Monday, December 31, 2012

What is the problem in just saying “Thank You”?

We always yearn for others appreciation. We may express it or not but within our hearts we always nurture a desire for admiration from others.

Just imagine. We get up early in the morning and clean the house, fill the water, rush to the shop to purchase milk and groceries, cook the food, clean the vessels, serve food to all, clean the plates, wash the clothes, pay the bills, ensure that all the members of the family have food of their choice and in fact we take care of all their necessities. But to our utter dismay our family members do not even talk to us, they don’t even realize and recognize our existence. How would we feel? Will we muster the same enthusiasm again to serve our family? Definitely Not. We will be broken – hearted, will start sulking and go into depression zone.

If we ever come to know about such ungrateful family members we outrightly condemn them. But there is someone who has been doing everything for us but still we never ever appreciate his love for us. He provides us water, milk, fruits, vegetables, air, sunlight and everything that we need in our life. This material nature, which is one of My energies, is working under My direction, O son of Kunti, producing all moving and nonmoving beings: Bhagavad – Gita 9.10. But still we never thank him or think about him. If we ever remember him then it is mostly to ask for something or to complain about something.

Are we not becoming too ungrateful by not recognizing his love and his gifts? What is the problem in just thanking him for the wonderful gifts he has bestowed upon us for our happiness?

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Let us search for the “New” in this “New Year”

Sun will still rise from the east & set in the west. Earth will continue to revolve and rotate in the same trajectory. Most of us will continue to be in the same job, live in the same house, in the same neighborhood, don the same set of clothes, ride the same vehicle, watch the same television programs, news will almost remain on the same line and so on. Practically nothing changes. It’s just the calendar of our house which will change.

Most of us are aware of this simple fact but still we impatiently long to celebrate the New Year. Actually it’s not the New Year which excites us but anything which is new enthuse us - a new dress, a new house, a new car, a new birthday, for children a new toy, a new job, going to a new holiday resort, visiting a new restaurant etc. It all excites us because it gives us a hope of some new concealed excitement.

And there is nothing wrong in it.

As a soul we are pleasure seeking so we always look for something exciting which will bring joy to our life. But unfortunately our entire endeavor for seeking joy in our life boils down to 4 things – eating, sleeping, sexual & sensual pleasure and defending.

However revealed scriptures warn us that our endeavor for seeking material pleasure will always get thwarted. This is why in spite of achieving what we had dreamt for we often feel deprived of inner bliss and serenity. And so we try to find out some new means for happiness.

Srimad – Bhagavatam (7.5.30) says that our attempt for material pleasure is like chewing the chewed – punas punas carvitanam.  If a child does not find anything to play with then he picks the same chewed chewing gum and start chewing it again. Similarly, since we don’t find any new pleasure giving substance in our life, so we start getting involved in the same mundane boring material activities again.

But we have a wonderful & rare opportunity to bathe in the ocean of eternal happiness. Krishna is eternally new (nitya navanavayamana) and so loving Him brings eternal joy and infinite bliss in our life. The opportunity is rare because out of 8.4 million specifies only human beings have got the intelligence to inquire for the highest truth.  

The first aphorism of Vedanta-sutra says athato brahma jijnasa: "Therefore, inquire about the higher dimensions of life." It is very significant that the aphorism starts with the word therefore. “Therefore” implies that since you are humans so “inquire for the higher dimension of life”.

So this New Year we should take a vow to do something really new. And the best way is to befriend with the eternal, infinite, lovable Krishna who is always waiting for us with great eagerness.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Bhagavad – Gita: The oldest & the greatest literature of the world

23rd Dec was Gita – Jyanti, the day when Krishna spoke Bhagavad – Gita to Arjuna around 5000 years ago. The sublime message of the Gita was spoken by Krishna for 45 minutes at a place called Jyotisar in Haryana just before the beginning of the war.

The Gita is called Raja Vidya - the king of all knowledge. If all the Vedic literatures are cows then Bhagavad – Gita is the milk of the cow i.e. it is the essence of all the Vedic literatures. Krishna is the milkman, Arjuna is the calf who drinks the milk, and the same milk has been made available to us in the written form by the great sage, Vyasa – Dev.

This beautiful literature has impacted the conscience of humankind for ages. The glories of the Gita stems from the fact that it transcends all the artificial boundaries of caste, creed, religions, race, nation, gender etc. Bhagavad – Gita is not just 5000 years old.  It has been in existence since the dawn of creation. Krishna informs Arjuna that “I instructed this imperishable science of yoga to the sun-god, Vivasvan, and Vivasvan instructed it to Manu, the father of mankind, and Manu in turn instructed it to Iksvaku” B.G. 4.1. Since the knowledge got lost by the influence of time so Krishna again spoke it to Arjuna for the benefit of all of us.

The Gita very vividly talks about Isavara (God), Jivatma (Soul), Kala (Time), Karma (actions) and Prakriti (Nature). It gives us spiritual intelligence to march towards the righteous path. The fundamental question of who am I, who is God, what is my relationship with Him and what is the purpose of this human life is very systematically, logically and pragmatically espoused.

The Gita wasn’t spoken for Hindus or Indians. In fact it is for the entire humanity. Great scholars throughout the ages have sought refuge of this pearl of wisdom when confronted with challenges. It has inspired the world fame leaders like Gandhi, Churchill, Einstein, Newton and several others.  After reading Bhagavad – Gita a Hindu will become a better Hindu, a Muslim a better Muslim, a Christian a better Christian and a Jew a better Jew.

Unfortunately many mundane academic – scholars presented their own interpretation of Bhagavad – gita, thus misleading the masses. The most important message of the Gita is to know Krishna and to return back to the spiritual world. Srila Prabhupada was very much concerned about the misinterpretation of Krishna’s original message. He therefore decided to translate the original Sanskrit text into English language and named the book as Bhagavad Gita As It Is. The word “As It Is” stresses the fact that the book is an unadulterated translation of the original Sanskrit text. In his translation there is meaning of each Sanskrit word, translation of entire verse and purport with various scriptural references like Srimad – Bhagavatam, Brahma Samhita, Isopanisad, Puranas etc. At present this is the largest selling translation of the Gita all over the world. The book has been further translated into more than 70 languages.  Bhagavad Gita As It Is has transformed the lives of millions of people all over the planet.

The main focus of the Gita is to make us understand that if we want to lead a happy life then we need to connect ourselves to Krishna. Krishna is not imposing his will but is trying to show us the right path. It’s like a father trying to persuade his unruly son to give up suicidal path and return back to his own home where he will get lots of love and care.

Krishna is too accommodative, every living being has different level of consciousness and so He suggests various paths through which one can perfect their life. He speaks about karma – yoga, jnana yoga and dharma yoga. Dharma – Yoga is the topmost but everyone may not be able to adhere to it. So Krishna also recommends Karma – Yoga and Jnana – Yoga

After hearing the topmost knowledge Arjuna reveals, “My dear Krishna, O infallible one, my illusion is now gone. I have regained my memory by Your mercy. I am now firm and free from doubt and am prepared to act according to Your instructions. “B.G. 18.73

Just like Arjuna we too need to promise to Krishna that “I am prepared to act according to Your instructions”. And Krishna guarantees “Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reactions. Do not fear.” Bhagavad – Gita 18.66

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Unseen can be known by seen

We often hear the argument that I believe in what I see and since I can’t see God so I don’t believe in Him. Do we just need to see to believe in something?  Let us see how we can prove the unseen from our daily life experience.  

We cannot think our life without water. But have we ever thought that how this most important necessity of our lives is so easily fulfilled.  Let us examine it. Ocean contains massive quantity of water. But the ocean water is salty so we cannot use it. Salt is the most simple and easily available preservative. Salt ensures that the millions of gallons of water remain preserved for millions of years in the ocean. Now at the right PVT (Pressure – Volume – Temperature) ocean water gets evaporated and forms a cloud. To ensure the exact PVT is so difficult. Scientists try hard to ensure it in the laboratory but they hardly succeed, this is why we still depend on natural rain and not any artificial rain. But in nature there is such a right balance. Is it just happening by chance or there is a supreme intelligence behind it?

Clouds have hundreds of litres of water within it and it is floating in the sky effortlessly. An airplane, a bird or any other object can easily pass through it without making any leakage in it. Is there anything in this world which is airplane proof? But the cloud is airplane proof.  Now when the time comes for the rain then all the water vapour present condenses into tiny droplets. The droplets are of such a size that when it falls then it does not even harm a tiny little grass. Now the scientist themselves are not aware that how it happens that when the water vapour starts condensing then the moment it becomes a small droplet it starts falling down. Just imagine if all the water vapour would have condensed and formed a huge droplet then what would have been our condition! And finally when we get the water then it is pure and not contaminated.

Now let us see at our home how we get water. Pipes are laid down, water is stored in huge water tanks, electric motors are used to pump the water and water is purified at the source and destination as the water gets putrefied during the entire process. Several engineers, mechanics, workers are involved for smooth running of this entire process. And then finally water reaches our homes.

Suppose that a villager comes to a city and opens a water tap. He sees that water starts flowing. He will be surprised and will think it is happening automatically because he does not see anyone around who is ensuring the water in the tap. But anyone having a little understanding of the process will be aware that there is a well placed mechanism involving several highly qualified brain who work hard to ensure the availability of water.

If the tap water needs such a sophisticated mechanism and dedicated persons for its smooth execution then how can we say that the huge quantity of rain which we get does not need a designer, controller and executioner? Our naive assumption that the entire mechanism of ocean storing water - > water getting evaporated by sun - > formation of water vapours -> formation of clouds -> condensation of water vapours -> formation of small droplets of water - > droplets falling as soon as it takes a particular size and having the exact PVT during the entire process is completely wrong. How can we say that all these are happening automatically?

Just like the villager we may not see the person who ensures this entire process but our not seeing does not mean that there is no one behind it. There is the controller, God, who controls all these and ensures that there is no scarcity of water for us.

(Reference: Lecture of H.G. Chaitanya Charan Prabhu)

Monday, December 17, 2012

Newton proves the existence of God to his atheistic friend.

Newton, the great scientist, was a firm believer in God. However one of his atheistic friends would not agree with him that there is a supreme designer behind everything. So one day Newton made a gyroscope – a replica of the solar system. When his friend came then he was struck with the preciseness of the model. He asked Newton - How did you make it. Newton replied – I did not do it. It came by chance. His friend laughed and said – Do you think that I am a fool that I will believe you? But Newton kept on insisting that it came by chance. Finally his atheistic friend got annoyed and said - If you don’t want to tell me then its fine but don’t think that I am a fool that I will believe your foolish argument. And then Newton replied – You say that the entire universe which has so much preciseness & is so beautiful came by chance then why do you have difficulty in believing that this tiny model could not come by chance. His atheistic friend was speechless and accepted that the universe has not come by chance but there is a hand of the Supreme designer behind this beautiful creation.

Krishna confirms this in Bhagavad – gita, “I am the source of all spiritual and material worlds. Everything emanates from Me” (Bhagavad – gita 10.8)

Sunday, December 16, 2012

20 kids murdered in Kindergarten School in USA.

Adam Lanza killed 26 including 20 kids and his mother in Newtown, Conn.,elementary school, USA on Dec 24. Is it just the tip of the iceberg? Are we preparing ourselves to witness more such mayhem? Such tragedies shake our conscience and force us to introspect. How can one stoop so low that he can mercilessly massacre innocent children and his own mother? While murdering them what he would have been thinking and feeling? What was the state of his mind at that moment when he would be seeing the dead bodies of little children?

As a society we call ourselves modern and also civilized.  In our pursuit for modernity we are trying to kill the most basic necessity of human existence i.e.  the “feelings” which we have for fellow humans. Most of us have become so self-centered that we do not care for anyone else.

Empty heart becomes a breeding ground for envy and hatred. We don’t find pleasure within and outside. Heart cries in agony and the eyes want to see tears in everyone’s eyes.  We give to the world what we have. Adam Lanza’s heart was devoid of love and gratitude and so he thought every other individual to be his enemy.

The tragedy would have never happened if he would have understood that every living being are his own brothers and sisters. We will love and care for others only if we understand that we are all children of one Supreme Father, God.

Srila Prabhupada explains, “All living beings are eternally connected by their common participation in the divine existence of God. When this existential oneness is obscured through atheism and agnosticism, people are not inclined to be merciful to one another; they cannot recognize their self-interest in promoting the welfare of other living beings. In fact, people are no longer even merciful to themselves: they systematically destroy themselves through liquor, drugs, tobacco, meat-eating, sexual promiscuity and whatever other cheap gratificatory processes are available to them” Srimad Bhagavatam 12.2.1.

So as a society we should strive to civilize ourselves by accepting and respecting the higher principles of lives as explained in the revealed scriptures. And as an individual we should endeavour to elevate our consciousness by connecting ourselves to the Absolute Truth.

Let us pray for the departed souls including that of the killer who later committed suicide and also pray that such incidents never ever happen in future.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Why different religion & different paths?

  • Suresh was advised by the doctor to smoke just 2 cigarettes per day.
  • Father told Arvind, if he scores pass marks in mathematics then he would gift him a bicycle.

Do the above examples show that the doctor is promoting smoking and the father discouraging his son from scoring 100% in maths?

Absolutely Not. Suresh was a chain smoker and Arvind an irresponsible student. So to bring them on right track they gave them a means by which they can improve themselves. Suresh does not have to smoke daily instead he should gradually give it up. And Arvind should start studying hard so that he can score very good marks in the long run.

We find that people in this world have different levels of consciousness.  Some are in mode of goodness (sattva - guna), some in passion (rajo – guna) and some in ignorance (tamo – guna).

God as the supreme father of all the living entities deals with each person as per his individual level of consciousness. This is why we find that in this world we have different religion and in Vedas also different processes have been suggested to the people based on their individual ability and capability.

For e.g. the meat eaters are allowed to sacrifice a goat. While sacrificing a goat they are supposed to utter the words that in this life I am killing you and in the next life you can kill me. But this is not the highest path.

When Jesus Chirst came to this world then he tried to preach the absolute truth but he was not able to impart complete knowledge because his followers at that time were mostly fishermen. This is why Jesus told that I want to tell you more but you would not understand them. Similarly when Prophet Mohammed preached then his followers were mostly tribesman who would not have the capability to understand the complete aspect of the world. However when Krishna spoke Bhagavad – gita then his student was Arjuna. Arjuna was a very learned scholar, a great warrior. He possessed all the qualification. This is why Krishna gave him the highest knowledge.  

“The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: My dear Arjuna, because you are never envious of Me, I shall impart to you this most confidential knowledge and realization, knowing which you shall be relieved of the miseries of material existence. (Bhagavad – Gita 9.1).”

God is one.  Everything starts from Him. We were happily living with Him in the spiritual world. However we decided to rebel against the wishes of the Lord and so we were sent to this world.

The purpose of all the religions of the world is to gradually elevate our consciousness so that we can develop love for God. One can develop love for God whether one is following Christianity, Islam or Hinduism; the only qualification required is that one should follow the scriptures as it is. One should not misinterpret it as per one’s own liking.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Have we become complaining machines?

  • I am not able to properly chant my rounds and even complete my rounds because I don’t get sufficient time.
  • My job is too tough.  Practicing devotional life is too difficult for me.
  • If only my spouse would have been more cooperative I would have practiced Krishna consciousness very sincerely.  
  • I don’t have sufficient money. I need to earn more to properly maintain my family. After I have accumulated sufficient wealth then I will sincerely absorb myself in Krishna’s service.
  • I don’t have association of sincere devotees.
  • What can I do? I am like that only. It is due to my past conditioning.

These and many more problems confront us daily while practicing devotional life.  Most of us have the philosophical understanding at least at the theoretical level that human life is very rare and it should be utilized to practice Krishna Consciousness. When we would have heard for the first time that our real home is the spiritual world where life is eternal and bliss is unlimited then we would have been overjoyed. Delighted at this pearl of wisdom we would have promised to ourselves, “I will dedicate my life for Krishna and ensure that this life would be my last life in this miserable material world”. However soon we fall prey to our old habits of finding excuses for not doing the right things.

One of the biggest problems of our life is our uncontrolled senses. 

Give spiritual sense to the senses

Our senses make us senseless because we don’t have the sense to utilize it for pleasing Krishna’s senses. Our senses always drag us in different directions because most of the time we nourish non – devotional desires. Mind will always give us some idea which will take us away from Krishna. We should not allow our mind to enslave us. Subduing senses with artificial means is impossible; senses can be subdued by engaging in devotional activities. For e.g. we should utilize our eyes in relishing the divine beauty of the Lord, ears should be utilized in hearing the glories of the Lord, tongue should be utilized in chanting the Hare Krishna Mahamantra and in tasting Krishna prasad. In fact, we should dovetail all our activities for the pleasure of the Lord. Soon we would find that our senses is completely spiritualized and is in Krishna’s control. Srila Prabhupada confirms, “But if one is engaged in Krishna consciousness, then, automatically, sense desires subside without extraneous efforts.” (Bhagavad – gita 2.55 Purport). Material world troubles us because we fail to befriend with Krishna’s wishes. Remember Krishna rewards us as per our wishes, “As all surrender unto Me, I reward them accordingly” (Bhagavad – gita 4.11).

Our great fortune

Devotional life is not so easy. But due to the mercy of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu practicing devotional life and achieving perfection has become so easy for all of us in this age of Kali-yuga. Srila Prabhupada taught us how we can practice devotion while being in this material world. He opened hundreds of temples and wrote several books so that we can take advantage of these facilities.

Although we have these facilities but still we prefer to suffer in this material world. We lack strong determination and firm dedication. We need to have the determination of the tiny little sparrow who challenged the mighty ocean.

Dare to dry the ocean

The ocean had stolen the eggs of the sparrow and the little bird wanted her eggs badly. She was determined to get it back. The little bird thundered, “Return my eggs else I will dry you”. Hearing this ocean started laughing. But the sparrow was resolute in her purpose. With her tiny little beak she took few drops of water from the ocean and threw it on the surface. She did it again and again. Everyone was amused; the ocean could not control his laughter. But nothing deterred the sparrow. She continued with her endeavour without thinking about success or failure. News spread everywhere about the resolve of an insignificant creature to dry the gigantic ocean. Finally her efforts attracted the attention of Garuda, the king of the birds and the carrier of Lord Vishnu. Garuda threatened the ocean and said, “Return her eggs immediately or else I will completely dry you now.” Seeing the huge size of Garuda, ocean became frightened and within no time retuned back the eggs of the bird.

Most of the time we accept defeat even before giving a try. We get discouraged thinking that this is an impossible task for me to accomplish. Material world is like a gigantic ocean. No matter what we do, our efforts will appear to be insignificant. We do not have the capacity to cross this ocean on our own. But if we are keen to cross the ocean then we need to have the determination of the little sparrow. In our day to day life we come across several difficult situations which appear to be a hindrance in our practice of Krishna consciousness. However instead of counting our problems and becoming a complaining machine, we should cry out for Krishna’s help. Krishna is ever eager to elevate us to the eternal spiritual world. For every material problem there is always a spiritual solution.

For e.g. most of us face problem in controlling our lust. We may try hard to control it but we often get knocked down by lusty desires. However, if we take proper guidance of senior devotees and follow their instructions then success is guaranteed. Our efforts will please the Lord and he will completely burn our uncontrolled lusty desires. Similarly, if we are not getting time for chanting or taste for chanting then still we should try our best to chant & complete our rounds. Lord tests our sincerity. We just need to endeavour to the best of our ability.  . Our determination and sincerity  pleases the Lord as the efforts of the sparrow pleased Garuda.

God helps those who help themselves

To remain happy in this world is very simple but to remain simple is very difficult. Material nature always allures us. We should not get bogged down by our material positions and possessions. We should practice Krishna consciousness in whatever circumstances we are in. “Whether one is without desire [the condition of the devotees], or is desirous of all fruitive results, or is after liberation, one should with all efforts try to worship the Supreme Personality of Godhead for complete perfection, culminating in Krishna consciousness”. Srimad – Bhagavatam 2.3.10.

Practicing devotional life does not mean that we have to do things perfectly. We just need to put in our best efforts. Lord Rama was pleased with the efforts of the tiny squirrel who was helping the monkey warriors during the construction of the bridge.

We have to take the decision. Do we want to rot in this world again or do we want to go back to the spiritual world where there is unlimited bliss? If yes, then instead of being a complaining machine and finding excuses for our spiritual lethargy, we should smartly utilize each moment of our life to get closer to Krishna.   Srila Prabhupada explains, “If anyone follows the principles with great determination, the Lord will surely help, for God helps those who help themselves.”  (Bhagavad – gita 6.24 Purport)

So, let us take a vow to dry the ocean of material existence and show our efforts by practicing devotional life with utmost sincerity keeping complete faith in Krishna’s mercy.