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Section Two: Faith-Personal Conviction

Adau sraddha-Spiritual life begins with faith

Adau sraddha, spiritual life begins with faith. How does it develop by association of devotees, by ajnata-sukrti, spiritual advancement that has been made unknowingly and unintentionally. By the mercy of Krsna and His pure devotee, guru-krsna-prasade paya bhakti-lata-bija. Piety can bring us closer to receive that mercy, although the mercy may be given to those who have no piety at all. Patita-pavana Gaura Hari. The most merciful incarnation. yesam tv anta-gatam papam jananam punya-karmanam-Persons who have acted piously in previous lives and in this life and whose sinful actions are completely eradicated are freed from the dualities of delusion, and they engage themselves in My service with determination. (Bhagavad-gita 7.28) The good qualities of being sinless and acting according to scriptures may lead to the association of devotees, which is the factor that can make us free from the illusory energy.

We may all recall how even in early childhood we were inclined towards spirituality or devotion. I had a large collection of comic books and my favorite one, which I read again and again was Tintin in Tibet. It had stupas, lamas with mystic power and even a sacred cow. A clear indication, one might think. Others may have similar type of memories of early childhood spiritual tendencies, whatever maybe, without the mercy of the Vaisnava one can not develop that initial faith in devotional service. As I grew up to adolescence I wrote songs accompanied by guitar and one of the choruses was, "I am nothing but a seeker for what I never found." Later when the devotees actually tried to offer me Krsna consciousness, I suddenly made maneuvers to avoid them, and only after they presented it to me again and again and Krsna turned my life upside down, did I accept. It wasn't because of the piety, which I thought I had while overlooking my sinful activity, but because of the devotees mercy that I finally recognized Krsna consciousness as the truth.

However that initial faith was very weak and shaky and I had serious doubts to deal with. Besides the general philosophy, I was coming to question my motivation, whether I really wanted to get that intensely involved in spiritual life. Moment by moment I realized that I did not only have spiritual desires, but also intense material ones. I was convinced that Hare Krsna was very exalted, but was it really me?

Faith is dynamic a growing process not so easy to develop in this iron age of Kali, predominated by the cheaters and the cheated. Who to belief, how many times betrayed? There may be a desire for freedom from corruption and hypocrisy within and without and after one has found deep and fundamental elements of truth in Krsna consciousness one may just jump forward in to a spiritual movement and accept the rest blindly. One becomes swept up in the rapids of a total change of lifestyle, which may carry one years ahead in time before one comes to question consciously, "Who am I really ?" And not just "What am I supposed to be" ? In the beginning it's all about what you do, but with time that alone won't suffice, stronger and stronger the need arises for authenticity.

Faith a Pretense

Nietzsche had no faith at all in the Christian believers, he wrote, "For example, in the case of Luther-'faith' has been no more than a cloak, a pretense, a curtain behind which the instincts have played their game-a shrewd blindness to the domination of certain of the instincts...I have already called 'faith' the specially christian form of shrewdness-people always talk of their 'faith' and act according to their instincts..." (Nietzsche, The Anti-christ)

The human side of Luther

Luther himself was an interesting person initially he lived as a priest and monk. The ecclesiastics of that time were living far remote from spiritual standards and Luther developed disgust for the entire system. While living as a monk, he recognized the sinfulness within himself and ultimately decided that the monastic life of celibacy was not feasible for anyone. Subsequently he developed a philosophy, "It will not harm the soul if the body is clothed in secular dress, dwells in unconsecrated places, eats and drinks as others do." (Marten Luther, The Freedom of a Christian, p. 279). Later he rejected clerical celibacy as well as monasticism, and, making himself the example, married a nun (Tamala Krsna Goswami, A Hare Krsna at SMU, p. 181) He believed in the mercy of Jesus Christ for those who were faithful to the New Testament.

A revolving door

ISKCON has sometimes been referred to as a revolving door, because many devotees after living a number of years in the temple return to mainstream society, which may often compromise the standards of Krsna consciousness. There is no bar to practice Krsna consciousness in any circumstance, but purity remains the criterion and the only force that can free us from revolving life after life in the cycle of birth and death.

So let us review the points we have discussed so far:

Faith-Personal Conviction

Taste moves all

Ananda-mayo 'bhyasat (Vedanta-sutra 1.1.12) by nature every living being is pleasure seeking. Our faith will be directed, wherever we believe that happiness will be found. The Bhagavad-gita describes that one develops faith according to the mode of nature that one has acquired. Prabhupada imitated the sounds of cars in New York-"woosh, woosh"-needlessly speeding by, not making any real progress in life.

Sacrifice

Another fundamental principle of life is 'sacrifice', no one can avoid it.

saha-yajnah prajah srstva
purovaca prajapatih
anena prasavisyadhvam
esa vo 'stv ista-kama-dhuk

In the beginning of creation, the Lord of all creatures sent forth generations of men and demigods, along with sacrifices for Visnu, and blessed them by saying, "Be thou happy by this yajna [sacrifice] because its performance will bestow upon you everything desirable for living happily and achieving liberation.

(Bhagavad-gita 3.10)

If everything is offered to Visnu the result will be happiness. All other types of sacrifice lead to distress. Sacrifice implies that one must first make endeavor and then gets result. Devotional service does give immediate results in partial satisfaction and complete satisfaction upon reaching the highest goal. tusyanti ca ramanti ca Devotees become pleased and enjoy transcendental bliss. Prabhupada writes, "In the preliminary stage of devotional service they relish the transcendental pleasure from the service itself, and in the mature stage they are actually situated in love of God." (Bhagavad-gita 10.9, purp.)

Duty: A devotee must sacrifice material desire

akamah sarva-kamo va
moksa-kama udara-dhih
tivrena bhakti-yogena
yajeta purusam param

A person who has broader intelligence, whether he be full of all material desire, without any material desire, or desiring liberation, must by all means worship the supreme whole, the Personality of Godhead.

(Srimad-Bhagavatam 2.3.10)

To maintain material desires

The Padma Purana describes ten offenses against the Holy Name which block one from the blissful taste of transcendence. In the 10th the point is mentioned that one should not maintain material desire. The words 'maintain material desire' mean to act to try and fulfill the material desire. 'Tivra- strong, severe, intense, hot.' The word is sometimes used to describe the direct effect of the Sunrays. Tivra-bhakti refers applying oneself fully to the process of devotional service without interruption or deviation.

The risk of fall down

In order to go beyond duty we must look for purification. By reorganizing our life and serve Krsna according to the directions of guru, sadhu and sastra our external behavior becomes purified and the internal will quickly follow. Duty and austerity are almost synonymous. Austerity means voluntarily accepting inconvenience. It is hard to remain on the spiritual path for a lifetime based on duty alone, from such a platform one can fall down any moment. We have a genuine need for bhajana, to worship and serve our Lord with deep appreciation for His kindness, His mercy and all of His other unlimited, wonderful qualities. Not merely performing sadhana as a duty, but becoming deeply absorbed in appreciating hearing and chanting the glories of Krsna and His devotees.

The reward at the end

Some believe that the results will all come at the end as a final reward, meanwhile they are chanting mechanically and spiritual life appears to be a life of self-denial.

Overcoming material desire

Krsna helps the devotee to cleanse the heart

"Outside the gateway of the temple, all the roads were also cleansed, and no one could tell exactly how this was done." (Caitanya-caritamrta Madhya 12.135)

In commenting on the cleansing of the Gundica temple, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura says that Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu was personally giving instructions on how one should receive Lord Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, within one's cleansed and pacified heart. If one wants to see Krsna seated in his heart, he must first cleanse the heart, as prescribed by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu in His Siksastaka (ceto-darpana-marjanam). In this age, everyone's heart is unclean, as confirmed in Srimad-Bhagavatam (hrdy antah-stho hy abhadrani). To wash all dirty things accumulated within the heart, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu advised everyone to chant the Hare Krsna mantra. The first result will be that the heart is cleansed (ceto-darpana-marjanam). Similarly, Srimad-Bhagavatam (1.2.17) also confirms this statement:

srnvatam sva-kathah krsnah
punya-sravana-kirtanah
hrdy antah-stho hy abhadrani
vidhunoti suhrt satam

Sri Krsna, the Personality of Godhead, who is the Paramatma [Supersoul] in everyone's heart and the benefactor of the truthful devotee, cleanses desire for material enjoyment from the heart of the devotee who relishes His messages, which are in themselves virtuous when properly heard and chanted.

A material desire is explained as a desire to enjoy the material world to its fullest extent. In modern language, this is called economic development. An inordinate desire for economic development is considered to be like straws and grains of sand within the heart. If one is overly engaged in material activity, the heart will always remain disturbed. As stated by Sri Narottama dasa Thakura:

samsara-visanale, diva-nisi hiya jvale,
judaite na kainu upaya

In other words, endeavor for material opulence is against the principle of devotional service. Material enjoyment includes activities such as great sacrifices for auspicious activity, charity, austerity, elevation to the higher planetary system, and even living happily within the material world.

Modernized material benefits are like the dust of material contamination. When this dust is agitated by the whirlwind of fruitive activity, it overcomes the heart. Thus the mirror of the heart is covered with dust. There are many desires to perform auspicious and inauspicious activities, but people do not know how life after life they are keeping their hearts unclean. One who cannot give up the desire for fruitive activity is understood to be covered by the dust of material contamination. Karmis generally think that the interaction of fruitive activities can be counteracted by another karma, or fruitive activity. This is certainly a mistaken conception. If one is deluded by such a conception, he is cheated by his own activity. Such activities have been compared to an elephant's bathing. An elephant may bathe very thoroughly, but as soon as it comes out of the river, it immediately takes some sand from the land and throws it all over its body. If one suffers due to his past fruitive activities, he cannot counteract his suffering by performing auspicious activities. The sufferings of human society cannot be counteracted by material plans. The only way suffering can be mitigated is by Krsna consciousness. When one takes to Krsna consciousness and engages himself in the devotional service of the Lord-beginning with chanting and hearing the glories of the Lord-the cleansing of the heart begins.

Cultural Transplant

How much can we absorb of what we know of Vedic culture through scriptures or whatever remains in India? How much can we retain of our own western tradition without compromising our Krsna consciousness? We are living in the West.

Miracles

"It is not possible to have a reasonable belief against miracles." -Pascal, Pensées xiii, 815

There are no miracles

Prabhupada: "Miracles means you cannot conceive how it is being done."

Miracle

ananyas cintayanto mam
ye janah paryupasate
tesam nityabhiyuktanam
yoga-ksemam vahamy aham

But those who always worship Me with exclusive devotion, meditating on My trans-cendental form-to them I carry what they lack, and I preserve what they have.

(Bhagavad-gita 9.22)

Arjunacarya, was a poor brahmana. He wrote a commentary on the Gita. When he came to the word "vahamy" - "I carry" -he changed it for "karomy" - "I have it done." Because he could not believe that the Lord would personally carry what the devotee needed. After making this change, he went out begging. While he was out two beautiful boys, one of dark and the other of a lighter complexion came at the door of his house to deliver all kinds of foodstuff. The boys told his wife, that they were in anxiety, because her husband might come and beat them. "Come one don't worry, she said, My husband would never do such a thing." But the dark-complexioned boy said, "Oh no, just see," and showed the marks on his back where he had been beaten. Then they ran away.

The wife became very bewildered and upset and did what she had never done before, she cooked and ate before her husband. When he came back he saw all the food and learned that his wife had already eaten and he couldn't understand what was going on. When he said something she was all-disturbed with him about beating the boys. What boys, he questioned now even more confused. The ones you sent with the food, she replied. As little by little, he heard the whole story, he could understand, that Krsna and Balarama had personally come. The marks on Krsna's back were from changing the sastra. Krsna had personally come to show him what he lacked.

Blind Faith

To blindly follow the right thing will also give positive result, but perseverance will be difficult, therefore blind faith is not condemned per se, but not recommended.

ajnanad athava jnanad
uttamasloka-nama yat
sankirtitam agham pumso
dahed edho yathanalah

As a fire burns dry grass to ashes, so the holy name of the Lord, whether chanted knowingly or unknowingly, burns to ashes, without fail, all the reactions of one's sinful activities.

(Srimad-Bhagavatam 6.2.18)

Philosophy

Srila Prabhupada: (blind faith) "That is not our point. We want to understand God through philosophy. 'Through philosophy' means logic. Blind faith is not our business." (Room Conversation - January 27, 1977, Bhubaneshwar)

Suspension of disbelief

We do not ask the newcomer to just have faith, but we ask for a 'suspension of disbelief ': "The interruption of a disbelieving attitude so that one may imaginatively and perhaps sympathetically enter in to the perspective of another system of thought (a religion, a philosophy, a play, a ritual) in order to see the interconnections of, and experience the feelings of, that system" . (From: Harper Collins Dictionary of Philosophy)

Blind faith to a degree

In one sense, one could say that a certain degree of blindness remains for devotional service performed in practice. The Madhurya Kadambini states that only in the stage of krsna-prema the eradication of anarthas has been completed. One might say that until one has reached that stage one can not completely see things as they are.

The effect of various degrees of anarthas may be compared to different degrees of darkness. However even if one is affected by some level of anartha one is still safe if one is properly situated on the spiritual path. While driving in the darkness of anartha we may not be able to see the entire landscape of reality as-it-is at best some contours, but if we keep our eyes on the road and the white lines of regulative principles, and don't look over our shoulder at material desires, but drive safely between them by the headlights of Guru and Gauranga's order then we are already liberated and we will attain krsna-prema.

Reason and Belief

Reason divorced from belief is mental speculation while belief without reason can easily become fanaticism. "Religion without philosophy is sentiment, or sometimes fanaticism, while philosophy without religion is mental speculation." (Bhagavad-gita 3.3, purp.)

"Belief may stem from an immediate, non-reasoned acceptance of an idea (a feeling, a hunch, a want) or from deliberately thought-out argument." (From: Harper Collins, Philosophy Dictionary)

In our own Vaisnava-terminology we speak of realization as being a direct experience of the truth of the divine reality described in the Vaisnava tradition. The term may be employed even for a slight and partial experience, but in the fullest sense of the term, it includes; direct perception of Krsna, in a Personal Form and of His energies, through a completely absorbing experience,- on the sensual, mental, emotional and intellectual plane and even beyond on the level of the soul -, of eternity, full knowledge and bliss.

In other words whereas 'belief' without reasonable argument comes across as blind and therefore naturally naive, weak, dreamy, unsubstantial and lacking actual verification; on the contrary, belief supported by argument can be transmitted instantaneously to another person through reasoning. Belief based on realization can also be transmitted to another person, but the actual experience can only be had after completing a prescribed process, which may extend over a certain period of time, similar to the requisites of a scientific experiment.

"Indicative logic"

There is another type of logic, than the hard-fact-verification approach of empiricism. There is a kind of logic that acts as an indication of the nature of things and makes sense.

For example in the Bhagavad-gita we find the reincarnation verse:

dehino 'smin yatha dehe
kaumaram yauvanam jara
tatha dehantara-praptir
dhiras tatra na muhyati

As the embodied soul continuously passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. A sober person is not bewildered by such a change.

(Bhagavad-gita 2.13)

The verse can not be taken as hard empiric evidence, why would one necessarily reach the conclusion, that 'the soul similarly passes into another body at death'? But it is implying 'a consistency of things', which make sense if the world is 'one unit' under the auspices of a Supreme Person with His particular peculiarity. Often times our faith or belief in so many given situations in every-day-life is based on this kind of 'indicative logic'.

Another example of this in relation to Krsna consciousness would be that Krsna is described as navayauvana-'ever youthful'-it makes sense, why would the Supreme Lord subject himself to old age?

Srila Krsnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami is inviting us, that if one is indeed interested in logic and argument, than he should apply it to the mercy of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and he will find it to be strikingly wonderful. This is clearly the way of 'indicative logic', by studying the life and nature of Caitanya Mahaprabhu, we'll become more and more impressed how He is consistently wonderful. And we become more and more convinced, that if there is a Supreme Lord, that He must have the qualities of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and that therefore, He must be God. For that reason we are trying to understand the qualities of Krsna as described in the scriptures and through deduction.

The Qualities of Krsna

Krsna is all attractive because of His great compassion (a logical deduction by Srila Prabhupada)

"The Supreme Lord descends out of compassion because He is more anxious to have us return home, back to Godhead, than we are to go." (Teachings of Lord Kapila, Vs 1, p.10)

Prabhupada has deeply thought about the question, why Krsna descends in this world and offers a profound and satisfying answer.

Wonderful Linguist

"Rupa Gosvami says that a person who knows the languages of different countries, especially the Sanskrit language, which is spoken in the cities of the demigods-as well as other worldly languages, including those of the animals-is called a wonderful linguist. It appears from this statement that Krsna can also speak and understand the languages of the animals. An old woman in Vrndavana, present at the time of Krsna's pastimes, once stated in surprise, "How wonderful it is that Krsna, who owns the hearts of all the young girls of Vrajabhumi, can nicely speak the language of Vrajabhumi with the gopis, while in Sanskrit He speaks with the demigods, and in the language of the animals He can even speak with the cows and buffalo! Similarly, in the language of the Kashmir Province, and with the parrots and other birds, as well as in most common languages, Krsna is so expressive!" She inquired from the gopis as to how Krsna had become so expert in speaking so many different types of languages. (Nectar of Devotion, Ch. 21 'Qualities of Krsna', 7. Wonderful Linguist)

This illustrates that Krsna is the Lord of all living beings, who takes personal interest in their well being.

Aloof from this world

In the Bhagavad-gita we are looking at Krsna, who appears to be very aloof. In the midst of the two armies-senayor ubhayor madhye-Arjuna is visidantam- 'lamenting'-and Krsna prahasan-'smiling'. Later He tells Arjuna you are mourning for what is not worthy of grief. The second chapter is very much establishing the eternity of the soul and considers the fate of the body not very important. The eleventh chapter demonstrates the Universal form, in which the Lord just crunches up the heroes of the battlefield between the teeth of His unlimited huge gaping mouths. kalo 'smi loka-ksaya-krt pravrddho- "Time I am, the great destroyer of worlds." And yet we see that throughout the Bhagavad-gita on a practical level Krsna is very involved as the friend and chariot-driver of Arjuna.

Bhakta-rupa

Caitanya Mahaprabhu is teaching us wonderful standards of life as a devotee, with very considerate dealings between devotees, deep absorption in the constant glorification of the Lord through the Holy Name, krsna-katha and any other possible means and He is always thinking of how to deliver the conditioned souls. Srila Rupa Gosvami summed up the philosophy of Sri Caitanya Maprabhu as vaisnava-seva, nama-ruci and jiva-daya: 'service to the Vaisnavas', 'taste for chanting', and 'mercy upon all living beings' respectively. These three are profound goals for a devotee's meditation.

Krsna is attracted by the smallest service

"Brahma addressed Lord Krsna as Acyuta because the Lord is never forgetful of a little service rendered by His devotee. He is so kind and affectionate towards His devotees that a little service by them is accepted by Him as a great deal." (Krsna Book, Ch. 14: "Prayers Offered by Lord Brahma to Lord Krsna" )

I like this description of Krsna, it makes Him attractive to me, because He is a person who cares, a God with a heart.

Jiva Gosvami is perceiving the forest of Vrndavana with pure transcendental vision

"Ah! Look at the deep love Vrndavana forest feels: Sometimes Lord Krsna's forest becomes stunned like a motionless mountain. Sometimes that forest trembles, its leaves and petals moving. Suddenly pushing out many new sprouts, that forest sometimes stands with the hairs of its body erect in ecstasy." (Jiva Gosvami, Gopal campu 1.20)

Personally I find Jiva Gosvami's description very attractive, he sees the reality of Vrndavana on the level of the spiritual dimension, whereas most of us just remain in the dimension of a North-Indian village between Delhi and Agra. We may only be able to imagine a spiritual world- where even the forest is overwhelmed with love of God-but it sounds certainly wonderful and attracts my heart. It would be fantastic to be in such a place. Such descriptions increase my faith, that Krsna consciousness is worthwhile.

Prabhupada, the living proof

The simple secret of success

"Now, I'll say from my practical life... It is not pride. Actually everyone knows that my Guru Maharaja had thousands of disciples. So out of thousands of disciples, practically I am little successful. That everyone knows. Why? Because I firmly believed in the words of my guru. That's all. This is the... There may be many other Godbrother, maybe very learned and very advanced, whatever it may be, favored, and... Everyone claims that "I am the most favorite." (Room Conversation - January 28, 1977, Bhubaneshwar)

He had full faith in the words of Lord Caitanya

"The potency of spreading Krsna Consciousness is everywhere the same. That was experimented by me in your country, where I came alone without any support; and Krsna is so kind that He has sent me so many boys and girls like you. Lord Caitanya said that every village and town on the surface of the world will know the message of the Sankirtana movement. This very statement affirms that in every village and town all over the world there are many candidates who are awaiting this message." (Srila Prabhupada, letter to: Sudama - Los Angeles 17 February, 1970)

Prabhupada was beyond falldown

"When I first met Srila Prabhupada, I asked him, 'Is there a stage in spiritual advancement from which one won't fall back?' Prabhupada replied, "Yes." And his answer convinced me. The perfect answer in a book would not have been enough for me." (Satsvarupa dasa Goswami)

Teacher by example

Pusta Krsna: I personally, I don't think that even Americans or Westerners would have accepted even your teachings as clear as they are without having your personal association and seeing your example. I think people would have thought that it's totally impossible to do such a thing.

Hari-Sauri: It would have remained theoretical. But because you came and showed practical example, then everything has become very easy.

(Room Conversation - April 22, 1976, Melbourne)

Proof-hungry

"Man is the architect of his own fortune.' Srila Prabhupada used to quote that. He could boast that he had started the Krsna consciousness movement with only forty rupees and that now it had become a worldwide movement. His 'boasting' assured his followers that Krsna would take care of us. Srila Prabhupada himself was the proof of that fact. Srila Prabhupada saw us as 'proof-hungry.' He tried to assuage our doubts in whatever way he could." (Satsvarupa dasa Goswami, Churning the milk ocean, p. 86)

Faith must be a personal matter

Srila Prabhupada you were also somewhat skeptical about too much dependence of one brother upon another. You encouraged us to simply follow our spiritual master according to our own convictions. That seems realistic. When we are following our own convictions, we tend not to expect so much of others. We also understand, that no matter where we go, we can serve our spiritual master. No one can decide for us what our convictions should be, except in a very general way. (Satsvarupa dasa Goswami, Churning the milk ocean, p. 86)

Prabhupada was a transparent via-medium

"He made a pirouette at the bottom of the stairs and said, 'My spiritual master made me a diamond.'" (Trivikrama Swami)

Prabhupada, a pure devotee

"No pretense, no facades, no fancy tricks. Though descended from Goloka no 'holier than thou' tendency. Just what you get is what you see-a hundred percent pure devotee." (Ganapati Swami, '96)

The perfect vision

"What pleases you most Srila Prabhupada?" Prabhupada replied: 'If you love Krsna!' (Atlanta, 1975)

Prabhupada was always happy

"Anandamayo 'bhyasat (Vedanta-sutra 1.1.12): He is by nature full of bliss. We shall never find Krsna unhappy. Krsna is always happy, and whoever associates with Him is also happy." (Teachings of Queen Kunti, Ch. 4: "Approaching Krsna, the All-pervading Truth")

To See Krsna or not?

I. Seeing Krsna always

Did you see Krsna?

The journalist had heard that the pure devotee always acts according to the desire of Krsna. His question was; 'How does he know the desire of Krsna'? Ramesvara replied; "The pure devotee is always in direct contact with the supersoul, the form of the Lord in the heart." Prabhupada said; "No, not like that, if I want to know what Krsna wants, I just ask him."

Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu showed how a devotees sees Krsna in a spiritual trance

In the Caitanya-caritamrta it is described how Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu entered into a state of deep ecstatic, trance while being in the cowshed. The limb of the Lord's body entered into the trunk just as the limbs of the tortoise are withdrawn in his shield. At that time Caitanya Mahaprabhu was in another state of consciousness and saw Krsna directly.

"After hearing the vibration of a flute, I went to Vrndavana, and there I saw that Krsna, the son of Maharaja Nanda, was playing on His flute in the pasturing grounds. " (Caitanya-caritamrta Antya 17.23.) Caitanya Mahprabhu continued to see the pastimes of Krsna along with the gopis and He was only brought back to external consciousness by the roaring chanting of the devotees. "Why have you brought me here", He asked them.

Sanjaya could see Krsna at Kuruksetra at a distances of hundred of kilometers through his mystic power

"By the mercy of Vyasa [his spiritual master], I have heard these most confidential talks directly from the master of all mysticism, Krsna, who was speaking personally to Arjuna." (Bhagavad-gita 18.75)

The face of Krsna and the hand of Krsna

Some may see 'the face' of Krsna and others may see 'the hand' of Krsna. Some may see the pastimes of Krsna in the spiritual world and other may see how everything in this world goes on by the direction of the Lord. Mayadhyaksena prakrti suyate sa-caracaram (Bhagavad-gita 9.10). Everything in this world is working under Krsna's direction. Sutre mani gana iva All that manifests are like pearls connected by the invisible thread, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. sthavara-jangama dekhe, na dekhe tara murti. (Madhya 8.274) Wherever we look we don't see the forms of things, but rather the Supreme Lord who is behind it all. In this way a Krsna conscious person can answer the question, "Did you see Krsna?" , in a positive way, "Yes, I am seeing Him all the time."

II. Love of God in seperation from Krsna

Intensified remembrance of the Lord in separation

ayi dina-dayardra natha he
mathura-natha kadavalokyase
hrdayam tvad-aloka-kataram
dayita bhramyati kim karomy aham

O My Lord! O most merciful master! O master of Mathura! When shall I see You again? Because of My not seeing You, My agitated heart has become unsteady. O most beloved one, what shall I do now?

The uncontaminated devotees who strictly depend on the Vedanta philosophy are divided into four sampradayas, or transcendental parties. Out of the four sampradayas, the Sri Madhvacarya-sampradaya was accepted by Madhavendra Puri. Thus he took sannyasa according to parampara, the disciplic succession. Beginning from Madhvacarya down to the spiritual master of Madhavendra Puri, the acarya named Laksmipati, there was no realization of devotional service in conjugal love. Sri Madhavendra Puri introduced the conception of conjugal love for the first time in the Madhvacarya-sampradaya, and this conclusion of the Madhvacarya-sampradaya was revealed by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu when He toured southern India and met the Tattvavadis, who supposedly belonged to the Madhvacarya-sampradaya.

When Sri Krsna left Vrndavana and accepted the kingdom of Mathura, Srimati Radharani, out of ecstatic feelings of separation, expressed how Krsna can be loved in separation. Thus devotional service in separation is central to this verse. Worship in separation is considered by the Gaudiya-Madhva-sampradaya to be the topmost level of devotional service. According to this conception, the devotee thinks of himself as very poor and neglected by the Lord. Thus he addresses the Lord as dina-dayardra natha, as did Madhavendra Puri. Such an ecstatic feeling is the highest form of devotional service. Because Krsna had gone to Mathura, Srimati Radharani was very much affected, and She expressed Herself thus: "My dear Lord, because of Your separation My mind has become overly agitated. Now tell Me, what can I do? I am very poor and You are very merciful, so kindly have compassion upon Me and let Me know when I shall see You." Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu was always expressing the ecstatic emotions of Srimati Radharani that She exhibited when She saw Uddhava at Vrndavana. Similar feelings, experienced by Madhavendra Puri, are expressed in this verse. Therefore, Vaisnavas in the Gaudiya-Madhva-sampradaya say that the ecstatic feelings experienced by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu during His appearance came from Sri Madhavendra Puri through Isvara Puri. All the devotees in the line of the Gaudiya-Madhva-sampradaya accept these principles of devotional service." (Caitanya-caritamrta Madhya 4.197)

The Lord with a Heart

Raso vai sah- He is the origin of all transcendental mellows. By seeing Krsna we realize how wonderful the Supreme Lord and the entire spiritual world actually is. The most wonderful is that Krsna has an active, personal relationship with all living beings.

[1.] Absolute is sentient thou hast proved
impersonal calamity thou hast moved

[2.] sadhavo hrdayam mahyam sadhunam hrdayam tv aham
mad-anyat te na jananti naham tebhyo manag api

The pure devotee is always within the core of My heart, and I am always in the heart of the pure devotee. My devotees do not know anything else but Me, and I do not know anyone else but them.

(Srimad-Bhagavatam 9.4.68)

Grateful

Any person who is conscious of his friend's beneficent activities and never forgets his service is called grateful. In the Mahabharata, Krsna says, "When I was away from Draupadi, she cried with the words, 'He Govinda!' This call for Me has put Me in her debt, and that indebtedness is gradually increasing in My heart!" This statement by Krsna gives evidence of how one can please the Supreme Lord simply by addressing Him, "He Krsna! He Govinda!"

The maha-mantra (Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare) is also simply an address to the Lord and His energy. So to anyone who is constantly engaged in addressing the Lord and His energy, we can imagine how much the Supreme Lord is obliged. It is impossible for the Lord to ever forget such a devotee. It is clearly stated in this verse that anyone who addresses the Lord immediately attracts the attention of the Lord, who always remains obliged to him. (Nectar of Devotion, Ch. 21 'Qualities of Sri Krsna, 17. Grateful)

The basis of False Faith

The Voice of the Soul

"The awakened soul says in effect to the mind and body, I am not identical with you. I do not want what you require. I have so long believed that I was identical with yourselves and that our interests were the same. But I now find that I am really and categorically different from you. I am made wholly of the principle of self-consciousness while both of you are made of dead matter. Being matter you can act and be acted upon by matter under the laws of nature. Nature makes and unmakes you, but she has no power over me. I am not benefited by your growth or harmed by your decay. You grow and decay by the laws that govern your relationship with this physical universe. Falsely identifying myself with you, I find myself compelled to suffer pain and pleasure due to physical vicissitudes that overtake you. I find myself unnaturally yoked to your functions such as eating, drinking, producing thought etc., etc. and am forced to believe them to be my own functions by which I am benefited. I shall of course have to stay with you as long as it is intended by Providence that I should suffer the consequences of this unnatural alliance with you. I shall permit you to do only what I consider to be necessary for my well being viz. getting back in to my natural position of free conscious existence unhampered by the unnatural domination by longing for material enjoyment. I refuse to be any more a slave of the sensuous inclinations of the mind and body." (Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati, Real and Apparent)

Notes from the Madhurya Kadambini (Second Shower of Nectar)

Obstacles to the development of deeper faith

There are two symptoms which begin to manifest as one has begun on the path of devotional service. The first is klesaghni (relief from all kinds of material distress) and the second is called subhada (beginning of all auspiciousness). There are five types of klesa which are destroyed by bhakti:

  1. Avidya-ignorance; to falsely identify with or not to have the proper understanding or awareness of a situation.
  2. Asmita-false ego; to identify with the body or only to accept things which can be experienced on the gross level.
  3. Raga-attachment; the desire for material happiness and less suffering.
  4. Dvesa-hatred; aversion to unhappiness or the causes of unhappiness.
  5. Abhinivesa-one who is attached to sense enjoyment and is afraid that death will take it away.

From these arise the tendency for right or wrong actions, causing religion or irreligion, and thus sinful and pious activities.

Bhakti eradicates klesa and simultaneously bestows subhada or auspiciousness which consists of such qualities as disinterest in material affairs, interest in the Supreme Lord, friendliness, mercy, forgiveness, truthfulness, simplicity, equanimity, fortitude, gravity, respectfulness, humility and being pleasing to all. There is a difference in the rate at which the undesirable qualities disappear and the auspicious qualities appear. Bhakti develops gradually in specific stages. The first stage is called sraddha (faith) which is to have firm trust in scripture or to be enthusiastic to follow the activities of scripture (sadhana).

Faith may be of two types:

A. Svabhaviki-spontaneous
B. Baladutpadita
-aroused by forceful preaching

Faith then leads one to a spiritual master. By following the instructions of the guru one obtains association of realized devotees (sadhu-sanga). Next comes bhajana-kriya in which different types of devotional activities are practiced. This has two catergories: 1. anisthita-unsteady; 2. nisthita-steady.

Unsteady devotional service progresses in six stages:

  1. Utsahamayi-false confidence or one may be puffed up with enthusiasm.
  2. Ghana-tarala-Sporadic endeavour; being sometimes diligent and other times negligent.
  3. Vyudha-vikalpa-indecision (extensive speculation); the mind spends time pondering on whether to renounce or take to household life.
  4. Visaya-sangara-struggle with the senses or the inability to give up sense enjoyment.
  5. Niyamaksama-inability to uphold vows whish results in the inability to improve in ones devotional service.
  6. Taranga-rangani-enjoying the facilities offered by bhakti, i.e., material gain, worship, and position. These are weeds around the creeper of bhakti. Seeking pleasure (ranga) in the weed-like facilities which are small waves (taranga) in the ocean of bhakti.

Atheism

What is the meaning of your atheism?

" "Convince the atheist, whose mother has died, that there is a higher power, call it nature or death itself. Then you have to accept there is a higher power. So what does it mean you are an atheist?" -Jayadvaita Swami

Atheism in danger

"There are few people so stubborn in their atheism who when danger is pressing in will not acknowledge the divine power." -Plato

Only a saint has such tolerance

"The divine is perhaps that quality in man which permits him to endure the lack of God" -Jean Rostand

Congratulations for the atheist

Upon meeting an atheist we will definitely congratulate him, because it is so rare to find a believer these days, someone with such strong faith. We will ask him, where does he get such a strong conviction, whereas others are doubtful and uncertain.

A pragmatic argument

"If truth is what works, as Pierce and the pragmatists insist, there must be a kind of truth in the Bhagavad-Gita As-it-is, since those who follow its teachings display a joyous serenity usually missing in the bleak and strident lives of contemporary people." -Dr. Elwin H. Powell, Professor of Sociology, State University of New York.

In between Hiranyakasipu and Prahlada

To test us the Lord is residing behind the material world. Adyapi sei lila kare guara raya, kona kona bhagyavan dekhibara raya. Even today Lord Gauranga is performing His pastimes, but only a few fortunate souls can see that. You are hearing the kirtana through the books. Therefore you should not think that you are lacking in anything.

Once Hiranyakasipu concluded that the Supreme Lord does not exist in this world. He tried in many ways to convince Prahlada of this, and he presented many arguments against the Lord's existence. But Sri Nrsimhadeva appeared from a pillar and Hiranyakasipu and the whole world was benefited. The devotee sees the Lord everywhere and the non-devotee can not feel His presence anywhere. We are situated in the middle sometimes we show our attraction for devotional service the next moment we engage ourselves in material enjoyment. It is by the desire to serve the Lord, that we can control the desire to enjoy the world. (Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, letter, Sri Caitanya Math, Sri Mayapur, December 22, 1927)

God is dead

1. "Hiranyakasipu being an atheist thought this way. Because Lord Visnu was not visible to Him, he thought that the Lord was dead. 'I've searched the entire universe but I could not find Visnu who has killed my brother.'" (Srimad-Bhagavatam 8.19.12, purp.)

2. "The current propaganda that "God is dead" is spread because people want to continue being rascals without restriction." (Elevation to Krsna consciousness, 'Knowing Krsna as He Is')

3. "By His orders the sun is rising, the moon is rising, the water flows, and the ocean abides by the tide. Thus everything functions under His order. Since everything is going on very nicely, how can one realistically think that God is dead? If there is mismanagement, we may say that there is no government, but if there is good management, how can we say that there is no government? Just because people do not know God, they say that God is dead, that there is no God, or that God has no form. But we are firmly convinced that there is God and that Krsna is God." (Science of Self-realisation, 'A Definition of God')

4. "We human beings have our economic problem, but what economic problem is there in societies other than human society? The bird society has no economic problem... . So they have created problems-what to eat, where to sleep, how to mate, how to defend. These are a problem to us, but the majority of creatures-the aquatics, the fish, the plants, the insects, the birds, the beasts, and the many millions upon millions of other living creatures-do not have such a problem... . And who is providing their food and shelter? It is God... God is supplying. The elephant eats hundreds of pounds of food. Who is supplying? ... So the process of acknowledging that God is supplying is better than thinking, 'God is dead.'" (The Science of Self-realisation, 'Knowing the Purpose of Life')

5. "Devotee: Is it all right to disturb the mind of the envious?

Prabhupada: Envious?

Devotee: Yes so many people are so envious of God.

Prabhupada: Everyone is envious. They have declared that God id dead. There is a proverb in Bengali, that one person wanted to see how many thieves are there in this village, and when he began to scrutinize he realized that everyone is a thief. Similarly, envious, you begin from President Johnson and go to anyone, they are all envious of God consciousness. You see? Otherwise in Los Angeles city, there are millions and trillions of people, and only a dozen people are coming here. You see? Why? They are envious. 'What is this nonsense God consciousness, Krsna consciousness?' You see?

So we have to disturb them. That is our duty. We have to disturb these envious persons, 'Hare Krsna!' (laughter) That is our duty, to disturb them. And that is the greatest service. Just like a man is sleeping. And somebody is coming to kill him, and other friend, 'Mr. such and such, wake up! Wake up! Wake up!' So he may say, 'Why you are disturbing me?' But that is the greatest service, he'll be saved. Maya is coming to kill him, to send him to the darkest region of hell, and you are saving him, 'Chant Hare Krsna and be saved.'" (Bhagavad-gita, lecture, LA 30-12-68)

6. "Because we are speaking of God... Very... People are interested, 'Oh, the Swamiji is speaking of God. God is dead.' This is nonsense. You are living. 'Everyone is living. Simply God has died.' You see? This is, this philosophy is going on. Therefore bhagavata-dharma, one has to study from the very beginning of life. Otherwise we shall learn this philosophy, that 'God is dead.' So Prahlada Maharaja says, kaumara acaret prajno dharman bhagavatan iha." (Srimad-Bhagavatam, lecture 7.6.1 - San Francisco, March 3, 1967)

7. "There is a nice Bengali proverb, 'Sakuni svape garu mare na' Sakuni means the vulture. The vulture wants some dead carcass of animal, a cow especially. So for days together they do not get it, so it is cursing some cow, 'You die.' So does it mean that by his cursing the cow will die? Similarly, these vultures, Sakuni, they want to see God is dead. At least, they take pleasure, 'Oh, now God is dead. I can do anything nonsense I like.'" (Srimad-Bhagavatam, lecture 7.9.12 - Montreal, August 18, 1968)

8. "But the nonsense, they will not do even this. They'll say, "Oh, God is dead." Therefore we are suffering. We are so ungrateful that we even do not give thanks. In the ordinary way, if somebody gives me a glass of water when I am thirsty-it is etiquette-I say, "Thank you." And God has given us so vast mass of water in the ocean, in the sea, in the sky. Without water we cannot live. There is no thanksgiving. There is no thanksgiving. Rather, we say, "God is dead." There are so much profuse light. For this electric light you are paying bill to the electric company, and God is supplying so much light, in the night there as moon, in the daytime as sun." (Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.9.12-13 - Montreal, August 20, 1968)

9. "So the people do not understand it, and they are declaring, 'I am God. I don't care for God. God is dead.' How God is dead? You are under so much control, and how God is dead? You can say that there is no government, provided there is nobody to check you. But if you are in every step checked, how you can say that there is no government?" (Srimad-Bhagavatam 6.1.40 - Surat, December 21, 1970)

10. "... my Guru Maharaja used to say this material world is a society of cheaters and cheated. That's all. Combination of cheater and cheated. I want to be cheated because I don't accept God. If there is God, then I become responsible for my sinful life. So therefore let me deny God: 'There is no God,' or 'God is dead. Finish, finished.'" (Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.1.2 - London, August 16, 1971)

11. God is dead: "So in both the verses the Ajamila is described as fool, rascal, and without sufficient Knowledge. Why? Because he's attached to the child and he does not know that death is coming now. Death is there. This is our position. We say that "God is dead." God is not dead. God is coming very soon. Wait a few years, he'll be dead. This is the position. You rascal, God is not dead. God is coming to kick you, to kill you." (Srimad-Bhagavatam, lecture 6.1.27 - Honolulu, May 27, 1976)

12. "Encouragement to the dead souls in the western countries is to inform them that God is not dead. He is not only alive but also we can go and live with Him face to face. The Bhagavad-gita gives us this specific information and one who goes there in the Kingdom of God would never come back to this miserable material world." (Srila Prabhupada, letter to: Dayananda, Nandarani, Uddhava - Delhi 20 September, 1967)

God the Supreme Controller

"... a man is sitting as controller in the control room, the subway trains. He, in his table, he has got everything ready: which train is running on which line, where it is, in which station it is now. So he has got switches and he's controlling everything. Not only here, in India also they have now many (managed?). So they can say which train is where it is now. The light also moves according to the train moving. Similarly, if you can manufacture, if you can invent your own energies in different way, as the modern material civilization, they are discovering different manifestations of energy by machine, by electronics, and they are managing from one place, similarly, if it is, materially it is possible, why not spiritually? Spiritual is still finer.

So parasya saktir vividhaiva sruyate. He has got so many energies, subtle energies, that He appears to be doing nothing." (Srila Prabhupada, lecture on Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi-lila 7.113-17 - San Francisco, February 22, 1967)

Doubt

Purity is the force

"Faith is made strong by being pure. For me purity consists of mediating on my faults (lust, envy, etc.) and not stirring up my doubts by meditating on them. To give attention to my faults, not to my doubts." -Trivikrama Swami

De omnibus dubitandum est

"Doubt is everything" -Descartes.

Conclusion: There is no conclusion.

Skepticism

"If one regards oneself as a skeptic, it is well from time to time to be skeptical about one's skepticism." -Freud, New Introductory lectures on Psycho-analysis, xxx

Doubt as one of the characteristics of intelligence

"Doubt, misapprehension, correct apprehension, memory and sleep, as determined by their different functions, are said to be the distinct characteristics of intelligence." (Srimad-Bhagavatam 3.26.30)

Doubt is arising from ignorance

"The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: Now hear, O son of Partha, how by practicing yoga in full consciousness of Me, with mind attached to Me, you can know Me in full, free from doubt." (Bhagavad-gita 7.1)

"I shall now declare unto you in full this knowledge, both phenomenal and numinous. This being known, nothing further shall remain for you to know." (Bhagavad-gita 7.2)

"Those who are on this path are resolute in purpose, and their aim is one. O beloved child of the Kurus, the intelligence of those who are irresolute is many-branched." (Bhagavad-gita 2.41)

Belief and doubt

"I dreamt a thousand new paths, I woke up and walked the old one." -Chinese proverb.

There is a tendency to go for the security of the known, which may have it's good and bad sides, but at least for a known evil we may know a remedy or we have found a way to endure it. This the root-cause of narrow-mindedness, prejudice and the likes. The thought of new variety may be enticingly adventurous, but the risk of unexpected discomfort or worse a nightmare-scenario creates doubt. As children we carefully venture out in to the world making sure we remain in the close vicinity of our mother, and as we mature in to adulthood we extend our safe territory, to family, friends, society, money in the bank and such, which lends us the necessary self-assurance to face the world. When suddenly Krsna consciousness emerges in the middle of our life it may be expected that there will some confusion at first. In that way doubt, reservations and introspection are all part of a natural growing process.

During the semester break I decided to take my experience with the devotees to another level and went to stay at the temple. I was not quite prepared for my experience and it was a bit overwhelming. I live an alternative lifestyle, trying to live as ethically as possible, but what I experienced at the temple was not just another religion, but another culture. It was culture-shock. The religious part was not a problem for me, I loved the time spend in the temple room chanting and dancing. What was hard for me were the little things: shoes off in certain areas, no eating or drinking in the kitchen, gender segregation, no toilet paper in the bathroom. I felt I could not handle all this so I left the temple earlier than I had planned; it was just too much for me to take at one time. I had a good experience though, and was glad I had gone to stay at the temple; for several days after my return I awoke chanting as I had at the temple.

I did not give up on the religion, and had the opportunity to go to the festival several weeks ago. I had been really exited before I left Stellenbosch, but upon arrival at the temple I freaked out. What on earth was I doing? I hadn't felt like I fit in before so why was I coming back to torture myself more? Once the activities started however, I was nearly in ecstasy. The temple room full of devotees all worshipping Krsna was amazing; I chanted, I sang, I danced with what little space was available among the crowd. The talk was exceptional and I was free for several days afterwards.

I am working on chanting on a continuous basis, I haven't so far had the drive to get up early every morning, but after a call from the temple the other day I am really going to work on it. I really want to reconnect with Krsna, I want to be with God, for only God is with us always. Only Krsna will never leave us, and only through Krsna is everlasting bliss.

Bhaktin Deborah,
Environmental Science Student
University of Stellenbosch
Capetown, South Africa

I appreciated the honest and straightforward account Deborah gave of her experiences in a newsletter and therefore I took the liberty of including her article here. I was remembering some of my own personal experiences. Like Deborah I was accepting the philosophical side, and I certainly had difficulties with the cultural differences, but my foremost doubt was about accepting the four regulative principles (To avoid entanglement in sinful life, "No fish, meat or eggs, no intoxication, no gambling and no illicit sex.") and whether I really wanted to do that for the rest of my life.

Doubts in a positive sense can help us to achieve authenticity in our spiritual practices. However such type of doubts are not in the fundamental elements of the process; such as that Krsna is the Supreme, in the truth of scripture, or the holy name. In a spirit of positive doubt we may question our own commitment to the practices or our motivation, such type of doubt can be directed towards the individual or may be applied on a collective scale.