ISKCON Derire Tree's Posts (13259)

Devotional Services

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(English version of the ‘Bhakti Rasamrita Sindhu’ by Sri Rupa Goswami)

Edited by Tridandi Goswami Abhay Charan Bhaktivedanta Swami

Text

Akhilla, Rasa, Amrita, Murti, Prasrmara, Ruci, Ruddha, Taraka, Pali, Kalita, Syama, Lalita, Radha, Preyan, Bidhu, Jayati.

Akhila=All inclusive, Rasa=Mellow, Zest, Amrita=Nectar, Murti=Form, Prasrmara=Expanding, Ruchi=Attractive features, Ruddha=Controlling, Taraka=of the name, Pali=of the name, Kalita=Influenced by, Syama=of the name, Lalita=of the name, Radha=Shrimati Radharani, Preyan=Dearest, Bidhu=Consort, Jayati=Exists with glories.

Translation

Lord (Shri Krishna) Who is the dearest consort of Shrimati Radharani—exists eternally with all glories. He is all inclusive Personality Mellow transcendental in His eternal Form. By the expansion of his multi attractive features He is the controlling deity of the cowherd damsels like Taraka, Pali with influence over Syama and Lalita.

Purport

Lord Shri Krishna Who is the Personality of Godhead in His eternal Form is glorified because He has endeared Himself by His acts of benevolence in disseminating the different kinds of Rasa or Zests. Rasa is psychologically described as a sense perception. But the sense perception which we experience in our material conception of life,-is a perverted reflection of the reality. The reality is approached by self realisation of understanding the all inclusive Personal Form of the Supreme Who is all attractive Shri Krishna. The very name of Shri Krishna is suggestive of a conception of complete attraction by dint of wealth, strength, influence, beauty, knowledge and renunciation. Complete embodiment of all these opulences combined together in their fullness is exhibited by the manifested activities of the Lord when He is, out of His causeless mercy, within our view, although the Supreme Person is transcendental to the speculative actions of thinking, feeling and willing of a living being.

The eternal consort of Shrimati Radharani is Lord Shri Krishna Who is plenarily manifested as the speaker of the Bhagwat Geeta,—has His innumerable beams of expansions and each and every one of them is complete Bidhu or the one who vanquishes all kinds of distresses of the devotee. Even the Ashuras or the atheists who are enemies of the Lord are benefitted by His causeless mercy although superficially they appear to be slain by the Lord. Ashuras who are killed by the Lord do also attain to the platform of Mukti or liberation which is the destination of the impersonalist empiric philosophers. As such He is all attractive both for the Ashuras or the non-devotees materialistic living being and the Suras or the devotees. He is glorified evidently both by Suras and Asuras alike. In the battlefield of Kurukshetra Lord Shri Krishna was glorified even by the opposite camp of Arjuna when Bhisma addressed Lord Shri Krishna to be the relative of Arjuna the victorious warrior. And those who died in the battlefield of Kurukshetra attained the highest stage of liberation simply by fixing up their eyes over Him while dying in the field.

By His fullness of opulences and on account of His becoming the One without a Second competitor and His being the Lord of all creatures, He is worshipped even by the Supreme directors of the cosmic creations. He is attractive even by His personal decorative features. Lord Shri Krishna is observed always decorated with multi ornaments of apt position. His earrings, His crown, His bangles, His necklace, and belt etc. bedecked with most valuable jewels and His attractive smiling face smeared with the pulp of sandalwood on the forehead and His yellowish silken garments all combined together make His full attractive Personality. The whole ‘Bhagbatam Puranam’ is practically a vivid description of His fullness of attraction and in the beginning of the same the Lord Shri Krishna is discriminated from all other plenary manifestations or incarnations with emphasis on His becoming the Original Form of Godhead and the Personality of Godhead as He is. And considering all these features of His Person and transcendental qualities as described in all the Vedic revealed scriptures, Lord Shri Krishna is undoubtedly the all attractive eternal Form of all Rasas.

In the present context of His transcendental features He is the Predominating Lord of the primary Rasas called Santa (transcendental inaction) Dasya (transcendental servitorship) Sakhya (transcendental fraternity) Vatsalya (transcendental conjugation). In His transcendental Form in relation with the denizens of the Brajabhumi, He is the embodiment of spiritual bliss. The spiritual bliss is described in the Brahma Sutras also.

So for other Rasas which are secondary and individually connected with Him He is very properly described in the Bhagabatam on the arena of the King Kansa of Mathura. He is described there as follows:—

Mallanam asani (thunderbolt for the wrestlers) Naranam Narabara (for ordinary man, He is the most perfect form of man) Strinam smara murtiman (for the woman He appeared to be personified Cupid or the most desired of the opposite sex) Gopnam swajana (for the cowherdsmen He appeared to be the most beloved kinsman) Asatam khitibhujam sasta (for the culprit minded rulers He appeared to be the most redundant governor) and Swapitro sisu (for the parents He appeared to be a small child) Mrtyo Bhojapate (He appeared to be death personified before the king of Bhoja or Kansa) Virata avidusham (He identified Himself with the all pervading universal self for the less intelligent persons) Tatwam param yoginam (He appeared to the mystics to be the Absolute Truth) Vrishninam paradeva (for the Vaishnavas or to the descendants of Vishnu He appeared to be the highest worshipable deity). And thus known to the respective knowers according to their respective power of knowing Him, the Lord Shri Krishna entered the arena of King Kansa accompanied by His elder brother Shri Valadeva.

In the revealed scriptures the Rasas are described to be of twelve different sets. They are as follows:—

1. Roudra (anger) 2. Adbhuta (wonderful) 3. Sringara (conjugal) 4. Hasya (comic) 5. Vira (chivalrous) 6. Daya (merciful) 7. Dasya (servitorship) 8. Sakhya (fraternity) 9. Bhayanaka (ghastly) 10. Vitbhatsa (shocking) 11. Shanta (neutral) 12. Vatsalya (parental). Sringara and the Madhurya Rasa are one and the same. These twelve Rasas are standard Rasas and Lord Sri Krishna is evidently the embodiment of all these Rasas. He is not only the enjoyer of the Madhurya Rasa or the Sringara Rasa with Srimati Radharani but He is the enjoyer of the Vivatsya Rasa when He kills Ashuras like Kansa and Jarandha. In the creation of the Lord, there is nothing more than the above mentioned standard twelve Rasas in the matter of dealing with one another. Activities of the living being are accelerated by one of the Rasas either in its original form or in a perverted form. But all the Rasas are emanation from the Transcendence. There is no existence of any sort of reciprocation of Rasa if it is not emanated from the Supreme. Everything that be has its original source of emanation from the Supreme Being and that is the confirmation by the first sutra of the Vedanta Sutras (Janmadyasya yatah). And Sri Krishna being the original form of Godhead He is conclusively the reservoir Fountain Head of all the Rasas described above. And as such the Rasa in relation with Him become the absolute in nature. The Lord being the Absolute Truth any one of the above Rasas is Absolute in nature in relation of reciprocation with His service. The Lord being the enjoyer of all the Rasas the reciprocator is either directly or indirectly a constitutional servitor of the Lord exchanging the different Rasas. And therefore the devotees who serve the Lord directly in the primary Rasa of Dasya, Sakhya, Vatsalya and Madhurya are super servitors or eternal servitors than those who serve Him in the secondary Rasas of Roudhra, Adbhuta, Hasya etc. which are seven in all. Actual position of the living being is to serve the Lord and nothing more. The living being cannot become the Absolute Master at any stage of his existence namely materially or spiritually. Materially he can falsely pose himself as the master and being baffled in that attempt such servitor desires to annihilate his existence by becoming one with the Lord. This desire of becoming one with the Lord is not even within the jurisdiction of the Shanta Rasa and therefore except the five primary Rasas all other Rasas are exhibited outside the spiritual realm. But his oneness is transcendentally realised in the primary five Rasas because in the Absolute realm although there is constant reciprocation of the primary Rasas between the Lord and His eternal reciprocators or eternal servitors, qualitatively there is no difference between the Lord and the servitors. In the absolute realm there is no difference between Radharani and Krishna or between Yasoda and Krishna and so on. The reciprocators in the absolute realm and in the relative world are essentially and qualitatively one and the same but quantitatively there is difference between two namely the Lord and the servitors. The Lord is the immense source of supply of all the Rasas while the living entities are recipients only in their different capacity. In other words the Lord is the Whole while His Servitors are Constitutional Parts and Parcels only. The parts and parcels have therefore limited potency to enjoy and as such the parts and parcels of the Lord cannot be actually said as enjoyer in the proper sense of the term. Such reciprocators of the Rasas therefore properly termed as the enjoyed or the servitor partaker of the enjoyment enjoyed by the Lord. Although the Rasa of reciprocation is equally partaken both by the Lord and the servitors, the Lord is the Predominator enjoyer while the parts and parcels are predominated enjoyer. Real enjoyment of the living entity is realised in that way otherwise he can simply merge himself with the Lord by annihilating his constitutional position as he is emanated from the Supreme. This constitutional position of parts and parcels are predominantly existent in the Absolute Realm whereas the secondary Rasas are manifested in the relative world. When the Lord therefore desires to enjoy the secondary Rasa with His servitors such reciprocation is brought into existence in the relative world by the desire of the Lord. These secondary Rasas when they are actually dovetailed with Absolute Person the result is the same as that of other primary Rasas. Therefore the Vivatsa Rasa displayed between the Lord and Kansa also terminated in the liberation of Kansa on account of Sri Krishna’s becoming the Absolute Person.

Therefore the servitor living being, if at all he wants to relish any one of the above Rasas, he must reciprocate the same with Sri Krishna who is the unlimited ocean or source of all Rasas. One can derive any amount of Rasa of a particular type from that resources simply by such reciprocation with Krishna. “Gopal Tapani” directs therefore conclusively that Krishna is the Supreme Fountain Head of all the Rasas which are also confirmed by the Sruti or the Vedas. One should therefore always meditate upon Krishna to derive a particular type of Rasa according to one’s choice and under proper direction of the spiritual master.

Krishna appeared to Kansa as death personified because Kansa chose to kill Krishna from the beginning of His appearance. Similarly the Gopis wanted to have Krishna as the lover and therefore Krishna treated with them as the most fascinating lover displayed by the Madhurya Rasa of a transcendental paramour.

The conclusion is that the Personality of Godhead reciprocates with His servitors in the proportion and quality of service rendered unto Him. Nobody is doing anything except this reciprocation of Rasas between Krishna and himself and thus one is reaping the desired result in the proportion and quality of service illusioned in contamination with the material energy whereas such service is transcendental in the Absolute Realm where illusion is conspicuous by its absence only. The quality of service to Sri Krishna in the highest plane form is exhibited by the Gopis and such service is eulogised in the ‘Bhagavatam’ in the following words. “What is that penance which the Gopis had performed so that they are privileged to enjoy the drinking of the nectar of Lord’s beauty which is as much unfathomed as His other opulences are.”

With the Gopis therefore the highest transcendental quality of Rasa is reciprocated by the Lord and out of them the specifically mentioned Gopis of the name Taraka, Pali, Shyama, Lalita and Srimati Radharani are significant. In the Puranas the names of the Gopis like Gopali, Palika, Dhanya, Vishakha, Danistha, Radha, Anuradha, Somabha, Taraka etc. are mentioned. And in the ‘Dwarka Mahatma,’ the names of the Lalita, Shyamala, Saibya, Padma, Bhadra along with Vishakha are mentioned as the chief of the damsels of Brajabhumi. There is such mention of the names of the Gopis in “Skandha Puranam” also. Such Gopis were attracted by the beautiful and attractive features of the Form of Sri Krishna. They were not only attracted but also they were actually under the control of Lord by the paramourous feeling of the lover and the beloved. Such transcendental feelings of the pure Gopis are never to be compared with the erotic principles of the mundane world. In these transactions of highest reciprocations of Rasas Srimati Radharani stands to be the supermost partaker. She is therefore actually the counterpart emblem of all the Rasas which are reciprocated between Krishna and Radha in a specific manner unknown even to Krishna—both being equally full and perfect there is constantly an overflow of transcendental bliss which is purest form of competition of the Ahladini energy or the transcendental pleasure giving element potent in the Lord but displayed by Radharani.

In the Uttrakhanda of the Padmapuranam, such reciprocation of highest transcendental mellows is affirmed by eulogising the place called by the name Radhakunda where the Lord Krishna and Radharani exhibited Their reciprocal fullness. Radhakunda is therefore as much dear to Sri Krishna as Srimati Radharani. In Dwarka Rukmini is mentioned as the topmost queen of the Lord and similarly in Vrindaban Radharani is the topmost of the Gopis. The pastimeous functions of Vrindaban represent greater degree of Rasa reciprocation than Dwarka. As such Radharani is more conspicuous than Rukmini. She is there the all attractive counterpart of the all attractive Lord and therefore She is the highest embodiment of the Ahladini potency of the Lord. Voluntarily the Lord bifurcated Himself both as Radha and Krishna and again joined together in the still more attractive Form of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. In other words, the devotees of the Lord Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu are eligible candidates for approaching the Fountain Head of all Rasas. According to Sri Jiva Goswami the names of both Radha and Krishna are mentioned in the Rigveda as “Radha Madhava.” Men with poor fund of knowledge and so-called adherents of the Vedas indulge in pragmatic discussions concerning Radha and Krishna without consulting the authoritative statements of the Goswamins headed by Sri Rupa Goswami and followed by Sri Raghunath Das Goswami. Sri Narottamdas Thakur therefore recommends to the serious students of Rasa science to surrender unto the protection of the merciful Goswamins who left all material association of aristocracy and comfort and voluntarily accepted the part of a rigid mendicant to bestow upon the fallen souls like us their highest gift of benediction in the matter of love affairs of Radha and Krishna.

The transcendental science of the love affairs of Radha and Krishna is not a thing easily understandable even by the highest talented persons and materialistic opportunists. Those who therefore try to realise the affairs of Radha and Krishna in puffed up manner of materialistic scholarship will vanquish in the womb of oblivion if they are reluctant to consult the books left by the Goswamins. “Bhakti Rasamrita Sindhu” on which we are attempting on an English version following the footprints of the Goswamins,—is the first of a series of books in this connection. This preliminary study in the science of devotional service is therefore cautiously done by boring the transcendental subject within the purview of a serious student.

Metaphorically Bidhu means the moon. As such the Lord is compared with the moon although He is sometimes compared with the most powerful sun. He is compared with the moon per excellence not in the sense that the moon is less powerful than the sun. On the other hand, He is not compared with the sun on account of the sun’s inability to counteract the fatigue of a tiresome man. It is the light of the moon only which is soothing to such tiresome person. We want to drink Rasa for getting ourselves relief from the tiresome effect of dry material life. Tiresome people in order to mitigate the fatigue of day’s labour try to eschew a particular type of Rasa from the more tiresome sounds of radio and other materialistic instruments of relaxation but the foolish people do not know that real Rasa is flowing under the Lotus Feet of Lord Sri Krishna. He is constantly disseminating the flow of transcendental Rasas in the soothing way of the moonlight. Therefore He is compared with the moon which has a specific cooling effect on the fatigued person. In the spring the moonlight is still more soothing. The spring moon is the sum total of all the Rasas of other seasons and thus Sri Krishna is compared with the moon delightfully displayed along with the twinkling stars of the name Taraka etc. In that metaphorical explanation the word Ruddha means covered and Pali means the range. In other words the rays of the moon has covered the twinkling light of the range of stars. This beautiful features of the moon is exhibited at night which is compared with the name of dark Shyama. In this metaphorical combination of words Lalita means pastime and Amrita is the moon light itself.

As the moonlight, stars and their reciprocal pastime all concerned in the night alone, so also Lord Sri Krishna’s pastime in the highest zest of transcendental Rasa is possible at night alone along with Srimati Radharani and Her eternal associates. In that night illuminated by the moon the stars known as Anuradha or Radha is more intimately connected with the star known by the name Vishaka. As the moon is more beautiful on the full moon night of spring, similarly the attraction of Krishna is fully displayed in the matter exchanging Rasa.

Source: http://www.dandavats.com/?p=19658

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Srila Prabhupada On Education By Example

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By Indira-sakhi Devi Dasi

Srila Prabhupada stressed that character development was an inseparable part of education. He explained that the teachers themselves should be exemplary role models to successfully impart Vedic knowledge to the students.

You are right when you say that setting a good example for the boys is the best precept. There is a saying that an example is better than a precept. Our exemplary character depends on strictly following the four principles, and this will conquer the whole world. Our boys and girls in London, by their exemplary character, have drawn the attention of many respectable persons and even some public papers. Our movement is not only for some theoretical teaching, but it is for developing practical character and definite understanding. (Letter to Aniruddha, Los Angeles, February 4, 1969)

One thing, if Aniruddha is shaky in his Krishna Consciousness, how he can teach the children? Unless one is firmly convinced about Krishna Consciousness, I don’t think the children will learn properly from such a person. (Letter to Satsvarupa, Calcutta, February 16, 1972)

He wanted that the children in the movement along with learning academic subjects, should be trained in all aspects of Krsna consciousness. He stressed that this can only be accomplished if the parents and teachers are sincere devotees, following all the rules and regulations and behaving in an impeccable manner, for “children’s nature is to imitate”. (Lecture on SB 2.3.15, Los Angeles, June 1, 1972)

Simply follow the program of the elders, let the children associate as much as possible with the routine KC program, and when the others go out for working and business matters, the children can be given classes as you describe. They can learn our method of Krishna Consciousness by rising early, cleansing, plus knowledge of Sanskrit, English, a little Mathematics, history, geography, that’s all. We haven’t got to take any help from the government by getting so-called accreditation. If outsiders want to send their children to us, it will not be for their accreditation, but because they will get the best education for relieving them of all anxieties of material life and for this education the government has no idea.

Where is such thing as transmigration of the soul being taught in classroom? If they simply learn to rise early, cleanse, all hygienic principles, their study will be greater than any government program. Whatever the elder members are doing, the children should do if possible. But for teaching, the teachers themselves should be fixed up initiated devotees, otherwise how the children can get the right information and example? (Letter to Aniruddha, Calcutta, March 7, 1972)

Srila Prabhupada condemned the modern education system in which teachers are appointed on the basis of their academic qualification alone.

For learning Vedic knowledge, one must approach a person who is cent percent engaged in devotional service. He must not do things which are forbidden in the śāstras. A person cannot be a teacher if he drinks or smokes. In the modern system of education the teacher’s academic qualification is taken into consideration without evaluation of his moral life. Therefore, the result of education is misuse of high intelligence in so many ways. (SB 1.9.26, Translation and Purport)

Not that “Professor such-and-such,” and eating meat. This is the degradation of society. He is doing the work of a brāhmaṇa—teacher means brāhmaṇa—and eating meat – Oh, horrible! (Room Conversation with Devotees, New Orleans, August 1, 1975)

The principle of teaching by example is central to the philosophy of Krsna consciousness. Srila Prabhupada expected not just teachers at school to adhere to it to educate the children, but also all preachers to follow it to be effective in conveying Vedic truths to people in general. He asserted that this would benefit both the preacher and the congregation.

So you are one of the chief men of this Institution, kindly maintain your behavior to the standard so that others will follow and the whole thing may go on nicely. It was said about Lord Caitanya: Āpani ācari prabhu jīvere śikhāya, that is, He personally used to practice Himself the injunctions and then He used to teach others. That is our principle: Unless one is perfectly behaved person, he cannot teach others.(Letter to Hayagriva, Madras, February 13, 1972)

If you are not ideal, then it will be useless to open center. You behave nicely, they will come, they will see, and they will learn. If you go to some school and the professors are rascals, then what you will learn? It is both, reciprocal. You shall act as professor, teachers. Your life should be ideal, and they will come and see, and they will learn. (Srimad-bhagavatam Lecture, Melbourne, May 19, 1975) 6

This is an article from the recent ISKCON Ministry of Education’s quarterly journal, Viplavah. To read it: http://www.dandavats.com/?p=63117

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Here is a recent video of him trying to encourage the distribution of Srila Prabhupada’s books with a Tulabhara.
Tula means scale and bhara means weight. Traditionally, someone sits on one side of the scale and on the other side rice with shell, coconut, banana, different fruits will be stacked, until it is equal to the weight of the person. Then this bhoga is offered to the Lord. Here it seems that the weight of His Holiness in books will be distributed to lucky souls!!!

Video: http://bit.ly/2RW9mOu

Source: http://www.dandavats.com/?p=81974

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The five Pandava princes were heirs to the throne of the world. Duryodhana, their envious cousin, was always scheming how to get rid of them so that he could claim the crown for himself. Killing the Pandavas though, was not so easy, for Lord Krishna was their special friend. And everyone knew that Krishna’s powers were unlimited.

However, by cheating at a gambling match, Duryodhan managed to banish his cousins to the forest for thirteen years. They took with them Draupadi, the devoted and beautiful wife of all five brothers.

To assist the Pandavas during their exile, the Sun God gave Draupadi a special pot as a gift. With it she could always feed her own family as well as an unlimited number of guests. The only rule was that after Draupadi had eaten for that day, the magical pot would produce no more food until the next day. So, even though they were living in the forest, the Pandavas were never hungry.

Duryodhana and his brothers often spied on the Pandavas during their exile in the forest. One day, while camping nearby, Duryodhan was visited by a famous mystic yogi, Durvasa. Durvasa was very quick-tempered. If he ever became angry he would put dreadful curses on people. And if he were pleased, he was quick to offer benedictions as well.

On this particular visit, Durvasa was not alone. He had come with ten thousand disciples. Duryodhana was crafty as well as evil-hearted. So he was exceedingly careful to welcome the great saint with the utmost care and attention. He personally made sure that whenever Durvasa said he was hungry, even in the middle of the night, food was brought to him.

The yogi was obviously pleased with Duryodhan’s service, and after a few days he said, “Ask me for a benediction. I’ll give you whatever you desire.” Duryodhana was elated. This was just what he had hoped would happen. But he didn’t want to let the yogi know that his desire was for something very wicked, so very innocently he said, “You are very kind. The only thing I would like is for my beloved cousins, the Pandavas, to have the pleasure of your company. By good fortune they are staying not far from here. I simply desire that you visit them.”

Durvasa agreed to this simple request. Duryodhana watched as the sage and his ten thousand disciples departed. He chuckled to himself, thinking, “The Pandavas have taken lunch already. Now they’ll never be able to feed Durvasa and all his disciples. I can’t imagine what kind of terrible curse he will cast upon them.”

The eldest Pandava, Yudhishthira, along with his brothers, greeted Durvasa and his men when they reached the camp. It was a shock for the princes to see so many guests. As the entourage walked into the camp, Yudhisthira turned to Draupadi and whispered, “Quick! Get your magic pot so we can offer them something to eat.” “But I have already eaten”, she confessed. “The pot is now empty until tomorrow.”

After exchanging a few polite words with the sage, Yudhisthira requested, “My dear Durvasa, you’ve been walking for so long in the forest. Please go and bathe. When you return, your meal will be waiting for you.” Durvasa and his disciples happily made their way to the river. The Pandavas, meanwhile, were in panic. They knew of Durvasa’s reputation, of how he was so easily upset, and of the power of his curse. Draupadi was in tears. In that condition, she did the only thing she knew could possibly help. From the depths of her heart she called on Lord Krishna. “O Master of the universe, O Lord of the gods, please protect us. Without You we are lost.”

Miraculously, as if from nowhere, Krishna appeared before her. He listened as Draupadi explained the whole situation, but He did not offer a solution. Instead He said, “I am hungry, Draupadi. Would you please bring Me some food?” Bewildered, Draupadi replied, “But I’ve already told You, the pot the Sun God gave me is empty. It won’t yield any more food today. Now I have two problems: I cannot feed You, nor can I feed Durvasa and his men.” Krishna merely smiled. “Don’t worry. Just bring Me the pot.” Still puzzled, Draupadi fetched the pot and Krishna inspected it closely. “Oh, this looks delicious,” Krishna said, having discovered a morsel of vegetable

stuck on the rim. Taking it between His fingers He popped it in His mouth. Then he requested Bheema, the strongest of the Pandava princes to call Durvasa and his men from the river. “Tell them their meal is ready.”

As Bheema approached the riverside he saw Durvasa and the other sages standing waist-deep in the water. They were all doing a very curious thing: they were rubbing their bellies as if they were filled with food. Bheema then heard Durvasa say, “Oh no! Look! Here comes Bheema carrying a club. If we insult him by refusing to eat what Draupadi has prepared, he will be furious. But how can we eat? We’re all feeling completely satisfied. I can’t eat anything, no matter how delicious it is.”

Bheema could hardly believe his eyes and ears. Durvasa’s ten thousand disciples were all saying, “Me too! I can’t even think about eating now.” Then, as Bheema got closer, they all ran into the forest, still wet from their bath, and only half-dressed. Bheema laughed and ran back to tell the other Pandava princes. Much to their relief, the guests never returned.

Draupadi said, “I realize what has happened. If you water the roots of a tree then its other parts – the twigs, leaves, branches, and flowers – are all benefitted. Krishna is like the root of a tree. So when Krishna is satisfied, everyone is satisfied, including Durvasa and his thousands of followers.”

Through Draupadi’s devotion and the kindness of Lord Krishna, the Pandavas were saved from Duryodhana’s evil plans.

Source: http://www.dandavats.com/?p=74239

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As I drive up to the Alachua Temple, I take in the beautiful grounds with newly planted trees, fresh flowers, and a well-maintained temple. I enter the Temple, pay my obeisances, gaze at the beautiful forms of our Lords, praying that They bless me and my family throughout the day with Their remembrance. They’re so merciful, exquisitely dressed, and the devotees marvel and discuss Their beauty when the curtains open for Guru Puja. I appreciate the fact that guests are well-received and cultivated nicely. I take darshan of the Deities. I wish I could help with the Sunday feast, but unfortunately, I’m short on time. It’s a little frustrating as there are so many activities at the Temple, and I’d love to participate in every one of them; but that, of course, is impossible.

That’s where tithing comes in. By making a regular donation, I can feel a part of everything that is going on, helping to maintain a strong financial base. In practically every religious tradition, tithing plays an important part. There are many quotes from different scriptures extolling the virtues of tithing, and the rewards that the tither receives. One quote I came upon says, “If beings knew the results of giving and sharing, they would never eat without having given, nor would the stain of selfishness overcome their minds.” Many people tithe because they know the benefits they will reap as they receive blessings for maintaining the Deities, feeding the devotees and guests, helping to maintain the Temple, supporting book distribution, and so many other valuable services.

So, in a nutshell, tithing helps the Temple, and it helps me. I feel connected, and my service expands as I feel part of the activities. I am enthusiastic about the planned Temple expansion and hope that Krishna will give me the opportunity to increase my tithing!

Source: http://www.dandavats.com/?p=73857

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Anticipating Places by Bhaktimarga Swami

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The flight to Port of Spain was early, and  got me landed in plenty of time for some fun happenings within the range of devotional yoga.  I’m looking forward to the next ten days which will include a quick trip to Tobago.  We have been contemplating for years on doing a visit to this touristy island.  Also, on the list, is my second journey to Suriname where everyone speaks Dutch.
 
Google tells me that the first permanent settlement of Europeans in Suriname was established by a group of British planters and their slaves in 1651.  In 1667, Suriname was seized by a Dutch fleet, and that year it was ceded to the Netherlands in exchange for New Amsterdam, now New York City.
 
When I visited Suriname, about five years ago, I was astounded not just to find mostly Hindustani persons (East Indians), but that the Dutch language prevails.  It is expressed from their tongues, and that’s the language of my ancestry.  It makes me feel kind of at home.  While winter bleakness will dominate the Canadian homefront, I’ll be soaking in some sun and rain.  

Which reminds me, just before I left for this trip my friend, Gaura, and I chatted, and brought up the subject of my favourite pop artist, voice-wise.  It goes to James Taylor, and his song, “Fire and Rain” with such poignant lyrics as: “Been walking my mind to an easy time my back turned towards the sun/ Lord knows when the cold wind blows it’ll turn your head around."   https://youtu.be/N4E9MKbOFAY

I anticipate a good time with walks, chants and various services.
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Chanting with Feelings by Niranjana Swami

Excerpt from the lecture by HH Nirañjana Swami

Baltics Winter Festival, January 17, 2014

The following is a partially-edited transcription of an excerpt of a lecture given on January 17, 2014, at the Baltics Winter Festival – Chanting with Feeling

Today I wanted to read and speak from a few quotes about the Holy Name. Some of them I have read recently and found a lot of significance to them, not only to myself but those with whom I shared them. A lot of times the devotees struggle to make their chanting relevant. The previous speaker, Dhīra-śānta Prabhu was using the word ‘mechanical’, and he was explaining how to avoid being mechanical.

The quotes I am going to present today are from Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura, and he is quite incisive in his presentation. The one thing I’ve really noticed when reading a lot of these references given by Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta is that he is cutting and very clear. When I use the word ‘cutting’, I mean he really makes it very clear what is bhakti, and what is not bhakti. Sometimes he presents it in a way ‘what is useful’ and ‘what is useless’. Sometimes, if we are not careful in our own discrimination, we may not be able to see something as useless, the way he sees it. We may gravitate towards a certain understanding about bhakti, which may be compromised. And it’s compromised because we can’t fully surrender, and when we hear about full surrender, it’s disappointing because of our own limitations. Or, it may not be disappointing, but it may also be fearful.

As Dhīra-śānta Prabhu was saying before, “Kṛṣṇa is Hari – One who takes away.” When we hear that, sometimes we think, “Why should I let Kṛṣṇa take these things away?” And we become a little fearful about what could possibly happen if we chant too sincerely. We have this sense that if I chant too sincerely, Kṛṣṇa may take something away – and I am not ready for that! But although Kṛṣṇa is Hari (One who takes away), when one cultivates firm faith in Kṛṣṇa and in His Name, one finds that Kṛṣṇa not only takes away our obstacles but He also takes away our fear!

And that’s encouraging. When that begins to happen, then a devotee actually experiences progressive advancement in his faith. That’s why Kṛṣṇa very clearly states in the 18th chapter of Bhagavad-gītā‘surrender and don’t fear’. He says, mā śucaḥ for a verygood reason. [Bhagavad-gītā 18.66] Generally we think, “Surrender is going to bring us a fearful state”, and that’s why Kṛṣṇa says, “Don’t fear. Don’t worry”.

We were recently reading a verse from the 4th Canto of the Bhāgavatam, where the Lord is addressed as Hari-īśvara. Śrīla Prabhupāda was breaking down these 2 words to hari and īśvara, with īśvara meaning ‘controller’. He says, “Because the Supreme Lord is the supreme controller, He can give full protection. He can also eradicate all the obstacles on the path of devotional service.” He also says, “Hari means ‘the Lord who takes away’.”

So, Kṛṣṇa not only takes away obstacles on the path of devotional service, which are generally our attachments, but He takes away our fear of losing them. And when a devotee experiences that freedom from fear, it’s liberating. When that happens, the devotee actually feels encouragement and gratitude towards the Lord.

Sometimes Kṛṣṇa puts His devotee in a very difficult situation, and the devotee begins to ask, “What did I do to deserve this?” But as we know, the Lord minimizes the suffering of His devotee. Sometimes the devotees have a false understanding, or false conception, to think, “If I am surrendered to Kṛṣṇa means I shouldn’t have to suffer.” And then they become doubtful, “Is Kṛṣṇa really protecting me? Why is Kṛṣṇa doing this to me? I am suffering! I surrendered so much to Kṛṣṇa – why should I have to suffer?”

But, the Lord minimizes the suffering. And minimization of the suffering means that we deserve a lot more than what we got. But minimization also means that whatever suffering the devotee has to experience now, presently, is actually burning up his previous reactions to sinful life, so that his future is bright – and in that way also Kṛṣṇa is minimizing the suffering of a devotee. That’s why Kṛṣṇa says mā śucaḥ… “Don’t fear! Your future is bright! Why are you fearful?”

When a devotee has firm faith in Kṛṣṇa’s words, he understands, “Kṛṣṇa is so kind that He is giving me just a small token in comparison to what I deserve. I have the faith that whatever Kṛṣṇa does is always for my benefit. And my fear goes away!” Mā śucaḥ… “Do not fear! I will relieve you from these sinful reactions.” But it doesn’t necessarily mean that the reactions are gone now. They are minimized by the grace of the Lord. The future is bright!

Therefore, as Bhāgavatam states, the devotee always goes on glorifying Kṛṣṇa, and he goes on serving Him with his body, mind and words. And then certainly, mukti-pade sa dāya-bhāk [Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 10.14.8], he becomes a bona fide candidate for liberation.

So when Kṛṣṇa says in Bhagavad-gītā 18.66, “Surrender unto Me, and I will deliver you from sinful reactions”, the components of that surrender, as explained by Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura, are given in the previous verse.

man-manā bhava mad-bhakto
mad-yājī māṁ namaskuru
mām evaiṣyasi satyaṁ te
pratijāne priyo ’si me

“Always think of Me, become My devotee, worship Me and offer your homage unto Me. Thus you will come to Me without fail. I promise you this because you are My very dear friend.”[Bhagavad-gītā 18.65]

That is our surrender. “Just Remember Me. Worship Me. Offer your homages unto Me.” And what else does He say? “Your future is bright! Surely you will come to Me.” Therefore He says, “When you surrender in this way, and when you abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender your mind to Me, then you have no reason to fear – you will come to Me.”

And that is the activity of Lord Hari, when that fear is taken away by remembrance of the Lord. Lord Hari is the ‘One who takes away’, but He also takes away our fear because generally, it’s the fear which is the cause of so much anxiety. As Śrīla Prabhupāda explains, ‘fear’ means to not know what lays in the future. That’s why we fear. “If I do this, what’s going to happen? If I get on the plane, is it going to land?” Fear comes from the anticipation of the unknown. Not only that, but when we hear, according to the statements from śāstra, that every living entity has a stockpile of reactions, where some are prārabdha(manifest) and some are aprārabdha (not yet manifest), sometimes we become anxious. “When is that going to happen? When is that disruption to my life going to appear?” But Kṛṣṇa says, mā śucaḥ… “Don’t fear. Just surrender and remember Me. I’ll take care of you.”

Surrender can be a fearful state, but it also can be a very joyful state. Because when that fear goes away, one feels so relieved that Kṛṣṇa is there. “Kṛṣṇa is protecting me. Kṛṣṇa is giving me His assurance that my future is bright. And I can see how wonderful my future can be, if I simply remember Him. Because if I am remembering Him now, and I feel so joyful, just imagine what it will be if I go on and continue remembering Him.” So, the devotee loses his fear by remembrance of the Lord.

As we were saying before, Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvati Thakura can be very cutting. What he says can almost instill fear, because in some of his quotes that we are going to read, he really draws the line: what is bhakti, and what is useless. Sometimes we don’t like to hear that something that we thought was useful, all of a sudden is useless.

There is a verse in the 3rd Canto of the Bhāgavatam, spoken by Devahūti,

“Anyone whose work is not meant to elevate him to religious life, anyone whose religious ritualistic performances do not raise him to renunciation, and anyone situated in renunciation that does not lead him to devotional service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, must be considered dead, although he is breathing.” [Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 3.23.56]

And Prabhupāda says in the commentary, “If all of our activities do not lead to devotional service, they are useless.” Here Devahūti is saying, “Anyone whose work does not lead to the religious life…”, so we may think, “Well, religious life – that’s auspicious! Especially if our religious life brings us to the platform of renunciation! That’s so auspicious!” But then she says if your renunciation doesn’t lead you to bhakti, you are like a dead body, although you are breathing.

Bhakti is what gives life. It gives validity to religion and renunciation. But if our religion and renunciation don’t lead us to bhakti – it’s useless. Therefore, Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta draws the line what is bhakti, and what is not bhakti. But before I read these though, I wanted to read something from Śrīla Prabhupāda, because Prabhupāda has also spoken on this topic, about feelingly praying.

He says, “Our chanting should be relevant.” He makes it very clear that if there is no feelings, it’s not so relevant. He talks about this in his commentary to the verse in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, where Queen Kuntī is praying,

janmaiśvarya-śruta-śrībhir
edhamāna-madaḥ pumān
naivārhaty abhidhātuṁ vai
tvām akiñcana-gocaram

“My Lord, Your Lordship can easily be approached, but only by those who are materially exhausted. One who is on the path of [material] progress, trying to improve himself with respectable parentage, great opulence, high education and bodily beauty, cannot approach You with sincere feeling.”

(Partial Purport) “…It is said in the śāstras that by once uttering the holy name of the Lord, the sinner gets rid of a quantity of sins that he is unable to commit. Such is the power of uttering the holy name of the Lord. There is not the least exaggeration in this statement. Actually the Lord’s holy name has such powerful potency. But there is a quality to such utterances also. It depends on the quality of feeling. A helpless man can feelingly utter the holy name of the Lord, whereas a man who utters the same holy name in great material satisfaction cannot be so sincere. A materially puffed up person may utter the holy name of the Lord occasionally, but he is incapable of uttering the name in quality…” [Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 1.8.26]

Prabhupāda goes on to explain how such chanting is inferior. Materially satisfied man may even occasionally chant the Holy Name – not just uttering the Holy Name once – but Prabhupāda says he can’t be so sincere. Sincere chanter is one who chants with quality, with feeling.

What is that feeling? We want to read a few of Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta’s quotes about what that feeling is, and here is the first such quote, which is an answer to the question “Whose offering does Lord Kṛṣṇa accept?” Here Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta draws the line! Pffffffshhhhh! [Guru Maharaja make sharp sound like drawing the line] Let me show you what that line is.

“ ‘O Kṛṣṇa! I do not want from You any happiness for myself. Whatever You want from me, I will obey without fail. Even if I have to suffer in doing Your will, that suffering will be my pleasure. You are the all-auspicious Lord, and as such, Your arrangements can never be inauspicious.’

“If a servant of Kṛṣṇa prays to Him with such faith and feelings, the Lord will certainly accept his offerings. Without these feelings and faith, the Lord will not accept that which is offered.”[“Amṛta Vāṇī: Nectar of Instructions of Immortality” by Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Saraswati]

In the first part Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta is actually speaking this as if it’s a prayer. “O Kṛṣṇa! I do not want from You any happiness for me.” Are we ready to say that? “Kṛṣṇa I don’t want from You any happiness for me. Please, spare me of that. I don’t want it. Whatever You want from me, I will obey without fail! Even if I have to suffer in doing Your will, that suffering will be my pleasure.” In other words, Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta is making it clear that a devotee only wants service. That’s all he asks for.

In the second part, Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta draws the line. Pffffffshhhhh! If one doesn’t have these feelings, Kṛṣṇa doesn’t hear! Kṛṣṇa doesn’t listen!

Oftentimes we quote a verse from Prahlāda Mahārāja, where he’s speaking to his friends, classmates in the school, sons of the demons.

“My dear friends, O sons of the demons, you cannot please the Supreme Personality of Godhead by becoming perfect brāhmaṇas, demigods or great saints or by becoming perfectly good in etiquette or vast learning. None of these qualifications can awaken the pleasure of the Lord. Nor by charity, austerity, sacrifice, cleanliness or vows can one satisfy the Lord. The Lord is pleased only if one has unflinching, unalloyed devotion to Him. Without sincere devotional service, everything is simply a show.” [Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 7.7.51-52]

Here is where Prahlāda Mahārāja draws the line. Who does Kṛṣṇa look at? Who gets Kṛṣṇa’s attention? Those who have unflinching faith in the Lord. Not by dint of their austerities, not by dint of their sacrifices, or their acceptance of vows. These things in themselves do not capture the Lord’s attention. That’s why Kṛṣṇa says,

“Whatever you do, whatever you eat, whatever you offer or give away, and whatever austerities you perform – do that, O son of Kuntī, as an offering to Me.” [Bhagavad-gītā 9.27]

Somebody may perform very severe austerities. Hiraṇyakaśipuwas very austere! Many people perform very severe austerities for other reasons, but Kṛṣṇa says, “Do it for Me!” So, Prahlāda Mahārāja is saying that if one doesn’t have this unflinching, unalloyed devotion to Kṛṣṇa, than whatever one does is simply a show! It’s meant to get somebody else’s attention. But Kṛṣṇa is not looking. His attention doesn’t go there. Kṛṣṇa’s attention only goes to those places where devotees have firm faith in Him.

That’s why it’s always recommended that we should associate with, and hear from, and faithfully serve those who have faith, because if we don’t have that unflinching, firm faith, how are we going to get Kṛṣṇa’s attention? We cannot be waiving our hands, “Hey Kṛṣṇa! Look at me! I am here!” No. It’s devotion which draws Kṛṣṇa’s attention.

Therefore Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta is saying that if a servant of Kṛṣṇa prays to Him with this faith and these feelings, then Kṛṣṇa will certainly accept his offering. Without these feelings and faith, the Lord does not accept the offering.

Who does the Lord listen to? Those who are not asking for anything, except for His service. Because they have firm faith that service is everything. The opportunity to serve Kṛṣṇa is the safest place. “Kṛṣṇa is so kind that He accepts me. He takes notice and gives me service.” When the devotee sees that kind of recognition, his faith increases.

Sometimes devotees ask a question, “What can I do? They don’t give me any service!” But what are we thinking service is? We think, “Service is what I’ve selected for myself to do! And no one gives me any service (that I want)!”

But when the devotee is sincerely chanting – feelingly! – he thinks, “Please, my only shelter is service! I can’t live without an opportunity to serve You. That’s all I want!” Lord Caitanya is teaching us,

na dhanaṁ na janaṁ na sundarīṁ

kavitāṁ vā jagad-īśa kāmaye

mama janmani janmanīśvare

bhavatād bhaktir ahaitukī tvayi

“O Almighty Lord, I have no desire to accumulate wealth, nor to enjoy beautiful women. Nor do I want any number of followers. What I want only is the causeless mercy of Your devotional service in my life, birth after birth.”[Śikṣāṣṭaka, verse 4]

This should be the sincere prayer of a devotee praying to Kṛṣṇa, “Please, engage me in Your service.” Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta says, that is a proper mood to chant the name of the Lord. Then one who feels deprived of service can chant with feelings. Then it can become very relevant. “I feel deprived of service. Kṛṣṇa please, give me service, because without service there is no meaning to my life.”

Just a few days ago, I was listening to a lecture where Śrīla Prabhupāda was saying, “Living entity who has no service to Kṛṣṇa, is like the finger that’s been cut off from the hand.” Has no purpose. It’s useless. Finger’s usefulness is only when it’s connected to the hand. Similarly, a devotee’s usefulness is when he is connected to Kṛṣṇa’s service.

In another lecture, given in 1973, Prabhupāda says, “Even if a devotee can’t serve to his full capacity, even if he wants to serve, Kṛṣṇa accepts that ‘wanting to serve” as a service! And his life becomes successful.” In another words even if there are obstacles to service, but if we want to serve, then Kṛṣṇa accepts that desire of ‘wanting to serve’ as service.

Prabhupāda is explaining in the Upadeśāmṛta that devotional service is a cultivation of desire: we simply have to cultivate the desire to serve Kṛṣṇa, and not our senses. And when we look at our own hearts and see our non-capacity for doing that, we should feel something. We should feel that we need help. That’s what Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta is going to say in the next quote, which is an answer to the question “How should we call the Supreme Lord”.

“Sri Gaurasundara taught us that in order to chant the Lord’s holy names, we must become lower than the straw in the street. Unless we consider ourselves insignificant, we cannot call upon another for help. Only when we pray for another’s help do we consider ourselves helpless. In such a state of mind we think that without another’s help we will be unable to do anything. We will understand that it is impossible to do alone that which is meant to be done by five people. Sri Gaurasundara has instructed us to chant the Lord’s names. We get this information from our spiritual master. To chant the Lord’s names means to take His help. But while chanting, if we consider Him our servant or expect Him to do our work, then there is no question of our living in the conception, “I am lower than the straw in the street.” [“Amṛta Vāṇī: Nectar of Instructions of Immortality” by Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Saraswati]

How often do we think, “I got everything under control: I got my life together, I know exactly what I am doing.” But, we have to feel insignificant. Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Saraswati says, “Unless we consider ourselves insignificant, we cannot call upon another for help. Only when we pray for another’s help do we consider ourselves helpless.” Are we praying for help? If we are, what are we praying to help us with? “Kṛṣṇa help me with my wealth… Kṛṣṇa help me with my anxiety… Kṛṣṇa help me with my distress, with my suffering… Help me get a job…” So many things we can ask from Kṛṣṇa. But Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta says, “No, we should not engage Kṛṣṇa in our service.”

Our prayer should be, “Kṛṣṇa, help me be Your servant! I need Your help, because when I look in my own heart and I see all the things my mind is filled up with, unless You help me, I will never be able to remember that I am Your servant.”

Uh-oh! What does that mean? Is Kṛṣṇa going to do something that can be a cause for fear again? Do we have enough courage to ask Kṛṣṇa like that? Again, mā śucaḥ… Don’t fear! If we simply sincerely pray, Kṛṣṇa will take away that fear! “Kṛṣṇa help me, I am helpless. I look in my heart, I see lust, greed, the desire for prestige. I see so many things which are dragging me away from Your service. Help me be Your servant and remove these obstacles which are preventing me from serving You. I cannot do that alone.”

Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta says, “In such a state of mind we think that without another’s help we will be unable to do anything.” Then he goes on to speak about being lower than the straw on the street, and the proper mood of humility, which I will skip reading, because we are running out of the time. Bhaktisiddhānta ends this quote with saying.

“… We often think we are doing the Lord a favor by offering Him prayers; that we could have engaged in some other activity instead. Such a mentality is an example of a lack of tolerance. We need someone to protect us from such a mentality, someone to help us become lower than the straw in the street. We certainly need to take shelter of a person who will deliver us from sinful motives. Śrīla Narottama Ṭhākura says, “Lord Kṛṣṇa does not reject those who worship Him under the shelter of the spiritual master. Others who do not do this simply live and die uselessly.” [continued “Amṛta Vāṇī: Nectar of Instructions of Immortality” by Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Saraswati]

Thank you very much. Jay Śrīla Prabhupāda!

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From Back to Godhead

“From the viewpoint of eternity, a life span of five thousand years is the same as that of five years: both are a flash, both temporary.”

Two summers ago when the Reforestation Department of the Sequoia National Park in California gave away excess baby Sequoia trees, I got four and planted them on our nine-acre property in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains. Sequoias don’t produce useful things like fruits or flowers. They simply live—for thousands of years. And they grow—hundreds of feet high.

Sometimes I’d sit next to my favorite of the four – foot-high trees, quietly chanting the names of God -Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. And I’d think how this sapling’s parent or grandparent was present when Lord Krishna was on earth five thousand years ago, and when Lord Caitanya was here five hundred years ago.

Over the next few months, as the baby tree took root, spread its graceful limbs, and grew, my thoughts shifted to where I would be as the tree reached its full height and girth. A few decades from now, when my body would become decrepit and useless, this tree would still be in its childhood. And when I, the soul, would leave this body to enter a new one—who knows what type of body or where?—my memory of this nine-acre plot, my house, my family, and my Sequoias would all be left behind. Yet this tree would be right there, growing silently century after century. And century after century I’d be passing from one body to another, from one universe to another, in body after body. Both types of embodiment—the tree’s and my imagined future ones—seemed futile. (At least the giant Sequoia, though, would be providing shelter for birds and animals. Who knows what I’d be doing?)

What attracted me to this tree over the hundreds of others that decorate our property? Its extraordinary ability to survive. I realized that although I hear and use the word eternal often, its actual import is alien to me; otherwise, why would I be impressed with a life span of a mere five thousand years? From the viewpoint of eternity, a life span of five thousand years is the same as that of five years: both are a flash, both temporary. Either way, the body disintegrates and the soul moves on.

Longevity attracts me because I’m an eternal spiritual being, an imperishable soul. In my natural state I don’t transmigrate. So, since I’m not meant to be helplessly, traumatically dragged from one body to another, I crave permanence in this life. But I don’t really want the permanence of a giant Sequoia. Although by comparison to mine, the length of its life is awe-inspiring, to stand in one place, immobile and incommunicative, would be awful. I’m not meant for that.

I’m meant to serve Krishna, without interruption and without motivation. By such devotional service I’ll rejoin Him eternally in His eternal home in a blissful, eternal, spiritual body.

Unfortunately, my present service to God is both interrupted and motivated. So I don’t qualify to regain an eternal body. I’m stuck with temporary ones unavoidably accompanied by birth and death.

My attitude reminds me of that of my two-year-old, who blithely answers “no” to the most reasonable requests: “Sit down and eat your dinner.” “No.” “Let’s put your shoes on.” “No.” And so forth. “No” to her is an easy answer that saves her the trouble of stopping whatever she’s doing to do something else—even something better.

Similarly, when Krishna says, “Give up sense gratification and follow Me,” I respond with her mentality: “No.” “Always think of Me.” “No.” And so forth.

Now if I could get out of the two-year-old stage and enter the stage of cooperation and surrender to the Lord, I could, conceivably, avoid having to take more material bodies after this one is finished. And even if I’m not completely successful, whatever advancement I make will stay with me as I transmigrate from body to body. If in some future body I continue to advance, I’ll be adding to the progress I’ve already made. So even if finishing up this temporary-body business in this lifetime is a long shot, it’s one that’s supremely worthwhile.

Srila Prabhupada explains, “One should be captivated by this information. He should desire to transfer himself to that eternal world and extricate himself from this false reflection of reality. For one who is too much attached to this material world, it is very difficult to cut that attachment, but if he takes to Krishna consciousness there is a chance of gradually becoming detached. One has to associate himself with devotees, those who are in Krishna consciousness. One should search out a society dedicated to Krishna consciousness and learn how to discharge devotional service. In this way he can cut off his attachment to the material world.” (Bhagavad-gita 15.6, purport)

Since the Sequoias are on our property, we can protect them from being cut. And the attachments and rebellions that have grown up in my mind I can cut down, especially by learning from the examples of my godbrothers and godsisters. By their inspiration, one day I may be qualified for a body that outlives even innumerable giant Sequoias.

Source: http://www.dandavats.com/?p=4065

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Unity in diversity by Giriraj das

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I recently read a very inspiring verse on dandavats. It spoke about unity among devotees. It was not only encouraging, as it pleases Krishna, it also gave a benediction to all the devotees who remain united despite differences in the group/society. Unity in diversity. let’s read the verse

śrī-bhagavān uvāca
varaṁ vṛṇīdhvaṁ bhadraṁ vo
yūyaṁ me nṛpa-nandanāḥ
sauhārdenāpṛthag-dharmās
tuṣṭo ’haṁ sauhṛdena vaḥ

The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: My dear sons of the King, I am very much pleased by the friendly relationships among you. All of you are engaged in one occupation — devotional service. I am so pleased with your mutual friendship that I wish you all good fortune. Now you may ask a benediction of Me.

Since the sons of King Prācīnabarhiṣat were all united in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, the Lord was very pleased with them. Each and every one of the sons of King Prācīnabarhiṣat was an individual soul, but they were united in offering transcendental service to the Lord. The unity of the individual souls attempting to satisfy the Supreme Lord or rendering service to the Lord is real unity. In the material world such unity is not possible. Even though people may officially unite, they all have different interests.

In the United Nations, for instance, all the nations have their particular national ambitions, and consequently they cannot be united. Disunity between individual souls is so strong within this material world that even in a society of Kṛṣṇa consciousness, members sometimes appear disunited due to their having different opinions and leaning toward material things. Actually, in Krishna consciousness there cannot be two opinions. There is only one goal: to serve Kṛṣṇa to one’s best ability. If there is some disagreement over service, such disagreement is to be taken as spiritual. Those who are actually engaged in the service of the Supreme Personality of Godhead cannot be disunited in any circumstance. This makes the Supreme Personality of Godhead very happy and willing to award all kinds of benediction to His devotees, as indicated in this verse. We can see that the Lord is immediately prepared to award all benedictions to the sons of King Prācīnabarhiṣat.

(SB 4.30.8+p)

Srila Prabhupada sets the mood- unity in diversity

Now this displeasing of godbrothers has already begun and gives me too much agitation in my mind. Our Gaudiya Math people fought with one another after the demise of Guru Maharaja but my disciples have already begun fighting even in my presence. So I am greatly concerned about it.

Following in the footprints of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu:
trnad api su-nicena taror api sahisnuna
amanina manadena kirtaniya sada harih
“One should chant the holy name of the Lord in a humble state of mind, thinking oneself lower than the straw in the street; one should be more tolerant than a tree, devoid of all sense of false prestige and should be ready to offer all respect to others. In such a state of mind one can chant the holy name of the Lord constantly.”
We must always remember this verse and be as tolerant as the tree, as we execute the Krsna consciousness movement. Without this mentality we cannot be successful.

Material nature means dissension and disagreement, especially in this Kali yuga. But, for this Krsna consciousness movement its success will depend on agreement, even though there are varieties of engagements. In the material world there are varieties, but there is no agreement. In the spiritual world there are varieties, but there is agreement. That is the difference. The materialist without being able to adjust the varieties and the disagreements makes everything zero. They cannot come into agreement with varieties, but if we keep Krsna in the center, then there will be agreement in varieties. This is called unity in diversity. I am therefore suggesting that all our men meet in Mayapur every year during the birth anniversary of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu. With all GBC and senior men present we should discuss how to make unity in diversity. But, if we fight on account of diversity, then it is simply the material platform. Please try to maintain the philosophy of unity in diversity. That will make our movement successful.

One section of men have already gone out, therefore we must be very careful to maintain unity in diversity, and remember the story in Aesop’s Fables of the father of many children with the bundle of sticks. When the father asked his children to break the bundle of sticks wrapped in a bag, none of them could do it. But, when they removed the sticks from the bag, and tried one by one, the sticks were easily broken. So this is the strength in unity. If we are bunched up, we can never be broken, but when divided, then we can become broken very easily.

(letter to Kirtananda, 18th October 1973)

Work together

Prabhupāda: Caitanya Mahāprabhu Himself says, ekākī āmāra nāhi pāya bolo.

Prabhupāda: ….The purport of the verse is that even Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu—He is God himself, Kṛṣṇa Himself—He felt, alone, unable to do this task. He felt. So this is the position. You are cooperating; therefore I am getting the credit. Otherwise, alone what could I do? Ekākī āmāra nāhi pāya bolo. Caitanya Mahāprabhu Himself wanted our cooperation. He is God, Kṛṣṇa. And therefore cooperation is very important thing. Nobody should think that “I have got so great ability. I can do.” No. It is simply by cooperation we can do very big thing. “United we stand; divided we fall.” This is our… So be strong in pushing on Kṛṣṇa consciousness, and Kṛṣṇa will help. He is the strongest.

Still, we must be combined together. Saṅkīrtana. Saṅkīrtana means many men combined together chanting. That is saṅkīrtana. Otherwise kīrtana. Saṅkīrtana. Bahubhir militvā kīrtayeti saṅkīrtana.. Bahu. Bahu means many; many combined together. That is Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s mission: combined together. All nations, all persons, they should combine together. There is hope in our Society, combination. There are Hindus; there are Muslims; there are Christians; there are black, white. Combine them. That looks very beautiful, just like combination of many flowers. There is black flower also. It looks nice, very nice. Each and every flower take alone, it is not beautiful, but when they are combined together, it looks very beautiful. It is attractive. And that is wanted. 

(conversation, 16th March 1976, Mayapur)

Caitanya Mahaprabhu Himself sets the mood for all His followers. As His ‘senapati bhakta’ Srila Prabhupada practiced this principle all his life and he repeatedly encouraged devotees to follow this mood of cooperation with each other. This mood pleases Krishna so much that He readliy bestows His blessing upon us whenever we practice it. Now it is up to us to take advantage of it by applying it in our dealing with each other be it our temple, local center, Bhakti Vriksha group or home. The principle holds good, the choice is ours.

All glories to practicing unity in diversity

All glories to Sri Guru and Gauranga

All glories to Srila Prabhupada

Your servant,

Giriraj das

Source: http://www.forthepleasureoflordkrishna.com/2020/01/23/unity-in-diversity/

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By Madhava Smullen

Two hundred devotees from all over the U.S. are expected to attend “The Living Name Retreat Part 3: The Science of Achieving Full Absorption in the Holy Names of Krishna” from April 9th to 12th in New Vrindaban, West Virginia, and spots are filling up fast. 

The retreat will be the only chance to see facilitator and ISKCON guru Sacinandana Swami in North America this year, as he will be canceling all other U.S. engagements, including Sadhu Sanga, to focus on projects in Germany. 

The Living Name Retreat is a unique experience focused on reigniting one’s relationship with the Holy Name. “We can be chanting ‘broken names,’ or inattentive japa for years, but if we come to Maharaja’s retreat with an open mind and heart, he can help us access why we chant,” says Rukmini Priya Poddar, a gurukuli who has attended several retreats. “He reminds us that the Holy Name is a person, and that we can invest in our relationship by going through a systematic process.”

The New Vrindaban Easter Weekend event is an opportunity to benefit from Sacinandana Swami’s decades of insight into the Holy Name, and to experience a worldwide phenomenon that has deeply affected many lives since its inception.

It all began twenty-five years ago, when Maharaja spent the whole month of Kartik in seclusion in Vrindavan, India, chanting japa from sunrise to sunset. He has done the same every year since, bringing the inspiration he derives to his retreats. 

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In 2006, he held the first Japa Retreat in a chaleigh in Switzerland, guiding just a handful of devotees in chanting sixty-four rounds a day. Realizing that not everyone could do this, he began to develop courses and offered them on Croatian islands in the Adriatic Sea. These became so popular that devotees began inviting him all over the world, and the bug spread. 

In 2011, Sacinandana Swami added kirtan to his retreats, and changed the name to “Holy Name Retreats”; he changed it again in 2018 to “The Living Name,” upon the release of his similarly-titled book. Today, he holds three to four retreats per year – one in Russia, near Moscow, which draws 500 to 600 people; one in Europe in places like Radhadesh, Belgium; one in North America, often in New Vrindaban; and one in Vrindavan, India at Govardhan. 

“The Govardhan retreat is quite powerful,” says Rukmini. “It’s a full six days, and includes a sixty-four round day at Ter Kadamba, a 12-hour kirtan near Govinda Kund, and seminars on the Holy Name right by the hillside of Govardhan. So you feel like you’re embraced by Braj, taking shelter of the Dhama.” 

April’s Living Name Retreat might be the closest experience to this one can get, held in New Vrindaban, of which Srila Prabhupada stated during a 1972 visit, “This Vrindaban, that Vrindavan, no difference.” The venue, a beautiful yogashala, features three walls of panoramic windows overlooking New Vrindaban’s own Kusum Sarovara lake, and surrounded by cows, peacocks, peaceful trails, and many other replicas of Vrindavan’s sacred pilgrimage spots.

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The event will begin on Thursday evening from 6 to 9pm with “Entering the Retreat,” during which Sacinandana Swami will tune people in with an intention-setting lecture and kirtan.

Every morning during the retreat, there will be a full morning program, including options to take yoga classes, attend go-puja and milk the cows.  

In place of the usual morning lecture, Sacinandana Swami will give a Discovery Class, exploring themes from his book like “The Divine Reciprocation,” “The One and Only Necessity,” and “The Essence: Surrender Unto Me – Krishna.” These will be followed at 11am by workshops like “Attaining the Qualifications to Chant” and “Chanting with Devotional Feelings.”

“The whole idea is that in the morning sessions, we talk about different ways we can connect with the Holy Name,” says Rukmini. “Then in the workshops, we put what we’ve learned into practice with chanting, exercises, guided meditations and partner discussions.” 

In the afternoons, there will be an option to chant japa with Sacinandana Swami and receive his guidance; followed by dinner and then Lila Kirtan. This immersive experience begins with bhajans, over which Maharaja narrates a pastime of the Lord, before a seamless transition into a drama depicting it. 

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“You’re seeing Lord Krishna’s Vrindavan pastimes in front of you, which helps you become attracted to Krishna as a person, and to develop a relationship with Him,” says Rukmini. “Last year, at the end of every performance, people were extremely touched. They were saying things like, ‘I think I’m going to dream of Krishna tonight,’ or ‘It was so sweet seeing the way He danced with the cowherd boys.’ It’s such a nice way to end every evening, because then the next day when you start chanting, you’re thinking about those pastimes.”

The weekend will end with a “Taking the Retreat Home” workshop on Sunday, followed by an sumptuous lunch feast at 1:30pm. 

According to previous attendees, every step up to and including this point of the retreat shows incredible attention to detail. 

This year as with last year, the New Vrindaban team will accommodate guests in the Palace Lodge, cabins, and temple guest wing with its beautifully remodeled rooms. Three delicious healthy meals will be provided daily, made with vegetables from Eco-Vrindaban’s new hightunnel garden and dairy from protected cows. There will also be an hour-for-hour children’s camp, so that parents can fully absorb themselves in the retreat. 

For his part, Sacinandana Swami is involved in every single detail of the retreat, from decorations to how devotees are met when they enter the venue, to create a supportive experience for each participant. 

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“I was very impressed at how it felt like Maharaja was bringing you on a journey,” says Rukmini. “And that was really powerful, because often when we go to Kirtan Melas or other programs, it’s kind of like a free-for-all, you’re in charge of your own experience, and it’s very easy to be distracted. But at the Living Name Retreat, from the first lecture to the last, Maharaja was so thoughtfully bringing the entire audience on this step-by-step process. And you can feel an actual group transformation by the last day.”

This attention to detail even includes support after the retreat has ended, to make sure participants keep connected to the experience and retain the benefit to their daily spiritual practice. 

“On the last day, Sacinandana Swami has everyone write a letter to themselves,” Rukmini says. “Because in that moment, you’re feeling deeply connected to your japa. So you write encouraging yourself to stay on the path at a time in the future when you might be struggling.”

All the letters are then offered to Lord Balarama to give the participants strength. “Three months later, everyone gets a letter to themselves,” says Rukmini. “And so many people were so touched by it. I remember I treasured that letter.”

Support also continues after the retreat in the form of weekly follow-up emails and training newsletters from Sacinandana Swami, with japa reminders, inspiration and tips.

Rukmini says she and some of her friends have already signed up for this year’s retreat. “It’s really cool to see my own peer group excited about a japa retreat,” she says. She adds that the experiential learning it provides is extremely powerful, and the feeling for the Holy Name one develops during it can be tapped into again by remembering the retreat during the inevitable ups and downs that come later.

Even senior devotees who have been chanting for decades found the retreat life-changing. “I have to admit, by my nature, I’m not one inclined to sit peacefully through any type of presentation,” Ritadhvaja Swami wrote to Sacinandana Swami after attending last year. “But this Living Name Retreat was special, in that it captured my heart and mind. It was organized very specifically to keep us on our feet, eager and anticipating the next episode.

“Prior to coming I noticed, once again, different, old, and unwanted japa habits were creeping back in, due to becoming complacent in my chanting. I was actually deeply praying for a change to come about to help me out of this quagmire – and The Living Name Retreat sent my soul into a deep space. So thank you again from the depth of my heart.” 

Sacinandana Swami himself summarizes his hopes for his retreats in one succinct sentence: “I would love to see happy devotees, chanting with taste.” 

Register here for the New Vrindaban retreat: https://newvrindaban.com/living-name-retreat-2020-registration/

Watch a livestream of the event here: https://www.facebook.com/newvrindaban108/

Keep up to date here: https://www.facebook.com/LivingNameRetreat/  

Sacinandana Swami will hold the following Living Name Retreats this year, including retreats held for the first time in Italy and Ireland: 

April 9 – 12, New Vrindaban, USA

April 24 – 29, Moscow, Russia

May 21-24, Villa Vrindavan, Italy

Sep 10-13, Govindadvipa, Ireland

Dec 3-8, Vrindavan, India

Source: https://iskconnews.org/sacinandana-swami-brings-experiential-living-name-retreat-to-new-vrindaban,7251/

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It is important to always turn to Krsna and remember that Krsna will decide. Krsna has His plan. We can think of a chess board where we are a pawn on the chess board. So as a pawn on the chess board, we can see the squares that are closest to us. Oh, there is a horse coming! We can see that, so then we must watch out. But while there are a few squares around us that we can see, we cannot oversee the whole board. We cannot oversee the whole game. Krsna, however, is the chess player and He can see seven moves ahead. He is the ultimate chess player and so He knows everything! We can see the horse coming but we cannot see more than the immediate circumstances that we are in. All we can see is what is happening in our life right now and we see it as something good or something bad. But how do we know if something is really bad? How can we ever know?

Prabhupada told us a story about a King. There was a King and he was in the Royal Court where he was playing with an arrow and this arrow had a very sharp head. As the king was playing with this arrow, he made a wrong move and he cut a little piece of his finger. Well that was a national disaster! I mean, a piece cut off the royal finger. The whole kingdom had to lament about the royal finger. But there was one minister who said to the King, “Your majesty, this was a good thing. This has happened for a reason.” Of course, the King got really upset at the minister saying that it was good that the royal finger got cut off. “You think it was good? Well then it will also be good if you are put in the jail for a while!”, the King ordered. So in next moment, the soldiers came and dragged the minister off and threw him in the dungeons. After a few days, the King went into the forest for some hunting, but when he was in the forest, he got caught by some dacoits. These dacoits were worshipping Mahabhairava, which is the ghastly form of Durga, and so they decided that they would offer the King to Mahabhairava for auspiciousness. So these dacoits were getting the King ready for the sacrifice with the ornaments and all, but then they saw a piece was missing from the King’s finger. According to their tradition, if there is a piece missing, the person could not be offered. Oh no! So then, they allowed the King to go. After the King came back, he was thinking about his minister and called for him. He told the minister that he was right. “It was good after all that I cut that piece off my finger because it saved my life, but one thing I do not understand is why it was good that you were in jail… how is that good?”, the King asked. The minister replied that it was very good actually that he was in jail, because if he was not, he would have been with the King on the hunting trip and when the dacoits let the King go, they would have sacrificed him (the minister) instead. So in this way, Krsna can see so many moves ahead and we simply cannot. So we may think sometimes that our current circumstances are bad, but maybe what is bad now later turns out to be good. So in this way, Krsna is actually protecting us.

Source: https://www.kksblog.com/2020/01/krsna-the-ultimate-chess-player/

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I picked up a few sayings which very much resonated with me.  
 
Sayings such as:

“You may not always be called upon to be successful, but you will always be called upon to be trustworthy.”  Mother Teresa.
 
Another very reflective one:

“The trouble with most of us is that we would rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism.” Norman Vincent Peale.
 
I take a special liking to this one:

“You cannot build a reputation on what you are going to do.”  Henry Ford.
 
Corrado and I went for a brisk walk as it felt as if winter had finally set. In.  I talked to him about the importance of flexibility, and presented this one: “A tree that bends with the wind doesn’t break!” It was a version of what Confucius once said.  I can’t quite remember what Corrado and I were speaking about when mention of that one came about.  
 
As we trekked along Yonge Street,  the actual wind was quite strong when not near a building.  Certainly one has to be firm and grounded in goodness in order not to be blown way.  My scarf was rather up in the air, tossing about, but I kept my gravity.
 
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2515047425?profile=RESIZE_710xMany people think that science and spirituality will always be at odds, but true religion must be supported by science, and true science must be supported by religion.

Real religion is sanatana dharma, or eternal duty. It is based on universal truth rather than rituals or superstition. Real religion is about truth because God is truth. When religion is true, it is applicable to the material world and can be used to explain natural phenomena. Here’s how by taking three science courses (astronomy, chemistry, and biology) and studying three scriptures (The Bhagavad Gita [BG], Many people think that science and spirituality will always be at odds, but true religion must be supported by science, and true science must be supported by religion.

Real religion is sanatana dharma, or eternal duty. It is based on universal truth rather than rituals or superstition. Real religion is about truth because God is truth. When religion is true, it is applicable to the material world and can be used to explain natural phenomena. Here’s how by taking three science courses (astronomy, chemistry, and biology) and studying three scriptures (The Bhagavad Gita [BG], The Srimad Bhagavatam [SB], and The Brahma Samhita [BS]), I was able to strengthen my understanding of God.

When I started taking science courses a couple of years ago, I began with astronomy. We learned that from a moment of extreme conditions, the universe expanded (and continues to expand), accompanied by a sound vibration. By studying scriptures (BS 5.48, BG 17.23-24), I learned that through Mahavishnu’s exhalation, our universe began to expand with the primeval sound vibration of “om.”

In fact, The Srimad Bhagavatam frequently refers to the universe as “the cosmic ocean,” with the planets as “islands.” This analogy was used countless times in my astronomy textbook, since outer space is composed mostly of, well, space. Although we know how our universe began, our astronomy textbook concluded that modern scientists are not sure how (or if) our universe will come to an end. Will it expand forever? Will it end with a “big crunch”? Scriptures reveal that our universe will eventually be absorbed by Mahavishnu’s inhalation.

The Srimad Bhagavatam and The Bhagavad Gita also casually make reference to extraterrestrial life. Although we have not yet made contact with aliens, astronomers are also aware of life on other planets, simply because it is a statistical reality. As Carl Sagan says, there are “100 billion galaxies, each of which contain something like a 100 billion stars.”

Because most stars have planets, life on other planets must exist. The Arecibo Observatory was created in 1960 largely with the intention to search for alien life. The Drake equation can be used to estimate how many planets in our own galaxy, at this moment, could feasibly contain life intelligent enough to contact us. The equation depends on a number of variables, but Khan Academy has completed the equation in an online tutorial, concluding that there could be 12.5 of such detectable civilizations. (But of course, if they can go faster than the speed of light, and we’re still eating flesh, talking to us just isn’t worth their time.)

My astronomy course also discussed the four types of universal forces: the strong force, the electromagnetic force, the weak force, and the gravitational force. The strong force is what binds the protons in the atomic nucleus together despite the fact that positive charges should repel each other. Although without this force, the universe would be chaotic, scientists have yet to explain how the strong force functions. As The Brahma Samhita (5.35) describes, Krishna, the controller of the universe, is responsible for the strong force. He maintains order through His energy, which pervades His material creation: “All the universes exist in Him and He is present in His fullness in every one of the atoms that are scattered throughout the universe, at one and the same time.”

Astronomy fascinated me because the concepts discussed were so mind-boggling. Everything I learned in the course was confirmed in the scriptures, and what I read in the scriptures was confirmed by the course.

Next, I studied chemistry and biology, and one of the first things that we learned about were combustion reactions, the burning of fuel with oxygen. Chemistry explained the process of digestion as essentially being a slow combustion reaction of carbohydrates and oxygen as reactants, and carbon dioxide and water as products. In BG 15.14, Krishna says, “I am the fire of digestion in the bodies of all living entities, and I join with the air of life.” Moreover, He keeps our bodies running smoothly not only by facilitating the digestion process, but also through his presence within us as the Supersoul (BG 13.23).

Another elementary principle we studied was the conservation of energy, also known as the first law of thermodynamics. This law establishes that energy can never be created or destroyed. Energy can be transferred, for instance from the sun’s light energy into the chemical energy used by plants to create glucose, but energy will never cease to exist. Similarly, our immortal souls can never be created or destroyed. As Krishna says of the nature of the soul (BG 2.20), “For the soul there is neither birth nor death at any time. He has not come into being, does not come into being, and will not come into being. He is unborn, eternal, ever-existing and primeval. He is not slain when the body is slain.”

That being said, although the energy will not disappear, some energy is always lost in transfer. This is the second law of thermodynamics. This explains why only a few animals are at the top of the food chain; it is impossible to support more due to the significant loss of energy at each step in the food chain, which can even be a 90 percent loss per trophic level.

It is energetically inefficient to eat from the top of the chain, because we receive only a small portion of the energy we would obtain if we ate directly from the bottom. In my biology course, I learned that since plants are producers of glucose, it is most environmentally efficient to eat plants directly rather than to eat animals that have eaten the plants.

Herbivorous animals live in symbiosis with plants, because we produce the carbon dioxide that they need, and they in turn produce the oxygen that we breathe in to break down the glucose in our cells, produce the energy molecule known as ATP, and power all of our bodily reactions. Moreover, our brains run on glucose and require a continuous supply. (There are actually numerous citations–both scientific and spiritual–that support a flesh-free diet, but I’ll save that for my next post.)

This brings me to my final point: Newton’s third law, which is also known as the law of karma, states that every action has an equal and opposite reaction. What we eat has a direct and profound impact on our physical and mental wellbeing, which is why scriptures encourage an ahimsa (non-violent, vegetarian) diet for those that are serious about their spiritual development. Studying science only strengthened my conviction and commitment to this amazing, spiritual, and delicious diet. It also complimented what I’d been reading in various ancient scriptures and made my faith even stronger.

Unfortunately, there will always be people who misinterpret data and misquote scriptures. People who do this will always be questioning the validity of “the other side,” but in actuality, science and spirituality must always be aligned. Both are valid because both are based on truth.

*Note: This post also appears on my personal blog.

>The Srimad Bhagavatam [SB], and The Brahma Samhita [BS]), I was able to strengthen my understanding of God.

When I started taking science courses a couple of years ago, I began with astronomy. We learned that from a moment of extreme conditions, the universe expanded (and continues to expand), accompanied by a sound vibration. By studying scriptures (BS 5.48, BG 17.23-24), I learned that through Mahavishnu’s exhalation, our universe began to expand with the primeval sound vibration of “om.”

In fact, The Srimad Bhagavatam frequently refers to the universe as “the cosmic ocean,” with the planets as “islands.” This analogy was used countless times in my astronomy textbook, since outer space is composed mostly of, well, space. Although we know how our universe began, our astronomy textbook concluded that modern scientists are not sure how (or if) our universe will come to an end. Will it expand forever? Will it end with a “big crunch”? Scriptures reveal that our universe will eventually be absorbed by Mahavishnu’s inhalation.

The Srimad Bhagavatam and The Bhagavad Gita also casually make reference to extraterrestrial life. Although we have not yet made contact with aliens, astronomers are also aware of life on other planets, simply because it is a statistical reality. As Carl Sagan says, there are “100 billion galaxies, each of which contain something like a 100 billion stars.”

Because most stars have planets, life on other planets must exist. The Arecibo Observatory was created in 1960 largely with the intention to search for alien life. The Drake equation can be used to estimate how many planets in our own galaxy, at this moment, could feasibly contain life intelligent enough to contact us. The equation depends on a number of variables, but Khan Academy has completed the equation in an online tutorial, concluding that there could be 12.5 of such detectable civilizations. (But of course, if they can go faster than the speed of light, and we’re still eating flesh, talking to us just isn’t worth their time.)

My astronomy course also discussed the four types of universal forces: the strong force, the electromagnetic force, the weak force, and the gravitational force. The strong force is what binds the protons in the atomic nucleus together despite the fact that positive charges should repel each other. Although without this force, the universe would be chaotic, scientists have yet to explain how the strong force functions. As The Brahma Samhita (5.35) describes, Krishna, the controller of the universe, is responsible for the strong force. He maintains order through His energy, which pervades His material creation: “All the universes exist in Him and He is present in His fullness in every one of the atoms that are scattered throughout the universe, at one and the same time.”

Astronomy fascinated me because the concepts discussed were so mind-boggling. Everything I learned in the course was confirmed in the scriptures, and what I read in the scriptures was confirmed by the course.

Next, I studied chemistry and biology, and one of the first things that we learned about were combustion reactions, the burning of fuel with oxygen. Chemistry explained the process of digestion as essentially being a slow combustion reaction of carbohydrates and oxygen as reactants, and carbon dioxide and water as products. In BG 15.14, Krishna says, “I am the fire of digestion in the bodies of all living entities, and I join with the air of life.” Moreover, He keeps our bodies running smoothly not only by facilitating the digestion process, but also through his presence within us as the Supersoul (BG 13.23).

Another elementary principle we studied was the conservation of energy, also known as the first law of thermodynamics. This law establishes that energy can never be created or destroyed. Energy can be transferred, for instance from the sun’s light energy into the chemical energy used by plants to create glucose, but energy will never cease to exist. Similarly, our immortal souls can never be created or destroyed. As Krishna says of the nature of the soul (BG 2.20), “For the soul there is neither birth nor death at any time. He has not come into being, does not come into being, and will not come into being. He is unborn, eternal, ever-existing and primeval. He is not slain when the body is slain.”

That being said, although the energy will not disappear, some energy is always lost in transfer. This is the second law of thermodynamics. This explains why only a few animals are at the top of the food chain; it is impossible to support more due to the significant loss of energy at each step in the food chain, which can even be a 90 percent loss per trophic level.

It is energetically inefficient to eat from the top of the chain, because we receive only a small portion of the energy we would obtain if we ate directly from the bottom. In my biology course, I learned that since plants are producers of glucose, it is most environmentally efficient to eat plants directly rather than to eat animals that have eaten the plants.

Herbivorous animals live in symbiosis with plants, because we produce the carbon dioxide that they need, and they in turn produce the oxygen that we breathe in to break down the glucose in our cells, produce the energy molecule known as ATP, and power all of our bodily reactions. Moreover, our brains run on glucose and require a continuous supply. (There are actually numerous citations–both scientific and spiritual–that support a flesh-free diet, but I’ll save that for my next post.)

This brings me to my final point: Newton’s third law, which is also known as the law of karma, states that every action has an equal and opposite reaction. What we eat has a direct and profound impact on our physical and mental wellbeing, which is why scriptures encourage an ahimsa (non-violent, vegetarian) diet for those that are serious about their spiritual development. Studying science only strengthened my conviction and commitment to this amazing, spiritual, and delicious diet. It also complimented what I’d been reading in various ancient scriptures and made my faith even stronger.

Unfortunately, there will always be people who misinterpret data and misquote scriptures. People who do this will always be questioning the validity of “the other side,” but in actuality, science and spirituality must always be aligned. Both are valid because both are based on truth.

Source: http://www.dandavats.com/?p=22552

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By Madhava Smullen

When the late Sridhar Swami introduced Steven Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People to ISKCON in 1995, Serbian-born Akrura Das was intrigued, and began to take leadership training seminars. 

Starting a newsletter called Leadership Excellence, which was read by many top leaders of ISKCON, he was further inspired by the leadership books of Bhakti Tirtha Swami, and learned that people need personal coaching as a follow-up to help them apply their leadership training. 

Coaching seemed a very brahminical occupation to Akrura, so he took professional training from coaching academies in England and began to develop a “Gita Coaching” program for devotees in 2000.

“At first I focused on leaders,” he recalls. “My first clients were temple presidents, GBCs, sannyasis and gurus. Then I began to accept anyone who was sincere, and who wanted to develop themselves and take responsibility in the mission.”

Starting at London’s Radha Krishna Temple, and now based in Croatia, Akrura has coached more than one thousand devotees over the past twenty years.

Today, his mission statement is “Investing in Devotees to Help Them Succeed.” Serving the Bhagavad-gita by helping people to apply it through his Gita Coaching program, he offers personal and group coaching to devotees all over the world both in person and online via communication apps like WhatsApp and Viber.

Akrura regularly helps devotees with sadhana (spiritual practice), relationships, health, depression, finances, self-discipline and more.

Broadly-speaking, there are two types of coaching – directive, wherein the coach gives advice and teaches the client; and non-directive, in which the coach primarily listens and asks questions. Akrura favors the latter. 

“The advantage is that you help them learn how to think,” he explains. “You don’t listen to respond; you listen to stimulate their better thinking by your attention, encouraging attitude, and incisive questions which root out assumptions. Non-directive coaching empowers the individual to find their own solutions.”

Akrura also helps devotees move away from a negative inner dialogue – which he says causes most problems – and develop a more positive and spiritual inner dialogue.

“We work on how to perceive things,” he says. “You can see something as a problem, or you can see it as an opportunity. One of my main teachings is that every problem is an opportunity.”

For improving inner dialogue, Akrura also draws from the Bhagavad-gita 17.15: “Austerity of speech consists in speaking words that are truthful, pleasing, beneficial, and not agitating to others, and also in regularly reciting Vedic literature.” 

“This verse is so powerful, because it not only helps you communicate better with others, but also with yourself,” he says. 

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To Akrura, the Bhagavad-gita is an excellent success manual, with several verses and purports proving very helpful in personal development. As well as the instructions that can be applied to inner dialogue, verses 6.16 and 6.17 discuss how with balanced eating, sleeping, recreation and work, one can “mitigate all material pains by practicing the yoga system.” The Gita also explains how to elevate oneself from the modes of ignorance and passion to goodness and beyond. 

Using coaching support, Akrura has helped depressed or even suicidal devotees come to a state where they can not only help themselves, but also others. 

He has also helped ISKCON leaders overcome their own unique set of issues. “Sometimes leaders are lonely, don’t talk to anybody, become something they are not, or are afraid to admit that they have weaknesses, because they will look bad in the eyes of those who are following them,” he explains. 

As well as providing personal and group coaching, Akrura has introduced “success parternerships,” in which he teaches devotees to coach each other by practicing on him. “For half the session they are a coach, and for the other half they are the client,” he says.

Several hundred of Akrura’s clients, in fact, have gone on to become coaches, counselors, therapists, or mentors themselves.

Such devotees become “change agents” in their communities, spreading a culture of care, support and love. “If a client becomes himself a helper of others, that makes me the most happy,” Akrura says. 

Along with his coaching, Akrura also gives Gita and Bhagavatam classes, writes articles and e-books, and has a Youtube channel and Facebook page which all offer wisdom and inspiration. 

He offers multi-part seminars around the world, such as one on the “Avanti Brahmana” story from the eleventh canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam, which teaches one how to stop blaming others and take full responsibility for one’s life. This Akrura plans to turn into a book. 

In additition, he gives regular Facebook Live talks on a sequence of six main topics, each of which build on the last, entitled: 1) Excellent Questions; 2) Positive Language; 3) Use Your Intelligence; 4) Grow a Giver’s Heart; 5) Become a Trusted Guide; and 6) Make a Wonderful Contribution, and Leave a Legacy.

In some places, Akrura’s work has helped bring about a change in ISKCON’s culture of management, inspiring leaders to become more people-oriented rather than project-oriented, to value devotees, and to focus on individuals’ benefit and care. 

“When people feel cared for, appreciated and supported, their highest potential is released,” he says. “Miracles happen when people feel loved.”

To reach Akrura Das on mobile, Whatsapp, and Viber, call: +385917647925. 

Email him at: gitaseva108@gmail.com

For inspiration and live talks visit https://www.facebook.com/gitaseva

Source: https://iskconnews.org/gita-coach-invests-in-devotees-to-help-them-succeed,7246/

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Mayapur Panchakros Parikrama

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Tomorrow is Pancha krosa Parikrama – going on Parikrama by walk in and around Mayapur. We will leave from Srila Prabhupada bhajan kutir on 25th Jan by 5 a.m., taking sankalpa ( spiritual vow) to perform this Parikrama. The Parikrama will proceed through Jagai -Madhai ghat, Ganga nagara, Bharadwaja Tila, entering Simantadwip and visiting Jagannath Mandir at Rajapur. After noon prasada and katha, Parikrama will return back to Mayapur. Senior devotees like HG Jananivas Pr, HG Pankjanghri pr, HH Bhakti Vigna Vinasana Narasimha Swami, HH Bhakti Nityananda Swami, HH Gauranga Prem Swami and many others will bestow their association.

Source: https://www.mayapur.com/2020/mayapur-panchakros-parikrama/

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Unpredictable by Bhaktimarga Swami

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I rather surprised myself, on this second consecutive day, with a nighttime walk.  Corrado has now moved into the ashram with us, and he and I set a spontaneous faster-than-usual pace.  Both times I returned from a spritely trek in the neighbourhood, feeling no joint issues, especially with my knees.
 
What certainly contributed to the uninterrupted speed was the no-ice factor.  We have been running on above-freezing temperatures, and I'm not complaining.  Mind you, I am a bit of a sucker for the white snow.  But I am like most people—I don't want to go over my quota of the stuff.  
 
In speaking on the phone today to two Calgarians, when they said they were going through a forty-below-zero spell, I felt the chill in my bones, only because I've been there before.  Why not try 50 below in Saskatoon?  It's really something.

But feel the warmth, or feel the freeze, Krishna tells us in the Bhagavad-Gita that "it is all only by sense perception.”  Because we are not really this physical body with sensory organs hooked to it , it relieves us to know that we are beyond all of this.  We are transcendental.  Real life is with the spirit, and not with the flickering and mistrusting material energy. 

In two days, I'll be in Trinidad, and the weather will show a side of sticky heat.  Maybe so.  You never know.  It is unpredictable.  The uncertainty of it all makes life adventurous.  
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From Back to Godhead

Krishna is always engaged in sport, and when we try to imitate Him, we lose. 

When the 2017 Super Bowl game, the summit of American professional football, was held in Houston, a devotee convinced me and a few others to try to distribute Srila Prabhupada’s books at a huge pregame event downtown. Venturing into the passionate, teeming crowd, we sold a few books, but not so many. This experience reinforced what was already obvious: mundane sport certainly has a powerful allure. In fact, every year over six hundred billion dollars are spent worldwide on the sports industry, which caters to an ever more fervent fan base.

Why are sports so popular? According to Vaishnava teachings, everything here, including the sporting propensity, is an imperfect or distorted reflection of the original, blissful activities of all-attractive Lord Sri Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Unfortunately, although in this material realm sports may be attractive, their charm is illusory. We can’t enjoy the Real Thing here. At best we can try to squeeze pleasure out of a perverted representation, like a mirage in the desert.

When it comes to genuine, pure fun or sport, Lord Krishna is the unrivaled champion, the unabashed connoisseur, as we see in Srimad-Bhagavatam 10.18.19: “Krishna, who knows all sports and games, then called together the cowherd boys and spoke as follows: ‘Hey cowherd boys! Let’s play now! We’ll divide ourselves into two even teams.'”

Ravindra Svarupa Dasa has explained how the Lord’s pleasure in sport or play, unlike ours, is not materially motivated or contaminated; it is transcendentally ecstatic and pure:

God is playful: the Sanskrit term for divine activity is, in fact, lila – play. By His inconceivable power God seamlessly unites in His descents very serious purpose (to save humanity) with sheer sport. Thus, as Matsya [His incarnation as the divine fish], He frolics in the waves of the deluge; as Varaha [the transcendental boar-avatara] He enjoys a good fight. In all descents we see Him delighting in drawing out the possibilities of a particular role, a player in a play. The idea of lila captures a defining element of divine activity: it is unmotivated. All human acts spring from motives, desire for what we lack or fear we will lack. But God already has everything. He has nothing to gain or lose. (“The Descent of God,” Back to Godhead, May 1985)

The Tenth Canto of the Srimad-Bhagavatam (10.44.29) describes how Krishna and Balarama celebrated Their victory over King Kamsa’s demoniac wrestlers Canura, Mushtika, Kuta, Sala, and Toshala: “Krishna and Balarama then called Their young cowherd boyfriends to join Them, and in their company the Lords danced about and sported, Their ankle bells resounding as musical instruments played.” The purport to this verse, by Srila Prabhupada’s disciples, notes: “Nowadays we see that in championship boxing matches, as soon as there is a victory, all the friends and relatives of the victorious boxer rush into the ring to congratulate him, and often the champion will dance about in great happiness. Exactly in this mood, Krishna and Balarama danced about, celebrating Their victory with Their friends and relatives.”

Scriptures describe how when Krishna dances playfully on the hoods of the poisonous serpent Kaliya, the demoniac snake is humbled and purified. The Bhagavatam (2.7.34–35) says that even when Krishna kills inimical attackers – humans like the evil King Kamsa or animals such as the aggressive bull-demon Arishtasura – “The demons, thus being killed, would attain either the impersonal brahmajyoti or His personal abode in the Vaikuntha planets.”

Indeed, Lord Krishna’s sportive lilas yield only spiritual benefit and bliss for everyone, even “spectators” like you and me when we simply read or hear about them. In the material world, however, anyone who tries to imitate the Lord’s sporting nature becomes implicated in the law of karma. For example, unlike the entirely positive results when Krishna killed the bull-demon, when a bullfighter kills a bull the result is suffering for the bull and the bullfighter. The spectators become implicated in the karma as well.

Another problem is that nearly all the athletes we admire or idolize are not pure devotees of the Lord, and are thus unworthy of the inflated adulation they often receive. For example, even though millions of fans once practically deified the well-known American football player O. J. Simpson for his athletic skill, he was charged with murder and later imprisoned for another crime and is no longer considered a hero. Many professional, amateur, even Olympic athletes – supposed role models or heroes – have been prosecuted for doping, cheating, spousal abuse, and even homicide. Such athletes may entertain us, but they cannot free us from the material world, which, as Krishna explains to Arjuna in Bhagavad-gita 8.15, is duhkhalayam ashashvatam, a place of misery and impermanence. Try as we might we can’t really win here, and even if we do, none of us can enjoy our hard-earned victories for long.

Wasting Time

As a compassionate Vaishnava, Srila Prabhupada was para-duhkha-duhkhi, unhappy to see others’ suffering. Once, on a morning walk near a golf course in Dallas, he asked, “What are these men doing?”

When told that they were playing golf, with a tear in his eye Prabhupada declared, “See how they are wasting their time, hitting this little ball.”

The Christian evangelist Billy Graham once implied that sports are ultimately less important: “God answers my prayers everywhere except on the golf course,” he joked.

For any soul fortunate enough to have attained a human birth, Prabhupada regarded mundane sports as simply a waste of time, one among many futile attempts at happiness through sense gratification.

“In this age,” he wrote, “men are victims not only of different political creeds and parties, but also of many different types of sense-gratificatory diversions, such as cinemas, sports, gambling, clubs, mundane libraries, bad association, smoking, drinking, cheating, pilfering, bickerings, and so on.” (Bhagavatam1.1.10, Purport)

Of course, participatory sports do provide exercise and recreation, but serious devotees understand that mundane sport – including watching spectator sports – can be subtly or grossly polluting. Although often touted as good clean fun, major spectator sports are often connected with vikarma, or sinful, prohibited activities, through the products sold by their sponsors. Because sport in this world originates in Krishna, who is all-attractive, it can attract us. But we should be aware that it can serve as one of the many weapons of mass distraction of Mayadevi, a dear servant of the Lord whose task is to test our priorities by offering illusory allurements.

If we see in mundane sports occasional flashes of beauty, exuberance, heroism, excitement, drama, spontaneity, creativity, determination, great teamwork, and brilliant tactics – the skill, artistry, or prowess of a Pele, Muhammad Ali, Michael Phelps, Martina Navratilova, or Usain Bolt – we can remember that Krishna tells us, “Know that all opulent, beautiful, and glorious creations spring from but a spark of My splendor” and “I am the ability in man.” (Gita 10.41, 7.8)

Lord Krishna, however, does not want us to loiter in the material world trying to extract a mere spark of His splendor through perverted reflections in materialistic stadiums or on dazzling television screens. He beseeches us to attain His padam avyayam, or eternal spiritual realm, as Srila Prabhupada explains:

That padam avyayam, or eternal kingdom, can be reached by one who is nirmana-moha. What does this mean? We are after designations. Someone wants to become “sir,” someone wants to become “lord,” someone wants to become the president or a rich man or a king or something else.… Designations and attachments are due to our lust and desire, our wanting to lord it over the material nature. As long as we do not give up this propensity of lording it over material nature, there is no possibility of returning to the kingdom of the Supreme, the sanatana-dhama. That eternal kingdom, which is never destroyed, can be approached by one who is not bewildered by the attractions of false material enjoyments, who is situated in the service of the Supreme Lord. One so situated can easily approach that supreme abode. (Gita 15.5, Purport)

False Designations

We already have plenty of material designations: man or woman, American or Russian, black or white, Hindu, Christian, Jew, or Muslim. Do we really need to create more for ourselves? These superficial, material self-conceptions simply divide and bewilder us, causing us to forget our real spiritual identity. To get out of this dangerous material world, we must be free of all such false designations, or upadhis. Clearly, if we really want to enjoy transcendental sports with Lord Krishna and His friends in the spiritual world, we have to “give up this propensity of lording it over material nature” – and the attempt to enjoy mundane sports is rooted in just that propensity.

When we identify with worldly sports, we are simply concocting more unnecessary, artificial material designations for ourselves. We proudly wear T-shirts glorifying our favorite sports team. Although these teams carry imaginary names, many are fittingly named after animals or various creatures, and we often consider the players our heroes.

Real Heroes

In his purport to Srimad-Bhagavatam 4.25.25, Srila Prabhupada notes, “Material activities are false heroic activities, whereas restraining the senses from material engagement is great heroism.” In a letter in 1975 to a devotee who was distributing his books, Prabhupada suggested that even greater heroism than controlling one’s own senses is giving others transcendental knowledge. “During war time, a farm boy or ordinary clerk who goes to fight for his country on the front immediately becomes a national hero for his sincere effort. So Krishna immediately recognizes a preacher of Krishna consciousness who takes all risks to deliver His message.”

In his book Our Family Business, Vaisheshika Dasa explains that a true hero – a genuine champion – is “an ambassador of goodwill,” a sincere servant of the Lord who helps countless losers rise above the illusory game of material life altogether by introducing them to Krishna consciousness, especially through Srila Prabhupada’s books. The miracle of this transcendental literature is that if even convicted athletes, or you and I, are somehow blessed to read and follow it – in a dingy jail cell, a temple ashram, or a fancy penthouse – any of us can become actual winners. Our petty infatuation with illusion’s endless games, lifetime after lifetime, can come to an end, and one day we can participate in the real thing: we can sport face-to-face with Sri Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the ultimate sportsman.

Source: http://www.dandavats.com/?p=65072

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"The world will value us as long as we are valid. As soon as we become invalid, the world stops valuing us." 

In the epic of Mahabharata, one of the most important and powerful leaders was Bhismadev. As long as he was active, fit and fine, everyone came to him for consultation and dependent on his performance, skill and valour but as soon as he became incapacitated and incapable of performing and delivering results being fatally wounded by the arrows of Arjuna, he sort of became irrelevant. No one depended on him, no one came to him for consultation. One who was visited by everyone and was the center of attraction, now hardly got visitors and became sidelined. The most crucial war of Kurukshetra continued on without Bhismadev, the most critical person. Life is such that everyone has to become outdated and irrelevant at some point or the other. No one, however powerful he or she may be can be in the limelight forever. History ultimately shows that how every powerful person becomes history himself. Powerful time is powerful over every powerful person. This is the harsh reality of this world.

To stay composed at these these inevitable and difficult phases of our life, we need spiritual training. Only those who have developed some higher connection and absorption can stay put in times when they become irrelevant in life. Therefore, it is wise to invest time in making that spiritual connection when our body is still valid and fit. Bhismadev was perfectly composed and equipoised when he was lying in the bed of arrows completely cut off from the active world in which he was an active part of because, he prioritised making that spiritual connection with The Supreme Lord, Sri Krishna while he was still hale and hearty. Let us all try to live our lives with our priority right keeping in mind the reality of life.
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Diary of A Traveling Monk

Volume 15, Chapter 9

January 23, 2020

“Fortune in Misfortune”

My dear spiritual master, Srila Prabhupada,

Please accept my most humble obeisances. All glories to you!

This letter was originally written as a private offering to you, but these days my life is an open book. Because I act as your representative in all that I do, I want to open my heart and share with you the realizations I have gained while dealing with two of life’s greatest challenges: old age and disease. In making this private offering public, I also hope to instruct my own disciples, your spiritual grandchildren, who I’ve taken under my wing on your command.

When I was younger, I would preach with strong conviction about the “perception of the evil of birth, death, old age and disease” that Lord Krsna describes in Bhagavad Gita (13.9). However, I must admit that I had little realization of those unpleasant features of material existence. Only now, when I myself am old and diseased, do I realize the stark reality of those miseries. There’s a saying: “The hardest lessons are the ones best learned.”

Albert Einstein wrote about the value of personal experience in learning. “I never teach my students,” he famously said. “I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they can learn.”

Because I know without a doubt that you watch over and protect me, I am sure that you are aware that the most dreaded disease, cancer, has attacked me not once or twice, but now a third time. We say, “third time lucky,” but it was certainly not luck that the silent killer raised its ugly head again. It can only be the result of my previous sins or the sins of others I have willingly taken upon my head. But I want you to know, Srila Prabhupada, that I have accepted all the pain, anxiety and the discomfort I’ve experienced as the Lord’s causeless mercy upon me. It was Queen Kunti who gave all vaisnavas the proper understanding of misfortune:

vipadah santu tah sasvat

tatra tatra jagad-guro

bhavato darsanam yat syad

apunar bhava-darsanam

“I wish that all those calamities would happen again and again so that we could see You again and again, for seeing You means that we will no longer see repeated births and deaths.” [Srimad Bhagavatam 1.8.25]

Though my suffering has been minimal compared to that endured by Queen Kunti, it is unsettling (to say the very least) to be on death’s doorstep. After my five-hour surgical operation and several days in the intensive care unit, my doctor said, “Swami, you’ve clearly used up your nine lives. Keep your fingers crossed from now on, just in case.”

But I don’t have to cross my fingers, Srila Prabhupada, because I’m confident of your protection and the Lord’s too. You once wrote to me that you always felt your spiritual master was watching over and protecting you. I feel the same. Yesterday, in a moment of despair due to complications arising from my surgery, I prayed to you for a sign that you’re still there. I hoped you would appear to me in a dream as you have in the past. Of course, in 1968 you wrote in a letter to Rayarama dasa that “dreams are nonsense.” Nevertheless, your disciple Hayagriva dasa once reminisced:

“I remember Swamiji telling me that although most dreams are simply functions of the mind, dreams of the spiritual master are of spiritual significance.” [Srila Prabhupada Lilamrita, Volume 2]

Srila Prabhupada, last night my prayers were answered, and I dreamt of you again! You were visiting a devotee community somewhere in Europe, but the facilities were not adequate. As devotees were discussing how to improve things I went to your room and cleaned and arranged everything very nicely. In the late evening, I found you walking in a nearby garden and I brought you to your room and helped you settle into bed. I sang a bhajan as you drifted off to sleep and stayed up all night sitting in a chair next to you in case you woke up and needed anything. As the sun rose the next morning, you opened your eyes and seeing me sitting there you smiled and said softly, “Thank you very much.”

I take that dream seriously, Srila Prabhupada. You once wrote to my godbrother Sudama dasa, who was trying to start a temple in Tokyo: “Actually, I was thinking of you from London, and by the grace of Krsna my anxiety was televisioned to you in your dream.” [Letter, January 8, 1970]

Srila Prabhupada, last night’s dream has given me even greater inspiration to overcome the difficulties I am presently encountering in regaining my health and returning to the preaching field as your soldier in the war with maya. The preaching field is where my heart is. It is where I belong. You indicated the same in your letter to Sudama:

“So Krsna is very kind upon us, and His kindness will be more exhibited the more we expand this Krsna Consciousness Movement. Take it as a fact, there is no question of doubting this statement, the whole world is in need of Krsna Consciousness. Krsna inspired my Guru Maharaja, and He inspired me, and I am trying to inspire you all because Krsna wants it.”

Srila Prabhupada, I’m grateful for all the challenges that have come with my ill health for the realizations I’ve gained far exceed the pain and discomfort I’ve endured. In your books, you often speak of the frailties of material existence and how there is no shelter in this world save and except Krsna. You write that we must tolerate the miseries of this world, while not being deterred in our services. Lord Brahma says the same in the famous verse:

tat te ’nukampam su-samiksamano

bhunjana evatma-krtam vipakam

hrd-vag-vapurbhir vidadhan namas te

jiveta yo mukti-pade sa daya-bhak

“My dear Lord, one who earnestly waits for You to bestow Your causeless mercy upon him, all the while patiently suffering the reactions of his past misdeeds and offering You respectful obeisances with his heart, words and body, is surely eligible for liberation, for it has become his rightful claim.” [Srimad Bhagavatam 10.14.8]

In your purport to this verse, you quote Srila Sridhara Swami who states that by just remaining alive and following the rules and regulations of Krsna consciousness, one becomes eligible to go back to Godhead.

It is certainly my good fortune to be alive. The doctors caught my cancer before it could spread to other parts of my body. At 70 years of age I’m in the twilight of my life. The writing is on the wall. But for the most part the inscriptions are positive. Now, each day I awake and thank Krsna for another day of service to you. Each time I pick up my japa beads I savor the holy names like never before. Every word, every sentence, every paragraph of your books now acts as a divine elixir relieving me of the struggle of material existence and giving me more hope that I will achieve the ultimate goal in this very life. Now every moment is like gold.

So, let these calamities come again and again for by seeing them I have come closer to you. And by coming nearer to you, I have come closer to Krsna and to the privilege of assisting you one day in your eternal service to Him in the spiritual world, far beyond the dualities of birth and death.

In closing, let me quote you, for your words are the choicest in illuminating everything in this world and the next:

“This material world is certified by the Lord in the Bhagavad-gita as a dangerous place full of calamities. The duty of the sane person, therefore, is to be undisturbed by worldly calamities, which are sure to happen in all circumstances. Suffering all sorts of unavoidable misfortunes, one should make progress in spiritual realization because that is the mission of human life. If someone is lucky enough to get in contact with the Lord by devotional service, it is all gain. Contact with the Lord by any one of the nine devotional services is always a forward step on the path going back to Godhead.” [Purport, Srimad Bhagavatam 1.8.25]

Forever your servant,

Indradyumna Swami

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Source: http://www.dandavats.com/?p=81924

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Dealing with Anger by Arcana Siddhi

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The Core of Anger

In 1976 I had my first boil. Beneath my skin emerged a red swollen protrusion about an inch in diameter. The inflamed mound soon had a snowcap as the infection made its way to the top. Eventually it erupted through the skin and the infection came gushing out relieving me of the pain. For the next few days the discharge continued to drain out and the boil receded. I was glad to have it over with until a friend of mine asked me “did you get the core out?” Since I hadn’t gotten the core of the boil out, although it appeared to have completely healed over, it again became infected.

Moods or Mind States
We all experience different moods or “mind states” that can change throughout the course of our day. In a loose sense we are all multiple personalities.

It is very helpful to identify as many of these “parts” or mind states and be aware of how they can take charge at any given moment. Most people identify between 7 and 20 different parts—although some can identify more. Some universal mind states or “parts” that most people identify are the critical part—this part may be focused on criticizing everything you do or may focus on criticizing others (or both). Most everyone identifies one or more child parts. The child parts can be very needy and demanding generally corresponding to what they felt was lacking at a particular period of psychological development.

The Effects of Negative Emotions
The following is a dynamic example of this principle. In the South Pacific and some parts of Africa, villagers practice a unique form of logging. If a tree is too large to be felled with an ax, the natives will convene at the site of the tree every morning for about 1 month. Every morning for maybe 30 minutes the natives will yell and scream at the tree. Predictably, after about 30 days of this screaming ritual, the tree falls over.

What Predisposes Us to Anger and Resentment
There are many conditions that create a favorable soil for anger and resentment to flourish. By understanding what conditions nurture anger and resentment, we can try and eliminate as many of these nutrients that sustain their growth and replace them with conditions that encourage internal serenity and peace.

PERSONALITY TRAITS
Certain personality types are more prone to anger than others. Persons who need to be in control of situations and who demand cooperation and respect from others are more apt to respond with anger when others don’t want to follow their lead. Very unassertive personality types also are at greater risk of becoming angry due to not expressing their needs and wants to others. On a personality continuum, those persons who are overly assertive (aggressive) on one end and those who lack assertiveness on the other end, are more prone to have issues with anger than those who are more balanced in getting their needs met.

Another personality trait that invites anger is rigidity. People who lack flexibility are generally intolerant and critical of other people and become easily angered. Their primary conflict resolution style is competitive wherein “I win, you lose.” They will rarely agree to collaborate unless forced by higher authority, and then it is done begrudgingly.

This personality characteristic is generally coupled with black and white thinking. There is a cognitive inability to see shades of gray. This can lead to fanaticism. In very extreme cases this can lead to a desire to exterminate anyone who doesn’t believe the same way they do.

Impatience is another trait that predisposes us to anger and resentment. We live in a fast paced society and many of us suffer from the inability to wait for things. The whole culture thrives on our inability to delay gratification. The credit card economy, buy now and pay later epitomizes this mentality.

Personality is how we think and feel about our external conditions and how we respond to such circumstances as a result of our perceptions. Personality is the mentality we have acquired from our subtle body, which is a repository of images from our behaviors and thoughts, not just from this one lifetime, but many life times.

Attachment
There are healthy and unhealthy attachments in this world. Many of the clients I see in therapy have unhealthy attachments. Everything here in this material plane of existence is temporary, so loss is part of our human experience. Grieving is a natural response to loss. There are stages we go through in accepting any loss. Elisabeth Kubler Ross in her work with dying patients identified 5 stages that a person goes through when diagnosed with a terminal illness. These include denial, anger, depression, bargaining with God and acceptance. Depending on the degree of the attachment, we go through a similar process with many of the losses we experience.

The propensity for this intense attachment is often seen very early on in a child’s development. Young children who have a very difficult time accepting limits and who throw themselves on the floor with fury upon hearing the word “no”, often are the middle- school age children who are referred to mental health services with anger control problems. They are the children who get into lots of fights when they don’t get their way. And predictably these children often grow up into angry adults.

Taking on too much/ stress
I recently received an e-mail from a close friend. She became inspired to invite all of her friends to her house for Thanksgiving. Aside from inviting her friends, she extended invitations to all of her friend’s relatives as well. In a mood of service she set out to cook a Thanksgiving feast to this large group. But as the day went on, she felt more and more stressed with her undertaking. She started to feel resentment towards her friends for not helping her with the cooking. By the time dinner was to be served, my friend’s anger was smoldering. Unable to contain her displeasure, Joanne’s feelings fumed out with a barrage of insults and accusations. Joanne’s predominate nature is very gentle and sweet, so her friends were baffled by this out of character behavior.

This is particularly challenging to personality types that want to please others and have a hard time saying no.

When I was 21 years old I was a graduate student at University of Maryland. I had a part time job at the counseling center teaching assertiveness training groups. Most of the participants were young housewives who were experiencing resentment in their marriages due to their lack of assertive skills. They felt it was wrong to express any negative feelings like anger to their husbands. So instead of expressing their feelings, they ignored them and in more extreme cases, repressed them.

In my experience repression is similar to sinking an object, such as a dead body, into the ocean that later floats back to the top. The memory of the event and the emotion are pushed into the subconscious, but often the emotion finds its way back into the conscious mind without the memory of the event that created the feelings. Later the memory may also surface, but until that time the person is left with one or more free floating emotions such as anger, anxiety, depression, or fear.

Avoidance of emotions and repression is not a good way to deal with uncomfortable feelings and memories. Rather, they should be dealt with in a healthy, growth productive way.

Expressing our feelings in a respectful manner to others allows us to direct the anger energy outward rather than pushing it down inside. It releases the tension and allows for resolution to take place.

Ellen one of the group participants was very introverted and feared being rejected by others. This fear made it very difficult for her to express her true feelings about most anything.

Unmet expectations
We all have certain expectations of others and ourselves. Many of these expectations come from our family of origin. Often times young couples get married and each one has a preconceived set of expectations for the other spouse based on how things were between their parents. Sadly, many of these expectations are never verbalized and when they go unmet in the marriage, they create feelings of anger and resentment. My husband and I have counseled many couples where the primary source of anger and resentment was unmet expectations.

Anger often masks sadness, disappointment and hurt. It becomes like a protective armor shielding us from having to face more painful feelings. Anger can become an addictive emotional response similar to a drug or alcohol. When we cut ourselves off from feeling uncomfortable and hurtful feelings, we also cut ourselves off from the emotional growth that comes with having to cope with sadness and disappointment.

We also have societal expectations based on the culture we are raised in. We expect to be treated fairly, we expect to have our rights protected, and we expect justice to prevail. When individuals or groups are discriminated against and these basic rights are violated, the predictable response from resentment is aggression. In the 60s riots broke out in American cities as a backlash to a century of mistreatment towards African American citizens.

Terrorism is a heinous modern method for disenfranchised individuals or groups to retaliate for perceived wrongs. Rageful terrorists target innocent people in an effort to create intense public fear. These tactics may have some short term effect for the perpetrators, but violence against innocent people is never sanctioned and such strategies will only bring more suffering to the aggressor.

All anger triggers ultimately stem from unmet expectations. We expect people will treat us in a certain way. We expect that the drama of our life will unfold in a particular way. A person who has a very realistic vision of the world has more reasonable expectations.

Frustration
Anytime we attempt to accomplish something within this material plane of existence there is bound to be obstacles on our path. We have to deal with others who may move at a slower pace or see things differently than we do. We also have to deal with different types of modern technology, some of which can waste endless hours of our time due to some glitch or because of the complexity of learning how to use the product.

BEING CHEATED
When someone takes advantage of our trusting nature and exploits us, we can easily be cheated. Kathy, an 18–year-old client was referred from the psychiatric inpatient unit. She had taken a bottle of Tylenol after her “boyfriend” convinced her to have sex with him. He promised her that he would marry her if she gave her body to him. Shortly after submitting to his desire, he stopped calling her and wouldn’t answer her calls. She felt unprecedented rage and despair. In a desperate measure to get even with him, she tried to end her life.

Months after being taken advantage of in this way, Kathy held tight to her resentment toward her old boyfriend. He had taken her virginity, something she had promised to give only to her husband. Her feelings of mistrust extended out to the entire male population and she vowed to never get involved in a relationship again.

We can be cheated in so many arenas of our life. Scams of every description plague the postal service, the Internet and multimedia. Cheaters prey off trusting and innocent people.

“No Fair”
As adults this mentality of comparing what others are getting with what we are getting, continues. Perhaps we become a little more sophisticated in expressing our feelings. At work we can become resentful if our colleague gets a promotion or a raise. At home we can become resentful if our neighbor’s college-bound child gets a scholarship and our child doesn’t. As adults we may not scream “no fair” at our boss or neighbor, but we can nurture resentful feelings that can subtly undermine our relationships.

Recently a client was complaining that bad things always happen to him and life just isn’t fair. Ultimately, he was challenging the partiality of his supreme father. Without a spiritual perspective, it is very difficult to accept the perceived inequalities that exist in this world. The law of contrast will always be there. If we want to change our “no fair” attitude, than we can look for those who have less than us.

From Sadi The Gulistan:

“Once, when my feet were bare, and I had not the means of obtaining shoes, I came to the chief of Kufah in a state of much dejection, and saw there a man who had no feet. I returned thanks to God and acknowledged his mercies, and endured my want of shoes with patience.”

Violation of Boundaries
Norma’s story is a of violation of boundaries. Most people have a strong sense of physical and psychological boundaries, both of which are strongly influenced by the culture they are raised in.

The more we understand about our own unique psychology, the more control we can exercise in making positive changes in our lives. In this next section we discuss victim consciousness, and how holding onto anger and resentment creates this.

A person in victim consciousness perceives that they are helplessly suffering and have no control over their situation. They have a fatalistic attitude about their circumstances and rarely put forward much effort to transform their situation. We often hear them say such things as “This is the way I’ve always been. It’s just who I am.”

How we become victimized by resentment
It is important to understand how holding onto to resentment make us a victim. When we hold onto resentment, we are abdicating responsibility for what happened in our lives. We thus blame another person or the situation – or we even blame God.

Blame strips us of our power. As soon as the focus is on someone or something outside of ourselves as being the source of our distress, we lose the ability to make changes that could transform our lives.

Negative emotions are fueled by the way we perceive our situation. The kinds of questions we ask ourselves about our circumstances determine the direction we move towards in life. Questions such as “Why me?” or “What did I do to deserve this?” keep us imprisoned in victim consciousness. We want to ask the kind of questions that will help us move forward and will empower us to improve our situation. For example, ask such questions, “What can I learn from this?” or “How can I use this situation to help myself and others? These questions have enormous potential to change how we perceive our condition and thus how we feel.

Resentment keeps us emotionally rooted in the past. We have a limited supply of energy at our disposal. We have so many units of energy to expend on our physical, mental and spiritual health and on our growth. Keeping resentment alive requires a large output of energy, and this drains us of the resources for a healthy progressive life. It is similar to allocating money to take care of our current and future needs. If we are paying off a large debt from the past, we may not have enough money left to meet our immediate needs, what to speak of our future requirements.

Closing the resentment account will free up a lot of needed energy that we can then use to go forward in lives.

Personal Growth Exercise:

How does holding onto resentments affect your ability to accomplish personal goals?

Identify Your Feelings

When you express only some of the emotions you feel from a conflict or upset in your life, the resentment never gets fully resolved and the emotional tension can’t be released.

Start with level 1: Anger, blame and resentment:
I hate it when…..
It really makes me angry…..
How could you…..
I am so mad at you for….

Don’t explain your feeling from you head –express them from your heart

Don’t edit your feelings. Even though part of you might be thinking, “But I don’t always feel this way. I don’t really think he’s a jerk.” Let it out. By writing it out, you won’t push it down to make it an even bigger feeling to explode later.

After you write your feeling of anger and resentment, you might start to feel sadness. This is a signal to go to next level:

Level 2: Hurt, sadness and disappointment:
It hurts me that…
I feel so sad when…
I felt so disappointed when you…

Level 3. fear, insecurity and wounds
I’m afraid that…
It scares me when…
It reminds me of..

Level 4: regret, understanding and responsibility
I’m sorry that…
I didn’t mean to…
Please forgive me for…
I know sometimes I…
I understand that you feel…

Level 5: Intentions, solutions and wishes
I want to …
I promise to …
I hope that…
Let’s try…

Level 6: forgiveness and appreciation
Thank you for…
I forgive you for…
You are so…

Source: http://www.dandavats.com/?p=81928

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