Monday, August 24, 2015

Delink life from ups and downs of sensitive index (Sensex)

The recent bearish market has caused lots of heartburns, thousands of investors have lost huge sums of money in stock markets in just few hours and thousands are having sleepless nights because they do not know what may happen the next day. When the Sensex plunges, it dashes hopes of a promising tomorrow. Future, which few moments back appeared bright suddenly becomes unstable and dark.

Hope of better tomorrow drives people to deposit their money in schemes which claim to multiply our money manifold in short span of time but it also forewarns that our investment is “subject to market risk” and we should be ready even for the losses. But the financial advisors asks us to not look at the dark side, many success stories are put forth in front of us and we finally are convinced that we should not get bogged down with negative sentiments. Of course one of the most important reasons why we invest in stocks is because we cannot resist the temptation of multiplying our fortune quickly. And we finally take the plunge thus intertwining our life’s happy and sad moments with the Sensitive Index’s (Sensex) graph, which by nature sometime goes up and sometimes comes down.

Dharma (religiosity), artha (economic development), kama (sense gratification) and moksha (liberation) are the four goals of family life. So for a householder financial stability is a necessity. Head of the family has to make sure that his family members have all the basic necessities of life. So investing money for better return isn’t wrong. However if one gets possessed by the desire for quick exponential profit then one is entering into a danger zone. Just like a gambler who after tasting few successes continues playing till the day when lady luck stops smiling on him, similarly greedy investors continue taking risk till he becomes bankrupt and ruined. A person invested in stocks and soon his money multiplied by 25 times, his Rs 3 lakh became Rs 75 lakh. His family members requested him to soon encash all the profit but with a desire for more he continued investing but sadly the stock suddenly crashed wiping out his entire gain.

Gita advises us to shun greed because it is gateway to hell (Bhagavad Gita 16.21) and asks us to embrace simplicity, a godly quality. It is also verily said that Lord has provided sufficient for our need but not for our greed. We have heard the story of a person who got a goose who gave a golden egg daily. The person was initially happy to have one golden egg a day but soon greed overpowered him and to get all the golden eggs in one shot he cut open the stomach of the bird. He did not find any gold mine there, even the innocent bird died ruining his chance of having a golden egg daily.

So while planning for our financial goal we should keep greed and impatience aside, we should choose means which is just, legitimate and is not too risky. We should not unnecessarily put our life in anxiety by parking our money in volatile markets. Instead we can choose such stocks and schemes after consulting genuine advisors where though profit may not be exponential but has strong base and have good track records of performance spanning several years. There are also schemes, such as government schemes, with almost negligible risk where profit is moderate, we can choose those too. Also we should not be recklessly spending money but should try to simplify our life so that we can save more for the future. It is also better to give up the mindset of amassing too much. In fact money should not be only used for our own aggrandizement but it should also be used to serve the Lord and share it with others in the form of charity (Gita 18.5).

Most importantly, life is not about just making money because even if we succeed in accumulating lots of wealth, we will be leaving everything behind here when we embark on a new destination at the end of our life. This is why sages and seers have advised us to plan our life in a way so that not just our present is pleasurable but our future life is also secure and happy. We can accomplish such a life if we do all our work by keeping Krishna in the centre - In all activities just depend upon Me and work always under My protection. In such devotional service, be fully conscious of Me (Bhagavad Gita 18.57).

So let us not jeopardise our life by linking it to the ups and downs of the sensitive index (Sensex). For a better & bright tomorrow we should live life as per the guidelines given by Krishna in Gita.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Symptoms of a sadhu

Srimad Bhagavatam (S.B) 3.25.21 explains, “The symptoms of a sadhu are that he is tolerant, merciful and friendly to all living entities. He has no enemies, he is peaceful, he abides by the scriptures, and all his characteristics are sublime.”

A sadhu is a dedicated devotee of the Lord, he spends all his time and energy in continuously chanting Lord’s holy names, extolling his activities and sharing his message to all without any discrimination and without compromising with the principles. He speaks about God fearlessly, tolerates insults without any complain and is ready to take any difficulties to make the world God conscious. The ruffians caned Haridas Thakura at 22 marketplaces, Lord Nityananda was violently attacked by Jagai and Madhai but they not just continued preaching them about God but also prayed to the Supreme Lord to forgive them for their nefarious acts. A sadhu does not hate anyone because he knows that all living entities are parts and parcels of the Lord. “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)

A sadhu engages everyone in the service of the Lord. He never says to people, “serve me” but instead asks everyone to “serve Krishna”. Being very compassionate towards all living beings, he is not satisfied by his own liberation but works hard to liberate all.

SB 3.25.22 explains, “.. a sādhu engages in staunch devotional service to the Lord without deviation. For the sake of the Lord he renounces all other connections, such as family relationships and friendly acquaintances within the world.” Without any ulterior motives, any material attachments, any desire for name, fame, money he distributes love of God to all. “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.” Siksastakam 4.

A sadhu never identifies himself with any material designation; he just desires to serve the Lord. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu succinctly sums up the characteristics of a sadhu, He says, “I am not a bahmana, ksatriya, vaisya, sudra, brahmacari or whatever. I am simply the servant of the servant of Krishna.” “Teachings of Lord Kapila, Ch 11, ‘The Symptoms of a Sadhu.’”

Monday, August 17, 2015

Identifying a genuine guru

The word guru means “heavy” i.e. heavy with knowledge. And that knowledge is his understanding about the soul (living entities), the Supersoul (the Supreme Lord) and the relationship between the soul and the Supersoul. A guru acquires scriptural knowledge from bonafide spiritual practitioners in a disciplic succession– srotriyam brahma – nistham. And most importantly he is a dedicated devotee of the Lord – brahma nistham.

A guru considers himself to be representative of his own guru and never asks his followers to worship him like a God. In fact when some of Srila Prabhupada’s disciples out of sheer ignorance started worshipping him as God then Srila Prabhupada became very upset and he immediately asked them to stop this nonsense, in fact he heavily chastised them for equating him with the Supreme Lord. A guru never takes any credit for his any achievements, whatever he gets he offers it to his guru and his guru offers it to his guru and so on. So, finally all credit goes to Krishna. Srila Prabhupada dedicated all his accomplishments to his guru, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura.

Through his wisdom words, a guru nourishes the intelligence of his disciples and of general populace helping them to understand their relationship with the Lord and how to again re-establish that forgotten relationship. He preaches by his own example, in fact he walks the talk. He follows the process of devotional life as given in the Vedas and imparts knowledge which is in line with the teachings of Vedas. He neither invents any new methodology to attain love of God nor does he concoct his own philosophy. Through his deeds he inspires and motivates people to become sincere devotees of the Lord. He associates with saintly people to discuss the spiritual subject matters and not with worldly people. His attire is always simple and devotional and his means of living is honest.

So when we see someone dancing on a movie song or intimately hobnobbing with members of opposite sex or having a lavish lifestyle or speaking words not befitting a devotee of the Lord then without any hesitation we should understand that he is a fake guru and should be outrightly rejected.

A guru is Krishna’s external representative and the internal guru is Krishna Himself situated in everyone’s heart. Through his purity, devotion and expert guidance a genuine guru illuminates the life of his disciples by removing all ignorance from his life and reveals the path treading on which one can go back to Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Again a new God in the market!

A lady dancing to the tunes of Bollywood songs wearing mini skirt, carrying trident, claiming to be incarnation of Goddess Durga and being worshipped by her followers as God is both laughable and deplorable. Laughable because we see a God who is enjoying a movie song and is being lifted by her followers on their laps and also allegedly kissed by them. Deplorable because there are people who are so fool and ignorant that they are ready to accept anyway as God.

The disease of becoming God is not something new; there have been many insane people who have been claiming to be God since time immemorial. We have the example of Paundraka who boasted that he is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Krishna. But eventually he got killed. Parasara Muni in Vishnu-purana 6.5.47 defines who God is; he says that God possess six qualities in totality which no one have and can never have. Lord’s six opulences are—he has full strength, fame, wealth, knowledge, beauty, and renunciation.

God is also omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent. For example, Lord Krishna was not physically present when Draupadi was being disrobed but still he saved her honour. Lord Krishna showed his virat rupa (universal form) to Arjuna. Krishna and his plenary expansions like Lord Rama, Lord Vishnu are categorised as the Supreme Lord. We do not find in Vedic books that either Krishna or Lord Rama performed any kind of mediation to become God. They were always God since the moment they appeared on the earthly planet from the spiritual world.

So when someone claims that they have become God and also gives us a false hope that we too can become God in future then we should understand that this is incorrect. God is always God and no one else can become God.

Krishna, The Supreme Lord as exaplained in Holy books

Monday, August 10, 2015

Chanting enchants our heart by cleansing material dirt

From a rickshaw puller on the earth to a pilot flying high in the sky, from a government servant to head of the government, from a beggar on the street to a business tycoon, from a baby in her cradle to a man knocking at the door of graveyard - all struggle hard, explore multiple avenues and continues making different choices throughout their life with a single minded objective of finding ultimate happiness in their life.

We will never find any sane person in any corner of the world who won’t long for happiness but will prefer misery. But the fundamental question is why we all fervently search for happiness? Brahma – sutra explains that the inherent nature of living entities is that they seek pleasure - ananda – mayo bhyasat. Vedic books inform us that we are souls and as a soul we are sac – cid – ananda i.e. eternal, blissful and full of knowledge. So being in bliss is intrinsic to us and so we are so obsessed with happiness.

Happiness is not a by-product of any form of material achievements. Yes we do see people becoming joyful upon achieving some success either in the form of wealth or position. But such happiness is neither lasting nor worthy. One of the reasons is because any achievement in this world is temporary and also because soon we find that the object which excited us initially fails to continuously satisfy our heart. Does money and success bring happiness? No. Because if it had been so then none of the wealthy and materially successful people would have resorted to sleeping pills to get some sleep, or would have drowned themselves in gallons of liquor to wipe out their tears and sadly would have not ended their own life by committing suicide. There are countless examples of such unfortunate souls who in spite of having cherished positions and possessions in this world were not able to lead a happy life.

So instead of searching happiness in the material realm we should look for it in the spiritual realm. We are souls, spiritual beings, part and parcel of the Lord and so happiness is what we crave for. But just like a thick layer of cloud in the sky prevents the warmth of the sun to reach us, similarly the thick layer of dirt of material desires and greed have covered our soul subduing our natural propensity to be always blissful. To regain our inherent nature we need to cleanse our hearts of all the material impurities and connect ourselves to the Supersoul, the Supreme Lord, who is the source of all pleasure. Chanting the holy names of the Lord like the Hare Krishna Mahamantra is the best way to remove all material contamination from our heart and also to simultaneously get connected to the Supreme Lord. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu explains the potency of chanting, “Glory to the Sri Krishna sankirtan which cleanses the heart of all the dust accumulated for years and extinguishes the fire of conditional life of repeated birth and death. This sankirtan movement is the prime benediction for humanity at large because it spread the rays of benediction moon. It is the life of all transcendental knowledge. It increases the ocean of transcendental bliss and enable us to fully taste the nectar for which we are always anxious.”

So let us enchant our heart by chanting the beautiful names of the Lord and get reunited with the Supreme Lord who is the source of all happiness.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Road to hell for a devotee

In Gita 16.4, Krishna explains pride, arrogance, conceit, anger, harshness and ignorance are demoniac qualities which take people to hell. And this disease does not just inflict materialists but devotees too can get victimised by it if they are not careful. A devotee may start thinking how many people are now my followers and among those how many are wealthy and have worthy position in the society. Once they accomplish their coveted goal and get position and power then slowly and steadily pride and arrogance creeps in. They soon start considering unworthy those seekers of truth who are sincere but do not have social standing and enough money which could bring fame to them.

The disease of being honoured and worshipped is there in each one of us and as long as this is not cured there is no hope of us coming in the good books of Krishna. In Gita 15.5, Krishna very clearly spells out the qualities which one should have to become eligible to be part of his spiritual kingdom. And these qualities are freedom from false prestige, illusion and false association.

Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu prays, “I do not want any number of followers” thus clearly instructing all spiritual seekers to search for truth and not followers.

When we take to spiritual life then the purpose should be to burn all our material disease and not aggravate it. So while practicing our devotional life we need to cautiously guard ourselves and continuously introspect to find out in which direction we are going – whether towards Krishna by living as per his instructions or away from him by bypassing his instructions. Choice is ours.