Caitanya Chandra dasa's Posts (10)

(This is part of a series of articles about health, you can see the other installments on the website: https://www.gettingthemercy.com/blog)

Very few people are going to disagree that sugar is bad for our health. Srila Prabhupada was eating white sugar in different preparations, but in small amounts (different from what most of us tend to do). The problem with sugar is that the body needs a lot of different minerals and other nutrients to metabolize it (it’s quite a complex process executed by the liver). Natural sources of sugar, like sugarcane and dates are also rich in minerals, as well as fibers, therefore the body gets what it needs. When the sugar is refined, such nutrients are lost, and the body has to sacrifice its own nutrients to metabolize the sugar, which leads to different problems. In other words, Krsna created fruits and vegetables rich in sugar as a package that contains what the body needs to digest it. Modern civilization dismantles the package and takes only the sugar, and thus everyone starts to become diseased.

If we eat a little bit of sugar in some preparation rich in nutrients (like when we take a burfi after prasadam, for example), it’s not going to do any harm, but if we consistently exaggerate in preparations that have a lot of sugar and little nutrients, we are going to face serious problems later.

The worst possible way to consume sugar is when you take something very rich in sugar by itself, as a snack or refreshment, and not as part of a meal. For example, many devotees have the habit of drinking sprite or other soft-drinks. Sprite is just a combination of sugar and citric acid. A 600 ml bottle has about 60 grams of sugar, which is already far more than we are supposed to consume in a day. Someone that got the habit of drinking it when he feels thirsty, can end up ingesting more than 100 grams of sugar per day just from the Sprites!

Sugar can very easily cause weight gain. Most of the obesity we see all over the world is because of the increase in the consumption of sugar. Why does sugar cause more weight grain than a piece of bread, for example? The answer is in the composition.

Table sugar is composed of a combination of fructose and glucose. Although considered a type of sugar, fructose is metabolized by the body in quite a distinct way. No cell in the body can use fructose directly, therefore it needs to be converted into fat by the liver. This is quite a long and complicated process.

The first problem is that in order to convert fructose, the liver has to execute a complicated process that involves the use of minerals like magnesium and zinc. Sugar doesn’t contain any minerals, therefore the body has to use it’s own minerals in the process, causing deficiencies. Minerals are one of the biggest deficiencies in modern diets, because commercial agriculture depletes the soils. To eat foods that deplete minerals that are already in short supply in the body is not a good idea.

The second problem is that once converted, the fructose is going to be stored as abdominal fat (which is the most dangerous type of fat stored in the belly, around the vital organs). Not only too much fructose causes accumulation of abdominal fat, but it also causes fat liver, and even non-alcoholic cirrhosis, a dangerous condition.

When one eats a small quantity of fructose, like in a fruit, for example, this is not a problem, since the body would store a very small amount of fat that would just be used later. Sugar, however, is usually eaten in much bigger portions, resulting in the accumulation of the most dangerous type of fat.

Third problem is the associated glucose. Sugar contains glucose in it’s refined form, therefore the absorption is extraordinarily fast. When one drinks a bottle of sprite, the glucose is very quickly absorbed and injected in the bloodstream. This forces the body to release a huge amount of insulin, so it can be absorbed by the cells. Insulin increases hunger, and at the same time blocks the burning of fat. These two factors in combination assure that whatever you eat alongside the sugar will be stored as yet more fat. Over time, the fat accumulates and one becomes obese. Most cases of obesity are associated with excess sugar.

There is also a fourth factor, that is perhaps even worse: high glucose in the bloodstream is highly oxidative. In other words, it basically rusts our body from the inside. Not only does it cause premature aging, but it also attacks our veins and arteries. We can see practically that people with diabetes have serious problems related to the vascular system, which results in damage to the kidneys, eyes, circulatory problems in the hands and feet, etc., problems that are directly caused from high levels of glucose in the blood, a serious problem for diabetics. A non-diabetic person will not face such serious problems because the body can respond to the increase in the glucose levels by releasing more insulin, but still the glucose can cause a lot of damage, especially to the arteries, which over time result in clogs. Many think that clogs in the arteries are caused by cholesterol, but actually the cholesterol is a response from the body to the damage caused by the glucose, just like firefighters are a response to a fire, and not the cause of it.

The antidote for the oxidative damage caused by the glucose is antioxidants, that are found in fruits and vegetables. Therefore, to reduce the damage caused by the glucose, we need to act on two fronts:

By making it be absorbed by the body slowly, which means to consume foods with a lower glycemic index, where the starches and sugar are combined with fibers and other nutrients.
By eating plenty of antioxidants, which implies a diet rich in vegetables and fruits.

By doing these two things in combination, the damage is contained and glucose can feed our cells instead of poisoning our body.

We can see that sugar is both high-glycemic (being absorbed very quickly) and completely devoid of antioxidants. This combination makes it very damaging for our body. It’s better to limit our consumption of sugar to natural sources, like fruits. Different from table sugar (which is the concentrated, isolated form) fruits are a package that includes fibers, vitamins, minerals and a good amount of the all-important antioxidants. Two observations about fruits: it is always much better to eat fruits whole, instead of making juices (which takes out the important fibers) and that although fruits are healthy, they can still have adverse effects if one eats two much of them.

One alert about fruit juices is that the only acceptable fruit juices are the ones you make at home. Industrial fruit juices are stripped from all the fibers and most of the nutrients are destroyed by the pasteurization process and contact with the air. In fact, orange juice loses its taste and color completely during the processing, becoming a white liquid that needs to be mixed with citric acid (which is actually produced from black mold) and other flavouring and coloring agents so it can again look and tastes like orange juice. Industrial fruit juice is no better than Pepsi or Sprite. If you don't drink Sprite, you are also not going to want to drink it.

Apart from fruits, there is also the option of using honey (provided you can get “real” honey, not the processed type that is sold nowadays under many brands). Chemically, honey may be similar to sugar, but the way it acts in the body is very different. Many modern studies point out that honey has a positive effect on the body and the Ayurveda recommends it as a means to preserve health and increase longevity. Different from white sugar, honey contains significant quantities of antioxidants, enzymes, and minerals, and is an antibacterial agent that acts against microbes and germs, preventing different diseases (if you put honey in an open wound and cover it with a bandage, it will cure much faster, for example).

Another good option are dates. They are so sweet that they can also be used as a natural sweetener in many circumstances. However, just as honey, they contain several important nutrients, that (in the right quantities) makes them beneficial for our health. By using small quantities of honey or dates instead of sugar, we are taking out something that is harmful to our health and adding something that (in moderate amounts) is actually beneficial.

Not only is sugar unhealthy, but it is highly addictive, messing up with the chemistry of our brains. Every time we eat sugar, opioids and dopamine are released. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter, a key part of the reward circuit of the brain. Every time we eat sugar, dopamine is released and we experience pleasure, which in turn leads us to want to re-experience it. Research shows that sugar can be as addictive as drugs like cocaine, leading to cravings and compulsive behaviour. We can practically see that many people become addicted to Oreos, to milk shakes, to Sprite and so on, and for most of them it is very difficult to stop.

Human beings are accustomed to consume sugar in the form of fruits and honey since antiquity. The point is that, as explained, the sugar in fruits is not concentrated like white sugar, and therefore the effects are mild. Although many people like to eat fruits, we don’t see people addicted to apples or oranges, for example. Fruits are natural foods, while white sugar is actually a chemical substance. In this case, the problem is not in the substance, but in eating it in concentrated form.

The addictive nature of sugar started to be debated in the 1970's, with the publishing of the book "Pure white and deadly" by John Yudkin. From there, more and more evidence piled-up. Fortunately, unlike heavier drugs, consumption of sugar doesn't result in permanent changes in the function of the brain. Just as it's easy to become addicted to sugar, it's also not so difficult to break one's addiction. As soon as one stops completely with white sugar and changes to a diet rich in nutritive food (vegetables, beans, nuts, low-glycemic carbohydrates, milk and butter, etc), the cravings for sugar diminish or even completely disappear in a span of a few weeks. One just needs to have willpower to go through this withdrawal period.

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A few devotees have been contacting me asking about what to do if we become infected by this disease, since I have been battling what it seems to be a coronavirus infection for the past few days. I decided to write this post sharing what I researched about it. I hope it may help devotees that find themselves in the same situation.

The coronavirus is spreading and appears there's not a way to stop it. Quarantines all over the world are slowing down the spread of the virus, but still we have more cases every day. Epidemiologists already work with the possibility that the virus will stop spreading quickly only when we develop a herd immunity against it, which means, when most people become infected and develop resistance against it. It seems like a plausible scenario, that this virus will just stay with us, with new surges occurring every year, much like the swine-flu virus, that is still with us, every year infecting new people.

Throughout the world, a number of devotees have already been infected. A few became seriously sick and there were even two deaths. Here I share the bits of information I was able to collect about the virus and what we can do to avoid becoming seriously sick if infected. These are the tips that helped me to avoid the worst symptoms of this disease, and I hope can help you in case you also become infected by it.

First point is that there is no reason to panic. From all the people that become infected, about half don't show any noticeable symptoms. From the other half, about 80% to 90% show only moderate flu-like symptoms (sore throat, lost sense of smell, headache, pains in the body, pain in the joints and in the eyes, moderate fever, mental confusion, tiredness, dry cough, nausea, etc.). Only a minority, 5 to 10% show serious symptoms (a type of severe pneumonia that may require hospitalization).

This is a new virus, therefore nobody have immunity against it. There is no treatment and no vaccine, therefore the only thing to protect us (apart from Krsna) is our own immunologic systems. Anyone that is promising some miraculous prevention or cure is just lying or under illusion.

The most doctors can do is to help people with the most severe symptoms to breath, giving them oxygen or putting them on ventilators. In most hospitals, they are not even accepting people that show only light symptoms, reserving their resources to the most serious cases. As long you are being able to breath, they will just send you home

That's why the statistics appear to be so scary. In most countries there are no sufficient tests available, and thus only the most severe cases are being tested and included in the official statistics. The numbers may show a 10% death rate, for example (like in Italy) but that’s because numbers exclude the other 90%, cases of people that have only light symptoms and are thus sent home without being tested.

Nobody knows exactly why only some people become seriously sick. There is however three things that became a consensus amongst doctors based on statistical studies:

1- Older people (especially over 70) have a much higher risk of becoming seriously ill and dying

2- People with diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, obesity or high blood sugar are also at risk, even if younger.

3- Patients taking chemotherapy, immunosuppressant drugs, or with other conditions that result in weakened immune systems seems to be the most vulnerable.

Therefore, the first priority should be to protect our elders. Once sick, they are under a great risk of losing their lives. The best approach for devotees in their 70's or 80's is to just stay at home and avoid personal contact with potentially infected people until a vaccine is available.

The second priority should be to strengthen our immune system, so we have a better chance of avoiding the most serious symptoms if we do become infected. Here there are a few tips to strengthen your immune system:

1- Avoid sugar, junk food, soft-drinks, commercial juices, and simple carbohydrates in general (this is the main factor that leads to high-blood sugar, insulin resistance, diabetes, obesity and other risk factors. This seem to be the main factor in the cases of young people that become seriously ill)

2- Eat a lot of vegetables, fruits, nuts and high-quality food (this provides nutrients to strengthen our immune system, which will help to fight any disease)

3- If you are overweight, try to lose a few kilos (there is an article I wrote about this: https://www.gettingthemercy.com/post/health-how-to-lose-weight-in-a-sustainable-way-without-suffering-1 )

4- Lemon, ginger and turmeric can also help, but they are NOT going to prevent you from becoming sick.

5- Countries that are having the highest percentage of serious cases (like Italy, Spain, the US and UK) have something in common: they are all from the northern hemisphere and thus coming from the winter. In comparison, countries from the south hemisphere, where the summer is just ending (like Brazil) are showing relatively few deaths despite also having a great number of cases. This suggests that Vitamin D levels may also be an important factor (which is not surprising, since vitamin D is such an essential part of our immune system). Fortunately, vitamin D is easy to supplement, since it's available in tablets. A single tablet of 5000 IU per day should solve the problem. Prefer supplements that combine Vitamin D and K2.

6- Magnesium and zinc are also essential for the immune system. It's recommendable to ingest 450mg of magnesium and 30mg of zinc per day as a precaution. This equals three tables of a ZMA supplement. Vitamin C can also help, but as a secondary measure.

7- Intermittent fasting, combined with a healthy diet is a good way to improve our immune system, preparing for an eventual infection. You can find plenty of material on the internet about it. You can try a regime of 16/8 (eat for 8 hours and fast for 16), which requires only small modifications on one's routine, but gives good benefits. This is also a good way to lose weight.

8- If possible, take a sunbath for a couple of hours every day. This helps to make vitamin D and to strengthen the immune system in general. Do some light exercise.

If you think you are already sick:

1- Quarantine yourself! This is a very infectious disease. Even trained doctors taking all precautions are becoming infected when treating their patients. Avoid all contact with other devotees to avoid spreading it in the community.

2- Rest! This coronavirus seems to be an opportunist virus that thrives when we are tired or stressed. This explains why there is such a high mortality rate amongst doctors: many become infected and continue working in stressful conditions, which leads to very serious cases. The classical pattern seems to be that one "becomes better before becoming worse". In other words: one has light symptoms in the first few days, becomes better for a short time and then the condition becomes worse. If one just rests continuously for the recommended period of 14 days, one has a much lower chance of developing the most serious symptoms.

3- Continue taking the supplements of vitamin D, magnesium and zinc. Some preliminary studies point that 2 to 4 grams of vitamin C per day can also help.

4- Stop completely with any kind of junk food and avoid all refined carbohydrates (as mentioned, these foods elevate the blood sugar, which seems to be the main risk factor on this disease). Increase the intake of vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes and other high-quality foods. Prefer soups and preparations that are easy to digest. Lemon, ginger and turmeric can also help, but as a secondary measure.

5- Don't fast. Keep a regular diet, eating three meals a day at regular times. Don’t overeat. Fasting can help treat many diseases (especially bacterial infections), but it's a consensus among specialists that it is not positive in the case of the coronavirus. The main priority should be to provide the body with the necessary nutrients.

6- Don’t exercise! Save all your energy to battle the disease. At most, do some light tasks or a very light walk. Even if the symptoms disappeared for a few days, continue resting until you complete the 14 days. As mentioned, in this disease one usually has two waves of symptoms. When we feel better is usually because the second wave is coming.

This is what I have to share. Hope it can help.

Your servant,
Caitanya Chandra dasa

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This article is a combination of a few thoughts I got from a class by Madhavananda Prabhu, and a few personal realizations.
 
Our movement has two sides: one side is the institution, a kind of impersonal entity, the other are the devotees. When we look from the institutional side, our movement is not so different from other organized religious groups. It is important since it's the vehicle created by Srila Prabhupada to spread Krsna Consciousness, but just as other organized religious groups, it involves egos, politics, a certain struggle for power and so on. It's much better than many other groups, we can tell, but still, it's far from perfect. There are problems and we need to learn how to live with them if we want to go somewhere.
 
Organized religion is necessary for the enlightenment of the general public. It may not be perfect, but it is necessary. To try to abolish organized religion is a type of anarchist mentality that is influenced by the mode of ignorance, and don't bring any good result. It may be difficult to believe, but Lord Caitanya had to deal with many of the same problems we may complain about regarding "the institution" when he was living in Puri.
 
During these pastimes, he was going daily to receive darshan of Lord Jagannatha and was attending the Ratha Yatras and other festivals. The temple was part of his life, despite the problems. First time Lord Caitanya visited the temple, the pandas wanted to beat Him up because he fell down to the ground paying dandavats (which is not allowed in the strict code of rules followed in the temple). They didn't allow Haridasa Thakura, as well as Rupa and Sanatana Goswami in the temple. Being God, he could have started a revolution to overthrow the management, but instead he just followed the rules. He supported the managers of the temple, despite their shortcomings. It may be hard to believe, but God supports organized religion, even when the leaders are not perfect.
 
That's actually a noticeable difference between Indian culture and western culture. In traditional Indian culture, people are trained to respect authorities (like the teachers, father, mother, older brothers, etc.) regardless of their imperfections. In western culture however we tend to have a puffed-up mentality: if the authority is not perfect (according to our own standards), we don't want to follow. This is something that constricts our progress, since the whole Vedic concept of spiritual life is based on learning from authorities.
 
Another problem with rebelling against the leaders is that they may decide to leave and we may end-up in their place. To be a manager is not a very good position for one aspiring to progress in spiritual life. Considering that in ISKCON we usually don't receive salaries, it's not a very advantageous position for material success either. There are only two classes of persons that can execute a managerial position without harm for their spiritual life: a) one that has a Ksatriya nature (and qualities such as power, morality, integrity, etc.) and can thus be happy serving by managing and taking care of people and b) the pure devotee, that can do anything for Krsna. If you don’t fit in any of the two options, it's much more intelligent to assist and cooperate with the leaders that are already there doing this inglorious service than to try to take their place.
 
So, on the one hand we need organized religion and we need to follow authorities, but on the other hand we must also develop sufficient brain matter to be able to navigate the negative aspects of the institution. One problem with organized religion in general is that it tends to focus more in the rituals than on people. We need to be able to do our service and offer our contribution, but at the same conserve our individuality, otherwise we may end being swallowed by the impersonal aspects.
 
To counter that, we should have our private space, our circle of intimate friends, a place where we can cultivate human relations, where we fell nourished. People that abandon the institution tend to gradually abandon Krsna Consciousness, while the ones that become too much absorbed in the impersonal aspects of the institution may end-up becoming fanatics, that don't usually stay for very long either.
 
The secret is to be able to be a team-player, cooperating with other devotees, performing our service and doing our part in the cooperative effort, but at the same time keep our private space and our circle of intimate friends. There are so many nice, sweet devotees in our movement. If you can't mention at least ten names, I'm sorry but you are missing out. To cultivate friendship with like-minded devotees is one of the most important aspects of spiritual life. This is our safety net. The institution may not help you when you have someone sick in the family, but the devotees will. The institution may not bring you back to Godhead, but the devotees certainly can.
 
One of the biggest secrets in spiritual life is exactly this: to be able to combine our participation in the institution with solid relationships with like-minded devotees. By doing that, we can have the best of both worlds. By keeping this equilibrium, we can flourish in spiritual life, despite obstacles in dealing with "the institution" or with imperfect authorities. As we evolve, we can become more useful in helping others to become Krsna Conscious.
 
Lord Caitanya Himself gave this example when living in Jagannatha Puri, by simultaneously being engaged in the activities related to the temple and having intimate dealings with His intimate associates. One that can follow this advice, can be much stronger in his spiritual life, maintaining his progress and at the same time being able to do something for others.
 
Devotees that are not capable of doing that, end-up usually becoming too dependent on the institution, expecting that the institution will maintain them, and the institution may not be very competent in doing so. We can see that many, or maybe most of the devotees that abandon Krsna Consciousness do it with a very heavy heart, after having some experience when they felt neglected or offended. One that don't have a good safety net, will fall straight to the ground in such a situation, which can easily have fatal consequences.
 
We need to learn the art of being alone in the crowd, working inside the group, but at the same time maintaining our individuality. Krsna likes individuality, because individuality brings variety. The goal is not to extinguish our individuality and become one with the group, but to conserve our individuality, using it to serve Krsna and develop love for Him.
 
This article was originally published on my website. You can read more on:
https://www.gettingthemercy.com/blog
 
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Working together: Unity in diversity

We can't demand to have the association of only pure devotees in this material world, especially if we are not pure devotees ourselves. We can read in Srila Prabhupada Lilamrta that Srila Prabhupada was not rejecting anybody. Even the lowest person, if he had some sincerity, some propensity to do some service, however small, Srila Prabhupada would accept and engage him. He would "fan the spark" until it became a big fire, capable of incinerating one's contaminations. Similarly, we should also see the good qualities of others and try to engage them in Krsna’s service, according to their natural inclinations. To those who are newer, we can teach (especially through our own example) and engage them in different services. To those who are more or less on the same platform, we can offer our sincere friendship and cooperation, and we can also engage the ones who are senior by inviting them to give classes, to lead kirtan, to lead different programs, and so on. If we act perfectly ourselves, relationship problems with others are going to be rare.

ISKCON is becoming a very big movement. In the beginning, the system was that everybody would renounce everything, go live in the temples, and strive to preach and to become pure devotees. Of course, this is the goal; we can see in Srila Prabhupada's purports, especially in Srimad Bhagavatam and Sri Caitanya Caritamrta, that he is always speaking about the highest principles: how to get detached from this world and become attached to Krsna. For example, in Sri Caitanya Caritamrta (Antya 3.101, purport) he wrote: 

"We must always remember that a devotee’s life is one of vairagya-vidya, or renunciation and knowledge. Therefore all devotees are warned not to live unnecessarily luxurious lives at the cost of others. Grhasthas living within the jurisdiction of the temple must be especially careful not to imitate karmis by acquiring opulent clothing, food and conveyances. As far as possible, these should be avoided. A member of the temple, whether grhastha, brahmacari or sannyasi, must practice a life of renunciation, following in the footsteps of Haridasa Thakura and the six Gosvamis. Otherwise, because maya is very strong, at any time one may become a victim of maya and fall down from spiritual life".

We have purports like this all over Srila Prabhupada's books, teaching that devotees should be renounced, pure, have very good sadhana, be very active in service, and so on. He showed us the way, how to become pure devotees, but it’s not that everyone will be able to immediately follow this path. We have all types of persons joining ISKCON nowadays. Many of Srila Prabhupada’s disciples narrate that when Srila Prabhupada was present, he was pushing everybody with his personal energy, and because of this, all devotees would be empowered to do big feats. Nowadays it may be a little more difficult because this push is not there, but on the other hand, we have so many persons joining, ISKCON is becoming very big. In Srila Prabhupada's times there were a few thousand ISKCON devotees, nowadays we probably already have more than a million, and we should grow much more. For that, we should be able to accommodate persons who are not exactly pure devotees, but have some sincerity and can agree to follow and serve to some degree. 

We must find this balance, how to be strict with ourselves, but accommodating with others, how to help everyone who comes in contact with us to get closer to Krsna, without lowering our own personal standards. Srila Prabhupada was doing like that. In the beginning, he had a few youths living with him in the first storefront; some of them would sleep there, hear the class, take prasadam and then go out to eat in cafeterias, to meet their girlfriends or some other nonsense, but Srila Prabhupada was not rejecting them, he was engaging everyone. And eventually many of them became sannyasis, gurus, and leaders. We need to learn from him.

This is an excerpt of the book "Getting the Mercy", about book distribution. You can download the book or read more on:
https://www.gettingthemercy.com

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In the Bhagavad-Gita, Krsna discusses many different subjects. He starts with sankhya-yoga, the empirical knowledge that “I'm not this body”, the difference between spirit and matter. He also explains about Himself, God, and how we can get closer to Him while executing our prescribed duties. That's karma-yoga: mainly the third, fourth and fifth chapters. Karma-yoga means to remain in our material occupations and fulfill our duties, but to offer the fruits of our activities to Krsna. In one sense that's a preliminary process, but it is very important. It gives us a simple process from where to start.

For example, we have to eat. We hear that we should eat only prasadam, and strictly speaking, prasadam is when you cook for the deity, for the pleasure of the Lord, with elevated standards. At the same time, we can't eat only in the temple, we also need to eat at home. So, what should we do? If one still doesn’t have this mentality of cooking solely for the pleasure of the Lord, then he can cook what he wants to cook, following the proper standards, but before eating, offer to the Lord. In other words, even if one is not yet on a pure platform, at least he can offer the fruits to the Lord, following the guidance of superior authorities. That's one example of karma yoga: It may not be pure devotion yet, but it's a good start.

Karma-yoga is already done without expectation: one just offers the fruits to the Lord, without expecting any material recompense in return. In contrast with demigod worship, that is normally conducted as a kind of business, in karma-yoga we are already on the level of just wanting to please Krsna. That's why Srila Prabhupada doesn't make much distinction between karma-yoga and bhakti-yoga in his purports, translating both as "devotional service". In one sense there is no difference: they are just different steps in the same stairway.

But there is a subtle difference between karma-yoga and, in the strict sense, pure bhakti-yoga, pure devotional service. In karma-yoga we are still attached to engage in particular activities, so we keep executing our duties, but the fruits are dedicated to Krsna. Pure bhakti-yoga is a little bit different: we don't do what we want to do, we do what Krsna wants us to do. This demands a higher level of surrender: from the beginning to the end, it's for the satisfaction of the Lord, without any other consideration.

We can understand this from the example of Arjuna in the battle of Kurukshetra. If Arjuna would fight to get the kingdom, riches, and power, because he wanted to win the fight, and then, in the end, he would dedicate the fruits to Krsna, constructing temples, doing sacrifices, etc. that would be karma-yoga. But we see that right from the beginning Arjuna didn't want to fight: he would prefer to go to the forest or to live as a beggar. Yet, after hearing the Bhagavad-Gita, he fought with all his ability, not because he wanted, but because that was Krsna’s desire. Krsna told him: I want you to fight, not because you want to win the kingdom, but for Me, that's what is going to please Me.

That's the subtle difference between karma yoga and bhakti yoga. Bhakti-yoga is higher, but it's hard. We should be detached, but at the same time we also need maturity, because without maturity it becomes imitation: "I want to be a pure devotee, I want to be important, let me just abandon everything and surrender!". If someone tries to renounce with this mentality, out of frustration, or desire for fame and recognition, while still attached, he may do it for a few months, or maybe even for a year or two, but eventually he will just give up. This kind of imitation is not very valuable. In fact, that is precisely what Krsna tells Arjuna not to do.

Maturity means that we are doing something for the right reasons and, at the same time, we are sure about what we are doing. That's why Krsna says “mam ekam saranam vraja” (just surrender unto Me) in the end of Bhagavad-gita, not in the beginning. First, we need to understand the whole Bhagavad-gita and practice it, starting from "I'm not the body", then karma-yoga, then everything else, up to the point that we become detached and mature enough to be able to fully surrender to Krsna.

sarva-dharman parityajya
mam ekam saranam vraja
aham tvam sarva-papebhyo
moksayisyami ma sucah

"Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reactions. Do not fear." (Bg. 18.66)

However, sarva-dharman parityajya is not exactly the conclusion of the Bhagavad-Gita. There is something that comes after that. The ultimate conclusion of the Bhagavad-Gita comes two verses later:

For one who explains this supreme secret to the devotees, pure devotional service is guaranteed, and at the end he will come back to Me. There is no servant in this world more dear to Me than he, nor will there ever be one more dear. (Bg. 18.68-69)

That's the last instruction that Krsna gives in the Bhagavad-Gita. If you have someone very important to you, like your spiritual master, his last words are going to have special importance. Probably, you are going to align everything else that you received from him in the light of these last words. The last instruction that Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura gave to Srila Prabhupada (in a letter, a few days before he passed away) was to preach in English, and we can see how deeply Srila Prabhupada took it. Sankaracarya was preaching impersonal philosophy, but his last words to his disciples were “bhaja govindam, bhaja govindam, bhaja govindam, mudha mate”: "You fools, you should worship Govinda!".

Similarly, these last words of Krsna in the Bhagavad-gita are even more confidential than sarva-dharman parityajya. Actually, they are a kind of purport. The Lord says: "Surrender unto Me", and one could ask: "What should be my occupation after I abandon my dharma and surrender to You?”. The Lord explains: "You should explain this supreme secret to others". And then He reassures: "By doing that, pure devotional service is guaranteed, and in the end you will come back to Me". As Srila Prabhupada explains in his purport to SB 8.7.44:

“The Lord says in Bhagavad-gita (18.68–69), ya idam paramam guhyam mad-bhaktesv abhidhasyati … na ca tasman manusyesu kascin me priya-krttamah: “One who preaches the message of Bhagavad-gita to My devotees is most dear to Me. No one can excel him in satisfying Me by worship.” There are different kinds of welfare activities in this material world, but the supreme welfare activity is the spreading of Krsna consciousness.”

Someone may argue: "But He says to explain it to devotees. Why we are going to distribute books outside?". In a sense, everybody is a devotee. Who is not a spirit soul? And where does the spirit soul come from? To whom is the spirit soul eternally connected? So, in the ultimate sense everybody is a devotee, everyone is connected to Krsna. That's the normal condition of the soul. The problem is that some of the souls have forgotten this, and thus they are accepting so many false designations, forms, desires and activities under the spell of illusion. That's the problem that we have to solve.

“Prahlada Maharaja ultimately instructed his class friends, the sons of the demons, to accept the process of devotional service by preaching the science of Krsna consciousness to everyone. Preaching is the best service to the Lord. The Lord will immediately be extremely satisfied with one who engages in this service of preaching Krsna consciousness. This is confirmed by the Lord Himself in Bhagavad-gita (18.69). Na ca tasman manusyesu kascin me priya-krttamah: “There is no servant in this world more dear to Me than he, nor will there ever be one more dear.” If one sincerely tries his best to spread Krsna consciousness by preaching the glories of the Lord and His supremacy, even if he is imperfectly educated, he becomes the dearmost servant of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This is bhakti. As one performs this service for humanity, without discrimination between friends and enemies, the Lord becomes satisfied, and the mission of one’s life is fulfilled. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu therefore advised everyone to become a guru-devotee and preach Krsna consciousness (yare dekha, tare kaha ‘krsna’-upadesa). That is the easiest way to realize the Supreme Personality of Godhead. By such preaching, the preacher becomes satisfied, and those to whom he preaches are also satisfied. This is the process of bringing peace and tranquillity to the entire world.” (SB 7.6.24 purport)

To preach and distribute books is the ultimate instruction of the Bhagavad-Gita, it's no wonder that Srila Prabhupada stresses this point so much. As Krsna’s pure devotee, he is concerned about our ultimate welfare, he wants us to preach and become dear to Krsna, so we can join him in the spiritual world. Nowadays we may sometimes forget that Srila Prabhupada has organized the whole ISKCON society as a preaching machine that works with the sole goal of bringing souls back to Godhead, and that’s not just for the benefit of others, but for our own benefit.

HH Tamal Krsna Maharaja: "Previously, only a few fortunate persons who visited the temple had the opportunity to meet the devotees, but now, through sankirtana, tens of thousands of persons felt the soothing rain of Lord Caitanya's mercy. This was all due to the mercy of our spiritual master. By his strong desire and personal example he was inspiring us to assume the role of preachers. Though we might not ourselves feel compassion to relieve the suffering of the conditioned souls, Prabhupada did. It was only by his order that we were now empowered to go forth and offer Krsna's mercy to others. By encouraging us to deliver Krsna consciousness to the conditioned souls, Prabhupada was allowing us to share in the most confidential service of the Lord. We had no understanding of Krsna's desire, but by following Prabhupada's instructions we became the recipients of Lord Caitanya's blessings, and as a result, our hearts became softened, purified by the sankirtana-yajna." (Servant of the Servant, Ch. 2) 

This is an excerpt of the book "Getting the Mercy", about book distribution. You can download the book or read more on:
https://www.gettingthemercy.com

 

 
Read more…

In the Bhagavad-Gita, Krsna discusses many different subjects. He starts with sankhya-yoga, the empirical knowledge that “I'm not this body”, the difference between spirit and matter. He also explains about Himself, God, and how we can get closer to Him while executing our prescribed duties. That's karma-yoga: mainly the third, fourth and fifth chapters. Karma-yoga means to remain in our material occupations and fulfill our duties, but to offer the fruits of our activities to Krsna. In one sense that's a preliminary process, but it is very important. It gives us a simple process from where to start.

For example, we have to eat. We hear that we should eat only prasadam, and strictly speaking, prasadam is when you cook for the deity, for the pleasure of the Lord, with elevated standards. At the same time, we can't eat only in the temple, we also need to eat at home. So, what should we do? If one still doesn’t have this mentality of cooking solely for the pleasure of the Lord, then he can cook what he wants to cook, following the proper standards, but before eating, offer to the Lord. In other words, even if one is not yet on a pure platform, at least he can offer the fruits to the Lord, following the guidance of superior authorities. That's one example of karma yoga: It may not be pure devotion yet, but it's a good start.

Karma-yoga is already done without expectation: one just offers the fruits to the Lord, without expecting any material recompense in return. In contrast with demigod worship, that is normally conducted as a kind of business, in karma-yoga we are already on the level of just wanting to please Krsna. That's why Srila Prabhupada doesn't make much distinction between karma-yoga and bhakti-yoga in his purports, translating both as "devotional service". In one sense there is no difference: they are just different steps in the same stairway.

But there is a subtle difference between karma-yoga and, in the strict sense, pure bhakti-yoga, pure devotional service. In karma-yoga we are still attached to engage in particular activities, so we keep executing our duties, but the fruits are dedicated to Krsna. Pure bhakti-yoga is a little bit different: we don't do what we want to do, we do what Krsna wants us to do. This demands a higher level of surrender: from the beginning to the end, it's for the satisfaction of the Lord, without any other consideration.

We can understand this from the example of Arjuna in the battle of Kurukshetra. If Arjuna would fight to get the kingdom, riches, and power, because he wanted to win the fight, and then, in the end, he would dedicate the fruits to Krsna, constructing temples, doing sacrifices, etc. that would be karma-yoga. But we see that right from the beginning Arjuna didn't want to fight: he would prefer to go to the forest or to live as a beggar. Yet, after hearing the Bhagavad-Gita, he fought with all his ability, not because he wanted, but because that was Krsna’s desire. Krsna told him: I want you to fight, not because you want to win the kingdom, but for Me, that's what is going to please Me.

That's the subtle difference between karma yoga and bhakti yoga. Bhakti-yoga is higher, but it's hard. We should be detached, but at the same time we also need maturity, because without maturity it becomes imitation: "I want to be a pure devotee, I want to be important, let me just abandon everything and surrender!". If someone tries to renounce with this mentality, out of frustration, or desire for fame and recognition, while still attached, he may do it for a few months, or maybe even for a year or two, but eventually he will just give up. This kind of imitation is not very valuable. In fact, that is precisely what Krsna tells Arjuna not to do.

Maturity means that we are doing something for the right reasons and, at the same time, we are sure about what we are doing. That's why Krsna says “mam ekam saranam vraja” (just surrender unto Me) in the end of Bhagavad-gita, not in the beginning. First, we need to understand the whole Bhagavad-gita and practice it, starting from "I'm not the body", then karma-yoga, then everything else, up to the point that we become detached and mature enough to be able to fully surrender to Krsna.

sarva-dharman parityajya
mam ekam saranam vraja
aham tvam sarva-papebhyo
moksayisyami ma sucah

"Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reactions. Do not fear." (Bg. 18.66)

However, sarva-dharman parityajya is not exactly the conclusion of the Bhagavad-Gita. There is something that comes after that. The ultimate conclusion of the Bhagavad-Gita comes two verses later:

For one who explains this supreme secret to the devotees, pure devotional service is guaranteed, and at the end he will come back to Me. There is no servant in this world more dear to Me than he, nor will there ever be one more dear. (Bg. 18.68-69)

That's the last instruction that Krsna gives in the Bhagavad-Gita. If you have someone very important to you, like your spiritual master, his last words are going to have special importance. Probably, you are going to align everything else that you received from him in the light of these last words. The last instruction that Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura gave to Srila Prabhupada (in a letter, a few days before he passed away) was to preach in English, and we can see how deeply Srila Prabhupada took it. Sankaracarya was preaching impersonal philosophy, but his last words to his disciples were “bhaja govindam, bhaja govindam, bhaja govindam, mudha mate”: "You fools, you should worship Govinda!".

Similarly, these last words of Krsna in the Bhagavad-gita are even more confidential than sarva-dharman parityajya. Actually, they are a kind of purport. The Lord says: "Surrender unto Me", and one could ask: "What should be my occupation after I abandon my dharma and surrender to You?”. The Lord explains: "You should explain this supreme secret to others". And then He reassures: "By doing that, pure devotional service is guaranteed, and in the end you will come back to Me". As Srila Prabhupada explains in his purport to SB 8.7.44:

“The Lord says in Bhagavad-gita (18.68–69), ya idam paramam guhyam mad-bhaktesv abhidhasyati … na ca tasman manusyesu kascin me priya-krttamah: “One who preaches the message of Bhagavad-gita to My devotees is most dear to Me. No one can excel him in satisfying Me by worship.” There are different kinds of welfare activities in this material world, but the supreme welfare activity is the spreading of Krsna consciousness.”

Someone may argue: "But He says to explain it to devotees. Why we are going to distribute books outside?". In a sense, everybody is a devotee. Who is not a spirit soul? And where does the spirit soul come from? To whom is the spirit soul eternally connected? So, in the ultimate sense everybody is a devotee, everyone is connected to Krsna. That's the normal condition of the soul. The problem is that some of the souls have forgotten this, and thus they are accepting so many false designations, forms, desires and activities under the spell of illusion. That's the problem that we have to solve.

“Prahlada Maharaja ultimately instructed his class friends, the sons of the demons, to accept the process of devotional service by preaching the science of Krsna consciousness to everyone. Preaching is the best service to the Lord. The Lord will immediately be extremely satisfied with one who engages in this service of preaching Krsna consciousness. This is confirmed by the Lord Himself in Bhagavad-gita (18.69). Na ca tasman manusyesu kascin me priya-krttamah: “There is no servant in this world more dear to Me than he, nor will there ever be one more dear.” If one sincerely tries his best to spread Krsna consciousness by preaching the glories of the Lord and His supremacy, even if he is imperfectly educated, he becomes the dearmost servant of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This is bhakti. As one performs this service for humanity, without discrimination between friends and enemies, the Lord becomes satisfied, and the mission of one’s life is fulfilled. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu therefore advised everyone to become a guru-devotee and preach Krsna consciousness (yare dekha, tare kaha ‘krsna’-upadesa). That is the easiest way to realize the Supreme Personality of Godhead. By such preaching, the preacher becomes satisfied, and those to whom he preaches are also satisfied. This is the process of bringing peace and tranquillity to the entire world.” (SB 7.6.24 purport)

To preach and distribute books is the ultimate instruction of the Bhagavad-Gita, it's no wonder that Srila Prabhupada stresses this point so much. As Krsna’s pure devotee, he is concerned about our ultimate welfare, he wants us to preach and become dear to Krsna, so we can join him in the spiritual world. Nowadays we may sometimes forget that Srila Prabhupada has organized the whole ISKCON society as a preaching machine that works with the sole goal of bringing souls back to Godhead, and that’s not just for the benefit of others, but for our own benefit.

HH Tamal Krsna Maharaja: "Previously, only a few fortunate persons who visited the temple had the opportunity to meet the devotees, but now, through sankirtana, tens of thousands of persons felt the soothing rain of Lord Caitanya's mercy. This was all due to the mercy of our spiritual master. By his strong desire and personal example he was inspiring us to assume the role of preachers. Though we might not ourselves feel compassion to relieve the suffering of the conditioned souls, Prabhupada did. It was only by his order that we were now empowered to go forth and offer Krsna's mercy to others. By encouraging us to deliver Krsna consciousness to the conditioned souls, Prabhupada was allowing us to share in the most confidential service of the Lord. We had no understanding of Krsna's desire, but by following Prabhupada's instructions we became the recipients of Lord Caitanya's blessings, and as a result, our hearts became softened, purified by the sankirtana-yajna." (Servant of the Servant, Ch. 2) 

This is an excerpt of the book "Getting the Mercy", about book distribution. You can download the book or read more on:
https://www.gettingthemercy.com

 

 
Read more…

In the Bhagavad-Gita, Krsna discusses many different subjects. He starts with sankhya-yoga, the empirical knowledge that “I'm not this body”, the difference between spirit and matter. He also explains about Himself, God, and how we can get closer to Him while executing our prescribed duties. That's karma-yoga: mainly the third, fourth and fifth chapters. Karma-yoga means to remain in our material occupations and fulfill our duties, but to offer the fruits of our activities to Krsna. In one sense that's a preliminary process, but it is very important. It gives us a simple process from where to start.

For example, we have to eat. We hear that we should eat only prasadam, and strictly speaking, prasadam is when you cook for the deity, for the pleasure of the Lord, with elevated standards. At the same time, we can't eat only in the temple, we also need to eat at home. So, what should we do? If one still doesn’t have this mentality of cooking solely for the pleasure of the Lord, then he can cook what he wants to cook, following the proper standards, but before eating, offer to the Lord. In other words, even if one is not yet on a pure platform, at least he can offer the fruits to the Lord, following the guidance of superior authorities. That's one example of karma yoga: It may not be pure devotion yet, but it's a good start.

Karma-yoga is already done without expectation: one just offers the fruits to the Lord, without expecting any material recompense in return. In contrast with demigod worship, that is normally conducted as a kind of business, in karma-yoga we are already on the level of just wanting to please Krsna. That's why Srila Prabhupada doesn't make much distinction between karma-yoga and bhakti-yoga in his purports, translating both as "devotional service". In one sense there is no difference: they are just different steps in the same stairway.

But there is a subtle difference between karma-yoga and, in the strict sense, pure bhakti-yoga, pure devotional service. In karma-yoga we are still attached to engage in particular activities, so we keep executing our duties, but the fruits are dedicated to Krsna. Pure bhakti-yoga is a little bit different: we don't do what we want to do, we do what Krsna wants us to do. This demands a higher level of surrender: from the beginning to the end, it's for the satisfaction of the Lord, without any other consideration.

We can understand this from the example of Arjuna in the battle of Kurukshetra. If Arjuna would fight to get the kingdom, riches, and power, because he wanted to win the fight, and then, in the end, he would dedicate the fruits to Krsna, constructing temples, doing sacrifices, etc. that would be karma-yoga. But we see that right from the beginning Arjuna didn't want to fight: he would prefer to go to the forest or to live as a beggar. Yet, after hearing the Bhagavad-Gita, he fought with all his ability, not because he wanted, but because that was Krsna’s desire. Krsna told him: I want you to fight, not because you want to win the kingdom, but for Me, that's what is going to please Me.

That's the subtle difference between karma yoga and bhakti yoga. Bhakti-yoga is higher, but it's hard. We should be detached, but at the same time we also need maturity, because without maturity it becomes imitation: "I want to be a pure devotee, I want to be important, let me just abandon everything and surrender!". If someone tries to renounce with this mentality, out of frustration, or desire for fame and recognition, while still attached, he may do it for a few months, or maybe even for a year or two, but eventually he will just give up. This kind of imitation is not very valuable. In fact, that is precisely what Krsna tells Arjuna not to do.

Maturity means that we are doing something for the right reasons and, at the same time, we are sure about what we are doing. That's why Krsna says “mam ekam saranam vraja” (just surrender unto Me) in the end of Bhagavad-gita, not in the beginning. First, we need to understand the whole Bhagavad-gita and practice it, starting from "I'm not the body", then karma-yoga, then everything else, up to the point that we become detached and mature enough to be able to fully surrender to Krsna.

sarva-dharman parityajya
mam ekam saranam vraja
aham tvam sarva-papebhyo
moksayisyami ma sucah

"Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reactions. Do not fear." (Bg. 18.66)

However, sarva-dharman parityajya is not exactly the conclusion of the Bhagavad-Gita. There is something that comes after that. The ultimate conclusion of the Bhagavad-Gita comes two verses later:

For one who explains this supreme secret to the devotees, pure devotional service is guaranteed, and at the end he will come back to Me. There is no servant in this world more dear to Me than he, nor will there ever be one more dear. (Bg. 18.68-69)

That's the last instruction that Krsna gives in the Bhagavad-Gita. If you have someone very important to you, like your spiritual master, his last words are going to have special importance. Probably, you are going to align everything else that you received from him in the light of these last words. The last instruction that Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura gave to Srila Prabhupada (in a letter, a few days before he passed away) was to preach in English, and we can see how deeply Srila Prabhupada took it. Sankaracarya was preaching impersonal philosophy, but his last words to his disciples were “bhaja govindam, bhaja govindam, bhaja govindam, mudha mate”: "You fools, you should worship Govinda!".

Similarly, these last words of Krsna in the Bhagavad-gita are even more confidential than sarva-dharman parityajya. Actually, they are a kind of purport. The Lord says: "Surrender unto Me", and one could ask: "What should be my occupation after I abandon my dharma and surrender to You?”. The Lord explains: "You should explain this supreme secret to others". And then He reassures: "By doing that, pure devotional service is guaranteed, and in the end you will come back to Me". As Srila Prabhupada explains in his purport to SB 8.7.44:

“The Lord says in Bhagavad-gita (18.68–69), ya idam paramam guhyam mad-bhaktesv abhidhasyati … na ca tasman manusyesu kascin me priya-krttamah: “One who preaches the message of Bhagavad-gita to My devotees is most dear to Me. No one can excel him in satisfying Me by worship.” There are different kinds of welfare activities in this material world, but the supreme welfare activity is the spreading of Krsna consciousness.”

Someone may argue: "But He says to explain it to devotees. Why we are going to distribute books outside?". In a sense, everybody is a devotee. Who is not a spirit soul? And where does the spirit soul come from? To whom is the spirit soul eternally connected? So, in the ultimate sense everybody is a devotee, everyone is connected to Krsna. That's the normal condition of the soul. The problem is that some of the souls have forgotten this, and thus they are accepting so many false designations, forms, desires and activities under the spell of illusion. That's the problem that we have to solve.

“Prahlada Maharaja ultimately instructed his class friends, the sons of the demons, to accept the process of devotional service by preaching the science of Krsna consciousness to everyone. Preaching is the best service to the Lord. The Lord will immediately be extremely satisfied with one who engages in this service of preaching Krsna consciousness. This is confirmed by the Lord Himself in Bhagavad-gita (18.69). Na ca tasman manusyesu kascin me priya-krttamah: “There is no servant in this world more dear to Me than he, nor will there ever be one more dear.” If one sincerely tries his best to spread Krsna consciousness by preaching the glories of the Lord and His supremacy, even if he is imperfectly educated, he becomes the dearmost servant of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This is bhakti. As one performs this service for humanity, without discrimination between friends and enemies, the Lord becomes satisfied, and the mission of one’s life is fulfilled. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu therefore advised everyone to become a guru-devotee and preach Krsna consciousness (yare dekha, tare kaha ‘krsna’-upadesa). That is the easiest way to realize the Supreme Personality of Godhead. By such preaching, the preacher becomes satisfied, and those to whom he preaches are also satisfied. This is the process of bringing peace and tranquillity to the entire world.” (SB 7.6.24 purport)

To preach and distribute books is the ultimate instruction of the Bhagavad-Gita, it's no wonder that Srila Prabhupada stresses this point so much. As Krsna’s pure devotee, he is concerned about our ultimate welfare, he wants us to preach and become dear to Krsna, so we can join him in the spiritual world. Nowadays we may sometimes forget that Srila Prabhupada has organized the whole ISKCON society as a preaching machine that works with the sole goal of bringing souls back to Godhead, and that’s not just for the benefit of others, but for our own benefit.

HH Tamal Krsna Maharaja: "Previously, only a few fortunate persons who visited the temple had the opportunity to meet the devotees, but now, through sankirtana, tens of thousands of persons felt the soothing rain of Lord Caitanya's mercy. This was all due to the mercy of our spiritual master. By his strong desire and personal example he was inspiring us to assume the role of preachers. Though we might not ourselves feel compassion to relieve the suffering of the conditioned souls, Prabhupada did. It was only by his order that we were now empowered to go forth and offer Krsna's mercy to others. By encouraging us to deliver Krsna consciousness to the conditioned souls, Prabhupada was allowing us to share in the most confidential service of the Lord. We had no understanding of Krsna's desire, but by following Prabhupada's instructions we became the recipients of Lord Caitanya's blessings, and as a result, our hearts became softened, purified by the sankirtana-yajna." (Servant of the Servant, Ch. 2)

This is an excerpt of the book "Getting the Mercy", about book distribution. You can download the book or read more on:
https://www.gettingthemercy.com

 

Read more…

Lord Caitanya thought, “My name is Visvambhara, ‘one who maintains the entire universe.’ Its meaning will be actualized if I can fill the whole universe with love of Godhead.” Thinking in this way, He accepted the duty of a planter and began to grow a garden in Navadvipa. Thus the Lord brought the desire tree of devotional service to this earth and became its gardener. He sowed the seed and sprinkled upon it the water of His will. (Cc. Adi 9.7-9)

Lord Caitanya thus addressed the multifarious varieties of branches and subbranches of the tree of devotional service: "Since the tree of devotional service is transcendental, every one of its parts can perform the action of all the others. Although a tree is supposed to be immovable, this tree nevertheless moves. All the parts of this tree are spiritually cognizant, and thus as they grow they spread all over the world". (Cc. Adi 9.31-33)

In the Sri Caitanya Caritamrta (Adi-lila, chapter 9), it is described how the sankirtana movement descended from the spiritual realm. When manifested in this world, the sankirtana movement grows like a tree which emanates from Lord Caitanya personally. This tree has many branches connected to the main associates of the Lord, and from them grow various sub-branches that correspond to the main acaryas of our sampradaya. One of the biggest of such branches relates to Srila Prabhupada who created ISKCON and connected all of us in the form of numerous twigs and leaves.

There are four famous verses in the Caitanya Mangala (Sutra-khanda, song 12, verses 562-565) where Lord Caitanya says:

nama-guna-sankirtana vaisnavera shakti
prakasa karibe ami nija prema-bhakti

ei mate kali-papa karibe sanhara
sabe cala age pache na kara vichara

Chanting of the name and qualities of Krsna gives the energy to the Vaishnavas. I will reveal these activities, a pure devotional service unto Myself. In this way I will destroy all the sins in Kali Yuga. So all of you, My associates, go ahead and take birth on the earthly planet before My advent and don't remain behind.

ebe nama sankirtana tikshna khadga laiya
antara asura jivera phelibe katiya

yadi papi chadi dharma dure dese yaya
mora senapati-bhakta yaibe tathaya

Taking the sharp sword of nama-sankirtana, I will root out and destroy the demoniac mentality in the hearts of all the conditioned souls. And if some sinful people escape and giving up dharma go to far off countries, my Senapati Bhakta will go there to deliver them.

The expression “Senapati Bhakta” refers to a highly exalted devotee and preacher. Senapati is a military expression which means “commander-in-chief”. From recent history, we can understand that the chief commander is Srila Prabhupada. Not only did he start the western front of Sri Caitanya's movement, but he also brought it back to India, reestablishing the eternal principles of devotional service amongst the Indians themselves.

In the Caitanya-Caritamrta (Madhya 7.128) the Lord gives us another very famous verse:

yare dekha, tare kaha ‘krsna’-upadesa
amara ajnaya guru hana tara’ ei desa

Yare dekha, tare kaha means: "Wherever you go and whoever you meet", krsna’-upadesa: “Instruct everyone to follow the orders of Lord Sri Krsna as they are given in the Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam”. And then: amara ajnaya guru hana tara’ ei desa: “By my order become a spiritual master and try to liberate everyone in this land.”

There are different types of spiritual masters. The initiating spiritual master should be a liberated soul, a very elevated devotee that has not only firm faith and knowledge, but also realization, and is therefore capable of elevating his disciples up to the ultimate goal. As Srila Prabhupada teaches us in the Nectar of Instruction (purport to verse 5):

“A neophyte Vaisnava or a Vaisnava situated on the intermediate platform can also accept disciples, but such disciples must be on the same platform, and it should be understood that they cannot advance very well toward the ultimate goal of life under his insufficient guidance. Therefore a disciple should be careful to accept an uttama-adhikari as a spiritual master”.

The second type is the instructing spiritual master, who should also be a liberated soul, capable of further instructing one how to develop his relationship with Krsna. Both the initiating and instructing spiritual masters should be very elevated Vaishnavas. As Srila Prabhupada points out in the previous quote, a neophyte devotee may eventually assume these roles when other, more advanced Vaishnavas are not available, but this is not an ideal situation.

Finally, there is the connecting guru, who introduces one to Krsna consciousness. By giving a book or prasadam, inspiring him to start chanting and coming to the temple, or whatever it may be: the one who introduces a new person to Krsna consciousness. He is called vartma pradarsaka guru: the guru that makes the initial connection. Even if someone is not a very advanced devotee, still he knows something, and by repeating whatever he knows, he can connect others to Krsna.

HG Yasodanandana Prabhu: Prabhupada's room at the Radha-Damodar temple, you can see behind, there were these little holes that let the wind come through and you can actually see behind in the courtyard. So Shyamasundara's daughter, Saraswati, was there, and she was pulling on the shirt of a little Bengali gentleman and she was telling the gentleman, "Who is Krsna? Do you know who is Krsna?" And the gentleman had this amused look on his face. Saraswati may have been 4 or 5 years old at the time, she was very young. Prabhupada was looking and we were looking, and the man was amused that this little girl would ask him that. Then she told him, "Krsna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and you should surrender to Him." And Prabhupada said, "Just see, she is a guru. She is preaching about Krsna." (Following Srila Prabhupada - A Chronological Series)

This system is so perfect that if one of the gurus (be the connecting guru, instructing guru, diksa guru, or even the father or mother), can somehow direct his dependents to the right path, putting them on the way back to Godhead, he can also go by sharing the merits of the disciple or son/daughter, even if he himself is imperfect. The prime example is Dhruva Maharaja. His mother, Suniti, acted as his vartma pradarsaka guru by instructing him to go to the forest and worship Krsna. In due course of time, Dhruva Maharaja became a perfect devotee and went back home back to Godhead, taking his mother with him. As Srila Prabhupada humbly points out in his purport to Srimad Bhagavatam 4.12.33, if we can help a single soul to become perfect in Krsna consciousness, then, despite our imperfections, we can also go back to Godhead:

“This incident proves that the siksa- or diksa-guru who has a disciple who strongly executes devotional service like Dhruva Maharaja can be carried by the disciple even though the instructor is not as advanced. Although Suniti was an instructor to Dhruva Maharaja, she could not go to the forest because she was a woman, nor could she execute austerities and penances as Dhruva Maharaja did. Still, Dhruva Maharaja was able to take his mother with him. Similarly, Prahlada Maharaja also delivered his atheistic father, Hiranyakasipu. The conclusion is that a disciple or an offspring who is a very strong devotee can carry with him to Vaikunthaloka either his father, mother or siksa- or diksa-guru. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura used to say, “If I could perfectly deliver even one soul back home, back to Godhead, I would think my mission — propagating Krsna consciousness — to be successful.” The Krsna consciousness movement is spreading now all over the world, and sometimes I think that even though I am crippled in many ways, if one of my disciples becomes as strong as Dhruva Maharaja, then he will be able to carry me with him to Vaikunthaloka”.

Despite being a liberated soul, Srila Prabhupada wrote in such a way just to give us the example as to what our mentality should be. Instead of pursuing our own liberation, we should try to help others to become Krsna conscious.

Whatever our situation is, we can serve the mission of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu by spreading Krsna consciousness to others; and the main tools to spread the sankirtana mission are the books. There is a reason for that: in the past, people used to be more simple and open-minded. If you would come to their village chanting, they would immediately get curious and ask about it. After hearing the explanation that these are the names of God and so on, they would immediately join. Because they were simple-hearted, they would start to chant, and immediately the chanting would have effect: they would become devotees. After that, you could give them some simple instructions and they would follow. This still happens in some villages in India, but in most places nowadays, people are crooked and complicated. You go on chanting but they can't simply accept and also chant. They come with many misconceptions and prejudices: Is this paganism? Is this Hinduism? They want to understand, analyze, therefore it's difficult to convince these types of “sophisticated” people with the chanting alone. You would need to spend a long time with each person to get some result.

Therefore, we have spiritual books, which are an efficient way to affect modern people. If we can just convince them to read our books, they’ll find all the answers there. If a person is a little pious, by the time he finishes the book, he’ll be willing to chant and join. If not, we can give them another book, some prasadam, another book, more prasadam, etc. until they get convinced. This way, on each encounter a person receives something, becoming more purified, up to the point he is ready to become a devotee.

“Persons who had formerly criticized Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu, calling Him a drunkard, also ate the fruit and began to dance, saying, “Very good! Very good!”

Purport: When Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu started the sankirtana movement, even He was unnecessarily criticized by Mayavadis, atheists and fools. Naturally we are also criticized by such men. They will always remain and will always criticize anything that is actually good for human society. But the preachers of the sankirtana movement should not be deterred by such criticism. Our method should be to convert such fools gradually by asking them to come and take prasadam and chant and dance with us. This should be our policy. Anyone who comes to join us, of course, must be sincere and serious regarding spiritual advancement in life; then such a person, simply by joining us, chanting with us, dancing with us and taking prasadam with us, will gradually also come to say that this movement is very good. But one who joins with an ulterior purpose, to get material benefit or personal gratification, will never be able to grasp the philosophy of this movement. (Cc. Adi 9.53)

Even if someone doesn't become a devotee in this life, our books will have some effect on his life -- they will make him rethink and change a few things. Nowadays, so many people are becoming vegetarians, starting to believe in karma and reincarnation, protesting against animal slaughter, desiring a less materialistic lifestyle, etc. We can be sure that the mass distribution of Srila Prabhupada's books in the last five decades is the main factor behind these changes in society. And the more we distribute, the more the world will change.

“The sankirtana movement has been introduced by Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu just to dispel the illusion of maya, by which everyone in this material world thinks himself to be a product of matter and therefore to have many duties pertaining to the body. Actually, the living entity is not his material body: he is a spirit soul. He has a spiritual need to be eternally blissful and full of knowledge, but unfortunately he identifies himself with the body, sometimes as a human being, sometimes as an animal, sometimes a tree, sometimes an aquatic, sometimes a demigod, and so on. Thus with each change of body he develops a different type of consciousness with different types of activities and thus becomes increasingly entangled in material existence, transmigrating perpetually from one body to another. Under the spell of maya, or illusion, he does not consider the past or future but is simply satisfied with the short life span that he has gotten for the present. To eradicate this illusion, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu has brought the sankirtana movement, and He requests everyone to accept and distribute it”. (Cc. Adi 9.36)

This is an excerpt of the book "Getting the Mercy", about book distribution. You can download the book or read more on:
https://www.gettingthemercy.com

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Srila Prabhupada once said that history will mark how ISKCON saved the world in its darkest hour. As the world society becomes more and more degraded, our mission to step forward and bring some light in the form of spiritual books becomes more and more urgent and necessary. This book is my small attempt in this direction. The main factor in deciding about publishing this book as a free e-book instead of hard copy is to allow all interested devotees to have easy access to it and to share with the
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