Karna vs Arjuna

The rivalry between Karna and Arjuna is one of the highlights of Mahabharata. Even today people debate who was better among the two great warriors- pitted against each other by destiny. It’s Karna Vs Arjuna.

Karna vs Arjuna

Karna

Karna is one of the most complex characters in Mahabharata. We see his virtuous side, he was well known for his charitable nature, his word, his archery skills, a great warrior, and amongst all this, being the son of the sun-god. On the other hand, we also see a person driven blindly by pride and personal ambition. It was Karna who prompted Duryodhana that Draupadi is dragged into the assembly and then further suggested that Draupadi should be disrobed publically in the court assembly. He asked Draupadi to select another husband because, being lost by Pandavas, she was rendered a slave of Kurus. Karna hid his urge for self-glory behind his so-called gratitude and friendship with Duryodhana.

Karna refused the advice of his own father sun-god, his mother Kunti, and even Krishna. He was envious of Pandavas, especially Arjuna. Overconfident, he often bragged about his prowess which made Duryodhana even more confident of his victory, leading to the disastrous war. He refused to fight under grandfather Bhishma, boasting that he can finish up the Pandavas within five days if Bhishma would not interfere with his plans. His arrogance and pride led him to earn curses from Parshurama, a brahmana and mother earth.

Duryodhana was bereft of his fortune and duration of life because of the intricacy of ill advice given by Karṇa, Duḥśāsana and Saubala.

(SB 3.3.13)

Arjuna

On the other side is Arjuna. He is also the son of a demigod- Indra, who is the king of all the demigods. Arjuna is one of the greatest archers and a close friend of Krishna. He was a favorite disciple of his teacher Dronacharya, who, impressed with his dedication, sincerity and humility, lovingly bestowed upon him all the blessings of military science. All the Pandavas due to their virtuous behavior were favorites not only of their elders but also of all the citizens of the Hastinapur. Arjuna used his powers to protect dharma and never fought out of arrogance or false pride. As a result, he received boons from personalities like lord Siva, Indra, fire-god, Yamaraja, Varuna and Kuvera.

Arjuna was not itching to fight with his envious and irreligious cousins who had left no trick of the trade to kill his family. Unlike Duryodhana, who saw Pandavas as his enemies, Arjuna still saw them as his brothers and relatives. He had the compassion and strength to say:

How can I counterattack with arrows in battle men like Bhīṣma and Droṇa, who are worthy of my worship? It would be better to live in this world by begging than to live at the cost of the lives of great souls who are my teachers.’

(BG 2.4-5)

Life seemed unfair

It may seem that life was not fair to Karna. He was born out of wedlock, abandoned by his mother, brought up (lovingly) by a chariot maker, denied the respect due as a great warrior, etc. But the same is more true for Arjuna, who suffered far more. Bereft of a father, staying with envious cousins who were always plotting to insult and kill them, and had humiliated his wife in front of the whole assembly. They had to go to the jungle for 13 years after being cheated in a gambling match. Theirs is a much longer list.

Difference in Character

The difference is how they both reacted to those so-called unfavorable circumstances. Karna was brash, overconfident, bitter and became determined to fight against what destiny was rolling out for him. Arjuna, on the other hand, remained calm during all atrocities, accepted all injustices as the will of Lord and had complete faith in Krishna.

It is said that giving good counsel to a foolish person causes the fool to become angry, just as feeding milk to a snake only increases its venomous poison. Saint Vidura was so honorable that his character was looked up to by all respectable persons. But Duryodhana was so foolish that he dared to insult Vidura. This was due to his bad association with Śakuni, his maternal uncle, as well as with his friend Karṇa, who always encouraged Duryodhana in his nefarious acts.

(SB 3.1.14p)

According to Vedic civilization, a descendant of a brāhmaṇa family should never be heavily punished. This was exemplified in Arjuna’s treatment of Aśvatthāmā. Aśvatthāmā was the son of a great brāhmaṇa, Droṇācārya, and in spite of his having committed the great offense of killing all the sleeping sons of the Pāṇḍavas, for which he was condemned even by Lord Kṛṣṇa, Arjuna excused him by not killing him because he happened to be the son of a brāhmaṇa.

(SB 4.7.13p)

Hence we can see that circumstances do not make us Krishna conscious but it is what we do in those circumstances which makes us Krishna conscious.

Who are Karna and Arjuna?

Mahabharata reveals that Karna was a demon called Dambodbhava in his previous life. He led a very sinful life and killed thousands of humans and rishi munis on the strength of a boon he received from sun-god. He was finally defeated by Nara- Narayana rishis but as he was about to be killed he took shelter of sun-god. This same demon took birth as Karna in his next birth.

Devotees like Arjuna are constant companions of the Lord, and whenever the Lord incarnates, the associate devotees incarnate in order to serve the Lord in different capacities. Arjuna is one of these devotees.

(Bg 4.5p)

So we can appreciate that Arjuna is an eternal associate of Lord Krishna, wherever Krishna’s pastimes manifest Arjuna participates in it. A soul worth taking shelter of. No wonder Krishna made Arjuna an instrument to speak Bhagavad Gita and also the hero of Mahabharata.

Srila Prabhupada gives us a very nice description of Arjuna in SB 1.12.21p and Karna in SB 1.15.16p.

We can also read a very interesting and detailed point by point comparison of Karna vs Arjuna made by HG Chaitanya Charan Prabhu here. It’s an eye-opener.

I hope we can see beyond the rivalry of Karna vs Arjuna.

All glories to Krishna’s eternal friend Arjuna.

All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

Your servant,

Giriraj dasa

Bhagavad Gita 18.74

Hare Krishna and pranams dear devotees,

A few weeks back we read Bhagavad Gita 18.74 verse on our Whatsapp group. I am sharing the verse and my two penny worth of thoughts on it.

Sanjay is saying that he felt ecstasy after hearing the conversation between Govindadev and Arjuna. It made me think as to how many times I felt ecstatic after reading verses from Bhagavad Gita… not too many.

If we wish to progress in spiritual life then it’s very important for us to hear very attentively. Out of nine limbs of bhakti Sravanam or hearing is the most important and most effective. And proper hearing naturally includes following the instructions.

Being Krishna consciousness does not mean becoming a pious Hindu, which is not very different from being a pious Christian or a pious Muslim. I follow a particular faith simply because I am born in it. I have no clue about who is God, what is my relationship with God or what is God’s role in my personal life, going back to God doesn’t even come in my list of priorities.

The teaching of Bhagavad Gita, on the other hand, is the supreme science- the science of the soul. It’s a revelation, which if heard sincerely and from a bonafide source, starts a revolution within us. If we will follow Krishna’s instructions then definitely there will be a revolution in our heart. We will find the purpose of our existence and how to reach there.

Srimad Bhagavatam says

On the other hand, that literature which is full of descriptions of the transcendental glories of the name, fame, forms and pastimes of the unlimited Supreme Lord is a different creation, full of transcendental words directed toward bringing about a revolution in the impious lives of this world’s misdirected civilization. Such transcendental literatures, even though imperfectly composed, are heard, sung and accepted by purified men who are thoroughly hones.

(SB 1.5.11)

That’s why Srila Prabhupada writes in his purport of Bhagavad Gita 18.74 that if we follow in the footsteps of Arjuna to understand Krishna, then our life will be happy and successful.

Our proposition is to give up all these mental concoctions and come to the spiritual platform. If one comes to the spiritual platform, there will be no more revolution. As Dhruva Maharaja said, nātaḥ paraṁ parama vedmi na yatra vādaḥ: “Now that I am seeing God, I am completely satisfied. Now all kinds of theorizing processes are finished.” So God consciousness is the final revolution.

(JSD, chapter 7)

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to get goosebumps after reading every single verse of Bhagavad Gita? Don’t we have a desire to see God face to face?

We had so many lifetimes, can’t we offer just one lifetime to Krishna?

All glories to Srimad Bhagavad Gita

All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

Your servant,

Giriraj dasa

The potency of Bhagavad Gita

December is the month in which Krishna spoke Bhagavad gita to Arjuna. The exact day, also known as Gita Jayanti, falls on Moskshada Ekadasi. December is also the month in which book distribution exploded in the west in seventies. Since then devotees in ISKCON have worked hard to keep the same spirit alive. Come December and all over the world ISKCON devotees come out on the streets to distribute Bhagavad gita to the general public, its also called book marathon. As Gita Jayanti month comes to an end let me share a wonderful verse to meditate upon, which I recently heard in a lecture from HG Srimati Mataji. I am sharing brief excerpts from her lecture and the verse below.

The context of this verse is that Krishna has left the planet and Arjuna is feeling pangs of separation from Him.

HG Srimati mataji: If we are essence seekers then we should be aware that Krishna speaking Bhagavad gita to Arjuna is not the end of the story. There is a second advent of Bhagavad gita to Arjuna. When he is in separation from Krishna Bhagavad gita advents in his mind and guides him back home. That’s very very special for us, so as an essence seeker that’s where we should look next.

We can never beat gita in terms of shastra, it is an amazing scripture. We always talk about Bhagavatam. In Bhagavatam we learn about names of Krishna, we learn about form of Krishna, we learn about pastimes of Krishna – that is wonderful but none of those things have any substance in terms of us having a relationship with the person if we don’t the mind of the person. What’s the value me knowing your form if we don’t know where we are at. How can I relate to him on real terms. So Krishna is revealing His mind in Bhagavad gita. And it is these instructions, its not all the amazing experiences that Arjuna had with Krishna that gave him actual solace. He remembered them but that wasn’t what that gave him the solace. What enlivened and illuminated his heart was the instructions Govindadev gave. I find that pretty amazing and for me personally celebration of Gita Jayanti is not complete unless we look at this. (pause)

Here is the special verse :

देशकालार्थयुक्तानि हृत्तापोपशमानि च ।
हरन्ति स्मरतश्चित्तं गोविन्दाभिहितानि मे ॥ २७ ॥

Now I am attracted to those instructions imparted to me by the Personality of Godhead [Govinda] because they are impregnated with instructions for relieving the burning heart in all circumstances of time and space.

Purport:

Herein Arjuna refers to the instruction of the Bhagavad gita, which was imparted to him by the Lord on the Battlefield of Kurukṣetra. The Lord left behind Him the instructions of the  Bhagavad gita  not for the benefit of Arjuna alone, but also for all time and in all lands. The  Bhagavad gita, being spoken by the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is the essence of all Vedic wisdom. It is nicely presented by the Lord Himself for all who have very little time to go through the vast Vedic literatures like the Upaniṣads, Purāṇas and Vedānta-sūtras. It is put within the study of the great historical epic Mahābhārata, which was especially prepared for the less intelligent class, namely the women, the laborers and those who are worthless descendants of the brāhmaṇas, kṣatriyas and higher sections of the vaiśyas. The problem which arose in the heart of Arjuna on the Battlefield of Kurukṣetra was solved by the teachings of the  Bhagavad gita. Again, after the departure of the Lord from the vision of earthly people, when Arjuna was face to face with being vanquished in his acquired power and prominence, he wanted again to remember the great teachings of the  Bhagavad gita  just to teach all concerned that the  Bhagavad gita  can be consulted in all critical times, not only for solace from all kinds of mental agonies, but also for the way out of great entanglements which may embarrass one in some critical hour.

The merciful Lord left behind Him the great teachings of the  Bhagavad gita so that one can take the instructions of the Lord even when He is not visible to material eyesight. Material senses cannot have any estimation of the Supreme Lord, but by His inconceivable power the Lord can incarnate Himself to the sense perception of the conditioned souls in a suitable manner through the agency of matter, which is also another form of the Lord’s manifested energy. Thus the  Bhagavad gita, or any authentic scriptural sound representation of the Lord, is also the incarnation of the Lord. There is no difference between the sound representation of the Lord and the Lord Himself. One can derive the same benefit from the  Bhagavad gita  as Arjuna did in the personal presence of the Lord.

The faithful human being who is desirous of being liberated from the clutches of material existence can very easily take advantage of the  Bhagavad gita, and with this in view, the Lord instructed Arjuna as if Arjuna were in need of it…. The  Bhagavad gita  is therefore meant for terminating all different types of miseries, and Arjuna took shelter of this great knowledge, which had been imparted to him during the Kurukṣetra battle.

(SB 1.15.27+p)

HG Srimati mataji: ….That’s why Prabhupada gave us Bhagavad gita. How many of us read Bhagavad gita daily? We do not understand the preciousness or the potency of Bhagavad gita of what Prabhupada has given us. It’s not only because of the instructions that have been given, its because Bhagavad gita is the words of Govindadev, adi purusham Govindadev. Words of Govindadev are nondifferent from Govindadev. So just by associating with the words of Bhagavad gita we are directly associating with Govindadev.

And if you are chanting Bhagavad gita every day then it’s such an amazing thing , because you are not just chanting those words but they are Govinda’s words. And the potency of it is that immediately, just by the act of you repeating Govindadev’s words, you are properly situated as His servant. And just by the act of you chanting Bhagavad gita daily you get His shelter, you get His protection, you get His guidance, you get everything because you are properly situated in His service. Just by repeating His words! It’s amazing. We are not aware of the potency and the incredible depth what Prabhupada has given us.

How many people read Bhagavad gita daily? Who reads Gita daily? Nobody is interested in Gita. There are just so many other things. But Gita is where you start. As I said in the beginning, if we don’t know a person’s mind what’s so important about knowing what he looks like or what he does- it’s so shallow. Where is the relationship? How can you have a relationship with somebody if we don’t know their mind? We may be able to rattle of about everything they do and rattle of about what they look like but have you had any depth of relationship with that person? You can’t. Gita at so many levels is so amazing. (pause)

Hearing the self-illuminated verse, Prabhupada’s purport and Srimati mataji’s lecture all had a combined effect on my heart and I felt inspired to start reading one chapter of Bhagavad gita daily – verses and their translation.

We make so many new year resolutions or keep different vratas throughout the year. So it may not be such a bad idea to resolve to chant the words of Govindadev daily and get an opportunity to closer to Krishna’s lotus feet. It may well be the support we need to fill our heart with enthusiasm, determination and patience to progress solidly in Krishna consciousness.

All glories to Sri Bhagavad Gita

All glories to Srila Prabhupada

your servant,

Giriraj dasa

Sri Radha Shyamsundar

Every ISKCON devotee and millions outside ISKCON have a unique relationship and longing for the lotus feet of Sri Radha Shyamsundar of ISKCON Vrindavan. They are one of the beautiful deities on planet earth.  I am sure we all have our unique feelings when we stand in front of Them, mesmerised by their beauty and mercy and feeling goosebumps as we pray. 

Let me share something personal today.

We have a picture of Sri Radha-Shyamsundar inside our altar at home. On the left wall of the altar we also have a single frame with three pictures of Radha Madanmohan, Radha Govindadev and Radha Gopinath, original Deities from Vrindavan and now residing at Jaipur and Karauli — all in Rajasthan). These three deities are the presiding deities of Sambhanda , Abhidheya and prayojana for Gaudiya Vaishnavas.

Every day after chanting my morning Gayatri I first offer my pranams to all three of Them then I turn towards the front of the altar. Many times when I would offer my pranams to all three of the Deities in the single picture frame and then turn my face towards Radha Shyamsundar, I would feel that all these three deities, Radha Madanmohan, Radha Govindadev, and Radha Gopinath have manifested Themselves as one in Radha Shyamsundar.

I felt that manifesting from the heart of Srila Prabhupada, Radharani’s Shyamsundar attracts new visitors and devotees in the temple and confirms our eternal relationship with Him within our heart (sambhandha).

Then His darshan and mystical smile inspire thousands of souls to progress in devotional service and He gradually starts accepting our service (abhidheya).

And finally, as our devotion matures, then some fortunate souls serve Him by their spiritually purified senses and fulfill the desires of Lord (prayojana).

So as Shyamsundar Krishna is manifesting and reciprocating as all three- Madanmohan, Govindadev and Gopinath – in one form. Such are the mysterious dealings of Sri Radha Shyamsundar.

All glories to Sri Sri Radha Shyamsundar.

All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

Your servant,

Giriraj dasa


Chanting of the Holy Name

Hare Krishna and pranams dear devotees,

Let us try to learn the fundamentals of chanting of the Holy Name from Srila Prabhupada as our founder acharya explains its importance, the dos and don’ts and also the remedy if we commit offenses while chanting.

How should we do chant the Holy Name?

It is recommended that such chanting be performed very loudly. In Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Nārada Muni says that without shame he began traveling all over the world, chanting the holy name of the Lord. Similarly, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu has advised:

tṛṇād api sunīcena taror api sahiṣṇunā
amāninā mānadena kīrtanīyaḥ sadā hariḥ

A devotee can very peacefully chant the holy name of the Lord by behaving more humbly than the grass, being tolerant like a tree and offering respects to everyone, without expecting honor from anyone else. Such qualifications make it easier to chant the holy name of the Lord.

Who can Chant the Holy Name?

The process of transcendental chanting can be easily performed by anyone. Even if one is physically unfit, classified lower than others, devoid of material qualifications or not at all elevated in terms of pious activities, the chanting of the holy name is beneficial. An aristocratic birth, an advanced education, beautiful bodily features, wealth and similar results of pious activities are all unnecessary for advancement in spiritual life, for one can very easily advance simply by chanting the holy name.

Our disqualification is our qualification

It is understood from the authoritative source of Vedic literature that especially in this age, Kali-yuga, people are generally short-living, extremely bad in their habits, and inclined to accept methods of devotional service that are not bona fide. Moreover, they are always disturbed by material conditions, and they are mostly unfortunate. Under the circumstances, the performance of other processes, such as yajña, dāna, tapaḥ and kriyā — sacrifices, charity and so on — are not at all possible.

Chanting of the Holy Name is the only way

Therefore it is recommended:

harer nāma harer nāma harer nāmaiva kevalam
kalau nāsty eva nāsty eva nāsty eva gatir anyathā

“In this age of quarrel and hypocrisy the only means of deliverance is chanting of the holy name of the Lord. There is no other way. There is no other way. There is no other way.” Simply by chanting the holy name of the Lord, one advances perfectly in spiritual life. This is the best process for success in life. In other ages, the chanting of the holy name is equally powerful, but especially in this age, Kali-yuga, it is most powerful. Kīrtanād eva kṛṣṇasya mukta-saṅgaḥ paraṁ vrajet: simply by chanting the holy name of Kṛṣṇa, one is liberated and returns home, back to Godhead.

Therefore, even if one is able to perform other processes of devotional service, one must adopt the chanting of the holy name as the principal method of advancing in spiritual lifeYajñaiḥ saṅkīrtana-prāyair yajanti hi sumedhasaḥ: those who are very sharp in their intelligence should adopt this process of chanting the holy names of the Lord. One should not, however, manufacture different types of chanting. One should adhere seriously to the chanting of the holy name as recommended in the scriptures: Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

Easy process but remain vigilant

While chanting the holy name of the Lord, one should be careful to avoid ten offenses. From Sanat-kumāra it is understood that even if a person is a severe offender in many ways, he is freed from offensive life if he takes shelter of the Lord’s holy name. Indeed, even if a human being is no better than a two-legged animal, he will be liberated if he takes shelter of the holy name of the Lord. One should therefore be very careful not to commit offenses at the lotus feet of the Lord’s holy name.

The offenses are described as follows: (a) to blaspheme a devotee, especially a devotee engaged in broadcasting the glories of the holy name, (b) to consider the name of Lord Śiva or any other demigod to be equally as powerful as the holy name of the Supreme Personality of Godhead (no one is equal to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, nor is anyone superior to Him), (c) to disobey the instructions of the spiritual master, (d) to blaspheme the Vedic literatures and literatures compiled in pursuance of the Vedic literatures, (e) to comment that the glories of the holy name of the Lord are exaggerated, (f) to interpret the holy name in a deviant way, (g) to commit sinful activities on the strength of chanting the holy name, (h) to compare the chanting of the holy name to pious activities, (i) to instruct the glories of the holy name to a person who has no understanding of the chanting of the holy name, (j) not to awaken in transcendental attachment for the chanting of the holy name, even after hearing all these scriptural injunctions.

What if I commit offences?

There is no way to atone for any of these offenses. It is therefore recommended that an offender at the feet of the holy name continue to chant the holy name twenty-four hours a day. Constant chanting of the holy name will make one free of offenses, and then he will gradually be elevated to the transcendental platform on which he can chant the pure holy name and thus become a lover of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

Don’t be anxious, seek forgiveness

It is recommended that even if one commits offenses, one should continue chanting the holy name. In other words, the chanting of the holy name makes one offenseless. In the book Nāma-kaumudī it is recommended that if one is an offender at the lotus feet of a Vaiṣṇava, he should submit to that Vaiṣṇava and be excused; similarly, if one is an offender in chanting the holy name, he should submit to the holy name and thus be freed from his offenses.

In this connection there is the following statement, spoken by Dakṣa to Lord Śiva: “I did not know the glories of your personality, and therefore I committed an offense at your lotus feet in the open assembly. You are so kind, however, that you did not accept my offense. Instead, when I was falling down because of accusing you, you saved me by your merciful glance. You are most great. Kindly excuse me and be satisfied with your own exalted qualities.”

One should be very humble and meek to offer one’s desires and chant prayers composed in glorification of the holy name, such as ayi mukta-kulair upāsya mānam and nivṛtta-tarṣair upagīyamānād. One should chant such prayers to become free from offenses at the lotus feet of the holy name.

(SB 7.5.23-24p)

I hope something touched your heart reading it as it did mine. I felt embarrassed thinking about the quality of my chanting but I also felt the encouraging hand of Srila Prabhupada guiding me gently.

The unique thing about the above post is that except for the questions, which I made up, and the introductory line, rest everything else is a word to word copy from Srila Prabhupada’s purport from the famous SB 7.5.23-24 (śravaṇaṁ kīrtanaṁ viṣṇoḥ). I did not add or change a single word.

We can appreciate how methodically Srila Prabhupada wrote these purports for us. Answer to all our spiritual questions, steps to make further advancement in our spiritual journey, yardsticks to measure our spiritual progress and remedies for our offences/ mistakes in Krishna consciousness are all there in Bhaktivedanta purports– we simply need to open the books and read them.

All glories to the most merciful Holy Name.

All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

your servant,

Giriraj dasa

Who is an eternal associate of the Lord?

Hare Krishna and pranams dear devotees,

We frequently hear that such and such exalted Vaishnava is an eternal associate of Krishna or Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Some other terms used for an eternal associate of Lord are Sangi or pāriṣada. Let’s hear from Srīla Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura what is the real significance of being called an eternal associate of Lord and what is the qualification needed to be called one.

The Gauḍīya: Ṭhakura [Narottama dasa] Mahāśaya writes, gaurāṅgera saṅgi-gane, nitya-siddha kari māne, se yāya brajendra-nanda pāśa: “Anyone who is preaching the saṅkīrtana movement is an associate of Caitanya Mahāprabhu.” So whom should we accept as gaurāṅgera saṅgī, Lord Gaurāṅga’s associates or companions?

Srīla Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura: Only those who support Śrī Gaurāṅga’s mood of separation are actual associates of Gaurāṅga; they are His saṅgī. Those who fulfill Gaura’s mission, who serve His inner desire, are His associates. Those who eternally remain present with Gaurāṅga in order to serve Him are gaurāṅgera saṅgī.

While traveling in South India, Śrīmān Mahāprabhu converted people in village after village to Vaiṣṇavism, but those who did not engage constantly in His mission –who did not associate with Mahāprabhu at all times by dedicating everything to Him –how can they be called His “associates”?

The word saṅgī derives from the word saṅga, which means “one who approaches completely.” Those who did not associate with the Lord constantly cannot be called His saṅgī. They can be called His bhaktas, but not His saṅgī.

Another word for saṅgī is pāriṣada. Even though Ṭhākura Narottama did not appear when Śrīmān Mahāprabhu was having His pastimes, he is still Śrīmān Mahāprabhu’s saṅgī because he appeared in this world only to fulfill Mahāprabhu’s mission and is eternally absorbed in His service –totally overwhelmed by Mahāprabhu’s internal mood. He nourishes the Lord’s mood of separation and is therefore a nitya-siddha devotee.

(Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura and the Editor of The Gaudiya, March 23, 1926)

I hope we understood a little bit about the exalted position of someone who is an eternal associate of Lord- someone who is sold-out to the mission of Krishna, dedicating everything for Krishna’s service.

The above would also imply that there is a window of opportunity available for every soul to go back to Godhead and become an eternal associate of Lord by following the path shown to us by previous acharyas – Narad, Dhruv Maharaj, Prahalada Maharaj, our own acharya – Srila Prabhupada. What is needed is a burning desire and a heart that is sold out to the service of Sri Guru and Gauranga. Srimad Bhagavatam says-

O Lord, who resemble the shining sun, You are always ready to fulfill the desire of Your devotee, and therefore You are known as a desire tree [vāñchā-kalpataru]. When ācāryas completely take shelter under Your lotus feet in order to cross the fierce ocean of nescience, they leave behind on earth the method by which they cross, and because You are very merciful to Your other devotees, You accept this method to help them.

(SB 10.2.31)

This human form of body is a most valuable boat, and the spiritual master is the captain, guru-karṇadhāram, to guide the boat in plying across the ocean of nescience. The instruction of Krishna is a favorable breeze. One must use all these facilities to cross over the ocean of nescience. Since the spiritual master is the captain, one must serve the spiritual master very sincerely so that by his mercy one will be able to get the mercy of the Supreme Lord.

(SB 7.15.45p)

The path is there, the process has been given and an unlimited amount of mercy is flowing our way- the choice is ours.

All glories to Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura

All glories to Sri Guru and Sri Gauranga

All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

your servant,

Giriraj dasa

Taking shelter of Krishna

Hare Krishna and Pranams dear devotees,

In response to my last blog ‘Turning distress into an opportunity‘, I received a few calls from devotees on taking shelter of Krishna in times of distress. In all the calls the crux was the same- Should we trouble Krishna with our material problems? Shouldn’t bhakti should be practiced without any motivation. My response was- of course bhakti should not be motivated, which means we practice bhakti for no other purpose than to please Krishna. But when faced with challenges in our lives then whose shelter should we take? Should we place our faith in Krishna’s hands or should we put it in the hands of some demigod, doctor, lawyer, money deposits, etc.?

As a small child depends exclusively upon his father similarly we, aspiring devotees, should practice keeping our faith only in Krishna. We do whatever else needed to be done but we should have the firm faith that the final decision is in the hands of Krishna and hence take shelter of Krishna only. Of course, as a dependent servant, we accept with love whatever Krishna finally decides to do about it.

This morning I read a beautiful verse from Srimad Bhagavatam and in his purport, Srila Prabhupada speaks about the importance of taking shelter of Krishna. I am sharing the same with you all of you.

tasyogra-daṇḍa-saṁvignāḥ  sarve lokāḥ sapālakāḥ
anyatrālabdha-śaraṇāḥ  śaraṇaṁ yayur acyutam

Everyone, including the rulers of the various planets, was extremely distressed because of the severe punishment inflicted upon them by Hiraṇyakaśipu. Fearful and disturbed, unable to find any other shelter, they at last surrendered to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Viṣṇu.

Lord Krishna says in Bhagavad-gītā (5.29):

bhoktāraṁ yajña-tapasāṁ
 sarva-loka-maheśvaram
suhṛdaṁ sarva-bhūtānāṁ
 jñātvā māṁ śāntim ṛcchati

“The sage who knows Me as the ultimate purpose of all sacrifices and austerities, the Supreme Lord of all planets and demigods, and the benefactor and well-wisher of all living entities attains peace from the pangs of material miseries.” The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna, is actually the best friend of everyone. In a condition of distress or misery, one wants to seek shelter of a well-wishing friend. The well-wishing friend of the perfect order is Lord Sri Krishna. Therefore all the inhabitants of the various planets, being unable to find any other shelter, were obliged to seek shelter at the lotus feet of the supreme friend. If from the very beginning we seek shelter of the supreme friend, there will be no cause of danger. It is said that if a dog is swimming in the water and one wants to cross the ocean by catching hold of the dog’s tail, certainly he is foolish. Similarly, if in distress one seeks shelter of a demigod, he is foolish, for his efforts will be fruitless. In all circumstances, one should seek shelter of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Then there will be no danger under any circumstances.

(SB 7.4.21+p)

There are innumerable examples – Gajendra, Kunti Maharani, Pandavas, all the Vrajavasis practiced it -Nanada Maharaj, gopas and the gopis. In all their challenges, they would call out only one person- Krishna!

Nanda Maharaj took shelter of Krishna

While Nanda Maharaja was returning home, he considered Vasudeva’s warning that there might be some disturbance in Gokula. Certainly the advice was friendly and not false. So Nanda thought, ”There is some truth in it.” Therefore, out of fear he took shelter of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. It is quite natural for a devotee in danger to think of Krishna, because he has no other shelter. When a child is in danger, he takes shelter of his mother or father. Similarly, a devotee is always under the shelter of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, but when he specifically sees some danger, he remembers the Lord very rapidly.

( Krishna Book, chapter 6)

Gopas always call out to Krishna

Since it was almost night and all the inhabitants of Vrindavan, including the cows and calves, were very tired, they decided to take their rest on the riverbank. In the middle of the night, while they were taking rest, there was suddenly a great forest fire, and it quickly appeared that the fire would soon devour all the inhabitants of Vrindavan. As soon as they felt the warmth of the fire, they immediately took shelter of Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, although He was playing just like their child. They began to say, ”Our dear Krishna! O Supreme Personality of Godhead! Our dear Balarama, reservoir of all strength! Please try to save us from this all-devouring and devastating fire. We have no shelter other than You. This devastating fire will swallow us all!” Thus they prayed to Krishna, saying that they could not take any shelter other than His lotus feet. Lord Krishna, being compassionate upon His own townspeople, immediately swallowed up the whole forest fire and saved them.

(Krishna Book, chapter 17)

Whole Vraja took shelter of Krishna

Ordered by King Indra, all the dangerous clouds appeared above Vrindavan and began to pour water incessantly, with all their strength and power. There was constant lightning and thunder, blowing of severe wind, and incessant falling of rain. The rain seemed to fall like piercing sharp arrows. By pouring water as thick as pillars, without cessation, the clouds gradually filled all the lands in Vrindavan with water, and there was no visible distinction between higher and lower land. The situation was very dangerous, especially for the animals. The rainfall was accompanied by great winds, and every living creature in Vrindavan began to tremble from the severe cold.

Unable to find any other source of deliverance, they all approached Govinda to take shelter at His lotus feet. The cows especially, being much aggrieved from the heavy rain, bowed down their heads, and taking their calves underneath their bodies, they approached the Supreme Personality of Godhead to take shelter of His lotus feet. At that time all the inhabitants of Vrindavan began to pray to Lord Krishna. ”Dear Krishna,” they prayed, ”You are all-powerful, and You are very affectionate to Your devotees. Now please protect us, who have been much harassed by angry Indra.”

(Krishna Book, chapter 25 )

Gopi’s golden advise for us

Your lotus feet are the proper shelter of Your servitors.

(Krishna Book, chapter 29)

I pray that it helped and it inspires us to take shelter of Krishna’s lotus feet in all conditions- favourable or unfavourable.

All glories to the divine shelter of Krishna

All glories to Srila Prabhupada

Your servant,

Giriraj dasa

Bhadra Purnima – a special day to glorify book Bhagavata and the devotee Bhagavata

Hare Krishna and pranams dear devotees,

Today is Bhadra Purnima, a very auspicious and special day for all the devotees of lord Krishna.

Visvarupa- mahotsava

Today is Visvarupa- mahotsava , the date on which Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s elder brother, Visvarupa, took sannyasa, the renounced order of life. We hear from Caitanya Caritamrta –

After this, Jagannātha Miśra got a son of the name Viśvarūpa, who was most powerful and highly qualified because He was an incarnation of Baladeva.

Viśvarūpa was the elder brother of Gaurahari, Lord Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. When arrangements were being made for the marriage of Viśvarūpa, He took sannyāsa and left home. He took the sannyāsa name of Śaṅkarāraṇya. In 1431 Śakābda Era (A.D. 1509), He disappeared in Pāṇḍarapura, in the district of Sholapur. As an incarnation of Saṅkarṣaṇa, He is both the ingredient and immediate cause of the creation of this material world. He is nondifferent from Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, for the aṁśa and the aṁśī, or the part and the whole, are not different. As an incarnation of Saṅkarṣaṇa, Viśvarūpa belongs to the quadruple manifestation of catur-vyūha. In the Gaura-candrodaya it is said that Viśvarūpa, after His so-called demise, remained mixed within Śrī Nityānanda Prabhu.

(CC Adi 13 174+p)

Bhadra Purnima

Today is also Bhadra purnima, a very auspicious day to serve Srimad Bhagavatam. Bhagvatam declares –

If on the full moon day of the month of Bhādra one places Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam on a golden throne and gives it as a gift, he will attain the supreme transcendental destination.

(SB 12.13.13)

Varaah Purana says-

Sri Narayana said to Brahma, O saintly brahmana! among all of my festivals, the celebration of the appearance of Srimad Bhagavatam is the best. I am subdued by persons who with devotion and love hear, decorate and worship Srimad Bhagavatam, with clothes, ornaments, flowers, incense and lamp during festivals, just as a chaste wife subdues her husband.

(Varaha Purana)

So Bhadra Purnima is a great day to gift Srimad Bhagavatam to someone close to us, including bringing Srimad Bhagavatam in our own home. We can also start reading Srimad Bhagavatam from today and even dedicate ourselves to read at least verse from SB daily. There are multiple ways we can serve the lotus feet of Srimad Bhagavatam this Bhadra Purnima and reap the benediction Krishna has kindly left for us.

Srila Sanatana Goswami prays to Srimad Bhagavatam ( and we can pray the same) –

O Srimad-Bhagavatam, I offer respectful obeisances unto You. By reading you one attains transcendental bliss, for Your syllables rain pure love of God upon the reader. You are always to be served by everyone, for you are an incarnation of Krishna.

O Srimad-Bhagavatam, O my only friend, O my companion, O my teacher, O my great wealth, O my deliverer, O my good fortune, O my bliss, I offer respectful obeisances unto you.

O Srimad-Bhagavatam, O giver of saintliness to the unsaintly, O uplifter of the very fallen, please do not ever leave me. Please become manifested upon my heart and my throat, accompanied by pure love of Krishna.

(Krishna lila stava, verses, verses 414-416)

Srila Prabhupada took Sannyasa

Sixty years ago, on this very day, Srila Prabhupada took sannyasa for us. He accepted the order of sannyasa from Sri Srimad Bhaktiprajnana Kesava Maharaja on September 17, 1959 at the Kesavaji Matha in Mathura.

The Background

I was sitting alone in Vṛndāvana, writing. My Godbrother insisted to me, “Bhaktivedanta Prabhu, you must do it. Without accepting the renounced order of life, nobody can become a preacher.” So he insisted. Not he insisted; practically my spiritual master insisted. He wanted me to become a preacher, so he forced me through this Godbrother: “You accept.” So, unwillingly I accepted.

( Srila Prabhupada Lilamrta, Vol 1, chapter 9 )

Sannyasa ceremony

Abhay sat on a mat of kuśa grass beside ninety-year-old Sanātana, also to receive sannyāsa that day. Sitting opposite the two candidates, Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja, Keśava Mahārāja’s disciple, prepared to conduct the ceremony of mantras and offerings of grains and ghee into the fire. Akiñcana Kṛṣṇadāsa Bābājī, Abhay’s Godbrother, known for sweet singing, played mṛdaṅga and sang Vaiṣṇava bhajanas. Sitting on a raised āsana, His Holiness Keśava Mahārāja presided. Since there had been no notices or invitations, only the maṭha’s few residents attended.

Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja chanted the required mantras and then sat back silently while Keśava Mahārāja lectured. Then, to everyone’s surprise, Keśava Mahārāja asked Abhay to speak. Abhay had not expected this. As he looked around at the gathering of devotees, he understood that the common language was Hindi; only Keśava Mahārāja and a few others spoke English. Yet he knew he must speak in English.

After Abhay’s speech, each initiate received his sannyāsa-daṇḍa, the traditional head-high staff made of four bamboo rods bound together and completely enwrapped in saffron cloth. They were given their sannyāsa garments: one piece of saffron cloth for a dhotī, one for a top piece, and two strips for underwear. They also received tulasī neck beads and the sannyāsa-mantra. Keśava Mahārāja said that Abhay would now be known as Bhaktivedanta Swami Mahārāja and that Sanātana would be Muni Mahārāja. After the ceremony, the two new sannyāsīs posed for a photo, standing on either side of their sannyāsa-guru, who sat in a chair.

Keśava Mahārāja didn’t impose any strictures on Abhay; he simply encouraged him to go on preaching. Yet Abhay knew that to become A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami did not mean merely that he was giving up family, home comforts, and business. That he had done five years ago. Changing from white cloth to saffron cloth, from Abhay Bābū to Bhaktivedanta Swami Mahārāja, had a special significance: it was the mandate he had required, the irrevocable commitment. Now it was only a matter of time before Bhaktivedanta Swami would travel to the West as Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī had ordained. This was Bhaktivedanta Swami’s realization of his new sannyāsa status.

(Srila Prabhupada Lilamrta, Vol 1, chapter 9)

Does everyone need to take Sannyasa?

“The Krishna consciousness movement is not that we are asking everyone to become a sannyāsī like me, and give up everything. No. That is not our program. You act as a brāhmaṇa, as a kṣatriya or a vaiśya or a śūdra. It doesn’t matter. But you try to satisfy Krishna. That is the program.”

(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, Bombay, December 30, 1972)

Srila Prabhupada’s special relationship with Bhagavatam

When asked, “Are you going to America?” Srila Prabhupada replied, “No, Srimad-Bhagavatam is going to America—I am going with it.”

All glories to Vishvarupa Mahotasava

All glories to Bhadra Purnima

All glories to Srimad Bhagavatam

All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

your servant,

Giriraj dasa

Radha Ashtami

Hare Krishna and pranams dear devotees,

Happy Radha Ashtami!

Today I am sharing a wonderful verse and its stunning purport which touches, or should touch, the very core of every devotee’s heart and soul as this purport accommodates the very essence of Gaudiya philosophy and in a very simple to understand language. This unique purport has the potency to bestow upon any sincere and serious devotee a set of master keys to access and open multiple closed doors within our heart. What better day than Radha Ashtami to try to open the close doors within our heart. All the best!

jīvañ chavo bhāgavatāṅghri-reṇuṁ
 na jātu martyo ’bhilabheta yas tu
śrī-viṣṇu-padyā manujas tulasyāḥ
 śvasañ chavo yas tu na veda gandham

The person who has not at any time received the dust of the feet of the Lord’s pure devotee upon his head is certainly a dead body. And the person who has never experienced the aroma of the tulasī leaves from the lotus feet of the Lord is also a dead body, although breathing.

(SB 2.3.23)

According to Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura, the breathing dead body is a ghost. When a man dies, he is called dead, but when he again appears in a subtle form not visible to our present vision and yet acts, such a dead body is called a ghost. Ghosts are always very bad elements, always creating a fearful situation for others. Similarly, the ghostlike nondevotees who have no respect for the pure devotees, nor for the Viṣṇu Deity in the temples, create a fearful situation for the devotees at all times. The Lord never accepts any offering by such impure ghosts.

There is a common saying that one should first love the dog of the beloved before one shows any loving sentiments for the beloved. The stage of pure devotion is attained by sincerely serving a pure devotee of the Lord. The first condition of devotional service to the Lord is therefore to be a servant of a pure devotee, and this condition is fulfilled by the statement “reception of the dust of the lotus feet of a pure devotee who has also served another pure devotee.” That is the way of pure disciplic succession, or devotional paramparā.

Mahārāja Rahūgaṇa inquired from the great saint Jaḍa Bharata as to how he had attained such a liberated stage of a paramahaṁsa, and in answer the great saint replied as follows (Bhāg. 5.12.12):

rahūgaṇaitat tapasā na yāti
 na cejyayā nirvapaṇād gṛhād vā
na cchandasā naiva jalāgni-sūryair
 vinā mahat-pāda-rajo-’bhiṣekam

“O King Rahūgaṇa, the perfectional stage of devotional service, or the paramahaṁsa stage of life, cannot be attained unless one is blessed by the dust of the feet of great devotees. It is never attained by tapasya [austerity], the Vedic worshiping process, acceptance of the renounced order of life, the discharge of the duties of household life, the chanting of the Vedic hymns, or the performance of penances in the hot sun, within cold water or before the blazing fire.”

In other words, Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa is the property of His pure, unconditional devotees, and as such only the devotees can deliver Kṛṣṇa to another devotee; Kṛṣṇa is never obtainable directly. Lord Caitanya therefore designated Himself as gopī-bhartuḥ pada-kamalayor dāsa-dāsānudāsaḥ, or “the most obedient servant of the servants of the Lord, who maintains the gopī damsels at Vṛndāvana.” A pure devotee therefore never approaches the Lord directly, but tries to please the servant of the Lord’s servants, and thus the Lord becomes pleased, and only then can the devotee relish the taste of the tulasī leaves stuck to His lotus feet. In the Brahma-saṁhitā it is said that the Lord is never to be found by becoming a great scholar of the Vedic literatures, but He is very easily approachable through His pure devotee. In Vṛndāvana all the pure devotees pray for the mercy of Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī, the pleasure potency of Lord Kṛṣṇa. Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī is a tenderhearted feminine counterpart of the supreme whole, resembling the perfectional stage of the worldly feminine nature. Therefore, the mercy of Rādhārāṇī is available very readily to the sincere devotees, and once She recommends such a devotee to Lord Kṛṣṇa, the Lord at once accepts the devotee’s admittance into His association. The conclusion is, therefore, that one should be more serious about seeking the mercy of the devotee than that of the Lord directly, and by one’s doing so (by the good will of the devotee) the natural attraction for the service of the Lord will be revived.

(SB 2.3.23p)

(Note: Some doors, having rusty locks, may not open in one go, however if we pray to Srimati Radharani and then read the above purport three times then we may be surprised to hear within our heart the sound of those rusty locks opening up this Radha Ashtami.)

All glories to the most auspicious Radha Ashtami.

All glories to Sri Guru and Gauranga.

All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

Your servant,

Giriraj dasa

p.s.: you may also like to read this previous blog written on Radha Ashtami.

Spiritual realisation vs. material prosperity

Hare Krishna and pranams dear devotees,

This is the third in the series of articles and letters by great acharyas in Gaudiya Vaishnava disciplic succession. In the previous blogs we read the amazing article of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur on Lord Jagannath and the incredible letter written by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur to one of his disciples giving multiple gems on what should the mood a practicing devotee.

Today I am posting a letter by Srila Prabhupada to India’s then prime minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru – highlighting India’s unparalleled spiritual knowledge and heritage and urging the prime minister to help kick start a worldwide revolution based on spiritual realisation rather than simply desiring material prosperity.

Bombay
4 August, 1958

Pandit Sri Jawaharlal Nehru,
Prime Minister of India,
New Delhi-2

My dear Pandit Ji,

Please accept my respectful Namaskar. I beg to inform you that your speech on 2/8/58 at the Gurukul University Haridwar, has given me some inspiration to inform you something about Indian culture. The basic principle of Indian culture is spiritualism which defies the external attraction of phenomenal materialism.

You are thinking of adjusting western ways of material adjustment with Indian culture of spiritualism and I beg to give you herewith the clue that materialism conducted with an aim of reaching spiritual perfection, is the right adjustment of human activity.

If the aim of spiritual realisation is missed, the whole plan of materialism is sure to be frustrated and that is the law of Nature. The law of nature is so made by a superior authority and no body can surpass the intricacies of material nature simply by partial adjustment of material science. The history of the West beginning from the time of the Greeks and the Romans down to the modern age of atomic war—is a continuous chain of sense gratificatory materialism and the result is that the westerners were never in peace within the memory of 3000 years of historical records. Neither it will be possible for them at any time in future to live in peace till the message of spiritualism just suitable to the present age does not reach their heart.

Therefore India may not waste her time in imitating the western way of life. You have admitted it that the position of India’s culture is of very high order. But at the same time you want to bring in material prosperity of India by scientific advancement of knowledge. And what is that scientific Knowledge? Spiritualism is also advanced scientific knowledge. Material advancement of scientific knowledge cannot give even the desired material prosperity to the people in general without spiritual help. Swaraj of Mahatma Gandhi was adjusted in spiritualism more than materialism. Do you think that horseless carriage or telephonic or radio communication or any other such ephemeral facilities of life, can bring in material prosperity? No it cannot. Material prosperity means that the people must have sufficient to eat or to maintain the body and soul together in sound health for further development in spiritual consciousness which is conspicuous by its absence in the sense gratificatory life of the animal. Do you think that your different plans have brought in that standard of material prosperity or that modern western civilization can bring in that ideal prosperity? Even they are given all the facilities of material need yet the unrest will continue to go on till there is spiritual satisfaction of life. That is the secret of peace.

Both the Americans and the Russians are better materially advanced and although they have different political philosophy of life till they are not materially happy and peaceful because both of them are unconciously hankering after spiritual realisation as the child cries for the mother without expression by language. You can help the people of the world for satisfying their spiritual hankering as the true Indian messenger of peace. The world has recognized your sincere effort for endeavouring peace in the world and this is the suitable time to help your friends and at the same time glorify the standard of Indian spiritual advancement of knowledge for world peace. Please take up the matter in cool brain.

Poverty means poverty of knowledge. Prime minister Canakya Pandit used to live in a thatched house or cottage but he was the dictator of India in the days of Emperor Candra Gupta. Mahatma Gandhi your political Guru voluntarily accepted the ways of the so called poor Indians and still he was the dictator of India’s destiny. But was he actually poverty sticken on account of his plain living with the primitive charkha? He was always proud of his spiritual knowledge. Therefore it is the spiritual knowledge which makes a man really rich and not the radio set or the motor car. Please therefore try to understand this position of Indian culture and try to give it to the western brothers in the prescribed standard method of the liberated persons and that will be an exchange of Indian culture with western material advancement and necessarily bring in a happy life in the peaceful world.

Here is a programme of spiritual movement (an appeal enclosed herewith). I am struggling alone very hard to give it an effective shape without any help from persons like you. You can help the movement a lot without the least difficulty or disturbances.

My humble advice to you, as I am your old friend from Allahabad, is that you should now take leave form you present responsibility of Prime ministership and as you are a popular gentleman of the world you can just engage the rest of your most valuable life in this organized spiritual movement to achieve the aim of your life which is yet to be known by the __ the world. By pushing on this authorized spiritual movement you can make a real adjustment of the western material science combined with Indian way of spiritual realisation.

Please therefore think over this proposal very seriously and let me know your reaction upon it and oblige. If you can spare a little time, I am sure to convince you about its importance more quickly. Thanking you in anticipation and awaiting your early reply.

Yours sincerely,
A.C. B.

Private letter per registered post
Enclosure:-1.

Srila Prabhupada didn’t receive reply to his letter.

But this letter, like it’s glorious author, is self-illumined. We can spend a couple of hours explaining deeper points put across in such a simple and easy to understand manner, the quality of analogies and examples used is simply outstanding. Srila Prabhupada’s conviction in India’s spiritual knowledge and values shines bright. And this is Srila Prabhupada in 1958!

An intelligent person should therefore discuss, contemplate and analyse this thought-provoking letter for its practical application. We can also use this letter as a yardstick to measure our own conviction in spiritual values and spiritual realisation. And finally to check what is my priority in life :- Spiritual realisation or material prosperity?

All glories to Sri Guru and Gauranga.

All glories to Srila Prabhupada

Your servant,

Giriraj dasa

Please click here to see the scanned copy of the original hand written letter written by Srila Prabhupada.