‘Other Scriptures’ and devotees

Hare Krishna dear devotees,

śraddhāṁ bhāgavate śāstre
’nindām anyatra cāpi hi
mano-vāk-karma-daṇḍaṁ ca
satyaṁ śama-damāv api

One should have firm faith that he will achieve all success in life by following those scriptures that describe the glories of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Bhagavān. At the same time, one should avoid blaspheming other scriptures. One should rigidly control his mind, speech and bodily activities, always speak the truth, and bring the mind and senses under full control.

(SB 11.3.26)

Many a times in our enthusiasm to show supremacy of one scripture we may unconsciously end up criticising another vedic scripture. Devotees, especially preachers, should be very careful about making, even an unintentional, offence against any vedic scripture.

In the above verse Srimad Bhagavatam is saying that ‘One should have firm faith that he will achieve all success in life by following those scriptures that describe the glories of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Bhagavān’ but in the same verse it is also cautioning us very clearly that “one should avoid blaspheming other scriptures”

Of course, devotees understand that Srimad Bhagavatam is the amala purana, spotless purana, which best describes the glories of Krishna, without any material tinge whatsoever, but at the same time we should not blaspheme other scriptures. The purport of the above verse gives us a very good understanding as to what should be our consciousness in relation to all the other vedic scriptures.

Śrīla Madhvācārya has quoted the following statement from the Brahmāṇḍa Purāṇa: “One should have complete faith in transcendental literature such as Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam and other literature that directly glorifies the Supreme Personality of Godhead. One should also have faith in Vaiṣṇava tantras, the original Vedas, and Mahābhārata,which includes Bhagavad-gītā and which is considered the fifth Veda. The Vedic knowledge originally emanated from the breathing of Viṣṇu, and Vedic literature has been compiled in literary form by Śrīla Vyāsadeva, the incarnation of Viṣṇu. Therefore, Lord Viṣṇu should be understood to be the personal speaker of all this Vedic literature.

Some scriptures may seem mundane, be wary of any criticism

“There are other Vedic literatures, called kalā-vidyā, which give instructions in material arts and sciences. Since all such Vedic arts and sciences are ultimately intended to be used to render devotional service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Keśava, saintly persons in the renounced order of life should never blaspheme such apparently mundane literatures; because such literatures are indirectly connected with the Supreme Lord, one may go to hell for blaspheming these secondary literatures.

So what should be our approach?

Śraddhā indicates a faithful mentality, which can be analyzed in two sections. The first type of faith is a firm conviction that all the statements of the multifarious Vedic literatures are true. In other words, the understanding that Vedic knowledge in general is infallible is called śraddhā, or faith. A second type of faith is the belief that one must personally carry out a particular injunction of Vedic literature in order to achieve his goal in life. A devotee of the Supreme Lord should thus apply the first type of faith to the various kalā-vidyās, or Vedic material arts and sciences, but he should not accept such scriptures as pointing out his personal goal in life. Nor should he carry out any Vedic injunction that is contradictory to the injunctions of Vaiṣṇava scriptures such as the Pañcarātra.

Thus one should faithfully accept all Vedic literature as directly or indirectly describing the Supreme Personality of Godhead and should not blaspheme any portion of it. Even for Lord Brahmā, as well as for other creatures, down to the insignificant unmoving species such as trees and stones, blasphemy of any Vedic literature causes one to merge into the darkness of ignorance. Thus the suras — the demigods, great sages and devotees of the Lord — should understand that the Pañcarātric literatures, as well as the four Vedas, the original Rāmāyaṇa, the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam and other Purāṇas, and the Mahābhārata, are Vedic literatures that establish the supremacy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead and the unique transcendental position of the Lord’s devotees according to their status of spiritual advancement. Any other vision of Vedic literatures is to be considered an illusion. In all authorized religious scriptures the ultimate goal is to understand that the Supreme Personality of Godhead is the controller of everything and everyone, and that the Lord’s devotees are not different from Him, although such devotees are to be understood in terms of their level of spiritual advancement.” Lord Kṛṣṇa has stated in Bhagavad-gītā, vedaiś ca sarvair aham eva vedyo/ vedānta-kṛd veda-vid eva cāham: “By all the Vedas, I am to be known; indeed, I am the compiler of Vedānta, and I am the knower of the Vedas.”

(SB 11.3.26p)

I hope the above verse and its purport gives us a clear direction as what should be our consciousness while speaking with various scriptures.

‘Other scriptures’ also include non-vedic bonafide scriptures!

We may also include scriptures of other bonafide religions also in the definition of ‘other scriptures’ whom we should not criticise.

When we read Srila Prabhupada’s purports we will notice that he quotes from various scriptures, including Bible. Prabhupada wrote how there are different scriptures for people in different modes of nature but he did not criticise any scripture.

God’s service is dharma. This dharma may be described differently in different countries according to different cultural and climatic conditions or situations, but in every religious scripture obedience to God is instructed. No scripture says that there is no God or that we as living entities are independent—not the Bible, the Koran, the Vedas or even the Buddhist literatures.

(Elevation to Krishna Consciousness, chapter 6)

Prabhupada considered other religious scriptures also as shastra!

All the çästras, however, advise nivåtti-märga, or release from the materialistic way of life. Apart from the çästras of the Vedic civilization, which is the oldest of the world, other çästras agree on this point. For example, in the Buddhist çästras Lord Buddha advises that one achieve nirväëa by giving up the materialistic way of life. In the Bible, which is also çästra, one will find the same advice: one should cease materialistic life and return to the kingdom of God.

(SB 6.5.20p)

Similarly Srila Prabhupada translates the word ‘Svadhyayah’ in a verse from Srimad Bhagavatam not as study of only vedic scriptures but also qualifies reading non vedic, bonafide, scriptures.

svädhyäyaùreading of transcendental literatures like Bhagavad-gétä, Çrémad-Bhägavatam, Rämäyaëa and Mahäbhärata (or, for those not in Vedic culture, reading of the Bible or Koran)

(SB 7.11.8-12)

The purity of Srimad Bhagavatam and the vision of a Vaishnava are simply unmatched, and so are their teachings.

All glories to Sri Guru and Gauranga.

All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

your servant,

Giriraj dasa

Where am I in Krishna consciousness!

Hare Krishna my dear devotees,

The last verse which Arjuna speaks in Bhagavad Gita, has many gems for us.

अर्जुन उवाच

नष्टो मोहः स्मृतिर्लब्धा त्वत्प्रसादान्मयाच्युत।

स्थितोऽस्मि गतसन्देहः करिष्ये वचनं तव।।18.73।।

Arjuna said: My dear Krishna, O infallible one, my illusion is now gone. I have regained my memory by Your mercy. I am now firm and free from doubt and am prepared to act according to Your instructions.

Now let us try to churn this verse.

My dear Kṛṣṇa: Krishna is our dear friend , suhṛdaṁ sarva-bhūtānāṁ actually Krishna is our only real friend, and He never let’s His devotee down.

O infallible one: Krishna is known as Achytua .

He never fails in His affection for His devotees, and thus He is addressed herein as infallible…..In all circumstances, He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. 

(BG 1.21-22p)

Krishna is absolute and remains so under all conditions, Krishna is glorified in every single form or lila he manifests. Whether he takes birth inside a prison in Mathura and present Himself as a fully decorated newly born baby with four arms in front  of his wonderstruck parents, or while playing games with his cowherd friends in Vrindavan or stealing butter from the homes of gopis, or  running away from battle- ‘Ranchorh’, even when he manifest Himself as a stone, Shaligram, He is the same Krishna. Like an actor Krishna comes in various guises, sometimes as a bird (swan), as an animal (boar), as a fish or what’s more dramatic than bursting out of a pillar as half lion-half man! His supreme position is never challenged, He is the infallible master in all circumstances.

my illusion is now gone: What is my present consciousness? Am I still living under an illusion even after being in the movement for so long.  Srila Prabhupada writes in his purport – In illusion the living entity is serving in this material world. He is bound by his lust and desires, yet he thinks of himself as the master of the world. This is called illusion.

Am I living a life where I think that I am the controller,  I am the master and I am the enjoyer? Am I gradually developing the consciousness of being a servant of Krishna, which should be my only identity, rest are simply the services Krishna has given me.

The best way to destroy illusion is by daily reading Srila prabhupada’s books. How much is my daily reading?

I have regained my memory: Have I regained me memory as an eternal servant of Krishna? What is my consciousness while interacting with my family, my colleagues at work, …

Srila Prabhupada gives us a very simple solution to revive our lost memory

One’s memory of Kṛṣṇa is revived by chanting the mahā-mantra, Hare Kṛṣṇa. By this practice of chanting and hearing the sound vibration of the Supreme Lord, one’s ear, tongue and mind are engaged. This mystic meditation is very easy to practice, and it helps one attain the Supreme Lord.

(BG 8.8p)

How sincerely am I trying to chant my 16 rounds?

by Your mercy:  We should know by now that we cannot succeed by our own efforts alone. However if our efforts are sincere, and honest, then it will attract Krishna’s mercy. The two finger principle-

Thus although mother Yasoda, in her attempt to bind Krishna, added one rope after another, ultimately she was a failure. When Krishna agreed, however, she was successful. In other words, one must be in transcendental love with Krishna, but that does not mean that one can control Krishna . When Krishna is satisfied with one’s devotional service, He does everything Himself…He reveals more and more to the devotee as the devotee advances in service.

(SB 10.9.15p)

Krishna says in BG 15.15 mattaḥ smṛtir jñānam apohanaṁ ca, from Me come remembrance, knowledge and forgetfulness.

Everything- remembrance, knowledge, forgetfulness is coming from Krishna, everything is in the lotus like hands of Sri Govindadev!

I am now firm: to make progress in bhakti we need to be firm in our enthusiasm, determination and patience! Without them it will be difficult to make progress. We have to be firm in following the process given by Srila Prabhupada, follow four regulative principles, try to chant 16 sincere rounds, everyday read Srila Prabhupada’s books and regularly associate with devotees who are senior than us.

and free from doubt: One way to become free from doubt is by asking questions. Asking questions is a sign of intelligence. We should clear our doubts without hesitation or feeling embarrassed in front of others. Arjuna asked so many questions from Krishna in Bhagavad Gita. Srimad Bhagavatam is all about questions and answers. This is the way to clear our doubts.

Guru Maharaj once told us that even if you do not have any question and may think I have understood everything, still we should ask question so that we can verify if I have understood correctly!

and am prepared: Our primary method to prepare ourselves is by  regular Sravanam kirtanam but we should not forget the golden rule which Srila Prabhupada repeated multiple times sevonmukhe hi jihvādau. 

To associate with the holy name and chant the holy name is to associate with the Personality of Godhead directly. In the Bhakti-rasämåta-sindhu it is clearly said, sevonmukhe hi jihvädau svayam eva sphuraty adaù [Brs. 1.2.234]. The holy name becomes manifest when one engages in the service of the holy name. This service in a submissive attitude begins with one’s tongue. Sevonmukhe hi jihvädau: One must engage his tongue in the service of the holy name. Our Krishna consciousness movement is based on this principle. We try to engage all the members of the Krishna consciousness movement in the service of the holy name. Since the holy name and Krishna are nondifferent, the members of the Krishna consciousness movement not only chant the holy name of the Lord offenselessly, but also do not allow their tongues to eat anything that is not first offered to the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

(CC Adi 8.16p)

to act: Bhakti means action, action in knowledge and with love. That is why Srila Prabhupada translated bhakti as devotional service not devotion. Love  means reciprocation, which naturally culminates in loving service. My actions, coupled with the consciousness with which I am doing it, will attract Krishna’s mercy.

according to Your instructions: To advance in Krishna consciousness we should receive instructions from our diksha/shiksha guru. Generally we may not receive any direct instructions from our guru because we may not have the qualification to follow them. We can, however, prepare ourselves to receive direct instructions by following the primary instruction given at the time of initiation – chant 16 rounds offenselessly!

In the Bhagavad-gétä (18.66) Lord Krishna instructs His disciple Arjuna, “Just surrender unto Me, and I shall protect you from all sinful reactions.” And Arjuna accepts Krishna’s instruction with the words kariñye vacanaà tava: “I will do as You say.” (Bhagavad-gétä 18.73) If we follow Arjuna’s example, we will be in direct contact with Krishna, and we will be able to surmount all difficulties in both our spiritual and material life. We hear the instructions of Krishna via the unbroken chain of disciplic succession (guru-paramparä). Acceptance of these instructions is called çikñä, or voluntarily following the instruction of the spiritual master. The independent nature of the living entity is that he does not want to follow the instructions of another living being, however pure. But when one voluntarily agrees to obey the orders of the spiritual master, one is following the orders of Krishna, and thus one’s life becomes perfect.

(A Second chance, chapter 13)

All glories to Sri Guru and Gauranga.

All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

Your servant,

Giriraj dasa

Churning Srimad Bhagavatam

Hare Krishna dear devotees,

Srila Prabhupada described Srimad Bhagavatam as the encyclopedia of spiritual life and Caitanya Mahaprabhu called it the amala purana (spotless Purana).

We all know the famous Gita Mahatamaya verse :

sarvopanishado gavo, dogdha gopala-nandanah
partho vatsah su-dhir bhokta, dugdham gitamritam mahat

All the Upanisads are like a cow, and the milker of the cow is Lord Shri Krishna, the son of Nanda. Arjuna is the calf, the beautiful nectar of the Gita is the milk, and the fortunate devotees of fine theistic intellect are the drinkers and enjoyers of that milk.

(Gita Mahatmya, verse 6)

Taking a cue from the above, if all the Upanishads are like a cow then

Srimad Bhagavatam is like a Surabhi cow, and the milker of this Surabhi cow is Śukadeva  Gosvāmī. Parīkṣit’s Maharaj is the calf, the ‘rasa’ or mellow of devotional service is the milk, and the paramahaṁsas, devotees who are already on the liberated platform, are the drinkers and enjoyers of this milk.

Here is another gem from Srimad Bhagavatam

parasparānukathanaṁ
pāvanaṁ bhagavad-yaśaḥ
mitho ratir mithas tuṣṭir
nivṛttir mitha ātmanaḥ

One should learn how to associate with the devotees of the Lord by gathering with them to chant the glories of the Lord. This process is most purifying. As devotees thus develop their loving friendship, they feel mutual happiness and satisfaction. And by thus encouraging one another they are able to give up material sense gratification, which is the cause of all suffering.

(SB 11.3.30)

Let us pray to the lotus feet of Srila Prabhupada as we try to churn every line of this verse, simply by his mercy may we be blessed with just a few drops from it!

One should learn how to associate with the devotees of the Lord: To be able to progress in Krishna consciousness and proceed towards the madhyam culture, we need to associate with devotees and develop friendship with them. This is not something which comes naturally to many of us. Bhagavatam knows our conditioning, so it is directing us to ‘learn it’. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura says that Love for Krishna is reflected as friendship with devotees in the material world, they are two sides of the same coin. Sometimes we may excuse ourselves by saying ‘I am an introvert’ or ‘it isn’t my nature to mix with everyone’ but if we wish to make progress in spiritual journey then it is very important to develop friendship with other devotees. We can begin by regularly associating with like minded devotees. We have to shift towards our ‘real’ nature, what is practiced in Goloka.

By gathering with them to chant the glories of the Lord: What do we do when we associate with devotees? Do we share some juicy gossip, of course  about the devotees only, after all we are concerned with them only or do we  share some tricky temple issue, where we ourselves have no influence, or discuss some scandal or ask about the weather or family or so many other topics? Bhagavatam is saying meet and chant the glories of the Lord.

A devotee once shared how he once saw two Mathura Brahmins who met after many years.  When these two Brahmins saw each other from a distance they  started pacing towards each other and then as they came closer the devotee saw that both of them were reciting Bhagavatam verses loudly! The devotee said he was very surprised to witness such an interaction where instead of talking about well being, family, kids, etc. they were spontaneously reciting Bhagavatam verses one after another.

We can appreciate as the strong attachment of Brahmins to Srimad Bhagavatam came out naturally. We can’t imitate them but we can definitely take an inspiration from them and also understand that such strong attachment for Srimad Bhagvatam verses is resulting from a strong attachment to daily reading of Srimad Bhagavatam.

This process is most purifying:  Our bonafide process for internal purification is Sravanam Kirtanam. This has been stressed repeatedly in Srimad Bhagavatam and hundreds of times by Srila Prabhupada in his lectures and purports. Its a very simple and yet effective process.

These nine processes, of which the easiest is çravaëam, hearing the Bhagavad-gétä from the realized person, will turn one to the thought of the Supreme Being. This will lead to remembering the Supreme Lord and will enable one, upon leaving the body, to attain a spiritual body which is just fit for association with the Supreme Lord.

(BG Introduction)

As devotees thus develop their loving friendship, they feel mutual happiness and satisfaction: Srimad Bhagavatam is again stressing that we need to develop, and cultivate, loving friendship with devotees. It may not come naturally to us in the beginning therefore we need to practice it consciously (not artificially).  We will then feel satisfaction, resulting in increased mutual enthusiasm for Krishna consciousness, a feeling of satisfaction and a happiness from within.

Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura describes the transcendental symptom of those devotees who have developed a real taste for hearing & chanting the glories of Krishna, in the association of other devotees, in his commentary of SB 1.5.11 

The devotees hear, and having heard, sing, and having sung, again they hear, since they are not fully satiated. Or if a speaker is present, they hear the glories. If a hearer is present they speak the glories . And, otherwise, they spontaneously sing the glories.

And by thus encouraging one another they are able to give up material sense gratification, which is the cause of all suffering: At our level, one big reason for not progressing in Krishna consciousness is not our inability to chant additional rounds, memorise more verses, and so on but simply because we still have desires (consciously or subconsciously) to enjoy this material world. We very well know that the result of all such desires will be that we come back here again and again.

Now do we know of a more easier, and simpler process, to give up sense gratification than described above? What is aimed, and rarely achieved, by big big jnanis and yogis, can be very easily, and joyfully, achieved even by aspiring devotees. Sometimes our mind may find few solutions sound too easy to be true but then we underestimate the mercy of Krishna and the potency of Srimad Bhagavatam.

The result of such association with devotees is very sweetly described in the purport of this verse –

Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura has pointed out that glorification of the Supreme Lord is especially potent when performed in the association of pure devotees. When devotees engage in saṅkīrtana, chanting the glories of the Lord together, they experience the highest transcendental bliss and satisfaction. Thus they encourage one another to give up material sense gratification, which is based on illicit sexual connections with women. One devotee will say to another, “Oh, you have given up sense gratification. Starting today, I shall also give it up.”

(SB 11.3.30p)

 

Srila Prabhupada sums up!

A place immediately becomes Vaikuṇṭha whenever the holy topics of the Personality of Godhead are discussed by pure devotees. This is the process of śravaṇaṁ kīrtanaṁ viṣṇoḥ, chanting and hearing about the Supreme Lord, Viṣṇu. As the Supreme Lord Himself confirms:

nāhaṁ tiṣṭhāmi vaikuṇṭhe
yogināṁ hṛdayeṣu vā
tatra tiṣṭhāmi nārada
yatra gāyanti mad-bhaktāḥ

“My dear Nārada, actually I do not reside in My abode, Vaikuṇṭha, nor do I reside within the hearts of the yogīs, but I reside in that place where My pure devotees chant My holy name and discuss My form, pastimes and qualities.” Because of the presence of the Lord in the form of the transcendental vibration, the Vaikuṇṭha atmosphere is evoked.

(SB 4.30.35p)

I pray that by the mercy and potency of Srila Prabhupada we can all taste some butter from this milk we tried to churn today.

All glories to Srimad Bhagavatam.

All glories to Sri Guru and Gauranga.

All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

Your servant,

Giriraj dasa

Potency of reading Srila Prabhupada’s Books

Hare Krishna dear devotees,

We all have our own experiences of reading Srila Prabhupada’s books and getting better understanding of our philosophy, principles, etc. As we develop more faith, study his books more carefully, also hear them from the mouth of the pure devotees, then we get realisations in our heart. This blissful and transcendental process forever continues in the life a sincere and a faithful follower, anandambudhi-vardhanam.

Today morning I read a very heart touching purport from Srimad Bhagavatam, (SB 11.3.24p). I am sharing the same with you all, the bold portions are from the above mentioned purport.

Specifically one should study those books which increase one’s desire to serve the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

This touched my heart and also gave me an amazing guide on how to  measure how is my reading. After reading a book I can look back and check “has my desire to serve Krishna increased or not?”

The purport then goes on to emphasize that Srila Prabhupada has written so many book for this purpose only  –

when the principle of svādhyāyam, or Vedic study, is applied to these books, such as Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Bhagavad-gītā As It Is, Caitanya-caritāmṛta and The Nectar of Devotion, the sincere reader becomes infused with the ecstatic determination to serve the Supreme Personality of Godhead.’

Simply reading these lines increased my faith in regularly and carefully reading and studying only Srila Prabhupada books and our goal should be to get infused with bhakti, service to Krishna and His devotees.

The purport ends with these lines-

..nor should one try to read many books to increase his false prestige as a so-called scholar. One should read those books which inspire practical spiritual advancement in knowledge and renunciation, as exemplified by the books of Śrīla Prabhupāda.

Our Acharaya says :

If you want to stay in Krsna Consciousness you will have to develop firm faith in Guru and Sastra. Therefore, you must study my books very scrutinizingly, follow the four regulative principles very strictly and chant 16 rounds daily avoiding the ten offenses. Don’t take this movement as something cheap.

(Srila Prabhupada’s letter to Srutadeva, 30th Oct 1976)

 

All glories to Sri Guru and Gauranga.

All glories to Srila Prabhupada

Your servant,

Giriraj dasa

Changing our outlook

Hare Krishna dear devotees,

Dandavat Pranams.

Hare Krishna dear devotees,

Dandavat Pranams.

Today is the appearance day of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur,  the spiritual master of Srila Prabhupada.

Few weeks ago a senior Vaishnava shared a revolutionary article by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur, which I am sharing with you below. It is deep and very insightful and can give us key(s) to make a very rapid progress in Krishna consciousness by changing our outlook towards the world and our selves.

The world stands in no need of any reformer. The world has a very competent person for guiding its minutest happenings. The person who determines that there is scope for reform of the world, himself stands in need of reform. The world goes on in its own perfect way.

No person can deflect it even the breadth of a hair from the course chalked out for it by providence. When we perceive any change being actually effected in the course of events of this world by the agency of any particular individual, we must know very well that the agent possesses no real power at any stage. The agent finds himself driven forward by a force belonging to a different category from himself. The course of the world does not require to be changed by the agency of any person. What is necessary is to change our outlook on this world.

This was done for the contemporary generation by the mercy of Sri Caitanya. It can only be known to recipients of his mercy. The scriptures declare that it is only necessary to listen with an open mind to the name of Krishna from the lips of a bonafide devotee. As soon as Krishna enters the listening ear, he clears up the vision of the listener so that he no longer has any ambition of ever acting the part of a reformer of any other person, because he finds that nobody is left without the very highest guidance. It is therefore his own reform that he is increasingly able to realize, by the eternally continuing mercy of the Supreme Lord.”

(Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur in The Harmonist, May 1932, issue no. 11)

At first go it may look like going against the preaching spirit of the devotees, but the above golden lines are like the light from the spiritual lighthouse by which all of us, preachers included, can seek the right direction, remain grounded and persist on the right track. If we carefully read above lines repeatedly, and contemplate on them, then we can unlock many a closed doors that may be blocking our progress in Krishna consciousness and receive profound wisdom available via disciplic succession.

As I sat relishing the above lines, trying, unsuccessfully, to seek entry to the above, the famous verse from Sri Isopanisad came into my consciousness.

ओम पूर्णनम अद: पूर्णनम इदं
पूर्णत पूर्णनम उदस्यते
पूर्नस्या पूर्णनम अदय
पूर्णनम एववसिस्यत

The Personality of Godhead is perfect and complete, and because He is completely perfect, all emanations from Him, such as this phenomenal world, are perfectly equipped as complete wholes. Whatever is produced of the Complete Whole is also complete in itself. Because He is the Complete Whole, even though so many complete units emanate from Him, He remains the complete balance.

(Sri Isopanisad, invocation)

 

Srila Prabhupada imbibed this very mood!

“Actually I am not worthy of any one of the words spoken by you but all of them are due to my Spiritual Master Who was so kind to me. In fact I am a worthless person because my Spiritual Master ordered me to take up this work in 1922 but I did not carry his order until 1958, when I was obliged to carry out His order by His arrangement only. This means although I was not very enthusiastic to carry out His order He forced me circumstantially to accept it. So this is His special mercy upon me and I always think about this with gratitude to this exalted personality coming directly from Vaikuntha World and we had the great fortune to meet Him. I think that is the only credit on our part that we happened to meet Him by some ‘ajnata sukriti’ or unknown auspicious activities. He is so kind upon me that when I came to your country, where I was completely unknown, He sent to me some good souls like you unsolicited. So I accept you all as assistants or representatives of my Guru Maharaja Who is still helping me because I am so feeble and unworthy. Anyway, the business which we have taken to work together is neither your business nor my business as far we are personally concerned, but it is the business of Lord Caitanya and His bona fide servants like my Guru Maharaja. Therefore it is the duty of all of us to execute it as nicely as far as possible within our capacity. In other words, we shall just try to discharge our responsible duties faithfully and seriously, then all facilities will come for our help.”

(Srila Prabhupada Letter to Hayagriva dasa, January 1, 1970)

“My Spiritual Master has given me the instruction to spread this movement all over the world and you are my good disciples, are helping me do this. Without your good help I could not have done anything, so practically you can take all the credit for spreading this Krishna Consciousness movement and fulfilling the prophecy of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu. If there is some incident and I claim that no one is cooperating with me or no one will work with me, that is my defect, not theirs. The Vaisnava devotee must think like this. We should not find fault with others and criticize and go away, that is not the Vaisnava way. Better we should always be willing to offer all respects to others and consider them as our superiors always.”

(Srila Prabhupada Letter, August 26, 1972)

This is the ‘safest’ way to make real progress!

 Devotee: You must be higher than the paramahamsa stage, Prabhupada.

Prabhupada: I am lower than you. I am lower than you.

Devotee: You are so beautiful. You are paramahamsa, but still, you are preaching to us.

Prabhupada: No, I am lower than you. I am the lowest of the all creatures. I am simply trying to execute the order of my spiritual master. That’s all. That should be the business of everyone. Try best. Try your best to execute the higher order. That is the safest way of progressing. One may be in the lowest stage, but if he tries to execute the duty entrusted upon him, he is perfect. He may be in lowest stage, but because he is trying to execute the duty entrusted to him, then he is perfect. That is the consideration.”

(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, Surat, December 19, 1970)

Srila Prabhupada’s secret-  he knew who was actually doing it !

“Therefore sometimes, when people say in India, ‘Swamiji, you have done wonderful.’ And yes, I do not know. I’m not a magician. But, so far I am confident that I did not adulterate the words of Krishna. That’s all. That’s my credit.  I did not like to take the position of Krishna. I remained a servant of Krishna, and I spoke what Krishna said. That’s all. This is my secret. So everyone can do that. There is nothing magic. The magic will act as soon as you become a pure devotee of Krishna. The magic will be done by Krishna, not by me or you. He will do it.

(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, Los Angeles, May 19, 1972)

 

All glories to Sri Guru and Gauranga.

All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

 

Your servant,

Giriraj dasa

Transcendental Knowledge

Hare Krishna dear devotees,

I read verse  4.42 from Bhagavad Gita today morning and its amazing purport where Srila Prabhupada not only gives us the summary of the whole chapter 4 but also gives us many keys to open different levels of transcendental knowledge. The chapter itself is titled transcendental knowledge. I am sharing the same. Please chew it slowly.

tasmäd ajïäna-sambhütaà håt-sthaà jïänäsinätmanaù

chittvainaà saàçayaà yogam  ätiñöhottiñöha bhärata

TRANSLATION

Therefore the doubts which have arisen in your heart out of ignorance should be slashed by the weapon of knowledge. Armed with yoga, O Bharata, stand and fight.

(BG 4.42)

PURPORT

The yoga system instructed in this chapter is called sanätana-yoga, or eternal activities performed by the living entity. This yoga has two divisions of sacrificial actions: one is called sacrifice of one’s material possessions, and the other is called knowledge of self, which is pure spiritual activity. If sacrifice of one’s material possessions is not dovetailed for spiritual realization, then such sacrifice becomes material. But one who performs such sacrifices with a spiritual objective, or in devotional service, makes a perfect sacrifice. When we come to spiritual activities, we find that these are also divided into two: namely, understanding of one’s own self (or one’s constitutional position), and the truth regarding the Supreme Personality of Godhead. One who follows the path of Bhagavad-gétä as it is can very easily understand these two important divisions of spiritual knowledge. For him there is no difficulty in obtaining perfect knowledge of the self as part and parcel of the Lord. And such understanding is beneficial, for such a person can easily understand the transcendental activities of the Lord. In the beginning of this chapter, the transcendental activities of the Lord were discussed by the Supreme Lord Himself. One who does not understand the instructions of the Gétä is faithless, and is to be considered to be misusing the fragmental independence awarded to him by the Lord. In spite of such instructions, one who does not understand the real nature of the Lord as the eternal, blissful, all-knowing Personality of Godhead is certainly fool number one. Ignorance can be removed by gradual acceptance of the principles of Kåñëa consciousness. Kåñëa consciousness is awakened by different types of sacrifices to the demigods, sacrifice to Brahman, sacrifice in celibacy, in household life, in controlling the senses, in practicing mystic yoga, in penance, in forgoing material possessions, in studying the Vedas, and in partaking of the social institution called varëäçrama-dharma. All of these are known as sacrifice, and all of them are based on regulated action. But within all these activities, the important factor is self-realization. One who seeks that objective is the real student of Bhagavad-gétä, but one who doubts the authority of Kåñëa falls back. One is therefore advised to study Bhagavad-gétä, or any other scripture, under a bona fide spiritual master, with service and surrender. A bona fide spiritual master is in the disciplic succession from time eternal, and he does not deviate at all from the instructions of the Supreme Lord as they were imparted millions of years ago to the sun-god, from whom the instructions of Bhagavad-gétä have come down to the earthly kingdom. One should, therefore, follow the path of Bhagavad-gétä as it is expressed in the Gétä itself and beware of self-interested people after personal aggrandizement who deviate others from the actual path. The Lord is definitely the supreme person, and His activities are transcendental. One who understands this is a liberated person from the very beginning of his study of Bhagavad-gétä.

This is a gem of a purport and is so potent that one can achieve liberation simply by carefully studying and applying its essence.

HG Bhurijana Prabhu divides this purport into five sections in his book Surrender unto me. Inspired from those titles I am adding little comments.

  1. The Goal of sacrifice (Part 1)

Sacrifices themselves are not the goal. They are means to achieve a goal. The same sacrifice could result in a material or spiritual goal depending simply on the consciousness with which we are doing it.

Today is Ekadasi. Many people in India keep Ekadasi fast, some out of family tradition, some have heard or read about the unlimited piety it brings but devotees keep it simply to please Krishna. So the same sacrifice will culminate in different results for the different people though the act of sacrifice is  apparently the same. So our purpose should always be spiritual. Srila Prabhupada writes

One who performs such sacrifices with a spiritual objective, or in devotional service, makes a perfect sacrifice.

2. Two levels of spiritual knowledge

a) understanding of one’s own self (or one’s constitutional position), and

b) the truth regarding the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

Srila Prabhupada gives the synopsis of this transcendental knowledge in his purport of BG 4.35

For want of sufficient knowledge in the absolute science, we are now covered with illusion, and therefore we think that we are separate from Kṛṣṇa. Although we are separated parts of Kṛṣṇa, we are nevertheless not different from Him. The bodily difference of the living entities is māyā, or not actual fact. We are all meant to satisfy Kṛṣṇa. By māyā alone Arjuna thought that the temporary bodily relationship with his kinsmen was more important than his eternal spiritual relationship with Kṛṣṇa. The whole teaching of the Gītā is targeted toward this end: that a living being, as Kṛṣṇa’s eternal servitor, cannot be separated from Kṛṣṇa, and his sense of being an identity apart from Kṛṣṇa is called māyā. The living entities, as separate parts and parcels of the Supreme, have a purpose to fulfill. Having forgotten that purpose since time immemorial, they are situated in different bodies, as men, animals, demigods, etc. Such bodily differences arise from forgetfulness of the transcendental service of the Lord. But when one is engaged in transcendental service through Kṛṣṇa consciousness, one becomes at once liberated from this illusion.

3. Transcendental nature of Supreme Lord

In the beginning verses of this chapter Krishna spoke how He first gave this transcendental knowledge to sun-god, Vivasvān, millions of years ago and it was being passed down via parampara but then it got lost. And how Krishna, unlike Arjuna, remembers all His previous births. Then Krishna declares in BG 4.6

Although I am unborn and My transcendental body never deteriorates, and although I am the Lord of all living entities, I still appear in every millennium in My original transcendental form.

Srila Prabhupada writes in his purport

In spite of such instructions, one who does not understand the real nature of the Lord as the eternal, blissful, all-knowing Personality of Godhead is certainly fool number one.

4. The Goal of sacrifice (part 2)

They are so many different kinds of sacrifices mentioned in vedas and , Srila Prabhupada, writes

All of them are based on regulated action. But within all these activities, the important factor is self-realization. One who seeks that objective is the real student of Bhagavad-Gita.

Even big big jnanis and yogis, what to speak of normal people, get bewildered as to what exactly self realisation means. Actual self realisation means God realisation. They may sound different but are firmly inter-linked.

Self realization means God realization, and God realization means self realization. Just like to see the sun means to see oneself, and to see oneself means to see the sun. Self realization depends completely upon God realization, or else it is not complete. One must know his relationship to the Absolute Truth to fully know his position. The mayavadi school simply discerns spirit from matter, but that is not Ultimate Knowledge. One should know the different manifestations of the spirit also. The highest manifestation of the spirit soul is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Krishna.

(letter to Vilasavigraha Prabhu, 22nd Jan 1969)

5. Properly learning transcendental knowledge

One should learn this knowledge from a bonafide spiritual master coming in the authorised line of disciplic succession. Krishna says in BG 4.2

This supreme science was thus received through the chain of disciplic succession, and the saintly kings understood it in that way. But in course of time the succession was broken, and therefore the science as it is appears to be lost.

Arjuna, Krishna’s friend & devotee, also an eternal associate of Krishna, become an instrument to give this knowledge to the whole world. Similarly Srila Prabhupada, not only a great devotee of Lord Krishna and one of the greatest acharayas in last hundred years, coming in the line of exalted Gaudia vaishanavas, also an  eternal associate of Krishna, became an instrument to spread this transcendental knowledge worldwide.

Why it is so important to hear this from a bonafide spiritual master?

Srila Prabhupada writes

he does not deviate at all from the instructions of the Supreme Lord as they were imparted

So the message is passed on ‘as it is’ without any deviation or personal interpretation. That’s why ISKCON’S version of Bhagavad Gita is called Bhagavad Gita As it is.

And what will be the result of following all the above points sincerely?

Srila Prabhupada writes at the end of his purport

One who understands this is a liberated person from the very beginning of his study of Bhagavad-gītā.

It is simply our good fortune that we have somehow taken shelter of Srila Prabhupada’s lotus feet and are trying to become Krishna consciousness. Where else can one read a verse from one of the begining chapters of Bhagavad and not only get the summary of the whole chapter but if one applies it with proper faith then one can get liberation at this stage itself! This is the potency of reading Bhaktivedanta purports.

I feel unqualified to understand, receive or apply this knowledge!

The qualification required to unlock the wealth in Prabhupada’s purports is simply our faith, sincerity and seriousness to become Krishna consciousness. That’s all, not how much knowledge I have or how much austerity I can perform or even my lifestyle before coming in touch with the devotees. None of this matters. What matters is how sincerely I desire and wish to change now. Our past is not a hindrance.

How?

We all know that when bed sheets gets spoiled and strained ( say sheet used by small babies on which they have passed urine etc.). These strains on the sheets doesn’t go despite all the washing and scrubbing.  But an experienced and  intelligent mother knows that by hanging these sheets daily in the bright sun not only the sheet get germ free but they will also gradually becomes strain free. Similarly when we come in touch with this transcendental knowledge then not only our past karmic reactions are gone but gradually our consciousness starts becoming pure and we can make rapid progress in self realisation despite what all may have been our past life (or lives).

This is the potency and the result of regularly, and carefully, studying Srila Prabhupada’s books. Everything will get gradually revealed in our heart by his mercy and potency. This is our simple, proven and bonafide process for receiving all transcendental knowledge.

All glories to Sri Guru and Gauranga.

All glories to Srila Prabhupada. 

your servant,

Giriraj dasa

Why did Srila Prabhupada speak so strongly against Mayavada?

Hare Krishna dear devotees,

Sometimes this question gets popped up in discussions ‘why did Srila Prabhupada speak so much against mayavada and voidism?’ He went head on against both the philosophies.  For many of us who were brought in a broad minded liberal mindset (read hodge-podge) such sharp criticism, coming specially from a highly evolved spiritual personality, may seem a bit out of place.

Srila Prabhupada’s pranama mantra itself boldly declares his intention, and scope, in no uncertain terms.

नमःॐविष्णुपादय, कृष्णपृष्ठायभूतले, श्रीमतेभक्तिवेदांतस्वामिनइतिनामिने।

नमस्तेसरस्वतेदेवेगौरवाणीप्रचारिणे,  निर्विशेषशून्य-वादीपाश्चात्यदेशतारिणे।।

I offer my respectful obeisances unto His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, who is very dear to Lord Krishna, having taken shelter at His lotus feet. Our respectful obeisances are unto you, O spiritual master, servant of Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Goswami. You are kindly preaching the message of Lord Chaitanyadeva and delivering the Western countries, which are filled with impersonalism and voidism.

HG Bhurijana Prabhu, in a recent class, shared an interesting pastime during a program in Japan, when Srila Prabhupada, did not let a mayavadi sanyasi speak for too long, starting a impromptu Kirtan in the middle of his speech, much to the bewilderment of the audience. Srila Prabhupada, later, shared with his disciples that he could tolerate the mayavadi sanyasi for some time but when he started speaking that Supreme Lord has no form, no senses, can not talk and so on, then Prabhupada could not tolerate it any more! HG Bhurijan Prabhu said that such is the love Srila Prabhupada has for Krishna that he could not tolerate anyone speaking that his beloved and most beautiful Lord does not possess any beauty, any form, any taste, etc. It simply showed his level of attachment to Krishna. 

Whats so wrong these philosophies?

Krishna says in BG 4.10

vīta-rāga-bhaya-krodhā man-mayā mām upāśritāḥ
bahavo jñ
āna-tapasā pūtā mad-bhāvam āgatāḥ

Being freed from attachment, fear and anger, being fully absorbed in Me and taking refuge in Me, many, many persons in the past became purified by knowledge of Me — and thus they all attained transcendental love for Me.

Krishna is saying that once one gets free from attachment, fear & anger, and being aware that He is the Supreme Lord and everyone is  His part and parcel, surrendering unto Him, then one become fully absorbed in Him. And the result of such an absorption, based on knowledge (not just sentiments),  is that one will attain transcendental love for Krishna, our final goal.

Srila Prabhupada begins his purport to the above verse :  It is very difficult for a person who is too materially affected to understand the personal nature of the Supreme Absolute Truth.

Srila Prabhupada then goes into detail, in the same purport, and explains the three popular philosophies prevalent in western countries

  1. Materialism
  2. Mayavada
  3. Voidism

Materialists: People who are attached to the bodily conception of life are so absorbed in materialism that it is almost impossible for them to understand how the Supreme can be a person. Such materialists cannot even imagine that there is a transcendental body which is imperishable, full of knowledge and eternally blissful. In the materialistic concept, the body is perishable, full of ignorance and completely miserable. Therefore, people in general keep this same bodily idea in mind when they are informed of the personal form of the Lord. For such materialistic men, the form of the gigantic material manifestation is supreme.

Mayavada : Consequently they consider the Supreme to be impersonal. Generally, because they are too materially absorbed, the conception of retaining the personality after liberation from matter frightens them. When they are informed that spiritual life is also individual and personal, they become afraid of becoming persons again, and so they naturally prefer a kind of merging into the impersonal void. Generally, they compare the living entities to the bubbles of the ocean, which merge into the ocean. That is the highest perfection of spiritual existence attainable without individual personality. This is a kind of fearful stage of life, devoid of perfect knowledge of spiritual existence.

Voidism: Furthermore there are many persons who cannot understand spiritual existence at all. Being embarrassed by so many theories and by contradictions of various types of philosophical speculation, they become disgusted or angry and foolishly conclude that there is no supreme cause and that everything is ultimately void. Such people are in a diseased condition of life.

So, surprisingly, the rāga-bhaya-krodhā (attachment, fear and anger) Krishna is speaking about are not exactly how we understand these terms, in reality they mean

  • attachment to material life
  • fear of a spiritual personal identity
  • the conception of void that arises from frustration in life

How do I get free from them?

To get free from these three stages of the material concept of life, one has to take complete shelter of the Lord, guided by the bona fide spiritual master, and follow the disciplines and regulative principles of devotional life.

Srila Prabhupada then writes the complete road map, from faith to Prema, via Krishna consciousness

“In the beginning one must have a preliminary desire for self-realization. This will bring one to the stage of trying to associate with persons who are spiritually elevated. In the next stage one becomes initiated by an elevated spiritual master, and under his instruction the neophyte devotee begins the process of devotional service. By execution of devotional service under the guidance of the spiritual master, one becomes free from all material attachment, attains steadiness in self-realization, and acquires a taste for hearing about the Absolute Personality of Godhead, Śrī Kṛṣṇa. This taste leads one further forward to attachment for Kṛṣṇa consciousness, which is matured in bhāva, or the preliminary stage of transcendental love of God. Real love for God is called prema, the highest perfectional stage of life.” In the prema stage there is constant engagement in the transcendental loving service of the Lord.

So this is the role Srila Prabhupada is playing in Krishna’s (actually Mahaprabhu’s)  plan for mass liberation, to save the suffering souls in  kali-yuga by

  1. freeing us from material attachment, rāga (sense gratification)
  2. freeing us from the fearfulness of one’s individual spiritual personality, bhaya (mayavada)
  3. freeing us from the frustration that results in void philosophy, krodhā (voiodism)

Prabhupada through his books, instructions and lectures gave the suffering humanity a complete, and solid, path leading to the highest stage, Krishna Prema, Love of Godhead, ultimately leading to the abode of the Supreme Lord- Goloka Vrindavana. All his activities, all the resources which came by his side, were used by him in Krishna’s service, till his very last breath. Prabhupada walked the path Krishna planned for him, similar to how Arjuna followed Krishna’s instructions and fought the war in Kurukshetra, which Krishna had already planned. Both of them became an instrument in Krishna’s hands with no self interest or self desire. This movement is popularly known as ‘Hare Krishna’ all over the world, he did not name it after himself. So all over the world people became aware of Krishna’s name but who is Srila Prabhupada!

Krishna says there is no greater devotee!

tasmān mayy arpitāśea-kriyārthātmā nirantara
mayy arpit
ātmana puso mayi sannyasta-karmaa
na pa
śyāmi para bhūtam akartu sama-darśanāt

Therefore I do not find a greater person than he who has no interest outside of Mine and who therefore engages and dedicates all his activities and all his life — everything — unto Me without cessation.

(SB 3.29.33)

Srila Prabhupada writes in the purport of above verse :

In this verse the word sama-darśanāt means that he no longer has any separate interest; the devotee’s interest and the Supreme Personality of Godhead’s interest are one. For example, Lord Caitanya, in the role of a devotee, also preached the same philosophy. He preached that Kṛṣṇa is the worshipful Lord, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and that the interest of His pure devotees is the same as His own.

Prabhupada again bashes up the mayavada theory!

Sometimes Māyāvādī philosophers, due to a poor fund of knowledge, define the word sama-darśanāt to mean that a devotee should see himself as one with the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This is foolishness. When one thinks himself one with the Supreme Personality of Godhead, there is no question of serving Him. When there is service, there must be a master. Three things must be present for there to be service: the master, the servant and the service. Here it is clearly stated that he who has dedicated his life, all his activities, his mind and his soul — everything — for the satisfaction of the Supreme Lord, is considered to be the greatest person.

The word akartuḥ means “without any sense of proprietorship.” Everyone wants to act as the proprietor of his actions so that he can enjoy the result. A devotee, however, has no such desire; he acts because the Personality of Godhead wants him to act in a particular way. He has no personal motive. When Lord Caitanya preached Kṛṣṇa consciousness, it was not with the purpose that people would call Him Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead; rather, He preached that Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme Personality of Godhead and should be worshiped as such. A devotee who is a most confidential servant of the Lord never does anything for his personal account, but does everything for the satisfaction of the Supreme Lord. Therefore it is clearly stated, mayi sannyasta-karmaṇaḥ: the devotee works, but he works for the Supreme. It is also stated, mayy arpitātmanaḥ: “He gives his mind unto Me.” These are the qualifications of a devotee, who, according to this verse, is accepted as the highest of all human beings.

So in a way Srila Prabhupada became the hand of Krishna. This hand went to the lowest depths on this planet. And to save us he had to smash the very foundation of  senseless material gratification, mayavada & voidism, to free us from material attachment, fear and anger. Thereby delivering and uplifting millions of souls from the very bottom of the pit to the highest platform of Vaishnavism.

The Absolute Nature ofSad-guru’

In a sense guru is like the hand attached to the body of God, Who is all existence, all intelligence, and all bliss (sac-cid-änanda-vigraha). With His hand, God rubs His own feet. The hand of God is His own limb. In this case God is serving Himself. God Himself appears as the guru in order to teach how to serve Himself. Our Gurudeva is also one with the body of God. There is God to be served, there is also God who serves; God as object and God as support. Mukunda is God to be served, He is the object God. The most beloved of Mukunda, Çré Gurudeva, is serving God, the support. There is no one so dearly loved by God as our Gurudeva. He alone is the best beloved of the Lord.

Çrila Bhaktisiddhänta Sarasva Öhäkura, Vyäsa-Püja lecture, 1936.

 

All glories to Sri Guru and Gauranga.

All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

your servant,

Giriraj dasa

Personal prayers should be part of our daily sadhna

Hare Krishna.

Pray! who, me?

As aspiring devotes we should know that it is spiritual ‘best practice’ to make prayers an important part of our daily sadhna.

Of course, we are aware (but are we conscious of it?) that prayer, vandanam, is part of nine limbs of bhakti and even following a single limb perfectly can help us reach our final goal. We should also know that each pranam manatra which we speak is a prayer to Krishna, Deity, Acharaya & Guru. Being aware of the importance of power of prayers, Srila Prabhupada very much ingrained them into daily program of our society. In fact reading and meditating on our daily temple prayer’s translation alone is a most purifying and uplifting experience.

Yet many a times we fall into laziness, lack of faith, ignorance- I am too junior for Krishna to hear me, I am not surrendered enough,….. a long list of excuses. But actually it is to overcome these very impediments we need to pray more. Personal prayers also help us establish a very solid relation with Krishna, our favorite Deity , Srila Prabhupada, Srimad Bhagavatam, Bhagavad Gita…. What matters most , at our baby stage,  is our sincerity and an open heart.

Yet many, if not most, of the times, as conditioned Kali-yugians, whenever we are faced with some challenge, we invariably fall for the below two standard options

  1. I will sort it out.
  2. I will figure it out.

In reality we can neither sort it out (karma) nor figure it out (jnana). And even when we come into devotional life, due to past conditioning, our standard reaction is for most of the situations is still to opt for these two solutions. We swing like a pendulum between these two options.  Unfortunately they have a very limited, if at all any, role to play in our daily struggle whether, so called, material or spiritual. The real solution lies in taking shelter of lotus feet of Krishna and our prayers form a very important part of this very process of taking shelter.

Lamentation is useless!

Both the mother and the son were lamenting Dhruva Mahäräja’s having been insulted by his stepmother and his father’s not having taken any step on this issue. But mere lamentation is useless—one should find out the means to mitigate one’s lamentation. Thus both mother and son decided to take shelter of the lotus feet of the Lord because that is the only solution to all material problems.

(SB 4.8.24p)

We are in a helpless condition..accept it..pray for help…and get released!

This is struggle for existence… Everyone is struggling. But what you will struggle in the ocean? You may be a very big swimmer, but how long you shall swim? You will be tired. The only means is to take you out of the ocean. Even one inch above the ocean is your safety. It doesn’t matter how many inches you are taken from the ocean. Similarly, the prayer is, “My dear Lord Kåñëa, I am your eternal servant. Somehow or other, I am now fallen in this ocean. Please pick me up and fix me again as the dust of Your lotus feet.” This is the prayer. So we should know in what dangerous position we are. Then there is necessity of prayer. And prayer to whom? To the Supreme Person to save us. Therefore there are so many prayers in the çästra. Prayers means addressing the Lord to save us from this. The real saving is to pick us up from this ocean of nescience, ignorance. Then everything is all right.

(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, Durban, 7th Oct, 1975)

Krishna is known as Uttamshloka!

Another name of the Supreme Personality of Godhead is Uttamaçloka, which means that He is offered prayers with selected verses. Bhakti means çravaëaà kértanaà viñëoù [SB 7.5.23], chanting and hearing about Lord Viñëu. Impersonalists cannot be purified, for they do not offer personal prayers to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Even though they sometimes offer prayers, the prayers are not directed toward the Supreme Person. Impersonalists sometimes show their incomplete knowledge by addressing the Lord as being nameless. They always offer prayers indirectly, saying, “You are this, You are that,” but they do not know to whom they are praying. A devotee, however, always offers personal prayers. A devotee says, govindam ädi-puruñaà tam ahaà bhajämi : “I offer my respectful obeisances unto Govinda, unto Kåñëa.” That is the way to offer prayers. If one continues to offer such personal prayers to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, he is eligible to become a pure devotee and return home, back to Godhead.

(SB 6.9.47p)

Krishna accepts our prayers

No amount of chosen words are sufficient to enumerate the Lord’s glory, yet He is satisfied by such prayers, just as a father is satisfied even by the broken linguistic attempts of a growing child.

(TQK, chapter 26)

Difficult made easy for kali-yugians!

Lord Siva says:

Although rendering devotional service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead and worshiping Him are very difficult, if one vibrates or simply reads this stotra [prayer] composed and sung by me, he will very easily be able to invoke the mercy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

To become a devotee of Lord Kṛṣṇa, Vāsudeva, is very, very difficult. The word especially used in this connection is durārādhyam. The worship of the demigods is not very difficult, but becoming a devotee of Lord Vāsudeva, Kṛṣṇa, is not so easy. However, if one adheres to the principles and follows in the footsteps of the higher authorities, as advised by Lord Śiva, one can easily become a devotee of Lord Vāsudeva.

(SB 4.24.76+p)

Sing prayers written by previous acharayas and Mahajans

Just like we offer prayers from Brahma-saàhitä. We cannot offer prayer from any other persons, written by any other nonsense. No, that is not possible. Viriïca-gétäù. There is power. If you recite the prayers composed by mahäjana, it has got spiritual power.

( Srila Prabhupada Lecture, Mayapur, 25th Feb 1976)

What should be my mood while praying?

Prahläda said, “I am not proud of being able to offer prayers to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. I simply take shelter of the mercy of the Lord, for without devotion one cannot appease Him. One cannot please the Supreme Personality of Godhead simply by dint of high parentage or great opulence, learning, austerity, penance or mystic power. Indeed, these are never pleasing to the Supreme Lord, for nothing can please Him but pure devotional service. Even if a nondevotee is a brähmaëa qualified with the twelve brahminical symptoms, he cannot be very dear to the Lord, whereas if a person born in a family of dog-eaters is a devotee, the Lord can accept his prayers. The Lord does not need anyone’s prayers, but if a devotee offers his prayers to the Lord, the devotee benefits greatly. Ignorant persons born in low families, therefore, can sincerely offer heartfelt prayers to the Lord, and the Lord will accept them. As soon as one offers his prayers to the Lord, he is immediately situated on the Brahman platform.

(SB 7.9 summary)

Then the final result..

According to great learned scholars, the whole Bhagavad-gétä contains many authorized prayers, especially in the Eleventh Chapter, where Arjuna prays to the universal form of the Lord. Similarly, in the Gautaméya-tantra all the verses are called prayers. Again, in Çrémad-Bhägavatam there are hundreds of prayers to the Lord. So a devotee should select some of these prayers for his recitation. In Skanda Puräëa the glories of these prayers are stated as follows: ‘Devotees whose tongues are decorated always with prayers to Lord Kåñëa are always given respect even by the great saintly persons and sages, and such devotees are actually worshipable by the demigods.’….

In the Nåsiàha Puräëa it is stated, ‘Any person who comes before the Deity of Lord Kåñëa and begins to chant different prayers is immediately relieved from all the reactions of sinful activities and becomes eligible, without any doubt, to enter into the Vaikuëöhaloka.

(NoD, chapter 9)

Prayers of Vritasura

  • O my Lord, O Supreme Personality of Godhead, will I again be able to be a servant of Your eternal servants who find shelter only at Your lotus feet? O Lord of my life, may I again become their servant so that my mind may always think of Your transcendental attributes, my words always glorify those attributes, and my body always engage in the loving service of Your Lordship?
  • O my Lord, source of all opportunities, I do not desire to enjoy in Dhruvaloka, the heavenly planets or the planet where Lord Brahmā resides, nor do I want to be the supreme ruler of all the earthly planets or the lower planetary systems. I do not desire to be master of the powers of mystic yoga, nor do I want liberation if I have to give up Your lotus feet.
  • O lotus-eyed Lord, as baby birds that have not yet developed their wings always look for their mother to return and feed them, as small calves tied with ropes await anxiously the time of milking, when they will be allowed to drink the milk of their mothers, or as a morose wife whose husband is away from home always longs for him to return and satisfy her in all respects, I always yearn for the opportunity to render direct service unto You.
  • O my Lord, my master, I am wandering throughout this material world as a result of my fruitive activities. Therefore I simply seek friendship in the association of Your pious and enlightened devotees. My attachment to my body, wife, children and home is continuing by the spell of Your external energy, but I wish to be attached to them no longer. Let my mind, my consciousness and everything I have be attached only to You.
(SB 6.11.24-27)

All glories to Sri Guru and Gauranga.

All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

your servant,

Giriraj dasa

Is today the end or beginning of Kartika?

Hare Krishna.

14th November, 2016. Gurgaon.

kartika-month

Today is the last day of Kartika. Different devotees would have had different experiences and realisations in this Kartika. But for some fortunate devotees it will be the beginning of a full year of Kartika! Yes, it is indeed very rare and only some fortunate souls receive the mercy and inspiration to observe it properly for one full year (or a life time).

In one of the verses in Stavamala, Srila Rupa Gosvami, describes Srimati Radharani as Kartiki-devi. She is the presiding deity of this month. In Bhakti Rasamrta Sindhu, he describes Kartika Vrata as the Urja vrata. Urja means power, strength and empowerment. Who is the source of this urja, power and spiritual strength? Urjesvari, Srimati Radharani.  So this is the month we can receive spiritual strength, empowerment to increase our qualification for service and power to make rapid progress in bhakti. So most devotees observe Kartik vrata to somehow please Srimati Radharani.

Does this mercy departs on the last day of Kartika?

Let us hear what Srila Prabhupada has to say on it:

You have asked about the specialness of the month of Karttika, and the answer is that it is a special inducement for persons who are not in Krsna consciousness to perform some devotional service. For persons who are doing nothing in Krsna consciousness, it is an indirect inducement to take to devotional service in earnest seriousness, every moment is Karttika. In this connection, there is a good example that sometimes a store gives a special concession to attract new customers. But for those who are already customers there is no need of a special sale. They will purchase at any cost if they know the important value of the goods. Similarly, those who are pure devotees do not aspire for any concession, and out of spontaneous love try to engage themselves in devotional service twenty-four hours each day, three hundred and sixty five days every year, without any stoppage.”

(SPL to HH Jayapataka Swami, 30th January, 1969)

For pure devotees every day of the year is Kartika.  But what about us? Those who are yet to develop, and bestowed upon, a spontaneous love for Radhe Shyam. What  if we did not/ could not keep any vow this Kartika or what if we feel disheartened because somehow we failed to keep our vows. Not everything is lost for us. We still have a ray of hope and a very bright ray, mercy of Srimati Radharani. It would not end on the last day of Kartika, provided we take some last minute action, today.

We are aware that mercy of Srimati Radharani is readily available in Kartika. Today being the last day, we can take a vow to improve upon any of the areas where we are spiritually weak and/or continue to keep what we started in Kartika. We should earnestly pray to Srimati Radharani to please help us in that area and we take a vow to continue our vow till the beginning of next Kartika. So that it finally becomes part of my daily service. We will show our sincerity and seriousness by trying to keep that vow for Her pleasure, not to collect some pious credits or flaunt some numbers. This will please Her. This would be a proper cultivation and utilisation of Kartika. We are not looking at Kartika as some quick fix solution. Our goal should be to cultivate bhakti, spontaneous love for Radhe Shyam.

I repeat what I quoted few weeks back that the temple will be packed all through the Kartika but it is practically empty a day after Kartika, that should not be the condition of our heart. Whatever mercy we received this month should propel us ahead in bhakti. Not that Kartika is gone and we are back to the same old routine, not the best of the attitude to please Srimati Radharani.

Also at our stage it is best to keep austerities away and take vows which are based on direct limbs of bhakti.

śravaṇaṁ kīrtanaṁ viṣṇoḥ smaraṇaṁ pāda-sevanam arcanaṁ vandanaṁ dāsyaṁ sakhyam ātma-nivedanam (SB 7.5.23)

Some suggestions I am thinking for myself:

Endeavoring to carefully hear the Holy Name during my japa.

Daily read one chapter of Bhagavad Gita (takes 10-12 minutes)

Daily read Srimad Bhagavatam (HG Vasisesika Prabhu recently shared that it takes reading just 41 pages daily to complete Srimad Bhagavatam in one year! I could not believe it.)

Daily offer lamp to Tulasi Devi

Daily read the translation of Tulasi Arti after singing it.

Daily read the translation of any of the mantras ( pranam mantras, prasadam prayer, …)

Start daily Guru Puja at home

The list is endless and we can pick wherever we think we need improvement: our hearing, reading, improving relationship with Holy Name/ devotees/ guru.

radha-shyamsundar-vrindavan-kartika-darshan-gopastami

Let us look at the lotus feet of Radha Shyamsundar and pray to Them, beg Srimati Radharani and we take our vow to continue what we started in Kartika or start afresh today with a new vow to please Her lotus feet. Today is the last day of Kartika to show Srimati Radharani that we indeed have some desire to please Her and are willing to walk the talk. 

Radharani’s mercy doesn’t end on the last day of Kartika. It’s ongoing!Let us aspire for it.

All glories to Kartika month.

All glories to Sri Guru and Gauranga.

All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

Kartika doesn’t end on the last day of Kartika!

Hare Krishna.

25th Oct, 2016. Gurgaon.

kartika-month-radha-madhava

There so many benedictions for the month of Kartika and we get constant reminders via email, messages on mobile and so many other mediums. The list grows only bigger by the day.

“In the month of Kartik, which is very dear to Sri Hari, one who bathes early in the morning attains the merit of bathing in all places of pilgrimage. Anybody who offers the Lord a ghee lamp in the month of Kartik, O brahmana, becomes free from all kinds of sins, such as killing a brahmana, and he goes to the abode of Lord Hari.”

(Brahma Khanda)

There is no other month equal to Karttika. There is no other scripture equal to Vedas. There is no other place of pilgrimage equal to Ganges, therefore, the month of Karttika is very dear to the Vaisnavas .

(HBV, 16/39,40 quoted from Skanda Purana)

 

A very senior vaishnava shared (most of the below content is also from the same senior vaishnava) that there are five essential limbs of Kartika. They are very simple but very important. During the month of Kartika:

  1. One should rise early in the morning for the pleasure of Lord Hari
  2. Take a morning bath early
  3. Serve and worship Tulasi
  4. Offer a ghee lamp
  5. At the end of the vrata celebrate a festival. ( Which means kirtan and prasadam distribution)

Of course because it is Kartika, month of Lord Damodara, so daily chanting of Damodarastkam is also a must.

Sri Sri Damodarastakam is sung during Kartika, also known as month of Damodara. As quoted in the Sri Hari Bhakti Vilasa,”In the month of Kartika one should worship Lord Damodara and daily recite the prayer known as Damodarastaka, which has been spoken by Sage Satyavratra and which attracts Lord Damodara.

 (Sri Hari Bhakti Vilasa 2.16.198)

 

So it a very very powerful month.

Now let us hear a different point of view from Srila Prabhupada.

You have asked about the specialness of the month of Karttika, and the answer is that it is a special inducement for persons who are not in Krsna consciousness to perform some devotional service. For persons who are doing nothing in Krsna consciousness, it is an indirect inducement to take to devotional service in earnest seriousness, every moment is Karttika. In this connection, there is a good example that sometimes a store gives a special concession to attract new customers. But for those who are already customers there is no need of a special sale. They will purchase at any cost if they know the important value of the goods. Similarly, those who are pure devotees do not aspire for any concession, and out of spontaneous love try to engage themselves in devotional service twenty-four hours each day, three hundred and sixty five days every year, without any stoppage.”

(SPL to HH Jayapataka, 30th January, 1969)

 

Isn’t this a very interesting angle on what all we have been reading since past many days. We should be certainly aware of what Srila Prabhupada wants to convey- for a serious and sincere devotee. Being the Kaliyugians, or a dyed in the wool karmi like me, we have a tendency to forget the preciousness of what Srila Prabhupada has given us and actually how dynamic and how powerful every single little tiny thing is. Let us read some other quotes from Hari Bhakti Vilasa.

 

Just by offering obeisances to Lord Hari even once, a devotee can attain His transcendental abode.

(HBV 8.367)

Even if one offers obeisances with duplicity, all of his sinful reactions that have accumulated during hundred of previous lives are at once eradicated.

(HBV 8.370)

Know for certain that in Kali-yuga, drinking Lord’s caraāmta is the best atonement for all kinds of sinful activities. Just by drinking caraāmta , one’s body becomes purified.

(HBV 9.26,51)

One who worships the lotus feet of Lord Hari with offerings of tender tulasī  leaves never returns to this miserable world after attaining the abode of supreme Lord.

(HBV 7.322)

Lord Keshava becomes pleased with a devotee who prepares a garland of tulasī  leaves and manjaris and then offers it to Him. Indeed, He awards such a devotee residence in the spiritual world.

(HBV 7.340)

Those who offer incense to the Supreme Lord achieve prosperity in this life and enter the spiritual world in the next. Just as the incense smoke rises, the devotee who offers incense everyday advances towards an exalted destination as a result of his devotional activities.

(HBV 8.25)

The purification one achieves by bathing in hundreds of millions of holy places can be achieved simply by smelling the remnants of incense offered to Lord Hari.

(HBV 8.30)

Lamps give us vision and upliftment. The more a devotee offers lamps to the Lord, the more he makes advancement.

(HBV 8.70)

Lust, anger and pride that born of ignorance, as well as one’s material entanglement, are destroyed simply by worshipping the Lord with a beautiful ghee lamp.

(HBV 8.303)

Now the most interesting thing is that all the above benedictions are not for Kartika but these are for everyday of the year. Can we see and appreciate how strong and potent devotional practices Prabhupada has given us. Everything about Krishna consciousness process is cintamani but we are blind, slow fools and just can’t see it. And so we have to be encouraged with strong, fruitive type ‘incentives’ like Kartika. That’s why Prabhupada is saying that for the awake devotee every day is Kartika. These are common everyday things in our devotional life. Prabhupada has got us do them every single day. Even if I am a rascal still I get unlimited benefits.

The process Srila Prabhupada has given us is very powerful. So if we become aware of what we have got then every moment is Kartika for us, every moment benedictions are being showered on to the devotees. If every moment we are conscious then every moment we are gaining in a similar way as we are supposed to gain in Kartika!

This brings us to the point that we have to approach Kartika with intelligence. Let us hear some questions and see what is our heart’s response to them.

Q: Kartika is here, am I performing vratas because I want pious credits or I want prema bhakti?

Q: Am I going to approach it as a ‘process wala’ or as a personalist?

Q: Do I want to love Radha Damodar or I want to ‘use’ Their mercy?

The answers are quite obvious for any sincere and serious devotee.

So we should also be aware of subtleties. We should not get caught up in the externals or too many activities in Kartika, or the numbers. Of course, we do the things which are the essence, the five things that we discussed in the beginning. We do the things we are very attached to. But we can think of what are my weaknesses in my devotional life.

Is it something about my relationship with devotees?

Is it something about my relationship with my guru?

Is it something about my relationship with the Holy Name?

What are my weaknesses? I am going to work on them this Kartika.

And we use the mercy of Radhika to help us with that. We can speak to Her about that and don’t let it finish with Kartika. Radharani’s mercy doesn’t end on the last day of Kartika. It’s ongoing!

So if we use the month to facilitate building a relationship which is based on the realisation of our needs in our Krishna consciousness. And we actually want to meet those needs. And we are depending on her mercy then it illuminates our hearts. In this way Kartika can be very very special.

So we should not try to approach Kartika as some quick fix or as a process. The temple will be packed all Kartika but it is practically empty a day after Kartika. That should not be the condition of our heart. Because if we are actually wanting to use Kartika to develop our attachment to Radha-Shyam, then mercy during Kartika should be propelling us, pushing us in Krishna consciousness- after the Kartika! Not that Kartika finish, all done and dusted and back to the same old routine! Next year, Next special! Not a very healthy mentality.

f we are careful and intelligent then we will realise that is it is such a rare opportunity. It is said that Radharani has no eyes for anyone other than Krishna but this month she has an eye for all of us fallen conditioned souls. Are we going to talk numbers to her? We should be wanting to develop our relationship with Her and Her devotees.

What does this means?

As her aspiring servants should we be worried about pious credits or cultivate bhakti? Proper cultivation means that it should be inspiring to continue AFTER the Kartika has finished.

I found an amazing quote by Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura  which speaks of similar essence for sincere and serious devotees.

What should one specifically think of, on an each Ekädaçé?

“On each Ekädaçé, one should think, how much advancement I have made since the last Ekädaçé. If one finds that he has not made any advancement or rather he has degraded then one should think bad association as the cause of this, and thus he should endeavor to give up that association.”

(Sajjana Toñaëé 4/5)

(Quoted from Bhaktivinoda Väné Vaibhäva)

So I have shared whatever little I heard and I hope, and I pray, that it helps us not to let this Kartika end on the last day of Kartika but rather propel, and inspire, us to continue after Kartika. Now that would indeed be very pleasing to Srimati Radharani.

 

All glories to Sri Guru and Gauranga.

All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

 

Your servant,

 

Giriraj dasa