Friday, April 6, 2018

We may have to leave at any moment





Once a visitor came to a sadhu’s ashram. He saw the sadhu was living in a very simple house. He looked around and found there was nothing worthy in his house -  no bed, no wardrobe, no chair, no table, no refrigerator. The visitor was surprised.  He immediately inquired, “Sir, where are your belongings.” The sadhu asked, “Where are yours?”  The visitor reasoned, “I am just a visitor here and will be here for a short period of time.” The sadhu said, “So, am I.”

While travelling we try to carry minimum luggage so that we travel without much hassle. We carry only essential items. In this world too we are a traveler, we cannot live here permanently although we may wish. But almost all of us believe that we will live here forever and so we keep on hoarding things.  Krishna tells us that to attain peace in this world we should give up all desires for sense gratification and give up all sense of proprietorship. B.G. 2.71.

But we think, “The more we have the more happy we will become.” And so we work hard, to earn more so that we accumulate more. The more desire we have more miserable we become, we also cannot fulfill all our desires. And since we are a cosmic traveler we are asked to vacate the place as soon as our visa expires. All our plea to extend our visa in front of the agents of death fall on deaf ears.  Death can come at any moment. It can come while I am writing this piece or it can come while you are reading this article.  Most of the time it comes without intimation. Using our worldly positions we cannot defy the order of the agents of death, through our wealth we cannot bribe them. When we have to leave we have to leave and we may be asked to leave at any moment. Stephen Hawking, the renowned scientist, had solutions to many of the mysteries of the world but he too had to wind up all his research work and leave with the agents of death when they came calling. Sridevi, a very popular movie actress, was getting ready for a dinner date with her husband in Dubai. She went to take bath and her husband was eagerly waiting for her to get ready. Little did she or her husband know that there was also an uninvited guest who was waiting to take her with him.

Govinda Dasa Kaviraja, a poet and a devotee of the Lord reminds us that how everything in this world is temporary - e dhana, yaubana, putra, parijana/ ithe ki äche paratiti re/ kamala-dala-jala, jivana talamala/ bhajahu hari-pada niti re.  “What assurance of real happiness is there in all of one's wealth, youthfulness, sons, and family members? This life is tottering like a drop of water on a lotus petal; therefore you should always serve and worship the divine feet of Lord Hari.”


Thursday, April 5, 2018

When we love God we serve all





As soon as we get up early in the morning all our actions are centered around us and around those people whom we consider as our own. How best I can lead my life and what best can I provide to my dear ones is the driving factor behind any of our activities.

Some people rise above this and start thinking about the society and they are willing to extend himself or herself to serve the people. For this they are willing to endure pain too. Many say that the social activists are driven with a desire for name and fame. It is not possible to judge others’ motives and it is not required too but we can for sure try to learn what selfless service means from the story of King Rantideva.

Rantideva was a virtuous person and always tried his best to please the Supreme Lord. Once after fasting for forty eight days he was given foodstuff made with milk and ghee and some water. 
But as he was about to eat, a brahmana guest arrived. Rantideva immediately offered a share of the food to the brahmana.

After that he divided the remaining food among his relatives. But again as soon as he was ready to eat, a sudra arrived and King Rantideva without any hesitation gave him also a share of the food.
Again as he was about to eat, a man came with dogs and said that he and his dogs are very hungry. Rantideva immediately offered them the remaining food.

Now only water was remaining for him but as he was about to take water, a candala appeared and asked for drinking water.

The king was shivering for want of water and food, if he would give water then his death would be for sure. But the king’s heart melted seeing the pitiable condition of his guest and he gave him water too.

While giving the water the king said, “I want only to stay among all the living entities and suffer all distresses on their behalf, so that they may be freed from suffering. By offering my water to maintain the life of this poor caṇḍāla, who is struggling to live, I have been freed from all hunger, thirst, fatigue, trembling of the body, moroseness, distress, lamentation and illusion.” SB 9.21.12 – 13.

The demigods Lord Shiva and Lord Brahma were so pleased seeing the sacrifice of the king. In fact it was they who had come in the form of brahamana, sudra, candala etc to test the king’s resolve to serve the people. They manifested their identities before the king and blessed the king and sang his virtues.

The king was able to exhibit such a selfless attitude and kind heartedness only because he saw every individual as parts and parcel of the Supreme Lord. When we love God we love all, we serve all.


Wednesday, April 4, 2018

“Maya Times” – The fake news agency


 “Fake News” is in the news, everyone seems to be or pretend to be worried about it. A news or an information or a story or a data is considered “fake” when the truth is suppressed and is manipulated to suit a certain narrative. Political parties, journalists, twitter warriors, social activists today do not hesitate to spread fake news to further their agenda.  The civilized society are up in arms and are vociferously demanding to check the menace of fake news.

But since time immemorial we have been victim of fake news from a very powerful news agency and most of us just do not care about it. When the intelligent men and women caution us we ignore their warning.  The Lord’s illusory energy’s powerful news agency “Maya Times” has been peddling the fake news and we gullible people have been its victim for ages.

Two important lies peddled by Maya Times are:

·       Material positions and possessions is panacea for all the sufferings: 
Believing in it, we work hard to accumulate wealth and struggle for power and positions. Most of the time we partially succeed in achieving our goals and even if we achieve we still find that our heart remains dissatisfied. The joy which we had hoped for eludes us.

·       We are here to live forever:
Although we know that life here is as permanent as a bubble in the ocean still we try our best to live here as if we are going to be here for eternity.

If we refer to the fact checking books especially holy Vedas and listen carefully to holy sages we would find that they have been logically and with data have been exposing the nefarious design of “Maya Times.” The “Maya Times” fake assurance of happiness and permanence have been effectively countered in the holy literature.  The Vedic books tell us that running behind happiness in this world is akin to running behind mirage in the desert.  Once we start utilizing our intelligence and start scrutinizing the false claims of “Maya Times” then we would find that how we have been fooled.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Is my brain my enemy?




“My brain is my enemy,” wrote Telugu news anchor V Radhika Reddy before jumping from the fifth floor of a residential complex in Hyderabad.

Mind is the engine which gives direction to our lives. And if our mind is not in control then our life will go out of control. As the body needs food similarly mind needs food for proper functioning. Not just any kind of food but healthy food. If we put junk food in our body then we would get sick similarly if the mind is not given healthy food then it will become sick making our life miserable.
Our mind absorbs anything and everything we see or we hear or we speak about. The people with whom we associate, the surroundings where we live, the movies we see, the books, the magazines, the newspapers we read, the songs we hear affects our mind. So we need to carefully observe if our activity is spoiling our mind or is elevating our consciousness. 

It is true that sometimes circumstances makes our life miserable but even in those despondent situation if we choose the right path then gradually despair will disappear and happiness will reappear.

In Bhagavad Gita 6.6. Krishna says, “For him who has conquered the mind, the mind is the best of friends; but for one who has failed to do so, his mind will remain the greatest enemy.”  To make our mind our best friend we need to constantly associate with our ever well-wishing friend Krishna by chanting his holy names, reading the wisdom words of Vedic literatures such as Bhagavad Gita and associating with holy sages. This will inundate our mind with Krishna Conscious thoughts and will drive away all evil thoughts. And then our mind or our brain will never be our enemy but will become our trustworthy friend.


Monday, April 2, 2018

Make Every Day a Holy Day




After 3 days holiday, thanks to Good Friday, we have to again pull our socks and get back to work. But whether two days or three days, Monday is always a tough day. After the weekend, going to office, opening the laptop, reading the mails, attending unending conference calls, meeting the deadline looks so taxing and so boring.  But whether we like it or not, we have to go.

As a fresher when we join the company then we are so enthusiastic to go to office and do our work. I remember I always used to think why do we have weekends, I eagerly waited for Monday and happily used to go to office. But eventually the enthusiasm disappears, work instead of giving joy just becomes a duty. We do our work just for the sake of doing it.

But why does it happen? It is because money, power and position is most of the time the motivating factor for any work we take up. Money can give us undoubtedly some comfort but will not satisfy our heart. And since our heart does not feel pleasure so work eventually start giving us pain.
But when we work for the higher goals, if the purpose is to serve, to bring joy in other’s heart then we tolerate any pains without any complaint. In fact we will not hesitate to work for even 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. It so happens because our work gives us pleasure and we love to work which pleases our heart.

Gita’s principles teaches us how to work for higher purpose, how to serve others through our work and how to worship Krishna with our work.  Arjuna kept Krishna always in the center and fought the battle heroically and enthusiastically.  In Bhagavad Gita 9.27, Krishna says whatever you do should be done as an offering to me. Similarly, if we work as per Bhagavad Gita’s guidelines for the betterment of society then our work will become a pleasurable experience and we can offer the fruits of our work to Krishna. And then everyday will become Holy Day including Monday!




Friday, January 19, 2018

Mayapur – Where every word is a song and every step a dance




The stars are still smiling in the sky, the birds are still sleeping in their nests, the big trees and the small plants are curiously looking around enjoying the spectacle, the water in the nearby Ganges are resting peacefully, the cool breeze is singing shyly occasionally touching the sacred river gently and immediately racing to catch up with the devotees who are quickly walking towards the temple.  Men, women, children walk briskly lest they miss the momentous opportunity.  When clock calls 4:30 a.m., pujari blows the conchshell reverentially and opens the gigantic curtain hurriedly. Hundreds of devotees raise their arms in jubilation when Sri Sri Radha Madhav along with eight gopis and Panca Tattva appears to enjoy the celebration.  Their looks are from the spiritual sky, they are always full of smile, their stunning glance give devotees immense joy.

When Prabhupada cried
The year was 1971, it was the time when Srila Prabhupada still walked on the planet earth. Mayapur is a special land because here is Lord Chaitanya’s sacred home.  Prabhupada had a mega plan - “Let us build a magnificent temple in Mayapur. Let people from all over the world congregate here to chant Krishna’s holy name.”  Muslim Sek brothers with great difficulty finally agreed to offer a piece of land. “Let us not waste even a single moment. Let us all work together to develop Chaitanya’s land.” Prabhupada’s clarion call spread far and wide. Without any delay devotees marched towards Mayapur. To construct a beautiful world class spiritual center was their vision and to work hard in any situation and condition was their mission.


The initial years were the toughest years. Electricity was a rarity, clean water a luxury, cooking an austerity. Storms and rains often sullied the land. Snakes and scorpions enjoyed the muddy land. Prabhupada appreciated the monumental efforts. He called Bhavananda one night and suddenly began crying to Bhavananda’s surprise. "I know it is difficult for all you Western boys and girls…..I know you cannot even get prasadam. When I think that you cannot even get milk and that you have given up your opulent life to come here and you do not complain, I am very much indebted to all of you." Srila Prabhupada Lilamrita Chapter 42: Developing Mayapur. But he continued elevating devotees spirit, “Mayapur is so wonderful. You can live on the air and water alone.”


The First Gaur Purnima Festival                                
                           
29 Feb, 1972 was a historic day, the first Gaur Purnima festival in the upcoming center was celebrated on this auspicious day. Devotees from everywhere had assembled here to participate in this mega fest. The five day festival featured several programs. Non - stop Hare Krishna song continued day and night, spiritual discourse touched the core of every soul,  devotees danced through the spiritual lanes and stopped at many sacred sites  – they embraced the neem tree under which Mahabrabhu appeared, meditated on the samadhi of Chand Kazi who got Mahaprabhu’s grace, danced in the courtyard of Srivasa Angan where Lord danced dusk to dawn.

Let it be the spiritual capital

“Let Mayapur be the spiritual capital of the world,” Prabhupada  boldly declared. Let people far and wide across the ocean across the continents sing in chorus the glories of Chaitanya’s name. Let all land in this holy land to enjoy the bliss of the holy name. “Let us all install here life size deities of Panca tattva,” again Prabhupada demanded. Lest his dream be a wishful thinking devotees began looking for the artisans good enough, devoted enough to carve the deities in their heart. The search began in 1999, the fortunate artisans of Kumbakonam, Tamil Nadu, were the gifted souls.  Panca Tattva is about to manifest, the wind carried the news far and wide. With dedication the work began in 2002 and seeing devotees devotion the Lord agreed to manifest in the metal form. The eight metals - copper, brass, tin, lead, iron, gold, silver, steel- were mixed in right proportion so that each of the deity gets their specific complexion. Lord Chaitanya, of course, has golden complexion. 





Panca Tattva appears
Devotees numbering thousands waited with bated breath for the arrival of deities in Mayapur. At dawn their hopes soured high and at dusk their hopes did not die. They called the name of Gauranga in unison and Mahaprabhu finally arrived to join the celebration. 21st, 22nd  and 23rd of Feb 2004 were the most auspicious days.  These 72 hours were the memorable moments. No one spoke everyone sang. No one walked everyone danced. No one slept everyone wept when the 7 feet tall magnificent deities each weighing about 3 tons were installed on the majestic altar. The guidelines of pancartrika literature guided Panca tattva installation -  the sense organs and the limbs of the deities were invoked, prana pratista ceremony ceremoniously invoked Lord’s divine presence, sacred water with sacred substances relentlessly rained to bathe the Lord during maha – abhishek.
Anxiously everyone inquired, “Where is the Lord?” Suddenly the priest heard the pleas and flung open the gigantic curtain. “The Lord is here.” Everyone cried in chorus. Panca tattva had appeared. Their glance enhanced everyone’s emotion. Devotees failed to hide their devotion. It’s not an exaggeration, devotees danced in utter jubilation. Tears and Krishna’s song complimented the celebration.

Prophecy comes true
Panca Tattva on the altar looks magnificent.  Lord Chaitanya blissfully stands in the middle, with long raised arms he invites anyone and everyone to chant Krishna’s name. Nityananda on his right, Gadadhara on his left welcomes all to the sankirtana land.  Advaita Acharya standing  far right is full of compassion and Srivasa Thakura standing far left is paragon of devotion.
Nityananda is not an ordinary soul, he is the plenary expansion of the Supersoul. 500 years back he uttered the auspicious words, “eka adbhuta mandira ei haibe prakasa/gaurangera nitya-seva haibe vikasa.” - An astounding temple will appear and will engage the entire world in the eternal service of Lord Chaitanya. (Sri Navadvipa-Mahatmya, Parikrama Khanda, Chapter 4).

This prediction has now come true. Mayapur has one of the most beautiful temples of the world.  300 foot high upcoming Temple Of Vedic Planetarium which is going to be world’s one of the tallest temple is soon to manifest in Mayapur. This will  further enhance the beauty of the beautiful land, glories of the glorious land. 



Circumambulating the magical land
Millions of devotees from everywhere of different colour and different faith long to come to Mayapur to bathe in the dust of magical land. Navadvipa Mandala Parikrama has become a mega fair.   Celebrated during Gaur Purnima festival, more than 10000 devotees with much expectation come here to cleanse their hearts of all imperfections. Dawn to dusk they dance through the sacred land, occasionally stop to hear the glories of that specific place and immediately march ahead to next destination.  Night they spend in makeshift tent houses. Throughout the day they walk for several kilometers, in total they cover around 80 km, they continuously sing “Hare Krishna” song accompanied with mridanga and kartal.





Longing to live in Chaitanya’s land
A person without vision cry confidently that stone and diamond are one and same. A person without any devotion cry in confusion, “What is so great about this ordinary land.” Mayapur is not just any land. The dust here has immense potency as it has drunk Chaitanya’s mercy. The wind having witnessed wonderful pastimes sings with joy the song of spiritual sky. Here every word becomes a song and every step a dance. Lord Chaitanya is not a simple soul, he is indeed the Supersoul. His glories are sung in sacred scriptures.  Nrsimha Purana confidently declares, "The Supreme Personality of Godhead who in the Satya-Yuga appeared as a half-man, half-lion to cure a terrible disease that had ravaged the daityas, and who in the Treta-Yuga appeared as a person named Rama [Lord Ramachandra], the person who defeated the ten-headed Demon Ravana, and who in the Dvapara-Yuga removed the earth's burden, and protected the Gopa [cowherd men] people of Vraja-pura, will appear again in the Kali-Yuga. His form will be golden, He will delight in chanting the Lord's holy names, and His name will be Chaitanya."
When will the day come when I too will dance in the dust of this magical land, sing Hare Krishna in this mystical land, long to live in Chaitany’s land!
Reference: Srila Prabhupada lilamrta

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Mayapur Memories


At sharp 4:30 a.m. the conch shell blew first at the panca tattva hall and then at Sri Sri Radha Madhava hall.  The gigantic curtains were slid and Srimati Radharani in her whitish complexion and Sri Madhav in his blackish complexion surrounded by asta sakhis – 8 principal gopis - appeared in front of us. They were colourfully dressed and decorated with flowers and ornaments. Sri Sri Radha Madhav with their big eyes were looking at us and seeing the temple hall which was filled by thousands of devotees had a broad smile on their lips. The pujari began the arati and one devotee started singing  Sri Sri Gurvastakam prayer  and other devotees repeated after him in rhythm.  Pujari was very carefully worshipping the Lord. He first offered incense and then ghell lamp to the deities. After that the deities were bathed with scented water and then dried using a cloth. After this fresh colourful flowers were offered and at the last using a chamar the Lord was fanned.

Men and women, rich and poor, young and old, Indians and non Indians, so called upper caste and lower caste, Hindus and non Hindus all had congregated. They had forgotten their  material designations and were together singing happily and loudly the prayers and the Hare Krishna Mahamantra from the core of their heart to please the Lord. Once the arati was completed the curtains of the altar of Sri Sri Radha Madhava were closed and simulatanesouly the curtain of the altar of Lord Narasimhadeva opened. The pujari whorshipped Nrsimhadeva and devotees sang Narsimha arati. After Narsimha arati there was tulasi arati followed by Sistastakam prayers followed by few announcements from the temple management.

 The mats were then quickly spread in the temple hall and devotees sat together to chant the Hare Krishna Mahamantra.  Srila Prabhupada always advised to practice devotion in association. While chanting I observed that just by seeing the seriousess and enthusiasm of fellow devotees we too try to chant sincerely.

We had to leave for Lord Jagannath temple which is in Rajapur. This temple is very dear to me as I got married there. It is always a great privilege to take darshan of Lord Jagannath, Lord Baladeva and Subhadra Devi here because in front of them me and my wife took our marriage vows and it is because of their blessings are our marriage is successfully continuing.

This temple is also associated with many pastimes. Devotees performed 3 dramas here. I too participated, I was given the role of Lord Jagannath. It was a spontaneous drama, we prepared just 10 minutes before performing.  One drama was about Lord Jagannath coming out of the altar, climbing the tree to eat jackfruit. Another was when Lord Baladeva slaps a person who was trying to steal ornaments of Lord Jagannath. The third drama was about a non Hindu girl who disrespectfully throws away Jagannath’s prasad. Later in the night she is punished by Baladeva and Subhadra. The girl is paralysed.  The father of the girl comes in the morning carrying a basket of fruits to offer to Jagannath and wanted to take the prasad to give to her daughter.  Devotees say that still the girl comes with her family members to take darshan of the Lord and she now respectfully takes prasad.

Drama was the best way to explain the pastime to the new devotees. We then left for Yogapitha, the birth place of Lord Chaitanya. After taking darshan we returned to Mayapur temple for breakfast prasadam. We then went to Gurukul to see how young children from different parts of the world stay together in a traditional environment to learn Vedic scriptures.  In fact a separate article could be written on the Gurukul experience, I will try to write something about that experience.

Today evening in the temple there will be Krishna Conscious party on the eve of New Year which will go upto 12. I too hope to participate.  But again I do not want to miss the morning Mangala Arati at 4:30 a.m. tomorrow.