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.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Jhulan Yatra

(Pic: Iskcon Kolkata)

Jhulan Yatra or the swing festival is being celebrated with great enthusiasm.  Replica of the forest groves of Vrindavan has been created within the temple. The swing and the arena where the festival is being celebrated have been beautifully decorated with colourful flowers and leaves.  A magnificent swing bedecked with jewels is hung from the branches of trees with ropes. In such a splendid atmosphere Krishna and Radharani blissfully swings.

The sight of Krishna and Radharani swinging gives great joy to the devotees.  Devotees swing the Lord of their heart with great pleasure and throughout the festival they blissfully dance and joyfully sing the Hare Krishna Mahamantra, Jaya Radhe Jaya Krishna Jaya Vrindavan, Jaya Radhe, Jaya Jaya Madhava dayite and other devotional songs for the pleasure of the divine couple. 

Jhulan Yatra or the swing festival goes on eternally in the spiritual world.  The Jhulan Yatra pastime occurred in the forest groves of Vrindavan. Even the residents of the heavenly planets like Siddhas, Vidyadharas, Caranas, Kinnaras arrived on their celestial planes joyfully playing their musical instruments to witness the beautiful event. This wonderful pastime of the Lord with his consort Radharani and the Gopis of Vrindavan brought great joy to everyone.  This pastime is still celebrated in Vrindavan and in several other parts of the world by the devotees of Krishna.

In “Ananda Vrindavana Champu”, Kavi Karnapura explains: “The swing festival is the perfect object of meditation for those desiring a taste of devotion”. Devotees very eagerly wait for this festival; when the festival commemorates they make a magnificent jhulan (swing) for Krishna and Radharani.

This year the festival will be celebrated from 17th Aug to 21st Aug.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Opportunity knocks at the door once – so grab it!

Those who bring Krishna in their lives invite auspiciousness in their lives. In Srimad Bhagavatam 1.5.17 it is described, “If someone gives up all material prospects and takes complete shelter of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, there is no loss or degradation in any way.” Krishna loves everyone equally but he is more favorably inclined towards those who are his devotees. “Those who follow this imperishable path of devotional service and who completely engage themselves with faith, making Me the supreme goal, are very, very dear to Me.” (Bhagavad – Gita 12.20). We have a wonderful opportunity to bring auspiciousness in our lives. But sometimes due to our laziness or due to the influence of our friends or family members we hesitate to take up devotional life.  It is said that opportunity knocks at the door once and we should grab it with both hands. In future whether we will again get the opportunity or not we don’t know. In devotional life there is always again and a guarantee of success. “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)

Monday, August 5, 2013

Giving up bad habits is not difficult

For many, giving up old bad habits appears to be impossible. Subconsciously we convince ourselves that it is impossible for me to give up my habits. “I am like that only”, we often fret. It is true that changing old habits isn’t so easy. And so we compromise and start seeking pleasure or relief by indulging in those activities. The more we indulge in bad habits the more that habit gets reinforced in our life. A smoker knows that smoking is injurious to health but he is so accustomed to smoking that he feels that he cannot live without smoking, and also convinces himself that smoking provides relief and relaxes his mind. Thus we get caught in a vicious cycle of bad habits.  

Suppose that an unemployed person gets a job of Rs 10000 and if someone offers him a new job of Rs 5000 then will he accept it. Definetely not. But if someone offers him a job of Rs 50, 000 then the person will happily give up his Rs 10000 job for Rs 50000 job. Similarly, we are not ready to give up our old bad habits because we do not find anything more pleasurable than it.   Our soul longs for happiness but we starve our soul of joy. As a part and parcel of the Lord we are ananda-mayo 'bhyasat i.e. we are full of consciousness and we always hanker for eternal pleasure. And the best form of happiness which can satiate our heart is the transcendental pleasure. The blissful heart then does seek pleasure in any wrong activities.  Once we taste that nectarine joy then we will never forego it. Chanting the names of God like the Hare Krishna Mahamantra can provide us transcendental joy.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Give up the association of non devotees

We may be desirous to tread the right path and our heart may long to get closer to God but still we may find that our endeavours are not bringing desired results. Our old bad habits crop up anytime or we may not find sufficient enthusiasm to sustain our devotional desire.

Achieving the love of God isn’t difficult as most of us presume. For e.g. for a child achieving the affection of father is very simple. The child just needs to reciprocate with the father’s love. Similarly Krishna is eagerly waiting for us; if we just take one step towards him then he will take hundreds of steps towards us.

To develop deep attachment for God we need to get attached to those who are very much attached to Lord. This is one of the most important methods of inculcating love for God. An iron put in fire acquires fiery quality after a while; similarly if we remain in the association of devotees then we eventually develop love for God.

Srila Narottama Dasa Thakura has advised that one should always live in the association of those who are sincerely practicing devotional life and following the footsteps of previous acharyas – tadera carana sevi bhakta – sane vasa. Lord Chaitanya says, asat – sanga – tyaga, - ei vaisnava acarya: Characteristically, a Vaisanava is one who gives up the association of worldly people or nondevotees. (Chaitanya Charitamrita. Madhaya 22.87).

So as a seeker or as a beginner we should always try to remain in association of devotees of the Lord.  And if at present we are not having the association of devotees then we should sincerely pray to Lord to provide us the association of His pure devotees. Lord will definitely reciprocate with our desire and put us in the company of sincere souls.



Saturday, August 3, 2013

Punished for doing the duty

An IAS officer of Uttar Pradesh,India, Durga Shakti Nagpal, has been suspended by the UP government. Her crime is that she did her constitutional duty fearlessly without getting intimidated by the government.  This phenomenon is not just confined to UP but it is widespread.  Not just the politicians but even the bureaucrats need to be equally blamed for this sorry state of affairs. Today politicians can go to any extent to grab and retain the power and simultaneously there are bureaucrats who are ready to do anything to please their political bosses for good posting and promotion.  
Today we lack a leader who is selfless and have a strong moral value. After a train accident, Lal Bahadur Shastri, resigned from the post of railway minster on moral grounds although he was not directly responsible for it. But today we hardly find a single leader who can stand up to that standard. Today the politicians very well know that they can divide the people on the basis of caste and religion. The divide and rule policy used by the Britishers have been mastered by the political parties of India. Durga Shakti is an IAS officer so her issue grabbed the limelight. But there are hundreds and thousands of Durga Shaktis in India who are constantly being silenced by powerful politicians, mafias & corrupt bureaucrats.
These incidents are just the tip of an iceberg; we should be ready for many such unsavoury incidents if we do not wake up.  Today we Indians can be very easily purchased on the basis of caste and religion.  And when these elected representatives start biting us then we start shouting. But in spite of knowing the credentials of the politicians we have selected them, then why today we are complaining. Are we not equally responsible for the mess which the country is going through? Today’s leaders are being selected not based on their values or principles but on the basis of their muscle and money power & on the basis of their caste and religion.
One of the reasons why Bhagavad Gita was spoken by Krishna to Arjuna was because Krishna wanted to re-establish the raj – rishi paramapara - the rulers should be the epitome of virtues and should never deviate from the scriptural principles.  So if we want to have a bright future for India then we should select a leader who can live up to the standards of Arjuna.

Spiritualize the mind

Our mind gets clogged because we stuff it with unproductive substance. We have the very famous GIGO principle – Garbage in Garbage Out. What goes inside will eventually come out. If we expose a computer to a virus prone program then eventually the computer will start malfunctioning. Similarly, if we   infest our mind with hazardous impressions then eventually our life will be in a mess. A disturbed and agitated mind brings chaos to personal and professional life.  Whatever we see, hear or speak gets permanently stored in our mind. Our mind is the storehouse of all past, present and future experiences. If one is too much prone to watch vulgar or violent movies or remains in association of those who are pessimists then sooner or later one’s mind gets dominated by vulgar, violent or pessimistic thoughts.  So it is imperative that we feed our mind with right ingredients – positive and healthy thoughts.

But subduing mind is indeed a Herculean task.  Arjuna, the mighty warrior, who had the strength to conquer the whole world, expresses his inability to tame the mind. Krishna agrees with Arjuna that controlling mind is indeed very difficult but also assures Arjuna that it is not impossible. With practice and detachment we can gradually win our mind. “Lord Sri Krishna said: O mighty-armed son of Kunti, it is undoubtedly very difficult to curb the restless mind, but it is possible by suitable practice and by detachment”. (Bhagavad – Gita 6.35)

Detachment & Practice

Whenever our mind wanders we need to bring it back. The exercise would be tiring and sometimes we may even fail. But if we persevere then gradually we would be able to restrain our mind to a great extent. A jockey, while controlling his horse, neither applies too much force nor gives excessive freedom to the horse. We too will have to slowly restrain and restrict our mind. But all these efforts will go in vain if the mind does not get any positive engagements to focus on. We may apply force and bring back our mind but after bringing back we need to provide some object on which mind can focus. As we all know that we cannot empty the mind. So the only way to effectively subdue the mind is by focusing it on something positive.

Our mind focuses on those objects where it assumes that it will get pleasure. So, once we provide a higher taste to the mind then automatically it will start focusing on the object where it derives maximum pleasure. Transcendental pleasure is the highest of all the pleasures. And the practice of Krishna consciousness will open the gateway of transcendental pleasure. Hearing and chanting the names of Krishna is the most effective way to get detached from wrong thoughts and get attached to devotional thoughts.

We also need to regularly scan our mind to diagnose if there are any impurities still clogging our mind. And simultaneously we need to meticulously refrain our mind from getting allured by materialistic thoughts. The success will not happen overnight. We need to diligently endeavor for detachment from sense gratification and attachment to devotional life.

Friday, August 2, 2013

In spite of 2 heart attacks….he transformed the lives of millions

Exam is essential for a student. It tests his sincerity as well as preparedness. In our devotional journey we too are examined by Krishna. On our way, we may encounter few hurdles; the hurdles are just a test put for us by Krishna to check our commitment and eagerness for devotional life. Sometimes the hurdle may appear to be like a vast ocean but if we remain firm and continue practicing Krishna Consciousness with enthusiasm then the ocean will become a small puddle of water for us.

Krishna provides a glimpse of his mercy through the life of his pure devotees. Srila Prabhupada’s life is an example for us to learn this principle. His spiritual master, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura, had instructed him to go to the west and preach Krishna Consciousness to the western people. At that time he was just 26 years old.  Throughout his life he struggled hard to preach Krishna Consciousness in India but within his heart he always wanted to fulfill the wish of his spiritual master. After a lot of struggle he got an opportunity to travel to the west on a cargo ship. By this time he was about 70 years old but his zest to preach Krishna consciousness in the west was still there. He was having just Rs. 40, no assurance of permanent place to stay, no close relatives to take care, no guarantee of food. He had with him the priceless position - a trunk load of spiritual books.  On the ship he suffered from seasickness, dizziness and loss of appetite. And then he suffered 2 massive heart attacks, the third one would have killed him. But his resolve never waned. On the night of the 2nd heart attack he saw Krishna in his dream. Krishna was rowing the boat and assured him not to worry because he will take care of him.  And henceforth the journey passed peacefully.

Srila Prabhupada transformed the lives of millions of people all over the world.

·         During a short span of 12 years he opened 108 temples all over the world.

·         He wrote and translated around 80 books which include translation of 60 volumes of classic Vedic literatures.  

·         He established ISKCON which has today more than 600 centres all over the world.

·         He founded BBT (Bhaktivedanta Book Trust) which is today the world’s largest publisher of book on Vaisnava philosophy.

·         He introduced Rath Yatra in the western countries. Today in more than 100 major cities of the world Rath Yatra festival is celebrated including London, New York, Washington, Moscow, Los Angles, Durban, Dhaka and in several cities of India.

·         He began BTG (Back To Godhead) magazine in 1944 which is now published in several languages all over the world.

·         Srila Prabhupada’s commentary on Bhagavad – Gita has sold more than 3 crore copies and also have been translated into around 87 languages.

Krishna through the life of Srila Prabhupada has shown that obstacles in the life of a devotee may come but if one is sincere and serious then Krishna personally takes charge of the life of the devotee. So when next time we come across any hurdle then we should not get bogged down by it but instead we should endeavour hard to get over it. And we know that Krishna is always there to help us! 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

A man is known by the company he keeps

Association is infectious. It is rightly said - a man is known by the company he keeps. People resort to substance abuse or become alcoholic only because of bad association. So we need to be extremely careful while choosing our companions. We should seek company of those whose life is an emblem of purity and virtue. Such noble souls can easily transform our lives. Narada Muni was the son of a maid servant in his earlier life. But once he got a rare opportunity to associate with the sages for few months. And those few months of association developed in him deep love for Lord thus making him one of the most celebrated devotees of the Lord. It is said sanghe shakti Kaliyuge – in Kaliyuga strength lies in association. And the best association in this world is that of the devotees.  “The value of a moment's association with the devotee of the Lord cannot even be compared to the attainment of heavenly planets or liberation from matter, and what to speak of worldly benedictions in the form of material prosperity, which are for those who are meant for death”. (S.B. 1.18.13)
We should grab any opportunity to associate with the devotees. Srila Prabhupada built several Iskcon temples all over the world so that devotees can congregate together to discuss Krishna katha, perform kirtan and eat Krishna prasadam. In such congregations each devotee gets inspiration from each other. Association equips us with sufficient strength to successfully face any challenges.