Short Questions and Answers

1. Thinking of Krishna at the Time of Death

Q: Is going to Goloka (Krishna’s transcendental abode) really as simple and mechanical as visualizing Krishna and all other material representations of him… or is my understanding incomplete? Because if this is the case, it seems like a rather easily manipulatable system. About as manipulatable as anything else in the material world. Please explain this to me.

A: It appears mechanical to you because you think that it is easy to think of Krishna at the time of death. It is difficult to think of Krishna while living what to speak of an abnormal situation like death. Can you think of Krishna at your will? Do you have control over your thoughts? Do you know what thoughts you will have next second? Lie down and close your nostrils and mouth so that you cannot breath and feel suffocated and see if you can think of Krishna at that time. Or poke a needle in your hand and try to think of Krishna. Death is a much more problematic situation. You are being kicked out of your house called body in which you have lived so long and are very much attached to it. You surely do not enjoy this moment. In the same verse of GIta where Krishna talks of thinking about Him at the time death, He has used the phrase sada tad-bhava-bhavitah (the mind is controlled by previous remembrance).  People forget about this part. It means only those who can think of Krishna always while living will be able to think of Him while dying. You have to get this bhava or the mood of devotion and that is not mechanical at all.

2. Sac-cid-ananda of the Jiva

Q: When it is said that the jiva is sat-cit-ananda [eternity, knowledge and bliss], I understand that this is not the sat-cit-ananda of Krishna’s svarupa shakti. So what is meant by that in relation to the jiva?

A: When it is said that jiva is sac-cid-ananda it means that it is not acit or inert like mater and it is not miserable. This is done mainly to distinguish the jiva from the mind, which some philosophers take it to be.

3. Liberation

Q: Did Kamsa attain sayujya [oneness with the Lord or merging into his body] (SB 7.1.31) as in the tika of Visvanath or sarupya [same form as the Lord] (SB 10.44.39) as said within the sloka?

A: Both are mentioned, as you have stated. I would say that he first got sayujya and then sarupya, as is evident from the instance of Sisupala. Sometimes it happens that an asura [demon] who is killed by Krsna enters into His body (Bhagavat Saujya) but later he is taken out and given a sarupya mukti.

4. Radharani’s coronation

Q: I don’t want to disturb Your bhajana with my questions unnecessary but I would like to know something more about Sri Jiva Gosvami’s writting style. In Madhava Mahotsava He shows aisvarya aspect of Srimati Radhika. I am interested to know what is reason for it? Is Srimati’s coronation real or is it just play, as Her mana (pride, sulking) is a means to increase Krsna’s desire?

A: There is a philosophical reason behind it. Madhurya (sweetness) is founded on aisvarya and thus it is sometimes needed to depict it. This is also to remind us so that we do not mistake their pastimes to be ordinary love affairs. Because they are so similar, so there is good possibility to mistake them due to our past samskaras (subtle impressions) buried in our heart.

5. Bhakti

Q: Bhakti doesn’t come by tapasya (austerities), but because of Grace and through association. It is yadrcchaya (out of God’s own volition). However, according to Mahabharata, the bhakti to the Supreme Lord arises in the heart of an individual as a result of penances performed in the thousands of the previous birth. What is the reason for giving a different explanation of bhakti?

A: Sometimes some statements are made which appeal to people, but have  a hidden meaning. Sanskrit is language with many meanings.

6. God’s Vehicles

Q: Every God has a vahana (vehicle) – Vishnu has Garuda, Brahma the Marala swan, Shiva the bull Nandi, Kamadeva has a parrot, Ganesh a mouse, but Krishna, Ram and Mahaprabhu do not have a vehicle. Is there a significance in this? Perhaps this shows their humanity?

A: Rama has Hanuman, and Krishna has Garuda. But because their lila is a human lila they do not use them unless to show their aishvarya (majestic) side, like when Krishna went to fight with Bhaumasura and then to heaven to return the ear-rings. So you are right “this shows their humanity”.

Identity versus Cancer

La identidad contra el cáncer

E

verybody has the innate desire to be healthy, happy and immortal. Yet everybody experiences sickness, sadness and death.

By nature we are healthy and sickness is an abnormal state. The word for healthy is svastha or ‘situated in the self’. Thus, being unhealthy or sick means to not be situated in one’s self. How can one not be situated in one’s self? Where else can one be situated? How is it even theoretically possible not to be situated in one’s self?

The answer to this riddle is given by Sri Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita. He says that a living being is a combination of prakriti and purusha, matter and conscious being.

Purusha or atma means conscious of entity or soul. The union between prakriti and purusha has no beginning. The purusha or an individual being is conscious by nature and prakriti inert. Purusha is immutable, immortal, healthy and happy by its very nature, and prakriti is ever in flux.

Although purusha and prakriti have opposing qualities, they have been together and their union is causeless and hence beginningless. The awareness of the purusha can be either self-oriented or the other-oriented. When it is self-oriented, the purusha is said to be situated in the self and hence svastha or healthy. When the awareness of the purusha is other-oriented i.e. engrossed in the objects of the world, which are products of prakriti, the purusha is said to be not situated in the self or asvastha i.e. unhealthy or spiritually sick.

In the present state, a living being is other-oriented because he is not aware of his true nature distinct from the body and the mind. Therefore, in the view of the Bhagavad Gita, every living being is sick. Even the so-called healthy person is unhealthy. Therefore, everyone suffers continually unless one becomes self-realized and thus self-situated.

In our present state, our consciousness is diverted to the mind, senses, body and the objects of the world. These are all creations of prakriti. In other words, right now the purusha is oblivious of its own self and absorbed in prakriti’s products. The consciousness of the purusha makes the ego, mind and senses conscious in the present body.

The ego, called ahankara, gives a particular purusha or soul its sense of individuality in the acquired body. Purusha has its own real ego, but at present, the purusha is conditioned by the material ego in the particular body. The material ego or ahankara has an important role to play in our material health. In other words, we can say that there are two types of health – spiritual and material. Spirtually everybody is sick; materially, some are healthy and some ill.

When it refers to material health, svastha means to be situated in sva or ego. The word ‘sva’ here means material ego or ahankara and not the purusha. This isn’t the Freudian ego, but ahankara, the power of individual identity that separates every living being from other living beings.

This is a material element and gives me my identity. It makes me know that I am I and not you, he, she, it, or they; it perpetually reminds me that I am ahankara or material ego. Because each of us has a body, a mind and a soul or purusha, we each have a body-I, mind-I, besides the soul-I. To be materially healthy, we have to be situated in body-I and mind-I. Therefore, a strong sense of individuality is important to the health of an individual.

In spiritual societies often there is stress on renouncing one’s ego, making spiritualists prone to illness. People who practice a spirituality in which stress is placed on renouncing the material ego or individuality without realizing the spiritual identity, invariably become sick.

Traditional societies, such as India, gave a strong sense of identity to an individual. This was one of the functions of varnasharam system (wrongly translated as caste system). In fact, in an individual’s life, many rituals were performed to make him/her aware of his/ her identity or a change of identity with change in one’s body or social status.

In modern society, this beautiful science is getting lost, which is one of the reasons most people are sick. Identity crisis or confusion is a big problem for the immune system.

Modern people tend to disregard their cultural roots in the name of globalization. People living in New York, London, Munich, New Delhi, Bangkok or Tokyo seem to dress, eat, behave and live in a similar manner. The world, they say, is a melting pot in which all cultural identities have been boiled into a soup called confusion. This confusion is translated as freedom.

We have assumed false personalities derived from veneer of addictions to our sensory indulgences, defining freedom as unlimited sensual gratification. We forget that we are not free if we are not aware of our true selves. We are being exploited by consumerism which indoctrinates us through enticing advertisements.

Because of this lack of proper identity, we have become violent to ourselves. We do not hesitate to eliminate any part of our body if we are convinced that it is not beneficial: wisdom teeth, tonsils or appendices. We take chemotherapy, antibiotics and antiseptics to kill bacteria or virus in the body. If this does not work, we do surgical operations. To look beautiful, we do plastic surgery.

We destroy the body in order to save it or make it look attractive. One who can be violent to himself will not hesitate to be violent to others. No wonder there is violence all around. Our art, music, literature, everything depicts this violence. Even our farming has become violent. We spray our crops with harmful chemicals to kill worms and weeds. This ultimately finds its way back to us through food with carcinogenous effect. This is how karma works.

When ahankara or ego is weak, it cannot fight with the rebellious cells in the body. The cancerous cells challenge the ahankara in a civil war to take over the possession of the body–which interestingly is referred as ksetra or land by Sri Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita.

Although ahankara is in love with the body (its ksetra or kingdom) and tries to stay alive as long as possible, if the willpower to live is weak or ahankara is not very strong, it succumbs to its rival. There have been many amazing stories of people recovering from cancer because of their sheer willpower or strong ahankara. But if one becomes hopeless because of some intense shock in life, then even well-integrated people can become victims of cancer. Even a temporary stint of hopelessness may be enough to initiate a cancerous state in the body if there is ama (undigested food) accumulated in the body for a long time. Exposure to powerful chemical or radioactive carcinogens engender hopelessness in the healthy cells of the body. They sense the fatal implications of such an exposure. This cellular hopelessness weakens the ahankara further which eventually culminates in the death of the body. Ahankara is a material element and becomes affected by the health of cells in the body.

When an individual undergoes a mental or physical experience utterly indigestible to the ahankara, it sows the seeds for cancer. This experience just awaits an opportunity to find an abnormal rebellious cell in which to live and thrive. Ahankara controls the millions of cells of the immune system that safeguard us from potential mental and physical parasites.

Cells of the immune system discriminate between that which is body and that which wishes to enter it. They are like the homeland security force, knowing what to heal and what to kill. Only when one has a clear memory of one’s identity can immune cells can discriminate between body and parasites. But, by not willing to face the indigestible experience, ahankara herself isolates and provides an opportunity to this indigestible experience to acquire an identity and individuality of its own.

When this rebellious identity finds a suitable host cell in the stored ama (undigested food stored in the body), it possesses it just as a ghost may possess a human being. Undigested food and undigested experience make a good combination and nourish each other. This is the reason that cancer patients don’t have good digestion. Cancer cells receive their physical nourishment from ama and their mental tonic from hopelessness.

People who are starving for love in their social relations are vulnerable to cancer because ahankara does not like to exist without the sense of love and affection. One who cannot bond externally cannot bond internally. This encourages the alien or rebellious cells to bond.

Potential cancer patients often feel a deep sense of existential loneliness in their lives. Any powerful frustration can weaken one’s ahankara. Therefore, strong ahankara is important for good health in general and specifically to fight cancer. Love and affection are tonic to ahankara. No wonder, everyone craves it incessantly, although only few fortunate ones really get it. True love is possible only when one is spiritually healthy.

Here it may be noted that having strong ahankara does not mean becoming materialistic and forgetting our true identity as a purusha, a part of God. Without this realisation, everyone is unhealthy.

Even if we have a strong ahankara we are not free from sufferings of life coming from our own mind and body, from other beings or natural catastrophes. If we take stock of our life’s pains and pleasures, we will find that life is strewn with more pains than pleasures. We are not aware of that because we tend to forget the pains and remember the pleasurable experiences.

The root cause of all suffering is ignorance of our self. We try to know about everything around us, spend hours surfing the Net but pay no attention to the true “I”. This ignorance is the real cancer. It cancels our whole life into nothingness. We are born empty-handed and die empty-handed. The bodily cancer finishes with the body, but the cancerous disease in the form of ignorance of the self is carried on to the next life. We have been carrying this cancer in our previous lives and shall continue to do so if we do not cure it now.

by Satyanarayana Dasa

Addiction means Slavery of the Mind

Spanish Translation: Adicción significa la esclavitud de la mente

Usually, the word ‘addiction’ is used in the negative sense. It has been defined with regard to psychoactive substances such as alcohol and tobacco which, if ingested, alter the mood and/or perception of the person consuming them.

But addiction, in true sense of the word, is not limited only to alcohol and drugs, etc. One may become addicted to gambling, a particular type of food such as chocolate or coffee, sex, pornography, computers, video games, internet, work, exercise, TV, shopping and even spirituality. There may also be so-called good addictions which people may praise such as getting up early in the morning and visiting a temple or church.

The question that may be raised is how to distinguish whether an addiction is good or bad in the ultimate sense. From modern, psychological point of view, a bad addiction is characterized by impairment in behavioural control, craving, inability to consistently abstain, and diminished recognition of a significant problem with one’s behaviours and interpersonal relationships. In other words, addiction is a recurring compulsion by an individual to engage in a specific activity, despite harmful consequences, as deemed by the individual himself to his individual health, mental, or social life.

From the psychology of Yoga, both good and bad addictions are to be avoided because both are conditioning to the material world. Sage Patanjali in his Yoga Sutra says that whatever we perceive with our senses – internal as well as external – can be divided into five groups which he calls vrittis or states of mind. According to him, whenever we perceive anything, it brings a modification in the state of mind. Mind is the key instrument in perception. Mind takes the shape of the particular object perceived. Mind is compared to a fluid which takes the shape of a container in which it is poured. This shape is termed as vritti.

A particular vritti stays for a moment and is replaced by the vritti of the newer perception. But, before a vritti is replaced by a newer one, it leaves an impression called samskara in the chitta or heart. This samskara is the basis of our remembrance of a particular object or action later on. If we perform an action repeatedly, we fortify the samskaras of that action in our chitta. When we perform an action for the first time, we are very conscious of it. But if we have done it many times, we can do that action without much awareness. For example, when we first begin learning how to ride a bicycle, we are very much concentrated on the act of riding. We cannot think of anything else. But once we have learnt riding it and have practiced riding for a long time, then we can ride the bicycle while thinking of our job or some other plan we want to execute. We hardly pay any attention and everything seems to happen automatically. This is because by riding the bicycle repeatedly we have created deep samskaras of how to ride a bicycle. Riding becomes a reflex and does not need much of our attention. We have developed a habit of riding.

Addiction works in a similar manner. The only difference between riding a bicycle without being aware of it and addiction is reward (such as comfort to one’s ego) from the addictive activity. If riding a bicycle would be used for that type of relief or reward, then it will also be considered an addiction. Addiction, then, would mean any compulsive action performed to gain a relief or reward. If such action is harmful to health, impairment in behavioural control, then it is an undesirable addiction. It may lead to guilt, shame, fear, hopelessness, failure, rejection, anxiety, humiliation, and depression. But, if it improves one’s health, wealth, status or awareness, then it may be a welcome addiction. In fact, a person himself, or others, may not recognise this as an addiction.

From the point of spirituality, however, both types of addiction must be given up ultimately. The goal of spirituality is to make one free of all conditioning- good as well as bad, since both are part of materialism. Whether one is bound by silk ropes or iron chains, one is not free. Both must be abandoned to become liberated. Therefore, following even spiritual rules and regulations in an addictive manner (niyama-agrah) is also considered as an obstacle to one’s progress in spiritual life.

We must perform our actions with awareness; otherwise we become slaves of our own mind. Addiction means to become a slave of the mind. To be happy, healthy and prosperous, we must get rid of this slavery and become a free citizen in the true sense of the word.

by Satyanarayana Dasa

Jiva Goswami Disappearance Day Celebrations

by Jagadananda das on January 8, 2011
Mahanta Ananta Dasji and Satyanarayan Dasji
Mahanta Ananta Dasji and Satyanarayan Dasji

Radha Kund, Jan. 7, 2011 (VT). On Friday, a group of devotees led by Baba Satyanarayana Dasji went to celebrate Sri Jiva Goswami’s disappearance day at the Sri Chaitanya Sanskrit School of the Jiva Institute at Radha Kund, first visiting Radha Kund Mahant Pandit Ananta Das Babaji. The function was organized by Pandit Sri Ananda Gopal Dasji and Pandit Ashoka Dasji, the two teachers at the school.

The program began with recitation of stutis in glorification of Srila Jiva Goswami and the other Goswamis. This was followed by arati and puspanjali. Afterwards all the students and visitors did parikrama of Radha Kund while chanting the Shruti-stuti from the chapter 87 of the tenth canto of the Bhagavata Purana. This was followed by a sumptuous feast including the famous local rabari and rasagulla.

Reception at the bhajan kutir of Jiva Gosvami at Radha Kunda
Reception given at the bhajan kutir of Jiva Gosvami at Radha Kunda

Afterwards, everyone gathered again at the feet of Sri Jiva Goswami and spoke in glorification of him. Many of the students spoke in Sanskrit highlighting the works of Jiva Goswami. Sri Ananta Krishna Das said that our sampradaya is the only sampradaya that has its own grammar system. Everyone else has to study Panini or some other grammar. The greatness of Sri Jiva Goswami’sgrammar , called Harinamamrta ,is that every sutra contains the name or names of Krishna. Therefore while memorizing sutras one is naturally chanting the holy names which is very pleasing to Vaishnavas.

Baba Satyanarayana Dasji spoke about the greatness of Jiva Goswami’s Sat Sandarbhas. He said that he has just completed writing a commentary to Paramatma-sandarbha and Bhagavata-sandarbha will go to press soon. He explained how Sri Jiva Goswami proves that the Bhagavata Purana is the natural commentary to Vedanta Sutra.

Baba stressed the need to study the works of Jiva Goswami. “Sri Jiva Goswami wrote these books for us not for himself. The best way to glorify him is to study his works and apply his teachings in our life. People in our sampradaya think that doing bhajan (by which they mean chanting) is most important thing. But according to Sri Jiva Goswami,the word bhajan means to do service. Moreover to do bhajan one must know the theory of bhajan from the works of Sri Jiva Goswami. The quality of one’s bhajan will improve if one is clear about the siddhanta.”

Speaking at Chaitanya Sanskrit School
Speaking at Chaitanya Sanskrit School

Baba also said that we should not worry that if we engage our time in study we will not be able to maintain ourselves. This is one of the arguments posed by people. “If we take to study, follow the teachings and preach this philosophy to inquisitive people, then maintenance will be arranged by Krishna. We must have this faith.”

Satyanarayan Dasji also stated that the Bhakti Sandarbha published by him is being used as a textbook at Rutgers University (USA). In fact, one of the students who took the course on Bhakti Sandarbha, Mr. Robert Lindsey, has come to Jiva Institute for further study.

Reciting the Prayers by the Vedas personified in honor of Jiva Gosvami
Reciting the Prayers by the Vedas personified in honor of Jiva Gosvami Radhakunda

He concluded his talk by thanking Pandit Ananda Gopal Dasji , who is engaged in the translation and commentary of Sarva-samvadini of Sri Jiva Goswami.

Pandit Anand Gopalji thanked all the students for arranging such a nice festival. He said that it is by grace of Srimati Radharani that the festival has been arranged at Radha Kund after previously being held at Vrindavan every year. He highlighted the importance and greatness of Sarva-samvadini. He marveled at the genius of Jiva Goswami who shows the conclusion of Bhagavata Purana in Acintya-bheda-abheda while discussing the lacuna in all other existing philosophies. He also shows how every school of knowledge achieves its perfection and has a role to play in devotion to Krishna. Otherwise these systems remain imperfect.

The program ended with distribution of warm clothes to all the teachers and students by Jiva Institute management.

Activities about Jiva Institute Vrindavan and its founder, Babaji Satyanarayana Dasa