Sunday, November 13, 2011

If God exists, I should be able to see Him!

A naive argument. If you demanded, "I want to see the prime minister. Let him come before me!" - would it happen? Of course not! There is a process for these things. If you want to see the prime minister - you should qualify yourself. Seek an appointment for some legitmate purpose worth his time - or achieve something worthwhile. Similarly there is a process to see God. 

"The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: My dear Arjun, this form of Mine you are now seeing is very difficult to behold. Even the demigods are ever seeking the opportunity to see this form, which is so dear. The form you are seeing with your transcendental eyes cannot be understood simply by studying the Vedas, nor by undergoing penances, nor by charity, nor by worship. It is not by these means that one can see me as I am. My dear Arjuna, only by undivided devotional service can I be understood as I am, and can thus be seen directly. Only in this way can you enter into the mysteries of My understanding."
-Bhagvad Gita Ch 11 verses 52-53-54

The process is clearly in the above verses. Devoional service - bhakti - is the way to see God.
What is devotional service? How can I apply these things in my life? How can I learn this? The 12th chapter of the Geeta is dedicated to answer these questions. Work for God, chant His names, meditate upon Him - the process is defined. Other scriptures point to the same.

"O Naarad, I regret that during this lifetime you will not be able to see Me anymore. Those who are incomplete in service and who are not completely free from all material taints can hardly see Me."
-Srimad Bhagvatam 1.6.21

"O my Lord, sustainer of all that lives, Your real face is covered by Your dazzling effulgence. Kindly remove that covering and exhibit Yourself to Your pure devotee."
-Isopanishad verse 15

Now the question is - do you really want to see God? Because it means giving up on material desires - it means focusing on pleasing God not oneself.

""My dear friend, if you are indeed attached to your worldly friends, do not look at the smiling face of Lord Govinda as He stands on the bank of the Yamuna at Kesighata. Casting sidelong glances, He places His flute to His lips, which seem like newly blossomed twigs. His transcendental body, bending in three places, appears very bright in the moonlight.""
- Chaitanya Charitamrita -Adi 5.224

Monday, September 5, 2011

The feminine aspect of the divine

Today is Radhashtami - the appearance day of Srimati Radharani, the divine consort of Lord Sri Krishna. I thought I would take this opportunity to discuss the gender of God :)

I know lot of people think God is formless. But thats not the point of this blog. The scriptures describe the Supreme Lord in many places, and all of them talk about His beautiful three fold bending form - a 16 year old boy, dark as a monsoon cloud, with lotus like eyes, nose like a sesame flower and lips as red as the bimba fruit.
Even if people accept this form of God, they sometimes protest - why male? Why is God not female? Why the bias?

And here people miss the point. The original Supreme Person is the source of all energy. And that Supreme Energy is Srimati Radharani. She is the divine mother, the embodiment of all virtues. Energetic and energy together comprise the divine. One is incomplete without the other. The Supreme person Krishna, expands into Vishnu, Rama and other masculine forms, while Srimati Radharani exapands into Laxmi, Seeta and other feminine forms.
 God an His energy can be compared to the sun and sunshine. The moment there is sun, there will be sunshine - Similarly, the sun is incomplete without the sunshine. Both exist together. Thus, Krishna and Radha exist together, eternally and are worshipped together
 The relationship between Radha and Krishna is that of inconceivable identity in difference. They are, in essence, a single entity—God—who manifests as two distinct individuals for the sake of interpersonal exchange.

Krishna Consciousness is a celebration of this relationship. In fact, when we chant

Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare

we mention:
8 times the name of Sri Radhe, Hare, the energy of the Lord
4 times the name of Sri Krishna, the Supremely attractive one and
4 times the name  of Sri Rama, the source of all pleasure

Thus through these 16 syllables we pray to God (Sri Krishna and Srimati Radharani) - the source of all energy, all attractive, and the source of all pleasure - to engage us in their service and revive our own loving relationship with them.

"May that Srimati Radhika--whose bodily complexion steals the pride of a golden lotus flower tinged with kunkuma, whose bodily fragrance overshadows the fame of a fragrant lotus sprinkled with saffron powder, and who fulfills all the desires of the prince of Vraja, Sri Krishna--always bestow upon me the service of Her lotus feet."
-Radhikashtakam verse 1

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Indradyumna Swami - my inspiration

I recently rediscovered one of the treasures of ISKCON - Indradyumna Maharaj's 'Diary of a travelling monk'. Indradyumna Maharaj, is one of the leaders of the Krishna Conscious movement. He has been spreading the word of God in remote corners of the globe -  Kazakhistan, Poland, Checkoslovakia, in the amazon forests and numerous other such exotic places. His diaries have been around since 1995 - but I never quite got around to reading them.
Recently, they published the Indian edition of his diaries - 2 books - 5 diaries each - chronicling Maharaj's experiences from 1995 - 2010. These books aren't very big - Maharaj writes approximately 15-20 entries every year. I finally managed to lay my hands on a copy and got around to reading them.
I am so grateful to Maharaj that he has given us a glimpse into his mind and heart, through those diaries. On the mundane level, the diary reads like an exotic adventure. He talks about conducting harinam sankirtan on war - torn streets, car rides at midnight in a city under curfew,  discussing God consciousness with soldiers and prisoners and giving lectures in mosques and churches. Every page is a spiritual joyride, describing a new experience in the life of a travelling missionary.
Many of these entries made me feel grateful that I live in a country like India, where the government, the climate and the people are such that the situation is very favorable for me to practice my Krishna Consciousness. The freedom of religion and spirituality I have is indeed a blessing. The whole diary inspires me to become more sincere in my spiritual practices.
But more than that, the diaries reveal the consciousness of an individual who has given his life completely in the service of God. Maharaj shows us a glimpse of his vast knowledge of  vedic literature and text. But the book is not at all scholarly - in fact the language is very simple, straightforward and humble. Maharaj always gives credit for all his successes to his spiritual master - Srila Prabhupada. The diary also contains a lot of appreciation of his disciples, other ISKCON leaders and other devotees he meets during his travel. It shows his mood, - Srila Prabhupada had instructed him, "Be bold. Preach everywhere" - the diary is a glimpse of his untiring efforts to follow that instruction and the total happiness that he derives in doing the same. The diaries are testimony to the fact that Krishna Consciousness is such an active, thrilling, joyous and enlivening process - a process that is universal and can bring eternal happiness to anyone who simply takes up chanting
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare Hare

Thank-you Indradyumna Maharaj, for your wonderful diaries. You are my hero :)
The entire diaries are freely available on travelingmonk/diaries
As and when he writes a new entry - he publishes it online - 2011 has been equally wonderful :)

Saturday, July 2, 2011

I dont eat in places that serve meat......

I am a very, very strict vegetarian. What this means is that I don't eat in any restaurant that also has meat on its menu. So whenever we go for team outings or birthday treats or anything, I wont eat if its not a pure veg restaurant. Lot of people think I am completely insane to impose such rules upon myself. Some say I am too young or too naive. Lot of people think I am impractical, they feel that my attitude will not let me survive in countries other than India. Meat - lovers of course find it completely ridiculous. I have had to deal with teasing and general sarcasm. All this was expected but unexpectedly I have also been at the receiving end of sympathy. Sometimes, when people are stuffing their faces with all the 'delicious' food on the table and I am just sitting there not eating, people give me pitying looks. "Poor girl she must be fighting with herself to not eat" kind of looks. I may have misinterpreted, but ya people tend to feel sorry for me for all the pleasures in life that I am missing out.
      Now from my perspective, that is ridiculous. Here's why...
      I belong to a culture that respects all life. (All those who have thought of the 'plants have life too.' argument, just hold your horses for a moment there). Among all the living creatures on planet earth, human beings are the most evolved and intelligent species. This also essentially needs to be translated into responsibility. (With great power comes great responsibility :)) Just because we have got the ability doesn't mean that we can start killing and chopping and eating anything that moves. As the most evolved creature on planet earth, it is my personal belief that I should cause the least amount of pain to any other living creature for the purpose of filling my belly. More so, since as a human being, I have the special privilege of choosing my diet. No other creature on this planet can choose its diet. A tiger would never touch grass, nor would a deer touch meat. They just cannot - only human beings have this choice - and I want to make responsible choices.
(Besides the human body has been designed mainly for a vegetarian diet. Meat eating is unnatural and unhealthy. You can read more about that here. And the large scale production of meat causes industry level pollutions to the environment and is terribly energy inefficient. Which farming does not. Read about that here. )
     Science has discovered that the more developed the nervous system, the greater the sensitivity to pain. Animal bodies have far more evolved nervous systems than plants. Besides most vegetarian foods (fruits, pulses, grains and most vegetables) do not actually involve the killing of the original plant. You cannot possibly compare the plucking of an apple to cutting the neck of a goat in terms of the pain being caused to the living creature.
     So the point is, I totally abhor meat. The thought of the dead corpses of chicken, fish, goats and the rest freely intermingling with the veggies that I will be consuming fills me with disgust. Let me put it this way. If you knew that the food your restaurant serves also has dead human body parts in its refridgerator, would you be able to eat there? If you knew that your 'chicken curry' was kept below a human head on the kitchen shelf and could have had some human blood/internal body fluids dripping into it - would u be able to eat? And if the people on your dining table were eating human flesh, gorging on it, would you be able to eat anything at all with them? And imagine if those people, pitied you - 'You have'nt tasted a cooked human toe man! You are missing out on all the good things in life...' how would you possibly react?
        Sorry for the graphic visualizations, but thats how it is for me. Yes I have an overactive imagination. Yes, I do not trust the hygiene standards of all the restaurants out there. The smell of cooking meat makes me want to puke.  And so I stopped eating in restaurants that serve meat.
Dont pity me. Instead, reconsider your choices :)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

A Reason, a Season, or a Lifetime

I read this article somewhere and then found it online under author unknown - Just felt like sharing it here :)

A Reason, a Season, or a Lifetime

People come into your life for a reason, a season, or
a lifetime. When you figure out which one it is, you
will know what to do for each person.

When someone is in your life for a REASON . . . It is
usually to meet a need you have expressed. They have
come to assist you through a difficulty, to provide you
with guidance and support, to aid you physically,
emotionally, or spiritually. They may seem like a
godsend, and they are! They are there for the reason
you need them to be.

Then, without any wrong doing on your part, or at an
inconvenient time, this person will say or do something
to bring the relationship to an end.

Sometimes they die.
Sometimes they walk away.
Sometimes they act up and force you to take a stand.

What we must realise is that our need has been met, our
desire fulfilled, their work is done. The prayer you
sent up has been answered. And now it is time to move on.

When people come into your life for a SEASON . . .
Because your turn has come to share, grow, or learn.
They bring you an experience of peace, or make you laugh.
They may teach you something you have never done.
They usually give you an unbelievable amount
of joy. Believe it! It is real! But, only for a season.

LIFETIME relationships teach you lifetime lessons; things
you must build upon in order to have a solid emotional
foundation. Your job is to accept the lesson, love the
person, and put what you have learned to use in all
other relationships and areas of your life. It is said
that love is blind but friendship is clairvoyant.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Desiring the Supreme

"Now that we have become devotees, Your holy names have affectionately created a jubilant festival in our mouths. Your bodily splendour, like a dark rain cloud has become the black ointment of our eyes, and the music of Your flute has become the ornament of our ears. We no longer take pleasure in material desires. O almighty Lord, material desires no longer appear beautiful to us!"

-Srila Roop Goswami

[Note: Just sharing a beautiful verse I came across in a book I am reading. A state of mind I am aspiring for :) ]

Friday, April 22, 2011

The computer program with a will

The programmer leaned back on his chair and sighed. He had just written a perfect program. The program was complicated and could do many, many things. But it had only one purpose. To make the programmer happy. To give him pleasure. The program had many abilities. It even had its own internal concept of happiness. The program was made such that it always tried to keep its internal boolean variable - 'happy' to true. But the purpose of the program was ultimately to make the programmer happy too. So the willy programmer had put in and if condition: 
if program makes me happy

And then the programmer did the ultimate programming. He gave the program 'free will' The program could run as it wanted. It could execute whichever line of code whenever it wanted and experience the results. The program was given a choice. It could choose to make the programmer happy or it could choose to ignore the programmer. And then the programmer ran the program.
       The program ran as it chose to. It had the choice remember? It kept trying to make program.happy to true. But no matter what it did, that silly variable always remained false. The program thought, very often, that it had come close. But that was illusion- temporary. Only when that program discovers that tricky if condition will it achieve true happiness.

We, the soul , the living entities are that program - and God our maker is the programmer. As long as we are disconnected from Him, no matter what we do - we'll never be truly happy. For those who think that eternal happiness is a myth, a delusional concept, just have to discover that if condition in their source code. :)  

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

My little bubble

A bubble of joy, living in my heart
Jumping and dancing all day.
It troubles me often, at unexpected times,
Always wanting to play.

It soars up high, making me smile
In the middle of daily chore
Running across my eyes sometimes,
It makes them twinkle more.

This little bubble, it swells sometimes
And my heart quivers with sweet pain
This little bubble, it churns my insides,
Its just too hard to contain.

But it is a bubble, and bubbles are fragile,
My little bubble might just burst too.
Reality has some pointed spikes
Please pray for my bubble, thank you :)

Monday, January 10, 2011

Difficulties and Krishna

"Realization is not something that is learned from a book. It is a gift, given to us by the Lord, something valuable that we can never forget. Krishna gives us this gift through difficulties. He puts us in situations where we find ourselves struggling against circumstances or our own weaknesses so that we understand that He is the Supreme Controller. Sometimes we may find certain situations re-occuring in our lives. Perhaps you keep causing misunderstanding in your relationships because you talk without thinking when angry. Or it can be some other problem that keeps coming back. At that time, we have to kneel down before the Lord and beg Him, "Please Krishna, help me to overcome this weakness. Help me to understand the lesson you want to teach me" And then, when we realize, the problem may automatically go away.
But Krishna knows what is best for us. Perhaps the removal of a certain weakness, may fill our heart with pride. "I dont lose my temper anymore. Nobody is more calmer than me. I have conquered my biggest weakness." This pride may be more damaging to our spiritual progress than that weakness itself. So Krishna will not remove it - and He will let us struggle, because the more we struggle, the more we remember Him, and the more closer to Him we shall go.
Difficult people and difficult situations are sent by Krishna to help us grow towards Him."

(From a lecture by H.G GaurSunder Prabhu in Pune. Its not the exact words, but whatever I remember I felt like sharing here)

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

In Retrospect

2010 - its been a year of change for me. I had to cope with a lot of change on many levels in the past year. I completed my graduation- so there was this whole college to workplace change. I also ended up traveling a lot. In the past year I have been (for short and long spans of time) in Mumbai, Goa, Bangalore, Gurgaon, Delhi, Kanchipuram, Trichi, Rameshwaram and ofcourse Pune. In the last 3 months I have been in and out of flights every weekend.
But never did I feel lost or not taken care of. By God's grace, everything was arranged for me everywhere. In every place, I met people who cared. People I could connect to, people with whom long lasting friendships have been made.
And I met kind people across all levels. Not just my colleagues and friends, but even among the driver, cook and general help category. I have a whole bunch of 'bhaiyyas' across India now.

I look back, and I see God's hand in every aspect of my life. I was ungrateful sometimes, and I protested in my heart when somethings that were not immediately palatable happened. But in retrospect, there never were any problems. I learned a lot about myself and I have improved as a person and overall I had a great time. :)

I look ahead with optimism knowing that 2011 will be a great year too. Just heard a great song on 1st Jan - I guess that sets the theme for 2011 for me.

Colours, colours, Krishna's colours
Fill my life night and day.
Up and down the roads of life,
Krishna's painting all the way
Krishna's brushes and Krishna's paints
On the canvas of my heart
Throw away my brushes Krishna,
My life is your work of art.