"Pada Seva means to serve the lotus feet of Guru and Krishna.You cannot serve Krishna without Guru, or serve just Guru without serving Krishna. They must be served or offered pada seva simultaneously." - Srila Prabhupada

  • "A highly advanced Vaisnava lives in such a way that no one can understand what he is or what he was." (Srimad-Bhagavatam, 7.3.14, Purport)
  • "... there is nothing as profitable as the association of pure devotees." (Teachings of Lord Caitanya, Page 341)
  • "By the mercy of the spiritual master one receives the benediction of Krsna. Without the grace of the spiritual master, one cannot make any advancement." (Sri Sri Gurv-astaka, Verse 8)
  • "A pure devotee cannot forget the Supreme Lord for a moment, and similarly, the Supreme Lord cannot forget His pure devotee for a moment." (Bhagavad-gita As It Is, 8.15, Purport)
  • "The Spiritual Master is present wherever his sincere disciple is trying to serve his instructions. " (Srila Prabhupada letter, 12/01/73)
  • "I was born in the darkest ignorance, and my spiritual master opened my eyes with the torchlight of knowledge. I offer my respectful obeisances unto him." (Sri Guru Pranama)
  • "My dear Partha, one who claims to be My devotee is not so. Only a person who claims to be the devotee of My devotee is actually My devotee." (Lord Krsna, Adi Purana)
  • "Pure devotees of the Lord are more powerful than the waters of the sacred river Ganges. One can derive spiritual benefit out of prolonged use of the Ganges waters. But one can be sanctified at once by the mercy of a pure devotee of the Lord." (Srimad-Bhagavatam, 1.1.15, Purport)
  • "No one can approach the Supreme Personality of Godhead directly. One must approach Him through His pure devotees." (Nectar of Devotion, Chapter 12)
  • "Real knowledge can be obtained from a person who is in perfect Krsna consciousness. Therefore, one has to seek out such a bona fide spiritual master and, under him, learn what Krsna consciousness is. The spiritual master can drive away all nescience, as the sun drives away darkness." (Bhagavad-gita As It Is, 5.16, Purport)

Pandemic of another world

The year 2020 has got a very shivering start with COVID-19 pandemic taking lives. Thousands of people have lost their lives. Hundreds of brave and generous hearts have come together to fight the deadly virus and save humanity from this crisis.

Salute to Police Men and Medical Team for risking their lives for others. Various organization have stepped forward to distribute free meals to needy. ISKCON India has distributed over 12 Million Prasad Meals During COVID-19 to needy (as on April 17)!!!

What is a Pandemic?

One of the widely searched questions in Google is - What is a Pandemic?

Oxford Dictionary defines it as -
an outbreak of a disease that occurs over a wide geographic area and affects an exceptionally high proportion of the population

Like for example - COVID-19, Coronavirus, is infecting and affecting the human population across the globe, killing thousands. As per Visual Capitalist, till April 17 COVID-19 has claimed 147K lives.

COVID-19 isn't the first pandemic in human history.

In an article - History of Pandemics, it is sighted that since the year 165 AD till 8:38am PT, April 17, maximum life was threatened by  Black Death (Bubonic Plague). It took about 200 Million lives. Below amazing info-graphics is from the same article.


PandemicsOfAnotherWorld | Padaseva.in | https://www.visualcapitalist.com/history-of-pandemics-deadliest/
History of Pandemics


Based on the below statics of ourworldindata.org, we can find that maximum deaths in the year 2017 were caused due to Cardiovascular Diseases, counting to 17.79 million deaths.

If we sum up all the cases then we come across 53.68 million human deaths (precisely 53,682,824) in 2017.

Using the scrollbar provided, we can see the count never exceeded in previous years (until 1990).





So we find historically, the Bubonic Plague virus was the deadliest to cost 200 Million lives.

What if we come across a virus that can cost lives more than that, something in Billions? 

It will create havoc in our society, isn't it? 

Or do we actually have such a virus that can potentially claim Billions of lives?


Pandemic Of Another World!!!






Congratulations friends, we humans are the virus which is creating seer imbalance in the entire ecological sphere.

Based on the below statics of ourworldindata.org, in the year 2018, we have collectively killed

  • 68.79 Billion Chickens
  • 1.48 Billion Pigs
  • 656.31 Million Turkey
  • 573.81 Million Sheep
  • 479.14 Million Goats
  • 302.15 Million Cattles (Cow, Buffalo etc)

This sums up to seventy-two billion two hundred eighty-one million four hundred ten thousand (72,281,410,000) animals, in 1 year. 

Rate of animal slaughter:
1 Year   =  72 Billion (Precidesly: 72,281,410,000)
1 Day    =  198 Million (Precidesly: 198,031,260)
1 Hour  = 8 Million (Precidesly: 8,251,302)
1 Second = 2 Thousand (Precidesly: 2,292)

Note: This count doesn't include eggs or fish.

Isn't this is really a proud accomplishment for us?






I understand we are so much devoted to our mission of causing genocides in the world of helpless animals that we become helpless to our cravings. Even in this situation of COVID-19, where the entire "better section of the world" is refraining from consuming meat, some of the people are helplessly dragged by their senses to the meat shop, to slaughter and buy the dead bodies. 

So this is extremely evident that we human are merciless section of creation which can never be tamed.

Breath of Fresh Air


With the pride of Industrialization and Modernization, we go around killing animals and destroying and polluting the environment around us.

With the myth of Scientific advancement, we try to intervene and control nature.

Today when the deadly virus (we human) are being confined into a bottle (our houses), nature is seen to breathe free fresh air and heal itself.




We all know, we will not be confined for long. Sooner or later we will get the cure to COVID-19 and we shall be out of our confinement.

Most of our loyal friends will succumb to their programmed mind and attack the ecology. Thereby feasting on the dead corpses of poor animals.

For the rest of us, let us understand reality.

We are already suffering irregular seasons and frequent cyclones. For most of us, we might not be fortunate enough to stay alive in this body and witness the hellish condition yet to come.

We are going to gift it to the next generation with all our love and affection.

We need to understand - Eating animal's flesh is not just killing us (through the various cardio diseases and epidemics and pandemics) but also adversely impacting the environment.

For many, it might be a laughing stock to hear the connection between animal flesh and global warming. 

Greenhouse Gas emission from Food

In very simple terms, Greenhouse gases are gases in Earth’s atmosphere that trap heat. They let sunlight pass through the atmosphere, but they prevent the heat that the sunlight brings from leaving the atmosphere. This contributes to Global Warming. Thereby increasing the heat, melting the polar ice, increasing sea level, creating an imbalance in the environment resulting in cyclones, hurricanes, and whatnot.


The above data from ourworldindata.org shows a stunning fact. Every food we eat contributes to greenhouse gas emissions.


Without going into the technicalities, sharing two excerpts from this website -
Regardless of whether you compare the footprint of foods in terms of their weight (e.g. one kilogram of cheese versus one kilogram of peas); protein content ; or calories, the overall conclusion is the same: plant-based foods tend to have a lower carbon footprint than meat .


As an example: producing 100 grams of protein from peas emits just 0.4 kilograms of carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2eq). To get the same amount of protein from beef, emissions would be nearly 90 times higher, at 35 kg CO2eq.

Conclusion

We must admit and agree that we are the most compassionless, merciless, and shameless species. Cries, tears, and blood of innocent animals make us feel more hungry. The breathless chopped head of the animals, soaked in blood, gulping for air doesn't make our heart melt. Of course, what to speak about those great souls who find pleasure in ripping off the skin from an animal, to make their fashion accessories. 

But still, if our love for our children and grandchildren is genuine, if our responsibilities don't end with pampering them by junk food, gadgets, movies then let us think seriously.

Study. There are innumerable authentic sources available to show the havoc that animal slaughter is causing to humanity and ecology.

Let us pledge for our children, when we get free from lockdown, may our freedom doesn't snatch away their freedom.

There are innumerable vegetarian cuisines available that can supply a far more healthy source of proteins and nutrition.

Jeff Peters has compiled quotes into a beautiful article in his website www.changeforayear.com. There he mentions

Vegan, vegetarian, plant-based, animal-free–whatever you call it, it’s not a fad. Since humans began recording their thoughts a few thousand years ago, many great minds have advocated veganism.

Please go through the wonderful post to learn what great men thought about animal-free diets.


May we become a healthy part of Nature and not a Virus causing pain and suffering.


***


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Srimati Radha Rani and Krishna | Drawing




rādhā-kṛṣṇa eka ātmā, dui deha dhari’
anyonye vilase rasa āsvādana kari’


Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa are one and the same, but They have assumed two bodies. Thus They enjoy each other, tasting the mellows of love.

[Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta 1.4.56]

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Adi Shankara | Shankaracharya | Advaita Vedanta | Mayavad

Lord Shiva incarnated as an incredible saint and mystic named - Adi Shankara. He appeared in an area known as Kaladi, on the banks of river Purna (now known as  Kochi Kerala). He was born to a brahmin couple – Shivaguru and Aryamba.


Adi  Shankara | Shankaracharya | Advaita Vedanta | Mayavad


Adi Shankara


Setting the Stage - Appearance and Pastime of Lord Buddha


tataḥ kalau sampravṛtte
sammohāya sura-dviṣām
buddho nāmnāñjana-sutaḥ
kīkaṭeṣu bhaviṣyati

"Then, in the beginning of Kali-yuga, the Lord will appear as Lord Buddha, the son of Añjanā, in the province of Gayā, just for the purpose of deluding those who are envious of the faithful theist."
[Srimad Bhagavatam - 1.3.24]

At the time when Lord Buddha appeared, the people were mostly atheistic and preferred animal flesh. With an excuse of Vedic sacrifice, animal-killing was performed unrestrictedly. Thus Lord Buddha taking pity on the poor animals, preached nonviolence and established the rejection of Vedas. Less intelligent people, who were atheists, followed Him. Lord taught them moral discipline and nonviolence, which is the basic step for proceeding further on the path of God-realization.

The teachings of Lord Buddha

Ahimsa (Non-Violence)

Lord Buddha's intension was to stop animal slaughter. This is why therefore he preached that the greatest religious principle is nonviolence.

Denial of Vedic Scriptures and authorities

Due to misuse of Vedic injunctions and justifying violence based on misrepresentations of Vedas,  at that time it was necessary for Lord Buddha to reject the Vedas altogether. At least for the athesis people who didn't understand the true essence of Vedas.

Materialist Basis

Lord Buddha, based on his target audience, never taught or spoke about higher subject matter - soul, super-soul, God. Even if He didn't mention about Spiritual Knowledge, still, He advised stopping the material existence - Nirvana.

Nirvana

Nirvana is a Vedic concept of ceasing the process of material life which includes material desires, material activity, and the pains of material existence. Lord Buddha taught that the ultimate goal of life is nirvāṇa - to end the material cycle of existence. His idea was  - because of desire we are facing the troubles of material life, so our goal should be to make all your desires extinct. Thus there will be no more feelings of pain and pleasure. Become desirelessness or Make it Void or Make it Zero.

Because Lord didn't speak anything about the Higher Reality, God, the afterlife as per His philosophy was also Void.

That is why Buddhism Philosophy is called Voidism or Sunyavad.

Although Lord Budha was an incarnation of Vishnu, still the philosophy of Buddhism is atheism (as it didn't acknowledge the existence of God & His instructions - Vedas), which he had to preach based on the time, place & circumstances

With time, the authority and relevance of the Vedas have been severely undermined. Buddhism and atheism were becoming common and theistic philosophies were getting discouraged and suppressed. Thus the actual import of the Vedas was lost.


Instructions of the Lord


dvāparādau yuge bhūtvā kalayā mānuṣādiṣu
svāgamaiḥ kalpitais tvaṁ ca janān mad-vimukhān kuru

"In Kali-yuga, mislead the people in general by propounding imaginary meanings for the Vedas to bewilder them."
[Lord's Instruction to Shiva - Shiva Puran]

Just like we use sieves to filter out the unwanted material, Lord instructed Shiva to play the same role.

There were two intentions -

  1. Re-establish the Vedic Scriptures
  2. Filter out the atheist crowd from the theist.

Adi  Shankara | Shankaracharya | Advaita Vedanta | Mayavad




  Lord Shiva thus reported the same to Mother Parvati.
māyāvādam asac chāstraṁ pracchannaṁ bauddham ucyate
mayaiva kalpitaṁ devi kalau brāhmaṇa-rūpiṇā
brahmaṇaś cāparaṁ rūpaṁ nirguṇaṁ vakṣyate mayā
sarva-svaṁ jagato ’py asya mohanārthaṁ kalau yuge
vedānte tu mahā-śāstre māyāvādam avaidikam
mayaiva vakṣyate devi jagatāṁ nāśa-kāraṇāt

"The Māyāvāda philosophy," Lord Śiva informed his wife Pārvatī, "is impious (asac chāstra). It is covered Buddhism. My dear Pārvatī, in Kali-yuga I assume the form of a brāhmaṇa and teach this imagined Māyāvāda philosophy. In order to cheat the atheists, I describe the Supreme Personality of Godhead to be without form and without qualities. Similarly, in explaining Vedānta I describe the same Māyāvāda philosophy in order to mislead the entire population toward atheism by denying the personal form of the Lord.
[Shiva to Parvati - Padma Puran]

śṛṇu devi pravakṣyāmi tāmasāni yathā-kramamyeṣāṁ
śravaṇa-mātreṇa pātityaṁ jñāninām
apiapārthaṁ śruti-vākyānāṁ darśayal
loka-garhitamkarma-svarūpa-tyājyatvam atra ca
pratipādyatesarva-karma-paribhraṁśān
naiṣkarmyaṁ tatra cocyateparātma-jīvayor aikyaṁ mayātra pratipādyate

"My dear wife, hear my explanations of how I have spread ignorance through Māyāvāda philosophy. Simply by hearing it, even an advanced scholar will fall down. In this philosophy, which is certainly very inauspicious for people in general, I have misrepresented the real meaning of the Vedas and recommended that one give up all activities in order to achieve freedom from karma. In this Māyāvāda philosophy I have described the jīvātmā and Paramātmā to be one and the same."
[Shiva to Parvati - Padma Puran]

The advent of Adi Shankara


As instructed by Vishnu, Lord Shiva in the form of Adi  Shankara established countless facts proving the Buddhist Philosophy as Voidism and established the grounds and faith back on Vedic Scriptures. Adi  Shankara established four maths or monasteries on the four directions of India, to be held by his disciples who would be known as Shankaracharyas.

The philosophy of Advaita Vedanta or Mayavad

As we have seen Lord instructed Shiva to preach the philosophy of Mayavad, giving imaginary meaning to Vedic injunctions.

The principle messages of his philosophy were

- All / Everything / Everyone Is God. Hence this philosophy is known as Advaita (Non-Dual).

- The Absolute is  Supreme, all-pervading and hence has to be formless

- Everything is an illusion, only the Absolute Reality is Truth. Because it says everything is an illusion (Maya), this philosophy is called Mayavad and the followers are known as Mayavadi

- The perfection of Life is to merge back to that Absolute Truth

- The form, pastimes of Lord is all illusion



However, as we have seen earlier, these were false propagations to mislead the atheistic crowd.

The theistic crowd, or the, devotees of the Lord knows the bonafide knowledge,

- Reality is the philosophy of Achintya-bhedabheda-tattva which refers to the inconceivable oneness and difference of the Supreme Person and His energies.

- There is one Supreme Personality of Godhead, and we are His Part and Parcells, and this material world is His energy. Hence everything is real and not an illusion. Although the material world can be understood as temporary.

- The Vedic injunction is that the Supreme Person is spread all over the cosmic manifestation by His energy. This energy is spiritual, but because it acts in the material world it is called maya, or illusory energy.

- The Absolute Truth is understood in three phases—impersonal, localized, and as the Supreme Person. The Supreme Person's impersonal feature, brahman, is subordinate to His personal aspect, as the sun's rays are subordinate to the sun itself.

- The perfection of Life is not to merge back to that Absolute Truth, but, to return back to the Spiritual Abord.

- The form, pastimes of Lord is a reality


Adi Sankara's Mercy 


So as we have seen, his philosophy basically doesn't believe in the forms and qualities of the Lord. It believes the Nirguna Brahman to be an Absolute Truth. However, during his last days, he composed the following verses,

bhaja govindam bhaja govindam
govindam bhaja muudhamate .
naamasmara Naadanyamupaayam
nahi pashyaamo bhavatarane

Worship Govinda, worship Govinda, worship Govinda, Oh fool ! Other than chanting the Lord’s names, there is no other way to cross the life’s ocean.
[Stotram by Adi Shankra]


kadacit kalindi-tata-vipina-sangita-taralo
mudabhiri-nari-vadana-kamalasvada-madhupah
rama-shambhu-brahmamara-pati-ganesha-arcita-pado
jagannatha svami nayana-patha-gami bhavatu me 

Who sometimes fervently plays His flute on the banks of the Yamuna river in Sri Vrindavana, who is like a bumblebee that blissfully tastes the lotus faces of the Vraja-gopis, and whose feet are worshipped by great personalities such as Laksmi, Shiva, Brahma, Indra, and Ganesha — may that Sri Jagannatha-deva be the object of my vision.
[Jagannathashtakam by Adi Sankara]


This is strange that someone whose philosophy is based on formless Brahman, who doesn't believe in the beautiful form of Lord, how can He compose such deep verses on Govinda (Krishna) or Jagannatha. The person who thinks Absolute is formless wouldn't have any faith or inclination towards any deity, let alone Supreme Personality of Godhead - Krishna / Govinda / Jagannatha.

The fact is Shiva couldn't hide his devotional heart even in the form of Shankara and composed following verses which clearly shows his devotional heart and gives a clear message - the ultimate epitome of spiritual practice and philosophy is Devotional Service onto Krishna.

This is the greatest mercy that Shiva did in the form of Adi Shankara towards his followers. He gave them a subtle hint about the fallacy of his Mayavad Philosophy. He offered them a gateway to escape the trap of the illusionary philosophy of Mayavad. 

This is why even though Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu warned everyone against the poisonous philosophy of Mayavad, he never blamed His dear devotee, Lord Shiva.

tāṅra doṣa nāhi, teṅho ājñā-kārī dāsa
āra yei śune tāra haya sarva-nāśa

Śaṅkarācārya, who is an incarnation of Lord Śiva, is faultless because he is a servant carrying out the orders of the Lord. But those who follow his Māyāvādī philosophy are doomed. They will lose all their advancement in spiritual knowledge.
[Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta - Ādi-līlā - Chapter 7.114]

The Conclusion

śūdrāḥ pratigrahīṣyanti
tapo-veṣopajīvinaḥ
dharmaṁ vakṣyanty adharma-jñā
adhiruhyottamāsanam

Uncultured men will accept charity on behalf of the Lord and will earn their livelihood by making a show of austerity and wearing a mendicant’s dress. Those who know nothing about religion will mount a high seat and presume to speak on religious principles.
[Srimad Bhagavatam - 12.3.38]

Although with the lights of scriptures, it is proven that Mayavad is like a terror in the land of God Consciousness, still there are innocent people falling into the trap.

There are many institutions and guru budding every year and they base their phylosophies on this Mayavad Theories. To make their business flourish, they try to present it in a way that is catchy for young and modern minds, they coin various terms like "Modern Religion", "Engineering", etc, but, inside is as void as ever.

We must be aware of the poisonous Mayavad Philosophy and keep ourselves safe.



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A Witness To The Mercy

Some of the top searches in Google are - Can science prove God? Any Scientific Evidence of the Existence of Krishna? Does Krishna exist? Is Krishna God?

The greatest benediction Krishna bestowed upon our family is that He demonstrated His causeless mercy to us, through the life of my uncle, which eradicates all our doubts.

We would like to humbly present the events chronologically, as a witness to the mercy, without any mishandling of facts.


A Witness to the mercy padaseva.in



MY UNCLE


I remember it was one of the winters in the 1990s. My father was chasing me to study, to escape him, I quietly sneaked into my uncle's room. He was sitting erect, covered with a shawl. I slowly hid behind him, and he wrapped his left arm around me, handed the chanting beads with his right arm and for the first time in this life, he chanted the mantra in my ears - Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama Hare Hare.

My paternal uncle - Sri Amiya Kumar Mukherjee, was a Brahmachari (celibate) throughout his life. We used to stay with him in Jamshedpur. Ever since I got hold of my senses, I saw him returning from the office and Chanting Hare Krishna Mahamantra, reading Srila Prabhupada's Bhagavad Gita, Chaitanya Caritamrita, Srimad Bhagavatam. I used to love the paintings of Krishna in Bhagavad Gita especially the one in which mother Yasoda chases little Krisha with a stick. I could relate to the agony when mothers turn heavy on us and used to sympathize with the adorable blue child.




THE VAISHNAVA MONK


Those days, from a nearby Radha Krishna temple (not ISKCON) a Vaishnava monk used to regularly visit our residence. I used to watch my uncle having deep philosophical conversations with him. The monk never used to accept anything eatable from our home, not even water. He was not addicted to anything, not even tea or coffee. We used to call him Maharaj. He was so simple, he hardly used to sit on our chair. He preferred a wooden stool than a luxury chair. Maharaj used to call me Nitai and used to be very affectionate towards me. He always used to rub my hair playfully whenever I used to bow down to him.

With his association, I remember my uncle used to slowly take steps to lead a sattvik life, life in the mode of goodness. Not only did he not eat non-vegetarian food, he never killed a mosquito. He used to instruct me Vishnu resides in every living being and every living being is His part and parcels. He taught me how Vishnu is in every atom, and, narrated me the incident of Lord Narasimha.

Elevation is possible in Krishna Consciousness in the association of pure devotees who can deliver one from delusion.
- Srila Prabhupada

NEW ACQUAINTANCE 


Slowly the days rolled over to years. I was in high school then. I noticed another saffron-clad person started visiting our home, he wasn't a Vaishnava. I still remember, every time he visited our home, he used to sit putting his leg over our chair, demanded a cup of strong tea while smoking bidi.

A complete opposite to the nature of our saintly Maharaj. He represented spiritual life in an extremely strange way. He didn't believe in any kind of regulations or discipline. The effect of his association was soon visible on my uncle. My uncle also started taking spiritual practice cheaply.

Uncle slowly reduced the association of Saintly Maharaj. He used to spend hours together with this fellow discussing his philosophy. As the days passed I could see uncle gave away Srila Prabhupada's Bhagavad Gita to someone else and bought some other publications suggested by his new associate.

He started breaking the regulations. He was now enjoying fish, as he started believing there was no need to become fanatical about diet. He was convinced that diet was for the body and he is a soul, so there is no need to bother about it.

Eventually, they were seen sitting together with tea and discussing Indian politics for hours together. He started donating rice bags along with money to him.

Slowly, uncle became disrespectful towards all Vaishnavas including Maharaj.

When due to false pride, you disrespect exalted Vaishnavas, You become attracted to bad association. That bad association corrupts and destroys your devotion.
- His Holiness Radhnath Swami Maharaj



DIAGNOSIS OF THE ILLNESS


It was now 2014, I was already married to Rusha and we had started practicing Krishna Consciousness through ISKCON. We were following the four regulations which are the pillars of any civilized human life - (1) No Non-Vegetarian diet, (2) No Intoxication, (3) No Gambling and (4) No Illicit Relation.

Uncle said "it is good that you have quit smoking and drinking but you shouldn't have left animal protein. There is no connection between our diet and spiritual growth."

Srila Prabhupada counters this thought in His Purport in Bhagavad Gita
āhāra-śuddhau sattva-śuddhiḥ 
sattva-śuddhau dhruvā smṛtiḥ 
smṛti-lambhe sarva-granthīnāṁ vipramokṣaḥ. 

By performance of yajña one’s eatables become sanctified, and by eating sanctified foodstuffs one’s very existence becomes purified; by the purification of existence finer tissues in the memory become sanctified, and when memory is sanctified one can think of the path of liberation, and all these combined together lead to Kṛṣṇa consciousness, the great necessity of present-day society.
[Puport - Bhagavad Gita 3.11]

We used to have endless debates but he was firm on his views.

We used to wonder why and how uncle got so much deviated? Every time I tried to ask him this, the conversation used to end with debate and argument. He used to get extremely offensive to Vaishnavas and Acharyas. So we slowly stopped discussing these topics with him.

Instead, we tried to motivate my parents towards Krishna. We quoted verses from Bhagavad Gita where Krishna says the ultimate goal of human life is Krishna Consciousness, verses where Krishna says He is the ultimate source and ultimate destination for everyone, verses where Krishna says Bhakti Yoga is Supreme Yoga, verses where Krishna says surrender onto Him and He will care for us, the verses where it is said no need to fear for Krishna always protects His devotees. My uncle used to interrupt, he used to say "You are quoting the correct verses but the inference isn't correct. We should surrender to the power who is speaking through Krishna."

Then we finally understood, he has been bitten by the Mayavad Serpent, the acquaintance he got friendly with.

When we asked him, having studied so many scriptures all these days, what is the essence according to him, he used to say "Manav Seva is Madhav Seva, we should serve the Daridra Narayan".

We failed in every attempt to make him realize the fallacy of Mayavad Philosophy. We thought, only by bringing Lord in the center of our family, can help us in curing the poisonous effect of Mayavad . So we proposed to build a small altar for Lord. Immediately uncle opposed, "We all are Narayan then why need another altar for Him. Save money and donate to the poor, call Him from within. No need to make external showoff."

Things were becoming extremely difficult for my mother, as she was inclined to practicing Krishna Consciousness. Every time she used to perform Aarti or hear a lecture or read scriptures, uncle would unnecessarily interrupt. He sometimes used to bring his collections of books in order to prove to my mother that she is choosing the wrong path. He also tried to brainwash her saying ISKCON would take all the money from us, she should stop me as well as I would one day renounce everything and become a monk.

I knew my uncle was a very nice soul, who was once devoted to The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna. It is just that he has been bitten by a venomous mayavadi serpent, and his non-devotional lifestyle is the symptoms of this poison. I was desperate to help him recover. But I was too young to counsel or preach him effectively. I used to pray helplessly to Krishna.

jīvera nistāra lāgi’ sūtra kaila vyāsa
māyāvādi-bhāṣya śunile haya sarva-nāśa

Śrīla Vyāsadeva presented the Vedānta philosophy for the deliverance of conditioned souls, but if one hears the commentary of Śaṅkarācārya, everything is spoiled.
[Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta - 2.6.169]

Māyāvāda philosophy is extremely dangerous, especially for a devotee. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu has therefore strictly forbidden us to associate with Māyāvādī philosophers. Māyāvādi-bhāṣya śunile haya sarva-nāśa: if one associates with the Māyāvāda philosophy, his devotional life is doomed.
[Srila Prabhupada's purport to Srimad Bhagavatam 7.15.6]




PROTECTION OF THE LORD


It was 2017, November - the holy month of Karthik. Rusha and I were in Sri Dham Mayapur attending the Annual Yatra by HH Radhanath Swami Maharaj. We received a call from my parents, informing the severe health condition of my uncle. He was completely bedridden. Doctors had given up. Everyone anticipated him to be departing soon.

Hearing the news, I was shaken up. Somehow it kept striking my mind that my uncle isn't prepared for death yet. The consciousness in which one quits his body determines his next life. Thanks to the Mayavadi preacher, the state of consciousness and lifestyle that my uncle was leading, he would have definitely fallen to some lower species if not to hell.

Whatever state of being one remembers when he quits his body, O son of Kuntī, that state he will attain without fail.
[Bhagavad Gita 8.6]

I discussed this with Rusha. We didn't know what to do. We went to Narasimha Dev, offered Him lamps and intensely prayed to Him. We knew we aren't pure hence requested senior devotees to pray on our behalf. We mentally offered our prayers to our Guru Dev, HH Radhanath Swami Maharaj, requesting Him to offer prayers for the protection of my uncle.

The next day we were not sure about continuing with the yatra or get a train ticket home. I remember, it was early morning, we were on Pada Yatra to Mahaprabhu's birthplace. We were all chanting the holy name on our way. Every devotee was smiling and enjoying, while we two were tensed. Soon my phone rang - call from home. We were expecting to hear a piece of bad news. But to our utter surprise parents said uncle was now able to sit up and was able to talk.

“garjantam garjayantam nija-bhuja-patalam sphotayantam hatantam
dipyantam tapayantam divi bhuvi ditijam kshepayantam kshipantam
krandantam roshayantam dishi dishi satatam samharantam bharantam
vikshantam purnayantam kara-nikara-shatair divya-simham namami |”

‘Lord Narasimha roars loudly and causes others to roar. With His multitudes of arms He tears the demons asunder and kills them in this way. He is always seeking out and tormenting the demoniac descendants of Diti, both on this earth planet and in the higher planets, and He throws them down and scatters them. He cries with great anger as He destroys the demons in all directions, yet with His unlimited hands He sustains, protects, and nourishes the cosmic manifestation. I offer my respectful obeisances to the Lord, who has assumed the form of a transcendental lion.’

[Narasimha Kawacham]

In a matter of a week, he was back to normal life, walking around. This episode made our faith firm on Krishna, statements of scriptures, our path and teachings and guidance of Acharyas through ISKCON.

Somehow it had drawn us extremely closer to Narasimha Dev. Also, my mother was convinced that she hasn't chosen the wrong path.

During this phase, my mother shared very striking news. Till the time my uncle was weak, he was humble. However, as soon as he became fit, he was back to what he was.

This is exactly the situation with everyone. When we are fit and healthy, we think we are going to live forever, thus neglect the highest goal of life which is Krishna Consciousness.

Day after day, hour after hour, countless people die, yet the living believes they will live forever
[Yudhisthira to yaksha]


Again in the year 2018, he suffered a similar health crisis, when doctors gave up. My father who was an atheist till this time suddenly requested me to offer a Narasimha Dev Puja for uncle. I saw a ray of hope in my father too. I again requested devotees to pray for uncle. I personally prayed to Lord, I also prayed, may my whole family become a devotee. This time I kind of forced my father to chant the holy names of Lord. He started chanting too.

Lord again mercifully answered our prayers. In a few day's time, my uncle was fit and fine. However, again both my father and uncle resumed their previous life - the life of an atheist non-devotee. Father gave up chanting.

Seeing the short time left, my mother, Rusha and I tried to convince uncle all the more to return back to Krishna Consciousness. We tried every means, it didn't work. He was still convinced in the Mayavad philosophy. He used to watch the TV serials on those fake godmen, guru, babas and swamis, claiming themselves or their guru as incarnations.


THE LAST CHAPTER


2019, uncle had turned extremely frail. In mid-2019, he got admitted to the hospital as he was facing a serious urinal problem. Doctors treated him with everything they could and later discharged him incurable. Towards the end quarter of 2019, he was again admitted with breathing trouble. Doctors diagnosed him with cancer and discharged him in a week's time. Uncle wasn't the same as earlier. He was completely bedridden and extremely weak. He needed someone to help him even for turning sides. The situation was so grave that this time everyone understood its time. Both my parents were tirelessly serving him.

Rusha also went to my parents to serve there. I had to stay back at Kolkata for attending office. Like last time, my father again asked me to offer a Narasimha Dev puja. Although he was in my prayers always, however, this time I was finding it difficult to pray again to the Lord. I felt like using Him for my own selfish purpose. I felt as if my family has been betraying Him. It was as if pray, get result and then forget. There was no sense of gratitude.

This is the general selfish mentality of almost every non-devotees. They treat the Lord as if having a business deal with Him.

... So those who are going to religious life, making God as their servant, they will be failure. You must approach God as master. You should become servant. The so-called religionist, they accept God as their order-supplier servant: "I must pray to God." Whenever there is some inconvenience, "I must pray," or "I must... " Not "must." "At that time I shall pray, and then I shall finish that prayer, and God must supply. If God does not supply, then there is no God." This is the general attitude.
[Srila Prabhupada's Lecture on SB 1.16.19 -- Los Angeles, July 9, 1974] 

But again, I knew I had no one else to take shelter of other than Krishna. I knew this is the most critical phase of life for my uncle.

So I prayed with all my sincerity, but this time, I prayed not for his recovery, I prayed may he get the gift of devotion, may he get the blessing of Krishna Consciousness, may he become a devotee. I requested every devotee I knew to pray for my uncle's bhakti. All I desired was that he should die a death of a devotee so that at the end moment he quits his body in Krishna Consciousness.


THE DOWNPOUR OF MERCY


He quickly becomes righteous and attains lasting peace. O son of Kunti, declare it boldly that My devotee never perishes.
[Lord Krishna - Bhagavad Gita 9.31]

Fearing that my uncle would quit his body any moment, Rusha and my mother used to sing Kirtan near his ears. Intention was so that atleast through these Kirtan, may he remember Lord, atleast for once.

Slowly my uncle was regaining back his external consciousness. He was able to talk, hear and understand. Rusha, who was already taking care of him, now seeing an opportunity started to have a short discussion with him on spiritual topics.

One day she took Srila Prabhupada's Bhagavad Gita As It Is, and randomly took out slokas and asked uncle the meaning of the verses. Initially, he was reluctant to speak anything about Krishna or Gita. He used to accuse Krishna of every pain or trauma that he was undergoing. He hated the voice of Srila Prabhupada chanting Maha Mantra that we used to play in his room.

But my mother and Rusha were not the ones to give up. They took some or the other reasons to read out Bhagavad Gita in front of uncle.

One day my uncle, called upon Rusha and asked her to read Gita. Rusha asked which chapter should she read, he said chapter 12 - Devotional Service or Bhakti.

The patient bitten by the venomous mayavadi serpent was now recovering slowly. He was showing the symptoms of life - Krishna Bhakti !!!

Rusha read the verses along with the purports of Srila Prabhupada. On each purport, my uncle used to exclaim - Correct!!! It is Correct!!! and used to ask her to repeat the lines again and again. These were the same lines that he couldn't understand a few years back and so he got rid of Prabhupada's Bhagavad Gita. Today he is realising and relishing them.

This continued for almost two weeks.

One morning, he asked my mother to bring him his old beads, he wanted to chant!!! Then he also asked to increase the volume of Srila Prabhupada's recording.

On being asked, why did he want to chant Krishna's name when He is giving all pain, uncle replied - "Krishna is not making me suffer. I am suffering due to my own Karma. Krishna is mercifully curing me of all the Karma so that I may return to my eternal home, Back to Him"

Hare Krishna !!!

Slowly uncle was now able to stand on his feet, and, taking baby steps and was able to walk.
Seeing my uncle recover, my parents asked Rusha to return back to Kolkata.

CLIMAX


It was on 20 December 2019, my parents suddenly called us to go home as early as possible as uncle's health was deteriorating.

We were ready to board the train early morning on 21st December when my parents called and informed me that he has left his body.

I had no complaints. All that I had asked from Krishna, He has mercifully bestowed it upon us. I silently prayed for my uncle.

Just then a thought gripped me.

Death is the end for the body, but for the soul, it is the start of a new journey.

Today's culture is extremely corrupted by modernization. Hardly anyone is interested in understanding the soul. The rituals are performed for the sake of performing. People are so selfishly preoccupied in their personal material life, they choose to take shortcuts. Apart from this, in our society, there is an infamous ritual of eating flesh after 13th day. This is against the injunctions of bonafide scriptures. It is for the pleasure of the survivors but the soul who has departed gains a huge Karmic reaction. Shraddha ceremonies are performed to reduce the karmas of the departed soul, not to dump new severe karma.

I immediately called my parents and informed all rituals will be performed by me and we will strictly follow the guidelines of scriptures. Thankfully they agreed.

But I wasn't sure how to go ahead. There are hardly any qualified priests left on our planet.

Moreover, I was worried about what if my relatives didn't agree.



"SURRENDER UNTO ME"


There was no other option but to surrender on to Krishna. I kept praying, all I am going to do is for my uncle, I prayed to help me in performing my duties in the best possible way.

I took my mobile and started reading the responsibilities that are expected out of me. I found an extremely powerful statement of Srila Prabhupada defining Putra (son) -
Putra means Pun-namno narakad yasmat trayate iti putra. Pu-tra. Pu means pun-namno narakat. There is a hell which is called put. So from that hellish condition, one who delivers, trayate iti tra, therefore he is called putra. This is... Every Sanskrit word has got meaning, root meaning. Putra. Putra-piṇḍa-prayojanam. Putra is required. Why? After death, if by chance the father does not get ordinary life or goes to the hellish condition of life, the son will deliver. Therefore sraddha ceremony. There is sraddha... What is that sraddha ceremony? Sraddha ceremony means to offer foodstuff to Viṣṇu, and with the prasadam, to the forefathers or father it is offered so that by eating prasadam, if he is in ghost life or in hellish life, he'll be delivered. This is called sraddha.
Srila Prabhupada Lecture - Vrndavana, August 5, 1975

In Iskcon Desire Tree, I found an article explaining the journey of the soul as described in Garuda Puran. I could understand the importance of the rituals that are followed after someone's death.

When we reached home, everyone was waiting for our arrival. We learned from my mother, my uncle had his beads next to him when he left his body. So it seems, either he had chanted or at least attempted to chant before death. Either way, he was Krishna Conscious before death.

We went for the crematorium ground, and I performed the final rites. The ritual of putting a flame to my uncle's mouth burnt the relation with his body.

As taught and guided by senior devotees, I chanted Hare Krishna Mahamantra loudly, near the burning yard, for the entire duration while the body was burning. I wish I had a devotee association who could accompany me in chanting or sing Kirtan.

Krishna helped me realize that now was the time to perform the real service for the departed soul who had a limited time left.

While going back home, I was praying to Krishna for arranging a qualified priest. I didn't want some random person reciting some mantra. Krishna by His causeless mercy arranged a Vaishnava Priest which was very unlikely. We were extremely delighted by it.

He opened the panjika and said - uncle left his body without any dosha. Hare Krishna!!! Rusha and I understood all the rules and regulations that had to be followed. We called our Shiksha guru and other senior devotees and sought their guidance.

Everything was going perfectly, but still, we found something lacking. We realized we were not having Krishna in the event. We didn't know what to do. Suddenly it flashed to us about The One Single Family Srila Prabhupada made for us - ISKCON.

We immediately contacted the Jamshedpur ISKCON Temple and requested the devotees to help us by performing a small Kirtan at our home. We were telling them the mercy of Narasimha Dev on my uncle, hearing which they suggested performing an Aarti along with reciting the 108 Names of Narasimha Dev and performing Tulsi Daan to the Lord. Since it was the month of Gita Jayanti (month during which Krishna actually spoke Bhagavad Gita to Arjuna), we also shared our desire to donate Bhagavad Gita on behalf of my uncle.

We had invited all the neighbors and relatives to our home for the evening.

The devotees arrived, performed the kirtan, Sandhya Aarti, Tulasi Aarti, recited 108 names of Narasimha Dev, performed congregational chanting with everyone who had attended. The entire atmosphere had become purely ecstatic.


A Witness to the mercy padaseva.in


Seeing the merciful support of Krishna, we dared to desire another impossible task - feeding Krishna Prasad to the shraddha invitees. Krishna arranged a vegetarian cook and we came up with a purely vegetarian menu - without onion and garlic. The only task remaining was to offer the food to the Lord.

The next day we had the shraddha ceremony. The ritual was performed with Narayan Shila. Vishnu was worshiped and offered food. The ceremony ended with Hare Krishna Mahamantra.

We also distributed Srila Prabhupada's Bhagavad Gita As It Is to our relatives, neighbors, and everyone who attended shraddha, on behalf of my uncle.

Krishna managed us through this day gracefully.

However, the last day was a bit critical for us. This is the day when people eat flesh, against scriptural guidance. Since the first day, there were already topics on bringing flesh, which were being discussed by my relatives. The argument given to my father was, my uncle used to love fish so this event will make my uncle happy.

We (my mother, Rusha and myself) didn't want any bloodshed. My father was in an awkward situation. He didn't want to offend our relatives.

Again we had no one other than Govinda. We all prayed to Him for He is the ultimate controller.

To our surprise, the next morning, suddenly my relatives called my father and they themselves said  -"you are performing the rituals in a pure Vaishnava way, we do not want to hamper it. We can have a non-vegetarian diet at our home. No need to bring any flesh in this house."

Internally we were extremely relieved and couldn't thank Krishna enough for turning the situation around.

Thus in every part of the ritual, Krishna helped us in every step. Krishna is the greatest mystic who can do wonders. Not even a single blade of grass can move without His will.

arjuna uvāca
kṛṣṇa kṛṣṇa mahā-bāho
bhaktānām abhayaṅkara
tvam eko dahyamānānām
apavargo 'si saṁsṛteḥ

"Arjuna said: O my Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa, You are the almighty Personality of Godhead. There is no limit to Your different energies. Therefore only You are competent to instill fearlessness in the hearts of Your devotee. Everyone in the flames of material miseries can find the path of liberation in You only."
[Srimad Bhagavatam - 1.7.22]


CONCLUSION


We do not know how many flaws we had during the execution of our duties, but, one thing we all are sure of is - wherever my Uncle is today, he is under the protection of Krishna.

From the episode of my uncle, we have learned many great lessons.

  • Krishna is Ocean of Mercy - Karunasindhu
  • Krishna - is The Supreme Personality of Godhead and hence Only He can save us from any calamity.
  • Krishna takes care of every need of His devotee, even his last rites. Hence instead of depending upon material objects - money, family, relatives, society, we must depend solely upon Krishna.
  • Even if someone gets deviated from the path of Krishna Consciousness and forgets Him, Krishna never forgets or leaves His devotees.
  • Association shapes our consciousness. We must voluntarily hanker for the association of devotees of the Lord.
  • We get Krishna's mercy when our life is guarded by devotees and nourished by their prayers.
  • Mayavad is the deadliest terrorist in the land of spirituality. We must be extremely careful and avoid them / their philosophy.
  • Krishna Consciousness is a time-proven science and is experienceable if received through a bonafide Sampradaya 
  • We must keep on endeavoring, but keeping in mind that no one else can plan and orchestrate it better than Krishna. Hence surrender unto Him.
  • A Vaishnava (devotee) is our true well-wisher because only he understands the science of Soul and Soul's relation with God
  • The only asset that we can accumulate in this material world is the mercy of Krishna and His Devotees.
  • Have unflinching faith upon Krishna.
If you remain a pure devotee, always surrendered to Krsna, you should know it very well that Krsna will give you protection in any calamity. Don’t be worried. Simply we must have the faith. That is surrender. Surrender means avasya raksibe krsna, visvasa palana [Saranagati].
[Srila Prabhupada’s lecture on Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.9.37 – March 15, 1976, Mayapur]
  • As described in the below verse, there is no loss in the path of Krishna Consciousness, rather it saves us from the greatest fear.
nehābhikrama-nāśo ’sti
pratyavāyo na vidyate
sv-alpam apy asya dharmasya
trāyate mahato bhayāt
In this endeavor there is no loss or diminution, and a little advancement on this path can protect one from the most dangerous type of fear.
[Bhagavad Gita 2.40]

  • We simply need to surrender onto Krishna (by following His instructions) as suggested below, and He shall deliver us. We need not fear. 
sarva-dharmān parityajya
mām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ vraja
ahaṁ tvāṁ sarva-pāpebhyo
mokṣayiṣyāmi mā śucaḥ
Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reactions. Do not fear.
[Bhagavad Gita - 18.66]


  • Art of dying as a human is to be Krishna Conscious at the time of death. The consciousness (or state of mind) one is during dying, determines his next life. Failure of human birth is if one falls down to animal life. 
yaṁ yaṁ vāpi smaran bhāvaṁ
tyajaty ante kalevaram
taṁ tam evaiti kaunteya
sadā tad-bhāva-bhāvitaḥ

Whatever state of being one remembers when he quits his body, O son of Kuntī, that state he will attain without fail.
[Bhagavad Gita 8.6]

***

Before ending this article, I would like to offer my heartfelt gratitude towards my office management for granting me leave, my office team-mates for supporting during my leave, neighbors, and relatives for their support, my brother- Anupam and his good wife, Tandrima, who were tirelessly supporting us in spite of their hectic professional life, my aunts for their guidance, my wife, Rusha for being my strength and for her service, my parents for demonstrating how to selflessly serve / take care of someone and for tolerating me and all my demands and to surrender to Krishna without any question, all the devotees who have sincerely prayed for my uncle, HG Vallabh Chaitanya Prabhu, HG Sri Govind Ghosh Prabhu, HG Chaitanya Madhav Prabhu, HG Kanai Nathshala Prabhu (our Shiksha Gurus) for guiding us in every phase of our life, HG Tushtha Gopal Prabhu and his team of devotees from Jamshedpur ISKCON for their unending support, our beloved Guru Maharaj- HH Radhanath Swami Maharaj for His mercy and shelter,  Srila Prabhupada for descending and creating a genuine family for us in the form of ISKCON, and finally All Merciful Sri Krishna for orchestrating everything and for staying by our side always.


***


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Corona Virus Pandemic - Lessons Learnt | COVID-19

Look at the situation today, nature has brought us down on our knees. We always thought that we are the controller and all other living entities are under our command. But today there is a reversal of roles. Everyone is in a state of panic. Everyone is in fear of being harmed by a minuscule organism just a few nanometers in size, which cannot be seen even with an ordinary microscope. Did we ever imagine that we could face such a calamity? The virus initially appeared in one country, and then spread nation by nation to more than 80 countries. We are seeing the world’s greatest pandemic.

Today the world has come to a complete halt. With the cessation of travel and transport, all types of business, trade, and markets are in turmoil and panic.

On the other hand, air pollution is at an all-time low, dolphin fishes have been spotted in the oceans, numerous birds can now be seen and heard. What do all these mean?


Corona Virus Pandemic - Lessons Learnt | COVID-19 | Padaseva.in

Why has this happened?

Man has only thought about himself and exploited all the rest for his advantage. We have looked at our own needs and comfort, and depleted mother earth of her resources. Our selfish desires and greed have resulted in so many serious problems. Today most of the major concerns including air pollution, sound pollution, water pollution, food adulteration, global warming and many more issues, are all because we directly or indirectly seek wealth and power. It is because of these problems, that malignancies and many morbid diseases are on the rise.

Due to lust we want to be enjoyers in all situations and are always striving for sense gratification at any cost.

This creation is God’s will, where He desires that all species of animals and plants live in harmony. But we are not willing to live in harmony with the will of God. Out of greed and selfishness, we kill animals, capture and trade beautiful birds and animals/animal parts, all to satisfy our selfish desires/lust. Today, rivers and oceans are polluted with toxic chemicals and waste, killing fishes and various types of aquatic life. Uncontrolled fishing has depleted the reserves resulting in an imbalance in aquatic life. Similarly, marine life has been endangered due to plastics, oil spills, etc., again due to our selfish desires. Forests and green cover is much reduced than what it was decades ago. The decline in trees and vegetation has adversely affected birds and animals.

Though science and technology have advanced by leaps and bounds, where are we today? We are all with masks behind bars, until when - no one knows. Man has traveled to the moon, sent satellites into space, developed nuclear warfare and we thought we are in control and command. But do we have any solutions for the crisis today? We are struggling – we have no answers despite many scientific and medical advancements. As has been quoted by HH Radhanath Swami Maharaj – "Money, power and knowledge are great assets when used with compassion." But today, with such reckless animal slaughter where is the compassion and where have human values gone? We have misused our power and will.

This is nature’s way of teaching mankind a lesson, it is nature’s curse.


What do our scriptures say?

The present pandemic which has caused much panic, distress and terror is a repercussion to the way we have treated mother earth. We have disobeyed God’s will, harmed His creation and creatures. This is a reaction to our sinful actions.

We are ignorant of the fact that we are not the enjoyers or proprietors; rather we are the Lord’s parts and parcels and His eternal servants. We are ignorant of the fact that we are only caretakers of our surroundings and property. The true proprietor is the Lord. He is the true controller and enjoyer.

In the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna says that sense gratification ultimately leads to misery.

A person in full consciousness of me, knowing me to be the ultimate beneficiary of all sacrifices and austerities, the Supreme Lord of all planets and demigods, and the benefactor and well-wisher of all living entities, attains peace from the pangs of material miseries.
[Bhagavad Gita 5.29]

The senses, the mind and the intelligence are the sitting places of this lust. Through them lust covers the real knowledge of the living entity and bewilders him.
[Bhagavad Gita 3.40]

The senses, mind and intelligence are the seats of lust, and we should try to control/check our senses and mind. Sense gratification gives only transient pleasures and ultimately we face miseries.



What must we do now?

We are witnessing the reaction to our sins. This is nature’s revenge on mankind.

It’s time we introspect and rethink. It’s time we mend our ways.

We must learn to use money, power, knowledge with compassion.

Consuming sattvic food is one way we could save mother earth.

It is when we face troubles that we turn to God. We should try to change, take care of His creation and His creatures. We must take care of planet earth so that all species live in harmony.

In essence, we must live and let live.


***


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If Krishna is all merciful, why is there so much suffering?

Each one of us in our lives has felt pain and sorrow. This could have been due to any of the reasons including - disease and illness, financial crisis, marital discord, professional and career-related tension and anxiety, relationship turmoil etc. When we are faced with such problems in life we often think - why me?  When we see the intense suffering of our close relative or friend, the thought which crosses our mind is - if God is merciful, how can He be so harsh? If Krishna is "Karuna Sindhu" and "Deena Bandhu", why is there so much suffering? Besides this we also see in our daily lives, bad things happening to good people - why is God so unkind and unfair? Do our scriptures have answers to these questions – let’s see.



If Krishna is all merciful, why is there so much suffering? padaseva.in




A. The root cause of suffering is Ignorance (avidya).


We are ignorant of the fact that we are not the enjoyers or proprietors; rather we are Krishna’s eternal servants.

The Lord is the supreme controller, proprietor and enjoyer. He is supreme, we are His subordinate; He is the master we are His servants. Problems arise because we want to be the enjoyer. We have a pleasure-seeking attitude and are always searching for honor, power, prestige and wealth. This is because we are conditioned souls. Conditioned by the three modes of material nature   (the three gunas – sattva, raja, tama) and bewildered by ahankar or the false ego, we have endless desires (lust). In the scriptures, it is stated that the Lord is the enjoyer and we are his eternal servants. However, under the influence of the false ego and driven by lust, we strive to satisfy our senses and fulfill our desires. Our scriptures explain:

prakṛteḥ kriyamāṇāni
guṇaiḥ karmāṇi sarvaśaḥ
ahaṅkāra-vimūḍhātmā
kartāham iti manyate

The spirit soul bewildered by the influence of false ego thinks himself the doer of activities that are in actuality carried out by the three modes of material nature.
[Bhagavad Gita - 3.27]


bhoktāraṁ yajña-tapasāṁ
sarva-loka-maheśvaram
suhṛdaṁ sarva-bhūtānāṁ
jñātvā māṁ śāntim ṛcchati

A person in full consciousness of Me, knowing Me to be the ultimate beneficiary of all sacrifices and austerities, the Supreme Lord of all planets and demigods, and the benefactor and well-wisher of all living entities, attains peace from the pangs of material miseries.
[Bhagavad Gita - 5.29]


In "The Nectar of Devotion", which is a summary study of Srila Rupa Goswami's "Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu", Srila Prabhupada writes -



As long as one is ignorant about his identity, he is sure to act wrongly and thereby become entangled in material contamination.
[The Nectar of Devotion, Chapter 1]



jīvera ‘svarūpa’ haya — kṛṣṇera ‘nitya-dāsa’
kṛṣṇera ‘taṭasthā-śakti’ ‘bhedābheda-prakāśa’

“It is the living entity’s constitutional position to be an eternal servant of Kṛṣṇa because he is the marginal energy of Kṛṣṇa and a manifestation simultaneously one with and different from the Lord
[Sri Chaitanya Charitamrita Madhya-Lila 20.108]



Hence because of ignorance we are overcome by lust, we desire to enjoy and then we commit sins. If we realize our true identity and accept the fact that the Lord is the ultimate enjoyer, we could avoid miseries and suffering.

B.       Sense gratification ultimately leads to misery. 


In the Bhagawad Gita Lord Krishna says that sense gratification ultimately leads to misery. As living entities we all possess ahankar. As stated in the Bhagavad Gita, it is the ahankar which gives us the feeling of ‘I’, ‘me’ and ‘mine’.  Arising from the ahankar we have six vices or enemies also called shad-ripu. Subject to these weaknesses and driven by kama (lust) and lobha (greed), we continually seek sense gratification and are slaves to our senses. Sense pleasures are always temporary and soon after satisfying one desire, another desire is awaiting to be fulfilled.


ye hi saṁsparśa-jā bhogā
duḥkha-yonaya eva te
ādy-antavantaḥ kaunteya
na teṣu ramate budhaḥ

An intelligent person does not take part in the sources of misery, which are due to contact with the material senses. O son of Kuntī, such pleasures have a beginning and an end, and so the wise man does not delight in them.
[Bhagavad Gita - 5.22]

In order to fulfill our desires, we are often compelled to commit sinful actions and then suffer.

śrī-bhagavān uvāca
kāma eṣa krodha eṣa
rajo-guṇa-samudbhavaḥ
mahāśano mahā-pāpmā
viddhy enam iha vairiṇam

The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: It is lust only, Arjuna, which is born of contact with the material mode of passion and later transformed into wrath, and which is the all-devouring sinful enemy of this world.
[Bhagavad Gita - 3.37]

indriyāṇi mano buddhir
asyādhiṣṭhānam ucyate
etair vimohayaty eṣa
jñānam āvṛtya dehinam

The senses, the mind and the intelligence are the sitting places of this lust. Through them lust covers the real knowledge of the living entity and bewilders him.
[Bhagavad Gita - 3.40]

Hence the senses, mind and intelligence are the seats of lust. After sense gratification and transient pleasures, ultimately we face miseries.


C.      Suffering - a reaction to our sinful actions.


Suffering is due to sinful activities (papam) which are committed out of ignorance. Although sinful activities are committed out of ignorance, they are not free from reactions.

It is stated in the Padma Purāṇa that there are four kinds of effects of sinful activities:
(1) the effect that is not yet fructified,
(2) the effect that is lying as seed,
(3) the effect that is already mature and
(4) the effect that is almost mature.

Srila Prabhupad describes the effects of papam in the first chapter of Nectar of Devotion (a summary study of Srila Rupa Goswami's 'Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu):

Sinful actions or papam result in a chain reaction: aprarabdha or non-manifest suffering,  kutam or sinful disposition, bijam or sinful desires and prarabdha or manifest suffering.  When our sinful activities are mature, we suffer in our present lives (prarabdha); when sinful activities are immature, they are stored within us (kutam), awaiting distresses in the future. Sinful disposition (kutam) leads to sinful desires (bijam), and more sinful actions in a self-perpetuating cycle; i.e. the more we satisfy our desires the stronger they become. 

HH Radhanath Swami Maharaj a revered Bhakti yoga spiritual teacher writes in his book - Soul-wise "As you sow, so shall you reap".  The law of Karma, i.e.  the law of action and reaction takes into account every action we are doing, and that determines our fate. Consequent to this chain reaction arising from the sins we commit, we suffer distresses life afterlife.


D.     Why good people suffer?


As has been mentioned above; sinful actions produce two types of reactions- Prarabdha - manifest and Aprarabha – when the reaction is completely unmanifest and imperceptible. Hence for some sinful activities, there is distress at the present moment; while for others it is in waiting and will happen in the future. The suffering may not coincide with the sinful activity and since we are unaware of the person’s karma it would be inappropriate for us to judge. The person will suffer when the reactions to the sinful activities mature with time. The sinful reactions if immature, are stored as kutam, awaiting suffering in the future.



E.   The wise and saintly view of sufferings. 


Queen Kunti, mother of the Pandavas was a saintly person with very high moral values. At the end of the brutal Kurukshetra war, when Lord Krishna was departing for Dwarka, she recites prayers in glorification of the Lord. In these prayers, (Srimad-Bhagavatam, 1.8.18-43) she refers to the sufferings she had endured. Due to Duryodhana’s jealousy, Queen Kunti had encountered a lot of suffering. There were several assassination attempts on her family, their house (lakshagriha) was set on fire and her sons were forced to spend thirteen years in the forest in exile. However, Queen Kunti courageously endured these calamities, as she knew they were under the Lord’s protection and so they miraculously escaped each time. Despite such calamities, in her prayers she does not beg for relief; rather she pleads for more suffering, knowing that her suffering will increase her devotion for the Lord.

Queen Kunti’s prayed to Lord Krishna: 
I wish that all those calamities would happen again and again so that we could see You again and again, for seeing You means that we will no longer see repeated births and deaths.                           
[Srimad Bhagavatam 1.8.25]


It is very lucky to suffer if in that suffering one turns to God, and it is unlucky to be healthy, happy and successful if one does not turn to God.’’ 
[HH Radhanath Swami Maharaj on – ‘Lord Chaitanya the most munificent and merciful incarnation’.]

Hence misfortunes and troubles are an opportunity for us to turn to God.

 F.      Minimizing our suffering 


Sufferings are due to our sinful actions committed due to strong desires or lust. In order to abstain from sinful actions, one should conquer lust. It is said that lust can be conquered by using spiritual intelligence to control the senses and mind. Spiritual intelligence can be sharpened by guidance from guru, sadhu and shastras. Our scriptures explain:

śrī-bhagavān uvāca
kāma eṣa krodha eṣa
rajo-guṇa-samudbhavaḥ
mahāśano mahā-pāpmā
viddhy enam iha vairiṇam

The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: It is lust only, Arjuna, which is born of contact with the material mode of passion and later transformed into wrath, and which is the all-devouring sinful enemy of this world.
[Bhagavad Gita - 3.37]

This lust is what instigates one to commit sin.

tasmāt tvam indriyāṇy ādau
niyamya bharatarṣabha
pāpmānaṁ prajahi hy enaṁ
jñāna-vijñāna-nāśanam

Therefore, O Arjuna, best of the Bhāratas, in the very beginning curb this great symbol of sin [lust] by regulating the senses, and slay this destroyer of knowledge and self-realization.
[Bhagavad Gita - 3.41]

Reactions to sinful actions can be minimized by devotional service. Charity and austerity, can free us only temporarily from the reactions of sinful activities but devotional service, eradicates aprarabdha, kutam, bijam and prarabdha reactions.


... as the blazing fire can burn any amount of fuel to ashes, so devotional service to the Lord in Kṛṣṇa consciousness can burn up all the fuel of sinful activities.
[The Nectar of Devotion, Chapter 1]
 

Similarly, Lord Krishna instructs Uddhava -

yathagnih su-samriddharcih
karoty edhamsi bhasmasat
tatha mad-vishaya bhaktir
uddhavainamsi kritsnasah

My dear Uddhava, just as a blazing fire turns firewood into ashes, similarly, devotion unto Me completely burns to ashes sins committed by My devotees.
[Srimad Bhagavatam 11.14.19]


Our scriptures also state that this material world is full of miseries. Even when great incarnations descend into this material world, they suffer, eg. Lord Rama had to undergo severe hardships and sufferings. Lord Krishna states in the Bhagawad Gita that this world is ‘dukhalayam asasvatam’ and that one who attains the Lord's abode never returns to this temporary world. The same is also reiterated in the Srimad Bhagavatam, where Sukadev Goswami says  - this material world is not actually a place of residence for an intelligent person or a devotee because here there is danger at every step.  Vaikuṇṭha (place without anxiety) is the real home for the devotee, for there is no anxiety and no danger.

mām upetya punar janma
duḥkhālayam aśāśvatam
nāpnuvanti mahātmānaḥ
saṁsiddhiṁ paramāṁ gatāḥ

After attaining Me, the great souls, who are yogīs in devotion, never return to this temporary world, which is full of miseries, because they have attained the highest perfection.
[Bhagavad Gita - 8.15]


In Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (10.14.58) it is said: padaṁ padaṁ yad vipadāṁ na teṣām.

ā-brahma-bhuvanāl lokāḥ
punar āvartino ’rjuna
mām upetya tu kaunteya
punar janma na vidyate

From the highest planet in the material world down to the lowest, all are places of misery wherein repeated birth and death take place. But one who attains to My abode, O son of Kuntī, never takes birth again.
[Bhagavad Gita - 8.16]



All the scriptures and religions of the world give a common message  - the material world is a place of suffering.  The soul is eternal, it can find no happiness in the temporary enjoyments of this world and those who are intelligent make their goal the spiritual world and do not find happiness in this material world.
[HH Radhanath Swami Maharaj:: Material world – a place of suffering at every step.]

Conclusion

  • Sufferings are due to sinful actions committed out of ignorance due to lust.
  • Sinful actions generate reactions with suffering in the present or subsequent life.
  • All material pleasures are transient; sense enjoyment ultimately ends in misery.
  • To prevent sinful actions we must conquer lust, and lust can be conquered by controlling our senses and mind using spiritual intelligence.
  • Sufferings can be reduced by devotional service which can consume limitless amounts of un-manifested sinful reactions.
  • We should consider ourselves fortunate to suffer if in that suffering we turn to God.  It is in difficult, troubled times that our dependence on the Lord’s mercy is awakened within us; we pray sincerely, and prayer unites us with God.


***



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