Archive for September 2010

Lessons from the Twenty-four Gurus – Part 17

Hare Krishna. Please accept our humble obeisances. All glories to His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada and Srila Gurudeva.

Today in our series of mails on "Lessons from the Twenty-four Gurus", we will continue to look at the qualities to learn from the spiritual master – Ocean. The avadhuta brahmana says (SB 11.8.5):

munih prasanna-gambhiro / durvigaahyo duratyayah
ananta paaro hy akshobhyah / stimitoda ivaarnavah

"A saintly sage is happy and pleasing in his external behavior, whereas internally he is most grave and thoughtful. Because his knowledge is immeasurable and unlimited he is never disturbed, and thus in all respects he is like the tranquil waters of the unfathomable and unsurpassable ocean."

The following are the qualities to learn from the Ocean from the above verse:

1. prasanna – cheerful/pleasing

2. gambhira – very grave

3. ananta-paarah – unlimited

4. durvigaahya – unfathomable

5. duratyayah – unsurpassable

6. akshobhyah – never disturbed

We had a peek into the quality of being prasanna (cheerful and pleasing) and gambhira (grave) in the last couple of mails this series. Today we will try to delve into the next quality – ananta-paarah – unlimited

Ananta-Paraah – Unlimited: Ocean is a such a large mass of water body and it is practically not possible for us to measure the quantity of water present in it, the number of shells, pearls and so many other minerals that are present in it. Ocean also doesn’t hold back these things for its self, but it freely gives it to living entities to use the same. Similarly the knowledge of pure devotees are also immeasurable and they also freely share it with others. Also knowledge increases manifold when we share it with others. Best example of immeasurable knowledge is our founder acharya His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada. Can we ever imagine a person at the age of 70 to do so much volumes of translation of scriptures and that too these are not literal translations which could be done easily by any Sanskrit scholar. These are realized translations coming from the heart of pure devotee, who had faced heart attacks and so many hardships. Yet he has provided such a world class literary work. Inspite of our young age and healthy conditions, we are still struggling to study even once all the works that he has provided us. Also we have to remember that just writing alone was not his job. He was simultaneously creating a revolution in the world’s misdirected civilization; he was travelling all over the world; building hundreds of temples; preaching to foreign people who don’t even know what Vedic religion is or who Krishna is. He was accepting disciples, training them, guiding them, writing letters to them, cooking food for them, teaching them Deity Worship. How could he do this?  Simply because he knew that “aham sarvasya prabhavo” – He knew that Krishna is source of all knowledge and that His knowledge is immeasurable. He also knew that just like how water in the ocean does not decrease when it gives it to other, he knew that he will not loose by sharing his knowledge with others and with great compassion, eagerness and mercy he willingly toiled and moiled night and day to translate these scriptures and share it with all.

Our dear spiritual master Srila Mahavishnu Goswami Maharaj used to tell us how we will share only when we are broad-hearted and that Krishna loves to reside in such broad-hearted people. Ultimately Krishna is source of all knowledge and if we foolishly try to withhold the knowledge with us alone then to smash our pride and make us come back to our senses, Krishna will grant us forgetfulness.  It is very mind boggling to even think how much knowledgeable Krishna is as He is ananta – unlimited. I shall quote few examples which Maharaj used to tell to glorify the greatness of Lord

a) We struggle so hard, spend so much time, energy and Lakshmi to create an aeroplane. To make it fly we need so much fuel and still there is no guarantee for safe flight. Whereas consider a mosquito – Krishna’s creation, it is so small and light. No petrol. No fuel. Just flies peacefully. No noise. No need of airport or control room for landing or take-off.

b) Our own human body – just think of how the brain, heart, lung, kidney, liver, pancreas, nerves, arteries function. Can we even imagine the intelligence of the person who created this human body, so much of blood flowing throughout and yet no leakage, no screws, no bolts inside. Whereas the pipes and taps at home always have some leakage problem inspite of all the nuts and bolts and we run behind plumbers every now and then to fix.

c) We boast of inventing vehicles – which wear and tear after few years and even when they are in use, get hit on the road every now and then and there is loss of life due to accidents. And our Krishna’s Solar system – various planets are revolving around the sun in their orbits for millions of years without hitting each other. There is no traffic light system for all these planets.

d) At home we find it so difficult to keep track of our accounts – expenses, savings, investments etc.  At work Appraisal process is a big night mare. To do the work is a challenge and more challenging than that is to show the boss what all work we have done. Apart from this, if we are appraising a team of people, then to keep track of their good/bad performance is another struggle. We take help of computers and so much of technology for these things. Inspite of all these there is no guarantee that we will get/provide fair and accurate results. Whereas our Supreme Lord Krishna is keeping track of all our karmas that we did in all our lifetimes! Just if we take ourselves, each one of us have 8 million 400 thousand species and we have done so many thing in each of our lives in the past and without any Super computer, wire, plug, hard-disk storage Krishna keeps accurate track of our actions and reactions and rewards/punishes in a very fair manner. And He is doing this for all the living entities in His creation in a flawless manner.

Honestly we have to accept that His knowledge is indeed unlimited and immeasurable. It is so vast that it is definitely not possible to list them in one mail. By realizing the Supreme Lord’s magnanimity, His unlimited knowledge, intelligence, power, influence etc, we will also become full in knowledge. And this knowledge of the Absolute will give us complete satisfaction. In complete knowledge we realize that He is Vibhu and we are anu – very tiny insignificant particle in front of Him. And therefore we should be very very thankful to Him for this human birth in which we have the chance to gain spiritual knowledge. In yesterday’s offering – “Devotees don’t do cinta – They do cintan”, we heard from Gurudev how we should try to make the best use of this life and increase our spiritual knowledge by studying Srila Prabhupada’s books and spread the message to all.

We pray that we remember the words of Gurudev and strive our best to obtain whatever spiritual knowledge we can by his mercy and like the vast ocean share it with all for the pleasure of unlimited, unfathomable Lord.

Thank you very much.

Lessons from the Twenty-four Gurus – Part 18

Hare Krishna. Please accept our humble obeisances. All glories to His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada and Srila Gurudeva.

In continuation of our discussion on the topic "Lessons from the Twenty-four Gurus", we were meditating on the below qualities that we need to learn from one of the spiritual masters of avadhuta brahmana – Ocean

1. prasanna – cheerful/pleasing
2. gambhira – very grave
3. ananta-paarah – unlimited
4. akshobhyah – never disturbed
5. durvigaahya – unfathomable
6. duratyayah – unsurpassable

We had a peek into the quality of being prasanna (cheerful and pleasing) and gambhira (grave) and ananta-paraah (unlimited) in the last few mails of this series. Today we will try to delve into the next quality – akshobhyah – never disturbed.
AkshobhyahNever Disturbed.  This quality of ocean is very nicely described by avadhuta brahmana in the verse 11.8.6 of Srimad Bhagavatam

samrddha-kaamo heeno vaa / naaraayana-paro munih
notsarpeta na shushyeta    / saridbhir iva saagarah

"During the rainy season the swollen rivers rush into the ocean, and during the dry summer the rivers, now shallow, severely reduce their supply of water; yet the ocean does not swell up during the rainy season, nor does it dry up in the hot summer. In the same way, a saintly devotee who has accepted the Supreme Personality of Godhead as the goal of his life sometimes will receive by providence great material opulence, and sometimes he will find himself materially destitute. However, such a devotee of the Lord does not rejoice in a flourishing condition, nor is he morose when poverty-stricken."

Krishna is the goal of our life. Until we understand, realize and accept this truth, we are bound to be disturbed. We get disturbed when

a) Others criticise/hurt us: To accept criticism is one of the most difficult thing in this world. We remember Maharaj saying that whenever others criticise we should know that there will not be smoke without fire. There will at least be a pinch of truth in every criticism. So we should try to introspect ourselves honestly and correct our mistakes. Even if some unjust incident is happening to us, we should remember that it is definitely due to our past karmic reactions, (if not of this birth, it would definitely be because of the baggages of sinful reactions of our past lives). So in such disturbing circumstances, we need to remember and practise the golden instruction of Gurudev – "No counteraction is the best counteraction". On the other hand, if we fail to understand this and keep counteracting to the offences made by others, then in that process, we keep increasing our baggages of sinful reactions. Also we should remember that not even a blade of grass can move without His will. Our Supreme Father Krishna has sanctioned this criticism to occur now, just to purify us and help us get rid of those reactions so that we don’t carry those baggages life after life. If we are able to understand this, then we will be able to experience great peace of mind. It will also help us not to hold grudge against the people who are hurting us.

b) We are not able to flourish like others: Be it family, school, work or business life has become a rat-race now. Gone are the days when people felt happy at each other’s well-being. Nowadays there is either gross or atleast subtle envy when we see others flourishing. This envy which is poisonous like cancer unnecessarily disturbs us and impacts our health more apart from hurting others. So atleast for our own well-being, we should give up this quality of envy and be satisfied with whatever Krishna has blessed us with. Couple of years ago, we went to meet Maharaj. Even before we could speak anything, Gurudev said, "Never feel short of anything in life".  He said these words with so much gravity that we realized that our actual problem is most of the time, we wrongly think that we deserve more than what we are blessed now. Reality is we deserve nothing and whatever we are blessed now, is completely due to the mercy of Guru and Krishna. Guru and Krishna are our best well-wishers and based on our individual karmas, capacity and sincerity, They mercifully bless us those things which would help us to go back to Them sooner. Understanding this reality we should be satisfied and grateful to Them for whatever we are blessed. Instead if we get disturbed by our overflowing desires, then we are unnecessarily delaying the process of going back to Them. In Bhagavad Gita verse 2.70, Lord Krishna says

aapuryamaanam acala-pratishtham
samudram aapah pravishanti yadvat
tadvat kaamaa yam pravishanti sarve
sa shaantim aapnoti na kaama-kaami

"A person who is not disturbed by the incessant flow of desires — that enter like rivers into the ocean, which is ever being filled but is always still — can alone achieve peace, and not the man who strives to satisfy such desires."

We get easily disturbed and distracted by the miseries of this world and waste so much of our precious time. Chanakya Pandit very nicely illustrates the value of time in his Niti shastra -"aayuhu kshana eko api na labhya svarna kotibhih" – Wasted time cannot be obtained even by giving millions of gold. On our own it is not possible for us to practise this wonderful quality of akshobhyah. So we pray at the lotus feet of our merciful spiritual master Srila Mahavishnu Goswami Maharaj, Srila Prabhupada and Lord Krishna to bless us with strength to practise this quality of never being disturbed, so that we make the best use of remaining time.

Thank you very much.

Serving with Determination

Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada and Srila Gurudeva.

Today I came across below interesting article, which was describing the background of how the Brooklyn Bridge was built.

In 1883, a creative engineer named John Roebling was inspired by an idea to build a spectacular bridge connecting New York with the Long Island. However bridge building experts throughout the world thought that this was an impossible feat and told Roebling to forget the idea. It just could not be done. It was not practical. It had never been done before. Without being discouraged, years later when his son Washington became an engineer, both father and son together started the project. They hired their crew and began to build their dream bridge. The project started well, but when it was only a few months underway a tragic accident on the site took the life of John Roebling. Washington was injured and left with a certain amount of brain damage, which resulted in him not being able to walk or talk or even move.

“We told them so.”

“Crazy men and their crazy dreams.”

“It’s foolish to chase wild visions.”

Everyone had a negative comment to make and felt that the project should be scrapped since. In spite of his handicap Washington was never discouraged and still had a burning desire to complete the bridge and his mind was still as sharp as ever. He tried to inspire and pass on his enthusiasm to some of his friends, but they were too daunted by the task. As he lay on his bed in his hospital room, with the sunlight streaming through the windows, a gentle breeze blew the flimsy white curtains apart and he was able to see the sky and the tops of the trees outside for just a moment. It seemed that there was a message for him not to give up. Suddenly an idea hit him. All he could do was move one finger and he decided to make the best use of it. By moving this, he slowly developed a code of communication with his wife which she passed on to the engineers.

For 13 years Washington tapped out his instructions with his finger on his wife’s arm, until the bridge was finally completed. Today the spectacular Brooklyn Bridge stands in all its glory as a tribute to the triumph of one man’s indomitable spirit and his determination not to be defeated by circumstances. Perhaps this is one of the best examples of a never-say-die attitude that overcomes a terrible physical handicap and achieves an impossible goal. Often when we face obstacles in our day-to-day life, our hurdles seem very small in comparison to what many others have to face. The Brooklyn Bridge shows us that dreams that seem impossible can be realized with determination and persistence, no matter what the odds are.

Our Guru Maharaj, Srila Mahavishnu Goswami Maharaj too was practically old and invalid by the time he started the world tour about 20 years ago. He had a great vision following in the footsteps of Srila Prabhupada and all our stalwart acaryas to unite the entire world through the medium of devotional service. His spiritual projects, his preaching tours, his wisdom and realizations of Bhagavatam, his love of care for all the living entities, his determination and dedication to Srila Prabhupada’s mission has attracted living entities all over the world and turned them into committed devotees. When Gurudev was physically present in this world, we could always gain so much strength from him just by seeing him, hearing from him. Now after his apparent physical absence, we don’t have that luxury. But still by taking shelter of his instructions and doing our sadhana properly we will still be able to hear him and do service to please him. The son in the story did not give up after his father left, but with determination and persistence continued the mission (in spite of himself being bed-ridden due to the accident and in spite of discouragement from others) and was able to complete the mission of the father to build the marvellous bridge. Similar manner it is very important that we don’t give up or slacken in our sadhana and service and always remember the instructions of spiritual master and try our level best to follow it. Material energy is always there and so we will keep getting so many challenges. Lord Krishna says in Bhagavad Gita verse 9.14

satatam keertayanto maam / yatantash ca drdha-vrataah
namasyantash ca maam bhaktyaa / nitya-yuktaa upaasate

Always chanting My glories, endeavoring with great determination, bowing down before Me, these great souls perpetually worship Me with devotion.”

For those of us who had met Maharaj even once, we would have seen how Gurudev was doing satatam keertana – He spent every breath of his for Krishna, either chanting Lord’s name or speaking about Bhagavatam. He performed this with great determination (drdha vrataa) – that many times devotees and doctors were completely baffled and taken by the limit upto which he extended himself even when his body was completely not co-operating with him. The phrase namasyantas means bowing down before Lord. Even at the age of 90, Gurudev inspite of suffering from paralytic attacks etc, always offered full dandavat pranams to Lord. Also he used to respect all living entities with great respect, even to people who those don’t provide him proper respect

I was listening to one of Maharaj’s lectures today where in Gurudev said – "Atleast for one’s own self interest and peace of mind, we should not disrespect others, but just offer all respect to them." Simply following this instruction will save so much of our precious time and we can use it positively in the service of the Lord. Our devotional service to the Lord depends only on how much we sincerely desire to serve Guru and Krishna and not on how any other person in the world thinks about us. If our eagerness is there to serve Guru and Krishna, and we surrender to Them by sincere sadhana, then in spite of all negative circumstances, Guru and Krishna will definitely lift us from the dark bottomless pit where we are present now and help us cross over the bridge of material ocean and if They so wish, by Their mercy we can even become tiny instrument in helping other living entities cross the bridge.

The man in the story only built material bridge. But our founder acarya His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada is a living example for person with complete determination, persistence. He built a spiritual bridge to take us from the material world to the spiritual world. He followed the instructions of his dear spiritual master Srila Bhakti Siddantha Saraswathi Maharaj 100% and thats why he was able to achieve such amazing feat. It is very true that we are very very tiny insignificant soul and can never imitate such a great acharya. But we can definitely take inspiration from him and try to follow his instructions and serve Supreme Lord to the best of our capacity.

I pray at the lotus feet of our most merciful spiritual master that we don’t get bewildered or entangled by the miseries of this world, but intensify our devotional service with determination and persistence and behave in manner pleasing to him.

Thank you very much.

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