Friday, June 20, 2014

Anger is too dangerous

Anger can put our life in danger. It can ruin our career and jeopardise our future. Anger is a negative energy and so wise men since eons have been very vocal about the need of reining on this monster. A person in anger loses his power of discrimination and fails to understand what is right and wrong.  Overpowered by anger he takes irrational decisions which negatively impact his life.  His rashness and rudeness puts off even his near and dear ones. He loses people’s trust, respect of others and finally self respect. Sudden bout of anger is many times sufficient enough to cause considerable damage to one’s life.  An angry man never has any true friend. He neither does good to himself nor to others.

Krishna in Gita 2.63 explains in detail how anger leads to ones ultimate fall down, “From anger, complete delusion arises, and from delusion bewilderment of memory. When memory is bewildered, intelligence is lost, and when intelligence is lost one falls down again into the material pool.”  So next time before given in to anger we should contemplate on Krishna’s words of wisdom for our own benefit.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Spiritual Desire Will Take Us to Spiritual World

Published in ISKCON NEWS.,4447/

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Sun without sunshine, sweet without sweetness and fire without light is unimaginable; similarly a soul without desire is unthinkable. As a soul we are pleasure seekers – ananda mayo bhyasat – and can never ever be desireless. We were originally the residents of the spiritual world but when we developed yearning to become God and enjoy like God then we were sent to this material world to satisfy our non-spiritual desires. Here in this world we fervently search for ways to satisfy our countless cravings. We hopelessly hope that once all our yearnings will get materialized then we would feel deep satisfaction. Unfortunately it never happens.

Insatiable material desires torture us

Our desires are endless, the moment one gets fulfilled, immediately the other pops up. Many a times our yearnings are not for our basic needs, but it is because of social pressure or a longing to prove our worth to others. My car should be bigger than that of my neighbours, my smartphone should be the best, my television set should make people go crazy and so on. Advertisements of today are also tailor made to titillate our egos. Ads like “Neighbors envy owners pride” or “Designed for envy” try to entice people to go after material things. Many think that with age material greed subside. But in reality it doesn’t happen. With age the form of the desires changes but not the yearnings.  Many people are so much obsessed with worldly things that they are ready to go extra mile to achieve it. In fact they become the follower of Carvaka Muni, the atheist philosopher, who famously (infamously) said.

His philosophy was, “Beg, borrow and steal but enjoy all the pleasures of this world to your heart’s content because once you die everything will be finished and you will not be held accountable for anything.” 

But scriptures clearly explain that as souls we are eternal and whatever actions we perform in our life we are answerable for those. So we have to be always extra cautious whenever we pursue any cravings.  In fact even though some of our wishes may get fulfilled but still it never satisfies us. And the wishes which remain unfulfilled torture us every moment and make us go crazy. In order to lead a peaceful life it is imperative for us to get rid of our insatiable desires right now. Even Krishna asks us do the same in Bhagavad Gita 2.70. And he does not specify any age limit for this.

Bhagavad Gita 2.70: “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.”

We will be able to overcome the cravings for worldly possessions only by the mercy of the Lord. Just like a touchstone which converts an iron into gold, the Supreme God will spiritualize all our ignoble desires. How this happens have been beautifully explained in Srimad Bhagavatam through the story of Dhruva.

Lord purifies Dhruva’s desires

When Dhruva was humiliated by his step mother and neglected by his father then he was devastated. To his dismay he discovered that none in this world were capable enough to help him to get out of this deplorable situation. His mother too was saddened by Dhruva’s plight but she was also helpless.  She then advised Dhruva to seek shelter of Lord Vishnu, the creator of this world. Lord Vishnu being the Supreme Lord could have only fulfilled his desires. Dhruva’s heart was burning with insult, he wanted to get his honour back, he wanted the kingdom and he wanted to become glorious. Although he was just 5 years old but still he courageously took up the challenge to please the Lord. He left the comforts of the palace and went to the forest where he started performing severe austerities to attract the attention of the Lord. In spite of many difficulties and obstacles he remained completely focussed and continued mediating on the Lord for six months. His single minded determination attracted the mercy of the Lord and He personally appeared before him. Lord Vishnu’s effulgent transcendental form immediately attracted Dhruva’s heart. As the sun rises the darkness dissipates. Similarly as the Lord appeared directly before Dhruva all his ignorance immediately disappeared. The material motives which had initially inspired him to worship the Lord no longer looked attractive to him. In fact he felt ashamed of it standing in front of the Lord. The impurities of his heart had completely got cleansed.

In a prayerful mood Dhruva expressed his feelings to the Lord, “Persons who worship You simply for the sense gratification of this bag of skin are certainly influenced by Your illusory energy. In spite of having You, who are like a desire tree and are the cause of liberation from birth and death, foolish persons, such as me, desire benedictions from You for sense gratification, which is available even for those who live in hellish conditions.” SB 4.9.9

We are also having tons of material desires and we are obsessed about it. We even believe that once these get fulfilled then we will experience unlimited happiness.  But it is never going to happen. A fish is happy only when it is in the water. If we put the fish in a golden jar thinking that the glitz of gold will satisfy it then it wouldn’t happen. In fact the fish will die there for want of water. Our hunger of heart can be satisfied only when Krishna’s love blossoms in it and not by things of this world. By nature we are spiritual beings and our heart will get satisfied only when our desires are spiritualized.

Dhruva’s heart which was burning because of insult got soothed when he saw the Lord standing in front of him. Similarly our starving heart will experience contentment and fulfilment only when it is filled with Krishna’s mercy.

Spiritual pill to cure material desire

Although Dhruva’s initial motives were non- spiritual but he took the spiritual path to achieve it and so he subsequently achieved the Lord. Likewise we may be having many impurities in our heart but still we should take up the process of Krishna consciousness as Krishna can only transform our consciousness. Initially the devotional path may not excite us because we have been away from Krishna’s abode for millions of years and so we have forgotten all about the spiritual bliss. But still we have to resolutely practice devotional life as per the rules and regulations given in the sacred Vedic books for our own salvation. A patient may not like the treatment meted out to him in the hospital but still he continues with the medication because he knows that to get healthy he need to undergo through  the process. Being spiritually sick we also have to continue taking the spiritual pill as this is only going to solve all our problems of life.  In this age of Kaliyuga, the age of downfall, chanting the holy names of the Lord like the Hare Krishna Mahamantra is the authorized medicine which simultaneously helps us to develop love of God and also cleanses our hearts of all impurities of lust, great, pride, anger, envy, illusion and false ego. This process has been recommended by none other than Lord Chaitanya – ceto darpana  marjanam. Along with chanting we also should hear about the wonderful pastimes of Lord Krishna, about His unlimited glorious and His merciful disposition. Srimad Bhagavatam 1.2.17 expounds the benefit of hearing, “Sri Krishna, the Personality of Godhead, who is the Paramatma [Supersoul] in everyone’s heart and the benefactor of the truthful devotee, cleanses desire for material enjoyment from the heart of the devotee who has developed the urge to hear His messages, which are in themselves virtuous when properly heard and chanted.”

The spiritual process isn’t troublesome but is indeed very delightful. As we start developing spiritual taste our heart starts experiencing deep fulfilment.  Things of this world no longer bother us and neither attracts us. We start understanding the futility of material desires and material pleasures and we develop intense longing for Krishna.  

Desire to serve the Lord brings divine joy

When Lord fulfilled Dhruva’s material wish by granting him the benediction to rule the earthly planet for 36000 years then instead of becoming happy Dhruva became morose. He was afraid that worldly possessions would deprive him of love of God. However Lord assured him that he would never forget Him. Dhruva had understood the worth of spiritual life and he expressed his gratitude in these solemn words, "I came into this forest just looking for pieces of broken glass, but instead I have found a great jewel in You, my dear Lord, and now I am completely satisfied and don't want anything."

As souls we are pleasure seeking and pleasure is there where Krishna is. Searching for pleasure in this world is like running after a mirage in the desert to quench thirst. The illusion of happiness which this world creates baffles us and binds us in this world. Our innate longing to lord over the world always gets thwarted. But once we come under the shelter of Lord then we develop a thorough understanding of our inner self and our relationship with the Supreme.  A sincere and serious devotee of the Lord wants nothing from the Lord but just fervently try to always serve the Lord because he experiences unlimited happiness in doing so. “O almighty Lord, I have no desire to accumulate wealth, nor do I desire beautiful women, nor do I want any number of followers. I only want Your causeless devotional service birth after birth.” Sri Siksastakam, Verse 4.

Lord will send flying chariot from the spiritual world for us

Lord had also promised Dhruva that after ruling for 36,000 years he will become the ruler of the Pole Star, the planet which exists for eternity. And Lord indeed sent the chariot from the spiritual world to take Dhruva to the glowing planet. While embarking on his spiritual journey the death personified appeared in front of him and Dhruva put his feet on death thus conquering the unconquerable death. He then sat on the magnificent chariot to go to the supreme destination. All the renowned sages and the celestial beings had come to witness this spectacular event.  They were showering flowers on him and singing songs extolling the glories of the Supreme Lord and His dear devotee Dhruva.

Dhruva’s life demonstrates that how Lord mercifully transforms the lives of those who seek His shelter. We should also try to follow the footsteps of Dhruva and try our best to please the Lord with our devotional endeavour. In all situations and circumstances we should worship Lord with great faith and determination giving up all our hankering for non-spiritual pleasures. Our efforts and right intentions will attract the mercy of the all – attractive Lord. He has assured us that He personally takes interest in delivering His unalloyed devotees from this miserable world. “Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I will deliver you from all sinful reactions. Do not fear.” Bhagavad Gita 18.66. Devotees of the Lord live happily in this world and become eligible to achieve supreme destination after leaving this world. Scriptures explain that the spiritual world is surrounded with millions of desire fulfilling purpose trees which fulfills all the wishes of the soul. Of course in God’s kingdom a soul just wants to serve the Lord and nothing else. There is supreme satisfaction and inexplicable joy in doing so. If we are willing to forgo our non-spiritual longings and are ready to serve the Lord lovingly then we too will become eligible to go back to the spiritual world. Krishna will in fact send a flying chariot to take us back to His kingdom. Are we ready for it?

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Getting out of the vicious cycle of birth and death

“The most surprising thing of this world is that everyone sees every other person is dying but they never think that they would also die one day.” These words of wisdom were spoken by Yudhisthira, the righteous India ruler who is revered worldwide for his honesty and intelligence. How true this statement is!  As mortal beings our right to exist can be taken away at any moment.  All our aims, ambitions, goals, desires, material positions and possessions we have to leave behind and we (as souls) will move to a new destination.

As a product pack has an expiry day written on it; similarly our body comes with an expiry date. For each of us the expiry date is different but it is guaranteed that one day our body will certainly perish. Death is painful not just for the one who dies but also for his near and dear ones. Although death comes to us without any intimation but we can’t complain that we were never informed about it. All the sacred Vedic literatures have been loudly informing us that this world is not a permanent place for us to live. In Gita Krishna says that this world is temporary and filled with miseries - duhkhalayam asasvatam (Bhagavad Gita 8.15).

So as a concerned father of all living beings, he constantly asks us to get out of this painful world which is characterized by repeated birth and death.  In Krishna’s kingdom, the spiritual world, there is no death, no disease and no suffering. There is unlimited happiness! And once we reach there we would never return again to this material world (Bhagavad Gita 15.6). It isn't difficult to achieve that supreme destination. Krishna explains that by performing pure devotional service unto him we become eligible to go there (Bhagavad Gita 2.51).  In this age of Kaliyuga, the age of downfall, the process prescribed is chanting the holy names of the Lord like the Hare Krishna Mahamantra. This chant of deliverance will reawaken our dormant love for Krishna and cleanse our heart of all the impurities. And then upon leaving this body we won’t take birth in this material world again but will go back home back to Godhead. 

So, let us not waste our life in running after the things of this world which will be taken away from us at the time of death but instead we should strive to develop love of God which will guarantee us a transcendental future and supreme destination.  

Monday, June 2, 2014

Churning the Consciousness

The demigods and the demons came together for a cause and that was to retrieve the nectar of immortality from the Ocean of Milk.  It was one of the rarest occasions when the fiercest enemies were cooperating with each other. Vasuki, the king of the serpent was being used as a rope and the Mandara Mountain was the churning rod. Both the parties were anticipating that the moment the churning will start immediately the nectar will appear. But to their surprise as they began they found that the ocean has become very turbulent. The big and small animals of the ocean like fish, sharks, tortoises, snakes, whales, crocodiles etc. got disturbed and came to the surface frightening all. The misery of the devtas and demons got compounded when from the ocean came hālahala, the most dangerous poison. Everyone was aghast because instead of nectar, deadly and obnoxious substances were coming out. Lord Vishnu who was supervising the entire activity was demonstrating to all that getting nectar isn’t so easy, it requires lots of effort.

Fighting the ferocious enemies

We can relate the churning of the ocean with our very own life. Chanting the holy names of the Lord like the Hare Krishna mahamantra is also like churning the consciousness. We also have the experience that the moment we start chanting, our mind becomes more agitated. The anarthas (demoniac qualities) like lust, greed, pride, anger, envy, illusion, false ego start attacking us vigorously. We in fact find that we are at peace when we not chant than when we chant. But unless and until we get rid of these anarthas we can never attain love of God.  And the only weapon which can effectively defeat the enemy of lust, greed, pride, anger, envy, illusion, false ego is chanting. Lord Chaitanya, the Supreme God, has informed us that in this age of Kaliyuga chanting the holy names of the Lord like the Hare Krishna Mahamantra is the only process to purify the consciousness - ceto darpana marjanam. But these ferocious enemies have been in control of our lives for millions of years so they will not give up their hegemony so easily. They will fight tooth and nail, will create many obstacles and will throw many challenges.

Lord appreciates our fighting spirit

But we have to tolerate these onslaughts with great determination and continue chanting the holy names of the Lord with utmost sincerity. While practicing mantra meditation we also have to make sure that we do not indulge in any activities which may give strength to our inner enemies. This is why scriptures ask us to follow the four – regulative principles of no meat eating, no gambling, no intoxication and no illicit sex including watching pornography.  These wrong indulgences will stunt our spiritual progress and bind us to this miserable material world.  As we start starving the enemies and continue chanting enthusiastically the enemies become weaker day by day. Our effort and sincerity will attract the mercy of the munificent Lord. Krishna is always ready to help us in our devotional endeavour and He personally takes the responsibility of helping His ardent devotees. He supplies us with all necessary intelligence and guidance which will help us to come closer to Him. This He confirms in Bhagavad Gita 9.22, “But those who always worship Me with exclusive devotion, meditating on My transcendental form – to them I carry what they lack, and I preserve what they have”.  And once Lord gets pleased with our efforts then he would drive away these enemies from our life forever. 

Devotees are always victorious

During the churning of the ocean also in spite of facing all the hardships, demigods and demons continued working tirelessly for the nectar. And finally Dhanvantari appeared with the pot of nectar. Upon seeing the pot, the crooked demons snatched it immediately as they did not want the demigods to have even a drop of the nectar. But the demigods were under the protection of Lord Vishnu and those who take shelter of the Lord never ever get deprived of anything auspicious. The Lord of the Universe personally took the responsibility of delivering the nectar to the demigods. He took a beautiful feminine form of Mohini Murti and tricked the demons. The lusty demons got captivated by Her extraordinary beauty and readily handed the invaluable container to Mohini Murti. She then cleverly distributed the nectar to the demigods and the demons were left dumbfounded but they could not do anything.  It is verily said that if we are with the Lord then there is no chance of us ever getting defeated or cheated.  The demigods after drinking the ambrosia and taking complete shelter of the Lord vanquished the demons and emerged victorious.

So if we also want to be successful in our life then we need to be always on the side of the God because the Supreme Personality of Godhead is the best friend and well-wisher of the three worlds (Srimad Bhagavatam 8.9.27).