañjaya
mayi sarvam idaṁ protaṁ
sūtre maṇi-gaṇā iva

“O conqueror of wealth [Arjuna], there is no Truth superior to Me. Everything rests upon Me, as pearls are strung on a thread.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.7)

Vairagya is renunciation. It is a means for achieving the end of devotion to God. Dhyana is concentration and ashtanga is the eight-fold system of mysticism commonly known today by the term “yoga.” Bhakti is always superior to the means because the means doesn’t necessarily bring the proper understanding. The Bhagavad-gita, the most famous Vedic text and the one cited as authority by anyone who knows the spirit soul in truth, says that the most confidential knowledge is the truth that Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The person who knows this knows everything needed to be known.

iti guhyatamaṁ śāstram
idam uktaṁ mayānagha
etad buddhvā buddhimān syāt
kṛta-kṛtyaś ca bhārata

“This is the most confidential part of the Vedic scriptures, O sinless one, and it is disclosed now by Me. Whoever understands this will become wise, and his endeavors will know perfection.” (Lord Krishna, Bg. 15.20)

[Krishna speaking to Arjuna]This makes sense if we think about it. Karma is fruitive action. Action that brings results, either good or bad – that is karma. Our past karma determined our present circumstances. The travel through time, with the changing of bodies, takes place for the spirit soul, which is thus the identifying factor at the individual level. The exact manner in which the transport to the next body takes place is determined by the consciousness at the time of death. The reason the knowledge of Krishna is the most important is because consciousness of Him brings the best destination in the afterlife.

anta-kāle ca mām eva
smaran muktvā kalevaram
yaḥ prayāti sa mad-bhāvaṁ
yāti nāsty atra saṁśayaḥ

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

Renunciation doesn’t automatically bring this consciousness. I can be totally detached from the world, living in a remote cave and barely eating anything. I can be free of the demands of sex life in marriage, of society’s desire for my financial advancement, of the pressures to run a large state. But in the mind I still might have desires.

Similarly, I could be the wisest person, who knows how to solve complex math equations, who can figure out a way to cheat anyone with persuasive words. But none of these things will matter at the time of death. It is the consciousness which counts. You can be totally wrong about everything. You could have aligned yourself with the wrong political party your whole life. You could have thought incorrectly about good people through honest mistakes. Still, if you are conscious of Krishna, the Supreme Lord, and ready to serve Him in thought, word and deed, you have succeeded in life.

For such a person, Goswami Tulsidas is ready to give up his skin to be used as shoes. Those shoes would then adorn that person, who is a devotee of Sita and Rama. Krishna is the Absolute Truth, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He expands into Shri Ramachandra, the prince of the Raghu dynasty. Ramachandra’s eternal consort is Sita Devi, and this is the couple that Tulsidas worships.

[Sita and Rama]That worship is so pure that Tulsidas only seeks the pleasure of Sita and Rama. When he sees someone else worshiping them in the same way, he thinks that person is superior to him. This is the poet’s genuine humility. Rather than ask anyone to kiss his ring, he is willing to become their shoes. He is ready to serve them. Indeed, his beautiful works of literature are service to all of mankind, showing to them the knowledge, renunciation and self-control to help bring them to the bhakti platform, which is the height of an existence.

In Closing:

Since in his works God’s glories to sing,

Tulsi of high stature, benefit to kiss his ring.

 

But when others in same devotion seeing,

Ready to make their shoes from his skin freeing.

 

Part of his humility real,

Sita and Rama not for only one to steal.

 

Let all in bliss of devotion spend,

All paths meant in bhakti to end.

www.krishnasmercy.org

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Learning From The Non-Devotees

Posted by krishnasmercy on May 11, 2015

[Krishna's lotus feet]“In the Hari-bhakti-sudhodaya there is a conversation between Prahlada Maharaja and his father, Hiranyakashipu, in which Hiranyakashipu addresses Prahlada in this way: ‘My dear son, association is very important. It acts just like a crystal-stone which will reflect anything which is put before it.’ Similarly, if we associate with the flowerlike devotees of the Lord, and if our hearts are crystal clear, then certainly the same action will be there.” (The Nectar of Devotion, 12)

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“I’ve heard quite often of the need to maintain the association of devotees. It is described as ‘sadhu-sanga’ or ‘sat-sanga.’ The ‘asat’ is non-permanent, like the material nature. Those who are ‘asat’ are interested in the temporary, so they are not aspiring transcendentalists. But doesn’t this restriction seem a little harsh? Aren’t there things we can learn from every person, regardless of their interest or lack thereof in spiritual life?”

The aspiring transcendentalist in Vedic philosophy is given many rules and guidelines to follow. These are necessary since the default condition is to be immersed in maya, which is illusion. There is the law of science which states that a body at rest will stay at rest. Inertia is a powerful force, so if you’re walking for quite a while, it’s easier to continue walking; stopping is more difficult. Similarly, if you’ve been in ignorance for so long, it’s the condition you’re more accustomed to. Thus when taking up something totally new like spiritual life, you need guidelines to help you stay on course.

One of those guidelines is to avoid the association of “asat.” These are the people who have no interest in making spiritual advancement. The astute observer will notice a problem right away. Due to the nature of the material world, practically everyone living in it is in the asat consciousness. It’s like everyone is stuck on the couch. When a person decides to try spiritual life in earnest, not out of fear but out of a desire to make the most out of their existence, then it is very rare.

bahūnāṁ janmanām ante
jñānavān māṁ prapadyate
vāsudevaḥ sarvam iti
sa mahātmā su-durlabhaḥ

“After many births and deaths, he who is actually in knowledge surrenders unto Me, knowing Me to be the cause of all causes and all that is. Such a great soul is very rare.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.19)

If you’re one of the rare few to get up off the couch, it means that pretty much everyone else is in a different mindset. How are you supposed to avoid them, then? Isn’t this like asking the spiritualist to give up all human interaction? Isn’t it like asking them to live in a remote cave?

To try spiritual life as a discipline is to attempt to assimilate the highest wisdom that has ever existed. You’re basically learning things throughout the process. The recommendation to avoid the association of asat is in place because there is nothing to learn from asat. The reason there is nothing to learn is because the person who is asat thinks that man can become God.

“Is this really true? I don’t hear people speaking this way?”

Ishvara is the Sanskrit term that corresponds to the concept of God. Ishvara means “supreme controller.” If a person doesn’t know that a supreme controller exists, naturally they will think that the post is up for grabs. Even if they supposedly believe in God, if they are not conscious of Him all the time, then the default mentality is the same as the person who doesn’t believe. This is the logical explanation for why a person would continue to accumulate, for why they would keep jumping from activity to activity in sense gratification.

The spiritualist sincere in their desire to understand the five important topics of the Gita has nothing to learn from the non-devoted. The sincere person knows that Ishvara, the living entities, the material nature, time and karma are more important to study. They know that these topics cover everything about an existence. These topics are more important than what kind of house someone owns, how many children a person has, where they go on vacation, or what they eat for dinner.

[Hanuman]The more advancement a person makes on this path, the clearer their understanding of Ishvara becomes. They come in contact with “sat” personalities like Shri Hanuman. In the material realm he could do anything. The person with an “asat” consciousness has a lot to appreciate in Hanuman. They see that the famous god of the Vedic tradition is very powerful. He can lift mountains without a problem. Hanuman can leap over vast oceans and change his shape at will. He speaks extemporaneously in the most difficult language, Sanskrit. He does this effortlessly and respecting the three Vedas at the same time.

“One cannot speak this way without having been well-trained in the Rig Veda, memorized the Yajur Veda, and thoroughly understood the Sama Veda.” (Lord Rama speaking to Lakshmana about Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Kishkindha Kand, 3.28)

Though possessing the eight perfections of mystic yoga and thus able to enjoy materially to any level, Hanuman is completely “sat.” He knows that Ishvara is a person, an individual. He knows that Ishvara expands Himself into different personal forms for the pleasure of the devoted. Hanuman worships Ishvara as Rama. In fact, everything Hanuman does is for Rama.

[Rama with Hanuman]A person like Hanuman is ideal for association. He has everything, but he is not so foolish to think that he has become God. The “asat” can never teach us about the true meaning of life. They can reinforce the truths we learn in spiritual life, about the inferior standing of the material energy and how true happiness in life comes from devotional service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. They can remind us that devotion is the proper choice, but they can never accurately tell us who is the supreme controller.

In Closing:

If for spiritual wisdom to yearn,

From the non-devoted nothing to learn.

 

Into depths of ignorance they sink,

Since possible to be equal to God they think.

 

Association of Hanuman choose,

Who every ability for God to use.

 

As the Supreme and His wife knowing,

Secrets of life to others bestowing.

www.krishnasmercy.org

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Talking About Demons

Posted by krishnasmercy on April 30, 2015

[Rama fighting Ravana]“Human life is distinguished from animal life due to its heavy responsibilities. Those who are cognizant of these responsibilities and who work in that spirit are called suras (godly persons), and those who are neglectful of these responsibilities or who have no information of them are called asuras (demons). Throughout the universe there are only these two types of human being.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shri Ishopanishad, 3 Purport)

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Friend-One: How would you describe Ravana, the famous villain of the Ramayana?

Friend-Two: He is a ruthless person who thinks only of satisfying his senses. Lust tells him where to go instead of the other way around.

F1: Right, but what kind of species?

F2: The Sanskrit word is Rakshasa. They are human-like. They don’t look all that different from normal people. The notable distinction is that they like to eat human flesh. You can say “cannibal,” but that doesn’t tell the whole story. They are cannibals by choice, and that choice is made under the spell of the mode of darkness, i.e. complete ignorance.

F1: I’m trying my best to get you to say one word and you’re not complying. Isn’t Ravana commonly described as a demon?

F2: Yes, of course. The same goes for Hiranyakashipu, though technically he’s a Daitya instead of a Rakshasa.

F1: And Ravana’s associates are demons too, like Maricha, Khara, Dushana and Indrajit.

[Ravana]F2: Yes, that is obvious. They are bad folks. Why are you asking?

F1: Just indulge me for a little bit. And according to the acharyas of the Vedic tradition, the Ramayana describes real events. Though they seem unbelievable to us, the events actually unfolded in real life.

F2: Yeah, there’s no metaphor or personification going on. You have that in some places in Vedic literature, but there’s never an attempt to deceive. Moreover, the events of the Ramayana are described in many places, by many people. So it would have to be a great conspiracy in order for everyone to be making the same stuff up.

F1: Alright, so here’s my real question. By using terms like “gods” and “demons,” isn’t that making Vedic literature a tough sell for the common man, who will immediately equate these terms with mythology?

F2: Yes, even people who inherit the culture from their parents fall victim to this mindset.

F1: I mean I can’t tell you how many times I hear people saying that you need to look at the symbolism of all this stuff. I’ve even read people saying that the sages of ancient times couldn’t reveal the truths of spiritual life openly. So they instead decided to present it through story.

[Valmiki writing]F2: That’s ridiculous from the mere fact that a brahmana, one of the priestly order, is by nature honest. They don’t lie. There is some validity to the idea of symbolism, as the Supreme Lord descends to this earth to teach many valuable lessons that are otherwise difficult to understand. So the factual events are automatically symbolic at the same time.

F1: As soon as someone hears “demons” they’re going to think we’re talking about a fantasy role playing game, Harry Potter, a comic book or something of the like.

F2: Yeah. Listen, that is simply the shortcoming in translating these works into a different language. You pick the best word you can. Fortunately, we still have the original Sanskrit to consult. Do you know the Sanskrit word for “demon”?

F1: Is it “rakshasa”?

F2: Well, it can be, but “rakshasa” is more of a subtype. The word is “asura.” If you know a little bit of Sanskrit, you immediately recognize that this word is a negation of another word.

F1: That’s because of the “a” prefix, right?

F2: Yeah. The base word is “sura.” So sura is a god and asura is a demon. This is the conventional translation into English. This is what the translators have settled on, but obviously there is something lost in translation.

F1: So a sura is not really a god?

F2: It’s someone who is godly. We think of a god as someone who has special powers and lives in the heavenly region. Those conditions can certainly exist in a sura, but they don’t have to. The defining characteristic is allegiance with the Supreme God. In the Vedic tradition the Supreme is known through names like Vishnu, Krishna, Rama and others which address His personal nature.

F1: Would it be safe to say, then, that a sura is basically a “good guy”?

F2: Right. If you’re doing the good and evil comparison, the sura is good and the asura is bad. I find it very interesting that “asura” translates to demon. That tells a lot. Someone who is against God is a bad guy, plain and simple. They don’t have to have ten heads, the ability to change shapes at will, or fire coming out of their mouths. They can be an ordinary looking person, but since they are against god, they are an asura.

F1: I see. Why am I thinking of two sisters here, Diti and Aditi? Don’t they have significance to this discussion?

[Prahlada]F2: Diti is the mother of the asuras and Aditi the suras. The direct descendants from Diti thus were known as Daityas. This references the specific races, suras and asuras, but the qualities can be found in anyone. For instance, Prahlada was born in a Daitya family but had the qualities of a sura.

F1: This is interesting stuff.

F2: You should also know that the amazing abilities often exhibited by the asuras is no accident. Being truly godless actually means something. We’re not talking about someone who just hasn’t made up their mind yet. We’re talking about those who are openly against any idea of a supreme controller. Their next move is to work themselves up to that post, to become the most feared in the world. Everyone has free will to some degree, so the asuras are able to amass power.

F1: Right, because they desire it. Sort of like the guy who bulks up by going to the gym and eating a lot of protein.

F2: And so the asura becomes what we know as the trademark demon because of how they use those powers. They oppress the innocent. They steal. They kill innocent life. These things are not unbelievable. Though we don’t see people with ten heads and an ability to change shapes today, there are still plenty of Ravanas around. “Demon” is probably not the best word to use for asura. “Bad guy” would be better.

F1: And there are certainly plenty of “bad guys” in this world.

[Lord Rama]F2: The suras serve the ultimate good guy, the Supreme Lord. When asked, He comes to their side for protection. All souls are His children, so by default He is neutral. Especially when it comes to material advancement, He does not pick favorites. For service to Him and finding happiness that transcends birth and death, He breaks from His neutrality and takes on the role of friend [Bhagavad-gita, 9.29].

In Closing:

Translators a word to choose,

For asura demon is used.

 

Not giving meaning complete,

Asura with bad qualities replete.

 

At core God going against,

Towards sinful path bent.

 

Found today, needing not ten heads,

Suras everywhere too, serving God instead.

www.krishnasmercy.org

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Talking About God Seeing You As An Equal

Posted by krishnasmercy on April 29, 2015

[Lord Krishna]“I envy no one, nor am I partial to anyone. I am equal to all. But whoever renders service unto Me in devotion is a friend, is in Me, and I am also a friend to him.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.29)

samo ‘haṁ sarva-bhūteṣu
na me dveṣyo ‘sti na priyaḥ
ye bhajanti tu māṁ bhaktyā
mayi te teṣu cāpy aham

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Friend-One: One of the nice verses from the Bhagavad-gita is the one that says that the wise person sees the elephant, the cow, the dog and the dog-eater as being the same.

Friend-Two: Don’t forget the learned and gentle brahmana. The verse goes from high to low. The brahmana sees Brahman, the spiritual identity of all living things. The dog-eater is so low that they’ll eat an animal that the civilized society would never dream of touching.

F1: And yet the humble soul, by virtue of true knowledge, sees them both as equal.

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)

F2: It’s a spiritual vision. It’s fully inclusive. So many movements today are trying to eliminate inequality in just one area. Men against women.

F1: Black against white, Christian against Jew – and the list goes on. That’s why I like this verse so much. Everyone should learn it, no matter their religious persuasion or their level of interest in spiritual life.

[tiger]F2: I certainly agree with you. It should be noted, however, that the treatment isn’t necessarily equal. You’re not going to go up to a tiger and pet it. That would be silly. The idea is that you know the tiger is a soul at the core and that it is going through the cycle of spiritual evolution. It still has its behaviors to which human beings should remain alert.

F1: Yeah, that’s important to mention. Here’s a seemingly obvious question. If the humble sage sees everyone like this, God would as well, no?

F2: Of course.

F1: I mean He would have to see even better. He knows past, present and future. He knows where that tiger was in the previous life. He knows what it will be going forward. So He has even more reason to apply the equal vision.

F2: I think I can guess your next question. If God knows all of this, how can He allow suffering?

F1: That wouldn’t be my question, but I could see people raising objections. For instance, if He knows that monkeys are souls at the core, why does He allow them to act like monkeys? I know that when He comes to earth He gives them special treatment. As Shri Rama, He befriended monkeys in Kishkindha.

[Rama with the Vanaras]F2: Yeah. He treated them like equals. Though they were uncivilized and roaming from tree branch to tree branch, Rama did not mind. Rama stayed under the trees, and so there was an immediate violation of etiquette. Rama did not care; He saw only the love they had for Him.

F1: Okay, so this is a more interesting topic for me. He treated the Vanaras, who were monkey-like, on an equal level. The idea is that God can become your friend, no matter which species you live in, right?

F2: Yes. Class, caste, gender, nationality, species and the like don’t matter to Him. He is the supreme father to everyone.

F1: Here is a potential issue to address. Rama is all-knowing. He is the Supreme Lord appearing in a personal form on earth, taking the guise of a warrior prince. He is antaryami, which means that He witnesses everything going on. Doesn’t it say in the Ramayana that the Vanaras were actually demigods who descended to help Rama?

F2: Yes. Whenever the Supreme Lord appears, He brings His close associates with Him. It’s like a travelling theater troupe. There is a large cast of characters, and they fulfill their roles very well.

F1: That’s exactly what I wanted to hear. So I could see someone objecting to giving equal treatment to others on this basis. They’ll say that Rama made friends with the monkeys only because He knew they were demigods. He gave special mercy to the boatman named Kevata only because He knew the real situation.

[Rama with the boatman]F2: The basis of this objection is that ordinary monkeys are not special and neither are people from lower castes? Tribal people have no good qualities, so why should we give them respect?

F1: Yeah, that’s pretty much it. The Vanaras were not ordinary. The people living in the forests that loved Rama were also unique. You won’t find people like that today. Therefore we shouldn’t automatically give people the benefit of the doubt. Class distinctions are necessary because the people in the lower groups are making their way through the chain of evolution. If they play their cards right, in the next life they will be in a higher group.

F2: The higher subsequent birth may be true. There is no denying that. You will find bad apples amongst all groups of people. We’re not saying that every monkey has the qualities of Hanuman. Every boatman is not like Kevata and every vulture is not like Jatayu. That’s not what we’re saying. You’re missing a key element here.

F1: What is that?

F2: We are not antaryami.

F1: What do you mean?

F2: We don’t know who is divine and who isn’t. We don’t know who has descended to earth in what species. That person who is from a meat-eating background but is now chanting the holy names – they might be an eternally liberated soul. That cow we see grazing on the pasture, it might have descended from the heavenly region.

F1: I see. Rama knows these things, but we don’t. He sees the devotion inside of people, whereas we can’t necessarily. We make mistakes.

[Rama with Hanuman]F2: We have imperfect senses. We are easily illusioned and we have a tendency to cheat. That’s why the instruction of the Bhagavad-gita is given to us. We’re supposed to learn that everyone is a spirit soul with the potential to love God in the same way that His closest associates do. Species, gender and class are not immediate disqualifications. And neither do they automatically bring entry into the eternal engagement that is devotional service. Only desire can bring that, and that desire can be found in any person.

In Closing:

Rama as antaryami to see,

Knows how monkey divine can be.

 

This vision we certainly lack,

Since by illusion under attack.

 

Looking with an intelligent eye,

Benefit of the doubt to apply.

 

Variety and species so many,

Devotion possible in them any.

www.krishnasmercy.org

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The Person To Whom We Owe Everything

Posted by krishnasmercy on April 22, 2015

[Lord Krishna]“Indeed, You alone know Yourself by Your own potencies, O origin of all, Lord of all beings, God of gods, O Supreme Person, Lord of the universe!” (Arjuna, Bhagavad-gita, 10.15)

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svayam evātmanātmānaṁ
vettha tvaṁ puruṣottama
bhūta-bhāvana bhūteśa
deva-deva jagat-pate

  • Who is God?
  • Does He exist?
  • Is He not a creation of the less intelligent who constantly look for meaning to life?
  • Can a person study science and still believe in God?
  • Is there a way to define Him without touching on spiritual traditions?
  • Is there a way to know Him without fearing Him?

In the Shrimad Bhagavatam it is said that as many waves as there are in the ocean, that is how many incarnations of the Supreme Lord appear on earth. As each incarnation represents God, there are many ways to know Him.

avatārā hy asaṅkhyeyā
hareḥ sattva-nidher dvijāḥ
yathāvidāsinaḥ kulyāḥ
sarasaḥ syuḥ sahasraśaḥ

“O brahmanas, the incarnations of the Lord are innumerable, like rivulets flowing from inexhaustible sources of water.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 1.3.26)

[Krishna's incarnations]The incarnations arrive and do amazing things. Sometimes they lift the entire earth. Sometimes they lift up a mighty mountain to use as an umbrella. Sometimes they get others to help them build a bridge made of floating stones. Sometimes they deliver the most confidential knowledge to a worthy recipient. The activities of the innumerable expansions of the Supreme Lord continue to expand His glories, and thus simultaneously give more points of reference for understanding Him.

Without even touching on the incarnations we can understand the Supreme Lord. Think of all that we have. We have sunlight, wind, earth, fire and food. We have water and shelter. We have parents and grandparents. Some of us have siblings and cousins. Some of us have advanced degrees, and many of us have jobs.

Everything that we have is attributed to God. This seems rather obvious, and not very significant. I have money, but so do other people. I have a spouse, but so many others have the same. Why should any attention be given to God, then? Shouldn’t He be acknowledged for something meaningful and rare?

In fact, none of these things would exist without His sanction. He is the original giver. Science studies only the laws of nature that already exist. The study of the properties of the earth and outer space touch on things which were already created. There is no evidence pointing to chemicals randomly colliding and creating all of these properties, since nothing like that happens now. A sun cannot be created in a laboratory. Neither can a mound of earth that contains all the seeds necessary for vegetation.

If we are living right now, we have something to be thankful for. Everything else can be bad. We can be in terrible distress. We can be suffering from disease, either mental or physical. We can be longing for the association of a loved one who has since passed on. Nevertheless, there is the continued existence, which is made possible by the Supreme Controller.

ahaṁ sarvasya prabhavo
mattaḥ sarvaṁ pravartate
iti matvā bhajante māṁ
budhā bhāva-samanvitāḥ

“I am the source of all spiritual and material worlds. Everything emanates from Me. The wise who know this perfectly engage in My devotional service and worship Me with all their hearts.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 10.8)

[Lord Krishna]We know that so many people don’t acknowledge God in this way. They take His creation and everything in it for granted. They exploit the laws of nature for their own sense gratification. When they get in trouble, they curse at God; but otherwise they don’t think of Him. What use does thanking Him serve, then?

To know the Supreme is to know the self. There is an inherent relationship between the two, since both are of the same defining quality. Spirit is everlasting, immutable, undying and primeval. It can never be slain. When someone dies, it is simply the place-shifting of the soul. The spiritual spark animating the previously living body has moved elsewhere. The body remains, but it is dull and lifeless without the soul.

God is the Supreme Soul, the storehouse of the spiritual energy. The individuals souls are like sparks coming from Him. To know the Supreme Soul is to know the individual soul as well. Knowing the individual soul means knowing your true identity. When you know who you really are, you are better equipped for the difficult journey through life.

That journey is difficult because it must end in death. There will come a time where everything is left behind. The soul moves on, and so the wise person understands that their identity as spirit means that there is a lasting relationship that can be formed. That bond is with the Supreme Soul. The link can be created with knowledge, so understanding that God is the person to whom we owe everything is a great first step.

[praying]A simple way to repay what we owe is to acknowledge on a regular basis. This acknowledgement can be done through a simple prayer or thank you. It can be done blissfully through addressing God in names that really speak to His kind nature. These names are conveniently found in the maha-mantra: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. The fortunate soul who chants these names automatically pays respect to the origin of everything, whose mercy can bring relief from the suffering of the material existence.

In Closing:

Incarnations many of them so,

But other ways for God to know.

 

Everything in this world came,

From Him having Krishna the name.

 

Acknowledge for intelligence to rise,

Way to eternal relationship the prize.

 

Say thank you or His names with affection,

Get relief from misery and attain life’s perfection.

www.krishnasmercy.org

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For Rama’s Benefit

Posted by krishnasmercy on April 16, 2015

[Rama's lotus feet]“Tulsidasji’s hope is to become weak without devotion to Rama and to become strong with devotion to Rama. O Raghuvira, when will you make Tulsi like this, in the way of the fish and the water?” (Dohavali, 57)

tulasīdāsajīkī abhilā।sā rāma prema binu dūbaro rāma premahīṃ pīna |
raghubara kabahu’ka karahuge tulasihi jyoṃ jala mīna ||

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At the highest level, bhakti-yoga is practiced entirely for the benefit of someone else. The name “yoga” is there. “Bhakti” is also present, and so the combination automatically implies some type of self-improvement. We do yoga to fix problems with our body and mind. Bhakti is one way to practice yoga, so obviously the system must exist to help the individual who is struggling. The Bhagavad-gita confirms that all living entities are struggling in the material world. The trouble comes from the five senses, with the mind making the sixth.

mamaivāṁśo jīva-loke
jīva-bhūtaḥ sanātanaḥ
manaḥ-ṣaṣṭhānīndriyāṇi
prakṛti-sthāni karṣati

“The living entities in this conditioned world are My eternal, fragmental parts. Due to conditioned life, they are struggling very hard with the six senses, which include the mind.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 15.7)

[the universe]The same verse says that the living entities are the eternal fragments of God. This first part is necessary for understanding the second. The struggle is not natural. If we are part and parcel of God, children to Him in a sense, we should not have any trouble. Our father is the supreme controller. Time operates at His direction. The inconceivably vast and complex material nature, which scientists have studied for centuries and still only understood just a small fraction of, is the product of the brain of the Supreme Lord; thus making Him the smartest person in the world.

The survival instinct finds ways to avoid misery in this material existence. Yet without knowledge of the relationship to God, there is no such chance for permanent success. Even if physically there are no threats at the present moment, the mind is always there to give trouble. The two aspects causing this trouble are hankering and lamenting. One second we want something. If we don’t have it, we lament. If we are still unhappy after getting it, we start to hanker after something else. The cycle thus continues.

Bhakti-yoga helps to bring an end to the struggle. It is a way of linking the individual with the Supreme. The means is love and devotion. The other means are mental speculation, meditation and breathing, and work done with detachment. In comparison, love and devotion stand out. This is because they can include any of the other methods. You can be working and still be in devotion. Think of the mother who tirelessly looks after the family affairs out of love. She is constantly engaged in work, but she is not attached.

[digital weight scale]You can similarly be working your brain and be devoted. The Supreme Lord is described as adhokshaja and amita. The first means that His qualities cannot be measured by any blunt instruments. If you put Him on a scale, you won’t get an accurate reading of His weight. There is no way to measure infinity. God can become lighter than the lightest and heavier than the heaviest whenever He chooses. Amita means that His features are inexhaustible. Time and space alone prove this. No one knows the beginning of time or when it will end. The same goes for space.

You can surely meditate and be in devotion. Think of the famous prince named Bharata, the son of Queen Kaikeyi. He spent fourteen years living in a tiny hut, meditating on a pair of sandals the entire time. This was not done out of weakness. He was not down on life with nowhere else to turn. He was the ruling king at the time, but he did not like how that ascension took place. So at the consent of the object of meditation, he took to the renounced life.

[Bharata meditating on Rama's sandals]Those sandals belonged to Shri Rama, who is addressed in this doha from Goswami Tulsidas. Rama is Bharata’s elder brother, the rightful heir to the throne in Ayodhya during the time of King Dasharatha. Tulsidas makes a request. That is quite natural to do, as the Supreme Lord can fulfill any desire. Does Tulsidas ask for money? Does he ask for dedication to friends and family? Does he want to be a good citizen?

He asks to be like the fish with the water. Tulsidas wants it so that when he has love for Rama he becomes stronger. And when he doesn’t have this love, he becomes weaker. This is not a typical request. The word used is “abhilasa,” which means an ambition or aspiration. Tulsidas knows how difficult it is to reach the position mentioned. The person situated there is in pure devotion. They have no other desires.

This ambition is not for increasing the fame of Tulsidas. The situation is desired because it is most pleasing to Rama. To say that we love someone is to give them a nice compliment. To say that we would die without their association is nicer. The height is to say that without their association we would be like the fish outside of the water. Shri Lakshmana, another younger brother of Rama’s, voiced this sentiment during Rama’s time.

“O Rama, You should know that just as fish cannot survive when taken out of water, neither Sita nor I can live without You for even a moment.” (Lakshmana speaking to Lord Rama, Valmiki Ramayana, Ayodhya Kand, 53.31)

[Lord Rama]In essence, we could say that Tulsidas hopes to reach a situation that would pay the highest honor to the Supreme Lord Rama. In his humility he does not realize that the desire has already been fulfilled. Bhakti-yoga is unique in that the desire itself will bring success. The same is not true in jnana, yoga, or karma. No one will mistake the life of the poet for anything besides love and devotion to Rama. And so in true selflessness, the person in pure bhakti-yoga always gets what they want: increased honor for their beloved.

In Closing:

With unflinching devotion not to cease,

Actually honor of Supreme Lord to increase.

 

Tulsi not wanting for personal gain,

Bhakti to please God of Rama the name.

 

Like comfort of fish in safe water growing,

And going outside impending death sowing.

 

Tulsidas this situation already accepted,

By his words Rama’s fame further projected.

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Why To Extend Faith

Posted by krishnasmercy on April 11, 2015

[Hanuman with Rama and Lakshmana]“O Tulsi, your personal interest is met by Rama and your supreme interest by Raghuvira, who has valiant warriors like Lakshmana and the son of the wind serving Him.” (Dohavali, 55)

tulasī svāratha rāma hita paramāratha raghubīra |
sevaka jāke lakhana se pavanapūta ranadhīra ||

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Here Goswami Tulsidas provides further justification for extending full faith and trust to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Shri Rama. It is one thing to have faith in someone to deliver a particular thing. I have faith in the newsperson on television to accurately report what is going on in other nations. I trust the weatherman to do his best to predict the weather for the next few days. We put trust in so many people, for meeting different things. Tulsidas leaves no doubt that with Rama there should be full surrender. Both the personal interest and the interest in the afterlife are met in Him, who is a heroic warrior served by the most valiant warriors this world has ever seen.

[are we there yet?]Svartha is personal interest. As soon as we emerge from the womb we become aware of this type of interest. We cry to have our hunger go away. We ask our parents to buy us toy cars for play. When we go on family trips, in frustration we repeatedly ask, “Are we there yet?” In adulthood we look for a nice dwelling, a fancy car, and an attractive life partner. In this way svartha continues, as to live means to desire.

Paramartha is the supreme interest. This is for the future beyond the foreseeable. Where will we go after death? What circumstances will we find? Will we be happy? Is there a way to ensure safe passage to the best destination in the afterlife? Paramartha takes care of this.

Each person has their own idea of supreme interest. To the atheist supreme interest is non-existent. Everything ends at death, so svartha is their supreme interest. To the religiously inclined, supreme interest is going to heaven in the afterlife. Rebirth is acknowledged by those who follow the Vedic tradition. So birth in favorable circumstances, such as in a mercantile family, a heavenly planet, or a family of transcendentalists, is considered the supreme interest to be met.

prāpya puṇya-kṛtāṁ lokān
uṣitvā śāśvatīḥ samāḥ
śucīnāṁ śrīmatāṁ gehe
yoga-bhraṣṭo ‘bhijāyate

“The unsuccessful yogi, after many, many years of enjoyment on the planets of the pious living entities, is born into a family of righteous people, or into a family of rich aristocracy.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 6.41)

[Goswami Tulsidas]Since he is supremely knowledgeable, Goswami Tulsidas understands that svartha and paramartha can both be fulfilled through one source. Though they are two terms, the only thing distinguishing them is time. Both are interests, but one is met sooner and the other later. In either case, the individual will exist. Therefore better it is to seek an interest that gives pleasure today that will continue into the future.

Svartha and paramartha merge when there is service to the Divine; otherwise they remain separate. In service to the Divine, svartha is met. The individual gets happiness right away. It arrives because the individual is happiest when serving. Service to the Divine, which can be done through something as simple as chanting the holy names, brings happiness immediately. The person who always chants “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare” swims in the ocean of nectar that is the transcendental sound vibration representing the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

The svartha turns into paramartha because the service never stops, provided the desire is there. Of course there is some concern here. How can we believe that the interest will remain? If I’m enjoying in my house right now, I know that one day the house will be gone. One day I will be forced to leave. Therefore I inherently understand that the svartha of enjoying in the house is different from paramartha. How, then, can the svartha of service to God in love become paramartha?

At the theoretical level, the two merge because the Supreme Lord is eternal in body and spirit. He is the lone individual who does not go through reincarnation. Time works at His direction; therefore it cannot operate on Him. In His original form of Shri Krishna, His transcendental body is described to be nava-yauvanam. He never ages past “pre-youth.”

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

[Lord Krishna]Krishna is also Rama, the worshipable form of choice for Tulsidas. When there is pure service to Him, the Supreme Lord offers protection. He brings to the devotee what they lack and preserves what they have. If they start to lack favorable circumstances, He brings them to a new situation. If they have enthusiasm and an undying will to continue in service, He preserves whatever progress they have made.

ananyāś cintayanto māṁ
ye janāḥ paryupāsate
teṣāṁ nityābhiyuktānāṁ
yoga-kṣemaṁ vahāmy aham

“But those who worship Me with devotion, meditating on My transcendental form – to them I carry what they lack and preserve what they have.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.22)

[Hanuman holding Lakshmana and Rama]Rama is also known as Raghuvira, which means “the hero of the Raghu dynasty.” How great of a hero is He? Rama has Lakshmana serving Him. Lakshmana is Rama’s younger brother and in fighting strength he is equal. Hanuman also serves Rama. Both Lakshmana and Hanuman are ranadhira, or great warriors. They are the greatest warriors in fact, and they both serve the hero of the Raghu dynasty. In this way Tulsidas gives assurance to both himself and future generations that one who loves God purely has no reason to fear. Their bhakti practice will be protected by Rama, who has Lakshmana and Hanuman standing by, ready to help.

In Closing:

Why to Supreme faith to extend,

And in afterlife’s existence to pretend?

 

Personal and supreme interest get,

Through just a single source met.

 

That person on the battlefield brave,

Any from ocean of suffering can save.

 

Has Lakshmana and Hanuman standing by,

Give Him faith, on their strength too rely.

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Talking About Smartas

Posted by krishnasmercy on April 5, 2015

[Wives of the brahmanas offering food]“Being advanced by thinking of Krishna constantly, they were performing the greatest form of mystic meditation. All the wives then became very busily engaged in filling up different pots with nice foodstuff. Due to the performance of the sacrifice, the various food was all very palatable. After collecting a feast, they prepared to go to Krishna, their most lovable object, exactly in the way rivers flow to the sea.” (Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 1, Ch 23)

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Friend-One: I hear a lot of talk about smarta-brahmanas.

Friend-Two: And?

F1: One: I’m not really sure what the term means. Two: the tone seems to be pretty negative.

F2: Along the lines of “the smartas do this and the smartas do that.”

F1: Yeah, and that we shouldn’t be like the smartas. From the context of the statements, I have some sort of understanding, I think.

F2: Care to share?

[double yellow line on the road]F1: The smartas are those who follow the rituals and rules strictly. Whatever the guidelines may be, the smartas do not deviate from them. It’s sort of like the rule in driving about not crossing the double yellow line. Sometimes you have to, though, like if there is a car in front blocking your way.

F2: That’s a pretty good understanding of it. Smarta comes from the word smriti, which means “that which is remembered.”

F1: Shruti is the corresponding term, right?

F2: Shruti is that which is heard. The Vedas are known as the shrutis, since they are passed down originally in an oral tradition. Books are helpful, but they are not required. The people living on earth in the early portion of the creation are so pure that they can remember things after hearing them only a single time.

F1: Wow, that’s pretty cool. So the smritis would be things that are not as easily remembered, things you need to write down?

F2: Yeah, observances and the like. Think of it like succeeding in something after a difficult journey and then writing down your experiences. If, after the fact, you made up rules based on your experiences, then those become a kind of smriti.

F1: And shruti comes directly from the highest authority, like the Supreme Lord?

F2: Yeah, exactly. Anyway, so a smarta is someone who follows smriti very strictly.

F1: Oh, okay. My understanding was pretty accurate, then. That being the case, I have some questions about smartas, especially as it relates to bhakti-yoga.

F2: Bhakti-yoga is the eternal occupation of the spirit soul. It can never be bound by law codes, things that need to be remembered, or someone’s system of life developed off personal experiences.

[Lord Rama]F1: I understand that. The first issue I see is that Lord Ramachandra seemed to be a smarta. Though He is God Himself in an incarnation form, He followed Vedic teachings strictly. Why shouldn’t we follow Him? Why shouldn’t we be just as strict?

F2: It’s a different time and circumstance. Even so, Shri Rama sometimes broke the rules. He is the Supreme Lord, so He is never bound by anything. Sita and Lakshmana also showed this. They left home to follow Rama into the forest. They disobeyed Rama’s direct request. Rama was their superior, which would make them violators of the smarta system.

F1: I’ll accept that. Here’s a tougher issue to resolve. In the bhakti-yoga tradition, especially the one descending from Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, I see so many rules and regulations. In fact, there are too many to keep track of. My head starts spinning when I think of them.

F2: There’s the four regulative principles: no meat eating, no gambling, no intoxication and no illicit sex. There’s the chanting sixteen rounds daily of the maha-mantra: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. There’s the no offending of other devotees. There’s the no standing with your back to the deities. There’s the no putting the demigods on an equal footing with Narayana, who is the same Rama and Krishna.

[Hari-bhakti-vilasa book]F1: So you obviously know what I mean. There’s that book, the Hari-bhakti-vilasa, I think it’s called. It’s got tons of rules. The Upadeshamrita of Rupa Gosvami seems similar. On the one side there’s criticism of the smarta-brahmanas and how their path is wrong. Then on the other side you get all these rules in bhakti-yoga. Seems like a contradiction to me.

F2: With all these rules you’re essentially creating a rival smarta system.

F1: Yeah. So how do you resolve the issue?

F2: Anytime there’s a rule, there’s a goal. The rule is to help achieve the goal.

F1: Okay.

F2: So in the smarta system, the highest goal you can achieve is the liberation of merging into the Brahman effulgence. That is difficult to get, so the more attainable goal is residence in the heavenly planetary system.

F1: And that’s really no different than where we currently live. The enjoyment is a little more, and the time spent there is greater too, but otherwise no difference.

F2: Exactly. In following the rules of bhakti-yoga, the goal is love for God. This is the highest goal of an existence; one rarely seen but still having the most value. Obviously love is never dependent on outside factors. You can follow all the rules you want, but it doesn’t mean you’ll automatically get love. But the rules do help.

F1: I see. I guess the example of the yajna-brahmanas in Vrindavana would be appropriate to mention here. They followed the smritis so strictly that they refused to break from their rituals to feed God Himself. Krishna asked for food through His friends and these brahmanas said “no.” They were preoccupied.

[Krishna and Balarama fed by the wives of the brahmanas]F2: And the wives of the brahmanas said “yes.” They were devotees. They were in bhakti-yoga, even though they weren’t smartas. They cast aside the rules to serve God. That is a great example.

In Closing:

Smartas getting criticized so much,

Since bhakti’s path won’t dare to touch.

 

But Vaishnavas also with rules strict,

So from criticism not to contradict?

 

The highest goal of each just see,

Love never from rules only to be.

 

Smarta brahmanas to feed Krishna refused,

But their wives different, with bhakti infused.

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Talking About Extortion

Posted by krishnasmercy on April 2, 2015

[Worshiping Radha and Krishna]“Peacefulness, self-control, austerity, purity, tolerance, honesty, wisdom, knowledge, and religiousness – these are the qualities by which the brahmanas work.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 18.42)

śamo damas tapaḥ śaucaṁ
kṣāntir ārjavam eva ca
jñānaṁ vijñānam āstikyaṁ
brahma-karma svabhāva-jam

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Friend-One: I think I’ve figured out who the biggest cheats in the world are.

Friend-Two: People who sell cars?

F1: Nope. They’re not even close to the top.

F2: Really?

F1: At least you have some idea what you’re getting with them. Everyone knows that the person selling the car isn’t going to be totally honest with you.

F2: So the people at the top of your list are more dishonest?

F1: Absolutely. They don’t tell you there is a price going in. They appear innocent and saintly at the start. They guide you here and there. They tell you to do this and do that. Then when you’re about to leave, they demand money. If you give a little, they want more. If you refuse to give more, they tell you that what you’ve done thus far is a waste.

[deity worship of Radha and Krishna]F2: Ah, you must be talking about the priests that you find in the temples in India and the like.

F1: Bingo. This is strong language, I know, but to me they seem like thugs. They do the greatest cheating and in the name of religion. Isn’t one of the qualities of a brahmana to be truthful?

F2: Yes, satyam is truthfulness. Arjavam means honesty. The qualities are described in the Bhagavad-gita.

F1: These guys are the most dishonest. Have you experienced what I’m talking about?

F2: Absolutely. You walk in this direction and there’s somebody giving you a garland. They don’t tell you how much it costs. They tell you to offer it to the deity. Then on the way out they demand some money. They will follow you out, like they are members of a gang.

F1: I can’t believe this goes on. I just assumed everyone would realize how ridiculous this is. Why would anyone go to these temples, then? This would turn off so many people to believing in God, which is so important.

F2: A lot of people can overlook it. They realize the situation. They come prepared, with enough money to offer. They don’t mind getting cursed at on the way out. It’s all part of the deal, in their eyes.

F1: Yeah, but it doesn’t sit well with me. At least be honest from the start. I’m not trying to cheat anyone. I have no desire to be stingy. I’m not a miser. Ask me nicely for a donation, that’s okay. Don’t sit there and tell me that everything’s ruined, that my worship will not matter, if I don’t give you enough money. That is extortion.

[Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati]F2: I hear you. But listen, that’s just the way it is these days. His Divine Grace Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura used to say that it is better to work a simple job like sweeping the streets than to show the deity of the Supreme Personality of Godhead for the purpose of making money.

F1: He must have known very well what goes on in these temples.

F2: I think this should give everyone more appreciation for the imperishable path of bhakti-yoga, devotional service. Shri Krishna advises that we always think of Him [Bhagavad-gita, 9.34]. He doesn’t say that you have to worship in a specific manner, especially when there is so much dishonesty going on.

F1: I don’t feel like going to these places ever again. I’d rather chant the maha-mantra at home: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. I think giving these guys money is only encouraging their thuggery.

F2: Like I said, some people can look past it. The Supreme Lord is so merciful that He never insists on any specific mode of worship. You can create a pure environment at home to do the same worship. If you’re with like-minded people, then everything is fine. His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada put so much emphasis on the distribution of literature like the Bhagavad-gita and Shrimad Bhagavatam to save people from this cheating.

F1: Yeah, thank God for him.

[Prabhupada's books]F2: So there’s no excuses. Like you said, you can chant anywhere. You can think of Krishna anywhere. If you’re so inclined, you can create a pure atmosphere for others to gather together for worship. Many people have done that already. There are institutions that provide much better facility for advancing in the divine consciousness, where there is less of the cheating you’ve encountered.

F1: It still fumes me, I must say. I guess it also explains how devotion is more important than asking for this thing or that.

F2: Yeah. People will try to tell you that you won’t get the result if you don’t do things a certain way. Fine. They may be correct. But if your goal is to increase your consciousness of God, there is nothing lost from a little mistake here and there. If you think about it, how can there be?

F1: Right. Whatever happens, at least your consciousness of the Supreme Lord is increasing. You don’t need some cheater’s blessing for that. I’ve heard you describe so many people from the past who were always thinking of God. They didn’t specifically do this ritual or that.

[Krishna lifting Govardhana Hill]F2: Even Krishna Himself rebelled. When He told Nanda Maharaja to skip the Indra-yajna one year, that was an act of defiance. Like the cheating priests you met, the king of heaven did not tell the people that if they skipped his worship one year they would get punished so severely that there wouldn’t be any traces of life left in Vrindavana. The people had faith in Krishna, in following the worship of Govardhana Hill that He prescribed. They were in danger only from the material nature, but Krishna gives all protection to the surrendered souls.

In Closing:

Than deity for purpose of money to keep,

Better if honestly the street to sweep.

 

Words from Bhaktisiddhanta came,

Knew of cheating done in Lord’s name.

 

Consciousness of God should grow,

Meaning to all paths of bhakti so.

 

Even Krishna once the rituals defied,

Govardhana worshipers on His arm relied.

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The One Purusha

Posted by krishnasmercy on March 12, 2015

[Lord Krishna]“Besides this inferior nature, O mighty-armed Arjuna, there is a superior energy of Mine, which are all living entities who are struggling with material nature and are sustaining the universe.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.5)

apareyam itas tv anyāṁ
prakṛtiṁ viddhi me parām
jīva-bhūtāṁ mahā-bāho
yayedaṁ dhāryate jagat

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The basic understanding of spiritual life is that there is a difference between matter and spirit. “You are not your body.” You need this told to you because the default thinking is otherwise. From the time of birth there is association with the body, and it continues until there is an inquiry made or exposure to knowledge of the real nature of the living beings. It is for this reason that the initiation into spiritual life is considered the second birth. Those who formally accept this knowledge are known as dvija, or twice-born.

There is spirit and there is matter. It’s easy to correctly guess which one is which. Our identity is as spirit, and that which we falsely identify with is matter. In Sanskrit two corresponding terms of relevance to this discussion are purusha and prakriti. Purusha is spirit, and it can also be translated to mean “person.” Prakriti is matter, and it is also known as “that which is enjoyed.” Purusha is the real enjoyer and prakriti is that which purusha can manipulate.

[hierarchical tree]In the classroom the teacher is the superior and the students are the subordinates. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the individual who is the teacher will always be in the superior position. At home they may have their own parents to answer to. Then they have the school board who is above them. Superior to the school board is the local government, and above that is the government running the entire nation.

In the same manner, the individual purusha becomes prakriti when the discussion turns to the original purusha. This is one way to understand God; He is the purusha for the entire creation. He is the original person. He is one, undivided, though His influence is spread everywhere. He is the ultimate enjoyer, while everything which emanates from Him is enjoyed by Him to some degree or another.

The original purusha is also known as the Supreme Brahman. These terms provide a little more clarity into the vague concept of God, but not much. The supreme being is the original enjoyer; that gives us a new way to define Him, but still we don’t know much from this definition. I can turn any person into the original purusha. Whomever I currently worship, I anoint them as the Supreme God.

“Who are you to deny the fact? This god is the Supreme Brahman. He is the same as your god. That is why I worship them. All these gods are the same. They are different manifestations of the same original purusha. You can’t tell me otherwise.”

The living entities struggling hard in this world are described as prakriti in the Bhagavad-gita, which is a work spoken by Shri Krishna. He is the Supreme Brahman, the one purusha. Just by reading the Bhagavad-gita, we get a better understanding of Him. Who is God? He is the person who speaks the highest wisdom that is actually timeless, though delivered from time to time, such as with Arjuna on the battlefield of Kurukshetra some five thousand years ago.

“There is a great misconception about the gods or demigods of this material world, and men of less intelligence, although passing as great scholars, take these demigods to be various forms of the Supreme Lord. Actually, the demigods are not different forms of God, but they are God’s different parts and parcels. God is one, and the parts and parcels are many.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 4.12 Purport)

[Krishna speaking to Arjuna]This Bhagavad-gita and works like it give the understanding of the difference between purusha and prakriti. The worshipers of other divine figures cannot point to similar statements made. Through sentiment or even basic ignorance they claim this person or that to be the one God, but there is nothing substantiating their claim. Any person can say they are God. Any person can claim to be the original purusha, the Supreme Brahman.

The personal side to God is superior because it greatly removes the chance to cheat. We know that Krishna is the original purusha because He describes the difference to us in the first place. He repeatedly refers to Himself in the Bhagavad-gita when discussing God. Other divine figures do not do this. Vedic literature is the most voluminous scriptural tradition in the world. In fact, no other tradition can compare to even a single Vedic work, the Mahabharata, in comprehensiveness and knowledge.

These works consist of many pages, and in them we do not find any ordinary person claiming to be God. The difference between matter and spirit is explained in many areas, for that is the fundamental teaching of the spiritual science. The personal side to God is also described in many areas, and it is done to remove doubt. The Supreme Brahman is never limited to one manifestation, but He is always a singular identity. The purpose to knowing Him is uniform also.

That purpose is to connect with Him. The ideal occupation of the prakriti coming from the original purusha is to be enjoyed. The enjoyer mentality leads to difficulty; it brings separation from the original enjoyer. That Supreme Brahman in His personal form reveals the path back towards the eternal occupation. Getting to know Him makes accepting that path easier; it clears the doubts as to who is God and what our relationship to Him should be.

[Radha and Krishna]The purusha enjoys through accepting the service of prakriti. The devoted souls serve without motivation and without interruption. They have no desire to cheat God by claiming to be supreme themselves. They don’t make false supreme gods and then worship them as a means of exploitation. They rather innocently look upon the Supreme Brahman with love and devotion, taking any chance to serve, always remembering through hearing the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

In Closing:

An original purusha existing one,

From Him all prakriti has come.

 

To be enjoyed by Him meant,

In challenge to material world sent.

 

In Bhagavad-gita this all explained,

Wisdom by Arjuna and fortunate gained.

 

With a purpose, not just chest to beat,

So that with ideal occupation to meet.

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