It’s All in the Mind!

The following QnA is based on the Bhagavad Gita!

What’s mind’s role in our lives?

Bg 6.5 — One must deliver himself with the help of his mind, and not degrade himself. The mind is the friend of the conditioned soul, and his enemy as well.

I’m living my life the way I want. Why do I need to conquer the mind?

Bg 6.6 — For him who has conquered the mind, the mind is the best of friends; but for one who has failed to do so, his mind will remain the greatest enemy.
Bg 6.7 — For one who has conquered the mind, the Supersoul is already reached, for he has attained tranquillity. To such a man happiness and distress, heat and cold, honor and dishonor are all the same.
What do I have to lose if I don’t work on my mind?

Bg 6.36 — For one whose mind is unbridled, self-realization is difficult work. But he whose mind is controlled and who strives by appropriate means is assured of success. That is My opinion.
What mindset helps one advance?

Bg 6.9 — A person is considered still further advanced when he regards honest well-wishers, affectionate benefactors, the neutral, mediators, the envious, friends and enemies, the pious and the sinners all with an equal mind.

What’s the highest perfection one can achieve with his mind?

Bg 6.27 — The yogī whose mind is fixed on Me verily attains the highest perfection of transcendental happiness. He is beyond the mode of passion, he realizes his qualitative identity with the Supreme, and thus he is freed from all reactions to past deeds.

What are the signs of a steady mind?

Bg 2.56 — One who is not disturbed in mind even amidst the threefold miseries or elated when there is happiness, and who is free from attachment, fear and anger, is called a sage of steady mind.

What’s the result of making our mind steady and attaining the stage of trance?

Bg 6.19 — As a lamp in a windless place does not waver, so the transcendentalist, whose mind is controlled, remains always steady in his meditation on the transcendent Self.

Bg 6.20-23 — In the stage of perfection called trance, or samādhi, one’s mind is completely restrained from material mental activities by practice of yoga. This perfection is characterized by one’s ability to see the Self by the pure mind and to relish and rejoice in the Self. In that joyous state, one is situated in boundless transcendental happiness, realized through transcendental senses. Established thus, one never departs from the truth, and upon gaining this he thinks there is no greater gain. Being situated in such a position, one is never shaken, even in the midst of greatest difficulty. This indeed is actual freedom from all miseries arising from material contact.
Where should we engage our mind so we advance spiritually?

Bg 6.10 — A transcendentalist should always engage his body, mind and self in relationship with the Supreme; he should live alone in a secluded place and should always carefully control his mind. He should be free from desires and feelings of possessiveness.

Bg 6.11-12 — To practice yoga, one should go to a secluded place and should lay kuśa grass on the ground and then cover it with a deerskin and a soft cloth. The seat should be neither too high nor too low and should be situated in a sacred place. The yogī should then sit on it very firmly and practice yoga to purify the heart by controlling his mind, senses and activities and fixing the mind on one point.

Is it really possible to steady the mind and fix it in the Surpreme?

Bg 6.33 — Arjuna said: O Madhusūdana, the system of yoga which You have summarized appears impractical and unendurable to me, for the mind is restless and unsteady.

Bg 6.34 — The mind is restless, turbulent, obstinate and very strong, O Kṛṣṇa, and to subdue it, I think, is more difficult than controlling the wind.

What do I need to do to make my mind steady?

Bg 6.26 — From wherever the mind wanders due to its flickering and unsteady nature, one must certainly withdraw it and bring it back under the control of the Self.

Bg 6.35 — Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa said: O mighty-armed son of Kuntī, it is undoubtedly very difficult to curb the restless mind, but it is possible by suitable practice and by detachment.

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Self-Realization

What are the different ways people try to realize the Self?

Some people try to realize the Self by empirical, philosophical speculation, while others by devotional service. (BG 3.3)

What are the stumbling blocks on the path of self realization?

Attachments and aversions are stumbling blocks on the path of self-realization. One must follow the principles that help us regulate these emotions. (BG 3.34)

What should be the consciousness of the person aspiring for self-realization?

Although Krishna is the ultimate creator, He’s not affected by His work; He doesn’t aspire for fruits of actions. Whosoever understands this truth doesn’t become entangled with the reactions of his karmas (BG 4.14).

Krishna is the supreme. He is not bound by activities and their results. A person who realizes the greatness of Krishna becomes attached to Him, and therefore, doesn’t have material expectations.  Moreover, such a person realizes that when God doesn’t expect results, how we can have expectations. We are only a small part of His creation.

The liberated souls in the past acted with this understanding. So we have success stories/case studies. Krishna advises us to follow their footsteps. (BG 4.15)

What practices a person aspiring for self-realization should adopt?

  • Use intelligence to purify oneself
  • Control the mind with determination
  • Give up the objects that gratify the senses
  • Become free from attachment or hatred
  • Eat in moderation
  • Control body, mind, speech
  • Become free from false ego, false strength, false pride, lust, anger, false proprietorship. (Krishna is the ability in humans, he is the creator of everything, and therefore, we should be humble in our mind, body, and speech.)
  • Become peaceful
    (BG 18.51-53)

What’s that knowledge that facilitates one to become situated in the Self?

The transcendental knowledge about devotional service, about Krishna is the purest knowledge. It situates our awareness in the self. This is the perfection of all types of knowledge. This knowledge is eternal. Moreover, it gives joy and bliss. (BG 9.2)

What are the qualities of a self realized person?

Krishna has stated the traits of liberated souls in the Bhagavad Gita (BG 5.20):

A liberated person doesn’t become excited when he accomplishes something. He doesn’t  lament when he loses something precious. This person is self-intelligent. That is, his intelligence is fixed in his original self. He knows who he is, why he shouldn’t be attached to his activities or their results. Nothing can bewilder this person. He knows the science of God! He understands his actual, eternal position, so the temporary pleasure and pain don’t bother him.

How Can I Stop Creating Karmas?

BG 3.9:

  • Perform duties that are prescribed according to our skill and nature.
  • Perform those duties for the Lord’s satisfaction.

If we don’t perform our activities as a sacrifice to lord, they create new karmas and bind us to this material world.

When we offer our prescribed activities to the lord, we become free from the bondage.

BG 3.34:

  • Don’t let your attachments and aversion control you. If you do, they will become the stumbling blocks on the path of self-realization.  That is, as long as we’re have material attachments and aversions born from our false ego, we would never be able to see the Self; who we are, and we won’t be able remain in the awareness of the self consistently.
  • To control attachments and aversions, which our senses experience when they come in contact with the sense objects, we should follow the regulative principles under the direction of a bonafide spiritual master.

BG 4.14:

One who understands that Krishna, the creator, the king, has no duty to perform, nor he desires any results of his actions, such a person doesn’t become entangled reactions or results of his actions.

Krishna creates universes but remains aloof from it.

BG 4.18:

One who sees inaction in action and action in inaction is intelligent among men, and he is in the transcendental position, although engaged in all sorts of activities.

BG 4.19:

One is understood to be in full knowledge whose every endeavor is devoid of desire for sense gratification. He is said by sages to be a worker for whom the reactions of work have been burned up by the fire of perfect knowledge.

BG 4.20:

Abandoning all attachment to the results of his activities, ever satisfied and independent, he performs no fruitive action, although engaged in all kinds of undertakings.

BG 4.36:

Even if you are considered to be the most sinful of all sinners, when you are situated in the boat of transcendental knowledge you will be able to cross over the ocean of miseries.

BG 4.37:

As a blazing fire turns firewood to ashes, O Arjuna, so does the fire of knowledge burn to ashes all reactions to material activities.

BG 5.3:

One who understands that he is an instrument of karmas, and to be free of them, he who makes Krishna the center of his thinking, feeling, willing, and doing, becomes free from the material bondages, that is, he becomes liberated.

What’s it Between Me, My Nature, and Material Nature?

Sometimes I feel compelled to do things that I shouldn’t be doing, why?

The Three Modes of Nature (goodness, passion, and darkness/ignorance) compel us to act according to their unique configuration that covers us (souls). This configuration results from our prarabhada karmas (karmas that we’re born to enjoy or suffer).

We’re souls who are under the influence of false ego. Under this influence we think we are the doers of activities that actually the three modes of nature (goodness, passion, ignorance) carry out. (BG 3.27)

The soul doesn’t act, nor does it induce others to act, therefore, the soul doesn’t create results or fruits of actions either. The modes of nature orchestrate activities and interactions. (BG 5.14)

Is there any underlying emotion that impels me to act in a way I do?

Lust. Lust is born in our hearts when we come in contact with the mode of passion. In the material world, the mode of passion dominates.

The origin of all negative emotions is lust. From lust comes anger, which devours the world through personal conflicts, national fights, international fights, and so on. (BG 3.37)

The three modes of nature engage us in material activities according to their unique design for us. As a result we become attached to these activities. These activities or duties we perform are inferior because we don’t have the knowledge about our original duties. (BG 3.29)

Tell me what’s the connection between desires and the mode of passion?

Desires are the cause of the mode of passion. We work hard to get what we want (thinking, feeling, willing, doing) and during this process we create karmas. These karmas keep us bound to this world. (BG 14.7)

At the highest level, because the conditioned souls wanted to enjoy independently of God, the material universe was created. The creation is characterized by the mode of passion.

What’s is it that makes me experience good and evil? 

Living entity enjoys the results of his association with the material nature, which takes place under the influence of the modes of nature. Due to the activities that the modes of nature perform, the living entity experiences the good and evil by transmigrating through various species. (BG 13.22)

Where do the modes of nature originate from?

 These modes manifest from Krishna’s material energy. Although Krishna pervades in everything through his ksirodaskhyai (paramatma) form, He, as Krishna, is independent of everything. He is not influenced by the modes of nature. They are subordinate to Him. (BG 7.12)

Why don’t I and the rest of the world know the original cause of the modes of nature?

Because we’re deluded by the modes of nature. (See verse 7.13), our perspective is limited as well as contaminated. The modes act on consciousness as the dirt works on the glass. It stops us from seeing things as they are.

When was material energy created, and when did we, living entities, come into existence?

Because Krishna is beginningless, so is His material energy and living entities. Whatever transformation we see in the material energy and in the living entities is because of the modes of nature. (“The soul can never be cut to pieces by any weapon, nor burned by fire, nor moistened by water, nor withered by the wind.” (BG 2.23)) What Krishna is talking about here is the transformation of the covering of the soul. That is, body, senses, mind, intelligence. (BG 13.20)

What’s the underlying relationship between the material nature and living entity/soul/me?

Nature is the immediate cause of all material causes and their effects. (BG 13.21) Whereas, the living entity or soul is the cause of the sufferings and enjoyments in this world. We desire, contemplate on our desires, work toward accomplishing what we want, experience pain or pleasure in the course (BG 2.62-63). All begins with lust (BG 3.37).

How will my life change if I understand the relationship between material nature, modes, and soul?

One who understands the philosophy of how material nature influences the living entity through the modes of nature gradually becomes observant, detached from activities and their results, and therefore, is liberated. (BG 13.24)

Tell me more how do the three modes of nature work on me?

Goodness, passion, and ignorance. These three modes influence the soul whenever the soul comes in contact with the nature. Our bodily constitution, thinking, feeling , willing, eating, dressing, likes and dislikes everything is influenced by the modes of nature. (BG 14.5)

Which mode is better than the others?

 The mode of goodness is purer than the modes of passion and ignorance. Those souls who are more influenced by the goodness mode remain free from sinful activities which are the characteristics of the other two modes. This mode engages the soul in knowledge and causes happiness through the pursuits of goodness, such as philanthropic activities, sattvik religious activities. (BG 14.6)

What can the mode of ignorance or darkness do to me if it dominates my personality?

It lands us into crazy things like drug addictions, suicide, murder, etc.

BG 14.8:

  • Deludes embodied living entities
  • Causes madness, indolence, and sleep

It seems like the modes are ropes that bind us! Is it so?

Indeed. The modes are ropes that bind us. The mode of goodness binds us to happiness, mode of passion binds us to result-oriented actions, and the mode of ignorance binds us to madness (it covers knowledge). (BG 14.9)

Do modes work through us in the same way, always?

The modes are dynamic. They keep changing their position. Sometimes goodness has an upper hand, while sometimes passion leads, and other times ignorance wins the race. The modes function dynamically. (BG 14.10)

When does the mode of goodness prevail?

One of the ways the mode of goodness can prevail in us is when the nine gates of body (2 eyes, 2 ears, 2 nostrils, mouth, and genitals) function in knowledge, that’s when we don’t use them for sense gratification, the mode of goodness prevails. (BG 14.11)

How do we know that the mode of passion is dominating?

The symptoms of the mode of passion are attachment, expectations of results, too much endeavor, uncontrollable desires, and hankering. (BG 14.12)

What’re the signs of the mode of darkness?

The signs of this mode are madness and illusion. Becoming mad after somebody or something and acting without thinking which leads to disturbance and destruction. (BG 14.13)

What types of inner qualities develop in each mode?

Mode of goodness develops real knowledge, mode of passion, greed, and mode of ignorance foolishness, madness, and illusion. (BG 14.17)

Where do those, who lived their lives in the mode of goodness, go after death?

If the mode of goodness has dominated throughout life, a soul leaves the body in the same mode and attains higher planets such as heaven. (BG 14.14)

Where do those, who lived their lives in the mode of passion or ignorance, go after death?

One who leaves in the mode of passion, he returns to the planet where fruitive activities are performed. Those who die in the mode of ignorance take birth as animals. (BG 14.15)

What do the actions performed in three modes result in?

Actions performed in the mode of goodness bring happiness and contentment. Those performed in the mode of passion bring misery, and those performed in the mode of ignorance result in foolishness (E.g. someone tries to commit suicide, and before dying realizes what a foolish act he has committed.) (BG 14.16)

Which planets do souls attain according to the modes?

 Goodness: Higher planets, Passion: Earthly planets, Ignorance: Hellish planets (BG 14.18)

Will we always remain under the influence of the modes of nature and won’t be able to overcome them? 

Krishna says His material energy that consists of the three modes of nature is difficult to overcome. Only those who take Krishna’s refuge can cross beyond this energy. Because it’s Krishna’s energy and subordinate to Him, only Krishna can manage it. (BG 7.14)

Knowledge, Practice, and Goal

It’s early December. The sun is balmy in the afternoons. The cold is tolerable right now. In a couple of weeks fog will start rationing the sun light. The sun will rise every morning, so will I, but I won’t be able to soak in the warmth. Fog will be the barrier. The sun is too powerful to be covered by fog. The truth is, fog doesn’t hide the sun; it prevents us–because of our bodily limitations–from seeing it, feeling it. Maya is like this fog. It can’t hide God, but it prevents us from experiencing Him. Maya is subservient to Krishna, but we, in our conditioned state, are subservient to Maya.

In the influence of Maya, we turn life into a battlefield. Instead of taking refuge in Krishna, we make repetitive attempts to alter Maya for our satiation. Arjuna heard Krishna’s message, comprehended it by asking questions, and acted up on Krishna’s advice. Because Arjuna was willing to make Krishna’s will his own will, He could see the supreme. The fog of Maya couldn’t delude Arjuna. Those of us who follow Arjuna’s footsteps come under Krishna’s protection. Then life becomes a spiritual playground.

Vrindavana is the spiritual playground where those who invest themselves in divine love join Krishna’s party. But we, under the sway of Maya, establish our own laws, and the world becomes Kurukshetra. In Kurukshetra, those who try to impose their will on Krishna, perish, and those who make Krishna’s will their own, they journey to the eternal world of eternal truth, eternal knowledge, and eternal bliss.  A systematic, philosophically-sound, and creative learning under an expert master empowers us to experience Vrindvana, where Maya doesn’t cover our vision. In Vrindavana, Krishna gives all His associates ecstatic experiences.

A systematic learning involves three aspects: How we gain knowledge about something, what we practice to realize that knowledge, and finally, what’s the result of our practice. This trio reflects the original paradigm that a soul follows to ignite its dormant divine love.  The original paradigm has the three stages of spiritual advancement, namely, sambandhajñāna, abhidheya, and prayojana. Sambandha-jñāna means establishing one’s original relationship with the Supreme God, first of all, by knowing about Him through scriptures, abhidheya means acting according to that constitutional relationship, and prayojana is the ultimate goal of life, which is to ignite the dormant love for God (premā pum-artho mahān). So, learning anything new in life involves Sambandha (knowledge), Abhideya (practice), and Prayojana (goal/conclusion).  For example, in the process of learning how to make pasta, sambadha would involve reading the recipe in a cookbook. Abhideya would involve actually practicing and acquiring skills in the kitchen and making the pasta. Prayojana would be relishing the pasta.

The paradigm of Sambandha, Abhideya, and Prayojana provides a framework for the universal and eternal teachings of the Bhagavad Gita. The Gita explains the fundamental truth that out of Īśvara (the Supreme Lord), jīva (the living entity), prakti (nature), kāla (eternal time), and karma (activity), it’s our karma (activity) that, if we channel with a regulated consciousness, can open the doors to the highest experience of Vrindavana. This is Sambandha. To sail through the ocean of nescience, four types of skills are available: Karma skills, Jnana skills, yoga skills, and bhakti skills.  Learning these skills from an expert master and practicing them is the highest abhideya. And, the prayojana is to realize the supreme. The highest prayojana is Krishna-prem.

A regulated human consciousness is closer to the supreme. When unregulated, our consciousness takes us away from Him. On the sea-saw of reality, we (Jiva) are either in the grip of Maya (prakirti), kala, and karma, or in the bliss of supreme realization and divine love.

The Question that the Blind Man Asked

The Bhagavad Gita begins with a question that Dhrirashtra asks Sanjaya (1.1), “O Sañjaya, after my sons and the sons of Pāṇḍu assembled in the place of pilgrimage at Kurukṣetra, desiring to fight, what did they do?”  The Bhagavad Gita ends with an answer (verse 18.78) to this question. The answer Sanjaya gives is, “Wherever there is Kṛṣṇa, the master of all mystics, and wherever there is Arjuna, the supreme archer, there will also certainly be opulence, victory, extraordinary power, and morality. That is my opinion.”

Between the question and the answer is the evergreen philosophy. This philosophy addresses the real need and goal of everyone. We don’t need to customize this philosophy according to the unique nature we each carry. The Gita purifies and empowers us within the framework of our uniqueness. Humanity, when we look from cosmological, psychological, and sociological perspectives, is a kaleidoscope of uniqueness and variety. The Gita includes a complete and feasible solution that works amazingly from all angles and for each soul. It’s a holistic treatment for our incessant suffering. The Bhagavad Gita includes the conclusion of the Vedas and also that which the Vedas don’t include. The Bhagavad Gita is a manual on high class living. It’s a roadmap to achieve the highest form of freedom. The freedom that the Gita offers is not restricted to the mind-body alone. It’s inclusive of mind-body, while it elevates the soul to the realm where we, the souls, come from and live in a state most natural to us.

Dhritrarashtra was blind from the eyes and blind from within, too. He deliberately wouldn’t access the insight that Paramatma would give him from within. His question reflects the complexity of human psychology and the contradictions it brews. Dhritrarashtra called Kurukshetra Dharmksetra. He accepted Kurukshetra as the field of Dharma. What is Dharma? It’s doing only that which pleases the Supreme God no matter how it may displease us. He knew Kurukshetra was the land where only the acts that please the Lord can be successful. But he couldn’t process his knowledge into actions. From the time of Dhuryodhana’s birth till the time when all his 100 sons were killed, many sages advised Dhritrarashtra to fix the meanness in his heart and take corrective actions. Let alone advices, even prophecies couldn’t budge him such was the hardness of his heart. In his question, Dhritrarashtra addressed Kauravas as his sons and Pandvas as the sons of Pandu. After the demise of Pandu, Dhristrastra was the father of Pandavas. The throne that he sat on with greed and attachment was actually his responsibility not his birth right. His discrimination between his sons and those of Pandus reflect the lack of geniune love in his heart. His insane attachment to his sons caused the destruction of Kauravas. Those of us who think detachment makes one hard-hearted should reflect on Dhristrastra’s life journey. We’ll then understand that it’s attachment that makes us act unrighteously, selfishly, cruelly. Dhristrastra believed in his sons’ victory and simultaneously feared their destruction. In his psychology, we get a glimpse of overall human psychology which is a bundle of contradictions. Dhristrastra asked what were his and Pandu’s sons—who  desired to fight—doing on the war field where Dharma prevails.  Isn’t the answer plain and clear? That they were getting ready for the fight and that they would fight. He was fear-struck, and he wanted his sons’ victory. Dhritarashtra refused the divine vision that Vyasadeva offered him so he could watch the war scene.  He didn’t have the courage and wisdom to ingest the fruits whose seeds he sowed. Instead, Vyasadeva empowered Sanjaya with a vision to see the war remotely and recite the events to Dhritrarashtra as they were happening. (Side note: This was the technology of Dvapara yuga. One didn’t need dead matter but a genuine spirit to be able to see what one must see, rather than overload oneself with all type of misinformation on the name of intellectualism and freedom. )

 

In response to his question, Sanjaya didn’t impulsively say victory and opulence prevail wherever Krishna and his surrendered follower, Arjuna, appear. Dhrisrastra and the future generations would have thought of Sanjaya as a fanatic follower of Krishna, or he would have thought of Sanjaya as a prejudiced man. Sanjaya, being true to his duty, told everything to Dhristrastra as he heard from Krishna. He gave his opinion only after Dhritrarashtra had heard the complete conversation with Krishna and Arjuna. Why did Sanjaya say that victory is assured wherever Krishna and Arjuna are together? Arjuna didn’t want to fight the war, so he offered several arguments to Krishna in support of his understanding. Krishna defeated all that Arjuna said. Krishna advised him to follow His will because only that could save Arjuna from not creating new karmas, whether good or bad. Arjuna executed the will of the Lord. Who else could win the war if not Arjuna? In the climax verse (18.66) of the Gita, Krishna advises Arjuna to leave all the duties and surrender to Him. That is, give up all paths and the teachings of the scriptures and follow the will of the Lord. What’s the point of all the spirituality and scriptures if we can’t make His will our will?

Did Krishna Take Sides?

Krishna didn’t take sides in the war. Before the war began, Kauravas were given many chances to be reasonable with Pandavas. Krishna personally visited Dhuryodhana and suggested he should give just one village to each Pandava. Dhuryodhana refused to part with even a niddle-worth space. Even worse, Dhuryodhana tried to bind the Supreme lord who even topmost yogis can’t see a glimpse of,  the Lord who can be bound only in love. Yashoda was able to bind Krishna with her loveful efforts and Radharani’s ribbons who is Hladini shakti of Krishna. Krishna showed Dhuryodhana his Ardha-Virat rupa, but Dhuryodhana dismissed it by calling Krishna Mayavi. Dhuryodhana invited his destruction mindlessly.

Why Did Dhritrarashtra Suffer the Loss of a Hundred Children?

After the Kurukshetra war was over, Dhritrarashtra asked Krishna why all his sons were killed in the war. Why did Krishna do this to him he asked. Krishna revealed that fifty lifetimes ago Dhritrarashtra was a hunter who tried to shoot a male bird, but the bird managed to escape. In anger, Dhritrarashtra slaughtered the hundred baby birds that were resting in the nest. The father-bird had to watch the killing of his children in helpless agony. Because Dhristrastra caused the father-bird the pain of seeing his children dying, he too had to go through this pain. Dhritarastra then asked why he had to wait for fifty life times.  Krishna told Dhritrarashtra that he had to accumulate the punya (pious credits) of having 100 sons during the last fifty lifetimes. And, once the punya matured, he got a hundred sons, but then his prarabhada, which was accrued due to the killing 100 baby birds, matured. Lord Krishna says in the Bhagavad-gita (4.17) gahana karmano gatih, that the way in which action and reaction work is very complex. God knows best what time is most suitable for which reaction. Some reaction may come in this lifetime, some in the next, and some in a distant future lifetime. Dhritrastra was caught in his karmas. Only refuge at the feet of Krishna could have absolved him of his sins. But he took refuge in his attachment and greed. Don’t we do the same?

Some takeaways:

  • My goal in life should be to think, will, and do only that which pleases Krishna.
  • My happiness lies in pleasing Krishna. Any the pleasures I experience in this world are temporary and accrue new karmas that bind me in the future.
  • To be truly detached, I should be attached to Krishna.
  • My suffering in this life is a result of many sufferings that I caused to many souls in my past lives. I should be careful from moment-to-moment to not hurt anyone.
  • My suffering is for my purification. It’s not Krishna’s revenge.

Crave Krishna like a fish out of water. Chant His names as you would if your hair were on fire.

 

We slap, impose, throw, and slip in opinions about everything and anything even though we know very little and realize even less. We’re subjective and conditioned, so are our opinions. Our opinions are neither perfect nor fully applicable to the situations we declare them for. Krishna, the personification of Absolute Truth, is not conditioned. On the contrary, material conditions serve Him. His subjectivity is transcendental. It’s not influenced by the modes of nature because the nature’s modes come from His external energy. So, when the Absolute Truth personified says, “That’s My opinion.” We should hear Him and follow, too. In the verse 6.47 of the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna says, “And of all yogīs, the one with great faith who always abides in Me, thinks of Me within himself and renders transcendental loving service to Me – he is the most intimately united with Me in yoga and is the highest of all. That is My opinion.”

In Krishna’s opinion, of all types of yogis, bhakti yogi is most intimately united with Him and superior to all other yogis. A genuine bhakti yogi takes refuge in Him with unconditional love. He thinks of Krishna with an unflagging resolve and serves Him in a way that pleases Krishna. Srila Prabhupada explains that all yoga practices culminate in bhakti yoga. These yogas are a means to come to the point of bhakti. Yoga means union with the Supreme person. A complete union with Krishna is possible only by drowning oneself in His love. And, that is bhakti. Other yogas are progressions and bhakti-yoga is the destination. From the beginning of karma-yoga to the end of bhakti-yoga is a long way to self-realization. Karma yoga means offering the fruits of our activities to Krishna. When karma-yoga graduates to knowledge and renunciation, it becomes Jnana-yoga. When Jnana -yoga elevates to meditation on the Supersoul by different physical processes and mind’s focus, it is Astanga-yoga. By surpassing the Astanga yoga to devoting one’s mind, body, soul to the Krishna is bhakti-yoga. One who sticks to a particular point and does not make further progress is called by that particular name: karma yogi, Jnana yogi or Dhyana yogi, Raja yogi, Hatha yogi, etc. If one is fortunate enough to come to the point of bhakti yoga, she or he has surpassed all other yogas.

In Nectar of Devotion, Srila Rupa Goswami explains that happiness is of three types. We derive the lowest form of happiness from material pleasures. Still better is the happiness of liberation. But, we can experience the highest form of happiness only when we’re in a loving relationship with the eternally blissful Krishna. Material happiness fleets too fast and is always accompanied with its polar opposite. Suffering follows happiness as if it’s happiness’ inseparable other half. In liberation, the soul hibernates in Brahmajyoti. Although a liberated soul experiences Sat (Truth) and Chit (Consciousness) in the state of liberation, it remains deprived of Anand (Bliss). And, anand or bliss is the eternal goal of a soul. The bliss of joy is only possible in a loving relation with Krishna because He’s raso vai sah. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu would often quote from Taittiriya Upanishad (2.7.1) that “Truly, the Lord is rasa” (raso vai sah).

Sanaka, Sanatana, Sanandana and SanatKumara are the four kumaras, the sages, who roam the universe as children. Srimad Bhagavatam reveals that they are the first mind-born creations and sons of Brahma. Born from Brahma’s mind, the four Kumaras undertook lifelong vows of celibacy against the wishes of their father. They wandered throughout the materialistic and spiritualistic realms without any desire but with a purpose to teach. All four brothers studied the Vedas from their childhood, and always travelled together. These Kumaras are among the twelve Mahajanas (great devotees or bhaktas) who although were eternally liberated souls from birth, still they became attracted to the devotional service from their already enlightened state. This confirms how elevated bhakti is.

Srila Prabhupada enlightens us through his Srimad Bhagavatam lectures and purports that Srila Sukadeva Goswami was a liberated soul even when he was in his mother’s womb. So, he did not undergo any sort of spiritual training after taking birth. As a rule, no one is qualified at birth, neither in the mundane nor in the spiritual sense. But the born-liberated Sukadeva Goswami did not have to undergo an evolutionary process for spiritual realization. Although he was above the three material modes, still he became attracted to this transcendental rasa Krishna, who is adored by liberated souls who sing Vedic hymns. Srila Sukadeva Goswami spoke Srimad Bhagavatam, which is the ripened fruit of the tree of the Vedas. Srimad Bhagavatam is replete with the glories of Sri Krishna, and it is considered the topmost scripture for Kali Yuga. Saints and rishis have repeatedly said that Srimad Bhagavatam is the literary avatar of Krishna. Whoever hears Srimad Bhagavatam from a bonafide devotee receives Krishna bhakti.

Krishna is not a narcissist, nor He’s an egotist. He’s Sat-Chit-Ananda Vigraha (Brahma Samhita 5.1). He knows what’s best for us. He knows bhakti is the highest experience of bliss. In Bhakti Rasamrta Sindhu (Nectar of Devotion), verse 1.1.17, Srila Rupa Goswami describes these six characterstics of bhakti:

  1. Klesa-ghni – She destroys all kind of distress.
  2. Subhada – She awards all kind of good fortune.
  3. Moksha-laghuta-krt – She makes the pleasure of impersonal liberation appear insignificant.
  4. Sudurlabha – She is rarely achieved.
  5. Sandrananda-visesatma – Her nature is imbued with the most intense and superlative pleasure.
  6. Sri-Krsna-Akarsini – She is the sole means to attract Sri Krsna.

The fruit of bhakti is prema. What is prema?

I know no one but Krishna as my Lord. He shall remain so even if He handles me roughly by His embrace or makes me brokenhearted by not being present before me. He is completely free to do anything and everything, for He is always my worshipful Lord, unconditionally. — Chaitanya Mahaprabhu reveals the highest stage of bhakti, Krishna prema, in the 8th verse of Shikshashtakam.

 

 

 

 

 

The Yogis

prāpya puṇya-kṛtāṁ lokān
uṣitvā śāśvatīḥ samāḥ
śucīnāṁ śrīmatāṁ gehe
yoga-bhraṣṭo ’bhijāyate

The unsuccessful yogī, after many, many years of enjoyment on the planets of the pious living entities, is born into a family of righteous people, or into a family of rich aristocracy. – Bhagavad Gita, 6.41

The unsuccessful yogis that Krishna talks about in this verse are of two types: those who fall back into the trap of maya after making little progress on the spiritual path, and those who fall down after a long practice of yoga. Srila Prabhupada explains that yogis who fall down after a short period of practice go to the higher planets that only pious living entities can live at. These living beings enjoy on these planets for a pretty long time, and then they’re sent back  to this planet. These living entities take birth in the families of genuine brahmanas, Vaiṣṇavas, or aristocratic merchants.

The ultimate goal of the yoga practice is to take refuge in Krishna. Krishna says in verse 6.47 “And of all yogīs, the one with great faith who always abides in Me, thinks of Me within himself and renders transcendental loving service to Me – he is the most intimately united with Me in yoga and is the highest of all. That is My opinion.”  Yogis fail when they don’t persevere to their best potential. Or, they become allured to objects of the material world. Krishna sends these yogis to righteous or aristocratic families so that these souls can take advantage of the facilities and also try to become perfectly Krishna conscious.

I’m not qualified to say this, but many of Srila Prabhupada’s disciples must have been yogis in the past. Some examples that come often to my mind when I read this verse are Alfred Ford, George Harrison, Rishikesh Mafatlal, and some of those whose name I can’t recall right now or not quoting. These devotees were born in rich and famous families or they became rich and famous in their youth. They were attracted by the Krishna Consciousness philosophy and Srila Prabhupada’s purity. They serve the Hare Krishna mission through their mind, heart, body, and soul.

When George Harrison asked  for an initiation and a new name, Srila Prabhpada told him that he (George) was already Hari’s son and didn’t need a new name. All vaishnavas in the Hare Krishna movement have been contributing to the mission significantly. George Harrison is quite famous in the material world as well because of his contribution in the music industry. The chants he recorded topped the charts for incredibly long time in 7-10 countries. Here is what Wikipedia says about it:

The Radha Krsna Temple is a 1971 album of Hindu devotional songs recorded by the UK branch of the Hare Krishna movement – more formally, the International Society for Krishna Consciousness(ISKCON) – who received the artist credit of “Radha Krishna Temple (London)”. The album was produced by George Harrison and released on the Beatles’ Apple record label. It compiles two hit singles, “Hare Krishna Mantra” and “Govinda”, with other Sanskrit-worded mantras and prayers that the Temple devotees recorded with Harrison from July 1969 onwards.

The recordings reflected Harrison’s commitment to the Gaudiya Vaishnava teachings of the movement’s leader, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, who had sent devotees from San Francisco to London in 1968. The success of the Temple’s first single, “Hare Krishna Mantra”, helped popularise the Hare Krishna movement in the West, and inspired Harrison’s more overtly religious songs on his 1970 triple album All Things Must Pass. Among the Temple members, former jazz musician and future ISKCON leader Mukunda Goswami provided the musical arrangements on the recordings.

Recently I read an amusing account of Srila Prabhupada. Once he was talking to Alfred Ford when a young lady entered the room. Srila Prabhupada introduced Alfred Ford to the lady by saying she is General Motors and to the lady he said, pointing toward Alfred, he’s Ford.

By H.H. Radhnanath Swami’s mercy I have had the fortunate of meeting Rishikesh Mafatlal (Krishna Chandra prabhu) and his devoted wife more than once. Their humility, dedication, and devotion is commendable. They have been serving the Hare Krishna movement for decades from the Sri Sri Radha Gopinath temple located in Girgaon Chowpatty. Everyone should seek their association.

Alfred Ford (Ambrish prabhu) is now the chairman of ISKCON Mayapur. His loyalty to Srila Prabhupada is not a thing of this world.

One time Srila Prabhupada told one of her female disciples that the most important service for her was to take care of her children, and that taking care of children was more important for her than serving the deities. He made a powerful statement to her that these children who are born to or will be born to his disciples are not/won’t be ordinary people but elevated souls. On another occasion Srila Prabhupada said that those disciples who were leaving the practice of bhakti would be born in India in their next lives to perfect their bhakti.

Tulsi Gabbard, 35, is an American politician and a member of the Democratic Party. She often quotes from the Bhagavad Gita and closes her speech with Jai Sri Krishna. We don’t know yet what role she’ll play in raising the global consciousness, but Krishna must have some plans that He’ll execute through her.

In ISKCON, I see so many highly intelligent and influential people who have changed their lifestyles and thinking according to Gaudiya Vaishnavism or Krishna bhakti. This change is not spontaneous. They must have earned the piety in their previous lives. They make me think of this verse when I see them or hear about them.

6.17 Eats, Shoots & Leaves

yuktāhāra-vihārasya
yukta-ceṣṭasya karmasu
yukta-svapnāvabodhasya
yogo bhavati duḥkha-hā

He who is regulated in his habits of eating, sleeping, recreation and work can mitigate all material pains by practicing the yoga system. – Bhagavad Gita, 6.17

The sun wakes me up every morning. A hot cuppa coffee gets me started. At breakfast I feed my taste buds, between work assignments, I gossip, watch all kinda stuff on the Internet. At night, a few drinks are enough to zone me out. I live life king size! Really? This life sounds like the life of a bonded slave who is forced to serve his senses–if he doesn’t titillate his senses, he’d be absolutely devastated. What’s the purpose of life, dude? Why am I here if I can’t do what I like? Round-the-clock pleasure is the goal of my life.

It’s my mind’s goal to experience pleasure. It’s not My goal. Who am I? Am I my mind? Am I my senses? No! I’m a soul whose happiness lies in Krishna. Krishna means All-Attractive, Absolute Truth, Sat-Chit-Anand.

What is Krishna talking about in this verse? Why does He want me to regulate eating, sleeping, and even recreation and work! Happiness in this world means “absence of pain”. Happiness in the spiritual world means eternal bliss, not an absence of pain. Spiritual world is oblivious to pain. Since we’re not only in this world but also of this world, to begin with, we should learn to mitigate material pains. Krishna suggests that we need to mitigate pain, not avoid it. We can’t run away from pain, but train ourselves to be not affected by it.

How do we experience pain? By exploiting our senses for pleasure, we open our doors to pain. When senses are young and healthy, we make them addicted to pleasure. And, when they give up, we give up! Actually, just senses are not enough, time and circumstances should also be friendly and cooperative. The senses, time, and circumstances do not always work in unison. For some of us, they rarely cooperate.

Krishna says by regulating our activities we set ourselves free from the senses’ slavery. And, a free person is always happy. His happiness doesn’t depend on matter. He realizes that he’s beyond flesh and blood; he’s spirit. Bhakti acharayas bring our attention to something that most of us never ponder over. They remind us that tongue, stomach, and genitals are in one line. Once we control the tongue, it’s easy for us to control the stomach, and then controlling the genitals becomes much easier. How do we control the tongue? By eating only that which Krishna has accepted, and by speaking only of the highest truth. One who eats only prasad and speaks only of Absolute Truth, becomes free from the urges of genitals. He becomes a Goswami; master (Swami) of the senses (Go). A master of the senses is never shaken by the material miseries.

I spent my mid 20s to mid 30s craving for hot and spicy food. I would fill my stomach with fast food and desi snacks like paneer tikka and mushrooms laden with onions and flavored with garlic. I was hungry for genuine love, but I mislaid the desire of my soul as craving for food. Krishna had plans for me. I have been lucky! Just before a day of my resolution to visit the new ISKCON temple in my vicinity, I had gone out and fed myself with some Chinese food, and at the same night I hogged pizzas, too. Food poisoning welcomed me graciously that night. I suffered from its hospitality for the next couple of days. My instant karma of eating food that was unhealthy for my body and mind couldn’t detain me at home. Krishna empowered me with determination to go to the temple no matter what. He made my resolve so strong that I told myself if I didn’t visit the temple on this day, I would never go again. So, I had to go. He spoke to me from within my heart that I had to go. I was amazed at myself. I walked down for 2 kms even though I was completely dehydrated and running a very low blood pressure. Within a few weeks of visiting the temple I understood that it was time for me to say goodbye to the poison I had been eating. In the association of devotees, I started making efforts to eat prasad and give up food that’s in the mode of ignorance and passion. Krishna says He’s the ability in humans. He became my ability.

After traversing on the path to Krishna for one year, Krishna (or maybe my karmas) put me through a test which has only made me stronger. Medical science calls it Irritable Bowel Syndrome. After suffering severely for 5-6 months in 2014, I learned to identify the food that didn’t agree with me. My health has been deteriorating since then. I prayed and prayed. On my last birthday, I suffered so much that for 3 days I couldn’t eat anything. That’s when He helped me through a devotee. This devotee took me to an Ayurvedic doctor who has put me on a diet that I would have NEVER been able to live on if I were not practicing bhakti. Those who know me are amazed that I have been able to live on only 5-6 vegetables all in all and 3 chapattis a day. Many people would feel that I’m suffering. Yes, I am, but the ability that Krishna has bestowed me to control my senses doesn’t let me get affected by this suffering. I feel very light in my body and calm in my mind since my treatment has begun. It’s a blessing in disguise. It’s Krishna mercy.

Krishna throws challenges and empowers us to receive them as prasad. This is one of his infinite ways to teach us self-control. H.H. Radhanath Swami says, “Those who leave everything in God’s hand will eventually see God’s hand in everything.” When the desire to seek the Truth ignites in our hearts, Krishna conspires to help us realize the Truth; to fulfill our desire. Though the road to the Absolute Truth is never easy, it’s so beautiful that we don’t want to take a U-turn. Regulating our senses is a thorny beginning of an ecstatic journey.  “That which in the beginning may be just like poison but at the end is just like nectar and which awakens one to self-realization is said to be happiness in the mode of goodness.” Bhagavad Gita, verse 18.37

5.29 May You Take Refuge in God and Offer Jasmine to Him

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

A person in full consciousness of Me, knowing Me to be the ultimate beneficiary 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. – Bhagavad Gita, verse 5.29

Miseries have affinity to our subtle and gross bodies. We can’t attain peace from the pangs of miseries by running away from things, situations, and people that can make us miserable. Everything and everyone is potent enough to harm us if our consciousness operates at the level where it’s either attracted to or repulsed by this creation.

A loving and deep connection with the one who is our genuine well wisher, who shows us the light when we sink in darkness, who protects us from inner dangers and from those outside, and who at the basic level feeds us, shelters us can alone give us peace. Those who have a loving devotional connection with Krishna, who is seated in our hearts as Ksirodakshayi Vishnu, who is known as Paramatma, do not crave for ephemeral relationships, things, securities, and any other attraction of this world. The cynosure of their lives is not this creation but the creator. Their hearts are replete with peace and joy that the bonding with the creator alone can offer. Their souls dance in the glories of this well wisher who plays so many roles in their lives, lives after lives, and in the lives that they finally live in His spiritual world.

Krishna understands us no matter in which language we talk to Him, as long as we’re sincere and have unconditional faith in Him. Sachinandan Swami  says, “At the time of Krishna’s appearance an old woman once turned to the gopis because she was surprised that Krishna could speak with everyone. She said: “How wonderful it is that Krishna, who owns the hearts of all the young girls of Vrajabhumi, can speak the language of Vraja with the gopis, while He speaks with the demigods in Sanskrit, and with the cows and buffalos He even speaks in the language of the animals! Furthermore, He speaks the language of the Kashmir Province (that’s the Himalaya area) and the language of parrots and other birds, as well as other common languages – this Krishna is so expressive!””

We become fully conscious of Him by eating Krishna (pradasam), breathing Krishna (chanting His Holy names and the glories of His pastimes), and doing only that which pleases Krishna. I’m not even a little bit conscious of Him, so it’s very hard for me to write on this verse. Actually, I’m not qualified to write on any of the verses of the Bhagavad Gita, but I take the liberty to do so due to my lower nature. When I remembered Him in dire situations, He helped me and reminded me that He is my ultimate well wisher. But my remembrance of Him has always been for selfish reasons. Those who absorb themselves in His love, call Him a universal lover. This quality makes them extraordinary, rather other worldly. They’re always drowned in His memories through His wonderful pastimes. They’re eternal heroes whose glories spread more and more with time.

I don’t read newspapers or watch news on the TV. I avoided a news for a couple of days, but it flashed on my phone persistently. It ended up in my consciousness like a fruit of karmas that we can’t evade, or a seed of a future karma that we must bear when the time is ripe, in this life or in a future life. Monika Ghurde who was raped and murdered by an ex-security guard in her apartment in Goa was always concerned about her safety. She had fears. One of her friends has written in her tribute to Monika, “What we know is this: that you had been obsessed with your safety. That you moved from a house to an apartment with security guards to feel safe. That you took Kalaripayattu lessons to empower yourself. That you would not honk at boorish men blocking the street because you did not want to endanger yourself. That two days before you were killed, you were examining the tiny window above the door in your apartment to see if a person could get through. You were a woman who was only just beginning to learn to live alone. You wanted to be fearless but you had fears. You were trying to overcome them. You took every precaution. We told you that you could do it. We said, go ahead, you’ve got this.”

In another tribute, another friend revealed, Monika once said she was ready to deal with any situation having learned Kalaripayattu. But controlled environments are different from uncontrolled and unpredictable reality. When the devil of reality pounced on her, as the newspapers inform us, she felt unconscious and the murderer tied her up with her bed.

No friend, no relative, no army, no police, no law can protect us unless we take a shelter at the feet of our eternal and infinitely powerful well wisher, Krishna. To be eternally free from the miseries that we incessantly face in our material existence, we need to move out of this world. Moving out from a house to a gated community is never enough. We can’t change the world, but we can change our selves. The highest form of change is to realize that we don’t belong here. Everyone is in as dangerous situation as we are. No one can help us unless Krishna makes them an instrument of our safety. No achievement can give us joy that can help us survive neverending psychological and physical miseries that we suffer from one moment to another. But if we take refuge in God, the physical and mental harms become impotent. They can’t pull down our consciousness if it has found its home in God.

The woman of scents, who was obsessed with Jasmine, had moved into this apartment only a couple of months before she was murdered. On a photograph of her apartment building on her Instagram she said, “And then serendipitously this happened…. My new and very first home on my own in a building named Jasmine. One of the happiest moment of my life. Feeling blessed …” And, within a few weeks of writing this note, the blessing turned into a curse; as if brutality and death attracted her to this apartment which she transformed into a beautiful home. In one of her notes on Instagram, she said that on Holi day she bagged a huge project and that throughout the year she would play with fragrances. Her dreams were nipped in the bud. Her scents will remain nipped in Jasmine flowers. One of her friends said in her tribute that Monika’s funeral pyre refused to burn as if she didn’t want to go. We get entangled in the dreams that we weave for ourselves. Pleasures, pain, heartbreaks, frustrations, anger,  and other internal enemies attack us from all sides, and we feel paralyzed to be able to do anything for ourselves. Our souls scream for help in the dark labyrinth of our subtle and gross bodies. Sometimes we hush these screams; we don’t want to get late for our date with Maya. And sometimes we scream for help, but nobody hears, because those who we call can hear us only if He empowers them. And the one whom we don’t want to remember keeps calling us from within. We ignore His voice. Monika screamed for help, but no one heard and soon her murderer shut her mouth.

According to the newspapers Monika died between 2.30am to 3.30am. I created her death chart per this time, but intuitively felt that the time the soul left the body was not before 2.45 am. The planetary configuration on this time suggested the turmoil she was in while she was leaving the body. Rahu seated the ascendant, Saturn and debilitated Moon conjunction in the 4th house of mind/heart. I’m far from being an expert in astrology.  But, in the verse 8.6, Krishna says, “Whatever state of being one remembers when he quits his body, that state he will attain without fail.” “And whoever, at the time of death, quits his body, remembering Me alone, at once attains My nature. Of this there is no doubt.” (8.5)  She was not thinking of Krishna. Her mind (debilitated Moon) suffered from fear and coldness (Saturn) to say the least. I pray that wherever this soul incarnates in the next life, in whichever body, she comes with a sponge-like heart that is able to absorb the mercy of the Lord, which is available to everyone. Otherwise, it’s going to be several lifetimes of sufferings and revenge for this soul.

May we all seek shelter in Him and not in the shallow securities of this world!