Awkwardness gives me great comfort. I’ve never been cool, but I’ve felt cool. I’ve been in the cool place, but I wasn’t really cool – I was trying to pass for hip or cool.

A girl should be two things: classy and fabulous. I am convinced that there can be luxury in simplicity. I wanted to dress the woman who lives and works, not the woman in a painting. It’s hard to balance everything. It’s always challenging. My relationships with producers or photographers – these are relationships that took years. I can’t get sucked into that celebrity thing, because I think it’s just crass. My aim is to make the poor look rich.

Who am I?

Am I the body, mind or something more? These are the age old questions that
every philosopher throughout the ages has tried to grasp and understand. After
all, how will you know what to do in life if you do not even know who or what
you are? However, the ancient Vedic literature of India has provided the
clearest answers that have been found anywhere to answer these questions.

For example, the Mundaka Upanishad (3.1.9) explains that the living being is
the soul, and that: “The soul is atomic in size and can be perceived by perfect
intelligence. This atomic soul is situated within the heart, and spreads its
influence all over the body of the embodied living entities. When the soul is
purified from the contamination of the five kinds of material air, its
spiritual influence is exhibited.”

The Chandogya Upanishad (6.11.3) also states that although the body withers
and dies when the self or soul leaves it, the living self does not die. 
Further enlightenment is given in the Srimad-Bhagavatam (7.2.22) wherein it
explains that the spirit soul has no death and is eternal and inexhaustible. He
is completely different from the material body, but because of being misled by
misuse of his slight independence, he is obliged to accept subtle and gross
bodies created by the material energy and thus be subjected to so-called
material happiness and distress.

The eternal nature of the self is also explained in Bhagavad-gita by Lord
Sri Krishna where He specifically says that there was never a time when He did
not exist, nor any of the living beings, including you. Nor shall any of us
cease to be in the future. The embodied soul continually passes from boyhood to
youth to old age in this body. Similarly the soul enters another body at the
time of death. But for one who is self-realized, there is no bewilderment
through such a change.

It is further explained that we should know that which pervades the entire
body by consciousness is indestructible. No one is able to destroy the
imperishable soul. Only the material body of the eternal living entity is
subject to destruction. . . For the soul there is never birth nor death. Nor,
having once been, does he ever cease to be. He is unborn, undying and eternal.
He is not slain when the body dies or is killed. . . As a person puts on new
garments, giving up old ones, similarly, the soul accepts new material bodies,
giving up the old and useless ones.

Certainly this knowledge can relieve anyone from the anxiety that comes from
thinking our existence is finished at death. Spiritually, we do not die; yet,
the body is used until it is no longer fit to continue. At that time, it may
appear that we die, but that is not the case. The soul continues on its journey
to another body according to its destiny.

The indestructibility of the soul is also explained. The individual soul is
unbreakable and insoluble, and can be neither burned nor dried. The soul is
everlasting, unchangeable, and eternally the same. Knowing this, we should not
grieve for the temporary body.

So, the body dwindles and dies but the soul does not die: it simply changes
bodies. Therefore, the body is like a shirt or coat that we wear for some time,
and when it is worn out, we change it for a new one. Therefore, the Vedic
literature, such as the Chandogya Upanishad (8.1.1), mentions that knowledge of
the self within is what should be sought and understood by all. Realizing one’s
spiritual identity solves the problems and mysteries of life.

The more we realize our spiritual identity, the more we will see that we are
beyond these temporary material bodies, and that our identity is not simply
being a white body, or black, or yellow, or fat, skinny, intelligent, dumb,
old, young, strong, weak, blind, etc. Real blindness means not being able to
see through the temporary and superficial bodily conditions and into the real
person within. Seeing reality means to recognize the spiritual nature of

The Srimad-Bhagavatam (11.28.35) explains that the soul is self-luminous,
beyond birth and death, and unlimited by time or space and, therefore, beyond
all change. The Bhagavatam (11.22.50) also points out that as one witnesses the
birth and death of a tree and is separate from it, similarly the witness of the
birth, death, and various activities of the body is within but separate from

The size of the soul is also described in the Svetasvatara Upanishad (5.9):
“When the upper point of a hair is divided into one hundred parts and again
each of such parts is further divided into one hundred parts, each such part is
the measurement of the dimension of the spirit soul.” So considering that the
diameter of a typical hair is about three-thousandths of an inch wide, then to
divide that into one hundreds parts, and then divide one of those parts again
into one hundred parts means that it would be microscopic. And since it is
spiritual and not made of material substance, to perceive the presence of the
soul is not so easy. It is invisible to our material vision.

The Katha Upanishad relates that within the body, higher than the senses and
the sense objects, exists the mind. More subtle than the mind is the
intelligence, and higher and more subtle than the intellect is the self. That
self is hidden in all beings and does not shine forth, but is seen by subtle
seers through their sharp intellect.

From this we can understand that within the gross physical body, composed of
various material elements, such as earth, air, water, etc., there is also the
subtle body composed of the finer subtle elements of mind, intelligence and
false ego. The psychic activities take place within the subtle body. It is also
within the subtle body wherein exist the memories of past lives, however deep
they may be. Yet, the living being has his spiritual form that is deeper than
this subtlety, otherwise he could not have repeated births. A person actually
sees his spiritual self as well as the presence   of  
the   Supreme   Being   when   he
perceives that both the gross and subtle bodies have nothing to do with the
pure, spiritual self within. Therefore, it could be asked that since we are
separate from the gross and subtle bodies, why do we so strongly identify with
the material body? It is explained that though the material body is different
from the soul, it is because of the ignorance due to material association that
one falsely identifies oneself with the high and low bodily conditions.

It is further elaborated that only because of the mind and ego that we
experience material happiness and distress. Yet, in actuality, the spirit soul
is above such material existence and can never really be affected by material
happiness and distress in any circumstance. A person who truly perceives this
has nothing to fear from the material creation, or the appearance of births and
deaths. Thus, he can attain real peace.

The Chandogya Upanishad (8.1.5-6) goes on to explain that the self is free
from sin and old age, death and grief, hunger and thirst, lamentation and
sadness, and all forms of bodily identification. It desires only what it ought
to desire, and imagines nothing but what it ought to imagine. Those who depart
from this life without having discovered the self and those true or spiritual
desires have no freedom in all the worlds. But those who depart from here after
realizing one’s genuine spiritual identity and those spiritual inclinations
have freedom in all the worlds.

So, to summarize, the soul is a particle of consciousness and bliss in its
purified state of being. It is not material in any way. It is what departs from
the body at the time of death and, in the subtle body, carries its mental
impressions, desires and tendencies, along with the karmic results of its
activities from one body to another. To understand and perceive this self,
which is our genuine spiritual identity, is the real goal of life. Such a
realization relieves one of further material existence. As it is explained,
those who have purified their consciousness, becoming absorbed in spiritual
knowledge and absolving any impurities in the mind, are liberated from karma
that frees them from any future births. They are free from any more births in
the material world and are delivered to the spiritual atmosphere. How to do
this is the ultimate accomplishment of human existence.

Thank you for reading

Hare Krishna

What is the goal of life?

We are not this body. We are spirit souls. We are part and parcel of the
Supreme absolute – Sri Krishna. The goal of our life is to establish the lost
connection with the Supreme Personality – Sri Krishna.

All of us are looking for love. However, we are trying to search for so called
love in this material world – a world which is full of greed, envy, lust,
anger, false ego, illusion. This material world is full of sorrow and misery.
It is a temporary world. One can land into problems at any step. Thus our
attempts to find real happiness in this material world invariably ends up in
frustration. Real happiness can be found when we reawaken the dormant love or
Krishna consciousness. Human life is a chance for us to reestablish this

Krishna consciousness is achieved by always thinking of Him by chanting His
holy name, serving him, serving his devotees and by spreading the glories of
holy name.

Thus, when we are engaged in Krishna consciousness, we experience the
highest transcendental love – love of Krishna, the Supreme personality of
Godhead or prema bhakti. Achieving prema bhakti is the goal of life. A life of
eternity, knowledge and bliss!


What is Karma?

Karma is one of those topics that many people know a little about, but few
understand the intricacies of it. To start with, Newton's third law of motion
states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. On the
universal scale, this is the law of karma. The law of karma basically states
that every action has a reaction and whatever you do to others will later
return to you. Furthermore, ignorance of the law is no excuse. We are still
accountable for everything we do, regardless of whether we understand it or
not. Therefore, the best thing is to learn how it works.

If everyone understood the law of karma, we would all be living a happier
life in a brighter world. Why? Because we could know how to adjust our lives so
we would not be suffering the constant reactions of what we have done due to
the false aims of life.

According to Vedic literature, karma is the law of cause and effect. For
every action there is a cause as well as a reaction. Karma is produced by
performing fruitive activities for bodily or mental development. One may
perform pious activities that will produce good reactions or good karma for
future enjoyment. Or one may perform selfish or what some call sinful
activities that produce bad karma and future suffering. This follows a person
wherever he or she goes in this life or future lives. Such karma, as well as
the type of consciousness a person develops, establishes reactions that one
must experience.

The Svetashvatara Upanishad (5.12) explains that the living being, the jiva
soul, acquires many gross physical and subtle bodies due to the actions he
performs, as is motivated by the material qualities to which he obtains. These
bodies that are acquired continue to be a source of illusion as long as he is
ignorant of his real identity.

The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad (4.45) further clarifies that as the atma or
soul in the gross and subtle bodies acts, so thereby he obtains different
conditions. By acting saintly he becomes a saint, and by acting immorally he
becomes subject to the karmic consequences. In this way, he accrues piety or
the burden of impiety accordingly.

Similarly, it is stated that as a man sows, so shall he reap. Therefore, as
people live their present life, they cultivate a particular type of
consciousness by their thoughts and activities, which may be good or bad. This
creates a person’s karma.

This karma will direct us into a body that is most appropriate for the
reactions that we need to endure, or the lessons we need to learn. Thus, the
cause of our existence comes from the activities of our previous lives. Since
everything is based on a cause, it is one’s karma that will determine one’s
situation, such as race, color, sex, or area of the world in which one will
appear, or whether one is born in a rich or poor family, or be healthy or
unhealthy, etc., etc.

What is Reincarnation?

Reincarnation is called samsara in the classic Vedic texts of India. The
word samsara is Sanskrit and means being bound to the cycle of repeated birth
and death through numerous lifetimes. How this works is that those who are
materially conditioned transmigrate through different bodies according to one’s
desires and past activities (or karma) and familiarities. Their desires, if
materially motivated, requires a physical body to enable them to continue to
work out their material longings in various conditions of life.

Generally, in the Eastern traditions it is considered that all forms of life
or species have souls, which is the entity who reincarnates. Previous to when
an entity is ready to incarnate as a human being on Earth, the soul may have
gone through a whole series of lives in order to experience various levels of
existence and consciousness. The principle is that an entity may actually
progress through the different species of life, gradually working their way up
until they reach the human form. Of course, the body is only the covering of
the soul in which it appears. The living being will continually move upward in
its cycles of reincarnation until it has experienced all the main varieties of
existences that the material realm has to offer. This way the living being is
fully experienced in working out material desires or longings in all kinds of
forms by the time it reaches the human stage. Of course, not every being may
have to go through all of this.

How reincarnation works is most elaborately described in the Vedic texts of
India. The Bhagavad-gita (8.6) explains that whatever state of consciousness
one attains when he or she quits this body, a similar state will be attained in
the next life. This means that after the person has lived his or her life, the
numerous variegated activities of the person forms an aggregated consciousness.
All of our thoughts and actions throughout our life will collectively influence
the state of being we are in at the time of death. This consciousness will
determine what that person is thinking of at the end of one’s life. This last
thought and consciousness will then direct where that person will most likely
go in the next life because this state of being carries over from this life
into the next.

As it is further explained, the living entity in the material world carries
the different levels of consciousness from one body to another in the same way
the air carries aromas. In other words, we cannot see the aromas that the air
carries, yet it can be perceived by the sense of smell. In a similar way, we
cannot see the types of consciousness that the living being has developed, but
it is carried from this body at the time of death and proceeds to another body
in the next life to take up where it left off from the preceding existence. Of
course, the next life may be in another physical body or in a subtle body in
between births, or even in heavenly or hellish states of being.

After death, one continues the consciousness that was cultivated during
life. It is our thought patterns that build the consciousness, which then directs
us toward the required experience after death. One’s state of consciousness or
conception of life exists in the subtle body, which consists of mind,
intelligence and false ego. The soul is covered by this subtle body, which
exists within the gross material form. When the physical vehicle can no longer
function, the subtle body and soul are forced out of it. Then, when the time is
right, they are placed in another physical frame which properly accommodates
the state of mind of the living entity. This is how the mental state which
attracts the dying man determines how he begins his next life. If the dying man
is absorbed in thoughts of material gain or sensual pleasures of wife, family,
relatives, home, etc., then he must, at some point, get another material body
to continue pursuing his worldly interests. After all, how can one satisfy his
material desires without a material body?

For this reason, it is best that a person always cultivate pious activities
and spiritual thoughts to help him or her enter a better life after death. If a
person has tried to cut the knots of attachment to materialistic life, and
engaged in spiritual activities, to the degree of advancement the person has
made, he or she can go to a heavenly realm after death, or even reach the kingdom
of God.

In any case, we can begin to understand that dying in the right
consciousness in order to become free from the cycle of birth and death is an
art that takes practice. We have to prepare for the moment of death so that we
are not caught off guard or in an unsuitable state of mind. This is one of the
purposes of yoga.

After what can be millions of births and deaths through many forms of life,
trying to satisfy all of one’s material desires, the soul may begin to get
tired of these continuous attempts for happiness that often turn out to be so
temporary. Then the person may turn toward finding spiritual meaning in life.
In one’s search for higher meaning, depending on the level of consciousness
that a person develops, he or she can gradually enter higher and higher levels
of development. Finally, if a person detects that he is actually not this body
but a spiritual being within it, and reaches a spiritual level of
consciousness, he can perfect his life so that he will enter the spiritual
strata and no longer have to incarnate in the physical world. Thus, liberation
is attained through Self-realization and the development of devotional service
to God, which is the perfection of the spiritual path. Through human existence
on Earth, the doorway to many other planes of existence is possible, including
entrance into the spiritual world. It only depends on how we use this life.

The idea that a person has only one life to either become qualified to enter
heaven or enter eternal damnation offers the soul no means of rehabilitation
and only endless misery. This is not reasonable. The doctrine of reincarnation
gives anyone ample scope to correct and re-educate himself in future births. An
eternity in hell means that an infinite effect is produced by a finite cause,
which is illogical. God has not created men to become nothing more than
ever-lasting fuel to feed the fires of hell. Such a purpose in His creation
would not come from an ever-loving God, but comes from the faulty ideas of man
and his imperfect conceptions of God. After all, how many spotless men could
there be in this world? Who has such a pure character to receive an immediate
pass to heaven? The Bhagavad-gita explains that even the worst sinner can cross
the ocean of birth and death by ascending the boat of transcendental knowledge.
We simply have to be sincere in reaching that boat.

Furthermore, a person reaps the results of his sinful deeds for a limited
amount of time. After being purged of one’s sins, meaning suffering the painful
reactions from one’s bad activities, a person, knowing right from wrong, can
have a fresh chance to freely work for his emancipation from further
entanglement in material life. When he deserves and attains such freedom, the
soul can enjoy perfect and eternal bliss in its devotional union with the
Supreme Being. This is why it is always encouraged for one to strive for
spiritual knowledge and the practice of enlightenment. By developing sincere
and purified devotion for the Lord, one does not have to worry about one’s future
birth. Once a person has started this path of devotion, each life will take one
closer to spiritual perfection, in whatever situation one finds him or herself.

So a person is encouraged to repent for one’s sins or ill choices that were
made while under the influence of lust, anger or greed, and cultivate
forgiveness, purity and generosity. A person should also engage in charity,
penance, meditation, japa (personal chanting of the Lord’s holy names), kirtan
(congregational singing of the Lord’s holy names), and other spiritual
practices, which destroy all sins and removes all doubts about spiritual
knowledge. Then through steady practice one can gradually reach the spiritual
world and be free from any further entanglement in reincarnation.

Who is Krishna?

In the philosophy of Bhakti Yoga, the Absolute Truth is known as a person.
His name is Krishna, a Sanskrit word which means “all attractive”.

Krishna is the all attractive object of your soul’s love. Every living being
is seeking pleasure. The essence of pleasure is the pleasure of love. We need
it. Without loving someone and being loved by someone, life is very empty and
superficial. The origin of that love is the soul’s love for God and God’s love
for the soul. We are attracted by someone who is beautiful, someone who is
powerful, someone who is learned, someone who is famous, someone who is
renounced, someone who has wealth. These are opulences that attract our heart.
The name Krishna means, he possesses all opulences in full. He is the source
all beauty, all strength, all knowledge, all wealth, all fame, and all
renunciation. And Krishna’s love for the soul is unlimited and unconditional.
This is Krishna. He is our eternal father, our eternal mother, our eternal
friend, our eternal lover.

We could feel Krishna through the path of bhakti. Bhakti is the process God
has given us through which we could feel him 24 hours a day. Krishna is within
our hearts. Krishna is within the heart of every living being. Krishna is
inside every atom and in between atoms through his various energies. But
ultimately, the source of everything is that divine person, that all powerful,
all loving and all attractive person who we are eternally longing to be
reunited with. Bhakti Yoga means to be reunited with our source, with God,
through acts of devotion—by remembering about him, by chanting his names and
his glories, by praying to him, by worshiping the deity, by rendering service
to him, to his devotees and to all living beings. These are ways by which we
could always feel the presence of God.


What is Bhakti Yoga?

Bhakti is derived from the Sanskrit word bhaj, which means – loving service.
Yoga in Sanskrit means – connection. Bhakti yoga means to connect to the
supreme by means of loving pure devotional service.

We all have love or Bhakti within our self. However, it is in dormant state.
There is a simple way to awaken this dormant loving service to the supreme
personality of Godhead. This process is laid down by Lord Sri Krishna in
Bhagavad Gita. Lord Sri Chaitanya Mahabrabhu, the incarnation of Lord Krishna
in this present age has mercifully made this process very simple and enjoyable.
Srila prabhupada, the founder of ISKCON has made this process famous all over
the world.

The process of awakening love is not just purifying but also fully
satisfying. This purification process consists of three main principles –
Chanting, dancing & feasting.

Chanting of pure names of Lord can be done simply by regularly chanting Hare
Krishna mahamantra – Hare Krishna Hare Krishna / Krishna Krishna Hare Hare /
Hare Rama Hare Rama / Rama Rama Hare Hare. The chanting can be done as minimum
fixed rounds on japa mala or it can be done together in congregation with
musical instruments.

Dancing is also an important part of the purification to attain love.
Dancing is done gracefully in front of the Lord. Dancing engages our whole body
in glorification of the Supreme personality of Godhead.

Feasting means only eating food that has been specifically cooked and
lovingly offered to Lord Krishna. Such food or also called prasadam is free of
karma and does not entangle us in the cycle of repeated birth and death.


What is The International Society For Krishna Consciousness?

The International Society for Krishna Consciousness
was formed in 1966 by Prabhupada A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami, who came from India
on the order of his Spiritual Master to preach love of God to the people of the
West. Prabhupada is in a line of disciplic succession going back directly 500
years to the time when Lord Chaitanya appeared in India, and from there back
still further 5000 years to the time when Krishna first spoke The Bhagavad Gita
to His disciple Arjuna.

Krishna Consciousness is experienced as a process
of self purification. Its means and end are an open secret, and there is no
financial charge for learning Krishna Consciousness or receiving initiation
into the chanting of Hare Krishna. The gist of devotional service to Krishna is
that one takes whatever capacity or talent he or she has and dovetails it with
the interests of the Supreme Enjoyer, the Lord, Sri Krishna. The writer writes
articles for Krishna, and we publish periodicals in this way. The businessman
does business in order to establish many temples across the country. The
householders raise children in the science of God, and husband and wife live in
mutual cooperation for spiritual progress. These activities are done under the
sanction of the expert Spiritual Master, and in line with the Scriptures.
Devotional service in Krishna Consciousness means regular chanting in the
temple, hearing talks about the Pastimes of Krishna from SrimadBhagwatam, and
taking foodstuffs prepared for and offered to the Supreme Personality of

By books, literature and records, the Society is
dedicated to awakening the worldwide public to the normal, ecstatic state of
Krishna Consciousness, so that all may regain their eternal position of
favorably serving the will of Krishna. Sankirtan congregational chanting is
carried to the people: in public parks, schools, on t.v., in the theater, on
the streets. Krishna Consciousness is not an idler's philosophy. Rather by
chanting and by engagement in the service of Krishna, anyone who takes part
will experience the state of "Samadhi,” ecstatic absorption in
God-consciousness, 24 hours a day!

As the philosophy of Krishna Consciousness is
non-sectarian, any man, Hindu or Christian, will become better in his faith by
chanting the Holy Name of God and by hearing The Bhagavad Gita. Without
knowledge and realization and loving service to the One Supreme God, there can
be no religion. Let everyone rejoice in the Sankirtan Movement, and we may see
the fulfillment of the prediction made by Lord Chaitanya 500 years ago: that
the chanting of the Holy Names of God, Hare Krishna, would be carried to every
town and village of the world. Only in this way can real peace prevail. It is
sublime and easy.



Thank you!

Why be a Vegetarian?

On the spiritual path, there are several reasons why a person is recommended
to be vegetarian. One primary reason is that we need to see the spiritual
nature within all living beings, and that includes the animals and other
creatures as well. Universal brotherhood means nonviolence to both humans and
animals. It consists of understanding that animals also have souls. They are
alive, conscious, and feel pain. And these are the indications of the presence
of consciousness, which is the symptom of the soul. Even the Bible (Genesis
1.21; 1.24; 1.30; 2.7; and in many other places) refers to both animals and
people as nefesh chayah, living souls. Those who eat meat, however, because of
their desires to eat animals or see them as a source of food for one’s stomach,
are not so easily able to understand the spiritual nature of all beings. After
all, if you know that all living entities are spiritual in essence, and that
all living beings that are conscious show the symptoms of the soul within, then
how can you kill them unnecessarily? Any living creature is also the same as we
are in the respect that it is also a child of the same father, a part of the
same Supreme Being. Thus, the killing of animals shows a great lack in
spiritual awareness.

Many portions of the Vedic literature describe how the Supreme Being is the
maintainer of innumerable living entities, humans as well as the animals, and
is alive in the heart of every living being. Only those with spiritual
consciousness can see the same Supreme Being in His expansion as Supersoul
within every creature. To be kind and spiritual toward humans and be a killer
or enemy toward animals is not a balanced philosophy, and exhibits one’s
spiritual ignorance.

The next reason for being vegetarian is to consider the amount of fear and
suffering that animals experience in the slaughter industry. There are
countless stories of how in fear cows cry, scream, and sometimes fall down dead
while inside or even before they are taken into the slaughter house. Or how the
veins of dead pigs are so big that it shows they have practically exploded from
the fear the pig felt and the adrenalin that was produced while it was being
led to slaughter. This certainly causes an immense amount of violence to
permeate the atmosphere, which goes out and falls back on us in some form.
Furthermore, the adrenalin and fear in the animal also produces toxins which
then permeate the body of these animals, which meat-eaters ingest. People who
consume such things cannot help but be effected by it. It causes tensions
within them individually, which then spreads in their relations with others.

The ancient Vedic text of the Manu-samhita (5.45-8) says, “He who injures
innoxious beings from a wish to give himself pleasure never finds happiness,
neither living nor dead. He who does not seek to cause the suffering of bonds
and death to living creatures, but desires the good of all beings, obtains
endless bliss. . . Meat can never be obtained without injury to living
creatures, and injury to sentient beings is detrimental to the attainment of
heavenly bliss; let him therefore shun the use of meat.”

The Bible (Romans 14.21) also says, “It is neither good to eat flesh, nor to
drink wine.” Another biblical commandment (Exodus 23.5) instructs us to help
animals in pain, even if they belong to an enemy.

The Buddhist scripture (Sutta-Nipata 393) also advises: “Let him not destroy
or cause to be destroyed any life at all, or sanction the acts of those who do
so. Let him refrain from even hurting any creature, both those that are strong
and those that tremble in the world.” It is also said in the Buddhist
scripture, the Mahaparinirvana Sutra, “The eating of meat extinguishes the seed
of great compassion.”

For Jews, the Talmud (Avodah Zorah 18B) forbids the association with
hunters, not to mention engaging in hunting.

In the New Testament Jesus preferred mercy over sacrifice (Matthew 9.13;
12.7) and was opposed to the buying and selling of animals for sacrifice
(Matthew 21.12-14; Mark 11.15; John 2.14-15). One of the missions of Jesus was
to do away with animal sacrifice and cruelty to animals (Hebrews 10.5-10).

We especially find in Isaiah where Jesus scorns the slaughter and bloodshed
of humans and animals. He declares (1.15) that God does not hear the prayers of
animal killers: “But your iniquities have separated you and your God. And your
sins have hid His face from you, so that He does not hear. For your hands are
stained with blood. . . Their feet run to evil and they hasten to shed innocent
blood. . . they know not the ways of peace.” Isaiah also laments that he saw,
“Joy and merrymaking, slaughtering of cattle and killing of sheep, eating of
meat and drinking of wine, as you thought, ‘let us eat and drink, for tomorrow
we die.’” (22.13)

It is also established in the Bible (Isaiah 66.3), “He that killeth an ox is
as if he slew a man.” In this regard St. Basil (320-379 A.D.) taught, “The
steam of meat darkens the light of the spirit. One can hardly have virtue if
one enjoys meat meals and feasts.”

Thus, we should find alternatives to killing animals to satisfy our
appetites, especially when there are plenty of other healthy foods available.
Otherwise, there must be reactions to such violence. We cannot expect peace in
the world if we go on unnecessarily killing so many millions of animals for
meat consumption or through abuse.

The third factor for being vegetarian is karma. As the second law of
thermodynamics states, for every action there must be an equal and opposite
reaction. On the universal scale this is called the law of karma, meaning what
goes around comes around. This affects every individual, as well as communities
and countries. As the nation sows, so shall it reap. This is something we
should take very seriously, especially in our attempt to bring peace, harmony,
and unity into the world. If so much violence is produced by the killing of
animals, where do you think the reactions to this violence goes? It comes back
to us in so many ways, such as the form of neighborhood and community crime,
and on up to world wars. Violence breeds violence. Therefore, this will
continue unless we know how to change.

Isaac Bashevis Singer, who won the Nobel Prize in Literature, asked, “How
can we pray to God for mercy if we ourselves have no mercy? How can we speak of
rights and justice if we take an innocent creature and shed its blood?” He went
on to say, “I personally believe that as long as human beings will go shedding
the blood of animals, there will never be any peace.”

In conclusion, we can mention the March 10, 1966 issue of L’Osservatore
della Domenica, the Vatican weekly newspaper, in which Msgr. Ferdinando
Lambruschini wrote: “Man’s conduct with regard to animals should be regulated
by right reason, which prohibits the infliction of purposeless pain and
suffering on them. To ill treat them, and make them suffer without reason, is
an act of deplorable cruelty to be condemned from a Christian point of view. To
make them suffer for one’s own pleasure is an exhibition of sadism which every
moralist must denounce.” Eating animals for the pleasure of one’s tongue when
there are plenty of other foods available certainly fits into this form of
sadism. It stands to reason that this is counterproductive to any peace and
unity or spiritual progress we wish to make. It is one of the things we need to
consider seriously if we want to improve ourselves or the world. So here are a
few reasons why a genuinely spiritual person will choose to be vegetarian.


In the process of bhakti-yoga, devotion goes beyond simple vegetarianism,
and food becomes a means of spiritual progress. In the Bhagavad-gita Lord
Krishna says, “All that you do, all that you eat, all that you offer and give
away, as well as all austerities that you may perform, should be done as an
offering unto Me.” So offering what we eat to the Lord is an integral part of
bhakti-yoga and makes the food blessed with spiritual potencies. Then such food
is called prasadam, or the mercy of the Lord.

The Lord also describes what He accepts as offerings: “If one offers Me with
love and devotion a leaf, a flower, fruit or water, I will accept it.” Thus, we
can see that the Lord accepts fruits, grains, and vegetarian foods. The Lord
does not accept foods like meat, fish or eggs, but only those that are pure and
naturally available without harming others.

So on the spiritual path eating food that is first offered to God is the
ultimate perfection of a vegetarian diet. The Vedic literature explains that
the purpose of human life is reawakening the soul’s original relationship with
God, and accepting prasadam is the way to help us reach that goal.

What is Vedic Culture?

By investigating the knowledge and viewpoints in the many topics found in
Vedic culture we can certainly see that the practice and utilization of this
Vedic knowledge can indeed assist us in many ways, even in this 21st century.
In regard to all the trouble we presently see in this world, maybe it is time
to look at things through a different and deeper view to find the answers and
directions that are so needed. The knowledge and understandings of this great
Vedic culture may indeed be what will help us see through the fog of confusion
that seems to envelope so much of society.

What we find in Vedic culture are areas of study, progress and expression
that are as relevant today for human advancement as they were hundreds or
thousands of years ago. India and its Vedic culture has contributed much to the
world, such as its music, beautiful forms of art and architecture, martial
arts, astronomy, holistic medicine in Ayurveda, and the mathematical system
based on the number ten, along with its yoga systems and philosophy. In the
United States, yoga has exploded into a three billion dollar industry. A recent
survey (at the time of this writing in 2005) showed that 16.5 million people,
or 7.5 percent of the United States, are practicing yoga. Also, the Yoga
Journal magazine has grown from a circulation of 90,000 in 1998, to 170,000 in
2000, to 325,000 in 2005.

Vedic mathematics is another example of its contribution to world progress.
It is an ancient development that continues to play an important part in modern
society. Without the advancements in math that had been established by Vedic
culture as far back as 2500 BC and passed along to others, such as the Greeks
and Romans, we would not have many of the developments and inventions that we
enjoy today. The Greek alphabet, for example, was a great hindrance to
calculating. The Egyptians also did not have a numerical system suitable for
large calculations. For the number 986 they had to use 23 symbols. The Romans
also were in want of a system of mathematical calculations. Only after they
adopted the Indian system that was called “Arabic numerals” did they find what
they needed.

The difference was that Vedic mathematics had developed the system of tens,
hundreds, thousands, etc., and the basis of carrying the remainder of one
column of numbers over to the next. This made for easy calculations of large
numbers that was nearly impossible in other systems, as found with the Greeks,
Romans, Egyptians and even Chinese. The Vedic system had also invented the
zero, which has been called one of the greatest developments in the history of

The numeral script from India is said to have evolved from the Brahmi
numerals. This spread to Arabia through traders and merchants, and from there
up into Europe and elsewhere. It became known as the Arabic numerals, yet the
Arabians had called them “Indian figures” (Al-Arqan-Al-Hindu) and the system of
math was known as hindisat, or the Indian art.

Vedic culture already had an established mathematical system that had been
recorded in the Shulba Sutras. These are known to date back to at least the 8th
century BC.

The Shulba Sutras were actually a portion of a larger text on mathematics
known as the Kalpa Sutras. These and the Vedic mathematicians were recognized
for their developments in arithmetic and algebra. Indians were the first to use
letters of the alphabet to represent unknowns. But they were especially known
for what they could do in geometry. In fact, geometrical instruments had been
found in the Indus Valley dating back to 2500 BC. Furthermore, what became
known as the Pythagorean theorem was already existing in the Baudhayana, the
earliest of the Shulba Sutras before the 8th century BC. This was presented by
Pythagoras around 540 BC after he discovered it in his travels to India. So
this shows the advanced nature of the Vedic civilization.

The Vedic system of math, as explained in the sutras, also reduced the
number of steps in calculations to merely a few that otherwise required many
steps by conventional methods. Thus, this ancient science is still worthy of
study today.

A well-developed medical system was in existence well before the 1st century
A.D. Ayurveda is the Vedic system of holistic medicine. It has become quite
popular in the West and is continuing to gain ground and acceptance. The word
“Ayurveda”, translated from Sanskrit, is composed of two words, ‘Ayus’ which
means life and ‘Veda’ which denotes knowledge. So Ayurveda is the knowledge of
healthy living and is not only the treatment of diseases. Ayurveda has twin
objectives–maintaining the health of the healthy, and cure illnesses of the
diseased. The exact origin of Ayurveda is lost in the mists of antiquity. Since
Panini is placed at 7th century BC and Ayurveda depicts non-Paninian Sanskrit
grammar, it is logical to place Ayurveda between 6th–10th Century BC.

Jyotish is the Vedic form of astrology, which is an ancient science and is
also being accepted and gaining popularity in the West. Vedic Astrology is
meant to help the individual better find his or her way through life. It is to
assist in discovering one’s highest proclivities, personality, character,
qualities and traits and what may be one’s best direction for a career, and other
things. Thus a person will least likely waste one’s time in unfulfilling
activities, professions or pursuits.

Gemology is an important field in today’s market. But when we speak of Vedic
gemology, we do not mean that it is merely for judging the value of a gem. The
Vedic purpose in gemology is to determine the best type of quality gem for a
person to wear. Thus, Vedic gemology worked in conjunction with Ayurveda and
Jyotish to establish the best gem a person should wear for health and positive

Vãstu is the Vedic science of architectural and home arrangement. It made
its way through the orient and became known as Feng Shui, which has become
popular in the West. However, Vastu is a particular science that deals with the
flow of energy through a house or building for the highest benefits for those
living or working there. It is not enough to merely arrange a house so it looks
nice or that there is a good flow of energy through it. But there is much that
depends on the directions in which things are facing or which parts of the
building accommodate certain activities.

Vedic art is another ancient development that still holds much appreciation
in modern times. Art in the Vedic tradition was never a mere representation of
an artist’s imagination. It was always a vehicle to convey higher truths and
principles, levels of reality that may exist beyond our sense perception. It
was always used to bring us to a higher purpose of existence and awareness. In
this way, it was always sacred and beheld the sacred. Still today it is used to
allow others to enter into a transcendental experience.

Vedic paintings or symbols are unique in that they can deliver the same
spiritual energy, vibration and insight that it represents. In other words,
through the meditation and devotional mood of the artist, the art becomes a
manifestation of the higher reality. In this way, the painting or symbol
becomes the doorway to the spiritual essence contained within. They are like
windows into the spiritual world. Through that window we can have the
experience of darshan of the Divine or divinities, God or His associates.
Darshan is not merely seeing the Divine but it is also entering into the
exchange of seeing and being seen by the Divine.

As with art, dance in India was not merely an expression of an artist’s
emotional mindset or imagination, but was meant to be an interpretation or
conveyance of higher spiritual principles or pastimes of the Divine. In fact,
in the Vedic pantheon Shiva is known as Nataraja, the king of dancers. Shiva’s
dance was also not without a more significant purpose. His dance was based on
the rhythm of cosmic energy that pervades the universe, and the destruction of
the illusory energy by which all souls are given the opportunity for release
from the illusion to attain liberation, moksha.

In this way, traditional Indian dance is highly spiritual and often
accompanies important religious rituals and holy days and festivals. Vedic
dance goes back to prehistoric times. Bharata Muni wrote his Natya Shastra,
science of drama and dance, over 2000 years ago. In it he explains that it was
Lord Brahma, the secondary engineer of the universal creation, who brought
dance (natya) and drama to the people of Earth millions of years ago, shortly
after the Earth was created.

Now dance has evolved into a tradition involving various schools and styles
but with strict discipline. It is not uncommon that Indian families will have
their daughters spend at least several years or more in such study and
practice. In Vedic dance, there is a precise method of postures, facial and
hand gestures (mudras), and movements, along with footwork that must be learned
and synchronized to the beat and music in order to convey specific meanings,
moods and stories to the audience. Many temples, especially in South India,
were known for maintaining large groups of dancers that performed at festivals
and religious functions.

When the dance is performed according to the spiritual standards, which some
view as similar to the practice of yoga, even the dancers can invoke a high
degree of spirituality in their own consciousness and bring unity between their
inner selves and God. Then the transcendental atmosphere can manifest and draw
the Divine to appear in the performers on stage. Thus, the environment becomes
transformed and the audience may also experience darshan of the Divine and
experience an inspiring upliftment in their own consciousness. In this way, the
dance is divine beauty in motion. Or it is a way of invoking the spiritual
dimension into our midst. Few other forms of dance attempt to do this.

So, as we can see, Vedic culture and its many areas of knowledge and
devotional expression are still as relevant today as it was thousands of years
ago. And humanity can benefit from it by introspection and in spiritual as well
as material development as it did in the past.

The power and relevancy of Vedic culture are found in the number of tools it
has always provided in order for humanity to reach its fullest potentials, both
as individuals who are searching for their own fulfillment and spiritual
awakening, and as a society that can function in harmony with nature and
cooperation amongst themselves.

What is ISKCON’s Purpose?

When Srila Prabhupada began ISKCON, he established eight principles that are
the basis of the Krishna consciousness movement.

1. By sincerely cultivating a genuine spiritual science, we can be free
from anxiety and come to a state of pure, unending, blissful consciousness in
this lifetime.

2. We are not our bodies but eternal spirit souls, parts and parcels of
God (Krishna). As such, we are all brothers, and Krishna is ultimately our
common father.

3. Krishna is the eternal, all-knowing, omnipresent, all-powerful, and
all-attractive Personality of Godhead. He is the seed-giving father of all
living beings, and He is the sustaining energy of the entire cosmic creation.

4. The Absolute Truth is contained in all the great scriptures of the
world. However, the oldest known revealed scriptures in existence are the Vedic
literatures, most notably the Bhagavad-gitä, which is the literal record of
God’s actual words.

5. We should learn the Vedic knowledge from a genuine spiritual
master–one who has no selfish motives and whose mind is firmly fixed on

6. Before we eat, we should offer to the Lord the food that sustains
us. Then Krishna becomes the offering and purifies us.

7. We should perform all our actions as offerings to Krishna and do
nothing for our own sense gratification.

8. The recommended means for achieving the mature stage of love of God
in this age of Kali, or quarrel, is to chant the holy names of the Lord. The
easiest method for most people is to chant the Hare Krishna mantra.

Only five hundred years ago, Lord Krishna descended as Sri Caitanya
Mahaprabhu to teach the most sublime and effective means for spiritual
development and enlightenment for the present day. This is the chanting of the
names of God, which has been recommended for thousands of years in the Vedic
tradition, and used by many other spiritual paths throughout the world. The
most important chant is the mantra of: Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna
Krishna, Hare Hare / Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

“Krishna” is one of many Sanskrit names of God, which means “all
attractive”, and Rama is another name which means “reservoir of pleasure”. The
divine energy of God is addressed as Hare. Vedic knowledge teaches that since
we are all constitutionally servants of the God, chanting the names of God is
not an artificial imposition on the mind but is as natural as a child calling
for its mother. Thus, the Hare Krishna Movement teaches two ways to chant,
which is either on beads to chant the mantra a certain number of times each day
in the case of mantra meditation (japa), and in congregational chanting or singing
(kirtan). In either method, there are no hard and fast rules, and anyone can

Who started the Hare Krishna Movement?

In 1965, His Divine Grace A. C.
Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada traveled alone from India to America to
establish the timeless tradition of Krishna consciousness in the Western world.
He single-handedly began the International Society for Krishna Consciousness
(ISKCON), a worldwide society of over 500 temples, farm communities and
schools, with a membership of over three million members in the West, fifty
million worldwide. Srila Prabhupada translated over 50 books on Krishna
consciousness, now available in over 65 languages. Before he passed away in
1977, he arranged for the movement to be guided by a Governing Body Commission
composed of his senior disciples. Also, after Srila Prabhupada’s departure, his
disciples themselves began to accept disciples, carrying on the age-old system
of disciplic succession. Thus, he touched enough people who can pass along this
knowledge to others that this movement will continue well into the future.

Who is Srila Prabhupada?

Srila Prabhupada, known as His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami
Prabhupada, appeared in this world in Calcutta, India on Nandotsava, the annual
festival day celebrating Krishna’s birth, in the year of 1896. His father was a
pure devotee of Lord Krishna who would always invite holy men to his house for
meals and ask them to bless his son to become a great devotee of Radharani,
Lord Krishna’s most beloved devotee and consort. Srila Prabhupada’s father once
bought him a small cart to pull the Deity of Lord Jagannatha, as they do during
the great Rathayatra festival in Jagannatha Puri. So even as a child Srila
Prabhupada would organize little festivals centered around Krishna in his

Prabhupada later attended Scottish Church College in Calcutta, which was
administered by the British. Later, he joined Gandhi’s Non-cooperation Movement
and refused to accept his diploma from that college as a type of protest,
although he had actually completed all the requirements for the degree. After
this, a friend of his father, Dr. Bose, made him a manager of his chemical

Thereafter, in 1918, Prabhupada became married and soon started a family.He
first met his spiritual master, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami, in
Calcutta in 1922. Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati, a prominent religious scholar and
the founder of sixty-four Gaudiya Mathas (Vedic institutes), liked this
educated young man and convinced him to dedicate his life to teaching Vedic

Srila Prabhupada became his student, and eleven years later (1933) at
Allahabad he became his formally initiated disciple. At their first meeting, in
1922, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati requested Srila Prabhupada to broadcast
Vedic knowledge through the English language. In the years that followed, Srila
Prabhupada wrote a commentary on the Bhagavad-gita, and in 1944 started “Back
to Godhead”, an English fortnightly magazine. Maintaining the publication was a
struggle. Single-handedly, Srila Prabhupada edited it, typed the manuscripts,
checked the galley proofs, and even distributed the individual copies. Once
begun, the magazine never stopped; it is now being continued by his disciples
in the West and is published in over thirty languages.Recognizing Prabhupada’s
philosophical learning and devotion, the Gaudiya Vaishnava Society honored him
in 1947 with the title “Bhaktivedanta”. 

On the order of his spiritual master, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta
Swami Prabhupada began translating and writing Vedic literature in the English
language to bring the message of Lord Krishna to the Western countries. In
1950, at the age of fifty-four, Srila Prabhupada retired from married life,
adopting the vanaprastha (retired) order to devote more time to his studies and
writing. Srila Prabhupada traveled to the holy city of Vrindavana, where he
lived in very humble circumstances in the historic medieval temple of
Radha-Damodara. There he engaged for several years in deep study and writing. He
accepted the renounced order of life (sannyasa) in 1959. At Radha-Damodara,
Srila Prabhupada began work on his life’s masterpiece: a multivolume annotated
translation of the eighteen-thousand-verse Srimad-Bhagavatam. He also wrote
“Easy Journey to Other Planets”.

After publishing three volumes of the Bhagavatam, Srila Prabhupada came to
the United States of America, in September 1965, to fulfill the mission of his
spiritual master. Subsequently, His Divine Grace wrote more than sixty volumes
of authoritative annotated translations and summary studies of the
philosophical and religious classics of India.When he first arrived by
freighter in New York City, Srila Prabhupada was practically penniless.

Only after almost a year of great difficulty did he establish the
International Society for Krishna Consciousness, in July of 1966.Thereafter, he
continued to distribute this spiritual knowledge and the process of singing and
chanting Hare Krishna all over the world. He traveled around the world 12 times
and visited every major country to take bhakti-yoga and harinama sankirtana to
the western countries. He gave thousands of lectures, wrote thousands of
letters, and met with many important scholars and dignitaries who very much
appreciated his efforts. Therefore, it was Srila Prabhupada who had been
predicted by the previous acharyas, and by Sri Caitanya, and even by Lord
Krishna in the ancient Puranas, as the person who would spread this new
spiritual awareness.

Before his passing away on November 14, 1977, he guided the Society and saw
it grow to a worldwide confederation of more than one hundred ashramas,
schools, temples, institutes and farm communities.Srila Prabhupada also
inspired the construction of several large international cultural centers in
India. The center at Sridhama Mayapur in West Bengal is the site for a planned
spiritual city, an ambitious project for which construction will extend over
many years to come.

In Vrindavana, India, is the magnificent Krishna-Balarama Temple with an
International Guesthouse, and the Srila Prabhupada Memorial and Museum. There
is also a major cultural and educational center in Bombay. Other centers are
planned in a dozen important locations on the Indian subcontinent. Srila
Prabhupada’s most significant contribution, however, is his books. Highly
respected by the academic community for their authority, depth and clarity,
they are used as standard textbooks in numerous college courses. His writings
have been translated into over fifty languages.

The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, established in 1972 to publish the works of
His Divine Grace, has thus become the world’s largest publisher of books in the
field of Indian religion and philosophy.In just twelve years, in spite of his
advanced age, Srila Prabhupada circled the globe fourteen times on lecture
tours that took him to six continents. In spite of such a vigorous schedule,
Srilla Prabhupada continued to write prolifically. His writings constitute a
veritable library of Vedic philosophy, religion, literature and culture.He
wrote 51 volumes of books with translations in 28 languages, especially
Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam, so anyone can take advantage of this

He established 108 temples in most major cities around the world, and
touched so many people who can also teach this philosophy that this genuine
spiritual knowledge, as predicted in the ancient Puranic literature, will
continue to spread and be available for at least the next 10,000 years.

What scripture do we follow?

Members of the Hare Krishna
Movement follow ancient India’s Vedic literature, primarily Bhagavad-gita and
Srimad-Bhagavatam. These teachings date back over 5000 years and are practiced
by more than 900 million people today. The Bhagavad-gita also forms the basis
of the world’s third largest religion, Hinduism.

Where the teachings originate from?

Although the Hare Krishna Movement has only been established in the West
since 1966, its roots extend thousands of years into the past, back into the
Vedic tradition of India. The Vedas were originally a vocal tradition, but then
were written in Sanskrit over 5000 years ago.

The compiler of the Vedic literature, Srila Vyasadeva, divided the Vedic
knowledge into various departments of material and spiritual knowledge,
entrusting his disciples with particular sections. In this way, the scriptures
developed into the four Vedas, the Vedanta Sutras, 108 main Upanishads, the
great Mahabharat which includes the Bhagavad-gita, and the 18 major Puranas,
among other texts. Of the Puranas, the Bhagavat Purana or Srimad-Bhagavatam is
described as the most ripened fruit of all Vedic literature. It is accepted by
the Vedic tradition as the conclusion of Vedantic principles and understanding,
and relates the pastimes and characteristics of the Supreme Lord.

The process of spiritual development described in the Vedic literature is
one of a gradual process of God-realization and love of God. This wisdom has
been carefully preserved and passed down through the centuries through the
vehicle of the disciplic succession of self-realized teachers.

This ancient spiritual wisdom is now again being presented in the West
through the Hare Krishna Movement. They invite people of all kinds to visit
their temples, communities and websites, and participate in whatever way they
like in this sublime and easy process of bhakti-yoga and Krishna Consciousness.
There are also many books that can also help explain how you may begin this
spiritual process.

What is the Bhagavad-Gita?

Bhagavad (buh-guh-vud) Gita (gee-tah).

The title is a Sanskrit phrase which means “Song of God.” If we can enjoy,
grow, and learn from the songs of ordinary people, just imagine how much we can
get out of the lyric sheet of the Original Artist and Musician, Krishna.  

Just like most songs start out with an intro, the Gita begins with a little
background information. When the second part kicks in, Krishna starts singing.
About what? Sincerity. Who is the real me? How can I do the right thing? What
is the right thing to do?

This song is in Sanskrit (English didn’t even exist back then.). That could
present a big problem. Fortunately the Gita’s lyrics have been translated.

I’ve always loved getting albums that come with lots of inserts and
explanations on what the band is all about. The Gita is like that. When the
song first came out, over 5000 years ago, the scene was a lot more
introspective than what we’ve got today. What they easily understood then goes
soaring right over our heads. So the extra info on the lyrics is especially

The Gita has been bootlegged up and down over the centuries. Most of the
different versions have a pretty descent translation of the lyrics. But many
don’t come with the inserts and juicy info.

Some explanation-inserts are better that others. Which ones are best? The
ones that are most consistent with the song as a whole, and with Krishna’s
other songs.

Since the Gita first came out, there have been a few good releases. But
they’ve all been out of circulation for decades. The best pressing available
today is, by far, the Bhagavad-Gita As It Is, by Srila Prabhupada. It comes
with the English translations as well as Krishna’s original Sanskrit lyrics, a
word for word breakdown, and a detailed explanation for most of the verses.

So check out the Gita. It is available on this web site. 

What is the Hare Krishna Mantra?

A mantra is a spiritual sound
vibration that purifies the consciousness and awakens love of God. The chanting
of the Hare Krishna mantra—Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare
Hare / Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare is recommended in the Vedic
literature as the easiest method for this age to attain spiritual realization.
Krishna is the Sanskrit name of God meaning “all attractive”, and Rama is
another name for God meaning “reservoir of all pleasure”. Hare refers to the
divine energy of the Lord. So the Hare Krishna mantra means, “O all-attractive,
all-pleasing Lord, O energy of the Lord, please engage me in Your service”.
There are two ways to chant this mantra: group chanting (kirtana) and
individual chanting as on beads (japa). No strict rules apply for either
method, and anyone can chant at any time.

Why are we Vegetarians?

The Vedic scriptures establish nonviolence, called ahimsa, as the ethical
foundation of vegetarianism and for a peaceful society. According to the Vedas,
God is the Supreme Father of all creatures, not just humans. Therefore,
slaughter of innocent animals is considered equivalent to killing one’s brother
or sister.

Krishna devotees follow a wholesome lacto-vegetarian diet excluding meat,
fish and eggs. Although it may be argued that vegetarians are guilty of killing
vegetables, foods such as fruits, nuts, milk, and grains do not require
killing. But even when a plant’s life is taken, the pain involved is
dramatically less than that of a highly-sensitive animal such as a cow or lamb.

According to karma, nature’s law of action and reaction, human beings must
suffer for any killing that is against God’s laws. For this reason, as well as
to show recognition and appreciation for the supreme proprietor and supplier of
all food, devotees prepare vegetarian meals as devotional offerings to Krishna,
God. Then food is called prasadam (spiritual food), which can be fully enjoyed
without karmic reaction.

Why eat Prasadam?

Prasadam The Power of Sacred Food

On the spiritual path those that are most inclined to lead a peaceful
existence that respects the value of all life often adopts the vegetarian
lifestyle. It is in accordance with the yogic principle of ahimsa, which is to
observe nonviolence and abstain from injuring any being in any way. However, in
the process of bhakti-yoga, devotion goes beyond simple vegetarianism, and food
becomes a method of spiritual progress. In the Krishna temples, food is offered
to the Deities in a special sacrament, after which it becomes prasadam. This
means the mercy of the Lord. Thus, the food we eat after it is offered to the
Lord becomes a means for our purification and spiritual development.

Devotional service or Krishna consciousness is often described as a process
of singing, dancing and feasting. But the feasting is done with spiritual food,
Krishna prasadam.

In the Bhagavad-gita Lord Krishna says, “All that you do, all that you eat,
all that you offer and give away, as well as all austerities that you may
perform, should be done as an offering unto Me.” So offering what we eat to the
Lord is an integral part of bhakti-yoga and makes the food blessed with
spiritual potencies. Then such food is called prasadam, or the mercy of the

The Lord also describes what He accepts as offerings: “If one offers Me with
love and devotion a leaf, a flower, fruit or water, I will accept it.” Thus, we
can see that the Lord does not need anything, but if one offers fruits, grains,
and vegetarian foods, He will accept it. The Lord does not accept foods like
meat, fish or eggs, but only those that are pure and naturally available
without harming others. So we offer what Krishna likes, not those items which
are distasteful to Him. We also do not use garlic, onions, or mushrooms when we
prepare food for Krishna.

The Lord is fully satisfied in Himself. He is the creator of all so
everything is already His. He supplies us with food through nature, but we give
thanks to Him by offering it back in a mood of loving devotion. So if His
devotee offers something with love, out of His causeless mercy Krishna accepts
it. The Lord is never hungry for our food, but for the love and devotion we
offer. And then He reciprocates with that love.

So on the spiritual path eating food that is first offered to God is the
ultimate perfection of a vegetarian diet. The Vedic literature explains that
the purpose of human life is reawakening the soul’s original relationship with
God, and accepting prasadam is the way to help us reach that goal.

The food is meant to be cooked with the consciousness of love, knowing that
it will be offered to Lord Krishna. In the spiritual world, Radharani cooks for
Krishna and She never cooks the same preparation twice. The temple kitchen is
understood to belong to Radharani.

The ingredients are selected with great care and must be fresh, clean and
pure vegetarian. Also, in cooking for Krishna we do not taste the preparations
while cooking. We leave the first taste for Krishna when it is offered.

After all the preparations are ready, we take a portion of each one and
place it in bowls on a special plate and take it to the altar to offer it to
the Deities or pictures of Krishna.

Then the preparations are presented with special prayers as we ask that God
accept our humble offering. The Lord accepts it with the most important part
being the love with which it is offered. God does not need to eat, but it is
our love for God which attracts Him to us and to accept our offering. Even if
the most sumptuous banquet is offered to God but without devotion and love,
Krishna will not be hungry to accept it. It is our love which catches the
attention of Lord Krishna who is then inclined to accept our service.

After He glances over and tastes that loving offering of vegetarian
preparations, He leaves the remnants for us to honor and relish. Krishna’s
potency is absorbed in that food. In this way material substance becomes
spiritualized, which then affects our body and mind in a similar way. This is
His special mercy for us. Thus, the devotional process becomes an exchange of
love between us and God, which includes food. And that food not only nourishes
our body, but also purifies our consciousness.

By relishing the sacred food of Krishna prasadam, it purifies our heart and
protects us from falling into illusion. In this way, the devotee imbibes the
spiritual potency of Lord Krishna and becomes cleansed of sinful reactions by
eating food that is first offered in sacrifice to God. We thus also become free
from reincarnation, the continued cycle of life and death. This process
prepares us for entering the spiritual world since the devotees there also
relish eating in the company of Krishna.

Not only do we make advancement, but also all of the plants that are used in
the preparations as an offering to God are also purified and reap spiritual
benefit. However, we become implicated in karma if we cause the harm of any
living being, even plants, if we use them for food without offering them to
God. Thus prasadam also becomes the perfect yoga diet.

Therefore, the cooking, the offering and then the respectful eating or
honoring of this spiritualized food all become a part of the joyful process of
devotional service to the Lord. Anyone can learn to do this and enjoy the
happiness of experiencing prasadam. The Sunday love feast in the Hare Krishna
temples is the opportunity in which everyone can participate in this opulence
of Lord Krishna. So we invite you to attend as often as you like and make
spiritual advancement simply by relishing Krishna prasadam.

Why we don’t eat onion and garlic?

One of the most common questions asked to me is this: "Why don't you
eat garlic and onions?" Here's my short answer: As a devotee of Krishna
and a practicing Bhakti-yogi, I don't eat garlic and onions because they cannot
be offered to Krishna.

Here's my longer answer: You may know that onions and garlic are botanical
members of the alliaceous family (alliums) – along with leeks, chives and

According to Ayurveda, India's classic medical science, foods are grouped
into three categories – sattvic, rajasic and tamasic – foods in the modes of
goodness, passion and ignorance. Onions and garlic, and the other alliaceous plants
are classified as rajasic and tamasic, which means that they increase passion
and ignorance.

Those that subscribe to pure brahmana-style cooking of India, including
myself, and Vaishnavas – followers of Lord Vishnu, Rama and Krishna – like to
only cook with foods from the sattvic category. These foods include fresh
fruits, vegetables and herbs, dairy products, grains and legumes, and so on.
Specifically, Vaisnavas do not like to cook with rajasic or tamasic foods
because they are unfit to offer to the Deity.

Rajasic and tamasic foods are also not used because they are detrimental to
meditation and devotions. "Garlic and onions are both rajasic and tamasic,
and are forbidden to yogis because they root the consciousness more firmly in
the body", says well-known authority on Ayurveda, Dr. Robert E. Svoboda.

Some branches of western medicine say that the Alliums have specific health
benefits; garlic is respected, at least in allopathic medical circles, as a
natural antibiotic. In recent years, while the apparent cardiovascular
implications of vegetable Alliums has been studied in some detail, the clinical
implications of onion and garlic consumption from this point of view are still
not well understood.

Nevertheless, there are still many adverse things to say about garlic and
onions. Not so well known is the fact that garlic in the raw state can carry
harmful (potentially fatal) botulism bacteria. Perhaps it is with an awareness
of this that the Roman poet Horace wrote of garlic that it is “more harmful
than hemlock".

It should be pointed out that Garlic and onion are avoided by spiritual
adherents because they stimulate the central nervous system, and can disturb
vows of celibacy. Garlic is a natural aphrodisiac. Ayurveda suggests that it is
a tonic for loss of sexual power from any cause, sexual debility, impotency
from over-indulgence in sex and nervous exhaustion from dissipating sexual
habits. It is said to be especially useful to old men of high nervous tension
and diminishing sexual power.

The Taoists realized thousands of years ago that plants of the alliaceous
family were detrimental to humans in their healthy state. In his writings, one
sage Tsang-Tsze described the Alliums as the "five fragrant or spicy
scented vegetables" – that each have a detrimental effect on one of the
following five organs – liver, spleen, lungs, kidneys, and heart. Specifically,
onions are harmful to the lungs, garlic to the heart, leeks to the spleen,
chives to the liver and spring onions to the kidneys. Tsang-Tsze said that
these pungent vegetables contain five different kinds of enzymes which cause
"reactions of repulsive breath, extra-foul odour from perspiration and
bowel movements, and lead to lewd indulgences, enhance agitations, anxieties
and aggressiveness," especially when eaten raw.

Similar things are described in Ayurveda. 'As well as producing offensive
breath and body odour, these (alliaceous) plants induce aggravation, agitation,
anxiety and aggression. Thus they are harmful physically, emotionally, mentally
and spiritually'.

Back in the 1980's, in his research on human brain function, Dr Robert [Bob]
C. Beck, DSc. found that garlic has a detrimental effect on the brain. He found
that in fact garlic is toxic to humans because its sulphone hydroxyl ions penetrate
the blood-brain barrier and are poisonous to brain cells.

Dr. Beck explained that as far back as the 1950s it was known that garlic
reduced reaction time by two to three times when consumed by pilots taking
flight tests. This is because the toxic effects of garlic desynchronize brain
waves. "The flight surgeon would come around every month and remind all of
us: "Don't you dare touch any garlic 72 hours before you fly one of our
airplanes, because it'll double or triple your reaction time. You're three
times slower than you would be if you'd [not] had a few drops of garlic."

For precisely the same reason the garlic family of plants has been widely
recognized as being harmful to dogs.

Even when garlic is used as food in Chinese culture it is considered harmful
to the stomach, liver and eyes, and a cause of dizziness and scattered energy
when consumed in immoderate amounts. Nor is garlic always seen as having
entirely beneficial properties in Western cooking and medicine. It is widely
accepted among health care professionals that, as well as killing harmful
bacteria, garlic also destroys beneficial bacteria, which are essential to the
proper functioning of the digestive system.

Reiki practitioners explain that garlic and onions are among the first
substances to be expelled from a person’s system – along with tobacco, alcohol
and pharmaceutical medications. This makes it apparent that alliaceous plants
have a negative effect on the human body and should be avoided for health

Homeopathic medicine comes to the same conclusion when it recognizes that
red onion produces a dry cough, watery eyes, sneezing, runny nose and other
familiar cold-related symptoms when consumed.

What is the significance of Deities and Deity Worship?

Deities play an important part in most temples of Krishna. But what is the
significance of Deities and Deity worship? One thing to understand is that all
the images or Deities in the Vedic pantheon, as found in the temples, are made
according to explicit details and instructions found in the Vedic texts. Then
they are installed in the temple in an elaborate ceremony wherein the Divine
personalities are called to appear in the form of the Deity. Some of the
Deities are demigods, while others, such as Krishna, Vishnu, or Ramachandra, are
forms displaying various pastimes of the Supreme Being.

Some people, however, do not believe that God has a form. But many verses in
the Puranas and particularly the Brahma-samhita establish that the Supreme
Being does have specific forms according to His pastimes. These texts also
describe His variegated features, which include His spiritual shape,
characteristics, beauty, strength, intelligence, activities, etc. Therefore, it
is considered that the authorized Deities of the Supreme that are shaped according
to these descriptions provide a view of the personal form of God.

Those who have no knowledge of God or His form will certainly consider the
temple Deities as idols. But this is because they think that the Deities are
simply the products of someone’s imagination. Of course, there are those who
say that God has no form, spiritual or material, or that there is no Supreme
Being. Others think that since God must be formless, they can imagine or
worship any material form as God, or they regard any image as merely an
external representations of the Supreme. But images such as those of the
demigods are not additional forms of an impersonal God, nor are they equal to
God. All such people who think in the above mentioned ways have resorted to
their own imagination to reach such conclusions and are, therefore, idolaters.
The imaginary images and opinions of God that are formed by those who have not
properly learned about, seen, or realized God are indeed idols, and those who
accept such images or opinions are certainly idolaters. This is because these
images or opinions are based on ignorance and are not a true likeness of the
Supreme Being’s personal form.

Nonetheless, God is described in the Vedic literature, which explains that
God is sat-chit-ananda vigraha, or the form of complete spiritual essence, full
of eternity, knowledge, and bliss, and is not material in any way. His body,
soul, form, qualities, names, pastimes, etc., are all nondifferent and are of
the same spiritual quality. This form of God is not an idol designed from
someone’s imagination, but is the true form, even if He should descend into
this material creation. And since the spiritual nature of God is absolute, He
is nondifferent from His name. Thus, the name Krishna is an avatara or
incarnation of Krishna in the form of sound. Similarly, His form in the temple
is not merely a representation, but is also qualitatively the same as Krishna
as the archa-vigraha, or the worshipable form.

Some people may question that if the Deity is made from material elements,
such as stone, marble, metal, wood, or paint, how can it be the spiritual form
of God? The answer is given that since God is the source of all material and
spiritual energies, material elements are also a form of God. Therefore, God
can manifest as the Deity in the temple, though made of stone or other
elements, since He can transform what is spiritual into material energy, and
material energy back into spiritual energy. Thus, the Deity can easily be
accepted as the Supreme since He can appear in any element as He chooses. In
this way, even though we may be unqualified to see God, who is beyond the
perceptibility of our material senses, the living beings in this material
creation are allowed to see and approach the Supreme through His archa-vigraha
form as the worshipable Deity in the temple. This is considered His causeless
mercy on the materially conditioned living beings.

In this manner, the Supreme Being gives Himself to His devotees so they can
become absorbed in serving, remembering and meditating on Him. Thus, the
Supreme comes to dwell in the temple, and the temple becomes the spiritual
abode on earth. In time, the body, mind and senses of the devotee become
spiritualized by serving the Deity, and the Supreme becomes fully manifest to
him or her. Worshiping the Deity of the Supreme and using one’s senses in the
process of bhakti-yoga, devotional service to the Supreme, provides a means for
one’s true essential spiritual nature to unfold. The devotee becomes
spiritually realized and the Deities reveal Their spiritual nature to the
sincere souls according to their spiritual development. This can continue up to
the level in which the Supreme Being in the form of the Deity engages in a
personal relationship and performs reciprocal, loving pastimes with the
devotee, as has previously taken place with other advanced individuals.

At this stage, having darshan or seeing the Deity is not simply a matter of
looking at the Deity in the temple, but to one who is spiritually realized it
is a matter of experiencing the Deity and entering into a personal, reciprocal
relationship with the Supreme Personality in the form of the Deity. At that
stage, you may view the Deity, but the Deity also gazes at you, and then there
is a spiritual exchange wherein the Deity begins to reveal His personality to
you. This is what separates those who are experienced from those who are not,
or those who can delve into this spiritual exchange and those who may still be
trying to figure it out. For those who have experienced such an exchange with
the Supreme or His Deity, at this stage the worship of the Supreme Being in the
Deity moves up to a whole different level, with no limits as to the spiritual
love that can be shared between the devotee and the Deity.

Why we wear Tilak?

This compilation of information will explain what tilak is and why it is
worn. As anyone who is familiar with the Vedic tradition knows, many of its
followers wear marking on the foreheads. This is called tilak. Some tilak
markings are made with ash, some with clay or soil, some are red dots with kum
kum, or dyed rice flour, or red dots with additional applications like a few
grains of rice stuck to it. Some tilak appears as three lines of ash going
horizontally across the forehead that indicates one is a Shaivite, or a small
triangle on the nose with a "V" shape rising vertically up on the
forehead from between the eyebrows, which indicates one is a Vaishnava. This is
a sign of the foot of Lord Vishnu, recited while chanting the name of Lord

There are different reasons why this is done and what they mean, but here is
a description of why Vaishnavas wear their tilok, especially with Gopi-candana
(or Gopi Chand). Gopi Candana is the soil that comes from a place not far from
Dwaraka. The history is that this is the place where the gopis entered the
river to leave their bodies after Lord Krishna left this planet to return to
His spiritual abode. Thus, they also followed in this way. The mud that used to
be the banks  of that river is called Gopi-candana. Vaishnavas apply this
mud while chanting the names of Vishnu in twelve places on the head, arms,
chest and back. The process marks the body as a temple, purifies the body, and
also acts as protection from evil influences, ghosts, etc. By seeing this tilok
on ourselves or other devotees, it serves as a constant reminder of Lord
Krishna. Tilak is also used in Deity worship, offered to the Deities and also
used with lemon juice to polish brass deities.

Why do we fall flat on the ground or offer Obeisance?

We offer obeisances for the following reasons:

 1. Humility:

Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He
is the Supreme Creator and our Supreme father. We are His eternal devotees.
Everything in this world is provided by Him. Thus we need to become humble and
accept His Supremacy.

 2. Respect:

Just as we respect our parents and elders,
similarly we should offer our respect to the eldest of all persons: the Supreme
Personality of Godhead. In the Vedic tradition the best way to pay respect is
by offering obeisances.

 3. Devotional Service:

Offering obeisances is an important part of
devotional service by which the devotee confirms his attitude of submission.

Glories of offering obeisances stated in vedic

Skanda Purana mentions the glories of offering
obeisances to the supreme Personality of Godhead:

One, who has worshipped Vishnu or offered Him
obeisances once, even neglectful, will go to Shri Vaikuntha Dhama which is
worshipped by the demigods and is rare even for them.

One who bathes Shri Madhava with a conchshell
full of Ganga water while saying, "O Narayana! I offer obeisances
unto you", does not have to take birth again.  He attains

"I offer my respectful obeisances to the
Supreme Absolute Truth, Krishna, who is the well-wisher of the cows and
the brahmanas as well as the living entities in general. I offer my
repeated obeisances to Govinda, who is the pleasure reservoir for all the

Simply by offering obeisances to Lord Govinda,
even once, one receives the merit of performing one hundred horse
sacrifices. In fact, performers of sacrifices are undoubtedly born in this
world again whereas those who offer obeisances to Lord Krishna never
experience birth in the material world again.

This is a verse from the Srimad-Bhagavatam

tat te 'nukampāḿ su-samīkṣamāṇo

bhuñjāna evātma-kṛtam"vipākam

hṛd-vāg-vapurbhir vidadhan namas te

jīveta yo mukti-pade sa dāya-bhāk

 "My dear Lord, one who constantly waits
for Your causeless mercy to be bestowed upon him and who goes on suffering the
reactions of his past misdeeds, offering You respectful obeisances from the
core of his heart, is surely eligible for liberation, for it has become his
rightful claim."

Lord Siva speaking to Skanda, “Any person, who has
seen Salagram Sila, paid obeisances to Him, bathed and worshipped Him, has
achieved the results of performing ten million sacrifices and giving ten
million cows in charity. — Skanda Purana – Haribhakti vilas

Why circumambulate Tulasi plant?

The Tulasi tree is a most important plant, and is
often seen at numerous Vedic temples, especially those dedicated to Vishnu and
Krishna. At such temples you are likely to find one or more in the courtyard
wherein pilgrims circumambulate it, water it, or even offer prayers to it. Some
temples will even have Tulasi groves, wherein you will see numerous Tulasi
plants growing in a garden. Some temples will even have a special greenhouse
just for taking care of Tulasi plants. At such temples, they may even prepare
large garlands of Tulasi leaves and manjaris (the ends of the branches) for the
Deity of Lord Krishna to wear. It is said that Tulasi will not grow well where
there is no devotion to the Lord. In fact, how well Tulasi grows is said to be
like a barometer that indicates how high the devotional attitude is of the
devotee community around the temple.

Vaishnava devotees also use the wood to make neck
beads and wear two or three strands of them around their necks signifying their
devotion to the Lord. They also make their japa mala or chanting beads from
wood of the Tulasi tree. Tulasi is considered to be a pure devotee of the Lord
who has taken the form of a tree, and is very dear to Lord Vishnu. Lord Vishnu
(Krishna) likes to wear garlands made of Tulasi leaves. Often sandalwood paste
and Tulasi leaves are placed on the lotus feet of the Deity of Lord
Vishnu/Krishna. Therefore she is given the utmost respect. This is also why
many devotees and Hindus in general also grow Tulasi in their homes. In this
way, the Tulasi plant plays an important part in the spiritual life of many
devotees. So what is the significance, history and legends behind this little

To begin with, the Basil plant (Ocimum sanctum) is
commonly called Tulasi (pronounced tulsi). In some accounts of the Puranic
story of the Churning of the Ocean (samudramathana), the Tulasi is added to the
list of articles which emerged from it, and is sacred to KrishnaIt is also
sacred to Lord Vishnu’s consort Laksmi, and hence it is itself an object of

The Tulasi plant also possesses curative properties
and is said to be an antidote to snake-venom. It destroys mosquitoes and other
pests and purifies the air. It even is said to ward off the messengers of Yama,
the ruler of the dead, who will not enter a house containing a sprig of Tulasi.
This is also one of the reasons why devotees wear the Tulasi as neck beads.
When death occurs, the funeral pyre should be constructed of Tulasi, palasha,
and sandal-wood.

The Worshiping of SrimatiTulasi-devi

"Every home with a Tulasi plant is a place of
pilgrimage, and no diseases, messengers of Yama, the God of Death, can enter

Skandapurana 2, 4, 8, 13 PadmapuranaUttarakhanda

Wherever the aroma of Tulasi is carried by the
wind, it purifies the atmosphere and frees all animals from all baser

Padmapurana, Uttarakhanda

"Vishnu, the Lord of the Three Worlds, takes
up abode in the village or the house where Tulasi is grown. In such a house no
one suffers calamities like poverty, illness or separations from dear
ones." Padmapurana, Uttarakhanda, 6-24-31-32

Benefits of Worshiping Tulasi-devi

Although we can never fully describe the glories of
Tulasi-devi, an eternal associate of Lord Krsna. The scriptures give us a hint
of the value of worshiping her. The following list comes from the Padma Purana.

Tulasi is the essence of all devotional activities.

The leaves, flowers, roots, bark, branches, trunk,
and shade of Tulasi-devi are all spiritual.

One who with devotion applies the paste of Tulasi
wood to the Deity of Krsna will always live close to Krsna.

One who puts mud from the base of the Tulasi tree
on his body and worships the Deity of Lord Krsna gets the results of one
hundred days worship each day.

One who offers a Tulasimanjari to Lord Krsna gets the
benefit of offering all other varieties of flowers, and he goes to the abode of

One who sees or comes near a house or garden where
the Tulasi plant is present gets rid of all his sinful reactions, including
that of killing a brahmana.

Lord Krsna happily lives in the house, town, or
forest where Tulasi-devi is present.

A house where Tulasi-devi is present never falls on
bad times, and it becomes purer than all holy places.

The fragrance of Tulasi-devi purifies all who smell

Lord Krsna and all the demigods live in a house
where mud from the base of the Tulasi tree is found.

Without Tulasi leaves, Lord Krsna does not like to
accept flowers, food, or sandalwood paste.

One who worships Lord Krsna daily with Tulasi
leaves attains the results of all kinds of austerity, charity, and sacrifice.
In fact, he has no other duties to perform, and he has realized the essence of
the scriptures.

One who puts into his mouth or on his head Tulasi
leaves that have been offered to Lord Krsna attains Lord Krsna's abode.

In Kali-yuga, one who worships, remembers, plants,
keeps, or performs kirtana before Tulasi burns up all sinful reactions and
quickly attains Lord Krsna's abode.

One who worships Lord Krsna with Tulasi leaves
releases all his ancestors from the realm of birth and death.

One who remembers the glories of Tulasi or tells
others about them will never take birth again.

Why do we wear Neck-beads?

Devotees of Krishna wear Tulasi (occimum sanctum
wood) neck beads, often as three strands at the base of the neck. Tulasi beads
worn around the neck indicate a devotee's surrender to the Lord; such a person
is dear to the Lord.

Tulasi beads are said to protect one from bad
dreams, accidents, attack by weapons, and inauspicious destinations at death.
For these reasons and because she is dear to Krishna, devotees always wear

Of course in the traditional Gaudiya Math
standards, the devotees would start wearing Tulasi neck beads and tilaka only
after initiation when they have been given to them by ShrilaGurudeva. But the
benefits of wearing Tualsi neck beads and tilaka are so unlimited as described
in the Hari Bhakti Vilasa, then one can surely start wearing them when one
accepts a spiritual master in one's heart even though one may not have formally
accepted the mantras from the Guru. As ShrilaPrabhupada said that real
initiation with Gurudeva is from the heart. Also the neck beads mean that we
are no longer spiritual orphans but we have a spiritual Gurudeva under whose
shelter and guidance we are chanting (ashrayalaiyabhajekrishnataaranaahityaje)
just like pet dogs who have masters in India are identified from the stray dogs
by a strap around their necks.

The Krishna conscious culture teaches that anyone
who is an aspiring devotee of Krishna should wear Tulasineckbeads for Tulasi is
so spiritually potent.   

The following are some verses from the Hari Bhakti

yahpunastulasī-mālāmkrtvākanthejanārdanam |

pūjayetpunyamāpnotipratipuspamgavāyutam ||326||

One who engages in the worship of ŚrīJanārdana
while wearing tulasīneckbeads accumulates piety equivalent to giving ten
thousand cows in charity for each of his flower offerings.

tulasī-kāstha-sambhūtāmyomālāmvahatenarah |


A person who wears tulasīneckbeads all the time
obtains the result of living in Dvārakā.

sadāprītamanāstasyakrsnadevakī-nandanah |

tulasī-kāstha-sambhūtāmyomālāmvahatenarah |

prāyaścittamnatasyāstināśaucamtasyavigrahe ||334||

tulasī-kāstha-sambhūtāmśirasoyasyabhūsanam |

bāhvohkarecamartyasyadehetasyasadāharih ||335||

There is no need to perform atonement for a person
who wears tulasīneckbeads. Factually, he does not become contaminated at any
stage in his life. ŚrīHari resides in the body of a person whose neck and arms
are decorated with ornament made of tulasī.


tulasī-kāstha-mālāmtupreta-rājasyadūtakāh |

drstvānaśyantidūrenavātoddhūtamyathādalam ||337||

tulasī-kāstha-mālābhirbhūsitobhramateyadi |


Just by seeing the tulasī beads on a person’s neck,
the Yamadūtas flee to a distant place. A person who wanders here and there
after putting on tulasīneckbeads has nothing to fear from an accident, bad
dreams, or weapons.

Srila Prabhupada also states,

In the Padma Purāna there is a statement describing
how a Vaisnava should decorate his body with tilaka and beads: "Persons
who put tulasī beads on the neck, who mark twelve places of their bodies as
Visnu temples with Visnu's symbolic representations [the four items held in the
four hands of Lord Visnu—conch, mace, disc and lotus], and who have
visnu-tilaka on their foreheads, are to be understood as the devotees of Lord
Visnu in this world. Their presence makes the world purified, and anywhere they
remain, they make that place as good as Vaikuntha."

In response to a list of several question asked by
disciple Vidyadasi, SrilaPrabhupada replies

“Tulasi is one devotee who appears wherever there
is devotion to Krsna. Tulasi’s body is spiritual.  Tulasi leaves should be
offered to the Deity.”

Srila Prabhupada has also said,

“Just as a pet dog has got a collar, similarly we
are pet dogs of God. So we have got this collar. And Yamaraja, the Lord of
Death will understand that he-the devotee-is God's dog; he should not be shot
down.BecauseTulasikanthi is so important they are never taken off, but they can
be replaced.  Anyone who wears Tulasineckbeads at the time of death is
greatly benefited beyond imagination, therefore it is important to keep them on
at all times.   Tulasi also identifies one as a follower of Lord
Chaitanya. “

Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura sings in his Svīkara:
Acceptance of Activities Favorable to Pure Devotion –



I will put on the garb that is dear to the devotees
of Lord Gaura-sundara, including the twelve Vaisnavatilaka markings on my body
and beautiful beads of tulasī wood around my neck.

SrilaBhaktivinoda Thakur also writes in his Jaiva
Dharma that of the 64 angas of devotional service the remaining fourty-four are
observed to increase one’s bhakti.  Item number one is decoration of the
body with the Vaisnava signs of tilaka and tulasī beads.

Q. One may ask that if we are not the body then
what is the need of instructions of decoration of the body?

A. Yes we are not the body but unless were
areParamahamsa pure devotees then we are still conditioned by the body. 
We don’t want to become falsely transcendental and reject those good things
that the greatly intelligent pure devotees has suggested for our spiritual
welfare.   Yes, if we are not the body then we also do not need to
eat, but because this body is Krishna’s property we take care of it and because
this body is Krishna’s property we decorate it in vedic way. 

Why do we circumambulate (Pradakshina) the Temple and Deities?

We cannot draw a circle without a centre point. The
Lord is the centre, source and essence of our lives. We acknowledge this by
performing Pradakshina recognizing him as the focal point in our lives 
and go about doing our daily chores. This is the significance of Pradakshina.

Also, every point on the circumference of a circle
is equidistant from the centre. This means that wherever we may be or whoever
we may be, we are equally close to the lord. His grace flows towards us without

According to Adi Shankaracharya, real pradakshina
is the meditation that 10008 universes are revolving around the great Lord, the
unmoving centre of all forms.

Skanda Purana chapter 9 Verse 68 – In the word
Pra-da-ksi-na, the syllable Pra dispels sin, the syllable Da bestows what is
desired , the syllable Ksi cuauses the destructions of Karma and the syllable
Na is the bestower of salvation.

Why is Pradakshina done in a clockwise manner?

Hindus go round the sanctum sanctorum in the temple
and sometimes the deities in the puja or yajnya at home in a clockwise
direction. We always assume God is the centre of our existence. He also exists
everywhere so when we do Pradakshina or circumambulation we accept that our
actions and thoughts are always centered around God. The centre point is always
fixed and remains the same at whatever distance we do the pradakshina so we are
reminded of the eternal truth that God is the centre of Gravity and the main
focus of our existence this is the main principle of Pradakshinam.

The world is always rotating around itself on its
own axis as well as around the sun. All the planets also rotate on their own
axes. Just like in the Solar system, the sun is at the centre around which the
planets rotate, Our Pradakshinam should be done with God at the center. The
Pradakshinam should be done slowly an never in a hurry. Our thoughts and action
must dwell in God.

It is normal to do Pradakshinam always in clockwise
direction. This is because we assume that the Lord is always on our right side.
This reminds us we must always lead a righteous life, in the right path called

Skanda Purana chapter 9, verse 28 :-

The sin commited by the mind are destroyed by the
1st step (of Pradakshina), The sin commited by the speech by the 2nd step and
the sins perpetrated  by the body by the 3rd step.

Accordingly the number of Pradakshinam are 1 for
Ganapathy, 2 for Soorya(Sun), 3 for Shiva, 4 fir Devi and Vishnu, and 7 for
Peepal tree (Sacred tree). Generally these Pradakshina are done in temple in
Kerala. Accordingly the 1st Pradakshina destroys all sins including
Brahmahathya paap (sin due to slaying of Brahmans). The 2nd makes the
worshipper an Adhikari (Qualified person for material and spiritual persuits).
and the 3rd helps the person in obtaining Naindra-Sampaada  (Pleasure of
life which lead to final libration). A number of 21 pradakshinas in a day is
considered most beneficial as per Swayambhooaagama.

Further he makes Pradakshinas (devotional rounds)
slowly with folded hands and visualizing the Diety in his mind all the time.
All these action knowingly or unknowingly have salutary effect to ward off the
ego from the mind of the Devotee. It is not worthy that the purpose of temple
worship is never achieved unless one understands that visits to temples are
meant to help the devotee to shed his ego. The purpose of visits to temples is
one's own cultural emancipation which functions on fundamental values known as

Hare Krishna.

Why do we take off our shoes before entering the Temple?

First, visiting a temple is quite different from
visiting any other place. The temple is the best place we visit. That is the
place from which we are to gain something invaluable. During our practical life
when we go to a minister, we change our mental level and our attitude. Whatever
dust has gathered on our shoes, socks or feet are removed by us by striking our
feet on the floor outside his chamber or residence. There is a hygienic reason
behind this. Cleanliness is as essential as preserving sanctity.

Shoes move on various surfaces both dirty and
clean. This cleanliness is of prime necessity to preserve the sanctity of the
temple, which is the holy home of God. Temple is a home of GOD, we must
maintain the cleanliness.

Moreover when we go to a temple or approach the
holy temple altar at home, our mental state and status should be quite
different. If we take off the shoes or other footwear, together with all our
mental darkness, ego and crookedness and then if we enter the temple and
approach God, the receptive capacity of the mind would increase. It will be
highly beneficial for us if we keep out the bundle of worldly thoughts together
with our shoes or footwear outside and then practice meditation and devotion.
If you forget our eternal miseries and surrender to God, the journey of life
would be worthwhile.  For realizing God we need to keep our egos outside.
Some people have a fetish for shoes. We also tend to judge people on what brand
of footwear they wear. Hence when one enters the temple all these external
judgements and likes or dislikes are left outside as each one is a child God.

Do you remove your shoes on entering your home?
Many of us who are not culturally predisposed to this activity avoid thinking
about it because we are conflicted about starting a daily routine that you
would then need to impose on others.

In Vedic culture it was not permissible to set foot
in a room without first removing one’s shoes, to removing shoes at the front
door is a mark of respect to the house and to honour its cleanliness and
purity, taking off one’s shoes at the front door can be a deeply ingrained
cultural habit.

Removing shoes outside a temple is a gesture of
being both symbol and a conscious desire to leave behind the outer world by
shedding, literally, the first obvious steps—shoes.

Why a devotee has a Shikha?

Shikha is a tuft of hair at the back of head
specifically kept by Vaishnavas and Brahmanas.

It is anestablished rule that ANYONE WHO RECITES
perform vedic rituals are advised to remove hairs.

However, there are many reasons for having SHIKHA:

1. When Devotee leaves body Krishna pulls the soul
from the top most Chakra which is on the head under the shikha.

2. It is said that according to the karma of a soul
the living entity at the time of death leaves body from different places from
mouth, nose, etc… But a devotee who leaves this body from that “chakra”
(Shikha) attains high planets of Spiritual world.

3. Also hair is needed to protect that chakra. But
women do not cut their hair, because their other lower chakras are not good
protected but if they have long hair they protect them with hair.

4. The Vaishnavas following a descending spiritual
path that is they depend on the mercy of the Supreme Lord at every step to pull
them out of Maya. So when we are drowning in Maya and only our head is out of
the water, Guru and Gauranga can still pull us out comfortably by holding our
head by this tuft of head called the shikha. So the shikha shows the
subordination and dependence of the devotee on the causelessmercy of Lord
Gauranga-Krishna at all times.

5. The Mayavadis follow the ascending path since
they egotistically confident of achieve God and coming out of illusion by the
dint of their insignificant efforts or sadhan. So they do not keep a shikha
because they do not need the mercy of the Lord.

6) Shikha is also like a spiritual antenna on the
top of the head meant to show to the Lord and that we are aspiring recepients
of His causeless mercy.

7) One must have a sikha to perform any kind of
yajna. Therefore in Indian tradition all the brahmanas, Vaisnava or otherwise,
keep a sikha. Although there seem to be no sastric injunctions regarding the
size of the sikha, GaudiyaVaisnavas traditionally keep the sikha about the size
of a calf's hoofprint, approximately 1.5 inches (5 – 6 cm.) in diameter.

8) SrilaPrabhupada mentioned this in a conversation
with some of his disciples in Hawaii (6.5.1972):

“ GaudiyaVaisnavasikha is an inch and a half across
— no bigger. Bigger sikha means another sampradaya…. And they have to be

9) SrilaPrabhupadaLilamrta says:

The sikha may be any length, but it should be kept
tightly knotted and only untied when you are washing, The Hari-bhakti-vilasa
observes that members of the upper classes even tie the sikha before taking the
final ablutions of a bath. This particularly applies when bathing in a body of
water such as a river or a lake, in which case to not tie the sikha prior to
bathing is considered low class and disrespectful to the sacred rite of

You may tie it in a simple manner for bathing,
retying it more carefully after the bath.* cleaning, or oiling it. Also, when
going to sleep, attending funeral rites, or observing a period of mourning, you
should keep the sikha untied. Since an untied sikha is a sign of a death in the
family, it is inauspicious to go about one's daily duties with an untied sikha.
It is also said that if one keeps the sikha untied, the body maybecome weak.

While tying your sikha after bathing, chant the
Hare Krsna mantra, or, if initiated with Gayatri mantras, silently chant the
Brahma-gayatri (first line of Gayatri). The sikha should not be braided
(traditionally only women braid their hair), nor should it be kept long and
disheveled. Naturally, if the sikha is too short to be tied, it is all right to
leave it open, but it should not be disheveled.

10) Significance of Shaving head – It is a symbol
of renunciation. If you see materialists, they are extremely fond of hair.
Decorating hair etc pulls us into bodily consciousness. This is not good for
practicing spiritualists. So as an indication of renunciation from material
consciousness devotees shave head.

11) Significance of shikha – Another view: It is a
symbol of duality of souls and supreme Lord. Impersonalists believe that there
is no duality between the supreme and the living entity and they are expected
to shave their heads completely. Vaishnavites believe in the philosophy that
there is clear and eternal distinction between supreme god Krishna and living
entities. The shikha is symbol of Krishna which is large and the remaining very
little hair is the symbol of insignificant and innumerable conditioned living


(A) A person who keeps SHIKHA attracts cosmic
energy which imparts enlightment.

(B) The small portion of hair that hangs from
behind our head applies little pressure on our brains that helps one to improve
concentration and mind control and improve memory.

Why do we ring the temple bell?

Most of the old temples in India have a large bell
at the entrance that one needs to ring before entering the temple. Making
temple bells is a whole science. These bells are not made out of ordinary
metal, but a whole variety of them, including cadmium, lead, copper, zinc,
nickel, chromium and manganese.

The proportion at which each one of them mixed is
the real science behind making a bell. Each of these bells is made to produce
such a distinct sound that it can create a harmony between your left and right
brains. The moment you ring that bell, it produces sharp but lasting sound
vibration which lasts for minimum of seven seconds in echo mode — long enough
to touch your seven healing centers (or chakras) in your body.

The Bell, known in Sanskrit as the Ghanta/Ghanti is
used in all poojas for invoking the Gods.The ringing of the bell produces what
is regarded as an auspicious sound. It produces the sound of "OM" the
Universal name of the Lord. Most Mantraas (prayers) and vedic chants start with
OM. All auspicious actions begin with OM. It fills the mind with peace, makes
it focussed and replete with subtle sounds. The ringing of the bell drowns any
irrelevant or inauspicious sound, and pervades the whole atmosphere.This
reminds us of all pervasive nature of the supreme (Sarva-vyaapi). Even while
performing ‘Aarati’ the bell is rung. It is sometimes accompanied by blowing
conch, beating drums, playing cymbals and other musical instruments.

The moment bell rings your brain is emptied of all
thoughts. Invariably, you will enter a state of trance where you are very

The bell works as anti-dote to the chaos of your
mind. Before you enter temple it helps you to calm down & prepares you for
the spiritual awareness you are going to experience.

Even while doing the ritualistic arati, we ring the
bell. It is sometimes accompanied by the auspicious sounds of the conch and
other musical instruments. An added significance of ringing the bell, conch and
other instruments is that they help drown any inauspicious or irrelevant noises
and comments that might disturb or distract the worshippers in their devotional
ardour, concentration and inner peace.

Why wear robes and saris?

In the ancient Vedic culture a person dressed according to his or her social
and spiritual position. Following those traditions, women who live in Hare
Krishna communities wear saris and men wear robes called dhotis. Married men
wear white, and unmarried men wear saffron. Men living a monastic lifestyle
shave their heads and leave a tuft of hair in the back, called a sikha. This is
done as a sign of renunciation and surrender to Krishna, as well as for
cleanliness and simplicity. The sikha is also a sign of accepting the premise
that God is a person and not merely an impersonal force. The clay marking on
the forehead signifies that the body is a temple of God. The clay comes from
sacred rivers in India.

Why we blow Conch or Shankha?

When the conch (Shankha) is blown, the primal sound
of Om emerges. Om is the sound that was emanated by God before creation of the

The conch (sankha) is one of the attributes of Lord
Vishnu. It is said that once a demon name Sankhasura harassed the
Demigods  and stole the Vedas and hid himself in an ocean. Lord Visnu
incarnated as a huge golden fish ie Matsya Avatar  and killed the demon.
After this the Lord is supposed to have blown the conch- shaped bone of the ear
of Sankhasura. From this, arose the sound Om and from this sound emerged the
Vedas. The conch is therefore known as sankha after Sankhasura. The conch of
Lord Vishnu or Lord Krishna is called the Pancajanya. It represents dharma or
righteousness, which is one of the four objectives (purusarthas) of human life.
The sound of the conch also symbolises the victory of the good over the evil.

During the ancient times, conches would be also
blown before the start of a battle.There are two well-known verses in the first
chapter of the Bhagvad Gita which describe the conches of Lord Krishna and the
Pandavas on the battlefield of Kuruksetra-

Lord Krishna (Hrisikesa) blew His conch shell,
called Pancajanya; Arjuna blew his, the Devadatta; and Bhima, the
voracious eater and performer of herculean tasks, blew his terrific
conchshell, called Paundra’.

King Yudhishthira, the son of Kunti, blew his
conch shell, the Ananta-vijaya, and Nakula and Sahadeva blew the Sughosa
and Manipuspaka. That great archer the King of Kasi, the great fighter
Sikhandi, Dhrishtadyumna, Virata, the unconquerable Satyaki, Drupada, the
sons of Draupadi, and the others, O King, such as the mighty-armed son of
Subhadra, all blew their respective conch shells.’

Conches also have been blown during aratis and
important festivals in temples to serve as a reminder to those villagers or
citizens who had missed the worship. The sound of the conch helps people to
make their minds concentrate on God while praying and drive away other stray
thoughts. The conch is placed in temples and even in domestic shrines as a
symbol of Nada Brahma or the sound of Om, the Vedas, dharma, victory and
auspiciousness. It is also at times used to give tirtha water (holy water) to
devotees in a temple.

Because of its close association with Lord Vishnu,
the blowing of the conch is an essential part of Vaishnavite ritual practices.

It is believed the blowing shankha destroys enemies
and also pleases goddess Lakshmi.

Not just for religion, blowing shankha has
scientific and ayurvedic benefits also. As per them, blowing shankha during
puja has benefits on our lungs. This is because for blowing a shankha pure air
reaches the lungs and impure air comes out. This makes the lungs strong.Blowing
shankha also cures diseases of intestines.

Shri Radha

 …The Feminine Nature of God

Millions will gather today, in India and around the world, to offer prayers,
worship, and devotional songs glorifying the appearance of the Divine mother,
Radha (Radharani). Radha descended from the spiritual realm shortly after
Krishna, approximately 5,000 years ago. She took birth in the small village
known as Barsana, which is about 28 miles from Mathura, the birth place of

The word Radha comes from the Sanskrit verbal root radh, which means to
worship, and the word rani, which means queen. Radharani can be literally
translated to mean "the queen of worship." In some texts, she is
described as "the supreme goddess who is worshipable by everyone. She is
the protector of all, and she is the mother of the entire universe."

The answer to the question that has been on everyone's mind for millennia
is, YES and NO. The question is: Is God a Man? God is not just male, and
according to some Vedic scriptures, God has both masculine and feminine
expansions. In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna provides a sneak preview into these
feminine traits.

"Among women I am fame, fortune, fine speech, memory, intelligence,
steadfastness and patience."

However, in some of the more esoteric texts such as the Puranas and the
Chaitanya-Caritamrita, it explains that the complete manifestation of God
includes his feminine counterpart, Radha. They are inconceivably one and different,
as Krishna expanded himself into two for the purpose of exchanging love.
There's a beautiful description in the Chaitanya-Caritamrita which gives us a
window into the connection between Radha and Krishna.

"Radha is the full power, and Lord Kṛṣṇa is the possessor of full
power. The two are not different, as evidenced by the revealed scriptures. They
are indeed the same, just as musk and its scent are inseparable, or as fire and
its heat are non-different. Thus Rādhā and Kṛiṣhṇa are one, yet they have taken
two forms to enjoy the mellows of pastimes."

This concept is not an easy one to grasp. If God is full and complete, why
does he need to expand himself to exchange love? The next question we can ask
is why does God need to do anything? God has a personality which indicates that
he has preferences. Perhaps this need to expand for the purpose of exchanging
love speaks of the importance love plays in the lives of all individuals.

Our desire to love and be loved comes from God. For the most part, no one
wants to be alone, at least not permanently. The thing everyone is chasing
after is love. We all want to know that there are people out there that love
us. Simultaneously, we hanker to be able to give our love to others.

There is another passage in the Caitanya-Caritamrita that describes Radha's
qualities and love for Krishna.

"Radharani's body, mind, and words are steeped in love for Krishna …
The body of Radharani is a veritable transformation of love of Godhead. Even
Krishna can't understand the strength of Radha's love which overwhelms Him. Her
transcendental body is complete with unparalleled spiritual qualities. Even
Lord Kṛiṣhṇa Himself cannot reach the limit of the transcendental qualities of

These are some of Radha's prominent qualities:

1. Radha is adolescent and always freshly youthful.

2. Radharani is very sweet and most charming to look at.

3. Radha's face is smiling and ever blissful.

4. Radharani is the most exceptional singer and veena player.

5. Radha's words are charming and pleasing.

6. Radha is exceptionally humble.

7. Radha is the embodiment of mercy and compassion.

8. Radha possesses Mahabhava, the highest sentiment of love.

9. Radha always keeps Krishna under Her control. Krishna submissively obeys
Radha's command

These topics of divine and spiritual love between Radha and Krishna will
always remain a mystery as long as we remain on the material platform. Love on
the spiritual platform is devoid of selfishness. The needs and interests on the
other take precedence over one's own needs. The kind of love that comes closest
to spiritual love is the love exhibited by a mother towards her child. It's
full of sacrifice and is completely selfless; it is without expectation.

The feeling of love is derived from the service itself. The child is limited
in its capacity to reciprocate the mother's love. Even if it increases its
demands, the mother keeps on giving. Most of us can only imagine a relationship
where the reciprocation of love and service is completely selfless and without
expectation. It's the kind of love our hearts hanker for.

The path of bhakti or devotional service prepares one's heart and
consciousness — by eradicating selfishness and incorporating selflessness — to
understand and experience that divine love which exists between Radha and

This is a wonderful day to meditate and reflect on the beautiful selfless
qualities of Radharani and pray that we can to some degree follow in her

Natural disasters?

As we look around the world, or watch and read the
news, practically everywhere is affected by some kind of natural disaster.
Floods are displacing millions of people, forest fires are destroying thousands
of acres and burning out of control, earthquakes continue to force people to
live in fear, and tornadoes and hurricanes have become more fierce and numerous
than ever. And if that is not enough, droughts are causing massive crop damage
and water shortages.

The fact is that nobody likes a loss, no matter how
great or small it may be. And a disaster can take years to recover from, which
can only increase our struggle to exist in this world. So what are we to make
of all this? Is this just our own bad luck? Is this some kind of karmic
reaction we are suffering? Is this merely the way life goes on in this material
world? Or is this what God is doing to us? In fact, where is God in all of

From a spiritual perspective, when we ask
"Where is God in all of this?" we must understand that to blame God
for the way the world works is our own ignorance. And this ignorance is only
the misguided perception of the absence of God, just as darkness is only the
absence of light. From the very beginning, the world and everything in it is
temporary. Or did you forget that? Our existence in this material world is also
temporary. But we get so accustomed to the idea that things are going to go on
the way we expect them to, that we are thrown completely out of whack when they
don’t, and especially when the world throws reversals into our life. There is
an old saying: Show me a world with security, and I will show you an illusion.
The point is that change is the only constant in this world, which also implies
that change means a lack of security due to not knowing what we can really
expect in the future. And it is a challenge to remain balanced in all of this.
And the only way you can do that is by attaining a spiritual consciousness. Let
me explain:

Natural disasters go on in varying degrees on a
daily basis, whether we notice them or not. Nature also means neutral, and it
acts in whatsoever way it does to provide balance, even if it may seem cruel,
as in the way stronger animals feed off the weak. That is a law of nature, and
however cruel it may seem to be, in this world that is how balance is
maintained in many cases so that certain species do not overpopulate. In this
and so many other ways, nature acts in a way to help maintain balance in this

So when natural disasters hit humanity, as in
events mentioned in the first paragraph, it forces us to become more clear
regarding the temporary nature of this world, and more cooperative with that
principle, whether we like it or not. Natural disasters can also provide a way
to discern what is really important and what is not. We may have lost so many
of our possessions, but we may still have our life. And if we lose our life or
someone we know, we again have to realize the importance of how to live with
whatever time we may have, fully knowing that tomorrow is promised to no one.
Then we have to shed those things that, in the end, we are bound to lose
anyway. Loss is no easy thing in one’s life, but better to go through stages of
preparation than to be tested only at the very end of our lives at the time of
death when it may be more difficult than ever to lose everything you hold dear.
We need to be ready to go forward into the next realm rather than being held
back by all the longings we have for the attachments we have accrued in this
life. This is the lesson we should learn by experiencing various natural
disasters on a personal level, or by observing those that go on around us. In
this way, disasters of any kind can act as lessons that pull away the layers of
illusion that hold us to the false impression of who or what we think we are in
this material realm.

This is how there is some good in any situation,
regardless of how awful it may seem. God does many things in one move, or one
act. And in one major event, so many things may have been put into motion for
many positive things to take place in the long run. Sometimes you can see that
in the change of the psyche of innumerable people in the world that may have
been affected by whatever event has happened, especially when they deal with
the event by pulling together to sort out the new challenges they have to face.
In this way, there is hope for a new vision, a new awareness, a new spirit of
cooperation and view of each other.

For example, when a tornado destroys a neighborhood
or town, everyone has to drop their ego and their differences in order to work
together to make things operate smoothly again. So many trees may have been
blown over, dropping electrical lines and stopping the flow of power or
communication. Then people must work together to help clean up, get things
working again, or check on the elderly to see if they are all right. And the
more we work together, the easier it becomes for everyone. But is not that the
case with life in general? Sometimes we forget, until a natural disaster again
forces us to take a second look at who we are, who are our neighbors, and
possibly with less judgmentalism than before. So sometimes we must get conked
on the head, so to speak, to force ourselves to look at who we are and where
our life is taking us. It is strange that sometimes this will not happen unless
some major turning point takes place in our lives. These things show how well
the world can move when we cooperate, when we acknowledge our need for each
other and also our joy at being needed or giving to a higher cause by helping

With this new vision of ourselves and who we are
and how we fit into the world, we may then see how God is found in all the acts
of care and concern in each person around us. When the world comes together to
help each other or those who have been affected by the disaster, all the
kindness, consideration, the prayers, the donations, the heart-felt love that
is now more prevalent than ever, is all part of our spiritual nature. When we
consider all of this, we can see that each act of kindness is like the light of
God everywhere. We simply have to be more willing to keep this spiritual
renewal and vision in our heart and minds in our everyday lives.

In this way, the tragedy itself, whatever it may
be, will have made us more humble, more cooperative, and a kinder person. It
makes us realize our vulnerability, both individually and collectively. It
makes us realize how fragile life can be, and how we should also appreciate
whatever blessings we have. It forces a reassessment of who we are and, if we
learn the lesson properly, gives an opportunity for a voluntary renewal in our
spirituality. It also helps separate the superficial from what is really
important. That is why we must always cling to our spiritual identity and the
grace of God and be ready for anything.

Regarding those who may have died, what do we do
for them? We have to remember that the soul, our real identity, never dies. It
is eternal, so it merely moves on to another realm. Death is a soul’s change of
focus from one plane of existence to another. The legacy of those who have
departed is the renewed unity found in us survivors, and the reason to work
together more closely than ever. It shows the reason why we must shed our
dislike or unfamiliarity with each other. Their legacy is that this has brought
us together in a mood of solidarity. It reawakens us to our dependency on God
and His protection. This is the legacy of those we have lost in such
situations. This is their gift to us. Let us keep this gift precious so it does
not take another tragedy or loss to again reawaken ourselves to how special we
all are.

We also must understand that in these sorts of
tragedies, no one is sacrificed or dies in vain. The Lord of all casts aside no
sincere soul, regardless of caste or creed, for all paths ultimately point
toward the same God. They have not left us but only gone on before us. There is
always a purpose behind everything, whether we understand it or not. So let us
give them our blessings and pray for their safe journey to higher realms. Let
God bless and guide all those who have departed from us.

However, when such disasters are related to
man-made problems, like the failure of nuclear reactors, or oil spills and the
like, this is simply because things are becoming too complex and out of
control, or too far away from the way we need to cooperate with nature. It is a
sign that we need to change and simplify our lives and actions. It is like
nature shaking the tree to drop the unnecessary fruits. Then we merely have to
change our vision and the values that we have to again begin to move in the
right direction.

Disasters or tragedies created by fanatical
religious terrorism is in a category by itself, apart from natural disasters.
Such events are not a display of one’s allegiance to God, but a show of hatred
for one’s fellow man, only because a section of society seems different, or
that they follow a different spiritual path. This is spiritual blindness. Let
us not follow in their ways of being oblivious to the unity and Divinity with
all of us. But let us drop the superficialities and cooperate together, knowing
full well that such is the way to make life easier for all of us. The desire to
conquer or convert is the most divisive path there can be, and we have seen for
many centuries that it has been the most cruel and destructive as well. And has
the world gotten better because of it? No, in fact, it has only increased the
fear and chaos in the world instead.

Let us also remember as we face such predicaments
or tragedies, our greatest strengths and developments are often revealed
through our most difficult challenges. Therefore, through such tests and by
working together to improve things because of such difficulties, we will come
ever closer to see the real potential and character of ourselves and the people
involved. It will show the world the exceptional possibilities of real
cooperation and understanding that can exist. It can show everyone the unity
that can come from a spiritual renewal and reawakening.

Therefore, in such situations we should pray for
the dead that they can be escorted to higher realms by God’s guiding light. We
also pray for the well-being of the injured, the survivors, and the families
who have lost loved ones, that they be soothed by God’s grace. We pray for us
to become free from the shock and sadness that this sudden change has caused.
But let us learn the lesson in the proper way so we can move forward with

Let us also pray for the help from the volunteers
and rescuers, those who donate much needed money to rebuild, and all who give
their time and prayers to get us through this tragedy. Let the light of love,
hope and upliftment shine forth and fill the world with God’s grace, beauty and
power. Let everyone see the sense of living in peace and cooperation. Before we
attack or criticize others, let us see our own faults which we must route out.
Let us work on cleansing our own minds and purifying our own hearts, and then
extend that encouragement to others.

Let us turn hate to love, enmity to friendship,
strangeness to familiarity, greed to generosity, war to peace, and fear into
hope. Let us pray for the good of all, and grow with the challenges, finding
strength in the Supreme. May God protect us in all directions and guide us
through whatever difficulties that appear in our lives.

In conclusion, let us offer our respect to God, and
let Him kindly vanquish our demon-like desires for selfish or fruitive
activities in this material world. Please dear Lord, appear in our hearts and
drive away our ignorance so that by Your mercy we may become fearless in the
struggle for existence in this temporary realm. May there be good fortune
throughout the universe, and may all envious persons be pacified. May all
living beings become calm by practicing devotion to You, for by accepting such
service they will realize Your Divinity in each and every person, and thus
think of each other’s welfare. Therefore, let us all engage in the service of
the Supreme Being, Lord Sri Krishna, and always remain absorbed in thought of
Him. (Bhagavata Purana 5.18.8-9)

The peace formula

The great mistake of modern civilization is to
encroach upon others’ property as though it were one's own and to thereby
create an unnecessary disturbance of the laws of nature. These laws are very
strong. No living entity can violate them. Only one who is Krishna conscious
can easily overcome the stringency of the laws of nature and thus become happy
and peaceful in the world.

As a state is protected by the department of law
and order, so the state of Universe, of which this earth is only an
insignificant fragment, is protected by the laws of nature. This material
nature is one of the different potencies of God, who is the ultimate proprietor
of everything that be. This earth is, therefore, the property of God, but we,
the living entities, especially the so-called civilized human beings, are
claiming God's property as our own, under both an individual and collective
false conception. If you want peace, you have to remove this false conception
from your mind and from the world. This false claim of proprietorship by the
human race on earth is partly or wholly the cause of all disturbances of peace
on earth.

Foolish and so-called civilized men are claiming
proprietary rights on the property of God because they have now become godless.
You cannot be happy and peaceful in a godless society. In the Bhagavad-gitä
Lord Krishna says that He is the factual enjoyer of all activities of the
living entities, that He is the Supreme Lord of all universes, and that He is
the well-wishing friend of all beings. When the people of the world know this
as the formula for peace, it is then and there that peace will prevail.

Therefore, if you want peace at all, you will have
to change your consciousness into Krishna consciousness, both individually and
collectively, by the simple process of chanting the holy name of God. This is a
standard and recognized process for achieving peace in the world. We therefore
recommend that everyone become Krishna conscious by chanting Hare Krishna, Hare
Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Räma, Hare Räma, Räma Räma, Hare

This is practical, simple, and sublime. Four
hundred and eighty years ago this formula was introduced in India by Lord Sri
Caitanya, and now it is available in your country. Take to this simple process
of chanting as above mentioned, realize your factual position by reading the
Bhagavad-gitä As It Is, and reestablish your lost relationship with Krishna,
God. Peace and prosperity will be the immediate worldwide result.

Do you believe in reincarnation?


The Bhagavad-gita, the principal scripture of the
Hare Krishna movement, and the roots of understanding reincarnation, states “As
the embodied soul continually passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to
old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. The
self-realized soul is not bewildered by such a change.”

The Vedas further explain that the soul in the
material world transmigrates within a cycle of material birth and death through
8,400,000 forms of life. The human form, however, is the only birth which
affords one the chance for spiritual realization. Species lower than humans are
not endowed with sufficient intelligence to understand the soul as different
from the body.

Active Spirituality

Of course, any Joe can’t just come waltzing into the room, demanding “Show
me Krishna!” and expect the Supreme Personality of Godhead to show up on his
doorstep. You can’t just waltz into the White House and demand to see the
President. They’ll throw you out on your ear.

If you want to see an important person, there’s a process you’ll have to go
through. If you want to see Krishna, the most important person – and if you
want to directly experience spiritual reality – it’s definitely possible, but
there is a process.

Preliminary Preparation

 Let’s say I’m trying to see some little one-celled do-dads in my
Biology class. The first thing I need to do is make sure the microscope is
clean. Without clean instruments, I’ll never get an accurate result.

If I’m trying to see the reality of spirituality, the first thing I need to
do is make sure my instruments are clean. What are the  “instruments?” The
instruments are the senses.

The self peers out at the world through the senses of the body, which have
become clogged and fogged by our attachments and illusions. Thus, we have
trouble seeing anything as it really is. To prepare our senses for perceiving
Krishna, we need to sweep out the dust of our attachments and wipe off the mist
of illusion. There are four ways to do it:

1. Meat-eating

There will be a whole article on this later, but right now let me just say
this: Meat-eating is totally unnecessary violence, not only to the animals
slaughtered, but to the tons of plants needlessly stuffed into the poor animals
to fatten them up, to the human beings who eat the flesh at the risk of their
own health, and to the ecosystem of the entire planet earth which is forced to
support this insanely decadent “agriculture.”

When you get angry and violent, you can’t see straight. Meat is the end
product of violence. Eating it clouds our mind and senses, impairing our
ability to perceive reality.

Besides that, as long as one chooses to live by unnecessarily causing pain
to other living creatures, one will not be admitted into spiritual reality –
where life is full of selfless compassion. So if you want to cultivate
spirituality, become a vegetarian, putting aside all meat, fish, and eggs.

Becoming vegetarian will change your consciousness. Try it for a few weeks and
you’ll not only feel better, but you will think differently. And you will
contribute to a less violent world.

2. Intoxication

 Relief. Let me escape this boring sameness, this grinding gray
monotony. I need some excitement, some spice; some crack, some mesc, some
snow-white. Let me think I’m funny. Yeah, let me think I’m sly. Let me think
I’m sexy and strong. And having a good time. Oh make me think I’m having a good
time. Genie in my bottle, let me lie it all away. O genie in my bottle. O genie
in my bottle.

I can totally relate to that whole situation. We all know material life is
boring as hell, if not outright painful. But your smack, crack, and six-pack
isn’t but a loser’s proposition for burying your head in a beer can, like an
ostrich in the sand.

Society has you bought and sold, and you gulp down the bait. Society doesn’t
want you to change. They teach you to deal with the thorns of this world by
getting blasted so flat you can’t even feel the pain. Society wants your mind a
mess, your vision so blurry that everything starts looking real soft and

Denounce this lie.

I do not pretend, and I don’t believe the pretense of others. The thorns I
suffer are real. Don’t let anyone tell you different. We can pull out the
thorns of material life only by reviving our original spiritual consciousness,
Krishna consciousness. Give up the crutch.

3. Illicit Sex

This is a difficult subject to understand for many because we have been
raised in a sex crazed culture, and what we are going to say here could sound
Victorian to you. I have lived on both sides of the fence and can testify that
we waste a lot of valuable energy – and money – being controlled by both the
gross and subtle manifestations of sex ( spending lots of time, money, and our
precious mental energy looking good and hoping others think we look sexy).

As soon as I subscribe to the whole sex-craze of modern culture, I sign away
my free will and become a puppet on the strings of the advertising industry,
whose number one priority is to keep me in illusion so I’ll buy their products.
A puppet cannot forge ahead in self-realization; a puppet can only dance to the
whims of the puppeteer.

“Illicit sex” means unnatural sex. “Natural sex”  is sex intended and
allowed to develop to its natural fruit, a baby. It is also natural that the
baby should be raised by loving, married parents in a stable home, being
carefully given the opportunity to fulfill the highest potential of human life,

In other words, illicit sex means sex outside of marriage or unrestricted
sex in marriage. Animals also eat, sleep, mate and defend, so if our
consciousness is too much focused on any or all of these activities, we aren’t
doing much better than the animals. And human life is meant for something much
greater than fulfilling the urges of the body.

Can sexual control change your consciousness and life? India has a long
tradition of the practice of celibacy for men before marriage (and some men for
their entire lifetime) called brahmacarya, because they understand the mental,
physical and spiritual benefits it offers. (Eastern medicine understands that
life force – called prana, ojas, or chi, is weakened every time a man
discharges semen.) Even boxers and wrestlers understand this principle as 
they practice celibacy weeks before a match. In addition, many ancient cultures
understood the immense benefits of controlling sexual lust.

Many great men of the world, such as Gandhi, Pythagoras, and others,
practiced celibacy. It is an ancient practice that has gone so out of fashion
in our modern culture it is unfortunately often looked at with repulsion.

Experience the many wonderful benefits of sexual control – including a calm
mind and body –  by abstaining from sex for a period of time.

 4. Gambling

You can’t get something for nothing. Gambling nourishes the cheating
mentality, giving birth to greed, selfishness, and envy – all of which are
diametrically opposed to the spiritual qualities that help us achieve an
undistorted experience of reality.

Gambling is another tool of the used to keep the population docile. Another
false hope for happiness which occupies our time and divers us from real
personal and social advancement.

Positive Spirituality

As the four preliminaries are being practiced, our instruments are getting
tuned up and polished, fit to begin directly perceiving God and the spiritual

I divided this article into two main sections, “preliminary preparation” and
“positive spirituality.” But it’s not like one has to be perfectly complete
before you can proceed to the other.

The two are not sequential. Rather, they both give strength to the other.

Now, we can say that there are two knowables: things and persons, or objects
and subjects.

If you want to know an object, you can stick it under your microscope, heat
it up, stretch it out, hurl it through space, whatever. It’s an object, and you
can control it. You can experiment with it as you like.

If you want to get to know a person, you don’t bring him into the laboratory
and stick litmus paper on him. You do nice things for him. You develop
friendship and gain his trust. Gradually he will tell you all his most intimate
secrets. Only then can you really know a person.

God is a subject, not an object; a person, not a “thing.” We can’t stick God
on a slide and clamp Him under our microscope. As long as we treat Him like an
object to be conquered by our intelligence, we will never understand or
experience Him.

Spiritual reality is personal, and Krishna is a person. To know this person,
do nice things for Him – simple devotional service. Develop a friendly
relationship. Gradually, He will reveal His intimate secrets to you – even to
the point of coming directly before you in an intimate relationship.

The key element in experiencing spiritual reality, more important than an
impressive vocabulary and a high IQ, is this: service.

Service to Krishna is very simple and easy. You can quickly become dear to
Krishna just by rendering a little simple service to Him. Respecting our free
will, Krishna allows us the choice to leave Him and do our own thing in the
material world. But that unfortunate decision brings only headache and grief.
Krishna wants happiness for everyone. He looks forward to our return to the
spiritual sky.

The most potent and simple service of all is just singing or chanting
Krishna’s names

Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna,Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare,

Hare Rama, Hare Rama,Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

There is another article on this site that explains the chanting.

So what you have here is an outline for a truly alternative lifestyle. A
revolutionary approach to living. It’s not all talk, no action. It peels off
the conditioning of illusion and gradually brings first-hand experience of the
highest realities, including, ultimately, Krishna Himself.

Try it out and experience it for yourself.

Individuality. Behind the mask. Beyond the labels.

Here’s a letter I got:

“Let’s face it, you joined a club, a religion, just like everyone else. You
totally gave up your individuality You all believe the same things. You’re no longer
an individual. And many of you all dress the same.

Here’s what I wrote back:

“You seem to value individuality very highly. But what you say in your
letter destroys true individuality and defines people as nothing more than
blank robots ready to be programmed.

According to you, a person has to be made into a individual by the clothes
he/she wears, the music he/she listens to, etc. It’s the things we do that make
us into the individuals we are; and if we don’t do the “right” things according
to you,  we lose our individuality.

If I have to make myself an individual, then I must not be an individual to
begin with. I must be some kind of blank slate who has to go out and buy my
person hood, and wear my “individuality.”

You’ve turned individuality into something bought from thrift stores and
hair salons.

Practicing being spiritually conscious, I don’t take individuality so
cheaply. An individual is something I am, not something I become. Real
individuality is not the clothes you wear, or the style of your hair. It’s deep
inside the self-an in alterable, eternal reality.

Take 300 people. Give them all the exact same haircut, dress them all up in
identical 3-piece suits and ties, and line them up against a white wall. That’s
300 people with exactly the same clothes and hair. But if you go and talk to
them, you’ll find each one remains a unique person, a unique individual.

Our dress doesn’t make or break our individuality. A green vinyl spiked
jumpsuit and purple beehive hairdo make me no more or less an individual than
an orange robe and a shaved head, because individuality has nothing to do with
external appearance.

Therefore, just because the Krishnas dress similarly doesn’t mean they’ve
lost their individuality.

“But the Krishnas all believe the same thing. That makes them one big herd
of sheep…”

I don’t get your logic. You’re saving individuality is preserved only as
long as people disagree with each other? As soon as they all agree, they become
a bunch of clones, a “herd of sheep”? That’s a philosophy that doesn’t work in
the real world.

In math everyone believes 2+2=4. Everyone believes the same exact thing. Do
you plan on writing to all the mathematicians, informing them that they’re all
a bunch of mindless followers, a herd of sheep with no individuality?

Like math, Krishna consciousness is an empirically verifiable science, which
deals rationally with the subject of spirituality. Thus it’s no more unusual
for two devotees to believe the same basic things than it is for two
mathematicians to believe 2+2=4.

A person’s individuality is not lost by becoming Krishna conscious. On the
contrary, our true individuality will not fully manifest until we become
Krishna conscious.

A devotee intensely loves individuality and personality, knowing that these
qualities are two of the most essential qualities of the deepest self. But when
we plunge into material consciousness, we bury that priceless individuality,
mountains of ego, profiles, and false identities.

Mainstream society ‘educates’ us to live as if we are our bodies. This makes
us objects, non-persons, non-individuals.

If I see the self as my body and I see the body as a collection of atoms and
electrons, atoms and electrons are objects, without personality or
individuality.Therefore I see myself as an object, without personality or

The body is a costume of the soul, a temporary character accepted in the
fantasy-role-playing game of material life. To become Krishna conscious is to
gradually rise above the confining illusion of bodily identification and
uncover the true self, the real individual person – behind all the masks 
and beyond all the acts.

Krishna consciousness does not take away individuality. It reveals the
fullest potential of individuality by reviving the original spiritual identity.

Follow yourself

I travel the world teaching spiritual principles.
What follows is an interesting discussion I had with some young men.

“I don’t need God,” says the spokesman. “I have my
own way.”

“Okay, ” I say. “What ‘way’ is that way?”

He was expecting that answer. He hesitates. Finally
he speaks up, “I believe in my own self. I rely on my own self. I follow only
my own self.”

“You believe in your self, rely on your self, and
follow your self. Great… Who is that self?”

More hesitation. He tries to answer, but realizes
he can't.

I ask them, “How can you believe in it, rely on it,
and follow it if you don’t even know what it is?”

He answers with silence.

“This is why you need spiritual knowledge and a
spiritual practice. This will help you realize your self.

“The first point is that the self is not the body.”

He responds, “Yes. I am not the body. I am the
collection of all my ideals."

“These ideals are not the self,” I say. “They’re
all impressed upon you from outside yourself.”

We talk more. They eventually agree: The self is
beyond the body and the ideals of the mind. Then I ask, “We know what the self
isn’t. But what is it?”

“The spirit?”

“Yes. The self is a particle of spirit, a part of
the complete spirit. Just like a guitar string is a part of the complete
guitar. If you rip off that guitar string and throw it on the sidewalk out here
– what value does it have?”


“Yeah, it’s useless. But when you connect that
string to the complete guitar, tune it up and all that – it has so much value,
right? It can make music. It can make songs … The string is valuable when it
works for the complete guitar; but on its own, setting on the sidewalk, it’s
worthless. The part becomes useless when it’s not connected to the complete

They nod.

“The self, the individual spirit,” I continued, “is
a part of the complete spirit. When the self tries to live separately from the
complete self, he or she is like the guitar string rusting on the sidewalk. And
that’s what we’ve done – disconnected ourselves from the complete. Just like
the guitar string, our value is forgotten, our meaning is forgotten. Most of
our time is spent trying to fill in the gaps of a hollow life as we loiter on
the sidewalk."

“The real nature of the self,” I explain, “is to
serve the complete self, just like the string serves the complete guitar and
reaches its highest expression and fulfillment in the process.”

“What do you mean, ‘Complete self?” they ask.

“You know: God. Whatever you call him. Jesus,
Krishna, Allah… The highest expression of the self is to serve God.”


“That’s what it really means to ‘follow yourself.’
That’s what we call Krishna consciousness.”

They were thoughtful. I was thankful

Is Science Another Of Those Fanatical Relegions?

( The Hindu,Kerala edition,Sun,17.6.2012, Open Page )

By Professor B. M. Hegde

³Intellectual integrity made it quite impossible for me to accept the myths
and dogmas of even very great scientists, more particularly of the belligerent
and so-called advanced nations. Indeed, those intellectuals who accepted them
were abdicating their functions for the joy of feeling themselves at one with
the herd.²‹ Bertrand Russell 1872-1969.

Is science really serious when scientists claim that only science is
authentic and all else is unreal? Has science lost its heart? Is science
another of those fanatical tight-knit religions? Why is science being sold as
the only route to human wisdom? Eons before modern science of the West came
into being humankind existed here with all the wisdom which we claim we have

Science and technology in ancient India, China and Egypt have had their
hoary past. Some of the leading western scientists paid their obeisance to the
wisdom of those civilisations. Many of them have admitted that they built their
views sitting on the shoulders of some of the thinker- philosophers of yore! In
the true sense of the word, science is only a method to understand the working
of this universe. In that sense, science is a great exercise, but to sell
science as the be-all and end-all of human wisdom to the exclusion of all other
fields of knowledge is the height of foolishness and short-sightedness. It is
that institution of science that one has to shun.

In fact, science, as it is being practised now, is a highly materialistic
enterprise. Consequently, it wants to maintain its hegemony and grip on the establishment.
Any criticism of science is frowned upon even by the laypeople who have been
thoroughly brainwashed to believe that science has the legitimate right to
supremacy in this world. Some of the material comforts of technology like
communications, transportation and electricity have added proof that the
science base of these technologies is to be venerated. Scientists are so
deluded by their invincibility that they have no patience to listen to any
other view. There is no debate in this arena. As long as there is no debate,
there will be no progress.

The upper castes among the scientists, the Nobels, the big-time grant
collectors, the fat CV holders, the FRSs, the sarkari scientists (who were
ready to sell the country to private companies), the thought leaders, etc.,
have built a strong fortress around them that no one will dare differ with
their views. Once you get into that club, you could say anything and get away
with it. The scientific establishment has found an easy way to keep outsiders
at bay and keep its flock together. Its journals have what it calls the peer
review system, which is the easiest way to eliminate all dissenting opinions.

In this area, medical science is at its worst. The drug and device lobbies
have the monopoly for ³scientific² publications here. For every industry-
funded positive study there are, on average, five negative studies which do not
get published and see the light of day in print for thinking people to read and

This is the main reason why many complementary and alternative systems of
medicine have been discouraged. Even the public's perception of them as not
reliable came about because the main line medicine has tried its best to see
that other systems of human healing are looked down upon albeit their antiquity
and authenticity.

When you audit modern medicine at its best in the U.S., the results are
anything but laudatory. The audit by Gary Null and colleagues, based on U.S.
government figures, shockingly show that the whole establishment of modern
medicine, in its present avatar, is the leading killer in that country. America
spends the highest per capita expense for sickness care with the worst health
scenario and the lowest longevity among the 14 industrialised countries

The layman has a misconception about people living beyond 70 years these
days. Most of them think that it is the increased life span due to the impact
of hi-tech medical science. The truth is it is not life span but life
expectancy, a statistical term used to mislead people. When infant mortality
falls drastically and people have food to eat and a job to do with clean water
to drink, they live longer but the contribution of modern medicine in this area
is negligible.

Two examples will suffice. The British Army had 100% mortality among the
grievously injured soldiers at Scutari in the Crimean War until Florence
Nightingale went there. She brought it down to 40% in a month using buckets,
soap, bandage, bread and soup alone, there being no medical help at that time
as the British did not have any hospital there.

Ignaz Philipp Semmelweis (1818 1865), a Hungarian physician, showed that
doctors washing hands between dissecting the dead body and delivering babies
would bring down puerperal fever deaths significantly. He was using his keen
sense of observation. His observation led him to deduct the cause of puerperal
fever as transfer of poisons (now we call them germs) from the dead body to the
parturient mother.

He also observed his best professor dying of the same puerperal fever after
the student's scalpel cut his finger accidentally. Of course, Ignaz's
colleagues ignored him and killed more and more women. They even admitted him
to the mental hospital where he died due to desperation!

Even today the nosocomial infections kill patients by their thousands all
over the globe with ³big² doctors still disobeying the hospital routine of
washing hands between patients!

That's because bacteria are becoming so resistant to common antibiotics that
the phenomenon will bring about the ³end of modern medicine as we know it,²
warns Margaret Chan, Director-General of the WHO.

If science is measurement and measurement is science (Marie Curie), then
there are lots of things all outs with sciences. If ³science is making models,
mostly mathematical constructs, which with verbal jargon are supposed to work,²
(John von Newmann), then science is as good as dead. ³There is no logic to
science. Scientists create and adhere to scientific theories for what are
ultimately subjective and even irrational reasons. It cannot be denied that the
chief engine of human destructiveness has been the phenomenal success of
science in the 20th century,² writes Paul Karl Feyerbend in his classic Against
Method written in 1975 with its new 2010 edition published in New York. ³…Asked
why it was so important for him to be convincing people about his evolutionary
Œscience' as Œthe only truth,' Richard Dawkins replied, ³Because it's so
beautiful ‹ it's such a magnificent thing to live in the universe and to
understand the universe in which you live, to be a part of life and to
understand the life of which you are a part, to understand why you were born
before you have to die… And it's so sad that people go to their grave without
understanding why they were born in the first place.² This is the scientific
arrogance that needs to be put down.

Better methods

In conclusion, one could easily say science as defined above probably knows
very little of reality. There are equally good, if not better, methods to human
wisdom. People who have not seen God swear by Him; a scientist has not seen an
electron but swears by it. Both are irrational in one sense but, the latter
gets all the recognition.

What is the purpose of life?

So now that we find ourselves in this human form,
and in this material world, what are we really supposed to do with it?
Everybody at some point in their life wonders why God created this world and
how they got here, and what they are meant to do. The world is obviously meant
for those who have a taste for bodily existence in which they can try to enjoy
the pleasure of the senses. So the material creation is manifested for the
sense enjoyment of the conditioned soul. It is the playground for those who
want this form of existence. What this means is that the infinitesimal living being
has the limited free will to think of himself as he likes. That is also one
purpose of the illusory energy that the tiny spirit soul has the independence
to pretend to be something other than what he really is. Then he projects his
beliefs and his self-image out into the world around him. Thus, it is as if he
becomes a world unto himself. And this is the world of maya, illusion. One
cannot trace out the history of when some of the living beings first wanted to
enjoy material nature, but the cause is there. So to fulfill that desire, out
of compassion the Lord provided the material creation.

However, we often find that the pleasure of the
mind and senses only goes so far; it is limited, temporary, and does not really
satisfy the soul, which is the real identity of the living being. So, with
compassion, the Supreme Lord also creates the material manifestation in a way
that can give the living beings a chance to work out their material desires and
understand their real spiritual position. By following the proper instructions
that the Supreme provides, the living being can be delivered from the repeated
cycle of birth, death, and the suffering in materialistic life by regaining his
original spiritual consciousness and eternal position. So whenever you don't know
what you are supposed to do in life, or whenever you do not remember who you
are, you simply read the instructions that have been provided by the Supreme
Being. Don't think the Lord created this world without giving us the means to
get out of our confusion, or get out of this world altogether.

So the basis of the material creation is to give
the living beings the chance either to follow their material and bodily desires
and cultivate more gratification of the temporary senses, or progress toward
ultimate liberation through spiritual progress. Everyone has the independence
to make that choice. No one is forced to do one or the other. However,
short-lived sense gratification can be achieved even in the animal species.
Therefore, the topmost use of human life is to engage in the advancement of
Self-realization. This is also explained in Srimad-Bhagavatam (11.9.29), which
says that after many lifetimes one finally achieves a human birth. Although a
human lifetime is temporary and can be short, usually only 60, 70, or maybe 100
years, it affords one the opportunity to reach the highest perfection in
spiritual life. One lifetime is all it takes to make the necessary spiritual
advancement to enter the higher realm. This is the way a sober person should
act in order to prevent falling back into the cycle of repeated births and
deaths by chasing after his sensual desires.

Once we again engage in genuine spiritual
practices, which are the natural activities of the pure living being, our
normal state of being can be reawakened in which we are fully satisfied in
spiritual bliss. It is simply a matter of making the connection and linking
ourselves to the Supreme again. This state of being is attained when one
reaches the pure activities of the soul, which is devotional service to the
Supreme Being. However, when we are covered over by the physical body with a
materialistic consciousness, our desires become polluted with lust, anger,
greed, and foolishness. We think that making the mind and body happy is the
ultimate goal of life. We think if we supply ourselves with all of the demands
of the mind and body, then how much happier can we be? Thus, the soul inside is
forgotten, and we are unable to experience the supremely blissful state found
in regaining our spiritual consciousness. Then, we go through life somehow
feeling empty and unfulfilled and having no clue as to why, even if we have
everything we think we want. Therefore, engaging in the practices that allow us
to regain our spiritual consciousness is the ultimate goal of human life.

Yoga That Works

The yoga most people are familiar with isn't meant
for everyone. In fact, in this age it's hardly possible for anyone.The term
yoga literally means "linking" and refers to linking one's
consciousness with the Supreme. The different yogic processes are named for the
particular method adopted to reawaken one's relationship with the Supreme. For
example, when the linking process is predominantly through one's work (karma),
it is called karma-yoga, and when it is predominantly through philosophical
analysis (jnana), it is called jnana-yoga.

The Vedic literature tells of the sage Visvamitra's
failure to become self-realized after sixty thousand years of rigid yoga
practice, revealing how difficult it is for even the accomplished
transcendentalist to reach perfection by the process of astanga-yoga. In the
Bhagavad-gita Lord Krsna was naturally concerned when Arjuna expressed a desire
to leave the battlefield for a life of meditation. When, in the Sixth Chapter,
Krsna presents an analysis of astanga -yoga, Arjuna finds it too difficult, and
Krsna recommends a more feasible process.

Astanga means "eight parts," and
astanga-yoga is an eight-step process of linking with the Supreme Lord through
meditation on His form within the heart. It emphasizes controlling one's mind.
The materially conditioned mind is absorbed in contemplating objects of sensual
pleasure: sounds, tastes, sights, and so on. By stripping the mind of external
engagements and developing spiritual conviction, the advanced yogi directs his
mind to an awareness of the Supersoul.

Astanga-yoga thus offers a feasible process for
self-realization, and it certainly appeared to Arjuna to be a possible solution
to his anxieties that is, until Lord Krsna explained the qualifications of a
prospective yogacandidate:

To practice yoga, one should go to a secluded place
and should lay kusa grass on the ground and then cover it with a deerskin and
soft cloth. The seat should be neither too high nor too low and should be
situated in a sacred place. The yogi should then sit and firmly practice yoga
to purify the heart by controlling his mind, senses, and activities and fixing
his mind on one point. One should hold one's body, neck, and head erect in a
straight line and stare steadily at the tip of the nose. Thus, with an
unagitated, subdued mind, devoid of fear.completely free from sex life, one
should meditate upon Me within the heart and make Me the ultimate goal of life.
(Bhagavad-gita 6.11-14)

Although Arjuna was a great warrior of the royal
family and a close friend of the Supreme Lord. Sri Krsna, because he had
responsibilities in his family life and occupation he represents the common
man. He therefore expresses to Lord Krsna his doubt about achieving success by
a yoga process that requires one to stay in a secluded place for the rest of
one's life.

Furthermore, even if such retirement were possible,
who but the most elevated renunciants could tolerate the rigid manner of
sitting necessary for eventual perfection? Therefore, in an honest estimation
of his capabilities. Arjuna rejects the astanga-yoga process as a suitable
method for his enlightenment:

O Madhusudana, the system of yoga which You have
summarized appears impractical and undesirable to me. for the mind is restless
and unsteady. The mind is restless, turbulent, obstinate, and very strong, O
Krsna, and to subdue it I think, is more difficult than controlling the wind.
(Bhagavad-gita 6.33-34)

Although Lord Krsna had spent considerable time
explaining this system of yoga to Arjuna. He basically agrees with Arjuna's
analysis: "O mighty-armed son of Kunti, it is undoubtedly very difficult
to curb the restless mind…." Unlike Arjuna, though. Krsna does see a path
to astanga-yoga'seventual success, for He adds: ". . . but it is possible
by constant practice and detachment."

The question therefore arises: What is the practice
for controlling the mind, for certainly almost no one in this age can observe
the strict rules and regulations of astanga-yoga, which demand restraining the
senses and mind, observing celibacy, remaining isolated, and so on? The answer
to howastanga-yoga can be practiced successfully is found in an understanding
of Vedic cosmology.

According to the Vedic literature, time in our
universe proceeds in cycles of 4.300,000 years, which for our purposes can be
called millennia. Each millennium is divided into four ages, called yugas,
which rotate like seasons and have their own characteristics. According to the
capabilities of the populace in each age, a particular practice of yoga is
recommended. For example, in the Satya-yuga people live 100,000 years and are
endowed with exceptional qualities of goodness. The Vedas thus
enjoin‘krteyaddhyayatovisnum’: "In Satya-yuga, meditation on Visnu
[astanga-yoga] is recommended."

The Bhagavad-gita was spoken to Arjuna before the
beginning of Kali-yuga, the last and most degraded part of the millennium. For
most people today, even simple spiritual endeavors seem beyond them. The Vedas
thus recommend, kalau tad dhari-kirtanat: "In the age of Kali,bhakti-yoga
based on chanting the names of the Supreme Lord is recommended."

Although bhakti-yoga is a simple process compared
to the rigors ofastanga-yoga, bhakti-yoga based on the chanting of the Lord's
holy name is nonetheless considered the perfection of yoga. The perfection of
any yoga system is achieved when the mind becomes incapable of deviating from
the Supreme. This final stage of absorption is called samadhi and is described
by Lord Krsna at the completion of His description of the astanga-yogasystem:
"A true yogi observes Me in all beings and also sees every being in Me.
Indeed, the self-realized person sees Me, the same Supreme Lord,

A bhakti-yogi is naturally fixed in this vision,
because out of devotion he busily engages his senses in serving the Supreme
Lord. Furthermore, because of the pleasure derived from such loving devotion,
his mind remains fixed even in the midst of the greatest allurements.

In contrast to Visvamitra Muni's failure to achieve
success by astanga-yoga, we find the example of the great devotee
HaridasaThakura, who resisted the temptation of the Lord's illusory energy
personified an incomparably beautiful woman. Haridasa's perfection illustrates
the superiority of the bhakti-yoga process of chanting the Lord's holy name.
The lives of the devotees of the Lord thus confirm His last instruction about
yoga in the Sixth Chapter of the Gita: "And of all yogis, the one with
great faith who always abides in Me, thinks of Me within himself, and renders
transcendental loving service to Me he is the most intimately united with Me in
yoga and is the highest of all. That is My opinion."

In contrast to Visvamitra Muni's failure to achieve
success by astanga-yoga, we find the example of the great devotee
HaridasaThakura, who resisted the temptation of the Lord's illusory energy
personified an incomparably beautiful woman. Haridasa's perfection illustrates
the superiority of the bhakti-yoga process of chanting the Lord's holy name.
The lives of the devotees of the Lord thus confirm His last instruction about
yoga in the Sixth Chapter of the Gita: "And of all yogis, the one with
great faith who always abides in Me, thinks of Me within himself, and renders
transcendental loving service to Me he is the most intimately united with Me in
yoga and is the highest of all. That is My opinion."

On Chanting Hare Krishna

Although “Hare Krishna” has become a household
word, practically nobody knows what it means. Is it merely a repetitious
incantation designed to hypnotize its practitioners? Is it a form of escapism?
Or is it a genuine meditation that can actually summon higher awareness? In
this short essay, recorded on his first LP in late 1966, Srila Prabhupada
illuminates the inner meaning of the Hare Krishna mantra.

The transcendental vibration established by the
chanting of Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama,
Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare is the sublime method for reviving our
transcendental consciousness. As living spiritual souls, we are all originally
Krishna conscious entities, but due to our association with matter from time
immemorial, our consciousness is now adulterated by the material atmosphere.
The material atmosphere, in which we are now living, is called maya, or
illusion. Maya means “that which is not.” And what is this illusion? The
illusion is that we are all trying to be lords of material nature, while
actually we are under the grip of her stringent laws. When a servant
artificially tries to imitate the all-powerful master, he is said to be in
illusion. We are trying to exploit the resources of material nature, but
actually we are becoming more and more entangled in her complexities.
Therefore, although we are engaged in a hard struggle to conquer nature, we are
ever more dependent on her. This illusory struggle against material nature can
be stopped at once by revival of our eternal Krishna consciousness.

Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare
Hare is the transcendental process for reviving this original, pure
consciousness. By chanting this transcendental vibration, we can cleanse away
all misgivings within our hearts. The basic principle of all such misgivings is
the false consciousness that I am the lord of all I survey.

Krishna consciousness is not an artificial
imposition on the mind. This consciousness is the original, natural energy of
the living entity. When we hear this transcendental vibration, this
consciousness is revived. This simplest method of meditation is recommended for
this age. By practical experience also, one can perceive that by chanting this
maha-mantra, or the Great Chanting for Deliverance, one can at once feel a
transcendental ecstasy coming through from the spiritual stratum. In the
material concept of life we are busy in the matter of sense gratification, as
if we were in the lower, animal stage. A little elevated from this status of
sense gratification, one is engaged in mental speculation for the purpose of
getting out of the material clutches. A little elevated from this speculative
status, when one is intelligent enough, one tries to find out the supreme cause
of all causes—within and without. And when one is factually on the plane of
spiritual understanding, surpassing the stages of sense, mind, and
intelligence, he is then on the transcendental plane. This chanting of the Hare
Krishna mantra is enacted from the spiritual platform, and thus this sound
vibration surpasses all lower strata of consciousness—namely sensual, mental,
and intellectual. There is no need, therefore, to understand the language of
the mantra, nor is there any need for mental speculation, nor any intellectual
adjustment for chanting this maha-mantra. It is automatic, from the spiritual
platform, and as such, anyone can take part in the chanting without any
previous qualification. In a more advanced stage, of course, one is not
expected to commit offenses on the grounds of spiritual understanding.

In the beginning, there may not be the presence of
all transcendental ecstasies, which are eight in number. These are:

(1) being stopped as though dumb,

(2) perspiration,

(3) standing up of hairs on the body,

(4) dislocation of voice,

(5) trembling,

(6) fading of the body,

(7) crying in ecstasy, and

(8) trance.

But there is no doubt that chanting for a while
takes one immediately to the spiritual platform, and one shows the first
symptom of this in the urge to dance along with the chanting of the mantra. We
have seen this practically. Even a child can take part in the chanting and
dancing. Of course, for one who is too entangled in material life, it takes a
little more time to come to the standard point, but even such a materially
engrossed man is raised to the spiritual platform very quickly. When the mantra
is chanted by a pure devotee of the Lord in love, it has the greatest efficacy
on hearers, and as such this chanting should be heard from the lips of a pure
devotee of the Lord, so that immediate effects can be achieved. As far as
possible, chanting from the lips of non-devotees should be avoided. Milk
touched by the lips of a serpent has poisonous effects.

The word Hara is the form of addressing the energy
of the Lord, and the words Krishna and Rama are forms of addressing the Lord
Himself. Both Krishna and Rama mean “the supreme pleasure,” and Hara is the
supreme pleasure energy of the Lord, changed to Hare in the vocative. The
supreme pleasure energy of the Lord helps us to reach the Lord.

The material energy, called maya, is also one of
the multi-energies of the Lord. And we, the living entities, are also the
energy, marginal energy, of the Lord. The living entities are described as
superior to material energy. When the superior energy is in contact with the
inferior energy, an incompatible situation arises; but when the superior
marginal energy is in contact with the superior energy, Hara, it is established
in its happy, normal condition.

These three words, namely Hare, Krishna, and Rama,
are the transcendental seeds of the maha-mantra. The chanting is a spiritual
call for the Lord and His energy, to give protection to the conditioned soul.
This chanting is exactly like the genuine cry of a child for its mother’s
presence. Mother Hara helps the devotee achieve the Lord Father’s grace, and
the Lord reveals Himself to the devotee who chants this mantra sincerely.

No other means of spiritual realization is as
effective in this age of quarrel and hypocrisy as the chanting of the
maha-mantra: Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama,
Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

Why bad things happen to good people?

From your views Why do ‘bad’ things befall us? How
does all that come into play? Is everything karma or can anything just happen?
How would a KC devotee deal with let’s say he’s on the road preaching and
someone stabs him badly, how would you view that? Or would you say that while
in KC it would not be possible to be stabbed because Krishna is watching over
us, especially

Hare Krishna! All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

Nice question.

You have brought in two points. (1) generally
speaking “Why do bad things happen” and (2) “do bad things happen to devotees.”

We know the soul is eternal. We are on a journey.
And this life is but one small step in that journey. You could think of a
motion picture which is on big, big reels of film made up of millions of
frames. So our journey is like the entire motion picture and this life is but
one frame out of the total movie. So what happens in this frame is a
continuation of what happened in the previous frame and what we do in this
frame will effect what happens in the next frame. So bad things do not happen
to good people. They may have been good in this life but if bad things are
happening we can see it is the result of some bad action they have performed in
the past; in this life or in previous lives.

There is no such thing as “chance.” In Sanskrit
there is not even a word that means “chance.” The concept does not even exist.
The closest thing they have is “adrsti” which means “the cause is unknown.” So
if something bad and unexpected happens they will not say it happened “by
chance” they will say “the cause is unknown.” Which means it happened for some
reason but we do not know what that reason is…

As far as a devotee is concerned Krishna is looking
after him, that is sure, but how much of a devotee are we really? It is a
question of surrender. We may be “a devotee” but we many not be completely
surrendered to Krishna. But a devotee is in Krishna’s hands. He does not mind
what is Krishna’s plan. If it is Krishna’s plan that he should be stabbed then
that is all right. But he will think I am being stabbed because of my sinful actions
in the past and it is Krishna’s mercy. I really deserve a lot worse. Krishna
has minimized my suffering so much… Somehow a devotee always thinks it is
Krishna’s mercy…

But that does not mean that if we are devotees and
we see someone coming to stab us we will just put our arms up in the air and
say: “It’s Krishna’s mercy” and let him stab us. No. A devotee can fight also.
If someone is coming to attack him then he can protect himself of course. After
all this body belongs to Krishna and we are using it to serve Krishna so if
someone is trying to damage it if they succeed that will make it more difficult
for us to serve Krishna. So we have to try and stop them. Also if they are
attacking the other devotees we have to stop them.

So we are not, like the Buddhists, non-violent.
Sometimes violence is necessary. Actually in the Vedic system there is a whole
class of men called ksatryias. That means “to protect from hurt.” So these
ksatryias are meant for using violence to protect the other members of the society
when it is necessary. Non-violence is not a practical philosophy.

So on to your second point of “do bad things happen
to devotees.” The answer is that “bad things” certainly do happen to devotees
sometimes. Look at Lord Jesus Christ. His followers nailed him onto a cross. Or
at least his followers did not protest while he was being nailed onto a cross.
That is quite bad. And in the history of Krishna consciousness some very great
souls have had to undergo some very difficult situations. But Krishna does protect
his devotees, that is for sure. There is one case of Haridas Thakura. He was a
great devotee and follower of Lord Caitanya who is Krishna himself and who
appeared in India five hundred years ago. Because Haridas was a great devotee
many people were attracted to him and he became very famous and highly
respected. He became even more famous than the King of that time. So the King
became very envious of Haridas. He did many things. But one thing is he had
Haridas arrested and taken to 22 different market places and had him severely
whipped in every market place. Such a punishment would ordinarily be a death
sentence as no ordinary man could survive such a whipping. But Haridas said
after it that he felt no pain. And later on the devotees saw on the back of
Lord Caitanya all the whip marks. So Lord Caitanya had protected his devotee

There is also Prahlada Maharaja, the son of a great
demon, Hiranyakasipu. Hiranyakasipu was trying to train Prahlada to be a big
demon and sent him to the school with all the other demon’s children to be
taught politics and diplomacy. But Prahlada was a devotee of Krishna from birth
and as soon as the teachers went out of the classroom he would jump up and
preach Krishna consciousness to all the other boys in the school. So gradually
the whole school, all sons of demons, started to become devotees of Krishna….
So it is a long story but Hiranyakasipu became very angry at Prahlada because
he had become a devotee of Krishna and he tried to kill Prahlada in so many
ways. He threw Prahlada off a big high cliff but the rocks at the bottom turned
into feathers and cushioned Prahlada’s fall. He threw Prahlada into a pit full
of deadly snakes and scorpions. But they did not bite Prahlada. He had a huge
elephant trample on Prahlada. But he was not hurt. He put Prahlada in a big pot
of boiling oil. But Prahlada did not die… So he was completely frustrated. And
back in his palace he asked Prahlada: “Where do you get your strength from?”
And Prahlada replied “The same place you get your strength from, Krishna…”
Hiranyakasapu could see Prahlada was not at all afraid of him and he knew it
was because of Prahlada’s faith in Krishna. So he asked Prahlada: “Is your God
everywhere?” Prahlada said: “Yes” So looking at a huge pillar in the palace
Hiranyakasipu said: “Is your God in this pillar?” Prahlada said: “Yes.” So
Hiranyakasapu took a big hammer and smashed the pillar and Lord Krishna, in the
form of half-man, half-lion appeared out of the pillar. And Krishna as Lord
Narasimhadeva killed the demon Hiranyakasapu and saved His pure devotee
Prahlada Maharaja…

But Haridas and Prahlada are very special and we cannot
expect Krishna to do like that for us. But it is true that Krishna protects his
devotees and for devotees things no longer simply work on karma. We may have
done so many bad things in the past that we should be suffering for now, but
because we are trying to be Krishna conscious and are trying to serve Krishna,
Krishna changes our karma. So a devotee is not like an ordinary person in this
regard. But still we have this material body and it will get old, it will get
sick and it will die. There is no getting around that. But a devotee has a
different consciousness. He knows he is not the body and even though the body
may be going through some troubles, he is not troubled, because he has realized
he is not the body…

Still even pure devotees like Jesus can die
“horrible deaths.” But in that case there is some plan of Krishna involved.
Pure devotees are sometimes killed as was Jesus. He was killed by the Jews who
were envious of his popularity and because he preached against the existing
religious men. He went to the Jewish churches and told the people “the only way
to God is through me…” So he was telling them that these Scribes and Pharisees
could not help them get to God at all. If they wanted God they had to listen to
him. So it did not make him very popular with the religious leaders of the
Jews. So they had him killed. And this is a pattern that repeats. If one
becomes a truly spiritual person and preaches so many people will become his

But everything in connection with a pure devotee is
an arrangement of Krishna. There is one verse that if Krishna wants someone to
live no one can kill him and if Krishna wants someone to die no one can save

So I hope it is of some help. Basically there is no
chance. Nothing happens by chance. There is a cause for everything, “Innocent”
people do not die horrible deaths. The cause is generally our bad karma, bad
things happen to us because of the bad things we have done in the past in this
life and in previous lives. There is nothing an ordinary person can do about
this. The analogy is given of a seed. You plant a seed and after some time it
will germinate and grow. So it is with our sinful activities. It is like
planting a seed in our heart. In due course of time that seed will germinate
and grow and we will have to then suffer the reaction to that sinful activity.
Like seeds these sinful reactions take different amounts of time to germinate.
Some, like a big tree, may take many many years, others, like wheat, may
germinate quite quickly.

And if, at the time of death, we still have these
seeds within our hearts waiting to germinate we have to take another birth in
the material world so they can germinate and we will enjoy or suffer the
results… And when we take another birth we will again do so may sinful and
pious activities which will sow more seeds in our heart and we will have to
come back to the material world again and again and again… practically forever.

The way out of course is chanting Hare Krishna.
This chanting destroys the seeds of our sinful activities in our hearts so they
will not germinate in the future and if we can keep ourselves engaged in
Krishna conscious activities we will not sow more seeds in our hearts so at the
time of death there will be no seeds in our hearts waiting to germinate so we
do not have to take another birth in the material world–we can go back home
back to Godhead and get our original eternally youthful spiritual body full of
knowledge and bliss…

And all just by chanting Hare Krishna Hare Krishna
Krishna Krishna Hare Hare,

Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare…

So why not chant Hare Krishna and be happy?