Krishna’s Eternal Spiritual Abode–Our Ultimate Goal, by Stephen Knapp

The Vedic texts describe that there are innumerable spiritual planets in the spiritual sky beyond this material creation, each having one of the unlimited forms of the Lord with countless devotees engaging in His service. In the center of all the spiritual planets of Vaikuntha (meaning the spiritual sky where there is no anxiety) is the planet known as Krishnaloka or Goloka Vrindavana. This is the personal abode of the original Supreme Personality of God, Sri Krishna. Krishna enjoys His transcendental bliss in multiple forms on that planet, and all the opulences of the other Vaikuntha planets are found there. This planet is shaped like a lotus flower and many kinds of pastimes are taking place on each leaf of that lotus, as described in Brahma-samhita, verses two and four: “The superexcellent station of Krishna, which is known as Gokula, has thousands of petals and a corolla like that of a lotus sprouted from a part of His infinitary aspect, the whorl of the leaves being the actual abode of Krishna. The whorl of that eternal realm, Gokula, is the hexagonal abode of Krishna. Its petals are the abodes of gopis [friends] who are part and parcel of Krishna to whom they are most lovingly devoted and are similar in essence. The petals shine beautifully like so many walls. The extended leaves of that lotus are the garden-like dhama, or spiritual abode of Sri Radhika, the most beloved of Krishna.”

The only business that Sri Krishna has in the spiritual realm is transcendental enjoyment. The only business of Krishna’s eternal servants or devotees is to offer enjoyment to Him. The more enjoyment the devotees offer to Krishna, the happier He becomes. The happier Krishna becomes, the more His devotees become enlivened and taste eternal, transcendental ecstasy. In this way, there is an ever-increasing competition of spiritual ecstasy between Krishna and His parts and parcels. This is the only business in the spiritual world, as confirmed in Brahma-samhita, verse 6: “The Lord of Gokula is the Transcendental Supreme Godhead, the own Self of eternal ecstacies. He is superior to all superiors and is busily engaged in the enjoyments of the transcendental realm and has no association with His mundane [material] potency.”

Though it is not possible to experience spiritual pastimes or to see the form of the Supreme with ordinary senses, by spiritualizing our senses by the practice of devotional yoga we can reach the platform of perceiving the Supreme at every moment. At that time we start becoming Krishna conscious and can begin to enter into the pastimes of Krishna, although we may still be situated within this material body. If we become fully spiritualized in this manner, there is no doubt that when we give up this material body, we will return to the spiritual world. Until then, we can continue studying the Vedic texts to remember and be conversant about the beauty and loveliness of the spiritual world, as described as follows:

“Vrindavana-dhama is a place of ever-increasing joy. Flowers and fruits of all seasons grow there, and that transcendental land is full of the sweet sound of various birds. All directions resound with the humming of bumblebees, and it is served with cool breezes and the waters of the Yamuna River. Vrindavana is decorated with wish-fulfilling trees wound with creepers and beautiful flowers. Its divine beauty is ornamented with the pollen of red, blue and white lotuses. The ground is made of jewels whose dazzling glory is equal to a myriad of suns rising in the sky at one time. On that ground is a garden of desire trees, which always shower divine love. In that garden is a jeweled temple whose pinnacle is made of rubies. It is decorated with various jewels, so it remains brilliantly effulgent through all seasons of the year. The temple is beautified with bright-colored canopies, glittering with various gems, and endowed with ruby-decorated coverings and jeweled gateways and arches. Its splendour is equal to millions of suns, and it is eternally free from the six waves of material miseries. In that temple there is a great golden throne inlaid with many jewels. In this way one should meditate on the divine realm of the Supreme Lord, Sri Vrindavana-dhama.” (Gautamiya Tantra 4)

“I worship that transcendental seat, known as Svetadvipa where as loving consorts the Lakshmis, in their unalloyed spiritual essence, practice the amorous service of the Supreme Lord Krishna as their only lover; where every tree is a transcendental purpose-tree; where the soil is the purpose-gem, water is nectar, every word is a song, every gait is a dance, the flute is the favorite attendant, effulgence is full of transcendental bliss and the supreme spiritual entities are all enjoyable and tasty, where numberless milch-cows always emit transcendental oceans of milk; where there is eternal existence of transcendental time, who is ever present and without past or future and hence is not subject to the quality of passing away even for the duration of half a moment. That realm is known as Goloka only to a very few self-realized souls in this world.” (Brahma-samhita, 5.56)

By studying and hearing about the beauty of the spiritual world, we will understand that everything we are looking for in life has its origin in that eternal realm. There, as it is described, one finds freedom from all pains and suffering, and the atmosphere is unlimitedly full of ever-expanding beauty, joy, happiness, knowledge, and eternal, loving relationships. It is a world full of recreation only, without the struggle for maintaining our existence. There is never any hunger, and we can feast and never get full. Neither is there any lamentation over the past or fear of the future. It is said that time is conspicuous by its absence. Thus, the needs of the soul for complete freedom and unbounded love and happiness are found in the spiritual atmosphere. That is our real home.

For more information and paintings and photographs of Krishna, go to the Krishna Darshan Art Gallery at http://www.stephen-knapp.com, which presents a collection of photographs of lovely Radha-Krishna Deities from around the world, as well as paintings and prints of Krishna’s pastimes and His incarnations.

[From www.stephen-knapp.com]

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Krishna–The Ever-Loving God, by Stephen Knapp

        When it comes to humanity’s conception of God, it seems that each religion and culture describes the character of God differently. In some we find God described as an angry and jealous God. Or we find the God of the Old Testament of the Bible with lots of rules but little mercy. Or in other religions we read about a God who is heartless to any nonbelievers, even if they merely lack understanding. In other cultures, God recommends killing all that do not wish to surrender to the local faith. Others may describe that there is a just and loving God watching over you. So, what are we to believe?
 
        Naturally, God will reveal Himself differently to those who are more devoted. He will reciprocate to the degree in which we love Him. But we are all parts and parcels of Him, so He is our Supreme Father who should have unconditional love for His children, even if we do go astray or get confused. So, it makes no sense how a God who is supposed to be all loving and merciful can send His children to an eternal hell or some damnation without the means of retribution or correcting themselves. Of course, we often find mankind putting his own fears and tendencies into the character of God, without true understanding. However, we find a very different and more loving God in the Vedic tradition in the form of Lord Krishna. So, let us find out the nature of this more loving form of the Supreme Being.
 
        Lord Krishna describes His ever-loving nature towards one and all, but especially for those who engage in loving Him. This is not favoritism but a natural reciprocation with those who are filled with loving feelings for Him. Lord Krishna explains Himself this way:
 
        “I envy no one, nor am I partial to anyone. I am equal to all. But whoever renders service unto Me in devotion is a friend, is in Me, and I am also a friend to him. Even if one commits the most abominable actions, if he is engaged in devotional service, he is considered saintly because he is properly situated. He quickly becomes righteous and attains lasting peace. O son of Kunti [Arjuna], declare it boldly that My devotee never perishes. Those who take shelter in Me, even though they be of lower birth, or women, or simple merchants, or ordinary workers, all can approach the supreme destination.” 1
 
        This is further explained by Narada Muni in his talks with Maharaja Yudhisthira. He says that Lord Vishnu, the Supreme Personality, is the supreme controller and Supersoul within all living beings. Because He has no material body, he has no false conception of who He is, or of “I” and “mine.” So, it is not accurate to think that He feels pain when blasphemed or happy if offered prayers. This is impossible for Him. He has no enemy and no friend in that respect. When He chastises the demons or the envious it is for their own good. When He accepts the prayers of the devotees, it is also for their own good. He is affected neither by prayers or blasphemy. Therefore, by enmity or by devotional service, by fear or affection, or even lusty desires, if the materially conditioned soul can concentrate his mind on the Lord by any method, the result is the same for one’s benefit. The Lord, because of His blissful position, is never affected by enmity or friendship. 2
 
        So, if the conditioned souls somehow or other think of Krishna, who is sac-chit-ananda-vigraha [the eternal form of knowledge and bliss], they will become free from their sins. Whether thinking of Him as their worshipable Lord or enemy, because of constantly thinking of Him they will regain their spiritual bodies. 3
 
        In this way, it does not matter how we think or focus our attention on Krishna, He is nonetheless all powerful and purifying. His form alone and any thoughts of Him will uplift our spiritual awareness and purity.
 
        When Akrura was praying to Lord Krishna, he also asked what learned person would approach anyone but Him for shelter, since He was the affectionate, grateful and truthful well-wisher of His devotees. To those who worship Krishna in sincere friendship, He rewards them with everything they desire, even His own self (which is the rarest of attainments). 4
 
        It is explained by Sri Havir to King Nimi that the Supreme Personality is so kind to the conditioned souls that if they call upon Him by chanting His holy names, even unintentionally or unwillingly, the Lord is willing to destroy innumerable sinful reactions in their hearts. Therefore, when a devotee who has directly taken shelter of the lotus feet of the Lord chants the holy name of Krishna with genuine love, the Supreme Lord will never give up the heart of such a devotee. One who has captured the Supreme Lord within his heart is most exalted, and called a bhagavata-pradhana devotee. 5
 
        Sudama, the garland maker, also prayed to Lords Krishna and Balarama when They went to see him at his house because They are the well-wishing friends and Supreme Soul of the whole universe. They regard everyone with an unbiased vision. Although They reciprocate Their devotees’ love and worship, They always remain equally disposed toward all living beings. 6
 
        As Lord Krishna says in this regard, “To those who are constantly devoted and worship Me with love, I give the understanding by which they can come to Me. Out of compassion for them, I, dwelling in their hearts, destroy with the shining lamp of knowledge the darkness born of ignorance.” 7
 
        Lord Krishna loves His devotees so much that He doesn’t descend into this world without them. They all appear in the world to make preparations whenever He is ready to descend. And they all leave this world whenever the Lord again wraps up His pastimes. He gives Himself to them in such a way that no one feels neglected, and they actually feel that they are getting extra and exclusive attention from the Lord.
 
        In His instructions to Durvasa Muni, the Lord explains how much He loves His devotees. He says that He is completely under the control of His devotees. He is not independent of their love. Because His devotees have no material desires, He sits within the core of their hearts. But not only His devotees, but those who are devotees of His devotees are very dear to Him. Without the saintly persons, for whom He is the only destination, He has no desire to enjoy His own transcendental bliss or supreme opulences. Since these devotees give up so much for Him, such as homes, families, even riches and their own lives if need be, how can He give up such devotees at any time? So, just as a chaste wife brings their gentle husbands under their control by service, such pure devotees also bring Him under control.
 
        The Lord explains that His devotees are simply satisfied by engaging in service to Him. They are not even interested in liberation, though this is automatically achieved by their service. And they are certainly not interested in the perishable happiness of reaching the heavenly planets that exist within this universe. The pure devotees are always in the core of His heart, and He is always in the heart of His pure devotees. His devotees do not know anything else but Him, and He does not know anything else but them. 8
 
        When instructing the brahmana ladies who came to render service to Him, Lord Krishna said that those expert personalities who can see their own true interest in life, render unmotivated and uninterrupted devotional service to Him, because He is the most dear to the soul. 9
 
        In discerning Krishna’s love for us in this life, it is said that if Krishna likes us, He will give us everything. But if Krishna loves us, He will take everything away from us. This does not necessarily mean that He leaves us with nothing. But what gets in the way of our devotional life and spiritual advancement may be taken away. As Krishna Himself explained to Indra, the proud King of Heaven, that a man who is blind with the intoxication of power and opulence cannot easily see Him with the rod of punishment in His hand. If He desires someone’s real welfare, He will drag such a person down from his materially opulent position. 10
 
        When a person is deprived of unnecessary material benefits, he will at first become morose, but then he will have little else to distract him from understanding his real position in life and the spiritual purpose behind it. This is extremely fortunate, otherwise a person with power and money is often preoccupied with the materialistic aspects of life all the way until the moment of death. Then he still loses everything. So, it is better to be deprived of such preoccupation before then so that a person can make inquiries into the Self and thus have a chance to prepare oneself for leaving the body. That way one can take care of death before death takes care of him. The joyful process of spiritual advancement is the real benefit that Krishna wishes for everyone, and not the blindness that comes from the preoccupation of a materialistic lifestyle. As Lord Krishna Himself says, “the wealthy hardly ever worship Me.” 11  In other words, having many dollars or many rupees usually means many lives. An intelligent person will try to prevent that.
 
        Krishna continues to explain this aspect of His display of love in His instructions to the gopis, the cowherd girls of Vrindavana. He explains that the reason He does not always immediately reciprocate the affection or worship of living beings is that He wants to intensify their loving devotion. Then they become like a poor man who had gained some wealth but then loses it, and who then becomes so anxious about it that he can think of nothing else. This does not mean that Lord Krishna stops loving us, and we should certainly not harbor any bad feelings toward Him. 12
 
        We need to understand that in the broader picture of things, He never stops loving and caring for us, but He understands what is best for us and what we need to learn through the experiences that are sent our way. Our progress toward higher understanding is all that we take with us into the next life, while everything else must be given up or forcibly taken away. For most people it is hard to understand this, which is why we sometimes must learn it by force of nature, or the deliberate arrangement of Krishna.
 
        Lord Krishna further explains this point wherein He says that if He especially favors someone, He gradually deprives that person of his wealth, at least if it is getting in the way. Then someone who was wealthy but becomes poverty-stricken will be abandoned by his relatives and friends. So, he suffers one distress after another. When he becomes frustrated in his endeavors to make money and instead befriends the Lord’s devotees, then the Lord bestows His special mercy on him. Such a person then can become sober and fully realize the Absolute as the highest truth. Realizing the Supreme Truth as the basis of his own existence, he is freed from the cycle of birth and death. However, Krishna admits that because He is difficult to worship, people often avoid worshiping Him and instead worship the other demigods who are more easily satisfied. Then when such people receive rich opulences from these deities, they become arrogant and intoxicated with pride, and then even neglect their own duties. They may even offend those who gave them their blessings. 13
 
        One point to remember is that Lord Krishna’s teachings are for anyone. His love and affection showers down like the sunshine from the sun planet. Yet, if someone persists in living in a cave, the sunshine cannot reach that person. Similarly, if someone insists on living in ignorance of the Lord, or without devotion to Him, how can such a person feel the Lord’s love?
 
        The Lord showed everyone the path of spiritual progress, which is the way to follow dharma, the balanced path to righteousness and personal well-being and development. Lord Krishna never exhibited special attachment toward one person over another. When Duryodhana wanted Krishna’s army to fight for him, Krishna gave it to him. And when Arjuna wanted only Krishna on his side, Krishna accepted that but told Arjuna He would not take up arms during the battle. He would only act as Arjuna’s charioteer. But that was enough for Arjuna.
 
        The same thing goes for the reason why Lord Krishna killed Kamsa, the demon king, even though Kamsa was Krishna’s own uncle. Kamsa used everyone for his own agenda and terrorized the area of Vrindavana. He could not stand the thought of dharma. He made so many arrangements in his attempts to kill Krishna until finally Krishna killed him. But ultimately only the body was destroyed while Kamsa’s soul not only lived on but was purified by Krishna’s touch and attained immortality. So, this is also Krishna’s ultimate level of mercy and care. If Krishna gave His mercy even to the demoniac like Kamsa, then we can understand how much more He will give His love and care to His devotees. So, all we really have to do is to become and act as one of Lord Krishna’s devotees, and soon we will experience Krishna’s loving nature.
 
CHAPTER NOTES
1. Bhagavad-gita 9.29-32
2. Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.1.25-26
3. Ibid., 7.1.28-29
4. Ibid., 10.48.26
5. Ibid., 11.2.55
6. Ibid., 10.41.47
7. Bhagavad-gita 10.10-11
8. Srimad-Bhagavatam 9.4.63-68
9. Srimad-Bhagavatam 10.23.26
10. Ibid., 10.27.16
11. Ibid., 10.60.14
12. Ibid., 10.32.20-21
13. Ibid., 10.88.8-11

 

Bhagavad-gita’s Ultimate Purpose, By Stephen Knapp

The Bhagavad-gita is the essence of all Vedic philosophy and is composed of 700 verses and explains such topics as the nature of the soul, God, the material universe, the nature of activities and karma, reincarnation, the process of yoga, the purpose of life, and more. Within the Bhagavad-gita we can find the teachings for such additional topics as how to have a peaceful life, how to gain stability of mind, how to understand the workings of material nature, or even get insights into principles of management. When we really analyze it, there are so many different levels of understanding that can be found within it. Nonetheless, in the Bhagavad-gita we find a recurring theme which puts emphasis on what Lord Krishna taught and expected of Arjuna, and all readers of it, for what we really need to accomplish, and the real purpose of it. Out of all of the teachings we find within, Bhagavan Sri Krishna continues to emphasize the need to end our karma, to stop the cycle of birth and death in this material existence, and to ultimately reach the spiritual world, His abode, where we belong.

 

These verses form what can be called part of the foundation of the bhakti movement in emphasizing devotion to Krishna as the Supreme Being, which also provides the means to free ourselves from samsara, repeated birth and death in this material creation, and attain the highest spiritual destination. This would also place attention on Kurukshetra, the Dharma-dhama, since this is the place where Lord Krishna taught this most crucial of information, as found in the Bhagavad-gita. Therefore, the land of Kurukshetra should be considered one of the most important places for not only the bhakti movement, but also as the historical place of origination for these most essential teachings on Vedic Dharma, and where these teachings were most effectively put into action with the battle of Kurukshetra. What follows are a number of the verses which explain this most essential recurring theme as emphasized by Lord Sri Krishna.

 

Starting in Chapter 2, Content of the Gita Summarized, after Bhagavan Sri Krishna begins to teach the essential aspects of understanding the soul, He says in verse 72 the real purpose of this knowledge, which is how to follow this path to lead a life that will bring a person to the highest destination possible, “That is the way of the spiritual and godly life, after attaining which a man is not bewildered. Being so situated, even at the hour of death, one can enter into the kingdom of God.” This is the beginning of recognizing that Lord Krishna wants Arjuna and all of us to ultimately attain the spiritual realm. This is the real purpose of His teachings in Bhagavad-gita.

 

Then in Chapter 4, Sri Krishna continues to clarify this in the explanations of what is Transcendental Knowledge and how to begin to comprehend Krishna as the Absolute Truth. In verse 9 He says, “One who knows the transcendental nature of My appearance and activities does not, upon leaving the body, take his birth again in this material world, but attains My eternal abode, O Arjuna.”

 

In this way, understanding the truth and characteristics of Bhagavan Sri Krishna is one method that can bring a person to the spiritual world. But attaining the spiritual world is the main point.

 

Then in verses 23- 24 of the same chapter, Lord Krishna again emphasizes that, “The work of a man who is unattached to the modes of material nature, and who is fully situated in transcendental knowledge, merges entirely into transcendence. A person who is fully absorbed in Krishna consciousness is sure to attain the spiritual kingdom because of his full contribution to spiritual activities, in which the consummation is absolute and that which is offered is of the same spiritual nature.”

 

In other words, by engaging in bhakti-yoga, or the devotional service to the Supreme Lord, Sri Krishna, such activities are on the spiritual platform, cutting one off from material activities and their reactions, and spiritualizes one’s consciousness, which is the goal, for that is the process for perceiving and then entering the spiritual abode.

 

Then in verse 30 of the same chapter, Lord Krishna makes it even more clear by explaining that when a person attains an attraction to performing loving devotional activities to Him, that attraction overcomes any material desires and takes one to the spiritual realm. As He says, “All these performers who know the meaning of sacrifice become cleansed of sinful reaction [meaning freedom from karma], and, having tasted the nectar of the remnants of such sacrifice [meaning to attain the attraction to performing spiritual activities], they go to the supreme eternal abode.”

 

In verse 32 we find that He elaborates by saying, “All these different types of sacrifice are approved by the Vedas, and all of them are born of different types of work [meaning physical, mental, or intellectual]. Knowing them as such [to bring you above the bodily platform], you will become liberated.”

 

In Chapter 5, when Krishna explains the process of Karma-yoga–Action in Krishna Consciousness, verses 24-26, Krishna again explains the spiritual goal of all such activities, which is the purpose of Karma-yoga, “One whose happiness is within, who is active within, who rejoices within and is illumined within, is actually the perfect mystic. He is liberated in the Supreme, and ultimately he attains the Supreme. One who is beyond duality and doubt, whose mind is engaged within, who is always busy working for the welfare of all sentient beings, and who is free from all sins, achieves liberation in the Supreme. Those who are free from anger and all material desires, who are self-realized, self-disciplined and constantly endeavoring for perfection, are assured of liberation in the Supreme in the very near future.”

 

Here again the purpose of focusing all of our actions on the transcendental nature of who we are, and the means to free ourselves from all karma, is to ultimately attain liberation or freedom from the continuation of any more material existence.

 

Then in Chapter 7, Knowledge of the Absolute, Bhagavan Sri Krishna explains His different energies and to which energy the individual soul belongs. However, in verse 18, Lord Krishna emphasizes the central purpose of being His devotee, and how to most favorably reach the supreme goal: “All these devotees are undoubtedly magnanimous souls, but he who is situated in knowledge of Me I consider verily to dwell in Me. Being engaged in My transcendental service, he attains Me.”

 

To elaborate further, in Chapter 8, Attaining the Supreme, verses 5-8, Lord Krishna clearly expresses the purpose of meditation and the ultimate goal for which we should practice through all the phases of our life. “And whoever, at the time of death, quits his body, remembering Me alone, at once attains My nature. Of this there is no doubt. Whatever state of being one remembers when he quits his body, that state he will attain without fail. Therefore, Arjuna, you should always think of Me in the form of Krishna and at the same time carry out your prescribed duty of fighting. With your activities dedicated to Me and your mind and intelligence fixed on Me, you will attain Me without doubt. He who meditates on the Supreme Personality of Godhead, his mind constantly engaged in remembering Me, undeviated from the path, he, O Partha [Arjuna], is sure to reach Me.”

 

Again Lord Krishna further explains in Chapter 8, verses 13-14, the ultimate way to prepare for leaving this body so we can attain the highest destination after this life: “After being situated in this yoga practice and vibrating the sacred syllable om, the supreme combination of letters, if one thinks of the Supreme Personality of Godhead and quits his body, he will certainly reach the spiritual planets. For one who remembers Me without deviation, I am easy to obtain, O son of Partha, because of his constant engagement in devotional service [bhakti-yoga].”

 

Lord Krishna makes the ultimate purpose of all of His instructions in the Bhagavad-gita very clear by again, in Chapter 8, verse 21, explaining that He expects us to ultimately attain His spiritual abode: “That supreme abode is called unmanifested and infallible, and it is the supreme destination. When one goes there, he never comes back. That is My supreme abode.”

 

Therefore, in Chapter 9, The Most Confidential Knowledge, verse 25, Lord Krishna relates the destination of those who meditate on other objects of worship, while the real goal is to reach the spiritual realm of Lord Krishna. “Those who worship the demigods will take birth among the demigods; those who worship ghosts and spirits will take birth among such beings; those who worship ancestors go to the ancestors; and those who worship Me will live with Me.”

 

Then in the same chapter, verse 28, Lord Krishna points us in what He considers the right direction to attain the highest goal, when He says, “In this way you will be freed from all reactions to good and evil deeds, and by this principle of renunciation you will be liberated and come to Me.”

 

However, Lord Krishna is not yet finished in emphasizing the ultimate purpose of these instructions of Bhagavad-gita. He reiterates in verse 34, “Engage your mind always in thinking of Me, offer obeisances and worship Me. Being completely absorbed in Me, surely you will come to Me.”

 

In this way, He explains the real objective, as He again points out in Chapter 13, verse 24, when speaking about Nature, the Enjoyer, and Consciousness, “One who understands this philosophy concerning material nature, the living entity and the interaction of the modes of nature is sure to attain liberation. He will not take birth here again, regardless of his present position.”

 

Later in verse 35 of the same chapter, Lord Krishna points out that by perceiving the difference between the body and the person who resides in the body, the soul, leads us to becoming free from bodily existence. He says, “One who knowingly sees this difference between the body and the owner of the body and can understand the process of liberation from this bondage, also attains to the supreme goal.”

 

This is the process of becoming free from illusion, in which Arjuna was temporarily entrapped by his confusion about what he should do. So to provide the whole purpose for attaining freedom from illusion and such misconceptions, Lord Sri Krishna instructs in Chapter 15, The Yoga of the Supreme Person, in verses 5-6, “One who is free from illusion, false prestige, and false association, who understands the eternal, who is done with material lust and is freed from the duality of happiness and distress, and who knows how to surrender unto the Supreme Person, attains to that eternal kingdom. That abode of Mine is not illumined by the sun or moon, nor by electricity. One who reaches it never returns to this material world.”

 

Finally, after explaining the whole Bhagavad-gita to Arjuna, Lord Krishna reaches the culmination of all such Upanishadic knowledge by summarizing the ultimate goal of any devotee, when He says in Chapter 18, Conclusion–The Perfection of Renunciation, verses 55-56: “One can understand the Supreme Personality as He is only by devotional service [bhakti-yoga]. And when one is in full consciousness of the Supreme Lord by such devotion, he can enter into the kingdom of God. Though engaged in all kinds of activities, My devotee, under My protection, reaches the eternal and imperishable abode by My grace.”

 

Therefore, the ultimate position of any transcendentalist or yogi is to attain the grace of the Lord if we want to enter the spiritual world or kingdom of God. And to do this most effectively, Lord Krishna clearly says, again in Chapter 18, verses 65-66: “Always think of Me and become My devotee. Worship Me and offer your homage unto Me. Thus you will come to Me without fail. I promise you this because you are My very dear friend. Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reaction. Do not fear.”

 

Herein is the final conclusion of the purpose of all spiritual activities, without which, we have still not quite attained or understood the goal. And for those who help illuminate this, Lord Krishna says in Chapter 18, verses 68-69, that such a person can certainly attain the goal of the teachings of Bhagavad-gita, “For one who explains this supreme secret to the devotees, devotional service is guaranteed, and at the end he will come back to Me. There is no servant in this world more dear to Me than he, nor will there ever be one more dear.” So, in other words, teaching this knowledge is itself devotional service or bhakti-yoga, which is the basis for spiritualizing our consciousness, and which is the method for entering the spiritual abode of Lord Krishna.

 

In addition to this, simply by studying the Bhagavad-gita will lead to great achievements on our path of spiritual progress, as Lord Krishna explains in Chapter 18, verses 70-71: “And I declare that he who studies this sacred conversation worships Me by his intelligence. And one who listens with faith and without envy becomes free from sinful reaction and attains to the planets where the pious dwell.”

It can’t get more easy than that.

* * *

To conclude, all of these verses quoted above, and many others from the Bhagavad-gita indicate the ultimate purpose of its teachings, and, quite honestly, the ultimate purpose behind all of Vedic knowledge. We are not really a product of this material creation, nor is it our real home, nor will we ever be able to stay here forever. So Lord Krishna emphasizes the real goal of life within this recurring theme in the Bhagavad-gita, which is to reach freedom from any further existence in this material world and attain Bhagavan Sri Krishna’s supreme spiritual abode. That is our ultimate destination where we can attain the real nature of the soul, which reveals our true identity, and where we can finally be truly happy and blissful.

REFERENCE

The Bhagavad-gita As it Is, translated by A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami, Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, New York/Los Angeles, 1972.

 

 

Becoming a Dharmic Leader, By Stephen Knapp

Becoming a Dharmic leader, or one who truly represents the Vedic path of Sanatana-dharma, is similar to becoming the ultimate revolutionary, but a spiritual revolutionary. It is being an agent of reality in a world that still lacks reality, meaning the genuine basis of what is our true spiritual identity. This is beyond politics or a violent revolution against the typical establishment construct, or anything like that. But it is working to bring in a new dimension, a higher consciousness, and a loftier awareness of who and what we are. It is like the saying by George Orwell: In a time of deceit, telling the truth itself becomes a revolutionary act. In this way, in this age of Kali-yuga, a time when the basis of most business transactions, politics, or relations in general is deceit and dishonesty, becoming truthful enough to speak the deeper truth of spiritual reality and following Vedic Dharma itself becomes revolutionary.

Of course, “revolution” is a word which invokes many images or ideas. But in the sense in which we are speaking, it has nothing to do with promoting some kind of uprising against the present establishment, government, dictators, or the like. It is much more refined. It is an internal quest of an individual to reach one’s real identity as a spiritual being and then assist others in doing the same. It is a matter of reaching the ultimate freedom a person can attain. Only after becoming truly free can a person help others also become free. You cannot free others if you are tied up or confined in the same trap of ego and ego-based conceptions that are promoted and perpetuated in much of society. In the end truth prevails, thus the main endeavor of a Dharmic leader is to never stop finding the ways to present the real truth and meaning of the deepest spiritual knowledge, which is the Vedic philosophy, for this is what can overcome all obstacles in time. Therefore, Dharmic leaders must operate on many different levels and help others in many different ways.

Therefore, Dharmic leaders and Agents of Reality are:

  1. Always working to be in touch with their higher spiritual realizations and perceptions. A Dharmic leader, teacher or guide always makes sure that he works on his own spiritual development in order to stay in touch with the spiritual dimension. That is his foundation, his inspiration, and the basis for his insights and his motivation in helping all others. Without that he knows that he cannot be free enough to lead others to the same freedom.
  2. A Dharmic leader must know how to free others from being a prisoner of the false aims and perspectives that are commonplace in materialistic life. Because a true Dharmic leader has a connection with the spiritual realm through his own spiritual development, he naturally wants to give the same to others, and works for that purpose. This kind of freedom cannot be fully appreciated until it is experienced. And that is the object of everything that a Dharmic leader does. Through this process, a Dharmic leader works to help free others from the illusions, the bodily concept of life, and find the ways to deliver the higher perception of the purpose of life in a way that others can understand. This must include everyone so that no one is left behind. Thus, he lives for the benefit of others.

As Dharmic leaders, we are trying to free others from this limited dimension of existence and bring them to a higher level of spiritual reality, at least for those who are acceptable to it. Here the material existence is like a temporary dream from which we need to awaken and of which to be free, and we must know how to maneuver our way through it.

  1. A leader also has to fully understand the importance of the Vedic spiritual knowledge and its culture, follow it appropriately, and show by example how others can also benefit from it.
  2. A Dharmic leader must also be properly educated in the Vedic spiritual knowledge and to work to spread that genuine spiritual information and culture for everyone’s well-being. When questioned about Vedic philosophy and culture, he must know how to answer with an equipoised mind and with proper responses. He must know how to deal with practical issues, both in the temples and how they operate and are managed, and also in regard to social issues, like casteism, caring for the poor, dealing with discrimination, and other matters that are often found in India.

He must know how to educate others so that they also understand, in whatever way is best for them, the importance of this information and how to apply it to their lives. It cannot be given in a way that appears overly lofty, impractical or too unapproachable by the average person. The point is that if a person does not understand this knowledge, they will never be able to remember it, and if they cannot remember it, they will never be able to apply it to their lives. Thus, the importance of receiving this spiritual knowledge from a Dharmic leader who has the cultivated knowledge from proper references and is also experienced or realized and knows how to explain it in practical terms is most important.

Furthermore, Dharmic leaders must know how to explain the customs and their purpose to others, not merely go through the rituals without describing the reasons for them or what is going on. He must be able to explain the objective of the rituals and the benefits of performing them so that people comprehend their purpose. Otherwise, if such rituals do not make sense, or if people do not appreciate their purpose, soon they will be given up and forgotten.

  1. A Dharmic leader must not be afraid to be inventive and look at and try to use new ways to infuse the message of Vedic Dharma that can be fun, enjoyable and entertaining for both the young and old in order to invoke their desire to learn more. There are so many ways to do this. Otherwise, the message can seem to get old and boring, and then people lose interest. Another problem with many Hindus is that they think they already know all they need to know, and there is no longer any reason to learn, study, or take guidance. But when it comes time for them to explain the Vedic culture to someone else, they are at a loss for what to do. This means that, if they cannot even remember enough to repeat or present to others, then actually they have a long way to go, but may refuse to admit it. A Dharmic leader, however, can even invent new ways of teaching the message, while maintaining the proper and traditional standards. The fact is that there will need to be new variations in the approach of teaching it for each succeeding generation to make it interesting.
  2. A true Dharmic leader knows that all religions are not the same. Dharmic leaders must understand the profound and deep nature of the Vedic philosophy and not resort to some wimpy idea that all religions are the same. They are not, and you will know that if you seriously study each one. They all take you to different levels of consciousness and understanding of who you are, the purpose of life and the universe, what is God, what is the soul, and so on. Some consist mostly of moralistic principles and rules for living, and hardly touch the higher principles of deep spiritual realization. Others are more like forced dogmas which must not be questioned too much, whereas the Vedic system is to guide a person to their own ability to perceive their spiritual identity and the higher dimension, not to merely depend on blind faith. Thus, all religions are not the same, and a Dharmic leader must know how to distinguish the differences between them.
  3. Dharmic leaders understand the need to bring in the spiritual energy and infinite love that is so essential for us to become complete while living in a world that is increasingly ruled and controlled by the darkness of materialism and all the negative qualities that come with it, such as anger, jealousy, envy, prejudice, competition, hatred, etc. Infinite love is the love coming from the Supreme Being. We must be clear mediums through which that love may come so that it can be received and experienced by others.
  4. A Dharmic leader will also help free others from false or misleading political views and its corruption, and from sham economic strategies and promises that are often promoted by the agents of this ignorance that misleads the general masses in a way that benefits the few for profit and power at the expense of the many. This is part of the false aims of life that distract one from the spiritual goals that are the real purpose of human existence.

We need to work to set up a life of simplicity as an alternative to the oncoming crisis of peak oil, water shortages, environmental collapse, or other economic or political disasters, the likes of which few are working to prevent. However, if a Dharmic leader becomes successful at receiving large donations of money or land, he shows the proper example by using it for the highest good to help others both spiritually and materially, while he lives a simple life. This leads to the next point:

  1. Any Dharmic leader must be beyond suspicion of inappropriate activities or association. They must act in such a way to be free from any rumors or the appearance of any improprieties.

Especially if one is wearing saffron, which is the color of renunciation, he must be free from the association of women. (If such a leader is a woman, then she must be free from unnecessary association with men.) A person wearing saffron should never be alone with a woman. That is the proper etiquette, but also because there may be those who are simply looking for a reason to spread accusations, or who try to bring an important person in the Vedic community down and ruin his or her reputation, influence, position, or life, which thus reflects back on the culture or tradition he represents in negative ways. Therefore, Dharmic leaders must be pure in all of their actions so that they do not become vulnerable to false appearances and so that they may lead by example.

Nonetheless, a Dharmic leader knows the spiritual equality between the sexes, that both men and women are spiritual beings inside different material bodies that are like various costumes or appearances. He realizes and knows the different roles that they can play in family life, temple management, and the importance of women role models in the community and in temples. But he also knows he must never exploit others or use his position to his advantage, and, thus, is never seen in situations that can be controversial, or become food for rumors. He must be beyond suspicion of any kind.

  1. Dharmic leaders must know how to collaborate with those who are from various Vedic affiliations so they can all work together to achieve the protection and preservation and practice of the Dharma. Then we can join together as one unit by using each other’s various experiences and talents for reaching something extraordinary.

In this way, unity amongst other Dharmists is also extremely important because there is strength in numbers. And the more who work together, the more force there is for the preservation and proper promotion or defense of the Vedic culture from those who try to unnecessarily criticize it or even try to bring about its extinction. The more we work together, the easier everything becomes.

Therefore, collaborating with the larger community, and with other Vedic organizations, temples, etc., and working with the power of the collective as opposed to small groups, much more can be accomplished. Dharmists in general must let go of their ego and show how to work together. The entire Vedic community, when working in a united way, can more effectively help pass laws, institute changes to suite their needs, get the attention of politicians, and show that their vote can and will make a difference. That will provide much more influence when dealing with local government agencies. This can also help provide assistance for the whole community in times of need. Working with the collective with proper leadership will always show much more efficiency, power, and speed at getting things done than merely working alone or as only one temple or one small group.

  1. A Dharmic leader must be able to delegate duties and activities to others who are also enthused to participate in working for Sanatana-dharma. Such people can then become enlivened to continue in their work and endeavors with confidence.

In this regard, a Dharmic leader must also know how to enhance the Hindu/Vedic Community through the temples. This means to understand the importance of uniting the community with festivals, holidays, customs, and through the performance of seva. This seva or service that can be performed by other Dharmists in the community can include helping manage the temple, serving the deities in the temples, providing the means for making the temples more effective and useful to the community, and so on. Community services, such as health fairs, or prasada and food distribution, distribution of clothes to the needy, or so many other programs, can be parts of that seva in the mood of service.

Dharmic leaders must know how to coordinate activities for the protection and promotion of the Dharma, whether it is writing letters, establishing promotional campaigns, doing radio shows, television programs, or producing videos, newsletters, websites, and so on. Each leader may not know all of the ways or details to do each endeavor, but he should know how to coordinate and inspire those who do in order for everyone to work in unity for the ultimate goal.

In this way, a Dharmic leader should recognize and unite people around a common set of Vedic values, concepts and traditions that can be the universal uniting factors between all Hindus or Dharmists.

  1. A Dharmic leader must also know that many people everywhere are looking for a higher level of spiritual perception and experience, but they simply do not always know where to look. This may include Indians and westerners alike. Many are those who are looking for deeper spiritual knowledge to which they can feel a stronger connection, and many are those who become attracted to the Vedic spiritual path once they know what it is and learn more about it. It is not proper for Hindus to feel that they are some exclusive group that few others can join. Such an attitude is but a prescription for a slow extinction of Vedic culture, at least in this world. Sanatana-dharma includes everyone as spiritual beings. So a Dharmic leader provides the means and openness so others, meaning non-Dharmists, can learn about the Vedic tradition, its spiritual knowledge, temple rituals and customs, or even attend yoga classes, instruction on meditation, temple festivals, and so on, to see what it has to offer, and how it may assist them in their own spiritual progress, or even bring them a deeper level of joy and happiness. There have been many instances when such people have taken a strong attraction to the Vedic culture to lend much support to other Dharmists and the tradition itself, or who have fully taken it up in their lives and now recognize themselves as Hindus or Dharmists. Such access has often lead to greater degrees of harmony and understanding with the local community.

From this mind-set, from this perception, and from the infinite love that manifests in a true Dharmic leader’s heart, comes the attitude as summarized by the phrase “No Hindu left behind.” No Dharmist or devotee should be left behind. A true Dharmic leader will feel this in the core of his heart. He knows that he is merely mirroring the love of God to all others in the life he leads and in the actions he performs, and in the love and patience he shows to everyone. He is concerned for all living entities, but especially for those who are already following the Dharmic path. Thus, it is in his heart where he feels that no Hindu can be left behind. There is space for everyone, just as there is space for everyone in the spiritual world. No one can be left behind. Everyone is a part of the whole, the Complete. We merely have to awaken that completeness within ourselves. When everyone shares this vision, when it is shared amongst the whole community, that community becomes extremely powerful. When everyone is imbibed with such spiritual unity, concerned for the welfare of all, then the spiritual vibration is no longer something to acquire but it is something to witness, to experience, and to bring together through all like-minded people who work in that unity to expand that spiritual vibration, that higher energy that exists within us all.

The key to this love is in everyone, but a Dharmic leader knows how to draw it out and provide the means for everyone to focus on it and perceive it as their own ultimate value, self-worth, and their own offering to God and the community. Everyone in the Vedic community must see all others as Dharmic brothers and sisters who are eligible to make the same spiritual progress as anyone else.

No Hindu left behind. Actually, we do not want to leave anyone out. That means everyone is eligible to enter the temple, everyone is eligible to participate in the rituals, the sadhana or spiritual practice, and the core identity of being a Hindu, Dharmist and devotee. Everyone should feel they have a place and are valued and have something to contribute. This is the basis of enthusiasm, which everyone should feel. This is the power a united Dharmic community. When this is established, it creates a most positive atmosphere in all who participate, it creates a very positive future, and it creates a winning team in which many others will want to join. Who would not be attracted? Everyone wants to be in a warm and loving environment, and there is no reason why Hindus cannot create that for the whole community. And if someone cannot accept this, if someone cannot see the unity that we all share spiritually on the Vedic path, then they have not yet understood the basic Vedic principles of Sanatana-dharma. It means that they are still in the illusion, they are in the depths of maya. Yet, no one should be left in such a condition. Everyone should be taught and shown how to raise their own vision, consciousness and spiritual perception of who they are and the spiritual unity they share with everyone else. We must raise everyone up to higher and higher levels of consciousness, higher and higher levels of perception. Then we all become very powerful in our ability to change this world, and bring in the spiritual vibration for one and all. That is the purpose of the Vedic philosophy and its peaceful and joyful traditions.

With that ideal of no sincere Hindu left behind, the Dharmic leader knows how to instill the unity for everyone to take a stand, to defend and preserve the Vedic culture and all who participate in it. The usual apathy amongst Hindus is what must be given up and cast aside as we all gather momentum to make sure we all have our freedom to follow the principles, the customs, and the traditions of the Vedic path well into the future.

Isn’t this worth working for? Isn’t this worth fighting for? What else is the purpose of life other than to benefit the spiritual well-being of others?

  1. Finally, a Dharmic leader must create the means so that others can become future Dharmic leaders. It is not enough to be a leader, but such a person must also encourage and provide the means, the example and inspiration for others to become Dharmic leaders. We all grow old and eventually leave this world. So there must be those who are younger, who are trained, educated, experienced, and inspired to take up the cause and the position as a new Dharmic leader who can also work to preserve, protect and promote the Vedic tradition well into the future.

Naturally, not everyone may have the qualities, characteristics, or even inclination to be a Dharmic leader, but everyone can instead be a “Vedic Ambassador,” for which there is also a huge need. Everyone can join forces in the ranks of being a Vedic Ambassador, and all work together to show the benefits and advantages we all had the fortune to acquire through the practice and development of the Vedic tradition in our lives. How to do this is easy, and has been described in my article, “A Call to be Vedic Ambassadors,” which can be found on my website at www.stephen-knapp.com.

Dharma Rakshati Rakshitah, and Jai Sri Krishna.

WHAT WE SHOULD BE THANKFUL FOR ABOUT INDIA, By Stephen Knapp

    Recently I read some reports on a conference in which India’s history was discussed with the conclusion that there is little reason to be proud of India’s past 1000 years for what some people call the enslavement by invaders. But I have a different view.

Of course, we know and recognize that India has been attacked and in many ways dominated over the past 1000 years by invaders of all kinds. It has cost India millions of lives and the loss of the great esteem that India had been known for. But now things have changed. We do not have to live in those memories, nor base India’s identity on those times. We can be thankful for the tolerance, durability, perseverance, and flexibility that India and its people are known for, and that the culture of India still exists, and the intellectual character of its society is not only still intact but is blossoming now more than ever.

It was only a matter of becoming free again from the dominance of outsiders, those invaders and the exploitation they imposed on India’s people and its resources, to finally allow India to again flex its intellectual wings to become a major force with which the world must recognize and engage and reciprocate. As we can see, even India’s economy is surpassing the economy of England, which was one of India’s dominating forces for a few centuries. It was only a matter of time when India’s superior culture and the ingenuity and intellectual capacity of India’s people would again shine forth.

Therefore, I say there is much to be thankful for to be where India is now. But there are lessons we need to remember. India needs to remember that one of the prime reasons for the last 1000 years of attacks and dominance by outsiders was the lack of unity among the princely states to defend themselves from the invaders. When the Muslims first entered India, they were repelled. By they returned with a bigger force and cut through. But if other princely states would have joined in to help, they could have easily fought off the invading forces. But that did not happen. So, one by one, the princely states were attacked and defeated, which lead to the domination over India by outsiders for so many years. This should not be allowed to happen again.

Other lessons we should learn is to make sure we do not become apathetic to the need to defend India’s culture. Apathy is one of the most dangerous symptoms that allows you to be defeated by those who hate you or want to exploit you. Secondly, the divisions among the Indians should be viewed as superficial, and not very relevant to the ongoing existence of the  cooperation and respect we need to show each other for our future development. Thirdly, the secular media, when secular in many cases means to be anti-Hindu or even anti-India, needs to be recognized as a major challenge to our unity and to the future well-being of India and its people. To have a press which amplifies or magnifies anything that can be interpreted as anti-Hindu is obviously working against the very culture and vibrancy and unity of Indian society.

India was one of the greatest and most developed and wealthiest countries in the world, and gave the planet inventions and developments for which the world enjoys the fruits of today. These were such inventions as in metals, textiles, medicine, surgery, rhinoplasty, and mathematics, and on and on, which were way ahead of the rest of society, and without which the world would be devoid of many of the developments that came from these inventions. (Anyone can read more about these in my book, “Advancements of Ancient India’s Vedic Culture.”) Furthermore, we should recognize how the Vedic philosophy and its spiritual understanding and the wisdom of India’s great rishis and sages were so well accepted and respected that it influenced many other cultures throughout the world. (Anyone can read my books “Proof of Vedic Culture’s Global Existence” and “Mysteries of the Ancient Vedic Empire” for lots more information on this point of view.) As a foreigner, I constantly count my blessings that I came across the Vedic philosophy and culture of India.

So, now that India is again free to chart its own course and destiny, Indians should be proud of what it has offered in the past and use that as a sign of what it can offer in the future.

However, we should dedicate ourselves to what works now. We can see how well India gave contributions to society in the past, but also how the invaders interfered with India’s continued progress, because if the last 1000 years of slavery, as some call it, did not happen, who knows how much farther ahead in progress India might be today. So, we should also reject those foreign influences that have the power to be a hindrance to what India and its people were and what they are today. We should reject the foreign influences and recognize the way they slaughtered so many Indians and destroyed so many of its temples, and forcefully converted so many people, and imposed such events as the horrible Goan Inquisition, and still today inflict the feeling and politics of division. (My book, “Crimes Against India” describes much more of this history.)

We should reject those cultures or religions that are outrightly opposed to Vedic and Indian values, or that have a history of slaughtering millions of Indians or destroying thousands of temples, or forcefully converting people to foreign or invader’s religions. If they have had such little respect and so much disdain for us in the past, that is not likely to change any time soon. They may, in fact, simply look at what they do now as conducting unfinished business–the continued conquest of India.

What benefit is there to cater to these outside, anti-Indian and anti-Hindu forces and organizations? At the time of this writing, the ex-CM of Mizoram wants to declare it as a Christian country that should separate from India. How many more times is this going to be allowed to happen?

We should also reject things like communism and see it as an outside force that does not and has never worked, and which in India is now only a distraction in its attempted implementation.

Am I proposing nationalism? No. I am only proposing that India depend on what actually works, what actually benefits all of India as a people. And we can find that what actually produced the higher consciousness, intellectual capability, flexibility, etc., is what had always been a part of India’s Vedic lifestyle and culture.

That does not mean we reject everything that comes from the west or outside of India. We can take whatever actually benefits India. But we take the best and leave the rest. Nonetheless,  we should use the proven formulas of what comes from India, what we know works best for India.

Actually, India should try to become as self-sufficient as possible, especially agriculturally, technologically and philosophically.. That is what India was over 1000 years ago, which attracted so many people, including all of its invaders, to come to India. But if India becomes more self-sufficient, then whatever difficulty happens to the rest of the world, India is least affected by it. It remains a contributor to the world, not a taker, and remains in control of its own destiny. The more you depend on others, the more you depend on their approval, and then their dictates. India should be above all that. This will really show the flexibility and versatility of India, which Indians should value. It’s India’s system, culture and lifestyle that has protected it all these years, and that is what we must be thankful for.

A good lesson in this regard is Britain. It was once a great empire, but now has become reduced to a small island. And even what is left of its own culture is gradually disappearing and changed by the inflow of immigrants into the country that are not assimilating. We need to make sure that does not happen to India. We should have learned our lessons very clearly from the last 1000 years to plan India’s destiny wisely, and for that we should be very thankful.

How Lord Krishna is the Source of all Avatars, by Stephen Knapp

In spite of the fact that everything comes from the Supreme Being, He is still aloof from it all. He does not disengage Himself from His eternal pleasure pastimes with His devotees in the spiritual realm. So, in the process of creating the material worlds, the Supreme expands Himself into various forms, which are His plenary parts. Krishna is the primeval Lord, the original Personality of Godhead, so He can expand Himself into unlimited forms with all potencies. They are no different from Him, but may exhibit differences in form.

He first expands Himself into Baladeva, or Balarama, who is considered Krishna’s second body and brother. Balarama assists in Lord Krishna’s innumerable spiritual pastimes in both the spiritual and material realms.

Lord Balarama is also Lord Sankarshana, the predominator of the creative energy. He creates and is the shelter of the material and spiritual worlds. By the will of Krishna and the power of the spiritual energy, Lord Balarama creates the spiritual world, which consists of the planet Goloka Vrindavana and the Vaikuntha planets. 1

Lord Balarama especially assists Lord Krishna in the creation of the material worlds. After Balarama has expanded Himself into Lord Maha-Sankarshana, He expands Himself into four different forms, including: 1) Karanadakashayi Vishnu [Maha-Vishnu], 2) Garbhodakashayi Vishnu [the expansion in each universe], 3) Ksirodakashayi Vishnu [the Supersoul in each individual], and 4) Sesha, also called Seshanaga. These first four plenary portions assist in the material cosmic manifestation. Sesha is Balarama’s form who assists in the Lord’s personal service. He is also called Ananta, meaning unlimited, because He assists the Lord in His unlimited variety of pastimes. 2

* * *

To explain more clearly, all expansions of the Lord begin with Sri Krishna. For His pastimes in one of the highest levels of the spiritual realm, called Dvaraka, Sri Krishna expands Himself into Balarama, who then expands Himself into Pradyumna and Aniruddha. These four expand into a second quadruple which is present in the unlimited Vaikuntha planets of the spiritual sky. The second quadruple is known as Vasudeva, Sankarshana, Pradyumna and Aniruddha. They are changeless, transcendental expansions of the Supreme Lord, Krishna. In this second quadruple, Vasudeva is an expansion of Krishna, and Sankarshana is a representation of Balarama.

In the Vaikuntha sky there is the pure, spiritual creative energy called Shuddha-sattva that sustains all of the spiritual planets with the full opulences of knowledge, wealth, power, beauty, etc., all of which pervade the entire spiritual kingdom and are fully enjoyed by the residents there. This energy is but a display of the creative potencies of Balarama, Maha-Sankarshana. It is also this Sankarshana who is the original cause of the Causal Ocean where Karanodakashayi Vishnu (Maha-Vishnu) sleeps, while breathing out the seeds of innumerable universes. When the cosmic creation is annihilated, all of the materially conditioned, although indestructible, living entities merge back into the body of Maha-Vishnu where they rest until the time of the next creation. So, Balarama as Sankarshana is the origin of Maha-Vishnu, from whom originates all of the potencies of the material manifestation. 3

So, to summarize, for His spiritual pastimes in the Vaikuntha realm, Lord Krishna has four original expansions, namely Vasudeva, Sankarshana, Pradyumna and Aniruddha. Maha-Vishnu is an expansion of Sankarshana; Garbhodakashayi Vishnu is an expansion of Pradyumna; and Ksirodakashayi Vishnu is an expansion of Aniruddha. 4

* * *

To begin explaining the purpose and function of these expansions, the Srimad-Bhagavatam (2.6.42) describes that, “Maha-Vishnu (Karanadakashayi Vishnu) is the first incarnation of the Supreme Lord in the process of creating the material worlds. He is the master of eternal time, space, cause and effects, mind, elements, material ego, the modes of nature, senses, the universal form of the Lord (Garbhodakashayi Vishnu) and the sum total of all living beings, both moving and nonmoving.”

Then Maha-Vishnu lies down in the Viraja River, which is the border between the spiritual and material worlds. 5

Lord Maha-Vishnu is the source of thousands of avataras in His thousands and thousands of subjective portions. He is the creator of countless individual souls. He is also known by the name of Narayana, meaning the shelter of all the individual jiva souls. From Him springs forth the vast expanse of water known as the spiritual Causal Ocean. Maha-Vishnu then reclines in the waters of the Causal Ocean in a state of divine sleep, called yoga-nidra. Thus, it is said that the universal creation is but the dream of Maha-Vishnu. 6

Since the waters of the Causal Ocean, known as the Karana Ocean, come from the body of Maha-Vishnu, it is completely spiritual. The sacred Ganges is but a drop from that ocean, which can purify the fallen souls. 7

Lord Balarama also expands into the great serpent known as Ananta, or Seshanaga. He reposes on the Causal Ocean and serves as the couch upon whom Lord Maha-Vishnu reclines. 8

That Ananta-Sesha is the devotee incarnation of God who knows nothing but service to Lord Krishna. With His thousands of mouths He always sings the endless glories of Lord Krishna. He also expands Himself to serve as Lord Krishna’s paraphernalia, including such items as the umbrella, slippers, bedding, pillow, garments, resting chair, residence, sacred gayatri thread, and throne in the pastimes of Lord Krishna. Thus, He has attained and exhibits the ultimate end of servitude to Lord Krishna. 9
At the time of creation, after the Supreme has been sleeping for some time, the first emanation from the breathing of Lord Maha-Vishnu are the personified Vedas who serve Him by waking Him from His mystic sleep. They begin to enthusiastically sing His glories, pastimes, and praises, just as a King is awaken in the morning by poets who recite his heroic deeds. 10 This shows the eternal nature of the Vedic literature. They are not merely the writings of men, but they are spiritual vibrations that exist before and after the material creation, and which emanate from the Supreme Lord.

Once the Lord is awoken, He casts His glance upon the material energy of maya. Then she becomes agitated. At that time the Lord injects the original seeds of all living entities. This glance is how the Supreme impregnates material nature with all the living entities. Thus, the Lord does not personally touch the material energy, but by His functional expansion He places the living entities into the material nature by His glance. 11 This functional expansion of the Lord takes the form as Shiva, which will be explained later.

After agitating material nature into three qualities, which are the modes of nature in the form of passion, goodness, and ignorance, they become active and material nature begins to give birth to the total material energy known as the hiranya-mahat-tattva. This is the sum total of cosmic intelligence. Thus, material nature becomes agitated by the destinations of the conditioned souls as determined by the influence of the modes of nature. 12

Simply by the glance of Maha-Vishnu consciousness is created, which is known as the mahat-tattva. The predominating Deity of the mahat-tattva is Lord Vasudeva, another expansion of Lord Krishna. This explains how the material energy is like the mother of the living beings while the Lord is the Supreme Father of everyone. Just as a woman cannot give birth without the contact of a man, or at least his seed, so material nature cannot create without the contact of the Supreme Being.

So, first the total material energy is manifest, and from this arise the three types of egotism, which are the original sources of all the demigods [the minor controlling deities], the senses, and material elements. By combining the different elements, the Supreme Lord creates all of the unlimited universes. Once the material elements have been manifested, and the full potential for creating the universes has been established, the innumerable universes begin to emanate from the pores of the body of Maha-Vishnu, and from His exhalations. They appear just like atomic particles that float in sunshine and pass through a screen. When Maha-Vishnu inhales at the time of the universal annihilation, they return to His body. In this way, Maha-Vishnu is the Supersoul of all the universes. 13

Brahma, the demigods, and each universe remain alive for the duration of one of His exhalations. 14 However, there is no limit to the exhalations of Maha-Vishnu. 15

Once all of the universes are created, which are unlimited, Maha-Vishnu expands Himself into unlimited forms and enters each universe as Garbhodakashayi Vishnu. Once He is in each universe, He sees that there is no place to reside. Then, after some consideration, He fills half of the universe with water from His own perspiration. He then lays down on the water, again supported by the bed of Seshanaga. 16

Garbhodakashayi Vishnu, who is known within the universe as Hiranyagarbha and Antaryami, the Supersoul, is glorified in the Vedic hymns. He is the master of each and every universe and shelter of the external or material energy. However, being transcendental, He is completely beyond the touch of the external energy.

Next is the third expansion of Vishnu, called Ksirodakashayi Vishnu, who is the incarnation of the quality of goodness. He is the universal form of the Lord and expands Himself as the Supersol within every living entity. He is known as Ksirodakashayi Vishnu because He lies on the ocean of milk on the island of Svetadvipa. These are the three expansions of Lord Vishnu who oversee and make the creation of the material world possible. 17

In this way, we can see how all of the expansions of the Lord, and also all of His energies that are manifested to bring forth the cosmic creation, all originate from Lord Krishna. Therefore, the reason why Lord Krishna is considered the ninth incarnation is only because this is the order in which He displays His avatars before He displays His own pastimes. Basically, if we can further understand this description, everything is but a pastime of the Lord.

A few additional verses that clarify this topic include the 3rd chapter of the 1st Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam which describes the principle incarnations of the Supreme Lord. Having done that, verse 28 says:

ete camsha-kalah pumsah
krsnas tu bhagavan svayam
indrari-vyakulam lokam
mridayanti yuge yuge

“All of the above-mentioned incarnations are either plenary portions or portions of the plenary portions of the Lord, but Lord Sri Krishna is the original Personality of Godhead. All of them appear on planets whenever there is a disturbance created by the atheists. The Lord incarnates to protect the theists.”
Also in Brahma Samhita (5.1) Lord Brahma says:

isvarah paramah krishnah sac-cid-ananda-vigrahah
anadir adir govindah sarva-karana-karanam

“Krishna who is known as Govinda is the Supreme Godhead. He has an eternal blissful spiritual body. He is the origin of all. He has no other origin and He is the prime cause of all causes.”
In this way, the Vedic literature agrees that Krishna is the source of Brahma, Shiva and all other demigods. In the Atharva Veda (Gopala-tapani Upanishad 1.24) it is said, yo brahmanam vidadhati purvam yo vai vedamsh cha gapayati sma krishnah: “It was Krishna who in the beginning instructed Brahma in Vedic knowledge and who disseminated Vedic knowledge in the past.”
Then the Narayana Upanishad (1) says, atha purusho ha vai narayano kamayata prajah srijeyeti: “Then the Supreme Personality Narayana desired to create living entities.” The Upanishad continues, narayanad brahma jayate, narayanad prajapatih prajayate, narayanad indro jayate, narayanad ashtau vasavo jayante, narayanad ekadasha rudra jayante, narayanad dvadashadityah: “From Narayana, Brahma is born, and from Narayana the patriarchs are also born. From Narayana, Indra is born, from Narayana the eight Vasus are born, from Narayana the eleven Rudras are born, from Narayana the twelve Adityas are born.”
This Narayana is an expansion of Krishna as previously explained.
It is further said in the Narayana Upanishad 4, brahmanyo devaki-putrah: “The son of Devaki, Krishna, is the Supreme Personality.”
In the Moksha-dharma Sri Krishna Himself says,

prajapatim cha rudram chapy aham eva srijami vai
tau hi mam na vijanito mama maya-vimohitau

“The patriarchs, Shiva and others are created by Me, though they do not know that they are created by Me because they are deluded by My illusory energy.”
Lord Brahma continues to pray and explains in his Brahma Samhita (5.46) how the potency in Krishna’s expansions spreads from one form to another:

diparchir eva hi dashantaram abhyupetya
dipayate vivrita-hetu-samana-dharma
yas tadrig eva hi cha vishnutaya vibhati
govindam adi-purusham tam aham bhajami

“The light of one candle being communicated to other candles, although it burns separately in them, is the same in its quality. I adore the primeval Lord Govinda who exhibits Himself equally in the same mobile manner in His various manifestations.”
Thus, the Vedic knowledge clearly accepts Sri Krishna (Govinda) as the original independent causeless fountainhead of all of His various personality manifestations known as the various Vishnu avataras (forms/personalities).

CHAPTER NOTES
1. Chaitanya-caritamrita, Madhya-lila, 20.255-6
2. Ibid., Adi-lila, 5.4-6, 8-11
3. Ibid., Adi-lila, 5.41 & purport
4. Ibid., Adi-lila, 2.56, purport
5. Ibid., Madhya-lila, 20.268-271
6. Brahma-samhita, 5.11-12
7. Chaitanya-caritamrita, Adi-lila, 5.54
8. Brahma-samhita, 5.47
9. Chaitanya-caritamrita, Madhya-lila, 5.120-124
10. Srimad-Bhagavatam, 10.87.12-13
11. Chaitanya-caritamrita, Madhya-lila, 20.272
12. Srimad-Bhagavatam, 3.26.19
13. Chaitanya-caritamrita, Madhya-lila, 20.275-282
14. Brahma-samhita, 5.48
15. Chaitanya-caritamrita, Madhya-lila, 20.324
16. Ibid., Madhya-lila, 20.284-6
17. Ibid., Madhya-lila, 20.292, 294-5

[More information found at: http://www.stephen-knapp.com]

Adding Innovation, Wisdom and Holistic Human Development to Our Universities, by Stephen Knapp

(Written for my presentation at the World Parliament of Science, Religion and Philosophies in Pune, India, October, 2018)

A long time ago, back when I was about 20 years old, and when I had already been studying such books as the Bhagavad-gita, the Upanishads, and other Vedic texts of India, I saw an article in my local paper by the principle of my local high school in which he said that when students come to school, they should already have an understanding of what they want to accomplish and what they want to get out of their education. When I saw this, I thought it was rather odd, because is not that what education is supposed to give you, the understanding of who and what you are, and how to reach your highest potential? But if the principle says that he expects the student should already have such insight before he or she arrives at school, this would seem to mean that there must be some kind of supplemental education that the student should have before he goes to school.

So I wrote a long letter to the editor of our local newspaper pointing this out, that there must be some kind of preliminary education that would provide the student with such insight. Otherwise, if he does not get that from school, from where is he expected to acquire such understanding? So, I mentioned that books like the Bhagavad-gita in the Vedic tradition could provide some of these insights, if people would take advantage of it.

However, some would say that this is spiritual knowledge, or even religious information, and how is that supposed to be provided in schools that are meant to be completely secular? The point is, as mentioned in the Sri Ishopanishad (Mantra Eleven), that to reach perfection in life, one must learn material knowledge side by side with spiritual knowledge. It is not enough to learn some craft or trade skills to make a living, but a person must also know the purpose of life and why we are here and who we are.

When we forget or do not know who we are, we also lose sight of the moral standards we need to accumulate to develop ourselves into decent and law abiding citizens, human beings who can make a substantial and uplifting contribution to the community and the world at large. Instead, we may fall to the platform of only trying to live at whatever cost, even if it is by trying to take advantage of others, rather than trying to better ourselves along with everyone else.

In this light, when I’m traveling and lecturing about the traditions of India, it is not uncommon that some people will ask me why there is often so much corruption, cheating and bribery in India. I often tell them that the fact is that people are forgetting their own culture, their own traditions of moral standards that the Dharmic principles are meant to teach them. In fact, it is often said that the problems you find in India are caused by India’s religion. But actually, wherever I go I find that it is not the case at all, but it is the result of forgetting, the distancing from, and the misinterpretation of the Vedic tradition that leaves the gaps in society and in the character of humanity that cause the problems of which we see so much.

The fact is that if we really understood and followed the culture that is the legacy and inheritance of this country, many of the social problems we see would simply disappear. Therefore, we need to continue to teach our children the basic principles of moral standards and character building that India’s Vedic tradition promotes. So, my advice was that we need to continue to spread the understanding of the Vedic Dharma traditions in order to show the proper example of truly noble character, not only in the teachings in such traditions, but by the example of the great character of the personalities and heroes that are described in the great epics of India.

Actually, I also put this question about the corruption of India to M. Rama Jois, the retired Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court when I had met him on one of my tours while visiting Bengaluru several years ago. He had written a book called “Dharma: The Global Ethic.” In this book, he shows the many ways in which Vedic Dharma is not a religious teaching, but a moralistic code that can provide advice for people of all standings, and in all kinds of situations, and especially for the children which can use a standard of insight that they can take with them for the rest of their lives. He also showed, as I also say, that present-day problems are due to the neglect of Dharma. And that with Vedic Dharma, there would be a reduction of evil, confusion in society, the propensity for selfish motives and cruelty to others, and how an orderly society is an incarnation and manifestation of Dharma, and how Dharma does not mean religion, which is the means of worshiping God. But Dharma is a code of living by good conduct, respect for the law and our traditions, and the means to sustain society and the world, and propel them to a higher grade of living and refined consciousness. Without that, we can see what is happening.

Dharma is conformity with the truth of things, while adharma or vice is the opposition to it. On a national, ethnic, or racial level, Dharma is an instrument of unity, not divisiveness. That which helps unite everyone and develop love and universal brotherhood is Dharma. That which causes discord or disharmony or provokes hatred is adharma.

Dharma is also said to be the force which maintains the universe. Where there is Dharma there is harmony and balance individually, socially, and inter‑galactically. So the path of Dharma brings about the harmony and contentment that is also another aspect of what we are seeking. In this way, we want harmony inwardly, in our own consciousness, but we also cannot have individual peace unless there is harmony or cooperation socially, among the masses. So, where there is no Dharma, there is disharmony and a state of being that is out of balance. And socially it means that without Dharma, there is a lack of cooperation, along with escalating quarrel, fighting, corruption, and dishonesty.

When we act against the law of Dharma, we disrupt the very harmony and cooperation that we want. In other words, we create a life for ourselves in which there is stress, confusion, discontent, and frustration. And when we feel that way, that becomes our contribution to the general social condition. It is the exact opposite of what we wish to attain. Thus, to live a life outside of Dharma means to work against ourselves.

Rama Jois explained to me that years ago, before India’s independence, it was common that children would be taught before they went to school about the moral standards and character of the heroes of Vedic culture. Sometimes the schools also would include the Dharmic teachings to imbibe in children the character and principles of being a good and decent human being, and, thus, also a good student, which the children would then take with them for the rest of their lives.

Unfortunately, once India became independent it also became a secular nation, which meant that all such early teaching about human development, and moral standards based on the heroes and characters within the Vedic epics of India, could no longer be taught in schools or any government affiliated institution. It was considered religious teachings, and therefore was not allowed. With this, as M. Rama Jois explained, came the distancing of the youth from the Vedic culture and the high moral standards that went with it. And from this came the ever-increasing corruption that has infected much of the country.

These days, only through private schools, or in families that teach the Vedic culture, or I have also seen families who hold weekend classes in such topics for the neighborhood children, do the youth still learn of this type of knowledge that helps instill in them pride in their heritage and the principles of high moral standards, and the means to acquire insights into character-building for their own development, either before they go to school or even after they have already started their education. On the other hand, if secularism means a state without Dharma, then we will see a lawless state, a lawless country. Surely, the Indian constitution did not mean that we become a State of Adharma. Dharma regulated the mutual obligations and what is beneficial for individuals and society. Therefore, it was stressed that the protection of Dharma was in the interest of both the individual and the society. And the best way to protect it is to train youngsters in Dharma from the beginning of their lives.

Therefore, the concluding point I am making is that the basis of knowledge, wisdom and holistic human development is to not only offer the necessary classes in material studies, sciences and skills, but to include the basis of human refinement that has been a part of India’s traditions since time immemorial, which includes that of Dharmic studies. Such could and should be part of the curriculum, or extra-curricular classes that students could take. This would transform India’s universities into true centers of innovation, wisdom, ethics, holistic human development, knowledge, and balance for the student’s life. This would add to the beneficial contributions such a student would offer to their family, society and the country. This would change the direction of India, and provide an example that the rest of the world should follow.

Stephen Knapp (Author/Writer of over 40 books on various aspects of India and its Vedic culture. http://www.stephen-knapp.com)