Happy Diwali, Everyone!

Hare Krishna!

Happy Diwali to all of you! I wish all of you lots of peace, joy and happiness, and most of all, love of God.

Let’s spend today focusing on the meaning behind our prayers and rituals, which are the means to an end, and not the end itself. Today is a good day, and it comes with a good opportunity to practice this. We must always understand the reasons and intentions underlying all our religious acts and not become mechanic and ritualistic. There is no use of performing any rituals if the reason behind it is not understood. Actually, the reason should always be love. When we pray, it should be out of love. It should be because we “want” to, not because we are “forced to, otherwise something bad will befall us.” I have noticed that Hindus, or maybe even Indians in general, and especially those from small towns and villages, tend to be very ritualistic. We need to break out of that. I see the ads on television, about lucky charms, evil spirits, and astrologers trying to make money out of innocent people. It is all VERY idiotic. It’s all superstition. While I believe that spirits do exist, and some can cause great harm to us, I believe that if we put our faith and trust in Krishna, if we keep the Holy Name close always, these spirits are no match for us. Remember the govardhan-lila? If we worship Krishna, all the other devas will also be pleased, for they are great Vaishnavas as well. The inhabitants of Vrindavan were afraid of Indra’s wrath. They wanted to perform the ritual out of fear that Indra would be angry with them and he would send terrible storms. Which he did, but they kept Krishna close. And what did Krishna do? He lifted Govardhan Hill above them, to protect them from the downpour. So we just need to surrender to Krishna. When we perform any of these rituals, or poojas, or any other kind of religious act, we must keep in mind the reason we are doing it. Either we are worshipping God, showing our love to God, or performing our duties which is to offer respect to God. However, most people blindly follow rituals without understanding the significance behind them. Also, there are many silly rituals which have no base in religion, and cannot be found in scripture, or even some that are forbidden in the kali yuga, but people still keep practicing them, which is just absurd! We need to open our eyes and see for ourselves whether the ritual we are performing makes any sense or not. Like this strange ritual I heard of, about people throwing their babies from a height. Would God ever want that? Since it’s Diwali, a lot of these priests are performing owl poojas. This is just blasphemy. In Kali Yuga, animal sacrifice is not allowed. So how can these priests perform it? Moreover, they charge a lot of money for performing these poojas, and they scare people saying evil will befall them if they don’t perform this pooja. People end up wasting money, and live in constant fear and superstition. Now this is just my opinion, but it doesn’t make sense to me that the owl is Laxmi’s vehicle, and she would want owls to be sacrificed. This is just my opinion, but something doesn’t seem right with that logic.

The number 1 issue is fear. We must not perform these rituals simply because we are afraid God will punish us if we don’t, or something very bad is going to happen. Now there is too much focus on this aspect of fear. People perform rituals because they are afraid, not because they want to worship God, which is the ultimate purpose. Krishna is atma-rama. He is self-sufficient. He doesn’t need us to worship Him all day long, just praying and praising Him. He doesn’t need that. But He wants us to love Him, and He wants us to come back Home. In a way, if we perform rituals even out of fear, it is good. It is good if we have a sense of duty towards these religious practices. For even these earn us some credit and bring us one step closer to Krishna, as He explains in the Bhagavad Gita. We must fear God in the way that it increases our sense of responsibility towards our actions, but not to the extent that it drives out love from our hearts. The simplest analogy I can think of is our parents. We love them and we can be afraid of them, but we cannot be so afraid that we live in constant fear. It will drive out any love that we may have for them, and cause us to feel suffocated. All we would want to do is run away from them and live on our own. Bhakti Tirtha Swami explains that love and fear cannot co-exist. One drives out the other. And I completely agree. This is why I cannot deal with the concept of an eternal hell. I feel like it pushes people into believing in God and worshipping and praying out of immense fear that they will burn in an eternal hell. If that fear is dominating, then that prayer and worship becomes ritualistic. Even so, in Krishna Consciousness, ritualistic behavior does not incur any losses. Anything done with the intention of serving God, be it for material purposes or spiritual, He never forgets. It ultimately will bring us closer to God. But let’s just evaluate the reasons behind performing certain rituals, and not simply perform rituals blindly. Check to see if these rituals are proper by looking at guru, sadhu and shastra. The main reason behind all these rituals is to get closer to God. Let’s try our best to keep that in mind, and to understand why we do certain things. There are reasons behind wearing a bindi, reasons for folding the hands when greeting someone ‘namaste’, and reasons for breaking coconuts, etc. We need to know these reasons to understand better, so that the actions become meaningful instead of just empty rituals.

I’m certain animal sacrifice is not allowed in this age of Kali Yuga. Animal sacrifice could be performed before because the brahmans who performed it had great spiritual powers and they could release the animal of its suffering and give it a new body. Before, many yajnas or sacrifices were performed. There is one yajna I am sure we need to perform in this age. Just one. It may be difficult for some and it may be easy for others, depending on one’s consciousness and determination. Krishna is so merciful and so loving, that if we just surrender to Him, and fall in love with His beautiful names, it will be the greatest yajna. Just imagine. That’s the only yajna we have to perform. That’s all we have to do – fall in love with His name. We just have to sing and dance and fall in love with His Holy Name and that will be the greatest sacrifice we could ever perform. Much harder and tedious that the yajnas of the old ages, don’t you think? Yes. Much much harder. So hard that anyone can do it anywhere, under any circumstances, and it is guaranteed to reap devotion and bring us closer to God.

So on this day of Diwali, let’s start another year, promising to understand the real reasons behind our spiritual practices, and eliminating our fear of the unknown. Krishna wants us to be practical in all that we do. So let’s open our eyes and Krishna, with the shining lamp of knowledge, will destroy the darkness born of ignorance (BG 10:11). Abandon all varieties of religion and surrender unto Him. He will deliver us from sinful reactions. We should not fear (BG 18:66). Krishna is real protection. Krishna’s protection begins at the start of devotional service. So take shelter of Krishna and get rid of any fear that you may have. For those of you who don’t chant, please try to chant one round today, listening carefully to the mantra. If your thoughts wander, then let it wander to the prayer of the mantra: “Lord, engage me in Your devotional service!” If your eyes wander, let it wander to an image of Krishna. I pray that all of you may always have peace in your minds, compassion in your hearts and love on your tongues. Go around the world and freely spread the love that God has given you, starting now. Let that love shine through so that others may see God living in your hearts. May the lamps we light today on this day of Diwali be the shining lamps of knowledge with which Krishna promises to burn the darkness of ignorance. May these burning lamps burn away our sins and material desires and false ego. May these burning lamps kindle the fire of love for God, and may these burning lamps burn forever more.

Haribol

Happy Diwali!

8 Comments

Filed under Celebrations, Krishna Consciousness

8 responses to “Happy Diwali, Everyone!

  1. @Drainpiper: Happy diwali! (so sorry it’s belated)
    May this Diwali bring you the grace and blessings of Krishna, for all that your heart may desire.

    i am in Abu Dhabi for this Diwali, and the Net connection around here is a serious problem, and am posting this off a sloppy data cord.

    i really loved this article.
    Great work! πŸ™‚
    It sums up a lot of things i think, and it is a very well-thought out piece. Especially so, since it’s Diwali.
    The talk about rituals brought me to something that had happened to my friend, and me.
    Actually, not the talk of rituals, but the power of what you so rightly call the only yajna worth performing.
    i was in Tirupati, and had just had a wonderful darshan.
    i was shopping for trinkets, all the time thinking about Him.
    And, suddenly, i had a thought about my bff at school.
    i know others would call it a mere coincidence, but i think you would understand.
    There was a voice inside of me, that said – ”get her something”. Almost, like a command.
    And i thought it was His will, and obeyed- i got her a small pendant with His face engraved on it, as she is quite attached to Lord Srinivasa.
    Anyways, she has something against people getting her travel souvenirs (except if it’s something edible), and i told her – ”you have to take this, consider it a gift from God.”
    And, she got it from my hand, and stared at it for a whole two minutes.
    And, then, began crying so hard.
    i was totally shocked by the sudden turn of things, and asked her what happened.
    She told me she had been to her tuition centre.
    She had had her suspicions for a long time, and it had turned to reality for her.
    She was the last one to leave, and her ‘sir’ offered her something to eat. She refused, and got up to go. He caught her on the thigh, and shoved the plate on her face.
    She was horrified. She couldn’t call anyone at that time, and things had gotten really bad.
    Not knowing what to do, she has desperately called out to Him, and at that time she has thought of Lord Balaji.
    From nowhere she found superhuman strength to throw the guy off her, and run away, all the time calling out to Him.
    She escaped, miraculously so.
    And told me, in the middle of tears- ”this is almost like He chose to tell me that He will always protect me.” πŸ™‚
    And, i was dumbstruck.
    And, that’s when i told her about what had occured to me. It turns out i had had my little rendezvous when she had run home struggling.

    Is there any measuring stick with which we can measure the goodness of His wonders???

    And, that’s when she asked me- ”do you always have these things, when you talk to God?”
    i said- ”i don’t know. There are times when He does seem to communicate. There are times when i dunno if it’s Him.”
    My friend said- ” So, you are like God’s fav child, huh?”
    Me- ” No, i don’t think He picks favourites. Ofcourse, He has blessed me abundantly in life. But it works the other way- He is my favourite. Actually, my one and all, and my all-in-one.” πŸ™‚
    But that day, that was Him reaching out to a devotee who had called out to Him. He had saved her, and used me to reassure her. At that time, i thanked Him profoundly- one, for having saved my friend, and two, for having used me to talk to her

    So, you were absolutely right. The chanting of His name, or just thinking of Him, can save us from the worst of spirits.

    As for the man, he was arrested, and his tuition centre was closed, even though my friend and her parents chose to distance themselves from the police.

    • DrainPiper

      Goodness, I have shivers! Hari Hari bol! Krishna promises to protect and He always does! Oh my, I don’t even have the words to speak.
      God is so loving and so merciful! So many of Krishna’s promises from the Bhagavad Gita come to mind: He will always protect, He is the strength of the strong, His devotees are very dear to Him, and of course, how He descends whenever there is an uprise of adharma. Krishna, Krishna… God, I don’t have the words!! I am SO glad that that man got arrested! Krishna’s mercy knows no bounds. Lord, shower Your mercy on us always! Your friend is so blessed to have been able to think of Krishna at such a tough time. Sometimes, when I am crossing the road and a car is coming towards me with great speed, I freeze and I am unable to think. I cannot move at all. So I can imagine how hard it is to think or even act in self-defence in such situations. It must have been very tough and confusing for your friend at that moment especially. It must have been difficult for her to think at that time and I sympathize deeply. But I applaud her more because she was able to call upon our only savior in her time of need. This is the biggest, greatest and surest act of self-defence to me. Krishna protected Draupadi, and Rama fought for Sita. They have promised to do the same for us. There is NO room for fear in the hearts of those who remember Krishna! He gave your friend the strength to fight that man, and He protected her from harm, AND He confirmed His love for her by giving her a nice pendant from your side, as well as giving her someone to talk to. Aah, Krishna, must You be so incredibly amazing?! Gosh, I’m just awestruck! Hari Hari!

      • Drainpiper, it is still marvellous how He was wonderful that day.
        For me, i have always had the belief that He WILL protect.
        For me, it was how He went one step beyond- to reassure her, to show her love.
        That was the most amazing part of it all.

        //There is NO room for fear in the hearts of those who remember Krishna! //
        ABSOLUTELY!!!
        As a kid, i had an overdose of horror soaps, and was always expecting something to pop out of nowhere.
        It was not like i didn’t believe in Him, it’s just that i was scared.
        So, my mom told me to chant whenever i got scared.
        So that’s what i did- whenever i had to be alone i said- ”i am not alone, You are there with me”, and would outstretch my hands (like catching my mom’s hands), and chant – “Om Namo Narayana! Om Namo Narayana!”
        And, i would think of how Krishna killed all those demons, and i would feel stronger.
        The flip side, though, is that, i ended up being a daredevil πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚
        So, i believe ghosts exist. Spirits do, and so do all the other horrible things, especially so in our mind.
        But, as long as Krishna is with us, in our hearts, and in our thoughts, NOTHING can touch us.
        They are the ones that must be scared of us, for we have all the power of the world with us. πŸ™‚
        So, yesterday, on a flight to Chennai, that was in the midst of the turbulent storm, something that we had been warned about very much in the beginning, i was thinking of Krishna.
        When i was a kid, i didn’t worry of what He would think if i told Him i was scared. i just did.
        Unfortunately, now, my ego makes it look like fear is the weakness of my belief. While it is in one way a weakness, i found that it disappears the minute you surrender that fear also to Krishna.
        So, as the Captain was giving a warning at the start of the flight, that we might ride into rough weather, it was your line (which i quoted) that was running in my mind.
        i was like – “It’s not like i don’t think of You, but i’m terribly scared. Maybe it IS because i am not remembering You the right way that i am scared, but please- protect us as You always have. i have no doubt You will protect us, but i have to confess that guilty fear in my heart. You take care.” The fact that schools had been cancelled, and it was flooding everywhere, according to those snippets of info i had been recieving, and also the great timing of my dad who said, just before we started- “At the maximum, they’ll deroute your flight’s destination”- all that had gotten to my head.
        The weather stations had been saying that the tropical storm would cross yesterday night, and heavy showers were to be expected.
        But i am talking about STATION KRISHNA here. πŸ™‚
        Yes, there was mild turbulence onboard, when i sat chanting His name, there was a phenomenal cloud cover, and slight rain, but “no serious trouble” as the Captain put it. πŸ™‚
        And, it’s not even raining now.
        There was no need to fear in the first place.
        Krishna would have always been there.
        And, this time, i thought of that same line of yours again, albeit in a different light.
        Now it was like- “Whatever Krishna does, is absolutely, totally for our good. So, He will always be there. And, even if he does, by chance, give ‘pain’ , then i’d just have to change my definition of ‘pain’. For He is too good.” πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

      • DrainPiper

        First of all, so sorry for taking long to reply! I was rather business with University this week.

        Coming back to your comment…
        HARIBOL! Simply wonderful!! Station Krishna, absolutely brilliant! Come rain, come shine, Krishna will ALWAYS protect us! This reminds me of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s prayers: “Krishna, You are free and independent in all respects. You can either embrace me or crush me under Your feet – whatever You like. You may make me brokenhearted by not letting me see You throughout my whole life, but You are my only object of love.” There is another popular saying: “Rakhe Krishna mare ke, Mare Krishna rakhe ke” (When Krishna wants to protect someone no one can destroy him, and when Krishna wants to destroy someone no one can protect him”. This is kind of off-topic but still related to the idea of protection. The saying I mentioned just goes to show how strong Krishna’s will is, and Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s prayers show that we must be surrendered to Krishna’s will, and we must ALWAYS keep Krishna the center of our affection. Srila Prabhupada says that “real protection is Krishna” and that “protection begins when at the start of devotional service.” So when Krishna protects us, nothing will EVER harm us, which brings me to the most awesome part of your comment:

        They are the ones that must be scared of us, for we have all the power of the world with us.

        This was the BEST statement ever!!! Thank you SO much for this. This was just so great and reassuring to read. I’m certain it’s not going to leave my thoughts anytime soon πŸ™‚

  2. Drainpiper, OMG! i just posted an adulterated version of that prayer by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in your “Diwali 2010” post!!
    //β€œRakhe Krishna mare ke, Mare Krishna rakhe ke” //
    So TRUE!!!!
    And, how lucky we are, that we are in the first category!
    Right under His feet, completely at His discretion, totally under His protection.

    • DrainPiper

      Haribol! Yes, I noticed that you quoted Chaitanya Mahaprabhu! Hehe, we’re like on the same wavelength πŸ˜‰ THE KRISHNA WAVELENGTH! Lol πŸ˜€

  3. The Krishna Wavelength, The Krishna Station, The Krishna Madness… Bring it on! :))

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