‘Different religions’ and devotees

Hare Krishna dear devotees,

After reading my last post on ‘Other scriptures’ and devotees a kind-hearted vaishnava read me amazing lines, written by Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, on how a devotee should see different religions. I am sharing the same below.

Why different Religions?

Although human nature is the same everywhere, people living in different nations and on different continents acquire different secondary characteristics. It is impossible to find two people living in the world who have exactly the same secondary nature. Even two brothers born from the same womb will differ in appearance and personality, what to speak of people born in separate countries. In different regions, things such as the locations of bodies of water, air currents, mountains and forests, and the availability of foodstuffs and clothing all vary. Consequently, differences naturally occur in people’s appearance, social status, occupation, and style of dressing and eating. Each nationality has a peculiar disposition of mind, and thus various conceptions of the Supreme Lord, although the same in essence, appear superficially dissimilar. As people in different places rise above their aboriginal condition and gradually develop culture, science, law, and devotion to God, their means of worship also diverge in terms of language, costume, kinds of offerings, and mental attitudes. Considering all these secondary differences impartially, however, we find no discrepancy. As long as the object of worship is the same, there is no harm. Therefore Lord Caitanya has specifically ordered that we should execute our own service to the Supreme Lord in the mode of pure goodness and at the same time refrain from ridiculing the religious codes of others.

Under the influence of the above-mentioned factors, the religious systems proclaimed by different nationalities vary in the following ways:

(1) different spiritual masters

(2) differences in mental and emotional attitudes toward worship

(3) different prescribed rituals of worship

(4) different types of affection for and activities in relation to the object of worship

(5) different names and terminologies resulting from differences in language.

Because of the variety of spiritual authorities, in some places people honor the Vedic sages, in others they revere the prophets led by Muhammed, and in still other regions they esteem the religious personalities who follow Jesus. Similarly, in each locality many different men of knowledge are shown particular respect. Each community should, of course, properly honor its own spiritual masters, but simply for the sake of gaining followers, no one should try to establish that the instructions given by one’s own local spiritual master are better than the instructions of spiritual masters everywhere else. The propagation of such an antagonistic position would certainly be inauspicious for the world.

A devotee’s prescribed ritual of worship varies according to his mentality and devotional feeling. In some places the mode of worship is to seat oneself in a sacred place and practice renunciation and breath control. In another place worship is performed by falling down five times during the day and evening even if caught unprepared to offer obeisances facing the direction of the chief shrine. And elsewhere worshipers kneel down, either in the temple or at home, and with folded hands declare their own fallen condition and the glories of the Lord. Each of these types of worship also differs in the matter of what to wear, whether and how to eat, what is clean or unclean, and so forth. Furthermore, the sentiment and behavior toward the worshipable object vary among religions. Some worshipers, whose consciousness is saturated with devotion, set up a Deity of the Supreme Lord in their heart, in their mind, or in the outside world, with the understanding that it is non-different from the Lord. In other processes, which are inclined more toward logical argument, a conception of the Lord is formed within the mind and worshiped; external images are not accepted. Actually, however, all of these Deities are factual representations.

In accordance with language differences, the Lord is called by various names. Different names are also given to the religious systems, and there are different terminologies for use during worship.

So what should be the approach of a devotee?

The many religions of the world have naturally grown very distinct from each other due to these five kinds of differences. However, to create mutual discord because of these differences would be disastrous. If one happens to be in another’s temple at the time of his worship, one should think, “Here my Lord is being worshiped in a different form. Since I am committed to my particular practice, I cannot take part in this ritual, but as I watch it, I am developing a greater feeling for my own method of worship. The Supreme Absolute Truth is one without a second. Therefore, as I offer my obeisances to the form which I see here, I pray to my Lord, from whom this form comes, that this Deity will help me expand my love for Him.”

And…

Those who do not behave in this way, but who exhibit malice, envy, or ridicule toward other religious processes, certainly deviate from true religion due to a lack of intelligence. If such people actually loved their own Supreme Lord, they would not be attracted to such useless disputes.

Be wary of..

On the other hand, although it is nonsensical to ridicule other religious practices, if we notice some genuine fault, we should never tolerate it. Rather, we should make every effort to uproot it by proper means and thus benefit the deluded practitioners. For this reason, Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu argued with the Buddhists, Jains, and Mayavadis and brought them to the true path. All devotees of the Lord should follow the example of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and reject all so-called religious systems containing the unwanted elements of atheism, agnosticism, materialism, disbelief in the existence of the spirit soul (which amounts to the idea that working for the body is all in all), hedonism, and impersonalism. Devotees should know that these systems are unauthorized, deceptive, and only dim reflections of and sometimes completely against the principles of real religion. Actually, followers of these fraudulent processes are pitiable. According to their ability, devotees should make every effort to protect people in general from all these evils.

Real Religion

Pure, unalloyed love of God is the actual eternal religion of the spirit soul. Thus, in spite of the above-mentioned five kinds of distinctions among religious systems, we should recognize as genuine any religious process whose goal is the realization of pure love of God. It is useless to quarrel over superficial differences. If the goal of a process is pure, then the system is fully auspicious.

(By Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, Sri Caitanya Siksramrta, Chapter 1)

The above lines, of course, would require a detailed commentary for thorough understanding and application, however we do get broad guidelines on how to view different religions.

Here is the link for the full transcription published in BTG magazine in 1976, done by HG Gopiparanadhana Prabhuji, called The Nectarean Teachings of Sri Caitanya.

All glories to Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura.

All glories to Sri Guru and Gauranga.

All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

your servant,

Giriraj dasa

Srila Prabhupada’s Tirobhava Mahotsava, 2015

Hare Krishna.

15th November, 2015. Vrindavan

(Srila Prabhupada Samadhi Mangal Aratik Darshan 15th Nov)

Srila Prabhupada’s Tirobhava Mahotsava day at Vrindavan.

I was very fortunate to be present on Sunday at Vrindavan and attend the 38th disappearance festival of Srila Prabhupada.

I knew that the temple will be full to its capacity in the morning so I stayed back in the apartment and chanted my rounds. As I was leaving, Arti mataji, whose family I was staying with, asked me if I am keeping normal fast or nirjala fast till noon. I had completely forgotten that it was fast till noon today for Prabhupada disappearance day! I thanked her for reminding me and in my heart profusely thanked Krishna for not allowing me to make this blunder. I further resolved never to stay without the association of devotees!

I reached temple around 7.45am and straight away went to Prabhupada samadhi and paid my humble obeisances.  It’s always a very humbling experience to be here, more so as with each passing day I realise how much Srila Prabhupada did for us and what little I am doing to reciprocate.

As every year, devotees carried Srila Prabhupada’s deity around all the Goswami temples in Vrindavan, people from all walks of life paid their respect to this Premi Bhakta who spread Krishna bhakti all around the world.  Here are some pictures which I copied from the official webpage.

In the temple, a very tastefully decorated pandal had been set up for the disciples and followers of Srila Prabhupada to glorify him. One by one senior devotees came and paid their respects to Srila Prabhupada. It was amazing to see how each one of them had their own connection with Prabhupada. HH Lokanath Maharaj said that Prabhupada is still here with us, HH Gopal Krishna Maharaj said that we need to introspect on what actions we can take which will further increase the glorification of Srila Prabhupada, another devotee shared how is serving Prabhupada in `vipralamba bhava’, each one had their own unique relationship with Srila Prabhupada.

Later, it was time for Abhishek ceremony.

Press here to watch Srila Prabhupada Abhishek Video

There was sumptuous prasadam arranged for everyone at Goshalla and I overate!

Srila Prabhupada’s quarters were opened to visitors in the evening with very beautiful decorations.

In the midst of all this I was thinking how to remember Prabhupada. I was very fortunate to meet a very senior devotee who shared some gems written by Srila Prabhupada himself on the connection between Guru and disciple. I am sharing the same. It will be very nice if we can read them loudly, meditate on each of them and remember our param guru.

“The spiritual Master lives forever by His divine instruction and the disciple lives with him.”, because I have always served my Guru Maharaja and followed His teachings I am now even never separated from Him. Sometimes Maya may come and try to interfere but we must not falter, we must always follow the chalked out path layed down by the great acharya’s and in the end you will see.

                                 -Letter to Cidananda — Bhaktivedanta Manor 25 November, 1973

Please be happy in separation. I am separated from my Guru Maharaja since 1936 but I am always with him so long I work according to his direction. So we should all work together for satisfying Lord Krishna and in that way the feelings of separation will transform into transcendental bliss.

-Letter to Devotees in New York City, 19th January, 1967

I understand that you are feeling my absence. Krishna will give you strength. Physical presence is immaterial; presence of the transcendental sound received from the spiritual master should be the guidance of life. That will make our spiritual life successful. If you feel very strongly about my absence you may place my pictures on my sitting places and this will be source of inspiration for you.

-Letter to Devotees in New York City, 19th January, 1967

You cannot survive without my mercy and I cannot survive without your mercy. It is reciprocal. This mutual dependence is based on love—Krishna Consciousness.

-Letter to Jayatirtha Dasa, 22nd, January, 1967

The senior devotee emphasised on each of the above statements, we read them loudly, repeatedly. Especially  highlighting how wonderful is the last statement where Srila Prabhupada is equating love with Krishna consciousness. And in a very beautiful and sweet way he is showing us that an amazing relationship exist between a factual guru and a factual disciple. If both are ‘sat’ then one can’t do without the other. What is the meaning of guru without disciple and what is the meaning of disciple without a guru?  A very powerful statement by Srila Prabhupada.

You cannot survive without my mercy and I cannot survive without your mercy

Can we imagine a heart who feels like that ! It is reciprocal, this mutual dependency which is based on love –  Krishna consciousness. We should be very careful not make the relationship between a Guru and disciple a business affair. We should contemplate if there is heart in the relationship? Where is the intensity of dependence on Guru? This is the actual reality, neither can survive without the mercy of the other. So beautiful.

Then we read the below statement from the book of HH Satsvarupa Maharaj.

Memories of Prabhupada are nectar. Without them, there would be no substance to Prabhupada consciousness. If there were no memories of Prabhupada, then he would become only a legend. But there is a lot more to Prabhupada consciousness than memories of him.  By meditating on the memories and practicing internal, minute-to-minute surrender, we will be Prabhupada conscious. This internal cultivation is very important. Prabhupada recall doesn’t mean only remembering what he did in the 1970s, it means recalling our need to serve him now.                                                                                                                         -HH Satsvarupa Goswami

 

In the end we read the following famous lines from a poem written by Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura

He reasons ill who tells that Vaishnavas die
When thou art living still in sound.
The Vaishnavas die to live and living try
To spread a holy life around!

All glories to the disappearance day of Srila Prabhupada.

All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

All glories to Sri Guru and Gauranga.

Prayers of Nāgapatnīs

Hare Krishna.

23rd June, 2015. Gurgaon

Since last few weeks I am hearing a most nectarean seminar on `demons in Krishna’s pastimes’ and what anarthas they represent with in us by HG Srimati Mataji. This seminar is very different, and way sweeter, than anything I have ever heard on this wonderful topic. I was particularly stuck by the prayers of Nāgapatnīs, wives of serpent Kaliya. Their prayers teach us in what mood to pray to Krishna in difficulty and we know the result of such prayers to Him.

Kaliya daman

The below content is from Srila Kavi-Karnpura’s Ananda Vrindavana Champu, which is very similar to the same pastime mentioned in Krishna book, and in the end are some comments from HG Srimati Mataji.

The ruthless steps of Vanamali Krishna’s tandava dance devastated the serpent. Blood streamed from Kaliya’s mouths, his eyes popped out, and his hoods completely collapsed. Seeing their husband vanquished and heart broken, the Nagapatnis felt sorry for him and cried piteously. Out of affection for him they thought, “Our husband will not sur­vive unless he attains the mercy of the Lord.” Abandoning all fear and shyness, the Nagapatnis put their children on their laps and approached Krishna to petition Him on behalf of their husband.

The Nagapatnis offered prayers to Shri Krishna with sweet voices: “O Lord, all glories unto You! O crest-jewel on the head of the demigods! Who other than You can be the Supreme Brahman? Brahma and Siva con­stantly glorify You, the unlimited ocean of transcendental qualities. The yogis and paramahamsas happily praise and meditate upon Your lotus feet, which are forever massaged by the auspicious lotus hands of God­dess Laksmi. As a swan extracts milk from a watery mixture, the paramahamsas reject the four desirable goals of human life to immerse themselves in the bliss of Your service. “O Lord, extolled throughout the Vedas! Please hear our prayer. O Lord, You are the personification of eternity, bliss and knowledge! You assume a transcendental body to annihilate all the demons! You are the oldest, the origin of everything, and yet You are an ever-fresh youth. You are the fountainhead of all the Vishnu expansions! O Supreme Personality of Godhead! Please give up Your anger and show us Your mercy!

“O Vasudeva, You are the life-giving Lord of all! O Sankarsana, You remove all the miseries of the universe! O Pradyumna, You are the trea­sure of love for all the Vrajavasis! O Aniruddha, Your Yogamaya potency prevents ordinary people from perceiving You! You are the Supersoul of all the demigods! Ah! You are the life and soul of the Vrajavasis. Be pleased with our prayers, O Lord, for the life of our husband is about to depart.

“Your lotus feet which delight the atmaramas, remove all mental anxi­eties, and are rarely achieved even in samadhi now stand on the hoods of our husband. O Lord, we have no idea how Kaliya has attained such a rare fortune. This wicked snake deserves to be punished. Only by Your mercy can one give up his wickedness and follow the righteous path. It is impossible for a living entity to do this on his own.

“O Lord! You alone maintain the entire universe created by the three modes of material nature by the mode of goodness, which purifies the mind. You create the world with passion and by ignorance, which is darker than night, You destroy the creation. O mighty armed! It is by name only that Vishnu, who rides on Garuda, is called the maintainer, and that Brahma, who sits upon a lotus, is the creator, and that Siva, who sits atop Nandi, is called the destroyer.

“O one who is dear to those who have nothing! Living entities appear by different combinations of the modes of nature. Being born in the mode of ignorance, it is natural for a snake like Kaliya to be crooked. As it is impossible to see a flower creeper in the sky, it also impossible to find gentle behavior or good manners in him. He does nothing good for any­one, and he has no power to overcome Your maya. This is the nature of one who lives in hole.

“His actions cannot be considered offensive because that is his very nature. So how can You, who are eternally liberated, the ocean of mercy, and full of all opulence, deny him Your mercy? You always treat everyone equally and all Your acts convey auspiciousness. Therefore, please quickly show Your mercy to our afflicted husband. It does not befit You to kill such a lowly living entity.

“Even Siva, Brahma, Laksmi, and the sannyasis who perform sadhana, meditation, and attentive service cannot understand You. Hence, how can Kaliya, who is bewildered by pride and ignorance, know You? Your playful kicks and dancing on his heads have practically killed him. Al­though he is a very powerful serpent, he is so weakened that only his life air remains. Indeed he is cruel and ill behaved, but nevertheless he is one of Your living entities. Alas! We hope he will not die. Please forgive his offense and return our husband so that we will not become widows.” The gentle beautiful Nagapatnis petitioned the Lord with piteous choked voices.

Krishna responded compassionately by dissipating His anger and reduc­ing the punishment. Smiling sweetly, Krishna replied to the wives of Kaliya, “Do not fear. Although I am very angry, your sweet appeal has satisfied Me. As a monsoon shower extinguishes a forest fire, your pleasing prayers have removed My intense anger. As a result I will spare his life. Now I request you to take your husband and return to your original abode. Since your husband’s heads are now decorated with My bliss-giving lotus foot­prints, Garuda will feel blessed to see them. From now on you need not fear him.”His false pride broken like a person bent over from carrying a heavy mass of iron, Kaliya felt relieved and happy by the Lord’s assurance of protection. With fear, devotion, and submission Kaliya said, “O Lord! With all Your opulence You appear in this world to crush the demons and award the treasure of prema to Your devotees. As long as the sun and the moon remain, Your beautiful pastimes will give joy to the minds of Your devotees. You always bring immediate auspiciousness to the unfortunate. O abode of compassion!

“The River Yamuna is the ideal place for Your pastimes. Therefore You have rightly punished me for my offense of poisoning her waters. Who could have shown me more mercy than You? Your dancing has deco­rated my hoods with the splendid marks of Your lotus feet. Now my life has become completely auspicious. O younger brother of Baladeva! By Your order I will now return to Ramanaka Island. O Supreme Lord of all the demigods! Due to some misfortune I have offended You. O You who wear makara kunddla earrings! Please forgive me for my offensive behav­ior.”

Concluding his prayer, Kaliya took out some special jewels from his collection and presented a valuable ruby and pearl necklace to Krishna as a ‘gift. Then he and his family offered obeisances to the Lord and left the Yamuna. Immediately the water transformed into the sweetest nectar. After Kaliya left, the prince of Vraja, who ever enacts fresh and effulgent playful pastimes, climbed up on the bank of the Yamuna. The golden bangles on His lotus hands glistened attractively and His shimmering dhoti defeated the brightness of lightning.

HG Srimati Mataji : “It’s a wonderful way the wives of Kalilya deal with the situation. Important thing to remember here is that they are not approaching Krishna for their own benefit, they are approaching Krishna for somebody else. It’s interesting what they do, first they access the situation, without losing any time they approach Krishna. In a respectful and cultured way they offer their obeisances and surrender to Krishna. Their only desire was to save Kaliya by pleasing Krishna with their prayers. They didn’t cry, argue, lament or chastise Krishna. They admitted that Krishna’s punishment of Kaliya was exactly the right thing. They understood and said that Krishna’s mercy and punishment were non different. That everything Krishna does is for our good! Do we think like that ? They praised Kaliya’s good fortune, having Krishna’s lotus feet dance on his head. That although he was such a lowly creature, he received the highest mercy.  Pleading for Krishna’s mercy upon them they beseech Krishna to kindly excuse Kaliya’s offenses because after all he is also one of His offspring!  They acknowledge that they were his eternal servants and they offered their loving service. In Krishna Book Nagapatnis plead:

” Our dear Lord, we are offering our loving service unto You because we are all eternal servitors of Your Lordship. You can order us to do whatever You please. Every living being can be relieved from all kinds of despair if he agrees to abide by Your orders.”

Very amazing statement ! What they are basically saying here is that even if you decide to kill Kaliya, that’s Your prerogative, even if You do that we understand that its the best thing. How could Krishna not hear such prayers! Nagapatnis showed no malice towards Him or towards Kaliya and they prayed in full surrender to Krishna.

Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura tell us that the reason Krishna forgave Kaliya’s very sever offense to Garuda and to the Vrajavasis was because of the prayers of his wives. He also tells us that this pastime clearly shows that Krishna’s activities benefit both the victims of violence and those who inflict such violence, certainly there is no malice in our Krishna. Not that Krishna just looked after the wives and didn’t look after Kaliya. Both, those who commit the violence and those who suffer it, Krishna takes care of both. He deals with them differently but he deals with both. Krishna has no malice towards anybody.”

It was simply pure nectar to hear the above pastime, mentioned in various scriptures, which ran into more that 1.5hours. But the part which stuck me most were these amazing prayers of Nagapatnis and how they touch Krishna’s heart. I also learnt how Krishna’s mercy and punishment are both good for us. Of course, it is a different experience when we hear such pastimes from pure devotees of Lord, the way Mataji explained this whole mood of being surrendered in detail was definitely an eye opener for a neophyte like myself. We can read about this complete pastime in chapter 16 of Krishna Book.

Today, I sincerely believe that being in ISKCON, and always remaining under the shelter of Srila Prabhupada’s lotus feet, our good fortune knows no bounds.

All glories to the wonderful pastimes of Krishna.

All glories to Sri Guru and Gauranga.

All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

Narasimha Chaturdashi 

Hare Krishna.

3th May, 2015. Gurgaon

 

Today is Narasimha Chatudashi in India. This festival, which comes in the month of May is a very special day for all the devotees.Lord Narasimha Deva appears to protect His devotees. Hiranyakashipu, a demon controlling the three worlds, was extremely proud and he hated Lord Vishnu.

But little Prahlada, his five year old son, was a great devotee of Lord Vishnu. therefore, Hiranyakashipu tried to killed prahlada in several ways; but failed in all his attempts because of the protection given by the Lord to His dear devotee. Finally, when Hiranyakashipu asked his little son where the Lord resides, Prahlada replied that the Lord resides everywhere. Mocking this response, Hiranyakashipu broke a pillar in his palace, and the Lord appeared from that pillar in His   half man-half lion incarnation – Narasimha. He then killed the demon and thus protected His devotee.

Lord Narasimha Deva removes the obstacles in the path of devotional service. Devotees who pray to Him are always protected from all kinds of calamities. Apart from celebrations at the local temple devotees celebrate Narasimha Chaturdashi by reading and discussing the pastimes of the Lord from Srimad Bhagavatam.

Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura has written five beautiful prayers for receiving the mercy of Lord Narasimha, which we can all read and pray to Narasimha Deva in a similar mood.

Prayers to Lord Narasimha by Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura

e dusta hrdaye kama adi ripu chaya
kutinati pratisthasa sathya sada raya
hrdaya-sodhana ara krsnera vasana
nrsimha-carane mora ei to’ kamana

Within my sinful heart the six enemies headed by lust perpetually reside, as well as duplicity, the desire for fame, plus sheer cunning. At the lotus feet of Lord Narasimha, I hope that He will mercifully purify my heart and give me the desire to serve Lord Krsna.

kandiya nrsimha-pade magibo kakhana
nirapade navadvipe jugala-bhajana
bhaya bhaya paya yan’ra darsane se hari
prasanna hoibo kabe more daya kari

Weeping, I will beg at the lotus-feet of Lord Narasimha for the benediction of worshipping Radha and Krsna in Navadvipa, perfectly safe and free from all  difficulties. When will this Lord Hari, Whose terrible form strikes fear into fear itself, ever become pleased and show me His mercy?

yadyapi bhisana murti dusta-jiva-prati
prahladadi krsna-bhakta-jane bhadra ati
kabe va prasanna ho’ye sa krpa-vacane
nirbhaya karibe ei mudha akincane

Even though Lord Narasimha is terrifying toward the sinful souls, He offers great auspiciousness unto the devotees of Lord Krsna headed by Prahlada Maharaja. When will He be pleased to speak words of compassion unto me, a worthless fool, and thereby make me fearless?

svacchande baiso he vatsa sri-gauranga-dhame
jugala-bhajana hau rati hau name
mama bhakta-krpa-bale vighna jabe dura
suddha cite bhajo radha-krsna-rasa-pura

He will say, “Dear child! Sit sown freely and live happily here in Sri Gauranga-dhama. May you nicely worship the Divine Couple, and may you develop loving attachment for Their Holy Names. By the mercy of My devotees, all obstacles are cast far away. With a purified heart, just perform the worship of Radha and Krsna, for such worship overflows with sweet nectar.”

ei boli’ kabe mora mastaka-upara
sviya sri-carana harse dharibe isvara
amani jugala-preme sattvika vikare
dharaya lutibo ami sri-nrsimha-dvare

Saying this, will that Lord delightedly place His own divine lotus-feet upon my head? I will experience sublime love for the Divine Couple Radha-Krsna and undergo the ecstatic transformations called sattvika. Falling on the ground, I will roll about at the door of Sri Narasimha’s temple.

(Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, – Sri Navadvipa Bhava Taranga, 36-40)

I prayed in the morning to Lord Narasimha Deva to protect all of us from within,  from all the pains and anarthas of the heart, and  without, and may His loving hand be always on our head.

All glories to Narasimha Chaturdashi.

All glories to Sri Guru and Gauranga.

All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

Vaishnava aparadha- its cause.

Hare Krishna.
1st April 2015. Gurgaon

Quotes-by-Bhaktivinoda-Thakur-on-Achieving-Spiritual-Perfection

We read in the past few blogs (Blog1, Blog2) about serious repercussions of Vaishanava Aparadha. Few days back I was browsing through a book by HG Srimati Mataji on Srila Prabhupada and by sheer coincidence my eyes caught the page which mentioned what is the cause of vaishnava aparadha. HG Srimati Mataji quotes Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, mainly from his book Bhaktyaloka, and bind various quotations meticulously to bring the essence of this important topic. Here it goes.

When Sri Caitanya Mahāprabhu was instructing Sanātana Goswami, He explained that the first business of a Vaishnava is to give up non-devotee association.

“A Vaiṣṇava should always avoid the association of ordinary people. Common people are very much materially attached, especially to women. Vaiṣṇavas should also avoid the company of those who are not devotees of Lord Kṛṣṇa.” (CC Madhya 22.87)

Mahāprabhu also explains the reason we should give up such association in next two verses.

“‘By association with worldly people, one becomes devoid of truthfulness, cleanliness, mercy, gravity, spiritual intelligence, shyness, austerity, fame, forgiveness, control of the mind, control of the senses, fortune and all opportunities. One should not at any time associate with a coarse fool who is bereft of the knowledge of self-realization and who is no more than a toy animal in the hands of a woman. The illusion and bondage that accrue to a man from attachment to any other object are not as complete as that resulting from association with a woman or with men too much attached to women.’ ( CC Madhya 22.88-90)

Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura further explains that if a devotee engages in non devotee association then gradually his material attachments will increase. And the more this attachment increases, the more his faith in the supreme goal will diminish.

Why is that ?

If one associates with non devotees, very quickly his intelligence will be polluted and his heart will be overcome by their propensities. If anyone desires to attain pure devotional service, he should carefully give up the association of non devotees. ( Sanga-tyaga, Sri Bhaktyaloka)

This raises another very important question.

Who is a non devotee ?

Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura tells us that those are not subordinate to Sri Krishna are called non devotees. He continues on with a very thorough and wholistic explanation of what it means to give up the association of non-devotees. He even tells us that because of our prejudices and material attachments we can be classified as non devotees!

Let’s present what he says in a chart form to make things clear.

Capture

( I am writing in detail about only some of the categories to save on space)

Atheists : Those who do not accept the Supreme Lord, who is glorified by the Vedas, are called nastikas, or atheists. Their minds have been polluted by false arguments; therefore one’s devotion is lost in their association. Association with sense enjoyers is harmful. Those who are always busy associating with sense enjoyment are filled with blasphemy, envy, and violence. Quarrel, argument, and hankering for sense enjoyment is their life. The more they enjoy, the more their thirst for sense enjoyment increases. The sense enjoyers do not get time to speak or hear topics of Krishna. Whether they engage in pious activities or sinful activities, the sense enjoyers always remain far from knowledge of the self. Therefore in the Caitanya caritamrta (Antya 6.278) Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami has said:

“viṣayīra anna khāile malina haya mana
malina mana haile nahe kṛṣṇera smaraṇa

“When one eats food offered by a materialistic man, one’s mind becomes contaminated, and when the mind is contaminated, one is unable to think of Kṛṣṇa properly.” Those persons who externally engage in sensual activities and accept sense objects just to maintain body and soul together but internally engage in their constitutional position as servants of Krsna are not counted amongst the sense enjoyers, who are attached the fruits of their activities.

Women/womanizers

Do not associate with women. On the other hand, when a woman is engaged in sadhana bhakti-, she should not associate with men. Associating with the opposite sex is very inauspicious for the advancing devotee. When a man and woman are married according to religious principles, there is no sin in their touching and talking with each other…. provided they are not illusioned by each other and they only engage in activities sanctioned  under the prescribed duties.

Ancient prejudices
The conditioned soul has been performing fruitive activities (karma) and endeavoring for knowledge (jnana) since time immemorial, and the prejudices that have developed in his subtle body as a result are called ancient prejudices. These prejudices are known as one’s nature. From ancient prejudices one develops association with karma and jnana.

Modern Prejudices : The prejudices or attachments for good and bad attained in this life due to association are called modern prejudices, one develops attachment for material assets by modern prejudices.

Due to this association with prejudices a living entity’s propensity for ignorance and passion becomes stronger. Whatever propensities for goodness, passion, and ignorance are seen in people’s eating, sleeping, and sensual activities are all due to association with prejudices.

Until one’s attachment to prejudices is destroyed, the ten offenses in chanting will not be uprooted. Offenses at the feet of sadhus is due to being proud of one’s karma and jnana.

Only sadhu sanga can reform the attachment to prejudices. Sadhu sanga is the only remedy for this disease. Unless one reforms his attachment to prejudices, one cannot attain perfection in devotional service by any means.

It has been seen that many fortunate souls have given up attachment for prejudices by the association of pure Vaisnavas. From the scriptures it is well known that by the association of Sri Narada Muni the hunter (Mrgari) and Ratnakara (Valmiki) attained auspiciousness. The foremost instruction of Sri Ramanujacarya is this: “If you cannot purify yourself by any endeavor whatsoever, then just go sit with the Vaisnavas and you will achieve all auspiciousness.”

By observing a Vaisnava’s quality of not uselessly wasting time, many people have easily given up anarthas such as laziness, oversleeping, useless talk, urge of speech, etc. We have also seen that by associating with Vaisnavas for some time someone’s cheating
propensity and desire for fame have been destroyed.

Please beware of Vaishnava aparadha

Srimati Mataji then adds that the above analysis is undoubtedly valuable and very interesting. But for those of us who have family and business or work responsibilities, it may also create in us a sense of anxiety. We are associating with non-devotees on a daily basis. Does this mean we have no spiritual future? Bhaktivinoda Thakura is very sensitive to such anxieties and has addressed the issue very wonderfully in the following text.

What is association and giving up association ?

Many people have doubts about this. Doubts may be there because if just by coming close to a materialist or  material object is considered associating with them, then there is no way to give up this association. As long as the material body is there, how can one one give up the proximity of these things? How can a grhastha vaishnava give up his family members? Even is one is a renunciate, he can not give up   the association of deceitful persons. One will have to come across materialists in one’s life, whether one is grahastha or a renunciate. Therefore, the limit for giving up the association of materialists is prescribed in Sri Upadeshamrita as follows:

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.

Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura explains it with great clarity in his commentary:

O sadhakas! One must accept proximity with both bad and good people as one passes his life. This equally applies to householders and renunciates. Proximity must be there, nevertheless one should not engage in bad association. Giving in charity, accepting charity, revealing one’s mind, hearing one’s mind, accepting foods, and giving foods if done with love, these are called sanga, or association. Giving some foodstuffs to a hungry person and accepting some charity from a pious man is done out of duty, not out of love. Even if they are materialists, this type of engagement is not considered association. But if they are pure devotees, then such activities are performed out of love.

association of devotees

When acts are performed out of love, then it is association. Therefore giving charity to pure Vaisnavas and accepting items or wealth from them becomes sat sanga. Giving charity to a materialist or accepting charity from one, if done out of love, becomes asat sanga When a materialist approaches you, whatever is required to be done should be done only out of duty. One should not speak confidentially with a materialist. Generally there is some love involved in confidential speaking, therefore it is association. While meeting a materialistic friend, one should speak only what is extremely necessary. At that time it is better not to exhibit heartfelt love. But if that friend is a proper Vaisnava, then one should accept his association by speaking to him with love. This type of behavior with relatives and friends creates no hostility.

There is no association in ordinary talk. One should behave with ordinary people as one externally behaves with a stranger while buying something in the market. The same dealings with a pure devotee of the Lord should be done out of love. If one is obliged to feed hungry people, needy people, and teachers, he should do so as a host dutifully cares for his guest, there is no need to exhibit love. Care for them, but not out of love. One should feed pure Vaisnavas with love, and when required accept the remnants given by them with love. If one can behave in this way while giving in charity, accepting charity, speaking confidentially, hearing confidentially, feeding, and accepting food with one’s wife, children, servants, maidservants, strangers, and whoever else one meets, there will no unholy association, only good association. There is no hope of achieving devotion to Krishna until one gives up unholy association in this way.

 And there is no hope for giving up unholy association until we develop genuine love and respect for the vaishnavas and their association. So please beware of vaishnava aparadha!

All glories to Srimati Mataji.

All glories to Srila Bhaktivonoda Thakura.

All glories to Sri Guru and Gauranga.

All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

Who is a kaniṣṭha-adhikārī, a madhyama-adhikārī and an uttama-adhikārī ?

Hare Krishna
27th Feb, 2015. Gurgaon

Vaishnava-Etiquette-3-Basic-Principles

This is the second last blog in the series of last few blogs on Vaishanava etiquette and Vaishanava Apradha. We will read about three categories of devotees and what Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura has to say on Vaishnava Apradha.

Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura writes in `Vaisnava Ninda’ (Sajjan Toshani, 1893) that If we neglect to show respect to the ordinary jivas, special honour to the religious jiva, and proper respect to brahmana-jivas and vaisnava-praya-jivas, then we invite sin upon ourselves. But to show disrespect or dishonour to a vaisnava-jiva is an aparadha. Performing ordinary penances can erase so many sins, but an aparadha is not dispelled so easily. Sins influence the gross and subtle bodies. Aparadha specifically affects the jiva’s very soul and causes him to fall down. Thus, whoever wishes to perform bhajana of the Lord must guard against committing aparadha.

Three kinds of Vaishnavas

In NoI verse 5 Rupa Goswami writes :

kṛṣṇeti yasya giri taṁ manasādriyeta dīkṣāsti cet praṇatibhiś ca bhajantam īśam
śuśrūṣayā bhajana-vijñam ananyam anya-nindādi-śūnya-hṛdam īpsita-saṅga-labdhyā

One should mentally honor the devotee who chants the holy name of Lord Kṛṣṇa, one should offer humble obeisances to the devotee who has undergone spiritual initiation [dīkṣā] and is engaged in worshiping the Deity, and one should associate with and faithfully serve that pure devotee who is advanced in undeviated devotional service and whose heart is completely devoid of the propensity to criticize others.

Prabhupada writes in his purport that

The kaniṣṭha-adhikārī is a neophyte who has received the hari-nāma initiation from the spiritual master and is trying to chant the holy name of Kṛṣṇa. One should respect such a person within his mind as a kaniṣṭha Vaiṣṇava.

A madhyama-adhikārī has received spiritual initiation from the spiritual master and has been fully engaged by him in the transcendental loving service of the Lord. The madhyama-adhikārī should be considered to be situated midway in devotional service.

The uttama-adhikārī, or highest devotee, is one who is very advanced in devotional service. An uttama-adhikārī is not interested in blaspheming others, his heart is completely clean, and he has attained the realized state of unalloyed Kṛṣṇa consciousness.

What does Srimad Bhagvatam says (Srila Prabhupada also quotes the same in his above purport of NoI verse 5) :

A devotee who faithfully engages in the worship of the Deity in the temple but does not behave properly toward other devotees or people in general is called a prākṛta-bhakta, a materialistic devotee, and is considered to be in the lowest position. (SB 11.2.47)

An intermediate or second-class devotee, called madhyama-adhikārī, offers his love to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is a sincere friend to all the devotees of the Lord, shows mercy to ignorant people who are innocent and disregards those who are envious of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. (SB 11.2.46)

The most advanced devotee sees within everything the soul of all souls, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Śrī Kṛṣṇa. Consequently he sees everything in relation to the Supreme Lord and understands that everything that exists is eternally situated within the Lord. (SB 11.2.45)

What does Mahāprabhu says :

Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu then finally advised, “One who is chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra is understood to be a Vaiṣṇava; therefore you should offer all respects to him.” cc madhya 15.111

“A person who is always chanting the holy name of the Lord is to be considered a first-class Vaiṣṇava, and your duty is to serve his lotus feet.” cc madhya 16.72

The following year, the inhabitants of Kulīna-grāma again asked the Lord the same question. Hearing this question, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu again taught them about the different types of Vaiṣṇavas.

Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu said, “A first-class Vaiṣṇava is he whose very presence makes others chant the holy name of Kṛṣṇa.” cc madhya 16.74

krama kari’ kahe prabhu ‘vaiṣṇava’-lakṣaṇa
‘vaiṣṇava’, ‘vaiṣṇavatara’, āra ‘vaiṣṇavatama’

Translation:
In this way, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu taught the distinctions between different types of Vaiṣṇavas — the Vaiṣṇava, Vaiṣṇavatara and Vaiṣṇavatama. He thus successively explained all the symptoms of a Vaiṣṇava to the inhabitants of Kulīna-grāma.

So according to the above instructions of Mahaprabhu, simply by chanting Hare Krishna mantra, one attains the platform of a Vaisnava !

Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu replied, “Whoever chants the holy name of Kṛṣṇa just once is worshipable and is the topmost human being.
( CC Madhya 15.106)

Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu then finally advised, “One who is chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra is understood to be a Vaiṣṇava; therefore you should offer all respects to him.” (CC Madhya 15.111)

Srila Prabhupada writes in his purport to above verse that :
A properly initiated Vaiṣṇava may be imperfect, but one who chants the holy name of the Lord offenselessly is all-perfect. Although he may apparently be a neophyte, he still has to be considered a pure, unalloyed Vaiṣṇava. It is the duty of the householder to offer respects to such an unalloyed Vaiṣṇava. This is Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s instruction

Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura adds

O readers! Any faults that were previously in a Vaisnava before bhakti appeared within him should never be considered, unless there is some noble intention in doing so. A Vaisnava should never be criticized for the insignificant residue of his previous faults, which is why Sri Krsna has explained the following in Bhagavad-Gita:

Even if one commits the most abominable action, if he is engaged in devotional service he is to be considered saintly because he is properly situated in his determination. He quickly becomes righteous and attains lasting peace. O son of Kuntī, declare it boldly that My devotee never perishes. (BG 9.30-31)

Through the influence of bhakti, all abominable activities that may have existed before the appearance of bhakti, which seemed to be one’s very own nature, are reduced day by day and are finally destroyed within a short time. Discussing the faults of a Vaisnava without a virtuous intention results in vaisnava-aparadha. If one sees some fault in a Vaisnava that appears due to divine providence, one should still not blaspheme that Vaisnava. In this regard, Karabhajana has said

One who has thus given up all other engagements and has taken full shelter at the lotus feet of Hari, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is very dear to the Lord. Indeed, if such a surrendered soul accidentally commits some sinful activity, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is seated within everyone’s heart, immediately takes away the reaction to such sin. (SB 11.5.42)

Srila Bhaktivinod Thakura further emphaises in the end that :

Apart from well-intended discussions of those faults that may arise accidentally, one is liable to commit the offense of criticising a Vaisnava. The fundamental point here is that slandering and blaspheming a Vaisnava..leads to namaparadha, and if one commits namaparadha, then divine revelation (sphurti) of the Holy Name will never manifest. One cannot become a Vaisnava without such revelation of the Holy Name.

O readers! You must think carefully upon this serious subject matter. According to proper devotional conclusions, you must show honor to true Vaisnavas and without any hesitation whatsoever, abandon the company of non-devotees. If one blasphemes a genuine Vaisnava, then the transcendental truth concerning the Holy Name (nama-tattva) will never manifest within one’s heart.

So this is the punishment we receive if we blaspheme other devotees, the Holy Name withdraws the taste from us!

We can clearly see from the above that anyone who chants Krishna’s name is to be considered a vaisnava and he/she is worshipable. We also understood what are the serious consequences of criticism of a devotee on our bhajan and spiritual journey.

Please pardon any errors in the blog as I do not have too much realisations on this deep topic but I still felt inspired to share the same with devotees.

In the next blog, the final one in this series, we will find out what is the cause of Vaishnava Apradha? And how to avoid it!

All glories to Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura.
All glories to Sri Guru and Gauranga.
All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

Demons in Krishna’s pastimes

Hare Krishna.
8th January, 2015, Gurgaon.

1krishna-killing-demons

I got up early today but felt too cold and lazy to get up from the bed, freshen up and start Chanting. I picked up my phone and looked for something to read for a while. Fortunately, I found a very sweet seminar given by HH Bhakti Charu Swami Maharaj on the demons in Krishna’s pastimes and various anarthas' they represent. I had onlypart II’ of the seminar hence please pardon me if I miss out some details.

Maharaj explained that all these demons and the anarthas they represent are described in `Krishna Samhita’, a very interesting book by Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura.

I am now briefly mentioning all the demons and what they represent in a concise way below. I have taken some information from a VIHE book called `demons in Vrindavana Lila’ and some pastimes I am writing in a little more detailed manner as maharaj described them.

BCS: The word Nanda is coming from ananda. What is ananda? Joy. So Nanda Mahārāja is joy personified. Joy personified tends Krishna.

Yaśodā. Yaś means? Fame, And dā means? Giver. Yaśodā, mother Yaśodā is the giver of fame.

So different personalities have been identified in this way.

What is Kaṁsa’s business? His whole purpose is to kill Kṛṣṇa. Now who wants to kill God? Atheism. Atheism wants to kill God. Kaṁsa is actually atheism personified.


1. Putana (the witch) – the pseudo guru.

We all know how Putana came into the village where the baby Lord Krishna lived and assumed a beautiful form and then tried to kill Him by offering her breast milk to Him after she had put poison on her breast. But Krishna sucked the life air out of her and killed her. Nonetheless, Krishna had accepted her like a mother and she attained liberation.

Putana represents the pseudo-guru. The pseudo-guru may appear in one or both of two forms:
A. A deceitful, so-called guru who preaches sense gratification or liberation or both.
B. The inwardly manifest “spiritual” guide, in the form of the mundane empiric reasoning faculty (the material mind).


2. Sakatasura (the cart demon) – carrying the burden of a cart-load of old and new bad habits, Not understanding the purpose of religious principles.
He also represents lethargy, dullness and false pride. Krishna removes this contamination by kicking it aside.

BCS: Śakata means a cart, a bullock cart. Those days they used to carry things not in tractors or trucks and such vehicles. The mode of transportation was carts drawn by bullocks. So there was a śakaṭā and they used to keep all things on that cart and then they used to harness it with a bull or bulls. So it was an occasion when Krishna was just turning to His side, which means about three months. At three months or so the baby learns to turn to his side. So that is the occasion to celebrate. They were celebrating this occasion and when Mother Yaśodā was making all the arrangements. She thought that she would keep Krishna under this cart. This kind of protected somehow. But a demon actually came and wanted to kill Krishna. The idea actually was that Pūtanā assumed a form and therefore Krishna could kill her. So this one decided not to take any form. But just go there and make the cart to collapse. And then he would put his pressure and strength on Krishna to kill Him. Krishna knew what was going on. So Krishna was lying there and what He did, He just touched the cart with His baby foot, maybe just with the toe. And the cart immediately collapsed. And all these heavy articles were there and they just got scattered. An anxious mother Yashoda rushed out and found that although the cart collapsed, all the articles were scattered and fell but the baby Krishna was not harmed.

3. Trinavarta (the whirlwind demon) – false pride which coming from dry or material logic, which leads to bogus philosophies.

Trnavarta represents the false pride produced by useless scholarship, which gives rise to wrangling debates and arguments, dry reasoning and dry logical indulgences in the association of people who are attached to such things. It produces controversy which is disloyal to the path of pure bhakti, such as Mayavada and Buddhism. It is the breeding place of demoniac, sinful philosophies.

Lord Krsna becomes moved by the humility of His devotees, who carefully avoid this fault, and He strangles the demon and removes the thorn from His devotees’ endeavours in devotional service.

This demon took the shape of a vast whirlwind and lifted Lord Krishna way up into the sky in order to try to kill Him. But Lord Krishna became so heavy that He brought down the demon so hard that Trinavarta was killed.


4. Deliverance of Nalakuvara and Manigriva (breaking the twin arjuna trees) – Arrogant pride which comes from puffed-up prestige, which is rooted in a madness for wealth.

It gives rise to cruelty to animals, lust for women, and indulgence in alcohol. These further give rise to debauchery of the tongue — uncontrolled eating habits and loose talking. Then come general hard-heartedness, shamelessness and all sorts of disgraceful activities.
Krishna very mercifully breaks down the twin Arjuna trees while tied to the grinding mortar in order to destroy all these faults.

This pastime of Krishna very directly illustrates the predicament of people who are wealthy and aristocratic, but who become involved in licentiousness. It is interesting to note the remedy applied by Narada Muni — poverty, or in terms which are particularly relevant to ourselves as aspiring devotees, simple living and high thinking.

5. Vatsasura (the calf demon) – a childish type of mentality which gives rise to a type of greediness which results in a wicked type of mischievousness.
It gives rise to a type of greediness for sense gratification through which one becomes absorbed in materialism.

BCS: So Krishna is just about six years old, five, going on six. And at that time the children in the cowherd community were given the charge of the calves. Like apprentice, they were apprentices. They have to go out to take care of the cows, but as children they can take care of the children of the cows. So Krishna was given charge with Balarāma to take care of the calves and with the friends they used to go to the forest. So once they went to the forest and here came this demon, Vatsāsura, disguised as a calf. In the middle of so many calves, this calf was there, which was actually a demon and his intention was to kill Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma. So Krishna identified that demon. And He told Balarāma: “Balarāma, this character looks strange, you can’t trust him, he is not our regular calves. … So who is this character? Balarāma asked: “Will You take care of him? Or should I take care of him?” Krishna said: “Let Me take care of Him.” And then at one point this calf just came and charged towards Krishna, it tried to kill Him. And Krishna just grabbed the calf with his legs and started to swing him, swing him, swing him… This is Krishna’s favorite way of killing the demons, especially when they come in the form of some animal. And then He threw the calf onto the space, it was already dead and it fell in the forest of kapittha trees.

6. Bakasura (stork demon) – False religiosity. He represents cunning duplicity, deceptive behaviour and hypocrisy, the outward manifestations of a false lifestyle of cheating activities.

BCS: Bakāsura came in the form of a crane. The crane is a bird that looks like a swan. A crane looks somewhat like a swan but the characteristics are completely different. The swan lives in a very quiet, serene atmosphere. This bird also lives in a watery atmosphere. And what does it do? It stands at one place as if it is meditating. And that also with one leg drawn up. How many of you have seen a crane? So you have seen how this crane stands in the water on one leg. Like sometimes the yogīs stand on one leg meditating. But what does the crane meditate on? It meditates on fish. It is just watching, meditating on the fish. And the moment it sees a fish it just catches it. This demon came assuming a form of a crane, a huge crane. So they all were playing and they saw this beautiful, huge bird. They all out of curiosity came there. Bakāsura was just waiting, while they were all marveling at the sight of this huge bird, this bird just swallowed up Krishna. And the bird what did it do? It just expanded himself but Krishna expanded Himself the bird could not swallow Him. And Krishna became so hot that it could not keep Krishna in his mouth, it threw out Krishna from his mouth. And then Krishna just stood there but this bird again came to swallow Krishna. But this time what did Krishna do? Krishna with his foot pressed his lower jaw and with His hand Krishna pressed his upper jaw. And then Krishna just pulled and its body tore into two pieces. The demon was dead.

7. Aghasura (the snake demon) – Aghāsura is cruelty personified. Aghasura represents the mentality of cruelty to others, and violence and causing trouble to others out of envy. This attitude is an offense against the chanting of the holy names. It may also manifest in the form of an unwillingness to help other living beings by giving them Krishna consciousness.

The demon Aghasura was the younger brother of Putana and Bakasura. He assumed the form of a great python, expanded to the length of eight miles and grew as high as a mountain. He lay on the road with his mouth wide open, and Krishna’s friends playfully entered into the demon, being curious about the giant form and feeling confident in Krishna’s protection. Finally, Krishna also entered into the mouth of the demon in order to protect His friends, and then expanded His own body to such an extent that the demon suffocated and died, and then brought all of His friends back to life and out of the demon.

8. Brahma-vimohana Pastime (Lord Brahma steals the cowherd boys and calves) – mundane activities and speculative scholasticism.

The pastime of the bewilderment of Lord Brahma and his subsequent purification frees us from the cultivation of fruitive activities (karma) and speculative knowledge (jnana). It also rectifies the offense of disrespecting the Lord’s madhurya feature in favour of His aisvarya feature.

9. Dhenukasura (the ass demon) – Ignorance of knowledge of the soul through gross materialistic intelligence, or jackass-like foolishness.

BCS: This Dhenukāsura is a very beautiful pastime which happened after Krishna saved the cowherd boys from the devastating forest fire. Later, all the cowherd boys were feeling very, very hungry. They said: “Krishna we are feeling very, very hungry.” Then somebody says: “I am smelling some beautiful fragrance of ripe tāla fruit. How many of you have seen tāla fruits? Tāla fruits have a very sweet flavor. It’s a big purple fruit like this, it grows about this big and it has a very sweet flavor. But somebody said: “No,no don’t go there, that tāla forest is guarded by a demon called Dhenukāsura. And because of fear of him, nobody goes near. Because if you go there, then he will eat you up, Dhenukāsura. Balarāma said: “What? Who cares about this Dhenuka, the demon? Come let’s go. We are hungry!” Balarāma grabbed that tāla tree and started to shake it. And all the tāla fruits started to fall with a thud, big fruits falling with a sound. And Dhenukāsura woke up: “Who dares to come to my forest?” Who dares to enter into my territory? I will take care of them. And unconcerned about Dhenukāsura or whatever, Balarāma kept on shaking and the tāla fruits kept on falling one after another. And the boys, exited, started to pick them up and eat them. In the mean time Dhenukāsura came and he attacked Balarāma. How do the donkeys attack? Yes, their strength is in the hind legs. Do you know what the donkeys are famous for? First of all the donkeys are famous for their stupidity. Because the donkey needs just some grass and there is plenty of grass everywhere. But because he is a donkey he thinks that he has to work for his master and he carries this big burden everywhere, food to eat. And the donkeys are famous for carrying huge loads; they can carry huge loads, five, six times the weight of their body, the donkeys can carry. But in return … what does the donkey get? A little grass. But the donkey thinks that unless he carries this big load he won’t get any grass to eat.

Another thing, the donkey carries a big burden. And what is that burden? This burden is unnecessary materialistic karma, materialistic activities. We can so easily get rid of our karmic reactions, just by surrendering to Kṛṣṇa. When you surrender to Kṛṣṇa, will you have any karma left? Ahaṁ tvāṁ sarva-pāpebhyo mokṣayiṣyāmi mā śucaḥ… Krishna is giving us our assurance but our donkey propensity does not allow us to do that.

Another thing about this donkey demon. What is he doing? He is protecting this tāla fruit, the fruits of his activities, which are actually meant to be offered to Kṛṣṇa. But instead we are saying nobody should come and take it. All our possessions, we are guarding, saying: “Don’t come, don’t try to take my propenstity.” Are these the propensities of a donkey demon, Dhenukāsura? And this demon is killed by Balarāma. Who is Balarāma? Balarāma is the original spiritual master. This demon is killed by the spiritual master. Our donkey propensities are destroyed by the bonafide spiritual master. He teaches us about the importance of surrendering to Kṛṣṇa and becoming free from the unnecessary burden of our karmic reactions. Balarāma, the original spiritual master teaches us that there is no need to unnecessary carry the big burden of our materialistic responsibilities. And there is no need to carry the fruits of our activities, our possessions for our own enjoyment, offer it to Kṛṣṇa. This is how Dhenukāsura or the donkey demon is killed by Balarāma.

10. Kaliya (chastising the Kaliya serpent) – brutal cruelty, maliciousness, pride, envy and a snake-like crookedness.
He particularly tries to pour his poison into the hearts of innocent Vaisnavas, which Krsna cannot tolerate, so then the Lord kills him.

11. Extinguishing the Forest Fire – The first forest fire represents hatred and arguments between Vaisnavas or different religions, and disrespecting each other’s Deities. It can also represent any type of clash or conflict.

12. Pralambasura (killing the Pralamba demon) – lust for the opposite sex, and the desire for profit, adoration and distinction.
BCS: This Pralambāsura came in the disguise of a cowherd boy. And they were playing that one set of boys will carry in the game, they will carry the other set of boys. So Pralambāsura chose to take Balarāma. He disguised himself as a cowherd boy and he sided with Krishna’s team. There were two teams, Krishna’s team and Balarāma’s team. And he decided to carry Balarāma and he thought that he will kidnap Balarāma and if Balarāma can be killed then Krishna will die due to His intense separation from Balarāma. So He decided to kill Balarāma. Because all the demons are being killed one after another by Krishna. So they thought: “Okay, let’s not try to deal with Krishna but indirectly we will get rid of Krishna by stealing Balarāma. So Pralambāsura carried Balarāma and as he got Balarāma on his back he just ran and then while he was running, he assumed his demoniac form. From a little cowherd boy he became a huge demon. At first Balarāma got a little worried: ” Hey, what’s happening?” So Krishna reminded him :”Hey, You are Balarāma, don’t forget Who You are!” So then Balarāma got back to His senses and Balarāma hit him on the head and Pralambāsura was dead.

This Pralambāsura is impersonalism. This is impersonalism also is killed by Balarāma, the original spiritual master.

13. Second Forest Fire – The second forest fire represents the attack of atheism and other antagonistic philosophies on Krishna consciousness.
Srila Sanatana Goswami says that some people say that the forest fire was a friend of Pralambasura’s.


14. Brahmanas Performing Sacrifice -This pastime illustrates the fault of indifference towards Krishna arising out of pride due to high birth in the varnasrama system.


15. Overcoming the Pride of Indra – demigod worship, and the tendency to think “I am Supreme.”
This pastime illustrates the mistake of thinking that it is good to perform demigod worship.

16. Nanda Maharaja Captured by Varuna – thinking that spiritual life can be enhanced by intoxication.

17. Nanda Maharaja Swallowed by Vidyadhara (the snake) – how Krishna saves the truth of devotional service from being swallowed by the Mayavadis and other atheists. It illustrates how devotees must avoid the company of such snake-like people.

18. Sankhacuda (killing the conch-shell demon and getting the jewel that was stolen by him) – proneness toward acquiring name and fame, and desire for sensuous enjoyment, under the plea of devotion.

19. Aristasura (the bull demon) – pride arising from indulging in false religions invented by cheaters which causes neglect of devotional service (bhakti). Due to their contaminated condition they show disrespect to the process of pure devotional service to Krishna.
This demon assumed the form of a huge bull with sharp horns in its attempt to kill Krishna and Balarama. When the bull approached the village, everyone was afraid. When the bull charged toward Lord Krishna, He grabbed him by the horns and threw him away. But the bull still wanted to attack. So Krishna threw him to the ground and thrashed him like a pile of wet clothing, which forced the demon to give up his life.

20. Kesi (the horse demon) – I am a great devotee and spiritual master, Kesi is pride personified.” Also the false ego arising from attachment from wealth and material accomplishments.

BCS : Then Kesi, as you know, went in the form of a huge horse, a gigantic horse. He was blowing out a fire from his mouth. From his mouth, from his nostrils the fire was coming out, such a terrible demon. And the cowherd boys were so much in anxiety, so upset.. But Krishna said:”Don’t worry, I will deal with him.” So Krishna just stood there, tying up his utariya, tying up his waist. When Kesi came. Kesi came to swallow Krishna up. This huge demon just wanted to swallow Krishna up. But what did Krishna do? Krishna stretched His left hand. And that hand went into Kesi’s mouth. But Krishna’s hand expanded to such a degree that Kesi’s throat got choked. And then this hand started to emanate fire, it became so hot. Kesi was dying. Kesi wanted to get the hand out of his mouth but he could not. Then Krishna grabbed him by his hind legs and started to swing him overhead. And as a result of that Kesi left his body.

21. Vyomasura (the demon in the sky) – associating with thieves and other rascals, and with people who put themselves forward as avataras, as well as cheating impostors who disguise themselves as devotees

Maharaj said we also have to deal with all these demons that are within our hearts and if we take shelter of Krishna then Krishna Himself will take of care of these anarthas within us !!

Bhaktivinoda Thakura says: “The devotee who worships the holy name should first petition the Lord for the strength to cast out all these unfavourable tendencies — and should pray thus before Lord Hari on a daily basis. By doing this regularly, the devotee’s heart will eventually become purified. Sri Krishna has killed a number of demons which may arise in the kingdom of the heart — so in order to destroy these problems, a devotee must cry very humbly before the Lord and admit defeat — then the Lord will nullify all contaminations.”

May we all take shelter of Lord Hari, daily cry for His help and tide over these obstacles in our bhakti soon.

All glories to the wonderful pastimes of Lord Krishna.
All glories to Sri Guru and Gauranga.
All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

Crying to Krishna.

Hare Krishna.

28th April, 2014,  Gurgaon.

 

 

Gaura-Kishora-Dasa-Babaji-Maharaja-22

 

For most of us, as we come into Krishna consciousness, the journey begins and we progress, at our own pace. A few days back HG Shyam Sundar Prabhu shared a quote by HH Radhanath. Maharaj said that we can see our progress in Krishna consciousness not by seeing last few years or months but by just seeing whether I have progressed in last 1 hour or half an hour, we can know how much we are progressing in Krishna consciousness.

Today morning when I looked back the last one hour I saw that I am indeed progressing but in the reverse direction. Most of the time I get impressed from the praise by merciful devotees or general feeling I get by looking at `karmis’ that I am very fortunate for having somehow taken the shelter of lotus feet of Lord Krishna and His devotees in the form of Srila Prabhupada and associating with devotees under ISKCON.

But as I looked back the last one hour today I realised that how my whole inner being is full of anarthas and all, if any, progress is just external, a show window, hiding a black and stone hard heart. A heart which is further quoted with thick viscous layers of envy, pride and complete attachment to material world.

The only difference is that today this diseased heart is crying. I wish to cry aloud to the Lord to save me. A  helpless call to my real father, my Guru and Krishna to save me as I find myself completely ill-equipped to overcome this external energy called `maya’. I am not able to control my mind, leave aside my mind, I can’t even control my tongue as to not to do prajalapa, not to criticise others, be gentle in interaction with non devotees but my acid covered, and sharp like a blade, tongue refuses to come under my control. I feel completely helpless.

I feel like running out in the open and cry to Krishna and cry and cry. The noose of `maya’ seems be wrapped tight around me neck that I feel like a puppet in her hands, sometimes she lets me loose like a toy and the moment I think I am free she pulls the noose and I realise my precarious position. Now, only Lord, or His devotees, can take pity on me and cut this noose else I am destined to remain a fake, someone who externally looks like a devotee but is completely hollow from inside.

I searched for a prayer and found this beautiful prayer from Sri Bhaktivinoda Thakura which reflected my pain, Gopinath Amar Upaya, surprisingly the picture I got for crying out to Lord on top also has Shri Gopinath’s in it !

gopīnāth, āmāra upāya nāi
tumi kṛpā kori’, āmāre loile,
saṁsāre uddhāra pāi

gopīnāth, porechi māyāra phere
dhana, dāra, suta, ghireche āmāre,
kāmete rekheche jeere

gopīnāth, mana je pāgala mora
nā māne śāsana, sadā acetana,
viṣaye ro ‘yeche ghora

gopināth, hāra je menechi āmi
aneka jatana, hoilo bifala,
ekhano bharasā tumi

gopīnāth, kemone hoibe gati
prabala indriya, bośī-bhūta mana,
nā chāre viṣaya-rati

gopīnāth, hṛdoye bosiyā mora
manake śamiyā, laho nija pāne,
ghucibe vipada ghora

gopīnāth, anātha dekhiyā more
tumi hṛṣīkeśa, hṛṣīka damiyā,
tāro ‘he saṁsṛti-ghore

gopīnāth, galāya legeche phāsa
kṛpā-asi dhori’, bandhana chediyā,
vinode koroho dāsa

 

TRANSLATION

O Gopinatha, I have no means of success, but if You take me, having bestowed your mercy upon me, then I will obtain deliverance from this world.

O Gopinatha, I have fallen into the perils of material illusion. Wealth, wife, and sons have surrounded me, and lust has wasted me away.

O Gopinatha, my mind is crazy and does not care for any authority. It is always senseless and has remained in the dark pit of worldly affairs.

O Gopinatha, I have accepted my defeat. All of my various endeavors were useless. Now You are the only hope.

O Gopinatha, how shall I make any advancement when my mind has come under the control of the powerful senses and does not abandon its attachment to materialism?

O Gopinatha, after sitting down in the core of my heart and subduing my mind, please wake me to You. In this way the horrible dangers of this world will disappear.

O Gopinatha, You are Hrsikesa, the Lord of the senses. Seeing me so helpless, please control these senses of mine and deliver me from this dark and perilous worldly existence.

O Gopinatha, the noose of materialism has become fixed around my neck. Taking up the sword of Your mercy and cutting this bondage, make this Bhaktivinoda Your humble servant.

 

I felt so helpless. I did not how to get out of this glum mood and pull myself to do something about it. Then, like a magic, I found this most beautiful quote by HH Mahanidhi Maharaj

you are living in someone’s house and crying, they are bound to ask you what is wrong. So Vrndavana is Radharani’s land and if you cry sincerely, She is sure to reciprocate sooner or late – See more at: http://harekrishnaquotes.com/category/quotes-category/authors/d-iskcon-sannyasis/mahanidhi-swami/#sthash.Cb1E6DnG.dpuf
If you are living in someone’s house and crying, they are bound to ask you what is wrong. So Vrndavana is Radharani’s land and if you cry sincerely, She is sure to reciprocate sooner or later. – See more at: http://harekrishnaquotes.com/category/quotes-category/authors/d-iskcon-sannyasis/mahanidhi-swami/#sthash.Cb1E6DnG.dpuf

If you are living in someone’s house and crying, they are bound to ask you what is wrong. So Vrndavana is Radharani’s land and if you cry sincerely, She is sure to reciprocate sooner or later.

I found my way. Go to Vrindavan and cry at the samadhi of Srila Prabhupada and then cry and beg for the mercy from Mahaprabhu and from Srimati Radharani. Yes, I will go to Dhama this week itself and cry and cry my heart out. And at the bodily level I will take some immediate service at the local centre whatever I may get, I will beg them for it. I hope and pray that some merciful vaishanava will take pity on this shudra and give me some service.

Finally, I have to learn to depend on Krishna’s strength and not my own.

 

Quotes-by-Mahanidhi-Swami-on-Crying-in-Vrndavana

 

If you are living in someone’s house and crying, they are bound to ask you what is wrong. So Vrndavana is Radharani’s land and if you cry sincerely, She is sure to reciprocate sooner or later. – See more at: http://harekrishnaquotes.com/category/quotes-category/authors/d-iskcon-sannyasis/mahanidhi-swami/#sthash.Cb1E6DnG.dpuf
If you are living in someone’s house and crying, they are bound to ask you what is wrong. So Vrndavana is Radharani’s land and if you cry sincerely, She is sure to reciprocate sooner or later. – See more at: http://harekrishnaquotes.com/category/quotes-category/authors/d-iskcon-sannyasis/mahanidhi-swami/#sthash.Cb1E6DnG.dpuf
If you are living in someone’s house and crying, they are bound to ask you what is wrong. So Vrndavana is Radharani’s land and if you cry sincerely, She is sure to reciprocate sooner or later. – See more at: http://harekrishnaquotes.com/category/quotes-category/authors/d-iskcon-sannyasis/mahanidhi-swami/#sthash.Cb1E6DnG.dpuf

All glories to the glorious Gaudia Vaishanava Pramapara.

All glories to Sri Guru and Gauranga.

All glories to Srila Prabhupada.