H.H. Bhaktimarga Swami Speaks About the #GivingTOVP 10 Day Matching Fundraiser
- TOVP.org

Recently we sent out the official announcement about the Second Annual #GivingTOVP 10 Day Matching Fundraiser which you can read here. This event starts on April 26 (Akshaya Tritiya) until May 6 (Nrsimha Caturdasi) and is poised to raise over $300,000 to help the completion of Lord Nrsimha’s entire East Wing and altar in the TOVP for the opening ceremony during Gaur Purnima 2021.

In this video His Holiness Bhaktimarga Swami speaks about the importance of this fundraiser for completing Lord Nrsimha’s temple wing and altar by 2021.

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT

Due to the disastrous effects of the Corona virus pandemic worldwide and the 21 day lock-down in India, ISKCON Mayapur is experiencing a serious financial crisis. On account of this emergency situation, Ambarisa and Braja Vilasa prabhus from the TOVP have decided to help ISKCON Mayapur by creating an extension campaign to the #GivingTOVP Fundraiser called the TOVP Care Emergency Matching Fund Campaign. Ambarisa will match 10 cents for every dollar raised for the #GivingTOVP Fundraiser (online only) and donate it to ISKCON Mayapur.

For more information go ​here​.

Please download and share the #GivingTOVP Fundraiser flyer below.

 
#GivingTOVP Matching Fundraiser & TOVP Care Emergency Fund Campaign


 

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The post H.H. Bhaktimarga Swami Speaks About the #GivingTOVP 10 Day Matching Fundraiser appeared first on Temple of the Vedic Planetarium.

Gita key verses course 8 Gita 2.55 – What is happiness Why is it so elusive
→ The Spiritual Scientist

Podcast


 

Video:

The post Gita key verses course 8 Gita 2.55 – What is happiness Why is it so elusive appeared first on The Spiritual Scientist.

Shyamananda pandit Appearance
→ Ramai Swami

Srila Shyamananda Prabhu was a great devotee of Lord Chaitanya. He was a contemporary of the great Acharyas Srinivasa Acharya and Narottama Dasa Thakura. The three were eternal associates of Lord Chaitanya incarnated to spread His teachings after the Lord’s disappearance. They studied under Srila Jiva Goswami in Vrindavan. They created a resurgence of Lord Chaitanya’s Bhakti movement in Bengal and Orissa, where it was flagging in the period after the Lord had left the planet.

Sri Shyamananda was born on the Purnima (full moon day) of the month of Chaitra in a place called Dharenda Bhadura Puram, Utkala (Orissa). Noticing the auspicious moment of his birth it was predicted that he would be a great personality. His parents Sri Krishna Mandala and Srimati Sri Durika had lost many sons and daughters before his birth, so they named him Dukhi considering such a name would prevent any impending danger.

He was a brilliant child and quickly became proficient in the Vedic scriptures. After he heard the pastimes of Sri Sri Gaura Nitai, he decided to dedicate his life to Their service. With the permission of his parents, He went to a great devotee of Lord Chaitanya called Srila Hridya Chaitanya in the place called Ambika Kalna in Bengal to get initiated as a disciple and study the teachings of Lord Chaitanya.

Srila Hridaya Chaitanya accepted him as his disciple and named him Dukhi Krishna Dasa. Seeing his keen intelligence and service attitude, Srila Hridaya Chaitanya thought it best for him to study the scriptures under Srila Jiva Goswami in Vrindavan.

Srila Jiva Goswami was happy to accept the disciple of Srila Hridya Chaitanya under his tutelage. Sri Dukhi Krishna dasa carefully served Jiva Goswami and studied the scriptures of the Goswamis very seriously.  

The puspa samadhi of Syamananda Prabhu and the place where he found Srimati Radharani’s anklet are located just across the street from the Sri Radha-Syamsundara temple in Vrndavana. Sri Sri Radha-Syamsundara are his worshipable Deities.

ISKCON Hungary Distributes Free Food and Face Masks to the Needy
→ ISKCON News: Latest Stories

While strictly following the rules of social distancing and hygenes, ISKCON Hungary's Food for Life devotees help people with free hot meals and face masks during the corona virus pandemic. The 10,000 face masks were donated by Lagoon, a devotee-owned business that recently switched its production from clothing to free face masks, to help people to stay healthy. 

A lesson from the sunrise
→ KKSBlog

(Kadamba Kanana Swami, 24 September 2017, Phoenix, Mauritius, Sri Sri Golokananda Temple Lecture)

Haridasa Thakura said that if the holy name is being chanted purely when the cleansing has been done, then the holy name will give us real love of God. He continued that it is said that it is just like the rising of the sun.

In the morning, before the sun rises, there is already light in the sky but the sun is still behind the horizon. You do not see the disc of the sun, yet the light is already there. Then slowly, the red disc of the sun comes along the horizon, and then we see the sunlight directly. So when the disc is not yet visible, it is the reflection of the sun, not the actual sun. In the same way, if we have not cleansed and adopted the principles of purity, both by our behaviour and changing our character, then the holy name will not be fully manifested, and then all that will be manifested is this nāmābhāsa – the dim reflection of the holy name. So this can purify us from birth and death and it can purify us from karma, but it will not yet give us Krsna prema. But, if we chant the holy name purely, then we become intoxicated, and then we become carried away by the holy name.

The article " A lesson from the sunrise " was published on KKSBlog.

Sri Balarama Rasa-yatra
Giriraj Swami

For Balarama Rasa-yatra, we shall read from Srila Prabhupada’s summary study of the Tenth Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam, called Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead—about Lord Balarama’s visit to Vrindavan after He and Krishna had been away from Vrindavan for many years.

In our meditation on the deity of the Lord, we begin from His lotus feet and then gradually progress upward to His ankles, knees, thighs, waist, navel, chest, neck, and face. Srimad-Bhagavatam is also a form of the Lord, and so we begin its study with the lotus feet, which are the First and Second Cantos, and gradually progress upwards until we get to the Tenth Canto, which is compared to the Lord’s smiling face. The topics in the Tenth Canto are very elevated and can actually be fully appreciated only by liberated souls—because Krishna’s pastimes with His pure devotees are enacted on the liberated platform—but on special occasions like Balarama Rasa-yatra we do explore such topics.

On this occasion some years ago, I was in Vrindavan tending to a disciple, Arca-vigraha dasi, who was preparing to leave her body. Many senior devotees would come every day and read to her, discuss with her, and chant for her, and on this particular occasion I read the same pastime—about Lord Balarama’s visit to Vrindavan—from both the Tenth Canto and the Krsna book. The basic features of the pastime were the same in both texts, though there were little differences in terms of details and revelations of insights into the pastime. Today I shall read from the Krsna book, Chapter Sixty-Five: “Lord Balarama Visits Vrndavana.”

TEXT

Lord Balarama became very anxious to see His father and mother in Vrndavana. Therefore, with great enthusiasm He started on a chariot for Vrndavana. The inhabitants of Vrndavana had been anxious to see Krsna and Balarama for a very long time. When Lord Balarama returned to Vrndavana, all the cowherd boys and the gopis had grown up; but still, on His arrival, they all embraced Him, and Balarama embraced them in reciprocation. After this He came before Maharaja Nanda and Yasoda and offered His respectful obeisances. In response, Mother Yasoda and Nanda Maharaja offered their blessings unto Him. They addressed Him as Jagadisvara, or the Lord of the universe who maintains everyone. The reason for this was that Krsna and Balarama maintain all living entities. And yet Nanda and Yasoda were put into such difficulties on account of Their absence. Feeling like this, they embraced Balarama and, seating Him on their laps, began their perpetual crying, wetting Balarama with their tears. Lord Balarama then offered His respectful obeisances to the elderly cowherd men and accepted the obeisances of the younger cowherd men. Thus, according to their different ages and relationships, Lord Balarama exchanged feelings of friendship with them. He shook hands with those who were His equals in age and friendship and with loud laughing embraced each one of them.

COMMENT by Giriraj Swami

There are many points in just this one paragraph. First, Lord Balarama offered obeisances to Nanda and Yasoda, who had played the roles of His parents, and they in turn offered their blessings to Him—yet they referred to Him as Jagadisvara, the Lord of the universe. It appears contradictory that the Lord of the universe is offering obeisances to Nanda and Yasoda and that they are offering blessings to Him. But in transcendental pastimes there are two considerations: rasa and tattva. Rasa means the transcendental mellows exchanged between the Lord and the devotee in a loving relationship, and tattva means their existential positions. Although in terms of tattva, Balarama is the Personality of Godhead, vishnu-tattva, and Nanda and Yasoda are devotees, in terms of rasa, their transcendental relationship, Nanda and Yasoda are in the position of parents to Balarama and Krishna (vatsalya-rasa).

Queen Kunti prayed to Krishna,

gopy adade tvayi krtagasi dama tavad
  ya te dasasru-kalilanjana-sambhramaksam
vaktram niniya bhaya-bhavanaya sthitasya
  sa mam vimohayati bhir api yad bibheti

“My dear Krsna, Yasoda took up a rope to bind You when You committed an offense, and Your perturbed eyes overflooded with tears, which washed the mascara from Your eyes. And You were afraid, though fear personified is afraid of You. This sight is bewildering to me.” (SB 1.8.31) The image of Mother Yasoda with rope in hand and Krishna trembling in fright with tears in His eyes—even though Krishna is feared by fear personified—caused Kunti to become transcendentally bewildered.

In Krishna’s pastimes there are many such intricacies that can bewilder the intellect, and so we should mainly just hear and relish such topics; that is our first business. Once, when we were touring India with Srila Prabhupada, in Indore, a disciple asked him, “In some places we read that Lord Brahma is born from the lotus that sprouts from the navel of Lord Vishnu and that then he creates the different planets (as described in Srimad-Bhagavatam), but then in other places we read that all the planets, the different planetary systems, are contained within the stem of the lotus that sprouts from the navel of Lord Vishnu. How do we reconcile these two versions?” And Srila Prabhupada replied, “It is inconceivable. We cannot understand these topics with our tiny brains. Our only business is to love Krishna.” So, we study scripture—bhagavata-sravana, hearing Srimad-Bhagavatam is one of the five most potent processes of devotional service—and we want to understand the science of Krishna consciousness, rasa and tattva and other elements—but we cannot really fully comprehend, or accommodate, these vast topics in our tiny brains, so ultimately we just surrender and hear and relish.

Another point is that Nanda and Yasoda addressed Balarama as Jagadisvara, as if to say, “We hear that You and Your younger brother are the Lords of the universe. Why, then, do You not protect Your elderly parents?” There is a slightly sarcastic, accusatory tone. On a very high level of Krishna consciousness, a devotee, out of pure love, can accuse or quarrel with the Lord. On the transcendental platform, we find the full range of emotions; everything exists there, but in its original, completely pure state (suddha-sattva), beyond the modes of material nature. Everything there is done out of love for Krishna. In the material world, anger is usually mixed with hatred. But in the spiritual world, the anger—transcendental anger—is mixed with love.

The Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu and Caitanya-caritamrta and other scriptures inform us that beyond even the stage of prema there are further developments of transcendental love. Here is the general progression given in the Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu (1.4.15–16):

adau sraddha tatah sadhu-
  sango ’tha bhajana-kriya
tato ’nartha-nivrttih syat
  tato nistha rucis tatah

 athasaktis tato bhavas
  tatah premabhyudancati
sadhakanam ayam premnah
  pradurbhave bhavet kramah

“In the beginning there must be faith (sraddha). Then one becomes interested in associating with pure devotees (sadhu-sanga). Thereafter one is initiated by the spiritual master and executes the regulative principles under his orders (bhajana-kriya). Thus one is freed from all unwanted habits (anartha-nivrtti) and becomes firmly fixed in devotional service (nistha). Thereafter, one develops taste (ruci) and attachment (asakti). This is the way of sadhana-bhakti, the execution of devotional service according to the regulative principles. Gradually emotions (bhava) intensify, and finally there is an awakening of love (prema). This is the gradual development of love of Godhead for the devotee interested in Krsna consciousness.” (Brs 1.4.15–16, as Cc Madhya 23.14–15)

Generally we understand that devotees progress from sraddha, sadhu-sanga, bhajana-kriya, and anartha-nivrttih to nistha, ruci, and asakti all the way to bhava and prema—but in the spiritual world there are developments beyond prema.

prema krame badi’ haya-sneha, mana, pranaya
raga, anuraga, bhava, mahabhava haya

“Love of Godhead (prema) increases and is manifest as affection (sneha), indignation (mana), love (pranaya), attachment (raga), further attachment (anuraga), ecstasy (bhava), and sublime ecstasy (maha-bhava).” (Cc Madhya 23.43) Beyond even prema is mana, a sort of transcendental anger, but that is possible only beyond the stage of simple prema—only for the residents of Vrindavan.

TEXT

After being received by the cowherd men and boys, the gopis, and King Nanda and Yasoda, Lord Balarama sat down, feeling satisfied, and they all surrounded Him. First Lord Balarama inquired from them about their welfare, and then, since they had not seen Him for such a long time, they began to ask Him different questions. The inhabitants of Vrndavana had sacrificed everything for Krsna, simply being captivated by the lotus eyes of the Lord. Because of their great desire to love Krsna, they never desired anything like elevation to the heavenly planets or merging into the effulgence of Brahman to become one with the Absolute Truth. They were not even interested in enjoying a life of opulence, but they were satisfied in living a simple life in the village as cowherds. They were always absorbed in thoughts of Krsna and did not desire any personal benefits, and they were all so much in love with Him that in His absence their voices faltered when they began to inquire from Balarama.

COMMENT

The different stages of advancement are hierarchical, and the qualities of each prior, or lower, stage are also included in the subsequent, or higher, stages. So, in the above description of the residents of Vrindavan, Srila Prabhupada describes them in terms that apply to any pure devotee, on the platform of uttama-bhakti:

anyabhilasita-sunyam
 jnana-karmady-anavrtam
anukulyena krsnanu-
 silanam bhaktir uttama

“When first-class devotional service develops, one must be devoid of all material desires, knowledge obtained by monistic philosophy, and fruitive action. The devotee must constantly serve Krsna favorably, as Krsna desires.” (Brs 1.1.11, as Cc Madhya 19.167)

As stated in Srimad-Bhagavatam’s First Canto:

tulayama lavenapi
 na svargam napunar-bhavam
bhagavat-sangi-sangasya
 martyanam kim utasisah

“The value of a moment’s association with the devotee of the Lord cannot even be compared to the attainment of heavenly planets or liberation from matter, and what to speak of worldly benedictions in the form of material prosperity, which are for those who are meant for death.” (SB 1.18.13) By such association, beginning with even one moment, one can eventually attain pure devotional service and, like the residents of Vrindavan, have no interest in elevation to heavenly planets or merging into impersonal Brahman, what to speak of enjoying the opulences of the world. The Vraja-vasis were interested only in loving Krishna and serving Him. Their mood fits the basic definition of pure devotional service, which applies from the beginning stages of sraddha and sadhu-sanga up to the most advanced stages of anuraga and maha-bhava. So, too, with the different rasas: the elements of santa-rasa are included in dasya-rasa, the qualities of dasya are included in sakhya, the qualities of sakhya, including santa and dasya, are included in vatsalya, and the qualities of all four are included in madhurya.

It is not that when we become advanced we desire material things. No. One disciple said to Srila Prabhupada, “When we are liberated, when we become paramahamsas, then we can do anything and it wouldn’t affect us because we will be on the transcendental platform. So then when we are paramahamsas we can also have sex.” And Srila Prabhupada replied that this was foolishness and told a story of a servant of the king. The king would ride in a boat and the servant would walk alongside on a path that ran along the river, pulling the boat from the land, and the king would have a little excursion. So, the king was very pleased with the servant’s work and told the servant, “I am very pleased with you; I will give you whatever you like.” The foolish servant replied, “I would like a velvet carpet to be placed along the path so that when I’m pulling the boat it will be soft under my feet.” Srila Prabhupada said that this is foolishness because the servant could have gotten anything; he didn’t have to pull the boat anymore. He could have attained a boon far greater than doing more or less the same thing but in a little different way. So, in response to the devotee’s comment—“Oh, if I become a paramahamsa I can have sex”—Srila Prabhupada said that a paramahamsa is in a position to relish on a much higher platform than that. Asking for sex after attaining the transcendental platform would be like asking for extra facility to pull the boat on the thorny path. The idea is param drstva nivartate, that on the highest level one experiences a higher taste and has no interest in elevation to heavenly planets or merging into impersonal brahmajyoti, what to speak of enjoying worldly pleasures that are meant for those who are bound for death.

Now the residents of Vrindavan are about to speak to Lord Balarama with faltering voices, feeling separation from Krishna:

TEXT

First Nanda Maharaja and Yasodamayi inquired, “My dear Balarama, are our friends like Vasudeva and others in the family doing well? Now You and Krsna are grown-up married men with children. In the happiness of family life, do You sometimes remember Your poor father and mother, Nanda Maharaja and Yasoda-devi? It is very good news that the most sinful King Kamsa has been killed by You and that our friends like Vasudeva and the others who had been harassed have now been relieved. It is also very good news that You and Krsna defeated Jarasandha and Kalayavana, who is now dead, and that You are now living in a fortified residence in Dvaraka.”

When the gopis arrived, Lord Balarama glanced over them with loving eyes. Being overjoyed, the gopis, who had so long been mortified on account of Krsna’s and Balarama’s absence, began to ask about the welfare of the two brothers. They specifically asked Balarama whether Krsna was enjoying His life surrounded by the enlightened women of Dvaraka Puri. “Does He sometimes remember His father Nanda and His [M]{m}other Yasoda and the other friends with whom He so intimately behaved while in Vrndavana? Does Krsna have any plans to come here to see His mother, Yasoda,[[just pointing out the inconsistency, although I realize this is quted text.]] and does He remember us gopis, who are now pitiably bereft of His company? Krsna may have forgotten us in the midst of the cultured women of Dvaraka, but as far as we are concerned, we still remember Him by collecting flowers and sewing them into garlands. When He does not come, however, we simply pass our time by crying. If only He would come here and accept these garlands we have made. My dear Lord Balarama, descendant of Dasarha, You know that we would give up everything for Krsna’s friendship. Even in great distress one cannot give up the connection of family members, but although it might be impossible for others, we gave up our fathers, mothers, sisters, and relatives. But then Krsna, not caring a pinch for our renunciation, all of a sudden renounced us and went away. He broke off our intimate relationship without serious consideration and left for a foreign country. But He was so clever and cunning that He manufactured very nice words. He said, ‘My dear gopis, please do not worry. The service you have rendered to Me is impossible for Me to repay.’ After all, we are women, so how could we disbelieve Him? Now we can understand that His sweet words were simply for cheating us.”

COMMENT

These words of accusation against Krishna are quoted in the Caitanya-caritamrta in the discussion of the high states of love of God exhibited by the Vraja-vasis in relation to Krishna—that they call Him a cheater. Srila Prabhupada explains that Krishna, as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, also wants some variety. He gets tired of always being worshipped by Vedic hymns and mantras and elaborate sacrifices and worship. Sometimes he wants someone to chastise Him, but who can chastise Him? Only the most pure devotees.

One example is Mother Yasoda with the whipping stick, chastising Krishna for His naughtiness in breaking the butter pots, eating butter and yogurt, and feeding His friends and monkeys. Another is the gopis chastising Him for being a cheater.

Srila Prabhupada told the story of Lord Gladstone, the nineteenth-century prime minister of Great Britain. Ordinary people couldn’t see the prime minister, but a big man came to see him, and the prime minister’s secretary said, “Please wait; he is engaged now. He will see you after some time.” The man waited and waited, but there was no news from inside. So he pushed open the door a little to see what was happening, and when he looked in, he saw the great prime minister of the United Kingdom on the floor on his hands and knees with his grandson on his back, directing him like a man riding a horse: “Get up! Get up! Go right! Go left!” So, he was still the prime minister even when he was playing the part of a horse for his grandson, but sometimes he wanted to take a break from his position; he wanted to forget that he was the prime minister and just enjoy with his beloved grandchild.

So, Krishna also likes to take a break, so to speak, from being the Supreme Lord, the ruler of the universe—not just the universe but all the universes—and just relax with His intimate loved ones. That is His Vrindavan lila. It is said that He enjoys the chastisements of His friends in Vrindavan more than all the Vedic hymns because that chastisement comes from such a deep level of pure love. He says, “If My beloved consort reproaches Me in a sulky mood, that steals My mind from the reverent hymns of the Vedas.” (Cc Adi 4.26)

Here the gopis are saying that Krishna had said, “I cannot repay My debt to you” and just as He was leaving Vrindavan for Mathura had said, “Do not worry, I shall return,” but then didn’t come back. They were making garlands for Him, thinking, “Oh, if He comes today we will be prepared,” but He never came.

TEXT

Protesting Krsna’s absence from Vrndavana, another gopi said, “My dear Balaramaji, we are of course village girls, so Krsna could cheat us in that way, but what about the women of Dvaraka? Don’t think they are as foolish as we are! We village women might be misled by Krsna, but the women in the city of Dvaraka are very clever and intelligent. Therefore I would be surprised if such city women could be misled by Krsna and could believe His words.”

Then another gopi began to speak. “My dear friend,” she said, “Krsna is very clever in using words. No one can compete with Him in that art. He can manufacture such colorful words and talk so sweetly that the heart of any woman would be misled. Besides that, He has perfected the art of smiling very attractively, and by seeing His smile women become mad after Him and give themselves to Him without hesitation.”

Another gopi, after hearing this, said, “My dear friends, what is the use of talking about Krsna? If you are at all interested in passing time by talking, let us talk on some subject other than Him. If cruel Krsna can pass His time without us, why can’t we pass our time without Krsna? Of course, Krsna is passing His days without us very happily, but we cannot pass our days happily without Him.”

COMMENT

We are on a platform where it is easy to forget Krishna. It is nothing for us to forget Him. In fact, we have to do everything we can to remember Krishna. But they are trying to forget Krishna but can’t, no matter how much they try. That actually begins in the stage of sadhana. Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura in his Madhurya-kadambini elaborates on this verse, two verses from Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhuadau sraddha tatah sadhu-sango, and so on. He describes that at the stage of asakti, just before bhava, if your mind wanders from Krishna, it automatically comes back. You don’t even know how it comes back; it is automatic. In the earlier stages, when we chant japa, we have to try to fix our mind on the sound of the holy name, and even then, after a while—we don’t even know how much time or how many beads have passed—we realize that our mind is somewhere else. We don’t know how we left the holy name or how we got onto a different topic, which then led to another topic and then another topic, and so on. But at the stage of asakti it is the opposite: if your mind wanders, it automatically comes back. So, what to speak of the gopis, who are on the highest stage: they are fully absorbed in remembrance of Krishna, and even if they want to forget Him they can’t.

TEXT

When the gopis were talking in this way, their feelings for Krsna became more and more intense, and they were experiencing Krsna’s smiling, Krsna’s words of love, Krsna’s attractive features, Krsna’s characteristics, and Krsna’s embraces. By the force of their ecstatic feelings, it appeared to them that Krsna was personally present and dancing before them. Because of their sweet remembrance of Krsna, they could not check their tears, and they began to cry without consideration.

COMMENT

This is a very important point: why did Krishna leave Vrindavan and remain away for so long? After all, the residents of Vrindavan, and especially the gopis, were His best devotees. They had the greatest love for Him. One answer is that when Krishna was in Vrindavan the gopis were always afraid of His separation. There is a very exalted stage where you can be with Krishna yet feel separation from Him. This was demonstrated in the pastime of Prema-sarovara. Radha and Krishna were together, sitting next to each other, and a bumblebee was hovering around Them and causing some disturbance, and Srimati Radharani wanted the bumblebee chased away. So Madhumangala chased away the bee and came back and announced, “The madhu has gone and will not come back.” Now, the word madhu can refer to a bee, but it can also refer to Krishna; it is one of His names. So even though Srimati Radharani was sitting right next to Krishna, when She heard “Madhu is gone and will not return,” She took it as referring to Krishna, burst into tears, and went into a deep mood of separation. And even though Krishna was sitting right next to Her, He could not bring Her out of Her ecstatic trance of separation. Then He, too, began to cry, and Their tears of love created a pond, which became known as Prema-sarovara.

So, Krishna perceived that as long as He remained in Vrindavan, the residents, especially the gopis, would always fear His separation; they would feel separation from Him and be preoccupied with His physical presence and absence. And He thought that if He left Vrindavan, the gopis wouldn’t focus on that. They would feel separation, but in the intensity of their feelings of separation they would feel Krishna’s presence, unlike when He was physically in Vrindavan and they would feel His presence only when He was physically with them. If He left, they would feel His presence all the time—through their intense feelings of separation.

This point is elucidated in Sri Brhad-bhagavatamrta with the example of fire and ice. Sometimes if something is very cold, like dry ice, it burns. Dry ice is so cold that if you touch it you get burned. So, when the feelings of separation become so extreme, so intense, they lead to the experience of meeting, of being together. The gopis and other residents of Vrindavan could have gone to Dvaraka, but they actually preferred not to, because the happiness they were relishing in separation was even greater than the happiness they would have relished in Krishna’s association in Dvaraka.

Here we can see that in expressing their intense feelings of separation from Krishna, the gopis are experiencing His presence even to the extent of seeing His lotus eyes and His smile, and His dancing with them and even embracing them.

TEXT

Lord Balarama, of course, could understand the ecstatic feelings of the gopis, and therefore He wanted to pacify them. He was expert in presenting an appeal, and thus, treating the gopis very respectfully, He began to narrate the stories of Krsna so tactfully that the gopis became satisfied.

COMMENT

Here is another way that they and any devotees can feel the presence of the Lord—by hearing about His pastimes. The verse tava kathamrtam tapta-jivanam says that krsna-katha is the best medicine for those who are suffering tapa. Tapa means “misery,” or “heat.” It can mean material miseries—that is also there. By krsna-katha one gets relief. But it can also refer to the misery of feeling separation from Krishna. Krsna-katha also gives relief from the fire of separation.

TEXT

To keep the gopis in Vrndavana satisfied, Lord Balarama stayed there continuously for two months, namely the months of Caitra (March-April) and Vaisakha (April-May).

For those two months He kept Himself among the gopis, and He passed every night with them in the forest of Vrndavana to satisfy their desire for conjugal love. Thus Balarama also enjoyed the rasa dance with the gopis during those two months.

COMMENT

Here is an important point that is mentioned in the commentaries on this chapter. There were two sets of gopis—Krishna’s gopis and Balarama’s gopis—so it is not that Balarama enjoyed the rasa dance with Krishna’s gopis. That would have been rasabhasa, a disturbance in the rasa. There are His gopis, who are attached to Him in madhurya-rasa, and so He had His rasa-lila with them. And He pacified the other gopis—those who were attached to Krishna—by speaking about Krishna.

TEXT

Since the season was springtime, the breeze on the bank of the Yamuna was blowing very mildly, carrying the aroma of different flowers, especially the flower known as kaumudi. Moonlight filled the sky and spread everywhere, and thus the banks of the Yamuna appeared very bright and pleasing, and Lord Balarama enjoyed the company of the gopis there.

The demigod known as Varuna sent his daughter Varuni in the form of liquid honey oozing from the hollows of the trees. Because of this honey the whole forest became aromatic, and the sweet aroma of the liquid honey, Varuni, captivated Balaramaji. Balaramaji and all the gopis became very much attracted by the taste of the Varuni, and all of them drank it together. While drinking this natural beverage, all the gopis chanted the glories of Lord Balarama, and Lord Balarama felt very happy, as if He had become intoxicated by drinking that Varuni beverage.

COMMENT

Varuni is a devotee, and when Balarama was drinking the Varuni beverage, He was actually drinking Varuni’s love and devotion. In a similar way, Krishna would drink Mother Yasoda’s breast milk, but it wasn’t ordinary milk; it was her love in liquid form. So, Varuni is also love in liquid form, and Balarama was drinking it and becoming intoxicated.

TEXT

His eyes rolled in a pleasing attitude. He was decorated with long garlands of forest flowers, and the whole situation appeared to be a great function of happiness because of this transcendental bliss. Lord Balarama smiled beautifully, and the drops of perspiration decorating His face appeared like soothing morning dew.

While Balarama was in that happy mood, He desired to enjoy the company of the gopis in the water of the Yamuna. Therefore He called the Yamuna to come nearby. But the Yamuna neglected the order of Balaramaji, considering Him intoxicated. Lord Balarama became very much displeased at the Yamuna’s neglecting His order. He immediately wanted to scratch the land near the river with His plowshare. Lord Balarama has two weapons, a plow and a club, from which He takes service when they are required. This time He wanted to bring the Yamuna by force, and He took the help of His plow. He wanted to punish the Yamuna because she did not come in obedience to His order. He addressed the Yamuna, “You wretched river! You did not care for My order. Now I shall teach you a lesson! You did not come to Me voluntarily. Now with the help of My plow I shall force you to come. I shall divide you into hundreds of scattered streams!”

COMMENT

All the entities in the spiritual world are conscious and personal. The Yamuna is also personal. In fact, it is described that she has her own identity and is also the gopi Visakha in liquid form. So everything is personal. There is no dead matter in Vrindavan; it is all conscious and personal.

TEXT

When the Yamuna was threatened like this, she became greatly afraid of the power of Balarama and immediately came in person . . .

COMMENT

The personified form of the Yamuna River came to Balarama.

TEXT

. . . falling at His lotus feet and praying thus: “My dear Balarama, You are the most powerful personality, and You are pleasing to everyone. Unfortunately, I forgot Your glorious, exalted position, but now I have come to my senses, and I remember that You hold all the planetary systems on Your head merely by Your partial expansion Sesa. You are the sustainer of the whole universe. My dear Supreme Personality of Godhead, You are full with six opulences. Because I forgot Your omnipotence, I have mistakenly disobeyed Your order, and thus I have become a great offender. But, my dear Lord, please know that I am a soul surrendered unto You, who are very affectionate to Your devotees. Therefore please excuse my impudence and mistakes, and, by Your causeless mercy, may You now release me.”

COMMENT

She was repentant. It does happen—devotees forget the Lord’s supremacy. In krsna-lila, which is nara-lila, humanlike pastimes, Krishna and Balarama resemble ordinary human beings, and one can forget Their position. It happened with Brahma when he stole the cowherd boys and calves, and it happened with Indra when he sent the torrents of rain. But because the Lord is affectionate to His devotees, if they repent—and any genuine devotee will repent—the Lord rectifies them and brings them back to His service, properly situated again.

It is described that when Indra sent torrential rain down on the residents of Vrindavan, for a moment Krishna thought, “Let Me just kill him; He is such a disturbance,” but then He thought, “No, I should be merciful to him. I should curb his false pride and bring him back to his senses.” In gaura-lila, when Vallabha Bhatta was proud of his knowledge and scholarship, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu humbled him just like Krishna humbled Indra and brought him to a better position in devotional service.

So, Yamuna-devi sincerely regretted her offense in not obeying the command of Balarama. In a genuine mood of repentance, she asked to be forgiven. She knew that He was affectionate to His devotees, and she wanted Him to show that affection toward her because she was His surrendered devotee. She was just temporarily covered by some illusion, some misconception.

TEXT

Upon displaying this submissive attitude, the Yamuna was forgiven, and when she came nearby, Lord Balarama enjoyed the pleasure of swimming in her waters along with the gopis in the same way that an elephant enjoys himself along with his many she-elephants. After a long time, when Lord Balarama had enjoyed to His full satisfaction, He came out of the water, and immediately a goddess of fortune offered Him a nice blue garment and a valuable necklace made of gold. After bathing in the Yamuna, Lord Balarama, dressed in blue garments and decorated with golden ornaments, looked very attractive to everyone. Lord Balarama’s complexion is white, and when He was properly dressed He looked exactly like the white elephant of King Indra in the heavenly planets. The river Yamuna still has many small branches due to being scratched by the plowshare of Lord Balarama. And all these branches of the river Yamuna still glorify the omnipotence of Lord Balarama.

Lord Balarama and the gopis enjoyed transcendental pastimes together every night for two months, and time passed so quickly that all those nights appeared to be only one night. In the presence of Lord Balarama, all the gopis and other inhabitants of Vrndavana became as cheerful as they had been before in the presence of both brothers, Lord Krsna and Lord Balarama.

Thus ends the Bhaktivedanta purport of the Sixty-fifth Chapter of Krsna, “Lord Balarama Visits Vrndavana.”

COMMENT

Hare Krishna. Sri Balarama Rasa-yatra ki jaya! Srila Prabhupada ki jaya!

Are there any questions or comments?

Jagarini dasi: It seems that especially in Indra’s pastimes in Vrindavan his anger was not coming from love. Where is the explanation for such an advanced devotee to become so bewildered that he could become actually hateful of the residents of Vrindavan?

Giriraj Swami: Like the other demigods, Lord Indra is a devotee, but with material desires. His main fault was his pride, and he wanted to be honored and worshipped, and so he became covered. Of course, it is the Lord’s pastimes and we don’t want to minimize King Indra, but still he does have material desires. He must be very pious to be in that position and have the Lord’s association, but still he has material desires and when people identify with their material desires and their material desires are frustrated, they become angry.

Like you said, that anger was not on the transcendental platform of mana, like the gopis’. That was just anger born of the frustration of material desires. In fact, one word for anger is kamanuja. Anuja means “younger brother” and kama means “desire,” so wherever there is material desire, its younger brother, anger, follows behind. That was the case with Indra. It was the Lord’s pastimes for our benefit as well, but still that was the case.

And that’s not transcendental love or mana, which is seen in the pure devotees in Vrindavan. That happens—even with Lord Brahma, what to speak of Indra. Once, a disciple asked Srila Prabhupada, “Lord Brahma was such a great devotee. He created the universe and made such beautiful prayers in the Brahma-samhita, and he is the first teacher in our line. How could he have become bewildered?” And Srila Prabhupada replied, “He is a devotee but the great devotees are in Vrindavan.” And that was Lord Brahma, what to speak of Indra. So he is a devotee, but not on the level of the devotees in Vrindavan.

Akruranatha dasa: When one gopi was saying that “The women in Dvaraka wouldn’t be so easily cheated like us,” was she indirectly glorifying the love of the gopis compared with the love of the women in Dvaraka?

Giriraj Swami: It’s true that in the gopis’ simple love for Krishna they would accept whatever He said or did. In the pastime when He stole their garments, gopi-vastra-harana-lila, they threatened Krishna: “If You don’t return our garments, we will complain to Your father Nanda Maharaja.” But Krishna said, “I don’t care. He can’t do anything against Me.” So they said, “We’ll complain to Kamsa. He is the king, and he will chastise You for Your misbehavior.” Srila Prabhupada comments that although they made those threats against Krishna, they never actually took any action against Him—because of their pure love. So, it could be an indirect statement that the sophisticated ladies in Mathura might not have been so submissive and surrendered.

Raxit Jariwala: When we hear of the pastimes of the Lord, we understand that we cannot emulate His activities, cannot copy or imitate Him. So, what is a devotee to take from these pastimes? Is it the simple contentment of hearing them and knowing that these activities are going on in the spiritual world, or is there some more significance or benefit?

Giriraj Swami: Yes, there is benefit on both levels—rasa and tattva. By hearing about the Lord’s pastimes with His devotees in the spiritual world, we can become attracted to them and aspire to join them. There is a verse at the end of the five chapters dealing with the rasa dance, which says that in order to bestow mercy upon His devotees, Krishna displays humanlike pastimes so that they will become attracted to Him and His pastimes and want to engage in His service.

anugrahaya bhaktanam
 manusam deham asthitah
bhajate tadrsih kridah
 yah srutva tat-paro bhavet

“When the Lord assumes a humanlike body to show mercy to His devotees, He engages in such pastimes as will attract those who hear about them to become dedicated to Him.” (SB 10.33.36) By hearing these pastimes, we can think, “I want to go to Vrindavan. I want to live in Vrindavan eternally and have a relationship with Krishna as a servant or a cowherd boyfriend or as a parental figure or as a young gopi.” By hearing about Krishna and His loving relationships with His devotees in Vrindavan, you may develop that desire.

Devotee: You have explained the transcendental anger of Balaramaji. Can you share some pastimes with your guru maharaja when he exhibited transcendental anger?

Giriraj Swami: I’ll tell one. I’ve had my own experiences, but because you asked for one that would be instructive to all disciples, I’ll tell this other one.

When Srila Prabhupada was in Juhu in 1977, he was very ill and was not coming down from his quarters, where he was served by a select group of disciples. Srila Prabhupada was very particular about his prasada being served on time, and once, Nava Yogendra Swami brought it late and Srila Prabhupada became very angry. Afterwards, Nava Yogendra Swami asked him, “Srila Prabhupada, when you become angry we become so bewildered we don’t know what to do, we don’t know what to think, we don’t know how to feel. How should we feel when you become so angry?” And Srila Prabhupada replied, “You should feel jubilant. There are so many people loitering on the street who have no one to look after them, who have no one who cares for them and will correct them if they do something wrong. So you should feel jubilant that you have a master who cares for you and will correct you if you do something wrong.”

Thank you all very much. Hare Krishna.

[A talk by Giriraj Swami, April 16, 2011, San Jose, California]

Why do we attribute some people’s actions to their present association and others’ actions to their past lives?
→ The Spiritual Scientist

Answer Podcast

The post Why do we attribute some people’s actions to their present association and others’ actions to their past lives? appeared first on The Spiritual Scientist.

TOVP Architecture Department: Intricacy: Marble Vendors and Research – March, 2020
- TOVP.org

Intricacy: Marble Vendors and Research

A good job entails the right hands. The specialized stone work for this temple has very unique requirements; selection of which has been a highly deliberated exercise.

Capturing the moments of the work in this report.

Click here to see it in your browser or download a copy to your desktop for offline reading.

The post TOVP Architecture Department: Intricacy: Marble Vendors and Research – March, 2020 appeared first on Temple of the Vedic Planetarium.

H.H. Badrinarayana Maharaja Speaks About the #GivingTOVP 10 Day Matching Fundraiser
- TOVP.org

Recently we sent out the official announcement about the Second Annual #GivingTOVP 10 Day Matching Fundraiser which you can read here. This event starts on April 26 (Akshaya Tritiya) until May 6 (Nrsimha Caturdasi) and is poised to raise over $300,000 to help the completion of Lord Nrsimha’s entire East Wing and altar in the TOVP for the opening ceremony during Gaur Purnima 2021.

In this video His Holiness Badrinarayana Maharaja speaks about the importance of this fundraiser for completing Lord Nrsimha’s temple wing and altar by 2021.

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT

Due to the disastrous effects of the Corona virus pandemic worldwide and the 21 day lock-down in India, ISKCON Mayapur is experiencing a serious financial crisis. On account of this emergency situation, Ambarisa and Braja Vilasa prabhus from the TOVP have decided to help ISKCON Mayapur by creating an extension campaign to the #GivingTOVP Fundraiser called the TOVP Care Emergency Matching Fund Campaign. Ambarisa will match 10 cents for every dollar raised for the #GivingTOVP Fundraiser (online only) and donate it to ISKCON Mayapur.

For more information go ​here​.

Please download and share the #GivingTOVP Fundraiser flyer below.

 
#GivingTOVP Matching Fundraiser & TOVP Care Emergency Fund Campaign


 

TOVP NEWS AND UPDATES – STAY IN TOUCH

Visit us at: www.tovp.org
Follow us at: www.facebook.com/tovp.mayapur
Watch us at: www.youtube.com/user/tovpinfo
View us 360° at: www.tovp360.org
App at: https://m.tovp.org/app
News & Texts at: https://m.tovp.org/newstexts
RSS News Feed at: https://tovp.org/rss2/
Buy from us at: https://tovp.org/tovp-gift-store/
Support us at: https://tovp.org/donate/seva-opportunities/

The post H.H. Badrinarayana Maharaja Speaks About the #GivingTOVP 10 Day Matching Fundraiser appeared first on Temple of the Vedic Planetarium.

ISKCON Mayapur’s Food for Life Program
→ Mayapur.com

ISKCON Mayapur has started distributing prasad to rural villagers as a part of covid-19 relief program in the region. Very much appreciated and indeed, as few villagers mentioned that they were waiting for this prasad, came in large numbers and accepted prasad, maintaining social distance norms. On the occassion of HH Jayapataka Swami Vyasapuja celebrations, […]

The post ISKCON Mayapur’s Food for Life Program appeared first on Mayapur.com.

H. G. Anuttama Prabhu Speaks About the #GivingTOVP 10 Day Matching Fundraiser
- TOVP.org

Recently we sent out the official announcement about the Second Annual #GivingTOVP 10 Day Matching Fundraiser which you can read here. This event starts on April 26 (Akshaya Tritiya) until May 6 (Nrsimha Caturdasi) and is poised to raise over $300,000 to help the completion of Lord Nrsimha’s entire East Wing and altar in the TOVP for the opening ceremony during Gaur Purnima 2021.

In this video His Grace Anuttama Prabhu speaks about the importance of this fundraiser for completing Lord Nrsimha’s temple wing and altar by 2021.

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT

Due to the disastrous effects of the Corona virus pandemic worldwide and the 21 day lock-down in India, ISKCON Mayapur is experiencing a serious financial crisis. On account of this emergency situation, Ambarisa and Braja Vilasa prabhus from the TOVP have decided to help ISKCON Mayapur by creating an extension campaign to the #GivingTOVP Fundraiser called the TOVP Care Emergency Matching Fund Campaign. Ambarisa will match 10 cents for every dollar raised for the #GivingTOVP Fundraiser (online only) and donate it to ISKCON Mayapur.

For more information go ​here​.


 

TOVP NEWS AND UPDATES – STAY IN TOUCH

Visit us at: www.tovp.org
Follow us at: www.facebook.com/tovp.mayapur
Watch us at: www.youtube.com/user/tovpinfo
View us 360° at: www.tovp360.org
App at: https://m.tovp.org/app
News & Texts at: https://m.tovp.org/newstexts
RSS News Feed at: https://tovp.org/rss2/
Buy from us at: https://tovp.org/tovp-gift-store/
Support us at: https://tovp.org/donate/seva-opportunities/

The post H. G. Anuttama Prabhu Speaks About the #GivingTOVP 10 Day Matching Fundraiser appeared first on Temple of the Vedic Planetarium.

Live Online Activities this Weekend
→ The Toronto Hare Krishna Temple!

We will be hosting live content on our Facebook page this weekend. Details can be found below, please Like Our Facebook page for more live content.


HH Bhaktimarga Swami will be going live tonight (Saturday, April 4th) accompanied by some of our resident devotees, join us at 6:00pm EST for live Kirtan on our Facebook Page!


We will be once again hosting a special online live class. This will be broadcast on our Facebook page during our normal Sunday Feast time (5:00pm-6:00pm). This week's (April 5th, 2020) live class will be given by HH Bhaktimarga Swami.


ISKCON Scarborough – Online multimedia class – Meditation on the form of the Lord – Part 1 – Sunday 5th April 2020 – 11 am to 12 noon
→ ISKCON Scarborough

Hare Krsna
Please accept our humble obeisances
All glories to Srila Prabhupada

We will have an online Sunday feast class tomorrow on 5th April  2020 from 11 am to 12 noon.

Please note that this is a virtual class where you can take part from the comfort of your home.

Topic:  Meditation on the form of the Lord - Part 1

Date: 5th April 2020 (Sunday)

Time: 11 am to 12 noon

Link to join the class from your desktop or laptop:
https://us04web.zoom.us/j/9150790510?pwd=Wk5GYXVRMkJmdk84MzZJRXBKYUgwUT09

If you click the above link from your desktop or laptop, you will be able to join directly
If you click this link from your cell phone or IPAD etc, you will have to download the Zoom application (less than a minute to download)


Summary:
Lord Kapila is instructing His mother Devahuti on how one should concentrate and meditate on the form of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

SB 3.28.11:
By practising the process of prāṇāyāma, one can eradicate the contamination of his physiological condition, and by concentrating the mind one can become free from all sinful activities. By restraining the senses one can free himself from material association, and by meditating on the Supreme Personality of Godhead one can become free from the three modes of material attachment.


ISKCON Scarborough
3500 McNicoll Avenue, Unit #3,
Scarborough, Ontario,
Canada, M1V4C7
Website: www.iskconscarborough.org
Email:
iskconscarborough@hotmail.com
scarboroughiskcon@gmail.com

London Calling, The Greatest Prasada giveaway
→ simple thoughts

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Srila Prabhupada Built A Pot That The Whole World Could Eat From 

Prabhup?da: Anyone who comes, he must be given pras?dam.

Ma?ih?ra: …what is the benefit they get, exactly? There have been so many concoctions = “Oh, they will take human birth,” “They will take this…” What is the actual benefit that a karm? will get when he takes pras?dam?

Prabhup?da: Pras?dam means the mercy of K???a.

Ma?ih?ra: Mercy.

Prabhup?da: By eating, you are getting mercy. K???a ba?o doy?moy korib?re jihv? jay swa-pras?d-anna dilo bh?i. Swa-pras?d-anna dilo bh?i. Sei pras?da anna p?o r?dh?-k???a-gu?a g?o preme ??ko caitanya-nit?i.

Ma?ih?ra: ‘Cause some devotees, they are saying…

Prabhup?da: K???a ba?o doy?moy. Because we want eating, so He is giving His mercy through eating. 

The Prasad distribution team are attempting to expand the project in Hertfordshire, presently working from our Gokula Cafe. This Monday will will deliver containers of Prasad from Krishna’s Castle to Gokula Cafe on Market Street at 11am then volunteers will box up the Prasad , stick ingredient labels and then deliver to the isolated and vulnerable people.Utmost importance is placed on following government regulations in regard to health and safety.
Do you know a struggling person/devotee who could do with a food/ Prasad hamper. Please email the team on foodforalluk@ gmail.com ,  confidentiality assured.


We are also looking for a location in the Watford, to set up our emergency field kitchen.
Jai Srila Prabhupada

 Your servants

Food for All team 

https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/foodforall


With kind regards,

Peter O’GradyDirector,

Food For All

The #GivingTOVP & TOVP Care Campaign – H.G. Braja Vilasa Prabhu Speaks Out
- TOVP.org

His Grace Braja Vilasa prabhu speaks about the forthcoming #GivingTOVP & TOVP Care Combined Fundraising Campaign starting on April 26 (Akshaya Tritiya) until May 6 (Nrsimha Caturdasi.

This simultaneous fundraiser will raise funds for both the completion of Lord Nrsimha’s temple wing and altar for the opening during Gaura Purnima in 2021 and assist ISKCON Mayapur through a financial crisis during the India lock-down. Ambarisa prabhu will match all donations for the #GivingTOVP & TOVP Care event up to $150,000 and give 10 cents per dollar donated online to ISKCON Mayapur.

For more information on this unique fundraising opportunity to serve the TOVP and ISKCON Mayapur with one donation, go here.


 

TOVP NEWS AND UPDATES – STAY IN TOUCH

Visit us at: www.tovp.org
Follow us at: www.facebook.com/tovp.mayapur
Watch us at: www.youtube.com/user/tovpinfo
View us 360° at: www.tovp360.org
App at: https://m.tovp.org/app
News & Texts at: https://m.tovp.org/newstexts
RSS News Feed at: https://tovp.org/rss2/
Buy from us at: https://tovp.org/tovp-gift-store/
Support us at: https://tovp.org/donate/seva-opportunities/

The post The #GivingTOVP & TOVP Care Campaign – H.G. Braja Vilasa Prabhu Speaks Out appeared first on Temple of the Vedic Planetarium.

Quarantine and Nature’s Law
Giriraj Swami

What is called? A quarantine, quarantine.

How you can violate the nature’s law? It is not possible. Nature’s law is so strict, a little deviation will put you into suffering. This is going on. That is Yamaraja. And if you violate more and more and more, then you suffer more and more and more. This is the law. You cannot escape. That is the general law everywhere, all over the world: life for life. So, in God’s law there is no such thing that if you kill a human being you’ll be killed, and if you kill an animal you’ll not be killed. That is imperfect law, man-made law.

You are maintaining so many slaughterhouses, and when it will be mature, there will be war, wholesale murder. Finished. One atom bomb—finished. You’ll have to suffer. Don’t think that “Innocent animals, they cannot protest. Let us kill and eat.” No. You’ll be also punished. Wait for accumulation of your sinful activities . . .

Why do you think there is no punishment and there is no God? This is utopian. Don’t think like that. There is God, there is His government, there are His agents, there are witnesses. Otherwise, why there are different varieties of life? Eight million four hundred thousand species of life. Everyone is a living being. The trees are living beings, the fishes are living beings, the ants are living beings, the mosquitoes are living beings, the human beings are living beings, the demigods are living beings, the cats, dogs—all are living beings.

So we should be very careful. This human form of life is a chance to make your choice, whether you are to go on being punished like this in different forms of life or whether you shall go back to home, back to Godhead. Here is the chance. . . .

You can imagine that “There is no God, there is no Yamaraja, there is no punishment. Let me do.” That is your fancy. But it is not the fact. The fact is, if we commit some sin we must suffer for it, and there is nobody in the world who can check it.

—Srila Prabhupada, talk on Srimad-Bhagavatam 6.1.32, May 31, 1976, Honolulu

How Spirituality Can Help Fight Coronavirus Effectively?
→ ISKCON News: Latest Stories

1.3 billion Indians observed the Janata Curfew on 22nd March, to fight Covid-19. Billions of people in different parts of the world are already under lockdown. There is an undeclared curfew in almost all the parts of the world. Coronavirus, the tiny little virus, which cannot be seen with our eyes have brought the whole world to a standstill. 

Rama-katha
Giriraj Swami

This verse is quoted in Srila Rupa Gosvami’s Sri Padyavali (151):

ramo nama babhuva hum tad-abala siteti hum tam pitur
vaca pancavati-vane viharatas tasyharad ravanah
nidrartham janaki-katham iti harer hum-karatah srnvatah
saumitre kva dhanur dhanur dhanur iti vyagra girah pantu nah 

[Mother Yasoda is telling Sri Krishna a story:]

“There was once a king named Rama.”

“Yes.”

“His wife was Sita.”

“Yes.”

“On the order of His father, Rama lived in the Panchavati Forest. There Ravana kidnapped Sita.”

Hearing His mother narrate His own activities performed in ancient times, Sri Krishna suddenly called out, “Laksmana! Where is My bow? Where is My bow? Where is My bow?”

May these alarmed words of Lord Krishna protect us all.

Vedic Contributions in the Orient, by Stephen Knapp
→ Stephen Knapp

This is an overview of the Vedic contributions in the Orient, and is written to inspire more confidence in the people who follow the Vedic tradition, and to then be more assertive in protecting it.

Bharatvarsha’s beginnings go back to a very long way in time and it is almost certain that the results or influence that is seen today around the world, in the main, were not achieved by military expeditions or conquest, but by peaceful trading and religious teaching, and thereby all the more permanent. This is especially the case when it is generally seen that people who are forced to change cultures or religions often divert to something else as soon as the opportunity arises. But here you can still see much of the Vedic influence that still hangs on in various regions of the world, in the east in this case.

For example, Philip Rawson writes about how Vedic culture can be recognized throughout Southeast Asia. He says, “The culture of India has been one of the world’s most powerful civilizing forces. Countries of the Far East, including China, Korea, Japan, Tibet, and Mongolia owe much of what is best in their own cultures to the inspiration of ideas imported from India. The West, too, has its own debts. But the members of that circle of civilization beyond Burma scattered around the Gulf of Siam and Java sea, virtually owe their very existence to the creative influence of Indian ideas. Among the tribal peoples of Southeast Asia these formative ideas took root, and blossomed. No conquest or invasion, no forced conversion imposed (upon) them. They were adopted because the people saw they were good and that they could use them” (Rawson, Philip, The Art of Southeast Asia: Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, Burma, Java, & Bali, New York, Thames and Hudson, Inc. 1990, p. 7-8.)

Evidence of the Vedic influence can be found in many areas of the Asian Southeast, as Nehru writes, “From the first century of the Christian era onwards wave after wave of Indian colonists spread east and southeast, reaching Ceylon, Burma, Malaya, Java, Sumatra, Borneo, Siam, Cambodia, and Indo-China. Some of them managed to reach Formosa, the Philippine islands and Celebes. Even as far as Madagascar the current language is Indonesian with a mixture of Sanskrit words.” (Nehru, Jawaharlal, The Discovery of India, Calcutta, The Signet Press, 1946, p. 202)

Nehru continues: “Indian civilization took root especially in the countries of southeast Asia and the evidence for this can be found all over the place today. There were great centres of Sanskrit learning in Champa, Angkor, Srivijaya, Majapahit, and other places. The names of the rulers of various states and empires that arose are purely Indian and Sanskrit. This doesn’t mean they were pure Indian, but it does mean that they were Indianized. State ceremonies were Indian and conducted in Sanskrit. All the officers of the state bear old Sanskrit titles, and some of these titles and designations have been continued up till now, not only Thailand but in the Moslem states of Malaya.” (Ibid., p. 207)

Jagat K. Motwani, Ph.D., writes (in India Reborn, 2012, p. 244): “According to Nehru (Discovery of India, 1946, p. 205), the greatest of these states [in Southeast Asia] was the Salendra Empire, or the empire of Sri Vijaya, which became the dominant power both on sea and land in whole of Malaysia by the eighth century. At the height of its power it included Malaya, Ceylon (Sri Lanka), Sumatra, part of Java, Borneo, Celebes, the Philippines, and a part of Formosa, and probably exercised suzerainty over Cambodia and Champa (Annam), which was a Buddhist Empire. A great ruler, Jayavarman, united the small states in the ninth century and built up the Cambodian Empire with its capital at Angkor. The Cambodian state lasted for nearly four hundred years under the succession of great rulers like Jayavarman, Yashovarman, Indravarman and Suryavarman (all four were Hindus).”

 

BURMA

As explained by Upendra Thakur, “In addition to Buddhist remains found in large numbers in various parts of Burma, Hindu images have also been discovered over a wide area, including Vishnu, Ganesh and Brahma at Hmawza; Vishnu, Garuda and Hanuman at Mergui, and Surya, Durga and Vishnu in Arakan, as well as symbolical coins and terracotta tablets with Hindu objects on them. Again, in the village of Kalagangon nearby, were found the remains of a linga 1/4 inch high, showing that Shaivism existed side by side with Buddhism. In another mound of Hmawza were discovered Bodhisattvas in Pala style, which are later in date but similar to those well known from Bodhgaya of the ninth to tenth century CE. Thus, it is clear that from the fifth to the eighth or ninth century CE, all the three types of religion were practiced in Burma and both Buddhism and Hinduism existed peacefully side by side.” (Thakur, Upendra, A Historical Survey of the Elements of Hindu Culture in Burma, India’s Contribution to World Thought and Culture, Vivekananda Kendra Prakashan Trust, Chennai, India 1970, p.439.)

As we look around Myanmar, though it is permeated with Buddhism now, we can see other remnants of the Vedic culture that still has a little influence in the region. For example, in the city center of Yangon, in the Botatuang Paya Buddhist temple, on the grounds is a nat pavilion which contains the images of Thurathadi, which is the Vedic image of Saraswati, the goddess of learning, and of Thagyamin, which is the Vedic Indra, king of heaven, and in Myanmar is the king of all nat, or spirit beings who can either protect or harm humans. So some of the Vedic divinities are still held within the tradition of the nat, or the Myanmar acceptance of spirit beings that are sometimes still worshiped for various purposes. The tradition of the nat is part of the pre-Buddhist custom of the area.

Bagan (Pagan) is known for its 3000 or more Buddhist temples that crowd its plains, which make for some wonderful photographs. During the temple building that went on in Bagan, in the 11th to the 13th centuries, was the transition of the region from the Vedic traditions to Mahayana Buddhism. However, the Vedic influence still exists. Inside one of its tallest temples is beautifully decorated with frescos and topped with gilded pinnacles. You can see a mixture herein of both Vedic and Buddhist deities along with local nat spirits in the nooks.

In Bagan is also the Nat Hlaung Kyaung, the last remaining Vedic temple in the town. A sign dates this temple back to the 11th century, yet others say it was built in 931 by Taunghthugyi. This means it was built about a century before the southern school of Buddhism came to Bagan. It is also explained that King Anawrahta stored all non-Buddhist images, especially the nat spirits, as he tried to enforce Buddhism over the land.

It was built in the form of a sanctuary tower. It is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and is decorated with the ten avataras in stone figures, Buddha being the ninth, though these are in disrepair. Herein we can also see how Buddhists in Burma adopted the Vedic style of building.

The mandapa is no longer in existence, but you can see evidence of it in the two large holes at the entrance. The mandapa or the porch rested on two large beams which were fixed in the two large holes. The outer plaster has peeled off, and the shikhara has undergone repairs.

When Col. Henry Yule first visited the Nat Hlaung Kyaung, he came across two stone images which were lying on the corridor floor. One of them was standing and the other seated. The standing one is an image of Shiva, now placed in the Ananda Museum in Bagan. The seated one is that of Vishnu riding on Garuda. It is four feet high and has found its way to the Berlin Museum. This may have been the central or main image of the temple. Vishnu is crowned by a beautiful kirita flanked by fluttering scarves on two sides. In His upper hands He holds the disc and conch respectively. (Bhise, Usha R., A Temple of Vishnu in Burma, India’s Contribution to World Thought and Culture, Vivekananda Kendra Prakashan Trust, Chennai, India 1970, p.449.)

 

THAILAND

Thailand was once known as Siam. On July 20th, 1948, the Siamese constituent assembly voted to change the name of Siam to Thailand, the change would come into effect the following year. Of course, Siam was a derivative of Shyam, which is a name for Krishna, meaning the color of dark blue, the complexion of Lord Krishna.

Evidence shows that it was at least by 380 BCE when the Iron Age communities in central Thailand had already opened trade relations with India. The Sa Huynh people of coastal Vietnam were highly competent navigators, and had arrived in that region by 500 BCE. A writing system was in a script resembling that of the Hu, who were in turn influenced by India. (Higham, Charles, The Civilization of Angkor, Phoenix, London, 2001, p.23-4.)

Sanskrit words are still very much in the Thai language. C. B. Pandey explains the influence in the language of Thailand. “The Thai language has 18 vowels and 23 consonants, specially in Northern Thai. … Indian cultural impact in Siam has left a deep-rooted influence on the language of the country. ‘Anyone visiting the country today’, says S. R. Sehgal, ‘would be amazed by the multitude of words in every-day speech which are derivatives from Sanskrit.’ (Sehgal, Dr. S. R., Sanskritistic Culture in South East Asia, in Sanskriti, Vol. III (English), p. 474.)

Anyone listening to the radio broadcasts of these countries will be struck by the frequent occurrence of these words. It is in the Thai language that we have more Sanskrit elements. The Sanskrit words have undergone such phonetic changes that at times it is rather difficult to notice their Sanskrit origin.

“A few examples of Sanskrit words will not be out of place. A popular word for greeting in Thailand is Sabayadi Khap which has its origin in the Sanskrit word Svasti, which finds mention as early as the Rig Veda. The word vela is used in the same sense of time as in India. The leader of the Buddhist monks blesses the devotees with the words Sukhi Hotu, ‘may you be happy.’ The words for wedding in Thailand and Laos is viviha. The illustrations can be multiplied. Thus we see that there are thousands of Sanskrit words which are adopted by the Thai people without any phonetic modifications.” (Pandey, C. B., Indian Influence in Siam, India’s Contribution to World Thought and Culture, Vivekananda Kendra Prakashan Trust, Chennai, India 1970, p.465.)

Vedic festivals like Dusherra, the victory of Lord Rama over Ravana, are still observed in Thailand. They still hold honor for Lord Vishnu, Narayana, Mahadeva and other Vedic divinities. The Ramayana and Mahabharata and other Sanskrit texts have formed the basis of outstanding literature in Thailand. The Ramayana in Thailand is known as Rama-Akhyan or Ramakien, in which akhya is Sanskrit for “rendition of the story.” Knowledge of this was as essential for a cultured Siamese as Homer was for a European. The epics and Puranas of India were the basis of much inspiration for all of Southeast Asia, and the theme for classical theater, Shadow theater, and marionette shows. This influence can still be seen in Siamese dance, drama, and music. (Shah, Niranjan, Kings of Thailand Bear the Title of Rama, India Tribune, January 1, 2005.)

The name of the Thailand city of Ayutthaya, the ancient capital a few hours north of Bangkok, is known for its many temples. The name is derived after the name Ayodhya, the capital of the kingdom and birthplace of Lord Rama in India. And the Kings of Thailand still call themselves Rama along with their own Thai names. Rama is also found on the expressway connecting Bangkok to the international airport. Plus, the Bangkok airport has the display of the Vedic story of the devas and demons churning the ocean for the nectar of immortality, as described in the Puranas, which certainly shows their high regard for their Vedic connections.

 

CAMBODIA

It is suggested that many of the elements of India or Vedic culture were incorporated into the Khmer civilization at an early stage, even back from 2000 to 1000 BCE, because of the Indian traders who were active along the southern coast of what is now Cambodia. This included various implements for farming as well as numbers, writing, art, and literature, such as the Ream Ker or the Ramayana, which had a tremendous influence. The worship of Vishnu and Shiva was also adopted. They had also took up the Indic traditions of administration, architecture, court ceremony, economy, and the Cambodian New Year coincided with the start of the Vedic solar calendar.

This is barely the tip of how Cambodia has always had a close link with India and Vedic culture. The amazing temples of Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom are testimony to that and show much deeper areas of Vedic influence. Most people know about these temples, which are built as a microcosm of the Vedic universe, which displays all kinds of depictions of the knowledge inherited from India. One of the most noted panels is on the east side of the third gallery which displays the Devas and Asuras churning the ocean of milk for the nectar of immortality, a story right out of the Vedic Puranas.

Angkor Wat is a true wonder of the world. Historian Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru wrote: “Let it be said immediately that Angkor, as it stands, ranks as chief wonder of the world today.” To explain a little about it, it occupies about 500 acres surrounded on all four sides by a wall and an enclosed water tank. The causeways, flanked by enormous naga and lion statues, represent rainbows. The temple is 65 meters tall, made up of three platforms, progressively smaller, with covered galleries defining the borders, and is a replica of the cosmos. The first level contains 1200 square meters of carved sandstone galleries illustrating scenes from the Ramayana, Mahabharata and Puranic stories. (Shah, Niranjan, The Largest Hindu Temple is in Cambodia, India Tribune, January 29, 2005.)

We can only get an idea of the greatness of Angkor Wat from what we see of it today. It is truly an amazing temple, but from the descriptions described by Charles Higham, we can only guess at how much greater it was years ago. He describes it as follows: “Angkor Wat today is but a pale reflection of its former state. Traces of gilded stucco survive on the central tower, and a Japanese visitor in the early seventeenth century noted gilding over the stone bas-reliefs. It must in its heyday have literally been a golden temple. A 4-meter-high statue of Vishnu, which might have once been located in the central sanctuary tower, is still to be seen in the western entrance building. It remains venerated to this day.” (Higham, Charles, The Civilization of Angkor, Phoenix, London, 2001, p. 115.)

 

VIETNAM

From the 1st to 6th centuries CE, Vietnam was part of the Indianised kingdom of Funan, as it was called by the Chinese. The Funan people produced remarkable art and constructed an elaborate system of canals which were used for both transportation and the irrigation of wet rice agriculture. In mid-6th century, Funan was attacked by the pre-Angkorian Kingdom of Chenla, which gradually absorbed the territory of Funan into its own. Later, the area would be called Champa.

The name Champa is clearly Indian, whether it was named after the capital of the Anga country in the lower Ganges Valley, or after the Chola capital of the same name. The influence is obvious. (Shah, Niranjan, Ancient Indianization of Vietnam, India Tribune, October 16, 2004.)

Like Funan, it became influenced by the Vedic culture through continued commercial relations with India and the immigration of Indian literature and priests. Sanskrit was used as a sacred language, and the Vedic influence dominated art and agriculture, as is evidenced by the ruins of a Cham city in the province of Quang Nam, and the collection of Cham art in the museum of Danang. Brilliant examples of Cham sculpture can be seen in the Cham Museum, which exhibits numerous Vedic artifacts that have been found in the region, some of which go back more than a thousand years from the Champa period. These include sculptures of Shiva, Vishnu, Ganesh, Brahma, Nandi, and others.

As reported by Pamod Kumar, in June 2013, Vietnam’s prime minister officially identified 30 National Treasures of Integral Import to the Nation. The report from Vietnam features images of Vishnu and Surya, but especially an exquisite and very ancient sculpture of Lord Vishnu. According to a press release from the Communist Party of Vietnam’s Central Committee (CPVCC) the Vishnu sculpture is described as a “Vishnu stone head from Oc Eo culture, dated back 4,000-3,500 years.” This would make it the oldest Vedic artifact in the world. Recently the Government of Vietnam, despite its official Communist doctrine, has developed many programs and projects highlighting Vietnam’s ancient religious heritage. This discovery of a 4,000 to 3,500 year old Vishnu sculpture is truly historic and it sheds new light upon our understanding of the history of not only Hinduism but of the entire world.

The fact is there are no other “officially” recognized Vedic artifacts that have been dated back to such an early date. This would make Vietnam home to the world’s most ancient Vedic artifact. While there are indeed many other ancient artifacts that represent the same deity, they are not presented in the “Indic” tradition and cannot be directly recognized as the Vishnu of the Indic Vaishnava tradition.

The 4000-3500 year old Vietnamese Vishnu sculpture is part of an exhibit featuring some of Vietnam’s most ancient artifacts. It was discovered in the region of Southern Vietnam’s Mekong Delta. The Mekong River is named after the Ganges River (Ma Ganga) of India.

The significance of this discovery cannot be overestimated. The entire history of Hinduism and Vedic culture, as taught in the academic institutions of the world, has been built upon a false construct. According to mainstream academia, Vedic “religion” or Hinduism did not exist until the alleged “Aryans” invaded India circa 1500 BCE. An even later date is given to Vaishnavism which is speculated to have been derived from animist Sun worship. Yet here we have a highly evolved art form depicting Lord Vishnu in the Far South East region of Asia dated to somewhere between 2000 BCE to 1500 BCE.

This completely undermines the entire historic timeline developed by mainstream academia in regards to the development of both Vedic/Hindu civilization and Indian history. The region of modern India has always been the epicenter of High Vedic/Hindu Civilization and culture. No one anywhere has ever suggested the region of modern Vietnam to be the origin of Hindu civilization, yet it is in Vietnam that we now have the world’s most ancient example of Indic style Vedic Vaishnava art. Thus it stands to reason that if Vedic Vaishnava art, culture and religion flourished 4000 years ago in prehistoric Vietnam, it was undoubtedly flourishing in ancient India as well.

Once again science and archeology have confirmed the Vedic conclusion. As the Vedic literature states, 5000 years ago India was home to a highly evolved and advanced civilization. This civilization was centered on its sacred traditions. The worship of the Supreme Lord Vishnu, Lord Shiva, Lakshmi, and Durga was widespread and in fact spanned the entire globe.

These traditions presented themselves in diverse manners, as seen in modern India, yet among this diversity was a commonality based upon the authority of the Vedic scriptures and traditions. The recognizably Indic forms of the Vedic traditions spanned the globe from the Philippines to the Middle East and Siberia to Australia. Yet the same Divinities were worshiped and the same traditions were practiced throughout the world.

Perhaps today, as India itself is reeling under the onslaught of enforced “secularism” and as Hinduism has been relegated to the realm of just one of many religions (rather than being recognized as the heart and soul of India), we are fortunate that the former Hindu lands of Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, Myanmar, Laos, and Kampuchea are leading the way towards the reclamation of our ancient Vedic heritage. (http://www.speakingtree.in/spiritual-blogs/seekers/mysticism/4-000-year-old-vishnu-statue-discovered-in-vietnam)

Also: (https://rodpush.wordpress.com/2015/03/22/4000-year-old-vishnu-statue-discovered-in-vietnam-by-pramod-kumar-on-jan-21-2015-1479-views/)

Also reported in Hinduism Today, April/May/June, 2014, page 37.

 

PHILIPPINES

Vedic cultural influence went well beyond Bali, which shows many aspects of Vedic influence, and also reached the Philippines. Alfred L. Kroeber, a leading American anthropologist, wrote in Peoples of the Philippines: “There is no tribe in Philippines, no matter how primitive and remote, in whose culture today, elements of Indian origin cannot be traced.”

Filipino historian Gregorio F. Zaide describes in Philippine Political and Cultural History: “Basically Malay (Indian) in might, Hinduistic in culture, and Buddhistic in religion.”

American archeologist Henry Otley Beyer, a dedicated scholar on the Philippine civilization, carried out a series of remarkable excavations in the late 1920s at Novaliches in the Philippines. His work was systematic and concluded that all the artifacts found, including a large quantity of pottery, iron implements and weapons such as knives and axes, glass beads and bangles, and beads of semiprecious stones, such as carnelian, agate and amethyst, were brought to the Philippines from India over a long period of trade, well before the beginnings of the Christian era. He confirmed this by saying: “India has most profoundly affected the Philippine civilization.” (Shah, Niranjan, India’s Influence in Philippines, India Tribune, August 28, 2004.)

 

INDONESIA

It is hard to say when India started to spread its influence in Indonesia, but evidence shows it was no later than the 2nd or 3rd century BCE. (Francisco, Juan R., A Survey of Palaeographic Relations Between India and the Philippines, India’s Contribution to World Thought and Culture, Vivekananda Kendra Prakashan Trust, Chennai, India 1970, p.565.) The spread of Vedic culture was caused and stimulated by the trade expeditions which were organized from the subcontinent. Indonesian princes accepted the religious and cultural notions of the voyagers and began to invite Brahmanas to their courts. Afterwards the Vedic culture spread among the upper classes of Indonesian society. (Goudriaan, T., Sanskrit Texts and Indian Religion in Bali, India’s Contribution to World Thought and Culture, Vivekananda Kendra Prakashan Trust, Chennai, India 1970, p.563.)

The whole area of Indonesia, namely Java, Sumatra, Burma, Sukarta, Bali, Champa, Malaya, and up into Cambodia, Thailand, and Vietnam are countries that had all been ruled by Hindu or Buddhist kings. The earliest seems to be Java back in the first century CE, starting with King Devavarman, based on the inscriptions that have been found in the area. Relations between ancient India and Java seems to have been quite close, and inscriptions indicate that in 850 CE the Sailendra kings of Java created an endowment for the Nalanda University. Temples built in Java are quite similar in style to those of South India, along with often having panels of sculpted impressions from the Ramayana and Mahabharata on the temples. East of Jakarta you can find three temples dedicated to Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. Even the Indonesian currency notes has carried the image of Ganesh on them, and Ganesh, known as Vinayaka, is still worshiped in many places there. Much more of the Vedic influence in Indonesia would still be present if not for the devastation by the Muslims and European colonialists. Now it is a major Muslim area, but many Indonesian Muslims do not find it strange to name their children with Sanskrit-based names. (Kapur, Kamlesh, Portraits of a Nation: History of India, Sterling Publishers, Private Limited, 2010, pages 444-45.)

Indonesian dance and music are also of Vedic origin, and still hold much of its influence. Names of both persons and cities and towns bear names of Vedic or Sanskrit origins. The language itself is a dialect of Sanskrit known as Bahasha. Of 25,500 entries in the 1982 dictionary of Kawi, 12,500 are Sanskrit loan words. Even the Indonesian flag is called Dwi-Varna (two colors) which is Sanskrit. The cardinal points of the Indonesian Constitution are also designed in accordance with the Sanskrit word Panchshila.

In this regard, Wilhelm Von Humbolt, German Indologist, Prussian Minister of Education, the founder of the science of general linguistics wrote: “Kawi language is Javanese and contains a number of Sanskrit loan words, which prove the literary and political superiority of the Hindus. The historical background has the emigration of Brahmins, who brought the Mahabharata, the Ramayana and other works of Sanskrit literature.” He also showed that no Prakrit words are found in Old Javanese, and, thus, he deduced from this that the Indian immigrants must have come to Java at a time long ago before the more recent Indian language had separated from Sanskrit.

Modern Indonesia, sometimes called Nusantara, especially Bali, is another ancient center of Vedic culture and civilization. The name of the island of Bali was once Balidvipa, which goes back well over 1000 years. It is accepted that this is in connection with Bali Maharaja, the warrior king and devotee of Lord Vishnu from ancient times. Vamanadeva was the form of Lord Vishnu who Bali surrendered to, and Vamanadeva is the name of one of the great historical royal dynasties of Bali.

Contact between India and Indonesia go back many hundreds of years. In fact, pepper plants, which are originally from India, were found in Indonesian food as early as 600 BCE. Cotton was also brought from India by the 2nd century BCE. So trading and cultural exchanges were taking place from that time. It was a natural transition and an attraction to the Vedic culture by the people of Java, Sumatra, and Kalimantan, who adopted the Vedic customs. Some Indian traders built new Vedic temples, and even brought in priests, monks and teachers. Then later, the local leaders continued the practices. In fact, local rulers began to use Indian titles like Raja or Maharaja, or add the royal suffix of varman (protector) to their names. The major Indonesian states, from the 5th century to the 15th, were all Vedic or Buddhist.

Throughout Bali you will find Vedic and Sanskrit names, especially for the capitals of the provinces. Regarding other forms of Vedic evidence that still exist today, the Indonesian coat of arms, the Garuda Panchasila, is also derived from Javanese Vedic elements. Indonesia’s National airline is named Garuda Airlines, Garuda being Lord Vishnu’s carrier. Also, the Nation chose Indonesia to be the name for their new Nation over the native name of Nusantara (Entire Islands) in recognition of their ancient links with Mother India. Furthermore, the modern capital of Indonesia, Jakarta, features a magnificent sculpture of Partha Sarathi Krishna and Arjuna on the battlefield of Kurukshetra. This shows the immense popularity and respect for Hindu culture that can still be found amongst the people of Indonesia. Plus, according to the Parisada Hindu Dharma Indonesia, a Hindu revival movement, the Indonesian Hindu population is closer to 18 million rather than the 6 million claimed by the Government.

 

CHINA

It is known that China in India and in Indian ancient texts like the Puranas was known as Cina, and the residents were also known as Cinas or Chinas. The genealogists of China and Tartary declare that they were descendants of Indian Kings. The Kiratas and Chinas moved out of India towards the East, beyond the Himalayas, and founded colonies there. The Kshatriyas or warrior classes from India first inhabited the area of China. These settlers were originally inhabitants of the Vedic lands, such as Sapta Sindhu, which included Kashmir, Ladakha, Tibet, and the Punjab of ancient India. From then on, ancient India had continuous contact with China. The Manusmriti mentions that when the Chinas, Kiratas and other communities became decreasingly Vedic (Manu-samhita, 10, 43-44), they were pressured to leave the Vedic lands. However, in the Mahabharata period, they brought gifts to the Pandava king Yudhisthir at his coronation. Also, a king of Assam is mentioned in the Mahabharata as having an army of Kiratas and Chinas, of yellow color. (Shah, Niranjan, Indian Origins of Ancient Civilizations, International Vedic Vision, Sand Point, New York, 2012, p.105.)

Herein it is clear that connections between China and India go back thousands of years. From the Vedic literature, we see that the Mahabharata mentions China in a few places, such as when the people brought presents to the Rajasuya ritual of the Pandavas. In the Sabha Parva, the Cinas appear with the Kiratas among the armies of King Bhagadatta of Pragjyotisa or Assam. China is also mentioned in the Arthasastra and the Manusrmiti.

In the Vana Parva of the Mahabharata, the Pandava brothers are said to have crossed the country of the Cinas in course of their trek through the Himalayan territory north of Badrinath and reached the realm of the Kirata king Subahu. The Cinas are brought into relations with the Himalayan people (Haimavatas) in the Sabha Parva of the Mahabharata also. The land of the Haimavatas is likely to be Himavantappadesha of the Pali texts, which is identified with Tibet or Nepal.

 

JAPAN

In the Shingon pantheon of Japan, we can also recognize a large number of Vedic gods. These include Shoten sama (Ganesh), Taishaku (Indra), Katen (Agni, the Vedic fire god), Emma-o (Yama, the Vedic god of death and the afterlife), Benzaiten or Benton (Sarasvati, the Vedic goddess of learning), Suiten (Varuna), Futen (Vayu), Ishana, Bonten (Brahma), Jiten (Prithvi), Nitten and Gatten (Surya the Vedic sun god and Chandra the Vedic moon god), and many others. “Though most of the deities are venerated only as forming part of Mandara [mountain], some of them such as Shoten sama, Emma-o, Suiten and Benten are popular objects of worship and have temples dedicated to them.” (Eliot, Sir Charles, Japanese Buddhism, London, 1935, p.355) Therefore, the worship of their interpretation of the Vedic deities continues to this day.

According to author Hisashi Nakamura, there is no country in the world other than Japan where students are learning a rudimentary knowledge of Sanskrit language. (Shah, Niranjan, India’s Influence in Americas, China, Greece and Southeast, India Tribune, December 4, 2004.)

Even today, 15 miles from the heart of Tokyo is a Vedic temple of Indra with two figures of Hanuman guarding the image. Large crowds also visit the temple of Saraswati. Fudo is another form of the terrible form of Shiva, wherein he possesses a third eye, a trident, and a lasso of snakes. You can still recognize Vedic deities of Brahma, Shiva, Vishnu, Lakshmi, Durga, Ganesh, and others in the temple at Kyoto, Nara, Miyajima, and other places. Nara was a center of Sanskrit learning in 700 CE and earlier. In some Japanese temples, very ancient Sanskrit manuscripts are preserved intact, some of which are much older than those preserved in India. (Shah, Niranjan, India’s Influence in Americas, China, Greece and Southeast, India Tribune, December 4, 2004.)

Much more of this kind of information can be found in my books “Proof of Vedic Culture’s Global Existence,” and “Mysteries of the Ancient Vedic Empire: Recognizing Vedic Contributions to Other Cultures Around the World,” as well as “Advancements of Ancient India’s Vedic Culture.”

Separation of Sita from Rama
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(Kadamba Kanana Swami, 14 April 2008, Bhaktivedanta Manor, United Kingdom, Rama Navami Lecture)

Lord Ramachandra’s attachment to Sitadevi was not one that could be compared to an ordinary husband’s attachment to his wife. In the pastimes of Lord Ramachandra, we must recognise that there are two levels – the first is that Lord Rama is acting out the role of a husband in this world and the second is the spiritual relationship that exists between Sita and Rama.

Prabhupada explains that the separation of Rama from Sita is spiritually understood as vipralambha which is an activity of the hladini potency of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. So the pastimes of Lord Ramachandra are displaying something of the nature of vipralambha. Therefore, it is said that out of all of the incarnations mentioned in the Srimad Bhagavatam, it is Lord Ramachandra that is almost like Lord Krsna. Actually, Prabhupada emphasised that Lord Ramachandra is as good as Lord Krsna (virtually speaking there is no difference between Rama and Krsna), but the only difference is that when the Lord is displaying his features as Rama, He is not revealing His nature in full. Because as Lord Ramachandra, He adheres to the path of dharma; He is here to give the example. On the other hand, Krsna is just here to show His transcendental nature.

Despite this, Lord Ramachandra is still showing us something from the spiritual world, which is this vipralambha and how spiritual love can exist in this mood of separation. So the separation from Sitadevi that is being displayed by Lord Ramachandra is truly that separation between the Supreme Lord and His devotee. It is not just a husband-wife attachment, but it is the attachment that exists in pure bhakti, one that a true devotee of the Lord feels for Him. So this is very important to remember when we are reading and hearing about the pastimes of Lord Ramachandra.

The article " Separation of Sita from Rama " was published on KKSBlog.

71st Vyasapuja Schedule of HH Jayapataka Swami
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On 4th April, disciples and well wishers of HH Jayapataka Swami will celebrate 71st Vyasapuja of HH Jayapataka Swami. This year , the Vyasapuja will be an Online Vyasapuja due to the current pandemic situation and lock down in India.Please follow the schedule and take part in the vyasapuja online! Schedule Adhivas : 3rd April […]

The post 71st Vyasapuja Schedule of HH Jayapataka Swami appeared first on Mayapur.com.

Recognizing Vedic Culture Around the World, by Stephen Knapp
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        This is a simple introduction to how we can begin to recognize how Vedic culture infiltrated or was simply accepted into various cultures around the world. If you are interested in understanding this more deeply, please see my books “Proof of Vedic Culture’s Global Existence” and “Mysteries of the Ancient Vedic Empire.”


WHAT IS THE VEDIC ARYAN CULTURE?

It is often considered that the Vedic Aryans are a race of people. But aryan actually means a standard of living, an ideal. It was the Sanskrit speaking people of thousands of years ago that gave the word arya to signify a gentleman, an ideal person, someone on the path of purity. It was a term meant for those who were on the cutting edge of social evolution. Another way of interpreting the word aryan is that ar also means white or clear. Ya refers to God. Ya also refers to Yadu, or Krishna, the main person in the Yadu dynasty. Thus, aryan means those who have, or are developing, a clear path or a clear consciousness toward God.
In this way, we can understand that Aryanism, or Vedic culture, is a way of life. It is not a race of people or a sectarian creed or religion. It belongs to no particular country or race. It is a path that upholds a code of conduct which values peace and happiness and justice for all. Thus, it is a path open for all who want to be trained to be happy with simple living and high thinking, while engaged in proper conduct, a moral life, and selfless service to humanity. Therefore, anyone who wants to live in such a manner may be called an Aryan, a member of the Vedic culture, no matter from which race or country a person may come.
So what does it mean to follow this Vedic Aryan path? It generally means to learn the ways of a spiritually progressed person. This includes understanding one’s spiritual identity, knowing that he or she is not the body but is spirit soul, that there is karma for one’s actions, and rebirth in another life after death. Thus, everyone will automatically reap the reward or punishment for his own good or evil thoughts, words, and deeds. By having a solid understanding of such spiritual knowledge, there is automatically a respect for all others regardless of race, sex, or species. This brings a moral and peaceful social behaviour in everybody toward everyone. By having respect for everyone’s spiritual identity, this also brings an innate happiness in us all. We can understand that we are only visiting this planet for a short time, and that we are all in this together. In other words, my contribution to your well-being, especially spiritual well-being, will be an automatic contribution to my own existence. In this way, society at large is in a state of constant improvement. That is the goal of the Vedic Aryan way of life.
Therefore, the Sanskrit word Aryan means a way of life that aims at the elevation of everyone in society to a higher level of consciousness. It means to assist ourselves through a disciplined and godly life to understand the purpose of our existence as well as to become a spiritually realized person. It also means that we help every other individual soul because by helping others we help ourselves. That itself is a natural state of being when we can perceive God as the Supersoul, Paramatma, within everyone. All of this is encouraged by, and increases, a natural faith in an all-pervading Supreme Being. Such faith and focus on the Supreme Being can elevate us to return to our real spiritual home, which is one of the most important goals of the Vedic lifestyle.
To facilitate this lifestyle, there has been the development of the Vedic literature, such as the Vedas, Upanishads, Bhagavad-gita, the Puranas, and other ancient texts that explained the Vedic spiritual philosophy. There has also been the architecture that has been seen in the Vedic temples and similar styles as seen throughout the world, along with the common sciences such as mathematics based on the invention of zero and what became known as the Arabic numeral system, which actually came from India. There were also things like Ayurveda (the original holistic health techniques), Vastu, the science of architecture, Yoga, the practice of spiritual development, and much more. I detailed all these things in my book, “Advancements of India’s Ancient Vedic Culture.”
This culture has spread in many areas throughout the world. Ancient India no doubt covered a much larger area of land than it does today and spread much farther to the north and west. At least there are historical indications showing that the Aryan influence was felt over long distances. The Vedic gods, for example, were known over a wide area. V. Gordon Childe, in his book The Aryans, states that evidence makes it clear that the Aryans had been established in centers on the Upper Euphrates in 1400 BCE. These centers were similar to the cities of the Indus Valley and later in Media and Persia. In fact, Hugo Winckler, in 1907, identified the names of four Vedic gods (Indra, Varuna, Mitra, and the Nasatya twins) along with ten Babylonian and four Mitannian gods that were invoked as witnesses to a treaty signed in 1360 BCE between the kings of Mitanni and the Hittites. There are also tablets at Tell-el-Amarna that mention Aryan princes in Syria and Palestine. But these Aryans were not necessarily permanent residents of the area but dynasts who ruled over the non-Aryan subjects of that region. This would explain why some scholars such as Jacobi, Pargiter, and Konow accept the deities of the Mitanni in the Upper Euphrates in Syria and Palestine as being Indian, introduced to the area through a Sanskrit speaking people who came from the Punjab. Furthermore, L. A. Waddell claims that the first Aryan kings can be traced back to at least 3380 BCE. They had a capital north of the Euphrates near the Black Sea in Cappadocia in 3378 BCE, and these Hittite kings of Cappadocia bore Aryan names. This means that the Aryans had to have been very well settled in the area during this time.

    THE SUMERIANS

One widely held view about the Sumerians is that they arrived in Mesopotamia before 3000 BCE when they acquired the prosperity of the inhabitants that were living there. However, another view is that the Sumerians were actually the earliest cultivators in Mesopotamia. They had a philosophy which was especially influential on the succeeding Babylonians and Assyrians who assimilated much of their beliefs. The Sumerians believed the universe and all within it reflected the supreme mind and supernatural activity. They believed that the universe was created from the primeval sea along with all the planets, stars, sun, and moon, each of which had its own orbit. After the creation of the planets came superhuman and invisible beings, who then made human, animal, and plant life. This Sumerian theology, which is very similar to the Vedic version, can still be found in the detailed texts dating back to 1900 BCE.
Though the Mesopotamian cities shared a common pantheon, not all of the gods were worshiped in all of the cities, neither were they known by the same names. And when the Semites invaded the area, they changed the gods’ names, characteristics, and relations. So, presently it is not clear which were the Sumerian gods or which were carry-overs from the Vedic Aryans, to whom the Sumerians at least were closely related if not a part of Vedic civilization.

    PERSIA

The name Persia is actually a derivative of the Sanskrit name Parasu, which was the battle axe of Parashurama. Lord Parashurama had led 21 expeditions around the world to chastise the Kshatriya warriors who had swayed from the Vedic principles and became cruel and unruly. This was before the time of Lord Ramachandra. Persia was overrun by Lord Parashurama and his troops and succumbed to abide by his administration. According to E. Pococke on page 45 of his book, India in Greece, the land of Persia became known as Paarasika.
Pococke goes on the explain that the term “Chaldeans” comes from the Sanskrit term Kul-deva (often pronounced Kaldeo), which means “family gods” referring to a people who worshiped the gods of the Brahmanas. He also adds that the map of ancient Persia, Colchis, and Armenia provides distinct evidence that show a colonization of people from India of a massive scale. It also shows the truth of several main descriptions of the area as found in the Ramayana and the Mahabharata.
A British author, R. G. Wallace, mentions on page seven of his book, Memoirs of India, that Hindus are numerous throughout Afghanistan, as well as Arabia and Persia. These are not recent migrants but remnants from the local populations who were converted to Islam by force.
Lt. Gen. Charles Vallancy, on page 465 of his book Collectania De Rebus Hibernicus, quotes Sir William Jones as saying: “It has been proved by clear evidence and plain reasoning that a powerful monarchy was established in Iran, long before the Assyrian or Pishdadi government; that it was in truth a Hindu monarchy. . . that it subsisted many centuries and that its history has been ingrafted on that of the Hindus, who founded the monarchies of Ayodhya and Indraprastha. . .”
V. Gordon Childe points out more linguistic resemblances found in the Sanskrit of the Rig-veda and the Iranian of the Gathas of Zoroaster and Darius the Great. Both Indians and Iranians had called themselves Aryas and worshiped the same deities, such as Mitra, Aryaman, Indra, Varuna, Agni, and so on. They also once knew the same set of rivers, the Sarasvati and Hara ‘uvatis, as well as shared the Soma ritual. Thus, one can conclude that they were once of the same background. Even the word Iran or Ariana means “Land of the Aryans” as pointed out by Hermann Kulke in his book, A History of India. All this signifies that the early Iranians were a part of or at least affiliated with the Vedic Aryan civilization.

IRAQ AND IRAN

An interesting thing is that the royal family of Iran, the Pehlavis, have their roots in the Vedic Kshatriya tradition. The name Pehlavi appears first in the Ramayana episode in which Vishvamitra attempts to drive away Vashista’s sacred cow. The title “Shah” is also a Vedic name and is also a common Hindu surname. The Hindu king of Nepal also bears the title of “Shah.” The Kshatriya king of Gwalior deposed by the Muslims was Ram Shah. The wealthy patriot who turned over his wealth to Rana Pratap to help defend India was Bhama Shah. Therefore, the title “Shah” in Iran is simply a reminder of the Indian Kshatriya tradition that once ruled the area of Iran. In fact, when Iran started to come under attack by the Islamic invasions, many of the common people ran away to India. Histories also record that the royal family at the time also considered leaving Iran to seek shelter in India. So, the very fact that the people and the ruler of Iran thought of coming to India during the Islamic raids proves that they were Hindus, part of the Vedic culture.
The Rig-veda, being the most ancient scripture, and its language being Sanskrit, provides evidence that Sanskrit is the great ancestor of all known languages. Persian is also, therefore, a descendant dialect of Sanskrit. For example, many towns in Iran have Sanskrit names. The birth place of Omar Khayyam, a well-known Persian poet, is Nishapur, which is a pure Sanskrit name. Indian troops stationed in West Asia during World War I and II have reported seeing temples of Indian deities like Ganesh and Shankar (Shiva) in ruins in remote desolate areas of Iran, Afghanistan, and other countries. Iranian mythology also has links with ancient Vedic lore.

ARABIA

To help illustrate the well established Vedic connection in Arabia there is an old poem to which we can refer. It is from page 257 of the Sair-Ul-Okul, the anthology of ancient Arabic poetry compiled in 1742 under the order of the Turkish Sultan Salim. It was written by Labi-bin-e Akhtab-bin-e Turfa who lived in Arabia around 1850 BCE, 2300 years before Mohammed, and pays devout poetic tribute to the Vedas and mentions each one by name. In English, the poem reads as follows: “Oh, the divine land of Hind (India), very blessed art thou! Because thou art the chosen of God blessed with knowledge. That celestial knowledge which like four lighthouses shone in such brilliance, through the (utterances of) Indian sages in fourfold abundance. God enjoins on all humans, follow with hands down the path the Vedas with His divine precept lay down. Bursting with divine knowledge are Sama and Yajur bestowed on creation, Hence brothers respect and follow the Vedas, guides to salvation. Two others, the Rig and Athar teach us fraternity, sheltering under their luster dispels darkness till eternity.”
So, even at that early stage, we can get an idea as to the respect that was given to the Vedic tradition in ancient Arabia. The Vedas were the only religious scriptures to which the Arabs owed allegiance. This shows the antiquity of the Vedas and the existence of Vedic Kshatriya rule over the entire region from the Indus to the Mediterranean. In fact, from Mohammed’s time backwards through history to the remotest antiquity, Arabia shows the influence of Vedic rule and culture. So, you could say that Arabs used to be Hindus.
Another poem that illustrates this point was written by Jirrham Bintoi, who lived 165 years before prophet Mohammed. In the poem he glorifies the character of King Vikramaditya who ruled 500 years before Mohammed. Vikramaditya’s capital was Ujjayini (Ujjain), alias Avantika, in Central India. The poem appeared in a premier article in a magazine around 1945 on the occasion of the 2000th anniversary of the Vikram Era, greatly celebrated in Ujjain. This poem is also from the Sair-Ul-Okul, the anthology of ancient Arabic poetry. It is in Arabic, but when put in English, it reads as follows:
“Fortunate are those who were born (and lived) during King Vikram’s reign. He was a noble, generous, dutiful ruler devoted to the welfare of his subjects. But at that time we Arabs, oblivious of divinity, were lost in sensual pleasures. Plotting and torture were rampant (amongst us). The darkness of ignorance had enveloped our country. Like the lamb struggling for its life in the cruel paws of a wolf, we Arabs were gripped by ignorance. The whole country was enveloped in a darkness as intense as on a New Moon night. But the present dawn and pleasant sunshine of education is the result of the favor of that noble king Vikram whose benevolence did not lose sight of us foreigners as we were. He spread his sacred culture amongst us and sent scholars from his own land whose brilliance shown like that of the sun in our country. These scholars and preceptors through whose benevolence we were once again made cognizant of the presence of God, introduced to His sacred knowledge, and put on the road to truth, had come to our country to initiate us in that culture and impart education.”
The poet Jirrham Bintoi had received the topmost award for three consecutive years at the Meccan symposium. All three poems, including the one above, had been inscribed on gold plate and hung inside the Kaba shrine.
This poem shows the way that Arabia had been a part of the advanced Vedic culture, and how it had been appreciated by Arab people. From this we can understand that there were many of the Vedic sciences that had been incorporated into the Arab region for the advancement of the people. Such would include Ayurvedic health centers (as is apparent from the almost identical nature of the Arabic Yunani and Ayurveda systems), schools, Vedic forms of irrigation and agriculture, and an orderly and peaceful way of life. It is for this reason why we can also find today the Kurds and Iranians speaking Sanskritized dialects, fire temples existing in places like Baku and Baghdad thousands of miles away from India, scores of sites of ancient Vedic cultural centers like Navbahar in Iraq, and what was once numerous viharas (Vedic educational centers) in Soviet Russia and throughout the world. Ancient Vedic scriptures are also found from time to time in Central Asia.
This also explains why when starting from India and going towards the West we find so many names derived from Sanskrit in the region, such as Afghanistan, Baluchistan, Kurdistan, Iran, Iraq, and Arvastan. It has not been realized that it was the Indians who ruled this entire region in the ancient past who gave all these names to these countries. It is from ancient times that Indian Kshatriya royal families like the Pehlavis and Barmarks have held sway over Iran and Iraq.

EGYPT

The name Egypt comes from the shortened term of Ajap, which refers to the Sanskrit name Ajapati, signifying Lord Rama as the illustrious scion of the clan of Aja, since Aja was the grandfather of Lord Rama. Also, the Egyptian Pharaohs had such names as Ramses I, or Ramses II, because Rama was universally regarded as an ideal ruler. Ramses means Rama the God. And like the Vedic tradition, the Egyptians also considered their rulers as being representatives or even descendants of God.
In an article by Dr. S. K. Balasubramanian, Hindu Mythology as Prehistory, he relates that the history of Egypt goes thousands of years back to the time of Yayati. Yayati had married Devayani, the daughter of Shukracharya, the Vedic Aryan preceptor of the Danava king Vrishaparva, whose daughter, Sharmistha, was Yayati’s second wife. Yayati’s story finds etymological support in the development of Judaism and its linkage with ancient Egypt. Yayati suffered loss of youth and became prematurely old as a result of a curse and begged his sons to relieve his old age by exchanging their youth with his old age. The eldest son of Devayani, Yadu, declined the request and was deprived of his birth rite to succeed his father. The other sons became similarly accursed. The last son, Puru (by Sharmistha), exchanged his youth for his father’s old age and was later crowned the sovereign of the world superceding his elders.
Therefore, Puru’s descendants, who were the Puravas, later became known as the Pharaohs of Egypt who ruled over his father’s domain with his elder brothers subject to him. Yayati was deified as Yahweh by the descendants of Yadu who are identified with the Yadus, the Jews of the present day. Nonetheless, they bore bitter animosity to their ancestor Aryan Hindus because the Jews were subservient to the Pharaohs by the edict of Yayati. They resented their subordinate status and revolted against it, moving out of Egypt. Thus, they went on and created their own culture, legends, and histories.
The other sons of Yayati were also subject to the Pharaohnic suzerainty. Of these, Druhya was the leader of those who became the French Druids, the Druhyas. Anu went on to become the head of Anatolia, while Turvasu was the king of the Turanians in the area north of the Black Sea.
By the time ancient Egypt comes into our view in history, its extent had shrunk to the Nile valley. Others in that ancient Vedic culture had also asserted their independence. The Minoans, the Maltese, and the Greeks had developed along such independent lines. The Jews rose in revolt against the Pharaohs and moved into Palestine retaining a grudge against their forebears in Aryavarta and Egypt. They developed an iconoclast religion and were the first to attempt to “rewrite” history. They rejected the past to such an extent and with such bitterness that they even reversed the natural mode of writing from left to right. The Egyptians and the Greeks retained the pluralism of their ancestors and developed on more tolerant lines.
The discovery of the source of the Nile is also credited to the early Vedic explorers. Colonel John Speke explains in his Journal of the Discovery of the Source of the Nile (page 13) that, “Colonel Rigby gave me a most interesting paper with a map attached to it about the Nile and Mountain of the Moon. It was written by Lt. Wilford from the Puranas of the ancient Hindus. It is remarkable that the Hindus had christened the source of the river Nile. This, I think, shows clearly that the ancient Hindus must have had some kind of connection with different parts of Africa. . . All previous information concerning the hydro-graphy of these regions originated with the ancient Hindus. . .  and all those busy Egyptian geographers who disseminated the knowledge with a view to be famous for their long-sightedness in solving the mysteries which shrouded the source of the Nile (the holy river) were so many hypothetical humbugs.”

GREECE

In looking at the Greek culture, we find many connections between it and the Vedic civilization. Many people and scholars tend to view Greece as a source of western civilization. However, it is seldom realized that the original Greek culture was itself Vedic. This is not to say that no one has recognized the similarities. Even as far back as 1830 we can find on pages 61-2 from Volume II of Narrative of a Journey Overland From England to India, by Mrs. Colonel Elwood, where she sees the Vedic influence in Greece. “The striking analogy between some of the Hindoo fables with those of the Greeks, would induce us to believe that the Greeks and Hindoos must, at an early age, have had much intercourse, and possibly Pythagorus, with the doctrine of the Metempsychosis, may have imported some of the adventures of the Indian Gods and ascribed them to the Greek deities.
“Indra whirling his thunderbolt appears to be the same with Jupiter. Chrisn [Krishna] and his nine Gopis are evidently Apollo and the Muses. The beautiful Camadeva is a more interesting being even than the Greecian Cupid, while the lovely Maya, the Goddess of beauty, the Venus, sprang from the bosom of the ocean, Surya and Arjuna resemble Phoebus and Aurora, and the twin sons Aswinau, Aswini-cum-arau, or the Daul, Castor and Pollux; Lachshemi crowned with ears of corn appears to be Ceres; Kali, Hecate or Proserpine; and Narad, the eloquent messenger of the Gods, is Mercury. Sir William Jones identifies Ganesh with Janus, whilst Hanuman and his monkey attendants, resemble Pan and his Sylvan deities.”
The fact that Krishna was the God of Greece is shown by the silver coins made by Agathaclese, a Greek ruler of the 2nd century BCE. These coins bear the imprint of Lord Krishna and His brother Balarama and are on display in several museums. Furthermore, a large mosaic of a young Krishna playing the flute, standing cross-legged under a tree while grazing cows, hangs in the museum in Corinth. This was obviously salvaged from a local Krishna temple which proves this city was once a center of Vedic culture with temples to Krishna.
We can recognize that as the Vedic culture moved from India to Egypt to Greece, etc., much of the philosophy stayed the same, although the names and artistic characteristics of the gods changed with time. The features of the deities would change because as they moved west the esthetic standards would be adjusted since the priests would emphasize certain aspects of the images according to regional and cultural preference. The early Greek sculptures seem to have been carved by the priests for the temples. In other words, they were the temple deities and were probably dressed rather than left naked, and then worshiped in the temples. Many of the early forms were almost always carved as a boy of 15 to 17 years of age with long hair like Krishna. Furthermore, Zeus, Jupiter, and Amon were all blue bodied, not because they were sky-gods like some say, but because they are related to the image of Krishna who is blue, which signifies His spiritual nature.

ITALY

The name Italy (from Etaly) in Sanskrit signifies a country situated at the bottom of the continent now called Europe. As the Vedic culture had crossed through the mid-eastern countries and into Greece and Italy, the Vedic gods were still a primary factor in the worship and legends of the land. However, the names had changed in the local jargon to emphasize various characteristics that had more emphasis with the people of the region. We can recognize this in regard to how the popular Roman god Mithra can be traced to Mitra of the Vedas, who came to the Mediterranean through Asia Minor by the military forces who had been impressed with the Vedic philosophy.
Furthermore, many other Roman gods originated from the east, especially from the Greek tradition who were further traced and characterized after the Vedic deities. For example, Zeus is Dyaus, Jupiter is Diupeter (or Dyaus Pitar, the Vedic Indra), Minerva is Pallas Athen, Diana is Artemia, Venus (the Vedic Lakshmi) became Aphrodite, Neptune is Poseidon, Vulcan is Hephaestus, Ceres is Demetri, Liber is Dionysus, Mercury became Hermes, and Hermes was formerly the Egyptian god Thoth. An interesting point concerning Hermes is described by Dr. Ginsburg in Life of Levita. It is mentioned that the way the god Hermes was worshiped was as a phallus, standing on a flat stone, which was anointed with oil, similar to the worship of the Shiva linga. But the Shiva linga is anointed with Ganges water, representing the way Shiva accepted the pounding force of the Ganges river on his head as it descended from the heavenly region to earth.
One of the reasons why so many Vedic deities can be found here is that Rome had been engaged in trade with India for many years. An example of how extensive trade was between Rome and India can be seen at Sisupalgarh. This was a fort located on the far eastern side of India, three miles south of Bhubaneshwar. It was built around the third century BCE and abandoned in the fourth century CE. Excavations revealed Roman and Indian coins that date back to the first and second centuries.

EUROPE

Before Christianity, Vedic culture had access to all lands around the globe. This is proved by several finds, such as the naval bell with a Tamil inscription found on the sea-bed off Australia. There was also a ship of the BCE era with the image of Buddha on it found under the ice-bound sea near Denmark. Ancient statues and temples and cities bearing an identification with India and Vedic culture have been located in almost all continents and even in remote islands. References are available about Hindu naval experts assisting people in Africa and other continents to safely navigate the high seas. The chronicles of the Greek Periplus indicate that India shipped a variety of products to Greece. These included spices, high quality textiles, ivory, gems, and iron. Rome also supplied many products to India in these trades. While trading in the Mediterranean area, India did much trade with Egypt, as evidenced from the great stock of 14th century Egyptian and Syrian gold and silver coins found in Broach, Gujarat.
Images and paintings of Krishna in His mother’s arms were worldwide. Only later was it adopted by early Christians to depict Mother Mary holding baby Jesus. Such images and the Vedic books and remnants of Vedic civilization throughout Europe were destroyed by Christian invaders. Thus, in some ways you could say we have forgotten this knowledge of our ancient roots because we have been forced to forget it.
How this destruction took place is explained by Godfrey Higgins in his book, The Celtic Druids (p.164). He says that Christians did not always burn and plunder, but subtly took in whole communities along with their customs and stamped them as Christian. “The monks of Roman and Greek churches were remnants of the sect of the Essenes converted to Christianity, and much degraded and corrupted from their excellent predecessors. . .  When they became converts they formed an odd mixture of the two religions. In what they called monasteries, many of them built before the Christian era, a day had from time immemorial been dedicated to the god Sol (the Sun-god) as his birthday, and that he bore the epithet Lord. . . Thus came the 25th December, the heathen festival of the God Sol to be selected as the birthday of Christ, and the Druidic festival of the winter Solstice to become a Christian rite. . . the ‘birth’ of the Sun on 25th December was kept from India to the Ultima Thule. . . these ceremonies partook of the same character.”
So, from this it is apparent that many of the Christian festivals were carry-overs from the Vedic culture of India, which also recognized the importance of the sun, the solstices, and so on. Therefore, as the Vedic culture had reached all lands, all ancient people throughout the world, whatever may have been the name of their community or region, were united in a common culture and observed familiar festivals. It could be that the same festivals had different emphasis in different regions, but the main culture was the Vedic culture or a close derivative of it.

THE VEDIC INFLUENCE IN BRITAIN

How the Vedic influence was felt in such far away places as England and Scandinavia is explained in The Aryans by V. Gordon Childe. He relates that in Britain, shortly after 2000 BCE, a people conquered the territory who were noted for their use of battle-axes. It was during this time that a period of rapid development began. It is now understood that these people were mixed with Aryans who promoted what is now called the Western type of civilization that continued to develop.
L. A. Waddell also writes that the Trojans and their civilization were of Sumerian-Aryan origin. When the Trojan amulets were deciphered they were disclosed to be of the same religion with the same invocations and deity symbols as on the amulets of the seals of the Indus Valley. These symbols were also the same as those on the ancient monuments in Britain. And recorded history states that Britain was first colonized by King Brutus the Trojan in about 1103 BCE.
Further Vedic influence in Britain was also brought by the Celts. Celts were Indo-Europeans who first emerged as a separate people near the source of the Danube about 1000 BCE. They swept over central Europe and arrived in Britain about 800 BCE. Ward Rutherford, in his book Celtic Mythology, points out many similarities between the Celtic and the early Hindu or Vedic traditions. He suggests that though the Celts and Vedic followers were separated by a large mass of land, they nonetheless must have originally come from the same source. Furthermore, Waddell, in The Makers of Civilization, provides some evidence that Saint George, Saint Andrew, Saint Michael, and the legend of King Arthur and the Holy Grail, as well as the Thor-Odin legend of the Britains and Scandinavians, were of Sumerian-Aryan origin.
The whole of Europe was administered in ancient times by a Sanskrit-speaking Vedic clan known as the Daityas. Danu and Merk were two leaders of that ancient clan of Daityas. It is those two names which are combined into the term Denmark. Count Biornstierna, himself a Scandinavian, is no doubt right in determining in his book The Theogony of the Hindus, “It appears that the Hindu settlers migrated to Scandinavia before the Mahabharata War.”
The ancient Vedas that the Kshatriyas followed were also transported to Scandinavia. Later they became the Eddas, which still remains the ancient-most scripture of the region. However, due to the discontinuation of the Vedic form of education, the content of the Eddas has all been changed from the ancient Sanskrit texts to the fairy tales of the local modern language. Nonetheless, close study reveals many similarities in the tales of the Eddas and Vedic and Puranic legends.
The Norse ballad about Sigfried, a hero who was born with a coat of horn, is the European relic of the story of Karna. He was born with an armor-plated body as described in the Mahabharata.
Similar to the Vedic time line, in the Norse region it is said that ancient peoples lived for hundreds of years. There was also a set of ages, or time periods, during which conditions would continue to deteriorate with increasing violence into a time called the knife and axe age. After this final age would be what is called Ragnarok, the period of annihilation. However, after this would be a time of restoration in which the world would return to a time of goodness. During the Ragnarok, the world would be destroyed by flames that come from a being named Surt. It is he who lives in an underworld, Hel. This is quite similar to the Vedic version (Bhagavatam 3.11.30) in which the world is destroyed by the flames that come from the mouth of Lord Sankarshana, who is an expansion of Lord Krishna and who is seated in the lower regions of the universe.
The Vedic gods and heroes are also the same as those found in Scandinavia, although different names may have been given to them in the Eddas. We find on page 27 of the footnote of Volume I of the text Aryatarangini: “Even today, the study of Sanskrit is a treasured objective among the Finns and the Lithuanians and the legendary gods of these people can be mostly identified with Vedic deities.”
With the Christian invasion of Europe, Olaf was the first Scandinavian king to be turned into a Christian. As soon as he was baptized, he let loose his army in 1030 CE to forcibly convert all other Scandinavians to Christianity. Thereafter, the Vedic gods of old were stigmatized and misrepresented as demons and devils.

LITHUANIA

Lithuania was one of the last Vedic countries to be converted to Catholicism. The kingdom of Lithuania (or Lietiva) at the time extended from the Baltic to the Black Sea and to the Urals in the East. The last of the pre-Christian rulers before Lithuania was forcibly taken over by Christianity was Grand Duke Gediminas of the 14th century. Although he defended his country against the force of the Christians, he had the wisdom to announce that the Pagans of Lithuania, Catholics, and Orthodox Christians all worshiped the same Supreme Being, although in different forms. Even though he had guaranteed religious freedom in Lithuania, his liberal attitude did little to help his country from being conquered by the Christians who then suppressed the native pagan religion. Of course, pagan in this instance refers to the ancient Vedic culture, or the remnants of it. In any case, it was only 50 years after Gediminas’ rule that Lithuania was taken by the Christian crusaders. The Lithuanian king at the time, Jogolia, married the Polish princess Jadvyaga and converted her to Catholicism. Then pagan temples were destroyed and Christian churches built in their place. The last pagan temple was closed in 1790.
That, however, did not bring a swift change in the people of Lithuania. Many of them held on to their pagan beliefs and rituals, much to the dismay of the church missionaries. After all, to the native people, the Christians were but foreign invaders. Even the Soviet occupation after World War II did not overpower the national pagan church–Romuva, which is again becoming popular these days. The church was kept alive through the 1980s, during the nation’s independence. Even today you can find the pagan rituals still being held with participants circling the fires singing Dainas, the Lithuanian Vedic chants. The name Dainas is linguistically connected to the Sanskrit word  dhyanam, which means meditation. So, these chants were and still are considered a way of meditation in the same way the Vedic chants have always been used. The fire goddess is still held in reverence, and her name is Gabija or Ugnis, related to the Sanskrit fire god Agni. Another similarity between the modern pagan rituals and Vedic culture is that the priest uses some of the ashes from the fire to smudge the third eye area on the forehead of the participants, as often done during the Vedic fire rituals.
The Lithuanian language was not Slavik but was based on Sanskrit. This is why there are so many Sanskritic words in the Lithuanian language. A short example can be seen in the words for God, day, and son, which are devas, dina, and sunu in Sanskrit, and dievas, diena, and sunus in Lithuanian. The numerals are also very similar. There is a large Sanskrit Department in the University of Vilnius. Since the language has changed less than others over the centuries, it clearly shows its linguistic link to its Vedic past.

GERMANY

The area of Germany has many points that relate to its connection with its primordial Vedic culture. In regard to names, the name “Prussia” is from “Pra-Russia.” Russia simply refers to the Sanskrit Rishiya, or a land of Rishis, and Prussia is an extension of the Rishi Country. Its other name, Deutschland, is a corruption of the Sanskrit term DaityaSthan, which refers to the land of the Daitya clan, or those born of Mother Diti and Kashyapa Muni. This is why Germany is called Deutschland. The term “Titan” is the European pronunciation of the Sanskrit word Daityan. The Dutch people of Holland also share in the same name of Daitya.
The name German is a corruption of the Sanskrit term Sharman, which is applicable to the Sanskrit scholars in Vedic terminology. You can find many Indian people with the surname of Sharma, which is in reference to this.
Other examples of Sanskrit words in German are easily found. In the German names like Heidelburg, “burg” signifies a fort. Heidelburg is the Sanskrit compound Haya-dal-durg meaning a fort garrisoned by a contingent of horses. Hindenburg is another such example, which simply means the fort of the Hindus.
The German word of thanks is Danke, a mispronunciation of the Sanskrit Dhanya, which is commonly used in India. The German suffix “maan” in names like Hermann and Hahnemann comes from the Sanskrit word Manav, meaning man. Hahnemann is also a derivative of the name Hanuman from the Ramayana.
We also find personal and place names that derive from the Vedic incarnation of Lord Rama, such as Ramstein, the site where the first American Pershing missile was located in November, 1983. “Stein” is similar to sthan, which means a spot or place.
Tacitus, an ancient Greek writer, has also testified to the ancient Hindu, Vedic culture in old Germany. Furthermore, Col. James Tod records on page 63 in Volume I of Annals and Antiquities of Rajasthan: “The first habit of the Germans upon rising was ablution, which must have been of Eastern origin and not of the cold climate of Germany, as also the loose flowing robes, the long and braided hair tied in a knot at the top of the head, so emblematic of the Brahmins.”
One of the more obvious signs of Vedic culture was the Swastika. The Swastika was found widely all over Europe as an important Vedic symbol in the pre-Christian era. The very term Swastika is Sanskrit meaning an emblem of well-being. It is a symbol of the sun and earth and cosmos in a dynamic whirl. It represents karma and action in consonance with the whirling cosmos. It also represents the divine energy which pervades the universe in the eight directions which are important in Vedic tradition.

PAGANISM IN CHRISTIANITY

The name pagan means a country man. The name heathen comes from the word heath, which is a common name for a variety of evergreen shrubs that live in swamps or along mountain slopes. Thus, the name heathen simply referred to those who lived in the country near such plants. Therefore, the use of the name heathen or pagan originally was not meant in a condescending way. To be a heathen or pagan simply meant that one followed those religions that existed prior to Christianity, or that he or she participated in the nature religions, which primarily meant demigod worship. So, paganism is simply a reference to following the old remnants of the Vedic Aryan culture. And people throughout pre-Christian Europe worshiped a variety of spirits and demigods, known by different names according to culture and region. The Romans and Greeks of that time also worshiped demigods. The sun-god, Mithra, was apparently considered the most exalted of the demigods. Even King Constantine (280-337 CE) was originally a devotee of the sun-god. His famous vision of the cross that he had while marching on Rome came to him from the sun. In fact, even after he was converted to Christianity, he remained a devotee of the sun-god, and because of that he continued to hold the Sabbath on Sunday, which traditionally was on Saturday.
According to Jewish tradition, the Sabbath was Saturday when God finished the creation and rested. So, Saturday is the seventh day and Sunday is the first. Therefore, the Seventh Day Adventists, in a kind of protest, changed the Sabbath back to the original day. So, even today the Sabbath is celebrated as a kind of pagan carry-over on the sun’s day. In this way, each day was set aside for different demigods, who are the presiding deities of different planets. Thus, Sunday is for the sun, Monday is for the moon, Tues is the Greek name for Mars, Wednesday is for Mercury, Thursday for Jupiter, Friday for Venus, and Saturday for Saturn.
Actually, Paul was the fanatic who took whatever was known of Jesus and, while misinterpreting Jesus’ teachings, made Jesus out to be the incarnation of God, the Messiah, that Jesus never wanted to be. As described in Mark (8.29-30), when Jesus asked his disciples who they thought he was, Peter said that he was the Christ. And Jesus charged them that they should tell no man of him. In fact, the term Christ was first used in relation to Jesus by Paul when Paul first started preaching in the city of Antioch. The name Christ was simply the Greek word for Messiah. It was not a person’s name.
Paul was the person who developed Christian theology and ritual and simply wrote in the Epistles his own ideas of Jesus while never referring to what Jesus actually said. Paul also put many threats into the philosophy of Christianity and created an image of a fearsome and jealous God rather than one that was merciful and loving. But, according to Paul’s version of Christianity, salvation was granted by God alone who would save you if you simply became a Christian because Christ had already died on the cross as a sacrifice for your sins. In this way, faith was all that was needed, and faith outweighed the need for good works. This may be a simple and comfortable concept for Christians but is not a true one and was never presented in the real teachings of Jesus. Jesus actually did emphasize the need for good works. So, what we really find in Christianity are the teachings of Paul, which in some areas have little to do with what Jesus actually taught.
Paul also accepted Sunday as the day of rest from Mithraism rather than Saturday, the seventh day as found in the Hebraic tradition. Paul also took Easter from Mithraism as the day Jesus rose from the grave. Mithra is said to have died in battle on a Friday and was buried in a rock tomb from which, after three days, he rose on the festive occasion of the spring equinox, called Eastra, the Latin word for Astarte, the earth mother goddess. Interestingly, the 40 days before the spring equinox corresponding to Lent was the period for searching for the renewal of life in that tradition. Furthermore, the celebration for the resurrection of the Greek god Adonis is said to have taken place as late as 386 CE in Judea at the same time as the Easter observance of Jesus’ resurrection. And the use of dyed Easter eggs was widely known by such people as the Egyptians and Persians who made presents of them, and by the Jews who used them in the Passover feast. These are some of the non-Christian traditions that became incorporated into the Christian Easter holiday and are still practiced today.
In regard to Jesus’ crucifixion, he is supposed to have died and descended into hell, and on the third day rose again. However, if we look at other cultures, many of which are far older than Christianity, this is hardly an isolated event. The Persian Zoroaster, the Egyptian Osiris, Horus, Adonis, Bacchus, Hercules, and the Scandinavian Baldur, and the Mexican Quetzalcoatl all are supposed to have spent three days in hell after their death and then rose again. All these persons also performed many miracles that can be compared to the ones Jesus performed.
When we consider the story of how baby Jesus appeared in the heart of Mary by immaculate conception, as well as the bright star appearing in the night sky, we can discern a direct parallel to Lord Krishna’s birth three thousand years earlier in Vrindavana, India, as recorded in the Vedic literature. It is described in the ancient Vedic texts how Krishna appeared in the mind of Vasudeva, Krishna’s father, and was then transferred into the heart of His mother, Devaki. During Krishna’s birth, the bright star Rohini was high in the sky, and the king at the time, Kamsa, actually ordered the killing of all the infants in an attempt to kill Krishna, similar to the way Herod was supposed to have done as described in the gospel of Matthew. And just as a multitude appeared among the shepherds in the hills praising God at the time of Jesus’ birth, there were also many demigods who came and danced and sang about the glories of Krishna when He was ready to appear in this world. Krishna was born in a cave-like dungeon, while Jesus was also born in a cave, although some say a manger in a barn. Rays of light illuminated the area after they had taken birth. While newly born, they both spoke of why they had come to this world. And as wise men were supposed to have presented Jesus with frankincense and myrrh, baby Krishna was also presented with gifts that included sandalwood and perfumes.
At the time when Krishna left this planet, His foot was pierced with an arrow, while Jesus’ side was pierced with a spear. There was a darkness that descended when Jesus is said to have been crucified, just as there was a darkness and many calamities taking place when Krishna left this world. And as there is a description of many ominous signs that are to signify the second coming of Christ, there are even more symptoms of the terrible age of Kali that we are going through that indicates the time before the coming of Krishna’s next avatara as Kalki. Many of these I have included in my book, The Vedic Prophecies. There are many other parallels that we could refer to that are disclosed in the Vedic texts, which were written many hundreds of years before the Bible. In this way, practically speaking, what we find in the Bible regarding Jesus’ birth is a description of the appearance of Lord Krishna, but only the names have been changed.

AMERICA

The traditions of the ancient Americans have numerous similarities with Vedic culture. In the legends of the Sioux Indians, there is the story of how their ancestors were visited by a celestial woman who gave them the religion they follow. She had explained that there are four ages that are symbolized by how a buffalo loses one leg during the advent of each age. This shows that with each age, conditions deteriorate. Presently, the buffalo has only one leg. This symbolism is directly in accordance with the Vedic version, which also shows a bull standing on one leg due to the decline in the age of Kali-yuga. Other tribes of the Indians of North America, especially the Hopi, also have descriptions of the four ages, or four worlds as they call them, that are similar to the deteriorating effects of the four ages in the Vedic tradition; namely Satya-yuga, Treta-yuga, Dvapara-yuga, and Kali-yuga. They also accepted the concepts of reincarnation, respect for nature, the nature spirits or demigods, etc., which are very similar to the concepts found in the Vedic philosophy. In Mexico, ancient paintings were found that showed heads of a rhinoceros, as well as paintings of a man with the head of an elephant, like Ganesh in India. And we all know that the rhinoceros and elephant are not animals found in the Americas.
Studies have concluded that similarities in Mayan, Aztec, Inca, and North American Indian civilizations have a strong connection with Indian Vedic Aryans and the Southeast Asian countries. For example, the Aztec and Mayan architecture of ancient Mexico and Central America is very similar to the Vedic buildings and temples and pyramids of Egypt. They shared many other things in the areas of customs, art motifs (such as the lotus flower found at Chichen Itza), time measurements, calenders, local gods, styles of dress, and, of course, in architecture, astronomy, and religious symbols. Similarities can be seen in sculptures of the native dress and solar symbolism, rituals of worship, systems of government, and in language and names. In fact, the name Argentina (meaning connected with silver) is related to the name of Arjuna (meaning of silver hue). Arjuna was one of Krishna’s closest devotees. Witnesses have also found Sanskrit letters carved in the stone on Sugarloaf Mountain in Brazil.
An obvious point about the Mayan connection with that of the Vedic is, for example, that the word Maya is from the Sanskrit language of India, which I will discuss more later. Deities of Ganesh, the same as in India, have been discovered in excavations in Central America and Mexico. Additional Vedic deities that were found by archeologists in ancient America include those of Shiva, Kali, and the sun, though they may have been in slightly varied forms. And forms of Buddha had been found in the jungles of Honduras by Professor F. W. Putnam.
The physical and facial characteristics of the people of Mexico are also similar to the people of northeast India. Even the traditional songs of the Mexican people contain similar sentiments of those of India, such as when a mother bids her newly married daughter farewell. Mexican women’s clothes still resemble the long dress and short blouse like an East Indian sari and choli. Women still prepare flat bread made from corn flour like the Indian chapati made from wheat flour.
The remnants of great cities with roads, water tanks, canals, forts, etc., found in South America leads one to accept the fact that it must have been quite a developed civilization. Due to the traces of Vedic architectural design, city planning, mythology, and images of worship found in this area, many researchers consider that this society was originally developed in India. For example, in the book The Conquest of the Maya (published by Jarrold’s in England), J. Leslie Mitchell explains that the basis of the old Maya empire was not the work of the ancestors of the present day Maya, but was an import from the same foreigners that built the palaces and temples of the Chams and Khmers in Cambodia, and the temples in Java. He also points out the similarities between the Maya rain-god Chac and the Vedic Indian Indra, and the Maya monkey-god and the Vedic Hanuman. The Vedic origin is further enhanced by the frequency that the elephant motif is found in Maya art, especially the earlier works of the Maya, such as at Copan, although the elephant never existed in the region. Mr. Pococke also says in this regard: “The Peruvians and their ancestors, the Indians, are in this point of view at once seen to be the same people.”
One reason for these similarities between the Americas and India is that in ancient Vedic times there were two great architects, Visvakarma of the demigods or Aryans, and Maya of the asuras. The Mayan people, also known as technicians, were no doubt named as such because of being connected with this person named Maya, or Mayasura and Maya Danava. They were a part of his clan or tribe. They had fallen away from the Vedic way of life and were sent or escaped to the region of Central America. They also carried with them much of the science of astronomy and navigation for which this Mayasura was known. This will become more apparent as we proceed through this chapter.
Mayasura’s knowledge is more fully explained in the classic work of Indian Vedic astronomy known as the Surya Siddhanta for which he is given credit. Many people have wondered from where the Mayans acquired their astronomical knowledge. This would explain how the Mayan people had such a high degree of understanding in astronomy, from which they also developed their calendar. The Mayan calendar was a science they had long developed, carrying it with them from their previous location and civilization. Incidentally, for them, the end of the world, or the way we have known it, is calculated as December 23, 2012. Thus, the calendar was not merely a record of time, but also a prediction of social changes.
Another strange but interesting link between the Peruvians and the Vedic culture is explained by Henry Gilman in his book Ancient Man in Michigan. The Peruvians, among other societies, such as the Mound Builders, Neolithic people of France and the Canary Islands, would bore a small hole in the top of the skulls of the dead so the soul might easily pass out. This is a Vedic understanding that is common among yogis, Tibetans, and others that if the soul passes out of the body through the head, especially the top, then it is a sign of a higher birth in the next life. Boring a hole would be a mechanical means of trying to guarantee this result.
This is just an introduction to recognizing Vedic culture and its influence in many parts of the world. You can find much more information in my book, “Proof of Vedic Culture’s Global Existence,” as well as “Advancements of Ancient India’s Vedic Culture,” and the very elaborate “Mysteries of the Ancient Vedic Empire: Recognizing Vedic Contributions to Other Cultures Around the World.”
Thank you very much.

Sri Rama Navami
→ Ramai Swami

A long time ago, there lived a king named Dasharath of the Iksvaku dynasty who ruled the kingdom from the beautiful city of Ayodhya, on the banks of river Sarayu. He was a generous and intelligent king loved by his people. He had three wives Kausalya, Kaikeyi and Sumitra. But he had one sorrow; he had no children which made him always worried and sad.

One day the king called his priest, Vashishta and conveyed his sorrow. Vashishta said that he would have four sons soon and advised him to perform an Ashvamedha Yajna under the guidance of Rishya-shringa, who was the son-in-law of King Romapada. 

Dasharath and his ministers started all the arrangements for the Vedic ritual and the city of Ayodhya was decorated grandly.

The eminent Rishya-shringa arrived to perform the Vedic ritual and many prominent scholars were invited for the ceremony. Under his guidance, Dasharath followed all the rituals earnestly to perform the sacrifice. 

At the end of the sacred ritual, a divine being arose from the sacrificial fire holding a vessel of divine nectar in his hands. He handed over this vessel to Dasharath and instructed him to distribute the nectar among his wives. Dasharath gave half to Kausalya, one fourth to Sumitra and one eighth to Kaikeyi. However, there still was some left so he gave it again to Sumitra. Soon all his wives conceived.

In the month of Chaitra, a day which was neither hot nor cool, winds blew softly and the forests were full of beautiful blossoms. The rivers flowed swiftly and sang with joy. The sun, moon and stars gracefully waited while Queen Kausalya gave birth to a son, later named as Rama, with all divine attributes. There were no words for her as she gazed at his magnificent beauty. King Dasharath was very happy and overjoyed with the birth of his elder son.

The news spread all over the city and everyone began to celebrate the arrival of their future king, Rama. The king distributed gifts to his citizens happily.

Soon later, Queen Kaikeyi gave birth to Bharata and Queen Sumitra to twins, Lakshmana and Satrughna. The birth day of Rama is now celebrated as Rama Navami, which falls on the ninth day in the month of Chaitra.

Virtual Rama Navami Celebrations Tonight
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Today (April 2nd) is Rama Navami, the appearance of Lord Rama. Lord Rama is an incarnation of Krishna who appeared in Ayodhya (in current day Uttar Pradesh, India) as the son of King Dasaratha. During Lord Rama’s reign, all the citizens were happy, religious and their necessities of life were provided for. He was a virtuous, charitable and dutiful King. He is particularly known for his victorious battle with the ten-headed demon Ravana, the evil King of Lanka thereby freeing his wife Sita from the demon’s captivity. Through his life, he exemplified heroism, morality and good governance.

Due to COVID19 precautions the Temple remains closed to the public (CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION), as such we will be hosting special virtual celebrations.

Celebrations will conclude tonight when HH Bhaktimarga Swami will give a special Class from 6:30pm - 7:30pm EST. This live class will be broadcast on our Facebook Page "ISKCON Toronto: The Hare Krishna Centre".


To set the mood for this festival from March 30th to April 1st. We hosted dramatic readings from  "RAMAYANA, INDIA'S IMMORTAL TALE OF ADVENTURE, LOVE, AND WISDOM". These readings were facilitated by HH Bhaktimarga Swami and broadcast on our Facebook Page "ISKCON Toronto: The Hare Krishna Centre". Recordings are available here: http://iskcontoronto.blogspot.com/2020/03/rama-navami-online-reaadings.html

Additionally our Krishna Funschool has conducted some virtual activities for children, more information can be found here: http://iskcontoronto.blogspot.com/2020/03/rama-navami-entries-childrens-creations.html



Only a spark of Lord Rama’s total splendour
→ KKSBlog

(Kadamba Kanana Swami, 14 April 2008, Bhaktivedanta Manor, United Kingdom, Rama Navami Lecture)

In the Srimad Bhagavatam, Lord Rama at one point is compared to a baby elephant, however, this is not disrespectful. Rather, the comparison was made to show how young Lord Rama was at the time of Sitadevi’s swayamvara, yet he was so inconceivably powerful. While it took 300 strong men to barely lift that bow, a young Lord Rama just strings the bow effortlessly to the point that He pulled it so far back that the bow broke. So in this way, Lord Ramachandra showed with how much ease he could do such a thing. This is just like when a young Lord Krsna lifted Govardhana Hill with complete ease on the little finger of his left hand. So in this way, the Lord shows that such supernatural feats are actually not that great for Him, as He is only showing a spark of His total splendour through such pastimes. We only see a portion of His opulence, but the power of the Supreme Lord is so much greater.

Sitadevi was the perfect match for the Supreme Lord. She was the Goddess of Fortune after all. It is said that Sitadevi is equally endowed and had all the right attributes (the right age, the right beauty, the right behaviour and all the right qualities) to be a befitting partner to Lord Ramachandra. We, on the contrary, are suffering the reactions of our sinful activities and can never be endowed with such perfect qualities; we have to go through a lifetime of frustration of not having the right attributes. Why? Because we are conditioned souls. But Sitadevi, being Lakshmidevi herself, was by no means limited by the material energy. Therefore, we cannot consider the actions of Sitadevi to be the actions of an ordinary person.

When Sita and Rama were banished to the forest, an outstanding quality of the Lord strikes out – how transcendentally He takes all the circumstances of His life. His father was on his death bed, the whole kingdom was crying and everyone was destroyed when they found out that Rama was banished to the forest the day before His coronation. But amidst all this, Rama was happy to follow His father’s instructions, and that is something really extraordinary, how the Lord takes up such a task despite it being so unfavourable and unjust to Him. This is because He was completely detached!

The article " Only a spark of Lord Rama’s total splendour " was published on KKSBlog.

Sri Rama-navami
Giriraj Swami

We read from Srimad-Bhagavatam, Canto Two, Chapter Seven: “Scheduled Incarnations.”

TEXT 23

asmat-prasada-sumukhah kalaya kalesa
  iksvaku-vamsa avatirya guror nidese
tisthan vanam sa-dayitanuja avivesa
  yasmin virudhya dasa-kandhara artim arcchat

TRANSLATION

Due to His causeless mercy upon all living entities within the universe, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, along with His plenary extensions, appeared in the family of Maharaja Iksvaku as the Lord of His internal potency, Sita. Under the order of His father, Maharaja Dasaratha, He entered the forest and lived there for considerable years with His wife and younger brother. Ravana, who was very materially powerful, with ten heads on his shoulders, committed a great offense against Him and was thus ultimately vanquished.

PURPORT by Srila Prabhupada

Lord Rama is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and His brothers, namely Bharata, Laksmana, and Satrughna, are His plenary expansions. All four brothers are visnu-tattva and were never ordinary human beings. There are many unscrupulous and ignorant commentators on Ramayana who present the younger brothers of Lord Ramacandra as ordinary living entities. But here in the Srimad-Bhagavatam, the most authentic scripture on the science of Godhead, it is clearly stated that His brothers were His plenary expansions. Originally Lord Ramacandra is the incarnation of Vasudeva, Laksmana is the incarnation of Sankarsana, Bharata is the incarnation of Pradyumna, and Satrughna is the incarnation of Aniruddha, expansions of the Personality of Godhead. Laksmiji Sita is the internal potency of the Lord and is neither an ordinary woman nor the external potency incarnation of Durga. Durga is the external potency of the Lord, and she is associated with Lord Siva.

As stated in the Bhagavad-gita (4.7), the Lord appears when there are discrepancies in the discharge of factual religion. Lord Ramacandra also appeared under the same circumstances, accompanied by His brothers, who are expansions of the Lord’s internal potency, and by Laksmiji Sitadevi.

Lord Ramacandra was ordered by His father, Maharaja Dasaratha, to leave home for the forest under awkward circumstances, and the Lord, as the ideal son of His father, carried out the order, even on the occasion of His being declared the king of Ayodhya. One of His younger brothers, Laksmanaji, desired to go with Him, and so also His eternal wife, Sitaji, desired to go with Him. The Lord agreed to both of them, and all together they entered the Dandakaranya Forest, to live there for fourteen years. During their stay in the forest, there was some quarrel between Ramacandra and Ravana, and the latter kidnapped the Lord’s wife, Sita. The quarrel ended in the vanquishing of the greatly powerful Ravana, along with all his kingdom and family.

Sita is Laksmiji, or the goddess of fortune, but she is never to be enjoyed by any living being. She is meant for being worshiped by the living being along with her husband, Sri Ramacandra. A materialistic man like Ravana does not understand this great truth, but on the contrary he wants to snatch Sitadevi from the custody of Rama and thus incurs great miseries. The materialists, who are after opulence and material prosperity, may take lessons from the Ramayana that the policy of exploiting the nature of the Lord without acknowledging the supremacy of the Supreme Lord is the policy of Ravana. Ravana was very advanced materially, so much so that he turned his kingdom, Lanka, into pure gold, or full material wealth. But because he did not recognize the supremacy of Lord Ramacandra and defied Him by stealing His wife, Sita, Ravana was killed, and all his opulence and power were destroyed.

Lord Ramacandra is a full incarnation with six opulences in full, and He is therefore mentioned in this verse as kalesah, or master of all opulence.

COMMENT by Giriraj Swami

Srimad-Bhagavatam is the supreme scripture, or book of knowledge, in the science of God. It explains the Absolute Truth in detail. The Vedanta-sutra says, janmady asya yatah, that the Absolute Truth is that from which everything emanates, and Srimad-Bhagavatam begins with the same words—janmady asya yatah—and proceeds to explain that the Absolute Truth is a person, the Supreme Person, Krishna. Krishna expands Himself into various plenary portions and portions of plenary portions, and the Bhagavatam, after listing so many incarnations of Godhead, says, krsnas tu bhagavan svayam, that all of the abovementioned incarnations are either plenary portions or portions of the plenary portions of the Lord but that Lord Krishna is the original Supreme Personality of Godhead.

So Lord Rama is an expansion of Krishna. There are so many expansions of Krishna mentioned in Srimad-Bhagavatam, but Rama is an expansion of Vasudeva, who is an expansion of Krishna. Laksmana is an expansion of Balarama, who is the first expansion of Krishna. Bharata and Satrughna are also direct expansions in the category of visnu-tattva. They are all God but manifest in different forms. Sri Brahma-samhita gives the example that from one candle you can light a second, from the second you can light a third, from the third you can light a fourth, and so on. All the flames are the same fire, and all have the same strength, but still, there is one original candle, and that is Krishna. Still, Rama, Laksmana, Bharata, and Satrughna are all God. They are all the same as Krishna, but they descend into the world for different pastimes. The verse says, avatirya. Avatara means “one who descends.” They descend from the spiritual world into the material world out of mercy—prasada—for the conditioned souls, to deliver the conditioned souls from the quagmire of material existence.

All of us here, from Lord Brahma to the insignificant ant, have somehow or other fallen into the material world and thus are forced to suffer. We are being attacked at every moment by some sort of misery, big or small, gross or subtle. Certain major sufferings, major miseries, afflict all of us, and they are mentioned in the Bhagavad-gita: janma-mrtyu-jara-vyadhi—birth, death, old age, and disease. None of us wants these miseries, but they are forced upon us. Once we come into the material world and accept a material body, we are forced to suffer repeated birth, disease, old age, and death—and rebirth.

As explained in the Vedic literature, the purpose of life is to become free from this repetition of birth and death. And the way to become free is to become God conscious, Krishna conscious. In the Bhagavad-gita Lord Krishna says, yam yam vapi smaran bhavam, that in whatever state one leaves one’s physical body, one attains the same state in the next life.

yam yam vapi smaran bhavam
  tyajaty ante kalevaram
tam tam evaiti kaunteya
  sada tad-bhava-bhavitah

“Whatever state of being one remembers when he quits his body, O son of Kunti, that state he will attain without fail.” (Gita 8.6) The Bhagavad-gita further states that if one thinks of Krishna at the time of death, one will go to Krishna—back home, back to Godhead.

anta-kale ca mam eva
  smaran muktva kalevaram
yah prayati sa mad-bhavam
  yati nasty atra samsayah

“And whoever, at the end of his life, quits his body remembering Me alone at once attains My nature. Of this there is no doubt.” (Gita 8.5)

The Lord descends into the material world to show us who He is. Everyone speculates about God. They know that God is the oldest, so sometimes they imagine that He must be an old man with a beard and gray hair. They know that God is the ruler of the universe, so they imagine that He must sit on a throne. Therefore God Himself descends into the material world to show us who He is, and He does so in His original form as Krishna as well as in the form of Lord Ramachandra, who has the same, full potency as Krishna. Thus Ramachandra is described here as kalesa; He is full in all opulence. The Lord displays His pastimes to attract the fallen, conditioned souls to Him to engage in His service. The pastimes of Krishna and those of Rama are very attractive.

The history of Lord Rama, summarized in Srimad-Bhagavatam and elaborated on in the Ramayana (in particular, we accept the authoritative version of the Ramayana by Valmiki), has existed for thousands of years, and people still read it, hear it, recite it, and stage dramatic performances of it. It is ever fresh, as the Lord is ever fresh. We never tire of hearing the pastimes of the Lord. The ordinary news of the conditioned souls is not so attractive or fresh. Once, when a newspaper reporter from The New York Times came to meet Srila Prabhupada, Srila Prabhupada held up the Bhagavad-gita (it could just as well have been Srimad-Bhagavatam) and said, “Every day your employer prints so many newspapers. Especially on Sunday, the paper is so big that one can hardly carry it. But after reading it an hour, people throw it away. Here is the Bhagavad-gita. People keep it and read it for a lifetime, and in this way it has been read for the past five thousand years.” And the newspaper reporter acknowledged the truth of what Srila Prabhupada had said.

So, these descriptions of the pastimes of the Lord are ever fresh. We relish them year after year. We relish them day after day, moment by moment. The pastimes of Lord Ramachandra and Lord Krishna can be discussed eternally, and to cover even the basic history would take many days and hours, so in the limited time we have today we can’t really discuss in detail. But I will comment on this one point that is mentioned in the verse, that the great demon Ravana, who was very materially powerful, kidnapped Sita and that in the end he was killed by Lord Ramachandra and his entire dynasty and opulence were destroyed.

Sita is the energy of the Lord. In fact, everything we see is the energy of the Lord. In the Bhagavad-gita Lord Krishna says that He has two energies—the spiritual energy, which includes the living entities, and the material energy, which we experience as earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind, intelligence, and ego.

bhumir apo ’nalo vayuh
  kham mano buddhir eva ca
ahankara itiyam me
  bhinna prakrtir astadha

“Earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind, intelligence, and false ego—all together these eight constitute My separated material energies.

apareyam itas tv anyam
  prakrtim viddhi me param
jiva-bhutam maha-baho
  yayedam dharyate jagat

“Besides these, O mighty-armed Arjuna, there is another, superior energy of Mine, which comprises the living entities who are exploiting the resources of this material, inferior nature.” (Gita 7.4–5)

Basically, whatever we see is the energy of the Lord—either the material energy or a combination of the material and spiritual energies. The Lord Himself is fully spiritual (sac-cid-ananda-vigrahah). But until our senses are completely purified and spiritualized, we cannot see Him in His original form. What we can see is the Lord’s energy, which is His property and is meant to be engaged in His service. If you go into someone’s house, whatever is there is meant for the pleasure of the proprietor of the house. Of course, if the proprietor is a devotee, he knows that Krishna is the true proprietor and therefore everything is meant for His pleasure. But in any case, you can’t take the property for yourself or use it for yourself—at least not without permission.

Sita is the internal potency of the Lord, His pleasure potency, and Ravana made the grave mistake of coveting her, lusting after her, to the extent that he abducted her, which was a great insult to not only her chastity but also the dynasty of Lord Ramachandra.

It is a long story, but ultimately Lord Rama, who on the order of His father was in exile in the forest, gathered together a band of monkeys and bears who marched on Lanka armed basically with trees and boulders; they didn’t have any other weapons. And Ravana had a massive army with very sophisticated weapons. When Rama and His forces reached the southern tip of India, they had to cross the ocean to reach Lanka. And at that stage Rama glanced over Lanka with red-hot angry eyes, as described in the next verse:

yasma adad udadhir udha-bhayanga-vepo
  margam sapady ari-puram haravad didhaksoh
dure suhrn-mathita-rosa-susona-drstya
  tatapyamana-makaroraga-nakra-cakrah

“The Personality of Godhead Ramacandra, being aggrieved for His distant intimate friend [Sita], glanced over the city of the enemy Ravana with red-hot eyes like those of Hara [who wanted to burn the kingdom of heaven]. The great ocean, trembling in fear, gave Him His way because its family members, the aquatics like the sharks, snakes, and crocodiles, were being burnt by the heat of the angry red-hot eyes of the Lord.” (SB 2.7.24)

There at the ocean a small incident took place that is very instructive in terms of bhakti. After Rama cast His glance, the ocean personified came before the Lord and said, “You may use my water as You like. Indeed, You may cross it and go to the abode of Ravana, who is a great source of disturbance. Please go kill him and regain Your wife, Sita. Please construct a bridge over my waters and spread Your transcendental fame.” So Lord Rama’s soldiers, chanting Rama’s name, started to hurl into the ocean great stones, all of which floated, and thus they constructed a bridge over which Rama and His army could pass. There at the shore a small squirrel was putting little grains of sand in the ocean, to contribute to the effort, and Hanuman, the mighty servant of Rama, chastised the squirrel, “What are you accomplishing with your little grains of sand? Can’t you see that I am throwing these huge boulders? Get out of my way.” And the squirrel replied, “But I want to serve Lord Rama too.”

Lord Rama overheard this exchange and rebuked Hanuman: “This squirrel wants to serve Me, just like you. And he is serving to his capacity, just as you are. So in My eyes you both are the same. And besides, I am the one who is making all the boulders float. Ultimately, I am the one who is doing everything.”

This is a very instructive point. The qualification to engage in devotional service is simply one’s sincere desire. One’s material qualifications don’t matter. The Lord does not require anyone’s service; He just wants to see our mood of devotion. If one has the sincere desire to serve, that’s enough. Whether one is an insignificant ant or spider or squirrel—or a great monkey like Hanuman, a powerful human being, or Lord Brahma himself—what the Lord sees is the living entity’s sincere desire to serve. That is what He considers—whether we are sincerely serving to our full capacity—however great or small that capacity may be. It is said that the Lord sees not what we give but what we hold back. If a poor man can afford only ten dollars and he gives ten dollars, the Lord will see that he has given to his capacity. And if a rich man can afford ten million but gives ten thousand, the Lord will see, “Oh, he gave Me ten thousand, but he is keeping 9,990,000 for himself.”

The essence of bhakti is the desire to serve the Lord fully, to one’s capacity, and the opposite of bhakti is the desire to exploit the Lord or the Lord’s energy, as exemplified by Ravana. He didn’t want to serve the Lord. He wanted to steal the Lord’s energy, to enjoy the Lord’s property, in opposition to the Lord, in defiance of the Lord, and that is demonic.

Sita, the Lord’s energy, is Lakshmi, who is associated with wealth, opulence, good fortune. Generally, conditioned souls, who are materialistic, want Lakshmi—they want to engage Lakshmi in their service. But Lakshmi is meant to be engaged in the service of her husband, the Lord, Narayana. As devotees, we worship the Lord and His energy together as the complete whole—as Radha-Krishna, Sita-Rama, Lakshmi-Narayana, Lakshmi-Nrsimha—and that satisfies both the Lord and us. But if we, like Ravana, try to enjoy the Lord’s energy independent of the Lord, we will never be satisfied, and in the end we will be vanquished and all that we have will be lost.

The pastimes of the Lord are not mythological stories. They are factual—recorded in authentic books such as the Ramayana and Srimad-Bhagavatam—not imaginary or merely symbolic. Although there are lessons to be learned from the pastimes, the persons and events are real. Rama is real, Sita is real, Laksmana is real, Hanuman is real, Ravana is real, Lanka is real—they are all real. And we can learn from these historical accounts. In ordinary affairs, people say that the only thing we learn from history is that people learn nothing from history—and that may be true in material society, where people don’t learn. But in the association of devotees we can learn and improve. By hearing the pastimes of the Lord, we can learn that the Lord’s energy is meant to be engaged in the Lord’s service. We can learn from the example of Hanuman, who jumped over the ocean to Lanka to find Sita and discovered her in an asoka grove. His purpose was not to exploit her, enjoy her, or keep her for himself. His purpose was to find her for the sake of Rama, so that she could be reunited with Him to serve and please Him. The Lord’s energy is meant to be engaged in the Lord’s service.

Once, a devotee told me that Srila Prabhupada had said that all of our service here in the material world is meant to bring Radha and Krishna together in the spiritual world. I wasn’t sure about that statement, so I asked Srila Prabhupada, and he replied that materialists are like Ravana and that they have kidnapped Sita, or Lakshmi. And that we, as devotees, act as Hanuman to get Lakshmi back from Ravana and return her to Rama, or Narayana, by engaging the materialists’ money in the service of the Lord. Of course, Rama is an expansion of Krishna, and Sita, or Lakshmi, is an expansion of Radha. Transcendentally, accepting money from the materialists and engaging it in the Lord’s service is reuniting Radha and Krishna.

Especially in Kali-yuga, everyone has these two tendencies—to serve the Lord and engage the Lord’s energy in the Lord’s service, and to exploit and try to possess the Lord’s energy and enjoy it for ourselves. The process of bhakti-yoga is meant to purify the consciousness, so that the Ravana-like tendency to exploit and enjoy slackens and the devotional tendency to serve becomes more prominent. And the way to purify our hearts, especially in the present age of Kali, is to chant the holy names of the Lord.

The Personality of Godhead appears in different ages. As Krishna says in the Bhagavad-gita (4.8),

paritranaya sadhunam
  vinasaya ca duskrtam
dharma-samsthapanarthaya
  sambhavami yuge yuge

“To deliver the pious and to annihilate the miscreants, as well as to reestablish the principles of religion, I Myself appear, millennium after millennium.” He says, paritranaya sadhunam: to deliver the devotees, vinasaya ca duskrtam: to destroy the miscreants, and dharma-samsthapanarthaya: to establish the principles of religion, sambhavami yuge yuge: I appear in every millennium. Yuge yuge means “in every age, or millennium.” In Treta-yuga He appeared as Lord Rama, some two million years ago. In Dvapara-yuga He appeared as Lord Krishna, some five thousand years ago. And yuge yuge suggests that He also appears in Kali-yuga; in Kali-yuga He appeared as Sri Krishna Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.

krsna-varnam tvisakrsnam
  sangopangastra-parsadam
yajnaih sankirtana-prayair
  yajanti hi su-medhasah

“In the age of Kali, intelligent persons perform congregational chanting to worship the incarnation of Godhead who constantly sings the names of Krsna. Although His complexion is not blackish, He is Krsna Himself. He is accompanied by His associates, servants, weapons, and confidential companions.” (SB 11.5.32) Krsna-varnam means that He is in the same category as Krishna, which means that He is Krishna—because no one else can be in the same category as Krishna other than Krishna—and is always singing the glories of Krishna. Still, tvisakrsnam: His color is not blackish like Krishna’s in Dvapara-yuga; as described in sastra, it is golden. Sangopangastra-parsadam: He is accompanied by His associates. Every incarnation descends with eternal associates—Rama with Sita, Laksmana, Bharata, Satrughna, and others; Krishna with Nanda, Yasoda, Balarama, Radharani, and others; and Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu with Nityananda Prabhu and others. Yajnaih sankirtana-prayair: in Kali-yuga intelligent people (su-medhasah), people who have good intelligence, will worship (yajanti) the Lord by sankirtana-yajna, by the chanting of the holy names of the Lord. And that is the method by which the heart is cleansed (ceto-darpana-marjanam), the demonic mentality of Ravana is vanquished, and the devotional mood of Sita, Laksmana, Bharata, Satrughna, Hanuman, and others—even the squirrel—is manifest.

nitya-siddha krsna-prema ‘sadhya’ kabhu naya
sravanadi-suddha-citte karaye udaya

“Pure love for Krsna is eternally established in the hearts of the living entities. It is not something to be gained from another source. When the heart is purified by hearing and chanting, this love naturally awakens.” (Cc Madhya 22.107) Nitya-siddha krsna-prema—pure love of Godhead exists eternally within the heart. ‘Sadhya’ kabhu naya—it is not to be gotten from any other source. Sravanadi-suddha-citte—by hearing and chanting the glories of the Lord our consciousness is purified, and karaye udaya—that eternal love is awakened.

This is our goal. By hearing the pastimes of Rama, the pastimes of Krishna, our love for Them awakens. When we chant the maha-mantra—Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare—our love for Radha-Krishna, Sita-Rama, and Gaura-Nitai awakens. That is Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s mercy.

Two full chapters in the Ninth Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam are devoted to summarizing the Ramayana. Srila Prabhupada remarks that everyone wants Rama-rajya, the ideal kingdom that existed during the reign of Lord Ramachandra. Lord Rama cared for the citizens exactly like a father, and the citizens, accepting Him as their father, loved and obeyed Him. Although He became king during Treta-yuga, because of His good government the age was like Satya-yuga, and everyone was fully religious and happy. Srila Prabhupada states that the same conditions can be evoked now by the chanting of the Lord’s holy names, which have been made available to us by Lord Chaitanya—by Lord Ramachandra, who has so kindly appeared in the present age as Chaitanya-chandra.

“If people take to this sankirtana movement of chanting Hare Krsna, Hare Rama, they will certainly be freed from the contamination of Kali-yuga, and the people of this age will be happy, as people were in Satya-yuga, the golden age. Anyone, anywhere, can easily take to this Hare Krsna movement; one need only chant the Hare Krsna maha-mantra, observe the rules and regulations, and stay free from the contamination of sinful life. Even if one is sinful and cannot give up sinful life immediately, if he chants the Hare Krsna maha-mantra with devotion and faith he will certainly be freed from all sinful activities, and his life will be successful. Param vijayate sri-krsna-sankirtanam. This is the blessing of Lord Ramacandra, who has appeared in this age of Kali as Lord Gaurasundara.” (SB 9.10.51 purport)

We should take advantage of the mercy of the Lord. Out of His causeless mercy upon all living entities (asmat-prasada) He appears in every age (yuge yuge)—as Rama, as Krishna, and in the present age as Krishna Chaitanya. And we should take advantage of the special mercy that They give us in the form of the sankirtana movement, which teaches people to engage in the chanting of the Hare Krishna maha-mantra and in the entire process of devotional service (bhakti-yoga). Lord Krishna gave the preliminary instructions in the science of God, the science of bhakti-yoga, in the Bhagavad-gita; Lord Chaitanya and His followers, especially the Six Gosvamis, explained the science elaborately; and Srila Prabhupada has presented it to us in a way that we can very easily follow, to cleanse our hearts and awaken our love for God. But those little Ravana-like demons in our hearts keep telling us, “You can enjoy. Why should Krishna have all the fun?” Of course, we want to enjoy—that is natural. The Absolute Truth, Krishna, is by nature full of pleasure (ananda-mayo ’bhyasat), and we, as His parts and parcels, are also meant for pleasure. But we cannot enjoy real, eternal pleasure based on these dead bodies, these bags of blood and stool and other such things. We, as spirit souls, can enjoy true pleasure, ananda, on the spiritual platform, in relationship to the Supreme Soul, in the spiritual energy, in the spiritual world.

The Lord doesn’t want us to suffer. He wants us to be happy, but He knows that we can be truly happy only in relation to Him. Therefore He comes—as the ideal king as Lord Rama, in His original form as Krishna, and most recently in His devotional form as Krishna Chaitanya—to show us the way. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu with Nityananda Prabhu came especially to give us this method of chanting Hare Krishna and dancing, hearing the pastimes of the Lord (krsna-katha), worshipping the Deity, and taking krsna-prasada. And this method, as described by one great devotee, is kevala ananda-kanda: simply joyful—just chanting, dancing, hearing about Krishna and His incarnations, and taking prasada.

So we should take advantage of this wonderful opportunity that has been given to us by Lord Rama, who has appeared as Lord Gaurasundara, and which has been presented to us in the most pleasant and accessible way by His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada. Even the smallest effort—by anyone—can bring the greatest result, as demonstrated in the pastimes of Lord Ramachandra. He engaged even monkeys and other creatures of the forest in His service, and in the end He took all the residents of Ayodhya back home, back to Godhead.

na janma nunam mahato na saubhagam
  na van na buddhir nakrtis tosa-hetuh
tair yad visrstan api no vanaukasas
  cakara sakhye bata laksmanagrajah

[Sri Hanuman says:] “One cannot establish a friendship with the Supreme Lord Ramacandra on the basis of material qualities such as one’s birth in an aristocratic family, one’s personal beauty, one’s eloquence, one’s sharp intelligence, or one’s superior race or nation. None of these qualifications is actually a prerequisite for friendship with Lord Sri Ramacandra. Otherwise how is it possible that although we uncivilized inhabitants of the forest have not taken noble births, although we have no physical beauty, and although we cannot speak like gentlemen, Lord Ramacandra has nevertheless accepted us as friends?

suro ’suro vapy atha vanaro narah
  sarvatmana yah sukrtajnam uttamam
bhajeta ramam manujakrtim harim
  ya uttaran anayat kosalan divam iti

“Therefore, whether one is a demigod or a demon, a man or a creature other than man, such as a beast or bird, everyone should worship Lord Ramacandra, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who appears on this earth just like a human being. There is no need of great austerities or penances to worship the Lord, for He accepts even a small service offered by His devotee. Thus He is satisfied, and as soon as He is satisfied, the devotee is successful. Indeed, Lord Sri Ramacandra brought all the devotees of Ayodhya back home, back to Godhead.” (SB 5.19.7–8)

Thank you very much.

Guest: I have heard that Lord Rama is green. Do you know anything about how can someone be green?

Giriraj Swami: The Lord’s body is spiritual—sac-cid-ananda-vigraha. Although the scriptures describe the Lord and the spiritual world in terms that correspond to our experience in this world, the reality of the Lord is different from anything we have ever experienced here. Lord Rama is greenish, but His complexion is not a material green as we see in this world but a spiritual hue from which the material color green comes.

Madhusudana dasa: Lord Rama is described as being the color of freshly sprouted grass.

Devotee: How long does it take for a soul to be transferred to another body?

Giriraj Swami: As soon as the next body is ready, one leaves the present body, just as when one’s next step is secure, one gives up the last one.

vrajams tisthan padaikena
  yathaivaikena gacchati
yatha trna-jalaukaivam
  dehi karma-gatim gatah

“Just as a person traveling on the road rests one foot on the ground and then lifts the other, or as a worm on a vegetable transfers itself to one leaf and then gives up the previous one, the conditioned soul takes shelter of another body and then gives up the one he had before.” (SB 10.1.40)

Devotee: So it varies between each body?

Giriraj Swami: When the next body is ready, one leaves the present body, but depending on the type of body, one may take less or more time to be born. The period of gestation may vary. For example, in the case of a human being, after the soul is placed in the womb of the mother through the semen of the father, it takes nine or ten months for the embryo to grow and develop to the stage when the entity is ready to come out of the womb and be viable. That period will vary according to the species.

Of course, our actual goal is to become free from the repetition of birth and death. And the main process by which we can attain liberation, especially in the present age of Kali, is to chant the holy names:

kaler dosa-nidhe rajann
  asti hy eko mahan gunah
kirtanad eva krsnasya
  mukta-sangah param vrajet

“My dear king, although Kali-yuga is an ocean of faults, there is still one good quality about this age: simply by chanting the Hare Krsna maha-mantra, one can become free from material bondage and be promoted to the transcendental kingdom.” (SB 12.3.51)

As mentioned, the chanting cleanses the dirty things from the mirror of the mind, or heart:

ceto-darpana-marjanam bhava-maha-davagni-nirvapanam
  sreyah-kairava-candrika-vitaranam vidya-vadhu-jivanam
anandambudhi-vardhanam prati-padam purnamrtasvadanam
  sarvatma-snapanam param vijayate sri-krsna-sankirtanam

“Let there be all victory for the chanting of the holy name of Lord Krsna, which can cleanse the mirror of the heart and stop the miseries of the blazing fire of material existence. That chanting is the waxing moon that spreads the white lotus of good fortune for all living entities. It is the life and soul of all education. The chanting of the holy name of Krsna expands the blissful ocean of transcendental life. It gives a cooling effect to everyone and enables one to taste full nectar at every step.” (Siksastaka 1)

The first of the dirty things within the heart is false identification with the body. That is the first misconception; we think, “I am this body, and everything in relation to this body is mine—to enjoy.” And whatever we do that follows from the premise that “I am the body” takes us further and further from the goal. Srila Prabhupada gave the example that if in a mathematical problem you make a mistake in the first step, even if you perform all the other steps perfectly, you will likely get further and further from the solution—because you made a mistake in the first step. So if from the beginning you think you are the body—given that in fact you are not the body but are the soul—then even if you do everything thereafter perfectly for the sake of the body, you will get further and further away from the actual goal. So we have to understand from the beginning that we are not the body, that we are the soul within the body, and that to act for the benefit of the soul is in our real self-interest.

Everyone wants his self-interest—that is natural—but people don’t know what their real self-interest is. Unless they know what their real self is, how can they know their real self-interest? Na te viduh svartha-gatim hi visnum: they do not know that their real interest is to serve Vishnu, or Krishna, and go back home, back to Godhead.

na te viduh svartha-gatim hi visnum
  durasaya ye bahir-artha-maninah
andha yathandhair upaniyamanas
  te ’pisa-tantryam uru-damni baddhah

“Persons who are strongly entrapped by the consciousness of enjoying material life, and who have therefore accepted as their leader or guru a similar blind man attached to external sense objects, cannot understand that the goal of life is to return home, back to Godhead, and engage in the service of Lord Visnu. As blind men guided by another blind man miss the right path and fall into a ditch, materially attached men led by another materially attached man are bound by the ropes of fruitive labor, which are made of very strong cords, and they continue again and again in materialistic life, suffering the threefold miseries.” (SB 7.5.31)

There is no harm in wanting to pursue one’s self-interest, but we should know what our real self is. The first instruction of the Bhagavad-gita is that we are not this body but are the soul within the body. And our spiritual life proceeds from that understanding.

After we gain theoretical knowledge, we must realize the knowledge, and by faithfully chanting the holy names we can actually realize that we are not these bodies but are eternal spirit souls, eternal servants of Krishna. First, we hear. For example, we hear in theory that rasagullas are sweet, and we want to try one. And when we actually taste one, our knowledge becomes realized. Then we know the sweetness of a rasagulla by practical experience, and we want others to experience that taste. So, by chanting with attention, one can actually realize that he is not this body but is the soul within the body, and one can taste the sweetness of Lord Krishna’s holy name. Thus, Srila Rupa Gosvami, who actually realized the sweet nectar of the holy name, could write,

tunde tandavini ratim vitanute tundavali-labdhaye
  karna-kroda-kadambini ghatayate karnarbudebhyah sprham
cetah-prangana-sangini vijayate sarvendriyanam krtim
  no jane janita kiyadbhir amrtaih krsneti varna-dvayi

“I do not know how much nectar the two syllables ‘Krs-na’ have produced. When the holy name of Krsna is chanted, it appears to dance within the mouth. We then desire many, many mouths. When that name enters the holes of the ears, we desire many millions of ears. And when the holy name dances in the courtyard of the heart, it conquers the activities of the mind, and therefore all the senses become inert.” (Vidagdha-madhava 1.15)

But first we have to realize that we are not this body, that the body is just a machine that the soul inhabits for some time.

Chanting is a serious practice—although the process is easy. As Srila Prabhupada said, “Chanting is easy, but the determination to chant is not so easy.” Anyone can say “Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare,” but the determination to chant a prescribed number of rounds daily and to be attentive while chanting—to actually hear every word and every syllable—requires some effort. But if we can do that, we can realize that we are not these bodies but are actually parts and parcels of Krishna, eternal servants of Krishna. Then we will act exclusively for the pleasure of Krishna, and that will be our pleasure—greatest pleasure—and satisfaction.

sa vai pumsam paro dharmo
  yato bhaktir adhoksaje
ahaituky apratihata
  yayatma suprasidati

 “The supreme occupation [dharma] for all humanity is that by which men can attain to loving devotional service unto the transcendent Lord. Such devotional service must be unmotivated and uninterrupted to completely satisfy the self.” (SB 1.2.6)

The natural function of the part is to serve the whole. Srila Prabhupada gave the example that the hand is part and parcel of the body, so the natural function of the hand is to serve the body, to serve the stomach. If there is a nice rasagulla (we are talking so much about rasagullas, I hope they have some!) and the hand thinks, “Why should I feed the stomach? I will enjoy myself,” and then tries to absorb the rasagulla directly, to enjoy the rasagulla separately, it can’t. The hand is not meant to enjoy apart from the stomach. But if the hand feeds the stomach, then the hand and all the other parts of the body are naturally nourished and satisfied. In the same way, if we try to enjoy independent of Krishna, we can’t. We are not meant for that. We are part of Him and are meant to serve Him. And if we do serve Him, then all of Krishna’s other parts and parcels are satisfied. And if we want to enjoy independent of Krishna, we can try—that is what is going on in the world today: everyone is trying to enjoy independent of Krishna. But they are not successful. They are never satisfied. They always want something more, something new, something better—they are never satisfied. We can be happy and satisfied only when we serve Krishna with love, for His pleasure.

Devotee: People seem to do that very happily—go through the ups and downs of never being satisfied and then forging back into looking for satisfaction without Krishna. They seem to do it happily.

Giriraj Swami: Yes, ordinary people keep doing it over and over again. Punah punas carvita-carvananam: chewing the chewed again and again. For example, you get a piece of sugarcane and chew it to get the juice out. After chewing it and getting all the juice out, you throw it away. If you come back and start to chew it again—you can chew it, but there is no juice in it, nothing to be gotten from it. Ordinary conditioned souls, in the bodily concept of life, try to squeeze some pleasure out of the body, and after getting whatever little pleasure they can, keep trying to get more and more out of it but are never satisfied.

matir na krsne paratah svato va
  mitho ’bhipadyeta grha-vratanam
adanta-gobhir visatam tamisram
  punah punas carvita-carvananam

“Because of their uncontrolled senses, persons too addicted to materialistic life make progress toward hellish conditions and repeatedly chew that which has already been chewed. Their inclinations toward Krsna are never aroused, either by the instructions of others, by their own efforts, or by a combination of both.” (SB 7.5.30)

Then what is the way out? Krishna consciousness—realized by the mercy of pure devotees.

naisam matis tavad urukramanghrim
  sprsaty anarthapagamo yad-arthah
mahiyasam pada-rajo-’bhisekam
  niskincananam na vrnita yavat

“Unless they smear upon their bodies the dust of the lotus feet of a Vaisnava completely freed from material contamination, persons very much inclined toward materialistic life cannot be attached to the lotus feet of the Lord, who is glorified for His uncommon activities. Only by becoming Krsna conscious and taking shelter at the lotus feet of the Lord in this way can one be freed from material contamination.” (SB 7.5.32)

Such pure devotees, following the scriptures and previous authorities, induce us to chant the holy names of the Lord.

harer nama harer nama
  harer namaiva kevalam
kalau nasty eva nasty eva
  nasty eva gatir anyatha

“In this Age of Kali there is no other means, no other means, no other means for self-realization than chanting the holy name, chanting the holy name, chanting the holy name of Lord Hari.” (Brhan-naradiya Purana 38.126)

A vivid example is Valmiki Muni himself. He had been a robber and murderer. He would plunder innocent people on the road, kill them, and take everything. But by chance he happened to associate with the great devotee Narada Muni, who requested him to chant the holy name of Rama. Valmiki refused: “I am a murderer—what have I to do with chanting God’s name?” But then Narada asked him to meditate on the meaning of death by repeating the word mara, which means “death.” Valmiki agreed, and by repeating mara, mara, mara, mara he came in effect to chant Rama, Rama, Rama, Rama. Living in a previous age, he was able to meditate on the holy name of Rama for many thousands of years, and when he was liberated he wrote the Ramayana. By the power of the holy name, his heart became purified, and he became a great devotee and rishi (seer), empowered to glorify and personally serve the Lord. So anyone, even the greatest sinner, can become the greatest devotee of the Lord by serving the instructions of a pure Vaisnava and chanting the holy name of the Lord.

Sri Sri Sita-Rama-Laksmana-Hanuman ki jaya!

[A talk by Giriraj Swami on Rama-navami, April 14, 2008, San Diego]

Seeking Karuna Amidst Corona seminar part 3
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Thoughts on April Fools’ Day
Giriraj Swami

April Fools’ Day is celebrated yearly on April 1, and today I thought of Srila Prabhupada’s instruction that we remain fools before the spiritual master, as stated in a conversation in Bombay, August 16, 1976.

A devotee asked, “Even nitya-siddha has guru . . . Even the liberated soul, nitya-siddha?” And Srila Prabhupada replied, “Liberated soul never says that ‘I am liberated.’ As soon as he says ‘liberated,’ he’s a rascal. A liberated soul will never say that ‘I am liberated.’ That is liberation. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, He is God—guru more murkha dekhi’ karila sasan [Cc Adi 7.71]: ‘My Guru Maharaja saw Me fool number one, and he has chastised Me.’ He’s God. This is the example. If one remains always a servant, everlastingly, of guru, then he is liberated. And as soon as he thinks that he is liberated, he’s a rascal. That is the teaching of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Guru more murkha dekhi’. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is murkha? Why He is posing Himself that murkha, ‘I am fool number one’? That means that is liberation. You must be ready always to be chastised by guru. Then he’s liberated. And as soon as he thinks that ‘I am beyond this chastisement. I am liberated,’ he’s a rascal. Why Chaitanya Mahaprabhu says guru more murkha dekhi’ karila sasan? This is sahajiya-vada, thinking, ‘Oh, I have become liberated. I don’t require any direction of my guru. I’m liberated.’ Then he’s rascal. . . . So better remain a foolish person perpetually to be directed by Guru Maharaja. That is perfection.”

I pray to be directed by Srila Prabhupada eternally, as his everlastingly humble servant, or servants’ servants’ servant.

Hare Krishna.

Your servant,
Giriraj Swami

Sunday, March 29th, 2020
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Toronto, Ontario

About Animals and Me

Now I was raised on a small farm. We had—on this ten acre piece of land—a house, barn, sizeable front yard, a garage for two vehicles, and an orchard to accommodate some apple, peach, plum, pear and mulberry trees, and in stock—some animals. Oh, and I forgot the chicken coop in the barnyard. There was a family milk cow, chickens, pigs, a goat, a pony, pheasants and peacocks.

My dad was good with the animals like he was with the veggies (oh and we also had a plentiful garden).  But there came a point where some of our livestock went up for slaughter. The animals were trucked away, and a little extra money came our way to support a family of eight.

When it came to the chickens, well, we had to do the (dis)honour ourselves. My dad handed me a hen one day, and the hatchet, and like he had done in the past, he expected me to perform the execution. I couldn’t come around to doing that. “I was chicken!“ as they say. So we came to a compromise. I would pluck the (stinky) feathers after he beheaded the poor thing. It was hard to hold my nose when two hands were needed. It was always difficult to be at the dinner table when one of our former pets became our meal. I won’t judge my father. He really was a Super-Dad and in so many respects. Anyway, I eventually became an easy convert to vegetarianism.

The difficulty with humans taking the lives of animals, as a livelihood, is always a problem, and now we see that with the meddling of bats, monkeys, birds etc., we humans are paying the price. Mankind is haunted by viruses.

There are alternative lifestyles. We need to go there.





May the Source be with you!
4 km


Saturday, March 28th, 2020
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Toronto, Ontario

Some Pacing, Some Zooming

I only did some pacing in our temple room today, and chanted on my beads during that time. I kept myself grounded. The wet, gray weather of the outdoors didn’t necessarily beckon me. Besides, I was at the mercy of my service which required indoor attention.

Most importantly was the broadcast on “Zoom” (Zoom Cloud App-free from your App Store) delivering my message, and answering questions to members of the KCS (Krishna Consciousness Society)who are all young men starting off their careers. I would say the bulk of the interview centred on the walking I do. 

Parama G. was the coordinator. He initiated the questions, with one of the first being: “Please tell us about a significant impressional moment on one of the walks.“

And so I told of the encounter of the grizzly bear in Crow’s Nest Pass. “My support person and I were almost toast until the massive lorry came by and scared the furry—possibly 300 kg—mammal away. It was a very close call.“

There were questions about spiritual life, and how to effectively walk that path. And the answer to that is keeping good company. In fact, I could not have trekked roadways and forest paths, successfully, without having a good companion nearly to support me. I invited the listeners to join me on the Bruce Trail this spring. I will recommend tracking that footpath (Canada‘s oldest) sometime in late April or early May; and of course, only when this coronavirus has blown over.  Then all will be welcome!

May the Source be with you!
2 km (inside)