ISKCON Derire Tree's Posts (12968)

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The King of Knowledge by Srila Prabhupada came to me at a pivotal time. I got the book without wanting it. My friend wanted to share it with me after he perused it. I had no idea – I was “book distributed!”

I was skeptical but on my friend’s recommendation, I studied the book for at least a month. The King of Knowledge held ample flawless arguments. At the time I was busy trying recklessly to fill my life with mind altering substances and such. The “mind altering substances and such” did not fill the void but grew it to an expansive darkness.

The King of Knowledge helped me into the light. It impressed me and satisfied my hunger for higher knowledge. I was able to give up substance abuse, master my anger issues, I could attach real value to myself as a servant of the Supreme. It helped me value my body as a temple and treat it as such, and gave me the confidence to speak truth fearlessly.

Speaking of speaking truth fearlessly, in subsequent years; I took up the mantel of the ISKCON family business – book distribution. You may have been stopped by a Hare Krishna offering you to book on a busy street, mall or parking lot. Have you ever wondered why? All Hare Krishnas make up the ISKCON family and at the head is Srila Prabhupada. Pure love is best expressed by action and meditation. Book distribution is that action done in love and gratitude for what Srila Prabhupada has done for each ISKCON devotee. Like Superheroes answer the call of the distressed, devotees around the world go out and distribute Srila Prabhupada’s books. I am that Hare Krishna in orange robes on the street, or shopping mall, or parking lot, offering you a book. I don’t do it because I want to harass you. No. I know it can transform your life. Through my book distribution, I have made friends and experienced heart connections.

I met Nomthandazo outside The Workshop one afternoon. She had been speaking to my friends and they put her in touch with me. She was reserved but open and inquisitive about Krishna Consciousness. Over a period of time she would find me on the street and we would strike up a conversation. She had bought the book, Chant And Be Happy from me. Soon she began chanting and I could see that she was gaining something from it. She had told me that she felt euphoric when she chanted or read something that particularly resonated with her. Later she visited the temple.

Now writing about her and reminiscing about the effect of Srila Prabhupada’s books enthuses me and fills me awe.

Scripture explains whenever one performs devotional service and carries within his heart Krishna and his pure devotees; triumph, extraordinary prowess and morality is guaranteed.

And this J.U.S.T.I.C.E League Srila Prabhupada has started is an exact embodiment of that.

Nov/Dec 2016 Hare Krishna News – Published by ISKCON Durban. Used with permission.

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This handbook and accompanying curriculum, which are to be used enjointly, have been compiled under the direct order of the Governing Body Commission of the International Society for Krsna Consciousness. Their contents are based wholely on the inspiration, guidance and wisdom of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami, the founder acarya of ISKCON. This humble attempt has been made in the service of any aspiring devotee and future disciple of the authorised ISKCON Acaryas. We pray to Srila Prabhupada, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta and Srila Rupa Gosvami that this work may be strictly in the line of the parampara and full of transcendental potency for the eternal benefit of one who makes use of it.
Your humble servant, Rohininandana das Adhikari
(May 14th 1984/498 Caitanya Era, Appearance Day of Lord Nrsimhadeva)

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Part I Introduction Page 1
Part II Daily Life
(1) Awakening Page 2
(2) Applying Tilak Page 2
(3) Japa Meditation Pages 2-3
(4) Offering obeisances to Vaisnavas Page 3
(5) Entering the Temple Pages 3-4
(6) Mangala Arati and Temple Programme Pages 4-5
(7) Prasada Page 5
(8) Service in the Temple Pages 5-6
(9) The Bhakta Class Page 6
(10) Harinam Samkirtan Pages 6-7
Part III Appendix
(1) Faith and Discrimination Page 7
(2) Casual becomes Casualty Page 7
(3) Idle Talking Page 7
(4) Mundane Friendships Pages 7-8
(5) Answering the telephone Page 8
(6) Istaghosti Page 8
(7) Vaisnava Etiquette Page 8

Part I Introduction

We would like to welcome you to the Introductory Cours for Krsna Consciousness and suggest that you study this handbook which is supplementary to the daily curriculum and which we hope you will find useful.
The purpose of this course is basically four-fold:
(1) To give you an idea what Krsna conscious life is, so that you can decide if and how you want to commit yourself further
(2) To teach you the correct attitude and approach to Krsna Consciousness
(3) To help you make strong and swift progress in spiritual life
(4) To give fundamental procedures and regulations, thus creating a firm basis for the future

Generally the course lasts three months and during that time one can attain a fairly thorough understanding of the following: cleanliness, harinam samkirtan, preaching, rules and regulations, Vedic philosophy, Vaisnava behaviour, devotional service, Krsna meditation etc. We have a very structured daily schedule, which, although regulated, embodies the actual principle of freedom from material existence. Everything is completely in accordance with the ancient scriptural (sastric) tradition of Vedic India. The more diligently one applies oneself to this process the more benefit and realisation one will attain.

We should try to mould the activities of our lives in such a way that we remember Krsna at all times. This is Krsna Consciousness. Therefore the all-inclusive principle is, “always think of Krsna and never forget Him”. Within this one principle is contained all other principles of devotional service.
Actually, devotional service or “bhakti-yoga” is the eternal way of life of every living entity, presently lying dormant in the heart. In the scriptures there is the statement: “it is the prime duty of persons who want to become fearless, to hear, chant and remember the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krsna, Who is to be remembered and never forgotten, not even for a single moment.” Therefore, if the devotee is desirous of associating with the Lord,Who is the Supreme Pure, he has to undergo the process of purification. One who strictly adheres to the Lord’s instructions as outlined in the Vedic scriptures becomes very dear to Him. Lord Krsna says ” As they surrender unto Me I reward them accordingly.” The devotee tries his best to follow these instructions. To assist him in the process of purification, it is essential that he follow the following regulative principles:
1. No illicit sex life
2. No gambling, including idle sporting and speculative pursuits
3. No intoxicants, which includes no tea, coffee, etc.
4. No meat eating, which includes no fish, eggs, etc.
5. The chanting of the Lord’s Holy Name, the Hare-Krsna-MahaMantra: Hare Krsna Hare Krsna/ Krsna Krsna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rame/ Rama Rama Hare Hare. At least 16 rounds a day.

The underlying principle of all one’s activities is the chanting of the Holy Name. This is specifically recommended by Lord Caitanya Himself – “in this age of Kali there is no other way, no other way, no other way of making spiritual advancement than chanting the Holy Names of the Lord.”
A Krsna conscious person, even if he is not educated by the university standard, can immediately give up illicit sex life, gambling, meat eating and intoxication whereas those who are not in Krsna consciousness, although very highly educated materially, are often drunkards, meat eaters, sex mongers and gamblers. These are practical proofs of how a Krsna conscious person becomes highly elevated in good qualities, whereas a person not in Krsna consciousness, cannot attain the same perfection. What follows may seem at first too much to learn and practice all at once! So don’t worry because it always becomes clear for someone in the course of time, and please feel free to ask any questions you may have. (Any word that you don’t know can be found in the Vedic dictionary in Week 11 of the curriculum).

Source: http://www.dandavats.com/?p=34207

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By Madhava Smullen
 

Fifty years ago, in 1969, three couples – Mukunda and Janaki, Gurudas and Yamuna, and Shyamasundara and Malati – were inspired by Srila Prabhupada to start the first ISKCON center in London.

At the time, London was the music capital of the world, with bands like The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Who, Cream, and Moody Blues conquering global pop culture.

The devotees knew what they had to do to make an impact, and they approached it fearlessly. Befriending The Beatles, they went on to release the George Harrison-produced “Hare Krishna Mantra” single on the The Beatles Apple record label. On its first day, the record sold 70,000 copies, and the Hare Krishna Mantra instantly became a household name. Within weeks, the devotees had appeared on Top of the Pops, singing “their song.” The Hare Krishna Movement in the UK had taken off!

Eight days before the installation of Sri Sri Radha Londonisvara at the first ISKCON temple in the UK, at Bury Place, the same pioneering devotees performed a kirtan show with their Radha Krishna Temple band in the Hammersmith Town Hall.

Now, on Sunday November 24th 2019 – eight days before the 50th anniversary of Radha Londonisvara’s installation – devotees are set to put on a “Krishna Spectacular” just down the road at the Eventim Apollo in Hammersmith to celebrate 50 years of Hare Krishna in the UK.

Recently restored to its art deco glory, the Apollo has been an iconic music venue for decades – The Beatles played sixty gigs on the very stage where devotees will appear – as well as the site of the famous “Live at the Apollo” stand-up comedy series.

It’s a venue befitting what is set to be a “once-in-a-lifetime” experience, according to organizers. An epic multimedia theatrical production about Bhaktivedanta Swami’s Journey, the Hare Krishnas’ London Story and the Glory of the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna Spectacular at the Apollo will be a unique-one time show for which performers like Natya Nectar, Jahnavi Harrison and Samadhi Dance Company are all preparing bespoke pieces.

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The event will gather over 3,000 people to celebrate and chant together, including three of the original pioneers (Malati Devi, Gurudas Prabhu and Shyamasundar Prabhu), Radhanatha Swami and over 300 Prabhupada disciples and UK pioneers from all over the country. The event is also expected to attract newcomers, and devotees are invited to bring their work colleagues and family members not affiliated with the Hare Krishna Movement. 

On Sunday November 24th, doors will open for Krishna Spectacular at the Apollo at 3pm, and the show will run from 4pm till 8pm.  

To begin with, Srila Prabhupada’s murti from the ISKCON-London temple will arrive to a standing ovation, and will be given a prime seat to view the whole show.

A voiceover by senior UK devotee Kripamoya Das will then set the scene, before the first piece, entitled “Abhay,” illustrates Srila Prabhupada’s journey bringing the Bhakti-yoga tradition from Vrindavan, India to the West.

Performed by the award-winning Samadhi Dance Company from the Netherlands, it will incorporate classical and contemporary dance, live music and audio recordings of Srila Prabhupada aboard the Jaladuta, as well as his disciples Tamal Krishna Goswami and Rukmini Devi Dasi.

“We wanted to present Prabhupada as Abhay, in his mood of fearlessness, which is core to being a pioneer,” says show producer Anantacharya Das. “And to show that Prabhupada is the original pioneer, and every generation of his followers can imbibe his fearless mood.”

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The story of how the Hare Krishnas came to London will then be told through spoken word, vintage photography and videography, and four key dramatic scenes portrayed by actors.

These scenes will include Shyamasundara’s first meeting with George Harrison at Apple Records; the recording and release of the massive-selling Hare Krishna Mantra single; Srila Prabhupada’s arrival in London – where he was greeted like a king, bypassing immigration and riding in a Rolls Royce straight to John Lennon’s Estate; and Krishna’s appearance in London with Sri Sri Radha Londonisvara being installed in the UK’s first ISKCON temple.

Soundtracking the scenes will be four live songs by kirtan artist Jahnavi Jivana Dasi (Jahnavi Harrison) and her band, including a cover of George Harrison’s “Give Me Love” from his Living in the Material World album, and Jahnavi’s own tracks Vrikshavalli Hare Krishna, Hari Om: May We All Be Blessed, and Mama Deva Deva: My Everything.

Performing the scenes, meanwhile, will be young devotees who are all professional actors, having graduated from acting school. They include sisters Anahita and Lalita Hughes as Yamuna and Janaki, Harry Hughes as Mukunda, Namamali Harrison as Gurudas, and John Hubbard as Shyamasundar. Malati Devi will be played by Alice, an acting student who is not a practicing Hare Krishna, but who just happened to visit Bhaktivedanta Manor days before she was asked to play the part. “It can’t be a coincidence,” she said.

After the dramatic re-enactments, the real Malati, Gurudas and Shyamasundara will speak, sharing their memories of the early days. Jayadev’s Mantra Choir, featuring students of the Bhaktivedanta Manor Gurukula as well as children from Geetanjali Academy of Fine Arts, will then conclude the first part of the show by singing the maha-mantra, with the audience joining in.

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“This may be the first time ever in the UK that we’ve had 3,000 people chanting altogether in one place,” says Anantacharya. “So that’s a really unique feature of this program.”

After an interval, Radhanath Swami will introduce the second part of the Krishna Spectacular with an overview of the science of self-realization, and how the Bhagavad-gita has impacted people around the world.

Natya Nectar, a Delhi-based dance company which was founded by second-generation devotee Goura Prema Riggan and has appeared on India’s Got Talent, will then premier for the first time anywhere in the world its Cirque du Soleil-style show “Reflections.”

Using multimedia, theatrical production with Indian classical and contemporary dance and music, acrobatics, and spoken word poetry with spectacular visual and lighting effects, Reflections illustrates the journey of the Jiva, or living being.

Battling the six enemies of the mind: lust, anger, greed, attachment, pride and jealousy, the Jiva finds himself in a place of complete helplessness. When he surrenders to God, Krishna appears to him in a dream. In the dream, the Jiva becomes Arjuna on the battlefield of Kurukshetra, and Krishna speaks the wisdom of the Bhagavad-gita to him, guiding him to self-realization.

The piece will feature Srikala as the Jiva, Goura Prema as Maya Devi, Vasu Dudakia as Krishna, and Bali Rico in a mystery role, along with live music by Sandipani Muni Das aka Kal Key from his EP “Lifetimes.”  

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ISKCON-London temple president Jai Nitai Das will then conclude the event by introducing the Govindam recording by Yamuna Devi that is played every morning in ISKCON temples around the world, while Srila Prabhupada in his murti form is carried onstage.

Prabhupada’s pranam mantra, along with an English spoken word version for the benefit of newcomers, will then be chanted, followed by an ecstatic grand finale kirtan led by Kripamoya Das.

Organizers also tease a final “magic moment” which won’t be revealed until the very end of the show.

A special element of the Krishna Spectacular is that every aspect of it has been put together by ISKCON youth.

“They’ve been born and raised in the movement, and then developed and perfected their individual Krishna-given gifts in the performing arts,” Anantacharya says. “Now, Krishna Spectacular is uniting them all to make a unique offering to Srila Prabhupada in service of the people of London and the UK.”

The team’s vision for the show, and for the entire 50th anniversary of ISKCON UK, is to recognize the past; establish a future legacy and vision for Bhakti Yoga in London; inspire the wider community to participate; forge new relationships; and present the culture of Bhakti in a relatable and integrated way.

The latter is inspired by an interaction between Srila Prabhupada and a British journalist, recounted in Shyamasundara’s memoir Chasing Rhinos:

Journalist: “Why have you come to our country? We have our own culture, our own God, our own beliefs. Why have you come?”

Srila Prabhupada: “Your country, England, ruled over India for many generations, and in the span of that time you took so much of our wealth to London, but you forgot to take our greatest wealth, our spiritual culture. I have come to give you freely what you forgot to take from us.”

For more details, visit www.krishnaspectacular.com

Book at www.eventim.co.uk/krishnaspectacular

Source: https://iskconnews.org/iskcon-uk-to-celebrate-50th-with-once-in-a-lifetime-krishna-spectacular,7157/

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By Madhava Smullen

 A Francophone division of the Mayapur Institute has launched and will begin teaching courses online and onsite in the French language in mid January 2020. 

The landmark effort is the first time a Bhakti Sastri degree has been offered in French on such a worldwide scale. With twenty-nine countries where French is the official language, it’s an important step.

While previous efforts were not approved by ISKCON leaders, the new project was sanctioned by the GBC and leaders of the French yatra during a recent National Council Meeting in New Mayapur, France. It is also approved by the original M.I. in Mayapur.

Courses including the Bhakti Sastri, Bhakti Vaibhava, and ISKCON Disciple Course will be offered online at https://www.mayapurinstitute.fr/.  

Bhakti Sastri runs for nine months, and covers Srila Prabhupada’s books Bhagavad-gita, Sri Isopanisad, Bhakti Rasamrita Sindhu (Nectar of Devotion), and Sri Upadesamrita (Nectar of Instruction).

Bhakti Vaibhava consists of three nine-month segments over three years, covering the first six cantos of Srimad-Bhagavatam. 

The three-day ISKCON Disciple course, meanwhile, is now mandatory for devotees in ISKCON who want to receive initiation. It gives an overview of the guru disciple relationship, including how to select a guru, the difference between diksa (initiating) and siksa (instructional) gurus, and Srila Prabhupada’s position as the pre-eminent siksa guru in ISKCON. 

The Francophone division of Mayapur Institute will also offer Bhakti Pravesh, a primer for the Bhakti Sastri Degree, which deals with the introduction to the Bhagavad-gita, as well as Prabhupada’s book “The Science of Self-Realization.” 

The online courses will be taught by French devotees Madhavendra Puri Das, who has taught with the Vrindavan Institute for Higher Education (VIHE), and Chandrasekhara Acharya Das, who has both a B.A. in religious studies focusing on Gaudiya Vaishnavism from USC Santa Barbara, and a Masters in the Study of Religion from Oxford University.

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“The courses will be taught with about two hours of online classes per week, via live video chat,” says Chandrasekhara Acharya. “The videos will also be available to download, because there are French-speaking people all over the planet, and finding a common timezone is difficult.”

Using the Mayapur Institue’s original online curriculum as a template, the courses will also include written work, essays, and key verses to memorize. Students who pass the supervised exams will receive an official Bhakti Sastri or Bhakti Vaibhava degree accredited by the ISKCON Ministry of Education.

Bhakti Sastri courses will also be taught by Srila Prabhupada disciple Gopaswami Das on site at New Mayapur, France, a beautiful, peaceful community where Srila Prabhupada installed the only Krishna Balarama Deities in Europe.

Currently, the courses are only being offered to devotees, since Srila Prabhupada directed that Bhakti Sastri students should already be practicing Vaishnavas chanting sixteen rounds a day and following the four regulative principles.

With 275 million French-speaking people in the world, however, Chandrasekhara is interested in further investigation into Srila Prabhupada’s statements to see if there could be an allowance for teaching serious newcomers.

“The scriptures themselves tell us that by hearing from a pure devotee and by reading these sastras, non-devotees acquire a taste for becoming devotees,” he explains.

For now, though, the courses will benefit ISKCON devotees. “Whatever language you take these courses in, they will nourish your spiritual life, your bhakti creeper,” Chandrasekhara says. “They will deepen your relationship with Srila Prabhupada, and with the sastra that he presented to the world. 

“And for those who don’t speak English, having these courses now available in French is a great opportunity to take them in a language they feel comfortable with.”

To sign up for courses with the Francophone Division of Mayapur Institute and get notified about the start date, please visit https://www.mayapurinstitute.fr/

Source: https://iskconnews.org/francophone-division-of-mayapur-institute-launches,7154/

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Duty Has To Be Done by Giriraj Swami

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“O son of Kunti, the nonpermanent appearance of happiness and distress, and their disappearance in due course, are like the appearance and disappearance of winter and summer seasons. They arise from sense perception, O scion of Bharata, and one must learn to tolerate them without being disturbed.” —Bhagavad-gita 2.14

In Los Angeles, on November 29, 1968, speaking on this verse, Srila Prabhupada said, “Now the question is that ‘Yes, I understand that my grandfather is spirit soul and this body is material. Still, by nature I’ll be unhappy if my grandfather is killed and my teacher is killed. I’ll be unhappy.’ So, Krishna is instructing Arjuna that this kind of distress, in this world, you cannot avoid. These are necessary distresses.

“In India and other parts of the Eastern countries, just like Arabia, during summertime, the temperature is 135. You cannot imagine 135. In India we have experienced such temperature. I have experienced up to 118 degrees. Not always—unusually. But 110 degrees is usual during summertime . . . The scorching heat, you cannot go out on the street. But still, one has to go to office, one has to go to work. There are some cases of heat stroke. Still, nobody can stop his duty.

“ ‘Similarly, even if you think that by discharging your duty as a warrior, as a kshatriya, your grandfather will be killed . . . Of course, there is no cause of lamentation; he’ll get another, new body. But even if you think, if your bodily concept is so strong, if you are sorry, you have to tolerate, just like one has to tolerate extreme heat and extreme cold.’ There is no cause of crying, ‘Oh, there is extreme heat, extreme heat.’ What you’ll do? That is nature’s law. Extreme heat—everyone is cooking. Nobody says, ‘Oh, today is extreme heat. I cannot cook.’ No. Everybody is cooking, although there is suffering. Similarly, there is extreme cold, but everyone is taking bath in the Ganges. Nobody says, ‘Oh, I’ll not take bath.’

“So duty has to be done. There may be some suffering, temporary. . . .

“You have to do your own duty—but [for the] result, depend on Krishna. This is Krishna conscious. You don’t be sorry if there is failure; you don’t be too much jubilant if there is success. Everything is done by Krishna. This is the attitude of Krishna consciousness. They have to do their own duty, never mind whether it is suffering or happiness. It doesn’t matter.”

Thus, as Lord Krishna says later in the Bhagavad-gita (2.27), “In the unavoidable discharge of your duty, you should not lament.”

I pray for such determination.

Source: http://www.girirajswami.com/?p=15120

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The Unbroken Chain by Nashvin Gangaram

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What is the point of happiness if it doesn’t last forever? What is the key to everlasting happiness? Srimad Bhagavatam, the ripened fruit of Vedic knowledge, offers us a solution: “Any person who seriously desires real happiness must seek a bona fide spiritual master and take shelter of him by initiation.” The guru gives knowledge of real happiness. Since the founding of ISKCON fifty years ago, over 75 000 disciples have been initiated within ISKCON, beginning their spiritual journey to eternal, everincreasing happiness. Srila Prabhupada initiated over five thousand disciples from 1966 until he left this world in 1977. Since then, in keeping with the Vaishnava tradition and Srila Prabhupada’s teachings, his disciples began to accept disciples of their own, continuing the disciplic succession: “One who is now the disciple is the next spiritual master.” (Srimad-Bhagavatam 2.9.43, purport)

Unfortunately, some people are under the impression that they can take initiation directly from Srila Prabhupada even after his disappearance from this world. However, this idea is unprecedented and not supported in the scriptures nor by Srila Prabhupada himself. This theory disregards Srila Prabhupada’s solid philosophical understanding and presentation of the guru-disciple relationship. Srila Prabhupada himself was a humble disciple of his spiritual master, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati. He took shelter of a living spiritual master, because he recognised that the guru must be able to accept the prospective student as his disciple. We cannot force ourselves onto a spiritual master; we have to possess some kind of eligibility. Only via personal interaction with the guru can we ensure that our attitude, words, and actions are pleasing to our spiritual master, which is the secret of success in spiritual life. In Bhagavad-gita 4.34, Krishna says: “Just try to learn the truth by approaching a spiritual master. Inquire from him submissively and render service unto him. The self-realised souls can impart knowledge unto you because they have seen the truth.” Without a living guru, enquiry is not possible, because our questions cannot be answered, and we will not receive specific instructions according to our natures.

Therefore, Srila Prabhupada wanted all his students to become spiritual masters and assist him in bringing everyone back to the spiritual world: “Every student is expected to become acharya. Acharya means one who knows the scriptural injunctions and follows them practically in life, and teaches them to his disciples… Keep trained up very rigidly and then you are bona fide guru, and you can accept disciples on the same principle. But as a matter of etiquette, it is the custom that during the lifetime of your spiritual master you bring the prospective disciples to him, and in his absence or disappearance you can accept disciples without any limitation. This is the law of disciplic succession. I want to see my disciples become bona fide spiritual master and spread Krishna consciousness very widely, that will make me and Krishna very happy.” (Letter to Tusta Krishna, 2 December 1975)

Why even take initiation from Srila Prabhupada? Why not be a direct disciple of Lord Caitanya or even Krishna Himself? Some may think that there’s nothing wrong with being a disciple of the Lord Himself as it is a type of surrender. But the scriptures elaborate the parampara system: divine knowledge passed down from master to disciple. Srila Prabhupada himself was a surrendered disciple of his guru, and his guru of his guru—an unbroken chain. If someone sincerely desires to follow Srila Prabhupada, then they will obey his instructions, which include taking shelter of his disciples. If one feels that there are no qualified spiritual masters amongst Srila Prabhupada’s disciples, then this is an insult to Srila Prabhupada’s potency to elevate his disciples. We should have a thorough understanding of the process of initiation and all of Srila Prabhupada’s teachings from authorised sources, like his books and loyal followers, and be discerning regarding speculations from unauthorized sources.

Source: http://www.dandavats.com/?p=34306

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Madhu means sweet. It means honey. Krishna is also called Madhu. In this material world there is one type of honey and in the spiritual world there is also a type of honey. The sweet honey in the spiritual realm is the real honey which we should hanker for. In this material world there is Kandarpa (Cupid) but in the eternal world, Madan (Cupid) is Krishna and everyone is attracted by Him.

The holy name and Krishna are non different. Even great personalities such as Brahma chant the holy name in ecstasy with his four mouths. Narada Muni joyfully plays his vina melodiously accompanying the chanting of Krishna’s name. Mahadev too, blissfully calls out the Lord’s names with his five mouths.

In this regard Rupa Goswami desires to have millions of tongues to taste Krishna’s nectarine names. He hankers for millions of ears to relish a tinge of the sweet holy name. Still with this I won’t be satisfied. Can we even estimate what we are missing out? Within the name is everything. Due to the diseased condition of our tongue we cannot delight in this sublime mantra. Still however we are tasting and delighting in prasad but there is a long way to go.

Krishna instructs the kings imprisoned by Jarasandha to become completely indifferent to the body and to constantly serve in Krishna Consciousness. In that way it will be very easy to meet with Krishna. In this life we will become joyful; Krishna is the embodiment of all joy and bliss. So we can ask ourselves, ‘Are we forgetting our bodily needs? Are we becoming joyful?’ Most evident amongst the bodily demands are eating and sleeping. In this way we can see how much we are progressing. Krishna wants to see how much we love Him and how much we are attached to Him. And Krishna’s name is more merciful than Krishna Himself. So we have to develop a taste for His name. Mahaprabhu therefore proclaimed; ‘namnamakari bahuda nija sarva sakti’. How unfortunate that I don’t have an iota of attachment for the holy names.

Bhaktivinoda Thakur says that we can assess how we are advancing by measuring the extent of compassion we have for other living entities, our attitude to engage in vaisnava seva and how attached we are to the holy names.

Source: http://www.dandavats.com/?p=33698

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From Back to Godhead

The Vedic literature reveals a real world beyond our experience and beyond our imagination.

Extra-terrestrial and mythical creatures have invaded our world, along with gods and superheroes, gnomes and fairies, dwarves and elves, hobbits and wizards, hippogriffs and dragons, centaurs and Cyclopes. These are the creations of imaginative geniuses – filmmakers, writers, and artists – who are pouring out more gripping and fascinating blockbusters than ever before. Some of their ideas stem from mythology, legends, and folklore that have intrigued man for thousands of years.

How ironic it is that people are drawn to a world of fantasy and make-believe yet are skeptical about metaphysical phenomena. We doubt the paranormal in the world but seek satisfaction in fables and fairytales, in magic and fantasy, hoping to fulfill the parts of our being attracted to the supernatural. For centuries we have imagined worlds existing outside our domain of sense perception and reality. The idea of a mystical world intrigues us and gives us a sense of wonder. Perhaps it is an intuitive yearning to know what lies beyond this world, a world restricted by nature’s laws.

This yearning comes from the core of our being. As spirit souls, we want to experience a life compatible with our spiritual nature, an eternal life that radiates supreme knowledge and bliss. Yet, because we are confined to the limits of our bodies and minds, we assume there is nothing outside our paradigm of existence.

The analogy of the frog in a well illustrates this misconception. Once a frog who lived in a well enquired about his frog friend’s recent travels. The friend told him he had seen the ocean. The well-bound frog tried to imagine the size of the ocean and asked, “Is it double the size of this well? Triple the size?” His friend simply laughed and told him it was much larger than that. The frog in the well could not begin to fathom the vastness of the ocean, and continued to compare it to his tiny well. Eventually he gave up, having nothing in his experience with which to compare the ocean. Similarly, we are bound by our experience. And our knowledge of the universe and other realms is based on sense perception and inference, which are incomplete and imperfect. It would be better to accept information from a more reliable source.

In the Vedic tradition there are standard pramanas, or means of acquiring knowledge of God and the universe, of which shabda is considered the best and most important. Sabda is revelation from God or the valid testimony of God’s pure devotee, who comes in a line of spiritual teachers and presents the scriptures without interpreting or changing anything. Because human sense perception and intelligence are fallible and imperfect, spiritual seekers acquire knowledge through the shabdaprocess, which is flawless when followed in the proper way. The scriptures reveal the truth and reality of God, His creation, and His spiritual kingdom through His pure devotees, who directly perceive the revelations of the scriptures. Only someone who has traveled beyond the boundaries of our well-like world will be able to disclose the nature of the world beyond our vision.

Higher-Dimensional Universe

In his book Vedic Cosmography and Astronomy, Richard L. Thompson (Sadaputa Dasa) elaborates on this concept. He describes some of the intricacies of the universe and explains that with our limited three-dimensional vision we can only understand the universe relative to these limitations. Higher-dimensional perception, which includes observation of higher planetary systems and beings, requires superior vision not available to ordinary human beings. Some rare persons have acquired higher-dimensional perception through yoga or other spiritual means. Their elevated consciousness has allowed them to enter normally invisible realms on earth and beyond.

In previous ages this was common practice. People whose lives centered on godly principles dominated the Vedic age. It was not unusual for them to travel to other realms in our universe. But gradually the earth saw a decline in spiritual consciousness. People became slaves to their senses and chose an inferior quality of life. Weakened by mundane desires and polluted habits, they lost the higher sensory perception and mystic powers available to people of previous ages.

Srimad-Bhagavatam, the paramount Vedic treatise on God and His creation, describes the eight primary mystic perfections in detail: transforming one’s body to become smaller than the smallest, or greater than the greatest, or lighter than the lightest; acquiring whatever one desires; experiencing any enjoyable object, either in this world or another; manipulating the material energy; controlling others and being unimpeded by material nature; and obtaining anything from anywhere.

Although the earth is becoming devoid of people with these powers, the residents of higher planetary systems, including beings named Siddhas, Charanas, Vidyadharas, and Gandharvas, possess these eight mystic perfections as well as secondary ones: being free from hunger and thirst and other bodily disturbances, hearing and seeing things far away, moving the body at the speed of the mind, assuming any form one desires, entering the bodies of others, dying when one desires, and many others. (Bhagavatam 11.15.4–8)

The powers of our modern-day stereotype superheroes pale in comparison to these extraordinary beings. The opulence and powers in their realms far exceed anything we have seen, heard of, or experienced in our earthly paradigm. Life there seems to last forever; time seems to stand still when life spans reach millions of years. But although there is no disease and old age, life there is still temporary. Death still prevails. The danger of seeking residence in these realms or wanting to enjoy these powers is the urge to covet prestige, status, and control – in other words, to be God. These material allurements can also leave one with little sense of dependence on the Supreme Lord and thus bind one to an endless cycle of birth and death.

Beyond the Material Sphere

So is there some place that supersedes all others and truly satisfies the soul? Yes. The spiritual world – beyond the material spheres of existence. That is where we belong. Although spiritual realms far exceed the grandeur of even the best material planets, souls who go there focus only on their pure loving relationship with Lord Krishna and His devotees. By hearing about the Lord in His spiritual abode – our eternal home – we can ignite our desire to reconnect to that transcendental plane.

The Vedas describe invisible material realms that exist on earth. Might spiritual realms also exist on earth? The scriptures reveal that they do, but like other higher-dimensional planes, they are invisible to most of us. Only to someone whose consciousness has evolved to pure devotion to Krishna are the spiritual realms on earth and beyond revealed.

Vrindavan, the birthplace of Lord Krishna, is one such realm. Although it is a geographical location visible to our mundane eyes, the unmanifested eternal Vrindavana can be observed and experienced only with eyes smeared with divine love. Some of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s followers, who possessed this supreme love, revealed many of Krishna’s pastime places in Vrindavan. In 1514 CE, during the holy month of Karttika, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu Himself, who is a merciful incarnation of Radha and Krishna combined, discovered two unique ponds that had been lost for centuries. Immersed in the loving mood of Radharani, He looked for Krishna everywhere as He wandered on the pathways near Govardhana Hill. When He came to the town of Arishtagrama, He asked its residents, “Where is Radha-kunda?” Then He saw something that made Him run towards it. Passersby could not understand why two puddles of muddy water in the middle of a paddy field could excite Him so much. They were even more surprised when He bathed in the puddles and then marked His body with their mud. He had found Radha-kunda and Syama-kunda. Only His followers with a similar vision could understand why these kundas(ponds) were so close to His heart.

Raghunatha Dasa Goswami, one of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s devout followers, later excavated and enlarged the kundas because he knew that many pilgrims would eventually come there to bathe in the holy waters. During the excavation, Yudhishthira Mahajaja, one of the five Pandava brothers of the Mahabharata, appeared to Raghunatha in a dream and told him not to cut down the trees around Syama-kunda because he and his four brothers were residing there as trees and performing worship on its banks. What were they seeing, and why were they worshiping thesekundas, which can be perceived only by those with divine vision? Why did the name Arishtagrama remind Lord Chaitanya of Radha-kunda and Syama-kunda?

The Origins of the Kundas

More than four thousand years before, Krishna killed a ferocious bull demon named Arishta, who had terrorized Vrindavan. Pleased with His own heroic deed, Krishna met Srimati Radharani and the gopisfor the moonlit rasa dance. But the gopis bluntly refused to be with Krishna because He had committed the sin of killing a bull.

When Radha told Him He would have to bathe in all the sacred waters of the universe to become purified, He replied in disbelief, “O Radhe! That will take a long time, which means being away from You. Even one moment away from You distresses Me.”

Then His face lit up with an idea.

“I know what to do. I’ll call all the sacred waters of the universe to come here instead.”

The gopis sneered.

“Kanha, don’t trick us with your words. We’re not going to be fooled by Your magic.”

Ignoring their remarks, Krishna struck the ground with His right foot, making a depression. Placing His flute to His lips, He played a melody that sparkled as if turning sound to gold, and immediately all the sacred rivers personified appeared before Him, bowing their heads in reverence.

The holy rivers introduced themselves one by one: Ganga, Yamuna, Sarasvati, Narmada, Kaveri, Godavari . . . Then as Krishna summoned each of them, they poured their water into the hole, forming a dazzling pond. Krishna jumped into the cool water, bathed, and then invited thegopis to enter His kunda.

“How can we enter your kunda?” they replied. “Its water is contaminated with Your sin!”

Krishna tried to convince the gopis that His kunda was pure, but they disagreed and decided to make their own kunda. Digging with their golden bangles, they deepened a hole made by Arishtasura’s hoof. After the gopishad finished, Krishna suggested they take some water from His kunda to fill the hole they had dug. They stubbornly refused. Radharani sent countless gopis to nearby Manasi Ganga to collect water to fill the newkunda, but eventually their efforts were in vain. Because Krishna cannot bear to see even a bead of perspiration on Radharani’s forehead, He signaled the rivers personified to appear again.

They bowed before Srimati Radhika and prayed, “We thought the perfection of our lives was to be associated with Krishna. But now we see that Krishna is worshiping and serving You. We realize that to be associated with You is the perfection of life. Please allow us to enter Yourkunda.”

The rivers’ sweet words melted Radha’s heart. She also knew that there was no question of Krishna ever being contaminated. Her behavior was simply meant to increase His pleasure.

The holy water from Syama-kunda then broke through its wall and entered Radha’s kunda.

Krishna exclaimed, “Your kunda is exceedingly more beautiful than Mine. It will be My favorite kunda. And because it is identical to You and is filled with Your love for Me, its glories will exceed the glories of My kunda.”

Transcendental Eyesight

The Vedic scriptures reveal countless fascinating stories like this one, and in Vrindavan we find historical monuments to many of Krishna’s pastimes. Vrindavan on earth is a replica of Vrindavana in the spiritual world. We may not yet qualify to perceive Radha-kunda with its banks laden with billions of conscious, blissful wish-fulfilling stones, its exquisite gardens and groves, or its desire trees and creepers made of coral and rubies. But we can appreciate and experience the special sanctity of this holy place by seeing through the eyes of those who possess transcendental eyesight.

We learn from these seers of truth that magic exists in Vrindavana but there it is meant to enhance Krishna’s pleasure. In the Bhagavad-gita(15.6), Lord Krishna describes His world: “That supreme abode of Mine is not illumined by the sun or moon, nor by fire or electricity. . . .” Self-illumined Vrindavana opens and closes like the whorl of a lotus flower, allowing far distances to become close for Krishna and the gopis to meet. The cows are kamadhenus, or wish-fulfilling, and give unlimited supplies of milk. The trees (kalpa-vriksa) and the silver dust that decorates the footpaths are also wish-fulfilling. Animals, birds, and even inanimate objects are fully conscious beings with a special connection to Krishna. Krishna and His devotees can expand themselves to be at different places simultaneously. Paurnamasi and Vrindadevi, the chief coordinators of Krishna’s affairs in Vrindavana, arrange for flowers and fruits of different seasons to appear at the same time and enhance the forest scenes with a kaleidoscope of color and beauty.

Reading or hearing about Krishna’s astounding pastimes in Vrindavana will satisfy our innate spiritual need to be connected with the supreme spiritual person, Sri Krishna. Mundane tales bind us to the material sphere, whereas spiritual tales uplift us. They are ever fresh and purify our hearts. When we are in contact with Krishna’s name, form, abode, and pastimes, we are in direct contact with Him. Our spiritual nature becomes uncovered, and we begin to see things as they are. Free from illusion, we see beyond the purview of the material mind and senses. When we’re steeped in pure devotion, neither supernatural powers nor anything else can distract us from serving and pleasing Krishna.

So if you want to ride on aerial chariots (vimanas), visit a land of magical creatures, or meet the best of superheroes, you do not need to have extrasensory perception or mystic powers. Simply by reading the Srimad-Bhagavatam, Ramayana, Mahabharata, and other timeless classics of the Vedic literature, you can enter the wondrous world of the Lord and His pure devotees. Their true stories of wonder and magic will satisfy your taste for fantasy and adventure, and their profound lessons of spiritual wisdom will satisfy the soul. Do not dive into the realm of mythical science fiction or even that of the mystic yogi where your journey will end. Become a topmost mystic, and experience the real thing.

Source: http://www.dandavats.com/?p=33649

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On Wednesday, November 6, 2019, Nandini Kishori, a disciple of HH Radhanath Swami, placed the Srimad Bhagavatam at the Florida Governor's mansion. 

Florida Governor, Mr. Ron DeSantis, is a Yale and Harvard graduate and has served in the US Navy. Despite being the youngest and one of the most popular governors in the country, he is humble and has kept his many promises, including hosting the first-ever official Diwali event in the main Government Office. The Governor personally helped carry 50 pounds Srimad Bhagavatam box! His wife Casey is very interested in the Vedic culture and loved the garland that was offered to Srila Prabhupada on his Vyas Puja ceremony in Alachua (New Rama Reti) temple! The Governor and his wife are expecting their third child soon. They loved the award-winning children's book Jaguar and have placed it in their Children's nursery/library along with Bhagavad Gita As It Is. The Diwali event was a great celebration! More than 200 guests from all over the state (from Jacksonville to Miami and from Tampa to Panama City) attended the event. 

Mr. Danny Gaekwad, a hotel owner, was instrumental in facilitating this event and placement of the sets. He came to appreciate the devotees via the MotelGita (http://motelgita.org) project as he meets them at the Hotel Owners gatherings and conventions all over the USA. MotelGita project team has placed 450,000+ Gitas across US hotel and motel rooms and has attracted a lot of attention from the American Indian Hotel Owner community. Moreover, Mr. Danny Gaekwad convinced Governor importance of placing Bhagavatam set. 

Srila Prabhupada wrote in his letter to Drdhavrata (January 24, 1977), "I want that every respectable person has a full set of Bhagavatam and Caitanya Caritamrta in his home."  

Pleasing Srila Prabhupada is a devotee’s life and soul. Prabhupada said tax your brains to distribute more books.  This year, Alachua (aka New Raman Reti dham) devotees tried many innovative ways to distribute Srimad Bhagavatam sets and increased scores by 1100%.They distributed sets to Hindu temples so that visitors and future generations would have easy access to Vedic knowledge. They distributed sets to friends and families. One of the sponsored set was placed at the Governor's home. 

Srila Prabhupada is the most distinguished author, scholar, and humanitarian. Only his books can spread real peace, harmony, and love of God in this age. Srila Prabhupada has done all the work and our smallest desire to spread his mercy via his books always gets fulfilled! 

In addition, constant guidance and encouragement is available on book distribution from HG Vaisesika Dasa Adhikari, HH Radhanath Swami, HH Gopal Krishna Goswami, and all ISKCON leaders. Distributing books is getting easier in America. People are hankering for spiritual knowledge. Yoga, meditation, and Veganism are becoming mainstream life choices. In other words, this is golden opportunity. May this book distribution increase tremendously to benefit all of humanity. As Prabhupada wrote in the Letter to Ajita, January 6, 1975, "If they receive one of our books and read even one page, they get eternally benefited." 

“So unless one elevates people to spiritual knowledge, one is practicing violence. One should try his best to distribute real knowledge to the people, so that they may become enlightened and leave this material entanglement. That is nonviolence (ahimsa). " (BG 13.8-12) (https://vedabase.io/en/library/bg/13/8-12/

Param Vijayate Sri Krishna Sankirtan!

Om Tat Sat. 

Photos by Sruti Sagar : Click here

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During Kartik, in addition to reciting the Damodarastaka, I read about the damodara-lila in Srimad-Bhagavatam, Canto 10, Chapters 9 and 10, including Nalakuvara and Manigriva’s beautiful submission to Lord Krishna, which I pray will be my own:

vani gunanukathane sravanau kathayam
hastau ca karmasu manas tava padayor nah
smrtyam siras tava nivasa-jagat-praname
drstih satam darsane ’stu bhavat-tanunam

“Henceforward, may all our words describe Your pastimes, may our ears engage in aural reception of Your glories, may our hands, legs, and other senses engage in actions pleasing to You, and may our minds always think of Your lotus feet. May our heads offer our obeisances to everything within this world, because all things are also Your different forms, and may our eyes see the forms of Vaisnavas, who are nondifferent from You.” (10.10.38)

Source: http://www.girirajswami.com/?p=15133

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A Birthday by Bhaktimarga Swami

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The boiler in our building has some challenges; it’s leaving the interior rather cool in temperature. Govinda’s Restaurant, located inside, is warm, however, it’s being heated by a separate unit. I hung out here for a good portion of the day until it was time to go for my walk in the direction of Dhira Nitai’s home. It’s his birthday. He is sixty-nine today.
 
I made my way through Rosedale, then onto the Danforth to what is known as Greektown, and just before I entered a growing Islamic community, I was picked up by two devotees of the Scarborough temple. They took me to Dhira Nitai’s basement apartment. With a mini birthday cake, we celebrated this fine bhakti yogi of a man. About twenty of us fit into his modest-sized space.
 
I had to pardon myself for an hour to take some private time on a conference call. (We monks do have diverse responsibilities.) Once the call was completed, we swung our hearts into the Damodara song, and then offer a candle to the images of Baby Krishna and His mother, Yashoda. It has become a custom amongst some of us Krishna-ites to do a bit of house-hopping, sing the same song, and then offer candles in this month of Kartik.

What a nice bunch of people, and all with such good intentions. When Dhira Nitai blew out his birthday candle, I asked him to tell us his wish, and he said what the group wanted to hear: “That we will have a larger property with a larger building to accommodate more people.”

Of course he was talking about the current local ISKCON facility, and how he wishes to see an increased sharing of higher consciousness. He is thoughtful!
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bhagavan api ta ratrih

saradotphulla-mallikah

viksy- arantum manas cakre

yoga-mayam upasritah

Sri  Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, full in all opulences, yet upon seeing those autumn nights scented with blossoming jasmine flowers, He turned His mind toward loving affairs. To fulfill His purposes He employed His internal potency.    – S.B 10.29.1

On this most sacred and holy evening on the full moon night of the month of Kartik,in the forest of Vrindavan the moon starts rising on the eastern horizon. It is a beautiful golden color and all around the atmosphere is surcharged. The sky; it seems as if it is painted by the beautiful golden illuminating aura of the moon. The birds are singing with sweet sounds; most pleasing to the ears. The wind in its charming way is blowing through the leaves and the trees are singing a beautiful song. The whole forest of Vrajdham was intoxicated with the sweetness of this most auspicious evening and thus within the heart of the Supreme Personality of Godhead Sri Shyamsundar awoke the desire to enjoy the beautiful Lila of the Rasa Dance with His most beloved Gopis.

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In Sridham Mayapur, identical to Vrindavan dham, pilgrims turn up in huge numbers. It’s a festival they’re most familiar with as they come on this holy expedition to have their most spiritual experience.

Devotees of ISKCON Mayapur most aware of the significance of this festival decorate beautiful dancing deities of Srimati Radharani and the Asta Sakhis, each with their own Madhava, set up on the platform just below Sri Sri Radha Madhava’s altar. The Vaisnavas make sweet rice and many other milk sweets for the pleasure of Sri Sri Radha Madhava on the night of Their Rasa-lila to offer to the Lord.

Rasa Purnima also marks the first of Sri Sri Radha Madhava’s weekly elephant processions in Mayapur. During this festival, Their Lordships come out of the temple and go on a procession around the Mayapur campus on the back of an elephant. Sri Sri Gaura Nitai from Srila Prabhupada’s Bhajan Kutir also come along and lead the procession. The harinama party leads ecstatic kirtans as the Lords proceed around the campus.

As Their Lordships move about, auspicious mantras are constantly being chanted by the Mayapur gurukula boys, along with the sounds of their conch shells. Other gurukula boys play the vibrant drums, electrifying the atmosphere, announcing the arrival of the Lord. The whole pathway is illuminated by lamp light and all of ISKCON campus is lit up with lights.

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On the pathway, the community devotees design stunning rangolis. Using coloured powders, chalks, mineral paints, flowers, cow dung, ganga mud, and fire. The devotees create breathtakingly stunning offerings. They also get the opportunity to prepare different cuisines to offer to their Lord.

The Supreme Lord Krishna is thus playing upon His flute for all of us. He is calling each and every one of us to enter His divine Lila simply, and this is how his devotees reciprocate. Due to the mercy of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and Srila Prabhupada, we have the knowledge to receive Krishna’s pastimes in the correct manner and relish it’s sweetness.

By gradual development of transcendental knowledge, one can rise to the stage of the transcendental arts of music and dance displayed by the Lord in His rasa-lila. But without having the Vedic knowledge one can hardly understand the transcendental nature of the Lord’s rasa dance and music. – Srila Prabhupada on Rasa Lila, SB – 2.2.4.

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Source: https://www.mayapur.com/2019/sri-krishna-rasayatra-nothing-else-but-the-pleasure-of-the-lord/

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From Back to Godhead

Are we simply puppets, helplessly manipulated by the strings of our past activities?

I look on with dismay as the tow truck drives away with the wreck that used to be our car.

“It’s all right,” my wife tries to console me. “Probably some bad karma.”

I consider her words. She has just mangled our car by driving it into the rear end of a truck, and she seems quite eager to let destiny take responsibility for her actions. I wonder if it’s really bad karma, or just bad driving.

Are we simply puppets, helplessly manipulated by the strings of our past activities, or do we have the freedom to act? If everything is predestined, what control do we have over our activities? What exactly is the interplay between destiny and endeavor?

Apparently, similar doubts had also beset Satyavrata Muni, a great king and a sage in ancient times who was able to get his doubts addressed authoritatively by Lord Matsya, an incarnation of Sri Krishna. Their conversation has been recorded in the Matsya Purana.

Satyavrata Muni inquires, “O Lord, which is superior: fate or one’s own exertion and effort? I have doubts on this; kindly resolve them.”

Satyavrata Muni is raising the perennial philosophical conundrum of predestination versus free will. In reply, Lord Matsya explains that three elements—fate, effort, and time—conjointly affect the course of one’s life. He gives the example of a farmer, whose crop depends on three factors: planting, rain, and time. Planting represents effort, and rain represents fate. If the farmer plants but there’s no rain, he’ll have no crop. And if it rains but he hasn’t planted, he’ll have no crop. Both fate and effort are required, as is time.

If we act properly and perform pious activities, we are awarded good fortune, and if we act sinfully, we have to suffer. Over time, good fate manifests as situations favorable to our endeavor and bad fate as unfavorable situations. Destiny may even give us enjoyment or suffering without much endeavor. Winning a lottery, being born in a rich family, or diseased body are examples of this.

The relationship between endeavor and destiny seems quite straightforward, at least conceptually. By our endeavor we create our destiny: We reap what we sow. But not so apparent is the reverse, the relationship between destiny and endeavor, which started me on this train of thought. If we are fated to enjoy or suffer, will our efforts somehow lead us down a predestined path? Are all our activities completely bound by the dictates of destiny, or do we have free will?

Sri Krishna explains the effect of destiny in the Bhagavad-gita (15.15). The Lord says, “I am seated in everyone’s heart, and from Me come remembrance, knowledge, and forgetfulness.” Later (18.61) Krishna reiterates: “The Supreme Lord is situated in everyone’s heart, O Arjuna, and is directing the wanderings of all living entities, who are seated as on a machine, made of the material energy.” In his purport Srila Prabhupada elaborates: “After changing bodies, the living entity forgets his past deeds, but the Supersoul, as the knower of the past, present, and future, remains the witness of all his activities. Therefore all the activities of living entities are directed by this Supersoul. The living entity gets what he deserves.”

According to our past activities, remembrance and forgetfulness are supplied to us and are revealed as our propensities, desires, and aspirations. What we ultimately get is a combination of what we desire and what we deserve. For instance, many people would like to be millionaires, but only a few will work toward the goal, and only a small fraction of them will actually achieve it. On the other hand, some people are born to inherit wealth without any endeavor. Performing pious activities is like making a deposit into the karma- account: When the deposit matures, one may withdraw it and enjoy it. So one who desires to be wealthyand has enough pious credits may be born wealthy, another with fewer credits may have to work for it, and yet another with insufficient credits may not achieve it despite hard work.

Destiny sets the stage for us to perform our activities. A cow tethered to a post is free to move only as far as the rope will go. Similarly, the scope of our present endeavors depends on our past activities. A person born in a rich family is offered greater opportunity and freedom than one in a poor family. An extreme example is the animal or plant forms of life, which a soul gets as a severe reaction to past sinful activities. Here the living entity has practically no free will and simply acts out the acquired modes of material nature. That is why the human form of life is considered so special. Only in this form does the soul have some degree of freedom to shape its destiny. But with free will also comes accountability, which is why only in the human form does one accrue good or bad karma. The law of karma does not apply to animal or plant life, where the soul’s promotion to higher life forms is automatic.

Even though being in an accident, suffering from a disease, being poor, being rich, and so on, are all predestined, that does not mean we can now start driving negligently, ignore our health, and stop taking care of ourselves. Let’s assume we do start driving negligently. The law of karma dictates that this irresponsible action will yield an undesirable reaction. It may be an accident, or it may be something else. But it will come.

The law of karma is so complex that conclusively determining the precise outcomes of our activities is impossible. Ultimately, our endeavor shapes our destiny, and that is why the scriptures give us so many guidelines about what to do and what not to do.

The scriptures also warn us that understanding the law of karma should not make us callous to the suffering of others. The soul is intrinsically compassionate, and even though people are suffering as a result of their past actions, the scriptures enjoin us to per-form the pious activities of giving in charity and helping the distressed.

Changing Our Karma

An important point to understand is that the reactions to our prior activities can be altered. There are two processes for this. The first is prayashcitta, or atonement, and the second is devotional service.

The Vedic way of life prescribes atonement for sinful activities. With atonement, a person voluntarily accepts some penance to offset the reactions to previous sinful activities. It is like a criminal voluntarily surrendering in exchange for a lighter sentence. But atonement is like trying to relieve the symptoms rather than cure the disease. One reaction to sinful activities is a desire to commit more activities that are sinful. While atonement may soften the suffering from past sins, it does not lessen the stockpile of desires that motivate one to commit such activities. That is why Sukadeva Goswami says (Srimad-Bhagavatam 6.1.11), “Persons who subject themselves to the rules and regulations of atonement are not at all intelligent.”

Furthermore, pious activities condition one to the resultant enjoyment and thus provide the motivation to perform more activities that are pious. Since a soul is forced to accept a material body to live out these reactions, the self- perpetuating reactions of any endeavor bind one to the cycle of birth and death.

In Bhagavad-gita Sri Krishna offers a way out. While Krishna concedes that “One cannot even maintain one’s physical body without work,” He goes on to explain that by abandoning attachment to the results of one’s activities, one becomes free of karmic reactions. Such a person is satisfied by gain that comes of its own accord, is undisturbed by success and failure, and is never entangled although performing actions. For such a person the cycle of karma ceases. In verse 18.66 Sri Krishna emphatically states, “Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reactions. Do not fear.” It is important to note that Sri Krishna is recommending that one abandon all varieties of religion, including pious activities, since such activities will also bind one to the material world.

While activities performed in the mood of detachment do not have any reactions, devotional service, performed only for the pleasure of the Lord, goes one step further. It not only stops the cycle of karma; it relieves one from one’s due distress and eradicates the unmanifest desires in various stages of maturity. In Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu (1.1.17), Rupa Goswami describes devotional service, or bhakti, as kleshaghni shubhada, which means that if one takes to devotional service, all kinds of unnecessary labor and material distress cease entirely and one achieves all good fortune.

In Srimad-Bhagavatam (11.14.19) Krishna explains: “Just as a blazing fire turns firewood into ashes, devotion unto Me completely burns to ashes sins committed by My devotees.” The conclusion is that one should not strive too hard for mundane things that may come of their own accord and bind one to material existence, but rather use one’s valuable time in the service of the Lord.

Sharing The BlameThe Intricacies of Endeavor, Fate, and Time

A couple of weeks later, our car is back from the repair shop, more or less restored to its old glory, and I think I now have a better insight into the event that started me thinking about these points. My wife’s accident was predestined, a result of some past sinful activity she committed. Or maybe the accident was an immediate reaction to negligent driving.

I explain this to her one day during another drive.

“So ultimately it’s my fault?” she asks.

“I guess so,” I reply.

“Well, you had to take the car for repair, pay for the damages, and so on, right?”

“Yes,” I say.

“So you suffered too—which means it was also a reaction to your sinful activities. So in that sense, it’s your fault too,” she concludes triumphantly.

“I guess you’re right,” I reply, “but please watch out for that truck!”

Endeavor is activity performed in various circumstances. Even with the guidance of scripture, determining conclusively what is pious and what is not is difficult, because of considerations such as time, place, circumstance, and the consciousness of the doer. For instance, the Srimad- Bhagavatam relates the story of a king named Nriga who would give countless cows to brahmanas in charity. Once, without the king’s knowledge, one of the cows he had already given in charity wandered back and was given to another brahmana. Since King Nriga was now guilty of misappropriating the property of a brahmana, albeit unknowingly, he had to suffer for a long time in the body of a lizard. So seemingly pious activities done with the best of intentions may by circumstance become impious.

Fate, or destiny, is the enjoyment or suffering in store for us as the result of our past actions. The Bhagavad- gita states that by performing pious activities one may get promoted to heavenly planets and live a long life of opulence there. But as it is difficult to always determine whether an activity is pious or not, it is more difficult to determine the precise results of an activity. While general indications are given in the Srimad-Bhagavatam and in the sections of Vedas that deal with fruitive activities (called karma-kana), predicting the exact outcome of activities is almost impossible.

Destiny and endeavor are linked by a third factor: time. Some actions may yield instant reactions, while the results of others may come after several lifetimes. For instance, if I were to punch someone, the reaction would be swift and immediate. But if I were to criticize someone secretly, the reaction would be delayed. In Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu Srila Rupa Goswami classifies reactions as already manifest (prarabdha) and waiting to manifest (aprarabdha). Some people may perform many pious activities and continue to suffer, while others may be performing sinful activities with apparent impunity. Looking at them we can understand that one reason for this is the factor of time, which separates them from the results of their activities.

One can compare the law of karma to a giant computer that constantly creates situations for us by analyzing our past activities and time. How we act in those situations becomes a part of the ongoing computation for the future, and in this way the cycle of karma goes on eternally.

Source:http://www.dandavats.com/?p=33209

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By Nima Suchak 

ISKCON Leicester is hosting Leicester’s first Inter Faith Film Festival to coincide with Inter Faith Week 2019  between 11-15 November 2019. The screenings will be at the Presentation Suite, of the City Hall from 6pm till 9pm each day.

The film festival which is a unique way for people to learn about and discuss faith, will also screen Yadubara and Visakha prabhu’s documentary 'Hare Krsna! The Mantra, the Movement and the Swami Who Started It All’. 

Each night, a film linked to one of the City's main faiths will be shown in the Presentation Suite at City Hall.

After each film, a representative of the faith will lead a panel discussion on any questions and comments that might have been raised from the film. Light refreshments will also be served each evening.

“Participating in National Inter Faith Week is a great opportunity for us all to accept and understand the faith or spiritual path of others. The Inter Faith Film Festival is a creative and immersive way to explore faith and diversity in an out-of-the-box office angle.” — Yugala Kishore Gour Das, ISKCON Leicester.

The Interfaith Film Festival showings are: 

·      Monday 11th November: 'The Trial of Joan of Arc' – feature film, Dir. Robert Bresson 1962.

·      Tuesday 12th November: 'Heal the Living' – feature film, Dir. Katell Quillevere 2017.

·      Wednesday 13th November: 'Lourdes' – feature film, Dir. Jessica Hausner 2009.

·      Thursday 14th November: 'Dawn of the Light' – documentary, Baha'i World Centre 2019.

.      Friday 15th November: 'Hare Krsna! The Mantra, the Movement and the Swami Who Started It All' – documentary, Dir John & Jean Griesser, Lauren Ross 2017.

 The tickets are free, but must be booked in advance on Eventbrite. 

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/inter-faith-film-festival-tickets-77658593945?utm-medium=discovery&utm-campaign=social&utm-content=attendeeshare&aff=escb&utm-source=cp&utm-term=listing

Source: https://iskconnews.org/iskcon-leicester-to-host-first-interfaith-film-festival-for-the-city,7152/

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Narada Muni the great acharya has previously explained to Maharaja Yudhisthira, the story of Prahlada Maharaja who is the perfect example of devotional service. Prahlada Maharaja remained faithful to the words of his spiritual master even in the face of the most impossible difficulties.

Depending on a power beyond his own, the mercy of Krsna, he crossed all obstacles. The Lord himself incarnated with a form that will attract all people’s hearts for all time just to show his love. At the conclusion of this pastime – it is said, “wherever devotees are gathered to discuss the subject matter of life, the matter of Prahalad Maharaja is discussed”. How can people apply these teachings practically in their lives? Narada Muni explains the varnasrama system – the four varnas and four ashramas and duties to be performed by devotees, “mahajano yena gatah sa pantha” so that we can follow in the footsteps of the Mahajanas.

So at the beginning we get a view of a pure devotee, what he speaks, how he walks etc. and then a practical explanation of how we can do it, irrespective of ashram, varna or sex etc. Daivi varnashrama means to follow in the footsteps of great souls. In this particular verse the essence of varnashrama is described: we live for the purpose to only please Krishna. Our success is to be categorized according to how we please Krsna and His devotees. If Krsna is pleased then our life is perfect. If Krsna is not pleased, irrespective of how popular we are, our lives are spoiled.

Catur varna – Krsna has personally created this varnashrama dharma, He has given everyone a chance based on quality, activities or nature, to become perfect and to follow in the footsteps of Prahlad Maharaja and become great souls. In this verse the grhastha ashram is described.

In the 5th canto Rsabhadeva says human life is meant for tapasya. Sense gratification is the purpose of animal life or the dharma of animals. To enjoy the temporary impulses of the senses is animal life, actually human life is meant for tapasya to be willing to have the determination to say no to the mind and senses for the purpose of doing the will of god.. The mind and senses are to be interacted but should say no to certain things. Srila Rupa Goswami said – accept what is favourable for devotional service and reject what is not, that is tapasya. Each ashram has a particular way of explaining this tapasya or duties. For a brahmachari or sannyasi it is to give up attachment for property, money etc., to tolerate sex life. Similary for grhasthas, a husband or wife must tolerate in the same way as a sannyasi has to tolerate sex desire. They have to tolerate each other, you cannot break that vow. We follow the vow according to principle of Krsna Consciousness and we only stop when we take a more difficult vow. How practically is this to be done?

The wife follows the vows of the husband but not the whims or restless nature or abusive nature of the husband. Instead it means the vow of Krsna Consciousness. We take vows to serve the spiritual master and the vaishnavas, these are the vows of the devotees and whatever way the husband is performing his vows, to follow that, is the duty of the wife. The duty of the husband is to be Krsna Conscious, to be a dedicated follower of the spiritual master. Not to go to the cinema house, rather it means the vow of Krsna Consciousness. Husbands in Krsna Consciousness are supposed to be first class men. There are many examples in the scriptures which illustrate that love is not about romance but about austerity. In the purest sense it is dancing with Krsna, but in material life it is about dedication, austerity and being willing to adjust in grhastha life with your partner, even if it is difficult.

Here is an example of a couple that went completely against their nature. Svayambhuva Manu’s daughter was Devahuti she was the princess of the world. Svayambhuva Manu describes the opulence of his palace. He didn’t wake up to an alarm clock he woke up to pure hearted vaishnavas chanting in person for him. Devahuti was his daughter, physically she never endured anything difficult. Then Svayambhuva Manu married her to Kardama Muni who is living in the jungle and wearing tree barks, eating fruits and roots of trees. How many of you would like to marry Kardama Muni and give all that you have and be ready to live in the jungle?
What to speak of the princess of the planet doing so. Kardama Muni’s vow to Krsna’s service was very severe. There were no bazaars shops, Devahuti was wearing bark, living in the forest, no phones to chat with friends, nobody else to talk to and the husband would go into meditation for months at a time. When he came out of meditation her shapely form was going away, she was emaciated, pale almost blackish, just from living in that condition. Her hair was matted but she never complained because this was her husband’s service to Krsna. She endured all those difficulties for him and that was her unbelievable example of chastity for a higher purpose. Kardama Muni’s nature was that he hated sense gratification so his wife was willing to adjust her life for him, that is real love, service and it equals Krsna Consciuosness.

But how was Kardama Muni fulfilling the desires of his wife? He knew she wanted to have a child but he was an ascetic so he had to change his life around in order to properly protect and satisfy Devahuti. In the grhastha ashram to have children is a service, Krsna mentions in Gita – for men and women to perform sacrifice for the service of Krsna is devotional service. So Kardama Muni created a magnificent aerial mansion. He didn’t want it but he did it for his wife. He made major adjustments though it was difficult for him. He performed major austerities in order to accommodate the needs of his wife. Kardama Muni changed his own life around for his wife and Devahuti changed her life around for her husband. What was the result? Nine amazing daughters and they were far from ordinary daughters. They then had a son, not an ordinary son but the supreme personality of Godhead, Kapiladeva.

If husband and wife keep their vows the result is Krsna. Krsna is born of that relation. Prabhupada says Chanakya Pandit gives “valuable” instruction something that is “valuable” should be protected and what is that instruction? “When there are no fights between husband and wife the goddess of fortune automatically enters their house. Prabhupada gave many wedding lectures he said there is no question of divorce, you have to adjust, you can’t give up you have to keep Krsna in the centre.

You have to forgive each other and tolerate each other. Husband and wife are not meant for sense gratification that is for the hogs, husband and wife in Krsna Consciousness is meant for tapasya. Prabhupada said marriage is to facilitate happiness – sarva bhavante sukhino – so how do we understand marriage is for happiness and also for austerity?

Source:http://www.dandavats.com/?p=26

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By Madhusudana Visnu Das
 

A New Book by Bhakti Dhira Damodara Swami 'Spiritual Connection: Understanding the Dynamics of Guru-disciple Relationship' discusses the following important topics: 

Who is a Guru?

Why do I need a Living Guru?

Why am I not satisfied in my relationship with my Guru?

How to internalize the sacred Guru-disciple relationship?

How to be a Progressive Disciple? 

“Spiritual Connection” answers the above and many more questions with much depth and clarity. Presented in a very simple and lucid manner, this book is a collection of various case-studies taken from Vedic literatures such as Srimad-bhagavatam, Caitanya-caritamrita, Mahabharata and Ramayana. Herein, the subject of Guru-disciple relationship is explored, explained and churned into valuable lessons to help all the levels of spiritual seekers— from novice and seasoned—to have their spiritual connection established, enhanced or rejuvenated. 

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Some of the reviews for the book are: 

“I recommend that every serious practitioner of bhakti must acquire and absorb the teachings of this book.” — Gopal Krishna Goswami

“Bhakti Dhira Damodara Swami has covered a very important topic from many angles. Many will find inspiration and vision on how to deal with the Guru-disciple relationship.” — Kadamba Kanana Swami 

“It is a book one would love to read and re-read again and again, because the essence of the practice of bhakti is beautifully described in the pages of this book.” — Srivas Das 

“This book is rich with insights for anyone trying to walk the path of devotion. I recommend diving in it without delay.” — Bhakti Narasimha Swami 

“It is a brilliant book. It has helped me understand my weaknesses and gave me considerable hope in reviving my relationship with my Gurus.” — Sanatana Caitanya Das

“The author, a disciple of the legendary Bhakti Tirtha Swami Maharaja, has done a true miracle with this book and its topic of Guru-disciple relationship.” — Pulastya Muni Das 

The book's author Bhakti Dhira Damodara Swami is an initiating guru and travelling sannyasi. He has been serving in ISKCON since 1982. He is a member of ISKCON SABHA, a teacher of various Shastric courses at VIHE (Vrindavan Institute for Higher Education) and MI (Mayapur Institute) and also he travels widely across the globe preaching the pure teachings of Krsna Consciousness in countries in Africa, in Brazil, India and Mauritius.

To get a copy of the book (in India as well as Internationally), please write to: sanga@bddswami.org,

or contact through WhatsApp at +91 99873 18251.

Source: https://iskconnews.org/spiritual-connection-understanding-the-dynamics-of-guru-disciple-relationship,7151/

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Great Trail by Bhaktimarga Swami

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Marshall and I took to a second chunk of the Great Trail, beginning at Bowring Park and going west. Nice place, really, with water cascading. This morning, I took to some analysis of the trail along Waterford River and wanted to express my feelings.

Dear Great Trail,

You are not so ‘great’ as you may think you are. In fact, because you are rendering many services to others, you appear to be meek, and humble. You are bearing the weight of my roamers pounding on you daily. The feet of humans, dogs, and the many wheels of rubber must be crushing you at times. It must also be unpleasant when the heat is soaring, the rain is pouring, and when snow and ice are covering you.

I see that you have partnered up with diverse trees and grasses along your two sides, and that various stones rest upon your very self. Judging by my own ambling upon you, I find that you are level-headed, with the exception of a few depressions, here and there, upon your surface. Puddles on your path are rare. It looks like you have someone caring for you, in terms of maintenance.

There is a beautiful aspect to you, but I believe you are under-appreciated. Perhaps more people could take advantage of your services. There is much more of a hectic element on the road running parallel to your edge. Traffic is crazy along there, especially at rush hour.

You have a certain gravity, yet another of your good qualities. Now that I’ve left you, in hindsight I believe you are a ‘Great Trail, after all.

Sincerely,
The Walking Monk
 
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Q. 1. Lord Krishna told Arjuna: “Those who claim to be directly My devotees are actually not my devotees. But those who are devotees of my servants are factually My devotees.” In Srimad Bhagavatam purports of first canto, Srila Prabhupada mentions that Lord Shiva is a pure devotee of Lord Krishna. According to the above sloka, does it not directly imply that all of us must serve Lord Shiva? How far is this justifiable?

Yes, Lord Shiva is certainly worshipable, as a great devotee, but not independently. Lord Shiva is one of the four primary spiritual masters (the others being Brahma, Lakshmiji and the Kumaras) and teaches pure devotional service to the Supreme Lord. Therefore, factual service to Lord Shiva is to follow his instructions to worship and chant the Holy names of Lord Vishnu.

Q. 2. Whenever a vaishnava comes, we are eager to take association. Lord Shiva is a senior most vaishnava: “vaishnavanam yatha shambu” and yet we don’t go to his temple. Besides, on the appearance or disappearance days of Vaishnava acaryas we observe a fast till noon but we don’t do so on Shiva-ratri festival day, which marks Lord Shiva’s drinking of the poison. Why is this so?

HH Romapada Swami: This question was asked once before, and here is the answer I gave. = Vaishnavas are not prohibited or discouraged from visiting Lord Shiva’s temples. In fact, Lord Caitanya visited many Shiva temples during His tour of South India, where He chanted Hare Krishna mahamantra and danced in great ecstasy before the Deity of Lord Shiva. But unfortunately, there are hardly any bona fide temples of Lord Shiva today where worship is performed with the right understanding that he is the topmost devotee of Lord Krishna. Therefore, devotees generally do not make it a point to visit such temples, although they don’t specifically avoid them either.

The best way to worship Lord Shiva, in any case, is to chant Hare Krishna and to dedicate our lives to worship Krishna. This would be most pleasing to Lord Shiva, and automatically we receive his blessings. Even in our ISKCON temples, therefore, devotees celebrate Shivaratri by chanting in sankirtan and discussing the glories and the great devotion of Lord Shiva as described in Srimad Bhagavatam and offering a feast in his honor.

Source: http://www.dandavats.com/?p=72288

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We all know about avoiding prohibited foods, but may not know why, or what effects they produce. Becoming aware of such bad effects will cause us to think extra before eating more “delicious” sin.

We understand that there are difficulties faced by certain householders, especially if both husband and wife work, or are being surrounded by indifferent family members. Whatever the situation, it is worth trying to place oneself in an advantageous eating situation with what “little time” we have.

“Let’s not get fanatical now!” One may protest. “Not all of us are living in the temple, and have the luxury of daily maha-prasadam or temple prasada. Eating out is a necessity sometimes, even if I do not like to do so. At least I choose the places I buy from carefully.”

We usually hear arguments like, “I am eating or buying from a “mode of goodness” outlet.” Such places are deemed “spiritual,” “trustworthy,” or “favourable.” With further analysis on this, we could be in for a rude awakening. These “beneficial” outlets can be more dangerous than we ever thought.

 

STOLEN GOODS

Quite often certain spiritual practitioners think that “paying” the price for certain foodstuffs will “purify” the food items brought, even if the food was cooked by non-devotees. Is this true? Others will reason that, “My dear Lord Krishna will understand.”

In the 3rd chapter of Bhagavad-Gita As It Is we should have learned that when people in general eat foods not first offered to the demigods or Krishna, it is an act of theft. One eats only sin. The paying to purify argument has little validity here, because first of all, one will be buying food items not intended for Krishna’s pleasure. One will purchase only stolen goods.

Can we offer the same stolen goods back to Krishna again? Was there any love and devotion used during the food preparations? Srila Prabhupada writes in his purport to (BG 9.26); “Without the basic principle of Bhakti, nothing can induce the Lord to agree to accept anything from anyone.”

Considering that one may be very hungry, and hoping for the Lord’s understanding, will Krishna still accept one’s offering of Bhakti in offering stolen goods? Then we have to see how essential this offering was. Was there ever a little time to prepare and make something beforehand the proper way, before having to buy sinful food? All these ifs and buts weigh up in our overall mood of offering sinful foods.

Since sin means to oppose the will and desires of the Lord, we can only imagine to what extent the sellers of sinful foodstuffs are infested with all of its corollaries. However delicious or wholesome their foods are, they are still infected with, “Wow” jiva-aparadhas, “Far out” nama-aparadhas, “Delightful” lust, “You gotta try this” anger, and “Sublime” greed.

The effects on the consciousness can be immediate or delayed. But habitual eating of bhoga can complicate matters for any devotee, even to the point of deciding whether Krishna consciousness is the goal in life. “…their every mouthful is simply deepening their involvement in the complexities of material nature.” (BG 9.26 purport)

 

TRUSTWORTHY AND SATTVIC SOURCES

We may have our friendly contacts, and concerned, loving family members that have our best interests at heart. Relying on them for our meals we think nothing of any ill-intent towards us. If invited for a “vegetarian dinner,” we’ll go and visit. After all, we hate to offend our hosts by declining their welcome. We’ll also buy the usual “pure vegetarian” take-aways from sattvic outlets.

The effects of eating food cooked or prepared by well-meaning people could be more subtle and dangerous than eating grossly sinful foods. Many of these “mode of goodness” people harbour insidious, impersonalist or mayavadi concepts. During their own preparations they will probably offer the food to some human being they consider as the source of all avataras – svayam-bhagavan, or they will impose their nihilistic or “God has no senses” thoughts, all for our benefit, of course.

These people are sometimes affiliated with a parampara that goes back perhaps one or two hundred years, founded by someone who has since assumed God status. Though very popular, their offerings certainly pollute the consciousness of aspiring Bhaktas. Their “all paths lead to one” sentiments are ingrained with Nama-aparadhas. Belonging to a New-age group can express fanciful blends of home-made faiths.

For instance, we sometimes see calendars with a God human founder in the centre, surrounded by various incarnations of Krishna. By seeing such calendars one looks at the 2nd offence to the holy name. Let alone Demigods not being equated with or being greater than God, but mere humans are depicted with a greatest role – that of God Himself. Will their foods not affect us? “…therefore, on principle one should not accept charity from the mayavadis and atheists.” (NOI text 4 purport)

By accepting or buying foods from such people based on intimate trust, is discouraged: “…for by such intimate intermingling we may become affected by their atheistic mentality…” (NOI text 4 purport) And since such people are generally indifferent, and see Bhakti as just another pious deed, they are also guilty of another offence to the holy name.

 

THE INSIDIOUS EFFECTS

The word insidious is used because we cannot always tell what “hit” or affects us when we are trying to chant japa, or to concentrate while reading and hearing. Sometimes our power of recollecting essential scriptural information when preaching or memorising, is compromised. But we can categorise the effects as gross and subtle.

Those who are not accustomed to eating “karmi” food will notice some immediate effects. One will notice the bland and emptiness of the contents; nothing compares with Sri Krishna prasadam made with love and devotion. On eating such food, a feeling of nausea can arise, and a general “yucky!” feeling.

Common reports of bad dreams, and other certain symptoms practitioners are embarrassed to reveal, are the lusty desires that come unsought. These symptoms should remain distinct from cases where, living in a temple and subsisting on prasadam alone, one entertains lusty desires by wilful desire.

“Sri Chaitanya has also warned…”By eating food prepared by worldly people, one’s mind becomes wicked.” (NOI text 4 purport) When the mind is infested with dirtiness, this will likely slow our devotional tempo: “At the present moment people are manda, very slow. They do not take this Krishna consciousness movement very seriously…” (Teachings Of Lord Kapila, Ch. 10) Srila Prabhupada writes this in context of the word “bhoga,” which means, sense gratification.

Referring to the Bhagavad-Gita verse 2.44, we read this: “Those who are overly attached to opulence and sense gratification cannot understand spiritual life; they are very slow to take to it.” (TLK Ch. 10) Perhaps if we are taking Krishna consciousness casually, despite the onset of old-age, our intake of bhoga is the cause. This has the ability to downgrade the importance, or urgency of spreading Krishna consciousness. In fact, bhoga can bewilder us.

This casual attitude can be compared to being concealed with the smoke of partial Krishna consciousness. (BG 3.38) But, “Bhakti is never casual.” Srila Prabhupada states: “It is direct activity in service to the Absolute Truth.” (BG 9.26 purport) Here is further evidence: “One who eats sin…cannot execute perfect yoga.” (BG 6.16 purport) We all know that yoga is Bhakti-yoga.

Whereas a devotee will feel certain immediate effects of consuming bhoga, a casual attitude will less likely feel or experience many symptoms, because persistent eating of wicked food does not help to distinguish very clearly. Eating prohibited food clouds our thinking and dulls the brain. It is not just hot milk that helps build finer brain tissue for understanding transcendental subject matter.

The main substance that enables clear thinking must be spiritual – prasadam. Because it is free from duality there is less interference with our desired concentration and determination. “But preparing nice, simple vegetable dishes, offering them to the picture or deity of Lord Krishna, and bowing down and praying for Him to accept such a humble offering enables one to advance steadily in life, to purify the body, and to create fine brain tissue which will lead to clear thinking.” (BG 9.26 purport)

With clear thinking we should be able to understand more by becoming clearer recipients of mercy, without the dirt of wickedness blocking the way. Moderation is still required to appreciate the value of prasada. Indeed our bodies and minds need not just foodstuff, but living food. Only prasada can be said to be alive. “The purpose of food is to…purify the mind,” (BG 17.10 purport) and to, “Purify one’s existence.” (BG 17.8) After all, Krishna is, “In living beings I am the living force.” (BG 10.22)

Feeling infected one may seek some solutions, like attending a japa workshop. If the fire of the experience dampens the taste for “karmi” food then it is worthwhile. If one returns to eating the old favourites then it is like dousing the fizzling flames with the ice-cream of dark-night withdrawal. It might sound harsh, but our implication in this theft, or loving aparadhas, will always check our real devotional happiness and progress.

If for some reason or other we always wonder why we cannot seem to attain a state of blissfulness, or genuine relish in Bhakti, it could simply be the food we are eating. “…Bhakti or devotional service is the only means to approach Krishna. No other condition, such as becoming a brahmana, a learned scholar, a very rich man or a great philosopher, can induce Krishna to accept some offering.” (BG 9.26 purport)

Here is a list of some effects of eating bhoga:

(1)Makes the mind wicked.
(2)Causes bewilderment.
(3)Destroys clear thinking.
(4)Causes lust.
(5)Dampens the enthusiasm for devotional service.
(6)Creates material desires.
(7)Causes atheism.
(8)Creates impersonal or mayavadi thoughts.
(9)Causes one to commit vaisnava aparadha.
(10)Causes one to commit Nama-aparadha.
(11)Cause indifference to Bhakti.
(12)Causes one to be inattentive while chanting.
(13)Clouds fine memory.
(14)Dulls the brain.
(15)Breaks our concentration.
(16)Makes one less serious in devotion.
(17)Causes loss of faith.
(18)Makes one casual in the matter of devotion.

 

With a list as long as this we can see how the dangers of eating the wrong foods cannot be underestimated.

Your servant, Kesava Krsna Dasa – GRS.

 

Source: http://www.dandavats.com/?p=8562

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Tulasi: The Dearest to The Divine

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By Gauranga Darshan Das

The most adorable and transcendentally fragrant tulasi is endowed with transformative potency and has a special significance in the worship of Lord Krishna.

What kind of offerings please God? Gorgeous, expensive, elaborate…? Not necessarily! If one can afford, one may make magnificent offerings to God, but what the Supreme Lord is looking for behind any offering is love and devotion. In a nutshell, attitude behind an offering is greater than the magnitude of the offering.

Lord Krsna says in Bhagavad-gita, “patram puspam phalam toyam yo me bhaktya prayacchati,” If one offers to Krsna, with sincerity and devotion, either a leaf, or a flower, or fruit, or a little water—Krsna is fully satisfied. Thus, even the poorest man can serve the Supreme Lord Krsna as completely as the richest. Worshiping and pleasing Lord Krsna is that simple for simple-hearted devotees.

The leaf mentioned above especially refers to the tulasi. By watering, worshiping and circumambulating the tulasi plant, and offering her leaves and flowers (manjaris) to Lord Krsna, one makes tremendous spiritual advancement. In fact, tulasi leaves are offered to Krsna or Visnu along with all the other offerings too, because tulasi is extremely dear to the Lord (tulasya priyaya prabhum).

THE MOST ADORABLE PLANT

Tulasi has special significance even amongst the divine plants that bear the most colorful, fragrant and beautiful flowers of different shapes in the spiritual world. Vrndavana is the forest where Srimati Vrndadevi (tulasi) grows profusely. Vaikuntha is the place where tulasi gets special respect from all the other beautiful plants.

Tulasi in Vaikuntha: The plants in Vaikuntha have flowers with the sweetest divine perfume, but when these plants smell the fragrance of tulasi from the tulasi ornaments adorning the Lord, as He performs pastimes in the forest, they offer respect to tulasi for her austerities to achieve that position. They do not envy tulasi, because she has a pure heart (sumanasah).

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punnaga-naga-bakulambuja-parijatah
gandhe ‘rcite tulasikabharanena tasya
yasmims tapah sumanaso bahu manayanti

“Although flowering plants like the mandara, kunda, kurabaka, utpala, campaka, arna, punnaga, nagakesara, bakula, lily and parijata are full of transcendental fragrance, they are still conscious of the austerities performed by tulasi, for tulasi is given special preference by the Lord, who garlands Himself with tulasi leaves.” (SB 3.15.19)

Tulasi in Vrndavana: Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti glorifies Tulasi-devi or Vrnda-devi as the ruling monarch of Vrndavana in Sri Vrndadevy-astaka (3)

samasta-vaikuntha-siromanau sri-
krsnasya vrndavana-dhanya-dhamni
dattadhikare vrsabhanu-putrya
vrnde namas te caranaravindam

“O Vrnda Devi, I offer my respectful obeisances to your lotus feet. Srimati Radharani, the daughter of King Vrsabhanu, has made you the ruling monarch of Lord Krsna’s opulent and auspicious abode of Vrndavana, which is the crest jewel of all the Vaikuntha planets.”

The Gopis praise Tulasi: Searching for Lord Krsna, overwhelmed with feelings of separation, the gopis of Vrndavana, the topmost devotees of Lord Krsna, spoke to the chief of all plants tulasi, expecting her sympathy:

kaccit tulasi kalyani govinda-carana-priye
saha tvali-kulair bibhrad drstas te ‘ti-priyo ‘cyutah

“O most kind tulasi, to whom the feet of Govinda are so dear, have you seen that infallible one walk by, wearing you and encircled by swarms of bees?” (SB 10.30.7)
The gopis say that Lord Sri Govinda is very affectionate to tulasi and cannot leave her (a-cyuta), even if the tulasi garland that He wears is surrounded by humming bees.

RECIPIENT OF LORD KRISHNA’S DUST

Devotees of Lord Krsna offer tulasi leaves and flowers at His lotus feet. Upon being placed the Lord’s feet, tulasi is beautified, attains all divine qualities and receives the Lord’s foot dust, which is aspired for by great devotees, yogis and even Laksmi.

Laksmi and Tulasi: Tulasi is dearer to Krsna than even Mahalaksmi. Laksmi aspires for the dust from Lord Govinda’s feet with great endeavor. But tulasi naturally receives that dust, being so dear to His feet (govinda-carana-priye). Srila Prabhupada writes, “The goddess of fortune, Laksmi, is sometimes envious of the tulasi leaves which are placed at the lotus feet of the Lord, for they remain fixed there and do not move, whereas Laksmiji, although stationed by the chest of the Lord, sometimes has to please other devotees who pray for her favor. Laksmiji sometimes has to go to satisfy her numerous devotees, but tulasi leaves never forsake their position, and the Lord therefore appreciates the service of the tulasi more than the service of Laksmi.” (3.16.21 Purport)
Srila Prabhupada writes, “Lord Krsna’s lotus feet are always besmeared with the tulasi leaves, and thus as soon as His lotus feet contact the water of the Ganges and the Yamuna, the rivers become at once sanctified.” (SB 1.19.6 Purport)

Ganga and Tulasi: The water that emanates from the lotus feet of the Lord or the water that washed His feet becomes the greatest of all rivers – the Ganges that purifies the three worlds. Thus the water of the Ganges always carries the dust of Krsna’s lotus feet along with the divine fragrance of the tulasi leaves that are always adorning them (ya vai lasac-chri-tulasi-vimisra-krsnanghri-renv-abhyadhikambu-netri, SB 1.19.6).

Yamuna and Tulasi: Along with river Ganga, river Yamuna is also sanctified by the touch of the lotus feet of Lord Krsna who performed various transcendental pastimes in her waters right from His childhood. For instance, while Vasudeva was crossing the Yamuna with baby Krsna to keep Him at Nanda Maharaja’s house in Gokula, Lord Krsna fell down in the river, and the river at once became sanctified by the dust of His lotus feet, mixed with tulasi leaves.

Tulasi’s Transcendental Fragrance

Appreciated only by devotees: Tulasi, although exalted in many ways, is generally not considered an especially fragrant plant. However, early in the morning tulasi emits a transcendental fragrance that ordinary people cannot perceive but spiritually advanced personalities fully appreciate, even more than the fragrance of a lotus. The privileged bees that swarm about the fragrant forest flower garlands on the neck of Lord Govinda specifically appreciate the fragrance of tulasi manjaris, more than even the spiritually advanced persons. Even Krsna’s nostrils relish this most sublime of fragrances. By the covering of yogamaya, these fragrances cannot be perceived commonly by the spiritually unadvanced.

Monists transformed: From the Srimad Bhagavatam we come to know that once the sons of Lord Brahma, the four Kumaras, went to Vaikuntha. At this stage they were still attached to the impersonal aspect of the Lord. They were protagonists of the philosophy of monism, becoming one with the Lord. But as soon as they saw Lord Visnu’s beautiful features in Vaikuntha and smelled the fragrance of tulasi offered to His lotus feet, their minds changed.

tasyaravinda-nayanasya padaravinda-
kinjalka-misra-tulasi-makaranda-vayuh
antar-gatah sva-vivarena cakara tesam
sanksobham aksara-jusam api citta-tanvoh

“When the breeze carrying the aroma of tulasi leaves from the toes of the lotus feet of the Personality of Godhead entered the nostrils of those sages, they experienced a change both in body and in mind, even though they were attached to the impersonal Brahman understanding.” (SB 3.15.43)
Srila ViSvanatha Cakravarti Thakura writes, “When the sweetness of the Lord’s body produced in them a level of astonishment much higher than the bliss of Brahman, it penetrated within them. Their mind and bodies became agitated. First the mind became very strongly agitated by the changes arising from bliss. Then the body became agitated with tears, hairs standing on end, and perspiration… Even though they had been practicing contact with the Brahman, the bliss of Bhagavan was more powerful because of its sweetness.” (SB 3.15.43 Commentary)

Transformative Potency of Tulasi

Just as the four Kumaras, many others were also transformed by the divine potency of tulasi. Srila Prabhupada emphasizes that the process of chanting the Hare Krsna maha-mantra before the tulasi plant has immense spiritual potency.

A prostitute elevated: Srila Haridasa Thakura, a great devotee of Lord Krsna, used to chant 300,000 holy names of the Lord in front of tulasi every day. Once a professional prostitute attempted to distract and defame him. She would daily come to Haridasa’s place, offer respects to tulasi plant, and sit in front of him as he chanted. Gradually she also started chanting along with him. She felt shameful of her sinful mentality and accepted Haridasa Thakura her guru. Haridasa instructed her to give up her profession and property, and chant Hare Krsna in front of tulasi and worship tulasi. By doing so, she was purified and became a great Vaisnavi.

A hunter transformed: Once Narada Muni met a cruel hunter named Mrgari who was accustomed to half killing animals and taking sadistic pleasure in their pain. Narada asked Mrgari to give up killing and promised that he would arrange for the daily food the hunter needed. Narada mercifully instructed Mrgari to distribute his riches and live in a small cottage, grow a tulasi plant before his house, and daily circumambulate and serve her by offering water and other things (tulasi-parikrama kara, tulasi-sevana), and continuously chant the Hare Krsna (nirantara krsna-nama kariha kirtana). The hunter followed this sincerely and was soon elevated in his consciousness so much so that he wouldn’t even harm an ant.

Tulasi’s Significance in Krsna’s Worship

In the Gautamiya-tantra it is stated as follows:

tulasi-dala-matrena jalasya culukena va
vikrinite svam atmanam bhaktebhyo bhakta-vatsalah

“Sri Krsna, who is very affectionate toward His devotees, sells Himself to a devotee who offers Him merely a tulasi leaf and a palmful of water.”

Lord Caitanya’s descent: Considering the meaning of the above verse, Advaita Acarya Prabhu worshiped Lord Krsna with tulasi leaves and Ganges water. He appealed to Lord Sri Krsna with loud calls with a desire to make Him descend on this earth. Thus Lord Krsna appeared as Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu to spread the chanting of the holy names and deliver the people of Kali-yuga.

Srila Prabhupada emphasizes the importance of offering tulasi to the Lord, “Tulasi leaves are very important for satisfying the Lord, so as far as possible an arrangement should be made for growing tulasi leaves… In the Western countries, while engaged in propagating the Krsna consciousness movement, we were brought great unhappiness because we could not find tulasi leaves. We are very much obliged, therefore, to our disciple Srimati Govinda dasi because she has taken much care to grow tulasi plants from seeds, and she has been successful by the grace of Krsna. Now tulasi plants are growing in almost every center of our movement.” (SB 4.8.55 Purport)
The devotees of Krsna respect and adore tulasi so much that they wear tulasi beads around their necks. They make all the food offerings to their beloved Lord Krsna along with tulasi, because any aspect of worship of Krsna or Visnu is incomplete without offering tulasi. Devotees water, worship, circumambulate, smell and taste tulasi every day. Therefore, one should never consider tulasi plant to be ordinary, but recognize her great significance for our spiritual progress and our attempts to please the Supreme Lord Krsna. By taking shelter of tulasi, one can hope to receive Lord Krsna’s mercy.

bhaktya vihina aparadha-laksaih
ksiptas ca kamadi-taranga-madhye
krpamayi tvam saranam prapanna
vrnde namas te caranaravindam

“O Vrnda Devi, I offer my respectful obeisances to your lotus feet. Those who are devoid of devotion to Lord Hari, and who are thrown by their offenses into the waves of lust and other inauspicious qualities, may take shelter of you.” (Sri Vrndadevy-astaka 8)

Source: http://www.dandavats.com/?p=79651

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