Category Archives: Krishna Consciousness

Forgiving Those Who Wrong You

This morning, I remembered the story of Jagai and Madai. To give you a quick summary, Jagai and Madai were two brothers who possessed qualities that were not admirable – drinking alcohol, disrespectful, thieves, etc. On one occasion, they physically assaulted Nityananda, which angered Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Chaitanya was ready to end their lives as he was very angered by this. Jagai and Madai repented and sought his forgiveness, and Chaitanya said he would spare their lives if his devotee Nityananda forgave them.

So what do we learn from this?

We learn two things:

1. The importance of forgiveness

Many of us often hold things in our hearts against those who have wronged us. I am guilty of it as well. I forgive people and I don’t hold a grudge against them, but at the same time, I begin to avoid spending time with them. If I care about the person deeply, I will try to mend the relationship, otherwise I let it fade. But by not forgiving others, we fill our hearts with unnecessary feelings that just occupy space and cause us grief. By being forgiving, we exhibit the qualities of devotees. We exhibit compassion and understanding, and these qualities are pleasing to Krishna. As in the case of Jagai and Madai, by forgiving others, we may also prevent them from suffering further. Imagine for a minute that you are the offender and you have done something to anger your best friend. If your friend chooses not to forgive you, you suffer a lot, don’t you? You feel hurt and upset and are filled with regret for making a mistake. In this way, forgiveness mends those who are wrong and those who are wronged. Forgiveness needs to be practiced. It is most certainly not easy but it is absolutely freeing. We must learn to forgive because after all, Krishna forgives us, doesn’t he? Why shouldn’t we forgive others, then?

Forgiveness is a virtue of the weak, and an ornament of the strong. Forgiveness subdues (all) in this world; what is there that forgiveness cannot achieve? What can a wicked person do unto him who carries the sabre of forgiveness in his hand?     (From the Mahabharata, Udyoga Parva Section XXXIII, Translated by Sri Kisari Mohan Ganguli). [Taken from Wikipedia]

For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.    Matthew, 6.14-15

Needless to say, if someone is continuing to wrong you without truly repenting or feeling sorry for it, there is no reason for you to tolerate it. Simply let it slide and free yourself from the clutches of this person.

2. The authority God gives devotees

This incident of Jagai and Madai shows that as devotees, Krishna has given us certain authorities. Krishna is the ruler of this universe. He doesn’t need permission to take away someone’s life, yet he left the decision up to his devotee Nityananda. Even during the Mahabharat war, Krishna agreed to be Arjuna’s chariot driver. Again, giving his devotee the power to make decisions. Krishna steers the reins and guides the devotee’s from within, as he promises in the Gita:

“To those who are constantly devoted to serving Me with love, I give the understanding by which they can come to Me.”    BG 10.10

I always find this incredibly amazing to think about. It fascinates me how the Creator of everything that exists sometimes follows the instructions of his devotees! It’s a lot like the way parents sometimes follow the orders of their children out of love. They don’t have to do it, yet they do because of the love that is shared. This is exactly why Krishna sometimes agrees to carry out the loving requests of his devotees. Isn’t he just the sweetest?

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Frustration

There are these moments in life where you feel frustrated and disillusioned. You don’t know whether to run or hide or whether you should take the bull by the horns or just let things fall where they may. Right now, this is how I feel. I’m frustrated because I have a psychological disorder that affects my life, because I have several dietary restrictions due to food intolerances, because I haven’t been unable to find a decent job, because I am stuck living in a country where I will always be an ‘expatriate’ no matter how long I live.

It is the last thing that frustrates me the most. I was born in Dubai and while I love this country, I’m never going to be able to call it my ‘home’ simply because they don’t grant citizenship. This leads me to worry about the fact that one day, when no one is able to sponsor a visa for me, I’m going to have to leave this country. My family and I have given our lives to this country yet it is still not our ‘home.’ I am trying desperately to look for an opportunity elsewhere, in a country that is safe and stable, so that my parents can eventually retire peacefully, and so that we can build a life somewhere new.

I have been out of a job for the past few months. I’m not even keen on working for someone because of how abusive and manipulative employers can be. I feel like I’ve been through quite a lot, in the sense that my patience was really tested at my previous jobs. I don’t want to get into the details but lets say I have seen how companies can be unethical and blatantly lie to their clients, and I have had my employers be so controlling even when it came to things like taking lunch breaks and even a 2 minute break to drink water. Feeling abused and disheartened, I left my job because I felt like I was not being respected as a human being. I wouldn’t be surprised if things like this happened everywhere around the world, too. These are tough times we’re living in.

The reason for frustration, as I understand it, is when something is lacking. I mean this on a deep level, not in the sense of material desires like having the latest iPhone or the biggest house. I mean necessities like a job, security, shelter, etc. Frustration stems from this lack of security and protection. It leads to anxiety of the future because there is uncertainty and a lack of stability. While I am sitting here, feeling waves of frustration wash over me again and again, I thought I’ll have a look at what the Bhagavad Gita says in order to deal with my feeling of helplessness.

But those who worship Me with devotion, meditating on My transcendental form–to them I carry what they lack and preserve what they have.      BG 9.22

Such deep consolation, knowing that Krishna will be there to assist you, by maintaining what you have and by making up for whatever it is that you lack. Everyone feels some sense of lacking in one way or another. Lack of strength, confidence, self-esteem, money, intelligence. So many other things. Let Krishna be your strength, your confidence, your pride, your wealth and your intelligence. Let him provide for you what you lack.

Anyone who prays unto Me and takes shelter from Me becomes My ward, and I protect him always from all sorts of calamities.     Lord Narasimhadeva, Narasimha Purana

This uncertainty of the future, of the state of my career, my wellbeing, my family, etc. are causing me great distress. I must remember to seek shelter of Krishna, and he will protect me from calamity.

He quickly becomes righteous and attains lasting peace. O son of Kunti, declare it boldly that My devotee never perishes.     BG 9:31

Ah, the peace that we are all looking for. Peace and promise of everlasting life.

The steadily devoted soul attains unadulterated peace because he offers the result of all activities to Me; whereas a person who is not in union with the Divine, who is greedy for the fruits of his labor, becomes entangled.     BG 5:12

I have been thinking about this a lot lately. I have been praying and asking for things, asking for Krishna to get me out of this mess that I am in. Then I remembered that I must not hanker for the fruit of any activity. I must let Krishna decide the outcome, and I must offer the results of my activities to Gopinath and work for his sake. Do the best you can do and do what you must, but leave the results to Krishna.

Perform your duties to the best of your ability and offer the results to Krishna. He will preserve what you have and should be lacking anything, he will provide it for you, as he sees fit. All the while, he will protect you as he promises and he will give you peace. Frustration will rear its head again and again because it is the nature of this world. But lucky for us, Krishna is on our side. And we all know which side is going to win.

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“Panditah Sama Darshina”

On a blog post of mine called, “So you don’t eat meat?” a reader commented saying someone she knows, who is a Krishna devotee, speaks badly about other religions. Here’s an excerpt of my response:

Oh, it’s not nice to talk badly about the beliefs of others. I wish your sister in law would understand. If someone spoke to her badly about Krishna, she would get offended. It only makes sense then to try and avoid offending others! The Bhagavad Gita has this nice verse on equality:

“The humble sage, by virtue of true knowledge, sees with equal vision a learned and gentle brahmana, a cow, an elephant, a dog and a dog-eater [outcaste].” – BG 5.18

In Sanskrit, the translation of a part of this verse is “panditah sama darshina” meaning the wise see with equal vision. I love this short, simple quote and often remind myself of it when I feel like I am being biased or unequal in my perception of things. Perhaps maybe in passing, you could enlighten your sister in law about this verse :)

Then I was going over some of my old blog posts, thinking why don’t I write here that often anymore, thinking that I don’t have much to write about… I was checking my blog statistics and found that this is the most popular post on my blog: Miracles and Experiences in Krishna Consciousness. After reading about each of the miracles I had listed, I picked one to read. This one is about an English girl named Ananda. You can read the whole story here.

I read the story, felt amazed by it once again, and then found a link about Radhanath Swami’s talk at the Google headquarters. I was reading the article and after a couple of paragraphs into it, I saw that the EXACT SAME VERSE I had quoted above was mentioned in this article. I just sat there, shocked, staring at my computer screen, staring at the poster of Krishna on my wall, feeling amazed. All the events were completely random and I was amazed that somehow, I ended up finding an article that mentioned the same verse I had quoted just a few minutes ago! It kept making me feel like Krishna is still around, he’s still here, and he’s still trying to teach me. I felt like he was trying to tell me that the message of this verse is very important. It is! It is so important to treat others equally and fairly. If only more people would realize this, the world would be a better place. I can’t even begin to tell you about the tingles I felt at the back of my neck! Krishna is just amazing. Just… amazing.

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Prayer Request for Saroj

An anonymous reader said:

“This is for my aunty name Saroj she is suffering right now from a chronic illness which has no cure her body flesh is slowly disappearing and from last 2 months she can’t eat anything as she dont feel like eating at all, she only drink little milk and some juice. Please Pray from Krishna for her easy departure from earth and she should not suffer anymore, Krishna should forgive her and not give her any more suffering as she is suffering from this disease for a very long time and her kids also can’t be with her at this time she is very old and they have kept nurses for her to take care of her, I feel like crying for her but I wish that she should get peace soon.”

I was very very sad to read this. I understand how you feel. It’s like you want them to be happy and become well again, but it’s not happening so you find yourself thinking that maybe it would be better if they depart. It’s a very difficult time and the feelings are very confusing.

Dear Gopinath, please bless Saroj. She has been suffering a great deal. Krishna, please stay close to her and look after her. You are the giver of life and thus, our lives are in your hands. If it is better for Saroj and if it is in your wall, call her back home to you and to your arms, where she will be with you and lovingly serve you. If it is in your will, please bless Saroj with good health and please let her condition improve. Give Saroj and her family the strength and faith to trust in you and to make it through this difficult time. You are the preserver of life and I know you are our well-wisher. You want us to be healthy and happy. Please look after Saroj, Gopinath. Forgive her for any sins she may have committed, and please engage her in loving thoughts of you. Thank you for leading the person who posted this prayer request to pray to you for her well-being. By the association of a devotee, I know that you have blessed Saroj greatly, because not everyone is fortunate enough to be around devotees. Krishna, we know that this body is one day going to perish. But we also know that only you can take away pain and suffering, like when Bhishma was lying on a bed of arrows, breathing his last, yet he did not feel any pain or discomfort because you had blessed him. In this way, bless Saroj, dear Krishna. Please take away her suffering. Gopinath, please stay close to Saroj and to her family. Thank you.

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Prayer Request for Shweta

Shweta said:

“I know my prayer request is nothing infront of all these requests which I read above but please pray for me that I get a little krishna of my own in October as I am expecting now. I want to hold and love my Krishna and I will name him Krishna. I just can’t wait till he is in my arms.

Hare Krishna!”

 

Dear Shweta, your prayer request made me feel so soft and warm and fuzzy inside! Congratulations! I was so pleased to read it! Let me tell you about a true story a devotee told me some time ago. A lady was expecting and during one of her check ups, the doctor found a tumor. As the baby was growing, the tumor was also growing. Extremely worried, she sought the advice of her guru maharaj, who advised her to chant a shloka from the Mahabharat episode where Parikshit Maharaj, who was in the womb of his mother Uttara at the time, was at threat from an arrow shot by Ashwattam. In the Mahabharat, Uttara asked Krishna to protect her child and Krishna did so. So the lady we are talking about was saying these slokas and praying to Krishna. The doctors began to find that the tumor was starting to shrink! The lady had a normal healthy delivery by Krishna’s mercy 🙂

Keeping this real life incident in mind as well as the incident in the Mahabharat, I pray that Krishna will protect your child. Gopinath, please bless Shweta and give her the necessary strength to take on this responsibility you have given her, and bless her and her child abundantly with good health. May they grow stronger in their faith in you day by day, dear Gopinath, and may her child become a loving devotee, just like the mother.

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Prayer Request for Lasyte

Lasyte said:

I feel so sad today… I feel not deserve even telling the reasons… I know, Krishna knows all of them… I just want to ask somebody help me to pray, pray with me, for me, please… Krishna, please, guide me, be with me, please…

Lasyte

Lord Krishna, your devotee Lasyte is feeling sad. The reasons are already known to you. Lord, please give Lasyte the strength to face this and to come out of this stronger than before. Fill Lasyte with your joy and provide guidance please. Thank you for having blessed Lasyte with knowledge of you and with the knowledge that only you can eradicate all misery. You promise in the Gita that to those who seek you, you provide guidance from within. You are known as Dinabandhu, meaning Friend of the Destitute and Afflicted. Please help your dear devotee, Krishna, and end Lasyte’s pain and suffering.

Lasyte, I am terribly sorry that you are feeling this way. I hope Krishna will help you. Remember him and call out to him. Remember these promises Krishna has made:

“To those who are constantly devoted to serving Me with love, in give the understanding by which they can come to Me.” – BG 10.10

“He quickly becomes righteous and attains lasting peace. O Son of Kunti, declare it boldly that My devotee never perishes.” – BG 9.31

“But those who worship Me with devotion, meditating on My transcendental form – to them I carry what they lack and preserve what they have.” – BG 9.22

Thus Krishna promises to guide you, to sustain you and to carry what you lack. Look to him for strength and guidance. I hope you will feel better soon. If there is anything I can assist you with, please do not hesitate to let me know.

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Some Thoughts

Quite some time ago, I stopped going for my Gita classes due to work and OCD causing difficulties. As a result, I ended up falling out of the loop, and only seldom go for celebrations.

I miss being around devotees and being engaged in Krishna bhakti. I miss learning about Krishna, the music, the prasadam, the books…

But I don’t miss the rigidity.

I’m quite apprehensive about posting this because some might feel like I am ‘straying from the path’ or that I am being offensive. But I don’t want to pretend I’m okay with things I’m not.

I’d also like to say that this doesn’t only apply to ISKCON. Many other religions and religious groups I’ve looked into seem to have similar rigidity.

They tell us what to think, what to do, what to feel. Where is the freedom? There are plenty things that I couldn’t agree with and tried my best to understand. Some things just don’t make sense.

Like for instance, the concept of an eternal hell in Abrahamic religions. I can’t digest that no matter what anyone says to me to make me understand. I don’t understand the goat sacrifice. I don’t understand why Hare Krishnas are supposed to have cold showers. Or why we’re supposed to wake up at 3 or 4 am.

I remember one of the first times I experienced some discomfort because of something someone said in my Gita class. They were discussing Mother Theresa and while they agreed she was a good person, she apparently was also a ‘meat-eater’ which means she couldn’t have been that good. I was taken aback. I am all for vegetarianism and I actually would like it if people didn’t eat meat at all but I don’t think a person can be classified as good or bad based on whether they eat meat or not.

Another thing that really irks me is the subjugation of women. Why are women the lesser intelligence? What about the caste system? KC thoroughly describes the caste system as Krishna intended it. That is, to say, so different occupations would exist and society would live in harmony and there would be some sort of structure. I can’t really imagine Krishna differentiating between upper classes and lower classes. Can you? Why then does the literature refer to higher’ and ‘lower’ castes? It’s so contradicting. On the one hand, Krishna stresses on equality, yet on the other hand, followers identify these castes as higher and lower.

I like my freedom to think and believe what I want to. A lot of people say we shouldn’t create our own ideas of what God should be like. But honestly, how can anyone accept the idea that God differentiates between higher and lower classes, between vegetarians and meat-eaters, homosexuals and heterosexuals? If I say that God loves unconditionally, and then I add, “…but only if you do His will,” doesn’t that mean His love is conditional?

Some time ago, someone told me that God chooses his followers. So what if someone doesn’t worship him? Doesn’t that mean that God chooses some people, and doesn’t choose others? Why does he pick? If you believe that God’s will is supreme, you can’t say his message is out there for us to receive but it’s up to us to choose whether we want to receive it or not, and that it boils down to our freewill. If it boils down to our freewill, that negates the fact that everything happens according to God’s will. It would mean that things happen according to our will.

Another concern I have is about guru-worship. I just have one question: why? I understand several Hindus use the word ‘worship’ loosely and that the practice of aarti is quite cultural, traditional, and often a form of respect. For instance, if you went to a Hindu home, they would probably do an aarti for you. My high school Hinduism study explained that this is often a way of praying to the Lord that resides within everyone. Fair enough. But why worship gurus and say that we should worship them then way we worship God? Christians might agree with me when it comes to this. Either it has been expressed wrongly, or they actually really think we should equate guru and Krishna, which is something I cannot do. I can agree that gurus are spiritually elevated. But if you tell me that they are perfect, I cannot agree. At the end of the day, they are still human beings. Only God is perfect. Christians and Muslims often say that we should worship no one but God but I have seen how they take the words of their leaders as set in stone. But it is so painfully obvious that those leaders sometimes say things that are so wrong! These leaders sometimes lead sinful lives themselves. Followers might not be ‘worshipping’ them per se but believing that they are infallible is giving another human that status of being sinless and perfect, which only belongs to God.

I’m actually quite sick of most religious groups concocting their own version of God and feeding it to people, while they hypocritically tell others not to do it.

Needless to say, I still believe Vaishnavism makes the most sense philosophically and it is the most basic, simple and logical philosophy I have come across. Krishna has stolen my heart. I always resort to ISKCON literature for study as I find it the most comprehensive and most accurate (not exact) interpretation. However, I do not find the need to strongly associate with a single religious organization. I am quite happy to call myself Krishna’s devotee and I will leave it at that.

But some things are just hard to accept.

I could have been born in a cannibalistic cult. What if I never questioned everything I did and everything I was taught? All I do is go on being a cannibal, teaching others that cannibalism is a good thing. That’s what most of these religious organizations do. Sometimes in an obvious way, sometimes in a subtle way. Just don’t be afraid to ever open up your mind and question the things you’re told. I would actually urge each and every one of you reading this to not blindly accept everything you see, hear or read. Question it. God has given you the ability to reason, so use it.

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