From fear to hope, Ushering a new era of change

One day after giving a lecture I was sitting on a wooden bench under a Kadamba tree in the forest, watching a butterfly.It looked such a beautiful creation of God. She was drinking nectar from flower to flower and I was chanting my mantra. “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare” very softly and very peacefully. I felt a million miles away from the city of Mumbai. Suddenly through the iron gates three of our students ran after me. I can practically hear their hearts pounding. One of them told me that this student was just riding in a train and there was a bomb blast. He saw some bodies hanging with blood streaming.  There were businessmen and laborers. There were women running with little babies screaming and crying. There were also beggars. There was no differentiation. As they were speaking and explaining this to me, I got a phone call. I ran upstairs and answered. He was one of the leaders of Bhaktivedanta Hospital. He said, “You should see the scene here”. It is horrible. Practically every minute, bodies are being brought in by ambulances, by rickshaws, on people’s backs. All our beds are full and practically the entire floor space of the Hospital every inch is covered with whether injured or dead bodies. This was July eleventh 2006. It was announced officially that 209 people died and about 700 were injured. Thousands of people lost loved ones and millions were terrorized. There were seven blasts in seven trains in a matter of eleven minutes. I reflected and remembered the... read more

Anger Management

There are at least 300 books available at your online bookseller dealing with anger. Many of themjust contain pop-culture variety of self-help advice on the dangers of uncontrolled anger. Anger is just one letter short of danger as these experts remind us. Lord Krishna, in the very beginning of the Gita encourages Arjuna to control anger and praises someone who has successfully done it as “a sage of steady mind.” It is quite natural to see many people today disbelieving in religion due to so many speculative theories spread by so-called scholars. These so called leaders take to the shelter of some kind of intoxication, and their affective hallucinations are sometimes accepted as spiritual vision. And after some time the dis illusioned followers become very angry at almost every kind of faith because they got cheated. Another important point about anger is that it is a pollutant. Srila Prabhupada says, “Even if there is provocation one should be tolerant; for once one becomes angry his whole body becomes polluted. Anger is a product of the mode of passion and lust, so one who is transcendentally situated should check himself from anger.” And at the same time it is important for a warrior like Arjuna to exhibit anger while fighting, because one cannot fight without becoming angry. In fact in the beginning of the discourse Arjuna refuses to go to war claiming pity for his opposition and is willing to accept the lowly position of a beggar. During the course of the dialogue Krishna explains that running away is never a good solution because once the battle begins the mode... read more

Dying to Live

The German philosopher Hegel spoke very strongly of the principle “Die to live” which is very much in harmony with the essential knowledge of the Bhagavad-Gita and the Vedas. Die to live – if you want to live in truth, you will have to die as you are in your present state of consciousness. Material illusory consciousness is one of exploitation, and real consciousness of the soul is a consciousness of service. Death to the ego is a process; it is the most important process that it is the very basis of all spiritual paths. Just like purifying gold. When you put gold in fire, the fire burns away all the gross coverings, and the longer the gold is in fire, the more its original, natural shine manifests. It becomes more and more and more beautiful. Sandalwood is another example – the more you press sandalwood or rub sandalwood, the more its natural, beautiful fragrance is manifested.  From one point of view, we can understand that theoretically we are the eternal soul, part of God. We are eternal servants of God. However, in our life and in the process of purification, in the process of making actual progress, there will be many challenges and obstacles that are threatening and fighting against the principle of what we want to achieve. However, if we, with proper integrity and proper spiritual direction, pass through those obstacles, they bring about realization. There is theoretical knowledge and through the process of overcoming so many obstacles on the path, we develop realization. In order to make progress on the spiritual path, in order to properly... read more

Of Jedi Knights and Santoshi Mata

The 1977 movie Star Wars IV: A New Hope mentioned the Jedi knights for the first time, and they were instantly popular. They have remained the central theme of subsequent movies as well as novels and games based on that franchise. Although these knights are entirely fictional, it seems that their creator, George Lucas, has based them on a hodgepodge of religious perspectives. The movie franchises were spectacularly successful and thus now you have a group of fans calling themselves followers of Jedi-ism. With the arrival of the internet, this new religion got to spread rapidly and now has thousands of followers. Followers acknowledge the movies as fiction but recognize religious truths in various statements made throughout them, specifically those referring to the Jedi and the Force. If the West can create a new religion from Hollywood, should Bollywood be left behind? Certainly not! A whole two years before Star Wars, Bollywood launched the career of a new goddess —SantoshiMaa! Many do not bother at all that her story has no scriptural basis whatsoever! This new goddess has remained popular. This may be the first time that a new divine personality, her story, her rites and rituals (vrata) and the perceived benefits of becoming her devotee — all of these are derived from the movie script alone! Let us try to understand what drives a person to this kind of worship. We all have a particular type of faith. Now who is to decide whether this faith is good or bad? Kåñëa Kåñëa explains in the Bhagavad-gétä that one’s faith is considered good, passionate or ignorant according to one’s... read more

Where Friendly Talks Failed

At a particularly important point in his life, Arjuna decided that his friendship with Kåñëa was  actually causing him a lot of problems. Of course, the problem was not of Kåñëa’s doing. It was Arjuna who was not able to derive  proper advantage of being so close to Kåñëa. Arjuna was shirking his duty as a warrior. Even though the Päëòavas were wronged and this was a just fight, he was overwhelmed with compassion when he saw all the assembled soldiers on both sides. Lord Kåñëa tried to pacify Arjuna and encouraged him to regain his composure, but in the end Arjuna simply cast aside his weapons and held his  head in grief. If both of them were such close friends, why was Kåñëa smiling when Arjuna was in such distress? This is one of the pivotal  moments of this divine narration, Bhagavad Gita. A child, for example, may be crying in distress, but the father is in complete knowledge of the situation and is therefore quite composed. This simple everyday event throws light on the foundations of Vedic culture – the guru-çiñya relationship. The guru-çiñya (teacher-student) relationship in spiritual life is slightly different from its counterpart in the material world. In our mundane world, the student may have no reverence for his teacher, and it perhaps does not matter. But in spiritual matters, the disciple has to very carefully choose his spiritual master, and the spiritual master in turn has to impart knowledge to a competent disciple. Arjuna’s objections in the first chapter of the Bhagavad-gétä were not successful in  gaining transcendental knowledge. But by  rejecting even an... read more

Four Sobering Thoughts on PK

These are the four most prominent objections raised by the movie PK, and we have tried to address them: 1.PK says it is OK to deride Vedic gods. Poking fun at Vedic gods and goddesses:The Vedas teach that our material world is produced from intelligence.There is a concrete plan behind it. Vedic vision organizes all meaning andinformation in the universe into a hierarchy of consciousness and control.Living entities known as devas or demigods, direct all the activities ofmaterial nature. Far more advanced than us humans these devas reside ontheir own planets in the universe, with facilities, life spans, andpleasures far exceeding what humans can conceive of. Among the demigodgroups there are gradations of power and control. Some devas controlrelatively minute functions of nature, and some have massive portfolios.They have upadevas (sub-demigods) and many others under them too.“Who has seen the devas?”is the modern challenge. The Vedic reply wouldbe “Who today has the qualification to see?” Uniformity of observationalcapacity is never assumed in the Vedas. Knowledge, information isstate-specific; hence, the necessity of both acquiring the correct trainingand living the prescribed life style. Only then, is real knowledge revealed.In the present, Kali-yuga, the Age of Quarrel and Hypocrisy,the devas are notvisible due to the degradation of human beings and thus they keep themselvesout of human perception. 2. PK does not tell us the science behind Deity-worship. The confusion created by Vedas telling us to worship stone idolsThe Vedas teach that whatever we see is energy. And this energy has itssource, the Supreme Energetic One, or God. In the Bhagavad-gétäLord Kåñëa explains how everything is manifested from His own energy. Therefore whenGod... read more
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