Connecting Devotees Worldwide - In Service Of Srila Prabhupada
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An introduction on how to be a devotee of Krishna
The Basic Idea
The Bhagavad-gita and the Vedic texts teach that we are not these temporary material bodies but spirit souls, or conscious entities, and that we can find genuine peace and happiness only in spiritual devotion to God/Krishna. The Gita and other well-known world scriptures recommend that people joyfully chant God’s holy names, such as Krishna, Allah, and Jehovah. Krishna or God is known by many names, according to His different qualities and activities and the extent of the relationship, or realization of the devotee. In the Bible he is known as Jehovah (“the almighty one”), in the Koran as Allah (“the great one”), in the Bhagavad-gita as Krishna, a Sanskrit name meaning “the all-attractive one.”
The Most Recent Incarnation of Krishna
The ancient mantra as prescribed in the Vedic literatures: Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare / Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare is a transcendental sound vibration. It purifies the mind and awakens the dormant love of God that resides in the hearts of all living beings. Lord Caitanya the most recent incarnation of Krishna in this age requested His followers to spread the chanting to every town and village of the world.
Anyone can take part in the chanting of Hare Krishna and learn the science of spiritual love of Krishna and all living entities by studying the Bhagavad-gita As It Is. This easy and practical process of self-realization will awaken our natural state of peace and happiness. (For more information on who Lord Caitanya is please download the book Teachings of Lord Chaitanya from the “Free ebooks”)
Krishna Devotees Today
The devotees you may have seen distributing books like Bhagavad-Gita, or chanting the Hare Krishna Mantra with traditional Indian instruments, or dancing and chanting dressed in traditional Indian robes, are for the most part full-time monks of the Hare Krishna movement. The vast majority of Krishna devotees, however, live and work in the general community, practicing Krishna consciousness in their homes and may sometimes visit Krishna temples for inspiration and prayer.
A Philosophy for Everyone
The Hare Krishna Philosophy (a monotheistic tradition) is summarized in the following eight points:
1. By sincerely cultivating the authentic spiritual science of sanantana-dharma presented in the Bhagavad-gita and other Vedic scriptures, we can become free from anxiety and revive our natural state of pure, unending, blissful consciousness.
2. Each of us is not the material body, but an eternal spirit soul, part and parcel of God (Krishna). As such, we are all the eternal servants of Krishna and are interrelated through Him, our common father. This is our natural position but due to intensive long term association and identification with matter and materialism we have lost touch with our natural blissful position and eternal nature. We have simply become materialistic and as a result of this materialism and bodily identification we are frustrated in so many ways.
3. The Veda’s explain that Krishna is the eternal, all-knowing, omnipresent, all-powerful, and all-attractive Personality of Godhead. He is the seed-giving father of all living beings and the sustaining energy of the universe. He is the source of all incarnations of God, including Lord Buddha and Lord Jesus Christ.
4. The Vedas are the oldest scriptures in the world. The essence of the Vedas is found in the Bhagavad-gita, a literal record of Krishna’s words spoken five thousand years ago in India. The goal of Vedic knowledge – and of all religions – is to achieve love of God.
5. We can perfectly understand the knowledge of self-realization through the instructions of a genuine spiritual master such as Srila Prabhupada – one who is free from selfish motives, who teaches the science of God explained in the Bhagavad-gita, and whose mind is firmly fixed in meditation on Krishna.
6. All that we eat should first be offered to Lord Krishna with a prayer. In this way Krishna accepts the offering and blesses it for our purification.
7. Rather than living in a self-centered way, we should act for the pleasure of Lord Krishna. This is known as bhakti-yoga, the science of devotional service.
8. The most effective means for achieving God consciousness in this Age of Kali, or quarrel, is to chant the holy names of the Lord: Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
Krishna Consciousness at Home
Srila Prabhupada, our acharya (fully self realized spiritual master and guide) makes it clear how important it is for everyone to practice Krishna consciousness, devotional service to Lord Krishna. Of course, living in the association of Krishna’s devotees in a temple or ashrama makes it easier to practice devotional service. But if you’re determined, you can follow at home the teachings of Krishna consciousness and thus convert your home into a temple.
Spiritual life, like material life, means practical activity. The difference is that whereas we perform material activities for the benefit of ourselves or those we consider ours, we perform spiritual activities for the benefit of Lord Krishna, under the guidance of the scriptures and the spiritual master. The key is to accept the guidance of the scripture and the guru. Krishna declares in the Bhagavad-gita that a person can achieve neither happiness nor the supreme destination of life – going back to Godhead, back to Krishna – if he or she does not follow the injunctions that Krishna has given us in the Vedic scriptures. And how to follow the scriptural rules by engaging in practical service to the absolute truth, Krishna – that is explained by a bona fide spiritual master such as Srila Prabhupada. Without following the instructions of a spiritual master who is in an authorized chain of disciplic succession coming from Krishna Himself, we cannot make spiritual progress. The practices outlined here are the timeless practices of bhakti-yoga as given by the foremost spiritual master and exponent of Krishna consciousness in our time, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.
The purpose of spiritual knowledge is to bring us closer to God, or Krishna. Krishna says in the Bhagavad-gita (18.55), bhaktya mam abhijanati: “I can be known only by devotional service.” Knowledge guides us in proper action. Spiritual knowledge directs us to satisfy the desires of Krishna through practical engagements in His loving service. Without practical application, theoretical knowledge is of little value.
Spiritual knowledge is meant to direct us in all aspects of life. We should endeavor, therefore, to organize our lives in such a way as to follow Krishna’s teachings as far as possible. We should try to do our best, to do more than is simply convenient. Then it will be possible for us to rise to the transcendental plane of Krishna consciousness, even while living far from a temple.
Chanting the Hare Krishna Mantra
The first principle in devotional service is to chant the Hare Krishna maha-mantra (maha means “great”; mantra means “sound that liberates the mind from ignorance”)
Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare
You can chant these holy names of the Lord anywhere and at any time, but it is best to set a specific time of the day to regularly chant. Early morning hours are the best.
The chanting can be done in two ways: singing the mantra, called kirtana (usually done in a group and accompanied by musical instruments), or chanting the mantra to oneself, called japa (which literally means “to speak softly”). Concentrate on hearing the sound of the holy names. As you chant, pronounce the names clearly and distinctly, addressing Krishna in a prayerful mood. When your mind wanders, bring it back to the sound of the mantra. Chanting is a prayer to Krishna that means “O energy of the Lord [Hare], O all-attractive Lord [Krishna], O Supreme Enjoyer [Rama], please engage me in Your divine loving service.” The more attentively and sincerely we chant these names of God, the more spiritual progress we make.
Since God is all-powerful and all-merciful, He has kindly made it very easy for us to chant His names, and He has also invested all His powers in them. Therefore the names of God and God Himself are identical. This means that when we chant the holy names of Hare, Krishna and Rama we are directly associating with God and his transcendental potency, thus we are being purified. Therefore we should always try to chant with devotion and reverence. The Vedic literature states that Lord Krishna is personally dancing on our tongues when we chant His holy name.
When we chant alone, it is best to chant on japa beads (available from the “KrishnaStore” link on the bottom of any page of this website). This not only helps us fix our attention on the holy name, but it also helps us count the number of times we chant the mantra daily. Each strand of japa beads contains 108 small beads and one large bead, the head bead. Begin on a bead next to the head bead and gently roll it between the thumb and middle finger of your right hand as you chant the full Hare Krishna mantra. Then move to the next bead and repeat the process. In this way, chant on each of the 108 beads until you reach the head bead again. This is one “round” of japa. Then, without chanting on the head bead, reverse the beads and start your second round on the last bead you chanted on.
Initiated devotees vow before the spiritual master to chant at least sixteen rounds of the Hare Krishna mantra daily. But even if you can chant only one round a day, the principle is that once you commit yourself to chanting that round, you should try to complete it every day without fail. When you feel you can chant more, then increase the minimum number of rounds you chant each day – but don’t fall below that number. You can chant more than your fixed number, but you should maintain a set minimum each day. (Please note that the beads are sacred and therefore should never touch the ground or be put in an unclean place. To keep your beads clean and protected you can carry them in some type of bead bag, also available from the Krishna Store. If your handy with a needle and thread you can make one yourself.)
Aside from chanting japa, you can also sing the Lord’s holy names in kirtana. While you can perform kirtana individually, it is generally performed with others. A melodious kirtana with family or friends is sure to enliven everyone. Krishna devotees use traditional melodies and instruments, especially in the temple, but you can chant to any melody and use any musical instruments to accompany your chanting. As Lord Caitanya said, “There are no hard and fast rules for chanting Hare Krishna.” One thing you might want to do, however, is download some kirtana and japa audio from the “Free Audio” tab on the top of this website.
Setting Up A Sacred Space or Altar
You will likely find that your japa and kirtana are especially effective when done before an altar. Lord Krishna and His pure devotee like Srila Prabhupada are so kind and powerful that they can accept our devotion and worship even through their pictures. That is the difference between a conditioned soul / ordinary person and an advanced pure devotee. A fully liberated personality, or the supreme being, Krishna, is not limited or different from their form or name or thought. They are fully absolute and transcendental due to being fully liberated personalities. It is something like mailing a letter: You cannot mail a letter by placing it in just any box; you must use the mailbox authorized by the government. Similarly, we cannot imagine a picture of God and worship that, but we can worship the authorized picture of God, and Krishna accepts our worship through that picture or through his fully liberated pure devotee like Srila Prabhupada.
Setting up a sacred space or altar at home means inviting and receiving Krishna and His pure devotee as your most honored guests. Where and how should you set up the altar? It is really a offering of your own love and devotion, a sacred offering from your heart to them. that is the mood you should try to let your self be guided by. You can ask your self how you would seat a very exalted loved guest? An ideal place would be clean, and free from household disturbances. A simple alter you can make your self can consist of pictures you can download from this websites gallery and just place on a wall shelf, a mantelpiece, a corner table, or the top shelf of a bookcase etc. Be creative and use your own nature and feelings of devotion. You can decorate it with colorful cloth or flowers or some other beautiful things. Also you wouldn’t seat loved guests in your home and then ignore them; you’d provide a place for yourself to sit, too, where you could comfortably face them and enjoy their company. So don’t make your altar inaccessible.
What do you need for an altar? Here are some basic ideas:
1. A picture of Srila Prabhupada.
2. A picture of Lord Caitanya and His associates.
3. A picture of Sri Sri Radha-Krishna.
In addition, if you like to get fancy, you may want an altar cloth, water cups (one for each picture), candles with holders, a special plate for offering food, a small bell, incense, an incense holder, and fresh flowers, which you may offer in vases or simply place before each picture. And any other beautiful things you would like to decorate it with.
The first person we worship on the altar is the spiritual master. The spiritual master is not Krishna/God. Only God is God. But because the spiritual master is His dearmost servant, Krishna has empowered him, and Krishna accepts our offerings when we give them to the bona fide spiritual master. The spiritual master therefore should be offered the same respect that we like to give to Krishna because the spiritual master simply offers everything to Krishna. He links the disciple with Krishna and teaches him the process of bhakti-yoga. He is Krishna’s ambassador in the material world. When a president sends an ambassador to a foreign country, the ambassador receives the same respect as that accorded the president, and the ambassador’s words are as authoritative as the president’s. Similarly, we should respect the spiritual master as we would Krishna, and revere his words as we would His.
There are many types and levels of spiritual masters. The main spiritual master or guru is a guru like Srila Prabhupada, a fully self realized soul completely free from all defects of a mundane conditioned living entity. Srila Prabhupada says in his introduction to the Bhagavad-gita: “A person of the mundane world who is infected with four defects. A mundaner 1) is sure to commit mistakes, 2) is invariably illusioned, 3) has the tendency to cheat others and 4) is limited by imperfect senses. With these four imperfections, one cannot deliver perfect information of all-pervading knowledge. Vedic knowledge is not imparted by such defective living entities.” So we need to worship and give our offerings not to a conditioned soul that is imperfect like us, but to a real guru like Srila Prabhupada who is not on the material platform at all and is completely free from the 4 defects of the living entity as mentioned above. Such a real guru or spiritual master is also worthy of taking shelter of and giving us initiation into the chanting of the Hare Krishna Maha mantra. Srila Prabhupada defines the word initiation (or in Sanskrit the word is actually “Diksa”). According to the Caitanya-Caritamrita Madhya lila 4.111 “Diksa actually means initiating a disciple with transcendental knowledge by which he becomes freed from all material contamination”. So for someone to offer our worship to Krishna or impart (or awaken) realized transcendental knowledge in us they themselves must be fully on that transcendental platform of spiritual existence. It is said if a person is bound hands and feet he needs to find a person that is free to unbind him. So there are many types of guru’s that can help us on our path in spiritual life such as a friend that reminds us to stay fixed on the Krishna path and may encourage us to chant and follow all the rules and regulations of spiritual life. But the guru who’s picture is worthy of placing on an alter and is qualified to accept our offerings and love on behalf of Krishna is the one that is going to unbind us from our attachment to matter and our false ego and awaken in our hearts eternal attachment and love of Krishna must be a fully liberated soul like Srila Prabhupada. He can not be a conditioned soul like us, otherwise if he is also bound to material nature how can he free us and give us pure love of Krishna? Thus we must take advantage of all the books and audio that Srila Prabhupada has left for our study and to perfect our life! Simply by becoming very serious to read the original transcendental books and words left by the fully self realized guru’s like Srila Prabhupada then we will receive that Diksa (Divya-Jana) realized divine spiritual knowledge. It is simply waiting for us in the pages of Srila Prabhupada’s books!
Anyone who takes up the process of bhakti-yoga as a result of coming in contact with Prabhupada’s books or followers owes an immense debt of gratitude to Srila Prabhupada. Before Srila Prabhupada left India in 1965 to spread Krishna consciousness abroad, almost no one outside India knew anything about the practice of pure devotional service to Lord Krishna. Therefore, everyone who has learned of the process through his books and his audio recordings, or contact with his followers should offer respect to Srila Prabhupada. He is thus the main guru of us all. And is qualified to be on our alters and bless us with pure love of Krishna!
As you progress in bhakti-yoga, and start to follow the regulative principles (see the section below called “The Four Regulative Principles of Pure Devotional Life”), it is very helpful to accept formal initiation from a fully self realized Guru like Srila Prabhupada and become a full fledged disciple and devotee of Krishna.
The second picture on your altar should be one of the panca-tattva, Lord Caitanya and His four leading associates (Pictures are available for free download in the “Free art” tab on this website). Lord Caitanya is the incarnation of God for this age. He is Krishna Himself, descended in the form of His own devotee to teach us how to surrender to Him, specifically by chanting His holy names and performing other activities of bhakti-yoga. Lord Caitanya is the most merciful incarnation, because He makes it easy for anyone to attain love of God through the chanting of the Hare Krishna mantra.
And of course your altar should have a picture of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Sri Krishna, with His eternal consort, Srimati Radharani. Srimati Radharani is Krishna’s spiritual potency. She is devotional service personified, and devotees always take shelter of Her to learn how to serve Krishna.
You can arrange the pictures in a triangle, with the picture of Srila Prabhupada on the left, the picture of Lord Caitanya and His associates on the right, and the picture of Radha and Krishna, which, if possible, should be slightly larger than the others, on a small raised platform behind and in the center. Or you can hang the picture of Radha and Krishna on the wall above.
Cleanliness is essential in Deity worship. Remember, you wouldn’t neglect to clean the room of an important guest, and when you establish an altar you invite Krishna and His pure devotees to reside as the most exalted guests in your home. So that space should be kept clean. If you have water cups, rinse them out and fill them with fresh water often. Then place them conveniently close to the pictures. It is nice to offer fresh incense and flowers regularly, or any other nice gesture of love that you can think which you feel will be pleasing to the guru and Krishna.
Please try the things we’ve suggested so far. It’s very simple, really: If you try to love God, you’ll gradually realize how much He loves you. That’s the essence of bhakti-yoga.
Prasadam: How to Eat Spiritually
By His immense transcendental energies, Krishna can actually convert matter into spirit. If we place an iron rod in a fire, before long the rod becomes red hot and acts just like fire. In the same way, food prepared for and offered to Krishna with love and devotion becomes completely spiritualized. Such food is called Krishna prasadam, which means “the mercy of Lord Krishna.”
Eating prasadam is a fundamental practice of bhakti-yoga. In other forms of yoga one must artificially repress the senses, but the bhakti-yogi can engage his or her senses in a variety of pleasing spiritual activities, such as tasting delicious food offered to Lord Krishna. In this way the senses gradually become spiritualized and bring the devotee more and more transcendental pleasure by being engaged in devotional service. Such spiritual pleasure far surpasses any material experience.
Lord Caitanya said of prasadam, “Everyone has tasted these foods before. However, now that they have been prepared for Krishna and offered to Him with devotion, these foods have acquired extraordinary tastes and uncommon fragrances. Just taste them and see the difference in the experience! Apart from the taste, even the fragrance pleases the mind and makes one forget any other fragrance. Therefore, it should be understood that the spiritual nectar of Krishna’s lips must have touched these ordinary foods and imparted to them all their transcendental qualities.”
Eating only food offered to Krishna is above vegetarianism. In itself, being a vegetarian is not enough; after all, even pigeons and monkeys are vegetarians. But when we go beyond vegetarianism to a diet of prasadam, our eating becomes helpful in achieving the goal of human life-reawakening the soul’s original relationship with God. In the Bhagavad-gita Lord Krishna says that unless one eats only food that has been offered to Him in devotion, one will suffer the reactions of karma (even vegetarians).
How to Prepare and Offer Prasadam
As you walk down the supermarket aisles selecting the foods you will offer to Krishna, you need to know what is offerable and what is not. In the Bhagavad-gita, Lord Krishna states, “If one offers Me with love and devotion a leaf, a flower, a fruit, or water, I will accept it.” From this verse it is understood that we can offer Krishna foods prepared from milk products, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and grains. (there are many Hare Krishna cookbooks in the “KrishnaStore” on the bottom of any page on this website) Meat, fish, and eggs are not offerable. And a few vegetarian items are also to be avoided – garlic and onions, for example, which are in the mode of darkness. (Hing, or asafetida, is a tasty substitute for them in cooking and is available at most Indian groceries or health food stores.) Nor can you offer to Krishna coffee, tea or energy drinks that contain caffeine. If you like these beverages, purchase them in their caffeine-free form.
While shopping, be aware that you may find meat, fish, and egg products mixed with other foods; so try to read labels carefully. For instance, some brands of yogurt and sour cream contain gelatin, a substance made from the horns, hooves, and bones of slaughtered animals. Also, make sure the cheese you buy contains no animal rennet, an enzyme extracted from the stomach tissues of slaughtered calves. Many hard cheese sold in America contains rennet, so be careful about any cheese you can’t verify is vegetarian having no animal rennet.
Also, if possible, avoid foods cooked by nondevotees. According to the subtle laws of nature, the consciousness of the cook saturates the food that they prepare. This is why we like eating food offered to us by persons that love or care for us and was cooked in good consciousness and when we eat food prepared by disturbed or miserable persons we feel disturbed and unhappy. Food thus becomes an agent for subtle influences on your consciousness. The principle is the same as that at work with a painting: a painting is not simply a collection of strokes on a canvas but an expression of the artist’s state of mind, which affects the viewer. So if you eat food cooked by nondevotees – employees working in a factory, for example – then you’re sure to absorb a dose of materialism and karma. So as far as possible use only fresh, natural, raw ingredients.
In preparing food, cleanliness is a very important principle. Nothing impure should be offered to God; so keep your kitchen clean. While preparing food, do not taste it, for you are cooking the meal not for yourself but for the pleasure of Krishna. If possible get a unused new plate and cup that will be used for all your food offerings and arrange portions of the food on this special plate. No one but the Lord should use this plate and cup. The easiest way to offer food is simply to pray, “My dear Lord Krishna, please accept this food” and to chant each of the following prayers three times while ringing a bell (if time is short due to a heavy work schedule etc. then simply chant the Hare Krishna Mahamantra a few times with love and devotion):
1. Prayer to Srila Prabhupada:
nama om visnu-padaya Krishna-presthaya bhu-tale srimate bhaktivedanta-svamin iti namine namas te sarasvate deve gaura-vani-pracarinenirvisesa-sunyavadi-pascatya-desa-tarine
“I offer my respectful obeisances unto His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, who is very dear to Lord Krishna on this Earth, having taken shelter at His lotus feet. Our respectful obeisances are unto you, O spiritual master, servant of Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami. You are kindly preaching the message of Lord Caitanyadeva and delivering the Western countries, which are filled with impersonalism and voidism.”
2. Prayer to Lord Caitanya:
namo maha-vadanyaya Krishna-prema-pradaya te Krishnaya Krishna-caitanya-namne gaura-tvise namah
“O most munificent incarnation! You are Krishna Himself appearing as Sri Krishna Caitanya Mahaprabhu. You have assumed the golden color of Srimati Radharani, and You are widely distributing pure love of Krishna. We offer our respectful obeisances unto You.”
3. Prayer to Lord Krishna:
namo brahmanya-devaya go-brahmana-hitaya ca jagad-dhitaya Krishnaya govindaya namo namah
“I offer my respectful obeisances unto Lord Krishna, who is the worshipable Deity for all brahmanas, the well-wisher of the cows and the brahmanas, and the benefactor of the whole world. I offer my repeated obeisances to the Personality of Godhead, known as Krishna and Govinda.”
Remember that the real purpose of preparing and offering food to the Lord is to show your devotion and gratitude to Him. Krishna accepts your devotion, not just the physical offering itself, your love and devotion is the most important ingredient. Lord Krishna is complete in Himself – He doesn’t need anything – but out of His immense kindness He allows us to offer food to Him so that we can develop our love for Him.
If possible after, placing the offering of food before your alter, wait at least five minutes for Him to partake of the preparations and your devotion/bhakti. Then you should transfer the food from the special offering plates and wash the dishes and utensils you used for the offering. Now you and any guests may eat the prasadam or spiritualized food. While you eat, try to appreciate the spiritual value of the food. Remember that because Krishna has accepted it, it is nondifferent from Him, and therefore by eating it you will become purified or krishnafied.
Everything you offer on your altar becomes prasadam, the mercy of the Lord. Flowers, incense, the water, the food – everything you offer for the Lord’s pleasure becomes spiritualized. You can even offer new clothing you get to Krishna and Prabhupada. You can offer pretty much anything as long as it is clean and new. The Lord blesses the offerings, and thus they become nondifferent from Him. They cary the transcendental Krishna vibration and so the more you offer to Krishna the more the whorl becomes transcendental this is the whole reason why we do devotional service – so that we fully enter into the spiritual relm. Even if we get something for someone else we can first offer it to Krishna in our minds or actually bringing it home and placing it before our alter and chanting the above mantras. Then when we distribute it to others they will become purified by receiving this prasadam whether they know it or not. Distribution of prasadam will act weather the receiver knows it is prasadam or not.
The Four Regulative Principles of A Pure Devotional Life
For those very very serious about progressing in Krishna consciousness one should try to avoid the following four sinful activities as best as one can:
1. Eating meat, fish, or eggs. These foods are saturated with the bad Karma of killing and the modes of passion and ignorance. Therefore they cannot be offered to the Lord. A person who eats these foods participates in a conspiracy of violence against helpless animals and thus stops his spiritual progress dead in its tracks.
2. Gambling. Gambling invariably puts one into anxiety and fuels greed, envy, and anger.
3. The use of intoxicants. Drugs, alcohol, and tobacco, as well as any drinks or foods containing caffeine, cloud the mind, overstimulate the senses, and make it dificult to understand or follow the principles of bhakti-yoga.
4. Illicit sex. This is sex outside of marriage or sex in marriage for any purpose other than procreation. Sex for bodily/sensual pleasure makes one identify more with the body, and become more lusty and materialistic. In this lusty, sensual, bodily consciousness it is difficult to stay on the pure spiritual platform of selfless love of Krishna. The scriptures teach that sex is the most powerful force binding us to the material world. For most people this principal is the hardest to give up because it is such a natural impulse and a way we have learned to express our love for our partner. But we must remember that since we are not our bodies and real happiness comes from within, if we really want that happiness that does not go away or have any end then it must come from another platform then that relating to the body which is temporary. Real pleasure is of the soul. But since we have to be who we are and not make a show, many people are not able to completely give this up right away. The process to do this is by experiencing a higher taste (yes there is pleasure that is much greater then that derived from sexual union from a loved one). We will get a higher taste by our sincerely chanting the Hare Krishna Mantra and following these principals as best as we can. Gradually, as one develops a higher taste, one will naturally give up the inferior pleasures to embrace the higher more fulfilling pleasures on the transcendental platform.
Engaging in Practical Devotional Service
Everyone must do some kind of work, but if you work only for yourself you must accept the karmic reactions of that work. As Lord Krishna says in the Bhagavad-gita Chapter 3 text 9, “Work done as a sacrifice for Visnu [Krishna] has to be performed. Otherwise work binds one to the material world.”
You needn’t change your occupation, except if you’re now engaged in a sinful job such as working as a butcher or bartender. If you’re a writer, write for Krishna; if you’re an artist, create for Krishna; if you’re a secretary, type for Krishna. You may also directly help in a Krishna temple in your spare time, and you should sacrifice some of the fruits of your work by contributing a portion of your earnings to help propagate Krishna consciousness to others. Or you can simply download the ebook versions on this web site and email them to others. There is also a wide network of devotees who gather in each other’s homes for chanting, worship, and study.
Additional Devotional Principles
There are many more devotional practices that can help you become Krishna conscious. Here are two vital ones:
Studying Srila Prabhupada’s books. Srila Prabhupada dedicated much of his time to translating books such as the Bhagavad-Gita and many other important sanskrit text into english for the betterment of the world. Hearing the words or reading the writings of a realized spiritual master is an essential spiritual practice. So try to set aside some time every day to read Srila Prabhupada’s books. We have made all of Srila Prabhupada’s original books available for free download on this website and we also have a store where you can buy hard copies of these books and more.
Associating with devotees. Srila Prabhupada established the Hare Krishna movement to give people in general the chance to associate with devotees of the Lord. This is the best way to gain faith in the process of Krishna consciousness and become enthusiastic in devotional service. Conversely, maintaining intimate connections with nondevotees slows one’s spiritual progress. So try to visit a Hare Krishna center nearest you as often as possible.
The beauty of Krishna consciousness is that you can take as much as you’re ready for. Krishna Himself promises in the Bhagavad-gita chapter 2 text 40 “There is no loss or diminution in this endeavor, and even a little advancement on this path protects one from the most fearful type of danger.” So bring Krishna into your daily life, and we guarantee you’ll feel the benefit.