“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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Prayer Request for Vaishali

Dear All,
My husband is without a job for almost 2 years now, he has been trying very hard everyday to find one. No number of sending resumes, connection, networks seems to work. It looks like Krishna has left us and I don’t even know why. I love Krishna and have been praying to him for a long time.

But with this expereince I don’t know what to beleive anymore. Please pray that my husband gets a job soon and whatever Krishna is angry about me he forgives me for it.

Thank you for praying for us.
Vaishali

 

Lord Krishna, please have mercy on Vaishali and her family. Give her strength and faith to trust your promise of looking after your devotees. Krishna, her husband needs a job in order to support himself and support the family you have blessed him with. Have mercy on him, Gopinath, and if it is in your desire, help him find a way to support his family in an honest way, as prescribed by you. Please give Vaishali strength to hold her faith in you steady. As Nrsimhadeva, you have said:

“Anyone who prays unto Me and takes shelter from Me becomes My ward, and I protect him always from all sorts of calamities.”

So I have no doubt that Vaishali and her family have your protection as they have shelter of you. This entire universe is sustained by you. Protect and provide for Vaishali and her family, Gopinath. You are all-loving and all-merciful. Have mercy on them, dear Govinda, and always keep them close to you. 2 years without a job is a rather long time. It must be hard for them. But even this is a display of your endless mercy because surviving for 2 years without a job would only be possible if you have a hand in it! Please have mercy on them and help them, Krishna. Please end their troubles. Most of all, I pray that their faith in you grows stronger and stronger because ultimately, you are the only protection that anyone has. Thank you for all that you have done for them. Thank you for all that you have done for us. I pray that you help us love you and trust you more each day.

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OCD and The Bhagavad Gita: Chapter 3

“All men are forced to act helplessly according to the impulses born of the modes of material nature; therefore no one can refrain from doing something, not even for a moment.” – BG 3.5

As long as we are in this material body, we are going to suffer from physical ailments. We are driven by the impulses that are born from the modes of nature. OCD is not our fault. It is due to chemical imbalances in the brain, due to genes perhaps, due to reasons unknown to us. But it is born of material nature. It is not the nature of our soul. It is not who we are. Know and realize that it is not your fault.

The solution? Work for Vishnu:

“Work done as a sacrifice for Visnu has to be performed, otherwise work binds one to this material world. Therefore, O son of Kunti, perform your prescribed duties for His satisfaction, and in that way you will always remain unattached and free from bondage.” BG 3.9

Work with a desire to please him and in this way be focused on him. Perhaps this will reduce the time I spend focusing on my OCD-thoughts?

“The working senses are superior to dull matter; mind is higher than the senses; intelligence is still higher than the mind; and he [the soul] is even higher than the intelligence.” BG 3.42

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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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