Friday, December 27, 2013

We lament, we fret, we hanker and we regret

The fire of unlimited desires constantly burns our heart. Desires always tease us and like an uncontrolled horse make us wild. Few of the most common desires which everybody nurtures is – desire for amassing wealth, owning a palatial bungalow, driving the most luxurious car, having a beautiful/handsome sexual partner, becoming famous, possessing the latest and the best gadgets and gizmos of this world, remaining always young, looking always attractive, being the cynosure of everyone’s eyes..… and so on. Our desire list is unending and incremental. Out of these lists some of our desires may get fulfilled but not all. And the once which will get fulfilled will also not last with us forever. Although we spend our life running behind our insatiable desires, it never brings any pleasure in our life. Our whimsical mind cheats us and gives us a false hope that happiness will be ours once all our desires get fulfilled. We lament, we fret, we hanker and we regret thinking “If only I would have achieved “it” I would have been happy today” or “If only I achieve “it” I will then become happy”. Chasing the desire is like running after a mirage in the desert. Krishna in Bhagavad Gita 2.70 warns that peace will elude those who run behind the desires: A person who is not disturbed by the incessant flow of desires — that enter like rivers into the ocean, which is ever being filled but is always still — can alone achieve peace, and not the man who strives to satisfy such desires.

So let us not become slave of our unending desires but instead control it. This will bring peace and pave the way for ultimate happiness. 

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Krishna and Christ: Are they same or different?

While being crucified, Jesus cried. But he did not cry for himself, instead he cried for those who were committing the gravest sin. Jesus was continuously praying to God to forgive those who were menacingly torturing and trying to kill him. Jesus, the son of God, had come to this world to spread the message of peace and love and to effect this change he was ready to sacrifice everything. This is the foremost quality of a holy man, for spreading God consciousness he is ready to brook any kinds of sufferings. History books take us through the lives of many such great personalities who endured great difficulties but never compromised with their principles.

Supreme Sacrifice

Prahlad was a little boy of 5 years when his own father mercilessly tried to kill him, Haridas Thakura was flogged at public places by the miscreants because he was asking people to lead a God centered life, Mirabai was poisoned because she longed to attain the love of God. Demoniac rulers like Hiranyakashipu, Ravana, Kamsa, Aurangzeb and many others always dealt brutally with men of virtuous qualities. What differentiates a holy man from a common man is the way one responds during a provoking and dangerous situation.  These saintly men and women remained composed during trying circumstances and fearlessly preached the message of God. Their impeccable integrity, unquestionable honesty, unflinching determination and above all deep love for God attracted the hearts of millions of people all over the world. Without their supreme sacrifice this world would have been bereft of love and warmth.  They come as a ray of hope and demonstrates that virtue always prevails over vice.

The venerable sages are sent by God in this world at regular intervals to salvage humanity.  They are direct representatives of God and they use all means to instill love of God in the hearts of all. God deputes them at different places as per time, place and circumstances. Jesus Christ was one such messenger of God. Jesus, through his exemplary life was able to transform the hearts of millions of people. He preached to the masses boldly and asked them to lead a virtuous life. All the noble souls have been advocating the same message since the dawn of creation. Vedic literatures, the sacred book of humanity, have also been vociferously asking all to lead a God conscious life.

Let us try to study the divine message of God as present in Vedas and the commandments of Jesus as recorded in Bible.

Vedas and Bible – Similarities or Dissimilarities?

If we closely examine the teachings of Jesus Christ and the wisdom championed by Vedas then we will be pleasantly surprised to find many similarities. Few of them are highlighted below:

  • Vedic literatures advocate chanting the names of God like the Hare Krishna Mahamantra on tulasi beads. Christians also chant the name of Christ on their rosary beads.
  • Jesus preached, “Thou shalt not kill”. Vedic books also lay great emphasis on nonviolence, in Gita, at several places, Krishna has advocated the path of nonviolence (Bhagavad Gita 10.4-5, 13.8, 16.1-3).
  • Jesus sermonized, “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself”. Similarly Krishna says that the characteristics of a pure devotee is that he loves all and hates none: “The humble sages, by virtue of true knowledge, see with equal vision a learned and gentle brahmana, a cow, an elephant, a dog and a dog-eater [outcaste]”. (Bhagavad Gita 5.18).
  • One of the important commandments of Bible is "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind". Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, in Bhagavad Gita also asks the seeker to constantly be engaged in devotion to Him: “Always think of Me, become My devotee, worship Me and offer your homage unto Me. Thus you will come to Me without fail.” (Bhagavad Gita 18.65).

Above example underlines that both Vedic literatures and Bible espouses the message of peace and love.  But sadly many have misinterpreted the pristine message of these holy books and so we see communal violence and evil in this world. For e.g. Jesus said, “Thou shalt not kill”. But many misinterpreted this message and said that Jesus meant that violence should not be committed only against human beings but animals can be killed and their flesh can be eaten. And they opened several abattoirs where thousands of animals are slaughtered daily. Such incorrect explanation of holy texts negates the true purpose of these sacred books. 

However if we honestly endeavour to comprehend the profound message of the holy books and start following it in toto then this world would become a better place as the writ of God will then prevail.  These scriptures are guiding light for human civilization and so should not be subjected to wrong interpretation and it should be followed “as it is”.


Krishna and Christ: Are they same or different?

God is one and he is supreme. Although he is one, he is addressed by several names like Krishna, Govinda, Gopinath, Vasudeva, Madan Mohan and so on. Lord Chaitanya has said: namnam akari bahu-dha nija-sarva-shaktis. “God has millions and millions of names, and because there is no difference between God’s name and Himself, each one of these names has the same potency as God.”Christ is another name of Krishna. Srila Prabhupada, an authority on Vedic literatures, explains that “Christ comes from the Greek word Christos, and Christos is the Greek version of the word Krsta. When an Indian person calls on Krishna, he often says “Krsta.” Krsta is a Sanskrit word meaning “the object of attraction.” So when we address God as “Christ,” “Krsta,” or “Krishna,” we indicate the same all-attractive Supreme Personality of Godhead. When Jesus said, “Our father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name,” that name of God was Krsta or Krishna. “Christ” is simply another way of saying “Krsta,” and “Krsta” is another way of pronouncing Krishna.”

If without any bias and motive we try to understand God and his sublime message then we would find that the Supreme Person, Our Father, is one. And every other persons of this world are our brothers and sisters. We would then shun violence, divorce hatred and live together as obedient children of God. Jesus Chirst wanted to spread this message of brotherhood for which he voluntarily suffered, and now it is upon us to fulfill his desire.

(Purushottam Kumar is a member of congregation at Iskcon Kolkata. He works in Tech Mahindra, Kolkata as “Associate Solution Designer”)


Friday, December 20, 2013

Journey Back Home

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Neither it can be seen or touched or felt but its existence is undeniable.  Just like the tsunami waves it does not have any emotions, it entraps and swallows all. The high and the mighty, the poor and the meek, men and women, every being of this world has to bow to it and have to surrender to its dictum. The “Time”, the mightiest of all is unstoppable and unconquerable. The might of “time” has always remained unchallenged and will remain so for ever. Time annihilates everything. “Time” underlines that in this world nothing is timeless but everything is temporary. This is why scholars, philosophers and wise sages since eons have been urging people to purge their insatiable worldly desires and focus on things which are permanent and indestructible.  Yudhisthira, an Indian king, who ruled about 5000 years ago once said that the most astonishing thing in this world is that people see others are dying every moment but they never ever believe that one day they too would die.
Corporal Obsession
Suppose we are presented a luxury car, say Rolls Royce, with a warning that it has a bomb in it which will definitely explode but when that will happen isn’t revealed. How many of us would be drawn with the charm of owning such a luxurious suicide car? The unequivocal response would be, “None of the two legged sane man would even look at it?” Aren’t we boasting about our IQ when we claim ourselves as astute?    Because all of us are the possessor of one such vehicle and are obsessed by it. That “vehicle” is our “body” and we go overboard to display our fondness for it. Empirical evidences and intellectual introspection do confirm that one day our body will decay and disappear but still we aren’t able to look beyond it. Without any qualms everyone agrees that in this world life is as temporary as a bubble in the ocean. But just like an ostrich who buries his head in the ground when in danger, we too shrug off any such discussion or contemplation pretending that our bubble would never burst.
We whip our imagination and make elaborate plans for our future. We spend time in amassing wealth, enticing opposite sex and struggle hard to carve a niche for ourselves in the society, in fact we try hard to enjoy as hard as possible. Indeed in corporate a famous idiom is oft quoted – Work hard and party hard. But as the whiff of delicate wind destroys the house of cards similarly the powerful time shatters all our dreams and desires.  Bhagavad Gita 2.18 too confirms the futility of the material body, “The material body of the indestructible, immeasurable and eternal living entity is sure to come to an end.” 
Most of us do not muster courage to think beyond this life because we do not have knowledge beyond this world. However, plethora of information is available in Vedic books which explain about a life where there are no miseries, no fear, no anxieties and most importantly no death. Vedic books are words of God so these are timeless and facts stated in it are eternal truths. These priceless literatures not just poignantly talks about the ephemeral body but it reveals the secret that we do not become extinct with the extinction of our body. It further explicates that we are not this body but we are souls.
The ageless soul
Just like a car starts functioning and moving when the driver sits inside the car and operates it, similarly our body becomes active once the soul enters the body. When the driver leaves, the car stops. Similarly when the soul leaves the body, the body becomes non-functional and drops dead. So, Krishna defines a wise person as those who lament neither for the living nor for the dead (B.G. 2.11).
In Gita 2.20 – 2.25, Krishna describes the attributes of the soul.
  • For soul there is neither birth nor death. Soul is unborn, eternal, ever – existing, immutable, everlasting, present everywhere, unchangeable, immovable, primeval and eternally the same.
  • Soul can never be cut to pieces by any weapon, nor burned by fire, nor moistened by water, nor withered by the wind.
  • As a person puts on new garments, giving up old ones, the soul similarly accepts new material bodies, giving up the old and useless one.
The above revelation should be a wake-up call for all of us. As we now know that the soul is timeless and is never annihilated, we should channelize all our energy to protect our eternal soul.   Vedic books inform us that once we were happily residing in the spiritual world but like a spoiled brat we refused to appreciate the love and warmth of God and other fellow spiritual citizens and so we were sent to this reformatory house (material world). In this material world also there are prisons where felons are confined till they are reformed.  We too are here because of our past misdeeds but have an opportunity to correct ourselves and reclaim the citizenship of the spiritual world. Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, isn’t like an insensitive jailer of this material world but in fact he is our father who is ever ready to bestow His love upon us, in fact He eagerly wants us to get reformed and return back to Him.
Soul’s Journey
As the uncontaminated rain water upon touching the ground gets sullied, similarly the soul which is intrinsically pure gets covered with impurities upon entering this material world.  Soul’s subtle covering viz. mind, intelligence and false ego decide the soul’s destiny. The first body which the soul gets after leaving the spiritual world is that of a human being.  Now in the human form of life the soul has the privilege to rectify the mistakes and become utterly pure, if it happens then the subtle coverings of the soul gets removed and it travels back to the spiritual world. Now if the person misuses his human form of life and instead of endeavoring for salvation resorts to sensual pleasure then he gets entangled in this world and continues to remain here till he becomes pure. The soul occupies new bodies based on the activities done in the present life and the desires nurtured. If a person has animalistic propensities like eating flesh of animals, overeating, indulging in illicit sex, remaining unclothed etc then he acquires a body of a beast, insect, reptile, bird or tree in next life.  But if one performs good deeds like giving charity, living a regulated life, is honest and kind hearted, never indulges in violence etc. then he gets promoted to heavenly planets where there is tremendous scope for corporal pleasure. But in the higher planets too one continues to remain in despondency because the fright of birth, old age, disease and death exists there too.
Returning to the spiritual world
As long as the soul flits around the material world it remains diseased. The only cure is to flush out the accumulated impurities of the heart which have made us spiritually blind and return back to God’s kingdom. God being benign takes trouble to redeem the lost souls. He personally comes to this world as Lord Krishna, Lord Rama, Lord Chaitanya or He sends His messengers like Narada Muni, Ramanujacharya, Madhavacharya, Adi Shankara, Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura, Srila Prabhupada to persuade us to return back to His kingdom. He has also left behind spiritual literatures like Bhagavad Gita, Srimad Bhagavatam, Isopanisad etc. which categorically explains about the importance of leading a God centered life. However we need self realized spiritual teachers to understand the sublime message echoed in these revealed literatures. 
The current period in which we are living is called as Kaliyuga, the age of downfall. The scriptures explain that during this era irreligious activities will become prominent and ungodly people would occupy centre stage.  It is also explained that people living in this period are less intelligent, fickle minded, unlucky and suffer from spiritual aboulia.  But the era has a great boon; people in this age are required to follow a very simple process for spiritual advancement. The process was revealed by Lord Chaitanya who appeared 500 years ago in the city of Mayapur, India.  He said that in this age chanting the names of God like the Hare Krishna Mahamantra is the most potent way to re-spiritualize our lives. Chanting cleanses the hearts of all the dust accumulated for millions of lifetimes; it also jogs our memory helping us to revive our original spiritual relationship with Krishna. It’s a very simple yet an extremely powerful process and anyone can do it.
While treading on the path of spirituality we need to follow few dos and don’ts to maximize our spiritual growth.
Some of the mandatory dos are:
  • Chanting diligently and hearing attentively the names of Krishna.
  • Associating with like minded serious devotees
  • Regularly reading Vedic books which will take us closer to Krishna
  • Offering food first to Krishna and then taking it as His mercy.
Some of the obligatory don’ts are:
  • Not indulging in any form of illicit sex including watching pornography and movies which provoke sexual fantasies. Controlling sex desire is of utmost importance for spiritual growth. Once the taste for devotional life sprouts sex desire automatically vanishes. This is best explained by Yamunacharya, a great sage, "Since I have been engaged in the transcendental loving service of Krishna, realizing ever-new pleasure in Him, whenever I think of sex pleasure, I spit at the thought, and my lips curl with distaste."
  • We should refrain from committing and encouraging violence. So we should not eat flesh of other animals including beasts, birds and fishes.
  • Along with this we should also not indulge in gambling and any form of intoxication.
Following above process will surely guarantee a bright future and help us to transcend this material world where there is danger at every step.  If a train catches fire then whether we are in a First Class AC coach or in general coach, sooner or later the fire will consume us. Similarly whether we are rich or poor, successful or unsuccessful, death will devour us one day. So, we should immediately take up the process of devotion to God lest it becomes too late. No doubt the mighty time in the form of death will apprehend us one day, and we should be ready for it. But by holding Krishna’s hand we can cross over to a world which is ours where everyone is eagerly waiting to embrace us. 


Friday, December 13, 2013

Gita Jayanti – the day when Krishna spoke Gita to Arjuna

Today is the day when Krishna spoke the pristine message of Gita to Arjuna about 5000 years ago. The setting was unprecedented – Kurushetra was swarmed with millions of mighty warriors of Pandavas and Kauravas who were ready to take the life or give the life. But just before the beginning of the war, Arjuna got completely bewildered. In quagmire he was ready to run away from the battle and live by begging. But Arjuna was fortunate because he had befriended Krishna. He beseeched Krishna to show him the right path, “Now I am confused about my duty and have lost all composure because of miserly weakness. In this condition I am asking You to tell me for certain what is best for me. Now I am Your disciple, and a soul surrendered unto You. Please instruct me”: Bhagavad Gita 2.7. Krishna being benign, immediately took the responsibility of educating Arjuna about the righteous and unrighteous path. He educates Arjuna about Isavara (God), Jivatma (Soul), Kala (Time), Karma (actions) and Prakriti (Nature). Krishna spoke about prescribed duties, capricious work and inaction. Prescribed duties are activities which one performs as enjoined in the Vedic books, capricious work are the activities which are not recommended in the scriptures and inaction is not doing ones duty at all. Krishna advised Arjuna to perform his prescribed duties without bothering about the outcome.

In Gita, Krishna also reveals his true identity of being the Supreme Personality of Godhead. “I am the source of all spiritual and material worlds. Everything emanates from Me. The wise who perfectly know this engage in My devotional service and worship Me with all their hearts.” (Bhagavad Gita 10.8). The purpose of all the Vedic literatures is to know Krishna - vedais ca sarvair aham eva vaidya - of all vedas Krishna is to be known. Krishna promises that those who come under his shelter he has nothing to fear, “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). After hearing the sublime message of Gita, Arjuna’s bewilderment goes away and he decides to act as per Krishna’s instruction, “Arjuna said: 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.” Bhagavad Gita 18.73.    

The Gita is the crest jewel of all Vedic literatures; it 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 Gita stems from the fact that it transcends all the artificial boundaries of caste, creed, religions, race, nation and gender. 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.

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 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.

Srila Prabhupada’s commentary on Bhagavad Gita which is published as “Bhagavad Gita As It Is” is the best selling edition of Bhagavad Gita in the whole world. More than 100 million copies of “Bhagavad Gita As It Is” has been sold and this book has been translated into more than 80 languages.

On this auspicious day of Gita Jayanti let us pray to Krishna to show us the right path so that we can know Him and love Him.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Size of the soul

The size of the soul is one ten - thousandth part of the tip of the hair. It means that if we take the tip of the hair and cut it into one ten - thousand parts then that extremely tiny part is the actual size of the soul.

Svetasvatara Upanisad (5.9) confirms the size of the soul:

balagra – sata – bhagasya

satadha kalpitasya ca

bhago jivah sa vijneyah

sa canantyaya kalpate

“When the upper point of a hair is divided into one hundred parts and again each of such parts is further divided into one hundred parts, each such part is the measurement of the dimension of the spirit soul.”

 Although the soul is extremely tiny but it is extraordinarily powerful.  The soul is situated within the region of the heart and is the source and cause of consciousness and all the energies. Whatever the pains and pleasures we experience is due to the presence of the soul in the body. When the soul leaves the body, the consciousness goes away and the body falls dead. Mundaka Upanisad (3.1.9) explains that the soul floats in five kinds of air (prana, apana, vyana,samana and udana). Although the soul is very pure but due to material contamination it is not able to exhibit its spiritual qualities. So, the soul has to be purified from these five types of material airs so that it can exhibit its original spiritual nature.

Size of the soul

The size of the soul is one ten - thousandth part of the tip of the hair. It means that if we take the tip of the hair and cut it into one ten - thousand parts then that extremely tiny part is the actual size of the soul.

Svetasvatara Upanisad (5.9) confirms the size of the soul:

balagra – sata – bhagasya

satadha kalpitasya ca

bhago jivah sa vijneyah

sa canantyaya kalpate

“When the upper point of a hair is divided into one hundred parts and again each of such parts is further divided into one hundred parts, each such part is the measurement of the dimension of the spirit soul.”

 Although the soul is extremely tiny but it is extraordinarily powerful.  The soul is situated within the region of the heart and is the source and cause of consciousness and all the energies. Whatever the pains and pleasures we experience is due to the presence of the soul in the body. When the soul leaves the body, the consciousness goes away and the body falls dead. Mundaka Upanisad (3.1.9) explains that the soul floats in five kinds of air (prana, apana, vyana,samana and udana). Although the soul is very pure but due to material contamination it is not able to exhibit its spiritual qualities. So, the soul has to be purified from these five types of material airs so that it can exhibit its original spiritual nature.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Diet for an unhealthy heart

Material Compassion, lamentation, hankering, tears and fear are the shields of an ignorant person to justify the weakness of their heart. Inadequate and improper foods make our body weak and prone to various bodily diseases. Similarly if we do not nourish our heart with a healthy diet then it becomes weak and prone to material diseases. The virus of lust, greed, pride, anger, envy, illusion and false ego easily attacks a diseased heart. Happiness gives way to helplessness and we constantly struggle to do the right thing in our life.  Sometimes such a person even succumbs to his lower self and indulges in despicable activities.

Heart gets nourished by a pure spiritual diet. Dollops of spiritual food should be fed to the heart at regular intervals; it will make our heart strong. Our intelligence and will-power will flourish in such a spiritual environment.   The list of spiritual foods necessary to nourish our hearts has been given by Prahlad Maharaj:  

Sravanam kirtanam visnoh

Smaranam pada – sevanam

Arcanam vandanam dasyam

Sakhyam atma – nivedanam

(Srimad Bhagavatam 7.5.23)

“Hearing and chanting the name of Lord Visnu, remembering and serving his lotus feet, offering worship and prayers to him, becoming his servant and best friend and surrendering everything to him are the most important spiritual activities”.

If we spiritualize our life as per the above process then we would never succumb to petty weakness of the heart. We will always be blissful and will carry out the prescribed duties of our life with dexterity.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Are there 33 crore gods or only “ONE GOD”

Some scholars masquerading as spiritualists opine that in Hinduism there are 33 crore gods and one can chose anyone and worship as per their liking. It’s just like a quack telling a diseased person to choose any medicine as per his taste and it will cure his disease. In the present age many such spiritual quacks swarm the world misguiding the people.
The various gods which are mentioned in the Vedic literatures are in fact demigods who have been given certain responsibilities by the Supreme Lord.  For e.g. the Sun- god, the Moon – god, Indra, Vayu, Agni etc have specific duties to carry out but they aren’t the supreme controller. And who is that Supreme Lord or bhagavan has been very logically explained by Parasara Muni, father of Vedavyas. He explains that the Supreme Lord has 6 attributes in totality (completeness) – He is (i) very beautiful, (ii) very powerful, (iii) very intelligent, (iv) very famous, (v) proprietor of everything and (vi) and very detached. No one can claim to possess all these qualities fully. Further description of that Supreme Lord has been given by Brahma in Brahma – Samhita - "There are many personalities possessing the qualities of Bhagavan, but Krishna is the supreme because none can excel Him. He is the Supreme Person, and His body is eternal, full of knowledge and bliss. He is the primeval Lord Govinda and the cause of all causes." (Brahma-Samhita 5.1). Srimad Bhagavatam 1.3.28 further explains "All the lists of the incarnations of Godhead submitted herewith are either plenary expansions or parts of the plenary expansions of the Supreme Godhead, but Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead Himself."  In the Govardhan pastime it was proved that Indra although the king of the heaven have certain jurisdiction and power but he gets his power from the Supreme God, Krishna, and he cannot work independently on his own.
So let us not get obfuscated by hearing about 33 crore gods. Vedic books and genuine Vedic scholars have established unequivocally that there is only one Supreme God and he is Krishna.  

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Solving life’s perplexities

In Bhagavad Gita 2.7, Arjuna says, “karpanya – dosopahata – svabhavah”, “Now I am confused about my duty and have lost all composure because of miserly weakness.”   Here the word “karpanya” has been used which means “miserliness”. A miser person is one who neither enjoys and do not even allow others to enjoy. Srila Prabhupada explains that a miser person do not take trouble to solve the problems of life. He remains engrossed in the material life and also keeps his family members entangled in the material conception of life. Such a life neither benefits him and nor does any good to his family members. Brhad – aranyaka Upanisad (3.8.10) explains, "He is a miserly man who does not solve the problems of life as a human and who thus quits this world like the cats and dogs, without understanding the science of self-realization."

Arjuna being very intelligent and compassionate was thinking whether the war will be of any benefit to the humanity or not and so he approached Krishna for guidance.  Krishna’s guidance removed Arjuna’s ignorance.  In confusion or in desperation we too can take Krishna’s help, our eternal friend and guide, by reading Bhagavad Gita reverentially. He will help us to get out of our miserly weakness and guide us to get out of material perplexities.

Monday, November 25, 2013

To attain peace and bliss serve Krishna

If we water the roots of a tree then automatically each and every parts of the tree gets nourished. We then do not have to separately water the branches, the leaves, the twigs, the flowers or the fruits. But if we neglect the root but only take care of the different parts of the tree then sooner or later the tree will dry.

Krishna is the root and we all are his offshoots, we exist only because of him. Just like watering the root of the tree nourishes each and every parts of the tree, similarly by serving Krishna our senses gets completely satisfied as we are Krishna’s parts and parcels. If we do not abide by this principle and try to serve our own senses neglecting Krishna then we would never feel satiated. Our heart will be like a barren ground where the flowers of happiness will never blossom. Srila Prabhupada explains that the central point of Bhagavad Gita is to make people realize that to achieve peace and happiness one should try to serve the senses of Krishna rather than serving their own senses. The formula to attain peace and bliss is to “serve Krishna”; it is panacea for all material dissatisfaction.

“A person in full consciousness of Me, knowing Me to be the ultimate beneficiary of all sacrifices and austerities, the Supreme Lord of all planets and demigods, and the benefactor and well-wisher of all living entities, attains peace from the pangs of material miseries.” (Bhagavad Gita 5.29)

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Uncontrolled lust caused downfall of Tarun Tejpal

In Bhagavad Gita 3.39, Krishna calls “lust as an eternal enemy” because it can never be satisfied and it always burns like fire.  If unchecked lust can be devastating, it can ruin a person’s life forever. Few days ago Tarun Tejpal was considered one of the most prominent journalists of India but today he is one of the most hated figures. He is charged with attempted rape and sexual assault.  Whether it is Bill Clinton or Dominique Strauss-Kahn, former chief of International Monetary Fund (IMF chief), lust addiction has caused the downfall of scores of reputed personalities. While counseling Yudhisthira, Vidura told that lust is one of the main reasons why people commit heinous crimes. History is filled with such examples - It was lust only which destroyed Ravana and which brought ignominy to Jayadratha.
This is why since ages sages have been voicing their opinion against lust addiction. The fire of lust should be doused before it becomes devastating. Lust can be checked by inculcating strong moral values and simultaneously cleansing our heart by sincerely chanting the holy names of the Lord like the Hare Krishna Mahamantra – Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare/Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare.
“There are three gates leading to this hell—lust, anger and greed. Every sane man should give these up, for they lead to the degradation of the soul”. (Bhagavad Gita 16.21).

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Self Control brings success

A person who remains undisturbed and unbewildered amidst internal and external chaos is called self controlled. One of the foremost reasons as why a person fails to accomplish his coveted goal is because of his inability to rein in on his emotions.  Just like a person possessed by alcohol becomes insane, similarly a person overpowered by his emotions behaves irrationally.  A person may possess the intelligence and may have abundant talents to succeed in life but if he does not have the ability to control his inner life then the chances of him doing some remarkable deeds will be very minimal. We should never get bogged down by our emotions but act as per the writ of the life transforming literatures like Bhagavad Gita and Srimad Bhagavatam. This world is full of duality – good and bad things will keep on happening in our life. Bu without getting too much disturbed by life’s negativity we should determinedly march ahead.

“A person who is not disturbed by the incessant flow of desires—that enter like rivers into the ocean, which is ever being filled but is always still—can alone achieve peace, and not the man who strives to satisfy such desires.” Bhagavad – Gita 2.70.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Envision the world through the prism of Gita

When confronted with adversities we look towards God and hope that he will change the situation as per our own liking. We expect God to do a magic in our life. But we see that in case of Arjuna the external situations and circumstances always remained the same. When Arjuna was utterly confused, he beseeched Krishna to show him the right path. “Now I am confused about my duty and have lost all composure because of miserly weakness. In this condition I am asking You to tell me for certain what is best for me. Now I am Your disciple, and a soul surrendered unto You. Please instruct me.” (Bhagavad Gita 2.7). Before Krishna spoke to him the message of Gita he was about to fight the war and after the Gita was spoken he still had to fight. Externally nothing changed. Krishna showed Arjuna the right path by purifying his consciousness.

Spirituality does not necessarily change the circumstances but it spiritualizes and cleanses our consciousness helping us to distinguish between righteous and unrighteous path. If we bring Krishna in our life then like Arjuna he will grant us a vision to envision the world through the prism of Gita which would help us to overcome any difficulties of our life.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Are we still spiritually blind?

The message and the messenger was the same but still two different people interpreted it in different ways. Arjuna heard the message of Gita from Krishna directly and Dhritarashtra heard from Sanjay, his assistant. After hearing the wisdom words Arjuna’s life completely got transformed, his all doubts got dispelled and he became ready to face the battle of life.  But in spite of hearing the astute words of Krishna, Dhritarashtra remained spiritually blind. His desire to enjoy the kingdom overpowered his intelligence. Dhritarashtra lost all his 100 sons and was responsible for the death of thousands of warriors.
Gita’s message is not just for Arjuna but for entire humanity. We need to introspect and find out if we are following the footsteps of Arjuna or of Dhritarashtra. Do we want to remain materially diseased like Dhritarashtra and keep on hankering for material positions and possessions at the cost of our spiritual life? The only reason why Arjuna emerged victorious was because he acted as per the wishes of Krishna. Are we listening to Krishna’s words or are we succumbing to our material lust, we need to ask ourselves.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Not just what we want, do what He wants

After elaborately explaining to Arjuna about the righteous and unrighteous activities, Krishna did not impose his will on Arjuna. Krishna gave Arjuna the option to choose – yathecchasi tatha kuru what you wish to do. But Krishna also advised Arjuna to deliberate on the knowledge which he had given before making any decision - vimrsyaitad asesena.

In our life while making any choices we should also deliberate fully on the pros and cons based on the teachings of books like Bhagavad Gita. Most of the times our decisions are sentimental or whimsical which provides only temporary benefit. But if we want permanent benefit (shreyas) then we need to follow the footsteps of Arjuna. Arjuna emerged victorious because he finally did what Krishna wanted him to do - karisye vacanam tava - and not what he wanted to do.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Weapons to face the challenges

Our consciousness shapes our vision. External world may not change for us or will never change for us but if we purify our consciousness then the way we see the world will drastically change. Just before the Mahabharata war Arjuna was in a miserable situation failing to understand the righteous and unrighteous path.  But Krishna’s guidance completely transformed his life. The situation for Arjuna remained the same. He had to fight the war; he had to fight against his great grandfather Bhisma, guru Drona and his cousin brothers. But Krishna’s timely intervention dispelled all his ignorance. Arjuna’s consciousness changed and he became ready to battle against mammoth army of Kaurava.

If we imbibe the true spirit of Gita then we won’t get bewildered when we encounter difficulties. Gita’s wisdom nourishes intelligence, strengthens will power and imparts discriminatory power. Armed with these weapons we can face the challenges of life with vigour.

Saturday, October 19, 2013


God Retires! A presumptuous headline beamed through all the major dailies of India in Oct. The occasion was the retirement of Sachin Tendulkar, one of the most celebrated cricketers of modern times. His fans eulogized him: “Cricket is my religion and Sachin is my God”.

It showcases the illiteracy which has penetrated in Indian society about God and religion. It seems that Indians have forgotten the meaning of God and religion. Considered to be the holiest place on earth; people from all over the world throng to India for spiritual emancipation. India is a country where God walked and where sages and seers still drench themselves in spiritual fervour.

But sadly people today have a much skewed understanding about God. In Sanskrit God means parameshvara i.e. the supreme controller. God is the best in all aspects – he is the most beautiful, the most intelligent, the most magnanimous, the strongest, the most powerful, he is the proprietor of everything. No one can have all these qualities at a time or any of these qualities in full. Few mortals for short span of time may partially reflect one of these qualities.

Vedic books give detailed description of “Who is God”.  Here are some examples: 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 Himself declares explicitly 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).

So let us stop demeaning God by calling anyone as God. God is Always God & God Never Retires.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Janmashtami celebration at ISKCON, Kolkata

Janmashtami, the appearance day of Lord Krishna, was celebrated at ISKCON Kolkata on 28th August (Wednesday), 2013.  Dance, Drama, Abhishek, Kirtan, Krishna Katha were the major highlights of the festival. Since, morning large numbers of people started assembling in the temple hall to take beautiful darshan of the Lord.  The program started at 4:30 a.m. with Mangala Arati in which everyone enthusiastically participated.   The temple was beautifully decorated. Lord Krishna was dressed with beautiful garments, garlands, colourful flowers, jewels and ornaments.  Many school children participated in cultural programs based on Krishna’s pastime.

A grand Abhishek of the Lord was performed using milk, honey, water and other ingredients. A melodious kirtan accompanied the Abhishek, devotees joyful danced and melodiously sang the Hare Krishna Mahamantra, “HARE KRISHNA HARE KRISHNA KRISHNA KRISHNA HARE HARE HARE RAMA HARE RAMA RAMA RAMA HARE HARE”.

Krishna’s appearance brings auspiciousness in our lives. If we take shelter of Krishna then all our miseries will wither away.  Arjuna was in the midst of a ghastly warfare, he was fighting unconquerable warriors like Bhisma, Drona and Karna but still he was victorious because Lord Krishna was always with him.  If we too want to be victorious, if we too desire to sail smoothly in this turbulent ocean of material world then like Arjuna we should also take shelter of Krishna.   Krishna will then protect us from all the dangers and our lives will be full of bliss and ecstasy.

On 29th August, the 117th birth anniversary of Srila Prabhupada, the founder acharya of Iskcon, was celebrated with great fanfare. Srila Prabhupada was born next day after Janmashtami, the Nandotsav day.   

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Let us meet Krishna at least on his birthday

Krishna ran desperately the moment he got the news that his childhood friend Sudama had come to meet him. Krishna was the emperor of Dwarka, he lived in a royal palace and was lovingly served by several of his associates.  But still he remembered his old friend who was living in penury and did not have even proper clothes to cover his body. But Krishna is hardly impressed by a person’s material position and possessions. For Krishna everyone is his own friend. Brihad Bhagavatam narrates the story of Gopa Kumar who when returned to the spiritual world was lovingly embraced by Krishna. Krishna told Gopa Kumar that “I have been missing you since the time you left me. I was eagerly waiting for you to return back to the spiritual world. This is your original home and not the material world. I am so happy that you have come back.”

Krishna is waiting for each of us.  Tomorrow is Janmastami, it is the day when Krishna appeared in this world. One of the most important reasons for Krishna to appear is to please his devotees and give us a glimpse of the life of the spiritual world. Krishna’s advent brought great joy and happiness in the lives of the devotees. Each and every brajvasis enthusiastically celebrated his appearance. Krishna is the Supreme Lord; all the Vedic literatures confirm this. Isvarah parama 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” (Bhagavatam 1.3.38). "Devaki’s son [Krishna] is the Supreme Lord" [Narayan Upanisad (4)].  But still for our sake he comes to this world.

How much eagerness we have to celebrate our birthday or the birthday of our loved ones. We take off on that day and make elaborate arrangements. Krishna is also very near to us. We exist because of him and he provides all the necessities of our life. All our near and dear ones are his gift to us. So, at least on his birthday we can keep aside all our unending material responsibilities and celebrate his birthday. We can visit temples and offer our prayers to him. We can chant the Hare Krishna Mahamantra “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare /Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare”. Krishna manifests in this world in the deity form and also he is present in his name. By taking darshan of the deities and by chanting the Hare Krishna Mahamantra we can personally meet him.

Sudama being poor just carried chipped rice with him but Krishna very much liked it. For few morsels of chipped rice Krishna provided inexplicable opulence to Sudama.  Nothing we do for Krishna ever goes in vain. “In this endeavor there is no loss or diminution, and a little advancement on this path can protect one from the most dangerous type of fear. (Bhagavad – Gita 2.40). So tomorrow is an opportunity for us to express our love to Krishna and let us not miss this opportunity.  

Monday, August 26, 2013

Vedas are infallible

The Vedas are words of God. Isopanisad describes God as purnam (perfectly complete). So the knowledge imparted by Vedic literatures is perfect and complete.  Vedic knowledge is called sabda – pramana. Another name of Vedas is sruti i.e. knowledge acquired by hearing. Vedic knowledge is not experimental knowledge.

The present education system only teaches us how we can enjoy this material world more and more. It does not teach us - Who we are? Why are we suffering? Where were we before this life? What will be our destination after death? The present education system also does not tell us that why a child takes birth in the family of a rich person and why someone takes birth in the house of a beggar.  It also does not give any solution to the problems of birth, old age, disease and death.

However Vedas explain all these things in great details.  The first aphorism in the Vedanta-sutra is athato brahma jijnasa - therefore inquire for the absolute truth.  Vedas teach us that as a soul we are sac- cid – ananda, eternal, blissful and full of knowledge. Vedas answer the basic questions of human life – Who am I? What is the purpose of my life? Why am I suffering? What is my final destination?  This priceless literature explains that this world where we are living now is a temporary place and is full of suffering - dukhalayam asasvatam (Bhagavad – Gita 8.15). And our salvation lies in understanding the fact that we are parts and parcels of Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. We should develop love for Krishna and return back to the spiritual world which is our original home and where life is eternal and bliss is unlimited.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Why do people rape?

The increase of rape cases in India has shaken the conscience of every right thinking Indians. People were outraged when in December 2012, a girl was gang raped and killed in Delhi. Again the same horrific incident has recurred in Mumbai when a woman photojournalist was gang raped. After the Delhi gang rape episode there were widespread protests and there were demand for tougher rape laws. It is not that after the Delhi episode there were no rape cases. The only thing is that when such horrendous incidents occurs in metropolitan cities then it hogs the limelight and if it happens in small cities and villages then it goes unnoticed. But why is it that the rape cases have become so common in India. And in spite of stringent laws and social ostracization of the rapists the situation is deteriorating. The only solution which the government, the people & the media think - enact more stringent laws.  But sadly the fear of punishment has not bore any results so far.  

Aggravating the disease of lust

Bhagavad – Gita 16.21 describes “Lust, anger and greed as three gates which leads to hell”. Vidura once told Yudhisthira that uncontrolled lust is one of the main reasons as why people commit crimes. But unfortunately the present day society is trying its best to aggravate the disease of lust. Obscenity has become so common – in movies, TV serials, advertisements, billboards, movie songs etc. Some of the leading newspapers and magazines are stuffed with semi - nude pictures of women as it helps to increase circulation. Internet and mobile pornography is at its peak.  Even in IPL, semi clad cheerleaders were brought in to entice the audience. Women are portrayed as an object meant for gratifying the senses.  Today the only cheapest commodity available in India is condoms; it is even cheaper than the food grains. “You can have unlimited sex with unlimited partners but just use condoms”.  If we promote, propagate and advertise lustful tendencies so rampantly then how can we expect that the incidents of rape do not occur?

Campaign against lust addiction

If we seriously want that these horrific incidents do not get repeated then there should be laws to check vulgarity and obscenity. As we campaign against drug addiction similarly we should campaign against lust addiction.  Sadly today’s educational institution do not teach pupil to control their lusty propensities.  In schools and colleges emphasis should be given to impart ethical values to students. Rape crimes can be curbed only by instilling values and by providing spiritual knowledge to each and every individual. We should imbibe the teachings of India’s timeless Vedic literatures. These priceless literatures have always taught people to rise above bodily conception of life and look women not as an object of lust but as a soul who are parts and parcel of God. Srila Prabhupada one of the foremost saints of the modern era explains in “Bhagavad Gita As It Is” 4.1 purport “The kings of all planets are especially meant for the protection of the inhabitants, and therefore the royal order should understand the science of Bhagavad-gita in order to be able to rule the citizens and protect them from material bondage to lust.”

Best solution to stop rape crimes

Making stringent laws and punishing the rapists may help us to a certain extent but it won’t be able to eliminate rape crimes. Srila Prabhupada provides a very logical solution to all these problems, “The only way to permanently change the criminal habit is to change the heart of the criminal. As you well know, many thieves are arrested numerous times and put into jail. Although they know that if they commit theft they will go to jail, still they are forced to steal, because of their unclean hearts. Therefore without cleansing the heart of the criminal, you cannot stop crime simply by more stringent law enforcement. The thief and the murderer already know the law, yet they still commit violent crimes, due to their unclean hearts.”

If we are really sincere about eradicating the menace of rape from the society then we will have to go back to our roots.  Vedas are our roots. Vedic literatures like Bhagavad – Gita, Srimad Bhagavatam, Upanisads etc teaches us to lead a God – centered life. In a God – centered society, a person cultivates genuine love for God which cleanses his heart of lusty desires.  People then do not just identify each others as men and women but understands that both men and women are children of God. And so a natural and genuine respect develops for each other. In such a society the horrific incidents of rape would never occur.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Silence unlocks the key to happiness

Silence has always been in eulogized.  Krsnadasa Kaviraja Goswami, a renowned saint, has said that silence is one of the 26 qualities of a devotee of the Lord.  Many people keep maun brat – on a specific day they do not speak anything.  This can help one to control their tongue but what about the mind. We just do not speak through our tongue but we also speak through our minds. Our mind is a chatter box. There is not even a single moment when we can say that our mind remains calm and silent. Mentally we keep on talking to ourselves, we keep on contemplating on things like money, job, family, friends, politics, opposite sex, cricket match and so on. There are some meditation schools who teach to mediate on something null & void. According to them this would help to silence our mind. But this is practically impossible. As a soul we are ananda - mayo bhayasat - pleasure seeking - and mediating on void will not provide us any pleasure.  It will make our life boring and later frustrating.

Real silence is to stop contemplating & stop speaking about unnecessary subject matters which disturbs our mind. Instead of this we should contemplate on & speaking about spiritual topics which take us closer to God.  Prahlad Maharaj has listed sravanam and kirtanam as the two processes of devotional service. Sravanam means to hear about Krishna and kirtanam means to always speak about Krishna. These two processes will take us closer to God.  So, instead of wasting our precious time and energy thinking and speaking about unworthy subject matters let us utilize each moment of our life thinking and speaking about Krishna.  Thinking about Krishna also gives us lots of pleasure. It opens the door for everlasting happiness.  


Thursday, August 22, 2013

Krishna opens the door for a blissful and eternal life

Surrender to Krishna is a beautiful experience and the most wonderful concept in all of creation. It means to genuinely offer our love to Him. Those who are unwilling to surrender to Krishna with love have to surrender to Him at the time of death. Old age, disease and death are the weapons by which powerful time strangulates us. All great emperors of the world — Alexander, Napolean, Hitler, Aurangzeb — have been swept away into oblivion by the force of time. To the degree we consider ourselves the controller and proprietor of things of this world, to that degree we suffer when we face Krishna in the form of death. That surrender is too painful and immensely horrible.
On the other hand, if we understand our eternal position as the servant of Krishna and humbly accept it, all our miseries will cease to exist. Krishna immediately takes the devotee under His tutelage.

Surrendering to Krishna, our original father, does not bring us any dishonor. Our surrender to Krishna is like a patient submitting himself to a doctor for treatment or a child taking shelter of his mother. A patient agrees to abide by the prescription of the doctor for his own benefit; a child experiences love and care on the lap of his mother. Krishna’s clarion call to surrender is for our salvation.
Not everyone surrenders; Krishna understands this: “After many births and deaths, he who is actually in knowledge surrenders unto Me, knowing Me to be the cause of all causes and all that is. Such a great soul is very rare.” (Bhagavad - Gita7.19) If we are not with Krishna, we are undoubtedly with maya, Krishna’s material illusory energy. So either to Krishna or to His material energy, we must surrender nevertheless. In fact every day, knowingly or unknowingly, we surrender to the dictum of our mind and senses, to our insatiable desires, to the demands of our bodies, to our lower self, to so many people in our daily life.

Arjuna was in acute anxiety before the Mahabharata war began, but after hearing Krishna's message he completely surrendered to Krishna and thus paved the way for his glorious victory.  Arjuna said: “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.” (Bhagavad - Gita18.73). Like Arjuna, there are many examples in history who achieved incredible fame and glory just by following Krishna’s instructions and the instructions of His devotees. By surrendering to Krishna success is certain in our life; there will be no room for anxieties and miseries.
Surrendering to Krishna opens the door for a blissful and eternal life. “For those who have accepted the boat of the lotus feet of the Lord, who is the shelter of the cosmic manifestation and is famous as Murari, the enemy of the Mura demon, the ocean of the material world is like the water contained in a calf's hoof-print. Their goal is param padam, Vaikuëöha, the place where there are no material miseries, not the place where there is danger at every step." (Srimad Bhagavatam10.14.58)”

(Extract of my article published in Back to Godhead magazine of Iskcon “Surrender out of love”)

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Spirituality is not sentimental

Spirituality should not be based on sentiments but should be based on philosophical understanding. Many people carry a wrong notion that merely by visiting holy places or by donating money in temples they will come closer to God. But the fact lies elsewhere. The most important aspect of devotional life is purification of heart because with our impure hearts we won’t be able to understand God. We sometimes witness unsavory scenes in holy places and within the premises of the temples because many people do not understand even the basic tenets of devotional life.  The holy places like Vrindavan, Mayapur, Jagannath Puri are abodes of God but we do not have access to it because these places are covered by Yogamaya, Krishna’s internal potency. So, although we may go there but we may not experience divine bliss if we do not have the right attitude and loving devotion for Lord.

I remember one of my acquaintances was about to visit Jagannath Puri. But a day before he was in anxiety because he was not able to find his favourite liquor brand which he wished to carry to Puri. Utterly shocked I asked that why he wants to carry liquor to Puri, he replied that in morning he will visit temple and offer worship and later in the day he will enjoy near the beach with his friends and family members, and so liquor was important.

People develop such mentality because they do not understand the real meaning of the word devotion. They do not understand the purpose of visiting temples and holy places.  It is very much required for us to be well equipped with spiritual knowledge if we really want to understand God and our relationship with God.  This is why saintly people have always advised us to hear more about God from an advanced devotee. And when we visit any spiritual place then we should mostly do it in the association of the devotees where we will get abundant opportunity to get a philosophical understanding about God.  Historically also we see that when Maharaj Parikshit was cursed to death then he preferred hearing about Krishna from Sukhadeva Goswami, son of Veda – Vyas and a highly realized soul. Similarly, when Vidura went for pilgrimage then he had lots of philosophical discussion with sage Maitreyi. Srila Prabhupada explains “devotional service begins by one’s hearing about the Lord” (Bhagavad Gita 18.55 purport).  So we should always try to understand philosophically about God and how we can re-establish our relationship with him. This would ensure that our devotion for God does not become sentimental but instead it appears sensible.