On Changing My Dīkṣā

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Foremost, I want to make it clear that I am not “against” ISKCON. I do not believe that  ISKCON is “bogus.” Nor do I feel that its leaders are without significant merit. Nor do I think that its members cannot attain Krishna-prema. Most certainly, I don’t at all believe that ISKCON’s founder, A.C. Bhaktivedānta Swāmī Prabhupāda, is any less than a unparalleled empowered exponent of Śrī Krishna Caitanya Mahāprabhu.

I am sincerely grateful for the role Śrīla Prabhupāda, ISKCON, and its leaders and members have played in my life. There are, in fact, a considerable number of people in ISKCON whom I continue to hold in the highest regard. Foremost among them in particular is the 24-hour Kīrtan Sevaka, Aindra dāsa.

However, since the very beginning of my involvement with ISKCON, I have found myself either rationalizing, defending, dreading, or trying in vain to correct several ISKCON issues — from blatant and severe sexism, child abuse, censorship, and irrationality (justified by immature and incomplete ideas of “Vedic culture”) to stubborn misconceptions of the sambandha, abhideya, and prayojana of Gauḍīya Vedānta.

For my first 9 years, I dedicated myself mainly to rationalization and defense of these flaws. In the next 9 years I mostly turned away in dread of it all. In the third 9 years I tried (mostly in vain) to correct and improve things in whatever capacity I could. Over much of these last 9 years the guidance from my ISKCON guru gradually faded and was replaced by increasingly satisfying guidance from a source that I found to be more traditional yet more open, inclusive, and vastly more intellectual and śāstric: Satyanārāyan dāsa Bābājī of the JIVA Institute in Vṛndāvana.

Upon mutually agreeing to dissolve the guru-disciple relationship, it soon felt natural and organic to establish dīkṣā with this source

I hope that my friends and associates in ISKCON will not be unduly distanced or threatened by this. Again, I have nothing against ISKCON and wish nothing but the best for it and for its individual members. I look forward to participating in the brighter side of ISKCON whenever it would still welcome, tolerate, or even just overlook my presence.

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Śāstra on Changing Dīkṣā

In Bhakti Sandarbha Jīva Goswāmī explains that there are circumstances in which a guru-can be rejected. He quotes Nārada Pañcarātra: “He who gives irrational guidance, and he who follows that guidance, both attain a horrible destination.”

He also refers to Mahābhārata: “We should even reject a guru who proudly cannot explain the difference between right and wrong, or embarks on the wrong path.”

He also refers to Nārada Pañcaratra, “The guidance and mantras of a non-Vaiṣṇava lead one to hell. One should reject these and accept them from a Vaiṣṇava.”

In Jaiva Dharma Śrī Bhaktivinode explains that these references delineate two different reasons for changing one’s guru:

  1. If the guru opposes Vaiṣṇava philosophy and practice. (“The guidance and mantras of a non-vaiṣṇava lead one to hell. One should reject these and accept them from a vaiṣṇava.” ) 
  2. If, as Bhaktivinode says,“The disciple may have prematurely accepted the guru without having carefully examined him. Later he will realize that his endeavors are not bearing their expected fruits, so he may reject that guru.” (This is established by, “He who gives irrational guidance, and he who follows that guidance, both attain a horrible destination.”)

The Mahābhārata quote references both reasons: (1) the guru having improper behavior (“embarking on the wrong path”) and (2) the guru giving improper guidance (“cannot explain the difference between right and wrong.”) These are compounded by “pride,” which means the guru doesn’t respond to attempts at correction.

Hari Bhakti Vilāsa also explains that a guru can be rejected under some circumstances. If the guru is found to be or become unqualified, for example. Many qualifications of a guru are given, but the key to all of them is being thoroughly conversant in all śāstra and being able to answer all questions in reference to these śāstra. If a guru falls short in this department, the disciple has legitimate grounds to consider that he does not in fact have a guru, and therefore may seek another guru.

These are causes for rejection of the guru. If the guru is fit to be rejected as per the above criterion, there is no need for the disciple to seek his or her permission or agreement. However, there can be other situations in which a guru-disciple dīkṣā dissolves, when the guru and disciple mutually agree that it is the best way forward. I dissolved my relationship with my ISKCON guru by mutual consentThus I describe it as “dissolving the relationship” rather than “rejecting a guru.”

Why we agreed that dissolving the relationship was the best way forward for me is mostly private, but I have hinted at the reasons in the original statement, above. The crux of it all is that I do not have faith that ISKCON and its gurus are primarily based upon śāstra. Rather I think they are primarily based upon their own comprehension of their founding-guru, Srila Prabhupada.

My ISKCON guru, in fact, should be praised for being able to see and agree that this was  best for my spiritual development, as a true devotee puts the wellbeing of others ahead of all other considerations.

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Why Announce It?

This is an immensely significant part of my life, which I would certainly want my friends and the people I interact with to know about.

“But these things are private and personal, and announcing your departure from a guru and institution insinuates insult towards that guru and institution.”

I am a public person, and people would soon learn of it anyway. Would it have been better if I was secretive about it? Then I would have to answer a different complaint, “Why are you so devious and deceptive?” I thought it would be better to openly tell everyone, but do it in a way that does not disclose too many personal details and tries to avoid insult by expressing my appreciation and respect for ISKCON and my previous guru there.

I understand that many of you may want more details than I am giving. I’m sorry, THAT is the private part. Out of respect for my former guru I am not going to publicly discuss details of what created the conditions that caused me to request him to end the relationship.

Vraja Kishor

www.vrajakishor.com

The Seven Female Qualities

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The 7 female qualities Krishna mentions in Gītā 10.34 are:

1. Sri – Beauty
2. Kiriti – Celebrate-ability
3. Vak – Speech
4. Smrti – Thoughtfulness
5. Medha – Intelligence
6. Dhrti – patience
7. Ksama – forgiveness

Śrī – Beauty / Ornamentation

Everyone can see that women are more beautiful then men. Everyone can also see that they are much more ornament-able, and much more expert in ornamentation.

Men are also “attractive,” but male attractiveness doesn’t come so much from beauty as it comes from male qualities like strength, power, stability, reliability, bravery, etc.

Kīriti – Celebrate-ability / Fame

Everyone knows how easy it is to be carried away by thinking about, looking at, talking about and celebrating a woman. Even women spend most of their time thinking about and celebrating other women. This is why, for example, women are on the covers of most men’s magazines, and on the covers of most women’s magazines, too.

Vāk – Speech

Speech is the vehicle which expresses thought. This is why the god Brahmā (lit. “knowledge”) is so attracted to the goddess Vāk / Sarasvatī (lit. “speech”). Everyone can easily notice that women use words much more often and with much more finesse than men.

Smṛti – Memory / Thoughtfulness

Everyone can easily see that women remember details better than men – birthdays, etc. Another aspect of smṛti means not forgetting what is right and wrong. It is easy to see that women are much less dangerous and well-behaved then man. Criminals are primarily male. Another aspect of smṛti means being thoughtful of others.

Medhā – Intellect / Prudence

There are different types of intelligence. One is “wisdom” or “prudence.” Everyone can easily notice that women are far lass rowdy than men, and are less inclined to take risks. Another type of intellect is the ability to communicate: this was already covered by the concept of vāk (the ability to use words).

Men also have a type of intellect they excel in: decision making and giving commands. Thus we can all easily notice in society that women reflect more about things, contemplate and discuss more deeply – while men come to conclusions more easily and take more decisive actions on those conclusions.

Some people have difficulty accepting that this is the Vedic outlook about female intelligence. They should please refer to this article: According to the Veda, Are Women Less Intelligent than Men?

Dhṛti – Patience / Forbearance

Women have the forbearance to hold a child within their womb for nine months and then push it out into the world through an opening that is remarkably small for such a task. They also have the forbearance to deal with the needy (like children and husbands who don’t have patience to put their dirty socks in the right laundry bin, what to speak of doing laundry themselves).

Kṣamā – Forgiveness

Everyone can easily see that the vast majority of violence in the world is carried out by men. Women prefer to forgive and find ways to cooperate.

Does Every Woman Excel in These Seven? Does Every Man Lack Them?

No.

But nonetheless these seven are seen on average more prominently in women – and this is why Krishna says “I am the beauty, fame, speech, thoughtfulness, intellect, forbearance, and forgiveness of women.”

The physical body is a result of the mental body. We get female physical bodies as a result of having  primarily feminine qualities in our mental makeup. Visa versa for men. Not every woman is equally feminine. Not every man is equally masculine. Some people are in a borderline zone between the two and experience that their physical gender doesn’t perfectly match their mental self, or sometimes physically display both genders. But on average women definitely have more female qualities than men, and visa versa. That is why, on average, we find the seven excellent qualities mentioned here most naturally and fully manifest among women. And it is also why the divinities personifying these qualities are all goddesses, not gods.

Vraja Kishor das

www.VrajaKishor.com

Important Questions About Gurus

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Q: You mentioned in your video, diksha refers to getting the mantra and shiksa refers to getting instructions on how to chant it…

Dīkṣā means acceptance into the educational process (aka “sādhana”) of a given school. This acceptance is accomplished by giving the student the school’s study materials (mantra and śāstra)

Q: We already got the mantra from some devotee, we may not even remember whom. Would a formal initiation ceremony benefit us?

Hearing a mantra from someone on the sidewalk is a haphazard dīkṣā at best. Real dīkṣā should be intentional. The person giving it should be recognized by the school as worthy of evaluating whether a candidate is worthy of being inducted into the school. And the induction should be done deliberately.

Just hearing a mantra doesn’t mean I am inducted into the school that uses the mantra. Induction into a school involves being given their mantras, but simply hearing their mantras doesn’t mean you have been inducted into their school.

Q: Siksha guru plays more significant role than diksha guru?

Dīkṣā is the beginning of śīkṣā. The aren’t two different things, and generally its best if the dīkṣā guru is also the primary śīkṣā guru.

But if for some reason the primary śikṣā guru is different from the dīkṣā guru, then yes, the śīkṣā guru is practically more important – for dīkṣā is the beginning of śīkṣāśīkṣā is the main process, dīkṣā is the beginning (“initiation”) of it.

Q: In the current scenario, the siksha gurus who guide us daily are mostly not authorized by the ISKCON institution to give diksha. In this case, should one aspire to receive dīkṣā initiation from the diksha guru of one’s siksha guru, based on the assumption that since his siksha guru is so great, the diksha guru must be great as well – because a deer cannot give birth to a lion?

If you feel that a person represents a school very authentically and deeply, and want to be joined to the school via that person – but that school (or a branch of it in this case)  does not agree that the person is worthy – you will have to figure out who is wrong: you or the branch of the school. Either your opinion of that person is wrong, or your opinion of the value of that school-branch is wrong. If you decide that the branch is wrong, then leave the branch. If you decide the person is wrong, leave the person. If the person will not induct / “initiate” you, then ask that person what to do (after all, you are their student).

Q: The diksha gurus authorized by ISKCON are often too busy having thousands of disciples, and may not have time to talk to his disciples directly. Most of the instruction comes through others, the councillors or siksha gurus. In such a situation, how will the formalities of initiation help a practicing devotee?

If the dīkṣā guru is authorized by an empowered branch of the school to accept you as a member of the school, then you are accepted. If that dīkṣā guru is too busy to instruct you carefully he or she would assign you to an appropriate śīkṣā guru, and would not interfere with the instruction you receive there, knowing his practical limitations. If he or she does not entrust you into the care of a śikṣā guru then the dīkṣā guru is not sincere, for they do not truly desire to benefit the disciple.

Such people should be corrected, and if that is impossible, they should be renounced.

Q: Can one person have more than one guru?

An individual should accept one school, or at least one at a time. It generally difficult to attend two schools simultaneously. Therefore there should be need for only one successful dīkṣā (per school, at least) So, basically, there should only be one dīkṣā guru per disciple. But everyone in the universe and everything should become our śikṣā guru. We should have multiple śīkṣā gurus, infinite śikṣā gurus, but there should be order and priority amongst them. The dīkṣā guru would ideally be the śīkṣā guru of highest order and priority. Others further along in our own school are other high-priority śīkṣā gurus. Others from other schools, or just random people and animals are also śīkṣā gurus, but their teachings are understood in context of the teachings of the higher-priority śikṣā gurus.

Śrī Krishna Dās Kavirāja therefore says, “vande ‘haṁ śrī guroḥ, śrī guruṁ vaiṣṇavamś ca” which means “Obeisance to my guru (singular, dīkṣā guru), and also to my gurus (plural, śikṣā gurus), especially the Vaiṣṇavas (the highest-priority śikṣā gurus).

Vraja Kishor

www.vrajakishor.com

Exaggerations and Impossible Glorifications?

Q: How do we understand the quotes that many of our acaryas pull from the various Puranas about the glories of the dhama?

First you have to accept and understand that there are a few different types of statements in śāstra. Some of them are literal information. Others are analogs / analogies. Others are motivational. Others are told through fiction. You have to check the context of the statement to know whether it is a part of a literal, figurative, motivational, or fictional (etc) conversation.

Knowing this, you should be able to make sense of what you’ve quoted below. 

Motivational statements are not “incorrect” nor are they “exaggerations” they are simply motivational and phrased in a way that highlights our ability to actually achieve a goal.

Q: To quote a few examples that I’ve seen in Sri-Rupa’s Mathura-Mahatmya: 

“The bliss at the stage of prema, which is rarely obtained even by serving all the holy places in the 3 worlds, is available just by touching Mathura.” – (quoted in BRS 1.2.212). 

How is this so? Many people touch Mathura, but how many got prema in doing so? Also, I thought that prema could only be acheived by mercy or sadhana? Is this one way it is achieved by mercy? Simply by touching the dhama?

You say that many people touch Mathura. This is similar to saying that many people chant “Hare Krishna.” The truth however, is that practically no one truly chants “Hare Krishna” and practically known even knows what Mathurā is, what to speak of actually touching it.

It requires Sādhana to be able to touch Mathurā. Otherwise we only contact dhāma-abhāsa, or aparādhā-dhāma.

But the statement highlights the fact that even touching the abhāsa of the dhāma will strongly incline one to sādhana, which will then eventually allow one to touch the śuddha-dhāma, and thereby gain these results.

Q:

“One who, going to Mathura only on business, and takes a bath there becomes free from all sins and goes to the spiritual world.” – (quoted in Mathura-mahatmya verse 11) 

Is this and many other quotes like it, to entice those materialistic persons in search of dissolving sins to reside in Mathura, so that they may make further advancement in devotion to the Lord?

No, it means that even if you don’t go there for a non-spiritual reason you get a spiritual result. It is phrased to make it seem like the result is immediate and effortless. In truth the result is that you become inclined towards bhakti-sādhana, and through that attain the results mentioned. So it is not an exaggeration, but it is phrased in a way to make us want to go to Mathurā. It is motivational.

Q:

“Mathura, where Lord Hari stayed, and where no sin can enter, is supremely opulent” – (quoted in MM verse 72) 

Why does it state that no sins enter Mathura, if there is a section previous to this titled, “Mathura Removes the Sins Performed There” (verses 23-28)? Plus, sinful people appear to be in Mathura now, as well as in the past. Is their a difference in the Mathura spoken of in this statement, as opposed to that other section?

No impurity exists in the śuddha-dhāma Mathurā. Contact with the abhāsa-dhāma inclines one to behavior which removes impurity and thereby reveals the śuddha-dhāma.

Q:

“The deaf, dumb, blind, foolish, and they who have no austerity or sense-control, who in the course of time die in Mathura, go to Lord Visnu’s palace.” (quoted in the Mathura-mahatmya verse 100) 

What if we don’t want to go to Visnuloka, or go to the Vaikuntha planets and attain a four-armed form (verse 103)? Are we forced to go anyways, if we don’t have an intensified specific attraction to be like one of the inhabitants of Vraja?

Vraja is also a Vaikuṇṭha. It is the supreme Vaikuṇṭha.

By contact with Mathurā we become inclined to develop specific attachment to Krishna, practice Rāga-sādhana, and attain the supreme Vaikuṇṭha.

Q: what is the difference between Goloka and Gokula?

Sometimes the word Goloka can specifically mean the eternal Goloka in Vaikuntha and Gokula can be used to refer to the manifestation on earth. But this is just conventional meaning. In essence the terms are identical (as are the “eternal” and “earthly” Goloka).

Q: How should we exist at the dhama? How to prepare for that existence? 

Saturate yourself in Krishna-nāma. Remain dressed always in it. Then you can enter the dhāma. The nāma should be supported by discussion of Krishna’s form, qualities and pastimes. Drench yourself in that. Then you can touch the dhāma, or hope to.

Vraja Kishor (www.vrajakishor.com)

Men are Pathetic. Women are Wicked. And Rādhā Krishna…?

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Śrīmad Bhāgavatam (SB 10.30.34) says, in the context of romance, that men are pathetic (dainya) and women are wicked (durātmā). Even more surprisingly, it says that Krishna and Rādhā display (darśayan) the same traits! This is a difficult statement to understand, but is extremely profound. First lets understand  why men are “pathetic” and women “wicked misers.” Then let’s ask why Rādhā and Krishna would actually like that dynamic and display it themselves.

Men are Pathetic

In romance, men are pathetic because they are so hungry for what the woman possesses. It makes them extremely weak and manipulable, and makes them do humiliating, “pathetic” things in the attempt to convince a woman that she should give him what he so desperately wants.

Women are Wicked

In romance, women are “wicked” (“miserly” – not magnanimous or compassionate) because although they posses everything the man needs to end his pathetic condition, they withhold it and refuse him. In fact they taunt the man to want it even more, but keep it out of his reach and make him belittle himself for even the smallest morsels of what he seeks.

And the Supreme Man and Woman…?

Now let’s ask the more baffling question: Why would Rādhā and Krishna themselves enjoy this male/female dynamic.

The verse itself explains (with words like ātma-rata, and ātmarāma) the key distinction between the actions (karma) of self-ignorant entities and the play (līlā) of pure consciousness: Ignorant entities act out of need. Perfect consciousness, on the other hand, acts out of joy. Ignorant men and women do what they do because they are empty inside and believe they can fill that emptiness by acquiring better things and better situations. They dedicate their unique strengths only to achieving this goal.

The male strength is muscle and ambition, with which he boldly contests with others to win the objects he desires. How pathetic indeed that he is conquered by delicate creatures with no muscle at all!

The female strength is beauty and subtlety. With these she can control even the male muscle and thus be the superior gender (with not only her beauty and wit, but also the male muscle and ambition working for her interests).

In the realm of pure consciousness, however, neither masculinity nor femininity has any emptiness, or need to fill. There is only joy to express.

The joy (hlādinī) of the Absolute Consciousness (advaya-jñāna) exists in the form of the most desirable and enchanting woman, the Supreme Woman, Śrī Rādhā. Krishna expresses and experiences his own joy by celebrating and experiencing her. To celebrate her, he manifests the “pathetic” male dynamic by humbling himself before her and begging for her compassion to quench his “burning lusts.” Rādhā in turn, does not easily give Krishna what he wants. She withholds compassion for Krishna’s desires, and thus displays the quality of “wickedness” and “miserliness.” Why does she do this? Because things which come easy and cheaply are not valued as dearly as things that require great effort and high price. Rādhā increases Krishna’s appetite for the joy that she embodies by withholding it in just the right measure. She gives just enough, then taks away, leads on, smiles, but then frowns, looks at him, but then looks away, teasing, taunting, heightening his appreciation for her. Breadcrumb by breadcrumb.

This “miserliness” is an expression of her joyful devotion. Those who do not know much about the art of romance may not get it, but those who have some grasp of the art form understand this truth right away. It is her joy to increase Krishna’s appetite, and thus increase and extend his eventual enjoyment of the “meal”!

Everyday romance has the same shape as Rādhā and Krishna’s romance, because everyday romance is a product of the same “stuff” that Rādhā and Krishna’s romance is a product of: consciousness. Everyday romance, however, is a product of consciousness in ignorance, while Rādhā and Krishna’s romance is a product of consciousness in perfect joy (brahma-nirvāna). Therefore everyday romance is literally a contest between the pathetic and the wicked. Rādhā and Krishna’s romance, however, is an ever-expanding, ever-intensifying expression of divine joy, which utilizes the vehicles of begging and witholding as the means to effect that ever intensifying expansion.

– Vraja Kishor

www.vrajakishor.com

Is Aparādhā Bhajan Better Than No Bhajan at All?

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If I let myself think, “Aparādhā-bhajan is better than no bhajan at all,” then I probably won’t stop this aparādhā bhajan for a long time to come. 

Bhajan with aparādhā is  worse than no bhajan at all.

Bhajan with aparādhā is  worse than no bhajan at all. Just as having a negative experience with a person is worse than having no experience with them at all. But the solution is not to stop the bhajan. The solution is to stop the aparādhā.

Bhajan with mistakes and failures is certainly better than no bhajan at all.

First, let me reiterate what aparādhā actually is. It is not a mistake or a failure. Mistakes or failures in our bhajan are natural and inevitable because we are complete beginners. Bhajan with mistakes and failures is certainly better than no bhajan at all. It is by doing sincere bhajan with mistakes and failures that we gradually overcome the mistakes and failures – just as practicing a musical instrument gradually gets rid of our mistakes in playing it.

Love expresses itself in celebration (kīrtan) and adoration (bhajan). Hate expresses itself in slander and criticism (ninda). 

Aparādhā-bhajan is something else.

What is aparādhā?

Aparādhā literally means Anti (apa-) love (rādhā). What is “antilove” – it is “hate.”

So, you see, aparādhā means to intentionally choose do do the opposite of love. Love expresses itself in celebration (kīrtan) and adoration (bhajan). Hate expresses itself in slander and criticism (ninda). 

Not all criticism is hateful, but all hate maifests in criticism (ninda). Therefore we have to be very careful of ninda. We don’t have licence to criticize anyone — unless we have some practical reason to expose a flaw for the sake of benefiting those adversely affected by it. Even then, we should measure our pulse. It is so easy for beginners like us to think we are expressing “constructive criticism” when in fact we are just venting anger as a result of frustration and hatred.

We have to dilligently curb our habbit of inflating our own stature by deflating the stature of others.

Unfortunately we constantly saturate ourselves in ninda. It is even a socially accepted part of many āśrama cultures! Often I have heard entire lectures supposedly about Bhāgavatam or Krishna which in truth were nothing but fourty-five minutes of nonstop ninda – full of criticism of “karmis” and making fun of “māyāvādīs” and “christians” and so on. [Pointing this out is not a ninda, but part of the effort to rid myself of ninda and its sources].

It is almost a requirement for joining one āśrama that you must criticize every other āśrama on the marg. This is why many of us feel we are better off not “joining” any āśrama at all.

We have to dilligently curb our habbit of inflating our own stature by deflating the stature of others. Yes its very tiring and difficult to do this, but we will never really get anywhere  in bhakti-yoga until we make this effort, and make it fully. We must avoid criticizing people – any people. Especially we have to avoid expressing hatred for people who love the same person we are supposed to love, Krishna! This includes other beginners as well, as bungling and annoying and dumb as we all are. There is so much criticism of sādhus who are on even minutely different paths than we are. It is almost a requirement for joining one āśrama that you must criticize every other āśrama on the marg. It is so awful and so detrimental to bhajan. This is why there are no shining, self-effulgent ācāryas. This is why we all remain such dunderheads and dullards. And this is why many of us feel we are better off not “joining” any āśrama at all.

People who love Krishna also include all the various adhikṛta-dāsa divinities, (Śiva, Brahmā, Indra, Varuṇa, etc.) and their followers – and not only in their obviously Vedic manifestation but also in their cross-cultural cross-pollenated faccimilies (like Thor, Odin, and so on). Why criticize them? What do we gain from it? Nothing. Rather than gain, in fact, we lose the most important thing – the devotional attitude (which is soft, forgiving, tolerant, and gentle by nature).

People who love Krishna certainly also include the intermediate and advanced devotees who should be treated as sādhu and guru. 

Obviously, it also includes Krishna himself. We must not slander, criticize (or cause others to do that by our pathetic misrepresentation of) Krishna’s manifestation as the Veda (yes, all of them, including the karma-khanda and jñāna-khanda  and culminating in Śrīmad Bhāgavatam), as Śrī Mūrti, as Śrī Nāma, and as Śrī Dhāma.

We should stop our aparādhā by increasing our rādhā. We should do more kīrtan and bhajan

Rather than only trying to stop our aparādhā, we should also take a positive approach. We should stop our aparādhā and increase our rādhā. We should do more kīrtan and bhajan with better sincerity, while giving up our spite and jealousy and need for superiority and eminance and recognition. Then aparādhā decreases and rādhā takes its place in our hearts. Then our progress is swift and perfect.

We must stop our aparādhā immediately and entirely. We can’t go around resting on slogans like, “something is better than nothing.”

Vraja Kishor dās

www.vrajakishor.com

 

What’s So Special about the Earth and Humans?

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Question: I was wondering why earth is so special? Why did Krishna manifest his pastimes here instead of some other planet?

Well, what “other planet” should he appear on? Life is centered on Earth.

Yes, there are many dimensions to the earth, sky, heavens, and under-earth, but these multi-dimensional realms (loka) are not literally identical to our modern astronomical conception of “planets.” The modern astronomical model is not the same model presented in the Purāṇa. It also describes reality, yes, but from a different point of view and for a different purpose.

The Purāṇic point of view is that the Earth is the central focus of life, but there are many Earth’s paired with many Suns, each with their own “solar-system” (to use modern lingo) of multi-dimensional realms (loka).

So if you ask, “Why did Krishna manifest his avatāra only here on our Earth,” the answer is that he does not. He manifests on every Earth in synchronous successions, such that his manifestation constantly appears on one Earth or another.

QuestionI also understand that the anti-gods have tried to capture the earth in efforts to further their advance on the upper heavenly realms. Does the earth really hold such a special place in the cosmos?

The anti-gods are not interested in Earth, but are interested in Paradise, which is a higher-dimensional realm connected to the heavens from our point of view – called svarga in Sanskrit. However, the earth is like a “mining colony” or “powerplant” for Paradise – because the humans here perform sacrifices which make the gods there more powerful. So, the anti-gods have a strategy to disrupt religion, sacrifice, etc. and thereby weaken the gods, making it much easier for them to storm Paradise.

Question: Is bhakti available only here on Earth?

The human form of life is unique. Only human beings generate karma. The rest of the forms of life are for experiencing the results of karma. Microbes, plants, and animals don’t generate karma because their intellect is not sufficiently developed to permit the possibility of true freedom of choice. Superhuman life forms (like gods and anti-gods, for example) do have very developed intellect, but don’t have much opportunity for choice between good/bad right/wrong because they mostly experience only good things and good situations.

So, mokṣa and bhakti (liberation and divine love) are usually only achieved from the human incarnation (which inhabits “Earth” in the dimension we are familiar with). Of course there can always be exceptional individuals who do exceptional things in almost any species – but here I’m talking about the norm.
Question: Does Kali Yuga only affect the earth or the universe?
Does winter only affect the mid-latitudes or does it affect the entire hemisphere? It affects the entire hemisphere, but the mid-latitudes experience the effect the most dramatically. The polar latitutes are already cold all the time, and the tropical latitudes just get a little cooler but not much.
Similarly Kali-yuga affects the entire multi-dimensional system, but the mid-dimension “Earth” as we know it, is affected the most dramatically.
– Vraja Kishor dās
www.vrajakishor.com

“Sin” vs. “Offense”

V0009343 A face expressing hatred or jealousy. Etching in the crayon
Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images
images@wellcome.ac.uk
http://wellcomeimages.org
A face expressing hatred or jealousy. Etching in the crayon manner by W. Hebert, c. 1770, after C. Le Brun.
By: Charles Le Brunafter: William HebertPublished:  - 

Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

There is a difference between a “sin” (adharma or pāpa) and a “hatred” (a.k.a “offense” – aparādhā). “Hatred” is “sin” but not all “sin” is “hatred.” “Hatred” is a special subset of “sin” – it is the worst type. It is so bad that it is considered in a separate category.

A “sin” is simply failure to fulfill our duty, responsibility and function. A father, for example, sins if he cannot provide physical and mental security for his family. The acts he does which contribute to this failure are also “sins.” 

A “hatred” (aparādhā) is an intentional hurt or slander against a person who deserves to be respected or loved. Sin can happen by mistake or out of weakness, but hatred (aparādhā) is willful and intentional by definition. 

One example of aparādhā: The teacher comes into the room, and the student refuses to stand. Another example: A father yelling at his daughter for wanting his attention and affection

An aparādhā is not a mistake, it is intentional. Because aparādhā are intentional, they are worse than ordinary “sin.”

A student who didn’t know he was supposed to stand when the teacher entered the room isn’t so much an aparādhī as a mild pāpī. A father who unintentionally fails in his relationship with his daughter is again more a pāpī than an aparādhī.

It is far worse to be an aparādhī than to be a pāpī. In Gītā, Krishna says that the worst type of sin is kāma – selfish desire. This is because kāma is the root of aparādhā. When we want things for ourself (kāma), we will inevitably hate (aparādhā) those who frustrate our desires. 

We have wasted a lot of our time and breath criticizing “materialistic people” for their “sins” but we are far, far worse than they are because of our aparādhā against the most lovable entity, Krishna.  We know that we should be attentive and affectionate towards Krishna’s name, image, wisdom (the Veda) and to those who teach and exemplify it (the gurus and sādhus), but we continue to refuse to make that effort.

Our lack of progress in bhakti-yoga is due to aparādhā, but aparādhā is based on our failure to develop proper comprehension of the goal (prayojana), the process (adhideya), and the components of reality (sambandha). The tendency for hatred goes away the more deeply we comprehend our relationship to other people and reality as a whole – i.e. the more deeply we understand sambandha-jñāna. So the best cure for the worst evil is careful study of śāstra under the guidance of a guru who deeply understands them.

– Vraja Kishor dās

www.vrajakishor.com

The Emptiness in You

735_radha-krishna-wallpaper-012

Hunger in our mouths
Comes from emptiness in our stomachs.

Hunger in our senses
Comes from emptiness in our hearts.

The mouth can fill a stomach’s emptiness
But can the heart’s emptiness be filled through the senses?

The heart’s emptiness
Is best filled by her close friends: the mind and words.

If you hear the right words
And think about them deeply, feelingly.
You will never again go hungry.

Hear about All-Attractive, All-Delighting Krishna-Rāma.
And contemplate what you hear, deeply… feelingly.

How to Pay a Sage. How to Run a Society.

Handful_of_Water_-_Kolkata_2011-03-16_2003

This is the conclusion of Pṛthu’s discussion with Sanāt Kumār.

Extremely grateful that the self-knowing young children of Brahmā had given him a clear vision his true self-interest, the King said, “Compassionate Hari must have felt compassionate towards me – for all of you blessed spiritualists have come to me. You, his devotees, are equally compassionate, so you have very thoroughly manifest his compassion to me. What can I give you in return?

This illustrates the ideal attitude towards sādhu-guru: “you are the manifestation of Krishna’s compassion on me. And your own part in that is also extremely compassionate.” 

This also illustrates the principle that a recipient of goods, services, or knowledge pays something in return.

“All I have are gifts handed down to me from sādhus. All of those gifts I then gave entirely to the teachers and philosophers. I gave them everything – my kingdom, forces, land, and treasury, as well as my own home, children and wife, and even my own self. I made them the commanders of my armies and the leaders and administrators of my kingdom. I did this because I believe that those who know Vedic śāstra are the only ones truly capable of leading society.

This is how to run a society, and I wish that many of the people trying to run “Vedic” and/or “Krishna Conscious” societies would pay attention to it. The true leader of the society is not the person with charisma or talents. The true leader is the person who very clearly and thoroughly understands Vedic śāstra.

All power and all parts of the society should be given to their care. King Pṛthu set an ideal example here, giving not only what was in his society, but even what was in his own home, and even what was in his own body. That is a true leader. Of course there can be only one King Pṛthu in history, but the rest of the leaders throughout history should look up to his example, emulate it, and feel embarassed when they fail to do so.

“They accepted everything I offered, but distributed it all wisely to the various members of society.

What do the brāhmaṇas (the really intelligent, learned, wise people who have realized  knowledge in practice) do with all the power that should be given to them? They keep none of it!

Then what is the point of giving it to them?

 Because they are wise and neutral and know exactly how to distribute that power to the right people. They put various people in charge of various things, according to their individual abilities and inclinations.

Just as I wish the kṣatriya’s running our religious and “spiritual” institutions would pay attention to the fact that the brāhmaṇas should be running the show, so to do I wish that the people claiming the role of teachers and philosophers in these societies would pay attention to the fact that real brahmaṇas don’t hold on to any power or wealth, but distribute it to the most appropriate people.

I therefore possess nothing to give you. You have shown us our true selves and very conclusively explained how to walk the path towards the All-Attractive, revealed in the Vedas, but how can we repay you? In truth, though, you need no payment, for your constant deeds of unlimited mercy bring you perfect satisfaction which nothing can diminish. All we can do is offer you water in our cupped hands.”

– Excerpt from an early draft of Part 4 of

Beautiful Tales of the All-Attractive

A translation of Śrīmad Bhāgavatam’s fourth canto

By Vraja Kishor

Parts 1, 2, and 3 of Beautiful Tales of the All Attractive

are available at VrajaKishor.com