Articles

 

 

 

.

Contents-

* Immutable Truths of the Universe

* Politically correct handbaskets

* The Meaning of Life

*A glorious Vrajabasi passes away

* Why are you working so hard, dear Sir? 

* How to not take Sanyas

* Higher Rasa- by Visoka dasa

* The Iconoclast

 

 


Immutable Truths of the Universe

or

The 3 most important questions a human being will ever ask

  The amazing story of how a woman flatlined on operating table and saw and heard everything that happened.

[Hare Krishna, this is a humble attempt to demonstrate the truth of the soul and God through empirical methods. This is the beginning of a series of essays whose purpose is to prove Krishna consciousness through science. It is meant for the people who require empirical proof of spiritual subjects. The conclusions will also demonstrate that Vedic knowledge is the only spiritual source which addresses the three answers in detail.]

The great philosophical book penned by Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur, titled “Tattva Viveka” is the inspiration for this thesis. Tattva Viveka means, “discerning the truth.” 

There are three main questions posed by human beings. Number one is, “who am I?” Number two is, “what is this world?” And number three is, “what is my relationship to this world?”

There are two philosophies of the world that pose alternate answers to the 3 questions. The first philosophy, materialism, is espoused by atheists, and has been in the world since ancient times. The second philosophy is spiritual theism, which also has been around since time immemorial.

There are three answers to each respective question, one from each of the two philosophies. Such answers entail the nature of the absolute truth for human beings, according to their particular adherence to one of the philosophies, and thus gives them meaning and direction in their lives.

Materialistic philosophy makes the claim that inert matter exists, and conscious life exists, and everything is created from inert matter. Conscious life does not exist before or after inert matter. Philosophers from ancient times have espoused this materialistic philosophy, and written books on it.

Such philosophers of materialism were Carvaka in India, Yangchoo in China, Leucippus in Greece, and in Central Asia there was Sadanaplus, and Lucretious in Rome, and many others who taught this philosophy.

The materialistic answer to such questions is as follows - the self is nothing more than the combination of material elements, there is no soul, no God, no afterlife. At death, everything ends.

In order, the answers are - 1. “I am not soul, only a combination of matter, 2. This world is only matter, matter is the cause of all effects, and our body and mind are only the combination of elements of matter, and we somehow have consciousness. 3. My relationship with the world of matter is simply to enjoy life until death, because there is no liberation of any soul from the material world, no suffering in hell or enjoyment in heaven after the death of the body.

Theistic philosophy offers opposite answers and values in the world, we shall shortly present the answers from general theistic philosophy.

Let us first note that the true answer to each question is immutable in time. In other words, the truth gleaned from the three true answers cannot be changed in the present or future, and has always been so in the past. No amount of human manipulation can change such truths.

No scientific breakthrough or technological achievement, i.e., no space ship to Mars, no cloning of bodies, no genetic manipulation, etc., nothing can change the immutable truths of the true answers to the three questions. Such truths remain unchangeable in all ages, past, present and future.

We now turn to the theistic answers. This thesis avoids sectarian dogmas and doctrines to be used as points of proof, because when a person first hears the word “religion,” he/she immediately asks, “which sect or denomination is it?” They will reject such information because of their particular cultural and religious bias.

Generally people are concerned with their own religious dress and rituals and dogma and sect doctrine. Every person will think that “my country, my culture, my religion is the best.” This thesis opts to avoid sectarian thinking, and tries to give the essence of spiritual logic. After scientific methods are used to demonstrate these answers, then spiritual texts, which augment such answers, will be referenced.

The theistic answer to question #1 is as follows; “we are souls, spiritual entities encased within a material body.”

Of course, the material philosophers will say that no one has ever seen this “soul.” So lets look at what the evidence says, and how the evidence reaches a verdict.

Usually empirical evidence is scientific observation of data, forming a hypothesis, and proof of data, so forth. Powerful microscopes cannot see the soul; this is a fact. Thus we might draw the conclusion that empirical evidence of the soul is impossible to demonstrate. But this is not the case.

Accepting the fact that scientists cannot perceive the soul, still there are scientific methods of studying the experiences of common people, making case studies of their episodes of conscious perception outside of their bodies. This is a viable procedure for research scientists to establish evidence that consciousness is sometimes experienced outside of the brain and body.

The argument of the materialist is that the self is only a combination of material elements, and the consciousness of the self is also a combination of elements, and such consciousness seems to be centered in the brain. It is this seat of consciousness that a person receives all perceptions of the external world. Such a seat of consciousness has to be centered in the body, in the brain. A person cannot perceive any stimuli of the world from a focal point outside of his brain and body, claims scientific rational.

But, if evidence can demonstrate that perception is sometimes had from a focal point outside of the body, a point outside of the brain, then that would be proof that the conscious self is something different than the material body.

We find there are many case studies done by research scientists, wherein we see that thousands, if not millions, of people are recorded to have left their body and they have perceptions and consciousness outside of their bodies. This is called an OBE, or an “out-of-body experience.”

Of course, some scientists give some rationalization of these experiences, saying they are mere dreams, merely some fantasy imagery taking place within the brain.

However there are some experiences that do not tally to such a conclusion. One of the most profound cases of such an OBE is as follows. It involves the case of woman who was flat-lined in an operating table, her entire body was chilled [hypothermia] and her blood was temporarily removed so that the doctors could perform a delicate operation on her brain, the ablation of an aneurysm. This is reported by Michael Saborn, 1998. Ian Stevenson comments, “She was as dead as anyone could possibly be.” [Thompson 2003].

Despite the fact she was practically brain dead, with no neural activity recorded, still she later reported her experiences during the operation, outside of her body, as if she were floating in the air and looking down upon the doctors and her own body. She gave many details of what the doctors did, the conversations they had, repeating them word for word, as if she were consciously witnessing the whole operation as an outside observer.  

There is an interesting follow-up to this story. There’s a popular late night radio talk show host, Art Bell, who made many comments on this case, saying this convinced him of the existence of the soul more than any other NDE he had ever heard of. Mr. Bell kept repeating his profound realization on his radio show for many weeks, and then one night he hosted his friend, a world-renowned physicist, Dr. Michio Kaku, who is a professor of theoretical physics at CUNY.

Art Bell recounted the whole story to Professor Kaku, explaining how she was brain dead and still had an out-of-body perception of the operation, re-playing the events and conversations of the doctors, word for word. Mr. Bell told his friend, Dr. Kaku, that this case convinced him [Bell] of the soul more than any other case history, and asked the Professor to comment.

At this point, I will explain the phenomenon of the KJDC reaction, that most humans experience. KJDC is a shortened acronym which means- “knee-jerk-denial of threats to core convictions.”   

It’s common that most humans formulate a core conviction at sometime in their lives. Everyone has a need to acquire a concrete philosophy, a conviction that makes them feel secure in a world of conflicting ideas. Security is achieved by faith in some philosophy, some core belief. Some people reach a core conviction by means of personal searching, some adopt it by means of strong family or cultural persuasion. Most adapt to the cultural beliefs of the region of the world they were born into.

KJDC means that when a person forms a core conviction, in the core of their hearts, it is normal for them to listen only to evidence which supports their core conviction, and dismiss evidence which threatens their core conviction. They tend to protect this conviction, even at the risk of suspension of common sense and human rationality. Even their denial may render them to appear foolish and childish to other observers.

This is because a person’s core conviction is the most precious possession in one’s life, it’s the whole world to them, it’s their salvation, and loss of such is their damnation. To lose this core conviction is tantamount to a kind of suicide.

Professor Kaku is very intelligent, of this there is no doubt. However, his reply to Art Bell’s question was that even though the instruments showed no neural activity, still the brain is like a weak battery and still has an imperceptible charge that shows no detection. He makes this suggestion that even this weak electrical charge was capable of formulating such images and imaginary thoughts to explain her post-operative reports.

We find this a very weak argument, and not explaining how she knew certain visual and auditory details of the doctors and their actions and conversations from a position outside her body. We cannot imagine a flat-lined brain running on imperceptible juice, like that of a worn out AAA battery, and being capable of hearing and seeing such things from an outside focal point. So it’s not really a matter of being less-intelligent on the professor’s part, he is very intelligent, rather it’s a classic case of KJDC, he is blocking the logical progression of the facts, in order to secure his own core convictions, which is a normal process for most human beings. 

However, this phenomenon of protecting core conviction is not absolutely necessary in all conditions. One can retain his core conviction and still be open to evidence, which seems to be in opposition, he merely has to modify his core beliefs, and one’s core conviction can still remain intact. One can still be a scientist and accept this evidence that consciousness is seen to be outside of the body. This principle is important for us to understand the 3 questions and respective answers in a way that the evidence demonstrates.

More on this, and question two answer just now coming … someday ... ys Vishoka dasa


 

Politically Correct Handbaskets 

There’s a streetcar named desire, and there’s a chariot drawn by mules called “second guessing” and so there are various handbaskets and conveyances, which take one merrily down to Patalaloka, all the while thinking one is politically correct.

Srila Prabhupada told us of the story of the cobbler and the Brahmin and Narada Muni. Narada often went to see Lord Narayana and one day the Brahmin requested him to inquire from Lord Narayana when he, the Brahmin, would go back to godhead. A cobbler made the same request to Narada. So he went to Lord Narayana and asked Him when the two devotees would go back home. Lord Narayana said the Cobbler would promptly go back home, but the Brahmin had more lives to do. Narada was surprised and asked why. Lord Narayana instructed Narada to tell both cobbler and Brahmin that He, Lord Narayana, was threading an elephant through an eye of a needle, and see how they react. Narada did as told, and the Brahmin balked at the story, saying "bah, impossible."  But the cobbler fell into ecstasy upon hearing the story, saying "my Lord can do anything."

The moral of the story teaches us a "central point" that Lord Krsna is always testing devotees by presenting contradictory situations, which seem materially impossible, and then He observes how they respond to those situations. He puts little glitches into the cosmic landscape, just to test our faith.

Cc Adi 16.81P -  "The central point of all Vaisnava philosophy is to accept the inconceivable potency of Lord Visnu. What sometimes appears contradictory from a material viewpoint is understandable in connection with the Supreme Personality of Godhead because He can perform contradictory activities by dint of His inconceivable potencies. Modern scientists are puzzled."

Lord Krsna also sends His pure devotee to our world, and is very attentive to see how we treat His pure devotee. This is a big test. Similarly, His pure devotee, Srila Prabhupada, is often testing disciples. It is said that when the guru calls a rope a snake, then the disciple will beat the rope as if it were a snake. Then the guru calls it a rope, and the disciple sees it as a rope. If the guru again calls the rope a snake, then the disciple again acts if it were a snake. The guru sometimes gives illogical puzzles, to encourage the disciple to relinquish his false ego of material logic.

Once in Los Angeles, 2 disciples approached Srila Prabhupada in his room, with a challenging mood. They brought up some seemingly material contradictions in the Krsna book, saying these things were impossible. Srila Prabhupada told them [if memory serves] that they could leave, because they were without a guru as of that moment. This was a severe case of flunking the contradiction test. This is where pride and material logic can get a careless devotee in very deep trouble.

I have heard that Sri Madvacharya once said that Lord Krsna purposely puts little contradictions into the sastra, just to facilitate doubting souls who are looking for holes in the philosophy, to give a little fodder to bolster their atheist mentalities. The Bhagvad Gita states that Lord Krsna knows what desires are in the hearts of the jiva, and facilitates that desire. If someone wants to doubt Krsna, then Krsna will help him do that, will direct him within the heart to focus on contradictory glitches in sastra, so that he can fulfill his doubt, so he can justify material desires.

Bg 7.21 purport - "As the supreme father of all living entities, He does not interfere with their independence, but gives all facilities so that they can fulfill their material desires."

The submissive devotee knows that Lord Krishna can do anything inconceivable and thus he passes the test, while the puffed up Brahmin maintains false ego and pride, which supplies his material logic and thus fails the test.

The cobbler was in spiritual logic and the Brahmin was in material logic. Spiritual logic is essential for surrender to Krsna and Guru, being vital for submission to the will of Krsna and Guru. Jayananda prabhu is a perfect example of a devotee with spiritual logic, who was not bewildered when confronted with riddles in spiritual life. He passed Krsna's tests with flying colors, with an attitude like, "I will never understand Krsna or His pure devotee, and I'll never understand this material world, and if someone asks about some apparent contradiction in sastra, I just say I don't know, and go on with my service, knowing everything is the inconceivable energy of Krsna." This is the humble attitude of the devotee.

Cc Adi 17.304P - "Such a contradiction can be reconciled only in the Supreme Personality of Godhead because He has energy that is inconceivable (acintya), which can make possible that which is impossible to do (aghata-ghatana-patiyasi). Such contradictions are very difficult to understand unless a devotee strictly follows the Vaisnava philosophy under the direction of the Gosvamis."

In the Krishna book, Mother Devaki recites prayers to Lord Krishna, saying that He contains the whole universe in His abdomen, and still appears in her womb, which seems to be a mind-boggling paradox-

“My dear Lord, at the end of the annihilation of the cosmic manifestation, You put the whole universe within Your abdomen; still by Your unalloyed mercy You have appeared in my womb. I am surprised that You imitate the activities of ordinary human beings just to please Your devotee." KB

In this regard, Srila Bhaktivinode writes beautifully about the inconceivable nature of mutually contradictory qualities of Lord Krsna, in Sri Jaiva-dharma-

"In the material world mutually contradictory qualities do not exist together in the same place, for they would negate each other. It is the inconceivable nature of Lord Krsna's potency that in the spiritual world all mutually contradictory qualities exist happily together and the result is very beautiful and pleasing. In Lord Krsna the qualities of having a form and being formless, being all-pervading and having a form present in one place only, being active and inactive, being unborn and being the son of Nanda, being the all worshipable Supreme Lord and being a gopa boy, being all-knowing and having the limited knowledge possessed by a human being, having qualities and having no qualities, being beyond conception and being sweet like nectar, being limited and unlimited, being far away and being very near, being completely aloof and also being afraid of the gopi's jealous anger are simutaneously present. These and numberless mutually contradictory qualities happily stay together in Lord Krsna's transcendental form, in Sri Krsna's transcendental abode, and in Sri Krsna's transcendental pastimes. That these mutually contradictory qualities help Lord Krsna's pastimes, making them more beautiful and pleasing is beyond human conception. Therefore it is said that the Lord's potencies are inconceivable."  JD

On the other hand, the man in material consciousness will say, "Yes, we can understand everything in this world with our science, and we will control everything, and we will disbelieve anything that does not mesh with our theories and our laws of physics." Although the old theories are always be replaced by new ones, still such arrogance persists.

Even a devotee, like the Brahmin in the story, can fall under the spell of thinking his material logic is so important, and will balk at the glitches which bend his mind, and thus cultivate doubts of Krsna's achintya energy, even have doubts about Krsna's pure devotee. There is great pride in material logic, and that is why Krsna puts us to the test sometimes, to curb our pride, to make us surrender to spiritual logic, and relinquish material logic and false ego. Material ego tells us, “Elephants are huge animals, eyes of needles are very small, so big huge animals through a little hole? Gimme a break!” But Krishna can turn matter into spirit, spirit into matter. He can make little holes suddenly huge, and huge animals suddenly small. To become fully surrendered we must take that "leap of faith" and surrender our puny glow-worm material logic unto the brilliant sun of Krsna and His pure devotee.

Cc Intro- "That which is beyond our power of conception is called acintya, inconceivable. It is useless to argue or speculate about what is inconceivable. If it is truly inconceivable, it is not subject to speculation or experimentation."

So this is all a word to the wise. Srila Prabhupada warned us to get out of this mess, not come back for another go-round, cause Kali-yuga is sliding down and down into the muck of a horrendous nightmare, as we see in every newspaper and newscast how the suffering of mankind is increasing. So we don’t want to prolong our stay by the mistake of thinking our logic is more than Krishna or His pure devotee. Sometimes in the name of being “politically correct” or conforming to “modern times,” new students, out of immaturity, may slip into material logic and second-guess Srila Prabhupada, and misunderstand his books. The definition of "second-guessing" means, "to criticize or correct after an outcome is known.” Sometimes new students will bring up apparent contradictions and expose their doubts on the Internet. Senior devotees should give guidance to these new students, so as to not exacerbate their chance of an extended stay in Kali-yuga.

There is a new acronym surfacing in the Vaisnava community, called "JAPA." This stands for "just accept Prabhupada's authority." The counter acronym may be called "JARA," which means, "just accept rascal authority." The rascal authority is the materially logical mind and pride. JARA will get you old age and life after life of suffering, and JAPA will get you an express ticket back to Vaikuntha. 

The story of the cobbler and Brahmin is a simple story, yet profound, the understanding of which will be the difference of going to Vaikuntha or going down to Kumbipaka. To take birth in Kali-yuga again, bubba, is going to hell. So let us be highly motivated by the suffering of this horrible age, to not come back again, and take the words of Srila Prabhupada without question, knowing it to be the difference of boarding the swan carriers to Vaikuntha, or taking a handbasket ride down the road to perdition.  Hare Krishna, your servant, Vishoka dasa


The Meaning of Life

Or

The world according to Jonathan Sparrow

Part 1

The human throat is not a proper receptacle for ingestion of information. There often occurs in our world a drama played out between fervent communicators and reluctant targets of that communiqué, and the transmission much resembles the caricature outline of a book being thrust heartily down a choking throat. Indeed, it seems that the entire history of the human race entails the perpetual hostility of special interest groups cramming ideology down the tender throats of the human race of innocence, and then inevitable bloody wars ensue when resistance meets a foiled propaganda.

The cat is sitting here, giving me this look of contentment, like he is purrfectly in tune with the meaning of existence. His master is kept under paw, and his meals and security comforts roll in with timetable certitude. He gets his regular petting sessions and his secret conclaves with the local mouse. He’s sitting pretty on his bona fides, his life is a wrap, it’s a done deal, and so he bodes merrily along, and dies. But humans are not so easily satisfied. We eat and drink and have career and then die like our fathers, but we insist there is something more than these fleeting animal propensities.

Every human one time or another has looked up into the stars and wondered, “What it is? What does it all mean? What’s up with the heavens and those orbits and planets? What is this world with it’s creatures, and what does life ultimately mean?” We ponder on the butterfly’s mosaic wings, and remind ourselves of all the inconceivable designs within our purview, both microcosmic and macrocosmic. These eternal questions of who we are and where we are going - are what separate us from other earthly creatures.

The most reliable means of conveyance of information is through the medium of ears and eyes, and most importantly, the final deposit being made in those amazing frontal lobes, which constitute the glory of human rationale. And it always helps to possess a dash of common sense.

The human throat is also the organ used to relay information, but not always believable. The human animal has a remarkable capacity for knowing one thing in the frontal lobes, but saying the opposite through the throat. Humans like to distort the message, exaggerate it, deny it, fabricate it, and they do this for a plethora of reasons. It seems that humans love to play the perpetual mind game of saying so many things, and the audience is left with the task of sorting out the lies from the actual facts. One man speaks, and the other will inevitably wonder in his mind, “truth or lie?” Thus we have the colloquial term used so often, which is roughly translated as “male cow feces.” This is the prime occupation of mankind, to distinguish reality from illusion in the daily course of communication between one another. One man never knows when the other man is relating the true reality, or giving him the old “male cow feces.” Therefore every communication is met with a cautious look upon one’s face, head tilted back and eyes pointed in suspicion. Only in Plato’s ideal world could we find a universal trust in one another’s words.

This may be why some men doubt religion, despite the legends of so many miracles and saints. With all obvious wonders of this creation, still men lurk in the shadows of doubt. We are asked to take it on faith, and this works for some people, but not for others. This is due to the capacity of men to convert facts from their frontal lobes into stories of fanciful creations, before the words emerge from gullet of their throat. 

Ah, to gaze upon the butterfly lazily floating in a meadow, on a sunny day with billowing clouds floating in the sky. The butterfly drifts past our pick-nik table with its inconceivable designs and colors and graceful movements, such sights boggles the mind with questions, like – how did it happen, or who did this?

It is the attempt of this author now, to introduce the subject matter of the title of this essay – which is - what exactly is the meaning of life? Such an audacious enterprise, some may say, to assert that one knows or even suggest that one knows the meaning of life? This has been attempted countless times in our history, with so many books of philosophy and religion, thousands of authors have staked their claim on the final truth.

It is eternally the nature of man to contemplate and voice his own slant on the meaning of life. But rarely in history do we have so many researchable facts at our fingertips. It is for this reason that the author makes such an arrogant attempt to reassert this ancient thesis, the meaning of life, in a whole new light. Besides all that, the author is just a human with a brain and nothing else to do. So the author is merely exercising the old human nature of asserting his meaning of life, just as patrons of the local pub are fond of doing.

There are so many atoms and molecules floating around us, arranged in so many amazing designs. In fact, they tell us that one single molecule is more complex and incomprehensible than the blueprint plans of New York City.

So, are these atoms and molecules self-intelligent? Suppose they are just laying around one fine day, [before life appeared], and one atom makes a speech and proposes that they unite in some clever way, and there’s a lightening flash from the heavens, and a clap of thunder, and then … lo and behold, an organ is born, and develops into some multi-celled organism. Is this how it happened, or was there some outside intelligence involved?

This is indeed the most oft asked question, in regards to the meaning of life, which is how or who arranges these molecules into their amazing designs??

Certainly this complex transformation requires intelligence. Take the word “intelligent” and let we look at the separated parts of the word. The “in” suggests some “inside man” who imparts the “intel” to the “gents” or the agents of activity, “telling” them what to do.

Everything requires someone or something “telling” some agent what to do. The car requires a driver, the building requires the architect and engineers. Dull matter always requires some sentient intelligence, or pre-programmed mechanical intelligence telling the machine what to do.

Consider the special agents of some big agency, like the CIA or FBI. They are agents, but they don’t act without some “intel.” The “intel” is their boss “telling” them what to do next. Could it be the same with molecules? Are they are “agents” taking direction from some “inside man” who is “telling” them what to do?

So it’s the in-man telling the gents what to do, and this is the sum and substance of “in-tell-a-gents.” The gents are like farm hand workers standing around with their hands in their pockets, and they don’t have a clue of what to do. That’s why they need the in-man to give them some intel of what to do. Otherwise their un-programmed activity would result in chaos.

Suppose we have a crew of hard-hat workers on the site, ready to construct a skyscraper in Manhattan. Well normally we would have the architects and supervisors telling them what to do, but suppose we don’t have any managers in this example. What would the skyscraper look like? If the gents were just randomly working, wielding beams and stuff together, without a design or plan or boss, what would it look like? Perhaps it would appear like a modern art sculpture? Certainly it would not be your functional skyscraper. Obviously everywhere we look, we will always find some superior intelligence dictating a plan, a design, and telling the agents what to do.

The molecules are like simple farm hands, standing around with their hands in their pockets. They may horse around and push one another and jostle each other and tumble and roll around on the ground like some retarded morons might do. But in-and-of themselves, they do not individually possess the genius required to combine together and form complex designs and create these amazing life forms we see in our world. I’m no Phd, but it doesn’t take much sense to see that complex designs require a vast intelligence, which is not satisfied by the random bumping of atoms and molecules. Great design means great designer.

Conversely, in our modern theories of the universe we find something else. We have our big bang and the primordial soup, and the lighting strikes, and amino acids form into life. In this theory we have the “gents” bumping around, aided by some electrical pulse, and we suddenly get life, the formation of organs and bodies, resulting in these amazing creations of different species, with no “in-man,” no intelligence from above. Can the gents really do it without the in-man? Everywhere we look, microcosmically and macrocosmically speaking, we see a vast intelligence behind all these amazing designs.

Back in Darwin’s day, they did not know how complex the molecule was, thus we had this theory of chance bumping of molecules, creating the organ, and so on. Like the eyeball, the molecules supposedly bumped around into this organ, which just happened to “see.” But, as science progressed, the biologist discovered the vast complexity of molecules, something Darwin did not know. Thus some scientists are beginning to second think about the possibility vs. impossibility of molecules arranging themselves into complex organs. The in-man is there in every example we have in our earthy experience, but we don’t find it in the creation of life, hmmm.

The other day we were driving down the road and we saw this Boeing 707 airplane, sitting in some farmer’s field. Then, a few miles away, we saw this junk yard, which was in total disarray, even for junk yard, it was a mess. Some farmer told us a tornado blew through the junk field, and picked up all this metal in the air, and assembled it all in midair, and made this jetliner, which then flew off and landed in the field. Hmmm.

So this vast intelligence everywhere we look, this is the first lesson of this essay. Taking a break here, part 2 and 3 and so on will deal with the 2nd and 3rd lessons, and with more questions, like why religions fight each other and why they don’t have to.

Jonathan Sparrow [aka Visoka dasa]

 


A glorious Vrajabasi passes away

Vrindabani gives Laxmi Priya a kiss!

by Dhrstadyumna dasa

Vrindabani devi dasi left her body at 2:15pm on Janmastami day August 31, 2002. This is a brief account of her story.

Vrindabani or Vrinda Mata gave birth to three calves that we know of, two of which have names. I met her after she gave birth to Nanda Rani, the second calf, in the late summer of 1999. Bhakta Seva recognized Vrindabani as the same cow that was milking earlier under the name Goloka, and Krsna Balarama confirmed it. We bread her a third time and she gave birth to Laxmi Priya in the early spring of 2002.

It is quiet astonishing to note how Krsna arranged for Vrinda Mata to be engaged in His service. If we look at the probability of one cow giving birth to three calves over the last six years it is a miracle. The first two births where by ‘accident’. Our big herd in the late 1990’s consisted of over 180 cows and oxen. If half are cows, then Vrindabani was one out of 90 cows that was impregnated by bulls from neighboring farms, twice. ‘By accident’ means that when the herd is out to pasture, if a cow is in heat and a bull from another farm close by can detect it, then he will sneak into our pastures and mate with the prospective cow. This means that Vrindabani was coupled twice. Her third calf was by artificial insemination and so was planned, by she was the only cow in the barn to take out of nine different attempts.

This shows her fertility, but also how much Krsna arranged for her to give milk for His pleasure prior to bringing her back home. Srila Prabhupada mentions in his lectures in the Radha Damodhara courtyard in Vrindaban about the significance of being born and dying on the dhama. He says there that if one is sinful and leaves their body on the dhama that they will come back in the body of an animal, and after that lifetime as an animal they will return home, back to Godhead. Also it is mentioned that if one is born on the dhama, then that is their last birth, that they are liberated. Vrindabani was born at New Vrindaban over 15 years ago and died at New Vrindaban on the Diving Appearance Day of Lord Krsna.

I personally could experience how the Deities were lovingly guiding her back to Them. Vrindabani was always peaceful and happy giving milk, and she gave milk up to a few days before she left this world. She was dried up after having a severe case of diarrhea. A few days later she was reluctant to come back from the pasture with the rest of the herd to the barn. I left her out that day and by the next day she was ‘down’. Her eyes where sunk and her mouth dry, she was dehydrated and couldn’t stand. I fed her electrolytes in water and tried to coax her to stand but inevitable Time was upon her. I called every vet in the book, no one could come out to see her on Labor Day Weekend. It was between Krsna and His devotee, it was wonderful and ecstatic to watch.

On Janmastami Day, myself and a visiting sankirtana devotee Martyunga went out to be with Vrindabani. I took Sri Nathaji’s long garland of marigolds and a maha Tulasi leaf out to Vrinda Mata, along with a picture of Sri Sri Radha Vrindaban Chandra, a picture of Srimati Tulasi Maharani, and a picture of Srila Prabhupada. I turned the Palace speakers toward the part of the forest that Vrindabani lay, they echoed Prabhupada’s bhajans. Tripada graciously gave us Srila Prabhupada’s garland from the Palace.

Vrindabani laid peacefully with her head bent toward her belly. Martyunga and I chanted about an hour. She brought her head up as her life was being called away, she held her head strait up and opened her mouth. I was meditating on the Holy Name, and wondered if she was chanting. I felt Radha Vrindaban Chandra’s Presence in that shady forest, the wind blew above the treetops. Her head moved forward until it lay outstretched in front of her body, I moved around and placed it on my lap. Martyunga kept the flies off the whole time, and I caressed her forehead. As we chant and prayed she left her body very peacefully, with Tulasi leaf on her tongue, a Deity garland around her neck, devotees chanting and praying on her behalf, less than fifty yards under Prabhupada’s Palace, on Janmastami day, after a lifetime of service to the dhama.

I pray that I may leave under such auspicious conditions, and I pray that I may have the privilege of her service again. Her body is buried next to the Palace on the east facing slope which borders the ghat. We will install a plaque in her honor. Laxmi Priya is the first calf intentionally born at the New Vrindaban small milking barn, and she is the first of the next generation of cows born here to serve the Deities. She is sweet and fat just like her mother and is now under the care of her foster Mothers, especially Mangala.

 


Why are you working so hard, my dear Sir?

by Visoka dasa

Srila Prabhupada asks this question, “Why are you working so hard, dear sir?” Before giving Srila Prabhupada’s answer to this question, first we will explore the subject matter of working for a living, especially in America.

All living entities, from the minute they wake up in the morning, are asking questions. The birds and the beasts are asking, “Where is food? Where is food?” And men are also getting up from bed and rushing off to work asking, “Where is money? Where is money?” Srila Prabhupada says that men will do anything to get money, even break the law and risk their life. Why? To get money for sense gratification.

Srila Prabhupada says in one lecture how Krishna informs us in His Bhagavad-gita how we should make our livelihood. Krishna never says for us to open up big fierce horrible industries, He says parjanyad anna-sambhavah, grow food grains-

 

All living bodies subsist on food grains,

which are produced from rains.

Rains are produced by performance of yajna [sacrifice],

and yajna is born of prescribed duties.

Bhagavad-gita 3.14

Srila Prabhupada says how by yajna and rains there will be sufficient grains, by which everyone can grow strong and stout bodies. “What more do you want?” asks Srila Prabhupada. But men avoid yajna in this age of Kali, and are busy with horrible ugra karma activities. Even the devotees are becoming neglectful of the Yuga-dharma, or harinam sankirtan (Very alarming indeed! Some leaders prefer politicking on the phone and collecting loan interest payments). Instead of satisfaction with simple living and growing grains, greed motivates man to work harder than necessary for so many artificial conveniences, which Srila Prabhupada explains to be more trouble in the long run. Just like cars, Srila Prabhupada says, may seem to get us places faster than the horse and buggy, but along with cars come so many problems, like pollution and accidents and insurance and mechanic expenses, and we have to get the oil from the Arabs, and if not, there’s going to be trouble. It’s a tangled skein we weave.

American work ethic means hard work. We get this drilled into our heads from school and parents and everybody - that you’ve got to work real hard, or you’ll never become a success or have any money - and therefore, you’ll never be happy. And since nobody wants to be a loser, then the smart ones will study hard in school to get a good job. America boasts as being the most opulent country in the world, but the citizens pay very dearly for these benefits. They work hard up to 40, 50 or even 70 hours a week. Some Americans are just plain workaholics, and they work so hard because they can’t face real life and problems. Some Americans work very hard, but will never realize the American dream. They live paycheck to paycheck and never get what they really want.

I served in a blissful engagement at FATE studios in CA and Detroit for about 8 years. Jayaradhe knows about FATE, she was there too. And after FATE fell apart, I eventually ended up in a bank job in LA. I wore tie and coat, the whole 9 yards, and drove to work on the freeways everyday to this savings and loan. That was about the time of all the S&L scandals, and eventually the Feds came to our bank and surveyed us for months and eventually closed us down. If that didn’t happen, I’d probably still be there in that hackneyed existence. Anyway, I worked in the accounting department, doing monthly reports on Lotus123, and payables, etc. At lunch I’d walk around the Japanese neighborhoods with all their bonsai gardens and I’d always get writing ideas while I walked, and jotted them down to type up when I got home.

This Muslim lady worked there and was always saying how we Americans work too much and too long. We all finished our work in around 6 hours, she pointed out, but our work ethic tells us that we have to work a full 8 hours a day. As a result, we spent the rest of our time just pretending to work. I remember this so well, I would sit at my desk and shuffle papers around, and pretend to count up totals, and this and that. Sometimes I’d space out and my boss would notice. Then I would get weary of that and go to the computers and mess around with Lotus123 a while, faking this and that. Then I would walk to the water cooler, and take as long as I could. Then I’d watch the clock for lunch or the next break, or the magical moment of 5pm. What an existence.

So many people are so desperate to end their humdrum existence and be rich like the movie stars. Our accounting manager in our bank was saying like that. At the time the California lottery stakes were very high, the pot held many millions, and people all over California were in long lines everywhere to buy their tickets. And our manager was saying like, “Just see how desperate everybody in America is!” It’s a fact, so many people dream of winning the lottery. Sometimes when you’re purchasing something in a store, you may hear conversations of people waiting in line, and they talk of the latest millions in the jackpot and all their dreams of what they would do if they were “the lucky one.” They live in a fantasy world of how they’d spend their millions. The Muslim lady in my bank was like that, and she would always organize all the bank employees to purchase group tickets to increase our chances, and she was always meditating on how we could win and how we’d all quit our jobs and what we’d do with our money. Someone did a research and report on lottery winners and found out that generally the lottery ruined their lives. They could not trust friends and family anymore, knowing all the sharks are out there, all swimming around them, trying to blood-suck all their money. Everyone is needy, everyone is on the take.

Sukadev chants the Srimad-Bhagavatam:

 

Stealing or cheating another person out of his money, the

Conditioned soul somehow or other keeps it in this possession

 and escapes punishment. Then another man, named Devadatta, cheats

him and takes the money away. Similarly, another man,

named Visnumitra, steals the money from Devadatta and takes it away.

In any case, the money does not stay in one place. It passes

from one hand to another. Ultimately no one can enjoy the money,

and it remains the property of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

Srimad Bhagavatam 5.14.24

 

Some people realize that they won’t become rich by luck, and so they enroll in seminars with crash courses on how to get rich quick, in real estate, etc. Or they fall for some mail order scam, stuffing envelopes, or some multi-level scam, etc. But in the end, the only ones making money are the mail order scam people and the motivation people who charge $600 a pop for their lectures. The average man tries all he can to change his life - but his destiny and karma are all written in stone. They are forced to toil away their lives in the system. This is the world known as Devi-dhama, where Durga is the superintendent. Durga means impregnable fort, impossible to escape. This world is meant for punishment of the rebellious souls, not a place to come and enjoy. This world is a prison house, and so hard labor is one of the punishments. Therefore, so many people are forced to work hard, no matter how many seminars they pay for. 

Srila Prabhupada said on one lecture, “Work like hogs and dogs! Human civilization means to keep them in the darkness!, and make them work like hogs and dogs!, and don’t give them any knowledge. Make them work like hogs and dogs, and then die like hogs and dogs. This is not human life.”

The scriptures tell us that our destiny and happiness and distress all come on their own accord. Especially devotees, it is apparent by astrological calculations that they usually have daridra yogas or heavy 12th house yogas, by which they are naturally inclined to renunciation or moderation. But the devotees don’t suffer from this fact because they accept fate and don’t try to change it, rather they use their time for devotional service. Devotees are enabled, by Krishna’s grace, to enjoy spiritual life even in a prison house, even when they are poor. Real wealth for devotees is their devotional service to Sri Krishna and Srila Prabhupada.

Most men and women despise their work-a-day lives. Some cannot find the means and ways to do the work of their choice, like artists and musicians and poets, etc. They long to uplift the spirit of man and themselves, but necessity or family will make them slaves of drudgery. Sometimes life just doesn’t fall the way we think it should. There may be some who are generous minded, but possess no wealth. And some may have wealth, but are misers. Someone may get a beautiful body but be short lived. Another may have long life yet besieged with disease and misery. Someone may possess gifts for to give, but finds no one worthy or noble to receive. Such are the inexplicable twists and turns of life, as we all know from experience.     

To get back to Srila Prabhupada’s answer to the question above, “And why are you working so hard, my dear sir?” Srila Prabhupada answers in a low and humorous voice (as if he were the man), “So I can enjoy sex life - that is my ambition.” Srila Prabhupada then answers, “Oh, very good ambition (sarcastically). But dear Sir, also consider the dog, he is also enjoying sex life in the street, without any working hard, but you have to work HARD to enjoy the same. Therefore you are less than dog. You should admit that, “That I am less than dog.” (end of quotes) Isn’t it a fact? Men work so hard all day, and when they come home, who’s enjoying on the sofa? The cat, or the dog. The cat and dog are enjoying all the fruits of his work and sleeping all day.

Srila Prabhupada says in his purport to Bhajahu Re Mana, “Don’t care for scorching sun, don’t care for freezing rain? Working hard day and night, and for what? Capala Sukha, flickering pleasure, for a few moments or more. And for THAT, you are working so hard?”

They say that the Hare Krishnas hate life and our bodies and the pleasures of this world. But the actual truth is the complete opposite; because we protect our bodies by not filling them with meat and liquor and dope and abusing them with illicit sex – and nourish them by eating Krishna prasadam. We love life; we don’t sucker for the American work ethic of working 50 years in the horrible factory only to get a gold watch and worthless praise at the end. We use our energies and life for Krishna and live blissfully with kirtan and prasadam - and after death, it all continues for eternity. Now that – that is real life! – loving life with Krishna and Srila Prabhupada!

An aspiring servant, Visoka dasa

 


Srila Prabhupada on Sannyasa, or how not to take Sannyasa

Hare Krishna, this is a Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.6.13 translation, written by His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada, taken from his original brown cover 1962 edition. Sri Narada is speaking.

Translation-

I alone then passed through many forest full of pipe, bamboo, pens, sharp-grass, weeds, caves which are very difficult to go through alone and still I visited those dangerously fearful forests deep and dark and the play-yards of the snakes, owls, jackals etc.

Purport-

It is the duty of a mendicant to have experience of all varieties of God’s creation as Paribrajakacharya or traveling alone through all forests, hills, towns, villages etc. to gain faith in God and strength of mind as well as to enlighten the inhabitants of the message of God. A Sannyasi is duty bound to take all these risks without any fear and the most typical Sannyasi of the present age is Lord Caitanya Who traveled in the same manner through the central India jungles enlightening even the tigers, bears, snakes, deer, elephants and many other jungle animals. In this age of Kali Sannyas is forbidden for ordinary men and one who changes the dress for making propaganda face is a different man from the original ideal Sannyasi. One should however take the vow of complete stoppage of social intercourse and devote life exclusively for the service of the Lord and the change of dress is but only formal. Lord Caitanya did not accept the name of Sannyasi and in this age of Kali the so-called Sannysins may not change their former names following the footprints of Lord Caitanya. In this age devotional service of hearing and repeating the holy glories of the Lord is strongly recommended and one who may take the vow of renunciation of family life may not imitate the Paribrajakacharya like Narada or Lord Caitanya but may sit down at some holy place and devote the whole time and energy in hearing and repeatedly chanting the holy scriptures left by the great Acharyas like the six Goswamins of Vrindaban.

Note: Here Srila Prabhupada discourages the “changing of dress for propaganda” type of sannyas who has the secret bank account or rolex watch and visa card and all the jet setting and maha plates all the time. Rather, Srila Prabhupada recommends the hearing and chanting of the glories of Krishna and hearing and chanting of the holy scriptures left by the great Acharyas and the six Gosvamins of Vrindavan.


Higher Rasa? by Visoka dasa

Dear devotees,

Please accept my obeisances, all glories to Srila Prabhupada.

   There are some devotees who say we should pursue a spiritual goal such as to become a gopi, or a gopa, etc., in our next life, etc. I have just heard a statement to that effect recently. Some devotees have been quoted to say that Srila Prabhupada gave the basics and the higher process is to pursue some type of rasa that one is attracted to. I would like to explore this topic and invite other devotees to make comments. Hopefully we can shed light on this issue, which has confused devotees for a long time.

   I have just read a very interesting commentary on this issue. Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti and Srila Sanatana Gosvami both explain this in their commentaries on the 14th chapter of Srimad Bhagavatam, "Prayers of Lord Brahma"of how Lord Brahma is not presumptuous to think that he could enter into the exalted status of the residents of Vrindavan.

  Srila Visvanatha Chakravarti comments on text 31 as follows - (Lord Brahma speaks this way to Lord Krishna) "However, it is not proper for persons like myself to request the position of Your greatest devotees, who love You in the pure vatsalya-rasa and other exalted rasas. That position is very difficult to attain. My words here are meant only to glorify it."

   Srila Visvanatha Chakravarti explains here how Lord Brahma deems it not proper to request the position of great devotees of Gokula, in exalted rasas such as vatsayla, etc.

  Srila Sanatana Gosvami says something similar in his commentary on text 34 (explaining how Brahma responds to Krishna’s questions) - "Or, Lord Krishna may ask: "You prayed to attain any sort of birth where You would be touched by the dust from the feet of Gokula’s residents. Why did you not ask for a birth as a gopa or one of the other people there?"

  In the second half of this verse Brahma gives his reply. He says: "O Lord, the Personified Vedas are the most senior and venerable persons. They are my teachers. If they find it difficult to attain the dust of Your feet, then it is not proper for me to pray as You suggest. How can I pray to become a gopa or other Gokula resident, who have all conquered Your lotus feet by the greatness of their love?"

   Srila Sanatana Gosvami explains how Brahma declines to pray for the position of the great residents of Gokula, such as gopas, etc. He sees how the senior Personified Vedas even find a difficulty to attain the dust of the Lord’s feet. Brahma factually realizes his humble position.

   I know that many devotees follow the vani of Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti’s teachings. He is considered to be a bona fide rasika guru. And so I was surprised to read his commentary on Lord Brahma’s prayers. It is quite illuminating to understand that even Lord Brahma would not assume to reach the status of the residents of Vrindavan. He did not consider it polite to even request such a position. Rather, he wanted only the humble position of a blade of grass or a stone on the outskirts of Vrindavana, just to get the dust of the feet of the residents of Vrindavana. We are mostly neophyte devotees and we take a much more humble stance than our leader of our sampradaya.

  Srila Prabhupada has said on a morning walk that we should just follow the process of Vaidhi bhakti and our rasa will be revealed to us in due course of time. Here we see that Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti is in agreement with Srila Prabhupada. It is not an easy or appropriate thing to aspire to be a gopi, in my opinion. Srila Prabhupada is telling us to just desire for perfection in Krishna Consciousness and our rasa will be revealed in due course of time. We cannot force it to appear, until it is meant to appear.

  One old godbrother, GN das, told me that he was laughed upon by some devotees in San Jose CA one time. He was always reading Bhagavad Gita and they were chiding that "why he was still reading the abc’s of Krishna Consciousness," implying that was like kindergarten level, and they’ve graduated from that long ago, and they were absorbed in the higher rasa shastras. GN said that he was not so advanced and that he had not yet perfected the understanding of the basic tenets of Sri Gita, and he was happy by doing so. 

  I see in this example, that it is true, that Sri Gita is the higher rasa shastra for us. We cannot just "read" the higher rasa sastra and imagine that we are on a certain level, when we still have basic work to do. And this is the case for most of us, if not all of us. Not to suggest that we can only read Sri Gita, no, we can eventually read the entire range of Vaisnava literature written and approved by Srila Prabhupada (as he did approve several not yet translated by himself.) Reading such books of higher rasas is certainly beneficial, but still we cannot artificially read our way into such rasas without completing the preliminaries. We must come to the platform of knowing we are spirit and not our bodies first, and then engage on that platform of a required length of time. If we assume too soon that we are qualified for a higher position, like a gopi, etc, then we are assuming more than Lord Brahma, who is leader of our sampradaya.

  We’ve seen time and time again, that some devotee, or some sanyasi had thought that he was qualified and engaged in "higher rasa" when time had told that he was still not sufficient in knowledge that "he was not his body" and he suffered some falldown, due to gross mis-identification with the material body. Srila Prabhupada has tried to spare us from this presumptuous attitude, being the precursor to sahajiyism.

  Srila Prabhupada teaching is, that first we realized "we’re not this body" and perfect our service and sadhana bhakti and preach Krishna Consciousness, and use our youth in the service of our Guru’s mission, and then "samadhi later" and eventually our rasa will be revealed to us by our Guru, who has been pleased with our lifelong service.

  This is my opinion, any further comments from prabhus is very welcome.

  Your servant Visoka dasa  

Reply to this article by Harinama dasa on letters


 

The Iconoclast and the tolerant Vaisnava

Iconoclast means one who challenges the icon, or the established rule, the status quo, the methodology of doing things. He thinks it is not good enough, that a change has to be made. The iconoclast seems to always cause trouble to the establishment. He often makes war with the system. He is the revolutionary who tries to change the order of things. He is like the Astrological sign of Scorpio, the sign of destruction which comes in order that new life and new ways may appear. Scorpio is the natural 8th sign of destruction, and so the Scorpio person is critical and penetrating, and hard to fool. He is the detective who solves the mystery. He will not settle for untruth, and will not rest until truth is established.

            Actually this is the nature of all of us, in the state of being pure souls, we are sat-cit-ananda. In our pure state, we are pure cit, or we are full of knowledge. This is our constitutional position. We really only want full knowledge and nothing less. We are never happy until we get full knowledge. Untruth, or avidya, will never satisfy us.

            Avidya is the nature of the material world. Everything seems to degenerate into avidya. Even religious institutions will gradually become tainted by avidya. This is said in Bhagavad Gita, where Krishna says he comes when there is decline of religion. BG 4.7 - dharmasya glanir.

            That is the nature of living in the material world. Pure Vidya is not stable in this material world and has the tendency to slide down into avidya. The iconoclast is somewhat instrumental in the change of things. But he is resisted and he is often constrained by the status quo. Jesus challenged the status quo of the Jews. Socrates also agitated his countrymen. They were dealt with heavily. Also Lord Caitanya marched against the Kazi, and Srila Bhaktisiddhanta agitated the status quo Brahmin class, and his life was threatened. Srila Prabhupada also bucked the Gaudiya Math system. We can see here that the questioning of authority and systems is not always a bad thing. If he is just a fault finder like a Ramachandra Puri, then that is different.

            Often, we may see this as Krishna's plan to clean house. Since we live in the material world, we can expect to have dirt accumulated in the house, and it will need cleaning. Those in charge of the house should not dread this, thinking that they will be mistaken for the dirt and be discarded. The dirt is only avidya thinking and actions. Srila Prabhupada built a house for everyone to live in, and sometimes the house may need cleaning.

            The image of the Scorpion is fearful and the impulse is to immediately kill the insect. Also the Scorpio person who points out impalpable truths gets a similar reaction from the materially tainted. Most tend to think they are situated well and are above avidya. We devotees should be above this smug platform of thinking we are fine and beyond improvement. The devotee welcomes critical improvement. Non-devotees abhore it.

            Who are the most extreme kinds of iconoclasts? We the devotees. We are the penultimate Scorpio class. The karmi sees death coming when he sees the shaven headed, chanting devotees, dancing down the street. The sacred icons of the karmis are sex, intocication and meat eating, and we wage war on these things. To shave your head and dance in sheets in America is the ultimate kind of revolutionary. The wealthy man posseses his estate and thinks he is situated nicely, but the devotee reminds such a kripana that such things will not save him at the time of death. But he does not appreciate.

            Similarly, different kinds of Scorpios will come to the devotee at times, in different forms. Sometimes it is personal avidya that he will hint at, and sometimes he is the social reformer. In either case, the devotees should be far above the previous mentioned scenarios in history, namely Jesus, Socrates, etc, and not react with dread and vengence to eliminate the agitation.  Indeed, Lord Caitanya did not react adversely to Ramachandra Puri, but actually took his poor advice, and acted on it, instead of arguing. Lord Caitanya sets the example for tolerance of all agitations and we try to follow in his footsteps. The advice was poor in that case, but sometimes the advice may be Krishna's way of penetrating false ego and cleaning house. Krishna often teaches us things in most mysterious ways, often through the mouth of a godbrother, even a seemingly insignificant one.

your servant, Visoka Dasa


other articles page, such as Srila Prabhupada's infallibility - Articles #2

 

 

  Articles / Articles #2 / Hearing and Chanting /Selections / Vani / Offerings / Current Events / Letters /  Images / Sastra / News / Book Reviews / Vaisnava Art / Leela / Remembering Srila Prabhupada / Saints / Sankirtan Stories / Jokes /  Poems / Jayananda / Verses / Storytelling  / Gunga express /Vyasa Puja offerings /Home  /

contact

 

Hosting by WebRing.