Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Only a disciplined disciple develops love for Krishna






Published in Dandavats

We are so serious, so enthusiastic and so happy when we are just about to receive the beads from our spiritual master during the initiation ceremony. We promise to ourselves that as soon as we will get the beads we will chant not just 16 rounds but many more rounds with utmost sincerity, will follow the 4 regulative principles not just carefully but with extraordinary determination and with extraordinary zeal will serve the mission of Srila Prabhupada.
And in fact, for few days or weeks or even for few months we live up to our expectations.  But gradually the enthusiasm starts waning and we start taking our devotional life casually. 

We chant just to complete our rounds, follow regulative principles only grossly and do services casually.

Initiation isn't a formality or a name giving ceremony but it's a very serious commitment, it’s connection of the heart. A disciple is utterly serious about serving Krishna and he knows that the best way to be Krishna Conscious is by consciously serving as per the instructions of his spiritual master. Spiritual master isn't just a designation, he is not an ordinary soul but he represents the guru parampara and so the mercy of Krishna is reaching to us through him.
Great souls in the past through their exemplary examples have shown us the importance of having a spiritual master and how to practice devotional life as per the instructions of the spiritual master.

Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura was seriously contemplating to give up his life when Srila Gaur Kishore Das Babaji Maharaj, out of his humility, was not willing to initiate him. With tears in his eyes, Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura said, “karuna na haile kandiya kandiya prana na rakhibe ara – If there is no mercy, weeping and weeping, I can sustain my life no more. If I do not receive your mercy I do not see any need in holding onto life”.  The prayer melted the heart of Srila Gaur Kishore Das Babaji and he happily accepted him as his disciple.

Lokanath Goswami had taken a vow not to accept any disciple so he was finding ways so that he can avoid initiating Narottama Das Thakura. But Narottama Das Thakura desperately wanted to take initiation from Lokanath Goswami. With utmost humility, he pleaded, “The guru guides his disciple in practical spiritual life. I have no spiritual insight, and I am feeling separation from the Lord. For this reason, I beg for your mercy.” In his heart, he had already accepted Lokanath Goswami as his spiritual master. He followed his instructions seriously, happily served him even doing menial services for him and patiently but eagerly waited to get initiated.  After waiting for a year, he again approached Lokanath Goswami, “I am like a young woman who has already chosen her husband. My heart is clear without any doubt. A young woman who makes up her mind in this way prays that her father will agree with her choice. I pray that our Father in heaven agrees with my choice.”  Lokanath was so moved by his sincerity. Accepting him as his disciple, the great sage said, “Your fierce determination has exceeded my own – but you are the only disciple I will ever make.”

These great devotees of the Lord through their conduct have demonstrated that for our spiritual progress we need a bonafide guru.

Spiritual master is our spiritual father who is very much interested in our spiritual growth.  A father knows the best for his child so our spiritual master knows what is the best medicine which should be administered to us to cure our manifold material miseries.

We can never repay our debt to our spiritual father who has taken the responsibility to take us back to the kingdom of Krishna. But yes, we can at least become a responsible disciple and try our best not to commit any sinful activities. We should not be just sentimentally attached to our spiritual master and neither be a pretender trying to portray ourselves as a dedicated soul.

But in fact, we should be devoted and determined. And should always accept the fact without any doubt that our spiritual master is more elevated than us and is our best well-wisher.

Srila Prabhupada explains, “Chaitanya Mahaprabhu taught us this instruction that we shall always remain a foolish student before our Guru Maharaja. That is the Vedic culture. I may be very big man, but still, I should remain a foolish student to my guru. That is the qualification. Guru more murkha dekhi karila sasana (Chaitanya Charitamrita Adi 7.71). We should be always prepared to be controlled by the guru. That is very good qualification. Yasya prasadad bhagavat-prasada. Ara na kariha mane asa. So, we should become always a very obedient student to our guru. That is the qualification. That is the spiritual qualification.” His Divine Grace Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami Prabhupada's Disappearance Day, Lecture -- Hyderabad, December 10, 1976:

Initiation is a serious commitment and if we are serious to seek shelter of Krishna then we must seriously practice our devotional life by enthusiastically following the vow which we take during initiation.

Only a disciplined disciple develops love for Krishna and is welcomed in the kingdom of Krishna.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

When it became difficult to call Krishna’s name



Chanting the Hare Krishna maha – mantra isn’t a mundane activity but is in fact a means by which we can experience exponential spiritual pleasure.
Chanting connects us to Krishna provided we chant with utmost sincerity and seriousness. One of the most important requirements of chanting is that we should pronounce each syllable of the maha – mantra clearly and loud enough so that we can hear what we chant.
But many a times we the spiritual seekers chant inattentively without bothering if we are calling the names of Krishna with clarity or not. That the ability to chant Krishna’s name is a gift given to us by Krishna to re-establish our relationship with him is totally forgotten.
Have we ever bothered to ponder what if this gift, the gift of speech, is taken away from us one day? 
Recently I underwent oral surgery and realized what it means not having the ability to speak.
The surgery which lasted for more than 2 hours was quite complicated and very painful. After surgery my mouth and gums were swollen and it was almost impossible for me to open my mouth and speak. Now as per the vow taken during initiation we are supposed to chant 16 rounds of Hare Krishna maha-mantra daily irrespective of any circumstances and so I tried to comply with the vow.
But chanting became a herculean task. With great difficulty I was able to pronounce each syllable of the maha – mantra and in spite of the efforts I was not able to utter the holy names with clarity. And the chanting was so feeble that I had to struggle to hear what I was chanting. Somehow I was able to complete my 16 rounds. But the excruciating pain during chanting forced me to remember those days when I had the ability and opportunity to chant with clarity but I rarely bothered to do so. During those days my mouth just uttered the words, the ear remained oblivious to those words and my mind mostly wandered recklessly taking me into different worlds. I rarely chanted with love and devotion, rarely thinking that the ability to chant Krishna’s name is also a gift given to me by Krishna. And never ever thought what if this precious gift is taken away from me one day. Although Krishna being so kind has not taken this precious gift from me. But the temporary ailment at least made me realize that how casual I have been in my chanting.
Inattentive chanting is the root cause why we do not excel in our spiritual journey. Most of us make multiple material plans but seldom make plans to grow in our spiritual life. We do not realize that our ephemeral body is deteriorating day by day. When we are hale and hearty then we have more opportunity to be Krishna conscious. But sadly we waste those moments pursuing sensual goals. But if we utilize such precious moments in practicing spirituality then result will be phenomenal, we can attain Krishna.
So next time when we have beads in our hands and we are ready to invest time in chanting Hare Krishna maha – mantra then we should invest all our consciousness in it and chant clearly, attentively and reverentially and enjoy the transcendental sound and feel Krishna’s presence in our heart. Hope when I recover fully then I too will become more serious in my spiritual journey.

Published in: Dandavats


Wednesday, November 2, 2016

When terrorists beg for sympathy?

pic source: http://www.india.com


When 8 SIMI terrorists were gunned down by the MP police then the usual suspects – the liberal secularists – started shedding gallons of tears.

How can the police so cruelly kill the “innocent” terrorists? They asked. Don’t they have heart? Would they have not shown compassion towards them?

Wiping their tears they discussed with their secular friends that all the 8 activists (according to The Hindu) who had fled the jail at around 2:30 in the morning after murdering head constable Ramashankar Yadav by slitting his throat would have been hungry. So, as a secular country the government should have first arranged for their morning refreshment. But the communal Indian government and MP government decided to kill them. So horrible! So shameful! All the police personnel who were part of this operation should be immediately suspended, arrested and tried for murder.

These murderers never showed any sympathy while killing others and bombing innocent men, women and children but today their admirers in the media, in the political parties and the Human Rights Organizations are asking why sympathy was not shown to these dreaded terrorists. Whether they were killed in a fake encounter or not needs to be properly investigated first. But the left liberals have already declared that the encounter was fake. They had also previously declared Ishrat Jahan an innocent girl and the Batla House encounter as fake.

Criminals (and their admirers too) since eons have always sought sympathy and talk eloquently about righteousness as soon as they realize that they have been cornered and their end is near.

In Mahabharat we see how Karna upon facing inevitable death was talking about morality. But he had forgotten that he had willingly or unwillingly supported all the evil plans of Duryodhana. Duryodhana had tried to burn the Pandava brothers along with his old mother Kunti alive and later had tried to publicly shame Draupadi. Karna along with Duryodhana had also killed unarmed Abhimanyu mercilessly who was so young.

However this is not to suggest that Karna or Duryodhana were like these dreaded terrorists. These terrorists are zillions times worse than many despicable characters mentioned in Vedic books.

Whether the encounter was fake or real but one thing is sure that today billions of Indians are feeling relived after hearing the elimination of these terrorists.  Only if the Indian judiciary would have been effective then there would have been no need of any encounter – fake or real. But our judiciary drags the case not for years but for decades.

And during these period the innocent men, women and children live in fear because no one knows when these enemies of humanity may break the jail, hijack the plane or bomb the train. 

And the most disgusting part is that there powerful sympathizers are ever ready to come to defend them.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Enjoy the envy in the neighbours’ eyes!!!


“Buy the car and enjoy the envy in your neighbours’ eyes”. With this tagline a car company hopes to lure more people to buy their brand. And what’s wrong with the message if today people prefer buying products not because of their needs but because of their desire to flaunt their wealth to prove their worth.  So before buying a car they measure the length of their neighbours’ car to make sure that their car is bigger than that of their neighbours. People stand in queue for hours to buy the latest electronic gadgets so that they are not labelled as downmarket.

 

But in the quest to be the best we lose mental peace and remain in constant anxiety. We do not cherish our achievements rather we fear others accomplishments.  “What if my friends/relatives/colleagues/neighbours surpass my material position and possessions?”   “What if I lose things which are now so dear to me?”  Our miserable and not so miserable state depends on what I have which others don’t have.  If others are materially better than us then we start envying them and if we are better than others materially we start demeaning them.

 

Envy isn’t a godly quality to be cherished but is in fact a deadly sin which eventually implodes injuring us severely. Envy impels people to act impiously and in many cases violently. Duryodhana was so envious of Pandavas’ name, fame and virtuous kingdom, Indraprastha,  that he devised plans to not just destroy them but went to the extent of disrobing Draupadi, his  own sister in law. Envy never allowed Duryodhana to be peaceful; he always remained in anxiety and he finally died ignominiously. Whereas Pandavas, irrespective of favourable or unfavourable situations and circumstances, always remained peaceful and satiated because they never envied anyone.

 

With envy in the eyes, hatred in the heart and anger in the word we can never be happy in this world. This is why in Bhagavad Gita 16.3 Krishna tells us that freedom from envy is a virtuous quality. So, instead of trying to enjoy envy in others eyes we should try to treasure the gifts which God has given us with a thankful heart.




Friday, June 24, 2016

Why I Am Not God

           



                                                    Published in India Opines
A well-known spiritual speaker thundered, “I am here to tell you a very astonishing secret which will change your life.” The audience waited with bated breath to known the life transforming secret. The speaker after a long pause roared, “You all are GOD. It is just that you have forgotten that you are GOD.”  The revelation charmed the hearts of the listeners and they greeted him with thunderous applause.

5000 years ago at the battlefield of Kurukshetra, when Krishna told to Arjuna that I have spoken this imperishable science of yoga to sun god Vivasvan (Bhagavad Gita 4.1) then Arjuna questioned how could it be possible because the sun god is very senior to you by birth?(Bhagavad Gita 4.4).  Krishna said, “Many, many births both you and I have passed. I can remember all of them, but you cannot” (Bhagavad Gita 4.4).

We may wonder why?

It is because Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead and Arjuna is just a living entity. Brahma – Samhita describes that Lord never forgets Himself and so is called acyuta (infallible) but the living entities like us are prone to forgetfulness.

So the logic given by some spiritual gurus that “We all are God and we have just forgotten that we are God” is not supported by the Vedic scriptures.

Vedic books very clearly delineates as who God is.

  • isvarah paramah Krishna – “Krishna who is known as Govinda is the Supreme Godhead” (Brahma-samhita 5.1);
  • Krishna tu bhagavan svayam – “Lord Sri Krishna is the original Personality of Godhead” (Srimad Bhagavatam 1.3.38).
  • “Devaki’s son [Krishna] is the Supreme Lord” [Narayana Upanisad (4)].
  • Even Krishna speaks about His supreme position: mattah parataram nanyat kincid asti dhananjaya – “O conqueror of wealth, there is no truth superior to Me” (Bhagavad-Gita 7.7).
  • Arjuna too accepts that Krishna is the Supreme Lord: You are the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the ultimate abode, the purest, the Absolute Truth. You are the eternal, transcendental, original person, the unborn, the greatest. All the great sages such as Narada, Asita, Devala and Vyasa confirm this truth about You, and now You Yourself are declaring it to me. (Bhagavad-Gita 10.12-13)
     
    We desire to be the controller and the proprietor and so we feel elated when someone comes and tell us that we are God.  Some spiritual charlatans share some secret mantras assuring us that by chanting these words we would become God. Some tell us that by performing yoga or certain type of meditations we will merge into God and become God.
    Krishna did not chant any mantras or perform any yoga or meditation to become God. He was God before he decided to enter into the womb of Devaki and after coming out of the womb he was still God. And since the moment he appeared he performed many extraordinary miracles which a living entity cannot perform.
    When little Krishna opened his mouth in front of mother Yashoda then she saw the entire universe in Krishna’s mouth. Is there any spiritual guru or his disciples who can show the entire universe in his or her mouth?  The answer is: NO.
    We need to understand that we are not God and we can never become God. God is always God.
     
    Some false gurus decorate themselves with the ornaments of scriptural knowledge and renunciation and mislead their followers by making them believe that they too can become the Supreme Being. To buttress their point they even misinterpret the scriptures.
    So, we need to be very cautious whenever we approach any spiritual teacher.  Whatever he teaches we should always vet it with the Vedic books.  If it matches with the Vedas then he can be accepted else rejected.
    As Krishna says in Gita, “As all surrender unto Me, I reward them accordingly” (Bhagavad Gita 4.11) which means we get what we desire in this world. If we desire cheaters we will get cheaters who will take us away from God. And if we desire genuine spiritual knowledge then we will be directed towards those who are dedicated devotees of the Lord selflessly serving the people by bringing them closer to God.
     
        (pic source: http://hiswordinwood.com/)


Thursday, June 9, 2016

Art Of Dying



                                                      Published in India Opines



We have heard innumerable stories of great men and women planning meticulously so that they can enjoy living like a king or queen. For them life is precious and for its safety and security they try to build invincible fortress so that life threatening formidable enemies – disease and death – could be warded off.   But almost all the times without fail the enemy is too powerful to confront and all have to ultimately surrender in front of it.


When Srila Prabhupada had gone to the western countries to teach the message of Vedic literatures then one person challenged him, “Indians are poor people and so there the death rate is so high?” Srila Prabhupada promptly replied, “Death rate all over the world is hundred percent.” Anyone who is living has to die sooner or later.


So when death knocks at the door then what should be done? Should we become fearful and hide ourselves behind the curtains or should we look into its gazing eyes and say boldly, “Yes, I am ready to go with you!” Such fearlessness can be achieved only when we have thoroughly prepared ourselves for the ultimate reality of life.


Srimad Bhagavatam tells the story of a King named Parikshit who was unperturbed when he came to know that his death is inevitable. Instead of strategizing how to avoid it he decided to face it gloriously. And so he decided to approach the saintly people who could help him to face the challenge of death heroically.

 

King Parikshit had been cursed by a brahmana boy named Shringi to die in 7 days by the bite of a poisonous snake. Shringi was furious because the king had shown disrespect to his father.  It was indeed true that the king’s action was improper but it was not so grievous that he should have been condemned to die.  The scripture and the saintly people explain that the brahmana boy had misused his power and it was in fact the beginning of the fall down of brahmanas. Lord Krishna had departed from this material world and soon after Kaliyuga, the age of downfall, began.

Shringi misusing his power proves that as Kaliyuga entered brahmanas started misusing their power to establish their authority leading to the decline of Vedic culture which was based on unbreakable religious principles.


Parikshit was a saintly king and he too had the power to not just nullify the curse but he could have counter cursed Shringi. But he contemplated on it and concluded that those who are born have to die. “May be as per the will of providence my time to leave this mortal world has come so why not to embrace it”, he thought. And so without delay he relinquished his kingdom, his kiths and kin and immediately approached the sages for their guidance.

In the assembly of sages was Sukhadeva Goswami, son of Ved Vyas, a highly realized soul.  Approaching him, the king said, “You are the spiritual master of great saints and devotees. I am therefore begging you to show the way of perfection for all persons, and especially for one who is about to die.” Srimad Bhagavatam. 1.19.37


Here we see that the king who was about to die did not beg the sage to give him any benediction or mantra so that his life can be saved. We generally find people approaching God or saintly people for countless material benedictions – wealth, health, success, safety and a long life. But the king wanted to know the best way by which he can leave his mortal body. The king did not fear death because he was well aware that there is life after death. Death dissipates the body but does not destroy the soul because soul is eternal.

 

Sukhadeva Goswami was happy to hear the transcendental query. He replied, “O descendant of King Bharata, one who desires to be free from all miseries must hear about, glorify and also remember the Personality of Godhead, who is the Supersoul, the controller and the savior from all miseries. The highest perfection of human life, achieved either by complete knowledge of matter and spirit, by practice of mystic powers, or by perfect discharge of occupational duty, is to remember the Personality of Godhead at the end of life. S.B.2.1.5-6.


Death is a certainty; none of us can avoid it. So instead of fearing it we should be prepared for it. Life is a preparation and death is the final examination.  How we lead our life determines our next destination.  And how to lead a virtuous life has been explained in the holy books. These holy books have been given to us so that we can know about the righteous and unrighteous actions and also learn the art of dying. If we adhere to these guidelines then we can be happy in this life and can be sure of glorious destination when we bid farewell to this world.


King Parikshit was finally bitten by the poisonous snake and the saintly king’s body burned to ashes by the fire of the snake’s poison. (Srimad Bhagavatam 12.6.13). King faced the death confidently because he was confident of reaching a glorious destination after leaving his mortal body and this mortal world.


The king knew that he would die in 7 days and so he planned his last few days in a way so that he remain absorbed in remembering the Lord but we do not know when we are going to die.


So should we not be always prepared to face the ultimate truth of life?

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Animals too cry



pic: www.ibnlive.com


Article published in India Opines

The image of injured Shaktiman, the unfortunate horse, who broke his leg during a rally in Uttarakhand, India moved many.  But Shaktiman was fortunate because his pain got wide publicity and he gained lots of sympathy.  But there are many friends of Shaktiman in the animal kingdom who are not so fortunate.  They too are dealt savagely and they die a silent death.

Cruelty against animals is nothing new in India. And if the animal is a cow then the secularists, the left intellectuals, the leftist media try their best to justify violence against cow.  The reason is pretty simple - Hindus worship cow and secularists abhor ‘Hindus’ and so they celebrate atrocity against cows.

In Mahabharata it is mentioned that ahara-nidra-bhaya-maithunam i.e.eating, sleeping, mating and defending are the common characteristics of both man and animal. What differentiate between the two is that humans have more evolved consciousness as compared to animals. As humans we can differentiate between righteous and unrighteous behaviour. Animals mostly act on their instinct. Their stimulus and response is intertwined.  If we throw bread in front of a dog it will ponce upon it. If a cat sees a rat then it will run behind the rat. But we as humans think before we do anything and so we are considered to be more civilized. Animals do not feel ashamed when naked but we humans do. Animals can urinate at any place, at any time, even while eating but a respectable person won’t.  However many would argue today that such differences are gradually shrinking.

Since we are superior beings so Vedic scriptures ask man to take proper care of animals. We are told not to inflict pain on animals. There are references in the holy books as how animals were well treated. In Ramayana it is mentioned that when a dog was badly beaten by a man who was a Brahmana then the dog came to Lord Rama to seek justice and got it. Srimad Bhagavatam narrates the story of King Bharata who saved the life of a baby deer. It is said that a ruler should not just take care of his fellow citizens who are human beings but should also take care of animals because animals are also inhabitants of his kingdom.

But it seems that as we are advancing technologically we are becoming more mechanical and we are soon forgetting our core values of compassion and care. The situation is worsening day by day. And this is evident with the number of slaughterhouses - both legal and illegal – which is increasing where animals are mercilessly butchered.  Many think that animals are just meant to satisfy their needs, wants and desires.   The law says that if animals become unproductive then they could be slaughtered. Although the poor animal might have served his master for years but since now they have become old or have got some disease they have become useless so could be killed. In fact the same logic is applied when children send their parents to old age homes because they start considering their old parents as burdens.


We can be called as humans only if we humanely treat others especially those who are weak and need our support for survival. Using others for our selfish motives make us worse than the animals.  Animals too have emotions; they too have souls; they too long for love and care. They also want to live like us and not want to be killed in a slaughterhouse. They too cry like us when in pain and smile when in love.