Free eBook: Hanuman’s Adoration for Lord Rama

I have put together a free eBook (through Draft2Digital) that includes an English translation of the Hanuman Chalisa (with my notes added) from this blog and my summary of the Sundar Kand from the Ramayana. It is available at Nook, Kobo, and Scribd. The links are given below:

Nook

Kobo

Scribd

When Krishna accepted Sudama’s rice

Sudama was a poor Brahmin who had been Lord Krishna’s classmate as a child. Following his schooling, Sudama spent most of his time in remembrance of the Lord. Because his family did not even have enough for food, once his wife asked him if he could visit Krishna’s palace to ask for some alms. Sudama accepted the proposal, not for the monetary gain, but for the darshan [1] of Krishna, the Supreme Being, that the visit would lead to. As soon as Sudama reached Krishna’s palace, Krishna, along with his queen Rukmini, started serving Sudama. Krishna gave the frail jiva [2] a hug and washed his feet.

After giving Sudama a majestic reception, Krishna inquired if Sudama had brought any gifts for Krishna. Sudama had brought some puffed rice for Krishna but hesitated to offer it to Krishna, the wealthiest amongst kings. Krishna, the knower of all, understood what was in Sudama’s mind. Krishna immediately grabbed the rice and ate some of it. Sudama was over-whelmed at how Krishna treated him, a weak jiva, in his palace. The love for Krishna in Sudama’s mind did not allow Sudama to ask Krishna for a monetary loan. Consequently, Sudama left the palace empty-handed. He was, in fact, pleased by not receiving any monetary gifts from Krishna, for this implied, in Sudama’s mind, that Krishna did not want Sudama to be trapped in materialism, according to the Srimad Bhagavat Purana.

As soon as Sudama reached home, Sudama was surprised to see that his hut had turned into a grand and luxiruious palace, and his family had been blessed with incomparable status, wealth, and servants. He at once understood that Krishna had blessed him with riches. The Srimad Bhagavat Purana says that when Krishna blesses his devotees, he does not inform them beforehand, for Krishna considers many of his blessings humble. On the other hand, when he receives a tiny gift, like fruits or rice, from an individual soul, he accepts it as an enormous offering because it is laden with devotion for him. Because Sudama was already saturated with love for Krishna, Sudama accepted all the material benefits that Krishna gave him but his mind never got attached to them and his love for Krishna increased progressively. This interaction between Sudama and Krishna supports Krishna’s statement in the Bhagavada Gita that Krishna accepts any gift that is offered with devotion (Bhagavad Gita 9.26).

[1] face-to-face meeting with God

[2] individual soul

This blog is back

After a gap of about five years, this blog is back with a new name — Hindu Routes to God.

In the process of migrating this blog from the previous web address, some of your comments may have been lost. Your comments are valuable to this blog; feel free to post new ones.

Edited on May 5, 2019.

Yogavasistha: Tandava and the dissolution

It is believed that Rudra, a form of Shiva, performs the Tandava dance with his Shakti when it is time for the dissolution of the universe. However, according to the Yogavasistha [1], this dance is a continuous process. Symbolizing the impermanence of the material world, the entire universe, where every single object is destructible, becomes the theatre for Tandava. The drying up of water bodies, destruction of the fourteen worlds, and the collapse of the stars – are all a part of Tandava.

Describing his own vision of a great dissolution from a kalpa [2] of the past, Rishi Vasistha, in this scripture, explains that the Tandava concluded when Rudra engulfed the entire universe as if it were a leaf. Rudra, beyond comprehension, then turned invisible, according to this book. As of the universe, nothing but absolute peace and consciousness remained, which is the true nature of Shiva [3].

[1] Note that the Yogavasistha supports the philosophy of Advaita Vedanta. Hinduism involves multiple philosophies, and alternate and more detailed descriptions about the universe’s dissolution can be found in other Hindu scriptures.

[2] aeon

[3] According to popular Hindu theories, following the dissolution of the universe, numerous abodes (loka) of God continue to exist, where beings live permanently with God.

Holi: Celebration vs. Renunciation

In the most popular traditional story about Holi, Prahlada, one of Lord Vishnu’s child devotees, was not only saved from an aunt who hated him, but he was also saved from the boon of Lord Brahma, the writer of the divine plan. What Brahma writes on the blueprint for the universe unfolds to cause major predestined events in our lives. Had Prahlada left everything for destiny to work out, he might not have been saved; the divine plan created by Brahma, based on flawless karmic calculations, could have been on Holika’s side. But Prahlada made the right choice — the only choice that could have saved him.  He took the refuge (sharanagati) of Lord Vishnu and found the divine plan overridden by Vishnu’s grace. For us, Holika probably represents very powerful circumstances, filled with anger, hatred, restriction, and conspiracies. Prahlada represents a being who is apparently weak but is solely dependent on the Supreme Soul — Vishnu. Of course, Vishnu modified Prahlada’s circumstances, destroyed Holika, and saved Prahlada.

In the other story related to why Holi is celebrated, Shiva turned Kamadeva, the god of desires, into ashes. Following the elimination of desires from the world, Shiva, in his divine play, continued to focus on his blissful self, and Devi Parvati started her meditation on Shiva (for thousands of years) to get her marriage proposal accepted. For us, the festival indicates that whenever an individual being begins the remembrance of Pavati-Shiva, they take the individual being in their protection and trigger his or her spiritual journey by closing the three gates to hell — kama (lust/desires), krodha (anger), and lobha (greed) — for the individual being. With time, renunciation and pure love win over the individual being’s instincts.

We can waste the occasion of Holi by extravagant shopping, partying, gossips, drinking, making fun of others, or watching scrawled TV programs. Alternatively, we can give the festival some spiritual meaning by eliminating at least a single selfish desire.

Edited on May 9, 2019.

Can God give us money too?

God takes care of his devotees’ security and needs. He inserts difficult lessons in our lives, at times, to create ways for our liberation.

While God takes care of every being in his creation, desire for money and its accumulation becomes irrelevant for the advanced spiritual seeker who has learned to think about God fulltime, leaving all worries about his or her future to God. In contrast, beginners in spirituality may find it difficult to leave their liking for money or may be bound by circumstances to work for money.

According to the Bhagavad Gita, God has given us the freedom to work or perform actions but has not given us the right to its results. Also, we must remember that God works according to his own calendar, not that of individual souls. A lag may exist between our hard work and our returns. And what we gain at the end of the day may be unrelated to the intensity of our desires.

To teach us some lessons, God may, at times, deliberately delay the results of our hard work or not fulfil many of our wishes. If we request God to give us a chocolate, God may give us an ice cream. If we ask for an ice cream, God may provide us with chocolate. The actual choice of food becomes only available to the seeker who no longer wishes for chocolate or ice cream but can observe that it is God who provides everyone with food. Many advanced seekers become naturally trained in leaving the results of their work to God, which is one of the classical paths of yoga (karma yoga) by which individual souls can escape the universe to reach God.

The path of devotion (bhakti) takes a somewhat different approach towards renouncing the results of our karma to God. On this path, we are expected to hand over or surrender our soul to God. When this happens, separate surrender of karma is not required. Surrender of the self includes surrender of our karma. It includes recognition of God as the real doer. In other words, bhakti yoga, in some its versions, includes karma yoga as an internal part. This devotional approach may begin with simple prayers, remembrance of God, and learning some basic spiritual principles. Later, we may also have to learn lessons by experiencing difficulties and creating our own possible solutions while remembering God. A well-developed habit of remembering God may make it easier for us to surrender ourselves to God.

Workplace spirituality involves a delicate balance between desire for money and remembrance of God; the two cannot exist together in the same mind at the same moment. Once we recognize that God is omnipresent and always watches us from within our heart, we may become more vigilant in making ethical decisions and may develop the power to counter yearning for money. The more often we remember God, the better are our chances of triggering karma yoga involuntarily.

When we only have God in our mind, we no longer absorb negative energies like anger from the environment. Our remembrance of God eliminates all negative thought processes that create a major separation between the individual soul and God, who is the source of all knowledge and infinite virtues. Consequently, the karmic cycle breaks and we recognize our own divine origin.

When we are spiritual beginners, our prayers to God can include requests for forgiveness for our bad karma, requests for spiritual guidance, and requests for God’s proximity (liberation). Because prayers are karma of the present moment, prayers can always overcome some of our negative karma from the past. Moreover, every prayer to God is responded to by both God and Nature, demonstrating the love from God for the individual soul.

God, being the perfect parent, does not make the parenting mistakes that human beings can make. By nurturing the universe according to his own plan and by inserting difficult lessons at times, he creates ways for the liberation of every soul.

Last edited on July 31, 2019.

%d bloggers like this: