The Rainy Day

I still remember that small town in middle of Germany where we parked our car. The town was indeed very small and on top of that we had already days and days of rain pouring down on our water soaked books and bodies.

Getting sick, I chanted in the hotel my rounds in a dizzy type of condition, trying to get my feverish mind under control. Finally arriving in the middle of the town I watched the devotees getting out of the car, with great roar and determination once again ready to push Srila Prabhupadas books into the laps of the stubborn and obstinate (German:-) conditioned souls.

I decided to stay back for little while, hoping that the fever will somewhat be reduced during the day. But after few minutes sitting in an empty cold van, I could see the first karmis passing by the condensate water covered windows of the car I was imprisoned in. The sight became intolerable. read more

The Prabhupada Marathon

Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur used to say, “The only lack in society is Krsna consciousness.” Krishna consciousness is the greatest need everywhere, and there is no better place to get it than from Srila Prabhupada’s books. This is why part-time and fulltime distributors – and devotees who never distributed books — will increase or start their service of book distribution all over the world during the Prabhupada Marathon in December.

In a lecture that Srila Prabhupada gave, while speaking about the importance of preaching, he said, “Krsna is feeling a little pain; therefore yada yada hi dharmasya.” He feels pain, knowing that His parts and parcels are suffering, and therefore He comes to help us.

Recently, a medical magazine stated, “Stress is the Black Plague of the 21st century.” I’ve had students almost in tears in front of me, because they’re under so much stress. We have no idea how much people are suffering. If we don’t help them, who will? No one else is giving pure knowledge of the soul, of God, and of the process that will bring the soul and Krsna into a loving relationship. We have a treasure house of knowledge, and Lord Caitanya is the one who came and broke open the storehouse of love of God. read more

The Vedic Root of the Western Religious Tradition

In any standard religion, including the great faiths of the West, elements of karma, jnana and bhakti can be found. When these three are not kept separate but are allowed to commingle, that is called viddha-bhakti, polluted devotion. The viddha-bhaktas worship God—unquestionably an act of devotion—but the goal of their worship is influenced by the karmi and jnani ideals of salvation: “heaven” and “liberation.” On the path of suddha-bhakti, pure devotion, these imperfect goals drop away.1

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jnana-karmady-anavrtam read more

Love versus Lust

I never promised you a rose garden. –Joe South. In the material world, especially among young girls, the hope prevails that marriage will be a pleasurable affair and that the pleasure will never end.  “Happily ever after” is a favorite phrase at the end of practically every romantic fairy tale.  The reality is, however, that although pleasures exist in married life, those pleasures are intermittent and short-lived.  Because this is the world of dualities, the pleasures of married life are offset by pain.  This is the arrangement of the all-merciful Lord.

Such pain manifests in different forms.  Besides the pains of old age, disease and death, most couples have children.  Thus, not only the woman but also the man experiences the pain of childbirth.  The woman directly experiences the discomforts of pregnancy, labor and delivery, while the man experiences the lifelong responsibility of having to figure out how to provide for, protect, and educate his child(ren).  Father and mother also both experience anxiety on behalf of their children when the children suffer, and suffer they must.  This world is a place of suffering: dukhalayam asasvatam.  Man and wife also experience the pain of being misunderstood by each other (married life is fraught with misunderstandings because man and woman think, feel and communicate differently), the pain of being falsely accused, the pain of embarrassment at having disappointed one’s spouse, or feeling the pain of our spouse when he or she is unhappy or frustrated, sick or hurt.  

There is usually a strong sexual attraction between husband and wife in the beginning of their marriage which tends to cover over the couple’s perception of the fact that life in the material world is miserable.  This intensity of attraction for each other can be misperceived as love, but it is actually a form of lust.  Aspiring Vaisnavas who enter into marriage generally experience this strong sexual attraction for their spouse, just as non-Vaisnavas do.  Even though Vaisnavas are philosophically aware that they are not their bodies, that marriage is ultimately meant for giving up sex, that sex is meant only for procreation and that Krsna, not our spouse, is the ultimate object of adoration, still, when aspiring devotees are newly married, they usually experience this intense feeling of attraction for one another. read more

Why did Lord Rama kill Vali?

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This question is a concern to many people nowadays, to both those who believe and those who do not believe in Vedic history: Why did Lord Rama kill Vali, with whom He had no conflict, and moreover, why did He do so while hiding behind a tree?

Most of the believers know that Lord Rama is sinless, spotless, and blameless. But because they lack sufficient knowledge of the sastras, they cannot answer this question satisfactorily, neither to others nor even to themselves. Taking advantage of this situation, the nonbelievers happily (in fact: foolishly) conclude that Lord Rama, Bhagavan, is not good. But that conclusion is contradictory, for the very definition of God establishes that He is perfect, all-powerful, the well-wisher of all, and thus always good. So why should one blame Him? How to resolve this puzzle? read more

Aitihya—Tradition as Authority (part 2)

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Aitihya—Tradition as Authority (part 2)

II.

    The word “aitihya” is eternal; it is found in the Veda-sruti (Taittiriya Aranyaka). The Amara-kosa (1.6.4) defines it as a “prior occurance” (pura-vrttam), explained by commentators as the instructions of tradition (iti-ha iti paramparyopadese ’vyayam). Thus, modern lexicographers tell us it derives from “iti-ha,” an indeclinable literally translating as “thus indeed,” “according to tradition,” and so on. Perhaps its best known form is, “iti-hasa” (“It occurred thus”), the name given by Srimad-Bhagavatam and other sastras for the gamut of ancient historical accounts, legends, traditions, and cultural lore. The Itihasas are generally deemed to consist of the Puranas and especially both epics, Ramayana and Mahabharata. Speculative historian Romila Thapar explains (1978: 256), “The Itihasa–purana tradition had three main constituents—myth, geneology, and historical narrative.” read more

Rethinking Varnasrama

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Rethinking Varṇāśrama

How changing our current thinking on the utility of varṇāśrama-dharma can reconnect it with ISKCON’s overall preaching mission and solve some of ISKCON’s most troubling social problems.

by Krishna-kirti das, 9/30/2013 read more