Monday, November 23, 2015

In Krishna’s care there is no tear of fear

Published in : Dandavats

From a rickshaw puller to a pilot flying high in the sky, from a government employee to a 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 continuously search for happiness. 

But in spite of our obsession with ‘happiness’, ‘miseries’ continuously accompany us like a shadow.    Misery can be physical or can be psychological and it has a knack of appearing and disappearing at its own whims.

Scriptures tell us about the fourfold misery – birth, old age, disease and death.  Till date since the dawn of creation there has not been a single being including non -humans who have not been affected by it.  Who in this world would want to be diseased, grow old and ultimately die? But it happens to all of us.  In this world we are also subjected to three other types of miseries: 

  • Miseries caused by nature such as excessive heat or cold, flood or famine, earthquake, tsunami etc. (adhidaivika-klesa)

  •  Miseries caused by the activities of fellow beings like terrorists or sometimes by our own near and dear ones.  Even other species like mosquitoes, viruses too inflict on us sufferings in form of several diseases. (adhibhautika-klesa)

  • Suffering caused by our own body and mind (adhyatmika-klesa). Bodily diseases, anxiety, depression, stress, fear of future etc. do not allow us to live in peace.

In spite of our repeated efforts we are not able to defend ourselves against the onslaught of material miseries.  The only approach which we consider effective is by increasing our worldly possessions and enhancing our material positions. We think by filling our coffers with lots of money we can bribe misery when it knocks at our door and can change our destiny. But sadly our gestures do not succeed in cutting the ice and we get hit hard.

One of the advantages of being a human is that we have been gifted with intelligence. So, as an intelligent species shouldn’t we ask why in spite of all my efforts, irrespective of all the measures taken we are not able to free ourselves from the strong grip of grief and sorrow? Are the precautionary measures taken by us aren’t sufficient or is it that the measures itself is erroneous and so outcome is always ineffective.

When we buy a new gadget such as an IPhone then along with it is given to us a manual which not just explains the functionalities of the device but also specifies dos and don’ts.  And for effective functioning we are supposed to adhere to given guidelines. But if we go against the advices then the device starts malfunctioning.

Similarly we have also been given manuals by the creator of this world who is also our Supreme Father. These manuals are the sacred literatures which comprehensively give detail about this world, about our life and also delineate the process by which we can ward off all miseries and lead a peaceful life.  It will not just protect us from all dangers but will also guide us to a path which will open the door of perennial bliss.

Arjuna was in abject misery and in tears just before the Mahabharat war.  But after being thoroughly educated by Krishna in spiritual science he got enlightened and decided to work according to the directive of Krishna, the Supreme Lord. He fought with grit without worrying about gain or loss. And since he was executing his given duties as per the laws of God, he was victorious. Krishna was always with him providing protection and guidance. 

We suffer here because we go against the laws of God, we do not turn towards him but we turn away from him.  But like Arjuna, if we do all our activities in conjunction with the scriptures and if we invite Krishna in our life then we can protect ourselves from many unpleasant situations and circumstances.  

After the Mahabharat war ended, Krishna asked Arjuna to get down from the chariot first. But Arjuna requested Krishna to get down first. Krishna advised Arjuna to do what he is being asked to do.  So Arjuna got down first and then Krishna followed. And as soon as Krishna got down, it blew up and burned to ashes.  Arjuna was horrified. Krishna explained that the weapons unleashed by Bhisma, Drona and other Kaurava warriors were extremely powerful but because of him the lethal weapons did not harm Arjuna a bit. Arjuna always remained safe in Krishna’s hand.  Krishna, the all-powerful and all merciful is our only saviour.

Yes it is true that in this world a devotee of the Lord too undergoes through old age, disease and death and three types of miseries impinge him too.  But Krishna shields his devotees from all the dangers and provides him sufficient intelligence and inner strength which helps to nullify the miseries of this world. If we are in Krishna’s care there is no fear and Krishna wipes all our tear.  Not just this after leaving this world we get an opportunity to return back to the kingdom of Krishna where there is no rebirth, no disease, no old age, no death, no adhidaivika-klesa, no adhibhautika-klesa and  no adhyatmika-klesa.

In Bhagavad Gita 3.10, Krishns says “Be thou happy by this yajna [sacrifice] because its performance will bestow upon you everything desirable for living happily and achieving liberation.”  And the yajna in this world is chanting the names of Krishna, the Hare Krishna mantra.  Chanting brings Krishna’s grace and it opens the gateway to the spiritual world which is the abode of eternity and bliss. And so Srila Prabhupada famously said, “Chant and be happy.”

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

How could the great God justify violence?

While the terrorists were ruthlessly killing the people in Paris they were simultaneously shouting “God is great”. It makes one wonder does the great God justify the killing of innocent people and eulogize the killers. If yes then how could God be great?  Or is it that the killers are the agents of devil who are on a mission to discredit the great God?

Killing in the name of religion has spread all over the world today. The brutal massacre of innocent men, women and children, and the beheading videos are not just frightening and distasteful but it is also shaking people’s faith in the idea of God.  If people unleash violence in the name of God then the world will be a much better place without God.  Why not have Godless world where there will be no discrimination and murder in the name of God?  Now before rejecting God and admonishing the books of God let us also try to glean through these books to figure out if violence against innocents has ever been justified? Has God promised that those who shout my name and inflict pain on others achieve me?

All the bonafide religions of the world believe in the Supreme Lord and unequivocally declare God to be our Supreme Father. For e.g. in Bhagavad Gita 14.4, Krishna says, aham bija-pradah pita, I am the seed giving father. If it is so then how could a father sanction the killing of one of his children at the hands of the other children because both the terrorist and the victims are his own children? More so it is said that a devotee of the Lord sees all the living beings of this world as parts and parcels of the Supreme Lord and sees them with equal vision without any discrimination (Bhagavad Gita 5.18). And if we read the lives of the great messengers of the Lord then we find that they have never used violence but have instead used love of God as a weapon to transform the lives of people. 

There are innumerable stories of people’s heart getting transformed by associating with holy men and holy books. Lord Nityananda and Haridas Thakura reformed ruffians like Jagai and Madhai by filling their hearts with love of God. It was the power of devotion to God that transformed the life of Valmiki, the composer of Ramayan.

Scripture tells a story of a cruel hunter named Mrugrari who used to rejoice seeing suffering of helpless animals and birds. He used to half kill them and then enjoy seeing them suffer and die. When sage Narada saw the suffering beasts and birds, he was aghast. Why don’t you just kill them completely, he asked?  Mrugrari replied smilingly, “Because I enjoy seeing them suffer and die”. Narada understood that his cruelty is going to cost him dear, the hunter is going to get a terrible reaction for his sins. And so he decided to transform Mrugrari’s heart. He explained the hunter how his act is not in accordance with the laws of God and so it is going to bring great misfortune to him. He told him to have love, compassion and mercy towards the other children of God and most importantly asked him to chant and take shelter of the supreme Lord. Mrugrari had never heard any sagely advice before because he belonged to the family of hunters. He had witnessed such cruelty since childhood. But Narada had now told him to see the world through the eyes of the scriptures. The hunter understood that he was swiftly moving to the path of self-annihilation. And so he decided to give up violence and lead a God conscious peaceful life. Soon his heart had got so transformed that while walking he used to be cautious so that he may not step on any small living beings such as ants.

A genuine devotee of the Lord will never try to cause any harm to others even in his dreams.  He is para-dukha-dukhi   i.e. seeing others in pain he himself feels pain; he does not go and voluntarily inflict pain on others as some misguided men and women are currently doing in the name of God instead he is ready to suffer for the sins of others. Vasudeva Datta was a great saintly person; he was ready to suffer on behalf of all people of the world so that they could be absolved of all the miseries.  “I will take their sins and suffer in hell on their behalf, but please deliver them from their material disease, he prayed to Lord Caitanya” (Chaitanya Charitamrita 2.15.160-163). This is the true character of a devotee. 

The terrorists who were mercilessly shooting people were the messengers of evil. A genuine lover of God does not wear the vest of bombs with a mission to inflict immeasurable sufferings on others. Instead they give their life to save the lives of the suffering masses. They do not carry weapons of destruction in their hands but instead they carry the chanting beads on which they chant the names of God and inspire others to get connected to God.  They do not speak words which fill people’s heart with fear but instead they speak words of love which brings joy to people’s heart.  The process of devotion to God is so enlightening that it makes a ruffian a sage and a crooked man a kind hearted man. 

“God is great” and the great God does not sanction violence. He is a loving and caring father and has asked all of us to live together happily like brothers and sisters. He has asked us to shun violence and embrace peace and has advised us to fill our hearts with love, mercy and compassion (Bhagavad Gita 16.1-3).  And those who are massacring people are not even humans; in fact they are worse than the beasts so why to pay attention to what they say.  And the best and the only way to eliminate these demons is by spreading the love of God and by disseminating the heart transforming message of the sacred scriptures.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Discrimination against Vedic literature

                                                        (Published in India Opines)      

Right to education is a fundamental right and it is the duty of the society and the government to make sure that each and every child is educated without any discrimination.  But what if there is discrimination in what knowledge is imparted to the students.   What if the ideologically driven educationalists do not allow the students to be exposed to various fields of knowledge but instead force them to study only those subject matters which agree with their way of thinking and believing.

This would be considered a gross misuse of power and position. But this policy of knowledge filtration has been going on for ages in India. The British during their rein had made sure that the Indians remain deprived of their rich knowledge and culture.  They strategically trained scholars who were although Indians but had disregard for Indian culture, society, customs, traditions and holy books. These scholars were given the responsibility of slowly and steadily making Indians believe that their culture, history and knowledge are inferior to that of the west. The purpose was to make sure that the Indians lose faith in the Vedas. British policy continued even after India achieved independence.  The scholars who were trained to demean Vedic books continued nurturing other sets of scholars who would not allow the knowledge of these scriptures to be made available to all Indians. 

They starting concocting and misrepresenting these books and came up with doctrines like
·         Vedic literatures are unscientific and it promotes superstitious beliefs.
·         Ramayan and Mahabharata are mythology.
·         These books divide society and discriminate against women.
·         Knowledge imparted by these books is not relevant anymore.

Vedic literatures are the oldest literature of the world.  And it was not written by some
unintelligent, illiterate and primitive nomadic people.

Let us gauge the vastness of Vedic literature:

·         The 4 Vedas - Rig-veda, Yajur-veda, Sama-veda, and the Atharva-veda  -in total had 21, 109, 1000 and 50 branches respectively  consisting of over 100, 000 verses. Many of them got lost and today we find around 20, 023 (or according to some 20, 379) verses in all the 4 Vedas.
·         There are 18 Puranas and in total they have 400, 000 verses.
·         Mahabharata is the world’s largest epic consisting of 110, 000 couplets.
·         Ramayan another great epic contains 24, 000 verses. 
·         And the list isn’t complete; there are many more literary masterpieces such as Brahmanas, Aranyakas , Upanisads, Upa – Vedas and Vedangas etc.

A person with a tinge of intelligence would accept the fact that such a voluminous work cannot be the handiwork of some nomadic and semi - literate people.
The philosophy espoused by these literatures has the potential to change the way we look towards the world and towards other living beings. These holy books talk about isvara (God), jiva (the living beings), prakriti (wolrd), karma (actions) and kala (time). It teaches us about the importance of cultivation of spiritual knowledge; charity; self-control; austerity; simplicity; nonviolence; truthfulness; freedom from anger; renunciation; tranquillity; aversion to faultfinding; compassion for all living entities; freedom from covetousness; gentleness; modesty; steady determination; vigor; forgiveness; fortitude; cleanliness; and freedom from envy and from the passion for honor (Bg 16.1-3).

It informs us that all the living entities in this world are part and parcel of God and so we should see them all with equal vision and should not discriminate against any. (Bhagavad Gita 5.18)

But an Indian does not get the opportunity to study these books in schools and colleges and if someone desires to study them then they are derided. So much is the disdain for the Indian traditional culture, language and custom that in India instead of Sanskrit, which is a native Indian language, in the educational institutions German was being taught. And when the government tried to include Sanskrit in the educational curriculum then there were fierce opposition from the anti-Vedic brigade who masquerade as liberals in India.  Today Sanskrit as a language has survived because of the mercy of foreign universities. Isn’t is surprising as well as shocking?
Indians in general have deep longing to know about their culture, tradition, language and literature.  And so many Indians have continued to learn about their culture and philosophy from their elders or have tried their best to study on their own. Many religious and cultural organizations such as ISKCON organize classes on Bhagavad Gita, Srimad Bhagavatam and other Vedic literatures ensuring that not just Indians but people all over the world know the message of these sacred books.

The tyranny of ideologically driven left liberal academicians should be stopped. As an Indian I should have the right to choose what I want to study and I should not be deprived of that opportunity.  Educational institution in India should not discriminate against Vedic school of thoughts and allow the younger brains to get exposed to these vast bodies of knowledge.