ISKCON Derire Tree's Posts (13817)

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We have to conquer in relationships. We can never take them for granted and we can never think, “Now this person’s commitment is assured, so there is no need to put in effort.”  When there is a marriage and the ring goes on the finger, it does not mean much; it is just a little piece of metal. Marriage actually means that one has to conquer. So we should not think that now that the ring is there, there is no need to conquer the other person.

This is the same in the relationship between a guru and his disciple. One may initiate someone, but it does not mean that they become the property of the guru (although technically speaking, they are a property of the guru, in accordance with the Caitanya Caritamrta). The disciples however do not always behave like the property of the guru because it does not always work so easily in this world – “Put a banana in the fire and now you are my property!” It is not so easy (laughter). So this is how we can see that there is an ongoing process of conquering when it comes to relationships.

So it is to be remembered that relationships are based on conquering one another and it is in that way that we are able to spread this movement of Krsna consciousness. We conquer people not through some technique or fixed process, but simply by making an effort and displaying great qualities.

Source: https://www.kksblog.com/2019/05/conquering-in-relationships/

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During our residence on this planet, humanity has experienced many horrors- slavery, apartheid, concentration camps and many other nasty histories. Many countries celebrate independence from foreign subjugation, which were in many cases far from peaceful. Thus we can see what can go wrong when we become dependent on selfish leaders- Exploitation. Exploitation may be gross or subtle. People fear exploitation, but in general, we find exploitation everywhere. Some people are exploited and these same people may in turn exploit others. This reveals the innate desire for the conditioned soul to lord over material nature and of course other living entities. This is the flipside of our desire for independence. So we find people who are being exploited desiring freedom and we find the exploiters desiring to exert their independence over others. This is how society has been in our recent history and it will probably continue if we do not change our attitude. This is the reality of the Material World.

Since we have heard, seen or experienced exploitation, we may have reservations about authority. The Ultimate Authority is God but of course we are hesitant to accept theistic ideologies or philosophies because we fear exploitation by these people in the name of God.

However this should not dissuade the true seeker from the search of the Truth. If we see a man who is blind due to cataracts, it is ludicrous to recommend removal of the affected eyes. The prudent advice is to simply remove the cataracts, allowing the blind man to see. There may be pseudo spiritualists, but the there are real spiritualists too. In order to really understand any knowledge, it is necessary to learn it from one who is proficient in it. In the spiritual sphere this acquisition of spiritual knowledge from true spiritualists is essential for our divine eyes to see, since our gross senses have no entrance in the transcendental reality.

The desire for freedom or independence remains ingrained within us. It may not be a physical struggle against slavery. It may be our financial or physical constraints, relationships or just plain boredom etc, but the quest for freedom continues to haunt us. We have human rights and laws to protect them. We have the United Nations and many organizations dedicated to preserving peace. We have lotteries and casinos feeding off the hope of financial well being. We have jobs which never give us what we deserve. We have clubs, movies and other places of entertainment for people wanting express their independence. All this is available but still the quest for independence remains. Actually we find that the very means people use to gain independence causes them to become dependent.

We desire absolute independence, but we should understand that we can never be absolutely independent. Our independence is relative. We do have free will and we are able to make decisions that may change our lives but there are always limits to this. This is like when we are on a flight: We are have some options, such as sitting, walking or watching a movie but we are unable to play soccer or go ice skating etc.

Independence has been a natural desire since childhood. In our childhood we are restricted in so many ways by our parents or guardians. We would especially experience this during adolescence. At that time we may even attempt to take some independence but always awaiting freedom at the end of the tunnel in the shape of adulthood. As an adult however we may appreciate the restrictions by our beloved guardians. We can see that these impositions were not intended to be exploitative but were imbued with care and affection.

God or Krishna is our eternal guardian. However because of our rebellious attitude, He patiently and attentively waits in the core of our hearts for us to desire Him. When we use our independence to serve God or His devotees, then the Lord, who is absolutely independent, takes a more active role in guiding us. However He can only guide as much we let Him, in order to honor our minute independence.

As all surrender unto Me, I reward them accordingly. Everyone follows My path in all respects, O son of Prtha. (Bhagavad gita 4.11)

By this process if we are sincere, the Lord sends His bona fide representative to guide us in more detail. This is actually the greatest benediction for human society. Since we have no real vision of spirit and can only see matter, the Lord understanding our plight sends divinity in the form of another ‘human’ so that we may be linked to the divine. Thus our interaction with the Spiritual Master, who is always the devotee of the Lord, is actually interaction with God, but in the beginning it is not mature or obvious. By following this guidance with our life and soul we gradually advance in Krishna consciousness to the point of serving on the Absolute platform. The Spiritual Master may appear in more than one form, and this principle is never abandoned in practice or perfection.

In all relationships we find some element of dependence. However the dependence is voluntary. This dependence may lead to both happiness and distress because of the temporary nature of relationships or the actual relationship itself may be volatile or imperfect. Also we may find as the relationships continue, we become bored, or rather it is taken for granted. The actual reason for all this is because we are falsely accepting the body as our actual identity. We want pure happiness but never seem to be satisfied yet we have a desire for it. Since we are spiritual beings in material machines, these material relationships cannot give the satisfaction we seek. All these relationships are actually mirages of our real relationship with Sri Krishna, which is the oasis of pure pleasure. In this eternal relationship, we also voluntarily depend on Krishna and/or His bona fide representative(s), but we find an ever increasing satisfaction in this surrender to the perfect. It is utterly free from all exploitation and there is no limit to its sweetness, because Krishna, Himself becomes dependent on His devotee too. This is indeed what we were looking for and is the best use of our independence.

Thus I have explained to you knowledge still more confidential. Deliberate on this fully, and then do what you wish to do. (Bhagavad gita 18.63)

Source: http://www.dandavats.com/?p=6526

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Nick Vujicic was born without arms and legs. “Why me?” he always asked until he discovered that God had chosen him for a purpose. Because of his disability, he was able to reach out to people and give them courage. Nick’s zest for life and faith in God’s will drove him to learn to swim, surf, travel the world, and do things that even able-bodied people fail to do. He touched people with his conviction that God loves us unconditionally and that whatever He does is for our highest good. He exemplified that faith in God should not depend on what He dishes out for us; rather we should see His higher plan at work. Sometimes adversities make us question God’s love and His presence in our lives. We become weak to face the storms in a positive spirit. But Nick took strength from God. The more he took shelter of Him, the more he could see God’s purpose unfold.

More than five thousand years ago Lord Krishna was present with His pure devotees who lived to enable His purpose. Krishna, together with His dear cousins the five Pandava brothers, watched Bhishma, their paternal grandfather, lying on a bed of arrows ready to leave the world. Although fatally wounded, he could choose the moment to leave. Even so, how was it that the wise and righteous Bhishma, who was a lion among men, an invincible warrior, and a dear most devotee of the Lord, could have met fate in this way? But Bhishma knew that it was not fate.

As Bhishma gazed at his grieving grandsons, his voice choked with tears, he said, “Oh, what terrible sufferings and injustices you good souls suffer for being the sons of religion personified. Ordinarily, you could not survive those tribulations but you were protected by the brahmans, God, and your virtuous conduct.” The import of Bhishma’s words was evident in the ghastly scene around them. Thousands of warrior bodies lay strewn in a bloodbath, some beheaded, others pierced with arrows, and many torn apart beneath broken chariots and bloody carcasses of horses and elephants. The wails of these warriors’ wives penetrated the battlefield like a cacophony of wild animals at night. Yudhisthira, the eldest Pandava, felt that witnessing this distress was worse than the atrocities that had been inflicted upon him and his brothers.

These atrocities, caused by his own cousins, the Kauravas, resulted in this horrendous war. They had usurped the Pandavas of their rightful inheritance, exiled them to the forest as beggars, tortured and disgraced their wife in public, endangered their mother, and plotted their murder. Still, before the war, Yudhisthira’s brother Arjuna could not bear to vanquish his cousins and elders, including Bhishma who had taken the side of the Kauravas. Krishna had reminded Arjuna about his duty, to rid the world of miscreants, and to fulfill the purpose of His descent. Now Yudhisthira stood in front of Bhishma, seeking his advice. What should he do now that he had won the war? All he felt was an inner defeat, a throbbing ache in his chest.

Bhishma was glad that the Pandavas had won. He was, after all, one of the twelve most saintly persons in the world. But how then had he chosen the wrong side?

Bhishma exclaimed, “Accept the inconceivable plan of the Lord and follow it. You are now the appointed administrative head, so take care of your helpless subjects. O King, no one can know the plan of the Lord. Even great philosophers are bewildered after exhaustive enquiry.”

But Bhishma had a deeper understanding. He knew that the Pandavas had not suffered from their past misdeeds like ordinary persons do. He understood that the Lord had put his devotees in temporary distress to establish the conquest of virtue. He realized that his choosing the side of the Kauravas was also the will of the Lord. The Lord wanted to show that even powerful persons like Bhishma could not win if on the wrong side.

Bhishma continued, “O King, that personality whom, out of ignorance only, you thought to be your maternal cousin, your very dear friend, well-wisher, counselor, messenger, benefactor, etc., is that very Personality of Godhead, Sri Krishna.” (SB.1.9.20)

Bhishma turned his gaze to Lord Krishna, his eyes bright with tears. He understood that the Lord had chosen him to teach the world courage, faith, virtue, and sacrifice. His life too had been set with thorns. These tribulations had disentangled him from mundane affairs and attachments. Now Bhishma’s path was clear. Fixing his mind on Krishna’s beauty, glory, and wondrous qualities, he was ready to enter the spiritual kingdom.

“Sri Krishna is present in everyone’s heart,” Bhishma murmured, taking his last breaths, “He is equally kind to everyone. Whatever He does is free from material inebriety. Yet, He has graciously come before me while I am ending my life, for I am His unflinching servitor.”

Yudhisthira, his brothers, and the renowned sages and saints, who had assembled on the battlefield, continued to hear the godly advice of Grandfather Bhishma. When, at last, the sun sank into the horizon, Bhishma left the world meditating on Sri Krishna. The dawn of a new era emerged. Lord Krishna had chosen His devotees to fulfill His purpose.

Most of us are not like Bhishma, the Pandavas, or even Nick Vujicic, neither are we free from the reactions of our past misdeeds. But God has a purpose for us too. If we turn to Him, we will gain the strength to tolerate negative reactions of hardship and strife. Most of all, Lord Krishna’s loving hands will uncover our divine lustre as His spotless servants.

A poignant allegory illustrates this point. Once the marble floor complained to the marble deity on the altar, “How is it that people decorate and worship you with great reverence, yet they stamp upon me, not giving me any attention? After all, aren’t we made of the same material?”

The deity replied, “That’s true, but when our master had asked you whether you wanted to be sculpted and moulded into a deity, you refused. You thought only of the chisel hammering into you and the enduring pain. You didn’t think of our master’s expert skill, his way of carving something wonderful out of something plain. You didn’t trust his judgment or that he would make you more beautiful than you could ever imagine. That’s the difference between you and me.”

Hare Krishna News – Published by ISKCON Durban. Used with permission

Source: http://www.dandavats.com/?p=48654

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The purpose of this paper is to both establish the importance of the seva of reading Srila Prabhupada’s books as well as understanding the essence of the message in Prabhupada’s books which is the performance of devotional service, regardless of one’s role or place in society.

Firstly I would like to present my own personal reading resume: I have read the Srila Prabhupada Lilamrta five times, the five-volume set of the unedited letters of Srila Prabhupada three times, the Bhagavad-Gita As It Is 45 times, all 12 cantos of the Srimad Bhagavatam 40 times, Sri Caitanya-caritamrita 40 times, Nectar of Devotion 30 times, the Ramayana three times, the Mahabharata three times, the Nectar of Instruction 25 times, Sri Isopanisad ten times, as well as a few other books by some of our recent writers in ISKCON.

Some time back one GBC and some VIPs said to me: “Antaryami, why read the books so much? All you need is a computer and the Prabhupada Vedabase; ” My argument then and now is: the founder-acharya states in all of his books, conversations and letters that books are the basis and that we should read the books. I have personally found that computers are not reliable for searching data from the Prabhupada Vedabase. While computers do have a place in society, because they are designed by persons having the four defects, defective computers are the result.

While I have personally found that ISKCON is the most practical and beneficial society for practicing bhakti-yoga it should be noted that no other society or sampradaya is excluded from being a vehicle for the practice of bhakti-yoga in Srila Prabhupada’s books.

In Prabhupada’s books it is emphasised again and again that the best process today for spiritual advancement is chanting the Hare Krsna mantra. If one chants a fixed number of rounds a day (minimum sixteen) with faith, sincerity and perseverance success will follow.

In the Dallas temple, before the devotees and the Deities in early 1983, H.H. Tamal Krsna Goswami read out a letter from Srila Prabhupada: “My dear Tamal, the temple is likened to a military training camp where persons come and are trained as soldiers. After being trained they are sent out into the field to live an ideal devotee life preaching and living by example, or they remain in the temples to serve in one of many varieties of service. Those who are not strong enough to live outside the temple maintaining sadhana they can remain in the temple till such a time.” (I was there during this reading.)

Long before coming to the west, Srila Prabhupada asked his Guru Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati if it would be okay for him to move into the temple ashram. His Guru told him not to move into the temple, as at that time there were a lot of problems, politics, etc., amongst his disciples. It was better to live outside and practice Krsna consciousness and in time all would be revealed.

I present such examples because some devotees are disturbed when asked to move out of the temples. In a class given by Srila Prabhupada titled “weapons by mantra, and gopis have highest pleasure,” Srila Prabhupada quotes this verse by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu: “Every one of you become guru, and deliver; please let people understand what is Krsna.” No mention that one needs to remain living in a temple ashram.

While an ISKOCN temple is undoubtedly an ideal place to practice devotional service, it is not the only way.

Before Srila Prabhupada came to the west and started ISKCON, he was preaching in India travelling as a retired family man. In his preaching travels he did not direct persons to any particular temple. Srila Prabhupada was a really good, pure and learned preacher empowered directly from Krsna. With integrity he encouraged everyone towards the bhakti process.

There are four disciplic lines of bhakti yoga in this universe, from Brahma (ISKCON’s line), Siva, Laxmi and the four Kumaras.

The books say that Maya is a very strong personality. Maya directs us to always choose, whether it be enemies, friends, right, wrong, husbands, wives, etc. Maya also starts wars and makes the peace as well. She makes the good look bad and the bad look good. Maya affects our minds, bodies, intellect and intellectual conclusions. She does this personally and through her aides-de-camp, the three modes of material nature. Our tasting, eating, drinking, smelling, seeing, feeling, etc., are also affected by Maya. We desire something, and Maya presents it for our experience — it’s no accident.

Srila Prabhupada’s books show that Maya’s mission is to deflect one away from the Krsna conscious process. Srila Prabhupada said that this chanting of Hare Krsna is a war against Maya and that Maya’s work is to keep us here — bewildering us, cheating us, taunting us, playing with our mind’s eye and psychological intellect. This is Maya’s service to Krsna.

Some devotees, when they do not have the benefit of living in or visiting a temple will often stop the bhakti process. However Srila Haridas Thakur the Namacarya did not stop chanting Hare Krsna when he couldn’t visit the Jagannath Puri temple. Did he start some movement to reform the temple? Did he say “they changed”, “I can’t go in there” or “They beat me up and Krsna did not protect me, so I quit “? There are many examples of tests given in the books. These tests are brought about by Krsna through Maya, through the demigods and personally by Krsna. Such tests show the greatness of sincere steadfast devotees as well as testing the neophyte devotees’ iron. Tests are sometimes a result of past karma.

Srila Prabhupada did not start a reform movement during his lifetime. He just kept to the process learned from his Srila Gurudeva and, with faith and perseverance, living outside the temple, showed through example how to be a good devotee in Krsna bhakti. He showed us how to act (to be an acharya).

Srila Prabhupada says: “One need only know how to act, and it is faith only that will see you through in this process.” The books teach that, once having learned the bhakti process, one need only follow it with faith, whether in a temple, living outside or far away.

Some examples of devotional tests: 1. The brahman whose finger was burned in his meditation of making sweet rice. He learned a process not directly taught to him, and he privately practiced that process with faith. 2. Prahlada Maharaja and his demon father. 3. Sita devi, apparently kidnapped by a demon. 4. Dhruva Maharaja insulted by his step-mother. 5. Daksha’s cursing of Narada Muni. 6. the Pandavas exiled. 7. Lord Rama exiled. 8. Krsna’s firstborn son Pradyumna stolen by a demon. 9. The Pandavas’ grandson to die from snakebite. 10. Haridas Thakura beaten. 11. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s many associates faced many difficulties. In recent history, Srila Prabhupada the founder-acharya of ISKCON encountered many problems while preaching. Such examples and pastimes are there to teach, to help us stay faithful in the process of Krsna consciousness. There will be many problems; this is kali-yuga.

Srila Prabhupada’s books present perfect solutions. One needs to read the books carefully to see what those persons of the past did to resolve or deal with circumstantial problems and personal karma and eventually to go back to Godhead.

ISKCON is not a plain-Joe or -Jane yoga society; ISKCON is a Bhaktivedanta yoga society. There are many books; the acarya has asked us in every page and chapter to read them — it is our duty as Bhaktivedanta yogis.

Something to heed: In Srimad Bhagavatam there is the story of Daksha and Narada Muni. Daksha curses Narada Muni that he would not be able to stay in any one place for any long time. Srila Prabhupada says in this purport that this curse had fallen upon him, also, from the parents of the young devotees who joined his society. Interestingly, Srila Prabhupada says he has passed this curse onto his disciples.

Our friends, relatives, family members, children, enemies, mind, intellect, health, looks, senses, strength, birthplace, wealth, fame, infamy, etc., are results of past karma. Karma is not only a “sticks-and-stones, break-bones” or timely-death issue. Karma is deep and complicated. Maharaja Dasarath, the father of Sri Rama, said to his wife, the mother of Rama: “Now I see that no one is exempt from their karma — not even I.”

Srila Prabhupada’s books state the material world is so complex that sometimes even Brahma and Siva are placed into perplexities due to its complexities. Again, this is kali-yuga, the fallen age. Contaminated with the four defects, affected by maya and the three modes of material nature, we have unlimited karma.

The Hare Krsna movement always was and always will be about one thing only: Hearing, chanting, remembering or seeing Krsna’s form at the time of death — and that’s it.

I’ve chosen to read the books a lot. I felt it was my duty and, as Srila Prabhupada states in Bhagavad-gita, a onetime reading is not sufficient. For those of you who doubt my history of many times reading the books, I can only ask you to seek out those ISKCON devotees who personally know me and to ask them. One who has not read the books cannot ask others to read them. Hare Krsna.

Source: http://www.dandavats.com/?p=1350

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“This material world is certified by the Lord in the Bhagavad-gita as a dangerous place full of calamities. Less intelligent persons prepare plans to adjust to those calamities without knowing that the nature of this place is itself full of calamities. They have no information of the abode of the Lord, which is full of bliss and without trace of calamity. 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.” —Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.8.25 purport.

The Spirit Soul Is Transcendental to All Material Calamities (Right click to download)

Source: http://www.girirajswami.com/?p=15870

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I met up with Ajamila at the corner of Wellesley and Sherbourn. We hadn’t seen each other since the lockdown started although the occasional meet by phone. He’s doing well and is singing bhajans on-line.
 
Bhajans are songs expressing devotional sentiments, in this case, to honour Krishna.
 
I had a thought that before long we could possibly sing and play together at this very corner by the library. There is a nice flow of pedestrian traffic, a good intersection for exposing mantras where there is a need.
 
There are a lot of folks wearing masks to address the easy spread of covid 19. Why not also spread “the name” or sacred sound?  Without masks, of course. We only required to keep a distance from passersby.

I’m one of those monks that have it bred in me to share what I think will be beneficial to further enlighten people. If the general populace is concerned for the body and little attention goes to the yearnings of the soul then we can consider there is something essentially amiss. With all the worry and uncertainty that lurks in the atmosphere it is a good time to put that spiritual vibration out there.
 
Enrichment in life is a factor to consider as we are stuck in a human frame of life. That does give one an advantage over other life forms that we have taken in the past. Enlightenment comes hard to dogs and cats, adorable as they are, and as happy as they may be under the care of their master, however we must care for the soul.
 
Video: Click here
 
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Be Excited by Achyut Gopal Das

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 How many of you want to see Krishna and meet Him? Here is a good news - Krishna is more eager to show Himself to us than we are to see Him. We just need to be excited to want to see Him. Krishna is always somewhere around the corner waiting to reveal His darshan to us.

He could reveal Himself in any Mahamantra that we chant. He could pop out of any page of the Bhagavad-Gita or Srimad-Bhagvatam that we read. He can show Himself in any of His deity that we see. He could reveal Himself through any conversation we have with any of His devotees. He can reveal Himself in any of the Katha we hear or through any of the service we render. 

Doesn't this sound exciting. We should always be like a curious child waiting for magic to happen at any moment or like a child playing a treasure hunt game eagerly waiting to find the clue to the treasure. We need to be excited about spiritual life, about Krishna consciousness and about our prospects to meet and see Krishna face to face. It is this sense of adventure and excitement which will brings adventure and excitement to the practice of Krishna consciousness and thereby making Krishna more excited to meet us.
 
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Since 13th February I have been locked down here in Kerala, near Kochi. I was the last arrival here. At the airport I was to be quaranteened even though I arrived from South Africa via Mumbai where I was cleared and took connecting flight to Kochi. My disciples conferred to put me in Kerala because I was visiting for health reasons at least twice a year since several years, I would be better off during lock down. But at the airport I informed my disciples the situation to be quarantined. But after an hours struggle with local health inspectors I was released for self quarainted by indulgence of my disciple’s family. Since then the inspectors made sure the well being of me by their visitations personally. When I arrived I was surprised to see other three devotees also locked downed here. So in the beginning, I started some local remedies for my cough and hoematoma in one of my eyes. The cough being cured I started seminars on Sri Shikshastask via Periscope conferencing for 9 days for an odience of 36 senior devotees. but soon after that realizing greater odience I started daily classes on Bhakti Rasamrita Sindhu for 3 hours, first in English and then in Hindi immediately. After about one and half months I was feeing exhosted with swelling in my legs eventhough I had regulated practice to get up at 3am and performig yoga and then chanting I decided to curtail Hindi classes. Most of Hindi attendace joined English session for two hours including Question answer time. The classes have been regularly translated in Hindi before, continued, but they will receive the next day both verbally and in the form of trancript. This classes will continued till 1st part will be completed. We are now on 11th chapter. So this is my effort to lock my disciples into the process of pure Bhakti during the lockdown period.

Source: http://www.dandavats.com/?p=85962

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There are many valuable lessons to be learned by leaders who want to resolve conflicts between two parties amicably. It requires a great deal of spiritual maturity, patience, respect for both parties, mode of goodness to deal with issue etc.

On being pleased with both parties

SP writes : “When the Lord came, He was pleased with everyone; therefore it is stated here, krtsna-prasada-sumukham. The Lord knew that even the offensive doormen were His pure devotees, although by chance they committed an offense at the feet of other devotees……..On the part of the Lord there was no offended mood because He does not accept any offense created by His sincere devotee. But a devotee should be very cautious of committing offenses at the feet of another devotee. The Lord, being equal to all, and being especially inclined to His devotee, looked as mercifully at the offenders as at the offended. This attitude of the Lord was due to His unlimited quantity of transcendental qualities. His cheerful attitude towards the devotees was so pleasing and heart-touching that His very smile was attractive for them.” [SB 3.15.39 purport]

In conflicts one biggest problem is the distrust in one of the two parties, which feels that, “The decision was one-sided. We were not given enough hearing. They were heard first and perceptions were formed in mediator’s mind. So we are not happy with the final outcome.” Another problem is to not give up our love for someone serving under us, when they disobey us or act opposite to our wish or bring disgrace to us by their speech, actions or behavior. The material masters of this world may resort to screaming to vent out their frustration since they could not prove their greatness to the world, due to a disobedient servant. But Lord Visnu, did not give up His love on His subordinates despite their fault. If we want to follow this ideal behavior of the Lord, to smile upon both parties, we will have to connect with Lord’s unlimited quantity of transcendental qualities, by admiring Lord’s amazing and wonderful behavior. By repeatedly hearing such instances of Lord’s behavior and absorbing our consciousness in it, we’re likely to develop spiritual maturity necessary to become a shock absorber on one hand and a person who can exhibit transcendental behavior.

On offering sufficient respects to offended party, Kumaras

In verses, SB 3.16.7-12, Lord Narayana glorifies the Brahmanas and speaks out how much He respects them. He says, it is because of the dust of Brahmanas feet, which He Himself takes on His head, that has attracted Laxmi to be after Him and has made Ganga sacred etc. He also says that He is more pleased when people offer food with ghee to the holy mouth of such Brahmanas, than in Yajna kund, for His pleasure. Such glorification of Kumaras, made them immediately become humble and shy and glorify the Lord in return. Besides that it gave them the eyes to look at their own fault of cursing the doorkeepers of Lord’s abode (SB 3.16.24-25).

Once a team of four brahmacaris from Pune went on a Van party. In one place, some young boy was crossing the road at an inappropriate signal, due to which a ghastly accident was about to occur by our Van, but by Lord’s grace, the driver devotee could put a sudden brake and avoid the mishap. But then the driver went on a rage, stopped the vehicle, got down and got the left hand of the boy giving him a slap. The boy was murmuring, but didn’t retaliate. The Van party decided to park the Van under a tree and take lunch Prasad and then proceed with the journey. While they were eating, suddenly they saw over 40 youngsters of Dalith mob assembled around the Van screaming, “Who is that culprit who slapped our community boy? We have come with kerosene to burn down your vehicle and beat you all up.” Devotees inside the Van were almost completing their lunch, but were shivering in fear what to do now. They requested the driver devotee to beg forgiveness. The driver was of Ksatriya type and he said, “I have no habit of fearing such situations. I’m a fighter. I’ll fight like Arjuna.” When the mob identified Driver devotee as the one who gave slap, they zoomed on him demanding him to bow down and touch the feet of the boy whom he slapped. The Driver devotee refused and the steam started building up, erupting as bad words from the mob. In the meantime, one of the senior devotees in the Van reminded the Driver devotee, “prabhu, don’t you remember? How many times our Spiritual master has taught us to become — trinad api sunicena, taror api sahisnuna. You’ll not loose anything by bowing once”. Still the driver was not convinced. Then the devotee who gave the advice, bowed down to the boy, touched his feet and said, “Sorry.” But the mob was not satisfied. They said, “We know all of you other guys are proper, except your driver. We don’t want anyone else to bow except your driver.” Then again the devotees persuaded the Driver devotee, “prabhu, we don’t want to see Prabhupada’s Van burning in flames and we believe you don’t want to see us all beaten up either!” Immediately the Driver devotee bowed down for a moment and said, “Sorry” to the boy. Next moment, the whole mob dispersed like a fog in front of the rising sun!

You can see that in this world if we don’t give the due dignity for other living beings, we will have to pay a heavy price. On the other hand, by giving that dignity and respect, we can win heart of anybody. Srila Haridas Thakur could give that respect to a Prostitute and she turned into a pure devotee of Krishna. Prabhupada gave such dignity to Hippies without criticizing their faults and the result was that hippies turned into happies! Lord Visnu gave respect to angry Kumaras and the anger of Kumaras evaporated, bringing out the best Vaishnava qualities in them.

Winning the heart of doorkeepers, by not disowning them

When Kumaras are being praised by the Lord, it is likely that His doorkeepers may get put off, thinking, “Afterall we were doing the service of doorkeeping for Lord’s pleasure only. Now Lord seems to be upset with us and thus we are discarded. What is the use of our life? We have been disowned by our Master.” In order to save His servants from this type of grievance, Lord smiled upon them and also completely owned them by saying, “Since I have accepted them as my servants and have affectionately given them instructions, I become RESPONSIBLE for their actions too. Thus I am willing to lop of my arms for their fault.” (SB 3.16.4-6). Also, Lord told Kumaras that though my doorkeepers have offended you and you’ve cursed them to go to material world, I request you that let them return back to me as soon as possible, because after all they are my dear servants. (SB 3.16.12). This gave doorkeepers full assurance of Lord’s love for them despite their mistake. Vaikuntha gate

In relationships, people repose lots of expectations from one another. This often leads to frustrations because living beings do commit mistakes. Somebody has a habit of postponing the task, somebody is slow in doing, somebody commits blunders regularly, somebody has to be told the same thing a dozen times, somebody offers low quality service etc. what to do? To live peacefully in this world, we have to cultivate noble qualities like Forgiveness, Tolerance, Patience, Compassion, Humility etc. And Supreme Lord has these qualities in oceanic proportion.

In superior-subordinate relationship, trust builds more and more, if both parties agree to love, respect and trust one another without expectations. Since Lord Visnu trusted His servants and continued to love them despite their mistake, the servants also reciprocated in return. That is not to say that the Master should not rectify the faults of the servant. Lord Visnu admitted for the reformation program meted out by Kumaras for Jai-Vijay, namely, going to material world. He also said that His servants have acted with separate interest. Still Lord did not disown them, but forgave them and accepted them back in His service.

Sometimes in relationships, one considers the other party’s mistake to be un-forgivable for whole life. Such adamant decisions destroy the bridge between the two. We have to decide, whether we want to build walls between relationships or to build bridges to re-connect in relationships. Forgiveness is the bridge that can repair relationships.

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From Back to Godhead

Nowadays everyone knows what yoga is. Or do they?

In the West yoga is more popular than ever.

“It’s at the top of its game,” says Dan Gurlitz, general manager of Koch Vision, whose distribution of Yoga Zone DVDs and videos is a “serious seven-figure business.” According to Kimberly Leonard, writing in US News & Word Report, “During the last decade the number of Americans who report practicing yoga has nearly doubled to 21 million.” Other Western countries follow close behind.

If you ask the average yoga practitioner in the West what yoga is all about, you’ll probably hear answers like, “It makes me feel good,” “It’s stimulating,” “It’s relaxing,” “It’s quite a workout,” or “It keeps me in shape.”

Nearly every response refers to the physical aspect of yoga practice. One would think yoga merely another exercise regimen, or at best a way to keep body, mind, and soul in some sort of integrated harmony.

The fact is, this body-centered focus is something new. Traditionally, yoga is a spiritual discipline. Even the ancient authority Patanjali deemphasized the asana (postures) and pranayama (breath control) parts of the practice, so popular for today’s yogis. Patanjali’s Yoga-sutras define yoga more in a spiritual sense than as the physical exercises popular today as hatha-yoga. He highlights meditation as opposed to postural exercises. Asana and pranayama are not goals in their own right but essential techniques to still the mind for achieving spiritual illumination. The second sutra (concise statement) of Patanjali’s work defines yoga as yogash citta vritti nirodhah: “Yoga is the control of the thought patterns of the mind.” In other words, yoga is the doorway by which we can go beyond mundane mental processes; it is a method to control the mind’s discomforting fluctuations. In fact, the entire practice is meant to gain mastery of the body and mind. For what purpose? The great yogis of old wanted mastery of body and mind to pursue the spirit. That was the real motivation of yoga.

Modern-day yogi Swami Satchidananda confirms this point in his commentary on Patanjali’s Yoga-sutras:

When the word yoga is mentioned, most people immediately think of some physical practices for stretching and stress reduction. This is one aspect of the yogic science, but actually only a very small part and relatively recent in development. The physical yoga, or Hatha yoga, was primarily designed to facilitate the real practice of yoga – namely, the understanding and complete mastery over the mind . . . This is how one reaches the spirit.

Progressing to Bhakti

The word yoga means “union,” giving it implications far beyond the healthful union of body, mind, and spirit sought by many modern practitioners. It’s not that the body is frowned upon, but it is seen as an essential instrument for serving the divine. Hence the mandate to fine-tune it and use it as a precious tool for attaining transcendence.

Originally yoga aimed at union with God. And not in some tepid abstract sense – “I am one with God.” No. It meant developing a service attitude toward God. It meant becoming one with God in purpose, which means that any yoga should progress to bhakti-yoga, or the yoga of devotion. Indeed, Lord Krishna says in the Bhagavad-gita (6.47): “And of all yogis, the one with great faith who always abides in Me, thinks of Me within himself, and renders transcendental loving service to Me – he is the most intimately united with Me in yoga and is the highest of all. That is My opinion.”

In this way a clear picture emerges about the methods and goals of yoga practice: One begins by controlling the body and mind, making it a finely tuned instrument. But this is just a beginning step. After that, one uses this instrument in the Lord’s service. This is the perfection of yoga, technically called bhakti-yoga. In the end, then, to use a poorly tuned instrument (a body not tuned by hatha-yoga) in Krishna’s service is better than using a perfectly tuned instrument (a yogi’s body) for other things.

One of the great banes of modern yoga practice is that by developing a superior bodily vehicle one is likely to fall from the spiritual path, enamored of the physical rewards of regular discipline, which are many. Patanjali warns against such yoga merits and other, more metaphysical ones, because they can distract a person on the spiritual path. “One must be unattached to these supernatural powers, or one will not attain absorption in the Supreme. Indeed, these very powers can become the seeds of bondage and failure.” (Yoga-sutras 3.51)

Beware of Goodness

Yoga tends to elevate its practitioners to a state of sattva-guna (goodness), which can be advantageous – but also harmful. The advantages are obvious: enhanced consciousness, inclination to pious activity, a suitable environment for further advancement on the path. But yoga can also hinder practitioners because sattva-guna can cause attachment to one’s yogic view and way of life. Comfortable in their conceptions of spirituality, yogis may feel they already have knowledge and don’t need further progress. If they deem themselves happy, they have a hard time believing they could be happier still.

But higher realms exist. Ancient yoga texts describe the happiness derived from ordinary yoga practice as being like the water in a calf’s footprint when compared to the ocean of bliss found in the practice of bhakti-yoga. That is to say, whether or not one practices hatha-yoga, one would do well to gradually move into the realm of bhakti and, with a mood of love, render spiritual service, developing a selfless attitude under the direction of a bona fide spiritual teacher.

How to Start

What does bhakti-yoga look like, and how can one engage in its practices in a simple and direct way even while engaged in ordinary yoga? First, learn mantra meditation, the practice of chanting Krishna’s holy names, from someone who knows, someone who has received these transcendental names from a master whose lineage is respected for bestowing sacred sound. Chanting waters the plant of bhakti, which grows from the seed given by the spiritual master.

Kirtana,or call-and-response chanting, is all the rage now in yoga studios throughout the world, but one must learn to chant properly for it to have full potency and produce the true fruits of bhakti-yoga. By proper chanting one becomes privy to the prescribed means of self-realization in the current age, known as Kali-yuga. As the Srimad-Bhagavatam (12.3.52) says, “Whatever result was obtained in Satya-yuga by meditating on Vishnu, in Treta-yuga by performing sacrifices, and in Dvapara-yuga by serving the Lord’s lotus feet can be obtained in Kali-yuga simply by chanting the Hare Krishna maha-mantra.”

This chanting is the essence of bhakti-yoga, which is the essence of yoga in general. Thus chanting is the essence of the essence. This is so because by chanting one learns to give one’s heart to Krishna, the soul of all souls. One learns how to truly unite with the divine. Patanjali, too, recommends ishvara-pranidhana, or giving one’s life to God with a mood of full devotion. Although most yogis today don’t know it, this is what yoga is really all about.

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Or the downfall of Western civilization. The Manu-samhita (8.304-309) describes how a king or ruler of a country receives one sixth of the total karma of the subjects he rules. If the majority of people are pious and spiritually oriented, and the ruler protects those citizens to maintain a peaceful society in which such people can flourish, then the king will also share in the good activities and good karma of the citizens. Otherwise, if the ruler does not properly protect and maintain the citizens but allows criminals to run loose and create havoc, while still collecting taxes from the people, the overall karma will be extremely dark. Such a ruler will take upon himself the foulness of his countrymen and sink into hell.

From the Valmiki Ramayana we also understand how important it is for the ruler of people to watch or patrol over their territory to make sure that all unfairness, criminal activities, or unrighteous acts are immediately put to a stop. This is because all such actions produce contrary reactions, not only for the people and the country, but also for the ruler, which is reflected back on them through the acts of nature, disrespect from the citizens, and the dark future created for their next life. Therefore, this shows the importance of electing a ruler who will not neglect his responsibilities of leading the people properly, uphold virtue and spiritual wisdom, and protect and defend the citizens and country without hesitation.

In this regard, the Uttara-Kanda, Canto 74, verses 30-33, explains: “Whenever one performs unrighteous deeds not to be performed, and rooted in lack of prosperity, [such a person] indeed goes to hell, however the king also undoubtedly (goes to hell). Righteously ruling over the subjects, the king shares one sixth portion of the (merit) that accrues from pious deeds performed by study and penance. (However) the king also partakes of one sixth (of his subject’s bad karma) if he does not protect the subjects (by leading them properly). So you, O lion among kings, investigate your territory. Whenever you see unrighteous actions done, then make efforts (to put them right); thus righteousness and longevity will prevail among men [as well as for the king].”

From these descriptions, we can see that if the ruler is so much affected by the total karma of the citizens of the country, then the nation itself fosters its future according to the good or bad activities of the citizens. So, whatever reactions this country will endure in its future, whether it be harvests of plenty, good economy, or starvation from famine and drought, or victory over our enemies or destruction from war, depends on the way we live today.

History has noted many countries and civilizations in the past who, although seeming to be so powerful while living a frivolous, decadent, and spoiled lifestyle, finally met their doom. Such a downfall was usually quite unexpected at the time. However, by understanding the law of karma, such a collapse can be fairly predictable. We can see this in the analysis of the Roman Empire.

The last great civilization in the West was the Roman Empire, of which historians have noted five characteristics that helped cause that great society to fall apart. First, there was a love of show and luxury. Everyone was eager to acquire material things as a sign of affluence. This also helped cause the second factor, which was a widening gap between the very rich and the very poor, with a disappearance of the middle class.

The third factor was a complete obsession with sex. In the latter days of the Roman Empire, sex became the sole interest, whether in ordinary conversations, or in art, culture–everything. Pompeii was a big resort for this kind of licentious living and sex. (And we all know of the earthquake in 69 CE that damaged Pompeii, and then the volcanic eruption in 79 CE that finally buried it.)

A fourth factor in the downfall of the Roman Empire was a freakishness and abandonment in the arts which masqueraded and pretended to be originality. This can easily be found now in modern art, music, sculpture, etc.

The fifth factor was the creation of the welfare state and the increasing desire amongst the people to live off the government. Even today, there are places where anyone can get welfare and not have to work, and with more sex, the more children that are born, which entitles the welfare recipient to more money.

We should carefully regard these points and take note of where our modern American Empire stands because history repeats itself. We find an increase in these same things here in the United States. For example, almost all advertising nowadays evolves around the idea of having or getting sex appeal, no matter whether it is in buying a car, or buying anything that people are told they need, or attaining a successful career. And it does not take much to figure out why everyone wants sex appeal. Another angle is the issue of determining your sexual identity. This is occupying more time than ever in the media, and forcing the government to step in with new laws or arrangements. So, the present times merely reflect attitudes and changes that have taken place before, as in the Roman Empire.

For example, modern philosophy, whether in sociology, psychology, art, politics, the sciences, etc., usually presents the idea that there is no absolute law or standard. In other words, whatever turns you on, do it; whatever you believe in, it’s O.K. There is no absolute, and anyone who thinks there is becomes regarded as a fanatic. Similarly, in the Roman Empire, there was no emphasis on God or faith in moral standards. There were many denominations, but the attitude was anyone could believe anything he wanted. But those who were serious about their religion were severely persecuted.

In the case of the Christians, they were thrown to the lions in the amphitheaters as a spectator sport. The people would watch in the stands and applaud the utter brutality of it all. One reason for this was that the Christians refused to accept the Roman gods. They believed in only one God as a pure, infinite being who set down the law, which if not followed would cause one to go to hell. Romans accepted gods who drank wine, ate meat, had sex, and so on. Therefore, Romans looked on Christians as if they were fanatics. This is the same way modern philosophers, politicians, and liberals today look at people who seem to be overly dedicated to a law of God, such as the law of karma. Rather than understanding the law of karma, such people would rather criticize it and simply carry on with their frivolous and whimsical habits, while remaining ignorant of the consequences.

We should point out, however, that karma is not a belief system but is a science. One may believe that he can do whatever he wants and that there is no jail house, but if he acts like a criminal and gets caught and thrown into confinement, then he will be forced to adjust his thinking and face the results of his activities. Similarly, people may think they can escape the universal laws and do whatever they like, but when they are forced by the law of karma to face their destined punishments after death, it will be too late.

When we see, therefore, that people in certain areas of the country are suffering from drought, that farmers cannot grow their crops, that fires are consuming vast forests and destroying homes, that storms are causing destruction and devastation to cities and towns, or incurable diseases are affecting more and more people all the time, we should not miss the message. It is easy to ask ourselves, “Why has God done this to me?” and try to put the blame on someone else. But why should such reversals in life not happen to us? What have we done to avoid it? Usually nothing. Therefore, we must understand how the law of karma affects everyone.

When we stop to consider that as many as 134 million animals and 3 billion birds are slaughtered every year for consumption, and hundreds of thousands more are tortured and killed for useless scientific experiments, is it any wonder why there should not be a heavy reaction to the cries of pain from so many innocent living beings as they are butchered in order to satisfy humanity’s thoughtless cravings? All this violence has to go somewhere. Violent actions produce violent reactions.

Everyone wants to be happy and live in peace, but how can this be peace when so many other entities suffer from the most painful experiments in so-called scientific laboratories, or are methodically killed each day at slaughterhouses so that their corpses can be sold in supermarkets? But it is not just commercial enterprises that do this but also the government. In 1986, the Office of Technology Assessment reported that 84% of all painful animal experimentation is carried out by the military. The In Defense of Animals group also stated that of 22 military bases, 83,389 animals were used in 1987, and 142,735 in 1988, of which pain was used in 99% of the experiments on dogs, 81% on cats, and 43% on primates. Therefore, when society in general has such a cruel and callous attitude towards other living entities, or are too wasteful in regards to the planet’s natural resources, or live a lifestyle that is overly decadent, nature arranges reactions in various ways, one of which is in the form of wars. From time to time we all have to watch as we ship our young men and women off to be killed or maimed in the slaughterhouse of war. As long as there are large numbers of innocent animals being unnecessarily killed and tortured day after day throughout the year, there will never be peace for long, for war will always exist somewhere in which we will be forced to become involved. But war also means war in the family, such as discontent, arguments, separation, and divorce; war in the community, such as gang wars, crime, robberies, murders, and rape; and industrial and economic wars as well as international wars and terrorism when men, women and children are brutally killed because of terrorists that fight to establish the domination of their religion over all others. These reactions affect many millions of people every day and it is nothing more than the workings of nature as it reflects the consciousness of the people who inhabit this world.

When the majority of people in a country are influenced by commercialism and addicted to the four most karmically implicating activities–meat-eating, intoxication, illicit sex, and gambling–there will definitely be reactions to endure in the future. This is the universal law. There is no amount of economic planning, defense buildup, agricultural arrangement, or even weather forecasting that will help us to avoid unexpected karmic reactions. If the ruler of a country receives one-sixth of the aggregate good or bad karma of the citizens, then the citizens themselves will also experience the reactions that the country is destined to receive, as arranged by nature.

By understanding the law of karma and abiding by the four principles which are especially recommended for this age–namely, truthfulness, cleanliness, austerity, and mercy–the people of this country will surely become strong, develop good moral character, be concerned for the welfare of all others, acquire a sound state of mind, and will attain a great destiny like no other country in the world. We all want to make this world a better place, and there is a method which will enable us to do that. But we must understand that there is more to it than the obvious plan-making that goes on amongst our politicians, economic advisors, judiciaries, etc. There is the subtle aspect that goes on and is determined by the decisions and activities of each and every individual. Therefore, those who take the time to understand the law of karma and try to abide by it can certainly be understood to be people who are working for a better future, not only for themselves, but, indeed, for a better world.

Source: http://www.dandavats.com/?p=45352

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Giriraj Swami read and spoke from Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.5.12.

“Everyone should be friendly for the service of the Lord. Everyone should praise another’s service to the Lord and not be proud of his own service. This is the way of Vaisnava thinking, Vaikuntha thinking. There may be rivalries and apparent competition between servants in performing service, but in the Vaikuntha planets the service of another servant is appreciated, not condemned. This is Vaikuntha competition. There is no question of enmity between servants. Everyone should be allowed to render service to the Lord to the best of his ability, and everyone should appreciate the service of others. Such are the activities of Vaikuntha . Since everyone is a servant, everyone is on the same platform and is allowed to serve the Lord according to his ability.” —Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.5.12 purport.

As Servants of the Lord, We Are One (Right click to download)

Source: http://www.girirajswami.com/?p=15865

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Around Fishing by Bhaktimarga Swami

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The place was the Weston Family Quarry Garden at the Evergreen Brickworks where two young boys were fishing for gold or catfish, whatever would go for the bait.
 
“What have you got there?  Worms?”  I asked.

“No, bread.  We already caught 3 catfish but we threw them back in the pond.  That’s what you’re supposed to do.”
 
I asked the boys if they would allow me to film them.  They declined but still we consider each other friends.
 
“They (meaning the fish) are really enthusiastic (for the bread),” I observed.  “Eating, sleeping, mating and defending.  That’s what goes on in this world.”  Sanjit was laughing in the background.  The two boys were having a bit of a disagreement.  Sanjit and Niami, my companions, bade farewell to the fishermen as we carried on with our trek through the park and the trail.

Four functions that I mentioned are common among all species.  This is sastric, or from the books of wisdom.  Ahara—eating.  Nidra—sleeping.  Bhaya—defense.  Maituni—mating.  That sums it up.
 
My mind, however, would doubt this summary.  I sometimes question what happened to a possible fifth?  What about play, recreation, sport?  I don’t doubt scripture but have a mild question about it.  Having been raised on the farm I’ve seen all our barnyard buddies have their fun together.  I do have an answer which I will reserve.  I thought it might be nice to hear from readers their take on this apparent riddle.  Please get back to me on your deliberation.
 
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5361019701?profile=RESIZE_400xThe real point is that narayana-paranmukham. Without thinking of Narayana or Krsna or Visnu, no method will be able to purify you. Vita-raga-bhaya-krodha, mam upasritah… [Being freed from attachment, fear and anger, being fully absorbed in Me and taking refuge in Me, many, many persons in the past became purified by knowledge of Me – and thus they all attained transcendental love for Me. (Bhagavad-gita, 4.10.)] – the simple process to become purified. And that simple process is this chanting. Chanting Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, this name “Krsna” is reminding me. I must hear and I must chant with the tongue. Then you keep yourself always in Krsna consciousness. Our method is very simple. It doesn’t require much education or to become rich or become beautiful or to take birth in a high family. No. In any condition. Ahaituky apratihata. If you want to chant the Hare Krsna mantra, there is no impediment in the world. You can, walking on the street, chant Hare Krsna. That will keep you purified.
From a lecture by Srila Prabhupada in Denver July 1, 1975.

Source: http://www.dandavats.com/?p=72464

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Hare Krishna Vaishnavas! Dandavats Pranam! Jai Srila Prabhupad!

Many of you may not be aware that HG Govardhan Lila Mataji has been having severe health challenges.

She has survived 2 open heart surgeries because she is always very eager to continue serving their lordships here in Atlanta, Georgia (U.S.A.).

She will be going through a very risky and complex procedure for her heart on May 26 at 12:00 PM EST. This procedure will take approximately 3 hours at Emory hospital.

The procedure is called AFib Ablation. They will zap freeze some parts of the heart to stop the abnormal heartbeat. The doctors are not giving a high chance of survival.

We are requesting the devotees to please pray to your Lordships at home or wherever you are.

She has given her life to Srila Prabhupada from age 17 and has never stopped serving. She has been maintaining the deity service here at Atlanta as the head Pujari along with other responsibilities for over 20 years.

Let us start our prayers today by changing extra japa, Kirtans, offering an Arati to your home deities and whatever other creative ways your heart allows.

Your servants at ISKCON New Panihati Dhama

Source: http://www.dandavats.com/?p=85929

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From Back to Godhead

By Cintamani Dhama Devi Dasi

“ONE WHO CANNOT deliver his dependents from the path of repeated birth and death should never become a spiritual master, a father, a husband, a mother, or a worshipable demigod” (Srimad-Bhagavatam 5.5.18).

As a parent I often wonder if I am up to the task. After all, full engagement in devotional service is the only way to become free from the cycle of birth and death. Prahlada Maharaja instructs us in nine methods of devotional service: “Hearing and chanting about the transcendental holy name, form, qualities, paraphernalia, and pastimes of Lord Visnu, remembering them, serving the lotus feet of the Lord, offering prayers to the Lord, becoming His servant, considering the Lord one’s best friend, and surrendering everything unto Him (in other words, serving Him with the body, mind, and words) these nine methods are accepted as pure devotional service” (Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.5.23)

Any devotee parent will attest that practicing these methods becomes so much more difficult when one has children. Sometimes devotional engagements seem impossible. During the arati service in the temple, my attention is always with the children what are they up to now? I can’t absorb myself in the kirtanaanymore. I’m just trying to stop Madhva from creating havoc, I’m getting him endless glasses of water or snacks, or I’m feeding baby Radhika.

Bhagavatam class? Tougher to attend. Japa … after every other mantra I have to speak to the children or do something for them. And if they happen to both fall asleep at the same time, I’m so tired out that I have to struggle not to snooze. I’m surprised I don’t fall back into the whirlpool of material life myself, what to speak of saving my children.

Yet many parents do maintain their spiritual lives. Even single parents, for whom the problems are compounded, have proven it’s possible to stay in devotional service and bring up children as devotees too. Often such parents seem even more fixed in devotional service than childless devotees who don’t struggle with the same impediments.

“Well,” I moan to myself, “the parents who manage must be superhuman. They obviously don’t need to eat or sleep, and they’re immune to mental and physical exhaustion.”

But in more honest moments I have to admit they’re people not much different from me. So what’s the secret of their success?

Well, I’m hardly in a position to give definitive answers, but I’d like to share some thoughts and realizations about Krishna conscious parenting.

The first is that being a parent is as much devotional service as being a cook, book distributor, manager, or gardener, if we do this service for Krishna’s pleasure. That is to say, our motivation should not be just to equip our children for material life but to help them become Krishna’s devotees so they need never again take birth. Like any service, parenting has its austerities and its advantages. Its austerities we know too well. So now, what are its advantages?

The adage “Man proposes, God disposes” seems to hold one essential ingredient for success in spiritual life: If we really want to surrender to Krishna, He’ll help us. Why should we doubt it? After all, He is fulfilling the desires of even the materialists who don’t worship Him, so why shouldn’t He fulfill the desire of someone who wants to surrender to Him? The problem is we don’t want to surrender to Krishna, because that means giving up our illusory independence and sense gratification.

Having children has helped me in two ways to strengthen my desire to surrender. First, now I’ve directly seen how painful and hazardous is birth. Even if by good karma we’re born healthy into a caring family, we’re still forced to suffer the agonies of cholic, teething, and nappy rash. Tame stuff, you might think, but not if you’ve ever had children and seen how acutely they suffer.

For a child, something with an innocuous name like “nappy rash” can seem as painful as third-degree burns. And that’s only the beginning. As a parent you become mindful of the dangers facing your child from electricity, bleach, and cars to deranged and evil-minded people. These dangers await a spirit soul born into the best circumstances. What if you’re born to people who don’t want you or can’t take care of you? Phew! It’s surprising anyone gets through childhood alive!

As a baby I was blissfully ignorant of these dangers, but now as a parent I see what it means to be a baby. From this vantage point I know: I don’t want to ever take birth again.

The thought of taking birth again scares me. This fear helps my spiritual life, because now I can more feelingly pray to Krishna to help me surrender to His lotus feet. I know that though I’m weak Krishna is strong and if I really want to get out of the material world He will help me.

Besides fear for myself, my love for my children also keeps me praying to Krishna for help and makes me more alert to how He is helping me. When I look at my defenseless children, I naturally think, “How can I protect them from the troubles that await them in life? Maybe by good schooling or good money.” But who am I kidding? How will these protect my kids from war, depression, or cancer? I know in my heart that the only thing that can save my children in any circumstance is knowing how to take shelter of Krishna. If we can remember Krishna, then we can transcend even the pain of death, what to speak of other difficulties.

In short, I know that if I really want to help my children, I have to help them become conscious of Krishna. To do that, I too have to become Krishna conscious. After all, you can’t give what you don’t have. Children are sensitive to hypocrisy. You can’t tell them “Chant Hare Krishna, offer your food to Krishna, don’t take drugs or have illicit sex” unless you practice what you preach.

If we want our children to be devotees, we have to teach by our own example. To me this is a powerful reason to set the best example I can and to pray constantly to Krishna to help me do better. I don’t want these children to suffer in ignorance and be forced to be born again. Since I love them, I want to help them get out of the material world.

When I was childless I didn’t feel the same urgency to become Krishna conscious. I’ll do my best, I thought, but if I don’t make it in this life, there’s always the next, or the one after … But now, though my material load makes devotional life harder to practice, I feel more urgency. I really have to pray to Krishna to help me and to give me the intelligence to recognize how He is helping me. I have to try to be serious. If I do this, I know He will help me, because that’s His promise. “Those who always worship Me with exclusive devotion, meditating on My transcendental form to them I carry what they lack, and I preserve what they have” (Bhagavad-gita 9.22).

Also, feeling more dependent on Him forces me to remember Him more, which after all is the essence of devotional service: “Krishna, the origin of Lord Visnu, should always be remembered and never be forgotten. All the rules and prohibitions in the scriptures should be servants of these two principles” (Padma Purana).

So, fellow suffering parents, don’t give up. Keep trying. And if you have any doubts, realizations, or stories about how to cope, please write and share them with the rest of us. Hare Krishna.

Source: http://www.dandavats.com/?p=26174

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How Sri Sri Radha Shyamasundar and Sri Sri Krishna Balarama Manifested in Jaipur With the Help of Sitala devi dasi

By Sridevi Dasi

Sitala devi dasi, a resident of Mayapur Dham, had been ordering deities for ISKCON since 1975. Many temples around the world have used her services to obtain their deities. In the 1990’s the devotees of New Raman Reti asked her to order deities in India for our Temple. “It took a while for consensus to be reached among devotees here as to who should be the Lords of New Raman Reti,” she says. “Once the decision was made, Radha Shyamasundar manifested pretty quickly – about a year from order.” Sitala prabhu’s main service was to place the order with the murti wallah and ensure that the carving was in accordance with the desires of the Temple community. The Pandeys of Jaipur were Yamuna devi dasi’s choice for deity sculptors. She had ordered ISKCON’s first deities herself from them. Sitala prabhu has used them many times over the years believing they are still the best. In fact the Pandeys have carved most of the deities in our movement.

“Radhe Shyam came just gorgeous,” she says. Most unusually, Shyam’s hands were at an angle unlike most ISKCON Krishna deities. “Usually the hands are straight-across. That way His flute stays put.” Sitala prabhu had not specifically requested a different hand position. She was however struck by the attractiveness of these hands with their long delicate fingers. Using a stick, she tested to make sure a flute would stay. So this is one very unique feature of our Shyamasundara; his hands are at a very unusual yet striking angle, a feature that manifested without specific instruction. Radha Shyamasundara were installed in 2000.

“With Krishna Balaram, there was a lot more indecision and time,” she says. “It took a while for me to even place the order.” The devotees wanted the same size as Radhe Shyam, but there were many changes to the initial order. How to position Balaram’s arm leaning on Krishna was one decision. Eventually the ‘relaxed’ pose was chosen. Also, Krishna’s hand would be down on his hip. Dressing the Lords would also be easier with these arm positions. Balarama was actually carved for us two times. Since Sitala prabhu didn’t perceive a rush with these Lords, she discretely mentioned to the deity sculptor that Balaram was not really perfect. She suggested he start over and try again. It was a pretty gutsy request, and Sitala was unsure if he would agree. To her great surprise, the sculptor agreed to do it and at no additional cost. This is the remarkable part of our beautiful Balarama. He wanted to come a certain way, and arranged for it to happen.

Vidyananda das and Kirtida devi dasi sponsored Their completion, and They were installed with great pomp in 2010.

Sitala devi dasi is a disciple of Srila Prabhupada, joining the Detroit temple in 1970. In 1975 the service came to her to help get deities carved for our temples worldwide. From 1978-1985 she ran her own deity clothing workshop in Vrindavan, personally designing dozens of outfits and overseeing thousands of details throughout the arduous process. Our Lords’ initial five-six outfits were designed by her.
She was especially happy during her recent visit to see that there is so much devotion in our deity worship here in the Alachua Temple.

2015-08-19_14-17-09.jpg?profile=RESIZE_400xSource: http://www.dandavats.com/?p=19175

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Time and Again by Mathuresha Dasa

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From Back to Godhead

Being God, Krishna has no work to do and simply enjoys in His original abode, while His expansions and energies, such as time, take care of the material creation.

As working men and women we typically leave home in the early morning and spend eight or nine hours on the job. Life at work sustains life at home. Official dealings at work contrast with family intimacies at home. However diffuse and overlapping the boundaries between the two, our work persons differ from our home persons.

Krishna, the supreme person, has no work to do. He is always home in His own abode, an expansive, eternal, and endlessly varied estate beyond the material world known as Goloka Vrindavana. Krishna fills His home life as we fill ours, with His loving friends and favorite belongings. Our own proclivity for home life derives from His original personality, because as minute individual souls we come from Him and from His transcendental abode. Since Krishna is partial to cows and to the Tulasi tree, His pristine abode has a wealth of both. Goloka means “abode of cows,” and Vrindavana means “forest of Tulasi” (Vrinda being another name for Tulasi). The forests, rivers, streams, hills, mountains, fields, and village dwellings of Goloka Vrindavana are an eternal setting for the blissful recreations of Lord Krishna and His confidential devotees.

With no work to do, Krishna is under no obligation to create our temporary material world. He does so out of kindness to provide material estates for those of us who prefer to live independent of Him, or to have the illusion of doing so. Krishna entrusts the work of creation to His expansion Lord Maha-Vishnu, who is Krishna’s original “work person.” Unlike our own work persons, Maha-Vishnu, while an expansion of Krishna’s personality, is also an individual with distinct initiative and identity. He works on His own, leaving Krishna, the original home person, unbothered. This ability of Krishna’s to expand without leaving home, entrusting work to His individual expansions without so much as a thought to the stereotypical functions of God-as-puppeteer, is a unique and essential feature of the Supreme Being.

While Lord Krishna enjoys the informality of intimate dealings at home with devotees who are in the mood of family and friends, in the office of creator Lord Maha-Vishnu attracts worshipers who prefer a God primarily endowed with grand, omnipotent, awe-inspiring features. Maha-Vishnu’s caliber is inconceivable. To illustrate, the Bhagavad-gita and other texts say that not only are we not alone in the universe, but the universe itself is not alone. Past the enormously distant shell of our own universe are an uncountable number of others. These innumerable universes, in a form described variously as seeds and golden eggs, float from the pores of the skin of Maha-Vishnu as He lies sleeping on the Causal Ocean, a body of transcendental water that separates the spiritual and material realms. Maha-Vishnu breathes out, and the universes come into being for trillions of years. He breathes in and absorbs all the universes and their inhabitants back into His body until His next exhalation in the cycling of creation.

Work for Lord Krishna, or for Maha-Vishnu, is therefore not a matter of great effort. He does it in His sleep. And like all His other activities, His work is a voluntary, sportive pastime to please and accommodate His devotees. Maha-Vishnu’s transcendental creative slumber is said to parody our own unconsciousness under the spell of matter. Here we are forgetful of Krishna, Maha-Vishnu, the spiritual world, and of our own eternal individual natures. The technical term for Lord Maha-Vishnu’s sleeping is yoga-nidra, a term Vaishnavas also employ to denote the coating of intellectual, scientific, and quasi-spiritual knowledge that, in perpetuation of our forgetfulness, directs our waking activities.

Lying on the Causal Ocean, Lord Maha-Vishnu wakes to cast a radiant glance at material nature, which is the shadow of the spiritual nature, represented by His own consort the goddess Rama Devi. While Lord Vishnu is always in the direct company of Rama Devi, He contacts material nature only by His glance. Since Rama Devi consorts with Maha-Vishnu both as His beloved partner and as His power of knowledge, the implication is that both knowledge in the material nature and the material nature itself have a shadowy quality. The material nature is not false, however. It is real. But its fleeting, cyclic reality should, like the shadows in Plato’s cave, leave us to wonder at the substance, vitality, freedom and variety of the original, spiritual nature.

The Glance of Time

The words used for Maha-Vishnu’s glancing are tyakta kalam, indicating that His effulgent glance and time (kala) are one and the same. The radiant time glance carries us minute eternal individual souls into the womb of the shadow material nature, where we acquire temporary bodies according to our activities in the previous creation, the previous breath of Maha-Vishnu. The universes, too, having risen from the pores of Maha-Vishnu’s skin in seed form, enter (in Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati words) the “unlimited accommodating chamber” of material nature, where they enlarge to house the embodied souls.

Being ever-present, without beginning or end, time monitors and records everything. Time brings with it to the current creation the results of our activities and desires in previous creations, so that we are daily awakened and impelled by time and time-borne circumstances to deal with our past desires and activities. Like a tape-recorded voice, time represents the will of Krishna and Maha-Vishnu while appearing to be separate from Them.

According to the Brahma-samhita, even Maha-Vishnu’s glance does not directly touch material nature. There are intermediaries. The first is Rama Devi herself, who “carries the function of His glance” to her shadow nature. (Brahma-samhita 5.7) And at the point where this transported, effulgent time-glance touches the material nature, a reflected halo appears that is known as Sambhu, or Lord Siva. It is Sambhu who impregnates material nature by direct contact. Lord Siva is thus identified with time, its destructive aspect in particular, and is sometimes known as Kala. His consort, the material nature, is often portrayed as the dark destructive goddess Kali. As Maha-Vishnu’s glance and Lord Siva are both identified with time, all three are practically identical. Srila Prabhupada therefore states at various points, without contradiction, that Maha-Vishnu touches material nature only with His glance, only with His time energy, and only in the form of Lord Siva. Lord Siva is, in short, Lord Maha-Vishnu in contact with material nature.

“Lord Vishnu acts through Lord Siva in the creation of the material world,” Srila Prabhupada writes. “When Krishna says in the Bhagavad-gita that he is the seed-giving father of all living entities (aham bija-pradah pita), this refers to actions performed by Lord Vishnu through Lord Siva.… When material activities are to be performed, Lord Vishnu performs them through Lord Siva. When Lord Vishnu is untouched by the external energy He is Lord Vishnu, but when He is in touch with the external energy, He appears in His feature as Lord Siva.” (Srimad-Bhagavatam 8.7.22)

Lord Brahma’s Creations

Having set the creation in motion by impregnating material nature with the time-bound souls, Lord Maha-Vishnu and Lord Siva expand to individually reside in each universe. Lord Brahma, who is born from a golden lotus flower growing from Lord Vishnu’s navel, joins them. Lord Brahma is first-born of the time-bound souls in every universe. Like the rest of us and unlike Lord Vishnu and Lord Siva, Lord Brahma, though very powerful, is here in the universe, as a result of his past activities, or karma, in pursuit of enjoyment apart from Krishna. Elaborating on the imagery of the lotus, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati states that not only Lord Brahma but every living being has a place on the “superior plane” of this lotus and has a connection to God through its golden form, which represents pure knowledge.

Sitting in meditation atop the lotus, Lord Brahma, impelled by impressions from his previous life, as are all of us, turns his mind to creating the planetary systems, the species of life, and other features of the universal layout. In this way the rest of us individual souls are provided bodies in species that match the mentality we developed in our past lives. During one lifetime of Brahma we rotate in the cycle of birth and death, acquiring and giving up bodies according to the consciousness produced from our chosen activities. Figures given in the Bhagavad-gita show that Lord Brahma’s day, or his twenty-four hours, is equal to approximately eight and one half billion solar years. One hundred years of such days is Brahma’s lifetime, which in turn is equal to one breath, one exhalation and inhalation, of Lord Maha-Vishnu.

While empowering Lord Brahma to create and Lord Siva to destroy, Lord Vishnu Himself takes charge of maintaining each universe. All activities in the material nature fall into these three broad categories of creation, maintenance, and annihilation under the administration of these three deities. We create our dwellings, families, institutions, nations, and civilizations, maintain them and destroy them, and watch as they are destroyed. Outside of human influence as well, all material bodies, plants and animals, as well as natural bodies like mountains and planets and universes, have their creation, their duration or maintenance, and their ultimate demise under the supervision of the triumvirate headed by Lord Vishnu.

As the contact point with material nature, Lord Siva is initially an instrument of creation. Sambhu means parent or progenitor. The accounts of universal history contained in the Puranas also have him assisting Lord Vishnu in maintenance by diverting or battling villainous elements in the universal population. But Lord Siva is best known as the destroyer. He is said to perform the tandava nritya, a wild, gesticulating dance, crushing not only the universes themselves, but everything within them, great and small. Everything material disappears in due course, trampled by the unrelenting dance of time. Within each universe Lord Siva is known as Rudra, and his wife as Rudrani, names indicating that these two cry loudly, and that, with their violent, destructive natures they cause all of us to cry as well. Rudra also denotes reddish blue, said to be the color of anger. In the form of Lord Maha-Vishnu’s glance, time envelops and directs the entirety of the material manifestation, including creation, maintenance, and annihilation. Time’s overall material effect, however, is destruction, implemented by Lord Siva and his Rudra expansions.

Time in the Spiritual Nature

Creation, maintenance, and destruction in the course of time are not features of the spiritual nature. The Upanishads say that before the creation there was no Brahma and no Siva, no sun, stars, or sky. There was only Vishnu, His expansions, and the pure souls who have no desire for a life separate from Him. With only Vishnu, and no Siva or Brahma, there is only maintenance, with no creation or destruction. Time exists in the spiritual nature without its destructive side, and without the type of creative side that is merely destruction’s necessary counterpart. And yet the spiritual nature is said to be full of activity, more so than its material reflection. Lord Vishnu and His devotee servants expand spiritually there to enrich, vary, and perpetually increase the pastimes of blissful loving devotion.

While all this still takes place under the watchful eye of time, in the spiritual nature time only maintains, by the sole influence of Lord Vishnu, or in other words everything there exists eternally. Our experience of the three-fold and ultimately destructive nature of time is only the material experience. The Brahma-samhita refers to spiritual time as a “concentrated all-time presence” and as “transcendental ever-existing time.” It also describes Krishna’s abode Goloka as a place “where there is eternal existence of transcendental time, who is ever present and without past or future and hence is not subject to the quality of passing away even for the space of half a moment.”

As working men and women the process of breaking away from the tearful conditions of material nature and material time begins with using both our work life and our home life as a means to meditate upon and worship the Supreme Person. The Upanishads state that spiritually inclined persons, from Lord Brahma on down to human society, always look to the supreme abode of Vishnu with all their hearts and minds: om tad vishno paramam padam sada pasyanti yat suryayah. From this perspective there is no question of inactivity because we act ceaselessly, whether in the material or spiritual natures. In pursuance of our ideals, whatever they may be, we are constantly busy. Our entrance into the material nature came about by a desire for the illusion of independence from the Supreme, and the entire nearly immeasurable material creation appeared to satisfy that desire. Redirecting both desire and activity towards Vishnu and Krishna can bring about changes at least equally immeasurable. The practices of bhakti-yoga detailed in the Bhagavad-gita, Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu, and other books center on hearing about and describing the attributes and glories of the Supreme Person and of the spiritual nature. These methods, even approached with theoretical caution, can turn both our work persons and our home persons back into pure, transcendental, spiritual individuals by awakening us from our slumbering condition in material nature.

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By Damodar das

“This material world is certified by the Lord in the Bhagavad-gita as a dangerous place full of calamities. Less intelligent persons prepare plans to adjust to those calamities without knowing that the nature of this place is itself full of calamities. They have no information of the abode of the Lord, which is full of bliss and without trace of calamity. 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. The spirit soul is transcendental to all material calamities; therefore, the so-called calamities are called false.” —Srimad-Bhagavtam 1.8.25 purport.

Crossing the Ocean of Nescience (Right click to download)

Source: http://www.girirajswami.com/?p=15857

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Corrado and I and a new seeker, Abhijit, who works with healthcare workers, took to a walk on the shady side of the street.  Eventually we found ourselves in a tree-bound neighbourhood, but before that we noticed and increased amount of traffic noise.  Personally I was left to ask the question, “When will we ever sober up?”  More particularly I’m seeing the display of testosterone male power in the form of revving up engines.  They are noisy, loud and fast.
 
Since the global lockdown less traffic is found on the road which some younger fellows see this as an opportunity to use the roadway more so as a raceway.  One guy was caught by police going at 300 km/hr speed.  That’s outrageous!  You would think that with all the illness and deaths created by Covid-19 that it would have that moderating effect.  But “No!”  How soon we forget?  The slowdown, the serenity around and the purging of the environment that people have witnessed would all be testimony to the direction we should stay on.
 
But I guess some people don’t get it.  To join us on the walk was Mahabhagavat, who was on his second major trek (18 km from his home) and we analyzed that humans are like mosquitoes.  We are asleep but when the hotter weather kicks in we are all over the place wreaking havoc.  This is analogous to the current policy of opening up of more retail stores.  The traffic is increased and so is the madness.  The spiritual component can help.
 
I wanted to recognize the passing away of two souls that occurred this morning: Shyama from Brampton at 85 and Raghunatha from Markham at 69.  They expressed their devotion in beautiful ways.
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Video: Click here
 
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