Always Be Prepared – to Die

Everyone will face death, it’s just a question of death, whether it comes in the next 80 seconds, or not for another 80 years. Our attitude to death brings all sorts of choices… and we all know that the decisions we make today constrain our choices tomorrow. So how to live with a perfect balance between the long-term view and the short-term view?

This is based on what I heard from my spiritual master, His Grace Sriman Sankarshan Das Adhikari

When we are prepared to die at every moment, every moment is a perfect moment, a moment of perfect consciousness – every moment becomes a thrill!

Sankarshan Das Adhikari

When I reflect on these words, I see how true they are, whether for good or for bad – for example, a lot of people do stupid things because they think they can get away with it – after all, things are changing all the time, I may never see that soul again, so what does it matter how I treat them? Whether it is relationships, business, work, or just random acts of unkindness, this short-term view causes a lot of problems.

And then there are the fools who think they are pleasing God by dying in the process of killing others. There are no bigger fools, unfortunately, they are going to another place, not to the Kingdom of God.

However, the very same attitude, when applied to transcendence, gives a powerful sense of urgency, an impetus to act for the highest spiritual benefit.

Be prepared to die in the next 80 seconds, or live for the next 80 years.

Sankarshan Das Adhikari

On the other hand, someone who is too focused on the short term, but not the longer term, ends up in trouble as well. They may spend too much time in avoiding what needs to be taken care of, like a leaky tap or a broken tile… This also results in excessive sense gratification, or postponing important things that must be done diligently… as in the proverbial tale of the hare and the tortoise… the rabbit and the tortoise once had a race, the rabbit quickly bounded off and gained a big lead… he saw that the tortoise was far behind, so he decided to rest and relax and fell asleep. The tortoise meanwhile, kept going, and ended up winning the race by the time the rabbit woke up.

How to maintain that balance of paying attention to the short-term details while still keeping that longer term focus?

Well, first of all, know that you are eternal, you will never die, you may change your covering, your dress, your vehicle, your residence, but you will never die. So the consequences of all your actions will be seen, sooner or later. So that will surely avoid the temptation to be short-sighted.

न त्वेवाहं जातु नासं न त्वं नेमे जनाधिपाः ।
न चैव नभविष्यामः सर्वे वयमतः परम् ॥ १२ ॥

na tv evāhaṁ jātu nāsaṁ
na tvaṁ neme janādhipāḥ
na caiva na bhaviṣyāmaḥ
sarve vayam ataḥ param

Never was there a time when I did not exist, nor you, nor all these kings; nor in the future shall any of us cease to be.

https://vedabase.io/en/library/bg/2/12/

And the other side? How to avoid being so long-term focused on the future that we ignore the here-and-now?

Remember that the here-and-now is what will take us to our destination – and the choices we make in the moment affect the choices that we have access to in future.

इति ते ज्ञानमाख्यातं गुह्याद्‍‍गुह्यतरं मया ।
विमृश्यैतदशेषेण यथेच्छसि तथा कुरु ॥ ६३ ॥

iti te jñānam ākhyātaṁ
guhyād guhya-taraṁ mayā
vimṛśyaitad aśeṣeṇa
yathecchasi tathā kuru

Thus I have explained to you knowledge still more confidential. Deliberate on this fully, and then do what you wish to do.

https://vedabase.io/en/library/bg/18/63/

Srila Prabhupada dives deeper in his wonderful purport…

Here the words yathecchasi tathā kuru – “As you like, you may act” – indicate that God does not interfere with the little independence of the living entity. In Bhagavad-gītā, the Lord has explained in all respects how one can elevate his living condition. The best advice imparted to Arjuna is to surrender unto the Supersoul seated within his heart. By right discrimination, one should agree to act according to the order of the Supersoul. That will help one become situated constantly in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, the highest perfectional stage of human life. Arjuna is being directly ordered by the Personality of Godhead to fight. Surrender to the Supreme Personality of Godhead is in the best interest of the living entities. It is not for the interest of the Supreme. Before surrendering, one is free to deliberate on this subject as far as the intelligence goes; that is the best way to accept the instruction of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Such instruction comes also through the spiritual master, the bona fide representative of Kṛṣṇa.

His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, in the purport to https://vedabase.io/en/library/bg/18/63/

Here are three questions you can ask yourself repeatedly, every time you have a choice to make:

  1. Based on the instructions of the spiritual master, what is the best use of my time right now
  2. How best may I serve the instructions of the spiritual master with what I have at this moment?
  3. Am I following the principles “better late than never” and “something is better than nothing”?

In this connection, my spiritual master often says:

Your attitude, and not your aptitude, determines your altitude.

His Grace Sriman Sankarshan Das Adhikari

If we reflect and act in this way, our life will be perfect, and death becomes immaterial, whether it comes in the next 80 seconds, or in the next 80 years.

तदोत्तानपद: पुत्रो ददर्शान्तकमागतम् ।
मृत्योर्मूर्ध्नि पदं दत्त्वा आरुरोहाद्भुतं गृहम् ॥ ३० ॥

tadottānapadaḥ putro
dadarśāntakam āgatam
mṛtyor mūrdhni padaṁ dattvā
ārurohādbhutaṁ gṛham

When Dhruva Mahārāja was attempting to get on the transcendental plane, he saw death personified approach him. Not caring for death, however, he took advantage of the opportunity to put his feet on the head of death, and thus he got up on the airplane, which was as big as a house.

https://vedabase.io/en/library/sb/4/12/30/

Go ahead. Transcend death! Why wouldn’t you?

(dis) United Nations

In 1945 when the United Nations was setup, there were 74 countries. Now there are 194. Since 1945, more than 285 wars have been fought. So clearly the nations are disunited! Did you know why we can never achieve unity through negotiations and resolutions?

In 1919, the League of Nations was established to maintain world peace. It went bust in 1946, after being unable to prevent the second world war.

In 1945, the United Nations was setup, another attempt at maintaining world peace.

Since 1945, the Nations have been anything but “United”… some nations became superpowers, some others teamed up with one or the other, and yet others formed their own little group of have-nots.

And what has the United Nations accomplished?

There were 74 sovereign countries in 1945.

There are now 194 countries in the world, as I write this, in 2022.

And within every country, there are groups of people who want to separate into their own country… think about India, now is Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh.

Think about Yugoslavia, it is now seven different countries… Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia, Serbia, Montenegro, and Kosovo… actually I had a hard time figuring that out, with the almost continuous change there.

And wars? How many wars have been fought since the “war to end all wars” – the second world war?

Since 1945 till 2001, 194, and from 1945 to 2020, there were more than 285! In other words, about 91 in less than 20 years! (source Uppsala Conflict Data Program)

And what about the wars going on today around the world?

Let’s face it, the United Nations is impotent and useless.

At this rate, every village will be a country. Why stop at that, every family, and every individual wants to declare independence!

So, actually, to anyone who has a little spiritual knowledge, that comes as no surprise.

After all, we came here to this material world to declare “independence” from God!

ममैवांशो जीवलोके जीवभूत: सनातन: ।
मन:षष्ठानीन्द्रियाणि प्रकृतिस्थानि कर्षति ॥ ७ ॥

mamaivāṁśo jīva-loke
jīva-bhūtaḥ sanātanaḥ
manaḥ-ṣaṣṭhānīndriyāṇi
prakṛti-sthāni karṣati

The living entities in this conditioned world are My eternal fragmental parts. Due to conditioned life, they are struggling very hard with the six senses, which include the mind.

We are all eternal fragmental parts of God. We are simultaneously one and different with Him, described as the philosophy that synthesizes all philosophy. In other words, we are different in identity, but one in quality and are meant to be one in purpose too.

https://vedabase.io/en/library/bg/15/7/

Just like your hand is a part of you, but is not you, similarly you are a part of God but not God. And if the hand doesn’t serve you, then it is diseased.

Similarly, us, here in the material world are diseased, and continuously split into smaller and smaller groups, because, let’s face it, if we can’t get along with God, we can’t get along with anyone.

Why is that?

God is so tolerant, forbearing, forgiving, and magnanimous!

र्वधर्मान्परित्यज्य मामेकं शरणं व्रज ।
अहं त्वां सर्वपापेभ्यो मोक्षयिष्यामि मा श‍ुच: ॥ ६६ ॥

sarva-dharmān parityajya
mām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ vraja
ahaṁ tvāṁ sarva-pāpebhyo
mokṣayiṣyāmi mā śucaḥ

Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reactions. Do not fear.

https://vedabase.io/en/library/bg/18/66/

In fact, no matter how you approach God, you benefit!

Putana was a witch who specialized in killing little babies. She smeared poison on her breast and disguised herself as a wet nurse… she took baby Krishna on her lap to “feed” him. Krishna, He is God and cannot be killed. He took her milk and her poison, but also sucked out her very life. With that act of what appears to be “killing”, he killed the nastiness of Putana completely. So much so that she attained the service of serving as one of Krishna’s mothers in the spiritual world.

अहो बकी यं स्तनकालकूटं
जिघांसयापाययदप्यसाध्वी ।
लेभे गतिं धात्र्युचितां ततोऽन्यं
कं वा दयालुं शरणं व्रजेम ॥ २३ ॥

aho bakī yaṁ stana-kāla-kūṭaṁ
jighāṁsayāpāyayad apy asādhvī
lebhe gatiṁ dhātry-ucitāṁ tato ’nyaṁ
kaṁ vā dayāluṁ śaraṇaṁ vrajema

Alas, how shall I take shelter of one more merciful than He who granted the position of mother to a she-demon [Pūtanā] although she was unfaithful and she prepared deadly poison to be sucked from her breast?

https://vedabase.io/en/library/sb/3/2/23/

So, coming back to our original topic… how can nations be united. No amount of negotiation and discussion and deal-making can help us be united.

There is only one thing that can help us be united.

तस्मादेकेन मनसा भगवान् सात्वतां पति: ।
श्रोतव्य: कीर्तितव्यश्च ध्येय: पूज्यश्च नित्यदा ॥ १४ ॥

tasmād ekena manasā
bhagavān sātvatāṁ patiḥ
śrotavyaḥ kīrtitavyaś ca
dhyeyaḥ pūjyaś ca nityadā

Therefore, with one-pointed attention, one should constantly hear about, glorify, remember and worship the Personality of Godhead, who is the protector of the devotees.

https://vedabase.io/en/library/sb/1/2/14/

Let us admit that all these ways of trying to be united without God in the centre have not and will never work, and let us meet on the platform of glorification of God.

Sankirtan = Samyak Kirtan – Complete Glorification of God is the only solution to the problems of the world.

param vijayate sri krishna sankirtanam! Eternally victorious is Sri Krishna Sankirtana!

The weapon guaranteed to backfire

If you had a weapon that was guranteed to backfire each time you use it, would you ever employ it? But we routinely do! What is this weapon that is guaranteed to hurt the owner?

Suppose you had a weapon. And you felt a reason to use it too. But every time you loaded it up, pointed at the target, and fired, the weapon would fire back at you. Your weapon was guaranteed to hit you every time you tried to use it.

Would you use such a weapon? Would you not throw it away?

But most of us diligently maintain and regularly use exactly such a weapon! And we repeatedly get hurt by this weapon of ours, but we continue to use it. Over and over again.

What does that sound like?

It’s called envy. Jealousy is another word that is sometimes used as a synonym. Sometimes, envy is perceived as being greater than jealousy. In any case, both are harmful.

Envy is an emotion which “occurs when a person lacks another’s
superior quality, achievement, or possession and either desires it or
wishes that the other lacked it”. Aristotle defined envy as pain at the
sight of another’s good fortune, stirred by “those who have what we
ought to have.”

Wikipedia

Very often, the target of the envy does not even know about the resentment someone bears towards them.

Envy is a weapon that’s guaranteed to burn the bearer.

Sometimes, like in the case of people eating meat (you die so I can enjoy) or assaulting (your pain is my pleasure) others, or a community or a nation waging war (let’s attack them, even if they haven’t harmed us, just think, it would set them back at least by 30 years), it does also hurt the target, but not without hurting the bearer of envy first.

Envy of other living entities forms the basis of eternal life in the material world. Anyone who is envious is guaranteed to remain here.

Envy is the fundamental characteristic of a conditioned soul trapped in the material world.

Would you like to do a quick test whether you are conditioned or liberated?

Here we go!

To want to enjoy anything for ourselves, to take credit, to claim proprietorship – this means we are conditioned. Even in spiritual life, to compete, to not co-operate, this is envy… we’re secretly hoping someone ahead of us will fall down, so others will see someone is not as good as I am! Condescension, Holier-than-thou, all this is envy!

Envy is a weed

Where does this envy spring up from?

Ultimately, Envy damages our relationships.

  • In an ideal relationship, there is reciprocation
  • In an imbalanced relationship, there is exploitation
  • Where there is envy, one tries to cause damage to the other
  • Envy is exploitation taken to the maximum!
  • No possibility of happiness for the envious.
  • We need to recognize envy, understand its source, and overcome it

This is the root cause of all evil. It is the original sin of being envious of God.

God, or The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna, as I know Him, but also called variously as Allah, Jehovah, Rama, Yahweh and countless other names, is the Supreme Enjoyer.

Material consciousness line of thought…

  • I want all the pleasure, the greatest pleasure, all for me
  • Even if others have to die, let them, me first!
  • Who has the greatest pleasure right now?
  • Krishna has the greatest pleasure
  • Therefore, I want Krishna to not be Krishna
  • I want to be Krishna instead
  • Let me kill Krishna and take Krishna’s place

This is material conditioning!

The spiritual world is a place where everyone is trying to increase God’s pleasure. The material world is a place where everyone is trying to be #1, trying to be God.

We see this everywhere, on the streets, in traffic, in the social fabric, in lifestyles, envy rears its ugly head with saddening regularity.

Envy of God translates to Envy of God’s!

  • An envious person tries to kill God
  • By Science, by Politics, or by Religion, the envious person tries to kill God
  • Many tried, Ravana, Hiranyakashipu, Duryodhana, and many others
  • An Atheist is necessarily envious of God, even just the very idea
  • If an envious person gets frustrated by not being able to kill God, then?

Envy everyone else!

Envy, disguised

  • Hunting comes from envy, Fishing from envy
  • Meat Eating comes from envy
  • Economic Exploitation comes envy
  • Abuse (Physical, Emotional, Mental) comes from envy
  • Hedonism (avoid pain, seek pleasure at all costs) comes from envy
  • Insensitivity comes from envy
  • Discord in relationships, family, society, nations, all comes from envy
  • Essentially all problems in human society come from one root cause!
  • Religious Extremism comes from Envy too!
  • ENVY IS THE ROOT CAUSE OF ALL EVIL!

What is interesting to note is that when we envy someone, anyone, no matter whether it is for their possessions, relationships, beauty, fame, knowledge or any other quality… we actually envy God!

Why is that? Because anything that anyone has is by the direct sanction of God! Lord Rishabhadeva offers a most insightful instruction to his sons, meant for the benefit of all of us…

सर्वाणि मद्धिष्ण्यतया भवद्भ‍ि-
श्चराणि भूतानि सुता ध्रुवाणि ।
सम्भावितव्यानि पदे पदे वो
विविक्तद‍ृग्भिस्तदु हार्हणं मे ॥ २६ ॥

sarvāṇi mad-dhiṣṇyatayā bhavadbhiś
carāṇi bhūtāni sutā dhruvāṇi
sambhāvitavyāni pade pade vo
vivikta-dṛgbhis tad u hārhaṇaṁ me

My dear sons, you should not envy any living entity — be he moving or nonmoving. Knowing that I am situated in them, you should offer respect to all of them at every moment. In this way, you offer respect to Me.

https://vedabase.io/en/library/sb/5/5/26/

In other words, if, by offering respect to everyone, we respect God by respecting His creation, then by envying any living entity, we actually envy God!

How to be free from envy?

There are direct and indirect methods of getting free from envy.

Krishna, for example, advises us thus:

But if one happens to meet a great devotee, a mahātmā who is a representative of the Personality of Godhead, one is immediately purified. To become purified, one isB enjoined to worship the fire, the sun, the moon, the earth, the water, the air, the sky and the mind. By worshiping all the elements and their predominating deities, one can gradually become free from the influence of envy, but all the sins of an envious person can be nullified immediately simply by serving a great soul.

https://vedabase.io/en/library/kb/84/

Love is the only antidote to envy!

And what is Love? That is discussed in these articles…

Living based on Envy

Unfortunately, there are actually many “religious” systems and organizations that are actually based on envy…

How can a religious system that produces envy of one’s self
and of others be beneficial for oneself and for them? What is
auspicious about following such a system? What is actually to
be gained? By causing pain to one’s own self due to self-envy
and by causing pain to others, one arouses Your anger and
practices irreligion.


Any religious system but the process of bhāgavata-dharma —
service as an eternal servant of the Supreme Personality of
Godhead — is a system of envy of one’s own self and of
others.

https://vedabase.io/en/library/sb/6/16/42/

What is the use of following such a religious system that does not breed love but envy and hatred?

धर्म: स्वनुष्ठित: पुंसां विष्वक्सेनकथासु य: ।
नोत्पादयेद्यदि रतिं श्रम एव हि केवलम् ॥ ८ ॥

dharmaḥ svanuṣṭhitaḥ puṁsāṁ
viṣvaksena-kathāsu yaḥ
notpādayed yadi ratiṁ
śrama eva hi kevalam

The occupational activities a man performs according to his own position are only so much useless labor if they do not provoke attraction for the message of the Personality of Godhead.

https://vedabase.io/en/library/sb/1/2/8/

Here is one way…

O King Parīkṣit, anyone who
aurally receives the narrations
concerning the characteristics of
Lord Rāmacandra’s pastimes will
ultimately be freed from the
disease of envy and thus be
liberated from the bondage of
fruitive activities.

https://vedabase.io/en/library/9/11/23

Srila A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada writes…

Here in this material world, everyone is envious of someone else. Even in religious life, it is sometimes found that if one devotee has advanced in spiritual activities, other devotees are envious of him. Such envious devotees are not completely freed from the bondage of birth and death. As long as one is not
completely free from the cause of birth and death, one cannot enter the sanātana-dhāma or the eternal pastimes of the Lord. One becomes envious because of being influenced by the designations of the body, but the liberated devotee has nothing to do with the body, and therefore he is completely on the transcendental platform. A devotee is never envious of anyone, even his enemy. Because the devotee knows that the Lord is his supreme protector, he thinks, “What harm can the so-called enemy do?” Thus a devotee is confident about his protection. The Lord says, ye yathā māṁ prapadyante tāṁs tathaiva bhajāmy aham: “According to the proportion of one’s surrender unto Me, I respond accordingly.” A devotee must therefore be completely free from envy, especially of other devotees. To envy other devotees is a great offense, a vaiṣṇava-aparādha. A devotee who constantly engages in hearing and chanting (śravaṇa-kīrtana) is certainly freed from the disease of envy, and thus he becomes eligible to go back home, back to Godhead.

https://vedabase.io/en/library/sb/9/11/23/

What is the ultimate solution?

A devotee who constantly engages in hearing and chanting (śravaṇa-kīrtana) is certainly freed from the disease of envy, and thus he becomes eligible to go back home, back to Godhead.

In conclusion… Recognize Krishna, and Krishna’s…

  • Krishna is the Supreme Enjoyer
  • Anything anyone else has is also given by Krishna
  • Krishna is our best friend
  • If Krishna doesn’t give something, good reasons…
  • I should do everything to please Krishna
  • When you’re looking in the mirror, when you decorate yourself, the reflection
  • in the mirror also gets decorated
  • Turn to Krishna, serve Krishna, Please Krishna.
  • Love me, love my dog
  • Who is not Krishna’s?

Recognize envy, and root it out!

  • The roots of a weed can be deep, and not pulling out the roots
  • can result in the weed growing back
  • The root of all evil is envy towards Krishna
  • Recognize sense gratification as a mirage
  • Recognize that the way to nourish the plant is to water the root
  • Krishna is our root

स वै पुंसां परो धर्मो यतो भक्तिरधोक्षजे ।
अहैतुक्यप्रतिहता ययात्मा सुप्रसीदति ॥ ६ ॥

sa vai puṁsāṁ paro dharmo
yato bhaktir adhokṣaje
ahaituky apratihatā
yayātmā suprasīdati

The supreme occupation [dharma] for all humanity is that by which men can attain to loving devotional service unto the transcendent Lord. Such devotional service must be unmotivated and uninterrupted to completely satisfy the self.

https://vedabase.io/en/library/sb/1/2/6/

Praying for our success! Hare Krishna!

Celebrate Humility, not Pride

Pride is celebrated these days. Be proud of this or that, we are told. But what is the price of pride? And why is humility better? How to be humble? What is the big deal about humility? Why not celebrate humility for a change?

Recently there have been a number of festivals focusing around pride. Different kinds of pride, but all material in nature. For example someone is proud that they are heterosexual in their preference, and yet others are proud that they are homosexual, lesbian, bisexual, trans-sexual or queer.

It is fashionable to celebrate pride these days

Yet others are celebrating their pride of being of a certain colour skin, or others are celebrating their profession or nationality or ethnic origin.

It is another matter that in the kaliyuga, or the age of quarrel and hypocrisy, everything is mixed up… souls are born in the body of a man, but the consciousness of a woman… or the body of a woman but the consciousness of a man. This is due to incomplete karmic accounts, and these mixed-up births are actually a form of punishment, but the spirit souls are trying to turn them into perverse enjoyment.

They parade these material designations, and the various festivals involve getting inebriated, and having some silly sense indulgences which bind them further into their attachments, causing yet another painful material death, and leading to many more such materially designated lives.

All of these are essentially material designations. And we should be ashamed of material designations. OK, this is not just a matter of sentiment, but we should know that these material designations are the cause of all of our sufferings.

I am not this body, I am a spirit soul. You too, dear reader, are a spirit soul.

So why should we adopt all these material designations? Why should we make the mistake of thinking we are these bodies? Why should we identify with some temporary thing that comes and goes? Today you might be a heterosexual, and tomorrow you might become a homosexual! Today you might be Chinese or American or Russian or Indian, but what were you before were born into this body?

Instead however if we realize that we are spirit souls, we then inquire into the activities of the spirit soul, which are spiritual in nature, and which give the spirit soul great joy “ananda” bliss. In fact, we are composed of “sat” (eternality) “chit” (knowledge), and “ananda” (bliss).

In the material condition, we are simply trying to find that bliss but not at all finding it, and hence, the lawyer becomes a politician, the heterosexual becomes lesbian, the lesbian becomes straight, the businessman becomes a philanthropist, the Hindu becomes Muslim, the Muslim adopts Christianity, and yet, as life wanes and death nears, there is a sense of disgust, frustration, and dissatisfaction, which is usually hidden under a veneer of distraction, such as attempts at sense gratification, intoxication and so on.

People identify with different religious symbols, which become another material designation

What is the solution to this problem?

To free ourselves of all designations of course!

Krishna says the following in the Bhagavad Gita…

अद्वेष्टा सर्वभूतानां मैत्र: करुण एव च ।
निर्ममो निरहङ्कार: समदु:खसुख: क्षमी ॥ १३ ॥
सन्तुष्ट: सततं योगी यतात्मा दृढनिश्चय: ।
मय्यर्पितमनोबुद्धिर्यो मद्भ‍क्त: स मे प्रिय: ॥ १४ ॥

adveṣṭā sarva-bhūtānāṁ
maitraḥ karuṇa eva ca
nirmamo nirahaṅkāraḥ
sama-duḥkha-sukhaḥ kṣamī

santuṣṭaḥ satataṁ yogī
yatātmā dṛḍha-niścayaḥ
mayy arpita-mano-buddhir
yo mad-bhaktaḥ sa me priyaḥ

One who is not envious but is a kind friend to all living entities, who does not think himself a proprietor and is free from false ego, who is equal in both happiness and distress, who is tolerant, always satisfied, self-controlled, and engaged in devotional service with determination, his mind and intelligence fixed on Me – such a devotee of Mine is very dear to Me.

https://vedabase.io/en/library/bg/12/13-14/

All these material designations qualify as “false ego”. “ego” means identity. Then what is “true” ego?

What is our true identity?

True ego means to realize oneself as an eternal part-and-parcel of Krishna.

jīvera ‘svarūpa’ haya — kṛṣṇera ‘nitya-dāsa’
kṛṣṇera ‘taṭasthā-śakti’ ‘bhedābheda-prakāśa’

sūryāṁśa-kiraṇa, yaiche agni-jvālā-caya
svābhāvika kṛṣṇera tina-prakāra ‘śakti’ haya

“It is the living entity’s constitutional position to be an eternal servant of Kṛṣṇa because he is the marginal energy of Kṛṣṇa and a manifestation simultaneously one with and different from the Lord, like a molecular particle of sunshine or fire. Kṛṣṇa has three varieties of energy.

https://vedabase.io/en/library/cc/madhya/20/108-109/

Krishna claims all souls to be His own too.

ममैवांशो जीवलोके जीवभूत: सनातन: ।
मन:षष्ठानीन्द्रियाणि प्रकृतिस्थानि कर्षति ॥ ७ ॥

mamaivāṁśo jīva-loke
jīva-bhūtaḥ sanātanaḥ
manaḥ-ṣaṣṭhānīndriyāṇi
prakṛti-sthāni karṣati

The living entities in this conditioned world are My eternal fragmental parts. Due to conditioned life, they are struggling very hard with the six senses, which include the mind.

https://vedabase.io/en/library/bg/15/7/
Krishna Lifts Govardhan
Krishna Lifts Govardhan, to protect from the deluge sent by Indra, and the residents of Vrindavan enjoy close proximity with Him

Srila Prabhupada writes in his purport:

Every living entity, as an individual soul, has his personal individuality and a minute form of independence. By misuse of that independence one becomes a conditioned soul, and by proper use of independence he is always liberated. In either case, he is qualitatively eternal, as the Supreme Lord is. In his liberated state he is freed from this material condition, and he is under the engagement of transcendental service unto the Lord; in his conditioned life he is dominated by the material modes of nature, and he forgets the transcendental loving service of the Lord. As a result, he has to struggle very hard to maintain his existence in the material world.

https://vedabase.io/en/library/bg/15/7/

There you go. Instead of being proud of the material designations, we should feel humbled that such an exalted spirit soul is now in illusion and anxiety as some idiotic little temporary designation.

And when the soul feels humble, then that is cause for celebration. Why is that? And how to accomplish this freedom from material designations?

सर्वोपाधि विनिर्मुक्तं तत्परत्वेन निर्मलं
हृषिकेन हृषीकेश सेवनम् भक्तिरुच्यते

sarvopādhi-vinirmuktaṁ
tat-paratvena nirmalam
hṛṣīkeṇa hṛṣīkeśa-
sevanaṁ bhaktir ucyate

 Bhakti, or devotional service, means engaging all our senses in the service of the Lord, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the master of all the senses. When the spirit soul renders service unto the Supreme, there are two side effects. One is freed from all material designations, and one’s senses are purified simply by being employed in the service of the Lord.

https://vedabase.io/en/library/cc/madhya/19/170/

And what is the big deal about Bhakti? That is our natural identity. So we can know who we are, and be who we are.

One of the most humble souls I know, and naturally ecstatic!

Don’t you want to be yourself?

Ascending vs. Descending Process of knowledge

What is knowledge? What is ignorance? How do we acquire knowledge? Which method actually works? Finding out things the ascending way, or hearing from an authority? How to acquire perfect knowledge beyond all doubt?

Knowledge is a wonderful thing, isn’t it?

Are these people getting anywhere? Are they “progressing”?

With knowledge, comes power. Power to do good, and also power to do evil. Knowledge can be a liberator, but also can be a tool for enforcing bondage.

Also, what qualifies as knowledge anyway? If, for example, a person acquired some knowledge on “how to rob a bank” and applies that knowledge, landing in prison, or even if they escape somehow, was that really knowledge? Or was it ignorance?

There are 2 main types of knowledge:

  1. Knowledge of the material world -material knowledge
  2. Knowledge of what lies beyond this material world through the scriptures – spiritual knowledge – In Sanskrit “परोक्ष” or “parokṣa”

There are many means of acquiring knowledge:

  1. By Direct experience or perception – In sanskrit “प्रत्यक्ष” or “pratyakṣa”
  2. By hypothesis/logic/conjecture/guessing – In sanskrit “अनुमान” or “anumāna”
  3. By hearing from a higher authority – In Sanskrit “शब्द” or “śabda”

Ultimately, there are 2 fundamental processes of acquiring knowledge:

  1. Ascending Process – build up knowledge from building blocks – In Sanskrit “आरोहपन्था” or “ārohapanthā
  2. Descending Process – Knowledge descending directly from God and His messengers – In Sanskrit “अवरोहपन्था” or “avarohapanthā

In an article, with an example of an ant who wanted to map the Universe, I discussed the futility of the ascending process of knowledge, especially about items that are outside of our realm of perception.

Much of what we know exists, is actually too subtle to perceive.

These are the material elements, listed in the Bhagavad Gita:

Gross Material Elements:

  1. Earth
  2. Water
  3. Fire
  4. Air
  5. Ether (Space/Sky)

Subtle Material Elements:

  1. Mind
  2. Intelligence
  3. False Ego

BG भूमिरापोऽनलो वायु: खं मनो बुद्धिरेव च ।
अहङ्कार इतीयं मे भिन्ना प्रकृतिरष्टधा ॥ ४ ॥

bhūmir āpo ’nalo vāyuḥ
khaṁ mano buddhir eva ca
ahaṅkāra itīyaṁ me
bhinnā prakṛtir aṣṭadhā

Earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind, intelligence and false ego – all together these eight constitute My separated material energies.

https://vedabase.io/en/library/bg/7/4/

The Material-Spiritual Disconnect

Earth is the most gross of the material elements, more subtle is water, even more subtle is air, and ether is quite subtle, you can’t touch or feel space, but we can still perceive it. Now, when we get to the mind, that is even more subtle. Intelligence is still more subtle, and the most subtle material element is false ego, our sense of identity.

However, none of the material elements can directly approach that which is non-material, namely the spiritual is outside of the realm of material elements, even subtle.

If we see our material means of acquiring knowledge, the mind, intelligence, and our sense of identity are all material in nature, and therefore, the ascending process of acquiring knowledge cannot possibly extend to the spiritual realm.

There is another main reason why the ascending process of knowledge is flawed… all of us who are “conditioned” to accept a material identity, have 4 defects:

  1. Tendency to be illusioned (In Sanskrit “भ्रम”or “bhrama”) – we often misunderstand facts and are illusioned about things as they are
  2. Tendency to make mistakes (In Sanskrit “प्रमाद” or “pramāda”) – there is no conditioned souls who can say they never make mistakes
  3. Tendency to cheat others (In Sanskrit “विप्रलिप्सा”or “vipralipsā”) – this is a great weakness, to want to appear better than we are, or know something we don’t, etc.
  4.  We possess imperfect senses (In Sanskrit “करण पाटव” or “karaṇa-pāṭava”) – all our senses are quite imperfect, and we miss a lot from our senses

So, with these 4 defects, it is impossible to acquire perfect knowledge using only our senses. Why is that? It is because with an imperfect instrument, you cannot make something that is perfect. No matter how hard we try, our imperfections stand in the way.

The common example is if we’re doing some mathematical calculation or solving an equation… a tiny mistake somewhere along the way can get us a wrong answer.

Let’s say, for example, someone didn’t know who their father was… they can do some detective work, or a DNA test of every man in the world, or they can take the answer from their mother. The mother’s answer is authoritative and a lot easier too.

Reconnecting Material to the Spiritual

The only way to acquire perfect knowledge, then, is through the descending process, “avarohapantha”. In this process, the Supreme Absolute Perfect (generically called God, specifically named Krishna, Allah, Rama, Govinda, Buddha, Jehovah, Yahweh, etc.) conveys the perfect knowledge, and whoever hears this knowledge passes it on without addition or subtraction.

Perfect Knowledge means something that never changes. Compare this to our ascending process of knowledge. Researchers make a career out of making mistakes! First they publish one paper hypothesizing (and sometimes also offering “proof”) one particular thing… the laypeople accept that as the truth, and then a little while later, that or another researcher publishes another paper contradicting the original hypothesis or proof. In this way, the so-called philosophers and scientists bumble about, going from imperfection to imperfection. This is not called knowledge, this is called nescience, or ignorance.

Why is that? Because material knowledge gives the impression of advancement, whereas it actually traps us in bigger and bigger problems, requiring more and ever more complexity. A material “solution” is only another problem in disguise… it is simply creating one problem in place of another. Therefore, material knowledge is not called knowledge, but ignorance. And those who pursue material knowledge excessively are said to be ignorant.

So therefore, spiritual knowledge is worth pursuing, and such knowledge cannot be “discovered/created/invented” by anyone else other than the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

धर्मं तु साक्षाद्भ‍गवत्प्रणीतं
न वै विदुऋर्षयो नापि देवा: ।
न सिद्धमुख्या असुरा मनुष्या:
कुतो नु विद्याधरचारणादय: ॥ १९ ॥

dharmaṁ tu sākṣād bhagavat-praṇītaṁ
na vai vidur ṛṣayo nāpi devāḥ
na siddha-mukhyā asurā manuṣyāḥ
kuto nu vidyādhara-cāraṇādayaḥ

Real religious principles are enacted by the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Although fully situated in the mode of goodness, even the great ṛṣis who occupy the topmost planets cannot ascertain the real religious principles, nor can the demigods or the leaders of Siddhaloka, to say nothing of the asuras, ordinary human beings, Vidyādharas and Cāraṇas.

https://vedabase.io/en/library/sb/6/3/19/

But, one may ask, it’s not like the Supreme Personality of Godhead is directly perceivable to a materially conditioned soul. So what is to be done?

Fortunately, there is a clear way…

स्वयम्भूर्नारद: शम्भु: कुमार: कपिलो मनु: ।
प्रह्लादो जनको भीष्मो बलिर्वैयासकिर्वयम् ॥ २० ॥
द्वादशैते विजानीमो धर्मं भागवतं भटा: ।
गुह्यं विशुद्धं दुर्बोधं यं ज्ञात्वामृतमश्नुते ॥ २१ ॥

svayambhūr nāradaḥ śambhuḥ
kumāraḥ kapilo manuḥ
prahlādo janako bhīṣmo
balir vaiyāsakir vayam

dvādaśaite vijānīmo
dharmaṁ bhāgavataṁ bhaṭāḥ
guhyaṁ viśuddhaṁ durbodhaṁ
yaṁ jñātvāmṛtam aśnute

Lord Brahmā, Bhagavān Nārada, Lord Śiva, the four Kumāras, Lord Kapila [the son of Devahūti], Svāyambhuva Manu, Prahlāda Mahārāja, Janaka Mahārāja, Grandfather Bhīṣma, Bali Mahārāja, Śukadeva Gosvāmī and I myself know the real religious principle. My dear servants, this transcendental religious principle, which is known as bhāgavata-dharma, or surrender unto the Supreme Lord and love for Him, is uncontaminated by the material modes of nature. It is very confidential and difficult for ordinary human beings to understand, but if by chance one fortunately understands it, he is immediately liberated, and thus he returns home, back to Godhead.

https://vedabase.io/en/library/sb/6/3/20-21/

Now, at least some of those personalities have established disciplic successions on this planet.

There are 4 main authorized disciplic successions to receive perfect knowledge in discipic successions. A disciplic succession is known as “Sampradaya” or “That which gives completely”.

A mango, intact, passed down

A useful example is that if a ripe mango is high in a tree, then if the mango is handed from person to person from those who are at various heights pass the mango down from hand to hand, vs. trying to throw the mango down to the ground…

A Sampradaya delivers spiritual knowledge perfectly, without addition or subtraction
  1. Brahma Sampradaya and its branches, especially expounded by the great teacher Madhva, Lord Chaitanya, and their followers.
  2. Rudra Sampradaya and its branches, especially expounded by the great teacher Vishnu Swami and his followers.
  3. Sri Sampradaya and its branches, begun by Lakshmi devi, the Goddess of Fortune, consort of Lord Narayana, and especially expounded by the great teacher Sri Ramanuja and his followers.
  4. Kumara Sampradaya and its branches, especially expounded by the great teacher Sri Nimbarka and his followers.

What about the rest?

To the extent the teachings of others are in line with one of these descending lines of discipic succession, they are valid, and anything outside of these is at best a stepping stone to one of these 4 lines of disciplic succession. In the worst case, it is a materialistic business masquerading as a genuine spiritual tradition.

Those who claim to be part of a certain tradition but add or subtract from the fundamental principles or twist the teachings are called “apasampradayas” or “anti disciplic successions”.

His Grace Sriman Sankarshan Das Adhikari

By the mercy of my parents and then my spiritual master His Grace Sriman Sankarshan Das Adhikari who is a disciple of His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada The Founder Acharya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, even though personally unworthy, I am connected to one of these lines of disciplic succession, called the Brahma-Madhva-Gaudiya Sampradaya, and seeking to pass on those pure instructions to whoever may want to follow, without adding or subtracting any principle, only, if need be, adjusting details to suit the individual and times.

His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, Founder Acharya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON)
His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, Founder Acharya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON)

And what is a principle and what is a detail? That, Srila Prabhupada said, requires some intelligence. I pray for this intelligence, which in my case, I simply ask my spiritual master with a clear description of context.

Ultimately however, knowledge coming from the scriptures and the spiritual master in disciplic succession must be realized in the heart through a process of personal effort (sadhana) and purification. Then the paroksha jnana or scriptural knowledge through scripture, becomes “aparoksha” or that which is beyond the reach of the material senses. In order to experience such knowledge in action, one’s senses must be spiritually awakened, or re-spiritualized.

Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead

Pure devotional service to Krishna is the Ultimate goal of all knowledge, and anything besides this is a waste of time.

Questions? I remain your servant on your spiritual journey! Hare Krishna!

The Ultimate Synthesis of Advaita & Dvaita – achintya bheda abheda

There are a lot of different philosophies in the world. Some are just absurd, but some are partial truths. Instead of fighting over philosophies, one should try to understand the ultimate synthesis of philosophies – if you haven’t heard of it before, it’s called “Simultaneous Inconcievable Oneness and Difference” – the philosophy of Lord Chaitanya.

When it comes to philosophies, there are an infinite variety.

Some philosophies apply to life in the material world, and don’t extend to the spiritual realm. We will discard these philosophies, because they pertain to the temporary. It is not that they are devoid of value, but that for a spiritualist they are not of too much consequence in the long run, from the perspective of eternity.

Often, followers of various philosophies debate, quarrel, bicker, and disagree with each other in mild and severe forms. Sometimes, a difference in philosophy results in quarrels, enmities, violence, murder, and even war!

This article does not claim to list and explain all the different philosophies, but simply summarizes the chief ideas.

I wrote before about the chief philosophies that drive our modern world, such as voidism and randomness, which are merely imaginations.

Actually, when thinking of philosophies, one should consider the tale of the 6 blind men and the elephant.

Once upon a time, 6 blind men were taken to “see” an elephant… those who are blind in vision use their other senses to “see”… we don’t mean any offense to blind readers of this post, but this is how the story goes.

6 blind men and the elephant

One touched the side of the elephant.

The second touched the tail

The third touched the tusk

The fourth touched the trunk

The fifth, the ear of the elephant.

The sixth, the leg of the elephant.

Then they all came out and began to tell each other what the elephant is like. One said the elephant is like a wall (side), the second said it is like a stiff rope (tail), the third said it is just like smooth spear, and the fourth said it is like a snake (trunk). The fifth said it is like a smooth tray (ear) and the sixth said it is just like a tree trunk (leg).

All of them began to disagree with each other, and eventually got into an argument about what the elephant is like.

All the blind men were partially right, but could not synthesize their partial truths into one consistent whole.

Scholars looking at philosophies are just like those blind men.

In particular, there are 2 main spiritual philosophies

Advaita – This philosophy describes that all is one, and there are variants of these philosophies all the way from Kevaladvaita, Shuddhadvaita, Vishishtadvaita. This philosophy encapsulates practically all of Islam, Christianity, and Judaism.

Dvaita – This philosophy describes that God is one and the living entities are separate from God… and in some remaining ways describes the key difference between God and the living entity, between God and nature, and so on.

And scholars have fought over this for thousands of years.

So many philosophies… is there one that encapsulates and synthesizes them all?

Only God can establish something perfect…

धर्मं तु साक्षाद्भ‍गवत्प्रणीतं
न वै विदुऋर्षयो नापि देवा: ।
न सिद्धमुख्या असुरा मनुष्या:
कुतो नु विद्याधरचारणादय: ॥ १९ ॥

dharmaṁ tu sākṣād bhagavat-praṇītaṁ
na vai vidur ṛṣayo nāpi devāḥ
na siddha-mukhyā asurā manuṣyāḥ
kuto nu vidyādhara-cāraṇādayaḥ

Real religious principles are enacted by the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Although fully situated in the mode of goodness, even the great ṛṣis who occupy the topmost planets cannot ascertain the real religious principles, nor can the demigods or the leaders of Siddhaloka, to say nothing of the asuras, ordinary human beings, Vidyādharas and Cāraṇas.

https://vedabase.io/en/library/sb/6/3/19/

In the 16th Century, God Himself appeared in the form of Lord Chaitanya and described the ultimate synthesis of all valid philosophies.

कृष्णवर्णं त्विषाकृष्णं साङ्गोपाङ्गास्त्रपार्षदम् ।
यज्ञै: सङ्कीर्तनप्रायैर्यजन्ति हि सुमेधस: ॥ ३२ ॥

kṛṣṇa-varṇaṁ tviṣākṛṣṇaṁ
sāṅgopāṅgāstra-pārṣadam
yajñaiḥ saṅkīrtana-prāyair
yajanti hi su-medhasaḥ

In the Age of Kali, intelligent persons perform congregational chanting to worship the incarnation of Godhead who constantly sings the names of Kṛṣṇa. Although His complexion is not blackish, He is Kṛṣṇa Himself. He is accompanied by His associates, servants, weapons and confidential companions.

https://vedabase.io/en/library/sb/11/5/32/
Lord Chaitanya with His associates

Lord Chaitanya’s philosophy is as follows:

achintya bheda abheda – simultaneous inconceivable oneness and difference.

This philosophy is different from all the valid and invalid philosophies, but beautifully synthesizes the correct aspects of all valid philosophies.

I am just a humble servant of the servant of the servant ad infinitum of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. If anyone wishes to understand this in more detail, they are invited to thoroughly study the books of Srila A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (ask me how), and then, after understanding Srila Prabhupada’s books, into the famous writings of Srila Jiva Goswami, the 6 Sandarbhas.

Democracy means a society ruled by Hogs, Dogs, Camels, and Asses

Democracy is much praised, but what does it really produce? A government where the leaders are no better than hogs, dogs, animals and asses, just like the people who elect them. Don’t believe me? Read on!

Nowadays, it is the age of democracy for a significant part of the world.

Democracy is meant to be a government “By the People, For the People, and Of the People”. Sounds like a great concept in theory.

Until we see what is actually happening in practice.

In my post Human Animal Farm, I wrote about this… I wanted to focus on this particular point about what a democratic government ends up being and why.

In general, I use the phrase “untrained humans” as humans who do not know or appreciate the true value of human life, which is meant for spiritual perfection.

Instead, these untrained humans spend all their activities in the 4 basic animal activities…

  • Eating
  • Sleeping
  • Mating
  • Defending

If you look at any species of germ, insect, fish, bird, animal, or even a plant, we see that they conduct these 4 activities, and their lives essentially revolve around those 4 activities…

The ancient Sanskrit Hitopadesha (Instruction for Welfare), which is an instruction to all of us, especially in modern times, defines a human being devoid of “dharma” as equivalent to a beast.

A 2-legged or 3-legged beast, but a beast nevertheless.

āhāra-nidrā-bhaya-maithunaṃ cha
samānam_etat_pashubhir_narāṇām |
dharmo hi teṣhāmadhiko visheṣho
dharmeṇa hīnāḥ pashubhiḥ samānāḥ ||
Food, sleep, fear and mating, these acts of humans are similar to animals. 
Of them (humans), dharma is the only special thing, without dharma humans are also animals

Why is that?

Just look at the creatures around you – whether it be an ant or an elephant… you can hardly interest them in any subject matter beyond these 4 – eating, sleeping, mating, and defending. And neither do they have to work very hard, or get some kind of education to fulfill those aims.

Our modern education system is largely focused around teaching students how to earn a livelihood… because we have made earning a livelihood so complicated that it takes training just to find a little food and some shelter. As for mating and defending, no one needs training, it comes naturally to everyone.

However, there is no education to teach people in general about the higher purpose of life.

शास्त्रेष्वियानेव सुनिश्चितो नृणां
क्षेमस्य सध्र्‌यग्विमृशेषु हेतु: ।
असङ्ग आत्मव्यतिरिक्त आत्मनि
द‍ृढा रतिर्ब्रह्मणि निर्गुणे च या ॥ २१ ॥

śāstreṣv iyān eva suniścito nṛṇāṁ
kṣemasya sadhryag-vimṛśeṣu hetuḥ
asaṅga ātma-vyatirikta ātmani
dṛḍhā ratir brahmaṇi nirguṇe ca yā

It has been conclusively decided in the scriptures, after due consideration, that the ultimate goal for the welfare of human society is detachment from the bodily concept of life and increased and steadfast attachment for the Supreme Lord, who is transcendental, beyond the modes of material nature.

https://vedabase.io/en/library/sb/4/22/21/

And this precisely is the thing that needs training! But we have no such training available to society at large.

Democracy, as a system, depends on the quality of the electors, the qualification of the voters. When a particular society gets bad government, then that means that the electors were at fault. Either the right candidates never ran for election, thinking it to be a fool’s errand, or the right candidates were not chosen.

’tis a folly to be wise where ignorance is bliss, goes the idiom!

Why is this?

Let us examine a pack of wolves, relatives of the dogs… who gets chosen as the Leader of the Pack? The most ferocious and qualified wolf of course, in some cases the winner has to fight for it.

So, if humans were just like dogs who would they choose? The biggest most qualified dog of course!

And why these 4 animals in particular?

Hogs:

Persons who have no discrimination in the matter of foodstuff and who eat all sorts of rubbish are compared to hogs. Hogs are very much attached to eating stools. So stool is a kind of foodstuff for a particular type of animal. And even stones are eatables for a particular type of animal or bird. But the human being is not meant for eating everything and anything; he is meant to eat grains, vegetables, fruits, milk, sugar, etc. Animal food is not meant for the human being. For chewing solid food, the human being has a particular type of teeth meant for cutting fruits and vegetables. The human being is endowed with two canine teeth as a concession for persons who will eat animal food at any cost. It is known to everyone that one man’s food is another man’s poison. Human beings are expected to accept the remnants of food offered to Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa, and the Lord accepts foodstuff from the categories of leaves, flowers, fruits, etc. (Bg. 9.26). As prescribed by Vedic scriptures, no animal food is offered to the Lord. Therefore, a human being is meant to eat a particular type of food. He should not imitate the animals to derive so-called vitamin values. Therefore, a person who has no discrimination in regard to eating is compared to a hog.

https://vedabase.io/en/library/sb/2/3/19/

Dogs:

Modern university education practically prepares one to acquire a doggish mentality with which to accept the service of a greater master. After finishing a so-called education, the so-called educated persons move like dogs from door to door with applications for some service, and mostly they are driven away, informed of no vacancy. As dogs are negligible animals and serve the master faithfully for bits of bread, a man serves a master faithfully without sufficient rewards.

https://vedabase.io/en/library/sb/2/3/19/

Camels:

The camel is a kind of animal that takes pleasure in eating thorns. A person who wants to enjoy family life or the worldly life of so-called enjoyment is compared to the camel. Materialistic life is full of thorns, and so one should live only by the prescribed method of Vedic regulations just to make the best use of a bad bargain. Life in the material world is maintained by sucking one’s own blood. The central point of attraction for material enjoyment is sex life. To enjoy sex life is to suck one’s own blood, and there is not much more to be explained in this connection. The camel also sucks its own blood while chewing thorny twigs. The thorns the camel eats cut the tongue of the camel, and so blood begins to flow within the camel’s mouth. The thorns, mixed with fresh blood, create a taste for the foolish camel, and so he enjoys the thorn-eating business with false pleasure. Similarly, the great business magnates, industrialists who work very hard to earn money by different ways and questionable means, eat the thorny results of their actions mixed with their own blood. Therefore the Bhāgavatam has situated these diseased fellows along with the camels.

https://vedabase.io/en/library/sb/2/3/19/

Asses:

The ass is an animal who is celebrated as the greatest fool, even amongst the animals. The ass works very hard and carries burdens of the maximum weight without making profit for itself. The ass is generally engaged by the washerman, whose social position is not very respectable. And the special qualification of the ass is that it is very much accustomed to being kicked by the opposite sex. When the ass begs for sexual intercourse, he is kicked by the fair sex, yet he still follows the female for such sexual pleasure. A henpecked man is compared, therefore, to the ass. The general mass of people work very hard, especially in the Age of Kali. In this age the human being is actually engaged in the work of an ass, carrying heavy burdens and driving ṭhelā and rickshaws. The so-called advancement of human civilization has engaged a human being in the work of an ass. The laborers in great factories and workshops are also engaged in such burdensome work, and after working hard during the day, the poor laborer has to be again kicked by the fair sex, not only for sex enjoyment but also for so many household affairs.

https://vedabase.io/en/library/sb/2/3/19/

What happens when these hogs, dogs, camels, and asses go to the elections?

Now take a look at our leaders, and decide if any of these men and women are actually above the level of hogs, dogs, camels, and asses.

Who is your democratic society ruled by?

Slaughtered in moments on the 401

Death can come at any moment. We experience death regularly, whether of a fish that just got caught, or a person who died in a car accident, or someone who had a heart attack. Animals, birds, fish and insects can’t do anything about their death. But as humans, how can we prepare for death? How can we transcend it altogether?

My current office is near the waterfront. Some days when I can take a walk along the waterfront, especially in summer, I see these birds diving into the water. They look like Cormorants, but I’m not a bird expert.

The birds dive into the water and surface after a little while. Sometimes, they have a writhing fish in their beaks, which they then promptly swallow.

Cormorant with a fish in it’s beak

The fish was probably happily swimming around enjoying its fish life, until, out of the blue comes death. Of course, the fish can’t really do much about this, when death comes, death comes.

One summer day a couple of years ago, early into the pandemic, we were driving west on what is one of the busiest highways in the world, the Ontario 401. Suddenly, my map instructed me to take the next exit and took me a detour, which I followed… as we re-entered the highway at another point, I saw some vehicles on the empty stretch of highway behind me, they were stopped, and covered with tarpaulins.

Later in the afternoon, on my way back, I saw the vehicles still at the same spot, still covered with tarps. Clearly it had been a bad collision.

I continued to follow the incident, and found out it was an incident involving three cars. One eastbound car, for some reason, lost control and hit another eastbound one in the fast lane, which caused this second car to jump the barrier and land in the westbound lane – resulting in a head-on collision with a westbound car travelling in the fast lane.

Three people lost their lives in that collision, and death was almost immediate. The first responders had no chance, and had to cut open the cars to extract the mortal remains. It was surely gruesome.

I read about the people, a man in his forties in one car, and a woman in her thirties and her father-in-law in his sixties in the other car. I cannot imagine any of them expected to lose their lives on the 401 that morning.

Do we think any meal could be our last meal?

I wondered how their mornings were… did they have their breakfast their morning and say bye to their loved ones? What did they go through during those fatal moments? Did they feel a lot of pain? Did they have family members who were grieving for them? Did they have unfinished business? Maybe an incomplete project?

Death can come at any moment. No ordinary soul can predict the exact moment of their death. And when death comes, everything that was so important until the moment before ceases to matter. It’s just like when I live in an apartment with noisy neighbours and then move to another apartment, the noise in my previous apartment ceases to matter. What happens after death?

Death can come at any moment

Some say that we are just a bunch of chemicals, and nothing more significant than a halt of the electrochemical reactions in the body. Or in other words, after death, there is nothingness. But that logic is faulty on so many levels, after all, a bottle of chemicals doesn’t care about itself and other bottles of chemicals don’t lament it’s loss.

The logic that some combination of material elements somehow develops consciousness is faulty, as I wrote about Descartes’ ignorance about consciousness. His “cogito ergo sum” (I think, therefore I am) should have been something like “sum ergo cogito” (I am, therefore I think).

Actually, the law of momentum applies to us all – just like my baby body is “dead”, my child body is gone too. I still have memories of when I was a baby or a child, even though every single cell of my body back then is dead, this means that I transcend my body, more about that in detail another time.

Beyond Birth and Death. I am not this body.

But anyways, while the fish cannot do anything about their death, us, as human beings, with our highly developed sense of consciousness, can. We can inquire into our true nature, we can inquire into the Supreme Absolute Truth, indeed, human life begins only when we reach that stage of inquiring beyond eating, sleeping, mating, and defending, or rise above the animal propensities.

This stage is called “athāto brahma-jijñāsā“.

The human form is meant for the understanding of Kṛṣṇa consciousness (athāto brahma-jijñāsā), for inquiring about the Supreme Brahman. In the human form, everyone has a chance to understand the Supreme Brahman. The so-called leaders of human society do not know the real aim of human life and are therefore busy with economic development. This is misleading. Every state and every society is busy trying to improve the quality of eating, sleeping, mating and defending. This human form of life is meant for more than these four animal principles. Eating, sleeping, mating and defending are problems found in the animal kingdom, and the animals have solved these problems without difficulty. Why should human society be so busy trying to solve these problems? The difficulty is that people are not educated to understand this simple philosophy. They think that advancement of civilization means increasing sense gratification.

https://vedabase.io/en/library/cc/madhya/19/159/ purport

In fact, accidental or not, death awaits everyone who has taken birth… so, if we are sure to die, then we can at least prepare for it. How?

आयुर्हरति वै पुंसामुद्यन्नस्तं च यन्नसौ ।
तस्यर्ते यत्क्षणो नीत उत्तमश्लोकवार्तया ॥ १७ ॥

āyur harati vai puṁsām
udyann astaṁ ca yann asau
tasyarte yat-kṣaṇo nīta
uttama-śloka-vārtayā

Both by rising and by setting, the sun decreases the duration of life of everyone, except one who utilizes the time by discussing topics of the all-good Personality of Godhead.

https://vedabase.io/en/library/sb/2/3/17/

The moment of death, in fact, is quite significant. We can reach any destination by adjusting our consciousness at the moment of death.

यं यं वापि स्मरन्भावं त्यजत्यन्ते कलेवरम् ।
तं तमेवैति कौन्तेय सदा तद्भ‍ावभावित: ॥ ६ ॥

yaṁ yaṁ vāpi smaran bhāvaṁ
tyajaty ante kalevaram
taṁ tam evaiti kaunteya
sadā tad-bhāva-bhāvitaḥ

Whatever state of being one remembers when he quits his body, O son of Kuntī, that state he will attain without fail.

https://vedabase.io/en/library/bg/8/6/

The moment of death is actually a great opportunity, a rare portal through which we can escape birth and death altogether!

अन्तकाले च मामेव स्मरन्मुक्त्वा कलेवरम् ।
य: प्रयाति स मद्भ‍ावं याति नास्त्यत्र संशय: ॥ ५ ॥

anta-kāle ca mām eva
smaran muktvā kalevaram
yaḥ prayāti sa mad-bhāvaṁ
yāti nāsty atra saṁśayaḥ

And whoever, at the end of his life, quits his body remembering Me alone at once attains My nature. Of this there is no doubt.

https://vedabase.io/en/library/bg/8/5/

If I were to live every moment thinking that it could be my last, then certain longer-term things could not reasonably be done, but on the other hand if I don’t think about death then it will surely take me by surprise.

So how to live? My spiritual master gave me the perfect instruction in this regard.

My spiritual master
His Grace Sriman Sankarshan Das Adhikari

He said, live as if you could die in the next 80 seconds or live for the next 80 years. And his life is a living proof of his instructions, so I choose to follow in his footsteps.

I remind myself that this life of mine can end at any moment, but I work diligently in Krishna Consciousness as if I have another 80 years to go.

Would you like to learn how? Drop me a line!

The Profession of Confession and Atonement

In many religious traditions, there is the concept of confessing and atoning for sins. But why do people keep sinning and keep confessing, keep atoning? What is the use of such confession and atonement? What can be done to completely get out of this nasty habit of committing sinful activities?

Some souls accept the authority of God in theory, but not in practice. In the article “Love of God, The Ultimate Variety“, I wrote about fear vs. love… who fears God? One who does not properly follow the instructions of God must necessarily fear God. Just like ordinary citizens are not afraid of the police, but the thief is.

The idea is that just as there is the state law, there is also God’s law. And just as someone who flouts the state law becomes a criminal or an outlaw, similarly, one who flouts God’s law also faces reactions. And depending on the severity of the crime, the reactions can be rather heavy.

In some traditions, practically all religious traditions, there is the idea of “atonement” or in Sanskrit “praayaschitta”. This has been formalized in so many different ways, for example, Christians often go to Church and then confess their sins to the priest. The priest says “OK, repent by doing this and this”, or maybe a Hindu might go to the temple and the priest might tell her “give this and that charity to such-and-such to atone for this sin”.

The atonement is supposed to release the soul of the sinful reaction for a much lower “cost”…

Confession, useful, but is it enough?

But even with or without atonement, though there is hellish punishment that purifies the sinner of the sinful reactions, the soul commits sin again, after all the purification! Why is this?

Do you know what the problem is?

क्‍वचिन्निवर्ततेऽभद्रात्‍क्‍वचिच्चरति तत्पुन: ।
प्रायश्चित्तमथोऽपार्थं मन्ये कुञ्जरशौचवत् ॥ १० ॥

kvacin nivartate ’bhadrāt
kvacic carati tat punaḥ
prāyaścittam atho ’pārthaṁ
manye kuñjara-śaucavat

Sometimes one who is very alert so as not to commit sinful acts is victimized by sinful life again. I therefore consider this process of repeated sinning and atoning to be useless. It is like the bathing of an elephant, for an elephant cleanses itself by taking a full bath, but then throws dust over its head and body as soon as it returns to the land.

https://vedabase.io/en/library/sb/6/1/10/
An elephant bathes in the water

Let’s examine the elephant… the elephant goes to the river and takes a bath in the river. Then the elephant comes out and pours dirt, sand and dust on itself after it comes out. Now, the wildlife experts may say why the elephant is doing that, how it protects its skin etc., but let’s just keep to the spirit of the example here.

An elephant dusts itself with mud

If we treat a confession or atonement as a bath, then why is it that people perform the required atonement and then sin again? Why do you need to take a bath again and again? Because you got dirty again after the last bath!

In the material world, dirt is unavoidable, our very bodies are quite dirty, and need to be cleansed again and again. But what about the spirit soul? Is the spirit soul not clean originally?

Hindus bathe in the Ganga to atone for their sins

Is it a good thing to become a professional at confession and atonement? There is no doubt that God is infinitely merciful… and can forgive unlimitedly. Does anyone think that God is such a fool as to accept repeated confessions of a professional sinner without giving the proper reactions to maintain fairness? God is also unlimitedly wise!

In the Srimad Bhagavatam, the highly intelligent Maharaja Parikshit and Shukadeva Goswami had this wonderful conversation on this topic. To this question, the answer given was:

Śukadeva Gosvāmī, the son of Vedavyāsa, answered: My dear King, since acts meant to neutralize impious actions are also fruitive, they will not release one from the tendency to act fruitively. Persons who subject themselves to the rules and regulations of atonement are not at all intelligent. Indeed, they are in the mode of darkness. Unless one is freed from the mode of ignorance, trying to counteract one action through another is useless because this will not uproot one’s desires. Thus even though one may superficially seem pious, he will undoubtedly be prone to act impiously. Therefore real atonement is enlightenment in perfect knowledge, Vedānta, by which one understands the Supreme Absolute Truth.

https://vedabase.io/en/library/sb/6/1/11/

But knowledge enough is not sufficient, one must act on that knowledge, Shukadeva Goswami continues…

My dear King, if a diseased person eats the pure, uncontaminated food prescribed by a physician, he is gradually cured, and the infection of disease can no longer touch him. Similarly, if one follows the regulative principles of knowledge, he gradually progresses toward liberation from material contamination.

https://vedabase.io/en/library/sb/6/1/12/

One should go beyond the lifestyle that produces sinful desires…

तपसा ब्रह्मचर्येण शमेन च दमेन च ।
त्यागेन सत्यशौचाभ्यां यमेन नियमेन वा ॥ १३ ॥
देहवाग्बुद्धिजं धीरा धर्मज्ञा: श्रद्धयान्विता: ।
क्षिपन्त्यघं महदपि वेणुगुल्ममिवानल: ॥ १४ ॥

tapasā brahmacaryeṇa
śamena ca damena ca
tyāgena satya-śaucābhyāṁ
yamena niyamena vā

deha-vāg-buddhijaṁ dhīrā
dharmajñāḥ śraddhayānvitāḥ
kṣipanty aghaṁ mahad api
veṇu-gulmam ivānalaḥ

To concentrate the mind, one must observe a life of celibacy and not fall down. One must undergo the austerity of voluntarily giving up sense enjoyment. One must then control the mind and senses, give charity, be truthful, clean and nonviolent, follow the regulative principles and regularly chant the holy name of the Lord. Thus a sober and faithful person who knows the religious principles is temporarily purified of all sins performed with his body, words and mind. These sins are like the dried leaves of creepers beneath a bamboo tree, which may be burned by fire although their roots remain to grow again at the first opportunity.

https://vedabase.io/en/library/sb/6/1/13-14/

It is commonly seen that even priests, supposed to be God’s representatives, sin, what to speak of the lay person! This means that even though one may lead a very closely regulated lifestyle, the desire to sin can still remain hidden as a root within the heart. So what is the ultimate solution?

केचित्केवलया भक्त्या वासुदेवपरायणा: ।
अघं धुन्वन्ति कार्त्स्‍न्येन नीहारमिव भास्कर: ॥ १५ ॥

kecit kevalayā bhaktyā
vāsudeva-parāyaṇāḥ
aghaṁ dhunvanti kārtsnyena
nīhāram iva bhāskaraḥ

Only a rare person who has adopted complete, unalloyed devotional service to Kṛṣṇa can uproot the weeds of sinful actions with no possibility that they will revive. He can do this simply by discharging devotional service, just as the sun can immediately dissipate fog by its rays.

https://vedabase.io/en/library/sb/6/1/15/

So therefore, it is impossible to be completely pure without being a pure devotee of God. Without being a pure lover of God, one cannot escape this sin. In fact, when one is rendering devotional service, at that time it is impossible to sin, because where is the time and the energy to perform sinful actions?

So therefore, instead of sinning and confessing, sinning and confessing, sinning and atoning, sinning and atoning, one should seek to develop pure uncontaminated Love of God in a practical way, which is the only way to be free of the desire and tendency to sin.

My spiritual master says it best “it’s hard to hit a moving target, so keep moving for Krishna, if you give illusion an inch, you will lose your life!”

A bridge to the Moon

With all this talk of going to Mars and the Moon, did you ever pause to think that this has been tried before? There is a way to go to other planets but is this it? But anyways, why go here and there when it is all necessarily temporary?

At least 2.1 Million Years ago, there was a very powerful personality named Ravana. He was the king of a Golden Kingdom called Lanka. He was a very learned scholar, practically unbeatable in battle, and had practically conquered the entire Universe. You can say he was the greatest atheist of his time too.

Ravana

He really wanted to change things up – among other things, he wished to construct a bridge from Lanka to the Moon. He was technically capable of accomplishing this, seeing that he was undefeated in the Universe.

The Moon

The Moon is a Heavenly Realm, where the residents enjoy a very long duration of life, very strong, attractive bodies, with all manners of facilities for sense gratification, all powered by a beverage called “Soma Rasa” – literally, the nectar available on the Moon.

Chandra Deva, King of the Heavenly Realm of the Moon Planet

Naturally, everyone wants to go to a beautiful place where a lot of sense gratification is available. The hordes of humans going to various places for tourism is the proof of this. Mostly, people go on vacation for a weekend, a week, maybe a month or two, and yet others manage to stay on vacation for a long time, according to how much wealth and health someone possesses.

A vacation spot is not without its perils

In order to gain health and wealth, one must try very hard, and many are unsuccessful. Quite often, the healthy are not wealthy, and the wealthy are far from healthy. So, their capacity for sense gratification is limited. Most people who are on vacation don’t want the vacation to end. They want it to last as long as possible.

If someone is able to go on an unearned vacation, that is seen as a great stroke of good luck. If a politician was to promise his people unlimited free vacations, he would stay in power for ever, and the people would remain grateful to such a leader for ever!

Student slogging away

But to go to the Moon planet requires tremendous merits, which can be obtained by performing various severe austerities and penances, quite painful, and most cannot make it. Great practitioners of the process of material elevation, called “karma kanda” strive for many, many lifetimes to enter the heavenly realm of the moon. But one cannot go to the heavenly realm in these earthly bodies, just like an astronaut puts on a space suit to go into space and a diver puts on a diving suit to go under water, similarly, the heavenly realm requires a heavenly body.

The kundalini yogi can choose the moment of his departure

Not everyone can afford an astronaut suit or a diving suit, or the training needed to perform those activities, or the means of transport needed!

Astronaut wearing a special suit

This is generally true… to become a great rich businessman, to become a rich professional like a doctor or software engineer, stock broker or real estate tycoon, one must work very hard. What to speak of those things, if one wants to get a mere University degree, one has to slog for a good 20+ years through school and University. And even then a degree is not guaranteed, after all, so many students fall by the wayside without earning a University degree.

Stock Brokers struggling to earn a livelihood

So naturally, Ravana was a very popular king, he promised the Ultimate heavenly luxury just for the mere price of climbing a staircase!

But Ravana didn’t make it. In fact, he bit the dust at the hands of Lord Rama – God who appeared as the Ideal King. And needless to say, the staircase never materialized.

So, these days, it is all the rage to want to go and live in space, on the Moon, or maybe Mars. Fools are claiming to take anyone who wants to go anyplace in our Universe in due course of time. But they too will bite the dust, just like the mighty Ravana. And it’s not only Ravana, but unfortunately, a large number of his followers were also slain in the battle outside Lanka.

In fact, compared to the Original Ravana, these little ravanas like Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and Richard Branson are not even as significant as bacteria. They are rich on imaginary wealth, somehow everyone is accepting their billions of dollars of fake money as real. Every single day, just by rising and setting, the sun is eroding their lifetimes. They are already old men, and will sooner or later succumb to inevitable death.

The intelligent person should ask the right questions…

  1. What about this planet? What about getting along with each other here without trying to kill each other? What about respect for all of us, all races, all species, all species? What problems are we trying to solve running away from this planet and this life here and now?
  2. No matter how amazing a place might be on this planet, no matter how beautiful, how relaxing, or how exciting, has it’s own share of problems. Every “tropical paradise” has it’s share of birth, death, old age, and disease, not to mention mosquitoes, crime, violence, exploitation, and corruption!
  3. If I live in a poor country, say a place like Burundi or Somalia, say I want to go to a rich country like the United States of America or Germany… can I go there without a passport, a visa, and a plane ticket? Can everyone in the world go to any place on the planet today? So, why can someone travel to other planets without acquiring the necessary qualifications?
  4. Those of us who have the experience of being on holiday, does the holiday last for ever? Is it not that once the money is finished, one has to get back home and resume work? So, even if someone was able to go to some heavenly realm, would it not be temporary? Should we not look for a permanent solution to the problems of the world?

आब्रह्मभुवनाल्ल‍ोका: पुनरावर्तिनोऽर्जुन ।
मामुपेत्य तु कौन्तेय पुनर्जन्म न विद्यते ॥ १६ ॥

ā-brahma-bhuvanāl lokāḥ
punar āvartino ’rjuna
mām upetya tu kaunteya
punar janma na vidyate

From the highest planet in the material world down to the lowest, all are places of misery wherein repeated birth and death take place. But one who attains to My abode, O son of Kuntī, never takes birth again.

https://vedabase.io/en/library/bg/8/16/

While the Moon is a heavenly realm, Mars is actually an inauspicious planet, why should anyone go there!

NASA, little Ravanas

So therefore, instead of being in the Ravana camp by being a fan of NASA or Musk or the like, or placing any faith in them, we should instead go beyond their bluffs and reach a higher level of consciousness, Krishna Consciousness. Instead of going here and there, we should strive to go back home, or be right at home in our eternal spiritual identities, regardless of where we may be placed.

We are spiritual beings at our core, we all are. We’re having this material experience, and striving to get the material experience that will truly satisfy us. But no material experience can make us truly happy just as a fish out of water will never be happy.

Easy Journey to Other Planets

If you want to read this book “Easy Journey to Other Planets” by A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, click here. If you would like a paper copy, or send a copy to the little Ravanas, let me know!

Questions? Would you like to reach out to me?

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