Saturday, May 26, 2007

Chanting the Names Of Gaura Nitai

krishna nama kare aparadhera vicara
krishna balile aparadhira na haya vikara

"Because of making offenses when chanting the Hare Krishna maha mantra, one does not become ecstatic."
Caitanya Caritamrita, Adi 8.24

caitanya nityanande nahi esaba vicara
nama laite prema dena, vahe asrudhara
svatantra isvara prabhu atyanta udara
tanre na bhajile kabhu na haya nistara

"But if one chants the names of Lord Caitanya and Nityananda Prabhu, with just a little faith, very quickly all his/her offenses are cleared.
Then, when he/she chants the Hare Krishna mantra, the symptoms of ecstatic love will be felt. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and Nityananda Raya are independent supreme personalities. They are infinitely generous.
No one can become free from their material karma unless they worship these two brothers."
Caitanaya Caritamrita Adi 8.31-32

Friday, May 25, 2007

Imitation & Humility:
Reflections on the 2nd Verse of Sri Siksastakam

Here in this verse, Mahaprabhu prays like a true devotee who feels he has no devotion for the object of his love. In the world of bhakti, smallness is great. Those who are humble about their own lack of love, have the highest capacity for that love. While those who pose themselves as great devotees, have very little love to offer.

In reality, none of us in this world are lovers. We talk about peace and love, or even we discuss the intimate details of Radharani's love, but we are pretenders. The real bhakta does not advertise himself as a great personality. Rather, he acknowledges his pretense and focuses on the generosity of the holy names. He knows that chanting the divine names can rectify him and give him the divine love he lacks.

The real bhakta also acknowledges his own indifference and resistance to the holy names. This humble awareness brings the bhakta to a healthy, sober condition where he can access the profound secrets of the holy names. Humility is the entrance to bhakti.

There are those who imitate bhakti and humility. They make an outward show of etiquette but within they are full of pride and false ego. That kind of show humility has no value. Actually it has negative value. By making a pretense of humility, the imitators mock the beauty and potency of real humility.

Here, the natural genuine humility of a bhakta is clearly expressed by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, who is nami, the original personality of the holy name. We, the tiny jivas, are meant to follow in his footsteps, in this mood:

namnam akari bahudha nija sarva saktis
tatrapita niyamitah smarane na kalah
etadrisi tava krpa bhagavan mamapi
durdaivam idrsam ihajani nanuragah

Your holy names appear in a variety of forms,
and you invest all your divine powers and love in them.
You make no restrictions of time or place
for remembering them.
But Bhagavan, while your mercy and generosity are awesome,
my condition is most unfortunate.
I have not become attached to your names!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Belief Systems

All human societies, from indigenous to the most advanced, are based on belief systems. In our post modern world, layers of secular and sectarian belief systems exist simultaneously, usually at odds with each other, sometimes fatally. Like brothers who fight or sisters who hate each other, these competing belief systems polarize our society and alienate our psyche.

In the noisy confusion of our times, belief systems support local interests, not the universal interest of the complete whole. They reward loyalty and conformity and foster prejudiced thinking, which prevail over transparency and truth. Divisive local interests produce conflict, misunderstanding, murder and war. Just read the headlines of any newspaper. No wonder many people feel burdened and crippled by belief systems, just as they are often disillusioned by relationships.

Krishna consciousness can be seen as a belief system. It can be presented and practiced as one. But in reality, awareness of Krishna, the all attractive person, and his all accomodating forms, qualities and pastimes transcends belief. jivera swarup haya. the jiva (soul) has an inner form, an inner reality. Real saints live and breathe this reality. Sadhikas (practitioners) try to practice it, study it and finally, realize it.

Beneath the surface of rituals and beliefs is a place where the absolute ideal meets our innermost emotions, where pure reason meets the heart. Here progress is made towards realizing the sweetened condensed truths of eternal reality. In this hidden space, far beneath the show of public discourse, we take our first steps in the dance of divine love. When charm, beauty and affection finally embrace and capture the jiva, all pretense, duplicity and belief systems vanish forever in the ocean of devotion. And real freedom begins.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Questions of Illusion and Love

So the question comes up, from reading BG 7.14 (see 22 May 2007 entry below), if God is full of compassion, ready to release us from illusion, why did he place us in illusion in the first place? This is an important question.

I read that a well known author, a contemporary English atheist, was recently persuaded thru logic of the existence of God. This caused a big shock in atheist circles. The converted atheist said, ‘God exists, I cannot deny it, but He must be an evil being.’

This gentleman was being sincere in his understanding, or misunderstanding, based on his observations of nature. But this only underscores the problems we have in trying to understand God from the human platform. We are here in the material world of physical and mental laws (including the duality of good and evil) due to our being ignorant of the higher laws of divine love. Ignorance is the cause of our illusion, not God. Shadow is the cause of darkness, not light.

The illusion of being independent and free is a symptom of our ignorance. How can we be free or independent when we are completely controlled by nature in the form of time, space, the senses, birth and death? The same nature that controls us also supports our illusion. But God is not being cruel by placing us in illusion. He is only fulfilling our own misguided desires. He does not impose illusion on us. We impose it on ourselves thru our own karma. He facilitates us to experience our karma by providing the grand illusion of this material world. And he gives us the chance to clear our karma by sending us agents from the world of divine love.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Bhagavad Gita 7.14
This verse from the Gita is one of my favorites. Lord Sri Krishna explains how to become liberated in this verse.

daivi hy esa guna-mayi
mama maya duratyaya
mam eva ye prapadyante
mayam etam taranti te

"This divine energy that people call 'nature,' is actually my personal energy.
It is super mundane-- all powerful within this universe-- and is made up of infinite combinations of three modes: goodness, passion and ignorance. All souls in this world are controlled by the particular nature that they acquire from these modes.
They identify with this nature and it is practically impossible to become free from this nature.
In each soul, this identification creates an overwhelming illusion and he or she thinks: i am this body.
But one who takes exclusive shelter of me, the controller of this energy, can cross beyond this nature.
I personally unbind the ropes of illusion for my devotee. Since I am the magician creating the illusion of maya, I can release this illusion as well.
I do this for my devotee."

Lord Siva affirms that Krishna gives liberation:
mukti-pradata sarvesam visnur eva na samsayah
"There is no doubt that Vishnu (Krishna) is the deliverer of liberation for everyone."

And in another Vedic literature:
tvam eva viditva
"Freedom is possible only by understanding Krishna."

Monday, May 21, 2007

Introducing the Song of the Sweet Absolute

Bhagavad Gita. This transcendental song is really a lyrical and scientific call to clarity for all jivas (individual souls) who are struggling hard in this land of illusion. We are caught in the matrix of maya here, slaves to our own mind and desires, and subject to the cruel laws of nature. The Gita opens our eyes to reality, far beyond the mental or sensual plane.
The following is a glorification of the Gita, written originally in Sanskrit, the language of the Gita and of gods, according to the Vedas. I am paraphrasing here; it is not a literal translation.
1. This Bhagavad Gita bestows all good. If one regularly reads it with attention he/she goes to the plane of Lord Vishnu, a plane where fear, distress and sorrow are conspicuous by their absence.
2. If someone studies the Gita with full attention, all of his/her material karma and negative reactions will be erased.
3. As a person daily bathes to clean his/her body, by bathing just once in the waters of the Gita (hearing or reading it from the lips of a pure devotee), all dirty things from all previous material experiences will be washed away.
4. This divine song comes directly from the mouth of the sweet absolute, the supreme truth, Sri Krishna. He sang it to Arjuna with love. What better knowledge or more precious treasure can there be?
5. By drinking this Ganges water of the Gita (by regularly singing or reading its verses), one will never take birth again in this ignorant and temporary material world, but will return to the eternal world of knowledge and bliss.
6. All the Upanisads (Vedic literatures) are the cow, Sri Krishna, the son of Nanda, is the milker of that cow, Arjuna is the calf, the nectar of the Gita is the milk, and the fortunate readers or hearers of the Gita are the enjoyers of the milk.
7. The one who appeared in this world as the son of Nanda, Sri Krishna, is the supreme truth.
The one essence of all scriptures is the song (Bhagavad Gita) sung by that divine son of Nanda, Sri Krishna.
The one mantra to deliver everyone from material illusion is the mantra of the names of that supreme truth, Sri Krishna.
And the one work that will bring peace, harmony and matchless gifts to humanity is devotional service to that supreme truth.
Please read Bhagavad Gita As It Is, Original Macmillan Edition, by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

i would like to introduce a prayer spoken by
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, the golden avatar.
he is the most profound incarnation of Lord Sri Krishna
and he appeared on this earth just 520 years before.
he was also known as Lord Gauranga (golden form) and
Gaurachandra (golden moon) and many other names.
He spoke 8 prayers in Sanskrit known as Sri Siksastakam.
the first one:

ceto darpana marjanam
bhava maha davagni nirvapanam
sreyah kairava candrika vitaranam
vidya vadhu jivanam
anandambudhi vardhanam
prati padam purnamrtasvadanam
sarvatma snapanam
param vijayate sri krsna sankirtanam

Supreme glory to the practice of Sri Krishna sankirtan,
the chanting of the holy names.
This practice cleanses the mirror of the mind and intelligence,
making the heart transparent.
As a downpour extinguishes a forest fire, this practice
drowns the raging internal fires of exploitation and alienation,
putting them out forever.
As cooling moonbeams open a white lotus at night,
this practice gently spreads good fortune to one lost in darkness.
It brings life to knowledge and is the beautiful bride of realization.
Expanding the deep sea of faith, Sri Krishna sankirtan gives one a taste
of pure nectar at each step and completely saturates the soul in ecstasy.