Tag Archives: Krishna Consciousness

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.

Advertisements

4 Comments

Filed under Krishna Consciousness

A Loving Reminder

Even if you forget Krishna, He doesn’t forget you.

A few days ago, I was walking home when suddenly the words to Damodarastakam found its way to my lips. I began singing to myself and realized it had been very long since I last heard/sang the Damodarastakam. It felt wonderful to sing it again!

Something stirred in my heart. Krishna was informing me that Kartik Maas was soon beginning – I was sure of it! Surely enough, I went home and checked the dates only to find out Kartik Maas was just a few days away.

I haven’t had time to look at a Vaishnava calendar, I haven’t been following festival dates, I haven’t been giving enough time to Krishna… But he knows how much I love the Holy Month of Kartik. And like a little child who reminds everyone about the important days in their lives, Krishna reminded me of his special days.

Have a blessed month!

4 Comments

Filed under Festivals, Krishna Consciousness, Testimonies + Miracles + Mercy Stories

A Reminder

I haven’t had much time to myself in a while. Even if I did, I’ve been far too worn out to do any serious thinking. This would explain my absence from the blogosphere. Juggling work, therapy, OCD and lots of personal problems just means I’m begging for relaxation. It also means that I will never be able to fully relax. That’s what you get with OCD, y’know? Just never stops.

I’ve been home the past couple days. My job contract ended and now I’m trying in other places. Got through one, just waiting for confirmation.

I wouldn’t have even written this blog post today. But something happened. Rather… Krishna happened.

I feel like a girl who has fallen out of love and now finds herself slowly sinking in again.

I’ve been busy lately, like I explained at the start of this post. Because of that, I haven’t given much of my time to Krishna. Also, another reason I haven’t done that is because I got tired of over-thinking life. My brain has far too many thoughts as it is, and I wanted to loosen up and stop taking everything so seriously. I still prayed. I still thought of him. Just not as much as I used to.

Oh, how I missed him. I missed thinking about him, talking to him, reading about him… I missed at all. But somehow I couldn’t get myself to do it. This afternoon, I’ve spent my time ‘reminiscing’ about all the wrong things I’ve done. Is there a word to describe a feeling worse than shame? I felt awful. I thought back to every mistake I made, every stupid decision I made, and how I have hurt my family and friends in the process of it all, even though they might not know it. I paced up and down, thinking back, feeling guilt and remorse, mentally apologizing to everyone, trying to forgive myself for it all and failing miserably.

I never thought I’d end up like this.

I was always little goody two-shoes. Studious, modest, patient, obedient, kind. How did I end up making such bad decisions in life? Look at me now. I’m struggling to find a job, struggling with such delicate health, and battling a mental disorder. 5 years ago, if you asked my classmates and professors how likely I was to succeed, EVERYONE would agree that I would breeze through life with grace. That’s what I was like. Everyone thought life was made for me. It was. It really was.
Then Life happened.

I’ve spent hours and hours in the last few years trying to figure things out, trying to forgive myself but it just doesn’t happen.

After spending the afternoon being washed over by waves of shame, I came into the living room, to see if the TV could prove to be a worthy distraction. I came in here, feeling pathetic, and turned on the TV. There was a woman on screen. But only for a second. She moved away, only to remind me of someone I had not thought of in a long time.

Krishna.

There was a statue of Radha and Krishna on screen. He does this EVERY time. He NEVER fails to love me even when I hate myself the most. See these simple gestures? He just wanted to remind me that he’s there, because he knows sometimes I forget. Yet he still loves. Tears filled my eyes as I asked him why he does this. Why does he always forgive me even though I keep sinning again and again, why does he love me even though I don’t deserve it? It didn’t even take him a second to make me realize that he is there, with open arms, to love me and forgive me and heal me from this distress. I may think I’m grown up now but I’m still a child. I’m still making mistakes every day. I stumble and fall but like a loving father, Krishna always holds my hand and helps me walk again.

Life is new everyday. It changes in a minute. The only constant is Krishna.

I hope I never forget that.

10 Comments

Filed under Krishna Consciousness, Testimonies + Miracles + Mercy Stories, Uncategorized

OCD and the Bhagavad Gita: Chapter 2 Verses 11-20

“The Blessed Lord said: While speaking learned words, you are mourning for what is not worthy of grief. Those who are wise lament neither for the living nor the dead.” [2.11]

If life and death are not worth mourning over, are these anxieties and hygiene concerns worth it? Absolutely not. We are forgetting that the purpose of life is building a relationship with Krishna and understanding Him to be the Lord of Creation. The purport says, “The body is born and is destined to be vanquished today or tomorrow; therefore the body is not as important as the soul.” Cleanliness is important, but not so much that it occupies all my time! I ought to be spending more time feeding my soul with knowledge of Krishna!

Krishna goes on to explain more about the nature of the soul. Krishna says that there never was a time when we did not exist and never will there be a time when we will cease to exist.┬áThe body is continually changing. It grows, it becomes ill, our souls change bodies… But our souls are always the same. Our souls are indestructible. The body will change its state of being clean and dirty at different points in time, but our soul remains pure. Krishna says that self-realized souls are not bewildered by such bodily changes.

O son of Kunti, the nonpermanent appearance of happiness and distress, and their disappearance in due course, are like the appearance and disappearance of winter and summer seasons. They arise from sense perception, O scion of Bharata, and one must learn to tolerate them without being disturbed.” [2.14]

Yes. This is Krishna’s golden advice to us, applicable in any situation. We live in world of duality. Hot or cold, happy or unhappy, clean or dirty. Vaishnavas must overcome this duality and tolerate them with a steady mind. Yes, yes, yes. We must remember this. All of this arises from sense perception. I remember learning about this in my Psychology class – the way we feel is due to our perception of things. What psychologists have started realizing in the recent past, Krishna spoke thousands of years ago! Timeless wisdom, don’t you think? Krishna goes on to say that those who are steady in this world of duality are certainly eligible for liberation. So there we have it – further motivation to rise above this duality!

2 Comments

Filed under Krishna Consciousness, OCD, OCD and the Bhagavad Gita

OCD and The Bhagavad Gita: Chapter 2 Verses 1-10

Verse 2.1 mentions that Krishna is filled with mercy and compassion upon seeing Arjuna’s state. Similarly, we can understand that Krishna is merciful towards us when He sees us in this miserable state of confusion and doubt. We need to understand from this verse that Krishna does see our suffering and He is merciful and compassionate towards us, even though we may not realize it.

The verse further addresses Krishna as Madhusudhana. The purport by Srila Prabhupada explains that this is significant because Krishna vanquished a demon named Madhu thus giving rise to this name of His. He is addressed as Madhusudhana because He destroyed a demon and now Arjuna needs Him to destroy the demon of doubt and illusion. We too need him to do the same for us. The purport further explains that compassion for our outward bodies will not save us. Isn’t this what we are doing? I know I’m doing it. I’m wasting a lot of time everyday trying to keep myself clean, and I worry constantly and germs and getting dirty. I don’t know why I’m trying so hard to be clean and why it bothers me so much. But I do know that I am catering to the needs of my external body, rather than my spiritual needs.

Then Krishna says, “My dear Arjuna.” Oh, if only I could hear Him addressing me like this, all my worries would go away! Whether we hear Him or not, the fact of the matter is that He is always talking to us and addressing us in this way. Krishna asks Arjuna how come he is thinking such things. He might as well be asking us how we can be focusing so much on such mundane issues – worrying whether my hands are clean, whether the doors are locked, that germs are bad… Obviously, these are good things to do but people with OCD do these things a lot more times than needed. The Lord has given us intelligence and wisdom. Most of us now have the opportunity to be educated and work and build careers. So where do these thoughts come from? Krishna says, “Give up such petty weakness of heart and arise, O chastiser of the enemy.” So this is what me must do. Forget why and how things have come to be as they are. Krishna has instructed us to be strong and fight.

Again, Arjuna is confused. I can relate to his confusion by my doubts which arise, saying it is better to be clean. It is good to be clean. It’s better to be safe than sorry. Maybe my hands didn’t touch anything dirty, but can I take the risk that it did? Then I am stuck. Torn between deciding whether to shower again, wash my hands again, change my clothes again… Because I know that once I start cleaning, it’s going to take a while to stop. And I will feel even dirtier than before.

Arjuna says in verse 7:

Now I am confused about my duty and have lost all composure because of weakness. In this condition I am asking You to tell me clearly what is best for me. Now I am Your disciple, and a soul surrendered unto You. Please instruct me.

This should be our prayer. This should be our state of mind. We are weak and flawed, but God isn’t. He is the only one who knows what is best for us and what is the best plan of action. So through this, Arjuna is teaching us that we should always surrender to Krishna. Humbly go before Him, as His disciples, ready to take instruction from Him and do what He says. Surrender to Krishna, the way Arjuna is showing us how. And like Krishna led Arjuna out of the battle victorious, He will lead us out of this victorious too.

Arjuna then goes on to express his grief. The degree of his grief and lamentation is immense which only adds to the fact that no matter the problem, God can clear all obstacles. Arjuna is teaching us again that only surrender to Krishna can solve all our problems. Arjuna then says that he will not fight. And Krishna smiles in response, in the middle of a battlefield. Can you imagine? Arjuna is bewildered, there is about to be the greatest war of all time, and Krishna is smiling compassionately upon Arjuna. Here we are, lost and confused, fighting our own wars, and Krishna is smiling down upon us.

The next post will cover what Krishna says to Arjuna and us as He compassionately smiles at us.

1 Comment

Filed under Krishna Consciousness, OCD, OCD and the Bhagavad Gita

OCD and The Bhagavad Gita: Chapter 1 Verses 1-20

As promised, here I am starting a study of the Bhagavad Gita and applying it to OCD (and other undesirable physical/mental states, if you will).

I would like to mention here that the information that will follow in this series of discussions is in no way authorized by Vaishnava scholars. It is most definitely not a literal interpretation. It is simply an attempt to take Lord Krishna’s words seriously and use the knowledge He has distributed to overcome problems in my life. Readers can similarly fill in the blanks with their own personal problems and try to approach it through the lens of the Gita. I have searched online for such an application of the Gita’s wisdom but never found any. Similarly, lots of search results have appeared on my blog, looking for advice from the Gita with regards to OCD. Thus I hope and pray this will be a learning experience for me as well as fellow sufferers who are seeking support from Krishna and the Gita. I hope this does not offend anyone in any way and beg your forgiveness if I accidentally do so in the future. In which case I would appreciate being made aware of my errors so I can correct them.

Before I begin, I would just like to say a little prayer: Dear Krishna, I want to thank you for you have mercifully given us this eternal knowledge in the form of this scripture known as the Bhagavad Gita. I am starting a new study of it, applying your teachings to overcome my poor health and OCD. Lord, please help me to understand your teachings and to apply them well. Please help me to avoid offending you or anyone else. Please let this be a great learning experience for all those who take part in it and let it strengthen our faith in you. I pray, God, that we may be able to overcome these problems with your help. Lord, fill us with divine revelations from you through this study and give us the senses to hear, see and understand you. I realize that your pure devotees do not have any requests from you, except devotional service, but I am far from being a pure devotee. I am in distress and I have come seeking your refuge. Please give me shelter at your feet, Lord, for there is no one for me but you.

Text:
I am going to be referring to Bhagavad Gita As It Is by AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada. A good website for it is: http://www.asitis.com

Bhagavad Gita Verses 1-20

Dhritarastra is asking Sanjaya about what is taking place on the battlefield who sees it through his special gift of vision. He describes the armies on the battlefield to Dhritarastra.

So here we are, ready to fight. The question is: did you choose Krishna to be on your side or did you choose His army? If you chose for Krishna to be on your side, let me tell you now, you will emerge victorious. This is Krishna’s promise to us. Let us get ready now to face the demons, with Krishna on our side to guide us and support us. As Sanjaya describes the armies are on the battlefield, ready for war. So right now, let’s step onto the battlefield, ready to take on OCD.

Our army comprises of Krishna, knowledge, light, truth, balance, sensibility, rationality, humility, patience and tolerance.

The opposing army comprises of our problems, OCD, poor health, illnesses, stress, anxiety, depression, dishonesty, and lack of will power.

The opposing army is strong. They have proven to be victorious over and over. Duryodhana believes that our side is limited in strength and prowess and that the enemy will surely emerge victorious once again like they have over many others before. Like Duryodhana wanted to rule over the Pandavas and their kingdom, our problems want to take over us. They do not want us to be free. Many people have given over their lives to illnesses and depression. Some have given up their lives because of it. Others have lost their lives to it. But we shall do neither of these. Krishna is on our side and we will emerge victorious, no matter what Duryodhana or OCD or our problems think!

The war is about to begin. We are about to take on the enemy. Everyone draws their conch shells, signifying the start of the battle. The conch shells of the opposing army are no doubt mighty, but the conch shell of Krishna is the mightiest of all! Thus when our army blows the conch shells, it shatters the heart of the enemy (BG 1.19). OCD, illness and depression don’t stand a chance against us. Already just with the blowing of the conch shells, they have weakened. Victory belongs to those who surrender to Krishna!

But like Arjuna stumbled before them, hesitating to fight them, will we? Should we? Should we also refuse to fight in the battle and simply give up? We’ll find out in the next post!

1 Comment

Filed under Krishna Consciousness, OCD, OCD and the Bhagavad Gita

A Letter to Krishna

Dear Krishna,

I miss you. Its been such a long time since I felt close to you. Like always, its my fault. I don’t spend enough time with you and getting to know you. Do you miss me too Krishna? I know you do. You always do. But why do you stay so far away from me sometimes? Why do you make me long for you like this?

Things have been hard for me lately. With this OCD, and weak physical condition, every day has become difficult. But this must be part of your plan for me. It must be necessary for me so that I can become the person that you want me to be, so that I can realize my true spiritual identity, and so that I can learn to depend on you and trust you. You didn’t hide this misery from us. From the beginning you told us that this world is dukhalayam asasvatam – full of miseries. You told us that while we are in this material world, we will experience birth, disease, old age and death. So this was no secret. Of course. You would never hide anything from us.

Despite knowing this, I still waste my time trying to find material happiness instead of trying to find you. But Gopinath, do you think I am being too materialistic when I ask you for things? I should hope not. I wouldn’t want to disappoint you and put to waste all the time and effort you spent on molding me. While I am in this material world, I am going to have needs. You understand this of course. That’s why you have so mercifully given us ways to make our material desires spiritual ones by keeping you in the center. It is not easy to do this all the time because I still have a long way to go on this path to being able to even be called a devotee of Lord Krishna. So I will admit I still have many material desires. And I almost always beg you to grant my wishes. If I don’t come to you, if I don’t ask you, then whom shall I ask? There is no one for me but you. Forgive me Lord for asking you for so much all the time. Every day I have a new demand. But Krishna, just like you waited for Sudama to ask you to fulfill his needs, I know you expect us to come to you with our needs.

I cannot compare myself to Sudama, I know. But I am trying to learn from your leelas. Am I your friend, Lord? Are you mine? You are the Eternal Friend of every soul in this entire creation. And as your friend, my dear dear Govinda, I am asking you to be my release, to be my guide, to provide for me, to support me, to stay by my side, to protect me and to help me love you forever. If you think of me as your friend, Gopinath, please consider my requests. In the Gita, you say that the reasons one approaches you is either (1) due to distress, (2) due to desire of wealth, (3) out of curiosity and (4) to know the absolute truth. My Lord, I have come before you now because I am in distress and I desire for you to provide for me.

I am tired of this weak physical condition. I am tired of having OCD. It depresses me so much that I do not have a job while all my friends do. I know earlier I wanted a job simply because all my friends had one and I didn’t. And I’m glad you didn’t give me a job at that time because that is a terrible attitude to have. It is selfish. It would feed my ego. Then when I got a job, it was low paying. Again, it was much lesser than my friends were getting. But again, I am glad about it because that too would have fed my ego about how much money I had. But Gopal, I had to quit that job. I had to quit. After 9 months of trouble finding a job, struggling with OCD and failing health, I finally found the perfect job. But I had to quit because of the washrooms. It hurts so bad Gopinath it hurts so bad. The morning after I quit I woke up feeling the deepest regret – thinking I should have gone to work and tried to use the washroom again, should have tried to adjust to it… I should have. I would have still had my job, I would have fallen in love with my job, I would have earned money at the end of the month and donated some to propagate Krishna Consciousness, and helped pay for my sister’s university fees, helped my family… But I had to quit, Gopinath. And I feel so much regret. I wish I was stronger than this.

But I am starting to think that it all happened so fast. And that it was all your desire. It was your will. Not even a blade of grass moves without your sanction so how could this have happened if it wasn’t in your desire? My Lord, you have your reasons for this which I cannot see right now but I trust that it will be revealed to me in time.

I trust you Krsna. Lately I’ve been seeing a lot of reminders of you. On the first day of work, I saw a devotee chanting in the metro. That was new! I never saw any devotees in the metro before. Then day before yesterday while driving, I saw a devotee chanting in the car in the lane on my left! Again, this was something completely new. Yesterday, I asked you for a sign to give me hope about my job and to release me from these feelings of regret. I asked you to give me a sign so I would know that your plan for me is in action and you have a job in my future. And I saw a devotee from my Gita class (which was also supposed to be yesterday) at the hypermarket. I have rarely ever seen devotees outside. And it was a big shocker since Gita class was supposed to have been going on at that hour. Maybe it was cancelled, I don’t know. But I felt like it was a sign from you, Krsna, reminding me of you and of your family of devotees.

You have made me realize that this is not a competition. It is not a race. I don’t need to earn a salary that is higher than that of my friends. And I thank you for this realization. While some of my friends have reached the top with little effort, perhaps I am one of those people who needs to work hard and struggle to get there. No complaints, Gopinath, for it is your divine will. All I ask is your company. Just stay with me and I will fight this war.

Oh Madhava, please help me find a job that will suit me perfectly in every way, and which will not hamper my devotional service to you. Lord, help me overcome these feelings of regret. Krsna, heal me of these ailments and make me well again. Please God. I beg you. There is no one to help me but you. You are my only friend and you are the best friend anyone could ever ask for. Please fill me with the spirit of your devotion. Fill me with your love and faith. I thank you for all the blessings in my life and I thank you for the blessings I know you will continue to pour on me. Forgive me for having upset you so many times. I love you, Krsna. I trust you with my heart and soul. Please stay close to me, my beautiful Madhava. Stay close to my heart and love me always.

Sincerely,
Your daughter

11 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized