385. The demigods also respects

A nice class this morning detailing out the respects paid by 3 important personalities when they hear about the arrival of Lord Krishna to this world.

Srimad Bhagavatam Class: 10.02.25
Bhaktini Aruna Mataji
Sri Sri Radha Gopinath Mandir, North Sydney
16.07.2017

The arrival of demigods to see the birth of Lord Krishna, is like the baby shower of these days. Who better than highest of demigods to welcome Him to this world?Goloka Vrindhavana, Vaikuntha planets and this material world are all His properties. He is the Supreme. Hence, demigods like Lord Brahma & Lord Shiva are there to pay their respects.

Lord Brahma in one of his prayers at another time asks for Lord’s mercy, ask for help to not be contaminated by ego and for His sweet advice. Similarly, our mood should also be like this – always relying on Krishna. In another pastime of his cow and cowherd devotees stealing, he says that there are many people out there who knows everything about Krishna but he himself doesn’t. So, what is our status? In another pastime, Lord Brahma was amazed to know that there were so many Brahmas who had come to see Krishna, he was just another small one. Krishna tells him that he has only 4 heads because his particular universe is only 4 billion miles long!

Lord Shiva is also an important personality and is in charge of destruction in the material world. He is but a transformation of the primeval lord and considered as the highest Vaishnava. Our approach to him should be of this understanding and that he is not an independent supreme lord. Lord Shiva himself addresses Krishna as the Supreme-most being. In another instance, he praises the beauty of Sri Krishna.

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Narada muni was also there. He is always chanting, “Om Namo Narayana”. In his past life, he had heard of sweet pastimes of the Lord from the Bhaktivedantas. When he left home as a child in search of the Lord, he had a very brief glimpse of the Lord in the forest. Later the Lord tells him that this brief audience was only to increase his longing and eagerness of the Lord. The darshan of the Lord is only by His mercy. Even in our lives, we only have a brief audience of the Lord at the temple after which we leave for the material lifestyle.

Our purpose is only to long for Krishna. Everything else like beautiful home or husband or wife or job is not the primary goal. When we are in front of the Deity, we shouldn’t be asking for things but only offer prayers to please Him.

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384. Kamsa’s absorption

Srimad Bhagavatam Class Notes: 10.02.23-24

HG Abhishek Prabhu

North Sydney temple

15.07.2017

Kamsa was stricken with fear. He waited so many years for the 8th child to be born. All his moments were taken up, anticipating the arrival of Krishna. His fear had gone to that extent where he thought of killing his own sister instead of waiting. It was his natural option but he completely refrained from it. He felt the consequences would be too severe. In the pages of history, we see such carnage where one side would kill the family (children & pregnant women too) so that no lineages exist of the defeated army.

In our constant effort to push things to ourselves and pull away from things we don’t like, a living entity is in constant fear. This happens when one has turned away from Krishna. When one feels sheltered, he is satisfied. When one is absorbed in duality, he becomes covered. In BG, it’s compared to an embryo in the womb, totally covered. When one is deeply covered or in the mode of ignorance, he considers irreligious to be religious. Arjuna was very clear what he had to do on the war front due to advice of Lord Krishna. For such a person, their intelligence becomes very clear.

But Kamsa did not have this intelligence. He had no shelter of Krishna. We often find children who has had no proper parental shelter constantly look for a shelter. They feel a loss of identity and duty. In Vedic culture, there was an understanding that one’s strength (especially mental) comes from purity & dharma. Kamsa was very physically powerful and conquered many in the universe. Yet he had no mental strength.

When you are in a leadership position, one becomes isolated in someway because the decision he takes could be harmful or perceived to be harmful. This leads to people staying away from that person. Such an isolation is like death. But Krishna is such a leader that people long to name their children after Him. But, look at the case of incredibly dangerous dictators. Their name, activities and thoughts are pretty much banned from society. Think about the ill will on such people.

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Kamsa was always engaged in unfavourable thoughts of Krishna in whatever he did, whether he be sitting, walking etc. He couldn’t see but Krishna everywhere. Although he was in total mood of absorption, unfortunately it was in enmity. Pure devotees of the Lord are also always thinking of Krishna but favourably. They have the mascara of love smearing the eyes of Krishna. Srila Prabhupada would see Krishna and preaching opportunities in everything he saw around him.

If children are raised with Bhakti in their hearts, then you can be confident to let them go. Even if a devotee is now seen engaged in sense gratification, there is always a chance of  a U-turn in his consciousness where he realises his mistakes and the time he has wasted. As parents, we cannot guarantee that the child will become a devotee immediately. But what can be done is to share Krishna bhakti with them in their younger years so that they can turn towards this lifestyle & education at some stage of their lives, even if you may not live to see it.

Science tries to reduce everything to physical principles with no acceptance of God and the divine diversity of life & emotions. Such a life is a waste of human life.

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381. HH Bhakti Vikas Swami Vyasa-Puja day

Today was nice. I didn’t realise that the Vyasa puja celebration (appearance day/birthday) of His Holiness Bhakti Vikas swami was being celebrated at the Sydney temple at noon. My plan was to finish my morning service, attend the bhagavatam class, have a full breakfast 🙂 , finish my rounds and head home. As i had started my day at 2:30 AM, by the time i reach home at 2:30 PM, i would have covered 12 hrs already. But as i read the morning verse on the whiteboard, i noticed on the corner a message that there would be the observing of the Vyasa puja today at 1PM. Obviously, my plan changed – i would stay.

i love Vyasa pujas. Sitting with other devotees and hearing the glories of their chosen spiritual master, their personal realisations and engagement with him, often gets my throat choked. Many times, i have seen devotees cry and unable to speak. Having a spiritual master is the most wonderful thing that can happen in one’s life – infact it is a part of life’s perfection. A spiritual master is a representation of the Supreme Lord, who holds your hand and takes you closer to Lord Krishna, step by step, service by service, advice by advice. The relationship is completely spiritual and one that is eternal. When the student is sincere in his search for his relationship with the Lord, providence arranges for him to meet his spiritual master. As they say, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear”.

His Holiness Bhakti Vikas Swami is a disciple of Srila Prabhupada, Founder-Acharya of the International Society of Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) or the Hare Krishna movement. Originally from England, he became an initiated disciple of Srila Prabhupada in 1975. You can read more about him on his website here – http://www.bvks.com/about/his_holiness/biography/

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His Holiness Bhakti Vikas Swami (image from http://www.bvks.com)

I remember seeing him for the first time in Mayapur (West Bengal, India), on 11 April 2010, when he was giving initiations along with His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami, HH Jayapataka Swami and HH Bhakti Vaibhava Swami. I had written an article about that visit to Mayapur then – here it is: article # 196. What stood out for me then was his fluency over the Bengali language. It had the local crowd enthralled! HH Bhakti Swami who was translating for him jokingly said to the crowd, “Swami has got an English body and a Bengali heart!” and that he himself was a Bengali speaking in English 🙂 The next day when i was exiting my pilgrimage trip to Yogapith (birthplace of lord Chaitanya), he was entering the same compound. Someone told me that he was out on a parikrama. He looked very serious and determined on that walk, i remember.

Anyway, at the temple today, few young devotees and few visitors had gathered in front of his photo. We had kirtan, offered bhoga, chanted the prayers and did pushpanjali (offering of flowers) also.

His only disciple here i think, His Grace Prem Sagar prabhu managed to put this all together. He had only just come to Australia in Feb 2017 but his humble nature, ready smile, hard work at the kitchen has earned him a lot of friendships. The feast that he put for all of us was one of the best i have ever had!! There must have been atleast 20 preparations!

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Prem Sagar Prabhu – a disciple and a cook!

He was telling me with great enthusiasm how he came under the care of his spiritual master, HH Bhakti Vikas Swami, some 10-11 years ago:

I was working in Mumbai and staying with other friends. I have a nature where I cannot sleep more than 4-5 hours at a stretch and then I need to take a break from my sleep! One such night, i had woken up and decided to watch T.V. Casually, I tuned into ATMA TV where there was a program from ISKCON. It was a lecture given my a caucasian but speaking in fluent Hindi!! I was surprised because I had never met an English speaking citizen speak an Indian language like that. It was Bhakti Vikas Swami delivering the talk on TV. I listened with great delight and at the end, they had mentioned in the credits that he was at ISKCON Juhu (Mumbai). So, I tried to visit him a few times but always missed him. Later I went to the Dubai and decided to go the ISKCON program there and to my surprise, he was there! After a long wait, I managed to have a darshan (personal audience) with him and we connected right away! He asked where I was from originally in India and I said Bengal and I was surprised once again when he now spoke in Bengali!!! Then later on I had the opportunity to serve him via cooking as I am a Chef by profession. Then in 2006, he initiated me. When I came to Australia, I was thinking how I can honour the Vyasa puja of my spiritual master especially when I have no other God family. But Ghanashyam Brahmacari (a temple resident) helped me much in getting it all together and with all your mercy, I feel it was a success!

We think so – below is what he had made for his spiritual master and for us, the hungry lot!

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Pasta salad, Pasta in tomato sauce, biriyani, Bengali Jackfruit curry, roasted plantain dishes, raita, bean dishes, daal, sweet rice, cabbage curry, potato and cauliflower subji and so many others which i don’t know!

What always comes out in a Vyasa Puja is the love of the disciples towards their spiritual master. It was no different today. As we heard him speak and the effort he put into the feast preparation, we could easily gather that his soul was satisfied. Thank you dear Prem Sagar prabhu!

Below is a short video of the offering of the flowers to the photo of HH Bhakti Vikas Swami.


Prem Sagar prabhu ki jaya! His holiness Bhakti Vikas Swami ki jaya! His Divine Grace Bhaktivedanta Swami ki kaya! ISKCON ki Jaya!

374. When only one is ready

Today, Sri Prahlad prabhu gave the Sunday morning Srimad Bhagavatam talk from Canto 9, Chapter 19 (King Yayati achieves Liberation), verse 20.

In this verse, King Yayati is explaining to his wife the futility of pursuing material happiness. As a part of the royal family, they had ample resources to enjoy for a long time. Having taken youth from his son, the King was able to enjoy the vigour of his body as much as he wanted. However, as time passed, he gradually realised that it was a shallow life he was leading and was in no way as as deep as those in spiritual life. It seems his wife was concerned that she will not be able to enjoy her husband anymore as he will need to return his powerful youth back to his son and accept the invalidity of old age he acquired as a part of the curse. Perhaps, she was not ready to accept the austerity of a renounced life and maybe wanted to enjoy a bit more. Infact, King Yayati was also in the same stage when he begged/ordered his son to swap his old age for his son’s youth – the king had wanted to enjoy a lot longer.

So, that situation got me thinking. What happens when one of the partner is ready to take up to the higher levels of spiritual practice but the other is not.
– Should the advanced person wait for the other to catchup?
– Should the person prioritise his/her own life and goals over the other?

In the Varnashrama system, a person is allowed to gradually evolve to a higher state of realisation while pursuing disciplined/regulated material obligations and desires. But our acharyas also say that if one need not wait to take up devotional service – it can be taken and perfected immediately. So, how do you reconcile the two? I decided to ask the speaker himself after the class and below is his recorded answer:

Overall conclusion: For the general mass of devotionally inclined people or devotees, its better to gradually evolve rather than a premature jump and a fall. Providing mental support + spiritual support + material support to one another is very important in a relationship. Daivi-Varnashrama system allows devotees to go through the 4 stages of spiritual development while devoting one’s actions & results to Lord Krishna. This way it’s not only gradual but also renounced. When the time is right and with proper guidance and contemplation, one can then fully devote his/her energy to the service of the Lord with no further distractions or conflicts – either together or separate.

 

 

373. Pride

In a world characterised by the feverish need to succeed, it’s not that difficult to see the growth of pride in one’s character. The dictionary defines pride as follows:

noun
a feeling of deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one’s own achievements, the achievements of one’s close associates, or from qualities or possessions that are widely admired.

When one is intoxicated with one’s material or even spiritual achievements, the next phase is a fall down. This is because, to be the centre of power or the ultimate controller or enjoyer is a difficult position for the conditioned living entity to manage. This is something only the Supreme Lord can manage well without being contaminated. When we are proud, we strongly identify with our false ego & our body. We imagine us to be better than anyone else and stronger than all those around us. This leads one to thrive on the accolades & recognition from others, eventually making one unfit to receive any feedbacks or constructive criticisms on one’s deficiencies. Surely, a dangerous position to be in.

In yesterday’s Srimad Bhagavatam class, Abhishek prabhu covered the story of King Nahusa from Canto 9, Chapter 18, Verse 03 – 05.

In summary, King Nahusa was given the opportunity to rule heaven in the absence of Lord Indra (original king of heaven). However, the new king became proud of his powerful position and went after the wife of Lord Indra. In order to protect the queen and also punish the king for his pride, the powerful sages who were present in the court hatched a plot to have him cursed. As a part of the plan, the queen requested the new king to come see her in a palanquin  but carried by powerful sages. The proud king intoxicated with his desire to enjoy the queen did not realise the offence he was about to commit. The sages or brahmins are not to undertake such tasks and meant to be worshipped at all times due to their full-time endeavour to immerse in the thoughts of God. The king was blind to his folly and arranged for such a ride to happen 😦 In the slow ride on the palanquin, the king got impatient and prodded one of the sages with his foot – a great insult!

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He was immediately cursed to became a snake on the earthly planets but was eventually delivered from his low position when he came in contact with the Pandavas. That’s another story.

Basically, you don’t want to offend a devotee or get cursed by one either. If you do, the only way out is to repent, do a lot of service to the devotees and earn their forgiveness. As we all know, the Lord tolerates any insult directed towards Him but he does not do so when it’s directed towards a devotee.

Both the Lord and material nature are very strict and does not tolerate pride especially towards those in the position of a power. A leader has to be incredibly humble and understand that the power invested in him is a mercy of the Lord. That power and the humility that goes with it, is meant to attract the mercy of the Supreme Lord which can then be passed on to the followers, he/she govern. All the followers in turn will also become humble and will not be proud of their own efforts or be envious of the rulers. This is the way to have a just and peaceful society. That is true success.

In conclusion, we must actively keep a watch out for what we think, say and do and remove any elements of pride. This must be a daily effort. Always remember – Pride Hath A Fall.

 

372. Time moves

It’s amazing to observe the invisible hand of time, taking you closer and closer to your next life destination without you even realising it. Every Monday, I think back and wonder where the weekend went. When I hit Friday, I look back and wonder where the week went. Before you know it, your entire life has finished. If one lives a life of week days and weekends doing mundane chores, it’s surely fruitless. One must remember everyday that time + material nature is in full control of our day-to-day existence. They make us do stuff and we think we are the doers. To make each day an investment, look for opportunities to pray, worship, remember and serve God. Only in this case, can one not feel guilty of losing time through their fingers.

369. Sri Jiva’s begging – so beautiful…

I am reading this wonderful book, “Śrī Navadvīpa-dhāma Māhātmya”, by Śrīla Sac-cid-ānanda Bhaktivinoda Thākura which is a conversation between Lord Nityānanda and the young Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī as they go on a tour (parikramā) of the holy dham. Once the parikrama is over and Srī Jīva is blessed to go to Sri Vrindhavan, he submits the following statements to the assembled Vaishnavas (devotees of Krishna) in the courtyard of Śrīvāsa’s home. Folding his hands, he said to all of them:

Please excuse all of my offenses. You are Sri Chaitanya’s servants, the gurus of the world. O desire trees, be merciful on this insignificant living entity. Let the attraction of my mind reside in Lord Chaitanya. And let Nityananda Prabhu be the goal birth after birth! Without understanding I have given up my home as a mere child, but you are my friends, taking care of my life. Without the mercy of the Vaishnavas one cannot attain Krishna. Therefore, brothers, give me the dust from your feet.”