Sunday, March 13, 2016

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Friendship Among Devotees -Garud Prabhu 2016 03 11 SB 10 78 05 ISKCON Chowpatty

2016 03 11 SB 10 78 05 Friendship Among Devotees -Garud Prabhu ISKCON Chowpatty SB 10.78.5 tvaṁ mātuleyo naḥ kṛṣṇa  mitra-dhruṅ māṁ jighāṁsasi atas tvāṁ gadayā manda  haniṣye vajra-kalpayā Word for word: tvam — You; mātuleyaḥ — maternal cousin; naḥ — our; kṛṣṇa — O Kṛṣṇa; mitra — to my friends; dhruk — who have committed violence; mām — me; jighāṁsasi — You wish to kill; ataḥ — therefore; tvām — You; gadayā — with my club; manda — O fool; haniṣye — I will kill; vajra-kalpayā — like a thunderbolt. Translation: “You are our maternal cousin, Kṛṣṇa, but You committed violence against my friends, and now You want to kill me also. Therefore, fool, I will kill You with my thunderbolt club. Purport: The ācāryas have given the following alternate grammatical division of the third line of this verse: atas tvāṁ gadayā amanda, in which case Dantavakra says, “My dear Lord Kṛṣṇa, You are amanda [not foolish], and therefore with Your powerful club You will now send me back home, back to Godhead.” This is the inner meaning of this verse.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Sacrifice is important for healthy supply of food

Sacrifice is important for healthy supply of food IN 1825 the Reverend Robert Thomas Malthus predicted that within a century, the world's population would outstrip its food supply. Fortunately, history has proved Malthus wrong. Similar doomsday theories have arisen, even as recently as 1950, but each has been wrong, although famines, natural and artificial, continue to ravage us (e.g., in Ireland, Russia, India, and Ethiopia) as they have since time immemorial, along with plagues and droughts. While some might attribute famine to karma or nature's own inequity, one can't help notice how the US, for example, with five per cent of earth's population, consumes 24 per cent of its energy (from the Economist Book of Vital World Statistics: 1990). Unequal distribution appears to be the result of unregulated acquisitiveness, capitalism's "invisible hand" gone berserk. So what is the spiritual dimension to all this? The good news is that there is plenty for everyone. In its invocation, Shri Ishopanishad says that this world and everything in it are perfectly equipped as complete wholes and that whatever is produced of the whole is also complete in itself, even though many complete units emanate from it. Research shows that the world's six billion people could fit into a land surface the size of France, with each person having a hundred square metres to live in, so there's no real shortage of space! The same Upanishad asserts that 'everything animate or inanimate within the universe is controlled and owned by the Lord.' One should, therefore, it says, accept only those things, 'set aside as one's quota, and not accept other things, knowing well to whom they belong.' Major famines occur from time to time, due ostensibly to lack of rain, political unrest and economic exploitation. But it can be inferred that when we accept a godless existence as reality, food will be restricted. Such are the inexplicable effects of karma and our eternal freedom to turn away from God. These two causes are intertwined. Bhagavad Gita and Shrimad Bhagwatam inform us that yagya or sacrifice is necessary to maintain a healthy supply of food. The 18th chapter, fourth canto, of Shrimad Bhagavatam explains how the earth restricts her agricultural supplies when a yagya ceases and we become hedonistic. So history has proven the philosophical Cassandras of Judgment Day wrong. The earth has enough not only to feed us all but enough to feed ten times its present population - even on a meat-centered diet, according to a recent study by the University of California's Division of Agricultural Science. If the leaders of our world can recognise the source of our sustenance - then the earth, responding like a mother of many children will feed us all, lovingly and fully. #laxmi

Forgiveness, non violence are not enough

Forgiveness, non-violence are not enough FORGIVENESS (KSHAMA and sometimes shanti) and non-violence (ahimsa) - long associated with Gandhi - are core values. There are many instances in history where saintly persons, even though provoked, did not succumb to anger or violence. It is recorded in Vedic literature, that when Daksha, presiding over a sacrifice, first ignored Shivji, the great god did not retaliate, although he was fully capable of doing so. This was an exhibition of great forbearance. Lord Buddha is said to have totally rejected Vedic knowledge - almost itself an act of violence - in order make his teachings of non-violence stick. In his rendering of the Bhagavata, A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami writes: "forgiveness is a quality of those who are advancing in spiritual knowledge". This may he considered the Vedic version of the maxim attributed to Alexander Pope: "To err is human, to forgive divine." However, according to Vedic injunctions there are six types of dangerous aggressors: (1) a poison giver; (2) one who sets fire to the house, (3) one who attacks with deadly weapons, (4) one who plunders wealth, (5) one who occupies another's land, and (6) one who kidnaps a wife. And such persons may be killed, with no sin accruing to the executioner. Laws of self-defence allow violence in these circumstances. Further; the Manu-Samhita supports capital punishment, so that in the next life murderers will not have to suffer for their great sins. Although the passive resistance tactics of Gandhi laid the groundwork, it was the more militant campaign led by Subhas Chandra Bose and the Indian National Army, which ultimately gained us independence. The protection of citizens' life and property is a governmental necessity involving violence on many occasions. Yet, it is a law of Mann that one who identifies the doer of heinous acts receives the same karmic punishment as the perpetrator. From the Bhagavata, we read of Maharaj Parikshit saying: "O you, who are in the form of a bull! You know the truth of religion, and you are speaking according to the principle that the destination intended for the perpetrator of irreligious acts is also intended for one who identifies the perpetrator. You are no other than the personality of religion." This reminds us that the finer intricacies of religious codes do require forgiveness. But to act as a saint when we are not one is ill-advised. So violence, often thought to be decisively 'un-Hindu', is sometimes necessary for the protection of our lives, for personal karma, and for a world, where core values can be established and maintained for the good of all. #laxmi

Forget the hereafter, be spiritual here and now

Forget the hereafter, be spiritual here and now "POWER IS present, holiness is hereafter" as TS. Eliot said, is a mentality. A common notion holds that God and heaven are things to concern ourselves with after death and that measuring spiritual advancement in today's world Is irrelevant. We are averse to measuring spiritual growth on the earthly plane. Usually, spirituality is conceived of as something static. We tend to relegate it to heaven, wherein we'll revel forever atop billowing clouds, complete with celestial music, dancers, angels, gods and goddesses--living a life of endless joy and delight. Despite our conceptions of a happy afterlife, those we took up to as holy, like rishis and saints, not only in regard to the hereafter but because we also look at them criticially--consciously or inadvertently--are they tolerant, merciful, friendly and peaceful, or are they flawed? Are they genuine or counterfeit? Knowingly or unknowingly, we measure them. The Sreemad Bhagwatam (11.2.42) tells us that the pleasure, nourishment and reduction of hunger that occur when the eat, are analogous to devotion, awareness of God and lack of attraction to matter that takes place when we practice devotion. The intimation is that we measure our spirituality by how much we enjoy acts of devotion, how intensely we feel the presence of God, and how detached we are from this world's pleasures. Another way to measure spiritual advancement is through assessments made by saintly personalities. According to the teachings of the Mahabharata, the mahajans, or the saintly, hold the secrets to transcendental wisdom, wherein it is written that real "path of progress is that which is traversed by the great acharyas". Also the Svetashvatara Upanishad (6.23) asks us to develop absolute faith in a living person as well as in God, asserting that only in this way can we truly understand the transcendental world. On its face, this injunction appears unattractive and counterproductive. How can a human being be perfect? How can we have absolute faith in any human? Is it not 'human' to err, and isn't it true that there is no such thing as a perfect person? At least with otherworldly God, we can have an ideal and we can think of a flawless existence and totally unsullied behaviour. Through the history of great works and genuinely spiritual people, there has always been a master-disciple relationship. Even the Lord himself, when He appeared in person as Vasudev in Mathura, took instructions from Sandipani Muni, His spiritual teacher. Just as this world can be miserable, there can also be heavenly or godly existence in the here and now. By practicing devotion under the guidance of genuinely spiritual people, we can realise perfection. #laxmi

Faith and reason meet in the Gita

Faith and reason meet in the Gita ONCE UPON a time (namely on September 21, 1995) deities in India, England and other parts of the world were videotaped (and broadcasted) drinking huge quantities of milk. Evidence like this is considered 'hard proof' in most law courts. Yet, despite these recorded images, the incidents were scorned in some circles as sleight of hand. Critics sought to expose myths of inexplicable happenings. CNN used the Calcutta Rationalist Society (CRS) as one example of a local organization that suspected fraud. The CRS spokesperson, seen by millions of viewers worldwide, described how porous effigies, with invisible tubes beneath them, 'explained' the magic we saw. Hardcore rationalists are prone to denounce all faith claims and spiritual convictions, whether based on ancient teachings or blind and thoughtless. And there are religionists who disdain all technical innovations, such as in-vitro fertilization, stem-cell research, genetic modification, and even medical science. In this way, faith and reason are often seemingly at odds, but the facts even things out. Acceptance of the unknown, the uncharted and the unexplored is at work in every phase of our existence. We have faith in such things as automobiles, or numbering system, and our professors of math and science. Every step we take, every ride in automobile or airplane, each time we cross a bridge - we have faith we won't fall. In the learning process, that which we hear form parents and teachers is taken as true. But how to believe in that which we do not see, taste, touch, smell or feel? One answer to this questions is to examine what we do every day. We believe that air, electricity, reasoning, the mind, and many other things truly exist, although we know of them only by their symptoms, or by what we have read or been told. There is no empirical proof of their existence. Also, 200 years of intensive global scholarship has yielded no academic censorship as to where the 'Indo-Aryan homeland' is located. And so it is with God. Since the time of the Enlightenment, or at least since the mid-1700's, the human mind, in its most advanced stages, has been considered the crowing achievement of this world. But the source of that mind is all too often ignored. One of the most respected theological discourses in the word, the Bhagavad Gita, takes the form of a dialogue in which the student, Arjuna, is in the end, encouraged by his teacher, Sri Krishna, to make an informed, rational decision. Whatever need there is for basic faith, Bhagavad Gita provides common ground where the rationalist and the rishi can agree. The write is an emritus member of the ISKCON Governing Body Commission) #laxmi

Equal distribution of wealth, freedom for peace

Equal distribution of wealth, freedom for peace SAMA DARSHAN is the Sanskrit for 'equal vision' as found in Bhagavad Gita 5.18. This important text implores us to look beyond the gigantic inequalities between so-called developed countries and so-called developing countries, and see with equal vision all classes of human beings, animals and plants. According to the Gita, we live in what Pitirim Sorokin, former Chairman of Harvard University's department of Sociology, called a 'sensate' universe, a society that "intensely cultivates scientific knowledge of the physical and biological properties of sensory reality. " But as human beings, the most intelligent animals on the planet, we have a duty to care for the lower creatures of earth - especially the animals. And of the animals, cows have a special place. They are specifically singled out in the Gita verse beginning with krishi go raksha (18.44), meaning that cows always have to be protected. These domesticated animals have supplied us with milk since time immemorial. Sorokin continues: "Despite its lip service to the values of the Kingdom of God, society cares mainly about the sensory values of wealth, health, bodily comfort, sensual pleasures, and lust for power and fame. Its dominant ethic is invariably utilitarian and hedonistic." The inevitable result, Sorokin wrote, is the exceptional violence we have experienced in the 20th century. The world's vastly unequal distribution of energy tells us a lot. It reveals how those who "have," get controlled by fear and protect themselves. Love-hate relationships tend to develop between the 'have nations' and the 'have-nots.' The human phenomenon known as envy proceeds from personal to communal to national levels. This, as Sorokin indicates, has generated outbursts of violence, terrorism, wars and mass death. Economic one-world-ness, which demands ethical fair play, has proven to be only a partial answer. What is 'fair' to one group of people is 'unfair' to another. India, the world's largest democracy, has to date not been able to take full advantage of the 'democratisation' of finance. Vast differences in development of technology and information still remain, despite our desire for a more equitable world. Leaders of all countries can take at least three steps to ease the tensions that have arisen between nation-states. 1. Make mandatory two compulsory fasting days every month. This would save tons of food and improve the general health of the world's citizenry. 2. Require all their citizens to surrender a calibrated portion of their income for creating a spiritual atmosphere in the particular state. 3. Ban intoxication of all description. These preliminary directives would help everyone take the first steps on the long journey toward peace, prosperity and equality for all. In such an environment global egalitarianism can flourish. #laxmi

Culture is meant to be embodied by sages

Culture is meant to be embodied by sages Culture is meant to be embodied by sages BADARAYANI OR Vyasadeva wrote these words, "The body that at first rides high on fierce elephants or chariots adorned with gold and is known by the name "king" is later, by Your invincible power of time, called 'faeces,' 'worms', or 'ashes'." The ABC of spiritual understanding teaches, "We are not these material bodies." Words to remember when we're suffering from a toothache, stomach ache or general stress? Yes, but they mean much more than temporary relief from pain or depression. There's the same timeless philosophy here that makes phrases like Shakespeare's "To be or not to be," or Dylan Thomas' "Death shall have no dominion" so memorable. Christ was an even greater poet than past and present barde. Phrases like "Judge not?", "Blessed are the meek?", "Render unto Caesar?", "By their fruits?" and many other insights are now part of our everyday language. Even in rock music, the philosophy of life and death sometimes surfaces, as in the lyrics to George Harrison's, "The Art of Dying" ? "There'll come a time when all of us must leave here as nothing in this life that I've been trying can equal or surpass the art of dying." Addressing a topic as ostensibly morbid as death is not the sole province of the transcendentalist, but is for everyone. Humanity is meant to strive for higher knowledge. Unfortunately, we are suffering from having sold our souls to the pursuit of maximizing material wealth, an end which is spiritually wrong and practically unattainable. So why do we so persistently do this? At the root of our problem is a conviction that we are these bodies, minds and senses, which the shastras repeatedly tell us we are not. Repeatedly, because although the concept is so simple, it is effortlessly forgotten in favour of more immediate and pressing concerns. It's all well and good to think we know, "I am not this body,' but realizing such a profound concept on a day-to-day, moment-by-moment basis is quite another thing. For this reason, sages are poets. They stimulate the human intellect by conceptualizing, and phrasing things in such a way that our minds are challenged and our understanding 'made real' and deepened. To say a king is intimately nothing more than faeces, ashes or worms is a brilliant way of expressing a fundamental truth about identity. All culture music, song, dance, architecture, drama, fine art, fashion, film, cookery, ritual, hospitality, and, of course, poetry has a transcendental quality when dedicated to God. The art of devotional service, revealed in Vyasa's poetry, is the ultimate cultural achievement. #laxmi

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Vedas embody the true concept of a free woman

Vedas embody the true concept of a free woman RESEARCH SHOWS that the countries with the largest percentage of women in business, government and education are Sweden, Norway, Denmark and New Zealand. But are these truly the marks of "freedom" and even if India comes further down the list, does that mean that its women are less free? The Vedas teach that Krishna has an eternal, equal, female counterpart, Radha, who is the personification of love of God. God is, therefore worshipped in the dual Radha-Krishna form. Throughout history, there have been great women devotees of the Lord, who are honoured and respected. On the spiritual platform, men and women are considered equal, with the same opportunity for spiritual progress through bhakti-yoga. There were, however, different gender roles. In an ideal Vedic society, the economy was household-based and husbands and wives were partners, according to their social status. The economic base of society was primarily agricultural and centered around households. This meant that both men and women would be part of the same economic unit, though with different roles. Generally, men would be involved in ploughing and herding cows, and women would be involved in activities around the household. Kshatriyas would be involved in military and administrative affairs. With time women also became engaged in fighting and ruling but continued to be loyal assistants to their husbands. At the same time they also played a role appropriate to their status as queens, princesses, etc. The wives of brahmins would assist their husbands in the performance of religious rituals and teaching. In each case, the men and women would be partners in a particular activity of their social order, but with different roles in the partnership. In the modern West-influenced society, India has made adjustments. The economy is not totally agricultural or household-based. So Indian citizens might follow the standard patterns of either both husband and wife working at some occupation away from the household, or the husband pursuing a career while the woman stays at home and takes care of the children. But men and women, as in the Vedic society, have equal access to spiritual wisdom. According to tradition and philosophy, women may take the position of the guru, or spiritual master, and this has already taken place. In our society we have seen women occupy positions of importance in the government. But the eternal question remains whether Indian women are freer than ever? #laxmi

The key to true happiness lies in the Gita

The key to true happiness lies in the Gita ABOUT HAPPINESS, the Bhagavad Gita tells us: "One whose happiness is within, who is active and rejoices within and whose aim is inward, is the perfect mystic. Such a person is liberated in the supreme and ultimately attains the supreme." These are times of great stress and pervasive secularism. We desperately want happiness and peace of mind. We look for jubilation in movies, sex, intoxication, adventure, financial success, TV and web-surfing. But after the highs come the lows, and there is always the unpleasant aftermath when the film is over, the alcohol or drugs wear off, the sexual activity ends, the adventure finishes or the programme stops. For most, life is a series of ups and downs, crests and troughs. And yet we seek a permanent form of contentment on this roller-coaster. Pharmaceutical companies advertise dozens of tablets as cures for depression. These firms spend billions to help sell their products to eager public. Happiness is what we all want. If only we could just take 'happy pills' that worked! But happiness does not come cheap and easily. Unless there is a spiritual dimension to pleasure, we never realise contentment. A study by the London School of Economics found that the happiest place in the world was Bangladesh. India was fifth. The affluent US and UK didn't fare very well, coming in at 96th place and 32nd place respectively The moral is one we've heard before: money can't buy happiness. Happiness is, as we know it, like karma. It is hard to get a handle on it. It's fleeting and restless. It comes and goes like the fortunes of Laxmi and her unpredictable ways. Certainly we feel happiness when we are with people we love, and we want to retain that feeling always. Some, like King Henry II of England and his Archbishop of Canterbury, St. Thomas Becket (the two had been close friends in youth), felt that real love and happiness could only exist between human beings, and that love of God was ethereal, mysterious and absent of the milk of human kindness. This is where eastern philosophy and the Judeo-Christian concept of God are often seen to be at odds. In Gita, in the dialogue between Krishna and Arjuna, we find that Shri Bhagwan becomes the chariot driver for His warrior student and friend, putting Himself in the lower position out of love for His intimate devotee. This love and happiness is available in the transcendental realm, but the Gita tells us how to apply that ultimate happiness in the here and now and how to turn the material world into the transcendental abode. #laxmi

Secret message in Hollywood's 'Matrix'

Secret message in Hollywood's 'Matrix' VERSE 7.14 of Bhagavad Gita tells us that maya can be conquered only by surrender. Maya is difficult to overcome. But, the Gita states that those who have surrendered can easily cross over it. The Hollywood film Matrix, is a tale that says the world is illusory, a 'virtual reality' created by machines that have taken over the planet earth. They have subdued and grown humans, using them like batteries, to power the grand deception we call the world. Neo or Mr. Anderson (Keanu Reeves), the film's hero, is killed by the machines but is brought back to life ostensibly through the love of Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss), his female co-star. And VCD and VHS renters beware; there's no sex in Matrix. What appears to be a Buddhistic portrayal of a world that is fake, turns out to be a kind of love story. Two lost souls magically find each other and achieve victory amidst the ruins. Neo comes back from the dead, and becomes the leader of a militant underground, supposed to consist of the only homosapiens left alive after the machine takeover. Death is conquered by love, and not simply by realizing the world is 'unreal', or in Vedic terms, illusory or maya. Neo is miraculously brought back to life by Trinity, who confesses to his lifeless frame that she has fallen in love with a dead man, but she makes it clear that she's not afraid any more. Her attitude of unconditional surrender parallels what the Gita tells us about conquering maya. And since a purpose of this column is to interpret life transcendentally, we can see human love exhibited in Matrix as super mundane. It's rare that an American film would attempt to teach us something higher. But Matrix was made with that in mind. The world we inhabit is an illusion. And yet there is something that is real, something that is beyond, something more compelling than a meretricious apparition. That something may be described as divine love or the Krishna factor. Out of all the grotesqueness that emanates from Hollywood, a film with supernatural intent is a rarity. Its success at the box office should be welcomed along with the observation that millions of people, those not bedazzled by the project's special effects and violence are in fact in search of the divine. Matrix indirectly shows that devotion, or bhakti, is the turning point at which we can in a natural way overcome the forces of evil and illusion that trap us in a shadow world not of our own making. #laxmi

Love of God is the basic essence of all religions

Love of God is the basic essence of all religions SO MANY times one has heard people attributing the reason for an action to God. In the name of Him, so many poor innocents killed, so much terrorism perpetrated. But such people seldom realise that mixing terrorism with God makes a sickening brew. Let's know this for a fact: terrorists don't believe in God, unless there is a God who encourages the sudden and unexpected killing of civilians, workers and children. God and the soul are correlative terms: atma and paramatma in classical parlance. Terrorists can garner fame and recognition from their peers, but the most dangerous sorts are those who live to die heroically by killing an unsuspecting "enemy." Such persons, we learn, think that salvation means more sex, more drugs, and more fame - all in an afterworld and all for the pleasure of God. But we shouldn't be surprised, for nonsensical notions of God are nothing new to human beings, especially in a secular world where God and the Devil can change positions at the drop of a sabre. But along with theology, all religions profess common decency. The Bhagavat Purana, for example, explains the original human nature is to be sattvic, and that only later during the initial process of creation do the modes of passion (rajas) and ignorance (tamas) pollute this seminal nature. That same Purana says that ideal human nature includes knowledge and renunciation. Although God is invoked as the ultimate sanctioning agent in many conflicts, wars are fought over land, economic power, and political or tribal supremacy. At least, holy wars like those in the Mahabharata, didn't embrace kooky concepts of God. But that was five thousand years ago, when civilians were spared the untimely death at the hands of cowards. Today's wars, increasingly involve private citizens, and are often fought in the name of God. And when it comes to terrorism, non-military personnel are almost exclusively targeted. Sadly, extreme form of nationalism has given rise to popular usage concepts of ?heathen? and kafir. This being so, gratuitous violence against those who are ?different? is the next step. But religion - of any stripe, in any country - espouses love of God as its ultimate teaching and this is meant to transcend all confessions. In Bhagavad Gita, God specifically advises us to develop qualities of "peacefulness, self-control, austerity, purity, tolerance, honesty, knowledge, and wisdom" and that we should "give up all varieties of religion (sarva-dharman) and surrender unto Me. " #laxmi

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Knowledge of love is important

Knowledge of love is important IS THERE such a thing as a param dristvam or 'higher taste?' And if there is, what is it? Is there anything beyond the simple God-given pleasures of eating and sex? The Gita tells us that "One whose happiness is within, who is active and rejoices within and whose aim is inward, is the perfect mystic". (5.24) What's natural for a human is different from what's natural for an animal. True, we are animals, but we are also human. So what's the difference? It's the human part that we tend to forget, sometimes in the name of being 'natural' or 'nature-like'. Words like 'normal', 'natural', 'unvarnished' and 'pure' are as misconstrued and misused as the word 'spiritual'. In the 1960s, many thought 'free love' was spiritual. What do we mean by 'spiritual'? Love for our own children is a pure (almost spiritual) love. We see forms of parental love every day. We call the child on the mother's lap a 'burden of love'. According to the commentator, Vishvanatha Chakravarty Thakur, to remove the child can be more burdensome than the child's weighty presence. Parental love is quite different from the male-female conjugal form of love. The latter relationship often deteriorates into mutual gratification of desire and the discharge of loneliness and anger. What's taken to be love may be lust, just as iron pyrite (fool's gold) is sometimes mistaken for gold. Spiritual love operates in a different dimension. It's interesting that both the British Oxford and American Webster's dictionaries put the sexual and even romantic aspects of love after their first definition. Both define love first and foremost as an intense feeling of deep affection and a 'profoundly tender' relationship with another person. Spiritual love, like love in this world, is natural, but like lasting love in this world, it includes friendship, protection, servitorship, knowledge, ongoing cultivation, and deep understanding. Spiritual love, or love of God is totally free of desire for return in the material sense. It is pure and not based on mutual sensory satisfaction. Does pure or spiritual love include and enable human love? Can it save a shipwrecked marriage? The answer is yes. Without knowledge of transcendental love, there is no full knowledge of love. #laxmi

Is renunciation an external designation

Is renunciation an external designation? THE STORY is about someone who ventures to the high Himalayas to visit a bearded holy man in a cave. The man asks, "How can I become a millionaire?" The sage replies, "If I knew the answer to that, you think I'd be living here?" This parable's ostensible message is that renouncers are all misfits and ne'r-do-wells. They inhabit remote retreats because they can't make it in the 'real world'. In short, they're losers. And buried within is yet, another theme: holy people should not possess anything of this world. Their wisdom thrives on isolation. The stereotypical rishi or saint has to remain aloof, even geographically, from all things physical. Renunciation is scary, but on the other hand, it's alluring to some, because they think it entitles them to give up everything, including responsibilities, duties and obligations. It holds out freedom from care. And a carefree life is always desirable. We have seen men in expensive silk suits but with newly shaven heads, find their way to Tirupati's inner sanctum to pray fervently to Lord Venkateshwara for success in business. Maybe they think a shaved head attracts God's attention. And I have seen poor people in orange riding in cars, using computers and cell phones advertising high-tech, spiritual museums in Delhi. So how does the Gita define renunciation? The sixth chapter, first verse contains the word sanyasi, which usually translates as one 'in the renounced order.' The text says that one who is "unattached to the fruits of his work and who works as he is obligated, is in the renounced order of life, and he is the true mystic, not he who lights no fire and performs no duty." An even more famous verse (2.47) says that one has the right to perform duty, but not to enjoy the fruits of action. These two apparent opposites, duty and renunciation, action and inaction, meet in the Gita, telling us exactly what renunciation is. According to this book; even a character as un-yogic as Arjuna - householder prince, and warrior, - still becomes an ideal renunciant, through things as spiritually unlikely as friendship, royalty and warfare. This is the deeper meaning of sanyasa. It's not the occupation, colour of cloth or the length of facial hair that determines who's a sadhu. Sanyasa is no more than that consciousness which divests itself of undue attachment. A person on this level of consciousness indeed walks on holy ground. #laxmi

Humility is the true mark of a sadhu

Humility is the true mark of a sadhu SERVICE IS a tricky word. It is our nature to serve something or someone - a child, a parent, a grandparent, a pet, a manager, a teacher, or an elder. Selfless service, one with no expectation of immediate return, is something that every parent experiences. But even parents expect or at least hope that when they are old and feeble, their offspring will look after them. These days, service with no thought of return is indeed rare. Service may be a popular topic, but 'devotional service' is a sure conversation stopper. The tendency to exploit is so prominent, and so much is based on the unspoken assumption that 'might makes right', that it's considered downright stupid to be selfless. But there are signs of change. Why did so many affluent Westerners flock to Kolkata - sometimes referred to as the derriere of the world - to be part of Mother Teresa's mission? The tendency toward charity is still alive. But charity without God is missing. Religion has become increasingly social, a stepping-stone to and a part of material success. The trivada principle of artha, kama and dharma - without moksha - has become a way of life. It's fair to say that spiritualism is dead or dying. Religion has become a no-no and the G-word (God) is pretty much taboo, just as the S - and F words were a few decades ago. When it comes to God, the public square is naked. Our democracy is increasingly secular. In the minds of many, service to humanity is service to God. But for the aspiring spiritualist, the reverse is what counts. Agni Purana states that "One who builds or helps build a temple for Lord Vishnu becomes liberated along with eight forefathers". At least in this country, there is a strain of God consciousness in people's blood. The unprecedented popularity of the Ramayana telecast is testimony enough. What we lack as a society is spiritual purity giving with no expectation of return. The problem is that too many of our godmen, rishis and gurus are counterfeits. The Fourth Tempter in T. S. Eliot's play Murder in the Cathedral refers to the arrogance of martyrdom. The pride of the archbishop leads to his downfall. We live in a world where there are a thousand charlatans for every genuine person of God. Even among the 'holy' there is pride; pride that generates the pollution of consciousness and a hypocrisy that thinking people simply cannot tolerate. True saintliness is marked by genuine humility, and humility is based on the principle that everything belongs to God, including all the 'good' qualities of the sadhu. #laxmi

Good versus evil in the Bible and Gita

Good versus evil in the Bible and Gita THE PROBLEM of good and evil has plagued us since the beginning of recorded history. Youth, personal beauty, affluence, high intellect, and strength are good; old age, death, poverty, ignorance, and disease are bad. If our senses are pleased, we are happy, and life is good. If our senses are displeased, we are unhappy, and life is bad. No less than an authority than the Encyclopedia Britannica states that "in monotheistic religions, evil does not originate within the divinity nor in general within a divine world." Thus, God is barred from hell, an eternal realm of misery. But a post-modernist philosopher would say that there is a third, more enlightened state. This concept was glimpsed in Shakespeare's Hamlet where it's said, "There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so." The Vedas imply that good and evil do exist and that they arise from the same source. But how can an all-good God be the source of evil? Simply put, evil is the backside of God; we can face the sun or our own shadow. A mother sometimes punishes her child out of love. To save her child she may angrily jerk it out of the way of an oncoming car, or punish it for endangering itself when it puts its hand into a flame, or rotating fan. On the macrocosmic scale, mother Durga gives us freedom but also enough rope to hang ourselves. By using her devastating weapons, she teaches us that taking refuge in illusion is ultimately bad for us. In the Eastern tradition, the second aphorism of the Vedanta Sutra asserts that everything - even evil itself - emanates originally from God. This tradition further explains how bad behaviour and the whole material world of suffering stem secondarily from our selfish bodily desires, just to purify us of them. Shrimad Bhagawatam (3.14.27) says that no one in the material world is equal to or greater than Shivji and that his perfect character "is followed by great souls to dismantle their ignorance." Still, he "remains as if a devil to give salvation to all devotees of the Lord." Contrary to conventional western thought, it is not bodily comforts or pains that make for good or evil. Rather, perfection is obtained by knowing that pleasing the Supreme Lord is good, and that displeasing Him is bad. It is this standard alone that raises us above the bodily concept of life, into the dimension of the soul, far beyond the interchangeable goods and evils of the world. Service to God is the necessary reference point we need to distinguish good from evil for our own good. #laxmi

God is one, almighty and all pervasive

God is one, almighty and all-pervasive THE CONCEPTS of 'One and Different' are as old as the hills. Philosophers have grappled with them since the dawn of time. One wonders what does this seemingly difficult-to-grasp concept mean and why such apparent contradictions are (such as unity in diversity) still popular? Is there a spiritual dimension? The most widespread concept of God holds that God is an energy - even the source energy - or the manifestation of various forms, like Shiva, Surya, Vishnu, Ganesh, Durga, Brahma and Lakshmi. Meditation, yoga, nirvana and samadhi thrive in the West, are still considered the province of the mysterious East with its unbreakable ties to Hinduism, Buddhism and their derivatives. To serious students of Hinduism the array confuses. The six big names in authors of yore - Jaimini, Kanada, Gautama, Patanjali, Kapila and Badarayani - present a daunting tangle of different approaches. The idea of "different" embraces the conviction that God is in every different thing. This would explain the anthropomorphic gods. But where is the "oneness"? For answers, we needn't look beyond the Bhagavad Gita itself. What does Shri Krishna mean when he says to Arjuna: "By me, in my unmanifested form, this entire universe is pervaded? And "All beings are in me, but I am not in them". In his 'unmanifested' form, he pervades everything. But the universe is made of individual things. So this very pervasiveness is diverse. Then how about "All beings are in me, but I am not in them?" Well, there must be an original "I"! Oh? Excuse me, did you say you're not "praying to an old man with a beard, sitting on a throne, communing with cherubs who float on clouds playing lyres and singing"? Many great persons, poets and sages, including Ved Vyas, Badarayani, Jayadev, Asita, Mirabai, Narada, Vidyapati, Devala, accept the Gita's original "I" or original "one". This may be a bhakti 'interpretation', but at least it's not posing as the truth. We live in a world of competing truth claims. In 1996 and 1997, many thousands visited an exhibit at the Washington, D.C. Smithsonian Institution's Sackler Gallery. The display - organised by Sarah Cunningham of England - was called simply Puja. Puja occupied all the rooms of an entire floor. It's message: Deities in temples, homes and outdoor shrines fulfil the inherent human need to devote ourselves to a 'personality.' In the Gita, God's form is depicted as not only an energy that pervades everything, but also as a personality. To meditate on a personality is no more difficult than constantly thinking of our loved ones. #laxmi

Environmental pollution is a spiritual problem

Environment Environmental pollution is a spiritual problem THE CLAIM is that all our environmental problems can be solved by listening to the compelling call of our own timeless culture. What message—buried within Indian culture-is so simple, yet so profound, that it can "fix" the unfixable? In its very first mantra, Isha Upanisad, a frequently read Vedic text, reminds us that everything animate and inanimate within this universe is controlled and owned by the Lord. Therefore, one should only accept those things which are set aside as one's quota, and not accept other things. Pollution, as stated in the scriptures, is a direct result of "over-consumption," which in turn is a product of greed, and greed is generated by materialism combined with secularism. There is something deep within each of us that seems to baffle our hopes for a more livable world. At the root of the problem is a relentless, almost unconscious drive to have and enjoy more than we really need. Environmental pollution is a spiritual problem, and it demands a spiritual solution. The greatest barrier to an ecologically balanced environment is a materialistic worldview that defines the individual as a biochemical machine operating in a godless, soul-less universe. Unfortunately, this widespread theory forms the basis of most modern scientific thought. It is known as "reductionism." Reductionism has given rise to a civilization driven to exploit the earth's resources and creatures without restriction. Indian culture teaches that we live in a world designed by God. Individuals, who are aware of God, don't want to possess, control, or enjoy more than they actually require. Vedic wisdom instructs that God, is the ultimate proprietor of everything, and that each living being on earth, according to its needs, has inherent rights to his or her share of this planet's God-given resources. These principles are part of nature's system of inviolable higher-order laws, including the law of karma. A practical outline for a natural, ecologically sound way of life may be found in the Hare Krishna movement's books of Vedic knowledge, which recommend the chanting of the Hare Krishna mantra for transforming consciousness from material to the spiritual. With the right formula, we can transform our environment. If awareness of our position in the world and the message of Bhagavad-gita and Isha Upanisad are rightly understood, the consciousness of our world can change, and when consciousness changes, everything else changes for the better. #laxmi

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Monday, March 7, 2016

What does surrender to God mean

For most people surrender sounds like a horrible thing. The allied forces bombed in Berlin and battered Germany. While the bombs were dropping, the Russian army was marching in with millions of soldiers from another direction. Germany surrendered. When bombs were dropped in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Japanese surrendered. Now when Krishna says in the Bhagavad Gita, “Abandoned all verities of religion and surrender to me,” he is not talking about that kind of surrender. The surrender that Krishna and the saints talk about is the most beautiful experience and the most wonderful concept in all the creation. It means to genuinely offer our love,“I am yours. How can I please you? Let me live a vibrant dynamic life and let me use all my creative abilities, my intelligence, my wealth, and whatever I may have, for helping others, as an expression of my love for you.” That is surrender. #laxmi

What does Hare Krishna mean

Answer:‘Hare Krishna’ refers to the Sanskrit prayer we sing (the maha-mantra, or ‘great chant for deliverance’) and to our group. Since we are often seen chanting the Hare Krishna mantra, we are referred to as the ‘Hare Krishnas’. Srila Prabhupada came to the United States from India in 1965 to introduce the Western world to bhakti-yoga, which features the chanting of Hare Krishna as its main spiritual practice. Srila Prabhupada represents a lineage of teachers dating back into antiquity, but which was revitalized 500 years ago by the incarnation of God named Lord Chaitanya. The voluminous Vedic scriptures of India contain everything we need to know about how to live happily in the world while we realize our spirituality and our relationship with God. These scriptures describe many methods of spiritual attainment, but they specifically recommend the chanting of Hare Krishna as the most effective method of God realization for the time we live in. Since God is unlimited, He has unlimited names with different purposes and meanings. The purpose of the Hare Krishna prayer is to awaken us to our eternal nature as servants and lovers of Krishna. The Hare Krishna mantra is composed of three Sanskrit words: Krishna, Rama and Hare. Krishna and Rama are both names for God. Krishna means “the all-attractive,” and Rama means “the supreme pleasure.” We can approach the all-attractive Supreme Lord, and experience the supreme pleasure of His company, through the help of His devotional or pleasure energy, Hare. Placed together the words of the prayer mean “O Lord, O energy of the Lord, please engage me in Your loving service”. By chanting Hare Krishna we become purified of material conditioning and become reinstated in our normal eternal position. #laxmi

On Thanks Giving

In order for that spirit of loving service – the spirit of bhakti – to grow, a very essential element is thanksgiving, or gratitude. The seed of love can only take root and grow if it is in fertile soil. Gratitude is that fertile soil. Whatever spiritual practices we do, like chanting God’s names, coming to satsanga, doing seva, all of these things are like watering the seed of that love that is within us. But that watering process will be ever more effective to the degree that our consciousness, or our heart, is a field of gratitude. A person who is ungrateful can never really be happy because they will always be expecting something else or something more. A truly grateful heart actually finds fulfillment and opportunity in every situation. Gratitude is a state of mind. It is not a response to circumstances. If our gratitude is a response to circumstances then it is going to be very fickle. But if it is something that is coming from within, coming from a deeper place, then we can be grateful in every situation. If we cannot be grateful for the challenges and disappointments that come in our lives, then we can’t really be grateful for the things that go our way either. How to be grateful when things really don’t go our way? When we are trying to see the whole picture of who I am and what life really is for, then we can see – there is an opportunity to grow in every situation. The day of Thanksgiving did not begin by some people who came to America by a first-class British Airways flight and arrived at the JFK airport, and had a limousine and five-star hotel room waiting for them with a thanksgiving celebration. Thanksgiving started with people who were being persecuted and who were really struggling in Europe. They came by boats, in which many of them died. There was nobody to greet them and they encountered a lot of difficulties. But what they did get they were very thankful for, because they had struggled. If you really expect something to happen and feel that you deserve it, can you really be grateful for it? For example, if you go to a restaurant with your American Express credit card and buy a meal with your credit card, you may tell the waiter how grateful you are. But imagine if you are starving in the street and someone comes and gives you that same meal… you are going to be so much more thankful because you really don’t think you deserve it. Humility and gratitude are inseparable. If we are arrogant we really cannot be grateful for anything – not deeply. Even if one works for years to earn something, a humble person will not think “I deserve it.”Rather, he will think, “I am so grateful for every single person who helped me learn how to do this. I am grateful to every person who was instrumental in giving me a chance, and I am grateful to God for everything I have been given.” #laxmi

Realization is manifested through Humility and Devotion

We have the highest, most intimate and confidential of all knowledge in the Vedas in the Srimad Bhagavatam, which is how we are not this body. We should give up the bodily concept of life. Of course, we read the beautiful pastimes of Lord Sri Krishna also. But when we come to this highest knowledge of body and soul, we want to skip through this because we already have heard it so many times. We want new tastes, new nectar, we want the juice of newer and newer subject matter of the scriptures. We feel we already know this and have heard it many times, now we want to hear something else. But the problem is we do not know. Therefore we must be continuously reminded, otherwise everything else we learn will be misunderstood utterly. Intellectualization of scriptural study is not very impressive to a sadhu. Realization is impressive to a sadhu. And realization is manifested through humility and devotion. And that is the most important principle. #laxmi

The Spiritual Principle

It is described that the mercy of Krishna is like the Sun. The Sun does not discriminate, whether you are from this family or that family, this nationality or that nationality. The Sun rises for our benefit, giving itself to everyone. But if you hide in a cave that is your own misfortune. And those representing the Lord, they are like mirrors of the Sun of Krishna’s mercy. They are reflecting the divine mercy of the Lord in all directions to anyone who is simply accepting it. And what is the problem in this world? The problem is that such great souls are so rare to find. Everyone is pursuing their own petty, selfish ambitions in life. They are missing the whole point of human civilization, which is to act as a servant of God for the welfare of all living beings. And you should know, until you accept that principle in your life, you will never find real happiness. The more you take the less you have. The more you give the more you have. This is the spiritual principle. Of course, if you have nothing, what have you to give. So therefore a devotee is very serious about their own spiritual practice. The great devotees of the Lord do not want to practice sadhana or Bhakti-yoga for their own spiritual advancement. They will be very attentive in their execution of devotional service so that they can make spiritual advancement. But the reason why is because the more advancement they make, the more they can give to others. They do not want to take anything for themselves. #laxmi

What happens after death

Everyone at some time in life wonders what happens after death. Throughout history, some of the most thoughtful minds have advocated that life does not end with the death of our body, but continues on via a process known as reincarnation. In the Western world, followers of the Orphic religion in ancient Greece were the first known exponents of reincarnation. They were succeeded by Pythagoras, Socrates, Plato and a host of other philosophers. The Vedic literature of India advocates that the soul, or atma, gives life to the body. Life does not arise from a particular combination of material elements as some modern scientists theorize. At the time of death, we leave one body and enter a new one. That is called reincarnation. The concept is not as alien as it might seem. We can observe that we change from one body to another throughout our lifetime. Our body at birth is completely different from our adult body. Yet throughout these changes, the conscious self remains the same. Similarly, the conscious self remains the same at death and transfers from one body to the next in the cycle of reincarnation. Our present body is the result of a long series of actions and reactions in previous lives. The law that governs this is known as karma: every action has a reaction. Our previous actions have produced our present body, and our current actions will determine our next body. Only in the human form can we free ourselves from the endless cycle of reincarnation, of birth and death, by re-establishing our eternal, loving relationship with Lord Krishna. As Krishna states in Bhagavad Gita 8.16, “From the highest planet in the material world down to the lowest, all are places of misery wherein repeated birth and death take place. But one attains to My abode.. never takes birth again.” #laxmi

How to prepare and offer food to Krishna?

Quetion: How to prepare and offer food to Krishna ? Answer: Preparing and offering food to the Lord shows Him our devotion and gratitude. Krishna doesn’t need to eat, of course, but He accepts the love with which we offer food to Him. As far as possible, use fresh, natural ingredients for cooking. Krishna accepts only vegetarian food and packaged, store-bought products may contain meat, fish, or eggs. So read labels carefully. Cleanliness is important in cooking for Krishna . Wash your hands before you begin. And don’t taste the food while cooking; the meal is for Krishna ‘s pleasure, so He should taste it first. It’s best to have a new set of dinnerware used only for Krishna ‘s offerings and not used by anyone else. Place the plate in front of Krishna and ask Him to accept the offering. Leave the plate there for a few minutes, just as you would if someone else was eating. Remove the plate, transfer the food to a serving plate and wash Krishna‘s dinnerware. The food is now prasadam, or mercy from Krishna . While you eat, consider the spiritual value of the food; because Krishna has accepted it, it is spiritually identical to Him. Therefore by eating prasadam you become purified. Everything you offer Krishna becomes spiritualized prasadam, flowers, incense, water, food. All prasadam should be respected and shared with others. #laxmi

If we please God our life is Perfect

people will criticize you irrespective of whatever you do; so you might as well do the right thing. There is the story of the man who had a mule. He was riding on the mule and his son was walking. So the people criticized, “Why this man is on the mule and making his son walk?” So then the man put the son on the mule and he walked. People said, “Why is the son on the mule and making his father walk?” So then they both got on the mule, and people started saying, “Why are these people so cruel that two people are putting such a burden on it?” So then they came to town and they were both walking along with the mule, and the people said, “Why are they so stupid, they have a mule and they’re both walking?” So one great statesman said, “You can please some of the people some of the time but you can never please all the people all the time.” But if we please God our life is perfect. So we should be enthusiastic to do the right thing with the right intention. Then, let people say whatever they want to say, but we know that God in our heart is pleased. At the same time, the more genuine we become, the more that genuineness will also be recognized and that will influence others. #laxmi

King Kulasekhar

Once upon a time there was a king in Orissa named Kulasekhara. He was a very powerful king. He was very strict in his administration. His countenance was effulgent like the sun, and his heart was as deep as the ocean. He was very charitable, like a wish-fulfilling tree, and in learning he was compared to Brihaspati. He was as tolerant as Mother Earth, as beautiful as Kamadeva, the God of love, and was very pure in his mood and behavior. His wealth was like that of Kuvera, and he took care of the citizens of his kingdom as if they were his own children. He was very much surrendered to the devas and brahmanas. He was full of devotion and sincerely served the lotus feet of his spiritual master. King Kulasekhara always served the devotees, and was constantly engaged in hearing Hari-katha. #laxmi

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