How to Counteract Impersonalism?

Question: How to Counteract Impersonalism?

My request to you is can you please be more elaborate and explain with some examples how to counteract the argument of "Is God impersonal?"

I sincerely, thank you for your answer, and although it may be clear for me, it is not that clear if I would want to explain this to someone else. Whenever, I have to counter argue this question, I give the example of a powerhouse and electricity. I tell the person that considering impersonal is like comparing it to the electricity which we don't see. But any intelligent person can understand that the source of electricity - "energy" is the Powerhouse - "God". But I think that this argument is not sufficient to destroy the audiences doubt. So kindly suggest what verses from the Vedic knowledge can be given.

Answer: The Powerhouse is Turned On by a Person

A powerhouse cannot turn itself on. There must be a person, an engineer, who turns on the powerhouse.

Arjuna clearly describes that God is person and that this is confirmed by the great Vedic authorities:

arjuna uvāca
paraṁ brahma paraṁ dhāma
pavitraṁ paramaṁ bhavān
puruṣaṁ śāśvataṁ divyam
ādi-devam ajaṁ vibhum
āhus tvām ṛṣayaḥ sarve
devarṣir nāradas tathā
asito devalo vyāsaḥ
svayaṁ caiva bravīṣi me

"Arjuna said: You are the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the ultimate abode, the purest, the Absolute Truth. You are the eternal, transcendental, original person, the unborn, the greatest. All the great sages such as Nārada, Asita, Devala and Vyāsa confirm this truth about You, and now You Yourself are declaring it to me."--Bhagavad-gita 10.12-13

Can We Preach to the Envious?

Question: Can We Preach to the Envious?

Lord Krishna says that one should not preach the message of Bhagavad-gita to those who are not austere, or devoted, or engaged in devotional service, nor to one who is envious of Him. But practically when senior devotees go for preaching or book distribution, they invariably happen to preach to such people. Does it amount to some sort of offense ? Please clarify.

Answer: Make Everyone Non-Envious

As you have pointed out, Lord Sri Krishna states in the Bhagavad-gita:

"This confidential knowledge may never be explained to those who are not austere, or devoted, or engaged in devotional service,nor to one who is envious of Me."
-- Bhagavad-gita 18.67

Therefore we preach in a very introductory, non-confidential way to those who are not sufficiently qualified for the higher level confidential knowledge of Krishna, which is understood by the devotees. By the merciful association of the devotees even the envious can become purified and qualified to receive transcendental knowledge. Therefore those who have realized what is the real meaning of Krishna consciousness fully dedicate their lives for giving Krishna consciousness to everyone. There is no offense in such preaching. In fact because it is the order of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu that all devotees, even the neophytes, tell everyone they meet about Krishna, if we don't tell everybody about Krishna, we are committing the offense of disobeying Lord Caitanya. The principle is to give everyone what they can handle according to their level. For those who not unqualified we preach in an introductory way and for those who are non-envious we can describe the confidential aspects of the science of Krishna consciousness. It would a big mistake to use the above verse of the Bhagavad-gita to not engage oneself in preaching activities. We MUST preach to everyone we meet. Simply we have to tailor fit our message according to their level of consciousness.

How to Know One's Occupational Duty?

Question: How to Know One's Occupational Duty?

When I was reading chapter three of the Bhagavad-gita I understood the importance of occupational duty and how lust is our enemy. But I failed to understand what is occupational duty and how one can identify his or her duty. In those days people followed the varnashrama system, but how is it applicable in today's life?

Answer: By Surrender to Sri Guru

For perfect understanding of occupational duty one should fully surrender himself at the lotus feet of the bona fide spiritual master. The spiritual master will then engage him in doing his duty in such a way that it is pleasing to Krishna. And in this way by pleasing Krishna he will become free from lust. This is the real meaning of varnashrama.


When a yogi holds the idea, ‘I am the Self of the universe, Shiva’, with unwavering conviction, he is established in the Self. One may have heard and understood the teaching but residual doubt and negative emotion can wash it away. Sadhana then becomes a process of strengthening the hold of ‘I am the Self’, and weakening the hold of doubt. As sadhana progresses, conviction gradually overcomes the latter. I certainly had my own generous portion of doubt and negativity. For Baba’s words to have had the lasting effect they had on me, they must have been charged with grace.

The sage Abhinavagupta, whom I will quote again and again, pointed out that anupaya can refer to ‘no means’ or ‘slight means’. A ripe seeker who comes into the presence of a realised being, may instantly be transformed. Or, more likely, a single spiritual instruction, accompanied by a powerful descent of grace, can effect a transformation that is both profound and permanent.

Baba had transmitted the direct experience of Kashmir Shaivism to me. The audacious equation, ‘I am Shiva’, is its essential insight. The first aphorism in the first text of Kashmir Shaivism, the Shiva Sutras, proclaims, Chaitanyamatma: The Self is Consciousness. In my innermost nature, I am my own awareness. That awareness is nothing but the Self and it is also Shiva or universal Consciousness and universal love. My personal awareness is the same stuff as universal Consciousness. I am Shiva and Shiva alone, though I may find it hard to grasp and hold this notion. Maheshwarananda, the 12th-century Shaivite master, says: The most beautiful of rubies is veiled by the brilliance of its own rays.

Thus, although it shines forth the greatest light for the entire world, the Self is not manifest. Like a gem, hidden by its own brilliance, Consciousness is hidden by all the mental and emotional manifestations that are its own creations. The yogi has to cut through these delusions to find the underlying truth.

Is Everything Predestined?

Question: Is Everything Predestined?

My question is: Is everything predestined?

Answer: Only Within the Material Energy

As long as we remain within the material energy everything is predestined by the law of karma. But each of us has the power to opt out of karma chakra, the wheel of karma, at any time by taking shelter of the supreme person, the source of all existence, Lord Sri Krishna. When we take shelter of Krishna and His spiritual energy we are no longer manipulated by the stringent laws of material nature being dragged helplessly through endless births and deaths in this painful material existence.

गणेश परम चेतना के प्रतीक हैं

गणेश दिव्यता की निराकार शक्ति हैं, जिनको भक्तों के लाभ के लिए एक शानदार रूप में प्रकट किया गया है। गण यानी समूह। ब्रह्मांड परमाणुओं और विभिन्न ऊर्जाओं का एक समूह है। इन विभिन्न ऊर्जा समूहों के ऊपर यदि कोई सर्वोपरि नियम न बन कर रहे तो यह ब्रह्मांड अस्त-व्यस्त हो जाएगा। परमाणुओं और ऊर्जा के इन सभी समूहों के अधिपति गणेश हैं। वह परमतत्व चेतना हैं, जो सब में व्याप्त है और इस ब्रह्मांड में व्यवस्था लाती है। आदि शंकर ने गणेश के सार तत्व का बड़ा सुंदर वर्णन किया है। हालांकि गणेश भगवान को हाथी के सिर वाले रूप में पूजा जाता है, उनका यह स्वरूप हमें निराकार परब्रह्म रूप की ओर ले जाने के लिए है। वे अगम, निर्विकल्प, निराकार और एक ही हैं। अर्थात वे अजन्मे हैं, गुणातीत हैं और उस परम चेतना के प्रतीक हैं जो सर्वव्यापी है। गणेश वही शक्ति है जिससे इस ब्रह्मांड का सृजन हुआ, जिससे सब कुछ प्रकट हुआ और जिसमें यह सब कुछ विलीन हो जाना है। हम सब इस कहानी से परिचित हैं कि गणेश जी कैसे हाथी के सिर वाले भगवान बने। शिव और पार्वती उत्सव मना रहे थे, जिसमें पार्वती जी मैली हो गईं। यह एहसास होने पर वे अपने शरीर पर लगी मिट्टी को हटाकर उससे एक लड़का बना देती हैं। वह स्नान करने जाती हैं और लड़के को पहरेदारी करने के लिए कहती हैं। जब शिव लौटते हैं, वह लड़का उन्हें पहचान नहीं पाता और उनका रास्ता रोक देता है। तब शिव लड़के का सिर काट देते हैं और अंदर प्रवेश कर जाते हैं। पार्वती चौंक जाती हैं। वे समझाती हैं कि वह उनका बेटा था और उसे बचाने का निवेदन करती हैं। शिव अपने सहायकों को उत्तर दिशा की ओर इशारा करते हुए किसी सोते हुए का सिर लाने के लिए कहते हैं। तब सहायक हाथी का सिर लेकर आते हैं, जिसे शिव जी लड़के के धड़ से जोड़ देते हैं और इस तरह गणेश की उत्पत्ति होती है। क्या यह सुनने में कुछ अजीब सा है? पार्वती के शरीर पर मैल क्यों आया? सब कुछ जानने वाले शिव अपने ही बेटे को क्यों नहीं पहचान सके? शिव जो शांति के प्रतीक हैं, उनमें क्या इतना गुस्सा था कि वे अपने ही बेटे का सिर काट दें? और गणेश का सिर हाथी का क्यों है? इसमें कुछ और गहरा रहस्य छिपा हुआ है।

पार्वती उत्सव की ऊर्जा का प्रतीक है। उनका मैला होना इस बात का प्रतीक है कि उत्सव के दौरान हम आसानी से राजसिक हो सकते हैं। मैल अज्ञानता का प्रतीक है और शिव परमशांति और ज्ञान के प्रतीक हैं। गणेश द्वारा शिव का मार्ग रोकने का अर्थ है अज्ञानता (जो इस सिर का गुण है) जो ज्ञान को पहचान नहीं पाई। फिर ज्ञान को अज्ञानता मिटानी पड़ी। इसका प्रतीक यही है कि शिव ने गणेश के सिर को काटा।

और हाथी का सिर क्यों? ज्ञान शक्ति और कर्म शक्ति दोनों का प्रतिनिधित्व हाथी करता है। हाथी का बड़ा सिर बुद्धि और ज्ञान का प्रतीक है। हाथी न तो किसी अवरोध से बचने के लिए घूम कर निकलता है और न ही कोई बाधा उसे रोक पाती है। वह सभी बाधाओं को हटाते हुए सीधे चलता रहता है।

गणेश का बड़ा पेट उदारता और पूर्ण स्वीकृति का प्रतीक है। उनका अभय मुदा में उठा हाथ संरक्षण का प्रतीक है -घबराओ नहीं -मैं तुम्हारे साथ हूं। और उनका दूसरा हाथ नीचे की तरफ है और हथेली बाहर की ओर, जो कहती है कि वह निरंतर हमें दे रहे हैं। गणेश जी का एक ही दंत है जो कि एकाग्रचित्त होने का प्रतीक है। उनके हाथों में जो उपकरण हैं उनका भी प्रतीक है। वह अपने हाथों में अंकुश लिए हुए हैं जो कि सजगता का प्रतीक है और पाश है जो नियंत्रण का प्रतीक है। चेतना जागृत होने पर बहुत ऊर्जा निकलती है जो बिना किसी नियंत्रण के अस्त व्यस्त हो जाएगी।

और हाथी के सिर वाले गणेश की सवारी इतने छोटे से चूहे पर क्यों होती है? यह बात असंगत सी लगती है न? यहां भी एक प्रतीक है, जो बहुत गहरा है. जो बंधन बांध कर रखते हैं उसे चूहा कुतर-कुतर कर समाप्त कर देता है। चूहा उस मंत्र की भांति है, जो धीरे-धीरे अज्ञान की एक-एक परत को काट कर भेद देता है, और उस परम ज्ञान की ओर ले जाता है जिसका प्रतिनिधित्व गणेश करते हैं।

What's Wrong with Meat Eating?

Question: What's Wrong with Meat Eating?

While discussing Krishna and your lessons and mails with an associate he had the following questions which I could not answer sensibly. I would like the correct answer from you so he also could see and correct his thoughts.

What is wrong is eating non vegetarian food (meat)? The Lord Himself has stated that the soul never dies. So what is wrong with the so-called killing of an animal? It will not die, and its soul may be helped by getting a better birth. So in what way is animal killing a sin?

Answer: Torturously Painful for the Animal

Even though the soul does not die when the animal's body is killed, it is a tortuously painful experience for that animal to be forced prematurely out of his body. The karma for inflicting such misery upon an innocent animal is that his killer or anyone who partakes of his flesh must take an animal birth in that species and undergo a similar fate themselves.

Killing an animal prematurely will not help it get a better birth. According to the law of karma he has a certain amount of time allotted to him to live in that particular species. By his being killed he is forced to take birth again in that same species instead of living out his natural lifespan and moving on to the next higher birth in the evolutionary process.

If a Devotee is Hit

Question: If a Devotee is Hit

Sir, in the Bhagavad-gita I read Sri Krishna saying that lust is the root cause of anger. But I don't understand the relationship between anger and lust. Suppose, if a person gets hit by another, he might get angry. But how does lust become a cause for anger in this situation? If a person does not have feelings of lust at all, how does he handle situations where he can get angry? How should have the person mentioned above reacted, if he had no feelings of lust?

Answer: Self Preservation is His Duty

Because a devotee is free of any desire other than serving the Lord his mind is always devoid of anger and peaceful. But because his body is the property of Krishna, if he is attacked by an aggressor, he has a duty to protect his body from being harmed. In such cases for self preservation he can adopt any means necessary to protect his body from injury or death, even if it is necessary to injure or kill his attacker. Even though under such circumstances it may appear that the devotee is acting out of anger, it is not so because his real motivation is his sense of duty to Lord Krishna.

Is It Okay to Catch a Good Concert?

Question: Is It Okay to Catch a Good Concert?

In the 18 August 2009 "Thought for the Day" you have written that knowing and forcing are different. I agree, but when Krishna knows what will happen to us in the future it is 100% sure to happen. It is just like everything is predestined, and we cannot act in different way. This is one of my questions that I got stuck in. Please enlighten me.

In "Thought for the Day" on 19 August you have written, "In Krishna consciousness you don't have to watch movies, travel to exotic places, or meet famous people to try to find adventure." I was completely surprised. I am a violin teacher and have worked for 14 years in a symphony orchestra. If we believe that people like Beethoven, Mozart, etc. are showing a talent which is a gift from Krishna, what is the problem with going to a good concert or watching some good movies?

Answer: Catch the Eternal Concert Within

Krishna's knowing what we will do does not mean that He is forcing us to act in a particular way. We are free to act as we choose. Krishna's knowing what we will choose does not stop us from making a free choice. Krishna is not controlling our choice of whether to serve Him or not. That choice is always up to us. We can remain suffering in the cycle of birth and death, or we can enjoy an eternal existence full of knowledge and bliss in the transcendental kingdom of God. Which do you want?

If a person is not tasting the inconceivably sweet bliss of Krishna bhakti, he will try to fill in the missing space in his heart with cinemas, concerts, novels, etc. But that person will never find lasting satisfaction in this way. He will still feel an emptiness in his heart. That aching in the heart will only be permanently relieved when he becomes fully absorbed in Krishna consciousness, the eternal concert within.

I have never found you to be rude. I very much appreciate you sincere attempt to free your mind from doubts.

In a Panic Over the Age of the Universe

Question: In a Panic Over the Age of the Universe

You were saying that the universe is 155 trillion years old. I am in a total panic hearing this. Ideally there should be no beginning and end for the universe with it only perhaps going through changes.

Answer: Manifestation and Non-Manifestation Phases

It is not a matter of my opinion. I am simply presenting what is coming down from the previous acharyas. The total spiritual sky is eternal. It has a covered portion known as the material sky in which millions and billions of universes are floating. The entire material sky goes through phases of manifestation and non-manifestation in accordance with the exhalation and inhalation of Mahavishnu. During its manifest stage when Mahavishnu exhales the material universes come out, and during its unmanifest stage when Mahavishnu inhales the material universes are merged into the total material energy and are withdrawn into the transcendental body of Mahavishnu. Our particular universe was manifested approximately 155 trillion years ago and will be destroyed in approximately 155 trillion years from now. While within the material sky the universes are being manifested and non-manifested for all eternity, within the spiritual sky millions and billions of spiritual planets remain eternally manifested.

Chanting and Cats

Question: Chanting and Cats

I have two cats who enjoy sitting next to me and listening when I chant! Is hearing the chanting of Krishna's holy names beneficial for their soul as well as for me?

Answer: Cats Benefit by Hearing Hare Krishna

Your cats were originally pure devotees of Krishna in the spiritual sky just like you were. While you are currently covered with a human body, they are covered by cat's bodies. By blessing them with the sound of Krishna's names you are helping them to more quickly evolve to the human form of life so that they surrender to Krishna and go back home, back to Godhead.

When Lord Caitanya was traveling through the Jarikhanda forest He was so spiritually powerful that He attracted all the animals to engage in chanting Hare Krishna and dancing in ecstasy. Although we are not so powerful to attract the animals to chant and dance, at least we can bless the animals by letting them hear the beautiful sound of Krishna's names.

अमेरिका में लोकप्रिय हो रही हैं हिंदू मान्यताएं

ऐसा मालूम होता है कि सब मिलकर 'ओम' कहें, अब अमेरिका में एक नया मंत्र बनता जा रहा है। अमेरिका में मोक्ष का कोई एक मार्ग नही होने और कई धर्मों के असीम शांति के मार्ग पर ले जाने की हिंदू मान्यता पर यकीन रखने वाले लोगों की संख्या बढ़ रही है। यह कहना है अमेरिकी समाचार पत्रिका न्यूजवीक का। पत्रिका के आगामी संस्करण के एक लेख में हालिया सर्वेक्षण का हवाला दिया गया है। इसमें कहा गया है कि अमेरिकी नागरिक धीरे-धीरे ईश्वर और शाश्वतत्व (सनातन) से जुड़ी सोच के मामले में पारंपरिक रूप से 'कम ईसाई' और 'ज्यादा हिंदू' बन रहे हैं। लेख हम सब हिंदू हैं में इसी वर्ष के सर्वेक्षण का हवाला दिया गया है जिसके मुताबिक 30 फीसदी अमेरिकी खुद को धार्मिक की बजाय आध्यात्मिक बताते हैं। ऐसे अमेरिकियों की संख्या 2005 में 24 फीसदी थी। यह दर्शाता है कि गिरिजाघर के बाहर आध्यात्मिकता खोज रहे लोगों की संख्या बढ़ रही है।
लेख कहता है कि, हिंदू मानते हैं कि ईश्वर की ओर जाने के कई रास्ते हैं। ईसा एक रास्ता है, कुरान दूसरा और योगाभ्यास तीसरा। ऐसा नहीं है कि कोई भी रास्ता दूसरे से श्रेष्ठ है। अधिकतर पारंपरिक और रुढ़िवादी ईसाइयों को इस तरह से सोचने के बारे में भी नहीं सिखाया जाता। लेकिन अमेरिकी अब पुरानी सोच को छोड़ रहे हैं।

Variation of Dates

Question: Variation of Dates

Forgive my lack of knowledge or understanding. You wrote on the 14th of August 2009, that day is Srila Prabhupada's day of appearance into this world. But in 2008 you wrote the same thing, on the 24th of August. I am confused. Does this day refers to his birthday into this material world or some other event in his life? I mean, how can we say one year that Srila Prabhupada was born in this world on one day and while in the next year it is on a different day?

Answer: No Variation on the Vaisnava Calendar

The Vaisnava calendar is based primarily on the phases of the moon, not primarily on the rotations of the sun as the solar calendar is based. We Vaisnavas celebrate the appearance days of the Lord and the great spiritual masters according to the Vaisnava calendar. While on the solar calendar the holy days will usually vary from year to year, on the Vaisnava calendar the holy days occur on the same day every year.

If God Is Omniscient...

Question: If God Is Omniscient...

All scriptures state that God is omniscient and that He knows everything - past, present and future. Scriptures also state that humans have a certain element of free will. If God knows everything about our future, how exactly are we free?

Answer: Knowing and Forcing Are Different.

Knowing what someone will do and forcing them to do it are not the same thing.

Why is the Guru Indispensible?

Question: Why is the Guru Indispensible?

So the path of transcendental life can only be reached through study with a master? If the perfection is there within oneself, in one's own consciousness, why is the master indispensable? Isn't it another illusion to maintain the subjugation of the masses by a few in the elite of human power? Where is individual liberty? Is it that those in other religions are not saved? Whether they be Christians, Mohammedans, or whatever they may call themselves? What do you think of these statements?

Answer: The Sincere Seeker of Truth Welcomes Someone Who Can Reveal It to Him.

We may not like to accept any master or authority other than our own minds. But the reality is that there is a higher power and authority. We are the not the supreme. Each of us is a tiny part of a Complete Whole which is much, much greater than any of us. Like it or not we are indeed subordinate to that from which we have come. We have not created this reality. Rather we were born into it. At the present moment we are in a state of disharmony with our Source. When the individual consciousness is out of sync with the Supreme Consciousness, he must necessarily suffer. This is a highly unnatural condition for him to be in because in his original pure state, he is perfectly dovetailed with the Supreme Consciousness experiencing an eternal existence full of knowledge and full of bliss.

The individual's liberty is to choose whether he would like to live in harmony with the Supreme Consciousness, or whether he would like to strike out on his own and try to create his own new reality in which he is the center of existence. Modern humanity has chosen the latter and has become helplessly entangled in the fourfold miseries of birth, death, old age, and disease. The intelligent and thoughtful person opts out of the "I am the center" mass psychosis seeking an enlightened state of consciousness in which he is liberated from all types of suffering. He has an intuitive sense that there is a higher enlightened consciousness within him. And he seeks out someone who is already self-realized who can guide him how to also become self-realized. He does not think, "I refuse to take help from anyone." Only a person who is infected by false pride would refuse to take help from someone who can give him the key to unlock the door to the eternal treasure house of unlimited love, knowledge, and bliss sitting within.

Krishna consciousness is not a religion. It is the essence of all religions. It can be practiced by anyone in any religion. It means to come to the point of perfectly dovetailing one's individual consciousness with the Supreme Consciousness, i.e. attaining a state of absolutely pure, selfless devotion to that one Supreme Person, who is the source of all existence. While Krishna consciousness is not a religion, it is religion in its original pure form. It is the pure essence of being itself.

And, by the way, I found your statements to be thought provoking, and I wish you to best in your search for truth. My search for truth was fruitful. I found it by discovering a spiritual master who revealed to me. And I hope that you can find it too!

And one more point I hope that you can understand: The sincere seeker of truth welcomes someone who can reveal it to him. Would a person drowning in the middle of the ocean hundreds of miles from the nearest shore refuse to take help from a rescue boat saying, "I do not want your help. I will swim for the shore on my own."?

Intelligence or Love for Krishna?

Question: Intelligence or Love for Krishna?

Sir, which of the following two is of greater importance in the practice of Krishna consciousness: intelligence or love for Krishna?

Answer: Love for Krishna is the Supreme Intelligence

Love for Krishna is more important and is all important. Without love of Krishna, there is no real intelligence. And when one has love for Krishna he automatically has all intelligence. Therefore there is no need to try to cultivate intelligence independently. If you will simply focus on being perfectly situated in pure love of Krishna, you will automatically become the most intelligent person. Intelligence means to see Krishna within everything and everything within Krishna. One who has such vision can deal with everything perfectly because love for Krishna is the supreme intelligence.

Significance of Chanting on Japa Beads?

Question: Significance of Chanting on Japa Beads?

I have noticed that you mention chanting 16 rounds on japa beads. Nowadays we find some devotees using alternative counting methods. Is there any significance to chanting at least 16 rounds on japa beads?

Answer: Japa Beads Empower Our Chanting

I have seen a tendency in our movement of inventing something new. This is not a good tendency. We should stick to the orders coming down from Srila Prabhupada and the previous authorities. Srila Prabhupada told us to chant "round the beads." Why we should try to invent something new that was not given to us by Srila Prabhupada? Did Srila Prabhupada ever give someone a clicker at the time of initiation? No, he did not. He always gave his disciples japa mala beads because this was what the disciple is to use to count h
is daily vow of Hare Krishna japa.

There are many examples in our tradition of chanting on beads. Lord Krishna has a japa of 108 beads that He uses to count the cows. Lord Caitanya chanted on beads. Haridas Thakur and the six Goswamis all chanted a prescribed number of rounds daily of the Hare Krishna mantra on beads. Chanting with beads is prescribed by Santana Goswami in the Hari Bhakti Vilasa. Where is the authorization in the scriptures to introduce some new type of counting system such as the so-called clicker? Clickers (as picture below) cannot be substituted for japa beads.
It is not on the basis of blind faith that we accept japa beads for chanting instead of clickers. There is a practical value in chanting on the beads. Because at the time of initiation we receive the beads that were chanted on by our spiritual master, our beads are sacred. The more we chant on our beads, the more they become surcharged with spiritual energy. And the more they become surcharged with spiritual energy, the more they can assist us by empowering us to dive deeper and deeper into the holy names. By chanting on japa beads we are connecting with Srila Prabhupada's order to chant on beads and thus we gain his transcendental association and his powerful blessings to assist us in taking complete shelter of the holy names. And by taking complete shelter of the Lord's holy names we will quickly achieve spiritual perfection. Clicker chanting does not have the same potency.

How to Select a Guru?

Question: How to Select a Guru?

I wonder whom to make my spiritual master, as I have no perfect knowledge myself to test the person whether he is following the shastras (the scriptures) and his own spiritual master perfectly. I feel sometimes I should select my master fast. Please advise what is good for me whether to have patience and read thoroughly Prabhupada's books first and then select a master or something else? Basically I am not able to develop a faith in any of the Prabhupada's disciples who are living today and always feel that nobody is as good as Srila Prabhupada. Please forgive me if I appear arrogant.

Answer: See Who is Purely Representing Krishna and Srila Prabhupada

The original spiritual master is Lord Sri Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, because He is the source of all knowledge and is the supreme authority.

Right now you are feeling that you are lacking in perfect knowledge and cannot therefore discern who is a bona fide spiritual master. Therefore you should deeply absorb yourself in studying and following the teachings given by Srila Prabhupada in his books. In this way you will become nicely connected with the Supersoul, Lord Sri Krishna within your heart, who will then reveal to you who is your spiritual master.

Srila Prabhupada will always remain in a completely unique position as the Founder-Acharya of ISKCON and the pre-eminent acharya for the modern age. No one can ever take his position. So you simply must find a spiritual master who purely represents him and who can therefore perfectly connect you with him. Even though such a spiritual master is simply a tiny servant of Srila Prabhupada, by purely representing Srila Prabhupada that spiritual master can act as powerfully as Srila Prabhupada for delivering his disciples by the divine potency which Srila Prabhupada has invested in him.

I hope that you see how I am purely presenting and following the teachings of Srila Prabhupada so that you can put your faith in my instructions.

Acceptance without Understanding?

Question: Acceptance without Understanding?

When we do not understand something we have to refer to the guru, the devotees, and the scriptures. But even if after consulting them we are still not convinced, do we have to accept or not?

Would you please explain what is the difference between blind adherence and real realization?

Answer: You Must Inquire Further

When you are not convinced, you should not blindly accept. If you are not convinced, you should inquire further from the spiritual master and the devotees as much as is necessary until you have perfect comprehension of the science of the Absolute Truth.

When one has personally experienced the truth of Krishna one's realization is real and his adherence to the practices of Krishna consciousness are based on that personal experience, not blind adherence.

The Vedic Conception of Sound in Four Features

In the Vedantic traditions, sound is considered one of the most important principles of existence, as it is both the source of matter and the key to become free from it. One who can thoroughly understand the four stages of sound as explained in the Vedic texts can utilize this science to become free from the bondage of matter.

When trying to understand the four levels of sound, we must first understand what is "sound" as defined in the scriptures. In the Srimad Bhagavatam (3.26.33) we find an interesting definition for sound (shabda) as follows:

arthashrayatvam shabdasya
drashtur lingatvam eva ca
tan-matratvam ca nabhaso
lakshanam kavayo viduh

"Persons who are learned and who have true knowledge define sound as that which conveys the idea of an object, indicates the presence of a speaker and constitutes the subtle form of ether."

This may not be an absolute definition of sound, as there are various levels of sound to define, but it provides us with a solid foundation to begin our study of this topic. This definition, as given in Srimad Bhagavatam, is very interesting in that it differs completely from western and modern views of defining sound.

First, those who are learned and who have true knowledge define sound as that which conveys the idea of an object. Sound is not just the vibration created by the meeting of two objects. Sound is that which conveys the idea of an object. The exact word used in this connection is "artha-ashraya" or "the shelter of the meaning". In the Vedic conception the aksharas (letters) are bijas, or seeds of existence. The audible sound is categorized into 50 alphabets of Sanskrit starting from "a" and ending with "ksha". Hence the alphabet is called "akshara", which literally means "infallible" or "supreme". Akshara is also a synomyn for pranava (Om), the sum of all syllables and source of all vedic hymns. The Bhagavad Gita confirms this as follows:

karma brahmodbhavam viddhi
tasmat sarva-gatam brahma
nityam yajne pratisthitam

"Regulated activities are prescribed in the Vedas, and the Vedas are directly manifested from akshara, the sacred syllable Om. Consequently the all-pervading Transcendence (pranava or the syllable 'Om') is eternally situated in acts of sacrifice."

Karma, or duty, is manifested from the Vedas. This manifestation is not exactly direct, for one is spiritual and the other is material. This is indicated by the word udbhavam. On the other hand, the manifestation of the vedas from the pranava (Om) is direct, and thus the word used to describe it is sam-udbhavam, and not just udbhavam.

In the tantras the aksharas are traced back to their material source level which is a particular deity of Shakti. Each of her stages of manifestation are phases in the evolution of the universe. Thus the aksharas are potent sound, constitutionally connected to objects as sound (shabda) and its meaning (artha).

This is interesting in that it draws a distinction between sound and noise. Noise, as distinct from sound, is not the artha-ashraya, or the shelter of meaning.

Sri Baladeva Vidyabhushana in his commentary to Vedanta Sutra 1.3.28 says that the creation of all living entities proceeds from the remembrance of their form and characteristics by Lord Brahma reciting the corresponding words. From this we can begin to understand to potency of sound and its meaning.

The second aspect of Srimad Bhagavatam's definition of sound that is unique from modern thought is that sound is defined as "that which indicates the presence of a speaker". Thus sound must be a product of consciousness. In this senses, sound is sometimes referred to as vak, or speech, throughout the Vedic texts.

In the tantra system the purva mimamsaka’s theory of the eternality of shabda (sound) and artha (meaning) is accepted. They go a little further to assert that shabda and artha are the embodiment of Shiva and Shakti as the universe itself. They name their original source as shabdartha-brahman instead of a mere shabda-brahman. For, that is the source of both the objects and their descriptions. Words and their meanings - what they denote in the objective world - are the variety of manifestations of shakti.

As sound is of the nature of the varnas (syllables) composing it, the tantra affirmes that the creative force of the universe resides in all the letters of the alphabet. The different letters symbolize the different functions of that creative force, and their totality is designated as matrika or the "mother in essence".

Thus Tantra sees the mantras as not just a mere combination of whimsical sounds but as the subtle form of the presiding deity; and the real purpose of one’s meditation through the mantra is to communicate with the deity of that particular mantra.

Just as a sankalpa - a pure thought - has to pass through several stages before it actually manifests as concrete creative force, the sound of a particular mantra also has to pass through several stages before it is fully experienced by the listener in perfection. These stages are termed as para, pashyanti, madhyama and vaikhari.

Each level of sound corresponds to a level of existence, and one's experience of sound depends upon the refinement of one's consciousness.

It takes a realized consciousness to experience the full range of sound, the full range of existence. The seers who can comprehend the four stages of sound are known as Manishis.

The higher three forms of shabda are described in the Rig Veda as hidden in "guha", or within the self, whereas the forth is the external manifested speech, known as laukika bhasha.

These four levels of sound correspond to four states of consciousness. Para represents the transcendental consciousness. Pashyanti represents the intellectual consciousness. Madhyama represents the mental consciousness. And Vaikhari represents the physical consciousness. These states of consciousness correspond with the four states known technically as jagrat, svapna, sushupti, and turiya - or the wakeful state, the dreaming state, the dreamless state, and the transcendental state.

Shabda-brahman in its absolute nature is called para. In manifestation the subtle is always the source of the gross, and thus from para-vak manifests the other three forms of sound.

Though the manifestation of sound takes place from para-vak down to vaikhari-vak (or fine to gross), in explaining these stages we will begin from the external vaikhari-vak, as that is the sound we all have most experience of.

Vaikhari-vak is the grossest level of speech, and it is heard through the external senses. When sound comes out through the mouth as spoken syllables it is called as vaikhari.

Madhyama-vak is the intermediate unexpressed state of sound, whose seat is in the heart. The word Madhyama means "in between" or "the middle". The middle sound is that sound which exists between the states of sushupti and jagrat. Madhyama-vak refers to mental speech, as opposed to external audible speech. It is on this level that we normally experience thought. Some hold that wakeful thought is still on the level of vaikhari.

In the manifestation process, after sound has attained the form of pashyanti-vak, it goes further up to the heart and becomes coupled with the assertive intelligence, being charged with the syllables a, ka, cha, tha, ta, etc. At this point it manifests itself in the form of vibratory nada rupa madhyama-vak. Only those who are endowed with discriminative intelligence can feel this.

On the levels of madhyama and vaikhari, there is a distinction between the sound and the object. The object is perceived as something different from the sound, and sound is connected to an object mostly by convention.

Pashyanti-vak is the second level of sound, and is less subtle than para-vak. Pashyanti in Sanskrit means "that which can be seen or visualised".

In the pashyanti stage sound possesses qualities such as color and form. Yogis who have inner vision can perceive these qualities in sound. On this stage the differences between language do not exist, as this sound is intuitive and situated beyond rigidly defined concepts. On the stage of pashyanti-vak, speech is intuitively connected to the object. There is near oneness between the word and the experience described.

Pashyanti-vak is the finest impulse of speech. The seat of pashyanti is in the navel or the Manipura Chakra. When sound goes up to the naval with the bodily air in vibratory form without any particular syllable (varna), yet connected with the mind, it is known as pashyanti-vak.

Para-vak is the transcendent sound. Para means highest or farthest, and in this connection it indicates that sound which is beyond the perception of the senses.

Para-vak is also known as "rava-shabda" - an unvibratory condition of sound beyond the reach of mind and intelligence (avyakta), only to be realized by great souls, parama-jnanis.

On the stage of para-vak there is no distinction between the object and the sound. The sound contains within it all the qualities of the object.

In terms of the universal cosmology, vaikhari, madhyama and pashyanti correspond respectively to bhuh, bhuvah, and svah. The para-shabda ultimately corresponds to the Lord's tri-pada-vibhuti.

Within the pashyanti-vak exists the nature's iccha-shakti, or the power of will. Within the madhyama-vak exists the nature's jnana-shakti, or the power of knowledge. And within the vaikhari-vak exists the nature's kriya-shakti, or power of action.

The pranava, or the syllable "om", is the complete representation of the four stages of sound and their existential counterparts. The existential realities are the physical (sthula) which is connected to the vaikhari-shabda, the subtle (sukshma) which is connected to the madhyama-shabda, the causal (karana) which is connected with the pashyanti-shabda, and the transcendental (para) which is related to the para-shabda. These four existential realities further correspond to the four states of consciousness.

The sthula sarira, or physical body, operates in the state of jagrat (wakeful state). It is in this realm of consciousness, and through this body, that the vaikhari-vak is manifested.

The sukshma-sarira, subtle or psychic body, operates in the state of svapna. It is in this realm of consciousness, and through this body, that the madhyama-vak is manifested.

The karana-sarira, or causal body, operates in the state of sushupti, or deep sleep. It is in this realm of consciousness, and through this body, that the pashyanti-vak is manifested.

The para-vak is manifested through the fourth state of consciousness, known as turiya.

The sacred syllable "om" is composed of three matras, namely "a", "u", and "m". These three matras correspond respectively to bhuh, bhuvah and svah; jagrat, svapna and sushupti; sukshma, sthula and karana; and vaikhari, madhyama and pashyanti. Besides these three matras, the pranava ("a-u-m") is also composed of a forth constituent, namely the a-matra or anahata-dhvani - the non-syllable or unstruck sound. For our practical understanding, this a-matra corresponds to the humming sound after one recites the "om" syllable. The a-matra represents the transendence, the turiya, the para-vak.

Thus the syllable om contains all elements of existence. It is the reservoir of all energies of the Supreme Lord, and for this reason Lord Krishna states in the Gita:

om ity ekaksharam brahma

"The single syllable Om is the supreme combination of letters."

Elsewhere the Lord states:

yad aksharam veda-vido vadanti

"Those knowers of the Vedas recite Om (akshara)."

Why do they do this? Because the syllable om is the Supreme Lord and the potency of all Vedic mantras:

pranava sarva vedeshu

"Within all the Vedas, I am the symbol Om."

Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu established the pranava as the maha-vakya (the greatest statement) of the vedas, for within it exist all Vedic hymns (and shabda). The world itself is a manifestation of this syllable. It is the sound representation of the Abslute Truth.

The vak is not a manifestation of the material nature, for the Vedanta sutra 2.4.4 states as follows:

tat-purvakatvad vacah

This indicates that the vak existed before the pradhana. Pradhana is the root of the material manifestation - the three qualities non-differentiated in absolute equilibrium. Yet prior to this is the vak. Thus the vak is non-material.

For this reason we find in the Vedanta Sutras the following statement:

anavriti shabdat

"Liberation by sound."

Since sound is the non-material source of the material manifestation, it is the key by which we can become free from bondage. It is the thread-like link between the material and spiritual realms.

In describing the four phases of sound, sometimes the descriptions of one will overlap another, or sometimes an aspect of one will seem to be attributed to another. For example sometimes pashyanti is described as "mental sound", whereas madhyama will be described as "intellectual sound". This will require a deeper explanation of the intricacies of these stages of sound and their relationships. Such an explanation is not possible here at this time.

To study these concepts in greater depth one may refer to the Nada-bindu Upanishad, Bhartrihari's Vakyapadadiya, Prashna Upanishad, Mundaka Upanishad, Mandukya Upanishad, Maitri Upanishad and Katha Upanishad, as well as the concepts of shabda, vak, matrikas, hiranyagarbha, four states of consciousness, etc., as found in the tantras and throughout the upanishads. One should remember that in Vedic study one will not generally find a book on a particular topic (such as "vaikhari", etc.) One must study from numerous sources and assimilate a number of apparently diverse concepts. These concepts must then be harmonized internally. This constitutes the meditation and sacrifice of svadhyaya yajna.

For those who have assimilated these topics, they will find all this information contained in detail within nine technical verses of Srimad Bhagavatam beginning from 11.2.35 and ending at 11.2.43. For example, if one sees verses 38 through 40 one will find a complete explanation of sound in four levels and the process of manifestation. One must be trained to see the inner meaning of words, for these topics are discussed in esoteric and confidential manners:

paroksha-vada rishayah
paroksham mama ca priyam

"The Vedic seers speak about these topics indirectly in esoteric terms, and I am pleased by such confidential descriptions."

When we see such words as pranah, manasa, sparsha-rupinah and chandah-mayah as occuring in verses 38 and 39, we should immediately understand the indirect and esoteric nature of the discussion, and thereby conclude the direct meaning being inferred by these words. We must learn the transcendental code of the Vedas. In reality everything is explained in the Srimad Bhagavatam in full, but because we generally lack the proper vision to understand the indirect and esoteric discussions, we therefore need to study and refer to other more direct scriptures. Thus the commentaries of the Acharyas will help us to understand these topics.

The science of sound, shabda-vijnana, as explained in the above mentioned verses of Srimad Bhagavatam, is also summarily explained in the pancharatrik text known as Lakshmi-tantra as follows:

mulam adharam arabhya dvistkantam upeyusi
udita aneka sahasra surya vahnindu sannibha
cakravat punar adharat santa pasyatha madhyama
vaikhari sthanam asadhya tatrasta sthanavartini
varnanam jananim bhutva bhogya prasnoumi gouriva

"Seated in the area starting from the muladhara to the position of dvistkanta with effulgence equal to the rising of millions of suns, fires and moons. Like a wheel from the adhara becoming the sounds known as santa, pashyai, madhyama. Reaching the posititon of vaikhari, there situated in eight places, viz., the throat etc. Being the mother of all sounds I bestow enjoyments like a cow."


A simple glossary of Sanskrit words used in this Post:

acharya - A spiritual master who teaches by example.

akshara - The alphabet, literally "infallbile".

artha - "Meaning"

avyakta - "Unmanifested" or "inconceivable".

bhuh - The earthly planetary system.

bhuvah - The planetary system immediately above the earthly realm.

iccha-shakti - Power of will.

jagrat - The wakeful state of consciousness.

jnana-shakti - The power of knowledge.

karana - "Causal"

karana-sarira - The causal body.

kriya-shakti - The power of action.

madhyama - The third stage of sound, sometime referred to as mental sound.

maha-vakya - The most important statement of the vedas.

muladhara - One of the seven chakras in the body.

omkara - Another name for the syllable 'Om'.

pancharatrik - A category of scriptures.

para - The first stage of sound, sometimes referred to as transcendental sound.

pashyanti - The second stage of sound, sometimes referred to as intellectual sound.

pradhana - The unmanifested material nature.

pranava - The sacred syllbale 'Om'.

sarira - "Body"

shabda - "Sound"

sthula - Gross or physical.

sthula-sarira - The gross body.

sukshma - "Subtle"

sukshma-sarira - The subtle body.

sushupti - The state of deep dreamless sleep.

svadhyaya-yajna - The sacrifice of self-study.

svah - The heavenly panetary system.

svapna - The conscious state of sleep.

tantras - a category of scriptures revealed by Lord Shiva

turiya - The fourth state of consciousness, situated beyond the wakeful state, dream state and dreamless state. The state of spiritual consciousness.

vaikhari - The fourth stage of sound. External sound.

vak - "speech"

varnas - "Syllables"

What is compassion? Can it coexist with dispassion? If so, how?

Q: What is compassion? Can it coexist with dispassion? If so, how?

A: Compassion is the very essence of yoga. In India, the worst thing that can happen is that you get reborn. In the West, we probably think it is terrific to get reborn: ‘Next time I’ll get cable TV earlier!’ However, in India, the world is seen as samsara, full of suffering and misery. The spiritual process is to detach from all the traps and hooks of the world, until you are free. And when you are free, you don’t have to be reborn. That is liberation. In certain Buddhist traditions, they talk about bodhisattvas, beings who have gotten off the wheel, who have attained enlightenment, and who nonetheless choose to be reborn. They are reborn to serve others, to help enlighten others, to teach others, to be with others. Normally, we get reborn to fulfil desires that have not been fulfilled. If we haven’t had the perfect relationship, we get reborn to pursue the perfect relationship. Notice, I said ‘to pursue’! Or we might get reborn because we are desperate to be famous. So we get reborn for selfish reasons, but the bodhisattva
gets reborn totally unselfishly.

The essence of compassion is sympathy for another person. It is based on a feeling of closeness. If somebody we love, who is very close, has a calamity or an illness, we have a sympathetic feeling. We usually won’t feel the same for someone who is further away or for an enemy.

Some people read the news and it takes two or three hours to get over it every morning. My father was like that. He was filled with compassion, and he would weep and moan for humanity.
But most of us have been so deadened by hearing all those stories every day that we don’t feel much. Or we feel delighted if something bad happens to someone we dislike.

A great being feels a kinship, a oneness, with everyone in the human family. He feels an inner sympathy with everyone. When your compassion extends to the whole human family, it is true compassion. But it is rare to have such deep compassion. In some forms of practice, particularly in Buddhist practice, they work on compassion. Those techniques soften you and expand your sympathy. They move you out of your ego and make you less hard and separate. That is very good. The more time we spend in self-concern, worrying about ourselves, the more separate and unhappy we become. The more we live unselfishly, the happier we are.

Eknath Maharaj was a great poet-saint of Maharashtra. Once he saw a scorpion drowning. He reached down and saved it. Of course, the scorpion stung him. He dropped the scorpion back in the water and the scorpion began to drown again. Again, he reached in and saved the scorpion. And he got stung again, and again he dropped the scorpion. And so they spent the day. Somebody was sitting there, watching this drama unfold. He said, ‘You tried to save that creature, which is praiseworthy. But that creature was so ungrateful it stung you. Yet again and again, you picked it up and tried to save it. Why did you do that knowing it would only sting you?’
Eknath said, ‘Well, it is the nature of the scorpion to sting. And it is my nature to save a drowning creature’.

Real compassion can coexist with dispassion. It needs dispassion. You see, passion is an ego-involvement, an intensity of ego-centred involvement. When dispassion comes in, the ego becomes detached. Then compassion naturally flows: compassion is our natural state. When the ego is removed and selfishness is removed, then all the barriers that we have covering our heart, hardening our heart, or creating fear in our heart and deadening our heart, are removed. What is under that is something beautiful. As we develop dispassion, we get closer and closer to compassion. Therefore, dispassion and compassion go together.

Some forms of apparent compassion are not real compassion. They are suspect. You have to test this inside yourself by the results and by the feeling within. But sometimes when you watch a movie,you are moved by that movie. Have you had that experience of being moved by a movie occasionally, maybe sometimes, surprisingly? A good work of art or literature touches a place inside. And when it touches that, you feel a certain movement inside, and you say, ‘Oh yes, the mechanism still works’. It makes you feel better about yourself, because you know that you are not too cynical, or hardened, or miserable, to still react to something good. You establish sympathy with the characters, and when something happens, you are moved in a certain way. It shows that the compassion centre is alive within each of us, although sometimes we are cut off from it. That’s a very good question.

Serving Krishna Serves Everyone?

Question: Serving Krishna Serves Everyone?

In Srila Prabhupada's purport to Srimad Bhagavatam, Fifth Canto, Chapter 15, Text 13 I came across the following sentences:

"Simply by satisfying the Supreme Personality of Godhead, one satisfies the demigods and all other living entities without differentiation. If one pours water on the root of a tree, all the branches, twigs, flowers and leaves are nourished."

If this is true, then why some parents are not supportive when their children practice bhakti? Is it because the devotee is not fully satisfying Lord Krishna?

Why is it that we always find some people who don't like devotees?

Answer: Yes, But They May Not Realize It.

It is a fact that by watering the root of a tree all the leaves and branches are nourished. And similarly by serving Krishna, who is the root of all existence, we are rendering the best service to all living beings everywhere. That some of them do not recognize how they are being served and benefitted does not negate the fact that they are being rendered the best service. This simply means that they are deeply in ignorance. Krishna is always satisfied when we fully surrender ourselves to Him. The displeasure of materialistic men does not indicate that Krishna is displeased. It simply indicates how much they are in ignorance, covered by the three modes of material nature. So now let us fully dedicate ourselves to awakening them from their deep slumber so that they can appreciate how much they are being benefitted by our service to Krishna and how much more they will be benefitted when they adopt a life of devotional service to Lord Krishna.

Purity Enhances Chanting or Chanting Enhances Purity?

Question: Purity Enhances Chanting or Chanting Enhances Purity?

Does avoiding non-vegetarian food, intoxicants, gambling and illicit sex enhance chanting? Or is it that chanting enhances the avoidance of non-vegetarian food, intoxicants, gambling and illicit sex?

Answer: Both. So Now Become Perfect and See God

The answer is "both." So whichever way you approach the science of Krishna consciousness, if you will do it with sincerity, you will be successful. You will first attain the mode of goodness in which passion and ignorance are practically absent. And from there, if you continue steadily, you will make further progress to the stage where passion and ignorance are absolutely absent, the stage of unmixed sattva or suddha-sattva. And upon reaching this suddha-sattva stage you will always be able to see Krishna eye to eye by dint of pure affection for the Lord.

Is Everything Predestined?

Question: Is Everything Predestined?

I was wondering that if everything is predestined and in control of God how does our having an independent choice make a difference? Isn't it that I'll make those choices that bring results that are predestined? I am at utter confusion at this topic. Do I really have a choice? I have seen that regardless of what I think, I am doing something else altogether. More like addiction. If so, how to get rid of it?

Answer: Not If You Surrender to Krishna

Within this material existence it is a fact that by the stringent law of karma everything is predestined. But predestiny is overcome as soon as we surrender to Krishna. As soon as we surrender to Lord, we are no longer tossed by the waves of predestiny. The devotee becomes the architect of his own destiny when he surrenders to Krishna, and he thus enjoys an eternal existence of full freedom beyond the clutches of predestiny.

If you want to get rid of your addiction to material addiction, you must replace it with an addiction to Krishna's name. Therefore we advise you that you cultivate a serious addiction by chanting at least 16 rounds of the Hare Krishna mahamantra every day on japa mala beads.

Independence Under Krishna's Control?

Question: Independence Under Krishna's Control?

In continuation to August 3 2009's question, you said since the jiva has some amount of independence, its misuse puts him under the clutches of maya. But it is also said that not even a blade of grass moves without Krishna's will. So, isn't that independence is also governed by Him?

And my second question is , when the jiva takes birth for the first time in this material world where does his karma account come from? Since all the while in the past He was serving the Supreme, how does the karma theory work?

Answer: That Would Not Be Independence.

If independence were under Krishna's control, it would not be true independence. Independence means the freedom to choose as one likes without anyone else controlling one's choice. Krishna has given us this independence because love cannot be forced. Love must come from a free choice. Since Krishna wants our love, He gives us a free choice to love Him or leave Him. Either way we are still under the control of His energy. But we have a choice which energy we choose to serve, His spiritual energy or His material energy.

The jiva, the living entity, begins his karmic account from the very moment when He tries to take the position of being the center of existence, and he becomes more and more entangled in maya's grip, the more he tries to enjoy independently from the Lord.

Mahamaya in the Spiritual World?

Question: Mahamaya in the Spiritual World?

I have a question regarding the fall of the living being, the jiva. In the Srimad Bhagavatam, 1st Canto, Chapter 1, Verse 1 it is stated:

"I therefore meditate upon Him, Lord Sri Krishna, who is eternally existent in the transcendental abode, which is forever free from the illusory representations of the material world".

I understand yogamaya, the spiritual energy, is conducting the spiritual world and she expands in the form of mahamaya, the material energy,to conduct the material world. In the case of the jiva falling from the spiritual world, would it not be the influence of mahamaya, and how is she existing in the eternal abode of Sri Krishna?

Answer: No. She is Only in the Material World.

It is a fact that mahamaya, the material energy, does not act in the spiritual world. So this may cause one to wonder that since mahamaya is not present in the spiritual world, what could influence the jiva, the living entity, to leave the spiritual world and come to the material world?

What happens is that since the living entity is part of Krishna, who is supremely independent, he also possesses a minute degree of independence. Since he possesses independence he must necessarily possess the power to misuse it. If he chooses to misuse it, he instantaneously finds himself in the clutches of mahamaya, the material energy. He does not require the power of the material energy to misuse his independence because his independence alone is sufficient empowerment. But as soon as he does so, he is immediately bound hands and foot by the material energy until that time when he is fortunate to be released by the mercy of Lord Sri Krishna's pure devotee.

Were All Souls Originally With Krishna?

Question: Were All Souls Originally With Krishna?

Were all we souls originally with Krishna in His highest abode? Say a devotee makes it back to Godhead, does he have a chance of falling down again? Or, were we never originally with Krishna in His highest abode and that's our final destination without the risk of falling down?

Answer: Yes

All of us here in this material world were originally with Krishna in the spiritual world serving Him as His devotees. By misuse of our minute independence we fell down into the cycle of birth and death. Just as it is sometimes said, "Once burned, twice shy," if we realize our mistake and go back to Godhead, we will not make the same mistake twice. Of course, since we have free will eternally we could fall a second time. But who would stick their hand in the fire a second time after already being burned once?

Is God a Human Being?

Question: Is God a Human Being?

When I was 19 years old, I had a question. I was captivated by that question: Is God a human being?

Can you give an answer on that question?

Answer: The Supreme Super Human

Although God is the Supreme Person and manifests a human-like form with two hands, two legs, etc. we should not think that He is a human being like you and me, who is subject to the laws of birth, death, old age, and disease. He is Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Since everything which exists is His emanated energy He is the original of all existence. There is nothing that exists besides what He is manifesting from His transcendental form.

Stumbling on the Path of Bhakti

Question: Stumbling on the Path of Bhakti

I have been practicing chanting Hare Krishna for a few months and have experienced the real happiness and eternal bliss for quite sometime. However, for some reason something dragged me into the wrong route and wrong doings for a week. I felt helpless and very uneasy. I don't want to get into this mess any more and want to get back to the same state of bliss I experienced before. Is this common in the spiritual path or is this extremely my fault? Please advise.

Answer: Pick Yourself Up and Resume the Process

Just a like a child sometimes stumbles and falls while learning to walk, neophyte devotees sometimes stumble and fall when they first take up the process of Krishna consciousness. The key is to pick up yourself and dive enthusiastically back into the process. Make sure not to become discouraged and give up the process. If you resume your practice with determination, you will be successful in becoming solidly fixed in Krishna consciousness.