Gita key verses course 32 What does Gita say about the caste system Does the Gita support social justice – Gita 09.32
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The Monk’s Podcast 39 with Madhavananda Prabhu – Nourishing our individuality within a bhakti institution
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QA on humility 4 – Social media requires self-promotion, spiritual growth requires humility – how to reconcile?
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What is the relationship between Maya and the Three Modes of Nature?
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From: Muralidhara dasa

Is Maya one of the characteristics of the three modes of nature – the capacity to cover one’s ability to perceive the truth (avarna sakthi) and the capacity to projects other than the truth (viksepa sakti)? Is the mind the manifestation of this maya energy?

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Transcription :

Transcriber: Keshavgopal Das

Question: What is the relationship between Maya and the three modes of nature?

Answer: In scriptures, the word Maya is used differently depending upon the context. I will try to answer in principle from a broader perspective.

From linguistic point of view, Maya means “that (ya) which is not (ma)”. That means our ascribing to a property to an object which is not there in it. Maya does not mean that nothing exists. What Maya means is that we think of an object as something which the object is not. For example, when there is a mirage, a person may see water in a desert. It is not that the water or desert is not a reality, but seeing the water in a desert when the water is not present there is due to illusion. Similarly, thinking of material (temporary) to be spiritual (eternal) is an illusion (or Maya). Both material and spiritual are real, but to ascribe the property of one to the other is an illusion.

From the perspective of implementation mechanism, i.e. how this illusion is brought about, there is a complete process involve in it. In that process, Maya, three modes of material nature, mind form a hierarchy in the chain of command. You may have seen a picture in Bhagavad-gita, where three females are holding ropes and moving people around. So, these female personalities holding ropes are the modes. Maya Devi acts through these three females on our mind. From functional point of view, Maya and mind are non-different.

When we say somebody is falling in Maya, it means that the person’s mind is deluding the person. It is not that there is some place called Maya and the person is falling into a ditch. From ontological point of view, (ontology means what really exists), mind and Maya are different. Mind is subtle material energy of Krishna, which exists as part of our subtle body. Whereas Maya is another energy of Krishna, a very powerful demigoddess who is a person. She is not subtle matter, but a conscious living being. She is the consort of Lord Shiva. She is also the devotee of Supreme Lord. Her service to Krishna is to purify us by tempting us in the wrong direction to make us realize the futility of succumbing to the wrong temptations.

Maya acts upon us through three modes of material nature. Mode of goodness covers us in a certain way and make us think of as someone and makes us desirable of certain things. In mode of goodness, I can think myself as an intellectual, as a scholar, and start thinking that when I go around the world, I […]

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How can we decide the upper limit of tolerance?
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Transcription :

Transcriber: Suresh Gupta

Question: How can we decide the upper limit of tolerance?

Answer: The level of tolerance can not be determined during our own phase of intolerance because when we are angry, even a small misbehaviour seems intolerant and when we are in a good mood, even a big problem seems manageable. That is why, even if somebody is angry unreasonably, we should not act impulsively. The best option is to “press the pause button”.
Basically, in any situation that we are in, there are three options –
(i) change the situation or the person,
(ii) change ourselves or
(iii) just walk away from the situation.
Walking away is not running away, it is a mature thoughtful choice.

If somebody is working in a job and he finds the job very difficult, it maybe because the boss is very demanding, or colleagues are very troublesome. So, one can try to communicate better with them and understand their concerns or one can try to go to a different team. The reason could also be due to lack of skills which we can try to learn and develop. Therefore, ideally, there are three options and at different times different options can be chosen.

In the Mahabharata, initially when the Pandavas came, at that time, the Kauravas did many terrible things to them. There was an incident where the Kauravas tried to poison Bhima but fortunately he was protected. When Yudhishthira came to know about this, he decided not to tell anyone in order to avoid a family feud. Eventually, the Pandavas were sent to Varnavrat and an attempt was made to burn them alive. However, the attempt was foiled and the Pandavas were saved and after returning back to the kingdom, they again did not accuse the Kauravas for trying to burn them alive. Later, Dhritarashtra gave Pandavas a part of the kingdom to settle the feud between the brothers but again it was an unfair settlement since the Pandavas were given a Khandava (a barren land). Still, the Pandavas accepted it and kept tolerating. But eventually, when the Kauravas dishonoured Draupadi, at that time, a particular line was crossed which led to the possibility of a war. Even then, Krishna went as shantidoota (peace messenger) and tried to settle the feud peacefully so as to avoid the war, but Duryodhana was completely adamant. The Pandavas understood that this was not a time for tolerance but a time for active and assertive action. However, this was not based on impulse. Before the war took place, every possible action to avoid the war was taken.

We have to understand that tolerance does not mean that we let others trample us. Tolerance simply means that we don’t let small things come in the way of big things. Our practice of Krishna bhakti is most important to us but while practicing it, if some small things go wrong, and we get too overwhelmed by it, then we cannot practice Krishna bhakti very nicely. For example, […]

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When natural calamities disrupt our lives beyond tolerance point, what can we do other than pray?
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From Rekha Mathkarr Mataji

I believe and trust Krishna and follow all the scriptural regulations, but what we are experienceing weather wise in united States is beyond tolerance. Since last two wks.there are snow storms after snow storms. People are striended at airport unable to rich there destination. Schools are closed. People are unable to go to work. Elderly people like me are unable to see Dr.and stuck at home unable to get groceries.
How do you apply Gita wisdom in such situations?
Is there anything left to us other than keep praying?

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Transcription :

Transcriber: Suresh Gupta

Edited by: Keshavgopal das

Question: When natural calamities disrupt our lives beyond tolerance point, what can we do other than pray?

Answer: These are very difficult situations which sometime come upon us by the very nature of this material world. As devotees, we can see this at three different levels. At first level, we see it as a practical problem which requires practical solution. Devotees should not live in a eutopia thinking that problems will not come upon us and be prepared to deal with them. When devotees would go out in cold for harinam sankirtan, Prabhupada would ask them to wear proper clothes to keep warm.

Secondly, at a philosophical level we see how this is confirmation of the Vedic teachings that this world is a place of misery (dukhalayam) and things can go wrong at any time (ashashvatam). Our situation can be reduced from “comfort” to “misery and helplessness” in a moment. However, such teachings do not mean that we develop a pessimistic attitude towards life. Rather, we should become intelligently realistic.

Vedic culture has two aspects – (i) practical preparedness and (ii) philosophical preparedness. Practical preparedness means that when natural calamities come, we do not reason that it is due to past karma, rather do what is required. We see this in the example of Prithu Maharaj in Srimad Bhagavatam Canto 4. Philosophical preparedness means that we have a realistic outlook towards life. Krishna consciousness is not just a cosmetic philosophy offering rosy picture of life. Rather, it can be emetic, where it purges out our misconceptions and forces us to understand the reality of this world. Calamities can act as eye openers and educators, in this regard.

At a practical level, there will be inconveniences and we will have to deal with them in all possible ways. Vedic culture did not just have brahmanas who gave philosophical education, but also had kshatriyas who would make sure that administration is taken care off. ISKCON, at this stage, is primarily focusing on developing brahmanical community. However, as the spiritual culture starts to spread, there will also emerge a kshatriya community of responsible administrators who will administer society competently to ensure that society is prepared for calamities.
Thirdly, at a personal spiritual level, we can see this as an opportunity to pray and take shelter of Krishna. There is nothing wrong to pray in emergency situations. It is not considered contamination to pure devotional service. Along with that, we […]

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How do we reconcile Bhagavatam cosmology with scientific cosmology?
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Transcription :

Transcription: Suresh Gupta

Question: How do we reconcile Bhagavatam cosmology with scientific cosmology? For example, Bhagavatam cosmology talks about fourteen planetary systems whereas we have nine or ten planets, so how do we reconcile this?

Answer: We have a very simplistic notion of the cosmology that is given and explained in the Srimad Bhagavatam. Usually we say, heaven is up but if the earth is round and America and India are more or less on opposite sides of the earth then the question would arise – is the heaven above America or is it above India? There are two upper opposites. When the scriptures talk about heaven being up, that is not a simplistic geographical “up”. The Bhagavatam is talking about different levels of the cosmos. There are different levels of reality in the universe and we live at a particular level of reality. Within the Indian knowledge of cosmology, there are two broad systems of cosmological knowledge – one is called as Puranic cosmology and the other is called as Jyotisha cosmology. Jyotisha is also called as Siddhantic cosmology and Surya Siddhanta is one famous book from that set of books. Both these give very different vision of the cosmos and if we go to the Jyotisha cosmology, it gives many figures which are very similar to the figures that are in modern cosmology. For example – the distance between the earth and the moon and the earth and the sun as described in Jyotisha cosmology is found to be remarkably similar to what science has found in modern cosmology.

In the same system of knowledge, these two systems of cosmology were very closely connected. Astronomy is the study of planetary distances and astrology is study of their effects on people. For any astrological calculation, even the Vaishnava acharyas or devotee scholars have never used the Bhagavatam cosmology. They all use Jyotisha cosmology which shows that they knew that these two branches of astronomy existed. They themselves had their primary life dedicated to teaching the Bhagavatam, living the teachings of Bhagavatam, explaining the Bhagavatam, but when it came to astrology, they did not use the Bhagavatam cosmology, they used Jyotisha cosmology. What this means is that they too recognised that the Bhagavatam cosmology is not for functional purposes in this world, it is more for a vision of theistic universe (when I say vision, it does not mean that this is just a conception). It is a way of looking at the world which shows how God, devotion, dharma – are all pervading the universe. As far as operating in this universe is concerned, they used Jyotisha cosmology and they never put the two in conflict. Bhagavatam itself describes two important things in Canto 5. First is, studying this will enhance our devotion and second, ultimately because this cosmos manifests the glories of the Lord and since the Lord is infinite and cannot be completely understood, similarly the cosmos cannot be fully understood. […]

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Gita key verses course 29 What are the different forms of yoga, Do they all lead to the same goal – Gita 08.28
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Gita key verses course 28 Why is life so tough If God loves us, why doesn’t he make our life easier – Gita 08.15
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