Is God a Man?


Our concept of male and female is limited to our experience of male and female. We have only experienced incomplete, flawed males and females. Therefore to say that God is either male or female is seriously problematic, because it implies to our minds that God is like something flawed. On the other hand, to say God is neither male nor female also leaves us feeling blank, because we cannot comprehend such a thing.

Śāstra makes all such statements. In some places it describes divinity as female; in some places, as male; in some places, as both; in some places, as neither.

But by sādhana (deep contemplation with mantra practice) we can gradually perceive the actual truth in all these statements.

God is both male and female, because God is everything. Yet, God is neither a male nor a female because God has no flaws or limitations. So, God is the manifestation of an unlimited entity, which is both perfectly male and perfectly female.

This is why we don’t depict or conceive of Śakti (perfect femininity) without Śaktiman (perfect masculinity), nor Śaktiman without Śakti. 

In short, Krishna in Vṛndāvana surrounded by his gopīs, headed by Rādhā is our conception of God. He does not exist without the gopī saturated Vṛndāvana. Bhāgavatam says dhāmna svenda sadā — He exists only in his dhāma. 

And even in Krishna himself, you find a peacock of a hero. 

And even in Rādhā herself, you find a brave hero of a woman.

And you will not find one without the other.

Vraja Kishor

On Love & Beauty (& Happiness)


QUESTION: I totally see where you are coming from with the notion that “love is the spontaneous reaction to beauty.” But how do you discern beauty — Is it in the object or in the subject? 

Beauty is neither in the object nor in the subject. It is in their combination. Beauty is the link between the object and the subject.

Love causes the link to form, and beauty is the experience of the link. In technical Sanskrit, love is called भक्ति (bhakti), and the experience of beauty is रस (rasa), which is the essence of अानन्द (ānanda).  Bhakti is the cause of forming a link between two entities. Rasa, which produces Ānanda is the experience of that link.

QUESTION: Is it instantaneous?

As soon as the link between lover and beloved is established, love instantaneously manifests.

QUESTION: Does it require varying perspective?

Yes, it does require distinct perspectives. There must be a lover and beloved (in Sanskrit: āśraya and viṣaya).

QUESTION: How does time affect it?

Time increases it.

Lust and love are different ways of reacting to beauty. Lust diminishes, because it is exhausting. So lust for a person or object diminishes markedly after experiencing that it does not actually fulfill our needs as well as we hoped. Love, however, always increases.

QUESTION: Beauty seems to be a great mystery. Like love, we all think we know it, but we struggle to explain it. Science can’t qantify it. Philosophy doesn’t clearly define it. And, like love, it is deeply subjective. The two seem deeply connected.

Yes, love and beauty are inseparable.

Śrī Viśvanātha, a bhakti-yoga master from a few centuries ago, explained that love disappears when you try to dissect it, but it also disappears if you do not try your best to explore and discover it. Only those who are in awe of love can “explore” it without “dissecting” it. Those who revere love and think of themselves as her servant, they alone can understand love, for love fully reveals her secrets only to them.

QUESTION: Can attractiveness disguising itself as beauty?

Attractiveness comes from a combination of factors, including beauty.

Or, it comes from how much you feel that an object or person will fulfill your needs. If you see someone or something that you feel will really fulfill your needs, you immediately feel attracted to it. 

So, different people find different things attractive, depending on how (and how well) they recognize and understand their true needs.

QUESTION: I would say that attraction of the senses results in spontaneous desire.

Krishna says this explicitly in Gītā. “When the senses contact an object, desire arises.”

Beauty on the other hand is an appreciation that something is pleasing because it is has a benifical essence to it and it is worthy of our respect/devotion.

This shows the difference in our attitude towards beauty. One attitude is “I want to consume it.” This is called “lust.” The other attitude is “I want to worship it.” This is called “love.”

Lust is the desire for the beauty to become an object of our pleasure. Love is the desire to become annexed to the beauty, to augment, amplify, facilitate, and encourage it; to “serve” it.

So, we can see that there are two ways of interacting with beauty. One (love) is flawless and produces happiness. The other (lust) is a flawed way of interacting with beauty, and it produces hunger, which is stressful and leads to suffering. So, it is not guaranteed that beauty produces love. If the perceiver is flawed, it will not produce love, it will produce lust. If it produces love, it will produce pleasure and happiness. If it produces lust, it will produce pain and unhappiness.

So you can see that not only are beauty and love inseparable, happiness is also inseparable. So it is actually a trio: love, beauty, and happiness are all three facets of one single experience.

So the perceiver has to do some work (sādhana) to improve their perception (get rid of avidyā, ignorance) before they can really perceive beauty.

Vraja Kishor



QUESTION: I’ve heard that the cannabis plant is offered to Shiva in certain rituals, and I’ve also heard it is offered to Kali. They say cannabis is the healing of the nations. In a few words, what is your take on that?

As far as I know, it’s Rastafarians who say cannabis is “the healing of the nations.” Actually, the parallels between the Rasta and Shaiva sādhu are amazing: dreadlocks and herb… 

Anyway, I believe the root of cannabis use in India’s lore and culture goes back to Soma. Soma (also called Amṛta) is a very essential component of Vedic culture. I say a bit about Soma in my book, 27 Stars, 27 Gods and reference it in my video on Mṛgaśīrṣā Nakṣatra (Search for Happiness, meaning, and purpose: Mṛgaśīrṣā – The Vedic Stars). 

Essentially, Soma (Amṛta) is the supreme form of food. It brings super nourishment as well as super delight. All other varieties of food and drink are derivations or approximations of it. The key ingredient in Soma is an milk-sap herb that grew in the Himalaya but is now extinct. Many consider cannabis a close approximation, or simply just use cannabis in some very lose approximation of how Soma can be used. 

Some laypeople and some sādhu’s in India use cannabis. But, in the linage of spirituality I myself am involved in, we do not use it (or any other substance). Our soma and amṛta is hari-kathā and hari-nāma-saṁkīrtan. This is our noursihment and intoxication.

Vraja Kishor das

Ghosts in Brahman


QUESTION: Is the life post liberation as per the philosophy of Advaita-vada kind of Ghostly?


Ghosts are entities who are blocked from taking their desired form. They are riddled with incessant unfulfillable desires. Existence in Brahman is nothing like this at all. It is nirvāna and śānta – without disturbance and perfectly peaceful. There are no desires whatsoever, and a resultant natural sense of happiness (realized as peaceful tranquility).

QUESTION: Could life in Brahaman be like being a contended, happy ghosts.


Ghosts (even a content and happy hypothetical Casper) are discrete entities with a sense of identity and desire. There are no discrete entities in Brahman, no sense of individual identity, and certainly no desire. Existence in Brahman is incomprehensible and indescribable. It cannot be made analog to anything in our experience, certainly not to ghosts.

The best description I can imagine of existence in Brahman is absolute, unlimited peace. This comes at the cost of having absolutely no individuality and ambition or desire.

Prema is infinitely better than Brahman, but this doesn’t make Brahman equivalent to being a ghost. Sometimes a prema-bhakta may denigrate Brahman out of emotion and love for Bhagavān. but this is a bhāva-vicāra (a subjective angle), not a tattva-vicāra (objective angle). The objective angle is that Brahman is a partial comprehension of Bhagavān and therefore is glorious, though everything that Brahman offers is merely a subset of what Bhagavat-prema offers.

Vraja Kishor

Sastra and Bhakti

Krishna, Balarama, and the Cowherders: Page from a Dispersed Bhagavata Purana (Ancient Stories of Lord Vishnu), 1800–25
India (Orissa), 
Ink and opaque watercolor on paper; 9 5/8 x 15 1/4 in. (24.4 x 38.7 cm)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Purchase, Mr. and Mrs. Harry Kahn Gift Fund, 1974 (1974.147)

I’ve made this video to give you an inside look into my course on Śāstra and Bhakti, “The Role of Sacred Text in Gauḍīya Bhakti.”

There are four different ways you can take the course: by self-study, guided-study, group-classes, or private classes.

All four include PDF notes for each session. These notes are also shown in-class and in the recorded videos, but I give them to you as separate PDFs as well, because they are much more easily studied and referenced in that format.

Each session also includes homework questions, to ensure you are correctly grasping the key points.

I also provide you with my own personal answers to the homework questions. If you are taking the course by self-study, you can check your answers against these. If you are taking the course by another method, I personally check and correct your answers, and am available for questions by email and in the dedicated class discussion forums.

Now I will show you selected excerpts from the pre-recorded classes. Thank you for watching. I hope to see you in class soon!

Find out more, and ENROLL NOW at:

Prasadam Rules


QUESTION: Can you please clarify which type of food can be offered to Krishna, and the correct procedure, so that Krishna accepts our offering and makes it as a Prasad for us.

The wording of your question reveals a very significant flaw in how you approach the whole subject, but first let me try to address the specifics of your question.

The essence of Krishna-worship is love, not ritual.

Please remember that there is more than one right way to do anything. Try to understand the essence of what is correct, then you won’t be baffled by the differences in the ways different people or groups apply that essence in specific circumstances.

The essence is bhakti. In Gītā (9.26), Krishna gives this as the essential qualifier of an offering that he likes to accept:

पत्रं पुष्पं फलं तोयं यो मे भक्त्याप्रयचछति
तदहंभक्त्युपहृतमश्नामि प्रयतात्मनः ।।

patraṁ puṣpaṁ phalaṁ toyaṁ
yo me bhaktyā prayacchati
tad ahaṁ bhakty-upahṛtam
aśnāmi prayatātmanaḥ

In this verse Krishna says three times that the essence of what he wants is love. First he says bhaktyā (“because of love” — bhaktyā prayacchati: “I accept it because of love.”). Second, he says he accepts it lovingly because it is offered with love, bhakti-upahṛta. Third, he says he accepts the offering from prayata-ātmana (“a pure hearted person” – which means a loving person, without the stains of selfishness). By stressing it three times, Krishna makes it very clear that the essence of what he wants to be offered is love. 

There are many, many ways to express love. The details are not essential and don’t need to be fixed and set in stone. Different people can do it differently, and different reccomendations are given to different individuals in different circumstances. If you worry too much about these details, you might forget the essence. The essence of Krishna-worship is love, not ritual.

As for what kind of food can be offered, Krishna doesn’t get very specific or exhaustive, showing that it is not as essential. He simply says “leaves (patra, you can read it as leafy vegetable, or as any vegetable), flowers (puṣpa, yes there are many flowers that can be eaten), fruits (phala), and water (toya).

What is interesting is that all of these four have connotations in relation to love. A patra (leaf) is a “declaration” of the love or the “basis” of love, the relationship. The puṣpa (flower) is the symptom of love, like blushing, blinking, prespiring, etc. The phala (fruit) is the expression of love, like hugging, kissing, etc. The toya (water) is the solvency of ātma between lover and beloved, the flowing exchange of heart. This is an esoteric angle that further highlights how the essence of the whole exchange with Krishna is not some caloric content, it is love.

Feed Krishna because you want him to know that you love him and you are thinking of him. Don’t do it for any other reason.

Make it Prasadam

You said you want to do the offering correctly, “so that Krishna accepts our offering and makes it as a Prasad for us.” This shows that your main concern might not be what Krishna gets or experiences, but what you get or experience. This is a major problem. It spoils the entire thing. You have Krishna making something for you. You’ve turned the whole thing upside-down and backwards.

Don’t put food in front of a statue or picture of Krishna because you want it to magically transform into something that is “karma-free” and will give you liberation, super-purity, or the approval-stamp of a certified “bonafide follower”.

Feed Krishna because you want him to know that you love him and you are thinking of him. Don’t do it for any other reason.

Is God Hungry?

Don’t think, “He is not really hungry. He is God.” Why do you think God can’t be hungry? Flavor cannot be enjoyed well without hunger, so how can the Supreme Being, the Supreme Enjoyer, not have a voracious appetite!? Of course he can be hungry! He has more hunger than anyone! In fact, in this verse from Gita, he says, “I am voraciously hungry (aśnāmi) for the expressions of love (bhaktyupahṛta) from the pure hearted (prayatātmanaḥ).”

He is hungry for your love.

Vrajavāsīs are not concerned much with any rituals about food. In Vraja, food has one purpose: to delight Krishna. It accomplishes this purpose in two ways: directly and indirectly. Food directly delights Krishna when the Vrajavāsī’s feed him scrumptuous things. It indirectly delights Krishna when the Vrajavāsī’s eat it to increase their own health and beauty, so they can delight Krishna by playing with him energetically and enthusiastically. This is why it is very often said that “everything in Vraja is prasādam.” 

A Totally Different Approach to Counting Mantras


Most of the time we try to chant a certain number of “rounds” (mālā of 108 beads) in a day. Most of the time most all of those “rounds” are rubbish, and we are just trying to get the “rounds” finished. So, here is a different approach.

The goal is to chant one mālā of manasika japa (i.e. the mantra is contemplated silently) without being distracted from the mantra’s meaning. In other words, rather than trying to produce a lot of rubbish, lets produce a even a little gold.

If you find you have become distracted from the mantra, start over – go back to the start of the beads.

You probably will have to give yourself a buffer of three or four mantras. If you catch yourself being distracted quickly, within this buffer, consider it a “catch” and keep going on the mālā without restarting. Without this it’s nearly hopeless.

If you have to restart the mālā a few times, step down from manasika japa to japa with your mouth moving to the syllables. If you still fail a few times, step down again to vacika japa (audible mantra). When you finally complete one good mālā of vacika japa, “level up” and try for the mouthed syllables, and when you get that, “level up” and go for the manasika mālā. Then put your beads away from the day and get an orange juice!

Unfortunately, you will probably have to set an hour or two or more as a time limit, because you will probably discover that it is etremely difficult to do even one solid round of manasika japa without significant distraction. You may want to shoot for just vacika japa for a week or two, and gradually step up to manasika. If somehow you start getting good at doing a single mālā of manasika you might want to step up the goal to two, etc.

Consider this a “rehabilitation program” for “critically injured” or “critically handicapped” chanting.

Vraja Kishor

[This is an experiment, not the technique of any parivar as far as I am aware.]


The Definition of Love

The most thoroughly accepted Gauḍīya exact definition of bhakti is from Śrī Rūpa Goswāmī in Śrī Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu 1.1.11

अन्याभिलाषिताशून्यं ज्ञानकर्माद्यनावृतम् ।
अनुकूल्येन कृष्णानुशीलनं भक्तिरुत्तमम् ।।

ānyābhilāṣitā śunyaṁ jñāna-karmādy anāvṛtam
anukūlyena kṛṣṇānu-śīlanaṁ bhaktir-uttamam

“The ultimate bhakti is expression of affection for Krishna, without ulterior motive or occlusion by extraneous elements.”

The extraneous motives and their means of attainment are classified broadly as bhukti (self-centered happiness) pursued by karma (self-centered endeavors), and mukti (freedom) pursued by jñāna (acquisition of objectivity and detachment).

Bhakti has its own intrinsic components of endeavors (anuśīlana) and supra-objective subjectivity (anukūlya) and thus has its own intrinsic happiness and freedom – so there is no need for extraneous endeavor. And the extraneous effort to attain happiness and freedom outside the context of love (bhakti) is a serious flaw that prevents one from actually experiencing true love (uttama-bhakti) at all.

Why doesn’t Krishna Marry Radha? Lust, Adultry, Parakīya, …WTF!?


People have such a hard time understanding Vrindavana Krishna!

Even if they figure out that the specificity of paramātmā is more infinite than the indefinite abstraction of brahman, they still have to figure the mystery of bhagavan: that the specific personhood and form of divinity does not exist merely for our sake, but has it’s own intrinsic desire and purpose that we are meant to participate in.

Even if they sort all that out, and comprehend bhāgavan, they will still have to figure out why unabashed intimacy with pure beauty (madhurya) expresses spiritual bliss (ānanda) more fully than awestruck reverence for absolute majesty (aiśvarya). 

Even if they comprehend madhurya-bhagavan Krishna, they will still have to figure out that the oneness of romantic intimacy (śṛṇgara-ujjvala-mādhurya – which causes God to be a boy and us to be girls), expresses more concentrated ānanda than mere friendship, or even the heart melting affection of motherhood (sakhya or vatsalya – which causes Krishna to be our peer, or even our baby).

Even if they sort all that out and comprehend the Romantic Divinity, Śrī Krishna, they still have not grasped Vrindavana Krishna. They still have to comprehend that romantic love expressed with the all devouring intensity of lust (kāmarūpa) expresses more intense ānanda than love which obeys norms, and stays within boundaries (dharmarūpa). To comprehend Vrindavana Krishna, they will not only have to be able to grasp this, but to take it to its ultimate extreme: realizing that the apex of Divine Bliss will manifest in forms which resemble what we conceive of as scandalous and adulturous affairs (parakīya) rather than lawfully wedded (or even mildly adventurous) nuptual bliss (svakīya).

Oh God… It’s a long way from brahman to braja, indeed!

The fullest perception of the Absolute Original Consciousness is a gorgeous heartbreaker engulfed in endless waves of coordinated multitutdes of mind-bendingly beautiful and mind-bogglingly talented mistresses of erotic bliss.

But, if we can put aside all our preconceptions and all our emotional and intellectual baggage, and just look at the above with fresh eyes, it does make perfect sense: the fullest perception of the Absolute Original Consciousness is a gorgeous heartbreaker engulfed in endless waves of coordinated multitutdes of mind-bendingly beautiful and mind-bogglingly talented mistresses of erotic bliss.

Ladies and (well… just ladies)… I introduce to you…. Śrī Krishna! The real one, behind all the closed doors and closed curtains. Vrindavana Bihari.


Objection: Krishna says he doesn’t break the codes of dharma because whatever great people do, common people immitate!

Reply: Yes, but first of all he says that in Bhagavad-Gītā as a grown man, a kṣatrīya, and a king. When he was a kid living as a vaiṣya in a farmer’s villiage, he was not yet a “great man” of that sort, he was just a teenager. In Vraja, as a Kishor (teen), he has no need to set any example for common people to follow.

Vraja Vrindavana is where Krishna gets to be himself. Elsewhere he is doing things for our sake, dharma-samsthāpana and so on (establishing morality, etc). But God’s existence is not limited to how he guides and helps and serves us (in fact, that is closer to a paramātmā conception than a bhagavān conception). God has his own life! And we can participate in it! We can serve, and help, and even guide and protect and delight him! The venue for this existence manifests in Vaikuṇṭha, and most fully in Vraja Goloka Vrindavana. There, and especially in Vraja, he isn’t busy setting examples for John and Jane Doe – he is just being himself and sharing the feast of Supreme Bliss.

Śruti śāstra, with its oft-repeated and paraphrased “so kāmayata bahu syām prajāyata” phrase and several other key statements, describes the Absolute Consciousness as this Vraja Kishor Krishna, enjoying unabashed bliss in its most intense, “lusty” form.

We have a hard time understanding Vrindavana Krishna’s kāma-līlā because of our own experiences with lust. We experience it as something extremely selfish, and we assume that our experience of lust is accurate. However, we are avidya-baddha (bound by lack of knowledge) and our experiences are therefore more or less inaccurate. An accurate perception of Krishna’s “lust” is possible, but not easy. A) We have to be willing to have it. Not just willing, but wanting, really wanting. B) We have to find someone who has it and can explain to us how they obtained that from the ultimate source of accurate perception, śāstra. Only then can we too hope to directly see the indescribable beauty and dharma of Rādhā Krishna Parakīya Prema – the “lusty love” between Radha and Krishna.

What we will see is that, even in Vrindavana, Krishna is setting the right example.

The Bhāgavatam opens with “oṁ namo bhāgavate vāsudevāya” – explaining that Krishna is Vāsudeva, the Original Consciousness. It immediately follows this by, “janmādyasya yatā” – explaining śruti’s “kāmayata” point: that everything in existence manifests as a result of the perceptual hunger of this Original Consciousness; “unvayad itarataś cārtheṣu abhijñā” – explaining that everything comes from him and exists for the sake of manifesting his bliss. Everything is from him and for him.

Therefore there is no such thing as “parakīya” in a literal sense!

Rādhā and the Gopīs of Vrindavana are Krishna’s sva-māyā, svayaṁ prakṛti, svarūpa-śakti. They are inseparable components of Krishna himself! There is no literal truth to the concept of them being “unmarried.”

The parakīya-bhāva is a bhāva! mood! sense! The husbands of Radha and so on are abhiman (“big ideas”) only. Parakīya is the form that everything takes, to allow the Divine Bliss of the Original Consciousness to manifest its all-devouring, all-consuming, all-conquering nature to the fullest, most radical, wild, unrestrained extreme. It is the form of gopī-prema, but the tattva of gopī-prema is svakīya. More than any husband or wife we have ever experienced, they are eternally, constitutionally, inseparably married.

The example he sets, therefore, is that we should enjoy only what is constitutionally ours to enjoy. This is conformant with all dharma-śāstra.

If we are sincere, we will find that nothing is constitutionally ours to enjoy. We may experience a sense of proprietorship, but it is never more than conditional and relative. So it is our enjoyment, no matter how dharmic it may appear, which is adharmic. This is the first point Bhāgavatam makes: everything is consitutionally his; it is his dharma to enjoy everything and everyone. No one, therefore, is a more dharmic lover than Vrindavan Krishna!

And it is our dharma to participate in that infinite feast of enjoyment, as an integral part of it. The enjoyer and enjoyed both enjoy, but each from different perspectives.

So, even in Vraja, Krishna is setting an example for all to follow. What example?

The example of highest bliss!

Vraja-līlā exhibits the example of what everyone really wants: unrestrained, unmitigatedly thrilling bliss. And it also shows us how we can get it: not by trying to enjoy it as a proprietor (the key flaw in our approach to happiness), but instead by participating in it as a consitutant part of it, as a part belonging constitutionally to the whole: Krishna, who the root of our very existence.

As a gopī.

This is what Bhāgavatam and Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu want to show us: That Krishna is the fullest concept of brahman and that we too are meant to be one with that expression of exquisitely blissful love.

Vraja Kishor dās

Bhāgavatam and “Modern Science”


We have to sort out the negotiable differences from the non-negotiable differences. Otherwise we will spend all our energy debating and arguing debates and arguments that don’t really need to be debated and argued.

For example, we can waste days, months and years trying to prove the earth is flat, thinking that we are championing the Bhāgavata conception, but if we looked more carefully we might see that the Bhāgavatam describes the earth in many ways: sometimes flat, sometimes round, sometimes globular, sometimes personified as a cow or a goddess.

We can argue against evolution, or we can read Kapila’s description of the origin of the universe and see how it is devoid of life for hundreds of trillions of years while elemental evolution gradually, very gradually, unfolds without any direct intelligent intervention except the remote dormant karmas of the jīvas suspended within paramātmā. And that the creator (Brahmā) designed the various species in four consecutive phases.

We can spill blood trying to prove that humans existed since the dawn of time, or we can read Bhāgavatam more carefully and see that they just didn’t exist at all for quite a long time, until Brahmā figured out how to make sexual reproduction work with a limited genetic pool. And we can also read more carefully and see how the definition of units of time are completely mind-boggling and can come up with vastly different sums depending on how they are calculated.

We can, for example, claim the universe is only the size of the solar system, or we can accept that a “universe” is a solar system and then move on.

We can claim that Bhāgavatam is unscientific because it doesn’t mention electrons, and we can claim that modern science is heretical because it doesn’t mention Prajāpati Dakṣa or a universal lotus — or we can realize that these are just DETAILS, and we can’t expect two very different specialties to describe exactly the same fine details in one anothers specialized fields.

We can realize that Bhāgavatam and moden Pratyakṣa (observation) are broadly but thoroughly reconcilable, or we can stick to conspiracy-theory-esque crusade to prove that what we see with our eyes simply doesn’t exist at all – a doomed crusade for all but the most insane.

We have to sort out the negotiable from the non-negotiable, and focus our argumentation on the non-negotiable.

What is non-negotiable is the mechanistic presumption that the universe has no purpose; that meaning and consciousness are just strange byproducts of something which isn’t event meant to exist or have any purpose at all. This is the truly absurd proposition of modern philosophy and science, which lovers of Śrīmad Bhāgavatam should set their intellectual weapons against.

The rest can be negotiated. Indeed it SHOULD be negotiated, since the entire purpose of approaching śāstra is to cause our own pratyakṣa (direct experience) to become one with it.

Vraja Kishor