Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Love is function of the soul

Love is function of the soul. We have innate desire to love and be loved because our real identity is spirit soul, a fragmental part and parcel of Krishna whose very essence is rasa (raso vai sah) -- loving relationships in various mellows. Unfortunately,  under the influence of material contamination (and resulting bodily identification) this original loving tendency is perversely reflected as lust (kama) through the agency material senses and mind. We must understand that love is not a function of the senses or the mind. The function of the senses is to produce various sensual experiences in contact with the objects of senses and the function of the mind is to categorize these sensual experiences as pleasurable / painful or as desirable / undesirable. This mind needs to be brought under control because as spirit souls our real interest or business does not lie in what is pleasurable / painful as categorized by the mind but rather it lies in what is favorable / unfavorable in pleasing Krishna (per spiritual master's instructions). An uncontrolled mind's interest is not aligned with the interest of soul proper and therefore it is said to be the self's greatest enemy.

Since Krishna is "spirit whole" of whom the spirit soul is a fragmental part and parcel, true love is only for Krishna. He is the only object of our love. In the state of pure love for Krishna, the spirit soul can love everyone perfectly, just as in illumination of the sun everything can be seen perfectly -- we can see the sun, ourselves and others perfectly. In absence of the sun, we cannot even see ourselves properly what to speak of others. Another example that may be given in this connection is that once we can realize the father, we can realize our  family in relationship with the father. Any attempt to love separately from Krishna (must be through material senses and mind due to marginal position of the soul) must result in lusty exploitative attempts due to the very nature of senses and the mind that cover the original and pure loving function of the soul. The reason the slogans of peace, love and universal brotherhood minus Krishna do not work is because as soon as we are not serving Krishna, we are completely controlled by the three modes of material nature. Therefore attempts such as UN for world peace are bound to be a failure as they are not based on perfect knowledge.

The prime goal of human life is to revive our original love for Krishna through the process of Bhakti Yoga. Even though we have acquired perverted taste for material sense enjoyments, the practice of Bhakti Yoga gradually removes the material contamination and revives our original love and taste for Krishna just as sugar candy even though it tastes bitter to a jaundice patient in his diseased state ultimately cures the disease and restores the original taste of the subject.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Gaudiya Catechism

A serial presentation of thirty-six questions and answers on spiritual life, published in 'The Harmonist'.

1. Q. I have come to you to enquire about the Truth. I do not know what is the goal of my life or the means to my goal. I am not in a position to put my questions in the proper form. Kindly tell me what you consider to be necessary for me to know for this purpose. May I be permitted to ask any questions that may also occur to me?

Ans. Krishna is Merciful to you. The Truth is not unknown to you. It is the nature of a pure soul who is willing to serve Godhead to ask these questions for strengthening his faith. As you are willing to learn the Truth for the purpose of serving Him in your life, Krishna will be pleased if I try to serve you in this matter.

2. Q. You have mercifully drawn me to your feet for my good. I, indeed, possess a measure of such so-called wisdom that is necessary for living among the people of this world. I hold such wisdom to be the Truth. I now find that I have wasted my life in the pursuit of such evil objects. I feel that I am wholly ignorant of my duty. I submit myself to your feet and prey to be instructed about my real duty.

Ans. The Mercy of Krishna will suggest to you the proper line of enquiry and also the answers to your questions.

3. Q. May I ask a few questions as I wish to receive their real answers from you? Who am I? Why am I afflicted with the threefold misery from accidents, from other sentient beings and from myself? In what way I can be really benefited?

Ans. I shall try to answer your questions one by one. You are a soul (jiva).

4. Q. What is a soul?

Ans. You will be able to avoid misunderstanding if I tell you in the first place what the soul is not. The soul is not this physical body which is constituted of insentient matter. He is also not the subtle material body that you possess, consisting of your mind, faculty of judgment (buddhi) and your present egoistic consciousness (ahamkara).

5. Q. Is my soul wholly unconnected with these two bodies?

Ans. Your soul does not consist of your material bodies. They bind your soul to this mortal existence. You are also not the Absolute, but a subservient of the Absolute Person Krishna. Your present material bodies prevent your soul from all access to the Presence of Krishna.

6. Q. Am I separate from Krishna?

Ans. You are related to Krishna as a ray emanating from a portion of the sun is related to the undivided entity of the sun. Or, you may be compared to one of the infinity of sparks sent up by the countless tongues of a blazing fire, while Krishna may be compared to the undivided substratum of fire whose power is manifested in the form of the vast conflagration.

10. Q. Why am I afflicted with the three miseries?

Ans. The jiva, due to his intermediate position, is liable to forget Krishna. This happens when he turns his face towards the external power of Krishna. The tendency of this aversion to or turning way from Krishna is inherent in the jiva in his eternal position. When the jiva turns his face towards the external power he finds himself in this mundane realm. His miseries are due to his submission to the external power who makes him totally forget his own nature and to entertain the delusion that he, and not Krishna, is the master of the external power.

11. Q. Is fear of punishment helpful to the soul of the jiva?'

Ans. The sense of fear comes upon the jiva only when he turns his face towards the external power. It is due to the reversal of his relationship with Krishna. It is this fear of punishment that finds its appropriate plane in this worldly sojourn. The external power playing upon the fears and hopes of the jiva sometimes elevates her victim to heaven and sometimes hurls him headlong into the lowest abyss of hell.

The jiva is not allowed to have a moment's safe and secure position. His condition has very aptly been compared to that of criminals in ancient times who were punished by being held forcibly under water and brought up to the surface for short intervals to prevent death by suffocation. But the jiva does not suspect that the external power is deluding him in this manner. On the contrary, he trusts in her promises to give him domination over the world.

12. Q. How can the jiva get rid of delusion?

Ans. The jiva can be relieved of the miseries of his worldly sojourn only if his mind is turned towards Krishna by the mercy of sadhus and the Shastras. As soon as the jiva turns his face towards Krishna, the external power ceases to have any control over him. So longs as the jiva agrees to be deluded by the external power he remains without any recollection of Krishna. Krishna out of His Mercy manifests Himself to jivas in His three forms of (1) the Veda fully explained in the Srimad Bhagavata, (2) the spiritual preceptor who is the best-beloved of His servitors, and (3) as the Internal Divine Guide. The jiva is enabled with the help of these Divine agencies to realise the fact that Krishna is his Lord and Saviour.

13. Q. In what way does the Veda enable us to recollect Krishna?

Ans. The Veda tells us (1) about Krishna as the object of our relationships, (2) about the natural function of our souls and (3) also about the final desideratum. Krishna is the Object of all our relationships. Bhakti or spiritual service of Krishna is the means of realising this eternal relationship. Prema or love for Krishna is the desired object to be gained by the realised service of Krishna. The treasure of love for Krishna is the summum bonum. By tasting love for Krishna we realise our highest bliss, and incidentally get rid of the miseries of our worldly sojourn for good.

14. Q. Is Krishna apart and different from all other entities?

Ans. This phenomenal world as well as the transcendental world are the transformations of the Power of Krishna.

15. Q. What is Krishna Himself?

Ans. Krishna is the Ultimate Reality. He is non-bifurcate Knowledge. He is the Son of the Chief of the Realm of Braja, His Eternal Abode. He is the beginning of all things, the Integer of Whom everything else is only a fractional part, the Rarest of all rare jewels of a Budding Youth. Krishna has a Body of pure consciousness and perfect bliss. He is the Support of everything and the Lord of all entities. Krishna is Godhead Himself. He is the same as Govinda Whose Eternal Realm of Goloka is full of all Beauty.

16. Q. Why is Godhead not realised as Krishna by all seekers of the Absolute?

Ans. There are three possible methods of approaching the Absolute viz. those of undifferentiated knowledge, artificial concentration of consciousness and unalloyed service. Godhead manifests Himself as Brahman, Paramatman, and Bhagawan respectively to the followers of the above methods of search.

17. Q. Are the three manifestations of the Divinity distinct from one another?

Ans. The manifestation of Godhead as Brahman is non-designative. Brahman has no distinctive features. Brahman is really the majestic Glow of the Body of Godhead, even as the Sun appears to be a ball of light to the eye of flesh. Those who seek for the Absolute Reality through knowledge devoid of all distinctive realisation, target Him as Brahman devoid of all distinctive features. While to those who seek for the Ultimate Principle by the progress of astanga yoga (artificial inhibition of activities) realise Him in their hearts as the Supreme Soul indwelling in the souls of all entities of this world. Those who seek Him by the method of unalloyed spiritual service realise Him as Bhagawan i.e. the Divine Person in Whom the six Divine Prerogatives have their perfect existence. Paramatman is only a Divine Portion of Krishna.

18. Q. What is the complete realisation of Bhagawan?

Ans. The full realisation of Godhead is attained through spiritual service. His Body is One. But there is an infinity of Divine Forms that are also His Own Bodies. The Forms of Krishna are broadly divisible into three categories viz., (1) Swayamrupa i.e. the Form that is Himself, (2) those Forms that are different from the Form in Himself, but are identical with Him in essence (tadek-atmarupa), and (3) those Forms that are permeated with Divine Power (avesharupa). The Form, Who is the expansion of the activity of Swayamrupa is known as Sree Balarama. The same Balarama has his fourfold forms of Majestic manifestation. These in their turn have also their respective forms of expanded activity.  There is a derivative series of the fourfold covering forms for secondary Divine activity with their respective forms for the expanded activities of each of them.

There are also other forms that are known as Swamsha or Portions of the Divinity's Own form. The Swamsha Forms are again of two kinds viz. (1) transcendental Support and Ruler of phenomenal Nature, and (2) various Descents (avataras) as Protectors of the sadhus and Destroyers of the wicked. Among the Avataras the foremost are the three Purusha Avataras. Sankarshana-Balarama, the second Person of the fourfold primary expansion, is the direct wielder of power for the creation of the spiritual and mundane world. He makes manifest the spiritual realm, which is uncreated and eternal, through the Spiritual Divine Power. He creates the order of mundane worlds by the external power. Forms permeated with Divine Power are again divisible into primary and secondary forms. Such is the brief outline of the scriptural account of Krishna as the Object of all relationship.

19. Q. Are there other worlds besides the world that we experience?

Ans. Material space has its spiritual counterpart in the Realm of the Absolute. That space is called Parabyoma. In the Parabyoma the innermost sphere is Goloka-Vrindavana. Goloka-Vrindavana is the Eternal Abode of Sree Krishna. Within Parabyoma, below the Realm of Krishna is the Realm of Vishnu. In this lower sphere of Parabyoma there are an infinity of Vaikunthas each of which is the realm of one of the infinity of Divine Forms of Sree Narayana, the Lord of Parabyoma.

Outside Parabyoma is the realm of Maya or this mundane world. The spiritual stream of the Biraja flows between the Realm of the Absolute and this mundane world. The mundane realm is also infinite and passes the conception of jiva. The Realm of the Absolute is the manifestation of three quarters of the Glories of Krishna and the infinitude of this phenomenal world displays only a quarter of His Glories.

 20. Q. How are we to practise our relationships with Krishna?

Ans. Krishna is one without a second. He is non-bifurcate Knowledge. He is served by His Power, although the two are also really one. For the purpose of His Activities, in reciprocity with His Power, Krishna expands Himself into His Own Plenary and His dissociated portions. His Divine Portions have already been mentioned. They are distinct from the jivas who are His dissociated portions. The Divine Portions are Possessors of power. Jivas belong to the category of power. Jivas are again divided into those that are eternally fettered. The eternally fettered are afflicted with the triple misery on account of their aversion to Krishna which is ingrained in their nature. These fettered souls can be rescued from the grip of the deluding power by the mercy of sadhus. By the influence of the instructions of the sadhus the fettered souls may obtain inclination for the pure service of Krishna and is thereby enabled to come to the presence of Krishna where the power of delusion can never abide.

The practice of the willing service of Krishna can alone enable us to realise our relationships with Krishna. Good works, seeking communion by inhibition of activities, cultivation of undifferentiated knowledge have their values as auxiliaries of the willing service of Krishna. The efficacy of these other methods in themselves is very slight. They cannot yield any real benefit independently of the service of Krishna. It is never possible to get rid of delusion except by the service of Krishna. One's judgment cannot be really be pure unless it is purified by the relationship of service with Krishna. Krishna is like the Sun. The deluding power is like darkness. Wherever there is Krishna there is no jurisdiction of the deluding power. If the fettered soul sincerely approaches Krishna, even only once, with the prayer to be His, Krishna forthwith delivers him from the bondage of the deluding power.

21. Q. Can also those, who serve Krishna for gaining some worldly object, be delivered from the bondage of Maya by such service?

Ans. Krishna takes pity on those who serve Him for gaining any worldly purpose. Krishna, by the power of His service, redeems such persons from their addiction to worldliness and enables them to taste the superior excellence of His service.

22. Q. Why does not every person pray for the service of Krishna as it appears to be so very easy to gain and so desirable in every way?

Ans. It is very rarely, indeed, that a person is redeemed from the bondage of the world. Such chance is like that of a log of wood, floating down a mighty stream, being washed up on the dry bank. It is only when through some rare good fortune one's addiction to worldliness is wearing off that a person has a chance of being attracted towards Krishna by association with His pure devotees. Association with sadhus thus offers the only chance for the redemption of conditioned souls.

23. Q. Are there grades among the devotees of Krishna?

Ans. Any person, in whom the settled conviction of the all-sufficiency of the service of Krishna has been aroused, becomes thereby eligible for the attainment of His service. The servants of Krishna are graded into the best, the superior and the junior servitors in accordance with the quality of one's faith. The best are those who possess firm faith and are adepts in scriptural knowledge and argument. Such a person is the saviour of conditioned souls. The superior grade of devotees are not aware of scriptural arguments that are possessed of firmness of faith. Such persons are most fortunate. In the junior grade of devotees faith is still tender. But they also will gradually become the best.

24. Q. Are the devotees of Krishna virtuous?

Ans. All the excellences of Krishna Himself are to be found in His devotees. The quality representing the distinctive nature of the devotee is, of course, his exclusive reliance upon Krishna. His other virtues are external in comparison with it. The best of these are kindness, absence of enmity, regard for the essence of truth, equal regard for everything, absence of vice, magnanimity, gentleness, moral purity, freedom from want, willingness to do good to all, possession of the peace of the soul, exclusive reliance on Krishna, freedom from worldly activity, steadiness, mastery over passions, temperance in diet, absence of excitement, readiness to honour others, absence of any dersie [desire?] for one's own honour, gravity, tenderness, friendliness, the possession of poetic genius, skill, taciturnity.

25. Q. What is the first step in the attainment of a life of spiritual service?

Ans. As soon as a person surrenders himself to Krishna with perfect reliance, Krishna makes him at once similar to Himself. This is spiritual proselytisation.

26. Q. How should a person himself after proselytisation, for perfecting his devotion?

Ans. The object of practising the service of Krishna as means to the end is the attainment of love for Krishna. During the period of novitiate the process which appears as means is the end in the stage of realisation. During the period of endeavour such prescribed activity as listening, chanting, recollection, etc., of Krishna are the proper forms of the process. In respect of means love for Krishna is an accompanying manifestation.

27. Q. Is the process of service the means by which love for Krishna is realised?

Ans. Love for Krishna cannot be realised by any other means than itself. It is eternally self-realised. The means in this case, such as the acts of listening, etc., are also eternally self-realised processes that appear in the pure spiritual essence of the soul in the form of means to the end.

28. Q. Are there varieties of the practice of Bhakti as means?

Ans. The practice of Bhakti as means is of two kinds viz. (1) practice of service by the method of obedience to the injunctions of the Shastras and (2) practice of Bhakti in pursuance of spontaneous liking.

29. Q. What is the nature of the practice of Bhakti in obedience to the rules of the Shastras?

Ans. This course is followed by persons who have no spontaneous liking for the service of Krishna. They do so through their sense of duty. The forms of such regulated service of Krishna are numerous. I shall briefly indicate them. Taking refuge at the feet of the Guru, initiation, service of Guru, learning from him about the real function of the soul and practising loyal enquiry about the same, to follow the path of the sadhus, to give up one's own enjoyments for pleasing Krishna, to reside in a place sanctified by its association with Krishna, to accept the minimum that is necessary for maintenance of life, to observe the fast on the eleventh day of the lunar month which is the Lord's day, to reverence holy trees e.g., emblic myrobalan the cow, the Brahmanas and the Vaishnavas. These ten constitute the first steps on the path of the practice of Bhakti as means.

In addition to these the following are negative helps. To avoid offences in regard to service and also those regarding the Name, to avoid spiritual communion with those who are opposed to the service of the Absolute, not to entertain numerous disciples, to avoid partial study and exposition of many books, not to be elated or depressed by profit or gain, not to be subject to grief, etc., not to condemn other gods or Shastras, not to listen to calumnies against Vishnu and Vaishnavas, not to listen to talks bearing on domestic life for the gratification of the sexual appetites of man and woman, not to cause any anxiety to any living thing.

To the above twenty are to be added forty-four more varieties of service which are as follows. Listening, chanting, recollecting, worshipping, praising, obeying, serving, practising, friendship, surrendering oneself, dancing before the Sree Vigraha, singing, confessing, prostrating oneself, standing up to meet Godhead and His devotees when they are found coming towards oneself, to follow Godhead and His devotees when they move away from oneself, to frequent holy places and temples of Godhead, to perform circumambulation, to recite hymns of praise, to practise mental recital, to perform the congregation chant, to accept the odour of incense and garlands offered to Godhead, to honour the great favour in the form of the remains of the Lord's food, to witness the light-waving service, to view the Sree Murti, to offer objects loved by oneself to Godhead, to meditate, to serve His Own (which includes serving the tulasi etc., serving the Vaishnavas, residing at Mathura and tasting the sweetness of the narrative of the Bhagavata), to exert oneself without stint for the sake of Krishna, to expect His Mercy, to perform the festivities of His Nativity, etc., in the company of the devotees, to practise submission in every way, to observe the prescribed vows in regard to the month of Kartika and on other similar occasions, to wear the symbols of a Vaishnava, to wear the Letters of the Name of Hari, to wear the remains of the Lord's offerings, to drink the nectar touched by the Lord's Feet.

The greatest emphasis is laid upon the following five practices which are repeated for this purpose, viz. association with sadhus, chanting of the name, listening to the Bhagavata, residing at Mathura and worshipping Sree Murti with faith.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Way to Face Troubles -- Stick to Lord's Feet as the Ultimate Shelter

baalasya neha sharanam pitarau nrsimha
naartasya caagadam udanvati majjato nauh
taptasya tat-pratividhir ya ihaanjaseshthas
taavad vibho tanu-bhrtaam tvad-upekshitaanaam

"My Lord Nrsimhadeva, O Supreme, because of a bodily conception of life, embodied souls neglected and not cared for by You cannot do anything for their betterment. Whatever remedies they accept, although perhaps temporarily beneficial, are certainly impermanent. For example, a father and mother cannot protect their child, a physician and medicine cannot relieve a suffering patient, and a boat on the ocean cannot protect a drowning man." (SB 7.9.19)

Srila Prabhupada explains in his purport that despite the presence of a father and mother, a child cannot be protected from accidental death, disease and various other miseries. No one can help, including the parents. Ultimately the shelter is the Lord, and one who takes shelter of the Lord is protected. This is guaranteed. As the Lord says in Bhagavad-gita (9.31), kaunteya pratijanihi na me bhaktah pranasyat - "O son of Kunti, declare it boldly that My devotee never perishes." Therefore, unless one is protected by the mercy of the Lord, no remedial measure can act effectively. One should consequently depend fully on the causeless mercy of the Lord.

Though it is very painful to accept these facts, this is the reality. Each and every one of have our own destiny according to our past karma. We don't have track of whatever sins or good deeds we had done in the past life. But Krishna, Supreme Lord has every detail in tact in His account and as a well-wishing father, He bestows us with happiness/distress as per our karma and His will. We might think that He should always reward us and never punish us. But actually His punishment is also mercy for us. In this context there is story of Pandarpur. Every day evening Lord Vitthala use to go out and return after few hours. One day Rukmini devi asked Lord Vitthala, "Where are you going every day?" Then Lord replied, "One of my great devotee is very sick and he cannot do any thing on his own. I am going there to help him". Then Rukmini devi said, "You are bhakta-vatsala, then why are you allowing him to suffer? Why don't you make him alright?" Then Lord replied, "If I will do so, then again he has to take birth in this material world to complete his cycle. On the other hand if he simply tolerates the misery now and continues with bhakti, then he can come back to Me in this life itself." So when we face troubles, we should understand that it is because of our own past sins and Supreme Lord Krishna apart from giving the punishment, is also giving us the strength to overcome it, as long as we stick on to His shelter.

-- Granthraj / Lord's Lotus Feet is the Safest Shelter / Santosh Ajmire

Srimad Bhagavatam is only about one behaviour - Tolerance.

Maharaj said that we can only be conscious of Krishna if we have tolerance. There is no end to the sufferings and so there should not be any end to tolerance of sufferings. Srimad Bhagavatam is only about one behaviour - tolerance. Parikshit Maharaj tolerated the curse. Cow and the bull tolerated Kali. Indradyumna Maharaj tolerated the curse of Agastya muni. Citraketu Maharaj tolerated the curse of Parvati Mata. Narada Muni tolerated the curse of Daksha. Ambarisha Maharaj tolerated the harassment of Durvasa muni. Gajendra tolerated the clutches of the crocodile for 1000 years and chanted prayers on top of that. Every personality in Bhagavatam has tolerated and because they tolerated, they became so strong in their saadhana that their consciousness is intact. They cannot see anything but the hand of Krishna.

The moment we start the blame game then we are not devotees. Then we become disturbed. Then we give so many excuses why we cannot come for Bhagavatam. Maharaj likes the following verse very much.

dvija uvaaca
naayam jano me sukha-duhkha-hetur
na devataatmaa graha-karma-kaalaah
manah param kaaranam aamananti
samsaara-cakram parivartayed yat

The brahmana said: "These people are not the cause of my happiness and distress. Neither are the demigods, my own body, the planets, my past work, or time. Rather, it is the mind alone that causes happiness and distress and perpetuates the rotation of material life." (SB 11.23.42)

Srimad Bhagavatam smashes all the reasons we give. It is all the attitude. The success of the devotee depends upon the attitude. The mind never wants to be in the present. Mind always wants to look into the past or the future. But the cow and the bull were only discussing Krishna. They never looked into the past or future. Those who discuss Krishna, when they are in trouble, for them the seedlings of sin die. That is the meaning of pure devotional service. SB 6.1.15

Only a rare person who has adopted complete, unalloyed devotional service to Krishna can uproot the weeds of sinful actions with no possibility that they will revive. He can do this simply by discharging devotional service, just as the sun can immediately dissipate fog by its rays
kecit kevalayaa bhaktyaa / vaasudeva-paraayanaah
agham dhunvanti kaartsnyena / nihaaram iva bhaaskarah
What should I do now that difficulty is there? I should remember Krishna. This is what the cow and the bull did. So when they were asked about the accused, they said, "I think it is Krishna", and in doing so they immediately thought of Krishna. They became peaceful. When the Pandavas were in difficulty did they blame the Kauravas? They said that Krishna wanted it and they accepted. When you accept your suffering, you tolerate. When you expect your suffering to stop, you die because the sufferings never stop. They just take different forms and they come in different ways, but they will always be there as long as you are in the material world. So the secret for the devotee is, vaasudeva paraayanaah. We read the word to word equivalent of paraayanaah - Completely attached (only to such service, without dependence on austerity, penance, cultivation of knowledge or pious activities).
-- Granthraj / Devotee Accepts; Demon Expects - Parts 4, 5 / Vaijayanti mala devi dasi

Don't be conscious of being a devotee.

[In the lecture, One of the devotees asked the question, "How do we conduct ourselves as a devotee in the office?" and Maharaj replied]: We should be normal. Devotees are not abnormal. Don't be conscious that you are a devotee (laughter). Unnecessarily we are proud, "Hey I am a devotee"! But actually we are not devotee, we are proud. Our svabhava, natural constitutional position is to be a devotee. So you are not doing anything special by becoming a devotee. For your own comfort you are being a devotee. To go to the mother is not an effort for us. So how can 'being a devotee' is an effort for us? So why should you be proud of it?

-- Granthraj post / Deovtion at Work / Kalacakra Krsna das / 08/06/2012