Churning of butter

Hare Krishna dear devotees,

We, Gaudiya Vaishanavas, are supposed to follow the mood of Vrajavasis. Among the Vrajavasis the mood and service of gopis is considered the highest. During the day  gopis were always busy in one main activity – churning butter. How can we follow this practice in the modern age of Kali-yuga?

We can very easily follow gopis by churning the verses of bhakti scriptures, especially Bhagavad Gita and Srimad Bhagavatam. If we sincerely try to churn these verses with love and devotion then by the mercy of Supreme Lord we may be rewarded with very soft and delicious butter.

Let us pick a well-known verse from Bhagavad Gita,

tasmāt tvam uttiṣṭha yaśo labhasva
jitvā śatrūn bhuṅkṣva rājyaṁ samṛddham
mayaivaite nihatāḥ pūrvam eva
nimitta-mātraṁ bhava savya-sācin

Therefore get up. Prepare to fight and win glory. Conquer your enemies and enjoy a flourishing kingdom. They are already put to death by My arrangement, and you, O Savyasācī, can be but an instrument in the fight.

(BG 11.33)

Now let us pray to Srila Prabhupada and try churning every single line of the above translation and see what kind of butter comes out it.

Therefore get up : Krishna says, My bhakti means action. Bhakti-yoga doesn’t entail sitting idle but acting for Krishna. That’s why my eternal associate whom I have sent to guide you and  whom you lovingly call Srila Prabhupada, translated bhakti as devotional service and NOT simply devotion.

Prepare to fight and win glory: Krishna says, if you are My devotee then be prepared to serve my plan – to give a chance to all the conditioned souls to come back to Me, back to Godhead. Apply to join My army (associate with My devotees). Admission is very easy and with a little strength (faith) you can join in. All new recruits begin with training, which begins immediately- by starting to practice Krishna consciousness. Discipline is mandatory-  follow all the rules and regulations of Krishna consciousness diligently.

Training is not just physical but also mental, intellectual and beyond it. All very useful in a war- chant sincerely, start reading the scriptures carefully and attentively  which I, and My devotees, have left for you. Contemplate on them and apply them in your life.

There are scheduled and surprise tests- be ready to show your sincerity when you face challenges in life.

Having passed the tests (with some bruises and good lessons learnt), you will   be invited to formally join one unit of My army- take shelter of a bonafide       guru in a vaishnava sampradaya.

You are now a formal lieutenant in My army – become initiated. After being     appointed formally in My prestigious Army you will receive additional facilities and perks – gradually the essence of all scriptures will start getting revealed in your heart.

In the meantime do not sit idle but start preaching, simply repeat whatever     you have read, do not add or subtract anything, for a soldier to survive in army (or in a war) discipline is critical.

Gradually you shall acquire weapons (realisations) which will make you   stronger day by day (increased faith). Being empowered with these unique   weapons (realisations) and strength (faith) you will win glory.

Conquer your enemies: There are different sets of enemies- external as well as internal.

External enemy is maya – forgetfulness of my eternal relationship with Krishna.

Internal : Internal enemies are very dangerous. These are Kama (lust), krodha (anger), lobha (greed), moha  (attachment), mada (pride) and matsarya (jealousy)

Final frontier: Win over five kind of material attachments : ignorance, false ego, attachment to the material world, envy and absorption in material consciousness.

And enjoy a flourishing kingdom:  There is only one kingdom which flourishes eternally- Vaikuntha. It is eternal, full of knowledge and full of bliss. In comparison the material world is temporary and full of miseries.

They are already put to death by My arrangement: Those who do not take shelter of My devotees remain forever in the cycle of birth and death. Their consciousness remains shrunk- to a level of 1/10,000 part of the tip of the top of a hair!

O Savyasācī, can be but an instrument in the fight: Each and every one of My dear devotee can become an instrument in My hand and enjoy My association. For this you do not even have to wait to leave this body and enter Vaikuntha (or Goloka Vrindavan) but you will be able to see My presence in everything around you and you will be able to hear My instructions from within. With gradual promotion you will also get the privilege to drink Somarasa – feel nectar in the heart while reading bhakti scriptures.

The objective of life is not simply a subject of debate or speculation. The ultimate aim of life is to realize that supreme object, the Personality of Godhead. Buddhi-yoga, or Krishna consciousness, means to become absorbed in serving the Supreme Lord and His name, qualities, form, pastimes, etc. In other words, it means becoming an instrument for His satisfaction. We have to become infused with His spiritual potency; thus strengthened, we then have to make the propagation of His transcendental glories our prime duty in life. By means of such Potent missionary activities, innumerable jévas can experience endless spiritual joy.

(Renunciation through wisdom, chapter 5)

 

I hope and pray that you liked the taste of little butter we tried to churn. In case of any complaints or suggestions, please mail me at giriraj108@outlook.com

Your servant,

Giriraj dasa

 

Change of heart

Hare Krishna dear devotees,

As we come into Krishna consciousness then many a times we may get lost in the philosophy itself. The mind too likes newer subjects and intellect is also satisfied by gaining deeper understanding. However we should be careful not to feel satisfied remaining at these levels. Most of us do understand that our real position in the material world is not unlike that of a criminal put in a prison for reform. Criminals can also, rather they do, have high level of mental and intellectual capabilities!

The living entities who come in contact with the material world are meant to be corrected. All the living entities within this material world have revolted against the service of the Lord, and therefore they remain within this material world as ever conditioned, nitya-baddha, taking birth again and again.

(SB 6.4.44p)

Old habits die hard!

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. So our process is to cleanse the heart. Then all the troubles of this material world will be solved.

(SSR chapter 6)

We may be surprised to know that the whole process of ‘sadhna bhakti’ is to change our heart!

The whole process of spiritual culture is aimed at changing the heart of the living being in the matter of his eternal relation with the Supreme Lord as subordinate servant, which is his eternal constitutional position.

It is expected by all means that by discharging regulated devotional service one must manifest the change of heart.

 (SB 2.3.24p)

What exactly we mean by ‘change of heart’?

Change of heart means that my ‘Thinking, feeling and willing’ has changed. Which means what all I think, what is my reaction to various every day situations or circumstances and finally my actions have changed. It does not mean that we have simply learnt the art of what not to speak, especially when we are among the devotees, but inside our heart reactions to their behavior remains same. It means not just externals (my dress, a new name, my eating habits, my wake up time, etc. ) but I have changed, or changing, internally as well.

So what if change of heart has still not happened?

If there is no such change, the heart must be considered steel-framed, for it is not melted even when there is chanting of the holy name of the Lord.

(SB 2.3.24p)

 

Oh ho!

So philosophy has its place but as an aspiring devotee we should be more interested in the culture not merely philosophy. And what is culture? Philosophy lived is culture. In simple words it means that we intelligently, under the shelter of a devotee not my own mind, applying whatever we are reading in Bhagavad Gita, Srimad Bhagavatam, etc., or whatever we are hearing (from a right source!). Without contemplation and then application all of it remains mere knowledge and will not result in any spiritual realisation. Realisation does not mean mere understanding rather  it means they have entered into my day to day life. 

What are the symptoms of change of heart ?

So with the progress of devotional service, the reaction of change in the heart is exhibited by gradual detachment from the sense of material enjoyment by a false sense of lording it over the world and an increase in the attitude of rendering loving service to the Lord.

(SB 2.3.24p)

How do I change my  stone like heart ?

Sravanam Kirtanam!

One who directly associates with the Supreme Lord by hearing of His activities cleanses the dirt from his mind and very soon comes to Kåñëa consciousness. Süta Gosvämé confirms this in Çrémad-Bhägavatam (1.2.17):

çåëvatäà sva-kathäù kåñëaù puëya-çravaëa-kértanaù

hådy antaù-stho hy abhadräëi vidhunoti suhåt-satäm

The Supreme Lord within everyone’s heart becomes very pleased when a person hears narrations of His activities, and He personally cleanses the dirt from the mind of the listener. Hådy antaù-stho hy abhadräëi vidhunoti: He washes off all dirt from the mind. Material existence is caused by dirty things within the mind. If one can cleanse his mind, he immediately comes to his original position of Kåñëa consciousness, and thus his life becomes successful. Therefore all the great saints in the devotional line very strongly recommend the process of hearing.

Çré Caitanya Mahäprabhu introduced the congregational chanting of the Hare Kåñëa mantra to give everyone a chance to hear Kåñëa’s holy name, for simply by hearing Hare Kåñëa, Hare Kåñëa, Kåñëa Kåñëa, Hare Hare/ Hare Räma, Hare Räma, Räma Räma, Hare Hare, one becomes purified (ceto-darpaëa-märjanam [Cc. Antya 20.12]). Therefore our Kåñëa consciousness movement is chiefly engaged in chanting the Hare Kåñëa mantra all over the world.

As stated in Çrémad-Bhägavatam (1.2.18):

nañöa-präyeñv abhadreñu nityaà bhägavata-sevayä

bhagavaty uttama-çloke bhaktir bhavati naiñöhiké

“By regularly hearing the Bhägavatam and rendering service unto the pure devotee, all that is troublesome to the heart is practically destroyed, and loving service unto the glorious Lord, who is praised with transcendental songs, is established as an irrevocable fact.” In this way, simply by hearing of the powerful activities of the Lord, the devotee’s heart becomes almost completely cleansed of material contamination, and thus his original position as an eternal servant who is part and parcel of the Lord becomes manifest.

(SB 5.18.11p)

There are two kinds of çruti, or scripture. One is spoken by the Lord, and the other is spoken about the Lord and His devotees. Bhagavad-gétä is the former and Çrémad-Bhägavatam the latter. One must hear these scriptures repeatedly from reliable sources in order to become fixed in serious devotional service. Through engagement in such devotional service, one becomes freed from the contamination of mäyä. It is stated in the Çrémad-Bhägavatam that hearing about the Supreme Personality of Godhead cleanses the heart of all contamination caused by the influence of the three modes of material nature. By continuous, regular hearing, the effects of the contamination of lust and greed to enjoy or lord it over material nature diminish, and when lust and greed diminish, one then becomes situated in the mode of goodness. This is the stage of Brahman realization, or spiritual realization. In this way one becomes fixed on the transcendental platform. Remaining fixed on the transcendental platform is liberation from material entanglement.

(SB 3.27.21p)

Can my heart change just by hearing?

Çåëvatäà sva-kathäù kåñëaù. So we don’t say that “You change your profession, you change your position or occupation,” no. Please come and hear. Please… If you don’t chant, please hear. That hearing process also will cure you. Çravaëam kértanam. So people should come to our temple and hear this chanting, this… We are not taxing. We are not asking any… If you give some contribution, there is temple and management, there is expenditure, heavy expenditure, in this country. If you so kind… It is very kind of you. Even if you do not pay, you don’t like, please come. Please come and hear. Please bring your friends if you are really friend. So it is very nice thing. Sthäne sthitaù çruti-gatäà tanu-väì-manobhir. You remain what you are. We don’t say that you change, but you hear.

(Room conversation, 16th July 1968, Montreal)

What are the  chances of success for a fallen soul like myself?

All the great äcäryas strongly recommend that people be given a chance to hear about the Supreme Lord. Then success is assured. The more we cleanse the dirt of material attachment from our hearts, the more we will be attracted by Kåñëa’s name, form, qualities, paraphernalia and activities. This is the sum and substance of the Kåñëa consciousness movement.

(SB 5.18.11p)

We must always remember that hearing and chanting are the basic principles of discharging devotional duties, and if they are properly performed there will follow the reactional ecstasy with signs of tears in the eyes and standing of the hairs on the body. These are natural consequences and are the preliminary symptoms of the bhäva stage, which occurs before one reaches the perfectional stage of prema, love of Godhead.

(SB 2.3.24p)

End Result : A stone like heart transforms into a fish! A fish that can swim in an ocean of love, love for our dear most Sri Sri Radha Shyama. 

And where is such an ocean?

In conclusion to your letter you have asked as to where is the ocean of love? And I think that you may know that it is in your heart.

(Letter to Himavati — Los Angeles 12 December, 1968)

 

So it may not be such a bad idea to pray to Lord Balarama today, on His appearance day, to beg him for spiritual strength, so that we may feel inspired to daily, and carefully, read Bhagavad Gita & Srimad Bhagavatam and that we at least make an endeavor to chant without offences. Lord Balarama is the killer of Dhenukasura (the ass demon). So this ass who is with in us, who still does not listen to instructions of acharaya, can be very easily killed by Lord Balarama. A short and sincere prayer at His lotus feet today can be a good beginning today in our journey of change of heart!

All glories to Sri Guru & Gauranga

All glories to Srila Prabhupada

 

Your servant,

Giriraj dasa

Going back to Godhead

Hare Krishna,

6th November, 2016. Sri Vrindavan dhama.

Going_back_to_Godhead

Last Sunday as I was standing outside Balaram Hall in  Krishna Balaram temple at Vrindavan, a senior mataji, whom I know, stopped me and we had the following conversation.

Mataji : You live in Delhi?

Me : Yes mataji.

Mataji: Do you know what has happened in Delhi ?

Me: No mataji.

Mataji: They have closed all the schools in Delhi

Me: (a little surprised) Why mataji!

Mataji: The pollution level have reached alarming level in Delhi, they are spraying water on the streets. Didn’t you read the news.

Me: I don’t read news mataji, it is indeed a surprise. ( I could still not understand the reason for her anxiety)

Mataji: I have to go to Mumbai and catch a flight from Delhi. I am worried how will I go?

Me: (now I am surprised) Mataji. you will be going in a cab and in any case the pollution levels have been high since many years. Media needs something sensational and they would have put it on the main news. The pollution hasn’t gone up to these levels in just a day. It was already very high.

Mataji: Please read the news on your mobile. It is a very serious situation and I am very really worried.

Me: (a bit amused now, but I spoke with a passive face and seriousness) There is no need to worry mataji. They said even 10 or 20 years back that living in Mumbai (where mataji lives) is equivalent to smoking 20 cigarettes a day. So it’s nothing new for our body, Please rest assure your trip via Delhi will be fine and no need to be anxious.

Mataji, not very enthused with my reply, turned and left, with a worried expression her face.

As I started walking back towards my room I thought how as a devotee we get bothered with so many distractions. We forget whether our main goal is to go back to Mumbai or going back to Godhead.

going-back-to-Godhead-1

Going back to Godhead

While walking back to the room I wished the conversation would have been:

Mataji : Are you aware that we are living in this material world, away from Krishna.

Me: (ashamed) only sometimes mataji.

Mataji : Do you know what all is happening here and what all is supposed to happen as kali-yuga progresses

Me: only a little mataji.

Mataji: Please hear what Srimad Bhagavatam has declared:

Śukadeva Gosvāmī said: Then, O King, religion, truthfulness, cleanliness, tolerance, mercy, duration of life, physical strength and memory will all diminish day by day because of the powerful influence of the Age of Kali.

In Kali-yuga, wealth alone will be considered the sign of a man’s good birth, proper behavior and fine qualities. And law and justice will be applied only on the basis of one’s power.

Men and women will live together merely because of superficial attraction, and success in business will depend on deceit. Womanliness and manliness will be judged according to one’s expertise in sex, and a man will be known as a brāhmaṇa just by his wearing a thread.

A person’s spiritual position will be ascertained merely according to external symbols, and on that same basis people will change from one spiritual order to the next. A person’s propriety will be seriously questioned if he does not earn a good living. And one who is very clever at juggling words will be considered a learned scholar.

A person will be judged unholy if he does not have money, and hypocrisy will be accepted as virtue. Marriage will be arranged simply by verbal agreement, and a person will think he is fit to appear in public if he has merely taken a bath.

A sacred place will be taken to consist of no more than a reservoir of water located at a distance, and beauty will be thought to depend on one’s hairstyle. Filling the belly will become the goal of life, and one who is audacious will be accepted as truthful. He who can maintain a family will be regarded as an expert man, and the principles of religion will be observed only for the sake of reputation.

As the earth thus becomes crowded with a corrupt population, whoever among any of the social classes shows himself to be the strongest will gain political power.

Losing their wives and properties to such avaricious and merciless rulers, who will behave no better than ordinary thieves, the citizens will flee to the mountains and forests.

Harassed by famine and excessive taxes, people will resort to eating leaves, roots, flesh, wild honey, fruits, flowers and seeds. Struck by drought, they will become completely ruined.

 The citizens will suffer greatly from cold, wind, heat, rain and snow. They will be further tormented by quarrels, hunger, thirst, disease and severe anxiety.

The maximum duration of life for human beings in Kali-yuga will become fifty years.

By the time the Age of Kali ends, the bodies of all creatures will be greatly reduced in size, and the religious principles of followers of varṇāśrama will be ruined. The path of the Vedas will be completely forgotten in human society, and so-called religion will be mostly atheistic. The kings will mostly be thieves, the occupations of men will be stealing, lying and needless violence, and all the social classes will be reduced to the lowest level of śūdras. Cows will be like goats, spiritual hermitages will be no different from mundane houses, and family ties will extend no further than the immediate bonds of marriage. Most plants and herbs will be tiny, and all trees will appear like dwarf śamī trees. Clouds will be full of lightning, homes will be devoid of piety, and all human beings will have become like asses. At that time, the Supreme Personality of Godhead will appear on the earth. Acting with the power of pure spiritual goodness, He will rescue eternal religion.

(SB 12.2.1-17)

Me: (very surprised) Really!!

Mataji: Of course, don’t you read Bhagavatam daily?

Me: (ashamed) No mataji.

Mataji: well you should read it. You can now read Bhagavatam on your mobile also, there so many apps.

Me: (more ashamed) Actually I have downloaded all those apps but I do not get time to read SB.

Mataji : I am really worried about future. Should we wait for the Kali yuga to progress at a rapid pace to realise the urgency of going back to Godhead.

Me: (very ashamed) I will start reading Srimad Bhagavatam soon.

Mataji : I am really worried. I do not even know when our time will be up and then we will be born again in this Kali-yuga (‘mildly’ practicing Krishna consciousness ensures at least a human birth)

Me: I am very sorry mataji, I will read it the moment I reach back my room, just now, from today onwards. Thank you so much mataji, I am most grateful to you for stopping me and guiding me to get serious about going back to Godhead and the importance of reading Srimad Bhagavatam daily.

I also remember another conversation with very senior devotee last week who cautioned us that Maya is very clever and she catches us at several levels. At first she will try to catch us at four regulative principles. If she is not successful there then she will try to catch us ‘sadhu ninda’ (making offenses against devotees). If she is not successful there then she will catch us with distractions.

What to do?

Närada advises that one should “patiently endure.” This is advice for the devotee. He should fully engage himself in Kåñëa consciousness with the goal of going back to Godhead, and in the meantime he should tolerate the dualities of life. As Lord Kåñëa advises Arjuna, “O son of Kunté, the nonpermanent appearance of happiness and distress, and their disappearance in due course, are like the appearance and disappearance of winter and summer seasons. They arise from sense perception, O scion of Bharata, and one must learn to tolerate them without being disturbed” (Bg. 2.14). “Patiently endure” does not mean that one should stoically put up with life’s dualities and not fully engage in Kåñëa consciousness! The devotee spends all his days and moments wholeheartedly engaged in devotional service, but still he has to contend with material upheavals. So in the face of these inevitable changes, he should patiently endure and go on chanting Hare Kåñëa.

(Narada Bhakto Sutra, 77p)

Be always conscious about…

The symptoms of Kali-yuga are very severe, and they will grow more severe. The duration of Kali-yuga is 432,000 years, and although only 5,000 years of it have passed, already we find so many difficulties, and the more we grow into this Kali-yuga, the more the times will be difficult. The best course, therefore, is to complete our Kåñëa consciousness and return home, back to Godhead. That will save us. Otherwise, if we come back again for another life in Kali-yuga, we shall find difficult days ahead, and we shall have to suffer more and more.

(Teachings of queen Kunti, 15)

 

going-back-to-Godhead

All glories to Sri Guru and Gauranga.

All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

 

We are under the supervision of Srila Rupa Goswami.

Hare Krishna.

15th August, 2016. Gurgaon

“The best way to search for the truth is to follow the path that has previously been gone over by saintly persons and devotees, and by which they have attained the supreme goal of life. Such a path is always free from all kinds of obstacles and hindrances to our progress, and by following it one very quickly attains the desired result.”

(BRS 1.2.100)

Priti Vardhana Prabhuji

By Lord’s mercy I was very fortunate to get association of HG Priti Vardhana Prabhuji while coming back from Vrindavan to Gurgaon few days back. During our two and half hour ride I had some amazing discussions with prabhuji. During that discussion I shared with prabhuji how I am struggling on a particular aspect of being conscious of Krishna and requested Prabhuji to kindly help me how to practice it. Prabhuji replied for that I will have to read Upadesamrta (Nectar of Instruction). I was surprised because as far I knew Srila Rupa Goswami did not touch the particular topic I was struggling in this book. I asked Prabhuji in which verse or purport I can find this topic. Prabhuji’ reply further stumped me- the first four verses! Seeing the  puzzled expression on my face, Prabhuji clarified: you have to first start practicing these first four verses of Upadesamrta and only then I can hope to develop a consciousness to help me understand and practice the area I am currently struggling with. It was a wake up call for me to start practicing what I was reading and not merely understanding it philosophically.

Rupa_Goswami

Today is the disappearance Day of Srila Rupa Goswami

I was thinking what to read on the disappearance day of Srila Rupa Goswami today. After some thinking I felt inspired to check what HG Priti Vardhana prabhuji had told me few days back. I started writing what are the qualities in each of the first four verses of Upadesamrta and where do I stand vis-à-vis each of them. It was a mixture of embarrassment and some hope!

On the auspicious occasion of disappearance day of Srila Rupa Goswami we can do this exercise to write down these qualities on one side of a paper and then in front of each quality we can write down how are we situated and compare, say 1 year back, and see how is our progress under each quality.  It might turn out to be a good reality check!

Here the first four verses:

vāco vegaṁ manasaḥ krodha-vegaṁ  jihvā-vegam udaropastha-vegam
etān vegān yo viṣaheta dhīraḥ  sarvām apīmāṁ pṛthivīṁ sa śiṣyāt

A sober person who can tolerate the urge to speak, the mind’s demands, the actions of anger and the urges of the tongue, belly and genitals is qualified to make disciples all over the world.

atyāhāraḥ prayāsaś ca  prajalpo niyamāgrahaḥ
jana-saṅgaś ca laulyaṁ ca ṣaḍbhir bhaktir vinaśyati

One’s devotional service is spoiled when he becomes too entangled in the following six activities: (1) eating more than necessary or collecting more funds than required; (2) over-endeavoring for mundane things that are very difficult to obtain; (3) talking unnecessarily about mundane subject matters; (4) practicing the scriptural rules and regulations only for the sake of following them and not for the sake of spiritual advancement, or rejecting the rules and regulations of the scriptures and working independently or whimsically; (5) associating with worldly-minded persons who are not interested in Kṛṣṇa consciousness; and (6) being greedy for mundane achievements.

utsāhān niścayād dhairyāt tat-tat-karma-pravartanāt
saṅga-tyāgāt sato vṛtteḥ ṣaḍbhir bhaktiḥ prasidhyati

There are six principles favorable to the execution of pure devotional service: (1) being enthusiastic, (2) endeavoring with confidence, (3) being patient, (4) acting according to regulative principles [such as śravaṇaṁ kīrtanaṁ viṣṇoḥ smaraṇam – hearing, chanting and remembering Kṛṣṇa], (5) abandoning the association of nondevotees, and (6) following in the footsteps of the previous ācāryas. These six principles undoubtedly assure the complete success of pure devotional service.

dadāti pratigṛhṇāti guhyam ākhyāti pṛcchati
bhuṅkte bhojayate caiva ṣaḍ-vidhaṁ prīti-lakṣaṇam

Offering gifts in charity, accepting charitable gifts, revealing one’s mind in confidence, inquiring confidentially, accepting prasāda and offering prasāda are the six symptoms of love shared by one devotee and another.

(Verses 1-4, Upadesamrta)

We may list down the qualities described in these four verses as below

Verse 1 : Becoming a sober person by tolerating these six urges

  • Urge to speak
  • the mind’s demands
  • the actions of anger
  • urge of tongue
  • urge of belly
  • urge of genitals

Verse 2: Not to get too entangled in the below six activities

  • Eating more than necessary or collecting more funds than required
  • over-endeavoring for mundane things that are very difficult to obtain
  • talking unnecessarily about mundane subject matters
  • practicing the scriptural rules and regulations only for the sake of following them and not for the sake of spiritual advancement, or rejecting the rules and regulations of the scriptures and working independently or whimsically
  • associating with worldly-minded persons who are not interested in Kṛṣṇa consciousness
  • being greedy for mundane achievements.

Verse 3: Six principles favourable to devotional service

  • being enthusiastic
  • endeavoring with confidence
  • being patient
  • acting according to regulative principles [such as śravaṇaṁ kīrtanaṁ viṣṇoḥ smaraṇam – hearing, chanting and remembering Krishna]
  • abandoning the association of non-devotees,
  • following in the footsteps of the previous ācāryas.

Verse 4: Practicing six symptoms of love shared between devotees

  • Offering gifts in charity
  • accepting charitable gifts
  • revealing one’s mind in confidence
  • inquiring confidentially
  • accepting prasāda
  • offering prasāda

Let’s read few gems Srila Prabhupada wrote on the process given by Srila Rupa Goswami in Upadesamrta

The Krishna consciousness movement is conducted under the supervision of Srila  Rupa Goswami.

In all spiritual affairs, one’s first duty is to control his mind and senses.

Upadeśāmṛta constitutes the first instructions for neophyte devotees. (!!)

(Nectar of Instruction, preface)

Self-realisation is not so cheap!

Yoga means training the mind and the senses to be fixed on the Self. This is not possible by meditating only fifteen minutes a day and then going out and doing whatever the senses dictate. How can the problems of life be solved so cheaply? If we want something precious, we have to pay for it.

(Path of Perfection, chapter 5)

From go-däsa to goswami…

The nature of the mind is flickering and unsteady. But a self-realized yogi has to control the mind; the mind should not control him. At the present moment, the mind is controlling us (go-däsa). The mind is telling us, “Please, why not look at that beautiful girl?” and so we look… “Why not go to this restaurant for such palatable food? Why not do this? Why not do that?” In this way, the mind is dictating, and we are following. Material life means being controlled by the senses, or the mind, which is the center of all the senses. Being controlled by the mind means being controlled by the senses, because the senses are the mind’s assistants. The master mind dictates, “Go see that,” and the eyes, following the directions of the mind, look at the sense object. The mind tells us to go to a certain place, and the legs, under the mind’s directions, carry us there. Thus, being under the direction of the mind means coming under the control of the senses. If we can control the mind, we will not be under the control of the senses. One who is under the control of the senses is known as go-däsa. The word go means “senses,” and däsa means “servant.” One who is master of the senses is called goswami, because swami means “master.” Therefore, one who has the title goswami is one who has mastered the senses. As long as one is servant of the senses, he cannot be called a goswami or swami.

(Path of Perfection, chapter 5)

How would I know I am following it properly?

After eating, a man can understand that his hunger has been satisfied; similarly, by following the principles of Krishna consciousness, one can understand that he has advanced in self-realization.

(Path of Perfection, chapter 5)

Each one of us can follow the process given by previous acharyas and make our present life successful by simply endeavoring for it, perfection is not required. And on special days, like today, we can receive extra mercy. So it may not be such a bad idea today to pray to Srila Rupa Goswami with a sincere and honest heart and seek his mercy to help us follow the instructions he left for us.

All glories to the auspicious occasion of disappearance day of Srila Rupa Goswami.

All glories to Sri Guru and Gauranga.

All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

Value of a moment’s association with a pure devotee

Hare Krishna.

14th Feb, 2016. Gurgaon

Srila Prabhupada at Radha Damodar Temple

‘sādhu-saṅga’, ‘sādhu-saṅga’ — sarva-śāstre kaya
lava-mātra sādhu-saṅge sarva-siddhi haya      (CC Madhya 22.54)

“The verdict of all revealed scriptures is that by even a moment’s association with a pure devotee, one can attain all success.

One must be very meek and submissive and try to live peacefully by lending the ear to the speeches of the transcendentally self-realized soul who speaks on the message of Bhägavata-dharma, or the religion of glorifying the Supreme Lord and His devotees. To glorify a great man is a natural instinct for living beings, but they have not learned to glorify the Lord. Perfection of life is attained simply by glorifying the Lord in association with a self-realized devotee of the Lord.* The self-realized devotee is he who surrenders unto the Lord fully and who does not have attachment for material prosperity… It is imperative, therefore, that one sincerely seek the association of pure devotees and hear them patiently and submissively from any position of life. (Srimad-Bhägavatam Introduction)

The best association is the service of the devotees of the Lord, and by that association one can become the highest qualified man by the grace of the Lord’s pure devotees. As we have already seen in the life of Srila Närada Muni, he became the topmost devotee of the Lord simply by the association of pure devotees of the Lord. By birth he was the son of a maidservant and had no knowledge of his father and no academic education, even of the lowest status. But simply by associating with the devotees and by eating the remnants of their foodstuff, he gradually developed the transcendental qualities of the devotees. By such association, his taste for chanting and hearing the transcendental glories of the Lord became prominent, and because the glories of the Lord are nondifferent from the Lord, he got direct association with the Lord by means of sound representation… Therefore the Bhägavatam always recommends the association of the mahat, or the great soul, for opening the gate of salvation.  (SB 2.10.41p)

..a pure devotee, who is preparing to transfer himself to the spiritual kingdom, is also freed from the association of the three modes of material nature. We have to seek the association of such devotees. For this reason we have begun the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. (SB 3.25.24p)

Gopal Krishna Goswami Maharaj

Let me share a recent experience. We were very fortunate that HH Gopal Krishna Goswami Maharaj visited Gurgaon temple on 25th December 2015. During the lecture Maharaj asked how many devotees read Bhagavad Gita daily. Many hands went up, but quiet less as a percentage considering the hall was packed with devotees. Maharaj then spoke about the importance of reading Bhagavad Gita daily and asked everyone to read at least one verse daily and then emphasised ‘with purport’. Now, since 2 years, I have been posting one Bhagavad Gita verse and its purport daily on a few whatsapp groups meant for preaching. Initially I would carefully read it myself but as time passed it became more or less a duty to post it so either I would read it hurriedly or just read the verse skipping the purport entirely. I would read the purport carefully only when someone in those whatsapp groups would ask a question from the purport. Sitting there in front of HH Gopala Krishna maharaj it really hit me that I am posting Bhagavad Gita verse daily for others to read but I am myself skipping the same. I thanked Maharaj in my heart, sought forgiveness from Srila Prabhupada, and promised that from now onward I will diligently read these daily verses I am posting. Now I have made it a point that even if I am in a hurry while posting the verse in the morning and can’t read it that particular time, I do not read anything else till I have read the daily verse. Suddenly reading the daily verse carefully has become a priority for me and it is enriching my minuscule devotional life. This is simply the result of association of a pure devotee, Maharaj’s words hit straight at my heart.

Gopal Krishna Maharaj

…the conclusion is that everyone can become a sädhana-siddha, a devotee of the Lord, simply by association with the pure devotees. ( SB 2.3.15p)

All glories to HH Gopala Krishna Goswami Maharaj.

All glories to Sri Guru and Gauranga.

All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

Let’s progress firmly in Krishna consciousness

Hare Krishna.

7th Feb, 2016. Vrindavana.

Radha Govind Devji Jaipur

Sambandh, abhidheya and prayojana.

“The Vedic literatures give information about the living entity’s eternal relationship with Kṛṣṇa, which is called sambandha. The living entity’s understanding of this relationship and his acting accordingly is called abhidheya. Returning home, back to Godhead, is the ultimate goal of life and is called prayojana.
 
“Devotional service, or sense activity for the satisfaction of the Lord, is called abhidheya because it can develop one’s original love of Godhead, which is the goal of life. This goal is the living entity’s topmost interest and greatest wealth. Thus one attains the platform of transcendental loving service unto the Lord.
 
“When one attains the transcendental bliss of an intimate relationship with Kṛṣṇa, he renders service to Him and tastes the mellows of Kṛṣṇa consciousness.

                                                                                                                                                          — CC Madhya 20.124-126

The whole Vedas are divided into three states. Sambandha: what is our connection with God? That is called sambandha. And then abhidheya. According to that relationship we have to act. That is called abhidheya. And why do we act? Because we have got the goal of life, to achieve the goal of life. So what is the goal of life? The goal of life is that to go back to home, back to Godhead. That is goal of life.

                                                                                                — Srila Prabhupada, Lecture, Madras, 2nd  Jan, 1976

..the Vedānta-sūtra consists of four chapters. The first two chapters discuss the relationship of the living entity with the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This is known as sambandha-jñāna, or knowledge of the relationship. The third chapter describes how one can act in his relationship with the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This is called abhidheya-jñāna. The relationship of the living entity with the Supreme Lord is described by Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu: jīvera ‘svarūpa’ haya kṛṣṇera ‘nitya-dāsa’. “The living entity is an eternal servant of Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme God.” (Cc. Madhya 20.108) Therefore, to act in that relationship one must perform sādhana-bhakti, or the prescribed duties of service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This is called abhidheya-jñāna. The fourth chapter describes the result of such devotional service (prayojana-jñāna). This ultimate goal of life is to go back home, back to Godhead.

                                                                                                                                                              — CC Adi 7 106p

I was hearing a lecture by HH Bhakti Vidyapurna Maharaj on the same topic and Maharaj explained  these three terms in a simpler way as well the relation between them.

Sambandha : attraction, what draws the mind.
Prayojana : attachment.

Both the above are moods, they create feelings but there is no activity.

Abhidheya : This is the actual expression of the above two.

So we become attracted towards Krishna and then due to that attraction we become attached to Krishna and then we want to do something. The real meaning comes with service.

We say mind has three functions: thinking, feeling and willing.

If something is attractive we think about it,  if we are not attracted then we won’t think about it. Feeling is when we get attached to it. Then..willing.. we actually do something about it. So we see Krishna, we become attracted to Krishna then we become attached to Krishna and then we finally want to serve Krishna.

So it is in abhidheya that we understand the knowledge, contemplate on it and then practice that knowledge. It is application. How we are related to Krishna and what we want to achieve, what is it’s purpose.

Abhidheya is the most important and critical part among the three and I am sharing some nectar, which I heard in last few months, on how we, as aspiring devotees, can traverse this wonderful and exciting journey,  making it more enriching and less painful (for us and those around us!)

Who am I and what is my eternal duty?

My real identity is that I’m a servant of Krishna and my duty is to serve Krishna.

My current role as a father, mother, husband, wife, daughter, doctor, businessman, artist, etc. is the ‘service’ Krishna has given me. I have to perform all these ‘services’ but I’m none of these.

jīvera ‘svarūpa’ haya — kṛṣṇera ‘nitya-dāsa’

“It is the living entity’s constitutional position to be an eternal servant of Kṛṣṇa.”

                                                                                                                                         — CC Madhya 20 108

As aspiring devotees we  must drill it in our head that

Krishna is the controller and Krishna is the supreme enjoyer.

Hence, I am not the controller, I am not the enjoyer. (we should practice to remember this when we face challenging situations at home, and everywhere else in our life)

And I’m not even the doer. I can only desire. And Krishna may or may not fulfill all my desires, knowing well what is good for us at this stage.

More importantly, as an aspiring devotee, I should be very conscious of what are my desires ( at least my conscious desires, I have no control at our stage on my subconscious desires, but those too are are changing while I sincerely practice Krishna consciousness). I should daily read scriptures like Bhagavad Gita, Bhagavatam, Caitanya-caritāmṛta or vaishnava prayers and then note down on a piece of paper or a writing pad what should be my desires.

I should then practice to pray for these right kind of desires. It is a very nice sublime and enriching practice to speak and express such desires in front of our deities at home. It is an amazing experience. It also brings a lot of humility as we regularly (if not daily!) realise our helplessness as we fail despite our best intentions. It also acts as a catalyst for urgency and significance of  mercy from above. We realise the minuteness of everything we thought will hold us good in this world, my intelligence, my willpower, even my good intentions…

I can also practice to be more sensitive and contemplate regularly what is happening around me (my circumstances)  and then sincerely beg Srila Prabhupada and Krishna for guidance as to what I have to learn from changing, and challenging, circumstances in my life. This may help me learn without Krishna having to put a bomb under me to wake me up ! Become a conscious cooperator. And I should  be ready to ‘walk the talk’ and face any kind of ‘music’ which may crop up to get me out of my present groove.

Chanting attentively, which means trying to chant Nama conscious and Nama pleasing rounds, will ensure that I am sincerely seeking shelter of the spiritual energy of the Lord.

And in the meantime, whatever be my present ashram or situation, I have to sincerely try hard to practice the culture of Love, and not culture of lust. Every single challenge is training ground for us to progress in Krishna consciousness. I have to aspire and live the ‘madhyam’ culture in my daily life.

All this would definitely be a big struggle but this struggle for Krishna will help me develop my ‘weakened’ spiritual muscles. And this struggle is a very sweet struggle because I’m struggling for Krishna. And there is reciprocation in this struggle, it is NOT one sided, with me acting merely like a puppet. It is a dynamic relationship. It takes two to tango, ashraya and vishaya, subject and the object.

The whole journey is like a child who is learning to walk. He falls down and trips and sometimes gets hurt too. But the child remains enthusiastic, determined and endeavors hard to learn how to walk. And His parents are there to help him. The child too has the confidence that they will protect him. Yet sometimes to a child it may look cruel that even as he is trying hard to walk, the child tries to hold on to a support, struggling to even stand properly, the parent pushes that support a little further away from him. In reality the parent do that because they know it will help the child to learn to walk and gain some confidence in his own ability, even at a slight risk of child falling down on the ground and getting hurt a bit, but they are always next to the child to protect him. As a grown up, the child will always look back and be nothing but grateful to his parents for all their patience to help him walk, realising that they had no selfish interest other than his own benefit.

Same is the case of the beautiful relationship that develops between an aspiring devotee and Krishna. And it is just the beginning of the sweetest relationship a soul can ever taste.

A Note of caution. All these words may help me’understand’ it all this a bit but I will ‘realise’ it only when I practice it in my daily life, this knowledge is for application. And the best time to start practicing is… TODAY!

( As we struggle to implement all the above steps in our life it might be good idea to take shelter of Srila Rupa Goswami (by praying to him, reading his books & going to his samadhi) and praying to Sri Govind Devji (picture above), our acharaya and Deity of abhideya respectively)

Here is a short video of one of the most sweet mangal artis I have ever attended, at Radha Govind Devji temple, Jaipur.

Radhe Govind… Bhajo Radhe Govind, Paar Lagaa Dey Govind,

Jay Sri Radhe Krishna, pyaare Krishna…

राधे गोविन्द  भजो राधे गोविन्द  पार लगादे गोविन्द !!

जय श्री राधे कृष्णा प्यारे कृष्णा…

All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

All glories to Sri Guru and Gauranga.

Taking shelter of Krishna

Hare Krishna.

31st Jan, 2016, Gurgaon.

I am under the weather since yesterday morning and as usual found that falling sick can be quiet a liberating experience as one struggles with the body but can easily experience that our subtle body is still very active. At a different level it can also act as a good circumstance which forces us to learn to depend upon Krishna more as we struggle even with basic bodily functions. At another level it helps us build some much needed ‘spiritual muscle’ as we struggle to stay active in our sadhna and service. Of course, all this didn’t happen to me (merely down with cold and cough) but I can say a little bit of conviction is that the struggle in Krishna consciousness is a very sweet struggle, as we struggle to please Krishna and take shelter of His internal potency rather than fighting and struggling with His material energy. It is an amazing experience, even if we taste it momentary.

desires as elephantdreaming for future in bhakti

I also wanted to share a funny inspiration. The above pictures are two flower pots sitting on the two opposite side of the ledge in our balcony. A few days back I was standing there and started wondering what are these two flower pots doing here and why I have kept them for so long. Then suddenly it dawned upon me that they both represent something deep within me and there is a message for me!

  1. The first picture is that of an elephant shaped flower-pot and has a broken tusk. So this is me, this elephant represent my unlimited material desires. The broken tusk signifies that although I have spent so many years in sense enjoyment, knowing all about material sense enjoyment, yet inspite for being in the path of Krishna consciousness for so many years, and having tasted some glimpse of the higher taste, the desires for sense gratification remains unabated deep inside me.
  2. The second flower-pot is a pig flying in the air. We know the English proverb ‘pigs don’t fly’, it’s a way of saying that something will never happen. So this is the current state of  my devotional life and spiritual aspirations. I keep on day dreaming one day my circumstances will change and I will take Krishna consciousness more seriously and then so and so thing will happen as I will take such and such step to progress fast in Krishna consciousness. Unfortunately all such thinking is just a phantasmagoria and will probably never happen. I need to wake up and take whatever steps I can take now, today, and make whatever little progress I can rather than live in some rosy future which is not going to happen.

I searched for an appropriate prayer to share with everyone and then felt inspired to share the beautiful gem called Gopinath Mama Nivedana Suno, written by Sril Bhaktvinoda Thakura, it’s a prayer worth reading every single day of our life.

gopīnāth, mama nivedana śuno
viṣayī durjana, sadā kāma-rata,
kichu nāhi mora guṇa

gopīnāth, āmāra bharasā tumi
tomāra caraṇe, loinu śaraṇa,
tomāra kińkora āmi

gopīnāth, kemone śodhibe more
nā jāni bhakati, karme jaḍa-mati,
porechi soḿsāra-ghore

gopīnāth, sakali tomāra māyā
nāhi mama bala, jñāna sunirmala,
swādīna nahe e kāyā

gopīnāth, niyata caraṇe sthāna
māge e pāmara, kāndiyā kāndiyā,
korohe karuṇā dāna

gopīnāth, tumi to’ sakali pāro
durjane tārite, tomāra śakati,
ke āche pāpīra āro

gopīnāth, tumi kṛpā-pārābāra
jīvera kāraṇe, āsiyā prapañce,
līlā koile subistāra

gopīnāth, āmi ki doṣe doṣī
asura sakala, pāilo caraṇa,
vinodá thākilo bosi’

TRANSLATION

1) O Gopinatha, Lord of the gopis, please hear my request. I am a wicked materialist, always addicted to worldly desires, and no good qualities do I possess.

2) O Gopinatha, You are my only hope, and therefore I have taken shelter at Your lotus feet. I am now Your eternal servant.

3) O Gopinatha, how will You purify me? I do not know what devotion is, and my materialistic mind is absorbed in fruitive work. I have fallen into this dark and perilous worldly existence.

4) O Gopinatha, everything here is Your illusory energy. I have no strength or transcendental knowledge, and this body of mine is not independent and free from the control of material nature.

5) O Gopinatha, this sinner, who is weeping and weeping, begs for an eternal place at Your divine feet. Please give him Your mercy.

6) O Gopinatha, You are able to do anything, and therefore You have the power to deliver all sinners. Who is there that is more of a sinner than myself?

7) O Gopinatha, You are the ocean of mercy. Having come into this phenomenal world, You expand Your divine pastimes for the sake of the fallen souls.

8) O Gopinatha, I am so sinful that although all the demons attained Your lotus feet, Bhaktivinoda has remained in worldly existence.

(Somehow the last para of this prayer always touch something in my heart!)

All glories to Sri Guru and Gauranga.

All glories to Srila Prabhupada.